Maliki Snub?

A U.S.-Iraq summit planned for today was suddenly pushed back to Thursday after this classified memo was leaked by the New York Times. Bush administration officials deny any link between the story and the delay of the summit.

Drip, Drip, Drip – NYT Leaks Again

The New York Times published details from a classified memo on Wednesday which expresses doubts whether Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has the power to control sectarian violence in Iraq.

The Nov. 8 memo was prepared for Mr. Bush and his top deputies by Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, and senior aides on the staff of the National Security Council after a trip by Mr. Hadley to Baghdad.

The memo suggests that if Mr. Maliki fails to carry out a series of specified steps, it may ultimately be necessary to press him to reconfigure his parliamentary bloc, a step the United States could support by providing “monetary support to moderate groups,” and by sending thousands of additional American troops to Baghdad to make up for what the document suggests is a current shortage of Iraqi forces.

“His intentions seem good when he talks with Americans, and sensitive reporting suggests he is trying to stand up to the Shia hierarchy and force positive change,” the memo said of the Iraqi leader. “But the reality on the streets of Baghdad suggests Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions, or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into action.”

I’ve got no problem with the Bush administration questioning Maliki’s capacity to lead. In fact, I think we should have been watching him like a hawk since day one. I do have a problem with the New York Times pushing the criticism out into the public domain. It serves no purpose other than to damage Bush and drive his relationship with Maliki into the ground.

Birthday In Absentia

Is there anyone left on the planet who thinks Fidel Castro will rise again to be the leader he once was?

Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro said on Tuesday that he was not well enough to attend the opening of several days of events celebrating his 80th birthday.

“I’m not in medical condition to be there,” Castro said in a statement read by a presenter to thousands of supporters from dozens of countries at the start of a gala in Havana’s Karl Marx theater that was to mark the opening of the celebrations.

The Castro Era is over.