Tuesday, January 22, 2008

De-Baathification -- or not

Here's a link to the Register's editorial on the Iraqi government's revision of the de-Baathfication edict handed down by then US Proconsul J. Paul Bremer in 2003, which forbade present or former members of Saddam's Ba'ath Party in the top four levels (of six) from holding any Iraqi government position. The decree threw a lot of midlevel bureaucrats who knew something about the infrastructure out of work and a lot of armed men with a greivance and no visible means of support into the arms of the insurgency.

(Did I ever tell you what a retired diplomat of my acquaintance said when Bremer was appointed to head the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003? "Ah, Jerry Bremer. He's almost as smart as he thinks he is.")

Anyway, the more I looked into this revision of the law, which was supposed to increase the number of former Ba'athists (generally Sunni) able to apply for government jobs and thus be a step toward reconciliation, the less reconciliatory it looks. If I get the fine print right, it prevents these former Ba'athists from being in the security forces, which could throw the whole Anbar American strategy of integrating those Sunni anti-al-Qaida fighters into a truly national military and police force, into a tailspin.

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