[Homestead] According to Bush and Allawi, in Iraq, Wagner's music sounds better than it is
tvoivozd at infionline.net
Thu Sep 23 18:50:17 EDT 2004
George F. Will: Allawi puts his game face on, despite grim reality
George F. Will, Washington Post
September 22, 2004 WILL0922
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sounding like Mark Twain mischievously insisting
that Wagner's music is better than it sounds, Prime Minister Ayad
Allawi, who is not known for drollery, says events in Iraq are better
than they seem. Speaking Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Allawi said the
insurgency is "still raging" but that is a good sign -- a sign that
"it's not getting stronger, it's getting more desperate."
Other good news, as Allawi sees it, is that the violence is not just
internecine Iraqi strife, it is "an international war that's being
fought on Iraqi territory" by "foreign terrorists" who are "still
pouring in." He says "Iraqi forces" will enter Fallujah "soon." When he
says that "by four months a lot of things will change," he implies that
the elections scheduled for January could not occur under today's
Allawi disputes his U.N. ambassador's judgment that more U.S. and
British troops will be needed to defeat the insurgency, but he disputes
it by confirming that current forces are inadequate: "No, we need more
participation from other countries."
After "This Week" arranged with Allawi's office for Sunday's interview,
the U.S. State Department called ABC to say that the office of U.S.
Ambassador John Negroponte in Baghdad had decided that the interview
would not happen until this coming Sunday, after Allawi's U.S. visit.
This attempt by the U.S. embassy to exercise sovereignty over the prime
minister raised interesting questions about just what was actually
transferred on June 28 when sovereignty was supposedly given to the
Iraqi government. The White House recognized the inconvenience of such
questions. The interview occurred.
After listening to Allawi, Sens. Richard Lugar and Joe Biden, who have
struggled to be supportive of U.S. policy, were studies in decorous
exasperation. "He [Allawi] has to put his game face on," said Biden, a
former football player in Delaware. Lugar said the Iraqi elections
scheduled for January "may not be perfect, but they're going to happen."
The question is, how imperfect can they be before they make matters
worse? And how do you protect, say, upward of 3,000 polling places,
which are sure to be targeted by insurgents?
"Fallujah," says Lugar, "is not in a position to have an election." So
the conquest of that city, and perhaps of others in the Sunni triangle,
must precede the elections. "Whether it happens before the [U.S.]
election or after," says Lugar, "it will have to happen before the
[Iraqi] elections occur in January."
Here is John Kerry's dilemma: What, if anything, can he say about this?
Should he charge that the military decision about the timing of the
offensive that must precede Iraq's elections is being controlled by
political calculations about the U.S. elections? Can he find electoral
traction by charging, plausibly, that administration incompetence is one
reason the Iraqi police and military are unready to be much help in the
fighting that evidently will be done in November and December?
Most of Kerry's dilemmas are of his making -- his dreamy belief that
even with a war raging he could campaign on domestic issues; his Jackson
Pollock canvas of positions on the war. But now his dilemma is that in
American politics, optimism is mandatory, even -- no, especially -- when
it is dubious. Everybody has a game face on. Too bad this is not a game.
Time will tell whether Allawi will ride the whirlwind or be consumed by
it -- whether he will be Iraq's Aleksandr Kerensky. Allawi certainly
seems tougher than that mild Russian who briefly held power in Russia in
1917, during a semi-democratic moment after the czar and before the
Bolsheviks swept him, and parliamentary government, aside. Kerensky died
in New York in 1970.
When President Bush proclaims, as he regularly does, that "freedom is on
the march," he cannot be thinking of Russia. Across its 11 time zones,
freedom is in retreat, again.
When Allawi addresses a joint session of Congress Thursday, he will
stand where British Prime Minister Tony Blair stood in July 2003 to
proclaim that it is a "myth" that American and British "attachment to
freedom is a product of our culture" -- a myth that "freedom, democracy,
human rights, the rule of law" are Western rather than universal values.
Allawi will not say anything less plausible to an audience that is
sadder, and perhaps wiser, than it was 14 months ago.
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