The “No Duh” story: Iraqis don’t want a permanent U.S. presence in their country, and al-Maliki — in hopes of keeping his job — is listening:
The Bush administration’s Iraq policy suffered two major setbacks Friday when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki publicly rejected key U.S. terms for an ongoing military presence and anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for a new militia offensive against U.S. forces.
During a visit to Jordan, Maliki said negotiations over initial U.S. proposals for bilateral political and military agreements had “reached a dead end.” While he said talks would continue, his comments fueled doubts that the pacts could be reached this year, before the Dec. 31 expiration of a United Nations mandate sanctioning the U.S. role in Iraq.
The moves by two of Iraq’s most powerful Shiite leaders underscore how the presence of U.S. troops has become a central issue for Iraqi politicians as they position themselves for provincial elections later this year. Iraqis across the political spectrum have grown intolerant of the U.S. presence, but the dominant Shiite parties — including Maliki’s Dawa party — are especially fearful of an electoral challenge from new, grass-roots groups.
That’s one unrealized quirk about the whole “spreading democracy” junk: Pandering means different things in different cultures. For Iraq, we’re the illegal immigrants, and Sadr is Lou Dobbs in a turban. Maliki has to shore up his base, y’know?
All that aside, I noticed something in the article that many people probably just glanced at:
Maliki’s comments came as Sadr called for a new armed wing of his Mahdi Army militia to fight U.S. troops. Sadr had ordered the militia to cease carrying weapons last August — a leading factor in the recent decline in violence — although U.S. military officials have asserted that renegade militia units have continued the fight under instructions from Iran. (emphasis mine)
The conventional stance of the mainstream media, as we know, is to take everything the government says at face value. Military officials said Iran ordered attacks, so they pass it on, full stop. However, in light of what they’ve been wrong about up to this point, this makes even LESS sense than it would absent the context. So, thanks to them, someone out there is inevitably going to spot this and take it as sign that the war should cross the border — which is exactly why this comment was made. Never mind that official encouragement of attacks by Iran would be just about the dumbest thing they could do, considering how they’ve gained something huge influence-wise through no effort on their part. You see, thinking about why a regime we don’t like would or would not do something is for pansy latte-sipping intellectuals, real red white & blue manly men just smash things and justify it later, if at all.