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From Tragedy to Farce and Back Again

By Matthew Yglesias on December 4, 2006 at 11:37 pm

"From Tragedy to Farce and Back Again"

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With Abdul Aziz al-Hakim’s visit to Washington, one really might have thought that the cognitive dissonance from the White House would have gotten too intense for the Beltway press corps to keep covering administration “policymaking” with a straight face. Based on Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s article one’s hopes would be disappointed.

Really, truly do we need to take the idea that Hakim is the solution in Iraq even remotely seriously. The hope, it seems, is that more Hakim means less Muqtada, but what’s the point? Why would we want to trade an upstart Iranian-backed vicious Shiite Islamist would-be theocrat for a more establishment-oriented Iranian-backed vicious Shiite Islamist would-be theocrat? Maybe this sort of gambit can win you ten points in Calvinball but here on planet earth we’re rearranging deck chairs on the titanic. Or, perhaps, using the deck chairs to poke holes in the hull, hoping to avoid the iceberg by sinking the ship before the deadly collision occurs.

At any rate, now seems like a good time to revisit the political punditry of America’s Worst Journalist, Charles Krauthammer, and his eerily prescient column of May 2, 2003:

Before the war even began, the critics were predicting that Iraq was going to be the Bay of Pigs (plus “Desert One, Beirut and Somalia,” said the ever-hyperbolic Chris Matthews). A week into the war, we were told Iraq was Vietnam. Now, after the war, they’re telling us that Iraq is Iran — that Iraq’s Shiite majority will turn it into another intolerant Islamic republic.

The critics were wrong every time. They are wrong again. Of course there are telegenic elements among the Shiites who would like fundamentalist rule by the clerics. But even the majority of Iranians oppose the rule of the mullahs and consider the Islamic revolution a disaster. 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.

There is no reason to believe that Iranian-inspired Shiite fundamentalists will be any more successful in Iraq.

Seriously, are there no firing offenses for columnists? Silly critics. Damian Penny hailed Krauthammer’s genius

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