Sunday, November 05, 2006

Iraq: It's about Democracy, Except When It Isn't

I suspect there are people, Thomas Friedman and Paul Wolfowitz come to mind, who thought seriously about bringing democracy to Iraq in the fall of 2002 and early 2003 before the war started. However, one of the biggest clues that democracy was not the highest priority for the Bush Administration was the privatization Gold Rush in the first six months of the war when the insurgency was considered an annoying problem that would soon be under control and democracy was mysteriously given repeated nods and occassionally resources but otherwise ignored while what appeared to be a colonial arrangement was underway (or perhaps we were seeing the fortifying of a major military post on the road to Damascus and Tehran?).

It was in those first six months of excessive hubris that Bush strutted and preened on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln and then, weeks later, urged the insurgents to "Bring it on." For months, as it became obvious there were no WMDs worth a $500 billion war, Bush kept sitting on his hands, hoping for the best, as blunders compounded more blunders from the Pentagon, the White House and the Vice President's office.

The ever reliable Laura Rozen of War and Piece has been following one of the seedier sideshows of the Iraq fiasco from day one: the curious rise and fall of Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the Iraq National Congress (INC; is that a play on incorporated?). Rozen links to today's NYT magazine article that there has been evidence that Chalabi may have been an agent or at least an ally of Iran from day one and the people in our intelligience service suspected as much but the Bush inner circle and neoconservatives like Richard Perle were determined to believe otherwise, largely because Chalabi had perfected the art of telling right wing Republicans and their neoconservative friends exactly what they wanted to hear.

In an earlier post, from the day before, Laura Rozen had this to say:
The knives are out. As Vanity Fair reports that the neoconservatives blame President Bush and his national security team for the failures in Iraq, Editor & Publisher previews the Sunday NYT magazine cover story: "Ahmad Chalabi Says, 'The Real Culprit is Wolfowitz.'"

So, Ahmad Chalabi, what went wrong in Iraq in the war you helped to sell? “The Americans sold us out,” he tells longtime Baghdad reporter Dexter Filkins...


Now, in an interview in his London home, Chalabi, betraying what Filkins calls “a touch of bitterness,” declares, “The real culprit in all this is Wolfowitz,” the former assistant secretary of defense, whom he still considers a friend. “They chickened out....
It's no secret that Chalabi thinks the US should have simply installed him in power after the invasion, and split, an idea that Richard Perle has also supported in various forms. ...

Chalabi was under the impression the United States would install him in the same way that the CIA in the 1950s occassionally arranged for a dictator to be installed in various coups. But Bremer, instead of Chalabi, appears to have been the one 'installed.' How long Bremer was expected to last if the insurgency had died down is not clear but it sure didn't look like the beginning of democracy.

Of course, it may have been a disappointment to the neoconservatives that Chalabi was not the man they thought he was. He did not exactly ride to Baghdad like a man on a white horse with Iraqis rushing to his banner. Bremer, in other words, was a quickly concocted Plan B. There have been many Plan Bs in this war, concocted long after the obvious blunders made clear the need for a strategic assessment of what the Bush Administration was trying to accomplish. As for the neoconservatives and their intellectual nonsense, they were badly fooled by Chalabi by a new kind of con they were unprepared to handle; one might call it the neo con.


Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

The more I learn about Chalabi, the more he strikes me as render bait. Come to think of it, that applies almost as well to all the architects of this blunder war.

10:38 PM  
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