Monday, January 10, 2005

 

A Year of Neocon Rule


Following my previous arguments, I can only characterize the period between April 2003 and April 2004 as “Neocon Rule”.

During that year, they had the field almost totally to themselves. It was when all those ’mistakes’ were made. They definitely also had ultimate control of the US army, which – wittingly or unwittingly - took part in those mistakes.

One of the many astonishing features characterizing that year was the appointment of young inexperienced people to run a country the size California. Examples:

 Simone Ledeen, daughter of Michael Ledeen, the Iran-Contra luminary, AEI scholar, and neocon strategist. She was 29, a freshly-minted M.B.A., with little to no experience in war-torn countries. But as an advisor for northern Iraq at the Ministry of Finance in Baghdad, she was, in essence, helping shape one quarter of that nation's economy.

 Jay Hallen, a twenty-four-year-old who had applied for a job at the White House, was put in charge of launching Baghdad’s new stock exchange.

 Scott Erwin, a twenty-one-year-old former intern to Dick Cheney, reported in an email home that “I am assisting Iraqis in the management of finances and budgeting for the domestic security forces.” The college senior’s favorite job before this one? “My time as an ice-cream truck driver.”

These are just a few examples. If you look more closely, the picture is actually even more frightening. I can understand about political appointees and all that, but to me this looks ridiculous. They were either green fools or they didn’t want it to work. Whether these people who initiated those theories are evil or idiots can be debated indefinitely.

In either case, they bear much of the blame for what happened.

Anyway, neocon theory failed in practice. It failed miserably because it is based on some “naïve” (not to say evil) assumptions about human nature and how people behave under extreme stress. People simply did not behave as those neocons predicted [why Iraqis did not is a long story in a country that was continuously habituated for more than 6000 years, the last stretch of foreign occupation alone lasting more than three times the entire history of the United States.] One day, decent Americans and the people of the world will come to appreciate and admire these people’s handling of the difficult times that they have been through due to those criminal policies… like I do now.

By April 2004 (with the failure of most of Bremer’s measures, the fiasco of the Iraq Governing Council, the outbreak of Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, the Fallujah-I massacre, the first Moqtada episode and the evident surge in “insurgency”) it was clear that the plan has failed. This must have been quite obvious to President Bush in April 2004. Elections were dangerously close by then. Hence,

 The hurried attempt to produce a new UN resolution where the administration made some painful compromises to other countries at the UN Security Council and tried to accommodate all members and even Sistani to produce resolution 1546 (which, by the way, I still think was a good resolution… later distorted in application).
 The dumping of Mr. Chalabi who was undoubtedly strongly backed by the neocons in the administration and his replacement by Mr. Allawi the CIA / State Department man.
 Replacing Paul Bremer by Negroponte
 Abandonment of attempts to privatize Iraqi industries em masse.

Apparently the State Department and/or the CIA were given the green light to take charge. Alas, it was far too late.



What is happening now, after the election, is a new chapter in US politics. We will have to wait a while before making a judgment. But the signs (Rice replacing Powel, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz staying on, Gonzales appointment, etc.) are not that good.

You know what? There is not much that you can do about that moving train fuelled by a “solid” public mandate for the next four years. May God help us all.

What is truly sad in all this is that there are many well-meaning Americans still talking about “Freedom and Democracy” for the Iraqi people.


Comments:

Today's pundits have defined Iraq as Lebanon circa '75-80 redux. I know I'm being willfully obtuse. While I see many of the same elements, a few are critically missing: a ragtag PLO army decamped from Jordan, the Israeli retaliatory campaign and Khomeini in his ascendancy. Could civil war in Lebanon have been avoided or was it a civil war that had been long deferred? It was interesting to read that Lebanon was at war with itself in 1958 - the same year as coup d'etat in a neighboring country.

You have sons, you must have grandsons (or some on the way.) Do you want us to stop talking about Freedom & Democracy in Iraq? Wouldn't that be sadder still.

The young twits assigned to the CPA were never going to part of the long term solution - they were just window dressing. The Baathists insurgency knows the real players - they're taking you down one by one.

They bound him hand and foot and they blindfolded him. They beat and they burned his flesh. Once they had finished torturing him, they strangled him with an electric cord. As a final touch, they riddled his body with bullets.
 
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"I know I'm being willfully obtuse."
Well certainly obscure, anyway. Try making your point in plain English, that us ordinary mortals can understand.
"You have sons, you must have grandsons (or some on the way.) Do you want us to stop talking about Freedom & Democracy in Iraq?"
I’m sure Abu would love you to keep talking about it. What he and the rest of Iraq want is for you to stop trying to implement it the neo-con way. It just hasn’t worked, it isn’t going to work. Try reading what Abu is actually saying, not what you assume he is saying.
One of Riverbend’s earliest posts was, quoting from memory, about an Iraqi engineering firm she knew who, after the invasion, put in a tender to repair a damaged bridge. They cut costs to the bone and quoted $300,000 dollars. The contract went to an American firm, for many millions of dollars.
That was the neo-con way. Just as ignoring the local leadership from the start, and using too few troops for an occupation, and mis-using the ones they did have, and always being behind the play, reacting belatedly to events rather being proactive were all the neo-con way. The arrogant, unrealistic neo-con way.
And I’ll bet that bridge is still damaged.
Circular
 
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Ok, I think the use of the word "neocon" is getting thrown around here to the point of losing it's meaning.

Circular, spending a lot of money on a construction project in order to line the pockets of friends is not specifically about being a "neocon" it's about being corrupt. And there are plenty of those folks in every country. There are corupt liberals too, and they cut insane deals to make their friends rich just like most of the rich people on the planet. the whole Neocon discussion here is becoming a charicature of itself. Silly.

And again The writing style and topics of this blog just don't sound like the other Iraqi bloggers I read. To be honest Abu reads more like Circular or Bruno than any of the other Iraqi bloggers.

What's your story Abu? What's going on down your street today? Forget the neocons, who are your neighbors?
 
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Wake up. Iraq is your country. Don't blame a few hundred American CPA employees--they were assisting ministries with with tens of thousands of employees. For example, the senior advisor to Iraq's oil ministry was a former CEO of Shell Oil Cmopany. He had about 12 Americans on his staff alongside about 200,000 Iraqis. What got done or did not get done WAS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF IRAQIS -- not Americans.
You seem to be falling to that common pattern I've seen where you don't take responsibility for your own actions.
Pretty soon we will be gone and I predict you guys won't be able to manager your affairs worth a shit. That's because your culture is broken and until you and your friends figure it out, it will remain broken. Corruption, tribalism, extremism, inequality of gender and race and religion, meshing of state and religion. They doom you to a failed future.
George Bush thought he could fix Iraq. That was a mistake.
I am hoping you guys will elect a government on January 30 that will formally request the US forces to leave your soil. Then we can be gone and you will have pissed away the only chance you guys have had for a decent future.
 
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Hello Abu Khaleel,
It seems unlikely that 'interns' also known as 'errand-boys' were actually directing the occupation. Rather rightist US thinktanks like the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, Hoover Institution, etc.(ivory tower academics) and various US public relations firms (Rendon) did the actual policy relaying their instructions by cell phone to their stooges. Part of the continuing problems is that this system is still running Iraq into the ground. These 'thinktanks' are not 'brain-trusts' but actually special cushy jobs for toadies like Ledeen and loyal Republican political operators. They have given the US occupation its highly distinctive 'odor'.
 
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Goodness Gracious -

America is inherently hostile to Iraq. Not just the Neocons. Not just George W. Bush. America is hostile to Iraq.

Madeleine Albright, secretary of state under Bill Clinton was told that 500,000 Iraqi's died because of the sanctions. She said - we think overall its worth it.

Imagine how undemocratic the Iraq would have to be to consistently produce leaders who side with the Israelis against the Palestinians. (By the way, that's what's coming)

Now understand that this is how undemocratic the US would have to be to tolerate a potentially hostile power that might emerge in the middle east and conceivably threaten Israel. It wouldn't matter if that nation was democratic or not.

