Friday, September 29, 2006

Significant developments in Baghdad

Update

Bill Roggio has an update on the story behind the curfew. "Richard Fernandez looked at the possibility that Sadr and the Madhi Army were the targets of the raid. However the politician in question was 'Adnan al-Dulaimi, leader of the Iraqi Consensus Front, the largest bloc of Sunni parties in Iraq, which holds about a sixth of the seats in Parliament,' according to the New York Times. A bodyguard of al-Dulaimi was the target of the raid. 'American forces detained an Iraqi working for one of Iraq’s most prominent Sunni Arab political leaders on Friday on suspicion that the man was helping to plan a multiple-car suicide bombing inside the Green Zone.'"


Curfew declared in Baghdad: To run until Sunday morning in response to intelligence information about an unspecified threat. (BBC). Iraq the Model reports Baghdad clashes: “… gun battles took place in several districts … unknown armed men have taken to the streets in more than a few districts … whether the armed men belong to Sunni insurgent groups or Shia militias could not be confirmed. In fact it’s quiet possible that it could be both … TV networks reported that the home of a senior lawmaker from a “large political bloc” was raided by a joint Iraqi-American force. The identity of the lawmaker was kept secret “due to the sensitivity of the case” the report said. The news also indicated the politician was arrested after a bomb factory and at least one VBIED were discovered during the raid. So some people are speculating that the current escalation is a reaction to the arrest. Others believe the situation is connected to the threat a senior aide to Sadr made during the Friday prayers. Hazim al-Aaraji, one of the closest aides to Muqtada al-Sadr warned the government on Friday that the Sadr movement would “start a revolution to topple the government if anyone dared arrest or harm Sayyed Muqtada…” For analysis, see below:


With those opening bars, let's replay the tune (thanks to Bill Roggio's help and archives) and see if we can deduce the score.

Six months or more ago al-Qaeda tells Zarqawi to start building coalitions and quit killing everyone in sight. "you should consult with your mujahidin brothers who are with you in Iraq itself, such as our brothers Ansar al-Sunnah and others, no matter how much you have to say about, or reservations about, them, or some of them. An example of this is the issue of announcing a war against the Shi’ite turncoats and killing them. Another is, expanding the arena of the war to neighboring countries, and also undertaking some large-scale operations whose impact is great and whose influence is pervasive, and things of that nature."
US recruits Anbar tribes to fight al-Qaeda -- now reported but may have been in the works for a long time Less than two weeks after 25 of the 31 predominately Sunni tribes in Anbar Province pledged to fight al-Qaeda and support the Shiite led government of Prime Minister Maliki, the tribes have taken a shot against al-Qaeda fighters. Reuters reports five al-Qaeda were captured in the city of Ramadi, “including three foreign fighters from Yemen.”
US moves against Sadr's men in Diwaniyah, after they defy and fire on the Iraqi government forces. "Since the spring of this year, the Iraqi government and the Coalition have been slowly chipping away at Sadr's power base in Baghdad and southern Iraq. A raid on a Sadr husseiniya in in the Ur Hayy district of Baghdad in March of 2006 was followed by a strike against death squad commander Abu Duri and an operation against the Sadrain mosque in Zafaraniya in July, and a series of operations in August. Couple this with the threat to remove ministers loyal to Sadr from Maliki's cabinet, and the stage is set for Iraqi and Coalition forces to begin operations against Sadr."
The World Public Opinion Poll finds political trends which are broadly supporting of the current Iraqi government. However, the presence of US troops is a political issue which Sadr hopes to exploit to gain popularity vis a vis the Shi'a community. Outside the Shi'a community, Sadr is anathema. Among Shi'ites Sistani has 95% popularity, Maliki 86% and Sadr 81%. But Maliki is the only leader to have significant popularity among Kurds and even Sunnis. So Sadr is behind both Maliki and Sistani.

None of the Iraqis surved are crazy about being taken over by neighboring countries. "Shias have mildly positive views of Iran and its President, while Kurds and Sunnis have strongly negative views. Shias and Kurds have mostly negative views of Syria, while Sunnis are mildly positive. Shias have overwhelmingly positive views of Hezbollah, while Kurds and Sunnis have negative views."

Al-Qaeda is highly unpopular (94% negative) and only gets a 39% approval even from the Sunnis.

Most people (77%) want the government to control the militias, even the Shi'a (65%).

Slightly more than half (53%) see a withdrawal of US forces as helping Maliki's government  remove a political liability; 72% see Iraq as remaining united over the next five years.

US and Iraqi forces are unable to prosecute Sadr to the full extent because of political sensitivities. Note this example for MNF, c/o Bill Roggio. (Sept 22) BAGHDAD – A specially trained Iraqi Army unit conducted an early-morning raid Sept. 21 looking for a suspect engaged in kidnapping and murder in Baghdad. The Iraqi unit, with coalition force advisers, surrounded and entered a building believed to hold the suspect. Iraqi forces found the suspect’s passport and five Iraqi citizens inside the building. Citizens who were questioned indicated that the suspect had fled to a building listed as “sensitive,” the National Dialogue headquarters.

Based on the nature of the National Dialogue headquarters, Iraqi Army forces were denied permission to enter the building. In preparing to depart the area, the Iraqi Army unit observed that the building had numerous surveillance cameras affording an unrestricted view of the Iraqi ground force. A machine gun was also emplaced on the roof of the building. Several individuals were seen on the roof in the vicinity of the machine gun. As a protective measure, several lights surrounding the objective area were shot out by Iraqi forces to lower light levels as a precaution against the cameras and machine gun. The Iraqi force, with coalition advisers, departed without further incident. No individuals were detained during this operation.

Sadr thinks the US is trying to bait him into a confrontation -- a "make my day" scenario. The Washington Post reports. U.S. and Iraqi forces arrested top aides to anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in pre-dawn raids Thursday, according to Sadr officials who called the move a provocation designed to trigger a full-blown battle between the groups.

"It is obvious they want to draw the Sadr movement into a military confrontation," said Abdul Razzak al-Nedawi, a leader of the Sadr movement in Diwaniyah, south of Baghdad. "But we are trying our best to avoid such confrontation and find alternative ways to armed confrontation."

Iraq Updates (c/o Bill Roggio) confirms this perception that Sadr is being lured to his doom. He responds with a call for political war to hammer Maliki on the subject of US troop presence. The Shiite radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr seems to be willing to compromise and is urging his followers not to use force in opposing the Iraqi government and the presence of U.S. troops

“I want you to wage a peaceful war against them (Americans). I do not wish to see a single drop of blood shed because it is very dear to us. Engage them (Americans) in a popular, peaceful and political war,” he asked his followers.

The US makes the militias a major issue (UK Times), drawn a fuzzy line in the sand: A series of unprecedented comments by US officers indicated a growing anxiety over whether Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, would confront his two biggest Shia coalition partners, including the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Both have been linked to death squad killings.

One US military official, who has knowledge of national operations, said that Mr Maliki had cancelled plans to sweep Baghdad’s Sadr City, the bastion of Hojatoleslam al-Sadr’s al-Mahdi Army militia, at the start of this week.

