Monday, January 09, 2006

The other side of the hill

Since the New Year several events have been progressing in parallel and the question is whether they collectively make up a larger story. The narrative threads are listed below.

The Al Qaeda Counteroffensive, by Bill Roggio describes the attempt by the hard core of the insurgency to scupper negotiations to form a coalition government in Iraq.

al-Qaeda and the insurgency began the New Year with an anemic offensive of thirteen car bombs in Baghdad and northern Iraq which resulted in only twenty casualties, no deaths. The past two days have seen a dramatically increased level of effectiveness in the employment of suicide bombers and attacks on infrastructure. Over 160 Iraqis have been killed and hundreds wounded in over eight suicide and car bomb attacks in Baghdad, Ramadi, Najaf, Kerbala and Muqdadiyah. Oil production and gasoline distribution in northern has been disrupted by effective attacks. There are three main foci to these attacks: Shiites, Sunnis willing to cooperate with the Iraqi government, and Iraq’s oil infrastructure.

In The Tight Rope, Alaa of the Mesopotamian describes the urge to hit back at the terrorists without the McCain Amendment.

I have not been able to post recently due to pressure of daily life. We are facing a major onslaught by the enemy. The U.S. presence in Iraq is trying a very treacherous ropewalk at the moment. The situation is fraught with danger. The U.S. authorities are being too anxious to ingratiate themselves to the various Sunni groups in a way that I think is going too far. ... They are not going to win over the terrorists, but they run a serious risk of loosing their fundamental base of support in the country. It is of course, required and necessary to strike a balance and find a way to draw the Sunnis into the political process, but it must be done within clear boundaries and without giving any ground to the terrorists. And if there are any criticisms or misgivings about the conduct of the Interior Ministry or the Defense Ministry, they can be made known to those concerned through discreet and private channels and not by public statements and in the media.

But it's not just the Shi'ites, the Sunnis too are getting bounced around. Back to Bill Roggio again in Blowback from the Ramadi Attack

The responsibility for the attack is being placed directly on al-Qaeda’s shoulders. “Neither the Americans nor the Shiites have any benefit in doing this. It is Zarqawi,” said the brother of one of the wounded. According to the Washington Post, “Another group of people beat a doctor in the hospital after he told an Iraqi journalist that U.S. forces were to blame for the attacks… Others said they hoped that sympathies in the city… would turn against Zarqawi’s faction.”

Yet the remarkable thing is that the negotiations are going on. Winds of Change's interview with milblogger 365 and a Wakeup argues that Iraq is to a certain extent, already an independent country.

Thunder6: It is difficult to describe just how much we've seen change over the last year because you have to have a frame of reference to gauge progress. I think that is the perceptual trap the MSM is falling into - if you spend 10 minutes visiting a stretch of Iraq every 6 months chances are you won't notice the subtle signs of forward progress. When we arrived Iraq had just completed its first free elections, but for the most part we were still calling the shots. Now Iraq is a free and independent country, and they are preparing to seat their first democratic government. We were too busy to notice it at the time, but over the last year we have had a front row seat to the rebirth of a nation. There is still a long road ahead, but you have to start with a foundation – and I think the Iraq people have achieved that.

Now let's go to Iraq the Model who describes events since the counteroffensive described by Bill Roggio.

The Suuni choose Allawi as their leader, the Kurds unite their administrations ... Adnan al-Dulaimi and Salih al-Mutlaq were standing behind Allawi during the press conference which means that the two men have given Allawi the leadership of the new alliance. Allawi stressed that the new bloc rejects and condemns terrorism, of course this is something not unusual from Allawi but I think that Allawi this time was speaking on behalf of al-Dulaimi and al-Mutlaq who have recently been accused so many times by the UIA of backing terrorism. ... The day’s other big event is something that has been awaited for quite along time, and it is an achievement of special importance for the Kurds in Iraq, today Masoud Barzani announced that the KDP and PUK have finally reached an agreement to unite the two Kurdish administrations in Erbil and Sulaymaniya.

Powerline summarizes the recent views of Zbigniew Brzezinski in the Washington Post, arguing strangely enough, that the US can withdraw by the end of 2006 because, unless it is willing to hold out for the establishment of a liberal, secular, democracy, the goals of OIF have already been achieved. There's already a new Iraqi proto-state if the US is willing to accept it on less than perfect terms.

In contrast, a military disengagement by the end of 2006, derived from a more realistic definition of an adequate outcome, could ensure that desisting is not tantamount to losing. In an Iraq dominated by the Shiites and the Kurds -- who together account for close to 75 percent of the population -- the two peoples would share a common interest in Iraq's independence as a state. The Kurds, with their autonomy already amounting in effect to quasi-sovereignty, would otherwise be threatened by the Turks. And the Iraqi Shiites are first of all Arabs; they have no desire to be Iran's satellites. Some Sunnis, once they were aware that the U.S. occupation was drawing to a close and that soon they would be facing an overwhelming Shiite-Kurdish coalition, would be more inclined to accommodate the new political realities, especially when deprived of the rallying cry of resistance to a foreign occupier.

Those events in Iraq are the starting point for a "larger story" whose outlines are still indefinite, and whose existence may be wholly imaginary, but which might materialize suddenly like a ship out of a fog. That story is whether larger political upheavals are in the offing in the Middle East. The three collateral unknowns are Syria, Iran and Israel. Syria Comment describes the leadership crisis that is now gripping the Assad regime in Damascus, wishing devoutly for a soft landing. "Saudi Arabia and Egypt are again trying to broker a way for Syria to avoid a direct confrontation with the UN and still cooperate with the UN." because the region is alive with a sense that Assad dynasty is teetering on the edge. He quotes David Ignatius of the Washington Post.

David Ignatius writes in the Post of January 4, "Mob War In The Mideast."
In the gangster movies, you know all hell is about to break loose when one of the disgruntled old dons decides to switch sides and rat out the young Godfather. Something like that is now happening with Syria -- and it provides a new year's bombshell for an already turbulent Middle East. Jumblatt says he hopes America will stand by the Cedar Revolution. "If Bush considers Lebanon one of his major achievements, now is the time to protect Lebanon," he told me. When I asked what he wanted from America, he answered: "You came to Iraq in the name of majority rule. You can do the same thing in Syria."

Is there any way, he asks for a just change to take place without damaging Syria further?

Dan Darling at Winds of Change comments on the startling news that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Ground Forces Commander has just died in a "plane crash". (Is it just me or are there altogether too many Iranian military plane crashes these days?)

Reuters and AP are reporting that an IRGC military plane has crashed, killing General Ahmed Kazemi, the commander of the IRGC's ground forces and former commander of its air force, and what looks like several other senior IRGC commanders. No word yet on whether or not Qassem Suleimani was among them, but I suspect we don't get that lucky.

This cannot but ratchet up the pressure as the Iran moves forward toward getting its own nuclear weapons, with the world wondering whether in the process it may not trigger some Israeli policy tripwire, whose long time leader, Ariel Sharon lies critical on his sick bed


I think it's probably true as 365 and a Wakeup says, that Iraq is rapidly becoming an independent country, by definition increasingly difficult to "control" unless the US is willing to conquer it all over again. But whether good or bad, it has become a different country from its pre-OIF condition. To a lesser degree Iran, Lebanon, Syria and even Israel have experienced major changes since 2003. One trite observation, which I think any fair observer would be willing to grant, is that the status quo antebellum in the Middle East is gone with the wind. Sherman has marched to the sea, and Tara will never quite be the same. The real question, which it seems to me no one is prepared to really think about, is how to meet whatever happens next.

Chester's piece about that "sinking feeling" going into 2006  (he compared it to 1914) can be read not as a belief in the eventuation of any particular scenario so much as the worry about whether a politically polarized Washington and apparently rudderless national leadership can cope with the challenges sure to emerge in the very near future. The relative clarity of vision with which the US entered 2002 is gone, it's place taken by a political class which has demoralized itself in despite of historically unprecedented success. Of the pillars that held up the political world in 2003 only a few remain standing. Arafat dead; Sharon in a coma; Schoeder a factotum of Vladimir Putin; Chirac a shadow of himself; the European Union moribund, the UN a standing joke; Blair badly weakned and America obsessed with cookies left on browsers on government websites. And 2006 just beginning. Interesting times indeed.


Blogger Meme chose said...

"...and America obsessed with cookies left on browsers on government websites."

The chattering classes always need something to chat about with 'more knowledgeable than thou' air. Vanity demands no less. One of our numerous enemies can doubtless be counted upon to change the subject before long.

1/09/2006 05:45:00 AM  
Blogger james wilson said...

The simple and certain solution has always been a Kurd-Shiite coalition, with the Sunnis taking the lumps back that they gave for forty years. Ironically, it is the Great Satan providing ever greater treasure and blood in this effort to include the very source of the trouble into the future of this country. No good deed goes unpunished.

1/09/2006 05:49:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

I think the challenges we face are all summed up pretty well by Congressman Murtha, who, at a recent MoveOn event, stated that he was concerned about a U.S. exit from Iraq "that looks like a victory."
Both sides of the political spectrum face that problem - and the mere fact that it is considered a "problem" reveals our our biggest real problem.

1/09/2006 05:53:00 AM  
Blogger Huan said...

Some additional interesting read:
From Strategy page:
January 9, 2006: The terrorists know how to play the media, grouping their suicide bombing attacks together and aiming them at spectacular targets (women and children, mosques and funerals). Between these clusters of attacks, there is often nothing. In the last week, this clustering has made the violence in Iraq front page news throughout Iraq, and the Moslem world. These attacks have horrified most Moslems. You have to be a pretty strange bird to be encouraged by the sight of dead children or blood splattered mosques. These attacks are made deliberately, and it's difficult to be sure what the purpose is. Captured terrorists indicate the idea is to cause a civil war between Sunni Arabs and the Shia Arabs. But this makes no sense, as there are three times as many Shia Arabs, and there are as many Kurds as there are Sunni Arabs. Such a civil war would lead to catastrophe for the Sunni Arabs. But captured terrorists, most of them Sunni Arab zealots, believe that Sunni Arabs are actually the majority in the country, or that the Sunni Arabs are just such superior people that they would prevail if all Sunni Arabs could be motivated to join the battle against the Shia Arabs, the Kurds and the Americans.

More thoughtful Sunni Arabs believe that the violence can be used as a bargaining chip, to get concessions from the Shia Arab/Kurd coalition that controls the government, and the ever-growing army and police force. It's the growth of these security forces that scares the Sunni Arabs the most. When Saddam fell nearly three years ago, the Sunni Arabs were still the most powerful Iraqi armed force in the country. There were millions of assault rifles, RPGs and mortars in the hands of civilians, and the Sunni Arabs were best prepared to use their guns to regain control of the country. Most of Saddam's secret policemen and military leaders were still alive. They still knew how to organize violence and terror. But in the past three years, the Shia Arabs have been armed and trained. It's no longer a sure thing that the Sunni Arabs would win a civil war. Actually, with the better trained Kurds joining the Shia Arabs, the Sunni Arab situation becomes hopeless. But only if you believe in logic and rational thought. The terrorists are on a mission from God, or are living out cherished myths. There's also the money angle, as many of those involved in the terrorist violence are doing it for cash. Such pointless behavior is, alas, a common pattern in Arab history.

and from Debka:
DEBKAfile’s Tehran sources note the high importance of the dead commander who was appointed only three months ago. Another of the victims was head of the RG intelligence branch.

