MR. RUSSERT: This is an article, Friday's paper: "[Iraqi] Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ... decided to launch the offensive without consulting his U.S. allies, according to administration officials. With little U.S. presence in the south, and British forces in Basra confined to an air base outside the city, one administration official said that, `we can't quite decipher' what is going on. It's a question, he said, of `who's got the best conspiracy' theory about why Maliki decided to act now." The United States was not informed by the Iraqis that we--he was going to do this?
GEN. HAYDEN: I, I don't know what on--what went on on the ground in Baghdad prior to the operation. I do know that this was a decision of the Iraqi government by the prime minister and personally by the prime minister, and that he's relying on Iraqi forces, by and large, to take this action.
MR. RUSSERT: Were you aware of it?
GEN. HAYDEN: I was--in terms of being prebriefed or, or having, you know, the, the normal planning process in which you build up to this days or weeks ahead of time, no. No, I was not.
MR. RUSSERT: You didn't know it was going to happen?
GEN. HAYDEN: No more so than Dave Petraeus or Ambassador Crocker did.
I've written previously on the need to support the Iraqi governments efforts to become the sovereign in their country by gaining a monopoly on violence in their country. I still support that and I think that so long as we have military assets there we should employ them to that end.
However I think we need to draw a clear that the sudden and unannounced efforts like what has occurred in Basra for the past two weeks are not acceptable. It is unacceptable because it was a fight that the Iraqi government should have known that they could not win without the assistance of American forces, including close air support and ground troops. Iraqi troops are yet to go into a fight that they haven't needed American support to function effectively.
We need to make it clear to the Iraqis that we are there to help but they cannot begin operations that are going to put American lives at risk without consulting us first. To do so is an abuse of our friendship and good will.
I'm not sure if the operation as a whole will have net benefit or a loss yet. There are several troubling signs such as a possible improved position for Iran as the peacemaker and the desertion of over 1000 Iraqi soldiers and police during the conflict. On the flip side The Weekly Standard points out several encouraging signs.
Regardless of all of this, American support is not a blank check. If Iraq wants our help they need to keep us in the loop.
One last important note. Everything I write here are my own opinions gathered from what I read in publicly available news articles. In no way are the opinions expressed official government positions.