No one can take greater credit for conning the United States into invading Iraq than Ahmad Chalabi, the scoundrel who twisted data, recruited expert liars and made up horror stories tailored to fit the prejudices of a cabal of influential neo-conservatives bent on toppling Saddam Hussein by whatever means and for whatever rationale. And after America made a hash of the Middle East at the cost of thousands of lives and a trillion dollars, Chalabi tried to become the leader of the riven country by shamelessly capitalizing on the chaos.
Chalabi died the other day at 71, and although this is welcome news, it’s too bad he croaked from heart failure instead of stepping on an IED. Chalabi’s mischief goes back at least a couple decades when he was instrumental in marshalling a bunch of chicken-hawk douche-bags (Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Dick Cheney, Douglas Feith aka. “the stupidest fucking guy on the face of the planet” according to General Tommy Franks) into escorting the Iraq Liberation Act through Congress in 1998. That act made it the declared policy of the U.S. to topple Saddam; no wonder the Bush Administration gleefully jumped on the 9/11 attacks to go after him. Bush’s cabinet and his close advisors had already laid the groundwork well in advance, just waiting for a whiff of a reason to go into the Iraq cauldron.
After conflating 9/11 and Saddam Hussein, those who wanted to exact revenge for the dictator’s bad behavior in the early 1990s needed some rationale for a full-scale invasion and regime-change coup. Enter the smarmy Chalabi. He offered what the neo-cons badly wanted: “evidence” that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction developed from a vast network of nuclear, chemical and biological programs. Forget that the testimony from Chalabi’s “expert” Iraqi National Congress witnesses were completely non-credible, and worse, on the CIA payroll – the fanciful tales they wove salved the pliable minds of the neo-cons like an opioid.
Most memorable from that sordid affair was the spectacle of Secretary of State Colin Powell at the United Nations presenting the evidence for going to war – all of it based on bullshit stories gleaned from Chalabi’s stable of prevaricators. The most famous of them all was Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabil, the brother of a Chalabi aide, and a guy who earned the codename “Curveball” from the CIA. Despite a moniker that would suggest untrustworthiness, the leadership of the most powerful country in the world took his story to the bank. Powell held up a vial of baby powder and showed a picture of a falafel truck – and the U.S. invaded Iraq.
According to the New York Times , “In 2010, after a disputed parliamentary election that threatened to end the reign of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, Mr. Chalabi led an effort to purge Sunni politicians from positions of authority. By doing so, he helped Mr. Maliki consolidate power and alienated Sunnis — two factors that set the stage for the renaissance of the Sunni insurgency that later metastasized into the Islamic State.” So, again, thank you Ahmad Chalabi. Enjoy Hell, you fucker.
(Side note: Lest you think the blog is unfairly harsh to the men who advised George W. Bush, consider the observations of his father, George H. W. Bush. In a forthcoming biography of the 41st president, “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush” by Jon Meacham, the elder Bush has some tart words for Cheney and his evil mentor, Donald Rumsfeld. On Rumsfeld: “I think he served the president badly. I don’t like what he did, and I think it hurt the president having his iron-ass view of everything. I’ve never been that close to him anyway. There’s a lack of humility, a lack of seeing what the other guy thinks. He’s more kick ass and take names, take numbers. I think he paid a price for that. Rumsfeld was an arrogant fellow and self-assured, swagger.” As for Mr. Five Deferments Dick Cheney, G.H.W Bush says he built “his own empire” and asserted too much “hard-line” influence within GWB’s White House in pushing for the use of force around the world.)
A couple weeks ago, a strange thread trended on Twitter: “If you could go back and kill Hitler as a baby, would you do it?” I wonder if a similar meme would get traction if “Hitler” were substituted with “Chalabi”? Maybe so, if enough mothers and brothers and friends of dead and maimed Iraqi War veterans knew Chalabi was directly responsible for their devastation.