Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Washington Monument Defense

Two posts ago I noted that US officials were very publicly briefing Iraq on the extent of Iranian subversion and remarked that it was a prelude to enlisting the Government of Iraq in a non-kinetic roles against Iran. That process appears to be unfolding now. The New York Times reports that Maliki has sent a high level team to Iran to read them the riot act.

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi prime minister is sending several senior Shiite leaders to Tehran to discuss their concerns that Iran is arming and financing militias in Iraq, senior Iraqi and American officials said Wednesday.

Iraqi officials including Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki have previously traveled to Iran, but this appears to be the first time that an elite delegation has been dispatched by Mr. Maliki to take up reports of Iranian intervention in Iraq.

American officials supported the trip, but portrayed it as the brainchild of Mr. Maliki. One American official described the Iraqis’ concern about Iran’s role as “the silver lining” to recent fighting between Shiite militias and Iraqi and American security forces in Basra and in the Sadr City area of Baghdad, a militia stronghold.

The delegation, which was scheduled to leave Wednesday, was handpicked by Mr. Maliki, who went out of his way in an interview Wednesday to stress his independence. “I have never been the man of Iran, and I told America that I’m not the man of America in Iraq,” he told Al Arabiya, an Arab news channel.

It's ironic that a foreign ally, the Government of Iraq, may acknowledge the de facto belligerence of Iran before the domestic antiwar movement does. And that may be part of the Administration's plan. Getting Iraq out ahead of the American left in the matter of confronting Iran will make it that much harder for either Hillary or Obama to withdraw at the rate of two brigades a month as they've promised their constituents.

There's an apocryphal story the parks department defends against cuts to its budget by slating the Washington Monument as the first thing it will cut in a period of austerity. Since no politician will take responsibility for tearing down the Washington Monument, the budget is thereby defended. This strategem, known as the "Washington Monument" defense is a generic name for digging a policy in so deep it has to be blasted out with dynamite. But it's always well to remember that dynamite exists.




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17 Comments:

Blogger Wadeusaf said...

This is the second time Iraqi officials have confronted Iran regarding militias. The last time causing speculation of where Al Sadr stood, and how much control Iran has over various Shi'ah militias.

Now with the latest of intelligence in hand the Iranian government is telling the Iranians it knows what it knows and that beyond speculation. Is the big stick to the softly speaking sitting in the gulf? Or is there an Iraqi Stick ready to mollify the meddling?

How much is Iran willing to wager on Al Malaki's willingness to wield an effective TR style doctrine? The answer from where I sit, has significance beyond Basra and could be telling even as far as Denmark.

5/01/2008 05:34:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

It's ironic that a foreign ally, the Government of Iraq, may acknowledge the de facto belligerence of Iran before the domestic antiwar movement does.

No one denies the de facto belligerence of Iran. But not everyone thinks we have to do something about it preemptively before it becomes de jure belligerence, like William Kristol or John Hagee do.

5/01/2008 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger Insufficiently Sensitive said...

The mindless 'antiwar' movement is as happily unconcerned as the British public was when Nevill Chamberlain returned from a visit to Hitler prattling 'peace in our time'. There is some religious faith amongst that movement that some magical negotiation by the right party will appease any thug into singing Kumbaya and ceasing whatever slaughter he's planning or executing.

The British public was wrong then and the 'antiwar' movement is wrong now. Actually, it's more an anti-Bush movement but the MSM eagerly adopts the fake handle.

5/01/2008 06:40:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Maliki's delegation to Iran is probably mainly kabuki, or whatever the Middle Eastern version of kabuki is. Iraq-Iran relations are going to be determined by force, not words.

But if his posturing helps position Maliki as an Arab leader on the frontline against the perfidious Persians . . . voila, the neighborhood gets a lot more friendly for Maliki, at least among the Gulf states that won't even open full embassies in Baghdad at this point.

