Sunday, January 20, 2008
have you any idea why they're lying to you, to your faces, did they tell you:
Hillary Clinton adviser Jack Keane, former Clinton adviser Michael O'Hanlon and Fred Kagan throw some V's on it:
Iraq's new de-Baathification bill, which awaits only expected approval by the presidency council before becoming law, is good news. During Saddam Hussein's day, if you wanted a professional job in Iraq, you basically had to join the Baath Party. For most of the 1 million-plus who did so, this hardly implied involvement or even complicity in crimes of the state. Hussein was so paranoid that only his very inner circles were entrusted with information or influence. The Shiite-led government now seems willing to recognize as much. Coupled with the pension law passed in late fall, this legislation means that many former Baathists will have a real stake in post-Hussein Iraq.

So surgeniks cheer the de-Baathification law. Actual Sunni Iraqis say it's "a sword on the neck of the people." The law is written in such a way as to allow the purge of more Sunnis from government service. Neither Crocker nor Petraeus has embraced the de-Baathification law for that reason. The surgeniks are lying to you, and they hope you're not noticing. The spin gets desperate:

[T]here has been real progress on other important matters, including Baghdad's sharing of oil revenue with the provinces, even without a hydrocarbon law; the hiring of Sunni volunteers into the security forces and the civilian arms of government; and improvements in the legal system, such as more trained judges and fewer indefinite detentions of prisoners. Iraq's political glass remains more empty than full, but trends are clearly in the right direction.
Iraq 2008: Fewer Indefinite Detentions of Prisoners. Let's cede the point about oil-revenue sharing, even though the evidence for the point relies entirely on trusting the unreliable proclamations of the Maliki government. (You think Mike O'Hanlon is digging through the Ninewa provincial council budget?) Incorporating the CLCs into the government isn't going in "the right [i.e., U.S.-desired] direction," as the chief MNF-I officer for reconciliation recently told me. The more-trained-judges line is a nice rhetorical flourish, but you know what they do to judges in Iraq, right? So much for the surgenik's effort to give a big Nuh-Uh! to those who observe that the surge didn't deliver on its political objective.

And it's worth remembering why they do so. The surge represents two interrelated things for its advocates. First, it's an attempt to show that when the limits of American power display themselves, the answer is more American power. Second, and more fundamentally, it's an intellectual rehabilitation project -- a way of salvaging the reputations of men whose purported wisdom got the U.S. mired in a quagmire. Dishonesty is unavoidable in a strategy of such naked, callous vanity.

--Spencer Ackerman