McClatchy Newspapers (c/o) Teresita notes Sadr is trying to stave off a confrontation. BAGHDAD, Iraq - Muqtada al Sadr, the firebrand Shiite Muslim cleric whose Mahdi Army is arguably Iraq's most powerful armed group, has ordered his followers to put down their weapons temporarily, three of his aides told McClatchy Newspapers on Friday.

Analysts differed on the significance of the directive, which Sadr delivered in secret to his commanders two weeks ago in the southern city of Kufa. Some saw it as Sadr's way of distancing himself from rising sectarian violence, most of which has been blamed on his followers.

Others said the order was little more than an effort by Sadr to head off an offensive by American and Iraqi forces against his militia, which increasingly is seen as a shadow sectarian security force. Controlling many of Iraq's larger cities, the Mahdi Army uses its political hold on several government ministries to win new supporters.

Iraqi army troops clashed with Mahdi Army members last month in Diwaniya, and tensions have been rising with U.S. troops, who earlier this month detained Sadr supporters meeting in Najaf. American troops fought pitched battles with Sadr's forces twice in 2004. Both times, Sadr's forces took heavy casualties but the cleric survived, and his militia grew stronger.

Now many think the Mahdi Army controls security in much of Iraq through death squads and its infiltration and intimidation of Iraqi security forces. Sadr's political supporters are influential with Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, who won his post through the backing of Sadr, who controls the largest voting bloc in the parliament.

Analysts also think that Sadr is having trouble controlling his organization. Some militant members have criticized him for joining the political process last year, accusing him of straying from his pledge to reject the American-created government and rid Iraq of foreign forces. A senior U.S. military official said earlier this week that at least six former Mahdi Army leaders no longer answered to Sadr.

Commentary

We get a surprisingly complex view of the battle for post-Saddam Iraq. Al-Qaeda trying to get into the political game, but hideously unpopular. The only United Front figure is Maliki, but he relies on Sadr for a lot of political support. American forces are both a liability and an asset to Maliki and the question is how they can act within this political minefield. Sadr comes off looking vulnerable. He is facing threats from internal challenges and must be careful of walking the tightrope. The US continues to see whether they can't blow him away on some politically acceptable "law and order" basis (they always describes Sadr's gangs in police language if you've noticed).

We don't know what's happening in Baghdad. But I hope this backgrounder helps.

40 Comments:

Blogger Doug said...

"OT"
Aaronovitch: No Excuses for Terror
pbu ROP

9/29/2006 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

Slightly more up to date: Muqtada al Sadr orders followers to put down their weapons.

9/29/2006 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger jonesy said...

The news also indicated the politician was arrested after a bomb factory and at least one VBIED were discovered during the raid.

Oops.

9/29/2006 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Don't forget the gov't's apprehension (and killing) of Iran/Syria moneymen Omar al Farouk, in N Iraq earlier this week.

9/29/2006 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Oops, In Brit area, by Brits.

9/29/2006 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger istarious said...

Wretchard,

Baghdad under curfew, not Brussels?

9/29/2006 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

Can you say upcoming "October surprise"? A little housecleaning operation that removes Sadr and strengths Maliki.

9/29/2006 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Dees said...

Another problem is that there is not just one large Shi'a militia in Iraq, but two - the other being the Badr Brigade, which is the militant arm of SCIRI. Centered in Karbala, it is headed by Hadi Al-Amiri.
Should the Mahdi Army be taken out, the Badr Brigade would be only too happy to fill the Shi'a militia power vacuum its demise would leave behind, and the vast majority of the remnants of Sadr's then-defunct Mahdi Army would most likely join it.
For this reason, if the Mahdi Army is to be taken out, the Badr Brigade would have to be taken out along with it. This would leave Iraq essentially free of large Shi'a militias.
What reaction Sadr's patron Iran would have to such a move remains problematical.

9/29/2006 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Iraqi Linked to Sunni Bloc Is Held in Plot, Military Says
NY Times ^ | 8/30/06 | SABRINA TAVERNISE and QAIS MIZHER

Posted at FreeRepublic

BAGHDAD, Sept. 29 — American forces detained an Iraqi working for one of Iraq’s most prominent Sunni Arab political leaders on Friday on suspicion that the man was helping to plan a multiple-car suicide bombing inside the Green Zone, the military said.

Shortly after Iraqi television channels began Friday night to broadcast news of the detention, the Iraqi prime minister’s office took the unusual step of banning all vehicle and pedestrian traffic in Baghdad until Sunday morning.

The government declined to give a reason for the curfew and did not say whether it was linked to the detention. Authorities had never before banned walking in Baghdad, and the order may indicate fears that Sunni radicals might respond violently.

The military did not identify the man it detained, but said he had been at a compound near the house of Adnan al-Dulaimi, leader of the Iraqi Consensus Front, the largest bloc of Sunni parties in Iraq, which holds about a sixth of the seats in Parliament.

Mr. Dulaimi confirmed that one of his guards was taken Friday, but he said he did not know the reason.

“Credible intelligence indicates that the individual and seven members of his cell were in the final stages of launching a series of vehicle-borne improvised device attacks inside the international zone, possibly involving suicide vests,” a military spokesman said.

9/29/2006 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Bomb kills West Point's star of stars

9/29/2006 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

two articles,posted at FreeRepublic: al-Qaida in Iraq severely disrupted, General says

Ramadi has tipped to Iraqi government, coalition

9/29/2006 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

OT, but...
Holy St Pete!
The boy, who is not being identified because of his age, told the St. Petersburg Times in an interview last November, when the Times first learned of the e-mails, that he cut off correspondence with Foley. [emphasis added]
What gives? Did the boy ask the St. Pete Times not to print? Why would that be if a) he'd already sent excerpts from Foley's emails back to Congressional staffers and b) he agreed to be interviewed by the paper? Maybe the paper held off purely out a concern about libel, but the suddenness of Foley's resignation (and the fact another page has apparently come forward) suggests this wasn't necessarily the toughest nut to crack. And since Brian Ross and ABC News had no problem breaking the story wide open, the libel argument doesn't seem to hold much water.
So if the St. Pete Times could have nailed the story down a long time ago and didn't, that leads us to two fairly divergent pieces of speculation: Was the paper planning on springing the story closer to the election and got scooped by CREW and ABC News? Or was the paper deliberately ignoring the story in an effort to cover for Foley? Neither seems all that likely to me, so I'm at a loss as to what motivated the St. Petersburg Times to keep a lid on this story for the better part of a year.
UPDATE: Looks like the St. Pete Times may not have been the only group sitting on this story. Josh Marshall asks the same question of the House GOP leadership: what did they know about Foley and when did they know it?

9/29/2006 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Its also possible that the events in Bagdad have something to do with the common cause the sunni tribes in Anbar are making with the US and the payoff in the power balance in Ramadi tipping in favor of the the Coalition.

IE the events in Anbar would force the hand of sunni anti coalition forces in Bagdad in order to "keep their place in line". But they would also lack the support the majority of the sunnis because of the deal in anbar. Therefor their plots get exposed.

In short the Anbar alliance which is forcing a rebalancing of power in Ramadi in Favor of the coalition is likely also forcing a rebalancing in Baghdad.

