It has been widely reported today that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said the following to Zalmay Khalilzad, American Ambassador to Iraq:
"I consider myself a friend of the U.S., but I'm not America's man in Iraq"
(See references here and a follow-up on Bush's call here).
Now, the news is reporting this as some huge coup d'etat that Iraq's government is turning against us. Personally, I think that conclusion is a load of hooey. For the good of Iraq and the United States: We WANT the Iraqi PM to be his own Man!!!
The western world has a LONG history of colonialism and puppet governments in the Middle East. Generally, the US was innocent on this account, but Britain and France had huge colonial interests in the region after World War I. If you have seen movies like Lawrence of Arabia, you'll notice that western policies in the Middle East (and Iraq was included there) were not exactly fair or respectful of the local people. And, the popular disenfranchisement caused by poor colonial policies is one of the main reasons Saddam rose to power.
So, if we are to be successful in Iraq, we need them to take their own banner and run with it. As long as Iraq keeps working together with us, I'm glad that the Prime Minister is declaring his independence. It will increase his credibility among his own people and make him a more effective leader.
I don't want "America's Man in Iraq." I want a successful and truly independent state of Iraq. So, Mr. Al-Maliki, if you are willing to work with us as you represent your people in Iraq, BE YOUR OWN MAN.
Prime Minister Al-Maliki: Don't be America's man, be Iraq's man.
That is all.