10 years, 6 months ago
On October 25, 2006, Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki said that there was no timetable for a U.S. pullout of Iraq, while also tipping his hat towards demands for the Shi’ite militias to stand down as he said:
“… all armed groups and militias were damaging to the security of the state and said that their displays of arms should end as the national security forces were solely responsible for state security.”
The very next day on October 26, 2006, Maliki slammed U.S. troops and involvement, specifically recalling a meeting with al Sadr, claiming that:
Iraqi troops, left to their own devices, could re-establish order in six months, not the 12 to 18 months that the top U.S. commander, Gen. William Casey, had predicted Tuesday.
Maliki then rejected any notion of pressure to pacify Iraq, specifically denouncing a timeline to bring peace to Iraq and force the militias to stand down. He also said that the significant problem in Iraq was not the Shi’ite, but rather, al Qaeda.
Maliki knows that the Shi’ite Militias are killing on the order of one hundred people per day, and that the Iraqi military would be hopeless at the present without U.S. forces. Maliki’s statements are not about getting at the truth. They are about the politics of weakness. Just as Maliki’s bluster over the targeting of al Sadr’s militia was a show of support for al Sadr, his statements on Wednesday and Thursday were designed to appeal to both the U.S. and his base, keeping his fragile coalition together. Maliki has no problem with duplicity, and thus he has shown that he has what it takes to be a politician.
The U.S. went into Iraq believing in the healing powers of democracy, healing powers that simply aren’t there. They are a phantom, a figment of of our imagination. Democracy is a consequent, not a cause. Iraq lacked the theoretical, theological, philosophical and societal framework to support democracy. And yet, the U.S. has imposed the very political system on Iraq that has caused Maliki to have to appeal to his base to hold the coalition together.
If Maliki broke the back of the Shi’ite militia, he would lose al Sadr’s support, and hence the position of Prime Minister because he would then lack a coalition. It is not just that Maliki won’t break the militias. He can’t and still be Prime Minister.
Across the seas in the offices of the Pentagon, it might be prudent to jettison the notion that we will bring democracy to Iraq. A much more sensible and pragmatic goal would be to bring stability to Iraq. In the end, we want an ally in the global war on terror.