"Sophisticated Iraqis are listening closely," Iraqi national security adviser Mowaffak Al-Rubaie says in a telephone interview. "Any discussion of withdrawal worries them." Echoing this, Manhel al-Safi, who recently left his post as an aide in the prime minister's office for a job in the Foreign Ministry, says, "There's a level of fear--people in the government are afraid the Americans will leave Iraq." He adds a personal plea to Sen. Kerry: "Mr. Senator, destruction is easy; building takes a long time."NRO's Jonah Goldberg says, "Let's make this simple. John Kerry is the candidate for those who wish we hadn't gone to war in Iraq." So, raise your hand if you're voting with Sadr City.
Such fears haven't been spun out of whole cloth. As far as Iraqi elites are concerned, President Bush brought democracy to a land that knew only dictatorship. From Sen. Kerry, however, they hear no commitment to build a liberal state or, for that matter, any state. What they hear instead is a presidential aspirant who complains about "opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them down in the United States of America," even as his campaign aides dismiss Iraq's prime minister as an American "puppet."
Not surprisingly, surveys by the Iraqi Center for Research and Strategic Studies find that, whereas Mr. Bush garners the most support in the Kurdish north and from Iraq's well-educated urban elites, Mr. Kerry draws his strongest support from what the Center's Sadoun al-Dulame calls Iraq's "hottest places"--hotbeds of resistance to the U.S. A poll taken earlier this month in Baghdad, for example, finds that while President Bush would win a higher tally in New Baghdad's Christian precincts, Sen. Kerry carries Sadr City hands down. . . .
How does Sen. Kerry intend to work alongside the pro-U.S. Iraqis he denigrates at every turn? This is a practical as well as a moral question. By advancing the fiction that there's no such thing as bringing the troops home too soon and nothing to justify an adequate level of expenditure in Iraq, he's already signaled his willingness to forfeit America's obligation to rebuild the country it turned inside out.
Saturday, October 30, 2004
The Iraqi Street
Neo-liberal Lawrence Kaplan, a senior editor at the New Republic, has a good question: Who do Iraqis want to win? No slouch, Kaplan answers in the WSJ's OpinionJournal.com: