Thursday, November 30, 2006

Stephen Hadley's memo

Here's a link to the full text of National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley's Nov. 8 memo written after his trip to Iraq. Again, this is a NYT story, so it will probably cost to get access to the full text in a couple of days.

It's a little more overtly critical of Maliki than I had gleaned from reading the NYT story yesterday, but still carefully and conditionally worded enough to justify continuing support of Maliki, which from the Bush-Maliki conference of today was probably the preordained policy anyway. But there's still not much that wasn't being worried about in public at the time. It does suggest that from the U.S. perspective Iraq is still semi-sovereign rather than fully sovereign, as even Bush is careful to claim in public. It suggests several ways the U.S. might intervene in "internal" Iraqi politics to get the outcome the U.S. government desires.

The money quote is right at the top: "We returned from Iraq convinced we need to determine if Prime Minister Maliki is both willing and able to rise above the sectarian agendas being promoted by others. Do we and Prime Minister Maliki share the same vision for Iraq? [which is what, from the U.S. perspective? I'd really like to know, but the generalities from the president are not especially enlightening.] If so, is he able to curb those who seek Shia hegemony or the reassertion of Sunni power? The ansers to these questions are key in determining whether we have the right strategy in Iraq."

Some have suggested that this was a "friendly leak" from within the administration, to put Maliki on notice that the U.S. was scrutinizing him carefully. I have no inside information, but I wouldn't be surprised.

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