The difference is that the US is not now occupied by a hostile foreign power and can actually elevate leaders who represent the views of its citizens. George W. Bush is one example. Bill Clinton, who was no friend of Iraq or of any Arabs was another.

I have to agree with the conservative guy that the you are putting too much emphasis on the Neo-Cons. No American who could be elected president will tolerate a stable, prosperous, independent Iraq.
 
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Dear Abu Khaleel:

About this quote:

They bound him hand and foot and they blindfolded him. They beat and they burned his flesh. Once they had finished torturing him, they strangled him with an electric cord. As a final touch, they riddled his body with bullets.

Read this, about Negropont tasks in Iraq:

From El Salvador To Iraq: Death Squads Come In Waves.

As I said, the only words Americans is capable to undertand is R.P.G, I.E.D, A.K.47, Grad, Ababil, K.I.A, W.I.A, and so on. No more, no less.

Sad, but true.

By the way, I think Iraquis are just taking their responsabilities when they send these words to the occupiers.
 
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"Willfully obtuse" anonymous above,

Your message has been received and fully understood (including the reference to the late Mr. Hadi Salih). Thank you for the warning.
 
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Circular,

If the above sounds too cryptic to you, remember Icarus. It is actually my fault. I have been a bit reckless and crossed a couple of red lines!
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Fathom,

I truly find it hard to respond to your many comments and insinuations. The simple reason is that all the answers to all your questions are all already there in these blogs. All you need is some intelligence, a pair of eyes and some time to read. But evidently you are more fond of writing than you are of reading. I can tell you what is going on hear, I can tell you what I feel, I can write things and anecdotes that only an Iraqi living here can write, I have even written a couple of blogs in Arabic to dispel some doubt... but I cannot work the miracle of making the blind see.
 
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Looks like you spoke too soon, Abu: the Saddamists haven’t gone, they’ve just metamorphosed into teenage Anonymouses making cryptic ambiguous offerings in fractured English.
Ho hum.
Fathom, my little nautical measurement, you also seem to be lapsing into ambiguity. Without going back over your previous posts, I am left again wondering where you stand. It’s quite simple: this war was a mistake, and has been lost. Or it wasn’t, and hasn’t. Care to enlighten me on your stance, instead of pointlessly speculating about my identity?
(And Bruno? He went on holiday weeks ago - I should have such holidays!)
If you read the entire Blog you would be left in no doubt that Abu is exactly who he says he is, a literate educated secular Iraqi citizen of moderate means and views, trying to communicate with the world objectively and rationally. And succeeding as far as I am concerned.
(Perhaps he is a bit obsessive about neo-cons at the moment, but he’s entitled to be - it’s his country that they are ruining. Have ruined. And in my view they are, in any case, the legitimate elected representatives of the USA, and therefore the voice and essence of it. God help us all.)
Like you, I would like to know what’s going on in his street. But it’s his Blog, he decides whether he’s a reporter or a commentator.
Circular
(Sent before Abu’s post above)
 
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Sorry Abu, you've lost me there.
George Bush as Icarus, flying too near to the sun? That seems a serious abuse of mythology.
Red lines I'm completely baffled about.
Circular
 
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Well, I’m back.


fathom –

Of course you are correct in stating that the ‘bridges’ story and many like it are more to do with endemic corruption than specifically neoconservatives. However, I also do note that many of the key neocon players have had strong links in the past with the companies now being paid to ‘reconstruct’ or ‘develop’ Iraq. This has to me has the flavour of the corruption that some criticize the Iraqi culture of inherently possessing. Merely another sick irony in this whole long saga …

Oh, and I read “To be honest Abu reads more like Circular or Bruno than any of the other Iraqi bloggers.” As a compliment. It’s always nice to be compared to sensible and informed people.


6:21 Anonymous –

Let me get this right.

You invade a country whose culture you don’t understand, whose structures you dismantle, whose economy has been gutted in good part by your country and whose language you cannot friggin’ speak. You are unable to even switch the lights back on. Your troops are stationed all over the country.

Yet you have the gall to say “What got done or did not get done WAS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF IRAQIS -- not Americans.”

Excuse me, but you sound seriously deluded. The responsibility of Iraqis for this mess ended when YOUR troops swarmed over the border.

The fact that their ancient culture is different from yours does not make it wrong – merely different. Economically speaking, I can point out to you that Saddam, whatever his moral outrages, actually managed, prior to the Iran – Iraq war, to set up quite an efficient and modern state that was prospering.

“I am hoping you guys will elect a government on January 30 that will formally request the US forces to leave your soil. Then we can be gone and you will have pissed away the only chance you guys have had for a decent future.”

Hum. I can smell an American chauvanist at the other end of this statement, somebody who automatically assumes non – American is non – functional. Man! One wonders how on earth the inhabitants of Mesapotamia managed to struggle through the last 6000 years without your divine guidance. I guess the talk of Iraq being the cradle of civilization is just an urban legend then.

I put it to you that the Iraqis will manage just fine on their own, the same as they always have … unless, of course, the US manages to inflict the civil war on Iraq which it is striving for.


TallDave –

If you are still about, I resumed our little discussion from the “The Other side of the Story” thread.


--Bruno --

(Um, technical difficulties ... )
 
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Abu,
I haven't been using my intelligence or my eyes? Now you're just being polite.

I did find it interesting to read one of your first posts where you establish your goals with this blog so the following are some excerpts from tyour post:

---- Hope Lies with the American People!
They seem to me to be the only decent “entity” that has sufficient power to control fanatics acting in their name!

The American public should be aware of the wrong things that are happening … devastating our country and creating an animosity to America that will recruit hordes of “terrorists” bent on destroying America!

All we want is a true democracy and the safe return of your boys (and girls) back to their families!
There’s no hidden agenda or some sinister grand scheme.

This is a person-to-person approach; an Iraqi hand held out to the Americans. It has two objectives:
• enlightenment on how America is being damaged by people supposedly representing the Americans."

--------

I have to hand it to you, you are true to this commitment you've made.

You basically say that American citizens are your greatest hope so you plan to tell them how damaging their country is and they will change their country from the inside. That's about as naive a plan as a neocon could make. You consulted some neocons on this plan didn't you?

But you yourself know that trying to tell someone that there country is awful just doesn't cut it for a persuasive argument and only alienates people. Calling Americans Saddamists, you know that's a hot button phrase that's going to get under people's skin and you keep using it with some enjoyment offering irritation instead of persuasion.

I might be ambiguous about a lot of things in this conflict, to be anything else is a simple matter of deciding what news sources you've chosen to sell out to. But I'm not ambiguous about hope. You don't offer any hope here Abu. Post after post of complaining and throttling critiques and cynicism, and not a shred of an attempt to see some kind of light.

And your negativity will always find a good crew of folks from all over the world who are happy to support you in your cynicism. But you didn't have to convince those folks, they were already thinking like you.

You might not be able to make the blind see, but can you have hope.

and circular said "you also seem to be lapsing into ambiguity. Without going back over your previous posts, I am left again wondering where you stand. It’s quite simple: this war was a mistake, and has been lost. Or it wasn’t, and hasn’t"

Such a clear black and white stance it almost sounds like a conservative talking. Circular say it ain't so! You folks on the extreme right and left are all the same ;)

I don't think this conflict is so easy to compartmentalize as you do. There are so many dimensions at play, and so many people telling other people that they're wrong. So many unknowns. So many opposing stories in the press and in the blogosphere.

The one thing I'm clear on is that I hope Iraq can soon finds a path to the highest glory in it's 6000 year life and inspire the world. I hope Abu is someone who can find hope and use it to somehow make good things happen in his home
 
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Fathom,

I stand by every word I wrote on this and other blogs – now and in ten years’ time. But I didn’t say I was addressing every last American. That would be absurd. Yes, there are millions upon millions of decent, compassionate Americans who may not be aware. I am addressing those people. But like any other country, there are also idiots, lunatics and fanatics. I cannot aspire to have any hope reaching out and convincing those people.

