I’ve often said not if we’re involved, and Rick Moran offers some additional insight in response to Bush’s speech yesterday…

Not a word in the President’s speech about the British withdrawal from the south which has already precipitated a civil war within a civil war between rival militias for control of that vital area. The hand of Iran is most prominent here and there is little doubt that the mullahs will try their best to back the winner in this conflict thus giving them effective control of nearly one third of the country.

And what of our friends, the Kurds? They recently threw in their lot with the Shias by signing a power sharing agreement that froze the Sunnis out of effective representation in Baghdad. Hailed by Maliki as a triumph, the agreement is a recipe for disaster in that it gives the Sunni insurgents a reason to fight on.

I could go on with the familiar litany of catastrophes waiting to happen, missed opportunities, “beat the heat” vacations by the parliament (which never has a quorum to pass anything anyway), the inexhaustible supply of insurgents and their sympathizers – numbered in the hundreds of thousands by our own military – and the hopelessness of most ordinary Iraqis about the security situation.

Does all of this overshadow the genuine progress being made against al-Qaeda as well as some encouraging news about some of the Sunni tribes switching sides? I think any rational, fair minded person who doesn’t have a partisan agenda would have to agree that despite the relative success of the surge to date, the daunting task to make Iraq “free” and achieve any kind of “victory” remains a pipe dream.

Agreed. The time for a military “victory” is over. And the Iraq government isn’t going to abide by any timetable we set. It’s up to them now, and they aren’t pulling their weight? So what’s the plan? Wait around until they get their act together? Unlikely. And what’s more, al-Maliki has said he wants us to leave. So why are we staying?

I posted this and then saw a story about a new report that offers a scatching critique of the Iraq government and al Maliki.

From NY Times:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 — The administration is planning to make public today parts of a sober new report by American intelligence agencies expressing deep doubts that the government of the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, can overcome sectarian differences. Government officials who have seen the report say it gives a bleak outlook on the chances Mr. Maliki can meet milestones intended to promote unity in Iraq.

As the end of the Congressional recess draws closer, the debate over Iraq policy will only intensify, and the new intelligence assessment, called “Prospects for Iraq’s Stability” is likely to play an important role in that discussion. Officials said the assessment concluded that Mr. Maliki retained support among Shiite groups in part because putting together a new government would be arduous. Officials in Washington and Baghdad have said for months that any military gains would be ephemeral if Iraqi politicians were not able to bridge sectarian divides.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the report will be issued this morning, and spokesmen for both the White House and the director of national intelligence declined to comment. “The report says that there’s been little political progress to date, and it’s very gloomy on the chances for political progress in the future,” said one Congressional official with knowledge of its contents.

Okay, so al-Maliki is out. Who will be in? Looks like former interim PM Allawi.

Think Progress points to some intel on a PR campaign to get him the job…

BGR’s staff is stacked with conservative operatives with extremely close ties to the White House. Its president is Bush’s former envoy to Iraq, Ambassador Robert Blackwill. Philip Zelikow, a former Counselor to Condoleezza Rice, serves as a senior adviser to the firm. Lanny Griffith, chief executive officer, is a Bush Ranger having raised at least $200,000 for Bush in the 2004 presidential election. And Ed Rogers, chairman and founder of the firm, has been a reliable political ally for the Bush White House.

The right-wing has long had a fascination with Allawi, largely because he has proved to be compliant with the Bush administration’s agenda. Allawi was ceremonially anointed Iraq’s leader in June 2004 by then-Coalition Provisional Authority chief administrator Paul Bremer.

While serving as interim Prime Minister, Allawi repeatedly rejected calls for U.S. troop withdrawals. During the height of the 2004 presidential election campaign, Allawi delivered a strong defense of Bush’s “stay the course” strategy in much-hyped Rose Garden appearance. Later, media reports revealed that Allawi had been “coached” by the administration prior to his appearance.

al-Maliki said he didn’t need the US in there, and now he’s getting pushed out. True, he does seem to be ineffectual, but we’re talking about an extremely broken country with factions that don’t get along at all. So our solution seems to be replacing him with Allawi, who has already demonstrated he’ll be a puppet for the Administration’s PR. Does that sound like a plan to kick the Iraq government in the ass or simply control the message?

And so it goes…

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