Well, just call him Baghdad
Asked about Baghdad's lack of electricity at an air-conditioned
press conference, Paul Bremer, the American head of the occupation
authority, looking cool in a dark suit and quiet purple tie, simply
asserted that, with a few exceptions, Baghdad was now receiving 20
hours of electricity a day. "It simply isn't true," said one Iraqi,
shaking his head in disbelief after listening to
Mr. Bremer. "Everybody in Baghdad knows it."
Why doesn't this sort of thing get more attention? Tom Friedman thinks he
has the answer:
- President Bush is sure lucky no weapons of mass
destruction have been found yet in Iraq.
Because had we found these weapons our entire focus today would be
on the real issue: why the Bush team -- which wanted this war so badly
and had telegraphed it for so long -- was so poorly prepared for
Which is, of course, nonsense -- if anything that could credibly be
called a Weapon of Mass Destruction had been found, Dubya's crew would
be using that to drown out the critics. (Besides, you've got to
wonder whose focus Friedman is talking about, given how many Americans
the weapons have been found, or just
But it's followed up with a stunner:
- I still believe that with the right effort Iraq can be
made a decent place. But that task has been made much harder because
of the Pentagon's poor planning for postwar Iraq. If the Pentagon's
lapses can be overcome -- and I hope they will be -- then we should
learn from them for future wars. If they can't be overcome, then they
will be grist for next year's who-lost-Iraq debate.
Recall that Friedman was saying even before the war that the right
reason to attack was to light
a beacon of democracy, and that the whole WMD thing was nothing
more than an excuse to try to rope in some allies -- who were, of
course, slow-witted enough to fall for that sort of deception even if
he was writing about it in the New York Times. Now he's astounded to
discover -- as anti-war folks were saying before the war -- that
Dubya's crew isn't actually prepared to follow through on what was,
after all, his project, not theirs. For which he really has no
excuse -- the short shrift that Dubya's crew was giving their much
smaller project in Afghanistan was already obvious.
Friedman's clearly right about one thing -- what shapes up in Iraq
will shape Arab views of the United States, and the West as a whole,
for decades. Arabs' hostile view of the West, and the terrorist attacks which
it engenders, were the problem that (he argued) a successful occupation would
fix. From that perspective, a failed occupation would be a disaster.
And he knew what kind of commitment would be required
after the war to succeed, and not fail -- witness this
account of his appearance on Oprah, where he shocked the audience
by talking about a full-scale occupation lasting twenty years. How
irresponsible was he to advocate going in, without any real knowledge
that Dubya's crowd would make that commitment?