The reason for al sadr's standing down is that with the sunnis taking a lower profile he
does not want to stick out like he did after first falluja.

9/29/2006 11:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that it hasn't become obvious yet to anyone that Iran is not a country that is ready for democracy.
Trying to impose democracy on them is a mistake. What they need is a benevolent dictator. Saddam Hussein was good as a dictator but was a butcher.
The Shah of Iran was a benevolent dictator by comparison but an ineffective one. Maybe the US should set up a school for dictators before they decide to depose people like Saddam. Let's be realistic and not idealistic and admit that democracy is a system that has to evolve and not be imposed upon a country.

9/30/2006 02:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant to say Iraq, but the comment is relevant to Iran as well.

9/30/2006 02:22:00 AM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

Lexcen, how noble of you to condemn millions of people to tyranny because you believe that they aren't "ready for democracy". Dictators are rarely benevolent, and someone like Pinochet or Ataturk are a rare breed in that dictators don't like relinquishing their power. The road to democracy is never easy. Pick up the history books and you will quickly find that out. You, I assume, live in a society in which the hard battles establishing democracy were fought generations ago, and you in your easy chair think democracy is something that only a few are "ready for", something that comes "naturally". Democracies always have their enemies, both external and internal. The external enemies fear that the "virus" of democracy could spread to their country. The internal enemies fight to retain or expand their power. The enemies of democracy in Iraq are numerous and will do everything in their power to see that it is stillborn. They are counting on allies like yourself that will throw up their hands and walk away from the difficult task. Yes, Iraq could go the route of Germany after WWI or perhaps France after its Revolution and return to a dictatorship worse than Saddam, or it could go the route of Japan after WWII and become a model for the region. How this plays out is anyone's guess. I choose to believe that in the end a peaceful and stable Iraq will emerge. Yes, much blood and treasure will be spent to see that day. And it will take the Iraqi people working together and deciding together that the democratic way of life is worth fighting, and dying, for.

"It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things."
~Theodore Roosevelt

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
~ Thomas Jefferson

"Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty."
~ Thomas Jefferson

9/30/2006 03:37:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Tarnsman said...
Lexcen, how noble of you to condemn millions of people to tyranny because you believe that they aren't "ready for democracy".

Tarnsman, democracy must be contained within a form or structure, anything from a Town Hall to a nation-state. Iraq is not a viable nation-state. It contains separate political cultures that do not want to reconcile or tolerate each other.

Aside from form, democracy must be anchored in political culture. Many cultures have values, mores, and hierarchies that are unsuited to democracy. Can you have truly free and fair elections in a culture with strict tribal hierarchies and rule? Or will the tribes vote in lock step with dissidence punished in traditional ways?

What of democracies in societies run by Islamist political parties? How many rights and political options can be had in a country ruled by elected clerics? Look to Iran and Hezbollah for that answer, then take a hard look at their cousin, the theocratic mini-state developing in Southern Iraq (Basra).

In many instances, the addition of democracy to unstable states has pushed them into further violence or dissolution. Read the political scientist Mansfield and Snyder, for their analysis of the Congo, Yugoslavia, Burundi, Sudan, the former USSR, etc.

Yes, Iraq could go the route of Germany after WWI or perhaps France after its Revolution and return to a dictatorship worse than Saddam, or it could go the route of Japan after WWII and become a model for the region.

Oh, it's become a model allright, just not one of which sweet dreams are made of.

9/30/2006 06:24:00 AM  
Blogger woof22 said...

Oh, it's become a model allright, just not one of which sweet dreams are made of.


--- Its been less than 6 months since the government was formed. Too bad we are so used to CSI wrapping everything up in an hour. I blame our educational system, nobody understands history.

9/30/2006 06:33:00 AM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

lexcen said:

Let's be realistic and not idealistic and admit that democracy is a system that has to evolve and not be imposed upon a country.

Our democracy evolved after the intervention of the Enlightenment, which came late for Christianity and has beem built upon. It came early for Islam and has been forgotten (think of the great Muslim chemists and astronomers and mathematicians around 1000 AD). Don't hold your breath on Muslim "civilization" experiencing a second golden age when their greatest achievement is to wire a cellular phone made in Germany to blow up dynamite planted in a grade school.

9/30/2006 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger reoconnot said...

"Can you have truly free and fair elections in a culture with strict tribal hierarchies and rule?"

Can the United States have fair and free elections when the opinion makers -80% of the MSM tribe and 90% of the academia tribe -are shilling for one party- not to mention the influence purchased by Soros?

Can the United States effectively fight a non-existentialist war when 40% of its population see every setback as an opportunity for partisan attack?

9/30/2006 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger fred said...

lexcen and reocon are not very patient Americans. At least reocon can present a reasonable, erudite argument. On the whole, our culture has been conditioned to have the timeframe and patience of media talking points and soundbites. Largely devoid of a longer view of history, what little of history it now gets from your friendly NEA factory. In fact, we no longer see evidence that history is taught within that NEA monopoly. It is now a pot pourri called "social studies," where the topic du jour either adheres to a pc syllabus of approved topics, not set in any timeline of historical development, or it is presented in an ad hoc manner by teachers who have an agenda with a captive audience.

I am one of those Americans who, in the current climate, has gone off the reservation and educated himself about Islam, its texts, and its history. Plus, I've already amassed more knowledge of history by the time I graduated from high school than most imbibe by the time they graduate from college. Most of it was done on my own. Therefore, I am patient enough to take the long view of history. However, let me remind the participants of this discussion that a Republican form of government is more durable than a "democracy." Democracies can be shut down by dictators and movements that can obtain power by the ballot and then suspend the process indefinitely.

I remain skeptical that what everyone understands by "democracy" can really establish itself within dar al Islam. I am willing to see the process be given time, but if in ten years it is still not working in the land of Ur and Nineveh then I am going to assume that Qur'an and Sunnah are more durable in that culture.

There are plenty of reports out of Iraq that Christians and their churches continue to be attacked and that the few Christians who are left are trickling away into the status of expats. So much for minority rights.

For the record, I am pleased that we shoved the Babylonian Baathists aside. The status-quo under them was only going to get worse, plus the sanctions regime was going to be swept away. The results would be catastrophic. At least now we will have bases over there and can keep tabs on the situation. Plus, having those bases sure will screw up the Iranians and mess with their heads.

9/30/2006 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger sfrcook said...

Fred,
I couldn't agree more. Patience is a rare commodity. Remember though that "democracy" is already practiced by millions of Muslims world-wide. In India, Turkey, Europe, and in the US to name a few places. I completely disagree that Islam is inherently irreconcilable to consensual government. To quote Bernard Lewis:

" Let's spend a moment or two defining what we mean by freedom and democracy. There is a view sometimes expressed that “democracy” means the system of government evolved by the English-speaking peoples. Any departure from that is either a crime to be punished or a disease to be cured. I beg to differ from that point of view. Different societies develop different ways of conducting their affairs, and they do not need to resemble ours. And let us remember, after all, that American democracy after the War of Independence was compatible with slavery for three-quarters of a century and with the disenfranchisement of women for longer than that. Democracy is not born like the Phoenix. It comes in stages, and the stages and processes of development will differ from country to country, from society to society. The French cherish the curious illusion that they invented democracy, but since the great revolution of 1789, they have had two monarchies, two empires, two dictatorships, and at the last count, five republics. And I'm not sure that they've got it right yet.

