It ain't a pretty sight, Paul Bremer's OpEd in the Times Friday. And though it's a rough and grisly comparison, reading Bremer's column, and watching him try to gobble down his own words, I couldn't help thinking of the imagery of hostages, orange-jump-suited or not, reading out recantations or self-denunciations, on grainy film, on pain of their life.
The last couple days can't have been pleasant ones for Bremer. And the pressure to clean up his mess must have been withering. The point of Friday's column was to try to take his impolitic admissions about troop strength out of political circulation in time for Friday night's debate.
The key passage in Bremer's piece is the fourth graf ...
It's no secret that during my time in Iraq I had tactical disagreements with others, including military commanders on the ground. Such disagreements among individuals of good will happen all the time, particularly in war and postwar situations. I believe it would have been helpful to have had more troops early on to stop the looting that did so much damage to Iraq's already decrepit infrastructure. The military commanders believed we had enough American troops in Iraq and that having a larger American military presence would have been counterproductive because it would have alienated Iraqis. That was a reasonable point of view, and it may have been right. The truth is that we'll never know.
So it was a small tactical <$Ad$>disagreement, focused on the immediate post-war period of looting. And Bremer's not even sure whether he or those he disagreed with were right.
But look at what the Washington Post
says he actually said
: "The single most important change -- the one thing that would have improved the situation -- would have been having more troops in Iraq at the beginning and throughout
In the Times
today, Bremer's only response seems to be: Even though I said what I said, I wasn't really saying it when I said it.
From there the column is a lockstep recitation of the full Bush Regime Change catechism.
"Progress is being made ... The press has been curiously reluctant to report my constant public support
for the president's strategy in Iraq ... The president was right when he concluded that Saddam Hussein was a menace
who needed to be removed from power ... President Bush has said that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror
. He is right ... Our victory also depends on devoting the resources necessary to win this war ... These were vital resources that Senator John Kerry voted to deny our troops
A year and a half ago, President Bush asked me to come to the Oval Office to discuss my going to Iraq to head the coalition authority. He asked me bluntly, "Why would you want to leave private life and take on such a difficult, dangerous and probably thankless job?" Without hesitation, I answered, "Because I believe in your vision for Iraq and would be honored to help you make it a reality."
Viva Booosh! Viva la Muerte!