Fareed Zakaria says the Bush war plan for Iraq has a lot to do with the country’s collapse today, but it’s mostly Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s fault. Excerpt:
If the Bush administration deserves a fair share of blame for “losing Iraq,” what about the Obama administration and its decision to withdraw American forces from the country by the end of 2011? I would have preferred to see a small American force in Iraq to try to prevent the country’s collapse. But let’s remember why this force is not there. Maliki refused to provide the guarantees that every other country in the world that hosts U.S. forces offers. Some commentators have blamed the Obama administration for negotiating badly or halfheartedly and perhaps this is true. But here’s what a senior Iraqi politician told me in the days when the U.S. withdrawal was being discussed: “It will not happen. Maliki cannot allow American troops to stay on. Iran has made very clear to Maliki that its No. 1 demand is that there be no American troops remaining in Iraq. And Maliki owes them.” He reminded me that Maliki spent 24 years in exile, most of them in Tehran and Damascus, and his party was funded by Iran for most of its existence. And in fact, Maliki’s government has followed policies that have been pro-Iranian and pro-Syrian.
Washington is debating whether airstrikes or training forces would be more effective, but its real problem is much larger and is a decade in the making. In Iraq, it is defending the indefensible.
Let Iran save Maliki, if Maliki is to be saved. There are no good options for the US.