There are, as I've tried to point out, elements in Islamic society which could well be conducive to democracy. And there are encouraging signs at the present moment—what happened in Iraq, for example, with millions of Iraqis willing to stand in line to vote, knowing that they were risking their lives, is a quite extraordinary achievement. It shows great courage, great resolution. Don't be misled by what you read in the media about Iraq. The situation is certainly not good, but there are redeeming features in it. The battle isn't over. It's still very difficult. There are still many major problems to overcome. There is a bitter anti-Western feeling which derives partly and increasingly from our support for what they see as tyrannies ruling over them. It's interesting that pro-American feeling is strongest in countries with anti-American governments. "

To Lexcen, I would only say that such an approach was practiced for most of the last century. Its ultimate fruition arguably being 9-11. It seems to me that there are only two competing alternatives left: theocracy championed by Tehran and Osama, or our course and consensual government.

To Reocon: the nation-state is not a prerequisite for consensual government to thrive. It was not democracy that lead to the troubles in Yugoslavia, USSR, etc., it was the lack of it. True, elections may lead to the ascension of unsavory characters and movements. But one man, one vote, once; does not a democracy make. However it does force them to remove the veneer of romantic "resistance" and victim-hood and actually govern. And dare I say, forces them to be ultimately answerable to their electors.

To Teresita: Only that "democracy" or republican government, pre-dates Christianity. And if it can be reconciled to the caste system of Hindusism, or can be imposed(where it actually was "imposed") on a semi-feudal, autocratic Japan, then I am very optimistic it can work in Iraq. Time will tell.

9/30/2006 08:32:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Relative to being ready for democracy in foreign lands:

The Princeton Report, a recently released document that I am sure Wretchard is studying says much I disagree with but one thing that is well said indeed:

"We should not let the best be the enemy of the tolerable."

The versions of democracy that are created in lands such as Iraq may appear abhorhant to nations that have practiced it for centuries - and who have evolved it further as well as well - but that does not mean that it is not still better than anything they could otherwise expect.

Democracy was shoved down Japan's throat by Emperor McArthur.

9/30/2006 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

'magine that! All sorts of fascinating things happening in Iraq that I don't find in my daily "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" news, whether tv or print or radio.

9/30/2006 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

From the Old And the New

wretchard said...

While Spain was energized by the Reconquista in some ways it was crippled in others. For so long as conquest depended solely on willpower and grit, Spain was a great power. "Ships of wood manned by men of steel" as its extraordinary fleets, which penetrated into every fastness, were described. But.

But Spain also developed, I think, certain absolutist and obscurantist characteristics as a legacy of its fight with Islam. The Spanish fanaticism, which outfaced even the Islamic variety was poor equipment for exploiting the economic and technological changes that were to come.

The principal danger is fighting a fanatic, radical Islam is that we may become as grim and doctrinaire as the Jihadis. Win the war but lose your soul, or at least part of it. But are no few tribesmen in arid Iberian hills, and we ought to be able to beat back fanaticism if only we had a healthy -- not and excessive -- dose of self confidence. I think Eggplant has a point in saying Marxism poisoned our minds for 70 years and we are still excerting the stuff from out system. Until we awaken from its stupor we will remain vulnerable to cults which would not have even affected the West had it retained even a sensible amount of self-esteem.
//////////////////////
The spanish finally kicked out the moors from their last stronghold in 1492. The next 100 years for the Spanish were their glory days. In those days Spain's economy was fueled by the gold of the incas and the aztecs. (In fact, in years past I have seen reports that inca and aztec gold had an immense impact on the total money supply of europe well into the 1600's.)

The sale of indulgences in the middle ages was an utterly corrupt practice--that led to all kinds of superstition and witchcraft according to martin luther;The sale of indugences was one of the principal instigators of the reformation. what was the sale of indulgences about? The church would hold your ancestors hostages -- allowing you to buy them out of purgatory. today the same practice is at work in the west --only it is the state that holds the ancestors hostage.

In the central northern europe the spiritual revival of luther preceded by 15 years the furthest advance of the ottoman turks into vienna in 1532. The turks were stopped and turned back. When they returned 100 years later the famous remark of the period was that they had learned nothing.

Not so in Europe.

9/30/2006 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

woof22 said...
--- Its been less than 6 months since the government was formed. Too bad we are so used to CSI wrapping everything up in an hour. I blame our educational system, nobody understands history.

And in that time, one gov't, Maliki's, has aldready fallen. There is no real unity gov't. As Dulaimi's arrest just illustrated (Wretchard's Update), the Sunni parties are riddled with AQ and Sunni insurgents. The Shiite parties are jockeying for position within the ministries and on the streets with their competing militia. And the Kurds have already quietly seceded, protected by the Pesh Merga, running their own regional gov't, and forming their own oil deals outside of the dysfuctional federal gov't.

It is not a question of just our "patience" with "staying the course" in Iraq, whatever that means, but what Iraq's chaos means as an example to its neighbors. The death rate has been atrocious and other Arab states and peoples see Iraq falling into chaos and civil war. That is the model that Iraq is presenting to the Arab world -- just like Arab leaders warned. Who wants the chaos of Iraq for their own country?

reoconnot said...
Can the United States have fair and free elections when the opinion makers -80% of the MSM tribe and 90% of the academia tribe -are shilling for one party- not to mention the influence purchased by Soros?

Those are free associations in a pluralist republic, not tribal social structures as in, say, Somalia. Your analogy is glib and uninformed. Reoconnot, you and your Clintonian liberal friends should have learned the power of tribes to reject imposed democracy back in '93. Are you saying we should go back into Somalia to teach them democracy a second time?

Can the United States effectively fight a non-existentialist war when 40% of its population see every setback as an opportunity for partisan attack?

I would argue for a distinction between partisanship and ideology. I'm still a registered Republican, though I plan to vote Conservative or Liberatarian until Bush is out of office. Reoconnot, apply your question to the Somalia engagement, another non-existentialist engagement to promote democracy and a new world order. If you objected to that war, thinking that its premises were completely daft, would you be silent? But of course, with the other liberals, you must have supported Operation Educate Somalia, and it seems you've derived no lessons from it.

fred said...
I remain skeptical that what everyone understands by "democracy" can really establish itself within dar al Islam. I am willing to see the process be given time, but if in ten years it is still not working in the land of Ur and Nineveh then I am going to assume that Qur'an and Sunnah are more durable in that culture.

Fred, a thoughtful post. I wonder what the costs will be for a ten year engagement, and if we're willing to pay them. Already, neocons like William Kristol and David Brooks are talking about more "sacrifice" whether it's a tax hike or the draft. I don't think Americans are willing to fritter away too much more of our blood and treasure to bring the invidious orphans of Saddam more family counseling.

sfrcook said...
And there are encouraging signs at the present moment—what happened in Iraq, for example, with millions of Iraqis willing to stand in line to vote, knowing that they were risking their lives, is a quite extraordinary achievement.

