Saturday, January 22, 2005

 

Iraq: Seeking Solutions - Plan B


This post may look conspicuously out of step. With elections in Iraq eminent and democracy just round the corner, it does appear “unseemly” to suggest an alternative route. Well, it is written to be read (and probably dismissed) now but to be revisited at a later date and read again in hindsight.

With different people and different Departments and think-tanks quietly discussing various exit strategies behind closed doors in open-government America, I thought perhaps I can offer my own suggestion openly on the blogosphere.

We have a problem. We need solutions. Only people living in a fantasy world do not realize that. The coming elections in Iraq will not solve this problem, whatever the outcome. The reason is simple: Elections have to be believed by the majority of people to have any legitimacy. The coming elections are not. As simple as that!

The present situation is likely to deteriorate. The present course will only lead to more Iraqi and American blood being needlessly shed. In this post I hope that we can examine an alternative course of action.

***


"Great" statesmen, running the affairs of nations usually despise managing things on the "micro-scale". They prefer operating on the grand "macro-level". Well, life is generally not like that. Many things are better handled on the micro-level. Democracy in a widely diverse country is one of these things. My ‘plan A’ was basically about that.

Plan A, you may remember, was for the US to build true, representative democracy in Iraq. For a variety of reasons, this seems to be unacceptable to the US administration yet. I hope that I am realistic enough to know that that argument is a "dead ender".

So, here is a proposal for a ‘Grand Scheme’ to get us both out of the present quagmire. Of course, it may only be considered when the people who are pulling the strings realize that we are in a quagmire.

Basis - The US cannot succeed on its own

There are numerous reasons (that I hope are clear by now) why the US administration will not be able to "get there" on their own. Most fundamental of which is that almost all Iraqis lost faith in their intentions and/or capabilities. Other countries have little faith too, they fear the US’s intentions, and they will do everything they can to ensure its failure.

Attempts to involve NATO in the American scheme have also failed and will fail due to "old Europe's" resistance.

The task ahead of the administration to achieve that objective would require them to:

1. Convince the Iraqi people that the USA does not want to occupy Iraq indefinitely.

2. Convince Iraqis that the USA is not occupying Iraq in proxy on somebody else's behalf (multinational corporations, oil interests, etc.)

3. Convince Iraqis that America does really want democracy (not crony-cracy) in Iraq.

4. Convince Iraqis that the USA is not after Iraq's oil (for securing future US energy supplies or controlling the sources of that important commodity or after money for the connected corporations.)

5. Convince the world of the above.

This is a tall order indeed.

Given the track record of the administration in Iraq, I cannot frankly be optimistic about their chances of success in such an endeavor. I cannot even see much hope of a US success in this.

The other major problem is that because people mistrust the US administration so violently, any person who cooperates with them is stigmatized and labeled a traitor or a puppet in the eyes of ordinary people. This will naturally alienate a large number of decent people who fear for their reputation and will prevent them from taking part in any reconciliation process if pursued along the now-familiar lines.

Some people argue that America does not need to do that. American did not need to do that in Germany, Japan or Korea before. This argument will bring us back to (staying the course) which we all know by now is not working. Those countries were defeated (obliterated really in a world war). The people of Iraq were not defeated in war (Saddam's regime was). Furthermore, religion did not come into it really!

Only those people who have lived in this part of the world may have an idea what the power of religion could be like in these parts. And when it comes to playing the religious chord, the US administration is at a total loss, to say the least. There are others who are much more proficient in playing this game.

***


One possibility would be a bold admission of error, a declaration of a new intent, a clear and transparent plan. This would be political daydreaming in practical politics!

Many people have been saying that an immediate withdrawal by the US would lead to civil war or create a state of unstable chaos in the region. That may or may not be true. I certainly have some reservations regarding some of the “authoritative” assertions that have been made on this topic. In any case, an immediate withdrawal, leaving the country in a state of political vacuum and turmoil would not be a wise policy. It is a last resort (Plan C?). There is another alternative: an orderly, gradual and a more dignified withdrawal. Go international and do it through the UN!

It may sound strange for an Iraqi who suffered a great deal through those UN sanctions to advocate such a course. Strange it may be, but one has to be practical sometimes and choose the lesser of two evils!

Go to the UN and the World

There is a good lesson to learn from.

Last June, when the American administration reached a dead end with the CPA and the Iraq Governing Council (IGC) and wanted to change policy, they went to the UN to get a new mandate. They had to compromise to appease France, Germany, Russia, China, Pakistan and many others. There were a few jokes about it but the end result was not bad. Resolution 1546 was a good compromise.

However, the US administration does not seem to have learned the lesson. They continued to manipulate the political scene in Iraq and have simply replaced Mr. Chalabi by Mr. Allawi and the Iraq Governing Council by the Interim Government (The Interim National Assembly has already gone into oblivion).

Now, through this “political engineering”, we have reached the important stage of elections. The whole thing is only a fortnight away. Like last time, the whole thing has been designed behind closed doors to ensure that those cronies maintain their hold on political power in Iraq. If this happens, the whole process will be rejected. Resistance will continue (because public support for the resistance will continue) and we will all be back to square one. Evidently somebody in the US is extremely fond of square one.

Why repeat a failed policy. Why not build on a successful one?

Why the UN?

 Whether we like it or not, Iraq is already an international problem.

 Ever since the USA decided to go it (almost) alone in Iraq because the administration could not convince others of its cause, there has been conflict within the UN. The UN's role in the world has seen considerable decline.

 The general mood within the US administration is that you are either with us or against us. There is no desire to build true global coalitions. Most people believe that this is only self-assertion by the USA – to define the USA as the ONLY force in international affairs for this century.

 No matter how many people dislike or mistrust the UN, it is still the only body that represents international legitimacy.

If there are problems within the UN, the proper course of action should be to improve the institution to solve those problems, not ignore and trivialize that most important global organization. The US still has a great deal of muscle and influence within the UN.

Solution through the UN – Realization

This is just an idea for discussion. I will try to keep things as simple as possible to start with.

Objectives:

1. Honorable US withdrawal from Iraq.
2. Establishment of democracy in a stable Iraq.

Are these fair and practical objectives to aim for? Are they sufficient?

Proposed Solution

1. US maintains present course and status for a month but will only act in self defense and to preserve the peace and will not go after "insurgents" or carry out random searches and arrests, etc. during that month.

2. US announces and implements an immediate freeze on the building of permanent military bases in Iraq. If there is no such intention (!) they can publicly and categorically state their policy in this regard.

3. The US goes to the UN to help establish, within 2-4 weeks, a "International Council for Iraq" (ICI). Two alternatives are possible:

 A council of 15 members each nominated by a UN Security Council member state and approved by a majority of the other members.

 A council of 5 members of internationally respected figures nominated by the UN General Assembly and approved by the UN Security Council.

This council is to act as the supreme authority for running the country in the interim period of 6 months.

4. The US reiterates its intention to withdraw completely from Iraq at the request of the ICI or a democratically elected government.

5. Work out a UN Security Council resolution to "guarantee" the continuity of democracy in Iraq, under chapter 7 of the UN Charter (which authorizes the use of force). This is to guarantee that no military coup or other means of force are used to overthrow the newly born democracy of Iraq for a number of years. Iraq is already an international problem in many respects.

6. Place the Multi-national forces now in Iraq as well as the Iraqi army, police, etc. under the political authority of the ICI.

7. The ICI is given an international mandate for six months to establish a democratic government in Iraq, without any conditions on its conduct apart from the objectives mentioned above and normal financial auditing.

8. Let this "council of the wise" find its own solution without interference or pressure. I would only like to add that all its deliberations and activities should be made public.

The US can still seek to secure its strategic interests and the goal to combat international terrorism within the framework of international law and the norms of the international community, where it still has considerable muscle and influence.

Possible Opposition

The Iraqi People

Such a proposal may not be very popular with many Iraqis – they simply hold the UN responsible for much of their hardship through the 1990’s. Many don’t trust the UN and regard it as a US “tool”. But then again, most compromise solutions are not initially very popular with the various antagonists!

The US Administration

I am afraid the resistance from these quarters will be more on principle.
I will simply quote from a letter sent by some of the activists of the PNAC to President Clinton in January 26, 1998 and signed, among others, by: Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage, John Bolton, Richard Perle, Zalmay Khalilzad, William Kristol, James Woolsey and Robert Zoellick.
“In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.”



Comments:

Mr. Khaleel,

I think your comments are extremely valuable. If, based on your experience, those 5 issues are the true concerns of the Iraqi people. The idea is basically a PR campaign to communicate and convince Iraqi's that we are not there to steal oil, rape boys, etc.

As I mentioned previously, I have no idea what PR campaigns are being executed on behalf of US, Iraqi government, etc. Have ANY (?!?!?!?) attempts been made to alleviate concerns? Did anyone explain to people that bombing the oil infrastructure is what leads to petrol shortages? Or is there just a stonewall of silence? Clear communication and transparency is critical to the management of any endeavor - business, politics, or otherwise. Some sort of goal that establishes expectations and provides some mechanism for monitoring progress should be iterated. Has there been nothing? Really?

Now putting our feet back on the ground, we must realize that this isn't business administration 101 class (i.e. basic academic understanding of fundamentals). The fact that there is violence, murder, bombings, etc., complicates the process immensely. The US can't exactly give timetable for withdrawal, or overall boundary on strategy, because sovereignty was handed over last June. The Iraqi's can't really do it because things are too unstable to make commitments that can't necessarily be kept (because it is not in their power to control who bombs what, who murders who, etc.). Maybe they were hoping for elections to establish what would be considered a more legitimate government, check feedback from people, and then proceed.

Plan C is interesting but flawed since the UN has already asked its members to support Iraq (a long long time ago), and they ran at the first sign of trouble. A proactive UN could have accomplished a lot by now but they retreated. Many key players have deliberately chosen not to engage their countries to support Iraq.

Now, as everyone can see, liberation and transition to democracy is a bloody business. You imply that the majority of 'freedom fighters' are truly and really fighting for a democratic free iraq. I am skeptical. Their methods of murder and intimidation do not point to conciliation, compromise, and good will toward man. In any case, the UN interim leadership would have to be decisive and resolute. Can this realistically be expected from UN? It took them weeks to send an envoy/ coordinator to help tsunami victims by coordinating meetings on organization of priorities. What about corruption? No one is perfect I agree, but the UN really botched the oil for food program. On paper, it sounds great - very legitimate. But would it work?

I think your modified plan B would work if the insurgents are really just fighting for a free democratic iraq and US withdrawal.

The US should communicate clearly its intentions. If this has not been done it's beyond travesty. Allawi should ask for cease fire. Freedom fighters should find this easy to accept because they can always pick up arms later if someone cheats. Freedom is a cause that doesn't go away.

My guess is that the insurgents/terrorists would not accept because they are not interested in democracy. their only hope is to escalate violence and undermine current iraqi and US authority so they could take power in the chaos.

Didn't the laterst numbers on the insurgency that caused such a stir claim about 40,000 active fighters? Isn't that like 1/5 of 1% of the population? On paper the number looks small, but I can attest to the fact that in my small town, if 5-7 trained paramilitaries took rpg's and auto weapons and bombs and decided to cause trouble, they surely could.

I would be a damn shame if those few radicals were able to decide the course of your country.
 
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I think your post is entirely reasonable.

A few questions:
1) Are you looking for the UN to provide troops?
(It's a silly silly proposal but I've been thinking it would be nice if after the elections, the US would signal they will draw down their troops and situate their remaining troops in the Mosul/Kirkuk, the British in the Basrah, Russian/Ukranian/Polish/German troops securing the border with Syria and France/Spain/Italy troops securing the border with Iran. The big problem is that these countries will not field troops to Iraq. The primary goals here would be to (1) assure the Kurds and the Shia and (2) to stem the flow of weapons and foreign fighters into the country. As Iraqi security forces are recruited and trained, the international forces are drawn down further.)

2) Opposition by the Iraqi people
From what I understand, these are very rough estimates, Sunni-Arabs are 20%, Sunni-Kurds are 20%, Shia are 60% of the population. What if most of the population concurs with the results of the election on January 30th? What if 63.753% of the voters believe the elections held were legitimate? Any effort to disallow the results could lead to vehement opposition to oversight by a UN committee.

I do hope Allawi's party doesn't gain the preponderance of votes. It may do some good for someone other than the perceived favorite of the US to come out on top.

And most of all, I hope you participate in your new government. I'd like to see you appointed Ambassador to the United Nations.

Take care.
 
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Hello Abu Khaleel,

I have so many questions that I would be ecstatic if you could answer just one or two.

This is a win/lose situation for the United States. If the US wins, it gets an Iraqi Karzai permanently installed to rule Iraq the way Mubarak rules Egypt. Iraq will probably be the primary outsourcing destination when the US believes that the few restrictions on torture that it chooses to follow are still too onerous and prisoners have to be sent somewhere for some real painful interrogation.

