I was going to write something about Pat Rabbitte falling on his sword, but WorldbyStorm has that well covered, so instead we’ll consider all this crack about Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister of the Iraqi occupation government. Over the last couple of days various Democratic bigwigs in Washington, with Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) leading the charge, have been calling for the overthrow of Maliki and his replacement with – well, they aren’t too sure, but they have decided Maliki is not fit for purpose and want some other numpty to be appointed in his place. President W, on the other hand, is chary of overthrowing the elected government in Baghdad, which might strike you as being a bit ironic from the man who invaded the country in the first place.
It tells you a little something about the Democratic Party. One is that the Dems are the graveyard of the American radical’s hopes – take somewhere like New York, a heavily Democratic state where 85% of Democrats are against the war, and who do they get for senator? It’s true that Hillary has positioned herself as critical of the war’s conduct, but that must be down to the war’s enormous unpopularity, with even W’s own Republicans fracturing on the issue, and Irish-American candidate Barack O’Bama making headway with the Dems. But the call for Maliki’s ouster demonstrates that there are other forces at work as well.
There is a lot of guff talked about the influence of the neocon ideologues on the Bush administration’s Middle East policy, not least by people like the Dude who should really know better. Any sway the neocons have had results from them being patronised (in a very real sense) by nationalistic militarists like Cheney and Rumsfeld, who saw the utility of having some tame intellectuals on board. Until quite recently, most of these guys were registered Democrats, and Kissingerian realpolitik still cuts a lot of ice with the Bush White House. It’s a reasonable assumption that Bushite policy in the Middle East derives rather little from Wolfowitz’s fond dreams of remaking the region as a haven of democracy, and rather more from an unideological mixture of projection of force, smiting the enemies of America and, not least, a smash-and-grab raid on Iraq’s oil reserves. Maliki is fine by George, as long as he doesn’t become an outright liability. And then the Republicans, who actually have to wage this unwinnable war, may well be considering the outcome from dismissing someone they’ve been trying to build up as an elected leader.
The Dems’ beef against Maliki has been running since shortly after his election, and has a lot to do with his critical remarks towards Israel, which have been extremely mild considering his electoral base. The Israeli government is also a little twitchy about the fact that overthrowing Saddam – a known known, in Rumsfeld terminology – and introducing elections has resulted not in the friendly regime they were promised, but a distinctly pro-Iranian regime. The differences between the parties in the US are of course more a matter of degree than quality, but the Dems are notable for being much more in thrall to the Israel lobby – due not least to electoral arithmetic in key states, but also to a fair whack of campaign money (Hillary, of course, has by far the most Israel money in her warchest of any presidential candidate). The Republicans, on the other hand, still have a considerable wing that adheres to the old James Baker III maxim – “Fuck the Jews. They don’t vote for us anyway.”
So how is this going to pan out? The Bush administration seems to have serious trouble holding on to its Iraqi prime ministers, and talk of the new Iraqi sovereign democracy starts to look seriously hollow when the occupation forces can just dismiss elected officials. But it’s an interesting little conundrum. W probably has more ability to do stuff in Iraq than he does at home these days, so it all comes down to what the Emperor decides to do. As for the Dems, for all their striking poses around the war, they still haven’t come close to pushing Bush into doing anything he doesn’t want to do. Will they ever?