Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Florida on the Tigris

Pajamas Media has a roundup of the controversy surrounding the fairness of the Iraqi elections here and here. It also features updates from correspondents at Iraq the Model. The situation is potentially serious. Freedom Fighter's Journal has a roundup of possible scenarios. Austin Bay, a veteran of Iraq and no Left-wing mouthpiece says "I expected sturm und drang and accusations after the election, and what else is new? Check out Omar at Iraq the Model for the push and pull. Omar reports that initial leaks weren’t quite accurate. The big story: Everyone has whetted expectations." Essentially, the Sunnis are claiming that the Shi'ite parties have exaggerated their already large numerical superiority by cooking the counting. Iraq the Model cites some instances. The Independent has gone so far as to conclude that "Iraq is disintegrating". The bottom line is that the situation requires very careful watching.

Commentary

This was one of the first elections of its type in that part of the world, and it's likely, in my opinion, that there were problems in the voting and the counting. The US will be probably be relied upon by all parties, to keep the level of cheating down to where results are acceptable. That probably means that the vote count itself will only be one source of input in a hybrid system that will eventually be (in my view) be a negotiated electoral result. The balance will be correct when nobody rushes out to restart hostilities. That means it's acceptable.

There are two possible problems attendant to this process. The first is the immediate challenge of addressing electoral irregularities in such a way that everybody, if not happy, is not terribly unhappy. The second arises from the longer term reality that, while the US might square the problem this time, it cannot do so indefinitely within the concept of Iraq as a sovereign nation. That probably requires sailing close to the wind: enough intervention to keep things from going haywire, but not so much as to foster dependency. Yet it's important to realize that to this point, the dissatisfaction has been expressed in words, and not as in days past, with TNT and packed ball-bearings. The media focus right now is on the NSA wiretaps and Tookie William's funeral, which is all very Washington and Hollywood. But the really important thing is to focus on finishing the Iraqi electoral process which began with the voting, but must now continue through tabulation and on to the formation of a new national government.

85 Comments:

Blogger Karridine said...

Good news from Iraq!

Yes, Wretchard, accept that they've taken a great step forward, but also understand that a great many Iraqis were thinking along the lines of, "I vote, and WE will accept MY candidate!"

The reality is quite different for a great many Iraqis, and living with that "MY candidate got stomped!" feeling takes getting used to, especially in a fledgling democracy:
"This election does NOT solve all our problems, there is STILL a lot of work for US, to DO, NOW!"

12/21/2005 05:35:00 AM  
Blogger Jeffrey said...

Let's take a look at the numbers, people.

Here are the results from the October 15 referendum vote and the December 15 parliamentary vote results from one mixed governate, DIYALA.

October 15 results:

YES -- 51% -- 244,537
NO -- 48% -- 232,443

December 15 results for Diyala:

618 -- 36% -- 182,223 (Alliance Front)
555 -- 22% -- 110,285 (UIA)
730 -- 13% -- 66,508 (Kurdistani)
731 -- 10% -- 52,624 (National Iraqi)
667 -- 10% -- 50,971 (Iraqi Front)

While on October 15 the YES vote had a slight majority, on December 15 the vote was divided among FIVE different lists, with the Sunni Iraqi 618 list getting 36% to the Shia Iraqi list 555 getting 22%.

This looks like GOOD representative democracy to me!

*

12/21/2005 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...

I listened to Stephen Hadley (President Bush's National Security Adviser) discuss Iraq strategy at CSIS yesterday. During the Q&A, he was asked about the election results.

He didn't say much except to note four things:

1. Yes, he had seen the preliminary results.

2. Turnout was above 65 percent.

3. Sunni Arabs voted in very large numbers.

4. No one should be surprised if results adhere to ethnic/sectarian divisions within the country. Iraqi democracy is, after all, in its infancy.

Hadley later said that the main "trick" will be to bring about amendments to Iraq's constitution that address Sunni concerns without raising Sunni expectations.

We could already be dealing with a case of severely dashed Sunni expectations regarding election results.

I've heard from more than one informed source that the Sunni Arab community tends to views its numerical size as much larger than it is in reality--a situation aggravated by the fact that Iraq hasn't conducted a census in many years.

12/21/2005 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger kstagger said...

good info ffe

ah, Civil War is 'just around the corner' (again). Seriously, this is a young democracy - hopefully they can handle being on the losing side better than the fringe-left here did in '00 and '04.

The naysayers will bray, and hope for Iraq to fall apart - all to save some face with their own previous dire predictions.

The one thing the entire Iraq conflict should teach is patience - Don't expect immediate results, let us learn from our mistakes, don't make assumptions about the people of Iraq, don't always assume the worst situation, and never underestimate the power of freedom.

12/21/2005 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger Westhawk said...

We believe that this is a serious situation and could greatly complicate matters for the U.S.

If the Shi'ite religious list (UIA) actually did rig the election, the U.S. "squaring the problem," as Wretchard puts it, would mean taking sides in an internal Iraqi political dispute. The UIA are in the dominant position and will not give it up. "Squaring the problem" Wretchard's way would require the U.S. to back the Sunnis and secular Shi'ites against the UIA. This will reinforce Iran's influence in Iraq and probably won't help with the Al Qaeda sanctuary problem.

The UIA has the population, the militias, and the electoral "facts" on its side right now. And it still holds the Iranian trump card in its hand. No matter what pressure the U.S. brings to bear, the UIA won't see much need to compromise. If true, this will lead the Sunnis to conclude that peaceful politics is a dead-end for them.

We commented yesterday on these developments at our blog:

One more mission, men. A distasteful one.

In the end though, the U.S. interest will be to back Iraq's new bullies, the UIA, even if they did steal the election. That is the distasteful part.

Westhawk

12/21/2005 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Given the conditions under which the Iraq election was held there is a very low confidence level amongst many that the published results reflect a fair counting of the actual vote. This is a major problem in that not only are the Iraqis new to democracy and the idea that the ballot box is the path to power a new one it is is further undermined by the possibility, nay the conviction of many, that the results are rigged. There is more to democracy then just voting.

12/21/2005 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

Maybe the Democrats can send in some lawyers to prolong the vote-counting for a few weeks and get the votes of servicemen thrown out. Then they can show the losers how to whine for the next eight years!

12/21/2005 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Asia Times has the Iranian take on the election.

http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/GL20Ak01.html

12/21/2005 08:14:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Grey said...

The US presence means the hostilities will NOT restart on a major level. How much will the US support Sunnis against majoritarian Shia?

And how much unfair/ fraud was there? 1%? 5? 0.1? Unless those calling for new elections have numbers of irregularities, it will be tough to support calling for a new election -- or any significant change to whatever is the "official" result.

Better & more transparent ballot counting should have been insisted upon -- possibly with a couple of US servicement in every counting booth after the voting is finished.

The US is the umpire. At least the Iraqis are playing this game.

12/21/2005 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

My intuition is that this is going to end badly because of two factors that can't be wished away:

(1) Iraqis have no democratic tradition and thus no accumulated respect for the sanctity of honest elections. An honest election is such a delicate thing, requiring voluntary restraint on the part of a very large percentage of the officials involved so as to avoid fraud.

(2) Three quite different and hostile groups are crammed into one country - Kurd, Sunni, Shiite - competing for power.

Either one of these two issues would be a problem, but put together I think they are probably insurmountable.

I see civil war on the horizon, and an ignominious retreat by the US. (I don't wish for that because I've supported our efforts there from the beginning, but it's what I think is going to happen. If civil war does occur though, I'd still support our overthrow of Saddam.)

12/21/2005 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Fred K said...

I ask this question half seriously and half sarcastically:

"Where was Jimmy Carter when this election took place?"

Ex-President Carter is usually counted on to "monitor" elections. I find his absense rather telling. When he does observe elections he rarely seems to find even the most tainted process problematic.

My Blog:
Political Fred

12/21/2005 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

mark
that is blather

"no accumulated respect for the sanctity of honest elections. An honest election is such a delicate thing, requiring voluntary restraint... "

The US Presidential Election of 1960 was awash with fraud, in both IL & TX. Mr Nixon, to his credit, did not make an issue of it.

In FL in 2000 the losing candidate and his backers held the results in limbo for quite a while as I recall. Claims of fraud and miscounted votes ran rampent. There was no "accumulated respect" in either of these cases, just a desire to win by any means required.

Why should it be different in Iraq?

The US does not hold the Electoral high ground, thanks in part to Mr Gore and his minions in the wake of 2000.
Mr Carter and his work in Venezuela also comes to mind as a corrupt election sanctified by US, even though the results were badly skewed from reality.

12/21/2005 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...

Mark,

Civil war is definitely possible. However, it is not inevitable. Much depends on how the Bush Administration executes U.S. policy going forward.

For what it's worth, here's my take:

In brokering the three-way competition for power among the Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis, Washington has two overwhelming advantages: guns and gold.

In theory, we can easily tilt the playing field for or against any faction that threatens to "blow up" the situation."

