Saturday, November 20, 2004

 

Fallujah Done... Next!


For the first time in six months I find myself at loss on what to say next… not for lack of things to say – I can write a few posts a day for a few years and not get through what I have to say… if I had the time. It is not that.

I am at loss because I do not know whom to address or how! Sometime ago, someone wrote that my problem was that I was addressing several Americas at once. This is probably true. Somebody else once wrote that I will find myself repeating myself many times, which is also true.

The other thing is that I was really almost thrown off-balance by the Fallujah campaign. Although I was expecting such an outcome… yet, the grotesque scale of destruction, the total lack of any respect for human life, the short-sightedness of short-term policy gains at the expense of enormous long-term disasters, somehow leave me discouraged and depressed.

Less than an hour ago, I was listening to someone from the US army saying that he believed that the foreign fighters they were after had left Fallujah before the onslaught!!! Really!!

Well then, what was all that bombardment, killing and the leveling of a whole town about? Now we are told that Fallujah is no longer a safe haven for terrorists. Thank you very much. What about those 300,000 people many of whom are now homeless, and only God knows how many dead? Wasn't there another way to deal with that situation? I'm sure there are at least ten different ways to handle Fallujah's problem with much less "collateral damage". But the US administration and the Iraqi Interim government in their infinite wisdom had obviously decided that this was the best way. We are even told that there have been no civilian casualties in Fallujah!

Then there was that fuss about that marine shooting the injured man in the mosque. So much of the American public seem to believe only what they see on their TV screens. Do you want to hear 200 more criminal stories, all witnessed by more than one person? I have just posted one such story in my other blog, just as an example. What do these stories prove? They only prove that there are many trigger-happy killers wearing US army uniforms or black-clad lunatics fond of beheading people on the loose in Iraq today. One problem (a "few bad apples") is yours. The other was introduced by your administration's incompetence, meddling and mistakes. In both cases, innocent people are paying the price.

Too many Iraqis know of too many such "incidents" committed by those few bad apples . How do you think they feel? Yet, some Americans try to justify such acts by saying that other criminals are doing worse things. Under what code of conduct do the acts of criminals or lunatics justify the behavior of civilized nations in a similarly barbaric manner? Superior declared ideals? Noble ends justifying any horrible means?

In all this commotion about single "incidents", the size of the tragedy itself is almost overlooked, swept aside… or maybe even forgotten.

I can also see my country being subjected to so many visible and invisible dangers. I spend so much of my time trying to understand some of these forces and fathom some of the depth of the various internal and external threats. So many noble and evil forces all intermingled in a haze of false pretences and disinformation.

I went to the farm with the hope of clearing my head. The long walks, the good weather and the peace and quiet in the countryside this time of the year usually do wonders to my mood… but it was no use.

[Incidentally, there was not much to do at the farm. For the past 17 days, there was not a single minute of electricity. For the past six months, there was literally not a drop of water in the irrigation channel. No planting. The barley season is lost (as was the corn season before). The wheat season is unlikely!]

I cannot see any way out of the quagmire we are both in – not through current policies. A comment poster, Circular, so appropriately quoted Macbeth in a comment on a previous post:

I am in blood stepped in so far, that should I wade no more
Returning were as tedious as cross over.
Things bad begun make good themselves by ill.

The nomination of Dr. Rice to the State Department says a lot about where this administration is heading, and I don't like it. I was secretly hoping that the mainstream Republicans might have pressurized Bush to moderate his policies or use a better team in return for their support during the campaign. Evidently that was wishful thinking on my part. To me this is disappointing and somewhat bewildering.

I am becoming more convinced everyday that the US should leave Iraq as soon as possible. All those potential dangers of internal civil war and those threats from neighboring countries look almost tolerable in comparison to the criminal errors of judgment and incompetence displayed by this administration. I am almost certain that, left to our own devices, our losses would be less. Even the threat of terrorism to us and to the rest of the world would be less.

Look at the Moqtada episode for example. Recall all the bloodshed and the bombing of populated areas in Najaf and Sadr City and all the violence in Kut, Amarah, Nasireyyah and Basrah. Were there any foreign terrorists in Najaf? Was all that bombing and destruction and loss of life necessary? A sick old man, armed only with the respect of other people, worked out a compromise that, within a few days, took everybody back to square one! What did all that violence achieve? Bringing Moqtada to justice? Disarming and disbanding his army? If you think so, you are in mistaken.

How can I convince "super-patriot" Americans that the "cowboy methods" used by their administration have created worse problems than the ones they were supposed to solve. These methods themselves are a major problem.

This might be something worthwhile to debate in depth… not that it will make an iota of difference. Perhaps I should not post anything when I am in such a black mood! But then again, what difference will that make?


Comments:

Welcome back! Great "holiday" by the sound of it.
Would it be in order to ask for a few items of personal information at this stage, to assist our understanding of where you are coming from? (I may have missed these but can't find them earlier in your blogs) i.e.
1) Since it seems to be becoming so important, some indication of your religious orientation and perhaps degree of conviction?
2) Your location (I'm presuming Baghdad?) and
3) Perhaps something about present or former occupation? And how you acquired such good English?

This shooting at a mosque in Baghdad (Dahr Jamail has a good report) seems to represent some sort of turning point on the part of whoever fired, ING or USA? Or was it just panic again?
 
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Oops! That was me - Circular.
 
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Hello Abu Khaleel,
Your return is timely, as we were probably reaching the unproductive screeching phase of the debate.
Nothing has been more depressing to me than the criminal[!] brutality of leveling large cities by the methods of modern warfare. Are Iraqis 100 years from now going to compare US tactics with those of the Mongols? I sincerely hope that this is the last military offensive in Iraq.
Unfortunately the nomination of widely detested Condi Rice to Powell's job will at best futher isolate Iraq as well as the US from the international community, just when international aid is needed. On a US news show it was stated that she really didn't like the Secretary of State job as it would require a lot of travel and meeting foreigners!!

"Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying ....nothing."

MacBeth is wonderful stuff.
 
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The story of Fallujah is a microcosm of what Iraq would become in the advent of a US withdrawl.

Fallujah was run by a patchwork of insurgent groups with conflicting agendas. Iraq, similarly, would be broken down into a patchwork of regions controlled by ethnic or religiously based militias - Sadr's forces, the Kurdish, the Sunni Baathists, and the Islamist terrorists.

Being the most ruthless, the Islamist terrorist groups became the dominant force in Fallujah, intimidating all of the other forces and imposing a mini Taliban like theocracy on the people. Similarly, the Sunni Islamists, being the most well-financed, organized, and ruthless, would come to dominate the rest of Iraq, and impose harsh versions of Sharia law, enforced capriciously according to the whims of whomever dominated a particular area.

Fallujah became a haven for terrorism and exported violence to the rest of Iraq. We know Zarqawi has his headquarters there. We know they held and killed the hostages there. We know they armed suicide bombers there and sent them out to kill civilians in the rest of Iraq. Similarly, Iraq would become a haven for Islamist terrorists and export violence to the rest of the world, particularly the United States. Other Iraqi groups would be either cowed or cooperate with them, just as the Taliban cooperated with Al Qaeda.

In Fallujah, the US was eventually forced to invade with overwhelming force amid extensive damage to the civilian infrastructure. With Iraq, the US would eventually be forced to re-invade with a similar degree of overwhelming force, and with all the attedant horrors of war amplified proportionally. In the event that another 9/11 style attack occured caused by a group based on Iraqi soil, I dare say that the use of tactical nuclear weapons would be authorized.
 
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Abu says "How can I convince "super-patriot" Americans that the "cowboy methods" used by their administration have created worse problems than the ones they were supposed to solve. These methods themselves are a major problem."

Anonymous says "The story of Fallujah (i.e. before it was "liberated") is a microcosm of what Iraq would become in the event of a US withdrawal ..... With Iraq, the US would eventually be forced to re-invade with a similar degree of overwhelming force, and with all the attendant horrors of war amplified proportionally."

These two statements seem to sum up the present state of the debate - with the qualification that, if I read the post correctly, the motive for U.S. re-invasion would not be that of some sort of benevolent world policeman seeking to restoring order within a troubled country, but simply self-defence against a source of "terrorism."

The implied threat being, apparently, "so why don’t you Ragheads just knuckle down now, and get it over with, because you’re going to have to eventually, one way or another."

The Vietnamese didn’t.

There’s a very interesting article at present at http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig5/crevald1.html
about Vietnam, built around Moshe Dyan’s visit there in the 1960’s.
There are three words that U.S. posters are apparently not permitted to mention or discuss. One is the "V" word. The others are the "CD" words. (Collateral Damage)
Abu’s anecdote in "A Glimpse of Iraq" seems to say it all about C.D.
Circular
 
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This analogy is erroneous, because the USSR, which was America's main enemy during the Cold War, of which Vietnam was a part, did not wage a war of terrorism against the US.

The tacitics of the Soviet Block during the cold war included many nefarious covert activities, but suicide bombings against civilian targets in the US was not among them. Thus, withdrawl from Vietnam was never likely to produce disasterous life-threatening consequences for ordinary American civilians in the same way that withdrawing from Iraq would.
 
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Therefore, what we have to do in Iraq is ..... ?
 
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Hello red anonymous (or should I say Paul Edwards-Australia?),
You tell a scary if hackneyed story. Domineering Sunni devils 'imposing' terror and sharia on feeble Kurds and helpless Shia slaves, settling up a totalitarian Iraq exporting terror throughout the world ending in a 'forced' re-invasion of US troops or a 'forced' US nuclear strike on (whatever??)in response to a hypothetical but inevitable 911 style attack. Yawn. Give the Iraqi people some credit.
 
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I'm not Paul Edwards.

I'm being strictly realistic here. It is extremely likely that Iraq *would* in fact devolve into a larger Fallujah if the US left. This is not out of lack of faith in the Iraqi people, but out of recognition of the realities of the forces at work in Iraqi society.

You have Shia Muslims who have been disenfranchised for generations, but are heavily influenced by their religious leaders, combined with Sunni Muslims who are currently influenced by an orthodox Sunni terrorist movement. These are incompatible groups who consider eachother apostates. In the North, you've got Kurds who would *without a doubt* declare independance if the US left, since we are the only thing twisting their arm into participating in a unified government at the moment, and they aren't going to risk being gassed to death again. Realistically, all this adds up to civil war. Knowing the tactics and behavior of the armed groups currently operating in Iraq, it's highly probably that Iraq would begin to look very similar to Fallujah under insurgent rule in short order. And that's a *best case* scenario. A worst case would be Afghanistan or Somalia. The hope that this would not happen is far more of a fairy tale scenario than the hope that Iraq could become a pluralist Western style democracy. if the western "neocons" are being unrealistic by hoping to impose Western style democracy, than the advocates of a US withdrawl are being even more unrealistic by hoping that the Iraqi insurgents will just put down their weapons and agree to peaceful Western style democratic elections with no foreign presence to manage the process.

Add to this the fact that the oil is based largely in the Shia regions as well as in disputed Kurdish-Arab regions, and you increase the probability of civil war still further. Iran might very well even interven to seize the southern oil producing regions under the pretext of protecting the Shia minority.

Secondly, in this likely event, it is furthermore very likely that terrorist groups wishing to launch attacks against other countries (including the US), would take advantage of the situation to set up bases in Iraq just as they did in Afghanistan, and probably in Anbar region, since it's conservative rural population closely resembles that of Afghanistan, where they previously found comfort.

So we have two highly likely scenarios in a chain there. Iraq would *probably* devolve into civil war, without a functioning government, and begin to resemble Fallujah under the patchwork of groups that ran it for the last few months. Secondly, terrorist groups would *almost certainly* exploit that situation.

In such a situation it's probable that a terrorist group based on Iraqi soil would eventually suceed in launching a devestating attack against some target, probably in the US.

Add to this the psychological boost that such an event would give to the radical Islamist movement, and that makes such an occurance even more probable.

Add still further to this the message that the more extreme the brutality of an attack the more likely it is to suceed, a lesson the insurgents are currently learning in Iraq though the hostage takings and beheadings.

In fact it is very, very, likely that the chain events I outlined would occur. Honest debate at least must acknowledge that such a scenario is possible, even probably, and that the consequences could be dire indeed. Pretending that Iraqis would somehow be better able to deal with this without the US is blind, dumb, wishful thinking.
 
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Still like to know how you think you are going to "win" in Iraq? Without blind dumb wishful thinking.
 
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So I guess if the US left, the Iraqis would turn to a strongman like Saddam Hussein to avoid civil war.
 
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Well win by having a little something called fortitude.
 
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Hello red anonymous(not Paul Edwards),
Personally, I favor partition as a joint decision of Iraqi citizens. However first Iraqis must be encourage to talk and that means withdrawl or a firm date to withdraw US troops. If Fallujah happened all over Iraq that would not be civil war but an anti-occupation insurrection by Shia and Sunni Arabs. I think you underestimate how unpopular the occupation is right now. Zarqawi favors a civil war out of blind hatred. A civil war would occur if Sunnis or Shia decide to rule unilaterally over a unified Iraq. This is why a political dialog is so necessary which the Fallujah operation may have made more unlikely. That dialog will really occur once US troops and other outsiders leave. The longer US troops stay the harder will be the hatred between the groups which according to many Iraqi bloggers have coexisted together more or less peacefully prior to Saddam.
In Iraq where everybody has a gun and militias have much more, the idea that Shias or Kurds will be swept aside by the Sunni assault is nonsense.
What is fueling the Sunni (and Sadr's 'strange')insurgency is the US occupation not Al Qaeda.
Iraqis would bridle at your suggestion that they are like wild Afghans, they consider themselves educated, civilized and sophisticated and are the owners of one of the richest deposites of oil in the world. Bin Ladin chose Afghanistan for its inaccessiblity. Late reports from Iraqi officials since Fallujah confirms that the number of foreign fighters is small.
It seems you believe that US troops are the key to peace in Iraq, the thin red line against the barbarians. Everything in the last 6 months proves that your assumption is not correct. Maybe you're the barabarian?
 
