Monday, June 05, 2006

 

America in Iraq: Evil or Incompetence?


Have the chaos that followed the American invasion of Iraq, the subsequent breakdown of the country and the spread of senseless violence been largely due to totally unforeseen factors or were they due to incompetence?

If it was incompetence, was it incompetence at the planning / administration level or at the execution level?

Is such a level of incompetence possible?

Or… was it due to evil intentions at the planning level that created conditions leading to incompetence at the execution level?


Comments:

Comments on the previous thread were again building up. So, I thought I would start a new (more focused) one before somebody starts complaining!!

I guess it is my turn to ask questions - questions that have been on my own mind a lot recently. I feel I already know Cicular’s answer.
 
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I would have to go with incompetence at the administrative level, I think there is ample evidence to back up that position. I do not see any evidence of evil or poor execution.
 
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Via one of the on-line Assyrian magazines I peruse, I ran across a paper from 2002 detailing an intent to divide Iraq between the Kurds, the Shi'ites, and the Sunis under Jordan. I believe the reference was in Zindamagazine.com

Part of the issue seems a willful and active campaign of American ignorance. There also seems to be a refusal to acknowledge that situations might be complex and require something more than 'small-town American values'.

Be Well,
Bob Griffin
 
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Good to see you Abu Khaleel. It has been a long time. I don't feel like fighting as much as I used to so have have not been keeping up with the comments, but I get an rss notice when you publish a new post.

I'll say two things I've said before. It is certain that the occupation did not go the way the US planners wanted it to go. It is also certain that the occupation was not planned to go the way the occupational planners told the public they wanted it to go.

Have you read this?

It was written before the occupation began, by a US political writer and every conspiracy theory I've attributed to the US, it expresses as if it was common knowledge in the US political class.

I first read it this year and was shocked. I thought, "You knew this beforehand?" - I believed it beforehand but thought I had unusual insight and honesty about US motives.

Anyway, the plan was to create a pro-US Iraq that was democratically "somewhere on the spectrum between Jordan and Turkey". Meaning somewhere between an authoritarian government maintained by a US trained and affiliated secret service and a state whose foreign policy has been removed nearly entirely from the democratic process.

On the other hand, a mess that would cause Americans to have no choice but to get more deeply involved in the Middle East was also an acceptable outcome for the planners.

The shocking things are that it was written before the occupation and the tone is matter-of-fact. Those were the plans and basically everyone except the US public that was given a distorted version of the plan knew it.
 
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I think it was evil intentions and incompetence on the part of the current US administration.
 
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Abu Khaleel,

Much as I despise US foreign policy, I don’t believe that they deliberately went into Iraq with a strategy to destroy your country. I believe that America merely wanted to completely subvert Iraq to its control, and use its oil and land for its own purposes. The thief that comes to your house rarely wants to kill your entire family into the bargain just out of spite. I believe that if Iraqis were willing to be slaves in their own land, that things would have been different. (I agree with Mr Democracy, in other words.)

However, when through a mixture of US incompetence, corruption, ignorance and Iraqi resistance things started rolling downhill, (and that this plan seemed unlikely) America took the gloves off and started playing nasty. US policy is flexible in its approach to getting what it wants. If a united, subservient Iraq seems impossible, well then a fragmented, toothless Iraq is almost as good.

The bottom line for America in Iraq is: oil and bases.

I’m guessing that in the final analysis, the neo-cons don’t care if Iraqis are starving and subsisting in, as Zeyad from Healing Iraq described, a 7th century theocracy, as long as those two goals are attained. The “democracy domino” theory and the “fighting terrorism” theory are at best deluded fantasies by a clique of naïve ideologues … or more probably these are mere smoke and mirrors parlour tricks to keep the masses occupied.

Hypocrisy, in other words.

(Telling to me is that the main demand for the covert “Iraqi Resistance” talks with the US was a timetable for withdrawal. This in return for participation in the process and a cessation of violence. They were turned down flat. This speaks volumes to me, given that the only rationale left for the US for remaining in Iraq is to ‘stop the fighting’ or some such nebulous goal.)

Now, I’m talking about the big picture (in Iraq) here.

If you want to go into details, I can talk of the obvious repercussions of a sudden power vacuum, the obvious repercussions of increased ethnic / religious tensions in Iraq, the obvious incompatibility of the US army and guerrilla warfare and the obvious incompatibility between US and Iraqi goals for Iraq. The ideologues either ignored these problems or thought they could “alter reality” so as to use these problems to their advantage.

I’m most sorry that young Iraqis and Americans are dying for the warped visions of these fanatics, and that they will escape unscathed.

In fact, they’ll probably be lauded as heroes in some circles.

It nauseates me.
 
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Mr Democracy –

That article by Joshua Marshall is pure gold.

Thanks.

It sums up the neocon policy in a nutshell in an uncompromising light that reveals them for the nuts they are. In retrospect, can we, and more to the point, can Americans afford an expansion of this war to Iran, Syria and similar countries? I don’t think the sequence of events is as irreversible as the neocons think it is.
 
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Hello Abu Khaleel,
I remember when the war started some Arab commentators said that 'it would unlock the Gates of Hell', which sounded at the time like a total exaggeration. It was hard to see why it would be so; the military campaign was very fast, the Iraqis were modern,etc. But Chirac, who fought in Algeria was the most pessimistic.
As with WMD, they chose to ignore the ME experts and are being punished for it at every turn. They chose to ignore the consequences of occupation. Is that evil or stupid?
Right now, the US would LOVE for the Iraqis to tell them to leave.
But as Colin Powell said, 'You break it, you own it'.
Powell and Bush 1 were smarter( and more evil?) and left Iraq to Saddam in 1991.
 
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I have said, and continue to maintain, that the reasons for America's invasion of Iraq were as follows:

1. To move the battlefield to the land of the agressors.

Now, I don't mean Iraq itself was responsible for attacking America, only that the Middle Eastern people, and radical Muslims in particular were responsible.

2. It was lead by a dictator.

That dictator was a known enemy of the American people, someone who the American people could get behind blowing the hell out of. It also lead people to believe that Iraqies would fall all over themselves kissing the boots of the Americans who freed them from their oppression. This was not the case.

3. Iraq is a powerful country in the Middle East.

It is also a modernized country with a strong industry and infrastructure. After select areas were blown to hell it would be simpler and cheaper to rebuild than it would be in other countries such as Afghanistan which would have to be built from scratch.

4. Iraq is centralized.

By taking and controling Iraq the U.S. physically divides the Middle Eastern sector.

Unfortunately I have to go build a deck . . .
 
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"Why doesn't Mr Bush confess that, by his conduct, he's made America, the American nation and America as a country, despised in the world? Why don't you confess that you've been weakened? Why don't you confess that your blade has gone blunt in the world?"

Who said that? Was it that cynical Circular Kiwi?
No, it wasn't me, it was Ayotollah Kahmenei of Iran, actually, in a speech a few days ago. Sounds like me though.

I don't think "incompetence" quite cuts it, Abu - it implies failure through lack of necessary skills and training. With all due respect to Mr Democracy and Josh Marshall, that's not what's happened here - it's been more a matter of unrealisitic or impractical goals from the start. Not a clumsy surgeon botching an operation, but a crazy one trying to do something that was bound to kill the patient anyway. The whole idea of enduring American hegemony in the Middle East and around the world was out of date, based on misconceptions about what could be achieved by military might alone.

I mean, these guys didn't sit down and say, "OK, here's what we'll do: we'll invade Iraq on false pretexts, so we can get our Army bogged down in a guerilla war, and run up an incredible deficit to finance it; and we'll ensure that Iraq becomes totally destabilised with a theocratic Shia "government" aligned with Iran and inevitably hostile to our interests; and we'll do it all in such a way that we alienate most of the world and make ourselves objects of ridicule." Did they?

Would'nt "folly" be a better word than incompetence? Or how about "insanity?" Isn't possible to be very cunning and clever and devious in some ways, like conning the public and stealing elections for example, and still be just plain downright loony underneath it all? Deluded. Dumb as a stump.

How about "stupid?"

Todays paper has the following: "The biggested existing US embassy, in Beijing, has five buildings within 4 hectares. The $580 million Baghdad mission's 42 ha site will contain 21 buildings."

Gigantism gone mad? Imperial overstretch? Isn't there a 50% chance that within 5 or 10 years it'll suffer the same fate as the one in Tehran did?

"It is only in recent weeks that Iraqis have begun to realise the new complex is being built. A newspaper questioned why the US had been given land for free instead of having to pay the market price."

Probably because they weren't given it, they just took it. Not necessarily because they're evil, or incompetent. Just stupid.

Wonder if they need any decks built at the new embassy. Job for you there, Patriot.

Circular
 
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Speaking of embassies: there was an amusing little snippet on the local news a week ago. Apparently it is US policy to have a detachment of Marines stationed at every embassy worldwide. Someone overlooked NZ, or we were last on the list, because ours have only just arrived, with a nice little ceremony at the embassy tp welcome them. Six of them, including a cute girl one. (A Femarine? Gynorene?) They looked gorgeous stomping around in their pretty uniforms.
God knows what they're meant to do all day - protect the Ambassador from wandering sheep? He's managed fine for many years without them, but perhaps the sheep are getting fiercer these days.
(Be interested to know if they were allowed to bring their guns with them - the NZ Police are very particular about not having armed foreigners wandering around, especially ones with unsavoury reputations. They delayed the arrival of the President of Pakistan on his visit last year while they politely but firmly disarmed his bodyguards. Still, maybe these are a better class of Marine than the Heroes of Haditha.)
Probably they're just meant to stand at the gate and look intimidating.
Anyway, for some reason what they reminded me of was the British Guardsmen on the gates of Buckingham Palace - splendid anachronistic relics of a long-vanished glory. And that in turn reminded me of the Last Night of the Proms - the finale of the annual Promenade Concerts in London, which always conclude with the audience belting out an unashamedly nostalgic rendition of Elgar's imperial anthem:

Land of Hope and Glory
Mother of the free
How shall we extol thee
Who art born of thee
Wider still and wider
May thy bounds be set
God who made thee mighty
Make thee mightier yet
Ta-da-da
GOD who made thee mighty
Make thee MIGHTIER yet.

I'm a bit surprised that the American right - the "sole superpower, world policeman" types - haven't adopted that one as their own theme song. It seems to fit their mindset exactly.

Perhaps they're mindful of what happened to that previous world policeman in the long run.

Circular again
 
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American Patriot –

The reasons that you list are certainly plausible, and fit into the overall neo-conservative theme. It still doesn’t, of course, make the war right. The irony is that Al Qaeda hit the US, and the US hit Saddam … who was certainly no friend of Al Qaeda! So I reject any linkage of the invasion of Iraq to have anything to do with terrorism, or the fight against it.

Btw, when you say build a deck … you’re not talking about MtG, are you?


Circular –

I think that as long as the Marines keep their guns on them INSIDE the embassy grounds, they are legally OK. I also would not want armed foreigners traipsing around my country. Btw, as an observation, there are people that suggest that creating a deficit would fit into the neocon plans for societal remodeling in the US. It gives them and excuse to cut social welfare plans and to further depress the standards of living. The result of which, of course, would be to force labour over a barrel and oblige them to work harder for less. I laugh every time I run into some poor redneck from the sticks who defends the very people who are planning to rip him off forever and anon.



PS -- looks like they finally 'got' Zarqawi, or whoever they said was him. All done, go home.
 
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American Patriot,

I was thinking about what you said when I read something about Albert Einstein who was not only a brilliant scientist but also a decent human being of outstanding qualities.

He is reported to have once said: "No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it."

Bruno,

Another "Mission Accomplished"?

I was shopping today when the news broke out. I could not detect a trace of interest from a single person. Someone even said aloud that he sensed something was going to happen when he saw that video clip some time ago. What an odd people!!
 
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Bruno wrote:
"Much as I despise US foreign policy, I don’t believe that they deliberately went into Iraq with a strategy to destroy your
country...The thief that comes to your house rarely wants to kill your entire family into the bargain just out of spite. I believe that if Iraqis were willing to be slaves in their own land, that things would have been different.."



The intention wasn't to destroy the country completely and kill everybody, but it wasn't to rebuild either. (Iraqi's infrastructure is worse now than before we invaded, and it wasn't very good then. The country is contaminated with depleted uranium. There is no government and little in the way of law and order.) And who would expect Iraqis to be willing slaves in their own land.......?



It's hard to accept, but we need to swallow the pill of reality. This country is capable of some evil shit.
 
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Bruno, I was talking about the good old fashioned wooden kind. Which, naturaly, we did not pound nail 1 into building. The guy I was supposed to be helping wanted a permit, so we spent the rest of that day in the City Planning Office which was an exercise in futility and reminded me why I hate beaurocracy in America. It is the tool that has historically been used by democratic governments to enslave and control their people and I was ready to burn down the entire building. Circular doesn't begin to describe the runaround. I mean, how hard should it be to get a permit to remove a rotting deck and build the exact same thing in its place? In a truly free world it would be done already.

Anyway, back to my original point. The reasons I listed above were some of the main reasons for invading Iraq. While you maynot believe the invasion of Iraq was to combat terrorism, Bruno, I would have to say you were wrong. While Saddam may not have supported Al Quaeda, that is but one terrorist faction. Iraq is not only centralized in the sector but also amongst the various factions which divide the Middle Eastern people. The Kurds, the Sunnies and the Shiites. (Apologies for any mispellings, its not my strongsuit in English, much less foreign words.)

By establishing a strong, unified government in Iraq, the U.S. create an entity which is capable of policing its people and acting as a deterant upon the neighboring countries. If this new Iraq is allied with the U.S. so much the better for us. If not, well, at least it will be certain they will have their own interests at heart and will not want another foriegn invasion. Furthermore, the terrorists seem intent on attacking any such institution and so we will have an ally in the War on Terror whether they are cooperative or not.

What amazes me are the people who proclaim themselves "victims" of this war yet they do not see that they have been saved by it. Such as the thirty suspected terrorist prisoners who were recently released back to Afghanistan. Many of them claimed they were falsely imprisoned and were rather upset about this. Yet, had it been a terrorist organization which imprisoned innocent americans, they would a) still be in prison b) have been tortured to death in establishing their innocence c) beheaded as an "example to the infidels" or d) murdered outright to cover up the group's incompetance at arresting the wrong people. Because they were held captive by americans they are alive and well, and probably better fed then they would have been had they been free, to complain about their imprisonment.

"Have the chaos that followed the American invasion of Iraq, the subsequent breakdown of the country and the spread of senseless violence been largely due to totally unforeseen factors or were they due to incompetence?"

I believe the chaos is do to the Iraqi people and the neighboring countries which allow, even encourage, their citizens to become involved in the fighting. You cannot blame the result of an experiment on the catalyst. The end product lay in the chemicals which composed it. America's invasion of Iraq was merely the spark which brought your country's internal strife to the fore.

The incompetance lies with the Iraqi people who sit back waiting for the Americans to sort everything out rather than standing up and taking control of their own lives. The sooner the Iraqi people stand up and shout, "No More!" to the various factions which are tearing apart your land and killing innocent civilians, foreign and domestic, the sooner foreign occupation forces will no longer be needed.

Your quote, Abu, works very well in this situation. "No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it."

Perhaps it was inevitable that Iraq be invaded. Perhaps only through outside influence could the rifts within your country be healed. Like any infected wound it must first be purged before the healing can begin. The American invasion is the lance. Now Iraq must heal itself.

In a completely unrelated note, I must ask, What's with the guns? In every report I saw about that apparently major leader whom I'd never heard of before hearing of his death, they showed Iraqi people celebrating. In every report it showed Iraqi people, both men and women, dancing and singing. Well, if "dancing" can be called hopping up and down with the right arm extended above the head bearing a firearm of some sort. I didn't even realize what I was seeing until the third or fourth report when I began to take an active interest. After that I noticed that every single clip showed people with guns. Every one of them had one too! It's not like one or two people had guns in a crowd, but crowds of people with guns all hopping up and down, even firing into the air! So I just want to know, What's with the guns?

And don't they teach any kind of gunsafety in the Middle East? I learned as a child firing my toy bow and arrow in the air that what goes up must come down. I later learned that jostling explosives is not a good idea either, but that's a completely different story . . .
 
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I'm thinking that An American Patriot doesn't understand the meaning of equal rights. He's a pig. His statement, that the prisoners at Guantanamo were "probably better fed then they would have been had they been free" says a lot. I don't think he considers these people human but more like stray dogs to be locked up or killed. I consider him neither an American nor a patriot.
 
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American Patriot,

One people, many of whom were eager for American involvement in Iraq prior to April 2003, but who are far worse off now, is the Assyrians (or Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syriacs). They are targetted by Shi'ite extremists (think Badr's Brigade and the Iraqi police) for not being good Muslims (they are Christian). They are targetted by Sunni and Salafi extremists for not being good Muslims. The aer targetted by thugs who believe they are wealthy. And in their home villages and towns in northern Iraq (Mosul plain, etc), they are targetted by Kurds for occupying land which the Kurds want, or not being compliant with Kurdish demands, or ...

In the mean time, they drop out of the American media and American awareness.

So, are you blaming them? If so, why? What are they supposed to do, when the US seems to prefer the Kurds, and American attention is more on the lack of Kurdish religious repression.

Check out the following story http://www.aina.org/releases/2006069115922.htm and then tell me how 'the incompetance lies with the Iraqi people who sit back waiting for the Americans to sort everything out rather than standing up and taking control of their own lives.' The KURDS are certainly standing up and taking control, both of their own lives, and of the lives and property of the Assyrians. The Assyrians are doing what they can, but when I read statements like yours, it looks to me like you're essentially condemning them to death or slavery simply because they are less powerful than the Kurds, who want their land.

Among Iraqis in general, there are people like Abu Khaleel, who ARE doing what they can to heal Iraq, who have been consistently oriented towards democracy and responsibility. Unfortunately I seem to see that less and less on the American side, either in Iraq or here in the US.

My analysis is that the parties in power in the US had 'plans' for Iraq, but that with a scorn typical of them towards scholars, intellectuals, and specialists, they refused to learn enough either from the past in general or about Iraq in specific in order to perform their plan successfully. Their goal was apparently not a chaotic Iraq, but they have not shown the strength of intellect or character to avoid chaos, which they, following their usual pattern, blame on the Iraqis.

If I'm wrong, and their goal was actually endless war, then the failure goes back to the treatment of the troops, not simply now, but in a pattern of abuse going back perhaps even to the Viet Nam war.
America, rather than investing in its soldiers, seems more intent on simply using them while instilling a sometimes overweening pride in them.

The closure of VA hospital programs for mentally disabled veterans under Ronald Reagan seems symptomatic of how the US has come to see its soldiers. We are proud of them when they are serving overseas, but don't want to invest in their welfare back here in the states, and we certainly seem to have no interest in improving their post-service livelihood. If I, as a programmer, had as little care for the quality of my programs, I would currently be jobless. If United Airlines had as little concern for its planes, pilots, mechanics..., it would be out of business.

Summing up:a culture of greed and short-term planning has dominated America for nearly 30 years. Such a culture is perhaps not capable of success in Iraq.

Be Well,
Bob Griffin
 
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basta,

When I said the Afghani prisoners were probably better fed I was refering to the tragic earthquake which struck Afghanistan, essentually destroying the infrastructure of that country leaving much of its population in the higher, remote regions to starve over the winter. I suppose I shouldn't assume everyone can follow my train of thought. I was not disparaging the Afghani people, their land, or their customs.

Bob,

That was an interesting article and it is a shame that the Assyrians are being persecuted. However, my point was that it is up to the Iraqi people as a whole, not a foreign invasion force, to put a stop to that sort of brutality. If the Amish people in Pennsylvania were suddenly being attacked by Scientologists we as Americans would be outraged, even if we did not agree with the Amish way of life and prefered Scientology. The Amish would be put under Police, even Military protection while the Scientologists would be persecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Furthermore, the majority of the Kurd population in Northern Iraq are actually invaders from Iran and Turkey. Not to mention the Assyrians themselves are an offshoot of the Syrians which moved to Iraq millenia ago when they were being persecuted in that country. I believe it is in the bible somewhere. Anyway, it is the responsibility of the Iraqi people to guard their own borders along with everyone within them. As long as they rely upon a foreign invasion force to police their land they will never be free.

Currently the Army of the Iraqi government is not up to the task. Which is why the U.S. Army is still occupying their country. I believe that if the U.S. said they were pulling out tommorrow, many of the Iraqi citizens would protest and panic. If not, then they would a few days later when all hell broke loose and there was a ten-way civil war.

Afterward, of course, Iraq would have a stable government again, but who knows what form that government would take? When the strong rule by Might is Right the biggest bully on the block takes control.

Some of you are thinking now that America did the same thing. We invaded Iraq to force our politic ideals upon them. What makes us any better? The simple fact that we police ourselves. While the system has been corrupted over the centuries, the tools are in place which allow us, as a people, to control our government, even to overthrow it completely through peaceful means. Though that's about as likely as a Bush winning the national spelling bee.

When Iraq has established for itself a functioning, stable government, American forces will leave that country, though I'm sure they'll leave a strong garrison there. After all, we don't conquer countries for no reason.

By establishing a united Iraq with a powerful Military we also help our Middle Eastern allies which have been begging U.S. Military aid for years. With a powerful country in their midst other Middle Eastern countries will not be so quick to invade their neighbors. Especially when the U.S. can legally drop half a million troops in a matter of days should it become necissary.

Iraq has a grim future ahead of itself for the next couple of decades. But thirty years from now? Fifty? One-hundred? I believe Iraq will become the unifying force in the Middle East, leading to a larger alliance such as the EU in that sector of the planet.

I hope I am alive to see it.
 
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11/6/06 2:33 AM
 
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American Patriot – 11/6/06 2:33 AM> thirty years from now? Fifty? One-hundred? I hope I am alive to see it.

Dear American Patriot, why don't you try to read and contemplate what you have written, carefully consider it for consistency, and delete all BS before you publish? Even if very little remains.
 
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Oh come on, Anonymous above. Where's your sense of humour? American Patriot is great value.

"When I said the Afghani prisoners were probably better fed I was refering to the tragic earthquake which struck Afghanistan, essentually destroying the infrastructure of that country leaving much of its population in the higher, remote regions to starve over the winter. I suppose I shouldn't assume everyone can follow my train of thought."

I can follow his train of thought. He is of course referring to the earthquake in Pakistan. What the hell, Afghanistan, Pakistan, they're both somewhere east of Idaho, and they both end in Stan, right?

"By establishing a united Iraq with a powerful Military we also help our Middle Eastern allies ... With a powerful country in their midst other Middle Eastern countries will not be so quick to invade their neighbors."

That's for all you who have forgotten that Saddam Gadaffi of Algeria invaded Iran and Kuwait.

More, Patriot, more!

Circular
 
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See what I mean though, Abu?

"Perhaps it was inevitable that Iraq be invaded. Perhaps only through outside influence could the rifts within your country be healed. Like any infected wound it must first be purged before the healing can begin. The American invasion is the lance. Now Iraq must heal itself." (American Patriot)

Your ruined farm, your unemployed workers, the countless dead and maimed of the last three years, the destroyed infrastructure, the children of Makr Al Deeb and Tal Afar and Haditha ... just boils being lanced by the benevolent surgeon. Just purging the pus.

On the face of it, the writer of that callous, vicious nonsense would seem to be very "evil," by normal standards, in his total indifference to human suffering. But really he's just like a brainwashed German of the 1930s agreeing that something should be done about the Jews. Doesn't want to know the details.

It was all just stupidity. Stupidity and greed. So was Nazism, really, that's why it was defeated.

Circular
 
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Bob Griffin,

Thanks for your link. Before I read your comments on this blog, I was unaware of Assyrian-Kurdish tension. It's ironic to hear Assyrians talk about Kurds in the same heated language that Kurds talk about Arabs, Iranians, and Turks. Just goes to show that every group is capable of chauvinism.
 
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American Patriot, in regards to the Assyrians (Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syriacs) of Iraq,

This is just a quick snippet of a much larger history.

After the defeat of Assyria by the combined Babylonian and Median forces in the 7th century BCE, the common folk continued to exist, and were incorporated first into the Babylonian empire, and later into the Persian empire. Still later, after the time of Alexander, Assyrian city states grew up in northern Mesopotamia:Osrhoene, Adiabene, and others. These areas maintained some sort of Assyrian identity and culture at the borders between the Romans and the Parthians.
During the latter years of the Assyrian empire the Aramaic language had already attained an important position (being alphabetic, widely spoken, and not requiring clay tablets). When the Persians had conquered Babylon, Aramaic had become the main language of the Persian Empire. So when the Assyrian city-states of northern Mesopotamia were formed, the language used was Aramaic, not Assyrian.
During the mid to late 1st century (Common Era, or AD), Christianity was preached an adopted by inhabitants of the capital of Osrhoene, a city called Edessa by the Greeks and Urhoy by its Aramaic speaking inhabitants. From there, Christianity slowly spread east and southwards, and became the determining ethno-religious factor over the following centuries, especially after the Arab invasion of Iraq. Northern Iraq and its environs were primarily Suryaye (Syriac).
Suryaya is an adjective derived from the Greek word for Assyria, which was applied to Syria, the western portion of the ancient Assyrian empire, and was adopted by the Aramaic-speaking Christians of Mesopotamia.

There are essentially three ancient Christian communities in Iraq, all of them most likely of Assyrian and/or Babylonian ancestry, with a bit of Persian thrown in from the 1st two or three centuries. The two oldest are the Assyrians of the Church of the East and the Syriacs of the Church of Antioch. Both groups are/were native to Iraq, though the second aer due to missionary activities amongt the "Nestorians" of the Church of the East by Antiochean 'Jacobites'. Many of the Christians of Tikrit are from this ancient 'Jacobite' community.
The third group, theologically, is the Chaldean Catholics, an off-shoot of the Church of the East which joined with Roman Catholicism 1st during the 16thy century (?) over issues of patriarchal succession. All three groups are from the same ethnic origin.
Things are a bit more complex now, as a number of the Assyrians and Chaldeans in Iraq are descended either from communities driven from mountainous refuges in south-eastern Turkey (to which they had fled about the time of Tamerlane) to the area around Lake Urmiah in western Iran, or from the ancient communities around Lake Urmiah, from which most Assyrians were driven by Turkish, Kurdish, and Persian massacres during and after World War I. They are ethnically one people with their religious kin in Iraq, but the languages/dialects diverged over the centuries.
Ancestrally most are from around Mosul, where the greatest concentration of Assyrian/Chaldean towns and villages is still found.

I argue that the 'foreign invading force' (your phrase) has exacerbated the situation with regards to the Assyrians. Your example of the Amish coming under persecution would be more apt if it were preceded and concurrent with a German invasion and occupation of America.
Given what I've read in your post, the ancient Christian communities of Iraq are almost certainly doomed, either a quick destruction if they seek autonomy or Iraqi unity (counter to the Kurds and Shi'ites), or a more slow destruction under the Kurds.

Be Well,
Bob Griffin
PS As regards the Bible, the Assyrians were the hated super-power in the time of some of the later prophets, with a history going back prior to Abraham.
PPS If you want to read more about the Assyrians, and wouldn't mind reading a fair dosage of right-wing reporting, I suggest www.aina.org (Assyrian International News Agency)
 
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Peter,
Assyrian antipathy towards the Kurds is rooted in the various massacres of Assyrians of the past two hundred years or so, in which the Kurds often played a major (or the only) part. There is also the behavior of the Kurdish government in the no-fly zone of the 1990s towards the Assyrian inhabitants of the area. Some of the anti-Kurdish attitude is similar to the anti-Polish prejudice among some Polish (Ashkenazi) Jews. Like the situation between the Polish Jews and the Poles, there is a history of antipathy between the two communities. In both cases, a relatively powerless community had a long literary tradition and an ancient history, and was despised and oppressed by a more numerous and more powerful community. So also the situation between the Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians (Toroye) and Turks and Kurds in Turkey.

All of this is somewhat a distortion and an overstatement. I have read that the Kurdish and Assyrian communities in the Hakkiari Mountains of south-eastern Turkey got along quite well, and that the Hakkiari Kurds held the Assyrian patriarch in high regard. I have been told that the Kurds and Assyrians of Barwar, in far northern Iraq, got along quite well. However for many Kurds both modern and ancient, the Assyrians are apparantly only a second-class people with little or no political or military power.

Be Well,
Bob Griffin
 
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[American patriot] “While Saddam may not have supported Al Quaeda, that is but one terrorist faction.”

How about starting with the “terrorist faction” that directly attacked you? And a lot of these ‘terrorist’ groups support causes which are legit. Hezbollah, for example, has become part of the Lebanese government. If we are fighting “terror” does that mean state sponsored terror as well? Or is Amreeka exempt?

[American Patriot] “You cannot blame the result of an experiment on the catalyst. The end product lay in the chemicals which composed it. America's invasion of Iraq was merely the spark which brought your country's internal strife to the fore.”

So if I come to your house and set fire to your car, are you going to blame me or the combustible materials from which your car is made? Come now.

[American Patriot] “When the strong rule by Might is Right the biggest bully on the block takes control. Some of you are thinking now that America did the same thing. We invaded Iraq to force our politic ideals upon them. What makes us any better? The simple fact that we police ourselves.”

I’m sorry but that excuses NOTHING.

(Even IF I accept the ‘self correcting’ principle, which I don’t).

Not only don’t the rest of us give a fig about your internal affairs, but your internal affairs cannot be used to justify reprehensible actions on the behalf of your country. Are you seriously suggesting that a superior (for the purpose of argument) system of government justifies invasion and conquest? That’s exactly what the Communists did. Invaded and conquered on the principle that their system and ideology was better. In fact, “America” reminds me more and more of the USSR with every passing day. Now, that’s sad.

[American Patriot] “When Iraq has established for itself a functioning, stable government, American forces will leave that country, though I'm sure they'll leave a strong garrison there. After all, we don't conquer countries for no reason.”

Aha. Reality at last. I suppose that I should be thankful for this honesty at least. It’s way better than dealing with the lies puked out from the Wingnut Brigade who insist they are not staying even as they pour the concrete foundations of the Base Camps.

The same way as I would support Americans if they were invaded by the Soviets I now support Iraqis as they are invaded by the Americans.

It’s not who you are, it’s what you do.

That’s what this discussion is actually about.
 
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Thanks for the history lesson Bob. I think, however, that Christians have been doomed in the Middle East from the beginning. There's no denying that. However, a persecuted people are a tenacious people, as Christianity and guerilla fighters have proven time and time again.

My point has been that if Iraq wants to be free of american occupation, or at least domination, then it is the responsibility of the Iraqi people to put an end to such sensless violence. They must show their maturity as a people and a civilization by protecting the rights of those whom they don't see eye to eye with along with those they support.

To everyone else,
No doubt were I an Iraqi citizen I would feel far differently about the war. It is hard to look at the big picture when bombs are falling all around you and you fear your own neighbors might come in masks, haul you away and cut your head off for talking nice to that american soldier the other day. War is tragic, no matter how you look at it. There is no such thing as a "clean war" or a war without casualties.

In this war the casualties have mounted on both sides. Whats more, they have mounted amongst civilians. The difference between America and the insurgents lay in the fact that the insurgents actively attack civilians while the American army, on an administrative level, does its best to avoid killing civilians. And that, my friends, is all the difference in the world.

Wars are fought by governments. By faceless organizations that see the world as a multicolored map with imaginary lines dividing nations. When you play the game of Risk you don't think about the individual soldier who fights and dies in the mud. About the mother whose infant child is killed by a stray bullet. About the people who starve because their place of business has been demolished.

I am not comparing Iraq to a game, I am only trying to show how those in power view war. How they must. One cannot look at the life of the individual if they want to do what is best for the whole. Do I believe that our government is doing what they believe to be best for the whole? Absolutely. Do I agree with what they are doing, and how they are doing it? Absolutely not.

It is not americas place to force anything on anyone. It is our place to protect ourselves, however. When I was awoken on September 11 to watch the World Trade center burning, to watch a jumbo jet full of people crash headlong into the second tower, I felt a thrill of dread. My first thought was, "I wonder what poor middle eastern country is going to get bombed into the dark age for this." My second thought was, "This is going to mean World War III, and we [the U.S.A.] are going to be the bad guys."

It would seem my first instincts were correct, though WWIII hasn't broken out quite yet and, god willing, it will not.

The problem is, How do you fight an ideal? How do you fight individuals who are willing and capable of destruction on such a massive scale?

You cannot. You must place your army where it is vulnerable and open to attack and wait for those individuals to form a cohesive force which is possible to fight. They tried it in Afghanistan, but it was not enough. What made that country the perfect battleground made it not worth defending.

So the most viable target was chosen. If you read my first entry I try to show why Iraq would be chosen even though they are not responsible for the 9-11 attack. It was because, unfortunately for the Iraqi people, it offered the most strategic advantages.

What does that mean for the Iraqi people? It means the horror of war. Do I think the U.S. should have attacked Iraq in the first place? Absolutely not. When it first happened my only thought was, "What?"

Now that it has happened, however, we are forced to move on from that point. There is no undoing the war. We can sit and cast blame at each other forever. We can sit and point fingers and make snide remarks, OR we can learn to forgive, if not forget, the past and make the best of a bad situation.

The United States cannot conquer the Middle East, or even Iraq. All they could do, all they have done is to give Iraq an opportunity to set itself on a path that will eventually let it become its own nation again. Whether they choose to do that through the blood of innocents, as those fighting the new regime have done, or by quelling the racial, sectarian hatreds which plague them and rising above their own past to create a peace loving civilization that will act as a model for other middle eastern countries is up to them.

Unfortunately America cannot do that for them. Iraq must choose their own destiny and it is up to Abu Khaleel and others like him to ensure Iraq, as a nation, chooses a path that will lead to equal footing with the other countries of the world nation rather than a sectarian government that will lead only to endless bloodshed.

"Have the chaos that followed the American invasion of Iraq, the subsequent breakdown of the country and the spread of senseless violence been largely due to totally unforeseen factors or were they due to incompetence?

If it was incompetence, was it incompetence at the planning / administration level or at the execution level?

Is such a level of incompetence possible?

Or… was it due to evil intentions at the planning level that created conditions leading to incompetence at the execution level?"
posted by Abu Khaleel at 5:56 AM on Jun 05 2006

In case you have forgotten, this is the original question which we are debating. It is, I am disappointed to say, no more than finger pointing on the part of Abu, and perhaps a way to spark lively debate. I decided to point the finger back by saying it is not America's responsibility to quell the chaos in Iraq, but that of the Iraqi people. If they rely on a foreign invasion force to do all the dirty work for them they will become ever more reliant upon that force until they are no more than a territory of the united states.

If Iraq wants to be in charge of its own destiny then it must take charge. Stop disecting the past to discover who is to blame for what and start moving toward a better tomorrow.

That is what makes me sick more than anything else. In the aftermath of Katrina our government spent millions on investigating what went wrong with the levies, why help wasn't more organized, quicker to revive, who was responsible for this debacle . . . etc. etc. What a waste of time! To this day there are still emergency relief funds sitting in the form of mobile homes in parking lots while beaurocrats try to decide whether they are "livable" or not. Apparently none of them ever went camping as children. Instead of getting the money to the people who need it money was given to the army corp of engineers for clean up, who promptly subcontracted the job to someone else, who subcrontracted to someone else, down through seven layers of contractors until someone ended up actually having to do the work for a bare fraction of what the government actually paid.

Amerocracy at its finest.

Iraq has an opportunity to create a government from scratch. What matters is not how that opportunity arose, but what they do with it. If they use that opportunity to create a system of tyranny, bloodshed, and oppression, then the incompetance lies with no one else.
 
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"Do I think the U.S. should have attacked Iraq in the first place? Absolutely not. When it first happened my only thought was, "What?"
"Now that it has happened, however, we are forced to move on from that point. There is no undoing the war. We can sit and cast blame at each other forever. We can sit and point fingers and make snide remarks, OR we can learn to forgive, if not forget, the past and make the best of a bad situation."

"Do I think I should have broken into my neighbours' house for no good reason, trashed it, and hung around setting the family members on each other? Absolutely not ... Now that it has happened, however, we are forced to move on from that point."

"Iraq has an opportunity to create a government from scratch. What matters is not how that opportunity arose, but what they do with it."

"My neighbour has an opportunity to repair his family relationships and tidy up his house."

Come on, American Patriot, complete your "train of thought" before it choo-choos off into the distance.

"And I'm going to hang around until he has done the job to my satisfaction?"

Circular
 
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American Patriot –

[AP] “The problem is, How do you fight an ideal? How do you fight individuals who are willing and capable of destruction on such a massive scale? You cannot.”

Wrong. You can.

You can, because the “other” side does not exist in a vacuum. The “other” side has concerns and motivations. One can analyse those concerns and motives, and measure them against the popular support of the people of the region. One can defuse the anger by addressing the concerns, by reaching a compromise. You will find that American interventionism and American troops in the ME have been a consistent aggravation for the radicals. And US support for Israel another drumbeat for Jihad.

If the US was serious about reducing terrorism, it should walk a (mental) mile in Arab shoes for a change, and start from there.

Al Qaeda did not and still does not enjoy mainstream Muslim support. But the fact is that the more Muslim Arabs you kill, the more the radical viewpoints are vindicated. In other words, the more people you kill, the more radicals you make. It’s simple logic. If there were some magical way to instantly make all the violent radicals drop dead without killing anybody else, I grant that you could ‘win’ the war on terror. But there is no way, not without causing ‘collateral damage’.

You have to realise that you are not fighting a war against a country; it is a war against an idea. The irony is, that idea exists because some people think that you are evil, violent people. Now, proving them right will only help SPREAD the idea as correct. It’s like throwing petrol onto a fire to put it out.


[AP] “Unfortunately America cannot do that for them. Iraq must choose their own destiny […].”

And what if the destiny they choose is a country free of foreign influence and troops? The last poll I saw put Iraqi support for a timetable for US withdrawal at 87% of the populace. Are you gonna kill them all, or what? That’s the question.

Please note, though:

Even though I am discussing the war from the context of the “war on terror”, it is incorrect to assume I buy into this paradigm.

I do not.

I believe that the USA is patently dishonest about its motives and is using the “war on terror” as a casus belli to extend its grip over areas that are geostrategically important and which will become critical in future. This war is less about terrorism than about securing, as the Neocons wanted, US global hegemony.

Abu Khaleel may or may not believe this, but I believe that the Iraqis were actually more or less irrelevant in the big picture. The big picture is about securing geostrategic assets and terrain, and controlling current and future rivals like China and possibly India. It was just assumed that the Iraqis would fall into line and actually help the US to subvert neighbouring countries into the US fold.

Boy, that assumption was a suure big them thar shock fer Bush an’ his pards, weren’t it now?
 
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Bruno,

"And what if the destiny they choose is a country free of foreign influence and troops? The last poll I saw put Iraqi support for a timetable for US withdrawal at 87% of the populace. Are you gonna kill them all, or what? That’s the question."

It is possible to choose a destiny without foreign troops. Infact, I have been advocating just that. I want my friends to return home before their killed by an anonymous car bomb. To do that Iraq must take command of its own territory and bring justice to those who murder non-combatants, yes, even amongst the American forces.

It is not possible, however, to choose a destiny without foreign influence. In todays world it is impossible to keep foreign culture and politics from infiltrating. They could build a fifty foot wall around Iraq and not let anyone enter, and those ideas would still find a way through the cracks.

That is what the radicals are fighting. They want to maintain the neolithic lifestyle that has kept half the population of the middle east subjugated for centuries. Just as there is no undoing the war there is no undoing the idea of universal suffrage once it has penetrated the minds of a people.

Let the muslim people maintain their religion and beliefs. But when their laws advocate brutal practices and an inequality between men and women the World demands change. They can't help it. People become outraged and start sticking their noses in where they're not wanted.

I believe this war was begun twenty years ago by western women's rights activists who journeyed to the middle east to spread their message.

The U.S. should not have sent thousands of troops to the middle east. We should have sent thousands of Jehova Witnesses.

