Monday, October 23, 2006

you can’t take it back

Saturday saw US State Department official Alberto Fernandez telling al-Jazeera that we were “witnessing failure in Iraq.” Why?

. . . because without doubt, there was arrogance and stupidity by the United States in Iraq.

But as Monday comes around, Mr. Fernandez has had a change of heart, as it were.

Upon reading the transcript of my appearance on al-Jazeera, I realized that I seriously misspoke.

It seems Fernandez only truly knows what comes out of his mouth after reading it. . . or, more likely, he got a call from his boss, Condi Rice, who told him he had made for a very difficult weekend between her and her husband the president.

Whether Fernandez just went off the reservation or is not so subtly giving voice to raging war inside the US government between the “arrogant” architects of this fiasco, over at the Pentagon, and the theoretically more diplomatic diplomats, over at State, the shockwaves sent by this previously un-famous official’s rather straightforward comments echoed around the globe all weekend.

Know why? Because it’s true.

While the bizarre retraction might save Mr. Fernandez’s bacon (at least until after the mid-term elections), it really doesn’t put the genie back in the bottle. In fact, the initial comment seems to have liberated some of the reporters in the region. For instance, The BBC’s Baghdad correspondent reported on the World Service this morning that the retraction would be met with cynicism and chuckles throughout the region. “What are we now to believe, that the US approached Iraq with humility and intelligence?”


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