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Booting Maliki

If you want a good glimpse at the contortions being undertaken by Iraq War enthusiasts in response to recent political events in that country, look no further than Max Boot's Washington Post op-ed today.

Retreating somewhat from the Bush/McCain/conservative position of a few days ago that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki didn't actually say what he said about a timetable for ending the U.S. combat role in his country, Boot moves to a long, acidic attack on Maliki as a slippery pol who's stabbing his U.S. patrons in the back. He reminds readers that Maliki didn't support the original U.S. decision to invade Iraq, and horror or horrors, hasn't embraced the "undeniable" success of the surge, citing other factors as contributing to the recent reduction in violence. That's two more points on which Maliki appears to agree with Barack Obama, which is probably what's really bugging Boot.

Americans shouldn't listen to this treacherous and ungrateful puppet, Boot suggests, but should instead talk to Iraqi military professionals, particularly one who recently said he hoped U.S. combat troops would stick around at least until 2020. He doesn't come right out and call for a military coup in Iraq, but the suggestion is in the air.

Perhaps realizing that his assault on Maliki and other Iraqi elected leaders is a bit nakedly imperialistic, Boot adds a disclaimer in his last graph: "Of course, if the Iraqi government tells us to leave, we will have to leave." Nice of him to make this grudging concession to Iraqi sovereignty. But if "the Iraqi government" means whatever military man we can find who'll support the idea of an endless U.S. troop presence and quasi-occupation of the country, then "sovereignty" becomes a pretty empty concept.