Across the Bay

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Regime Change Recycled

I had this bugging feeling yesterday when I posted Friedman's "regime change" line, that I had read that somewhere else. Indeed, I looked around and found it. I suspect that it comes from former CIA Saudi Arabia station chief, Ray Close, the same guy whose "brilliant" commentary Juan Cole featured on his site before (cute little connections here!).

Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine had brought to our attention a symposium by lefties arguing for a withdrawal from Iraq. In there was Ray Close's remark about "regime change" in the US. Brilliant...

Friedman is basically confused out of his mind and is now recycling the one-liners of former CIA operatives in Saudi Arabia and bankrupt lefties. Great turn-around, and a great omen for the future! Poor Iraqis.

Even Nick Gillespie, who is opposed to the war, scoffed at the suggestions:

"The symposium is titled "How to Get Out of Iraq" so, needless to say, there isn't much variation on the theme. One interesting tension arises, however. Former CIA station chief Ray Close argues "There has to be regime change in Washington. It's the only way to solve the Iraq problem," while Jonathan Schell notes that Kerry is pledged to stay in Iraq.

As someone who was against the war and who feels the occupation has been going awfully (though not necessarily as catastrophically as many believe), I've got to say that none of these pieces provides a particularly strong case for "how to get out of Iraq" in a way that's either politically plausible or likely to make anything better there.

The closest anyone comes is, god help us all, sovietologist Stephen F. Cohen, who writes, "The only near-term and honorable way out is by linking a firm US commitment to a phased military withdrawal to an Iraqi popular election for a representative national assembly that would itself, not the occupation authorities or its appointees, choose an interim government, adopt a constitution for the country and then schedule elections for the new permanent institutions of government." Which is not all that different from what's likely to happen anyway.