[From 15.07.11, this piece suggests a way that the Americans could cut a large slice from the deficit they seem to be scaring the world with these days. Maybe just end this damn, stupid war that you decided unilaterally to wage and you could save a pile of cash to put to other things – oh, and it would also mean less killing, as a bonus! (Yay!)-a.]
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has tried everything, including using very mild quasi-profanity. But Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki still isn’t requesting U.S. troops to stay past their scheduled December 2011 withdrawal. And a new, sneakier gambit by the Iraqis to extend their stay isn’t going to work.
The big message Panetta wanted to send to the Iraqis during his first trip to Baghdad was “Damn it, make a decision” on asking the U.S. to prolongue its Iraqi adventure. (It’s the quote that launched a million tiresome articles about Panetta’s “saltiness.”) That was last weekend. The snarled, fraught anti-American Iraqi politics that make it dangerous for Maliki to issue such a request have mysteriously yet to smooth out.
But here’s how Maliki seeks to circumvent them. Now he’s saying that he doesn’t need parliamentary approval for the U.S. to leave behind some unknown number of troops to train their Iraqi counterparts in using all the F-16s and air defense systems the U.S. will sell Iraq. Clever!
Alas, the U.S. says that’s not going to cut it. “We have not gotten a formal request from the Government of Iraq,” Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan tells Danger Room.
The dynamics of the U.S.-Iraqi inability to break up are approaching peak dysfunction. A host of U.S. military officials all but beg the Iraqis to let them stay. They claim that in private discussions, the Iraqis assure them that they want a residual U.S. force, but they can’t say it in public.
Worse, the U.S. claims Iran is flooding Iraq with weapons so it’ll looks like their Shiite allies are chasing the Americans into a long-schedule departure. Which just increases the U.S.’ resolve to stay, even as Iraq gets more dangerous for U.S. troops — as if staying longer would somehow reduce the Iranian desire to attack.
Basic lesson in relationships: when the other person doesn’t want to be seen with you in public, that tells you all you need to know. Maliki’s effort is a clever attempt at having it both ways, but the U.S. is holding out for a formal declaration of love. So far, the Iraqis are sending the message that they really can live without U.S. troops.
Photo: U.S. Army