If the US loses, Iraq will leave the control of the US and be free of its influence. I hope this happens in the form of a democracy. From the US point of view, there is no difference between an independent democracy and an independent dictatorship.

The questions I am curious about regard things the US do to maintain control over Iraq indefinitely and what can the Iraqi people do to force the US to reliquish control over Iraq as soon as possible.

The US is not above falsifying election results. What would be the best strategy if we find that Allawi won by a landslide?

How is the country holding together? I read somewhere after a bombing of Shiites outside a mosque that someone said that the Shiites understand that most Sunnis are not related to the bombings. That was very heartening. Is Sunni-Shiite animosity building? I hope not and I think probably not, but I'd like confirmation.

If the Americans do not risk falsifying the election results and Allawi loses, what do you consider a reasonable role for the Sunnis in the next government?

What items would you like to see in the constitution, assuming it is actually written by Iraqis?

Is there anyone in Iraq who wants a Baath resurgence? The resistance has spokespeople in the US State Department who have informed us that the resistance is trying to restore Hussein's government.

I read the insurgents released a tape that claimed they are fighting against tyranny, which is quite understandable given the examples of Egypt, Afghanistan and others, but I have not heard from them what they are fighting for.

Is there a proportion that for now is just focused on getting the Americans out? Directly by killing Americans and indirectly by making Iraqis afraid to collaborate with the Americans so the US will not have allies?

If the Shiites join the resistance at the urging of Sistani, how well could they work with the Sunnis?

If this vast increase in popular support for the resistance takes place, and US casualties multiply three, five or ten times, would that put enough pressure on Bush to get him to pull out even though he does not have any elections coming up?

I've read repeatedly that the Sunnis are not going to vote but the Shiites will. Any truth to that? Will Shiites consider the election more valid than the Sunnis?

I am the guy who has been arguing with Charles about the US' and Charles claims that the US would tolerate democracy in Iraq.

I'll go by the name:

Mr. Democracy
 
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Hello Abu Khaleel,
The rumor is that the Shia parties have agreed to not bring up the issue of US withdrawl after the election, the main demand of the resistance ( even Sadr). The problem with the Jan. 30th date is that the talking will end for good. After elections there will be a political structure which will never reconcile with the Sunni. So all that will remain is to crush the insurgency! This could take decades. As to the elections bringing legitimacy, I am not sure any government, democratic or otherwise can satisfy the Iraqi nature.
Can the US beat down the Iraqi resistance? That is quite possible- but such a neo-colonialist tact is abhorrent to world opinion.
I doubt the UN would do a better job than even a one-sided 'crony-cracy'. It might offer a fig-leaf to US withdrawl, but Bush seems unconcerned with US casualties at athe current rate(1000 deaths per year, 10000 per year serious injured)let alone Iraqi deaths (10000? per year).

"I could be well moved, if I were as you:
If I could pray to move, prayers would move me:
But I am constant as the northern star,
Of whose true-fix'd and resting quality
There is no fellow in the firmament.
The skies are painted with unnumber'd sparks,
They are all fire and every one doth shine,
But there's but one in all doth hold his place:
So in the world; 'tis furnish'd well with men,
And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive;
Yet in the number I do know but one
That unassailable holds on his rank,
Unshaked of motion: and that I am he,
Let me a little show it, even in this;"
Sounds like Bush?
 
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Sorry to be a wet blanket, Abu, but I think you’re grasping at straws here, for four reasons:
1) I think I’ve said something like this before: the UN is powerless to intervene in any major conflict without the participation of the US and its provision of much of the force. I am happy to be corrected on this, but far as I am aware, Korea and Gulf I are the only examples of really large-scale UN action - most UN interventions are small-scale, more police work, keeping factions apart and assisting parties to negotiate.
2) Iraq is a major conflict. You hear the figure of 20 to 40 thousand active insurgents, and it doesn’t sound much, until you consider that 40,000 against 160,000 occupation troops is only 4 to 1. (Leaving the ING out of the equation until it becomes an effective force, which doesn’t look like being soon.) Seems to me that one determined guerrilla can easily tie down 4 occupation troops for as long as he wants, with hit and run tactics. Particularly when he can hide easily among the population. (1950s Malaya is often cited as an example of successful counter-guerrilla warfare, but that was thousands of Commonwealth forces against a few hundred Chinese communists with little support from the local people.)
3) And among potential major players in any peacekeeping attempt, no-one except Russia, apparently, and perhaps China, maintains large conscripted armies these days, it’s more a matter of fairly small professional forces which are not intended for long term occupation-type duties. (One reason for the US failure, perhaps: they acted as though they had conscription-era forces available to draw on, when they didn’t. And the army brass would certainly not now want drafted soldiers half of whom are adamantly opposed to the war.) Take the UK, I believe they contributed 25,000 to the invasion force, but they can only maintain 9000 on a long term basis.
4) And as I’ve also said before, I very much doubt that changing the colour of their helmets to UN blue would make the Coalition forces welcome among the Iraq people at this late stage.

There is no easy simple practical solution - but there is hope, I reckon. You mention the frantic search in Washington for an "exit strategy:" if I had to chose one word to characterise the tenor of Bush’s Inauguration speech towards the world, it would be "conciliatory." There was a lot of rhetoric about standing for freedom, but none about fighting for it, the only mention of force was in regard to defence if attacked. (And of course Iraq wasn’t mentioned at all.) I think the pre-emptive doctrine is dead, the realities of the problems of empire have come home to roost, and cutting the costs of the war, human and financial, is now going to be the primary concern.
But in terms of internal US public relations, these damned elections have to be got through first - so many red-staters still cling to the simple belief that they will somehow change everything.
Does Iraq have some kind of historical "seat of Government" parliamentary site? Could it be made secure? Where is the new government to convene and govern from? Surely the worst thing that could happen would be for them to disappear into the Green Zone!
Circular
 
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"But in terms of internal US public relations, these damned elections have to be got through first - so many red-staters still cling to the simple belief that they will somehow change everything."

Wasn't it Churchill who said something like - 'a lie travels halfway around the world before the truth even get's its pants on...'?

Anyway, I don't recall anyone ever saying that elections would somehow magically solve the problems Iraq faces. The people who are murderously opposed to elections to begin with, are unlikely to embrace their results. Logical?

The hope is that millions of Iraqis, who freely choose from thousands of candidates, will generate results that are considered legitimate. These elected officials (not CPA appointed officials) will guide the country forward. It will be harder for the insurgents to argue - when they blow up an Iraqi civilian or government official - that they are fighting for freedom. There base of support will erode, and their opposition will increase.

Has anyone come to the conclusion that this is perhaps why the 'freedom fighters' do not want Iraqi's to vote?
 
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Charles, there’s not much point in arguing with you, since you don’t read what people actually say, you see what you want them to say, and therefore don’t answer to the point. You never responded intelligently to the last question I asked you, i.e. why has the US made such a cock-up of Iraq?
You can search Abu’s Blog from end to end, and you will not find a single sentence from him expressing support or approval for "terrorists." Or Baathists. He hates them. Nor will you find any such sentiments in any of my comments.
Abu is passionate about the ideal of achieving true representative democracy in Iraq - that’s why he started the bloody Blog in the first place. (I’m not so passionate, it’s really nothing to do with me, I’m just a neutral observer. And I take showers, not Baaths.) But he is also realistic - hence his "US mistakes" catalogue. What he is saying, if I interpret him correctly, is that the present mess (and it is a mess) is, among other things, partly due to Islamic religious fanaticism, and partly due to some very evil people in Iraq: but also partly due to excessively self-interested US policymakers and their mistakes.
And isn’t it a truism that if we don’t learn from our mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them?
Hope and idealism are great, but if they are not grounded in practicality then they are meaningless.
Take Somalia - the worst international basket case. It would be wonderful if some great and powerful nation (Australia, say, or China) decided to go in there and put things to rights. (And why not? Where is it written that the US is the only power licensed to decide where to apply freedom and democracy?)
But if they tried to do it with three battalions of Boy Scouts, they’d just make fools of themselves. And make things worse in Somalia.
Circular
 
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@ Circular

"there’s not much point in arguing with you, since you don’t read what people actually say, you see what you want them to say, and therefore don’t answer to the point. You never responded intelligently to the last question I asked you, i.e. why has the US made such a cock-up of Iraq?"

I've been trying real hard. I think I've come up with some decent rebuttals - not that I expect anyone to agree. Don't get all hissy and insulted just because I didn't respond to one of your rhetorical points among the deluge on this site.

OK. Circular: "why has the US made such a cock-up of Iraq?"

I have responded to this, or rhetorical posts like this, on several occasions. My first point is that it isn't over yet. Based on the opinions expressed by many here, we should have surrendered the pacific to Japan on Dec 8th. The Brits, my goodness, got hopelessly clobbered until 1942. Yes mistakes have been made, but an experienced soldier (as opposed to a hollywood actor soldier) will tell you that war is just a mad collection of mistakes and whoever makes the fewest wins. Be realistic. When you put 100,000+ soldiers armed to the teeth in the middle of populated areas where 'freedom fighters' are just as happy to cap civilians as they are soldiers, its a recipe for trouble. And trouble is gonna happen. Apart from combat, trying to help organize a country, all of its basic services, thousands of projects, etc., from scratch is a pretty daunting task. Consider any particular large public works project in US in peacetime. All sorts of blunders take place. It doesn't mean the people aren't professional or well intentioned, or incapable of completing the task. Now complicate that by just about every conceivable contingency, and you have the 'cock-up' in Iraq.

Its a testament to the military's professionalism that anything is getting done.

I am not going to be an armchair monday morning quarterback and bitch about how we disbanded the baathist security infrastructure. Not doing so could have proven immeasurably more damaging. For example, would the Shia have accepted this? If the baathists are fighting for power now from the sidelines, do you really think they would have fought to maintain shia (majority) authority if they were still running security? I don't know - but don't pretend like you do.

Our biggest failure - as far as I know - is failing to send a consistent message about where this is all going. Not to US - but to the Iraqi's. I am not there and I don't know what is being done. Mr. Khaleel should know. His points about attesting to our good intentions should certainly be done over and over.

The biggest problem forthe Iraqi's is the baathist/terrorist insurgency - NOT the US. you could use the Kurd's as a comparison. Weaker insurgency in kurdish areas - more progress and good will. and to a lesser extent the Brits - weaker insurgency in south - better relations.

The biggest problem is the sunni dominated areas where the insurgency is strongest. We all know why this is the case. Provocation - Response - Escalation - etc. I can't blame US soldiers for storming into suspected insurgent houses in the middle of the night. Should we simply send a courier with an invitation to attend a meeting at the local police station? I think we have tried all sorts of things. When it comes down to it, if the insurgents want to violate the law, and they do, then there will be a fight.

It should be pretty obvious that if the freedom fighters wanted democracy, they wouldn't fight elections. They just know that in a democracy they will lose. They may yet prevail. The critical success factor is Iraqi participation in securing democracy.

"You can search Abu’s Blog from end to end, and you will not find a single sentence from him expressing support or approval for "terrorists." Or Baathists. He hates them. Nor will you find any such sentiments in any of my comments."

But for every negative remark you make about the terrorists, you write 50 pages of negative remarks about US. You also seem unsure (to say the least) about which side in this battle is legitimate.

"What he is saying, if I interpret him correctly, is that the present mess (and it is a mess) is, among other things, partly due to Islamic religious fanaticism,"

1%

"and partly due to some very evil people in Iraq"

1%

": but also partly due to excessively self-interested US policymakers and their mistakes."

98%.

And isn’t it a truism that if we don’t learn from our mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them?

Yup. and you can bet that very experienced soldiers and statesmen, for both iraqi and US, are working hard.

"Hope and idealism are great, but if they are not grounded in practicality then they are meaningless."

Yeah. And 150000 coalition troops, billions of dollars, professional engineers, government officials, etc., are ready to provide practical assistance.

"Take Somalia - the worst international basket case. It would be wonderful if some great and powerful nation (Australia, say, or China) decided to go in there and put things to rights. (And why not? Where is it written that the US is the only power licensed to decide where to apply freedom and democracy?)"

China = freedom and democracy?

But hey, I'm all for it. The Aussies are great! Iraq could have been one of the few necessary examples if the world had held together and made an example. Many of the remaining baddies would have toed the line or called it quits when 'world' attention focused on them.
 
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The End Game? General Seeking Faster Training of Iraq Soldiers"The officer, Gen. Gary E. Luck, largely endorses a plan by American commanders in Iraq to shift the military's main mission after the Jan. 30 elections from fighting the insurgency to training Iraq's military and police forces to take over more security duties and become increasingly self-reliant, eventually allowing American forces to withdraw, the officials said."

