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THE IRAQ WAR: The Unfulfilled Promises

 

They shall beat their swords into plowshares

And their spears into pruning hooks,

Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

Neither shall they learn war anymore.

Unknown author

 

War is a one of humanity's most terrible inventions, the death and destruction this peculiar discovery has brought on man since the dawn of civilization is enormous and endless , but I am not talking about that senseless heritage , I am going to say few words about the wars of the 20th century and early 21st because I have lived through most of them.

During the early hours of the 19th of March 2003, President Bush was broadcasting to the world the news that he has ordered the American military to start executing Operation Iraqi Freedom which was to remove Saddam Hussein from power because of his possible links to Osama bin-Laden and the perpetrators of the  Sept. 11 atrocity and  the huge threats his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction was posing to the world and the US in particular and to free the Iraqi people from his tyranny  which has lasted 3 decades and to help the Iraqi people start on the greatly needed reconstruction of their country and the rejuvenation of its moribund infrastructure and institutions. An astonishing tall order but lots of Iraqis believed in it. The military operation which followed the president’s announcement lasted 19 days at the end of it

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Saddam was toppled, his regime in tatters and the Americans sitting in his presidential palace and within few more days in control of the whole country.

When the American military intervention in Iraq ended with the collapse of the Ba’athists regime and the topping of its leader there was a real joy with its outcome and a great deal of appreciation of the American effort for achieving a dream the Iraqis were never able to pull out themselves because Saddam Hussein has created during his three decades of tyranny an incredible state of terror which has practically paralyzed the whole population.

The Iraqis were unable to do anything about Saddam and his regime and had to suffer a life of terrible fear and deprivation. So when the Americans arrived they were welcomed with open arms by a great majority of the Iraqis including myself and my family, but many Iraqis were expecting that after the military phase which lasted less than three weeks that it would be followed by a similarly well planned and similarly well executed reconstruction of the already almost totally devastated infrastructure and the country’s institutions. But the Iraqis were to be disappointed. when the Americans were planning operation Iraqi freedom to change the regime of Saddam Hussein they promised and in the words of their highest officials that after finishing the military phase they will immediately start a program of reconstruction and rehabilitation of the country’s infrastructure and the rehabilitation of its moribund and dying institutions something akin to the Marshal plan through which America rebuilt western Europe after the end of the second world war and the fall of the Nazis, but we did not get a Marshall plan we got ORHA  which is an acronym for the office of reconstruction and rehabilitation the organization which the bush administration created when they were planning their invasion of the country and they assigned retired army general jay garner as its director.

 

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Jay Montgomery Garner (born April 15, 1938) is a retired United States Army lieutenant general who was appointed in 2003 as Director of the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance for Iraq following the 2003 invasion of Iraq but was soon replaced by Ambassador Paul Bremer and the ambassador's successor organization to ORHA, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). In 2003 Garner was selected to lead the post-war reconstruction efforts in Iraq, along with three deputies, including British Major-General Tim Cross. Garner was regarded as a natural choice by the Bush administration given his earlier very successful similar role in the north which helped the Kurds  in restoring their lost territories and freedom after their massacre by Saddam Hussein which  followed their  uprising against his rule which followed his humiliating defeat during the Kuwait war which followed his invasion of that country in 1990 . General Garner was to develop and implement plans to assist the Iraqis in developing governance and reconstructing the country once Saddam Hussein was deposed. Garner arrived with a team of a handful of ex ambassadors, few defense dept. officials and few more ex generals, But Garner and his team did not last for a very long time he was suddenly replaced after only three weeks by Paul Bremer.

Lewis Paul "Jerry" Bremer III   is an ex American diplomat, notable for his role as the Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq following the 2003 invasion. He served in this capacity from May 11, 2003, until June 28, 2004, effectively serving as Head of State of the internationally recognized government of Iraq.

During the 1970s, Bremer held various domestic posts with the State Department, including posts as an assistant to Henry Kissinger from 1972–76. He was Deputy Chief of Mission in Oslo, Norway from 1976–79, returning to the US to take a post of Deputy Executive Secretary of the Department of

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State, where he remained from 1979–81. In 1981, he was promoted to Executive Secretary and Special Assistant to Alexander Haig.

Ronald Reagan appointed Bremer as Ambassador to the Netherlands in 1983 and Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism in 1986. Bremer retired from the Foreign Service in 1989 and became managing director at Kissinger and Associates, a worldwide consulting firm founded by Henry Kissinger.

