Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s “visit to Baghdad”:http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/12/international/middleeast/12cnd-rumsfeld.html today to talk about cronyism and corruption was really about American concerns
that Iraq could fall prey to political purges motivated by religion, ethnicity, tribal or political affiliations that could upset the careful balance being built.
Right. What Rummy is _really_ warning against is radical de-Ba’athification, “which is in the air these days”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000868.php. (Click that link, please?)
Despite American proconsul L. Paul Bremer’s orders in May 2003 to dissolve the Ba’ath Party and sweep them into the dustbin of history, America now finds itself in need of many of those guys it threw out in the street two years ago. Former Ba’athists fill top leadership spots in the new Iraqi Army and in the Interior Ministry, among other positions. Education and Health ministries are full of ex-Ba’athists.
In other words, the United States, which spent billions of dollars and lost more than 1,500 soldiers to topple Saddam’s Ba’athist regime, is now warning the new regime headed by religious Shi’ite Ibrahim al-Jafari not to get rid of all of the Ba’athists.
It’s actually not a bad idea to keep some of the old guard around, as long as they’re loyal and don’t have blood on their hands. But the Shi’ites are circling and the guys who were party members before the war are getting nervous. So is the Defense Department, which doesn’t want to have to start over — again — two years after the war with a whole new cast of characters in the Iraqi chain of command to train.