But sfrcook, who did the Iraqis vote for? Who did they bring to power? Shiite Islamists, Kurdish separatists and Sunni extremists like Dulaimi. If you think that this election was a success in bringing theocratic thugs to power, then the Iranian elections of the early 80s that brought Khomeini to power were also a success! The only way to call this is a success is to ignore what the elections empowered, a fine case of what Wretchard called having "lenses implanted in our posterior". There is an air of absolute surreality in ignoring who composes the present Iraqi gov't, and it can't last for too much longer.

This past Iraqi vote was not an election, but a census, in which terrified people pulled the lever for their own ethnicity or religious faction. The liberal secularist like Chalabi and Allawi got nothing, and now Iraq is a battleground for Islamo-Leninists striving to be the vanguard. The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) is Iraq's largest party. Say the full name to yourself a few times to savor the ironies of this grand misadventure in Wilsonianism.

To Reocon: the nation-state is not a prerequisite for consensual government to thrive. It was not democracy that lead to the troubles in Yugoslavia, USSR, etc., it was the lack of it.

Empirically false. The nation-state is the largest vessel for democracy yet invented and I wouldn't want to see one any larger. You could argue that the UN is just such a thing, but its constituent parts are states (regardless of democracy) not people. It was indeed democracy that helped to fragment the USSR and Yugoslavia as individual ethnicities and suppressed nationalities mobilized along democratic lines: i.e. Latvians, Lithuanians, Chechens, Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims, Estonians, Georgians, Ukrainians, RUSSIANS, etc. These peoples did not want to stay part of the Stalinist system that suppressed their own identities, anymore than the Shiites would want to live with the Sunni who've massacred them. Again, I recommend the work of the political scientists Mansfield and Snyder on how democracy can unravel artificial nations.

9/30/2006 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Man detained at Sunni politician’s home
AP ^ | 9/30/06


Posted on 09/30/2006 9:44:48 AM PDT by bnelson44

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A security guard detained at the home of a leading Sunni Arab politician is suspected of being a member of Al Qaeda in Iraq and thought involved in planning a major suicide car bombing assault inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, the US command said on Saturday.

Guard Khudhir Farhan was taken into custody Friday at the home of Adnan Al Dulaimi, the head of the largest Sunni bloc in parliament, Al Dulaimi told The Associated Press.

The detained individual is suspected of involvement in the planning of a multi-vehicle suicide operation inside Baghdad’s International Zone,’ the US military said in a statement.

Credible intelligence indicates the individual, a member of Dr. Dulaimi’s personal security detachment, and seven members of the detained individual’s cell were in the final stages of launching a series of (car bomb) attacks inside the International Zone, possibly involving suicide vests.’

The man is suspected of having links to a car bomb network operating in the southern area of Baghdad, the military said.

He is believed to be a member of the Al Qaeda in Iraq group,’ the military said.

Immediately after the arrest Friday afternoon, Al Dulaimi denied the guard had any terrorist links, but when contacted by the AP on Saturday he seemed to be retreating slightly from his previous comments.

That individual joined my residence as a guard no more than a month ago, therefore I haven’t got complete data about his background,’ Al Dulaimi said. Anyhow, they are only suspicions about his involvement, which have not been proved.’

Friday night, following the raid on Al Dulaimi’s house, the Iraqi government ordered a complete lockdown of Baghdad to pedestrian and vehicular traffic through Sunday morning without saying why.

Speaking on Al Arabiya TV on Saturday morning, Interior Ministry official Hussein Ali Kemal said the move was to prevent the security situation from deteriorating’

That was done due to intelligence information that indicates the intentions of the terrorists to commit terrorist acts against civilians, therefore it is a measure for maintaining the safety and security of the people,’ he said.

He added, however, that the information was that there was a threat that an attack might occur against places of worship and shopping centers during Ramadan.’

9/30/2006 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Maps of War shows the comings and goings of empires in the last four millenium --starting with the egyptians.

I wish they had started a bit earlier so as to show that abraham's trek west from ur to israel was a journey from the capital to one of the provinces of the the sumerian empire.

The modern era's archaelogical discoveries are having the same profound effect on philosophical/theological debates in the west--in reverse-- that the spanish capture of the moorish libraries had in the late 1400's. (ie those libraries transmitted greek bottom's up philosophy whereas modern archaelogy tends to prove the historical accuracy of the bible and thereby its top down theology.)

9/30/2006 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Clyde said...

To be honest, I feel about democracy for Muslims the same way Lincoln felt about freeing the slaves: It's a secondary goal, not a primary one.

Lincoln's goal was to keep the Union together, whether he had to free all of the slaves, some of them or none of them to do it. Our goal should be to change the culture in the Middle East into something that no longer tolerates or encourages the murder of "infidels." If that means democratizing all of them, or some of them, or none of them, that should remain the primary goal: No more 9/11s.

My personal preference would be for everyone to live in peace and tolerance, but that's not the world we live in. And if democracy means that they elect Hamas or Hezbollah or some other group of murderous thugs, then let's bring back the realists and "our bastards."

9/30/2006 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger sfrcook said...

Reocon,

The quote you attribute to me came from Bernard Lewis in a speech at Hillsdale College. Its quite encouraging and can be accessed by typing "imprimis" in a search engine.

Yes Reocon, there is a danger that elections can result in empowerment of , shall we say, less than liberal folk. Giving people a voice in their governance can produce disconcerting outcomes. However, is the emergence of any one other than Thomas Jefferson proof of failure? Iraq's democracy is newly born. It will have to mature on its own. Would you have preferred that we install leadership of our choosing? I don't understand this juvenile notion that anything short of perfection is catastrophy. Our goal was not to ensure perfection. It was to give the Iraqis a voice. Now that some of their choices don't meet OUR standards, we apparently would rather have had them remain under the heal of tyrant. Iraq today might not be 18th century New England, but it is better than 2002 Iraq.

Your observation that the secularists did poorly does not worry me. After all, one need not be "secular" to be a "democrat." Clearly, some of histories greatest secularist, were also its greatest despots.

My statement that the nation-state is NOT a prerequisite for consensual government, is EMPIRICALLY TRUE. Surely you are aware that consensual government pre-dates the emergence of nation-states. Democracy was born in the city-state as was republicanism. The latter eventuall y effectively governing a sprawling empire. I fail to see the relevance of your statement that the "nation-state is the largest vessel for demcracy" to the discussion above.

I have not read the book by Mansfield and Synder, so I can only address the topic of the country which I am a native of, Yugoslavia.
I submit that what fragmented Yugoslavis was the collapse of communism which resulted in the emergence of a megalomaniac who attempted to realize his ambitions by trying to forcibly forestall that fragmentation. Once the coersive unity of the communists was lifted, it seems natural that rival ethnic groups would choose sovereignty. This could have occurred peacefully in Yugoslavia were it not for Milosevic. It was not democracy that caused the collapse of Yugoslavia, as much as it was Milosevic's refusal to allow it to emerge.

To Messr. Mansfield and Snyder I say, compare Yugoslavia to Czhecoslovakia. Both "artificial" states, both fragmented after communism. One did it peacefully, the other didn't. One had a Milosevic, the other didn't.