Saddamists: In your reading, didn’t you come across my definition for Saddamists? Here it is again:

Definition: A Saddamist is one who takes any blame towards, or criticism of, the Administration or Government as hatred of the country! In this doctrine, the "head of state" is considered to be an embodiment of the whole country!

When you call someone an American Saddamist, it does not mean that you are calling all Americans Saddamists. Is this so difficult to comprehend?

At the expense of wasting everybody’s time, it will try to make it simple: When you call someone an American politician, does it mean that all Americans are politicians? Similarly, when I call someone an American idiot, does it mean that all Americans are idiots?

In this blog I have done quite a bit of complaining. Yes. But people are dying every hour of every day, violently… needlessly. People are suffering. People are afraid and insecure. Right this minute, millions of people in Iraq are cold and have no electricity in a country that holds one of the largest oil reserves in the world. If you do not wish to hear what your administration has done to this country why read this blog?

You will find no rosy pictures here though. In this blog I am warning about dangers and making people aware of wrongdoings being committed in their name and in the name of Freedom and Democracy. There are many other sites, larger sites, that do just that. Go to read their material. There are also other sites that give honest accounts of what is going on down the street, if you want detailed reports, go to them. Here, I write about what I feel is important.

I also cannot give you any false hope - not with current policies running our lives. Go to your preacher for that! Instead, I attempted to give proposals for SOLUTIONS. I have done it several times in this blog and I have dedicated an entire blog for the boring details of such a scheme. Didn’t you come across them in your reading?

I have also written a lot about my country trying to give people a glimpse of the nature of the country and the people and their culture. If you are not interested, it is not my fault; others (Americans and from other countries) seem to be. I write to them.

And yet, I have lots of hope within me in the resilience and integrity of many of my own people and in the decency and integrity of many of yours. I wouldn’t have written those words if I didn’t. Go back and read those words of mine that you quoted above, then search the entire blog and tell me what I have written that is not true to those words. Will you do that please? I am an ordinary person not associated in any way with any propaganda machine, Iraqi, American or otherwise. After you’ve done that, go over your own comments and you try and figure out what you are trying to say because I have been having difficulty “fathoming” you!

Here, and to give you equal space and save you the effort of searching, I have posted a few excerpts from your own comments:
__________________

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

Why was Japan so much easier to rebuild then Iraq, because more than half of their population was destroyed. They didn't have much of a stomach to fight after that. And now Japan is a shining start among nations in the globalized economy.

We didn't half the population of Iraq, we went in like surgeons trying to cut out a cancer. It's a noble pursuit although impossible to execute by perfection. Fighting this war has cost us more lives, more money and more time.

…And it's worth a deeper look: Close down the borders between secure and insecure nations. And let those insecure nations fold in on themselves. Many of those folks want to return to the middle ages. Let's let them do it and perhaps they will evolve on their own to a more peaceful place. I would feel sad for the progressive thinkers trapped in a cut off backsliding civilization.
Of course this only works if we can totally seal the seams where the two worlds meet.

And then you have the native Iraqi men "resisting an occupier" behaving in accordance with an ancient tribal mentality that supports revenge killings etc.

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

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

My personal circumstance is I was put on the frontline on 9/11 and I never hurt anybody. I want my Children to live in a world at least as peaceful as the one I grew up in.
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Sir, this blog is not addressed to you. I’m sorry but I can’t help you.
 
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Bruno,

Welcome back. I have just read your other post. You sound to be fresh and crisp from your holiday!

Fathom,

Please let me know when you have read my response so that I can delete your post and mine. They are too long and off-topic. People come here expecting a discussion of the post itself, not our bickering.
 
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Hi, This idea may sound reaaaallllly crazy, but what if the so called 'patriotic freedom fighter insurgents' stopped chopping off heads, murdering civilians, destroying infrastructure, etc.?

Would that really be so terrible? What are they risking? Is there something wrong with democracy, reconciliation, reconstruction, stability, investment, progress, prosperity, peace, etc.?!?

It just doesn't make sense. Unless of course they aren't such quaint 'freedom fighters.' Maybe they chop off heads and murder because they like the chaos? Maybe they hope it will allow them to take power for 'themselves' at the expense of everyone else? Maybe their only hope to regain power is explosive escalation that causes US to pull out? Or maybe they promote insecurity exactly because they want the US to stay so they will have a recruiting tool and something to shoot at?

Come on folks. Most of you seem intelligent. Can any of you think of legitimate reasons why the 'freedom fighters' are causing so much slaughter and destruction and TERRORIZING the Iraqi people?
 
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Abu,

When you call someone an American Saddamist, I doesn't matter what the definition is, it's going to offend them. It's a loaded word. I don't see how you wouldn't realize that.

Judging by your comments above you've got me worng in so many ways. I suppose I suffer from multiple political disorder and now it seems to cause you to suffer as well and you apparantly have enough troubles as it is.
 
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Anonymous 6:10 pm –


With respect, you seem to be somewhat uninformed as to the nature of the composition of the Insurgency. It is hardly a unified, cohesive force united by a single ideology. Rather it is a fractured collection of small groups that in many cases have formed alliances of convenience for the purpouse of ousting the US forces from Iraq.

While I certainly concede the point that there are unsavoury elements that think beheading people and broadcasting the fact to the world constitutes a major victory in public relations … it is also true that these elements are neither representative of the insurgency as a whole nor are they even tolerated by many of the other groups. As a case in point, if you take a look at the blog A Star in Mosul, by Najma, a segment of the resistance warned people that their houses would be burned down if they cooperated with Az Zarqawi via graphic leaflets – hardly a ringing endorsement of these tactics.

And yes, you are right, Al Qaeda everywhere is simply thriving on the Iraq war. It provides perfect propaganda ammunition for it, and it is proof that the evil Crusader Americans are every bit as bad as they have been portrayed. Recruitment is UP. They would like the war to drag on forever with Iraqis as unwitting cannon fodder in the struggle. You however, are confusing Al Qaeda with the Resistance, which are two largely separate things.

On the other hand, other groups have gone to lengths to avoid causing Iraqi casualties, staging attacks far from civilian populations on highways, or otherwise warning people to stay at home on such and such a day to avoid being caught in the crossfire of operations, and developing new conical bombs that direct the blast in a concentrated direction to avoid shrapnel showering everywhere haphazardly.

You are looking at the scene from too high an altitude, and painting the entire effort with one brush.
 
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Anonymous No 351 (why can’t you people give yourselves names? It’s not hard. Just type a name. Arthur? Betty? Anything?)
Further to Bruno:
"Come on folks. Most of you seem intelligent. Can any of you think of legitimate reasons why the 'freedom fighters' are causing so much slaughter and destruction and TERRORIZING the Iraqi people?"
I wouldn’t call myself intelligent, but I can think of a few reasons. For example:
Roadside IED’s aimed at US convoys and patrols aren’t terrorizing the Iraqi people. They’re terrifying the foreign invaders. Same goes for blowing up mess tents in enemy forts.
Targetting "puppet" troops at recruitment and training locales isn’t terrorizing the Iraqi people. It’s terrifying those who collaborate with the foreign invaders.
Attacking anyone associated with the Interim Government and the upcoming fake elections isn’t terrorising the Iraqi people. It’s terrifying those who think there’s any "legitimacy" in an administration headed by a former traitor who was in the pay of a foreign Intelligence service for 30 years, and is a citizen of a foreign country.
And so on. It’s all a matter of perspective, but the general lesson of history is that the guerrillas usually win in the long run, unless they can be separated from the people among whom they "swim like a fish," to quote Chairman Mao.
If you read this Blog with "intelligent" attention, you would see that the author’s thesis is that the guerillas could have been forestalled, and separated from the people, if the US had implemented genuinely benevolent and constructive policies in Iraq after their successful invasion. Instead you acted with a mixture of brutality, idiot confusion, and blatant self-interest, and thereby created the current situation. Which you now can’t solve or get yourselves out of.
And consider that Bruno and I, as observers neutral to this conflict, aren’t particularly "on the side" of the insurgents, or approving of their actions. We’re just appalled by stupidity. And we didn’t elect the architect of this mess.
Go on, sweetie, tell us yer name. Just as long as it’s not "Fathom."
Circular
 
