The ability of this administration, as well as the talking (and writing) meatsticks who are of the “pass the buck at all costs” or “blame everyone else” mentality never ceases to amaze me. And now, after an illegal invasion and failed occupation which contained so many unfathomably huge tactical and logistical mistakes as well as monumental lies and dismissals of the harsh reality, here we are with a brand spanking new scapegoat: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The new cover of Newsweek proclaims “The Maliki Problem” and the corresponding article lays the blame for the current mess in Iraq – from the civil war to the political support that he and al-Sadr share to who Maliki chooses as his commander of Iraqi forces. And there are quotes from people close to the administration, opinion by the Newsweek “experts” as well as republican officials in Congress, all bemoaning and blaming Maliki for what has now been nearly four years of a long string of uninterrupted errors.
But this is the same tired finger pointing, regardless of whether Maliki is “doing all that he can” ignores many simple facts. He was put into a situation where there is no “best case scenario”. And his country’s fate is still dictated largely by the decisions made by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bremer and people who had little to no understanding of Iraq’s history or the Middle East in general.
Of course, we have seen this all before. Remember Iyad Allawi? Remember how Bush praised him back in 2004?:
Bush called Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi a strong leader who "has always been an Iraqi patriot."
And what happened with him? Well, there was the carefully orchestrated high profile visit to the US just over a month before the US election in 2004 where he proclaimed everything A-OK in Iraq, only to return to Iraq and deliver the truth to his own people:
And let’s not forget Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi – who told us here in America, during his recent visit, just how wonderfully ducky everything was turning out in Iraq, only to return home and deliver a speech to his own assembly (when he was reading his OWN script, for a change, rather than that from his White House handlers) about how grim and sobering conditions really are. All of these amped up the volume on just how bad the war is going.
So, what says Allawi now?
The former Prime Minister painted a bleak picture of Iraq, telling me “we are approaching very fast the point of no return.” He went further to say that “I think martial law is required”…and he candidly told me “I pray to God that we don’t lose, because the other alternative is going to be the prevalence of extremism and terrorism.” He described his country as “moving into [a] more lawless state of affairs.”
Allawi agreed with many Americans when he told me, “I think what is needed, really, is a complete reappraisal of the strategy” in Iraq, by the United States, by Iraq, by Iraq’s neighbors and by the international community. He described the region as “boiling really throughout” and “slipping into more chaos” and he emphasized the need for international talks. Allawi thinks that solving the problems in Iraq is going to take “a political settlement…rather than a military settlement.”
I’ll take this time to point out yet again that while Maliki is not in favor of increased US troops in Iraq, he has helped Bush out by not publicly opposing it. I’ll also take this moment to point out that if the Iraq government is legitimate and independent of US control, then the decisions made to elect their leaders, and the decisions made by such elected leaders are matters for the Iraqi people, whether we like it or not.
The things about Maliki and Iraq that none of the so-called experts seem to are, shall we say, quite numerous. When it was warned by so many parties that Iraq could very likely descend into civil war such warnings were ignored. These warnings were well before Maliki took over as Prime Minister. When hundreds of thousands less troops were sent into Iraq initially because Paul Wolfowitz was given more credence than our own Generals, that was before Maliki took over.
When Bremer disbanded the Iraqi army without consulting the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that was before Maliki took over. When the Shia shrine in Samarra was bombed in February 2006 kicking the civil war into high gear, that too was months before Maliki took over. And when the death squads started appearing in Iraq back in 2005, that too was before Maliki took over.
But it isn’t all “before Maliki took over” either. As long as this administration is hell bent on keeping and increasing US troop presence in Iraq, Maliki’s hands are tied. And his fate is tied to the biggest loser of an administration the world has seen in my lifetime. Back in late November, Bush praised Maliki’s strength:
George Bush today praised Iraq's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, as a "strong leader" and said the US would be in Iraq "so long as the government wants us there".
And while there are many instances where Bush or this administration has praised Maliki, at the same time they are stabbing him in the back. Take the Newsweek article cited above:
According to one participant, conservative Sen. Craig Thomas of Wyoming, many of the GOP senators expressed doubts that America could depend on Maliki. They cited the Shiite leader's failure to quell the sectarian violence that contributed to the deaths of more than 34,000 Iraqis in 2006, according to the United Nations, as well as nearly 600 U.S. soldiers since he took over in May. "The president expressed doubts, too," says Thomas.
Oh, so the US policy (or lack thereof), the willful ignoring of warnings or advice from the real experts at every step of the way and the responsibility that comes with these decisions are somehow the new Prime Minster’s fault? The same Prime Minister who is politically aligned with (and likely owes his life to) the man who Bush and his fellow backstabbers want Maliki to send the full force of the Iraqi army after? No offense, but are these people on crack?
Yet, this chorus is joined by Senator Voinovich:
"So much of our future in that place is in the hands of Maliki," says one Republican doubter, Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, who doesn't think the Iraqi prime minister is up to the challenge. He also worries that Maliki wants to turn Iraq into "a Shiite theocracy like they have in Iran."
It could also be that Maliki isn’t taking kindly to the words of our Secretary of State, and is turning the “your words are emboldening terrorists” line back on this administration:
Al-Maliki, whose relationship with the United States is strained, was especially upset about Rice's comment last week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when she said that al-Maliki's government is working on "borrowed time."
"Such statements give moral boosts to the terrorists and push them towards making an extra effort and making them believe that they have defeated the American administration, but I can tell you that they haven't defeated the Iraqi government," he said during a meeting with a handful of reporters.
Of course, the fact that Maliki is as close to al-Sadr as he is would lead you to think that if anyone can negotiate with al-Sadr, bring him more in line politically and try to control the violence of his militia – it would be Maliki. And you would think that this is fairly obvious and that regardless of the long string of errors by this administration which have caused this caustic situation in Iraq, that Maliki would be someone that would be needed to be treated just a wee bit better. Even with his warts, he is the best shot that Iraq currently has to not fall into a situation of complete genocide.
But alas, we are not dealing with people who can see the forest for the trees. Or even see the trees for that matter.