Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 8, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE....Iraq's foreign minister says he's caught in the middle of two quarreling giants:

Prospects for another round of talks between Iranian and U.S. officials soon appeared dead Wednesday after Iraq's foreign minister said tensions between Tehran and Washington made such a meeting impossible.

....The Iraqi foreign minister made it clear that his government found it maddening to be squeezed between two crucial allies who cannot get along. "The atmosphere of...media attacks, exchange of attacks and accusations and lack of trust and confidence....I don't think we will succeed in having the fourth round" of talks, he said.

When you get to the point of being lectured about political stubbornness by the Iraqi foreign minister, it's probably time to tone down the rhetoric.

Kevin Drum 11:57 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (7)

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well now, that depends upon what your ulterior motives are -- is it to actually engage a troublesome adversary to resolve issues thru diplomatic means; or are they to satisfy an impotent, bullying crowd of bloodthirsty war-profiteering assholes.

Posted by: linda on May 8, 2008 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Well, but let's remember that the Bush administration thinks political stubbornness is a virtue, not a flaw.

Posted by: bleh on May 8, 2008 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

I really wonder what anyone can expect to be accomplished.

In effect, this week is a game changer. Obama will be nominated. A united Democratic party will take the White House. Fewer and fewer leaders are likely to deal with Bush's hard line. Saner days are a'coming.

Posted by: Keith G. on May 8, 2008 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK



Posted by: Anonymous on May 8, 2008 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

"When you get to the point of being lectured about political stubbornness by the Iraqi foreign minister"

I don't get it - is the Iraqi Foreign Minister known for being stubborn? Is Mr. Drum referring to the Iraqi government in general?

What does the difficulty in getting Shiite/Sunni compromises worked out have to do with the Iraqi Foreign Minister?

From quotes, he seems like a reasonable guy. Maybe a US lackey, hard to tell.

"I think there is a mood in the Arab world and in the region that this new Iraqi democratic regime is here to stay," Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told reporters. "Secondly, they are realising that the fear of Iraq being dragged into a civil war is over, of Iraq being dragged into a sectarian war is over, Iraq being deliberately divided is over," Zebari said. "All these are very encouraging signs," he said. "We need to be patient."

Here he is "working things out" with Turkey: "our Turkey-Iraq relations are solid, safe and healthy. And we are trying to push them on all fronts. Of course, the issue of the PKK terrorism is still there. And Iraq’s position is very clear towards this organization: Its presence is unacceptable; we condemn their actions. And we expressed our willingness to work jointly with Turkey, with you, to address this issue. But in our view, the stability of the region is very important. Any distractions or any further military or unilateral actions would not be helpful to our bilateral relations and to the stability of (inaudible). We decided to work together very closely on these issues, and with the help of our common ally, the United States, indeed, to try to find a way forward, perhaps some strategic vision on the stability of the entire region"

Posted by: flubber on May 8, 2008 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

the most important part of his comments was that he labeled the US and Iran as allies, and seemed to put them on the same level of importance.

When have you ever heard a word about Iran's alliance with Iraq in the mass media? They spout the administration line constantly, that Iran is the enemy of "freedom in Iraq."

Of course it is more complicated than that. Iran has sponsored rival Shiite militias that are once again fighting. And Iran is still deeply antagonistic to the Sunnis of Iraq. But the situation is complicated. It is not the "Iran as great Satan" line that the GOP and far too many Democrats pump out.

Posted by: anoregonreader on May 8, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

"The sources, who preferred to remain unnamed, said that if this rocket was launched at a target, it could obliterate an entire city and kill all of its inhabitants even if those numbered by the tens of thousands. …"

This stuff is presumably being fed to the Iraqi press by the foreign ministry.

Seems pretty well intended to stir up popular anti-Iranian sentiment in Iraq.



Posted by: neill on May 8, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK
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