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Hello Circular,
"Roadside IED’s aimed at US convoys and patrols aren’t terrorizing the Iraqi people. They’re terrifying the foreign invaders. Same goes for blowing up mess tents in enemy forts."
Really?[So why did Al-Sistani issue a fatwa against planting any bombs in streets last year?]
"Targetting "puppet" troops at recruitment and training locales isn’t terrorizing the Iraqi people. It’s terrifying those who collaborate with the foreign invaders."
Wow, no kidding?[The 100,000+ ING, IP aren't people?]
"Attacking anyone associated with the Interim Government and the upcoming fake elections isn’t terrorising the Iraqi people."
Well, golly,gee![Then all the Sunnis who are refusing to vote because it is too dangerous are lying?]
"It’s terrifying those who think there’s any "legitimacy" in an administration headed by a former traitor who was in the pay of a foreign Intelligence service for 30 years, and is a citizen of a foreign country."
"You don't say!
Circular, you've come full circle. And they say Sufi dervishes never get dizzy.
So the Iraqi people are not terrorized by the insurgents!
So Allawi's legitamcy is more terrifying than Ansar-Al-Sunnah![I'm sure Ansar will be highly offended!]
Let me , an enemy of Bush's occupation and a lover of the truth invite you to retract these truly heartless, and transparently untrue statements(exaggerations?).
The insurgents are terrorists of a particularly vicious kind and are totally indefensible. The occupation is onerous to Iraqis and will not secure peace, which is why I oppose it. Here, my enemy's enemy is not my friend and never will be.
 
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Anonymous 7.42 above:
See what I mean, I don’t know whether you are a new voice or one of the anonymous contributors above. It is difficult to conduct a dialogue when you don’t know who you are talking to.
Your final paragraph "Let me, an enemy of Bush's occupation and a lover of the truth invite you to retract these truly heartless, and transparently untrue statements(exaggerations?).
The insurgents are terrorists of a particularly vicious kind and are totally indefensible. The occupation is onerous to Iraqis and will not secure peace, which is why I oppose it" seems to leave you firmly straddling the fence, making random noise for the sake of it and developing a pain in the crotch. Perhaps you really are Fathom after all - that certainly seems to be his speciality at the moment.
Look, try it this way: repeat after me
Terrorists are terrible
Terrorists are terrible
Terrorists are terrible
then say
The US has made a complete mess of its conquest of Iraq
The US has made a complete mess of its conquest of Iraq
The US has made a complete mess of its conquest of Iraq
These two statements don’t contradict one another. Both are true. So what is the point, every time I make the second statement, of just repeating the first one. It gets us nowhere.
What needs to happen is ...
What needs to happen is ...
What needs to happen is ...
?
?
?
Patient Circular
 
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Hi,

My name is Charles and I live in NH USA. I posted the anonymous 6:10 message. Thanks for the comments.

First of all, I didn't mean to slop all the 'freedom fighters' into one a$$ slapping brotherly bunch. In fact, there are probably three types. #1 would be the sunni tribal folk who aren't pleased with current events. #2 would be al quada types who relish the thought of slaughtering infidels wherever they find them, and Iraq is as good a place as any. Both #1 and #2 also take pleasure in slaughtering Iraqi's hoping to build a better country that doesn't include #1 and #2. Group #3 are the poor sods, both domestic and foreign, who have been bred on rabid antiwestern ideology and propaganda who are just too ready to jihad themselves into paradise for some useless purpose (see #1/#2). I suppose the latter group could fill the ranks of #1/#2 subgroups bent on fulfilling some pre-medievil dogma they have not the inclination nor courage to question.

Add to that a really stressful environment (that they themselves promulgate) where people who don't know what to believe are ready to either become passive spectators, or join in hideous acts of murder because they have been given some poetic justification a la 'freedom from bad US crusaders.'

Back to my initial point: What would be so terrible about establishing some reasonable democracy, stopping the provocations and murder and terror, and getting on with building a better Iraq?
 
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@circular

"I wouldn’t call myself intelligent, but I can think of a few reasons. For example:
Roadside IED’s aimed at US convoys and patrols aren’t terrorizing the Iraqi people. They’re terrifying the foreign invaders. Same goes for blowing up mess tents in enemy forts."

You have conveniently disregarded the fact that terrorists ARE targeting civilians. I guess anyone who has a job in Iraq under US occupation - teachers/doctors/local leaders, are no longer civilians?

"Targetting "puppet" troops at recruitment and training locales isn’t terrorizing the Iraqi people. It’s terrifying those who collaborate with the foreign invaders."

As per above, thousands of civilians have been deliberately targeted.

"Attacking anyone associated with the Interim Government and the upcoming fake elections isn’t terrorising the Iraqi people. It’s terrifying those who think there’s any "legitimacy" in an administration headed by a former traitor who was in the pay of a foreign Intelligence service for 30 years, and is a citizen of a foreign country."

Uh-guh. But the nice thing about a democracy is that it allows the PEOPLE to vote for candidates who represent their interests. Why not settle with ballots rather than murder and assasination? No one said that democracy creates perfection. This is especially true in a place like Iraq that must start from scratch. But democracy does allow for a legitimate framework through which peoples interests can be represented, and a formal rule of law can be legitimized, and a reasonable mechanism for improving the 'rules' of law over time.

The election means that the country chooses the rule of law, however imperfect.

Fighting the 'evil crusaders'is just a convenient excuse.

"if the US had implemented genuinely benevolent and constructive policies in Iraq after their successful invasion. Instead you acted with a mixture of brutality, idiot confusion, and blatant self-interest, and thereby created the current situation."

Sure mistakes were made and are being made. US is at a terrible PR disadvantage. The 'freedom fighters' know that insecurity prohibits reconstruction and stability, that in turn combine to foment mistrust and tragedy.

The fog of war is thick indeed. But common sense would ideally prevail if the Iraqi's looked inward. Too many seem overawed by the rhetoric of some street corner magicians slight of hand tricks. The US has invested billions in treasure and thousands of lives. A brutal dictator has been overthrown. They have elections coming up that will allow them to establish a democratic constitution. They will have the ability to decide their own fate for the first time. This is BIG.

What is wrong with that?







Which you now can’t solve or get yourselves out of.
And consider that Bruno and I, as observers neutral to this conflict, aren’t particularly "on the side" of the insurgents, or approving of their actions. We’re just appalled by stupidity. And we didn’t elect the architect of this mess.
Go on, sweetie, tell us yer name. Just as long as it’s not "Fathom."
Circular
 
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@circular

"I wouldn’t call myself intelligent, but I can think of a few reasons. For example:
Roadside IED’s aimed at US convoys and patrols aren’t terrorizing the Iraqi people. They’re terrifying the foreign invaders. Same goes for blowing up mess tents in enemy forts."

You have conveniently disregarded the fact that terrorists ARE targeting civilians. I guess anyone who has a job in Iraq under US occupation - teachers/doctors/local leaders, are no longer civilians?

"Targetting "puppet" troops at recruitment and training locales isn’t terrorizing the Iraqi people. It’s terrifying those who collaborate with the foreign invaders."

As per above, thousands of civilians have been deliberately targeted.

"Attacking anyone associated with the Interim Government and the upcoming fake elections isn’t terrorising the Iraqi people. It’s terrifying those who think there’s any "legitimacy" in an administration headed by a former traitor who was in the pay of a foreign Intelligence service for 30 years, and is a citizen of a foreign country."

