The Ongoing Iraqi Civil War To Date
December 14, 2005 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Civil war. Surely this is an adjectival misnomer of the first rank. Of all of the various types of war, civil war -- that is, a violent conflict waged between opposing sides within a society -- has generally been the least mannerly and the most savage... By just about every meaningful standard that can be applied -- the reference points of history, the research criteria of political science, the contemporaneous reporting of on-the-ground observers, the grim roll of civilian and combatant casualties -- Iraq is now well into the bloody sequence of civil war. Dispense with the tentative locution "on the verge of." An active, if not full-boil, civil war is already a reality.
Shattering Iraq
See also Iraq: see no evil, hear no evil
Iran gaining influence, power in Iraq through militia
Bush's Strategy, Iraq's New Army Challenged by Ethnic Militias
Outside View: Iraq's Grim Lessons   More Inside
posted by y2karl (93 comments total)

 
..."It would be too horrendous not just for Iraq, but for us if things fall apart. I don't want to sound alarmist, but these are our vital interests."

Terrill and his co-author, Conrad C. Crane, are Middle East specialists at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., a highly respected graduate school for the military's elite. They both write for and get information from some of the Army's top leaders, including commanders in Iraq...

"What many people don't understand is that voting is not a renunciation of violence," said Terrill. "It is just one way for the Sunnis to try and gain some power, but not the only way. The Sunnis will use all means to oppose the Shiites, and if that means violence they will use violence. "

According to Terrill, one of the most worrisome signs has been reports from the field that, despite the enormous efforts to train a capable Iraqi army, the motivation and allegiance of many of those forces remain highly uncertain.

"What has struck me is that there are still those intangibles," said Terrill. "We don't know enough about their soldiers, even now."...

"We're not trying to pick a fight with anybody," he said. "What was driving us in writing the report is that there are some real horror scenarios that we want to make sure don't play out. That's the most important thing for the American national interest at this point."
War experts advise strategy overhaul

In addition, see also

Cold Mountain

Safe for Theocracy

Ethnicity, Insurgency and Civil War
posted by y2karl at 10:15 AM on December 14, 2005


And to note the just passed milestone date:

Iraq: 1,000 days of war

A war and its fearsome consequences: How the world has changed post-Iraq

The war in numbers: From WMD to the victims
posted by y2karl at 10:15 AM on December 14, 2005


And let's not forget, we just turned yet another corner today what with elections in Iraq and the Middle East's "only representative democracy."
The flowers and candy will be delayed until tomorrow for the US troops.
posted by nofundy at 10:18 AM on December 14, 2005


I know about 5.3 million Israelis who would take issue with that.

I mean, sure the governemnt falls every damn month and the Prime Minister just left his party, but, um, what? Besides, Egypyt is a democracy in name only (dino, haha) and Jordan is a constitutional monarchy with an elected legislature.
posted by zpousman at 10:33 AM on December 14, 2005


Ignoring the Air War
Dahr Jamail, Tomdispatch.com. December 14, 2005.
Why is the media not reporting crucial information about U.S. bombing runs in heavily-inhabited parts of Iraq?

P.S.: Stay Safe
Sue Diaz, Christian Science Monitor. December 9, 2005.
I've puzzled at times over what newsy news to share with my son in Iraq, wondering under what circumstances he'd read the words I'd write.

Waging Peace, at Home and Abroad
Onnesha Roychoudhuri, AlterNet. December 9, 2005.
The abduction and threatened execution of four peace workers in Iraq is an extreme example of the war's human impact.

Ten Ways to Debate Iraq
Michael Schwartz, Tomdispatch.com. December 8, 2005.
Among those opposing the war, there are questions that haunt our discussions. Here are a few pointed answers.

Carrying the 'White Man's Burden' in Iraq
Joshua Holland, AlterNet. December 7, 2005.
One of the many rarely spoken reasons why conservatives in Washington won't let us leave Iraq is the old notion of civilizing a primitive nation.

Racing the Truth to War
Rick Gell, AlterNet. December 7, 2005.
On the third anniversay of its submission to the United Nations, the 12,000 page "Iraq Declaration" is central to how the Bush administration led the US to war in Iraq.

Howard Dean: Just Plain Right
Jan Frel, AlterNet. December 7, 2005.
The notion that we can't win is now a permanent part of the debate on Iraq thanks to Howard Dean's recent remarks.

Donald Rumsfeld Is Mad As a Hatter
Stephen Pizzo, News for Real. December 6, 2005.
We now have a certifiable loon in charge of the most powerful military on the face of the earth. Shouldn't someone do something?

Hell No, She Won't Go
Marisa Handler, AlterNet. December 5, 2005.
Katherine Jashinski is the first female soldier to refuse to participate in the Iraq war. Her refusal could change the face of the anti-war movement.

The War on Al Jazeera
Jeremy Scahill, The Nation. December 3, 2005.
What to do when the war you crafted starts getting bad press? According to a recently leaked memo, Bush would have liked to shoot the messenger -- literally.

The Mess We've Made in Iraq
Cenk Uygur, HuffingtonPost.com. December 2, 2005.
Our ambassador to Iraq is the first adminstration official to own up to the Pandora's box we opened in Iraq, but says now they have a plan to fix it.

The Path To Peace
Robert Dreyfuss, TomPaine.com. December 2, 2005.
The Cairo peace conference shows Iraq's factions are willing to do their part. Now it's time for the Bush administration to act.

Another Irrelevant Speech on Iraq
David Corn, DavidCorn.com. December 1, 2005.
George Bush's 'Strategy for Victory' speech will fade quickly. But his mess in Iraq will remain.

What Mission Have We Accomplished?
Paul Rieckhoff, AlterNet. December 1, 2005.
There are no good choices for the President to make in dealing with Iraq, only a few that are less bad. He should change course now, and salvage as much as he can.

U.S. Contractors Rampage in Iraq
Onnesha Roychoudhuri, AlterNet. November 30, 2005.
It looks like our hired guns may be up to no good, indiscriminately shooting Iraqi civilians. But will the U.S. government do anything in response? All signs point to 'no.'

Why the Murtha Gambit Will Backfire
J. Douglas Allen-Taylor, AlterNet. November 30, 2005.
Murtha's success in speaking out presumes that only someone who has fought in a war can speak out against war.

War Crimes Within War Crimes
George Monbiot, AlterNet. November 29, 2005.
Behind the revelations about white phosphorus is the larger reality that every step leading from the invasion of Iraq to the siege of Falluja was illegal.

An Army of None
Sarah Ferguson, Village Voice. November 28, 2005.
If the anti-recruitment activists win, we could be facing a draft soon -- and that's fine with them.

Did Bush Really Want to Bomb Al Jazeera?
Jeremy Scahill, TheNation.com. November 28, 2005.
Given the very public temper tantrum Bush directed at the Qatar-based television network, it may not be 'outlandish' to believe he intended to bomb Al Jazeera.

Can You Spell Withdrawal without O-I-L?
James Howard Kunstler, kunstler.com. November 24, 2005.
It would be nice if we could have a coherent public discussion about staying or going in Iraq, and you can't do that without talking about the oil of the Middle East.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 10:38 AM on December 14, 2005


"War upon rebellion is messy and slow, like eating soup with a knife."

