Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"My report on Eyerack" By Stevie Hadley

He wrote five pages for our president. The full memo is here. Highlights from the New York Times, reactions from my high level of frustration:
“His intentions seem good when he talks with Americans, and sensitive reporting suggests he is trying to stand up to the Shia hierarchy and force positive change,” the memo said of the Iraqi leader. “But the reality on the streets of Baghdad suggests Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions, or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into action.”
This is a brilliant observation. Either he's lying to us or he's not! Thanks.
Addressing Mr. Bush, the memo said one option was for the president to “direct your cabinet to begin an intensive press on Saudi Arabia to play a leadership role on Iraq, connecting this role with other areas in which Saudi Arabia wants to see U.S. action.” Although the memo did not offer specifics, this appeared to be an allusion to a more active American role in the Arab-Israeli peace process. Recently, Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has reached out to the Palestinians and has said he wants to move ahead with peace talks. But the memo’s authors also contemplate the possibility that Mr. Maliki’s position may be too tenuous for him to take the steps needed to curb the power of Shiite militias, to establish a more diverse and representative personal staff and to arrest the escalating sectarian strife.
This advice would have been helpful several years ago, say 2002.
In that case, the memo suggests, it may ultimately be necessary for Mr. Maliki to recast his parliamentary bloc, a step the United States could support by pressing moderates to align themselves with the Iraqi leader and providing them with monetary support.
The United States tried to put a "moderate" in charge of Iraq. His name was Iyad Allawi and he met with no success. At that point, the environment for moderates was far more favorable. More, any "moderate" backed by U.S. dollars would have no legitimacy in the eyes of Iraqis. This is a fantasy idea, not a though experiment. Maliki would not survive such a political move, and I am not talking about "politically survive".
The memo lists a number of possible steps to build up Mr. Maliki’s capability. They include asking Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the senior American commander, to develop a plan to strengthen the Iraqi leader.

This could involve the formation of a new National Strike Force, significantly increasing the number of American advisers working with the Iraqi National Police, a force that has been infiltrated by Shiite militias, and putting more Iraqi forces directly under Mr. Maliki’s control.
Maliki wants more control, Los Angeles Times. Creating a new security force seems to be a long-term, at best, solution. One major problem in Iraq is the security forces we have created.
In addition, the memorandum suggests that Mr. Bush ask the Pentagon and General Casey “to make a recommendation about whether more forces are needed in Baghdad.”
Dear George Bush, I recommend that more forces are needed in Baghdad.
The administration appears to have already begun carrying out some of the steps recommended in the document. Among them were a trip over the weekend by Vice President Dick Cheney to Saudi Arabia as part of an effort to seek help from Sunni Arab powers in encouraging Sunni groups in Iraq to seek a political compromise with Mr. Maliki.
Cheney has demonstrated that he might be the worst person to analyze events in Iraq. Excellent start.

3 Comments:

Anonymous chad said...

I'm not sure I understand the following:

Addressing Mr. Bush, the memo said one option was for the president to “direct your cabinet to begin an intensive press on Saudi Arabia to play a leadership role on Iraq, connecting this role with other areas in which Saudi Arabia wants to see U.S. action.” Although the memo did not offer specifics, this appeared to be an allusion to a more active American role in the Arab-Israeli peace process. Recently, Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has reached out to the Palestinians and has said he wants to move ahead with peace talks. But the memo’s authors also contemplate the possibility that Mr. Maliki’s position may be too tenuous for him to take the steps needed to curb the power of Shiite militias, to establish a more diverse and representative personal staff and to arrest the escalating sectarian strife.

This advice would have been helpful several years ago, say 2002.


We weren't in Iraq in 2002. Additionally since the esatblishment of the coalition provisional authority the US has been trying to engage "moderate Muslim regimes" in the rebuilding process. I believe Hadley's intention is to get the Saudi's to apply more pressure.

4:14 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Thanks for your comments, Chad. It is my belief that the situation in Iraq is far beyond what moderate regimes -- with minimal popular support in their own countries -- can affect. 2002 is a reference to the Arab Peace Iniative.

http://archives.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/03/28/arab.initiative.text/index.html

It was, at the least, a point to begin a debate that should have happened then.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Xanthippas said...

Good point about moderation. I'm not sure what they mean by supporting moderate political elements; how exactly are we supposed to do that? The parliamentary make-up was decided by the Iraqi people, and I don't know how we're supposed to shunt Sadr's power aside simply by providing support to more moderate parties.

7:28 PM  

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