If Brit Hume’s looking for any tough last-minute questions for the GOP, he can do worse than this. Bush de-Baathified the Iraqi army in 2003 by disbanding it and ended up with an insurgency; now he’s being told to de-Sadrify the police the same way. What to do now with the 26,000 Iraqi cops, not all of whom are militiamen, who’ll be none too pleased to have their paychecks cut off if the panel’s recommendation is implemented?
The 20-member panel of mostly retired senior military and police officers concludes that Iraq’s military, in particular its Army, shows the most promise of becoming a viable, independent security force with time. But the group predicts an adequate logistics system to support these ground forces is at least another two years away.
The report also offers a scathing assessment of Baghdad’s Ministry of Interior and recommends scrapping Iraq’s national police force, which it describes as dysfunctional and infiltrated by militias…
It describes these units as fragile, ill-equipped and infiltrated by militia forces. And they are led by the Ministry of Interior, which is “a ministry in name only” that is “widely regarded as being dysfunctional and sectarian, and suffers from ineffective leadership.”
Accordingly, the study recommends disbanding the national police and starting over.
“Its ability to be effective is crippled by significant challenges, including public distrust, sectarianism (both real and perceived), and a lack of clarity about its identity — specifically whether it is a military or a police force,” the report states.
WaPo’s story on the report contains an extra ominous detail that the AP’s doesn’t, that “Maliki is perceived as bypassing the Ministry of Defense and the chain of command to create ‘a second, and politically motivated’ command structure in the army.” CNN corroborated that four months ago with a bombshell about Iraq’s “Office of the Commander in Chief,” which is ostensibly an advisory group on military matters but in fact operates over the head of the Defense and Interior Ministries by replacing security officials who act too forthrightly against Shiite groups. Needless to say, that’s a much bigger problem than rebuilding the force, especially when they’re trying to integrate Sunni tribesmen and insurgents into it as a reward for helping purge Anbar of Al Qaeda.
The Pentagon’s already issued a statement rejecting the idea and promising to work harder on “re-vetting.”
Update: The Dems take the incremental approach by floating the idea of demanding a plan for withdrawal without any actual requirement for Bush to implement that plan. That’ll be next. Doubtless the Pentagon does have some plan in greater or lesser detail; the question is, will Bush concede this step knowing what’ll follow?