Ardolino spent his talking to Bush via a satellite uplink from Baghdad. The question was whether the Shiite government in Baghdad can be counted on to keep money flowing to the Sunnis leader in Anbar once the U.S. draws down. Bush:

Bush talked about how developing these working bureaucratic processes were the growing pains “that this society needs to go through” to achieve stability. “We shouldn’t expect instant results with a society that was brutalized by Saddam Hussein.” Many of the courageous leaders, “the Mandelas … are all dead,” as Hussein killed anyone who tried to make a positive difference, Bush asserted. He explained that the establishment of working bureaucratic systems will take time, that he is “trying to be realistic about what is possible, how fast.”

That’s cribbed from Crocker’s opening statement to the House Armed Services Committee on Monday:


The other half of the question beyond the Iraqi government’s willingness to share money with their ostensible sectarian enemies is whether those enemies are going to apply it to proper ends or line their own pockets with it. Bill says Bush mentioned the assassination of Sheikh Risha during their chat, but Risha himself was allegedly a crook of some renown. Add to that the corruption happening on the back end in Baghdad and the reconstruction funds being extorted mafia-style in Anbar by Sunni insurgent and you wonder what the ratio is of dollars spent to dollars received by their intended recipient. 5 to 1, maybe?

Bill will elaborate on that next week, I’m sure. And on the Sunnis’ greatest fear, whose association with the national government is keeping sectarian tensions nice and high in advance of a U.S. drawdown.

Update: A good sign on a bad day. “All the tribes agreed to fight al Qaeda until the last child in Anbar.”

Update: Roggio was there, too:

The diplomatic approach has not halted the EFP attacks, President Bush admitted, but he believes this has given the Iranian government pause. “We will continue to pressure these regimes,” he stated. “Has it stopped the EFPs? No. Has it got their attention? Yes.”

Apparently so.