Nouri Al Maliki
Decision Points By George W. Bush (Crown, 497 pp., $35) The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment Edited by Julian E. Zelizer (Princeton University Press, 386 pp., $29.95) George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream: A Psychological Portrait By Dan P. McAdams (Oxford University Press, 274 pp., $29.95) It’s worth listening to the audiobook version of Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father, because not so long ago Obama had both the time and the inclination to spend many hours voicing the recording himself.
In the late summer of 2007, Baghdad was buzzing with talk of a coup. Iraq was gripped by horrific civil war, and the government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki seemed at best unable to do anything about it. (At worst he appeared guilty of contributing to sectarian violence himself.) In November, U.S. national security advisor Steve Hadley had returned from a visit with Maliki and reported grave doubts about the prime minister’s competence.
After Obama reversed himself on the release of detainee photos, Tom Ricks wrote that he'd been "rolled" by General Ray Odierno, who'd objected to their release. Now, McClatchy's Nancy Youssef is reporting that it was actually Nouri Al Maliki--who reportedly told American officials that "Baghdad will burn" if the photos were released--who prompted Obama's reversal. Youssef further reports that one of the American officials Maliki put "heavy pressure" on was Odierno. --Jason Zengerle
By November of last year, Pakistan, a nation hardly known for its stability, seemed primed to explode. After months of street protests against General Pervez Musharraf’s increasingly authoritarian rule, the Pakistani dictator had declared de facto martial law, allowing him to arrest thousands of political activists and sparking even greater unrest. Many young Pakistanis turned to extremist organizations, and suicide bombings spread from the Afghan border into once-serene cities like Islamabad and Lahore.