Monday, November 24, 2003

Bremer fires 28,000 Baath party teachers: "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."

"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 said. "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."

""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.""

"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.... 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."

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