As I speculated, most of the real action went on backstage, mano a mano with President Bush.
Maliki said, "Do not imagine that this problem is solely an Iraqi problem because the terrorist front represents a threat to all free countries and free people of the world."
He presented Iraq as a crucial front in the War against Jihad, compared the violence there to the Sept. 11 attacks and of course asked for more money and troops.
One bit I personally found humorous was when al-Maliki complained about money that has wound up "in the hands of security contractors and foreign companies that operate with enormous profit margins," rather than in the hands of needy Iraqis...like his friends and cronies!
"There needs to be a greater reliance on Iraqis and Iraqi companies with foreign aid and assistance to help us rebuild Iraq," he said.
Show me da money, infidels!
Notably absent from the speech was any mention of amnesty for jihadis who've killed Americans, subjecting US troops to Iaqi shria based law or Iraq's support for Iran and Hezbollah.
What discussion there was on these topics was undoubtedly done privately.
Al-Maliki generally recieved a warm response from Congress, but a number of Democrats boycotted the speech. The official reason given was al-Maliki's strident criticism of Israel and support for Hezbollah.
Given the way some of the people who boycotted the speech normally vote when Israel is concerned, I think for some of them it was mostly just another attempt to insult the Bush Administration and earn brownie points with the Angry Left as much as anything else.
For instance, I loved this bit. Sen. Dick
Keep in mind, this is a sitting US Senator who compared US troops to the Nazis and the Khmer Rouge! At the very least, you have to wonder whether Durbin even knows what a terrorist is..let alone at his stupidity is asking al-Maliki a question like that in public.
To be fair, al-Maliki is in a difficult spot, and I'm honest enough to recognize that, no matter how I might personally feel about the Iraqi government's cheerleading for its Shiite pals in Hezbollah and in Iran.
As I've written before, al-Maliki's Dawa party is directly dependent for political and street muscle on none other Moqata al-sadr's Iranian armed and trained Mahdi Army. No matter how he might feel about Hezbollah and Iran, he had better say the right things if he wants to keep his government together and avoid an unfortunate fatal accident when he returns home.
That's the way the game is played where he lives. Ask Baysher Gamal, Anwar Sadat and a host of others.
From the standpoint of the Bush Administration, their choices are somewhat limited as well. Having bought into the fallacy of `Arab democracy' this is what they're stuck with, and he and his party are beholden to the Mullahs in Iran. it didn't have to be that way, but thanks to the way the post war government was set up, that's what there is.
Short of dissolving this govenrment, allowing Iraq to split into its natural divisions and/or admitting that the whole nation building thing was a mistake and leaving, the only choice they have is to keep whacking the jihadis, strengthening the existing government and hope for the best.
And that might actually work out, provided the US is prepared to forcefully confront Iran and give the Iraqis an excuse to ally themselves with the perceived winners in this war.