De-Baathification battle continues in Iraq

LA Times:

Serious new divisions have emerged between the Bush administration and its Iraqi allies over the Baghdad government's refusal to enact a reform that the White House considers crucial to its new strategy for bringing the country's violence under control.

In spite of a commitment by Iraq's prime minister to its passage, legislation that would ease rules barring former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party from government service has been blocked by the country's Shiite-dominated parliament.

U.S. officials repeatedly have expressed confidence that Prime Minister Nouri Maliki would work for passage of "de-Baathification" reform. However, they have begun to express disappointment over the Iraqi stalemate, saying that the reform remains a top political priority and is essential to convince the country's Sunni minority that it can receive fair treatment in the new system.

One U.S. official said the reform, far from advancing as promised, was "moving backward" and "almost dead in the water."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and State Department official David Satterfield, her top Iraq advisor, paid an unannounced visit to Baghdad last weekend for consultations with top Iraqi officials. But on this issue, aides said, they came away discouraged.

Administration officials also have expressed disappointment with the work of a special Iraqi panel on de-Baathification headed by Ahmad Chalabi, the U.S.-trained financier who became controversial as an advocate for the invasion of Iraq.

...
The State Department has been pushing policies like this for decades and around the world. There may be some places where they may work, but the Iraqi reluctance is not irrational. For it to work the Baath party itself would have to renounce its objectives of seizing power in Iraq by force if necessary which would be a necessity. This is hard to do while you are exploding people and car bombs in Shia market places killing non combatants for the crime of being Shia and going shopping.

The State Department gave similar advice to the Diem regime in South Vietnam. Diem wisely refused the advice of a series of ambassadors and it eventually got him killed, but if he had followed the advice his country would never have had a chance of resisting the communist aggression that eventually overwhelmed the country after the Democrats in congress stabbed them in the back.

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