Who’s In Charge Now, Charles?

charles_krauthammerweb.jpgGiven that Charles Krauthammer’s Ode To Victory in Iraq is more or less a rewrite of Fred and Kim Kagan’s from earlier this week, I think my response to them should suffice.

There is, however, one particular point worth responding to. Charles’ reverie climaxes with his claim that “the most expansive American objective — establishing a representative government that is an ally against jihadists, both Sunni and Shiite — is within sight.”

To understand what a monumental redefinition of “success” this claim represents, let’s look at something Charles wrote back in 2003. Oozing canned-Churchillian brio after the quick collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Krauthammer dismissed Iraqi Shiite protesters as tools of Iran:

The Shiite demonstrators in Iraqi streets represent a highly organized minority, many of whom are affiliated with, infiltrated by and financed by Tehran, the headquarters for 20 years of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

These Iranian-oriented Shiite extremists are analogous to the Soviet-oriented communists in immediate post-World War II Italy and France. They too had a foreign patron. They too had foreign sources of money, agents and influence. They too had a coherent ideology. And they too were highly organized even before the end of the war. They too made a bid for power. And failed. […]

Tellingly, even the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq sent a delegation to the last meeting with Jay Garner, our proconsul in Baghdad. Even the Islamic radicals know the Pentagon is prepared to move with or without them. They know who’s in charge.

The question is: Does Charles know who’s in charge now? Prime Minister Maliki’s governing coalition is dependent on the support of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), who until last year were known as — can you guess? — the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. ISCI still represents “a highly organized minority…affiliated with, infiltrated by and financed by Tehran,” but, by offering their support for the U.S. occupation, this minority has been able to establish itself in Iraq’s government, with members of its Badr Corps militia (which has now redefined itself as “not a militia“) firmly ensconced throughout the Iraqi security apparatus.

Unlike the Soviet-oriented communists to whom Krauthammer claims these Shiite extremists are analogous, ISCI succeeded in its bid for power, largely by telling the occupier what he wanted to hear. (Here’s the White House press release from President Bush’s meeting with SCIRI chief Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim in December 2006 — a few weeks before Quds Force officers were arrested at Hakim’s compound in Baghdad.)

This doesn’t necessarily mean that partnering with ISCI was the wrong play — though, considering that Bush’s policy has been to stay and stay in Iraq, it was really the only play available — but it does show that Charles Krauthammer has so radically defined victory down that he’s now crowing about about the establishment of an Iraqi government dominated by the very “Iranian-oriented Shiite extremists” he was sounding the alarm on a few years ago.