Bremer arrived in Iraq as the U.S. Presidential Envoy on May 2003, and on May 11 replaced lieutenant general Jay Garner as Director of the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. In June, the Office was transformed into the Coalition Provisional Authority, and Bremer, as U.S. Administrator of Iraq, became the chief executive authority in the country.

As the top civil administrator of the former Coalition Provisional Authority, Bremer was permitted to rule by decree. Among his first and most notable decrees were Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 1 which banned the Ba'ath party in all forms and Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 2 dismantled the Iraqi Army. Bremer signs over limited sovereignty to Iraq's interim government, June 28, 2004

On July 13, 2003, Bremer approved the creation of an Iraqi Interim Governing Council with the stated mission of "ensuring that the Iraqi people's interests are represented." The council members were chosen by Bremer from among groups and individuals who had supported the American invasion of Iraq. Bremer retained veto power over the council's proposals. The council was authorized to select a limited number of delegates to key Coalition Provisional Authority committees, like the Program Review Board.

Bremer also empowered the CPA to develop and implement of the Iraqi constitution. The constitution however, turned into a controversial subject,

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when its first draft submitted by the CPA suggested banning political parties opposed to the US occupation from participating in elections; privatizing much of Iraq's industries and natural resources; and allowing the unelected Iraqi Interim Governing Council to sign a binding Status of Forces Agreement between Iraq and the United States. On March 1, 2004, after several hours of negotiations, the Iraqi Interim Governing Council resolved the disagreements the council members had with clauses in the constitution. A formal signing ceremony was scheduled for March 5, 2004. As the guests waited and the orchestra played, the signing was canceled due to mass demonstrations among Iraq's population. The official signing finally took place for an interim constitution, to be revised or replaced by a second constitution after Iraqi elections, on March 8, 2004.

On June 28, 2004 at 10:26 am local time, the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority formally transferred limited sovereignty of Iraqi territory to the Iraqi Interim Government, two days ahead of schedule. Bremer departed from the country on the same day. In his farewell speech broadcast on Iraqi television, he said, "I leave Iraq gladdened by what has been accomplished and confident that your future is full of hope. A piece of my heart will always remain here in the beautiful land between the two rivers, with its fertile valleys, its majestic mountains and its wonderful people..."

Bremer's office was a division of the United States Department of Defense, and as Administrator he reported directly to the United States Secretary of Defense and the President of the United States. His senior adviser Dan Senor served as coalition spokesman, working with military spokesman Mark Kimmitt.

Bremer's role as the head of the CPA is notable for being the subject of much criticism. Large sums of money have been reported to have gone missing under Bremer's leadership. Bremer's attempts at privatizing much of Iraq's

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infrastructure and mineral wealth were also highly criticized.[11] and Bremer's decision to disband the Iraqi Army is widely credited for fueling the Iraqi insurgency against the American occupation.

After his return from Iraq  on December 14, 2004, he was  awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W Bush,[14] America's highest civil award for "especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

Paul Bremer was UNTIL VERY recently working in the Kissinger consultancy in New York, the man had no previous experience in nation building and was directly responsible to a small number of very high administration officials in Washington to whom he reported and from whom he received his directives, the man was running the affairs of the country like the old English imperial viceroys in India during the days of the British empire, he was extremely self-assured and very arrogant.  it became very clear from  early on that the Bush administration was not going to honor its promises to the Iraqis , promises which were so repeatedly and eloquently repeated to the Iraqis before the invasion , it was evident that what was happening was in fact the execution of a totally different from the one previously promised, all of this helped the emergence and the flourishing of a very nasty and tenacious resistance which was to grow into a monstrously violent insurgency totally opposed the presence of the Americans which would ultimately cost them thousands of casualties and hundreds of billions of dollars.

Bremer reigned for one year in Iraq, a year of incredible mistakes and blunders which created an extremely fertile soil for all the violence and destruction which followed, his first order few days after arriving in Iraq disbanding the army left the country without a serious force to defend the country against its

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internal and external enemies, the other order dissolving the Bath party left hundreds of thousands of people without jobs, very experienced engineers doctors and teachers and many other professionals and technocrats were thrown in the street he didn’t bother about the fact that that so many people were called Ba’athists only in name who were forced to join,  many more joined to secure a better job or a place for their kids in a university these were forced into the streets leaving them with the single bitter option of having to join the armed opposition against the new regime the people who were using very virulent tactics in what they called a justified fight against the invasion and occupation   the brutal killers  and the very dangerous agents of the old regime have already escaped to neighboring countries  who in due time will resume their activities against the new order.

