As a US failure becomes more and more apparent in Iraq in the shape of chaos, confusion, and a growing mass of tens of thousands of dead civilians, expect to see more and more efforts from all sides in political America to pin the blame on the Iraqis themselves.For the Democrats
it will probably take the form of joint blame, administration policies coupled with a failure of the Iraqis to "step forward." Framing the failure this way, enables the Dems to point at the administration for the failure, but also offer some cover to those who supported the war in the party.
Also, and this is key, it allows the Dems to criticize the war and call for pull out while cutting a wide and careful path around the military, its decisions, and tactics, insulating them from charges of being anti-military or "soft" on the war on terror. (Take a look at the letter released today
as example.) It takes the debates away from policy issues on which their nuanced positions have traditionally lost. It's the Iraqis fault, after all.For the Republicans
it's a much more linear connection. It's the Iraqis who have failed, not the Republicans. However, this is a very fine political needle to thread for the Republicans as they want to pin the failure on Maliki's government, but also don't want to undermine support for the war or start a Republican withdrawal movement.
What this means is that the message must come out through back channels. Certainly, they can't afford to have that sort of talk come out of the administration, because it would undermine the "strategy" they are attempting in Iraq. At the same time, the message can't come from other Republican politicians because there is a chance that the issue could catch fire suddenly, leading to a Congressman riding the withdrawal argument to the national stage.
So, I would expect that we will start to see the Republican version of "it's the Iraqis fault" to start trickling out through the editorial, think tank, and talkshow circuits. They will try to get it out under the radar, so that when they need it to justify the inevitable, it's already present and available in the framing. Watch for more and more mentions of Maliki's mistakes to lay the groundwork.For the media
, "it's the Iraqis fault" frees them from the burden of having to blame the administration. Certainly, they want conflict, at least on the TV level, but they really prefer fiery conflict about nothing. (gay marriage, ten commandments, blue dress. ) They want their viewers passionately tuning in to watch the pundit arguments, but not so upset at the reality of Iraq that they tune out. Blaming the Iraqis might well offer the conscience salving debate "just how culpable are the Iraqis?"
That's how I see it at this point. It's going to be the Iraqis fault for not "standing up." We blew up their country, destroyed their infrastructure, disbanded their security forces, and enacted policies that exacerbated the long standing tensions. But, it's going to be their fault.Also
, having watched politics too long, once politicians start trying to apportion blame away from themselves, the policy has already passed the tipping point. It's a damned scandal that US soldiers will be dying while all this is going on. And they never should have been there in the first place.
It's all over but the killing. (Friedman attributed to Bob Shrum.)