President Bush says last week's election shows Iraq "will serve as a beacon for what is possible; a beacon of freedom in a part of the world that is desperate for freedom and liberty ... I'm very optimistic about the way forward for the Iraqi people."
He is optimistic, even though:
•Ayad Allawi, leader of a secular Shiite coalition (and consequently, Our Guy In Iraq), is being creamed by a group of religious Shiites.
•That religious group -- the United Iraqi Alliance -- is backed by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a Shiite cleric who is supposed to be Our Guy In Iraq because Bush says Islam is a religion of peace. Except in Iran, a country run by Shiite clerics.
•Alas, Ayad Allawi isn't even in second place; he's also sucking hind teat to the Iraqi Consensus Front, a religious Sunni Arab group. What's better to U.S. interests than an Iraq run by Shiite clerics? Of course: An Iraq run by Shiite and Sunni clerics.
On the upside, Ahmad Chalabi -- formerly Our Guy In Iraq, until he got too close to Iran -- drew less than a half of 1 percent of the Baghdad vote. He may not even get a seat in government. Most of them will be taken by people who want a religious Shiite government.
It's 500 years since the Safavids took over Iraq. Past, meet future.
This is our cover for getting the hell out. But there is a BIG problem. Now the question is: how do we do it. There is only one exit door, to the south. And within 6 months 100 miles of that road will have about 10,000 old artillery shells buried in the potted plants alongside it.
It won't look as gruesome as it did in 1991, but it would be awful. A withdrawal is the most dangerous thing military action in the book. And this choice just plain sucks.
The only real alternative is to airlift out whoever and whatever you can, put a thermite grenade down the artillery tube, and leave billions of dollars of stuff to rust in the desert. And then be prepared for a few burning C-5's on the runway, a la Khe San, 1968.
Iran/Iraq may be nice to us and tell us that we can get out safely during a one week period. Otherwise they turn a blind eye.
If you thought Operation Fucking Disaster was bad up until now ... just wait .... I predict you ain't seen nothin' yet.
Call me a pessimist.
Note also that officials keep reminding us "the vote could change." You know, like it did in Florida in 2000, and Ohio in 2004, among other places and times.
Of course, if Bush and Company don't get the government they want, they can always declare the election to be invalid. Remember, if the president does it, it is legal (to paraphrase R.M. Nixon, R.I.H.).
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