Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 18, 2006

WB: Looking for a Dictator


There's only one man in Iraq I can think who would possibly pull something like that off -- and his name isn't Ahmed Chalabi. However, considering how badly the country has fragmented over the past three years, even Saddam might not want his old job back. I don't think he could stomach the blood.

That the strongman scenario is even showing up in the media chatter is, I suppose, a sign of how desperate the realists are to find a way out of the swamp -- one that doesn't involve a choice between turning Iraq over to the Iranians or going to war with them.

Looking for a Dictator

Posted by b on September 18, 2006 at 4:55 UTC | Permalink


hmm strange murmerings from anna missed's link also

Posted by: annie | Sep 18 2006 5:04 utc | 1

It's going to be Mr. Cellophane. He already is on the CIA payroll, has his own secret army and good connections to Sistani.

Posted by: b | Sep 18 2006 5:05 utc | 2

My comment from a few months ago remains. It'll be a hit. Trust me!

Posted by: Rowan | Sep 18 2006 5:30 utc | 3

Cheney is still hoping for Saddam's old job, once his sockpuppet gets turfed out of the Oval Office. It would be one more violation of the Geneva Convention, though, which is among the many reasons those kleptocrats are trying to gut it while they're still in charge.

Posted by: Anne Laurie | Sep 18 2006 5:32 utc | 4

kudos rowan

Posted by: annie | Sep 18 2006 6:13 utc | 5

"This is the second time I've seen this idea openly floated in the major media (the first was in the New York Times several months ago; I can't find the link)."

Not so long ago, and couched in vaguer terms, but is this the NYT reference you're thinking of? From p. 1 of the August 17, 2006 edition, by Michael Gordon, Mark Mazzetti, and Thom Shanker, link

"'Senior administration officials have acknowledged to me that they are considering alternatives other than democracy,' said one military affairs expert who received an Iraq briefing at the White House last month and agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity."

I blogged about it here

Posted by: Jean | Sep 18 2006 6:55 utc | 6

Pardon me, but wasn't Saddam a "traditional Middle East strongman"?

Posted by: ralphieboy | Sep 18 2006 7:00 utc | 7

There's a such a big catch-22 here that eventually even rummy n the great white hunter will have to acknowledge it.

That is anyone who is judged 'suitable' by amerika, is by definition unsuitable to Iraqis. The sooner amerikan media along with their incompetent government accept this, the sooner it will be that Iraq moves back towards stability.

Who knows what shape or content that government will be? That is a matter for Iraq and it's institutions to determine and is no one else's goddamned business. The only thing we can be sure of is that the illegal invasion preceded by the unspoken war which ran for a decade beforehand put the process of devolution of power and resolution of the class struggle which the west wrongly considered to be a sectarian dispute back by at least 50 years.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Sep 18 2006 7:20 utc | 8

Alas, if only they could only get Mugtada al-Sadr on their side, he is after all nationalistic, works well with the disaffected Sunni's, has snowballed in popularity, and is by many accounts the Shiite leader least beholden to the Iranians. To bad he's also hell bent on seeing the US didi mau like yesterday.

Through the prism of terrorism, what happens in Iraq is on the micro level to what happens internationally on the macro level -- the flare up of sectarian terrorism in Iraq is in direct reference to Iraqi politicians relationship to the occupation. An inverse reaction to the divide and conquer tactic, whereby complicity to the U.S.'s long term interests (securing long term oil/economic production rights) ellicit political resistance, in the guise of sectarian interests. Recent voices from the Sunni community in support of the occupation are indicitive of the U.S. bottom line of playing both sides of this protection racket, in which increased sectarian strife is a symptom of betrayal, more so than historic anamosity. The viscious cycle then, is put into motion to generate and amplify the threat (of terrorism) as both a hedge against consolidation of power by any one group, and, to use as the excuse for remaining in the country -- if and until the desired "interests" are finally realized.>Cutler, is right to remind us that the historic (right arabists) relationship with Saudi Arabia, decidedly, the U.S. Arabian American oil co. (that controled 70% Saudi production, aka Rockefeller group) that was nationalized by the Saudi's in 1980, gave initial credence for the right zionist claim of the Saudi's selling out American interests. Claims givin special attention post 911, and the eventual un-basing of U.S. military assets from that country. All this (and after being expelled from Iran) left the U.S. with too little pot to piss in, or, a substantial platform to base its military and to put an end to all this "nationalism" stuff. Iraq then of course, looked like low hanging fruit, weak after sanctions, easy to demonize, and with just a shit load of oil under a rusting and broken infrastructure, just waiting for (american/british) history to repeat itself. And the neo-cons had a plan! That seemed a suckers sale both as retaliation for 911, showing off of imperial might in the feel good tradition of "spreading democracy", all in support of what had been lost; major military bases on of top all that oil.

