Chalabi Redux

Notice this snippet from Peter Bakers’s conventional wisdom recalibration in today’s WaPo:

In an interview last week, Perle said the administration’s big mistake was occupying the country rather than creating an interim Iraqi government led by a coalition of exile groups to take over after Hussein was toppled. “If I had known that the U.S. was going to essentially establish an occupation, then I’d say, ‘Let’s not do it,’ ” and instead find another way to target Hussein, Perle said. “It was a foolish thing to do.”

Arguing about Iraq often gets stuck on what exactly our original exit strategy was supposed to be. Rumsfeld clearly planned to get in and out rapidly, which can only mean that we intended to knock over the top tier of leadership and hand over the country to somebody. Who, exactly, is often the sticking point.

The top candidate was always Ahmad Chalabi. A serial fabricator, forger, convicted embezzler and the charismatic leader of a ragtag group of Iraqi exiles, Chalabi clearly owned the hearts and minds of neoconservatives. Now that we know the rest of his story (no support inside Iraq, a likely double agent for Iran) the appeal to incredulity fallacy seems so tempting that even I want to write off his candidacy on the grounds of a basic faith in humanity. Nobody can be that dumb, etc. Sadly one cannot deny that the Chalabi handover makes more sense than any other explanation for the Pentagon’s prewar behavior. Handing Iraq over to one of Saddam’s liutenants seems improbable in light of the dewy-eyed humanitarianism displayed by early war supporters. Saddam had killed off homegrown opposition leaders and Ali al-Sistani wasn’t offered the job (too close to Iran). The crown would pass to Chalabi, or…who?

Now we know. As much as it hurts to imagine such collossal stupidity at the top levels of our policy apparatus, the neocons,’ and by extension America’s postwar strategy really did amount to knocking over Saddam and replacing him with Ahmad Chalabi.






56 replies
  1. 1
    Ron Beasley says:

    I think this is right on. For what ever else he might be Chalabi is one hell of a hustler and Cheney and the cons were hustled. They hadn’t counted on Chalabi being as unpopular in Iraq as he was everywhere else. The key to their failure was Sistani who wanted no part of him and demanded the elections.

  2. 2
    Perry Como says:

    I think this clearly shows we need to bomb Iran.

  3. 3
    TenguPhule says:

    Proof that all presidential and vice presidential candidates need to take a simple test on the Art of War. If they fail it, they should immediately be executed.

    Pretty soon we’d either have a better quality of people in office or a lot less politicians. Either way, we win.

  4. 4
    ThymeZone says:

    Now we know. As much as it hurts to imagine such collossal stupidity at the top levels of our policy apparatus, the neocons,’ and by extension America’s postwar strategy really did amount to knocking over Saddam and replacing him with Ahmad Chalabi.

    I hate to sound … like me … but that’s exactly what I always thought they had intended to do. And, of course, the idea is followed with “What in the world were they thinking?”

    Well, now that we know for sure, can we please fire all those responsible for this madness?

  5. 5
    TenguPhule says:

    Well, now that we know for sure, can we please fire all those responsible out of a cannon into Iraq for this madness?

    Improved.

  6. 6
    jake says:

    Chalabi clearly owned the hearts and minds of neoconservatives.

    And as an added bonus both items are cheap and very small which makes for easy transport. Of course the neos loved the guy, he was one of them. A liar, talked a good game, full of himself (good luck telling the difference between this condition and being full of shit). Plus, his names would allow Bush to give him lots of swell nicknames that end with the ee sound. Can’t you just hear him: “You’re doin’ a heckuva job Hammie.” Gah.

    “If I had known that the U.S. was going to essentially establish an occupation, then I’d say, ‘Let’s not do it,’

    I guess this is better than “Everything’s fine! We’re making progress! Stay the course! Raaaawk!” but I’m still waiting for one of these navel gazers to say: “You know, I wish we hadn’t made up all of those fibs about WMD so we could invade Iraq.”

    Hearing members of the GOP leadership are pissed at Bush because he made them look bad (rather than because he is bad) makes me laugh deep contemptuous belly laughs. (Open letter to Arlen Spectre: Shut. Up.)

