The good, bad and truly stupid - Ed Brock

Well, now that was just dumb in so many ways.

What possesses certain people to cause them to not only do something incredibly dumb like strip a bunch of Iraqi prisoners and make them form a human pyramid, but to also take pictures of themselves committing the crime?

Dumb, dumb and dumber still.

And of course this comes at a time when a recent USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll survey shows that, depending on whether or not you count the Iraqi Kurds, more than half of the respondents said they wanted American troops to leave. The same poll revealed that 58 percent of the respondents think American troops conduct themselves badly, although only 7 percent based their opinion on personal experience.

But still another result of the poll serves to highlight the intelligence of a recent military decision and a hint on what should be our focus as part of an exit plan from Iraq.

Killing Iraqi police officers is frowned upon by the Iraqi people.

They have no problem shooting at our guys, but gunning for the local boys is less appealing.

Meanwhile, over at Fallujah, somebody had the good sense to put the Iraqi army in charge of security.

This is what we need to be doing.

The Catch 22 of the Iraqi War is that we shouldn't leave Iraq until the country is stable, but our presence is the greatest cause of the current instability. Thus, it behooves us to find a way to keep the country together in our absence.

One way, or dare I say the way, is to empower the Iraqi people, to do all we can to encourage them to make the right decisions and then let them make those decisions.

Along with reinstating the Iraqi army and continuing to train the Iraqi police force something must be done to make use of the various militias already present. If left alone those militias can become armies in an Iraqi civil war.

If they are put under a unified command and forced to train together they might be useful. The trick will be, first, to get them to work together and, next, to gradually disarm them.

Of course, that's something that will have to be done by the Iraqis, which is the basic point I have here.

It seems like common sense, but it would seem, judging by our plans for a huge embassy to be built in Iraq and the continued presence of Ahmad Chalabi as the next possible ruler of Iraq, that some of us don't see that common sense. It was Chalabi, that Pentagon pet, who fed our hawks in the Pentagon with false information about the danger of Saddam Hussein before the war and who urged the dissolution of the Iraqi army and the purging of all Baathists from Iraqi political positions.

Fortunately Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator in Baghdad, has seen the negative results of that policy and, as evidenced by the change of power at Fallujah, is working to remedy the situation.

The Iraqi people will likely view any government led by Chalabi as a puppet government and will not support it. It might seem like a good idea for us to maintain control over Iraq even after the scheduled June 30 transfer of power to the interim Iraqi government, but I think it is unwise.

Those stupid soldiers who tortured the Iraqi soldiers (I'm surprised they were smart enough to figure out the camera) have just pounded a big nail in the coffin for our attempts to win hearts and minds in Iraq. If we are really there to help those people, then we need to teach them how to help themselves and then get out for real.

Ed Brock covers public safety and municipalities for the News Daily. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 254 or via e-mail at ebrock@news-daily.com.