August 20th, 2007
03:42 PM ET
3 years ago

Levin wants Iraqis to oust current government

Levin recently visited Iraq.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is calling for a new government in Iraq, saying his trip there last week convinced him that Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki is too sectarian and cannot create a stable Iraq.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, was blunt in a Monday conference call with reporters. “I hope the Iraqi Assembly, when it reconvenes in two weeks will vote the Maliki government out of office,” he said.

Levin credited American troops with a visible decrease in violence in Iraq. But the Armed Services chairman insisted military force alone cannot stabilize the country. Levin said Iraq could erupt into more internal bloodshed, with its army dividing against itself, unless leaders in Baghdad reach tough political compromise. And he insisted Maliki can’t do that.

“The Maliki government is non-functional,” the Michigan Democrat said, “and cannot produce a political settlement because it is too beholden to religious and sectarian leaders.”

Levin visited Iraq with the ranking Republican on the committee, Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia. The two men issued a more nuanced joint statement together, saying that current Iraqi leaders may be facing their “last chance” and that if they fail the government and people need to judge “what actions should be taken…to form a true unity government.”

In contrast, Levin’s comments were among the most directly critical of the Maliki government from Washington leaders. The Iraqi prime minister, a Shia leader, is struggling for support as Sunnis and others have walked out of his coalition in past months.

President Bush has sidestepped direct criticism of Maliki, but recently his tone has been less confident. Last November, Mr. Bush declared Maliki, “the right guy for Iraq.” Two months ago, when asked if he still felt that way, the president instead responded, “I believe that he understands that there needs to be serious reconciliation and they need to get the law passed.”

Congress and the White House are preparing for a fiery Iraq debate in September as progress reports are finalized.

– CNN Radio's Lisa Goddard


Filed under: Carl Levin • Iraq
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Maris - Grosse Point, MI

    When did Carl Levin become a general ? I dont go to his office and try to tell him how to spend our tax money. He should let those with military credentials finish the job.

    August 20, 2007 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  2. HomeoftheBrave

    Funny, that’s exactly what I was thinking about the current US Congress.., well, almost.

    Completely non-functional, unable to produce any political settlement because it is beholden to non-religious and secular leaders.

    Hopefully Carl, we too will vote a do nothing Congress out of office next year. You included..

    August 20, 2007 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Dubya was already warned that Nuri Al-Maliki wasn't the guy for the job ... about two years ago now.

    And guess what?

    Yep .. he ignored that piece of intel.

    SHOCKING eh?

    August 20, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  4. JKost, Ashburn, Virginia

    Even if Carl Levin is correct about the Maliki government, he needs to direct his comments privately to the President and/or the State Department. US Senators do not unilaterally make foreign policy and having one rogue senator running off his mouth is not helpful in building sensible relationships with other governments.

    August 20, 2007 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  5. spinstopper

    I wonder if Carl knows that it took 10 years for the original US colonies to just sign the Declaration of Independence?

    Why are you expecting so much more from the Iraq's?

    August 20, 2007 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  6. Luis Rodriguez

    Senator Levin was in country when he came to his conclusion. Since he is a politician, he would know best what is going on in Iraq.

    The military has nothing to do with his conclusion.

    August 20, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. erika morgan black dimond wa

    Always we miss-judge other cultures and back the wrong horse. When will we learn to stay out of the business of others, and concentrate on making America the best it can be.

    August 20, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  8. sonny c. v.p.,la.

    Maris: read this real slow. All the bombs in the world can't make the multi factions in Iraq decide how they want to treat each other. Now if you want another Sadaam to emerge & run the country like we want it run, sorta like Sadaam did before he refused to w/draw from Kuwait that's got a military component to it. But anyone who thinks a miltary action is the answer to international political problems must have gotten their way as children by throwing temper tantrums.I'll bet Dubya threw some doozies in his days.

