August 27, 2007

Maliki Emotes

''There are American officials who consider Iraq as if it were one of their villages, for example Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin. They should come to their senses."

--Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, speaking today.

Oh my. When Haley Barbour and Hillary Clinton are singing from the same song-sheet, one cannot help but grow ever more concerned the Washington-Baghdad honeymoon is coming to an inglorious end (by Baghdad, I mean the Iraqi leaders cloistered in the Green Zone, of course). Why, soon we might be treating Maliki's 'freely elected' Government like others in the region that have come to power of late via the ballot-box, but were deemed undesirable and shunned (though not just yet, as the President recently declared Maliki a "good guy", a moniker not quite as affectionate as 'Turd Blossom', but still...)

Meantime, more from Maliki:

"Concerning American raids on Shula and Sadr City, there were big mistakes committed in these operations. The terrorist himself should be targeted not his family."

The Shi'a of Iraq increasingly view us, no longer as liberators, but as occupiers. Yes, there was brief euphoria among many Shi'a after Saddam was toppled, given the parade of horribles the savage dictator had visited on them for decades. This good will mostly evaporated, however, amidst the fiasco of the Rumsfeldian "stuff happens" chapter, as the anarchic chaos unleashed left millions of Iraqis fearing desperately for their security ("freedom is messy"!).

Now, fast forward a couple more years, as we try to hold Shi'a 'crude majoritarianism' at bay, and increasingly cozy up with Sunni tribal elements. We can guess how this is going to end, can't we? Matters are almost certain to get much nastier between U.S. forces and the majority Shi'a of Iraq. And that, putting it gently, can't be good news for the U.S. I mean, just ask the IDF how it felt patrolling Gaza back in the day? They were hated, and the occupied wished for one thing and one thing only: for the occupier to leave. The same will increasingly apply to U.S. GI's in places like Sadr City, as it has already to the British in Basra.

The Iraq project, alas, looks increasingly unsalvageable, whatever short-term, localized security improvements arguably achieved by the much ballyhooed 'surge'. We've unleashed historical forces beyond our control, and of which we know little, ultimately. The national security team at the helm is mediocre, at best (though Steve Clemons has been more optimistic on this score, at least on occasion). We're been unable to adopt a serious regional approach a la Baker-Hamilton, and within Iraq, we are floundering trying to balance myriad Iraqi factions on the political side, who have little appetite to drop their maximalist demands at this (relatively early, at least vis-a-vis Iraq time) juncture. In my view, therefore, it is time to draw-down our involvement in this terribly costly adventure, flawed from its very conception by the false WMD pretenses, executed in criminally negligent fashion and with course corrections coming far too late, with some of them regardless of dubious merit (for instance, arming all-Sunni militias).

Yes, it is time to start coming home, not in a wild panic, but with purposeful deliberativeness. After all, we have other tools in our quiver, apart from bleeding American lives in seeming perpetuity in Iraq, to prevent a full-scale genocide there, or the emergence of a significant al-Qaeda sanctuary, or the regionalization of the conflict. Indeed, cogent arguments can me made that having troops 'over the horizon' or located near the borders might act as better prophylactic to prevent the conflict spreading to neighboring countries, while still affording requisite forces in the neighborhood to pressure al-Qaeda as necessary (indeed, freeing up some forces for Afghanistan). As for preventing a genocide, we've done rather shabbily protecting innocent Iraqi life to date, and it is very likely that population transfers born of 'ethnic cleansing' fears will continue to take place whether we stay or leave. For instance, the rate of internally displaced hasn't slowed since the surge began, indeed reports indicate the contrary. These movements are occuring because Iraqis feel compelled to flee towards areas controlled by sectarian kin. They know, sooner or later, that we will leave, and so are planning for that day. It is high time we start doing the same.

Posted by Gregory at August 27, 2007 01:18 AM

I have been reading you for a while, but first time actually commenting. Usually, you leave little left.

I think you are correct. It is not the Sunni factions we need to fear, nor al Qaeda in Iraq. It is the various Shi'ia factions. I am slowling coming to the conclusion that the best scenario for the US is for Sadr to take over control of the government, must as he has been demonized. He was, however, in many ways, a creation of the US bungling. He gained in influence by providing services to his people when we couldn't.

And probably the biggest advantage for us is that he is extremely nationalistic and is probably the least likely to create an Iraq that is really just a puppet state of Iran. He won't be a friend of ours, but then Iraq won't be no matter who is in charge, at least nt for a generation. He will probably not, however, be an implacable enemy, nor ad aider and abetter of either Iran or the terrorist groups in the area.

Posted by: john at August 27, 2007 01:37 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You saying the US needs to fear the Shiites?

