A purloined letter?

"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."  NY Times


"“Pushing Maliki to take these steps without augmenting his capabilities could force him to failure — if the Parliament removes him from office with a majority vote or if action against the Mahdi militia (JAM) causes elements of the Iraqi Security Forces to fracture and leads to major Shia disturbances in southern Iraq,” the memo says. ‘  NY Times


Who leaked da memo?  What was it really a "leak" or was it a "controlled press release?" 

The first quotation above indicates a continuing belief in the government’s ability to manipulate events and politics in Iraq.   I suppose that it is inevitable that the "Hadley academical types" should imagine themselves to be operating at a level of skill and effectiveness comparable to the Americans who steered Western Europe through its period of political vulnerability to communism after World War Two or the Kermit Roosevelt types who "did in" Mossadegh in Iran.  But, in fact, that was then, and this is now.  the world has changed.  The "wogs" are not so biddable as they were.  Now the possibility has been announced to the world.  The difficulty of doing something like this just increased dramatically.

"leads to major Shia disturbances in southern Iraq,” the memo says. ‘" Need I say more?

Pat Lang


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21 Responses to A purloined letter?

  1. Shab al-Sham says:

    Colonel Lang:
    If the line of supply from Kuwait were to be cut, what options would the American army in central Iraq have at that point? Fight its way south and out? Try to hunker down and await some kind of relief? Conduct a forced march-upcountry How quickly would fuel (I assume fuel is the limiting resource here?) run out?

  2. Got A Watch says:

    “A successful strategy has to be one that is driven by the Iraqis.” Hmmm, it seems that Hadley should be Iraqi PM, he has all the answers!
    Funny, I didn’t see one thing in this article that is “driven by the Iraqis”!
    The Bush admin. is really flailing now – just like a drowning man trying to grasp on to anything solid in a panicky effort to avoid going under for the third time. I have heard so many different courses speculated this week my head is whirling.
    As long as Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq and surrounding do not read the internet or newspapers, everything will be fine – but the cat is well out of the bag now. I imagine there are very few in the Middle East who can not plainly see the desperation on the faces of the Bush War Party.
    This makes negotiating anything from a position of perceived great weakness almost impossible. Can Team Bush come from behind and make a miracle come-back in Iraq? Well, based on past performance, the probability is south of zero.
    It also confirms how out of touch with reality on the ground the Bushies are. I guess they assume the insurgents and everyone else can be easily duped…except there is no evidence this can work whatsoever. The Emperor has been seen by the crowd to have no clothes, despite whatever trained seals may bark. I am running out of euphemisms here.
    Thanks for this blog Col., it is one of the most insightful on the net, and thaks for posting on so many vital topics.

  3. W. Patrick Lang says:

    If a blockage happens, they will try to clear it and keep it cleared. If that proves impossible then they will have start creating a new supply line or leaving. pl

  4. Frank Durkee says:

    I would opt for a deliberate leak as a way of conveying ‘the bad news’ that Bush may not want to speak directly. it is also begining to be “CYA” time in the future “Who lost Iraq” dust up in our domestic politics. I think that in an administration that seeks so hard to control the public message that to confuse that with what they actually believe internally is at best unwise. They have to have scapegoats for w bad outcome. an admission of failure would deluge the administration with ridicule and they’ll do almost anything publically to avoid that. Failure, admitted, would destroy Bush and his presidency.

  5. Mt says:

    Shab al-Sham – If the supply lines are cut maybe it will be a modern day version of Xenophon and the 10,000.

  6. A Newer World says:

    I am sorry that this is currently off topic, but it well worth the read.

  7. Nand Jagnath says:

    The spectacle of the Bush Administration flailing about must also be causing grave concern among the “moderate” (i.e., pro-American) regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordon. Those same regimes got into trouble by criticising Hezbollah, probably at the prodding of the U.S., during the recent Lebanon conflict. I wonder how many more jolts those regimes can take without something giving way.

  8. Andrew Fisher says:

    ‘Among the concerns voiced in the memo was that Mr. Maliki was surrounded by a small group of advisers from the Shiite Dawa Party, a narrow circle that American officials worry may skew the information he receives.’

  9. Peterp says:

    “The United States could support by pressing moderates to align themselves with the Iraqi leader and providing them with monetary support.”
    Well, it worked for the British, at least for a time. But, as the Colonel notes, things have changed a bit since the 1920s.
    In any case, “Bribing Our Way to Victory” wouldn’t make a very inspiring backdrop for Shrub’s next speech.