"I believe that the USA is patently dishonest about its motives and is using the “war on terror” as a casus belli to extend its grip over areas that are geostrategically important and which will become critical in future. This war is less about terrorism than about securing, as the Neocons wanted, US global hegemony."

Exactly.

Circular,

-=/
 
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"This war is less about terrorism than about securing, as the Neocons wanted, US global hegemony."
And it's also less about spreading "democracy" than about securing hegemony.
But, returning to Abu's question, what the war has actually achieved is to reveal the unrealistic, delusional nature of the neo-con, far-right image of US world dominance - a few thousand Iraqi insurgents and terrorists have demonstrated the limits of US power. Its military might is OK for invasion or conquest, but not much use for controlling whole populations. Hell, despite Abu Ghraib, Fallujah, Haditha etc, you could almost say the US military is not ruthless enough to prevail in assymetrical warfare. You've got to be prepared to subjugate a whole population without mercy to do that.
Or win hearts and minds, har har! That's something the US military has got progressively worse at over the last 60 years. Basically because of unjustified arrogance.
Your Army has failed in Iraq, Patriot. Whatever eventually happens there, the presence of the US Marines lustng after Hadji girls is going to be quite irrelevant.
It was incompetent, I guess, for the US leadership not to realise this. But they were also quite mad.
The Iraqis have called the US bluff.
What hegemony? The US has shaky alliances of convenience with a few Middle-Eastern states, Saudi, Pakistan, Egypt etc, but no real control over them. And Iran is clearly totally unimpressed by empty US threats.
What "hegemony" does the US have over the rest of the world? Over other oil sources - Russia, Venezuala, Nigeria?
What hegemony does it wield over the EU, China, India, South-East Asia, South America? After Iraq, there's no prospect of it using military muscle to secure oil supplies or enforce economic dominance anywhere.
It's just going to have to learn to get along with other countries in a civilised manner.
And it's going to have to stop borrowing to pay for its futile little war - which has cost the it a damn sight more than it has gained from any economic "hegemony" over its new colony.
And American Patriots are going to have to wise up about their deluded missionary fervour for spreading their brand of so-called "democracy." Don't forget, only 100 years ago American women were pretty much as subject to male domination as some Muslim women are today. Apparently Mormon ones still are. And it's only 40 years since blacks in the US finally got to participate in "democracy."
Patriot, just what exactly are you so patriotic about?
What have you got to sell?
That Abu Kahleel would want to buy?


Circular
 
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Circular,

What a question!

What would you buy for 300,000 innocent lives, immeasurable suffering of millions of people, some 200 billion dollars of damages to your country and gloomy prospects for years to come?
 
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I'll answer. Freedom for my children and their children. That is worth far more than even the "costs" you cite.
 
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Abu Khaleel, please write about the amnesty that apparently is being considered by the Maliki government.

Have you written about the process/US interference that created the Maliki government?

About the amnesty, I am optimistic that the process that will lead to national reconciliation is starting.

About the destruction of Iraq, when Albright said the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children was "worth it" she was describing the basic US perception of Iraq.

No amount of hundreds of thousand Iraqi deaths register to most Americans either normal citizens or decision makers. There are some who describe Iraqi deaths as a "cost". Cost in quotation marks, but not conceding that it is even a real cost. That is a perceptual barrier that communication cannot cross.

The US aim was never to destroy the country but no amount of destruction of Iraq could outweigh the US aim of replacing every government in the middle east with pro-US/Israel partial democracies, authoritarian dictatorships or directly ruled US colonies.

That aim has been held openly enough that Josh Marshall, who was in favor of the war, described it in detail before the beginning of the occupation.
 
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Mr. Democracy,

No, I haven’t written about those things. But to try and answer your question, here is a quick rundown…

You probably know that there was a US ‘veto’ against Jaafari. They made that perfectly clear. Their position was strongly championed by the two Kurdish parties (who never forgave him for dragging his feet on the Kirkuk issue). Sadrists were furious. SCIRI hoped to make gains from it… particularly that the US objective was installing their Abdul Mahdi (they certainly gave numerous signals in that direction). They failed. SCIRI were willing to let the prime minister position slip if they could keep their control over the Ministry of Interior. They didn’t. The Virue Party (Fadhila) is now almost out of the coalition of religious Shiite parties and is making trouble in Basra. Everybody here knows about that.

The US tried hard and mostly succeeded in strengthening the ‘Sunni’ parties willing to play the political game on the present terms. For some time now, there has been a shift away from Shiite fundamentalists (have you read about the recent drastic measures in Kerbala?). I can see it everyday in the appointment of military and police field commanders. I have written about it in the comments section some time back.

Now, the country and the political game are strongly polarized. Seculars are literally out in the cold (well, out in the heat and dust is probably more descriptive). Allawi seems rather cool and ‘confident’! Perhaps he knows something we don’t.

Counteracting that polarization, there are other forces emerging. The South (particularly the tribal south) is bubbling with anger. Watch for incidents in Diwaniya and Samawa (for some reason under-reported by the media). Watch for new ‘Shiite’ nationalistic resistance groups!

Just yesterday, I attended a large conference for tribal leaders. The anti-sectarian stance by most was strong (and expressed in the strongest possible terms). The position of Southern (Shiite) tribes on that issue was even stronger than that from people in the center, West and North!!

Maliki strikes me as being far more efficient than Jaafari. He made a strong initial statement about controlling militias but only a few days later he had to back down a bit. Nevertheless, he does seem to be reaching out to others. Some of the ‘Sunni’ leaderships are speaking favorably about him. I have always maintained that the Da’wa was less militant and more ‘Iraqi’ than SCIRI. I am listening carefully to almost every word he utters. He certainly played the ‘security ministries’ appointments rather well (assisted a bit by the US and the timing of the Zarqawi thing).

At the moment the word circulating is that there is a strong rift between Maliki and Hakeem (mainly over the appointment of ‘security’ ministers.

But the situation is still fluid.

If what you say is the US policy, then you have to admit that it has ended in total disaster.

By the way, thank you for that Marshal article. Very enlightening.

Super American Patriot,

Thinking along the lines of your assertions…

Imagine an ignorant somebody who (because he is rich, has long arms and has the tools) puts himself forward as a surgeon, although unqualified. Despite all advice, he decides to operate. In the process, he mutilates the patient who is now inflicted by a multitude of germs (some of which the patient already carried and some introduced by the clumsy, incompetent ‘surgeon’) and other nasty ailments. The patient ends up in a miserable state.

Now, that ignorant ‘surgeon’ and his equally ignorant advocates still think they are right… and all blame the patient.
 
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"The patient ends up in a miserable state."

Abu, isn't it a little early to make such a declaration. Don't you have to wait at least five or ten years before you start declaring that the patient "ends up in a miserable state"? What if the patient makes a strong recovery and is healthier and happier than ever?

Abu, you always talk about the past and the now. I imagine that it is hard to look ahead given your current circumstances, but what if Iraq is better than ever ten years from now? Will you still be on the "Road to AntiAmericanism" or will you think that it was worth the cost to make a better future for your children and grandchildren?
 
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Oi! Stop stealing my analogies! That's my surgeon - post above 8/6/06 3:53 am.

Do you know your T.S. Eliot, Abu? Four Quartets?

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Not, of course, that there's much compassion about this particular wounded healer. But some of them, like Anonymous 3:58 am above, are probably sincere in their belief that they are bringing you "freedom" at any cost.

Eliot again, the "gifts reserved for age" bit:

And last, the rending pain of re-enactment
Of all that you have done, and been; the shame
Of motives late revealed, and the awareness
Of things ill done or done to others' harm
Which once you took for exercise of virtue.
Then fools' approval stings, and honour stains.

Bit unrealistic to expect that the instigators of this shambles will feel the shame of motives late revealed, or honour stained. But as it drags on surely even the most brainwashed of their supporters, like Anonymous, Patriot and Mark, will come to suspect that the thing may have been ill done, done to others' harm.

Circular
 
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Circular,

If you believe I am among "the most brainwashed of their supporters, like Anonymous, Patriot and Mark" then I'd say you should try rereading a few of my posts.

"And American Patriots are going to have to wise up about their deluded missionary fervour for spreading their brand of so-called "democracy." Don't forget, only 100 years ago American women were pretty much as subject to male domination as some Muslim women are today. Apparently Mormon ones still are. And it's only 40 years since blacks in the US finally got to participate in "democracy." "

I don't know if you read my last post in the previous thread, but I am far from an advocate for Amerocracy. If there were a revolution tomorrow I'd be the first one on my block to grab my musket.

"100 years ago American women were pretty much as subject to male domination as some Muslim women are today."

Not remotely. I don't believe it has ever been legal for an american man to kill his wife for infidelity. Nor do I believe the practice of removing a woman's clitoris has ever been acceptable. Nor do I think our idea of capital punishment ever involved any inequalities between the sexes, and I believe we have, at least for the last hundred and fifty years or so, ruled out cruel and unusual punishment. It has never been our practice to behead a man, while a woman has fist-sized stones piled upon her by the members of her community until she is dead for the exact same crime.

"Patriot, just what exactly are you so patriotic about?
What have you got to sell?
That Abu Kahleel would want to buy?"

What am I patriotic about? I'm patriotic about an idea. A world where a person can live without fear of persecution for their race, gender, or beliefs. A world in which no one person is beyond justice. That is the American Ideal.

Unfortunately Idea and Reality do not often coincide.

What would I sell Abu that he would want to buy? A chance. Just a chance.

I would sell them a country without an oppressive, murderous dictator. I would create an opportunity for the freethinking people in Iraq to gain power, if they choose to take it. I would show them that it does not matter what word you use to describe yourself, there is no justifiable reason for neadless cruelty and that violence shall be answered with justice, not anger and hate.
 
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Circular,

I’m sorry. I didn’t realize. Credit is hereby given. Your analogy must have been so good that I subconsciously adopted it!

Look at it this way: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!”

Perhaps it was not fair of you to lump Mark with the others.


Anonymous,

I can’t really answer you. I don’t know who you are…but I suspect that you are a full-fledged Fifth American. Too many of those are still trembling in fear following an incident that took place five years ago (which people experience almost on a daily basis in Iraq).

Too many of them have sacrificed considerable “Freedom” to quell some of that fear. Now they want others to make sacrifices for that Freedom. How can they be taken seriously?

If you are one of those, you have no right to ask others to make such immense sacrifices for “promises” that have little chance of being delivered… particularly that those making those promises have been demonstrated beyond doubt to be less than truthful.

Please give yourself a name or a tag, tell us where you stand and what sacrifices you yourself are prepared to make so that I can take you more seriously.
 
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Circular (addendum),

Thank you for those Eliot quotes. Most refreshing!!

Here is something in return that I have just received through a friend. I am sure you’ll find it most amusing. Please read carefully. Better than any post I could write!!

At least Khalilzad is not lying to his superiors!!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/16/AR2006061601768_pf.html
 
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Over at Juan Cole's comments section a few months back a reporter who had been embedded with US troops discussed his observations.

His conclusion was that the Iraqi army that is being formed is loyal to the US (unlike the militias and police) and that the army would support an overturn of the political system in favor of a pro-US/Israel strongman, maybe or maybe not keeping a parliament as an ornament.

This was during the period before the Maliki government when there was a question of whether or not a government would form through the parliament.

I find it extraordinarily doubtful that it could work and I am certain that attempting it would harm US interests and cause unnecessary suffering of Iraqis but would not successfully install a pro-US/Israel strongman.

But I can confirm that the plan strikes me as consistent with how Americans think.

Someone asked "but what about freedom and democracy". The reporter responded that for the brave US soldiers risking their lives, security is more important than freedom or democracy.

I've never believed that freedom or democracy were US goals for Iraq. Even those in the US who do believe it now, will stop believing it when Bush says "unfortunately" it cannot be achieved.

I have to admit that the US plan to create a pro-US/Israel Iraq that would lead to the establishment of pro-US/Israel regimes throughout the Middle East has failed disasterously. I'm not sure Bush will admit that yet.

As far as hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dying in the meantime, I'll just say that very few Americans care. Some do, maybe 10 percent maybe 20 percent, not enough to that their views would be represented by a major political party.
 
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[American patriot] “It is not possible, however, to choose a destiny without foreign influence. In todays world it is impossible to keep foreign culture and politics from infiltrating.”

Absolutely. Which is why I advocate fighting ideas with ideas. If you want to cause ‘democracy’, for example, to spread through the ME, then you must SHOW how these ideals are superior. You cannot beat an ideology based on the notion that you are evil, violent imperialists by acting like evil, violent imperialists.

You had an absolutely golden chance in Afghanistan to build up a genuine democracy based on popular rule. Instead of pouring billions into subjugating Iraq, you could have poured billions into making Afghanistan a modern country. You had the chance of proving to the world the “America loves you” rhetoric. You could have shut up annoying pests like myself. Instead you virtually installed Karzai, and left the country to rot, relying on native alliances and airpower to take care of dissent. The country is stagnating.

In other words, you acted like the Islamists said you would. Now the Pashtun are starting to revolt. That, my friend, is the Afghan equivalent of the Iraqi Shia revolting. Not only have the radical Islamist ideas been vindicated, they are taking fresh breath from their vindication.

If we look at Iraq, you barged in and destroyed Hussein’s regime. Fine, Hussein was a bad act, he deserved it. No arguments there. But the aftermath was infinitely worse than Hussein’s regime. You took all the positive accomplishments of the Baath regime – the equality between men and women, the secular universal education, the infrastructure, the social care programs – and smashed it to pieces. You vindicated the ideas of the radical Islamists, again. You set such a bad example that people turned to the bearded men in turbans for guidance. Now that even Iraqis (who were otherwise amongst the most naturally disposed pro-US Arabs) are turning to radical religion due to your arrogant violence, your response is … more arrogant violence.

Phew.

Am I missing something here, or what?

[American patriot] “ The U.S. should not have sent thousands of troops to the middle east. We should have sent thousands of Jehova Witnesses.”

That’s more on the right track.

Actually, though, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not nearly up to the task. You could have unleashed the really BIG guns: Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Donald, Hollywood, Madonna and Basketball. American pop culture is one of the the most powerful weapons you have. However, killing and brutalizing the recipients of pop culture has the unfortunate side-effect of immunizing the subjects rather than being an effective disputing of radical Islamist theories.

[bruno] “This war is less about terrorism than about securing, as the Neocons wanted, US global hegemony."
[AP] “ Exactly.”

If this is an admission of my statement, then, despite the fact that I am directly opposed to you – I appreciate the honesty. I appreciate it a lot.
 
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[anonymous] “I'll answer. Freedom for my children and their children. That is worth far more than even the "costs" you cite.”

Even assuming that the “freedom” rhetoric is true, the question is: is it worth it if it is YOUR children are the ones that become “collateral damage” to the process?

[anonymous] “Abu, isn't it a little early to make such a declaration. Don't you have to wait at least five or ten years before you start declaring that the patient "ends up in a miserable state"?”

Eh, look at that. Vindication of every murderous rampage in history, given that after a decade things inevitably get better, one way or the other. I mean El Salvador is “a whale of a lot better” according to some senior US officials, now that the death squads have done their work. And Cambodia is much better since Pol Pot’s purges.

One could spoil the reasoning, of course, by asking whether the patient is better BECAUSE OF or IN SPITE OF the treatment which he received. Then things get a little trickier, yes?



[circular] “Oi! Stop stealing my analogies! That's my surgeon - post above”

Uhm, ehm. I’d just like to point out that I made the surgeon analogy as early as 2003, albeit in a different forum …I can’t let a good analogy like that be appropriated by a Kiwi … I mean, its bad enough already that you beat us in rugby … ;)



[abu khaleel] “Watch for incidents in Diwaniya and Samawa (for some reason under-reported by the media). Watch for new ‘Shiite’ nationalistic resistance groups! Just yesterday, I attended a large conference for tribal leaders.”

Now this is what we read your blog for! Half of the time what happens in Iraq is not reported, or slips through the cracks as snippets. The rest of the time it is so coloured by “spin” from whatever side that it is unreliable. You, as a reliable source of information directly from the ground, are priceless to us. Feel free to elaborate on any incidents and on what the tribal leaders had to say, by all means. Nudge, nudge …
 
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PS - Circular, I also think it's a little unfair to lump Mark in with the wingnuts. He is at least prepared to give a person an honest debate, something which is particularly scarce these days. I'll take honesty wherever I can find it.
 
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I discussed the conversation in Juan Cole's comment section from memory and now looking at it I may have mispresented the view of the embedded reporter, Richard F. Miller.

Apparently the reporter predicted that Iraq will be run by the pro-US "tilting" Iraqi army with the civilian leadership pushed to the side. And that Iraqis would prefer that law and order to the government that was elected.

He reached this prediction after extensive discussions and interactions with US and Iraqi military personnel.

As far as a prediction, it is total nonsense, as was pointed out in the thread. The interesting story is that an extended period in Iraq with US and Iraqi military personnel could result in a reporter who could give that idea any credence.

The idea came from somewhere so I still submit it is indicative of the US priorities that answer the question of why the occupation of Iraq has been so destructive of the country.
 
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Abu,

If being a "Fifth American" means being afraid of terrorism, then I don't qualify. Frankly, I don't think the Islamists can get their act together enough to hit us like 9-11 again any time soon.

Your response to my earlier post was disappointing. What is your view of the future of Iraq? Where do you see Iraq in ten years? I'd be very interested in your views.

Your reaction to the death of Zarqawi also troubled me. Everyone should laud the elimination of this monster.

When you shrug off Zarqawi's death, I start to wonder whether you are a Sunni rejectionist or a pro-Iran Shiite. Are you a "Fifth Iraqi"? ;)

Anonymous Guy (I'll use this tag so you can keep track of me)
 
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Circ:

You Wrote: "But as it drags on surely even the most brainwashed of their supporters, like Anonymous, Patriot and Mark, will come to suspect that the thing may have been ill done, done to others' harm."

Thanks, for thinking of me. Please stop with all the flattery. This time I am merely "brainwashed"? I think last time you called me "evil" or something along those lines (perhaps, personally responsible for every act or omission of the Bush Administration??).

I have weighed in previous posts on the subject of the U.S. handling of the occupation and still firmly believe that Neo-Con self-delusion lead them to discard all previous planning made regarding post-Saddam Iraq. This is biggest reason for the current state of chaos in Iraq.
However, Iraqis have got to face up to responsibility for the results of their own intolerance and bigotry, which have resulted in the recent waves of sectarian violence. These seem to me to be the "germs" of Abu Khaleel's analogy. In my view, his blame analogy would be more accurate if the Iraqi patient is said to have realized he was ill after the incompetent American surgery left him weakened, but rather than resting and recovering as he knew was prudent, he became too agitated and distracted by the travails of everyday life to take proper care of himself. This inevitably resulted in the strengthening of the germ (sectarian bigotry) to the point that it erupted into a full blown post-op fever.

Of course, one could play the fruitless "but for" causation game as I sure someone will do in response to this post (that is, the assertion tha "but for" the U.S. invasion there would be no sectarian violence). In the end, IMHO such games really don't amount to much since each actor, as an individual, should be accountable for his or her own actions. This means that, I, as one who supported collective international action to remove Saddam's regime by force, must be willing to accept my share of culpability for the ensuing chaos since it was certainly one of the foreseeable risks of such an ambitious endeavor. On the other hand, I actively opposed many of the Administration’s decisions concerning pre-invasion diplomacy, the invasion itself (too few troops) and post-invasion occupation. Concerning the results of such foolish actions, I feel less remorse.

Circ, you will note that I am talking about my individual culpability for my own acts and omissions, since I really do not put much stock in your collective guilt theories. To me , they seem to be dangerous thought patterns since such they can be easily used by a person of ill will to dehumanize and devalue all those living in countries whose policies they find wanting.

As to the Josh Marshall article, some of what he reports is beyond dispute. However, on other issues, he paints with an overbroad brush. As far as I know, Bush has never really been a member of the Neo-Con clique. It would be much more accurate to characterize him as a traditional, isolationist conservative, since after all, prior to running for President he had rarely traveled outside of the country and as a candidate was ridiculed for his lack of knowledge concerning foreign policy. Others in his cabinet had similar outlooks. Colin Powell, on the other hand, was a militarily passive, moderate internationalist. He was the antithesis of the Neo-Con ideologues and their frequent sparing partner over policy. It was the attack of 9/11 that gave the Administration's Neo-cons the leverage to turn Bush into a militarily, aggressive internationalist. That is not to say that Chenney, Wolfowitz and others in the Defense Department and Vice-President's office were not died in the wool Neo-Cons prior to 9/11.
Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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Oh good, Mark's still alive. I thought a Chicago suicide bomber might have got him.

