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View Full Version : Int'l Issues What should we make of Maliki's apparent endorsement of Obama's withdrawal plan?


patteeu
07-24-2008, 11:55 AM
Not much IMO. Actions will speak louder than words in the end. As Max Boot points out, Maliki's actions and his words have been at odds on several previous occasions. And he also points out some interesting statements from leaders in the Iraqi military.

Behind Maliki's Games (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/22/AR2008072202550.html)

By Max Boot
Wednesday, July 23, 2008; Page A15

There is some irony in the fact that Democrats, after years of deriding Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as a hopeless bungler and conniving Shiite sectarian, are now treating as sacrosanct his suggestion that Iraq will be ready to assume responsibility for its own security by 2010. Naturally this is because his position seems to support that of Barack Obama.

A little skepticism is in order here. The prime minister has political motives for what he's saying -- whatever that is. An anonymous Iraqi official told the state-owned Al-Sabah newspaper, "Maliki thinks that Obama is most likely to win in the presidential election" and that "he's got to take preemptive steps before Obama gets to the White House." By smoothing Obama's maiden voyage abroad as the Democratic nominee, Maliki may figure that he will collect chits that he can call in later.

Giving the Iraqi prime minister an added motive to posture about troop withdrawals, even while he explicitly eschews binding timelines, is that he is engaged in contentious status-of-forces negotiations with the United States. He may figure that threatening to boot us out gives him more leverage over our troops. Beyond the negotiations, there is the imperative of Iraq's provincial elections, supposed to take place this year. Maliki no doubt expects that his Dawa party will reap political benefits from appearing to stand up to the Americans.
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This is part of a pattern for Maliki, who, though he won office and has stayed alive (literally and politically) with American support, has hardly been an unwavering friend of the United States -- at least in public. Although he was an opponent of the Saddam Hussein regime, he was not a proponent of the U.S.-led invasion. Having spent long years of exile in Syria and Iran, he has had to overcome deeply ingrained suspicions of the United States.

Keep in mind also that Maliki has no military experience and that he has been trapped in the Green Zone, relatively isolated from day-to-day life. For these reasons, he has been a consistent font of misguided predictions about how quickly U.S. forces could leave.

In May 2006, shortly after becoming prime minister, he claimed, "Our forces are capable of taking over the security in all Iraqi provinces within a year and a half."

In October 2006, when violence was spinning out of control, Maliki declared that it would be "only a matter of months" before his security forces could "take over the security portfolio entirely and keep some multinational forces only in a supporting role."

President Bush wisely ignored Maliki. Instead of withdrawing U.S. troops, he sent more. The prime minister wasn't happy. On Dec. 15, 2006, the Wall Street Journal reported, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has flatly told Gen. George Casey, the top American military commander in Iraq, that he doesn't want more U.S. personnel deployed to the country, according to U.S. military officials." When the surge went ahead anyway, Maliki gave it an endorsement described in news accounts as "lukewarm."

In January 2007, with the surge just starting, Maliki predicted "that within three to six months our need for the American troops will dramatically go down." In April 2007, when most of Baghdad was still out of control, the prime minister said that Iraqi forces would assume control of security in every province by the end of the year.

Even now, when the success of the surge is undeniable, Maliki won't give U.S. troops their due. In the famous interview with Der Spiegel last weekend, he was asked why Iraq has become more peaceful. He mentioned "many factors," including "the political rapprochement we have managed to achieve," "the progress being made by our security forces," "the deep sense of abhorrence with which the population has reacted to the atrocities of al-Qaida and the militias," and "the economic recovery." No mention of the surge.

To his credit, although he has postured as a fierce nationalist in public, Maliki has often accommodated American concerns in private. And, despite saying that Iraq doesn't need many U.S. troops, he has acquiesced to their presence.

But Maliki's public utterances do not provide a reliable guide as to when it will be safe to pull out U.S. troops. Better to listen to the military professionals. The Post recently quoted Brig. Gen. Bilal al-Dayni, commander of Iraqi troops in Basra, as saying of the Americans, "We hope they will stay until 2020." That is similar to the expectation of Iraq's defense minister, Abdul Qadir, who says his forces cannot assume full responsibility for internal security until 2012 and for external security until 2018.

What would happen if we were to pull out much faster, on a 16-month timetable? Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Hammond, commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, says that would be "very dangerous" -- the same words used by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Of course, if the Iraqi government tells us to leave, we will have to leave. But, the prime minister's ambiguous comments notwithstanding, the Iraqi government is saying no such thing, because most Iraqis realize that the gains of the surge are fragile and could be undone by a too-rapid departure of U.S. forces.

