Tuesday, February 22, 2005

 

Talking to Terrorists?


There are now reports that the US administration could be having talks with segments of the Iraqi ‘insurgents’.

For the past 20 months we were constantly told that there was no such thing as a nationalistic resistance in Iraq. There were only mindless killers attacking almost everybody at random, including Iraqi civilians and children.

Is the US administration talking to and negotiating with terrorists?

We all know that it is a firm and constant US policy not to negotiate with terrorists. We can therefore assume that the administration is negotiating with the resistance (or at least one or more factions of it).

The question is when did they discover that there was a ‘resistance’? Have they discovered recently that there was more than group of fighters in Iraq… or did they know all along? If they knew, why did they mislead America and the world? If they had only discovered that recently, that can only be due to gross incompetence.

First, there was no resistance; those killers were just remnants of the old regime. Then there were 4,000 of them, then 20,000… then the head of the new Iraqis security put the figure to 40,000 full time combatants and 200,000 in all. The administration did not confirm…or deny.

Have the original estimates been wrong… or has the resistance increased?

If the original estimates were wrong, that indicates a degree of professional incompetence. If, on the other hand, resistance has increased, it indicates incompetence at the policy level. Will anybody admit either? A lot of Iraqi and American blood has been shed during those 20 months. If those estimates or those policies were not so incompetent, could that blood had been less? Isn’t that important?

Another important question is why? And why now… after 20 months of blood and turmoil?

Having said all that, I think it is a good thing if it is true and if taken seriously. I have already alluded to this in my last post: Iraq, America and the world need to clearly distinguish between people willing to fight for what they see as a legitimate cause and ‘forces of darkness’ that have other, mostly evil agenda.

But for now, let us be grateful for this small step.


Comments:

Amen to: "let us be grateful for this small step".

It appears hypocritical but maybe the U.S. is learning on the fly how to correct itself.

I think it is exciting news.
 
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Negotiations took place with a middle-aged former member of Saddam Hussein regime and the senior representative of what he called the nationalist insurgency. I thought you were admonishing us for not understanding the distinction. Is it not conceivable that members of Saddam Hussein's regime may at certain points over the past 24 months interacted with the 'forces of darkness' - Fallujah comes to mind?

In today's news, The New York Times reports "Radical Islamist groups that originated in Iraqi Kurdistan are responsible for most of the attacks now taking place in the northern insurgent stronghold of Mosul, senior Kurdish officials say."

The New York Times also discloses that "the insurgents have a deep understanding of the complex network of pipelines, power cables and reservoirs feeding Baghdad." "The shadowy insurgency is a fractured movement made up of distinct groups of Sunnis, Shiites and foreign fighters, some of them aligned and some not. But the shift in the attack patterns strongly suggests that some branch of the insurgency is carrying out a systematic plan to cripple Baghdad's ability to provide basic services for its six million citizens and to prevent the fledgling government from operating." "The overall pattern of the sabotage and its technical savvy suggests the guidance of the very officials who tended to the nation's infrastructure during Saddam Hussein's long reign, current Iraqi officials say."

Hopefully, the negotiations are taking place with this branch of the insurgency. If so, they're coming to the table from a position of strength.
 
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Because of the elections?
 
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I just posted with the belief that my country had "learned something" but a few minutes ago it hit me like a load of bricks: (I hate to be cynical about my country) but Bush probably decided to allow negotiations because of what I have just read--recruiting in the U.S. is at an all-time low.
 
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If an independent Iraqi government sits, the US negotiations with the resistance don't matter.

The only useful negotiations would be between the Iraqi government and the resistance, and the Iraqi government could, as a courtesy if it chooses, relay any message to the Americans.

Why start negotiating now, between the elections and when the new government sits?

The good interpretation is that the US is concerned that the new government could come to an agreement that does not satisfy US interests, so the US wants to at least try to commit the resistance and the Iraqi government now to terms acceptable to the Americans.

The bad interpretation is that the US intends to maintain colonial control over Iraq indefinitely and therefore really are the party with which the resistance should be negotiating.

Because in theory, pretty much nothing the current US-installed and controlled government does is binding on the future government, if the good interpretation is true, it represents to some degree waste of effort on the part of the Americans.

I'd rather the Americans concentrated on getting the government seated more quickly, or at least announcing a date.

I take the fact that the seating of the new government apparently is being delayed by the Americans as a bad sign short term and a good sign long term because it shows the Americans are not confident in their ability to control the new government.
 
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Question for Abu Khaleel:

What do you and those around you think about this wait?

Did you expect the new government to be seated sooner after the elections?

Are you hearing any rumors or signs about what positions the next government will take?
 
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Abu Khaleel,

You are smart enough to answer most of the questions you posed. Yet you framed them in very partisan way (I'm not sure if the pun is intended).

"For the past 20 months we were constantly told that there was no such thing as a nationalistic resistance in Iraq."

Former regime elements, Saddam loyalists, etc. They have been called a lot of things. No one ever denied their existence. Saddam's regime was one of the most powerful in all the ME. I would not romanticize them into some patriotic front - although I do not deny that they would love you to frame them in that context, and many angry disgruntled unemployed Iraqis are happy to see them in that light. Do you see the difference? They are not nationalistic. They are out for themselves.

"Is the US administration talking to and negotiating with terrorists?"

Melodramatic rhetorical question?The election was a death blow to the saddamist insurgency. They may continue fighting and killing and destroying, but the clerics and leaders know that the future is democracy. They have failed - and now THEY are ready to negotiate.

You probably don't recall but there were MSM reports that in the months leading up to the elections, US officers would meet with local resistence groups to try to find out if they would cooperate. There were offers of amnesty and weapon surrenders. Is that not negotiating? The big difference now is that the saddamists have lost, and now they will be assimilated into the political process (not all of course).

"If they knew, why did they mislead America and the world?"

I think this type of argumentation is referred to 'straw man' strategy. You create a false argument on behalf of your opponent (a straw man) and then proceed to refute it (knock over the poor unsuspecting and defenseless straw man).

Khaleel, everyone has known from day one that Saddam loyalists and sunni extremists were part of the insurgency. OK?

Now what is left of your post?

"And why now… after 20 months of blood and turmoil?"

Why now after 20 months are they ready to try to integrate themselves into a new Iraq? Well they aren't being conciliatory because they won - are they? They have been asked, begged, pleaded with to participate in an election that they opposed, boycotted, and violently tried to stop from happening.

"But for now, let us be grateful for this small step."

Amen to that. What a friggin waste. But as they say - 'freedom isn't free.'
 
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"If so, they're coming to the table from a position of strength."

Whatever.

There was a fight because they did not want to lose power and they did what any insurgency tries to do - sow chaos, uncertainty, and violence in the hope that things will fall apart completely (US /coalition leaves) and they will regain their positions.

The elections were a clear statement of what the Iraqis wanted (a political and democratic solution), and what they rejected (violence and terrorism).

It seems that all members of the new assembly, as well as US officials, have agreed that sunni interests must be represented in the new Iraq. They can only be represented through political dialogue and inclusion into the process. Those that choose to continue the fight are facing a very grim future.
 
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"If an independent Iraqi government sits, the US negotiations with the resistance don't matter."

I can't wait for this spin...

"The only useful negotiations would be between the Iraqi government and the resistance"

That's just what Chalabi said... Naturally there is no practical use whatsoever to having the US communicate with the groups that are attacking them every day. I mean - gosh - we only have 150000 troops in Iraq - right? There is no point in the US using its leverage to lubricate, as it were, the process of integrating the sunnis. Its not as if there is any enmity between the sunni, shia, and kurd that may require a mitigating force to provide all parties with some baseline guarantees. That's a great idea Mr. Dem - ignore the US!

"The good interpretation is...the US wants to at least try to commit the resistance and the Iraqi government now to terms acceptable to the Americans."

Nah - let them slaughter eachother.

"The bad interpretation is..."

This is what we have all been waiting for...

drum roll...

"that the US intends to maintain colonial control over Iraq indefinitely and therefore really are the party with which the resistance should be negotiating."

I never saw that coming!

"I'd rather the Americans concentrated on getting the government seated more quickly, or at least announcing a date."

Um - I think that's up to the Iraqis. The elected officials are real busy now haggling and negotiating political deals - you know - all that democracy stuff - but I'm sure they will announce the results.

"I take the fact that the seating of the new government apparently is being delayed by the Americans"

OK buster. What evidence do you have that would support your 'FACT' that the US is delaying the new government? How has the imperial US exercized this mystical power to 'delay' the process? I mean, is Bush making crank calls all day to distract them from their work? Has he put the officials under house arrest so they can't go to work?

