Daily Archives: May 21, 2004

Chalabi Raid Charade?

There seems to have been a turnaround in Ahmad Chalabi’s convivial relationship with US neocons and the CPA. Or at least you would think so, given this:

BAGHDAD, Iraq — With the U.S. transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government just six weeks away, fresh political turmoil broke out Thursday when Iraqi police backed by American soldiers raided the home and offices of Ahmad Chalabi, a top Iraqi leader and former U.S. adviser who has become a vocal critic of transition plans.Chalabi was not arrested, and officials said they knew of no charges against him.

Hmmm. A few months ago, when it was clear that the Iraqis didn’t trust Cheney’s Golden Boy because they judged (correctly) that he was a power-hungry thief and US puppet (incorrectly; it was the other way around), Chalabi used his month’s worth of rotating IGC chairmanship not to work for Iraqi sovreignity or urge the writing of the constitution but to come to Washington. In public, he testified before Congress (asking for money, naturally, as well as a quick handover), but he also had a number of private meetings with his buddies Wolfowitz, Cheney, Feith, and Libby.

Act II: He goes back to Iraq and suddenly he’s a critic of the US administration on behalf of ‘ordinary Iraqis’.

In recent months, Chalabi has fallen out of favor with Bush administration officials, due partly to his open criticism of the U.S. plan for handing over power on June 30 to an interim Iraqi government, saying the plan will not grant full sovereignty to the Iraqi people.

Well, maybe, but if he cares it would be the first time.

Act III: So Ahmad, who needs desperately to distance himself from the American occupation, is now attacking it, attacking his US sponsors in Washington, and accused of handing sensitive information to another Arab state–Iran–on the US enemies list. For the climax, Iraqi police raid his home and offices–just like they do ordinary Iraqis, except they don’t bulldoze it to rubble–and Ahmad is furious.

“I am America’s best friend in Iraq,” Chalabi said later at a news conference, claiming that he was roused from his bed by armed police during the raid. “If the [coalition] finds it necessary to direct an armed attack against my home, you can see the state of relations between the [coalition] and the Iraqi people.”

Now, I’m not doubting the possibility that Chalabi finally overplayed his hand with the Neocon Wonder Boys, but there’s another explanation that’s at least as likely: that the whole thing is a charade. Chalabi needs credibility as an opponent of the US since no one is going to have real power in Iraq at this point–not after Abu Ghraib, they’re not–who’s an open ally. Conveniently, the Iraqi police, at the order of an Iraqi judge, give him that credibility on what both say were orders from the American authorities, while the Army and the CPA say, ‘Uh-uh. Wasn’t us’, and point their fingers the other way.

From a certain vantage, it’s awfully convenient timing. If the NWB’s wanted to rehabilitate their protege, this would be the only hope they had of doing it.

Blind As We Wanna Be

Mark Morford is wondering if Dubya is as dumbya as he looks.

After all, it has always been far too easy to smack BushCo around as being an aww-shucks dumb-guy AWOL simpleton daddy’s boy with a low-C average and a painfully inarticulate approach to the world, coupled with an astounding, world-famous ability to mangle both the English language and every foreign policy ever implemented.It’s always felt like a bit of a grand ruse, Bush’s Forrest Gump-style dunderheadedness, a clever (if entirely plausible) way to deflect much of the responsibility for his regimes’s carnage, all designed to make the nation believe that this guy simply couldn’t be all that bad because, well, he just ain’t all that bright.

But, he’s thinking now, maybe it’s even more sinister than we thought.

It is, in short, the stupidity of the indignant and the self-righteous, of the morally arrogant, of someone whose power base is threatened and yet who is still blindly forcing America down this nightmare path, even when all signs and all leaders and all U.N. councils and all weapons investigators and all flagrant U.S.-sanctioned rapes and tortures are veritably screaming in his face that it is a mistake of increasingly epic, treacherous proportions.And so maybe, ultimately, it all comes back to us. Maybe it is the majority of people in this flag-wavin’, happily deluded, fear-drenched country who can’t believe it could happen, who simply, you know “misunderestimated” just how poisonous Bush’s savage brand of stupidity really is.

Barbara Tuchman wrote the definitive book on the sort of arrogant blindness that produces massive disasters, The March of Folly, almost 20 years ago. In excruciating detail, she described the depths of denial and the heights of baseless wishful thinking in which govts must indulge in order to bring it off–disasters aren’t as easy to accomplish as you might think; you have to really work at it–but Morford is making a different observation: that our willingness to enter into denial right along with the Bushies rather than do the small amount of work it would take to uncover his patent frauds, deceits and deliberate misrepresentations, make us as culpable as they are. Imprisoned in our own sightless world of comfort, convenience, and optimism, we preferred to look the other way while he raped somebody else’s neighborhood, somebody else’s wife, and somebody else’s country.

I’ve been listening to Franken lately because I’m going in to work earlier, and every day he has a little talk with a friend of his (named ‘Mark’, oddly enough) who is a Rush fan. He plays tapes of Rush’s lies for Mark, proves over and again that nothing he says is true, and Mark’s response is always the same: Rush may go overboard once in a while but his essential ‘themes’ (Mark’s word) are that: a) liberals never say anything good about America; b) that therefore anything they do say can’t be trusted and shouldn’t be believed; and c) that America is the greatest nation on the face of the earth. Mark hears Limbo’s hatred, pessimism, and blind support for the most odious practices in the world, including torture, as the perhaps over-zealousness of a patriot coming to the defense of his country, and nothing else matters to him.

So far have we come from the nation that started out determined to allow and even endorse self-criticism and self-correction that those values are now considered negative, unworthy and unwanted, even traitorous. Maybe it’s time to consider that the radcons were only able to blind us because we wanted to be blind; were only able to fool us because we wanted to be fooled; were only able to keep us in the dark because we were afraid of what we’d see if somebody turned the lights on.

You want to know how Hitler could happen in the land of Goerthe and Frederick the Great? Look around you and ask how George W Bush and Tom DeLay could happen in the land that once belonged to Thomas Jefferson and Mark Twain. Because that’s how. We’re seeing it develop right before our eyes–or would be if we dared to open them.