Andy, we’re about to have our third panel on Dissent and Reform in the Arab World (it will be on C-Span 2 at 9:30 a.m.) and so this will be an abbreviated response. I don’t disagree that Maliki is a disaster. So what is the prescription? Not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Iraqis complain that the central government is inefficient. So, instead of pumping money into Maliki’s inefficiencies, we should redirect the billions USAID is sitting on to an enhanced version of the Commanders Emergency Relief Program funds where our militaries out-and-about can fund the local municipal councils. USAID can embed its folks with the military if need be. This way, the US money gets to where it needs to be and we identify and strengthen the technocratic class. It would replicate what Hezbollah has done in Lebanon and the militias do in Iraq. We should not subsidize Maliki but let him whither on the vine. Just dumping him and imposing someone else will play into the worst rhetoric about the US and is easier said than done: In Iraq, there are 100 would-be generals for every private and while Iraqis favor a strongman, consensus breaks down when they lean it won’t be their brother or cousin. The other big mistake is the system of election we imposed. I’ll refer to my June 2004 piece in The Washington Post. I lost that debate, but certainly feel vindicated and believe the issue is worth reconsidering.
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