"it shows the Americans are not confident in their ability to control the new government."

Who on earth does the US control? What country? If we had such lovely powers, why wouldn't we use them more often?

Stop blaming the US - OK. We are not the one's controlling things. Back in 1947 an alien spaceship landed in NM. They were the vanguard of an alien armada from planet mungawunga. They have a very powerful control ray and we have been under their power ever since. They go around controlling people and blame it on us.

There - i've said it. Now you know the truth Mr Dem. That elusive truth you have always felt was just out of reach - but it was there - you knew it was there. And you were right god bless you!
 
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Hello Charles,
Admit that you never thought it would come to this, an enduring insurgency has forced Rumsfeld to the negotiating table-shades of Vietnam! Interesting how everything(the election,etc.) gets spun by the media, except such self evident facts. Please remember this moment next time you recommend pre-emptive attacks on Syria or Iran. 'There are more things in heaven and earth (and hell) than are dreamed of in Bush's[your] philosophy.
 
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Anon,

"an enduring insurgency has forced Rumsfeld to the negotiating table-"

If this gets settled strategically by the end of the year, then it will in fact be the shortest insurgency EVER. The Vietnamese insurgency lasted 30+ years (not including WWII against Japan).

As I said before, US and I'm sure Iraqi officials as well, have done there best over the past 20 months to negotiate with insurgent groups, local leaders, etc., to get them to join the process. The insurgents themselves chose to fight and reject the democratic process. They have admitted that the strategy was a mistake. Of course the only reason it was a mistake is because they failed.

"Please remember this moment next time you recommend pre-emptive attacks on Syria or Iran."

They probably won't be necessary. Unless it turns out that Syria and/or Iran were actively helping the insurgents and therefore committing acts of war against the US, in which case punitive strikes would be justified. I'm not saying they can't commit acts of war, but they shouldn't whine if they get held accountable. But all that probably won't be necessary. In a few years, those regimes you mentioned are very likely to change considerably.

"'There are more things in heaven and earth (and hell) than are dreamed of in Bush's[your] philosophy."

I'm not sure what you think my philosophy is (maybe you better explain). But if you think there is any system of morality in the world that supports cruel, oppressive dictators and ideologies, then you can be sure that I am against it. We can probably infer from Bush's actions that he feels the same way.

All of the death and destruction was the direct result of insurgent/terrorist provocations after the fall of Saddam. Now, if it is true that they will bring themselves into the political process - that they were never excluded from, THEN IT MEANS THAT ALL OF THE SUFFERING WAS DUE ONLY TO THEIR STUBBORN INTRANSIGENCE.

How do you like them apples?

PS - We are talking as though the insurgency is over. I'm sure it will drag out and the insurgents and terrorists will continue to murder and destroy. I do think though that the end is coming, and there will be big changes by the end of the year.

Is that too much to hope for?
 
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Charles, as usual:

"How has the imperial US exercized this mystical power to 'delay' the process? I mean, is Bush making crank calls all day to distract them from their work? Has he put the officials under house arrest so they can't go to work?"

Mystical powers.

How much influence do you, Charles, think the US has over Allawi's current Iraqi government?

Everyone else:

If you're interested, the first claims that the election results were falsified have been made by Scott Ritter.

http://www.ufppc.org/content/view/2295/

"Ritter said that U.S. authorities in Iraq had manipulated the results in order to reduce the percentage of the vote received by the United Iraqi Alliance from 56% to 48%."

Maybe its true, maybe not. I'm sure we'll be hearing more about the elections soon enough.

When the next government sits, we'll see what its members say and what the Iraqi people say.

I am disappointed that that the Americans, through their installed indirect government under Allawi, have not at least set a date for the new government to sit. I had hoped they would actually be sitting by now.

But I have to be at least as patient as the Iraqi people.
 
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[mr democracy] “If an independent Iraqi government sits, the US negotiations with the resistance don't matter.

The only useful negotiations would be between the Iraqi government and the resistance, and the Iraqi government could, as a courtesy if it chooses, relay any message to the Americans.”


True! Which goes to show who is still calling the shots in Iraq, excuse the pun. An arrangement between Iraqis themselves is the solution. Unless, of course, the Bushies are scared that Iraqis come to an agreement that does not take US plans into account (Mr Democracy’s ‘good’ alternative) – which to my mind is not all that good.

These talks could also stem from two other aspects: (1) Perhaps they are intended to fracture the Resistance by discussing terms that are not acceptable to all, and to cause it to implode. That’s probably what I would do if I were in the American’s place, and looking for a military victory. (2) The insurgency has proven its resilience beyond doubt, and the US has realised it must come to an accommodation with it, or face years of conflict. A possibility, but I doubt it. The US military has proven it will take years of casualties before tossing in the towel. Another two years or so of this and they would be sent packing. Now is too soon, IMO.

Previous ‘negotiations’ have already been farces, as exemplified by Charles’ statement: “US officers would meet with local resistence groups to try to find out if they would cooperate. There were offers of amnesty and weapon surrenders. Is that not negotiating?”

No, Charles, that is not negotiating. Negotiating implies that you are giving something as well. Let us turn that statement around. Imagine this press statement:

“The Resistance opened negotiations with the US military yesterday. Their senior spokesman said that once the US soldiers had surrendered their weapons, they would be offered an amnesty and be allowed to leave unharmed.”

Hmm. Sounds magnanimous, no? I’m sure that the Americans would be tripping all over themselves in the rush to accept such generous terms, if only the resistance were to offer them.

No, Charles, that is not negotiating.

Negotiating is saying:

“We know we are invading troops in your land, and we do not blame you for resisting. Nevertheless, we want you to participate in the political process at hand, and we feel that such participation in the long run will benefit both our countries. We want you to stop fighting us, and as a token of our good faith, here is a timetable for our withdrawal, contingent on your good behaviour in the meanwhile.”

Your ‘negotiations’ are merely a display of arrogance, and a mockery of the name. The assertion that they have ‘lost’ is posturing, given that the pace of operations is being maintained at around 60 attacks a day. This latest ‘watershed’ event means nothing if it is not seen as legitimate by the resistance, given that they could conceivably carry on fighting for years and years.

I seriously hope that the current round carries more substance and genuine intent than those that you mentioned. Abu Khaleel is correct in saying distinguishing legitimate resistance and terrorism is a first step.

More amusing statements:

“Unless it turns out that Syria and/or Iran were actively helping the insurgents and therefore committing acts of war against the US, in which case punitive strikes would be justified.”

By your logic, the US helping an enemy of Iran / Syria would be committing an act of war against those countries, and thus retaliation would be justified, right? Oops! I guess Iran is entitled to strike back at the US then, *justifiably*. Thank you for clearing that up, Charles. (Or, does this ‘punitive strikes are justified’ mantra work only one way, as I suspect, and that way would be whichever suits the US the most? Think about what you are saying, Charles.)

“All of the death and destruction was the direct result of insurgent/terrorist provocations after the fall of Saddam.”

Ah, right, I must be from Planet Mungawunga, then. I had imagined that the US had invaded a country, unprovoked, and that the ensuing chaos and violence, both directly attributable to it and indirectly, had caused 100 000 more deaths than would have previously occurred. I had imagined I saw US bombs flattening Baghdad, and US marines slaughtering all who opposed the US vision for Iraq. I had imagined that the US had taken control of every Iraqi asset, and that it continues to hold the purse strings right NOW. I imagined that the complete lack of planning and disastrous decisions taken by the US since arriving had created the mess we are now facing.

Crumbs, I’ll just go back to sleep then.

I refer you to:

Progress or Peril? Measuring Iraq’s Reconstruction i
CSIS Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project
(Executive Summary)

“With the possible exception of the Kurds, Iraqis generally dislike the continued presence
of the U.S.-led military forces in their country; many consider the occupation to be ongoing despite the June 28 handover of sovereignty. The sentiment is caused by
the mere fact of occupation, rather than by the particular qualities and experiences of
this occupation—such as the atrocities at Abu Ghraib prison, civilian deaths, or cultural
insensitivity—although those factors certainly exacerbate it. As such, the United
States should expect continuing resentment and disaffection even if the U.S.-led re-construction efforts seem to be making positive, incremental improvements to the
country according to various quantifiable measures. In other words, the occupation
will not be judged by the sum of its consequences, but rather qua occupation.
Put simply, Iraqi pride in national sovereignty is a more deeply-rooted sentiment
than the United States anticipated.”

Let us repeat this last bit:

“Put simply, Iraqi pride in national sovereignty is a more deeply-rooted sentiment
than the United States anticipated.”

