Thursday, June 08, 2006

Iraq the Model on Zarqawi's Demise

I interviewed Omar at Iraq the Model for Pajamas Media and asked: 'what does this mean to the Iraqi government and the more general situation?'. You can listen to the podcast here.


Blogger 2164th said...

Aljazeera is reporting it but felt compelled to add a binary article:
"Supporters of First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, 28, say he is the first commissioned US army officer to publicly refuse to go to Iraq."
We must have balance. In your interview was mentioned that this came from tips from local people. I hope they get them out of there fast and do not lose the momentum of this singular event. There are reports that the recently released film of Zarqawi fumbling with his AK 47 contained hints as to his location and this was supplimented by Jordanian intelligence information. To date, there has not been a significant public outrage over the merciless slaughter by this now smudge, Zarqawi. What a lovely thought of a new public resolve in Iraq.

6/08/2006 04:13:00 AM  
Blogger bluepaul said...

free tunes at my [conventional] site

6/08/2006 04:18:00 AM  
Blogger Goesh said...

Good work US pilots and all the others involved in hunting down this animal and eradicating him! Thanks - you have saved the lives of many people.

6/08/2006 04:21:00 AM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

I think I'll have a bacon ,lettuce, and tomato sandwich later today. Heavy on the bacon. Kinda of a celebration.

I'll bet his buddies are sad, boo-hoo.

6/08/2006 05:07:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Supposedly he was meeting with some of his underlings. I would presume that he does not meet with Average Joe Terrorist, and that we got all of those that were there, too, since the pictures of that building showed it to be all but leveled.

It is odd, though, that I have heard no mention of just how many other bodies were found. Could we have been lucky enough for this to have been a decapitation stike in the large sense?

Of course, it could have been just another "wedding party"....

6/08/2006 06:02:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

I think the count is 7, but it was at least an excellent twofer, value-wise. Got the sheik as well.

6/08/2006 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger sam said...

I thought I heard Rumsfeld say there was a woman and child killed in the strike also.

Wonder who got the 25 mil?

6/08/2006 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger sam said...


Did you watch the Rumsfeld press conference? What was that question about the operation in the Ukraine that Rumsfeld wouldn't go into? Do you know anything about that? Can you tap into any sources? Sounds interesting.

6/08/2006 07:16:00 AM  
Blogger Bon Air said...

What a day! I awaken to find that bastard Zarqawi's dead. Prime minister Maliki has filled the three critical ministerial positions. I check my two favorite blogs and find a podcast! It is nice to put voices to people I read daily.

I heard in a press conference this morning that 17 raids have been conducted around Bagdad already as a result of the "treasure trove" ( a quote from the military spokesmen) of information they found at the site. It's a wonder they found anything in that rubble.

Tomorrow....more we all dance!!

6/08/2006 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger Goesh said...

One Mil Blog I just read said 17 raids were launched immediately after the hit. Hopefully there will be some intel salvaged from the hit - you never know, a cell phone or hard drive maybe survived, but its doubtful.

6/08/2006 07:41:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Zarqawi's death and the al queda advance in somalia show why bin laden left out iraq and mentioned somalia in his last broadcast.

zarqawi's fumbling subsequent broadcast shows that he didn't much care to be left for dead. but in his hastiness to say "I'm alive & fighting." he may have given away his position.

6/08/2006 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger sam said...

What do you mean 'may have' Charles. He did give away his position! Jordanian intelligence saw the background of the video and said, 'Hey, I know where that is!'

6/08/2006 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

Ding dong the witch is dead. Good news to wake up to.

6/08/2006 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

1. Word has that he was given up by locals. Good news: you can run but you cannot hide.
2. They say that the 7 dead included 2 women who were part of the intelligence gathering network.
3. The pictures I saw showed no evidence of fire. Now, explosions do not occur in fireballs like they do in the movies, but I would guess that the recovery of things like papers, computers, etc. is quite possible.
4. If we really did launch 17 raids as a result of what we found in the Z-lair, that is simply great news! Note that the death of Z was not announced until around 0300 EDT - about 12 hours after President Bush was told. If they launched that many raids that fast, that is may be even better news than the death of Number One.

Eggplant: When we caught Saddam, it was in December and "Santa Claus is coming to town" played in my head all day. Now, "Ding Dong the Wicked Witch is dead" is playing in there. Thanks a lot! I liked the Christmas music better.

Need suggestions for mental music for OBL's takedown.

6/08/2006 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

You guys think there's any chance that Madeline Albright was correct when she said we have OBL and these guys on ice, and when we're done with them we put them in a room under a couple of Mk. 82's?

LGF has a post noting that Reuters has already explained how this is just going to make the bad guys mad at us....

6/08/2006 08:32:00 AM  
Blogger RCM said...

RWE: "Need suggestions for mental music for OBL's takedown."

Something dark perhaps...from Richard Wagner (Ride of the Valkyries) or menacing; like the score used in the approach of Darth Vader. ;)

6/08/2006 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

For the left:
They can't get no.

6/08/2006 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Wagner has that endearing timeless quality. Personally, I've never been terribly impressed by the purely orchestral rendition, but add in the vocals and Ride of the Valkyries becomes truly awe-inspiring.

6/08/2006 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Rush's Annonymous Source says detainees and the lame AK Video provided clues.

6/08/2006 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...



6/08/2006 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...



6/08/2006 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Does it make a Muslim Warrior pause to ask if jihad is such a good idea why are so many holy warriors getting iced? Zarqawi clearly thought he had the protection of Allah but appears to have miscalculated. As far as the nonsense that this will inspire waves upon waves of new angry holy warriors, I rather doubt it. If anything, it should cause some fiful moments and stiff necks from looking up at the sky, and not for what is going up.

6/08/2006 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

"Every time a Zarqawi appears we will kill him," Maliki said. "We will continue confronting whoever follows his path. It is an open war between us." - Al Reuters.

Sounds like this guy IS NOT an appeaser....

6/08/2006 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Ray said...

The WaPo has an article

disputing Zarqawri's presence at the site hit by the bombs. There are no pictures, but a statement about "a teddy bear and a child's knapsack buried in the destruction."

The author is Hilmy Kamal of Reuters. This smells to high heaven with unsubstantiated reporting by yet another Reuters stringer (about whom I have been unable learn anything).

6/08/2006 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I've alway found that "bippity boppity boo" is a good song to have guaranteed circling around your mind. Doubtless when bin Laden bites the dust, it will be a "boo!" moment.

6/08/2006 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Achillea said...

RWE --

Metallica, Unforgiven.

6/08/2006 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Achillea said...

RWE --

Metallica, Unforgiven.

6/08/2006 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

RWE said...

"When we caught Saddam, it was in December and "Santa Claus is coming to town" played in my head all day. Now, "Ding Dong the Wicked Witch is dead" is playing in there. Thanks a lot! I liked the Christmas music better. Need suggestions for mental music for OBL's takedown."

I can't get it out of my head either....

Ding dong, the wicked witch, the wicked witch, the wicked witch, ding dong the wicked witch is dead...

After Dorthy or someone in the USMC throws a bucket of water at Osama, I suggest as theme music the last anthem in "Star Wars" where Luke Skywalker and Han Solo got their medals.

By the way, the next moonbat that tells me Iraq is not a bug zapper, is going to get a nice long laugh.

6/08/2006 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

I haven’t gotten any confirmation of this yet but the advanced targeting pod (ATP) most likely used by the USAF F16 was probably Lockheed-Martins SNIPER XR (eXtended Range). This thing can put eyes on the target from a 20+ mile slant range while streaming video down to a FAC. Lovely.

The picture of Zarq-mans’ contorted face looks strangely reminiscent of the many heads that he personally liberated from this life. May they have a special pantheon in hell to showcase its’ ghastly form.

6/08/2006 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger gmat said...

I thought this guy made a lot of sense.

6/08/2006 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Mouse: CNN video shows a moving white spot on bottom right quadrant: Know what that is?
US Air Force Supper Bowl - Final
President Bush will revel in what he considers a great accomplishment and use
this as a means to try to bolster his declining image. I believe that someone
will step up to replace al-Zarqawi and this will continue on if this replacement
falls. My biggest fear is that the insurgency will escalate and there will be
retribution killings for the death of al-Zarqawi.
>Mark Basile, Ashland, Oregon
I'm not concerned with who they (our military) kills or captures. I'm more
concerned with the lives we have lost and still continue to lose for nothing.
I sure hope that they find those weapons of mass destruction soon!
>Marie Green, Phoenix, Arizona
By broadcasting pictures of his corpse, we are sinking to the level of those who
dragged and beat US contractors in April 2004
Such images strengthen resolve to
fight the other side. Like most, I don't have the answers for Iraq, but this is
clearly not going to slow down the violence.
>Damien, Baltimore, Maryland

6/08/2006 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...


6/08/2006 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

It doesn't matter, Doug.

A Good Day is a Good Day.

6/08/2006 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Saw the white spot. I think it is part of the moving optics.

As far as sinking to the level of those who killed, burned, mutilated, hung, and displayed contractors on a bridge in Faluhja, I don’t think so. First of all those contractors were not super stars of the Jihad that no one would believe dead. We have similar death masks for Mao, Lenin, Poncho Villa and John Dillenger. Secondly, his body hasn’t been nor will it likely be desecrated. Hope Damien can discern the difference.

PS. “Rest in Pieces” is starting to sound good.

6/08/2006 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

The bomb that took out Zarqawi had an interesting dust pattern that seemed to run along the avenues of trees and directly upwards, almost like there was some, but not a lot of overpressure near the ground that equalized itself upward, taking the dust with it. Can anybody make sense of that dust pattern?

6/08/2006 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"As far as sinking to the level of those who killed, burned, mutilated, hung, and displayed contractors on a bridge in Faluhja, I don’t think so."

Gosh, relieved to hear it.

6/08/2006 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

And the second paragraph of your comment on the "Changes" thread was...just what I'd been thinking, Annoy Mouse.

6/08/2006 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6/08/2006 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

I can't discern the detail in the Z-man targeting video but my first take was they center-punched a brick building and the pressure blast made its way out the windows and doors on all four sides. Just speculation on my part. Remember the cellulose bomb casing on Clear and Present Danger? Yowza.

6/08/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger remoteman said...

This is a great day. The MSM reaction is sadly predictable, minimizing it as nothing really. Of course before he was dead, Zarq was all powerful. Yes, it is the new/current marxism by the MSM...always support the "weak" regardless of their moral bankruptcy and always work against the "strong" , again, regardless of their actions, moral standing, popularity, etc because they are probaly lying anyway. The US Military is strong, the United States is strong, Israel is strong. Comparitively, AlQ, the Paleos and Zarq are weak. Poor little things...

The MSM are NOT on our side.

6/08/2006 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger Scott Free said...

"RWE: "Need suggestions for mental music for OBL's takedown."

Myself, it was definitely the Team America anthem.

"America - F'CK YEAH!"

6/08/2006 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

VDH Reminds us of the Barbarity of the Embalmed Photos of the Brothers not so Grim, the Inhumane Dental Exam Photo of their beloved father, and now THIS!
I'm going to see if I can scrub the shame off with lava rocks and soap.
They flattened several surrounding Cinder Block Houses.
Did they channel the blast up, and through the streets?

6/08/2006 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Just heard one of the Fox News retired Cols say that a Delta Force team nearby target designated the house with a laser for the F-16's to hit it. Just like in the Tom Clancy novel.

I have not been able to find the dust pattern photo but I understand that the house was heavily fortified and that may have helped to focus the blast somewhat.

Sorry, but I do not know the Team America music. Probably just as well...
Or Metallica. And that is definitely just as well.

But the Star Wars music for the award scene I know - I used that music for a going away video when our Col got transferred to The Cape.

Well, there is always Darryl Worley.....

6/08/2006 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

News report says that two different kinds of bombs were used, a regular laser guided GBU-12 and a new type:

"The second was a GBU-38, a relatively lightweight bomb guided to its target by satellite signal. F-16s based at Balad, just north of the area where Zarqawi's safe house was attacked, have been operating with the GBU-38 for less than two years. Its smaller explosive power is designed to limit unintended damage."

Sounds like one to crack it open and one to flatten it. The GPS gudied bomb would not have been affecetd by dust thrown up by the laser gudied bomb. Or maybe it was use of two guided by different methods, to act as a backups.

6/08/2006 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...


Congrats on getting the technology together for conducting the interview. It sounded good! What method did you end up using to do it?

6/08/2006 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

This might be an extremely stupid thought. Could these have been "Concrete" Bombs? I've never seen one explode, so I'm totally clueless.

If it was a "small" house, it might make sense to use such a weapon to attempt to preserve any computers, cell phones, etc.

6/08/2006 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Oh, never mind. I just saw Rwe's post.

6/08/2006 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

That seems to correspond to CNN Video (cnn web Homepage)
Second bomb was hardly visible from my perspective.
...and it did look like the house itself directed the blast.

6/08/2006 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Well, there is always Darryl Worley....."
Hasn't that been determined to be unacceptably patriotic?
I'll ask CAIR.

6/08/2006 08:04:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

CBS Interview:

Death of a Terrorist

6/08/2006 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...


Your 4:09 Post - I believe that the dust pattern fits with energy taking the path of least resistance. I'm not a blast expert, by any means, but I noticed the same pattern.

6/08/2006 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

If we can get OBL or Z in the next few months, it will make all the difference in the world.

6/08/2006 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Apparently the house was surrounded by Spec Forces, so any survivors would probably not have gotten away.

6/08/2006 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"Wonder who got the 25 mil?"

- sam

Who got the guy who got the guy who got the 25 mil?

That's the story.

6/08/2006 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Bennet claims Marines play Metallica's "No Remorse" in preparation for taking out insurgies.
Has a sound clip of it, along with Zarqawi's Owies.

6/08/2006 11:51:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

They may.

I prefer The Untouchables theme.

The movie.

6/09/2006 12:23:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

And I have never prepared to take out insurgents.

6/09/2006 12:32:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Nor have I.
NORKs, yes, but only prepared!
(Nukes for the NORKs, those were the days.)

6/09/2006 01:43:00 AM  
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6/09/2006 04:49:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

I think the death of zarqawi marks the end of the middle section of the battle in Iraq just as the death of saddam's sons marked the end of the initial battles.

It may be another two years before they get bin laden & al zawahiri.

6/09/2006 05:23:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

A bit belated, but I think a better title than "Z-Man RIP" would have been:

Zarqawi Kerpowie!

6/09/2006 05:33:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Osama and Doctor Z are many things, but neither are actively involved in the Battle of Iraq.
They are reportedly in Central Asia. Pakistan and/ or Afghanistan.

They will be captured or killed there, not in Iraq. Both are related to OIF only in the most peripheral of ways.

Will they be captured or killed in the next 2.5 years, one can only hope they are.

6/09/2006 06:04:00 AM  
Blogger Pascal Fervor said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6/09/2006 06:40:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

It doesn't get any better than this! Not only did Zarqawi get smoked, he was alive long enough to know who was doing it. It puts a whole new meaning to Allah Akbar.


"Iraqi police had arrived on the scene of Wednesday's bomb attack first and put Zarqawi on a stretcher, Caldwell said. The U.S. forces arrived later and identified Zarqawi, who died shortly after.

"He was conscious initially according to the U.S. forces that physically saw him. He obviously had some kind of visual recognition of who they were because he attempted to roll off the stretcher, as I am told, and get away, realizing it was U.S. military," Caldwell said."

6/09/2006 06:43:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

After reading the many reactions to Z's demise, from both sides of the tracks, from Austin Bay to Gerard Baker, it easy to come away with but one conclusion.
While Z will provide a political "moment" it will have little or no short term effect in Iraq, on the ground.

Mr Maliki offers this
"...This government will build on the additional momentum gained from the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in order to defeat terrorism and sectarianism and to deliver on the Iraqi people's hope of a united, stable and prosperous democracy by following a three-pronged strategy: ..."

The Iraqi Governmentwill institute Socialist investments in business and infrastructure in the "Stable" areas, to harness the unemployeed. Kurdistan and the Shia areas will be considered "stable" enough for Job programs.

National Reconcilation through the Government

Securing Baghdad
Integrating the Militias into the ISF & Police, implement "Law 91".

When, by whom and how Baghdad is secured is the real measure of success in Iraq for the short term.
This is mentioned by almost every analysis.
Long term success depends on Security, for the population. Without that there can be no Political success, not in the face of an asymetric Civil War.

To think that Iraq's Civil War is not, because it does not follow
"historical" models, well. Iraq post Saddam is not Spain, pre Franco.

6/09/2006 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger Pascal Fervor said...


Your request for a tune suggested to me another tune to be used in the meantime. For when you need a jarring image to spur you to fighting against some fifth columnist:

Singing in the Rain as sung by Malcolm MacDowell in A Clockwork Orange, home-invasion rape sceen.

6/09/2006 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

As 2164th has posted Zarqawi was alive and tried to roll off the stretcher when he recognized the opposition.

I don't know if it is true but I heard that one of the medics twisted his head one way and another medic twisted his torso in the other, resulting in a c-1 through c-6 vertebral displacement and a "kinda popping,grinding sound", said unidentified sources who were on their fifth martinis in the Green Zone Party Room.
So I say lets give up the $25 million to those heroic medics who knew just how to (mis)handle the situation.
I guess you could say POP GOES THE WEASAL.

6/09/2006 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

"... Yet both the government and the press make the recurring mistake of thinking that at any one point there is a pure type of the jihadist terrorist — be it the hierarchical Qaeda, the Iraqi insurgents under Mr. Zarqawi, the self-starters in London. The reality is much messier. Spanish officials have hinted that there was a Zarqawi link to the Madrid bombings; some of the London bombers had traveled to Pakistan for training; and there is evidence that some of the Toronto suspects had links to others linked to Mr. Zarqawi.

The jihadists comprise a social movement, not just a cluster of terrorist organizations, and they are totally opportunistic and endlessly plastic in how they accommodate to circumstances. They thrive on our preconceptions and our instinctive determination to come up with rigid schematizations, and we will get the better of them only when our thinking is as flexible and innovative as theirs. ..."

Whether it is the Info Wars or F22's, should not the US field the bestest with the mostest, to turn inside their circle?.

The authors,
Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon are the co-authors of "The Next Attack." They are fellows, respectively, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Council on Foreign Relations.
may be less than knowledgable, though, they published in the
"Zarqawi's Life After Death"

6/09/2006 07:53:00 AM  
Blogger Pascal Fervor said...

I predict that Zarqawi's life after death will be played, with the willing aid of corporate media, along lines paralleling Elvis sitings and Jason-never-dies type horror flicks.

IOW, the jihais hate our culture's excesses unless, of course, it serves their purposes.

6/09/2006 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

2164th and Habu dramatically demonstrate that we really are no better than them, perhaps worse:
'Rat will be inspired to write his Opus Magnum 357:

"War and More War"

(rwe: that's why they used that new smaller bomb for number 2:

Habu's Coup de Grace could be applied while Z did his last number 2 in his robe.)

6/09/2006 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

'Rat's Horse Doctor is doing the Autopsy.
(His photoshop expert will analyze the doctored pics)

6/09/2006 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"It puts a whole new meaning to "Allah Akbar""
...and he did.
And Died.

6/09/2006 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

American Ideal:
Medic is Irish -
Uses reward to open a Bar/Brothel in Baghdad:
"Paddy's Pashtun P....."

6/09/2006 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger The Mad Fiddler said...

The Chiropractic Adjustment should be charged to Zarqawi’s account. Hey! Doesn’t the extremely benevolent and beloved (to the Left) government of Mainland China charge the family of executed dissidents for the cost of the bullets used to do the execution?

Besides, that head-twist has a long list of historical antecedents, the best being a ridiculous story from Brother Dave Gardener’s 1960 humor LP. The character Brother Dave described had gotten his girlfriend to put on his leather jacket backwards while riding his motorcycle to keep the bugs off her, but they had a wreck. A police officer arriving at the scene of the crash demanded “Whass happm t’these hyeer luvly chirren?” (i.e., “What has happened to these lovely children?”)

A witness done tole him the driver had been killed outright, but the girl was okay “...till we turned her HEAD around.”

6/09/2006 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Z's last Chiropractic/Attitude Adjustment.

6/09/2006 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"An Army of FUN!"

6/09/2006 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

People are starting to wonder about what to do with Zarq's corpse. My vote is to grind him up and feed him to a hog.

6/09/2006 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

Dear Mr. Fernandez - I wanted you to see a section of an article invoking Iraq-the-Model that I posted a couple weeks ago at our site FIRSTOFTHEMONTH.ORG. (Though I don't think it will work as a Comment.) Before I get to that, though, let me tell you a bit about FIRST - we've been putting our our tabloid of "the radical imagination" since the late 90s. For us, though, (as for you?) things done changed after 9/11. We've been trying to figure it all out since then and your blog has been an inspiration. Our best writer is a guy named Charles O'Brien. I think you'd be responsive to his stuff - We have a lot of it up on the site - try the one on the Danish Cartoons. His idea there - that the key issue was sovereignty not Free Speech - got out around the internet a bit, though I don't think its influence was acknowledged anywhere. Light stuff, though, - O'Brien preferred to write anonymously for years (like you). He's been praised over the years by an amazing range of heads though he remains essentially a "secret writer" - do check his stuff out when you get a chance. Best, Benj DeMott

OK here's my thing re Mohammad and Omar and...

Local Heroes

By Benj DeMott

Earlier this month, The New Yorker's George Packer talked up a plan to break up Iraq proposed (in a New York Times op-ed) by Joseph Biden and Leslie Gelb, who argue the U.S, in collaboration with Iraq’s neighbors, should broker a divorce between the Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites. Iraq may be in process of splitting apart but it seems strange to push that program at a moment when Iraq’s politicians seem (finally) to be on the verge establishing (what one observer calls) a “civil-war-preventing government.” The new Prime Minister of the country, Nouri al-Maliki, is apparently known for his faith in ‘Uraqa – Iraqi national identity – (as well as in the 12th Imam) and he’s distanced himself from the previous PM Jafaari’s plan to match the Kurds’ federal entity with a separate statelet for the Shiites. According to Barham Salih (the Kurdish politician whose speech to the Socialist International in Rome in 2003 made the strongest moral case for the invasion of Iraq), “This is the opportunity for genuine reconciliation between the communities in Iraq.”

But why should anyone expect Iraqis will seize that opportunity? Operation Iraqi Freedom and its aftermath have made optimism suspect. When I look back on my own pre-war emails to friendly opponents of the invasion, I see myself being beamish – “isn’t this going to be over pretty fast – I mean who is going to fight FOR Saddam?” While I never assumed ousting Saddam would lead to the establishment of democracy in Iraq – and neither did Barham Salih who told European Socialists “democracy, albeit messy at times, could emerge in a process more like your own” – I didn’t begin to imagine the mayhem that’s accompanied the long hard slog toward (what Austin Bay describes as) “an open political system that will deal legally and politically with deadly disputes.”

According to Bay, the fact that Iraqis continue to creep forward on this front “is astonishing news, but it is slow news.” It’s no wonder to George Packer. The audacity of hope has come to seem like a killing joke to him – a lie of the mind with deadly consequences for Iraqis. Skepticism isn’t defeatism, of course, but Packer’s readiness to substitute blackishness for beamishness may have an even deeper downside than “cakewalk” talk or “Mission Accomplished” triumphalism. Last month, Packer wrote a piece on the successful American counterinsurgency effort in Tal Afar. He underscored then that victory in Iraq would require painstaking molecular work and he quoted one general who worried about a “rush to failure.” Only a month later, Packer seems to have joined that rush – patient engagement is out and Viet Nam analogies rule.

Packer invokes the famous moment when elder statesmen and retired generals known collectively as the Wise Men told LBJ it was time to disengage from Viet Nam and he ends his piece on a plaintive note – “If there are no more Wise Men in Washington, can there at least be wisdom?” Even Republicans share Packer’s exasperation at Bush’s failure to provide direction (and explanations), but Iraqis will have to fill that vacuum rather than party pols and DC think tankers. I assume The Talk of the Town will get around to addressing what the new leader of Iraq plans to do. Leader-mongering, though, is never sufficient to expose the crackpot realism of the Foreign Policy Establishment.

If you’re looking for wisdom on Iraq, I urge you to keep up with the brothers Mohammad and Omar – regular Baghdadis who blog at

Echoing the suggestions of another Iraqi blogger, Omar has made a case for bolstering efforts to secure Baghdad “for a few months.” He proposes Iraqi and American troops shift their attention from denying insurgents safe havens to creating them (from the “center out”) for civilians in the capital. His focus on Iraq’s mixed-up metropolitan core implicitly contradicts those over here who mean to dismember his country along ethnic and confessional lines. His new post elaborates on a previous one by his brother Mohammad spelling out a process for disbanding the Shiite militias that are now “arguably” the greatest threat to security in Iraq (since the bulk of the Sunni insurgents’ potential constituency is being drawn into the political process).

But the brothers’ tactical advice is less significant than their capacity to model authentic democratic movements of mind. On this score, Omar’s recent post explaining the need for Iraq to develop a tradition of political opposition is exemplary. His affirmation that Iraq’s secular democrats should embrace the role of nay-sayer – “to be the watchdog we need to make sure the government is functioning as it should” – rather than attempt to finagle their way to the top stands as a rebuke to generations of would-be revolutionaries (and sure-to-be-tyrants) who have equated the achievement of state power with redemption.

Omar apologized in that post for making a point about “checks and balances” that might seem like conventional wisdom to readers living in constitutional democracies with a history of peaceful transfers of power. But he and his model-brother are too modest. Their “small and peaceful family” has paid much more than most of ours ever will for the right to live in freedom (and opposition). Last month, their brother-in-law – a young doctor who’d returned from abroad with his wife “to build a medical center to serve the poor who cannot afford going to expensive clinics” – was murdered in Baghdad.

The brothers stopped blogging for a week as they cared for their sister and her two little children. Despite their family’s suffering, they came back online to keep building their “bridge to a better world:” “April will always be there to remind us of the sacrifice and of the dream we fight for.”

“What abides?” Karl Marx was once asked when he was an old man. “Struggle” was his answer. Iraq’s agonies have taught the model-brothers that home-truth (though, like Marx, they’re not Marxists). The brothers’ will to struggle offers a striking contrast to George Packer’s doomier angles on Iraq. The narrative of Packer’s widely praised book on the invasion and occupation, The Assassins’ Gate, slides around set-pieces of disillusionment that feel arty if you’re used to reading undaunted (and/or haunted) Iraqi bloggers. While it’s easy to identify with Packer’s disdain for the Bush Administration’s “criminal incompetence,” there’s something off about his aggrieved tone and the new journalistic animus he directs toward Kanan Makiya – a man he claims to “love” and blames for providing rationales that caused his heart to rise as he contemplated the invasion of Iraq. “Sweets and flowers” notwithstanding, Makiya was much more realistic about the prospects for democracy in Iraq than Packer lets on. And though Packer may have been Makiya’s fellow traveler before the invasion, the implication he was misused seems shaky. It was my impression Packer preserved a kind of deniability in the pre-war period, placing himself as an observer of Makiya, not as an ally “in solidarity.” I don’t recall a daring entrance into the debate over the war in Iraq. I do recall Packer on the road with Todd Gitlin, who opposed the invasion, as part of a touring group promoting The Fight Is For Democracy – an anthology edited by Packer that sought to outline a flag-waving liberal alterative to Bush’s pursuit of a “War on Terror.” (Back in that day, First of the Month’s Charles O’Brien referred to Packer, Gitlin et. al. as the Mouse Pack.)

It seems telling that Todd Gitlin thinks The Assassins' Gate is a “splendid” account of the “Iraq disaster” though he’s posted criticism (at of his “dear friend’ for portraying the pre-war Peace Movement as objectively pro-Saddam. Gitlin focuses his complaints there on Packer’s version of a now historic pre-war NYU panel that featured (among others) Kanan Makiya and Gitlin himself. (For a transcript of Makiya’s remarks on that occasionm, see "Inside the Whale" at this website.) Gitlin rejects Packer’s assertion that Makiya’s “electric” remarks went unanswered that night. Asserting he refuted Makiya’s arguments, Gitlin quotes extended passages from his own lecture. While his old text confirms Gitlin distanced himself from Saddam’s apologists in the anti-war movement, it’s something less than the last word on Iraq. Even Gitlin allows it might seem “self-serving” for him to offer his original comments as the definitive Good-By To All That. Yet narcissism isn’t the chief problem with Gitlin’s response to The Assassins’ Gate. What won’t do is his absolute assurance the liberation of Iraq constitutes a “disaster.” Like so many of the old leftists whom he disdains, Gitlin can’t bring himself to acknowledge April 9th, 2003 made it possible for Iraq’s democrats to win important battles. Iraq’s initial election may yet turn out to be a great historical turning point. And though the momentum from that moment of collective autonomy (and last December’s vote) was lost, Iraq’s politicians seem to be limping ahead again and everyday Iraqis won’t forget what it feels like to lay claims on those leaders. Not as long as Iraqis like the model-brothers live to blog. Mohammad and Omar will stay in struggle in Iraq though they are not fighting men – “we never carried arms and we never will.” Their outside presence – as Iraq’s pols develop an insiders’ game – should inspire anyone who truly believes The Fight Is For Democracy.

6/09/2006 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Mohammad and Omar are truly inspirational and awe-inspiring.
I would wish they are both writing diaries of their private lives when they aren't blogging or working.

I'd like to know daily details of work, sleep, and etc
How few of us would choose to stay if we had the chance.

The Professional Liar Gitlin would make a good contrary indicator, I would think.

6/09/2006 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger woof111 said...


If you have a point you really need to keep it down to a paragraph or two. Otherwise you sound like a guy in the park rambling to yourself.

6/09/2006 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger Abu Evan said...

Just so no one is misled by the MSM description of the bombs used in the attack, the GBU-12 and GBU-38 are the same bomb, a Mk-82 500 lbs. general purpose blast/frag bomb. The difference lies in the the guidance package. The GBU-12 is laser guided while the GBU-38 is GPS guided. Both are accurate to within a few meters, but both have different limitations. I would speculate that both were used to maximize probability of hit.

6/12/2006 06:34:00 AM  

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