“The Asian smiles…” (Maliki in this case)

_41760740_duo_afp203in "The White House says President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the timing of troop reductions should be part of a broader security agreement being negotiated between Washington and Baghdad."  NY Times


Bush’s White House probably thinks it has outplayed the Iraqis in this matter, but the Iraqis are likely to see the situation in exactly the opposite way.

Having pressured the occupier (muhtalil) into conceding this much, the Maliki government will "pocket" the result and this expectation of US withdrawal at a pace satisfactory to the Iraqi government will become the "starting point" for future pressure on the US to pull its combat units out of the country gradually on a schedule that the Maliki government thinks will preserve its power.

If Obama is elected, the Baghdad government will find him accommodating in giving them what he already wants to give them.

If McCain is elected,(still a 55% probability IMO) he will have a very hard time denying them what they and the American people want. Since AQI is largely a "dead duck," and likely to stay that way, it would seem likely that the other contestants for power in Iraq; Sunni groups, Shia parties, Kurds, etc., will be quiet enough to set the stage for that.  The Kurds will get some sort of overt assurance from the US.  The Sunni Arabs will be helped as well, but much less visibly, and not just from the US.  Their Sunni brethren will "sign up" for that help.  Iran really wants a deal with America.  How they will behave in the context of an American withdrawal from their backyard is unpredictable in detail.  IMO, they prefer it that way.  I would do the same thing, but their behavior would be altogether predictable in the context of a putative Israeli or US/Israeli attack on their homeland.

Nevertheless, I think that this "agreement" is the beginning of the end for a large scale American troop unit presence in Iraq.  There will be a residual presence in Iraq for some time (several years) doing all the things that are endlessly talked about, but Admiral Mullen’s statements about the unavailability of troops for Afghanistan should be taken seriously. 

Get over it, neocons!  You like to talk about Saddam being gone.  Savor that thought!  Revolution in the Middle East was always a bad idea.  There are no good Islamist governments.  How you could have thought there might be is a mystery which points unmistakably at the depth of your illusions about the region.  pl


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15 Responses to “The Asian smiles…” (Maliki in this case)

  1. alex says:

    I don’t think you are quite right there, PL, although the general sense of beginning of the decline in the occupation is fine.
    The AP story only quotes the White House’s view of events, apart from old material from Rubaie. The White House is living in fantasy land over the SOFA agreement. You should not believe them.
    Maliki is not going to sign anything, not even a temporary agreement. He probably would do so, if he were free. But he is not. He is under extreme pressure in Iraq not to sign away Iraqi sovereignty. Everyone is very sensitive about it (except the Kurds). The easiest solution is to procrastinate, and not to sign, not to make commitments. Signing anything could mean assassination.
    My view is that we are going to see the US returning to the UN later in the year, to extend the mandate, as Iraq doesn’t have a voice there. But we’ll see.

  2. Homer says:

    Its quite saddening to know that the situation that exists in Iraq and will probably exist for quite some time is what the Bush administration has done as a direct but inadvertent response to the horrific attacks of 9/11.
    Remember ….
    On 9/11/2001 (i.e., back when it was GWB’s “most solemn oath” {which was strongly marketed as a selling point for his second term} to protect the US from attack), Sunni extremists hi-jacked some planes and caused thousands of people to die ghastly deaths (e.g.: throat slit; burned to death; vaporized; asphyxiated; etc) and also caused billions of dollars in damage.
    To counter another attack and at the cost of countless tens of thousands of Iraqi and American lives and limbs and $3 trillion, the Bush admin with the help of the Congress inadvertently thrust the reins of power into the hands of men who have devoted their entire adult lives to transforming a secular Iraq into a Shiite fundamentalist republic which has close to to extremist elements in Iraq.
    How can they possibly still be in power?
    Why is the rest of the world standing by idly?

  3. Mad Dogs says:

    The oddsmakers in your neck of the woods are stealing ya’ll blind. *g*
    45% and momentum gathering heading downward.

  4. Now Iraq has outwaited and outwitted the US. No way the UN will extend the mandate after December. So Presidential winner is forced to comply with UN position. Then the “fun” begins.

  5. Walrus says:

    I’m going to be the optimist this time.
    I think that either under Bush, McCain or Obama, the idiots in Washington have finally seen the doom that is approaching thanks to their consistent adherence to deliberately stupid policies, to whit : Doing nothing about America’s addiction to oil, and America’s fanatical support for Israel…..and the doom of course is driving the Iranians and most of central Asia into the arms of a Russian led energy cartel.
    The costs of these policies are finally become apparent as concerns about “Peak Oil” surface.
    I’m going to predict a major “Flip Flop” that has already started with Bush’s apparent decision to talk privately to Iran.
    1. A total reversal of our attitude to Iran.
    2. Rapprochement with the Maliki Government.
    3. Concentration on Afghanistan as an oil and gas corridor out of central Asia Westwards, via Iran if necessary.
    The enabling policy decision for all this will be the dropping of Israel into the merde it so richly deserves, the promotion of Arabists in all future Administrations, as we try and become the best friend Islam ever had. An immediate consequence will be the detection and suppression of Zionist and Israeli influence in American Government and the economy, and a curt direction to Israel to make a deal with the Palestinians immediately.
    Or to put it crudely, AIPAC is going to be told: “Israel ain’t got no oil”.