T.E. Lawrence
Lawrence of Arabia
posted by Relay at 10:40 AM on December 14, 2005


You know, I think the great philosopher Axl Rose said it best, when he asked us, "What's so civil about war, anyway."

Truly, a man for the ages.

Please join me in raising a glass in salute to Mr. William Bailey, a truly delightful nan. No. No. He is brilliant. No, no, no, no. There is no word to describe his perfection, so I am forced to make one up. And I'm going to do so right now. Scrumtrilescent.
posted by keswick at 10:46 AM on December 14, 2005


zpousman writes "I know about 5.3 million Israelis who would take issue with that.

"I mean, sure the government falls every damn month and the Prime Minister just left his party, but, um, what? Besides, Egypt is a democracy in name only (dino, haha) and Jordan is a constitutional monarchy with an elected legislature."


And despite everything the American press tells you, Iran has had regular elections for the Executive and Legislative for quite a while. Obviously, Iran is not a democracy. They're a theocratic republic, but a constitutional one at that, with an elected head of government and an elected legislative branch (Majles-e-Shura-ye-Eslami, Islamic Consultative Assembly ). The Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-Khamenei is the chief of state, much like a much more powerful Queen of England (think Victoria).
posted by nkyad at 10:52 AM on December 14, 2005


TJH, thanks for the laugh.
posted by brain_drain at 11:04 AM on December 14, 2005


That kid's got a chip on his shoulder the size of the world.
posted by furtive at 11:18 AM on December 14, 2005


nkyad writes "And despite everything the American press tells you, Iran has had regular elections for the Executive and Legislative for quite a while. Obviously, Iran is not a democracy."

Not Arab.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:34 AM on December 14, 2005


Sorry; I should clarify. The President did not refer to Iraq as the Middle East's only representative democracy, he referred to it as the only representative democracy "in the Arab world". There's a difference.

Clearly, Israel is a Western-style representative democracy in the Middle East. Turkey might be too, if you consider it to be in the Middle East.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:36 AM on December 14, 2005


Why is he still president?
Angry
posted by PHINC at 11:42 AM on December 14, 2005


Kerry had a plan, God had a better plan and while they're trying to figure out a middle ground, the Devil managed to get Bush elected.
posted by nkyad at 11:58 AM on December 14, 2005


While Iraqis are trying to work together to perform a historic vote and build themselves a representative government to govern them in the next 4 years, it is really nice to see 31 links posted, all of them negative regarding the future of Iraq.

If I was more cynical, I'd accuse the poster of trying to downplay the importance and significance of this election by posting all of these links now. How do you post this much negativity without any indication of support or hopeful wishes as Iraq tries to pursue this grand experiment in democracy when that is the immediate and obvious issue there?
posted by dios at 11:58 AM on December 14, 2005


I would also note that this why the popular image exists that Democrats/liberals want the whole thing to fail and for the US to lose.

What else can explain such negativity in an important moment?
posted by dios at 12:00 PM on December 14, 2005


Realism?

A distorted perspective makes for bad policy. US policy in Iraq has demonstrated this point clearly.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:02 PM on December 14, 2005


We've had this conversation before, dios. Don't ask ridiculous rhetorical questions while playing the part of altruistic innocence.

What's that you say?

If you were more cynical, you'd accuse the poster of something? Don't be so damn duplicitous, you have accused him of worse and you do so while feigning innocence here.

Do you honestly think Y2Karl "wants the whole thing to fail and the US to lose"? He's much more intelligent than that, and has the capacity to realize it was a gigantic humanitarian failure well before it even began. Frankly, your glib posturing is much more disgusting than any form of dissent you may see as a threat to our image.
posted by prostyle at 12:08 PM on December 14, 2005


Realism?

How is is the perspective here not itself distorted when it exists in an entirely negative view of the situation without any emphasis or indication that something might come out of it. An entirely negative view that ignores the election and potential of the result not a realist view; its a pessimistic view and distorted itself.
posted by dios at 12:09 PM on December 14, 2005


Realism?

So there is no hope, none whatsoever of anything positive coming out of this entire situation?

That's pretty fatalistic.
posted by fet at 12:09 PM on December 14, 2005


Do you honestly think Y2Karl "wants the whole thing to fail and the US to lose"?

Absolutely, 100%, yes.
posted by dios at 12:09 PM on December 14, 2005


The U.S. and its allies have already lost, so this argument is a moot point.
posted by gsb at 12:12 PM on December 14, 2005


While Iraqis are trying to work together to perform a historic vote and build themselves a representative government to govern them in the next 4 years, it is really nice to see 31 links posted, all of them negative regarding the future of Iraq.

Fair comment. If you can find some commentary that regards the Iraqi elections in a more positive light, feel free to post it to this thread. But I would warn against dismissing commentary simply because it makes it sound as though things are bad. Maybe they actually are pretty bad.

Here's what The Economist has to say.

Mark Danner on the January election.

My favorite voter that morning was the former minister, Dr. Ahmed Dujaily--an elegant eighty-year-old engineer wearing a traditional sidari on his head and a beautifully tailored blue pin-striped suit--who had served as minister of agricultural reform in 1966 and 1967 ("the last brief time of good government") and offered, after we complimented him on his suit ("Ah yes"--smiling, gazing down at himself --"I wear this for weddings, parties... elections also"), in an English bespeaking a fine English education, what I took to be the most enlightening dialogue of the day:

So, we began, for whom had he voted?

"In fact, I voted for List 169..." -- the so-called Sistani List.

That is the Shiite List? You are Shiite?

"Yes, I am Shiite but I am Iraqi before anything. Religion is for myself. This election is for Iraq."

And why are you voting?

"I feel I must give service to my country and I voted for these people, Abd al-Hakim and Jaafari, because I trust them...."

And how do you feel about Saddam? a colleague put in.

"Well...of course, I am happy the Saddam regime is abolished. He is not human, he is an animal...."

Who abolished it?

"Who? Why, he did."

Well (trying another tack, and gesturing upward, at the buzzing Blackhawks), those helicopters, who are they?

"They are the Americans."

Yes, and are they good or bad?

"Good or bad?" A puzzled pause. "Not good or bad. They are the Americans."

No, no, what I wanted to ask...

He knew, of course, what we wanted to ask. He smiled and tried to be helpful. "Listen, we thank Americans for destroying the regime of Saddam but they did many things that were not required of the country. They made many, many mistakes here. I know what the Americans want." He smiled; he was matter-of-fact. "They want military bases. They want to dominate the new regime. They want the oil."

"Saddam was a criminal, a lot of people were killed. Now these others" -- he gestured in the vague direction of the most recent explosion; he meant the insurgents -- "they are bombing one place, another place. This doesn't help, this does nothing for the country." Then, a bit of history -- from the 1920s but clearly relevant to him today: "When the British kicked out the Turks, the Shia, you know, fought the British also. But the Sunnis stuck with the British, and the British took those who stuck with them and formed a government."

Now, clearly, it was the Sunnis who were fighting, and the Shiites who were "sticking with" the occupying power, this time the Americans. "But the elections should be carried forward, whether the Americans like the results or not," he said. "This is determined by the people. We want an independent country." As for the Americans, "when they came people were happy but they made many, many mistakes in the occupation. After all these mistakes, now they will not leave. They will have their military headquarters established in Iraq and when they leave I do not know. The bases, the oil... And of course" -- he gestured at the voters, grinned, and, with a philosophical roll of his eyes, said -- "they are using Iraq for propaganda for their own elections: ‘Democracy and the Republicans.'"

posted by russilwvong at 12:15 PM on December 14, 2005


dios writes "How do you post this much negativity without any indication of support or hopeful wishes as Iraq tries to pursue this grand experiment in democracy when that is the immediate and obvious issue there?"

