This is pretty infuriating:
Hillary: Maliki Should Go. Bush: Maliki Should Stay
Hillary Clinton called today for the ouster of Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, echoing a similar pronouncement two days ago by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI). “The Iraqi government’s failures have reinforced the widely held view that the Maliki government is nonfunctional and cannot produce a political settlement, because it is too beholden to religious and sectarian leaders,” Clinton said in a statement given to CNN. President Bush, however, voiced his support for Maliki today and said, “it’s not up to the politicians in Washington, D.C., to say whether he will remain in his position. It is up to the Iraqi people who now live in a democracy and not a dictatorship.”
It’s a rare day when President Bush gets something totally right and Hillary Clinton gets it totally wrong. But this is one of those days.
The first thing to note is that this is a hubbub over nothing. The internal dynamics of the Iraqi government are about as relevant as those of the Somali government; in both cases, the central government is sufficiently hapless that changes in the government’s composition or leadership will do very little to change the facts on the ground. And when the proposed new prime minister is Ayad Allawi, who failed to govern Iraq effectively from 2004-05, when the situation was far more favorable than today, the transfer of power is especially meaningless.
But a coup like this is harmful for the same reason US support for the 2002 coup against Chavez and the 2004 coup in Haïti was harmful: it hurts our international image. When we’re directly choosing the leaders of foreign countries, it’s hard to not look like tyrannical imperialists. And it’s hard for us to push a democracy agenda (as if we were) with a straight face. One thing we must recognize in dealing with Iraq is that it’s not our country. It’s not a colony. Overtly disrespecting its sovereignty and autonomy is a insulting and dangerous move. Hell, it might even be “irresponsible and frankly naïve.”