Thursday, February 25, 2010

Do as we say, not as we do

Iran is conducting what U.S. officials say is a broad covert-action campaign to influence Iraq's elections next month, pumping money and other assistance to its allies.
When do we start bombing, right? That's David Ignatius in The Washington Post, by the way, describing nefarious behavior the United States -- if there's a flag near by you best be saluting -- would never dare engage in, it being guided by freedom and all that is good. Read on and soak in the lurid details about what those damnable Persians are up to:
Iran provides money, campaign materials, and political training to various individual candidates and political parties [in Iraq].
In other words, the U.S. government accuses Shiite Iran of supporting the Shiite political parties whose leaders were based in Iran prior to the 2003 invasion and subsequently empowered by the U.S. government after it took out Saddam Hussein and the predominantly Sunni Baath Party (and liberated a few hundred thousand other hapless souls of mixed religious background from their corporeal existences). Iran backing the same groups the U.S. installed in power is, clearly, A Very Bad Thing, a point Ignatius need not expand upon. It just is, okay?

There's more:
"Iran interferes in Iraq's political process, urging alliances that not all Iraqi politicians favor, in an effort to consolidate power among parties supported by Iran.
Iran supports de-Baathification efforts engineered by Ahmed Chalabi for the purpose of eliminating potential obstacles to Iranian influence. Chalabi is also interested in Iran's assistance in securing the office of Prime Minister.
Again, for those not in the DC bubble, Iran stands accused of doing exactly what the Bush administration did back in 2003, when, as that radical outpost the Council on Foreign Relations reminds us, former U.S. viceroy of Iraq L. Paul Bremer "outlawed the Baath Party and dismissed all senior members from their government posts." In November of '03, Bremer then created "a Supreme National Debaathification Commission to root out senior Baathists," barring up to 10,00 of the party's top leaders from even appealing their removal.

Ahmed Chalabi, meanwhile, is head of the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group that -- with the help of some influential neoconservative friends and idiot journalists -- disseminated alarmist reports of Saddam's supposed weapons of mass destruction everywhere from The New York Times to the White House. So connected was Chalabi back in the heady pre-invasion days that, as the BBC notes, he was "once touted at the Pentagon as a future president of Iraq." That the alleged support he receives from Iran is now a cause for alarm shows a remarkable turnaround in U.S. support; usually we try to hook up our cronies with a few WMDs and torture chambers before we try to overthrow them a decade later (sometimes longer if the victims aren't photogenic, on Twitter, or living on top of coveted natural resources).

More reasons to be afraid and let Israel invade:
"The Iranians are everywhere, all over the place -- overtly, covertly, you name it," says a White House official who closely monitors Iraq."
Or, "says an official of a government that, after invading Iraq and overthrowing those it overtly and covertly aided for decades, has stationed around a quarter million troops and defense contractors in Iraq for the better part of a decade." For the political sages you know they imagine themselves to be, Washington Post columnists display a, how shall I put it, underwhelming awareness of the world around them and how the actions of their government could be considered . . . hypocritical. Take Ignatius' final line:
Iranian meddling has backfired in the past, officials say, and they are hoping that will happen again when Iraqis go to the polls.
Now, if a nation meddling in the affairs of an immediate neighbor with whom it shares a common religion and similar culture has backfired in the past, as may very well "happen again," what does that say about the chances a nation more than 6,000 miles away, which shares little more than an affinity for guns and Michael Jackson with those it occupies, can meddle in Iraq's affairs without that intervention likewise backfiring? Indeed, I can even imagine a scenario where U.S. intervention in Iraq only empowers those with close ties to Iran (I have a vivid imagination), or helps al-Qaeda recruit its next suicide bomber.

It's hard to say whether ignorance or arrogance carries more weight when Fred Hiatt chooses columnists for the Post editorial page, but rest assured possessing the ability to think critically about the American government and its actions abroad is a certain disqualification.

UPDATE: IOZ takes down the arguments, as it were, in Ignatius' column with his trademark, well-deserved invective and expert Big Lebowski references, rightly -- if a tad too kindly -- describing the piece as a "phoned-in hack job":
That having been said, it is impossible to repeat often enough the utter, fundamental, essential, intrinsic, inherent, unavoidable, inarguable, insane absurdity of lecturing a country for taking an active role in the politics of its neighbor and longtime rival when your own nation has invaded that rival, deposed its long-standing government, mandated a new constitution, fortified and occupied its capital city, garrisoned over 100,000 occupying troops, and committed itself to an "enduring" military presence to be measured in decades at least.


  1. Ironic that we rally to support the victims of a natural disaster in Haiti, but write off the man-made devastation we rendered in Iraq. I'm guessing the "beneficiaries" of regime change wouldn't mind if we texted 90999 "Iraq".

  2. And was it only 57 years ago that the US and Britain overthrew Iran's prime minister and installed the shah? Would Ignatius consider that "political meddling"?

  3. Andy,

    Applying the standards to the U.S. that it holds other nations to is to engage in a reckless game of moral equivalence that I just won't tolerate. As the great Jamie Kirchick has written, America has a "providential" role in the world, a God-given duty to intervene in the affairs of others.

    Now, you don't hate God and America, do you?