"Circ, you will note that I am talking about my individual culpability for my own acts and omissions, since I really do not put much stock in your collective guilt theories. To me , they seem to be dangerous thought patterns since such they can be easily used by a person of ill will to dehumanize and devalue all those living in countries whose policies they find wanting."

"However, Iraqis have got to face up to responsibility for the results of their own intolerance and bigotry, which have resulted in the recent waves of sectarian violence. These seem to me to be the "germs" of Abu Khaleel's analogy."

Bit of a contradiction here? Aren't you doing to Iraqis what you accuse me of doing to Americans? Abu has written of the multitude of different "dark forces" at work in Iraq today - "Iraqis" as a collective term for the victims of all this is as valid, or invalid, as my use of "Americans" for the instigators of it.

Abu, Bruno, I am unrepentent about lumping Mark in with the wingnuts. Although he has been critical of the execution of the operation, he does not doubt the right of America to perform it. But 2003 was not 1991.

Bad enough when an unskilled intern slices bits off the patient needlessly. But when the self-appointed Professor of Surgery does it ... ?

Front page World news today is an article about how the US was responsible for 48% of total world armament spending in 2005. Is the Professor really quite sane?

Mark thinks so - remember he was always a supporter of the "self-appointed world policeman" idea.

Policeman, Professor of Surgery - this sheer stupidity of this Iraq disaster has made me totally unconvinced about America's suitability for either role.

Circular
 
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And to repeat what I've argued above in this thread - policeman or professor, the world's problem is primarily not that he's evil or incompetent: it's that he seems to be quite nuts.
 
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[anon guy] “Frankly, I don't think the Islamists can get their act together enough to hit us like 9-11 again any time soon.”

To hit you like 9-11 does not take a great deal of effort. How hard is it to derail a passenger train, or mix a couple of tons of fertiliser bomb and set it off in a city? 9-11 was intended to accomplish a purpose, and that purpose has been accomplished. There is no further need for more bombs, for the present at least.


[anon guy] ”Your reaction to the death of Zarqawi also troubled me. Everyone should laud the elimination of this monster. When you shrug off Zarqawi's death, I start to wonder whether you are a Sunni rejectionist or a pro-Iran Shiite. Are you a "Fifth Iraqi"? ;)”

Quite frankly, “getting” Zarqawi is NOT a big deal. The fact remains that he served the purpose of the Occupier more than the Resistance any day, through dividing and fracturing Iraqi society. He was the best recruiter the Americans ever had. Even if we assume that every utterance attributed to him is true and not psyops fabrications, this only reinforces the idea that his group was weak and relied on fear alone to achieve notoriety.

I find your “Sunni rejectionist” or “pro-Iranian Shiite” categorization quite amusing. If you have to lump together all the Sunnis that reject US troops and all the Shiites that prefer Iran to the US you’re probably talking about 70% of the Iraqi population. (my guess) If you are talking about the amount of Iraqis that want a timetable for your departure, you’re talking about 87% of the population. (PIPA Poll 2006)

Therefore you are actually talking about the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi population.

I wonder if the average American actually realizes how unpopular the US is in Iraq …



PS - I will reply to the latest thoughts from Mark and Circular tomorrow.
 
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Bruno,

I don't recall asking you anything. Do you think that Abu can't respond for himself? I think he is quite capable to do so.

As long as your on line, however, maybe you can tell me whether Nelson Mandela thinks his personal suffering under the repression of you white South Africans was worth it.

Anonymous Guy
 
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Mark,

In regards to the post-invasion destabilization of Iraqi society, much of that seems to have been the result of a 'who cares' attitude on the part of the American administration and military forces.
The looting and destruction of the Iraqi museums was predicted months in advance, but no effort was made to prevent it.
The total dismantling of the various Iraqi security forces is roughly equivalent to shutting down all of the patient's immune systems in the course of an operation. Such an action requires the imposition of an effective external response to infection.
The reliance on SCIRI empowered Badr's Brigade, the first of the organized purveyors of Iraqi/Iraqi violence, medically approximating either the use of an antigen to which the patient is allergic, or worse, to the use of contaminated medical instruments.

The attitudes exhibited by a number of American (and British) troops are a rough medical equivalent to a treatment as likely to kill or damage healthy cells or organs as to destroy the infection.

In rough terms, it looks like an attempt to excise a cancer which, due to poor procedure, allowed multiple opportunistic infections, compound metasthesis of the cancerous tissue, and multiple invasive infections. Ongoing treatment appears to have been governed by the same philosophy and attitude which caused the original metasthesis and allowed the multiple infections. To some degree, known carcinogens are being or have been used in an attempt to suppress either the ongoing metasthesis or the spreading infections.

This 'MD' should lose his license and be charged with malpractice. The fact that the patient is surviving, albeit in a grossly weakened state, is hardly to the credit of the medical team.

So much for medical analogies.

Be Well,
Bob Griffin
 
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Mr. Griffin,

I'm curious about the issue of dismantling the Iraqi army. In retrospect, it seems that this was a mistake and created a terrible power vacuum. However, the leadership of the Iraqi army was primarily (if not exclusively) comprised of Sunnis loyal to Saddam. Would the Shiites have provided any support to a new government if the Sunni led army been left intact? Can we be sure things wouldn't have deteriorated just as quickly or even been worse?

Anoymous Guy
 
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Bob:

I must say you know how to analogize with the best of them. If you had put anymore detail into your medical analogy, my brain might have exploded.

I absolutely agree with you that part of the problem, especially during the first several months of the occupation, was apathy on the part of the Bush Administration for the task at hand. Remember, some in his administration, including candidate Bush has harshly criticized Clinton's "misuse" of the military for the "trivial" purpose of nation building. To me, this goes a long way to explaining the administration's apparent lack of serious planning and their cavalier dismissal of the elaborate planning for post Saddam Iraq stabilization that had been begun by the State department at the end of Gulf War I.

Circ: Please register this next concept since I am getting sick of repeating it. I have no desire for the U.S. to be the world's policemen. I have merely recognized the reality that the U.S. has the lion's share of the world's rapid force projection capabilities. Such capabilities are what is needed if the U.N. is ever to fulfill one of the primary purposes of its charter, that is, to have the capability of organizing early, rapid collective defense to aggression. The disparity in military spending is largely a reflection of the capabilities disparities since rapid force projection is not cheap (nor for that matter is patrolling the world's sea lanes). Please feel free to encourage Europe or any other country of good will (Russia? India? China? Japan? Brazil?) to take up the rapid force projection slack at any time.

Just to make a related concept clear, I am a strong advocate of the doctrine of collective security and the application and enforcement of International Law by the U.N. Security Council. However, I also recognize that there will be times, such as the Kosovo intervention, where the application of force is clearly necessary to prevent a grave injustice, but where the Security Council is politically deadlocked. In such exceptional circumstances, a collective military intervention, despite being technically "illegal," is morally justified. In my view, the removal of Saddam's regime was of a similar moral plane to the Kosovo intervention, although the Bush administration’s rush to invade tarnishes its moral standing. I view exceptional collective actions, like Kosovo, as being analogous to the situation of social conscience protestors who engage in acts of civil disobedience to protest an unjust law. However, I am mindful that great caution should be used when applying such exceptions to such bedrock concepts as the rule of law, since exceptions can have a way of swallowing the rule.

Also, Circ, your criticism of my "hypocrisy" on the issue of collective guilt issue seems a bit strained. If you will kindly read my last post again, you will see that my comments were directed to Abu Khaleel's medical analogy, which requires reference to a collective "Iraqi Patient" for it to make any sense at all. My view is certainly not that Iraqis, as a whole, are collectively responsible for sectarian violence. This would lump those that are trying desperately to end such violence, like Abu Khaleel, in with those that are gleefully torturing innocent Iraqi civilians to death with power drills. To make this crystal clear, please be advised that it is my view that each individual Iraqi (just like every individual American) is responsible for his own acts and omissions, including support for, or the failure to oppose, politicians that stoke or justify sectarian violence.

Lastly Circ, I ask that you please “repent” the "wing nut" thing. The fact that we disagree about the propriety of the initial Iraq invasion does not make either you or I a wing nut (unless, of course you are now asserting that Saddam was something other than a noxious despot and serial aggressor who harbored the long term intent to re-arm Iraq to the teeth after the lifting of sanctions, in which case, you would clearly qualify as a wing nut).

Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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Mark
Like you I am a bit overwhelmed at Bob Griffin's exhaustive and rather nauseating extension of the medical analogy. He'll be showing us his operation scars next!
Well OK, maybe I should apologise for classing you with the wingnuts. But I still suspect that you're a small self-tapping screw.
"I have merely recognized the reality that the U.S. has the lion's share of the world's rapid force projection capabilities." I.e. guns.
Yes, but does it need to be so well-armed, or over-armed? So ready to shoot first?
You mentioned East Timor a few threads ago. Case in point. As you know, Australian and NZ forces assisted at the birth of this infant nation, from 1999 to 2003 I think, mainly to protect it from Indonesian militia, and then went home. Now the poor place has erupted in senseless internal violence, and they've had to go rushing back. Some sort of order is slowly being restored, but as far as I'm aware the ANZAC troops have yet to fire a shot. Apparently just the sight of a few of them is enough to disperse a mob of looters or arsonists. If "Not the World's Policeman Except When I Feel Like It" had been involved, it would doubtless have gone in with gunships blazing, and exacerbated the situation.
" ... unless, of course you are now asserting that Saddam was something other than a noxious despot and serial aggressor who harbored the long term intent to re-arm Iraq to the teeth after the lifting of sanctions ... "
Well yes, I think I am asserting that, I'm afraid. He (despite his revolting sons) was pretty much a has been, internationally, not an immediate threat to anyone, he could have kept for years while methods other than sanctions were tried. You say "the Bush administration’s rush to invade tarnished its moral standing," and we seem to agree that this rush into premature and ill-thought-out action has ruined Iraq. Going in with gunships blazing should always be the last resort, not the first.
I am happier with homely analogies. To bring good old Bruno into it: middle-class South Africans who emigrate to NZ describe leaving a situation where your home has to be a fortress, protected by high fences, gates, alarms, weapons and dogs, where you keep the car doors locked in traffic for fear of car-jacking, and so on. It generally takes them a year or so to adapt to NZ norms, to the extent of leaving your house unlocked when you wander down to the beach for a swim. (Probably going a bit far - NZ is an equal-opportunity paradise, amateur burglars have a great time.)
A South African who persisted in living by Jo'burg standards in NZ would be regarded as a bit strange, to put it mildly.
And so is a nation which insists on being expensively armed and prepared for every possible threat, however unlikely, to the detriment of its citizens' economic well-being.
That article I quoted from yesterday states that in 2005 the US spent $1604 per capita on armaments, the world average was $173 per capita.
Nobody is displaying the slightest intention of invading you, no other country maintains large forces spread all over the world. Is the "Not-a-Sheriff" part of the town he lives in, or somehow separate from and above it? Should he be so isolated? It doesn't seem to have done him much good in Iraq.

Circular
 
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Possibly some of both, although I don't think there are many people aware of the guerilla warfare structure that Saddam had in place before the war started (whether or not the U.S. should have known this before the war is debatable as well).
The weapons caches, safe houses, escape routes for Baath leaders to Syria, a collusion with groups of foreign fighters that began before the war, etc.
I won't pretend to know the answers as to how it could have been done better or worse only to say that much of the criticism fails to even acknowledge a number ot important factors.
 
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Circ:

Force projection does not mean only guns; the concept defines a nation’s ability to timely and efficiently bringing guns, men and the necessary materials to bear in a conflict. It requires massive investments in logistical capabilities such as, cargo ships, heavy lift helicopters, troop ships and cargo planes. It also requires amphibious landing capabilities, aircraft carriers, as well as paratroopers. These logistical capabilities also can serve a humanitarian purpose such as when they are called upon to provide emergency assistance in times of natural disasters. The use of American aircraft carriers and heavy lift helicopters during the initial relief efforts after the Indiana Ocean Tsunami and the Pakistani Earthquake provides an excellent example of this.

However, I will agree with you that the Neo-Con inspired 2002 National Security Policy set military goals which were overzealous. The policy of attempting to perpetually maintain military superiority over other nations to such an extent that others a discouraged to try to catch up, seems, at least in part, a domestic political argument to justify overspending on defense. A better strategy would be to truly commit to collective security by welcoming other responsible nations to carry their fair share of the world security burden by improving their own force projection capabilities.

Do you really propose the U.S., one of the world’s richest countries, spend the world average on defense? This would not be a very "progressive" way of distributing the world security burden. Realistically speaking, if rapid deployable, heavily armed "peacemaking" forces are necessary to enforce a Security Council resolution, the U.S. will often be the only viable choice for the foreseeable future.

The ANZAC troops are to be commended for their peace keeping efforts and appropriately restrained use of force in East Timor. However, that type of duty is far different than the situation in Iraq. While I will agree that the U.S. rules of engagement seem to over emphasize force protection in Iraq (which has lead to excessive civilian causalities), the British army in Iraq's South, blessed with the advantage of an initially less hostile Shia population and purportedly utilizing more appropriate rules of engagement, has found itself increasingly ineffective in controlling violence that region.

You should also note that the U.S. peacekeeping troops in Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo have not had the level of violence directed against them as has been found in Iraq. In those areas, U.S. troops have more stringent rules of engagement so your assertion that U.S. troops would have blasted their way into East Timor seems a bit of an exaggeration.

Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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"The ANZAC troops are to be commended for their peace keeping efforts and appropriately restrained use of force in East Timor. However, that type of duty is far different than the situation in Iraq."

Yes, and most critically of all is that they are in T l'E at the invitation of the government under the signature of the President. They are also fighting under Rules of Engagement created under Australian and NZ law.

If you recall, the Aussies had two naval ships outside T l'E waters, and troops lined up in Darwin waiting for the signature on the paper. There was a graphic description of the Aus Ambassador (a lady of some bravery) being conducted through Dili to have the papers properly signed.

As for the original question, there is a simple answer, it surfaces in my mind often while reading through the blogiverse...

I suspect (quite strongly) that the whole US approach to Iraq was, has been, based upon three factors...

First, political desires to secure US "interests" at a number of different levels, including control of the price of oil, security for Israel, and access to central Asia; in increasing order of importance. (See, no mention of 9/11).

Second, the totally unforeseen opportunities presented by 9/11 to justify, both at home in the US and to the internation community, the "introduction" of US forces into the region.

Third, the desire to further secure the power base for right-wing (neo-con) control of US politics.

The answer then becomes a matter of "Confirmation bias" - the failure to hear or heed or acknowledge any information that might deflect from the chosen direction.

Surely the eventual outcome in Iraq - split into three autonomous self governing regions each at war with the other two - was evident from anything more than just extremely cursory analysis of the probabilities in the aftermath of removing Saddam.

Is that going to be a BAD thing for the US to deal with in the future? No of course not!! Three small players, all looking for protection, all politically and strategically insecure, easily managed and reliant upon a strong and generous patron.

So, poor execution? I am not si sure. I am certain that there is something in Sun Tzu about creating opportunities by appearing to be weak and confused, by inviting attack from a weaker opponent. It is like the old hoe about there being no direct Chinese pictograph for "choice", or "decision", it is a combination of "opportunity" and "danger".

I have always felt sorry for Colin Powell and his role in the whole sorry affair, ever since watching the video on tv of his presentation of the "evidence against Iraq" to the UNSC. His whole demeanour suggested that he was doing "what needed to be done", not because he believed in itor the truth of what he was saying, but because it was his job. Having Dick Cheney sitting behind him (you could almost see the loaded gun) only made his discomforture worse.

Evil intentions? Only in so far as every nation projects and protects by any possible means its "interests" internationally. That is putting the bravest face on it that I can.
 
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Mark

"Do you really propose the U.S., one of the world’s richest countries, spend the world average on defense?"

Well no, but what I question is why it has to spend so much more than the average.
Some rough figures from Googling: the US seems to spend about 5% of GDP on "defence;" world average is apparently about 2%, examples China 4.3%, UK 2.4%, Australia 2.7%, NZ and Canada about 1%. (Yay!)
Percentage of population in military service: US about 0.5%, UK and France about 0.35%, Australia 0.26%, NZ 0.22%.
(China 0.16% - why fight when you can outsell everyone else.)

Since the US (unlike many other countries) is in no danger of invasion across its borders, this excessive spending must be primarily due to maintaining the potential for what you call "force projection." I'm surprised you don't mention Gulf 1. That was the classic case of the need for your force projection capability - without the (immediately post-Cold-War) ability of the US to put massive forces in, it is doubtful that the world could have done much about Saddam's annexation of Kuwait.

But I would argue that that was the exception which does not prove the rule. The US alone, while it is tied up in Iraq, doesn't seem to have the resources to do anything unilaterally about other trouble spots or disasters - Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Korea, etc. (Or East Timor.) And your current Government's hostility towards the UN prevents it from taking any leading role in collective security. (The Coalition of the Willing fast becoming the Dwindling Coalition of the No Longer Deceived.)

What matters is not just what force you have, it is WHY and HOW you use it. As to the WHY, the European perception that it is the US which is now the greatest threat to world security reflects global concern at the way all this power can fall so easily into the hands of a cabal of ruthless, deluded, dishonest plutocrats. As to the HOW, Iraq has demonstrated that armed forces primarily designed to blow everything up with overwhelming force are very good in a Gulf 1, but not much use for anything else.

I'm sorry mate, maybe I'm taking a big chance, but I don't think I want you policing my street until you've taken an anger management course, and tidied up your own house a little.

And I don't think Abu does either. His street has certainly not benefited from your "force projection."

Circular
 
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Mark –

Reading your comments I find myself in agreement with a good portion of them, yet have to wonder how we are diametrically opposed on the issue of Iraq.

[mark] “I have no desire for the U.S. to be the world's policemen.”

Well, now, that’s a relief. Already we are on firmer ground.

[mark] “I have merely recognized the reality that the U.S. has the lion's share of the world's rapid force projection capabilities.”

Also fair enough. Which is why when the UN undertakes a mission, the US is invariably in charge of operations, which is only fair, since you are providing the hardware. I also agree that IF a “world collective security” is to be established, other countries SHOULD take up the slack.


[mark] “However, I also recognize that there will be times, such as the Kosovo intervention, where the application of force is clearly necessary to prevent a grave injustice, but where the Security Council is politically deadlocked. In such exceptional circumstances, a collective military intervention, despite being technically "illegal," is morally justified.”

OK, so here is where I’m not quite as sure.

Taking the Kosovo intervention, for example, a moral argument can be made. However, the crux of the matter lies in the insidious nature of exceptions becoming the rule. In my mind before the Iraq war, it was clearly wrong, and events have, unfortunately, proved me right. We have to weigh up the penalties of inaction in strict accordance with the law with the penalties of altruistic action in contravention of it. Is a deadlocked Security Council not perhaps safer than a World Policeman acting at random? I know that Security Council inaction was better for Iraq, in this case.

If the self – appointed World Policeman was neutral, without interests, then a case could be made. However, this is not the reality, is it? Not even close. Thus policing action becomes subjugated to foreign policy, which means that in practice MIGHT MAKES RIGHT … defeating the entire purpose of such a collective security system.

The question also arises whether one is morally responsible for the consequences of inaction or not. I think one is not. I do not, for example, hold the US to blame for the Rwanda massacres, even though, as you pointed out, the US possesses the lions share of rapid force projection ability. As you can guess, I rather tilt towards inaction if the UN is deadlocked … but my mind is not made up. There is merit in the reverse argument as well.


[mark] “"I have merely recognized the reality that the U.S. has the lion's share of the world's rapid force projection capabilities”.
[circular] “Yes, but does it need to be so well-armed, or over-armed? So ready to shoot first?”

