Give Maliki a chance

Friday, October 27, 2006
So says Greyhawk over at Mudville. Greyhawk has done several posts in the last couple of days regarding supposed tension between the US and the Iraqi government. He attributes much of the problem to bad reporting and thinks the disagreement has been overblown.

But enough of yesterday's news - on to Maliki's bombshell for today - in which he declares that he can get the job done sooner than the most optimistic U.S. timeline anyway:

Iraq's prime minister said on Thursday he could get violence under control in six months, half the time U.S. generals say they need, provided Washington gave him more weaponry and more say over his own forces.
<...>
"They think building Iraqi forces will need 12 to 18 months, for us to be in control of security," Maliki said, referring to remarks two days ago by U.S. commander General George Casey.

"We agree our forces need work but think that if, as we are asking, the rebuilding of our forces was in our own hands, then it would take not 12-18 months but six might be enough."
<...>
"I am now prime minister and overall commander of the armed forces yet I cannot move a single company without Coalition approval because of the U.N. mandate," Maliki said.

"I have to be careful fighting some militias and terrorists ... because they are better armed than the army and police," Maliki said. "The police are sharing rifles."
<...>
Asked what kind of Iraqi forces he wanted, Maliki said: "I'm not talking about modern tanks or modern warplanes and missiles ... I'm talking about having a well-trained army, swift and light on its feet and at the same time with medium weapons."

That kind of leadership is exactly what is needed in Iraq - I say we give him what he wants, get out of the way as much as possible, and see what happens in six months.

read it all.

I am not psychic nor am I a military expert, so I think I will just wait and see what happens, but I do think that after we have gone to all this trouble to establish a representative government in Iraq it would be a shame if we just said to hell with it, the Muslims are hopeless.

16 comments:

Luther McLeod said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Luther McLeod said...

What silence.

Rick Ballard said...

Well, I'm mulling whether iron sights only, semi-automatic and a fifty yard head start would constitute "giving Maliki a chance". I don't think that's what Terrye has in mind but I can't figure out why anyone in the world a fellow who let the security situation go to hell in Baghdad for the past six months should be believed when he promises to fix everything in the next six months. If we'll only give him arms and complete control, of course.

It sounds as if Maliki has received the message and mirabile dictu violence in Baghdad has dropped like a shot in the past five days. Without additional arms or him having "complete control".

It's almost as if he whispered in Mucky's ear.

terrye said...

Rick:

And as we all know the situation was just peachy when Maliki got there.

So why didn't they kill Sadr a year ago or two years ago before Maliki was in there? Whose fault was it it then? And do you suggest we just nullify the election? Just ignore that whole bothersome democracy thing?

I have a radical suggestion..why don't those of us who are not there and really do not know everything that is going on cool it with the Monday morning quaterbacking for a while and see what happens?

It might well be that Maliki will be replaced by the Iraqis themselves.

Rick Ballard said...

Terrye,

You made the same suggestion during the Israeli fiasco. "The Israeli government knows what it's doing - who are we to comment." Except that they didn't.

It is not a nullification of the election that I'm seeking at all. It's recognition that Maliki is seeking to consolidate power in order to abrogate that election. I don't know how you can read "just turn the army over to my command" as anything but a power grab. What's your explanation for the cessation (lowering at least) of the level of violence in Baghdad? Maliki and Sadr are arm in arm and pretending otherwise is willful blindness.

As to "why didn't they kill Sadr?" It beats me. I called for it over at Belmont Club as soon as he emerged. It may be because US policy is actually acting as if islam was a curable disease. It's not, and if that concept is at the bottom of our planning process then we've made a grave error.

You have to come up with something better than "let's not talk about it because the people running things know things that we don't". Think about how that would apply if Bubba was still sitting in the Oval Orifice - worse yet, do you intend to apply the same standard if, horror of horrors, the Beast of Chapauqua steals an election?

The President has two years in which to try and set conditions for democracy to continue in Iraq. It appears to me that he may be setting aside the foolishness of pretending that muslims are just baby Jeffersonian's ready to apply Locke's idiocies wholesale. If so, I hope that he reflects a bit on what Montesquieu, Burke and Adams might suggest.

Maliki wants to be Mubarak's twin brother - give him control of the security forces and he's president for life.

Bostonian said...

Rick,
Count me as one of those optimists who thought that the human desire for freedom was stronger than the cultish embrace of Islam.

Perhaps it is not.

On the other hand, we needed to know whether there is any alternative to the strongman theory and the ugly status quo.

If democracy fails in Iraq, this leaves just two options: give up (which is not going to happen) or kill 'em all. It is an inevitable historical conclusion.

Rick Ballard said...

Bostonian,

I've thought since the beginning that insufficient attention to cultural norms and a basic misunderstanding of the prerequisites for democracy were hobbling our efforts in Iraq. We tamped down the bloodletting that should have occurred (per Arab custom) and then did not disarm the militias, removing the fundamental prerequisite that order (in the nature of a state's monopoly on the use of force) was not established.

It would not have mattered on whit if we had sent a force of two million to subjugate Iraq if destroying the militias was not the initial goal.

As to 'strongman' democracy - it functions, more or less, in South Korea, Singapore, Turkey and India (although it is very subtle in India). None of those countries pays more than shallow lip service to "Jeffersonian ideals" yet they do hold regular elections and manage to transfer power based upon the outcomes. Most of the time, anyway.

It need not be any different in Iraq (nor would it be in Iran) and if we start a 'kill a mullah or a sheik for democracy' program I still think that things would settle down fairly quickly.

Things often don't go as well as planned if your initial premise has a fantasy as a part of its base. A belief that most humans hold Jeffersonian principles above self preservation is an extraordinary fantasy.

