Did Blackwater Undermine Bush's Korea-Type Dreams?
According to the Washington Post this morning, the Blackwater massacre in Baghdad is causing a serious breach between the State Department and Central Command. State is trying to defend Blackwater by saying the Defense Department has more contracts with them than they do, which the Post points out is a lie. The Defense Department says that Blackwater is out of control, that the massacre portends more trouble for the United States than Abu Ghraib, and that these troubles undermine Bush Administration efforts to sell the Iraqis on a long-term presence for American troops.
The fears of CENTCOM are being realized. Yesterday, in a little-noticed story, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said he now doesn’t foresee a long term presence for American troops in Iraq, saying that parliament would have to approve such an agreement at a time when al-Maliki is now saying that civil war has been averted and that the Bush Administration is overstating Iranian influence. Today, the same Iraqi parliament that has been deadlocked on reconciliation efforts found the consensus to draft a new law that would eliminate the immunity Paul Bremer granted private security companies like Blackwater. And now it appears that State is no longer going to be shielding Blackwater from congressional inquiries, after al-Maliki met with Bush yesterday at the UN and probably indicated that the Iraqis will not be backing down on this.
Although the Iraqis are not asking for an immediate American pullout, they are clearly signaling that over the next 12-24 months they expect us to withdraw, don’t want a long-term presence for American troops, and have cast their lot with Iran and other regional neighbors. Democratic candidates should take note of this in their messaging about Iraq, and point out to voters that a Democratic president will abide by what the Iraqis want and our national security dictates, and not what the defense and oil industry wants. This can be portrayed as a clear repudiation of the Bush foreign policy and realignment back to what is in our best interests in the region, a refocus back to terrorism and not imperial empire.