This is another problem. The US military is not designed for humanitarian interventions. It is designed for overwhelming military superiority over a conventional enemy through the application of massive firepower. I acknowledge it reigns supreme in this capacity.

However, when faced with an asymmetrical response to a conventional force projection, it is unable to respond except for in the way which it has been trained. And this response invariably generates large amounts of collateral damage. In Iraq’s case, that means Abu Khaleel’s relatives.


[mark] “However, I will agree with you that the Neo-Con inspired 2002 National Security Policy set military goals which were overzealous.”

Good, then, we agree on something else. Because the Neocon recommendations are basically a blueprint for world domination.

Where we disagree is on the extent of the support for these views both within the US public and within the corridors of power. While I don’t believe that the average American is an imperialist at heart … I do believe that in matters of foreign policy he is naïve, uninformed and easily manipulated.

However, it is equally clear to me that the Neocon support and power within the structures of US government is not a small nor a passing issue. Your upper echelons have been permeated with these individuals. And furthermore the views of America as benevolent world policeman too often become used to promote US foreign policy under the guise of humanitarianism. And there is at least a 25-30% core of American supporters that support the US no matter what the facts are on the ground. (Just look at the latest comments by Bill O’ Reilly – to the effect that he’d run Iraq like Saddam Hussein if he were in charge – to get an idea of the people I’m referring to.)

What I’m saying is: I don’t believe that the current spasm of US lashing out is complete, and that we are going to see more pointless bloodshed in the future. I hope I’m wrong.
 
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Circular –

I tend to agree with you on the issue of Saddam Hussein. He was a noxious individual, but one that could be handled by other means. Inevitably the cry of “sanctions were hurting the common Iraqis” will arise – but when one examines the details, it is clear that you-know-who used the sanctions as a weapon rather than as the arms control mechanism which was the original, envisioned goal.

I don’t agree that dictators need to be necessarily removed by force. There are several examples of dictators that doddered their way into dotage and death; and their countries are doing quite well since. I still believe that Hussein could have been moderated through a policy of constructive engagement – Abu Khaleel may feel free to disagree – since he showed himself malleable to a certain extent when the occasion demanded it. However, to take whatever good he and the Baath were responsible for and throw it in the trashcan in the name of freedom, leaving Iraqis with nothing … is irresponsible in the extreme.

I looked through your checklist, btw. High walls, dogs, weapons, alarms, gates – check them all. You did, however, forget the rapid response firm and the neighbourhood watch initiative.

I have relatives in NZ. Yes, they do sound a lot more laid back than us … :(



[Anonymous guy] “As long as your on line, however, maybe you can tell me whether Nelson Mandela thinks his personal suffering under the repression of you white South Africans was worth it.”

First, what gives you the idea I’m a white South African?

Second, there’s no comparison between the examples of Iraq and South Africa.

The SA problem was solved through exhaustive multilateral negotiations and the country was passed mostly intact from one group to another, like adults. Of course it was worth it. Ask Mandela whether it would be worth it to sit in prison for decades and receive Iraq as a country after the US had finished with it. That’s the real question. Freedom to live in a rubbish tip is not freedom at all.
 
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Probligo,

Ah, another Kiwi with a fresh analysis and rationalization. We are back to the ‘intentions’ issue we discussed last year. Thank you for the interjection. ‘Bravest face’ indeed!

I fully share your sentiment about poor Colin Powell. However I take issue with the danger to the USA and the stability of the region following those three warring entities. Input and interference from other states in the region would be enhanced. To some of them, the issue is one of survival. In an already super-volatile region, this cannot be without considerable danger with associated uncertainties. I fail to see how this may serve US interests in the longer term.

Certainly worth some debate!

Bruno,

I have just posted something on my other blog. It may give you an idea of the mood that prevents me from keeping you updated. Our Anonymous “Guy” would like us to wait some 10 years under these conditions and be happy with ‘their’ word that everything will be fine! They obviously have no idea of the forces of evil they have unleashed or where they are taking the country.

I only wish he has the guts to come say that to the wailing daughters and the grieving mothers and wives face to face.

Mark,

I must say your response to Circular was not very impressive!

This is actually the second time. Remember last time when you said something like you don’t feel responsible for Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence? Going back to that analogy, maybe our surgeon did not invent all those germs, but he nevertheless certainly created the environment that made them thrive!

And another point: when did you last hear or read about a mob of one sect openly attacking the other. It’s all done by ‘forces of darkness’.

On the other hand, if I remember correctly, during the days of black oppression in the States, the killings were perhaps carried out by ‘forces of darkness’ like the KKK (And they weren’t funded from abroad.) But who practiced prejudice, bigotry and segregation? Mostly ordinary people. Decent, normal people. During most of the time, the forces of law and order prevailed.

Please give me a similar example in Iraq today after 3 years of lawlessness. I feel proud of how those ragheads have been conducting themselves… so should the rest of humanity! Please don’t be so condescending on them.

Circular,

Perhaps you should consider relinquishing your claim to that analogy! It is now truly international with contributors from 4 countries in 4 continents (NZ, SA, Iraq and USA). Bob Griffin has actually taken it to new heights.
 
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The Bush administration is evil AND incompetent.
 
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In my last post I made it a point to address the subject of women's rights while ignoring the more recently oppressed black minority. I am glad Abu brought it up again.

It is this very subject which gives me hope for the future of Iraq. Once the middle eastern people realize that it is not a capitol offence to hold a different belief or to bow in a different way to the invisible man in the sky, and cull the word "infidel" from their vocabulary I firmly believe they will mature into an accepting, tolerant society.

The racial bigotry which plagued the United States following the civil war and into the twentieth century was largely regionalized in the southern states and, post Civil War, was never a policy held by the Federal Government. The U.S. government instead instituted desegregation laws and even deployed the national guard to protect the few brave souls which went against the bigoted majority in their communities.

Terrorist organizations like the KKK arose amongst those few who held their outmoded beliefs, attempting to force the undesirables from their community through intimidation and violence. Much as the Islamic radicals and sectarians are doing in the middle east. Eventually the perpetrators and organizers of the KKK terrorists were apprehended, tried, and often recieved justice.

What the U.S. is attempting, and I hope the Iraqi people support us in this much at least, is to keep one of these sectarian groups from coming to power and making it national policy to subjugate and persecute those who do not conform to their particular belief system or do not have the same ethnic background. The Iraqi people have a chance to institute a government that will not allow sensless brutality and which will ensure no one political ideal comes to dictate the will of the people, unless, of course, the people will it.

That is a chance I would take. If taken it may, in forty years or so, lead to a population where Sunni, Shiite and Kurd live and work side by side and shake their head at their grandfathers who mutter racial slurs and object to their granddaughters dating members of the other parties.

Or don't take it. Let the strongest rule. In forty years perhaps the hypothetical Sunni governing body will begin a campaign of eradication such as that currently being perpetrated against the Darfur people in Sudan. A situation which the UN does nothing to stop.

Create a government that promotes understanding and acceptance, polices its own citizens and acts as a deterant against its neighbors who promote and support violence against other nations. If the Iraqi people do not want a separation of church and state, then let them form a Theocratic Party. If the population votes it into power then so be it. When the next election comes along, they may be replaced by someone else. If not, then it is the will of the people.

I myself hate that America has become the policemen of the world. In my youth I spoke out against such policies to anyone who would listen. Over time my zeal has cooled simply because I have realized that in a global community, or any community for that matter, policemen perform a necissary function. The simple fact of it is, no one else has the capability or the will to perform that function.

If anyone would like to volunteer, I would firmly support the U.S. becoming the Bus Driver of the World. Use our troop moving capability to ferry someone else's sons and daughters to fight the "necissary" battles for a while.
 
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when the subject is Iraq and the person I'm having a discussion with has no other argument left to defend US policy there, at least at the moment, I may be asked:

"Just tell me one thing, are you glad that Saddam Hussein is out of power?"

And I say: "No".

And the person says: "No?"

And I say: "No. Tell me, if you went into surgery to correct a knee problem and the surgeon mistakenly amputated your entire leg, what would you think if someone then asked you: Are you glad that you no longer have a knee problem? The people of Iraq no longer have a Saddam problem.
 
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Oops, sorry, fouled up copy and paste. Here's what I meant to post.

Abu

I know that you will dismiss it as irrelevant, but I assume that as a resident of Sadr City Shalash is probably Shia?

William Blum has this on InformationClearingHouse: "National Public Radio foreign correspondent ... met earlier this month with a senior Shiite cleric, a man who was described in the NPR report as "a moderate" and as a person trying to lead his Shiite followers into practicing peace and reconciliation. He had been jailed by Saddam Hussein and forced into exile. Jenkins asked him: "What would you think if you had to go back to Saddam Hussein?" The cleric replied that he'd "rather see Iraq under Saddam Hussein than the way it is now."

Blum goes on to list all that has gone wrong in Iraq, and concludes I'm afraid with another medical analogy:
" ... when the subject is Iraq and the person I'm having a discussion with has no other argument left to defend US policy there ... I may be asked:
"Just tell me one thing, are you glad that Saddam Hussein is out of power?"
And I say: "No".
And the person says: "No?"
And I say: "No. Tell me, if you went into surgery to correct a knee problem and the surgeon mistakenly amputated your entire leg, what would you think if someone then asked you: Are you glad that you no longer have a knee problem? The people of Iraq no longer have a Saddam problem."

Why are you complaining about losing your leg? Your knee doesn't hurt any more, does it? And the Anonymouses tell you that anyway, you'll get used to your artificial leg in ten years or so.

Due to a computer glitch at my Library, I've got hold of a copy of Robert Fisk's "Great War for Civilisation" for five days. (There's a huge waiting list.) I am re-reading the chapters about the Iran-Iraq war.
What chills the blood, for me, is Fisk's description of the young Shia travelling to the Front, deliberately seeking martyrdom in your minefields. (Oops, sorry, the Iraqi minefields.)
It reminded me of Chris Allbritton's reporting from Najaf in 2004, before he became a TIME hack, describing the cheerful suicidal courage of the young Sadrists there.
What would happen if the Shiite clerics finally lost patience with this lunatic Occupation?
Would the Shia fight like the Iranians did?
Shalash sounds about ready to.

Circular
 
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Circular,

Huge waiting list (to borrow that book)? Don’t you Kiwis ever buy books? ;)

To answer your question, Shalash is indeed ‘Shiite’, but he’s too fond of his 'dailt measure' of Arag (the Iraqi national alcoholic drink) to be tagged as one!! By the way, Juan Cole today quoted a leading figure in the Sadrist movement saying that their movement was infiltrated by some nasty characters. I suppose this confirms what poor Shalash was saying.

Those nuts Fisk referred to were Iranians (There is a difference; please refer back to my essay on Iran and Iraq). I personally heard numerous first-hand stories - horrifying stories - along those lines. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have our own fanatics!Try and find one good word said about America by a Shiite cleric over the past three years!

Re the cleric… you may remember the story I told once about an old Shiite woman from Najaf whose son disappeared after the 1991 saying that she felt safer under Saddam. Some of these Fifth Americans simply have no idea! I was discussing this a few days ago with a number of friends (Sunni and Shiite, if you insist) and the consensus was that Saddam would win in a landslide if he took part in any elections. Does this reflect something of what these people have done to this country?

Latest joke in Baghdad: In desperation, the Americans ask Saddam if he could help bring order into the country. He said he needed one hour and 5 minutes. When asked he said he needed the hour to have a good bath, a hair cut, a shave and a change of clothes. And the 5 minutes? That’s the time he needed to go on TV.

The latest irony: During the time Saddam was being tried for killing 148 people who allegedly attacked him, some 148,000 Iraqis were killed who didn’t attack anybody.

Did you read what our friend Patriot wrote above? Their bigotry ultimately bubbles out, doesn’t it? The ‘people of the Middle East’. Hopeless, aren’t they? They They just cannot accept their countries to be taken away or occupied. Hopeless lot.

Oh, and the Guy in the Sky thing. Very convincing coming from a country who (twice) elected a ‘born again’ gentleman who receives directions from beyond the stars! Very convincing indeed.

This reminds me: my good friend Alex Dobos (who is an American of Hungarian extraction) tells me that GWB said something in Hungary about Iraqis needing to learn something from them. II thought that was hilarious. But they are doing exactly that: revolting against an invader.

For some reason I keep remembering an old movie called “Being There”. Peter Sellers. Remember that one?
 
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Abu said: Our Anonymous “Guy” would like us to wait some 10 years under these conditions and be happy with ‘their’ word that everything will be fine!

Abu, I did not say everything would be fine. Frankly, I have no idea where this is heading. I'm not an Iraqi and am not in Iraq.

I simply asked where you saw Iraq in 5 to 10 years. No need to be defensive with me.

Anonymous Guy
 
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Bruno said: The SA problem was solved through exhaustive multilateral negotiations and the country was passed mostly intact from one group to another, like adults.

Bruno, the BBC ran a series of reports on the state of South Africa as part of its coverage of the 30th anniversary of the bloody Soweta uprising (about 500 dead). The report indicated that black South Africans are still "mired in poverty." Moreover, the country is struggling with land redistribution. Finally, I understand that you need a bodyguard to even go shopping in Cape Town.

These reports made it sound like there are still major problems in SA that are far from "solved." I've travelled widely, but I've never been to South Africa. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on these reports.
 
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Oops. That last post regarding SA was by me.

Anonymous Guy
 
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Yes Abu, I know the basiji were Iranian, but they were Shia Iranians. What I was wondering was whether the Iraqi Shia would be capable of showing the same extent of commitment or sacrifice if sufficiently provoked.
There was a long-forgotten Peter Sellars movie called 'The Mouse that Roared' about a small European country that declares war on the USA, in the hope of being defeated and thereby qualifying for aid.
I guess countries like Vietnam and now Iraq that refuse to be defeated don't have the right idea?

Circular
 
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Yes, I suppose you would think it bigotry to lump a people occupying a territory less than a third the size of the United States into one category, "Middle Eastern People."

However, I find it somewhat hypocratic that you can refer to the "American People" which have a far more diverse conglamorate of ethnic backgrounds than three middle easts with a straight face.

The difference is that we no longer kill each other over these differences.

Of those 136,000 Iraqis, how many were killed by Americans? How many by other Middle Easterners?

I love debates where people try and tear apart the somantics of a sentance rather than addressing the meaning behind the words.

It's easy to feel safe when menaced by a rabid lion if you're a mouse in your hole. But as soon as you poke your head up and start squeaking . . .
 
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Here you are, Abu. This should cheer you up.

"People in Britain view the United States as a vulgar, crime-ridden society obsessed with money and led by an incompetent president whose Iraq policy is failing, according to a newspaper poll.

The United States is no longer a symbol of hope to Britain and the British no longer have confidence in their transatlantic cousins to lead global affairs, according to the poll published in The Daily Telegraph.

The YouGov poll found that 77 percent of respondents disagreed with the statement that the US is "a beacon of hope for the world".

As Americans prepared to celebrate the 230th anniversary of their independence on Tuesday, the poll found that only 12 percent of Britons trust them to act wisely on the global stage. This is half the number who had faith in the Vietnam-scarred White House of 1975.

A massive 83 percent of those questioned said that the United States doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks.

With much of the worst criticism aimed at the US adminstration, the poll showed that 70 percent of Britons like Americans a lot or a little.

US President George W. Bush fared significantly worse, with just one percent rating him a "great leader" against 77 percent who deemed him a "pretty poor" or "terrible" leader.

More than two-thirds who offered an opinion said America is essentially an imperial power seeking world domination. And 81 per cent of those who took a view said President George W Bush hypocritically championed democracy as a cover for the pursuit of American self-interests.

US policy in Iraq was similarly derided, with only 24 percent saying they felt that the US military action there was helping to bring democracy to the country.

In answer to other questions, a majority of the Britons questions described Americans as uncaring, divided by class, awash in violent crime, vulgar, preoccupied with money, ignorant of the outside world, racially divided, uncultured and in the most overwhelming result (90 percent of respondents) dominated by big business."
(from Yahoo)

See it's not just me.

Circular
 
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Good browsing tonight. From Informationclearinghouse:

"Yesterday afternoon, drinking a cup of coffee while sitting in the Jesse Brown V.A. Medical Center on Chicago's south side, a Veterans Administration cop walked up to me and said, "OK, you've had your 15 minutes, it's time to go."
"Huh?", I asked intelligently, not quite sure what he was talking about.
"You can't be in here protesting," Officer Adkins said, pointing to my Veterans For Peace shirt.
"Well, I'm not protesting, I'm having a cup of coffee," I returned, thinking that logic would convince Adkins to go back to his earlier duties of guarding against serious terrorists.
Flipping his badge open, he said, "No, not with that shirt. You're protesting and you have to go."
Beginning to get his drift, I said firmly, "Not before I finish my coffee."
He insisted that I leave, but still not quite believing my ears, I tried one more approach to reason.
"Hey, listen. I'm a veteran. This is a V.A. facility. I'm sitting here not talking to anybody, having a cup of coffee. I'm not protesting and you can't kick me out."
"You'll either go or we'll arrest you," Adkins threatened.
"Well, you'll just have to arrest me," I said, wondering what strange land I was now living in.
You know the rest. Handcuffed, led away to the facility's security office past people with surprised looks on their faces, read my rights, searched, and written up.
The officer who did the formalities, Eric Ousley, was professional in his duties. When I asked him if he was a vet, it turned out he had been a hospital corpsman in the Navy. We exchanged a couple sea stories. He uncuffed me early. And he allowed as to how he would only charge me with disorderly conduct, letting me go on charges of criminal trespass and weapons possession -- a pocket knife -- which he said would have to be destroyed (something I rather doubt since it was a nifty Swiss Army knife with not only a bottle opener, but a tweezers and a toothpick).
After informing me I could either pay the $275 fine on the citation or appear in court, Ousley escorted me off the premises, warning me if I returned with "that shirt" on, I'd be arrested and booked into jail.
I'm sure I could go back to officers Adkins' and Ousleys' fiefdom with a shirt that said, "Nuke all the hajis," or "Show us your tits," or any number of truly obscene things and no one would care. Just so it's not "that shirt" again.
And just for the record? I'm not paying the fine. I'll see Adkins and Ousley and Dubya's Director of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, if he wants to show up, in United States District Court on the appointed date. And if there's a Chicago area attorney who'd like to take the case, I'd really like to sue them -- from Dubya on down. I have to believe that this whole country has not yet gone insane, just the government. This kind of behavior can't be tolerated. It must be challenged.
Mike Ferner served as a Navy corpsman during Vietnam and is obviously a member of Veterans For Peace."

Not evil or incompetent, Abu. Just insane - the whole weird country.
If he'd worn a shirt saying "Veterans for War" he would have been fine.

Circular
 
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Isn't America great? If you get hassled by the Man you go to court and sue him and everyone involved.

If that guy had any balls he would have gone back in the same shirt everyday and made them arrest him. Then he would have been in court the next day. Or the next monday at the latest. Not to mention I don't think it ever actually happened.

I've never wanted to burn an American Flag in my life, but had they ratified the ammendment making it illegal I would have been down on the courthouse lawn wearing a stars and stripes diaper and cape, planted a hundred flags in the grass and taken a blow torch to the whole field.

When the press asked me why I did it I'd tell them I wanted to be the first American to go to Federal prison for burning a piece of cloth.

America's not perfect. Infact, I'd even say its broken. I do wonder what any of this has to do with what the Iraqi people are doing to ween themselves away from American Military support and to ensure that their government will remain in power once America is gone.

I understand that much of the anger from the Iraqi people stems from the U.S. invading in the first place, but I have to wonder if they actually WANT America to pull out now. Do they want the invader gone so badly that they'd throw away their shield and face the barbarian hordes naked to the world?

Now that hostilities between Israel and Palestine have commenced yet again I fear America will never be able to pull out of the middle east without abandoning the entire sub-continent to fullscale war. If Iran decides to pick a side and get in on the action the entire area will blow and the rest of the world will no longer be able to afford to stay out of the fight. Sides will be chosen and World War III will truly have begun.

I'm not particularly religious, but I did read Genisis and Revelations once. The line that came to me when I saw the 747s crash into the WTC was "And the birds shall fall from the sky . . ."

