One Year After Saddam
April 11, 2004 5:47 PM   Subscribe

 
Topics would be, in order, a well, duh judgement call; an on the scene report from a Guardian correspondent; a Guardian commentary about a myth of rebellion delivered giftwrapped to the Iraqis by the Americans; a thoughtful piece on Iraq's new nationalism, which is just what it says--hey, he really is a uniter and not a divider!--the rules of engagement and a most disquieting post by a pro-coalition Iraqi blogger.

Also, Iraqi Battalion Refuses to 'Fight Iraqis'
posted by y2karl at 5:48 PM on April 11, 2004


The American and European news stations don't show the dying Iraqis… they don't show the women and children bandaged and bleeding- the mother looking for some sign of her son in the middle of a puddle of blood and dismembered arms and legs… they don't show you the hospitals overflowing with the dead and dying because they don't want to hurt American feelings… but people *should* see it. You should see the price of your war and occupation- it's unfair that the Americans are fighting a war thousands of kilometers from home. They get their dead in neat, tidy caskets draped with a flag and we have to gather and scrape our dead off of the floors and hope the American shrapnel and bullets left enough to make a definite identification…

Baghdad Burning
posted by y2karl at 5:56 PM on April 11, 2004


U.S. drive to deal with insurgents, Shiite uprising taking political toll on U.S. Iraq policies

The U.S. campaign to uproot Sunni insurgents in Fallujah and Shiite militiamen in southern Iraq is carrying a heavy political cost, with some of Washington's closest Iraqi allies angry at the bloodshed and surprised at what they see as U.S. mistakes.

The Fallujah offensive has become an anti-American rallying cry across Iraq, with mosques on Sunday urging the faithful in Baghdad to donate food, blood, medicine and white coffin shrouds for the turbulent city.

Some members of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council blame a series of bad calls by American officials in Iraq for the situation, by far the lowest point of the 1-year-old occupation of Iraq.

Critics say the military has used excessive force in moving to put down this past week's Shiite and Sunni uprisings and U.S. administrators have underestimated the depth of Iraqis' suspicion of American intentions.

U.S. handling, they say, has played into the hands of U.S. opponents in Iraq, raising the profile of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as well as the insurgents at a time when the focus should have been on the scheduled June 30 transfer of power to Iraqis.

posted by y2karl at 6:15 PM on April 11, 2004


So I just wasted 20 minutes reading these articles and found absolutley nothing of value in them. Is metafilter just a blue interface to googleNews? Karl, do you even bother to read the IRAQ WAR DISCLAIMER on the posting page? Or does that not apply to you?

I dont make the rules here, and I understand that Iraq is a big deal and our foreign policy is totally hosed up and that it is both insightful and fun to read others opinions. But you know what? My thoughts on this stuff has not changed in the 20 minutes since the last Iraq post.
posted by H. Roark at 6:19 PM on April 11, 2004


AgendaFilter, Part Deux.

Jebus, Drew, Where Are You?
posted by darren at 6:33 PM on April 11, 2004


Is there any way to make y2karl's posts not show up on the front page?
posted by jon_kill at 6:50 PM on April 11, 2004


The politicals have reached a point where they are just doing drive by screamings at other people. They have nothing really new or creative. The only use they have for the Internet is politics, either affirming their own beliefs or getting in the face of those who want to discuss *anything* else. They are as annoying as streetcorner evangelists. True believers in "the cause."

It's like knowing an environmentalist who keeps throwing motor oil over your fence into your pool to show you how bad the Exxon Valdeez spill was. And he feels that he must do it over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again, at least until he can make the pain in his head stop.

They know neither moderation or reason. But unless their threads and posts are eventually banned, they themselves will have to be. And then the mod will have to stand getting emailbombed, threatened, and DOS'ed by them for a week or two before they go away to annoy someone else.

I know at least three news sites that have been hit by loonies like this. All have eventually had to tighten up their rules and registrations.
posted by kablam at 6:57 PM on April 11, 2004


This isn't even newsfilter, really. It's just news.
posted by reklaw at 6:59 PM on April 11, 2004




Thanks for the posts, y2karl. Things have gone south in a big way that--despite my politiccs--I would never wish for. I appreciate the valuable links.
posted by donovan at 7:23 PM on April 11, 2004


My view in general: you don't like a post, don't bother with it...and don't make snippy comments either.
posted by Postroad at 7:31 PM on April 11, 2004


If you're going to make a post related to Iraq, please reconsider, as the topic has been discussed previously many times.

Was there something you wanted to discuss, y2karl?
posted by jessamyn at 7:35 PM on April 11, 2004


Thanks Karl.
posted by LouReedsSon at 7:38 PM on April 11, 2004


karl - Not the most artful post, but I can't critique it because the stakes in this current Iraqi insurrection are pretty fucking high.

If things in Iraq contiue to deteriorate, 1) large numbers of American soldiers and Iraqi insurgents - as well as Iraq civilians - will lose their lives, and Islamic terrorism will reap a staggeringly valuable PR coup against the US.

Osama Bin Laden, if alive, is no doubt laughing at how eagerly the US fell into the trap he set.

Maybe critics are IraqFilter posts could dilute the Metafilter political post quotient by posting some links of their own?

Something light hearted and quirky, perhaps, such as advice on how to outwit squirrels.

meanwhile - Karl, you missed a good one. Here it is :

Americans become the Redcoats (my title) :

"April 11, 2004

Anti-U.S. Outrage Unites a Growing Iraqi Resistance
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN [ NYT, April 11, 2001 ]

BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 10 — Moneer Munthir is ready to kill Americans.

For months, he has been struggling to control an explosion of miserable feelings: humiliation, fear, anger, depression.

"But in the last two weeks, these feelings blow up inside me," said Mr. Munthir, a 35-year-old laborer. "The Americans are attacking Shiite and Sunni at the same time. They have crossed a line. I had to get a gun."

Ahmed, a 29-year-old man with elegant fingers and honey-colored eyes, has been planting bombs inside dead dogs and leaving them on the highway. He and a team of helpers have been especially busy recently.

"We start work after 11 p.m.," Ahmed said. "Our group is small, just friends, and we don't even have a name."

Khalif Juma, a 26-year-old vegetable seller, said he and his cousins bought a crate of Kalashnikov rifles last week.

"To be honest, we weren't like this before," he said. "But we're religious people, and our leader has been threatened. We would be ashamed to stay in our houses with our wives at a time like this."

A new surge of Iraqi resistance is sweeping up thousands of people, Shiite and Sunni, in a loose coalition united by overwhelming anti-Americanism. On March 31, insurgents in Falluja ambushed four civilian contractors and mutilated their bodies, and the fiery words of Moktada al-Sadr, the young radical Shiite cleric, a few days later prompted violent uprisings in four cities.

In Baghdad, Kufa, Najaf, Baquba and Falluja, interviews with Sunnis and Shiites alike show a new corps of men, and a few women, who have resolved to join the resistance. They also reveal a generation of young people inured to violence and hankering to join in the fighting.

There is no way to estimate the size of the mushrooming insurgent force, but demonstrations in several cities by armed and angry people indicate that it probably runs in the tens of thousands. Many people said they did not consider themselves full-time freedom fighters or mujahedeen; they have jobs in vegetable shops, offices, garages and schools.

But when the time comes, they say, they line up behind their leaders — with guns.

"I'm in my shop right now but if anything happens, I'll close up and take my weapon and join them," Mr. Juma said. "I'm ready."

Several people described a loose command structure. Mr. Juma said he supported Mr. Sadr but is not part of his militia, the Mahdi Army. He said he received instructions from an imam at a mosque near Kufa.

American officials have announced an arrest warrant for Mr. Sadr, who had entrenched himself in his hometown, Kufa, in southern Iraq, last weekend, then disappeared.

Many Iraqis have weapons, in part because the American-led occupiers have often failed to protect them from looters and other criminals. Now, people are taking their guns into the streets.

Ala Muhammad is a 24-year-old mechanic in Baghdad. He likes to work on trucks.

The other day, when trouble broke out in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Khadamiya, he dashed home from work, grabbed a clip for his Kalashnikov and took it out front.

"If the Americans come this way, we will fight them," Mr. Muhammad said. "I'm going to defend my house, my street, my land, my religion."

He stood on the sidewalk in sweat pants, without shoes.

"I like to fight barefoot," he said."


This is bad - very, very bad.
posted by troutfishing at 7:47 PM on April 11, 2004


While the post may have been ill put forth I for one would like to see more information that shows differing points of view. So thanks.

It makes me nervous to think of the consequences if the Bush administration has totally blown it. This isn't Vietnam -- it's far worse.
posted by cmacleod at 8:00 PM on April 11, 2004


Y'know troutfishing (and y2karl, to a lesser extent), it's kind of the entire point of hyperlinks that you don't have to cut and paste the entirety of the text you're linking to into a document (or in y2karl's case, a "title" attribute). Just a thought.
posted by Zonker at 8:06 PM on April 11, 2004


I will excuse this post only if y2karl can document that he experienced a significent drop in blood pressure in the process of releasing his anger.
posted by wendell at 8:19 PM on April 11, 2004


just wait till the Iraqis have to run their own country. karl will be very busy indeed.

This isn't Vietnam -- it's far worse.

how so?
posted by clavdivs at 8:20 PM on April 11, 2004


Zonker - It's actually only about 1/2 of the article (as if that's an excuse? well...) and some people can't aren't logged into the NYT and WaPo systems - I felt this one was too important to miss.

But : Point taken. I was carried away by that article because the ramifications seemed so huge. The Americans, to the Iraqis, are fast becoming a hated occupation force....or so it seems.

This is big. Big and bad - and I wish I knew how the whole downhill slide could be halted.

Problem is - none of my "reasonable" solutions (i.e. US eats it's pride and asks the UN for help, renounces control of Iraq, and enlists Muslim nations to provide troops as the US pulls out in a phased, orderly withdrawal) would work especially well in an Iraq consumed by full scale combat.

So things are - right as we speak - on the edge of devolving into a full scale disaster for the US (and even, maybe, for the wider world political order). I find this very disturbing.
posted by troutfishing at 8:21 PM on April 11, 2004


clavdivs - a good hardheaded question. OK, I'll bite :

1) loss of control of oil reserves - to Islamic fundamentalists
2) a boon for international terrorism
3) a potential destabilization of the Mideast
4) a demonstration - in the eyes of those Muslims not inclined towards supporting terrorism - that the US and it's allies are still fundamentally malevolent (or colonial) powers.
5) the potential evolution of a radicalized, theocratic islamic bloc with access to nuclear weapons - Iran/Iraq/Afghanistan.
6) the accelerated economic decline of the US - which would herald a decline, also, in the positive and stabilizing aspects of US world military predominance. Vietnam was a mere foreshadowing of this - it was during that conflict that the US first began to run a balance of trade deficit (this was an unintentional, bipartisan outgrowth, on the part of LBJ and RMN, of their shared "guns AND butter" deficit driven war policies.) How long will the US - with it's growing economic indebtedness to the rest of the world - be able to maintain it's huge military-industrial complex and it's role as gobal cop/gendarme?
7) A crucial loss of face : two strikes for the US - the mightiest military power in, perhaps, known human history, within 3 decades - beaten by 3rd rate military powers.
8) A (possibly undeserved) black eye for the ideology of Liberal Democracy which could serve to promote authoritarian tendencies around the globe.
posted by troutfishing at 8:42 PM on April 11, 2004


I will excuse this post only if y2karl can document that he experienced a significent drop in blood pressure in the process of releasing his anger.

Human beings, in my experience, are complex and self-contradictory. Everyone experiences this in his or her self but few can grant the same to others with any regularity. So, we stereotype and reduce other people into things, patterns, habits. Someone with a grudge says something about someone and it becomes gospel for everyone, true or not.

For instance, clavdivs and I go at it from time to time and take pokes at each other but I don't mistake my pokes for the mystery man on the other keyboard. Oh, he's doing that again comes to mind for me with him, but then again, so does Well, that's a switch !  He's not cut out of cardboard for me, not do I get that I am for him.

I am just not that angry. Passionately interested and living in interesting, eventful times, I am--I followed Tet and Watergate as compulsively when they were in progress and these times are as interesting, important and rapidly changing as those.

As for the links, well, for one, it's always improv night with this crew. Be Unprepared is the leitmotif of this soap opera--that people in the administration are doing finger pointing and post mortems on Bremer so soon into this al-Sadr fiasco is fascinating but very scary in implication.

Eyewitness accounts, especially about ongoing battles, are of interest to me. Well, Donald Rumsfeld golly gee.

What the rules of engagement for Marines in Falluja are seems something worth study. These people are putting themselves in harm's way in our service, whether one thinks it right or wrong in the long term, and it seems worthwhile knowing, albeit secondhand, their perspective. Wouldn't you agree ?

Willaim Pfaff relayed some wise words and a way out--

William R Polk, a former US government official and the founder of the University of Chicago's Middle Eastern Studies Centre, has recently emphasised the importance of the US making clear not only that it will leave Iraq, but that during the period that it remains 'it will not ... build its companies into the Iraqi economy [or] seize or denationalise Iraqi oil; [and that] it will immediately move to dilute its unilateral power by allowing serious political and commercial activities by other powers, and political and security activities under UN auspices'.

There are two grave objections. The first is whether it may not be too late to halt the tragic drift towards enlarged conflict between occupation forces and the Iraqi population. The other is whether the US is capable of such a policy change. This administration is not. A new administration might be able to redirect policy, although that remains unsure.

The most useful thing that could be done now would be for America's allies - Tony Blair the most important among them - to stop telling Washington that the Iraq occupation 'must not fail' and instead tell it that the occupation has already failed; that only policy reversal can save the US, its allies, Iraq and the region from generalised conflict.


For the moment, I do not disagree with this very much at all, I must admit.

That Zeyad of Healing Iraq had become so despondent troubled me. His angle on who is behind the fighting is very interesting to read, too. But his tone is very affecting--and he was one of the most positive and pro-American of the Iraqi bloggers. And I can certainly feel his fears--

It is the most foolish and selfish thing to say "pull the troops out", or "replace them with the UN or NATO". Someone has to see us through this mess to the end. Only a deluded utopian (or an idiot peace activist) would believe that Iraqis would all cosily sit down and settle down their endless disputes without AK-47's, RPG's, or mortars in the event of coalition troops abandoning Iraq. Please please don't get me wrong, I am not in the least saying that I enjoy being occupied by a foreign force, I am not a dreamer who believes that the USA is here for altruistic reasons, I am not saying that I am happy with what my bleeding country is going through, believe me when I say it tears my heart every day to witness all the bloodshed, it pains me immensely to see that we have no leaders whomsoever with the interest and well-being of Iraq as their primary goal, it kills me to see how blind and ignorant we have all become. Iraqis are dying inside every day, and we are committing suicide over and over and over. Some people call me a traitor or a collaborator for all the above and for speaking the truth as opposed to rhetorical, fiery speeches which have been our downfall.

For the moment, I do not disagree with this very much at all, either.

This matters to me. And it should to those who are interested. If I have an agenda, that is my agenda. Some agenda.

Or all you all still mad about my agenda item besmirching Bob Dylan and Victoria's Secret? Wow, what an ax was being ground there. You could cut a bra strap on it.
posted by y2karl at 9:09 PM on April 11, 2004


Nationalism is the key, as the Pfaff essay reminds us. If the history of the 20th century can be said to have taught us anything it is that thanks to our mediated world filled with incredibly lethal and mass-distributed weaponry and organizational tactics, there is no force now in the world that can long resist the expression of the nationalist impulse.

Make a list of the Empires in the 20th century that have failed to resist nationalism successfully:

Spanish
Belgian
Ottoman
Russian
Austrian
Yugoslavian
British
Nazi
Italian
First American Empire
Japanese
Soviet
French
*

To expect that the current project to create a Second American Empire will succeed where all its predecessors have failed is to fly in the face of the historical imperative.

* I define an Empire within these terms as an economic hegemony carefully structured to primarily benefit a distinct cultural/ethnic minority. This involves the regulation and organization of its other constituent cultural or ethnic minorities within a centralizing economic apparatus that is sustained through the exercise of military and capital strategies.

