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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Whither Maliki?

Today's post will be speculative, but two data points over the last few days lead me to suggest that Prime Minister Maliki's government is about to fall.

The second item, appearing today in USA Today, quotes numerous Iraqi politicians to the effect that Maliki has failed to pass any critical legislation or carry out national reconciliation and that he therefore has to go. It also quotes Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman at the National Security Council, that the Bush Administration has confidence" in Maliki--just as it does, of course, in Alberto Gonzales and Paul Wolfowitz.

But the first item was in a way more interesting, coming as it did in Dana Perino's press briefing yesterday, when she made a remarkable statement about conditions in Iraq:
"We all want the Iraqis to move faster, to do more and to do it faster, in terms of their political reconciliations. But they're just not ready to do it yet."

I find it hard to believe that Perino made that statement off the cuff. It is a most unusual admission that things are not developing as we had hoped. To be sure, the surge--like the decision to bomb North Vietnam and deploy Marines in February-March 1965--has always been based on the need to change the behavior of our client government. (When the Johnson Administration adopted the war plan in early December 1964, bombing and deployments were supposed to await improvements in the South Vietnamese government, but by January Administration officials were concluding that only bombing would give the South Vietnamese the necessary encouragement to make these improvements. The same rationale was used for the surge.) Robert Gates, meanwhile, made various threatening statements towards the Iraqi government in Baghdad, and may be returning with a recommendation for a change of leadership. Time will tell.

In all the talk about the maneuvering in Washington over Iraq appropriations, I have yet to see the most obvious Democratic alternative proposed. After a veto, fund the war for another year from today, but announce that Congress simply won't fund the war at anything like the current level after that. News stories still constantly ignore that Congress, as well as the President, must act affirmatively to continue the war. The default option in the absence of agreement between the two branches is no war, not war. I believe that in the end Congress will be driven to this.


Anonymous said...

The problem with the option you suggest, that of congress simply announcing that they will not continue to fund the war after some set date, is; 1: that they will look like impotent fools if they make a threat like that and fail to go through with it; and 2: at present they don't have a majority with the guts to go through with it and they know it. The general understanding seems to be that by essentially holding the troops hostage to his receipt of unrestricted funding Bush will be able to get enough congresscritters to cave. Several democratic senators have already admitted as much.

Nur-al-Cubicle said...

Congress is awfully silent on the new war the US has ignited in Somalia...in the midst of the debacle in Iraq!!! They have _room_ for another war???

But back in Iraq, a place where the Shi'a and the Kurds control all the cards, what good would it do to jettison al-Maliki (who was, as we note, more "conciliatory" toward the Americans than al-Jafaari)? There is no possibility of a "reconciliation" government.

I also note that the Democrats are divided and, as you suggested before, Prof. Kaiser, their victory can be compared to the Dem landslide in the crisis of the Depression, but without an FDR.