Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 3, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

MALIKI ON IRAQ....The Wall Street Journal interviews Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki:

WSJ: Will you accept a second term if it's offered to you?

Mr. Maliki: Impossible. I wish I could be done with it even before the end of this term. I would like to serve my people from outside the circle of senior officials, maybe through the parliament, or through working directly with the people.

Maliki goes on to say that he has a "strong hope" that there will be peace in Iraq in his lifetime, but it sure doesn't sound like he has much hope, does it? Unless this is some kind of Arab cultural thing I'm not familiar with, it sounds like we have a prime minister in Iraq who's not only ineffectual, but one who knows it perfectly well and doesn't even want the job. That's bad juju.

Kevin Drum 2:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (31)

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Comments

The only thing worse would be an ineffectual leader who doesn't know it and wants to stay on.

Posted by: Max Power on January 3, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

If he is ineffectual and knows it then he is at least doing the honorable thing and stepping down.

Compare that with someone ineffectual but unaware of the fact . . .

Posted by: Tripp on January 3, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Curse you Max Power! You beat me to the punch.

Great minds must think alike.

Posted by: Tripp on January 3, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Maliki goes on to say that he has a "strong hope" that there will be peace in Iraq in his lifetime, but it sure doesn't sound like he has much hope, does it?

How do you know he just doesn't want to spend more time with his family? Working the long hours as a prime minister prevents one from spending time at home with the family and that might be what he wants to do.

Al

Posted by: The Real Al on January 3, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

It's Malachi. I wish people would spell his name correctly.

Posted by: Brojo on January 3, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Maliki is an honest man. Like Cincinnatus he has stepped forward to serve his country, but does not wish to cling to power. He will retire gracefully, just as President Bush will do when his term is up; unlike Clinton who clung to power even though disgraced.

Posted by: Al on January 3, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Change the names and it sounds just like some about-to-be-indicted congress critter on his way to a cushy lobbying job on K Street.

Any estimates of how much Maliki is going to be making as a consultant to Halliburton? Probably from a safe house in Tehran.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on January 3, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Maliki goes on to say that he has a "strong hope" that there will be peace in Iraq in his lifetime

Well given that his life expectancy is probably pretty short, yeah, it's most likely futile to hope for peace in his lifetime.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 3, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

It's pronounced "Mah-lar-kee".

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 3, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Personally, I think that he was just there to oversee Saddam's execution.

Now, he sees the writing on the wall, and will step aside for Sadr. Whom Bush will be forced to back.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 3, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Maliki, from the article:

But maybe the most difficult decision is when there was an agreement for me to become prime minister. That decision for me was heavier than a mountain because I didn't want to take this position. I only agreed because I thought it would serve the national interest, and I will not accept it again.

Sounds like he knew that the situation in Iraq was gonna be a hot mess before he took the job...and to echo Global's point from above, probably the best thing for Maliki to do right now would be to transfer as much (of his, preferably) money as he can to a Swiss bank account and begin scoping out some real estate in a friendly-ish, undisclosed location.

Posted by: grape_crush on January 3, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Max Power - ain't it just?

Posted by: RT on January 3, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

If you read Woodward's book ("State of Denial") you'll see that al-Maliki comes off looking considerably better than most other possible prime minister candidates in Iraq. He's something of an idealist, at least at the start of his term, appears honest and speaks directly, unlike the previous p.m. Jalibi (sp?). Athough no doubt influenced by his Shiite support, he genuinely seems to want to put together a representative Iraqi government. If he goes, expect either a Sunni strong-man or a Shiite puppet, and the likelyhood of all-out civil war.

Posted by: Kit Stolz on January 3, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

"we have a Prime Minister in Iraq"

Kevin, excellent choice of words.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 3, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Kit Stolz: if someone comes off looking good in a Woodward book, that just means that he was a Woodward source. Woodward's technique is to flatter those who talk to him and make those who don't look bad; that's how he gets people to talk to him.

The Shi'ites are divided into three major factions (SCIRI, Dawa, and the Sadrists) and Maliki represents the weakest faction (Dawa), which is why he was chosen (he was the comprimise candidate because the Sadrists hate Hakim, leader of SCIRI).
He doesn't have his own strong militia, and many of the government departments are run by his rivals. What this means is that he doesn't really run anything.