Uh-guh. But the nice thing about a democracy is that it allows the PEOPLE to vote for candidates who represent their interests. Why not settle with ballots rather than murder and assasination? No one said that democracy creates perfection. This is especially true in a place like Iraq that must start from scratch. But democracy does allow for a legitimate framework through which peoples interests can be represented, and a formal rule of law can be legitimized, and a reasonable mechanism for improving the 'rules' of law over time.

The election means that the country chooses the rule of law, however imperfect.

Fighting the 'evil crusaders'is just a convenient excuse.

"if the US had implemented genuinely benevolent and constructive policies in Iraq after their successful invasion. Instead you acted with a mixture of brutality, idiot confusion, and blatant self-interest, and thereby created the current situation."

Sure mistakes were made and are being made. US is at a terrible PR disadvantage. The 'freedom fighters' know that insecurity prohibits reconstruction and stability, that in turn combine to foment mistrust and tragedy.

The fog of war is thick indeed. But common sense would ideally prevail if the Iraqi's looked inward. Too many seem overawed by the rhetoric of some street corner magicians slight of hand tricks. The US has invested billions in treasure and thousands of lives. A brutal dictator has been overthrown. They have elections coming up that will allow them to establish a democratic constitution. They will have the ability to decide their own fate for the first time. This is BIG.

What is wrong with that?
 
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Hello PC,
'...seems to leave you firmly straddling the fence, making random noise for the sake of it and developing a pain in the crotch. Perhaps you really are Fathom after all - that certainly seems to be his speciality at the moment.'
me..Fathom?You wound me to the quick!
You suggest that if I hate terror I must back up Bush in his counterterror campaign. In this case his first choice 'cure' is very bad, like amputation or blood letting.
Do you mind if I look for another opinion?
'So what is the point, every time I make the second statement, of just repeating the first one. It gets us nowhere.' Yes, it does sound like 'I told you so'.You remind me of the guy who loves to eat spicey food and gets an ulcer and asks the doc 'how can I keep on eating what I want and the answer is, 'you can't, you must cut it out..'
'What needs to happen is ...'
End the occupation, end meddling in Iraq and threatening Islamic countries, bring the troops home and if possible impeach manifest aggressor Bush.
Now where's that retraction?
 
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The Al-Zarqawi group was a CIA creation. The beheading's Internet show was just created after the Abu Ghruraib scandal, in order to oppose it in the Americans hearts and minds. This is called psychological operation - PSYOP - in warfare.

Yes, Charles, your government is that evil.
 
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@alvaro

It's a real pity your mind has been so poisoned. Maybe its a chemical imbalance. They have pills for that you know...

Where are you from?

But seriously, considering the fact that the terrorists openly admit, and even video tape and distribute their 'head sawing' DVD's of the people they slaughter, what leads you to believe that the US is behind it?

Is there anyone else on this board that really thinks the US sawed off the heads of defenseless prisoners with hunting knives for propaganda purposes?

I admit that there were some sadistic guards at abu ghraib that got their kicks making prisoners wear womens underwear, beating them, etc. I guess the difference is that most of them will go to jail.
 
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@alvaro

Did I notice in one of your previous posts that 'you' are behind iraq-war.ru?!?

That site is sooo full of garbage I'm not even sure that they take themselves seriously. i guess some people do.

It was quite funny during the actual invasion campaign. If you read their site it was chock full of very convincing witness accounts of the terrible slaughter and destruction being inflicted upon the US /coalition. Hundreds of tanks destroyed, thousands upon thousands killed. They even had pictures. But to them, an abrams tank that had its tread knocked off and was later destroyed by the US, was actually one hundred tanks. You see, they took one hundred different pics of it so that means its one hundred different tanks...

There are some pretty bad folks on this planet who prey upon the ignorance of others.
 
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This article is off-topic. I recall you mentioning farming. This article is beautiful written. It’s about renewal. Paradise Lost?On the topic at hand:
Even if the CPA had been perfectly executed, perfectly planned, well thought out, staffed with the most brilliant and the most competent, does not mean the insurgency of Ba’athist diehards and militant Islamists from neighboring countries would not have pursued their goals of intimidation, racketeering, terrorism, assassinations, car bombs, suicide bombings and the destruction of the country’s infrastructure. Saddam Hussein is a formidable enemy. Al Qaeda is a formidable enemy. We could argue whether Saddam Hussein was a spent force, thoroughly contained, who posed no security threat to the United States. We could argue whether Hussein and Al Qaeda were ever linked prior to the invasion of Iraq. We could argue whether deposing Saddam only to witness his followers wage war on their own countrymen to retain wealth and power was too high of a price to pay. We could argue whether continuing economic sanctions, inspections and the flyover zones for the next 20-30 years would have been the more merciful route.

I’m reminded of Kurosawa’s 1950’s film Rashômon when trying to discern the truth on Iraq:“Rashomon isn't about determining a chronology of what happened in the woods. It's not about culpability or innocence. Instead, it focuses on something far more profound and thought-provoking: the inability of any one man to know the truth, no matter how clearly he thinks he sees things. Perspective distorts reality and makes the absolute truth unknowable.” reviewerOn my reading list for tonight:
Grand StrategyNorman Podheretz, WWIVMs. Willfully Obtuse
 
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Charles:

Arrogantly, as most Americans, you said:

There are some pretty bad folks on this planet who prey upon the ignorance of others.

And as much as I am the supposedly ignorant guy and you are the supposedly intelligent one, the better I can do is to leave you alone with your supposedly intelligence...

Another proof for what I said: the only words Americans are capable to understand is IED, VIED, AK, Grad, Ababil, KIA, WIA, etecetera...

But I think I am wrong in this over-generalization and Abu Khaleel is right in writing his words to intelligent Americans and to us ... as Iraqui Resistance is right in sending the above words to the American military and their puppets in Iraq.

Alvaro Frota
------------
PS to Charles: Have you not a clue in what American Government did in Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Latin American in general?
 
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Sorry for going off topic before.

Regarding subjective 'perspective' as being an insurmountable obstacle to knowing the ultimate truth, you may be right. But that is neither here nor there.

My point is that the final decision on the future of Iraq, for those living there now, and for their children and grandchildren, is up to the Iraqi's en masse. Do they want to be led by the likes of Saddam under a totalitarian regime? The likes of the 'freedom fighters' who saw off heads, murder, terrorize, and destroy? Or do they want to engage in establishing a messy and imperfect democracy that establishes the rule of law where they get to define the laws?

If they don't decide for themselves, then the head loppers will decide for them. The US and all the armies of the world cannot guard the Iraqi's future if the Iraqi's choose to abstain. If they choose the head loppers, so be it. But it would be a damn shame. Years from now - when the dust settles - Iraqi men will wish they had accepted the challenge.
 
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@Alvaro

"And as much as I am the supposedly ignorant guy and you are the supposedly intelligent one, the better I can do is to leave you alone with your supposedly intelligence..."

I suppose you are right. Sometimes it seems our perspectives are so far apart it's as if we are from different planets. I am not one of those gung ho stereotypical americans (in fact I don't think they exist except in the minds of people looking for easy cliches to avoid thinking). I lived much of my mature life abroad - mostly Russia, but also Germany. I spent a lot of time in some pretty remote places. I have known all kinds of people. All people are not 'good' by the way. Most are decent, but not all. Some are VERY bad.

"Another proof for what I said: the only words Americans are capable to understand is IED, VIED, AK, Grad, Ababil, KIA, WIA, etecetera..."

?

"Iraqui Resistance is right in sending the above words to the American military and their puppets in Iraq."

We are all victims of some sort of 'world view' through which we filter our environment. Your's seems so blatantly paranoid and pessimistic and cliched. You can't even answer my basic question:

What is so wrong about letting the Iraqi's begin down a democratic path? Why should they be murdered and terrorized?