The last thing Saudi Arabia needs is an Iran-friendly Iraq, which would make the Persian Gulf truly a "Persian" gulf. Maliki shows his Sunni neighbors that he is servicable as a mean dog, intimidating Iran's chihuahua shia Mookie, who is good at yapping but is trembling in a corner.

5/01/2008 07:06:00 AM  
Blogger Nomenklatura said...

Another reason for this may be that Nancy Pelosi got very exercised during the most recent Petraeus hearings, about Ahmadinejad visiting Iraq and being seen 'holding hands' with Maliki. She was really angry about it.

Then just a few days ago there were stories about her being on the point of using the congressional budget process to seize more control over Iraq, and now this. If someone from the Republican side had met with Pelosi and tried to negotiate with her, then this might be part of the result.

5/01/2008 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

Wretchard wrote:
The New York Times reports that Maliki has sent a high level team to Iran to read them the riot act.

The "riot act"? Wretchard, did you actually read the article you linked to? Have you followed the careers of the two lead Shiite Islamist emissaries, al-Adeeb and al-Ameri that Maliki has sent over to "confront" Iran? I don't belive so. From the NYTimes article:

Among Mr. Maliki’s emissaries are Ali al-Adeeb, a senior member of Mr. Maliki’s Dawa Party, and Hadi al-Ameri, a senior member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a Shiite party in Mr. Maliki’s coalition. Another member is Tariq Abdullah, an old friend of the prime minister who runs Mr. Maliki’s office.

Both Mr. Ameri and Mr. Adeeb spent much of their lives in exile in Iran and have good relations with the Iranian government. Mr. Adeeb also has good ties with senior religious figures.

Their long experience in working with Iran may make it easier for them to gain a receptive audience, but it is also possible that they will take a softer line in confronting Tehran over the allegations of interference. In the past the Iranians supported both the Dawa Party and the Supreme Council.


“If I were prime minister, I would have to have a strong relationship with Iran,” said Qassim Daoud, an independent Shiite lawmaker. “We have a 1,340-kilometer border with them, and they have an influence on Iraqi affairs.”

He added, “It is quite obvious that the Iranians have the upper hand to manipulate the situation in Iraq.”


Wretchard, how in the world did you miss this? Perhaps, Mark is closer to the mark when he describes this return of Shiite Islamists to the Khomeneist haven were they learned their ideology as "kabuki".

5/01/2008 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Teresita's words echo the policy of Clinton (and prior Administrations) on the policy towards terrorism. "No one denies that terrorists blow up Americans. But only war-mongers think it's a real threat or that we should do something about it."

Eventually, as on 9/11, that policy of non-response is paid in blood. Mostly American.

Without a response to Americans being killed in Iraq by Iranians, we'll see it on the open seas as well.

Forcing either complete surrender or total war.

5/01/2008 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Whiskey_199: "No one denies that terrorists blow up Americans. But only war-mongers think it's a real threat or that we should do something about it."

If you think the solution is to start another war in Iran when our forces are stretched in Iraq (nearly 50 KIA in April, 5 years to the day after "victory" in the Battle of Iraq) then vote for McSame. Good luck in November. A new CNN poll says 30% of Americans favor the war (this war, not even talking about Iran), and 68% oppose it.

5/01/2008 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger joe buz said...

Strange but yes, it is as if our very existence intimidates them. How peaceful would the world be if there were no Americans producing and sending out the evil vixen Barbie doll hordes to tempt our pious brothers of the sand?

5/01/2008 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Right. If we hit Iran's nuke facilities, and gas refinery, most Americans would be happy.

We already have "war" even if we like to pretend we don't. Since there are no rules, why not hit back?

We don't have to involve ground forces. Just announce payback for 79 and slow down their nukes. Repeat as needed.

If you think Americans want a surrender, defeat, and groveling before Iran, why hasn't a Democratic Congress done something that is "popular?" Why indeed are the Blue Dogs now rushing for FISA to be renewed?

Because Dems are scared. Scared of being tagged with Defeat by Iran, and of Moveon. The people who control Democrats want surrender and defeat as a good dose of what's morally good for America. Meanwhile Americans don't care one whit about Muslims or Arabs, and would be happy if they went all away or America just killed a lot of them so they'll leave us alone.

