'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, July 01, 2004

The Strong and Remarkable Leadership of Paul Wolfowitz 

Back in the "Mission Accomplished" salad days of the Iraq occupation confident talking heads used to chalk up all violence in Iraq to Saddam-loyalists, former Baathists, and foreign agitators. You could get an alternative view of the situation in columns from people like Robert Fisk but insurgency-denial was the standard story. Now of course commentators, after the turmoil of that last few months, must admit that there is an insurgency in Iraq ... Not apparently if you're Paul Wolfowitz. Wouldn't you know it, Wolfowitz is still clinging to the old line -- for instance, here he is asserting that there is no insurgency in Iraq on Hardball two weeks ago:

BROWN: Let me take it away from the insurgency or the violence, which we are covering, certainly, enormously.

WOLFOWITZ: By the way, it's not insurgency. An insurgency implies something that rose up afterwards. This is the same enemy that butchered Iraqis for 35 years, that fought us up until the fall of Baghdad and continues to fight afterwards. It was led by Saddam Hussein up until his capture in December. It's been led, in part, by his No. 2 or 3, Izzat Ibrahim al Douri, since then. It's been led by Zarqawi, who was a terrorist working for bin Laden in Afghanistan, who fled to Iraq in 2002. It's not an insurgency, in the sense of an uprising. It is a continuation of the war by people who never quit.

BROWN: But there are people there, the average Iraqis, many of whom I spoke with, who are not happy about the direction things are going and are...

WOLFOWITZ: Would you be happy if car bombs are going off every day? Of course, they're not.

It's hard to express the depth of self-delusion one must descend to in order to defend this position. The Sadrists who fended off the assault on Fallujah and waged pitched battles against US forces in places like Najaf and Kufa were "the same enemy that butchered Iraqis for 35 years"? Look one can defend Wolfowitz's words by objecting that Wolfowitz wasn't talking about Sadr's militia, but read the quote -- Brown mentions the insurgency, clearly referring to .. um .. the insurgency and then Wolfowitz states that there is no insurgency.

Actually, Wolfowitzian insurgency-denial is now at odds with the official position of Iraq's new puppet government, which is probably going to offer amnesty to the Sadrists on the implied grounds that they are, you know, average Iraqis resisting a foreign occupation, according to President al-Yawer "those who took part in the resistance against the American occupation should show they are real patriots, lay down their arms ... and construct a new future with us."

Of course Wolfowitz has always shown a unique ability to maintain positions that are radically at odds with observable experience, like when he praised one of the most brutal dictators of the twentieth century for his strong and remarkable leadership regarding human rights:

Any balanced judgment of the situation in Indonesia today, including the very important and sensitive issue of human rights, needs to take account of the significant progress that Indonesia has already made and needs to acknowledge that much of this progress has to be credited to the strong and remarkable leadership of president Suharto.*

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