I don’t expect a lot in the way of intelligent analysis from the mainstream media.  But the response to the leaked Hadley memo has so far missed the memo’s significance to an extent I thought possible only for certain species of fungi, and David Brooks.

The memo was leaked to the New York Times.  Here is their front-page take on it :

Bush Adviser’s Memo Cites Doubts About Iraqi Leader

Published: November 29, 2006

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 — A classified memorandum by President Bush’s national security adviser expressed serious doubts about whether Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki had the capacity to control the sectarian violence in Iraq and recommended that the United States take new steps to strengthen the Iraqi leader’s position.

— snip —

With astonishing thick-headedness, the article portrays the memo as a personality profile of Prime Minister Maliki:

The memo presents an unvarnished portrait of Mr. Maliki and notes that he relies for some of his political support on leaders of more extreme Shiite groups. The five-page document, classified secret, is based in part on a one-on-one meeting between Mr. Hadley and Mr. Maliki on Oct. 30.

— snip —

The general cast of the Times story is that the memo expresses administration worries about Maliki; he is either ignorant of the real situation in Iraq, or else he’s incompetent.

But the Times goes on to say that despite the memo, Administration officials still think Maliki is pretty neat fella.

Despite the memo’s suggestion that the prime minister may be ignorant of what is going on, or misrepresenting his intentions, the officials insisted the president has concluded Mr. Maliki’s intentions are good. “The judgment is that it’s a capability issue,” one official said.

I don’t know much about Mr. Gordon.  I find it hard to believe that he is so stupid as to interpret the memo this way.  So the Times story as told must be spoon-fed spin, as a condition for allowing the Times to have the memo in the first place, or something.  

I can only guess that some administration official was so astonishingly dense that he thought leaking this memo would “put pressure” on Maliki, as a prelude to his meeting with Bush.  If so, the leak represents a miscalculation of the memo’s real significance.

The MSM is following the Times cast: portraying the memo as an expression of doubt in Maliki’s ability to govern Iraq.  Again, this analysis of the actual memo is so inept that it vexes the reader.

The Times was nice enough to publish the full memo, so we can read it for ourselves.  It, and the fact that it was leaked, spells the end of the Iraqi government, but not for reasons anything like the MSM is reporting.

NYTimes full text of Hadley memo.

Some highlights (please try to imagine how an Iraqi will read this, and what it says to an Iraqi about Maliki):

Do we and Prime Minister Maliki share the same vision for Iraq?

— snip —

Despite Maliki’s reassuring words, repeated reports from our commanders on the ground contributed to our concerns about Maliki’s government.

— snip —

While there does seem to be an aggressive push to consolidate Shia power and influence [i.e. Sadr], it is less clear whether Maliki is a witting participant.

— snip —

[Things Maliki should do]

  • Bring his political strategy with Moktada al-Sadr to closure and bring to justice any JAM [Sadr’s militia] actors that do not eschew violence
  • Shake up his cabinet by appointing nonsectarian, capable technocrats in key service (and security) ministries
  • Demand that all government workers (in ministries, the Council of Representatives and his own offices) publicly renounce all violence for the pursuit of political goals as a condition for keeping their positions
  • Declare the immediate suspension of suspect Iraqi police units and a robust program of embedding coalition forces into MOI [Ministry of the Interior] [also Sadr] units while the MOI is revetted and retrained

And so on . . . the memo screams: Maliki is a puppet and U.S. is instructing him what to do.

More to the point: notice how the memo is about Maliki, not “the democratically elected Iraqi governemnt”.  The memo screams: “Sure, Iraqi government blah, blah.  All that matters is Maliki, and that he stays in line.”

Any Iraqi seeing this will instantly recognize that the entire Iraqi government is a deliberate sham on the part of the Americans.  And the fact that the Americans leaked it shows all the more contempt for the Iraqi people.

The MSM is calling the memo a critical appraisal of Prime Minister Maliki.  It is not.  It is a declaration of American control over the Iraqi “democracy.”

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