McCaffrey: Iraq Gov’t Dysfunctional
Support for al-Maliki Eroding
Now that Senator John McCain has retired the Straight Talk Express, retired general Barry McCaffrey, a veteran of the Gulf War, has taken up the mantle. McCaffrey has recently carried out a study of the situation in Iraq. Highlights (not in original order):
“We’re in trouble.”
“The Iraqi government in power is dysfunctional.”
“There is essentially no province in Iraq where the central government holds sway.”
“Iraq’s neighbors are bearing no good will toward a favorable outcome in Iraq.”
” . . . collectively the American people have said that the conduct of the war has been so incompetent that we’ve come to disbelieve the administration has the ability to carry this off.”
“The next president, unless the situation in Iraq is dramatically turned around, is pulling the plug.”
Gee, I guess Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are in pretty good company after all. It is Dick Cheney who is living in fantasyland.
In contrast, it seems clear that former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld routinely sent spokesmen out to lie to us about cases like that of Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman. Lynch says she was no Rambo, and that Tillman was killed by ‘friendly fire’ was covered up.
USA Today reports that support for the al-Maliki government in parliament is eroding. He hasn’t been able to push key legislation through parliament, and appears indecisive. (I think the problems are structural, not inherent in al-Maliki’s personality. He seems pretty decisive to me. But he heads what is essentially a minority government, since his United Iraqi Alliance only has about 85 members in the 275-member parliament after recent defections. He can only survive by depending heavily on the Kurdistan Alliance, a bloc deeply committed to a weak federal government. He doesn’t have much of an army of his own, and cannot independently do much about the guerrilla war. It is not clear who could do better.
Kim Gamel of AP writes about the new “dump truck bomb” tactics of the Sunni Arab guerrillas in Iraq.
The LA Times reports a major split in the Iraqi Baath Party. The Baath is more important as a component of the guerrilla war than is usually admitted by the US press and by the Bush administration. Al-Hayat reported this winter that actually the Baath has split into 4 parties, with Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri leading the most influential one.
The US is pursuing indirect diplomacy with Iran on a range of issues now, Warren Strobel and Nancy Youssef report.
Reuters reports political violence in Iraq for Monday.
Tomdispatch considers the Virginia Tech murder spree in a global context, with former State Department official John Brown writing on ‘the Cho in the White House.’