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Monday, July 12, 2004

Published on Monday, July 12, 2004 by CommonDreams.org

Bush May Still Win in Iraq
by Wade Hudson

The Bush Administration could have done the invasion
of Iraq "right." They could have used more troops.
They could have discouraged, rather than sanctioned,
the post-invasion looting. They could have established
order by keeping the Iraqi Army intact. They could
have cultivated popular support by hiring Iraqis to
rebuild the country rather than giving no-bid
contracts to their friends, at much greater cost. They
could have conducted elections sooner rather than
later.

But if they had, the Iraqi people would have elected
an anti-American, Islamist government.

So, instead, they allowed the country to fall into
chaos so that most Iraqis would reluctantly accept a
pro-American Iraqi strong man as their head of
government. Thus far, it's working. Even Ayatollah
Sistani accepts the secular Iyad Allawi as Prime
Minister, for now. The Bush scheme may soon accomplish
its primary goal: the re-election of the "War
President" this November.

The Bush Administration is brazenly driven by
election-year politics. The rush to war against Iraq
was dictated by the election calendar. As reported by
the New Republic, the Bush Administration is
explicitly pressuring Pakistan to capture bin Laden
prior to the election. The Administration has violated
core conservative principles by getting Congress to
pass legislation hypocritically designed to gain votes
in November.

Concerning the recent transfer of limited power to an
interim Iraqi government, Seymour Hersh reported in
the June 28 New Yorker that a former White House
official depicted the Administration as eager-almost
desperate-to "put together something by June 30th-just
something that could stand up" through the
Presidential election.

There may be no limit to what Team Bush will do to win
November 2. If there is, it's impossible to define.

In early April 2003, shortly after the Marines
arrived, an Iraqi college student in Baghdad who had
refused to join the Baath Party told me, "I'm afraid
that the Americans will just secure the resources of
Iraq and leave Iraq in the hands of another crazy
leader." This student was not alone. Many observers
anticipated that the U.S. would install another Saddam
clone to take charge in Iraq. The selection of Allawi
is consistent with this suspicion.

"Allawi helped Saddam get to power," an American
intelligence officer told Hersh. "He was a very
effective operator and a true believer." Reuel Marc
Gerecht, a former C.I.A. case officer, commented, "His
strongest virtue is that he's a thug." According to
Hersh, one of Allawi 's former medical-school
classmates, Dr. Haifa al-Azawi, depicted Allawi as a
"big husky man . . . who carried a gun on his belt and
frequently brandished it, terrorizing the medical
students."

Hersh wrote that when Allawi moved to London in 1971,
he was in charge of the European operations of the
Baath Party and the local activities of the
Mukhabarat, its intelligence agency, until 1975.
Vincent Cannistraro, a former C.I.A. officer, said,
"Allawi has blood on his hands from his days in
London." A cabinet-level Middle East diplomat told
Hersh that Allawi was involved with a Mukhabarat "hit
team" that sought out and killed Baath Party
dissenters throughout Europe. Why Allawi fell out of
favor with Saddam and became the victim of
assassination attempts himself is unknown.

Bush-Allawi are demonstrating considerable political
skills. Partly by reminding the Kurds that they would
need pipelines even if they seized Kirkuk and the
Northern oil fields, Bush-Allawi, with military
assistance from Israel, are keeping the Kurds on
board. Bush-Allawi have kept the Shiite elites in the
South relatively quiet by attacking and weakening the
forces of Ayatollah Sistani's fierce opponent, Muqtada
al Sadr.

And Bush-Allawi allowed the insurgents to take over in
Fallujah, which has enabled the Sunnis to centralize a
political base. From this strengthened position, the
Iraqi Sunnis have openly, forcefully told the foreign
jihadists to stop their suicide bombing, with
considerable success. Now Allawi is planning to revive
the Army and is promising amnesty for Iraqi insurgents
if they back off. Given his connections with the
former Baathists in the Sunni Triangle, Allawi might
well persuade the Iraqi insurgents to focus on the
U.S. military and permit him to restore security for
the Iraqi people.

With increased security, Allawi's honeymoon could well
last for a while. He might cobble together a
confederation with the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites each
having regional power. If he were to tell the
Americans to withdraw their troops completely and Bush
agreed to a date certain, the national assembly, if
one is elected in January, would more likely select
him as their Prime Minister.

But a more probable scenario is that once the U.S.
election is over, Allawi will "postpone" the Iraqi
election and perpetuate martial law. If Bush pulls the
rabbit out of the hat and beats Kerry, Bush probably
won' t have democracy in Iraq, but at least Iraq's
dictator will be "our" dictator.

Wade Hudson (whudson@igc.org), Editor of Toward Peace
served in Baghdad with the Iraq Peace Team before,
during, and after the invasion.

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