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16 April 2009

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William R. Cumming

I forgot to add that strict enforcement of the Foreign Agents Lobbying Act by DOJ would be nice to see. That statute probably needs substantial revision because most Americans have no idea of how deeply penetrated the US Government both Congress and the Executive Branch is by foreign agents. Former head of Counter-Intel Micelle Van Cleve now at NDU had a nice op-ed piece on that issue recently in WAPO. Why gets me is that foreign citizens actually serve on Congressional staff.

Arun

I think that Bush & Co seized on Chalabi as a convenient booster for what they wanted to do anyway.

Patrick Lang

Jon

Why do you believe that an Iranian attempt to "steer" American policy would be able to determine exactly what the outcome would be? The neocon/Chalabi "plan" was that the destruction of the Saddamist government would be quickly followed by a withdrawal from Iraq that left the government in the hands of the Chalabi/INC crowd. To that end Chalabi was quickly sent into Iraq by the neocon dominated Rumsfeld DoD with 700 odd "Iraqi Freedom Fighters" who on close inspection on the ground by the US Army proved to be overwhelmoingly Iranian, many of them veterans and/or members of the Quds force battalions of the Iranian armed forces.

Resistance within the US government to the idea of turning the government over to Chalabi/INC people thwarted that plan. The neocons still complain about that, claiming that all would have been well if only... pl

Babak Makkinejad

jon:

Thank you for correcting me about the lineage of Mr. Faith. I had confused him with Mr. Frum.

David Habakkuk:

In regards to Najaf - its authority as a center of Shia learning had already been surpassed by Qum after WWII.

Patrick Lang

Babak

I am beginning to see you in a new light. I find it to be incredible that a man of your learning should confuse mere techological advancement in a society with sophistication of thought and subtlety. pl

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

'Iran entered the 20-th century with ploughs and donkeys and entered the 21-century manipulating a super-power into eliminating it greatest historical enemy. Surely, you cannot be serious'.

Your argument is so transparently -- and uncharacteristically -- bad that I suspect it is you who are not being serious.

Quite patently, political acumen -- particularly of the Machiavellian kind -- has nothing whatsoever to do with technological sophistication. This incidentally was something of which the great literary chronicler of the British in India, Kipling, was very well aware. The British, in his writings, are commonly portrayed as being very easily taken in. See for example 'On the City Wall', his story of communal rioting during Ashoura in Lahore.

(Available on the web at http://www.online-literature.com/kipling/indian-tales/13/)

eakens

I recently had a meeting with an outrageously successful and shrewd businessman. He told me something interesting, and that was that he had only been screwed by two types of people in his life: other Jews, and Persians.

What we have is a general populace who will buy anything it is sold. It helped that we also had an administration that was interested in selling what Iran had to offer.

The Silk Road extends much farther West than many seem willing to accept.

eakens

some of you may find this an interesting read as well:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/06/weekinreview/06slackman.html?pagewanted=print

curious

Iran entered the 20-th century with ploughs and donkeys and entered the 21-century manipulating a super-power into eliminating it greatest historical enemy.
Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 16 April 2009 at 10:25 PM "

come onnn..... Chalabi is not exactly unknown. He has his own game, everybody knows that. And the fact he is still wheeling and dealing means he is still useful to everybody involved.

We know that during the run up of Iraq war. Iran position pretty much 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'. I am sure everybody was high fiving in Iran hearing there is a serious plan to topple Saddam.

US-Iran isn't exactly without communication. There is always backdoor dealing one way or another. (It's worst than fifth grader passing notes in class. shesss...) The best known one is of course Iran-contra. During bush, we know Iran provided air passage, and transit for prisoners, etc Cheney/halliburton has business in Iran. Cheney even lobbied against Iran sanction way back. lol...

Chalabi and Iran? Well he did spend time and visit to Iran right? Plus he concocted that ploy about "selling secret to Iran so he can be viewed as independent candidate in Iraq. ( or was it pentagon trying to finally put him out of US circulation.) But basically Chalabi and Iran connection isn't something novel. It's been known and has been used for media ploy even.

What makes me wonder is: Why is Chalabi still alive? He crossed so many people and doesn't exactly have root in Iraq, but yet there he is, still making noise.

at any rate, Chalabi's biography would be some reading.

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

I think you are misunderstanding me.

I find it difficult to credit your thesis because there are, in my observation, a very considerable number of sophisticated and subtle people in the United States - some of them in US government.