    The approriate response is: “Gee, we should have told this guy to take a hike years ago, let’s try to undo some of the damage” but what we get is more infantile more finger pointing and refusing to see what part they might have played in their reversal of fortunes. Welcome to the wonderful world of consequences lads. Hmmm. Maybe we should extend the TenguPhule solution to all members of Congress. They could run it like a game show “Answer or Die” and it would make the elections a lot more interesting.

  7. 7
    ThymeZone says:

    can we please fire all those responsible out of a cannon into Iraq for this madness?

    I like it. It goes along with my vision of Bush as Wile E. Coyote.

    We’d fire him out of the Acme Mission-Accomplished Cannon. He’d arc slowly down to impact into Al Anbar province.

  8. 8
    Pooh says:

    The NeoCons looked into Chalabi’s soul…faith based foreign policy, I love this game.

  9. 9
    chopper says:

    but you all forget, michael moore is fat.

    real fat. like, distractingly fat.

  10. 10
    Proud Liberal says:

    does MacBuckets comment here anymore? or perhaps Stormy? just wondering.

  11. 11
    p.lukasiak says:

    I forgot where i read it (maybe even here) but someone theorized that the reason that the Iraqi army was disbanded was to make a Chalabi takeover possible. While Saddam had his elite unites (Republican Guard, and a 12000 strong personal military “bodyguard”) that were Sunnis, the vast majority of the “regular” Iraqi Army was Shiite….

    and they were not about to sit back and allow a US puppet like Chalabi to run the country….hence the whole army (and not just the “Elite” Saddam supporting units) had to be decommissioned.

  12. 12
    Bruce Moomaw says:

    Stop smearing Wile E. Coyote. As Chuck Jones said, HIS strategies are usually very carefully thought out, SHOULD work, and always end up failing because of some wildly improbable contingency that no reasonable coyote or human could possibly have foreseen. He would be insulted beyond belief to be compared with Bush, Cheney and Rummy. The real fictional analog to them is the Three Stooges (or maybe, as I keep saying, Cornelius Fudge).

  13. 13
    pie says:

    If we ever have to change the Kazakh regime, I think we can rely on Borat as our chosen puppet administrator. He’s pretty popular over there, I hear, and he seems to know the local language(s) and customs pretty well.

  14. 14
    pie says:

    I’d also like to add that Iraq is no worse than East St. Louis.

  15. 15
    lard lad says:

    Surely Ahmad Chalabi must qualify as the greatest flim-flam man in the history of homo sapiens.

    Without even counting his financial shenanigans preceding 9/11, Chalabi managed to scam the White House and the Pentagon into a ruinous war, and the New York Times into beating the drum. (Admittedly, the first two were all but begging to be conned.) And the odds are pretty solid that he was carrying water for Iran all along.

    And the crowning irony is that the fucker is still riding high in Iraq, even if he didn’t get to head the government (probably the best piece of luck he ever had, actually). The White House can’t deal out the ass-whuppin’ Chalabi so richly deserves, lest they reveal themselves as dumber asses than they already have done for trusting the prick in the first place.

    And now the Gucci Guerrilla (as General Zinni disdainfully dubbed him) is happily berating Bush and the White House for the crappy job they did in transforming Iraq, carefully obscuring his own considerable role in the whole fuckup.

    Honestly, I’m surprised that Dick Cheney hasn’t commissioned some rogue U.S. soldier to take the bastard out.

  16. 16
    Perry Como says:

    Honestly, I’m surprised that Dick Cheney hasn’t commissioned some rogue U.S. soldier to take the bastard out.

    That would require finding a soldier that likes Cheney.

  17. 17
    TenguPhule says:

    Honestly, I’m surprised that Dick Cheney hasn’t commissioned some rogue U.S. soldier to take the bastard out.

    Probably because he’s worried somebody else already got the same idea for him.

  18. 18

    does MacBuckets comment here anymore? or perhaps Stormy? just wondering.

    I recommend buying stock in Smirnoff.

  19. 19

    Woman tries to poison Supreme Court

    I wonder if she’s also a frequent poster to free republic?