"As Iraqis take on more security responsibilities, General Luck is recommending that American troops be freed up to be quick-reaction forces to back up the Iraqis or to help tighten Iraq's borders, especially with Syria and Saudi Arabia, where foreign fighters and couriers carrying cash for the insurgency often cross with impunity. Ultimately, as overall security improved, American forces could draw down,
officials said."
The US appears to be signaling the intent to withdraw. If the US adopts part of the strategy you laid out, if they step away from directly battling the insurgency, if they cease the random surches and arrests, would you suggest to your fellow countrymen that they "collaborate" with the newly elected government? (Would it be any less legitimate than the years spent collaborating with the Ba'athist dictatorship?)

Assuming 85% of Sunni-Arab boycott the election, if those elected to office on January 30th reached out to Sunni-Arabs, if they reached out to the lawyers, judges, academics, businesmen, to those Sunni-Arabs who reject fear and intimidation as means of advancing one's interests, if called on, would you participate in crafting the constitution?
 
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You see the world as a TV Cartoom, Charles: Mr. America (the good) against The Terrorists (the evil).

If Mr. America promotes farcical elections, it turns to be democratic ones. If Iraqi people boycott the farse, they turn to be terrorists.

Matrix got you, Charles.
 
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The above attests to the fact that Alvaro watches too much TV. But I refuse to get sucked into an ad hominem argument with a nutcase. Ooops.

Those are some really great points Alvaro! Seriously. I am now convinced that the USA is in fact not a democracy, but an evil dictatorship bent on conquering the world and sewing mayhem and destruction for the sheer pleasure.
 
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To Charles - From the Feedback thread:

On the insurgents:

There is so much I don't know about who they are and what they want.

Nobody wants to live under a tyranny and the Iraqi people, including the Sunnis and the insurgents, if my feeling for them is correct, do not want to reinstall Hussein.

From what I've read, Baathism is not necessarily Fascism. Baathism is a kind of pan-Arab nationalism that, if I remember correctly was developed as an idea in Syria. Of the two founders of the first Baath party, one was a Christian, the other was not, maybe he was a Sunni.

When the Baathists took power in Syria, they invited Nasser to incorporate Syria into Egypt to form one nation they called the United Arab Republic. That's the type of thing young idealistic people do. Nasser was not a Baathist per se.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baath_Party

So Baathism started as an idealistic movement that was secular, not inherently against democracy or capitalism as ideas. It was anti-Western and still is. Many Arabs perceive Arabs as victims of the West. I don't believe it is possible for there to be a popular Arab movement that is not anti-Western.

You can disagree, we've already discussed this.

So anyway, to call the insurgents Baathist is not to say much. The defining characteristic of Baathism is secularism, so any anti-Western group that is secular could fairly be called Baathist. Baathism is not itself inherently contradictory with democracy.

Now, former regime people have the organizational structure to take a lot of people who are angry at the US and make them a more effective force. There would probably be a less effective resistance if they were not there. But that does not mean that the aim of the resistence is to restore the former regime.

As far as guns and financing, Hussein left the nation awash with guns. The US knew coming in that many, possibly most families had guns. Hussein also apparently believed the US would take Baghdad and made some arrangments for materials to be hidden and decentralized. So I'm not sure how much of outside financing is needed.

If everything was in Fallujah, I knew the US would sweep the city after the election by the end of September. They had plenty of time to get what they needed out.

So I'm not sure much of the insurgency is related to to or directed from outside of Iraq in Syria. For me it does not have much explanatory power and I haven't seen much evidence of it. It's possible but I don't konw and have no good reason to believe it.

The insurgents haven't, to my knowledge, said what they want other than the Americans out. If the Americans were to pick up and leave, I think the insurgency would at least die down and maybe stop.

On how to reach democracy:

I think it would be very hard to convince the Sunnis, or the Shiites that the Americans are not there to oppress them. I think Sistani has a shot at convincing the Sunnis that he and the Shiites do not intend to oppress them.

By my calculation, the less American presence there is, the easier Sistani's job of averting a civil war. If Sistani tells the Americans to leave soon and the Americans do actually leave soon I don't think Sistani's job would even be particularly hard.

If the Americans stay - which I expect them to - their main contribution will be to embarrass and discredit Sistani, and make him less able to credibly negotiate with the Sunnis. That's how we get the civil war that I expect. I think this is emphatically not the worst case scenario for the Americans. I think the Americans would prefer a civil war to a stable Iraq unified under Sistani.

I define a democracy as a government that depends for its maintenance of power on the desires of the people being ruled.

I don't see Karzai's Afghanistan as a democracy or on the road to democracy or anything resembling democracy. Karzai depends to maintain power on the desires of the US Pentagon and State Department. I believe America never had any chance of credibility in Iraq, but if it had had any it would have lost it in Afghanistan.

But Sistani is saying that religious leaders are not meant to have direct role in government. I think the government they would set up now or after a short civil war would fit my definition of democracy. I think Sistani would make a government that transfers power peacefully from one leader to another with the leader selected who convinces the most Iraqi people that he or she has the best ideas.

A long civil war throws everything off.

I've said repeatedly that I think a stable democracy is the United State's worst case scenario. I don't expect the United States to be helpful in averting the civil war or even in keeping it short.

You can disagree, we've already discussed this.

If Sistani decides the US is not being helpful and decides to try to drive them out, I think the Shiites will join the insurgency. I think we'll see a pretty big spike in the amount of Americans killed. I also think attacks on Shiites will stop.

If the Americans leave relatively quickly after the Shiites join the insurgency, which I hope is what would happen, then Sistani will be back where he was right after the elections and even more credible.

At that point, the negotiations between Shiite Sunni and Kurdish leaders takes place without American involvement and I think there is a good shot at a stable democratic government.

If the Americans are able to string Sistani along until he loses credibility then a stable democractic government becomes much harder to reach. When the Americans 'Fallujah' Mosul, they are going to try real hard to convince the Sunnis that Sistani is responsible. If the Americans succeed, they win - we get the civil war.

It all depends on Sistani.
 
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The previous comment was left by Mr. Democracy.
 
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Charles says "it isn't over yet."
According to the latest post from Riverbend, corroborated by Reuters, there’s been no running water in much of Baghdad for five or six days now.
What happens in a large modern city when there’s no water? Complete civil breakdown? Does anyone know, is there any precedent? Can you add anything to these reports, Abu?
How stupid all this argument about elections, and blame for the chaos, and Sunni and Shiite, will seem if the worst comes to the worst.
What if thousands of Baghdad citizens die, Charles? You know, dead? No longer living? Terminated with extreme prejudice? Liberated from life? This isn’t a video game, it can’t be replayed.
Not a single Iraqi will blame the terrorists for that. They will blame the US corporation, Bechtel, which took control of the Baghdad water supply. And the American government that contracted with them to do so.
The message is so simple, even Charles should be able to grasp it. The Interim Government is interim, right, it answers to the US Ambassador. The almighty US conquered and occupied Iraq, it decided who made up the Government, it still rules Iraq, it determines what does and doesn’t happen. Its troops have right of way on the roads, the right to enter homes by force, the right to shoot passing Iraqi motorists, the right to do any damn thing they want.
But not the power to turn on the bloody water.
Circular
 
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"There is so much I don't know about who they are and what they want."

Agreed. I was just trying to consider the actual powerbases involved. Let's leave liberal ideologies out of this for a moment and consider what the real power structures are, and what their interests are. There was no democratic uprising under Saddam, why would there be one now?

Can we really ignore the fact that Syria and Iran have much to gain or lose depending on who prevails? Other ME countries as well?

"the Iraqi people, including the Sunnis and the insurgents... do not want to reinstall Hussein."

Perhaps. But sunni baath do not necessarily want a democracy, right? Call the movement what you want, but it is directed by former regime sunni baath.

"But that does not mean that the aim of the resistence is to restore the former regime."

Let's just say the goal might be to restore the former balance of power that left Sunni on top. Most conflicts get reduced to lowest common denominators, and not the lofty rhetoric used to inspire the troops.

"So I'm not sure how much of outside financing is needed."

Sure, but you have to pay the troops. There is definitely a need for significant outside financing.

"So I'm not sure much of the insurgency is related to to or directed from outside of Iraq in Syria. For me it does not have much explanatory power and I haven't seen much evidence of it. It's possible but I don't konw and have no good reason to believe it."

OK. I just wanted to consider it. We shouldn't ignore Iraq's powerful neighbors who certainly have motives.

"The insurgents haven't, to my knowledge, said what they want other than the Americans out. If the Americans were to pick up and leave, I think the insurgency would at least die down and maybe stop."

Very convenient for the insurgency not to have an agenda beyond the immediate short term. But do you really think the people behind the insurgencies are thoughtless? Of course they have visions (many different ones).

"I think it would be very hard to convince the Sunnis, or the Shiites that the Americans are not there to oppress them."

If the US really hasn't indicated its agenda for Iraq, then this could be true. I can't think of any examples where US maintained an active military presence oppressing people, but emotions are running high.

"By my calculation, the less American presence there is, the easier Sistani's job of averting a civil war."

but the security vacuum must be filled. US working hard to train Iraqi's, but there is a dedicated insurgency trying to intimidate/destroy these Iraqi forces. That keeps US engaged on daily basis.

"If Sistani tells the Americans to leave soon and the Americans do actually leave soon I don't think Sistani's job would even be particularly hard."

Assuming there are no forces organized against him. That might not be the case.

"If the Americans stay - which I expect them to - their main contribution will be to embarrass and discredit Sistani, and make him less able to credibly negotiate with the Sunnis."

What are the latest opinion polls about immediate US pullout? It's one thing to dislike the US presence. It's quite another to want them to leave ASAP.

"I define a democracy as a government that depends for its maintenance of power on the desires of the people being ruled."

That's too broad if you are serious. There must be real mechanisms to regulate balance of power, transfer of power, rights of minorities, freedom of expression, etc.

"I think Sistani would make a government that transfers power peacefully from one leader to another with the leader selected who convinces the most Iraqi people that he or she has the best ideas."

I don't know.

"If Sistani decides the US is not being helpful and decides to try to drive them out, I think the Shiites will join the insurgency. I think we'll see a pretty big spike in the amount of Americans killed. I also think attacks on Shiites will stop."

Agreed.

"If the Americans are able to string Sistani along until he loses credibility then a stable democractic government becomes much harder to reach. When the Americans 'Fallujah' Mosul, they are going to try real hard to convince the Sunnis that Sistani is responsible. If the Americans succeed, they win - we get the civil war."

Whoever is in power in Iraq, will have to depend on US forces to assist in security. If the Sunni's really desire to join a shia dominated democracy and the current fight is just against the US, then maybe you are right. I just see other forces at work here.

"It all depends on Sistani."

I think they have made concerted attempts to appease sunnis, and offered top slots in government whatever the outcome of election.
 
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http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,12029888%255E2703,00.html

"THE Shi'ite Muslim cleric tipped to become prime minister of Iraq after this Sunday's elections declared yesterday it would be the duty of the new government to demand the withdrawal of US forces "as soon as possible"."

"The Bush administration has said any Iraqi request for the removal of the 173,000 US-led foreign troops in the country would be honoured."
 
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On a definition of democracy:

"That's too broad if you are serious. There must be real mechanisms to regulate balance of power, transfer of power, rights of minorities, freedom of expression, etc."

I think it is possible for there to be a democracy without rights of minorities, freedom of expression and etc. Those things are good, but peaceful transitions from one group of rulers to another based on the expressed popularity of their philosophy are the bare bones requirements for democracy. Add too much stuff to the list of requirements and it starts to seem like you are trying to sneak a whole culture in under the rubric of democracy. Things that are good can be defended on their own merits.

"Whoever is in power in Iraq, will have to depend on US forces to assist in security. If the Sunni's really desire to join a shia dominated democracy and the current fight is just against the US, then maybe you are right. I just see other forces at work here."

If I'm right, the Sunni just don't have the numbers to defeat the Shiites in a civil war, and the Shiites could, if they needed, get as much foreign support as the Sunnis and the Sunnis know it.

Also, I have not seen much good evidence of an intense rivalry between Shiites and Sunnis. From what I've read, good friends sometimes don't even know what group the other is in.

My feel is that most of the fighting is happening to get the Americans out. If the Americans are gone you lose the volunteers, you lose the popular support, there is not a good chance of winning, I can't imagine the insurgency still having gas after the Americans leave.

The Americans are saying they'll leave if asked. Let's hope they're telling the truth.

The credibility of the Shiites depends on their asking, and they know it. Let's hope for the best.

"Can we really ignore the fact that Syria and Iran have much to gain or lose depending on who prevails? Other ME countries as well?"

The Shiites are going to prevail. Syria and Iran know it and will act accordingly.

The leaders of the Sunnis know it and will be able to get reasonable concessions.

"If the US really hasn't indicated its agenda for Iraq, then this could be true."

I really doubt Iraqis today take the US at its word.