If the Shiites, for example, get too heavy-handed, then no reconstruction funds for them. And as far as the guns go, everybody in Iraq by now knows what a smart bomb is and what an M1 tank can do.

A few posts back, Wretchard compared the U.S position in Iraq to Great Britain's 19th Century position as keeper of the international balance of power.

That's a sensible comparison in my mind. The only question is whether the Bush Administration will use our inherent advantages to maximum effect over the short-term.

Stay tuned.

12/21/2005 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Only in the last few weeks have we taken the Western Euphrates River Valley. Western Anbar has but recently gone to 'non kinetic' operations.
All made possible by the ISF, the Iraqi Army.

The Iraqi Army is what holds the key to Iraq, where they side in the coming dispute is ALL important. If the Army holds as an inteegral unit, not splitting on Religious or Tribal lines, all will be okay in Iraq.

If the Arny fractures, all bets are off. Fallback to Kurdistan.

12/21/2005 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

You know what I think the major malfunction here was letting the UN rig up this BS representative assembly based on lists of parties and number of votes across the nation and not direct representation via individual candidates for each PM seat.

This should have been direct representation for each of the provinces with individual candidates, not lists. I am also surprised that the new Iraq constitution did not go for that and totally change the parliament designation. Of course, then again, I'm not since this sort of system doesn favor the Shia and will always favor the Shia, particularly the religious parties.

I am really beginning to wonder if that wasn't the deal all along?

Like we told them that we would insure a government system where they were guaranteed leadership if they forgive us for throwing them to the wolves post GW1 and don't mess with us when we get in there, all in the belief that the biggest threat was Saddam's WMD pile?

12/21/2005 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

The Florida Flap was a pre-planned effort by the Gore group to steal the election. Its key element was a Florida arm of the Democratic Party that was willing to lie, and had in fact been convicted in court of doing so.
In Iraq the Sunnis who are raising the ruckus have no hope of stealing the election. Instead they remind me of Col Kaddfi, who after turning over his WMDs following Operation Iraqi Freedom, essentially said "We are going to be nice now, but if our concerns are not addressed we are going to have to return to suicide bombing as a method."
Of course, his "concerns" had not been addressed, nor would they be. Nor had Libya ever ever even used suicide bombers. He turned over the WMDs because, as he said to the leader of Italy "I have seen what the Americans can do to me and I will do anything they ask."
Kaddfi turned over his WMDs because he knew he was as good as beaten. That which he said after that was merely trying to save face.
The Sunnis went to the polls because they knew the insurgency had been beaten - and either they could vote safely or could not expect to gain ground through violence, depending on the virulence of their beliefs.
The "Palm Beach County" approach they are trying now is, like Kaddfi's pronouncements, merely face-saving noise.

12/21/2005 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Enter the UN to ‘f’ everything up good and irrevocably. At lease I am sure they will be inveigled into the process sooner or later with comic results. But the US mitigating wide spread fraud? The same US that had it’s recent election decided by the Supreme Court? You suppose that the Democrats will ever be happy with the electoral results as long as the Sunni’s don’t control a disproportionate amount of power? One wonders if they do not empathize with the Bathists’s politically if not in the abstract.

12/21/2005 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger cjr said...

I think we need a little more clarity on secterian strategies in Iraq.
-----------
I dont think the Suni's want to precipitate a civil war. Civil war, if they win, would lead to partitioning of the country. And partitioning of the country is not in their interest. Strategically, the Sunni's goals are: 1-To get back in control of all of Iraq. 2-Get a big share of the oil money. Partition doesnt achieve either of their goals. It doesnt get them #1 for obvious reasons, and it doesnt get them #2 because there is little oil in the Sunni areas.

Therefore, civil war is not in their interests. What the Sunnis can use to achieve their strategic goals is not civil war but civil disorder. "If we can't control all of Iraq and if we can't get a big share of oil revenue, then nobody will...". This strategy is basically extortion. From the Shitte/Kurdish point of view, the Sunnis do have to power to make good on their threat. The only question is to what extent they can make good on their threat.

So, strategically speaking, it is in the interests of the Sunnis to keep the country together, and it is in the interest of the Shiites and Kurds to give in to extortion.
And that will be the political settlement.

The only unanwered question today is the exact amount of the extortion payment. The amount of payment will be function of how much civil disorder the Sunni's are capable of inflicting. That is the "negotiation" that is going on right now......

12/21/2005 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Heck boys, don’t fret, if the UIA aligns itself with Iran, all we have to due is rearm those goddamn Sunni’s and march ‘em straight to Tehran.

Apologies to General George Patton.

12/21/2005 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

1) American youth have no democratic tradition. Confidence in the electoral process has been completely undermined in the last 5 years.
2) Quite different and hostile groups are crammed into our country. Liberals, conservatives, Hispanic, Black, religious right and Jews.

Either one of these two issues would be a problem, but put together I think they are probably insurmountable.

I see civil war on the horizon, and an ignominious retreat by the Right. (I don't wish for that because I've supported our efforts there from the beginning, but it's what I think is going to happen. If civil war does occur though, I'd still do not support our overthrow of Bush.)

12/21/2005 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Robert Schwartz said...

I love it. Why should Iraqis on the losing side be happier than Randy Rhodes or Keith Olberman?

12/21/2005 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Jeffrey said...
"Let's take a look at the numbers, people. . . .
This looks like GOOD representative democracy to me!"

Jeffrey, were the 1992 Yugoslavian elections a "GOOD" exercise in representative democracy? Interesting in that they too had a breakdown along religious and ethnic parties, especially in the Bosnian "province".

12/21/2005 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Really, what is all this fuss about, why be concerned? Didn't Wretchard declare victory, yet again, on Dec. 8th? "Victory when it came, was both greater and less; more partial and more complete than expected." Perhaps, lacking firm criteria, the analysis will once more slide towards that "more partial . . than expected" part of the equation.

This is a lasting problem of the "consequentalist ethics" espoused by this blog in defending the propoagation of this war. With the WMD cassus belli taken off the table to justify our presence in Iraq, we must secure the secondary and tertiary results in order to declare victory, let alone believe it. What is interesting is that Wretchard skirts around Bush's own utopian goals for closure: peace, stability, prosperity and an end to terrorism.

The last is the most ridiculous for democracy has nothing to do with terrorism as evidenced by terrorism in the democratic nation of India or our own KKK and Timothy McVeigh. The remaining goals are both elastic and slippery and are sharply constrained by time frame. Let us say we secure Iraq enough to completely withdraw in 2007 and in 2008 the country splits apart in civil war, will this misadventure still be seen as a limited victory? This is the slippery slope we slide down when we exclude intentions and motivations and are left defending nought but consequences.

A further difficulty lies in deterimining the content and subject appropriate for real-time analysis. Wretchard left this clever little barb for those of us concerned with the rise of pro-Iranian Shiite fundamentalism:

"wretchard said...
It's been argued for example, that the US has succeeded in creating an Iraqi state, only the wrong one: a Shi'ite dominated state or one that will ask America to leave or one that will ask America to stay despite the 'anger' of the Muslim street. Whatever." (12/13)

Ah, yes, "Whatever". Victory before the votes were even known. Today, if we are to follow the links Wretchard provided via Pajamas media we find the following by "Iraq Rising":

"Sadr followers win majority in new Iraqi parliament. . . .Iraq Rising.. More like Iraq dying..
Blogg closed."

(http://iraqrising.blogspot.com/2005/12/sadr-followers-win-majority-in-new.html)

To which, I'm sure, Wrecthard can now retort: "Whatever".

12/21/2005 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

In the end the victory is Gods glory… and we will have moved on by and by, in order to move on, we’d like to see a stable Iraq.

What nattering gibberish is "consequentalist ethics" anyhow? The casus belli discussed in this forum has been wide and varied but has long stood on 12 years of violations of peace terms. Your stuck on stupid WMD argument is better pedaled to the pedantic class of the Kos Kids.

Regardless of the twists and turns in this right and just conflict, plans must meet the challenges as they exist, therefore secondary and tertiary plans must be evolved.

You tar brush India’s democracy, why because they have 15% Muslim population? Oh yeah, let us not forget the individual, Timothy McVeigh while we weigh the future of US foreign policy. What are you an ‘f’-ing dolt?

Why should US citizens give a rats a** about whether Sadr is democratically elected in Iraq? A** holes like you are upset with the legal electoral votes in your own country. Our country is no more stable for the likes of you… whatever.

12/21/2005 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Annoy Mouse said...

"You tar brush India’s democracy, why because they have 15% Muslim population? Oh yeah, let us not forget the individual, Timothy McVeigh while we weigh the future of US foreign policy. What are you an ‘f’-ing dolt?"

India is a superb example of why democracy is no antidote to terrorism -- which is an observation of form and function not a pejorative on its content. If you wish to contest this, please so so and explain why there is no terrorism in India owing to its democracy. If India is too foreign and exotic and example, perhaps you might be familiar with Timothy McViegh and his actions in 1995. Did democracy impede his act of mass terror? If this question troubles you, as it certainly seems to, then you should ask if promoting democracy (for nations it might not fit) will really be a gloabl solution for terrorism. That is a foreign policy question.

annoy mouse shows shares his cordiality thusly:

"Why should US citizens give a rats a** about whether Sadr is democratically elected in Iraq? A** holes like you are upset with the legal electoral votes in your own country. Our country is no more stable for the likes of you… whatever. "

Mr. Mouse why did 140+ American soldiers die in fighting the Islamofascism of Sadr in the uprisings of Fall '03 and Spring '04? Just so their families could watch him assume a large portion of power democratically, while you so cavalierly dismiss their sacrifice? You should be deeply ashamed. If you wish to argue that this is wise, let alone victorious, please do so. I'd love to hear it.

am opines:
"Regardless of the twists and turns in this right and just conflict, plans must meet the challenges as they exist, therefore secondary and tertiary plans must be evolved."

That, my dear irate rodent, is coming perilously close to the "consequentialist ethics" you so decry. For these are not just secondary and tertiary plans, but secondary and tertiary GOALS, after the primary one is now deemed irrelevant for our continuing presence.

Compliments of the season to you,
RC

12/21/2005 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Democracy, in the context of this discussion, is being endorsed as a solution to Iraqi independence, that is independence from the United States of America. Our vested interest in such is the cessation of hostilities, to the extent that the US can substantially withdraw their presence. You first establish in your mind that the issue was solely based on WMD, then raise the bar to the level where the US’s nation building must leave a democratically elected parliament that reflects our Democratic values. Saddam was the issue but you refuse to accept it. The consequences were what to do with the pieces in the aftermath. Well, that seems to be sorting itself out as a matter of history. Historically concurring armies created a vassal state in the detritus of defeat, are you saying leaving nations like Germany, Japan, Afghanistan, and Iraq a tenuous, but functioning democracy is a bad thing? Do you think we invaded Iraq to make it a democracy? I think not, we invaded Iraq so that other democracies could remain free. Simple fact, France and Russia told Saddam that the US did not have the resolve. They were half right. You represent that other half.

The fact remains that no democratic nation has ever attacked one of its’ neighbors.

What Timothy McVeigh has to do with our presence in Iraq, and our stance on democracy I don’t know. Is it that you say that democracies make bad neighbors, that any tin horn dictator is as good as any democratically elected prime minister? Timothy McVeigh didn’t invade Kuwait. India is a democratic and peaceful nation. Perhaps if they were less peaceful and set to cut out the cancer of Islam from their midst it would be free of terrorism.

And please spare me the cordiality nonsense, you bluster into this forum with uncensored contempt for the host and feign injury upon retort.

12/21/2005 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

reocon, as bad as Timothy McVeigh's single act of terrorism was, it was just that, a single act for which he was convicted and punished. It was not condoned or assisted or financed by our democracy. Contrast that state of affairs with pre-war, undemocratic Iraq in which a ruthless tyrant actively supported and himself engaged in multiple acts of terror.

You do see a difference I hope.

The claim is not that democratic countries entirely eliminate the occasional impulse towards terrorism, only that they tend to vitiate and discourage them; Saddam's record merely buttresses the opposing claim and is in itself sufficient argument for his removal.

12/21/2005 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

I am not concerned about the contested election results which reflect the American attitude of "How did he win? I don't anyone who voted for him." Also, I am certain that Jesse Jackson will soon announce his visit to Iraq where he will undoutedly bring about a peaceful resolution. Lastly, it would not surprise me for Dhimmi Carter and W.J. Clinton to offer their services as well.

12/21/2005 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

“The left believes the government should do whatever it takes to fight terrorists – but only when the terrorists look like Timothy McVeigh. If you're on the MCI Friends and Family plan of Osama bin Laden and Abu Zubaydah, you're home free.”
Michelle Malkin

12/21/2005 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Desert Rat-Good observation on election fraud in America.John Fund wrote a book on it.While Gore's attempt to steal the 2000 election was the most blatent,the accusations of Democratic fraud are widely prevalent in among other places St. Louis,Wisconsin,etc.
I guess a party that openly roots for our defeat in Iraq wouldn't have any qualms about ballot box stuffing.Maybe their fears about election fraud in Iraq are really projection.That's what they would do if it was a US election.
Reo-Con:Is that a shortening of reactionary conservative of the Buchanan school? Or maybe you're just running a con.Consequential ethics aside(whatever that means) Wars and elections are messy affairs.They require adjusting on the fly,again and again.The whole Iraq campaign has been an attempt to step into the septic sewer that is the middle east and lance the boil.Already there has been positive spinoffs in the region.Is the jury out on the future of Iraq?Sure it could fail and set the world on fire .But then what was the gain from doing nothing in the face of madmen who want to destroy the west and all we hold dear.
I for one am nearly physically ill from listening to cynical jackasses like you and craven opportunists try to make hay from the noble sacrifice our nation is engaged in.

12/21/2005 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Wretchard:
Your Iraq the Model link needs fixing.
---
Hope you and others here take on his prediction that we will soon be asked to leave.
Kinda Scary.
News from Mohammed

Actually the UIA themselves weren’t even dreaming about 50% of the seats:
What happened is that secular elements whether Sunni or She’at were marginalized and expelled (al-Mutlac from the Accord Front and Chalabi, Ali al-Dabbagh and Ibrahim Bahril Iloom from the UIA).
Marginalizing those men was the beginning of the coup that began from within the parties themselves.
Actually the UIA themselves weren’t even dreaming about 50% of the seats:

12/21/2005 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

reocon,

It's not whatever. A lot of the coverage of the electoral results has been highlighted through the efforts of people I work with because it's important to get at the truth. Empowering reporting through the blogosphere doesn't mean necessarily getting news that you like, but it does get you something in addition to the MSM. One of things about newsgathering from the blogosphere is that you don't necessarily endorse a view. That doesn't mean I don't trust Omar; just an observation that the system as a whole operates on collateral confirmation. I would be in big trouble if I just read myself.

One should recall that Islamic parties have won elections in places like Algeria, where their victory was famously nullified because it was regarded as illegitimate. Like a Nazi party winning in Europe. Big Pharoah interviewed at Michael Totten forsees the day when Islamists might win Egyptian elections. And once upon a time Islamism was popular in Iran. And Evo Morales was elected President of Bolivia. The trick is to ensure they can be voted out again when they lose popularity.

There's a huge damper in Iraq in the shape of US military forces. I don't think civil war is a given or even probable in Iraq, given the damper of US military presence. While I'm no Middle East expert, Iraq is not notably more fragmented then Lebanon, which is not hopeless for democracy. But the Iraqi Shi'a are the majority and that has certain unavoidable consequences. That means a ragged kind of politics, but not in my view, major war. This will test US skill in a way military operations haven't. The US Army and Marines have no peer at blowing things up. And the problem, as I hope is clear now, was never that the US would lose militarily. I'm glad that issue has died or is finally dying and the focus is shifting to whether it can win the peace. I don't know what will happen. Let's wait and see.

12/21/2005 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Doug,

My guess is that if there is one thing that will actually break up Iraq it will be a demand for US forces to leave. Neither the Kurds nor the Sunnis would get a night's sleep in that scenario. None of the "deals", like a Tigris for Baghdad swap would survive an hour after US tanks left. And I'm not sure the Shi'a would want it either because it will mean they'd have to fight the Sunnis without US help.

My guess is that having gone so far to get elected, the parties will attempt to preserve that government at all costs or they will nullify themselves. The questions I think are important to ask is: Khalilzid, can he hack it? Does the US have an agile and informed policy apparatus to capable of steering this one through? But notice we're no longer talking about Humvee armor, at least not for the moment.

12/21/2005 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

The President should have made clear a year or two ago that our job was completed once elections had been held and the new legislature convened in Iraq. It would have been about as perfect a moment to "declare victory and leave" as we could hope for.

I understand the desire to see it through, to not allow our noble experiment in seeding a new democracy to collapse. Unfortunately the nature of these Middle Eastern societies is such that hot tempers and vendettas and illiteracy and tribalism and Islam and oil revenues and ingrained tolerance for corruption will make it impossible to have a democracy of any sort that we'd care to be associated with. I don't like that the world is that way, but it is. I feel bad for people like the brothers that run the Iraq the Model blog because I think they are doomed to disappointment.

The only really workable long-term solution has ever been to isolate muslims in the middle east and let them work it out. Just like isolating Iran allowed most of its people to get sick of the fundamentalists while improving their opinion of us. We just are not equipped to change the muslim world and I don't think we ever will be. The best we can do is isolate them like people with a communicable disease and let them cook in their own juices until they work it out.

Instead, what I think we'll see is an ongoing muddle over the next couple of years of violence and compromises and broken promises and continued US deaths that, now that the elections are over with, will have no clear rationale. At some point, the President (whoever he is at the time) will have to pull us out of there and it will have been a lot of money and lives down the toilet.

And then maybe we can move to an isolate-the-muslims strategy, which is the only one with a chance of working. That is if we haven't had to let several million unassimilable Iraqis move here to escape whatever tyrant (probably another Khomeni) has taken over Iraq.

