Sunday, January 25, 2004

We told Bush so
Fareed Zakaria, the resident pundit at Newsweek, writes about the ascendancy of Shiite Grand Ayatollah Sistani, how he has hostaged the American occupation of Iraq because of US"s lack of legitimacy in the region. Fearful that Ayatollah Sistani would declare the US an invader, the US is kowtowing to Ayatollah Sistani's demands.

Ayatollah Sistani is having an inordinate share of power now because the US unilateral invasion lacked legitimacy and is therefore in no position to antagonize Ayatollah however reasonably warranted--as in the case of the US's plan for a phased transition. (Ayatollah Sistani wants elections pronto.)

The American occupiers are now belatedly realizing the importance of multilateral action, the legitimacy that it bestows. The UN can do unpopular things without being accused of being colonizers. After dismissing the UN as irrelevant and going it alone in the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration is now courting the UN for favors. Zakaria writes:

American policymakers made two grave mistakes after the war. The first was to occupy the country with too few troops, creating a security vacuum. This image of weakness was reinforced when Washington caved in to Sistani's objections last June, junked its original transition plan and sped things up to coincide with the American elections. The second mistake was to dismiss from the start the need for allies and international institutions. As a result, Washington is now governing Iraq with neither power nor legitimacy.

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