Wednesday, October 25, 2006

al-Maliki: Timetable My Ass! Bush: Move It! Dyer: Oops!

Iraqi Leader Disavows U.S. Timetable
BAGHDAD, Oct. 25 — Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq today distanced himself from the American notion of a time line on political measures the Iraqi government should take, and he criticized a raid carried out by American forces against the leader of a Shiite death squad.

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq held a news conference in the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad on Wednesday.

Speaking in Baghdad just hours before President Bush gave a press conference in Washington, Mr. Maliki tailored his remarks for his own domestic audience, reassuring the millions of Shiites who form his power base that he would not bend to pressure by the American government, or any other, over how to conduct Iraqi affairs.

“I want to stress that this is a government of the people’s will and no one has the right to set a timetable for it,” he said at a press conference broadcast on national television.

“This is an elected government and only the people who elected the government have the right to make time limitations or amendments,” he said.
Bush warns Iraqis that patience has limits
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush said on Wednesday that American patience over Iraq had its limits but pledged not to put unbearable pressure on the country's leaders, after a protest by Iraq's prime minister.

With less than two weeks before November 7 elections in which doubts over Iraq could cost Bush's Republicans control of the U.S. Congress, Bush sought to explain his Iraq policies to Americans and smooth over new frictions with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Worries over increasing sectarian violence in Iraq have become a top issue for American voters ahead of the elections. The concerns, accompanied by calls to withdraw U.S. troops, are driven by a mounting U.S. military death toll that reached 90 so far in October, the deadliest month for a year.

"We're pressing Iraq's leaders to take bold measures to save their country. We're making it clear that American patience is not unlimited," Bush told a White House news conference.

Even so, he added, "We will not put more pressure on the Iraqi government than it can bear."

Bush said the United States remained committed to Iraq "until the job is done," but would adjust tactics to confront a changing enemy.

He voiced qualified confidence in Maliki. "We're with him as long as he continues to make tough decisions," Bush said.
We support him as long as he does what we want him to do, no matter how tough it may be for him to sell those decisions. A ringing endorsement if ever there was one.

Who's this? No good exit strategy from Iraq for U.S.
Landlubbers usually get maritime analogies wrong. "Changing course" is not cowardice; it's the sensible thing to do if the ship is headed for the rocks.

"Cutting" (the anchor cable) "and running" (before the wind) is what you do when the storm is raging, the anchor is dragging, and the ship is being driven onto a lee shore. And only very stupid rats do not leave a sinking ship.

About four years too late, the Masters of the Universe are having second thoughts about the wisdom of the whole misbegotten enterprise in Iraq.

Washington swirls with leaks, like the secret report by Colonel Pete Devlin, the U.S. Marine Corps chief of intelligence, that U.S. troops in Anbar province, the heartland of Sunni resistance, control nothing beyond their own bases, and that the Iraqi government has no functioning institutions in the province.
Ahoy! Somebody who finally makes sense when he says "cut and run"!

It's Gwynne Dyer, of course, from the Hamilton Spectator:
Senior Republicans are seeking an exit strategy that will absolve their party from blame for the disaster that is today's Iraq.

The long-term domestic political strategy is clear: blame the Iraqis themselves.

William Buckley, conservative editor of the National Review, is already writing things like "our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000." We did our best for them, but they let us down.

That argument may well persuade U.S. voters in the long run, because they have never had much knowledge of Iraq, nor much interest in it.
The SwissInfo article continues this way:
Maliki also contradicted a U.S. military statement which said Wednesday's Iraqi-U.S. ground and air assault on the crowded Sadr City slum district of Baghdad, in which four people were killed, had been authorised by his government.

"We will be seeking an explanation from the multinational forces to avoid a repetition of what happened without our cooperation in advance," Maliki said.
"This notion of a fixed timetable of withdrawal, in my judgement, means defeat. We can't leave until the job is done," Bush said. He said Maliki was right that no outside power could force him into actions.
Yeah, right!
Much of the anger in Sadr City over Wednesday's raid was directed at the prime minister.

"Where is Maliki? Where is his freedom?," said a man lying on a stretcher in the hospital.

Thousands of men chanting "No to America" choked the streets in a mourning cortege that accompanied four vehicles bearing the coffins of the dead to burial in the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf, south of the capital.
The NYT piece goes on to say:
As the violence here increases and midterm elections in the United States near, Mr. Maliki has come under pressure from the Bush administration to step up efforts to control the killing. His task is personally daunting, in large part because the very forces that elevated him to power - religious Shiite parties with their own militias - are complicit in the killing.

His remarks today were a public display of that tension. While acknowledging the problems presented by militias and death squads - groups of men with gun that American military officials say are some of the primary culprits in the new phase of bloodletting here - Mr. Maliki said pointedly that the main factor driving the violence was insurgents and militant fighters, largely Sunni, who have been bombing for years.

“Saddamists and terrorist groups are responsible for what is going on this country,” he said. “We should contain the reactions,” he added, in a reference to Shiite revenge.
Au contraire, mon ami! Americans are responsible for all of what is going on.

They invaded the country on false pretexts, disbanded the army, ruined the infrastructure while allowing every treasure trove to be looted save the oilfields, contaminated the country -- the entire region -- the entire world! -- with their vile weapon of mass destruction: depleted uranium, and now they have the nerve to get their puppet to say "Saddamists and terrorist groups are responsible for what is going on this country"! Irony fit to make your head implode, unless you count the USA as a terrorist group.

Which of course it is. As planned!

Last words to Gwynne Dyer:
As Vice-President Dick Cheney told Time magazine this month: "I know what the president thinks. I know what I think. And we're not looking for an exit strategy. We're looking for victory."

What they really need is a strongman who could hold Iraq together and support their policies in the region. Somebody like Saddam Hussein, perhaps, but Washington lost control of him long ago, and besides he's due to hang later this year.

So it may yet come to the Famous Final Scene, with people scrambling onto helicopters from the roofs of the Green Zone in Baghdad.