Or so said our dear and humble President yesterday at the Grand Ole Opry.
Which is why, of course we've begun serious, high level negotiations with them
in Iraq. Because after all, sometimes your enemy can become your friend. And vice versa.
Indeed, it looks like we may very well be in the process of switching sides in the unannounced civil war between the Sunnis and Shi'ites:
Much more, after the fold, on Bush's "New" Strategy to Win the War in Iraq (the one he didn't speak about at his State of the Union address to Congress) . . .
US shifts Iraq loyalties
By Gareth Porter
WASHINGTON - Two major revelations this past week show how far the administration of US President George W Bush has already shifted its policy toward realignment with Sunni forces to balance the influence of pro-Iranian Shi'ites in Iraq.
US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad revealed in an interview with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius that he has put the future of military assistance to a Shi'ite-dominated government on the table in the high-stakes US effort to force Shi'ite party leaders to give up control over key security ministries.
Khalilzad told Ignatius that, unless the "security ministries" in the new Iraqi government were allocated to candidates who were "not regarded as sectarian", the United States would be forced to re-evaluate its assistance to the government.
"We are saying, if you choose the wrong candidates, that will affect US aid," Khalilzad said. [...]
Implied in Khalilzad's position is the threat to stop funding units that are identified as sectarian Shi'ite in their orientation. That could affect the bulk of the Iraqi army as well as the elite Shi'ite police commando units, which are highly regarded by the US military command.
Khalilzad's decision to make the US threat public was followed by the revelation by Newsweek in its February 6 issue that talks between the US and "high level" Sunni insurgent leaders have already begun at a US military base in Anbar province and in Jordan as well as Syria. Khalilzad told Newsweek: "Now we have won over the Sunni political leadership. The next step is to win over the insurgents."
As this sweeping definition of the US political objective indicates, these talks are no longer aimed at splitting off groups that are less committed to the aim of US withdrawal, as the Pentagon has favored since last summer. Instead, the Bush administration now appears to be prepared to make some kind of deal with all the major insurgent groups.
Didn't hear this the other night from Bush's lips, now did we? In fact, I've seen precious little coverage of this radically new policy at all, much less from major US media. It is, however, a fundamental change from previous statements (and actions) by this administration.
Previously, we have spent time, money and great effort to establish the new "democratically elected" regime in Baghdad, including the training and equipping of elite Iraqi police and commando units, comprised almost entirely from the majority Shi'ite population, which bear a remarkable similarity to CIA trained and supported death squads in Latin America during the Reagan years. Now we are demanding that "non-sectarian" elements (which I take to mean Sunnis) must be included in, and given command, of Iraq's security organs? This sure doesn't sound like the "stay the course" policy President Bush heralded on Tuesday night. What gives?
Thankfully, Mr. Gareth Porter, in his report in the Asia Times (quoting Newsweek as his source), provides the answer to that question:
The larger context of these discussions is a common interest in counterbalancing Iranian influence in Iraq. US officials are remaining silent on this aspect of the policy. According to Newsweek, however, a "senior Western diplomat" explains the talks by saying, "There is more concern [on both sides] about the domination by Iran of Iraq."
US concern about the pro-Iranian leanings of the militant Shi'ite parties that will dominate the next government has grown as the Bush administration presses a campaign to take Iran's nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council, with the military option "on the table". A Western diplomat told Associated Press that the United States needed to find "some other allies who will not turn against them if things heat up with Iran".
Even the possibility of a separate peace between the United States and the Sunni insurgency, which is inherent in these negotiations, signals to the Shi'ites that the US is no longer wedded to the option of supporting Shi'ite military and police.
Funny how everything comes back to Iran, lately. Maybe Iranians are the "enemies" our dear leader was really talking about yesterday. What do you wanna bet?
Redha Taki, an official at party headquarters of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which heads the ruling Shi'ite coalition, told the Christian Science Monitor's Charles Levinson that the United States is only part of a much bigger coalition of interests opposing Shi'ite political power in Iraq, which includes Britain, the Iraqi Sunnis and the Arab League.
The common denominator uniting all those actors, of course, is antagonism toward the Islamic revolutionary regime in Iran, with which the militant Shi'ite parties in Iraq are aligned.
Gives a whole new meaning to the term "Coalition of the Willing" now, doesn't it? So how far will Bush go down this new path to victory in Iraq?
Everyone is now waiting to see how far the Bush administration will carry its political realignment. These new moves suggest that the administration may have redefined its interests in Iraq to downgrade the importance of the fight against insurgency there in light of the larger conflict with Iran.
The logic of such a redefinition of interests would dictate a ceasefire with the Sunni insurgents. That would not only free the latter to fight al-Qaeda, but would alter the balance of power between militant Shi'ites and Sunnis in Iraq.
Going that far would conflict with White House assurances only a few weeks ago of US "victory" in the Iraq war. But word at the State Department last week was that Khalilzad, the mastermind of the new policy, has the president's ear. And the new policy may be just what Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other hardliners on Iran have been looking for.
Well, what's good for Cheney and Rumsfeld must also be good for the rest of us poor slobs in the good old United States of America. When have they ever steered us wrong before?
Front paged at Booman Tribune.