Sunday, August 19, 2007

Kouchner to Iraq

Bernard Kouchner is in Iraq on a surprise visit. The timing prompts speculation. Is it, as Le Figaro suggests, linked to the fourth anniversary of the death of Kouchner's personal friend, UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello? If you've seen the film No End in Sight (and you should, even if the chronicle of US errors in Iraq is by now familiar), you will have heard de Mello say that he was in Iraq "to listen to representatives of all political communities, without exception," and Kouchner describes his mission in identical terms.

On the other hand, one might suspect that Kouchner's presence in Iraq is linked to Sarkozy's meeting with Bush. The Petraeus-Crocker report is widely expected to say (however incredibly) that there is military progress in Iraq but no political progress. It is conceivable that Bush will seize the opportunity to "internationalize" the political side of things, and Sarkozy, who seems to want to ingratiate himself with Bush, may have offered France's services as an honest broker, or at any rate a conceivably less dishonest broker than the current "coalition." Of course there is no evidence whatsoever for my speculation. Call it a hunch about the itch to gamble when the stakes are high.

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