Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cheesed Off Over Iraq And "Three Blind Mice"

(And the person agitated would be yours truly, of course; by the way, posting will be sporadic for the rest of the week, with nothing on Thursday.)

I didn’t want to let too much more time pass without noting that the venerable “old gray lady” really committed another affront to sane discourse last Sunday when it published a bunch of editorials under the theme of “so, what the hell do we do now in Iraq?” The problem, I should add, isn’t the topic, which is a good one; the problem is the people chosen to inflict their opinions on us (and, as is usually the case when talking about the mess in Mesopotamia, nary a dissenting voice was heard).

I chose three from the list of individuals who offered their commentary, the most notorious of the lot IMHO. So let’s begin with Fred Kagan, who tells us here…

Leaving aside the debate in America about what ties global Al Qaeda has to Al Qaeda in Iraq, Iraqis overwhelmingly think that they have indeed been fighting an arm of Osama bin Laden’s organization. Every major political grouping in Iraq rejects Al Qaeda and supports the fight against its ideology. Iraqis increasingly pride themselves on being the first Arab state to reject the terrorists.
For a state that has “rejected the terrorists,” CIA director Michael Hayden offers a more realistic – and grimmer – assessment here, including this (I usually have “a bone to pick” with Hayden also, but this sounds more like the reality)…

"Today, the flow of money, weapons, and foreign fighters into Iraq is greatly diminished, and al Qaeda senior leaders no longer point to it as the central battlefield," (Hayden) said. "In fact, bleed-out from Iraq—export or diversion of terrorists and their deadly capabilities—is as much a concern now as the ongoing threat of Al Qaeda in Iraq attacks inside the country itself."
Also, according to Kagan…

This summer, leading members of Anbar Awakening, a group of Sunni leaders who have joined forces with the United States and the Shiite-led Baghdad government, circulated a memo about how they could help Afghans develop their own “awakenings” to fight Al Qaeda on their territory.
I don’t know if Kagan is telling the truth here or not (he seems to be more prone to fudging and obfuscation than outright lies, as was the case here, where he prefers the term ethnic “consolidation” to “cleansing”), but I should note that I have seen no evidence anywhere else of a “memo” circulated from Iraqi Sunnis to their fellow tribesmen in Afghanistan.

I wonder if this memo is anything like the dreaded “Mujahedeen Data Form” I posted about awhile ago here (couldn’t find evidence of that either)?

Oh, and Kagan also tells us…

Overall violence and American casualties have dropped remarkably since the surge began last year.

The situation remains delicate, however, as Iraq moves into provincial elections in January and parliamentary elections at the end of 2009. Although Iraqi forces increasingly bear the burden of fighting (and, increasingly, peacekeeping), they will need continuing American support
Excuse me if I get a little tired of hearing about how successful the “surge” has been; yes, there has been a decrease in casualties, but that’s due partly to the Sunni Awakening that Kagan acknowledges, and the ethnic cleansing that he ignores. And for anyone who thinks Iraq will see peace anytime soon, unfortunately – well, take a look at this and this and get back to me on the answer, OK (not trying to sound callous, just tired of hearing about more supposed excuses of why we should stay when the Iraqis plainly want us to get the hell out of their country at long last…can’t entirely blame them).

And with that in mind, here is the next Times editorialist, and that would be Ahmed Chalabi (I’ve listed the writers in descending order of infamy, by the way, though I’ll admit that it’s a close call – also, did it occur to the Times that a headline like “Thanks, But You Can Go Now” is incredibly insulting to those in this country who have suffered the most from this horrific escapade in Iraq?).

The convicted Jordanian embezzler tells us…

The Iraq war is over.
Somehow I think those 19 bombing victims in Baghdad and those individuals in Amman, Jordan I referred to previously would disagree with that.


Iraq has the strongest constitution, the fairest elections and the most democratic government in the Islamic Middle East.
And if stories like this are any indication, it sounds like the sessions in Iraq’s parliament should be pay-per-view wrestling events.


Iraqi freedom is a debt to America we will never forget.

This is true despite President Bush’s manifest failure to honor his word. At one time, the liberation of Iraq was to be the centerpiece of a new regional order in the Middle East founded on a new American emphasis on democracy, human rights and free enterprise. Instead, Iraq has endured occupation, the authoritarian installation of a prime minister, the strong-armed removal of an elected leader, the indiscriminate arrest, torture and killing of Iraqi civilians without recourse to law, and an utterly corrupt reconstruction program that oversaw one of the biggest financial crimes in history, which has left average Iraqis with little water, power, health care, education or even food.
And as Maureen Dowd tells us here from ‘05 (in fine form – maybe she’ll return to writing like this since the election has ended; we’ll see), Chalabi knows all about “failure to honor his word” (the message above makes good points, but again, the problem is the messenger)…

The neocons' con man (Chalabi) had been paid millions by the U.S. to tell the Bushies what they wanted to hear on Iraqi W.M.D. A year ago, the State Department and factions in the Pentagon turned on him after he began bashing America and using Saddam's secret files to discredit his enemies.

