A more plausible reading of US policy: Maliki "under control", leading Iraq to US-protectorate status
An important missing hypothesis in this question comes as part of a commentary by Haroun Mohammad in his regular op-ed in Al-Quds al-Arabi this morning (Friday November 30, it's on page 19 if you have to go to the archives for the pdf), his immediate topic being the agreement in principle signed by Maliki recently committing to long-term US military "support" for the Iraqi government, something this writer says will in effect turn Iraq into an "American protectorate" by the time Bush is ready to pack his bags for home. The agreement was the result of a 20-minute phone conversation between Bush and Maliki, no prior studies, no negotiations, no consultations, no nothing. Just like that.
What this shows, says Haroun Mohammad, is something important about the personality of Maliki, which is not only devoid of any kind of Iraq-national component, but is really devoid of anything else either, except for doing what he is told to do, in this case by the Americans. And he explains:
It is no coincidence that the American occupiers selected him to use as head of government...even though his connections to Iran were well-known, having fled there and spent a long time there. His connection to the Americans started to strengthen right after the occupation, for instance according to Dawa party sources, it was Paul Bremer who picked Maliki to be a member of the DeBaathification Commission and to be its general manager, in spite of the fact that the Dawa Party had proposed others in its leadership who had experience in the human rights file.In other words, the Americans liked Maliki because he was at their fingertips, so when Mahdi was unable to garner the necessary votes, the nod went to Maliki, for his subservience.
And according to people in Ibrahim Jaafari's circle, Maliki didn't vote for Jaafari as the party's candidate for Prime Minister [in spring 2006] but stood against him, even though he was his comrade in the party, and instead supported Adel Abdul Mahdi, then Jaafari's rival, once he [Maliki] found out the Americans didn't want the Jaafari administration to continue, and were leaning to Mahdi instead. ... And now [Jaafari] has been working for months to cure the party from the hegemony of Maliki, and to rescue it from the grip of the Americans, his followers say.
In the same vein, Haroun Mohammad tells about a member of the former Allawi government, who went to Washington in 2005 to work as a "researcher" in a Washington think-tank, and he found out about the thinking behind the US support for Maliki.
[He told] how senior people in State, Defence, National Security and the CIA called him to a meeting in April 2006, during the crisis over the formation of the [current] government, and they asked him about his information and views on Maliki, who at the time wasn't yet a name among those being talked about as a candidate. He explained to them that Maliki was of modest [or insignificant] intellectual and political abilities, and he gave details about his political career and his connections with Iran and Syria. They said: "We know all that. We're asking you about his personal character. We would like you to put aside your prior attitude against him and talk to us objectively." He replied that his personality was weak and closed, and he proceeded to give them details on that point, to expressions of pleasure on the faces of all.And he goes on to elaborate on the absurdity of giving away a country's sovereignty based on a 20-minute phone call.
And this former official said when he told a number of his friends in Baghdad, including Allawi, that the Americans were going to support Maliki, they all had the same reaction: Surely you're joking.
A member of the Iraqi Accord Front says he heard with his own ears US Ambassador Khalilzad tell IAF leader Adnan Dulaimi: "Support al-Maliki, he is under control--" this was in May 2006 before completion of the composition of the current government. And there are many witnesses who can show that the Americans brought him [Maliki] and set him up as Prime Minister for their own purposes, thinking him a person who will carry out whatever they want and desire, without discussion. And in fact we have seen how American officials and members of Congress have dealt with him in ways that aren't even suitable for any human relationship, and they give him instructions and orders as if he were a flunky in some institution in Washington or California, without ever hearing any opposition not to mention the word "no". And this has led many American newspapers to call his performance "disappointing", "a failure", "unsuitable", and so on. And certainly these names didn't come out of nowhere, rather this was the gist of his character and his concerns and his abilities, as it was known beforehand. Because it is well known that the Americans reject having partners when it comes to running countries they occupy, rather they have only cooperators and those who submit to their agendas and their plans. So it is that we have seen Bush dictate to him the terms of this so-called American initiative...
This seems almost self-evident. But having followed this issue for the last year or so, I would like to underline how this analysis of Maliki--seemingly very simple and straightforward--would actually give the lie to much of what has been written about this period of Iraqi political history. Because it has been popular in the media and elsewhere to file all of the Maliki-Bush events under the heading of Bush's stupidity in unwittingly giving the control of Iraq to an Iranian partisan; and to call for American withdrawal on the basis that political events there are out of control. The hypothesis outlined here--namely that Maliki is and has always been "under control"--would require a different reading, putting more emphasis on the idea that in fact the dismemberment of the country, which Maliki has done so much to promote, is part of the American strategy, not an index of its failure.