The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Just over three weeks ago, I wrote in this post on the "kabuki dance" bewteen the US, the Iraqi Governing Council, and Brahimi:
In order for the US to get what it wants -- leaders that like them -- they need to build the perception that not only are they not in charge of the selection of new leaders, but also that the Iraqis are choosing their leaders in a way that is somehow contrary to American wishes.

That's why the Bush administration made a big deal about how it was "surprised", but happy with the selection of Allawi as Prime Minister. That's why the administration also floated the idea of the IGC selecting Adnan Pachachi, who's over 80, to be the transitional government's president, right before the IGC went ahead and picked Yawar, the current IGC president.
In the comments to that post, Jack from Tigerhawk, in the process of complimenting me on the post (it's rather kind to the administration, for once!) called my theory cynical and "a bit artful" if true.

But based on this bit from yesterday's David Ignatius column, it seems there was a dance of some sort, though not quite how I surmised:
The final challenge in the run-up to Iraqi sovereignty has been the selection of an interim government. This process was jointly managed by U.N. special representative Lakhdar Brahimi, Bush National Security Council official Robert Blackwill and U.S. occupation chief L. Paul Bremer.

In choosing an interim president, the three "B's" in Baghdad forwarded to Washington the names of two Sunnis on the Governing Council: Adnan Pachachi and Ghazi Yawar. The White House responded that either was acceptable. Hoping to boost Yawar's popularity with Iraqis by distancing him from Washington, his supporters leaked to American journalists a false report that Bush had decided on Pachachi. In fact, it was Brahimi who wanted Pachachi. When the 80-year-old Pachachi turned the job down, it went to Yawar by default.
Too bad Jack's on vacation right now.

Whether "his supporters" means IGC members or people involved with Bremer/Brahimi/etc isn't 100% clear from Ignatius' column, but the distinction isn't terribly meaningful, as they are at this point tentacles of the same octopus, and any two of those tentacles can tango. The point is the parties involved are trying to artificially distinguish the selection process for Iraq's transitional leaders from the preferences of the Bush administration.

Fasten your seatbelt for some high praise for the administration: This is the best thing they can do, given the circumstances, and given their objectives (i.e. getting Iraqi leaders who are friendly to US interests).

Unfortunately, that's where the praise ends. The given "circumstances" to which I refer are ones which the US 1) brought upon itself, and 2) could have easily predicted before the war began. And it certainly doesn't help that we've basically turned Muqtada al-Sadr into William Wallace with a political party, no matter what certain southern law professors say.

(note: I did get to the Ignatius column via Kaus who, interestingly enough, initially believed the kabuki-dance theory to be "cynical", just as Jack did)

UPDATE: Regardless of the fact that the interim government is basically the IGC reconstituted, if a majority of the Iraqi people think well of it, then that's a good development, possibly meaning this shadow puppetry is bearing fruit. Let's hope it stays that way, as Iraq is about to go through the gauntlet as never before since the occupation began.


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