Monday, August 29, 2005

Iraq's Quiet Savior

The history of nations is not made by Yes Men, but by the obstinate, brave & smart - think Washington, Jefferson, Churchill and Roosevelt. Ahmad Chalabi looks to be the man to build democracy in Iraq. The Administration must do the right thing and support him - their policy of undermining him is a bust.

Robert Pollock writes in today's Opinion Journal:

That night Khalid al-Saaidi becomes the third associate of Mr. Chalabi to die in two weeks...Meanwhile, Baathist insurgents have obtained the phone directory of another victim...and are threatening still more. Mr. Chalabi has re-emerged in their eyes as a prime threat.

Why? Because he survived a concerted White House campaign last year to undermine him, brokering the Shiite-led electoral list that won the January election and becoming deputy prime minister; because he had become a major player in the constitution-writing process that culminated this past weekend; and because he is rapidly becoming a key figure for U.S. military commanders on the ground here as they contemplate the feasibility of troop drawdowns.

Chalabi has all the right enemies - the UN, Iran, CIA and State Department all hate him. Last year the CIA and State tried unsuccessfully to smear him with a bunch of of trumped-up charges. They stripped his guards of their guns, assuming that he'd either be killed by Baathists or run. He stayed, protected by his friends.

He has the right friends. In spite of CIA pressure, the splendid Kurdish leadership stood by him - he'd fought with them against Saddam back in 1996.

The UN hated him because he blew the whistle on its Oil-For-Food corruption (my ellipsis).

It isn't a coincidence that the (State and CIA) attacks on Mr. Chalabi really heated up with arrival in Baghdad of U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and a desperate play by the administration to foist responsibility for occupation on the international community. The trouble was, Mr. Chalabi had been busy showing that the U.N. had never really had Iraq's interests at heart. The Volcker Commission would likely never have been empaneled, and Oil for Food chief Benon Sevan's alleged corruption exposed, without the leads Mr. Chalabi provided based on information he obtained while serving as a member of the Governing Council.

He's an excellent manager and has worked wonders protecting Iraq's precious oil exports.

He's a savvy politician.

...under the most trying conditions, the master coalition-builder crafted the Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance that shocked our spooks and diplomats by dominating the January election.

His enemies tunneled his election victory:

Mr. Chalabi had enough support to make a credible bid for the prime minister's post, only to drop out in the face of strong U.S.-Iranian lobbying...for the Islamist, Ibrahim al-Jafaari, who has proven to be an ineffectual leader at best.

Right, it sounds incredible - a US/Iranian alliance!

Chalabi seems to be the only man with the stature to get the Sunnis to accept the Constitution & so avert civil war. The Administration has treated him appallingly and I hope they've learned their lesson - only strong men make good allies. And I hope the Baathist killers don't get him.