12/21/2005 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Read Michael Yon's latest post: Civil War wouldn't be the end of the world, MIGHT be relatively bomb-free, and could result in 2-3 much more vitalized nations, (each more in tune with itself and ready to respect the now greatly-reduced numbers of minorities within each such nation.)

The (parenthetical) is MY derivation; I don't want to impute it to Yon's good take on the situation.

12/21/2005 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Annoy Mouse said...
"Democracy, in the context of this discussion, is being endorsed as a solution to Iraqi independence, that is independence from the United States of America."

If you have listened to our President's speeches for the past two years you would learn that democracy is also being advanced as a solution to terrorism. It is not.

"You first establish in your mind that the issue was solely based on WMD, then raise the bar to the level where the US’s nation building must leave a democratically elected parliament that reflects our Democratic values."

I stated that our involvement in Iraq now revolves around secondary and tertiary goals, which denotes more than a single or sole reason. Please read the post again if you have difficulty with reading comprehension.

"Saddam was the issue but you refuse to accept it."

I accept it but he is no longer in power yet we are still there.

"The consequences were what to do with the pieces in the aftermath. Well, that seems to be sorting itself out as a matter of history. "

As a matter of history you say? I reject the liberal idea that history has a particular telos and all other matters of historicism. Do you, Mr. Mouse really believe that all states have an eschaton?

"Historically concurring armies created a vassal state in the detritus of defeat, are you saying leaving nations like Germany, Japan, Afghanistan, and Iraq a tenuous, but functioning democracy is a bad thing?"

Germany and Japan are homegenous countries with viable political cultures before their defeats. Afghanistan is not a functioning democracy and never will be. To leave Iraq a functioning democracy would be as lovely as a chocolate sunday that never melts in the heat of Summer. To leave a dysfunctional and partitioned state would portend more terrorism and instability through out the Middle East.


"Do you think we invaded Iraq to make it a democracy? "

Yes, in part. If you disagree I suggest you pay attention to the Neoconservative school of thought post 1996. Or simply pick up the administration sanctioned "Plan of Attack" by Bob Woodward.

"The fact remains that no democratic nation has ever attacked one of its’ neighbors."

Ah, yes, the myth of democratic peace as brought to us by Immanuel Kant. Let us look at democracies in:
Ancient Athens; modern day Ethiopia and Eritrea; The Suez Crisis in which democratic England, France, and Israel attacked Egypt; the whole history of late-era British neo-colonialsim; the battles between the elected regimes of India and Pakistan in 1999; or the small wars of Peru and Ecuador in 1980's. Better yet let us examine the United States intervention, more than 40 of them, throughout Latin America in the 20th century. Perhaps using Airforce bombers in Guatemala to overthrow Jacobo Arbenz can be considered an attack? A good place to debunk such callow notions on your part might be the work of Dr. Sebastian Rosato of the University of Chicago.

"What Timothy McVeigh has to do with our presence in Iraq, and our stance on democracy I don’t know."

Again, there seems to be some problem with basic reading comprehension on your part. McVeigh has nothing to do with Iraq and everything to do with the fact that democracies DO NOT PREVENT TERRORISM. The cost is simply to low and true democratic regimes to not have the surveillance apparatus to prevent terrorism. If you really want a model that prevents private terrorism, try state terrorism.

"Is it that you say that democracies make bad neighbors, that any tin horn dictator is as good as any democratically elected prime minister?"

Failed democracies and incomplete democratic transitions make for bad neighbors. In this, please see the work of the political scientists Edward Mansfield and Jack Snyder. As for dictators and prime ministers I reserve judgement, as only appropriate considering the careers of Milosevic and Arafat.

"Timothy McVeigh didn’t invade Kuwait."

You're right. I believe he was stationed in Western Iraq.

"India is a democratic and peaceful nation. Perhaps if they were less peaceful and set to cut out the cancer of Islam from their midst it would be free of terrorism."

India is democratic, but not peaceful. It has tremendous ethnic and religious divides and resultant terrorism. You seem to acknowledge that with your latter sentence, which, I must mention, bolsters my point.

"And please spare me the cordiality nonsense, you bluster into this forum with uncensored contempt for the host and feign injury upon retort. "

And your censored comments reveal a mind as course at it is superficial. I accept your apology.

12/21/2005 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

trangbang68 said...

"I for one am nearly physically ill from listening to cynical jackasses like you and craven opportunists try to make hay from the noble sacrifice our nation is engaged in."

Have heart, dear Sir, for if you are ill from simply listening to my arguments then you really don't have the stomach for this war. As to noble sacrifices, I quite agree. Perhaps then, you can answer this for me: how can we redeem the deaths of the 140+ American soldiers who gave their lives to fight the Islamofascist Moqtada al-Sadr? Don't you think we should arrest and imprison him (as the military said it would do) instead of watching his minions and party win elected office in Iraq?

We nutured the democratization of Japan by striking unsuitable candidates from their elections list, and did so for quite a few years. Why not now?

12/21/2005 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

"This is a lasting problem ... With the WMD cassus belli taken off the table to justify our presence in Iraq, we must secure the secondary and tertiary results in order to declare victory, ..."

The WMD in Iraq have NOT been taken off the table, altho they were never the PRIME cassus belli (see breaking news Dec 22 re:WMD cache uncovered)

Further, ReoCon, by securing secondary AIMS (even as primary RESULTS) we are victorious, and more so every day.

To illustrate: the Iraqi people have courageously voted THREE times, and have grown their own police and army to better protect themselves and are demonstrating, in ever larger numbers, that they're learning the lesson that 'working WITH Americans is better than fighting AGAINST them'...

And to this bears witness not only the many peaceful Shiite cities now nearly thug-free, but Sunni informants turning out the thugs in their midst, tired of death and disfigurement and hatred...

We ARE winning, Sir, and as Betty Dawisha said sternly, while brandishing her purple finger, "Thank you America, thank you, Bush! Anyone who does not see the goodness here, let them go to hell!"

12/21/2005 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

"Do you, Mr. Mouse really believe that all states have an eschaton?"

Does Mouse believe all states have an "end of the world"?

I might have been awed by your use of big, Greek words, but when you use them wrongly, Sir, its just... odd.

It might move our dialogue forward if you use more commonly accepted terms here, to pur forward your arguments and views, Sir.

12/21/2005 05:26:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/21/2005 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Soldier's Dad said...

Mark,

"The only really workable long-term solution has ever been to isolate muslims in the middle east and let them work it out."

The only problem with that scenario is that it is physically impossible to isolate muslims in the Middle East.

Anyone that believes an "isolated" nation/region is incapable of producing a 10 or 20 kiloton nuclear device and finding a way to detonate it anywhere in the world needs to step away from the crack pipe.

Iran and North Korea are the threats they are precisely because they are isolated.

12/21/2005 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

"That last question is what needs to be applied to Iraq, and will in turn, determine 'victory'."

"I have given power to the people." quote, The Glory of God, Baha'u'llah.

I assert, Sir, that victory is MUCH MORE than being a 'viable democracy', as the Lord of Hosts set out many other criteria for victory: acceptance of the oneness of humanity; the essential equality of men and women; the independent investigation of truth (cf., this blog)...

America was also singled out by Him as an example of righteousness and a laudable spirit of courage in defending the little ones (Kuwait) and uplifting the downtrodden (Iraq, Afghanistan).

12/21/2005 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Wretchard said. . .
"One should recall that Islamic parties have won elections in places like Algeria, where their victory was famously nullified because it was regarded as illegitimate."

Nullifed by a military dictatorship which resulted in a long and bloody civil war. Eventually the dictatorship was able to crush the insurgency, to widespread Western applause.

"There's a huge damper in Iraq in the shape of US military forces. I don't think civil war is a given or even probable in Iraq, given the damper of US military presence."

Yes, we shall see quite shortly as to how these Islamic parties interact with the US military. My primary concern is that they have hollowed out and captured whole ministries and para-military forces.

"While I'm no Middle East expert, Iraq is not notably more fragmented then Lebanon, which is not hopeless for democracy."

Imagine Lebanon with Hezbollah running 2/3rds of the country instead of just their southern province. That is my fear for Shi'a Theocracy in Iraq.

"But the Iraqi Shi'a are the majority and that has certain unavoidable consequences."

This realization irks me, for it was what I asserted before the war, and was reassured by more liberal interlocutors with arguments by Lewis, Ajami and Makiya, that no, not to worry, there was a large, SECULAR, middle class, that would assume power by dint of its popular weight. The elections of January and this month have punctured that illusion.


"The US Army and Marines have no peer at blowing things up. And the problem, as I hope is clear now, was never that the US would lose militarily. I'm glad that issue has died or is finally dying and the focus is shifting to whether it can win the peace."

I find it agonizing to draw this old nag out of her stall, but we never lost a major military engagement in Indochina either. The question was whether South Vietnam was a viable democracy, or even a nation. That last question is what needs to be applied to Iraq, and will in turn, determine "victory".

12/21/2005 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Today it's more than "Seek the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

We're entering into an age of fact-checking and FAST communication of facts and opinion.