Right after the invasion, the charlatan was escorted into Iraq by U.S. troops and cultivated an axis of Americans, Iraqis and Iranians. He got a fancy house with layers of armed guards and pulled-down shades, and began helping himself to Iraqi assets. The U.S. occupation sicced the Iraqi police on his headquarters only after an Iraqi judge ordered thugs in the Chalabi posse arrested on suspicion of kidnapping, torture and theft.

Newsweek revealed that the U.S. suspected Mr. Chalabi of leaking secret information about American war plans for Iraq to the Iranians before the invasion, and of perhaps leaking "highly classified" information to Iran that could "get people killed" if abused by the Iranians. Mr. Chalabi claimed the Iranians set him up.

In August of last year, while he was at a cabin in the Iranian mountains, the Iraqis ordered him arrested on counterfeiting charges, which were later dropped for lack of evidence.

Now, showing survival skills that make Tom DeLay look like a piker, the resourceful Thief of Baghdad has popped back up as one of the four deputy prime ministers and the interim cabinet minister controlling the one valuable commodity in that wasteland: the second-largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia. He even has a DeLay-like talent for getting relatives on the payroll: a Chalabi nephew is the new finance minister.
And the Times thinks that Chalabi has any kind of credibility at all to make pronouncements about the state of Iraq and the war effort, given these revelations from one of the paper’s own reporters (they’ve learned nothing from the Judith Miller fiasco apparently).

But not to worry, though – I’ve saved the most odious of these three for last, and that would be one Donald H. Rumsfeld, who tells us here that…

As one who is occasionally — and incorrectly — portrayed as an opponent of the surge in Iraq, I believe that while the surge has been effective in Iraq, we must also recognize the conditions that made it successful. President Bush’s bold decision to deploy additional troops to support a broader counterinsurgency strategy of securing and protecting the Iraqi people was clearly the right decision. More important, though, it was the right decision at the right time.
Well, as Noah Shactman tells us here, Rummy did support some elements of the surge, but they were not his preference, according to some memos to subordinates; he actually favored a “draw-down of U.S. bases” and to “put reconstruction efforts to work in Iraq where they’re ‘behaving’” first (can't entirely disagree with that on the merits, but it does fly in the face of what he's now telling us, of course).

But double talk is not unusual for Rummy, of course, given the following (written in ’04, from here)…

Donald Rumsfeld has morphed, over the last two years, from a man of supreme confidence to arrogance, then to almost willful blindness. With the approval of the president, he sent American troops into a place whose nature and dangers he had apparently never bothered to examine.

We now know that no one with any power in the Defense Department had a clue about what the administration was getting the coalition forces into. Mr. Rumsfeld's blithe confidence that he could run his war on the cheap has also seriously harmed the Army and the National Guard.
And I believe it bears repeating that Rumsfeld aborted an al-Qaeda raid on Pakistan in ’05, as noted here; basically countermanded the President of the United States on how Dubya wanted to be briefed on Jay Garner, the interim head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, here (I don’t know if that speaks more to Rumsfeld’s arrogance or Dubya’s incompetence); pulled two key players from Garner’s team (Warrick and O’Sullivan) because they were critical of Chalabi here (and of course, Rummy got Doug Feith to do his dirty work for him); and stated that anyone who opposed Bush “lacks courage on terror” here.

And who of us can forget this evergreen Rummy moment here, going to war “with the army you have, not the army you want”?

Oh, and did I mention that Rummy (as noted here) was shopping around for a “large cash advance” on a book deal about the war (don’t know if he got it yet)?

I’m sure that, given such a stellar journalistic moment from the Times as what I’ve noted here, we can look forward to future “theme” columns on topics such as integrity in government service by Dick Cheney, U.N. conciliation strategies by John Bolton, disaster management by Mike Brown, and Oval Office scholarship by George W. Bush.

Update: And yep, only Dubya would be dumb enough to be "pleased" with a deal that would keep our troops in Iraq for three more years under "strict Iraqi oversight."

Update 11/26/08: More of the same from "Bubble Boy" here; the payoff, though, comes in the very last paragraph...

Mr. Bush’s upbeat assessment of the two wars made hardly any reference to the problems he will leave to President-elect Barack Obama.
54 days and counting, people...

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