The Instigator
Conor
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
Gluteus
Con (against)
Losing
7 Points

L. Paul Bremer messed up Iraq

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Conor
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/11/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,858 times Debate No: 8588
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (14)
Votes (3)

 

Conor

Pro

The civilian administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, is responsible for much of the sectarian bloodshed and that occurred in Iraq after the invasion as well as the slow reconstruction of the country.

By the way, that's what I mean by "messed up."

Good luck to whoever accepts. The first argument should be more of an opening statement, seeing as I have presented little to rebut so far.
Gluteus

Con

Before anything else, I would like to state that I accept Conor's definition of "messed up" as Paul Bremer being "responsible for much of the sectarian bloodshed and that occurred in Iraq after the invasion as well as the slow reconstruction". As he is the initiator of the debate, I eagerly await Conor's argumentation to back up his assertion that the mess in Iraq mostly lies at the feet of Paul Bremer.

As for me, I anticipate that my future arguments will be on how the current chaos in Iraq is more due to the historical antagonism of all parties involved, and also how most of the factors that contribute to this "messed up" situation are beyond Bremer's control.
Debate Round No. 1
Conor

Pro

You are arguing that Iraq has age-long cultural and religious problems that go beyond the invasion of 2003. I agree; I'm not saying that L. Paul Bremer is responsible for all the problems that ever happened or will happen in iraq. I'm saying that if it weren't for his mistakes and his disastrous policies, Iraq would have been less torn by violence (not empty of violence, just *less* of it) and the country would be on the road to reconstruction quicker and more efficiently.

So, do you stand by your argument, and argue that L. Paul Bremer didn't contribute at all to the problems in Iraq, and that all the terrible things in Iraq were inevitable, or do you wish to concede this debate?
Gluteus

Con

This is not an "all-or-nothing" proposition; no one can argue that Bremer either completely blameless, *or* have total blame, to the chaos in Iraq.

What both of us agree is that there will always be conflict in Iraq; the point of contention here is the extent of the blame that should be attributed to Bremer. I will prove that, by and large, there is little that Bremer could do to stop the violence, and his decisions reduced the chaos in Iraq, not made it worse. Therefore, it is unfair to say that " L. Paul Bremer messed up Iraq".

On your part, you need to show that while violence is unavoidable, Bremer's decisions made it worse. You need to show the correlation between his actions and the events in Iraq, and also theorize how if he didn't make a particular decision, something different and better would happen.

Since this debate ends in three rounds and we're already at round two, I shall start the debate.

I will, for my part, discuss the most controversial decisions that Bremer made - disbanding the Iraqi military and complete dismantlement of the Iraqi civil service. Of course, if my opponent wants to propose more he can do so during his turn.

Critics charge that by disbanding the Iraqi army, we fuel the insurgency by creating a pool of jobless, armed men, and therefore these people will join the Sunni insurgency. If an average Iraqi grunt is not paid his salary by the military, the argument goes, he will join the insurgency who will (or at least gives him an opportunity to plunder).

This argument, of course, is false. Even if we retain the Iraqi soldiers within the military, it will not guarantee that he will not join the insurgency, for the simple reason that for an Iraqi, loyalty to their religious group (Sunni, in this instance) is greater than material gain provided by (in their eyes) the "invaders". So even if the military was not disbanded, these Sunni troops will still support the Sunni insurgency. In fact, we will make the insurgency stronger because of the presence of "moles" - insurgents who pretend to pledge allegiance to the US authorities, and yet actively try to undermine it from within.

From another perspective, disbanding the old Iraqi military reduces the animosity of Shi'ite and Kurdish groups, because these are the people that have been suppressing them during Saddam's days. It will be extremely hard to for the US to gain co-operation with the Shi'ite and Kurds if the US are seen to be working with the very same groups that have been killing and oppressing them back when Saddam was in power. Disbanding the apparatus of oppression, therefore, is the right decision, and any so-called chaos from doing so is mitigated by the fact that it does more good than harm by earning us the good will of the majority of Iraqis.

Therefore, to *not* disband the old Iraqi army will contribute to the insurgency even more, since the troops within have no loyalty to the new administration, and to make things even worse the US will suffer a negative public perception effect by being seen to be working with instruments of Saddam's oppression.

The same principle of "jobless Sunnis joining the insurgency" is used to criticize Bremer's decision to dismantle the Iraqi civil service during the process of de-Ba'athification, and the same logic that I use to refute it, as seen above, applies. It is better to rebuild the civil service from scratch, by screening and excluding known hostile elements, than co-opting a viper's nest of potential moles. And it will be easier for Shi'ites and Kurds to accept the legitimacy of a civil servants picked by the US, rather than the one constructed by Saddam.

In conclusion, it can clearly be seen that the decisions made by Bremer was correct, and the worsening conditions in Iraq cannot be blamed on him.
Debate Round No. 2
Conor

Pro

"This argument, of course, is false. Even if we retain the Iraqi soldiers within the military, it will not guarantee that he will not join the insurgency, for the simple reason that for an Iraqi, loyalty to their religious group (Sunni, in this instance) is greater than material gain provided by (in their eyes) the "invaders"..."

