Little Green Footballs

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Rats leaving a sinking ship

The Financial Times has an interesting piece documenting the 'phenomena' of more and more advocates of the Iraqi war changing their minds, expressing doubts and criticising the war in Iraq.

Even among the strongest advocates in Washington of the war in Iraq there is a sense of alarm these days, with harsh criticism directed particularly at the draft constitution, which they see as a betrayal of principles and a recipe for disintegration of the Iraqi state.

Expressions of concern among conservatives and former Iraqi exiles, seen also in the rising disillusionment of the American public, reflect a widening gap with the Bush administration and its claims of “incredible political progress” in Iraq.

Over the past week, two of Washington's most influential conservative think-tanks, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Heritage Foundation, held conferences on Iraq where the mood among speakers, including Iraqi officials, was decidedly sombre.

Kanan Makiya, an outspoken proponent of the war who is documenting the horrors of the Saddam regime in his Iraq Memory Foundation, opened the AEI meeting by admitting to many “dashed dreams”.

He said he and other opposition figures had seriously underestimated the powers of ethnic and sectarian self-interest, as well as the survivability of the “constantly morphing and flexible” Ba'ath party. He also blamed the Bush administration for poor planning and committing too few troops.

The proposed constitution, to be taken to a referendum on Saturday, was a “profoundly destabilising document” that could “deal a death blow” to Iraq, he said.

The constitution was a recipe for greater chaos, said Rend Rahim, a former exile who had been designated as Iraq's first postwar ambassador to the US. Unless revised, it would lead to such a devolution of power that the central government would barely exist, she said.

Qubad Talabani, Washington representative of the Kurdistan regional government, delivered a stinging indictment of the central government that echoed the growing divisions in the ruling alliance of Shia and Kurds.

Danielle Pletka, senior analyst at AEI and conference moderator, called the constitution deeply flawed, describing it as the result of political machinations between Iraqis and Americans. She said the process had been reduced to a benchmark for the exit of US troops.

With growing numbers of Americans wanting an early withdrawal from Iraq, Mrs Pletka's remarks reflect the concerns of conservative ideologues that the Bush administration will succumb to internal pressures and pull out prematurely.

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