As Iraq’s election decends from manipulation to thuggery to outright brutality, assassinations, and bombings, it’s hard to know what reaction to have to Vice President Biden’s comment that Iraq is a great triumph for the Obama administration.
My own reaction: sadness and outrage.
Appearing on the CNN program hosted by the always insipid Larry King, Biden said:
"I am very optimistic about — about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration. You’re going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You’re going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government.
"I spent — I’ve been there 17 times now. I go about every two months — three months. I know every one of the major players in all the segments of that society. It’s impressed me. I’ve been impressed how they have been deciding to use the political process rather than guns to settle their differences."
You can read the complete transcript of Biden’s comments here.
That is not to say that blustery Vice President Cheney’s comments are correct. Cheney’s comments, not surprisingly, are even more outrageous. The ex-veep wants the credit for the sterling democracy that Iraq is today, failing to mention that Iraq is descending into an abyss of stolen and rigged elections, renewed violence, and possibly much worse. That doesn’t faze Cheney:
"If they’re going to take credit for it, fair enough, for what they’ve done while they’re there. But it ought to go with a healthy dose of ‘thank you, George Bush’ up front and a recognition that some of their early recommendations, with respect to prosecuting that war, were just dead wrong. If they had had their way, if we’d followed the policies they’d pursued from the outset or advocated from the outset, Saddam Hussein would still be in power in Baghdad today."
Well. Perhaps Cheney is right that Saddam might still be in power. But many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis would be alive, along with 4,000 dead Americans. Iraq would have a functioning government and an expanding economy, and Iran would not have infiltrated nearly all of Iraq’s political, economic, and military institutions. And the United States would be at least one trillion dollars richer. The price of oil might be significantly lower, too.
As for Iraq, well, the March 7 elections look like they are going to follow in the pattern of Iran’s and Afghanistan’s, i.e., rigged. The debate over the banning of 500-plus candidates by an unelected panel headed by an Iran-linked terrorist, Ali al-Lami, is apparently over, and nearly all of the candidates have been barred from running. Among those barred are Saleh al-Mutlaq and Dhafir al-Ani, the No. 2 and No. 3 candidates in the main opposition bloc, the Iraqi Nationalist Movement, which is led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.