I received a telephone call on Friday from a long-time Iraqi friend and
contact who is a Shia and a senior member of SCIRI. He was here in
Washington with the Hakim delegation 6-10 December, when I had another
long and detailed talk with him. He told me by phone on Friday about the
raid, and told me the "friendly diplomatic delegation" from Teheran had
met cordially with PM Maliki and VP Hakim as well as with President
Talabani before they were taken, roughly and rudely, into custody by the
Americans. This nice, sensible friend is a staunch ally of America if
we ever had one in Iraq. But when we talked three days ago, he was
distraught over this huge gaffe. From the scant details that we have
heard at this end, it appears that this was another complete screw-up --
Inspector Clouseau and Agent Maxwell Smart all over again. But try
explaining that to the Iraqis --- or to the Iranians, for that
matter! Superpowers can't possibly be that stupid, so they must be doing
something Machiavellian. It can only be interpreted by all of them as
another positive proof that the Americans want to spoil any chance of a
constructive relationship between Iraqis and their Iranian neighbors.
If I am moving rapidly toward a "let's go home sooner rather than later"
position, it is because I am more and more convinced that we are our own
worst enemies in the strategy we have devised for ourselves there. All
the good hard work that has been done by sensible and well-meaning
people on both sides, and all the terrible death and destruction, seem
more futile and more tragic with every passing day.
Salaam, Shalom, Peace.