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.

2 comments:

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.