"Very convenient for the insurgency not to have an agenda beyond the immediate short term. But do you really think the people behind the insurgencies are thoughtless? Of course they have visions (many different ones)."

I don't know what agenda they have. I'm not the one they are trying to recruit. But since I don't know what agenda they have beyond expelling the Americans, doesn't mean I get to make one up and impute it on them.

The thing is that most of them are fighting for what they say they are fighting for. Once that is acheived, most of the fighters go home. If the leaders have a further agenda - I have not seen evidence that they do, and don't feel entitled to make one up on their behalf - any further agenda doesn't matter if they don't have volunteers.
 
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"Those things are good, but peaceful transitions from one group of rulers to another based on the expressed popularity of their philosophy are the bare bones requirements for democracy. Add too much stuff to the list of requirements and it starts to seem like you are trying to sneak a whole culture in under the rubric of democracy."

I don't think there are any 'democracies' that lack the bare bones that I mentioned. It is an overused cliche to say the US is trying to impose a US system on Iraq.

"If I'm right, the Sunni just don't have the numbers to defeat the Shiites in a civil war, and the Shiites could, if they needed, get as much foreign support as the Sunnis and the Sunnis know it."

I hope you are right. And when i mentioned "sunnis", I meant sunni extremists.

"Also, I have not seen much good evidence of an intense rivalry between Shiites and Sunnis. From what I've read, good friends sometimes don't even know what group the other is in."

Its not the decent folks that cause problems. I have read the same evidence (lots of intermarraige, etc.). But you cannot deny a concerted effort on behalf of sunni extremists to provoke shia through bombings, assasination, and intimidation. I hope you are correct.

"My feel is that most of the fighting is happening to get the Americans out."

Most of the targets and causalties are Iraqis.

"If the Americans are gone you lose the volunteers, you lose the popular support, there is not a good chance of winning"

All you may need for trouble is the 'hope' of a chance in the minds of the extremists - not a good chance.

"I can't imagine the insurgency still having gas after the Americans leave."

Let's hope.

"I don't know what agenda they have. I'm not the one they are trying to recruit. But since I don't know what agenda they have beyond expelling the Americans, doesn't mean I get to make one up and impute it on them."

You impute agendas all the time. That is primarily what you have been doing on this site - along with Circular and Bruno. Don't pretend otherwise.

"The thing is that most of them are fighting for what they say they are fighting for. Once that is acheived, most of the fighters go home. If the leaders have a further agenda - I have not seen evidence that they do, and don't feel entitled to make one up on their behalf - any further agenda doesn't matter if they don't have volunteers."

Again, its quite noble, and deferential to the point of aristocratic, not to question their intentions. Consideringtheir actions to date, I wonder if this deference is misplaced.

In any case, if all you say is true, then I would consider this a reasonable success (perhaps history would consider it a 'glowing' success). If the US can pull out after having deposed Saddam, leaving a stable, democratic Iraq, then everyone's goals have been achieved.

Its going to be a bloody week though...

What do you think Mr. Khaleel?
 
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Wow! This sight is really eye opening.

After watching a few episodes of an arab soap opera (?) where fascist jews slaughter people with sadistic glee, I was almost ready to join jihad myself...

The site has lots of otherinteresting video clips - from iraqi election commercials, to insurgent confessions - check it out!
 
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[I wrote this comment offline two days ago, the last time we had electricity. I will just post it as it is. It would be my contribution to the ever increasing length of comments! I confirm Riverbend's assertion about the water. Water is now back in our neighborhood at least. Electricity is also better. Now we get one hour every twelve!]
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I didn’t anticipate so many questions! But I’m gratified that we are at least beyond attacks and name-calling and into a serious debate. Some of these issues have been discussed, sometimes more than once in previous posts. Perhaps it is difficult to find the answers in the maze of posts and comments. I have been working on a site map, but I’m still not satisfied with it yet. (I never thought that blogging was going to be so much hard work!). So, what I think I will do is to answer as many of your questions (in repetition or by pasting earlier responses) here and then perhaps add a link to this post in the sidebar or create a new post dedicated to questions. This may evolve into a FAQ area for future readers interested in details. Any ideas?



Your Questions:

The idea is basically a PR campaign to communicate and convince Iraqi's that we are not there to steal oil, rape boys, etc.
No. It is not a PR issue. It has more to do with facts on the ground. Besides, Iraqis are generally quite skeptical of any media and for good reason. They simply don’t trust any media channel completely. They have learned the hard way. They have their own inaccurate but efficient grapevine. You may remember that Abu Ghraib was repeatedly shelled months before the prisoner-abuse scandal became known to the world through the media. Iraqis knew. The Red Cross knew. The US military knew. Bremer knew. It was only when the American public found out that there was that uproar.

How can any PR campaign be successful if there is so much discrepancy between the ‘conveyed intentions’ and the facts that the people live through every day? It would have to be an extremely powerful propaganda campaign augmented with a block of other information channels! Some of the forces present in Iraq, including the US administration, are doing their best in the latter direction!

As a matter of fact, my own opinion is that a PR campaign is indeed needed – but it should be directed to the American public. So many seem to be totally unaware of so many of the things taking place in Iraq. Just look through the comment section of my previous post and note the (presumably genuine) outrage at my ‘allegations’ of incidents involving ‘bad apples’!

So many people were shocked by that incident of the family in the car south of Mosul. Iraqis were not. Such incidents to them are common place. I truly meant what I said that I knew of more than 200 such incidents witnessed by more than one person.

This week alone I went to two Fat-has for two people shot in their cars in similar incidents. Both were in broad daylight. In both cases, they did not pose any threat to soldiers. In one of them, a cousin of mine, was in a car with her husband and their two children. They were stopped and their car was inspected at a checkpoint. They were about 100 yards moving “away”, when fire was opened on the checkpoint. The soldiers shot at them. She and one of her children were killed. Her husband was badly injured and is now permanently disabled. Several thousand people by now know of this incident. No amount of PR can convince them otherwise. It is the American public who don’t know… and who need to be informed.

Did anyone explain to people that bombing the oil infrastructure is what leads to petrol shortages? There is no reason to explain. They know. They actually know a lot more than that! That does not relieve the authority in charge of the responsibility.

Some sort of goal that establishes expectations and provides some mechanism for monitoring progress should be iterated. Has there been nothing? Really?You tell me. That is why I wrote that “control and feedback” post. Unrealistic rosy-picture painters are generally laughed at. They talk about things that people don’t see on the ground and in everyday life. Nor do they make their miserable existence more tolerable.

Just last week the Association of Muslim Clerics was approached by the American embassy to try and convince them to participate in the elections. They put 3 or 4 conditions. One of them was to put some time-table for a US withdrawal. They didn’t specify any dates. That was immediately rejected and the approach was promptly terminated.

Now, as everyone can see, liberation and transition to democracy is a bloody business. Liberation was a bloody process, but it was more or less accepted by the people. Transition to democracy need not have been so bloody. It was a mess through incompetence or bad planning and management to a criminal level.

You imply that the majority of 'freedom fighters' are truly and really fighting for a democratic free iraq. I am skeptical. Their methods of murder and intimidation do not point to conciliation, compromise, and good will toward man. I will just paste my previous comment on the break up of resistance. One has to be careful not to lump all the various groups together. They are not the same. At the moment, many are only united in fighting the US army, but their agenda are quite wide.

I quote:

… regarding the various groups fighting the USA, things are far, far worse than officials think!!!!

I was reading an article by Pat Buchanan in "American Conservative" yesterday and he quotes people estimating the insurgents as… "A year ago, Gen. John Abizaid estimated there were 5,000 enemy fighters. After capturing and killing thousands, officials now estimate there are 20,000 enemy". [More recently, our new chief of intelligence estimated the active combatants as 40,000!]

I would really be reluctant to hazard a guess as to the number of people in the various groups. I can only extrapolate from my own personal observations, but get ready for a shock:

1. Criminals: Before the war, Saddam released all inmates from Abu Ghraib. None were political prisoners (those were probably killed long ago!). The number was some 64,000! Some of these are hard-core criminals already organized in gangs and were mostly responsible for much of the more serious looting of banks and the Iraqi museum. Now some are unbelievably rich. How about more than $400 million in cash robberies? Most of these have been specializing in drugs, kidnapping, and other such activities. Would 10,000 – 20,000 sound too much?

2. Religious people - "regular Islamists" defending the "faith" against "infidels": Would something like 100,000 – 200,000 come like a shock? This seems to be the strongest, most motivated group. Many non-Islamists operate under this umbrella.

3. I have no idea who many terrorists (of the Al Qaeda type) there are. Several estimates, better informed than I am, put the figure around 1,500 and 5,000.

4. Baathists as patriots, some 20,000 - 50,000.

5. "Freedom fighters", well everybody seems to be a sympathizer! But for people actually carrying weapons and ready to do some fighting… well, would something like 200,000 come as another shock?

6. What I call "forces of darkness" doing all sorts of nasty, inexplicable things (to Iraqis mainly). I think that these have infiltrated all other groups. I have no idea how many there are.

Many, if not most, have military training. You also have no idea of the amount of stockpiled weaponry and explosives available to these people. I am told that there is a thriving export business for these things!

I cannot claim that these estimates are accurate in any way. They are just my own personal guess from what I see and hear, but I assure you that they are far more realistic than the "official" US numbers quoted above. Only time will tell.

I honestly don't know why the administration has been giving gross under-estimates. They could probably be honest but acting on deficient intelligence… but it never pays to underestimate your adversary.


I think your modified plan B would work if the insurgents are really just fighting for a free democratic iraq and US withdrawal. Most insurgents are unified in fighting “against” the American presence. Therefore you can say that some are fighting for a free Iraq. But there is no political agenda that I am aware of at the moment. I doubt if “international terrorists” and “the forces of darkness” care much for US troops leaving Iraq. Perhaps many do not want them to. Some see this as a historic opportunity!

My guess is that the insurgents/terrorists would not accept because they are not interested in democracy. their only hope is to escalate violence and undermine current iraqi and US authority so they could take power in the chaos. This is an assumption. Some Americans usually get angry if someone questions the true intentions of their administration and cry “conspiracy theory!”. Yet they have no difficulty “assigning” intentions to others! It may certainly be true for some of them, but one shouldn’t generalize about something one doesn’t know well.

Are you looking for the UN to provide troops? I would prefer to leave that to the “council of the wise” and to the countries involved. I really couldn’t speak for them, but I would expect countries to contribute if there was something in it for them (a piece of the cake maybe)!

Opposition by the Iraqi people… What if most of the population concurs with the results of the election on January 30th? What if 63.753% of the voters believe the elections held were legitimate? Any effort to disallow the results could lead to vehement opposition to oversight by a UN committee. Believe it or not, I would be ecstatic if that was the case. But from what I see and hear everyday, this doesn’t seem to be the case (most ordinary Sunnis and Shiites are united on this)

I do hope Allawi's party doesn't gain the preponderance of votes. It may do some good for someone other than the perceived favorite of the US to come out on top. What I expect is that the elected assembly will be more like an expanded IGC with the various parties getting slightly different shares. Allawi’s group seems poised to increase their share. The US will not allow the clergy to have a dominant role.

If the US loses, Iraq will leave the control of the US and be free of its influence. I hope this happens in the form of a democracy. From the US point of view, there is no difference between an independent democracy and an independent dictatorship. You are right in as far as the present US administration may look at it this way. I disagree. I believe that their thinking is still dominated by cold-war mentality. A truly democratic government will no doubt be antagonist to the US to start with, but in the long term this could lead to a more sound and lasting friendship. There are other requirements for that friendship of course to be true and mutual By now it is evident that friendship was never a high priority for the post-invasion planners.

The questions I am curious about regard things the US do to maintain control over Iraq indefinitely and what can the Iraqi people do to force the US to reliquish control over Iraq as soon as possible. Unfortunately I know the answer to this one. I can tell you there will still be resistance to that control, even under the ashes, 200 years from now! But I expect that in a few years, that control will be through cronies – very much like what happened in Iraq after the British invasion last century. And that will still be resisted. I plan to write on this.

The US is not above falsifying election results. What would be the best strategy if we find that Allawi won by a landslide? I have alluded to this above. I hope to publish a “prediction” of election results soon!

How is the country holding together? I read somewhere after a bombing of Shiites outside a mosque that someone said that the Shiites understand that most Sunnis are not related to the bombings. That was very heartening. Is Sunni-Shiite animosity building? I hope not and I think probably not, but I'd like confirmation. This is a very important question. Please refer to my posts on Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq. One particular incident keeps coming back to my mind. I have written about it and will paste it again here because it portrays the reaction of many people.

[A few months ago there was an exceptionally horrible blast at one of the Shiite holy shrines in which hundreds were killed. A few days later, I was having a conversation with an old "stanch" Shiite who dismissed any talk of a possibility that the incident was the work of extremist Sunnis by saying "I don't believe there is any likelihood of that. The shrine has been sitting there facing Sunnis for a thousand years and no one ever did any harm to it, why would they now?"]