Today's last remaining extant Empire of note is the Chinese Empire. This currently faces a sustained, low-level insurgency among its Western, non-Han territories, coupled with significant centripetal social forces along its Eastern, prosperous Han coastline. The new Russia as the successor state to the USSR has been similarly seeking to stabilize its colonial territories while maintaining hegemony over its vassal states. Today's struggle between the declining Russian and resurgent Chinese Empires within central Asia relies on the US's imperial ambitions there as its wild card. All three Empires, however, face significant resistance from central Asian tribal nationalism, which seems to be regaining its traditional strength of resistance to vassalage.
posted by meehawl at 9:16 PM on April 11, 2004


"Baghdad is calm and relatively quiet if you don't count the frequent explosions. Actually, when we don't hear explosions, it gets a bit worrying."
posted by specialk420 at 9:19 PM on April 11, 2004


GET A FUCKING BLOG, DUMBASS.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:20 PM on April 11, 2004


Funny how the resident Bushies have such issues with proper mefi etiquette recently. Touched a nerve perhaps? Cognitive dissonance got you guys down?
posted by skallas at 9:27 PM on April 11, 2004


GET A FUCKING BLOG, DUMBASS.

That would look nice in Ruritania.
posted by y2karl at 9:35 PM on April 11, 2004


You keep fucking pushing it, and you're going to have a ninja squad of highly-motivated Bushista commandos posting wave upon wave of their own flavor of retarded, partisan wankery you've been foisting upon us every goddamn day. See how totally useless this site becomes when a few more arrogant pricks see fit to flood the community with tiny, spammy garbage.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:37 PM on April 11, 2004


Funny how the resident Bushies have such issues with proper mefi etiquette recently. Touched a nerve perhaps? Cognitive dissonance got you guys down?

Today's tip: don't forget to take study breaks from Psych 101 to take a nip at the bad Bushies. Though I wouldn't consider myself a Bushie, I do wonder if they would prefer to be known as "Anybody But Kerry"-ans (ABK)?

As for etiquette, do you object? I thought y'all were all about keeping MeFi civil and law-abiding, with only the occasional raving lunatic Shrub-monger disturbing the peace.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:47 PM on April 11, 2004




Some in Military Fear a Return to Iraqi Battles Already Fought

Some Pentagon policy makers and military officers here and in Iraq are worried that without a successful political process leading to a new government with popular support, the current military operations to restore order throughout restive Sunni and Shiite cities may have to be repeated in months to come.

They worry that the political transformation in the country is not keeping pace with the fight to restore security in areas that American troops first captured in the invasion a year ago.

With less than three months before the American-led occupation force hands sovereignty to an Iraqi civilian government, the process for a political transition remains unclear. There are no firm plans yet for who the leaders will be on the transfer date of June 30.

..."We are still unable to explain to ourselves and even to the Iraqis who is going to be in the government on the first of July, and the political dimension is as critical as the military," said Mr. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"Never, from the day we began the planning for this operation to today, have we been able to develop an effective method of communicating with the Iraqi people to explain to them how they could benefit or what we were trying to achieve," he said.

posted by y2karl at 10:03 PM on April 11, 2004


The politicals have reached a point where they are just doing drive by screamings at other people. They have nothing really new or creative. The only use they have for the Internet is politics, either affirming their own beliefs or getting in the face of those who want to discuss *anything* else. They are as annoying as streetcorner evangelists. True believers in "the cause."

It's like knowing an environmentalist who keeps throwing motor oil over your fence into your pool to show you how bad the Exxon Valdeez spill was. And he feels that he must do it over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again, at least until he can make the pain in his head stop.

They know neither moderation or reason. But unless their threads and posts are eventually banned, they themselves will have to be. And then the mod will have to stand getting emailbombed, threatened, and DOS'ed by them for a week or two before they go away to annoy someone else.

I know at least three news sites that have been hit by loonies like this. All have eventually had to tighten up their rules and registrations.


Is there a reason you are talking about yourself in the 3rd person kablam? And why have you not followed your own advice kablam?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:06 PM on April 11, 2004


I wish I knew how the whole downhill slide could be halted.

Oh, oh! How about handing over a bunch of Americans as international war criminals.....for waging an aggressive war?

With a note that says: "Sorry"
posted by rough ashlar at 10:09 PM on April 11, 2004


MetaTalk.
posted by trharlan at 10:44 PM on April 11, 2004


This isn't Vietnam -- it's far worse.

how so?


I don't know if I think it is, but the most glaring possibility therein--for my money--is the fact that the "domino theory" WRT Vietnam was a lie, but WRT Iraq it it the fucking elephant in the living room. Everyone from Dick Perle to Jeffrey Sachs knows that Iran could throw their hat in the ring, and it just goes on and on from there.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:50 PM on April 11, 2004


Everyone from Dick Perle to Jeffrey Sachs knows that Iran could throw their hat in the ring, and it just goes on and on from there.

Well, these two paragraphs from Healing Iraq precede the one quoted above:

As to Al-Sadr's relation with Iran, I would think it highly improbable that he is an Iranian puppet, although his ties to the Grand Ayatollah Kadhum Al-Ha'eri (Iraqi exiled cleric in Iran) are well known (Muqtada himself confessed once some time ago that he was Al-Ha'eri's agent in Iraq which was the main reason he gathered such a following as well as his father's reverence by Iraqi Shia). I admit that is highly possible that he has recieved financial support from Iran but not to the extent as to work in behalf of them in Iraq. There are rumours of existing training camps for Al-Mahdi volunteers in Iran along the Iraqi border, but I think it is very improbable that the Iranian regime would be so open in their support for the dissenting cleric. However, it is also hard to believe that a young and inexperienced cleric with no real popular support from the Hawza would succeed in recruiting, financing, and training an army of 10,000 Shi'ites, as well as setting up offices, newspapers, and a huge propaganda machine all by himself. All of his aides and supporters are young and impoverished, a large number of them are known to people as criminals, thieves, looters, and unemployed illiterate slum dwellers. They would never show such dedication to their cause unless they were being rewarded. And any one who suggests that they rebelled for nationalist reasons can never be more far from reality. This is NOT a Shia rebellion or Intifada. The only case where a Shia uprising would take place is if the Grand Ayatollah Ali Taqi Al-Sistani issues a fatwah to that effect, along with the support of the other three leading Shi'ite clerics (Ayatollah Mohammed Sa'eed Al-Hakim, Ayatollah Bashir Al-Najafi, and Ayatollah Mohammed Ishaq Al-Fayyadh) who constitute the Hawza alilmiyyah of Najaf. And Sistani might lose patience any moment and do so considering the deteriorating situation. An agent of Sistani was quoted once saying "We receive so many requests each day from Iraqis asking us to issue a fatwa for Jihad against the Americans. We say no, but this No will not be forever".

It is becoming increasingly evident from all the violence we have witnessed over the last year, that a proxy war is being waged against the US on Iraqi soil by several countries and powers with Iraqis as the fuel and the fire, just like Lebanon was during the late seventies and eighties. The majority of Arab regimes have a huge interest in this situation continuing, not to mention Iran, and Al-Qaeda. I am not trying, of course, to lift the blame from Iraqis, because if Iraqis were not so divided the way they are, these powers would have never succeeded. I never thought that Iraqis would be so self-destructive, I thought that they had enough of that. But with each new day I am more and more convinced that we need our own civil war to sort it all out. It might take another 5, 10, or even 20 years, and hundreds of thousands more dead Iraqis but I believe it would be inevitable. Yugoslavia, South Africa, Lebanon, Algiers, and Sudan did not achieve the relative peace and stability they now enjoy if it weren't for their long years of civil war. If the 'resistance' succeeded and 'liberated' Iraq, the country would immediately be torn into 3, 4, 5 or more parts with each faction, militia, or army struggling to control Baghdad, Kirkuk, Najaf, Karbala, and the oil fields. It will not be a sectarian war as many would imagine, it would be a war between militias. We already have up to 5 official militias, not to mention the various religious groups and armies.


I found this to be of little comfort: An agent of Sistani was quoted once saying "We receive so many requests each day from Iraqis asking us to issue a fatwa for Jihad against the Americans. We say no, but this No will not be forever".
posted by y2karl at 11:30 PM on April 11, 2004


Well, while lots of quotes are being posted, I came across this small but alarming article while reading this morning's newspaper: British commanders condemn US military tactics. Scary, if the unnamed sources are genuine (and are not just some rabid anti-american's delusions):

Senior British commanders have condemned American military tactics in Iraq as heavy-handed and disproportionate. One senior officer said that America's aggressive methods were causing friction among allied commanders and that there was a growing sense of "unease and frustration" among the British high command. The officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said part of the problem was that American troops viewed Iraqis as untermenschen - the Nazi expression for "sub-humans". Speaking from his base in southern Iraq, the officer said: "My view and the view of the British chain of command is that the Americans' use of violence is not proportionate and is over-responsive to the threat they are facing. They don't see the Iraqi people the way we see them. They view them as untermenschen. They are not concerned about the Iraqi loss of life in the way the British are.
posted by Onanist at 1:02 AM on April 12, 2004


yeah, fuck karl, fuck him for having dragged the US (hard to say whether or not the Coalition will really survive the next round of European Parliament elections -- Zapatero Effect, anybody?) into this mess

I also enjoy the way some of our most caustic members instantly become MetaNannies when Iraq (and y2karl-bashing) is involved.

enjoy the nice occupation your President gave your country.
and pray that nothing really bad happens in the near future -- it'd be nice to see the draft reinstated in the US just to see some of our keyboard warriors actually having to leave their chair, and go to Iraq -- put their Bush-loving asses on the line to make Mesopotamia safe for Bechtel.

too easy taking the high road when you have volunteers (and non-citizen immigrants) doing the dying for you. way too easy.

but yeah, fuck y2karl.
Iraq is going OK.
now go back to sleep, and happy Easter everybody
posted by matteo at 1:45 AM on April 12, 2004


Onanist, what you say about the difference in approach between the Americans and British is not news to us in Britain. I don't think the article you quoted is pushing an anti-American agenda, because I've read far too many articles like this, over the course of the last year.

I wonder whether British experience in Northern Ireland is playing a part here? The British know that you can't subdue a native population with aggression; you have to get them on your side as well. The insurgents will always oppose you. The trick is to not allow the average civillian to drift towards offering support to the insugents. I think the Americans have long forgotten the lessons of Vietnam.
posted by salmacis at 2:00 AM on April 12, 2004


Hey, fuck you too, matteo, for your annoying overuse of parentheses, dash marks, and sentence fragments. Now I see that you're at least admitting the truth to yourself and everyone else, hoping that things get really really bloody, because "it'd be nice to see the draft reinstated in the US." Progress. Disturbing, but progress, nonetheless. Alas, as long as our troops keep doing a bang up job, your fears won't come true. I'm not sure if that's good news or bad news to your ears, but to each his own, I always say.

Here's some good or bad news, depending on your stance:
Marines uncover bomb factory
(From correspondents in Fallujah)

Let's hope that the talks with the mediators go well this morning. Unless you're matteo, then go ahead and hope they go badly, I guess.
posted by David Dark at 2:46 AM on April 12, 2004


...that Iran could throw their hat in the ring, and it just goes on and on from there.

What you seem to forget is that the Iraqis, and even the Iranians if they got involved, would be throwing everything they have into the fight. The Western nations, however, are holding back in a big way.
posted by Meridian at 3:00 AM on April 12, 2004


Didn't someone set up a news/iraq/war-filter or something?

Calm down everyone, it's a public holiday ^_^
posted by Mossy at 3:47 AM on April 12, 2004


Hmmm. Who was it that advised Johnson "Declare your victory and get out" of Vietnam?
posted by alumshubby at 5:04 AM on April 12, 2004


Ala Muhammad is a 24-year-old mechanic in Baghdad. He likes to work on trucks.

The other day, when trouble broke out in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Khadamiya, he dashed home from work, grabbed a clip for his Kalashnikov and took it out front.


something doesn't ring true. i mean, guys up the street here at the dodge dealer keep their SAWS with them right there on the shop floor. then again, they *do* work on HEMI's.
posted by quonsar at 6:13 AM on April 12, 2004


quonsar - yeah, maybe you're right : do NYT reporters actually even leave their well guarded Baghdad hotels anymore?

Anyhoo... I don't really understand what all the bickering is about on this post - the only people who generally participate in these IraqFilter posts are those who are themselves politicized : those who are very troubled by the current Iraq situation (not merely those on the left, by the way, and who are making intelligent arguments here which are NOT uniform at all* .) and those who assert that discussion of the growing debacle is somehow impolite or inappropriate.

Those who have been attacking this post have made little to no argument whatsoever, and have merely made comments which have ranged from the few polite but annoyed ones to vulgar frothings and ad-hominem attacks - which I see as a form of pollution that far outdoes any sins of "IraqFilter". [ David Dark - matteo did not make any direct, personal ad-hominem attacks. His comment worked very indirectly, through sarcasm - and it did not address any one person in particular (except karl, who served as a stylistic foil in matteo's comment). ]

_____________________________________________

Meridian - Yes, of course. By the same token, the US has the military might, probably, to lay waste to the entire globe. But what of it ? Are you saying that the US and it's allies should exert their full destructive powers and reduce all of Iraq to a shattered, smoking rubble such as the Russians did in Grozhny (twice) ? There are still an awful lot of dead civilians in Fallujah ; and even though I'm sure that the existence of foreign Islamic extremist fighters in Iraq is quite real, I very much doubt they constitute a majority of the fighters in Iraq. What, exactly, is the significance of making such a note of these foreign elements ? The real problem in Iraq is the rising resolve - among significant parts of the Iraqi population now - to take up arms and drive out the Americans. Of course, there is the argument that - while Iraq may have had little to no connection to international terrorist grounds prior to the US invasion and occupation - Iraq is now turning into an effective training camp for international terrorism, a sort of "real world" Al Qaeda practice territory where terrorists can go to hone their skills.

Jessica Stern, one of the US' top experts on terrorism, has argued just this : How America Created a Terorist Haven NYT op-ed, August 20, 2003. She asserted in this editorial - which now looks like a dead-on accurate analysis - that U.S. negligence has allowed Iraq to metastasize into a terrorist training camp to which Islamic militants from all over the Middle East are now flocking for a chance to attack American troops, and in which the Iraq/Al-Qaeda links alleged by the Bush Administration are becoming a reality.


I find it disquieting how dead on right I seemed to have been, as well, in my March 31 post of over, now, a year ago (metafilter #24740) :

"A Pyrrhic victory in a catastrophic "March of Folly"? - historian Barbara Tuchman asked: why do leaders persist in pursuing catastrophic policies? Regardless of Baath regime executions of Iraqis, the Islamic world will witness mainly "American Atrocities" - and be outraged by gruesome images, on Al Jazeera and elsewhere, of every single child killed by American bombs. Iraqi tactics - of suicide bombing, ambushes, and faked surrenders - will erase the civilian/combatant distinction, leading to more and more incidents like this (to be televised to an appalled Islamic world): and all this merely a
foreshadow of what may be urban
warfare on a scale seldom seen
in the 20th century. Grozny comes to mind. Mainstream US media asserts that the solution for the whole "miscalculation" is just more US troops



But the war is tailor made to provoke tribalistic, Pan-Islamic fury (and corresponding, furiously tribalistic US patriotic support for war). Escalation is in the air: statements by
Rumsfeld, Powell, and the US State Dept. indicate an awareness that the current war could spread, drawing
in Syria and Iran
. Consequences also could include the destabilization or the
takeover,
of nuclear armed Pakistan,
by Islamic militants, and a Nuclear
miltarization
across a wide region, from Iraq to Japan.



If only this were "South Park: The Movie", where the onset of Armaggeddon can be stopped by an heroic act of sacrifice by Kenny."

