Monday, June 30, 2003

# Posted 10:10 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SPEAK OF THE DEVIL: Kevin Drum expressed his concern yesterday that the US is appointing too many Ba'athists to influential posts in occupied Iraq. Then today, American forces arrested the mayor of Najaf, a former military official, on charges of corruption and kidnapping.

So does that mean we're appointing Saddam's henchmen to high office, or that we're able to recognize and correct our mistakes with reasonable speed and accuracy? I tend to favor the second explanation, given that we haven't heard much about Ba'athists being appointed to high office.

Paul Bremer seems to be rather fixated on de-Ba'athification, so I imagine that lower-level officials are mindful of its importance as well. In Najaf, for example, the mayor's arrest apparently came in respone to public dismay with his Ba'athist past.

It also wouldn't surprise me if the WaPo's recent article on reinstated Ba'athists had something to do with the arrest in Najaf. In fact, the WaPo explicitly identified the mayor of Najaf as a former Ba'athist whose reinstatment had led to popular resentment.

While it would be better if occupation forces acted even before the media let them know what was wrong, it is still quite remarkable that a single article (probably) led to immediate action. Often, the government does nothing until it is avalanched with negative press coverage. Thus, the occupation forces's apparent responsiveness demonstrates a real commitment to promoting democracy Iraq.
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