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Moving in the Right Direction

Moving in the Right Direction


A very encouraging opinion piece from The Washington Post’s eminent commentator on all things Near Eastern, David Ignatius, about the Vice President’s recent trip to Iraq…


According to Ignatius, the purpose of Biden’s trip was twofold. First of all, he was there to assure his Iraqi counterparts that America has a long term commitment, and that the drawdown of military forces should not be considered a disengagement. Secondly, he wanted to make clear that the US would not interfere in the formation of government, and that the leadership that emerges from this most recent political crisis should avoid foreign intrusion in domestic politics, in a thinly veiled slight to Iraq’s neighbor to the East.


Ignatius notes that according to his sources, Biden came away from his July 4th weekend in Baghdad hopeful that the approaching constitutional deadline for naming a new speaker of parliament would yank things in the right direction. As the Vice President stated, “My gut is that they are basically saying the same thing,” he said. “Sometimes it takes a third party … to be able to bridge a gap. … There’s not a week goes by I’m not talking to one of them or all of them.”

Thankfully for all parties involved, holdover Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s heels may be wearing thin from all the political drag he’s created. His incumbency provides a broad target for the growing criticism of the government’s inability to provide basic services and security. This may force his hand to work with his his rival Allawi.


So kudos to Joe for picking his spots and spending the time needed to get the ball rolling, again. The three days he spent in Baghdad marks the longest consecutive time spent in the country by any US president or Vice President since the start of the war. Well the timing couldn’t be better because Iraq’s government has been stuck in quite the political deadlock and Biden may be the only one in the Obama administration with the know-how and the good nature to get things moving. Ultimately, as Politico Mike Allen notes, “Biden’s job in Iraq is part marriage counselor, to squabbling politicians, and part timekeeper to make sure the US combat mission wraps up as planned at the end of August.”  Sounds like he’s doing his job.


On September 1, the US mission will get a new name: “Operation Iraqi Freedom” will be reconstituted as “Operation New Dawn” as America’s involvement trends further away from combat duties. Let’s hope Biden’s trip marks the first crack of daybreak.





Reid Smith

Reid Smith has worked as a research associate specializing on U.S. policy in the Middle East and as a political speechwriter. He is currently a doctoral student and graduate associate with the University of Delaware's Department of Political Science and International Relations. He blogs and writes for The American Spectator.