Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Finally, a Frank Assessment From the State Department

The president is afraid he will be made to pay at the polls. The Democrats are determined to make him pay. And yet (even in Henry Kissinger's time) the actual price in death and broken society, tears, grief and lives gone to hell is paid by those who always pay it—soldiers and the innocent among civilians.

Fernandez
Jonathan Steele writes in The Guardian (a U.K. newspaper) that
Washington's top foreign affairs spin doctor has described US policy in Iraq as "a failure", and accused his government of "arrogance" and "stupidity". Speaking in Arabic on al-Jazeera television Alberto Fernandez, director of public diplomacy at the state department's bureau of near eastern affairs, gave viewers an unusually sharp assessment of the administration's efforts in Iraq. He spoke in the past tense, as though it was all over.
In this amazingly frank zephyr of fresh air from Condi Rice’s State Department, the benefits of Arab language skills are apparent—no one knows what the hell you said until after you said it. One can imagine that Fernandez, who should be immediately be given the Medal of Credibility with Clarity Clusters, may have placed himself in the hot-seat instead.
"We tried to do our best [in Iraq], but I think there is much room for criticism because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was stupidity from the United States in Iraq," he said. "If we are witnessing failure in Iraq, it's not the failure of the United States alone. Failure would be a disaster for the region."
Moqtadaalsadr That nails it. The sticking point shared by cut and run as well as stay the course is to find a way not to have done what we did that doesn’t turn an unmitigated disaster into even more of a national bloodbath. Forgetting for the moment any concerns about terrorists from the outside, Iraq is in the process of being crucified by terrorists from the inside. What else to call Moqtada al-Sadr’s Militia and the nearly countless warlord militias who roam Iraq, enforcing their brand of law at will.
Republican or Democrat, hawk or dove, optimist or pessimist, we must try to leave the country no worse than we found it.
Among several controversial statements, Mr Fernandez ruled out a military solution in Iraq. He said the US was ready to talk with any Iraqi group - with the exception of al-Qaida in Iraq - to reach national reconciliation and try to end sectarian strife and the nationalist insurgency. "We are open to dialogue because we all know that at the end of the day the solution to the hell and the killings in Iraq is linked to an effective Iraqi national reconciliation," he said. "Sooner or later we and all those who are concerned with Iraq must sit together and establish some dialogue. This is the only way forward."
Neat segue to Marie Colvin’s piece in the Sunday (UK) Times--US in Secret Truce Talks With Insurgency Chiefs
American officials held secret talks with leaders of the Iraqi insurgency last week after admitting that their two-month clampdown on violence in Baghdad had failed. Few details of the discussions in the Jordanian capital Amman have emerged but an Iraqi source close to the negotiations said the participants had met for at least two days.
Nourialmaliki1 From the security of the Green Zone, the Iraqi government (?) has been meeting as well.
Nouri Al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister and a former Shi'ite political activist, held talks with Moqtadr al-Sadr, the radical Shi'ite cleric who leads the Mahdi Army and controls 30 of the 275 seats in the Iraqi parliament. Maliki is believed to have urged him to control his men.
Urging al-Sadr to control his men is pretty stern stuff. For his part, Maliki can't even control his own Ministery of the Interior and their death-squad police forces, perhaps because such control would actually require stepping outside those cushy Green Zobe offices. Dangerous out there, Nouri.
Mr. Bush can be said to stand on the lid of a boiling controversy over his Rumsfeld policies, as James Baker’s report is all but leaked, the Fernandez speech is denied and ‘American government representatives’ sit down in Amman with insurgent leaders.
Seanmccormack From The Guardian:
A state department spokesman, Sean McCormack, yesterday claimed Mr Fernandez had been mistranslated, and said he had disputed the description of his comments. Asked whether he thought Washington could be judged as arrogant, Mr McCormack - who was in Moscow with Condoleezza Rice - snapped "No". However, a transcript by the Associated Press confirmed the accuracy of Mr Fernandez's reported quotes.
Bushkissinger_1Ex-Secretary of State James Baker’s candid report, Fernandez’s refreshing candor and initial feelers between U.S. and insurgent forces would all be positive steps in what one hopes is the right direction—were it not for President Bush’s immovable ‘stay the course’ exhortations just two weeks before a national election.
The president is afraid he will be made to pay at the polls. The Democrats are determined to make him pay. And yet (even in Henry Kissinger's time) the actual price in death and broken society, tears, grief and lives gone to hell is paid by those who always pay it—soldiers and the innocent among civilians.
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Other media links to Bush's team falling apart;