[ *For example, I've been advancing a certain line about Iraq for a while - that the solution is for the US to eat it's pride and appeal to the UN for help, and to renounce unilateral control over the rebuilding Iraq while also bringing in troops from Islamic nations. So I had to read y2karl's quotation of Zeyad, from "Healing Iraq", and consider my position : "....It is the most foolish and selfish thing to say "pull the troops out", ormilitarizatione them with the UN or NATO". Someone has to see us through this mess to the end.&quArmageddon respect karl's thought, so I'll have to think about this. ]
posted by troutfishing at 6:28 AM on April 12, 2004


U.S. Looks for New Solution in Cease-Fire

The move to stress negotiations over military action marked a significant tactical shift for American officials here, who until the weekend had been vowing to crush the two insurgencies threatening Iraq's stability. The change came as guerrillas appeared to extend their influence closer to the capital Sunday, shooting down an Apache helicopter about 3 miles from Baghdad's airport and cutting off communications between military posts on a key road leading west from the city.

Billmon interpets this turn of events bleakly: Changing the Tone

Combine that with the cease fire in Fallujah, and it's clear... that the Coalition actually does negotiate with "terrorists," "thugs," "criminal bands," etc. -- or at least, is willing to send its Iraqi hirelings to negotiate on its behalf.

In other words, to borrow the old Cold War lingo, the Coalition and the Intifada just went eyeball-to-eyeball, and somebody blinked. And it wasn't an Iraqi.

Which means we're now going to get a real-world test of the other half of the rather bleak hypothesis put forward by John Mearsheimer, co-director of the program on international security policy at the University of Chicago:
It's very hard to see how getting tough with the Iraqis is going to solve the problem. On the other hand, it doesn't seem to me that it is going to work if we back off either because then we'll show weakness and the Iraqi people will tend to bandwagon with the insurgents. The insurgents will grow stronger. So we're in a hopeless situation. Either way we turn we lose.
It's hard to see how the various forces opposed to the Coalition in Iraq can be anything but encouraged by this abrupt shift to a soft (or at least, softer) line. You can't spend days vowing to crush all resistance, then suddenly start talking like Mr. Rodgers -- not without suffering a major loss of credibility.

Not that I oppose the switch: If it means a few less people have to die before the this insane adventure is finally liquidated, so much the better. But the Middle East is still the Middle East, and Mearsheimer is probably right: If the Coalition really has blinked, then a whole lot of people (including its "allies" on the Governing Council) are going to conclude that the Coalition can be rolled. Which means there really is no way to restore the status quo ante -- i.e. continuing the countdown to a staged transfer of a purely symbolic sovereignty to a hand-picked puppet regime.


What you seem to forget is that the Iraqis, and even the Iranians if they got involved, would be throwing everything they have into the fight. The Western nations, however, are holding back in a big way.

We do not have any more troops. There is no way to reinforce our troops that will not have serious repercussions for this adminstration in an election year.

Read the interviews with Morton Abramowitz, Richard Lugar and General Barry McCaffrey in Time's What Should Bush Do?

Here's McCaffrey:

There are no more U.S. troops to send to Iraq. That's why we need 80,000 or more troops added to the U.S. Army. Congress is allowing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to dig in his heels and try to maintain a foreign policy based on a grossly undermanned U.S. military. The key question isn't whether the 1st Cavalry Division is going to get run out of Baghdad—it's not. The key question is, if you've got 70% of your combat battalions in the U.S. Army deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, South Korea and elsewhere, can you maintain this kind of muscular presence in that many places? The answer is no. But if we take action now to increase the size of the Army by 80,000 soldiers, we'll be able to handle this global reach. The key would be to activate nine National Guard brigades in the next 18 months and convert them into active-duty soldiers, allowing the reservists to go back to their communities.

The transfer of political authority on June 30 is extremely premature. By that date, there will not be a sovereign government with any political legitimacy. And here's another challenge we face: we need to put the training of Iraqi security services—the police, army, border patrol and others—solely under the control of the U.S. military instead of the Coalition Provisional Authority and give these Iraqi recruits more money. Iraq is costing us $4 billion a month, and only a tiny percent of that has gone directly to support the creation of Iraqi security forces. We should also transfer authority for security policy in Iraq from Rumsfeld to Secretary of State Colin Powell because the most important tasks are now diplomatic.

We need to invest two to 10 years in Iraq, and we'll have a good outcome. But if we think we're dumping this responsibility in the coming year, we're going to end up with a mess on our hands that will severely impair our international role for the coming 20 years.


So, the question is Yeah, us and whose army?

From above: Some in Military Fear a Return to Iraqi Battles Already Fought

With less than three months before the American-led occupation force hands sovereignty to an Iraqi civilian government, the process for a political transition remains unclear. There are no firm plans yet for who the leaders will be on the transfer date of June 30.

In interviews and e-mail exchanges, a number of high-ranking Pentagon officials and military officers in Baghdad described what they see as an increasing mismatch between what American troops are being asked to do in Iraq and what is being accomplished in the political field there.

"We can beat these guys, and we're proving our resolve," said one military officer. "But unless the political side keeps up, we'll have to do it again after July 1 and maybe in September and again next year and again and again."


Billmon: In any case, now that the Bushies have taken the first tentative steps towards de-escalation, I think they're going to find the process very hard to reverse, but even harder to manage. Which means the liquidation of the occupation has probably begun. That leaves Bush with the task of "declaring victory" -- and trying to make the voters believe it.

By his lights, the tide turned this weekend. Against us. It's over.

Look at the first link of the post--Paul Bremer is already the fall guy. They've pulled the knives out within one week and after 70 US and 700 Iraqi dead. Winning militarily and losing politically--Give Me a T. Give me an E. Give Me a T. What's that spell? Tet!

There was no, apparently once again, no plan, contingency or otherwise, going in. As to coming out--we'll see if anyone comes up with one. It's Improv Night at the Tragedy Club.

We have less than 80 days until the turnover on June 30th. Who are we turning the country over to? How are the elections going to be managed? Who will win? Will the regime which is elected throw us out? What will we do then? So many questions, so little time...
posted by y2karl at 6:55 AM on April 12, 2004


Now I see that you're at least admitting the truth to yourself and everyone else, hoping that things get really really bloody, because "it'd be nice to see the draft reinstated in the US." Progress. Disturbing, but progress, nonetheless

slander.
you guys can't really do nothing better than slander now huh?
it's gotten so bad, your war, so many unnecessary deaths, so much blood, so much more hate for America in the Muslim world because of Iraq Attaq, so many destroyed lives for your adventure in Mesopotamia...
so your only weapon is slander. so sad.
how many times did you beat your wife today, David Dark?

let's re-read that part my comment:

enjoy the nice occupation your President gave your country.
and pray that nothing really bad happens in the near future -- it'd be nice to see the draft reinstated in the US just to see some of our keyboard warriors actually having to leave their chair, and go to Iraq -- put their Bush-loving asses on the line to make Mesopotamia safe for Bechtel.


heh. those of us with a working knowledge of the English language (it's not even my mother tongue, is it yours? worry, then) understand that "it'd be nice" to see you Internet Warriors go fight yourselves, not that it'd be nice to see things get worse. no matter how hard you twist the sentence, it's not a pretzel. the meaning you imply, the spin, simply isn't there.
just like those pesky wmd's, probably.

not to mention, things already are really really bloody, in the real world's Iraq (ie outside of FoxNews broadcasts on the glorious Liberation) and nobody hopes it gets worse -- it's just that it'll get worse, thanks to the strategy you endorse so mindlessly.
Pandora's box's open now. don't blame those of us who warned you.

I just like to point out, every once in a while, that if the draft comes back, at least you keyboard warriors will have to fight this war yourself. too easy to subcontract it to the less lucky, and watch the carnage from home.
if you like it so much, go fight it.
simple as that. don't blame me if the truth hurts.

oh, and trout's Jessica Stern link is really good, by the way
posted by matteo at 6:55 AM on April 12, 2004


those of us with a working knowledge of the English language

Slander is uttered, libel is written. Being a smartass is risky, but we all make mistakes.

it's gotten so bad, your war

No, it really hasn't. Your perspective is skewed.
posted by techgnollogic at 7:39 AM on April 12, 2004


"It's very hard to see how getting tough with the Iraqis is going to solve the problem. On the other hand, it doesn't seem to me that it is going to work if we back off either because then we'll show weakness and the Iraqi people will tend to bandwagon with the insurgents. The insurgents will grow stronger. So we're in a hopeless situation. Either way we turn we lose." - The big problem here lies in all the lip service the Bush Admistration has paid to the project of building an Iraqi democracy. This compells the US to act - despite it's overwhelming military might - with a modicum of reserve. The problem is that the insurgents can ignore international conventions while the US forces must work to keep up appearances of doing so. That's one hell of a crippling handicap.

And I'm not advocating brutality - which, in any case, hasn't worked especially well for the Russians in Chechnya.

But the Romans probably would have just crucified every last man, woman, and child in Fallujah, as an example. In contrast, the US has lurched from punitive measures and threats, to halfhearted humanitarian gestures, and then towards negotiation But the hundreds of dead and wounded in Fallujah have nonetheless served to inflame and turn the passions of Iraqis - against the US.

So, the US position has been hot, cold, and lukewarm : to quote the Book of Jonah (loosely) "Thee are neither hot norcold. And because thee are neitherhot nor cold, but lukewarm, I will spew thee out of my mouth!" (I'm not really sure if that's the whale or Jehovah talking there).

Oh, but I forgot - we're not really an imperial power, right? Well, go tell that to the Iraqis. They'll laugh their asses clear off.

______________________________________________

Somebody needs to inform GW Bush and his compadres that Teddy Roosevelt's Big Stick no longer functions adequately without the Viagra of international sanction.

And even then, it's only at half mast.
posted by troutfishing at 8:07 AM on April 12, 2004


"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling that thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
-- John Stuart Mill.
posted by darren at 8:09 AM on April 12, 2004


Yeah, darren. I think we're all glad Ayn Rand and her cult are dead. But what does that have to do with anything?
posted by Ptrin at 9:03 AM on April 12, 2004


Thanks for the post Y2karl.

I'll admit they lack the panache of Miguel's posts (to name one serial poster), but these Iraq threads are always a wealth of interesting links to even more information about the situation, which I happen to care about. And, yes, it is true, if the Bush adminstration would have read some of the Mefi Iraq threads posted here over a year ago, they would have had accurate descriptions of what is unfolding there today. At least it would be better intel than what they're getting from the CIA and British intel.

I'm just saying.

Unfortunately, for reasons unfathomable, these posts also draw like moths to a flame people who absolutely cannot bring themselves to hear another word about Iraq (at least on Metafilter). One wonders why they can't bring themselves to skip to the next post....

Ah well, if they think it's a waste of time to post it, I guess it's even more of a waste of time to read it just to complain about having to read it.

saludos.
posted by sic at 9:09 AM on April 12, 2004


War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling that thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
-- John Stuart Mill.



I for one am willing to die and kill to ensure Halliburton's bottom line.
posted by sic at 9:11 AM on April 12, 2004


...At least it would be better intel than what they're getting from the CIA and British intel.

sic, that would be funny if this whole thing wasn't so sad. Couldn't agree with you more on all points.
posted by dabitch at 10:03 AM on April 12, 2004


Yes, it would be tragic if concerned internet surfers were really able to gather better insight on foreign affairs than the experts, but I think that we all know that faulty intelligence was not to blame here.

The real blame lies with the greedy policy makers who molded their own intelligence (or created it out of thin air) to have an excuse to steal the natural resources of a hostile but largely defenseless nation. Of course the experts in the intelligence fields are rebelling against being continually used as the goat for the Bush adminstration's shocking mishandling of affairs from A to Z. The inevitablity of this intelligence community rebellion was also spoken about many times here on Metafilter. Maybe we should just nominate Y2Karl as Secretary of Defense or Head of the CIA or something. He does a good enough job.

Or maybe I should nominate myself: I have any number of friends who could testify that I said back in 1999 that if the George Bush was elected to the white house, there would be a war against Iraq.

So I'm a freaking genius, I guess.
posted by sic at 10:16 AM on April 12, 2004


The real blame lies with the greedy policy makers who molded their own intelligence (or created it out of thin air) to have an excuse to steal the natural resources of a hostile but largely defenseless nation.

I basically agree, but I see it more as a willing swindle. The CIA, State and the DIA said time and time again that the home-run WMD info. was not there or was not valid, so the OSP basically asked Chalabi to fool them. A wink-wink consumation of a deal between eager but secretive brokers, a silent but knowing embrace, twin seductions of convenience, absolute nonetheless... call it Ba'athhouse Foreign Policy.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:27 AM on April 12, 2004


[This is shit]

This is an utterly horrible FPP, and written in such a way to circumvent the rules regarding 1 FPP a day.

So it wasn't enough ignoring the plea on the posting page to not post this. And it isn't enough for Matt to mention numerous times that he doesn't want to see it. And now it seems the rules regarding one post per day are not worth following. After all, you have deemed yourselves that this is something that you feel must be talked about on this website.

So let me ask you a direct question and see if you can give an answer other than your own tautological assessment of importance: why do you feel that you have the right to ignore all the posting guidelines?
posted by Seth at 10:28 AM on April 12, 2004


Yes, by policy makers I mean the Bush adminstration. Specifically Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz, Rice, Blair, Powell and Bush.

More or less in that order.


What does OSP stand for?


and on Preview: More moths to the flame
posted by sic at 10:34 AM on April 12, 2004




What does OSP stand for?

Office for Special Planning
, and ad-hoc intelligence shop set up by Cheney and friends after they got frustrated by the mainstream intelligence community's desire to lie for them.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:15 AM on April 12, 2004


Mr. Dark, do not let Matteo (karls foil eh? hmmm, Karl is his own man IMO) try and bog you down. His ability to criticize only the United States in this situation is the only way he can vent. He will not criticize his own country. Me, I love his country and dare not degrade her to some stupid empire out out control as he posits mine has. I love his country because part of the family spent many years there and her friends refer her as family that considers (and hey, they were of let-us-just-say left spectrum remember the brilliance of Gramsci) I thank his countries P.M. for his stand and honor Italy's brave solders though I have been very mouthy and insulting to them in replies to his insults, but this is anger, as alot of this post is. His tricks are multi layed but none the less sloppy (i just know). From a tactical viewpoint, he does not respect his lack of american culture as we perhaps respect our lack of His.
Thats.....Okay. I could understand his not wanting to criticize his own country After all, this is a coalition.

Out of respect I have put my old persona BIG SAM away. He is mean and is unrelenting and rarely speaks twice.

but her is some cla-ermeyesque.

BIG SAM: WTF ARE YOU PEOPLE DOING TO MY BELOVED FILTER. WHO IN THE HELL SAID YOU COULD CRITICIZE PEOPLE WHO HAVE OPINIONS AND ARE JOHNNY FREAKIN CIVIALIAN. HELL CUPCAKE ,IT WOULD BE JUST FINE AND PEACHES FOR ME IF THE CIVILIANS GAVE ME ALL THE GROCERY STORES AND TRAFFIC LIGHTS BUT A LITTLE READING MY SHOW WHAT AMERICAN TROOPS IN AMERICAN CITIES SMELL LIKE.
COMPASSION, COMPASSION IS MARINES GOING AGAIST REAL SOLDERS. COMPASSION IS TRYING TO EVACUTE CIVILIANS THEN FINDING BULLETS IN AMBULANCES AND NOT JUST OVERRUNNING THE PLACE WITH SOME SKY SPOOKY FOR ABOUT 12 HOURS. ROLLING 50 TANKS AND ARTILALRY AND JUST MOW THE PLACE OVER. COMPASSION IS WARNING.
IF COMPASSION SOUNDS LIKE MICKY MOUSE IN HUE THEN REPLACE WITH RESPECT.

THAT IS ALL.
he goesback into his tank now

simple, not effective but it may get result. but the beauty is when it is met with silence and one can walk along and pray not to use him again.

posted by clavdivs at 11:34 AM on April 12, 2004


and i must say, i have insulted italy. but i cease this
now.
It takes to much time to refute the shadows of thier opinions and they always slip in the "i do not understand", like some fowl protection clause in some bill the majority of congress do not want to sign in the first place. It is time consuming and Dhartung ain't around to much for me to agree with.
posted by clavdivs at 11:42 AM on April 12, 2004


Thanks Ignatius,

this FPP was worth it just for that link.
posted by sic at 2:32 PM on April 12, 2004


Thank you, clavs. And tell Big Sam thanks, too. He's right.
posted by David Dark at 2:37 PM on April 12, 2004


U.S. to Reach Out to Former Iraq Military

U.S. commanders in Baghdad said Monday they will reach out to former senior members of Saddam Hussein's disbanded army to try to stiffen Iraqi security forces who have proved disappointing against a growing insurgency.

