Joel Mowbray

For those former top Baathists who were not as fortunate, Gen. Petraeus established a jobs program, geared in particular to helping former officials from the military and the security forces, according to two administration officials.

As President Bush was promising Iraqis their first-ever taste of a democratic free society, Mosul remained under the authority of the Baathist old guard.  Mosul?s top Iraqi official, until recently, was Gov. Ghanem al-Basso, a former high-ranking Baathist, and the city council was stacked with Baathists.  (Al-Basso was fired last month for his Baathist past, but only after Gen. Petraeus had moved on.)

It?s not so much that Gen. Petraeus has a soft spot for Saddam loyalists; as he has explained to many reporters, his actions were motivated by a desire to dampen animosity toward America and de-fang any resistance movement.

His strategy, however, appears to have failed.

U.S. officials have notified folks in Washington, including in a CIA report, that the most-organized and best-structured resistance in Iraq is in Mosul, according to an administration official familiar with the report.  Not that that should be too surprising, though.  It wasn?t long ago that news coverage was dominated by violence in Mosul, not Fallujah.

Gen. Petraeus has given no indication that he plans to change course at all in his handling of former high-ranking Saddam loyalists, evidence in Mosul and elsewhere notwithstanding.

Speaking to reporters last week, CPA spokesman Dan Senor said, ?There is no room in the new Iraq for the Baathist ideology and for the most senior members of the former regime that had a hand in some of the worst Baathist crimes and brutality.?

If only that were true.

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, 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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