Iraqi Kanan Makiya spoke at the American Enterprise Institute yesterday, telling how the CIA is apparently continuing to undermine the Iraqi opposition:

At the same American Enterprise Institute event yesterday, a former CIA officer, Reuel Marc Gerecht,referred to efforts by the CIA and the State Department to “derail” the leader of the Iraqi National Congress, Ahmad Chalabi. He said the State Department and the CIA have an inclination toward Sunni Muslims. Mr. Chalabi is a Shiite Muslim, as is the Iraqi fighter involved in the incident at Amara. [New York Sun, 4/9/03]
You can read the story of this interesting fighter, Abu Hattam, in the Sun article. Reuters describes the latest CIA efforts to derail Chalabi, and what he’s up to as well:

The opposition Iraqi National Congress said on Tuesday leaders from across southern Iraq flocked to the town of Nassiriya to greet its leader Ahmad Chalabi, but a CIA report said he and other returning exiles would find little support among Iraqis…Francis Brooke, a close adviser to the opposition leader, said local Iraqi leaders had brought requests for Chalabi to mediate with the U.S. military authorities on matters such as power supplies and people held as prisoners of war. “We have been receiving delegation upon delegation. We don’t have time to meet them all. We are inundated,” Brooke told Reuters in a telephone interview from Nassiriya. [Reuters, 4/8/03]
Robert Kagan makes the same line sound more reasonable:

[S]ome Bush officials may want to support the political fortunes of people they have known and trusted for many years, such as Ahmed Chalabi. It’s understandable, but it’s a mistake. Chalabi is undoubtedly a good man. While in exile, he labored long and hard against Saddam Hussein. If he can now muster genuine support in Iraq, through his own exertions, then the world should wish him well. But the United States must not give him a leg up over other potential leaders, and especially those who may now begin emerging from within Iraq. As Paul Wolfowitz put it last Sunday, “You can’t talk about democracy and then turn around and say we’re going to pick the leaders of this democratic country.” Exactly right, so the United States shouldn’t help Chalabi or anyone else position himself as Iraq’s Charles de Gaulle in the waning days of the war. If it ever starts to look as if the United States fought a war in Iraq in order to put Chalabi in power, President Bush’s great success will be measurably discredited. [Washington Post, 4/8/03]
Now this, to put it bluntly, is rubbish. It springs from the premise that we’re not allowed to have any selfish interests in this war, that we’re doing it “for the Iraqi people.” If Bush really wants to win this war, it’s this premise he has to reject. If we have an interest in Iraq’s postwar government, it’s that it be a free country, not a “democratic” one. The idea that we should leave Iraq alone to vote itself into Islamic fundamentalism is absurd. And the idea that we should care what other people or other countries think is equally absurd. As the New Republic puts it (while agreeing with Kagan):

[I]t seems like a Chalabi government might pose a public relations problem for the United States even if he manages to win the job by his own accord. After all, given Chalabi’s long association with several American policymakers, and the fact that we basically airlifted him and other top INC officials into Southern Iraq during the closing days of the war, isn’t it going to be nearly impossible to avoid the perception that we helped install him atop the Iraqi government, even if we make no effort to do that from here on out? ON THE OTHER HAND… Given that the United States almost single-handedly liberated the country, and that it’s the U.S. which will be the major force behind its reconstruction, it’s probably inevitable that whoever ends up leading postwar Iraq will face the perception that they were installed by the United States. [New Republic Online, 4/9/03]
All this nonsense comes from seeking legitimacy in some mystical, indefinable “will of the people” whose purity will somehow be besmirched if we have any influence on the outcome. The “will of the people” be damned–the people have no right to vote away other people’s rights, and Iraq has no right to be governed by a government that allows that to happen. Any other considerations of “who rules” are secondary to that.

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