  10. chimneyswift says:

    I thought al Sadr had threatened to withdraw his support from al Maliki if al Maliki met with Bush in Jordan. Whatever happened with that?
    Isn’t calling our shots like this basically committing the US position to a collision course?
    Has Bush even learned the difference between a Sunni and a Shi’ite yet?

  11. John Howley says:

    Still trying to get a handle on the legal situation governing our soldiers in Iraq…
    The Hadley memo says that Maliki should negotiate a bilateral Status of Forces agreement with the U.S. Clearly, then, we don’t currently have one. Which means that our presence there is governed solely by the UN Security Council…
    By the way, did anyone notice that the UN Seccurity Council voted on November 28 (yesterday) to renew the Mandate under the which the U.S. operates there? It’s good until the last day of 2007 and will be reviewed in June.
    They seem to be smoking the same stuff up there in NYC. The Resolution begins:
    “Welcoming the formation of a national unity government in Iraq with a detailed political, economic and security programme and a strong national reconciliation agenda and looking forward to the day Iraqi forces assume full responsibility for the maintenance of security and stability in their country, thus allowing the ompletion of the multinational force mandate and the end of its presence in Iraq…”
    I guess there was no debate in the Security Council or we would have heard about it, right?

  12. zanzibar says:

    BBC is reporting that the meeting between the Decider and Maliki has been cancelled. The ostensible reason being the “leaked” memo.

  13. ali says:

    This memo is witless nonsense leaked by an administration that is still locked into the failed policies it adopted in 03.
    Maliki was put in power by people set on ensuring Shi’a dominance in Iraq. He will lose what little legitimacy he has if DC attempts to buy a new rainbow alliance power base for him. He’ll be despised as a Yankee puppet and discredited like Allawi. The Shi’a will be driven even further into the plump arms of Al Sadr. If Maliki aquiesed he would be lucky if they don’t string him up.
    Democracy in Iraq expresses the will of the people; it has accelerated the collapse of the state into warring sectarian blocks. This cannot be fixed.
    And I see we are staying the course:
    “Continue to pressure Iran and Syria to end their interference in Iraq, in part by hitting back at Iranian proxies in Iraq and by Secretary Rice holding an Iraq-plus-neighbors meeting in the region in early December; and
    Step up our efforts to get Saudi Arabia to take a leadership role in supporting Iraq by using its influence to move Sunni populations in Iraq out of violence into politics, to cut off any public or private funding provided to the insurgents or death squads from the region and to lean on Syria to terminate its support for Baathists and insurgent leaders.”
    Well good luck with that.
    The Saudis have already taken a leadership role in Iraq; they are funding the Sunni Insurgency and sending their sons as suicide bombers to massacre Shi’a.
    Yesterday Iraq restored diplomatic relations with Syria on and we had Jalal Talabani and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sitting down together. Khamenei loudly blamed the DC for the whole mess and even said the great-Satan was now set on deliberately tipping Iraq into further chaos.
    “Our top priority is expansion of comprehensive ties,” IRNA cited Talabani as saying. “We will also talk in detail about Iraq’s security because Iraq is in dire need of Iran’s comprehensive assistance for pursuing its campaign against terrorism and for the establishment of peace and security.”
    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:
    “A secure, advanced and powerful Iraq can secure the interests of the Iraqi nation, be beneficial for Iran and the entire region,” Ahmadinejad said late yesterday at a news conference, according to Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency. “We have to remain by the side of one another and to share the sorrows and happy moments of each other.”
    And Al Sadr’s guy walked out of Parliment because Maliki had the nerve to meet the Potus in Jordan.
    Even the Iraqis in the Green Zone now realize the US electoral clock is ticking towards 08 and everybody is reaching for a Parsi phrase book.
    And there is this recommendation in the memo:
    “Continue to target Al Qaeda and insurgent strongholds in Baghdad to demonstrate the Shia do not need the JAM to protect their families — and that we are a reliable partner;”
    When Sunni insurgents can launch two hour long attacks on Baghdad ministries without US or Iraqi troops lifting a finger after the slaughter over two hundred Shi’a in a single attack the Shi’a could be forgiven for thinking what they need is a bigger and better Mehdi Army and that the well groomed folk in the Emerald City have abandoned them.
    Reliable partners we are not.