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Hello above,
Your expectations are highly unrealistic and somewhat illogical. It is very unlikely that Iraqis would suddenly start talking peacefully to one another if the US forces left. Rather, the groups that are bent on sectarian conflict would see it as a victory and be encouraged by it. Furthermore, there would be no referee or mediator to encourage negotiations, as, I assure you, the US would be the absolute last group to leave the country, after every single other international organization governmental or otherwise, abandoned it. While I suppose there is a remote possibility of this happening, I find the blithe assumption that such a miraculous event would take place just because the US left dangerously illogical.

As for the Shia and Kurds being swept aside by Sunnis. Well, they have been crushed by them before, so they can be again. Numerical majority is no guarentee of victory or security, as history has obviously shown repeatedly. I suspect that the Shia and Kurd would fight the Sunnis rather fiercely of course, probably in the process turning Bagdhad into something resembling Kabul, since it lies on the border between Shia and Sunni dominated regions. Also, as I suggested, Iran might be able to defend the Shia population by financing it and perhaps seizing the southern oil fields. The Kurds may be able to hold out in their mountains for some time.

So there is a possibility that the Sunni Islamists might not absolutely crush the other groups. Instead the country might split into various warlord dominated hostile regions, similar to Somalia after the US withdrawl from that country. Nevertheless, in both cases, the country would be an ideal location for terrorist groups to take advantage of the chaos, as they did in Afghanistan and Somalia.

I suppose eventually the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish groups would get tired of killing eachother and eventually decide to talk to eachother and form a unified state under UN observation of elections, but I highly doubt they would clap hands and get to it as soon as the US left. It would take a similar period of time as it took for the warring factions of Somalia, Afghanistan, and Lebannon to make peace witheachother, after foreign withdrawls from their countries. In other words, perhaps 10-15 years.

I am sure, of course, that most Iraqis would object to the notion that they are incapable of working out a peaceful solution without foreign assistance. However, most Iraqis probably aren't ruthless enough to chop off the heads of their enemies either, and most Iraqis somehow were incapable of preventing Saddam from doing the same. Similarly, most Iraqis would have no more ability to stop the operations of terrorist groups in Iraq than they do now.

After for what is fueling the insurgency. Yes of course the occupation is part of it, but it is also the fact that the "occupier" happens to be the "infidel, crusader". It is not simply that the Americans are foreigners, but that they are *Americans*. That is, the idealized hate-object of Al Qaeda and the radical Islamist movement.

What is the key to peace in Iraq? We I think the key is actually a little more sensible behavior from the rest of the world. A little bit more willingness to work with the US rather than trying to do everything possible to undermine America's efforts to stabilize the country. Some more willingness to recognize the reality of what Iraq would face if the US withdrew. Some more willingness to put pressure on the Sunnis to participate in elections. Some recognition that Iraq becoming a failed state, devolving into civil war and becoming a haven for terrorists is worse for the world than American unilateralism. There is a lot that Europe could do simply by saying "Yes we think the war is wrong, but... we are not going to become so malicious as to allow spite to drive us to make it an even worse disaster, just to get revenge against the US."
 
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"We'll win by having a little something called fortitude."

This is actually a serious and adult discussion.
 
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Please know that there are many people here in teh USA who are very against this war and ALWAYS have been. This administration stole the election the first time and then attacked the world in our name. He ran for re-election and won by a hair by using FEAR as his only platform. Every single person, that's at least 49% of our population who voted for Kerry wants the Americans out of Iraq...there are many kids who were just too disillusioned to vote. All those people care about is money, but they don't represent all of us, moat of us have souls.
 
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Hello red anonymous,
" It is very unlikely that Iraqis would suddenly start talking peacefully to one another if the US forces left. Rather, the groups that are bent on sectarian conflict would see it as a victory and be encouraged by it."
Right now there are meetings between various groups going on including independence minded Kurds,secular Arabs, even Shia 'outsider' Chalabi. It is true that some Sunnis are boycotting and so is Sadr--why because of US troops! Don't underestimate Iraqi deal-making capability! I think a mediator [psychotherapist?] would be just a source of contention and be seen as foreign meddling. What will keep them negotiating will be their belief in a unified Iraq. You view non-interference in Iraqi politics as dangerously irresponsible and a wild conjecture?
The Kurds and Shia have numerical and military superiority over the battle damaged Sunni insurgents, which is being held back against great AL Qaeda provocation by its leadership, to prevent a civil war. As far as destroying Bagdad, check out Sadr City for damage. The idea that 20% of the population can conquer the well armed other 80% is the unlikely scenario.
A warlord dominated situation like Afghanistan would in fact be an easier situation for the US control than the present political situation in Iraq, a country of the same population.
You can see the natural progression of politics between Iraqis is being prevented by the US occupation. You say that it would take too long or be too bloody, so you would deny Iraqis that option. I think Iraqis could separate the terrorists from anti-American Iraqis.
The IP, ING programs, conceived by the CPA seems to be at the heart of the insurgent successes, but the government keeps trying to use these broken tools of the occupation. Anything including US troops that delays political dialog prolongs the insecurity.
"After for what is fueling the insurgency. Yes of course the occupation is part of it, but it is also the fact that the "occupier" happens to be the "infidel, crusader". It is not simply that the Americans are foreigners, but that they are *Americans*. That is, the idealized hate-object of Al Qaeda and the radical Islamist movement."
Yes and no. Bin Ladin continues to be motivated by US troops in Islamic countries and Israel-Palestinian conflict. You suggest that if a Palestinian state in peace with Israel was established and US troops were withdrawn from the Arab world, it would just be a signal for more terrorism.This is a rehash of the illogical domino theory, which never happened. Then you suggest the solution is more support from other western countries. Based on the more serious Cold War history-how much support was offered in Korea or Viet Nam, etc., it is unlikely the US will ever get as much support as you may want. So maybe you should stop demanding it? Then you say that Europe is not supporting US actions out of 'revenge'. Don't you see a pattern here?
America is not the omnipotent hero of the world, betrayed by contempible underlings. It can help countries, but can't rule them in a post colonial world.
 
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In our "war on terror" America needs to start by taking a close look in the mirrow and developing a deeper moral conscience. As with most cultures we have a national identity reinforced by a shared mythology that says we are the good guys fighting for the good cause in a hostile world.

I think some of this is healthy and I would not advocate denigrating America. However, our collective psychological health needs to also include deep introspection and acknowledgement of the darker sides of our culture and our history. Otherwise, we are a danger to ourselves and others.

Our country began with the genocide of Native Americans. We enslaved Africans in huge numbers and indentured and treated the poor of other lands horribly. We gave birth to a viscious terrorist organization, the Ku Klux Klan, that numbered millions of members in the early 1900's. And bigotry is still alive and well here in the South where I live as well as in other parts of the country.

Reading our own history of foreign affairs should be enough to satisfy anyone with a modicum of conscience that we have not always been the "good guys" even if we are generally-speaking the "good guys". We have perpetrated plenty of brutal and unjust acts on the world's stage.

In the history of our country we have had one large-scale, foreign-born act of terrorism on our soil. But a decade before we had a large-scale act of home-grown terrorism in Oklahoma City. And we see acts like those executed by Eric Rudolph as well as racial violence and smaller acts of terrorism perpetrated on an on-going basis.

Is one form of terrorism worse than another? If we have naturalized citizens that terrorize us are they somehow not as scary as foreigners terrorizing us?

Advocating the use of nuclear weapons on another people is sociopathic and reprehensibly immoral. And the outcome of such an act will likely be the end of civilization as we know it. I believe it will turn the entire world into one gigantic Vietnam and the insurgency will fight against us at home and on all 4 corners of the globe. The hatred and venom and distrust leveled on us would be unprecedented in all the world's history.

And the track record of the "civilized" states possessing overwhelming military superiority against insurgency is not exactly comforting.

We also need to look closely at the leadership of our country and our actions in Iraq. To my way of thinking this has been a huge blunder for if this is by design then God help us all. Assuming this was a huge miscalculation fortells our ability to beat the "unruly" world into submission. Just like with Vietnam it will be one misstep after another where we win every battle as we lose the war.

I have no doubt that the vast powers of the richest nations could mostly quell and contain a worldwide insurgency. However, do we want to escalate our war on terror and live in a world like that? I sure don't.

I think we need to first acknowledge that terrorism is a fact of modern life and that we will indeed see more acts of terrorism on our soil and against our institutions around the world. Naturally we need to fight to prevent this but this fight needs to be conducted in a way entirely different than the way we have approached Iraq. We can not contain terrorism through conventional force-based imperialism. This will have the opposite effect. This will create an explosion of terrorism.

America's citizenry needs to develop a deep love for peace and disdain for large-scale military intervention. We need to educate and embolden ourselves in the fine art of peace and stop escalating war and hatred. We need to hold ourselves accountable to the highest possible standards of civility and humanitarianism. And then, if we are attacked again, like on 9/11, the vast sympathies of the world will be with us.

The people of this world so desparately want to admire us. We offer such a ray of hope to everyone. By setting a standard of justice and equity and fairness that is unreproachable we will do more to quell hostile acts against us than brutal military acts will ever be able to achieve.

I do not believe my prescription will end terrorism any more than I think horrible crimes will end. There will still be rape and murder just like there will be acts of terrorism. The goal is to contain and minimize terrorism just like it is to contain and minimize crime. It is sheer lunacy to think either will be completely eradicated any time soon.

The only way to achieve our goal for a more civilized world is through diplomacy and limiting our use of force to the minimum extent necessary. And when we do use limited force it needs to be held to the highest humanitarian standards. I urge this not just because I have a conscience that tells me this is moral and right. Rather, I think it is the only practical way to achieve the lowest levels of terrorism and the most peace and prosperity.
 
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Naeric, indeed, the secondary consequences that would follow on from another terrorist attack against the US would indeed be catestrophic, and would likely bring about the "Clash of Civilizations" that Huntington warned about.

However, it would be sensible to recognize that the America public is just as much driven by the same passions and forces that drive people in other parts of the world. Thus, an intelligent and serious discussion of the likely response to another terrorist attacks would have to acknowledge that the re-invasion of Iraq, as well as probably other middle-eastern states that sponsor terrorism would be probable. And during that I find it fairly likely that Congress would authorize using tactical nuclear weapons. (That is, nuclear artillery shells and such, not ICBMs).

Therefore, it is even more still in other people's interest not to be idiots by creating a situation that will result in such an attack, which will lead to that eventuality, which will lead to the uncontemplatable scenario you mention.

I should say that the unravelling of the world community you describe is something that I had forseen from the first day of the WTC attacks, and the course of history since then has only further alarmed me about the track we are on. It is not in your interest to allow Iraq to become a failed state. it is in your interest to support the American efforts to create a stable democratic government there, as this is the only path which will avert the calamity you describe.
 
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So many anonymouses, it’s difficult to keep track of them all.
This guy above is presumably the Red Anonymous who has been supposedly thinking "strategically" throughout, and pontificating about probable and likely scenarios - but who can’t offer a single constructive "tactical" idea about what can actually be done on the ground, if anything, to salvage this failed occupation.
The most important point to emerge from his posts is the fact that nowhere in them is a single word that acknowledges in any way that anyone at all has died or been injured in Iraq - on either side. Its almost as though he suffers from some sort of cognitive dysfunction, like colour-blindness. He just can’t see dead bodies - they don’t exist for him in his fantasy world of strategic chess.
The appalling thing is that the leaders of his nation probably suffer from the same dysfunction.
Circular
 
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Hello from Italy, excuse my intrution. STOP WEAR!!! NO BUSH, NO BLAIR, NO BERLUSCONI!!! PEACE ON THE WORD, PEACE FOR IRAQ
 
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I have offered some tactical advice.

That is, that the rest of the world should ante up and do its part to encourage the UN supported electoral process.

For instance, by contributing forces to protect UN election workers as called for in UN resolution 1546. That resolution recognized the interim government of Iraq and called for the formation of a multinational force to protect the UN mission to Iraq.

Despite having voted for the resolution, both France and Germany have refused to contribute any forces to the effort. In addition, they have blocked efforts by NATO to train Iraqi security forces, and in some cases refused to send officers to help train.

Furthermore, they have verbally encouraged the insurgents by making defeatist statements. In doing these things, they have actively and passively promoted continuing instability, intentionally making the US's job harder.

The ball is in their court. They have the option of choosing to act out of spite and malice and to make Iraq's security situation worse just to get back at America. Or they can behave responsibility and support efforts to stabilize the country and bring about elections.
 
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It would be lunacy to use nuclear weapons. Plus, why would we need to use one anyway? We dropped the equivalent of 7 Hiroshima-sized nuclear bombs on Iraq in the first Gulf War and slaughtered Iraqis by the thousands and took 360 deaths. We wiped out their civilian infrastructure and intentionally created a humanitarian crisis for them that killed many more.

We have likely killed tens of thousands of Iraqis in this war and taken 1,200+ deaths and 8,000 casualties. And yet our soldiers are still dying there and losing limbs and it is starting to equal the same types of numbers we saw in Vietnam. In fact, given our field triage is so much more advanced now I think we are able to save more soldiers from death than in Vietnam and yet the lives of many of these causalities will never be the same. These people are going to be devastated and the costs of caring for them will be enormous. Not to mention the psychological damage we've done to countless others. And that will add even more to the costs we are going to see both in direct treasure as well as quality of life. And the insurgency keeps growing stronger the more we try to brutalize the population into submission.

Plus, you totally miss the point of terrorism. It is borderless. Al Queda exists in 60 countries. Which one will we target with a nuke? A terrorist act against us will not likely have a return address.

