The Future Iraq


The WaPo notices in today’s editorial a signal lost on much of the MSM over the last week. The fact that the new government of Iraq stood up to Iran and signaled that they DO want a partnership with America. Just on their terms:

THOUGH IT was hardly noticed in Washington, Iraq’s Shiite-led government sent a powerful message to Iran and to the Middle East last week. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose coalition is often portrayed as an Iranian client, traveled to Tehran for a meeting with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The ayatollah bluntly declared that Iraq’s “most important problem” was the continuing presence of U.S. troops. He pressured Mr. Maliki to stop negotiating a package of agreements with the Bush administration that would delineate a “strategic framework” between Iraq and the United States and provide for the deployment of U.S. forces beyond the expiration of a U.N. mandate at the end of this year.

Mr. Maliki refused. He assured his Iranian hosts that Iraq would not be a launching pad for an American attack on Iran. But he pointedly told a press briefing that negotiations on the strategic partnership would continue. He repeated that commitment on Friday, even after warning that the talks had “reached a dead end.” In effect, the Iraqi prime minister was saying that his country does not want to become an Iranian satellite but an independent Arab state that would look to the United States to ensure its security.

This would seem to be an obvious U.S. gain in what, according to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as well as President Bush, is the urgent task of countering Iran’s attempt to dominate the Middle East. It means that Iraq, a country with the world’s second largest oil reserves and a strategic linchpin of the Middle East, just might emerge from the last five years of war and turmoil as an American ally, even if its relations with Iran remain warm.

The WaPo goes on to wonder why the Democrats have stood in lockstep with the leaders of Iran in denouncing the US-Iraqi agreement before the thing is even written.

“It’s pretty clear their intentions are that we put in a basing system in Iraq that parallels the Korea-Japan history,”


The history of every single outside occupation of Iraq over the last thousand years argues against that logic.”
-Sen. James Webb

The history suggests that it can’t be done….so why even try says the Democrats. Sure, it may be impossible but at least friggin try! In the end their mission is to make it appear that Bush wants to stay in Iraq forever, that way Obama can look good when he says he will bring them all home.

The WaPo continues:

If the United States were to make a formal commitment to defend Iraq from external aggression, congressional consideration and approval of the pact would be appropriate. For now, the biggest risk is that Tehran and its allies will pressure Mr. Maliki into backing away from a partnership with Washington. In that case, Iran would hasten to substitute itself as Iraq’s defender and strategic ally, with momentous implications for the rest of the Middle East. Surely this is not what the Democrats want.

Surely you jest?

This is exactly what they want. How else to blame Bush for it?

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Read yesterday, I believe, that the Iraqi envoy’s assistant intercepted a package bomb meant for the envoy.

First Maliki laying down the law to Iran and now Karzai telling Pakistan to clean up their border or else. Cool.


Thanks for catching, and pointing this stuff out, Curt. It’s never the “either/or” situation many portray.

Once again, Iraq is meeting the conditions for VICTORY as laid about by President Bush: An Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself and be an ally in the war on terror.

“The history of every single outside occupation of Iraq over the last thousand years argues against that logic.” – Sen. James Webb

Hmmm … seems the esteemed gentleman from Virginia doesn’t quite know his history.

Iraq is a nation that had its borders drawn post-World War I by the British who had the mandate there. It would be more correct to say that until now, Baghdad and the surrounding territory was resistant to foreign presence and/or changes that would affect the Arab tribal influences in the Tigris-Euphrates region.

Webb’s argument is analogous to that made about postwar Germany and Japan, in which it was also assumed the Germans and Japanese were incapable of self government.

First would someone please explain why I am often unable to reply to posts. When I go to the Comments section, I can’t move beyond the first few lines. If that indicates the thread is closed, I have no problem with that, I just want to undestand. Thanks.


“Once again, Iraq is meeting the conditions for VICTORY as laid about by President Bush:
An Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself and be an ally in the war on terror.”

Really, Iraq is meeting these three conditions? That is:

Iraq can govern itself

Iraq can defend itself

Iraq is our ally in the war on terror. I agree it is trying to fight its own internal terror – home grown and foreign. But our ally in the war on terror? I think they have their hands full.

