“WE SHOULD START OVER”….Another draft report has been leaked to the press, this one a detailed look at the Iraqi police force in the wake of 2006’s “year of the police”:
The commission, headed by Gen. James L. Jones, the former top United States commander in Europe, concludes that the rampant sectarianism that has existed since the formation of the police force requires that its current units “be scrapped” and reshaped into a smaller, more elite organization, according to one senior official familiar with the findings. The recommendation is that “we should start over,” the official said.
….However, a new attempt to disband an Iraqi force would also be risky, given the armed backlash that followed the American decision to dissolve the Iraqi Army soon after the invasion of 2003.
This is becoming a comedy of the absurd. Scrap the Iraqi police force? Start over from scratch? Is this a joke? Even if we could do it, it means (a) putting 26,000 armed and pissed off Iraqis back on the street, (b) running the country without a police force until a new one is recruited and trained, and (c) spending two or three years building a replacement. And that’s the good news. The bad news is that there’s no reason to think the shiny new police force would be any better than the old one. It didn’t improve after all our efforts in 2006, after all. The unpleasant truth is that there’s a reason the police force acts essentially as an extension of the Shiite militias — namely that that’s exactly how the Shiite government wants it — and no reason to think that’s going to change anytime in the near future.
So let’s take stock. Pretty much everyone has lost confidence in Nouri al-Maliki, though there’s no replacement in sight who seems like a better bet. The police force is so corrupt that the best advice the Jones commission can offer is to disband it completely and start over from scratch. And the Iraqi army, after three years of intensive training designed by one Gen. David Petraeus, has a grand total of six battalions capable of operating on their own.
In other words, except for the fact that Iraq has a disfunctional government, a disfunctional police force, and a barely functional army, things are going great. I can’t wait to see how Crocker and Petraeus spin this into an argument for staying another four years.