The commanders acknowledged failures in American attempts to train and mentor Iraqi police and soldiers.

Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, said a number of Iraqi police and civil defense corps members "did not stand up to the intimidators" during battles last week in restive Sunni and Shiite cities.

The cornerstone of the U.S. military's strategy for completing its mission in Iraq is Abizaid's plan to put newly trained Iraqi forces in charge of the country's security. At least 200,000 police, border guards and other forces have been trained. [y2k: No, they have not! 8,000 maybe but not 200,000...]

But the intensified insurgency has exposed worrisome lapses, including defections, desertions and incompetence.

"It's also very clear that we've got to get more senior Iraqis involved - former military types involved in the security forces," he said. "In the next couple of days you'll see a large number of senior officers being appointed to key positions in the ministry of defense and the Iraqi joint staff and in Iraqi field commands." Abizaid said he and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. commander based in Baghdad, "are very much involved in the vetting and placing of these officers." At another point, Abizaid said that inadequate checking of earlier Iraqi security force recruits was one of the key failures in U.S. training efforts.

posted by y2karl at 2:54 PM on April 12, 2004


heh. two of a kind.

actually Big Sam is the (marginally) more coherent one.


He will not criticize his own country.

when I mention (happens quite often) the Coalition of the Bribed and Bullied that doesn't tell you anything about my opinion on Italy's (and Spain's, and Poland's, etc) role, huh?
but if you want to pretend that Italy's commitment is key to the glorious war effort and we need to analyze it daily on MeFi, go ahead. you'd kind of piss away the remains of your credibility in military/strategic issues, though.
(also, I can't really link most of the primary Italian-language sources re that subject because this is an English language site, what's your point then?)
but if you want to discuss Italy's involvement, there's plenty of Italian blogs dealing with that. just join the discussion there if you're itching to discuss at lenght the Italian role in the war effort. of course you'll have to learn the language first (I made the effort to teach myself yours, after all. at a C plus level, but at least I tried).

and dare not degrade her to some stupid empire out out control as he posits mine has


"stupid empire out of control"? your words, not mine, not at all. I don't think that, and you'll never find that quote in all my comments here. I'm OK with your constant attacks on subtlety, but this is too much, really.
anyway for the record:
"stupid"? of course not. maybe just the opposite: too smart for its own (and the world's) good.
"empire"? not really. I like and read Niall Ferguson, but the empire thing has been blown out of proportion. makes for good pop-history reading though.
"out of control"? no again, not really. it's just a country run by an over-confident, unelected team of politicians who about a year ago made a terrible foreign policy mistake, based on lame evidence and without the all-important postwar plan (Jay Garner, Barbara Bodine?).

happy now? are we clear?

and anyway you made more sense back when you simply called me a "wop", clavdivs.
posted by matteo at 3:25 PM on April 12, 2004


Hey, you know how the Italian Army con2quered Poland?

They marched in walking backwards, looking over their shoulders, waving and saying stuff like Bye now! Had a wonderful time! Thanks for the hospitality! See ya next year! Don't forget to write!
posted by y2karl at 3:37 PM on April 12, 2004


Hundreds of Iraqi Insurgents Killed

"There are elements of these militia groups that are forming everywhere and attempting to take advantage of the situation. We are not going to let them do that,'' Hertling told The Associated Press.

"Full security has not been established yet in Baghdad, but it will be. It's stable now,'' he said.

A glimpse at the mindset of the Fallujah resistance

"All of them are Jews, spies and traitors," he rails. When asked which is which on the screen, he replies he was only talking about the leaders of the Arab countries, not Bush and Sharon. He's angry that the other Arab countries have not come to the support of the insurgents. But there are foreign fighters in Fallujah from around the Muslim world, and Ahmed won't talk about them.

Seven Halliburton employees missing in Iraq

"We ... have seven KBR employees ... unaccounted for," said U.S. Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez. Sanchez also said two U.S. troops were unaccounted for and he had no further details about the troops or the missing employees.

Kellogg, Brown & Root -- a division of Halliburton -- is the same firm that employs kidnapped truck driver Thomas Hamill of Mississippi, who was taken hostage Friday by gunmen in Iraq. His abductors demanded that U.S. forces withdraw from the Iraqi city of Fallujah by 10 p.m. Saturday ET, but since then there has been no word on his fate.

Kidnappers warned that Hamill would "be treated worse than the four Americans that were killed in Fallujah" -- a reference to the four civilians whose mutilated bodies were dragged through the city's streets -- if their demand was not met.
posted by David Dark at 3:48 PM on April 12, 2004


Then, there's the little issue of civilian casualties in Fallujah - apparently, these are the collateral damage resulting from the need to punish several dozen in that town who would desecrate American corpses.

: abuse the bodies of dead American pseudo-soldiers, and - in the tit for tat response - the US kills live people, including women and children ?

This seems inappropriate to me.

But - by the same token - it seems wildly unjust to me that US troops are forced to fight this increasingly ugly war.

Those in the trenches are pawns. I blame the politicians.

* descends from soap-box *
posted by troutfishing at 4:49 PM on April 12, 2004


Oh - an addendum :

The "Clash of Cultures" theme is BS. All human beings, pretty much everywhere, want the same things.

Hence the question : why are Iraqis now blaming the US for standing as a roadblock in the way of those things which they, the Iraqis (and indeed all humans), want ?

Could it be for the near 100 year history of the US (and Britain before the US) messing with Iraq's political process ?

Muslims drink far less alcohol than their Christian counterparts. Hence, their historical memory is sharper : they well remember that Saddam Hussein was the US' darling 20 year ago but then was, suddenly, an out-of-favor demon.

Curious, and notable for those who pay attention to such things.
posted by troutfishing at 5:00 PM on April 12, 2004


'Corpses lying in streets of Fallujah'

Shells slamming into houses. Bodies buried in gardens and a football field. Snipers in mosque minarets.

Iraqis who have fled the rebel bastion of Fallujah say they are haunted by the bloodshed in the city last week.

'I could see many bodies in the streets. Hundreds were lying in the street. Relatives were too scared to get them,' said Samir Rabee, who escaped with relatives and eight other families in the back of a refrigeration truck during a lull in the fighting.


Governing Council calls for Iraq-wide cease-fire

Iraq's interim Governing Council is calling for a nationwide cease-fire, including in Fallujah, hours before a temporary truce between US troops and insurgents is due to expire in the restive city.

In a statement after a session on the deteriorating security situation, the council calls for a "global cease-fire by all concerned parties to restore the calm, protect the lives of all citizens and not impose collective punishment on them".

The US-installed council is calling for meetings with all political, tribal, religious leaders in Fallujah and Najaf, "to examine measures in order to guarantee the respect of the law and the security of citizens".


U.S. Looks for New Solution in Cease-Fire

A patchy cease-fire took hold in this battle-torn city Sunday as U.S. officials said they were seeking "political" solutions to pacify the area and, elsewhere in the country, disband a militia loyal to a virulently anti-American cleric.

The move to stress negotiations over military action marked a significant tactical shift for American officials here, who until the weekend had been vowing to crush the two insurgencies threatening Iraq's stability. The change came as guerrillas appeared to extend their influence closer to the capital Sunday, shooting down an Apache helicopter about 3 miles from Baghdad's airport and cutting off communications between military posts on a key road leading west from the city....

President Bush, visiting soldiers wounded in Iraq at a hospital at Ft. Hood, Texas, appeared somber and said that it had been "a tough week." L. Paul Bremer III, the top U.S. representative in Iraq, called the situation an "ongoing crisis." Asked on a Sunday morning interview show what kind of Iraqi government would take over in July, Bremer said: "That's a good question."

In Baghdad, military officials indicated that concern about public anger over their offensive operations — and fear that further backlash could worsen the situation — had prompted them to reconsider their tactics.

posted by y2karl at 5:03 PM on April 12, 2004


Zeyad posted again today.
Arab satellite channels reported today that Al-Mustansiriyah university was under siege by US troops. We have a neighbour who is a professor there, so as expected we raced to his house when we had heard about it. We congratulated him for his safety, but he looked significantly surprised and asked us what was up? We told him about the siege. He chuckled at us and said "Oh, you mean that". It turned out there was no siege at all, there was an American patrol in the vicinity of the university, and they had witnessed someone climbing on the clock tower trying to paste a large poster of Muqtada Al-Sadr. The patrol called for backup, entered the campus and hollered for the fellow to come down. They teared the poster and removed a few others close to the university's main entry gates. According to our friend, the whole process didn't take any more than 20 minutes. Just to show how the Arab media conveniently distort events.
He also said this:
The body count in Fallujah till now is 518 Iraqis dead (160 of them women, and about 50 children) and 1250 badly injured. Doctors from Fallujah mentioned that a large number of the dead women and children were shot in the head and that they were saving the extracted bullets to prove that they were being targetted by Marines snipers in the city.
Much lower numbers than I've seen being tossed around here by the war on the war crowd.
posted by David Dark at 5:13 PM on April 12, 2004


From the same post:

Clashes have ceased in Sadr city and Adhamiya for the time being but that is chiefly due to the absence of any American forces there. My neighbourhood has also been quiet since I last posted, which is a bit relieving...

There is talk of negotiations between the Hawza and Muqtada Al-Sadr, with Mohammed Ridha Al-Sistani (the Grand Ayatollah's eldest son) and a son of Ayatollah Mohammed Ishaq Al-Fayadh together with other representatives of Shi'ite clerics as intermediaries. A spokesman for the delegation said that they would later name a renowned Iraqi figure (from outside the GC) to act as an intermediary between them and the CPA. He also announced that an important statement is to be issued tomorrow by Sistani on behalf of the Hawza alilmiyyah that would be to the effect of a warning to coalition forces if they ever tried to attack Najaf or arrest Al-Sadr. This in response to Gen. Sanchez' remarks that Al-Sadr would be arrested or killed and that American troops are moving to Najaf. If that is true, it would mean a full scale Jihad against Americans by Shia followers of Sistani in the event of any movement against Sadr. A telling sign that Sistani and his colleagues are losing patience.


Much lower numbers than I've seen being tossed around here by the war on the war crowd.

Bullshit. 600 is the number I've seen quoted. Who has posted differently? Don't put words in people's mouths.

And, Jesus,

Doctors from Fallujah mentioned that a large number of the dead women and children were shot in the head and that they were saving the extracted bullets to prove that they were being targetted by Marines snipers in the city.

Looking good, USA! Winning the hearts and minds! Are you even reading what you post?
posted by y2karl at 6:12 PM on April 12, 2004


Nuts. Wait, were they pregnant women and the hump might have been a bomb that the snipers had to "disarm"? Sorta like them ambulances..? What about the kids? Just getting in the soldiers way perhaps? Better take 'em out with a headshot. Sheesh.
posted by dabitch at 6:19 PM on April 12, 2004


David Remnick suffering buyer's remorse in the new New Yorker:

The dynamic of liberation is rarely one of prolonged gratitude. In Iraq, the reasons for resentment are more varied and more profound. A tyrant is gone, but much of Iraqi society has been reduced, at least sporadically, to a Hobbesian state of chaos and insecurity, subject to kidnappings, car-jackings, revenge killings, suicide bombings, armed militias controlling various urban neighborhoods, the pop-pop of gunfire in the distance, and a retreating police force. In the eyes of many Iraqis, the American military presence is at once incapable of maintaining the peace and too at sea to avoid bloody mistakes—mistakes that are then shown over and over on Al Jazeera and other outlets in the region, reinforcing the idea that the United States is an occupier no less brutal than the French in Algeria. The Iraqis do not live at a policy conference in Washington called “The Future of Iraqi Democracy.” They live in the present tense, in the midst of this chaos, and for them, lacking the precondition of basic order, the rhetoric of a democratic future is hard to fathom.


me, I say we send a bunch of gangsta republicans down there, try to kick some Iraqi ass for good:

“You make a movie about a senile Republican President,” he said, referring to the made-for-TV “The Reagans,” “and they gonna answer back by trying to put his face on the fucking dime. That’s how gangsta they are.”

posted by matteo at 6:22 PM on April 12, 2004


Here is another voice from inside Fallujah.

Lets take that 500 number and run with it for a second. (I've seen 600 more often...but the math is easier with David's 500...so allow me to use it.)

From a town of 200,000...that means 1 out of every 400 people was killed. That doesn't sound so bad, right? Think of it this way, if we had the same level of death in America...1 out of every 400...then we'd have 725,000 dead. There has never been an act of terror against Americans that left that many dead. There's never been an act of *war* against American civilians that left that many dead.

My point is this, 500 people died so we could take revenge because 4 mercenaries didn't follow orders. In a country that we invaded on false pretenses in the first place.

If we had never gone to Iraq, we'd have 600 more Americans alive, thousands and thousands of Iraqi's still alive, hundreds of allies still alive...we have embroiled ourselves in an epic desert cycle of revenge and bloodshed...and nobody has suggested a good way to get the hell out of it.
posted by dejah420 at 6:43 PM on April 12, 2004




Iraq's National Security Advisor Muaffaq al-Rubaie, a Shiite, lashed out at what he called "false reports" by both channels Sunday that he resigned from the council in protest against fighting between US troops and Sadr's supporters that has left many civilians dead in Baghdad and the south.

"I am so upset and so angry about what has been reported on Arab media and television about my resignation," Rubaie told a press conference in Baghdad.

He said he left his position in the council which is legislative in nature to take an executive post as national security advisor as part of the transfer of power by the US-led coalition to a caretaker government on June 30.

"I warn the Arabic media: Iraq's patience has reached its limit and they will regret what they are doing," said a visibly angry Rubaie.

He accused both channels of inciting violence between the country's ethnic groups with their reporting.
-------------------------------------------------------

Hey, y2karl, in what universe is 518 not lower than 600? Are you telling me that 82 bodies don't matter? Would they matter if they were American casualties, because 82 American casualties sounds a lot bigger to you and your agenda, doesn't it, asshole? I've seen the number of injured as high as 1700, and the women and children numbers both over 200 each. Then there were the many comparisons of Falluja with Guernica, which was a slaughtering of at least 1700 people. Give me a fucking break, pal.

Looking good, USA! Winning the hearts and minds! Are you even reading what you post?

Yes, I read what I post. No, it doesn't all have to be Good News for America. I've been reading Zeyad for months, and he sounds like an extremely level-headed, intelligent man. I link to him because I think I can believe him, not because he Supports My Postition(TM). If I only did that, that would make me you, and I'm not surprised that you tried to call me on something that you perceive as a weakness. However, it's not.

I don't pretend to believe that no children have been killed in Fallujah. I know they have. I don't know the circumstances surrounding the deaths, and if it's deliberate target practice by sadistic United States Marine Corps snipers, I'll back their prosecution for war crimes and hope to see that they're punished accordingly.

But. Let's ask ourselves. How young does a person have to be to be considered a 'child'? 17? 16? 15? I'm sure you automatically picture a five-year-old kid. That's your mindset. It doesn't make it true.

And I also know that a Fallujan insurgent said this:

"Even the children will fight.

Are you telling me you've never heard the fact that throughout thousands of years of Arab civil wars, children participating in combat isn't exactly rare? Go read a fucking history book, you idiot.

Fuck the truth, Karl. Push your agenda. A lot of bobble heads will throw you kudos, and kids who don't know any better will do the same. It still won't change facts. Do yourself a favor. Stick to your comment-less links that Support Your Position.
posted by David Dark at 8:20 PM on April 12, 2004


I've read a lot of history books, and frankly I haven't read anything about child soldiers in the Arab world being any more or less common then they are in other regions throughout history, although there may be a kind of lag period owing to development rates. You might be referring to the young Iranian men who fought against Iraq, non-Arabs of course.

In extreme facist societies such as Saddam's Iraq or Hitler's Germany, young people are primed and prepared for war, but rarely used on the battlefield. In the past, children were used in wars all across the world, including America's Civil War, and WWI. Today the majority of Children soldiers are fighting in Africa.

If you can recommend a history book which does cover the subject of child soldiers specifically in the Arab World, please post it because I would be interested to read it.
posted by cell divide at 8:36 PM on April 12, 2004


"Ahmed Chalabi, the neocons' choice to run Iraq, appears to have been responsible for the disastrous decision to move against Muqtada al-Sadr."

Rage.... boiling... inside.... Can we hang this son of a bitch or what? Shit, if Bush decided to make Chalabi the fall guy for the whole mess, and then had him hanged on th White House lawn, I would totally vote Bush/Carpathia 2004.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:38 PM on April 12, 2004


from homunculus' link:
Just as Bremer will not make the slightest move without the approval of his Pentagon bosses, the Defense Department policymakers continue to rely on Chalabi alone for their political assessments on Iraq. In private conversation, as in public, they remain amazingly enthusiastic about Chalabi's supposed political skills, and even genius, and proclaim repeatedly that he is the only man with the brilliance to hold Iraq together and make it work. Give Chalabi a free hand after June 30 and give him all the U.S. firepower he wants to crush his foes -- this is their master plan; there is no other.

Sweet. Installing an illiberal dictator in Iraq out of short-term political convenience. There can't be any downside to that, can there? David Dark, do your history books have anything to say on that matter?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:42 PM on April 12, 2004


How about it totally contradicts everything the administration is saying? Maybe you shouldn't run around believing an article riddled with garbage and lies?
posted by techgnollogic at 8:57 PM on April 12, 2004


Iraq Said to Need Political Not Military Solution

Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said the U.S. Marines would prevail over Falluja's weak insurgents.

"The problem is that this is a political war...(and) the political outcome of Falluja matters far more than getting more insurgents or pacifying the city," he said.

If the Americans and Iraqi mediators "find no one in Falluja to compromise with, then we can pursue a military solution, but we have to understand that the military situation will create as many insurgents as it captures," he added.

Still, one U.S. official said Falluja should be "flattened" and prominent Republican, William Kristol, wrote in his Weekly Standard magazine: "We trust that U.S. troops will soon move to uproot what seems to have become a kind of terrorist sanctuary in Falluja."

U.S. soldiers also were preparing for battle against al-Sadr, believed to be in the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf.

But Kenneth Pollack, author of a book on Iraq, said the U.S. decision to move against Sadr was a "mistake," especially when U.N. envoy Ibrahim Brahimi is trying to organize a June 30 political transition in the country.


Islamic group demands inquiry into ‘gag’ photo
Reservist under investigation for claims in image


Boudreaux is a reservist with Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marines, according to Capt. Jeff Pool, a Marine Forces Reserve spokesman. The New Orleans-based infantry unit deployed to the Kut area of Iraq in May and returned home in mid-September.

Pool said the command began an investigation shortly after it received the photo via e-mail several weeks ago...

Gunnery Sgt. Jamal Baadani, the president and founder of the Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in Military, is on a one-year tour in the Middle East. There, he gives cultural lessons to newly assigned personnel and is Chief of Host Nation Training Support Coordination.

“This picture and sign directed towards a Muslim family is inexcusable,” he said via e-mail. “Inexcusable because if this lance corporal was given a basic class on Islam, he would have known that remarks such as ‘knocking up’ a Muslim Arab woman is not tolerated and violates the honor of a Muslim woman and her family.

“If it was a local Iraq Arab that did this, he would have been shot by a family member on the spot for violating their family honor,” he said.


Like we needed more bad publicity in the Arab world. Hearts and minds continued.

Friends of U.S. Policy in Iraq Have Doubts

Some members of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council blame a series of bad calls by American officials in Iraq for the situation, by far the lowest point of the 1-year-old occupation of Iraq.

Critics say the military has used excessive force in moving to put down this past week's Shiite and Sunni uprisings and U.S. administrators have underestimated the depth of Iraqis' suspicion of American intentions.

U.S. handling, they say, has played into the hands of U.S. opponents in Iraq, raising the profile of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as well as the insurgents at a time when the focus should have been on the scheduled June 30 transfer of power to Iraqis.

''Everything points to the failure of the Americans' security policy in Iraq,'' said Mahmoud Othman, an outspoken member of the U.S.-backed Governing Council. ''The Americans cannot solve the problems of Iraq because of their ignorance of the language, customs and traditions.''

''It did not come as a big surprise to me that they are trying to settle problems with more than one party through military means,'' Othman, a Sunni Kurd, said Sunday.


I've seen the number of injured as high as 1700, and the women and children numbers both over 200 each. Then there were the many comparisons of Falluja with Guernica, which was a slaughtering of at least 1700 people. Give me a fucking break, pal.

But, David Dark, you just wrote Much lower numbers than I've seen being tossed around here by the war on the war crowd. Who tossed what numbers around here, again? You got a link to share with us showing us that, David Dark?

PS. About 70 Coalition Troops and 700 Iraqi Insurgents Killed in Iraq Fighting

The head of Fallujah's hospital said a day earlier that 600 Iraqis - mostly civilians - were killed in the siege of that city alone.

By an Associated Press count, at least 62 U.S. troops, two non-U.S. coalition soldiers and around 882 Iraqis have been killed across the country since April 4, including in Fallujah.

Hospital director Rafie al-Issawi said most of the 600 dead in Fallujah were women, children and elderly. But he refused to give their exact numbers, saying that doing so would suggest that the remaining dead - young, military-aged men - were all insurgents, which he said was not the case.

Al-Issawi told AP that the number was compiled from registries of bodies received by the Fallujah General Hospital and four main clinics. The registries had names or - in unidentified cases - the gender and description of the bodies, he said.

posted by y2karl at 9:17 PM on April 12, 2004


How about it totally contradicts everything the administration is saying? Maybe you shouldn't run around believing an article riddled with garbage and lies?

Whatever. Lke it matters that something contradicts the Bush White House. If you think that something is a lie just because Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz disagree with it, you must lead an interesting life.

But does it contradict everything the administration is saying? I don't know. They are, in fact, targetting Chalabi's rivals--though there is indeed no evidence that they're doing it for pro-Chalabi reasons. In any case, the Chalabi/INC rationale for everything up to this point has been exactly the same as the administration rationale. Mainly because they bought all of their intelligence from the INC.

Why do you want me to believe that the idea of Chalabi as the next US-friendly dictator contradicts the administration's statements? It doesn't contradict out long history of stupidly installing illiberal leaders only to take it in the ass years later. Perle was on Sundy morning TV hailing Chalabi as Iraq's savior. Chalabi's "Free Iraqi Forces" were flown in by the Pentagon, and we still pay Chalabi $340,000 a year.

Am I supposed to be shocked that no one in the White House is saying "we want to install Chalabi as a dictator"? Christ, I would think they would be more tactful than that. Who is currently better positioned than Chalabi to assume leadership there? No one. Chalabi's interests are the Bush/neocon interests. They're one in the same. Nobody ever said "this Hussien guy is going to be our brutal dictator." They just said he was better than the evil Ayatollah. Just like in a few months when Chalabi begins his reign over Iraq, you and others will call me a terrorist and say that I love Saddam because I don't accept that Chalabi=democracy.

Prove me wrong. Please. Nothing would be more pleasing than not living through the next blowback/bullshit cycle instigated by old men who still think they're fighting the cold war.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:31 PM on April 12, 2004


I think I've read all the fallujah posts, and I don't recall anyone citing casualty numbers incongruent with the current tally of 700 killed and maybe 1500 wounded.

Those are pretty big numbers for a small-ish city, and they don't really require inflation to be shocking. Especially given the specificity of this report posted by David Dark (up this thread a bit) - ".....Doctors from Fallujah mentioned that a large number of the dead women and children were shot in the head and that they were saving the extracted bullets to prove that they were being targeted by Marines snipers in the city."

It just sounds bad, and I suspect thsat the anti-coalition forces in Iraq will milk these Falujah deaths - for PR purposes - for a long time to come.
posted by troutfishing at 9:40 PM on April 12, 2004


Fundamental errors of inflexible army

In the fighting of the past week, America's "enemy" has widened to include two fronts: Shia militias from the south, once dismissed as no more than minor irritants, and huge numbers of young male villagers from tribes across the Sunni belt who have taken up arms in support of fighters under attack in Falluja, an icon of resistance.

Yet still the US military's definitions are narrow. Gen Sanchez continued to portray the violence as emanating from "a small group of criminals and thugs".

This means their preference has been for military action ahead of diplomatic negotiation. Problem towns, like Saddam's home village of al-Ouja, and al-Qaim on the Syrian border, were surrounded by barbed wire and closed off while aggressive house-to-house searches were conducted for weapons and evidence of insurgents. Last week's operation in Falluja was built on a similar foundation. The city was encircled and cordoned off and the marines moved from one sector to the next, trying to extend their control.

Brigadier General Mark Kimmit, US deputy director of operations, promised an "overwhelming" response to the killing and mutilation on March 31 of four US contractors. There is little doubt the operation - Vigilant Resolve - has been overwhelming.

But as a result, many more Iraqis appear to have taken up arms around Falluja and on the western outskirts of Baghdad, where westerners have been kidnapped or killed.

Only after a week of combat did the military permit negotiations to establish a ceasefire and to seek the arrest of those responsible for killing the four contractors.

Against the Shia threat in the south, the military has promised similar aggression.


Fallujah Gains Mythic Air

The lopsided battle 35 miles to the west -- where 2,500 Marines have been deployed -- has had a profound impact here, redefining for many in Baghdad the nature of the campaign against U.S. troops.

Intense, sympathetic and often startlingly graphic coverage on Arab channels has deepened a vein of nationalism, stirred in part by still unconfirmed reports of high civilian casualties. Over the weekend, in the living room of a decidedly secular family, a woman wept over the images on a screen she finally leaned forward and kissed.

Headlines in Iraq's newly free press reinforce the video images: "Fallujah Wakes to a Grave Massacre" read the banner in Monday's edition of the daily Azzaman. Fresh graffiti sprayed in sweeping Arabic letters is turning up across the city. On one wall in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Jihad, the messages were spaced 10 yards apart: "Long live Fallujah's heroes." "Down with America and long live the Mahdi Army," a Shiite militia. Then: "Long live the resistance in Fallujah." And finally, "Long live the resistance."

The popular response -- of Shiite and Sunni giving aid, shelter to refugees and even volunteers to the fight -- has pushed fears of an Iraqi civil war to the background. The fighters in Fallujah are said to include Mahdi Army militiamen loyal to the radical cleric Moqtada Sadr. A housewife in Baghdad's Salaam neighborhood told of a passionate argument with her husband, a Shiite who insisted on joining friends volunteering to fight in Fallujah.

"This is jihad," she quoted him as saying. She added: "It was the first time he ever slapped me."

Some here are already speaking with the sense of history -- that powerful, deeply symbolic myths are being created.

"What is striking is how much has changed in a week -- a week," said Wamid Nadhmi, a political science professor at Baghdad University. "No one can talk about the Sunni Triangle anymore. No one can seriously talk about Sunni-Shiite fragmentation or civil war. The occupation cannot talk about small bands of resistance. Now it is a popular rebellion and it has spread."


Fallujah gains a mythic air--which was the point of my third link in this post.
posted by y2karl at 9:41 PM on April 12, 2004


Militia Withdraws At Key Iraqi Sites

A week after seizing control of Najaf, Iraq's holiest city, members of a militia loyal to radical Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr relinquished their hold on police stations and government buildings Monday as hundreds of U.S. soldiers mobilized in preparation for an assault on the city.

The withdrawal of Sadr's forces, the continuation of a cease-fire in the violence-wracked city of Fallujah and the reported release of seven kidnapped Chinese civilians amounted to the most positive developments for U.S. occupation forces since a two-front war with Shiite militiamen and Sunni Muslim insurgents erupted a week ago.


Ignatius: It contradicts everything the administration has said because it isn't remotely democratic to suggest that we install and prop up a Chalabi dictatorship. It would be political suicide for Bush to even attempt to switch gears and move in such a direction after months and months and months of speeches about the liberation of Iraq and his dedication to moving towards free elections as soon as possible. You may not believe it, but the vast majority of people who support this war and this president do so under the assumption that our goal is to liberalize and democratize Iraq and eventually the entire middle east. Their support hinges on that goal. For Bush to say fuck it and install Chalabi would not only kill any hope for support among Iraqis for the new government, but it would also kill any hope for re-election. Even a "things are too chaotic, we have to postpone the June 30 timeline indefinitely" would be a disaster in terms of shredding any simblance of integrity or legitimacy the coalition still possesses. Have you not been watching and counting the number of times Bush himself has reiterated his dedication to that date in recent weeks?
posted by techgnollogic at 9:43 PM on April 12, 2004


As fighting continues, quest to bring democracy to Iraq nears failure

President Bush invaded Iraq hoping to spread democracy across the Middle East, but after the worst week of violence since Saddam Hussein was overthrown, he's now struggling to avoid a costly, humiliating defeat.

"It was going to transform the Middle East, remember? Now all we want to do is save our butts," said former U.S. ambassador David Mack, vice president of the Washington-based Middle East Institute, a nonpartisan research center that concentrates on Arab states.

The president, like many of his predecessors in the White House, faces competing pressures over the course of a war. Polls show that Americans, while not demanding immediate withdrawal, are growing discontented with Bush's handling of Iraq and the rising tide of casualties. At least 45 Americans - soldiers, Marines and an airman in a mortar attack reported Saturday - were killed this week in spreading rebellions by a Shiite militia and Sunni Muslims.

Yet backing away now could leave Iraq worse off than it was before, many government officials and private experts believe. They fear a failed state, like Afghanistan was in the early 1990s, would spawn terrorism and destabilize its neighbors. Those neighbors could include pivotal U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf, such as oil-rich Saudi Arabia, where instability could pose troubling implications for the global economy...

Mack said Bush's credibility to sell such solutions to Americans has been damaged by prewar claims from Vice President Dick Cheney and others that U.S. troops would be welcomed in Iraq.

"This was going to be a permissive environment," Mack said. "Plus, there was a ready-made alternative to Saddam and his regime. And it wasn't even going to cost us very much money."

All such assurances turned out to be illusions.

posted by y2karl at 9:56 PM on April 12, 2004


World press despair over Iraq

Newspapers throughout the world reflect anguish and uncertainty over the situation in Iraq one year after the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime and in the wake of the growing violence and kidnapping of foreigners.

One of the leading US dailies pleads for clarity over the coalition's mission in Iraq, while an Israeli commentator sees parallels with his country's presence in Lebanon, which ended ignominiously.

posted by y2karl at 10:01 PM on April 12, 2004


You may not believe it, but the vast majority of people who support this war and this president do so under the assumption that our goal is to liberalize and democratize Iraq and eventually the entire middle east.

No, I do believe it. I don't harbor the misconception that everyone who supported the Iraq war was a knuckle-dragger or ideological cohort of the Vulcans. The thing is, when the media is largely compliant and clueless (and I don't condemn them too much for the latter, as I doubt that anyone in the world has a comprehensive grasp on what's going on), words matter more than deeds. Here's what I mean:

A dictator can come about through illiberal democracy as easilly as through non-democratic means. Chalabi is heading up Iraq's de-Ba'athification program--as had been discussed here on MeFi and throughout the mainstream press--and he is using this process to arrest and kill his potential political rivals. Clearly, Sadr will be out of the way soon enough (or at least has removed himself for consideration as part of a US-sanctioned government, I would imagine we can all agree). As the trained Iraqi army disbands itself and refuses to fight alongside Americans, and Sadr's militia is destroyed, we are quickly approaching the point at which the onyl organized military machine in Iraq is Chalabi's private militia, the FIF.

So... assuming Iraq makes it to the free elections, the situation may well look like this: All credible threats to Chalabi winning are in jail or dead; all military and paramilitary opposition to Chalabi's INC has been pre-emptively mitigated; the security around the polling places will be provided by the FIF; the INC has the only intact political infrastructure in Iraq (remember when Communist Parties won the initial elections in many former Soviet Republics? One of the most compelling explanations I remember from that time was that no one else could rush in and fill the void with organized political machines); and, Chalabi is of course still getting hundreds of thousnds of American dollars a year (that we know of).