Dave Noble: Perhaps you should read Curt’s post more carefully. Iraq made it quite clear that they are siding with the Americans, NOT the Iranians.

And they have also been doing a superb job in helping us round up Al Queda and the Iranian backed Shias.

I’d call that an ally. The Washington Post calls that an ally.

That leaves you on the outs once again!

Britain had “their hands full” during WWI but they still fought beside us against the Germans.

Has the definition of ally changed?

Dave Noble, INRE you comments problem. I had the same until I upgraded to IE 7. You may want to check what version of Explorer you are running now.

However your work around is to switch to the “classic” or “default” WordPress view. You will lose the “recent comments” section. But you can either switch back, or clean your cookies and refresh and the snazzy version reappears.

OOPS… I see Curt already answered your question… never mind. 🙂


I read Curt’s post. It specifically spoke about Mr. Maliki insisting on Iraq’s right to negotiate with the United States. There was nothing about Iraq now being able to defend itself and govern itself. If you had read my post carefully you would have noted that I conceded that Iraq was working with us on fighting terror internally.

Also if you had read the Washington Post quote carefully you would note that is says Iraq “just might” (implication, some day – “might” is future tense) be an ally in the war on terrorism. You want to declare “VICTORY” so badly – as opposed to wanting to actually have it – which is totally understandable – you prematurely turn improvements into fait accomplis. We have been told we “turned the corner,” “have seen the light at the end of the tunnel” and have the enemy “on their last legs” literally for years now. Do I want success in Iraq? Yes. I will wait to see it with my own eyes rather than have you tell me to look off in the distance and glimpse it glimmering on the horizon.

BTW, it must be fun to be both a participant and the scorer in a debate – “you’re on the outs again – I win!”

Well, I see good news here. Maliki is being tough with us on basing rights, and that is fine. If nothing else, this alone puts the lie to any notion that they are a U.S. puppet government. And if it makes him look tough in the eyes of his countrymen, then fine and good.

Maliki also stood up to Iran, which is very good news.

Sen Webb is a dope. Too bad he has to be my senator.

As far as whether Iraq is our ally in the GWOT, I’d say “not yet, but they’re heading in that direction.”

Poor Dave… You have to fight so very hard to remain oblivious of all the good news that nearly everyone else sees in Iraq.

You’re reduced to ridiculous hair splitting in the mold of “depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

Ah, but then, you were trained by the master in that art and no doubt you’ll attempt to use it to help Obama seal defeat in Iraq.



You seem not to know the difference between semantics and linguistics. I agree arguing about the meaning of “is” is semantical hairsplitting. But the difference between “is” and “just might be” is a matter of linguistics. They mean very differerent things. As an illustration if you ask someone one “Is this the road to Albuquerque?” and they say it “just might be,” you might hesitate before going down that road. That is a matter of certainty. If you ask your future wife if she will be faithful to you and she tells you she “just might” how will you feel? There both the future tense and certainty are involved. If that “hairsplitting” is too nuanced for you, I’m sorry.

I guess that “master” you refer to is Mrs. Rothschild, my freshman English teacher in high school.

BTW, if you dropped all the “Poor Dave’s” and “Sad’s” we might actually have an intelligent conversation here. If you want to be sarcastic, that’s fine. Embed it in your facts and reasoning. But it looks hollow hanging out there by all by itself.

Now who’s stretching to make an analogy, Aye Chi. In 1940 Britain had a Navy and an Air Force and was a modern world power. Iraq has neither and is not. If Britain’s Navy and Air Force of 1940 were to attack the Iraq of the present day, they would devastate it. Do you honestly suggest that Iraq is able to serve as our ally in fighting terrorism outside it’s own borders. If you look again you’ll see that was my point.


Thank you.


Still playing games eh Dave Noble?