Oh; and I would argue that the immediate and obvious issue in Iraq is security. Security, security, security! The ongoing level of violence makes any "experiment in democracy" futile, since sectarian violence drives voters to act in a sectarian manner. It's a positive feedback loop, encouraging the disintegration of the country, and contributing to the growing civil war.

Having an election in this kind of environment is a massive strategic mistake. It's driven entirely by domestic political considerations in the US; by President Bush's desire to declare victory and get the hell out.

Iraq needs security more than it need democracy.

As empirical evidence of my point of view, I will remind you that this is Iraq's third "grand experiment in democracy": the third "watershed" election. The previous two did nothing to quell the violence. To believe that the third time is the charm--that this one election will be the one that changes the situation on the ground--stinks of wishful thinking.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:15 PM on December 14, 2005


I'd also add that y2karl's sources are serious commentators (National Journal, Knight Ridder, Anthony Cordesmann). They're hardly anti-American leftists.

The sources posted by "The Jesse Helms" appear to be much more lefty.
posted by russilwvong at 12:22 PM on December 14, 2005


If you can find some commentary that regards the Iraqi elections in a more positive light, feel free to post it to this thread.

I second this. Unless you come to the conversation with some links supporting your position, Dios, I'd thank you to STFU about the material already presented.
posted by Chrischris at 12:24 PM on December 14, 2005


I would also note that this why the popular image exists that Democrats/liberals want the whole thing to fail and for the US to lose.

That image exists because the opposition works very hard to paint said image. Marginalizing your opposition by claiming their dissent indicates a betrayal or hate is not new to the current administration or unique to the current crop of Repubs. But buying into it is lazy thinking, just as categorizing someone as 'evil' is.
posted by phearlez at 12:26 PM on December 14, 2005


I'd thank you to STFU--

Not to derail, but I'm honestly interested in what dios has to say, and it's all too easy to pile on and make him feel like he's being shouted down (yet again). So maybe we should give him some space to respond.
posted by russilwvong at 12:27 PM on December 14, 2005


The upcoming elections are mostly stage dressing.

I like the fact that the Iraqis are working under the system, but it's ridiculous to believe that the system, a self-driving engine of democracy that will endure, will work in Iraq. Things are done differently there than they are here; elections are just one step.

If the pro-shiite party (555?) wins, look for the Sunnis (who now know they will have pretty much zero representation) to turn to the insurgency as their last avenue of power.

Cheers

ps. The whole argument about 'Liberals want us to lose the war' is ridiculous. We don't think the war was a good idea in the first place and many of us have been saying so since T-100 of invasion.

Imagine you are riding along with a buddy who is going really fast on a precarious cliff. Would you try and get him to slow down? Change course? What if he said 'your constant nagging about the situation is harming my ability to drive.' Would you just shut up? I don't think so; and neither will we.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 12:33 PM on December 14, 2005


And on Bush's rhetoric re: the democratization of Iraq... Has anybody else noticed that his favorite comparative historical example is post-WWII Japan? Has it struck anybody else how completely inappropriate this example is? Japan had been utterly defeated in a total war; it's head of state had been left in place, and he was cooperating with the Americans; and it's a ethnically and religiously homogenous country, with none of the sectarian issues facing Iraq.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:38 PM on December 14, 2005


There is no positive news out there?

How about this front page news.

Tough security and an informal rebel truce stifled all but sporadic violence in Iraq on Wednesday

"There is a quiet confidence that things are going to go well," the U.N. envoy to Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, told Reuters.

Many in the 20-percent Sunni Arab minority, dominant until U.S. troops ousted Saddam Hussein, seem determined to vote to ensure a say in a new fully-empowered, four-year parliament.

"We won't miss this opportunity," said Ibrahim Ismail, a 30-year-old laborer in the violent northern city of Mosul, saying he would vote for one of the main Sunni Arab slates in 231 lists available to Iraq's 15 million eligible voters
.

I got that off the front page news; I didn't dig anywhere for it. There at least exists some hope this will all work out. But we don't get that from this post. Instead we get nothing but fatalism.
posted by dios at 12:38 PM on December 14, 2005


And, of course, everyone is voting according to their sectarian identity. That's exactly the critical problem!
posted by mr_roboto at 12:41 PM on December 14, 2005


How about this front page news.

Thanks dios.
posted by russilwvong at 12:42 PM on December 14, 2005


Imagine you are riding along with a buddy who is going really fast on a precarious cliff.

This is, the infamous, "begging the question."

If you assume your conclusion, that it is in fact a cliff, then your thought process is correct. The question is why do you assume it be a cliff? In fact, you do not allow for the possibility that it is not; you deny the possibility that there is a bridge to a happier side. It is an entirely pessimistic and negative view that renders merits unto the question of why one desires to view the situation as fatalistic.
posted by dios at 12:42 PM on December 14, 2005


dios writes "I would also note that this why the popular image exists that Democrats/liberals want the whole thing to fail and for the US to lose."

I require this hat, if I may. I sincerely hope the Americans lose, and lose badly, hopefully as badly and as shamefully as they lost in Vietnam. That is the only possible result that can lead to a fairer world, a world where the most powerful country does not automatically fells entitled (by God? by Fate?) to invade any country they want for whatever reasons they fabricate for the occasion.

Saddam? A butcher, a psychopath turned dictator and possibly a genocide. But even that does not entitle any other country to invade Iraq and start using it as a colony. No more than Bush's stealing his first election entitled the UN to invade the US in order to restore democracy. There were plenty of other ways to help Iraq, ways that did not involve killing civilians and destroying lifes and properties. Naturally, those ways did not translate into military bases and perpetual control of Iraq oil, so...
posted by nkyad at 12:43 PM on December 14, 2005


And, of course, everyone is voting according to their sectarian identity. That's exactly the critical problem!
posted by mr_roboto at 2:41 PM CST on December 14


As opposed to the United States? Southerners vote for Southerners. Christians vote for Christians. Muslims vote for Muslim friendly candidates.
posted by dios at 12:43 PM on December 14, 2005


russil, that post from the Iraqi had the most enlightenment per word that I've ever seen on Iraq. It covered 100 years of history, and the last 3 years precisely.

It aligned 100% with my opinions and knowledge of Iraq and the historicity of imperialism/muscular diplomacy, where transnational commercial interests, military power, and civil government are so interwoven that backing out of the investment is simply impossible until the costs rise too much.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:47 PM on December 14, 2005


The fate of a democratic Iraq desperately hinges on the links posted in a MeFi thread. Focus people, focus.
posted by ryoshu at 12:48 PM on December 14, 2005


I sincerely hope the Americans lose, and lose badly, hopefully as badly and as shamefully as they lost in Vietnam.

Not me. I don't want to see Iraq turn into another base for jihad. I fear the Americans will fail.

That is the only possible result that can lead to a fairer world, a world where the most powerful country does not automatically feel entitled (by God? by Fate?) to invade any country they want for whatever reasons they fabricate for the occasion.

Voting out Bush in 2004 would have been a better way to do this.
posted by russilwvong at 12:50 PM on December 14, 2005


dios writes "In fact, you do not allow for the possibility that it is not; you deny the possibility that there is a bridge to a happier side. It is an entirely pessimistic and negative view that renders merits unto the question of why one desires to view the situation as fatalistic."

C'mon, now. This isn't just pessimism for pessimism's sake. There's some real political analysis going on in these commentaries, and in the comments on site here.

Comments like yours, dios, are why people perceive Republicans as unthinking followers, wearing blinders, unable to critically analyze the world. It's not a matter of "optimism or pessimism"; this is a real situation, in the real world, and we should be able to apply our critical thinking faculties to analyze it.

dios writes "As opposed to the United States? Southerners vote for Southerners. Christians vote for Christians. Muslims vote for Muslim friendly candidates."

Nice rhetorical evasion on that last sentence.

Two points. First: this isn't true. Tens of millions of Christians voted for Joe Lieberman, a Jew, in the 2000 presidential election. This has been the only opportunity in a national election to vote for a non-Christian, I think. Tens of millions of Northerners voted for Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter, all Southerners. Tens of millions of Southerners voted for Ronald Reagan, a Northern-born Californian.

Second: some "sectarian" allegiance is tolerable, since we are neither on the brink nor in the midst of a sectarian civil war. I'll remind you, however, the our last civil war did follow in the direct wake of a democratic election.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:53 PM on December 14, 2005


If you assume your conclusion, that it is in fact a cliff, then your thought process is correct. The question is why do you assume it be a cliff? In fact, you do not allow for the possibility that it is not; you deny the possibility that there is a bridge to a happier side. It is an entirely pessimistic and negative view that renders merits unto the question of why one desires to view the situation as fatalistic.

When you don't see a bridge, it's stupid to believe that one is there.

It leads to a lot of Wiley Coyote moments; right before the drop, that is.

What exactly do you see happening, Dios? A democracy being formed, and then all the Iraqis settle down and start arguing about taxes and abortion? Given the levels of corruption already seen to be present, and given the inequity of the shia/sunni situation, and given the american presence is an irritant, only a fool would assume that things are going to get better any time soon.

Your overly rosy view of the situation robs you of credibility. But don't take my word for it; read the entirety of any thread about Iraq you've ever posted in, realize that 95% of posters disagree with you, and try and tell yourself that they are all wacky liberal nutjobs and only you are sane. If you can.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 12:54 PM on December 14, 2005


Southerners vote for Southerners. Christians vote for Christians. Muslims vote for Muslim friendly candidates.

oversimplification. Kerry got ~30% of the white vote in the south. Really voting for Kerry is inversely proportional to the depth of Baptist/evangelical penetration in a region, since the evangelicals were Bush's strongest deme, at ~80% support.

It is something more of a Christian thing, though. Last week I got taken to a southern california church service that featured a wallbuilders.org speaker for the "sermon". Quite enlightening demonstration on exactly how the Religious Right indoctrinates the footsoldiers in the fight for Christian Reconstructionism.

As Madison said:
Having always regarded the practical distinction between Religion and Civil Government as essential to the purity of both, and as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, I could not have otherwise discharged my duty on the occasion which presented itself (Letter to Baptist Churches in North Carolina, June 3, 1811).
Mixing religion and politics is indeed undemocratic, and unfortunate.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:57 PM on December 14, 2005



From the above linked Making The World Sfae For Theocracy:
The ever over-confident Bush administration, controlling the levers of authority in the globe's only hyperpower, has never really bothered to understand important characteristics of nations it invades. In its lust for the rhetoric of "spreading democracy," the administration has failed to notice that the term means something different in countries with little democratic experience, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, than it does in the United States. In Iraq, as in Afghanistan, voters cast their ballots as prominent leaders desire. In Afghan elections, people voted as their tribal leaders or warlords directed. In Iraq, most of the majority Shi'a population (60 percent of Iraqis) will reliably vote the way al-Sistani wants. In contrast, American voters-even fundamentalist Christian ones-don't usually vote solely on the basis of their religious leader's political wishes (if they are expressed at all).

The Shi'ite religious parties in Iraq, which will most likely be victorious, are heavily influenced and funded by the oppressive theocratic government in Iran. One of the most prominent of those parties, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, originally consisted of Iraqi defectors, exiles and refugees who spent two decades in Iran during Saddam Hussein's rule and fought on the Iranian side in the Iran-Iraq War during the 1980s. The party's militia, the ruthless Badr organization, has been accused of assassinations and other violence against Sunnis and secular Shi'a. According to foreign policy analyst Gareth Porter, the Dawa party, another Shi'ite group, is organized on the basis of Leninist methods. Shi'ite militias have infiltrated Iraq's security forces and Interior Ministry, which has recently been implicated in the torture of Sunnis in two prisons.

In short, the now desperate Bush administration's attempt to achieve "victory in Iraq" and pledge to take the Iraqi democratic experiment on the road to other autocratic Arab countries really amount to letting U.S. soldiers die to make the world safe for theocracy. In fact, such future theocracies in Iraq and elsewhere would likely be very unfriendly to the United States and might even sponsor terrorist attacks against U.S. targets.

Of course, the "victory" of installing a Shi'ite theocracy in Iraq is predicated on the low probability of the United States defeating the Sunni insurgency and avoiding a civil war, which is already beginning. That internecine war will likely be intensified by the new Iraqi constitution, which barely escaped a Sunni veto in the referendum on October 15.
Getting Out of Iraq
posted by y2karl at 1:00 PM on December 14, 2005


Oops, that last link was put in by mistake. Thought I scrubbed it.
posted by y2karl at 1:02 PM on December 14, 2005


Dios, I understand where your coming from... some people have an axe to grind. But this war is an important historical event, more so than than the Vietnam war ever was - there are more long term implications.

We started this thing so badly. With such hubris, blind ideology, and carelessness in the political arena (then in the military arena) that it is natural that the rest of the world feel threatened by us. I would too.

I do wish that our European friends would cop to the facts of ALSO having a competing strategic interest and violent interventionist history in the region and quit acting like moral scolds. But WE could have learned from their mistakes. And we didn't.

Now Bush is finally starting to realize the depths of his problem, but because of his domestic political vulnerabilities, will not do what is needed to make this thing a true "success". He won't even define what he means by success.

To say that we CAN win this war without defining what winning really means is the problem. Democracy in Iraq? That's winning? First: Elections are not democracy. Saddam had elections. Second: The nascent Iraqi democracy just might vote in a repressive Islamic republic essentially merging with Iran.

No. This thing has way to much potential for bad. I don't think people can be cynical enough about it.
posted by tkchrist at 1:05 PM on December 14, 2005


Imagine you are riding along with a buddy who is going really fast on a precarious cliff.
posted by homunculus at 1:06 PM on December 14, 2005


Wow, I hadn't seen that Homunculus. So much for my pretensions of originality.

