Running Scared: Observations of a Former Republican
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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Pig Suffocates from Excessive Lipstick: SPCA to Protest

posted by Jazz at 12/18/2004 01:07:00 PM


Today, Betsy Newmark points us to a column by Jeff Jacoby, who is joining the ranks of Bush supporters valiantly flailing around in an effort to make the President's disastrous mistake in Iraq look like a positive. After acknowledging the realities of the situation - looting, insurgency, terrorists, kidnappings - he asks and answers his own question.

"This is liberation? Yes, it is. But liberations are often dangerous and turbulent, less clear-cut while they are happening than they later become in retrospect."

Am I the only one who finds this eerily reminiscent of Rummy telling us that "Freedom is messy" some time back?

His column covers what is admittedly an interesting film project, "Voices of Iraq" which was created by letting thousands of Iraqis take hand held cameras and film whatever they wished and provide comments. Of course, the producers could distill 80 minutes of film out of that which makes things look hopeful. I'm not saying that nothing good every happens in Iraq. That would be disingenuous. But to think that this invasion is leading down a yellow brick road to a successful democracy might be a bit of a stretch.

To see exactly what I'm talking about, check out this column by David Ignatius, who tells us "How Iran is Winning Iraq." After seeing the slate of candidates which are being put forward by the leading Shiite clerics, Ignatius sees the man behind the curtain, and it's not a friendly, benevolent wizard.

If you had asked an intelligence analyst two years ago to describe the worst possible political outcome following an American invasion of Iraq, he might well have answered that it would be a regime dominated by conservative Shiite Muslim clerics with links to neighboring Iran. But just such a regime now seems likely to emerge after Iraq's Jan. 30 elections.

Iran is about to hit the jackpot in Iraq, wagering the blood and treasure of the United States
. Last week an alliance of Iraqi Shiite leaders announced that its list of candidates will be headed by Abdul Aziz Hakim, the clerical leader of the Iranian-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. This Shiite list, backed by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, is likely to be the favorite of Iraq's 60 percent Shiite majority and win the largest share of votes next month.

Iraqis who aren't part of the Shiite religious juggernaut are frightened by what's happening. The Iraqi interim defense minister, Hazim Shalan, this week described the Shiite political alliance as an "Iranian list" created by those who wanted "turbaned clerics to rule" in Iraq. Shalan is no saint himself -- like interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, he was once part of Saddam Hussein's Baathist network. But he and Allawi speak for many millions of Iraqis who don't want to see an Iran-leaning clerical government but are powerless to stop it.

This is something that authorities on the Arab world have been warning us of since the beginning. Yes, a worst case scenario is a civil war breaking out as soon as we significantly reduce our troop levels there, and that possibility still looms. However, even in the event of "successful elections" there is no guarantee that Iraqis, the power of a shiny new democracy in their hands, will do with it what we might like. The clerics in Iraq hold huge power over the opinions and actions of the people. Sistani seems to be showing us exactly what he plans on doing with it.

I recall seeing reporters try to nail down the Bush administration about what our response would be if the newly "liberated" Iraqis chose to adopt a radically fundamentalist Islamic ruling class which would not be very different from a theocracy. The responses were uniform and predictable. While never saying that we would allow it to happen, we were always told that the Iraqis could elect whoever they choose, but "we trust they wouldn't do that." It looks like that trust may have been misplaced.

UPDATE: I had no sooner finished writing this than I saw this piece by Ron over at Middle Earth Journal which ties in quite nicely. Take a look.