World War will be an extremely bad thing. There are too many countries with nuclear technology and too many people who would be too willing to use the bomb. Perhaps Bush, for one.

Oh, which reminds me, to reiterate my point that, if the Iraqi people manage to establish a government that will help to put an end to radical islamic terrorism and senseless killings, they will in 20 or 50 years become a world power and perhaps have good relations with the U.S. and other countries . . . Look at Japan. We actuallay nuked them, and now they are one of our strongest allies. Alot can change in fifty years.

Hopefully it won't be the air becoming breathable again after the fallout.
 
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Patriot,

Look for Rosie Malek-Yonan's speech to the American congress to see what's been happening 'on our watch' in Iraq to a generally pro-American community. If we continue in this way for the next decade, they'll all be either dead or out of the country. (slight overstatement)

If I were an Iraqi moderate aware of what has been happening with the Assyrians, my response to America would be 'if this is how you aid and protect your allies here, I will be grateful if you leave as quickly as possible'.

Please don't respond until you've read Rosie Malek-Yonan's speech. (pdf file here: http://wwwc.house.gov/international_relations/109/yon063006.pdf )
 
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Circular,

Please listen to (and watch) this one!


http://nobravery.cf.huffingtonpost.com/
 
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The situation is not the result of incompetence, and certainly not "evil." Leaders simply underestimated the level of violence and destruction Saddam loyalists would be willing to commit against their countrymen. US motives were honorable, and the situation will improve more as time progresses.
It's easy for some to overlook the many good things that have happened in Iraq while focusing on the bad. Like they say, bad news sells. I've done two tours of duty in Iraq, and the reality I've seen there is very different from what is shown in the media. Again; bad news sells.
 
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Mr. Al-Shawi,

Is there an FAQ or an "About the Blogger/Author" section here that tells your readers a bit about your background? I've learned a little from the web, but would like to know more. (Maybe the answer is "buy my book" :) )

Anonymous Guy
 
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Abu - from Circular

Thanks for the reference to the James Blunt video. I guess. I'm sorry but it didn't do that much for me - I'm not necessarily or virulently anti-war or pacifist, just anti this particular dishonest and stupid "war." As far as anti-war goes, Siegfreid Sassoon and Wilfred Owen are more my cup of tea.
(If it's any consolation, I note that the 'Marlboro Man' Marine the video ends with has now been discharged suffering from PTSD, and is waiting on his disability pension.)

What has struck me lately is the sheer volume of the US Army reports of killing or detention of "suspected" insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. When they eventually come to write the history of this mad debacle, I think the analysts might decide that one main factor in the US losing the war was the tactical doctrines of their military, in particular this insane conviction that shooting a "suspected" insurgent is just the same as shooting a real one. Their senior commander in Iraq actually said exactly that a few months back -"for every one that I kill, I'm creating ten more." But they don't seem to be able to stop doing it.
US military leaders claimed after Gulf 1 that they had "kicked the Vietnam syndrome." But in Iraq they have resurrected it with a vengeance. From an old book of Vietnam recollections (yes, I did buy a book once:)
"The whole time I was a helicopter door gunner in Vietnam, we never took a prisoner. Just wasted them, dropped down to check for papers, and split. If it was dead and Vietnamese, it was Vietcong."
"HQ, we can confirm that body count of 9 from the platoon ahead of us. There's two old men, two women, two kids and a baby."
Sound familiar? They made those skinny half-starved little guys in black pyjamas so mad that they just wouldn't let up until the Yankees went home. And they're doing it all over again with the Iraqis. Isn't an inability to learn from experience a key characteristic of stupid people?

On a more serious note, been meaning to ask: you state somewhere above that you attended a conference for "tribal leaders" - you've mentioned similar things in the past. In my belated way, I've just deduced that this means you are a tribal leader yourself.

Are you a Sheikh?

There was a very old pop song, "When we're dancing close together, cheek to cheek." I recall a University revue in the 1960's that included a skit featuring two very effeminate Arabic gentlemen. They were dancing close together, Sheikh to Sheikh.

(Can't do that sort of thing nowdays - the Race Relations Conciliator would be down on you like a ton of bricks.)

Anyway, they were wearing turbans, and you reckon you don't wear one.

Do you wear a tea towel, like Yasser Arafat?

Would you like one with a Kiwi on it?

Stars and Stripes?

Circular
 
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Anonymous “Guy”,


At your fingertip - free of charge - there are almost half a million words I have written over the past two years if you are really interested in learning something. You will find more than you bargained for.

Please don’t buy the book. It would be a waste of your money and my words.



Circular,

I’m sorry you didn’t like that song. Somehow, it touched me (I thought you might have liked the line: “A nation blind to their disgrace”!!!). I liked the “sheikh to sheikh” bit!

You put one tough question there regarding learning from Vietnam. As to your other questions, well… the answers are in the book ;) However I can categorically tell you that I never put any ‘tea towel’ or other gadgets on my head, although I came under constant pressure to do so!

I remember one instance when I paid dearly for that unwise decision: It was in the early ‘80’s. I worked long hours in the sun at the farm. I got heat stroke (in fact, I still suffer from that to this day). Anyway, I started reading about it and came across a ‘local wisdom’ from Africa or India that ‘only Englishmen and mad dogs go out in the noon sun’. I knew for certain that I was no Englishman!!

This reminds me of an incident that took place a few years ago. I used to take my elder son and nephew to tribal functions (mostly for ‘training’ purposes). My nephew decided that he liked that ‘tea towel’ with the black band (called ‘igal’, which, incidentally is almost ‘sacred’ to these people to the extent that knocking somebody’s igal is almost equivalent to murder in their code and carries the same fine?). He wore one several times when we went into the country.

On one occasion, there was a procession of cars going to such a function. I stopped to ask for directions. The driver behind me was apparently distracted at the time and slammed right into my car. I got out. All three gentlemen in that car had their igals knocked out, so was my nephew’s. I couldn’t help laughing loudly. The driver was so angry! He said something like “You didn’t even look at the damage to the cars; all you can see is our knocked igals!!!”… I and my son had a wonderful time on the way back home making fun of my nephew’s fallen igal. He never wore one again!
 
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Bob,

I have read the speech, as you wished, though I did not delve into the attached laundry list of crimes committed against those people.

A few passages stood out in my mind, which I will repeat here:

"We Assyrians are a nation without boundaries. For thousands of years we have survived by sheer will power."

"Today’s Iraq was once part of Assyria. Assyria was the first nation to accept Christianity. The Assyrian Church was founded in 33 A.D. Today, my Assyrian nation’s future is in serious trouble. Iraq’s Assyrian population of 1.4 million before the Iraq war has now dwindled down to nearly 800,000 with no one protecting their interests."

"Today Assyrians are one of the most vulnerable minorities in the world. Under our watch, the largest Assyrian exodus is underway. It is estimated that if things continue to proceed as they now are, within 10 years, the Assyrian population of Iraq will be eradicated because of the ethnic cleansing, the forced exodus, and migration."

"Today’s Middle-East must become ethnically balanced. Just like there is a Jewish state, and an Arab state, there is a need for a Christian state."

These lines stood out to me more than any others because they exemplify everything that is flawwed in the Middle East today.

The problems the Assyrians are having seem to arise from the fact that they are holding themselves aloof. Like the Palastinians, and the Israelies before them, they continue to think of themselves as a "nation" and want an entire country of their own, segregated and controled so they are the majority power. When, infact, they once had a nation and lost it.

I am in no way blaming the Assyrians or Christians for the horrors being perpetrated upon them by Islamic fundamentalists. If you are beaten and robbed it is no ones fault but the mugger. The question is, do you remain beaten and try to find the gold you lost, or do you get up, brush yourself off and try to make a new fortune?

It seems to me that the various peoples of the Middle-East, this goes for everyone, not just the Assyrians, try too hard to hold onto the past. To recreate the various states which leant their particular political belief system power. They each had their "golden age" and, like all such periods they faded away. Instead of moving on, accepting a world that has changed around them, they seek to resurrect the past, Lazarus-like, expecting miracles.

When in reality they are flogging a dead horse.

When the people of the Middle East stop thinking of themselves as "Kurd" or "Shiite" or "Sunni" or "Assyrian" or "Jew" or "Palastinian" or "Muslim" or "Christian" and begin thinking of themselves as People, just trying to live in today's world as best they can, they will understand freedom. It would be as if we took all the people of America, segregated them by color, further segregated them by religious and ethnic background, seperating the Irish Catholics from the Roman Catholics, the Italians from the Greeks, the Ethiopian African from the Congo, and gave them each a region of the country in which to live and told them to kill anyone else not of their particular ethnicity who tried to set up shop within their borders.

It's moronic. It's incompetant. It's evil.

When the world looks at the U.S. they do not see Georgia, California, Montana, South Carolina, North Dakota, Minnesota. They see the United frickin States. Each of these states is seperate, and while living in one is much the same as living in another, there is a large diversity between the people of each, the laws which each state upholds, and the moral current of the people which inhabits each one. Yet the people of Kansas do not raid Nebraska with the intent to maim and torture because they use a different arbitrary word to describe themselves. We are all human, no matter what we call the invisible man in the sky.

The world as a whole does not look at the middle east and see Kurd, Shiite, Sunni, Arab, Jew. They don't look at Iraq, Iran, Israel, the U.A.E. They see the Middle frickin East. That the people of the middle east want to segregate themselves is, to me, insanity. It is our differences, as people, that make living worth getting out of bed in the morning.

The world is full. There will be no more pioneering. There is no place for a beliegered people to go when they are fed up and form a nation of their own, or to just live by whatever means they are able. Borders are becoming maleable. More intangible with each passing day. The EU was a step toward making all of Europe one nation. A poor, stumbling, infantile step, but first steps always are.

If the Middle East does not do the same, creating a universal government that encompasses all the nations and nationalities within their geo-strategic borders they will be left further and further behind on the world stage until they are seen as nothing more than a nation of toddlers throwing a tantrum. Albeit a bloody, horrific tantrum.

If the Assyrians want to be left in peace, stop being Assyrian. Stop trying to create a nation where none exists. Be people. Whether it is Iraqi, Iranian, Jordanian, or American. Sure it sucks having to leave the place you call home, the only place your ancestors have lived for thousands of years. If I lived in one place my whole life I would regret leaving as well. But if I lived in a place where people tortured me on a daily basis, and another place existed where I could live in peace, it wouldn't take me long to pack my bags.

Do I think it fair or Just that a people should be forced from their home? Not at all. It's abhorant. But until a system of government is in power that will do what governments are designed to do, that is protect the people which created them, and all those within their borders, there will be no fairness or Justice in Iraq. There can be no peaceful protest, no brave stands, no "I shall not budge" until such a system exists. The non-violence movement preached by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would never have succeeded in a nation without a government policing its people, keeping those who had a right to live in their homes from being murdered in their beds for refusing to leave. Such a movement will not work in Iraq, perhaps not anywhere in the Middle-East, in today's world. Not yet. Someday . . .

Rosie Malek-Yonan wants media attention brought to the plight of the Assyrian people. As if it is somehow worse to be maimed and murdered if you are Assyrian than anyone else. There is no coverage in America about the Assyrian people, but I garantee if I conducted searches for the incidents cited in her attachment to her speech I could find most, if not all of them mentioned as one tragedy or another by some news organization which reports within America.

It does not matter that these horrors are visited upon Assyrians. What matters is that it was done to People. People like you and me.
 
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Just out of interest, Abu, I was chatting with an Iraqi woman yesterday, she was talking about the feelings associated with being an unwilling expatriate.
She said that there were about thirty Iraqi doctors working at the public hospital in Hamilton. Hamilton is a small NZ city, maybe 100,000 people, in the heart of dairy-farming country. It has the reputation of being a little unexciting, to put it politely.
There was an old joke about a competition: First Prize, a week's holiday in Hamilton. Second Prize, two week's holiday in Hamilton.
Thirty doctors must be virtually the entire medical staff of the hospital. Allowing say five people per family, that means about 150 Iraqis preferring the crushing boredom of provincial NZ to the excitement and glamour of Baghdad.

Are you detirmined to be the last educated person left in Iraq?

Circular
 
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Anonymous “Guy”,

I have met too many people like you on this blog to be impressed by, or drawn into, these little childish games. If you have really read what I have been writing and learned something from it, do you think it is possible that I would ‘sell’ myself so vulgarly? … And to whom?

You give yourself away. The statement you make in this respect says a lot about your own make-up. I say “statement” because I do not believe it was an honest conclusion.

And frankly I do not care much to enlighten you about myself, my background or what I stand for. I find it futile and degrading to pursue this dialogue.

You are not doing yourself or your country a service. On the contrary, you only confirm the very dim view I have of certain segments of the American public. Please desist.


Circular,

Good morning,

Well, I only have my little boy with me down here and he too is leaving in a few days (He was convinced after the senseless murder of a neighbor’s son the day before yesterday). My wife is in torment, torn between this stubborn old fool and her children. She is threatening to come back if I don’t join them. What a dilemma.

Good night!
 
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Dr al-Shawi,

I'm disappointed you censored my post. Unlike many of the posts here, my post contained no vulgarity or other personal attacks. I simply posted what I learned in a quick Google search for "Ibrahim al-Shawi."

I assume that the remainder of your post dealt with this quote: "'If you were looking for a leader in Iraq, you do not have to go far, he is the one,' is how one of his friends described him."

This quote appears immediately following an article written by you. (Here: http://www.redress.btinternet.co.uk/ishawi.htm)

The quote also appears here: http://www.veteransforpeace.org/Reform_in_the_middle_031804.htm

I assumed you provided this quote along with your article. Perhaps the on-line magazine that published your article interviewed your friend. I'm sorry if my assumption was incorrect.

Anonymous Guy
 
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Oops. Silly Circular. I never thought to Google Ibrahim Al-Shawi.
Anonymous Guy is good for something after all.
Is this, like, an hereditary or inherited position, Abu?
Does it mean you are under some sort of "noblesse oblige" to remain and exercise leadership, whatever happens?
Hell of a position to be in!

Circular
 
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Perhaps our host doesn't post information about his background (which is impressive) out of a sense of humility or perhaps due to security concerns. In either event, I won't post any additional information out of respect for his wishes.

Anonymous Guy
 
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Perhaps our host chooses not to post information regarding his background (which is impressive) out of a sense of humility or due to security concerns. In either event, I won't post additional information out of respect for his wishes.

Anonymous Guy
 
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It's somewhat amusing to me that someone who only calls themselves "anonymous guy" is so interested in someone else's identity.

You must be american. Our hypocracy has sunken deep into your psyche.
 
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Mr. Patriot,

Trying to climb out from under the dog pile, eh? Funny.

Keep posting brotha!

Anonymous Guy
 
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Anonymous Guy

You may be suffering from a misunderstanding.
I don't think Abu deleted your post because you were compromising his identity. I suspect that he deleted it because you appeared to be insinuating that he was motivated by vanity or personal ambition.
We know that in your unfortunate country personal attack on an interlocutor is seen as a legitimate and indeed desirable tactic in debate. You need to try to understand that out here in the real world we prefer to address the actual issues under discussion, rather than just sneering and sniping at one another, which we see as rather childish.
I hope this is of some help to you. You still haven't clarified where you actually stand on any of the issues being debated, apart from suggesting that Abu may find it was all worthwhile at some unspecified time in the future. Have you anything else to offer?

Abu

As to motives, this was on TodayInIraq a few days ago:

""We're going to be on the ground in Iraq as soldiers and citizens for years. We're going to be running a colony almost." -- Paul Bremer to Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce Meeting, February 23 2003"

You will note that that was actually before the invasion. I haven't been able to find the original source. But it certainly would explain what Bremer was up to during his futile tenure as Viceroy.

If it looks like a colony, waddles like a colony and quacks like a colony, then it probably is a colony.

Unfortunately it seems more like a dead duck now.

Circ
 
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Anonymous Guy,

Not at all. I never debated the fact that America is the most hypocritical country in the world. I firmly believe it is so. I've stated time and time again that the American system of government has become flawed to the point where only radical, revolutionary change can fix it. I believe that this must be a revolution fought with words and ideals rather than bombs dropped from the heavens and tanks which are unstopable with the weapons our government has left us while claiming that they have not impinged upon the American people's Right to Bear Arms. A right that was granted precisely so that the People would have the capability to instigate an armed revolt against a government that became overly oppressive.

The reason I come to this site and post my trite little messages is not to convince Iraq to adopt the American way of life, but rather an attempt to show rational Iraqi's that the attack upon their country was not completely unfounded. There were military and socially strategic reasons for the invasion.

Is it Just? No. We never should have gone to war with Iraq. Until time travel becomes a feasible way to fix past mistakes, however, there is no way to undo what has been done. I come here in an effort to convince people like Abu, in whom I have noticed a marked change in demeanor since I first started visiting this site, that the only way to end the American occupation in Iraq is to work with us in order to build an Iraq strong enough to stand on its own.

America will always maintain some presence in Iraq. I am not so foolish as to even attempt to deny that. However, like Germany and Japan, the military bases in Iraq will soon become part of the landscape. They will be integrated into Iraqi society, not the other way around. Something which is always there, but in the background, like a paper factory, or an oilwell. No one wants to live by them, sometimes they stink, but after a while no one really notices them.

This is not a war America can win. The People of the Middle East must win it for themselves. I say the People of the Middle East, and not Iraqi in this instance because the arbitrary lines which constitute "Iraq" come no where near demarking the actual Nations which inhabit that area.

As this war has proven.

(By the way, I have no need to climb out from anywhere, as no one responds to my posts anymore. I believe this is an effort to get me to go away.)

The thing which disappoints me most about Abu is that he continues to point the finger of blame into the past and has not posted anything about what he, and others of his social standing and caste, are doing to make Iraq a Nation again. This site could be a large step in the right direction, but other than the few regulars who post here I do not know how many people actually visit it, and of those people how many are Middle Eastern. It seems that Abu's own people are represented only by he himself.
 
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I wonder how that "No Bravery" song would play on top of the video of the two U.S. soldiers being brutally tortured and murdered. Or maybe over the murder and mutilation of Margaret Hassan, the CARE worker. Boy, those Sunni terrorists sure are brave!
 
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Dear Abu Khaleel,

While reading your most interesting book, I’ll try to answer some questions posed by your post.

Of course there weren’t any “unforeseen factors” for what unfortunately happened to your country as a consequence of the 2003 American invasion. Outside of Iraq (and of the US) anybody who had been aware of international politics in these past few decades could predict: 1) that for Iraq the result of the US invasion - and especially of the US occupation - would be utter chaos and ruin; 2) that, as a result of the downing of the secular dictatorship in Iraq, Islamic fundamentalism of all kinds (Salafi, Wahabi/Deobandi, al-Qaidist or Shia) would grow exponentially, both in Iraq and all throughout the world.

US “incompetence at the execution level” was of course no more than a given condition, something that (I imagine) the planners and masterminds of the criminal adventure were perfectly aware of beforehand.
Yes, of course both the Iraqis and world public opinion have been astounded by the appalling extent of this incompetence among the branches of the American Government, both in Iraq and (for instance) in the aftermath of the Katrina hurricane.
Some things would be incredible (as you say, “Is such a level of incompetence possible?”); were it not that they are true; and that these ‘divergences from common sense’, as one could call them, are loyally mirrored in the contents of the posts by pro-war American posters to Iraqi blogs (especially to those blogs where, differently from yours, they can fully express their true ‘views’…).
For instance, the frame of mind of the US military, from the very top down, defies reason, and shows that, as an institution, they weren’t able to learn a single thing from Vietnam.
It is obvious that their whole strategy (and the rules of engagement that spring from it, with their ‘force protection by overwhelming force’) is quite appropriate for waging war against conventional armies, but it is as obvious to everybody older than five that it is completely self-defeating in most other situations.
In the case of a military occupation (either aimed to ‘bringing freedom & democracy’, or just to take control of, and rule over, a foreign country), where the US ‘force protection etc.’ inevitably translates into freely shooting civilians like rabbits, humiliating them, and destroying their properties, such modus operandi has as a perfectly foreseeable result the growth of an ever stronger resistance on the part of the occupied population, and increasing losses on the part of the occupier.
And it is even more incredible that every time the British military, who had publicly aired, over and over, their increasing unease about the obvious effects of the US modus operandi through their informal mouthpiece, ‘The Daily Telegraph’, would talk to the top brass of the US occupation army, these latter would ‘just laugh like mad’ (according to the same ‘Daily Telegraph’).
As far as this strategic incompetence by the US military is in particular concerned, there can be only two kinds of explanation: 1) that since nobody, in most countries, expects their military to be geniuses, but nobody expects them to be totally irresponsible idiots either, this shows that the US are in a stage of terminal decline; 2) that this criminal idiocy on the part of the US military is instead caused and driven by a fanatical ideology (a bit like the Nazis - who as a result lost the war - in Russia and in parts of occupied Europe in the Forties; only that in the case of the present-day US military such ideology is more openly based on religious fanaticism, of the so-called ‘American evangelical’ kind – see General Boyklin before the attack on Fallujah).
Personally I suspect that No. 2) may be the case.

