Bloggers scramble to figure out who leaked the "Maliki memo" to the New York Times. They also scrutinize the pope's reception in Turkey and (mostly) cheer the alleged iPod deal to feature the entire Beatles catalog.
Tweaky Maliki:After completing a trip to Baghdad earlier this month, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley drafted a classified memo—which has since been leaked to and reproduced by the New YorkTimes—about the reliability and competence of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. President Bush was supposed to meet with Maliki this evening as part of his two-day summit, but that appointment has since been canceled.
Sociology professor JonathanCutler * wonders how the memo got to the Times and out of what precision-timed propaganda motive: "Was this memo 'leaked' against the wishes of the administration? Or was it released? It makes a difference. As an accurate indicator of administration views, I would give far more weight to a leaked memo than one 'approved' for public consumption as part of an initiative of some kind–especially on the eve of Bush's meeting with Prime Minister Maliki."
Conservative Rick Moran at Red State thinks it was in the administration's interest to willingly hand Hadley's tough criticism over to the Times: "The audience targeted with this leak is extremely small. In fact, it is an audience of one - the Iraqi Prime Minister. … [T]he timing of this leak will not be lost on the PM nor will the words of Hadley, who makes up for a lack of elegance in language with a series of triphammer verbal blows that questions Maliki's fitness for the job."
At Three Wise Men, Texas Democrat Xanthippas doesn't expect some of the more delicate diplomatic maneuvers suggested in the memo to actually happen: "Saudi Arabia would actually like to see some 'U.S. action' in Iraq as well, but … they might be willing to help us with our problem in Iraq if we're willing to step up to the plate on the Palestinian issue. … In fact, Iraq could be the answer to all the other problems of the Middle East...if you ignore the fact that it's disintigration into civil war would eclipse by far any progress we could make."
Read more about the Maliki memo.
Ankara Benediction: Pope Benedict is in Turkey this week, trying to appease Muslims after his controversial Regensburg speech in September. The most surprising development thus far has been his call for Turkish membership in the European Union. The gesture of cross-religious goodwill doesn't sit well with some in cyberspace.
At 26th Parallel, South Floridian-Cuban Robert is waiting for the next anti-Vatican convulsion in the Middle East: "Will the majority of non-violent and non-extremist Muslims get Benedict's message of peace and reconciliation and try to spread it across their own communities, or will the extremists win out as has always been the case? The onus is on the 'moderate Muslims' to put pressure on the radical factions of their faith."
Conservative Jim Geraghty at the National Review's TKS blogis visiting Ankara and asks how a papal visit to a Muslim country differs from a trip to a Christian nation: "The answer is that, at least at the intersection near Çankaya Palace, there was little interest in the Pope; his primary role in the lives of the locals is likely to be that of a traffic disruptor. Only a handful of other people were standing in the cold, waiting to catch a glimpse; nothing like the throngs of well-wishers of every faith that seems to be standard-issue in most Christian countries. The small army of police easily outnumbered the onlookers."
The Rev. Wallace G. Smith at Thoughts En Route comments on news that Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has said that Pope Benedict has, contrary to his earlier position on the matter, given his "blessing" for Turkey's inclusion in the European Union. First, writes Smith, Turkey "would have to offer a great deal more freedom of religion than it currently does and become literally a model of reciprocity in the Muslim world, allowing Catholics (and Orthodox adherents, as well) the complete freedom to worship that Muslims currently enjoy in 'Christian' nations. That is, the hurdles Turkey must jump to enter the EU would require just the sort of culture change that Benedict wants in Turkey."
Read more about Benedict's Turkey visit.
Think come together: According to Fortune magazine, Apple and the Beatles may be making nice after years of legal skirmishes and allowing the band's entire catalog to go on sale at iTunes. About time, say most bloggers.
Louis Ramirez at gadget-obessed Gizmodo prefers his "Beatles on vinyl, but in the long run this will only spread their tunes to a new generation of listeners. Sorry Zune fans, looks like the Fab Four have already found a new home."
And Costa Tsiokos of multipurpose blog Population Statistic predicts: "Even with a time limit to the exclusivity, this amounts to a killer app for iTunes and iPod. But I have a sinking feeling that, even if this comes off, part of the conditions will be to sell Beatles songs in the dreaded 'album only' blocs … . So even if you want to pay only 99 cents just for 'Taxman', you'll have to pony up $9.99 (or more?) for the entire… 'Revolver' album."
Read more about the iPod-Beatles synergy.