Today, two days ahead of schedule, Paul Bremer tossed the keys to Iraq to some unelected Iraqis and left town ASAP.
Early evening, I saw Norman Schwartzkopf (on "Hardball" I think) saying that this move will significantly improve the security situation in Iraq. Newsweek's Howard Fineman said later on the same program that the administration surprised everyone in part to "stay ahead" of the insurgents, implying that the violence might escalate just before the handover. After all, administration officials have been saying this all along and the press likes to parrot the official line.
Of course, Fineman says that Bush now has the UN and NATO behind his policy on Iraq, so it's hard to take him very seriously on these issues. It's almost as if the President had just made such a claim, and that Fineman was mindlessly repeating it.
Oh, wait, the President did claim something very much like this, in his interview with an Irish journalist:
Q Mr. President, I know your time is tight, can I move you on to Europe? Are you satisfied that you are getting enough help in Iraq from European countries? You have come together, you are more friendly now -- but they're not really stepping up to the plate with help, are they?That should be news in Germany, Belgium, Russia and other European countries. Polls showed overwhelming opposition, even where governments (Spain, the UK and Italy) supported the war.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think, first of all, most of Europe supported the decision in Iraq. And, really, what you're talking about is France, isn't it?"
Note that in the same interview President Bush claimed that "You've got a democracy in Pakistan," so he's clearly an unreliable source.
Anyway, we'll see whether the security condition changes on the ground in Iraq. As a political scientist might say, "that's an empirical question." For the future.
To his credit, Bremer, unlike most Americans in Iraq, traveled all over the country during his tenure -- though he had a large group of security guards attached to him.
Nonetheless, Brenner flew out of Dodge as quickly as possible. Jon Stewart had a funny bit on that on the "Daily Show."
I don't know if this really fits into this analysis, but I did want to note that last week, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz made an outrageous claim about the way Americans view Iraq security. He blamed the media!
On Tuesday, in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Wolfowitz agreed with statements by Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J., that the news media's focus on violence in Iraq has eclipsed reports of progress there.Naturally, he had to apologize pronto soon after saying that.
"Because frankly, part of our problem is a lot of the press are afraid to travel very much, so they sit in Baghdad and they publish rumors. And rumors are plentiful," Wolfowitz said.
Does anyone really believe that Iraq has changed just because Allawi has the keys, sovereignty has been "restored" and the media has been spun? The troops remain and a new American big boss will soon be "helping" to run the show. John Negroponte is the new US Ambassador to Iraq and he'll be directing the biggest American embassy in the world. Somehow, I don't think he left the position of American Ambassador to the UN for something the administration views as less important.
Two months ago, I suggested Negroponte would be the American Viceroy. Will he be facing a continued bloody insurgency?
Until the troops leave, I'm afraid so.