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Tilting at Windmills

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February 24, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

IRAQ'S PENDING CIVIL WAR, CONT'D....On the other hand, after a couple of days of violence Iraq's leading clerics seem to be united in calling for calm:

Iraq's most influential Shia political leader, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, said the bombers who attacked the shrine in Samarra "do not represent Sunnis in Iraq".

....Despite the curfew in Baghdad, followers of radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr attended his sermon in the Sadr City district, hearing him urge restraint. "We are not enemies but brothers," he told them. "Anyone who attacks a Muslim is not a Muslim."

A large crowd similarly attended prayers at the Abu Hanifa mosque, Baghdad's most important Sunni site. Imam Ahmed Hasan al-Taha said the bombing was a conspiracy to draw Iraqis into sectarian conflict.

Whether this conciliatory attitude lasts beyond the next provocation or even beyond next week seems increasingly less likely to me. But it's still encouraging to hear a widespread call from Iraqi clerics to calm down following Wednesday's bombing.

Kevin Drum 1:26 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (199)

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Comments

In an article today reporting on the chaos in Iraq, the AP did a nice job of summarizing the reasons why the region is so unstable: "All sides- Shiite, Sunni, Hezbollah, Iran, friend, foe- blamed the United states. Why?"

"In the end, it may boil down to this: America is the outsider. And if you're an outsider trying to get your way, sometimes everybody else pulls together just enough to blame you."

Posted by: Erroll on February 24, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Iraq is not a backward country. They may be more polarized and violent than Western democracies, but they're not just some third-world backwater. Most Iraqis probably understand quite clearly that responding to this bombing with violence is precisely what the bombers want.

Posted by: wally on February 24, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

There is no point trying to predict whether the two communities will be able to resolve their differences peacefully, or will fall into a malestrom of communallist violence. Since they don't know, how can we know? What we can say is that the US presence (unlike, perhaps, a UN presence) isn't helping.

Posted by: Pithlord on February 24, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Iraq may pass the "imminent civil war test." But another test looms: will the Interior Minister and Defense Minister act to reduce Sunni support for the insurgency? (or will they instead continue to countenance the killing of hundreds of Sunnis?) Some observers believe that the attack on the shrine has sharply reduced the prospects for impartiality and restraint in these ministries. If so, that heightens the chances of continued insurgency, which in turns heightens the risk of sectarian conflict.

Posted by: Examiner on February 24, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Bill Roggio is one of those who has been tracking this. Scroll down a few posts.

The behavior of the leadership on both sides will be key to this in the next few weeks. The relatively restrained response of the Sunnis to the Shiite outrage was encouraging.

I'm still trying to sort out the different reports. Some of what you hear out of Iraq appears to be exaggeration. At present it's almost impossible to nail it down, but watching the sources helps. As far as news reports go, IMO we're in the same place we were right after Katrina, only worse.

The U.S. military has put up a much more optimistic face on this.

From what I've gathered on my own, I think the truth is somewhere in between these two extremes.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 24, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

"IRAQ'S PENDING CIVIL WAR, CONT'D....On the other hand, after a couple of days of violence Iraq's leading clerics seem to be united in calling for calm:"

Pending?

Posted by: sheerahkahn on February 24, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

As far as news reports go, IMO we're in the same place we were right after Katrina, only worse

What does this mean? If I had to guess, what you mean to say is that, "like Katrina", the situation is really not that bad, it's just those pesky news media who keep showing dead bodies and homeless refugees that makes it look that way.

Posted by: craigie on February 24, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

It is quite amusing to note the naive optimism here that the communities which have been at loggerheads with each other for hundreds of years will somehow start singing Kumbaya in the next few weeks if something or the other happens.

Posted by: lib on February 24, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Tborez sez--

"Bill Roggio is tracking this and the US military is more optimistic"

Well, no shit sherlock--the US military is FEEDING Roggio his material

Posted by: 7th Son on February 24, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

You miss the subtle circular reasoning: "Anyone who attacks a Muslim is not a Muslim." Thus, a Muslim who attacks a Muslim is not really a Muslim, otherwise he would not have attacked a Muslim. Therefore, those who attack Sadr's followers are not really Muslims and are free to be attacked by Sadr's followers. See how easy it is! The Civil War is in full swing.

Posted by: Cal on February 24, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

"In the end, it may boil down to this: America is the outsider. And if you're an outsider trying to get your way, sometimes everybody else pulls together just enough to blame you."

We're uniters, not dividers!

Posted by: URK on February 24, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

I can wait before celebrating or gnashing my teeth. There is plenty of time to the next US election.

This is thread is pointless, although Kevin, as per usual, has a more sensible wait-and-see attitude.

After all, if your whole analysis is "all is lost! The inevitable has begun!" then what useful move can you make based on that?

Oh yeah, withdraw the troops now and guarantee you will get the outcome you supposedly fear.

Posted by: tool of some sort on February 24, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

The U.S. military has put up a much more optimistic face on this.

Well, if there's anyone I trust on this, it's certainly the U.S. military. After all, they've been consistently right the past three years...no, wait, no they haven't.

Posted by: Stefan on February 24, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Well, no shit sherlock--the US military is FEEDING Roggio his material

Didn't actually look at the link, did you? In the posts of interest, aside from links to American and Iraqi bloggers, I saw links to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the London Times, and Reuters.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 24, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Well, having just read the first page of Kaplan's article, I'm incredibly irritated at his myopia. He begins with the example of the civilian wing of Baghdad's airport, which USAID renovated in 2003, but which is now falling apart because maintenance has been assigned by al-Sadr's Interior Ministry to a bunch of poor adolescents from Sadr City. Kaplan's conclusion: "Not everything the U.S. enterprise touches here turns to gold. But everything it lets go of does seem to turn into dirt."

This is such an idiotic and amateurish conclusion, it's hard to believe that Kaplan has spent years looking at development issues in the third world, though I know he has. The reason why the civilian wing of the airport is falling apart is the very same reason why donor-driven foreign-funded infrastructure projects fall apart all over the third world: they are built without a genuine partnership with an interested, responsible and committed local partner who will take responsibility for continuing the project after the donor leaves. If I waltzed into a small town in Texas and built a first-class hockey rink, then turned it over to the municipality, would I have any right to complain that two years later it was being used to store tires? Of course the airport got treated as a spoil in the political system; of course al-Sadr uses it to shore up his political base rather than to grow the country's international image. Duh!

If the things the US leaves turns to dirt, that's because they weren't properly built - with local commitment, involvement, and responsibility - in the first place. And if as a donor nation you try to do things that way, you get what you deserve: dirt. And none of this is any argument for staying longer in Iraq - except perhaps to gain the proper humiliating experience to be able to finally learn how to do development and nation-building the right way next time.

(cross-posted at TPMCafe)

Posted by: brooksfoe on February 24, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

This is good news. Perhaps these bombings are so despicable they will work to unify the Iraqi Shia and Sunni. An analogy (though weak) might be to the church bombings during the civil rights struggles of the 60's. It was hard to deny that those reponsible were evil, even if they did escape justice for so many years.

Posted by: NeilS on February 24, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Don't get too happy everyone on this news.

This is a classic "prisoner's dilemma" case (that's normally discussed in economics). Each actor doesn't want to go to jail. But each one doesn't want to let everyone else rat and be stuck for the longest term.

The same's true in Iraq. Each faction wants there to be peace. But what they really don't want is to lose the civil war. So they all take actions to make sure that they don't lose, which almost inevitably will cause the civil war.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 24, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Iraq demonstrates just how good religion is for people. It can be explained many ways but there is one way that leaves no doubt. Idiots say that "religion is necessary to control people." Idiot - one who can look at Iraq, Islam in general, the history of Christianity and say that religion has had a poxitive influence on people. Without religion Bush would still be looking for the National Guard Armory.

See the truth about the foundation of the three great religions at http://www.hoax-buster.org my home page.

Posted by: Bill on February 24, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

BTW - Kaplan and others have been almost complete idiots when it comes to Iraq. The persistent blindness to the reality that is staring everyone in the face is pathological.

Why do we grace these morons by calling them what they want to be called "liberal hawks". No they're not being Liberal, or Hawks. They're just being willfully stupid.

Anyone want to suggest a better term?

Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 24, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Why do we grace these morons by calling them what they want to be called "liberal hawks". No they're not being Liberal, or Hawks. They're just being willfully stupid. Anyone want to suggest a better term?

Fucking morons?

Illiberal chickenhawks?

Posted by: Stefan on February 24, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

ANY HONEST EVALUATION OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S CONDUCT OF THE AFGHANISTAN WAR AND IRAQ II WOULD NOTE THAT THE FACT THAT THE INSURGENTS ARE DRIVEN TO THIS LEVEL OF DESPERATION IS A SIGN THAT:

1) THAT WE ARE . . .WINNING!
2) THAT AL-QAEDA REALIZES HOW IMPORTANT IRAQ IS AND IS DESPERATELY TRYING NOT TO ALLOW FOR A DEMOCRATIC IRAQ; THIS IMPORTANCE EVERYONE RECOGNIZES EXCEPT THE REGRESSIVE-DEMOCRATS WHO WANT TO QUIT WHATEVER THE RESULT. IT IS SO IMPORTANT TO THEM THAT THEY ARE WILLING TO LOSE THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF THEIR FELLOW MUSLIMS BY KILLING INNOCENT MUSLIM MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN.

ADD TO THAT ALL OF THE INTRA-AL-QAEDA COMMUNICATION INTELLIGENCE WE'VE COLLECTED THAT SHOWS THEM COMPLAINING THAT ALL OF THE INFRASTRUCTURES THEY'VE SPENT DECADES BUILDING, THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION HAD DECIMATED IN THE FIRST 6 MONTHS OF HOSTILITIES AND CONTINUES TO KEEP DECIMATED.

DESPITE ALL THE SELF-AGGRANDIZING CARPING FROM REGRESSIVE-DEMOCRATS, FROM A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE, THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION, I.E., BUSH, CHENEY, AND RUMSFELD, HAVE CONDUCTED THESE MILITARY OPERATIONS MASTERFULLY. COMPARED TO PERFECTION, YES, THEY FALL SHORT. COMPARED TO OTHER MILITARY CAMPAIGNS, THEY HAVE RISEN TO THE SUBLIME.

TOH

Posted by: The Objective Historian on February 24, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Sam Knight, that's SUCH a good way of putting it.

It is a Prisoner's dilemma situation. Everyone prefers peace to war. But everyone NEEDS not to lose a war.

What's promising about this situation is that none of the power players involved seems to want a Civil War. But the minute that changes, or the minute one of them decides war is inevitable, (which every event like this makes more likely), the whole thing is going to fall apart and fall apart VERY quickly as everyone starts looking to their own.