Your cliches of 'puppets' are silly and sad. You propose no reasonable alternatives. Why not let Allawi, and every other Iraqi live in peace and do their jobs and build their country? These are all just temporary steps. Every step bringing them closer to a decent future.

Do you think that the people your dear freedom fighters slaughter are not decent? Are the 'puppets' and 'dogs' sub human and not worthy of sharing life? Do they not love their country?

Why don't you just come out and say it?

"PS to Charles: Have you not a clue in what American Government did in Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Latin American in general?"

A lot was done in the name of fighting communism. Much of it was regretable. Are we better off now? Maybe not. You must have Russian friends. Ever been there? Eastern/central Europe? Baltics? Ask them what it felt like to live under dictatorship. Ask them about relatives who disappeared. Friends whose faces were erased from pictures so that no links could be traced back.

You are barking up the wrong tree my friend.
 
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Mr. Khaleel,

Many valid points you bring up and certainly the US has botched many of their projects in Iraq. I just did a quick google on Jay Hallen who is purportedly 'in charge' of setting up the stock exchange.

I'd like to make a couple of points. First of all, as is probably the case with many of the other examples you posted, this kids function is most likely that of liason between "a team of volunteer financial experts and lawyers from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the New York and Philadelphia stock exchanges" and whatever Iraqi groups are involved. Keeping in mind that exchanges under Saddam were deeply corrupt, the whole system has to be rebuilt from scratch. Jay is probably tasked with important executive functions like trying to lease appropriate office space, arranging meetings, and relaying messages.

Another point is that most job posts in Iraq are probably pretty tough to fill because of the security situation. Top people may not want to risk being their directly.

Iraqi's could make it easier in general for reconstruction if they ousted the terrorists.

BTW - did anything ever happen with the market? I can't imagine it opening under current circumstances.
 
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From Circular
Charles, thank you for giving yourself a name. It facilitates dialogue, which is the purpose of this Comments area. However, could I suggest that you not take this as a licence to flood the Blog with rather impenetrable posts - the author of the Blog has already displayed his displeasure and dismay at what might be termed "fathomitis," a determination to espouse obscurity for its own state and to avoid anything approaching a frank and succinct statement of position: are you in danger of contracting this unfortunate condition?
As far as I can make out, your basic position is that Iraqis should be more grateful to the USA for bringing them the opportunity to develop "democracy." Can you confirm that this is a correct interpretation of what you are trying to say? Further discussion could then take place.
It is generally speaking a courtesy to the author of the Blog to stick to his chosen topic of discussion. With regard to the actual subject of this chapter, "A Year of Neocon Rule," your most relevant comment appears to be, "Sure mistakes were made and are being made."
Could we have that once again, louder, with real feeling? Isn’t that what the whole discussion is about? How much mistakes is too much mistakes? What is needed before you will admit that your fubar has become a FUBAR? According to reports they’re burning the midnight oil in Washington trying to find an "exit strategy." Chimpy has finally had to admit that his declared reasons for rushing into war were all wrong. And you’re still saying it was all righteous?
 
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line 5: ... its own sake ... not ...state ...
 
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Charles, Anonymous, etc –


Again, let me state that the Insurgency does not consist of ‘head loppers’ which are a minority that exists via the conditions on the ground, which make any fighter acceptable as long as he is willing to heft a gun against the Americans. To suggest that they deliberately target Iraqis out of sheer malicious pleasure is just stupid. Why would they kill their own brothers for no reason?

On the other hand, the targeting of civilians working with the Coalition is a moral dilemma. Legally, it is wrong. But, if we look at civilian truck drivers doing logistical transport for the US Army, a task usually carried out by armies themselves, we must ask ourselves: have the lines blurred between combatant and non combatant here? Logistical supply for an army, especially the US Army, is a massive task, requiring much manpower. By doing the soldier’s tasks for them, these civilian transporters are freeing up infantry for combat operations. Are they not now a legitimate target?

This is merely one example of how civilians can get caught up in the war.

My fear is that this war is driving the ‘head loppers’ and the legitimate resistance together in the long run. The consequences of a long brutal war produce a bitter harvest. Look to Chechnya to see the way the Chechens have been twisted by hate and bloodshed into doing despicable things. And, I see that the US is bringing in the death squads. Give Iraqis a few more years of seeing their brothers and sisters being killed, and I do believe that Bush’s lies about the Iraq – Al Qaeda connection might just become a self fulfilling prophecy. THAT is the real danger here. As is the danger of the entire Middle East erupting in flames.

This so called ‘democracy’ that the US is bringing is a sham. Alvaro is right when he says that the only language that the US understands is force. To my mind, I see this scheme devised for Iraq: divide and rule. Part of the reason for the fast success in Afghanistan was the fact that the US invasion took advantage of an ongoing civil war there, and by supporting the ‘good’ faction against the ‘bad’ faction, the rapid American victory was assured. So, similar conditions must be created in Iraq.

The US strategists have identified the problem in Iraq as the “Sunni problem”. Therefore, it must be eliminated. However, to use American arms to put down the resistance would smack too much of Imperial brutality, not to mention running the risk of unnecessary casualties. So … split the Iraqis into factions. Punish the “Sunnis” and reward the “Shias”. US generals are already talking of the Sunni population as having to have to “pay a price” for not turning in the insurgents. Look at the destruction of Fallujah, and the rebuilding of Sadr City for the dual approach being taken here. (I do credit Al Sadr with enough brains to realize that this is a cheap ploy to buy loyalty … I just hope that when it comes to the crunch he remembers he is an Iraqi and not an American)

The elections will merely define Iraqis into camps, without actually addressing the underlying problems. But this is what the US wants. At that point they will try to stoke the fires of unrest and set the Shias / Kurds against the Sunnis and the resultant slaughter will merely be the product of the ignorant natives killing each other, and hence nothing to do with them. This strategy is sadly quite successful, having witnessed it in my home country South Africa.

This strategy is born out of the idea that resistance must be eliminated, and not co – opted. I think that Abu Khaleel will recognize this theme from previous neoconservative documents … but it is also not exclusive to them, unfortunately. (Of course, if all Iraqis come to an inclusive agreement as to how their country will be run, there will be no more need for either US troops or companies there.)

I think that the elections are worse than useless if they seek to impose a government from the top down. A government ought to be built from the bottom up, so that representatives are accountable to specific areas. (However, a top down approach allows for CIA agents like Allawi to be lumped together with parties with actual support, and hence be shoehorned into a new government.)

Instead, the US seeks to forment direct confrontation between groups, so that it can decide who wins and who loses. This is a sure recipe for disaster.

Charles, your “messy and imperfect” democracy is in reality a civil war where one favoured group wins and another loses. Please do not be so naïve as to imagine the US crossed half the world and spent billions of dollars in the pro bono, strings free cause of giving Iraqis democracy. If Democracy does not deliver what is required, the US will settle for a dictatorship, like the ones it supports in Egypt, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan etc. The Americans were even prepared to make deals with the Taliban at one stage, so let us not get carried away with our optimism here. The US, *especially* under the neocons, does not “do” multilateral.

What Iraq needs is an inclusive consensus between its people, not a winner takes all civil war. We are heading for the latter.
 
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@circular

"As far as I can make out, your basic position is that Iraqis should be more grateful to the USA for bringing them the opportunity to develop "democracy.""

That is one minor premise, but not my point.

"It is generally speaking a courtesy to the author of the Blog to stick to his chosen topic of discussion. With regard to the actual subject of this chapter, "A Year of Neocon Rule," your most relevant comment appears to be, "Sure mistakes were made and are being made.""

My apologies to Mr. Khaleed and others. I am not experienced in this blogging thing so I may tend to latch on to things and just 'gush' at times. Thanks everyone for their patience.

Re: Neocons - It seems to me that the label is too simplistic and helps people avoid discussing the issue.

"Chimpy has finally had to admit that his declared reasons for rushing into war were all wrong. And you’re still saying it was all righteous?"