I believe that the unfolding Iraqi tragedy (that, I’m afraid, is just at the beginning – the Iraqi night is not over yet) is, as you hint, precisely “due to evil intentions at the planning level that created conditions leading to incompetence at the execution level”.
You got the ‘creative destruction’ and chaos openly voiced as most desirable by some Neo-Con ideologists, such as Michael Ledeen, in order to carry out a project of US world domination (or ‘New American Century’, as per PNAC). The creation, and then the pumping up, of a credible enemy in the form of ‘Islamic fundamentalism’, very visible but ultimately impotent outside of Islamic countries (differently from the other perspective enemies of such a project, such as China, Russia and the EU, to be in this way surrounded and ‘pre-emptied’), was imperative, in order to keep some Western Governments and US public opinion on board. To this aim Saddam’s Iraq was (together with Syria) the perfect target.
On top of this, as far as Iraq is concerned there were the long standing interests of two regional powers, Israel and Iran: to destroy and ‘Lebanonise’ the country in the case of the former, to install an allied Iraqi ‘Islamic Republic’ over at least half of it in the case of the latter. Israel had of course direct access to the American masterminds (and there is the suspicion that some of these could have been, and be at present, ‘double-jobbing’ for the Israeli right); in the case of Iran, their input on US decisions was more subtle, but undoubtedly present as well (Chalabi & Co.).
That the policy adopted by the US Government was not ‘freedom & democracy’ of any kind, but Ledeen’s ‘creative destruction’ (preferred as well, for their own agendas, by Israel and Iran), became clear (outside Iraq and the US) when General Grener was kicked out by Bush and Cheney, and the Neo-Con Bremer put in his stead; and the usage of the US military as an occupation force for any period longer than a few weeks would have produced such results anyway.
Of course, all this could (and did) create immediate results that are at odds with what American public opinion had been fed with and expected (‘freedom & democracy’, etc.), and which could apparently put the furthering of the project in jeopardy (the US Iraqi quagmire has - up to now - prevented them from invading Syria and delayed an attack on Iran); but I’m afraid that the ideologists running the present American Administration may think that the best way of overcoming such obstacles is to ‘double’, widening their war to new fronts, such as Iran (precisely like Hitler did in 1941).
We do live in evil times (and in Iraq you unfortunately directly see how evil); but I’m confident that evil won’t prevail, eventually.

As far as Italy is concerned, I’m happy that we managed to kick Berlusconi out, and that as a consequence all Italian troops will be out of Iraq by October at the latest (I would have preferred a faster pace, but anyway… the fake ‘Coalition’ is dead and gone!).
And I’m happy that the change of government has allowed the Italian judges and police to clamp down on American terrorism in my country.
Twenty-six CIA agents (among them the former chief of the CIA in Italy, Jeff Castelli; his deputy, Sabrina de Sousa; the CIA chief for Northern Italy, Robert Seldon Lady; and other important ones, like Ralph Russomando and Betnie Madero), who had kidnapped an Egyptian in Milan in February 2003, have been formally charged, and are on the run from Italian justice (although the US Government won’t surrender them, of course).
The Berlusconi government had refused to pass the extradition request for the first 22 of these 26 US agents by the Italian magistrates on to the US authorities.
The Egyptian (on whom the Italian judges were investigating) was brought to Egypt, where he was horribly tortured for seven months, and where he is still detained. Berlusconi and his Government had (falsely, it now seems) denied any knowledge or involvement in the crime.
These American international terrorists had as well organised an illegal ‘Counter-Terrorist Intelligence Centre’ with Marco Mancini, the ambitious second in command of the Italian secret service (SISMI), who has now been arrested with his Italian cronies who had helped the Americans to organise the kidnap and other traitorous operations (he even wanted to become a double agent for the CIA, a mole inside Italian intelligence on behalf of the US!).
Among these operations, the forgery of the famous ‘Niger Yellow Cake’ documents (in which it seems the very Ledeen had a hand) that were used by the US as evidence of Saddam’s ‘nukoolar’ weapons and as justification for invading Iraq; the hiring by the dark group of spooks of journalist Renato Farina, the deputy director of ‘Libero’, a pro-Berlusconi rag, with the task of spying on other journalists, disseminate false information, and even cover up for the ‘Niger’ fake in front of a Parliament’s commission; and the wholesale spying, by illegal bugging, on journalists, judges and politicians in order to blackmail or defame them to further American interests.
New crimes (and the traitorous complicity with US ‘dirty ops’ by the Berlusconi government) are going to be revealed, since Mancini, the chief of the group of Italian traitors now disbanded, from his prison cell has decided to sing like a canary.
What I say is what is written in the main (and generally pro-American) Italian daily (‘Il Corriere della Sera’), not in some obscure ‘extremist’ source! But the American public has not heard anything about this. The only US article I managed to find where at least part of the ongoing story is reported is:
http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=9278
So, dear Abu Khaleel, yes, despite these gloomy times I’m at least glad (for the sake of the Iraqis as well!) that we managed to overthrow Berlusconi.
 
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aha! didn't look for just a while and what do i see?? a new post at A Glimpse on the so intriguing and original Shalash! ;)
 
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Abu Khaleel,

I'm sure you're preoccupied with events in your own country, but have you been following what's going on in Lebanon?

Lebanon had been the one accomplishment of the Bush Administration in the Middle East. It had been the one country where President Bush could really say that "democracy is on the march", and where many citizens actually feel gratitude to the United States for getting Syria out. And yet, for whatever geostrategic and/or political reasons, our President has given a green light to Israel to destroy Lebanon for the sake of two kidnapped IDF soldiers.

There's a lesson there for Iraqis.
 
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Peter says"our President has given a green light to Israel to destroy Lebanon for the sake of two kidnapped IDF soldiers."

That's just silly. The US government has expressly warned Israel not to destroy the Lebanese government. Destruction of the Lebanese government is not in the interest of Israel or the U.S. Get your facts straight.

We have Iran and Syria to thank for the current crisis in the Middle East. They are also responsible for many of the problems experienced by Iraqis. Time to wake up and place the blame where it belongs.
 
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That's just silly. The US government has expressly warned Israel not to destroy the Lebanese government. Destruction of the Lebanese government is not in the interest of Israel or the U.S. Get your facts straight.

Have you been reading the Lebanese blogs, including the anti-Hizbollah/anti-Syria ones? What exactly is Israel is doing when it bombs the shit out of Lebanon's airport, highways, roads, bridges, infrastructure, etc, not to mention its most densely populated residental neighborhoods? Whatever Bush says about not wanting to see the Lebanese government destroyed, his administration hasn't lifted a finger to stop Israel from doing it. Even Seniora's proposal for a ceasefire was rejected by the Bush Administration out of hand.

The Iraqi comments on BBC Arabic were in response to the events in Gaza, not Lebanon. I have no idea whether they are representative of Iraqi public opinion or not and, anyway, they're irrelevant to my point:

Lebanon is supposed to be different from Palestine. It has democratic elections and freedom of the press, it is the most "Westernized" of all the Arab countries, its citizens are actually grateful to Bush for getting Syria out, etc. It's the model for Bush's vision of a Democratic Middle East. And yet Bush -whether for political reasons (the power of the Israel lobby) or geostrategic ones (to roll back the Syria-Iran-Hizbollah-Hamas axis) -is still not lifting a finger to prevent Lebanon from being destroyed.

Again, what lessons does Lebanon hold for Iraqis?
 
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I'm wathing the news right now with a reporter speaking live in Israel. You can hear the rockets whizzing by and landing nearby.

The targets you've mentioned all have military significance. Israel is trying to cut off and destroy Hizballah. If you think about it, you will see this.

With regard to U.S. efforts to solve the current conflict, there is not much we can do as rockets continue to rain into Israel. In any event, you must have missed our efforts in the G8 summit and the joint statement issued today.

Finally, have Iran or Syria "lifted a finger" to solve this crisis? They could stop it with a snap of their fingers. Hell, they started it.
 
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This war continues to play out like a script. Our local medias have already been insinuating Iran into our subconscious for months, if not years, as the "man behind the mask" the "true" threat to the American people, the Puppetmaster pulling the Islamic Radical strings. Now they have begun a blitz campaign laying the attacks against Israel squarely on Iran's doorstep. In three reports, within ten minutes of each other, I heard that Iran had been supplying Lebenon with the missiles that were used against Israel this morning and that there were "reports" of Iranian soldiers leading the Lebonese troops that launched the attack.

Meanwhile two thirds of the American fighting force in the Middle East remains, inexplicably, perched within Afghanistan, ready to smash Iran and roll through into Iraq. All while world attention is focused on the Israelies who continue to wage war in a fashion not seen since World War II.

The one good thing about this situation is that, perhaps, it will show those Iraqi people who believed they were being oppressed by the "Evil Americans" what true war is all about. Perhaps after a few months of indescriminate carpet bombing such as was common practice during the second world war, they will realize what America was trying to accomplish.

The lesson we failed to learn from Vietnam was not that we should not wage war, rather that when one wages war they should do so in a manner that suppresses all opposition immediately. If this were 1948 Bahgdad would not have been invaded, it would have been leveled, a hole dug in which to bury the dead, and the remains of the city bulldozed over them as a memorial. Then we would have built a military base, kept twenty thousand troups there (ten-thousand tanks and ten-thousand engineers) and began building McDonalds and Movie Theaters until enough people moved there to call it a city again.

Had America invaded Iraq on 9-12, as Israel is doing with Lebenon and the suedo-nation dubbed "Palastine", this war would have been over long since. We would have had the - if not support then at least the understanding - of the world, and perhaps a few more allies sticking around to carve their own piece of the pie.

But that is all the looking into the past that I am willing to do.

In my crystal ball I spy a Middle East torn apart by all encompasing war. As soon as our little media machine convinces enough Americans that Iran is responsible for the attacks against Israel and that the poor Israelites who are currently bombing residential neighborhoods, because one Israeli is more valuable than one-hundred thousand non-believers, are the victims in this affair and Asia is all tied up dealing with the North Korean threat, Iran will be squeezed within the Iraq-Afghanistan vise until they come spurting out in all directions.

Maybe we'll get really lucky and Cuba will invade Florida or something.

(By the way . . .

"Maybe we'll get really lucky and Cuba will invade Florida or something."

That was sarcasm . . .)
 
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The targets you've mentioned all have military significance. Israel is trying to cut off and destroy Hizballah. If you think about it, you will see this.

Again, I encourage you to read the Lebanese blogs (including the anti-Syrian/anti-Hizbollah ones). Israel's targets have only the flimsiest of military signifigance, if any at all. It's telling that the vast majority of Lebanese casualties have been civilians.

I don't deny that the goal of Israel is to destroy Hizbollah...the point is, it's also willing to destroy the rest of Lebanon to achive that goal.

With regard to U.S. efforts to solve the current conflict, there is not much we can do as rockets continue to rain into Israel.

This is exactly why we need a ceasfire. Those rockets were fired by Hizbollah in response to Israel's massive bombing of Lebanon, which was in response to the kidnapping of 2 Israelis... The whole point of Seniora's ceasefire proposal was to stop this cycle of violence. So why did the United States reject it out of hand?

In any event, you must have missed our efforts in the G8 summit and the joint statement issued today.

Yes, I read the statement. Because of the lobbying of the Bush Administration, the G8 blamed the crisis on "extremist forces" and refused to condemn Israel's wildly disproportionate response to Hizbollah's kidnappings. It also rejected Siniora's call for a ceasefire. So the G8 statement only proves my point.

Finally, have Iran or Syria "lifted a finger" to solve this crisis? They could stop it with a snap of their fingers. Hell, they started it.

Where did I condone Syria or Iran? For the record, most observers of Hizbollah reject the view that it's a puppet of Iran or Syria, point out that Hizbollah's military operations have the overwhelming support of Lebanon's Shiites, and believe that Hizbollah acted on its own in carrying out the kindapping. But whatever the evils of Hizbollah, Syria, or Iran, they don't give Israel license to terrorize Lebanon.
 
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If you folks don't think that Iran and Syria are pulling Hezbollah's strings, then you are deluding yourselves. Where do you think they got all of those silkworm missles and Katyusha rockets? Let's be serious here.

With regard to the G8 statement, do you disagree that extremist elements are to blame for sparking this crisis?

We've all seen what extremist "cease fires" look like. Israel has to sit on its hands while the extremists get to kidnap troops and fire off rockets into Israel at will.

No, it's time to root out Hezbollah.
 
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I'm glad that Anonymous is no longer challening my assertion that Israel is terrorizing Lebanon.

For those who care about the future of Lebanon, please sign this Save the Lebanese Civilians Petition: http://epetitions.net/julywar/


To The Concerned Citizen of The World:

"Killing innocent civilians is NOT an act of self-defense. Destroying a sovereign nation is NOT a measured response."

Lebanese civilians have been under the constant attack of the state of Israel for several days. The State of Israel, in disregard to international law and the Geneva Convention, is launching a maritime and air siege targeting the entire population of the country. Innocent civilians are being collectively punished in Lebanon by the state of Israel in deliberate acts of terrorism as described in Article 33 of the Geneva Convention.

The Lebanese people feel left out by the world that is turning a blind eye on the savagery of the Israeli state. Israel does not seem to be capable of approaching any problem outside the realm of the military power bestowed on it by the government of the United States of America and other western governments.

We are writing you this letter in the hope that this massacre is immediately stopped. It is the universal duty of each individual to defend the innocents and expose the truth. The numerous civilian victims of the Israeli operations are increasing by the hour. The viciousness of the attacks has attained terrifying levels where a child has been cut in three while another was half burned.

The Israeli war machine, in its blind savagery, is destroying not only our lives but the foundations that could help the civilians survive beyond their massacre. The Israeli Defense Forces are destroying in few hours what Lebanon has spent years and billions of dollars to rebuild.

Up until now more than 100 Lebanese civilians have been killed, hundreds wounded, bridges and infrastructure destroyed, refugees are leaving Beirut in droves and worst of all the enforced siege might lead to a human catastrophe in the next 48 hours. There must be an end to this cycle of violence and continuous violation of international laws and basic ethical behavior.

Between the blindness of the international community and the deafness of the Arab one, the besieged Lebanese population has no way out.
 
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Now you have abandoned argument for hysterics.

Has it occurred to you even for a moment that civilians are at risk in Lebanon because Hezbollah has placed their arms, equipment and headquarters in civilian locations? Why don't they come out, away from civilians and fight in the open? Because they like civilian casualties. It's part of their strategy and you've bought into it.

Has it occurred to you that Israel is doing its best to avoid civilian casualties while Hezbollah is doing its best to inflict them? Does this matter to you? Do you condemn Hezbollah for its attacks on civilians?

Israel pulled out of Gaza and Lebanon in response to international pressure like you are asserting. Now they have been attacked on their own soil, across internationally recognized borders. No country - I repeat - no country would tolerate this, yet you expect Israel to do so.

For what it's worth, I support a the deployment of a peacekeeping force, as long as it doesn't include American troops. We won't set ourselves up as sitting ducks for another Iranian attack like the one that took place in 1983.
 
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Where's Bruno, Circular and Mr. Democracy when I need them? :)

Anonymous,

As I said before, I do not justify or condone Hizbollah. Have you considered that it's possible to criticize both Hizbollah and Israe?. Hizbollah was wrong to kidnap the 2 Israeli soldiers, and to ruthlessly ignore the risks to Lebanon's stability. Hizbollah may very well have been aiming to provoke Israel into attacking Lebanon. That being said, Hizbollah's recklessness in no way absolves Israel from what it is doing in Lebanon.

Has it occurred to you even for a moment that civilians are at risk in Lebanon because Hezbollah has placed their arms, equipment and headquarters in civilian locations? Why don't they come out, away from civilians and fight in the open? Because they like civilian casualties. It's part of their strategy and you've bought into it.

Frankly, I think you're the one who's being naive. As I said above, Israel's targets have only the flimsiest of connections to Hizbollah, if any at all. Just because Hizbollah uses electricity does not mean it's OK to bomb power stations.

Indeed, the explicitly stated of Operation Just Reward is to intimidate the Lebanese government into disarming Hizbollah. Israel's destruction of residential neighborhods, power stations, roads, highways, airport, etc, is not a collateral effect of attacks on military targets. Rather, they are a deliberate strategy to inflict intolerable costs on Lebanon as long as Hizbollah is still armed.
Has it occurred to you that Israel is doing its best to avoid civilian casualties while Hezbollah is doing its best to inflict them? Does this matter to you? Do you condemn Hezbollah for its attacks on civilians?

Like I said, I don't condone Hizbollah, and I certainly don't condone the killing of 12 Israeli civilians, just as I hope you wouldn't condone the killing of over 150+ Lebanese civilians. It should be pointed out that the IDF knew that's exactly how Hizbollah would respond when it bombed civilian areas in Lebanon -- those have always been part of the "rules of the game" between Israel and Hizbollah. Just as Hizbollah bears some responsibility for provoking Israel into pummeling Lebanon, the IDF bears some responsibility for provoking Hezbollah into attacking Israeli civilians.

Israel pulled out of Gaza and Lebanon in response to international pressure like you are asserting. Now they have been attacked on their own soil, across internationally recognized borders. No country - I repeat - no country would tolerate this, yet you expect Israel to do so.

For Israel to retaliate to attacks on its soldiers is one thing. To retaliate to those attacks it by destroying essential civilian infrastructure and committing war crimes is something else. When Iran took 52 American diplomats hostages, we did not "turn the clock back" in Iran back by 20 years, as Israel says it is doing now.
 
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Just so you know the context of my last post, I was quoting Dan Halutz, the IDF chief of staff, who told Israel's Channel 10 last week:

If the soldiers are not returned, we will turn Lebanon's clock back 20 years."
 
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Interesting article in the NY Times which indicates that some Sunnis now want American troops to stay in Iraq. The Times describes this as an "about face."

Here is the article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/17/world/middleeast/17sunnis.html?ex=1153800000&en=6ac75d9b5ebfe0d8&ei=5070&emc=eta1

Anything to this story Abu?
 
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WOW!

That last post blew my mind! When did the NYT become a mouth of the warmonger? That was the most complete load of crap (Please edit this to "bullshith" if that word is allowed) I've heard in a month! Which is saying alot!

Did anyone see "Meet the Press" today? Both Newt Gingritch (whom is not a true representative of the American right wing) and some arbitrary "democrat" claimed that the sunnies are the key to creating an alliance within the Middle East, as we both have a common enemy in the supposed "Hezbala, Gaza, Iranian" alliance. Now this "NYT" article claims that the Sunnies have apparently listened and decided that "Yes, we do have a common enemy in these completely unrelated groups."

MY GOD! What do you have to do to convince people to read between the lines? Does anyone read the posts between what they have to say? Does anyone notice that the strongest voices against our point of view neglect to post?

Where is Abu? He who rules this Blog? What are his opinions upon the events currently defraying the fringes of his society?

Do not let the American Media convince you that Iran is responsible for the recent hostilities! For whatever reason the American government wants a full scale war that will encompass the middle east, even while waging a war in South-East Asia. They attempt to convince the general population of the U.S. that N. Korea has a 1,000,000 man army - a truely frightening proposition! - Yet, I have never once seen an address from the N. Korean government!

I have never seen an address from the President of Iran! I have seen sound bites, yes, but I have never seen a speech!