Cheers
posted by Cycloptichorn at 1:08 PM on December 14, 2005


However, from Getting Out Of Iraq, this is worth quoting:
Finally, those who accuse the antiwar movement of wanting to "cut and run" and pretend that they care more for the interests of the Iraqis -- whereas most of them are actually worried about U.S. imperial interests -- would be better advised to demand that the U.S. respect Iraqi sovereignty over Iraqi natural resources and reconstruction. For our part, we believe that there is a moral obligation for the U.S. government to pay reparations to the Iraqi people for all that they have suffered as a consequence of U.S. criminal policies -- from the deliberate destruction of Iraq's infrastructure in the 1991 war to the devastation brought by the present invasion and occupation, through the green light given to the Ba'athist regime to crush the mass insurrections of March 1991 and, above all, the murderous embargo inflicted on the Iraqi population from 1991 to 2003.
Upon review: Hopeful wishes aside, the forthcoming elections are no grand experiment in democracy. Everything this adminstration has done in Iraq has been ad hoc, improvised and unplanned with the possible unintended consequences never considered.

And where there are elections in Arab countries, the fundamentalists win them--the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas in Palestine. In Algeria, remember, they won outright and the result was a military coup and a bloody civil war. There are, too, such things as failed democracies--Pakistan is one. There is, however, no such thing as a just add water democracy taking instant root overnight in the midst of a civil war --except for the daydream believers.
“I think the debacle in Iraq is the real horrific thing that’s coming down the road. Al-Qaeda is now al-Qaedaism and has really taken hold in other parts of the world. The media, especially American media, is really bore-sighted on Iraq. But if you look at Thailand and the Philippines, the Northern Caucuses, northern Nigeria, militant Islam is really gaining traction. These will be problem areas in the not too distant future.

“I also think that the rather sophomoric argument about setting a deadline for the U.S. to pull out of Iraq only makes the enemy strong. I don’t think either party is serious about this. There will be a pull out just in time for the 2006 elections. …

“We still behave as if this were still the terrorism of the Eighties. The terrorism of that era was a lethal nuisance, but it was never a national security threat. The problem, for the U.S. at least is that the possibility of a large attack is a reality and the possibility of another attack is on the horizon.

“What’s going to happen in the United States is that there’s going to be a much larger attack than 9/11 or there will be a kind of nuclear attack with a weapon acquired from the former Soviet Union. The surest sign that neither party in the country takes the possibility of an attack seriously is that we have done nothing to help Russia secure its nuclear weapons.

“I think Iraq is going to be central to the threat for the next decade or more. And, I think we have probably signed the death warrant for Jordan. I think the two attacks we have seen there are just the start of what’s going to happen…
Michael Scheuer
posted by y2karl at 1:37 PM on December 14, 2005


Ha Ha! Great link, homunculus!

Dios, you're straight out of the cartoon!!
posted by BobFrapples at 2:05 PM on December 14, 2005


With rare exceptions, that policy of "democratic nation-building" has been unsuccessful in the past; it is unsuccessful today and is almost surely certain to be equally unproductive in the foreseeable future.

Viable democracies require the conjunction of very special material and social "enabling conditions" such as an adequate level of economic development, the absence of religious conflict, functioning government institutions and adequate levels of education, among others...

Let us take a look at the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of the price paid to date by the U.S. -- not only in terms of lives and dollars but in other consequences, such as the deterioration of relations with many of our previous allies, the task of almost single-handedly restoring civil order in a nation reduced to near anarchy, and the bitter divisiveness of that issue here at home.

Consider the price paid by the peoples of the occupied countries -- death and destruction aside, the swift defeat and collapse of the previous regime in Iraq, whatever its horrendous defects, unleashed, possibly even sharpened, long-standing religious rivalries.

These age-old animosities, now refreshed, lessen the prospects of establishing a stable government, let alone anything resembling a democracy. While recent elections in both Afghanistan and Iraq are encouraging, elections by themselves do not ensure the development of stable, functioning democracies...

Let us turn our attention and our resources to resolving the political, social and economic problems that are threatening to undermine our democracy here at home. The way we have gone about nation building has become a bitterly divisive issue, with the contestants angrily questioning not only their opponents' character, judgment and honesty but also their very patriotism. Few things are as potentially dangerous to a democracy as that type of virulent partisanship.
From an article by Steven A. Peterson and Albert Somit, the co-authors of The Failure of Democratic Nation Building: Ideology Meets Evolution
posted by y2karl at 2:45 PM on December 14, 2005


It's Iran, stupid.

Seriously, can anyone imagine a scenario in which the US could have possibly empowered Iran to such an extent? I don't think loading C-130's with guns, ammo, and nerve gas, along with a few tons of gold bullion, could have made the prospects of Middle East peace less possible in the next 50 years. The US has basically doubled the potential economic and cultural/religious clout of the mullahs, and made damn sure that a nascent pro-democracy movement will now drown due to US-like "security measures."

Pathetic. Americans who support this disaster need to sign up and go fight it or tithe extra income to the IRS.
posted by bardic at 3:03 PM on December 14, 2005


ways that did not involve killing civilians and destroying life

Because none of that was going on prior to the US led invasion.

Should coulda woulda..... What's done is done. All the hindsight in the world is not going to change it. It's time to focus on the present and soon to be present.

How do you prop up an Iraqi democracy? Probably the same way Israel is propped up. Send them a few billion a year and let them pretend they are governing themselves.

Should have nuked it from orbit, just to be safe.
posted by a3matrix at 3:04 PM on December 14, 2005


*nascent Iranian pro-democracy movement*, the one in Iraq is, frankly, absurd--Democracy feeds off of economic and civil security. Iraq has none now.
posted by bardic at 3:06 PM on December 14, 2005


Few billion a year? Try per week.
posted by bardic at 3:07 PM on December 14, 2005


How do you prop up an Iraqi democracy? Probably the same way Israel is propped up.

You'd really want to let Iraqi spies steal our nuclear technology? I don't know if that is such a good idea...
posted by solipse at 3:19 PM on December 14, 2005


if you don't like bad news, then the best thing for you to do would be to stop following politics and current events (at least until bush is out of office) and start getting involved with children's broadcasting.
posted by mcsweetie at 3:29 PM on December 14, 2005


It has nothing to do with disliking bad news. It is the deadening drone and grinding on the bad news intentionally on a day that should be filled with some modicum of optimism.

The possibility that today might be a good day in the world of Iraqis is completely discredited to the point it is not even mentioned and considered an impossibility.

One making a point about the future of Iraq on this day of all days has to willfully ignore the biggest thing going on today in order to preach fatalism.

I think one ought to consider the motivations of people who post such negativity in the face of what could be a historic day.
posted by dios at 3:39 PM on December 14, 2005


dios, do you value your right to vote over your life?

I'm sure many Iraqi's do, unlike most Americans, but you've gone well into Pollyanna territory if you think a vote = democracy. Would you be satisfied if a Parliament was elected, and then a large percentage of it was assasinated?

Unlike the Founding Fathers, you lack a basic pragmatic sense of what a functioning democracy both means and demands. Another hint: the emerging Shiite theocracy ain't going to be Jesus and Apple Pie, I assure you. And they certainly aren't going to greet people like you with flowers (nor me, but I'm not simple enough to think they wanted me over there in the first place to "democratize" them).
posted by bardic at 3:49 PM on December 14, 2005


bardic writes "Seriously, can anyone imagine a scenario in which the US could have possibly empowered Iran to such an extent? I don't think loading C-130's with guns, ammo, and nerve gas...."

That was the Reagan Administration, right?

dios writes "One making a point about the future of Iraq on this day of all days has to willfully ignore the biggest thing going on today in order to preach fatalism.

