Across the Bay

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Colin the Shots?

Slate has a couple of interesting pieces on Powell and Iraq by Mickey Kaus and Jack Shafer.

The way I read them, both signal to me how Powell is striking back at the DoD and bidding for taking charge of Iraq. For instance, Kaus quotes an editorial from the Washington Post whose recommendations, on the issue of elections, aren't too dissimilar from the one by William Kristol and Robert Kagan in the Standard which I linked earlier:

"[T]he supposed utopian solution -- elections -- offers the most pragmatic way of establishing a viable government. Elections, as opposed to war or outside appointment, are still the mechanism favored by the country's most powerful political forces for determining Iraq's future. They offer the best chance of defeating the extremists.

Elections, in short, are the best U.S. endgame in Iraq -- provided the administration adopts a realists' view of them. It is sensible for the United States to give the United Nations as large a role as it will accept in organizing and conducting those elections; it is foolish to cling to the idea that U.S. political favorites, such as some of the exiles on the appointed Governing Council, can survive a popular vote. It is unrealistic to believe that U.S. appointees and advisers can be positioned to control the future government or that unilateral U.S. control over security matters can be maintained past the first ballot; Iraqi forces must be prepared to control security. The Bush administration also must accept, sooner rather than later, that an elected Iraqi government is likely to embrace economic or social policies not favored by the United States and may not be particularly friendly to Washington or to Israel.[Emphasis added]

Having heard yesterday that Powell said that he is willing to accept an Islamic theocracy in Iraq should that be the outcome of elections in Iraq, and hearing the rumor that Chalabi's allowance has been stopped, it seems that the Post's self-styled "Realist" recommendations have their "Realist" audience in the DoS. Mind you, the allowance cessation with Chalabi is only the most recent jab. Earlier, the DoS and the CIA were promoting a rumor that Chalabi was getting money from Iran for selling secrets on US actions in Iraq that led to US casualties!

Besides the allowance issue, the other part of the "one, two" punch sequence is Powell's "confession" that the CIA was "deliberately mislead" on the WMD. He blamed the INC. That was the first time any top US official made that claim (which was a favorite of Anne Coulter's Democrat mirror image, Maureen Dowd).

I wonder what all this will amount to, if anything at all. I certainly hope the US stays, and is not using this as a way to find an acceptable story for a withdrawal after early elections. Today Schroeder said that Muslim peacekeeping troops would be preferable to NATO ones. I hope that doesn't mean that the US would pull out to be replaced by (UN-led?) Muslim troops (the majority of whom would be Sunnis). Thankfully, Rumsfeld insisted yesterday in a talk at the Heritage Foundation that the US troops aren't going anywhere. Let's hope that is the case.