February 24, 2007

DON'T TELL THE NEOCONS (via Kevin Whited ):

Baghdad 'Surge' Returns Chalabi To Center Stage: Political Survivor Gets
Post as Public Liaison; Does Bigger Role Loom? (YOCHI J. DREAZEN, February 23, 2007, Wall Street Journal)

In his latest remarkable political reincarnation, onetime U.S. favorite Ahmed Chalabi has secured a position inside the Iraqi government that could help determine whether the Bush administration's new push to secure Baghdad succeeds.

In a new post created earlier this year, Mr. Chalabi will serve as an intermediary between Baghdad residents and the Iraqi and U.S. security forces mounting an aggressive counterinsurgency campaign across the city. The position is meant to help Iraqis arrange reimbursement for damage to their cars and homes caused by the security sweeps in the hope of maintaining public support for the strategy.

Mr. Chalabi's writ is supposed to be limited mainly to security, according to aides to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, but he is already speaking ambitiously about playing a larger role in economic, health and reconstruction efforts as well. In his new capacity, Mr. Chalabi answers directly to Mr. Maliki and is already taking part in weekly planning meetings with senior American officials such as Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq.

One of the signal mistakes of the war was not getting an interim government led by Mr. Chalabi and endorsed by Ayatollah Sistani up and running by the end of Summer 2003. Choosing to be an occupying power instead was unwise.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 24, 2007 12:12 PM

I think it was THE mistake. Once that was done, everything followed.

I thought by the way that Chalabi was the neocons creature, and that it was State -- the branch of gvt that pushed for an occupation of Iraq -- who pushed him overboard in the itnerest of their imperial adventure.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at February 24, 2007 1:51 PM

Recall that the neocons turned on him when it became obvious he didn't envision Iraq as an enemy of Iran--which is the neocons only interest in the place.

Posted by: oj at February 24, 2007 2:25 PM

If we hadn't thoroughly dismantled the Iraqi force structure (which process required our extended and considerable military presence) there would have been a Sunni Arab coup within a year at the outside. Given that, the incremental cost of holding elections hase been trivial.

I suspect we pushed de-Baathification a bit too hard. Other than that, we've done more or less OK.

Posted by: ghostcat at February 24, 2007 4:32 PM

It has been a train wreck, and it has been glorious, and there are more cars waiting to pile up.

Who could not have foreseen constructive chaos? The FORMER IRAQ had been a despotism. When the dictator went the way of Mussolini and Ceaucescu, the thing fell to pieces.

The process of dissolution is far from over. The entire region stands in need of reformation, and reformation is coming. Throw the dice.

Ghostcat is correct about the Sunni coup, but not about the de-Baathification. For one thiong there has to be a penalty for participation in tyranny, and, furthermore, the chaos is constructive. The people over there must solve or be solved. Let them work it out or fight it out.

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 24, 2007 5:22 PM

OJ has it wrong. The neocons turned on Chalabi when it became clear that he had lied on a number of key points, not over OJ's pet project Iran.

Jim in Chicago has it right. State absolutely vetoed the DOD-proposed Iraqi expat force that was to have been trained in Bulgaria and deployed in the early stages of our presence in Iraq. Chalabi's group would have in large part of the membership in that force. Rumsfeld fought long and hard to deploy them. Powell's buddy Armitage used every contact he had in the press to sabotage that plan and as with so many other aspects of this war, the State Dept. and their CIA allies won -- at a terrible cost to Iraqis and to us.

Posted by: Molon Labe at February 24, 2007 6:58 PM

Colin Powell is the most despicable man on the earth today.

Posted by: erp at February 25, 2007 8:39 AM