Middle East

Rest in Peace, al-Maliki

By Margaret Kimberley

It seems history is about to repeat itself, with disastrous consequences for Iraq. Forty-four years ago, President John Kennedy gave the go-ahead to assassinate South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem. Later in the month of November, 1963, Kennedy was himself assassinated, and for the next 12 years, the puppet government of South Vietnam was headed by a succession of military warlords, until the final triumph of the national liberation struggle in 1975—at a cost of three million Vietnamese lives. The hit seems to be out on Iraq’s shaky head of state, Nouri al-Maliki, with the White House, leading Democrats, and Special Forces officers indicating al-Maliki has to be put down.

On December 20, 1983, Saddam Hussein met with U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, Donald Rumsfeld. Even then the neo-cons wanted war against Iran and encouraged Hussein to act as the surrogate to carry out their plan for American domination. He did so and began a war that ultimately cost one million lives. Saddam seemed to be sitting pretty with Uncle Sam. He could gas Iranians or Kurds and still get all the American military hardware and diplomatic support he wanted. He could hardly have imagined that he would end his life hanging from the gallows, and all because of the machinations of fair weather friends.

US blames Iraqis for the disaster they visited on that luckless nation

The Hussein example is very telling and certainly not lost on Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister of Iraq and now the favorite punching bag of American politicians. Like a brazen home invader expressing dismay at the sorry state of the house he destroyed, the United States now blames the Iraqis for the ever-worsening disaster they visited on that luckless nation.

Every week a different member of Congress visits Baghdad and returns home expressing disgust that the Iraqis aren’t managing the American made chaos any better. Al-Maliki is wisely looking for help elsewhere. He recently visited Iran and thereby elicited a not very veiled threat from president Bush—“My message to him (al-Maliki) is, when we catch you playing a non-constructive role, there will be a price to pay.”—George W. Bush

Maliki is, in the words of George H.W. Bush, in “deep doo doo.” No self-respecting person wants to be a puppet, even if they think the end result may be worth temporary humiliation. Maliki and Afghan president Karzai have been acting up a bit too much for the string pullers in Washington. Both have either praised or personally visited Iranian president Ahmedinejad, the man Bush and the rest of Congress are just itching to bomb.

As always, America brings nothing but ruin in the wake of its foreign policy involvements. That ruin continues despite changes in administrations because both Republicans and Democrats believe that America must be the world’s only super power and have an empire to go along with that awful designation.

“Maliki and Afghan president Karzai have been acting up a bit too much for the string pullers in Washington.”

Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin both recently demanded that al-Maliki step down. Maliki, having been brave enough to visit the latest target for American aggression, was having none of it. He said: “There are American officials who consider Iraq as if it were one of their villages, for example Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin. They should come to their senses.”

It is difficult to be optimistic about the state of the world when the most likely Democratic nominee proves that she will continue the occupation of Iraq and the call for America to wage war elsewhere in the world. She recently said that the Bush “surge” in Iraq is “working in some areas.” Not content to give Bush her blessing for continued destruction, she made it clear that she will act in the same manner should she become president. There is no problem in waging war as long the tactics succeed; i.e., kill so many people that resistance disappears. “We can’t ever let that happen again. We can’t be fighting the last war. We have to keep preparing to fight the new war.”

Just in case anyone was confused, it is clear that Hillary Clinton is all in favor of American military might being used wherever she thinks it should be. She and the rest of the Democrats play the obvious game of appearing to be tough if the Iraqis are kicked around. She also hopes that if she is blood thirsty enough, the arguments against her candidacy will disappear to all but a few hardcore GOP deadenders.

Al-Maliki is right to visit Iran. He needs as many friends as he can get, even if they are living under the threat of American warfare. Al-Maliki knows the punch line of the Saddam Hussein joke. American loyalty is an oxymoron.

“Will al-Maliki end up like President Diem of Vietnam, killed when John F. Kennedy lost confidence in him?”

Bush may continue to be supportive, but a second president Clinton may not be. If she declares that al-Maliki should step down when she is merely a presidential candidate, what does he look forward to if she takes the oath of office? Will he end up like President Diem of Vietnam, killed when John F. Kennedy lost confidence in him? There is a long line of foreign leaders who rued the day that an American president declared support and undying friendship.

Poor al-Maliki. He is just the latest to discover that in certain circumstances, being a friend of the United States is a terrible position indeed. Uneasy lies the head of America’s allies. Just ask Saddam Hussein.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in Black Agenda Report. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at:

Ms. Kimberley’ maintains an edifying and frequently updated blog at More of her work is also available at her Black Agenda Report archive page.

Black Agenda Report,October 29, 2007