Friday, September 24, 2004

Allawi's Stump Speeches

Ayad Allawi, to whom the United States Coalition Provisional Authority transferred power in Iraq on June 28, is currently in the U.S. making numerous speeches. Here's the way the President sees Allawi's visit:

"This is an important visit because the prime minister will be able to explain clearly to the American people that not only is progress being made, that we will succeed," Mr. Bush said.

"The American people have seen horrible scenes on our TV screens," he added, "and the prime minister will be able to say to them that in spite of the sacrifices being made, in spite of the fact that Iraqis are dying and U.S. troops are dying as well, that there is a will amongst the Iraqi people to succeed."

Has there ever before been a foreign leader--whether democratically elected or appointed as Allawi was--who came to the U.S. in the post-Labor Day "campaign season" to support the incumbent president's re-election campaign?

Last month in the U.K., Prime Minister Tony Blair bowed to pressure from members of the Labour Party and decided not to invite Allawi to speak at Labour's Annual Conference in Brighton next week. The Guardian noted that "former foreign secretary, Robin Cook, was among senior party figures privately urging Mr Blair not to raise tensions over Iraq by inviting someone widely seen as a protegé of the CIA and M16."

[UPDATE: This editorial in today's New York Times also addresses Allawi's visit to the United States.]