Of course, the interesting thing in all this is that I can't find an upside for the Americans in pretty much any of these situations--I see the downside in a Civil War, but I really don't see a return for the US if a Civil War doesn't happen. And what's amazing is that there should be. Nicely done, George!

Posted by: theorajones on February 24, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

The Objective Historian, are you and OBL actually writing from the very same cave?

Posted by: brooksfoe on February 24, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Cal -

I noticed that. There are definitely two ways to parse "Anyone who attacks a Muslim is not a Muslim."

Everyone feel free to choose the one that supports their position.

Posted by: craigie on February 24, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

I can wait before celebrating or gnashing my teeth. There is plenty of time to the next US election.

Nice to see that tool of some sort has such a pragmatic view of the situation.

As for the rest of tool's post, it can be summarized thusly: Yeah, my side screwed up Iraq beyond recognition, but pointing it out isn't helping matters any!

Posted by: Alek Hidell on February 24, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

The Objective Historian, are you and OBL actually writing from the very same cave?

that's Patton, now with longer "sentances"

"sentance" b/c the word usually implies that the writer puts some kind of coherent thought into them, which is not so in this case.

Posted by: e1 on February 24, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

from the bbc.com article
Imam Ahmed Hasan al-Taha said the bombing was a conspiracy to draw Iraqis into sectarian conflict.
The Sunni alliance also announced its withdrawal from negotiations to form a coalition government.

unless someone can convince the Sunni alliance to rejoin, the conspiracy will have worked, won't it? it really doesn't matter what our military does, or what the Iraqi military does, if there is no stable unified government then there is no country. damaging the roof of one mosque triggered events that caused a major political party to disengage. who's gonna step forward (or what's it going to take) to get this party to re-engage?

what would have happened if after the church bombings during the Civil Rights movement, everyone who voted Dem decided not to participate. would that have gotten the movement anywhere?

Posted by: e1 on February 24, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

I hope and pray the civilized people in Iraq prevail over the barbarians.

Posted by: Paddy Whack on February 24, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Its kind of Ironic how this is all playing out. Iraq is turning into Lebanon, and we are playing the role of Israel, while Iran plays the role of Syria.

So when will we know that full-scale civil war is afoot? Watch for the central government to get weaker, transferring military duties to their favored militias. Look for the Kurds to basically check out and worry about protecting their turf. Look for Baghdad to empty, and watch for the various regions to become more ethnically and religiously homogonous.

I haven't been watching that closely, because it is too depressing. But it seems like most of this stuff is already happening. Or am I reading it wrong?

Posted by: enozinho on February 24, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

> aside from links to American and Iraqi bloggers

Given that the Wall Street Journal's Iraq reporter left the country in part because every single person she talked to was being tracked, shadowed, and threatened with death, I strongly doubt that there are any independent bloggers posting from Iraq.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on February 24, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

enozinho:

No, that's exactly the pattern. And I think your Lebanon analogy is a good one.

Riverbend sure sounded spooked ... as she's a Sunni I fear for her.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

enozinho:

Zalmay seems to be losing influence daily. The Shi'ites trash him for trying desperately to keep the Sunnis on board; the Sunnis trashed him for "allowing" the US forces to stand idly by during the reprisal killings and bombings.

We're going to wind up with a SCIRI/DAWA Shi'ite government and a disenfranchised and permanently resentful Sunni minority stuck in the sandbox of Anbar Provence.

Precisely the civil war scenario that everybody wanted to avoid. Expect the Kurds to just take Kirkuk (and control of the oil revenues) in the ensuing chaos. Don't expect the Constitution to be amended; expect Shi'ite-style Shariah for the whole goddamned country (save Kurdistan) in exchange for Kurdish autonomy. I've been predicting that for a year and a half.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Religion's a poxitive influence. Man, that's a typo worth waiting for.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on February 24, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

i've noted before that the objective historian is actually a very clever left-wing plant, who takes the latest spew of the bush enablers to a reductio ad absurdum level. welcome back, comrade!

the heart of the problem - evident long before the invasion began - is that iraq isn't an organically developed country. it was an invetion of british imperialism. it's not clear to what degree any of the communities involved feels a loyalty to "iraq" that transcends loyalty to ethnicity.

i've made the point elsewhere that while i despise bush-ism and ann coulter thinks i'm treasonous, both ann and i want the united states to be a great country. it is not clear to me that there is a shared desire within iraq for it to survive at all, and in the absence of that, there is nothing we can do to create such a desire.

Posted by: howard on February 24, 2006 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

So now we learn that this is all part of President Bush's long-term "Forward Strategy for Freedom" announced just hours ago.

Is it just me or is President Bush starting to sound like Chairman Mao?

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on February 24, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

The Irag Civil War officiallly began in March 2003.

Posted by: Hostile on February 24, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

iraq isn't an organically developed country
That is an interesting angle. Did you ever see this article?
Our World Historic Gamble

I don't subscribe to the whole thing, but it makes interesting reading.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

"I hope and pray the civilized people in Iraq prevail over the barbarians."

Hope and Prayer is NOT a plan.

The hard thing that all realists had from the beginning on this Iraq adventure was the extreme difficulty in actually writing a realistic plan of how we would put the Iraq back together again after invading it.

The "Illiberal DoDos" wanted to wish that all away - but you can't. And unfortunately we all will pay the price for their mis-guided fantasy.

But please I don't want to be further punished reading Sully, Fuckayama, and others ridiculous explanations of how they now have seen the light.

Maybe we should pay attention to people who are right on the big questions for a change?

Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 24, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

The Iraq Civil War officially began in March 2003.
(Fingers!!!!!!)

Posted by: Hostile on February 24, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

aWol will go down in history as the president who lost...

a) The Arab world
b) Iraq
c) Cheap Oil
d) The Middle East

How many, guys?

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on February 24, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

"The Irag Civil War officiallly began in March 2003"

Now that, I can agree with.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on February 24, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

The US should ask Iran to help with its intervention in Iraq by having them take over some military/policing duties. It may be the only way to stop the civil war and the killing of so many more poor Iraqis. I cannot think of any other way to stop the carnage unleashed by our invasion and occupation. Inviting Iran into Iraq would allow peace keepers with a similar religion to intervene and hopefully stifle continued sectarian violence and bring the US and Iran together on common ground and prevent a future confrontation between us.

Many conservatives and liberals consider Iran to be a direct threat to the US. I do not. Although Iran has sided and provided assistance with Palestine and the Shiites of Lebanon in their conflicts, Iran itself has not exhibited a desire for increasing its territory and it has a limited working democracy, which I think even some in the Bush administration would want for Iraq.

Reaching out to our adversaries is a way to avoid continued conflict, which is what I desire. It is not a ploy to polarize anti-war advocates and have them react and accept the alternative of continued violence for the sake of national security.

Posted by: Hostile on February 24, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know who these 'liberal hawks' are that the trolls rant about.

Looking under my desk. No, no liberal hawks here either.

tee hee

As far as I'm concerned the tipping point came way back at Bremer's idiotic move in disbanding the Iraqi Army.

At the behest of Chalabi, no less.

And Dear Leader gave these guys a medal.

'Course I"ve said all along that this delusional war would end in an Iraqi civil war.

And that's my best case scenario.

Posted by: CFShep on February 24, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal Hawks would be people who claimed to be liberals but supported the Iraq Invasion.

That'd be Thomas Friedman, TNR folks like Beinert and that Kenneth Pollock dude. Michael O'Hanlon probably should be put in their too.

Each and every one had numerous chances to repudiate the nonsense BEFORE it happened. And didn't. (Kevin did BTW - a short bit before the actual invasion - calpundit said heh, this doesn't make sense! (more or less)

Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 24, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Forward Strategy for Freedom" announced just hours ago.

Is it just me or is President Bush starting to sound like Chairman Mao?
Posted by: pj_in_jesusland

Well, he has shortened the budget window to 5 years from the privious standard of 10 to attempt to paper over the vast sea of red ink he's given us under his previous 'Revenue Enhancement' tax cuts.

Mao liked that 5 year plan stuff.

Worked so well, too.

Posted by: CFShep on February 24, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

The Iraq Civil War officially began in March 2003.

The poor Iraqi fools -- we've got them right where we want them now that a civil war is breaking out. Don't they know we have unlimited legions of Civil War re-enactors whom we can pour into this conflict at a moment's notice? That with a snap of our fingers we can have the Army of the Potomac or the Army of Northern Virginia ready to take on combined forces of Moqtada al-Sadr?

Posted by: Stefan on February 24, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

CFShep:'Course I"ve said all along that this delusional war would end in an Iraqi civil war.

And that's my best case scenario.

yup.

i keep trying to think if there's some way to avoid the collapse of the country. but the more i hear, and read, the more i think that there isn't. the more i think that our soldiers with all the best intentions can't get a handle on what needs to be done, (platitudes to the contrary notwitstanding) and that for every step forward they and the Iraqi soldiers and general civilian populace takes, somehow the corruption of the "reconstruction process," the Iraqi "gov't" and the insurgency pushes everything ten steps back.

{{me likey the "" today}}

Posted by: e1 on February 24, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, anyway to increase the font size of your posts?

Posted by: Peter Schwartz on February 24, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

to paper over the vast sea of red ink

from TDS last night: "don't think of it as $2000 you don't have, think of it as like $200,000 your grandkids don't have. and fuck them anyway, they think you smell like ass!"

Posted by: e1 on February 24, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't considered TNR a 'liberal' publication in years.

About 5 editors in chief ago. Or was that 4 changes in ownership ago. Or both.

It's zigged and zagged its hapless way, this way and that for so long that, bar the occasional film review, I rarely read it.

Thomas Friedman is a liberal? Who knew?

Even so. You'd think the trolls would prefer hawkish libs to the regular variety.

>shrugging

Posted by: CFShep on February 24, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

both ann and i want the united states to be a great country.

howard, with all die respect, what is your evidence that Ann Coulter wants the United States to be a great country?

Posted by: Gregory on February 24, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, you lefties got a million reasons to oppose the war, but not one viable alternative.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, you lefties got a million reasons to oppose the war, but not one viable alternative.

How wonderful of Bush to screw up our national security to the point where there's no viable alternative.

By the way, nut, you might have noticed that opposing the war is far from the fringe position these days. Just sayin'.

Posted by: Gregory on February 24, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory
I noticed the conspicuous absence of a viable alternative there. What I said.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

i keep trying to think if there's some way to avoid the collapse of the country. but the more i hear, and read, the more i think that there isn't.

