Thursday, March 20, 2003

Very important piece in the New Republic by Iraqi opposition figure Kanan Makiya, and very strange. Strange, because he offers a genuine scoop--namely that the U.S. has allegedly abandoned plans for a military government in Iraq--but he also doesn't seem to trust the Bush administration to carry through on that promise.

Here are a few representative passages:

In effect, I learned from Doug Feith that the Bush administration had discreetly abandoned its military government plan and decided to reaffirm the United States' decade-old alliance with the opposition.

Feith said that it is now U.S. policy to pass over decision-making responsibilities to an all-Iraqi interim authority in stages, as quickly as it was possible for the Iraqis to manage them. In Salahuddin we had already constructed 14 subcommittees to deal with humanitarian relief, financial assessment, economic rehabilitation, field operations, military coordination, and more. These subcommittees, the backbone of the interim authority, will find their American counterparts in [Ret. Gen. Jay] Garner's office and under General Tommy Franks's command to ensure that Iraqis match their efforts with the Americans'.

What Makiya is referring to is the fact that the U.S. had informed the Iraqi opposition that it intended to install a military government and would continue to use Baath bureaucrats to run Iraq. However, he didn't seem to pick up on what Feith's term "in stages" meant, and he only begged the question: which bureaucrats will run Iraq if it's not the Baathists? After all, the opposition doesn't have anybody.

Makiya himself almost says as much in the ending to his piece. He could be in for more disappointment.

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