Calm down. Take several steps back. Think fresh. al Qaeda is *the enemy* of the US. Yes, al Qaeda. The one that perpetrated 9/11. The one supported by the Saudi wahhabis. The one whose fountainhead is the sunni theology and establishment.

The US needs to open a Nixon-like breakthrough in relations with China. Shia are the natural allies of theb US -- not would-be puppets, but natural allies. Befriend them. Show them respect. Leave them alone in Iraq and Iran. And when they take proper charge of Iraq, rejoice. Because in the fight against sunnis, they are our allies.

Posted by: Pope Derelict I at August 27, 2007 02:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The US needs to open a Nixon-like breakthrough in relations with Iran (not China).

Posted by: Pope Derelict I at August 27, 2007 02:07 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

the quickest way to get the shia to "take charge" in iraq would be for the u.s. to leave completely.

indeed, shia domination will soon follow on our departure, whether we leave in the next six-twelve months or six-twelve years. if you care about saving american lives, then you'd probably rather do it sooner. if you don't mind thousands more getting killed to attain the same outcome, then you'd probably rather push it past the end of bush's term.

so, can we assume you are advocating a moderately expeditious u.s. withdrawal?

Posted by: kid bitzer at August 27, 2007 02:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The people who brought us this war never cared one whit for the lives of Iraqis. Their crocodile tears over the genocide that could result from withdrawal is a cover for their diasppointment that the rape of the public fisc might be drawing to an end.

This episode was a tragedy.

Only impeachment of the architects and rendering to international criminal tribunals can restore any degree of American presitge.

Posted by: Barry E. at August 27, 2007 02:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Robert McFarlane in the OpinionJournal, 'A Fatwa Against Violence'. I told you so.

In Sistani We Trust.

Posted by: kim at August 27, 2007 11:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bush will double down his bet. Given his track record it will prove irresistible to him. Its the 'in your face' touch that he loves. He will attack Iran. The farce enters act 4.

Posted by: jonst at August 27, 2007 11:59 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink should have read: "Bush will double down OUR bet"

Posted by: jonst at August 27, 2007 12:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Given this administration, the tools likely are in the quiver and the arrows are held in Cheney's blind trust, with the Haliburton stock.

Posted by: Appaled Moderate at August 27, 2007 04:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I second: "The people who brought us this war never cared one whit for the lives of Iraqis. Their crocodile tears over the genocide that could result from withdrawal is a cover for their diasppointment that the rape of the public fisc might be drawing to an end."

I've always suspected that the "success" of the Iraqi government was secondary to our control of selected parts of Iraq. I don't think we're ever withdrawing completely. That's what Bushco doesn't want to say. We have no intention of leaving. And the Iraqis we're no doubt paying off don't want us to leave, either, though they don't dare say so publicly. Basically, Iraq is just a protectorate now. We should just acknowledge that. At least it would be honest. We should put it on our maps along with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. We could package adventure tours for all those rich assholes who think visiting war zones for vacation is manly, like how Nepal charges everyone a fee to climb Everest. That Bear Grylls guy could go to the Sunni Triangle with only a compass and a knife. Must see TV.

If we feel the need to assess the success of our war/occupation/liberation/whatever in Iraq, I think we should figure out the elapsed time between the Iraqis saying, "Yay! Saddam is gone!" to "I wish Saddam was running things again." Not sure what the baseline should be. Our occupation of post WW2 Japan? Postwar Germany? Us in Afghanistan? The British in the Falklands? I'm asking...

Posted by: LL at August 27, 2007 07:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

People are just now noticing we're occupying a nation that did nothing to deserve this?


Posted by: Cheryl at August 27, 2007 08:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Iraq is not very much like Puerto Rico, at least at the present. Iraq is far more belligerently multiethnic and multicultural, and already is in flames and fire. Furthermore, Iraqi people have a lot more hatred towards the US government than Puertorican people.

But, of course, I'm guilty of treating something you said probably more as a joke, as if it were entirely straight. Sorry about that.

Posted by: Jose Maria at August 27, 2007 10:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yeah, it was mostly a joke (like our foreign policy), but kinda not.

Posted by: LL at August 27, 2007 10:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Don't forget about Alberto Gonzalez, the legal genius behind this administration's constant violation of our rights:
They violate the 1st Amendment by opening mail, caging demonstrators and banning books like "America Deceived" from Amazon.
They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns during Katrina.
They violate the 4th Amendment by conducting warrant-less wiretaps.
They violate the 5th and 6th Amendment by suspending habeas corpus.
They violate the 8th Amendment by torturing.
They violate the entire Constitution by starting 2 illegal wars based on lies and on behalf of a foriegn gov't.
Support Dr. Ron Paul and save this country.
Last link (unless Google Books caves to the gov't and drops the title):
America Deceived (book)

Posted by: Norman at August 27, 2007 11:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.

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