Iraq’s New Dance Craze: The Mailki Misstep

While Bush is out bashing gays …

Iraq continues its downward spiral into anarchy. Over the weekend, the heads of 8 Sunnis (including a cleric) showed up in banana boxes. This was followed the next day by a group of thugs pulling a busload of folks over, including many high school kids, separating the Shiites from the Sunnis, and executing the more than 20 Shiites. And those are just two examples from a lengthy list of violent death being perpetrated day-in and day-out.

This all despite the fact that Bush has hailed the new “unity” government as a turning point. But just within weeks of Bush’s statement, the new government is displaying troubling signs of incompetent leadership.

Bush’s new man in Iraq is Prime Minister ____ Al Maliki [I’ll look up his first name if he lasts out the year]. He, of course, follows in the line of earlier saviors named Garner, Bremer, Allawi and Al Jafaari. Maliki has promised to be a strongman who places priority on “security, security, security.” But just this last week, he committed two major blunders that undercut his credibility as a leader.

His over-the-top generalizations of American troops committing regular human rights abuses was shocking to Americans. Maliki needs our soldiers but many must wonder about supplying such support to a man whose rhetoric puts our troops at greater danger.

More damaging may be his failure to fulfill his bold promise to nominate new leaders for the vacant spots atop the Interior and Defense ministrys. He inadvisedly set himself a deadline for putting forth the names and then failed to meet it when he could not bridge the broad sectarian divide on the issue. This certainly does not come across as a sign of strength and fosters the danger that future ultimatums will be viewed as insincere and then ignored.

I’ll be candid. I don’t think anyone can step into this morass and govern the whole of Iraq. But I still find it stunning that this is the best that the Bushies and their Iraqi partners can come up with.

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