Then again, I've never seen a speech from the American President. I've never seen Bush step infront of the crowd and tell the world what it is that we, as Americans, are trying to accomplish. I've tried to explain my belief. I've tried to show the people of Iraq that if they are patient, if they display a level of maturity that the world expects, if they try to build, instead of destroy, then they will one day become a nation that the world can, if not respect, reason with, then the war in the Middle-East will be over.

Apparently this message was too much for the warmongers of the world. Does the American government not realize that the American Army is already commited? We have nero more recources to give! You can drop two-hundred thousand National Guard into S. Korea and it will have no more effect than waking the People.

The American People.

Here's your wake up call!

How many Americans have heard of Hezbala before this incident?
 
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Peter says "Where's Bruno, Circular and Mr. Democracy when I need them? :)"

Well Circular is right here, but (a) I don't know enough about Lebanese history to be able to comment, and (b) I'm not sure that Abu would want his blog sidelined anyway. Having said that, a brief contribution:
1) I gather that this whole shindig was started by a military, or paramilitary, incursion by Hizbollah which targetted the Israeli Army, not civilians. The immediate Israeli response of attacking infrastructure and populated areas does seem a bit disproportionate, especially since as far as as I can make out these Hizbollah dudes are not under the control of, or taking orders from, the legitimate Lebanese government.
Colour me stupid, but I can't follow the reasoning: Hizbollah are sponsored by Syria, or Iran, or both, so let's bomb Christian Lebanon, that'll show them. Show who? Show what? Please explain.
2) My impression, for what its worth, is that you can't fight terrorists with more terror. We've seen that in Iraq, for goodness sake - indiscriminate bombing of civilians, detention without trial, home invasions, checkpoint and patrol shootings - all they do is create more insurgents.
I'm not British, but I guess my cultural heritage is, and I empathise with the place. The Brits fought a jolly good little war with the IRA terrorists for thirty years, and seem to have now achieved something suspiciously like peace. I've been reading memoirs by British "squaddies," veterans of that campaign, and what impresses is the restraint, patience, intelligence exercised by their commanders, and on down through the NCOs to the rankers themselves.
3) Now I gather that if the Americans, or the Israelis, had been running that show, their response to an IRA terrorists bombing, say of a London Tube station, would have been to bomb the living bejasus out of the Catholic areas of Belfast.
Again, colour me stupid, but I'm not convinced that that would have worked out too well in the long run.
4) You never get a straightforward answer out of the likes of Patriot, Anon Guy and various other anonymous assholes, but I'll ask anyway: hands up all those who would have just bombed the Taigs to buggery if youl'd been in charge in Northern Ireland.
No takers? Then why is it OK for the Israelis to do it in Lebanon?

Circular
 
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And especially for me old mate Mark, courtesy of ATimes via DailyWarNews:

Consider the possibility that the most fundamental belief, perhaps in all of history, but specifically in these last catastrophic years, seems to be in the efficacy of force - and the more of it the merrier. That deep belief in force above all else is perhaps the monotheism of monotheisms, a faith remarkably accepting of adherents of any other imaginable faith - or of no other faith at all. Like many fundamentalist faiths, it is also resistant to drawing any reasonable lessons from actual experience on this planet.

(...) [The Bush administration] believed themselves uniquely in possession of an ability to project force in ways no other power on the planet or in history ever could. While hardly elevating the actual military leadership of the country (whom they were eager to sideline), they raised the all-volunteer US military itself on to a pedestal and worshipped it as the highest tech, most shock-and-awesome institution around. They were dazzled by the fact that it was armed with the smartest, most planet-spanning, most destructive set of weapons imaginable and backed by an unparalleled military-industrial complex as well as a "defense" budget that would knock anyone's socks off (and their communications systems down). It was enough to dazzle the administration's top officials with dreams of global domination; to fill them with a vision of a planetwide Pax Americana; to send them off to the moon (which, by the way, was certainly militarizable).

Force, then, was their idol and they bowed down before it. When it came to the loosing of that force (and the forces at their command), they were nothing short of fervent utopians and blind believers. They were convinced that with such force (and forces), they could reshape the world in just about any way they wanted to fit their visionary desires. (...)

If Bush and his top officials arrived on the Iraqi scene believing that the force was with them and only them, the past three-plus years have offered (if not taught) a rather different lesson. After all, they now find themselves in a roiling crowd of medium-sized and smaller states, stateless movements, and extremist grouplets, all passionately devoted to the same principle of force as them. The fundamentalist belief in force, once let loose in this fashion - once (you might say) modeled by the globe's reigning hyperpower - turns out to be a distinctly pagan faith. From the streets of Gaza to the slums of Baghdad, from the mountains of Afghanistan to Beirut International Airport and the halls of the Pentagon, this is a religion open to one and all, ready to embrace many contradictory gods into its pantheon.

And here's the irony. The hyperpower that loosed this singular round of force on our world seems strangely sidelined, while others move boldly to apply its most essential principles profligately, every one of them emboldened both by the US example and by its dismal failure. Talk about Pandora's box (without Hope anywhere in sight)!

Circular
 
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An Italian –

Good to see you active again, amico! And your update on the CIA situation in Italy was equally heartening. Time to root those dogs out!


American Patriot –

The core of your argument for the cessation of violence against US troops in Iraq is an appeal to force. In other words, “do as we say or …”. While some Iraqis might be cowed by this, its clear that a large number are not. And even if the majority of Iraqis acquiesced – and this seems hardly likely – the fact remains that a hard-core of opposition will remain for years to come. You would never be safe there, and neither would Iraqis.

As a strategy and an intellectual approach this is deeply flawed.

Secondly, the events on the ground in Iraq are clearly indicating to me that what I had concluded from the evidence is becoming reality. Namely, a shift from opposing the Sunni community to opposing the Shia community is taking place in the US modus operandi. The core of the Shiite opposition is the Sadrists – with the Badr / SCIRI types firmly in the US pocket since the start of the invasion – and the Sadrists are now up for elimination. The reasons for this are clear. The US is prepping Iraqi sentiment for a strike on Iran.


War on Iran:

In the event of a wider war with Iran, the US cannot be left facing a united Sunni-Shia backlash in Iraq. It will need to use the Sunnis as a buffer to soak up the internal pressure as opposed to using US blood to accomplish that. Unfortunately it seems as if the sectarian fever has really taken hold and that this move is possible.

Logically speaking, from a cold analytical point of view, Iran HAS to be taken down by the US. Toppling Hussein has left Iran as the major regional player, and it disposes of considerable assets with which to pursue its goals, not least the large ME Shiite populace. These goals would in the long run be directly opposed to US plans for the region. In the long run, simply due to physical proximity, Iran would beat the US in the influence stakes.

Personally I believe that hitting Iran will be the death knell for the US as a serious superpower for at least a few decades. Unlike Hussein, Iran has friends, Iran has unity, and Iran has a considerable conventional and unconventional military ability with which to hit back with. That will be a bloody and messy fight. A long fight. An expensive fight. But the US under Bush has done its best to paint itself into a corner, so it seems like the only option.


Israeli Incursion:

Personally I believe that this incursion is just the Israelis throwing their weight around again. Possibly it could be the start of a territorial grab on the part of Israel, in order to secure a river that they have long coveted. Certainly they will be unable to destroy Hezbollah, which is an organisation perfectly capable of fighting an asymmetric war. Since Israel is clearly targeting the Lebanese people as a whole, it will be interesting to see how this will affect overall Lebanese unity. Juan Cole, BTW, has an excellent analysis as to why the Lebanese are screwed in their fight with Israel, especially since the Syrians left. The US isn’t going to leash its little pet anytime soon.

On the other hand, if there is more to this than just the usual Israeli warmongering (since a full scale invasion in order to recover a couple of soldiers is ludicrous) that could only mean that the US is involved to some extent. The shift in blame onto Syria and Iran could be a prepping of the public psyche for the long awaited strikes against those two countries as well. Let’s hope not.
 
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That is exactly what is happening Bruno, as I said in my post from several days ago. The United States media machine has begun its campaign to make Americans sympathetic to a war with Iran. Perhaps even demand one, for those radical rights who proscribe to such nonsense.

However, I think you underestimate the power of the American Military. While it is not designed for occupation, and does a rather poor job of it, it is quite capable of rolling over Iran in a matter of days. Bush and the current administration fail to call for an Israeli cease-fire because this is exactly what they want. A conventional war, against conventional forces, with clearly defined targets that they can blow to itty bitty bits. None of this anonymous roadside bombing, or people that look just like your neighbor suddenly exploding in crowded areas.

You cannot fight that with an army.

The disproportionate attack of the Israelis is exactly what the U.S. government has been waiting for. As I said, it is as if it were scripted. Act III, allied fringe nation invades neighboring country, attacking civilian installations diverting attention from the increasingly out of control occupation and making us look like the good-guys again.

Our media is also attempting to garner sympathy for the Israeli government by claiming that they are the victims in this conflict. Indeed, they were. I had much sympathy for the three Israeli troops who were kidnapped by the Palestinians and Lebanese. (I refuse to call them Hizballa because the Lebanese government allowed them to gain power and did nothing and is doing nothing to put a stop to these criminals.)

However, I personally find it difficult to shed a tear when they respond by bombing a civilian airport and the sole power station supplying the Gaza strip. Then they cry about someone shooting a rocket and killing 8 of their civilians. Meanwhile the U.S. politicians liken this to Cuba firing rockets into miami beach. Those 8 Israeli citizens are proportional to 500 U.S. citizens, and they ask whether we as Americans would not expect, even demand, that our government invade Cuba.

Apparently we are meant to disregard the fact that those rockets were fired into Israel only after they began their air and artillary strikes against civilian installations within Lebenon.

Using the Miami Beach example, this would be as if Cubans dug a tunnel under the ocean, dragged a beach goer back with them, and in response we began firebombing their cigar factories. The Cubans then launch some missiles back at miami beach in response actually killing some sunbathers. Somehow this does not outrage me as much as it is meant to.

Circular,

"I'm not sure that Abu would want his blog sidelined anyway."

This is not a sideline at all. This conflict is going to affect the Iraqi people just as much as it is the rest of the world.

"You never get a straightforward answer out of the likes of Patriot, Anon Guy and various other anonymous assholes . . ."

Is "circular" your given name, or your Christian name?

Give me a break. Someone who calls themselves circular wants a straightforward answer. Well, here you go. No, I would not bomb my own cities, or my own people. I would have done what we should be doing in Iraq, set up a police force, investigated, and sent SWAT in surgical strikes against the opposition whenever and wherever they were found.

Here is another straitforward answer for you. Israel is in the wrong. They certainly had a right to protect the lives of their soldiers and they could have done so by sending troops in to arrest and detain. If the kidnappers wanted an exchange of hostages, let them negotiate for an all new set. Israel should have taken ten for every one of their soldiers that was taken, then happily given them back while making a public statement saying, "We are happy to give ten hostages for every one of our citizenst that is returned to us. One Israelite is worth ten terrorists any day of the week."

Instead they acted with instant, unhesitating force becoming terrorists themselves and lowering themselves to the level of their enemy. I believe that Israel was less interested in retrieving their soldiers than they are in expanding their borders, and spreading the war to every country in the Middle East.

Straight enough for you, circular?
 
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Circ:

It is simply ahistorical to blame the U.S. for every current act of violence by other states, statelets, or political movements. After all, violence and war have been part of the human condition throughout the thousands of years of recorded history. What then was the cause of all that bloodshed prior to the founding of the U.S., a mere two hundred years ago?

Also, the article you quote is logically inconsistent as it states "every one of them [small states, statelets, etc] emboldened both by the US example and by its dismal failure." If the U.S. failed because of its decision to rely solely on the use of force, shouldn't the others have take that lesson to heart and avoid reliance on force as they have lesser military resources? How can they logically be emboldened by a failed example of the use of force by a much more powerful nation, which still retains the ability to handily defeat any such small player? It all seems to be quite logically inconsistent.

On the other hand, if you posit that the smaller players, rather than being inspired or emboldened by the U.S. example, are instead attempting to capitalize on percieved U.S. weakness or war fatigue, the argument makes sense. However, it then loses its political appeal, for some, as the U.S. can no longer be blamed for the smaller parties' oppurtunistic choice to rely on force of arms.

Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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Patriot: the "assholes" refers to people who post anonymously, so that you can't tell whether there's one or several, not to yourself. Still, if the shoe fits:
Guy goes into a saloon, says to the barkeep, "Y'know, all Americans are assholes."
Another guy at the bar says, "Hey buddy, I heard that. I resent that remark."
"Why, are you an American?"
"Nah, I'm an asshole."

Mark: I think the point of the ATimes article was, as Bruno puts it, the "do as I say, not as I do" message that the US administration put out with its Iraq adventure. "Its OK for us to use force, but not for you little guys we're using it on." Message didn't get through to the Iraqis. And seems to have set a very bad example for your little buddy Israel, which is now "defending" itself, following the Bush doctrine, by attacking civilian targets with overwhelming force.
One key image of terrorism today is the AK47. Another, I would suggest, is now the F16.

Circ
 
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[American Patriot] “However, I think you underestimate the power of the American Military. While it is not designed for occupation, and does a rather poor job of it, it is quite capable of rolling over Iran in a matter of days.”

Oh, look, I’ve no doubt of the power of the US military.

Don’t get me wrong.

Although I’d dispute a “few days” … maybe a month or two. But the question is: THEN WHAT?

If Iraqis, which are divided and relatively poorly armed, can still take the fight to you after three years, what will Iran not be able to do? Considering that it IS four times larger and far more united than Iraq? Clearly a conventional occupation would be long-term suicide, yet what other way is there to ensure a compliant government is set up? The long fight will be the guerrilla war in a mountainous foreign country with a hostile populace. (Now, where have I heard that script before?)

As it stands, the Iranian government has much to lose in a major confrontation with the US. But knock the country to pieces … and I guarantee that the long-dreaded chemical weapons WILL be unleashed in some form or other on you, because they will have nothing to lose by using them.

Add to the equation of fighting simultaneous insurgencies in three countries the risk of Iranian-inspired Shiite unrest in the small Gulf states, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. That means sky-high oil prices and long term global instability.

The bloodshed will be enormous, on both sides.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I dislike – nay – detest US foreign policy.

But to rejoice seeing America go down at such a price is just wrong.

Let’s just hope that the whole Iran - invasion thing does not come to pass, although right now I’m not too hopeful.



Mark –

Circular’s writing was clear enough. The example was of using military force in order to pursue its foreign policy, and its failure was to deal with asymmetric threats.

Certainly the US HAS set a bad example on its decision to rush into an ill-conceived “pre-emptive” war … but I do agree that the current wave of small actors trying to get their two cents of violence in owes more to local factors than the overall example set by America. Although, hey, I’m hardly an expert in the thinking of Hezbollah, Israel and other terrorists. I imagine the chickens would REALLY come home to roost in the event of a major power such as India or Pakistan justifying a pre-emptive strike on the other on the basis of the American case against Iraq.
 
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There is a pretty interesting debate going on between various breeds of "conservatives." Pat Buchanan and Lou Dobbs came out today slamming Israel's attacks on Lebanon. Buchanan's article is here: http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51116

George Will recently slapped the taste out of the mouths of the neo-cons over at the Weekly Standard here:

As for the "healthy" repercussions that the Weekly Standard is so eager to experience from yet another war: One envies that publication's powers of prophecy but wishes it had exercised them on the nation's behalf before all of the surprises — all of them unpleasant — that Iraq has inflicted. And regarding the "appeasement" that the Weekly Standard decries: Does the magazine really wish the administration had heeded its earlier (Dec. 20, 2004) editorial advocating war with yet another nation — the bombing of Syria?

http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/will1.asp
 
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Six weeks since Abu last posted here, I was starting to worry again about his safety, but I see he's just posted again at Glimpse of Iraq.
Not very cheerfully, however.
I hope your wife hasn't made good on her threat to come back and join you, Abu. It sounds like Mogadishu on the Euphrates there. I can't see any reason for any hope.
And I don't think Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld will ever aquire anything recognisable as a conscience.
Macnamara did, about Vietnam. But these swine are made of much coarser cloth.
They're not even worth your anger.

Circular
 
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Jonathan –

The “war with Iran and Syria” idea is really misguided. That would be the expansion of war to a THIRD and a FOURTH country while leaving two conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan unresolved. It reminds me of Hitler in the Second World War, picking on new, stronger enemies before securing his rear. We all know how that turned out.

It is VERY unlikely that the UN / EU / NATO will come to aid the US in a wider expansion of the war in the Middle East. The US Army is overstretched as it is. What this strategy is, is a strategy for getting mired in a region-wide conflict which will be fought largely asymmetrically. It will involve tripling or quadrupling the current casualty rate of the US military, which is already hurting.

And think of the long – term. Countries like Russia and China might well be tempted to “accidentally” slip supplies and weapons to anti US forces if the Iraqi experience is magnified five-fold. The conventional US military will be too overstretched to react. Tell me that Russia will pass the opportunity to “Vietnam” the US again?

In my opinion, de-escalation is the answer.

In Iraq, the US must stop playing puppet-master and endorse the original 28 point Maliki plan. It must get the UN involved and it must stop all the “El Salvador Option” tricks. It must come to a multilateral agreement for the disbanding of the various militias and douse the flames of sectarian war. The neocons must face up to reality and realise that it’s a lot greyer than their chessboard perception of it.

Otherwise we are headed for The Big One take Three, with Bush starring as Hitler.
 
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Bruno,

The neo-cons are unbelievable. They have zero credibility, but now advocate attacking Iran (after previously advocating an attack on Syria and, of course, the war in Iraq).

The good news is that conservatives in general are onto these guys. When you have people like George Will, William Buckley and Pat Buchanan lining up against your "conservative" point of view, you've got a problem.
 
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That last comment was me.
 
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Patriot said: "Instead they [Israel] acted with instant, unhesitating force becoming terrorists themselves and lowering themselves to the level of their enemy."

Yes. Israel is currently engaged in one giant monstrous war crime against the people of Lebanon.

But I disagree with you slightly: namely in that I do not consider this Israeli action as some NEW lowering to the level of blatant terrorism. On the contrary, Israel has operated on the level of terrorism for a long time.

Here, I am defining "terrorism" as: inflicting terror on a civilian population in order to achieve a political end.
 
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Jonathan said: "The neo-cons are unbelievable. They have zero credibility, but now advocate attacking Iran (after previously advocating an attack on Syria and, of course, the war in Iraq)."


Yes, these people are simply INSANE. Watching them give their excited pronouncements about World War III, one can sense how EAGER they are about the prospects, how much they WANT WWIII so badly, how they are practically peeing all over themselves in gleeful anticipation.

These disgusting immoral lunatics make me sick.
 
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Pumpkintown,

You say, "I do not consider this Israeli action as some NEW lowering to the level of blatant terrorism. On the contrary, Israel has operated on the level of terrorism for a long time.

Here, I am defining "terrorism" as: inflicting terror on a civilian population in order to achieve a political end. "

Under that reasoning there is not a single nation in the world that is not terrorist in some form. Even the common laws which keep people in fear of going to prison or being fined would be a form of terrorism. Perhaps you should ammend your definition to, "An act of violence against a civilian population with no other purpose than to cause terror in order to achieve a political end."

I, however, agree with you that many of the American politista seem almost eager for World War III and seem to do nothing in order to prevent it coming to pass, even seem to actively advocate a broadening of the conflict to a world scale.

Please, Mr. Bush, do not make me a Nazi!
 
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This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
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American Patriot wrote:

"Under that reasoning there is not a single nation in the world that is not terrorist in some form. Even the common laws which keep people in fear of going to prison or being fined would be a form of terrorism. Perhaps you should ammend your definition to, "An act of violence against a civilian population with no other purpose than to cause terror in order to achieve a political end."


Rather than quibble with you over definitions of "terrorism", I will simply point out that my comment about Israel still stands, even under your suggested revised definition.
 
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Regardless of our views on the war, let's remember to support and write letters to our troops.

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If that's what you think. America has no rights..
 
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It's not bad at all.
 
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Well, I guess so!
 
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تويتر شعر
انستقرام ضحك
انستقرام شيلات
 
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