Now givin that this was probably the stupidist gambit that any administration has ever fallen for, coupled with the most corrupt and incompetent execution, ever -- the prize was just to big to deny, so its still within their capacity to shift back to the realists and pull one more decomposed rabbit out of the hat and call it a government of "national salvation". The track record, at this point almost demands it.

Posted by: anna missed | Sep 18 2006 9:38 utc | 9

The perfect man for the job? Ariel Sharon. And he'd love to do it, too. They could even bring back that blue and white Iraqi flag. Too bad the bastard's brain-dead. Then again, that hasn't stopped Bush.

Posted by: mats | Sep 18 2006 13:41 utc | 10

". . . considering how badly the country has fragmented over the past three years, even Saddam might not want his old job back. I don't think he could stomach the blood."

Well said. When I saw the news story referring to a "strongman," I thought I was reading something from the Stephen Colbert show. I just don't think the Beltway Media appreciates the Orwellian irony of all this. If so many lives and so much money weren't being wasted, it would almost be funny.

Posted by: phil from new york | Sep 18 2006 14:50 utc | 11

"Having failed to find WMD's or terrorist links, we decided that the reason we invaded your country after all was to install democracy. Having decided that democracy would not work the way we want them to, we are installing a dictator to run things until you get your act together."

What a clear & concise message to send to the world about US foreign policy ambitions. How about installing the successor to ex-Shah of Iran?

Posted by: ralphieboy | Sep 18 2006 17:10 utc | 12

What a clear & concise message to send to the world about US foreign policy ambitions. How about installing the successor to ex-Shah of Iran?

Hey, I'm working on it. But you gotta give me some time.

Posted by: Rumsfeld | Sep 18 2006 18:34 utc | 13

@anna missed The primary reason Mockie is so popular is that the USuk forces loathe him, as soon as he became tolerable to USuk he would be intolerable to Iraqis.

He knows this and is not going to blow his constituency for fair weather friends like amerika.

The sooner that amerikan diplomats understand this the better. The most they can hope for is to pull out leaving a few fishooks around the place for the next Iraqi leader to be snagged on and drawn in after they have gone.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Sep 18 2006 20:29 utc | 14

You're right Debs, and the reason "they" loathe him is because he's not only the icon of popular support (against occupation) behind the Maliki government, but without him, Maliki's government would fall -- so essentially they're stuck with him -- and it drives the U.S. fucking crazy. I'm sure khalilizad and company view him as the paramount obstacle to the mollification of the Iraqi parliment into a long term U.S. presence.

As far as the coup scenario, it would probably begin with Sadr being neutralized, the government collapsing, and the insuing chaos being met with a government of national "salvation".

Posted by: anna missed | Sep 18 2006 21:10 utc | 15

I also surmize that the recent and more radicslized splinters of the Sadr trend have been allowed to develope (by Sadr himself) as in effect an insurance policy against such a move against him. Saying in effect, you kill me, you inherit a more verulent version.

Posted by: anna missed | Sep 18 2006 21:25 utc | 16

Todays entries in "Iraqi Coup Watch":

From James A. "the muscle" Bakers>little Iraq Study Goup:

"The Iraqi government must act," said Lee H. Hamilton, co-chair of the independent, bipartisan Iraq Study Group. "The government of Iraq needs to show its own citizens soon - and the citizens of the United States - that it is deserving of continued support."

Hamilton and his co-chair, former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, said Baghdad's government needs to secure a capital reeling in sectarian violence, make progress on national reconciliation, and provide electricity, water, and other services that Iraqis need.

From>Ed Wong & the NYT:

But diplomats who deal with the Bush administration on Iraq issues, and recently departed officials who stay in contact with their colleagues in the government, say the president’s top advisers have a far more pessimistic view.

“The thing you hear the most is that he never makes any decisions,” said a former senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss internal deliberations. “And that drives Bush crazy. He doesn’t take well to anyone who talks about getting something accomplished and then refuses to take the first step.”

While the United States has military might and political influence, it must rely on the Iraqi government to reach out to the country’s political and religious leaders. Trying to placate everyone has kept Mr. Maliki from being able to offer amnesty to Sunni insurgents or forcefully disarm Shiite militias, officials say.

The main Shiite bloc itself is deeply divided, depriving the prime minister of crucial support. So he relies on Moktada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric who commands the powerful militia called the Mahdi Army, for political backing. The militia has been blamed by many Sunni Arabs for sectarian killings.

To ensure that the minority Sunni Arabs remain involved in the government, Mr. Maliki finds himself compromising on issues like cabinet appointments with conservative Sunni parties that have occasional contact with nationalist guerrillas.

“I think he has said good things, but in practice there has been no change,” said Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurdish legislator. “The security situation is deteriorating and violence is getting worse. He has done nothing against militias. At the same time, the reconciliation dialogue is not moving forward. It doesn’t look good, the prospects for the government.

“I thought he’d be stronger, but he looks weak,” Mr. Othman said. “He feels frustrated because nobody’s cooperating with him.”

Posted by: anna missed | Sep 20 2006 7:57 utc | 17

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