The Cheney Theory
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg
Eric Martin takes me to task over my assertion, based on the Washington Post coverage, that the U.S. government didn't know this was coming. He has a point. For full disclosure I should have pointed out that last week Cheney met with ISCI's leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. There has been a great deal of speculation that in exchange for letting the provincial elections law pass through the Presidency Council, Cheney agreed to give ISCI the go ahead to go to town on JAM in Basra. It has also been widely reported that a number of Iraqi Generals were talking about this operation a week ago. Both good points that throw into question whether the Bush Administration saw this coming.
Still, the reason I don't buy this theory is that the timing makes no sense whatsoever from a domestic political perspective. If there was a quid pro quo, the Bush Administration would have asked for a waiting period until after the Petraeus Crocker testimony. Why go with such a high risk operation a week before the progress report to Congress? Makes no sense. This Administration is pretty incompetent about a lot of things, but for the most part they seem to understand political timing.
At the end, Eric argues that given the Administration's not so stellar record with the truth, we shouldn't take them at their word. Fair enough. But I'd also argue that given the Administration's long history of incompetence on Iraq, it's quite possible and in fact likely, that they just completely missed this.