In most such incidents (and there have been many), the targeted side was the first to say that they believed the other side didn’t do it!

Have you heard or read about any (indigenous) community leader of either sect speaking ill of the other? Please search and think about this. Your perception is perfectly correct.

Having said that, there is still some persistence from parties that I cannot pinpoint to ignite sectarian strife and conflict. There were even incidents where people were killed reportedly for belonging to a certain sect. Unfortunately, and as a result, there is considerable tension in some quarters of Iraq. You hear much grumbling and complaining in private, from both sides. My own firm belief, is that Iraqis have so many common channels, so many reasonable people that, if left to their own devices, they can diffuse it.

The sad aspect is that there are so many people with guns working in the dark!

If the Americans do not risk falsifying the election results and Allawi loses, what do you consider a reasonable role for the Sunnis in the next government? A tough one. Assuming that such a government will be in control of things, they will be in the same position as the Shiites after the Assembly elections of 1924 following the British invasion. Some will no doubt call for participation in government outside the elections. Many people have already hinted at this. This is not a solution really. The solution is to have elections where everybody takes part. It is not that difficult. But some people do not want it!

What items would you like to see in the constitution, assuming it is actually written by Iraqis? I actually have dedicated a blog where I listed many of these points in a suggestion for a nucleus of a constitution (accessible from the Rapid Democracy blog). However, it is in Arabic. It does not differ much from what I have been saying on this blog: Democracy based on accepting diversity; majority rule but no tyranny over minorities; decentralized government; power and wealth sharing. Nothing weird or difficult, unless you want to cling to power or control by any means possible!!! The reaction of many of the neo-parties without any real power base has been dismal to say the least.

Is there anyone in Iraq who wants a Baath resurgence? The resistance has spokespeople in the US State Department who have informed us that the resistance is trying to restore Hussein's government. Yes. There are still many Baathists who are still true to their belief and ideology (something similar to communists in Eastern Europe). Many of them are now trying to detach themselves from the previous regime and rally support to their original doctrine. I would estimate the total number of supporters to be in the neighborhood of one million people (and increasing). A significant component, contrary to myth, is Shiite!

Those trying to restore Saddam’s regime are far less. They have only been “publicly” active very recently. Their argument is that things were actually better under Saddam for the average person – services, personal security for those who didn’t oppose the government, national pride etc. I personally don’t think they have much prospect for any public support.

I think I mentioned somewhere that a mother whose son ‘went missing’ in the uprising of 1991 actually once said that her life was better under Saddam!

I read the insurgents released a tape that claimed they are fighting against tyranny, which is quite understandable given the examples of Egypt, Afghanistan and others, but I have not heard from them what they are fighting for. Most are only saying that they are fighting for the liberation of the country from occupation. Some are saying that they are fighting for Islam or Arab Nationalism. Most are now acting under the religious umbrella (there are reasons for this) but many are not religious at all. Much of what they want to say is transmitted through mosques. People go there (some people go there five times a day). There is nothing the government or the US army can do about that – particularly as far as word-of-mouth message transmission. Even Saddam could do nothing about it except trying to infiltrate them.

Their last message was that they did not condone targeting Iraqi civilians or public utilities and that they will be going after the people who do. The problem with such communications is that you can never be sure of their authenticity.

Is there a proportion that for now is just focused on getting the Americans out? Directly by killing Americans and indirectly by making Iraqis afraid to collaborate with the Americans so the US will not have allies? Yes. Definitely. This is the main thing that is uniting all those groups even if there is no contact between them.

If the Shiites join the resistance at the urging of Sistani, how well could they work with the Sunnis? I don’t see any problem in this. They have been doing it for more than a thousand years. The problem is geography and tyranny, not sect. There are already numerous Shiites involved in this in mixed areas.

If this vast increase in popular support for the resistance takes place, and US casualties multiply three, five or ten times, would that put enough pressure on Bush to get him to pull out even though he does not have any elections coming up? I can only see one power Bush may listen to at the moment: the American people. I still believe that 4 out of 5 Americans still don’t care enough. Are they waiting for the body count to reach the magic figure of 50,000 to start paying attention? I hope not.

I've read repeatedly that the Sunnis are not going to vote but the Shiites will. Any truth to that? Will Shiites consider the election more valid than the Sunnis? I think its more politics and geography than sect, although this is the image constantly portrayed by the media, to the extent that I sometimes doubt my own good sense!! This definitely the case in mixed Baghdad. The division is more political than sectarian.

But as we say in Iraq: “repeated hammering will ultimately break the weld”. That will be a sad day for me. So far, the weld seems to be holding!

The rumor is that the Shia parties have agreed to not bring up the issue of US withdrawl after the election, the main demand of the resistance ( even Sadr). The problem with the Jan. 30th date is that the talking will end for good. After elections there will be a political structure which will never reconcile with the Sunni. So all that will remain is to crush the insurgency! This could take decades.

I agree with the first part. By definition, all the major players in this election are members of the IGC. They will do the US administration’s bidding. Isn’t this the whole idea behind crony-cracy?

I think I have already referred to the other points.


As to the elections bringing legitimacy, I am not sure any government, democratic or otherwise can satisfy the Iraqi nature. This is very perceptive of you. Iraqis are notorious for being extremely difficult to govern (but the US administration does not seem to have taken that into account!) It is a long story. Our history is full of examples. I would love to come back to this point sometime. This subject has always fascinated me. You have no idea how much time and thought I have spent trying to understand my own people! My own primary diagnosis is that these people are “survivalists” of the highest order. It has to do with the nature of the country itself and the long history. Many of their other traits follow from there. This is where neocon theory of subjecting people to an extreme pressure to make them yield did not, and will not work, in Iraq. They are too resilient for that.

Can the US beat down the Iraqi resistance? That is quite possible- but such a neo-colonialist tact is abhorrent to world opinion. Yes, on the surface, but not in the long term… unless the US can win over the people, which they don’t seem to have much regard for at the moment. As to world opinion, anybody who reads what the world is saying is quickly convinced that the present administration does not care much for what the world thinks.

______________________________


[I hope that I have answered most of the questions that I was able to read when I connected to the web briefly this morning.

I feel in a good and generous mood today (No, I have not changed my bed to a circular one which has no wrong side – perhaps Circular should consider doing that!) It’s because at last it is raining! I had broadcast quit a bit of grain on a gamble. I only hope that the seeds I am sowing in this blog will also find favorable conditions sometime ]
 
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From Circular
I wrote this before Abu’s encyclopaedic post above. Seems a shame to waste it.
Charles wrote:
"You impute agendas all the time. That is primarily what you have been doing on this site - along with Circular and Bruno. Don't pretend otherwise."
Talking about me? I’d be glad to impute an agenda, if I could figure out what that meant. Since I can’t, could I instead make a couple of mild suggestions, Charles?
Is it perhaps bad form, or bad manners, to hijack the comments section of a Blog such as this by posting too frequently and at too great a length? Might it not be a courtesy to other participants to limit oneself in the main to reasonably succinct comments that are to the point, rather than endless comprehensive re-statements of already established positions?
In respect of this, I don’t know how other readers feel, but I personally find that these very long dialogues between two participants, consisting of quotes and rebuttals of one another, such as you have just been conducting with another bloody anonymous, can become a trifle tedious - perhaps more an exercise in point-scoring than useful discussion?
(Yes, Bruno me old mate, sorry but this means you too. There’s more to the game than just marking your man.)

Perhaps I may be permitted a little rant. I haven’t seen anything posted by anyone on this Blog indicating that they are opposed to democracy. And some of us can become a little impatient when preached to by US posters about the wonders of freedom and democracy, as though they had invented the concept and held the world patent on it, and needed to explain its virtues to us ignorant others. I won’t repeat the listing of democratic countries that I submitted a couple of months ago - but can I say that I live in a country, NZ, that knows more about democracy and individual liberties than the US ever will, certainly if it continues down its present path.
Our democracy hasn’t been founded on a lie - we didn’t disenfranchise part of our population for 200 years because of their skin colour. Over 80% of us turn out every three years to vote - not a miserable 50% such as certain countries struggle to achieve. We are not stuck with 19th century political structures, our systems are under constant review to make them fairer and more representative - after serious and sensible debate, non-partisan, we recently in effect abandoned our two-party system, which had become outmoded, and initiated an experiment with partial proportional representation. There has never in the past century been the slightest suggestion of any sort of irregularity in the voting process - the idea is simply unimaginable.
Incoming Governments get a quick photo on the steps of Parliament, and then it’s down to work - any party that wasted a lot of money on an imperial Inaugural spectacular, especially when our boys were dying overseas, would very smartly end up in the freezing works, being converted into dog tucker. Various Governments over the years have raised the idea of some sort of national ID card - the Kiwi response has always been "You can tag the sheep, mate, but you’re not bloody tagging me!"
And it is impossible to see a person openly carrying a gun on the streets of our cities. Including the Police. 150 years ago our society was quite similar to the Wild West. We grew up, and our murder rate now is a tiny fraction of yours.
I think I’m entitled to be a bit sceptical about the value of this "election" in Iraq.

And don’t get me started on Australia. We are democratic wimps compared to them, voting is actually compulsory there!
 
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Interesting thread. I’m still here, lurking, I’m afraid. I do believe that Sistani is probably the key to the whole thing, and that a lot of people from all sides would like to see him dead. I still hope that he would want to reconcile all Iraqis as opposed to promoting sectarian interests. And I don’t believe for a second that Iraqis are stupid enough to vote for Allawi.

And, the ideas that Abu Khaleel proposes should have been seriousy considered a long time ago.
 
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This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
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I forgot to post link previously. I think most people who are not in ME will find this site a real 'eye opener'.

http://www.memritv.org/Search.asp?ACT=S1
 
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Charles
"But can't we agree that having elections is better than not having elections?"
Any elections, even badly flawed ones held under impossible conditions, are better than no elections? I think the point is debatable. If you asked the citizens of Fallujah whether they wanted democracy right now, they’d probably say they’d like their houses back first, and no retinal scans, thank you very much.
If George Bush has a mission "from beyond the stars" to bring freedom and democracy to every country that needs it, will he do it more efficiently next time? Or will he (and you) refuse to admit any mistakes and produce another blood-soaked shambles? My post above was partly about humility.
Hey Abu, a "calling from beyond the stars!" See, you were wrong, it wasn’t caused by neo-con conspirators. It was aliens from outer space!
Circular
 
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@ Circular

"Any elections, even badly flawed ones held under impossible conditions, are better than no elections? I think the point is debatable."

Just about anything can be debated. sometimes decisions have to be made. The shia are the historically oppressed MAJORITY in Iraq and they want elections held on schedule. Its nice to look at things from an insulated academic perspective, but what MIGHT be the result of not holding the elections on schedule as planned and promised?

It might encourage the terrorists by showing them that the deliberate and murderous strategy to stop elections was successful.

It might push the Shia over the edge wherein they reject the process of legitimately assuming power through elections, and choose to take power viloently.

That's the problem with life, there are no certainties and people have to make what they consider to eb the best decisions in context of what is happening.

"If you asked the citizens of Fallujah whether they wanted democracy right now, they’d probably say they’d like their houses back first, and no retinal scans, thank you very much."

OK. It seems the one principle you have tried to stick to, is that if something represents the will of the majority, then it is legitimate. Now that doesn't meet all 'my' requirements for a healthy democracy, but you can't even pretend a 'democracy' without that fundamental condition.

"If George Bush has a mission "from beyond the stars" to bring freedom and democracy to every country that needs it, will he do it more efficiently next time? Or will he (and you) refuse to admit any mistakes and produce another blood-soaked shambles?"

I know it was really wacky of him to actually believe in lofty goals of freedom and liberty, and outright daft to connect our security and therefore foreign policy to the achievement of these goals, but don't worry - he will be out of office in less than 48 months.

I still can't figure out what bothers people more, the fact that we liberated Iraq, or the fact that mistakes were made (and will always be made).

"Hey Abu, a "calling from beyond the stars!" See, you were wrong, it wasn’t caused by neo-con conspirators. It was aliens from outer space!"

I guess its cute to be cynical - I know its all the rage in much of Europe. But do you share any of the 'alien' telepathically influenced beliefs of GWB???
 
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Charles
"If you asked the citizens of Fallujah whether they wanted democracy right now, they’d probably say they’d like their houses back first, and no retinal scans, thank you very much."
"OK. It seems the one principle you have tried to stick to, is that if something represents the will of the majority, then it is legitimate. Now that doesn't meet all 'my' requirements for a healthy democracy, but you can't even pretend a 'democracy' without that fundamental condition."

I’m sorry, but for the life of me I can’t see the connection between my statement and your apparent response. My statement refers to the widely expressed view that for many Iraqis what matters right now is security, stability, safety, that elections without these are meaningless. And don’t start moaning about terrorists, we’ve covered that before. It was up to the conquerors to contain them, not create conditions in which they thrive and multiply.