Understand THAT. Understand that YOUR troops are causing the fighting.


And, as a bonus bit of interesting rumour, (that might turn out to be a bombshell) that has surfaced, read this excerpt:

SCOTT RITTER SAYS U.S. PLANS JUNE ATTACK ON IRAN, ‘COOKED’ JAN. 30 IRAQI ELECTION RESULTS
By Mark Jensen

(United for Peace of Pierce County (WA)
February 19, 2005)

“"The former Marine [Scott Ritter] also said that the Jan. 30 elections, which George W. Bush has called "a turning point in the history of Iraq, a milestone in the advance of freedom," were not so free after all. Ritter said that U.S. authorities in Iraq had manipulated the results in order to reduce the percentage of the vote received by the United Iraqi Alliance from 56% to 48%.
Asked by UFPPC's Ted Nation about this shocker, Ritter said an official involved in the manipulation was the source, and that this would soon be reported by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist in a major metropolitan magazine -- an obvious allusion to New Yorker reporter Seymour M. Hersh.”

The rest of the article predicts a June attack on Iran. This could be very interesting indeed, and you can expect much snarling and baying for blood should these allegations turn out to be true.

(It WAS odd, that long delay before the results were released, no?)
 
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Maybe admin hacks were reading blogs and over-saw some blogger saying "I wonder why they don't find out what the resistance wants, I'm sure they don't want to just go blowing stuff up all the time..."

At least, I think that's what I said.

And I guess that's what you said, and I guess word gets around. Still, it is just "word".

I might believe it if I saw a national conference with all resistance factions.
 
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Mr. Dem,

"I take the fact that the seating of the new government apparently is being delayed by the Americans"

I suppose we could theorize how the US could force the Iraqi government to do its bidding. But you posited the 'fact' that the US was using its mystical powers to delay the formation of the new government. What evidence do you have? You may very well have such evidence, I would just like you to share it with US. Thanks.

PS - Chalabi has apparently withdrawn bid for PM post.

"the first claims that the election results were falsified have been made by Scott Ritter."

Hmmmm. Scott Ritter? The guy who told the Senate in 98 that Saddam still had a weapons program, was mocking UN inspections, was a serious threat, etc., etc. Then somehow miraculously, after leaving Iraq for years, decides that Saddam has no weapons and is no threat? Isn't he the guy who has made hundred's of thousands on books and speaking tours playing to the anti-war crowd? Wait - I know - doesn't he work for al jazeera?

Isn't his 'claim' supported by facts such as, mmm, such as, uh - what did he base his claim on? Oh yeah - other people told him. He is probably right because all of those ballots that were being watched by represetnatives of all the parties, UN reps, hundreds of electoral workers, etc., were delivered via US tractor beam to the White House where Rummy and Condi did a secret recount that still left the Shia list with a majority? So they executed voter fraud to reduce the majority from 56% to 51%?
 
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Bruno

"These talks could also stem from two other aspects: (1) Perhaps they are intended to fracture the Resistance by discussing terms that are not acceptable to all, and to cause it to implode. That’s probably what I would do if I were in the American’s place, and looking for a military victory."

You can bet that the US/Iraqi forces are trying to do exactly this. There is nothing sinister about it. They want to bring in to the process as many groups as possible, but they realize full well that some groups will fight to the end.


"Previous ‘negotiations’ have already been farces...Negotiating implies that you are giving something as well. Let us turn that statement around."

OK. Call them negotiations, call them diologues, whatever. Why split hairs? US/Iraq wanted the 'insurgents' to participate in the democratic process. Its not as if they were saying - 'ok, turn over your weapons so that we can rape and oppress you.' They were saying - 'ok, this fighting isn't productive, why not lay down your weapons and participate in the democratic process?'

You seem to ignore this entirely. PArticipating in the political process in a democracy is not cruel and unusual oppression. This is where things are going to end up anyway. Before the elections, the insurgents/terrorists thought they could break the will of US and stop the elections. That was their strategy. Now it has failed so they may as well stop the fighting and bloodshed.

"Your ‘negotiations’ are merely a display of arrogance, and a mockery of the name."

I would think that the insurgents are being arrogant in trying to wear the mantle of a national patriotic front after 60% of Iraqis decided that they preferred political dialogue. We can probably all agree that if there had not been threats/acts of violence against the electorate, that turnout would have been MUCH higher.

Now if the Iraqis had wanted an election, and the US decided to slaughter Iraqis who wanted to vote, then your arguments would be valid. Do you see the difference?

"The assertion that they have ‘lost’ is posturing, given that the pace of operations is being maintained at around 60 attacks a day. This latest ‘watershed’ event means nothing if it is not seen as legitimate by the resistance, given that they could conceivably carry on fighting for years and years."

I agreethat the fighting could go on and on until the last diehards are eliminated. The writing is on the wall. The insurgents/terrorists may not want to read the writing, or accept what it says. Of course any group anywhere in the world could pick up weapons and begin shooting people. If they numbered 1-2% of the population of the country it wouldcertainly cause headaches, death, and mayhem.

"By your logic, the US helping an enemy of Iran / Syria would be committing an act of war against those countries, and thus retaliation would be justified, right?"

Depends what you mean by help. If we were arming, training, financing, and/or facilitating their violent efforts, it would be considered an act of war. If you had read my post more carefully, you would have noticed that I anticipated your response:

"I'm not saying they [Iran, Syria]can't commit acts of war, but they shouldn't whine if they get held accountable."

"Ah, right, I must be from Planet Mungawunga, then."

No. They are the ones who control everything.
 
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An aside...

Could Sistani play a role similar to Washington in helping forge the new Iraqi constitution?

Washington was unanimously chosen to preside over the convention, but during the process he said almost nothing. His legitimacy and influence was so profound that words were unnecessary.

Below is a letter he wrote to a Hebrew congregation after a tour of the state post ratification.

To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport Rhode Island.

Gentleman.

While I receive, with much satisfaction, your Address replete with expressions of affection and esteem; I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you, that I shall always retain a grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced in my visit to Newport, from all classes of Citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet, from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security. If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good Government, to become a great and happy people.

The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the

Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my Administration, and fervent wishes for my felicity. May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington
 
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I thought some of you may appreciate some immediate reaction in Iraq about choice of Dr Jaafary. I was listening to a Baghdad radio station which serves predominantly Shia audience. They held a phone in about the announcement and asked callers to name one priority for Jaafary to work on. Of the 20-25 calls broadcast I would say that about two thirds said national reconciliation was their top priority. Nothing scientific but a good indication of mood in Baghdad.
I should also mention that one caller wanted the new government to alter the newly established official weekend from Friday/Saturday to Thursday/Friday as his top priority... Perhaps he was one of those Mungawungans!
 
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I think in my naiive way we should be less cynical about ANY negotiations. In America we have a way of constantly reinterpreting life in new ways. Maybe it's due to our Christian background of renewal and the celebration of the resurrection of Christ every Spring.

But it's time to be positive for Iraq.
 
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Abu Hadi,

Thanks for the info. Why not ask other Iraqi's to participate here? Your friends, relatives, other anons from Iraqi blogs?

It must get pretty tiresome for everyone to hear equally blasphemous and ignorant hyperbolic diatribes from the likes of Mr Dem and Charles all the time.

A dose of reality would be refreshing.

PS - If the weekend does get changed to Thrs/Fri, it will be irrefutable truth that Mr Dem was right all along. You see, since the US imperial magistrate is guaranteed Sat/Sun as weekend due to his allegience to US norms, adding Thrs/Fri would extend his weekend to 4 days = guaranteed!

Abu Katya
 
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Update:

Australia to increase contingent by 50%.

BRAVO!
 
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Abu Katya,

I am afraid other Iraqis are too busy queuing up for gas to be reading the comments here!

"You see, since the US imperial magistrate is guaranteed Sat/Sun as weekend due to his allegience to US norms, adding Thrs/Fri would extend his weekend to 4 days = guaranteed!"

That won't work Charles.. Those poor US Embassy staff would have to work round the clock if the weekend shifts to Thursday-Friday. One possible solution would be to split the 3000 staff into 2 groups of 1500. Then one group can take US weekend and the other one follow Iraqi weekend. This assumes of course that there are 2 staff to man every one of those functions of representing the US in Iraq. But then that would be a waste of American tax payer money. It would be far more efficient to ask Allawi to scrap the Iraqi weekend before he departs from the Green Zone. With 70% unemployment most Iraqis don't benefit from the decision anyway.
 
