Tommorow, July 25th, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki visits the White House for the first time.
Expect some fireworks and for Maliki to make requests that emphasize the widening gap between US goals and the new Iraqi government.
What, you expected gratitude? Ho ho.
First on the list will undoutedly be a request to allow American troops to be tried under Iraqi law. The Iraqi government wants to score points on the home front by seeing to it that American troops should no longer receive legal immunity from Iraqi law. Don't count on the Bush Administration agreeing to that, especially since the possibility of any American troops receiving what we would consider a fair trial under the existing Iraqi courts is remote, to say the least. This is, after all, an Islamic republic they're building there.
And don't expect that lack of immunity to work both ways, Bubba. Maliki has made his support of amnesty for Iraqi `insurgents' a major political issue of his in Baghdad. He and lots of other Iraqi politicians want to to give amnesty to Iraqis who have attacked American troops, something that doesn't sit well with Congress and most Americans.
"I personally think whoever kills an American soldier in defense of his country would have a statue built for him in that country," the speaker of Parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a conservative Sunni Arab, said at a news conference on Saturday. "The parties that we cannot conciliate with are those who deliberately killed an Iraqi citizen."
More than a few Iraqi leaders are trying to force American agreement to this idiocy by threatening that the violence will continue unless pardons are given to those who say they took part in `legitimate resistance against foreign occupiers'.
Nice to know we're appreciated, hmmm?
The other two impolite topics of coversation? Try Maliki's support for his fellow Shiites in Hezbollah and in Iran.
In a word, Iran controls the Shiite elements of government in Iraq. That includes Maliki's party, Islamic Dawa which relies on armed support form - guess who?- the Iranian trained and armed Mahdi Army led by none other than our old nemesis and America hater Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr.
Al-Sadr controls important ministries and at least 30 seats in Parliament, not to mention thousands of armed men. And the other major Shiite party depends on anothe rIranian backed militia, the Badr force.
Any questions as to why the Shiite government in Iraq wants closer ties with Iran, even if it means supporting Iran against the US and opposing the use of American bases there against the mullahs in the event of a war?
By siding with Hezbollah and Iran against the Evil Zionists and the Crusaders, Maliki is just shoring up popular support among the Shiites..and dancing to the tune the Mullahs are singing from just over the border.
Because the US never confronted Iran over what amounts to open war against America in Iraq or at least saw to it that political elements with close ties to Iran stayed out of power, we simply can't depend on Iraq as an ally or even a base.
As I've written here before, what we will likely get in the end is something along the lines of `thanks infidels for your time and your money. Now get the hell out while we bond with our jihad brothers'.
I hope I'm ultimately wrong about this..but I don't think I am.
Look for President Bush to paper over these issues with photo-ops and rhetoric about how `friends can disagree'. He doesn't really have much of a choice. Neither does Maliki, who still needs US and Brit boots on the ground in Iraq in order to keep even a semblance of normality.
Our troops have performed magnificently in Iraq. But the underlying political strategy underlying our efforts there is that the idea of Arab democracy that even remotely approaches our own is possible.
Bush unfortunately forgot or never knew the ancient Arab motto: `You against me; you and me against our cousin; our clan against the other clans; our tribe against the stranger...'