Where is Levin going with this?
Carl Levin, the Senator from Michigan and the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, would probably like to see President George Bush impeached for whatever reason, but he can’t do so on Capitol Hill so he’s taking out his frustration by calling upon the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad to bring down Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.
The Democrats are shifting the Iraq debate away from the parameters of military success against the insurgents towards the terrain of inter-sectarian political failure. This is no longer a question of how many terrorists are sniping at American soldiers but rather one of how many Sunni ministers get sworn into the new cabinet; keeping certain Iraqi political actors happy is their new measure of success.
This shift could cost the Democrats the 2008 Presidential Elections. Why? Because both the American and Iraqi publics will tune them out.
Here’s a current political fact: Iraq influences American politics far more than America influences Iraqi politics. The Democrats chose to make Iraq their principal issue against Bush and the Republicans, but for these talking points to find traction among easily-distracted news consumers, they’d need to deploy a macabre arsenal of scary catchphrases: “Iraq is lost”, “civil war”, “ethnic cleansing”, “this war cannot be won”, and “mounting casualties”.
But, it ain’t so: casualties, by every calculation, are falling off. Even more important that casualty tallies is the number of violent incidents, and those are really falling off. Hence, it is hard for most, including Senator Levin, not to acknowledge the positive developments of the surge.
So, on to Plan B: the labyrinth of Iraqi politics. Here’s where the Democrats lose their way and their audience: America’s attention span is not going to follow them into the machinations of the Consensus bloc and Ayad Allawi’s ambitions. They don’t care whether Sunnis join the Iraqi cabinet or flee on magic carpets to the mythical Waqwaq Island; and certainly all this stuff doesn’t matter if Bush climbs the podium and tells them that America is whipping Al-Qaeda’s ass, and has the numbers to prove it.
Then, candidates like McCain and Guiliani can come in and say, “Hey, we told you so: this war can be won; we just needed to be a little patient. Would you want a man or woman for president who’s willing to throw in the towel after the first punch?”
But back to Senator Levin: does he know that the current cabinet crises began when Iraqi police carrying an arrest warrant for a Sunni minister who is accused of ordering the murder of another Sunni lawmaker’s children were barred from carrying out their duties by the American embassy?
The Sunnis interpreted this American gesture as a carte-blanche to throw a hissy fit, even though one of their own may be a murderer. It seemed to the Sunnis that the Americans would go to any length, evening to the point of harboring alleged terrorists, in order to keep them happy. That was one huge diplomatic boo-boo.
Would it be too much to expect of someone with Levin’s stature, who keeps close tabs on Iraq, to launch an investigation into this matter? Did U.S. diplomats aid and abet an Iraqi minister accused of terrorism? Does the Iraqi judiciary really have a case against this minister?
Shouldn’t Levin be interested in all these questions?
Here’s another interesting thing: Barbour, Griffith & Rogers LLC, the registered lobbyists working on behalf of Ayad Allawi, sent out Levin’s statements to their mailing list, from the account of DrAyadAllawi@allawi-for-iraq.com
I wonder if the lobbyists canvassed Levin before he made his remarks, thereby influencing his views.
Don’t reporters find this odd: Ayad Allawi has lobbyists running around DC peddling him as Maliki’s replacement, probably influencing Demoratic thinking on Iraq, and consequently shaping Democratic strategies for the upcoming US presidential elections…Doesn’t this count as news?