I’m not a Kofi Annan fan. I’ve always been disgusted with how the UN Secretary General handled the Rwanda crisis while working at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (hint: he didn’t handle it, choosing instead to look the other way).
But he’s playing this one well. In a joint statement with the President today, Annan basically said that everything’s still on the table. Maybe the Iraqis will have their provisional government by 1 July, maybe not. Maybe elections will be held, maybe not. Who knows? We don’t–that’s up to the Iraqis.
Meanwhile, you could whiff the panic in the air when White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler–I mean, Scott McClellan (ooooooops!)–briefed the media hordes. “The June 30th deadline is something that was agreed to,” said McClellan. Right. It was agreed to–between the CPA and the Governing Council. The UN had nothing to do with that, and Annan is right to ignore that date.
But that date won’t be ignored by the Administration, because the longer we run Iraq, and more body bags pile up, the harder it becomes to pretend that first, we had any kind of viable plan to run the place after the war, and second, the harder it becomes to say that we’re being successful in Iraq.
I mean–using those World War II analogies that Bush apologists (like Glenn Reynolds) like using–how many times did Allied Military HQ in Tokyo and Berlin get bombed after the war?
To me, success in Iraq isn’t defined by a date, or even by an exit; it’s defined by the permanence of liberal democratic institutions that protect everyone. That the Administration thinks otherwise shows me that its vaunted Bush Doctrine isn’t a doctrine; it’s a pose.