Kazemi, for six years chief of the RG air force, was one of the fathers of Iran’s aggressive military doctrine. Our Iran experts’ first premise is that the crash was engineered by opposition factions to president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad within the regime in an effort to stem the increasing encroachments of state institutions by his backers, the radical Revolutionary Guards.

there are undercurrents that need close monitoring.

1/09/2006 05:56:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Classic Post, W.
Some of those pillars were nothing but salt, as will be obsessions in DC.
I'm with Meme, betting that something real will be interupting the surreal Washington Kabuki.

1/09/2006 06:09:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

From "Eating their Own" thread:
genwolf said...
The bombing in Ramadi is terrible and tragic news, but I am surprised that so little has been made about the implications arising from the Bomber's chosen target.
Ramadi is overwhelmingly Sunni, and the current heart of the insurgency, and yet it appears that the reason casulaties were so high was that the Police recruitment drive was litterally overwhelemed by applicants.

Coming on the heels of the decision by Sunni based parties to contest instead of boycott the election the two pieces of evidence clearly signal that general Sunni support for the insurgency is over.

The Coalition and Iraqi Security forces need to capitalise on this developement urgently, some rewards (esp. Oil revenue) must be made to Sunni's who have rejected the insurgency immediatley.

And because it will take 4 to 8 months before the change in Sunni attitudes to tranlate into more Sunni's in the ISF a major commitment must be made to the Sunni's security needs NOW, by troops carefully screened so that they will stengthen the Sunni change of heart rather than cause the Sunnni's to re-think their rejection of the insurgency.

Doug said...
I've heard reports this was the first time the citizens started ratting out terrorists.
Your ideas seem sound to me, not that I know squat about the situation w/ the folks on the ground.
Worth the effort, at least.
...we need some folks besides Islamic True Believers over there.

1/09/2006 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

...first time,
In Ramadi.

1/09/2006 06:20:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Iranian planes fall from the sky.
Iranian border crossings into Turkey are starting to close.
In Iraq, Mr Sistani's Shia's less aggresive version of the 12th Imam prophesy holds sway.
In Syria Mr Assad faces challenges of historical scope and scale. I read that he has announced his own Immunity as a Head of State.
He should have been watching Saddam's trial, or perhaps he has been. In either case he may be looking for an 'Out'
Changing the Capo in Damascus would not be enough, though, not if Complete Victory is the Standard. A complete flushing of that toilet would be required before Vistory could be claimed. What is Syria to look like, anyway, post War?

1/09/2006 06:28:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Russert really smacked down Schumer trying to marginalize Alito, bringing up ACLU Ruth Bader and etc.
...and some gal on another Ingraham soundbyte brought up CHAPAQUIDICK when the host played a Kennedy soundbyte.
...and even Jane Harman is in total meltdown mode over NSA.
Meanwhile active Army is on full assault on Murtah the Marine "disgrace."
Go Army!
(Murtha had checked out of the town hall meeting! ...had to go home.
NOT in Victory!)
Things are just not the same in the good old USA.
Damn that Shrub!
Foiled Again!
Wiley E.

1/09/2006 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

More DC Cookies:
Bloggers in the house
Matt Margolis, Blogs for BushMark Noonan, GOP BloggersFlip Pidot, Suitably FlipIan Schwartz, The Political TeenTim Chapman, Townhall.comMary Katherine Ham, HughHewitt.comEd Morrissey, Captain's QuartersBob Hahn, RedStatePat Cleary,
- Malkin

1/09/2006 06:42:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

J Pod takes on the perfectionists.
(no offense, 'Rat)
Finally, there are “mistakes” that were actually choices between two evils—choices that had to be made when it was by no means obvious which was the lesser of the two. The best example here is the policy of “de-Baathification.” This led to a disbanding of the Iraqi army, whose embittered Sunni members were then putatively left with nothing to do but volunteer their services to the insurgency. Yet allowing Saddam Hussein’s thugs to continue controlling the army would have embittered the Shiites and the Kurds instead, both of whom had suffered greatly at the hands of the Sunni minority. Is it self-evident that this would have been better for us or for Iraq?

However, even if I were to concede for the sake of argument that every one of these accusations was justified, I would still contend that they amounted to chump change when stacked up against the mistakes that were made in World War II—a war conducted by acknowledged giants like Roosevelt and Churchill.2 And I would still say, as I have said before, that the number of American casualties in Iraq is minimal as compared with the losses suffered in past wars.3 Similarly, the mistakes—again assuming they were mistakes rather than debatable judgment calls—committed in the first year after the fall of Saddam were relatively inconsequential when measured against those made in the aftermath of the Allied victories over Germany and Japan.

1/09/2006 07:02:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"The Book of Daniel"
be the definitive
Jump the Shark moment for Hollyweird?

1/09/2006 07:16:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Your selection makes my case.
It is not by error, many of the mistakes we have made, but by the choices made.
The choice by the Military to discard Counter Insurgency Doctrine, after success in Salvador.
The choice not to level Ramadi.
The choice not to install a 'strongman' in Iraq.
The choice to release battle field detainees in 72 hours if evidence standards are not met.
The choice to deploy a high intensity combat force to a low intensity conflict

Lots of mistakes, or errors, or misjudgements on lots of levels. To avoid the truth of it is not a way to obtain, as Mr Rumsfeld says, "Lessons Learned".

1/09/2006 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

As you know I've thought the Iraqi War won for quite awhile.
As per Mr Murtha, appearences are EVERYTHING. It is and has been long known we would begin to leave Iraq.
Dr Z portrays that departure as another defeat for US & Victory for Mohammed. We do not portray the withdrawal as Victory, for US, Victory is not yet "Complete".

Mr Bush should visit the new Ministers of the Iraqi Government, in Baghdad, as soon as their names are known.

US 'soft power' has been employed against Mr Assad for a least the past year. Will there just be a reshuffling of the Baathist deck of cards now in play, or will the players call for a 'new' deck?

1/09/2006 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"As per Mr Murtha, appearences are EVERYTHING. It is and has been long known we would begin to leave Iraq.
Dr Z portrays that departure as another defeat for US
Murtha and Dr Z
Same Same,
To Hell with the Bastard.

1/09/2006 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Paine said...

IMHO, the American political class is about to get another strong shot of “reality” to worry about – that is to say: IRAN.

The permanent foreign policy establishment (both in and out of government) is slowly and ponderously swinging it’s attention to this problem.

Iran is an "existential" problem for America and the world – equivalent to Hitler in 1933 when he started to seriously remilitarize Germany. At that point, Hitler could have been smashed with two divisions. Six years later it required 20 million dead and a continent destroyed to achieve the same result – because of the blindness and weakness of the other European leaders (and nothing’s changed in that respect).

Fortunately, George Bush, as he has famously said, “doesn’t give a shit about the Europeans”. He will not repeat their stupidities.

Because Iran is the only M.E. country likely to become dangerous to the United States itself in the near term (five years).

That potential danger comes from the intersection of religious fanaticism -- plus terrorism -- plus unlimited oil money -- plus nukes.

The Iranian regime has spent 30 years training itself to hate America and the modern world – and to believe it is destined by God to create a worldwide religious dictatorship – and they seek nukes to implement their psychopathologies. That danger is intolerable to America.

Bush will not duck this task, and despite the current rising tide of moronic ankle-biting, I think most of the American political class will rise to the need and support a pre-emptive parry resulting in regime-removal.

As to method, I hope for a fomented revolution of the Iranian people, perhaps coupled with a coup, and all supported by VERY muscular and overt American air, special forces, and other operations – a sort of modified Afghan operation.

1/09/2006 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Who's avoiding truth?
Those that want to rush us to (another) defeat.
Away with them.

1/09/2006 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Better to beat 'em then to curse 'em.

It is a multi faceted War. No element, especially the Perception front can be ignored. In the Battle for the Mind, creating the perception of Victory is the most important aspect of the Battle.

Both at Home and Abroad

1/09/2006 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

In a sense, Iran is the ONLY problem.
Hope you're right about Washington being up to the task.
Cheney is, Murtha ain't,
"Chickenhawk" or not.

1/09/2006 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

A former secular Baathist, Iyad Allawi may be the idea political leader for Iraq, in that he embodies the former regimes talent for unmitigated violence, yet has transformed himself, in the eyes of the international community, into a reasonably restrained politician. Time will tell if the new, kinder more gentle Allawi inveigles his way into the hearts and minds of Iraqi politics. If he succeeds at that, there is little doubt that he will have the innate brutality to stay in power.

The prospect of leaving the Iraqi theater by the end of ’06 leaves a lot of open questions. There is little doubt that a draw down will be advertised prior to the US mid-term elections. But, at this point, it remains uncertain that the US will be maintaining basing in Iraq. I suspect that it would be too politically sensitive to push it. This contradicts my earlier predictions that the US would eventually draw back into garrison positions, only to emerge to wage ‘death from above’ campaigns for the newly minted Iraqi government. But even this would have political implications if the new government was perceived to be meting out punishment to one ethnic group over another. Nonetheless, I have little doubt that SOF will be operating in the border regions with or without the official approval for years to come.

As far as Iran is concerned, last time a plane went down with major military brass, they were sure to point out that their airplanes are not reliable due to the US embargo on parts. I wonder if the generals who met their demise were moderate, not unlikely for an old general to be so. None more bold than the recently promoted Colonel.

I think that our greatest challenge is to bolster up Iraq before the impending implosion of Iran and Syria.

1/09/2006 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger ed said...


I think what's going on in Iran is that the President is staging a slow-motion coup against the Mad Mullahs. They put him into power but I don't think they expected him to purge the government and military the way he has. I think what has happened is that Iran now has it's very own Saddam Hussein, only with nukes.

The danger of this is that totalitarian governments are much harsher and much quicker to punish internal dissent and are absolutely murderous to any perceived counterweights to it's own native power. If Iran ever does use a nuclear weapon I think the first target will be an Iranian one.

1/09/2006 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

The Sunnis have to be made to feel the pain, period. Rarely is a situation less effectively dealt with by more than less force. I agree with the Mesopotamian: the people want to see power in order to determine under whom they will shelter. Round up the sheiks - call it a conference on the insurgency - and figure out how to scare they living shit out of them. Or kill several of them. Whatever. This is not Kansas, Toto, so suck it up and start punishing, Bible-style. Short of that, shut your pie hole: this is the way it is. Or has everyone suddenly forgotten how the Sunnis actually ran the country for, oh, forever?

1/09/2006 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

What happened to the Wahhabist Plot to convert the World, doug?

Funded by the deep pockets of elements of the Royal family and retainers in the KSA. Wahhabist Schools in Nuclear Pakistan are churning out mini Osamas at an ever increasing rate. The General President of Pakistan is unable to deport the foreign teachers as planned.

The Wahhabist Mohammedan sect attacks the US in 2001 and before. In 2006 the US prepares to solve the Fascist Mohammedan Challenge by regieme change of the Shia Mohammedan theologists in charge of Iran.
The Saudis are smarter then the neoCons, that's surely evident. Their 'near foe' is in doug's cross hairs, targeted now as the 'real threat'.

Though the Iranians do not seem all that bright, themselves.

There is an interesting story about the possibility of a coup after the US substantially leaves.
They grade countries chances of Military Coups, one telling sign is a history of coups.

What of Pakistans score? The nukes are already in place, Osama and his 300,000 Warizistan border bandits at the Gates. How loyal is the Army to the General President, and for how long.
Someday the General President will follow Mr Sharon and Arafat. Perhaps sooner then he or we expects, who would then have control of the Mohammedan nukes, that exist today, on missles?

cannot find the link now, maybe later

1/09/2006 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Evanston said...

I find Zbig Brzezinski's WaPo editorial a masterpiece of spin control and pseudo-intellectualism. He faults Bush for setting a narrative of victory vs. defeat. You see, Zbig is super smart and knows that we can accept something less than a "perfect" (meaning, secular democratic) victory. No kidding. Zbig further claims genius by noting that we have achieved OIFs principal goals. Hey, "welcome to the party, Zbig" though I know you could not admit this without acting like it's your idea and sandwiching this admission between scathing attacks at Bush. Zbig is an expert at doing nothing and settling for less, no wonder he and Murtha are leading minds in the Democratic Party's foreign policy front. They are most worried that this victory will look like...a victory. Same for happenings in Lebanon and Syria. How truly sad that these men hold places of regard in our nation. I am most disappointed by Murtha, a hero whose legacy now is dogged defeatism in the face of victory. Take it from a fellow Marine, sir, it's time to go home and write that autobiography that no one will read.

1/09/2006 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Don't you think the suicide motif in the Wahab war-machine is mainly to work the mules, Rat? I mean, say the leadership did get ahold of the Paki nukes--are you saying that the nightmare of 'suicide-by-cop (oppo-nuke)' is a real worry?

1/09/2006 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Two quick points sandwiched in between 'sitting for the grandkids. Iraq the Model's assertion that Allawi now represents the Sunni strikes me as very odd, for he is a Shiite. A secular neo-Baathist who once hunted down Saddam's enemies in Europe sure, but still a Shiite. This is an enormous obstacle in representing the tribal social structures of the Sunni. We'll see.

Secondly, in terms of Iraq's "independence" let us not neglect some key facts of its very punctured sovereignty. The NYTimes reported on Christmas day that the US military is refusing to turn over Iraqi detainees to the Iraqi state for fear that they will be tortured. This story was picked up by the LA Times-Washington Post newservice as well. Any state in which a foreign army can detain its citizens indefinetely does not meet the minimal standards of "independence".

1/09/2006 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Evanston, regarding Zbig's Carterite pedigree, I would never believe a single word that came out of his mouth.

1/09/2006 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

In the previous thread I posted snip repeated below.
Since you didn't answer yet, and that's turned into the
Theology Thread,
perhaps you could answer here.
Rat asked:
"How about Osama or Dr Z, why won't the General President let US visit with them, either?"
Survival Instinct?
I've forgotten your plan for the Pakis.
...they simply scare me out of my wits.
Or at least them and their Nukes do.
As to SA and Iran, it seems to me SA is a slo mo project in progress, but every day Iran goes on is one less til a threshold is crossed.
...and that madman keeps making things easier for a coup.
I also posted the segregated sidewalks Fatah in the previous thread.

1/09/2006 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

The best thing about having everyone laying on the ground?

The first one to get up calls the shots. Initiative, it is a grand thing...

1/09/2006 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

Machines and military units need down time for maintenance. If tempo increases it can only be sustained if maintenance is increased or replacements are at hand. The crashes in Iran may be a reflection of increased tempo.

1/09/2006 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

I think Allawi would do fine with the Sunni’s because of his former Baathist credentials and, particularly, the fact that he has all the right stuff for a secular strongman like Saddam. If the Sunni’s had a choice between a secular or a religious Shiite, I suspect that they would choose the former. Sunni’s are too much a minority to be voted into the highest office. Arabs in general seem to like their leaders strong with lots of blood on their hands, Allawi can claim both.

As far as minimal standards of “independence” is concerned, I think what is meant by independence is that a state has all the faculties to stand on it’s own internationally. Not necessarily that they have some sense of morality. I can’t think of very many governments that do not practice torture with extreme prejudice outside of the West.

1/09/2006 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Annoy Mouse said...
As far as minimal standards of “independence” is concerned, I think what is meant by independence is that a state has all the faculties to stand on it’s own internationally. Not necessarily that they have some sense of morality. I can’t think of very many governments that do not practice torture with extreme prejudice outside of the West."

I think you might be misinterpreting the criteria for soveriegnty here. I'm not noting any moral value as a condition of independence, for that is not a factor in the least, but one of autonomous citizneship and legal authority. If we had a foreign army here on our soil in the United States and it had the power to detain our citizens without relinguishing them to our government, we, as a nation, would not meet the standards of state soveriegnty. Some of us might even consider that a sign of occupation. That is the present situation in Iraq in which the United States has deemed that the Iraqi state has forfeited its right to protect its own citizens. The US military has asserted that the Iraqi state can not "stand on its own" in this most vital regard. A claim of soveriegnty or "independence" under such a usurption of autonomy is simply ignorant of that chimerical field known as international law.

I think Allawi would do fine with the Sunni’s because of his former Baathist credentials and, particularly, the fact that he has all the right stuff for a secular strongman like Saddam. If the Sunni’s had a choice between a secular or a religious Shiite, I suspect that they would choose the former. Sunni’s are too much a minority to be voted into the highest office. Arabs in general seem to like their leaders strong with lots of blood on their hands, Allawi can claim both."

I suspect that they will only unite under one of their own. I am dubious of the chances that the Sunni will gather under any Shiite, whether secular or not, and think that the current negotiations with Allawi are probably a short-term strategem. The Sunni certainly were unwilling to engage in any meaningful dialogue with Allawi during the six months of his transitional rule, though much dialogue there was. Will the proud tribal sheiks and mullahs really agree to be representated by an apostate? I am skeptical, though it is possible.

1/09/2006 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"The US military has asserted that the Iraqi state can not 'stand on its own' in this most vital regard. A claim of soveriegnty or 'independence' under such a usurption of autonomy is simply ignorant of that chimerical field known as international law."

- reocon

The occupation, originally slated to end upon the seating of the new government this month, was extended through the authority of the UN until January of next year.

I don't think this was a wise decision, but there you have it.

1/09/2006 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

If the UN is involved, chimerical is a good word indeed! ;-)

1/09/2006 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Recon: Before Iraq The Model reported the Sunni support for Allawi, it was reported that a U.S Officer in Iraq had found that the Sunnis in his area had supported Allawi; he was seen as being secular. And if it turns to religion vs, religion, needless to say, they are lost. Secular Shiites are their only hope.

Relative to the Iranian plane crash. Anyone recall how just before Pakistan got more cooperative there was a plane crash that wiped out the most pro-Bin laden elements of their intellignce services?
Sure is curious....
... but probably "just another isolated incident...."

1/09/2006 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

If the aQ, Dr Z and if not dead of natural causes, Osama constitute a REAL threat, doug. I would disarm or destroy the Pakistani's nuclear capacity, by force if required.

Taking their nuclear capability with our Mean Green Fighting Machine. As soon as I had commandered the nukes I would have US depart Pakistan.

If for some reasons this was an impossible mission, a bridge to far so to speak, I'd destroy the weapons and all facilities from the air with our own devices, nuclear or not, as required.

That would deal with the Mohammedans current nuclear capacity, not the one the Iranian Mullahs long for, somewhere off in the future.
Another 'Slam Dunk' intelligence assessment will be forth coming, I'm sure.

After removing the Pakistani Nuclear Threat I would demand Iran disarm.
I believe our position with regards to nuclear proliferation would be improved.

Regardless of the Pakistani challenge,
I think the idea of the Iranian Presidient consolidating power in himself, as the primary strongman in Iran is interesting. It makes the situation even more dire.

Covert operations should be ongoing, if the President of Iran did not kill that General, we should have. The Palace intrique and rumors on the street serve our purpose.

Promote Civil Unrest within Iran, through proxies where and when possible. Spend money as needed.

I'd have Shah Jr set up a Government in Exile

and the Golden Chains heads on pikes.

Check the fallout patterns from the Iranian nuclear sites. Some say it drifts over the UAE and Kuwait, others disagree.

I'd end the War

But I'm not King,
and it's not a War, either.

1/09/2006 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Since we aren't at war, and in fact it is 9-10-01 for half the country and history DID end, shall we call it a "protracted struggle?"
I thought your previous Paki Plan was less "muscular," but memory does not serve.
Maybe it was run as if you weren't king?

1/09/2006 04:38:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Published at the onset of OIF, "Extremist, Nuclear Pakistan -An Emerging Threat?" by Subodh Atal (

Among the conclusions:

U.S. policy toward Pakistan has failed to
consider the cumulative dangers that nation
presents. America continues to pump billions
of dollars of aid into Pakistan, without
accounting for its fate. Few questions about
possible ISI links to the September 11
attacks, the organization’s role in sheltering
al-Qaeda, or Pakistan’s nuclear proliferation
activities have been asked, let alone answered.
U.S. policy appears to be frozen, concerned
only with the preservation of Pakistani dictator
Musharraf and overlooking the larger goal of
fortifying U.S. national security. Despite having
considerable leverage over Pakistan, U.S. officials
have given that country a free ride to continue
posing as an anti-terrorism ally. If
Musharraf is unwilling or unable to weed out al-
Qaeda from his nation’s territory, Pakistan is the
next logical theater of the anti-terrorism war.
That should also help bring to an end the need
for politically provocative U.S. bases in Pakistan.
The United States must develop contingency
plans for securing and extracting the Pakistani
nuclear arsenal in case of an Islamist coup. And
if Musharraf does not have full control over his
expanding nuclear assets, then the world may be
dealing with a nuclear rogue nation. President
Bush would then have a far greater problem
than a Saddam Hussein who might someday
possess nuclear weapons.

1/09/2006 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

thanks trish

you always know of the smart folk that agree with what I think.

cato institute, always thought those were smart fellas, 'fore I knew they agreed w/me.

the Iranian solution was less muscular
Guns and money, mostly.
Kurdistan lives, those kind of things. More Iranians visiting Iraq, that could be a plus.

The Pakistani Threat is much more real then the Iranian. The Pakis have already got their nuclear bombs, the Iranians do not.

1/09/2006 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Now, I personally think that no US administration is going to be inclined or able sell another major military intervention until our chain is yanked again pretty damn hard.

When it is - assuming it's the same cast of violent Islamists - will the correct target be chosen?

Just wondering.

1/09/2006 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger Zhang Fei said...

If Iraqi casualties get much worse, I have the feeling that they are going to kick Uncle Sam out and sort out the terrorists by themselves. Note that Saddam had no problem pacifying the opposition, and he did it with a base of 20% of the population - his Sunni coreligionists. He did it by going after entire tribes and killing entire families. My feeling is that if we continue micromanaging Iraqi security forces with respect to interrogation rules and habeas corpus, we are going to be shown the door before long. The result will be a bloodbath without Uncle Sam present as a referee. Not civil war, which is what is going on now - a conflict between factions of the same country - but what we saw in India between Muslims and Indians not too long ago - sectarian massacres involving ordinary people of one religion forming mobs and slaughtering every person of the rival religion in his town, and moving on to the next one.

1/09/2006 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

'Bin Laden ordered Israel strike':

In the latest statement, the speaker also criticizes the Sunni Arab-led Iraqi Islamic Party and its allies for entering into talks with Iraq's nascent government and U.S. officials, accusing the party of selling out Iraqis for a share of power.

"They are the ones who carried out the talks with Zalmay Khalilzad -- the American ambassador, the ruler of Iraq -- when he met with their representatives in the Green Zone before the elections, asking them to vote for the constitution and you will have what you want," the speaker says.

Bin Laden Ordered

1/09/2006 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"My feeling is that if we continue micromanaging Iraqi security forces with respect to interrogation rules and habeas corpus, we are going to be shown the door before long."

I think, despite all statements to the contrary, we'd like nothing more than to be "shown the door." Any door. If only.

1/09/2006 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

"One of our numerous enemies can doubtless be counted upon to change the subject before long.

Let's not forget Europe, bumbling towards its explosion. Now that's an Islamic bomb.


1/09/2006 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

...But far, far from being "shown the door" what we have is this (very apt summary of the situation provided by Strategic Forecasting, in Chester's latest post):

"(T)he Shia need the Americans to protect them from the Sunnis and the Iranians. The Sunnis need the Americans to protect them from the Shia. The Kurds need the Americans to protect them from the Turks (and the Sunnis)."

So. How much do WE "need" Iraq?

I think the UN "needs" it more, and it's past time to lay that out to Iraqi officials and the fine folks of the baby blue.

1/09/2006 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Oh, god ... NOT the UN! We're so very very close to killing it off for good.

That's all it'd need to get a new lease on life for the next 20 years. Along with demands for MUCH more money and MANY more staff to accomplish this hard job we'd be begging them to do for us.

No. I think we just need to tell the Iraqi's to grow up, and that it's been fun but we need to be moseyin' along, so what-ever they choose to do amongst themselves is fine and dandy by us. We've shown them how to do it, now it's up to them to demonstrate whether they're human or not.

And then proceed to keep ignoring and humiliating the UN whenever possible.

1/09/2006 07:30:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"Oh, god ... NOT the UN! We're so very very close to killing it off for good."

Killing it? Nancy, we went to war over Security Council violations. We are presently trying to get the SC to pass resolutions that we can wave at Iran.

Oh, yes...the UN.

If we were interested in killing it, we wouldn't have sent Mr. Bolton, who believes in UN reform and has much to say on the topic. The UN is a marginally useful institution for our purposes. Bolton's idea, essentially, is for contributor states to get their money's worth - a sort of fee-for-service proposal.

And what are WE paying for (other than those handy resolutions) if not the occasional baby-sitting service of UN forces? I'm certainly not an advocate of the UN, but if it can be used to our benefit - and it can in Iraq - then it ought to be.

1/09/2006 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

nahncee, not Nancy. Apologies.

1/09/2006 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Myron said...

Data from U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration @

United States mining fatalities in the last four years of the Clinton administration and the first four years of Bush's administration.

year 2004 - 54 fatalities
2003 - 56
2002 - 67
2001 - 72
Bush's administration
2000 - 85
1999 - 90
1998 - 87
1997 - 91
Clinton's administration

Liberals are trying to blame the Bush administration for the deaths of the 12 coal miners in West Virginia because they say Pres. Bush relax safety regulations but look at the numbers. Despite the fact that coal production is up in the mining industry now over 4 years ago (result of the boom in the energy sector) less people are dying.

I guess less regulation equal less deaths in mines.

1/09/2006 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger Brett L said...

Wretchard, DR, Doug, and other commentors:

Any of you believe Michael Ledeen's report on Osama being dead, truly and finally, of kidney disease?
Link Here

2nd question: He died about a month ago in Iran according to the report... any cause to believe that the current insurgency in Iraq, or the interesting events in Iran, are tied to his death?

1/09/2006 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger exguru said...

Iraq's national government is emerging now that the sunnis have joined the process. Allawi was trying to woo them even when he was in charge of the Provisional Govt. He knew they had to come over to solve the puzzle. They still need to get their hands on Zawahari in the worst way, and maybe with sunni help it will be soon. Remember, "the police recruitment drive was overwhelmed with sunni applicants," and Gen. Casey said that 1000 in line in Ramadi got right back in line after the bombs. With that kind of help they ought to get the lid on Zawahari soon. When they catch him they might tear him apart like wolves. Not likely they will turn him in for another farce like the Saddam trial.

1/09/2006 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger fuzzy said...

Wretchard, looks like you have a busted link on the blog main page. Your atom feed still points to the old blog.



1/09/2006 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger fuzzy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/09/2006 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Thanks for the link.
The first part of Ledeen's piece pretty well mirrors Wretchard's post, doesn't it.
I really have no idea about bin Laden, but I trust Ledeen, and he seems pretty sure, doesn't he?
Also don't know how it might be connected to recent events in Iraq and Iran, so I'm not much help, am I?
Maybe 'Rat can line it out for you.
(after he lines out "Get bin Laden" off his list of things to blame Bush for!;-)
Heck maybe he'll even give us the odds on how likely it is that old Osama has passed on to the Happy Screwing Grounds.

1/09/2006 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Editorial in Tuesday's NY Times re: UN reform. As usual, the Times is foaming at the mouth hysterical, however, this final paragraph is interesting in that it is diametrically the opposite of Trish's stated perception that Mr. Bolton is there to save that institution:

Although Ambassador Bolton has repeatedly made it clear that he has little use or respect for the United Nations and would be happy to see the United States walk away from it, we have never questioned his commitment to reform its most dysfunctional institutions. But his behavior on this issue leaves us questioning his judgment, and that of his bosses in the State Department and the White House.

1/09/2006 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Imagine there's no UN,
and no Ted Kennedy too,
no more Chuckie Schumer,
face turning shades of blue,
no Pinchie and his Crumby Paper...
What will progressives do?

1/09/2006 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...


1/09/2006 10:44:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Goodfellow said...

1914 or 1918? Or maybe somewhere in between. It's interesting to see that the folks who spent so much time berating the administration about "not having a plan after the invasion" in Iraq are the folks who are most likely, today, to be sitting with their fingers in their ears shouting "lalalala" trying to ignore the reality of the current situation and pretend that are plans or necessary for steering the future of the middle east in the right direction.

I think we have a prime opportunity here, a turning point (or tipping point, if you like) in the course of the middle east. We don't have the ability to transform it any way we like, but we have the opportunity to push it in certain directions. What we do in Iraq and what we do in regard to Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia will mean a lot in terms of whether the region will be freer, more prosperous, and (eventually) safer or whether the rot of islamist desperation will bring about, most likely, one or more new tragedies in the middle east (nuclear war, revived autocracy, who knows what).

1/09/2006 11:35:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"the folks who spent so much time berating the administration about 'not having a plan after the invasion' in Iraq are the folks who are most likely, today, to be sitting with their fingers in their ears shouting 'lalalala'"

Neither the administration nor the Pentagon laid out the plans; rather they laid out the objectives. The plans were and are up to the combatant commanders.

Just want to clarify.

1/09/2006 11:57:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Osama: Quiet as a Corpse:

Osama's ultimate demise would certainly be great news for this country — and the world. In fact, although no guarantee, proof of Osama's death just might be the beginning of the end of al Qaeda.

Which, of course, gives al Qaeda good reason to never admit it.

Quiet as a Corpse

1/10/2006 12:19:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

This entire War is about the 'New World Order' make no mistake about that.
The UN is a US construct, bred, birthed and funded by US. The first President Bush laid out the 'Vision' thing for the "NWO", the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Interesting idea, that Libya's nuclear program was really Saddam's, it was crap, regardless, a long way from fission. Only Dr Khan would know for sure. The General President of Pakistan will not allow US to interview the Doctor. Wonder why?

There have been multiple reports of Osama's death in the past. Except as a figurehead and a PR coup Osama himself is of little import. But as a figurehead he looms large, as to the Power of Mohammedan Perception, Osama is almost omnipotent. His premature death, of old age as it were, would be sad. We would lose the opportunity to kill him, publicly.

His death, never acknowledged by the Mohammedans, will give them another immortal. A Legend, living in the mountains, just beyond the next pass, ready to avenge the wrongs done his people. A bit like Che, but worse, since even the most cynical knew Che was dead.
Osama, though, will join the immortals, like Brando's portrayal of Zapata in southern Mexico or Zorro, in Dysney's Ole' LA.

1/10/2006 12:26:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

D. Rat, Sir... If its about the new world order, maybe we should read a 55-year-old book named, "Baha'u'llah and the New World Order"...

It says much about the present state of affairs, and says it more clearly than the Zbigniews and Allawis of today...

"From two ranks amonst mankind have I seized power... kings and ecclesiastics!"

"I have given power to the people.
The Lord of Hosts, the Glory of God

1/10/2006 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger Admin said...

Based on your recent analysis, I have come to see the situation as follows: America should have gone to Iraq with plans for a no-nonsense and bloody campaign to decisively destroy a major nexus of the fascist Islamic enemy (all the while keeping guns pointed at the neighbors if only to keep them cool). Instead, it went for “regime change” - hoping, if possible, to seed civil/government reform in the deal. Now it has come down to a federation of regions under the de facto control of Iran. This is nothing less than a major world disaster. It signals America's acquiesence to the destruction of the Jewish state. Such an event, perhaps 10, 15, 20 years from now, will surely signal the end of Christian Europe and the beginning of the end for America and the Anglo world as well. In this reading of events, Iran's call to obliviate Israel can be seen as a victory-over-America speech. The larger war will yet play itself out but I believe that without the Jews around, Christiandom will fall.

1/10/2006 09:37:00 PM  

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