BucEyedPea
07-24-2008, 12:03 PM
The occupation is over. Go in peace.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

OTT, Boot's words are not reliable or trustworthy.
He's too partisan to be objective.

Adept Havelock
07-24-2008, 12:04 PM
Yes, patteeu. We know it's difficult for Max Boot to accept that the Der Speigel interview was translated by Maliki's translators, signed off on by Maliki's office, and only half-heartedly pushed back after prodding by the Bush Administration. Granted, the next day Maliki's 16-month withdrawal comments undermines the "push-back" on the Der Speigel interview.

It's really tough for some people to accept that an independent Iraq might not kowtow to the Bush Administrations party line, but then again, that's what happens when you install a democracy instead of a Client State. :shrug:

patteeu
07-24-2008, 12:10 PM
Yes, patteeu. We know it's difficult for Max Boot to accept that the Der Speigel interview was translated by Maliki's translators, signed off on by Maliki's office, and only half-heartedly pushed back after prodding by the Bush Administration. Granted, the next day Maliki's 16-month withdrawal comments undermines the "push-back" on the Der Speigel interview.

It's really tough for some people to accept that an independent Iraq might not kowtow to the Bush Administrations party line, but then again, that's what happens when you install a democracy instead of a Client State. :shrug:

You must not have read Boot's article. But since I like you, I'll give you the readers' digest version. Maliki's public statements, whatever they are, aren't a reliable indication of what the Maliki government will do.

Chiefnj2
07-24-2008, 12:11 PM
What the hell do those foreigners know? We'll tell them what they should think.

Adept Havelock
07-24-2008, 12:17 PM
You must not have read Boot's article. But since I like you, I'll give you the readers' digest version. Maliki's public statements, whatever they are, aren't a reliable indication of what the Maliki government will do.

I read it. It struck me as sour grapes from Mr. Boot, to be honest.

Similar to McCain's recent implication that he knew better what the Iraqis wanted than Malkiki and his govt. did.

Comments like Mr. Boot's tend to happen when the political rug gets pulled out from under you, especially if it coincides with the position of your political opposition. JMO.

What the hell do those foreigners know? We'll tell them what they should think.

Perhaps the Bush administration should have forseen this and installed a client state instead of a representative government. I'm sure Eastern Europe would have offered a number of historical models to work from. :p

Direckshun
07-24-2008, 12:55 PM
Doesn't this convey that Iraq has wanted us out of there for some time now?

Or are we ignoring that?

Adept Havelock
07-24-2008, 01:01 PM
Doesn't this convey that Iraq has wanted us out of there for some time now?

Or are we ignoring that?

I believe it conveys that Mr. Boot doesn't believe Maliki means it what he has said on several occasions, regarding US withdrawal.

Direckshun
07-24-2008, 01:03 PM
I'm just saying, I understand overlooking Maliki's call for withdrawal if Maliki is continually reversing himself. That does make sense.

But if Maliki is consistently talking about U.S. withdrawal dates, can we not read something significant into that?

Taco John
07-24-2008, 01:05 PM
You must not have read Boot's article. But since I like you, I'll give you the readers' digest version. Maliki's public statements, whatever they are, aren't a reliable indication of what the Maliki government will do.


Uh, isn't that true of *ANY* government?

It's not much of a point.

Taco John
07-24-2008, 01:08 PM
The logic here boggles me.

We should ignore Maliki's endorsement of Obama's plan because why again?

Direckshun
07-24-2008, 01:14 PM
The logic here boggles me.

We should ignore Maliki's endorsement of Obama's plan because why again?
Because, as patteeu would argue, Maliki's done nothing apparently but repeatedly assert that U.S. troops will be withdrawing sooner than later for some time now, but this has not yet come to pass.

Which, of course, means his endorsement doesn't matter...

Radar Chief
07-24-2008, 01:17 PM
Because, as patteeu would argue, Maliki's done nothing apparently but repeatedly assert that U.S. troops will be withdrawing sooner than later for some time now, but this has not yet come to pass.

Which, of course, means his endorsement doesn't matter...

Intermingled with the hypocrisy of dismissing him as a Bush stooge then hailing his words when they align with Barry Hussein’s.

mlyonsd
07-24-2008, 01:25 PM
Intermingled with the hypocrisy of dismissing him as a Bush stooge then hailing his words when they align with Barry Hussein’s.

