March 02, 2003

Why the State Department (Not

Why the State Department (Not the Pentagon) Wants Tommy Franks to be MacArthur

If a less tempestuous one.

Here's part of the reason: "When Saddam suddenly ordered the release of tens of thousands of prisoners from the notorious Abu Ghraib prison last fall, the surge of inmates from within the walls and family members from without overwhelmed prison guards and crushed a number of people to death at the very moment of freedom. Reporters who ventured into the bowels of the prison were struck by the appalling odors of long human confinement. When the seal on Iraq is broken, the surge will be just as intense, and the smell of decades of repression just as rank. ''With the removal of the dictator,'' says Thomas Carothers, a democracy expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, ''political life will begin immediately,'' and unless American troops are able to provide civil order while they hunt down weapons depots and resisting units of the Special Republican Guard, it will initially look more like vigilantism than party-building. Peter Galbraith, a professor at the National Defense University in Washington, says: ''As the American troops sweep north, they'll pass Basra in the early days. Presumably they won't go into the city. Then who's going to govern the city? Will there be another uprising? I think there's a good chance.''

Sure, the disparate Iraqi exiles will have a big role to play. But, contra some Pentagon thinking from quarters like Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, the U.S. will have to work with many of the individuals (below the corrupt top levels) currently in Iraq. As Condi Rice said, there is a bit of the London Poles to the overseas Iraqi opposition, ie. they haven't been there in decades.

And more on the MacArthur angle from Slate.

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