I take my hat off to Tom Barnett today - in one paragraph he says everything that needs saying about Cheney's sabre-rattling speech onboard an aircraft carrier in the Gulf:
There is an obviousness to Cheney. He says what doesn't need to be said and never broaches what must inevitably be explored. What passes for sophistication with these guys is just painful to watch. Cheney's outlived his era.And yet it is inevitable that the cheerleading 28-percenters will laud "straight-talking" Dick for bringing Iran to the negotiating table:
The United States and Iran will meet in Baghdad in the next few weeks to discuss Tehran taking a "productive role" in Iraq's security, the White House said on Sunday.Just as they did with Cheney's visit to Pakistan - where he was given credit for forcing Musharaff to capture a Taliban bigwig who had been captured weeks before he arrived and was released almost as soon as he left - somehow Cheney will be given credit, by virtue of his pure and pitbull presence, for this move which has been something the Iraqis have been trying to make happen for months and for which Cheney has been one of the major stumbling blocks.
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Chester Crocker will represent the United States, which has accused Iran of backing Shi'ite militia in Iraq and seeking an atomic bomb. Tehran denies both charges.
Iran, which has not had diplomatic relations with the United States in more than 25 years, first announced the talks on Sunday and White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe confirmed the development from Air Force One en route to Virginia with President George W. Bush.
"You could expect a meeting in the next few weeks with Ambassador Crocker and Iranians," Johndroe said. "The purpose is to try to make sure that the Iranians play a productive role in Iraq."
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari welcomed the talks by saying, "This is a positive sign ... The U.S. is a major player and so is Iran, and there will be a room for some substantial discussions for the stability of Iraq."
He'll probably also be credited with God-like powers of creation by mere presence for the news that the Iraqi PM has agreed to a larger role for Sunnis.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki agreed to give Sunnis a bigger role in security operations in their areas, lawmakers said Sunday, in a deal that staves off a threatened Sunni walkout that could have toppled the Shiite leader's embattled government.The truth, though, is that Maliki had no choice and that this has been brewing for months. It was either this or see an immediate cross-sectarian revolt that would have overturned his majority and deposed his government by peaceful and political means. That could still happen if he quibbles even a little bit - and he probably will.
The deal reached with Iraq's Sunni vice president could help assuage long-standing Sunni complaints that Shiite-dominated security forces unfairly target Sunni areas but avoid cracking down on Shiite militias linked to influential politicians.
...The lawmakers said the deal was reached in talks last week between al-Maliki and Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who had threatened to withdraw his bloc from the government if Sunni demands were not met. His bloc controls 44 of the 275 parliament seats.
Under the terms, al-Hashemi will have an ``executive role'' in the fight against insurgents in Sunni areas inside and outside the capital of Baghdad, the lawmakers said. Al-Maliki remains the armed forces' commander in chief, they said.
Bush and Cheney should take the hint - strong benchmarks and timetables with definite and strong consequences for failure are the only thing that gets Maliki up of his ass when it's something he really doesn't want to do. To him, a Cheney whose bark is worse than any bite the administration is willing to impose is just an annoying barking mutt.
(Oh...and don't look now, Dick, but you're being followed.)
Update Oh look, whaddaya know!
The vice president has emphasized a hard line on Iran over the past week in stops in moderate Arab nations and talks to U.S. troops in Iraq and on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.I've a new theory about straight-talking Dick. He flies around the world to places where he knows something is about to happen, that others have been working on for ages, and shows up just as it comes to fruition with the deliberate aim of stealing their thunder and the hope that thus no-one will notice he's a lame duck of even bigger proportions than Dubya.
He has urged Arab countries to do more to help stabilize the Iraqi government and hinted that Washington would work to keep Iran from dominating the region.
Rice is leading a countervailing effort to reach out to Iran despite serious doubts whether there is anyone willing to reach back.
...It is the first time Tehran has gone for the offer. But spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride noted that the idea of such talks had been floated before, in what the State Department is calling the "Baghdad channel."
...Interestingly, on Sunday, it was Cheney's staff _ not the White House or State Department _ that offered the first official confirmation of the upcoming talks.
That appeared to reassure some top Republicans.
"Well, the vice president indicated as long as the discussions are about the Iraq security issue, the administration was comfortable with it. I don't see anything wrong with that. I think the Iranians are part of the problem in Iraq. To the extent that they want to discuss discontinuing that kind of mischievous behavior, I think that would be helpful," Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate's GOP leader, said on "Late Edition" on CNN.