talking, of course about Ayad Allawi,
longtime C.I.A. asset and former interim
prime minister of Iraq. He's making
quite the PR push to get his old job
an op-ed for the Washington Post,
with Wolf Blitzer on Late
Edition on Sunday, and even
putting the high-powered GOP lobbying
firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers on a
everything you need to know about who
the true power holders in Iraq are that
Allawi, who has a "six-point plan" for
Iraq that involves replacing the current
Prime Minister, is campaigning in
Washington -- not Baghdad. He clearly
knows that despite Bush's bathetic
paeans to Iraqi sovereignty, the real
deciders in Iraq are not the Iraqi
people, but a few dozen folks in the
White House and the Pentagon. They are
Allawi's true constituency.
does the White House stand on the idea
of Allawi replacing current embattled
prime minister Nouri al-Maliki? Well, it
depends on whether you think Mitch
McConnell was freelancing on Fox
News Sunday when he jumped on the
calling the Maliki-led Iraqi government
"pretty much a disaster" -- or whether
you think he was performing his familiar
function as White House water carrier.
the White House be seeing in the blame-Maliki-for-the-disaster-in-Iraq
meme an opportunity replace the
sputtering "give the surge a chance"
plan with a "give Allawi a chance" plan?
the Blitzer-Allawi interview to see
what such a move would mean for the
starters, Allawi told Blitzer that his
"six points call for a full partnership
with the United States" and that his
"objective is to develop a plan to save
Iraq and to save American lives, as well
as, of course, Iraqi lives, and to save
the American mission in Iraq." Full
Partnership? Save the American mission?
Surely, music to the White House's ears.
And it was good of him to toss in those
Iraqi lives -- of course.
would an Allawi takeover mean in terms
of U.S. troops remaining in Iraq? "If we
talk around the region of two to
two-and-a-half years," Allawi told
Blitzer, "I think we are in the right
direction." Who needs Petraeus buying
the administration another few months
with his report when the Allawi coup can
buy them another two-and-a-half years?
White House doesn't have to worry about
Allawi knowing his lines -- he's already
memorized the playbook. When Blitzer
asked him when the United States might
be able to start reducing our presence
in Iraq, Allawi responded with a Bush
classic: "As soon as the Iraqi forces
are able to stand on their feet and
provide security for the Iraqis I think
the draw-down should start." Ah: When
they stand up, we can stand down! Misty
water-colored memories. Being away from
Iraq so much, I guess Allawi missed all
those reports about the repeated failure
of Iraqi forces to "stand on their
exactly how would an Allawi-for-Maliki
switch occur? Allawi says he wants to
proceed by "democratic
means." But after being appointed
interim prime minister by the U.S.-led
coalition in June of 2004, Allawi had
six months to campaign before the
January 2005 legislative elections. He
came in third with 14% of the vote.
Blitzer asked Allawi who is paying for
the $300,000 Barbour Griffith & Rogers
lobbying contract, Allawi wouldn't say.
He was only willing to disclose that the
"payment is made by an Iraqi person who
was a supporter of us, of the INA, of
myself, of our program, and he has
supported this wholeheartedly, without
any strings attached."
Spencer Ackerman of TPMmuckracker
wrote, perhaps it's being financed
by Allawi's old buddy Hazem Shaalan, who
Allawi appointed as his defense
minister. Shaalan is currently fighting
charges that he stole $1 billion from
the Iraqi defense budget (out of a total
of $1.3 billion). That's some way to
endear yourself to the Iraqi people.
and Shaalan are also
closely tied to the Iraqi National
Intelligence Service, which is
funded and controlled by the C.I.A. and
which has been a persistent thorn in
relations between the U.S. and Maliki.
Meanwhile, we'll have to see whether
Barbour Griffith & Rogers' lobbying will
be as effective with administration
officials as it has been with
Washington's media gatekeepers. Last
week, Bush issued a tepid defense of
saying he is "a good guy, a good man
with a difficult job, and I support
him." Hmm, didn't he say the same thing
about Alberto Gonzales? And Don Rumsfeld?
was working on this post, I got a call
from John Cusack, who had watched
Blitzer's interview with Allawi from
Berlin, where he is making a movie. He
was stunned by Blitzer's remark to
Allawi, after he had read him Maliki's
quote about Iraq being able to "find
friends elsewhere": "Those words,"
Blitzer said, "were seen here in
Washington as pretty biting, given the
enormous amount of support the United
States has provided Iraq over these
imagine?" Cusack told me. "We invade
their country, an invasion that has
resulted in over 100,000 -- and maybe as
many as 650,000 -- Iraqi civilians dead;
2 million Iraqis having fled the
country, with 1.14 million displaced
from their homes within Iraq; and tens
of thousands of Iraqis detained -- with
many of them tortured. After that
'enormous amount of support,' Iraqis
have the temerity to complain?"
about ingratitude. I bet Allawi would
never bite the hand that feeds -- and
bombs -- him.