Monday, June 28, 2004

Self-Rule Makes The Saints Cry

Memo to the entire Iraq policy team: YOU ARE DUMB.
Seriously, that's the best you could come up with? Turning over the meaningless, hell, borderline FICTIONAL "Iraqi Sovereignty" two days early? That's your big solution? What kind of half-assed, spit-and-baling-wire operation are you people running over there? Oh, right, that one. The same one that's still waiting for the parades and the flowers and the hearts and the minds.
It's not even a strategy, it's like a bad Babylon 5 plot. "If we just turn the country over to the Iraqis two days early, all the insurgents will realize they're Only Fighting Themselves." Somehow I don't picture Paul Bremer with a big bone ridge on the back of his head.
Really, the only way it could have been dumber is if they'd turned sovereignty over on Monday, and didn't TELL ANYONE until Wednesday. That would have made it a Voyager plot. "See! For the past two days, you've been killing record numbers of people in organized, multi-city attacks, but you've actually been under self-rule! You thought you'd been fighting the US, but you were Only Fighting Yourselves!"
Shows you just how much this so-called "sovereignty" is worth, doesn't it? That it can be bandied about and shifted around on the schedule? All they really did was change the way the numbers are counted when the attacks and deaths are reported.
See, the next time something blows up, and if I were in a betting pool, I'd place it around 2pm Central Time today, it won't be "the latest in a lengthy and deadly series of attacks during the U.S. occupation of Iraq." Anything that happens today will be the "first major attack since the US handed over sovereignty to the Iraqi government". The Death Counter resets to zero. What the ceremony REALLY needed to drive the point home was a huge banner saying "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, AND TWO DAYS EARLY!". I hear they had one planned, but they couldn't get the aircraft carrier over all that sand.
You know what's even better? You know what everyone is expecting the first action of the New We're In Charge Really Iraqi Government is gonna be? Imposing emergency martial law on the country. I'm not sure how the Iraqi people will react to curfews, armed forces marching through the streets, random house searches, being picked up at random by the authorities... probably pretty positively, I'd think. It's tough to tell, though, because there's really no precedent for it.
Still, even after all this, there may be some of you out there thinking that now that Iraq is under self-rule, things will be different. And maybe you'd be right. But let's take a look at just what the "self-ruling" new Iraqi government is not allowed to do, shall we? They have no discretion whatsoever over whether US troops stay or go. That's probably a good idea. When you're ending your occupation in name only, you don't want to accidentally give your puppets the ability to kick you out. That's such an amateur, bonehead mistake I'm almost surprised they didn't make it.
Oh, and also, according to Reuters, the newly installed Iraqi government is "barred from making long-term policy decisions". That's fucking lovely. The good news is, because we turned over power on Monday instead of Wednesday, the definition of "long-term" now changes from "anytime after this Sunday" to "anytime after this Friday".
A -really- paranoid, conspiracy-minded person would suspect that, in the couple of days since the first box-office reports for "Fahrenheit 9/11" started pouring in, they threw this together to have a Happy Story ready to inject into the news cycle so that the top story on Monday wouldn't be "Movie We Tried Desperately To Stop And/Or Discredit Sets Huge Records, So We Didn't Learn A Fucking Thing From Al Franken's Book". But that's crazy talk.
I'm sure it's just that, in the practice sessions, Iraqis were so good at ruling themselves that they simply didn't need the extra two days of workshops.