The Chalabi Factor

By Dateline D. C. | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 3, 2008 | Go to article overview
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The Chalabi Factor


Dateline D. C., Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


WASHINGTON

In listening to the three major candidates for the White House spinning out their carefully edited tales of what they have done in their past lives and telling us what they plan to do for our future security, well-being and happiness, we hear a number of false notes.

The five years that have passed since declaring war on Iraq have changed many of our views about the government of the United States. For some, the evidence -- from the conduct of that war, through the economic recession and policies relating to immigration together with the corruption of so many of our leaders -- has created the nonsensical beliefs "that the god's must be angry."

While divine retribution must never be ruled out, ample documentable evidence points to a lack of responsibility, leaders saying "let's blame someone else and make his job available," or to putting impractical ideas into practice and America's interests behind those of other countries.

No one wants to remember that the same mistakes -- although not all together -- have been made before.

America's single greatest mistake in the Iraqi war was relying on Ahmed Chalabi, an exceedingly rich Iraqi exile in Washington, whose "minder" was believed by many to be an officer of a foreign intelligence service. Chalabi told our government that Saddam Hussein could be deposed easily and replaced without turmoil by Shia Muslims such as himself. Over objections from the CIA and our military, who assumed that they would be home in six months, the White House chose to believe Chalabi.

There were grand expectations of replicating the heady dream of our GIs being welcomed by flag-waving Shias just as their grandparents were by the French in past wars. Chalabi was welcomed by the most powerful Americans from the Pentagon to the White House and gave interviews as a potentate.

In May 2004, Chalabi's home and office in Iraq were raided by our military. There were new whispers that throughout his career in Washington and London, he had been an agent of influence for the Iranians. Certainly, he invented stories supporting the belief that Saddam had nuclear weapons.

Chalabi was arrested in Baghdad, with his nephew (Iraq's oil minister), on numerous financial charges but made it back to London, where he remains. Many of Chalabi's friends, once decision-makers in the U.S. government, have resigned; others are said to be under investigation.

Trouble followed trouble. While sufficient in numbers to capture Baghdad, our military were too few to occupy and pacify the country and inadequate in strength to stop the massive looting and sabotage.

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