Babak Makkinejad

eakens:

No doubt a Persian Jew who cheated your friend.

David Habakkuk:

My argument is simple but its simplicity does not falsify it.

curious:

I do not dispute Chalabi - a Shia Muslim - and Iranian leaders having some sort of relationship. I just cannot believe the thesis of this posting given what I know of the capabilities of either polity.

All:

I cannot prove a negative.

Apparently, I am being taken to the task for implying that there is a connection between political acumen and technological sophistication.

I believe it is so: both entail an understanding of the concpets and practices of the idea of "Organizatiopn".

The people who could organize the design, manufacture, provisioning, and operation of a Man-of-War in 1800s also had a superior grasp of power and politics compared to their counterparts in the Levant, the Persian Gulf, or the sub-Continent; those people know how to organize a mule train.

Medicine Man

David Habakkuk:

This is certainly food for thought. It is interesting to speculate how certain ideologues in Washington might be easily read and led by foreign agitators due to their biases on ME issues.

However, I don't think anything you've said necessarily contradicts what I'm driving at. What you have described is how Chalabi convinced those who were eager to be convinced. If your assertion is that Chalabi, and provocateurs like him, played a key role in propagating certain interventionist views in DC then I am inclined to agree.

It is entirely another thing to take Chalabi's boasting as literal truth. The fact that there was a temporary alignment of interests between the Bush Administration and Iran does not prove there was an entente cordial of any sort.

Medicine Man

Somewhat related to the original point of this thread: If this speculation is true and the Neocon faction in DC is influenced by the Iranians, I wonder to what extent their fingerprints are on some of the worse decisions made regarding the occupation. As I understand it, disbanding the Iraq military and the de-Baathification policy were both Neocon pet projects. Both policies had the effect of removing threats to Iraq's traditional foes but also proved ruinous to the prospects of a successful occupation by the US.

This is food for thought. To what extent was the policies of the occupation influenced by foreign (non-Iraq/US) agents?

Byron Raum

I am not really sure why this really means all that much. It seems to me that Chalabi was used by the neocons, not the other way around. They wanted to invade Iraq, 9/11 was the perfect excuse, and Chalabi helped provide local information, could be touted as an expert to doubters and was useful as a concrete display of Saddam's sins. The reason the neocons didn't feel they needed Saddam was because they felt that they could easily turn Iraq into a shining example of democracy aligned towards us and therefore ready to continue the bitter rivalry between Iran and Iraq.

Given this as a backdrop, I am not sure that Chalabi's has a right to his low opinion of Bush. He bought into the neocons' vision, and went into Iraq expecting to be a major player, returning, if not at the head of a liberating army, at least near it. This is not to say that other people don't have the right to have a low opinion of Bush - only that Chalabi doesn't.

MRW.

How about a real enquiry into who allowed America to be hoodwinked into the Iraq War? The 9/11 Commission was a farce. This time we should have an enquiry not run by one of the duped...
Times SEVENTEEN. We can start with a new 9-11 investigation. When the NIST wrote on page 140 (of the pdf) of the final report on the collapse of the towers (2005) that there is no evidence that the steel columns were heated above 600 C, you know there is rot in the official story. 600 C = 1100 F. Fancy barbecues burn hotter than that. Ditto the wok restaurants of Hong Kong.

Mac Nayeri

Chalabi, an Iranian asset?

He is not trusted by Pasdaran nor the clerical establsihment.

He is, however, a close observer of American politics and knows, as we all do, that the general consensus outthere is that Tehran gained the most from 2003 and since his own aspirations for power were sidelined by Washington, probably enjoys rubbing it in ours and the former administration's noses.

No grand conspiracy, just the fog of war.....

rjj

Chalabi says his family are Syrian Arabs who came to Baghdad with Murad IV.