In this context, Chalabi will win "democratically." It worked to get rid of the Sandanistas, and is a hallmark of many African "governments."

Even a "things are too chaotic, we have to postpone the June 30 timeline indefinitely" would be a disaster in terms of shredding any simblance of integrity or legitimacy the coalition still possesses. Have you not been watching and counting the number of times Bush himself has reiterated his dedication to that date in recent weeks?

I fear that you're right about this one. That being said, I and most people who I know (and all pundits that I even come close to respecting) who opposed the war are now more vehement than the war's proponents about pushing back the deadline and sending more troops. I can't s[eak for anyone else, but if Bush decideds to postpone the June 30 date, I will congratulate him for making a tough choice that took into account the big picture.

That being said, I don't understand how it is that I am supposed to think that contradiction with a Bush administration statement is somehow tantamount to proof of being wrong. These guys do kind of lie all the time. Your logic here sounds dangerously similar to that used to "refute" Scott Ritter and Hans Blix back in 2002 (without the insinuation that I'm a child mollestor, which is cool).
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:17 PM on April 12, 2004


Israel concerned setbacks in Iraq could harm state security

The defense establishment, monitoring the unfolding escalation in Iraq, is increasingly concerned that American setbacks there could have grave consequences for Israel's security. This could impact not only the defense budget, but also a change in the army's long-range security concept. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz convened a security assessment with top IDF brass and other security officials late Thursday to weigh the implications for Israel. "The success of the United States there is vital for the entire region and if things deteriorate or get out of control then we will have much to be concerned about," said a defense official familiar with the discussions held.

Burden of Victory - The Painful Arithmetic of Stability Operations Rand Corporation Summer 2003

For cases drastic enough to warrant outside intervention, the required force ratio is much higher. Although numbers alone do not constitute a security strategy, successful strategies for population security and control have required force ratios either as large as or larger than 20 security personnel (troops and police combined) per thousand inhabitants. This figure is roughly 10 times the ratio required for simple policing of a tranquil population.

The British are acknowledged as the most experienced practitioners of the stabilization art. To maintain stability in Northern Ireland, the British deployed a security force (consisting of British army troops plus police from the Royal Ulster Constabulary) at a ratio of about 20 per thousand inhabitants. This is about the same force ratio that the British deployed during the Malayan counterinsurgency in the middle of the 20th century...

The population of Iraq today is nearly 25 million. That population would require 500,000 foreign troops on the ground to meet a standard of 20 troops per thousand residents. This number is more than three times the number of foreign troops now deployed to Iraq (see figure). For a sustainable stabilization force on a 24-month rotation cycle, the international community would need to draw on a troop base of 2.5 million troops. Such numbers are clearly not feasible and emphasize the need for the rapid creation of indigenous security forces even while foreign troops continue to be deployed. The extremely low force ratio for Afghanistan, a country with a population even larger than that of Iraq, shows the implausibility of current stabilization efforts by external forces.

In Iraq, a 'perfect storm'

The US closure of an irregularly published newspaper with just 5,000 readers seemed a tiny moment in the struggle for stability in Iraq. But the March 28 move to close Al Hawza, controlled by militant Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, now looks like the edge of a violent storm.

How its twin fronts - of Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents - built and combined to create what might be described as the perfect Iraqi sandstorm is only now coming into focus. At the time, no one would have forecast that the deaths of four US security contractors alone would result in a major military campaign in Fallujah. Similarly, the US coalition hardly anticipated that the closure of just one of 100-plus newspapers in Baghdad would form the genesis of a Shiite revolt in half a dozen cities around Iraq.


Behold, my son, with what little wisdom the world is ruled.
Count Axel Gustafsson Oxenstierna

posted by y2karl at 10:23 PM on April 12, 2004


I'm not saying that contradicting the Bush administration means "oh you must be wrong." I'm saying that if what you're suggesting the Bush administration will do (install a Chalabi dictatorship) completely contradicts the stated and restated and stressed and reiterated policy of the Bush administration (develop and then protect liberal democracy in Iraq), the responsibility falls on you to explain how you expect Bush to do a complete 180 and get away with it.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:27 PM on April 12, 2004


Our Last Real Chance

The tragedy is that so much of this was avoidable. The Bush administration went into Iraq with a series of prejudices about Iraq, rogue states, nation-building, the Clinton administration, multilateralism and the U.N. It believed Iraq was going to vindicate these ideological positions. As events unfolded the administration proved stubbornly unwilling to look at facts on the ground, new evidence and the need for shifts in its basic approach. It was more important to prove that it was right than to get Iraq right.
posted by y2karl at 10:29 PM on April 12, 2004


I'm not saying that contradicting the Bush administration means "oh you must be wrong." I'm saying that if what you're suggesting the Bush administration will do (install a Chalabi dictatorship) completely contradicts the stated and restated and stressed and reiterated policy of the Bush administration (develop and then protect liberal democracy in Iraq), the responsibility falls on you to explain how you expect Bush to do a complete 180 and get away with it.

Well put, and fair enough.

First, the empirical. Central America. Indonesia. It has essentially been a fundamental plank of our foreign policy that we move to install friendly dictators and call them democracies. Shit, Islam Karimov is doin' some major dictatin' right now, depsite our claims that his regime ought to be filed under "freedom loving." It ought to be clear that the word "democracy," despite of and maybe even because of the importance of the signified, can be and is often exploited as so much platitude. I would contend that when the word is used cynically, it is almost never used with the same level of cynicism at every stage of the enterprise in question. Simply, I don't have much trouble believing that, in the beginning, Reagan was earnest about Central America and Central Americans, or that Johnson was earnest about the Vietnamese. But by the end of their repsective debacles, it was rather clear that the US was nakedly promoting self-interest, and that the jargon of democracy and the clash of civilizations provides great consent and cover.

Second, and pardon my Foucault-worship here, I don't know that it entirely matters what the Bush administration wants or intends. If a series of events begins now which culminates in Chalabi assuming power in an unbalanced and illiberal Iraq, then there will be more important things than whether or not George Bush really believed in the project of Iraqi democracy.

Third, the rhetoric within the Bush administration is often quite varied at any one point in time, and I don't think we can ever assume that the Pentagon, White House, Vice President, NSA, etc. are always on the same page. I have no doubt--due ot my ability to watch them talk on TV all the time--that many in and on the fringes of the Bush White House are quite committed to Chalabi. And in the past when the administration has split along certain lines on other issues, all those now pimping for Chalabi have been the ones who got their way.

_______________________________________________

Tangent:
What the hell happened to the Powell Doctrine? Aren't we screwing up on all three of its requirements? Man, that guy is pretty smart. If only he stuck up for himself.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:22 PM on April 12, 2004


I'm not saying that contradicting the Bush administration means "oh you must be wrong." I'm saying that if what you're suggesting the Bush administration will do (install a Chalabi dictatorship) completely contradicts the stated and restated and stressed and reiterated policy of the Bush administration (develop and then protect liberal democracy in Iraq), the responsibility falls on you to explain how you expect Bush to do a complete 180 and get away with it.

Well alot has to do with the upcoming elections. I highly doubt that the Chalabi dictatorship "democratically elected government" will be put in place before November. If Bush wins, well then it's a done deal. If Kerry wins, then he will have a very tough time untangling that mess. In fact, he will be heavily pressured by residual "Bush" elements in the Pentagon and Military to not waste all of the money and time spent on Chalabi. Add to this the fact that probably all other choices will have been killed, jailed or exiled and it seems pretty impossible that Chalabi isn't the next Saddam of Iraq.

Do a google search on the history of Chalabi. You tell me if he is a democratic choice for a free country. This isn't an exception situation. This was STANDARD PROCEDURE throughout the Cold War: install a dictator, hold an election, he wins by a landslide, call him president, he continues to act like a ruthless dicator. The Shah of Iran comes to mind, as one example among dozens.
posted by sic at 11:23 PM on April 12, 2004


I honestly don't believe that Chalabi will make it to that point. I rather doubt his private army will be able to control Iraq.
posted by troutfishing at 4:27 AM on April 13, 2004


His private army will be bolstered by the private armies of Halliburton etal and the US military, who Bush has already stated would remain until Irak is "free". Handing over "control" to Chalabi or the UN or whoever doesn't necessarily mean withdrawl of troops. The British did the same in the early 30s when they officially ended their Mandate and handed over control to King Faisel. Their troops remained to protect the Iraq Petroleum Company and its British interests well into the 50s before they were thrown out by the Revolution in 1958 led by Gen. Abdel Karim Qassem.

Of course this is the classic catch-22 logic: Irak can't be free as long it is occupied by US troops and the US troops will not leave as long as Irak is not free.

Don't think that the US military isn't going to protect Cheney's investments with their lives until all the oil has been pilfered...
posted by sic at 6:00 AM on April 13, 2004


you're imagining things. it's that simple. Chalabi might be the most favoritest advisor the Pentagon has ever seen, but he's not going to be installed, propped up, or win fixed elections.

This catch 22 of yours, sic, is also ridiculous. You probably think every nation on earth where US troops are stationed isn't free, though.
posted by techgnollogic at 7:20 AM on April 13, 2004


Would you care to wager how long the US maintain troops in Iraq? Will it be years after the US handover of so called control of Iraq, or will they be pulled out on June 30th? My bet is that they will remain until the Iraqis throw them out. These posts are all archived so we can refer to them after the fact to see if either one of us was right. If Chalabi is placed in power in the next few years, bolstered by a continuing US military presence, I'll be expecting a respectful nod from you (and vice versa, naturally.) But be warned, so far all of the ideas I've had about this unfortunate situation in the last year and a half or so have come to pass. This is of course a tragedy.

By the way, Catch 22s are by definition illogical, absurd.

There is absolutely no doubt in any Iraqis mind that the US is a hostile occupying force, this is why so many of them are trying to kill the US soldiers. Therefore the US presence, whether you like it or not, leads to violence. Bush won't pull the troops out until Irak is "free" as he puts it. I interpret this to mean pacified. Since Irak won't be pacified until the American troops leave, or the Iraqi people have been decimated.... well, I suppose you get the picture.

Of course, if you actually posit an argument, I mean, other than "NO YOU'RE WRONG", I'd be happy to debate it with you, if you promise to keep things civil.
posted by sic at 7:47 AM on April 13, 2004


Juan Cole: Sistani Threatens Shiite Resistance if US Invades Najaf

The Iranian newspaper Baztab is reporting that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has sent a strongly-worded message to the Coalition forces, in which he warned them against attacking the Shiite shrine cities of Najaf and Karbala after the end of Arba'in.

According to this report, in this letter Sistani warned the US that were the Occupation forces to wage a campaign against Karbala and Najaf, the religious leadership of the Shiites would fight to its last breath for the rights of the Shiites.


The Dangerous Gossip of the Week - [Still Unconfirmed]

In fact, I didn’t want to discuss that until I heard the “clarification” of the GC today, invalidating the rumor and saying it is not true at all.

The underground gossip says that Pashmerga (Kurds militias) took a part in the Falluja battles last week, (after the soldiers of the “New Iraqi Army” refused to obey the orders and go fight there).

The decreasing possibility of having a Sunni-Shia war increases the possibility of starting an Arab-Kurd one.


Kurdish peshmergas join US Marines in Fallujah

Members of the Iraqi special forces, a unit formed by Kurdish peshmergas, walk throught the outskirts of Fallujah, Iraq, Wednesday, April 7, 2004, for a joint patrol with U.S. Marines of the 2nd Battalion 1st Marine Regiment. (AP Photo/Murad Sezer)

Chalabi and Falluja

To round all this disparate information up, I think what we're seeing in Fallujah is two Marine battalions fighting alongside Chalabi's INC militia, some Iraqi Communist Party militia and some Kurdish peshmergas, in the form of the 36th ICDC batallion. There is no indication that the militia of SCIRI, the Badr Brigades, was ever incorporated into this force. Moqtada Sadr's Al-Mahdi Army clearly wasn't invited. There may be some INA, but this "36th battalion" is either a Chalabi show or he wants people to think that it is.

I think it can be safely concluded that Chalabi and the Kurdish faction have put all their Iraqi eggs in the American basket. For Chalabi, the possibility that the Americans might be run out of Iraq would be extremely bad news for his hide, let alone his ambitions. For the Kurds, well...they've already prepared for the next phase.

posted by y2karl at 8:05 AM on April 13, 2004


I think troops will remain in Iraq indefinitely. It seems unlikely that Chalabi will ever be freely elected so I don't think he'll ever be in charge.

There is absolutely no doubt in any Iraqis mind that the US is a hostile occupying force

Even as hyperbole, this is demonstrably untrue. The ABC News poll of Iraqi Shiites found 56% of Southern Shiites and 44% of Shiites elsewhere said the invasion was right, and 49% and 34% felt the invasion liberated rather than humiliated Iraq. How can you look at those figures and reach the conclusion that there is no doubt in any Iraqis mind that the US is a hostile occupying force?
posted by techgnollogic at 8:10 AM on April 13, 2004


Even as hyperbole, this is demonstrably untrue.

When was that unlinked poll to which you refer taken, again? That might have a bearing on its relevance.
posted by y2karl at 8:35 AM on April 13, 2004


Analysis: Will rolling heads crush rebellion, or Iraq itself?

"I want heads to roll," US President George W. Bush told top US officials here last week following the murder of four and mutilation of two American contractors in Fallujah.

And rolled they have. More than 500 Iraqis have died as violence engulfed Iraq in the past week. The creation of hundreds of "martyrs" has led the US-led coalition a hairbreadth from squashing its critical Shi'ite support base, said governing council officials on Saturday.

They have already lost most of the Sunnis...

Bush's razor-sharp distinction of the "good guys" and the "bad guys" has filtered down the ranks. Sadr and his men are bad. The Shia in general, good. The Sunnis are OK, but those in the towns of Fallujah and Ramadi, say officers here, are definitely "very bad."

But weeding the bad from the good has brought the coalition nightmarishly close to loosing the Shia. Some say this majority of 15 million in a country of 27 million has already been lost. Arab media are increasingly likening Iraq to Israel and the Palestinian territories. The lexicon – intifada, hudna, occupation, massacre – is identical.
Fallujah is its Jenin, Bremer its Ariel Sharon.

In the Arab Middle East, there is no greater insult.

posted by y2karl at 8:48 AM on April 13, 2004


Whatever happened to Warfilter?
posted by moonbiter at 8:58 AM on April 13, 2004


It seems unlikely that Chalabi will ever be freely elected so I don't think he'll ever be in charge.

Why? I'm not 100% sure it will happen or anything, and I'm just trying to understand what the hell is happening, the same as you or anyone. But sic and I have given many reasons why we reasonably think it highly possible that Chalabi will become our puppet in Iraq. We might be wrong, but it is likely for some reason or another, not just because someone else says so.

So... is the empirical model off-base? Am I wrong that the US has a long history of installing friendly dictators? Is my take on the political situation wrong? If so, who is more likely to win an election?

Alls I', sayin' is that I'm wrong all the time, and I have no problem with the idea that you may well know a lot more about this than me. But if that's the case, could you share a little of that knowledge with me? You just kleep restating that we're wrong, without ever trying to give reasons. Troutfishing made an argument: he said that Chalabi's FIF would not likely hold up. That is a valid line of reasoning--and more to the point it is a line of reasoning period.

I don't want to be a jerk or an ideologue, but I'm having a hard time overcoming my bias toward logic and evidence.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:49 AM on April 13, 2004


Yes, all polls need to be put into proper context. I remember hearing about the one you refer to maybe a month or two ago? Even if we take it at face value, something I am hesitant to do with any poll anywhere about any topic, the questions asked do not in any way refute the fact that the majority of Iraqis now see the Americans as a hostile occupying force. Here in the local news in my country the day before yesterday I heard an interview of a doctor in southern Iraq, I believe a shi'ite, saying that he was happy to see Saddam go because Saddam killed his brother, but now the Americans must go because they had killed his other two brothers. This seems to be a logical and quite coherent assessment of Iraqi public opinion.