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Can anybody post comments on this Blog, Abu, or does your name have to be Charles? Nine of the last 22 are his - appalling American manners I guess.
Your date palm article was very interesting. I’ve long been fascinated for some reason by the transition from hunter-gatherer to farming societies, and you’re of course at Ground Zero for that. (Traditionally put at about 10,000 years ago, but I gather current thinking looks much further back, with the transition intermittently forced by population pressures - it was actually a lot easier and healthier to be a hunter-gatherer. Must try it sometime.)
I guess to Western minds (mine anyway) the word Arab conjures up visions of (a) desert dwelling nomads and (b) Islam, whereas of course the reality is that there’s a history of civilisation, and a gene pool, in the area that long predates Islam. Shove Jafaari in a skirt, give him a spear and a helmet and he’d be a dead ringer for Hammurabi or someone like that. (Chalabi would make a very good fat Pharoah.)
(Interesting here in NZ because archaeology has now firmly established the human presence here as only about 800 years old. I recall recently standing on a rocky Australian shore where they were excavating a shell midden that was dated back at least 40,000 years.)
Anyway, the point I guess is that this whole insane conquest has in a sense been a clash of cultures and civilisations, the brash young US version (which is perhaps not a continuation of European culture but, under illiterates like Bush, something much newer and nastier) versus a people much much older and wiser. Presumably the neo-cons didn’t aim to produce a state that would be aligned with Iran, and probably allied with it before long.
Great going, Charles. Keep the Comments coming. See if you can hog the whole Blog, in your friendly engaging American way.
Circular
 
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Abu Hadi,

"I am afraid other Iraqis are too busy queuing up for gas to be reading the comments here!"

I thought things were much better? Gosh - if you stop paying attention for one minute those freedom fighters will blast another pipeline.

"Those poor US Embassy staff would have to work round the clock if the weekend shifts to Thursday-Friday. One possible solution would be to split the 3000 staff into 2 groups of 1500. Then one group can take US weekend and the other one follow Iraqi weekend."

Who cares about the 'workers'? We are all slaves in one form another to the great neocon imperial magistrates.

I was referring to a long weekend for him!

"With 70% unemployment most Iraqis don't benefit from the decision anyway."

I say they should just scrap the whole socialist statistic of 'unemployment' entirely. If the weekend were extended for the whole week, and no one worked at all, then the statistic would become meaningless.

Hmmmmmmm.....
 
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Circ,

I'm just trying to have a dialogue. Since I am the only person participating here that does not view the US as an 'hegemonic evil empire' or 'dimwitted brute' (depending upon which paradigm suits the particular moment), it leaves me with a lot of work to balance out the lock step uniformity of your ideas. Your statistical research indicates that your opposition represents only 41% of the posts. I'm sure you would prefer no opposition at all. Sounds familiar! I think I'm usually running at around 20-30%. Not sure what caused this spike.

I do apologize about that Washington post. Rather than simply respond to you guys - I threw out something i thought was relevant and inspiring.

Isn't it kind of nice:

"If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good Government, to become a great and happy people."

"It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights."

It is a pivotal moment right now in Iraq. We'll see what happens...
 
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Bruno:

[
Unless, of course, the Bushies are scared that Iraqis come to an agreement that does not take US plans into account (Mr Democracy’s ‘good’ alternative) – which to my mind is not all that good.
]

I just meant good in the sense that it would be one indication that the US has given up on imposing an Afghanistan-style indefinite puppet regime on Iraq.

We have to see. I'm still hopeful. Maybe the Iraqi people are winning.

We'll know a lot more when we see who sits, hear what they have to say and see and what aspects of the country the new government controls.

If the Iraqi people win, maybe the Afghan people will force the Americans to cede independence by mounting a more effective resistance.
 
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Charles: "Since I am the only person participating here that does not view the US as an 'hegemonic evil empire' or 'dimwitted brute' (depending upon which paradigm suits the particular moment), it leaves me with a lot of work to balance out the lock step uniformity of your ideas."
In other words: "Since I am in a minority here, I have a God-given duty to post as frequently and as repetitively as possible, far beyond the bounds of good manners or good sense."
Do you have any actual evidence that you have changed anyone’s mind about anything?
If not, do you think you might further your cause more by restraining yourself to less frequent and more thoughtful contributions?
How about a summary, from your point of view, of the main errors your country has made in this whole enterprise? That would indicate a real attempt at detached thought, honesty, humility and dialogue, and might earn you some respect from the rest of us. Depending on what you say, I would then be happy to reciprocate by listing whatever positives I can think of.
Circular
 
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Circ,

"...I have a God-given duty to post as frequently and as repetitively as possible, far beyond the bounds of good manners or good sense."

Folks like you will find fault anywhere. If I respond to your claims/arguments directly, then I am guilty. If I present a monologue rant (mpeach?), then I would be accused of being just another troll. Personally, I think its more respectful to respond directly to a particular claim/argument. I know that's frustrating because its harder for you to slip away when making exaggerated or false statements.

Mr. Dem for example stated as fact that the US was responsible for delaying the process of selecting the government. I want him to explain why he made that claim. Is there any evidence? Or is it just a fantasy a la planet mungawunga? This forum is chock full of typical claims, and most slip by (I'm not perfect ;-)).

Our esteemed host Abu Khaleel, started this thread with a post that implied that folks like me never acknowledged a resistence beyond the jihadi head loppers. This isn't true.

He made a fallacious inference that the article somehow proved that there was in fact a 'national' resistence. The article mentioned nothing of the sort. The fact that the insurgent presented himself as a representative of the 'nationalist' insurgency, does not make it so. The article admits that the intermediary is a former regime guy and the article talks about the Sunnis. This guy does not represent a patriotic Iraqi insurgency. He represents his group. There are kurdish fundamentalists, shia fundamentalists, suni fundamentalists, sunni baathists, criminals, jihadis, etc., etc. Lots of different groups that want different things.

When I point these things out
You would prefer that someone with differing views acted like a troll so you could easily dismiss them. In any case, if you don't like my posts, just skip them.

"Do you have any actual evidence that you have changed anyone’s mind about anything?"

Certainly not. Should 'your side' stop posting because you have not convinced me? What's your point?

The common strategy of making claims you can't support, patting yourself on the back, and then moving on to the next absurdity is not conducive to progressive argumentation.

Who knows, maybe some people have begun to question their assumption that the US is the root of evil in the world. Probably not I think there might be some moderates here though.

"How about a summary, from your point of view, of the main errors your country has made in this whole enterprise?"

Ah - a conciliatory gesture! OK. But then you can expect to get a similar request from me.

Abu Katya



That would indicate a real attempt at detached thought, honesty, humility and dialogue, and might earn you some respect from the rest of us. Depending on what you say, I would then be happy to reciprocate by listing whatever positives I can think of.
Circular
 
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I think we all have one thing in common: that Iraq should have her day in the sun.

And Charles is a part of our democracy right here so he deserves to have any point of view he desires.
 
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Hello Abu Hadi,
It's good news that the Shia people are open to reconciliation and the election of Jaafari over hard-headed Chalabi looks good. But I don't see a mechanism for properly including the Sunnis in the process, thanks to the 'premature' election. One impossible scheme would have the Sunnis appeal directly to Sistani for an ironclad commitment, another would be to strengthen the 'de-federalization'of Anbar.
I was reading the campaign of the Roman Emperor Julian[a better man than GW Bush] 360AD(Ammianus Marcellinus)in Mesopotamia. Julian actually fought a battle at Fallujah and was mysteriously killed near Samara. The various towns were like city-states, some fighting fiercely, others negotiating terms. Maybe it will come down to a city by city solution.
Allawi is sounding rather sensible lately, having nothing to lose or gain.
Charles,
Something tells me you don't really mind being called 'hegemonic imperialist'.
FYI,it's not a term of endearment.
 
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Charles:

I goofed. I know hard for you to believe, but happens to the best of us sometimes, or lotstimes. Anyway, now that I ate crow, my post to you got on the wrong page, the one with history something, so I'll cut and paste. It been long day today. So for what it's worth I present you with my 2 cents worth to a open discussion on what we have in common being more than what differences we have. We are all subject to the same violence. We here aren't quite used to it, we had 3000 die on one day, The rest of the world has been dealing with more than we can imagine. Count the lives and the destruction of Iraq for just one example. We lost a couple buildings, and human life is just as precious to us as to them. We need to take a look at the conquinces of our actions. Because God could one day say USA, you will be having a test of faith as has the rest of the world.

So here goes:
Charles,
May I make a suggestion? I come in Peace, I promise. But in order for any hope of giving these beautiful people any hope of the life that we ourselves have taken for granted far too long, we must have dialog between the two different clutures. We must respect our host country.