Doing nothing and letting Iran get nukes is not going to be popular. Particularly if Dems get the deserved label for allowing it.

5/01/2008 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Most people who employ the phrase "read the riot act" seem to be unaware of its usage in the British Empire, but it seems highly unlikely that Wretchard is one of those.

My understanding is that in event of civil unrest, the authorities were emplowered by the Riot Act of 1714 to warn any gathering of 12 or more persons "unlawfully, riotously or tumultuously assembled together" that if they did not disperse and retire peaceably within 20 minutes they would be guilty of a felony punishable by death.

The authorities were by this legislation empowered to use --- after making the requisite announcement --- all necessary force to quell the disturbance, and were indemnified against recourse by injured citizens for their actions enforcing the act.

So, reading the Riot Act originally was not merely speaking quite sternly to a wayward villain; it was the final warning before the use of lethal force.

5/01/2008 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

I grovel:

"empowered"

NOT

"emplowered"

5/01/2008 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Farmers back on the job are 'emplowered'.

5/01/2008 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

"The last thing Saudi Arabia needs is an Iran-friendly Iraq, which would make the Persian Gulf truly a "Persian" gulf. Maliki shows his Sunni neighbors that he is servicable as a mean dog, intimidating Iran's chihuahua shia Mookie, who is good at yapping but is trembling in a corner."

The last thing Maliki needs is the suppliers of Sunni rage to think he is their puppet. The Saudis have not entered into these calculations. The problems within Iran are troubles that the Mullah's have had difficulty in keeping bottled up. The show in Basra was very much a slap in the face of the Revolutionary (Iranian) Ideal. How long can the Iranian's stand to not reap the benefits of Iraqi's new found democratic friends and traditions. That is a bigger stick than the nuclear weapon so much desired, that is a transformation that the mullahs cannot control, or hope to survive. It is possibly the non-kinetic death knell of the Islamic Revolution.

Who will have the courage to change that status quo, Nancy P? Not likely, Obama? I cannot say, but I doubt he even sees it.

5/01/2008 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

The world is begging for Shok'n'Aww2, the Chmn Joint Chiefs opened the kimono in his recent comments. While our noble Army and Marines are taxed to the max, our worthy USN and USAF are chomping on the leash to go to the aid of their brothers in arms.

The best way to avoid war is to be prepared for decisive war.

Victor DH values "shock war" in terms of recent American history: FDR, Truman, JFK, Reagan, Bush... well, not quite that recent:



Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power

5/01/2008 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

There's also a bird called a "crowned plower". It looks something like Coyotl.

5/01/2008 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

A carrier does not normally operate singly or in isolation; there is a substantial group of warships -- destroyers and submarines --- in convoy with the carrier, a carrier group, or Task Force.

It is unthinkable that enemy action sufficient to sink a U.S. carrier would not be answered during the engagement by the commanding officers under attack with massive force against the nation of the attacking vessels.

In the Persian Gulf, that would be Iran, almost certainly.

We're talking about an attack in INTERNATIONAL WATERS by a nation which may have embassies and missions from a lot of countries, but which is still regarded as an outlaw and threat even by other nations with large Muslim populations.

The Sunni Muslim Arab States, ruled by corrupt rich clans, have for decades been scared shitless of the spread of Iranian-style Islamic Revolution, because they would be for the chop just as surely as the infidel dog Americans.

China and Russia, and most of the E.U. and most of Iran's neighbors have much to lose if they were to let Iran get away with such an attack. The free navigation of International Waters, believe me, is still a very precious concept, that trumps any distrust or antipathy to the U.S.

I strongly suspect that if any sitting U.S. President refused to respond militarily to an attack of that magnitude, there would be immediate consequences, involving Congressional leadership and questions not just of a slow process of impeachment, but a more drastic and abrupt removal from office.

5/02/2008 12:11:00 AM  

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