Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The real Hadley "proposal"

Wait a minute. Take a look at this post from Tuesday, with its summary of the Tuesday Azzaman piece, and alongside that the text of the leaked Hadley memo, printed and reported Wednesday by the New York Times.

Azzaman referred to a six-point set of options that it said Hadley evolved following his visit to Baghdad last month. The NYT version Hadley memo is also (on the face of it) a summary of Hadley's thoughts following that visit. And the Hadley memo NYT version includes three of the six points referred to in the Azzaman piece, to wit: Disbanding militia and bringing leaders involved in crimes to justice; a broader National Reconciliation program; and suspending De-Baathification. What the Hadley memo NYT version doesn't include is the following: any reference to rolling back or suspending the federalism legislation; to setting rules for oil-revenue distribution; or for employing former Baathists or compensating them for the last four years.

In other words, where Azzaman reported a six-point list including frankly pro-Sunni points, the Hadley memo NYT version refers to three points, and leaves out three. The three points that are left out of the Hadley memo NYT version are the points that take the package out of the realm of classic "reforms" and make it a clear "pro-Sunni" policy: Compensating ex-Baathists, and rolling back the federalism legislation, for example.

So: Either Azzaman made up the latter points, which is doubtful to the point being unthinkable, or else what we have seen so far is two versions of the Hadley policy, a soft version as outlined in the Hadley memo NYT version for English-speaking eyes, and a hard version summarized by Azzaman for the edification of the Sunni Arabs.

I mention this because actually there seem to be three versions. This morning (Thursday November 30), Azzaman prints on its front page what it calls the "alternative, Amman program", by which it means "alternative" to the six-point Hadley program it had outlined on Tuesday.

The "alternative, Amman program" is basically a program for a coup under another name. Here is the whole Azzaman piece:
Observers are asking about the alternatives to the Stephen Hadley policy, and high-level sources talked about an "Amman program" which they described as the ready substitute for the Hadley program. They said Bush is going to give Maliki a deadline which won't go beyond the end of the year to improve the situation in Iraq, in default of which he [Bush] will initiate an alternative program which consists of five points: (1) Initiation of military action by Iraqi special forces supported by the multinational forces to disarm the militias; (2) issuance of a new resolution by the Security Council reorganizing the multinational force in Iraq under the supervision of the international organization, with the US retaining the leading role, but including forces from Arab and Islamic countries, and also Asian and European ones, excluding however the six neighboring countries; and this would be done simultaneously with the creation of an Iraqi government composed of technocrats, without any type quota-measurements; (4) this Iraqi government would undertake the re-organization of the armed forces and guarantee their loyalty to the state only; (5) preparation of a new elections law in preparation for new elections for a parliament which would undertake revisions to the constitution and revision of the law respecting federal regions and guaranteeing central government control over natural resources including oil and minerals.
This appears at the bottom of the newspaper's front page this morning, the top half of which is devoted to the excitement of everyone in the Iraqi political world having descended on Amman for the appearance of Bush. The cancellation of the Bush-Maliki Wednesday-evening get-together was reported elsewhere to have been Maliki's answer to the leaked Hadley memo, NYT version. On that line of reasoning, publication of this "Amman program" looks like the riposte by the Sunni loyalists in the Bush administration. If that is a permissible expression.

ADDED NOTE: Two knowledgeable commenters point out that (1) the Azzaman reporters don't know Washington as well as they know Baghdad; and (2) the content of the "Amman alternative" includes completely impractical points. I agree on both counts.

The "Amman alternative" is not a responsible program for action such as you would find at any respectable white-collar institution. It seems to be a tool for gathering together the broadest possible Sunni support from across the spectrum (political groups, resistance groups, and so on) for getting behind the idea of replacing the Maliki government with a Sunni-oriented one, regardless of the "seriousness" or otherwise of the program that would follow.

The Azzaman people would be in a better position to know about schemes like this than the NYT or any of the North American expert groups would be.

Finally, another unspoken assumption I guess I am making is that the Bush priority has to be a Baghdad administration that is some way or other goes along with its "Sunni bulwark against the Shiite menace" ideology. If all the other routes are dead ends, then isn't the "Amman alternative" the logical place where this is all heading? Not "serious" or "responsible", to be sure.


Blogger helena said...

Badger, more good work. Thanks. However, I have some trouble in reading Az-Zaman's accounts of what the Bushites' policy "really" is as in any way authorittative. I believe their reporters are far, far less well plugged-in than the longstanding, Washington-based political reporters, and I think their accounts tend to "extrapolate" from perhaps a few speculations here and a few possible there, presenting the whole thing as "authortiative" in a way that doesn't seem terribly helpful.

(I give them much more credence for their reading of the attitudes of many Iraqi pols. But that is a different slice of the news business.)

Re the "differences" that you see in the three supposed accounts of the Hadley policy-- ok, two Zaman alleged accounts and the text of the SH memo itself-- it's good to remember the timeline on this. The SH memo itself was dated Nov. 8, which was a long time ago in Washington political time these days!

If the latest Zaman account has any credibility (a big if!) then I find point #2 very interesting indeed... reorganizing the multinational force in Iraq under the supervision of the UN? Wow. I'd welcome that (though the trend would need to be pushed quite a bit further than what is described here.

Anyway, thanks for this and the previous, Saudi press piece. You've been working hard!

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Rex Brynen said...

Its hard to believe that the Azzaman piece is a serious summary of US policy. For a start, no one in Washington believes that Iraqi Special Forces (which are very few in number, and in some cases disproportionately Kurdish, depending on which units one considers) plus US troops would have the slightest chance of "disarming the militias." Indeed, most estimates I've seen of US troop strength that would be required to do this approach 500,000--and even then, there's doubt it could be done.

Indeed, there's no successful precedent for involuntary disarmament of a militia during a civil war by a third party anywhere, as far as I know.

Frankly, there's also no chance the UN would take on semi-command of an Iraq PKO, and little chance that anyone would contribute significant forces to such a mission.

7:37 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Its not a serious summary of US policy in the sense of being a responsible program for action. Obviously the "Amman alternative" is full of completely impractical ideas from a rational point of view (the most obvious one being the UN part, as you point out). But as a way of enlisting the broadest possible Sunni support from across the spectrum for replacing Maliki with a Sunni-oriented government, don't you think it fills the bill?

Whether the Bush adminisration is actually laying the groundwork for such a thing is something I think the Azzaman people would be in a pretty good position to judge.

3:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Badger refers to: “...ideas from a rational point of view...” Rational means conclusions and actions deduced in accordance with rules of logic based on factually true or probably true premises. The reason Euro/American conclusions and actions do not always seem rational is because we (the public) do not know precisely what the premises (i.e. objectives) are of the leaders (Bush, Blare (sp?), etc). Obviously, they want Iraq to be a country whose economic and foreign polices are consistent with the West. But, there are many ways to achieve that: witness Libya, Saudi Arabia, etc. Even Saddaum (sp?) was in the Western “camp” at one time. If we knew what motives the leaders beyond broad generalizations; if we could be the proverbial “fly on the wall” when they have private discussions, then the rational of their behavior would be obvious.

We need more causal analysis to compliment policy speculations.

4:46 AM  

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