Well, here’s some more “bad” news for you. The Economist is on board with progress in Iraq:

That leaves you even further out in the cold hoping to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


Well, there’s little doubt in the WP editorial that the piece amounts to screwing the truth of the situation by alleging a triumph of an impending agreement over the status of U.S. forces and the development of a reliable ally in the Maliki government. Perhaps one day Fred Hiatt will act responsibly, follow the stories and all its details, instead picking flowers in the fantasy lands of Krauthammer and Kristol.

Maliki is a politician. Does any one here remember that?

This is the direction of the flow of the US-Iraqi agreement:

(WP) “All the politicians are trying to prove that they care more about Iraqis than they do about Americans — otherwise they know the people and the voters will not support them,” said Ala Maaki, a senior lawmaker with Iraqi’s largest Sunni political party. “I think we could see al-Maliki and Moqtada Sadr trying to one-up the other today and see who can take the strongest stand against the Americans.”

Contrasting the political scene, viewed accurately, by Maaki, with the editorial one finds its created an Iranian strawman over Maliki’s “refusal” to stop talks with us regarding the future base agreements:

*it completely ignores the opposition of the populace, religious leaders, and the parliamentary on the agreement;

*it completely ignores the weeks of black and blue beatings the WH has been taking in the print media;

*it completely ignores the distinction of ‘kind’ of agreement verses ‘degree’ of agreement– wallowing in kind, overlooking the incredible political impasse and compromises that must be stuck to get an agreement, it sacrifices the security of our own troops.

*and finally, and most importantly, it completely ignores the upcoming elections which provide political grounding and context on this matter.

Therefore, remembering Maliki is a politician, and Maliki is doing what he’s doing because there are elections coming up in just months, he’s trying to show his nationalist fiber, his street-stripes, that he’s an Iraqi FIRST, not a pro-occupationalist. If anyone has been listening he’s been sounding like a loose cannon. The parliament is even worse, almost ALL Iraqi leaders are now speaking with a strident nationalistic tone, even the SIIC, Maliki’s largest bloc supporter.

Context, one must use context here!

Ask yourself: regardless of whether or not Maliki is posturing– and we know he is– what does it say about our long-term prospects in Iraq when pretty much every party feels like their winning campaign strategy for the fall is to appeal to an anti-American sentiment to get the public vote?

What does that tell you?

Remember, too, Maliki plans to allow his parliament to vote on this agreement! Holy flying pigs… that’ll be some frisky political management; can you imagine the tempers by then? So after the provincial elections, where both sides have spent months fanning flames of anti-American sentiment (which, btw, is why Sadr is picking arms back up again– as he has public support for it now), what kind of mood is parliament going to be in when they finally get a look at all the anti-occupationists elected and the details of the agreement!

What does that tell you?

This NYT piece sees the importance of ‘context’ providing rich details of the political battleground in the coming Iraqi regional elections, as it sweeps away the WP editorial’s misrepresentation of political happenings:

In an operation with military and political objectives, the Iraqi Army continued to assemble troops in and around the southern city of Amara on Sunday.

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki offered an amnesty to militants in the city who were willing to surrender, and he also offered to buy back heavy weapons from militia fighters. Similar offers in the past few months have presaged military operations against Shiite or Sunni militias in Basra, the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul.

As in Basra and Sadr City, Amara is dominated by the movement of the rebel Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr. Mr. Maliki’s government has appeared eager to crush at least Mr. Sadr’s militia, if not his movement.

With provincial elections scheduled for the fall, both the government and Mr. Sadr also appeared to be maneuvering for political advantage. [my emphasis]

It’s now too early to be certain of what’s going on here but it’s not a fool hardy bet that Sadr’s goal is to solidify his status as the true anti-occupationist, when contrasted to Maliki’s government. Sadr, by thrusting foward a nationalist opposition to the occupation and the US-Iraqi agreement, puts Maliki on the defensive here in public perception: when one understands the coming elections are to be framed almost entirely by the US-Iraqi agreement, Sadr is positioning himself to stand clearly opposed to any agreement.

