Incompetence Or Double Dealing In

Incompetence or Double-Dealing in Coalition Management of Iraq?

The Coalition decision to provoke a fight with Muqtada al-Sadr’s movement only three months before the Coalition Provisional Authority goes out of business has to be seen as a form of gross incompetence in governance. How did the CPA get to the point where it has turned even Iraqi Shiites, who were initially grateful for the removal of Saddam Hussein, against the United States? Where it risks fighting dual Sunni Arab and Shiite insurgencies simultaneously, at a time when US troops are rotating on a massive scale and hoping to downsize their forces in country? At a time when the Spanish, Thai and other contingents are already committed to leaving, and the UN is reluctant to get involved?

One answer is that the Pentagon prevented the State Department from running the CPA. State is the body with experience in international affairs and administration. The civilians in the Department of Defense only know how to blow things up. Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith staffed the CPA with Neoconservatives, most of whom had no administrative experience, no Arabic, and no respect for Muslim culture (or knowledge about it). They actively excluded State Department Iraq hands like Tom Warrick. (Only recently have a few experienced State Department Arabists been allowed in to try to begin mopping up the mess.) The Neocons in the CPA have all sorts of ulterior motives and social experiments they want to impose on the Iraqi people, including Polish-style economic shock therapy, some sort of sweetheart deal for Israel, and maybe even breaking the country up into three parts.

The Washington Monthly’s Who’s Who of Neocons in Iraq helps explain the extreme incompetence and possibly double-dealing of many in the CPA.

Sept. 11 Commission member Philip Zelikow, who is close to the Bush administration, admitted on Sept. 10, 2002, that the ulterior motive of the Bush administration for the Iraq War was to “protect Israel,” according to the Asian Times.

I have long been a trenchant critic of the Sadrists. But they haven’t been up to anything extraordinary as far as I can see in recent weeks. Someone in the CPA sat down and thought up ways to stir them up by closing their newspaper and issuing 28 arrest warrants and taking in people like Yaqubi. This is either gross incompetence or was done with dark ulterior motives that can scarcely be guessed at.

There is a classical logical fallacy, post hoc ergo propter hoc (Z happens after X, therefore Z is caused by X), and I keep revising this posting this evening because I don’t want to fall into it. But sometimes, of course, when Z happens after X it is because of X. So I may as well just come out with it: It is pretty suspicious, given the Neocon predominance in the CPA and in the upper reaches of the Defense Department that on April 2 AP reported of Muqtada:

‘ A radical Shiite Muslim cleric has expressed solidarity with the militant Palestinian group Hamas and said that he should be considered the group’s “striking arm” in Iraq. “I have said and I repeat my expression of solidarity which Hassan Nasrallah called for to stand with Hamas,” Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said Friday in a reference to Nasrallah, the leader of the militant Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah. Last month, Nasrallah announced that his party would close ranks with Hamas. “Let (Hamas) consider me their striking arm in Iraq because the fate of Iraq and Palestine is the same,” al-Sadr said during a Friday prayer sermon in Kufa, his home base south of Baghdad. He did comment on what he meant by the phrase.

And on April 3 his chief aide in Najaf was suddenly arrested along with 13 other members of his organization, and the Coalition forces are put into violent conflict with his organization, which leaves 7 US soldiers dead. The Army is unlikely to forgive or forget; but who provoked it and why? I’m not even in Iraq and I could have predicted to you the consequences of doing what the CPA has been doing. Anthony Shadid of the Washington Post reveals that the warrants for the arrests had been issued months be for. Why were they suddenly acted on Saturday?

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