Paul Bremer landed in Baghdad on May 12, 2003, and departed little more than a year later, on June 28, 2004. His job in Iraq began just days after President Bush victoriously declared the “mission accomplished,” and it ended with a surreptitious departure from the Baghdad airport lest Bremer’s plane be targeted by insurgents.
As head of the Coalition Provisional Authority and with ambassadorial rank, Bremer was to initiate a process that would return sovereignty to Iraq. Daily events quickly revealed that the underpinnings of a sovereign state—security, political institutions and fiscal regulations—were almost wholly lacking. Bunkered down in the Green Zone, Bremer found himself faced with some tasks he may not have anticipated.