L. Paul Bremer ’59 Leads Reconstruction Efforts as United States Civilian Chief in Iraq

Although his job has been called the most difficult in the world, the highest-ranking United States civilian official in Iraq, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III ’59, has managed to pursue his goals for the war-torn nation with strong leadership and unwavering conviction. A graduate of Phillips Academy, Ambassador Bremer was appointed by President George W. Bush ’64 in May 2003 to lead reconstruction efforts in Iraq. From his offices in Baghdad’s Republican Palace, Bremer has overseen the restoration of electricity and water services to dozens of key cities and has worked towards the establishment of an independent government for Iraq. President Bush praised Bremer’s devotion to the reconstruction efforts, saying, “[Bremer has] a deep desire to have an orderly country in Iraq, a country that’s free and at peace—one where an ordinary person is free to achieve his or her dreams” Despite numerous setbacks, including last month’s suicide bombing attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Bremer has managed to make progress on a number of key fronts since his arrival in Iraq. Crime rates have subsided in many parts of the country and repairs to vital utilities damaged by the American troops’ offensive last March have succeeded. While the majority of Bremer’s time is devoted to overseeing rebuilding efforts, he is also active in the creation of a provisional Iraqi government to support the U.S. Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. According to Bremer, this “Governing Council” of 40 Iraqis will wield “real political power” to appoint interim ministers and approve budgets. The new assembly may have a Shiite Muslim majority, which would mark the first time in centuries that Sunni Muslims have not dominated Iraqi politics. The establishment of the Governing Council serves as the first step towards holding free elections for the leaders of an independent Iraqi state, as the delegates will be charged with writing the country’s constitution and mandating electoral procedures. Bremer took over command of the ORHA from retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Jay Garner, whose scant 40 days in Iraq were marked by the theft of thousands of ancient Middle Eastern artifacts and escalating violence between Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers. Prior to his appointment, Bremer worked as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Crisis Consulting Practice of March Inc., a company specializing in disaster relief services and training for corporations. He was also Managing Director of Kissinger Associates, another corporate consulting firm. Bremer also led a distinguished 23-year career in the U.S. foreign service, where he was recognized for his knowledge of counter-terrorism procedures. After successful tenures at the American Embassies in Afghanistan, Malawi and Norway, Bremer returned to Washington, D.C. in 1979 to serve as Executive Assistant to six Secretaries of State. Two years later, he was appointed Executive Secretary of the State Department and Special Assistant to the Secretary of State. After managing the State Department’s international affairs for two years, President Ronald Reagan named Bremer as the United States Ambassador to the Netherlands in 1983, where he served for three years before being appointed Ambassador-at-Large for Counter Terrorism. In 1999 he was named Chairman of National Commission on Terrorism. Bremer attended Yale University after Andover and earned a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He also holds a CEP from the University of Paris.