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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

On the other hand, about that sock, Carl ...

A day after I scolded Sen. Carl Levin (D-IL) for an egregious case of speaking out of school, this WaPo article may lead some credibility to a possibility that I mentioned but discounted as very unlikely: that Levin's comments about the Maliki government's continued parliamentary viability were made with the Bush-43 Administration's advance approval, as part of a coordinated signals campaign. They're certainly consistent with what Dubya himself said on Monday:

President Bush pointedly declined Tuesday to offer a public endorsement of embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, expressing his disappointment at the lack of political progress in Iraq and saying that widespread popular frustration could lead Iraqis to replace their government.

"The fundamental question is: Will the government respond to the demands of the people?" Bush said. Stopping short of directly endorsing Maliki, as he has on several previous occasions, Bush continued, "If the government doesn't respond to the demands of the people, they will replace the government."

In apparent response to congressional calls for a change of leadership in Iraq, Bush added, "That's up to the Iraqis to make that decision, not American politicians."

White House aides said later that Bush's comments did not mean he was withdrawing support from Maliki but were simply a statement of reality — that Iraqis were growing frustrated and that under the country's new democratic system, the people could decide to replace the current government with a more capable one. But the president's tough words — together with similar strong statements from the top U.S. diplomat in Baghdad — suggested that the administration's patience with the current leadership is wearing thin....

Bush's remarks came a few hours after the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, made similar comments in Baghdad, calling the Iraqi government's political progress "extremely disappointing" and telling reporters that stabilizing the country would require reconciliation among rival factions.

Another possibility is that Levin was ahead of where the Administration yet wanted to be publicly, but the Administration was prodded by Levin's remarks into going public. But if Levin was actually speaking according to a common plan with the Administration, then consider this post to be Beldar dribbling crow feathers down his chin. (Among my potential guests for this meal may be Duane Patterson and Ed Morrissey, good company the both of them.)

In any event, it's fair to conclude that Dubya's comments pretty much mooted any potential fall-out from Levin speaking with a different voice than the Administration on this particular issue and occasion. Pursuant to plan or not, all the American voices seem to be expressing a common sentiment. That's good.

What may be the biggest surprise is near the end of the same WaPo story, though:

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner used a surprise trip to Baghdad to call on European countries to help the United States repair Iraq. Kouchner's comments represent a major departure from former French president Jacques Chirac's stance on Iraq. Relations between France and the United States were severely damaged after Chirac led global opposition to the 2003 invasion.

Since his election in May, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has sought to strengthen ties with the United States. Kouchner told a French radio station that Iraq's leaders are "expecting something" from the French government and that he planned to assist U.S. efforts.

"The Americans can't get this country out of difficulty all alone," Kouchner said.

That's very good indeed. (My friend and frequent commenter DRJ, guest-blogging at Patterico's, appropriately wonders if this might have more to do with French interest in getting a piece of the Iraqi oil action. It might; but I'd settle for an enlightened French self-interest which recognized that chaos in Iraq is not in the interests of any civilized capitalist country.)

Posted by Beldar at 01:44 AM in Global War on Terror, Politics (2007) | Permalink


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(1) DRJ made the following comment | Aug 22, 2007 5:19:16 PM | Permalink

Now Hillary has joined the Dump Maliki bandwagon.

(2) DRJ made the following comment | Aug 22, 2007 11:59:29 PM | Permalink

Bush reportedly reaffirmed his support for al-Maliki, calling him a "good guy, a good man with a difficult job." Isn't that similar to what he said about Mike "Brownie" Brown after Katrina ("Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job.")?

If I were al-Maliki, I'd be worried.

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