And what will slaughtering more people in exchange for our deaths accomplish? Will razing a city or an entire country make us safer? Or will it destabilize the world more?

At what point would virtually the rest of the world decide we've lost our collective minds and scheme with all their collective might to undercut us? And what timeframe will they operate in all the while making us think they are befriending us?

We have 300 million people and our military is absolutely bogged down trying to stabilize a country less than 1/10 our size. Iran was willing to take 500,000 deaths as they traded off body count against the military superiority we provided Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war. It is hard to estimate how many deaths the Vietnamese were willing to endure. Do we want to see ourselves escalate into a war fighting multiple countries and covering a huge area of the world against people willing to take these kinds of casualties?

If there is another 9/11 type attack then our best recourse will be to stay level-headed. Grieve the loss and continue to hunt down and break up terrorist networks with the help of as many allies as we can draw to our side. And in the process we need to do this hunting and killing and capturing with as much civility and legality as we can muster.

I know that might seem stupid and wimpish to some but our very survival is going to depend on us rising above the terrorism as much as possible. If we are too heavy-handed in our responses and we sink into the depths of despotism ourselves then as I mentioned in my previous post we will likely find ourselves vastly outnumbered in a consuming war with an enemy that does not wear a spiffy military uniform and that doesn't line up in nice orderly battle formations so we can address them and win conventional military battles against them.

America is a powerful, proud nation with enough military strength to wipe out all of civilization -- including ourselves in the process. In a "war on terror" our only sensible recourse is to humble ourselves as much as possible. After all, who are the terrorists and how do we sort them out? Who is to say our next terrorist attack won't be homegrown? Do we then drop nukes on our own cities to kill a Timothy McVeigh given that we have failed in preventing terrorism right here at home and we deserve some horrific collective self-flagellating punishment against ourselves?

I urge anyone here thinking we should continue to escalate the violence and brutality in Iraq to read these articles http://antiwar.com/lind/. These are written by a former Marine who served as a staff-member to a Senator on one of the military councils and who is also a well-respected military strategist that had a very big hand in developing the conventional maneuver-style training our military has used since the early 1990's.

He is saying that the required tactics for this "war on terror" are vastly different than anything the "civilized" world has ever seen. He is still invited to give presentations to the military. I hope like hell people will start listening to him and the other strategists that think like him. I don't necessarily agree with all he says but he generally makes make more sense to me than what I'm currently hearing from Washington.
 
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First, after 9/11 a lot of Americans just wanted to kill Arabs. Bush appealed to that and it was enough that Americans were willing to overlook a _lot_ of presidential failures to reelect a person they think feels the same way.

Now that that's said. The US strategy cannot be to hope Europe acts more "mature". If we are going to base policy on wishes, I wish there was no violence in Iraq. The populations of Europe do not support the US occupation of Iraq, the governments they elect are not going to support the occupation. Wishing that was different is just a waste of time.

Lies aside, the US policy goal in Iraq is Egypt. A dictatorship in a permanent "state of emergency" that represses any rival for power. Iraqis who are killed to reach that goal is a _good_ thing to a very substantial portion of Americans.

A pro American Saddam Hussein may put more people in jail, kill and torture more people, but Americans would hear about it less in the news and be much less bothered by it.

So that's what's going to happen. Right now is a bad time to be an Iraqi. But times change, what goes up comes down and one day it will be a bad time to be an American.

My questions for Iraqi people:

Who could be the leader of Iraq without the support of American troops? Is there anyone you can think of who has his or her own legitimacy that there would be minimal opposition to that person from other camps?

If there is noone, how could such a person be developed? I know it doesn't matter because you are going to get President For Life Allawi, but I'm curious.

Another question: What would be the foreign policy of an independent Iraq? Would you be friends with Israel? More or less hostile than Hussein was? I don't want to project my own views. I'd like to hear from an Iraqi. What about Iran and Syria? What about Saudi Arabia?
 
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Well, I am not saying that I think that using tactical nuclear weapons would accomplish anything.

I am merely stating that I think that it is inevitable that they would eventually be used if there was another large scale terrorist in the US. Through frankly, I think using tactical nukes is rather less important than the fact that US invasions of several other middle eastern states (such as Syria and Iran), would then become inevitable. Further terrorist attacks against the US are not likely to cause Americans to turn into pacifists.

I should also draw your attention to the non-so-subtle threat in the post above mine. "...one day it will be a bad time to be an American."

As I've stated before, the left WANTS more terrorist attacks against the US. They consider it just revenge, and they are eager to convince gullible Americans to withdraw from Iraq in order to increase the probability that they will happen. The above post is simply an indavetantly more open declaration of this intent than usual.
 
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For Iraq to get rid of America without becoming Egypt, Iraq needs a national anti-American leader who calls for a head-up election against Allawi.

The faster this happens the better for Iraq.

It is important to Americans to be able to say they support democracy with what we call a straight face, meaning there is no obvious proof that we are lying.

Abu, you should think about running for President. If not you, then once the Iraqi people have a single spokesperson for the anti-occupation movement, then the US will leave pretty quickly.

If you want the Americans out, figure out as soon as possible exactly who you want to see as Leader of Iraq. A poet? A sports hero? A singer? A war hero from one of the wars? Who does everyone in Iraq know and have a good impression of?

That person is the key to getting rid of the Americans. That person has to rally as much of the Iraqi population as possible against Allawi and America.

Once that's in place, outside people can start calling Americans evil racist liars for opposing a straight up vote between the Iraqi and Allawi. Boycotts can start, and Americans will be in the uncomfortable position of defending themselves against obviously true charges. Under those conditions, Americans will announce they are leaving in a matter of months.

It's pretty easy. Someone famous enough that everyone knows his or her name (let's say he from now on) and few people have any reason to hate has to begin loudly criticizing Allawi and America, calling for immediate elections, and promising that after he wins the elections he will completely kick out the Americans, get electricity and water back, get enough food for every Iraqi, make Iraq a strong and respected nation again and start making all kinds of promises he may or may not be able to keep.

That's when we outside of Iraq can put a _lot_ of pressure on Bush to let that guy win the election. Bush will call the person a demogogue, but if he looks like he'll get the votes, you have to let the demogogue win if you want to keep a straight face.

Until then, there's not much we can do.
 
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Well, we see what is important to the anti-war commentators.

Nothing about what kind of society Iraq should be. Nothing about respect for equal rights, ethnic or religious tolerance, pluralism, or women's equality. Nothing about national unity.

The only important matter to them is to get America out. Whatever other kind of government this person advocates is purely incidental.
 
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Red-anon-Not-Paul-Edwards,

Most of this lively debate has been started by your original "withdrawal scenario". You certainly seem to put forward what looks like a strong argument. However, on closer inspection it frightens me!

It is based on self-defense against a "probable" danger that you foresee of the US being attacked by terrorists groups based in Iraq. This danger was unfounded before the invasion… and still unlikely in my opinion even within your scenario.

The whole scenario is so self-centered that the whole argument (time and again) revolves around potential attacks against US civilians. I could not detect a shred of concern for Iraqi civilians in your analysis or arguments, as if they are not human beings! This is so offensive. Has it occurred to you that the US, in terms of innocent casualties, is regarded by most Iraqis as something worse than the people who attacked the USA in 9/11? People, in case you haven't noticed, are talking about 100,000 civilian casualties. In absolute terms, that is some 30 times the number of innocents killed in 9/11. Now scale that up to the population of the US (something like 1 million Americans – does it look ugly and grotesque enough now?)

Your arguments are so reminiscent to me of the "expert" analyses that have caused so much suffering and disruption to the life of people (who had nothing to do with terrorism or terrorists) and that have led to the present mess. Apparently, they simply do not count in the calculations to "safeguard" US civilians. I would like to know what decent US civilians think of that and whether they approve of being "protected" in such a way.

Have you considered the more real threat to US civilians caused by so much hatred towards the USA by other people (including potential international terrorists) outside Iraq as a result of the effect this irresponsible policy would have in "proving" to them that Americans are evil??? I assure you that this threat is more potent.

The whole argument is to consider what would happen in the event of a US pullout. Does such a pullout have to be as irresponsible as the occupation itself? Aren't there other possible ways for an orderly pullout that does not leave the country in a political / administrative vacuum? Or are you assuming there aren't any? To some people in the States, life has to be all in just two colors, blue or red…. You are either with us or with the terrorist!! Well, I for one am against both your administration and the terrorists. I assure you that there are billions of people around the world (including at least 50 million Americans) who think similarly.

Reverting to your original argument, which I assume is forwarded to argue against a US pullout, I frankly don't agree with the scenario that you put forward. Not that there will be no internal strife, but, as I have stated in the post, our losses and the dangers to the world at large (including the USA) would be less. I will address this question in some detail soon – after I tell you a thing or two about Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq which I hope would help you form a more measured opinion based on some of the actual colors that exist in the world. Can you wait for a while to listen to an Iraqi assessment of this potential threat before passing such an authoritative judgment such as:

"I'm being strictly realistic here. It is extremely likely that Iraq *would* in fact devolve into a larger Fallujah if the US left. This is not out of lack of faith in the Iraqi people, but out of recognition of the realities of the forces at work in Iraqi society."

Meanwhile, you can contemplate some of the following facts to help you understand why the above statement is ill-considered:

Numerically, there are more Shiite-Baathists than Sunni-Baathists! Sunnis, however, had more control over senior positions.

The Sunnis and Shiites are more intermingled in Iraq than you think.

Geography is often confused with religious sectarianism by people unfamiliar with the social structure of Iraq.

There is such a wide spectrum of Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq. Millions of people of each sect would find more affinity, and identify more, with others of the same cultural make-up of the other sect than with others of the same sect.

There are historic reasons for the domination of government over the past century by Sunnis.

Have you wondered why the Moqtada people are more aligned with the Sunni "rejectionists" than with the Shiite occupation accommodators? For many people, patriotism is a far, far stronger motive force than sectarianism.

The Kurds have had a raw deal for centuries… but this was caused by governments – not people. There has seldom been ethnic- based popular conflict between the Kurds and Arabs in Iraq. In fact I believe that there is a great deal of affinity between them as peoples. No Hutu-Tutsi deep-rooted animosity stuff!!

I am an Iraqi born and raised in this country- I have spent most of my life here. Yet I am having extreme difficulty as to how to begin to explain all these complex issues. I find it rather arrogant when people who know so little about this country pass so many sweeping judgments so authoritatively.
 
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Circular,

Thank you.

You are right. The Abu Haneefa mosque incident on Friday is an extremely important development. Adhameyyah is so different from Fallujah! They are both Sunni, yes… but Adhameyyah is urbane, 1000 years old and fiercely patriotic and nationalistic. A Baathist stronghold long before Saddam, it spearheaded the fight against communism in the late 1950's. It has a character of its own, even within Baghdad. These people lobbied Saddam relentlessly until he issued a decree barring any "stranger" from buying a house in the place!!! I have posted a tiny glimpse of it elsewhere (http://glimpseofiraq.blogspot.com/2004/07/sunni-shiite-strife.html ). Already some website is claiming that Zarqawi is responsible for the fierce fighting on Saturday. My belief is that if Zarqawi shows his face in that place, he will be shot immediately… unless these people decide to exploit him in some way!! Someone is trying very hard indeed to stir sectarian strife in Iraq and transform it to an Iraqi-Iraqi conflict.

As to the other questions regarding personal info, I think I have already expressed my view of your questions!!!

I have actually given some scattered glimpses of myself here and there in all those blogs, but to answer your questions (without giving too much away!) I can tell you this:

I was born and raised in Baghdad and still live here. I have spent most of my life in Iraq. I am married with three children. The eldest, a girl, is a business graduate, the second is a junior doctor and the third is a teenager, still at school. I deeply love Iraq, both emotionally and intellectually, and will never live anywhere else if I can help it.

I was as rebellious as any other teenager regarding religion! Baghdad was so secular in the 1960's! When I was around 30, I started getting interested in history. Iraq is so old and complex that you cannot understand much (of even everyday occurrences) without some historic background. I think it was then that I developed a deep respect for religion, after realizing the enormous positive effect it had on the morality of mankind generally (Alvaro, are you reading this?).

I do not think it is a coincidence that the major religions generally sprang from the east. Iraq is at the hub of much of this. You may recall that much of the Old Testament was written in Iraq. Abraham was born here. Ezekiel is buried here (near Babel) People in this corner of the world generally "need" their faith. It is an important aspect of their lives. This is unfortunately often overlooked by others who try to "engineer" (or nation-build) their world for them or by those who are trying to combat those fanatics who have hijacked Islam and are trying to turn it into a killing-manual. The communists never understood this aspect because it contradicts a fundamental dictum in their doctrine. It is the main reason that communism never established roots in these parts despite the presence of so many of the other ingredients – including a deep mistrust of American policies in the area.

Religious orientation: I will borrow the description of a reader I corresponded with some time ago: I am more of a spiritual person than a religious one. I am a Muslim in name but not a practicing one. My wife is more or less the same but she turns "devout" during the fasting month of Ramadan!

In the countryside (where I spend much time) I am regarded as a liberal. In Baghdad, I am regarded as conservative by friends and acquaintances. In America, I guess I would not fit anywhere in their red-blue map… I think I would like a weird mixture of left and right. I don't know about N.Z.

I was convinced in 1982 that Saddam was leading the country to ruin. I resigned from government research (nothing sinister) after the war with Iran. Since then, my main source of livelihood (and joy) has been a farm I had inherited. My other source of joy is poetry, mainly classical Arabic poetry – something that non-Arabic speakers will unfortunately never have a taste of since the blend of words and the music in them is such an integral part of it that it cannot be translated. I find that particularly sad. I think I was 16 when I fell in love with Shakespeare. Macbeth has always been my favorite. Your "MacBush" reference is so apt. The difference, I fear, is that the equally tragic fellow is not aware of it!

