March 31st, 2006


Iraq's main spiritual leader refuses to read a letter from Bush.

A letter from President Bush to Iraq's supreme Shiite spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, was hand-delivered earlier this week but sits unread and untranslated in the top religious figure's office, a key al-Sistani aide told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Sistani's aide said the ayatollah had laid the letter aside and did not ask for a translation because of increasing "unhappiness" over American meddling in Iraq's government.

According to several Iraqi politicians, the Bush administration has made it known in no uncertain terms that they don't want the position of Iraqi Prime Minister to be filled by Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the leading choice of the Shi'a majority, because he's unpopular with Sunni and Kurds.

According to the Iraqi Constitution, the largest bloc in Parliament, in this case the religious Shiites, has the right to nominate a prime minister. Mr. Jaafari won that nomination last month, but his victory was a narrow one: he won by only one vote after getting the support of Moqtada al-Sadr, who controls 32 seats. Sadr's representatives have indicated that Jaafari has agreed to meet their demands in exchange for their votes, potentially giving them control of Iraqi service ministries such as health, transportation and electricity.

"(US Ambassador to Iraq) Khalilzad said Mr. Bush "doesn't want, doesn't support, doesn't accept" Mr. Jaafari as the next prime minister." - a senior aide to Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, leader of Iraq's majority Shi'ite political bloc.

"I want the Iraqi people to hear I've got great confidence in their capacity to self govern." - George W. Bush, March 29, 2006.


The buck stops elsewhere, apparently.

The other day, Dubya blamed Iraq's post-invasion instability and violence on Saddam Hussein. Nevermind that Saddam was captured in Dec. 2003, 28 months ago. This was pretty typical and sad, but not really anything new for him.

Well, today the blame game got worse, when Condoleeza Rice said the following:

"Yes, I know we have made tactical errors, thousands of them. I believe strongly that it was the right strategic decision, that Saddam had been a threat to the international community long enough."

This, incidentally, was the same Condoleeza Rice who said this about Saddam Hussein on July 29th, 2001:

"Let's remember that his country is divided, in effect. He does not control the northern part of his country. We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."

So, she's admitting that the US made thousands of "tactical errors", but no strategic (i.e. presidential) errors, even as she tries to justify an invasion she once described as an "urgent threat"... even though she obviously didn't really believe that Iraq was any great threat at all?

Thousands of "tactical mistakes", eh? Who should be held responsible for this? Now, obviously she doesn't want to blame anyone the president appointed, such as Rumsfeld, Bremer, etc. And the US occupation in Iraq has primarily been under the control of the Department of Defense, after Rumsfeld threw out / took over extensive post-invasion planning initiatives from the State Department...

So, how is this not blaming the soldiers?!