Chalabi and De Gaulle

Ahmed Chalabi is widely hated on the left and blamed for us getting into the Iraq War. Reports of his death, however, have been greatly exaggerated. When the LA Times prints a story with “Chalabi” and “power” in the title, you know that has to hurt. Of course, the story stimulated the usual slanders. Kenneth Timmerman’s book points out that INC funding went mostly to contractors chosen by the State Department and CIA and who had little interest in INC priorities. Today, Hugh Hewitt interviewed Chalabi on his radio show. Chalabi, as might be expected from the treatment he received from Paul Bremer and the US State Department has little love left for the Bush administration.

Listening to the interview driving home, I was struck by the parallel with De Gaulle in WWII. Like Chalabi, De Gaulle was hated by State Department functionaries who preferred to deal with Vichy. De Gaulle was considered an egotist with touchy pride and a sense of his own power far out of proportion to the small band of exiles he commanded. Like Chalabi, he was disdained as “a fighter from a comfortable flat in Mayfair.” When the Allies landed in North Africa, Roosevelt dismissed De Gaulle as a poseur with no real power. The Vichy officers in Morrocco hated De Gaulle and Roosevelt sought another officer to try to avoid combat with the French military in Casablanca. Admiral Darlan was conveniently available and was enlisted to deal with Vichy officers. De Gaulle was snubbed then, and later at the Casablanca Conference. His only role was to shake hands in a public photo with another Vichy officer, General Giraud. The result was an enduring hostility that need not have been. In the 1960s, De Gaulle expelled NATO from France and asserted French independence in foreign policy. Chalabi already shows a similar willingness to thwart the wishes of a nation he was prepared to be grateful to; if only we had treated him fairly. Like De Gaulle, Chalabi has shown an inconvenient ability to rise in his liberated nation and will remember his treatment.

Tags: , ,

3 Responses to “Chalabi and De Gaulle”

  1. doombuggy says:

    Could our Vietnam experience be characterized by our poor choice of who to back?

    I’m not encouraged by our civil service’s culture of who gets advancement: the politically correct, or the quiet yes men. I suppose this carries over into foreign policy.

  2. Max Singer says:

    While Chalabi may stand against some US policies in Iraq, he will not be like DeGaulle in seeing the US as a rival or in feeling any need to “punish” the US. He understands the difference between the country and the bureaucracy. He is a true and deep democrat.

  3. Interestingly, Hugh Hewitt later had his friend “Yoni” on the show and asked him about Chalabi. Yoni is convinced that Chalabi is a stalking horse for Iran. His comment to Hewitt was “The US should stay out of the MIddle East because it doesn’t know what it is doing. ” I thought that odd for an ex-Israeli officer to say but, apparently, Israel does not like Chalabi. I think he is as much a democrat as we will see in an Arab country for a while. I do think he is a free market guy and that is what Iraq badly needs. The opinion on Chalabi may simply be a reaction from a guy who is tired of dealing with any Arabs and doesn’t trust any of them. I linked to his blog so you can see.