Talk of a US-sponsored coup in Baghdad seems to be back in the air. “In other words, Nouri al-Maliki could be in trouble unless he delivers,” says the utterly ridiculous Wolf Blitzer, before asking John Burns “do you think he has the guts to go stand up against Muqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi Army, this Shiite militia in Sadr City?” Burns, fortunately, knows what he’s talking about and says “I don’t think it’s a question of guts.” But then Burns continues:
I think one interpretation you can make of the Bush plan is that they’ve built this assumption in, that Maliki will not fulfill those pledges, he won’t meet the benchmarks and the Americans have been working desperately behind the scenes to create a kind of parallel political movement, a moderate political movement based on factions within the existing Iraqi parliament that could be used as a vehicle for a parliamentary coup against Mr. Maliki.
This strikes me as incredibly ill-advised. The saving grace of the Iraq situation has long been that Iraq has a nominally sovereign government that has any number of policy disputes with the US government. The result is a not, big, wide door for the American government to walk through where we proclaim our mission (the removal of Saddam Hussein) accomplished, shake hands with Iraq’s prime minister, and head home in an amicable manner. The more we don’t just accept US-Iraqi differences as a reason to leave, and instead choose to meddle in Iraqi affairs (note that Maliki only got into power in the first place thanks to Zalmay Khalilzad’s machinations against Ibrahim Jafari) the deeper we sink into the combined quicksands of commitment and illegitimacy.