PBS FRONTLINE: THE LOST YEAR IN IRAQ PART 3 OF 3
-Some people call the year of the CPA occupation the "lost year in Iraq." Would you agree with that description?-
We faced three challenges, and we did pretty well on two and not as well on the third. Ones which we did very well on was getting them a political process, a constitution, a path toward elections. They had three elections in 2005, which is remarkable, both for the region and in Iraq's history. They now have a democratically elected government. Those are pretty thin on the ground in that part of the world. So that's a substantial achievement.
We had to help the Iraqis rebuild their economy. Here we had some successes, not as much as I would have liked. It was very difficult to get the major amount of money that the American taxpayers have committed to Iraq spent while I was there. Less than 1 percent of the $18 billion had been spent on reconstruction by the time I left, which was very frustrating. But we had spent billions of Iraqi dollars, funds from the Iraqi government, on reconstruction.
Security was the area where we had, I think, the most disappointing results. Did we lose a year? Well, I don't know if we lost a year. The security situation was difficult. We faced an insurgency which was more resilient than we thought. We had not [had] good intelligence on that insurgency, certainly not for the first six months or so.
We had difficulty coming up with a military strategy to defeat the insurgency. There was, perhaps, some wishful thinking on the part of our military about the speed with which we'd be able to substitute Iraqi forces for coalition forces.
But on the whole, the American people can say we did a noble thing throwing over one of the most vicious regimes anywhere in the world at the end of the 20th century. We put the Iraqis on the right path, politically, to a better political future, and they now have got, certainly, the right plans to rebuild their economy.
Paul Bremer III