Ouch. :eek:

mlyonsd
07-24-2008, 01:28 PM
I'm just saying, I understand overlooking Maliki's call for withdrawal if Maliki is continually reversing himself. That does make sense.

But if Maliki is consistently talking about U.S. withdrawal dates, can we not read something significant into that?

Where does Maliki stand on conditions at the time? I've always heard him say that is the most important factor, even when he was talking about the 16 month thing.

I think we all want 16 months to happen. But at the same time I wonder if Maliki is just playing politics right now.

beer bacon
07-24-2008, 01:35 PM
Maliki is playing politics in the sense that he and the majority of Iraqis wants American troops out of Iraq sooner than later, and Obama is much more likely to remove more American troopers out of Iraq sooner than McCain/Bush.

Direckshun
07-24-2008, 01:38 PM
Intermingled with the hypocrisy of dismissing him as a Bush stooge then hailing his words when they align with Barry Hussein’s.
Exactly what is so hypocritical about that?

Imagine it the other way around: you conservatives largely convey some news outlets (let's say CBS) as Democratic outposts. Therefore when CBS issues a strong condemndation of some Democrats, it becomes more noteworthy to you folks because it's stunning that an outlet so intertwined with a political party would condemn that same party.

This is the same thing. It's not hypocritical. It's noteworthy.

Direckshun
07-24-2008, 01:39 PM
Where does Maliki stand on conditions at the time? I've always heard him say that is the most important factor, even when he was talking about the 16 month thing.

I think we all want 16 months to happen. But at the same time I wonder if Maliki is just playing politics right now.
Yes, I often wonder if politicians are playing politics too.

Radar Chief
07-24-2008, 01:55 PM
Exactly what is so hypocritical about that?

:eek: Did you actually just ask that?

Imagine it the other way around: you conservatives largely convey some news outlets (let's say CBS) as Democratic outposts. Therefore when CBS issues a strong condemndation of some Democrats, it becomes more noteworthy to you folks because it's stunning that an outlet so intertwined with a political party would condemn that same party.

This is the same thing. It's not hypocritical. It's noteworthy.

I agree with it being “note worthy” but that’s not quite what’s happened. Had republicans condemned anything coming from CBS as false because it’s nothing more than DNC propaganda then hailed them as an authority when they issued this strong “condemndation” that would be closer what’s happened.
It’s still hypocrisy and the dems would point it out.

Radar Chief
07-24-2008, 01:56 PM
Yes, I often wonder if politicians are playing politics too.

True, but I never assume any politician is above it or is somehow miraculously going to change it all.

patteeu
07-24-2008, 02:24 PM
I'm just saying, I understand overlooking Maliki's call for withdrawal if Maliki is continually reversing himself. That does make sense.

But if Maliki is consistently talking about U.S. withdrawal dates, can we not read something significant into that?

If this is the type of thing that passes as populist pandering in Iraqi politics then I think it's fair to say that Maliki believes his political base is in favor of security provided by Iraqis rather than Americans. IOW, I'm sure that it would be popular among his base if the Americans went home and the Iraq government provided equivalent security.

I think it also shows that Maliki knows he hasn't been able to provide the necessary level of security up to this point with Iraqi security forces (not the least of which for his own neck).

It's also worth noting that Maliki's political base is only a subset of the Iraqi people.

Direckshun
07-24-2008, 03:53 PM
I agree with it being “note worthy” but that’s not quite what’s happened. Had republicans condemned anything coming from CBS as false because it’s nothing more than DNC propaganda then hailed them as an authority when they issued this strong “condemndation” that would be closer what’s happened.
It’s still hypocrisy and the dems would point it out.
Whoa there, Ozark. Double standard alert.

The only Dem supporters who've dismissed everything coming out of Maliki's mouth are the hyper partisans who believe he is a puppet of the Bush administration.

The only GOP supporters who've dismissed everything coming out of CBS's outlet are the hyper partisans who believe it is a mouthpiece of the left.

You can't tie me to the extremists on my side and expect to be immune from being tied to the extremists on yours. These extremists on both sides will inevitably become hypocrites. That's the freakin' nature of being one to begin with.

But I don't think I, as a (dare I say) more sensible liberal, ever blatantly dismissed everything coming out of Maliki. I do believe he is under a lot of influence from the Bush administration (he had to debunk his own statement on this story the day after, thanks to pressure coming from Washington), but I don't think any anti-war Democrats except for the fringies believed he was totally absorbed in bullshit. Same could be said for your side considering CBS' occasional bashing of the Democrats.

