2003 April 14 Monday
Iraq Needs Order And Effective Policing

Writing in the Washington Post, R. Jeffrey Smith has written an excellent article on the problems of bringing law and order to post-war Iraq.

Security gaps stemming from this inadequacy had damaging consequences during peacekeeping deployments in Kosovo, Bosnia and Somalia, among other places, where criminal activity only increased after foreign forces arrived. After a year and a half serving in the top U.N. job in Kosovo, French physician Bernard Kouchner told me his most important lesson was that peacekeepers must bring along a law-and-order "kit" of trained police officers, judges and prosecutors armed with draconian security laws. Britain's Paddy Ashdown, the top international official in Bosnia, has similarly told me that the international community mistakenly emphasized reconstruction and democratic elections there, instead of moving to aggressively implant the rule of law through credible statutes, fair courts and uncorrupted police.

The former secret police and torturers of ex-totalitarian states invariably become the core of new organized crime groups in the era that follows the downfall of the old order. Russia provides an instructive example. There is no civil society. Anything above the level of family commands no loyalty. Large parts of society have become corrupt in order to survive. Others have engaged in smuggling and other activities with official support of the old regime as it worked around sanctions and barriers put in place against it by other countries.

The easiest part of rebuilding post-war Iraq is the physical reconstruction. Western construction firms can bring in needed equipment and repair the physical infrastructure. It is far harder to create a judiciary and police that are fair, diligent, competent, and uncorrupt. In some ways Iraq is an even tougher challenge than Russia because Iraq has tribal loyalties that create bigger competing family groups.

In the short run some efforts are being made to provide basic policing in Iraq.

The US State Department said Friday that 1,200 police and judicial experts would soon be sent to Iraq to advise on how to set up a new police force. And in Baghdad itself seven Iraqi police officers and some 150 professionals turned up Saturday in response to a US appeal to help restore order and services.

An opposition militia will also be used to help maintain order.

OUTSIDE NASIRIYAH, Iraq. April 13 -- The Pentagon has ordered U.S. forces here to quickly deploy a U.S.-sponsored opposition militia to Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, American and Iraqi exile sources said today.

To recruit and train a new police force will probably take a couple of years before its fully staffed and able to fulfill all of its duties. Even the regular police in Iraq were corrupt and venal. To train a new judiciary requires even more time. The creation of a healthy civil society is the most difficult task of all.

For more on Iraq post-war reconstruction see my Reconstruction And Reformation Archives.

Update: Some of the remaining Iraqi police may still have Baath Party loyalties.

Maj. Frank Simone, one of the civil affairs officers, told the Associated Press that the difficulty lies in distinguishing between police officers who could present a danger to U.S. forces -- by informing on them to die-hard Hussein loyalists -- and others who could be useful in meeting residents' pleas for increased security and a resumption of municipal functions.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 April 14 01:38 AM  Reconstruction and Reformation

Ron said at April 15, 2003 10:04 AM:

The only thing I might add is that prior to the whole El Salvador war (civil war?) mess was a well-meaning land reform program that got totally swamped by corrupt administrators and police. That is, the formation of a fair non-corrupt police force is important.

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