"I think one ought to consider the motivations of people who post such negativity in the face of what could be a historic day."


Again, you ignore the well-reasoned argument that an election at this point in time is a bad thing for Iraq.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:53 PM on December 14, 2005


I think we have got the picture now, thanks to your relentless barrage of posts, y2k.
To me this is a good example of one of the more pathetic aspects of Mefi, preaching to the converted. Sounds like bar-room talk to me, and as impotent.
What exactly does it achieve?
Honest question.
posted by Joeforking at 4:00 PM on December 14, 2005


You're right Joeforking. Reading stuff is bad. It turns you gay and insurgent.
posted by bardic at 4:17 PM on December 14, 2005


Joeforking, why participate at all? If it's all such a waste of time, why are you here?
posted by wilful at 4:30 PM on December 14, 2005


The Pentagon is in the early stages of drafting a wartime request for up to $100 billion more for Iraq and Afghanistan, lawmakers say, a figure that would push spending related to the wars toward a staggering half-trillion dollars.

Reps. Bill Young, R-Fla., the chairman of the House appropriations defense panel, and John Murtha, D-Pa., the senior Democrat on that subcommittee, say the military has informally told them it wants $80 billion to $100 billion in a war-spending package that the White House is expected to send Congress next year.

Asked about the upcoming spending package, Young offered the $80 billion to $100 billion range. "That's what I'm told," he said.

Murtha mentioned the $100 billion figure last week to reporters, saying "Twenty years it's going to take to settle this thing. The American people are not going to put up with it, can't afford it."
Pentagon to Seek $100 Billion More for War Costs
posted by y2karl at 4:34 PM on December 14, 2005


If I was more cynical, I'd accuse the poster of trying to downplay the importance and significance of this election by posting all of these links now.
posted by dios at 8:58 PM CET on December 14 [!]


Do you honestly think Y2Karl "wants the whole thing to fail and the US to lose"?

Absolutely, 100%, yes.
posted by dios at 9:09 PM CET on December 14 [!]


hey! it took just 11 minutes to admit it!
so passive-aggressive, dios (unless you throw one of your Tourettian tantrums, but even you have managed to figure out that, whenever you do, you risk to get banned for hurling homophobic abuse, like it happened already).

anyway, you're being disingenious, again: your vicepresident said it last year -- liberals want America to get attacked again, Cheney said. and he'd never lie, right? so the matter's settled. let's talk about you -- why do you want American soldier to keep dying and getting mutilated in Iraq? why do you keep cheering for the carnage? just because you're safe at home, and it won't be you to get blown up?
posted by matteo at 4:37 PM on December 14, 2005


It has nothing to do with disliking bad news. It is the deadening drone and grinding on the bad news intentionally on a day that should be filled with some modicum of optimism.

I see. have you tried complaining about it a bunch of times?
posted by mcsweetie at 4:52 PM on December 14, 2005


dios, this fifth-column wheeze is ancient, weak and deeply offensive. Saying "you want us to fail" is a rhetorical escape hatch, a weakling's substitute for a retort, and one that has no bearing on the facts as presented.

First of all, if your infantile rejoinder were true and y2karl actually did want us to fail, wouldn't he be acting against his own interests then by posting these stories? The quote attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte, "never interrupt your enemy when he's making a mistake" surely applies here. Wouldn't he egg on failure if that's what he wanted to occur? Wouldn't he be cheering and waving a flag and snickering up his sleeve?

America's enemies aren't the ones sounding the alarm. They're standing amongst the patriots, looking exactly like one of them, and waving their flag with unmatched enthusiasm, just as they always have.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:59 PM on December 14, 2005


Oh, and secondly, how is it that someone in your line of work can come up with no better response than argumentum ad hominem when confronted with these stories? It is perhaps because you cannot address them directly so you resort to jury manipulation tricks? "Never mind the facts, my client is innocent because I can hypothesize an ulterior motive by the accuser."
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:04 PM on December 14, 2005


dios: I think one ought to consider the motivations of people who post such negativity in the face of what could be a historic day.


posted by cytherea at 5:10 PM on December 14, 2005


I'm glad the Iraqis get to vote today.

But is there any informed commentary that suggests Iraq will be a stable democracy in 5 years? I'm yet to see anything by a credible independent analyst that makes that claim.
posted by wilful at 5:28 PM on December 14, 2005


dios: I think one ought to consider the motivations of people who post such negativity in the face of what could be a historic day.





(#%$@ server.)
posted by cytherea at 5:35 PM on December 14, 2005


There's no way in hell that dios is a lawyer in real life, everyone. It's a lawyer's job to argue convincingly. Let's all stop buying his bullshit "I'm a lawyer" story.

Jesus.
posted by interrobang at 5:39 PM on December 14, 2005


The two propose that the United States be willing to place stability above democracy, at least in the near term, and to swallow the "bitter pill" of supporting an authoritarian regime in Iraq backed by sectarian militias if that is the best means of suppressing the insurgency and bringing U.S. troops home.

From one of y2karl's links. I don't know about any of you, but I don't really like that particular pill.
The mess we are in is not because we invaded Iraq. It's because there was a unilateral decision to act without gaining broad non-partisan support. So national policy was based on emotion rather than honest debate.. And now we are to the point that people have solidified their positions to such an extent that no fact will change their mind. The differences seem unbreechable. The amazing thing to me is that there is no congressional debate to determine exactly what we should be doing. The Bush Administration was 3 years late, but they have finally put out a strategy. There should be serious debate about whether that is the right strategy. What should the goal be? US National Security? Iraqi Self-Determinism? Iraqi Human Rights? Establishing a Democracy in the Middle East? All of those result in completely different coarses of action. Some to keep troops there, others to remove troops.
I'm continually amazed that we argue about whether we should stay in or leave Iraq, when that is the secondary issue. Determine our National Policy, and from that our Mid-East Policy, and from that our policy on Iraq, and from that what the troop posture should be.
posted by forforf at 5:52 PM on December 14, 2005


>>Do you honestly think Y2Karl "wants the whole thing to fail and the US to lose"?

>Absolutely, 100%, yes.


Define 'fail' and 'lose' in this context. I would argue, by my own definitions, that America has already done both.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:27 PM on December 14, 2005


There's no way in hell that dios is a lawyer in real life, everyone. It's a lawyer's job to argue convincingly. Let's all stop buying his bullshit "I'm a lawyer" story.

Did he claim he was a good lawyer?
posted by wilful at 7:35 PM on December 14, 2005


According to this December 12, 2005 BBC survey, at least someone's optimistic about Iraq's future.
posted by extrabox at 7:40 PM on December 14, 2005


Although a lot of Iraqis are optimistic about the future, and a lot say things aren't going so badly for them personally, their view of where the country is at presently is quite dark. In fact, these attitudes are almost the opposite of the impression we are given of Iraqi attitudes in most of the US mainstream press.

Let's look at some key findings:

Things are going badly in Iraq today: 52% (30% say "very badly").

There has been no improvement since Saddam fell or things are worse: 60%

It was wrong for the US to invade Iraq: 50%

(Only 19% say it was "absolutely right" for the US to invade)

Oppose presence of Coalition troops in Iraq: 65%

Iraq needs a government made up mainly of religious leaders: 48%

Iraq needs a government made up mainly of military leaders: 49%

Iraq needs a strong single leader: 91%

Iraq needs an Iraqi democracy: 90%

40% of Iraqis want a dictatorship and/or an Islamic State ((down from 49% in Feb.)

