Small Blessings


"Some tentative progress has been made under the new government." Namely, "Death squads in police uniforms no longer kidnap and kill with absolute impunity in parts of Sunni-dominated western Baghdad, many Iraqis say [emphasis added." The plan to continue de-militiafying the police: "Each brigade will be pulled from the field one by one and put through a six-week training course in policing and the rule of law." Can you imagine that?

Trainer: "Arrest people when you have evidence they're guilty."

Cop: "But what if they're members of the disfavored sect, can't we just kill them arbitrarily?"

Trainer: "No, that would be wrong."

Cop: "Oh, I hadn't realized. What about summary execution of my party's political adversaries?"

Trainer: "That's also wrong, morally speaking. Don't do it."

Cop: "Wow. This is useful training. How about torturing prisoners.

Trainer: "Go for it -- the rule of law rules!"

Should be good times. At any rate, as the article makes clear the problem with eliminating militia influence from the police is that the parties that run the militias are also running the government. They found a non-party person to run the Interior Ministry, but that just means he lacks political clout inside the government and can't really get things done.