Historical revisionism is being tried, but for the most part it is being countered by those courageous enough and informed enough to call it out as it happens.

"Each person must, to the best of his or her ability, independently investigate the truth..."

It spells the end of priesthoods and clergy, but it invokes a rational, responsible dialogue not dependent on others.

12/21/2005 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Uh, we're suddenly missing the excellent post between 5:33 and 6:07.

Hmmm...

12/21/2005 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Carridine said...
"That last question is what needs to be applied to Iraq, and will in turn, determine 'victory'."

"I have given power to the people." quote, The Glory of God, Baha'u'llah.

I've noted a rather ecumenical leaning in your writings . . . are you Sir, by chance, a Ba'hai?
Best,
RC

12/21/2005 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Carridine said...
"Do you, Mr. Mouse really believe that all states have an eschaton?"

Does Mouse believe all states have an "end of the world"?

I might have been awed by your use of big, Greek words, but when you use them wrongly, Sir, its just... odd."

The reference might be a bit obscure to the younger generation, so please accept my apologies. It comes from William F. Buckley and his sardonical cry to "immanetize the eschaton." "Eschaton" can convey not merely the end of the world (merely), but also an end state. Annoy Mouse seems to believe that states have some evolutionary point at which they stop, which is indicative of historicism. Marxism is an example of historicism, as is the neoconservative "end of ideology" which posits the ineluctable triumph of global liberal democracy.

I disagree and think such notions are symptoms of a liberal imperialism. It was President Bill Clinton who repeated the "Perpetual Peace" fallacy (see my rebuttal to Annoy Mouse) in his 1994 State of the Union speech. He then argued that support for democratization would be an antidote for international war and civil strife. From my study of history I disagree, and I challenge those alleged conservatives who believe in this doctrine to examine its liberal origins. Did they also endorse Clinton's efforts as the Neocons did in the 90s, or are they more recent, and fadish recruits?

12/21/2005 06:27:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Reo-con
I thought I was perfectly clear in defining who makes me sick.Its not the war although I mourn the casualties and fear it can be in vain .No its the fifth columnists and Quislings and souless chattering class and self impressed elitists who are filling the air with bile and lies and flatout treason and sedition.If we go down in flames it will be because they drove the bus off the cliff.

12/21/2005 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Reocon,

surely Buckley called on us to *not* immanentize the eschaton. In any case, it is Eric Voegelin, a more profound thinker, to whom goes the credit for the term's modern usage as a critique of utopian and apocalyptic thinking: link

Anyway, what really bothers me in what you write is your facile criticism of neoconservatism which seems to equate all neocons with end-of-history triumphalism. But the neoconservative belief in liberal market society and democracy as the most free and hence powerful social form, and hence inevitably (in time) the kind of society to which all peoples wishing to survive will want to adapt, need not be equated with any kind of end of history thinking.

Quite the opposite, a liberal market society is anything but stable; it generates fierce resentments that the system must mediate and creatively recycle in order to survive. THus liberal market society must be dynamic and full of history, in an open-ended, non-utopian, sense. To argue that we have merely reached the point in time when no serious ideological alternatives to the free market system exist - since it is now clear that egalitarian socialism is a myth, i.e. that it cannot and never did exist - is true enough, at least if we have any regard for human life. The Islamists with their vision of a medieval Caliphate arguably constitute a realisitic ideological alternative to free market society, but it is one that would have to see the death of several billions of people first, since Islamism could not provide for anything near the present population of the planet. In this sense, it is a most dangerous heresy, not a serious ideological alternative for humanity. Since we must have both free economic and political markets, and we can be sure of ongoing tension between the two, history just gets going with the world historical victory of liberal market society.

12/21/2005 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Sure a lot of words and hot air with temper tantums here.

Only once did anyone come close to mentioning the real problem.

Which is: Islam is the most evil cult ever on the face of this earth and it is not compatiable with anything or anyone else.

So, Islam must be destroyed.

There can be no cult allowed to survive, that believes it is the only way for everyone, and is determined to make it so by force or by subversion.

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

12/21/2005 10:57:00 PM  
Blogger cjr said...

Early results of Iraq election has been released! :

http://ieciraq.org/English/Frameset_english.htm

Click on "Uncertified partial results Dec20"

There is a chart on turnout for each province and voting result for each province. Overall turnout was 70%

12/22/2005 12:15:00 AM  
Blogger cjr said...

See pages 7-12 of this report from Anthony Cordesman(Center for Strategic and International Studies) for a preliminary evaluation of the election results:

http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/051221_iraqelection.pdf

12/22/2005 12:22:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Reocon, I see your thrust: There IS no "now WE're perfect!" Agree, and now that I realize your intent, I can see some serious mind-glitches that flow from such a mindset.

Conversely, I see around us people and institutions who assert that we're in a 'new day', but are unwilling to let this day be the New Day spoken of by Jesus of Nazareth, for THAT would mean that the One Like Unto the Son of Man has already come!

In mindless panic, they shout "This is the Day of Jesus!" as if there were lasers, jets and the Internet in Jesus' day.

Truthfully speaking, the world of humankind which stretches back in time for 7,000 years was, for all but the last 161 years of that time, a world governed by priests and the kingly caste; a world of non-reading land-workers; a world where the fastest that good news or war could travel was the speed of horse...

And it is clear that the world ended some time ago, whether one accepts May 23, 1844 or not, it is clear that kings and popes NO LONGER have the terrible, fierce power they used to wield, ReoCon...

But the clergies of our world have SO MUCH invested in making the people think that 'going to church' or 'worshipping at mosque' is the right thing to still be doing in this day...

So the Christian clergy wilfully (if ignorantly) voice St Peter's 'damnable heresy', and 'scoff and deny our Lord Who redeems us' has returned (II Peter 2:1). I, however, do NOT deny our Lord has returned.

And I assert that His return has released into our world VAST and POWERFUL dynamics, reshaping the world of humankind into a new order, a new world, undreamed of by Isaiah and the Prophets of old!

12/22/2005 02:44:00 AM  
Blogger NN said...

There is no cause for complaint.

"America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, to attain their own freedom and to make their own way."

-- President George W. Bush
January 2005


Bush should have said the opposite, but apparently that was too un-Politically Correct for him. Now it seems one of the gifts the US has given the Iraqis is to tear each other apart more effectively through the training of a disciplined army. Or tip the balance in favour of Islam. Multiculturalism kills, whether from the Left of from the Conservatives.

If the US wants to stay on top of this, it has to be willing to stay. If they are not asked to leave. Going by the above quote, if Iraq is unwilling, the US forces would actually pack their things and leave.

Hopefully nothing much will happen in terms of street fighting as long as the US forces are still on the ground.

12/22/2005 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

As Iraqi President Talabani said months ago, when he thanked US for getting involved. There is and has been a Civil War in Iraq, since well before the Invasion.

If Mr Talabani certainly believes it, shouldn't we?

That the US may have to continue 'balancing' the players in Iraq for years to come is clearly on the table.
How we perform that balancing act shoulf be the real debate, one that every one tries to ignore.

While US Military will definately play a continued role in Iraq, we will not be patroling the city streets of Iraq much longer.
Our Military is ill equipped, mentally and by doctrine for a Constabulary role.
Discussions of "breaking" the Military should be about their misapplication. While certainly adaptable to 'non kinetic operations' those are not the Militaries Primary role in defence of US, nor should they become so.

The Military abandoned it's counter insurgency doctrine. They thought they were not going to need it any more. How inept the Powell generation of Military Leaders is proving to be.

Like the other side of the Vietnam debate, the Army decided "We ain't gonna study Guerilla War no more" That way there would NEVER be another Insurgency that mattered to US.

Do we need an a Constabulary Force in addition to a Combat Force?
That is a Policy question the elite do not even mention.

12/22/2005 06:33:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

radical
perhaps You would have said the opposite, but Mr Bush plainly believes that Democracy is the answer.

reocon
Mr Bush certainly believes Mr Sadr deserves to be part of the 'new' Iraq. That was a Policy decision made years ago. Regardless of US deaths in previous combat.
The question of South Bietnam was or is not whether it had become a "viable" democracy, nor whether the US Military ever lost a Battle.

The relevent comparison in regards 'Nam to Iraq is in the type of withdrawal and continuing US support of our Allies. After US withdrawal and a cutting off of general funding and operational Air Support to the South, the entire Indochinese Region collapsed into anti-American despotism, resulting in the deaths of millions.

If the US were to mirror this action in Iraq, the scenario of chaos that could spread across that Region, a more economicly important one than Indochina, is truely scary.

The Mahdi's Armies have swept Apostate Rulers from power, in Mohammedan history, they could well do so again, or at least try.

12/22/2005 06:52:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

Do we need an a Constabulary Force in addition to a Combat Force?
That is a Policy question the elite do not even mention.

6:33 AM

Afghanistan, like Kosovo, is being NATO-ized. Let the U.N. have Iraq.

Since we've gotten ourselves into a position of can't-afford-to-stay/can't-afford-to-go, the least that can be done is to get a smidgen of our money's worth out of the U.N. by having the IG bring them in as broker and constable. Not like it's new to them or outside their purview, after all.

