Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is urging President Bush to install an interim Iraqi government immediately–even as the war continues. The new authority would be made up of Iraqi opposition groups in exile, including the Iraqi National Congress, led by Ahmed Chalabi….[T]he defense secretary makes the case that Iraqi and Kurdish expatriates are better equipped to take over Iraq than are opposition leaders still inside the country. Rumsfeld’s reason: The exiles have experienced democracy while living in the West; the indigenous anti-Saddam Hussein forces have not….The view expressed by Rumsfeld is hotly disputed by others inside the U.S. government, and the issues surrounding an interim government have become a real source of infighting between the Pentagon on one side and the State Department and CIA, which believe the expatriates have no credibility in Iraq, on the other…

…Rumsfeld’s proposal is likely to infuriate European allies who oppose a U.S.-dominated administration of Iraq…Rumsfeld followed with a second memo Wednesday. It called for the president to ask Gen. Tommy Franks, the head of U.S. Central Command, to announce that the expatriates are in charge. Rumsfeld quotes Gen. George Patton to the effect that a good plan executed rapidly is better than a perfect plan executed too late. [US News and World Report, 4/3/03]

Notice the State Department’s implicit premise that the Iraqis would naturally oppose an American occupation. Sez who? Sure, any provisional government we help installing will be viewed as American-influenced. So what? What the State Department is saying is that our influence on the formation of Iraq’s next government will taint its “purity”–in effect, that it will only be legitimate if it “springs from the will of the Iraqi people.” This is implicit collectivism based on disregard of what in fact makes a government legitimate: the protection of individual rights. The important thing is not so much who rules as to what the rules will be. There is no point to having a “democratic” Iraq that votes itself back into dictatorship.

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