Iraq's political leaders have failed to reach agreements on nearly every law that the Americans have demanded as benchmarks, despite heavy pressure from Congress, the White House and top military commanders. With only three months until progress reports are due in Washington, the deadlock has reached a point where many Iraqi and American officials now question whether any substantive laws will pass before the end of the year.
Kurds have blocked a vote in Parliament on a new oil law. Shiite clerics have stymied an American-backed plan for reintegrating former Baathists into government. Sunnis are demanding that a constitutional review include more power for the next president.
And even if one or two of the proposals are approved -- the oil law appears the most likely, officials said -- doubts are spreading about whether the current benchmarks can ever halt the cycle of violence gripping Iraq’s communities.
The above is from Damien Cave's "Iraqis Are Failing to Meet U.S. Benchmarks" in this morning's New York Times and the trick here is that a puppet's being written about by a puppet. Check the end credits on this "production" and grasp that Cave's fronting for nearly for everyone. Including two who well remember other laughable efforts by the Times to sell government policies (every day but, for fun, think especially of Robert Pear's disgraceful distortions of Medicare in the 90s). This really shouldn't have any byline because it's, for all intents and purposes, a New York Times editorial. As noted almost a year ago, al-Maliki's on his final legs and this article exists to serve the US State Department and for no other reason. If al-Maliki can't pull off the theft of Iraqi oil (the privatization), he's gone and this exists to prepare you for it so that you'll be saying, "Well what did he do?" when he's gone.
Not that he ever did anything before the US lost patience.
But as Gore Vidal has noted many times for many years, the Times isn't a newspaper informing readers, it's signaling the aims and goals of whichever current administration. Think of it as your tip sheet or your community newsletter, but don't think of it as a newspaper.
A lot of time is wasted discussing the Iraqi constitution and offering up the United Nations as a big old sheild to hide behind. al-Maliki's not completely out yet because the article doesn't point out that from the start he missed the Constitutionally mandated deadline to put together his cabinet. They're still going after the now former Speaker of the Iraqi parliament in such a way that if al-Maliki can pull off the oil law, he can be praised and hailed as a 'hero' (and they can say, "It was all his fault!").
A particularly too-cute-for-words passage begins with this sentence: "Ever since the Americans purged former members of the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein from Iraq's government soon after the 2003 invasion, they have been trying to reform their policy." If you think we're about to hear about Paul Bremer, forget it. It's off to the Land of Blame and Chalabi City. Now Chalabi's a thug, no question. But Chalabi's not really the one who did the purge, is he?
And Chalabi's not really the one who sat on the sidelines pulling the strings, perfectly happy to let Baathists be punished and penalized. No, that would be the American administration who only grew concerned about the issue when Americans grew weary of the ever climbing death tolls.
Lloyd notes Walter Pincus and Ann Scott Tyson's "Big Boost In Iraqi Forces Is Urged" (Washington Post):
A senior U.S. military commander said yesterday that Iraq's army must expand its rolls by at least 20,000 more soldiers than Washington had anticipated, to help free U.S. troops from conducting daily patrols, checkpoints and other critical yet dangerous missions.
Even then, Iraq will remain incapable of taking full responsibility for its security for many years -- five years in the case of protecting its airspace -- and will require a long-term military relationship with the United States, said Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who until recently led the U.S. military's training effort in Iraq.
And we'll pair that up with UPI's "32,000 Iraq police 'lost,' more on payroll:"
About 32,000 Iraqi police who have been trained and equipped are no longer on the job, having left for various reasons over the last 18 months.
And as many as 12,000 police not on the job are drawing salaries anyway, said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who has just returned from more than two years in Iraq overseeing the development of Iraqi security forces.
The United States has overseen the training and equipping of more than 194,000 Iraqi police. But a data check in January revealed that over the last 18 months, 32,000 of them are no longer coming to work.
The e-mail address for this site is email@example.com. I'm going through as many e-mails as I can this morning. Expect a delay before we get to how crazed and crazy al-Maliki currently is.
the new york times
the washington post
ann scott tyson