And Why Scholars Need to Learn the Full Truth
There is no evidence or statement that Bush, Cheney, or Rumsfeld ever contacted Bremer and Feith after the release of Order 1 to explain why it was issued, let alone telling them to cease and desist from making any new orders unless properly authorized and discussed by their superiors. A simple phone call would have sufficed. But no phone call or other form of contact was ever made. No criticism or direct contact followed Order 2 as well. Once scholars recognize these facts and come to terms with the apparent contradictions between stated war aims and Orders 1 and 2, then they can focus on the trinity of decision makers, Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, to answer what may be the most important question left of the Iraq War and Occupation.
Analyzing the behavior and statements of the Bush Administration officials from 2003 to the present, it is clear that they have wanted very much to quickly jump from the Iraqi ground war and “Mission Accomplished” to the long-term occupation and eventual Surge. None of the administration officials have attempted to explain in detail the drastic policy changes right after “Mission Accomplished” was declared on May 1, 2003 to the following weeks in which Orders 1 (May 16th) and 2 (May 23rd) were announced. Bush (2010), Bremer (2006), Feith (2008) and others spend relatively few sentences or seconds on the issue, suggesting that their intent is to relegate the issue to a minor footnote in history. These few weeks, however, altered fundamentally the entire post-war developments and ensured a mass occupation and insurgency for years to come. Orders 1 and 2 were the most monumental policy changes that one could make in terms of the original political and military objectives that were stated from the beginning of the Iraq War.
Up to now, there have been numerous attempts to make Bremer out to be the fall guy who ultimately made the decision, implying that he had the power to make those decisions as head of the CPA. However, this seriously contradicts the reality that Bremer was appointed and controlled directly by Rumsfeld. Bremer, in fact, admits that Rumsfeld thoroughly vetted and instructed him before appointing him to the CPA (Bremer 2006; Feith 2008: 422-423; Ferguson 2008; Galbraith 2009: 53-54; Phillips 2006: 143-145; Gordon and Trainor 2006: 475). Bremer never had the power, let alone the character or inclination, to completely defy or act independently of his political superior. Every indication, research, and testimony suggests that Bremer from the beginning was completely on board with Rumsfeld and would never act without his master’s official approval (Bremer 2006; Allawi 2007: 159; Gordon and Trainor 2006: 475; et al.). In fact, Ferguson quotes Jay Garner, Bremer’s predecessor, as saying that he and a CIA official confronted Bremer in Baghdad just before the release of Order 1 and asked to have a full discussion with Rumsfeld regarding the consequences and, possibly, lessen the effects of the order. Garner states that Bremer’s response was “No, I don’t…I don’t have that flexibility. I’ve been given my orders, and I’m gonna execute ‘em” (Ferguson 2008: 149).
Furthermore, the fact that Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush did not contact Feith or Bremer after the issuance of Order 1 on May 16th suggests that there was clearly approval of the act at the highest levels. It should be pointed out that details and requirements of Order 1 would have taken many months to over a year to fully implement, which meant that the order could easily have been retracted or watered down by higher-ups without any real damage; even a quick re-hiring of fired Ba’ath Party members could have occurred without significant costs. Order 2 could have been retracted at any time and all former security officials except the few highest Saddam appointees could have been brought back in an instant. The fact that no superior reprimanded Feith or Bremer, let alone had any critical comment about the orders and the decision making process or lack thereof, speaks volumes of the Bush Administration. Although, for the record, one unnamed Bush Administration official who worked extensively with Feith later declared that “Feith ought to be drawn, quartered, and hung” for what he did in Iraq (Ricks 2006: 167), to this day, no one has ever said that any higher-ups contacted Feith and Bremer after the orders were issued; all it would have taken was a few seconds to make a phone call and inquire as to why they had issued such major policy changes without any superior-level authorization. Yet, no one made the call—and, they had ample time to do so.
Scholars can choose to start with the likelihood that there was tacit approval from and, even, secret discussions between Rumsfeld and Cheney and, possibly, Bush prior to CPA Orders 1 and 2 being declared. The key questions here are whether it was Rumsfeld and Cheney alone or together in the policy decision (both were nearly completely inseparable at the time in terms of world outlook and the Iraq War) and whether the President was in on the original decision at the very beginning or thereafter. What one cannot deny is that none of the three made any public or private effort to countermand Order 1, to discipline Feith for issuing the draft to Bremer, or to punish Bremer for announcing the order without any official authorization from the White House or Defense Department. All reports suggest that the National Security Council, the military commanders, the State Department, the CIA, et al. were never consulted on the matter or even knew that it was under consideration (Ferguson 2008: 216-219; et al). No discussion or even mention was given of massive de-Ba’athification and military disbandment. What is even more important to reiterate is that Order 2 did not come out until one full week after Order 1, which meant that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld had more than enough time to deal with Feith and Bremer and order them to cease and desist from issuing any declarations that had not been discussed and approved by the highest levels of government, meaning the big three. The fact that no one, including the trinity, has ever said to this day that they actually did such a thing confirms a very important piece of the puzzle. The fact that there was not even an effort or a word—or, even, a grunt—that followed Feith and Bremer’s issuance of Order 1 clearly indicates official sanction. But, if so, then why is there such fear and avoidance to this day of the big three taking responsibility for this approval? Why is there such trembling? Why are Bremer, Feith, and others so fearful of even suggesting that one, two, or all of the big three were involved in and gave the final approval for Orders 1 and 2? Why such reticence? Why such secrecy? Why such avoidance? This should raise all the red flags for scholars to go forth and find the answers to these questions.
The Scholarly Endeavor
For the good of scholarship and the public, one must ask and answer the following question: Who officially authorized CPA Orders 1 and 2? It is a very serious question as to why there were not any discussions or debates on this issue at any government or public level. Why there were lower level bureaucrats issuing the most critical orders that virtually guaranteed a mass insurgency, occupation, and American casualties, is another good question. Why those lower level bureaucrats were not seriously reprimanded and ordered to stop raises another set of alarm bells as to the real truth and original intentions of the Bush Administration before and during the war. Where was the chain of command? And, given the one-week interlude between Orders 1 and 2, there was an eternity of time for any higher-up to have intervened in the decision making process and put a stop to this 180-degree change in policy, at least the publicly declared policy. Why was none of this dealt with quickly and decisively? Thousands of lives, tens of thousands of casualties, and hundreds of billions of dollars resulted from this failure in the decision making structure. Holding U.S. officials accountable to their public statements and declared war objectives should be of the utmost importance, especially in terms of a properly functioning government.
It is critical that we find out who made the ultimate decision to issue Orders 1 and 2. Democracy, accountability, the rule of law, and the issues of leadership credibility and loyalty are all at stake. If certain higher-ups had intended to do what they did with Orders 1 and 2 before the war began or soon after, then one must ask why everyone was deceived and who should be held accountable for the drastic consequences. Who made the decision and who is responsible? And, if and when the next war appears on the horizon, who will believe the U.S.’s stated reasons and goals? The American public? Friends and allies? The world community? Targeted enemies? Unless the current questions regarding Orders 1 and 2 are answered and resolved satisfactorily, then the U.S.’s credibility and power will be seriously undermined in both future conflicts and attempts to unite the international community against any potential threats.