Friday, December 01, 2006

Futile meeting

Here's a link to the editorial I did for the Register yesterday on the Bush-Maliki meeting in Jordan. The gist is that, as Larry Diamond, a scholar at the Hoover Institution who spent time with the Coalition Provisional Authority and wrote an excellent book ("Squandered Victory") about post-invasion Iraq, said to me on the phone, The meeting is a bit like "dancing on the decks of the Titanic as the ship is sinking."

One of our readers called me this morning to see if I was cheered up by al-Maliki's declaration that the Iraqis will be ready to take over -- if they get more helicopters, artillery, other weaponry and training -- by June of next year. I said I remain skeptical, especially given Bush's declaration that a "graceful exit" is not in the cards. [Does that mean that he's for a graceless exit, or is subliminally acknowledging that we've bungled so badly that a graceful exit is pretty much impossible?]

Bush, like many intellectually incurious people, is powerfully stubborn, and seems to mistake ignoring the advice of people who know more than he does for virtue, not folly.


Michelle said...

I'm going to be a little bit ridiculous by saying... OH my gosh! you talked to Larry Diamond? I read Squandered Victory as research for a paper I wrote about democratizing Iraq, and the paper basically turned into a report on that book. I loved it.

AmericardExpress said...

It wasn't until I had been at the Register for about 10 years that it fully impressed itself upon me that if I called and said I'm so-and-so from almost any newspaper, that almost anybody in the world will talk to you. I generally find it more useful to talk to academics, think-tankers and other reputed experts than to talk to politicians, who are almost always "on" and carefully on-message. In fact, Larry Diamond is quite easy to talk to. And his book, "Squandered Victory," which I discussed with him after I read it, is really worth the time it takes to read it. It won't give you the whole story of why Iraq is such a mess, but it tells an important part of the story very well.