This morning NPR interviewed David Satterfield, a senior advisor at the State Department concerning the accomplishments (or lack thereof) of Nouri Al-Maliki's Iraqi government. In this interview, Satterfield claimed that Al-Maliki must understand the consequences of failure to move ahead on security, Oil, Sunni re-integration, etc. Unfortunately, Satterfield did not actually tell us what the supposed consequences would be!
It occurred to me that , for all the talk of consequences, no one is sharing what they would be. Here in the US, some of us might assume that the consequences will be withdrawal but I have never heard anyone official say that. If Americans are not being told in clear terms what will happen if the Iraqis fail politically, what are the Iraqis being told. Defense Secretary Robert Gates sometimes threatens the Iraqis that Congressional Democrats will pull funding but Al-Maliki is likely to look at Bush's veto and decide that that is an internal political issue that he will ultimately be insulating from. On top of that, any idiot can see that Bush's intention to do something means very little in the long run. So does Nouri Al-Maliki have any chance of understanding the "consequences" if we won't tell him what they are or, more worrying, we never really intended to exact any in the end after all.