"... do you share any of the 'alien' telepathically influenced beliefs of GWB???" No, I don’t. I prefer the human beliefs of Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon ...
Circular
 
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@ Circular

"I’m sorry, but for the life of me I can’t see the connection between my statement and your apparent response. My statement refers to the widely expressed view that for many Iraqis what matters right now is security, stability, safety, that elections without these are meaningless."

Sorry - I didn't expect you to get lost so easily...

My point is that the MAJORITY do want to hold elections on schedule. The minority, and escpecially the citizen's of falluja, should not be the one's deciding on when/if elections take place.

My comment was based on your principle (+bruno, several anons, mr. dem, etc.) that the will of the majority should be respected.

No doubt many Iraqi's have 'doubts' about elections. They probably have doubt's about lots of things (like will they survive a trip to the store?). But that is quite different from them knowing for certain that elections should not happen on schedule.

"I prefer the human beliefs of Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon ..."

And how pray tell do these beliefs differ from those iterated by GWB?
 
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Well as far as I know none of them claimed to be acting on behalf of The Force from beyond the stars, none of them claimed to be divinely appointed. And a damn good thing too.
What exactly is the difference between a fanatical Muslim fundamentalist and a fanatical Christian fundamentalist? They both end up causing unnecessary death.
 
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Hello Abu Khaleel,
Excellent blog delivered under battlefield conditions!
Really, you and all Iraqi bloggers are enduring horrendous inhuman conditions for which Bush, again, is ultimately responsible! (If Zarqawi rules Iraq then he is responsible!)I think it is about time for US bloggers to admit that things couldn't be much worse. I would like to assure you that this was not Bush's vision(he doesn't know what the word 'plan' means), however his occupation strategy has predictably managed to turn 50% of your country deadset against him( funny, same here in the US). He believes it is axiomatic that all human beings, except the devils, must understand his logic.
What you may not realize is that the methods he has applied to Iraq he applies also in the US. The 48%(not 4 out of 5)of American citizens who voted against him and his war, the 'US insurgency', are just irrelevant fools. Over here, the GOP 'rump' is shutting out the Democrats completely and there is not a hope of slowing him down in the next two years before the 2006
election. Right now it is Iraq versus Bush & Co. Sorry we are just too weak right now to help. God help America! To hell with Bush the Tyrant!
 
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I agree with much of your logic pointing to the desirability of having the occupation of Iraq run by an international authority whose legitimacy, impartiality, and goodwill towards Iraq were all recognized by the Iraqi public. I think that the only entity that MIGHT have enough legitimacy, despite the embargo and the Oil-for-Food scandal, is the UN, so I agree with you that far.

My fundamental objection is that the UN quit Iraq under fire, when Sergio Mielo and others were blown up. Secretary General Annan has repeatedly said that the UN is willing to return to Iraq and expand its role only if security is first established. Since the problem includes insecurity, no solution that requires security as a prerequisite can logically work.

Perhaps you will suggest that your council of wise men is small and could easily be protected in Baghdad. That still supposes that the UN would agree, but suppose, for the sake of the argument, that that were to happen. In that case, it could have little effect on Iraq. No small group of UN wise men can effectively control the interactions between the US Army and Marine Corps, the other Coalition military forces, and the Iraqi security forces on the one hand and the Iraqi population on the other in such a way as to dissipate the negative effects that you attribute to their operations. The US troops are, for good or ill, going to behave more or less like....US troops. Their very presence is the source of much Iraqi nationalist and religious opposition and resistance. The only solution is large numbers of UN personnel all over Iraq. Perhaps the number could be kept as low as 50,000 or so, if Iraqis could see that every three or four Coalition soldiers or Iraqi policement were accompanied by a UN person and that the UN person were the one in charge.

Another objection is that the UN cannot come up with 50,000 security forces, apart from the US, especially not since they are going to be in real danger.

As far as legitimacy goes, someone bombed the UN building in the first place. Zarkawi and the professional Islamic terrorists and jihadis may not be representative of Iraqi public opinion, but they will not go away quietly. It will take affirmative government action and a withdrawal of Iraqi support to eliminate this activity.

Lakhdar Brahimi of the UN is the one who brokered the restoration of sovereignty to Iraq and the replacement of the IGC. That should be another exemplary model of the type of process that you have in mind. The actual product of his work, however, was the Interim Government, which you regard as a failure.

I agree with you that the more real power over the present and future of Iraq any proposal were to give to the UN, the more it would be ferociously opposed by many leaders of the Administration and by their friends outside, but around, the US government. This opposition also includes many in the conservative and neo-conservative movements in the US and is of long standing, at least among conservatives.

Central to your rejection of the current round of elections is the notion that whoever is elected under US supervision will turn out to be US cronies, just as you describe the Interim Government. Ayatollah Sistani, however, has consistently refused to meet any American, since the invasion. The Dawa and SCIRI parties have Islamic government in their programs. I have seen several articles arguing that they favor Islamic law, but not the Iranian model of the clergy controlling the executive and legislative branches of government. The US government does not want Islamic government in any form, and prefers secular government. Party list(s) associated with such Shia parties and groups are widely expected to win the election. That does not sound like cronyism to me.

Everyone is talking and writing about the effect of the elections on disgruntled Sunnis (and other Iraqis) and the insurgency. I think that the greatest positive effect of the election may be on the Iraqi Government and on the part of the Iraqi public that supports the current political development in Iraq or, at least, does not oppose it forcibly.

Michael in Framingham
 
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Hello Abu Khaleel,
Excellent blog delivered under battlefield conditions!
Really, you and all Iraqi bloggers are enduring horrendous inhuman conditions for which Bush, again, is ultimately responsible! (If Zarqawi rules Iraq then he is responsible!)I think it is about time for US bloggers to admit that things couldn't be much worse. I would like to assure you that this was not Bush's vision(he doesn't know what the word 'plan' means), however his occupation strategy has predictably managed to turn 50% of your country deadset against him( funny, same here in the US). He believes it is axiomatic that all human beings, except the devils, must understand his logic.
What you may not realize is that the methods he has applied to Iraq he applies also in the US. The 48%(not 4 out of 5)of American citizens who voted against him and his war, the 'US insurgency', are just irrelevant fools. Over here, the GOP 'rump' is shutting out the Democrats completely and there is not a hope of slowing him down in the next two years before the 2006
election. Right now it is Iraq versus Bush & Co. Sorry we are just too weak right now to help. God help America! To hell with Bush the Tyrant!
 
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http://www.memritv.org/Search.asp?ACT=S1

A well known Zionist site, owned by ex-Mossad officials: confessions tailored by torture against Al-Jazeera and Zionist propaganda.

Indeed, a good site to whom see the world as a TV Cartoom...
 
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Alvaro,

I wasn't even considering the 'confessions.' What I found interesting were the actual arab TV shows and news broadcasts that they translated. Are those real? Or a mossad fantasy? Did you take your meds today?

Regarding the confessions, I have no way of knowing if they were provided under duress or not, or if they were telling the truth. The people didn't look to abused. They were quite forthcoming with information, and they were certainly not reading from a script.

I found the young fellow quite compelling. I think he was saudi. Just a young kid who got sucked up in all the jihad against america BS, and came over to find that the insurgency was just killing civilians...

I don't think anything they said was a surprise to anyone.

People in ME please advise - are those real programs/news/commentary that are presented on mainstream TV???!!!???
 
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Memri is a well known Israeli connected website. They use a subtle form of anti Arab disinformation by translating selective articles and TV shows from Arab countries and portraying them as main stream. They tend to be interested only in extremist views. If memory serves right, they opened an office in Baghdad just after the war. They managed to hire a few Iraqi translators and it was rumored they were using the same hotel which the CIA took over for its Iraq HQ. Not sure if they are still there as the fact they were Israeli became public knowledge not long after.

Aljazeera debate shows are fun to watch. Someone once described them as an Arab's answer to Jerry Springer.
 
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Thanks for MEMRI clarification.

But it was still disturbing. There were a lot of news programs, religious sermons, etc., that were just twisted. The series about the blue eyed girl and grandpa and the sadistic isrealis was just mad. Is that particular show popular?

I thought the Iraqi campaign commercials were interesting.

Are there any other sites that do translations of arab tv?
 
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I am not aware of any other resource that translates TV programs.

Scary when someone decides God is on their side and they can do and say whatever they like.. aint it?
 
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On MEMRI –

Take a look at what Juan Cole says about MEMRI here:

http://www.juancole.com/2004/11/bloggers-respond-weblogging-community.html

This is a compilation of many opinions on the ‘worth’ of that particular ‘news’ source. It’s like me taking neo conservative opinions and far right opinions as representative of American society as a whole and broadcasting this to the world.


And, related to who is responsible for many of the car bombings in Iraq, is this article (assuming that it is not something cooked up) :
al-Qaida Official Admits to U.N. Assault
By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Writer ; 24 Jan 2005
“ BAGHDAD, Iraq - An al-Qaida lieutenant in custody in Iraq (news - web sites) has confessed to masterminding most of the car bombings in Baghdad, including the bloody 2003 assault on the U.N. headquarters in the capital, authorities said Monday.
Sami Mohammed Ali Said al-Jaaf, also known as Abu Omar al-Kurdi, "confessed to building approximately 75 percent of the car bombs used in attacks in Baghdad" since the Iraq war began, according to the interim Iraqi prime minister's spokesman, Thaer al-Naqib.
A government statement said Al-Jaaf was taken into custody Jan. 15 and was responsible for 32 car bombings, including the bombing of the U.N. headquarters that killed the top U.N. envoy in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and 21 other people.
The suspect, a top lieutenant of al-Qaida's Iraq leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, also built the car bomb used to attack a shrine in the Shiite holy city of Najaf that killed more than 85 people, including Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, in August 2003, the statement said. “

This would be in line with the theories that Al Qaeda would like a civil war in Iraq from whence it can strike at the Americans, who have themselves expressed a desire to confront Al Qaeda in Iraq.

I’m glad that Abu Khaleel’s weld is still holding.
 
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Things are becoming clearer.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?node=admin/registration/register&destination=register&nextstep=gather&application=reg30-politics&applicationURL=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A33540-2005Jan24.html

The U.S. Army expects to keep its troop strength in Iraq at the current level of about 120,000 for at least two more years, according to the Army's top operations officer.

While allowing for the possibility that the levels could decrease or increase depending on security conditions and other factors, Lt. Gen. James J. Lovelace Jr. told reporters yesterday that the assumption of little change through 2006 represents "the most probable case."

Recent disclosures that the Pentagon plans to beef up training of Iraqi security forces and press them into action more quickly has fueled speculation that the Bush administration could be preparing to reduce the number of U.S. troops significantly this year. As more Iraqi troops join the fight, the thinking goes, U.S. troops could begin to withdraw.

But Lovelace's remarks indicated that the Army is not yet counting on any such reduction. Indeed, the general said, the Army expects to continue rotating active-duty units in and out of Iraq in year-long deployments and is looking for ways to dip even deeper into reserve forces -- even as leaders of the reserves have warned that the Pentagon could be running out of such units.

"We're making the assumption that the level of effort is going to continue," Lovelace said.

In a related development, Senate and House aides said yesterday that the White House will announce today plans to request an additional $80 billion to finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That would come on top of $25 billion already appropriated for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. White House budget spokesman Chad Kolton declined to comment
.

No mention of the fact that theoretically the Iraqis can ask the Americans to leave on February 1 and have indicated that they want the Americans out as soon as possible.

Either the fix is on, and the results will bear no relation to how people actually vote, or Sistani is turning out to be a huge disappointment.

This may be really bad news for Iraq. Before I was hoping for a 50/50 chance of avoiding civil war, now things have gotten much worse.

I was hoping against hope. I really understood all along that the Americans could not expose themselves to an election they could lose, that they could cheat and that they probably would cheat.

It's still sad to see US-style Middle East "democracy promotion".
 
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This and the last anon post are by Mr. Democracy.

It’s like me taking neo conservative opinions and far right opinions as representative of American society as a whole and broadcasting this to the world.

It's a little worse than that because the Arabs are actively engaged with Israel and there is a huge Arab speaking population in a lot of countries.

It's more like you taking the most racist depictions of Japanese from all of the thousands of newspapers and radio shows in the United States people during the run-up to the Pacific War, or even the most racist depictions of Arabs from all of the thousands of US newspapers during the run-up to the first gulf war - then translating them to another language always choosing most racist possible translation, even if that isn't really a plausible representation of what is meant.
 
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@ anon mr dem

"Things are becoming clearer. The U.S. Army expects to keep its troop strength in Iraq at the current level of about 120,000 for at least two more years, according to the Army's top operations officer."

I hate to break it to you but this is absolutely consistent with US policy, and stated Iraqi policy, and in no way contradicts a possible draw down or disengagement if circumstances permit.

