Iraq gets a new national holiday

I don’t pretend to any expertise in Iraqi political psychology, but it would be hard to think of a worse opening act for the new Iraqi council than establishing the day Baghdad fell to the infidels as the new national holiday. (*) What are these folks thinking about? Didn’t anyone in Washington learn in history class about how much damage the Weimar Republic took from its association with national defeat? Even those patriotic Iraqis who were glad to be rid of Saddam Hussein can’t be proud of the way it was done; why rub their noses in it?

Obviously, the day Saddam Hussein seized power shouldn’t be a holiday any more. But, unless there’s still substantial monarchist sentiment about, why not celebrate the day the monarchy was abolished? There was a time when the people around the world who wanted to get rid of kings looked to America as their leader. As it is, the commemoration of that event, which lots of Iraqis still probably think of fondly, has been given to the Baathists as a present.

If there hasn’t been anything in the last couple of thousand hears everyone on the council can agree on celbrating, how about having the national holiday on the anniversary of the triumph of Shelmanesser IV over Raamses I at the Battle of Karnesh?

(Okay, I don’t know whether there was a Shelmanesser IV, or whether Mesopotamia ever fought Egypt, and I just invented the Battle of Karnesh, but you get the idea: something ancient. Was there ever a time when the Mesopotamians and the Medes — ancestors of the Kurds — got together to stomp the Persians? That would be a good thing to celebrate.)

It all strikes me as an Amateur Hour performance, typical of an Administration that seems to reserve its limited stock of seriousness for war-fighting and partisan politics. Kevin Drum links to a truly chilling piece in the KC Star about the substitution of wishful thinking for serious planning in the pre-war preparations for the post-war challenges.

Oh, yes: Salam Pax’s Basra correspondent reports that it is now an act of physical courage for a woman to go to the market unveiled.

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: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com