COMMENTS: Politics of Iraq

At the Solarium Room of the White House yesterday, NBC's Tim Russert reported, Bush had heard "unvarnished," "candid" and "blunt" talk about Iraq from eleven Republican congressmen led by Mark Kirk of Illinois and Charles Dent of Pennsylvania. According to Russert, they told the President that he had lost credibility when speaking about the war and any public message had to come from Gen David Petraeus instead. Russert quoted one: "How can our daughters and sons spill their blood while the Iraqi parliament goes on vacation?"

Apparently in response Vice President Dick Cheney was sent on an unannounced trip to Baghdad to urge the parliament not to take its two-month summer recess but to stay in session to settle three key disputes. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski paraphrased Cheney's message: "Reach political reconciliation between Shias and Sunnis or risk losing US support." Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki promised President Bush six months ago to find compromises concerning oil revenues, former Baath Party bureaucrats and sectarian power sharing, ABC's Terry McCarthy (subscription required) reminded us. "So far nothing." Tariq al-Hashimi, Iraq's vice president, told McCarthy there was "simply not enough goodwill among politicians to make progress."

In Diyala province Gen Dana Pittard told CBS' Mark Strassmann that "capable" Iraqi military commanders who targeted Shiite militias are "often sabotaged" in some case "forced to quit" or "fired." The general blamed "different political leaders." Strassmann's unnamed sources construed that as including the prime minister's office.


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