Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy

David Ignatius is psyched:

Talk about stabilizing Iraq has mostly been just that -- a wish list that has melted in the furnace of the Iraqi insurgency. The practical steps Allawi described Tuesday are just a beginning. But I feel confident, after many visits to this country since the war began, that this is a direction most Iraqis want to move.

And what are these steps that nice Mr. Allawi is taking?

The conversation was his clearest public explanation yet of how he hopes to work with the internal opposition, and with neighboring governments such as Syria and Iran, to reduce the chaos plaguing his country. Since becoming prime minister last month, Allawi has projected an image of a burly ex-Baathist who is tough enough to manage this unruly country. Among the dozen or so Iraqis I've queried about him, most expressed the hope that, as one man put it, "he's not going to be intimidated by anyone." Allawi said his secret contacts with "fringes of the resistance" took place at various locations outside the protected Green Zone in Baghdad, including at his own house. He said the meetings had included some former officers of the Special Republican Guard, some hard-line supporters of Saddam Hussein and some Islamist radicals.

Ah yes, the ex-Baath CIA asset works together with Syria, Iran, the Special Republican Guard, and "some Islamist radicals" to bring democracy to Iraq. Sounds like a neat buddy movie. And what happened to Kenan Makiya, the Great Brown Hope of Middle East liberalization? Well, let's not talk about that. . . .

UPDATE: Aha, Eli Lake makes the case more substantively. And I think it was his birthday recently.