Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Didn't Realize the "Demos" for Other Countries was the U.S. Congress ...

Most of the headlines in newspapers today that could be found in the Washington, DC area had some reference to U.S. senators calling for the Iraqi prime minister to be removed from office (of course, with dutiful mention that the Iraqi parliament, which has the authority to do this, should follow their indispensable guidance.) This follows on the heels of Congressional advice for how executive authority in Pakistan should be structured. I didn't realize that when we talk about democracy around the world, that taking into account what the U.S. Congress wants is part of that process.

Having the senators make these recommendations from a conference call in Tel Aviv might also not have been the most wise location as well, but that is a separate issue.

The ongoing problem in the Middle East is for the U.S. to find leaders who can advance the U.S. strategic agenda and also be perceived as legitimate. The Arab monarchies have a bit of wiggle room--although the constant pronouncements from Washington that only democracies are legitimate forms of government undermines the notion that other forms of authority sanctified by tradition might also be perceived as legitimate (and exist with the consent of the governed).

Maliki has had problems with Congress before. And the criticisms made are all very valid. But in the end Iraqi voters empowered parliament (and a number of Iraqis, as Alexis Debat has noted, have empowered the militias)--so finding the type of leader we would like for Iraq who could also enjoy a democratic mandate is highly unlikely.

Max Boot writing in the forthcoming issue of Commentary on "How Not to Get out of Iraq" is critical of those who call for the "strongman" approach, but himself acknowledges at the end that "the surge might still fail in the long run if Iraqis prove incapable of reaching political compromises even in a more secure environment." So what are our options?

A plurality of US experts on Arab affairs have known Mr. Maliki for what he is: a Shia partisan interested in advancing the Shia cause - no a George Washington and not a Nelson Mandela.

"You have to rule Iraq with the PM that you have and not the one that you want."
Why would you think there are options?
Anonymous 8:55, I think it is meant as a rhetorical question--those who want Maliki gone should be able to say who can replace him and why he would be better.
Maliki's response today was short and to the point:

"The Iraqi government was elected by the Iraqi people."
Quel supris. Washington wants puppets, minions, and bullet-catchers. Not allies. Allies, you see, must be given input on policy decisions.

And Washington gets upset when foreign governments fail to submit immediately to these terms.

Now you know why US-Russian relations, among others, are spiraling downward.
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