There is no other entity to whom this tar baby might be signed over.

12/22/2005 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

"With the WMD cassus belli taken off the table to justify our presence in Iraq, we must secure the secondary and tertiary results in order to declare victory, let alone believe it."

reocon

If we had found WMD, we would still have had to contend with the collapse of the Iraqi state and the multiple insurgencies that ensued. If we had found WMD, we still would not have found the relatively peaceful conditions that were anticipated for the period of occupation.

12/22/2005 08:03:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

ReoCon,
You read to much in my statement, “Saddam was the issue but you refuse to accept it. The consequences were what to do with the pieces in the aftermath. Well, that seems to be sorting itself out as a matter of history.”

I may have been a bit cryptic here but did not intend to evoke some arcane logic other than to say I believe that recent history in Iraq bears out that successes can be achieved, “goals” can be met, and as such, the way forward is to build on these successes, not to undermine them with defeatism. At least you can expect such aspirations from a grateful nation, you, of course, are free to hand-wring and second guess all you want.

12/22/2005 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger NN said...

desert rat said:

"radical
perhaps You would have said the opposite, but Mr Bush plainly believes that Democracy is the answer. "

Hey, D Rat,there's such a thing as thinking for yourself. Loyalty is commendable, blind faith is ... blindness. Events after 2004 would have me voting for Kerry, to let the Left make a complete hash of this so-called war. It would leave an opening for a better Republican alternative. Now this alternative has been pre-empted by Bush. He'd better start channeling to the god he believes in. He's gonna need it.

12/22/2005 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

trangbang68 said...
"Reo-con
I thought I was perfectly clear in defining who makes me sick. . . .No its the fifth columnists and Quislings and souless chattering class and self impressed elitists who are filling the air with bile and lies and flatout treason and sedition.If we go down in flames it will be because they drove the bus off the cliff."

I fully concur. Lies and bile are in the air, and the charge of treason and sedition must be made. But against whom? Let me put forth my example which you neglected to address for it both highlights the paradox of our Mesopatamian misadventure and who has committed treason.

When Moqtada al-Sadr led two uprising in '03 and '04 and over 140 American soldiers gave their lives to stop his attempt at seizing power. The Iraqi Guardian Council put out a warrant for his arrest and the U.S. military vowed to enforce it. They did not.

Now, we have Sadr and his fellow Shiite theocrats winning power through the ballot box. We are fighting Islamofascism by empowering . . . . Islamofascists? My question to you, Sir, is why wasn't the order against Sadr enforced for the murder of our soldiers? Who should be indicted, court-martialed or impeached for this sedition against the nation? Have yur really nothing to say about this obvious crime?

You mention that this bus may be driving off a cliff. Who do you think is really driving? The liberal media that played along in hyping the threat of non-existent WMD? The Moaist dance troupes with their zombie-oid anti-Americanism? The patriotic critics of The American Conservative? Who is responsible for letting Sadr not only go free, but assume an increasing share of power?

I would remind you of Hitler's failed Munich Beer Hall Putsch. A lesson in which Der Fuhrer learned the necessity of elections to sieze power. A lesson lost to so many.

12/22/2005 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Well radical,
I've never been blinded by light, by love once, but never again.

There are a couple of scenarios where it all works out well, more than a few where it goes to hell in a hand basket.

It is a shame but the US and Mr Bush are not omnipotent, indeed our performance in Iraq has shown gaping holes in our Military & Diplomatic capabilities and capacities.

The Iranians see these holes better than most.

If the Shia / Sunni Regional War for the heart of Mohammed is to commence, we have to get the ducks in a row. We have certainly rolled the dice.

It one reason why debate about the original intent or the Invasion, while fun, is fruitless.
Results, both military & political are what matter now.

Complete Victory, now that has any number of meanings, depending upon whom is asked for the definition.

12/22/2005 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

desert rat said...
"reocon
Mr Bush certainly believes Mr Sadr deserves to be part of the 'new' Iraq. That was a Policy decision made years ago. Regardless of US deaths in previous combat.
The question of South Bietnam was or is not whether it had become a "viable" democracy, nor whether the US Military ever lost a Battle."

That Mr. Bush believes that Sadr should share power in Iraq is as atrocious as it is apparently true. Bush seems quite willing to forgive Sadr for murdering many American serviceman. Reward him even. I would disagree, however, that this is a policy that goes back "years ago". Our simple-minded President was assured by all manner of alleged ME specialists (Bernard Lewis, Kanan Makiya, Fouad Ajami) that a vast, SECULAR and educated middle class would be the true inheritors of Iraqi democracy not the Shiite low proletariat that flock to Sistani, SCIRI, Sadr et al.

Shortly after the invasion the Marines erected polling stations for municipal elections in Najaf. Proconsul Bremer pulled the plug on the election when the CIA told him that Shiite theocrats would win them. This was the admin.'s first inkling of the road ahead, not a planned route, but a dark and tortuous path.

12/22/2005 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Annoy Mouse said...
ReoCon,
" I believe that recent history in Iraq bears out that successes can be achieved, “goals” can be met, and as such, the way forward is to build on these successes, not to undermine them with defeatism."

So I am to understand that you view the electoral victory of the UIA as a "success"? Do you know who they are and what they stand for? Could you please tell us all what SCIRI stands for, where its militia was trained and what country funds it? What of Da'wa, the Mahdi Army, Fadilah or Iraqi Hizbollah? How is the election of Islamofascists a victory for liberal democracy? Please elucidate.

It is not defeatism to cry out when the goals of "victory" are both hollow and paradoxical. What if I were to tell you in 1967 that democracy could not sustain South Vietnam or if I warned in 1992 that democracy would rip apart Yugoslavia? Would you call me defeatist, or simply conservative?

12/22/2005 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The policy goes back to the end of the Graveyard fight. That was when it was decided NOT to take out Mr Sadr. That was years ago, now.

By never articulating the Goal of the Iraq Campaign, beyond disarming and deposing Saddam, by not installing a 'strong man' or our own Iraqis in the Bremmer role we have let the roulette wheel to spin.

12/22/2005 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

In the NOV/DEC edition of Foriegn Affairs: Iraq and the Democratic Peace - Who Says Democracies Don't Fight? A review by John M. Owen of Edward D. Mansfield's and Jack Snyder's "Electing to Fight: Why Emerging Democracies Go to War".

Discusses the unpleasant historical consequences of incomplete and reverse-order (vote first) democratization.

12/22/2005 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

And while we're on the subject of unpleasant consequences, the best paper, to my mind, on the unintended effects of the U.S. transformation of Iraq is still Patrick Basham's "Can Iraq Be Democratic?" A wealth of information.

http://www.cato.org/events/basham-12-18-03.pdf

12/22/2005 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

If the British can find a basis of political co-existence with Sinn Fein, than I think the Iraqis’ can find a way to peaceful co-existence with Sadr. If it was in my purview, I’d of bombed Sadr and the mosque to hell, but my diplomatic skills are pointedly lacking. The decision to go soft with Sadr may have been a mistake, I was hoping that they would shrap’ the dumb bastard, but politics make strange bedfellows, and it is a political solution after all that the Iraqi’s sought.

The Provisional Authority that issued the arrest warrant for Sadr was based on a murder that I know little about, but the “Provisional” authority had bollixed up more than one thing, and being provisional, did not necessarily issue what is still a standing legal decree. Sadr is known to have openly opposed the authority of the CPA. An assessment he certainly was not alone in, nonetheless, the fact of the matter is, is that Sadr got his ass kicked both before the negotiated withdrawal from the mosque and afterward in the streets of Baghdad where dozens of his men were killed. At the same time as this the streets in Samarra and Fallujah went ape sh*t. The coalition took the course of action that they better choose their battles well. Compromises suck, especially when you lose good people, but there is a fine line between just prosecution of a war and revenge.

Yet again, matters suggest that ‘co-opting Sadr may have worked, “Militiamen loyal to Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have increasingly adopted a policing role in recent months. In both Baghdad and Al-Basrah, al-Sadr's Imam Al-Mahdi Army has claimed to have fought alongside police forces against terrorists, and has carried out its own operations to free hostages from terrorist safe houses.” Wiki - Muqtada al-Sadr.

Politics makes for strange bedfellows.

In the end, it may be more advantages for the US that certain nation states oppose us openly, than have to play the political footsey game we presently enjoy with our ‘allies’ in Pakistan.

12/22/2005 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

REOCON says,

With the WMD cassus belli taken off the table to justify our presence in Iraq, we must secure the secondary and tertiary results in order to declare victory...

We went into Iraq to validate the disarming of Saddam (and for other things, but we will stick to this point for now). That objective has been 100% satisfied. Our actions were not to gain possession of WMD, as your post implies; we didn't go in to Iraq to hold them, or sit on them and take pictures, or bury them, or destroy them. We went into Iraq to remove, once and for all, the conceptual linkage between Saddam and WMD.

