Saturday, April 07, 2007

DeBaathification of Iraq

CIP wants to know who was behind Paul Bremer's (America's Proconsul in Iraq) decisions to fire anyone who was a "senior" Baathist, to abolish the Iraqi Army, and to abolish the Iraqi police force. These decisions led to the complete unravelling of Iraqi society, and the current disastrous situation.

CIP doesn't want to purchase the book and put any dollars into Bremer's piggy bank. Nice fellow that I am, I got the book from the public library. I can't post my answer there, 'cause Haloscan is down (Why anyone chooses to use that abomination of a comment system is another question, it is a Bremer-like decision, IMO.)

Here are some quotes from the book obtained by looking at the index for "Baath Party, elimination of".

"On May 9 [2003], my last day of preparation at the Pentagon, Don Rumsfeld had given me my marching orders in a memo. Among all my other instructions, Rumsfeld's memo emphasized: "The Coalition will actively oppose Saddam Hussein's old enforcers - the Baath Party, the Fedayeen Saddam (the irregular fighters that had harassed our forces on the march to Baghdad), etc. We will make clear that the Coalition will eliminate the remnants of Saddam's regime."

That morning, Under Secretary Douglas Feith had shown me a draft order for the "De-Baathification of Iraqi Society." He had underscored the political importance of the decree. "We've got to show all the Iraqis that we're serious about building a New Iraq. And that means that Saddam's instruments of repression have no role in that new nation." Although there was no mention in the draft of the regular army, I know that Walt Slocombe, the Coalition's senior adviser for Defense and Security Affairs, had begun discussing the army's future with Feith now that it was clear the force had broken ranks and disappeared.

I had scanned the decree. General Franks had already outlawed the Baath Party in his "Freedom Message" of April 16. This more sweeping order was to rid the Iraqi government of the small group of true believers at the top of the party and those who had committed crimes in its name, and to wipe the country clean of the Baath Party's ideology.

"We're thinking of having Jay [Garner] issue the order today," Feith had said.

"Hold on a minute," I said. "I agree it's a very important step, so important that I think it should wait 'til I get there."

Feith agreed to hold off but encouraged me to issue the order as soon as possible after my arrival in Baghdad. He underscored another point in Rumsfeld's memo stating that the decree was to be carried out "...even if implementing it causes administrative inconvenience."


Our concern was only the top four levels of the party membership, which the order officially excluded from public life. These were the Baathist loyalists who, by virtue of their positions of power in the regime, had been active instruments of Saddam's repression. Our intelligence community estimated that they amounted to only about 1 percent of all party members or approximately 20,000 people, overwhelmingly Sunni Arabs.

But I realized that the "administrative inconvenience" Rumsfeld mentioned could prove a lot more than inconvenient. Senior Baathists had formed the leadership of every Iraqi ministry and military organization. By banning them from public employment, we would certainly make running the government more difficult. On the other hand, I was somewhat comforted by the knowledge that apolitical technocrats were usually the people who made organizations work."


"On May 9, 2003, the day before our departure, I sent a memo to Secretary Rumsfeld, copied to Wolfowitz, DOD's policy office and the General Counsel, summarizing these discussions [with Walt Slocombe and Paul Wolfowitz and other "top Pentagon officials"on the Iraqi army] and the tentative conclusion that we should formally dissolve Saddam's army as well as the security and intelligence services as a prelude to establishing Iraq's new security services. I attached to the memo a draft order doing that but told the secretary, "I will show the draft order to CENTCOM this weekend and send back any suggested changes."


"To launch this delicate process, we had first formally to abolish the old regime's intelligence and security services. Doing so would not send home a single soldier or disband a single unit. All that had happened weeks before. But it would formally dismantle the old power structure and signal that the fall of Saddam and the Baathists was permanent.

We carefully coordinated this critical process with the Pentagon. On May 19, I sent a memo to Secretary Rumsfeld detailing our recommendations for the dissolution of the Iraqi Defense Ministry and its "related entities", including Saddam's intelligence, security and propaganda services as well as the army, other military units, and paramilitary forces. The action, I said, would be "a critical step in our effort to destroy the underpinnings of the Saddam regime, to demonstrate to the Iraqi people that we have done so and that neither Saddam nor his gang is coming back."

I also advised Rumsfeld that we proposed to offer severance payments to hundreds of thousands of former soldiers, excluding only the most senior Baathists and intelligence and internal security types, many of whom had in any case fled the country. This meant that we would be paying people who had only weeks before been killing young Americans, but that was a cost that had to be borne. Before sending this message to the Pentagon, Slocombe and I discussed the plans with the appropriate Coalition military commanders and civilians, including McKiernan in Baghdad and CENTCOME forward headquarters in Qatar.

At the Pentagon on May 22, Feith carefully reviewed our draft order, which would formally abolish Saddam's security and intelligence services. He asked us to clarify some of the wording, which we did to his full satisfaction. My press spokesman, Dan Senor, stayed up the entire night coordinating the text of the announcement and press plans with Rumsfeld's chief of staff, Larry Di Rita. Later that day, when Rumsfeld authorized me to proceed, I informed the president of the plan in a video teleconference."