58% of Iraqis want "democracy" (up from 49% in Feb.)

The problem with an item like this is that we don't know what they mean by "democracy." Over 80% of Egyptians said in one poll that democracy is the best form of government, and then 64% of them turned around and said they were satisfied with the Mubarak regime (a soft military dictatorship). So Egyptians didn't mean by "democracy" what Americans would have.

Actually, for most Middle Easterners, "democracy" implies self-determination. By that measure, Iraq is not very democratic at the moment.

The poll seems to define democracy as the principle that leaders are replaced from time to time. If that is all that the 90% want, it doesn't tell us much.


Juan Cole: ABC/Time Poll on Iraq
posted by y2karl at 8:04 PM on December 14, 2005


Some additional "key findings" from the recent BBC poll of Iraqis:

**Overall, how would you say things are going in your life these days:
70.6% answer "Quite Good" or "Very Good"
28.7% answer "Quite Bad" or "Very Bad"

**Compared to the time before the war in Spring 2003, are things overall in your life...
51.5% answer "Somewhat better" or "Much better"
29.3% answer "Somewhat worse" or much worse"

**What is your expectation for how things overall in your life will be in a year from now?
64.2% answer "Somewhat better" or "Much better"
12.5% answer "Somewhat worse" or much worse"

**Compared to our country as it was before the war in spring 2003, are things overall...
45.9% answer "Somewhat better" or "Much better"
28.7% answer "Somewhat worse" or much worse"
posted by extrabox at 8:34 PM on December 14, 2005


It is the deadening drone and grinding on the bad news intentionally on a day that should be filled with some modicum of optimism.

But dios, that wasn't what the topic of the thread was about. Why would you want to inevitably turn it into something it's not about it? After your numerous objections in the Diebold thread I am shocked, shocked I say, that you hold others to a standard you don't hold yourself to. Shocked and disappointed.
posted by juiceCake at 9:14 PM on December 14, 2005


Let it be noted that the ABC/Time poll and the BBC poll are the same poll:

Things are going badly in Iraq today: 52% (30% say "very badly").

There has been no improvement since Saddam fell or things are worse: 60%

It was wrong for the US to invade Iraq: 50%

Oppose presence of Coalition troops in Iraq: 65%

Iraq needs a government made up mainly of religious leaders: 48%

Iraq needs a government made up mainly of military leaders: 49%

posted by y2karl at 9:21 PM on December 14, 2005


didn't PP say he was a lawyer? I don't care enough to investigate, or to even know at all for that matter.
posted by mcsweetie at 9:34 PM on December 14, 2005


From the BBC:

The poll by Oxford Research International was commissioned by the BBC, ABC News and other international media organisations, and released ahead of this week's parliamentary elections in Iraq.

As Juan Cole notes above:

Although a lot of Iraqis are optimistic about the future, and a lot say things aren't going so badly for them personally, their view of where the country is at presently is quite dark.

Iraq needs a strong single leader: 91%

Iraq needs an Iraqi democracy: 90%


The problem with an item like this is that we don't know what they mean by "democracy."
posted by y2karl at 9:34 PM on December 14, 2005


Same poll, noted.

Question: I read the whole poll(pdf link) a couple of times, and I can't find the question where the answer could be read
There has been no improvement since Saddam fell or things are worse: 60%

Which question do you think Juan Cole was pulling from on that one?

All the questions in the poll I read suggest the majority of Iraqi's surveyed believe life since Saddam fell is either the same or better...
posted by extrabox at 9:49 PM on December 14, 2005


When a government substitutes propaganda for governing, the Potemkin village is all. Since we don't get honest information from this White House, we must instead, as the Soviets once did, decode our rulers' fictions to discern what's really happening. What we're seeing now is the wheels coming off: As the administration's stagecraft becomes more baroque, its credibility tanks further both at home and abroad. The propaganda techniques may be echt Goebbels, but they increasingly come off as pure Ali G.

The latest desperate shifts in White House showmanship say at least as much about our progress (or lack of same) in Iraq over the past 32 months as reports from the ground. When President Bush announced the end of "major combat operations" in May 2003, his Imagineers felt the need for only a single elegant banner declaring "Mission Accomplished." Cut to Nov. 30, 2005: the latest White House bumper sticker, "Plan for Victory," multiplied by Orwellian mitosis over nearly every square inch of the rather "Queer Eye" stage set from which Mr. Bush delivered his oration at the Naval Academy.

And to no avail. Despite the insistently redundant graphics - and despite the repetition of the word "victory" 15 times in the speech itself - Americans believed "Plan for Victory" far less than they once did "Mission Accomplished." The first New York Times-CBS News Poll since the Naval Academy pep talk, released last Thursday, found that only 25 percent of Americans say the president has "a clear plan for victory in Iraq." Tom Cruise and evolution still have larger constituencies in America than that.


It Takes a Potemkin Village

Upon review:

All the questions in the poll I read suggest the majority of Iraqi's surveyed believe life since Saddam fell is either the same or better...

The same or better. I suppose the relatives of the 30,000--100,000, depending upon whose figures you accept, civilian dead feel differently.

Which question do you think Juan Cole was pulling from on that one?

I do not know. Ask Juan Cole--he answers his emails.
posted by y2karl at 10:04 PM on December 14, 2005


The same or better. I suppose the relatives of the 30,000--100,000, depending upon whose figures you accept, civilian dead feel differently.

Just as I imagine the relatives of those killed during Saddam's regime didn't think life was so great under his rule.
posted by extrabox at 10:22 PM on December 14, 2005


Thanks for posting the survey, extrabox.
posted by russilwvong at 11:04 PM on December 14, 2005


interrobang
There's no way in hell that dios is a lawyer in real life, everyone. It's a lawyer's job to argue convincingly. Let's all stop buying his bullshit "I'm a lawyer" story.

The term "lawyer" covers a very wide range. Technically, a lawyer can be someone who merely studies law.
posted by PsychoKick at 11:18 PM on December 14, 2005


...Beyond the real possibility of getting shot, a candidate must face a divided populace that does not, according to a recent ABC News/Time poll taken in Iraq, seem to know what it wants. Make sense of these numbers: 90% believe Iraq needs democracy, but 91% believe Iraq needs a single strong leader; 48% want the mullahs to rule, but only 13% want an Islamic state; 48% think religious leaders should rule, while 49% think military leaders should rule.

The most gifted and adept American politician would struggle to develop a coherent message in this situation. Half the populace wants religious leadership, half the populace wants military leadership, and simultaneously the vast majority believes either of these is amenable to democracy. The only issue the Iraqi people have a clear consensus on is the occupation itself; by large majorities, they want the Americans out.

Imagine, for a moment, that the Iraqi elections on Friday come off without a hitch... What will the Iraqi and American people get out of the incredible blood and treasure we have poured into this conflict?

We will get an Iraqi government dominated by known and notorious terrorists. We will get an Iraqi government dominated by Iran.


Meet the New Boss

What would you call someone who wants to hand over control of Iraq to a group of terrorists that first made its reputation by blowing up a couple of American embassies?

