Thursday, June 09, 2005

Our Man in Iraq (was: "Our Man in Afghanistan")

Well, with John Negroponte going on to bigger and better things, the White House is putting another neoconservative in our embassy in Baghdad: Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been our ambassador in Iraq. As Robert Dreyfuss reports on,

It's hard to imagine anyone worse than Khalilzad for the Baghdad job. Like one of Alexander the Great's proconsuls, Khalilzad neatly steps into one U.S.-occupied neocolony, Iraq, from another, Afghanistan. Khalilzad, born in Afghanistan, has been deeply involved in U.S.-Afghan policy for more than two decades. He is arguably as much to blame as anyone for the catastrophic mistakes that led first to that country's civil war, then to the rise of the Taliban, and finally to the Afghanistan of 2005: a warlord-dominated narco-state, in which heroin and opium provide fully half of the gross domestic product, and in which a thriving, Taliban-led Islamic fundamentalist insurgency is recently showing signs of emerging, once again, as a mortal threat to a tottering regime in Kabul. Zalmay Khalilzad, it seems, is getting out just in time.

Frying pan, meet fire:
The United States has only two exit strategies in Iraq: The first is simply to declare victory and get out, and the second is to scrap the current puppet regime, make a deal with the resistance and the Sunni insurgency, and internationalize the oversight of the new government in Baghdad. Khalilzad, of course, will support neither one: he is part and parcel of the failed policy of trying to keep the lid on a growing resistance movement with an occupation army that is not up to the task, and of backing the tenuous, ever more fractious alliance of Shiite religious parties and Kurdish warlords that now purports to control the country. The civil war that looms-whether it is triggered by a Kurdish grab for Kirkuk and Iraq's northern oil fields, or by a Shiite demand for more Islamization of the country, or any one of several other flashpoints-will happen on Khalilzad's watch. The seven-point plan for Iraq that Khalilzad alluded to at his confirmation hearings gave not a hint of fresh thinking.