Sunday, May 14, 2006

Chalabi as Panacea

In a previous post, I wrote:

Obviously, the neocons did have a plan, as explained by Barbara Lerner: Install Ahmad Chalabi and company, and then let them handle the transition to a new government. Despite the talk by some neocons that had we followed this plan, all would be well, and so the DoD and the Chalabiites are faultless for our problems in Iraq, this is not really a serious suggestion...

The problem with this is that there is little evidence that Chalabi had enough support in Iraq that he would have been able to have prevented the current crisis through persuasion, and the Iraqi National Congress did not have enough troops to really secure things (Lerner's laughable suggestion is that his 10,000 troops would have done the job). The recent election indicates that had we installed him, and if subsequently his 10,000 were not able to restore order through force, he would not have been able to have relied on his popularity with the people to keep control of the country, for such popularity simply didn't exist.

Moreover, Lerner's suggestion that Ahmad Chalabi, Jalal Talabani, and Massoud Barzani would have had enormous prestige allowing them to coast into office is based upon the highly dubious assumption that the Sunni Arab minority would trust two Kurds and a Shiite, and that the Shiites would want two Kurds leading the country. Or that the Shiites would see Ahmad Chalabi as a genuine Iraqi statesmen rather than a craven opportunist.

The idea that Chalabi would "put an Iraqi face" on the occupation is rather iffy. Seeing as he was exiled for over 40 years, there is no particular reason why he would be seen as being particularly Iraqi. This is not to criticize his family for leaving Iraq; it is simply to state that it is unclear that he would have any "Iraqi credentials" that would make anyone see him as "one of us." This also presumes that there is such a thing as "an Iraqi face" in the sense that anyone or any group could command the respect of all of Iraq's major ethnic divisions.

Whatever we tried to do in relation to Ahmad Chalabi, chances are, we would still be the ones responsible for maintaining order through our troops and then training the Iraqi Security Forces. As for claims that putting "an Iraqi face" on the occupation by installing an interim government of Kurds and exiles instead of a coalition provisional authority, this relies on the dubious belief that the Iraqis would distinguish a direct occupation from an occupation run through our hand-picked lackeys or puppets.

Let's be honest here. Ahmad Chalabi's biggest cheerleaders are extremely gullible neoconservatives of the "Israel-first" (#4) variety (aka the Richard Perle wing)** who want him installed (see also here because he said nice things about Israel, including not only the obvious (i.e., recognizing Israel) but also things as ridiculous as pushing the creation of an Iraqi-to-Israel oil pipeline. Israel's pereceived interests, that is, a desire amongst neoconservatives to do what they feel is in Israel's best interests (along with an extremely heavy dose of credultiy toward any Arab who claims to like Israel), is the driving force behind Chalabi.***

That is all.

** I am not using "neoconservative" as codeword here. Yes, the neoconservatives I am referring to in this case are probably mostly Jewish (in fact, her Jewish-sounding surname is why I suspect Israel to be the motivation for Ms. Lerner); but I said "neoconservatives" rather than "Jews" not to hide my actual meaning, but because it is not unlikely that there are people in the "Israel first" wing of the neoconservatives who supported Chalabi for that reason who are Gentiles. So I am not trying to be coy or antisemitic here.

*** Note that I did not say that Israel was the driving force, nor that the Israeli government actually see his installation as being in their interests.

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