POST-WAR IRAQ: Robert Pollock has a very different view of the Iraqi street than I opined on yesterday. It's also a much more encouraging report than that from WaPo, which bemoaned the current lack of Iraqi local governance.

On the street, opinion of Iraq's would-be leaders [prospective Iraqi leaders] is decidedly more skeptical--perhaps understandable in a country that has not learned to expect great things from politicians. "No to [Shiite religious leader] Hakim, no to Chalabi," is a common refrain. "I want America to stay here . . . kill Saddam and stay." Of all the preconceptions I had before my visit, the idea that Iraqis would demand a provisional government of their own at the earliest possible date was most wrong.
Unfortunately, many of the Iraqis who are offering themselves up for leadership positions are former Baathists and Saddam cronies who the local populace is understandably afraid of. Almost everyone who was in the old Iraqi bureaucracy was also involved with the Baathist regime, and so there aren't many experienced administrators available to take control.

I don't see this as a bad thing, considering how corrupt the old government was -- what it does mean, however, is that the American administration will have to train a new bureaucracy from the ground up. Luckily, if there's one thing we're good at here it's bureaucracy!



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