McCain ‘Not Even Cautiously Optimistic’ About Maliki Government
Senator John McCain held another blogger conference call this morning in anticipation of a speech he’s giving to the Veterans of Foreign Wars later today. He’s going to tell them that it’s important to continue working toward victory in Iraq and enlist their support against the “forces of surrender.” He touted the military successes of the Surge.
My question, as it always is to him, is about the progress on the political front. I asked him whether he had any reason to hope that the Maliki government-on-vacation was going to achieve anything on that front. While acknowledging that he’s “not even cautiously optimistic” but that there is at least “some small hope.”
He argues that the lack of security on the ground and the very real chance that the United States would withdraw before getting the job done has made Maliki’s job much harder. He does see some signs that he’s working toward reconciliation now, notably that he’s giving aid to local Sunni sheiks who are siding with the Coalition and Government forces against the insurgency.
In something of a thought experiment, I asked whether we needed a “political reboot” in Iraq to go along with the military reboot that was the Surge. Didn’t we pretend far too soon that the Iraqis were “sovereign” and running the show even though they were clearly not capable of doing so because we were worried about the political ramifications of actually setting up an Army of Occupation?
He agrees that we made a grievous error in that but that it would be “hypocritical” of us to step back in and assert control at this point, given that we’ve touted democracy. He does think it’s possible that a vote of no confidence could change the government if in fact Maliki can’t or won’t get the job done.