Post And NYT Ignore Iraq's Leverage Against Bush Administration
I mentioned in a piece yesterday that the Iraqis have now taken the upper hand in their relationship with the Bush Administration. An AP report yesterday indicated that the al-Maliki government was keenly aware of Bush’s domestic political problems and was taking advantage of that to leverage the White House into policy decisions of the Iraqis' choosing. For example, al-Maliki wants the United States to agree to a timetable that transfers control of the Iraqi armed forces to the Iraqis within six months, rather than 12-18 months as the Bush Administration wants. Also, al-Maliki wants the Americans to use their forces to eliminate Al Qaeda and the Sunni insurgency for him, rather than target and make him deal with the Shiite militias, which comprise his power base.
The Iraqis know that Bush will do anything to look like he is still in control between now and the election, so they are seizing this opportunity to make their own demands while they have this leverage.
Al-Suneid, however, said al-Maliki was intentionally using the displeasure of American voters over Bush's handling of the war to strengthen his position.
"It's al-Maliki's chance to get what he wants. It's a chance for al-Maliki to force a better deal for himself," he said.
Note that neither the Post or the New York Times addressed this issue in their vanilla, White House-scripted pieces on this today, preferring instead to focus on Bush’s effort to still look like he was working collaboratively with the Iraqis when in fact they have taken the upper hand.
As the Democrats have been saying for months, the only club the United States has left with the Iraqi government to get them to fully commit to their own security is the threat of an immediate redeployment, yet the Iraqis know that Bush will never play this card because he cannot admit defeat. So they have Bush right where they want him, if only the Post and the Times noticed. The Iraqis are quite satisfied to use our troops as policemen in the intervening six months until he forces us to either leave or topple him.