Thomas Sowell

Today, when more and more Iraqis are rejecting the outside terrorists whom the media keep calling "insurgents," and when our military is restoring more order than Iraq has seen in a while, the most intractable problem is the very government we set up.

General David Petraeus is mentioned only a couple of times, and briefly, in "Mugged by Reality." But those brief mentions seem to be revealing.

Right after the success of military operations in Iraq, General Petraeus' 101st Airborne had control of the city of Mosul. According to Agresto, "he ran it in radically different ways than the rest of Iraq was run" -- and Mosul was "calm" in contrast to other parts of Iraq.

Then, after control of Mosul was passed on to others, it "began to rival the worst sections of Baghdad for attacks on Coalition forces and violence against Iraqis."

One of the ways in which Petraeus ran Mosul differently from the way things were done in the rest of Iraq, according to Agresto, was not to get rid of existing public officials wholesale, despite their being members of the former ruling Baath Party.

Somebody has to run the basic institutions that make civilized life possible -- and you can't just get rid of those who know how to run those institutions before you have someone qualified to replace them. Apparently General Petraeus was pragmatic enough to understand that.

We may, belatedly, have found a man and an approach that work.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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