I used to be a strong supporter of the war in Iraq. I confess, however, that I’ve been wavering for some time; but, this week Nouri al-Maliki convinced me that it may be time to get out.
On hearing that the Bush administration was considering setting some sort of timetable to begin the withdrawal of U.S. troops, Mr. al-Maliki rather imperiously declared that “no one has the right to impose a timetable on” the Iraqi government.
This statement is so stunningly inaccurate that it’s hard to know where to begin. But, here goes:
First, contrary to his assertions, Mr. al-Maliki is not at the head of a “government” at all. It’s becoming increasingly clear that what passes for a government in Iraq is merely a collection of selfish and self-interested tribal leaders on the make.
Neither Mr. al-Maliki, nor anyone else in his government seem to be interested in tackling Iraq’s real problem: the out-of-control militia groups who are wreaking havoc on the citizenry. Instead, al-Maliki and his cronies are simply using American power to consolidate their own. They hope that American troops will stay just long enough to allow them to eliminate their enemies. Our troops are now being used to keep the Sunnis at bay, while al-Maliki’s Shiite militias engage in the gradual removal of opposing factions. Oh, and the money’s not bad, either.
Second, Mr. al-Maliki is now part of the problem. He is betting that the radical strongman Muqtada al-Sadr, and not the Americans are going to win the war. Last week, he demanded that the American army release one of al-Sadar’s deputies accused of running death squads. The Americans obliged. He’s also demanded that American troops cease conducting raids on suspected al-Sadar strongholds. No doubt, they’ll cave on that as well. Today, we learned from one of Mr. al-Maliki’s deputies that the Iraqi president is being difficult in the run-up to the mid-term elections in order to “get a better deal” from President Bush. Some ally.
The real problem here, of course, is that the American government seems unwilling to face reality. Its aims were noble, but its methods were tinged with political correctness. What Iraq needs now is some real shock and awe. The Americans need to decide whether they really want to “win” the war in Iraq or whether they are just preparing for an orderly retreat. If the former, the need to make the very same hard decision that has been made in every other successful war: They need to decide that it’s time to kill the enemy. They need to make the decision fast and not worry about the inevitable Muslim outrage or condemnations from the cowards in Turtle Bay.
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