Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Bureaucrats Matter

It is well acknowledged that the securing Iraq has been and continues to be the major preoccupation of international forces in Iraq. It is also widely acknowledged that the Bush administration made errors in its immediate post war execution of “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, principal among these critiques is L. Paul Bremer’s decision to de-baathify the Iraqi Military and Civil Service, as Fareed Zakaria puts it: “In one day, Bremer had upended the social structure of the country [35,000 bureaucrats, technocrats and military officers fired]. And did this without having in place a new ruling cadre that could take over from the old Sunni bureaucrats.” Over the last two or so years, the de-baathification of the military has either been slowed down, or abandoned, as the need for trained personnel rose and as did the realization that the insurgents relied on former army personnel. Whereas, the fight to train and equip a modern Iraqi security structures has dominated the press – right fully so – one is left to wonder what the situation in the civil service is like.

In their 2003 article (How to build a Democratic Iraq) in the magazine Foreign Affairs Adeed and Karen Dawisha, argued that the development of a competent, ethical, merit based civil service, would be a crucial element of the democracy project in Iraq. However, ABC White House Correspondent Martha Raddatz recently argued that the situation in Iraqi’s Civil Service, is rather wanting: “The ministries over there, from reports I’ve heard, are in very bad shape, it’s a very underreported story. The ministry of Interior, the State Department has not been able to fill slots in a lot of these ministries, and the Department of Defense has had to go in and do it instead.” One would hope that the Iraqi’s and American’s realize the importance of a competent, ethical and professional bureaucracy to deliver services to the common Iraqi and ensure the success of the democratic process.


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