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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Our man in Baghdad

McClatchy, 2007:
Crocker's comments are in line with what seems to be growing disaffection with Maliki's government as the Sept. 15 deadline for a congressionally required assessment of Iraq progress nears. On Monday, the chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., called for the Iraqi parliament to replace Maliki.

Last week, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen Raymond Odierno, also told reporters that the government didn't have a "blank check" when asked how long the U.S. would wait for Maliki to reach out to Sunni groups working with the military.

On Tuesday, President Bush in Canada offered little support for Maliki. "If the government doesn't ... respond to the demands of the people, they will replace the government," he said. "That's up to the Iraqis to make that decision, not American politicians."

Meanwhile, Maliki made his first official visit to Syria, which the U.S. has long criticized for allowing foreign fighters to enter Iraq. Last week, Maliki visited Iran, where he was seen laughing and smiling with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Pentagon Papers, 1971:
The McNamara-Taylor mission, like the Krulak-Mendenhall mission before and the Honolulu Conference in November after the coup, points up the great difficulty encountered by high level fact-finding missions and conferences in getting at the "facts" of a complex policy problem like Vietnam in a short time. It is hard to believe that hasty visits by harried high level officials with overloaded itineraries really add much in the way of additional data or lucid insight. And because they become a focal point of worldwide press coverage, they often raise public expectations or anxieties that may only create additional problems for the President. There were many such high level conferences over Vietnam.


While this policy was being applied in October, Lodge shunned all contact with the regime that did not come at Diem's initiative. He wanted it clearly understood that they must come to him prepared to adopt our advice before he would recommend to Washington a change in U.S. policy. Lodge performed with great skill, but inevitably frictions developed within the Mission as different viewpoints and proposals came forward. In particular, Lodge's disagreements and disputes with General Harkins during October when the coup plot was maturing and later were to be of considerable embarrassment to Washington when they leaked to the press. Lodge had carefully cultivated the press, and when the stories of friction appeared, it was invariably Harkins or Richardson or someone else who was the villian.

No sooner had the McNamara-Taylor mission returned to Washington and reported its recommendations than the generals reopened contact with the Mission indicating that once again they were preparing to strike against the regime. Washington's immediate reaction on October 5 was to reiterate the decision of the NSC on the McNamara-Taylor report, i.e., no U.S. encouragement of a coup. Lodge was instructed, however, to maintain contact with the generals and to monitor their plans as they emerged. These periodic contacts continued and by October 25, Lodge had come to believe that Diem was unlikely to respond to our pressure and that we should therefore not thwart the coup forces. Harkins disagreed, believing that we still had not given Diem a real chance to rid himself of Nhu and that we should present him with such an ultimatum and test his response before going ahead with a coup. He, furthermore, had reservations about the strength of the coup forces when compared with those likely to remain loyal to the regime. All this left Washington anxious and doubtful. Lodge was cautioned to seek fuller information on the coup plot, including a line-up of forces and the proposed plan of action. The U.S. could not base its policy on support for a coup attempt that did not offer a strong prospect of success. Lodge was counseled to consider ways of delaying or preventing the coup if he doubted its prospects for success. By this juncture, however, Lodge felt committed and, furthermore, felt the matter was no longer in our hands. The generals were taking the action on their own initiative and we could only prevent it now by denouncing them to Diem. While this debate was still going on, the generals struck.

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