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extended interviews


L. Paul Bremer III
L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer headed the American occupation government - the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) - during the critical first year following the fall of Saddam Hussein. In this interview, he talks about the key issues and decisions he confronted, including: the power battles in Washington; his orders on de-Baathification and dissolving the Iraqi army; his requests for additional troops; his disagreements with the military; and, the final handover of sovereignty to Iraqis. While admitting "disappointing results" in providing security, Bremer believes, overall, the CPA achieved a lot: "We put the Iraqis on the right path to a better political future and they now have, certainly, the right plans to rebuild their economy."


Lt. Gen. Jay Garner (Ret.)
Eight weeks before the war began, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld hired Garner to handle postwar Iraq. He had directed humanitarian efforts in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War. But after just a month, he was replaced by L. Paul Bremer,III. Here, Garner describes his plans for stabilizing the country that were very different from orders implemented by Bremer. He argues the U.S. occupation government could have avoided the mistakes that helped fuel the insurgency and sectarian violence. "I think we stood a chance ... "we would at least have [had] an opportunity to have a different outcome."


Robert Blackwill
Former Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill was brought in to the National Security Council (NSC) as deputy national security adviser for strategic planning, and presidential envoy to Iraq in August 2003. In this role, Blackwill served as National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's eyes and ears on the ground in Baghdad. Here he discusses the "serious estrangement" between the State and Defense Departments, the difficulties CPA Administrator Paul Bremer had in trying to bridge a disconnect between the military and civilian policies, and the significance of the Iraq's interim constitution. "If we're successful, [and] the kind of Iraq we wish does finally emerge, one of the two or three most important reasons will be that document," he explains.


Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone (2006), is an assistant managing editor of The Washington Post and was its bureau chief in Baghdad from April 2003 until October 2004, during the postwar period when the Coalition Provisional Authority governed Iraq. In this interview, he talks about the internal politics and key players surrounding the flawed decisions made during that first, critical year, and the resulting lost opportunities to stabilize Iraq's security situation.


Anthony Cordesman
In this interview, Anthony Cordesman, an expert in Middle East and national defense policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, argues that the U.S. mission in Iraq was doomed from the start by a failure of prewar planning. He maintains that key policy-makers were so blinded by ideology that they disregarded the historic lessons of nation-building and adopted a false set of assumptions about Iraq and its people. "They were believers," he tells FRONTLINE. "And frankly, when it comes to a contest between ideology and reality, reality always wins."


James Dobbins
A career diplomat, Dobbins participated in or oversaw postwar reconstruction efforts in five countries -- Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. After leaving the State Department, he moved to the RAND Corporation, where he directs the International Security and Defense Policy Center and conducted a study called America's Role in Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq. Dobbins gave a draft of his report to CPA administrator L. Paul Bremer, III before Bremer left for Iraq, and Bremer later passed the report to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush. Here he recounts the lessons learned in his experience; explains how nation-building became a pejorative phrase; and analyzes why the Bush administration modeled its postwar assumptions on Germany after World War II -- and why that was a bad idea. Dobbins describes the CPA's efforts as "heroic amateurism."


Michael Gordon
As chief military correspondent for The New York Times, Gordon was embedded with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division during the war and co-authored a book about his experiences, Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. Here, he describes the mixed reception U.S. troops received and how Baghdad quickly descended into looting and violence. He also recounts the disconnect between civilian policy-makers and the military on the ground in Iraq over de-Baathification, the dissolution of the Iraqi Army and other U.S. policies.


Thomas Ricks
A Pentagon correspondent for The Washington Post, Ricks is the author of Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. He is harshly critical of the war plan and lack of a postwar plan for Iraq, calling it "the worst war plan in American history." Here he details the mistakes the U.S. made that fueled the insurgency; explains why unity of civilian/military command in Baghdad was critical; and argues that the battle for Baghdad and the future of the country is occurring now, in 2006.

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posted oct. 17, 2006

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