  20. 20
    Redhand says:

    Ahmad Chalabi must qualify as the greatest flim-flam man in the history of homo sapiens

    Well, I think that’s right, but I don’t think the Bushies pinned all their hopes on him. I don’t think they had any real idea what “the plan” was after Bagdad. “We will be greeted as liberators” was as far as they probably got. Democracy would follow “naturally,” as in “Freedom is on the march.”

    This whole, grotesque disaster was like conquering Nazi Germany without any plan for the occupation and postwar reconstruction. The Administration’s incompetence and stupidity is without parallel in American history.

    Have we ever gone to war before with such ill-defined goals and lack of forethought? In Vietnam we were sucked in by a Korea “containing communism” model and domino theory fantasies. This was even more idiotic, like a domino theory in reverse. If we set up one democracy, others throughout the region would rise up like dominos defying gravity.

    How long will it take us to come up with a coherent foreign policy after this? I’m thinking years.

  21. 21
    Anderson says:

    N.b. that, had Chalabi been installed, we would’ve had to stick around to protect him (and things would have gone the way they have), or we would’ve gotten out of Dodge and Chalabi would’ve been assassinated shortly thereafter (and things would’ve gone to hell, like they have).

    Invading Iraq was like driving over a cliff. The way Bush did it, we hit the accelerator and weren’t wearing a safety belt … but it’s hard to argue that those errors ruined the whole driving-over-a-cliff project.

  22. 22
    Tulkinghorn says:

    But weren’t all these neocons accusing me of being a racist when I doubted the Iraqis were ready to have elections Democracy imposed on them?

    So I was a racist because I agreed with the Neocons that a strongman figure was the only practicable alternative to partition?

    Well, I guess it took one to know one.

  23. 23
    Jackmormon says:

    I’m irrationally fond of Ahmad Chalabi, in that I’ve-hated-him-so-bad-I’ve-come-around-to-liking-him kind of way. For one thing, who would’ve thought that the guy would have survived the past few years in Iraq? And he keeps turning up in the most unexpected–and profitable–places. Where will he manage to jump to next?

  24. 24
    Tim F. says:

    Where will he manage to jump to next?

    Katherine Harris’s district should be up for grabs in 2008…

  25. 25
    ThymeZone says:

    does MacBuckets comment here anymore

    The whole “we won, get over it” crowd is in mourning at the present time.

    As soon as the Baker Ass-Savin’ Jackalope Study is complete, and we have a new plan for victory in Iraq, they’ll be back in force.

  26. 26
    Perry Como says:

    As soon as the Baker Ass-Savin’ Jackalope Study is complete, and we have a new plan for victory in Iraqsaving the Bush family name, they’ll be back in force.

    Fixed that for you.

  27. 27
  28. 28

    You know, I seem to remember something about WMDs as the “why for” we went stumbling into Iraq. Now assuming they actually believed that shit, the idea of a plan for quick exit evaporates. It takes time to find those well hidden WMDs, it takes time to assure you’ve got them all, and it takes time to dispose of them and the facilities. I’m pretty sure they weren’t thinking about 3 years and counting, but no quick exit, either.

    The Chalibi stuff I don’t have strong doubts about. Their stupidity and incompetence is only exceeded by the size of their egos.

  29. 29
    TenguPhule says:

    As soon as the Baker Ass-Savin’ Jackalope Study is complete, and we have a new plan for saving the Bush family name by blaming Democrats, they’ll be back in force.

    Might as well have the complete truth out now.

  30. 30
    Tsulagi says:

    Never understood Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s infatuation with Chalabi. The guy just personifies slime and sleaze. Didn’t matter that CIA, FBI, State Dept., and intelligence agencies in Great Britain and elsewhere thought he was trash. Cheney and Chalabi had a mutual fluffing relationship together that transcended all that.

    When asked, Bush assured Colin Powell and Blair Chalabi wouldn’t be installed. But before we reached Baghdad, Chalabi was flown in on a U.S. plane escorted by U.S. special ops forces. Much like Karzai into AF before the Taliban were forced out of Kabul. Also flying in on U.S. planes was over 600 of Chalabi’s INC 5-star hotel “freedom fighters” who were issued U.S. uniforms. Who knows, maybe acting president Cheney didn’t feel the need to brief dipshit on details like those. The Diciderator wouldn’t have lied to Powell and Blair, right?

