Friends and Enemies
I don't know what to make of today's raid of Ahmad Chalabi's home and offices today by U.S. troops. This was the guy who did more than anyone else to stoke the war fires among the neocons, who was on the Pentagon's payroll for years, and who everyone fully expected would become the President of Iraq once we handed over power. And we put a gun to his head and ransacked his house?
No foreigner bears more responsibility for the mess in Iraq that Chalabi. He is the author of the infamous claim that we would be welcomed as liberators by the Iraqi people, with candy and flowers in the streets. He was the main voice claiming knowledge of WMD in Baghdad. He conned the administration into thinking he was a respected figure in Iraq, despite the fact that he hadn't set foot in the country for four decades.
So basically, he's public liar #1. Is it as easy as that? We feel burned and we're going to make his life miserable? It seems like this government doesn't throw loyal allies under the bus this easily. The more you look at this story, however, the more you realize how FUBAR this war truly is.
The excellent and prescient Salon article from May 4, which opens with a big ol' picture of Chalabi gladhanding President Mohammed Khatami of Axis of Evil member-in-good-standing Iran...
...explains how it was Chalabi's idea to de-Baathify the Iraqi army, which was an early source of chaos in the occupation, as it put hundreds of thousands of experienced gun-owners out of work (never a good thing). According to Chalabi, it was these very Baathists, reinstated into the army in recent weeks, who led the charge to raid his house today. Also, the article raises some of the first public cracks in Chalabi's love-fest with the neocons in the Pentagon:
"Ahmed Chalabi is a treacherous, spineless turncoat," says L. Marc Zell, a former law partner of Douglas Feith, now the undersecretary of defense for policy, and a former friend and supporter of Chalabi and his aspirations to lead Iraq. "He had one set of friends before he was in power, and now he's got another."
We desperately wanted to believe Chalabi because he said he'd open diplomatic relations with Israel. As soon as he started cozying up to Shiites in Iran (presumably to save his political backside in Baghdad), that was it. It might as well have been the Mossad that burst into his house. While around the world, protesters were chanting "No War for Oil," it's become clear that this was a war for Israel, to give them a strategic partner in the region, to eliminate a possible threat TO THEM (not us), to keep THEM safe (not us), to improve THEIR economy (not ours). There was ample evidence to show that Chalabi was only out for a power grab, and would say anything to anyone (including "Israel is my friend!") to get it. And now, we're in the ridiculous position of turning our back on the only Iraqi who we believed before the war.
This is why the Governing Council in Iraq won't have any power come June 30, because Chalabi is the finance minister of it. So because of a grudge, because we believed a con man and now we're hurt, we will not hand over power to the only governing body in the country. There are less than six weeks to June 30, and we have NO FUCKING PLAN.
Maybe this is why Pentagon insiders are speaking that which has no name:
"I believe we are absolutely on the brink of failure. We are looking into the abyss," General Joseph Hoar, a former commander in chief of US central command, told the Senate foreign relations committee.
Larry Diamond, an analyst at the conservative Hoover Institution, said: "I think it's clear that the United States now faces a perilous situation in Iraq.
"We have failed to come anywhere near meeting the post-war expectations of Iraqis for security and post-war reconstruction.
"There is only one word for a situation in which you cannot win and you cannot withdraw - quagmire."