Just Above Sunset
January 30, 2005 - Who Gets Run the Show?

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Bob Patterson - the Book Wrangler and the World’s Laziest Journalist in these pages – has a hobbyhorse – or several.  But one is the idea Ahmad Chalabi, the fellow who went to graduate school at the University of Chicago with Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, and was our hand-picked leader for Iraq until we decided he was on the payroll of Iran and showed him the door, will rise to the top, rule Iraq, and we’ll eventually have the puppet ruler we wanted in the first place.  See this in these pages (November 9, 2003) - for the Chicago background.  The basic news story on his being a spy for Iran, from Fox News no less, is here - from Thursday, June 3, 2004.


Charles Pierce this week, Friday, January 28, 2005 – 


Did I just hear Richard Perle on Nightline say that the biggest mistake we made in Iraq was not handing the country over to Ahmad Chalabi three years ago?  Yes, and the biggest flaw in our national economy is that we haven't turned the Federal Reserve over to Ken Lay.  Yes, and the biggest mistake I am likely to make in trying to understand this Festival of Fruitcakes is failing to have laid in enough mushrooms to get me through the State of the Union.  To be fair, Perle tap-danced all around the name until Koppel finally brought it up, and then he said "Ahmad Chalabi" the way most people say, "trichinosis."  Still, sweet storebought Jeebus.


The elections over there can put you in a tough spot.  Of course, they've been oversold.  Of course, they will be used as cheap ammunition for the various brave souls manning the guns at Fort Honorarium.  Of course, they won't matter a damn as far as the violence is concerned; imagine the insurgent who says, well, we're going to stop killing these people because they have a national assembly now.  This is Cakewalk Theory 2.0.  And, now, one of the war's principal architects tells us that everything could have been avoided if we'd just "handed the keys" over to a passel of crooks you wouldn't trust to park your car.  To hell with being fired.  When are some of these clucks going to simply get laughed out of town?




Charles is not happy – but in defense of the guy this hit the press this week also.


Ahmad Again 
Chalabi's return and other good news from the Iraqi campaign.
Christopher Hitchens - Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2005, at 6:38 PM PT - SLATE.COM


It’s unreadable.


Just Above Sunset here on Ahmad Chalabi – (May 2, 2004)


We pay the Iraqi National Congress of Ahmed Chalabi 340,000 bucks a month and have for years.  We have spent the last three years pretending Chalabi is to the future Iraq what Charles de Gaul was to the future France in 1944 or so – the legitimate leader in exile.  Yeah, he was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison for bank fraud and cannot set foot in Jordon, Lebanon or Switzerland ever again (details here) – but he’s our guy.  He has his admirers in Washington.  He’s the man to the neoconservative right - who call him brilliant, selfless and courageous.  Senator Joseph Lieberman has called him "a person of strength, principle and real national commitment."  His friend Richard Perle, the influential Defense Department adviser who also worked for Conrad Black as the Editor of the Jerusalem Post, loves the guy.  Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith think he’s great.  His nephew is now in charge of the tribunal that will try Saddam Hussein.  His other close relatives have been appointed to head various ministries in the new Iraq – Oil, Finance and such things.  Others of his relatives are getting big no-bid reconstruction contracts – you could look it up.  He’s our guy. 

Yeah, another of his nephews was the plant who gave us false information about non-existent weapons of mass destruction – and this embarrassed Colin Powell no end as he used that very information to tell the UN we were so very sure about all that weapons stuff. 

Chalabi admits this was kind of a scam to get him back to Iraq and back in power, but as he told the press - "As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful.  That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad.  What was said before is not important."

Oh, right. 

Well, the locals don’t like him much.  He hadn’t set foot in Iraq since 1958 – so they kind of wonder who the hell this guy is.  Hey, he’s our guy.  


But Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta, begs to differ.  He read the Christopher Hitchens item cited above.  Chalabi is no longer unknown, or if known, hated in Iraq.


I did just read it and found it okay.


Hitchens can be, and too often is, a real pain in the rear sometimes, but he does seem to lay out a good case for Chalabi here - that despite what could be trumped-up CIA charges about him, Iraqis of all colors and stripes may be warming to Chalabi, and that he just might be able to bring the country together.


And that is a good point.  Who the Iraqi folks warm up to is none of our business, as we have sort of promised them a democracy of some kind.  They are, or will be, one day, perhaps, if things go well this week in spite of the evidence this week, free to choose their own leaders, no matter what the CIA found out regarding Chalabi, and no matter what the folks in Amman and Petra over in Jordan think about the guy, or what the Swiss banking community thinks.


Heck, we chose George Bush in spite of his lack experience and skills and appropriate background, and in spite of his stumbling incoherence and lack of knowledge about the world and his proud disinterest in finding out more than the little he did know.  We run our own Festival of Fruitcakes.


Who are we to say Ahmad Chalabi isn’t the right man for the job?


And the current crew in Washington still like him, at least the key players who sway the president do.  The others – Powell and Tenet and the rest – have been dropping like flies in the second Bush administration.


And Chalabi did say at one point that if he ran Iraq, well, Iraq would fully recognize Israel, no matter what any Shiite or Sunni thought.  You could look it up.


Perle used to edit the Jerusalem Post for Conrad Black.  Douglas Feith used to write position papers for the Israeli government (Doug resigned this week).  Wolfowitz and the neoconservatives say anyone who questions what we’re up to in our foreign policy is just anti-Semitic.


Chalabi will do.  And he’s doing one heck of a sales job these days.


I do personally know a few Jordanians who lost a whole lot of money when Chalabi’s Bank of Petra failed and his family stashed three or four hundred million from the wreckage in their own personal Swiss accounts.  But the Jordanian folks I met don’t get a vote in Iraq.


Who gets to run the show is the choice of the Iraqis – so let it be.






Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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