We could reopen the whole debate on whether or not threat of WMD was a valid threat, etc. Or whether there was value in removing Saddam, either for the Iraqi's themselves, the region as a whole, or the world in general. We can do that if you want. But what about thinking about what is going on now, and the current options for action that are available?

The biggest result from the invasion is that an oppresive dictator was removed from power. Many Iraqi's openly fought him, many secretly wished for this to happen. Now it has happened. Now what?

I tried to make point several times that having elections andstarting down path towards democracy is not a bad thing and should not be violently resisted by the majority of Iraqi's. Elections bring them closer to achieving what they claim to want. There will be nominal 'losers' in any election, but the real losers will be the groups who seek to reimpose authoritarian minority rule.
 
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"Why would they kill their own brothers for no reason?"

It seems to me that Iraqi's have very strong identities beyond those of being 'Iraqi.' How can Iraqi's kill eachother? How can muslims kill eachother? Etc. Perhaps these multiple identities simply serve to provide easy justifications for killing. Tribal identities are used to rationalize killing other tribes. Iraqi identities are used for killing non-Iraqi's. Islamic identities are used for killing non-muslims. These identities are tools that can be used to motivate and provide justification.

"On the other hand, the targeting of civilians working with the Coalition is a moral dilemma. Legally, it is wrong... Are they not now a legitimate target?"

This slope is quite slippery. Seems that many casualties are simply Iraqi's who happen to be nearby, or anyone that has a job doing anything in 'occupied' Iraq. Putting a bomb in a market or at a religious rally just ain't right. If you add up the victims, you will probably find that the vast majority have been illegaly targeted by any reasonable standard.

"THAT is the real danger here. As is the danger of the entire Middle East erupting in flames."

I would argue that this is exactly what the terrorist ideologues want. They are driving a terrorist insurgency knowing full well that brute force by nature is a blunt instrument. Escalation of violence serves their purpose because the US (or any military force for that matter) is ill equiped to overcome all of the cultural/language and tactical barriers to surgically remove the baddies. Escalation of terror suits them because it intimidates an historically repressed people from participating in building their own future.

"This so called ‘democracy’ that the US is bringing is a sham."

This is your biggest mistake!!! The imperfections of the first baby steps do not mean that democracy is a sham. Democracy, to date, seems to be the most reasonable form for the legitimate transfer of power, the most effective means of balancing competing interests, and the best way to build the rule of law.

The goal of this current 'sham' as you call it is to bring together some hundreds of Iraqi's from different tribes, regions, sects, professions, etc., to build a constitution for the country. How could this be a sham? What alternative do you propose? What alternative do the freedom fighters offer? (these are not rhetorical questions - I'm hoping you will answer).

They offer nothing but 'sham' justifications for their current violence and terror, and absolutely nothing regarding the future. Unless you consider their current methods as an indication of how they might do business in the years to come.

"To my mind, I see this scheme devised for Iraq: divide and rule."

To what end my friend? You believe civil war is a goal? What if the US actually wants Iraq to become a reasonable, prosperous, stable country that could rejoin the world community as an active and positive partner? If you are searching for sinister conspiracy theories, try looking at the folks who have something to lose if Iraq goes democratic, represents the interests of the majority, and respects the rights of its minorities. The soil for conspiracies is far more fertile.

"supporting the ‘good’ faction against the ‘bad’ faction"

Sometimes good and bad are not so relative.

"The US strategists have identified the problem in Iraq as the “Sunni problem”."

There is a sunni problem. It doesn't apply to all sunni's, but if you ae looking for easy generalizations, this one is actually correct. Sunni agents are currently responsible for much of the mayhem in Iraq.

The US does not want to eliminate the sunnis.

"The elections will merely define Iraqis into camps, without actually addressing the underlying problems."

The biggest problem is legitimate transfer of power and establishment of the rule of law. You can certainly bet that broadly speaking, the first few election cycles will simply represent an ethnic/religious census. But over time, issues will develop that cross ethnic lines, parties will develop around thise issues, and democracy will take hold.

The important thing is for the people to establish and accept democracy as the most legitimate form of government. This is actually the case. They simply must accept this and reject the violent alternatives.

"But this is what the US wants."

This is what 'you' want the US to want to justify your worldview of US as evil warmongering imperialist slaughter lover.

"This strategy is born out of the idea that resistance must be eliminated, and not co – opted."

The US has bent over backwards to co-opt everyone back into the fold. We have put up billions and sacrificed thousands of lives. There does come a point when it becomes clear that fanatics cannot be coopted.

"Of course, if all Iraqis come to an inclusive agreement as to how their country will be run, there will be no more need for either US troops or companies there."

Exactly. If the violence is put on hold, and elections are heldf, and the rule of law established, there will be no need for US forces. Even the bad guys know this. They know this full well. Why not let the 'legitimate' insurgents call a truce - be patient. See what happens. Use their capabilities to oust the true terrorists who thrive on the violence, and see if democracy works. They can always pick up their guns later and kill eachother.

"I think that the elections are worse than useless if they seek to impose a government from the top down."

That's pretty tough if the insurgents and terrorists are slaughtering anyone politically active.

"Please do not be so naïve as to imagine the US crossed half the world and spent billions of dollars in the pro bono, strings free cause of giving Iraqis democracy."

Why is it so hard for you to belive that democracy is part of the equation? Oh - yeah - that wouldn't mesh with your view that US is really evil imperialist dictator...

"What Iraq needs is an inclusive consensus between its people, not a winner takes all civil war. We are heading for the latter."

The terror groups are driving Iraq there deliberately, and the misguided freedom fighters are leading the way...

Its tragic.
 
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Charles –

“"On the other hand, the targeting of civilians working with the Coalition is a moral dilemma. Legally, it is wrong... Are they not now a legitimate target?"

This slope is quite slippery. Seems that many casualties are simply Iraqi's who happen to be nearby, or anyone that has a job doing anything in 'occupied' Iraq. Putting a bomb in a market or at a religious rally just ain't right. If you add up the victims, you will probably find that the vast majority have been illegaly targeted by any reasonable standard.”

This is indeed a slippery slope.

I for one would say targeting logistical truck drivers qualifies as a legitimate attack, even though they are really de facto civilians doing a military job. But! I can hear you interject: what about targeting Iraqi women doing US soldier’s laundry so that they can feed their families? I would say NO … but … is this not essentially the same as the truck drivers ? Frankly, this sort of hair splitting is a little sick and is reduced to me pointing back at the US and saying “well, you started this by invading Iraq and demolishing the Iraqi civil service and economy. By giving these women no choice in the matter, you bear a burden of guilt as well regarding their safety.”

Naturally, this does not absolve their killers of the moral stain of their murder … but then again, neither are all Iraqis willing to stoop to these levels to eject the US. These are just some thoughts on the matter that I thought I’d throw into the pot.

Look, I disagree with you on the “you will probably find that the vast majority have been illegaly targeted by any reasonable standard” angle.

The question is – do the people who bomb Christian churches, for example, qualify to be counted as “resistance”, given that even the Christian Iraqis are not terribly keen on US occupation? Many bombs are set off anonymously, and it is kind of difficult to tell whether “Shia” militias have done this or if they are US sponsored ‘dirty tricks’ carried out in order to demonize the Resistance. I agree that markets and religious rallies are simply not right to target. I don’t agree that many or even most of those fighting US occupation think that bombing mosques is the way to go. Let’s face it, our information is too limited to make concrete judgements.


I said : "THAT is the real danger here. As is the danger of the entire Middle East erupting in flames."

You said: “I would argue that this is exactly what the terrorist ideologues want. They are driving a terrorist insurgency knowing full well that brute force by nature is a blunt instrument. Escalation of violence serves their purpose because the US (or any military force for that matter) is ill equiped to overcome all of the cultural/language and tactical barriers to surgically remove the baddies. Escalation of terror suits them because it intimidates an historically repressed people from participating in building their own future.”

