Will Khalilzad Save the Day?

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There’s an interesting article in the Los Angeles Times today about soon-to-be-ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad’s secret plan to save Iraq. Khalilzad did a tremendous job in Afghanistan, so there’s some reason for optimism here, but it’s very much worth noting that one of the reasons he was so effective in Afghanistan was that Hamid Karzai—who is, apparently, exceedingly indecisive—needed someone to run his life for him, and found Khalilzad. Indeed, judging from Jon Lee Anderson’s latest and not-online New Yorker article on Karzai, it seems the Afghanistan president couldn’t do very much without Khalilzad holding his hand, which may have been one of the reasons why the latter needed to be moved out of the country. (According to Anderson, it got to the point where Khalilzad was the practically the guy removing regional governors from their posts.)

Meanwhile, the current Iraqi prime minister, Ibrahim Jaaferi, also appears fairly indecisive, but it’s pretty unlikely that he’s going to fling himself into Khalilzad’s arms at the first sign of trouble. The main task, it seems, will be for the new ambassador to smooth over any tension between the U.S. military and Jaaferi’s government, which understandably tends to get upset that it doesn’t get to act like a sovereign nation. (Although, as Spencer Ackerman writes, the Jaaferi government is probably going to have to pretend to hate the occupation in order to give itself political cover for keeping the United States in the country.) Nevertheless, that’s a relatively minor point. On more substantial issues—bringing the Sunni minority into the political process, for instance—it’s not clear that Khalilzad will have the same sway in Iraq as he did in Afghanistan. At this point there’s not a whole lot we can force the Shiite government to do.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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