    Before Baghdad fell, Chalabi’s INC people first took over government offices in the southern city of Amarah, but the British weren’t having any of it. They told them to leave within an hour or be considered hostile. Then Chalabi and his “freedom battalion” went to Nasiriyah which was under our control. Seemed like Chalabi was trying to start up a shadow government.

    Chalabi probably thought Baghdad might take a little while to fall, but when it did, we would simply give him the keys to the country after any residual untidiness. He’d be the new corrupt Saddam. Then the U.S. guys would take off for new freedomizing, democratizing adventures with Syria likely next. All would be good. Seemed like a plan for the deep thinking we’ll-be-welcomed-as-liberators military geniuses like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, and the rest of the PNAC choir boys.

    They’ve done a heckuva job in Iraq and more areas. Vote Republican for national security? Only for the lobotomized.

  31. 31
    pie says:

    Without even counting his financial shenanigans preceding 9/11, Chalabi managed to scam the White House and the Pentagon into a ruinous war, and the New York Times into beating the drum. (Admittedly, the first two were all but begging to be conned.)

    Don’t short change Judy Miller. She lapped up the Laurie Mylroie “Saddam is the source of all evil in the world” conspiracy theory tripe right alongside Wolfowitz and the rest of the neocon artists.

  32. 32
    Sifu Tweety says:

    The high-water mark in the emerging genre of “it would have been totally fine if we just handed shit over to Dictator Chalabi” fiction has to have come from the man himself in his New Yorker profile; as he lounged in his London flat, reclining on his DEGREE from MIT he couldn’t have been more solicitous, and disappointed, in the American nitwits who didn’t MAKE HIM DICTATOR FOREVER (did I mention he has a DEGREE FROM MIT?).

    What’s even funnier is that probably, what with everything that’s gone on, when he says there would have been less violence had he immediately been pronounced dictator for life – and that pronouncement was backed up by force – he’s probably right! At least in the short term, until he was overthrown by a &c. &c. we’ve all seen this movie a million times.

    Holy crap, I’M COMMENTING ON BALLOON JUICE! IS THIS WORLD INSANE? FINALLY INSANE? NOOOOOOOO

    COLE’S A DOUCHE COLE’S A DOUCHE COLE’S A….

    eh. The magic’s gone. Stupid GOP.

  33. 33
    jake says:

    You know, I seem to remember something about WMDs as the “why for” we went stumbling into Iraq.

    Funny how you don’t hear about the big huge nuclear tipped anthrax ICBMs any more. The last quasi-definitive word I heard was Saddam might have snuck them into Syria. How he might do this under the watchful gaze of all the spy sattelites pointed at the region I don’t know. A cynical person might wonder if the Admin. was looking for a reason to go into Syria once it was finished liberating Iraq. Of its oil.
    I suspect there will be hearings on this matter in 2007 at which time the Bush Admin. will, with great reluctance,
    blame Clinton.

  34. 34
    Zifnab says:

    What’s even funnier is that probably, what with everything that’s gone on, when he says there would have been less violence had he immediately been pronounced dictator for life – and that pronouncement was backed up by force – he’s probably right!

    Then we could have gone back to selling Iraq WMDs with a clean conscience. Maybe encourage them to strike up another war with Iran. It’d be 1980 all over again! Reagen would be masturbating in his grave.

  35. 35
    Mr Furious says:

    Two things…

    One. How anybody could look at that guy and trust him is absolutely beyond me. The guy is right out od central casting for international scumbag. He’s like the penguin meets the bad guy from the French Connection…

    Two. If there is anybody on the planet that deserves a hail of gunfire as he steps out of his car it’s that piece of shit. Seriously. Despite my reputation, I don’t wish that kind of thing on just anybody. He was willing to play with the lives of tens of thousands for his own gain. Fuck him. I cannot wait for the day he goes down.

  36. 36
    Mr Furious says:

    Three. POTD. Nice job today, Tsulagi.