No, there really isn't. A very astute poster on either this thread or another (sorry, I can't remember who) summed it up as the classic Prisoner's Dilemma, in that will neither prefers to fight, they also cannot afford to lose -- therefore, the most rational thing for them to do is to gear up for the war they don't want to fight but feel they must. We might tell them that in the long run they're better off together, but they'll never reach the long run if they lose in the short -- and so, they will fight.

The only thing that could stop this process would be some honest broker, some third party that everyone could rally around. But there is at this moment no force in Iraq -- neither military nor social nor economic nor religious -- that has enough institutional legitimacy and clout to unite the various factions, no credible argument to be made to keep them together.

Posted by: Stefan on February 24, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

I noticed the conspicuous absence of a viable alternative there.

Well, Bush could have listened to his father's and Colin Powell's highly prescient predictions and not invaded at all, or could at least have conduced the occupation in something other than a half-assed manner.

Bush's incompetence has left the US without viable alternatives. If you want to sneer at Bush's critics for Bush's failings, fine and dandy, but I rather doubt anyone is much impressed.

Posted by: Gregory on February 24, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory, i'd say that there is no limit to the things we can criticize Ann Coulter about, but in her deeply misguided way, she is nonetheless committed to the United States. You and i may know that, in fact, her actual "positions" would do permanent harm to the idea and the reality of the United States, but still....

conspiracy nut, i skimmed through the link you provided and it made my head hurt: i don't see anything world-historical about what's going on in iraq.

that said, there are no good choices in iraq. sometimes, that's just how it is. my hope is that, in and amongst the vaunted Pentagon stockpile of contingency plans, there's one to get the troops (and other americans) out of harm's way if the worst occurs.

putting aside the risks to many individual iraqis, my biggest fear of the current situation is that we're going to end up with americans held hostage in iran (yes, with an "n") yet again....

Posted by: howard on February 24, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

I noticed the conspicuous absence of a viable alternative there. What I said.

So, two guys are in a plane. One says, "we should jump out."

The other says, "what are you, fucking nuts?"

But the first one pushes him out anyway, and then jumps out too. Now they are heading for the ground at terminal velocity. The pushee says "You moron, look what you did! Slamming into the earth at a few hundred miles an hour is insane!"

And the first guy says "Ok, smart guy, what's your alternative?"

Posted by: craigie on February 24, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

craigie:

But hey, at least the pusher has conspiracy nut's lips wrapped around his pole!

Posted by: Baited on February 24, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

but in her deeply misguided way, she is nonetheless committed to the United States.

With all due respect, howard, I see no evidence of this. The Republican Party, yes, but the United States? I just don't see how her venom shows any respect at all for the United States I learned to love in civics class.

Posted by: Gregory on February 24, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

craigie

Have I told you lately you're my hero?

Even if you did lift that PJ quote from me...grin.

"I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks."
Daniel Boone

Posted by: CFShep on February 24, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Two comments:

1) Who's a liberal. I agree that the Tom Friedmans, TNRs and Joe Klein's of the world aren't really liberals at all.
But they advertised themselves to be "liberal hawks" and I got sicked and tired of that self-aggrandizing label.

2) "Yep, you lefties got a million reasons to oppose the war, but not one viable alternative."

BS - there was on viable alternative. Don't attack a country that doesn't threaten the US. Colin Powell publicly declared in 2001 that Iraq didn't pose a threat.

The alternatives would have been to pursue supporting the student's movements in Iran, and agrresively search to surround and contain North Korea. Or maybe initiate a massive nation - building effort in Afganistan first. or...

You get the idea there were dozens of productive things that the US could have done instead. And liberals did suggest them.


Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 24, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Knight, I am much more likely than not to agree with you on many points.

I was profoundly disgusted by Friedman's pro-war stance. I like his delirious free trade paeans even less.

"I'm a centrist.
And I'm okay.
I read all night
and I work all day."

I was going for a harmless little riff on Dear Leader's stand-up routine where he pretended to look for WMD under the table and so forth.

Following TNR's frequent regime changes could induce vertigo. I remember when it was a beacon of rational liberal thought and opinion.

>sigh

Gives away my age, doesn't it.

Posted by: CFShep on February 24, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Even if you did lift that PJ quote from me...grin.

I plead Not Guilty - I actually read a fair amount of PJ way back when (including when he was at the Nat Lamp), so I'm going to assert that I had that quote rattling around in my head from before.

He's possibly the only conservative nutcase who is actually funny.

Have I told you lately you're my hero?

No, but feel free to send me money!

Posted by: craigie on February 24, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Howard
i skimmed through the link you provided and it made my head hurt: i don't see anything world-historical about what's going on in iraq.
It's a long read, and I expect you'll agree with less of its content than I do; but I recommend it. Your comment about Iraq not being an organically grown country is the focal point of that article. He's giving his opinion on why that issue is important to understanding the action.

craigie
Aw, come on buddy, we were having such a nice talk yesterday. And look at what you're doing today. Jeez, you guys turn on me in a heartbeat.

Gregory
So, in the GWoT leaving Saddam in place is a viable alternative. How does that speak to his support of terrorists? How does that speak to a transformation of the ME into a non-terrorist supporting region? How does that speak to any problem? Not to mention that I doubt the Iraqis think much of your alternative.

I'm withholding judgement on the viable part until you get back to me.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

You guys have wasted all these pixels for nothing!

The new talking point is that Civil War in Iraq Is A Good Thing, as per Fox News.

Posted by: lib on February 24, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

No, but feel free to send me money!
Posted by: craigie

I would gladly pay you $2 tomorrow for a hamburger today. The Wimpy School of Economics.

What really pisses me off about PJ is that's he's so damned funny. Chris Buckley, too.

Posted by: CFShep on February 24, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Samuel Knight, you're right as rain.

But I think the only reason we have not pulled out of Iraq already is that so many people in the United States, especially Bush supporters, hate to admit that a mistake was made. They still think they can save face, someway, somehow

Whats really unattractive is that most of these folks would not make a really significant personal sacrifice for this cause. I live in a heavily Republican neighborhood, but know of no kids who have any intention of ever going to Iraq. And that suits their parents just fine.

I have no respect for this attitude.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on February 24, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Whats really unattractive is that most of these folks would not make a really significant personal sacrifice for this cause. I live in a heavily Republican neighborhood, but know of no kids who have any intention of ever going to Iraq. And that suits their parents just fine.

I have no respect for this attitude.
Posted by: little ole jim from red country

Damn straight. Yellow magnet ribbons on the SUV syndrome.

"All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting." -George Orwell

Posted by: CFShep on February 24, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Well little jim and CF, you want the US out of Iraq. Have you signed up with the insurgency to help make it a reality? Don't tell me you're just sitting at your keyboards spouting opinions and you have no intention of providing any action to back them up.

It'd almost make me think you were hypocrites.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Aw, come on buddy, we were having such a nice talk yesterday. And look at what you're doing today. Jeez, you guys turn on me in a heartbeat.

I agree, that was very interesting - and if these thread thingys didn't become obsolete so fast, I would have continued on that one.

But on this: Come on, my little analogy was pretty gentle, don't you think? And can you show me the part where it's wrong? I mean, it's not as if BushCo packed us all a parachute before pushing us out of the plane. Hell, according to Cheney and Rumsfeld, we didn't need no stinkin' parachutes!

Posted by: craigie on February 24, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut, thanks for posting the link to that article. I've got to run now, but I look forward to reading it.

I skimmed it and it looked like a well-constructed and thought out argument. I'm not sure how much of it I'll agree with, particularly the idea of a unilateral actor, but I need to read it carefully.

This much I do agree with:

No one's crystal ball is in such good shape that they can afford to be too vehement in denouncing those who disagree with them. Fear and trembling is the first order of the day, both on the part of those who counsel action and those who do not.
Posted by: Windhorse on February 24, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

So, in the GWoT leaving Saddam in place is a viable alternative. How does that speak to his support of terrorists? How does that speak to a transformation of the ME into a non-terrorist supporting region? How does that speak to any problem? Not to mention that I doubt the Iraqis think much of your alternative.

Two quick points and then I have to run to catch my train:

1. As to Saddam's association with terrorism, his main link seemed to be subsidy payments to the families of Palestinian bombers, who were no threat to the US.

2. I might easily take your paragraph above and substitute "Pervez Musharraf" or "Saudi Arabia", both of whom are ostensibly US allies. How does leaving them in place speak to their support of terrorists, or the transformation of the Mideast or SE Asia into a non-terrorist supporting region? I've yet to see any viable argument as to what made Saddam, who had no WMD and the least links to Al Qaeda than any of those other actors, such a threat when they are not considered to be.

Posted by: Stefan on February 24, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Hell, according to Cheney and Rumsfeld, we didn't need no stinkin' parachutes!
Posted by: craigie

Milo's done sold the parachutes.

Posted by: CFShep on February 24, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

CFShep:

"But everybody has a share!"

:)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Well little jim and CF, you want the US out of Iraq. Have you signed up with the insurgency to help make it a reality? Don't tell me you're just sitting at your keyboards spouting opinions and you have no intention of providing any action to back them up.

Jeez, conspiracy, you turn on us in a heartbeat. And here we thought you were doing so well....

Posted by: Stefan on February 24, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

You guys are right - a huge part of why we aren't trying to get out of Iraq now is the refusal to admit what a disaster it's been. And the refusal of many GOP and Democratic leaders to admit:

I made a huge mistake.

There are many ways to rationalize this excuse making. One of which is conspiracy nut is using: if you think our policy is bad - you must be supporting the insurgency! Nice non sequitor obviously.

But the real stunner to me is how all the alleged experts who trumpted this Iraq adventure are still the ones who get to write about what we do now in all the major publications like Newsweek, Time, the Ppost and the Times. And those writers who were actually correct in predicting what would happen still can't get space.

I mean really how did Jonah Goldberg get space in the LA Times, and Kos, Drum or Marshall doesn't. Don't believe that market BS as an explanation. Kos Drum and Marshall creamed Goldberg on the net. But still Goldberg gets the invite to write. WTF?

Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 24, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody want a little amusement, please check my post on the conservative empathy deficit in the Incompetence thread (I think ... )

Just posted it in response to our favorite li'l perpeller head :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

craigie
And can you show me the part where it's wrong?
Yep, terrorism is a problem. In other words, your airplane is crashing. Doing nothing isn't an option.

Now maybe Bush's option was wrong, maybe it was poorly executed, but it at least took into account that something needed done.

And it was just all the violence in your analogy. I'm a lover, you know.

Windhorse
You won't agree with all of it, I'm real sure of that because I don't agree with all of it. But I found it an interesting angle to take a view from.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

s'cuze me, the gitmo thread.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK
So, in the GWoT leaving Saddam in place is a viable alternative. How does that speak to his support of terrorists?

