The Trouble With Handpicked Councils

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The White House is putting together a small group of privileged persons to fix a little problem that has Karl Rove in a pickle. George W. Bush will soon select the members of this group, no doubt with Dick Cheney close at hand, guiding his hand. The group will "compare intelligence findings about Iraq produced before the war with the absence of stockpiles of unconventional weapons found by American inspection teams on the ground."

News flash! We already know what happened and why. Some parts of the intelligence community (uh, that would be the top leadership) caved to the incredible political pressure created by some bull-headed politicos with a single well-formulated if nutty paradigm regarding Iraq as center of evil today, center of the American energy empire tomorrow. To the extent that the intelligence community resisted the paradigm, Chalabi’s perspective on the situation in Iraq was passed off as fact directly to the VP and the Presidents’ speechwriters. No harm injecting a little healthy competition, right? Team B and all that, you know.

The goal was to take Saddam out and put Ahmed Chalabi and company in. This little Iraq out-and-in operation was intended to be old news before the 2004 re-election campaign unfolded. It would be called, past tense, a liberation, Iraqi freedom, glorious democracy.

Iraq was to be a Bush-branded success, as well as a brand new frontier for the empire, and a nice little crutch for the ever-struggling dollar, petro and otherwise.

Hand picking councils to conduct sham jobs on the people seems to be an enduring mark of the beast known as the first Bush Junior administration.

We have all certainly enjoyed the delightful performance of the 9-11 Commission, the gyrations of the GAO inquiry into the Cheney-led energy policy task force, the never-ending rainbow of goofball decisions made by the Homeland Security monstrosity, the intrigue of who leaked the identity and occupation of Victoria Plame. With this for entertainment, who needs to watch the Super Bowl halftime show? I mean, ripping our entire Constitution is at least as significant as ripping half of a Victoria Secret’s brassiere.

Actually, given the respective news coverage and national awareness, maybe it isn’t.

Mr. Bush’s tendency to try to solve problems by enlisting his friends into even higher places is fine, but perhaps we can learn a thing or two about how to respond from our new friends, the Iraqis.

Iraqis recognize a handpicked council of stooges when they see it. They understand that the council the Bush Administration selected for them has the power to do only what the stooge-pickers want, and no power to resolve core issues important to the rest of the people.

Their reaction has been, unlike our national reactions to similar stooge operations out of Washington, somewhat effective. They have loudly exclaimed their dissatisfaction in the street, in their communities and in their media. Some have made sure that the United States stooges are unable to travel freely throughout the country, and that they are forced to maintain expensive private or military security. They have rallied to their own homegrown leadership, emerging from existing familial, ethnic or religious groups, or from the dynamic of community meritocracy that chaos fosters.

While the U.S. appointed and supported Iraqi Governing Council whines and rolls to please its master and keep the cash flowing, the big dogs of Iraq begin to growl and pace. The IGC periodically punishes legitimate but critical al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera media enterprises, simultaneously passing "laws" designed to show that they care about the Iraqi people and Iraqi tradition. A future in Baghdad after America grants "elections" and "sovereignty" must be worrisome for members of the IGC. Most will have to go back into exile, maybe forever.

The IGC is worried about their future. It is a sign of the quiet success of democracy in Iraq and a movement toward accountability in government. Like sunspots, eruptions of extreme violence are part and parcel to the continued existence of a nation, or two or three. Our own Thomas Jefferson remarked on this, in his reference to blood spilled periodically by patriots and tyrants.

Junior Bush, impatient to prove not only that he is not his father, but better than him too, would have us believe that he liberated Iraqis. But what Mr. Bush and the whole neoconservative/imperial foreign policy designers don’t understand is that the Iraqis will liberate themselves. They are doing it every single day.

There may yet be some good to come from this most recent example of illegal, costly and deadly preemptive war, drummed up by this administration through a series of lies to Congress and the people, in pursuit of an agenda never fully declared. Perhaps in taking back their country, Iraqis will show Americans how to do it here.

Karen Kwiatkowski [send her mail] is a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She now lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley, and writes a bi-weekly column on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for

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