If these statements are reasonably accurate:

"Murad was a bigoted Sunni, and the main cause of his campaign against Persia was his desire to extirpate the Shia heresy." http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Murad_IV

"The major impact of the Safavid-Ottoman conflict on Iraqi history was the deepening of the Shia-Sunni rift. Both the Ottomans and the Safavids used Sunni and Shia Islam respectively to mobilize domestic support. Thus, Iraq's Sunni population suffered immeasurably during the brief Safavid reign (1623-38), while Iraq's Shias were excluded from power altogether during the longer period of Ottoman supremacy (1638-1916)" http://countrystudies.us/iraq/18.htm

"Official Ottoman wrath was reserved for Sunni Muslims who inclined toward Shia beliefs..." Finkel, Osman's Dream

It seems reasonable to assume the family were Sunni till fairly recently -- possibly early 20th century. The conversion is intriguing. Anybody know anything about the composition of what the NYT calls a "small Shia elite" in Baghdad?

jon

Col., I believe you misunderstand me. I don't think I suggested that Iran had the capability to provoke or manage any specific US actions - only to act on the margins and assist what the US might do of its own accord. I would expect that the Iranians had thought through many scenarios and contingencies, and in each to seek ways to maximize their position and gains. Surely, you aren't implying that the Neocons are Iranian agents?

I am not aware of your claim that many of the INC group brought into Iraq had any affiliation with the Quds force. The INC rapidly proved in practice what had been widely known - that they were power hungry grafters with no true connection to the populace, politics that did not resonate, and no capacity for organization and management. It is fortunate that they were never handed power, but that can also be seen a result of the insurgency which required the US to remain and to establish their own imperial governate.

I believe it was Rumsfeld who insisted that the occupation be conducted with far fewer troops than recommended, giving no credence to analysis that saw a need for large troop numbers to maintain domestic order under occupation.

I'm sure the Iranian's would have capitalized on an INC government, but they also seem to have done quite well without them. I credit the Iranians to have a clearer perception of Chalabi, and assume that he has been a useful tool to them. I doubt that they would trust him with much of their strategic vision or operational plans, other than related to his need to know. I'm sure that they would toss him aside or pass him by, should it prove convenient. From time to time he is a handy tool, nothing more. Chalabi has proven himself many times to be an unreliable friend, business partner and ally.

Ultimately, neither Chalabi nor Iran can or could force the US to do what it did not want to do. We should expect that we will be challenged every day by persons and countries that want various things for their own unclear reasons. We are under no obligation to satisfy them. The US essentially acted as a wiling party and mark in a confidence scheme, being led to lies that we wanted to believe were true.

To me, Chalabi has always been a scorpion, something to be carefully perceived, shaken out of your boots, and crushed. What can you say of someone who plays with a scorpion in their hand, and then complains when they are stung?

The Iranians have benefitted most, but I credit the neocons, PNAC, AIPAC and their fellow travelers with concocting the 'strategery' that made a US invasion of Iraq seem appropriate and plausible, and then motivated public opinion and government officials to act to that end. If there has been a loser in this game, after the Iraqi people and the US, I would have to say that it has been Israel.

Patrick Lang

jon

The neocons, Perle, Rubin et all were unwitting dupes of the Iranians. They were, in Lenin's phrase, "useful idiots."

My "claim" concerning the identities of Chalabi's "Iraqi" freedom fighters is based on the eyewitness testimoney of US Army officers on the ground with them.

Your belief in the wisdom, and invulnerable power of the US is touching.

Mac Nayeri

It matters not if the Iranian Khawza trusts Chalabi. He was an opportunity. They saw it and used the chance to great effect. pl

David Habakkuk

Medicine Man

It seems clear that Chalabi was an important influence behind the decisions comprehensively to exclude former Baathists from public employment, and to disband the Iraqi military -- which together turned a Sunni insurgency from an evident possibility into a racing certainty.

Subsequently associates of his got together with some former British army counter-terrorism specialists, and secured the contract to protect the pipelines from the insurgents. Chalabi helps create the problem, Chalabi helps provide the solution -- and benefits in the process.

The story is told in a notable article by Knut Royce.

(See http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=11218.)

Babak Makkinejad

'I find it difficult to credit your thesis because there are, in my observation, a very considerable number of sophisticated and subtle people in the United States - some of them in US government.'

But advice from all such 'sophisticated and subtle' people -- including Colonel Lang -- was comprehensively ignored by the Bush Administration, who preferred the fantasies propagated by Chalabi.

(The notion that the Persians in the 1800s could do no more than 'organize a mule train', incidentally, seems a bit excessive -- had not Nader Shah sacked Delhi in 1739? But even if one concedes that the superiority of the Britain of Nelson and William Pitt the Younger over Muslim polities was not simply to do with technology, but with grasp of 'power and politics', what relevance has that to conditions in 2009?)

If you want vivid evidence of the rather limited intellectual grasp of the American neocons and their British fellow-travellers, you might perhaps look at the statement of principles of The Henry Jackson Society, which brings both groups together.

