Interesting Washington Post article today on internal administration deliberations related to our political strategy within Iraq. Folks at State seem to think that Zal’s Sunni outreach hasn’t worked. It’s hard to argue with that now (although I’ve been a supporter of it). It seems to me that we need to try to tackle the Sunni violence in Baghdad first, and only then try to minimize the influence of the Shia militias. This would require finesse, but not as much finesse as trying to create a new political coalition for Maliki. I’m just not sure it’s very realistic to rip up the current government and create a new one. Not only would it require the kind deft finetuning of Iraqi politics that we might not be capable of (from the Post article: “over 10 days of intense discussions recently among top policymakers in the White House review, State Department officials argued that intervening in Iraqi politics is increasingly counterproductive, particularly after elections for a permanent government last December”), the current government may be largely the product of the fundamentals in Iraq. We might just have to live with it. Although that doesn’t mean ending all pressure on Maliki. We’ve still got to press him to do the most basic things: e.g. run hospitals where Sunnis can go without fear of being murdered. But rather than doing even more to convince the Shia we are going to cut out on them, we should probably provide some reassurance and work to stifle the Sunni insurgency in Baghdad.