From a July 13 White House press briefing by spokesman Tony Snow:
Q: Is the Iraqi government and the Iraqi parliament taking the month of August off?
MR. SNOW: Probably, yes. Just not —
Q: They’re taking the entire month of August off, before the September deadline?
MR. SNOW: It looks like they may, yes. Just like the U.S. Congress is.
Q: Have you tried to talk them out of that?
MR. SNOW: You know, it’s 130 degrees in Baghdad in August, I’ll pass on your recommendation.
Q: Well, Tony, Tony, I’m sorry, that’s — you know — I mean, there are a lot of things that happen by September and it’s 130 degrees for the U.S. military also on the ground —
MR. SNOW: You know, that’s a good point. And it’s 130 degrees for the Iraqi military. The Iraqis, you know, I’ll let them — my understanding is that at this juncture they’re going to take August off, but, you know, they may change their minds.
Q: But have you tried to convince them not to? Does the U.S. government pressure them not to, because then the September deadline —
MR. SNOW: Again, I’m not going to — you know, I’m just not — I’m not getting into the — the Iraqis understand the importance. It’s not a September deadline, it’s a September report. I think it’s very important, in an age where everybody wants to create a sense of, sort of, finishing up on a deadline — it’s a report, it is not a deadline. It is a report that will, in fact, measure progress —
Q: It’s a pretty important report —
MR. SNOW: It is a very — it’s a very important —
Q: (Inaudible.) I mean, a month they’re not working.
MR. SNOW: Sheryl, will you let me answer Martha’s questions first? And then Helen is next, and then I’ll call on you.
Now, where were we, because —
Q: We were a month off, we have —
MR. SNOW: Okay, so what you’re saying — yes —
Q: — 130 degrees for the Iraqi parliament, so they need a month off, even though it’s 130 degrees for U.S. soldiers.
MR. SNOW: Well, you know, you’re assuming that nothing is going on. As I said, there are any number of things going on in Iraq. Let’s see what the parliament does during the course of this month. Let’s also see what happens, because quite often when parliaments do not meet, there are also continuing meetings on the side. And there will be progress, I’m sure, on a number of fronts.
I’m just — I’m not in a position at this point to try to gainsay what the Iraqis are doing. We are working with them and trying to help them succeed. They have a vested interest also in doing this and doing it right, and what they’ve done is they’ve set a higher bar for their legislative accomplishments than we do because they’re trying to operate on a basis not of simple majority, but consensus. It’s probably a wise thing to do at the outset of a country that has been driven by strife for so many years. It is a tough business.
But I would suggest not merely looking at the legislative accomplishments, but also, again, taking a look overall at what’s going on in terms of creating a sense of national unity, dealing with problems of sectarian strife — that certainly were rife last year, but are far less prevalent today, at least according to the trajectory mentioned in the report — and, therefore, take a comprehensive and factual look at all the aspects of what’s going on in Iraq.
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