There! I don't think you can say that I have been mean with info.
 
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"Hello"-anon.

I think I have already mentioned that Fallujah-I will be remembered a long time in Iraq. Fallujah-II will only enhance that. Iraq has such a long memory! Baghdad was something akin to NY to the old world. It fell to the Mongols in 1258. I remember being told as a child that the Mongols ravaged Baghdad so badly that you could cross the Tigris stepping on books… or that the Tigris had a pinkish color for days from all the blood of people killed by the Mongols. Such is popular folklore!

It is also reported that someone called Ibn il Alqami, a minister to the Caliph of the time, assisted the Mongols by opening the gates of Baghdad to them. Already, some people are suggesting that Mr. Chalabi is the modern version!!!

Before writing this I was watching the weirdest interview on al Arabiya channel with a few Iraqi and Arab "insurgents" who had slipped through the American siege of Fallujah into the surrounding countryside and were bombing them from outside the town. I wish I had sufficient sense of humor to appreciate that!

You sound even more depressed than I am. To cheer you up a bit, consider this:

Here we are, thousands of miles apart, total strangers, our nations at war. [To be precise, your nation is claiming that it is not at war with my nation… but they are killing us anyway, for our own good.] Yet, we are exchanging thoughts and views. At the same time, and within the span of a single day, we are sharing, with somebody else thousands of miles away from either of us (and I don't know with how many others)… a love for poetry and, I hope, for humanity!

All this under the noses of neocons, war-mongers, power-maniacs, lunatics, haters and fanatics… and there's nothing they can do about it! Isn't that something?
 
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from Circular
Thank you very much for the information, Abu, it certainly "fleshes you out." I promise not to ask any more questions for at least a week.
Well a few days anyway.
Regarding your reaction to foreign armchair strategists and "know-it-alls," it seems to me that one factor that has been becoming increasingly obvious lately is that events in Iraq are very unpredictable now - particularly with the apparently out-of-control lurches of the Occupation forces. The Marines seem to have surprised even themselves with their excesses in Fallujah and the pointlessness of the whole exercise, now the Army seems to be holding back from responding in their usual over-the-top way to the spreading of the insurgency. Maybe they’re running out of ammunition? Allawi may have some devious reason for blatantly targetting Sunni clerics, but simple provocation seems the obvious one. Why? Does he actually want to derail the elections? Often what seems to be cunning and duplicity turns out eventually to have been just good old-fashioned stupidity.
So much hope, in the U.S. anyway, seems to be pinned on the symbolic value of these elections, it’s just a matter of wait and see now, but who knows what will happen between now and then? And what to talk about in the meantime?
Oops. That’s not a question.
Oh yeah, on a more cheerful note, I’ve realised what this whole Iraq debacle reminds me of, it’s that episode in the Star Wars film where the cute cuddly little bear-like creatures in the forest take on the Darth Vader star troopers. The U.S. troops in their armour and sunglasses and Nazi helmets look so much like them!
Unfortunately most of the Iraqi males on TV aren’t exactly cute and cuddly.
 
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Abu Khaleel:

Let me suggest a solution that might meet the objections of those concerned with Iraqi "civil war" scenarios and those concerned that the occupation is the proximate cause of "the resistance."

The first step is to negotiate a cease fire between the "Nationalist resistance" and the IG. Political accommodations would have to be made to the major resistance factions. These would include guarantees of U.S. withdrawal providing security goals are met. Of course, the foreign jihadis will never agree to any such thing, but at least they would be isolated and could be dealt with primarily with Iraqi forces over time.

The second step is to minimize contact between Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops. The only way this can be done is to withdraw them from the cities to bases which means the IP and ING would have to be able to control security in Iraqi cities by themselves.

As part of the redeployment, U.S. troops would do more patrolling of Iraq's borders to prevent further infiltration by foreign jihadis. As the IP and ING proved themselves capable of handling internal security, U.S. troops levels could be drawn down considerably. When Iraq's army is rebuilt to levels sufficient to ensure external security, the remaining troops can be withdrawn.

This scenario attempts to reduce the "resistance inspiring" nature of occupation without having blindly trust "vague hopes" that all Iraqi factions will chose to "just get along" in a security vacuum.

One "Anonymous" commentator repeatedly has asserted above that, with U.S. troops in Iraq, there can be no political dialogue amongst Iraqis. This is completely illogical and contrary to what is currently happening in Iraq. There is, has been and will continue to be political dialogue between Iraqi factions behind the scenes no matter what happens with U.S. troops. To suggest otherwise is simply disingenuous propaganda.

If there is a quick withdrawal of U.S. troops without other precautions for security, what incentive would the "Nationalist resistance" have for dialogue with opponents when it would be celebrating a great military victory and could probably cease power by force.

To better understand the resistance mind set, "Anonymous" should surf over to Abbas Kadhim's cite where several "pro-resistance" Iraqi commentators advocate, upon their inevitable military victory, the exile of all occupation "collaborators." The term is broadly defined as anyone who has cooperated with or assisted the IG. There is not much chance of any other Iraqi political faction negotiating from a position of weakness with "resistance" factions having a similar mind set.

Mark In Chi Town
 
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Well, Mr. Khaleel, you have now irredemmably lost any of my confidence that you are in any way ab objective observer.

I how consider your blog one of the several which have a covert agenda.

I shall simply state that the American people can hardly take you word for it that Iraq would not become a terrorist safe haven, and therefore, we will do whatever is necessary in our best interest and disregard those who pepper their opinions with anti-American vitriol.
 
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Dear Red-Annonymous,
1st) As a left-wing Green-leaning Democrat, I want terrorist attacks on the US even less than Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell wanted such attacks (to punish us for gays, lesbians, and abortions). I really don't appreciate your words inserted in my mouth!
Are there left-wingers who want such attacks? Just as surely as there are right-wingers who want such attacks. But most who want America to suffer because of its sins (whether sexual or imperial) do not want to create the situation themselves. Jerry Fallwell is not sending money to Osama Bin Ladin so that Al Qaeda will punish America for its queers. Neither does the left want Iraq to become another failed state, and especially not 'in order to increase the probability that' 'more terrorist attacks against the US' will happen. You REALLY don't understand the American left.

The various jihadis might indeed want Iraq to become a failed state, from which they might launch attacks at America. However, the jihadis are constitutionally incapable of representing the American left. (They are actually far closer to the American survivalists, who would be eager for a terrorist attack so that the long-awaited race war might occur)

Be Well,

2nd)
 
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Dear Red-Annonymous,

As an anti-war responder, I can speak for myself.

What do I want to see in Iraq?

I would like to see an Iraqi secular democracy, where the fundamentalists are as free (and no more so) to practice their religion (other than jihad) as the secularists are to avoid it; where the local non-Muslim population is free and not under attack for reasons of religion, race, or property; where Wahhabi learns that however little he (or she) can understand Shi'ite ways, that the Shi'ites also worship Allah; where Kurd respects Chaldo-Assyrian (and vice versa); where neither Shi'ite nor Wahhabi is militantly scandalized by Chaldo-Assyrian culture...
I guess I long for a fairy-tale Iraq, just as I long for a fairy-tale US.

Be Well,
 
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Mark, the scenario you describe above, with the exception of obtaining some kind of "cease-fire" from the nationalist resistance (a difficult task for such a disparate and fractious collection of groups), is essentially what the current American plan is. Build the Iraqi security forces to the point they can take over security duties inside cities, then withdraw US forces to bases. Meanwhile, push ahead with the democratic process.

The problem, it seems to me, is that so many people are intent on sabotaging the elections, especially by smearing their credibility, rather than allow Iraq to democratize under the presence of US forces. The Iraqis just want the elections to occur. But outside forces that want to use Iraq as a weapon against the US want to ensure that they are disrupted and discredited in order to ensure that the violence continues. Obviously, a peaceful Iraq is not in the interests of anti-American forces. So discrediting the elections is a central propaganda task for them.
 
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Mark in Chi Town,

Good and interesting post! Personally, I think that would be an enormous improvement over the current situation. If the American soldiers are acting as a Border Patrol (with the same instruction in Arabic as we need for Spanish on the Mexican border), the stream of suicide-hopefuls and radical jihadis can be diminished if not stopped. Moreover, Iraq returns to being Iraqi-run. It actually might work for the best for both Iraq and the US.

Be Well,
 
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Mr Griffin,

I am sure your personal intentions are noble, but you seem to be blinding yourself to the obvious intentions displayed in earlier posters.

For instance, the above comment that "one day it will be a bad time to be an American" clearly displays an eager lust for the day when Amercans are being killed. Similarly previous comments on this board by the Brazilian commentator (I think he was called Bruno), express similar desires for the deaths of Americans.

When I say the left, of course, I am not referring solely to the American left, although there are those, and I know them, on the American left who share similar opinions. Outside of the US it is common to hear considerably more extreme opinions expressed, including some that (for obvious reasons) cannot be openly espoused in the public sphere inside it.

Now, while the left may not be directly sending money to the jihadis, they are tacitly encouraging them and maneuvering diplomatically in such a way as to prevent America from acting against them. I include in this the efforts by European states to block NATO training of Iraqi security forces, the use of European media to spread anti-American propaganda, and the efforts to create rhetorical justifications for the actions of the insurgents, including beheadings and suicide bombings. These things are in fact pick up and broadcast through the Arab world in such a way as to encourage violence in Iraq.

The other point you make is that you personally would liek to see a secular tolerant Iraq. Of course, I believe that you personally have this belief, however, once again you are ignoring the earlier poster who delivered an entire speech about the necessity of electing an anti-American candidate without once expressing any opinion on the subject of what kind of politics this man should represent. It was clear from the post that it was not relevant to the poster whether this person was authoritarian, a religious zealot, or an ethnic partisan. This, as I said, validates my point that the left does not care what kind of government Iraq has, so long as it is anti-American. So whatever your personal intentions are, which I am sure are noble, you are failing to recognize that in large part the opinions of leftists expressed here and elsewhere do fit my characterizations of them.
 
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Now this is a bizarre deliberate misreading:

[[
For instance, the above comment that "one day it will be a bad time to be an American" clearly displays an eager lust for the day when Amercans are being killed.
]]

The sentence before "one day it will be a bad time" said that "It is a bad time to be an Iraqi."

Does that display an "eager lust" for killing Iraqis?

The weird paranoia that this exemplifies is truly tragic.
 
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Re Above:

The implication is clear and direct for anyone with a modicum of insight.

Don't insult my intelligence with such disingenuous evasions.
 
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If "its a bad time to be an Iraqi" is not a clear and direct implication of lust for killing Iraqis

then "one day it will be a bad time to be an American" is not a clear and direct implication of lust for killing Americans

for anyone anywhere close to mentally balanced.

A clear and direct inferrence can only be made by people such as above, who are weirdly paranoid. That some Americans feel this weird paranoia is tragic.
 
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hmmmm

I'm sure there are at least ten different ways to handle Fallujah's problem with much less "collateral damage"Can you name them? If not then you really have nothing to bitch about do you?

Unless you would like to murderous thugs in power.
 
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Do Anonymous posts appear in different colours on some screens, or something? It’s all black and white on mine, and I’m having great difficulty in distinguishing the various anonymous shades of paranoia from each other. Could I suggest using an identifying moniker such as Mark and I do?

Mark, your post is interesting and constructive but I suspect unrealistic.
(a) I fear that attempts to negotiate with the "Nationalist Resistance" factions would be thwarted by the levels of hatred, fanaticism and nihilism that have been generated.
(b) Minimizing contact between Iraqi civilians and US troops would probably require levels of readiness on the part of the ING that are not attainable in time for the proposed election.

However reducing the profile of the US presence as much as possible would seem to be a worthwhile goal. I wonder what US patrols in Baghdad are really achieving? Sometimes they may be necessary to support an IP or ING objective, but otherwise are they really promoting peacekeeping, or just waving a red flag at the bull? Surely reduction of any non-essential patrol or convoy activity to the minimum, perhaps on a trial basis, might be a realistic step.

In other words, was the checkpoint where Nihad died, in Abu’s story in A Glimpse of Iraq, really necessary?

I can’t find immediately the pro-resistance commentators you mention on Abbas Kadhim’s site (a lot of the stuff there seems to be duplication of the dailywarnews blog) but you certainly mention an interesting point that I wanted to raise with Abu at some stage. On top of all the other strains in Iraqi society, will there emerge a lasting rift between "resisters" and "collaborators" after the US has left - rather like I gather happened in post WW2 France for some years? That’s an unpleasant thought.
Circular
 
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Greetings all.

Could I make a humble request to posters using the 'anonymous' tag to distinguish their post with a name or even a single letter at the bottom, especially if they are making multiple posts? It makes it so much easier to conduct discourse.

Right. I think that Abu Khaleel has, in his clear manner, dispelled many of the fears that exist of Iraq devolving into a civil war in the event of a US pullout. In fact, in whose interest would such a civil war be? The question can only yield two answers: either Al Qaeda type jihadis who want a battleground where they can fight the US while hidden by Arabs/Muslims or the US itself, which has long had designs on Iraq be it for oil or for strategic placement. (See Rebuilding America's Defences, ye doubters) WhaT!? I hear - the US promoting sectarian strife? But why? Simply - the old divide and rule tactic has worked in the past and will continue to work in the future. To their credit, Iraqis have largely resisted efforts to stir up sectarian violence by outside parties. All of these scenarios are detrimental to Iraqis.

As for the fellow suggesting that the Sunnis will simply 'crush' the rest of the country, that assumption ignores (a) the question whether they will actually *want* to embark on a ruinous civil war and (b) the fact that the heavy equipment of the old Republican Guards (tanks, helicopters) is no more and (c) the fact that the Kurds and Shia are far better prepared for a confrontation with a relatively fragmented Sunni power structure than they were in 1991. Conclusion? Your extrapolations are nonsense.

