Thursday, May 20, 2004

Whither Chalabi?

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz explains that the decision to cut-off Ahmed Chalabi’s monthly $340,000 stipend “was made in light of the process of transferring sovereignty to the Iraqi people.” Wolfowitz testified to a U.S. Senate committee that in light of the impending June 30th transfer of sovereignty (itself a fraud) continued funding to Chalabi would have been "inappropriate."

Inappropriate indeed. This may be as close to truth as Wolfowitz ever gets. In addition to being a war criminal, he is a monumental liar, a man whose pronouncements can generally be relied upon to be antipodal to the truth. Even where a Wolfowitz utterance unexpectedly lurches in the direction of the truth, it is merely a feint, a stratagem to clothe a latent lie in a veneer of truth.

Wolfowitz’s Senate testimony suggested that the “inappropriateness” of continued funding derived from the potential that overt U.S. favoritism toward Chalabi might undermine the legitimacy of the June 30th transfer. But the truncation of Chalabi’s nifty allowance has nothing to do with concerns regarding the perceived legitimacy of June 30th turnover. Chalabi has received his monthly stipend, courtesy of Uncle Sam, for the duration of our occupation of Iraq, from the formation of the Iraq Governing Council, through the failed U.S efforts to craft an Iraqi puppet government, through Brahimi’s efforts to broker a carefully calibrated coalition of Iraqi factions to take the reigns on June 30th. The damage done to these efforts by the neocon Chalabi fetish long predated the decision to rescind the faustian bargain with Chalabi and his personal fiefdom, the grandiloquently monikered Iraqi National Congress. And so we find ourselves six weeks from the June 30th relay, and we’re holding the baton without so much as another runner on the track.

Where is the neocon’s Plan B? Where is the fallback position held in abeyance for the contingency of a Chalabi meltdown? There was none, for reasons I’ll get to later today. And that absence of any lifeboats on the listing USS Chalabi reveals the neocon grand design in Iraq for what it is and always has been: a criminally reckless gamble of American lives, treasure and reputation on a million-to-one longshot. Tens of thousands of lives, coalition and Iraqi, were foolishly wagered and this nag broke down barely out of the gates.


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