  37. 37
    Barry says:

    “Handing Iraq over to one of Saddam’s liutenants seems improbable in light of the dewy-eyed humanitarianism displayed by early war supporters.”

    Remember that we’ve seen lots of talk about humanitarian reasons, but precious little walk. These guys advocated for an invasion of a major oil producer; at that point any offer of a humanitarian reason should have been subject to the obvious skepticism.

    In Jan-Feb 03, when I realized that the Bush administration was going into Iraq with a small force, I figured that it had to be the case that they had some of Saddam’s generals lined up. They’d knock off the head and whomever was willing to die alongside Saddam, and then install the ‘New Democratic Iraqi Army’. Any publishing of photo’s of those generals in their old Saddam-era uniforms, perhaps gleefully killing people on Saddam’s orders would, of course, be Hating America, and Helping Terror.

    But it turns out that they were actually so stupid as to not even be commiting the standard evil and deceipt.

  38. 38
    p.lukasiak says:

    But it turns out that they were actually so stupid as to not even be commiting the standard evil and deceipt.

    much of what has happened since the invasion was based on poor intelligence about how Saddam would fight the invasion. We were told that there would be little resistance in the south (that was wrong) and that Saddam would hole up in Baghdad, and we would have to lay siege to the city and take it over block by block. (Wrong again — but this aspect of the strategy was the basis for the left’s predictions of a humanitarian disaster, as the people of Baghad were starved to death or slaughtered in gun battles.)

    Instead, Saddam sent troops down south to resist the invasion long enough to put the elements of an insurgency in place outside of Baghdad, then abandoned the city. The military had not planned on administering Baghdad within a few weeks of the invasion — and the post-invasion chaos and looting of Baghdad was the result.

  39. 39
    grumpy realist says:

    There was a comment somewhere about Chalabi having taken the neo-cons like a Las Vegas two-bit whore, with the neocons waking up the next morning with their pants around their ankles, an aching head, and a totally empty wallet.

    Look, we’re not dealing with geniuses here. For all their supposed brainpower, note that none of the neocons have ever had to, y’know, actually work for a living. Think-tank welfare all the way. Ditto for Bush, who’s been a total screw-up in any business venture he’s set his hand to. And all of them were running around with their tongues hanging out just panting to be rolled up and conned. Due diligence? Who, us?

    There’s something about idealism that seems to short-circuit brain-power, especialy if you run around thinking that screaming enough propoganda will in fact, change reality. For all of Bush’s claiming to have been a history major, I have to wonder if he ever actually cracked open a book because most historians in my experience are the most cynical bastards you’ll ever meet. (Well, unless they’re Marxists. Then they’re just loopy.)

  40. 40
    Jay says:

    Another thought on WMD, wasn’t the main source of “information” on Saddam’s weapon program also a con artist of the first degree?

    A pattern emerges: Neo-cons love a good con. Gosh, I feel so safe knowing the proverbial suckers are running the country.

  41. 41
    Pb says:

    The Other Steve,

    Of course, because Free Republic has no evidence that she isn’t a Democrat… she must be a Democrat! Of course, this completely misses the point of the story–as far as I can tell, her motive wasn’t to kill the Supreme Court (she included notes that told them it was poisoned?!), but rather to get back at the people she put down as the return addresses. Compare to Castagana, whose motive was to terrorize the recipient. Also, The Smoking Gun has more–including the fact that she’s already spent much of the past 20 years in prison.

  42. 42

    Of course, because Free Republic has no evidence that she isn’t a Democrat… she must be a Democrat!

    Interesting. The first few messages are basically contemplating who they would get Bush to nominate if all the justices were to die.

  43. 43
    Pb says:

    Hahah, this guy reminds me of Darrell Hammond impersonating Bill O’Reilly on SNL:

    A pun that doesn’t even make sense: nothing in the article remotely suggests that any of the items were “half-baked”.

  44. 44
    Wolfdaughter says:

    Back to Chalabi. What I’m about to say hasn’t so far been mentioned today, and I’ve rarely seen it mentioned elsewhere as well.

