Strong Man

Christopher Hayes

Over the last few weeks, a dominant narrative has emerged in the press regarding the new President of Iraq, Iyad Allawi. The conventional view now is that Allawi is a strong man: not necessarily liberal, or democratic in inclination, but tough enough to stamp out the insurgency and give Iraqi's the security they so desperately want. When evaluating Allawi, it's important to keep in mind that he was originally a member of the Baath party, and by some accounts a fairly ruthless thug. He had a falling out with Saddam while he was living in London, working as an Iraqi spy. He was almost axed to death by Saddam's secret police, and after he recovered, he became a kind of exile leader, not unlike the recently indicted Ahmed Chalabi. Allawi, then, is not some morally courageous dissident who broke with Saddam's regime over its policies or brutality. This is not Vaclav Havel we're talking about: this is a guy who apparently ended up on the wrong side of an internal Baath party squabble. It's hard to imagine this is going to be the person who shephards Iraq towards a stable democratic state.

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Christopher Hayes is the host of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes. He is an editor at large at the Nation and a former senior editor of In These Times.
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