  14. Duncan Kinder says:

    Obviously, if there is any solution to this mess, a revised US energy policy is a big part of it.
    The head of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)was interviewed on Charlie Rose last night. He seemed optimistic about the United States’ ability to devise technologically and economically feasible long term oil-free energy policies.
    RMI publishes a newsletter, which you can download from the internet.

  15. Will says:

    I see in Haaretz, an Israel newspaper, where Israel wants to talk to Syria but Dumbya, a.k.a. No. 43, is discouraging the talking to “terrorists” who are destabilizing Irak and Leb.
    Of course No. 43 (that must be his strategic I.Q.) is a liar as well as a dumbarse. Here is what I have learned from reading Professor Joshua Landis’ blog.
    1. Syria’s Bashir Assad is better off w/o his army and intelligence services in Lebanon. The heads of those outfits were co-opted by Leb politicians and became rival power centers that plotted his overthrow or at least caused a reasonable dictator sleepless nights. Hariri, Sr., slain Leb p.m. and billionaire with access to Saudi money, started joint enterprises with Ghazi Kannan former Syrian Leb pro-consul, Abdul Halim Khaddam a former Syrian Vice Prez and FM, etc. Hariri was so rich he even bankrolled Chirac who attended his funeral. Even Assad’s brother-in-law got mixed up in the Beirut Medina bank scandal.
    2. Former vice president and former foreign minister Khaddam (now a leader in exiled opposition) tried to help the Irak Alawi goverment by convening Sunni tribal chieftins in Iraq. Got absolutely no credit from U.S. for that. Syria has pretty much stopped foreign fighter infiltration from its border.
    Hariri, Sr. had bought off Khaddam by buying him a French Chateau. I wonder what his bribe to Cheney was?
    That would be an impeachable offense if Darth Pumphead didn’t declare it on his taxes. Still impeachable.

  16. MarcLord says:

    Col. Lang,
    I trust your instincts and experience wrt self-leaking of this mal-Maliki info.
    Hadley or Wurmser would be the bag-man, Cheney the source, with the objective to block the negotiations with Iran/Syria. (As you know I see a lot more value in the ISG project than you or others here tend to, so I’m seeing this move through that prism.)
    Whether I’m right on ISG/Baker or not, the bottom lines are that support for negotiating a solution is snowballing, Cheney feels very threatened, and he is struggling to maintain his control over POTUS.

  17. Will says:

    I forgot a couple of little items. Little b/ crucial to making sense of my prior comments about Khaddam and Cheney.
    The Syrian Abdul Halim Khaddam was briefly VP under Hafez Assad and FM under Bashir Assad. He was a Sunni in a sea of Alawatites.
    Syria is a predominantly Sunni country governed by an Alawite minority. It would be a stretch to call the Alawite Shiite. It took a generous bribe to a Leb cleric to obtain a fatwa declaring them Shiites. They celebrate Christmas, Easter, believe souls come from stars and ascend back to stars. The Assads have tried to mainstream them into conventional Islam.
    As a Sunni, Khaddam,he was able to work with the Iraki Sunni Sheiks whose tribes span both Irak and Syria. Bashir probably thought that Hariri, Sr. was plotting his assasination with Khaddam or Kannan.
    Khaddam, in exile and opposition, has allied himself with the relatively moderate (compared to Egypt) Muslim brotherhood.
    Cheney and Hariri Sr. were very good friends. Greased with Mr. Green?

  18. lina says:

    Cheney leaked the memo because the Saudis told him to discredit Maliki.
    Steve Clemons has some interesting thoughts on the Saudi angle:

  19. Rider says:

    Can there be any clearer demonstration of the low level to which George W. Bush has taken American credibility and influence than al-Maliki’s snub? There you have it, Mr. Bush.

  20. arbogast says:

    Well, well, well. We now have the first direct fall-out from the November election.
    I present to you, George Will, columnist for the Washington Post.
    My only question is how does he type the columns with his head up his ass.
    The righties are really steaming. Really, really steaming. It hurts to be a loser.

  21. Will says:

    Darn, I have stepped on it again. When I said Khaddam tried to help the Irak “Alawi” goverment, I of course meant the Iyad “Awali” goverment.
    And pardon me if i appeared to be casting aspersions at the mainly Syrian “Alawi” religion. Although Episcopalian, I am a freemason an am pretty well into esoteric religions, particulary those of the eclectic hidden text variety that mix in gnostic and neoplatonic philosoply. I just have a hard time that Ali was God incarnate (Alawi) or the Fatimid Caliph Hakim (Druze).
    for more read

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