The answers are Yes and No to your analysis. The ‘terrorists” in my book are Al Qaeda and bin Laden. And your analysis on the escalation of violence is very true. What astounds me is the way that bin Laden is able to play the US like a violin. The more violence the US uses, the more ‘collateral damage’ it creates, because it is fundamentally unable to distinguish friend from foe. The more “collateral damage”, the more that Arabs and Muslims are nudged into the direction of the Al Qaeda types. Politically the US has taken colossal damage in the Middle East. If one compares the time of 2001, where even the Iranians expressed solidarity with the US, to now, where a miniscule 2% of the Egyptian public (a US client state) views the US favourably – well, the scary bearded guy has stomped all over the ideologues in the White House.

Incredibly, the Bushistas keep flailing away in the same old method, by increasing the force used. Not only is this becoming increasingly ineffective, but it provides endless ammunition for the real terrorists. The second important point is that this approach can inevitably only drive the legitimate Iraqi resistance and the Al Qaeda type terrorists closer together … and that is when my “ME in flames scenario” becomes likely.

You said: “Escalation of terror suits them because it intimidates an historically repressed people from participating in building their own future.”

Well, this depends on whether you are talking of Al Qaeda or the Resistance. I do believe that the Iraqi people would like a truly Iraqi country. I doubt whether either the Al Qaeda fanatics or the Neo-conservative fanatics are interested in this outcome.


On the sham Democracy:

How can I put this? The procedures of “democracy” are mostly being followed in this latest attempt. However, this attempt is all aimed at producing a ‘democratic’ Iraq that falls within the boundaries of a US – friendly state. There has been no effort expended to try to accommodate those who view the US as an invader and as a force to be ejected. Rather, Iraqis with these views have been sidelined and targeted for elimination. As far as I am concerned democracy is a system of consensus and compromise. There has been none of this in the US approach to Iraq.

I judge by the actions of the US, not its rhetoric. The initial stages of the US invasion spoke volumes about how it intended to deal with Iraq – as an authoritarian conqueror who would rebuild the shattered country in its own image, with little regard as to what the Iraqis themselves wanted. I put it to you that it has been the extremely successful guerilla struggle and the pressure by hundreds of thousands of Shias that have forced the US into admitting it cannot govern Iraq by diktat.

If the US went about the administration of Iraq by utilizing the existing structures (instead of destroying them), and had adopted a “what do you want done?” attitude instead of “we will do such and such, and this is what you must do” attitude … I put it to you that much of the anger of Iraqis would have been deflated. It is a question of respect. Obviously the US did not respect the people of Iraq when it went in, and is now learning that respect through the barrel of a gun.


You said: “What alternative do you propose? What alternative do the freedom fighters offer?”

I must admit that the insurgency does not have a clear political agenda, beyond that of “throw the US out!”. This is a problem, because if they succeed in their aims there is a real possibility of factional clashes. What is needed is some sort of general gathering and a debate and agreement on the strategy they ought to take. The irony of the situation is this: if the Resistance were united like this, it would be terribly easy for the Americans to engage in the sort of one shot decapitation strike that would end the conflict in large measure. The very fragmentation of the insurgents which is their strength militarily, is their weakness politically.

My solution?

Well, assuming that things have not progressed so far down the road so as to make talks useless – my solution would be for the US to actually make efforts to talk to the groups via intermediaries. To accommodate their demands at least in part, and to set a tentative timeline for withdrawal. Not only at the local level ought they be engaged, but also at the national level, where a national gathering of delegates could discuss the future Iraqi structures to be put in place. Sticky problems like Kirkuk, Mosul and the distribution of oil revenues could be explored. The US would adopt a role of a mediator rather than a dictator. Reconstruction would be opened up to the companies that actually built the stuff in the first place, for example. The flaw in this plan is that naturally without some sort of political referendum one would not be able to precisely guage the support that each group and idea has. Which is why perhaps a national referendum on the questions most pressing to Iraqis might be a viable way forward. I put it to you that given an equitable distribution of revenues and power, coupled with a timetable for withdrawal, even if only tentative, would go some way in settling the country down.

Right now, though, I wonder if the ‘window of opportunity’ for dialogue has not been lost, not to mention my doubt that given the past US conduct in Iraq, that it would engage in such schemes.


You said: “If you are searching for sinister conspiracy theories, try looking at the folks who have something to lose if Iraq goes democratic, represents the interests of the majority, and respects the rights of its minorities.”

Alright, then.

Public Opinion in Iraq First Poll Following Abu Ghraib Revelations
Baghdad, Basrah, Mosul, Hillah,
Diwaniyah, Baqubah
14- 23 May 2004

* After Al Sadr’s fight against the Coalition, 80% of Iraqi opinion of him was more favourable.
*When asked who contributes most to a sense of security, the Coalition received a 2% approval.
*Only 2% saw the Coalition as Liberators, compared to 92% who saw them as occupiers.
*86% want the Coalition out immediately or as soon as a government is elected.
*79% feel insurgent attacks have increased because Iraqis have lost faith in the Coalition
*Only 25% think they want to reinstate the old regime, of which 9% totally agree with this statement.
* 82% felt the insurgents think Coalition was trying to steal Iraqi oil wealth
* 63% felt the insurgents want democracy but do not believe the Coalition is bringing this.



International Republican Institute Poll
September 24 – October 4, 2004

* Only 8 % of Iraqis feel a civil war is likely
* Of those that felt civil war was likely, 50% felt it would be instigated from outside Iraq.
* The countries blamed were either Iran or US/Israel at about 50 / 50 ratios.
* When asked what was causing current Iraqi difficulties, 33% said the Coalition and another 33% blamed foreign terrorists. Only 8% blamed former Baathists.


International Republican Institute
& Independent Institute for Administrative and Civil Society Studies
July 24 – August 2, 2004


* 70% felt that Islam ought to be the basis for law in Iraq
* 73% felt that the Islamic identity of Iraq ought to be retained
* Religiously and Patriotically based parties were the preference of almost 80% of those surveyed


What we can derive from these excerpts is: Iraqis want a government composed of native Iraqis without foreign links or controls. That there is a strong inclination to retain the Islamic character of Iraq, and to base laws with consideration for Sharia. And there is a unequivocal rejection of foreign troops on Iraqi soil. The Baath is not coming back. To this we can add: the foreign countries seen as most likely to forment a civil war in Iraq are Iran, the United States and Israel. I am assuming that the usual anti Israeli sentiments will prevail in a genuine Iraqi government.

Now, given that the US wanted to base troops there, that Israel would be more secure with a broken Iraq and that Iran would like a Shiite arc unified under its influence, I would say that the Iraqis are pretty smart in identifying the players with the greatest stakes and reasons to cause unrest. The big losers in a democratic government? Mainly the US and Israel. Iran too, depending on how strong the Shia – Iran link really is. But I’m guessing Iran might be quietly satisfied with a Shiite dominated Iraq.

Look, the rest of your post is rather subjective. I admit that the US’s first choice would be a Democratic Iraq that would fit into its plans. I don’t think that it causes mayhem just for the hell of it.

But … if a democratic Iraq were to pursue policies reflecting the majority thinking of Iraqis, the US would have precious little to do with the country, not to mention Israel having a rejuvenated democratic enemy. This is why I say America is trying hard to ensure it can manipulate the results to suit its interests. Failing that, using the Shias and Kurds to crush the Sunnis is Plan B. Fair enough that elections are practically impossible under the current climate. Why did the US not hold them when Sistani first proposed them, then, when the violence was less? Because he was an unknown quantity, and because the US had had too little time to cultivate allies amongst either native politicians, nor enough time to get its exiles into place as acceptable candidates.

Hmm. I think you ought to re-read the neoconservative documents on the net and then tell me if they would stand for an independent pro arab, anti Israel democracy in the ME.
 
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Bruno,
If your figures are correct, then by invading Iraq the US may have doomed the Iraqi Christian communities.

Be Well,
 
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