Bostonian said...

Rick,
This war is Islam's war on the West.

A very large part of the reason for our removing Saddam Hussein was to try to prove that there is an alternative to the strongman theory, other than the Islamic fantasy pushed by our enemies.

It is a war of ideas.

I for one am glad that we made at least an attempt at something other than tolerating, supporting, coddling, wheeling and dealing with another dictator.

Because if plan B is forced on us, in a generation or two, it will not be a pretty sight.

Rick Ballard said...

Bostonian,

You're applying our cultural standards to a culture in which it is not axiomatic that "all men are created equal". Chuck has a post up which refers to Kant, whom, I'm confident in asserting, would reject the axiom out of hand - just as he would the assertion that there exist "unalienable rights" or "self evident truths". Jeffersonian gibberish has never reflected reality and if you would like to see the imposition of Jefferson's empirically unsound propositions upon a culture that has a completely different understanding of the "truth", then you must prepare yourself for the necessity of dealing with strongmen possessing the will to impose such an understanding.

The islamic slavers possess that will, as do the proponents of the Hegelian dialectic.

It's a two front war and the Malenkov-Ribbentropf pact is signed and being delivered - daily. To believe otherwise is to ignore reality.

There is not much need for pessimism, all the same. Our opponents are focused upon death and we are focused upon life - so far life has always kept the upper hand and there is absolutely no reason to think that in the future death shall be victorious.

terrye said...

Rick:

You are completely missing my point.

I would prefer that Omar from Iraq the Model was PM, but it is not my choice and it is nopt yours choice either.

You are acting as if Bush can just go fire the guy or something.

Rick Ballard said...

"You are acting as if Bush can just go fire the guy or something."

He is firing Maliki.

The absolute predicate for control of a country is control of the use of sanctioned force. Maliki is whining that "if only the Americans would allow me to control sanctioned force, I could fix the problem". There is no way that our President is going to sanction Maliki's Sadr buttkissing control of force in Iraq.

If you want to free the muslim slaves do you turn the plantation over to a muslim slavemaker?

There are very few points upon which I feel any charity toward Jefferson whatsoever. One of those points is his refusal to "free" his slaves prior to his death. His own comfort seems to have been the determinant factor in a life unsurpassed in devotion to the practice of being the perfect dilletante so I cannot in good conscience assign true benevolence to even this act. He cared for his comfort more than any other thing throughout his life and he did not return to the US until he was sure that the British could not safely hang him for treason. He was no Washington, Madison or Adams and in no way merits more attention than Franklin.

It is a fine thing to hope for democracy in a muslim country. There is no fault in the hope. That hope cannot be realized without a sober assessment of the necessity of putting the mullahs and sheiks who find such a hope nonsensical directly into the ground. Islam is antithetical to freedom. It has not changed, it is not changing and it will not change in the future. If freedom or liberty were a religion, then Islam, would be an abomination.

If you believe it to be otherwise then lay proof upon the table but remember that taqiya is muslim doctrine, so you must bring a great deal of proof to balance the scales.

terrye said...

I am sorry Rick but I do not agree with you here. And what has Jefferson got to do with anything?

Maliki is the PM of Iraq, he has not been fired and while we can certainly decide what the US does we can not always decide what the other guy does.

I listened to the Right rant and rave about Olmert in Israel, but he is still the PM there too and will be until the Israeli people decide differently. Believe it or not they may not feel the need to say how high when Americans say jump. Look where they live.

Now we can put pressure on Maliki and we can even remove some of the people who are putting the wrong kind of pressure on him, but we can not just say, "You know that whole democracy schtick? We were just kidding. The elections don;t mean anything because we don't like the guy who got elected."

My guess is that Maliki is trying to look independent from Bush so that he can gain respect. What you call buttkissing he may consider a concession to reality. But the truth is he inherited Sadr, we could have killed Sadr long ago and did not. Now I know that Maliki risks his life everyday for that job and I know I don't feel like I should be calling him a buttkisser when I don't have to face that kind of risk he does.

I think we should wait and see what happens before we start making all kinds of predictions.It could be that Sadr will not be around long in any event.

terrye said...

And by the way Rick the last time the west supported a strong "secularist" in Iraq who was willing to stand up to the mullahs and was not afraid to put a few hundred thousand of his own people into the ground if necessary, he turned out to be Saddam Hussein. That worked out well didn't it?

Rick Ballard said...

Why would you think that Maliki has anything to fear from Sadr? He would have had to have done something against Sadr in order to fear him. He hasn't and he won't.

We (Americans) didn't put Hussein in control. He achieved control through assassination (a quaint Arab custom) and we didn't do anything to help or hinder him. It wasn't as if it were Carter booting out the Shah to make room for Khomeini.

The secular Iraqis are the only ones worth any expense of effort - as are the secular Iranians. The rest are of no more import to America than were the Hutus. Their aspirations are not worth a drop of American blood.

Doug said...

Agree with Rick about Sadr and foolishly tamping down the requisite force.
A few of us called for that for years at Belmont.

Barzani Agrees, also. ?
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Sleep soundly, the FBI and TSA will protect us.

Doug said...

Dan is often to the point.
(Not that it is about to happen, unfortunately)
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Dan said...
"Kill them all - Sadr, Maliki, Saddam, whoever. Just shut and start shooting. Make them cower, harangue them about their barbarity, install a military governor, give Ramadi the Hama - not the Fallujah - treatment. Enough. They have been given every chance, and exploited every chance for their own miserable little gains. They are cruel, venal, incompetent and stupid. The rest of the country will thank us for it, and if they don't too fucking bad.
Stop managing the problem and solve it.
"