9/30/2006 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger reoconnot said...

Reocon seeks to distinguish between elections in Iraq being influenced by Iraqi tribes (which he claims is incompatible with any notion or form of democracy) and the impact of the MSM and academic tribes in America- which are 80-90% liberal and shamelessly prosethyletize their point of view in disregard of their professional obligations- by arguing that these are free associations in a pluralist republic.

This answer overlooks the fact that like hires like and so in America, like Iraq, we have a group of people - academics and MSM "news creators" -who have influence over elections totally disproportionate to their numbers. And yet no one questions that America is a democracy.

Reocon also seeks to compare Clinton’s failing attempt at nation building in Somalia with the situation in Iraq- and then hilariously refers to me as a clintonian. I am much amused. This is not the first time that a libertarian at a loss for words has referred to this conservative as a liberal. It makes me want to coin a new term:

"Saygain" v. to dishonestly accuse someone of embracing a philosophy they clearly do not hold; a dishonest rhetorical device used by people losing an argument.

I am unqualified to comment on Clinton’s attempt at nation building in Somalia as I was away golfing that weekend.

And reocon, where did I say anything about Somalia? If you keep jumping to concludions I'm going to conclude you're a liberal.

Terry Gain

9/30/2006 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

sfrcook said...
Reocon,
Yes Reocon, there is a danger that elections can result in empowerment of , shall we say, less than liberal folk. . . .Would you have preferred that we install leadership of our choosing? I don't understand this juvenile notion that anything short of perfection is catastrophy.


Yes, and in Islamic cultures without affinities for democracy, elections can also result in Islamofascism: Iran, Palestine, Southern Lebanon and now Iraq. This is a problem for US foreign policy for we are proferring elections as the solution to Islamofascism. I argue that democracy can not be a solution for this problem if it leads to Islamofascist parties taking control of the countries in question. As to installing a leader, I have to wonder if we didn't err in removing Allawi as interim Prime Minister.

Your observation that the secularists did poorly does not worry me. After all, one need not be "secular" to be a "democrat." Clearly, some of histories greatest secularist, were also its greatest despots.

Good point but it ignores the specificity of Iraq. If not secularists, then what are the political options in Iraq? I see only three, all of them bad for a unified Iraq: Sunni political parties, Shiite political parties and Kurdish separatists.

My statement that the nation-state is NOT a prerequisite for consensual government, is EMPIRICALLY TRUE. Surely you are aware that consensual government pre-dates the emergence of nation-states. Democracy was born in the city-state as was republicanism. The latter eventuall y effectively governing a sprawling empire. I fail to see the relevance of your statement that the "nation-state is the largest vessel for demcracy" to the discussion above.

I think we're writing past each other here. City states were mostly succeeded, in terms of political development, by nation-states. City-states are increasingly rare; Monaco, Macoa (China), Hong Kong, Singapore, etc. If you're arguing for city-states in Iraq, then you're arguing for fragmentation, which could be correct. T.E. Lawrence wrote that "Iraq" had three capitals: Baghdad, Basra and Kirkuk. That is the relevance of my argument for the nation-state as the largest known "vessel" of democracy, for if the nation of "Iraq" fails, then we are left with increasingly unattractive smaller parts that can be swept into the orbit of larger neighbors.

I submit that what fragmented Yugoslavis was the collapse of communism which resulted in the emergence of a megalomaniac who attempted to realize his ambitions by trying to forcibly forestall that fragmentation. Once the coersive unity of the communists was lifted, it seems natural that rival ethnic groups would choose sovereignty. This could have occurred peacefully in Yugoslavia were it not for Milosevic. It was not democracy that caused the collapse of Yugoslavia, as much as it was Milosevic's refusal to allow it to emerge.

As you must know, Milosevic and Tudjman were elected officials, party leaders that mobilized their own constituencies. Democratic options did indeed allow for, as you write: "it seems natural that rival ethnic groups would choose sovereignty". And who did they chose in the 1990 parliamentary elections? Alija Izetbegovic, Tudjman, Milosevic. The rest, as they say, is history. I believe that the '05 elections in Iraq will viewed through a similar lense.

reoconnot said...
Reocon seeks to distinguish between elections in Iraq being influenced by Iraqi tribes (which he claims is incompatible with any notion or form of democracy) and the impact of the MSM and academic tribes in America- which are 80-90% liberal and shamelessly prosethyletize their point of view in disregard of their professional obligations- by arguing that these are free associations in a pluralist republic.

Yes, you are quite correct. I am arguing that there is a sociological distinction between the two, and to conflate them in a serious discussion is sophmoric.

I am unqualified to comment on Clinton’s attempt at nation building in Somalia as I was away golfing that weekend.

I believe you. If I were still teaching I'd assign you homework to study the Somalia conflict, look at the UN/US and their Wilsonian goals for that benighted country and conlude as to why they failed. Then compare that fiasco to the present one in Iraq for similarities and differences. You could learn something, and if not, then golf still beckons.

Reocon also seeks to compare Clinton’s failing attempt at nation building in Somalia with the situation in Iraq- and then hilariously refers to me as a clintonian. I am much amused. This is not the first time that a libertarian at a loss for words has referred to this conservative as a liberal. It makes me want to coin a new term:

Obviously, 'Not, I'm rarely at a loss for words. I think you may be unaware of the political platform you are embracing. Clinton first proposed the platfrom of democratic globalism under the influence of the political scientists Joseph Nye and Benjamin Barber. The idea has, through stealth liberals, i.e. "neocons", come to capture a determinant section of the former conservative movement. The argument is one of drunken Wilsonianism: that elections introduced into the fractured and unfit Arab world will squelch Islamofascism and generate new allies from among the teeming masses of liberal Arabs who really want to be moderate Republicans. Real conservatives have been denouncing this claptrap in droves: George Will, William F. Buckley, The American Conservative, and Robert Novak. Even Neocons have had third thoughts, because elections in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon have empowered Islamofascists! You would know this, 'Not, if you were paying attention to current events.

Conservatives believe that cultural values and mores determine the success of a society, liberals believe that through gov't (usually welfare) culture can be changed to lead us into utopia. You have embraced a massive big government project to socially engineer a new political order in the Arab world and you call yourself a "conservative"? I don't think you know the meaning of the word. Explain to me how hyper-Wilsonianism, or Democratic Globalism is in anyway a conservative philosophy. Please.

9/30/2006 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Please kill Sadr and his droids!

I don't know why people keep puking out strategies here; have you not noticed yet cats in a bag have no solution but pummeling and pummeling upon a rock?

Kill Sadr! And his Sadristites!

Then see what happens. Then we shall kill the next Arab pretender fuck that comes on. That is the Tao of Arab Forced Tranformation, and it shall be no other way.

9/30/2006 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger For Freedom said...

So now they go ahead, and plan to build the biggest, fattest Mosque in London, bigger than the great Cathedrals. Call it Londonistan, part of Saudi Brittania.

Islamic culture summary:

Muslims, muslims, and more muslims. Fanatic muslims, angry muslims, crazy muslims, burqhas, terrorist muslims, insulted muslims, ranting muslims, Imams, angry imams, pissed off imams, puking imams, fatwas, nasty beheadings, killing infidels, ieds, killing other muslim muslims, terrorists, mujahedeen, jihad....religion of peace.