I feel you're like my dad who refused to believe America was anything but godly. "My country, right or wrong" Well, it's our country in the USA, but we are not gods chosen. We haven't beeb able to correct our own election system. So I have no reason to believe the manipulations from us, and anyone else that puts greed and power before the PEOPLE..

Maybe AK or one of the others could turn you on to some reading material that could help you get an idea of what they, the little people, just like us, have had to endure under not Saddam, we already know that was a horror, but what our leaders are forcing our troops to do. And take a look at Cspan for a real balance, not just DOD, or state dept pr. Several web sites from vets returning from Iraq tell quite a different story than Fox, cnn, and others.

If you really care about democracy, don't belittle these beautiful wonderful brave human beings for their anger and frustration. Start by looking up what we did in Falluga (I know i didn't spell it right) Our leaders, and that's civilan mind you not military,sent our kids into that town lying sayin we won, well, they won destroying and killing, but did they catch the perp? No, So that failure followed another assult on what's left. Dogs were eating the dead innocent women and children left to rot out in the street. Because We bombed 2 hospitals for beinging anti american when they protested about not being able to give these sick and dying any assistance. Is that what America wants to show as democracy? Abu Grahib, (forgive spelling) When we last assulted these innocent people in Fllugha, we cut off their water, what little elect they had if any. Dying, starving in bombed out dwellings watching helplessly as family member dies slow death. Pain these people did not deserve.

Do some google Charles, see what the real debate is. Forget Kofi, forget bush, and clinton for a moment. Read actual accounts of observers.

Elections in Iraq, as in the states, are not accountable to the people. So the right to question the goings on behind closed doors is not treason. It is the very essense of a tru democracy, go read some jefforson, ben franklin, tom pain, and see what it says about getting into others business. After all, we lied and they died and continue to die over WMD. Then the excuse to liberate is not so liberating. These fine people will do well, to kick our incompetent lying butts out, keep their oil, water, and don't let the priviate sector steal any more from them. The base isn't just one, it's more like 10 or 13. To me, I'd be very pissed at some tresspasser on my land. Bush would'nt want anyone on his "ranch" The Iraqi's have far more intelligence than the occupation. And they don't have to use tax payers money for fake news or fake plants in scotts world of no speak

I truly wish you would read up on these people. You don't know the whole story from falwell on Islam. I have Muslim friends. They are just like you, well, maybe they're a little more open minded, sorry, but we have fundies in the "so called christian" faith here, KKK for one. They are radical extreme. Falwell and robertson are dangerous because they want to govern us. Well, as a Christian, I don't believe gays are the most evil destructive thing in this country, I believe uneducated fearful people who feel they can only be above what they demonize. Like the blacks, the slaves, woman, and on and one. We're all Gods children, however one wishes to believe. Baptist fundies been shooting up clinics, Osoma is another fundie who has his own devils to shoot.

Please give some effort to close a gap that keeps more in line to the road of peace than a gun.

Peace Charles
Not arguments
Now go sin no more :-)
# posted by mpeachw : 9:32 PM
 
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yeah and Scientologists are brainwashing people...

(Sorry just had to add them they truly scare me).
 
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In my opinion, US is negotiating becouse:

1.) Iraqi Resistance is killing and seriously wounding enough US soldiers and mercenaries;

2.) Iraqi Resistance is in control of all ground routes of supply and challenging the air routes ones;

3.) There is not enough US troops to send to Iraqi and a draft is impossible without another 911 false flag;

4.) US is spending much more money than US is taking by stealing Iraqi oil;

In conclusion: US lost the war - militarily and economically - and is negotiating the withdraw of its troops.

To Charles: be cool. After the withdraw, you will not loose your well paid troll's job. Surely there will be Syrian or Iranian blogs for your work.
 
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He may be a troll but he's not being paid to troll!
 
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Question, for anyone:

Remember when bremmer wrote up I don't know if it was anything like a constitution, but it was said to be a legal document that the occupation cowards hiding behind the "green zone" that basicly signed over all Iraq's what's the word, infurstructer, what I'm getting at they stole under this document rights of everything in your country to privatize your oil (which we all knew anyway) but your water, the seeds the farmers plant will be ones from the monotoso (sp?) that is one of the new gm crops that they have patent on, and instead of you beinga
able to plant your own seeds, you must buy from them. Also, their seeds contaminate by wind or weather, or whatever, they mate or whatever seeds do and you can't replant. You must buy back from the company. The Idigenous in Mexico have been forced off their tiny bit of land where the only way they could feed their family was to grow their own corn. The company sued about 100 innocent farmers here in the states when the company seed was found mixed in with their crops. Yes they DO HAVE company seed police (I'm not joking) watching farmers. Now since the wind blows their crappy seeds to where ever, the farmers are getting not only sued for posession of seeds, these unwanted seeds contaminate the family farmers personal crops making them gm.

Also when we first invaded you guys, I noticed one of the first (it caught my eye because I'm a proud member of Local 3360 AFGE union.) Anyway, heard we locked up and tore up yalls little union and harrassed them. The docment also is a tax give away to the corporate whores bush is rewarding the "investors" who by the way also will not be accountable to anyone. The wages they will pay you guys for your having been stolen from actually posession of what belongs to you anyway, will be sure to keep you in poverty and at their mercy.

Now another question. I read somewhere under UN or international law, woops forget that bush doesn't obey the rule of law, he's the enforcer for everyone else to obey his rule of law. But seriously, I did read that no occupying regime of soverign nation can change or abolish, or replace the occupied countrys original constitution or whatever you call your "laws"

Would it be possible for the Sunni, Shitte, and Kurds, and all the entire population to stand together for the better of yournation and keep the americans out of the piggy bank? And just how will anyone be able to tolerate the 13 or more military bases. I find this most abusive. They should be building yall's cities and give you clean water, and power, and damn it most of all medical supplies and humanitary help to rebuild for you. You guys are more important than another military killing war base. I think some of all this wild west nonsense that's hurting and killing an already fragile situation could give every citizen no matter what differences, forget that, you need solidarity kicking the freeloader "liberators" out of your business.

When someone wears out their welcome in my home, without violence, unless my temper has reached the boiling point, I find ways to make it so uncomfortable you can get rid of the occupiers. I like to torture people with Yoko Ono records, while I sing off key. Turn the heat or air off. My cooking is a sure fire way to get rid of anyone.

Probably works better on next door neighbors or pesky visitors. But people unite and take your country back. And If you would like me to send you a tape of me and Yoko Ono duet, I'm sure it might keep some of the occupiers away and in therapy for a little while :-)

PS. I don't see how bush can attack Iran. We're not even able to bribe 9th graders with rap music or whatever carrot stick they use. I'm more worried about sharron. I don't think this "man of peace" as bush says has a soul. I think the two of these blood thirsty bastards worry me more than N Korea.

Be safe. You always have my prayers.

me
 
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I really shouldn't do this but:

Charles, this is what I wrote:

"I take the fact that the seating of the new government apparently is being delayed by the Americans as a bad sign short term and a good sign long term because it shows the Americans are not confident in their ability to control the new government."

Read it slowly. You are probably the only one who read it who did not understand the statement the first time.

I am to some degree honored that you have found nothing to admit you take issue with in my posts in this thread besides your own inability to understand the use of the words "fact" and "apparently" in the same sentence.

Anyway, this forum without Charles would just give Abu Khaleel an incredibly inaccurate understanding of how people think in the West.

It would take five or six more Charles' for a reader of these comments to get a clear perception of the values and ideas that motivated the invasion.

I would guess that is why Charles' more repetitive posts aren't deleted though the moderator could delete them.

More substantively, I think this delay in seating and transfering power to the elected government is an indication that the US has not been able yet -- through bribes using Iraq's money or blackmail using, among other things, Hussein's old security files -- to retain the level of control over the Iraqi government it hopes for.

I don't know of any reason in theory that power could not have transfered to the new legistlature as soon as the results were known.

The legistlature could then, on its own terms and at the time of its choosing, then transfer executive power from Allawi to its own prime minister.

But for that to happen, Allawi has to transfer power to the legistlature.

I'm sure everyone here remembers the reports of how many people called for postponing the elections but George Bush stood firm and insisted they be held on the original date.

There were no mystical powers involved. The head of state in Iraq, the person for whom the United States paid $200 for campaign assistance is a former CIA asset with no constituency in Iraq outside of the US Embassy. He does what the US Embassy tells him to do.

It seems that George Bush is now standing firm and delaying the transfer of power to the elected government.

