David Ignatius said yesterday, in the latest Washington Post effort to buoy Iyad Allawi’s paid lobbying campaign to run Iraq again, that: “Future historians should record that the Bush administration actually lived by its pro-democracy rhetoric about a new Iraq — to the point that it scuttled a covert action program aimed at countering Iranian influence.”
And that’s why the great Allawi does not run Iraq today.
Except for one thing.
The Bush administration did not scuttle that covert action program to influence the 2004 Iraqi election.
According to The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh, Dubya simply replaced one covert program — which was under fire from Rep. Nancy Pelosi — with another that was “off the books.”
…I was told by past and present intelligence and military officials, the Bush Administration decided to override Pelosiâs objections and covertly intervene in the Iraqi election. A former national-security official told me that he had learned of the effort from âpeople who worked the beatâ?âthose involved in the operation. It was necessary, he added, âbecause they couldnât afford to have a disaster.â?
A Pentagon consultant who deals with the senior military leadership acknowledged that the American authorities in Iraq âdid an operationâ? to try to influence the results of the election. âThey had to,â? he said. âThey were trying to make a case that Allawi was popular, and he had no juice.â? A government consultant with close ties to the Pentagonâs civilian leaders said, âWe didnât want to take a chance.â?
I was informed by several former military and intelligence officials that the activities were kept, in part, âoff the booksâ?âthey were conducted by retired C.I.A. officers and other non-government personnel, and used funds that were not necessarily appropriated by Congress. Some in the White House and at the Pentagon believed that keeping an operation off the books eliminated the need to give a formal briefing to the relevant members of Congress and congressional intelligence committees, whose jurisdiction is limited, in their view, to officially sanctioned C.I.A. operations.
(More about Hersh & Ignatius from Needlenose.)
The conclusion of Hersh’s piece, voiced by a UN official, was that Bush still couldn’t get Allawi to win because pro-Iranian Shiites did a better job of rigging the election: “You are right that it was rigged, but you did not rig it well enough.â?
But Hersh also noted that: “The pro-Iranian Shiites did worse than anticipated, with forty-eight per cent of the voteâgiving them far less than the two-thirds of the assembly seats needed to form a government and thus control the writing of the constitution.”
That, in LiberalOasis’ view, is the more important result. The overarching objective by the Bushies was to create a weak central government that would be dependent on an occupying force to stay in power.
As written here back in Feb. 2006 (after another idiotic Ignatius column):
They set up a faux democratic system that would create a government where exiles with little grassroots support were installed and given a leg up before elections even took place.
It would prevent one faction from consolidating too much power, creating a need for coalitions.
Not to truly represent a diverse country, but to create a weak government dependent on a continued US presence, and therefore, vulnerable to continued US influence.
Allawi (one of the imported exiles) may have been their first choice, but he was not their only choice, and not critical to maintaining a grip on Iraq. (Hence, Bush’s continued support for the current Prime Minister Maliki.)
So Ignatius is flat wrong to besmirch democracy’s good name by blaming it for the disastrous occupation of Iraq (which he has backed from the beginning).
Iraq is not the only place where Bush’s distaste for democracy is showing this week.
In Pakistan, the public is chafing at Musharraf’s dictatorial rule.
But the Bush administration — looking to keep who it wants in power, instead of supporting the Pakistani people’s right to choose its leaders — is trying to facilitate a power-sharing deal to prevent Musharraf’s total ouster.
As the NY Times reports:
The power-sharing deal under negotiation would allow Ms. Bhutto to return from self-imposed exile and run for prime minister, and would allow General Musharraf to run for another term as president. The United States supports the deal as a way to keep an ally in the presidency and shore up his domestic support.
And the Washington Post:
An agreement between Musharraf and Bhutto would be welcomed in Washington, where Bush administration officials have been pushing for an alliance of moderates in Pakistan to battle rising forces of extremism.
Although the United States had not been actively involved in the negotiations, it had been prodding the two sides to come together and had helped to facilitate the talks, according to people familiar with the U.S. role.
So the Bushies are “facilitating” a deal that would short-circuit the democratic process, and potentially stall the momentum for democratic reform in Pakistan — with the Supreme Court repeatedly challenging Musharraf’s dictatorial claims.
A more moderate and stable Pakistan is possible, but not if we keep trying to impose our will on other countries.
Future historians should record that the Bush administration did absolutely nothing to promote credible democracy, and in turn, it’s colossal foreign policy failures had nothing to with support for democracy.