A positive aspect of Bernard Kouchner's background as a medical doctor is that he's not afraid of pronouncing a fatal diagnosis, even though he has barely left the patient's home. The patient in question, judged by Dr Kouchner to be in terminal decline, is Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Kouchner's words to Condoleezza Rice, repeated in Newsweek, are blunt: "He must be replaced."
As for George W Bush, he recently described Nouri al-Maliki as "a good man with a difficult job". Another man who does not dare to cast aspersions upon al-Maliki is Australia's Alexander Downer, minister of Foreign Affairs, who declared: "His leadership is a matter for the Iraqis. It is not a matter for us. I don’t think we should be—after they’ve had a free and fair, democratic election—be telling the Iraqis who they should appoint as their prime minister. I could get into comments about different prime ministers and presidents around the world, but if they are democratically elected, let’s just respect the process and deal with the people who are there." Downer talks of Iraq as if it were just another ordinary democratic nation.
Meanwhile, an influential Republican senator, John Warner, claims that Bush will in fact announce, in his scheduled September 15 declarations, an initial troop withdrawal, of the order of 5000 men.