Wednesday, January 28, 2004

I've been studying the plan of the new Democratic front runner for rebuilding Iraq.

Unfortunately it seems to consist chiefly of the idea that he will somehow convince the international community to help us much more willingly than Bush did. Not that Bush isn't a poor diplomat, but nobody said or implied that they would have agreed to pay a major chunk if asked differently, so we'd better at least think about the possibility that no meant no - and that even maybe means no.

Virtually his only words about what should actually be done in Iraq, no matter how many or how few join us, besides his ideas about how Saddam should be tried, are:

Fourth, as we establish the rule of law, we urgently need to rebuild a sense of basic order. Today lawlessness and chaos, rampant violence and property destruction, threaten Iraqis and undermine the creation of a civil society. The job properly belongs to the new Iraqi security forces. And the United States and the allies we enlist need to do a far better job of training them – and then transferring authority to them.

The Iraqi military battalion we just trained suffered a massive desertion when about half the troops left over inadequate pay. We need to get the planning right and stop making elementary mistakes. We need realistic support, equipment and pay. And we need to get this Iraqi Security force into shape to achieve early successes so that Iraqis can have confidence in their army and the troops can have confidence in themselves.

Iraqi police forces also need adequate training and mentoring. Here at home, a police officer has four to six months of training. We may not have that luxury in Iraq, but training must be sufficient – not just speedy. And the police forces too need real support, equipment and pay. Countries like Italy, France, and Spain have national police forces with a paramilitary capability. They could contribute by preparing and mentoring a similar Iraqi force.

If we are facing a civil war, a police force won't solve the problem no matter who trains them.

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