Friday, December 03, 2004

We Can All Feel Safe, Like Sharon Tate

Bernard Kerik, President Bush’s choice to replace Tom Ridge as Homeland Security Director, is an obvious choice given he was the Police Commissioner of NYC on 9/11 (nothing like a bit of revenge for motivation in Bushworld). It also turns out that Bernie can bloviate with the best of them; check out this editorial he penned for the Wall Street Journal a little over a year ago. Most striking is that he was officially the Interim Minister of the Interior in Iraq but in this op-ed he acts as if he was just a “senior policy advisor” on the trip to be nice. But why get caught up in nomenclature when there are out and out facts Kerik bungles?

There are his inconsistencies, like when he writes, “New Yorkers will remember that it took the Giuliani administration eight years to create the safest large city in the world,” but doesn’t explain why he devoted a measly four months to the job of getting an new Iraq police force up and running if the job needs so much devotion. (Let’s be kind and not belabor that the U.S. plan is to hold elections in less than a month.)

There’s the naïve beauty of the claim, “Like it or not, building a country from scratch takes time and money,” as that line seems to act as if Iraq failed to exist before we got there and that we didn’t “shock and awe” much of what was there into rubble.

There’s this bit, “My job was to assist in setting up this force again, with proper training, new values, a respect for human rights. The latter phrase—‘human rights’—has been absent from Iraq’s vocabulary for decades,” which must be hard for Iraqis to swallow knowing what went on at Abu Ghraib.

And that old phrase “what a difference a year makes” bites his argument’s ass when he insists, “And to those critics who think the answer is the deployment of more U.S. troops, I say: Caution!” After all, we had the announcement just yesterday of more troops heading off to the war, bringing the number of U.S. forces to an all-time high. Unless Kerik considers the Pentagon one of “those critics,” he got things a tad wrong with that claim.

And you have to loath the U.S.-centric bluster of lines like, “History has taught us that there’s always a cost for freedom. On 9/11 we learned that we'll pay now or we’ll pay later.” Beyond linking, yet again, Iraq and 9/11, and not really making sense—it seems we paid when the WTC came down and pay each time a soldier falls, too—the first-person plural here clearly excludes the people of Iraq. We pay the cost for their freedom.

Ultimately there’s this—Kerik says don’t criticize, just clap your hands and believe that the Tinkerbell Iraqi police forces will come to life. Or you could look at it like the Center for American Progress did in March of 2004:

The Bush administration has been forced to accelerate the “Iraqization” of the security forces. Over the past six months the United States has placed 150,000 Iraqis in newly reconstituted army, police, civil defense, and border forces. But in their rush to establish these forces, the United States has provided only minimal training. The insurgents have killed more than 600 Iraqi police and other security forces since the beginning of the U.S. occupation.

More importantly, the United States has not had adequate time to do the necessary background checks on the candidates. This has enabled the insurgents to infiltrate these organizations. On March 9, 2004, four members of the newly trained Iraqi police killed two American civilians who were working for the coalition authority. Because of the lack of confidence in the American-trained security forces, the Kurds and three Shiite factions have continued to rely on their own militias and refused to blend them into the American-established Iraqi forces. This could lay the groundwork for a civil war between these militias when sovereignty is turned over to the Iraqis.


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