« Standing Alone in the Center | The RCP Blog Home Page | The Initiative Myth »

Democrats Should Go To Maliki Speech - Brad Carson

Today, I received an email from a good friend who now works in Baghdad, trying to fix the mess that has become our Iraq effort. Now, like others, he's away from his family for many months, with the only reward the satisfaction that comes from trying to improve the world around him.

The impetus for his email was the call from many Democrats -- and some Republicans like Arlen Specter -- to boycott the speech of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki because of his denunciation of Israel's attacks on Hezbollah in Lebanon. Democrats are circulating a letter to Speaker Dennis Hastert asking that the speech be cancelled until al-Maliki apologizes.

My friend in Baghdad writes:

"This may be good politics for some, but it is very bad policy and detrimental to our efforts in Iraq. There is nothing Maliki could say other than things against Israel and stay in office. Even Jalal Talibani, the Iraqi President who is a secular Kurd, and who is almost certainly very fearful of radical Islamic movements and who is definitely pro-America and would all but certainly like to see Hezb'Allah destroyed, has denounced Israel. The #1 thing Maliki has to do in the US is convince the US public and Congress to support Iraq for another couple of years. If a sizable number of Dems boycott the speech, they may do substantial harm to what all recognize as our National interests of helping Iraq succeed."

This strikes me as just about right. It doesn't compromise our friendship with Israel to support al-Maliki, even if domestic politics requires him to engage in rhetoric that we might find unpleasant. It is America's -- and Israel's -- interest to see al-Maliki succeed. And that is true whether or not you thought the Iraq invasion was justified to begin with.