Thursday, May 08, 2003

The Iraqi people haven't seen democracy, and don't really know how it works. So here, via Billmon, are a couple of items which show how the United States military is trying to make it look like what they're used to:

We're giving them some familiar faces in the leadership:

Scores of Baath members have reclaimed jobs as managers, directors and directors-general, the most senior positions under ministers and their deputies, in several large ministries, including those responsible for trade, industry, oil, irrigation, health and education. Numerous Baathists also have been welcomed back to the top ranks of the national police force, which the U.S. administration authorized to resume operations Sunday to curb lawlessness on the streets of Baghdad and other large cities.

In some cases, even those at the top have Baath credentials. Baghdad's new police chief, Gen. Hamid Othman, had previously been the chief -- a post that required party membership. The acting minister of industry, Ahmed Rashid Gailini, said in an interview that he, too, was a party member, although at "a very low rank." Others in the ministry, including at least one director-general, held more significant posts in the party leadership, according to ministry employees.

And we're following the policies they're used to regarding freedom of the press:

The U.S. Army issued orders for troops to seize this city's only television station. ... Officers familiar with the matter said military officials were uncomfortable with the station's programming. They wanted to apply a U.S. military formula for gauging the station's accuracy, balance and trustworthiness, and if the programming fell short, the station would be shut.

But then again, things are slightly different -- for instance, they're having to adjust to the procedures we used for our last presidential election:

In a pattern likely to be repeated across Iraq, the members of the interim council [in Mosul] will be chosen by an electorate of about 200 prominent local leaders, and ordinary citizens will not have a vote.

Of course, some Americans have to adjust to what makes the Iraqis comfortable in this respect -- the US officer who received the order to seize the TV station refused and was relieved of duty. But, with enlightened policies like this, I'm sure that everyone will get used to the new reality very soon.

Also at Billmon's blog, the Francis Ford Coppola version of catfights at Casa Dubya, Heart of Dimness. Mosul election link added late, via The Sideshow


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