Did you really think that the US - or anyone - expects peace and stability to break out in the middle of a monumentous transfer of power in the context of a domestic power vacuum?

It would be great if the terrorists/insurgents/resistence etc. were to just lay down their arms and accept the new government as legitimate. But since many of them are violently opposed to even the concept of democracy, this is unlikely.

One thing that I find absurd about the 'insurgents' (I mean the real freedom fighters), is the fact that they attack Iraqi security/police forces. They can't really expect people to believe that it would be wise for Iraq NOT to have security forces?!? Isn't one of their complaints lack of security (and yet they attack the security forces).

I know the muddle makes things look confusing (and there are very dedicated groups trying to promote the muddle), and noble rhetoric is attractive during times of instability, but obvious facts cannot be denied. Iraq must have security forces under any government.

I would like the Iraqi leaders - and the US military over there - to have some sort of press conference. LEt the Iraqi parties admit that they want US to leave ASAP (do Iraqi's really think that anyone wants the US forces to occupy Iraq?) - let the US admit that they want to leave ASAP. But they should make the conditions clear. 'Soon' doesn't necessarily mean tomorrow, and 'possible' means when Iraqi security forces are able to provide security (Duh????). In the absence of a reliable security structure, both US/Iraqi's agree that US cannot leave - and that US won't leave. I think this has already been done, but it doesn't hurt to say it again and again. Why would the freedom fighters want the US to leave before Iraq can defend itself? Well, maybe they want power for themselves. Their illusionary argument that the Iraqi government is illegal will disappear once the Iraqi's are allowed to vote. Maybe this is why they don't want elections? Think man. Think!

"No mention of the fact that theoretically the Iraqis can ask the Americans to leave on February 1 and have indicated that they want the Americans out as soon as possible."

As per above, it is absolutely impossible for the US to leave now if the mission of securing a stable Iraqi democracy is to be achieved. You can even leave out the 'democracy' part. It is not possible for US to leave if the mission is to establish a stable Iraqi government.

"Either the fix is on, and the results will bear no relation to how people actually vote, or Sistani is turning out to be a huge disappointment."

I can't figure out how this news is surprising to you? What alternative is there? How does this imply the vote is rigged? Put your feet on the ground and think.

"This may be really bad news for Iraq. Before I was hoping for a 50/50 chance of avoiding civil war, now things have gotten much worse."

If the US just unilaterally pulled out, isn't it more likely that there would be a civil war? And what makes you think there is not a civil war underway right now? If there are thousands of insurgents fighting the government, that sounds like civil war to me. It certainly has not reached the level of all sunnis against all shia - etc. Maybe the Iraqi's need to stop pretending and understand that this is WAR. The shia will retain power in the government - hopefully (and by all indications), a conciliatory and reasonable government, and the die hard wannabees will have to be defeated.

"I was hoping against hope. I really understood all along that the Americans could not expose themselves to an election they could lose, that they could cheat and that they probably would cheat."

How does your statement relate to the article you posted? There are no contradictions here. US is just planning based upon expected contingencies and outcomes. Wouldn't you accuse them of being stupid if they didn't?

Connect the dots please.

"It’s like me taking neo conservative opinions and far right opinions as representative of American society as a whole and broadcasting this to the world."

Maybe. I mean - your rhetoric is solid. Are there any sites that translate 'reasonable' arab news? The stuff on memri looks very similar to aljazeera and I thought aljazeera was mainstream.

The 'west' certainly has much in the media decrying extremist fundamentalists, but that is quite different from mainstream news blathering conspiracy theories about "zionist crusaders" etc.

Or to you its the same? There are no differences? Differences in culture negate the moral value of their propositions?

"It's more like you taking the most racist depictions of Japanese from all of the thousands of newspapers and radio shows in the United States people during the run-up to the Pacific War, or even the most racist depictions of Arabs from all of the thousands of US newspapers during the run-up to the first gulf war - then translating them to another language always choosing most racist possible translation, even if that isn't really a plausible representation of what is meant."

Hmmmm. Maybe. So you are saying that the mainstream arab media and culture for decades have been fomenting war and racism as a regular practice?

Show me something comperable in the mainstream west...
 
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Gone quiet again, so a bit of stirring from Circular seems in order, perhaps some questions for Abu’s next post.
Abu’s recent article about kidnapping in "A Glimpse of Iraq" ties in neatly with Dahr Jamail’s latest (in http://dahrjamailiraq.com/hard_news/) in illustrating what an unholy mess the whole ludicrous enterprise has become.
The elections remind one irresistibly of childhood games of hide-and-seek: "Coming ready or not!"
According to the BBC, a final voting result could take a couple of weeks, then the Assembly has to be Assembled somewhere safe to elect a President and two V.P.’s. Should take a few more weeks. Then they (the P and VPs) have to choose a Prime Minister (and a Cabinet?) Few more weeks - with presumably endless wheeling and dealing going on all the time, and any decisions having to be approved by Negroponte. So it could be up to two months before a Government emerges.
Meanwhile I guess the Allawi Administration remains in place, what’s left of it: one Minister resigning in a huff just because US troops handcuffed him at the Green Zone gates (talk about touchy) and another sending $300 million in used greenbacks to Jordan. And the insurgents keep on insurging, the criminals keep on criming, the Marines keep blasting anything that moves. If you put it in a novel, you’d never get it published.
Anyway, a question: I only know the Westminister parliamentary system, where the Head of State, usually a monarch, has a basically symbolic function, and executive power rests with the Prime Minister and Cabinet. (The US system, I gather, combines both roles, Head of State and Executive, in the one office: hence all the Inauguration and "Hail to the Chief" nonsense. The present incumbent seems to have also appointed himself God’s Messenger and World Sheriff: sounds like a lot of work for a former playboy and reformed drunk, but he seems happy enough. Maybe I should try laying off the sauce!)
What happens in systems (France?) where you have a elected President and Prime Minister? Which one has the real power? What are we meant to get excited about in Iraq - who gets elected President by the Assembly, or who he selects as PM?
Or is it wiser not to get too excited about anything?
According to some reports Allawi is a front-runner for whatever is the top job. So it’s a bit disheartening to see some Iraqis approving of him as a "strong" leader at the same time as we read about his Security forces using torture techniques just like in the good old Saddam days. (Probably the same guys.) The elections are meant to be "turning the corner," but we’ve turned several corners already, just like in Vietnam. If you turn too many corners, don’t you end up back where you started, with a corrupt authoritarian regime at the heart of the Middle East?
Yippee!
 
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Charles –

“LEt the Iraqi parties admit that they want US to leave ASAP (do Iraqi's really think that anyone wants the US forces to occupy Iraq?) - let the US admit that they want to leave ASAP.”

Ummm …. No.

I refer you to :

From "Rebuilding America's Defences", September 2000, Page 17

"From an American perspective, the value of such [Iraqi – my note] 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."


I refer you to:

Amid Talk of Withdrawal, Pentagon Is Taking Steps For Longer Stay in Iraq
BY ELI LAKE - Staff Reporter of the Sun - January 14, 2005

“As the Bush administration drops hints about withdrawing troops from Iraq as early as this year, the Pentagon is building a permanent military communications system that suggests American soldiers will be in Iraq for the foreseeable future.
The new network, known as Central Iraq Microwave System, will eventually consist of up to 12 communications towers throughout Iraq and fiber-optic cables connecting Camp Victory, located outside of Baghdad, to other coalition bases in the country, according to three sources familiar with the project. The land-based system will replace the tactical communications network the Army and Marines have been using in Iraq. That network relied primarily on satellites and is much easier to dismantle.”

[Of course current US govt sources deny the permanency of the installations. Others have a different opinion …]

“"I believe this terrestrial microwave system going in, whose final target is Afghanistan, together with such recent signals as a new military relationship between the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates, are further indications of the long-term implementation of the Bush vision to bring democracy to the Middle East," a former CIA officer and founder of the CIA's counterterrorism center, Duane Clarridge, said in an interview.
Mr. Clarridge, who has spent four months in Iraq in the last year and is the former chief of Arab operations for the CIA's clandestine service, added, "People should get realistic and think in terms of our presence being in Iraq for a generation or until democratic stability in the region is reached." ”

I refer you to:

14 `enduring bases' set in Iraq - Long-term military presence planned
By Christine Spolar - Chicago Tribune March 23, 2004

” Now U.S. engineers are focusing on constructing 14 "enduring bases," long-term encampments for the thousands of American troops expected to serve in Iraq for at least two years. The bases also would be key outposts for Bush administration policy advisers.
As the U.S. scales back its military presence in Saudi Arabia, Iraq provides an option for an administration eager to maintain a robust military presence in the Middle East and intent on a muscular approach to seeding democracy in the region. The number of U.S. military personnel in Iraq, between 105,000 and 110,000, is expected to remain unchanged through 2006, according to military planners.
"Is this a swap for the Saudi bases?" asked Army Brig. Gen. Robert Pollman, chief engineer for base construction in Iraq. "I don't know. ... When we talk about enduring bases here, we're talking about the present operation, not in terms of America's global strategic base. But this makes sense. It makes a lot of logical sense."
Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy chief of operations for the coalition in Iraq, said the military engineers are trying to prepare for any eventuality.
"This is a blueprint for how we could operate in the Middle East," Kimmitt said. "[But] the engineering vision is well ahead of the policy vision. What the engineers are saying now is: Let's not be behind the policy decision. Let's make this place ready so we can address policy options." “

I’m afraid, Charles, that what your leaders postulated doing in 2000, (were they in power) they are currently executing as policy. The facts bear this out. And, of course, if this is true, then we must ask ourselves *why* are they preparing for a long haul if these fully transparent and completely democratic elections might well yield up a government that will ask them to leave? Because … they already know the results? Think, man, think.
“US is just planning based upon expected contingencies and outcomes. Wouldn't you accuse them of being stupid if they didn't?”
I personally find it weird the way in which the US was so stupid to completely botch practically every aspect of the post invasion management of Iraq, yet is so forward – thinking when it comes to planning for their own long term occupation bases and comforts. The criticism levelled at the Bush administration of having no “exit strategy” from Iraq is moot - because they precisely did not plan on leaving Iraq.
 
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@ Bruno

The President and the administration have agreed that the coalition presence in Iraq is subject to the approval of the interim government, and any duly elected democratic government.

"I refer you to :"

The President's commitment.

You might at least consider that, in addition to an ideological white paper written by some members of the administration.

"I’m afraid, Charles, that what your leaders postulated doing in 2000, (were they in power) they are currently executing as policy. The facts bear this out.

You might want to consider the history of the previous decade as well. And the well recorded testimonies and commentary of experts, congress, state department, white house, etc., officials regarding Saddam Hussein.

I would STRONGLY recommend that you read Scott Ritters testimony before Senate committee back in 1998. It's a real eye opener. What I don't get is how Ritter reversed his entire position. He met with committee within some days of his resignation from inspection team. Several years later, as an outsider, he reversed himself. His comments, as well as those of the Dem/Rep Senators, are VERY interesting.

The Senate held Ritter in the highest respect, and when he said that: US did not need further approvals to enforce disarmament, Saddam was lying and retained WMD potential, Saddam was a threat, the UNSC was fatally flawed, air strikes would never resolve problem, and that Saddam was the problem, etc., they believed him.

He was the guy who had been on the ground in Iraq for 7.5 years dealing daily with Saddam's regime.

Google:
Testimony of Scott Ritter, former UNSCOM Inspector
before the U.S. Senate
September 3, 1998

Check out Clinton's speech when he bombed Iraq in late '90's.

My point is simply that the issues and opinions of previous administration and experts do not differ from the position of the President regarding Iraq. The issues are the same. The policy framework is the same. The rhetoric is the same. Our actions do not stem from some think tank policy paper, but rather from a decade plus of real experience and conflict with Saddam Hussein.

PS - Maybe history will show that Ritter's testimony was one of the foundations of the overthrow of Saddam. Ritter loves attention, and maybe he was feeling guilty later about causing a war...
 
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Charles --

“The President and the administration have agreed that the coalition presence in Iraq is subject to the approval of the interim government, and any duly elected democratic government.

"I refer you to :"

The President's commitment.”


Hey, do you mind if I read the fine print on the contract please?

Hmmh.

It says over here that as long as Iraq is ‘not stable’ US forces will have to remain, despite the fact that the US government knows that their presence is actually provoking resistance. And naturally, as per the UN Resolutions, I imagine that the US will decide for itself what the word ‘stable’ means and whether a continued Al Qaeda regional threat would necessitate a prolonged troop presence there. I see furthermore that certain CIA agents are being paid and sponsored to gain power in order to facilitate the permanence of the deployment. Translation: “the Presidents commitment” is worth pig-shit to me. I’ll judge by deeds, not words, as will the Iraqis.

