Warlordism in Iraq

Moqtada al-Sadr finds a place at the political table without abandoning his private army, which is infiltrating the security forces.

Moqtada al-Sadr has joined the Shi’a coalition that dominates Iraqi politics as a full member; his party will have as many seats as each of the other two big Shi’a parties in the new legislature and is bargaining over which ministries it will control.

Meanwhile, Sadr remains a warlord, whose minions murder political opponents and ambush British troops. Elements of the police and military are openly loyal to Sadr, and he remains fanatically anti-American and pro-Iranian.

So when you read that we’re going to leave when “Iraqi security forces” are ready to take over, and that Iraq will soon have a “freely elected government,” remember what that means.

Update: Iyad Allawi, the first post-invasion Iraqi Prime Minister, thinks that conditions now are as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein.

Second update And Rummy’s fine with it. The death squads are “hypothetical,” and if they’re not hypothetical they’re a domestic problem for sovereign Iraq to deal with. “That’s life.”

No, seriously. That’s what the man said.

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