Saturday, July 19, 2008

But he's not "endorsing" Obama

Woke up to this interesting tidbit.

Seems that the Iraqi prime minister would like to see us out of his hair as soon as possible. Perhaps he feels that our presence only keeps the pot stirred. Further, McCain's "100 years, if necessary" cannot be a pleasant thought.

It will be interesting to see what comes of Obama's visit to Iraq.


pluto said...

I also found the tidbit quite interesting. Unfortunately the al-Maliki's office has since stated that he was "misunderstood" and that he's not endorsing any specific plan for US troop withdrawls.

basilbeast said...

It seems Sistani has been busy?

I think that the key mistake many observers (perhaps including Abu Aardvark et al.) make is to assume that there are only two sides to the Iraqi situation: the U.S. occupation and those who ally with it, and the "resistance" (Sunni, Sadrist, or whatever) that takes up arms against it. They forget that the government Maliki represents wasn't created by the Americans -- it came about following popular elections demanded by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who also established the coalition to which Maliki belongs and lent his considerable prestige to ensure its victory. And Sistani probably didn't go through all that trouble just to be known as the guy who rubber-stamped a permanent U.S. occupation.

Back in Febuary 2004, Anthony Shadid of the Washington Post wrote a profile of Sistani that has long influenced my writings on Iraq; it describes the grand ayatollah as primarily motivated by memories of 1920 -- when Shiites rebelled directly against the British, and were rewarded with 80 years of Sunni/secular domination -- and determined not to let his followers miss this opportunity.

It's always seemed to me that his solution was to cooperate initially with the U.S. invasion, use the American military as a contractor of sorts to help cement a Shiite-led government's power, then nudge us aside when the task was more or less complete. Maliki's newfound spine, if anything, just means that they think that time is drawing closer.


bsilbeast said...

Speaking of Iraq, I ran into this right after my post:

My friend, who is serving in Afghanastan wrote me last night about his impressions of waiting to see Barack. Can't say his name as you really can't be out politically while serving active duty but he said I could post his view to share with all of you.

Just got to see Sen Obama on his way from the US embassy in Kabul. You should have seen the security coverage, several Blackhawks circling as his chinook came in and following his motorcade out. Though seeing him (from a distance) out here is thrill, even more exciting was the crowd of service members from many nations who waited for a momentary glimpse.

Of course, out here (almost) any excitement is welcomed in the stretches of boredom that accompany duty in Afghanistan, but as we waited for something to happen for over an hour the discussion of everyone's feeling and thoughts for the election and Afghanistan's future revealed just how much people out here are pinning their hopes on the US to make a good call this November and for the next president to get things done to recover from recent setbacks.

These are the guys and gals who have been on multiple combat tours, some here, many in Iraq, and sound bites about "Cutting and Running" or "Bring It On" don't go far. They want intelligent discussion and results.

I hope American voters are smart enough to demand the same for the next few months, and the next four years.

As everyone focuses on each little shift in campaign strategy, each media story of the day, I hope they remember that momentary disappointments or elation need to be kept in the context of the folks dying out here. Lost another Coalition soldier yesterday afternoon, and it has been a rough week for civilian casualties in the crossfire with a resurgent Taliban.

Very glad Sen Obama knows this is where he should be, if only for a day or two.

As one British Sergeant exclaimed, "I just got a photo of the next
President of the United States!" I do hope he is
right. -- Kabul, Afghanistan

I was happy to get a second email from my friend this morning. He did get to meet Barack in person and sent me a picture. He was smiling from ear to ear.



FDChief said...

I'm with basil on this: I think that the primary effect of this has been to flush out the prejudices of the reporter. The "leaving is losing" crowd is trying to find a way to just frankly ignore it without every actually having to admit that pretty much anyone with a forebrain would get crankly having 100,000-plus heavily armed foreigners stomping around in their yard. Many of us on the "what the hell is the geopolitical objective?" side of the discussion have been trying to make this into Maliki's "Give me liberty" moment without any real evidence that he is trying to become some sort of Garibaldi or Bolivar to Iraq.

I'm sure the guy would like to rely less on his foreign proxies. I'm sure he'd like a bunch of stuff - what he can get and what he'd like are two very different things.

My take generally is:

1. Many Iraqis would like us gone - that's a no brainer.
2. Many of them want us to stay, either for protection from, or for wreaking bloody war on, their enemies.
3. While this gives some insight into the thinking of the Malikists, the context is too twisted to take purely at face value.
4. The real burning center of the Iraq debate is not touched on by this: what exactly is the end state we are willing to accept? Are we willing to fight anyone - including the Malikist government - if their definition of an acceptable end state differs from ours? Are we wedded hip-and-thigh to the current IG?

As always, the lack of any real, honest and open discussion of our goals (especially given the mostly-concealed goals of the Bush crowd that gifted us with this clusterfuck) cripples us in assessing what this statement may or may not mean.

WASF, as usual.

sheerahkahn said...

I have to say that great side of all this is watching the McCain train wreck fall to pieces as they try to mimic Obama's positions. The fact that McCain has totally reversed his position from when he first started campaigning indicates to me that he must've actually talked to people who told him "ya know...that idea of yours of being in Iraq with permanent bases and all...not such a good idea with me."

And with all the other gaffe's of McCain's campaign...well, it's starting to look like Dukakis's run for the Presidency...or perhaps Mondales.