Quite frankly, I don’t care what Ritter did or did not say. It has no bearing on the fact that the US intends on keeping troops in Iraq for many years to come, and that they are laying out the physical framework and rhetoric to facilitate that. I’m not a Clinton fan FYI, but if I knew what the alternative was (Bush) I would have been lighting candles for him at night or something.

The US per se is naturally at odds with much of the rest of the world through its regular behaviour. Well, I don’t expect that to change, and even have a certain sympathy for the fact that certain situations (Iraq) were hard to deal with and that once a country reaches a certain level of power any decisions made will cause discontent in one or another party because of the ripple effect of them.

However, the US policy towards Iraq has to my mind always been cynical and quite frankly more than a little sick (using Hussein when he suited you, dumping him when he didn’t; manipulating sanctions to strangle Iraq to death etc.) … however, the new bunch in power have far grander designs in mind, and far more callous methods to achieve them - that is the source of my particular antipathy to them.
 
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Democracy options:

Option one: VOTE
Option two: Go and not vote
Option three: Don't go don't vote

Option tree presents a dilemma if the reason for not voting is because of intimination for any reason. This is a reflection on the society that is conducting the election. Only the indivdual is able to judge wheather intimination is the reason for not voting, thus condemming their children's future and increasing the odds that by the age of majority their children will either face the same intimination, but in either case one more generation must endure the pain of choosing peace over violence.
It is easy for me to sit in a secure country and pontificate to others. I have this right becasue of an indiscriminate act of vilence perpertrated on my society on September 11, 2001. I will vote in my country to support any administration who proposes to take the fight to terrorists in their society as long as I can vote. This is my right in a democratic society.
In my society we have glaring flaws but when the majority have the right to speak through the vote and they choose one of the above three options I am confident I can live with the outcome no matter how distasteful it may be to me personnally. I always have the next election where I can work within the system to try to convince my fellow citizens of the virtues of my position.
Being able to influence the majority guarantees my society will remain secure, therefore access to prosperity for all who choose to conform to the rule sets of my society. My children benefit and can pursue what ever course they choose and I know by my actions in my life that I will pass this gift on to them as have my parents and their generation to me.
 
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Dear Khalil,

just discovered 'blogging' last night and found myself on yours. Originally from a link in the Guardian about Baghdad Girl, the 13-year old. What ordinary good heart - the most noble thing of all - displayed in hers and Rose's blogs. Now yours. Much more 'masculine' and policy-oriented! ( That was not a criticism..)

Feedback to your Plan B: apart from agreeing with you that it is impractical because the US won't go along, I nevertheless offer feedback on one specific point:

6. Place the Multi-national forces now in Iraq as well as the Iraqi army, police, etc. under the political authority of the ICI.

The multinational force is 90% US, no? They will not let anyone else assume control. Even if your Plan were to happen, US generals (and the US administration) would call the shots. Nothing would change and the UN would be further compromised. The reason the UN is no good is because it is improperly structured with too much emphasis on the Allied Powers from WWII. Why is France on the Security Council? No reason except to give them some dignity after their defeat, and they were on the side against the Axis.

A proper Security Council would include Japan, Malaysia, Brazil etc. etc. etc.

My suggestion to you regarding Point 6 is convoluted but I try to keep it short: Empires strategically rule over colonies, tactically either by legal possession, or military, economic or other coercion. The IMF is a great branch of Western Capitalist Imperialism (WCI) let us call it. The way they maintain control, by whatever such tactics, is to 'divide and rule'. They get the smaller ones to fight over what slice of the larger pie they can get. This happens within countries in terms of provinces, counties etc. as well as inter-nationally within cultural or geographic regions.

I think the big problem in the Middle East is the lack of unity between the various countries there, many of which are ad-hoc creations set up by Italian, French, British and then American WCI-ists. It is time for 'Arabia', including perhaps also non-Arab Iran and suchlike, to unite into a federation similar to USA, EU, China. Similar in fact to what France, Germany and Italy did in recent centuries. With this, they can develop universal legislation and also develop common military and diplomatic means with which to address both internal and external challenges.

Until that happens, I see no underlying hope for the situation. The process of doing this is also unlikely and challenging (as getting the US to relinquish control as you mentioned in your Plan), but I suspect that it is in fact much more feasible.

The 'compromise' that you would need to effect this is a guarantee that Israel has the right to exist in its 1967 borders or somesuch. This UAS (United Arab States) would doubtless develop nuclear weapons to achieve balance vs. Israel so that the MAD factor can come into play.

If such an organization existed (which of course it doesn't) then the force that would go in to implement your Plan B would be composed of military personnel from every country in the region plus other contributing nations who agree to serve under a UN commander who comes from that region and is the Supreme Commander of the UAS forces.

My idea is no less unlikely than yours, of course, but I think that if it could by some miracle happen, then we would have seen a very creative, positive outcome for all of this. There is no reason for the UAS to be non-Muslim, or even established according to the Koran, but in general it is good to keep the church separate from the state because otherwise the church - of whatever faith - tends to become corrupted. That's another discussion.

Thanks for your excellent blog. I am sure I will be returning many times, though hopefully not saying quite so much!

My blog:
http://samsara-nirvana.blogspot.com/
 
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Abu Khaleel?

Are you ok? Did the trolls bring you down?

How do you feel about election?

What can we expect now? Another week before final results - then what is the schedule of events? When is the new freely elected Iraqi government supposed to take power?

This is strange - isn't it? Uncharted territory.

I wouldn't expect any radical changes whoever wins. Iraq has had enough 'radicalism' - no? Opposition parties have a way of quieting down once they become responsible for running a country. That's usually how things work anyway.

What plan letter are we on now? F?

Plan F:

1. New Assembly formed;
2. Assembly chooses government;
3. Interim gov't transfers authority to new government - peacefully - with a bit of pomp and circumstance for the sake of Iraqi pride and nationalism (Iraqis really have something to be proud about this time).
4. New government negotiates with US on security plans/goals/expectations. Hopefully this will involve replacing US troops in tactical security ops. US troops focus on training - both formal training on bases, plus advisors working directly with ING at tactical level. US troops maintain mobile 'ready reserve' at key locations throughout country (but not in cities) to be able to respond if things get hairy, or if there are medium/large scale ops that Government decides are necessary (HOPEFULLY NOT!). US could also focus more on 'external' security issues.
5. As security capabilities matures, and situation stabilizes, Government makes request for US/coalition to begin staged withdrawal. Is it possible that we could reach #5 by 12/31/2005?
6. If things go smoothly (no serious/organized threats to government), coalition troops leave Iraq by 12/31/2006.

New government could of course set timeline immediately, but that would be a little too arbitrary considering that security situation still fluid. It would be unfortunate if the timeline had to keep changing.

Best regards,

Abu Katya
 
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Charles,

I am fine. Thank you for your concern. I didn't have access to the internet yesterday. I have just posted my feelings about the elections. I certainly hope that differences move into a less violent plane.

That was quite an onslaught by the trolls, wasn't it? Baathist, Saddamist, idiot, coward? I think I'll leave those comments there for a while! The decent people I hope I am addressing can easily see through those fanatic cheer-leaders! Abuse and lack of argument usually speak for themselves!
 
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No election is conducted perfectly. It took the United States 13 years after independance to develop a constitution and a central fedral government. The United Provinces of Central America attempt to unite as a single republic of provinces of Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Costa Rica failed in the 1840's, yet even today the five countries still consider themselves as part of a whole - the leaders of the respective countries consider themselves the governors of a greater state not yet fully realized with a common identidy card.

How and when Iraqis unite and what form of government they choose is their choice. I am very confident that given time Iraqis will work out their differences and surprise the United States and Europe how quickly they collectively grasp elective, democratic government. Twenty years ago no one thought that El Salvador and Nicaragua would evolve slowly into relatively peaceful democracies despite the great internal differences between political parties.
 
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Great thread, but it seems that much of this is dedicated to the reasons why the US should leave Iraq. Others have expressed that there is a general consensus among the Iraqi population that the US is in Iraq to plunder its vast oil reserves.

Is it possible that the United States shouldn't leave Iraq until an elected government is strong enough to maintain law and order? Isn't it possible, also, that insurgents and radical elements are in Iraq to eventually gain control of the oil? What would be the consequneces of the insurgents' victory? What would the insurgents do with their new found oil wealth?

What would this mean to international security?

The answers to these questions has led me to the conclusion that the United States must stay in Iraq. I believe that Saddam Hussein was encouraged by Al-Qaeda's success on 9/11, and that the evidence shows that he wanted to achieve similar successes on his own. Perhaps the US did create a greater security concern by overthrowing Saddam, but that will only be viewed as a mistake in hindsight if the US leaves Iraq in the hands of the insurgent.

I hope you will consider these questions for yourself. I don't expect that you will necessarily arrive at the same conclusions that I have, however, I think that it is clear that US interests line up nicely with a strong new Iraqi government that can control the insurgents on its own.

Only then does it make sense to leave Iraq, or our defeat will not be measured by how fast we withdraw our forces, but rather in the civilian body count on our own soil for generations to come.

Also consider the price that Iraqis themselves will pay should we leave them completely vulnerable to the nightmare of a fundamentalist government. As it stands now, they are vulnerable enough as it is.
 
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I don't think normal civilised approaches will work. I reckon we need to imprison the closest relative of every suicide bomber in their place - maybe that will give them cause to think about their actions.
 
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i've written president bush today an email (sounds funny), with my idea of getting the iraq-conflict solved:

Dear Mr. President

I know that I am no citizen of the USA, and therefor i've not much to do with this stuff, and excuse my bad english, but i have an idea to share with you.

I heard you president Bush want to increase the number of soldiers in Iraq, and you also admit that you have the responsibility for this kind of desaster. But this is not enough.

In fact, you need to give the people of iraq hope, based on a fair plan for their homeland iraq. On a plan EVERBODY could follow.

So the rambo-tactic didn't work, you have to change in other directions. I know my plan won't sound good for people, who wanna make fast cheap money over peoples heads. You certainly agree to me, that this shouldn't be the right attitude towards this people.

Therefore we need a plan, which is fair, and the people can see the end of the occupation, and they can do something to make their life better. And this is something we should definitely want.

My plan is called share-to-peace. It's abstractly spoken, that everybody can work and own a part of the peace in iraq.

USA says when the Iraq is a stable nation, they will leave this country. So we have to begin in small parts not with the whole thing, understand? I think your troops work on it, in a similar way but it's quite different what i mean.

Think of the idea, everybody owns the peace for working on it. And to get the people doing this, you have to share something with them, in a fair way, so that they won't feel defrauded.

The war is often called: "war for oil."

Do you know some facts of the internal policy of norwegia? What I've understand is that:
_Everybody has an account there made of the state, where they get a SHARE of the oil-richness of norwegia_

Don't misunderstand me, I don't want that USA immediately opens accounts for every iraqi, and give them their share. Unfortunately i don't know the oil-industry-structures there, but i think, my plan might be first steps to solve this conflict.

_I don't want to give everyone accounts but them ones, which behave cooperative and peacefully, them ones which support their land become a democratic state and which fight the terror_

It's all very well to say that.

But please listen to my plan:

It's a programm. A programm for the iraqis. And representitives of the iraqis can register to it. e.g. a mayor of a small town in iraq can register his town, or a person in charge for a part of baghdad can do it.

This was the first step, and if they are registered. They have several obligations to fullfil.

This obligations have to aim that the civilians of the region become peacefully, and support the building up of the iraqi-country.

This must also be strictly controlled, i know, and this is not easy. And there is the danger of people who shotchange this programm for their bad plans. Yes it's just an idea, but i think a good one.

So imagine this color-sheme: The red ones on the map, are them who don't agree to these programm. Red means kind of war-territory. The orange ones are the ones, which registered to the programm but they are still in testing-state.

So testing state means if they violate any of this obligations before the expiration of the testing-time, they get back to the war-zone.

BUT if they manage to get through a certain time without violating this. They become YELLOW, this means that now for EVERYONE who has lived under this obligations in this region, there will be an account opened, where there will be a share accounted of the oil-sale. But in this state, they can just watch how big it grows, because they have no access to it.

After another expiration of time and fullfilling other, let's say harder conditions they will get access to it, and their Region becomes WHITE, that should mean, it's pacified.

If their doesn't fullfill the obligations or violate them, they can either stay in their state, or jump down.

See what i mean: Instead of "War for Oil" there comes a new slogan: "Peace with Oil".

And the USA can really make real drawback-conditions like:

If the iraq is 90% in white state, we will drawback.

Sure, the moneymakers will say, that this is lost money. But i say a stable iraq is much more worth, than some cheap money. And everybody understands that the oil-price is a cent higher or so.
The people get their shares and there is "no blood for oil" anymore, but "good life with oil"

I know a lot of people are hippocrits in europe to the war in iraq, i think to be critical means, to get a solution for it. Excuse my very bad english.

sincerly
someone who wants to end this blood-bath

PS: Please think of this idea.
 
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