Levin and Warner Call for New Iraq Government

A triumvirate of Senate foreign affairs leaders have expressed their lack of confidence in the Maliki government to get a grip on the political affairs of Iraq.

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, after completing a two-day tour of Iraq, said Monday that the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki should be voted from office because it has proved incapable of reaching the political compromises required to end violence there.

The Democratic chairman, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, and the committee’s ranking Republican, Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, who traveled to Iraq together, issued a joint statement that was only slightly more temperate than Mr. Levin’s remarks. They warned that in the view of politicians in Washington, and of the American people, “time has run out” on attempts to forge a political consensus in Baghdad.

Mr. Levin said that in his view, the political stalemate in Iraq could be attributed to Mr. Maliki and other senior Iraqi officials who were unable to operate independently of religious and sectarian leaders. “I’ve concluded that this is a government which cannot, is unable to, achieve a political settlement,” Mr. Levin said. “It is too bound to its own sectarian roots, and it is too tied to forces in Iraq which do not yield themselves to compromise.”


“While we believe that the ‘surge’ is having measurable results, and has provided a degree of ‘breathing space’ for Iraqi politicians to make the political compromises which are essential for a political solution in Iraq, we are not optimistic about the prospects for those compromises,” the joint statement said.

In response to my questioning yesterday, Senator John McCain said much the same thing.

The fact that Maliki decided to go on vacation during the Surge would seem to be further proof that he’s not up to the task at hand. Whether anyone else is, of course, is an open question. As McCain noted yesterday, there doesn’t appear to be an Ataturk in the wings.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Boyd says:

    I have misgivings when American politicians, especially when it’s one of my Senators, starts telling the people of another country who they should (or shouldn’t, in this case) elect.

    Foreign politicians don’t have any business telling folks how to vote. I don’t like it when it’s done to us, nor when our politicians do it to another country.

    Attack their policies, their actions, their behavior; that’s fine. Telling another country who should be their leader? That just doesn’t seem right.

    I suppose I’m going to have to break down and contact Senator Warner over this to express my displeasure.

  2. Stormy70 says:

    By all means, lead the way, Levin. Show Maliki how to aspire to the heights of a 14% approval rating, and a do nothing label. You are the man.

  3. KYJurisDoctor says:

    It is hard not to blame Maliki for all the malarkey in Iraq. His inability to get a united coalition — and to keep it — is one of the main reasons Iraq is in chaos.

    http://OsiSpeaks.com or http://OsiSpeaks.org

  4. Andy says:

    It is hard not to blame Maliki for all the malarkey in Iraq. His inability to get a united coalition — and to keep it — is one of the main reasons Iraq is in chaos.

    Perhaps it is an impossible task?

  5. Beldar says:

    Gosh, your post about the conference call with McCain left out the part about him calling for an immediate ouster of the Maliki government in the next few days, with its implied threat of a coup d’état fomented by the American military if first the Maliki government and then the Iraqi parliament is too slow in taking orders from the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    Or maybe McCain (like Warner) didn’t actually say that — just Levin. You think Levin was speaking on Condi Rice’s or George W. Bush’s instructions? Because if not, I think he was way, way off base — regardless of whether he’s right or wrong in his analysis of the prospects of the Maliki government.