In March of 2003, the US led invasion of Iraq went quickly. By early May, the US President, George W Bush, declared aboard an aircraft carrier that major combat operations were over and the coalition forces had prevailed. While the US military was already working with the fallen governments police forces to establish order, then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced that a man named Paul Bremer would be responsible for writing the laws and establishing the rule of law in Iraq.
In May, 2003, no one in the media questioned what Paul Bremer was doing. The public position of various administration spokesmen was that the US would be in Iraq for 10 years or longer. We were an occupying force. We were going to hold elections and set up a model democracy that would be a shining example for other middle-east countries to follow. Then came Paul Bremer's first order in May: "shoot the looters."
When General Zinni argued with Paul Bremer on this issue, he was quickly relieved of his command and replaced with another General. The order to shoot the looters was never carried out due to intervention by Rumsfeld.
However, a few weeks later in May, 2003, with the approval of Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush and his VP Dick Cheney, Paul Bremer issued his now infamous debaathification order that led to the purging of tens of thousands of Sunni's, nearly all of them members of the Saddam Hussein's Baath party, from the government. In addition, the 500,000 man army was dissolved.
Bremer, Bush and Rumsfeld did not foresee that a million or more Sunnis without jobs would get violent and rebel against the invaders.
The far reaching results of Bremer's order was to instantly create an economic depression in Anbar province among the Sunni population. With only Shiites and Kurds eligible for jobs and with few jobs to be had, resentment grew quickly and so did an insurgency that was in its infancy.
Dec 17, 2006: On NBC's Meet the Press with Tim Russert this morning is former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich who said that there was an appalling 60% unemployment rate in Iraq. He said that taking steps to reduce the unemployment rate such as setting up a government work program would reduce the insurgency and is an approach that needs to be tried. I couldn't agree more.
When Saddam Hussein was in power, everyone who wanted to work had a job. While the standard of living was low, there was 100% employment as the socialist government was the employer of last resort. When the US Coalition under Paul Bremer took over, more than a million Sunni's, Baath party members, were sent home with no severance pay, no unemployment compensation and no job offers.
As the violence against the foreign occupiers escalated, the electrical grid was damaged and soon there was little or no electricity. The air conditioners and lights no longer worked and clean tap water stopped flowing. Nearly 2 million Iraqi's fled the country to neighboring Jordan and Syria while an insurrection against the occupiers grew from within the country.
There is little doubt that the insurgency has been fueled mainly by the extremely high unemployment rate. The role of Al-Queda, vastly exaggerated by the Bush Adm, has been less than 5% of the insurgents. The combination of no jobs and no electricity makes for vast human misery and suffering that has led to the extreme violence in Iraq that erupts daily.
While religious differences is a strain in iraq between Sunni's and Shiites, it is not the main reason for the insurgency - massive unemployment remains the number one cause. You could say "It's the economy stupid."
US policy in Iraq unintentionally promoted sectarian violence when Bremer banned all former Baath party members (Sunni's) from government jobs and favored the Shiites for the few jobs that were available. When the Shiites were favored by coalition forces for government jobs, it caused resentment among the Sunni's who led horrendous attacks against the Shiites, mostly those applying for jobs working for the government. Sending more troops into Baghdad will not stop this violence. Job creation alone will end the insurgency and restore stability.
What needs to be done is for US forces to cease all combat activities and instead offer only humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq at 100 or more distribution centers. US forces will give surplus food to the needy, offer free medical care and electrical generators and cash for temporary work in local projects deemed important by military commanders plus the following. -
If you agree with this 10 point plan to stabilize Iraq and end the violence by changing the US mission in Iraq from a combat role to a humanitarian one, and to finance these efforts without adding to the interest-bearing US National debt, send a copy of this 2 page proposal to your Congressman and US Senator with a handwritten note asking them to introduce legislation to implement this plan now!