Before OIF, we couldn't be sure what, if any, WMD Saddam had, or what he would do with them. Now we are sure. Victory.

12/22/2005 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

We also went into Iraq to force the Middle East's oppressed to become introverted and self-interested. Whether that takes a civil war, or elections, or a bunch of papier-mache demonstrations by birkenstock wearing hippies, by any account we have been successful.

Before OIF, the only other option besides secular dictatorship in the Middle East was Islamism. The theory was that America supported these secular governments, and if America could be scared into withdrawing its presence, the secular governments would fall and Islamism would take over. This is what is known as extroverted politics.

The secular dictatorships didn't mind this, because attention and anger was diverted elsewhere. It was an untenable situation for us, however, and had it lasted it would have spawned interminable terrorism against US interests. So we acted.

Now, instead of being frozen in this horrible feedback loop, the dynamic has dissolved, and political evolution has restarted. It is to our great credit that the first iterations have been positive: in Iraq, where politics are carried out through the ballot instead of the bullet; in Lebanon, where our presence has given the Lebanese the courage to demand freedom from Syria; in Saudi Arabia, where local elections brought Islamists to power; in Palestine, where Hamas is gaining support through the ballot and the kleptocrats of the PA are losing their authority.

These may not seem like positive developments to you, but they are. They are movements towards something better, which is much more than can be said of the past 30 years of Middle Eastern politics. Hamas may win out today, but can they deliver tomorrow? Fundamentalist Shia may come to power in Iraq, but how long before the Iraqis become as jaded about Islamic rule and as sophisticated internationally as the Iranian public--who've experienced Islamic law first hand?

Churchill said his ministers laughed when the Americans explained their idea of the "Overall Strategic Objective." The Brits thought this simple idea unnecessary for such sophisticated men. They considered it almost insulting to such learned military minds, but the Brits indulged their partners and incorporated it into their thinking. After a couple years of war, they stopped laughing.

In case you've forgotten, our Overall Strategic Objective is to make Americans safe from foreign attacks. Out of sight, out of mind stopped working for us right around September 2001. Our new strategy is to overwhelm the minds of our would-be enemies with local information. The theory is, if they are busy taking care of their backyard, they won't have the time nor the inclination to worry about New York. Whether that local information is one of hope and improvement (democracy), or tribal bitterness and rejection (civil war), we have dealt a debilitating blow to the Islamist agenda of attacking America.

In that respect, we are winning. A thank you to the President would be in order right about now.

12/22/2005 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/22/2005 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Reocon said...
Aristides said...

"Our actions were not to gain possession of WMD, as your post implies; we didn't go in to Iraq to hold them, or sit on them and take pictures, or bury them, or destroy them. We went into Iraq to remove, once and for all, the conceptual linkage between Saddam and WMD."

I find this to be a most curious rewriting of recent history. I must have missed the speeches in which our President and his high officials declared that we were about to wage war in order to: "to remove, once and for all, the CONCEPTUAL likage between Saddam and WMD." Imagine what the popular reception would have been to that Clintonian contortion!

What I do recall are speeches from the administration evincing certainty that Saddam was in possession of WMD, e.g. Dick Cheney's now infamous Veteran's Day address. Perhaps it's just me.

"Before OIF, we couldn't be sure what, if any, WMD Saddam had, or what he would do with them. Now we are sure. Victory."

Oh, but we were certain, weren't we? Certain enough to launch a war for their removal? Again, let us imagine an administration making a play for war based on the need not to secure and remove WMD, but the desire to establish the certainty of their absence. And let us say that this President also offered us global democracy as a panacea to the world's ills, where Shiite and Sunni and Sufi and Ba'hai would all sit together to sing "Cumbiya". At let us call this President, for the sake of a thought experiment, Al Gore. How do you think the Republican Party would respond? How would you, Mr. Aristides, respond? Be honest, please.

The GOP has abandoned conservative values and its prinicipled opposition to naton-building. It was BILL CLINTON, who in his 1994 State of the Union proposed the doctrine of democratic globalism with which to reach utopia. The GOP and the majority of the American public were sensible enough to reject this inanity, with the notable exception of the crypto-Trotskyite NeoCons who signed on. They were reviled as oddballs then as every rightwing politician from James Baker to Trent Lott dissented from Clinton's imperialism.

That liberal imperialism has become the marching order of the day, thanks to our simple President, and many a psuedo-conservative has fallen into line without knowing where those orders came from. That the British Trotskyite Christopher Hitchens has joined this movement with the discovery of a fellow "bleeding heart liberal" in Paul Wolfowitz should tell you something. I do not consider the fact that my beloved republic has become drunk with Wilsonian idealism to be a sign of . . . . victory.

12/22/2005 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

REOCON,

This is not a GOP thing (I voted for Al Gore in 2000, was upset by Florida, wanted the peace and prosperity of the '90s to continue ad infinitum. Of course, it was all an illusion. 9/11, as a lesson in reality, was ground-shaking event for me). And read my second post about the realism of our "local information" policy. It is anything but intoxicated idealism, though to be effective it must be presented in those terms.

Read the Authorization for War. The emphasis was not on Saddam's possession of WMD, it was on his inability to account for them after being called upon by the International Community to do so for over a decade (in addition to many other violations that had nothing to do with WMD--firing on our planes, brutalizing his people, attempted assassination of a former President, etc.). This is what is known as nuance. Our policy was disarmament and regime change in Iraq. Our policy has been successful.

Look, you'll won't get anywhere with me by fleeing to name-mongering. I care about policy, and effects, not about individual politicians. I could care less what Cheney said to the hoi polloi. It is the bane of the executive branch to have to couch intelligence in definitive statements, because anybody who has worked with intelligence knows there is no such thing as definitiveness.

It's a bane because it is both necessary, and inaccurate.

Your objection to this exposes your naivete. You don't lead a nation to war by expressing doubt. Once the decision is made, you argue the righteousness of your actions until you are blue in the face. Doubt is a private burden that must be borne by all great men. Only political opportunists and an unaccountable opposition would seek to make public doubt in a time of war a VIRTUE.

12/22/2005 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger NN said...

desert rat:

I do not expect Bush and the US to be omnipotent. I had hoped for a level of honesty that sofar is absent in his speeches and actions ordered by him and his administration.

The Basics: To acknowledge the fact that freedom is not some ultimate end-state of all societies, achieved by the gentle assistance of the US. The perfect example are the inter-war Germans, who, left to their own devices, voted the Nazis to power. The overarching desire of the Weimar Germans was to reject Western liberty and embrace totalitarianism. They did not want democracy, parliamentarism, freedom, individualism, capitalism, and yet I would say that the Germans had a better starting position than the Iraqis, being still imbued with its 19th century history, where elements of Western liberty was very much present.

What loyalties and what worldview do the mass of Iraqis subscribe to to warrant the conclusion that they will embrace freedom and peaceful parliamentarism? That they are tired of fighting and murder? So were the Germans after WWI, yet they embarked on an apocalyptic campaign for world dominance only 21 years later. You have to look at their fundamental loyalties, their basic values to see what moves them. What beliefs will they rely on when the going gets tough? Parliamentarism? Or tribal/sectarian loyalties? Bullets or ballots? Why are there still militias connected to the big parties? Does this reflect a yearning for and a belief in democracy?

Of course the US presence will have a dampening effect on the the sectarian passions in Iraq, but unless a fundamental change is being undertaken, the passions fill only fester and probably erupt, Balkans style, after a US withdrawal. But this is precisely what the Bush administration is unwilling to effect "on the unwilling". Without the necessary cause the desired effect will not follow: without the securing of freedom and rights in Iraq, peace and stability will not follow.

More Basics: Was there any mention of the "M"-word or the "I"-word in the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq document? Wouldn't you say that's an odd omission? This is not accidental: Bush is studiously avoiding to name the enemy--a religion. Here Bush is letting his personal beliefs affect the security of the whole nation.

"by delivering a decisive blow to the ideology [which ideology?] that fuels international terrorism, proving that the power of freedom is stronger than a perverse vision of violence, hatred, and oppression." (my emphasis)

This is a level of dishonesty that is dangerous, dangerous as it blinds the decision makers to the real problems they are supposed to resolve.

This is not defeatism. It is the rejection of groundless mushy idealism and political correctness guiding the Bush administration that will leave those involved who are still alive disillusioned, and alot more people dead than would have been necessary.

12/22/2005 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Perhaps my use of "conceptual linkage" was too abstract for you. Think of it in terms of subject/predicate and cause/effect. We no longer tie the idea of Saddam to the idea of WMD except in the negative, as in he doesn't have them.

That was the goal, to remove the linkage between two dangerous concepts: Saddam, a threat, can no longer threaten us with threatening weapons.

Radical,

The ideology he speaks of is that espoused by Qutb, and afterwards by Zawahiri and bin Laden. It is the ideology of Islamic revolution and an indictment of modernity. It is radical retrogression, where the destination is the past, and the past is the future.

Before OIF, Islamism was the only vision of the future that didn't simply extend the present. Now another vision of the future competes with Islamism in the minds of the Arabs. Like Qutb's ideology, this new vision is a radical departure from the present.