So, why not, as Mark has pointed out, acquiesce to the US sponsored elections and accept the outcome? Firstly, the electoral process is bent to favour an outcome to the US's liking. Secondly, it is kind of hard to imagine, given the recent history of trying to foist various schemes onto Iraqis to disempower them, such as the caucuses plan, the Chalabi as dictator plan and the Allawi as dictator plan ... it is hard to imagine that the US has done a 180 degrees turn and will disinterestedly watch the formation of an Iraqi government most likely opposed to its plans for the region, is it not? When the reality on the ground is at such odds with the rhetoric in the air(waves) is it any wonder that many Iraqis feel that the elections are going to be a sham?

It seems as though Sistani has taken the gamble, though. I wonder what will be the Shiite reaction to American attempts to shape future Iraqi policy if they 'win' these elections? Look north to Baghdad for your answer. Multiply by three or more.

And this:

"Similarly previous comments on this board by the Brazilian commentator (I think he was called Bruno), express similar desires for the deaths of Americans. "

Like the devil, if you say my name I will come! No, I am not Brazilian, you are thinking of Alvaro Frota. But, I have expressed my support for the killing of Americans before ... *if they are in the process of invading another country*. Let me repeat this. *If they are in the process of invading another country*.

Is that fair? I think so. The same way as the outrage over 911 was justified, so is the outrage over Iraqi civilians killed as a consequence of the American invasion. The same way as the killing of Russians invading the US would be justified, I see Americans killed in Iraq as justified too. Is this not fair?

Comments will be forthcoming, I suspect ...
 
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ON AMERICA'S SECURITY.

The US has embarked on a very dangerous path in the world. The foe it is facing, radical terrorists, is not a foe that can be beaten with bombs and guns, at least not like in the Iraq invasion. Al Qaeda is the ultimate expression of international assymetrical warfare, and as with all types of guerrilla warfare, a military solution is not possible outside of outright genocide. To beat Al Qaeda you need the active sympathy of the populace in which it operates. You need goodwill and international cooperation. The same as the insurgency rages the stronger the more bombs you drop on its people, Al Qaeda grows stronger the more atrocities you commit and people you kill. The idea of using "tactical nukes?" bin Laden probably would come in his pants if he heard that.

Why? Because all the time the infidel US fights in Iraq, it provides Al Qaeda with rhetorical ammunition for propaganda:

See the Crusading Hordes try to take over the Holy Lands! See the abuses committed against Muslims! Witness the injustices of the Great Satan! Behold the new coming of Hulagu Khan and the sacking of Baghdad! And so forth.

Even if AQ just stuck to the truth, it would have plenty of material to use with which to whip up anti US sentiment. I myself am an atheist non Arab, and I have been outraged by this cynical invasion. I can only imagine what a pious Muslim might think witnessing and hearing of the excesses (both real and imaginary) perpetrated against his fellow believers. Do you think he might be inclined to turn over AQ agents, or do you think he might rather support their actions? Multiply this one man's sentiments into an entire population of fevrish anti Americans. How do you think even a dictatorial government might handle this pressure? With difficulty, I'm guessing. And, bin Laden would be just waiting for that one final atrocity to light the fuse of revolution ...

My conclusion?

Thus far YOU ARE LOSING. Losing the real war, which is the war to cut the support from terrorists and to remove their causes for fighting. But how? Simple.

Americans must start putting themselves in other people's shoes and put an end to this unilateral outlook that has become pervasive in their foreign policy. They must start thinking about how they would react if they were an Iraqi, or a Muslim. (Imagining whether they would accept the policies the US dictates to the Middle East, if they were from the Middle East.)

And, if they are honest, they will realise that they need Muslims more than any other people to combat these dangerous radicals. And ... America must start acting as though it cared as much for the lives of these peoples as it does for those of Americans. Otherwise, it will truly receive the war which it has portrayed itself to be in ... and ... it will not be pleasant for *anybody*.
 
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Circular to Bruno
1) Poster identification. Great minds think alike, even when one of them is a Springbok!
2) Cool it. "Americans must start putting themselves in other people's shoes ..." Nobody else has got feet that big. The tenor of many of the more paranoid/imperialist posts on this Blog is that 9/11 justifies any and all pre-emptive actions by the US, and no distinction is made between real and imaginary enemies. You’ll have the Marines in Jo’burg if you go on like that.
 
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Circular --

Hark! What is this? I smell an evil Aussie about, ready to pounce on our innocent Cricket and rugby teams. (Well, they would have to be innocent, especially the rugby. Nobody would accuse them of excessive scoring, would they?)

Just as long as you are not Mr Edwards' twin brother, we can talk...
 
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Fallujah had turned into a giant trip wire bomb. Corpses, concrete, walls, door ways, cars all rigged to explode. It was a slaughterhouse indeed. From the bridge were barbarians strung up the Americans to the closets were heads were severed by monsters. Not to mention the little slaughter houses on wheels it would export into neighboring cities to explode and kill exclusively your brothers and sisters of Iraq. It was not a city fit for a family not for children and not for peace.

Several thousand men who would rather be at home volunteered to go into that city and clean it up. Disassemble the bombs, detain or kill those with dreams of winning glory by slicing throats on arab television. WThese volunteers hunt down the monsters wipe up the blood, bury their own dead, rebuild the houses and lay down a peaceful calm so family's can return.

Percision bombs not percise enough? In WWII the US had no percision technology, so we indiscriminately firebombed cities ceaselessly with no ability to seperate civilians from militants and the world accepted that because the fanaticism of the enemy threatened those who love peace. Why was Japan so much easier to rebuild then Iraq, because more than half of their population was destroyed. They didn't have much of a stomach to fight after that. And now Japan is a shining start among nations in the globalized economy.

After that enormous death tollthe US became the first nation in the history of mankind with a fighting force dedicated to avoiding civillian death at all cost. We didn't half the population of Iraq, we went in like surgeons trying to cut out a cancer. It's a noble pursuit although impossible to execute by perfection. Fighting this war has cost us more lives, more money and more time.

You sound sad and hopeless and angry. You should be. I know I am. The US military is a fighting machine with a dial like a volume dial. And the insurgents alone sit with their hand on the dial turning it up with no interest in peace ever. And they are turning it up with every IED and every act of violence against your people. Unfortunetly there is no rehabilitation for these men who have sadly had their lack of education and faith in Allah taken advantage of twisted and crippled into an empty vessel of hate and destruction.

So get mad, get angry, these men who twist a peaceful religion into an unholy deathwish Do not care about your peace. They want power by force because they know they have no legitimate cause. They want power by force because they know no democratic society would elect them with their selfish agendas. And should they not be destroyed and should they be allowed to have power by force, you will find the sadness and anger you feel now is but a fraction of what is to come.

And the US forces are there to quicken these fanatical death wish zombies' trip to the afterlife. And they do it becasue they want you to live in peace. Why do they want that? Because if you live in peace then they live in peace. Simple as that.
 
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Ok Igot that out and that's one way of putting my frustrations, but an earlier poster included this link:

http://antiwar.com/lind/

And it's worth a deeper look: Close down the borders between secure and insecure nations. And let those insecure nations fold in on themselves. Many of those folks want to return to the middle ages. Let's let them do it and perhaps they will evolve on their own to a more peaceful place. I would feel sad for the progressive thinkers trapped in a cut off backsliding civilization.

Of course this only works if we can totally seal the seams where the two worlds meet.
 
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Quite a thoughtful comment was posted above by Naeric regarding terrorism and possible ways of handling the war against it. I don't know why the issues raised were not taken up by other posters.

I rather liked the statement:

"The people of this world so desparately want to admire us. We offer such a ray of hope to everyone. By setting a standard of justice and equity and fairness that is unreproachable we will do more to quell hostile acts against us than brutal military acts will ever be able to achieve."

I so frequently come across such sentiments coming from people living outside America. In my last post above I mentioned this wonderful world of blogging and the internet. Well, this is one of many American developments that are helping make a better, more connected world. The question is: How can such a country be run by such horrible, short-sighted people? Perhaps engineers should be given a chance to run things for a while??

More seriously though, many Americans seem to think that many people around the world hate them for just being what they are. By and large, this is not true. People hate the bad things bad American policies and politicians are doing to them!

Mark In Chi Town,

Thoughtful post. I think we are now beginning to talk about possible solutions. I am gratified that you are separating the "nationalist resistance" from the terrorists. Most Americans seem not to bother. Even in Iraq, many people are being confused by the atrocities committed by terrorists in the name of resistance. One group can be dealt with and placated. The other can't. I have always maintained that the popular base of the latter has to be addressed and severed.Iraqis can do it America apparently can't.

Having said that, there are still a number of problems. Many people now do not believe that the US is willing to leave Iraq – at least before ensuring the existence of a strong puppet regime as in Afghanistan. The coming elections are regarded by many as a show to "elect" a government that would legitimize the American presence or secure America's ill-intentions in the absence of the US army. These are the people who are saying that they will not take part in any elections as long as the Americans are occupying the country. I think that some solution can be worked out to convince these people (if there is a will on the American side). Others have strong objections to the rules of the game as set out by the Transition Administrative Law. They want a more level field. These are even easier to appease. Both of these balls are in the American administration's court.

The size of the movement to boycott the coming elections is approaching "critical mass". Started by Sunni Islamists, they are joined by some seculars, Shiites and Christians. Even the "Iraqi Islamic Party" people who took part in the IGC and generally cooperated with the CPA are now demanding a postponement of elections for six months.

The danger is that you cannot have legitimate elections if they are boycotted by large segments. A solution has to be found… and it has to be political.As to the IP and ING, many believe that these are being constructed to act as tools to quell resistance… hence they are attacked. The police force should have been used to secure law and order only and go after criminals. It was a mistake to have made them go after insurgents of whatever kind. For example, no incident involving a traffic policeman for example has been reported yet. These people are doing a good job under very difficult conditions.

It is also quite unfortunate that the National Guard was used with the Marines in Fallujah or for the attack on the mosque on Friday. A grave error! The American army will one day leave. The ING will always be marred by having attacked an Iraqi towns and mosques.
 
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fathom --

"And the US forces are there to quicken these fanatical death wish zombies' trip to the afterlife. And they do it because they want you to live in peace. Why do they want that? Because if you live in peace then they live in peace. Simple as that."

My dear chap, since you are so informed, would you please elucidate us all as to the terrible nature of the Iraqi threat to the USA. Tell us about the awful attacks on America that Iraqis carried out, about the American women and children that Iraqis slaughtered. Once we have established the worthiness of your casus belli, then I shall begin to agree with you that these people must be punished. Take your time, surely such masses of evidence at your disposal take some time to organise, eh?

And, back in the real world, the world of American barbarity and war crimes, Iraqis are dying for what? Because of a war actively sought by YOUR administration based on lies and distortions. War crimes? Yes, that is correct. You attacked hospitals and killed doctors. You fire weapons from sites close to these hospitals, an act for which the US has consistently deplored its enemies. You prevented refugees from leaving a war zone, where in fact you are legally obliged prevent them from even returning there. You shoot disabled and wounded prisoners. You bomb civilian neighbourhoods. Shoot at ambulances.

Remind me again: who is it that you are rescuing?
 
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Here is another sick joke: "... the US became the first nation in the history of mankind with a fighting force dedicated to avoiding civillian death at all cost."

Well, what exactly do your same heroes have to say about that statement of yours? Let's see:

from Al Jazeera 22 November

""The enemy can dress as a woman, the enemy can be faking to be dead," said one company commander to his marines before entering the heart of the city. "So shoot everything that moves and everything that doesn't move," he said."

"The night before the assault began, the order came down that troops could shoot any male on the street between the ages of 15 and 50 if they were viewed as a security threat, regardless of whether they had a weapon. When marines asked a gunnery sergeant for clarification, he told his men if they saw any military-aged males on the street "Drop 'em.""

This:
"Col Shupp said casualties could be brought out over the reopened bridge and treated at Falluja's hospital, adding that he had not heard of any civilians trapped inside the city. "

contrasts nicely with:

International aid groups worry about civilians trapped in Fallujah
Monday November 15, 2004 By ALEXANDER G. HIGGINS - A P Writer

"``We are sure that there are civilians in Fallujah. This information we have received from families who are still in Fallujah and we have contacted them by phone,'' said Rana Sidani, a spokeswoman at the Geneva headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross."

and this article:

Embedded with the Marines in Iraq - Dead-Check in Falluja - Evan Wright
November 24 - 30, 2004

"As one of the officers in the unit I followed used to tell his men,"You will be held accountable for the facts not as they are in hindsight but as they appeared to you at the time. If, in your mind, you fire to protect yourself or your men, you are doing the right thing. It doesn't matter if later on we find out you wiped out a family of unarmed civilians." "
and
"I was standing next to a 22-year-old Marine from the Humvee I rode in when he fired his machine gun prematurely at a civilian car approaching a roadblock, striking the driver, an unarmed man, in the eye. The unit was subsequently ordered to drive past the car without rendering aid. I sat next to the gunner as we crept past, listening to the dying man gasp for breath."
and
""What does the American public think happens when they tell us to assault a city?" one of them said. "Marines don't shoot rainbows out of our asses. We fucking kill people." "

'let's kick ass ... the American way'
Lindsey Hilsum joins the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force as it advances into Falluja
Sunday November 14, 2004

"'I guess there are some good people - it's jus' that we don' have nothin' to do with them,' mused a marine as he and his colleagues sorted their kit and cleaned their M16 assault rifles. 'I see the little kids in the cars and I feel sorry for them, but when they turn 16 they're evil.' "

and this excerpt from a blog from an ex Marine, illustrating the way Marines are trained to be "dedicated to avoiding civillian death at all cost."

from Anti Sheep.com
by Chris White is a former Marine Sergeant who is currently working on his PhD in history at the University of Kansas. He served in the infantry from 1994-98.

