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Jan 08, 2007

The Phrases Change, But The Game Remains The Same

Zal-Baghdad

A "New Way Forward?"

No, just another phrase forward.  The latest Bush plan is essentially a replay of the sham that occurred in drafting the Iraqi constitution.  Besides the troop escalation, it's one more creative writing exercise authored by omniscient narrator and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad.

Following the Iraqi election, the parties slogged on for months, unable to agree on anything.  Suddenly, after the Bush Administration became, first desperate, then angry, everyone appeared to get with the program.  That exercise, like the current protracted one, hinged on an agreement by the central players to execute an equitable sharing of oil revenues.  If it didn't happen before, however, when commanded by law, why should anyone expect it to happen this time?

By now, Bush, Rice and Khalilzad's dumbfounded parlor game is terribly predictable: Agree to agree, then declare victory. substantial progress has been made. effective benchmarks have been established.

There is one overt difference between this plan and all the previous, however.  This iteration enthusiastically embraces a key aspect of Rummy's parting memo.  If you recall, Rumsfeld recommended we just pay them off.  (Well actually, I get there by collapsing Rummy's 8th, 12th and 13th points, including a) the use of reconstruction assistance as a behavior modification tool, b) the provision of "... money to key political and religious leaders (as Saddam Hussein did)...." and c) the initiation of a massive, U.S. run youth training program.)  Hewing to form, however, its hard to believe this "investment" talk is anything by thinly-disguised code for funneling cash to key players to back off the insurgency civil war.

If you want to cut to the chase on this latest exercise, however, just read the picture.  This shot accompanied the story, published in the NYT last week, relating Khalilzad's nomination to clean up after John Bolton at the U.N.  (Besides his stellar record in Baghdad, Uncle Zal is also the brilliant architect of that government we left behind in Afghanistan Kabul.)

With his game growing familiar now, the Khalilzad/U.N. article pulled few punches.  Consider this excerpt:

Mr. Khalilzad, a Sunni Muslim, is known at the State Department for his staunch — some say, swaggering — belief that he is a deal broker who can solve any problem. State Department staffers sometimes joked that Mr. Khalilzad, who has advocated talking to Iran, might one day go off script, personally meet with Iran’s ruling mullahs and return to inform his bosses that he had worked everything out in American-Iranian relations.

From now on, if you see Khalilzad in any significant political photograph, silently add the caption: "Have I got a plan for you!" In this case, Khalilzad is, once again, the default focus for the otherwise fuzzy participation and engagement of Iraqi President What's His Name.

>>More BAG on Zal: The Steward of Pottery Barn - 11/27/05 (link). The Don Of A New Iraq - 1/23/06 (link). All Hail Breaks Loose - 2/2/06 (link).


(image:  Ali Haider.  published January 6, 2007. Iraq. nyt.com)

Comments

What's in focus with the Bush Administration is the swagger, the surliness, the inflexibility, the lack of compromise, the lack of diplomacy.

What's out of focus is reality.

"He attended the American University of Beirut and then .... He is married to Cheryl Bernard, ... They have two children, Alexander and Maximilian."

Any thoughts on what his naming protocol for his children tells us about how he views himself? He seems to do poorly a job that shouldn't be done at all. A career littered with errors from day one of arming the muhjadeen to oppose the Soviets.

This guy should not be in public service, much less the foreign service. Diplomacy and tact used to be required, at least competency at a job.

Oh yeah, I forgot, the "Adults" are in charge now.

Silly me.

That face! When Big Zal doesn't buy it, you know that it ain't worth selling!

Those water bottles look like pawns, making the table look like a chess board. Mr. Khalizad has just turned for instruction on how he should move his pieces.

(The red dot on the chair makes him look like he is in the sights of some laser-guided rifle. Creepy.)

El Shrubbo is simply incapable of learning, probably because he knows it all already.

The entire Bush clan is irredeemable scum. May we flush them from the political system.

I wonder what - or whom - they're all looking at.

From what I've read, the Shia officials in Iraq aren't so enamored with Zal. I'm not so sure that he's some super statesman who could go off and make a deal with Iran.

And I wonder who's worse - Khalilzad or his wife Cheryl Bernard, who wrote a Rand report on Muslims; it's laughable, but probably taken seriously in Washington think tanks and government offices.

Deadest shark eyes on a human being I've seen. Completely empty of emotion, set on calculation.

From the script of Jaws:

Quint:

Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, chief. ... Very first light, chief. The sharks come cruisin'. So we formed ourselves into tight groups. You know it's... kinda like `ol squares in battle like a, you see on a calendar, like the battle of Waterloo. And the idea was, the shark nearest man and then he'd start poundin' and hollerin' and screamin' and sometimes the shark would go away. Sometimes he wouldn't go away. Sometimes that shark, he looks right into you. Right into your eyes. You know the thing about a shark, he's got... lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eye. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be livin'. Until he bites ya and those black eyes roll over white. And then, ah then you hear that terrible high pitch screamin' and the ocean turns red and spite of all the poundin' and the hollerin' they all come in and rip you to pieces. Y'know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men! ...

Every picture I see of Zalmay Khalilzad makes me think about different ways of wielding power: ZK--more mafia thug than diplomat--projects a style that seems very incompatible with the American values embodied in our Constitution.

Further evidence that Bushco represents a weirdo fringe, not America.

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