During the year the viceroy spent in Iraq there was no reconstruction of the country or a rejuvenation of its infrastructure and its moribund institution the man spent most of his time in trying to democratize occupied Iraq, the bush administration in its great wisdom decided that the middle east should undergo an intensive course in democracy and that recently liberated Iraq was an ideal candidate, the viceroy was in total agreement so by the end of his tenure he granted the Iraqis something like a legal document which he called a provisional constitution and manufactured a 52 member committee which was made of a very diverse group of men and women who were selected mainly 4from the Iraqi exiles who have lived for many years outside their own country and were completely ignorant of the realities of the Iraqi situation, who had no experience in running a government, the group was called the governing  council and was given the task of running the country, having done his homework like that capably and  efficiently the viceroy left the country back to the united states to receive from president Bush one very high and respectable decoration.

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On the 9th of April 2003 the Baathist regime in Iraq collapsed and Saddam has fled his the war was a very short operation, it lasted twenty days, the following are short notes on a very small part of the military plan which resulted in toppling him and the dismantling of his regime, they are the first battalion from the Second Brigade of the Third Infantry Division. A fascinating group of young American men and women whom I had the good fortune to meet and befriend them, a friendship which is still as pure and honest as it was when it started in spite of the of the shocking ill feelings towards the Americans which have replaced the respect and good will of the early days, but all that has not affected my love and great respect of the rogues, they were and are still my friends.

During the last 25 years of the rule of Saddam we- myself and my family- were living in a house in al-Mansoor district in Baghdad next door to one of his plethora of security offices , this office was in fact five houses which previously belonged to people who were viewed as loyal to the Iranian mullahs rather than to Saddam so they were evicted from out of  their homes and thrown at the Iranian border and those five  near our’s were turned into a branch of one the plethora of  security organization,  but when the regime collapsed on April 9 2003 everybody fled the place leaving everything behind including a huge amount of small weapons and various kinds of ammunitions- in one of the houses , few tons of them- in the middle of a residential area, a huge time bomb which was really disquieting , so my daughter and a girl from the neighborhoods went out and brought back a number of American Soldiers who were patrolling the area who promised to come early next morning to take care of the stuff which they did and started removing it, at mid-day when the Americans were busy removing the lethal stuff a tall very tense man in the attire of an Iraqi colonel of the police  burst into my house shouting and demanding in a very abusive manner  to have the keys of the deserted place,

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he said he has been made chief of Baghdad’s police and he wanted to establish his headquarters in the office next door, I said the place is in the hands of the Americans who are in control of the whole country  and I have no keys so he very imperiously ordered me to go get the keys from the Americans, the man was so tense and threatening , I had no choice  so I went out and brought the American officer  who was in charge of the operation who told him very bluntly told him that the keys were with him and he cannot hand them to anybody  unless he brings him  a written order from one of these officers, he scribbled four names on a small piece of paper and gave it to the intruder, who left even more red in the face shouting and very abusive.

Next morning at about ten there were four uniformed Americans standing at the outside door of my house three young ones and a fourth who was a bit  older who asked me very politely and respectfully whether they could go into the house. The older one said that he was the commander of the desert Rogues, his name was Eric Schwartz and the other three were members of his staff’, and then he said that he had come to apologize for yesterday’s behavior of the red faced Iraqi police officer, he said that I have been very helpful to his people translating for them and helping with the flood of petitions and requests for help and assistance they were getting and he wanted to have few words with me. I invited them to come in, I said few nice words myself and the four of them left after few minutes. They started to come frequently and we always had a nice discussion about what has happened and the hopes and dreams we had for the future of our country which they very genuinely and positively reciprocated. The clearing of the material next door lasted about ten days, and when they finally left the scene we were already on very good terms with them, extremely good friends and on a first name basis.

 

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Colonel Eric C. Schwartz is 52 years old, is now retired from the army after serving for 29 years and during those years he served with great distinction and honor in America’s most recent wars including the last one as a commander of the famous desert rogues and in Iraq he was a voice of moderation and fairness, he tried very hard to understand our country and its culture , and shared with us our dreams for the reconstruction of our homeland and creating a better life in the future for our children after the devastating years of Saddam Hussein  and he was greatly disappointed when things went the way they did. We are still very good friends in spite of what happened to our country later.

My son Nazar has been working with a small American military unit in Baghdad as a contractor since the end of the war, he was 37 years old, he was a graduate of Baghdad university with a BSc in statistics, he was recently married and was very happy with the American soldiers he was working with, But On the 29th of March, 2004, around 10 AM he was shot by an American soldier, one from his own group. We were told about what has happened six months later, they said was it was an accident and a terrible mistake, we are very sorry and made some very strange excuses to the soldier who shot him, alleging that  they  themselves were caught in the terribly poisoned environment with the insurgency at its peak and the jihadists in full gear who regarded the Americans as legitimate targets in their holy war which put the young American soldiers under extreme pressure to shoot when they felt endangered before asking questions.