  6. joe says:

    Is that heading a Gang of Four reference?

  7. Curious says:

    The european economy now start to fry. It is about to move from slowdown to recession. I don’t think the EU will tolerate much more of Condi incompetence. (Now that she has near zero power)
    European recession looms as Spain crumbles
    But, Rice said, “it should be very clear to everyone the United States has a condition for the beginning of negotiations with Iran and that condition remains the verifiable suspension of Iran’s enrichment and reprocessing activities.
    “Iran is a difficult and dangerous state, and it is a state that is pursuing policies that are dangerous to our friends and dangerous to international peace and stability, particularly its support for terrorism and its pursuit of this nuclear technology that could lead to a nuclear weapon,” she said. “But we have been very clear that any country can change course. The United States doesn’t have any permanent enemies.”
    Condi still don’t know what game is being played. It is now not “few market rumor” anymore, but global money supply by way of asia and middle east.
    The next hurricane hitting the gulf and affecting oil price/gas price. It’s going to be very painful if things are still the same.
    On top of that all Iran has to do is keep churning their centrifuge, reorganize their economy, restructure their military capability, more missiles and play the oil economy.
    Everybody knows the calendar.
    1. hurricane season
    2. Olympic (China finally making their move)
    3. Q3 economic report
    so things like oil pipeline in mexico, canadian electricity transmission, gulf oil terminal accident, africa oil supply, europe energy supply, Russia money transfer, random military exercise in Israel, lebanon, etc..
    will fit those events.
    all of a sudden we have major banking collapse and dollar run.

  8. Will says:

    As I have previously shared, it is the pencil pushers and not the ditch diggers that run a country. American Jews may be less than 3% of the population but due to these three factors: a) the average jewish IQ is 115 b) the bell shaped Guassian distribution c) and the effect on the shoulder or extremity, then the outcome is that one out of every four American with an IQ over 140 is a Jewish-American.
    That is the IQ number where the rubber hits the road, your doctors, lawyers, leaders, the people that run things. 13 US Senators, 43 congressmen, 2 Supremes, Guvs, Obama’s handler Axelrod, Cheney’s former Chief of Staff Scooter. At one time No. 2 at the Pentagon Wolfie, No. 3 Feith (at the same time).
    Keep on dreaming Walrus, Jews will continue to control. The only hope is that they will themselves come around. People like Uri Avnery, Edward Witten, and people of good heart and broad perspective and lovers of all mankind will take front and center.
    Maybe a Bloomberg will step froward and say enough of this bullcrap, let’s end this West Bank colonization. The game is up!

  9. Jose says:

    About the “Jacobin neocans”, “go back into the abyss…”. – Gandalf the Grey

  10. LeaNder says:

    “Keep on dreaming Walrus, Jews will continue to control. The only hope is that they will themselves come around. People like Uri Avnery, Edward Witten, and people of good heart and broad perspective and lovers of all mankind will take front and center.”
    Will, I recommend you read the Jstreet survey, not the press release–I have to admit single numbers triggered a little prejudice in my case too. Take a look at the survey data itself.(I am assuming the SPLIT A/B looks at age groups but only highlights relevant difference, not sure about MEAN/ID in Question 11, go back to stastics … I have to read it again, and slightly chance the outlay for easier reading). It’s by far one of the most intelligent survey designs I have seen for a long time. I wish ADL consulted the firm for their European “surveys”, but strategic/dialogic approaches may not be in ADL’s interests? It surely opens up space and the dialogical approach it suggests gives me hope. Nitwit:
    Haaretz’s Rosner Rips JStreet a New One
    Survey Data
    And “intelligence” may be quite a good feature for strategic work after all. Jstreet surely have to move carefully and slowly, and they deserve support.
    “The Asian smiles”, my association: Change. It’s better to bend with the storms than to be broken by them.

