Red Lights in Baghdad

RED LIGHTS IN BAGHDAD….Here’s a funny thing. Just yesterday I was noodling about the rule of law (or lack thereof) in Iraq and thought to myself, Hell, they don’t even obey traffic laws in Baghdad. If you can’t get them to stop for a red light, how can you get them to stop shooting people in the street?

Today, as if someone was reading my mind, James Joyner links to this article from USA Today:

Inspector Adnan Kadhum of the Baghdad traffic police says he noticed the change about 10 days ago: The city’s notoriously unruly drivers suddenly started obeying his commands. They stopped when he signaled for them to stop; they went when he signaled for them to go.

“Before, you found hardly anyone listening to you,” the 27-year police force veteran says. Kadhum, 48, spent his days flailing around in 105-degree heat, sometimes waving his pistol in a futile attempt to make motorists follow his commands. “Now, by barely moving my hand, I get respect.”

As James points out, the same article also mentions some of the drawbacks of this newfound law and order, but basically I agree with him that this is a good sign: obeying traffic laws may sound trivial, but it requires a societal consensus that’s genuinely meaningful.

Yeah, it’s just an anecdote, and I generally try to pay more attention to broad trends than to anecdotes either good or bad. But still ? good news is good news. I’ll take what I can get.