Sadr certainly will still have supporters in the provincial elections, although they just won’t be tagged or ‘known’ as “Sadrists”, they won’t be members; and, of course, his movement will undoubtedly strongly deny any direct affiliation with these politicians; this way Sadr gets a pass into the elections. He also gets to keep his militia, as he downsizes them, and dumps his violent radicals into a small “secret” group (feeding off public anger over the agreement); Sadr gets to stay in the game this way and even gets to further distance himself from the “American sympathizers”.

As the future of Iraq progresses toward “VICTORY” the WP reports several villages near Khandahar have fallen to Taliban fighters which are now operating in battalion strength:

This is a major set back even if US, NATO and Afghan forces can retake these towns and villages within the next week while destroying the forces that stand and fight. The promised security and the credible promise that is the foundation of any counterinsurgency effort has failed yet again–the future of Afghanistan is looking more uncertain now. And despite any probable future Taliban losses, our campaign as a win is getting harder and harder to achieve.

The level of violence is up in Afghanistan and complex operations are being pulled off by the Taliban as they are penetrating and popping the bubble of our counterinsurgency promise.

So what’s the near future of Afghanistan hold?

Expect more violence. As Western forces are already stretched too thin, with few credible reinforcements in the pipeline, a nasty economic knot in higher wheat prices … and lower opium prices —increased suffering:

This is the future of Afganistan as their near 7 year war was put on the back burner to a more important war in Iraq.

Tut tut tut Doug! Still clinging to defeat hoping against hope you’ll be proved right arent’ you?

Even Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have gone silent on Iraq. Could you and Dave Noble be the last libs to live for defeat?

You picked enough cherries above to bake a pie. But right now, most of us would rather feast on the good news than bite into your sour defeat.

Mike, you’re wonkish enough to follow polls:

Many adults in the United States believe their country will be unable to win the war in Iraq, according to a poll by Hart/McInturff released by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News. 54 per cent of respondents think the goal of achieving victory in Iraq is not possible.

In addition, 49 per cent of respondents think the most responsible the U.S. can do is find a way to withdraw most troops from Iraq by the beginning of 2009, while 45 per cent would remain in Iraq until the situation in the country is stable.

We’re still the majority on “defeat”– hardly “the last libs.”


these are the last two paragraphs of the economist link you provided above:

“In highlighting the improved conditions in Iraq we do not mean to justify The Economist’s support of the invasion of 2003 (see article). Too many lives have been shattered for that. History will still record that the invasion and occupation have been a debacle. Iraqis even now live under daily threat of violent death: hundreds are killed each month. They remain woefully short of the necessities of life, such as jobs, clean water and electricity. Iraq’s government is gaining confidence faster than competence. It is still fractious, and in many places corrupt.

Nor does it follow that a turn for the better necessarily validates John McCain’s insistence on America staying indefinitely. A safer Iraq might make Barack Obama’s plan to pull out most American troops within 16 months more feasible, though at the moment a precipitate withdrawal looks foolish. But to guard the fragile improvements, the key for America must be flexibility. Both candidates have to keep their options open. If America’s next president gets Iraq wrong because he has boxed himself in during the campaign, all the recent gains may be squandered and Iraq will slide swiftly back into misery and despair. That would be to fail twice over.”

They are hardly “on board” with the progress that you mean to infer.

The global number of refugees and displaced people reached 67 million last year, the UN refugee agency said on Tuesday, swelling those under its charge to an “unprecedented” number.

“After a five year decline in the number of refugees between 2001 and 2005, we have now seen two years of increases, and that’s a concern,” said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.

“We are now faced with a complex mix of global challenges that could threaten even more forced displacement in the future.”

Afghanistan and Iraq continued to top the list of the country of origin.

Almost 3.1 million refugees were Afghans or 27 percent of the global refugee population in 2007.

Meanwhile, Iraqis made up the second largest group, with 2.3 million refugees. Of these, about two million had sought refuge in Jordan and Syria.

“In Iraq, with the sectarian divide and the lack of a comprehensive political solution, the number of internally displaced rose from 1.8 million at the start of the year to close to 2.4 million by the end of 2007,” said the report.

Maliki’s government is ineffective to tackle the displacement problem: