Monday, April 03, 2006

Phase 2

Iraq the Model and Publius Pundit both describe the political struggle to form a unity government in Iraq. Publius Pundit describes the main problem: Jaarari and the possible ascension to power by  extremists that he represents.

The religious Shia UIA, which is the largest bloc in parliament, nominated Ibraham al-Jaafari as the candidate for prime minister. Being the largest bloc, they have the right to do so, but in order for him to win the position he must be approved by 66% vote by the entire assembly. Essentially this means that even though one bloc gets to pick the candidate, the choice must be agreeable to the rest of the Iraqi population at large so that one group does not dominate all the others.

However, every other party in parliament, including the two main Sunni parties, the Kurdish alliance, and the secular multi-confessional party led by Allawi disagree with Jaafari’s candidacy. Even more than that, the UIA faces splintering within its own party as Jaafari, who hails from the Dawa party, only won by a single vote due to the backing of the fundamentalist Sadrists. The SCIRI’s candidate for the UIA nomination, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, is popular with that half of alliance, including the many independents and smaller parties that make it up. He is also viewed as a moderate and a very acceptable choice for the premiership by the Sunni, Kurd, and secular blocs.

The sectarian killings over the last few weeks may have been perceived by the anti-Sadrists as a portent of fascism to come; that having nominated Jaafari by one vote, Sadrists may have felt their duty to the forms of democracy was done and that they were free to proceed with the regular course of tyranny unchecked. One man, one vote, one time.

The sectarian killings taking place on behalf of the Sadrists and other UIA affiliated militias are, in a sense, a threat to the others that Jaafari will become prime minister whether they like it or not. They want to keep power and will do anything it takes to keep it. This is why they have called the new Sunni-Kurd-secular umbrella group to bloc Jaafari’s nomination a coup. They have also asserted it to be Jaafari’s “right” to govern simply because they nominated him. This is why they no longer support America’s presence in the country — despite formerly being its staunchest supporters — because America no longer supports their monopoly on government.

The tension between Islamist factions and the rest of the political actors may  also explain why the recent raid on a Sadrist headquarters was perceived by the Sadrists as a direct intervention by US forces in their power grab. Publius Pundit believes Jaafari by himself cannot withstand the American pressure. The only hope for his backers is to up the ante.  "Now watch as Jaafari’s calls for Shia unity go unheard as real political pluralism and cooperation begin to unfold. The only problem now is what the isolated fundamentalist Shia will do with their militias once they lose power." Iraq the Model also suggests that the Islamic clerics would bring down the temple rather than surrender their prospects of an Islamic state. But he's not sure the clerics can pull it off.

Clerics like tyrants tend to bet on the 'street' and to have wrong estimations of how far this 'street' is willing to follow them in their fantasies; they think-just like Saddam convinced himself-that the people will explode like a raging volcano to fight for Allah and protect the faith but this is not true as history proven in more than an occasion and most of the 'soldiers' will seek shelter from harm except for a minority of enthusiasts (fanatics) who will fight until the last man.

I think the coming days will show a stiffer attitude on the end of the religious hardliners and this includes both Sunni and Shia and we will also be hearing more tense and inflammatory statements that will focus more on rejecting the American presence, not only in the form of the calls to deport or replace the ambassador like the ones we heard during Friday prayers but I'm afraid some clerics are preparing to declare Jihad as the American presence represent the major obstacle facing their dreams of a religious state.

Such declaration will no doubt find support from regional powers that are interested in seeing Iraq and America fail especially that America's failure in presenting a good example in Iraq will make America think a thousand time before trying to repeat the experiment anywhere else in the region. Some of those fanatics think this is the best time for them to seize the ground and move to next step of action and those do not put defeat in their considerations as death too is part of victory and there are more than a few verses in the Quran that makes them think this applies to them and that death or 'martyrdom' is another form of victory. Anyway, the white bearded old cleric will not feel anything for the death of the young he misleads, on the contrary, it is they who should be grateful for him for showing them the path to heaven.

Clerics are gathering and charging their followers with hatred to prepare them for a war; hatred towards anything that does not belong to their old school and this may also include provoking these followers against moderate politicians who will be denounced as cowards and betrayers of the faith.

At stake, therefore is not only the prestige of the Islamic clergy in Iraq but those of their international backers. Viewed properly, the political struggle in Iraq represents not only the rivalry between two ordinary political parties or candidates; it represents a fundamental constitutional question about which path the country will follow. In a new post, Iraq the Model updates his analysis and believes that a confrontation between the US and the fundamentalist Islamic clerics is becoming ever more likely.

On the other hand it seems that the radical elements have made up their mind to enter yet another confrontation, after putting redlines on some blocs and rejecting any discussion concerning replacing Jafari, today according to al-Arabiya TV, the Sadrists have issued a warning saying they will withdraw from the political process if Jafari is replaced by another candidate. By doing this, they are even opposing the majority opinion of the UIA as it's been made public that major powers inside the bloc gave Jafari a 3-day deadline as a last chance for him to try to convince the other blocs with his program and win their acceptance, otherwise he must step down. Of course this doesn't mean the Sadrists will withdraw to sit at home and watch others form a government but it means they will fight those who oppose their vision. In fact lately I've been hearing some Sdar followers say they predict a large-scale offensive to target Sadr city and the Mehdi Army soon and that the ranks of the Mehdi Army are kept at full alert to respond to any such offensive.

Commentary

The Strategy Page described the process through which first the Sunni insurgency was brought down.

After three years, the Sunni Arabs, who long dominated Iraq, most recently under the leadership of Saddam Hussein, are giving up. It took so long because of a quirk in Arab culture, one that encourages the support of lost causes. The term "cut your losses and move on" is not as popular in the Arab world as it is in the West. But even the slow learners in the Sunni Arab community had to finally confront some unfavorable trends. Chief among these was;

The Kurds and Shia Arabs have formed a national police force and army that is far more powerful than anything the Sunni Arab community can muster. Over the last year, Sunni Arabs realized that the police and army were in control of more and more Sunni Arab towns. This was a trend that could not be ignored. Added to that was the number of Kurds and Shia Arabs who had lost kin to Sunni Arab terror over the last three decades. Many of these people want revenge, and they all have guns. Many, especially those that belong to the police, or militias, are taking their revenge. The Sunni Arabs want protection, for they cannot muster enough guns to defend themselves. Now the Sunni Arabs want the Americans to stay, at least until there's some assurance that the Kurd and Shia Arab vengeance attacks have died down.

The alliance with al Qaeda was a disaster. These Islamic terrorists were obsessed with causing a civil war in Iraq, and they insisted on doing this by killing lots of Shia Arabs. The Sunni Arabs didn't want to kill lots of Shia Arabs, they wanted to rule them all once more. But that raised another contentious issue. While some Sunni Arabs were in favor of an Islam Republic, which al Qaeda insisted on, most Sunni Arabs wanted a more secular Sunni Arab dominated government. This dispute was never resolved, as the split between al Qaeda and the Sunni Arab community widened. At the moment, al Qaeda is not welcome in most Sunni Arab areas. That's "come near this place and we'll kill you" not welcome. This after al Qaeda tried to terrorize the Sunni Arab tribal leaders into compliance. Killing Sunni Arab tribal chiefs didn't work.

The BBC reports that a "leading Islamist" says Zarqawi has been replaced as the head of the insurgency, which lends collateral support to the Strategy Page analysis. The insurgency as an enterprise is not doing well, so they are restructuring the management.

Huthaifa Azzam, whose father was a mentor of Osama Bin Laden, said Zarqawi was replaced by an Iraqi two weeks ago. Mr Azzam claimed some were unhappy about Zarqawi's tactics and tendency to speak for the insurgency as a whole. However, experts say choosing an Iraqi as political leader is a tactic aimed at giving the insurgency an Iraqi face.

Michael Ware of Time Magazine has a contrary point of view. In an interview on March 22 said "Who’s winning from this war? Who is benefiting right now? Well, the main winners so far are al-Qaeda, which is stronger than it was before the invasion. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a nobody. Now he’s the superstar of international jihad." That may be wrong, but he also said, "And Iran, Iran essentially has a proxy government in place, a very, very friendly government. Its sphere of influence has expanded and any U.S. diplomat or seeing a military intelligence commander here, will tell you that. So that’s the big picture." Having discussed the fate of the Sunni insurgency, Ware's comment brings us to the second part of the equation: how the political confrontation with Iranian-backed proxies will fare.

In my own view, the Sunni insurgency is fundamentally finished. We have moved onto a second phase. The main effort now is the political struggle to form a unity government the principle roadblock to which is the desire by Islamist parties to monopolize power. This has led to a direct confrontation between the US and Iranian-backed elements within the Iraqi political scene as described by Publius Pundit and Iraq the Model and to a certain extent, by Michael Ware. While the coming confrontation will have violent aspects I don't believe it will be fundamentally military in character unless there is major foreign intervention. The religious militias do not seem to have the operational capability of the Sunni insurgents and have many powerful indigenous enemies. Any fight against them may well resemble a campaign against warlord armies and gangs and may be more politics than combat. That's my hope anyway.

Update

Austin Bay quotes Marc Ruel Gerecht on a possible roadmap for the political struggle.

We are now in the unenviable position of having to confront radicalized, murderous Shiite militias, who have gained broader Shiite support because of the Sunni-led violence and the lameness of U.S. counterinsurgency operations. The Bush administration would be wise not to postpone any longer what it should have already undertaken–securing Baghdad. This will be an enormously difficult task: Both Sunnis and Shiites will have to be confronted, but Sunni insurgents and brigands must be dealt with first to ensure America doesn’t lose the Shiite majority and the government doesn’t completely fall apart. Pacifying Baghdad will be politically convulsive and provide horrific film footage and skyrocketing body counts. But Iraq cannot heal itself so long as Baghdad remains a deadly place. And the U.S. media will never write many optimistic stories about Iraq if journalists fear going outside. To punt this undertaking down the road when the political dynamics might be better, and when the number of American soldiers in Iraq will surely be less, perhaps a lot less, is to invite disaster. The Iraqis and the Americans will either save or damn Iraq in the coming months. Quite contrary to the purblind charges of Michigan’s Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, the Iraqis really are doing their part–better than what anyone historically could have expected. The real question is, will Gen. Abizaid and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld do theirs?

Bill Roggio has more: A senior representative of SCIRI and confidant of Ayatollah Sistani calls for Jaafari to step down

152 Comments:

Blogger Tony said...

Wretchard, please expand on ITM's conjecture, and what it means in our future conduct of the Long War: America's failure in presenting a good example in Iraq will make America think a thousand time before trying to repeat the experiment anywhere else in the region.

Will we be going back to Clinton's Death from Above approach to war, as in Serbia and Op Desert Fox? The biggest threat to the overall GWoT is growing isolationism/anti-war sentiment here in the US. During the air wars of the 90's, there was no appreciable anti-war movement. Unless the democracy movement in Iraq suddenly takes on a healthy life of its own, I see ITM's statement as dependably prophetic.

4/03/2006 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

On March 17, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources in Baghdad revealed as a result of a discreet scan that almost 130 of the 275 candidates the Shiite Alliance posted for the December election were connected in some way or other with, or on the payroll of, the Iranian bodies pulling the wires of Iraqi politics from across the border.

Six Iraqi lawmakers elected on the United Iraqi Alliance ticket were identified as undercover “amid” officers – brigadier-generals - of the Iranian revolutionary guards and intelligence service. They used political fronts to disguise their undercover missions on behalf of the Islamic republic.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly reveals the names and functions of those six Iraqi politicians-cum-Iranian brigadier generals.

Abu Muchtabi Sari – former secretary general of the Iraqi Hizballah.

Abu Hassan Al Amari – the last commander of the Badr Force at its base in Iran.

Abu Mahdi al Muhandis – former Badr Force officer.

Rajah Alwan - former Badr Force officer.

Dager Moussawi – Head of the Lord of the Martyrs Movement, which Iran’s military intelligence established in the Shiite regions of central and southern Iraq. (Lord in the Shiite sense refers to the holy Imam Hussein)

Tahsin Aboudi – a high-ranking Iraqi interior ministry official, under which cover - and as an Iraqi member of parliament - he is aan undercover brigadier general of Iran’s external intelligence service, which is operated by the foreign ministry in Tehran.

Given the subversive nature of the high and mighty of Shiite politics, it is hardly surprising that obstacles are being piled up against the formation of a Shiite-led coalition government. The problem runs a lot deeper than sectarian disagreement over a prime minister. Most of the key players know exactly whom they are dealing with, behind the facades of Shiite Iraqi politicians and officials. Their resistance is not just focused on prime minister Jaafari, but aimed at thwarting the rise in Baghdad of a government that is a stooge of Iranian intelligence.
.
.
http://www.debka.com/article.php?aid=1155

4/03/2006 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Doug Santo said...

I was confused by this post. I guess that is appropriate because the political situation in Iraq also appears confusing right now. I think we have to wait to see trends that start developing. To track the the small scale infighting may not prove productive.

Michael Ware's statement that al-Quaeda is stronger because of the invasion is a misreading of the situation. Every time a terrorist makes a statement or commits another act of barbarity, a certain group trumpet the strength of the insurgency and claim America can never defeat the true believers.

American weapons, tactics, strategy, and soldiers can and will defeat the terrorist/insurgency. The political fight in Iraq, and to a lesser extent the US, is the crux. American diplomats must be the tip of the spear right now.

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

4/03/2006 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4/03/2006 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Tony,
The 90's huh?
I guess if you include Desert Storm one could argue, but I think it misses the bigger point:

They were Democrat wars.
More than that,
They were BUBBA'S WARS!
How could we not love that?

4/03/2006 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Mat,
1. Install a US Colonial Govt in Pakistan.
2. Install Musharoff in Baghdad!

4/03/2006 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Doug,
Install new management at the DoS. This info shouldn't be exclusive to Debka. I won't bother with a comment regards CNN, BBC, and the rest of the Entertainment Networks peddling themselves as NEWS organizations.

4/03/2006 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Brain fade: DoS?

4/03/2006 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

http://www.state.gov

4/03/2006 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

Wretchard,

From a few minutes of reading your blog, I can gain greater insight about political events than I could from listening or reading the MSM for days. Thanks! Why do people bother with the MSM?

4/03/2006 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Mat,
Full Blooded Americans (ahem) refer to it as the "State Dept."
---
Eggplant,
But then again, not everyone is a nightshade plant.
...or even an Israeli plant, as are some.

4/03/2006 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Doug,
Is that Hispanic for "Foggy Bottom"? An inquiring Pinus wants to know.

4/03/2006 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...

You can almost feel the situation teeter gently back and forth between stability and the abyss, just waiting for something to knock the end game in motion.

In my mind, the success of the entire enterprise comes down to divisions within the Shiite community.

If Sistani and the Sadrists remain in opposition, the any new Mehdi Army uprising may be doomed to failure, just like the last two in 2004.

If, however, the entire Shiite community unites behind the Islamic radicals, then our strategic position would be in extreme sudden jeopardy.

At present, the Sadrists must still overcome the Hawza, which represents the older, wealthier, and "quietist" Shiite establishment in Najaf and Karbala.

SCIRI's increasingly open opposition to Al Jafaari indicates that battle lines within the UIA may be hardening, not softening. SCIRI is of course is the political embodiment of the Hawza and the more satisfied Shiite classes.

In this scenario, the point of maximum danger is likely to occur when Moqtada al Sadr and his Iranian backers finally understand that Sistani won't rally to their side or knuckle under to their combined pressure.

At this moment Sadr's advisers will likely advocate a campaign of assassinations against the Hawza and other sectarian Shiite leaders.

This would be a wildly provocative move, and it's one the Iranians may not countenance. By all accounts, SCIRI and Tehran have close and cordial ties. Would Iran be willing to sacrifice one of its key instruments for the sake of another? Just how ruthless is Tehran prepared to be?

Well, the Najaf and Kerbala Brigades of the Al Qods Division have been on high alert status since mid-March. As the names of these units imply, their responsibility is to support, if not command, their surrogate militia forces in Iraq. The key question is who truly controls the loyalty of the Badr Organization, SCIRI's Iranian-backed militia: SCIRI or the Najaf Brigade?

I could go on, but I'd only belabor the point.

4/03/2006 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

- The complicated nature of Iraqi politics at this early stage of their newly formed government is a positive sign. Already, checks and balances begin to emerge as the various factions vie for power.

- Sometimes government gridlock provides opportunities for commerce that don't exist in a more stifling environment. Still, providing security is critical and lacking now in Bagdad.

- Thugs like Sadr and Jafaari will have an increasingly difficult time accumulating enough support to tyrannize their political opponents.

- Democracy is an amazing thing if it is given an opportunity to manifest itself.

- The Iraqi population is proving itself to be more politically savvy than almost anyone could have expected.

- Despite all the negatives in Iraq, there is still a glimmer of hope for Joe Iraqi that a government by and for the people will emerge.

4/03/2006 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Don't be Pinus Head!

4/03/2006 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"a"

4/03/2006 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"In this scenario, the point of maximum danger is likely to occur when Moqtada al Sadr and his Iranian backers finally understand that Sistani won't rally to their side or knuckle under to their combined pressure"
---
GWB should sent a note to the mad Mullahs informing them that they either get in line or watch themselves and their extended families turning into toast.

4/03/2006 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Mətušélaḥ said...
"discreet scan that almost 130 of the 275 candidates the Shiite Alliance posted for the December election were connected in some way or other with, or on the payroll of, the Iranian bodies pulling the wires of Iraqi politics from across the border."

wet ops....

time to play "turnabout"

4/03/2006 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

FFE said...

"You can almost feel the situation teeter gently back and forth between stability and the abyss, just waiting for something to knock the end game in motion... In this scenario, the point of maximum danger is likely to occur when Moqtada al Sadr and his Iranian backers finally understand that Sistani won't rally to their side or knuckle under to their combined pressure. At this moment Sadr's advisers will likely advocate a campaign of assassinations against the Hawza and other sectarian Shiite leaders."

Murdering Sistani is al Sadr's obvious next move. Certainly al Sadr has no love for Sistani since it was Sistani who blocked al Sadr's earlier attempt to take Najaf. Al Sadr himself has almost out-lived his usefulness....

Intrigue within intrigue within intrigue. Don't you love the Middle East?

4/03/2006 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Doug,
Twaz just a little Conehead humor. :)

4/03/2006 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger crosspatch said...

I think you are correct in that we are seeing a rebalancing of power where the Shiia are going to be less dominant than they had been. The reason for this is simple: In the previous interim government, the Sunnis decided not to play a role. The balance of power was basically the ratio of Shiia votes to Kurd votes. Now that the Sunnis have decided to become involved, their share of power is mostly carved out of the Shiia part of the pie. While in the previous government, without Sunni participation, 2/3 majority of Shiites was guaranteed, this is no longer the case.

The most fundamentalist will be the ones who are both most likely to lose standing as the need for a unity government becomes obvious, they are also the ones who would most fiercly resist the loss of this standing. In other words, some amount of friction is unavoidable. The degree to which things heat up is going to depend on people like al-Sistani who have the respect of people such as al-Sadr. Going against al-Sistani might give al-Sadr some temorary backing among the most extreme elements but would be long-term political suicide.

My guess is that the next three weeks, and the next one week in particular, are crucial.

4/03/2006 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...

Egg Plant, I do, though I must admit the Middle East is very much an acquired taste post-9/11, if you know what I mean. Never Forget: Arab political culture is, and will remain, astonishingly ruthless by American standards for quite some time.

4/03/2006 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

It's too bad that the Iranians don't believe in the old testament. That David (Iranian navy) vs Goliath (US Navy) thing could have quite a recruiting value for a while.

Test that cavitation special boys. Send that message to the Great Satan.

4/03/2006 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Mat, twat was that?
---
Finally!
Rush had a sister of one of the pilots on.

4/03/2006 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

There is no longer a problem in Iraq that can be solved by the US military. There is a severe internal political problem in Iraq and a less lethal, but equally difficult political problem in the US.

1. The Problem of Timing. The US public has a difficult time supporting a long military process it does not understand. Iraq has a difficult time supporting anything that has not proved itself with a lot of time. There is not enough time to keep America engaged and not enough time to convince Iraq that America will stay.

2. Credibility. The US public supported the defeat of the Nazis. It supported the Cold War for over forty years. It did so because Churchill and Roosevelt were articulate and ruthless in the definition of the enemy. There was no nonsense about Nazism being a "hijacked peaceful political system." Bush had been a catastrophic failure at defining the enemy and the objective in a credible and honest fashion. Does anyone in the Belmont Club believe " Islam is a peaceful religion?" Neither do the American people. They know it is BS and they wonder what else is. Listen to the speeches of Churchill and Roosevelt. They believed what they said and could articulate what they thought. Bush has not served his own cause.

3. Value of The Mission. If the Iraqis will not stand up and fight their own fight, one has to ask what do they believe in? Should Americans be more willing to fight and die and pay for something that the Iraqis will not? The majority of Americans have come to the conclusion that the fight and even a win are not worth it. Is the mission understandable and is it worth it? The majority thinks not.

4. Changing Events and Priorities. Many Americans have become convinced there are other countries and threats to US interest as important or more so than Iraq. They include:

a. A nuclear Iran.
b. Out of control illegal immigration.
c. Chinese expansion.
d. Putin and a resurgent Russian Empire.
e. Pakistan and unrest in the western tribal areas.
f. Afghanistan and problems with narco-terrorism
and a resurgent Taliban.
g. The failure to catch OBL.
h. A nuclear North Korea.
i. US dependence on foreign oil.

Timing is everything in politics, romance and foreign ventures. The best opportunities in Iraq were missed and misplayed. It is time to get competent leadership, redefine a sensible and achievable strategy and be frank and honest with the American people.

4/03/2006 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Excellent post again, 2164th!
RoP
and
"All of them are good hard working Americans, taking jobs Americans WON'T do."
---
Two Cracked Pots, and the one Made in Mexico is being shoved down our throat, or up the other end, perhaps.
---
A guy with a heavy accent on Savage who said he knew from dealing with them, that your "ruthlessness" was job one in Iraq.
Any sign of weakness immediately brings them on like wolves.

4/03/2006 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

FFE said...

"I do, though I must admit the Middle East is very much an acquired taste post-9/11, if you know what I mean. Never Forget: Arab political culture is, and will remain, astonishingly ruthless by American standards for quite some time."

A zillion years ago I did a solo tour of Egypt. I went there mainly to see the pharonic things (which did live up to their reputation). However while I was there I discovered Islamic culture. The medieval madrassas (Qaitbay and Barquq) out past Cairo's city walls were amazing! Arabs really are interesting people and I genuinely like them. I hope this terrorism stuff calms down because it would be nice to take the family there.

4/03/2006 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

" I hope this terrorism stuff calms down..."
---
Understatement of the Solanaceae Order.

4/03/2006 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Doug,
Indeed, twat was that. Me got some Q tips for that Johnson wax.

4/03/2006 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Eggplant, you deserve a long life for compassion and optimism. And thank you Doug for your kind words.

4/03/2006 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

2164,
Name one instant when Churchill spoke against the Soviets during WW2.

4/03/2006 07:30:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Eggplant,

Lived there (Egypt) for a spell. Dumyat, on the Med coast with our Egypt HQ in Cairo (Heliopolis really). The people were great, give you the shirt off their backs if you needed it. The one thing I noticed while there that surprised me was the level of poverty and the ever-present army with AK-47s "keeping the peace". "Keeping the peace consisted of driving the poor people away from civilization as far as I could tell.

4/03/2006 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Also BTW, the cliche of - "you haven't seen poverty until you go to the ME" is as true as the day is long. Mexico doesn't come close..

4/03/2006 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in some cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow. Athens alone -- Greece with its immortal glories -- is free to decide its future at an election under British, American and French observation. The Russian-dominated Polish Government has been encouraged to make enormous and wrongful inroads upon Germany, and mass expulsions of millions of Germans on a scale grievous and undreamed-of are now taking place. The Communist parties, which were very small in all these Eastern States of Europe, have been raised to pre-eminence and power far beyond their numbers and are seeking everywhere to obtain totalitarian control. Police governments are prevailing in nearly every case, and so far, except in Czechoslovakia, there is no true democracy"..Winston Churchill at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri on March 5, 1946

4/03/2006 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Guys, the job was never going to be as easy as a lot of people thought two years ago; and it's, possibly, not going to be quite as impossible as some think, now. Although it might be "Bloody" as hell for a month, or so, Iraq might be boring to the point of being completely off the radar in a few months.

One other thing: All Christians aren't Fundamentalists. I've got a hunch all Muslims aren't either. After one side, or the other (probably the Sadrists,) is defeated and we've had the obligatory blood-letting we might all be surprised at how it all settles down. We can hope, anyway.

4/03/2006 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

After the war there was the Iron Curtain Speech

4/03/2006 07:42:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

"It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." —British Prime Minister Winston Churchill speaking about Russia in 1939

4/03/2006 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

""Keeping the peace consisted of driving the poor people away from civilization as far as I could tell."
---
Fox just drives 'em north, into the welcoming arms of the "conservative" WSJ/Socialist/Corrupt-Business crowd, to deal off on the lazy Americans who WON'T do an honest days work.

4/03/2006 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

2164,
That can equally describe a McDonalds burger.

4/03/2006 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Winston Churchill gave that speech during a period when the Europeans discovered the best way to keep the Marshall Plan money coming was to talk about "Communism." England damned near "Froze" to death that winter. The idjit Keynesians decided they should sell their coal in deference to their "Trade Imbalance." As a result of exporting coal, their higher-value exporting industries couldn't produce. Idiocy.

Anyway, it was a "Cold War" speech, WWII ended in 1945. Churchill never made any "Public" statements, during the world war, of a derogatory nature about Stalin. Privately, they say he could peel the paint off the walls.

4/03/2006 07:52:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

danmyers,
Later, the JFK Speeches:
"Bear any Burden, Pay Any Price"
(except for an extra quarter for Lettuce, to bring it up do date.)

4/03/2006 07:52:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

7:50 PM,
Showing that off-centrism side of yours, Pinus Head.
(What I meant to say before was:
That twas TWAT?)

4/03/2006 07:55:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

In point of fact, Churchill was not fond of Russia, Churchill did subscribe to the wisdom in "The enemy of of enemy is my friend." Churchill, like many great men had many flaws, cutting his nose to spite his face was not one of them. He was determined to focus on the common enemy, Nazism which he discribed as "the deadly, drilled, docile, brutish masses of the Hun soldiery plodding on like a swarm of crawling locusts".Compare that to George Bush defining 'Islam as a religion of peace".

4/03/2006 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Mətušélaḥ is that with or without cheese?

4/03/2006 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"crawling locusts"
That woulda Terrified Eggplant!

4/03/2006 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Mat,
Savage said some of the blonde Jews were the result of raped young Jewish girls who always raised their children when continued life made that possible.
---
True?
God, the Hybrid Vigor!
(I love her for her Brains!)

4/03/2006 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

It is true that there was little heard from Churchill being critical of Stalin. Churchill was single minded in saving Britain and focusing on the Nazis. If that meant inducing the Americans and defering to the Soviets, so be it. We was often criticised for not being critical of Stalin. He once responded to some of his crtics" with humor, "If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favourable reference to the Devil".





BBC reports 'Tom Delay not Running".

4/03/2006 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

2164,
Cheese? Is that what they named it. Mark one for US diplomacy. Should keep the French happy. Doug just likes the smell of cheese.

4/03/2006 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"He once responded to some of his crtics" with humor,"
---
There was no shortage of that with Winston:
To wit: Your example.
...just too witty, Winston was.

4/03/2006 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

After three glasses of cabernet, I find it irksome to use spell checking. My apologies.

4/03/2006 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

8:12 PM,
My Jewish Cardiologist made me swear off of it.
(just a whiff, Doc, Ok?)
---
Code word: lox

4/03/2006 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

I don't suppose it's possible that a few Aryan boys fell in love with Jewish girls, and converted to Judaism? I'm sure such a thing coudn't happen in a period as short as a couple of thousand years. Nah ..

4/03/2006 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

rufus,
Always the oppo:
So what?
Answer the Question!

4/03/2006 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Master Race X Master Race

4/03/2006 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Doug,
You now trying to call me a Mongrel?!! I'll have you know I'm 100% Kosher certified. I even get first dibs on reading the Torah, being a Cohen (High Priest) and all.

4/03/2006 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Nah, sometimes your Nazi side shows a bit tho.
oops, that's Larsen describing ME!

4/03/2006 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Anybody who does not turn to the East Six times a Day and Salute the WSJ Building is a Nazi!

4/03/2006 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

"Fox just drives 'em north, into the welcoming arms of the "conservative" WSJ/Socialist/Corrupt-Business crowd, to deal off on the lazy Americans who WON'T do an honest days work." - Doug
____________________________________

That statement wasn't dripping with contempt was it Doug? LOL But seriously, I think Doug has the premise correct. Global politics never change, just change form. As enlightened as we perceive ourselves to be, all it takes is an Iraq, a 9-11, [place global shaking event here] to have the world show their true colors. Move 'em out while they aren't looking. Look at the Palestinians.

4/03/2006 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

On a more serious note, has anyone in the Bush Administartion noticed what is happening in South America while we are making the world safe for Shia? Venezuela, Bolivia and Peru have made a sharp leftward shift. Columbia is worse. Nicaragua unstable and Brazil, Argentina and Chile have shifted left. I guess it is no real problem. We have the Southern US border locked down. It certainly is not as porous as say the Syrian Iraq border. We should not worry about future waves of refugees do you think?

4/03/2006 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Great, now I'm a god damn Socialist!
I think I like Pinus Head more and more now.

4/03/2006 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

You could just tan up good and join the
New Socialist Workers Party here:
Work all Day for 3 Bucks.

4/03/2006 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

2164th 8:29 PM,
---
Desert Rat was doing a pretty good job of updating us on that, don't know if you saw any of those, or where he's gone.
He served in Panama for Reagan.
(and the rest of us, of course)

4/03/2006 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

What question would that be, Doug?

4/03/2006 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

That would really make me a Pinus Head, wouldn't it?

4/03/2006 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

I did a little work in the area myself, I would enjoy reading Rat's take.

4/03/2006 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

rufus,
Mat already answered it, in person!
The one about the master race cross.

4/03/2006 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Yeah, Bring back the 'Rat.
Last seen at Roggio's.
(and the archives here, of course, but you have to weed through mat's duff.)
---
Time for me to stop this nonsense, wish yourselves luck.

4/03/2006 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Scarier yet Mətušélaḥ,
it is an anagram for "Hide Anus P", which may or may not have cryptological significance

4/03/2006 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

2164
Oh it does. I already told you Doug has a fetish for the smell of cheese.

4/03/2006 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

i will find something excrutiatingly boring on c-span so I can sleep. Niteawl !

4/03/2006 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

One to midnight here. Time to go poof.

4/03/2006 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

DanMyers said...

"Lived there (Egypt) for a spell... The one thing I noticed while there that surprised me was the level of poverty and the ever-present army with AK-47s "keeping the peace"."

When I was in Cairo, it seemed like there were "policemen" on almost every street corner holding AK-47s with fixed bayonets. I really dislike having someone point an automatic weapon at me.

The poverty around Cairo was heart breaking. Almost everyone was hustling for baksheesh. A funny thing about the locals though: They'd give you the full court tourist hustle and nothing said in English would make them stop. However if I simply said "La Shokran" (No thank you), they'd leave me alone and bother the other tourists. It really helps to know a little bit of Arabic.

4/03/2006 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Arrest Sadr - the warrant pre-text if you have to - and hit Sadr's army. If you hit the army hard enough, the other parties will feel comfortable rising against or better backing away and allowing the "Iraqi Army" to do its job defending the Constitution. I wonder whether this wasn't the anticipated conflict from the beginning. God knows I've had no idea what Bush & Co. were doing leaving Sadr alive even since he first declared a rival sovereignty. Hitting him then, spending the awe-capital so hard upon our sudden victory, would have declared a boundary that would have funneled much of this off into the political process. When people speak of "all the mistakes in Iraq," I actually believe this is the only one. If they've been waiting for a more mature political context, one in which Sadr's threat to the country is obvious, now's their chance: they should not blow this one, because this is the 11th hour. Iraq the Model's posts are deeply troubling. We are the only force that can save this, and this is the move to make. Besides, with Sadr, it's either now or 3, 5, 10 years from now, Period. This his 3rd attempt at a coup d'etat. Enough.

4/03/2006 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

I agree Dan. I thought at the time that leaving Al Sadr alive was a very large mistake. It's just that we're fighting with BOTH hands tied behind our back in this environment.

This deal has turned all of us into bi-polar idiots. It's bad enough "sweating" a real Democracy. Trying to make heads or tails out of a culture as diametrically opposite as this one will turn us all into paranoid maniacs before it's over.

4/03/2006 09:54:00 PM  
Blogger PD Quig said...

I'll agree that there have been fewer 'mistakes' than there have been unknown unknowns, but it is pretty hard to consider backing down in Fallujah in April '04 not to be a mistake.

4/03/2006 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"It's just that we're fighting with BOTH hands tied behind our back in this environment."

If you've got both hands tied behind your back, you're not fighting. You may be doing a number of things, but fighting's not one of them.

I'll repost a comment from last week:

"We need for them to kill the bastards themselves. Not our fight anymore. (We need) the civilians to stand up and take control of their country...I guess they are waiting for a savior."

4/03/2006 11:06:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

A 9:17 AM post by Andy McCarthy over at The Corner yesterday began an interesting if brief exchange of thoughts related to Gerecht's article.

4/03/2006 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Incidentally, a month or so ago McCarthy had an NR piece that discussed the potential for success when fighting with one hand tied behind one's back - as well as the possibility of both hands being tied - bringing to my mind the Black Knight in Monty Python's The Holy Grail. "I'll bite your legs off!"

4/03/2006 11:49:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

And...

Fareed Zakaria has a good piece in today's WaPo. "To Become an American."

4/04/2006 12:04:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

pd - maybe so; I agree. but the foreign terrorists, which I understood/and the fallujah I folks to've been, have turned out to be a primarily military pressure, relieved by military engagement and minor political effort, and by their own fanatical incompetence. Sadr showed his effectiveness from the beginning. A rebel who manages to take over a few towns simultaneously and force the absurdity of some of our rules of engagement into the open, and who provides a different kind of PR for the soft '68er morons in the MSM, is someone that needs to be made an example of. You can't force a disintegrated army formerly reflecting the fascist pre-war power structure back into being, much less into a competence that never existed. The failure here is with some bold moves, based on the same kind of Arab calculations that make every meeting of the Arab League a farce and have delivered that region to the global trough. As Sadr displays, as the Sunni displayed in their 11th hour crap with the Constitution and other phases, as Sadr/Dawa show now within the UIA, l'audace is the only thing that gets anything done there.

I just heard on NPR, and it seems reasonable, that an inter-Shia conflict is as likely to start a full civil war as a Salafi-everyone or Sunni-Shia conflict. So they have to figure this out. But this government is starting to feel like Weimar, when you read about that period, and something must be done. Moqtada al-Sadr must be made an exmaple of and removed from politics, one way or another, however. There is no alternative. From a rival sovereign upstart troll to a rebel with an army, twice, to a member of parliament and Iranian puppet to - almost - a kingmaker: the next quasi-victory will be the worst. What are the powers of the President under the Constitution? Which group runs the Defense Ministry, if only provisionally? What are the loyalties of the police? How deeply have Sadr/Dawa agents penetrated the Army? This is when the quality of intel will show. Some believe a civil war will let the necessary blood for a reasonable approach to consolidation begin. I wouldn't be so sure. This is Araby, after all. I guess I have to concede that more US troops, at the beginning or some other point along the way, might have been able to prevent these militias from forming as deeply as they have. Still an open question, but when fantasizing about a US/Iraqi ambush of the Mahdi Army and the resulting opportunism by all groups against all, it sure would be nice to imagine more troops investing more places. In any case, it's past time to get creative and flex our muscle. We will get the gratitude of enough other Iraqis to hold it together. Remember the reaction of the native Najafis when Sadr imposed his Sharia there? They hated the guy, and thanked us even though the damage was reasonably heavy. Anyway, these're my thoughts lately. Who knows.

4/04/2006 06:02:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

" From a rival sovereign upstart troll to a rebel with an army, twice, to a member of parliament and Iranian puppet to - almost - a kingmaker: the next quasi-victory will be the worst."
---
Puts Hitler's Timeline to Shame.

4/04/2006 06:26:00 AM  
Blogger Papa Bear said...

Seems like the ideal targets include the radical clerics.

There will be struggles for control among the various leadership elements (tribal chiefs, clerics, etc). If al-Sadr's group wins primacy, then Iraq will be turned into an Iran-style mullahcracy, and any power-rivals to the clerics will be suppressed.

4/04/2006 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Andy McCarthy (corner)
"I am not a student of military history, so please understand that I do not mean this as a flippant or rhetorical question. Is it common to try to strike a final political solution under circumstances where the enemy hasn't been defeated yet, hasn't surrendered, hasn't sought a truce, and is still fighting to win? If the answer to that question is "no," then aren't we putting the cart before the horse if we are allowing the local politics to exert too much influence over combat operations?"

4/04/2006 06:41:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

As Good as it Gets:
Turns out, Fox was it.
The next guy running for president makes Fox look like a Pro-American Conservative, and is getting huge support from Hugo Chavez.

4/04/2006 06:50:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4/04/2006 07:16:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Headline You'll Never See:
McKinney not Wearing Her Pin

The 51-year-old McKinney scuffled with a police officer on March 29 when she entered a House office building without her identifying lapel pin and did not stop when asked. Several police sources said the officer, who was not identified, asked her three times to stop. When she kept going, he placed a hand somewhere on her and she hit him, according to the officials.

4/04/2006 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Trish,
re: Fareed Zakaria
Good for WHAT?
You're for importing sub high-school graduates who rally with the Mexican Flag to show their patriotism?
Who fill our prisons.
Who form our largest gangs?

"La Raza" is the LARGEST "Hispanic" organization in this country:
Should we encourage the KKK to become the next largest?
(Have at it Bud: I'm a Nazi and all the rest of the labels that you "Conservatives" have learned paste on us who proclaim the FACTS.)

4/04/2006 07:32:00 AM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

In Cairo, they have been hustling for baksheesh since long before the innocent Mark Twain was abroad.

4/04/2006 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

wretchard quoted:

"Now watch as Jaafari’s calls for Shia unity go unheard as real political pluralism and cooperation begin to unfold. The only problem now is what the isolated fundamentalist Shia will do with their militias once they lose power."

It could go either way: either they cooperate or they keep fighting. In Lebanon the various factions kept fighting for a long time. What indicators do you see that prompts you to believe that they will choose cooperation over righteous confrontation? The Sunni insurgency seems to burble along, just another faction willing to allow the US to fight for them and if the US doesn't fight for them then they'll fight the occupier...or do both at the same time. Where is US interest in all this?

4/04/2006 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

"re: Fareed Zakaria
Good for WHAT?"

Putting a little immigration sunshine into your morning, Doug.

OTOH: A long-time friend of the family, a devout Leftie, wrote a letter to the DLC last week letting them know that she will support neither a candidate nor a Party that advocates amnesty. Period.

*********************************

I recall being told two years ago, dan, that if civil war commenced, it was more likely to begin with a Shia split.

4/04/2006 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

Perhaps Iraqi parliatmentarians must betray their leaders, or else Iraqi "democracy" will never be better than that of Lebanon.

4/04/2006 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

dan:

Sadr needs to be corralled, of that there is no doubt. There are literally hundreds of "religious" leaders of the Isalmic persuasion that need like treatment. They are the ones fomenting violence, duping their followers, putting them and others at risk. I can't think of a better person to "use as an example".

The larger problem is an Iraqi constitution that recognizes Islam as the state religion. Thus putting power in the hands of men who claim their purposes to be the will of Allah.

Without a separation, thereby keeping the influence & authority of the state out of the hands of these madmen, the task of controlling the mad mullahs becomes gopher smash.

4/04/2006 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

What does the Iraqi constitution have to say about militias? I do recall that "regional defense forces" are legit, and do not fall under the authority of the govt in Baghdad.

4/04/2006 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I'm not sure about the problem with the inclusion of Islam in the Constitution. It strikes me as inexorable, in the sense that opposing its inclusion is arguably too radical a move for the country. The key, in my opinion, is to build institutions that allow the potential for Islam to be rendered largely a symbolic basis for decisions. In my opinion, given the habits of the culture, Islam provides answers to questions we probably would not to have legislated - e.g. is it haram to chew gum and pick your nose at the same time? Since we'll be eliminating the impulse to religious police, hopefully, when we draw and quarter Sadr on al Jazeera, that issue is unlikley to make its way to a court. Besides, how psycho would the clerics go if we just imposed a categorical No Islam? Answer: psycho. This whole Islam problem is a longer term deal than standing up workable democracy-tending institutions. Maybe if we start mocking them that "even those hillbilly Afghans are beating you into modernity, ye morons," they'd take that to heart. We have to figure out how to use these spoiled-brat cultural impulses to our advantage. C'mon, parents: how's it done.

4/04/2006 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger skipsailing said...

Well Ash, I can think of two present reasons and one future reason.

In the present: the US military and emerging Iraqi army.

In the future, an effective Iraqi police force.

4/04/2006 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

There's a pretty good defense of administration's tactics, by a staff guy, here. Yep, it's pretty broad-brush, but does make a case for a long perspective.

4/04/2006 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

Excellent article, Buddy. It seems like a lot of people need a vacation. Middle East "Politics" can be nerve-wracking.

4/04/2006 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Buddy, thanks for the link and I read the article. While I would agree with Mr. Wehner that it is desirable to "...change the Arab Middle East." and that "Democracy and the accompanying rise of political and civic institutions are the only route to a better world" but I would disagree with the notion that invading and occupying Iraq is a good (or even possible) means of acheiving this goal.

Assume, for the sake of argument, that a 1 party system would be a better means of conducting democracy then our 2 party system. Would the Chinese enhance the chance of your accepting this notion by invading and occupying America or would that hinder your chances of entertaining that idea?

4/04/2006 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

If some dictator and his sons were running an hereditary tyranny out of DC, and among other things creating a share of global terrorism aimed primarily at the destruction of the Chinese people, then the answer is "yes", Ash.

Context, my friend, context. There is a realty outside our cleverest verbal formulations.

4/04/2006 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

And outside of the busy trade in new and existing home sales inside that realty, there is a "reality".

4/04/2006 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Hey, Rufus, that might've been another Freudian Slip--you know, keep getting attacked, keep getting encroached, and in 50 years the USA as 'realty' is as hot a market as Sudan.

4/04/2006 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Hot? As in nuclear fallout, "Hot?"

They just keep on coming!

4/04/2006 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Ash - except assuming that a 1 party system would, for purposes of increased democracy, be an improvement over a 2 party system is sort of incoherent. democracy presumes a degree of pluralism that a one-party system always already precludes. "one party" is a euphamism dictatorship.

And no I'm not referring to a temporary situation in which one party renders itself incoherent and unelectable and so - mirabile dictu! - can't get itself elected. My dad's paranoid certainties that Bush is going to call in the 101st airborne and grant himself dictatorial emergency powers in
'08 or '09 notwithstanding. In fact, the Chinese successfully invading USA is probably the only way a one-party state could be set up here, so I guess I'd have to answer your question: Yes. (though it wasn't addressed to me)

4/04/2006 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

While this thread's topic is Iraqi politics, that's sort of like talking about the beaches and roads on Guadalcanal, there's gonna be a lot more to follow. Here's an article that lays out the larger war, making clear that Iraq is not an "unnecessary war" but more like the Guadalcanal of a long Pacific Campaign-style war:
Islam’s Imperial Dreams

----------------

In that larger war, Iran's recent claims of a stealthy, ballistic missile ARE barbra streisand. From ThreatWatch: "Minister Konstantin Kosachyov, the chairman of the Russian State Duma International Affairs Committee, also cast doubt on the wild (and vague) claims made by the Iranians regarding last week’s missile test announcement. “So far we have nothing except the assertion by the Iranian military and by politicians that it is superior to other similar missiles, but I see no reason to believe these statements.”

Patriot, Standard and Arrow should be able to handle these, unless they do that cool trick the Iraqi Scuds did years ago, and break up in flight.

4/04/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Dan, it is not a limb that I would want to walk very far out on, but a 1 party system could be considered 'more democratic' in that each representative would simply represent his/her consituents and not have to cast votes based on partisan posturing but rather on the issues alone. A one party system could also be construed as a no party system.

Buddy, your argument seems to revolve around removing a tyrant as opposed to Wehner's install a democracy argument.

4/04/2006 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Ash, how to build a democracy while the tyrant is still in charge?

4/04/2006 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Ash, I sent in a comment to that Wehner essay, which they posted.

That's my feeling on it. A hot potato is damned hard to hold onto, but if you toss it in the dumpster, you may soon be sorry, assuming you had some reason to bake it in the first place.

4/04/2006 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4/04/2006 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Buddy, it is a challenge. Romania, Poland and Ukraine are a few examples of people rising up. Trying to get democracy up and running from 'outside' is certainly an even tougher nut to crack. I would suggest that international institutions like the ICC, if further developed and given teeth, could be a better way to deal with genocidal tyrants then America going it alone...ok, ok, they had a small coalition. I wish I had an easy answer for encouraging folks to nurture democracy reined in by a bill of rights. Clearly the idea of voting is a widely popular activity in Iraq but an understanding of limits on power of those who 'win' doesn't seem to have taken hold.

4/04/2006 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger skipsailing said...

Ash, is your 1:46 posting a glimpse at your fall back position?

Are you know retreating from the POV that says promoting democracy is, in and of itself, wrong to a position that says "well, it's ok to promote democracy as long as America doesn't do it."?

What is diagnostic about your post is the inclusion of ICC. By intimating that this organization could somehow do a better job of helping the ME transition from slavery to freedom are you showing an anti american bias?

It sure seems that way to this reader.

4/04/2006 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

It's key, tho, Ash, that "going it alone" *before* trying, and being rebuffed by many counter-interests including the frankly criminal, is a whole differnt animal than just going it alone from the get-go, out of cowboy hubris. The former is much closer to the reality of the situation than the latter.

Maybe as we get closer to 2008, and it becomes less needful for the out-party to discredit a (lame-duck) incumbent, the national debate can come closer to right action on world-historical issues, having become able to finally drop the domestic-politics propaganda--the creating of secondary reality--in favor of actual analysis of primary reality.

4/04/2006 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

A one party system could also be construed as a no party system --or a 300,000,000 party system.

4/04/2006 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

With two parties (and two only, not one nor three) politics, which is a lesser-of-two-evils proposition, becomes coherent, as millions of individual "parties" align with their own lesser of two evils, and must compromise, coordinate and communicate within that party, in order to win the leadership job.

So, the nature of the thing is replicated in all its fractals, just like Nature does it in creating new beings.

You compromise with your own nature, take the compromised creation to the party of like compromises.

Then when one side wins, the other side is back with its own human nature, with time, before the next regularly-scheduled replay, to ponder why it didn't win.

All compromise, all the time. It's how to clear the jungle, and build the shining city on the hill.

4/04/2006 02:24:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

In the USA, the two main parties struggle mightily to win the votes of the majority category of voters: registered Independents.

4/04/2006 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I read that Israel shot a few missiles at Abbas's Presidential Compound today. Seems like a strange target.

Sigh. Y'know, life would be a lot more interesting & gratifying if we'd just declare War-War on these guys and kill em where they live and let em struggle like microbes against Deus ex Machina. This having to play this pissant shifty-eyed ululating game with people for whom weakness is a weapon, perfectly happy to live in their own feces and kill each other over the scraps from Longshanks' table is just, I don't know, kind of embarrassing.

4/04/2006 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

It occurs that Iran is using Russian technology to advertise an alliance that the Russians would rather be kept secret.

They must be desperate.

That stealth boat the Iranians showed on TV today is reminiscent of 50's/60's X-planes in this country, which were probably modeled on German designs from the 30's/40's.

They appear to be barking like a scared dog.

4/04/2006 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Go to work for "Dateline", Dan--it means never having to be embarrassed.

4/04/2006 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Condi's Surreal Visit to Iraq's Green Zone (avail at RealClearPolitics):

[...]

For Washington, the biggest problem is that despite increasing American desperation to pull out, the U.S. presence is gradually getting woven into the very fabric of the new Iraq, much as the Green Zone (now euphemistically called the “international zone”) is getting a permanent look. Picture NATO troops in Bosnia—there more than a decade and counting—and then multiply that pathological dependence several times over. So terrified are most Shia leaders of Sunni insurgents that they regularly blanch when faced with the prospect of U.S. withdrawal. So terrified are the Sunnis of Shiite militias that they insist on having Americans accompany any Iraqi military units that move into their towns. Absent U.S. guidance and advisors, the Iraqi army will become a Shiite Army, and the Sunni community will become a sea for the insurgency to swim in once again. When the war started, some observers worried that Iraq might become America’s “51st state,” a virtual protectorate of Washington’s. Today the worry is that America has become Iraq’s 19th province—and the most important one in the country.

Again, the Americans don't seem to fully understand this. A Western intelligence expert who recently sat in on briefings by U.S. and Iraqi military officers in Baghdad described a disconnect between U.S. occupation authorities and Iraqi officials that was just as wide as what lies between the Green Zone and the rest of Iraq. The American officers, he said, spent an hour triumphantly describing how they had finally gotten the better of the insurgency while the Iraqis present doodled on their pads, their eyes glazing over. Then the Iraqis got up and described their nation's growing sectarian conflict in urgent terms while the Americans barely paid attention. The two teams, nominally allies, were simply talking past each other, he said.

Let us not forget that the great planner of this war, Donald Rumsfeld, once warned us about all this...

[...]

4/04/2006 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Ari Tai said...

Wretchard has done, is doing his usual excellent job of teasing apart the tactical situation.

For all of our worries, it sure is a tame democratic revolution, and I wager their first 30 years (in retrospect) will be spectacularly better (in all ways) than, say, the French revolution. Or Franco's Spain.

4/04/2006 04:54:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Alfred North Whitehead said that the chief requirement of any state established by or with the help of Britain, is its ability to survive independently. Absent this survivability, the state will simply, indefinitely siphon off valuable, finite military and other resources.

4/04/2006 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

trish:

We still haven't shaken Germany or Korea off our leg.

4/04/2006 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

And in case you haven't noticed, enscout, Iraq resembles neither of those countries - before or after the war.

4/04/2006 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Trish,
If we leave Iraq, we lose our militarily strategic geopraphy. I don't believe this war is over, do you? I don't mean that smugly.. This is not over and Iraq is ground we need to hold.

4/04/2006 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"If we leave Iraq, we lose our militarily strategic geopraphy."

Other bases, other places, dan.

I honestly don't know anymore HOW we are going to stay.

4/04/2006 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

"Other bases, other places" - Trish

Why? We hold the strategic ground now. You want us to give it up and go to what more strategic ground in the ME?

4/04/2006 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

I'm not giving advice, dan.

That's the way I see it.

4/04/2006 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

With Hugo Chavez nationalizing the oilfields, and others watching to see if they can complete a state takeover trifecta with Hugo and Yukos (now bending even Yushchenko to Russian will), and Iran racing toward somebody's oblivion, I don't see how we can possibly leave knowing what is in store for the Iraqi government from a like-interest de-facto coalition including not only AQ and the terror groups, but also Hugo, Fidel, a couple others in the western Hemi, the new-nationalist fair-weather friend Putin, and every other oil-seller with nothing but treasure in mind.

4/04/2006 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I know, oil, oil, oil. But so goes access at tolerable prices, so goes national economies, the hopes and dreams of their peoples--and their willingness to go to big war.

So, who will keep the market ordered and open? Only the Coalition, and whoever leads it. And maybe not even that.

4/04/2006 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Buddy,

I wasn't speaking of strategic in the oil/economic sense, but - you got that right. It seems to me that "the game is afoot". Or, is this all (Cuba/Venezuela, et al) a silly coincidence?

4/04/2006 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Competing with Iran over Iraq is a mistake. Let Iran and the Saudi entity compete over Iraq. Should they get too far out of line, just remind them we have the GPS coordinates of their palaces.

4/04/2006 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Good or bad, I really don't know of the significance of this. But the Sleeping Buddha is awaking.

4/04/2006 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Mətušélaḥ,

Not to be argumentative here, but who's competing? If we are in Iraq, they are the ones who have to move us out. Surely a newly-trained Iraqi Army defending their homeland is a fine force to use for this. Of course with American Air-Power, artillery, satellites, etc.

I know, can you trust them, will they fight? They have shown greater ability to surrender than the Italians and French.

I am one of those people that focus on the military aspect of the Iraq War. The political aspect will either fall in place or it won't. See Vietnam. That is where the "Will" to fight is won or lost - not the ability.

4/04/2006 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger Starling David Hunter said...

Buddy Larsen said..."With Hugo Chavez nationalizing the oilfields, and others watching to see if they can complete a state takeover trifecta with Hugo and Yukos (now bending even Yushchenko to Russian will), and Iran racing toward somebody's oblivion..."

Buddy, nationalizing the oilfields is just one part of Chavez' plan to "restyle" Venezuela with '21st century Socialism'. I have a four part series on my blog where I address the topic. It's the Road to Serfdom series. Several more installments are forthcoming.

As for collaboration between Iranian mullahs and Hurricane Hugo, I suggested several weeks ago that this is a Clerical Error.

Finally, I dont know what is in Putin's mind regarding all of this, but I do know that one of his leading economic advisers, one Andrei Illarionov, has recently offered a devastating critque of Venezuela's experiment in "state capitalism" I commented on that in the fourth post of the series.

Enjoy!

4/04/2006 08:41:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

That may be an accurate characterization of the meeting described in Trish's post, and I remember how Iraq the Model looked back on Bremer's proconsulship as increasingly arrogant, but having watched a lot more of the world since then and seen what happens and what passes for public discourse there, I'd bet the misunderstanding of reality is on the Iraqi side more than on our side, and it isn't unlikely that everyone realizes there are few sincere actors in the government on the Arab side, and the real action takes place at a lower level with no expectation that the politics will change until certain realities change. It doesn't sound as though that could be - as the author describes it - in fact the state of relations. Iraq is in slow motion, either for good or bad, but it is not on auto-pilot.

4/04/2006 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Man, I'm not sure if there's any such thing as coincidence in any of this.

International A.N.S.W.E.R is apparently behind those big immigrant marches, and plan big ones for May 1st. Mayday, the Commie holiday.

Congresslady from Georgia Cynthia McKinney is as Red as they come, and has managed to get herself busted for walloping a cop and is now rabblerousing over "racism", the permanent-motivation word of A.N.S.W.E.R.

Mexico's presidential election this summer, and the Commie, AMLO, is neck-in-neck with Fox's PAN candidate.

Iran is on the 30-day UN countdown, and didn't the mullahs threaten three big diversions in the run-up to their bomb?

4/04/2006 08:44:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Remember, or - it seems to me that, at this state, the Arab world does not actually run on politics; to have to engage in that level of dialogue that prominantly is just not in the Arab tradition - usually because there is always a glorified warlord in the background. Or look at Sistani's modus operandi, or bin Laden's. The ones with power, as in any earnest mafia, hang out in back eating mama's falafel. Diplomacy is just yet another veil through which potential rivals have to wend to get to the human heart of power. The trick is to kick down the set and force the matter into the open, republicanstyle. The public cannot hope to pierce the veils, but we should. For example, by slaughtering al Sadr. But anyway just look at the meetings they have with one another. It's a joke. Either it's intentional, which is the admiring perspective, or they're morons, which is probably the more accurate.

4/04/2006 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Info on ANSWER/Mayday and the Mexico elections.

SDHunter, you must be a Von Mises economist--the website has an email service--I just found it--it may be old news--where a sign-up gets their latest papers to your inbox. Good stuff, too.

4/04/2006 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Ms. McKinney - now there's a peach.... I would once again provide the link of the list of her campaign donors, but the PC crowd would call me an Islamophobe. Oh what the heck..I'll pawn it off on Daniel Pipes. Of course, if you believe Daniel Pipes is an Islamophobe, please ignore the link. But then, if I ask you to ignore the link, does that mean I'm the PC idiot? I'm confused....where's that bottle of Thorazene?

4/04/2006 09:08:00 PM  
Blogger Starling David Hunter said...

Buddy,

first learned about Hayek and von Mises from a Sr. engineer at Boeing where I worked right out of college in the mid-80's. Like 90% of black Americans I was born into a Democratic household. It took years but the "libetarian" seeds planted in my early professional career did eventually bear fruit.

thanks for the ANSWER/Mayday/Mexico links.

4/04/2006 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I don't how the admin could be working any harder--I don't think Condi Rice has been in the country but to say hi/bye for the last half-year.

She has gone to literally every capital with an iron in the fire, and has never faltered a step, despite a lot of nasty heckling.

It's been a bravura, presidential-caliber performance.

4/04/2006 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Larsen,

The wise speak of the imperishable tree, which has its roots above and branches below. It's a surrealistic vision, but true metaphor. We are accustomed to a very different kind of reality, exactly the opposite of the one thus described. Hence are perceptions deceptive.

4/04/2006 09:32:00 PM  
Blogger The Red State Ranger said...

The update with al Sadr asking Jafaari to step down is... "interesting."

It's incredibly good, in that what could be seen as a loss of his political power instead is being accepted and encouraged by the man himself.

It's a little frightening, because this guy always seems to have something up his sleeve.

4/04/2006 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

SDHunter, it was because he was black that I a young Carterite in the 70s started reading the "turn-coat economist" Thomas Sowell. I was going to find out what was his game, with this "liberal plantation" talk. Soon enough, he had yanked me up and outta the fever-swamp and tossed me up onto dry land, he'd made a new Reaganite. Years ago, and he's still going strong. Sen. Kennedy's worst nightmare, bless him.

Mika, when you get into your 50s, everything is hallucinatory. Dumb, deaf, daft and drooling, living in a smeared impressionist world of strange sights and sudden sounds, grateful for basic things like consciousness, and not getting clockwork-oranged by the kids too often.

4/04/2006 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

I agree with FEE:

"...Never Forget Arab political culture is, and will remain, astonishingly ruthless by American standards for quite some time."

Yes. I wonder if it's causing them to take a close look at themselves. Since, the Americans have pull back things have gotten bloody - and it's Islam v. Islam.

But, I remember seeing the films from Korea with both the North and South Korean police stations having bodies out front (both sides were taking revenge). It took some time for things to get stabilized in South Korea. So, may be we are being a little too judgemntal at this point.

If the Debka report's are close to true, then I agree with Dan:

"Arrest Sadr - the warrant pre-text if you have to - and hit Sadr's army. If you hit the army hard enough, the other parties will feel comfortable rising against or better backing away and allowing the "Iraqi Army" to do its job defending the Constitution..."

With Sadr neutralized things would be a more stable and it would send a message to Iranians. In fact, Iran may be the biggest problem now. Is it time for a few 'Col. Lansdale' induced accidents happen in Iran and to Iranian operatives?

Iraq can be a very dangerous place for Iranian operatives. There are drive-by's all the time. And, those rocket powered torpedos can explode at any moment. Some of you remember that Russian sub Kursk that sank in 2000? ...the Russian nuclear submarine K-141 Kursk sank mysteriously with 118 people on board in 354 feet of the icy waters of the Barents Sea. Forty-nine elite Russian submarine officers, 36 more than is customarily part of the ships complement, were aboard the Russian Oscar ll Class submarine that day to witness something big....the firing of the improved VA-111 Shkval (Squall) Underwater torpedo Missile -- an incredible undersea weapon, that when launched, rockets underwater at a speed over 200 mph...
Those rocket torpedos can be very dangerous

I am not suggesting that we sink a few of those with a some well placed munitions - but, accidents do happen. If a few Irainian war toys started to pop they may just redirect they attention to problems within their own territory.

4/04/2006 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"I'd bet the misunderstanding of reality is on the Iraqi side more than on our side, and it isn't unlikely that everyone realizes there are few sincere actors in the government on the Arab side, and the real action takes place at a lower level with no expectation that the politics will change until certain realities change."

I used to care, dan.

I really don't give a f**k anymore, except for disengegaement and going home.

I simply do not care.

4/05/2006 12:55:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

ha. well, fair enough.

4/05/2006 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

ledger's submarine/Squall link is fascinating--a Tom Clancy-ish read--

4/05/2006 09:43:00 AM  
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