The council is generating at least modest support inside Iraq—and even in neighboring Arab nations—though the U.S. team working with them is not as popular. Given the disastrous start for U.S. administrators, it is not difficult to see why.
Shortly after the war ended, State Department officials decided to go against the wishes of President Bush to eradicate the remnants of Saddam’s iron fist. By appointing a number of high-ranking Baath party members to prominent posts—the most egregious being the reinstatement of Saddam’s personal physician as president of Baghdad University—ordinary Iraqis were outraged at the United States. It took the new civilian administrator, Paul Bremer, to smooth things over.
In his first major move upon arriving in May, Bremer issued a sweeping de-Baathification order, banning anywhere from 15,000 – 30,000 former Saddam loyalists from holding any public office, including at schools or hospitals. Since then, Bremer has avoided much of the dissension that plagued his predecessor, Jay Garner. Wanting to assess the situation for himself, Bremer pushed back the timetable for various projects, including the creation of a new political leadership.
The council is off to a good start—even if some of its members should not have been named in the first place. But just as Bremer fixed the initial mess, maybe he can do the same with this one of his own making. Whether he does or not, though, it would be nice for the media to fill in Americans on his progress.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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