"Gates huddled in the former Al Faw Palace at Camp Victory for nearly three hours Friday morning with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, the top Middle East commander, Adm. William Fallon, and Gen. David Petraeus and Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the No. 1 and 2 commanders in Iraq.
The session centered on operations in Iraq, as well as the progress of the ongoing military buildup, and it came as Gates ratcheted up the pressure on the Iraqi political leaders.
"The clock is ticking," Gates told reporters Thursday. "I know it's difficult, and clearly the attack on the council of representatives has made people nervous, but I think that it's very important that they bend every effort to getting this legislation done as quickly as possible."
A suicide bomber infiltrated the parliament building in the heavily fortified Green Zone a week ago, dealing a blow to the U.S.-led effort to pacify the capital's streets.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called the violence in Baghdad an "open battle."" Yahoo
You have to ask yourself what a meeting like that must be. "Well, how are things going?" (Gates) "Bad day yesterday..." (Petraeus) [Pause - silence] "How are things going for you Admiral?" (Gates) [Pause - Silence] "How about you, Ray?" (Gates to Odierno) "Mmmm, Ahh, Mmmm" (Odierno) ""Hey how about Maliki? What is he up to these days? Does he have many Sunni friends yet?" (Gates)
There has been a continuing thread in the egregious incomprehension that has governed US policy in Iraq. That has been the notion that a lack of communications is at the root of the hostility among the three major "nations" of Iraq. An insistence on belief in the unitary nature of Iraqi society persists and this results in endless efforts to have these groups and their sub-components "play nice in the schoolyard." In fact, the issues among these communities are quite real, are substantial and a reflection of millennia of competition for power and wealth. Good luck!
A retired ambassador with a lot of ME experience commented here a few days ago that Iraq's population was largely unified in spirit before the '03 intervention. That is partially true, but only partially. The country was on its way to establishing a "national" identity. The performance of Shia officers and soldiers in the Iran-Iraq War showed that, but coalition invasion and occupation halted that process and reversed it. pl