BAD news

Zalmay Khalilzad is about to quit as Ambassador to Iraq.

Zalmay Khalilzad is about to quit.

I can think of four possible causes, none of them encouraging:

1. Khalilzad has given up on Iraq as a lost cause.

2. BushCo has decided to get rid of him in order to implement a change in policy (e.g., backing a coup that would produce an unparliamentary, strongman-led “government of national salvation” or, alternatively, backing partition).

3. BushCo has decided on a change of policy (a coup or partition) that Khalilzad wanted no part of.

4. Prime Minister al-Maliki is tired of Khalilzad’s demands that the Iraqi Security Forces be purged of, and ordered to fight, the partisan/communal militias, and either told Khalilzad he was no longer welcome or sent word to Washington that he wanted a new ambassador.

Only one thing is certain: If Khalilzad still thought his strategy had a chance of success, he wouldn’t be talking about leaving.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

9 thoughts on “BAD news”

  1. It is probably too late for a coup in Iraq. Any coup that the American organized would most likely be aimed at putting a Sunni strong man into the top job. The Shiites would never accept that and the Shiite militias are now so firmly embedded in the iraqi army and police that the Sunni strongman would have no local support. The Shiite militias and non-militia Shiites in the army and police would also have a very good reason to fight. The Shiites remember very clearly how they were encouraged to rise against Saddam Hussein after Gulf War I and then the Americans allowed Saddam to put the rising down brutally. There was never any chance that a Shiite government would take on the various Shiite militias as they are the Shiites insurance policy.The intensity of the insurgency would jump several notches.

  2. I'm puzzled. Why wouldn't Khalilzad be part of a coup against al-Maliki? I would think that Khalilzad would be all too happy if he could get rid of the current prime minister? Isn't the goal of a coup not the same of the thing that Khalilzad wants namely less power for the Shia and more for the Sunni's?

  3. Khalilzad wants to go in a new direction. But that doesn't mean he's cutting and running, mind you. Nor is he staying the course. This has never been about staying the course. It's a tactical adjustment in the strategic plan. It's what the generals on the ground recommended. Forward to victory!

  4. There is simply nothing there that he might conceivably accomplish. If he's as competent as people say, then . . . #1.

  5. Also, this is not "bad news." It is not a good thing for competent diplomats to be put to work implementing shitty policy.

  6. I see your quoted in the WashPost:
    Khalizad to Resign
    Anne Gearan writes for the Associated Press: "Zalmay Khalilzad, the plainspoken dealmaker and Republican insider who has won praise and criticism for attempts to broker Sunni political participation in Iraq's fragile government, is likely to quit his post as U.S. ambassador in Baghdad in the coming months, a senior Bush administration official said Monday."
    Blogger Mark Kleiman writes: "I can think of four possible causes, none of them encouraging."

  7. "…yeah, uhh…see you, Zalmay, don't take any wooden nickels, ha ha – Oh, good morning, Ambassador Chalabi; did you have a pleasant flight?"

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