    August 20, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  9. Dave, Des Moines, IA

    Of course Levin would say this, things are getting better in Iraq, according to the liberal think tank "The Brookings Institution". Democratic Congressman James Clyburn admitted openly that a win in Iraq would be a big problem for the Democrats. Levin's comments DO undermine the Al Maliki government, and Levin knows it. Levin wants to create more dissention and impede ANY chance of political progress because, according to Clyburn, a win in Iraq would split the Democratic party, conversely a loss in Iraq could be seen as a Democratic victory (see Clyburn's interview in the Washington Post). Levin intends to undermine progress in Iraq to further his own political agenda. Levin, you're a snake and you are jeopardizing people's lives. Thanks for investing in defeat. You've propagated a self-fulfilling prophecy leading to failure.

    August 20, 2007 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  10. Ryan, Grand Rapids, MI

    In response to Maris, in Grosse Point: Levin criticism is in response to the Al-Maliki government. Your statement "he should let those with military credentials finish the job" has nothing to do with the article. What he is suggesting is a different political strategy. Levin is not alone in voicing his discontent with the current political climate in Iraq, and you will have a hard time finding any general since the beginning of the war, that feels our problems in Iraq, can be handled solely military, and need no political solutions.

    As for the two-time Arm service comity chairman (who has served on that comity for nearly all of his 28 years in senate), credentials on this matter; I ask you, who do suggest speak up on these issues? You State “Since when has Carl Levin become a General.” Since when do we have our generals advise foreign leaders on how to run their governments? The military is A-political, and while they are fighting for stability on the ground, it is essential, that the Iraq government do it job, to insure a political stability in the country. You don’t have to be a general to know that!

    August 20, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  11. Tallahassee

    Levin should become an Iraqi citizen and lead the revolt. I am not very happy with Levin anyway, insisting that Michigan move its primary up to January 15, its ridiculous.

    August 20, 2007 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  12. Jayson, Beale AFB, CA

    Maris he is only stating the obvious. The Iraqi government currently have quite a large number of empty cabinet positions (I want to say 20/40 are empty but don't qoute me).

    More likely the military would be for 3 autonomous regions but so far the majority of the Iraqi people aren't for that idea because they are all paranoid. The Sunnis and Kurds are paranoid they will get screwed out of oil revenues. The Shi'ites are paranoid that they will get screwed.

    In all likelihood we should be controlling the borders and letting the Iraqis hash this out for themselves. It took us two tries to establish a government that worked and it didn't happen overnight. It also took a civil war to solve the slavery question later. So only an idiot would think it would be so easy to pull off in in a region devoid of any true democracies.

    Unfortunately as long as everyone continues to be paranoid and doesn't try working together it will not get much better.

    August 20, 2007 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  13. Myron, Honolulu, HI

    Finally, Bush and Levin agree on something. :) Continued US support in Iraq depends upon the sucess of the current Government–REMEMBER THE BENCHMARKS!

    Don't you Remeber the Bush plan from Jan 2007? Benchmarks vs. Time Table

    Either way we need to do the Right thing in Iraq for the Iraqi people. :)

    August 20, 2007 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  14. lynn

    Interesting that the US wants to spread freedom and democracy, unless of course the elected governemnt doesn't do as they are told in the time frame wanted or elect people they don't like( like hamas in Palestibne and Hezbollah in Lebanon)...the old adage: be careful what you wish for!!

    August 20, 2007 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  15. Evan Esteves

    Homeofthebrave...when you vote this congress out of office...what party are you going to put in power? The republicans????? Hahaha yeah that would be a great improvement...(rolls eyes)

    August 20, 2007 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  16. Bob, San Francisco, CA

    HomeoftheBrave-

    The wonderful do-nothing congress that you wax on about includes Republicans.
    You do realize that, don't you?
    "beholden to non-religious and secular leaders"...what are you talking about? We wouldn't waste so much time with idiotic issues such as gay bashing and teaching completely fabricated mythologies as science if it weren't for the Republicans pandering to the Religious Right.
    Tell me what Carl Levin has done so wrong to deserve your disapproval? Or, are you just a partisan drone who hates Democrats no matter what.