It is underpinned by a highly questionable belief in some kind of natural teleology of history leading to the triumph of liberal democracy -- precisely the delusional mindset which Chalabi so effectively exploited.

(See http://www.henryjacksonsociety.org/content.asp?pageid=35.)

Also important here is a nefarious side effect of the immense successes of Western countries in science and technology -- the belief that imitating the methods of the 'hard' sciences is the key to making progress in understanding human societies, which is reflected in the current intellectual hegemony of economics.

Back in 1831, the English satirist Thomas Love Peacock characterised 'political economy' as being based upon 'premises assumed without evidence, or in spite of it; and conclusions drawn from them so logically, that they must necessarily be erroneous.' This applies in spades to modern 'rational choice' theory, and minds formed by it will obviously be unable to make much sense of alien cultures, if not indeed of their own.

Taken together, these different elements contribute to making many influential figures in Washington and London easy meat for strategies of deception.

Mac Nayeri

He has become an opportunity, and yes it has been used effectively but that is a far cry from being an Iranian asset ab initio.....

Tehran's view was he was a carpetbagger, not Kim Philby....

curious

My choice where Iran has major role are

- de baathification
- disbanding Iraqi army
- inner working of CPA (this part I thin Chalabi has great impact, more so than his DC/INC days)
- Shia uprising to pressure selection of shia friendly leader. (debatable)

- nuke stuff/Russia (this one is well played)
- money in europe (more of unintended consequence)
- asia/japan energy supply (mix review)

William P. Fitzgerald III

p

Folks,

This is an interesting conversation, with opinions divided roughly into the "The Devil (Iran) Made Me Do It" and the "We have met the enemy and he is us" (Pogo) schools of thought. I agree with jon in thinking that we, the nation as a whole, were duped into the project of conquering Iraq and the identities and program of those who did the duping are traceable from the neo-conservatives in the government, through AIPAC, the Project for a New American Century, Team B on intelligence analysis and back to Netanyahu and the Likud party. The plan to invade was a "done deal" and the cooked intelligence from the INC and other sources was the necessary cover.

As for the INC "invasion force", what I recall from reading is that Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith and their ilk were desperate to put an Iraqi component with the invasion force. The INC failed miserably to recruit the promised force of Iraqi exiles and my guess is that Chalabi used his contacts in Iran to augment that dismal band of revolutionaries.

I have to go with Pogo on this one.

WPFIII


Patrick Lang

Some of you

A frustrating lot. You want to see things as mutually exclusive alternatives that are not and you want to quibble about dates and events that you have an imperfect knowledge of.

I have had enough of this. some of you will brood over it and that is what I want.

I sense that the most uncomfortsbl among you are the neocons who do not want to believe that the medieval "rag-heads" took them to the cleaners. pl

Babak Makkinejad

David Habakkuk:

Nader Shah, and the Safavids before him and the Qajars after him were ultimately failures - that is the judgment of the Iranian History.

Nader Shah was a failure for in spite of his considerable personal gift as a leader of men and a general, he failed to create a stable state.

The Safavids, who created modern Iran, failed since their polity could not abridge the Persian-Turkic divide as well as the intra Qizablbash rivalry. SO a rag-tag group of rebels from the Afghan Ostan could sack Isphahan - the imperial capital.

The Qajars, on the other hand, failed to modernizes the state quickly enough and caused self-inflicted wounds by loosing territories that were for centuries part of Iran: Aran, Nachchevan, Heart, Baluchistan, etc.

500 years of cluelessness (common to all Muslim polities) cannot be over during 30 years of militant nationalism of the Islamic Republic.

I want to emphasize that "organization" itself is a form of (high) technology and that the (Near) East had no inkling of any of it – organization [empirical sconces, etc.]

You won’t get any arguments from regarding “natural teleology”. Hegel claimed the same things for the Prussian State. The people you allude to are utter fools. And what distinguishes them from their brethren through human history is that their polity – through the instrumentality of hydrogen bombs – has the ability of annihilate all Life on this planet. That, in my opinion, is the source of their conceit.

I wish more people in the Western world, were exposed to the ideas of Jakob Burkhardt and what a “liberal” education would entail or achieve. Namely this: an appreciation nod understanding of the culture and civilization of foreign peoples without value-judgments.

Col. Lang:

“I knew we was good but not that good!”

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