Monday, September 01, 2003

Iraqi police say they appreciate some of the new equipment and training Americans are providing, but they resent being lectured by US soldiers half their age. They ridicule Americans as too soft on the bad guys and have shown more than once that they know best how to catch criminals of the sort they've been chasing for years. Iraqis also worry that the United States is trying to impose a Western-style justice system that doesn't always translate in their Muslim-dominated culture.

"We have the same aim: to prevent crime. But we don't understand some of their ways, and they don't understand ours," said Jasim, a 19-year police veteran. "Somehow, we managed to do it before the Americans were here."

Americans counter that the old Iraqi police system, often used as an instrument of oppression during Saddam Hussein's regime, was undisciplined and plagued by corruption. Suspects were routinely beaten, US officials say, and police solicited bribes to compensate for the low police salaries.

According to Kerik, Iraqis need to learn some basics. "It seems normal to us, but you have to explain to them that you can't do things like torture and physical abuse," he said.

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