Saturday, September 01, 2007

And the laughs keep coming

Updated As I mentioned just the other day, increasingly, the chant in Congress - especially from among the "We are SO antiwar but wattaya gonna do?" Democrats - is to blame the insanity of Iraq on the Iraqi government because of course our fine soldiers are doing a heckuva job so it can't have anything to do with us.

The main target of the criticism has been Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the one-time freely-elected golden boy of Iraq's race to freedom and now the golden idol who has been falsely worshipped and needs to be brought crashing down. Intriguingly, this comes at a time when former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has been making himself very visible and being embraced by people determined to forget that past that he represents. Not forgive, mind you, forget. Completely.

Allawi, after all, was not only regarded as a thug with "blood on his hands" from his days as a Baath Party operative in London in the 1970s, he was accused by two independent witnesses of having
pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government
in June 2004. That account was confirmed in a later article by another source.

Which, actually, gives me pause: Maybe these people bolstering Allawi haven't forgotten. Maybe they remember all too well, since some, we hear, are of the opinion that what Iraq needs is a "new strongman." Some such voices are old, and some are new, as CNN reported just over a week ago.
[E]xasperated front-line U.S. generals talk openly of non-democratic governmental alternatives [in Iraq]....

"Democratic institutions are not necessarily the way ahead in the long-term future," said Brig. Gen. John "Mick" Bednarek, part of Task Force Lightning in Diyala province, one of the war's major battlegrounds. ...

"I would describe it as leaving an effective government behind that can provide services to its people, and security. It needs to be an effective and functioning government that is really a partner with the United States and the rest of the world in this fight against the terrorists," said [Maj. Gen. Benjamin] Mixon, [commander of Task Force Lightning,] who will not be perturbed if such goals are reached without democracy.

"Well, see that all over the Middle East," he said, stating that democracy is merely an option, that Iraqis are free to choose or reject. ...

[S]ome senior U.S. military commanders even suggest privately the entire Iraqi government must be removed by "constitutional or non-constitutional" means and replaced with a stable, secure, but not necessarily democratic entity.
Yep, democracy is "merely an option." I'm sure the soldiers and their families, especially the families of those who have died, will understand that the "freedom for Iraq" they supposedly have been killing and dying for is "merely an option" and what's important is having a government that is "functioning" and can provide "security." I'm sure none of them will ask "But didn't they have that before?"

Merely an option. That's why, I suppose, serious commentator David Ignatius could write approvingly in Thursday's Washington Post of Ayad Allawi's contention about an earlier "turning point" in the war. Ignatius writes that
[t]he CIA warned in the summer and fall of 2004 that the Iranians were pumping money into Iraq to steer the Jan. 30, 2005, elections toward the coalition of Shiite religious parties ... [consisting of] candidates who would be friendly to Iran, under the banner of Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. The CIA reported that in the run-up to the election, as many as 5,000 Iranians a week were crossing the border with counterfeit ration cards to register to vote in Iraq's southern provinces.
A program was approved to "counter this Iranian tide," but was then canceled, Allawi said, "under the pretext that the U.S. does not want to interfere," thus leading to the Shia-dominated government and the loss of all things good and pure. Put bluntly, the problem was that the US failure to interfere enough in the 2005 elections.

Atrios was unkind enough to demonstrate how this is another example of the level of serious discourse about the war, pulling up an Ignatius column from April 26, 2006, in which he quotes the "wily" Zalmay Khalilzad, then ambassador to Iraq, as praising al-Maliki as "someone who is independent of Iran."

In fact, Khalilzad said, according to Ignatius, that Iran "pressured everyone for [interim Prime Minister Ibrahim al-]Jafari to stay."
One senior Iraqi official said the gist of Iran's letters was "stick with him, or else,"
Ignatius wrote, calling al-Maliki's elevation "something of a victory for Khalilzad." Not only that, he credited al-Sistani, the man he now suggests acted as a cover for Iranian influence, with delivering "the decisive blow" in getting the Iranian-backed Jafari out.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said
[a] foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.
That's true enough, as foolish consistency often is mere pig-headedness. However, the corollary to that is that inconsistency such as that shown by David Ignatius is just foolishness.

Updated with a Footnote: Via Liberal Oasis (which I admit I rarely read anymore because I got tired of endless postings about proper Democratic Party campaign tactics) I learned that the US did not "decline to interfere" in the 2005 elections: As reported by Seymour Hersh in July 2005, it merely dropped one plan in favor of another, one promoting Allawi and run "off the books" by retired CIA officers. The may be some disagreement about how successful that interference was, but its very existence makes Allawi even more of a liar and Ignatius even more of a fool and a tool.

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