As I said before, I think that is an indication of a possible victory for those Iraqis who fought and struggled, violently and non-violently, for Iraq to be -- unlike Afghanistan -- free of US control.
 
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Abu Hadi,

It seems that that lot made the best choice out of three unappealing alternatives. I am impressed.
____________________

Mr. Democracy,

You are perfectly right regarding why I do not delete some of those repetitive comments. Charles is giving me useful feedback on how many people in America think and feel!!! I can’t say I’m much impressed though!

I don’t think they are serving the intended purpose.

Having said that, Charles has as much right as any of us in commenting on issues as long as he remains within the bounds relevancy and decency (even though I sometimes find myself stretching these a bit for his sake:)
____________________

Charles,

I find that the 4th and 5th paragraphs of your latest response to Circular at 1:32 am outline your position regarding my post quite clearly. Wouldn’t it have been enough to use them in the first place and save yourself a lot of effort? Talking (or typing) too much can be counterproductive, don’t you think?

Some of the things are repetitive and I frankly find the recurring “quotes” and one-liner responses slightly annoying to the extent that I sometimes find myself skipping whole paragraphs. You do want us all to read what you write after all.

I am assuming of course that you have no intention of trolling the comments section of this blog ;-)
____________________

Circular,

You raise such an important point regarding the impression you have of Iraqis and Arabs. I assure you that you are not alone. I don’t know whether you still remember the stereotype the media portrayed of this part of the world in the 60’s and 70’s. I know. I followed it closely… and it gave me the ulcer. It was a most massive ‘smear’ campaign sustained for decades. It was done for another purpose and another war!

I find it hilarious that people who devised policies and designed plans for this region, and for Iraq in particular, were themselves unwitting victims to that campaign. They based their assumptions on those media images and not on the actual thing. It was a major reason why some of those dreams went against a wall. Those plans were destroyed by a reality they were not aware of. Serves them right. Poetic justice, don’t you think?
 
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Charles dearest –

If you would but for a moment suspend your private vendetta against Ritter, and read that I said it was a *rumour* that this was the case. Time will tell soon enough if there is any substance to the “cooked elections results” story, and if the details stand up to scrutiny. Please hold your breath until then.

Meanwhile, I heard that there was a Middle Eastern country that was actually invaded and occupied on even less ‘evidence’! I know it sounds totally unbelievable, but there were these outrageous allegations paraded as facts that formed the basis of the casus belli. Apparently one of the big wigs of that invading country even went so far as to perjure himself in front of the UN! Crazy, innit? I’ll be sure to let you know once I uncover more of the story.

On the negotiations: again, the political process was stacked as much as it could possibly have been to favour the US candidates. Given the US behaviour so far, is it unreasonable for the insurgency to distrust the promises made? When they asked for a gesture of goodwill, such as a withdrawal timetable, they were thrown out on their ears. Hello? Whose country is it anyway? Given that the US troops are the cause of the violence and the reason that foreign fighters are tolerated in Iraq in the first place, is it unreasonable to know when they intend on leaving? If withdrawing the troops and reaching an inclusive settlement will stop the violence, what is this US resistance to even *discussing* a timetable? That’s VERY fishy to me.

I just want to also point out that logically speaking, your statement is incorrect: [charles]” after 60% of Iraqis decided that they preferred political dialogue.”. It is quite possible to engage in armed struggle and political dialogue simultaneously. The ‘elections’ are meaningless unless ALL players accept that they have a future in Iraq. We will soon see how the ‘negotiations’ pan out.


[charles] “Depends what you mean by help. If we were arming, training, financing, and/or facilitating their violent efforts, it would be considered an act of war. If you had read my post more carefully, you would have noticed that I anticipated your response:
"I'm not saying they [Iran, Syria]can't commit acts of war, but they shouldn't whine if they get held accountable."”

Well, given that not only did the US supply Hussein with materials for NBC weaponry, but also went further to facilitate their use by providing targeting data specifically for the use of gas weapons to Hussein’s forces … I assume this will fit your criteria for an ‘act of war’? Or are you talking about the USS Vicennes that shot down a civilian Iranian jetliner killing 290 passengers? Would that justify retaliation do you think? How do you think the US would react to another country acting in that fashion? Would that reaction be justified? Or is it the case that Iranian retaliation is unjust but US retaliation is just? Would you say that Iran financing a rebellion in Iraq against the US in retaliation for previous US hostilities against itself would be just? In your opinion, of course.


Abu Hadi --

You said “Of the 20-25 calls broadcast I would say that about two thirds said national reconciliation was their top priority. Nothing scientific but a good indication of mood in Baghdad.”
That is the best news I have heard all day. Assuming that that mood extends throughout Iraq, there is still hope. Of course, if it all works out, don’t forget to thank GW Bush. It was thanks to his sheer unadulterated genius that it was all made possible …
 
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AK,

Yes they have. I still don't trust him. But Dawa Party has my respect for all of their sacrifices. Salam Pax once said he wishes if we were giverned by an alliance of Dawa and ICP! He has a fetish for fighting corruption which is good news too. He could start with Chalabi of course:-)

Circular,

The civilisation thing is interesting. I don't know if you ever seen the series of documentaries by Prof Michel Wood "Legacy". He covers the civilisations of Iraq, Egypt, India, China, Aztec and current Western. Concludes that Iraq's was not only the cradle. But also the biggest conributor to the renaisance as well as a link between all the others and present day civilisation. He makes a memorable comment about Gulf War 1. "Do these Americans realise they are bombing the origins of their own civilisation?" A full circle you can say!!

Anon 1.34AM,

No need to worry about the mechanism for including the Sunnis. It is already in motion. But where is it all leading to is another question. See my answer to Bruno below.

Bruno,

Don't feel too elated. The reconciliation issue runs deep and I believe it is our biggest fault line now. The Baath Party had over 2m members. Contrary to what Fox News analysts think, not all are Sunnis!! What are we to do with them all? Some are already acting as supporters of the insurgency whilst having day time jobs at sensitive ministries. Take the story of the 6 Baghdad Municipality workers. They were having a late planning meeting. Someone (no doubt a colleague) tips off the boys and they wait for them outside the building and have them all shot in the head when they leave the meeting. How on earth can you reconcile with people like this some Iraqis would argue. I myself believe that South African styled Truth and Reconciliation may go some way to help. But we would still have many Iraqis unwilling to forgive when the wounds are so fresh and happening daily. On the other hand ordinary Iraqis are tired... Very tired... They want to get on with their shattered lives and are happy to start a new page on all fronts as long as they can return to some sort of near normality.
 
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Abu Khaleel:

The beginning of negotiations is the best possible news. Why must everyone in your comment section attempt to spin this news to fit their own political agenda or world view? The prospect of settling political differences through dialogue, compromise, and democratic institutions is so vastly preferable, from both a moral and practical standpoint, to violence that it should be embraced without reservation. By this I mean that it should be embraced by all persons of goodwill, be they an American hawk, Global Leftist, European Pacifist, pro-UIA Iraqi, or Insurgent Iraqi. At some point in time in every conflict, each party’s past mistakes and grievances become far less important than moving forward to build a better future. To my mind, this is such a point in time.

Political violence, in general, is morally indefensible in all but the truly exceptional case. In this relatively less polarized, post Soviet Union world, there remain precious few political debates that could ever rise to the level of gravity that would justify settling them with massive death and destruction. For example, are the issues of whether a democratically elected Iraqi government leans more toward social democratic or free market policies, chooses to buy European, Russian, Chinese, or U.S. technology, or pursues closer relations with Iran or the U.S. really worth mass bloodshed?

When you boil down all of the posted partisan comments to their essence, there is really only one main point of contention, that is, the amount of influence the U.S. intends to wield in Iraq. On the one side, Charles posits the U.S. will leave with no strings attached, if asked, on the other side Bruno insists that U.S. must tightly control Iraq in every way to pursue its goal of global empire. The reality is probably somewhere in between, that is, the U.S. will want security guarantees from the new Iraq concerning issues of international security before it withdraws. However, those guarantees are unlikely to be anything that Iraqis haven’t been living with since the end of the Gulf War, such as, limitations on the size of the Iraqi army (big enough to deter aggression by neighbors, but too small for offensive operations), as well as possession of WMDs, offensive missile systems and nuclear weapons materials. An agreement might also include a long term basing rights deal (30 years?), but I think that issue is still up in the air. The economic issues are usually not subject to treaties, but rather depend on the maintenance of good relations between nations. Are such issues really worth all the death and destruction? I think not!

Abu Khaleel, where are all the "moderates," those who openly embrace political dialogue and compromise without all the reservations and self-serving spin? They seem to be quite scarce around here.