My son was taken into  a makeshift hospital at the site,  but  the surgery was evidently a great failure because few hours later he was transferred by air ambulance to the American military hospital in the green zone the combat support hospital [31st CSH] because he developed a very severe bleeding from

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the site of the morning surgery, in the 31st he had a  difficult and very lengthy seven hours  which required 28 pints of blood from which he was recovering very nicely when a week later he suddenly developed pulmonary embolism which was followed by renal failure which had to be corrected by renal  dialysis, but they didn’t have the equipment for the procedure so we had to take him to a nearby hospital which has been doing the procedure for a quarter of a century, but things had changed, the hospital like whole health care system of the country was  in a terrible shape, the attempt by the locals was a complete failure so they had to cut it short and sent the boy back to the American hospital, but few minutes before arriving there he developed a heart attack, he was taken into the American hospital in a hurry where the attack was reversed, his heart started beating again, but after 14 minutes which were too long for his brain so he went into a vegetative state.

A vegetative state is a disorder of consciousness in which patients with severe brain damage are in a state of partial arousal rather than true awareness. They are in a state of profound unconsciousness, individuals in such a state have lost their thinking abilities and awareness of their surroundings but retain their more automatic functions and deep sleep patterns with their other key functions such as breathing and circulation remain relatively intact, the eyes may open in response to external stimuli, they may even occasionally cry or laugh, they may look somewhat normal but they do not speak and they are unable to respond to commands. the vegetative state is a very strange and unusual medical condition, a patient in a vegetative state is not dead but he is also not alive in the usual sense of the word, that is why he needs as good nursing care as possible and very careful twenty four hour observation hoping that the condition would be reversed at a later date, something which has been known to happen,  but in our case and after six weeks in the hospital nothing changed and we were told that they can do nothing for him you can

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either take him home and do what he needs yourself which might be for months or years or you let us stop his life saving devices and allow him to go which we rejected , so we took him home.

We took him first to a small private clinic in Baghdad for few weeks  and then we took him to his own house, in the beginning we were coping reasonably well with the help of some relatives and friends but he was in a very serious condition , his case was fairly advanced, he was breathing through a tracheotomy, fed by a naso-gastric tube and urinates through a catheter, he had to be watched twenty four hourly for the potential medical crises  and the sudden deterioration of his condition to which he was prone to develop. But after few months we were in trouble, his twenty four hour a day care was costing a great deal of money, his nutritional requirements and his drugs were brought from abroad from places like the UK and the US  and very often from next door Jordan because they were  very specific and were not available at home. To make things even worse the situation in the country had by that time disintegrated intolerably, there was no security, no electricity, the health care system which was until very recently one of the best in the whole middle east was almost dead and it was summer which is pure hell in Iraq with extremely high temperatures and massive layers of brown dust covering the skies all of these were having very damaging effects on the condition of our sun, so our friends, our colleagues and relatives were suggesting that we take the boy to Jordan things over there were much better , but we were almost bankrupt and then something truly amazing happened, a great help arrived unexpectedly from a stranger who offered us a very generous gift which allowed us to move the boy to Jordan. We moved into Jordan on the first of July 2005. And from there we took him to Michigan in the United States until he passed away on December 21, 2011.

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On that occasion one of my best friends, Jacki Lyden a radio journalist with NPR , who was involved in his tragedy and from the beginning said;

“War doesn’t claim its victims all at once sometimes it takes years”

Jacki Lyden,

Longtime listeners recognize Jacki Lyden's voice from her frequent work as a Contributing Host and Correspondent and substitute host on NPR. She has been with NPR since 1979. In the last five years she has reported from diverse locations including Paris, New York and the backstreets of Baghdad.

Lyden's book, Daughter of the Queen of Sheba, recounts her own experience growing up under the spell of a colorful mother suffering from manic depression. She is working on a sequel to the book, which will be about memory and what one can really hold on to in a tumultuous life.

In the summer of 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Lyden went to Amman, Jordan, where she covered the Gulf War often traveling to and reporting from Baghdad and many other Middle Eastern cities.

We met this astonishing woman  during the early days of the recent war in Iraq, we became very good friends, she visited us many times in Baghdad and  when we were in Jordan and more often after we  arrived with our son in here in Nov. 2007. She loved our son and was always ready when we needed help during our long and very difficult years.

 

 

 
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