Bremer Promises shortened Timetable for turning over Sovereignty
First Jay Garner said he wanted to turn control of Iraq over to the Iraqis (mainly to Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress) within six months. (That would have been around now). Then Bremer came in to replace Garner, and said he would rule Iraq himself for two years or so. Even after he finally caved in and appointed an Interim Governing Council on June 13, the IGC complained that the Americans kept saying they would not be given real power for “18 months.” So Bremer’s target date was something like Jan. 1, 2005, at that point, rather than the two or three years he began with.
Now Bremer is saying that the US will accelerate the formation of a new Iraqi army and police, and will try to turn over sovereignty to the Iraqis much more quickly. Some US officials have expressed hope that the civil administration could be turned over to an Iraqi government as early as summer, 2004. Surely the Bush administration desire to be shut of Iraq at least in appearances before the November 2004 elections must play a part in these hopes.
The problem is that I can’t imagine a constitution being written and elections being held by summer of 2004. Bremer earlier had said a new constitutution must be written before elections can be held.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if he were stuck in Iraq for a full two years, the term for which he initially boasted he would rule by fiat, when he increasingly wanted desperately to get back on something more like Garner’s withdrawal schedule?
The low-grade guerrilla resitance against the US is not militarily significant. But it is politically highly significant. Doctors without Borders moved from Baghdad to Amman on Saturday. And these guys are tough. They worked in Afghanistan under the Taliban when they could. The NGOs are deserting the US in Iraq. Plus, the US public doesn’t like hearing about a new American death every other day. And, they don’t like the sound of that $87 bn bill for Iraq that came on top of the spring $66 bn bill, and may proceed yet another such bill. People like Bush have been fanning distrust of government spending and complaining about welfare queens for years, but now those chickens are coming home to roost. Iraq looks like one big welfare queen from Peoria, and Bush looks like her no-good absentee husband.
[On Wolf Blitzer’s CNN show Sunday, Bremer said he hoped a new constitution could be written by summer or fall of 2004, but seemed to imply that it depended on the Interim Governing Council finding a way to call a constitutional convention within the next month.)