- The Pentagon's one-size-fits-all 'liberation' is a disaster in Iraq
"American efforts to foist new rulers on the people of Iraq are becoming increasingly grotesque. In some cities US troops have sparked demonstrations by imposing officials from the old Saddam Hussein regime. In others they have evicted new anti-Saddam administrators who have local backing.
They have mishandled religious leaders as well as politicians. In the Shia suburbs of Baghdad, they arrested a powerful cleric, Mohammed Fartousi al-Sadr, who had criticised the US presence. In Falluja, an overwhelmingly Sunni town, they detained two popular imams. All three men were released within days, but local people saw the detentions as a warning that Iraqis should submit to the US will.
The massacre in Falluja was symptomatic. The town was quiet for two weeks after Iraqi troops and local Ba'ath party leaders fled. The imams halted the looting and got much of the stolen property returned. A new mayor arranged for schools to re-open and persuaded police to return to work. Then the Americans arrived, arrested imams, put up roadblocks and occupied a school - all without prior discussion with local leaders."