I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Turd for Turd

If Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is to have any chance of forming a government that is seen as legitimate by the Iraqi people he must distance himself from the US and George W. Bush. He knows it even if the Bush administration doesn't. Bush's surprise photo op earlier in the week made his job more difficult. Well it would appear that he has tossed a reciprocal turd into George W. Bush's lunch box.
Iraq Amnesty Plan May Cover Attacks On U.S. Military
BAGHDAD, June 14 -- Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Wednesday proposed a limited amnesty to help end the Sunni Arab insurgency as part of a national reconciliation plan that Maliki said would be released within days. The plan is likely to include pardons for those who had attacked only U.S. troops, a top adviser said.

Maliki's declaration of openness to talks with some members of Sunni armed factions, and the prospect of pardons, are concessions that previous, interim governments had avoided. The statements marked the first time a leader from Iraq's governing Shiite religious parties has publicly embraced national reconciliation, welcomed dialogue with armed groups and proposed a limited amnesty.
While I see this as good news which leads me to believe there might actually be some small chance that Maliki may actually may be able to pull it off it certainly isn't good news to the Bush administration. The timing is especially bad coming when The Iraq war debate reopens in Washington. This will be unwelcome news to the Republicans who were trying to politicize the war before the election.

Now the Bush administration has no intention of leaving Iraq ever but I see this as a signal that Maliki will be forced to ask/tell the US to leave sooner rather than later. How long before the Iraqi forces we are training turn on our own American troops? Once again perhaps sooner rather than later. Many Iraqis will see that Maliki's action will be seen as approving the killing of American soldiers.

Get the troops out of Iraq now!

I was waiting for reaction from the right to this and was surprised by Captain Ed's pragmatic take on it.
This sounds appalling, but it probably reflects the reality of Iraq today, and will be the only realistic way to bring an end to the infighting. We can demand that Mailiki rescind the offer, but a refusal would only burnish his credentials as an independent leader. In fact, we should protest to give him that chance. I would like nothing more that to see the cowards hand from the nearest gallows, but insisting on that point would likely make almost everyone ineligible for the amnesty. Maliki has already narrowed down eligibility to those who have not attacked civilians, which will prove problematic enough to enforce.

At some point, Iraq needs a national reconciliation if it is to avoid a civil war. The Shi'a and Kurds will have to find ways to connect to the Sunni minority on a rational political basis, and the best way to get to that stage is to combine a crackdown on insurgents and a ban on militias with a general amnesty for those who wish to return home and live normal lives. Their motivation has not been radical Islam in most cases but sectarian hatreds and a reaction to occupation. If we want to stabilize Iraq, we will probably need to bend on this concern, as hard as it will be, in order to hasten that reconciliation and help the Iraqis move farther away from politics at gunpoint.

So far, Maliki has hit all the right notes in his short tenure as Prime Minister. He has acted with much more alacrity and conviction than Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who got forced into withdrawing from the run for Prime Minister. We need to continue to support Maliki and his efforts to bring his nation to healing.
He's right of course but this still presents the pro war crowd with a huge PR problem.

Update II
Via The Agonist
William M. Arkin over at the Post's Early Warning wonders:
Can the President politically, even personally, look the other way on this? I doubt it. Frontier justice is too much a core element of his thinking.
As damging as it will be to his ego and politics I don't see where he has any choice. If Maliki goes back on his amnesty proposal under pressure from the US you can kiss any chance of a government seen as legitimate good bye and an increase in violence leading up to the November elections. Maliki may have done something the Democrats couldn't do, bring Bush's "roll" to a screaching halt.

Update III
Was the amnesty the Bush administration's idea? Steve Soto has the details.

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