By now it's not surprising when the Wall Street Journal's editorial page utterly contradicts news accounts in its own pages, but this week the Journal did it in spades. And it goes to the heart of the crisis in Iraq, where the Bush administration has just about handed Iraq to Iran on a silver platter.
First, on Tuesday, the Journal reported, in a page one lead story by Jay Solomon and others, that Iran is winning the game in Iraq. The article was headlined: "Iran Plays Growing Role in Iraq, Complicating Bush's Strategy." It catalogued a long list of Iranian power plays in Iraq, including media influence, private investment, arms smuggling, and more. It noted that posters of Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran adorn walls all over Iraq. It described the "growing convergence of Iran's and Iraq's religious elite," and it reported that Prime Minister Jaafari, who leads the former terrorist underground party of Shiite religious radicals and who was just re-designated by the ruling Shiite alliance to have that job once again in the so-called "permanent" government, lived in exile in Teheran.
Then today, in a rosy-scenario editorial called "The Shiite Choice," the Journal's editors delivered an extended tribute to Jaafari, saying that he has "an untainted record of courageous opposition to Saddam Hussein's regime." And it added: "Of all the Shiite alliance's conceivable choices for the post [of prime minister], Mr. Jaafari is also the least beholden to Iran. ... Mr. Jaafari and his Dawa Party don't seem dependent on Teheran and are unquestionably indigenous Iraqi patriots." It was, of course, the Dawa that was supported by Iran, first by the Shah of Iran's SAVAK intelligence service in the 1970s and then by Khomeini's intelligence service in the 1980s, and whose "opposition" to Saddam included unbridled terrorism. "Mr. Jaafari," says the Journal's editorial, "will allay Western fears of Iraq's domination by a monolithic, Iranian-linked Shiite bloc."
Well, it's true that the Shiite bloc isn't monolithic. But all of its components have ties to, and are heavily influenced by, Iran. Perhaps the Sunni bloc in Iraq and the Kurds can ameliorate the growing Iran-Iraq alliance, but I wouldn't count on it.