"So, it didn't surprise me one bit when my friend told me that although he doesn't agree with the purpose of the war, that he was even more angry with the manner in which the war was being carried out: "Marines aren't trained to fight with political correctness. We're trained to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy, and that means that we should have gone in there and destroyed the entire country first, then built it up afterwards, installing people we trust." I responded with, "But, that works fine for the military mission, but what about all the millions of civilians who would die as a result of that policy?" Again, I was not surprised to hear my friend respond with, "Hey man, I got no mercy. I'm a Marine, you know what I'm sayin?" I said, "yeah, unfortunately, I do."

Conclusion?
Go and peddle your fairy tales to somebody a little less well informed, and a lot more gullible.

Does the resistance kill civilians? Yes, they have, in the course of either conducting operations against US forces or supporting elements. Does that, however, excuse the slaughter of more (Iraqi) civilians while trying to root out these patriots? Well, to Americans like yourself, undoubtedly, given that they are not your own people being killed. If it was 800 + American civilians killed in Fallujah, you would be screaming bloody murder.

The same as you deplore the resistance (and, not all these groups are the same, btw) for its violence, and use that as an excuse to attack cities ... the resistance deplores US violence and uses it as a justification for continued operations. So the question is: Whose country is it, anyway? The US Army's? And who started this war? And who continues to provoke violence in Iraq by its very presence?

(Even IF your argument of "we must kill Zarqawi / terrorists" were justified, * is it just to invade another neutral country in order to kill your enemies there* ?? Is the argument of "rather fight 'them' in Iraq than in Kansas" just or moral or even wise? To aid your search for an answer: would you feel that Russia would be justified in bombing New York with 'precision munitions' in order to kill Chechen separatists? Because it would be better to fight them in the US than in Moscow? Think upon this while you try to justify the occupation of Iraq. And think on how you would feel about the Russians after that.)
 
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Abu
"Quite a thoughtful comment was posted above by Naeric regarding terrorism and possible ways of handling the war against it. I don't know why the issues raised were not taken up by other posters."

Mainly because it’s becoming impossible to keep up, I think - your Blog is getting a bit out of hand? Insofar as it remains a "Letter to America," you seem to be attracting a definite proportion of lunatic "might is right, US rules the world, left-wing plot, terrorists everywhere" nut cases, who tend to clog the blog. Most of them are probably teenagers, handicapped by their appalling education system. (I’ve read Fathom’s posts three times, and I still don’t understand what he is saying.) Don’t know what you can do about them - but they do tend to obscure the efforts of more responsible posters like Naeric and Bob Griffin and Bruno and Mark. (Mind you Bruno is a bit excitable, as you might expect from a country that can no longer play Rugby very well, and Mark is a bit frightening, he’s so stern and serious - I’m still not really clear what side he’s on. If there are sides. Bit sad that Barry has left?)
Could I suggest a series of posts with clearly defined subjects: e.g.
What conclusions can we draw from the Battle of Fallujah?
(I still wish that an American would have the guts to respond to my challenge to discuss Collateral Damage. Are they all intellectual cowards?)
Five thoughts about the coming elections.
Sunni and Shia - what’s the real difference?
Three common misunderstandings about Iraq.
Maybe an illustrative anecdote like the one about Nihad.
Etc
And ruthless eradication of posts that wander off topic.
Hey, what do I know. It’s your Blog.
Circular
 
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Abu, Circular --

(1) I second the proposal of tightly defined debate.

(2) Yes, I am excitable, and simply put, I find it hard to resist slicing and dicing troll scum that don't know what they are talking about. Tight debate ... will make it easier for me to control those irrational impulses of mine.

;)
 
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To all those paranoid who keep up justifying Iraq’s invasion with 9/11 and war on terror, why don’t you just go hunt for Usama Bin Laden?
Isn’t him the responsible?
Or is it because he is still a CIA agent, who is still doing is job for America?
Is he helping Americans in Iraq, like he helped reelect George W. Bush?
 
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The family of Aziz Radhi Tellaib was killed before the battle for Fallujah began. He had been driving them to Ramadi to visit relations when the car was hit by fire from an American Humvee and careered into a tributary of the Euphrates.

Mr. Tellaib freed himself but could not save the rest of the family. Those who died included Mr. Tellaib's wife Ahlam, 26; his sons Omar, seven, and Barat, three, and his daughter Zainab. Also killed were his niece Rokyab, 26, her three-year-old son Fadhi, and three-month-old daughter Farah.

Mr. Tellaib, 33, a merchant, said: "We were stopped, in a line of cars, by some Humvees which had overtaken us. One soldier waved us forward, but as I drove up there was firing from another Humvee. I was shot in the side of the head, and my wife and elder son were shot in the chest. I think they must have died then. There was blood all over my eyes. I lost control of the car which fell into the river. I managed to get out, and then tried to get the others out, but I could not and the car sank. "The Americans told the police that it was all a mistake, and I could get compensation. But what about my family? My life has gone. They might as well have killed me as well."

Rahim Abdullah, 46, a teacher, said that anyone in the street was regarded by the Americans as the enemy. "I was trying to get to my uncle's house, waving a piece of white cloth as we had been advised when they started shooting at me. I saw two men being shot. They were just ordinary people. The only way to stay alive was to stay inside and hope your house did not get hit by a shell."

Read the whole story in http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=586045.
 
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Ok Bruno,

I'm not happy about the flimsy deceptions that led us to this war. I didn't vote for Bush for that very reason this second time around. But now that we're there we have a very interesting mix of enemies gathering. Besides the Baathists we have the Wahabis from Syria and Saudi Arabia, Al Queda from all over, Iranians. You know all this. And then you have the native Iraqi men "resisting an occupier" behaving in accordance with an ancient tribal mentality that supports revenge killings etc.

So while the argument of WMD falls like a sad empty paper cup, the argument of taking the fight to them before they can take the fight to us now seems to be a good rationale considering the congregation of enemies and terrorist resources dedicated to that region.

I don't look at Iraq in a vaccuum I look at it as a part of a greater threat to western civilization spanning from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, North Korea, Waziristan, From the former soviet states to the far east. Iraq seems, in my humble opinion, a good initial foothold in pulling the reigns on some violent and chaotic nation states. A sandbox where we will learn (and make some mistakes) how to pull chaotic unstable nations into the global fold.

Thee's a lot of rancor that gets inspired by America's "superman" complex.

You pasted in a series of quotes related to US rules of engagement as evidence that American soldiers are not so concerned with civilian casualties. Absolutely, the volume is getting turned up in response to the tactics of the enemy. Every care for humanity a US soldier has in this war will be exploited by the opposition and transformed into a war tactic.

For most people decisions are made before the facts are read, copied and pasted. "The truth will be edited for your consumption" There is no way to have all the facts and there is no way to have the whole truth. So our atitudes have a point of origin that have more to do with personal circumstance then a broader reality.

My personal circumstance is I was put on the frontline on 9/11 and I never hurt anybody. I want my Children to live in a world at least as peaceful as the one I grew up in.

And I believe my government has made some mistakes but I also believe their are a lot of decent people trying to learn from those mistakes.

So I appreciate your comments Bruno. Although I'm aware of the quotes you paste, I still come to a different conclusion. You assume I'm not well read on the topic, but you might be surprised. Those comments I made came from a humble graphic designer who is a political independent and has studied more on this topic over the last two years then any other event on the global stage.

But at the end of the day, as far as the real bad guys go you can not reason with someone who only wants you dead. But at the same time, a peaceful muslim is our biggest ally and they will do more to stop terrorism then anyone seems to think. How do you kill those who want to kill you while being sympathetic to their brothers who are peaceful?
 
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If I'm the guy responsible for this talk about tighetening the debate in this forum then I apologize.
My previous post was pretty frustrated response to this blog authors post. I'm a realist. I do not own an American Flag. I do not own a gun. I'm not right wing. I'm totally sympathetic to the plight of Iraqis. I'm disappointed in the US leadership's arrogance, but I take in the facts I can find outside of major media outlets and I form an opinion. Just like anybody else.
 
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Last bit.

Aziz Radhi Tellaib's story is heart breaking and it is tempting to let stories like this paint the whole picture.

And then there's the story I read the other day of a mother and daughter trying to flee Fallujah after their husband/father died fighting with the resistance. The two women approached an ING outpost because they were told that the US soldiers would rape them. Some of the ING guys started harrassing them trying to kiss them and rip their clothes off. An American patrol came by and interfered chastising the ING soldiers. The mother talking to the reporter said her daughter knew some English and the US soldier was saying "If you really came here to help the people in this city you wouldn't be doing this to them."
 
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Fathom:
"I don't look at Iraq in a vaccuum I look at it as a part of a greater threat to western civilization spanning from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, North Korea, Waziristan, From the former soviet states to the far east. Iraq seems, in my humble opinion, a good initial foothold in pulling the reigns on some violent and chaotic nation states."

You seem to be anticipating a century of ongoing war on behalf of "Western civilisation." What if the rest of us, and the rest of the world, don’t agree with you, and prefer peaceful solutions to problems? Going to go it alone, like you are at present?

"There's a lot of rancor that gets inspired by America's "superman" complex."

You got that right. Superman’s got bogged down in the first sandbox he’s tried to play in. Your looney leader’s just been shunned by the rest of the world at APEC, your currency’s going into free-fall. If enough of you keep thinking your way, in a few years you’ll be an impotent isolationist paranoic irrelevance.

"I take in the facts I can find outside of major media outlets and I form an opinion. Just like anybody else."

My advice, stick to graphic design. And keep taking the pills.

Circular
 
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to Bruno again

you say:
"If it was 800 + American civilians killed in Fallujah, you would be screaming bloody murder."

I'm still trying to figure this out. Do you mean if Fallujah happened to be inhabited by Americans? or if it were 800 US soldiers dying in Fallujah?

If it were 800 soldiers dying I'd be saying "Geesh we're losing bad and the US forces need to get their act together." If it were 800 Americans over there I would be wondering what in the blazes 800 civilians were doing in Fallujah. Either way I wouldn't be screaming bloody murder. I'm not one to scream.

But again, I respect where you're coming from. There's a lot more attitude than substance in your responses. There's more I'd like to say, but it's not my blog and I've taken up enough scroll as it is.
 
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Circular as well then, more atitude than substance.
That's a pretty extreme point of view.
 
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As far as sticking to graphic design I'm working on a piece that paralels corporate raiders with terroists. Judging by your comments I think it's something you'd appreciate.
 
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"You seem to be anticipating a century of ongoing war on behalf of "Western civilisation." What if the rest of us, and the rest of the world, don’t agree with you, and prefer peaceful solutions to problems? Going to go it alone, like you are at present?" - Circular

Go to Amazon and check out "The Pentagon's New Map" It's a brilliant look at future threats and it has some very reasonable approaches. Many people initially reacted to this book as you did to my comment, but by reading into it you'll see it's not about never ending war. There are peaceful solutions. Just go take a look.

And as far as the sandbox goes you can hope the lessons get learned or you can hope against it. That's your choice. I personally hope the lesson do get learned.

And about the devalued dollar, that's a whole other issue. I've heard some experts report it's to help American exports be more competitive. But I'll stick to Graphic Design on that one.
 
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Abu Khaleel:

Your analysis seems reasonable to me. There certainly seems to be a lack of trust between large segments of the Sunni Arab population and the IG/U.S. I recognize that it will be hard to overcome the "trust" issues, but I still hope that there is some way forward toward a just peace. I would be interested in your sugestions on this matter.

If you chose to address the issue, please bear in mind that the quick U.S. withdrawal option from an unstable Iraq is probably not politically possible in the U.S. Again, this is largely a matter of lack of trust since the U.S. adminstration is not willing to risk that portions of Iraq might become terrorist havens similar to the Taliban run Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, most armed conflicts end in one of two ways, either (a) by a surrender, after a militarily defeat of one side or (b) by negotiation, after they sides fight to a stalemate. To my mind, it would be in all parties interest to declare the stalemate (tacitly, since for political resons all sides will need to claim victory) and negotiate the political power sharing necessary for a just peace. My reasons for advocating this path is essentially a moral one, since in my view, a purely military victory by either side will take years and require massive death and destruction.

Circular:

This is the "side" that I am on, the one calling for negotiations and political compromise which leads to a stable Iraq and a U.S. withdrawal.

It is for this reason that debating the merits of political ideology, of each sides tactics, or the case for responsibilty of the mess in Iraq, leaves me cold. It is a waste of energy, although emotionally cathartic for some. It amazes me how many will post enlessly concerning support for "their side," but spend no effort even thinking of compromises that might lead to peace.

I find such attitudes depressing which is largely the reason for my serious tone.
 
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Last one was mine.

Mark In Chi Town
 
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Mark.
Fair enough, but I think for "outside" observers like Bruno and me the contributions of what we see as lunatic right-wing fanatics or imperial fantasists are too close to the thinking of your leaders to just be ignored. They certainly seem to annoy Abu. I think we should be allowed an occasional "emotional catharsis" - we’re only human.
Leaving aside the semi-mythical foreign terrorists, what you seem to be advocating is some way of placating whoever is leading or inciting the post-Fallujah resistance, which apart from anything else is finding the IP/ING much easier to target than the US troops.
The IG’s current tactic (with US endorsement?) towards the resistance seems to be to continue taking the battle to them, rather than looking for any sort of compromise or negotiation.
The problem being of course that you can’t bomb or shoot people into voting.
Abu seems pretty pessimistic about the prospect of at least a partial boycott.
My personal theory remains that the US administration is privately quite desperate to disentangle itself from Iraq - they know perfectly well that they’ve botched the Occupation, they’re just not able to say so out loud. So they will press ahead for any sort of flawed election, to allow them to start scaling down their military commitment.
But as I said earlier, the next two months could be full of surprises.
Circular
 
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You make me sick I really think we should pull our brave children out of your misrable god forsaken country, and let you all fend for youselves. Then if some bloody and evil tyrant once again puts his boot on the neck of you misrable people then if he threatens our security, we should turn your whole country into a desert of glass. Not one more young American should die trying to bring you assholes peace democracy and prosparity f you all.
 
