Bremer Statement 5/15/2003 - History

Bremer Statement 5/15/2003 - History

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Ambassador Bremer Statement from Baghdad, Iraq

(Opening statement from Ambassador Bremer's press conference in Baghdad, Iraq.)

Good afternoon. Before I take your questions, IÕd like to make a few comments.

IÕm delighted to be in Iraq. President Bush sent me to help the Iraqi people retake and rebuild their own country. In the short time that I have been here, I have seen many symbols and examples of the depth of depravity and evil of the former president, Saddam Hussein.

IÕve seen dozens and dozens of buildings, built purely for his own self-aggrandizement. And IÕve seen the poverty in which he forced so many of his people to live. In the last few days, IÕve seen the shocking and haunting pictures of mass graves which contain some of the thousands and thousands of Iraqis he murdered. I have heard from dozens of Iraqi citizens about their gratitude that the coalition has freed them from this horror.

Saddam Hussein was a truly evil man who repressed, tortured and murdered his people. He didnÕt go a day too soon. And now that the Iraqi people are free from his terror, they are rightly looking forward to a new beginning.

It is my responsibility as administrator of the international coalition to help the Iraqi people to turn Iraq into a stable, safe, peaceful and prosperous country. I take it seriously. And IÕm going to make sure that we help them in every way possible.

Across most of Iraq, life is already better.
? The regime of fear and oppression is gone.
? The ShiÕa of Iraq have been able to honor their religious traditions for the first time in decades.
? Town councils and local politicians are starting to meet, and openly and freely select their leaders.
? Water quality is better in Basra than it has been for years.
? More Iraqis now have access to electricity than ever before.

But there remain a number of problems, particularly law and order in Baghdad. IÕve travelled around Baghdad, and seen the shops open and people going about their lives. But there is a serious law and order issue, which we continue to address. Saddam released over 100,000 convicted prisoners onto the streets last October. Many of these people were political prisoners, but many of them were common, violent criminals. ItÕs time the criminals were back in jail. And thatÕs where weÕll put them. In the past 48 hours, we have arrested about 300 criminals.

Police are coming back to work, and weÕre starting to train them.. In the old days, they received their orders from on high. In the new Iraq, they will be answerable to the Iraqi people. And those who were on high, the Ba'athists who used their power to repress the Iraqi people, will be removed from office. The Coalition Provisional Authority banned the BaÕath Party on April 16th.

Shortly, I will issue a further order on measures to extirpate Ba'athists and Ba'athism from Iraq forever.
? We have and will aggressively seek to identify these people, and remove them from office.
? We have hunted down and will continue to deal with those members of the old regime who are sabotaging the country and the coalitionÕs efforts.
? We will ensure that representations of Saddam Hussein and other Ba'athist symbols are removed systematically from public display.
? And we will work with the Iraqis to set up a process of bringing Ba'athist officials to justice for their past crimes.

But we must do more than deal with the past. We will provide the conditions for Iraqis to govern themselves in the future. To that end, the Coalition Provisional Authority will work with responsible Iraqis to begin the process of establishing a government representative of all the Iraqi people.

Finally, IÕm delighted to confirm that the United Nations mission here has agreed that the U.N. will use oil-for-food funds to purchase the Iraqi cereal crop, now being harvested. This will be a first. Saddam Hussein preferred to manipulate the cereal harvest for political ends, while he used much of the oil-for-food money to build projects like his Olympic stadium. When I met with the U.N. representative yesterday, we both agreed on the importance of securing a new United Nations resolution to allow the Iraqi people quickly to make use of their money now held by the United Nations. I hope that the Security Council will work swiftly on the draft resolution before them.

Thank you, and I am pleased to take your questions.

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Girl with a Pearl Earring

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Girl with a Pearl Earring, oil painting on canvas (c. 1665) by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer, one of his most well-known works. It depicts an imaginary young woman in exotic dress and a very large pearl earring. The work permanently resides in the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague.

An observant and deliberate painter, Vermeer produced only 36 known works in his lifetime, while many of his contemporaries completed hundreds. Like his peers, he mostly depicted scenes of ordinary life, later called “genre” painting, often of women at daily tasks. Notable examples included Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window (c. 1657) and The Music Lesson (c. 1665). He occasionally signed his paintings. While Girl with a Pearl Earring bears “IVMeer,” it is undated. Historians believe Vermeer painted the small piece (17.52 × 15.35 inches [44.5 × 39 cm]) around 1665, during the period in which he executed a group of paintings with a shared pearl motif.

Girl with a Pearl Earring represents a young woman in a dark shallow space, an intimate setting that draws the viewer’s attention exclusively on her. She wears a blue and gold turban, the titular pearl earring, and a gold jacket with a visible white collar beneath. Unlike many of Vermeer’s subjects, she is not concentrating on a daily chore and unaware of her viewer. Instead, caught in a fleeting moment, she turns her head over her shoulder, meeting the viewer’s gaze with her eyes wide and lips parted as if about to speak. Her enigmatic expression coupled with the mystery of her identity has led some to compare her to the equivocal subject in Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (c. 1503–19). Unlike the Mona Lisa, however, Girl with a Pearl Earring is not a portrait but a tronie, a Dutch term for a character or type of person. A young woman might have sat for Vermeer, but the painting is not meant to portray her or any specific individual in the same way that Leonardo’s piece portrayed an existing person (likely Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine merchant). Vermeer’s subject is a generic young woman in exotic dress, a study in facial expression and costume. The work attests to Vermeer’s technical expertise and interest in representing light. The soft modeling of the subject’s face reveals his mastery of using light rather than line to create form, while the reflection on her lips and on the earring show his concern for representing the effect of light on different surfaces.

Although now a highly regarded artist, Vermeer was not well known outside of his native city of Delft during his lifetime or in the decades after. Historians credit the 19th-century French critic Étienne-Joseph-Théophile-Thoré (under the pseudonym of William Bürger) for reassessing the artist’s work, which eventually led to Vermeer’s distinguished reputation. Even so, Girl with a Pearl Earring became one of Vermeer’s more famous pieces only around the turn of the 21st century, with the 1995 blockbuster exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the publication of the best-selling novel Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier in 1999. The book fashioned the painting’s subject into a housemaid named Griet who works in Vermeer’s home and becomes his paint mixer. It was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film in 2003 starring Scarlett Johansson as the fictional Griet and Colin Firth as Vermeer.

As the Mauritshuis building underwent renovation in 2012, Girl with the Pearl Earring traveled to Japan, Italy, and the United States. It drew crowds in each location, attesting to its now firm place in audience regard. When Girl returned to the Netherlands in 2014, the Mauritshuis announced it would no longer lend out the painting, assuring visitors that the museum’s main attraction would always be in its home.

The museum later embarked on a two-year investigation of the artwork, publishing the findings in 2020. Using modern imaging techniques to look at layers beneath the surface, researchers uncovered a green curtain behind the girl and confirmed that she has eyelashes, though they may be hard to discern. Researchers also tested Vermeer’s materials, mapping the sources of his pigments. They discovered that he liberally used the costly ultramarine, a pigment derived from the semiprecious stone lapis lazuli, found only in what is now Afghanistan, for the headscarf. He also used a red pigment derived from an insect living in Mexico and South America for the woman’s lips.

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