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Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Iraq Intrigue

WSJ's editorial page has made for especially interesting reading the past couple of days as we close in on Election Day in Iraq. The continuing story of the politics surrounding Allawi, the CIA's and State Department's man, and Chalabi, the Administration favorite (as well as the pick of the neo-cons and the WSJ editorial writer) is going to finally come to a head.

Skipping the history and all the analysis, here are a few very definite opinions I have about the whole situation, and how to interpret what happens next.

First, it is a wonder that any administration gets anything done given the intractability of our key bureaucracies in the foreign policy area. Particularly at State and the CIA, it seems that leadership was either unable or unwilling to rein the career bureaucrats in, and GWB was not forceful enough about getting his own way. Of course, it's no easier when the press and the loyal opposition do everything they can to undercut the administration, especially Defense, and glorify the careerists. So you have the spectacle of GWB trumpeting CIA misinformation as the reason to go to war when there were plenty of other justifications available. Then you have State supporting a policy of what? - a passive approach to occupation, exactly wrong as Mr. Halperin pointed out in the Journal this week (again).

Well democracies are messy, and not just fledgling ones.

I think that there will be a decent turnout in Iraq this week, possibly a larger percentage of eligible voters than WE normally get. However, it will be mainly Shiite and Kurds turning out with predictable results. This means that the current government may lose, with the Sistani forces winning. The irony is that the press will spin that as a loss for the Bush administration when they never really wanted Allawi to begin with. Instead, that will be a very well earned defeat for State.

One of the most insulting pieces of spin has been the media's insistence on referring to the terrorists in Iraq as an "insurgency." Of course, they don't want to use the word terrorist since that would imply that the Bush logic connecting terror and Iraq was correct all along. They could also call them Baathists, but they don't want to do that since that would imply that the enemy was formidable enough to take seriously. But people who bomb their own civilians and police force indiscriminately, engage in ritual executions and suicide attacks, etc. are nothing if not terrorists.

The Democrats continuing howling about the administration's policies in Iraq is a long run loser for the party. They insist again and again that the administration admit it was "wrong," presumably forgetting that we already had an election about that (which the Dems lost) and also forgetting that there is not nearly enough historical perspective for anyone to judge our actions for sure yet. The hysterical attempt to delay the Rice nomination at State does not reflect well on Reid, Kennedy and the like. This seems to be a party searching for a semi-permanent minority position. Lest one think that's impossible, consider the position of Britain's inept Conservative Party, or for that matter, Republicans for most of the period 1932-1968. You can spend a long time in the wilderness!

A much smarter stance would be one of support for the war effort, while at the same time making constructive suggestions about things the administration could be doing better (Lord knows, there are enough of those!). A model of such statesmanship is Connecticut Senator Lieberman, who I expect will go down as one of the clearest thinking and positive contribuors among current leadership. Such an approach would leave Democrats much better positioned to assume power when the country goes through one of its inevitable mood swings.

A far better stance for Iraq would be to insist our boys to be brought back home immediately. With the money we spend over there, we can have a lot of nice things here at home. You should take a look at the latest poll result that show the last election is still not in par with the general opinion voiced by people about the way this administration is handling the war in Iraq.
Thanks very much for the comment, NBT. Differences of opinion are what makes the world go around. My own opinion is that polls are not the issue. It's about doing the right thing. This is not time to cut and run.

I hope you look at my blog and voice your opinion again in the future.
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