It is their last hope. If it fails, we will no longer have the luxury of fighting the disease. We will have to quarantine or eradicate the carriers.

Perfection will never come, but as long as we can avoid a new dark ages with nukes, chemicals, and biological weapons (the biggest danger), we are moving in the right direction.

12/22/2005 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

In other words, it is a relatively recent mutation of Islam.

Islam is not the problem. It is the substrate.

12/22/2005 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Aristides said...
"Look, you'll won't get anywhere with me by fleeing to name-mongering."

Oh, there is no need to monger names, you have confirmed my suspicions and assumed the mantle of the moniker quite willing when you said:
"I voted for Al Gore in 2000, was upset by Florida. . ."

You are a liberal, and judging by your added comments, an imperialist to boot. There is no pejorative there, so be proud. State unequivocally that you are a pro-war liberal imperialist and I will stand across the river and announce that I am a republican (nota bene, small "R") Conservative. This is only sensible as to the terms of the debate.

For you the ideological infection that has riddled the GOP and conservative movement alike is a triumph not a concern. I understand you and give you grim kudos for your perverse accomplishment.

"I could care less what Cheney said to the hoi polloi."

It would be almost uncouth to remind you that those "hoi polloi" were veterans. This wouldn't be liberal elitism on your part, would it?

"Your objection to this exposes your naivete. You don't lead a nation to war by expressing doubt."

I fully agree with your last sentence -- you lead a nation to war by supressing doubt and nationalistic displays, an historical verity. But, to invoke various doubters (from Diogenes to Laocoon) let me reiterate two antebellum doubts and see how they now stand up:
1. The WMD info on Iraq is sketchy and inconclusive and not worthy of intervention. (see conservative dissent from Scowcroft, Noonan, Chapman and Buchanan).
2. Regime change will not lead to a liberal, secular democracy as these Mid-East fanstasist are selling (Makiya, Ajami, Lewis) but a Shiite Theocracy (as told by Bob Baer and our boys at The Farm).

How then, have my "doubts" held up? What does the victory of the UIA in last week's elections tell you? Are they mere doubts or are they now truths? What is the difference between a Cynic and a prophet?

"Our policy was disarmament and regime change in Iraq. Our policy has been successful."

We have disarmed what did not exist and ushered in a regime of pro-Iranian, Shiite Islamofascists to rule over Iraq. Sucess? I have my doubts.

"Only political opportunists and an unaccountable opposition would seek to make public doubt in a time of war a VIRTUE."

Doubt, in defense of conservatism is no vice, and bluster in defense of liberalism is no virtue.

12/22/2005 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger NN said...

aristides said:

"In other words, it is a relatively recent mutation of Islam.

Islam is not the problem. It is the substrate. "

I respectfully disagree. As you yourself noted al Qaeda is a retrograde movement, longing for the good old days. I believe that your hope in a modern variant of Islam is a chimera. What those bearded fanatics expound in their home videos is Islam, pure and simple.

Track Islam's brutal history, its treatment of the despised dhimmi, the completely static nature of Islamic society as regards to basics through the centuries. Listen to the deafening silence of all the moderate Muslims all over the world when atrocity after atrocity in the name of Islam is reported, study the bizarre case of the cartoons depicting Muhammad in Denmark causing a diplomatic crisis and a general strike in Kashmir. Where is "modern" Islam? Where do you see it? Who are its advocates? Where is the mass following?

Again, since the poor Germans did so many things wrong, an analogy: Would you say that there were many decent Germans in Nazi Germany? Who did not approve of industrialized mass killings? Why did they not speak up against this oppressive regime or the war? Why did they not rebel? Why did they go along? I would say because they shared the ideals of the fanatics on some level. German honour and the protection of the Reich superceded everything. The difference was, they were not prepared to get their hands bloodied in such a horrific way. So it is with Islam and the Muslims today.

12/22/2005 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Bingo-Aristides said'Less you've forgotten our overall strategy was to make America safe from foreign attacks"
Call me naive and foolish,but I believe Bush believes that and it is why we are in Iraq.
What could we have done in the wake of 9/11?On one extreme is the Milquetoast approach practiced by Clinton of doing nothing.This led in the words of Bin Laden to increased boldness on the part of the Jihadis who saw America as a paper tiger.
We could have stopped in Afghanistan while all the Al Qaida heavy hitters fled to Iran or Pakistan or God knows where>Bush would have been looked at as having acted.He could go onto try to build a legacy by fixing the entitlement dilemma and all would be well until a nuke went off in Chicago.
On the far end we could have nuked Mecca,declared every Muslim a child of hell and see if we could kill all billion of them before they got us.
Bush took a plunge into trying to rewrite the Islamic world.I don't think so much as a Wilsonian nation building exercise,but as a bold try to drain the swamp and present an alternative to Islam's dismal reality.If it works history will judge him kindly.If it doesn't maybe the nuke goes off in Chicago anyways.
Reo-con-Why does so much hinge on Sadr?What about the influence of Sistani,Chalabi and others in the Shiite community?What about the working community developing in the Kurds sector?If half of Iraq merges with Iran what will the Wahhabi's have to say about it?There are lots of questions,plenty of possibilities and maybe a relatively peaceable 2006 and maybe not.
If we're tagging ourselves I'm a social conservative Christian who was once hard left .I dispise most people on the left in America for their hypocrisy,their mocking of my country's values as they were and their embrace of our enemies.I hope we win this war for my children's sake.If we don't we'll have to keep on somehow anyway,won't we?

12/22/2005 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

REOCON,

By name-mongering I meant actual names: Cheney, Bush, etc. You were selling your opinion of policy by referencing the names of individual politicians and their shortcomings. It is a practice that I strongly disagree with. For instance, whenever I debate the wisdom of OIF with an opponent of it, I immediately hear about Bush and Cheney, or perhaps Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. The expectation is that I will get bogged down in defending the men, instead of addressing the rightness of their policy. I feel this is a distraction because I arrive at my conclusions on my own. I didn't have to trust Rumsfeld's version of the enemy, for instance, because I had already read Qutb and bin Laden.

As for labels, you can call me whatever you want. I fashion myself as a Hayekian small 'l' liberal, what used to be known as a Whig. Likewise, I am a strong proponent of the empiricism espoused by Hobbes, Bacon, Hume, etc.

Now, to address the label of imperialist. If you think it imperialist to desire a world that looks and behaves like America (to be distinguished from a world ruled by America), then I am an imperialist. You will run into problems trying to flesh that argument out, since America is composed of every nationality, and every ethnicity, on the planet. It is, if anything, a mindset and an ethic, a universal solvent: America is a mental and moral paradigm supported by external rules. That's it. Whether a paradigm of individual liberty and individual responsibility can have imperial ambitions I'll leave to others to discuss, but I think if you want to argue that it can, you will end up with an overly-broad, and perverse, definition of imperialism.

I think "system snob" or "ethical paternalist" is closer to what I am.

Radical,

You are right in describing my position. It is one of hope.

12/22/2005 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Off-topic:

If you Google the following Search argument: <9/11 attacks, "flight numbers">

You get a bunch of garbage hits to Urban Myths.

Isn't it sad the world's most popular Search engine is politically crippled to deliver Bad Data?

12/22/2005 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger neo-neocon said...

To "the radical":

You write, "The perfect example are the inter-war Germans, who, left to their own devices, voted the Nazis to power."

Your history lesson is incorrect. See here for the story of how Hitler came to power.

It's often forgotten that Hitler and the Nazis were still a minority party at the time he became Chancellor. The Nazis' ascension to the leadership of Germany was the terrible and delayed fruit of an election in which their actual share of the vote was 36%. Hitler was later appointed Chancellor as the result of a series of complex backroom deals.

Also, even as Chancellor, he could not have assumed dictatorial powers except that the German Constitution contained a clause enabling such powers to be assumed by a Chancellor in a time of crisis by a 2/3 vote of the Reichstag. Hitler got the 2/3 vote he needed partly through instituting a reign of terror that intimidated the opposition.

So, Hitler's ascension was really a result of a strange combination of events (including terrorism). The German people did not vote the Nazis to power.

12/22/2005 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger NN said...

neo-neocon:

"The German people did not vote the Nazis to power. "

This nevertheless does not change the fact that the Germans rejected Western liberal values and did not yearn for freedom or democracy, contrary to the Bush administration's silly assertions that all cultures do.

You cannot explain the German's behaviour without this realization. There was a slogan, "Leader command, we will follow!" Taste it and feel how utterly alien it is. This was a rallying cry of the regime throughout. I seem to remember that Germany's borders were open for quite a while and of course a lot of people fled. But the vast majority remained.

12/22/2005 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"If we're tagging ourselves I'm a social conservative Christian who was once hard left"

...Well. That's nice.

12/23/2005 12:58:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

I seem to remember that Germany's borders were open for quite a while and of course a lot of people fled. But the vast majority remained.

That observation pertains to the Jews as well. I don't think it quite makes the point you think it does.

12/24/2005 05:26:00 PM  

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