    Maris from Grosse Point-
    Seasoned politicians who've served for years regarding foreign affairs have a little more credibility with foreign politics than the military. Besides, even most military leaders are saying that the solution needs better politics in Iraq.
    Go watch Dr. Strangelove. There's a good idea of the military running things. Or maybe you want a country where leaders wear uniforms?

    August 20, 2007 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  17. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    I am just SHOCKED that CNN decided to focus on this one part of the conference call.

    A VERY brief mention of the fact that the Senator, who has been a very strong critic of the war, thinks that progress is being made as a direct result of the troop surge.

    Regardless of how media outlets like CNN try to slant the story, people are beginning to take notice of the fact that the surge is working.

    You certainly wouldn't know it by listening to the "sky is falling crowd" that includes Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. However, when the NY Times and Carl Levin start agreeing that the surge is working, it is hard for either side to deny it any longer.

    August 20, 2007 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  18. Cary, Lowell, IN.

    erica thinks we should make America "the best it can be"– I AGREE !!

    But, staying out of other countries would be irresponsible. For example, should we just "stay out" of Darfur and ignore the genocide?

    August 20, 2007 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  19. David Swenk, Santa Maria, CA

    So when did Congress strart making foreign policy decisions? These Democrats will stop at nothing to embolden our enemies and pit our soldiers more at risk. They just cant shut up and their hatred of Bush is greater than their common sense.

    August 20, 2007 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  20. anna, Appleton, WI

    Sometimes I go to the comment section only to read stupid, ridiculous comments BUT it's truly gratifying to read all "these" comments that make sense! I applaued all of you !!
    Now, if we'd only get the politicians to clean up their acts!

    August 20, 2007 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  21. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    spinstopper ... "why are you expecting so much more from the Iraqis?

    REALLY stupid question there .. but with an equally easy answer!

    Because somebody's sons and fathers are doing all the fighting and dying over there with a monetary cost to ALL of us of 10 BILLION DOLLARS A MONTH. And all this for Iraqi's who don't take the freedom of their OWN country seriously enough to show up for training more than once every 5 days? All this for tribes in a govt that spend more time squabbling over whether someone is a Sunni, Shiite or Kurd, and then quitting – when they're not discussing vacation plans – than formulating workable political solutions that will get our troops home.

    And this is due to people like YOU who keep saying "it'll be worse if we leave", "it'll become a breeding ground for terrorists", and "we have to get them THERE or they'll come HERE" ... and all sorts of other things that destroy any leverage we have in making them do their own dirty work to stop their own civil war in their own country.

    Keep telling them we cant afford to leave and that we'll just stay there forever and continue doing most of the work for them and keep wondering why they fall woefully short of any meaningful progress benchmarks. Why should they make any progress when you're telling them we can't (and wont) leave which only keeps them reliant on us and the incredibly expensive training wheels we keep providing?

    Why not keep our coalition of "Where is the rest of the willing?" there to support the Iraqi "We need a vacation cuz it's too hot" tribal govt?

    You got nothing to lose but money.

    I mean ...after all, it's not YOU who is doing either the fighting or the dying for any of this right?

    Four years, 500 billion dollars and over 3600 dead AMERICAN troops is enough. Either they get their act together NOW or we're GONE – and that is exactly what we should be telling them.

    Their incredibly long grace period is over!

    August 20, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  22. Evan Esteves, Boca Raton, FL

    Homeofthebrave,

    You say you are going to vote out this US congress...what are you going to replace it with? Another republican congress? Please Homeofthebrave, I beg you! Don't torture the American people like that...

    August 20, 2007 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  23. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    How about the Iraqis following us home and ousting _our_ government in exchange for our pulling out of their civil war? Seems like an even deal.

    August 20, 2007 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  24. dotmafia

    I find it quite ironic that American senators are now so easily pushing for the removal of a foreign leader they helped install in a country they helped to ruin, and at the same time they don't have the guts to take a stand against their own leaders in Washington. Ohhh the hypocrisy of all things American!

    August 21, 2007 02:55 am at 2:55 am |
  25. Detroit

    Levin, hmmm, dysfunctional??

    Try General Dynamics Growler program for some clarity on how Levin handles government.

    August 21, 2007 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
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