Both sides have an incentive to make a deal before the next big spending fight, although much more urgently in Bush’s case, of course. He’ll have no support left among his base if the amnesty bill passes (as House Republicans have already warned him) and the Dems don’t want to be stuck if Petraeus comes back in September with a favorable progress report. The question is, what would a compromise look like? Like this, maybe:
The White House has opposed proposals in Congress to partition Iraq, or sharply decentralize its government.
That idea — what proponents of decentralization call a “federal system of government” — is favored by an unusually broad bipartisan group of senators. They were pulled together this month by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), a presidential candidate, to cosponsor a nonbinding resolution supporting the federalism plan.
The administration stance may be easing. On a trip to Iraq about a week ago, Gates openly reflected that greater emphasis outside Baghdad might prove more effective. “Perhaps we have gotten too focused on the central government, and not enough on the provinces and on the tribes and what is happening in those areas,” Gates told reporters.
Bush and Gates have been talking up Baker-Hamilton lately too, so presumably this “decentralization” plan would go hand in hand with a partial withdrawal and redefinition of the mission towards training and focusing on Al Qaeda. On the latter point, Iraq vet Pete Hegseth wonders (as I did the other day) why the Democrats “[seem] to believe that America will have success fighting terrorists in Iraq with a minimal troop presence, despite the fact that 150,000 troops have their hands full right now doing precisely that.” That’s where the decentralization comes in, I guess — empowering local tribesmen, a la the Anbar Awakening, fill the manpower shortfall rather than relying on the Iraqi Army, which can’t even hold the territory being won by U.S. troops in Baquba. What this really is, it seems, is a way to provide enough short-term security to allow us to withdraw with the expectation that the now-decentralized country will eventually fracture and various permutations of civil war will erupt between the partitioned areas and/or within them, among the various tribes and militias. It’s not a real solution, in other words, it’s more a matter of buying time and political cover. But since we don’t have enough troops to guarantee security and aren’t ever going to without a draft, there’s no alternative. Says Susan Collins of the decentralization plan:
“It’s essentially giving federal approval to ethnic cleansing,” Collins said. “On the other hand, nothing seems to be working.”
Pretty much, especially since decentralization is apt to make Turkey nervous about an increasingly autonomous Kurdistan and bring them into this too. Meanwhile, Michael Yon is still in Baquba and seems demoralized by the reports of AQ leaders escpaing and the performance of the pathetic Iraqi police but encouraged by the performance of the local IA divisions and the fact that some AQ leaders are reported to have been trapped by the tightening security cordon. Let’s hope; there was a tight security cordon in Baghdad today too and that didn’t stop a jihadi bomber from killing two high-profile politicians meeting in the lobby of a hotel. Presented without comment:
“It was a great breach of security because there are three checkpoints, one outside and two inside,” said hotel worker Saif al-Rubaie, 28, who witnessed the blast and said all the casualties were Iraqis, most employees in the reception area.
Police said the dead included hotel resident Fassal al-Guood, a Ramadi tribal sheik and former governor of Anbar province who was a leader of the Anbar Salvation Council, which has partnered with U.S. and Iraqi officials to fight al Qaeda influence in Anbar…
Logan reported that the sheiks were meeting Monday in the lobby with officials from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, including Aziz al-Yasiri, a former general and prominent politician who was leading a movement inside the Iraqi government to force Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki out of office.
Al-Yasiri was also killed in the blast.
In a story first broadcast by CBS News … on Friday, al-Yasiri, a Sunni, said the al-Maliki government had become a “multi-party dictatorship”, and that he was working with other politicians to bring about a no-confidence vote on the prime minister, which could have led to his mandatory resignation.
Finally, Meryl Yourish notes the birth of a meme in coverage of today’s bombings around Iraq.