I think Americans are getting really sick and tired of hearing about muslims.

9/30/2006 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Reocon, you write: in Islamic cultures without affinities for democracy, elections can also result in Islamofascism: Iran, Palestine, Southern Lebanon and now Iraq. This is a problem for US foreign policy for we are proferring elections as the solution to Islamofascism. I argue that democracy can not be a solution for this problem if it leads to Islamofascist parties taking control...

I think that is right, as far as it goes. There is certainly a danger of empowering Islamofascists, but I would argue that Islamofascism is inherently anti-democratic and the people who live under these regimes soon learn to hate them.

That is the irony of present day Iran. The Islamofascists that you point to are hated by a good portion of the populace. Unfortunately, there is no true democracy in Iran, otherwise the mullahs might be looking for another gig. The irony is compounded when one remembers that once there was a functioning democracy in that country until it was overthrown in order to install a strong man more to our liking--from which, one might argue, all our subsequent difficulties with that country (and perhaps even modern Islamist terrorism itself) have ensued.

It seems to me that one of the primary functions of a democratic state is to allow a free press and access to information and ideas, in order that a people may progress and their culture improve. That, I would argue, is the reason democracy in the middle East is inherently better than either a tyranny of the dictator or the tyranny of the Islamofascists. The danger, as you point out, is that democracy may be subverted into either possibility. There is, in fact, right now the very real danger that the Islamofascists may take over Lebanon as a whole. Does that mean democracy for Lebanon was never a good idea to begin with, and so is not worth defending now?

I would argue we have to support groups who are amenable to pursuing democratic principles and oppose those who are not. It might mean opposing the entirety of the Palestinean experiment for now, and waiting for the inevitable disillusionment to follow, at which time the people of Palestine might be ready for something different, as are many Iranians now.

Or we could just quit the battle and say it's too hard or takes too much time; we can say we are too impatient and feckless to pursue it. But what we will really be saying is that we don't have much confidence in the principles and ideals on which we have built our civilization. And one should ask why that shouldn't diminish us in our own eyes, and in the eyes of those who call themselves our enemies.

9/30/2006 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

We don't know what's happening in Baghdad. But I hope this backgrounder helps.

This is getting more interesting and more crazy. The private sector - the markets - do not tolerate ambiguity. The cards are forced into play for resolution, which has a directional arrow with respect to the status quo. Markets resolve conflict. Ideologies perpetuate them. Whatever the tune the angels dance to on the head of a pin, we should work aggressively to engage market solutions to equilibrate the instabilities in the ME.

9/30/2006 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Iraq’s Sunni tribes join fight against Al Qaeda
Gulf Times ^ | Sept. 30, 2006 | AFP


Posted on 09/30/2006 2:02:49 PM PDT by FairOpinion

BAGHDAD: Western Iraq’s powerful sheikhs have launched an offensive against foreign Al Qaeda extremists on their territory, they said yesterday, in an important victory for the US-backed government.

"The operation is on!" said Sheikh Abdel Sattar Baziya, head of the Abu Risha clan and chair of the Anbar province tribal council.

"The sons of Anbar’s tribes today captured three Saudis, two Syrians and three Iraqi teenagers and turned them over to police," he said.

This is not the first time that Anbar province’s Sunni tribes have pledged to turn over the Sunni insurgents in their midst, but US officers are privately delighted that they now seem to be making good on their promise.

The supposed leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Muhajer, tacitly confirmed this Thursday in an Internet plea for Iraqi tribesmen to rejoin his forces in their battle with the "infidels".

"I tell those who stood by the betrayers and sold out their religion and honour in this blessed month: today we offer you a full amnesty," he said, inadvertently revealing the effectiveness of the new tribal coalition.

Anbar province’s fractious tribes have in the past often assured US forces that they could take care of the Sunni extremists and foreign fighters ravaging the desert province - thus far to little effect.

Baziya said that they had lost their patience with the "killing and corruption in the province which is unequalled in the rest of the world".

On Wednesday, the tribes met Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and agreed to co-operate on security in lawless Anbar, the province which accounts for the majority of US casualties in Iraq.

"We agreed to enroll as many of the tribesmen in the police and army as possible," said Baziya. "We proposed to the government projects to save the province."

US military officials are careful not to damage the tribal leaders’ credibility by publicly hailing their contribution, but are privately crowing about the alliance which they say has already made a difference.

While US forces in Ramadi have declined the tribes’ request for more arms, they do welcome their members into the Iraqi police.

Baziya gave a litany of Al Qaeda crimes in Anbar, including robbing banks, driving out humanitarian organisations, killing journalists, preying on travellers and interrupting oil supplies.

According to Captain Travis Patriquin of the 1st Armoured Division, stationed in Ramadi and involved in talks with the tribes, what really tipped the scale, however, was the assassination of a tribal sheikh in August.

"Their decision to confront those who don’t want any good for Anbar province evokes the admiration and appreciation of all Iraqis," said the prime minister after Wednesday’s meeting.

There was similar excitement in government and coalition circles in December when a similar tribal council came together and made similar promises to oppose Al Qaeda and send recruits into the police services.

That particular alliance received a massive blow in January when a suicide bomber killed 70 tribal police recruits in Ramadi and was finally put to rest when one by one the more vocal tribal leaders were intimidated or killed.

Recruits to the police forces evaporated, Al Qaeda returned in force and violence soon hit new levels.

"These initiatives have failed to date because of the tribes’ unreliability and ambivalence," Peter Harling, an expert on Anbar’s tribes with the International Crisis Group, said at the time.

Coalition forces in Anbar, however, are convinced that this time is for real with a new, more aggressive US army unit now in Ramadi and many more Iraqi troops, said Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Salas, the marine public affairs officer in Anbar, who described it as "irreversible momentum".

One coalition intelligence official said that the difference now is that the tribesmen realise that they cannot confront Al Qaeda on their own. - AFP

9/30/2006 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/30/2006 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger reoconnot said...

reocon,

Definitions change. What was far left 30 years ago is now mainstream liberal and what was conservative then is now considered far right. The use of labels is therefore problematic and it may not be anymore productive for you to call me a liberal than for me to call you a libertarian.

However, inasmuch as you wish to describe yourself as a conservative I would suggest that you are lacking at least five prerequisites of a true conservative.

1. Patience-the creation of a democracy has barely begun and it has been under the most difficult circumstances. The progress toward democracy has in fact been phenomenal. True conservatives do not give up this easily.

2. Pragmatism-bin Laden declared war on the United States, inter alia, because of the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia. On 9/11 it became clear that the attempt to contain Hussein could not continue indefinitely. America either had to go into Iraq or get out of Saudi Arabia and allow Saddam to assert his power as he pleased.

3. Sobriety- I mean this in the sense of taking a sober unemotional view of situations. The situation in Iraq is not as hopeless as you suggest.

http://www.ajc.com/opinion/content/opinion/stories/2006/09/29/0929ediraq.html

You state that Islamofascists have been empowered –I assume you mean al Sadr- but you ignore the fact that democrats and the people have also been empowered. The people have embraced the idea of electing their leaders Even if the full panoply of democratic rights aren’t understood or demanded it’s a good start. Politicians are talking rather than killing each other. It would have been better if the people had elected a more secular government but it is hardly surprising that most people went with what they knew and trusted.