    Chalabi had been exiled from Iraq, and hadn’t been there since 1956 or 1958! That alone would make him an extremely unreliable resource on Iraq today, or in 2002 or 2003, and should have meant that no one paid any attention to what he was saying about how things would go down in Iraq. DUH!!!

  45. 45
    pie says:

    If there is anybody on the planet that deserves a hail of gunfire as he steps out of his car it’s that piece of shit. Seriously. Despite my reputation, I don’t wish that kind of thing on just anybody. He was willing to play with the lives of tens of thousands for his own gain.

    Well, it was probably all for Iran’s benefit anyway. I mean, as well as Chalabi’s.

    Actually, when you think about it it’s kinda funny that we’ve been doing Iran’s bidding for the last 4 years. Funny, if you don’t care about all the dead people.

  46. 46
    chefrad says:

    Macbuckets has formed a think tanklet with Ken “Cakewalk” Adelman, while Stormy is holed up in a warren on Elba.

  47. 47
    mike says:

    A guy named ‘al bakr’, a major secular shia politician was killed pretty early on by one of zarqawi’s mosque bombings, just saying FWIW.

    Who knows though, maybe he would’ve been equally ineffective.

  48. 48
    Rome Again says:

    Now we know. As much as it hurts to imagine such collossal stupidity at the top levels of our policy apparatus, the neocons,’ and by extension America’s postwar strategy really did amount to knocking over Saddam and replacing him with Ahmad Chalabi.

    Hey, when someone is desperate, they take help from the first schmuck who comes along. There are at least a few people in this administration who were arguing for Saddam’s ouster long before 9/11 (Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfailed).

  49. 49
    Rome Again says:

    How anybody could look at that guy and trust him is absolutely beyond me. The guy is right out od central casting for international scumbag. He’s like the penguin meets the bad guy from the French Connection…

    You noticed that too, eh? Hmm, I’m just some dumbshit housewife with “some college” and I noticed this right off, what is wrong with this picture?

  50. 50
    Rome Again says:

    How anybody could look at that guy and trust him is absolutely beyond me. The guy is right out od central casting for international scumbag. He’s like the penguin meets the bad guy from the French Connection…

    You noticed that too, eh? Hmm, I’m just some dumbshit housewife with “some college” and I noticed this right off, what is wrong with this picture?

  51. 51
    Rome Again says:

    Sorry for the double posting, I hiccuped while my hand was still on the mouse. Oops!

  52. 52
    bernarda says:

    Richard Perle is an Israeli agent and spy.

    Both Seymour Hersh in his biography of Henry Kissinger said so in 1980 and Congressman Paul Finley repeated it in his book “They Dare to Speak Out”. As far as I know, Perle hasn’t sued either of them.

  53. 53
    scs says:

    Hey if the Left didn’t seem to have much of a problem with Saddam, then why the sudden hand-wringing over Chalabi? He may have been a swindler, but at least he may have been an effective swindler, and at least not a mass murderer. You wanted a plan and a quick exit right? Beggars can’t be choosers.

  54. 54
    TenguPhule says:

    Scs says: He may have been a swindler, but at least he may have been an effective swindler, and at least not a mass murderer.You wanted a plan and a quick exit right? Beggars can’t be choosers.

    And once again Scs demonstrates why her mouth should only be opened to receive a Marine’s dick in it.

  55. 55
    scs says:

    And once again Scs demonstrates why her mouth should only be opened to receive a Marine’s dick in it.

    John????

  56. 56

    […] That leaves…who? Feith thinks that we should have knocked over Saddam and left, which agrees with most reports of what the neocons had in mind, but Feith only vaguely references some unnamed “external leaders.” Why not name them? There weren’t that many exile groups working with us at the time. Gary Makiya didn’t want to job. Richard Perle underlined the point in 2006: […]

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  1. […] That leaves…who? Feith thinks that we should have knocked over Saddam and left, which agrees with most reports of what the neocons had in mind, but Feith only vaguely references some unnamed “external leaders.” Why not name them? There weren’t that many exile groups working with us at the time. Gary Makiya didn’t want to job. Richard Perle underlined the point in 2006: […]

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