In other words, "thanks for killing the dictator. Now stop killing us and get out or we will kill you."

Besides, given the scope of the Iraqi resistence in the past week, it's difficult to sell a "poll" as more compelling than, how many US soldiers and Iraqi civilians killed? This really is a sad situation.

As far as Chalabi, I agree that he will never be really in charge, the US will use him, or someone else, as a proxy, just like that dapper fellow in Afghanistan. Or on preview, *nods to Ignatius*



Moonbiter: Get thee to metatalk! and leave us be.
posted by sic at 10:55 AM on April 13, 2004


U.S. army builds up force round Iraqi city Najaf

The U.S. military has moved "significant" forces to the holy Iraqi city of Najaf in preparation for a possible offensive to retake the city from Shi'ite militants and capture or kill their leader.
posted by y2karl at 11:01 AM on April 13, 2004


Falluja Truce Broken

From the Agonist

The US fighter planes dropped stun bombs to cover their troops withdrawal, he added.

Would like to know more about that.
posted by y2karl at 12:07 PM on April 13, 2004


The ABC News poll of Iraqi Shiites found 56% of Southern Shiites and 44% of Shiites elsewhere said the invasion was right, and 49% and 34% felt the invasion liberated rather than humiliated Iraq.

I think you need to make a distinction between the pre-invasion sanction seige of Iraq, the invasion itself, and the protracted US occupation that has followed.

Most Iraqis will spit at you when they talk about the US-controlled UN sanctions regime.

Most Iraqis will tell you that the invasion was A Good Thing - it got rid of Saddam's regime quite quickly.

Many Iraqis, however, will tell you that the elongated US-led occupation that has followed sucks. They see the cronyism, the factionalized politics, and the progressive installation of US proxies throughout their social and economic systems. This is bound to cause resentment.

I'd compare it to the occupation of Europe after WW2. While the US was swift to quit the economic and political management of most countries (except for West Germany), the Soviets began progressively restructuring the countries they occupied.

Occupied is the key workd. You transform inevitably from liberator to oppressor, and people in the occupied countries begin to feel you are treating them as vassal possessions and not partners.
posted by meehawl at 12:23 PM on April 13, 2004


It's hard to expect Iraqis to be patient with any government. That doesn't make the coalition wrong. It doesn't make the coalition their enemies. Judging by the scope of the resistance in the last couple weeks, the vast majority of Iraqis are either A) Being patient and understanding of the magnitude of the tasks ahead - even working towards a free and stable future or B) Unwilling to fight. But the fact is the vast majority of them aren't fighting, aren't brandishing weapons, aren't shooting at anyone, and aren't getting shot at. The vast majority.
posted by techgnollogic at 12:47 PM on April 13, 2004


My quick google, these links only address modern times, but they support my contention that at least some of these dead children were likely firing weapons at Marines when they were killed:

[c]urrently there are at least 300,000 children actively engaged in armed conflict in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan and Uganda.
The treaty, the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, prohibits both the participation of children under the age of 18 in hostilities, and their forced recruitment. It also calls on states to raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment above 15 years.

And it isn't just in Africa that this problem is bad. It is at its worst in the Middle East, particularly in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, who has turned childhood into a boot camp for kids who learn nothing but hatred towards Israelis.
----------------------------------------
Facing Saddam's Child Soldiers

Among the litany of human rights violations committed by Saddam Husayn is that his regime deliberately recruits children into its armed forces, in violation of both international law and widely accepted moral norms.
----------------------------------------
In Iraq, in addition to broad training programs, the regime organized several child-soldier units. The first appeared to fall under the Futuwah (Youth Vanguard) movement, a Ba'ath party initiative Formed in the late 1970's aimed at creating a paramilitary organization among children at the secondary school level. In this regime-run program, children as young as 12 were organized into units and received military training and political indoctrination. Units of this force were deployed in the losing stages of Iraq's war with Iran between 1938 and 1985. (6)

The Ashbal Saddam (Saddam Lion Cubs), a more recent organization, was formed after Iraq's defeat during the 1991 Persian Gulf war, when the regime hold on power became shaker.(7) The Ashbal Saddam involved boys between the ages of 10 and 15, who attended military training camps and learned the use of small arms and infantry tactics. The camps were reputedly quite intensive, involving as much as 14 hours a day of military training and political indoctrination. The camps also used severe training techniques such as frequent beatings and acts of cruelty to animals to desensitize the youth to violence. The exact numbers of the Ashbal Saddam are not known, but there were an estimated 8,000 members in Baghdad alone.
----------------------------------------
Possible Ethical Nightmare Looming in Iraq
By Andrew Buncombe, THE INDEPENDENT (LONDON), Thursday, January 16, 2003

As the prospect of a conflict with Iraq grows nearer, a possible ethical nightmare hides in the background: The Iraqi government has forced thousands of children to learn to kill, and has placed them in the military.
----------------------------------------
In June 2002, Palestinian television broadcast a movie titled Children who love the homeland and their martyr's death. During the film Dr. Fadel Abu Hin, a lecturer and psychologist, said the word shuhada does not mean putting an end to one's life but rather allows children to take an active role in the intifada.

Parents often let their children dress up as martyrs, especially during marches and parades. Security forces recently discovered a photo of a baby wearing an explosive charge and a headband with a slogan professing his dedication to Allah.
----------------------------------------
posted by David Dark at 2:36 PM on April 13, 2004


David Dark - Great research - Maybe you fill Dhartung's shoes?

Anyway - does it matter? (And what would the percentages be?) - In the PR war, in the end, dead children are just that (justly, or not).
posted by troutfishing at 3:36 PM on April 13, 2004


David, I suggest you also look at a similar scheme to militarize and direct children's play behaviour using a clever program of electronically mediated, repeated, progressive reinforcement of aggressive, directed violence within an immersive, stimulating and neurochemically addictive environment.

America's Army.
posted by meehawl at 4:14 PM on April 13, 2004


So are we going to let ourselves lose the PR war, troutfishing? The insurgents don't have much hope of winning militarily. They don't really have much hope of gathering enough popular support in Iraq to force us out. Their most likely avenue of victory is to demoralize the American public to the point that the coalition cannot maintain the political will to proceed. The most likely way we can lose this war is by giving up and going home. We must acknowledge the role that we, the public, play in maintaining support for the process of democratizing Iraq. I'm not going to help us lose this war. I'm not going to help our enemies defeat us, because you know and I know that the enemy we face in Iraq does not want simply to be left alone. Criticism and open debate and evaluation of our leadership is a vital part of our system of government. Harping on every flaw and setback and pointing fingers at every negative news report as proof that this administration is stupid or evil or wrong does nothing to improve the situation or increase our chances of victory. If you want us to win this war, that's not how you show it.

Sure, meehawl, training children for 14 hours a day to kill people and to wear explosive belts designed to hurl nails at tremendous speed in all directions, shredding themselves and every innocent bystander in range, is the same as making a video game about being in the army. Your moral relativism is shameful. You might as well equate teaching children squad-based infrantry tactics and unleashing them against a modern army with taking Junior squirrel hunting.
posted by techgnollogic at 4:28 PM on April 13, 2004


techno I really fail to see a difference in kind...perhaps I am just jaded, but if the Palestinians had an army, no doubt the children's activities and games would be similar to those in countries with armies, such as military clothes, games, and guns. GI Joe becomes Martyr Hassan, but in the end it's really the same thing on the most basic level, which is preparing young men for the possibility of war, is it not? Anyway not trying to pick a fight, I totally feel what you're saying but at the same time I think that if they had money and a real army, they'd be sending kids to youth army camps like the Israelis do.

As for David Dark, I see a lot of sick indoctrination in those links, but no actual instances of children doing actual fighting. don't think you can say that there were kids firing weapons based on those links! I think you are just desperate, looking for an excuse... but there's no excuse, kids die in wars it's that simple.
posted by chaz at 4:43 PM on April 13, 2004


Failure Redefined

The hakuna matata crowd seems to believe that Sistani's lack of support for Sadr should be interpreted as support for the American position. The reality is far more troubling. Current plans call for sovereignty to be transferred to "the Iraqi people" on June 30. Much controversy has attended the timing of this transfer, but little attention has been paid to its mechanics. In the real world, "the Iraqi people" are not going to gain control over domestic policy; rather, certain specific Iraqi people will. As of now, however, no one knows who those people will be. The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, meanwhile, will be replaced by a super-embassy to be headed by a person who, again, has not yet been named...

Forestalling disaster requires the administration to move beyond counterinsurgency warfare toward addressing the underlying Shiite political grievances. Convincing the Kurds to give up what they have already won will not be an easy task. But unless the major Kurdish and Shiite leaders -- not just handpicked IGC members -- can reach an agreement about the future of Iraq, the task of nation-building in Iraq will be hopeless. Whether the June 30 date should be moved, the United Nations brought in, or the level of American forces changed are all secondary issues: Whatever it is that can be agreed to is what should be done. Speculating as to what could secure such agreement is a poor replacement for actual talks around the negotiating table.

Under the circumstances, a simplistic debate between staying the course and bringing the boys home is unenlightening. If a broadly supported interim government can be found, then staying in force to support it against extreme elements is preferable to allowing the situation to devolve into chaos. If not, however, then the aims of the occupation -- however laudable -- are simply infeasible, and we should look for a way to extricate ourselves from a futile enterprise undertaken on dubious pretenses. The approach offered thus far by the Bush administration -- long on bravado, but short on actual plans to improve the situation -- threatens to bring the worst of both worlds.

posted by y2karl at 5:20 PM on April 13, 2004


The current Stratfor sample is on topic:

Gaming Out Iraq

Al-Sistani did not want the June 30 transition to go forward on U.S. terms. The Iranians did not want the United States to think it had Iran on the defensive. A confrontation with the United States under these circumstances was precisely what was in both al-Sistani and Iran's interests. Both wanted to drive home to the Americans that they held power in Iraq and that the United States was there at the sufferance of the Shia. The United States had forgotten its sense of desperation during the Sunni Ramadan offensive, and the Shia needed to remind them -- but they needed to do so without a rupture with Washington, which was, after all, instrumental to their long-term plans.

Al-Sadr was the perfect instrument. He was dangerous, deniable and manageable. U.S. officials have expressed surprise that al-Sadr -- who they did not regard highly -- was able to create such havoc. Obviously, al-Sistani could have dealt with al-Sadr if and when he wished. But for the moment, al-Sistani didn't wish. He wanted to show the Americans the abyss they faced if they continued on the path to June 30 without modifying the plan.

posted by y2karl at 5:36 PM on April 13, 2004


Your moral relativism is shameful

Thanks. I'll take your righteous indignation as more evidence that you really, honestly, fundamentally just don't get it.

Chaz on the other hand gets it.

Economically disadvantaged Stateless cultures without recourse to advanced, institutional systems for creating and innovating directed violence by necessity rely on primitive methods of dubious utility. Their violence is direct and unmediated and proceeds on a personal or small-scale organizational level.

Rich advanced States, on the other hand, can obfuscate their institutionalized violence behind uniforms and codes of conduct, training camps and ROTCs, "targetted killings" and "population transfers", and deploy WMDs through airborne and naval forces and wage radiological warfare using depleted uranium. So it goes.

If an angry Palestinian wants vengeance, a convenient route is to strap on explosives and become a human bomb. If an angry Israeli Jew wants vengeance, they often find their IDF uniform gives them latitude.

Speaking from my own experience, I note that it was Irish Republican terrorists who in the despairing decades following the genocide of the 1840s, introduced the first suicide bombers in the mid-Victorian Era in Ireland and Britain. They simply had no other weapons. The caricatures of the day portrayed "Irish Fenians" as bestial creatures, prone to violence and savage rage. Many said the Irish could not govern themselves, that as a people they were incapable of civilisation and of making peace and enacting civil relations with their neighbours.

It took a terrorist war of independence, the establishment of the Irish State, and nearly a century for that image of the indigent Irish to be largely supplanted by the stereotype of avuncular drunkards and a progressive, energetic neutral (non-NATO) Ireland. Such is progress.
posted by meehawl at 6:41 PM on April 13, 2004


What don't I get? You are saying these two things - training children for war and suicide and terror vs. producing army video games - are morally equal, are you not? Are you not saying that the morality of these actions are balanced by the disparity in social circumstances? It's as bad for our "rich, advanced state" to make video games about life in the army as it is for "economically disadvantaged stateless cultures" to teach their children to blow innocent people up and terrorize an entire nation. That is your point. The relative moral wrongness of these acts are equal, is what you're saying. Your position is disgraceful, as far as I'm concerned. Not that you would care. You concept of morality is a joke to me. You won't agree with what I think is shameful, but some palestinian children don't think blowing themselves up is wrong if they can take out a few Jews too.
posted by techgnollogic at 8:30 PM on April 13, 2004


You are saying these two things - training children for war and suicide and terror vs. producing army video games - are morally equal, are you not?

No, you are asserting this. I see a continuum or cluster of similar intentions and embodied behaviours, and patterns of action dictated more by situational constraints than by any essential cultural nature or persistent ethnic identity.

You(r) concept of morality is a joke to me.

I don't believe I have asserted that you should live your life in any particular fashion. Morality is what some people try to force on others in various versions and flavours. Ethics is personal, and more significant.
posted by meehawl at 10:32 PM on April 13, 2004


As for David Dark, I see a lot of sick indoctrination in those links, but no actual instances of children doing actual fighting. don't think you can say that there were kids firing weapons based on those links! I think you are just desperate, looking for an excuse... but there's no excuse, kids die in wars it's that simple.

Methinks the simple do oft escape you, me boy. I don't know how I could have made it simpler. If your pointer even touched those links, you should have seen that "children as young as 12 were organized into units and received military training and political indoctrination. Units of this force were deployed in the losing stages of Iraq's war with Iran between 1938 and 1985."

Deployed means put into action. That means fighting, hoss. Actual instances of children doing actual fighting. Kids firing weapons. I didn't make it up, chaz. Open your eyes.

I'm not desperate. Desperation is taking hostages and threatening to burn them alive if your demands aren't met. I'm not making excuses, either. Excuses is sending your son into the street with a rifle to kill your enemies and then blaming your enemies when you no longer have a son. When he shoots at them, are they supposed to ask for his ID and his date of birth?
posted by David Dark at 10:49 PM on April 13, 2004


You know, you posted that excerpt from Healing Iraq with the

He chuckled at us and said "Oh, you mean that". It turned out there was no siege at all, there was an American patrol in the vicinity of the university, and they had witnessed someone climbing on the clock tower trying to paste a large poster of Muqtada Al-Sadr.

The thrust of your post was evidently to show how things were being overblown by the Arab press and mentioned that there were only 518 Iraqi dead, according to what Zeyad heard and made noises about Much lower numbers than I've seen being tossed around here by the war on the war crowd.

But no one here tossed around any numbers.

Your cut-and-paste was a bit sloppy what with the supposedly low casualties plus the women and children shot in the head and I pointed out this was not a PR figure and you go off on this riff about child soldiers, which was totally out of left field and introduced a whole new topic not raised in your little comment.

Now Zeyad's comment wasn't that the Arab press was exaggerating casualties, he was just reporting what he had heard at the time. A doctor at a hospital said that there 518 dead. That was lower figure than what you claimed people here had posted--which was your point. That women and children shot in the head was not your point.

But on my pointing out that Zeyad wrote

He also announced that an important statement is to be issued tomorrow by Sistani on behalf of the Hawza alilmiyyah that would be to the effect of a warning to coalition forces if they ever tried to attack Najaf or arrest Al-Sadr. This in response to Gen. Sanchez' remarks that Al-Sadr would be arrested or killed and that American troops are moving to Najaf. If that is true, it would mean a full scale Jihad against Americans by Shia followers of Sistani in the event of any movement against Sadr. A telling sign that Sistani and his colleagues are losing patience.

--which was a much more serious and somber reflection, you remained silent.

The point of your comment seemed to be to our friend, the whole process didn't take any more than 20 minutes. Just to show how the Arab media conveniently distort events plus the casualties were lower tossed about here.

Except no one here ever tossed any numbers. Which was pointed out repeatedly. Ducked that one, you did.