How does leaving the Pakistani regime in place speak to their support of al-Qaeda?

Posted by: cmdicely on February 24, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Jeez, conspiracy, you turn on us in a heartbeat. And here we thought you were doing so well....
It's hard to get any love around here, trust me.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK
Yep, terrorism is a problem. In other words, your airplane is crashing.

Well, see, that's where you are wrong. Sure, terrorism is a problem; its a problem that's plagued humanity, in various forms, for all of history.

But its not a particularly existential threat, and the war against Iraq does nothing to fight it, even if it were, so is, at best, irrelevant to the problem. At worst, its analogous to, I dunno, crawling out a hatch and sawing the wings off your plane because the engine stalled.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 24, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Nut - doing nothing is better than doing something monumentally stupid.

Cheaper too.

Anyone else would like that Trillion dollars back?

Along with 10,000 plus shattered lives of the wounded americans, or 100,000 lives of Iraqis hurt?

Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 24, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

The Administration does have an exit strategy;
Hang on till 2008 and let the Dems sort it out.

The only problem with helping people get on their feet is as soon as they get independant,
tehy get INDEPENDANT and don't wan to toe the
line. Like setting a cage of tigers free, as
soon as you do they are on the outside with you
and you become fair game.

Ann Coulter; nice cleavage, spectacular legs, no
logic to back up her absurd statements. Kinda like Rush in drag.

Posted by: lefty on February 24, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

How does leaving the Pakistani regime in place speak to their support of al-Qaeda?
al Qaeda is not synonomous with terrorists.

and the war against Iraq does nothing to fight it
So again, what's your viable alternative to fight it? And here's your first hint: Keeping on with what wasn't working isn't a viable alternative.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Nut - doing nothing is better than doing something monumentally stupid.
Now there is a remarkable inability to think through the situation. You cannot have seriously considered what would be entailed here.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut:

I skimmed the TCS piece very cursorily to be sure.

What a bunch of pseudo-intellectual palaver. Hegel, schmegel. As soon as I saw the comparisons between Nazism and radical Islam I knew it was a bunch of philosophy grad students trying to remain relevant.

The conclusion's a complete wimpout. It says nothing. It's all about understanding the status quo and undermining a critique of why we got into the war in the first place.

Which would seem kinda par for the course on a website that calls itself Technology, Commerce, Society ... sheesh. Econo-nerds.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

jeez, you take long enough to get back to a thread, and the bulk of the good comments are taken.

still.

the idea that the global war on terrorism is a phrase with any meaning at all is tres amusing but not actually sensible. this has been the heart of the bush failure on a strategic level.

a realistic ambition would have been to break the back of the islamic fundamentalist jihadist infrastructure. from that perspective, attacking saddam was a diversion with loads of opportunity costs, not something sensible in the slightest.

gregory, so as not to get lost in the mists of a semantic disagreement, my analogy is that it's not clear that there is any inherent reason why the kurds, the shiites, and the sunnis have a desire to be in one country just because of the accidental impulse of british imperialism. ann coulter is a horrible person not in the slightest interested in any of the things that make america great, but she hasn't yet come out in favor of the amusing post-election map of jesusland vs. rational-land (probably because coulter, in fact, has no real interest in residing in jesus land, but still).

in short, i agree: coulter has no allegiance to the america you and i learned in civics class, but her solution is to reindoctrinate the rest of us, not split off (at least, so far).

Posted by: howard on February 24, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

I noticed the conspicuous absence of a viable alternative there.

The only thing that could stop this process would be some honest broker, some third party that everyone could rally around.

Inviting Iran in to Iraq to help with security and organizing a limited democracy is viable and would at least provide a 'broker' with a real interest in peace within the region. It would protect many many Iraqis' lives and would allow the US and Iran to work together rather than working towards nuclear conflict.

There is a huge problem in Iraq. The US and Europe are creating another huge possible conflict by dictating national policy to Iran. I want peace, and security too, and the only way to earn it is to engage our supposed enemy and partner with them to help solve the problems within the region.

I do not want to disparage liberal doves, who will correctly surmise Americans will not willingly accept a partnership with Iran to bring peace and stability to Iraq, but to throw out the idea because of American intransigence or because Americans hate Iran, will only cost more American lives. Someone must be the first to offer her hand to peace for the best interests of those affected by the violence. The US is in the best position to do it and we should not let our excessive nationalism or pride prevent us from doing the right thing.

The Iraqi people need help. The American people caused the problem and are unable to solve it. Partnering with Iran may be the only way to end the insanity of civil war in Iraq and potential war with Iran.

Posted by: Hostile on February 24, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

CFShep: Milo's done sold the parachutes.

Was that before or after he got the contract to bomb the base?

Posted by: alex on February 24, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

me: And can you show me the part where it's wrong?
cn: Yep, terrorism is a problem. In other words, your airplane is crashing. Doing nothing isn't an option.

Aha! A breakthrough!

To say the plane was crashing is to say that terrorism is way more than a problem - it is a crisis that threatens the very existence of the US in particular and Western Civilization in general.

I know Bush et al believe that. Rummy just said it again yesterday in his inane OpEd in the LAT.

But it just ain't so.

There was a lot of room between doing nothing (which was, by the way, the Bush strategy right up to 9/10) and starting WWIII (which seems to be the current strategy).

Now, are there any good options from here? Beats me. But we really, really didn't have to be here, and a bunch of us liberal commie fag loving anti-war treasonous traitors, the folks that Michelle Malkin wants to put in concentration camps, 60 million or so of us UnAmerican types, said so. A lot.

Posted by: craigie on February 24, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK
al Qaeda is not synonomous with terrorists.

al-Qaeda certainly are terrorists, and they certainly are the terrorists that attacked the US on 9/11, so you'd think, in the context of a US "Global War on Terrorism" launched in response to the 9/11 attacks, it would be at least as important to depose regimes that had long-term ties to al-Qaeda, sponsored the al-Qaeda protecting Taliban up until after 9/11, and continue to maintain ties with al-Qaeda linked terror groups fighting against a neighboring democracy to this day as to do the same to regimes whose ties to terrorists were far more remote to any substantial direct threat to the United States.

So again, what's your viable alternative to fight it?

Even doing nothing is a "viable alternative" to doing something actively counterproductive.


Posted by: cmdicely on February 24, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

craigie
To say the plane was crashing is to say that terrorism is way more than a problem - it is a crisis that threatens the very existence of the US in particular and Western Civilization in general.
Well, I did overstate the problem; but let's remember that I was trying to fix your analogy. So, naturally unnecessary violence figured in.

Howard
a realistic ambition would have been to break the back of the islamic fundamentalist jihadist infrastructure
Just for your interest, I consider a statement like this to be a realization that there is indeed a need for a GWoT. And certainly we've been doing this (financial seizings, killing leaders, etc), but I also think it is necessary to address the state sponsors of terrorism.

At that point, a fine discusion can be had as to whether Iraq was the place to go or the thing to do; but I don't see addressing your "breaking the back of" without addressing state sponsors.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Or as I said to the perpeller head on another thread:

We'll blow you up today to ensure a better tomorrow for your grandchildren.

Provided, of course, we don't cause your grandchildren to be blown up as well ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

cn:"Yep, you lefties got a million reasons to oppose the war, but not one viable alternative."

Okay, alternative...hmm, how bout not going to war?
Oh wait, to late for that.
There is only hope left to us.
Hope that there's something salvagable left, so that when the adults do take over, and oh yes they will, the adults can undo Bush's and the Republicans domestic and international f*ckups. Hope, that when the adults take over, we can bring the world around to trusting us again. Hope, that our economy hasn't been sold to the highest bidder like all of our technology, jobs, and ports have.
Hope, that the wheels of justice grind into oblivion the sadistic lust for power that has infused the Republican party.
Hope, that we won't have to worry about our sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts, and grandfathers and grandmothers dying for some lie fostered by fear-mongering pseudo-christian neocon's vision for the apocalypse.

So here's to hope, for the adults in our country, our one and only alternative left to us!

Posted by: sheerahkahn on February 24, 2006 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

cm
It was a nice head fake on your al Qaeda discussion, but I ain't falling for a head fake. al Qaeda is not the only terrorist group.

Even doing nothing is a "viable alternative" to doing something actively counterproductive.
And you fall into the same shallow thought process of :Samuel Knight on February 24, 2006 at 5:46 PM.

Terrorists started by hijacking our planes, went on to blowing up embassies, then to planting explosives in our buildings, then to truck bombing our troops barracks, and worked up to flying airplanes into the World Trade Center. Have you considered the consequences, for us and for them, of doing nothing?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK
And certainly we've been doing this (financial seizings, killing leaders, etc), but I also think it is necessary to address the state sponsors of terrorism.

Apparently, by naming the biggest state backer of al-Qaeda, and the biggest state proliferator to other rogue states as a major non-NATO ally of the United States.

Reward the major enemies, and destroy regimes that are lesser threats in order to create even more big threats. Its a perfectly sane solution!

Posted by: cmdicely on February 24, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

perpeller head:

There *are* no state sponsors of al Qaeda-style, Universal Caliphate / Sayyid Qutb-motivated global jihad.

Don't confuse the Palestine/Israel situation with the entirety of the Western world.

And don't confuse Taliban Afghanistan with a viable state.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK
There *are* no state sponsors of al Qaeda-style, Universal Caliphate / Sayyid Qutb-motivated global jihad.

Pakistan has certainly been a state sponsor of al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda linked groups.

Now, its not for the purpose of promoting "global jihad", but largely as a tool to acheive various regional aspirations and to combat regional rivals, as well as to provide an outlet for various local forces that, without it, might turn on the present leadership. But they've been a state sponsor of al-Qaeda all the same.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 24, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

There *are* no state sponsors of al Qaeda-style, Universal Caliphate / Sayyid Qutb-motivated global jihad.
So saith the Book of Bob. A member in good standing of Moonbats R Us, and carrying no weight whatsoever in any discussion concerning national security.

But thanks for piping up.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Can you cite examples?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK
Terrorists started by hijacking our planes, went on to blowing up embassies, then to planting explosives in our buildings, then to truck bombing our troops barracks, and worked up to flying airplanes into the World Trade Center. Have you considered the consequences, for us and for them, of doing nothing?

I don't think you get it.

Doing something that makes the situation worse, like invading Iraq, is worse than doing nothing. That doesn't mean "doing nothing" is good. It just means that, given the choice between doing nothing, and doing the counterproductive thing, doing nothing, however bad it may be, is less bad.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 24, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

Reward the major enemies, and destroy regimes that are lesser threats in order to create even more big threats.
You've got a point in there if you could learn to breathe through your nose.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

The perpeller heads *never* get that point.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

That doesn't mean "doing nothing" is good.
So again, what's your viable alternative?