4. The ability to see the forest. So having removed itself from the Middle East, how would America have fought the forces of Islamofascism? If not by assisting Muslims to establish democracies, then how do you suggest the fight be carried on? Do we retire to Fortress America and hope for the best? You are also unable to see the forest when you complain that Muslims will elect fascist governments if given the choice. If Islamofascism is a force in a country isn’t it just as well that we know about it rather than having it operate under the surface? The next attack on America will in all likelihood be like the last one-from non government agents operating with the support of a state. If not Democratic Globalism, then what? I prefer the realism and idealism of Krauthammer to the nihilism of reocon. http://aei.org/publications/pubID.19912,filter.all/pub_detail.asp

5. Moral courage. The courage to do something that should be done, despite its unpopularity and even at the risk of failure.

9/30/2006 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

sirius_sir said...
Or we could just quit the battle and say it's too hard or takes too much time; we can say we are too impatient and feckless to pursue it. But what we will really be saying is that we don't have much confidence in the principles and ideals on which we have built our civilization.

Sirius, a thoughtful post and where you and I differ is that I think the operative term is "our" in "our civilization". I believe that the principles and ideals of our civilization are culturally rooted, and that the institutions which embody them are also thusly determined. I am not a democratic universalist. I would urge a comparison between our Homeland Security Department with the Iraqi Interior Ministry under Bayan Jabr to highlight the differences.

I don't think we can force an evolution upon Iraqi culture -- regardless of time -- when A) We are a foreign antibody in their culture, just as General Abizaid has warned and B) They, the Shiite Islamists who run the Iraqi Gov't, have not experienced a total defeat at our hands. Indeed we've treated them with kid gloves because they now have democratic legitimacy. Hence, my skepticism.

reoconnot said...
However, inasmuch as you wish to describe yourself as a conservative I would suggest that you are lacking at least five prerequisites of a true conservative. . .

1. Patience-the creation of a democracy has barely begun and it has been under the most difficult circumstances.


Nation-building and democracy creation are not conservative projects, they are radical ones that seek to socially re-engineer foreign cultures with force and big government. Conservatives deride such liberal crusades as Wilsonianism. Fred Barnes, a very pro-Bush neocon writing for the Weekly Standard admitted as much in a 1/31/05 issue: (You can read the whole article on the web.)

“Oddly, the president's conservatism is not a brake on his desire to change institutions and countries. While he is philosophically conservative, he is anything but temperamentally conservative. . . . Rather than a caretaker president like his father, he's become a risk-taker, a conservative with the disposition of a radical. And a rather unusual president.”

My charge to you, Junior, is that Wilsonianism is in no way conservative. You are dodging the question. Please tell me in what way it is. We can start with Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk and work our way up to the present, but I really advise you to take a stab at the question.

2. Pragmatism-bin Laden declared war on the United States, inter alia, because of the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia.

In what way has our foolhardy democracy promotion project helped to beat back bin-Laden? Afghanistan is democratic, and allegdly, so is Pakistan. According to the latest NIE findings, the fall of Saddam and democracy BROUGHT Al-Qaeda TO Iraq. Bin Laden and Zawahiri seem to be doing OK in there latest videos, which have recently added nice, scholarly background touches like bookshelves and electric lights. Tell me, what democratic country do you think they're hiding in?

How does turning Iraq over to Islamofascists help to beat Bin Laden?

3. Sobriety- I mean this in the sense of taking a sober unemotional view of situations.

This is an interesting charge in that even pro-Bush neocons like Victor Davis Hanson have become concerned that Bush is "drunk of Wilsonian idealism". More and more conservatives are (re)joining the position staked out by The American Conservative in opposition to Democratic Globalism. The WSJ, The National Review, and The American Spectator are all either questioning their new, liberal Wilsonian faith or realizing they've been duped by the Neocons. I take it you don't read much conservative media.

You state that Islamofascists have been empowered –I assume you mean al Sadr- but you ignore the fact that democrats and the people have also been empowered.

The utter lack of specificity makes you too easy a foil. Tell me, were the Germans "empowered" when they elected Hitler? Were the Iranians when they elected Khomeini's government? You seem to be unaware that (Islamo)fascists can win power through elections. You show me a "democrat" who won in the '05 elections in Iraq and I'll show you either:
1. A Kurdish Separatist.
2. A Sunni Extremist.
3. A Shiite Islamist.

The people have embraced the idea of electing their leaders Even if the full panoply of democratic rights aren’t understood or demanded it’s a good start.

A good start? You must be kidding me. Tell me, what were the Shiite Islamist parties that made up the United Iraqi Alliance which won the majority share in parliament? Who are their leaders and what are their goals for Iraq? Do you really believe that empowering SCIRI, Dawa, Sadr and Fadhila, a bunch of pro-Hezbollah, pro-Iranian, Sharia-imposing Islamofascists is really a good start? You must be completely ignorant of the parties that make up the current government. I challenge you to research and then defend them.

4. The ability to see the forest. So having removed itself from the Middle East, how would America have fought the forces of Islamofascism? If not by assisting Muslims to establish democracies, then how do you suggest the fight be carried on? . . . You are also unable to see the forest when you complain that Muslims will elect fascist governments if given the choice.

Forest and trees? See point 3. They already have elected Islamofascists gov'ts: Iraq, Palestine and Southern Lebanon. Pay attention.

My solution to taming Islamofascism is to let the already initiated civil war burn itself out, until they learn tolerance our common sense. We should pull out and let Iraq bleed, let the Sunni Salafist and Shiite Islamist detonate each other into oblivion or peace. Nothing siphons energy off of a foreign crusade (jihad) like a civil war.

If not Democratic Globalism, then what? I prefer the realism and idealism of Krauthammer to the nihilism of reocon.

Ah, but you are behind the times, Junior. Krauthammer has renounced Democratic Globalism! He did so in his famous debates with Francis Fukuyama back in 2004. You can read about it in The Right War: The Conservative Debate On Iraq, edited by Gary Rosen (from Commentary).

Krauthammer said then:
"The danger of democratic globalism is it universalism, its open-ended commitment to human freedom, its temptation to plant the flag of democracy everywhere. Such a worldwide crusade would overstretch our resources, exhaust our morale and distract us from our central challenge."

EXACTLY. Prophetic, no? That is what is happening, what has happened in Iraq. Thanks for referencing Krauthammer. As to my "nihilism" you should learn the proper definition of a pejorative before you misapply it. My solution of balancing one Islamofascism off of another is classic realism. Straight up Hans Morganthau.

5. Moral courage. The courage to do something that should be done, despite its unpopularity and even at the risk of failure.

You want courage? Try being a conservative opposed to this war at the heighth of war fever. Try playing Cassandra, Tiresias, and Laocoon during the triumphalism that followed Firdos Square or another hollow purple finger moment as Arabs vote for Islamists. That would show you something of courage. You run with the lemmings and you want to talk courage?

10/01/2006 02:51:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


Powered by Blogger