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Bad News For US: Iraqis Exerting Political Influence

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I’m sure many in the Bush administration are probably remembering that old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true.” Because while we freed the Iraqis from Saddam’s control and helped them get elections going, guess what they’re doing with this newfound influence?

From Washington Post:

BAGHDAD, June 13 — The Bush administration’s Iraq policy suffered two major setbacks Friday when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki publicly rejected key U.S. terms for an ongoing military presence and anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for a new militia offensive against U.S. forces.

During a visit to Jordan, Maliki said negotiations over initial U.S. proposals for bilateral political and military agreements had “reached a dead end.” While he said talks would continue, his comments fueled doubts that the pacts could be reached this year, before the Dec. 31 expiration of a United Nations mandate sanctioning the U.S. role in Iraq.

The moves by two of Iraq’s most powerful Shiite leaders underscore how the presence of U.S. troops has become a central issue for Iraqi politicians as they position themselves for provincial elections later this year. Iraqis across the political spectrum have grown intolerant of the U.S. presence, but the dominant Shiite parties — including Maliki’s Dawa party — are especially fearful of an electoral challenge from new, grass-roots groups.

Folks, if it hasn’t become obvious already, let this serve as yet another reminder that Iraq is going to take the form it wants to, and to delude ourselves that we can somehow shape it by maintaining a large presence in the country is folly. Once we handed over the political reins to the Iraqis, that was it. Why we haven’t realized that yet isn’t surprising given this administration’s abysmal track record for making good foreign policy decisions, but there’s no time like the present!

And let me ask, strategically, doesn’t it make a hell of a lot more sense for us to get out of the country so these politicos can’t scapegoat us any longer? Instead, we can simply offer financial aid so they continue to rebuild their infrastructure and possibly military assistance, but only if they really need it. And after that, let the political chips fall where they may. No more nation building for us. Game over.

And about that new militia Sadr is promising…

The new group, Sadr’s statement said, would operate in “total secrecy” and attack only American forces. “The resistance will be restricted to a group authorized by a written letter from us soon,” it said. “Arms will be restricted to them and they may only point them towards the occupier.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of hearing news like this. Let’s bring our men and women home already instead of sitting back and watching Sadr paint fresh targets on their backs. Because remember, while the surge has been successful in lowering our casualty rates, there’s really only one way to ensure it dwindles down to nothing.

More as it develops…