Unless the Democrats can produce a viable alternative, I'll take a bad plan over no plan. Because no matter how much you want it to be so, doing nothing was not an option.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

I think Osama's brand of global jihad is a relatively new phenomenon, and is related to but not synonymous with some of the regional radical Islamic movements supported by Pakistan.

I think you have to define the al Qaeda threat the US is so concerned with as precisely narrowed down to a doctrine of step-by-step global jihad to ultimately produce a Universal Caliphate as detailed by Zawahiri.

As vile as the takfiri Deobandi Taliban were, they don't fit into this grouping.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: breaking the back of the islamic jihadist terrorist infrastructure is a campaign with a specific and clearcut objective. a global war on terrorism is not.

so invading afghanistan made sense, since afghani training camps were a critical element of said infrastructure, but so are things like dealing with the money trail, disrupting communications, and a host of others.

dealing with "state sponsors" of terrorism, while attractive sounding, is another meaningless generalization: we don't have to overthrow the saudis to try and keep saudi money from reaching AQ. we don't have to overthrow the Pakistani government to try and disrupt the mountain camps.

and most important, we don't need to overrate the threat, as cmdicely has already pointed out.

Posted by: howard on February 24, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

To: letters@washpost.com ; oped@washpost.com
Sent: Wednesday, November 23, 2005 11:31 AM

IRAQ the Votes, the Tally, the War:

"The Inevitable"



The Bush Administration keeps stating that "we" cannot leave Iraq: until the votes for democracy are complete; until Iraqis establish a democratic government, until Iraqi forces can protect their citizens, not until...

Well, not until we realize The Inevitable will the true Iraqi solution come forth. It's the obvious one, the one that Iraqis are in the midst of forming themselves through violence.

This "insurgency" is not going to end until the most important lines are finally drawn, --- the boundary lines, separating each "tribe" into their own ruling domains.

Mankind has always and will always fight to the end for their country, their territory, their religion, their everything....

That is a Truth of any country, any heritage. Call it nationalism, call it anything you want except an untruth.

Presently, lines already mark territories guarded by numerous militias that answer only to their own leaders.

Therefore --- The INEVITABLE --- divide Iraq into three countries: Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites. And most important, divide the wealth equally. Then and only then can true nation building take place. That should have been the goal from the beginning.

Iran will control the south no matter what. If Turkey invades the Kurdish "nation" then NATO is nothing more than a farce. Central Iran (Sunni) can then play out it's power over itself, as will the others.

If it's still not too late, perhaps it's worth diverting our efforts towards that solution.

But would the Bush Administration condone such a change in its policy, it would mean admitting a mistake --- and aren't they all infallible --- in their own words, in their own minds, its always someone elses fault - (does faulty intelligence come to mind?)

"Stay the Course" has been their eternal mantra, a course mapped by lies.

Truth requires Courage, while Strength requires character, and Wisdom will ensure a lasting and true peace. Yet none of those qualities can be in effect until the curtain of lies is lifted. And that is where Courage still waits its turn.

Does the Administration have the Strength, Courage, and Wisdom to understand the future --- and not use the excuse of, "...nobody could have predicted, nobody could have imagined."

Republicans used that excuse in their past, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the insurgency in Iraq. It's become an idiot's answer to the very end of time.

If they only saw the Truth..... they could predict the future!

Posted by: bohdan yuri on February 24, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut, you're just not reading cmdicely. he wasn't supporting "doing nothing." he was supporting not doing something so frickin' dumb that it will be an object lesson for decades to come.

the democrats have offered lots of clearcut concepts about what to do about the threat of terrorism: admittedly, none of them stir the blood like the notion of invading iraq, marching on to tehran, installing democracies, and waiting for the citizenry to automatically become soccer moms and NASCAR dads.

of course, that's a fantasy, whereas the dem proposals, slow and tedious as they are, are reality-based....

Posted by: howard on February 24, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

howard:

Precisely.

We nabbed the WTC bombers. We foiled the Milliennium plot. (both under Clinton).

GWB was asleep at the switch during the snoozy Summer of Shark Attacks and Who Killed Chandra Levy and we got hit by a claque of mongos that our FBI should have been able to stop.

August PDF anyone?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

..I'll take a bad plan over no plan..

Seriously?

Posted by: lib on February 24, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

My war is becoming a reality. I can't be more excited. I trust this president to bring the middle east to war, and now it is on the verge of happening. Can't go wrong, voting for Bush, the president of war. Now, if only Iran wouldn't just stand still and get into the act. Let the terrorists all kill each other, that will be swell.

Posted by: Mini Al on February 24, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

breaking the back of the islamic jihadist terrorist infrastructure is a campaign with a specific and clearcut objective. a global war on terrorism is not.
I'm not going to quibble over terms. And the reason this is a quibble over terms is that I think what you said is a fine description of a GWoT as I see it. So you and I talking about the same thing.

while attractive sounding, is another meaningless generalization
Well, we had to disagree somewhere. Otherwise, what fun would it be? Let's take the current hot topic of the UAE. A huge financial center in the ME. Because of this, large amounts of terrorist related money would have flowed through there. They likely knew this and didn't stop it because they have to live there, and they aren't big or well armed. Just getting along. After 9/11, they have been instrumental in shutting down terrorist financing. Since they are the financial center of the ME, when they did this it was highly beneficial. So, it's clearly good to have states on our side. I trust we agree here.

But another good reason is to have those states control their own terrorists. Everybody points out that Timothy McVeigh is a terrorist, and that's true, but we didn't export him. We work to confine those types. Everybody else needs to do the same to reach success.

Now I'll pick on cmdicely's ongoing example of Pakistan. Half the government there is basically terrorists, or terrorist sympathizers. Are they going to want to do either of the above?

Now, as for state sponsors of terrorism, I don't really find that a meaningless generalization. Libya and Syria spring immediately to mind. Ghadaffi (or however he spells his name this week) is getting old and slowing down, but you remember. Syria -> Lebanon, 'nuff said.

Are there a lot of them? No. But they are not insignificant.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously?
Sure, voted for Bush didn't I.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK
Can you cite examples?

A number of jihadi groups in Kashmir have been linked to both Pakistan and al-Qaeda; there was some pressure in 2002 from the US for Pakistan to deal with these groups, though it seems to have rapidly evaporated into US officials joining Pakistan in denying the existence of al-Qaeda cells in Kashmir, while the groups that have been historically linked both to ISI and al-Qaeda continue to operate.

Among the groups mentioned in this context are Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harakut al Mujahedeen, though there are numerous others with a complex web of relationships with each other, Pakistan (and particularly the ISI), the Taliban, and al-Qaeda.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 24, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan wrote this: No, there really isn't. A very astute poster on either this thread or another (sorry, I can't remember who) summed it up as the classic Prisoner's Dilemma, in that will neither prefers to fight, they also cannot afford to lose -- therefore, the most rational thing for them to do is to gear up for the war they don't want to fight but feel they must. We might tell them that in the long run they're better off together, but they'll never reach the long run if they lose in the short -- and so, they will fight.

The only thing that could stop this process would be some honest broker, some third party that everyone could rally around. But there is at this moment no force in Iraq -- neither military nor social nor economic nor religious -- that has enough institutional legitimacy and clout to unite the various factions, no credible argument to be made to keep them together.

If you take seriously that each faction most wants merely to avoid being overrun by the others, then the answer is obvious. With the US military present to prevent a true assault of two factions against the other (I distinguish a "true assault" from the random bombings of undefended civilians), each side will soon learn that it is not in danger of being conquered. Eventually the national army will be strong enough to prevent any faction from conquering the whole nation. then either Iraq will fall into three parts, or else it will be a nation like Switzerland with semi-autonomous cantons.

In the classic prisoners dilemma game the strategy of cooperating is second-best for each player; the one who defects first has the least punishment. In this situation in Iraq, cooperation is optimal for everyone, and conquest by one party is second-best for the winners.

Posted by: republicrat on February 24, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

he was supporting not doing something so frickin' dumb that it will be an object lesson for decades to come.
We seek to change the ME (you may not agree with that goal, but that is what we are seeking).

Changing things is a process.

And here we get into something that I know something about: Where you start isn't as important as how you continue.

And there is where my clash with what Bush is doing comes into play. Iraq, OK start there. But follow through, keep after it and learn from your mistakes. Of course, you guys are making it damn hard to keep after it...

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK
I think Osama's brand of global jihad is a relatively new phenomenon, and is related to but not synonymous with some of the regional radical Islamic movements supported by Pakistan.

I agree and disagree; I think the Pakistani reason for supporting the various regional radical Islamic groups is very different from al-Qaeda's reasons for maintaining associations with, often, the same groups. But those groups are as much a part of the global jihad movement as any other al-Qaeda-affiliated group, and have, IIRC, been connected to some efforts that have been aimed outside of the region.

I think you have to define the al Qaeda threat the US is so concerned with as precisely narrowed down to a doctrine of step-by-step global jihad to ultimately produce a Universal Caliphate as detailed by Zawahiri.

Sure, but I think you also have to recognize that a number of the regional groups that Pakistan has supported for reasons of enhancing its own regional powerbase are, nonetheless, very much serving as part of that global jihad effort for al-Qaeda.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 24, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

perpeller head:

Once again, there's a difference between regional terrorist actors and global terrorist actors. I wouln't quibble with either your or cmdicely's characterization of Pakistan; I shudder what might happen if Musharraf gets outsted in a coup (and they have a goddamned election coming up next year, which is scary enough in its own right).

But the al Qaeda global brand of terrorism that arose victoriously fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan and which drives the sort of threats we face *on our soil* is a different thing. If we conflate "terrorist threats" to mean the ones routinely hurled (at least verbally) against Israel, then we have a poor definition of *our* national security. I dunno about you, but I'm fucking sick of being Israel's bitch.

I also agree that taking down financing networks and communication infrastructure, etc. is precisely the way to go. As it is in the war on drugs.

But the war on drugs isn't a real "war," as you know. And neither is the war on terrorism.

The last thing we do is legitimate the global jihadist ideology by invading Muslim countries and giving Muslims reason to believe that *we* have a global agenda to dictate the culture of *their* religion to them.

All that does is create more global jihadis.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK
Unless the Democrats can produce a viable alternative, I'll take a bad plan over no plan.

And when the Democrats present better options, you'll take a bad plan over a good plan. Yes, we understand your preferences.

Because no matter how much you want it to be so, doing nothing was not an option.

So, let me understand you clearly. Actively making thing worse -- viable option. Doing nothing -- not an option.

How is this rational?