First of all, you have not proven that the Iraqi soldiers' loyalty to their religious group is of greater importance to them than their salary given them by the army. In fact, it seems quite the opposite. The National Army (even under Saddam) was one of the few institutions in the country that served as a unifying, national entity. We can see this by looking at the history of Iraq, even during its worst years under Saddam. For example, during the Iran-Iraq War (http://en.wikipedia.org...), the Iraqi military, run by the oppressive Ba'ath regime of Saddam Hussein, fought in a bloody and vicious war against Iran, a newly found nation that was born of a Shi'ite Revolution (http://en.wikipedia.org...). However, Saddam's Army was mostly comprised of Shi'ite troops, hundreds of thousands of whom died heroically for their country. Owing their allegiance not to Saddam, but to their country and the defense of their homeland, Sunnis and Shi'ites fought side by side against a common enemy, even a Shi'ite one. This shows how nationalism can transcend the sectarian divisions you claimed were unshakeable.

When these men were left unemployed and seemingly betrayed by the very institution they had dedicated their lives to (http://en.wikipedia.org...), regardless of who was in power, they felt abandoned by the state, and this hopelessness turned to frustration at the inefficiency and aloofness of the American coalition to their problems. Not surprisingly, many of them took to the streets of Baghdad in protest, and even with the promise of pension benefits and severance payments (which weren't enough anyway) by the CPA, they vowed destruction against the new state of Iraq and American occupation. "We will all become suicide bombers," vowed one disenfranchised protester. (1)

Also, even if they were loyal to their religious group, why does that have to be mutually exclusive with the new state? Almost all Iraqis were considerably pleased with the disposition of Saddam Hussein, and tribes were given more rights, if anything, under the new regime. This has been shown with the Sunni Awakening Groups, or "Sons of Iraq" initiative, in which Sunni ex-insurgents, while retaining their local tribal identity, are paid by the U.S. Army to fight off local rebels and criminals. This initiative has proved amazingly successful in reducing the violence in Iraq and dissolving the Sunni insurgents. However, if Bremer hadn't dissolved the army, the Sons of Iraq wouldn't ever had to be done and Iraqis would have been spared the years of sectarian bloodshed that tore apart the country.

The only justified clause in my opinion of "Dissolution of Entities" was the section pertaining to the disbandment of the Fedayeen Saddam and other unconventional paramilitary groups, which were stigmatic reminders of the old regime and were unconditionally loyal to the Ba'ath Party. This group would definitely have been victim to infiltration by rogue anti-State elements.

"From another perspective, disbanding the old Iraqi military reduces the animosity of Shi'ite and Kurdish groups..."

The majority of the Iraqi Army was Shi'ite; as I said before, this institution was one of the few that could unify the Iraqi people because it had no religious or sectarian agendas, and it provided salaries and a sense of national unity for the people, separate from Saddam's Ba'athist oppression. If the army had been kept, Sunnis and Shi'ites could have fought side by side to extinguish the common enemy: the foreign jihadists who now provide leadership to terrorists groups in Iraq like Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. When the army was disbanded, these antagonized people, Sunnis and Shi'ite alike, had no government support to turn to, and thus were more inclined to turn to their local mosques and sectarian affiliations for political and economic support. Sunni tribesman, who could once be united with Shi'ites through the National Army, now united to fight against the new occupation and their Shi'ite adversaries.

This was not helped by the fact that L. Paul Bremer, in creating the new Iraqi Army, (or NIA), catered specifically to sectarian allegiances, and most of the new army (which is plagued today by Shia death squads and sectarian bias) had Shi'ite commanders. Bremer himself promised Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Shi'ite political group SCIRI, that the commander of the first battalion in the new army would be a Shi'ite (2). Because of Bremer's biased policies in reintegrating the new Army, even more sectarian tension was generated and the Sunnis felt abandoned by the occupation and threatened by the new Shi'ite-dominated army.

As for CPA Order #1, or DeBa'athification, this was a very uninformed and dangerous decision made by Bremer. It banned the top four tiers of the ruling Ba'ath Party from their positions and barred them from future employment in the public sector.
This was just as disastrous as CPA Order #2, because it stripped society of its experience professionals, such as hospital and university managers and others who would have been integral in creating a new state. Anyway, many of the Ba'ath Party members, even senior ones, had only joined out of fear or coercion by the Ba'ath Party, and junior party members, of whom there were thousands, were also inappropriately included in DeBa'athification. Also, Bremer incorrectly assumed in CPA Order #1 that all members in the armed forces with the rank of Colonel or above were members of the Ba'ath Party, and thus were also disenfranchised and marginalized by this CPA order. In fact, even top commanders in the army didn't belong to the Party, and most were junior members at most.

This policy left thousands permanently unemployed and disenfranchised, essentially exiled from society, and thus understandably they came to form the part of the insurgency known as the FREs, or Former Regime Elements. Teaming up with the angry Sunnis kicked out of the army, these two groups came to form the Sunni insurgency that was to devastate Iraq with sectarian killings and suicide bombings for years to come.

