Wednesday, August 13, 2003


Its the whole thing here.
I tagged along the other day with Bernard Kerik, the dynamo former New York City police chief who is in Baghdad retraining the Iraqi cops. We sat in on a class where a U.S. police trainer and his translator were going through the basics of how to start an interrogation. The Iraqi policemen, who four months ago thought removing a suspect's fingernails was how to start an interrogation, dutifully took notes in their U.S.-provided notebooks.

What struck me most, though, was the new "mission statement" for the Iraqi police, posted next to the blackboard in English and Arabic. It said: "We the Iraqi Police Force protect human rights and uphold our laws by serving our citizens and community for the unity and freedom of Iraq."

That statement exemplifies just how radical and revolutionary the U.S. nation-building project in Iraq is. Half the words in that statement were meaningless here four months ago. Human rights? Laws? Citizens? They still have no meaning, but the intent to endow them with some is what is radically new. For 50 years, Iraq, and the Arab world generally, has seen only the status quo side of U.S. power: American power used to buttress the old authoritarian order. Iraqis and other Arabs are now being treated to something radically new: our ideas, the revolutionary side of American power. They still don't quite believe it.

No comments: