Friday, July 21, 2006

Battle of Baghdad Series

Pajamas Media has started a Battle of Baghdad series which is tracking events in the capital. From it's most recent post we learn that:

The Telegraph reports a plan to partition Baghdad between Sunni and Shi'ite neighborhoods in an effort to reduce ethnic clashes. The Daily Telegraph says British forces arrested Sajjad Badr Adal Saeed who ordered the killing of many British soldiers in roadside attacks, was taken from his home in Basra last Saturday night. A 2 ton cache of explosives was also found. Reuters has details on a further campaign against the Madhi Army. "British commanders say they are targeting elements of the Mehdi Army ... Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has pledged to crack down on militias, even though many are linked to his own allies."

In message exchanges with people in Baghdad I have heard that ethnic fighting has gotten really bad. There are fears that MNF has left the situation to the Iraqis too soon. However, Defenselink reports that General Caldwell is determined to bring order to Baghdad by hook or by crook.

WASHINGTON, July 20, 2006 – Iraqi and coalition security forces will redouble efforts to stem a recent spate of bombings, murders and kidnappings conducted in and around Baghdad, a senior U.S. military officer said today. "We will do whatever it takes to bring down the level of violence in Baghdad," Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV told reporters during a Baghdad news briefing.

And this, just in from the New York Times Service:

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq – The top U.S. commander for the Middle East said Friday that the escalating sectarian violence in Baghdad had become a greater worry than the insurgency and that plans were being drawn up to move additional forces to the Iraqi capital.

"The situation with sectarian violence in Baghdad is very serious," said U.S. Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, the commander of the U.S. Central Command, speaking in an interview Friday. "The country can deal with the insurgency better than it can with the sectarian violence, and it needs to move decisively against the sectarian violence now."

The Strategy Page says:

The "war" in Iraq has come down to a competition between Sunni Arab and Shia death squads, to see who can rack up the highest body count. While most Iraqi Sunni Arabs fear for their lives, and continued ability to live in Iraq, the Shia radicals fear only Sunni suicide bombs. The bombing attacks increasingly target radical Shia militias, mainly those loyal to Muqtada al Sadr. Lacking the equipment and trained personnel to carry out an efficient counter-terror operations, Sadr has ordered his guys to just go out and kill lots of Sunni Arabs, any way they can, each time an Sunni bomb goes off in a Shia neighborhood. This has been going on for the last three months, leaving nearly 10,000 civilians dead. The Sunni terrorists and Shia death squads stay away from Iraqi and foreign troops and police. Even with al Qaeda crippled, there are still several Sunni Arab groups, mainly driven by a radical religious views ("Shia are heretical scum"), who believe that the Shia can still be terrorized into submission. Or, as some believe, a "civil war" can be triggered. This, so the myth goes, will arouse the Sunni Arab masses. Some radicals believe that the Sunni Arabs are actually the majority of Iraqis (actually, they are less than 20 percent, closer to 15 percent these days as more of them flee the country). Other radicals believe that, if Shia death squads kill enough Sunni Arabs, the Sunni Arab nations will be forced to invade and crush the upstart Shia once and for all. It's left rather vague exactly what the U.S. forces would do if Syrian, Jordanian, Kuwaiti and Saudi troops suddenly entered the country.

The government knows that there are only a few dozen, at most, gangs involved in all this killing. The current deal is for the Sunni Arab community to shut down their thugs, while the government takes out the Shia militias. The government has started carrying out their end of the deal, but the Sunni Arabs have moved more slowly. This is because the Sunni Arab thugs are paranoid, quick on the trigger, and willing to murder prominent Sunni Arabs. The Sunni Arabs fear trapped, caught between their own radicals, and the majority of Iraqis (Kurds and Shia Arabs), who would just as soon see Iraq free of Sunni Arabs. The hatreds go deep, Saddam's decades of brutality against Kurds and Shia Arabs saw to that. While pundits go on about Iranian desires to dominate Iraq, the reality is more about vengeance against Sunni Arabs for past sins. Nothing too complicated, but it's a fire that's very difficult to put out.

And despite reports in the press, MNF has not been totally idle. AFP reported on July 8 that:

Sadr City and Internet bulletin boards buzzed with talk that a US-Iraqi raid on the poor Shiite district that killed nine was targeting a militiaman nicknamed the "Shiite Zarqawi". There were suggestions that the unnamed "high-level insurgent leader" US forces said they had captured in Friday's nighttime raid on the industrial "Kisra wa Atash" neighbourhood in the northern fringes of Sadr city was a shadowy and brutal Shiite militiaman known as Abu Deraa.

It's also clear that President Bush recognizes the problem. AFP reports:

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House expressed disappointment at a security plan for Baghdad and said President George W. Bush will discuss the issue during a meeting here with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. A senior US administration official said the security plan will likely be changed. "The initial results of that plan have been disappointing," the official told reporters ahead of Tuesday's White House meeting between the two leaders. The official said Bush and Maliki may discuss new deployments of troops for the Iraqi capital composed of both US and local troops. But the official said Bush would also press Maliki to take "hard steps" to rein in the Iraqi militia, arguing that safety would not improve until Iraqis ran security operations themselves.


Just how successful Caldwell will be is now informed by the circumstance that tensions appear to be rising all over the Middle East between Sunni and Shi'ite factions to put it simplistically. One theory is that this tension is a direct result of the competition between Saudi Arabia and Teheran for the religious leadership of the region, as manifested by the Saudi condemnation of Hezbollah's activities in Lebanon. Australian correspondent Martin Chulov writes from Beirut at about the open challenge from Teheran for leadership in the region in a long and somewhat rambling article.

With civil war threatening in Iraq, a realignment in the Middle East along theocratic Islamic lines is looming, and Israel's and the West's regional influence may ultimately be diminished or destroyed. ... But Hezbollah now has broader ambitions. In the war-torn south of Lebanon, its banners and mosaics are emblazoned with a key theme: Jerusalem. The group no longer wants to stop at the Israeli border, it now lays claim to the Jewish capital in the name of Shia Islam. ...

"Much more important, other Arabs view Hezbollah as the paid agent of its Shi'ite brethren, the leaders of non-Arab Iran. That makes it much easier for Sunni Arab states such as Egypt and Jordan to stay on the sidelines.

"In the Arab world, only Syrian President Bashar al-Assad supports both Hamas and Hezbollah. Would he help both by, say, opening a new front on the Golan Heights? Syria has large artillery forces that could quickly launch a tremendous barrage; it has missiles that can reach deep into Israel, and its armoured forces and commando units could go into action almost immediately.

In the minds of some at least, Iraq and Lebanon are two separate battles within a single theater.


Blogger desert rat said...

Three months, 10,000 dead

The Generals figure there is a problem?

I heard a talking head say that the Israeli Government would lose credibility if the civilian casualties there continued.
D+10= what, 20 dead?
Iraq, that be a thousand.

Those 130,000 US troops are not even used to influence Regional politics, which could be explained, but to not control Baghdad, after three years, that's de facto defeat.

7/21/2006 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

desert rat,

Clearly there is a problem, something that got caught up in the toils of the deal that Khalilzad and Maliki had worked out. That deal has been overtaken by events, events which were already in train before Lebanon, but which Lebanon made evident to everyone.

So Baghdad is wound up with Iran, the situation in Lebanon, the Iran nuclear weapons program and politics in Iraq. At least that's my guess.

7/21/2006 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger Final Historian said...

Why do you think that Iran so desperately wants Nuclear Weapons? Not to use them on Israel. That means certain death. No, to use them on the damned, treacherous Sunnis of course. Destroying Israel isn't enough for the Mullahs. They want the whole enchilda. That means reversing a thousand years of history, and turning Shi'ite Islam into the dominate sect. Take out the Sunnis, then destroy Israel. Thats the strategy. Nuclear weapons are key to their victory against the Sunnis. The Mullahs see nukes as the key element to keep the US out of things. The US effort in Iraq has, unfortunately, helped them in this regard. However, things aren't over yet.

7/21/2006 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

My theory is that al-Qaeda and the Iranian government, more or less in league with each other, have decided they would rather see Iraq go down in a blaze of sectarian warfare than take the risk of letting a stable Iraqi democracy take root.

It may seem counterintuitive that Sunni and Shi'ite death squads would have a tacit alliance with one another to incite this vendetta, but both factions have an interest in keeping the death mill running. The idea would be to disgust the American public so much with how the Middle East goes up in flames that our troops are withdrawn out of sheer revulsion at Muslim barbarity. If American troops are withdrawn in reaction to these atrocities, the Sunni and Shi'ite death squads would become masters of Iraq. Roosters strutting among ruins perhaps, but still the roosters.

Sadly, the terrorists may actually win on that score. It may be possible to defeat the free democracies not through victory in battle, but by creating images so appalling that they make American civilians barf just to think about them.

I think the Iranian government thinks the American public cannot stomach a war against the Iranian government after the disgusting images Americans have become accustomed to from Iraq. Our enemies know that nauseating images can be a highly effective deterrent to keep our military at bay.

7/21/2006 07:55:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Helpful host,

There are but three States of influence that support Insurgents and terrorosts in Iraq.
Syria, Iran and the KSA.
There are but two that support Hezbollah. Syria & Iran
The KSA fills the role of Stalin for WWIV.

We should be mobilized in Iraq, two Brigades, publicly massing in the western deserts.

Syria is on the bubble, the sooner popper the better.

7/21/2006 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Sadr has ordered his guys to just go out and kill lots of Sunni Arabs, any way they can, each time an Sunni bomb goes off...

So this Sadr fellow just keeps going and going and going... Truly amazing to me.

7/21/2006 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Early on the Brits got to take on the Shi'ites and went for the "softly softly". While the US came down on the Sunni insurgency pretty hard. This must have reflected a political appreciation that has taken some knocks. I think the Brits were somewhat shocked when they started getting directly targeted by the Iranian proxies in the South.

Some of the political asumptions on which the counterinsurgency campaign and indeed the Iraq campaign now look to be wrong. Iran being the wrongest. The other possibility is that the assumptions were right at the time but that things have changed.

Israel thought it could trust the Hez and mistakenly too. Well, that's my too comment limit.

7/21/2006 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

final historian said:

Destroying Israel isn't enough for the Mullahs. They want the whole enchilda. That means reversing a thousand years of history, and turning Shi'ite Islam into the dominate sect.

Well, 85% of the world's Muslims are Sunni and 15% are Shi`a. Having a nuclear arsenal may make you invulnerable to regime change by the US, but as Israel is finding out this week it's no panacea against a stateless and dispersed foe. It would be a black irony, if, after exporting terrorism to Iraq to harrass the Americans for so long, they end up on the receiving end of 850 million pissed off Sunnis with suicide jackets.

7/21/2006 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Angst and weltanschauung explain General Schoomaker's curiously depressing observation, "I don't think we're losing."

Several days into the Lebanon crisis I vaguely recall an Israeli general saying, "There is no military solution to this crisis."

It is the water, isn't it?

7/21/2006 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger PossumTater said...

We done need a surprise, like an Inchon landing.
Why I remember in Vi-et Nam, Sonny Barger, head badass for them Hell's Angels done volunteer-ed the whole of 'em to go over there and kill Charlie.
Now here's the surprise. We git all these old geezers from da Nam with their Harley's and just mess up all up and down the Baghdad streets, whoopin and vroom'in. Hell we wouldn't even mak'em wear helmets.
Hell's com'in on a Harley Charlie worked once almost
Hell's com'in on a Harley, Habib might do it..
Ain't nobody got a better answer..challenge coin down.
Truth in reporting ..I own Harley stock.

7/21/2006 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger Hanba'al said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7/21/2006 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"It would be a black irony, if, after exporting terrorism to Iraq to harrass the Americans for so long, they end up on the receiving end of 850 million pissed off Sunnis with suicide jackets."

I believe that's called a twofer.

7/21/2006 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger Hanba'al said...

I suspect Iran is in a new phase of war by pursuing nuclear weapons to counter the nuclear threats of Israel and at the same time, using proxy wars to leech bloods from the IDF and Israel's economy.

7/21/2006 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger PossumTater said...

OK, serious time.

Are the free "Western", even "Occidental" countries going to let terrorist win and set the world back a few hundred years?
We've piled up enough words on blogs to smother the planet with x's and o's.
Just when are we, anybody, gonna take off the gloves, quit the patty cake patty cake with 130,000 troops instead of 300,000 to 400,000 even if it takes a draft, or an atomic bomb...this protracted crap is exactly that...trying to finesse a war with fanatics ..who are the crazies in this equation? It is time to lay waste..way past time..i'm sick of saying it and then reading fifty scenarios about how we can do this and that. Wipe out Damascus,Tehran,Qum. The worl dwill be a much better place..this other diplomatic stuff is Crap, or is this not really a war but just a legal kerfuffle?
Now I'm going to bed lets get this cleaned up by the time I get up..OK .GO.ysb

7/21/2006 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger leaddog2 said...

Because they are Allies of Iran, watch the Chemical weapons of Syria. If they get used against Israel, all Iranian calculations are Toast, along with the Mullahs.

7/21/2006 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

teresita; 8:20 PM

My dear girl (and I mean that in the best possible way, spoken as an unreconstructed, incorrigible old shit) as I said before, I do like the way you think.

From her post, you have trish’s creative juices flowing as well.

7/21/2006 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

allen said:

teresita; 8:20 PM

My dear girl (and I mean that in the best possible way, spoken as an unreconstructed, incorrigible old shit) as I said before, I do like the way you think.

Well now I'm going to have to waste my second bullet in this thread and give you a hearty thank you for your warm comments (and possumtater is a good'un too).

7/21/2006 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

teresita; 10:37 PM

Good manners are never a waste. How many lives were saved by Grant's graciousness at Appomattox?

And who's counting?

Best wishes

7/21/2006 10:59:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

The idea would be to disgust the American public so much with how the Middle East goes up in flames that our troops are withdrawn out of sheer revulsion at Muslim barbarity.

- alexis



It's treading water - or worse - that gets us.

7/21/2006 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Even the backstroke would be OK, but the *backwards stroke*?
What I foresaw on the morn of 9-11 was a man who can be tough and stubborn as can be in some ways, and inexplicably feckless and weak in others.
Maybe the bard would know.
'Rat 8:01 PM
Them 500 Syrian Tanks would make good A-10 practice, and while they're refueling, the Spectres could lob a few rounds just to keep sharp:
That way we wouldn't have to say we did it for the J...
Practice makes perfect.
Sirius 8:01 PM,
Whata way to fight a war:
Construct an Enemy Energizer Bunny.

7/21/2006 11:37:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

trish & teresita,

Prior commencing the Seven Days' Battle, it is recorded that General Lee spent days riding the line, examining the Union dispositions, constantly, if rhetorically, inquiring of his staff, "How do we get at these people?"

Tonight, in Iraq and Israel, we most pray that there are leaders with the same élan, asking the same question.

Our enemies a not invincible, they can be beaten, but our publics and our troops must never hear "I don't think we're losing."

7/21/2006 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

You oughta be thankful, allen.

He was telling you exactly what you needed to hear.

7/21/2006 11:52:00 PM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Now if Condi could persuade Syria to join the coalition of the Sunnis, then the Western ME would face the Eastern ME, Israel could clean up South Leb on behalf of Lebanon and Syria.

Then let the two go at each other somewhere to the East of Baghdad.


7/21/2006 11:54:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Once more up to the breach, dear friends, once more;"

7/21/2006 11:54:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

But perhaps you'd like to hear something else.

We can make it up.

7/22/2006 12:01:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Wretchard - So Baghdad is wound up with Iran, the situation in Lebanon, the Iran nuclear weapons program and politics in Iraq. At least that's my guess.

I wish it was all about external factors and politics, but I think it is more about a deep-rooted, religious hatred somewhat masked by secular Ba'athist Iraq's political system, where animosities were more predicated on ethnic and tribal lines. A hatred that has been revived and used by the Sunnis as a rallying cause, unable to be defused by the Bungling Bushies who appeared to have no clue after the "Shock & Awe, assuming the people will be happily back at work anticipating the new American Golden Age to come". And the 3 year-wait by the Shiites to see things fixed with the Sunnis by the elections, the Shiite government, the Americans, and their religious leaders is apparantly over...their patience exhausted.

The Shia are now killing, and it feels good!

I don't think they want to stop. After all the suicide bombings, the Sunni death squads killing shia motorists going about their business, after 800 years of second class's finally time for payback, a cleansing to secure their towns and villages from the Outsider, And Iran will help!

And the refugees from sectarian threats are on the move like they were in India for the Partition in it's early phase.

The Kurds have a tightrope - they want autonomy, they don't want to tick off the US or give Turkey a pretext to invade - but they had Sunni land-grabbers come in and put up Settlements or just take Kurd houses from the late 60s to 2002, and take most of the revenue from oil assets in Kurdish territory. And of course there is that slaughter and gassing problem. They wish to cleanse most Sunnis off their soil, and hope to get to do some butchery themselves.

Democracy is no panacea. No bulwark to stop a civil war no matter what the Neocons say.

Americans of the same ethnicity and religion under "The World's Greatest Democracy" for 80 years - then killed 660,000 of the 31.4 million Americans then alive in 1860. 1 of 3 white Southern males of military age.

Civil wars among Han Chinese sometimes were resolved by the total annihilation of the losing side. The European Civil wars needed to resolve the Reformation and Counter=Reformation were estimated to have killed one in 4 people in Germany and the Netherlands.

Supposedly Saddam is rested, tanned, and ready to fix things....
Perhaps it's time to start talking about hanging Doug Feith and Richard Perle and Ahmed Chalabi instead.

Teresita - Having a nuclear arsenal may make you invulnerable to regime change by the US, but as Israel is finding out this week it's no panacea against a stateless and dispersed foe.

I would like to point out that the notion that having a nuclear weapon makes one immune to invasion or regime change originated in the Press, not the military.

The press does not understand that the US military could destroy N Korea, Pakistan despite their trying to use nukes. Pakistan was one or two meetings with Musharaaf away from war with the US before they decided they were "with us". If needed, Iran having a nuke or two would not deter regime change - it would likely compell it.

And many who write columns saying America MUST ATTACK Iran, like tomorrow....before it is too late and Iran has a nuke making them invulnerable and ready to destroy America happen to be people that know Iran with a handful of nukes would not be a great danger to the US - but hope to dupe the Bushies with their hype to get America in a 3rd simultaneous War far bigger than the two we are currently sucked into, and use our blood and treasure to preserve their "special friend's" nuclear monopoly in the ME.

What we might do, if we can somehow get past the next 2 1/2 years of Bush and the remaining Neocons machinations to get their Iran War, is for the successor Administration to close a deal on a nuclear and strategic-missile free ME, guaranteed by the 5 permanent members of the Security Council in a binding non-UN treaty with the Arab States, Israel, Turkey, and Iran.

Even China, if need be, in deperate circumstances, could be defeated and regime-changed by us at a cost of a few tens of millions of Americans.

Only Russia was secure against US invasion and regime change, and wiser men than Bush and the Neocons had a non-military way to get regime change that eventually worked.

7/22/2006 12:30:00 AM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Well, a few tens of millions of Americans here, and a few tens of millions of Americans there, and pretty soon you're talking some real Americans.

7/22/2006 12:43:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

You Potato-e Heads'll have more of the country to yourselves!
Might even lease some land in CA to grow glowing potatos for festive occasions!

7/22/2006 01:01:00 AM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Slo-Glow Baked potatas--not a bad idea.

7/22/2006 01:14:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Many fault Bush for placing his bet on the long shot, on the optimal: Iraqi Democracy in the Middle East.

Of course, nobody disputes that it is, and was, best case scenario. Even Bush admits as much. ("Beginning of the end vs. end of the beginning.")

But take a closer look at the latter part -- "end of the beginning." What could that possibly mean?

Maximin, ladies and gentlemen. Maximin, through divide and refocus (a hint: in this outcome, it's not us who becomes refocused).

Never forget: a loss in Iraq means red on red. That's why the move was so smart.

As for Israel, she is the only nuclear power in the region, and she is a stable, free, peace-starved, non-expansionist, mercantalist democracy. Realpolitik -- not Jews or neocons -- demands that she receive favorable status, Cedarford. Any argument otherwise -- that she makes people hate us oh so badly, for instance -- seeks to derive the imperatives of foreign policy from the unproven tenets of popular psychology.

7/22/2006 02:09:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

If your loss scenario played out, wouldn't that be about the most expensive and tragic means to such an end that one could imagine?

7/22/2006 03:14:00 AM  
Blogger whit said...

Finally, instead of carping, some ideas:

" for the successor Administration to close a deal on a nuclear and strategic-missile free ME, guaranteed by the 5 permanent members of the Security Council in a bindingnon-UN treaty with the Arab States, Israel, Turkey, and Iran."

Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha,Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha,Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha,Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha,Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha,Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha,

7/22/2006 03:17:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Worse, doug.
It's one thing to bet big and lose, another entirely to borrow the money to do it.

It's a credibility thing, for the US.

We've cut and run on the Iraqi, and didn't even leave their country to do it.

7/22/2006 03:22:00 AM  
Blogger whit said...

Aristides said:
Never forget: a loss in Iraq means red on red.

Unlike some, I do not consider Iraq a US defeat or a loss. It is the Arabs in Iraq who are the losers. For the US, Iraq could be an experiment that while noble, did not work out as hoped.

The alternative was simply bombing until the rubble bounced which may be the preferred method from here forward.

That's one of the reasons why the move was so smart.

Another reason:
1. Removal of Saddam Hussein.

7/22/2006 03:50:00 AM  
Blogger Habu_3 said... nukes,Israel,dispursed foes....good observation however if the nuked land is uninhabitable for decades to come (say Bekaa Valley) then the bas guys have fewer hideouts,fewer hideouts easier to find.
At some point to wipe these Islams out it's got to get to nukes.

Abe Lincoln said when he found a general who could face the arithmetic (of killing) the Union would win. He found Grant.Well our service charm schools don't produce Grants anymore, we get guys with enough ribbons to qualify for the Rose Bowl parade and the Magnolia Ball.
We have to start bust'in some big numbers 100, 200,000..then we'll see where things are going.
Two or three soldiers take a hit now and it's like, Oh MY GOD.
By the way, do'in some good work lady.

7/22/2006 05:17:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...


Great to have your insight.

I detect a certain view on this thread that perhaps the US is impotent in Iraq at the moment.

This is one of the great results of the Israeli action: it's beginning to dawn on the Arab world just where its lunacy is leading.

Yes, the US is sidelined, but for all the best reasons right now - the Arab confrontation with modernity has introduced yet another uncomfortable moment: Sunni V Shiite is so Bedouin, so 7th century. So NOW!

Let it roll. Then let's roll.

World domination is inevitable for only one culture - Anglosphere. All we're disputing now is the timeframe.


7/22/2006 05:20:00 AM  
Blogger gokart-mozart said...

whit 3:50AM "Another reason:
1. Removal of Saddam Hussein."

He's not really gone until he's dead.

HIs cent jours are still in the future.

7/22/2006 05:25:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

Lord have mercy; do you people ever get tired of wallowing in defeatism, despair, and despondency? A few crazy sunni's are killing a few radical shia, and a few radical shia are killing sunni's, big deal. The center's holding, and the Army is going after both. That's all you can ask for.

In the mean-time the Mullahs have two nascent democracies, and 130,000 American troops on their East and Western borders. How would you like to be in their shoes?

Syria is cut off from their only ally by the same forces. How would you like to be in their shoes?

You're always mad at Bush, because he won't go "bomb" this country or that country, without thinking through the long-term consequences.

Give it a Rest! There's "Serious" work to be done, here. We've got to figure out how to neutralize the Iranian Nuke program without starving a significant proportion of the world's children (that's what would happen if you took the ME oil off-line, tomorrow.)

We've got to figure out how to put the cancer of "Islamic Extremism" into Remission (you'll probably never be able to cut it out entirely) without a "War of the Worlds," clash of Religions.

We "Cannot" go to War with the "Muslim World." That way lies Tragedy. They "Must" be assimilated into the 21st Century.

We're making progress on that. We're coopting countries away from knee-jerk support of all Islamic Terrorism. True, we're only to the point of breaking it down along Sunni-Shia lines, now; but, it's a start.

Maybe Iraq isn't "breaking down" exactly as you'd hoped and dreamed for; okay, but it is moving forward. It may be moving slowly, but it is moving.

We have 130,000 Brave Troops over there doing a Great Job for Us. Don't cut them off at the knees carping about their leadership. Worse yet, don't destroy your own will to fight , by engaging in self-defeating pessimism, and political nihilism.

Write a Soldier or Marine a thank-you note, today; donate a couple of dollars to a fund for children of the fallen. Be optimistic, Guys, We're Winning!

7/22/2006 05:33:00 AM  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

The faultlines running through the Middle East are in play now, all of them. Including religion there are ethnic problems between Arab/Persian/Kurd populations, inter-sectarian problems internal to Sunni and Shia, familial and tribal ties that cross borders, Nationalism/Pan-Arabism/Transnationalism that interdivide all of the previous, social differences abouth which people/nation/region are better, and, finally, the old three Peoples of the region always balancing between them being Egyptian/Arab/Persian each with long histories, long memories and willing to dig up truly ancient grudges.

Iraq is multi-fractionated with the Shia heavily divided into at least three camps with two of those being anti-Iranian as they do not like the 'lesser teachings' of them. They are also the ones with familial ties to Iran and have seen, firsthand, how cousins and uncles are treated by Iran. So while Sadr is backed and financed by Iran, he gains two enemies for every adherent he gets amongst the Shia population.

Trying to slice and dice Baghdad can be done if the US is willing to use B-52's and just flatten out 'no mans land' between them and those in the neighborhoods had best leave before that starts. Baghdad itself is ethnically divided amongst Arab tribes and has a Kurd fraction that cannot be easily discounted... in point of fact, the Kurds, themselves, should never be discounted as anyone thinking of starting a real civil war will have the New Iraqi Army and the Kurds to deal with, both of which will happily suppress a Sunni/Shia war. And if you start talking serious division, then the US can point out that a free and independent Kurdistan will get their backing, which is something that *neither* the Sunni nor Shia Arabs in the south want.

As much as it is easy to gloss over these differences by thinking that simple label for religious affiliation describes outlook of all with that label, it is patently wrong-headed to do so. The fracture lines *inside* sects are just as important, and sometimes even more vehement, than that *between* sects. Of amusing note was the Wahabbi fatwa against Hezbollah, which will now discomfort as Qaeda forces that are in Iran. What happens to such a force inside a Nation that has just been condemned for supporting a terrorist organization? Time will tell...

Hezbollah, by being backed by both Syria (with Assad being an Alawite) and Iran (Shia) sunk an Egyptian unarmed merchantman, thus effectively giving cause for war to Egypt to join this fray... or to Apologize openly for this doing, pay reparations and otherwise make amends... to a Secular Government of an Arab people who see themselves as Egyptians first. How would that sit with the Assyrians and Persians, one wonders?

And, because Egypt was actively in Union with Syria at one point, they could ALSO declare this to be an open breach and civil war between them. I would encourage Secretary Rice to take a side-visit to Cairo and let them know a couple of Aircraft Carrier Battlegroups and the Sixth Fleet stand ready to defend and support Egyptian operations against Syria, including invasion. We have demonstrated that a no-account military in Afghanistan can go very far with distant US airpower... when it is close at hand a bit *more* can be dealt with and the Syrians are, by all accounts, not even as tough as Hezbollah.

Am I proposing playing off of sectarian/ethnic/social and other fears to stir the pot as it boils?

Why yes, yes I am. At this point a wider conflict *guided* by the US and only giving necessary infrastructure and airpower to those that ally in this cause for various reasons is a *good thing*. They are the Keys of Golden Opportunity that have been revealed by the shifting sands and sudden appearance of the faults at play in the Middle East. Standing UP and WITH Allies and Friends is no dishonorable thing... even if they take some convincing by playing upon their fears, once done and the support *proven* things will shift hard and drastically. By not taking an active hand in background guidance, the US leaves up to whimsy and traditional hatreds what could be put to better use in finally ending such hatreds.

By overplaying their hand through Hezbollah and Hamas, radical Islamic groups and their Transnational supporters have exposed their weak backsides and undefended torso. That pointy bit of terrorism is pretty nasty... but the faultlines necessary to keep it going can ruin the infrastructure necessary to support it.

Better to attempt and guide the events *now* than let who knows what happenstance shift other faultlines throughout that region. I am sad to see so many deaths over these things, but better to help end those problems *now* than to leave them to move unguided on their own to an unknown destination for generations still yet to come. Now is the time to leverage all of the faultlines that can be gotten to OPEN and relieve the stress and get something closer to a natural state of affairs amongst States, rather than this foolish notion of a 'status quo' that only ends up with more and more and more dead year on year.

And the goal is to re-affirm the Peace of Westphalia and get rid of this noxious idea that terrorism has a *point* or that it is *valid* in any way, shape or form. That MUST end for the Nation State *system* to survive. For the only replacement for it is a Transnational State.

One of Tyrrany.

7/22/2006 05:54:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...


What he said.

Years ago, on a different Belmont Club thread, I said that the greatest error of the 'do gooders' was to say "We care".

The problem with this phrase? Exploiters will create victims, worse a 'care' industry. Pallestinians, yes - Arabs? is GWB a Protestant.

GWB is saying now "We don't care"

Subtext? You're on your own, Oh ME potentates.

Sub-sub text? Have you as many cattle as the size of your bullshitter hat implies?

Oh the consternation of the protesters - nobody feels my pain.

Over to you, Religion of Peace.


7/22/2006 05:57:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

Having said all that, Here is an Article, I wish John Bolton would pass around the Security Council, tomorrow.

7/22/2006 06:03:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...


I'm not in love, but what he said.

And now that his country is in ruins he wants to call it a draw - President Lahoud


7/22/2006 06:24:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...


If red on red had been our objective, that'd be one thing. We'd be achieving our objective. We'd be perceived as winning. Big.

It wasn't our objective. It wasn't anywhere in our grand declarations.


If the drip-drip-drip of US casualties accompanied a sense of real progress (see above) it would hardly be an issue.

7/22/2006 06:33:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Here's a couple of good academic supports (ht Roger Simon & City Journal)for the Rufus/ADE discussion. Both longish but it's the weekend. Andre Glucksmann regards Mad Max and then calls on Europe, and Theodore Dalrymple says the problem with Islam ain't the religion, or the eschatology, more precisely.

7/22/2006 06:38:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

Hey, Buddy

I haven't read the other article yet, but the Dalrymple article is "excellent."

7/22/2006 07:05:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

The Glucksmann article is notable for having been written to the German people, and tho it starts as a standardized slam on US foreign policy, it ends by going deeper, and admitting that without Old Europe and USA coming back together, the planet is pretty much screwed, by Mad-Max urban Islamism in concert with a Russian oil oligarchy. I hope die Volker lesen.

The race is on, between the new-dawning consciousness, and the four horsemen.

7/22/2006 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

I kind of like Israel's present strategy. They're attempting to get inside the Hez "decision cycle."

By moving in and out, they are, in essence, fighting the Indians with Cavalry, and not hunkering down in fixed positions. The guerrillas are not, in this strategy, given time to react, and set up raids on static targets.

I think someone called it "reconnaisance in force." They will slowly push the edge of the envelope out farther, and farther. In the meantime, they've turned off the terrorists' cell phones, and cut off their TV. They've, also, found pathways through the IED minefields.

I think we'll be surprised in a couple of days when we realize how far out they've pushed. All without "Invading."

7/22/2006 07:18:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...


From Dalrymple: The specific (and baleful) contribution of Islam is that, by attributing sovereignty solely to God, and by pretending in a philosophically primitive way that God’s will is knowable independently of human interpretation, and therefore of human interest and desire—in short by allowing nothing to human as against divine nature—it tries to abolish politics. All compromises become mere truces; there is no virtue in compromise in itself. Thus Islam is inherently an unsettling and dangerous factor in world politics, independently of the actual conduct of many Muslims

Sovereignty is attributable only to the people who wish that sovereignty be attributable to them. Decoded, not to Gods or priests.

I'm over two posts at this point, which btw, is a great rule.


7/22/2006 07:26:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I'm also over two, so am out, but wanted to mention that Dalrymple's "All or Nothing" sub-title is portentious, and that ADE's snip is the heart of the essay, IMHO.

7/22/2006 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

Well, it was a well-written essay, but, of course he did reach the wrong conclusion. If the Jihadi segment is beaten down, and discredited, the average Muslim will go on about his business, while the Imam modifies his message, and ultimately, the religion.

We invented the "New" Testament, because the "Old" testament wasn't sufficient, in our opinion, (I've gotta be careful here. I know less about religion than any other man alive) for governing the kind of society we wished. Islam will eventually have to "Progress/Reform/Evolve," also.

7/22/2006 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

I don't like the 2 post rule. One reason is I have a "flakey" internet connection. I don't like writing big, long screeds just to have them disappear when I hit the Submit button.

I was going to say something, but I forgot what it was. Oh well, if I remember, I'll take a chance and violate the rule one more time. But, I'll try to be good. I promise.

7/22/2006 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

Besides, If the P'Tater has something to say, I'd like to hear it. If one of the Readers doesn't like P'Tater (or Wu Wei) why doesn't he/she just skip over his comment?

7/22/2006 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...


Once again, what he said before he correctly got stuck into p'tator.

the average Muslim will go on about his business, while the Imam modifies his message, and ultimately, the religion.

If only the latter were so.


7/22/2006 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Same reason people that dislike Howard Sern's act would listen twice as long as those that enjoyed the show.

Then complained about it.

moths to the flame

7/22/2006 08:14:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...


Why not install a "Tip Jar," and let it be known that people like Moi who like to make multiple posts, from time to time, should give it a hit every now and then?

7/22/2006 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...


I do feel that perception is a fundamental element for which we must account, as you know. And as you stated, grand U.S. declarations alter them negatively when they don't pan out. That is a fact.

So in a sense, I'm with you. It is true that we did not declare our objective to be the introversion of Middle Eastern Islam, nor did we discuss the utility of Operation Iraqi Freedom as being the key to unleashing the ancient tensions between the Sunni and Shia. I cannot even be sure it was discussed in the highest offices. They may not have known.

But it's true nonetheless. Now, it may be a case of God watching over children, drunks, and the United States of America, but by removing the impediment of Saddam Hussein, we released that centuries-old demon that haunts Islam to this day -- the hatred that only perceived hereticism can create.

The tensions that play out in Iraq are but a microcosm of the tensions that play out in Islamdom as a whole. Sure, one might argue that by removing her enemy we allowed an ascendant Iran, just like by removing Saddam we allowed an ascendant Shia south. But an ascendant Iran leads to a paranoid Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, etc. And while they are worrying about each other, scheming against each other, attacking and killing each other -- well, while they are doing that they won't be killing Americans. And that is what we're after.

Other perceptions are at play here besides those that judge American success or failure, and these perceptions might be the dispositive ones. How many Americans currently retain any sympathy for Muslims in general, and Arabs in particular? Not many, I would imagine. How many young men in Iraq are signing up to go to New York? Few, because their problems are more immediate, and more primal, than they were five years ago.

To be defeated in a noble effort because the metal of the Iraqis was discovered to be unmalleable is not that hard for Americans to digest, though Bush will be the scape-goat for it. The fault, it would have turned out, lies not in ourselves but in the stars. Our intentions were pure, it was the Iraqis who were flawed.

In 1946 our government identified a non-pc approach to dealing with an Islamic global threat: stroke the fault-lines within the religion, and their attention will be diverted. In-fighting will consume them, and we will be spared the worst of their lashings. That has stuck with me since I read it.

If we fail in Iraq, we will have falsified the advice of 2002. But it is also true that we would have carried out the advice of a more lucid time.

Bush's hope was for Americans to win, Iraqis to win, and Muslims to win. That is a decent, noble goal.

But Americans-win, Iraqis-lose, and Muslims-lose is not all that bad either.

7/22/2006 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger quickshield said...

From where I sit, I see the entire mess as a linkage of proxies in temporary alliance. The driving force behind all the bad deeds is the Socialist international. The communists have made alliances under religous pretexts and long lived anxieties. In truth these are the modern day Useful Idiots.

Watch how hugo tries to emerge as the conciliator the facilitator; of the Internationals role behind all of this garbage.

The US needs to pull out of the UN on notice of hugos latest moves, shut the whole thing down and give the diplomads thier walking papers.

Simultaneous to this, begin reconstituting a New N. One which is not the Subversive house of the International communist socialist movement.

7/22/2006 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Cutler said...

"And, because Egypt was actively in Union with Syria at one point, they could ALSO declare this to be an open breach and civil war between them. I would encourage Secretary Rice to take a side-visit to Cairo and let them know a couple of Aircraft Carrier Battlegroups and the Sixth Fleet stand ready to defend and support Egyptian operations against Syria, including invasion."

While I generally enjoy your posts Jacksonian, youmight want to take a look at an atlas on that one. There's multiple reasons the UAR was impractical, but a big one was the country in between its components.

7/22/2006 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

believe me, the fault was/ is not totally to be laid on the "metal" of the Iraqi.

The quality of US assistance fell way short of our 1980 - 84 standard in Latin America. Where we operated outside DoD direct control, with much smaller foot and finger prints.

Quantity does not surpass quality.

The strategy was sound, the tactical implementation, not quite up to snuff

7/22/2006 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Aristedes - As for Israel, she is the only nuclear power in the region, and she is a stable, free, peace-starved, non-expansionist, mercantalist democracy. Realpolitik -- not Jews or neocons -- demands that she receive favorable status, Cedarford.

Seems Aristedes conveniently overlooks Eretz Israel, the sending of Settlers to establish colonies on occupied lands that even the US opposed as violations of the 4th Geneva Convention before our politicans were bought by the Israel Lobby. Or how he overlooks Israel's Jim Crow society.

That one nation or another is more technologically advanced, more like us, has more "victim cards" to show, is capitalist or Christian or white when their opposition is not - in no way demands that we "Tilt" towards it, Aristedes.

Otherwise we would have sided with the Serbs, with the Aryan Christians against the godless Communists, with supporting the Czars forces over Japan in 1905.

I personally think America's interests are best served when we are Fair Brokers in any conflict we are not direct parties to.

Your solution, to maintain NPT non-signatory Israels WMD monopoly in the region, now that rival nations have the ability to seek nuclear and missile parity, since Israel is too weak to do it, is to obligate America into a series of 3-4 more draining, bloody, and expensive wars to keep Israel WMD-dominant in the region.

7/22/2006 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...




It's treading water - or worse - that gets us.

Is it treading water that gets us, or is it treading blood?

7/22/2006 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger R2K said...

4000 lbs of explosives... great.

7/23/2006 10:12:00 AM  

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