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Today's Big Story

Memo Leak Strands Summit

Bush meeting with Iraqi PM in doubt after critical leaked memo ends up in NY Times.

By Richard Warnica 29 Nov 2006 | TheTyee.ca

Richard Warnica is a senior editor at The Tyee.

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This is why your mom told you to never make fun behind someone’s back. Because they’re going to hear about it. Someone’s going to say something. And then what happens?  They get mad. And then you get mad at them for getting mad at you. And that makes them even madder. And the next thing you know, the first day of your two-day summit with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Jordanian King Abdullah II gets abruptly cancelled. And nobody wants that.

Yesterday The New York Times broke news of a confidential White House memo that cast serious doubts on the ability of al-Maliki’s government to curb sectarian violence in Iraq. The leak came at a particularly bad moment, as US president George Bush was actually en route to meet Maliki in Jordan at the time.  

Today the first half of that meeting was cancelled, as was a planned three-way conference with the mini-summit’s host, King Abdullah II. 

A Bush spokesman told the Times, however, that Bush and al-Maliki still planned to have breakfast together Thursday morning and, that barring future unpleasantness, Bush would still be invited to al-Maliki’s sweet 16 next April. 

The leak also comes amidst continuing uncertainty over US policy in Iraq. Polls show that the majority of Americans believe the new Democrat dominated Congress has a mandate for change in the country. And a large majority were happy with the sacking of key war monger Donald Rumsfeld. Former House Speaker (and long, long, long shot 2008 presidential hopeful) Newt Gingrich went so far as to say the Republicans would have held at least one house if Rumsfeld had been fired earlier.

But what that change is going to be is anyone’s guess. In a wholly scientific exercise in Internet research, I threw the words ‘Iraq’ and ‘more troops’ into Google. The result: more than 5,500 news stories. ‘Iraq’ and ‘withdrawal’ was even more impressive, it garnered more than 15,000 stories.

The story also comes as Canada’s most famous supporter of the Iraq war tries to close out his sweep of the federal Liberal Party.  Michael Ignatieff and other Liberal hopefuls are gathered this week in Montreal to drink, rub shoulders and pick a new leader. (You can follow the convention on www.electioncentral.ca as The Tyee’s Laura Drake blogs live all week from the floor.)

But lost in the nation debate that has consumed that contest has been the issue of how much Ignatieff’s public support for the war will erode the party’s crumbling left bank. Seventy nine per cent of Canadians think Canada was right to stay out of the war according to a recent poll. And I’m guessing not many of those 20 per cent are left leaning Liberals.

But the question now is, will it be an issue in Montreal. Bookmark the blog to find out.  [Tyee]

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