View Full Version : Iraq in the Balance

04-11-2007, 07:07 AM
11 April Wall Street Journal commentary - Iraq in the Balance (http://opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110009926) by Fouad Ajami.

... Some months back, the Bush administration had called into question both the intentions and capabilities of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. But this modest and earnest man, born in 1950, a child of the Shia mainstream in the Middle Euphrates, has come into his own. He had not been a figure of the American regency in Baghdad. Steeped entirely in the Arabic language and culture, he had a been a stranger to the Americans; fate cast him on the scene when the Americans pushed aside Mr. Maliki's colleague in the Daawa Party, Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari.

There had been rumors that the Americans could strike again in their search for a leader who would give the American presence better cover. There had been steady talk that the old CIA standby, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, could make his way back to power. Mr. Allawi himself had fed these speculations, but this is fantasy. Mr. Allawi circles Arab capitals and is rarely at home in his country. Mr. Maliki meanwhile has settled into his role.

In retrospect, the defining moment for Mr. Maliki had been those early hours of Dec. 30, when Saddam Hussein was sent to the gallows. He had not flinched, the decision was his, and he assumed it. Beyond the sound and fury of the controversy that greeted the execution, Mr. Maliki had taken the execution as a warrant for a new accommodation with the Sunni political class. A lifelong opponent of the Baath, he had come to the judgment that the back of the apparatus of the old regime had been broken, and that the time had come for an olive branch to those ready to accept the new political rules....

04-12-2007, 08:19 AM
The American Prospect commentary - Fickle Attraction (http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=12629) by Alex Rossmiller.

It is now, finally, widely understood that any long-term improvement in Iraq will have to come about through political compromises and solutions. Only the most fringe reactionaries still argue that we can prevail in Iraq by killing or capturing all of our "enemies." Political settlements, whether in the form of a grand bargain or compartmentalized work on issues such as revenue sharing, federalism, de-Baathification, and militias, are the only hope for halting the cycle of violence. This is ostensibly the goal of the Bush administration's "surge" policy in Baghdad: a temporary escalation of troops to bring about a moment of relative peace, which would create an opportunity for consequential progress on the political front.

Moreover, despite our overstretched military and legacy of blunders, the United States still has significant influence in Iraq's internal politics -- not quite as much as the Bush administration believes, but perhaps more than we deserve. Thus the United States continues to exert pressure, often using that influence to try to find what it believes is the key to success: an Iraqi leader who can somehow simultaneously crush and compromise with the various militant factions in the country.

In its efforts to steer Iraq's political process, however, the Bush administration has continually appeared unable to decide whom to support...