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in whose interest would such a civil war be? The question can only yield two answers:

Your analysis is missing the point that civil wars can happen even if they are not in anyone interest. It is predicated on the notion that all actors will behave in a rational manner with full foreknowledge of the consequences of their actions.

The insurgent groups currently fighting in iraq are engaging in behaviors that demonstrate that they are not particularly rational, and that they may believe that they do have something to gain from a civil war. Each side it quite capable of convincing it is able to achieve something it may not. For instance, the Kurds might try to regain control of Kirkuk, and I honestly can't see Arabs acquiescing to that without a fight. So whether such a conflict is in either parties interest or not, it may very well occur.

Similarly, the fact that the oil fields are located in Shiite dominate regions, but used to be controlled by Sunni Arab means that the Sunnis are going to resent the loss no matter what. The Anbar region is a desert with little economic value that has been supported by patronage from money siphoned from the oil wealth. Are they going to accept being relegated to poverty without a fight, or are they going to demand a share of the oil wealth? And if so, will the Shia, who have been relegated to poverty for generations be willing to give them a disproportionate share of the wealth? Again, more sources of conflict that could very well not be resoved peacefully. Largely because many of the people involved may act irrationally, may feel their honor needs to be avenged, may believe they can get more by fighting. There are many many reasons why conflicts can occur even when most people don't think they are wise. A small faction of extremists can do a lot of damage, obviously.

As for the fellow suggesting that the Sunnis will simply 'crush' the rest of the country, that assumption ignores (a) the question whether they will actually *want* to embark on a ruinous civil war and (b) the fact that the heavy equipment of the old Republican Guards (tanks, helicopters) is no more and (c) the fact that the Kurds and Shia are far better prepared for a confrontation with a relatively fragmented Sunni power structure than they were in 1991.

Well, some may hold out, but the Sunni will probably end up in control of Bagdhad. Either that or it will be fought over like Kabul or Beirut or Mogadishu, and end a pile of rubble. It's either Fallujah or Afghanistan/Somalia/Lebbanon. Either a long civil war that destroys everything, or a short one where the best armed, best financed faction (remember the Islamists get money indirectly from Saudi Arabia), end up controlling most of the country. Take your pick.

One thing I don't see is the possibility of secular democrats forming their own army and fighting off the Islamists without outside assistance. God knows they won't get any help from Syria (Baathist), Iran (Shiite Islamists), or Saudi Arabia (Sunni Islamists).

So, why not, as Mark has pointed out, acquiesce to the US sponsored elections and accept the outcome? Firstly, the electoral process is bent to favour an outcome to the US's liking. Secondly, it is kind of hard to imagine, given the recent history of trying to foist various schemes onto Iraqis to disempower them, such as the caucuses plan, the Chalabi as dictator plan and the Allawi as dictator plan ... it is hard to imagine that the US has done a 180 degrees turn and will disinterestedly watch the formation of an Iraqi government most likely opposed to its plans for the region, is it not? When the reality on the ground is at such odds with the rhetoric in the air(waves) is it any wonder that many Iraqis feel that the elections are going to be a sham?

Well, I disagree with your notion that either Chalabi or Allawi was ever intended as dictator. You seem to take these wild speculations as facts, when they are just speculations that have not even been bourne out by history. And what was so "disempowering" about the caususes plan? You seem to be inclined to object ot anything and assume it is some kind of plot, when it is really not. Of course the US wants a pro-American government there. It also wants one that is democratic, secular, and tolerant, because those are Western values. We really ought to agree on those values, by the way, and share the goal for a secular, democratic, tolerant Iraq. The extent to which America is trying to influence the election is to promote the victory of a party that shares those values, not just because such a government would be more pro-American, but because that it the only kind of government that can keep a country like Iraq - made up of so many factions - politically stable. The government HAS to be secular because otherwise it would generate sectarian conflict. Similarly, it HAS to be ethnicly diverse, because otherwise it would tend to generate ethnic conflict. We want the Sunnis to participate in the election not just for the sake of credibility, but because they help to counterbalance the influence of the Shia Islamist parties.

You see, if the Shiite religious parties win a majority of the seats in the national assembly, then they will be able to control the writing of the constitution, which will enable them to establish a theocratic state. Not exactly like Iran (Sistani doesn't like Iran's government), but still heavily dominated by one faction.

It seems as though Sistani has taken the gamble, though. I wonder what will be the Shiite reaction to American attempts to shape future Iraqi policy if they 'win' these elections? Look north to Baghdad for your answer. Multiply by three or more.

Precisely. If the Sunni boycott the elections, the Shiite religious parties will dominate the constitutional conference, which will of course exert a controlling influence over the writing of the constitution and hence the future elections. That's what Sistani wants.

However, this is politically dangerous since a Shiite religiously dominated constitution would antagonize the Kurds and the Sunni minority, which would again potentially lead to a civil war, Kurdish secession, and so forth.

So again, the point is that the constitutional conference needs to reflect a balance of Iraqi society such that the Sunnis don't go unrepresented, and the religious parties do not hold more than a plurality of the seats. We want no one faction to dominate the assembly because that way all sides will be forced to compromise. If the Shiite religious parties held more than 60% of the seats in the Assembly they would have a veto proof majority and would have no incentive to compromise.
 
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Ahh that was I neocon imperialist warmonger ...

Anyway, just wanted to add to clarify...
The Sunnis need to be in the conference because if no single faction is able to dominate the constitution writing, the result is more likely to be more secular, and more pluralistic.

We saw during the negotiations over the Transitional Administrative Law that it was nearly impossible to get the Kurds and the Shia to a compromise. Sistani and the Shiite leadership still reject provisions in the Transitional Administrative Law for the protection of minority rights, without which the Kurds would have walked out. The writing of the constitution is likely to be even more contentious. If one group was able to override the others, you would have a constitution, but one that was rejected by most Kurds and Sunnis, a breakup of the country, and each sect spiraling off to it's own extremes.

The hidden virtue of Iraq is that its ethnic diversity could form the basis for a political compromise that establishes the principles of ethnic and religious tolerance in a secular democratic state, but that's only going to happen if no one group can dominate the others.

That won't happen if either one group ends up dominating the writing of the constitution, or if one group *thinks* that it can get more by fighting.
 
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fathom --

OK, right, your later posts I can deal with. Without frothing at the mouth.

"My personal circumstance is I was put on the frontline on 9/11 and I never hurt anybody."

You, as a graphic designer, (somebody who basically makes a living in presenting one facet of reality as the entire reality), ought to appreciate the way that your government has twisted that honest sentiment of yours into a raging lie that has resulted in the justification of this current disastrous war. Your leaders have exploited your ignorance and anger in order to further their own agendas. Me and my woman were discussing this very thing last night - whether ignorance absolves one of responsibility of the actions of a greater system of which one is part. I still don't have the answer. But this anger is doubtless how Iraqis are feeling at the actions of the US against them. Remember your anger at the 911 attack? Now drag and drop that onto Iraqis.

Please, do yourself a favour and take a trip through Project For a New American Century. And, as an imaginative Graphic Designer, I'm sure you will have no trouble at all in imagining yourself to be a foreigner, when you read what is written there. Imagine your reaction as an outsider. Try and get hold of the elusive document "Rebuilding America's Defences". You will see that this Iraqi war was planned for long before 911. I can mail you a copy, but it is rather large. Here is an excerpt re. bases in Iraq:

From "Rebuilding America's Defences", Page 17
"From an American perspective, the value of such bases would endure even should Saddam pass from the scene. Over the long term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests in the Gulf as Iraq has. And even should U.S.-Iranian relations improve, retaining forward-based forces in the region would still be an essential element in U.S. security strategy given the longstanding American interests in the region."

You have been used.

You:"But at the same time, a peaceful muslim is our biggest ally and they will do more to stop terrorism then anyone seems to think. "

I don't understand how the same person that says this can make brainless comments like those previous ones of yours. YES! YES that is correct! When people are under threat, they turn to somebody strong that they think can help them. For God's sake, don't make that person OBL.

The Fallujah comment is basically saying that there is a difference to Americans between Iraqi civilians killed and US civilians killed. That if Iraqis had killed 800 US civilians (or more) in order to stop attacks on the Iraqi military, you would have probably nuked them.

(An interesting spin on the weak dollar is the fact that to buy oil, you must first buy dollars. Basically, the $ derives a lot of streangth from being the currency in which that commodity is traded. Perhaps it is the uncertain future of the oil supply that is leading to less confidence in the dollar.)

And yes, posts with an attitude tend to light my fuse, know what I mean?
I guess I am prime troll bait, huh?
 
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Mark --

(I'm assuming that 'anonymous' post at the bottom is yours)

While I tend to disagree with a lot of your stuff I can appreciate that I am talking to a human on the other side, not a robo-moron. So, what about your reaction?

"Your analysis is missing the point that civil wars can happen even if they are not in anyone interest."

Quite right. I was making this point long ago to war pimps, before the invasion started. I was laughed at. Alas, now those same war pimps are using my same arguments as a rationale for the US staying in Iraq. Kinda funny the way things change.

Basically, you are correct there. But honestly, there has been surprisingly little ethnic/factional fighting to date. I have been impressed at the maturity of Iraqis not to go for each other's throats. Congratulations! I tend to now gravitate to the outlook that Iraq may well find its own path with less bloodshed than has been spilled in the invasion. However, I was simply pointing out in who's interest a civil war *would be*. And those are the only two conclusions that popped up.

"For instance, the Kurds might try to regain control of Kirkuk, and I honestly can't see Arabs acquiescing to that without a fight."

Also true. Which is why I have tried on and off to convince some Kurdish blogs that dialogue over the fate of these areas would be wise. However, the US (again!) seems to be keen to use Kurds as a stick against the arabic Iraqis, and the Kurds are letting themselves be used. The Arabs are counterattacking as well, which does not bode well for the future. This factor may well contribute to fighting if the US leaves. Yes, the Sunnis will be in the lurch if the country fragments. There will be more fighting over Mosul and Kirkuk than Basra. The Shias are the big winners from this, whichever way you slice it. This is why some sort of mediated settlement is necessary for Mosul / Kirkuk.

Where I disagree with you strongly is about the future Iraqi government. Reality check: a democratic government will be *heavily* Shiite. You know, those same Shias that hate the US in Iran? Any other result will likely be due to rigging. Stacking the process one way or another is not only contrary to the US's principles, but also laying the groundwork for future violence. Even if the Kurds and Sunnis unite, demographically they are outnumbered 3 to 2. And, let us be honest, even if a Shia government is not overtly hostile to the US *now*, it will eventually drift towards Iran in future. And, any true Iraqi government *will* be hostile to Israel, if the polls are anything to go by. Do you think that the US is going to allow that, I mean, in the real world? No. Is the answer.

That is why the US has tried in the past to handpick compliant 'caucuses' from Iraqis that it felt would go along with its plans. And, you are telling me that flying Chalabi in with armed followers on US aircraft, after he had been Perle / Cheney / Wolfowitz / Rummy's main man in cooking up the war in the first place ... is not planning for some sort of ascent to the crown? Umm.

Okaaay ... maybe you are not Mark, this 'anonymous' poster.

OK, this 'anonymous' is basically advocating meddling in the Iraqi electoral system to produce an outcome favourable to the US. Imagine if I were to advocate the overhaul of the US electoral system because your governments were dangerous to the outside world? Maybe ... make a power sharing system mandatory instead of "winner takes all"?

How would you feel about that?
 
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No that was I, neocon-imperialist-warmonger

Your analysis of Iraqi Shiite politics is seriously flaws. The Iraqi Shia are ethnicly Arabic, not Persian, as in Iran. The Najaf theological hierarchy is also not sympathetic to the Iranian rulers, who have, over time, come to be people who are more interested in political power, and less religiously educated.

Also, though 60% of the population is Shiite, not all of them are necessarily going to be Islamist. I'd suspect a considerably larger portion of the Shia population is interested in a secular government than it might appear. They've seen what life is like in Iran, and they might have other ideas.

So, you can see that it will not necessarily drift towards Iran. However, within the Shia community, there are quite a large faction of religious followers, so if the Shiite dominated (say) 75%-25% (which they would if the 20% Sunni faction stayed home), then there might be enough of them to dominate the conference. Whereas with a 60% majority, there's a fair chance there will be enough secular Shia to keep the religious factions in the overall minorty.


And, any true Iraqi government *will* be hostile to Israel, if the polls are anything to go by. Do you think that the US is going to allow that, I mean, in the real world? No. Is the answer.

We already have. I mean, Iraq's interim government has about the same attitude to Israel as Jordan or Saudi Arabia. Nobody's forcing them to open an embassy. As long as they aren't lobbing missiles at Israel, we don't care.

That is why the US has tried in the past to handpick compliant 'caucuses' from Iraqis that it felt would go along with its plans.

The caucuses were an intermediate method of finding moderate Iraqis with support from their communities in a situation where it wasn't possible to have a direct election. There is absolutely nothing sinister about them. The members of a caucus elect a representative using voting rules that tend to produce a moderate that everyone can accept. The only people objecting to them are people who just hate anything the US does no matter what, and will find a reason to oppose it an come up with some kind of conspiracy theory about it to justify it.


