It Doesn’t Matter What Maliki Says

President Bush is all charged up because Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki has had a ‘sea-change,’ in the president’s words, on his
determination to fight insurgents. If it has indeed been
a sea change, the foot-dragging Iraqi minister must have been off on a
Caribbean vacation when no one was looking.

President Bush is all charged up because Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki has had a ‘sea-change,’ in the president’s words, on his
determination to fight insurgents. If it has indeed been
a sea change, the foot-dragging Iraqi minister must have been off on a
Caribbean vacation when no one was looking. His countenance these days
is far more sea-sick, the pallor of a man desperate to step off the
plunging decks of Iraqi politics.

If we are sufficiently and accurately leaked and primed and forewarned about tomorrow’s speech before the nation, it’s going to be different this time. We learned from our mistakes and the Iraqi government has a new backbone, with which it is presumably shrugging-off centuries-old traditions of back-stabbing and intrigue.

Not plausible, George. Not even remotely believable.

Somehow the president has contrived to lump the 70% who don’t think
he knows what he is doing into the collective ‘we’ who have learned.
Personally, it seems, he has learned nothing. Personally, his record is
stuck in the same groove and, in the place of the desperate search for
solutions we thought he was busy with down at the ranch, he is
presenting his desperate new face on the same old same-old.

Maliki will thrash the warlords with his indomitable army,
even though the main warlord in question is cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and
his Mahdi Army. They are the largest, the best funded and best equipped
of the various armed factions. They have twice fought U.S. Marines to a
sulky standstill. Maliki will overcome the fact that 2 million
of Baghdad’s 6.5 million inhabitants are such rabid supporters of Sadr
that their slum ghetto is named Sadr City. He will clobber
these insurgent scum, even though he dares not leave the American held
Green Zone to speak with, mingle among or even associate with his
fellow Iraqis.

All that thrashing, overcoming and clobbering has been promised to George by secure telephone–the only thing left in Iraq that is secure.

Maliki will deal unmercifully with Sadr, even though the cleric outright controls 32 democratically elected
seats in parliament and a third of the Baghdad population. The only
reason Maliki is still standing as Prime Minister (although that may be
short-lived) is because he has systematically avoided any confrontation with al-Sadr. Mr. Maliki will sweep to victory
where no man and no army has before, on the wings of a military made up
of every-man-for-himself, confused by cross-allegiances and complicated
with tribal obligation. This is the pillar upon which rests the argument for a ‘surge’ in U.S. forces.

Hell of a plan, George.

Phase two (after the miracle of phase one has been achieved) involves bribing Iraqis not to kill each other
with the promise of jobs. They will be busily reconstructing what the
world’s greatest military power was unable to reconstruct, due to
unexpected and embarrassing contingencies such as being shot, hanged in
effigy and dragged through the streets. Phase two will prevail, we are asked to believe, because certainly Iraqis will not murder, kidnap or otherwise terrorize other Iraqis, busily climbing telephone poles, patching electric substations or repairing water pipes.

Earth, calling George Bush:

there are factors out there and these factors do not share your
eloquent (or Maliki’s forced) vision of a democratic beacon, shining
through the muck and turmoil of the Arabian Middle East. Those factors want the booty for themselves.

The Shiite majority in Iraq has waited three times as long as the Democrats in Congress, to take back power. And, like
those American Democrats, the Shiites are damned well going to get
theirs now, while the getting is good. What is there about that
political equation that you don’t understand? Maybe Karl Rove can
explain it to you before more American troops and Iraqi civilians die
for your misunderstanding.

You’re the world’s most prominent and powerful politician, George. The
sad fact is you don’t understand politics and misread your base
(however the hell you and Karl define it). You given (as you have been given
everything in your life) an apex of popularity that included a
world-wide willingness (even in the Islamic world) to cooperate after
9-11. You just plain pissed it away in 74 months. There’s no other word for it.

You are the first president to dip his toe into pre-emptive war.
Having set that dangerous principle, you’ve taken the world’s most
powerful nation and subjected it to ridicule, military impotence and
the most wild-eyed conspiracy theories since the days of Senator Joseph

Learning absolutely nothing from that, you’ve lost control of your
party, set back ‘conservatism’ for the foreseeable future, bankrupted
the nation monetarily and philosophically, nearly destroyed the
military and become a pariah to 7 out of 10 of your fellow citizens.
Who knows what may be added to that sad list in the remaining 24 months
of your term?

Like a man gambling someone else’s money, you insist on
doubling-down a losing hand. Tomorrow evening you will try to explain
that system with which you hope to beat the house. The media will
stroke their chins, because the media no longer has the staff-time,
money, interest or even minimal sense of responsibility to challenge
you. That hope expired in the flash of light that was the Nixon
reportage and has not been seen these intervening thirty years.

One can only hope this newly elected, self-interested and shaky
Democratic congress will have sufficient courage and sense of history
to stop you.
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