On May 15, 2003, one day after he arrived in Baghdad to head the Coalition Provisional Authority, Bremer issued CPA Order No. 1, which barred members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party from all but the lowliest government posts. The next day, he issued CPA Order No. 2, which disbanded the Iraqi army.
With those two orders, the future of Iraq was doomed, the already-likely failure of the American mission was sealed, and the prospect of a sectarian civil war—enveloping not only Iraq but the entire Middle East—became nearly inevitable. Not only did the orders remove the country’s two main indigenous institutions of authority, they also put 50,000 civil servants and a quarter-million soldiers out of a job, many of them with access to weapons. In other words, Bremer’s orders amounted to a recipe for resentment, anarchy, and violence.