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Did the Iranians Burn Chalabi? Were they trying to help us?

Today's Financial Times carried a fascinating letter by John Brady Kiesling, the U.S. diplomat who resigned eloquently during the run-up to the Iraq war.

Kielsing's letter looks like compressed version of an op-ed. It would be great to have the full-length version, because there is a lot here. In short, Kiesling suggests that the Iranians deliberately revealed Ahmed Chalabi's dual role, and in doing so, helped free the U.S. to manage the transition in Iraq without the disastrous influence of Chalabi.

...Iran's Baghdad intelligence chief incriminated Mr Chalabi as an Iranian informant, transmitting Mr Chalabi's alleged revelations via the very communications link Mr Chalabi had just told him the US could intercept.

It is safest to assume that this gaffe was deliberate: the Iranians exploited the US's allergy to Iran to neutralise a shared problem. The leak ended a disastrous 18-month stalemate during which Paul Bremer, the US administrator, had been unable to impose a coherent Iraqi reconstruction policy, because Mr Chalabi had the Washington connections to thwart most concessions to Iraqi reality.

The Chalabi fiasco underscores, paradoxically, that Iran is the US's necessary partner in Iraq. Iranians see a defanged, stable, unified Iraq as a national interest worth considerable toil and treasure - preferably the US's rather than their own - to achieve. Iranians enjoyed America's floundering in Iraq, but only up to a point. Mr Chalabi may have promised the Iranians the moon, but the Iranians knew he was no more trustworthy as their partner than as the US's.....

President George W. Bush's lack of curiosity about Saddam Hussein's Iraq proved catastrophic to all concerned.

This seems credible to me, even though it's so bizarre that you almost expect Arvin Sloane to suddenly appear as the mastermind behind all this.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on June 10, 2004 | Permalink


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See, it's not about the oil. It's about the Rambaldi artifacts.

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Posted by: GetTheRealScoop | Jun 11, 2004 1:51:26 PM

sort of vaguely related i know, but this topic reminded me of donald rumsfeld and this article below. ;-)


Posted by: kris | Jun 14, 2004 12:21:43 PM

Kiesling obviously knows the nuances of diplomacy and espionage better than me, but this seems far fetched. If you know that your sworn enemy has your code, but they don't know you know they have your code, you use it to feed disinformation, not deal a blow to someone who is seriously hampering your enemy's efforts in the neighboring state.

It just doesn't make sense to me.

Posted by: froz gobo | Jun 15, 2004 9:34:41 AM

Tobacco-Free Kids Launches Campaign to
Stop Congress’ Sweetheart Deal for Big Tobacco

Washington, DC – In response to the U.S. House of Representatives’ plan to sneak through a “sweetheart deal” for Big Tobacco by attaching it to an unrelated corporate tax bill, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has launched www.StopBigTobacco.org, a nationwide campaign calling on the U.S. Senate to insist that this plan be excluded from the final bill.
At issue is a provision of the House-passed tax bill (called the Foreign Sales Corporation, or FSC, bill) that amounts to a $10 billion, taxpayer-funded giveaway to tobacco companies. The provision was added to win votes for the controversial tax bill from tobacco-state lawmakers. It is billed as a buyout for tobacco farmers, but really amounts to a sweetheart deal for tobacco companies and a raw deal for everyone else. This plan does nothing to protect public health and reduce tobacco’s tremendous toll in health, lives and money. It makes taxpayers pay for the buyout instead of the tobacco companies, adds to the federal budget deficit and eliminates all price and production controls on tobacco, which would allow tobacco to be grown anywhere in the United States.
This House buyout shortchanges small family farmers and provides an unwarranted windfall to the tobacco companies. Tobacco companies benefit because they do not have to pay for the buyout and they end up with cheaper tobacco. The Congressional Research Service has estimated that tobacco companies will save between half a billion and two billion dollars a year under such a buyout proposal.
Visitors to www.StopBigTobacco.org can send a message to their Senators urging them to reject the House’s proposal. The campaign, which was made public last week, has already generated over 17,000 letters from www.StopBigTobacco.org to Congress from Americans who believe that Congress should protect public health, not Big Tobacco’s bottom line.
Voters know that that House buyout plan is a bad deal for them. According to a nationwide poll of voters, conducted June 11-13, 80 percent are opposed to the House tobacco buyout plan, including 67 percent who are strongly opposed. Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike are strongly opposed.
Instead of the House buyout plan, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has urged Congress to pass separate legislation that includes effective Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco products and a responsible tobacco farmer buyout that is paid by the tobacco companies, not the taxpayers.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is building a healthier future for our children by changing public attitudes and public policies regarding tobacco use. The Campaign strives to prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke. For more information, go to www.tobaccofreekids.org

Posted by: Tobacco Free Kids | Jun 22, 2004 4:53:24 PM

I stumbled across your blog while I was doing some online research. I found your discussion very thought provoking and informative. It just goes to show how our actual knowledge is governed by the press; we have to rely on media coverage of these events and then decide what to believe.

Posted by: panasianbiz | Jun 30, 2006 6:14:08 PM