Iraq: Good Stuff At Tom Paine

So here are the two sides. On one side are the neocons, Israel and Ahmad Chalabi, all of whom are attacking Brahimi. On the other side are Secretary of State Powell, the Bush administration’s centrists, Saudi Arabia and, well, pretty much the rest of the world. Which side are you on? Do you want the United States to run Iraq like the Virgin Islands, or do you want the United Nations to take over and right things? Of course, if the United States attacks Najaf and Fallujah in the next few days, all this will be moot. Iraq will explode, the UN mission will collapse, the June 30 date will probably be postponed, more U.S. troops will go to Iraq.

Who do you think is pushing that neat solution?

It’s looking more and more like Ahmad Chalabi will be left holding the bag in Iraq. Signs are piling up that Chalabi—the silk-suited embezzler who was the neocons’ favorite to lead Iraq—will be elbowed out of the transitional government that will run Iraq after June 30. In the past week, the United States has seemingly backed a decision by UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to block members of the Iraqi Governing Clowncil from taking part in the transition, and announced plans to un-de-Baathify Iraq, halting the unjustified purge of Baathists that Chalabi was in charge of.

Chalabi, and the neocons, are screaming.

Where are all of the examples of the U.N. stepping in and “righting” things? The Congo? Seriously, I’d love a strong international effort to help Iraq in it’s struggle to become a free democracy (and the move from dictatoriship to democracy is always a monumental and painful struggle) but I’m having a hard time thinking of examples where the U.N. stepped in and “righted” things.

Frankly, I’m not so sure this is a situation that can be righted. What we can do is limit the damage. Getting the UN on board is necessary to get the world support we need for additional troops and funding. It also removes us as the main object of suspicion and hostility. The fact it’s America that’s running the country, and will be after June 30th in everything but name, only adds to the tensions. Our role in the region isn’t lost on the Iraqi people. Most see Saddam’s tenure as a consequence of American policy, rightly or wrongly, and know we only intervened when our oil supply in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait was threatened. And even after that, we left him in power to massacre the Shi’ia and Kurds we goaded into revolting against him. In interviews with even those Iraqis that support us and work with the Coalition Authority as police or translators there’s the overwhelming feeling we’re just there for the oil and will try to keep control of Iraq ourselves. Nobody believes our rhetoric anymore than they believed Saddams.

The fact that the alternatives are so gruesome, radical theocrats or unreformed Baathists or foreign jihadists, is the only thing keeping the majority of the Iraqis from revolting right now. But if we keep having to fight renegades in cities, killing civilians and destroying mosques - whether we want to or not, that’s not going to save us. The situation will become such that the average Iraqi will want us dead or gone first and then they’ll worry about their own domestic troublemakers. Then there’s civil war and the region goes to hell.

The UN has done a fairly good job in Bosnia and Kosovo which didn’t have major problems until the recent flair ups. There are many operations out there which are running well - you just don’t hear about them. Good news isn’t really news.

The UN has done a good job in Cambodia, East Timor, Bosnia…a couple of others I forget. Considering the recent violence in Kosovo, I don’t think we can call it a success yet.

Nice to see Chalabi on his way out. Lying weasel.