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The Collective
Monday, January 15, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

This can’t be a good sign (via the NYT): U.S. and Iraqis Are Wrangling Over War Plans:

Just days after President Bush unveiled a new war plan calling for more than 20,000 additional American troops in Iraq, the heart of the effort — a major push to secure the capital — faces some of its fiercest resistance from the very people it depends on for success: Iraqi government officials.

American military officials have spent days huddled in meetings with Iraqi officers in a race to turn blueprints drawn up in Washington into a plan that will work on the ground in Baghdad. With the first American and Iraqi units dedicated to the plan due to be in place within weeks, time is short for setting details of what American officers view as the decisive battle of the war.

Hasn’t part of the spin from the administration been that the “surge” is basically a Maliki plan? Given that this policy has been sold that it is a done deal and will lead to victory, one would like to think that the details would’ve been hammered out with the Iraqis ahead of time.

Also, details in this story fortify issues raised in my earlier post. The NYT notes:

“We are implementing a strategy to embolden a government that is actually part of the problem,” said an American military official in Baghdad involved in talks over the plan. “We are being played like a pawn.”


Compounding American doubts about the government’s willingness to go after Shiite extremists has been a behind-the-scenes struggle over the appointment of the Iraqi officer to fill the key post of operational commander for the Baghdad operation. In face of strong American skepticism, the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, has selected an officer from the Shiite heartland of southern Iraq who was virtually unknown to the Americans, and whose hard-edged demands for Iraqi primacy in the effort has deepened American anxieties.

And isn’t this something that they should’ve figured out by now?

It remains unclear whether the prime minister will be in overall charge of the new crackdown, a demand the Iraqis have pressed since the plan was first discussed last month, American officials said. They said days of argument had led to a compromise under which General Qanbar would answer to a so-called crisis counsel, made up of Mr. Maliki, the ministers of defense and interior, Iraqi national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, and the top American military commander in Iraq.

Also:  if Maliki is in charge of the military side, are we really going to see an evenhanded approach to the violence?  Will there really be a serious treatment of the Mahdi army?

The whole piece is worth reading, despite the fact that it is rather depressing.

There is also a growing “blame the Iraqis” theme that I have noted over the last couple of weeks (see, for example, the clip of the President from 60 Minutes last night in which he chides the Iraqis for not being more grateful). The statements in the President’s speech about rules of engagement also fit into this notion.

While I will not argue that the Iraqis have to take responsibility for their own country, it is also true that the US is primarily responsible for the state of state-building in Iraq and we are the ones who broke the state in the first place (see the Pottery Barn Rule).  As such it is problematic, to put it politely, to start shifting blame to the Iraqis.

Further, the US did fight to remove Maliki’s predecessor, so it isn’t as if we don’t bear some responsibility for the current leadership.

I am not saying that the Iraqis have no responsibility here, but it is ridiculous the act as if we are dealing with a fully functional government that only has itself to blame for its problems.  That is like Matt Millen saying that all of the Lion’s problems are all the coaching staff’s fault-including the past several seasons, despite the fact that the current coach has only been there for one year.

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Filed under: Iraq, US Politics | |


  1. Given the recent protests over the apprehension of various Iranian would-be diplomats, I doubt Maliki will be calling the shots. His choices are accept independent IDF operations in concert with those of American forces, or ask us to leave.

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