Monday, November 13, 2006

Iraqi Ideas

Instapundit pointed me to this post at National Review Online's The Corner. On Sunday, Mario Loyola linked to a couple of interviews with Iraqi bigwigs, and he commented on some points that Prime Minister Maliki made to John Simpson of the BBC:

The encouraging thing here is how convincingly Maliki talks about imposing "the authority of the state," and he shows a pretty nuanced view of the danger the militias pose outside state control, and the role they can play if properly regulated. He also makes a point I had never thought of, which is that the United States and the Coalition have an obligation under Security Council resolutions to maintain security in Iraq until Iraqi security forces can take over. And by the way, he has every intention of seeing Saddam hang before the end of the year.
Like Loyola, I had never thought about the fact that UN Security Council resolutions obligate the Coalition to stay in Iraq until Iraqis are ready to manage their own security. That is really quite encouraging, since my biggest concern with the results of the election last Tuesday has been that we not abandon Iraqis and their new government to the tender mercies of the terrorists, the militias, or the Iranians. The Iraqi government is clearly interested in its own stability, and would not express the need for a continued Coalition presence if the removal of foreign troops would aid in their struggle to unite the rival elements of Iraqi society. In other words, considering how much Iraqi citizens really don't like the occupation, the government wouldn't ask for help if they didn't need it. If it becomes clear to Democrats, leadership and average Joe alike, that we are staying because the Iraqi government really does want us there, there may be less of a conflict here at home--less impetus to set a withdrawal date. Despite what some Democratic lawmakers are saying now that they will control Congress in the new year, I really am not so despairing of reasonableness in the Democratic leadership that I think that direct appeals from the Iraqi government for us to stay will fall on unyieldingly deaf ears. Too much of an optimist to buy the "all is lost" line.

Also via Instapundit, Josh Manchester, at TCS Daily, has a solid suggestion for how the White House can encourage a serious approach on the part of the new Congressional leadership toward national security:

A charm offensive is not quite what is necessary. Instead, perhaps a combination of sobering events that will impress upon Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid the gravity of our current situation would do the trick. Why not invite both Pelosi and Reid to the White House every morning until the new Congress is sworn in - and ask them to listen with the President to his Presidential Daily Brief, describing what Al Qaeda has cooked up of late? Or, why not invite them along with the President to one of his private sessions with the families of those who have paid the ultimate price overseas? Speaking of those overseas whose lives hang upon American policy, Pelosi and Reid could be participants in the next conference call that Bush has with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki.

The point of all of this would be to create a true bipartisan consensus on Iraq that does not leave the Iraqis and US credibility to disaster.

Interesting, and worthwhile recommendation, eh? One of the reason the President has been so focused on the prosecution of the WoT is, no doubt, these daily reminders of the dangers our country faces. Perhaps if Pelosi and Reid can get some of the non-stop exposure to reality that the President experiences, they will find their way nearer to establishing that "true bipartisan consensus on Iraq" that Manchester advocates. Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit himself, writes of Manchester's ideas, "He also offers some excellent advice for President Bush. I hope that someone in the White House reads it." For what it's worth, I concur.

Update: Let me clarify that I know that there are people expressing concerns that the Iraqi government is "too dependant" and will never take over their own security until we make them--by leaving. I find this argument unconvincing. Considering that the Coalition occupation of Iraq is hardly popular among Iraqis, I don't think we need to fear that the Iraqi government wants to keep us around indefinitely, because it somehow makes things easy for them. The notion that the the Iraqi leadership is just shirking responsibility, and won't take it on till they're forced to, like some irresponsible teenager, when they have come so far in establishing themselves as a legitimate government, and have put enormous effort into trying to work out the differences between ethnic and religious factions, is a a very big stretch to credibility. They're facing huge obstacles, and the help they need to maintain security and train a reliable and professional security force of their own is entirely reasonable. To pull out because we want to force the Iraqis to grow faster than they are able is foolhardy, and an invitation for disaster.