Myself taking Maliki's word on this matter doesn't require the moral gymnastics that you think it should. It's not hypocrisy.

Radar Chief
07-25-2008, 06:58 AM
Whoa there, Ozark. Double standard alert.

The only Dem supporters who've dismissed everything coming out of Maliki's mouth are the hyper partisans who believe he is a puppet of the Bush administration.

The only GOP supporters who've dismissed everything coming out of CBS's outlet are the hyper partisans who believe it is a mouthpiece of the left.

You can't tie me to the extremists on my side and expect to be immune from being tied to the extremists on yours. These extremists on both sides will inevitably become hypocrites. That's the freakin' nature of being one to begin with.

But I don't think I, as a (dare I say) more sensible liberal, ever blatantly dismissed everything coming out of Maliki. I do believe he is under a lot of influence from the Bush administration (he had to debunk his own statement on this story the day after, thanks to pressure coming from Washington), but I don't think any anti-war Democrats except for the fringies believed he was totally absorbed in bullshit. Same could be said for your side considering CBS' occasional bashing of the Democrats.

Myself taking Maliki's word on this matter doesn't require the moral gymnastics that you think it should. It's not hypocrisy.

Ozark? :spock:
Where did I tie you to the extremist liberals? If I did so it was by mistake so please point it out.
I see you understand what I’m saying though, that what Maliki said isn’t hypocritical it’s how his statement is being used.

markk
07-25-2008, 10:11 AM
Mr. Obama in Iraq
Did he really find support for his withdrawal plan?
Washington Post

Wednesday, July 23, 2008; Page A14

THE INITIAL MEDIA coverage of Barack Obama's visit to Iraq suggested that the Democratic candidate found agreement with his plan to withdraw all U.S. combat forces on a 16-month timetable. So it seems worthwhile to point out that, by Mr. Obama's own account, neither U.S. commanders nor Iraq's principal political leaders actually support his strategy.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the architect of the dramatic turnaround in U.S. fortunes, "does not want a timetable," Mr. Obama reported with welcome candor during a news conference yesterday. In an interview with ABC, he explained that "there are deep concerns about . . . a timetable that doesn't take into account what [American commanders] anticipate might be some sort of change in conditions."

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has a history of tailoring his public statements for political purposes, made headlines by saying he would support a withdrawal of American forces by 2010. But an Iraqi government statement made clear that Mr. Maliki's timetable would extend at least seven months beyond Mr. Obama's. More significant, it would be "a timetable which Iraqis set" -- not the Washington-imposed schedule that Mr. Obama has in mind. It would also be conditioned on the readiness of Iraqi forces, the same linkage that Gen. Petraeus seeks. As Mr. Obama put it, Mr. Maliki "wants some flexibility in terms of how that's carried out."
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Other Iraqi leaders were more directly critical. As Mr. Obama acknowledged, Sunni leaders in Anbar province told him that American troops are essential to maintaining the peace among Iraq's rival sects and said they were worried about a rapid drawdown.

Mr. Obama's response is that, as president, he would have to weigh Iraq's needs against those of Afghanistan and the U.S. economy. He says that because Iraq is "a distraction" from more important problems, U.S. resources devoted to it must be curtailed. Yet he also says his aim is to "succeed in leaving Iraq to a sovereign government that can take responsibility for its own future." What if Gen. Petraeus and Iraqi leaders are right that this goal is not consistent with a 16-month timetable? Will Iraq be written off because Mr. Obama does not consider it important enough -- or will the strategy be altered?

Arguably, Mr. Obama has given himself the flexibility to adopt either course. Yesterday he denied being "so rigid and stubborn that I ignore anything that happens during the course of the 16 months," though this would be more reassuring if Mr. Obama were not rigidly and stubbornly maintaining his opposition to the successful "surge" of the past 16 months. He also pointed out that he had "deliberately avoided providing a particular number" for the residual force of Americans he says would be left behind.

Yet Mr. Obama's account of his strategic vision remains eccentric. He insists that Afghanistan is "the central front" for the United States, along with the border areas of Pakistan. But there are no known al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, and any additional U.S. forces sent there would not be able to operate in the Pakistani territories where Osama bin Laden is headquartered. While the United States has an interest in preventing the resurgence of the Afghan Taliban, the country's strategic importance pales beside that of Iraq, which lies at the geopolitical center of the Middle East and contains some of the world's largest oil reserves. If Mr. Obama's antiwar stance has blinded him to those realities, that could prove far more debilitating to him as president than any particular timetable.