Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the time to greet Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi at 1150 17th Street, NW in Washington, D.C. A couple of posts below, I have suggested that a citizen’s arrest might very well be in order for this duplicitous intel swindler who has undermined America’s interests and helped cause thousands of deaths among Iraqis as well as among American, British and other forces.
The event is full. But lots of press will be on the street asking YOU for YOUR VIEWS about this character. Be sure to give DPM Chalabi my personal message that I hope his trip to Washington and New York proves to be a miserable experience.
Not everyone can make it tomorrow — so those of you in Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, Camden, Pittsburgh, Albany, Bangor, Portsmouth, and the rest of the country who have time and an air ticket or car handy — you can greet Ahmad Chalabi in NEW YORK on FRIDAY AFTERNOON.
Chalabi will be speaking at the members-only Council on Foreign Realtions at The Harold Pratt House at 58 East 68th Street.
This is another chance for American soldiers and other citizens to show up and greet Chalabi and give him a bit of their thinking on this whole Iraq escapade. I think supporters and detractors should go. Show him what heterodoxy and political diversity mean — and let him know that most of the country is angry at what has happened and wants to know more about his role in conspiring to hype and fabricate intelligence about an Iraqi nuclear weapons program that did not exist.
CFR members will show up just before 3:45 for coffee and tea — followed by Chalabi speaking at 4 p.m. I suggest 3 p.m. would be a great time to greet Chalabi in New York. The date is Friday, 11 November — this week.
If he sneaks in early, don’t worry, he’ll be exiting at 5 p.m. and you can share your thoughts — loudly — then.
Johns Hopkins SAIS Professor Fouad Ajami will preside at the meeting. I only wish CFR President Richard Haass was going to chair the meeting as I know Haass would make the event “real.”
Haass is demonstrating some real magnanimity by hosting Chalabi because I’d bet that there is no love lost between Richard Haass and Chalabi. Haass says publicly that the “Iraq War was a war of choice” for the U.S. — and that means to a realist like Haass that we had other options that we should have considered. Chalabi was part of the ‘cabal’ that took this nation to war.
I don’t have anything against Ajami. He’s intellectually pro-war and I differ with him on that, but these are differences that can be debated — but I do think that Ajami should have recused himself as Chairman of this event.
The CFR should be a place for honest discourse and exchange — and perhaps that will happen with the audience — though usually the Chair of the event tries to “protect” the speaker and buffer that individual from the terrain he or she is entering.
Chalabi and Ajami are close pals according to this clip:
In the shifting landscape of Iraqi politics, holding onto power is a full-time job that leaves Chalabi unable to pursue his many intellectual interests. His Lebanese wife and their four children live mostly outside of Iraq, and his taxing schedule seldom permits travel abroad.
In the past week, however, Chalabi entertained a houseguest: the Lebanese-born scholar Fouad Ajami, a pariah among many Arab intellectuals for his cozy relationship with Israel and the United States. Ajami, director of Middle Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, had accompanied Chalabi on the solemn trip to Musayyib.
Over a traditional Iraqi meal of cinnamon-spiced rice and okra stew later that evening, the like-minded men skewered their mutual critics, lambasting an array of self-proclaimed Iraq experts, the Arab intelligentsia, famous journalists and Washington lawmakers. After dinner, Ajami and Chalabi’s aides, exhausted by the grueling day, sank into plush chairs.
Chalabi disappeared for a moment to swap his dusty suit from the bombing tour for a crisp navy blazer. He said good night to his guests and set off for a Cabinet meeting. “We’ll rest now,” said Qanbar, one of Chalabi’s closest aides. “But he’ll keep going until midnight.”
Before Ajami left town, Chalabi did manage to carve out a leisurely summer day at the picturesque, poolside Baghdad estate built by his father in 1934. They lounged in a room where the television was tuned to coverage of Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Beirut, and a boxed set of “The Sopranos” sat on a shelf. The men discussed authors and debated Arab contributions to science as Moroccan folk music, Palestinian rap and Lebanese pop boomed from a stereo.
Chalabi’s nephew, the finance minister, joined them for lunch.
It’s basically ok for Ajami to chair the Chalabi event. I have certainly hosted friends for public speeches before. However, Haass would be far better. This is not a normal CFR event; it’s very high profile — and Chalabi owes America an explanation for the nuke WMD fabrications, for the Iran spies he nurtured and nurtures, and for the mountains of missing money that many believe his gang took out of the pockets of the negligent Coalition Provisional Authority.
One hopes that CFR members plan to grill him — and I hear that a few are sharpening their questions and prods.
But for those New Yorkers who want to show him what an angry democracy that wants answers looks like — you have a chance at 3 p.m. and then 5 p.m. — entry and exit — in New York on Friday afternoon.
The rest of you — tomorrow, 2 p.m. — 1150 17th M Street, NW — Washington, D.C.
— Steve Clemons