  11. jon says:

    Bush has decided to smile and declare victory when the facts show defeat. A month ago they were adamant about a SOF agreement that got them out from under UN review. The agreement essentially keeps things as they are, with a promise to argue over the details later.
    With the rebellion quieted Maliki probably thinks that the future looks pretty good. Dawa is probably the most precariously situated of the major parties, and his personal safety is probable a very chancy thing. The Sunni and the Mahdi are quiet because it suits them now. They are waiting for the contest that will come.
    If the US does not lower its profile and begin substantial force withdrawals the situation will deteriorate once more.
    Iran certainly wants to keep their gains. And no one wants to rebuild 70% of their nation’s infrastructure after air strikes. 10 years ago they could not have imagined that not only would Iraq not be a belligerent, mortal enemy, but that they would effectively control it. But I think they are negotiating to run the clock out, unless they think they will be able to get a better deal by talking with the US. Sarkozy seems to have tipped the scales.
    Current US raproachment moves might also be a feint to provide them with superior time and position. ‘Nothing is off the table’ they keep repeating with a broad smile.
    The complete nuclear fuel cycle has been an important issue for Iran. Besides it’s potential for weapons proliferation, they probably see it as a matter of national pride, placing them among the industrialized nations and as a demonstration of national capabilities, scientific and technological prowess. If they give that up, it will be for a very good price.
    The Neocon hallucination could never be accomplished and is now repudiated. They wanted a secular nationalist government oriented towards the US. The closest they could have come to that was Saddam in the ’80s. But they foreclosed that possibility. Instead they put their money on Chalabi, a known thief and Iranian cat’s paw – who proceed to act entirely true to form. Though discredited and repudiated, the Neocons have not lost any power or influence. (though they have scattered, a bit like roaches in the light) They wait for the chance to replay this record. If McCain is elected they will be rewarded.

  12. Homer says:

    Iraq Leader Maliki Supports Obama’s Withdrawal Plans
    In an interview with SPIEGEL, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Barack Obama’s 16 timeframe for a withdrawal from Iraq is the right one.

  13. Altoid says:

    I wish I could be so hopeful about the collapse of the neocon project.
    “Combat troops” is the key phrase in bush’s press conference. Just what are the “combat troops” he now says will be out eventually?
    From the very beginning of Dick and Don’s Excellent Adventure it was my conviction that one of the real goals was to station something like 30-50,000 rapid-reaction-type troops in about three major bases in Iraq. Their mission would be to occupy or destroy major oil fields in the region on very short notice. They’d also be available, with air power, to bail out whatever puppet government ended up in place there.
    Forces like this would not be patrolling Baghdad or manning checkpoints. They’d be holed up on bases in the western desert and in friendly Kurdish areas and in a Fort Apache somewhere in the center or south. They’d be going on missions from these bases and running air strikes from them and from carriers.
    Ergo, they’re not “combat troops.”
    It seems almost inconceivable to me that the neocons wouldn’t be working feverishly to keep at least this much of their grand plan alive.
    Granted, they’d be jettisoning “democracy.” But this plan would still maintain imperial control. And in my view, imperial control was always the real point anyway.
    This isn’t to say that Maliki or anyone else in Iraq would roll over for it; Iraqis have dealt with and defeated this kind of project before. It’s just to say that this is what bush, Cheney, McCain, and cronies are likely to have in mind.
    Somebody needs to press bush on what he means when he says “combat troops.”

  14. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Just my opinion, but I believe it is wise to continue to assume that the Wurmser option still yields great influence within the USG. At the moment, I see odds decreasing of such occurring, in part because of the decrease in oil prices. But I am yet to see anyone within the USG repudiate the Wurmser option, and it was first revealed in late summer, 07. The subsequent NIE blocked it somewhat, but I see no evidence that it has been abandoned.
    And the best way to sell an attack on Iran is to give an appearance that “we” did all that we could do beforehand. And if the GOI goes ahead and attacks Iran, as Benny Morris is begging it do in his recent screed in the Times, then the result is Middle East chaos. It is Ledeen’s infantile “creative destruction“ idea come to fruition. Then the USG can claim, “ You see, ‘we’ were even going to withdraw forces from Iraq. But then Israel launched a pre-emptive strike, Iran responded, and we have had no choice but to strike back.”
    To refresh the memory, here is a Reuters article from Sept. 07 titled, “Cheney Mulled Israeli Strike on Iran.”
    And here’s a quote from the article worth pondering: “Citing two unidentified sources, Newsweek said former Cheney Middle East adviser David Wurmser told a small group several months ago that Cheney was considering asking Israel to strike the Iranian nuclear site at Natanz.
    A military response by Iran could give Washington an excuse to then launch airstrikes of its own, Newsweek said.”
    And here is Steve Clemmons from May 24:
    “This White House official has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an “end run strategy” around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument.
    The thinking on Cheney’s team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran’s nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles (i.e., not ballistic missiles).”
    Ah, there it is again. A “limited” strike, which of course would place USM at much greater peril. In times past, the American public would have grabbed pitchforks and headed to DC if such was admitted.
    So where is the evidence that the USG has abandoned this plan to have USM personnel killed in order to initiate a wider war? It all starts with Israel. And there is no evidence that the USG is telling the GOI not to even consider it, as such a strike would place USM personnel in harm’s way. Not one iota of evidence. All evidence is to the contrary.
    One would think that Congress would subpoena Wurmser, place him under oath, conduct a thorough and sifting cross examination, and then get it on the record.
    Conclusion: all analysis should continue to assume that people within the USG are promoting the Wurmser option behind close doors.

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