I'd call him President Bush...

"There is such dementia in this country that people can't remember what happened in the last five minutes, never mind 20 years ago," said Bob Baer, a former CIA agent who dealt with Dawa in the Mideast during the 1980s. "These guys are murderers. They were the core element that blew up our embassy in Beirut in 1983."...

It's that touching but naive faith in democracy, I believe, that explains why no one inside the Beltway seems to have noticed the anti-American roots of many of those who are expected to ascend to power in these elections. The leaders of both parties in Washington accept the inherently liberal premise that fostering democracy in Iraq is a proper goal of U.S. foreign policy. Both sides, in other words, believe that the interests of the Iraqi people are consonant with the interests of the American people.

That's a pleasant thought. But it's just as likely that the interests of Iraqi citizens are directly opposite the interests of American citizens. That's certainly the way the Shi'a in neighboring Iran see things. Why should the Shi'a in Iraq be any different?

"So now we have a Shi'a terrorist state," said Baer, in anticipation of the election results. "Was this worth $6 billion a month?"


Heads they Win, Tails We Lose
posted by y2karl at 7:51 AM on December 15, 2005


BBC: stability, at last
posted by Mick at 8:56 AM on December 15, 2005


...The abuses witnessed during previous elections, as well as during the draft constitution referendum - which had the effect of denying the will of the majority of the Iraqis - only generate scepticism and reinforce the suspicions of those who are boycotting today's elections. Whether Iraqis take part or not, few regard these latest occupation-sponsored elections as any more free or fair than those that preceded them, and they will not help to solve the crisis facing the country.

For the political process to succeed it must proceed in a healthy environment which will take shape only when occupation comes to an end. The solution to the Iraqi problem, in the view of the Association of Muslim Scholars, is simple and logical: it is one that fully complies with international legality and would serve to reinforce it; that would put an end to the daily haemorrhage of Iraqi blood; that would lay the foundations for a state of law that protects the rights of all its citizens and seeks to secure basic human dignity; that provides an alternative to occupation, as explained in the memorandum we submitted to the United Nations and the Arab League.

This solution must be based, first, on an announcement by the US and its allies of a timetable for withdrawing their troops. Second, it would entail replacing the occupation forces with a UN force whose main task would be to fill the security void. This would be followed, thirdly, by the formation of an interim Iraqi government for six months under the supervision of the UN in order to conduct genuine parliamentary elections in which all parts of the Iraqi population would take part. Finally, the duly elected Iraqi government would take charge of the task of rebuilding the country's civil and military institutions.

Nothing will work in Iraq unless the root of the problem is addressed: the occupation must end.


No elections will be credible while occupation continues

But who knows ? Maybe after today, there will be one big group hug across all Iraq and frosted donuts will rain from the skies. Stability at last.
posted by y2karl at 9:26 AM on December 15, 2005


A series of interviews with top Iraqi politicians during the past week suggested that Iraqis are a long way from coming together peacefully. If anything, in the year since interim national elections in January, Iraq's sectarian divisions have become more pronounced:

-Shiite militias have strengthened their base in the center and south of the nation and have infiltrated Iraq's security services. Evidence is strong that they're torturing Sunnis in government detention centers and eliminating them with late-night death squads.

-Sunnis continue to form the backbone of an insurgency in the center and west of Iraq. The fighters have killed thousands of Shiites and hosted foreign and domestic jihadists who walk into crowded Shiite markets with suicide vests to kill and maim civilians.

-And to the north, the Kurdish population has a large militia and has become bolder in its push for near complete autonomy, if not independence.

"It's a very critical time. ... Either Iraq will survive or Iraq will be over," said Iraq's former interior minister, Falah al-Nakib. "There could be a lot of blood."


Building coalitions seen as key to success in Iraq
posted by y2karl at 9:42 AM on December 15, 2005


No elections will be credible while occupation continues


y2karl, What gives any act in Iraq credibility?

I believe that 10 million plus Iraqis gave credibility to the election by the simple fact of their participation.

Whether these elections further destabalize the country or mark an incremental step to greater stability is for history to tell.

But to deny that the act of voting itself imbues the elections with some credibility is to miss much of the story.
posted by extrabox at 10:19 AM on December 15, 2005


No elections will be credible while occupation continues is the title of an op-ed for the Guardian written by Harith Sulayman al-Dari who is secretary general of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq. It is a headline printed verbatim.

As for the election results, here is one take:

Consider the following two scenarios.

Scenario One: The Sunnis win big, gaining up to a quarter of the assembly. The Shiite bloc fragments. The religious Shiite parties suffer significant defections by urban, educated, and more secular Shiites, who opt instead for the party led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and other, smaller parties. After the election, the Shiite bloc falls apart, as the radical faction of rebel cleric Muqtada Al Sadr goes its own way, further weakening Al Dawa and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. A two-thirds majority in parliament emerges among religious Sunnis, secular Sunnis, Allawi and the Kurds--enough to force the SCIRI-Dawa forces to come to the table and talk about a brand new constitution with a strengthened, more centralized state, a smaller role for Islamic Sharia law, and a fairer distribution of oil revenues. And finally, the parties agree to peace talks with the armed resistance, including a ceasefire and amnesty for fighters and for prisoners. Central to the deal, the new Iraqi government demands a six-month timetable for the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq. The new government takes office in late January, and, as planned, in February the Arab League convenes Phase II of the peace process that began in Cairo in mid-November, this time in Baghdad, giving international and Arab approval to the new Iraqi concord. Together, Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish police hunt down the remnants of Al Qaeda in Iraq throughout 2006.

Scenario Two: For whatever reason, Sunni candidates fail to win a fair share of seats in the new parliament. The religious Shiite coalition--SCIRI, Al Dawa and the Sadrists--not only win big, but through ballot-stuffing, vote fraud, and help from Iran’s intelligence service, gain enough power to continue their grip on power. The Kurds opt to ally once again with the Shiites. The U.S. military begins to draw down its forces in Iraq, so that President Bush can win political points at home, and the Shiite militias fill the vacuum left over by the slowly dwindling U.S. force. Sunnis, marginalized politically, fail to muster enough votes to make any changed in the constitution imposed in October by the dominant Shiite-Kurd alliance; frustrated and outraged, the Sunnis support the insurgency with renewed vigor. The Kurds retreat into their northern enclave, the Shiite militia launch a brutal and bloody offensive against the Sunnis, with ethnic cleansing of southern Iraq, and Iraq slides into open civil war. Not only is the Phase II Arab League meeting never held, but the Arab world mobilizes in defense of Iraq’s Sunnis, and both Iran and Turkey are drawn into the conflict.

Which of these scenarios is most likely? Frighteningly, the second one. In fact, it would be amazing if Scenario One wins out...

...It’s hard to see a light at the end of this tunnel, as much as optimists and rosy-scenario mongers might search for options. As Chas Freeman, the former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, once told me about Iraq: 'Sometimes, when you’ve driven your car off a cliff, there are just no good options on the way down.'


Iraq's Tipping Point

There's that car flying off the cliff again.
posted by y2karl at 11:57 AM on December 15, 2005


I'm getting pretty tired of turning all these corners in Iraq only to find things are no better and often worse.

I'm starting to feel Bush lied to me about that "mission accomplished" thing.
posted by nofundy at 12:31 PM on December 15, 2005


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