But as it turns out, the US Army gave a higher number than yours, so what was the point except that you were treading water, grasping at straws? Things aren't so bad!

I link to him because I think I can believe him, not because he Supports My Postition(TM).

Well, how about what he said about Sistani's patience running out? You made a self-defeating--in the things aren't so bad sense with a sloppy cut-and-paste. My sticking a pin in your happy face balloon by pointing out the sloppy cut-and-paste was a side bar . You didn't post that comment up there to make a grand statement on child soldiers, you made it to make Zeyad look like he was saying things weren't so bad by taking the one little anecdote he wrote that seemed a little upbeat.

But that was followed by something not so upbeat:

If that is true, it would mean a full scale Jihad against Americans by Shia followers of Sistani in the event of any movement against Sadr.

My quote of Zeyad ruminating about a full scale Jihad following your selective quotations in that comment was my point--which was that you were quoting him to support your postition(TM).

I've been reading Zeyad for months, and he sounds like an extremely level-headed, intelligent man.

Well, if an extremely level-headed intelligent man writes about the possibility of a full scale jihad, isn't he worth taking seriously on that point?

Just askin'...
posted by y2karl at 12:45 AM on April 14, 2004


in the losing stages of Iraq's war with Iran between 1938 and 1985

There was no war between Iran and Iraq between these dates.

There was a war between 1980-1988, with a very active Reagan administration supplying arms to both sides of the conflict.

Perhaps the fact checkers in the article you linked to didn't have access to history books? Doesn't say much for their academic rigor.
posted by sic at 8:14 AM on April 14, 2004


oh and the war was a stalemate, neither side won or lost (not counting the human tragedy of the loss of around 1,000,000 lives).
posted by sic at 8:18 AM on April 14, 2004


yeah it is a bit unclear-- also, "members of this unit"... if they started when they were 13, by the time the war was in its final stages, they would have been 18 or 17, or even 15 which as you mentioned above is the minimum acceptable age around the world. Also, that was 15 years ago.

So I still think it's ludicrous to say that the dead kids in Falluja were holding weapons! There is no way to know that other than what the Marines say, and so far I haven't heard them say that, and wouldn't they, given the outcry over the deaths?

Again, I have to believe that you're grasping at straws... I'll say it again, innocent kids die in war. And you may not be aware of it, but one of the oldest tropes in the book when innocents die is to find reasons that they weren't so innocent. It's almost as old as the "they don't care as much about their children as we do" line.
posted by chaz at 9:58 AM on April 14, 2004


Chalabi: Iraqi uprisings predictable

Ahmed Chalabi, acting president of the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), said Monday that the uprisings in Iraq were predictable, and that real efforts must be made to address Shiite grievances.

"What is happening now is something we have spoken about and that we have predicted before the war," Chalabi, who also leads the Iraqi National Congress, told BBC radio from Baghdad.

"We warned the British government ... in May (last year) that an occupation was ill-advised, as Iraqi people understand liberation but reject occupation," he said.

posted by y2karl at 10:55 AM on April 14, 2004


This Vietnam generation of Americans has not learnt the lessons of history

What happened in Iraq last week so closely resembles the events of 1920 that only a historical ignoramus could be surprised. It began in May, just after the announcement that Iraq would henceforth be a League of Nations "mandate" under British trusteeship. (Nota bene, if you think a handover to the UN would solve everything.) Anti-British demonstrations began in Baghdad mosques, spread to the Shi'ite holy centre of Karbala, swept on through Rumaytha and Samawa - where British forces were besieged - and reached as far as Kirkuk.

Contrary to British expectations, Sunnis, Shi'ites and even Kurds acted together. Stories abounded of mutilated British bodies. By August the situation was so desperate that the British commander appealed to London for poison gas bombs or shells (though these turned out not to be available). By the time order had been restored in December - with a combination of aerial bombardment and punitive village-burning expeditions - British forces had sustained over 2,000 casualties and the financial cost of the operation was being denounced in Parliament. In the aftermath of the revolt, the British were forced to accelerate the transfer of power to a nominally independent Iraqi government, albeit one modelled on their own form of constitutional monarchy.

I am willing to bet that not one senior military commander in Iraq today knows the slightest thing about these events...

The high quality of political debate in the American universities suggests that the delusion of American "exceptionalism" may be waning. But for the time being US policy in Iraq is in the hands of a generation who have learnt nothing from history except how to repeat other people's mistakes.

posted by y2karl at 11:05 AM on April 14, 2004


Although poison gas armaments were unavailble when requested, they were later made available. In fact, one of the earliest missions of the RAF in the Middle East was to bomb ans strafe the UK's Arab protectorates into submission - actual troop deployment and positional warfare being deemed too expensive...

From "IRAQ: FROM SUMER TO SUDAN". London: St. Martins Press, 1994"
Churchill was in no doubt that gas could be profitably employed against the Kurds and Iraqis (as well as against other peoples in the Empire): "I do not understand this sqeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes [to] spread a lively terror"
...
Today in 1993 there are still Iraqis and Kurds who remember being bombed and machine-gunned by the RAF in the 1920s. A Kurd from the Korak mountains commented, seventy years after the event: "They were bombing here in the Kaniya Khoran...Sometimes they raided three times a day." Wing Commander Lewis, then of 30 Squadron (RAF), Iraq, recalls how quite often "one would get a signal that a certain Kurdish village would have to be bombed...", the RAF pilots being ordered to bomb any Kurd who looked hostile.
...
Similarly, Wing-Commander Gale, also of 30 Squadron: "If the Kurds hadn't learned by our example to behave themselves in a civilised way then we had to spank their bottoms. This was done by bombs and guns."

Wing-Commander Sir Arthur Harris (later Bomber Harris, head of wartime Bomber Command) was happy to emphasise that "The Arab and Kurd now know what real bombing means in casualties and damage. Within forty-five minutes a full-size village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured."
posted by meehawl at 2:09 PM on April 14, 2004




Slow news day, fellas?

karl, since you're obviously not paying attention to anything but yourself while you spew your ideologue all over the blue, I'll answer your questions. Again. I feel like President Bush last night at the press conference. Didn't I already answer that question?

You made three points directly after my reference to Zeyad's post. First, the fretting over Sistani's announced future announcement. I chose to ignore this because it's completely ignorable. Sistani is supposed to make an announcement today. Great, let's wait and see what he says. Where was the announcement, anyway? Where's the full-scale jihad you promised everyone? Because you know what I see? Sadr backed down. He's willing to stand trial. I'm supposed to waste my time engaging you in conversation about a crisis that is only occurring inside your head? No thanks. I'll pass.

Second, these numbers you're obsessed with.

Here's what I said, the first time you asked. "I've seen the number of injured as high as 1700, and the women and children numbers both over 200 each. Then there were the many comparisons of Falluja with Guernica , which was a slaughtering of at least 1700 people." Keep in mind, these are larger numbers posted on April 11. Zeyad's numbers are lower and posted two days later. Unless they were bringing people back to life, I think my assertion that something's amiss around here is justified. And let's not forget this, posted by you (on April 10, no less), where the thrust of your comment under the heading "Fallujah Bloodbath threatens US-Appointed Iraqi Government with Collapse" you chose to place in bold type the idea that the army was punishing all the people in the city indiscriminately. That number is 200,000. Is 200,000 a big number, karl? I think it is. So now can we stop with the numbers questions, please?

Third, you put in giant bold letters the quote from Zeyad about the dead women and children. To which I believe I adequately responded, and now you want to call a "sidebar" to your comment. Well, take a note for future reference. . . most people don't put sidebar throwaway points in BOLD. It tends to draw focus.

Your cut-and-paste was a bit sloppy what with the supposedly low casualties plus the women and children shot in the head and I pointed out this was not a PR figure and you go off on this riff about child soldiers, which was totally out of left field and introduced a whole new topic not raised in your little comment.... That women and children shot in the head was not your point.

Don't tell me my business, and don't tell me what point I'm trying to make. There were two points. One, the Arab media exaggerates things (duh). Two, the numbers in Fallujah are not catastrophic, are smaller than people were saying they were two days earlier, and that it appears that the children who were killed were not 'collateral damage' but were 'targeted'. I didn't bring the information about women and children here on accident. I brought the topic to the table, I found it conversation worthy, and I wanted to see what people would say about it before I threw in my opinion. The dead children started a conversation about why children were being shot through the head by Marines. That they were targeted implies that they were combatants, and that's why I supplied information regarding child soldiers. That's not out of left field, it was a subject that I brought up. Get it?
posted by David Dark at 2:22 PM on April 14, 2004


Hey sic, 1938 is obviously a typo. Try 1983. The light bulb should be popping on right . . . about . . . now.
posted by David Dark at 2:29 PM on April 14, 2004


Where's the full-scale jihad you promised everyone?

We've just had a fracas with the minor Sadr gang, sooner or later it'll be time for the Badr Boys.
posted by meehawl at 2:41 PM on April 14, 2004


"...The dead children started a conversation about why children were being shot through the head by Marines. That they were targeted implies that they were combatants"

Well no, it doesn't. They were shot through the head, and the rest is conjecture.
posted by troutfishing at 3:20 PM on April 14, 2004


Here's what I said, the first time you asked. "I've seen the number of injured as high as 1700, and the women and children numbers both over 200 each. "

Well, I stand corrected on the 1700 injured. As for the women and children at 200--it was a Reuters report. That's not exactly Al-Jazeerah there. And one person mentioned Guernica once. It was a rhetorical flourish. So where are the other many comparisons of Falluja to Guernica ?

And you complain about people exaggerating.

It's so hard to believe you added that sentence about women and children being shot in the head on purpose. You and GW have the same problem with never admitting a mistake.

I promised no one a full scale jihad, sorry. I'm glad we backed down. It was a confrontation we didn't need.

Juan Cole:

The Iranians also seem pleased to be drawn into a role in resolving the issue. I am frankly amazed that the US is willing to countenance this, and it seems a sign of real desperation on the part of the Bush administration to turn to the Axis of Evil for help. I am also amazed that Khamenei agreed to it on the Iranian side, and can only imagine that he thinks that it is a good thing to have the Americans owe him one so that he can continue to crush the reformists and reconsolidate conservative control of Iran. But once Iran is drawn into a formal role in Iraqi Shiite politics, the Bush administration should be aware that it will not be easy to push them back out. There is a story about the desert camel that is cold and its master lets it put its nose under the tent. But then it slides in its head, slowly slowy. Then its hump. And finally there is only a camel in the tent and the hapless owner has been pushed out into the cold night. We may be witnessing the insertion of the camel's nose.

You won't be finding any more ad agency arranged pictures of little Shia girls in black chadors waving little American flags on toothpicks online to inline link these days, David. There seems to be a dearth of them being posted on the net since major combat operations ended way back when.
posted by y2karl at 3:27 PM on April 14, 2004


I take it back--there were two references to Guernica as the historical act of war. insomnia_lj made one as rhetorical flourish. You made the other as a refutation of his rhetoric--and made a point.

The other two references were to the Picasso painting and a tapestry at the UN they had covered because they couldn't bring themselves to stand in front of it while they sold us a war they knew was premised on complete and utter bullshit--which was an apples and oranges trope by trondant with a correction by amberglow--on yours and insomina_lj's comments.

That is a little more than a little apples and oranges to count as many comparisons of Falluja to Guernica. The bombing is one thing, the image another. But you got excited. So it goes. The many comparisons still stand
at one. Not counting you.
posted by y2karl at 3:44 PM on April 14, 2004


U.S. urged to compromise with al-Sadr

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The United States knows it has to seek a compromise with Moqtada al-Sadr, given the Shi'ite cleric's strong support and the sanctity of the city he is in, Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi says.

Chalabi, a long-time ally of Washington, said U.S. forces massing round the holy city of Najaf would face the wrath of millions of Shi'ites worldwide if they entered the city to capture or kill Sadr.

"Najaf must not be touched. This is what we told the coalition. We must seek a peaceful solution. On the other hand we must enforce the law in Iraq," Chalabi told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday...

"The Sadr family has strong support," said Chalabi, adding that what is seen as the Moqtada political phenomenon was started by his father, Sayyed Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr.

"It is the movement of the dispossessed, the people who felt oppressed by Saddam, and their current state of mind is that they have not seen any change in the situation in Iraq to favour them. They have been excluded from the political process."


So, al-Sadr's got Chalabi making his case now. Shia-eesh! The head spins.
posted by y2karl at 4:46 PM on April 14, 2004


Militia chief signals end of uprising

The fiery radical at the heart of Iraq's Shia revolt sued for peace yesterday, buckling under the twin pressures of a massive build-up of American forces near his base and demands for moderation from the country's ayatollahs.
...
If an agreement is reached, an American-led assault on a city sacred to the Shia strand of Islam will have been averted and Washington may well claim a triumph for its unbending policy since the fighting began. A nationwide Shia revolt will have been avoided and Iraq will step back from the brink of collapse, at least for the present.

posted by techgnollogic at 8:38 PM on April 14, 2004


y2karl's hero
posted by David Dark at 9:58 AM on April 20, 2004


I think the point Moore was trying to make, with his customary tact, is that over the last century or so no occupying power (neither fascist, communist, democratic, or monarchist) has been able to resist a national independence movement. In that regard, the victory of a small group of North American terrorist revolutionaries over the ostensibly superior British Redcoats should be seen in context as a very early, very modern social revolution.
posted by meehawl at 10:59 AM on April 20, 2004


really....how so?
posted by clavdivs at 1:13 PM on April 20, 2004


Militia chief signals end of uprising

Cleric's Militia Upends Shiite Power Balance

Seeking to prevent a pitched battle with 2,500 American soldiers surrounding the city — where Mr. Sadr had cannily barricaded himself while leading his Shiite militia, the Mahdi Army, in an anti-American uprising — the venerable spiritual leaders found themselves in a position of having to plead with him to open talks with the Americans...

That upsetting of the Shiite hierarchy, accomplished through the barrel of a gun, has potentially grim consequences for the American ability to control Iraq, particularly if Mr. Sadr remains at large after the standoff. But even if he is somehow silenced, he has shown that in this volatile atmosphere, the voice of Shiite radicalism can trump that of moderation...

But by choosing to make his stand in Najaf, one of the holiest cities in Shiite Islam, Mr. Sadr has cast the war in the south as a struggle between the infidels and all Shiites.

Perhaps most boldly, he has challenged the authority and methods of more senior religious leaders, especially Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most respected cleric in Iraq.

The occupation authorities have regarded Ayatollah Sistani's moderate voice as crucial to helping them maintain control over Iraq, whose population is at least 60 percent Shiite.

Yet while he and the other grand ayatollahs of Najaf have decades of scholarship and peerless knowledge of Islamic law, they have nothing to counter the might of Mr. Sadr's private army. As a result they have had to refrain from openly denouncing Mr. Sadr, for fear of the Iraqi street turning against them and of a violent split in the Shiite ranks.


A nationwide Shia revolt will have been avoided and Iraq will step back from the brink of collapse, at least for the present.

Iraq will step back from the brink of collapse, at least for the present.

Maybe.
posted by y2karl at 7:00 PM on April 21, 2004


Cue suspense music.

Duh-Duh-DAAH!!
posted by David Dark at 9:31 PM on April 21, 2004


I've been visiting the BBC Arabic site in the last few days and I found a forum where people from many Arab countries –including Iraq- post their opinions about some hot topics, the main of those is Iraq and terrorism of course. I wasn't surprised to see that most Arabs (especially from Egypt, Palestine, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Syria) are forming one side of the debates while Iraqis and people from the rest of the gulf countries are taking the other side. But I was surprised when I found that the almost all the Iraqis who took part in the debates are on our side, maybe 95% of Iraqis expressed their rejection to the violent behavior of some Iraqis and condemned the terrorists attacks on both Iraqis and the coalition saying that the Arab world must stop supporting the terrorists and the thugs from inside Iraq. It's also surprising that many of those Iraqis live in areas that are recognized to have a public anti American attitude in general like A'adhamiya, Diyala and Najaf. I feel that those people are still afraid to voice their points of view in public in such hostile atmospheres but the internet is providing them freedom and safety to say whatever they believe in.
posted by David Dark at 9:31 AM on April 22, 2004


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