Regards,
Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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Mark
"...where are all the "moderates," those who openly embrace political dialogue and compromise ..."
Well, they were pretty thin on the ground in the first GW Bush administration, weren’t they?
You write as though commenters here have expressed disapproval of, or opposition to, any negotiation between the US and the insurgency. I can’t see anywhere that anyone says that. Abu Khaleel’s post was simply expressing a healthy scepticism about the US’s apparent belated admission that there might be a national resistance, having clung last year to a firm belief that all the trouble was coming from foreign fighters and extremist fanatics.
It is important because it seems to me that the key issue at this stage determining the rate and date of any US withdrawal is not, as you suggest, that the U.S. will want security guarantees from the new Iraq: that can come much later. Treaties are in any case made to be broken or revised.
The key issue now for the US in my view is simply achieving sufficient stability within Iraq to allow withdrawal without too much loss of face for GW Bush. He has to be able to say, "there you are, we’ve brought you peace and democracy," because that has become his stated aim for public consumption. You imply that Charles is overly credulous but he represents Bush’s core constituency, much more than the "kill ‘em all" fanatics who infest the Internet.
Circular
 
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Mpeach:
Is it true that America has 13+ military bases in Iraq?

Are they permanent? I guess we don't know that yet!?
 
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Abu Hadi
Re: Civilisation
I haven’t seen the series you mention. I derive some of my thoughts from Jared Diamond, "Guns, Germs and Steel" (or something similar) where he relates the growth of civilisations partly just to the availability of domesticable plants and animals - hence no "civilisation" in Australia, despite its long history of human settlement, lots of civilisation in the Middle East because of the appropriate cereals plus sheep, goats, cattle. Climate obviously also has a bit to do with it - rice cultivation partly dependent on monsoon or extensive irrigation schemes, etc.
Mind you, if Monsanto is able to spread its "Terminator" genes around the world, the face of agriculture may well be changed for good anyway.
Circular
 
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Don’t want to do a Charles and post too much, but could I recommend this article from the latest Time magazine?
http://www.time.com/time/columnist/karon/article/0,9565,1029937,00.html
I think it relates rather well to what some of us have been saying on this Blog about US attitudes that are not founded in reality.
Developments in Iraq should possibly take a more reasonable direction if this emerging awareness of the limitations of THE superpower leads to a less heavy-handed approach there.
Circular
 
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Mark --

As a matter of fact, you have exaggerated my position somewhat. To be quite honest, your probable scenario of:

[mark] “However, those guarantees are unlikely to be anything that Iraqis haven’t been living with since the end of the Gulf War, such as, limitations on the size of the Iraqi army (big enough to deter aggression by neighbors, but too small for offensive operations), as well as possession of WMDs, offensive missile systems and nuclear weapons materials. An agreement might also include a long term basing rights deal (30 years?),”

is disagreeable enough to me already, without considering the fact that de facto America controls just about every asset of value in Iraq right now. Basically, you envision the US would want a “tame” Iraq that will be severely restricted in terms of military power and military options. I agree that this *is* the likely scenario.

Given that Saddam Hussein was “THE” factor in invading, and that the new “democratic” Iraq would presumably reflect the will of its people rather than the will of a single megalomaniac, what possible justification can be given for neutering Iraqi sovereignty in such a method? Only nefarious motives on the part of the United States come to mind. Would the US accept terms like that from another country? I put it to you that a serious suggestion by another country (France, Germany, whoever) that the US military be curtailed to a merely defensive level would not only be greeted with howls of derision from your government and people, but a huge fuss would be made about the sovereignty of the USA being threatened by that ‘evil’ country.

A weak Iraqi military would serve the US purpouse well, in that it would be dependent on American muscle for backup and guidance and a SOFA agreement might conceivably last for well over 30 years. I also don’t see how restricting Iraqi access to NBC weaponry etc. can be justified, given that many other countries including the US stock such weapons, and indeed, continue developing them.

Now, this is the important bit.

The only justification that could be made in order to curtail Iraqi NBC acquisition and military strength is that Iraq has invaded other Gulf countries in the past. Now, setting aside the actual casus belli for a moment, was the responsibility for these invasions not ultimately laid at the feet of Saddam Hussein? Was there not a distinction made between Hussein’s will and the will of the Iraqi people? To argue that the Iraqis themselves were supportive of his wars and policies would pretty much be arguing that Hussein had popular support and legitimacy as a leader. Now, obviously that would be undermining the whole argument made in favour of invading and against dictatorships. Because of course, it was due to Hussein’s influence that the gulf wars occurred. Right? (Otherwise, the US would be against Iraqis as a whole.)

So, given that a democratic Iraq is a fully sovereign country reflecting the will of its people, what reason could there be to curtail the Iraqi military? The only reason that I can think of is that the US fears that a democratic Iraq might conceivably oppose its plans and allies in the region, and hence it would be best to retain control of Iraqi foreign policy in the form of limiting its military capabilities. That is not sovereignty, and verily smacks of hypocrisy.


If this is the US plan, then it is doomed to failure. Nationalist Iraqis have made it clear that they will continue to fight for as long as US troops are in Iraq, and I can pretty much assure you that the Shia did not risk their lives and limbs to vote for quasi-sovereignty.

[mark] “Are such issues really worth all the death and destruction? I think not!”

You will find your answer to that when you ask yourself how the American public and military would react to similar plans for the US. Why should Iraqis be any different?


Abu Hadi --

Perhaps I was over optimistic. Nevertheless, national reconciliation is THE biggest step towards a better, integral Iraq. The dialogue that is starting between the various groups is of the greatest importance, and even though there will be a very rough road to tread, it is these first steps that count.

I wish you luck.
 
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Bruno:

You wrote, "The only reason that I can think of is that the US fears that a democratic Iraq might conceivably oppose its plans and allies in the region, and hence it would be best to retain control of Iraqi foreign policy in the form of limiting its military capabilities."

You really ought to read a little more history and use a little more imagination. Several times in recent history, a serial aggressor that has lost a significant war has been punished by limitations on its military capabilities. See e.g., Weimar Germany, as well as post-WWII Japan and Germany. Such actions have been taken even when the old regime, that was responsible for the aggression, had been removed. The reason for such limitations is absolutely obvious, that is, the victors don't wish to re-fight the same war if the losers re-arms and once again become aggressive.

In the case of Japan, it currently retains the pacifist constitution imposed on it by the U.S. after WWII. It is my understanding that many in Japan are quite attached to that document and have strenuously resisted international pressure to expand the Japanese military in order to carry its fair share of the world security burden.

Thus, your suspicions and innuendo concerning nefarious U.S. intentions for seeking military limitations are ill-founded. Also, as Iraq will one day rebuild and be a relatively well off country in the region, its neighbors (Israel for sure, but also are the KSA, Kuwait, Iran, Turkey, etc.) are also keen on ensuring that Iraq's military is limited in some reasonable way. Or perhaps, you prefer the specter of a future Middle East arms race being touched off, if another Iraqi despot were to gain power.

Further, after all of the suffering that Iraq has endured as a result of its and other's military adventures, I seriously doubt whether there is currently much support in Iraq for building the large military necessary to sustain substantial offensive capabilities. As such an endeavor would drain a substantial amount of resources away from rebuilding the devastated economy, I suspect a properly conducted survey would find support for the aggressive spending necessary to regain Iraq’s offensive military posture to poll in the low single digits.

Furthermore, what legitimate purpose would such a large, offensively configured Iraqi military serve?

As to how I would react to the U.S. being bound by similar limitations on its military, I would be absolutely thrilled, provided that there was practical, less costly mechanism to ensure U.S. and international security than having the U.S. maintain a disproportionate share of the global security burden. For example, the other nations of the world, particularly the relatively rich European ones, have woefully inadequate power projection capabilities, to the extent that, their military forces would be nearly impotent (without U.S. logistic support) should intervention in a world hot spot become necessary (e.g., substantial worsening of the conflicts in Darfur, Bosnia or Kosovo). Now, if you South Africans (or Kiwis, Circular) would just pick up the European’s slack and develop five or six aircraft carrier groups, significant airlift capabilities, and a few strategically located foreign bases, we Americans could put some of our military budget to better use on domestic projects at home.

Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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Bruno:

You wrote, "The only reason that I can think of is that the US fears that a democratic Iraq might conceivably oppose its plans and allies in the region, and hence it would be best to retain control of Iraqi foreign policy in the form of limiting its military capabilities."

