Concerning Iraqi sovereignty

Did someone in the U.S. government just forget that we’d supposedly handed sovereign authority back to the Iraqis?

That an Iraqi Major General turns out to have been working for the other side is disappointing but not really surprising. We knew we were taking that risk when we started re-hiring Saddam Hussein’s generals.

What ought to be surprisng, though to date I’ve seen no discussion of it, is that he was arrested by the U.S. military, not by Iraqis, or even on the orders of the Iraqi government.

A country where foreign troops have arrest powers is not exercising sovereignty. The technical term for such a situation is “occupation.”

Are the Iraqi security forces in such shabby shape that they can’t even make an arrest? Or was the problem that we don’t trust even one unit of the Iraqi security forces to carry out an arrest in a case such as this rather than warning the suspect to flee?

Iyad Allawi, who is supposed to the the interim prime minister of sovereign Iraq, was in the middle of his campaign tour for President Bush, and gave no evidence of being aware of the arrest of one of his senior commandes. Couldn’t we at least have let him make the announcement, saying that the arrest was carried out by U.S. forces acting on his orders? Don’t we trust even him? Or didn’t anyone in the U.S. military think Allawi was worth bothering with?

Of course the government of Iraq is strongly dependent on the United States. No one doubts that. But ignoring both the legalities and the theatrics of sovereignty as we just did has to complicate the problem of all those Iraqi leaders who are still on our side.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

One thought on “Concerning Iraqi sovereignty”

Comments are closed.