Furor Over Ambassador Paul Bremer's Remarks at DePauw Examined in Prof. Ken Bode's Weekly Op-Ed
October 8, 2004
October 8, 2004, Greencastle, Ind. - "Before DePauw students and faculty," Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, the former presidential envoy to Iraq, was asked if he could look back and see mistakes during his time in Baghdad," writes Ken Bode in today's Indianapolis Star. "He cited two," writes Bode, Eugene S. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism at DePauw University, who was among those in attendance at Bremer's student forum on September 16. "First, he said, we never had enough troops on the ground, and noted that he should have been more insistent in his requests for more. That contributed to the second mistake, that we could not control the looting ... [which] Bremer called ... 'horrid' and said it contributed hugely to the atmosphere of lawlessness and instability."
In his weekly op-ed for the newspaper, Bode reflects on Bremer's day at DePauw, which has been the subject of international news coverage this week (read more here ). The professor's column continues, "We remember Bremer, as coalition administrator, dressed in blazer and combat boots, flanked by bodyguards with automatic weapons. At the peaceful DePauw campus, he still was accompanied by a cadre of Secret Service agents. In most of his remarks at two public sessions, he expressed support for what the administration did in Iraq. There was no evidence that Saddam had anything to do with 9/11, says Bremer, but regime change was necessary."
The former CNN senior political analyst adds that Bremer's speech contained other revelations. Bode reminds the Star's readers that Bremer stated, "With insufficient troops on the ground, we failed to close the borders, even failed to guard weapons stockpiles. We still have inadequate security in Iraq, he said, and the coalition transferred authority to the incoming Iraqi government early because we believed the insurgents would use the announced date to trigger violence. Though Bremer did not say so, we now know that another catastrophic mistake was the decision to disband the Iraqi army. That decision was made in Washington and forced on Bremer. Overnight it produced the trained, armed insurgency we now see every day."
DePauw students asked Ambassador Bremer how long U.S. forces may have to stay in Iraq, Dr. Bode recalls. "Bremer replied that it is impossible to tell. But he referenced Japan, Germany and the Philippines where we still have deployments 50 years after World War II. 'If Iraq descends into a civil war, it will become a regional war quickly,' he predicted. 'Your generation is challenged for a long term and difficult struggle,' he told the students."
In conclusion, Bode writes, "Before the war Gen. Eric Shinseki was cashiered for suggesting we had inadequate plans for troop deployment. Now Bremer is being trashed by the administration for admitting mistakes that are obvious to everyone. Everyone except Cheney. In Cheney's Through-the-Looking-Glass world, everything we've done in Iraq was right. Exactly right. In tonight's debate we will hear President Bush berate John Kerry for saying, 'Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time.' More and more, every day, Kerry's assessment sounds exactly right to me."
Source: Indianapolis StarBack