General Jay Garner on How We Lost Iraq


This isn’t news, but I’ve seldom seen so clearly expressed the answer to the question on every American’s mind: how did we lose Iraq?

Now there was never a good chance of a better outcome in Iraq, but there was a window of opportunity which Bush and his Neo-Cons slammed shut. General Jay Garner was sacked by Bush because he wanted early elections and he rejected the Neo-Con’s illegal economic privatization scheme.

The result of that sacking was a delay of all elections for a year and an illegal, neo-imperialist economic policy imposed on Iraq, both resulting in intense resentment and resistance from Iraqis. Greg Palast of the Guardian gives the best, most concise explanation how the Bushies lost Iraq that I yet seen:

"Let me tell you a story about the Secretary of Defense you didn’t read in the New York Times, related to me by General Jay Garner, the man our president placed in Baghdad as the US’ first post-invasion viceroy.

Garner arrived in Kuwait City in March 2003 working under the mistaken notion that when George Bush called for democracy in Iraq, the President meant the Iraqis could choose their own government. Misunderstanding the President’s true mission, General Garner called for Iraqis to hold elections within 90 days and for the U.S. to quickly pull troops out of the cities to a desert base. "It’s their country," the General told me of the Iraqis. "And," he added, most ominously, "their oil."

Let’s not forget: it’s all about the oil. I showed Garner a 101-page plan for Iraq’s economy drafted secretly by neo-cons at the State Department, Treasury and the Pentagon, calling for "privatization" (i.e. the sale) of "all state assets … especially in the oil and oil-supporting industries."  The General knew of the plans and he intended to shove it where the Iraqi sun don’t shine. Garner planned what he called a "Big Tent" meeting of Iraqi tribal leaders to plan elections. By helping Iraqis establish their own multi-ethnic government — and this was back when Sunnis, Shias and Kurds were on talking terms — knew he could get the nation on its feet peacefully before a welcomed "liberation" turned into a hated "occupation."

But, Garner knew, a freely chosen coalition government would mean the death-knell for the neo-con oil-and-assets privatization grab.

On April 21, 2003, three years ago this month, the very night General Garner arrived in Baghdad, he got a call from Washington. It was Rumsfeld on the line. He told Garner, in so many words, "Don’t unpack, Jack, you’re fired."

Rummy replaced Garner, a man with years of on-the-ground experience in Iraq, with green-boots Paul Bremer, the Managing Director of Kissinger Associates. Bremer cancelled the Big Tent meeting of Iraqis and postponed elections for a year; then he issued 100 orders, like some tin-pot pasha, selling off Iraq’s economy to U.S. and foreign operators, just as Rumsfeld’s neo-con clique had desired…"

Often, Garner is scapegoated in official propaganda as an incompetent who set in motion the loss of Iraq. It’s a convenient fiction for the Bushies, and like so much that orignates from this Administration, it simply isn’t true.

Quite possibly the Iraq adventure was doomed from the outset with a pack of incompents at the helm of the enterprise, but it is possible that Bush and his cronies snatched defeat from the jaws of victory because of their greed, venality, and ideological blindness.


  1. I am going to defer this one to the Mahatma: “You must never lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. Where there is love, there is life.”

    Remember too that all things are cyclical. One favorite president of mine is Dwight D. Eisenhower. Of all things he was, “TV-pretty” was not one of them. 🙂 There will be another.

  2. “Yet I have faith … we are maturing as a group”

    That’s not the way it looks to me. Hope you are right, but people seldom seek out the lessons learned in the past. Instead we repeat them and then wonder where it all went wrong.

    As a group we do not think, plan or educate ourselves. As a group we are easily manipulated.

    Though this wasn’t always the case, it now seems that our presidents must be tall, thin and TV-pretty.

    Similar to what TV and money have done to ‘sports,’ the President of the United States gets his office as a result of a media personality contest. Competence, intelligence, experience are all ignored or belittled. Staging is all.

  3. It is tragic how time and the societal consciousness are not typically synchronized. It may take us years to come to terms with and explain what has happened. Then, in decades, we may forget these lessons and make the same mistakes again.

    Yet I have faith that if we hold true as individuals, we are maturing as a group, and we may be able to alleviate this suffering before it starts the next time.