The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] Analysis: Iraqi CPA fires 28,000

      Analysis: Iraqi CPA fires 28,000

      UPI - Friday, November 21, 2003

            Date: Friday, November 21, 2003 6:40:58 PM EST By RICHARD SALE,
UPI Intelligence Correspondent

            American's top man in Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer, last week fired
28,000 Iraqi teachers as political punishment for their former membership in
the Saddam Hussein-dominated Baath Party, fueling anti-U.S. resistance on
the ground,

            administration officials have told United Press International.

            A Central Command spokesman, speaking to UPI from Baghdad,
acknowledged that the firings had taken place but said the figure of 28,000
"is too high."

            He was unable, however, after two days, to supply UPI with a
lower, revised total.

            The Central Command spokesman attributed the firings to "tough,
new anti-Baath Party measures" recently passed by the U.S.-created Iraqi
Governing Council, dominated by Ahmed Chalabi, a favorite of administration
hawks in the White House and Pentagon.

            "It's a piece of real stupidity on the part of the neocons to
try and equate the Baath Party with the Nazis," said former CIA official
Larry Johnson. "You have to make a choice: Either you are going to deal with
Iraqis who are capable of rebuilding and running the country or you're going
to turn Iraq over to

            those who can't."

            Facing a spreading insurgency, this was "not the time to turn
out into the street more recruits for the anti-U.S. insurgency," Johnson

            "It's an incredible error," said former senior CIA official and
Middle East expert Graham Fuller. "In Germany, after World War II, the
de-nazification program was applied with almost surgical precision in order
not to antagonize German public opinion. In the case of Iraq, ideologues
don't seem to grasp the seriousness of their acts."

            Administration officials told UPI that from the beginning of
Bremer's arrival in Iraq, the Bush administration has consistently misplayed
the issue of Iraq's former ruling Sunni group, most of whom were members of
the Baath, but who are also the most able and knowledgeable administrators
in the country. In addition, many able government employees joined the Baath
Party not out of any special political sympathies, but simply to attain or
retain their jobs.

            "The anti-Baath edicts, all of which are ideological nonsense,
have been an outright disaster," a State Department official said. "Whatever
happened to politics as the art of the possible?"

            "All we have done is to have alienated one of the most
politically important portions of the Iraqi population," another
administration official said.

            According to several serving and former U.S. intelligence
officials, the latest firings are only one of a series of what one State
Department official called "disastrous misjudgments." He cites, as one of
the first, how senior Pentagon officials, relying on Chalabi's advice, led
the Bush administration to believe it

            would inherit the Iraqi government bureaucracy virtually intact
at the end of the war.

            This same group ignored warnings from the internal CIA and State
Department studies about looting and general lawlessness in the event of a
U.S. victory, these sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

            In a long editorial last Sunday, the New York Times said that
the lack of U.S. preparation for a post-war Iraq was "most likely" due to
the Defense Department and the president's security advisers (believing) in
the assurance of Mr. Chalabi and other Iraqi exiles."

            Another major and disastrous decision was Bremer's order, on
arrival, to disband without pay the Iraqi military force of 400,000 men,
several of these sources said.

            A Pentagon critic of the administration said: "We spent a lot of
money on psychological operations that urged the Iraqi army to remain out of
the fight.

            "They did, and what did we do? Rewarded them by throwing them
out of work and denying them a living."

            What deeply disturbed many U.S. Iraqi experts in the State
Department and CIA was the fact the Iraqi army was a highly respected
institution in Iraq, which Saddam Hussein did not trust and used other
organizations like the Republican Guard to spy on.

            But it was disbanded in an effort to sweep aside any viable
internal leadership and to install "democrats" from Chalabi's Iraqi
Governing Council, a half-dozen former U.S. diplomats and serving
administration officials said.

            "Disbanding the army only alienated the Iraq Sunnis, who could
have been useful in restoring public services and getting the country up and
running," a State Department official said.

            Only 20 percent of the population Iraq's Sunnis are better
educated, more experienced and more unified than the Shiite majority, he
said. Since a U.S. victory would erode their position of dominance, they
were very receptive to the argument that the U.S. government needed to
utilize their expertise in order to ensure a smooth political transition.

            This, of course, did not occur, the State Department official

            Instead, under orders from Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld,
Bremer tried to get rid of former Baathists in the Iraqi government by
removing the top six layers of bureaucracy, U.S. officials said. The
decision was made on May 16.

            One of its effects of this was to re-energize Islamic militant
forces in the country, this official said, even though, "The Sunnis are a
secular force, hostile to Iran and Shiite influences, not much given to
promoting radical religious causes."

            "All you were doing were pissing off people who were armed and
had no place to go," a former senior CIA official said.

            But with the Sunnis sidelined, the Shiite, who have strong links
to Chalabi, gained in power even though leading Shiite religious parties
such as SCIRI and al-Dawa closely connected to Iranian security services.

            "I think Chalabi's group is permeated with Iranian influence,"
said former CIA counterterrorism chief Vince Cannistraro.

            A Pentagon official pointed out that Lt. Gen. Jay Garner,
Bremer's predecessor, had a much more "pragmatic" attitude. "Garner was a
guy who was willing to deal with anyone who could get something done. If he
was a Baath Party guy, fine. If he wasn't, fine. The point was could the guy
do the job?"

            British historian Tom Bower points out in his "The Pledge
Betrayed," how the Allies were forced to abandon many features of their
de-nazification programs in Germany because of the hardships they caused.
Even by February 1945, three months before the end of the war, American and
British forces were abandoning their reluctance to employ Nazis because of
the inefficiencies of such policies. "Armies rely on water, electricity and
other civilian services," Bower said. "The temporary employment of Nazis had
to be allowed."

            The Americans even decided, "The administrative machinery of
dissolved Nazi organizations may be used when necessary to provide certain
essential functions such as relief, health and sanitation, with de-nazified
personnel and facilities," Bower said.

            He concluded: "Any offer to help organize the chaos was
gratefully accepted."

            But in today's Iraq, in spite of steadily escalating attacks on
U.S. forces, the desire of the IGC to enforce political correctness produced
"incoherence, chaos and disorganization," one Pentagon official said.

            Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld even moved to get rid of 16
of 20 State Department people because they were seen to be "Arabists" --
overly sympathetic to Iraqis, U.S. government officials said.

            A former Garner team member was quoted in last week's Newsweek
as saying the vetting process for Iraqis "got so bad that even doctors sent
to restore medical services had to be anti-abortion" -- an article of faith
in the Bush administration.

            When Secretary of State Colin Powell protested directly to
Rumsfeld, he ignored Powell, the Newsweek source said.

            "We had no coherent plan or coordinated strategy for post-war
Iraq," a former senior CIA official told UPI. Instead there were "rosy
misassumptions, wishful thinking, ideological blindness."

            There is some hope, at least in the case of Iraq's army.

            Already there is a full Iraqi brigade, comprised of former Iraqi
military men, working with the U.S. Fourth Infantry Division, with another
brigade, quickly taking shape under its auspices, administration officials

            With Chalabi continuing to have no internal popular Iraqi
support, "The best thing we could do for Iraq's stability would be to
reinstate the Iraqi army," a State Department official said.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.
All rights reserved.

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]