And, you are telling me that flying Chalabi in with armed followers on US aircraft, ... is not planning for some sort of ascent to the crown?

No, it isn't. The speculation that Chalabi we being set up to become president has always been speculation. There've always been factions in the US who didn't like him. They were willing to work with him to get rid of Saddam, but nobody ever got anywhere near making any sort of plan to install him as "dictator". We've always been planning for elections anyway. Everything else was just made up by people in the media speculating. People speculate on things all the time.
 
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"Also, though 60% of the population is Shiite, not all of them are necessarily going to be Islamist. I'd suspect a considerably larger portion of the Shia population is interested in a secular government than it might appear. They've seen what life is like in Iran, and they might have other ideas."

You got any evidence to back this up? Polls, articles, anything outside of your imagination? Hmm, OK Mr Paul Edwards ( this sort of wild assumption just reeks of him. But feel free to correct me of course) what you are saying is: "I just made that up."

Reality: 45% of Iraqis feel that religion is their *primary* consideration while voting. This of course, does not exclude the real possibility that others would identify themselves with religious based parties for other reasons. (For example, the way that many made out the results of Australias election as an endorsement of the policy vis a vis Iraq, whereas it turned out that voters were more concerned with continuing Australia's excellent economic trends. But, to vote for the man responsible, they also had to vote for his Iraqi policy. This is my primary critique of Democracy btw.)

As for actual Shia feelings towards Iran: let me restate: they will be more pro Iran than pro US. While it is true that at the moment things seem a little strained (hence the risible 1000's of Iranians fighting in Iraq claims) from what I have read, it seems likely that a gradual drift towards the Iranian position *over time* is likely. This is primarily based on the fact that Shias are heavily outnumbered by Sunnis in the greater scheme of things, and that like tends to stick with like. Of course, let me put the lable 'conjecture' onto this. In fact, Abu Khaleel, if you read this, I'm sure that we would both value your opinion.


From Juan Cole's Informed Comment, June 13 2004.

(Juan) :I just received the following from a former US government official of wide experience:

"My guess--not based on concrete evidence, but on my experience--is that the US wanted to make sure that any electoral process was controllable and returned a malleable and "safe" Iraqi government that still could claim legitimacy. The elaborate Rube Goldberg caucus scheme put forward by the CPA was designed to assure those objectives. Real popular elections were a crap shoot in which the US was unwilling to join.

"Why? The justification had less to do with democracy than with broader strategic objectives. My guess is that the US wanted to establish a major military base in Iraq and for that needed a compliant Iraqi government. It had nothing to do with terrorism. Such a strategic move would serve three goals: to outflank and largely surround Iran, with Turkey, Afghanistan and
some of the 'Stans on its other flanks; the same for Syria, a candidate member of the axis of evil; and secure long-term oil supplies." //end excerpt

from AP Cleric Wants Iraq Elections by Year's End - Feb 26, 2004

"The United States had planned to hand power to a government chosen by a transitional legislature, whose members would be selected in regional caucuses. That plan was shot down after al-Sistani demanded the legislature be elected."

and

How Much Democracy Should Iraqis Have? Jan 21 2004 By SONYA ROSS - AP

"The U.S. plan calls for holding 18 regional caucuses in Iraq this May. The wrinkle is that the United States would appoint some of those involved. The caucuses then would choose a transitional legislature that would name a provisional government, which would take power July 1 and bring the U.S. military occupation to an end. Only after that would Iraq eventually hold direct elections.

Leading Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani has other ideas. He wants early elections, and feels that someone should at least explain why that's a bad option. In the meantime, he has galvanized thousands of Shiite protesters in a show of political clout that is posing a challenge to the U.S.-led occupation. " //end excerpt

Gee, now why would al-Sistani, de facto caller of the shots of Iraq's most powerful bloc, block the caucus plan? If it were so transparent and un-sinister, why did he not just go with it? That small fact in itself speaks volumes about just what Iraqis think of your caucuses plan. And would you allow an enemy country to appoint handpicked leaders FOR YOU? I can just imagine how much credibility a government in the US would have if it was hand picked by Putin.

And, check out the excerpt from Rebuilding America's Defences on a previous post of mine. What are the implications? ** That the USA had long term plans to base troops in Iraq REGARDLESS of what any Iraq government might have to say about it ** Does that not indicate that there might be an attempt to either manipulate or install a pro-US administration?


Me : And, you are telling me that flying Chalabi in with armed followers on US aircraft, ... is not planning for some sort of ascent to the crown?
You : No, it isn't.


Furthermore you go on to say "They were willing to work with him to get rid of Saddam, but nobody ever got anywhere near making any sort of plan to install him as "dictator"."

My response? THEN WHY BUS HIM IN WITH ARMED FOLLOWERS?? Given that their military contribution was negligible, anyway. If you have the neocons previously mentioned on your side, well, basically, screw the dissenting factions that think otherwise, huh?

Finally, regarding your 'tame' regimes in Jordan and Egypt and so forth ... while they may be allowed to pull faces at Israel, do not think that the US would ever tolerate anything more tangible than that. They are paid for, OK? The problem w/ Iraq and Syria is mainly that they are not US client states and hence unpredictable. They too must be brought into the fold. That is the reality.
 
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Bruno-

All of your thinking comes form a belief that Terrorism and the US action in Iraq are on equal moral footing. I can see there are faces in such a comparison that would appear to hold true. And I can see it as completely ridiculous.

And yes I can say Fallujah needs to be leveled and I can say that moderate muslims are the gretest defense against terrorism and they need to be put in a place to recieve a global respect.

I see it both ways. The world is not a simple place. There are at least as many truths as there are people.

But as you sit around with your woman talking about how ignorant everybody else is I see some sick delusions of grandeur floating around with all that, some hubris, but on the other hand you're probably a wonderful couple that would make for a cool evening of engaged conversation.

I'll look into the reading you mentioned.

What's your nationality by the way?
 
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We were put into a situation where things are quite different. No more enemy states that will stand up and fight. What we have today is an enemy that has no base no place you can go and get it over with one way or the other.

Our choice after 911 go after Bin Laden. We were opposed by his caretakers, Taliban, to simply take him into custody and try him and his people and most probably take care of them in our prison/hotel for the rest of their lives.

The Taliban refused so we went in and tilted the scales in favor of the opposition. NOT a full scale invasion.

We did not get the ones we sought but we did get valuable information on the enemy and how they work and who they worked with.

Saadam did have WMD and used it on Iran and his own people. We knew Zarqawi left Afgh. and went to Iraq.

Saadam we knew would not be opposed to giving this new world evil a weapon if it would be used against the US. He knew if HE did it we would take him out. It was only a matter of time before he could negotiate their use as he wished. Instead of 3000 dead we anticipated hundreds of thousand dead.

We asked that he account for the disposal of ALL WMD with the explicit notice that if not we would use force to separate him and his WMD. Even if it turned out that it was gone it was not a risk we could take based on his non-cooperation and stalling. In his infinite wisom he decided to play a dangerous game.

The stakes for us were to high. Our options were to remove this WMD with our own preemptively or take casualties and go in with troops and mimimalize the death of civilians.

The more moderate elements of our government won out. It was reasoned that we have had on going contact with the Iraqi people and they were not happy with their leader. We had prodded them to overthow him themselves and they could not. We were leary of arming the Iraqi people because of what Bin Laden had become in Afgh.

That is how we got to where we are. The only things left for us to do in Iraq is to let the people who asked us to intervene, elect what ever government they choose and then leave.

We have then done all we can do for the Iraqi people as a country. It is their country and we DO NOT want it. We did not want Japan, Germany and the others that we were poked and harrassed into fighting with.

Leave us alone and we will leave you alone.

Our children will not be back that way again. There are other less costly ways for us to "kill people" than to send our children there to die.

We could if provoked end this world completely. We obviously put more value on life than most do. We have over our short time as a country had to be very introspective about the ability that we have aquired. We don't take the easy way out however, there has to be a limit to any peoples patience and understanding.

We will not go quietly into the night.
 
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"Here we are, thousands of miles apart, total strangers, our nations at war. [To be precise, your nation is claiming that it is not at war with my nation… but they are killing us anyway, for our own good.] Yet, we are exchanging thoughts and views. At the same time, and within the span of a single day, we are sharing, with somebody else thousands of miles away from either of us (and I don't know with how many others)… a love for poetry and, I hope, for humanity!

All this under the noses of neocons, war-mongers, power-maniacs, lunatics, haters and fanatics… and there's nothing they can do about it! Isn't that something?"

That was inspiring, Abu Khaleel. Very nice thought. Thanks for sharing.
 
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American,

you wrote: "We could if provoked end this world completely. We obviously put more value on life than most do. We have over our short time as a country had to be very introspective about the ability that we have aquired. We don't take the easy way out however, there has to be a limit to any peoples patience and understanding."

Your evidence that the US puts more value on life than most is because the US hasn't nuked the world yet?

Patience? Understanding? Ha! You must be talking about the government of some other country, certainly not the Bush adminstration, which was so eager to go to war in Iraq UNNECESSARILY that it couldn't wait for the inspectors to verify if Saddam Hussein actually had any WMD or not.
 
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Fathom,

others have already done a thorough job above of debunking your nonsense about how the US way of fighting avoids killing civilians "at all costs."

Where in the world are you getting your information from? Virtually none of your claims even remotely approaches the truth. Take this claim of yours, for example: "Why was Japan so much easier to rebuild then Iraq, because more than half of their population was destroyed."

Good lord, man, are you just making this shit up? The number of Japanese killed in World War II did not approach anything like half the population. No country in modern times has ever suffered anything approach such a rate of loss.

An exact figure for Japanese losses in World War II is impossible to obtain. Estimates typically vary from between 2-3 million killed, soldiers and civilians combined. This was out of a population of over 70 million at the time.

Fathom, how do you expect anyone to take what you have to say seriously if your "facts" are so grossly incorrect?
 
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Diogenes Of Pumpkintown,

Correction: The majority of major cities in Japan on had their populations, on average, cut in half (and not the whole of Japan). This is a paraphrase of a statistic I picked up form Robert Macnamarra's interviews in Errol Morris' documentary "The fog of war". And if anybody would know that statistic Macnamarra would.

The style of war described in that Documentary (constant indiscriminate firebombing) is a far cry from the way we are fighting in Iraq. If the US military truly did not care about civilian casualties this would be a much different war.

But to expect a war without civillian casualties is not realistic. To attack Fallujah as we did is one thing. To level all the major cities simultaneously with indiscriminate fire bombing (as we did in Japan)is quite another. But for some people in this forum MANY civillian casualties is the same thing as MASSIVE civillian casualties. I think it's wrong to make that equation.

In this one comment strand, I've been called a troll, a robo-moron, some guy was happy to wish a certain downfall upon my country and I was accused of taking some kind of pill. I find the troll comment peculiar since a troll is generally one who swarms a forum with pure derogatory comments and I have not gotten derogatory with anyone.

That alone makes it hard for me to take seriously a peaceful posiition from someone who fails to engage in peaceful discussion.

As for the half of Japan comment I should have been more specific. I'm sorry.

"Fog of War" again is the documentary I mentioned.
 
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fathom --

"And yes I can say Fallujah needs to be leveled and I can say that moderate muslims are the gretest defense against terrorism and they need to be put in a place to recieve a global respect."

Let's recast that to come from another perspective:

"And yes I can say Texas needs to be leveled and I can say that moderate Americans are the greatest defense against imperialism and they need to be put in a place to recieve a global respect."

Hmm. Does that still sound reasonable to you? Let me know, OK? I'm guessing that if somebody just went in and levelled Texas the way Fallujah was levelled, even the Rev. Mykeru's of America would feel somewhat pissed off. Because Texans are still Americans. Now why do you expect Iraqis to behave any differently?

And ... how do you expect that bombing their relatives is going to moderate Muslims?
 
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to Bruno

"And yes I can say Texas needs to be leveled"

Instead of Texas, let's say Austin Cause Fallujah is a city and we want to keep it somewhat apples to apples here. If Austin were taken over by militant Americans who were brutally enforcing an extreme form of Christianity like say they were militant Baptists. If they were building bombs and kidnapping people and forcing people who didn't think just like them to leave their homes or die. If the Iraqi "occupiers" were being killed torn apart and strung up on a bridge. And if we all knew the removal of an occupying Iraqi force would only lead to a civil war between extreme Baptists and moderate Catholics. I would have to say yes, invade. level. Especially if I was just an average Catholic wanting to get on with my life.

But let's turn it around one more time. What if Fallujah we're really like Austin? A city of laid back people just enjoying life. The US would not have gone in there. Not a shot would be fired.

"and I can say that moderate Americans are the greatest defense against imperialism and they need to be put in a place to recieve a global respect..."

If the above scenario were taking place I as a moderate would not consider that American blowing people up in a car bomb my brother. I would hate to resort to violence to manage the situation, but I know there is a kind of violence that only grows worse with appeasment.

"how do you expect that bombing their relatives is going to moderate Muslims?"

That's the rub. It's bad either way. Try to appease the violence of the insurgents and they will grow more bold and Vicious in their push to gain complete power bringing mass violence to their countrymen (shia majority) who would oppose them. Try to beat them down and they will spread though anger. I don't have that answer and I haven't heard a good direct answer from anyone else.
 
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The obvious solution was for the Citizens of Fallujah to oust the terrorists. Be a man! Fight for what is right! I have read a few of your blogs and find that you are the worst armchair quarterback of them all. You down the Americans who gave you the right to be able to post your feelings on the war. If I'm not mistaken, Saddam would have killed you for dissent. Force was the last resort to rid Fallujah of terrorists. The citizens of Fallujah had the oppurtunity prior to the offensive to arrest and turn over the terrorists that have no wish but to indicriminately kill whoever is there way. A democratic society is not born of cowards!
 
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