Posted by: Joe Buck on January 3, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

I have always had sympathy for that poor guy, he gets voted in democratically by his own people and then has to run a country with foreign "assistance". You try getting your people back on track and settled down while outsiders are running around with guns "securing" the place so you can run it? What a mess.
Plus, the US has undermined him twice now, once running down his leadership in a "leaked" memo, then again when the US "distanced" itself from Sadam's execution after handing him over just moments before. It has been my feeling that this man is being just as manipulated as the American people. Would I be surprised if the taunter was planted? Not at this point.
By the way, have we gotten control of the oil yet? Still working on that?

Posted by: Zit on January 3, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Would I be surprised if the taunter was planted? Not at this point.

The taunter AND the video camera were planted. These were carefully orchestrated PR stunts designed to appeal to the REAL Iraqi Leader's (Sadr) base, and to Bush's bloodthirsty, racist, torture-loving base.

My conservative friend couldn't find the Saddam snuff video online the other day, and asked me if I could send him the link - because, as he put it, "I want to finally see the payoff for this whole 9/11 thing." - this is the end-product that all the rednecks have been waiting for since 1993.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 3, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds to me like we know what Bush's follow-up job should be, after he leaves office (or is pushed out, as the case may be). His Iraq project needs him!

Posted by: craigie on January 3, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Iraq is the new Terri Schiavo.

Posted by: Martin on January 3, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas Jefferson to John Langdon, 8/2/1808: "I think one war is enough for the life of one man."

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 3, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nouri_al-Maliki

He got his Master's Degree in Arabic Literature. Not in business or Law, etc. Perhaps he is just more than a little burnt out with politics and would prefer to teach literature once again.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 3, 2007 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Iraq is the new Terri Schiavo."

And we're not even allowed to daignose via videotape.

Posted by: Kenji on January 3, 2007 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Not, I think, a job for the faint of heart.

Posted by: BroD on January 3, 2007 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

craigie, brilliant proposal, just brilliant. i'm sure they can come up with a workaround to let an american become prime minister!

can't think of a better place for bush to go....

Posted by: howard on January 3, 2007 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

The taunter AND the video camera were planted.

As I mentioned in some other thread, some Iraqi gvmt official who was present at the hanging said that the US military was responsible for searching and removing recording equipment from those in attendance.

Posted by: Disputo on January 3, 2007 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

Maliki probably wants out before the U.S. and Israel bomb Iran and Iraq is caught in the middle.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 3, 2007 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

It could just be modesty. I keep hearing all week about how Ford didn't want to be president this, Ford only answered when his country called that.

Posted by: Sara on January 3, 2007 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

While Maliki is nothing more than a puppet for Sadr and the Mahdi Army these days, this looks as if he started with the best intentions. Makes me almost feel sorry for the poor jerk.

Posted by: Gray on January 4, 2007 at 3:59 AM | PERMALINK

"Iraq is the new Terri Schiavo."

Hehehe, Martin! Brilliant analogy! :D

Posted by: Gray on January 4, 2007 at 4:01 AM | PERMALINK

I would not overread the interview. First, of course, it is not generally good form for Arab politicians to be as directly self-promoting as is the habit in the US of A. Professed reluctance (a la Mubarek in Egypt or Saleh in Yemen) and humbleness are more common rhetorical devices.

Second, of course, the context of the interview is not such that one would expect al Maliki to make broad statements. You would look for such statements in communications to his domestic / regional press, in Arabic.

As a general lesson, to Kevin and the commentators - caution in reading such interviews (not just re Iraq, but generally in the MENA region). You end up drawing conclusions most unwarrented.

The Lounsbury
Aqoul.com

Posted by: The Lounsbury on January 4, 2007 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

I think it might be well in the next several weeks for bloggers to focus on ferreting out U.S.-British-Israeli-Saudi plans for attacking Iran. If you think Iraq a catastrophe, wait for this. You haven't seen anything yet. Still time to head it off, though, if you are so inclined. There are individuals familiar with this particular blog who know the facts or at least some of them. Surely they will speak up while there is time.

Posted by: richard on January 4, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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