Friday, December 29, 2006
I'm back, I'm back, I'm back and I'm primed with hate:
Victor. Davis. Hanson. He's out to defend neoconservatism. The dream, he tells us, will never die!
Iraq in the climate of post-9/11 was an effort to find a consistent US position of toughness with terrorists and murderous dictators, and principled consistent support for reformers.
Principled consistent support for reformers. Like... I'm thinking. Mithal al-Alusi? Who got nothing from the U.S. of any significance. Iyad Allawi? We never quite got around to sponsoring his coup. The Kurdish warlords? The U.S. in Iraq has had consistent support for no one. Regardless of what you think of them, ask Ahmed Chalabi or Ibrahim Jaafari. Really, VDH must have his own magical newspaper that no one else can read.

Furthermore, there's not a single "antipode" of neoconservatism that is remotely as discredited as neoconservatism after the Iraq war. Rarely in history has a programme been executed as faithfully as the neocon drive to invade Iraq. (For those neos who maintain that they never wanted an "occupation," I don't recall, say, the Standard tearing its garments in 2003 or 2004 over the occupation; I recall them denying there was an occupation.) However, it's funny to read that one such discredited antipode was "the deal for arms for hostages with the theocracy," when VDH's Corner Colleague Michael Ledeen helped set the trade up.

Bonus Fun Fact: VDH considers one such ill-advised policy "arming the crazies in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets." I had no idea he had a problem with enmeshing the Soviets in their very own Vietnam! VDH: soft on communism!
--Spencer Ackerman
Hi Spencer,

The article below, in the maiden issue of the 'new' New York Sun, accurately reflects the thinking within the INC leading up to the war. The INC, specifically Chalabi, was influential among neoconservatives. How does this article fit in with the assertions you make in the post?

[on a personal note: call before you go, or hopefully we'll meet soon otherwise]