Posted by: cmdicely on February 24, 2006 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Reverberations of Shock and Awe continue to pulse across Iraq.

Violence begats violence, always.

The calm after this latest unrest is deceptive since the Iraqis are a diverse lot and cannot be pigeoned-holed into stereotypes.

For a glimpse of some of what Iraq "is," go to

http://www.warnewsradio.org/show/

Quick...before the DoD infiltrates the radio show and spends taxpayers' money on real news us true redstate folks want to hear!

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on February 24, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

I've seen this acronym in association with Pakistan a few times, and I s'poze I could google it -- but wot the 'ell:

What is the ISI?

Thanks for your patience,

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Bob
Somewhat sane.

As for being Israel's bitch, you might not have noticed but they killed 3000 of us in NY a few years ago. I'm sure it was in the papers. I also listed many years of their activity directed at us. Many of those years pre-dated the Soviet excursion into Afghanistan.

Take a deep breath and think.

And as long as the terrorists have benign governments to hide behind, we'll never get them. Their own governments must help us, not the terrorists. State sponsors are a necessary component along with the other actions.

You're right that this is a not a war like the war on drugs is not a war.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK
What is the ISI?

"Inter-Service Intelligence", Pakistan's main intelligence service and, as I recall, both the centerpiece of Musharraf's powerbase for most of his time in office and also the major bastion in Pakistan's government for support of radical Islamic movements, including the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 24, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK
As for being Israel's bitch, you might not have noticed but they killed 3000 of us in NY a few years ago.

You have either suddenly become a very different kind of nutball than you used to be, or you really need to learn how to use pronouns.

Perhaps both.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 24, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

perpeller head:

The sort of terrorism that occurred pre-Soviet Afghanistan is of an entirely different order than what arose in the 90's after the Soviets were outsted and the Taliban and the Afghan Arabs began running wild and getting grandiose about themselves.

Remember the good ol' days when an airliner hijacking meant that the pilot wanted to fly it to Cuba? Or when the IRA would call up a London bank and tell it to evacuate before it set off a bomb?

The embassy stuff was the first harbinger of a kind of exported Islamist threat, and it didn't begin in the early 70s -- when Islamist terrorism kept itself confined to the eastern Medeterrenean. Nor are the "revolutionary" actions of 70s 80s-era Whacky Qaddafi, or the freelance thuggery of Abu Nidal quite the same thing as Osama's brand of purely religious-motivated strikes against targets outside of that region.

Sure, terrorism is as old as warfare. But the threat that the US faces is a very specific brand of it.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

And when the Democrats present better options, you'll take a bad plan over a good plan.
I know you don't believe me, but I would have voted for Lieberman in '04. In any event, many things come into play if the Dems have even a viable option. And here's the good thing that happens whether you win or no: you put pressure on the Repubs (and God knows there's a group that needs someone chewing on them) to do better. Things improve whether you win or lose. But when you have nothing, I have no reason to even consider voting Dem, and at the same time the Repubs get no pressure.

How is this rational? As I explained to Howard at 6:53. When creating change, where you start is not as important as how you proceed. Starting, however, is critical. (Forgot to point that out, so I'm revisiting at length)

You have to have the nerve to start, and you have to have the nerve to follow through. You can start in the wrong place, and you can mess up along the way; and in fact you probably will start in the wrong place and you probably will mess up along the way. Start, follow through, and correct & adjust as you proceed.

Here's why I really wish you lefties would get on board here: I don't think y'all have the stones to start, but I think you could have followed through better. Your help, in any event, would be invaluable; instead you've been a stone around the neck of the process. I currently have no faith that you would even attempt a follow through. Lieberman I had faith in (loony liberal that he is) to follow through. And that is why I would have voted for him (plus he'd fight a lot with the Repub Congress which slows everything down and gives us taxpayers a break).

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

that's the *second* message I've done this ... arrgh.

outsted = ousted

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

"One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed."

~William F. Buckley, Jr.

http://www.nationalreview.com/buckley/buckley.asp

Posted by: Joel on February 24, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

or you really need to learn how to use pronouns.
Pronoun references? We don't need no stinkin' pronoun references.

Did kind of hose that one up. Obviously (I hope) the incorrectly referenced "they" refers to terrorists, not Israelis.

Anyway, I got a big old steak waiting for me boys, and I can't let it get overcooked.
(Secular Animist isn't around, is he? Don't tell him about the steak.)

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 24, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, you guys are making it damn hard to keep after it...

Hey, don't blame us. Bush has been Emperor on this for years - right up until it became apparent that he really wasn't interested in "winning the war on terra" as much as he was interested in "winning the war on democrats."

There was almost no meaningful criticism of this little adventure (by meaningful, I mean from any political power centers) for at least two years. Anti-war protests were ignored or dramatically downsized in the media. Being against the war was - and is - a treasonous, anti-american position, we are told.

Or put another way: if all of us just shut up and said nothing, and the press wrote nothing but glowing stories of schools being painted and candy handed to children, would Iraq be in any better shape?

I think the answer is clear. Just wishing for something isn't the same thing as getting there.

Posted by: craigie on February 24, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK
You have to have the nerve to start, and you have to have the nerve to follow through.

I think the brain to figure out the right thing is more important than the nerve to start. The current administration has shown the nerve to start doing counterproductive things, and the nerve to follow through with even more counterproductive things. But I don't see any benefit there.

Here's why I really wish you lefties would get on board here: I don't think y'all have the stones to start, but I think you could have followed through better.

The reason we wouldn't "start" the mindnumbingly stupid things that Bush has done is because they are mindnumbingly stupid. Its not about "stones". Its not about unwillingness to start "doing something. We "lefties" have proposed different actions at every step of the path.

Its not a matter of only one side being willing to do "something". Its just a matter of the side in power only being willing to do stupid things.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 24, 2006 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

"One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed."

Demonstrably false. Bush got elected in 2004. That was the plan, and it worked.

Posted by: craigie on February 24, 2006 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

last point for perpeller head when he gets back and is belching loudly like a good post-steak Red (Meat) Stater -- since I have to go eat, myself:

I don't think al Qaeda hides behind legitimate governments -- or not too many of them anymore (with the possible exception of Pakistan's infiltrated -- and fucking scary -- intelligence service). He's a pariah in the Gulf States; he makes his home in a cave on a tribal frontier. His ideology is opposed to virtually all Muslim governments no matter how overtly Islamic (especially the apostate Shi'ite Islamic Republic of Iran). His ideology is too extreme to find any Muslim country that would harbor al Qaeda as known, visible al Qaeda -- though of course al Qaeda members live in all sorts of countries Islamic and Western, carrying on a double identity.

State sponsoring of that sort of terrorism I do believe is not the kind of issue Bush has made it out to be, and the countries that are most questionable in that regard, funnily enough (as cmdicely has said) tend to be our strongest allies in the GWoT.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK
Demonstrably false. Bush got elected in 2004. That was the plan, and it worked.

No, that was the Republican objective in Iraq, not the American objective.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 24, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

craigie & cmdicely:

And don't leave out Osama's objectives, as well ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

No, that was the Republican objective in Iraq, not the American objective.

Sorry, my fault. I thought only Republicans were allowed to be Americans.

Which is why, once again, I say: California should secede now!

Posted by: craigie on February 24, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

Take us with you!

Posted by: shortstop on February 24, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget us Right Coasters :)

Question -- what do we call the new countries?

I dunno about ours -- but I'm willing to go with Dumbfuckistan for flyover country :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

Take us with you!

I can imagine a country like a land-locked Philippines, where we have California, IL, NY and a couple of others, maybe with some big-ass bridges to connect them. Or blimps! Hourly blimp flights from one free, liberal zone to the next.

The children would look down over the vast midwest and say "who lives there, mommy?" and we'd say "nobody. just republicans."

Posted by: craigie on February 24, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

The children would look down over the vast midwest and say "who lives there, mommy?" and we'd say "nobody. just republicans."

You libs are so mean-spirited. Calling Republicans nobodies. How do you expect to win elections with that smug, superior attitude?

Posted by: Hot Lesbian Cheerleaders on Crack on February 24, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

I can see you in there! That cheerleader outfit doesn't fool anyone!

Well, maybe the president... but it doesn't fool any grownups!

Posted by: craigie on February 24, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Well, unfortunately we'd have to build a wall for our own security like the Israelis -- you know, to keep out Dumbfuckistan's radical Christian jihadis from blowing up our commercial centers with cheap goods from China ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

I can imagine a country like a land-locked Philippines, where we have California, IL, NY and a couple of others, maybe with some big-ass bridges to connect them. Or blimps! Hourly blimp flights from one free, liberal zone to the next.

For a lot of Hollywood, media and Washington types, it's already pretty much like that.

Map here.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 24, 2006 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

I can see you in there! That cheerleader outfit doesn't fool anyone!

Bwa!

Posted by: Hot Lesbian Cheerleaders on Crack on February 24, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

For a lot of Hollywood, media and Washington types, it's already pretty much like that.

Oh, come on. Not "a lot". I'd say more like "practically all."

Guilty! Guilty as charged!

Bwahahahaha!

Posted by: craigie on February 24, 2006 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

Can't we get you on Mastermind, Tom? "Tom Brosz; special category, the bleeding obvious."

Posted by: Hot Lesbian Cheerleaders on Crack on February 24, 2006 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Tom Brosz; special category, the bleeding obvious."

And so, with that cracking me up, the dog and I have a date with a canyon.

Ciao for now!

Posted by: craigie on February 24, 2006 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Gotta run...big evening planned that involves VALET PARKERS...er, PARKING. Bye!

Posted by: Hot Lesbian Cheerleaders on Crack on February 24, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: For a lot of Hollywood, media and Washington types, it's already pretty much like that. Map here.

You're right, the only places that vote Democratic are places where people live.

Posted by: alex on February 24, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Bob:

Have you ever actually READ the "August PDF?"

As for the persistent leftist fantasy that somehow Al Gore or someone else would have looked at this same memo and slammed security down tight on all the airlines, Gore's actions and priorities on airline security are already a matter of record.

Much is made of the August memo, which mentions attacks with explosives, and hijackings for ransom. Absolutely nothing has been made of 1998 and 1999 FAA reports that mention terrorists might "hijack a commercial jet and slam it into a U.S. landmark." (page 53 in this document.)

Posted by: tbrosz on February 24, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Flanders: Have you ever actually READ the "August PDF?"

That question would have been better addressed to Bush.

Posted by: Stefan on February 24, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

As for being Israel's bitch, you might not have noticed but they killed 3000 of us in NY a few years ago.

That was Israel?!? And here I was so damn sure it was Al Qaeda....just goes to show you never know, do you?

