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Correcting Donald Rumsfeld

8:00 AM, Feb 15, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Dan Senor and Roman Martinez, who served in Iraq with the Department of Defense and the Coalition Provisional Authority, take to the pages of the Washington Post to correct Donald Rumsfeld. "According to Donald Rumsfeld's memoir, U.S. difficulties stemmed not from the Pentagon's failure to plan for the war's aftermath - or Rumsfeld's unwillingness as defense secretary to provide enough troops to secure Iraqis after the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime," Senor and Martinez write. "Rumsfeld pins most of the blame on the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) for its alleged mishandling of Iraq's political transition in 2003-04, which 'stoked nationalist resentments' and "fanned the embers of what would become the Iraqi insurgency.'"

We were Defense Department officials through the early phases of the war and worked for the CPA in Baghdad. We have defended many of the difficult decisions Rumsfeld made and respect his service to our country. But his book paints an inaccurate and unfair history of U.S. policymaking concerning Iraq's political transition.

Rumsfeld's basic theme is that the CPA erred by failing to grant Iraqis "the right to govern themselves" early in the U.S.-led occupation. Rumsfeld claims that he favored a "swift transition" of power to an "Iraqi transitional government" and that the Bush administration formally endorsed this strategy when it approved the Pentagon's plan for an Iraqi Interim Authority in March 2003. He writes that the head of the CPA, L. Paul Bremer, unilaterally decided not to implement this plan.

But Rumsfeld's own contemporaneous memos undermine this notion. The 26 "Principles for Iraq - Policy Guidelines" that Rumsfeld gave Bremer in May 2003 said nothing about handing real power to Iraqis.

To the contrary, Rumsfeld's instructions endorsed the top-down approach his book condemns. The CPA should "assert authority over the country," he wrote, and should "not accept or tolerate self-appointed [Iraqi] 'leaders.' "

Whole thing here.

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