One of the mysteries of our Iraq misadventure is gone: We finally know how the totally unheralded L. Paul Bremer wound up in total control of Iraq for his disastrous year there (in which he, among other bad moves, dissolved the former Iraqi army, whose troops instantly became the nucleus for the nascent insurgency). Writes Roger Cohen, the original plan was to have Bremer there solely as an administrator, while Zalmay Khalilzad saw to future political arrangements.
“We had cleared both announcements, with Bremer to run things and me to convene the loya jirga, both as presidential envoys,” Khalilzad told me. “We were just playing with a few final words. Then the game plan suddenly changed: we would run the country ourselves.”
What occasioned this shift. which took both Colin Powell and Condi Rice by surprise?
The volte-face came at a Bush- Bremer lunch that day where Bremer made a unity of command argument to the Decider. “I put it very directly to the president: you can’t have two presidential envoys running around Iraq,” Bremer told me.
Better one guy, even if he knows nothing at all about the culture or the region. It's the manly-man theory of, well, just about everything: you need to get one guy in charge. Which hasn't thrilled me; if having a "czar" was the cure to every problem, then the Romanovs would still be ruling Russia.