Sunday, October 15, 2006


I Wonder If This Will Work?

It's hard to see how it could be any worse than what Iraq's got right now:

IRAQ’S fragile democracy, weakened by mounting chaos and a rapidly rising death toll, is being challenged by calls for the formation of a hardline “government of national salvation”. The proposal, which is being widely discussed in political and intelligence circles in Baghdad, is to replace the Shi’ite-led government of Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, with a regime capable of imposing order and confronting the sectarian militias leading the country to the brink of civil war. Dr Saleh al-Mutlak, a prominent Sunni politician, travelled to Arab capitals last week seeking support for the replacement of the present government with a group of five strongmen who would impose martial law and either dissolve parliament or halt its participation in day-to-day government.
This presumes that the Iraqis now have a democracy. They don't. They barely have the stage props for one. Democracies don't let sectarian gangs turn modern hospitals into killing zones. But I digress.
Other Iraqis dismissed the idea that a unilateral change in the leadership would be desirable or even possible. “The only person who can undertake a coup in Iraq now is General George Casey (the US commander) and I don’t think the Americans are inclined to go in that direction,” said Ahmed Chalabi, head of a rival political party.
English translation: "If Mutlak pulls this off, I'm outa here or else I know I'll be facing a firing squad for conning the PNAC Platoon people into invading a country just to help out my friends in Iran -- and of course make a bundle in grifting and war profiteering."
Any suspension of the democratic process would be regarded as a severe blow to American and British policy.
No, it would be the final proof that the PNAC Platoon idiots -- Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith, Kristol and the like -- got snookered by a convicted embezzler.
The establishment of democracy has been its cornerstone and successful elections in December last year were hailed as a cause for optimism. However, Anthony Cordesman, an influential expert on Iraq at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said there was a “very real possibility” that Maliki could be toppled in the coming months. “Nobody in Iraq has the military power to mount a traditional coup, but there could be a change in government, done in a backroom, which could see a general brought in to run the ministry of defence or the interior,” Cordesman said. “It could be regarded as a more legitimate government than the present one as long it doesn’t favour one faction.”
No duh. Democracy's not something that can be imposed from outside, especially on a place that while Westernized, has not been democratized. It's even worse if what was really being installed wasn't a democracy, but a puppet client state that existed mainly if not solely to provide a spot to park tens of thousands of American troops in fourteen-odd permanent bases to make up for the ones lost in the region when the Shah was toppled in 1979. When the Founding Fathers declared independence in 1776, they were building on centuries of movement away from absolute monarchy -- and still had much more to do. Furthermore, as the GOP/Media authoritarian hijacking of America's institutions shows, democracy is not to be taken for granted. It is only as strong as the people who guard it.

“The only person who can undertake a coup in Iraq now is General George Casey (the US commander) and I don’t think the Americans are inclined to go in that direction,” said Ahmed Chalabi, head of a rival political party.

Except, David Brooks said on MTP today:

Matthews: David, do you believe the President is looking for an out from his doctrinaire policy of staying the course?

Brooks: Not really, no I don't. I think they're looking at policy options. One of those options is trying to replace the current government which seems to be doing nothing. The second option is some sort of federation which–Joe Biden has suggested as separating Iraq. A third option and by far the least likely is going in with more troops, So there's all different three options…We have much less control over Iraq than we did two or three years ago.

Would a US commander undertake a coup on Bush's orders?
Good catch, AnonyMN.

I wouldn't think that a US commander would openly assist any coup plotters. But then again, I never would have believed that Judith Miller would have been allowed to command US troops on behalf of her good Ahmad Chalabi.

That being said, what I think is more likely would be that some of the tens of thousands of mercenaries -- excuse me, "private military contractors" -- currently getting Pentagon money would be directed to help out the coup plotters. This would have the advantage, for BushCo, of putting a (paper-thin, to be sure) wall of deniability between the US government and the coup plotters.

But then again, I remember that this was pretty much what we tried with the Bay of Pigs. And we all know how that worked out. (Hint: Not well, unless you're Fidel Castro.)
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