The New York Sun

April 16, 2002 Tuesday

Free Iraqi Leader Warns of Abysmal' Planning

BYLINE: By IRA STOLL Staff Reporter of the Sun


LENGTH: 1053 words

Even while President Bush is beating the drums for war against Iraq, the administration's bureaucrats are falling short in the planning for a democratic transition following the ouster of Saddam Hussein.
That is the view the leader of the free, democratic Iraqi opposition, Ahmad Chalabi, expressed in an interview with the New York Sun this weekend. Mr. Chalabi is pressing for "substantial and significant" Iraqi participation in the campaign against Saddam.
At issue is how the coming war against Saddam will be seen in Iraq and around the world: as an American-led effort to oust the dictator, or as an American-aided effort by the Iraqi people to liberate their own country. If America tries the first, Mr. Chalabi is warning, it may be setting itself up for failure. In the worst case, Saddam Hussein and his desperate loyalists might unleash a chemical or biological weapons attack as the Baathist regime is on the verge of being toppled - a scenario that Mr. Chalabi is urging immediate steps to prevent.
"We must create an atmosphere among the people who are going to use these weapons that they are personally responsible in the most severe way," Mr. Chalabi said. He said that the message must be sent by "personal delivery," and he said, "We think that this work must start right away."
The 1998 Iraq Liberation Act, passed unanimously by the Senate and by a vote of 360 to 38 in the House, and signed into law by President Clinton, authorized $97 million in aid "to support a transition to democracy in Iraq." Mr. Chalabi said that so far only about $1 million has been expended, and he said there is "a great deal of preparation and training" still required. He said he and the rest of the members of the Iraqi National Congress, the umbrella opposition group, feel happy and vindicated that President Bush has stated that it is America's policy to remove Saddam from power. But the president's national security team has been sluggish in implementing his decision, according to Mr. Chalabi and other supporters of the Iraqi opposition.
"The president has stated his position, and I think it's time that the administration start doing something significant and catch up and address serious operational issues that are corollaries of the president's decision. The United States is good at military planning. They demonstrated that in the Gulf War. But their record in the political planning in the aftermath of the Gulf War was abysmal. We sense the same spirit now and we warn against the consequences of this. A phony planning process is no substitute for the real effort required. The focus must not be on dealing with exile politics of Iraqis. The focus must be on energizing people inside the country, people who want to liberate the country. There are millions of them," Mr. Chalabi said. "Iraqis must be involved in the process. We don't want this operation to be set up to fail."
Among the steps outlined by Mr. Chalabi, in addition to the immediate "personal delivery" of messages to those in control of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, are the training of military policemen to take control of the liberated areas and to prevent acts of revenge and property damage. He also called for the training of prosecutors, judges and law enforcement officials, and for thought to be given to how to deal with the estimated one fifth of Iraqi male adults who are involved in one way or another with Saddam's apparatus of repression.
"These issues must be addressed in a very deliberate and detailed manner that requires a deep knowledge of Iraqi society," Mr. Chalabi said. "We need advice from people who did de-Nazification in Germany."
Mr. Chalabi said the tone for post-Saddam Iraq will be set by the nature of the war that brings an end to Saddam's regime.
"Above all, we must have Iraqi participation in the liberation process in a substantial and significant way," Mr. Chalabi said. "This is not going to be a war between Iraq and the United States. This is going to be a war of national liberation of Iraq by the Iraqi people against the regime in Iraq, with the United States providing assistance to the Iraqi people."
"It's better for the Iraqi people and for the United States if the new government emerges with the Iraqi people participating in the liberation of their country," he said. "The political legitimacy of any government in the future will be largely judged by how it emerged. If it emerges as a result of its participation in the liberation, then there will be an enormous credit to its legitimacy in the eyes of the people."
"There will be pressure in the United States to expedite the process, and the best means of doing so of course is to use the U.S. military entirely," Mr. Chalabi said. He said that some of the Americans are "reluctant to get involved in a messy operation involving Iraqis as their military allies in fighting Saddam. But it must be done. The future demands it."
Asked about Mr. Chalabi's comments, a White House official responded to the question about the $97 million by saying, "It's State's money to disburse." A Pentagon spokeswoman, Susan Hansen, also referred inquiries to the State Department. The State Department did not return a call seeking comment. As for the level of Iraqi involvement in a military campaign against Saddam Hussein, the White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, "No decisions have been made. We're looking at everything."
Within the Washington bureaucracy, Mr. Chalabi is facing particularly strong opposition from the Central Intelligence Agency. A 20-year CIA veteran, Judith S. Yaphe, who left the Agency in 1995 and is now a senior fellow at National Defense University, accused the Iraqi National Congress of "whining" in response to the delays by the Bush administration. "They certainly thought that they would have everything they wanted quickly, and that hasn't happened," she said.
The managing editor of Foreign Affairs, Gideon Rose, a National Security Council official in the Clinton administration, said that Iraqi participation in any campaign against Saddam Hussein would be desirable. "What the precise role is operationally depends on what is militarily feasible and sensible," he said. "Winning the war is a necessary condition to winning the peace."

Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي | 4:58 PM

What is your point? Spencer already wrote that the U.S. has not provided consistent support for any Iraqi faction --- it's the main point of his post.

Though I'm sure backing a thoroughly Westernized conman like Chalabi would have worked just peachy. Frankly if there's any policy that could have worked out worse than the confused idiocy we've seen, it would have been installing the Arab Ngo Dinh Diem.
Blogger Tequila | 5:18 AM


I didn't accuse the INC of favoring an occupation. I was quite familiar with Kanan's position ahead of the war -- believe me, I knew you guys didn't want occupation; you wanted power turned over to, well, you and a few others. What I'm talking about is the neocons who risked their standing in the GOP or with the White House by denouncing the occupation in 2003/04 -- and who now pretend that they were anti-occupation all along. My guess is that the total is basically Frum & Perle in their 2003 book, but even they didn't press the issue in op-eds, TV appearances, speeches, etc.

You around for New Year's?
Blogger spencerackerman | 9:54 AM