And Why Scholars Need to Learn the Full Truth

In his recently published book Decision Points (2010), Bush still does not admit any responsibility whatsoever for Orders 1 and 2.  Bush, in fact, acknowledges that there could have been more debate on Orders 1 and 2 and that maybe—just maybe—there could have been a policy assessment of what might occur if hundreds of thousands of Iraq civilians and security officers were fired immediately from their jobs and left permanently unemployed (Bush 2010: 259).  But he does not admit initiating the drafting of the orders or tell us who did, whether it was Cheney and/or Rumsfeld.  He does suggest that Ahmed Chalabi’s role in de-Ba’athification may have exacerbated the situation, though everyone knew Chalabi would do this, and Bush cannot explain why Chalabi (or his nephew) was appointed to the Iraqi de-Ba’athification Council in the first place (Bush 2010: 259).  It is important to stress that “de-Ba’athification” suggested the removal of all Ba’ath Party members, which included millions of teachers, doctors, and others who were required to be members.  As Allawi (2007: 152) and others have described it, de-Ba’athification also meant de-Sunnification and, thus, crossed beyond political boundaries and into religious and tribal ones.  Bush and other administration officials’ responses to this day seem to suggest that the question of who officially authorized CPA Orders 1 and 2 may be the most feared question among the “big three.”  Thus, scholars, journalists, and the public should be asking this very question and demanding a simple answer from this trinity of decision makers, such as “Yes, I (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld) officially authorized CPA Orders 1 and 2.”  It is a question that needs to be addressed and answered by Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld.  One could describe this mission to obtain the answer as Operation Trinity.

For the scholar, one must ask why to this day no thorough research answer has been given on how and why orders were issued that were so completely contradictory to the Bush Administration’s publicly declared Iraq War objectives, let alone implemented with such devastating and predictable results.  Moreover, it needs to be ascertained by scholars as to how secondary-level officials like Feith and Bremer could have issued such orders without even the President, Vice President, and Defense Secretary knowing anything about them until the very last moment as claimed, let alone officially authorizing them.  Furthermore, every single major national security participant on the Iraq War and Occupation to this day declares that there were never any meetings, studies, or even suggestions regarding universal de-Ba’athification or the complete dismemberment of the Iraqi military (Bush 2010: 259; Bremer 2006; Feith 2008; Tenet 2007: 426; Ferguson 2008 146-149, 190-193, 216-219; Woodward 2008: 20; Risen 2006; et al.).  Risen, in fact, goes as far as to say that Feith declared that anyone in the Defense Department that tried to bring up the post-war issue would have been “…kicked out of Rumsfeld’s office in an instant” (2006: 134-135).  The officially declared goals and all official meetings revolved around the removal of the top echelon of Iraqi Ba’ath Party leaders who were responsible for oppression, atrocities and other human rights violations.  There was never any reference, discussion, or study done on the complete emasculation of Iraqi society and security forces.  This becomes a critical issue there-after and a major question to this day.

There are many important aspects of this case that need to be further assessed by scholars.  The apparent fear in acknowledging ownership of these two orders goes to the heart of possibly being held directly or indirectly responsible for tens of thousands of American casualties and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties, especially when the original war aims involved pulling all American troops out of Iraq within months of the completion of major military operations.  Moreover, the two orders not only directly challenge the political leadership’s credibility with the American people, they also raise the issue of international legality regarding the complete overthrow of a country’s entire political, economic, and social system (which followed after the orders were issued).  Had U.S. policymakers declared the two orders prior to or at the start of the war, the public and international community could have debated the issue and everyone could have gone on record and acted accordingly as to whether or not they supported a complete revolution inside a sovereign country.

In addition, this case leads to questions regarding the freedom and critical analysis of the media and scholarly research.  Why there has not been any serious and direct questioning of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld on this critical topic is of key importance.  It highlights a major problem within the media and research community as to forming questions that will ensure that public officials are held accountable, especially just before and during war time.  Moreover, the lack of strong and persistent questioning on this issue prevented a public debate from ever occurring as to why Orders 1 and 2 completely and blatantly changed the declared political and military objectives of the Iraq War.  The orders could have been easily rescinded before any major damage had been done.  It is of critical importance as to why the public spotlight and pressure was not put on the Bush Administration when the first order went out and, especially, after the second order was released a full week later.  Furthermore, it must be assessed as to whether it was just public submission to war fever and the supposed taste of victory, or whether the silence was really fear of appearing unpatriotic and critical of any official that was seen as being preeminently victorious and wise.  All this must be asked in order to ensure in the future that a healthy political environment exists for successful policy formulation and implementation.  In the end, if a political administration deliberately tries to veer the public’s focus away from such critical decision making that completely upends previously stated policy and war objectives, then who is there to say “time out” and ask the simple questions as to what, why, when, how, and who really made these decisions?  If not immediately at the time of the decision, then why not soon after?  These are the questions scholars need to address regarding the Iraq War and Occupation in order to enforce accountability, however belatedly, and to decrease the chances that this will ever occur again.

Decision Making Analysis, Consequences, and Contradictions

Since CPA Orders 1 and 2 are seen as the contributing factors in the breakdown of Iraqi society and the primary cause of the mass insurgency, it is important to understand completely why they came about.  Many experts concluded immediately after the orders were given that they would lead to a very costly debacle (Ferguson 2008: 167-169, 186-187; Allawi 2007: 159; Tenet 2007: 426-430; Sanchez 2008: 198; et al.).  There is no evidence or testimony of any debate, discussion, or study at any government level prior to the formulation and implementation of Orders 1 and 2, which is amazing given the titanic policy shift that the orders entailed (Bush 2010: 259; Bremer 2006; Feith 2008; Tenet 2007: 426; Ferguson 2008: 146-149, 190-193, 216-219, 216-219; Woodward 2008: 20; Risen 2006: 134-135; et al.).  One could assume that these decisions may to this day still be perceived as so embarrassing—if not, disgraceful or internationally illegal—that everyone at the highest levels still wants plausible deniability.  Bremer may have announced the orders, Feith may have written up the drafts, but neither of the two has ever declared that they were the ones solely responsible for initially authorizing and approving the orders (Bremer 2006; Feith 2008).

Analyzing the word-for-word accounts of their behavior regarding the orders and their superiors’ reactions to them, Bremer and Feith are extremely legalistic in explaining their actions, coming so close to the line but never acknowledging that they acted without orders, while, on the other hand, never saying who exactly told them to act, whether orally or in writing (Bremer 2006; Feith 2008; Ferguson 2008).  It must be stressed that no one to this day has ever stated or believed that these hand-picked loyalists to Cheney and Rumsfeld were completely insubordinate, even to the point of treason.  Yet, they completely contradicted their superiors’ public declarations and their subsequent behavior virtually ensured an extremely costly occupation that was never in the public forum for debate.  Both Bremer and Feith have, unfortunately, just left out the piece of the puzzle as to who officially ordered them to produce CPA Orders 1 and 2, at best implying that they were acting properly and according to the intentions of their superiors.  In other words, they began their explanations for the history books at step 2, leaving it up to others to make the assumption as to whether they were following (unofficial) orders or being completely insubordinate (Bremer 2006; Feith 2008).  Yet, they were never reprimanded, fired, or publicly chastised for completely contradicting their superiors’ official policy statements since the war began.