Posted by: Stefan on February 24, 2006 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: That was Israel?!? And here I was so damn sure it was Al Qaeda....just goes to show you never know, do you?

Those are not mutually exclusive. Come on, Al Qaeda, El Al, they sound a lot alike, don't they? Anybody who writes backwards has got to be twisted.

Posted by: alex on February 24, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

Come on, Al Qaeda, El Al, they sound a lot alike, don't they?

Not to mention Al Franken....

Posted by: Stefan on February 24, 2006 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, the old ones are the best...

Posted by: craigie on February 24, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Here's why I really wish you lefties would get on board here: I don't think y'all have the stones to start, but I think you could have followed through better.

You think Repubs have stones? Nah, today they have dough nuts.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 24, 2006 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Hot Lesbian Cheerleaders on Crack

By the way, excellent use of email addresses. And now, I'm off to hobnob with Hollywood royalty, wherein we act confused that there are any cities in this country aside from LA and NY, express our disdain for religion and faith, and generally attempt to get as "out of touch" with Real Americans as possible. Then we have group sex.

Oh, and while I was walking the dog, two men passed me - holding hands. I immediately felt my marriage starting to crumble.

Posted by: craigie on February 24, 2006 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

craigie: two men passed me - holding hands

That was just W and some prince from the UAE.

Posted by: alex on February 24, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Petrosexuality is a crime against nature.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

craigie:

And now, I'm off to hobnob with Hollywood royalty, wherein we act confused that there are any cities in this country aside from LA and NY, express our disdain for religion and faith, and generally attempt to get as "out of touch" with Real Americans as possible. Then we have group sex.

You got almost all of that attitude down right, but I think the group sex is mostly just wishful thinking.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 24, 2006 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz:

"Mostly"

:)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 25, 2006 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

You got almost all of that attitude down right, but I think the group sex is mostly just wishful thinking.

Oh, you sweet, naive, innocent man.

Posted by: Stefan on February 25, 2006 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

I say: California should secede now!

But, but, where then would states like Kansas and Wyoming get the porn they so desperately crave?

Wait - on second thought, don't answer that.

Posted by: Irony Man on February 25, 2006 at 2:26 AM | PERMALINK

Check out these Asian-on-white (Asian guys fucking white girls) porn sites.

www.asian-man.com
www.asianguyonwhitegirl.com
www.butteroncream.com
www.pinkcrave.com
www.bordello4am.com
www.phuckfumasters.com
Not yet online (www.asiansonblondes.com)
And god knows how many more.

Posted by: Donald on February 25, 2006 at 3:02 AM | PERMALINK

The stuff I miss when I leave to do silly things like enjoy a nice steaming bowl of crawfish stew, catch up with Bleak House episode I taped and feed the cat!

Wowsa!

I see that ya'll are proposing to make that famous New Yorker (I can't put it italics - 'cause I still don't know how to format with 'tags' - and I've discovered that importing formatted text doesn't work either) cover reality.

>>waving as ya'll jet over us, spewing fumes and sipping lattes

We may be outnumbered - here in Lafayette Parish Kerry got 28% and I was damned well one of 'em - but now I discover we're just non-persons, too.

And here I thought we were, ya know, a brave and much beleaguered minority of educated and reality based citizens.

Who knew?

Posted by: CFShep on February 25, 2006 at 7:35 AM | PERMALINK

"WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The only Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support has been downgraded to a level requiring them to fight with American troops backing them up, the Pentagon said Friday."

http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/02/24/iraq.security/index.html

So now that the Iraqis are standing down, its time for us to . . . uh . . . nevermind.

Posted by: Joel on February 25, 2006 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK

Yep, Joel.

Went from one to....ummmm....none.

And yet, here's Uncle Dick on FauxNews the other day:

"What we did in Iraq was exactly the right thing to do. If I had it to recommend all over again, I would recommend exactly the same course of action."

Good morning.

Posted by: CFShep on February 25, 2006 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

Tom, I ran into the HLCOC--looking a little the worse for wear, of course--this morning, and they said to tell you, apropos of your group sex remark, "Never stop believing, cute thing."

I never participate in "flyover" remarks, CF. (Well, living in Chicago, it'd be pretty stoopid to do so, wouldn't it? Hardly anyone in NYC or LA ever notices how much heavy lifting Illinois does at the polls.) But when the Great Schism comes, you're either going to have to move in with one of us or help us convince your red* brothers and sisters to move out and let us take Louisiana for our new nation.

I vote for the latter. Those bastards don't deserve all the good cooking and warm weather.

*funny how the meaning of that word has changed...

Posted by: shortstop on February 25, 2006 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

But when the Great Schism comes, you're either going to have to move in with one of us or help us convince your red* brothers and sisters to move out and let us take Louisiana for our new nation.

I vote for the latter. Those bastards don't deserve all the good cooking and warm weather.

Posted by: shortstop

Merci beaucoup, cheri. You're such a doll. I'll save ya some carwfish stew, though I warn ya, it's a little on the spicy side.

>>sniff

Now I have to scuttle off. I have to get stuff done before I'm caught in a maze of parade barricades.

Laissez les bons temps, ya'll.

Allons a Lafayette.

Posted by: CFShep on February 25, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Can we hope that many arabs will be outraged that Al-Qaieda would use sacred shrines as a politcal football, and turn rabidly against them?

Posted by: Neil' on February 25, 2006 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

CFShep:

New Orleans is a truly cosmopolitan city, one of our most diverse and certainly most culturally significant. There's no question we'd include you on our side of the Great Schism -- though you'd have to saw yourself off from the rest of LA to be sure :)

Looking at your other threads on literary subjects, it's doubtless you've read A Confederacy of Dunces -- and judging by your temperament in these messages you almost certainly enjoyed it :)

Do you think that was an accurate portrayal of NO in that time frame?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 25, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Can we hope that many arabs will be outraged that Al-Qaieda would use sacred shrines as a politcal football, and turn rabidly against them?
Posted by: Neil'

I'd suppose so. You're free to hope for pretty much anything.

Hope is cheap. I'd further suppose that you're aware that hoping for something is not equivalent to believing that it's likely.

See, I hope that rdw and his ilk will STFU and go away. But that doesn't mean I expect it to actually come to pass. I should be so lucky.

Oy.

I freely admit that I'd sorely miss the entertainment value of their serial non sequitors and howlers such as 'viles of blood' and 'stairs over the black abyss'.

That stuff's priceless.

Posted by: CFShep on February 25, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Or from another thread, rdw posts this remarkable employment statistic:

"Few people work past 53."

'Course, the topic of the thread was incompetence, so it certainly served as an illustration.

Posted by: Joel on February 25, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

I don't understand why everyone is so pessimistic about the red-blue strategic situation. Team Blue has Team Red pretty much surrounded. Now all we have to do is tighten the noose. What are they gonna do, escape through Texas to Mexico?

Posted by: brooksfoe on February 25, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Hope is cheap. I'd further suppose that you're aware that hoping for something is not equivalent to believing that it's likely.

People without hope always write stuff like that.


Meanwhile, the concept of "civil war" covers lots of cases. The US civil war cost about 500,000 casualties (plus those who died of disease while in camp) in less than 1700 days, for a daily death rate of about 300. that in a population of about 33 million, similar to Iraq's today. Despite the war and the loss of life, the people of the North continued to increase their total material wealth substantially, year on year. The Spanish Civil War was more calamitous; the Greek civil war (post WWII) and the English civil war were less calamitous. The Russian and Chinese civil wars that consolidated the power of the Communist Party were more awful by far than the American civil war, which I took as a starting point because everyone is familiar with it.

Compared to the size of the population and total wealth involved, the disruptions that are ongoing in Iraq are of lower magnitude than the disruptions that occurred within the American colonies during the Revolution, when the loyalists fled to Canada upon losing power.

The worst outcome that is highly likely is that Iraq will split into three parts; that the US military will prevent each part from conquering the other; that violence will occur in the border regions where Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds intermingle; and that the Sunnis will collect some revenues from the oil that is pumped out through western Iraq and Syria.

With the senior clergy of all factions determinedly calling for peace, the most likely good outcome is that the central government, with its growing army, will be able to unite the factions into a single country with semiautonomus regions, like the American states or the Swiss cantons -- or like the partition of Cyprus.

The unrest that we are reading about now is less than the NY city riots of the American civil war, but greater than the Rodney King riots. In terms of material damage only, less than the riots in France recently, which is actually ongoing at the same rate as before the large outbreak.

When viewed as a rate, casualties and destruction per day, the situation is less severe than the quiet destruction of Iraq during Saddam Hussein's last years.

The Sunni/Baathist/jihadist alliance is hoping that they can kill enough people (whom they kill doesn't matter that much) to cause the Americans to lose hope. There is no reason not to hope that the forces for peace are stronger than the forces for conquest.

Posted by: republicrat on February 25, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Repub shorter version: It's just that one guy running by with a vase. Stuff happens.

Posted by: CFShep on February 25, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat:

> Compared to the size of the population and total wealth
> involved, the disruptions that are ongoing in Iraq are of
> lower magnitude than the disruptions that occurred within
> the American colonies during the Revolution, when the
> loyalists fled to Canada upon losing power.

And there were no IEDs in the Colonies. Nor was there the kind of
medical care that allowed people with hideous wounds to survive. Nor
was the flintlock as lethally reliable as the AK-47. Nor was there
a dependency on electricity, water and sewage infrastructures, or a
necessity for regional trade to provide the essentials of survival.
Nor did the Colonies depend on a single export to fund this trade.

While there were differences in religious traditions (Anglicans
in the South, Calvinists in the North, Catholics in the middle),
there was no tribalism, thus no bonds of identity and loyalty which
could threaten an emerging national consensus -- only issues like
slavery, which -- intractible as it was -- could be deferred.

To call the level of violence and sectarian animosity anywhere
near analogous to the American Revolution is a serious exercise in
revisionism and wishful thinking: "Hopefulness" corrupted. There
may have been marginal distinctions, but there were no vast cultural,
ethnic or religious differences between a patriot and a Royalist.

> The worst outcome that is highly likely is that Iraq will
> split into three parts; that the US military will prevent
> each part from conquering the other;

Like the US military refusing to stop the reprisal bombings of
Sunni mosques. No, republicrat -- as Zalmay Kahlilzad has made
clear, the US military has no desire to intercede in sectarian
conflicts and US taxpayers have no desire to fund these grudge
matches. It's the only way for the ISF to step into the breach.

But the ISF, to increase its numbers, has recruited sectarian
militias (at least militias have a modicum of training), and
are now reaping that terrible whirlwind. As security in Iraq
deteriorates, the notion of an Iraqi identity dissolves.

