Yesterday marked the 4th anniversary of Saddam Hussein's downfall. Whilst Washington, and indeed the Coalition of the Willing, might have seen that as an event to celebrate, the "news" the US received would not have been quite as welcome.
As the Washington Post reports:
"That pretty much ceded the field to Iraqi politician Ali Allawi, who gave a speech in Washington yesterday as he released his new book, "The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace." Allawi was not the most recognizable of figures; the Washington Times and his host, the National Press Club, both identified him as "Ari" Allawi, giving him a rather Jewish-sounding name for an Iraqi leader. But Allawi's somber presentation may have been the ideal way for a war-weary Washington to remember Baghdad's fall on April 9, 2003. Allawi brought grim tidings and no obvious solutions.
The book condemns the "monumental ignorance" of American war planners and the "rank amateurism and swaggering arrogance" of the occupation authority. Allawi had previously written that the Middle East is in a "death spiral" and that "another 100 years of crisis are being sown" in Iraq.
A former trade and finance minister in Iraq's post-Saddam government, Allawi describes himself as a "senior adviser" to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki; if so, Maliki probably hasn't seen Allawi's latest comments.
"In many ways, from a pure, say, engineering point of view, the running of the Saddamist state is much better than what we have now," he said yesterday. "The state is more corrupt now. It has more incompetents in more positions of authority than it ever had before. And it's doing a terrible job of managing the affairs of the country."
Nor does he have much faith in Bush's "surge" plan to pacify Baghdad with Maliki's government. "I think if things continue along the track that we have, I don't think we could expect things to improve drastically in the near term," he forecast. "We may get a reasonably stable central state, but which is unable to exercise its authority beyond maybe 60 or 70 percent of the country."
So what's the solution? "I think the time has come for the United States to take the lead, actually, in doing a U-turn," this "adviser" to Maliki announced. "And by a U-turn I mean a fundamental turnaround in thinking in terms of -- strategic thinking in terms of what's important and what's not important in the Middle East. And you have to move from this military fixation to this new architecture."