Saturday, July 14, 2007

Maliki's progress

By Michael J.W. Stickings

***Updated below***

According to the BBC, "Iraq's PM Nouri Maliki has shrugged off criticism of his government's political progress, saying delays in the face of such violence were 'fairly natural'. He said 'international interference' was partly to blame and called for more time to reach Washington's benchmarks."

Uh, "international interference"? Hmmm.

Of course what Maliki really means by progress is the concentration of more and more power in the hands of Shiite sectarians like himself, not to mention like those in the Sadr-oriented militias. And of course it may be that his government, however illegitimate, or however incompetent, never really stood a chance of success, given how from the start it was a sectarian authority set up by American occupiers and how the war and subsequent occupation were so badly botched by American authorities both in Washington and in Baghdad.

Which is not to excuse Maliki, just to point out that the whole thing stinks.

**********

And the whole think stinks as the death toll rises and rises. Here -- Just another day in the life and death of Iraq LXIII -- is the latest:

Police say nine people, all believed to be Shia men from the same extended family, were shot dead in a village near Hilla, south of Baghdad, after gunmen raided a house.

The US military reported that it had killed six suspected insurgents in an air strike near Baquba, north of Baghdad.

In the capital itself a car bomb killed six people and injured 15 near a petrol station in the south of the city and in the east a bomb placed inside minivan killed one person and destroyed a block of flats.

A translator working for the Reuters news agency has also been killed -- the third Reuters employee to die this week.

And police also announced that 21 unidentified bodies had been found on the streets of the capital on Friday.

Progress, huh? Sure. Whatever.

**********

Regarding Maliki's comments, I should add this, from the AP: "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki shrugged off U.S. doubts of his government's military and political progress on Saturday, saying Iraqi forces are capable and American troops can leave 'any time they want.'"

He's no doubt wrong about both his government and Iraqi forces, but, as for the U.S. leaving, how about... now? Sure thing, Nouri. We hope Bush gets the message. (See below for more.)

As Steve Benen points out, Maliki's "get out" message contradicts what Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said earlier in the week, which was, essentially, that "a U.S. withdrawal would make Iraq's chaos worse".

Looks like pretty much everyone wants the U.S. to get out: the American people, the Iraqi people, the Iraqi government, the Democrats, many (and far more than have come out publicly) Republicans, just about everyone else around the world.

Who's left? Bush, Cheney, and their minions, the diehard neocons, McCain, Lieberman. Pretty lousy company.

But, then, it's been a pretty lousy war.

**********

Will Bush get the message? No, not much gets through to The Presidential Bubble Boy. Although many in his own party are at long last abandoning him -- like Sens. Warner and Lugar -- Bush continues to insist, even in light of the report that Iraq is not meeting the benchmarks, that the war is not lost: "This report shows that conditions can change, progress can be made, and the fight in Iraq can be won."

Hence the surge must go on and on and on... even though conditions aren't changing, progress isn't being made, and the war has already been lost.

Saying so won't make it so, but Bush continues to be driven by stubborn self-righteousness and the delusions that stem from it.

Yes, it's been a pretty lousy war run by a pretty lousy president.

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