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'We Should Start Over'

As if we needed even more bad news from Iraq, an independent examination of the Iraqi police shows a force that is so far gone, it might need to be sc

As if we needed even more bad news from Iraq, an independent examination of the Iraqi police shows a force that is so far gone, it might need to be scrapped altogether.

An independent commission established by Congress to assess Iraq’s security forces will recommend remaking the 26,000-member national police force to purge it of corrupt officers and Shiite militants suspected of complicity in sectarian killings, administration and military officials said Thursday.

The commission, headed by Gen. James L. Jones, the former top United States commander in Europe, concludes that the rampant sectarianism that has existed since the formation of the police force requires that its current units “be scrapped” and reshaped into a smaller, more elite organization, according to one senior official familiar with the findings. The recommendation is that “we should start over,” the official said.

This is a mess of the highest order. The Iraqi police force, which presumably is responsible for helping keep local communities safe and orderly, is reportedly corrupt to its core and overrun by Shiite militias. We could disband the police force, but when we disbanded the Iraqi Armey in 2003, it generated a backlash that helped create the insurgency. The prospect of putting 26,000 well-armed, angry young men out of work, at our request, is, shall we say, unappealing. For that matter, Iraq would be left with no police force for a few years while we tried to build a new one from scratch.

We could also try to retrain the police, and remove sectarianism from the ranks, but we’ve tried that before and it hasn’t worked.

As Kevin Drum put it, "This is becoming a comedy of the absurd."

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