Wanted: Chalabi

Ok, this is getting insane. One month before we transfer Iraq over to the Governing Council, we’re raiding the offices of one of it’s members. Not just a random council member, either, but rather the golden boy, the President in Exile, Ahmed Chalabi. This is insane. We’ve cut off payments to his group, the Iraqi National Congress, and we’re arresting his men.

Bremer and the CPA are starting to look like chickens without heads. Reminds me of Faisal, the ex-con from Baghdad that the Brits installed as King of “Iraq” in 1920. Basically he sweet-talked the British Foreign Office (including guys like T.E. Lawrence, yes, that Lawrence of Arabia) into making him King, promising all sorts of Arab support that never materialized. 38 years later, his son, Faisal II, was overthrown in a coup that brought Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party to power.

Contractors

This month’s issue of Harper’s has a collection of postings from TacticalJobs.com. Check out the classifieds if you have time. These guys who go tear-assing around Iraq in armor-plated Suburbans and wrap-around sunglasses at $12,000/month are a problem. The Iraqis have no use for them, and neither do the enlisted men and women.

I want to know how all this privatization of the military is saving the government any money whatsoever. Because it’s certainly not helping the people of Iraq or the morale of our troops, who earn in a year what these guys make in a month.

Internet Groceries

Those of you who listened to the show on Monday remember our discussion of the rise and fall of Internet grocery stores. Apparently they’re making a comeback.

Guess you can’t keep a good idea down. It’s interesting — we’re starting to see all the excess capacity and knowledge that was built up during the tech boom and then ripped down actually being put to use. You see this in Fiber Optics, for example, where so much bandwidth was added in the late 90s, much of which sits idle. Someone will put it to use.

More Hypocrisy

I’m watching Nightline tonight and there’s a story on John Kerry, Catholicism, Abortion, and Communion. For those who haven’t been following, see my previous post. A Colorado Bishop is being interviewed by Nightline because he’s going to stop administering the sacrament of Holy Communion to parishoners who disagree with him politically. Ok, fine, be that way. But when asked whether he would do the same for parishoners who believe in the death penalty, Bishop Sheridan argues, with a straight face, that the Church doesn’t explicitly forbid the death penalty. There he is, in his office, sitting under a Crucifix, which, for those of you who haven’t been tuned in to human history in the past 2,000 years, is the most potent and well-recognized example of the death penalty being misapplied, arguing that a church founded by a man who was wrongly executed isn’t opposed to the death penalty.

What happened to forgiveness, Bishop Sheridan?

Foresight

I was listening to Weekday on my way in this morning, and I listened to James Lilley, a former Ambassador to China and old CIA hack. Fascinating to listen to him tell stories of detaining and interrogating the Pathet Lao in ’68, etc…

There was one point where Steve Scher, the host, asked him what he thought of Iraq. He said he had great faith in the war planners, that he’d worked with Wolfowitz in the 80s in East Asia to great success, he thought Rumsfeld was top notch, etc. But he also said he had two great reservations going in. At that point I expected him to say something about troop strength or internationalizing the coalition, but he didn’t. Instead he gave these two reservations, both of which clearly betrayed his CIA training: One, he said, the borders in Iraq were too porous, which was the same problem he’d experienced in Vietnam (and which is a big reason why Korea succeeded and Vietnam didn’t). And two, there was an endless base of support for the enemy. In Vietnam it was the Chinese, and in Iraq, it’s the endless supply of jihadists from around the area.

Smart. His book, coauthored with his son, is called China Hands: Nine Decades of Adventure, Espionage, and Diplomacy in Asia. Probably worth a read.