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Former Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III ’59 Visits PA To Share His Experiences in Iraqi Government

Former Ambassador to Iraq L. Paul Bremer III ’59 returned to PA for the first time in 47 years to speak about his time in Iraq, his involvement and perspectives on the war in Iraq, and his new book My Year in Iraq. Chair of the History and Social Sciences Department Peter Drench interviewed Ambassador Bremer in front of a large audience of students, parents, faculty, and alumni. Ambassador Bremer was involved in Iraq subsequent to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. He was appointed Director of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, succeeding Jay Garner. As part of his role as the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, from May 11, 2003 until the transfer of political power to the Iraqi people on June 28, 2004, Ambassador Bremer reported solely to U.S Secretary of Defense Colin Powell After serving the government during his time in Iraq, President George W. Bush ’64 awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work. Many different topics surrounding the controversy over the Iraq situation were brought up, including Ambassador Bremer’s views on the United States’ performance overall in Iraq, the position of European countries, the role of the media surrounding the controversy, the War on Terrorism, and the debate over Iraq’s future as a democracy. Both Ambassador Bremer’s support and criticisms for the Bush Administration were addressed. After the live interview, members of the audience were invited to ask Ambassador Bremer questions. The audience inside Tang Theater was a diversely opinionated group. Andrew Badger ’06 said, “I felt that [Ambassador Bremer] misrepresented the facts and that he picked and chose what part of the question he wanted to answer.” When Ambassador Bremer was asked by an audience member what one event from his time in Iraq stood out to be an accomplishment or something that he would have done differently his answer was that the moment he felt most accomplished was at 3:45 AM March 1st 2004 when Iraq agreed on its constitution. After graduating from PA, Ambassador Bremer continued a lengthy educational career, which included a B.A. from Yale University, a CEP from the Institut D’Etudes Politiques of the University of Paris, and an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. During his talk Ambassador Bremer noted that from a young age he was interested in international affairs. He said that while at Andover, he studied Latin and French which gave him the general interest in international affairs and because his father was U.S. Navy veteran who made sure to instill every aspect of the Andover motto of “Non Sibi” within his children. Ambassador Bremer spoke of the fact that throughout his career, he tried to keep to the words of his father, wanting to pay back his debts to society. What originally began as a planned five-year commitment to service before beginning a career in business turned into 23 years spent in the public service. Among other things, Ambassador Bremer mentioned his first foreign service posting, in Afghanistan. When asked by Mr. Drench asked how he chose and why he wanted to be posted in Afghanistan, Ambassador Bremer gave three reasons. He wanted to go to a place that he had to travel to, he wanted to go to a developing country, and lastly he wanted the country to have a medium sized embassy. He joked that when he requested to be placed in Iraq that he was immediately accepted so that they could send him there before he had a chance to change his mind. Before utilizing his degree in business as Chairman and CEO of the Crisis Consulting Practice of Marsh, Inc. and Managing Director of Kissinger Associates, Inc. Ambassador Bremer worked on the State Department as Executive Secretary of the State Department under the Ronald Reagan Administration. He was later appointed the Ambassador to the Netherlands and afterwards the Ambassador-at-Large for Counter Terrorism by Ronald Reagan. On what Ambassador Bremer’s lecture would bring to the PA community Mr. Drench said, “ I hope it’ll have an affect to make people reflect carefully…It’s important for us to be critical-minded citizens and not settle for simple slogans, but also to ask–ourselves as well as public officials–how we know what we know.”