Cole in Salon: The War on al-Maliki

My Salon column for Wednesday is now available: “The war against Iraq’s prime minister:”

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin are calling for Nouri al-Maliki’s ouster as a way of attacking Bush’s Iraq policy. But do they understand the consequences?”

Excerpt:

‘ In his remarks to the American Legion in Reno, Nev., Bush said that the Iraqi government was America’s shield in the region against both of these forces of “Islamic extremism,” and said of Maliki, “The prime minister of Iraq, Prime Minister Maliki, has courageously committed to pursue the forces of evil and destruction.”

Bush was defending Maliki, even at the cost of implausibly depicting the leader of the fundamentalist Shiite Islamic Call (al-Da’wa) Party as an opponent of Iran and Hezbollah, because the prime minister has been under virtual siege from Washington politicians for the past week and a half. He’s become the favorite whipping boy of opponents of continued U.S. military presence in Iraq.

Maliki has been unafraid to mount his own defense against his American critics. On Sunday, he slammed Sens. Carl Levin and Hillary Clinton for calling for the Iraqi parliament to oust him. He accused the senators of acting as if Iraq were “the feudal estate of this person or that,” a metaphor that went over the head of most American observers. Modern Iraqi political parties such as the Islamic Call were formed in part as a reaction against the landlord class that dominated Iraq under the British-installed monarchy. Maliki was saying the senators were bringing back colonialism and disregarding the Iraqi political process. “They are Democrats,” he quipped of Clinton and Levin, “so they should respect democracy and its results.” ‘

Read the whole thing.

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