You really ought to read a little more history and use a little more imagination. Several times in recent history, a serial aggressor that has lost a significant war has been punished by limitations on its military capabilities. See e.g., Weimar Germany, as well as post-WWII Japan and Germany. Such actions have been taken even when the old regime, that was responsible for the aggression, had been removed. The reason for such limitations is absolutely obvious, that is, the victors don't wish to re-fight the same war if the losers re-arms and once again become aggressive.

In the case of Japan, it currently retains the pacifist constitution imposed on it by the U.S. after WWII. It is my understanding that many in Japan are quite attached to that document and have strenuously resisted international pressure to expand the Japanese military in order to carry its fair share of the world security burden.

Thus, your suspicions and innuendo concerning nefarious U.S. intentions for seeking military limitations are ill-founded. Also, as Iraq will one day rebuild and be a relatively well off country in the region, its neighbors (Israel for sure, but also are the KSA, Kuwait, Iran, Turkey, etc.) are also keen on ensuring that Iraq's military is limited in some reasonable way. Or perhaps, you prefer the specter of a future Middle East arms race being touched off, if another Iraqi despot were to gain power.

Further, after all of the suffering that Iraq has endured as a result of its and other's military adventures, I seriously doubt whether there is currently much support in Iraq for building the large military necessary to sustain substantial offensive capabilities. As such an endeavor would drain a substantial amount of resources away from rebuilding the devastated economy, I suspect a properly conducted survey would find support for the aggressive spending necessary to regain Iraq’s offensive military posture to poll in the low single digits.

Furthermore, what legitimate purpose would such a large, offensively configured Iraqi military serve?

As to how I would react to the U.S. being bound by similar limitations on its military, I would be absolutely thrilled, provided that there was practical, less costly mechanism to ensure U.S. and international security than having the U.S. maintain a disproportionate share of the global security burden. For example, the other nations of the world, particularly the relatively rich European ones, have woefully inadequate power projection capabilities, to the extent that, their military forces would be nearly impotent (without U.S. logistic support) should intervention in a world hot spot become necessary (e.g., substantial worsening of the conflicts in Darfur, Bosnia or Kosovo). Now, if you South Africans (or Kiwis, Circular) would just pick up the European’s slack and develop five or six aircraft carrier groups, significant airlift capabilities, and a few strategically located foreign bases, we Americans could put some of our military budget to better use on domestic projects.

Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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Mark
"...provided that there was a practical, less costly mechanism to ensure U.S. and international security than having the U.S. maintain a disproportionate share of the global security burden ..."
US security? What possible threat is there to the US of invasion by anyone in the foreseeable future? How much of your armed forces are really needed for defence against this?
The UN is very far from perfect, but it can work effectively as a world mechanism available to deter naked international aggression, as in Kuwait. (Or Korea, many years ago.) Particularly in the post cold-war environment. But this sort of conflict is I would suggest likely to be very rare in the next few decades.
Much more complex is the question of whether and when the UN should intervene in countries with internal problems, usually ethnic/religious (Rwanda, Yugoslavia) or those with corrupt, repressive or rogue regimes (Iraq, North Korea, Burma.)
These are matters to be worked on, but I would suggest that the solutions will not be helped by the single superpower unilaterally deciding where and when and how it will intervene. Action in Iraq would have gone much better if time had been allowed for the world to reach a substantial measure of agreement that it was absolutely necessary. Germany and France and Russia were rightly not convinced by the WMD evidence. In time they may have come to see the necessity of freeing Iraq from the Hussein regime. But it wasn’t vitally urgent.
A good leader leads above all by example. A well-intentioned superpower is probably an asset to the world and would be a testimony to the greatness of America. But you yourself have stated that US motives (or George Bush’s motives) in Iraq were, at best, mixed.
Circular
 
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Mark --


Hmmm. What you are in fact saying in your post is that you do not trust Iraqis and view them as serial aggressors, despite the fact that much has been made of the difference of Saddam Hussein’s policies and those of regular Iraqis. Obviously you feel that an Iraqi democracy might well undertake similar policies to Hussein’s. Then, I ask you this: what exactly was the purpose of deposing him? I thought the whole rationale was that HE was a danger to peace and that once HE was out of the way, a peaceful democracy would serve as a model for the rest of the ME. I take it that you do not agree with the Bush administration’s rhetoric on this matter, then.

A strong argument can be made that the US is itself a serial aggressor. That is why I agree with you that a drastic reduction in US military strength would serve the purpose of world peace greatly. However, as I was previously implying, YOUR voice is a minority on this matter. While I admire your multilateral stance on this, the reality is that most Americans would hang you from the nearest lamp post were you to suggest such a heresy.

Unfortunately, the US would have to lose a major war against the rest of the world and be disarmed by force in order to constrain its ambitions in future; that is an unlikely and terrible prospect.

(As to me reading more history … :) You are preaching to the converted. May I point out that German national resentment at being raped at Versialles and at being restricted to a toothless military were major factors contributing to the rise of Hitler to power. The same as Germans, Iraqis are proud people, and I’m guessing that you would run a similar risk if you tried to pursue the same path.)

The purpose of a powerful Iraqi military would be for self defence, of course. For example, the idea of ‘pre emptive’ strikes on hostile opponents has been much touted lately as an effective means of defence by some pretty important global players.

Secondly, having a military that is virtually toothless to strike back at another country in retaliation for attacks on oneself is a useless military. Furthermore, a strong Iraqi military could easily fit into your frame work of intervening in the world’s hot spots if necessary. IF you trust Iraqis, of course, and the tone of your post strongly implies that you do not. How would Iraqis feel if they were legislatively constrained to a microscopic military, and a future regional despot (Saudi Arabia, say, or Israel) decided to throw its weight around? Or have you not considered the possibility of ME countries other than Iraq being an aggressor?

My personal view is that reductions in the Iraqi military capability ought to be matched globally. Your vision of defensive militaries is agreeable to me. Of course, this proposal is ludicrous if one considers today’s global environment and attitudes, which means that I have just wasted a paragraph in typing this out.

And, I agree that we are talking about future ‘maybes’. I agree that at this point in time Iraqis need to focus on solving their internal problems first, and spending money on reconstruction rather than guns. Our ‘strong Iraqi military’ scenario’ would not occur for at least a decade.


Circular --


I tend to concur with much of what you say here. Often when one says that a greater share of the global burden of peacekeeping and mediation should fall to the UN, Americans scoff at the notion, and point out how useless the organization is. They point out that unilateral US action is better. Well, they do have a point when they criticize the UN, and when they jeer at the botched job it did of managing the oil revenues. There is much room for improvement. However, instead of sitting back and laughing at the organization that THEY, after all, played a major part in establishing, would it not be better to get involved in the *reforming* and strengthening of the world body? Unless, of course a strong world body stands in the way of national ambitions …?
 
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I must admit, I do not keep up with the situation in Iraq as closely as I should. Much as many Iraqi's know nothing of my situation, but only of the policies set by a Government that is elected by us, yes, but from an Aristocratic pool of "Politicians" which means that we, as American people, are not able to affect much change simply by voting for one of the choices we are given.

This comment is not addressed to the Iraqi people, or any group, but only to Abu Kahleel, because I do not know the general views of the Iraqi people, but only those he has stated on this site.

My question for you is this. What do you want from us? You do not seem to give Americans any options. In your previous article you talk about Binary America (which is no further from the truth, it is only Republicans and Democrats who adhere to that philosophy, who unfortunately happen to be the "pool" of which I spoke) and then in this one, you lay out two options, both of which make Americans wrong. Which is not even binary, it's just nary.

If you allow yourself to make broad generalizations of the American people based off of the policies of our government, how do you expect the American people to be above making the same generalizations where the Middle East is concerned?

I would suggest attempting to get to know some of those American soldiers who are doing their duty by going where our government sends them on a more personal level, but I know they'd probably shoot you if you tried, as most of your country-men who have approached them in such a manner had bombs strapped to their chests, and they have seen peices of their best friends scattered accross the road.

If Americans could understand the goals of people who fly 747s into sky scrapers, we might be able to understand that, though many in the Middle East might share those goals, they are not all fanatics, and do not agree with the methods terrorists utilize.

Insurgents are different from terrorists, in that they are common men defending their homeland against our invasion. Whereas terrorists brutally attack civilians for reasons we cannot understand. If their goal is for America and "Western Civilization" to stop interfering in their affairs, how did they expect such an attack to succeed?

If your goal is to have the world leave you alone to govern yourselves, then it is your duty to speak out against people in your own community that would instigate hostilities. The sooner the Iraqi people stand up for their right to live in the manner they choose for themselves, the sooner the world will leave them to it.
 
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