To turn to Bremer's other policies, such as a total restructuring of Iraqi economy, these were also very detrimental. By subsidizing and selling off many major companies to the private sector, Bremer inadvertently crippled the Iraqi economy. Many state-owned industries that could have been used to unify the Iraqi people and employ thousands were sold to foreign investors and private corporations pursuant of Bremer's personal ideology of "free market" economics. Obviously, Iraq, only months after invasion, was not prepared for this kind of severe change in society, and would have been better suited to the kind of "New Deal" programs that FDR created in the 1930s, which involved large scale public works projects. These kinds of initiatives would not only help physically reconstruct Iraqi infrastructure, but also unite the Iraqi people and provide employment to thousands of Iraqis who would have otherwise joined the insurgency as a means of retaining their pride and their means of living.

In conclusion, as I have run out of characters, these arguments show how L. Paul Bremer III's role as administrator of Iraq basically created the Sunni insurgency and fueled the sectarian bloodshed that was to come in 2005-2007. He also damaged the Iraqi economy and created a feeling of antagonism and distrust towards the new Iraqi state and the American occupation.

1) Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas Ricks
2) My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future o
Gluteus

Con

In closing, allow me to rebut some arguments made by my opponents.

Basically, he insisted that the nationalistic ties amongst the three major groups (Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurd) are greater than their religious and/or ethnic bonds; therefore, there is no need to dissolve the Iraqi Army in lieu of Shi'ite sensibilities over the oppression during the Saddam era.

I beg to differ; the fact that these people identify themselves as Shi'ite, Sunni or Kurd itself tells us that they consider their ethnic-religious identity to be the most important identifying aspect of themselves. Yes, perhaps there are Shi'ite troops fighting for Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, but that is merely due to a greater threat posed by external aggression, which is not applicable in today's situation. Indeed, even in those days, the troops are segregated, reminiscent to the days when African-Americans fight in different regiments in the US military in WW2.

Fighting side-by-side does not by any means erase the grudges endured by decades of Sunni oppression; for the sake of maintaining peaceful relations with the Shi'ite majority, the dissolution of the Iraqi army is just and necessary.

I do not understand how my opponent can say that the military is the institution that unifies Shi'ite and Sunni; under Saddam, Shi'ites are actively repressed; so much so that a Christian (Tariq Aziz, for example), have a better chance of being promoted compared to a Shi'ite. Shi'ite civilians enthusiastically supported the Americans during the 1st Gulf War (and as a result, was equally enthusiastically repressed by Saddam later on, especially when American military help failed to materialize at the end of the war). In short, the "old" Iraqi army is hopelessly dominated by the Sunnis, and the Shi'ite will not accept this.

De-Ba'athification of the Iraqi civil service is important; just as the Allies instituted a program of de-Nazification, dismissal of the civil service ensures that any rogue elements are suppressed, while trustworthy Iraqis who have underwent background checks are re-hired as part of the new government. It is a painful process, I admit, especially if you have to wait for your background clearance, but I believe that for the sake of rooting out the last remnants of hard-core Saddamites, it is a necessary step. Besides, with the orgiastic looting of hospitals and offices after the fall of Saddam, it's not like they have a place to work in, anyway.

In conclusion, the current condition in Iraq predates Bremer, and it is most unfair to blame him for most of the ills plaguing the beautiful land today.
Debate Round No. 3
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Conor 7 years ago
Conor
i apologize for not citing my sources in MLA format as I normally would; I ran out of characters.
Posted by Conor 7 years ago
Conor
No, it's okay.
Insh'allah, Nags will realize the futility of his desire and retrieve from his current endeavor.
Posted by Gluteus 7 years ago
Gluteus
Oh dear, I apologize for accepting this challenge without reading the "Comments" page; I am just so eager to start it seems that I've stepped on some toes.

Should I withdraw from this debate to make way for Nags?
Posted by Conor 7 years ago
Conor
Alright nags, thanks.
Posted by Xer 7 years ago
Xer
Ok, fine.

I would take this debate... but I have finals for the next 3 days and won't have time. I could take it Wednesday afternoon though.
Posted by Conor 7 years ago
Conor
Nags:
I don't know how to quantify the degree to which someone has messed up Iraq, so no, I'm afraid I can't.
Btw, you want mohammad?
Posted by Xer 7 years ago
Xer
So... could you change the resolution to "L. Paul Bremmer messed up Iraq more than anyone else" so I can accept the debate?
Posted by Conor 7 years ago
Conor
Thanks, Volkov.
Posted by Conor 7 years ago
Conor
Good man, Nags.
Posted by Xer 7 years ago
Xer
If the resolution was "L. Paul Bremmer messed up Iraq more than anyone else" I'd take it.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Conor 7 years ago
Conor
ConorGluteusTied
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Vote Placed by Xer 7 years ago
Xer
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Vote Placed by Lt.Zubin 7 years ago
Lt.Zubin
ConorGluteusTied
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