> that violence will occur in the border regions where
> Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds intermingle; and that the
> Sunnis will collect some revenues from the oil that
> is pumped out through western Iraq and Syria.

In other words -- ethnic cleansing -- which will leave the Sunnis,
the sector of Iraqi society most well-educated, secular and amenable
to democracy, shut into the fruitless, oil-free desert of Anbar.

> With the senior clergy of all factions
> determinedly calling for peace,

Right. Like Sestani saying that if the ISF can't protect the mosques,
"the believers will" -- a virtual call to arms for the militias.

> the most likely good outcome is that the central government,
> with its growing army, will be able to unite the factions into
> a single country with semiautonomus regions, like the American
> states or the Swiss cantons -- or like the partition of Cyprus.

Which is looking less and less likely. The Sunnis walked out of
government talks. Zalmay's becoming marginalized -- scourged by
the Shi'a for calling to enfranchise the Sunni Ba'athists, scourged
by the Sunnis for not protecting them from reprisal killings. The
central government gets weaker and looks less legitimate daily.
And in that vaccuum, the militias and the firebrand clerics take up
the slack. Right now, the clerics have by far the most legitimacy.

> The unrest that we are reading about now is less than the NY
> city riots of the American civil war, but greater than the
> Rodney King riots. In terms of material damage only, less
> than the riots in France recently, which is actually
> ongoing at the same rate as before the large outbreak.

But vastly more slaughter from car bombs and suicide vests.

> When viewed as a rate, casualties and destruction per
> day, the situation is less severe than the quiet
> destruction of Iraq during Saddam Hussein's last years.

That is a bald lie and you have no chance of documenting it.

> The Sunni/Baathist/jihadist alliance is hoping that they can
> kill enough people (whom they kill doesn't matter that much)

You're truly uninformed. There's been a major split in the
insurgency between the nationalists and the jihadis (who have
been fighting pitched battles among themselves) -- and even
Zawahiri took Zarqawi to task for killing so many Muslims.

We hope to exploit that rift, but actions like the Samarra mosque
bombing make it exceedingly difficult. In a culture that considers
collective punishment morally justified, one's tribe and sect
transcend ideological committments to a vapor called "democracy."

> to cause the Americans to lose hope. There is no reason not to hope
> that the forces for peace are stronger than the forces for conquest.

It 10-20-50 years, sure. In a time frame that sustains the
patience of the American electorate, not remotely likely.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 25, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of A Confederacy of Dunces, did anyone else ever think that Norman Rogers might be Ignatius Reilly come to life?

Posted by: shortstop on February 25, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

And CF: I scoff at warnings of extreme piquancy. I am, madam, no piker in that department. Bring it on!

Posted by: shortstop on February 25, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of A Confederacy of Dunces, did anyone else ever think that Norman Rogers might be Ignatius Reilly come to life?
Posted by: shortstop

I'm willing to bet that Ignatius dressed better.

I wouldn't go so far as 'extreme piquancy'. That'd be inappropriate for a seafood stew. I reserve that for dishes in the family clearly labelled "Sauce Piquant".

Not to the level of pain, still. That'd be rude.

But it could clear out your sinuses a treat.

>>grin

(ask git to forward my restaurant story to you)

Posted by: CFShep on February 25, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Who is Norman Rogers?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 25, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Bob, I'm, like, dude, so glad you didn't ask who Ignatius Reilly is.

Attaboy.

"Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much." Oscar Wilson

Posted by: CFShep on February 25, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

I'm willing to bet that Ignatius dressed better.

Yellowed sheet--"Campaign for Moorish Dignity," was it?--and all.

Yeah, I s'pose spicy and piquant aren't really synonyms. But I love them both.

I also love restaurant stories, so git, send it over. Here's an unsolicited one: An annoyingly condescending waiter in a London Indian restaurant kept telling us the dishes we were ordering were too hot for us. We kept politely reassuring him that we were no strangers to Indian food and that we really wanted what we said we did.

He came back with food so hot it made tears pour down our cheeks. Clearly, the jerk had told the kitchen crew to crank it up several dozen notches; this stuff was so hot as to render it tasteless, which is not exactly the point of Indian cuisine. He stood there smirking while we ate nonchalantly, refusing to give him the satisfaction of hearing us wail. When he went into the kitchen, we both dived into the naan basket and, I'm ashamed to say, actually stole a couple of pieces from the table of the guy next to us who was in the bathroom at the time. Hey, our need was greater.

But I've never had any problems with heat (or spice or piquancy) anywhere else. I'd weigh 800 pounds if I lived in New Orleans.

Posted by: shortstop on February 25, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

But I've never had any problems with heat (or spice or piquancy) anywhere else. I'd weigh 800 pounds if I lived in New Orleans.
Posted by: shortstop

It's Lafayette, Acadianna in general, you need to fear. Lafayette went ovah to NOLA, to a big deal culinary competition, took everything in sight offa dose guys but the silver in desserts. Cleaned their clocks.

heh. I had the same thing happen to me once, long ago in Dallas before I'd earned my chilihead spurs, in a really good little joint called Hunan Palace. Dishes practically melted out from under the food.

Whew. But, it was good, cher. I cried.

Even I am a bit leery of asking for 'Thai hot' though.

Posted by: CFShep on February 25, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

The opening passage suffices to give a glimpse of Ignatius' satorial slendor:

" A giant hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once."

Chapter One. 'A Confederacy of Dunces" John Kennedy Toole

Posted by: CFShep on February 25, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

er...sartorial

I write for a living. if I had to type for a living I'd curl up and die.

Posted by: CFShep on February 25, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

mmmmmmm, Acadiana....

...remembering a dinner in Breaux Bridge long ago...my God, it makes me weep to think of it even now...

Gotta get back out there and get stuff done. Have a fine Saturday, y'all.

Posted by: shortstop on February 25, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

CFShep:

> Bob, I'm, like, dude, so glad you didn't ask who Ignatius Reilly is.

Why would I do that?

> Attaboy.

What's the purpose of the snark, Cyn? I thought
I was just making pleasant conversation.

> "Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys
> them so much." Oscar Wilson

You know, I may have misread you as an Islamophobe in one of the
cartoonifada threads, but other than that you seem a lefty like me.

Why would you even attempt to imply that I'm your "enemy"?

And WTF is Norman Rogers?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 25, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

The website of the Multi-National Forces in Iraq has an interesting take on the situation.

Posted by: Alfred E. Neuman on February 25, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

No, Bob. Honestly, sweetie. I bear you no malice whatsoever. Truly. We get to batting stuff back and forth and sometimes what we are pleased to call our 'witty repartee' hits a by-stander.

The quote tag had nothing to do with you. I find these neat shiny objects...

No snark at all. Cross my slightly left-libertarian centrist heart.

Posted by: CFShep on February 25, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

CFShep:

Not to put too fine a point on it, because it truly is pointless to go on about misfired repartee when there's no issue of intent (and I, of course, don't believe there is) ... but for the record, I don't think I'm quite completely insane to have read your message that way ...

I mean ... craigie, shortstop and I were snarking at flyover country (Hell, I called it Dumbfuckistan) and you expressed a bit of chagrin. I mentioned Toole's book as a gesture of amends, because I think it's a helluva social picture of New Orleans for the time it was written, and it's sometimes screamingly funny, besides. "And what's with Turkey In The Straw? Kindergarten teachers are always chanting it like sorcerers." Those Big Chief tablets were really a precursor of some of our favorite troll rants :)

So why would you have have any clue to suspect I might not know who "Idnatius" (as Santa would say) J. Reilly is? Have I given you the impression of being *that* much of a literary dillettante that I drop the names of books not having read them?

I mean, given this context, it's hard not to see that tag in a certain light ... Speaking of tags -- did you post on BBSs back in the day? If you did, do you remember the Blue Wave offline mail reader and its tagline generation system? Heh, when Y2K rendered that software obsolete (the BBS was in its dying days), I really mourned for that capability ...

And -- for the third fricken' time -- who the H. E. double toothpicks is Norman Rogers?

If you're sincere about the lack of malice, you could make amends by answering this ever-burning question :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 25, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Bob, I can only assume she means rapper 'Terminator X' (Canadian) although there's a very remote chance she means the Philadephia chess master. The context is a bit unclear.

>>So why would you have have any clue to suspect I might not know who "Idnatius" (as Santa would say) J. Reilly is? Have I given you the impression of being *that* much of a literary dillettante that I drop the names of books not having read them?

I missed that you brought "Confederacy" into the mix. Whizzed right past me. Was still on my first cup of SOLA hi-test when I noticed we'd been read out of the Union.

Not a scintilla of malice. Not an iota. Nada. Zip.

Not now; not ever. You're not a literary dillettante. I'm not into Islamofascism, whatever that might be.

"With the breakdown of the Medieval system, the gods of Chaos, Lunacy, and Bad Taste gained ascendancy." Ingantius was writing in one of his Big Chief tablets."

That's not directed at you either.

Chill?

Posted by: CFShep on February 25, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Much is made of the August memo, which mentions attacks with explosives, and hijackings for ransom. Absolutely nothing has been made of 1998 and 1999 FAA reports that mention terrorists might "hijack a commercial jet and slam it into a U.S. landmark."

Wow, tbrosz, that's a dishonest argument even for you. If you prevent the hijacking, it doesn't matter what the al Qaeda terrorists intended to do with the aircraft -- kill all the hostages, slam the jets into buildings, or sell the planes to the highest bidded.

Hijacking aircraft is a kown threat for which there are known countermeasures. You admit that there was a warning about al Qaeda hijacking aircraft in the PDB.

Now: Name one action Bush took in response to this threat. Just one. Go ahead.

You know damn well, tbrosz, he did nothing. Hence your even-more-dishonest-than usual argument. And yet Bush's inaction is just hunky-dory with you. Shame on you, tbrosz.

Yet another reason you can't trust Republicans with national security. Sheesh.

Posted by: Gregory on February 25, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

"And -- for the third fricken' time -- who the H. E. double toothpicks is Norman Rogers?"

Another troll. The illegitimate spawn of and illicit tryst between Al and rdw.

Posted by: Joel on February 25, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

"And -- for the third fricken' time -- who the H. E. double toothpicks is Norman Rogers?"

Another troll. The illegitimate spawn of and illicit tryst between Al and rdw.
Posted by: Joel

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

My alternate choice for a tag for that post was Fran Lebowitz: "I do no believe in God. I believe in cashmere."

I can see now that that would have been the right way to go.

Posted by: CFShep on February 25, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, make that ". . . an illicit tryst . . . "

Either way, I suppose it paints a picture.

Posted by: Joel on February 25, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

And I meant 'not' for 'no'

>>>jeez

I've fallen and I can't get up.

Posted by: CFShep on February 25, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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