Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 29, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE NEWS FROM BAGHDAD....Riverbend watches the news on Iraqi TV:

I was reading the little scrolling news headlines on the bottom of the page.... Suddenly, one of them caught my attention and I sat up straight on the sofa, wondering if I had read it correctly....The line said:

The translation:

The Ministry of Defense requests that civilians do not comply with the orders of the army or police on nightly patrols unless they are accompanied by coalition forces working in that area.

Thats how messed up the country is at this point....The situation is so bad on the security front that the top two ministries in charge of protecting Iraqi civilians cannot trust each other. The Ministry of Defense cant even trust its own personnel, unless they are accompanied by American coalition forces.

Are we making progress in Iraq that the defeatist American media routinely ignores because they've been overwhelmed by their single-minded loathing of George Bush? Read the whole thing and decide for yourself.

Kevin Drum 4:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (99)

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Comments

More here:

Who is in control of Iraq?

Posted by: WPB on March 29, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe things are messed up in Iraq, but I read this statement much differently from you, I think the concern is more about imposters claiming to be Iraqi police or Security when they are not, to ensure they are genuine, make sure that they have coalition troops with them.

That's not a whole lot better, but it's not the security forces going at each other either.

Posted by: Joel B. on March 29, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't look like we'll be "standing down" any time soon if the can't "stand up" without us there holding their hand.

Posted by: Brian A. on March 29, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe things are messed up in Iraq, but I read this statement much differently from you, I think the concern is more about imposters claiming to be Iraqi police or Security when they are not, to ensure they are genuine, make sure that they have coalition troops with them. Posted by: Joel B.

Duh! Let me guess, you used to work for the CPA?

Posted by: Jeff II on March 29, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Oh sure, that's his translation. I'm sure the White House translation will be much more accurate, and will reflect the number of kittens that were painted and kites that children took home and ice cream cones that were opened, in the vast paradise that is Iraq.

Posted by: craigie on March 29, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Tacit admittance that the police and army have been overrun by sectarian militia. Problem is if an Iraqi's door gets busted open at 4am and a bunch of soldiers rush in, screaming and brandishing weapons, will the "non-compliers" get shot?

Posted by: Pyrrho on March 29, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Riverbend watches the news on Iraqi TV

Riverbend - a baathist, Sadaamist sympathizer who blames everything bad on Bush and America and constantly infers the worst intentions in Bush and American troops. But Kevin Drum believes her! Why am I not surprised?

Posted by: Al on March 29, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Maybe things are messed up in Iraq, but I read this statement much differently from you, I think the concern is more about imposters claiming to be Iraqi police or Security when they are not, to ensure they are genuine, make sure that they have coalition troops with them.

That's not a whole lot better, but it's not the security forces going at each other either."

Posted by: Joel B

Impersonation of official is a problem in many countries, true. However:

(1) This usually doesn't lead to the twice (thrice?) weekly discovery of a couple of dozen bodies of people tortured and killed.

(2) We've seen admissions by officials that the security forces have, in many cases, been taken over by militias.

Posted by: Barry on March 29, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to counter accusations of "junk science" from the White House by accusing them of practicing "junk policy."

Posted by: craigie on March 29, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

The insurgents frequently use stolen uniforms. This warning will have been showing Iraqis a way to tell real security forces from impostors.

Really, if you believe stuff on her blog, you're beyond the factual world.

Posted by: ronb on March 29, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

My loathing of George Bush is not "single-minded"
at all. Even when so engaged, I am able to function as a normal citizen; shopping, eating, sleeping, etc.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on March 29, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin "the sky is falling" Drum cracks me up.

Posted by: Bark At The Moon on March 29, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

There is a problem with stolen uniforms worn by insurgents and criminals, but the major problem is that there are legitimate police and army whose allegiance is primarily to specific party militias.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on March 29, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

For those of you who still insist on treating Iraq as a partisan issue, see here:

The Belmont Club

Seriously, it is way past time to face reality.

Posted by: WPB on March 29, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Then I'm sure you find the death and destruction in Iraq fucking hilarious.

Posted by: n.o.t.l.f. on March 29, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Funny how American Buushists can find even the most disturbing news to be evidence of their own inerrancy.

Posted by: walt on March 29, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Al, it's not just some "Ba'athist, Saddamist sympathizer" saying that the Interior Ministry is running death squads.

The US military is saying so.

This may explain why television announcements are warning about Iraqi army or police not accompanied by Americans.

Riverbend is a Sunni (with Shiites in her family). She's a professional woman who used to be able to work, to go out on the street in jeans and a T-shirt in the Saddam days, who now can't work and has to veil if she goes out so she won't be attacked by the Shiite mullahs that George Bush put into power. So I guess that makes her a Saddamist in the eyes of Al.

Posted by: Joe Buck on March 29, 2006 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK


The Ministry of Defense requests that civilians do not comply with the orders of the army or police on nightly patrols unless they are accompanied by coalition forces working in that area.

No matter which side of the debate over Iraq's security one favors, this warning is really nothing more than an invitation to suicide. Not complying with army or police orders, whether or not they are accompanied by coalition forces, is a sure way to get a bullet in the brain. (Not that complying with them will necessarily save you from that fate.)


Posted by: jayarbee on March 29, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for covering this story. This is very troubling. I think someone needs to ask the White House what the heck is going on.

Posted by: enough on March 29, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Well AL we could believe you but that would just stupid.

Posted by: Right minded on March 29, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

How dare you WPB, didn't you see Al say that Kevin's example is wrong, that means when you shoot down one that they are all wrong...sheesh, seriously, I get sick at the pot shots that are taken who cares if Kevin's source is whomever, they are repeat what was dictated by the Ministry there, so instead of going "wow thats messed up yo!" we have to try to take the messenger out, and hope the information gets buried with it.

Posted by: Jeremy on March 29, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

I will believe Iraq is safe when Hannity,Rush,Snow,Ann,and Humme all go over there and show us around.Then and only then will I Believe that things are getting better.

Posted by: Right minded on March 29, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Really, if you believe stuff on her blog, you're beyond the factual world.

Prove it, ronb. Prove it or shut yer hole.

Posted by: Stew Pitt on March 29, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Really, if you believe stuff on her blog, you're beyond the factual world.

So that is how you keep your head from exploding.

Interesting. I'd been thinking you sit with your eyes shut and your fingers in your ears yelling "I can't hear you, I can't hear you" but apparantly I was wrong.

Posted by: Tripp on March 29, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

By the way righies we won the Iraq part of the war,The bad part is we keep sticking around and get in to one more mission and then another and another, We should have went home after Saddam was capurted by the Kurds.

Posted by: Right minded on March 29, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Really, if you believe stuff on her blog, you're beyond the factual world.

Yeah, you idiots! You listen to guys like ronb. From his parents' basement, he has a much better handle on what's happening on the ground in Iraq than people who are actually in Iraq.

Posted by: Vladi G on March 29, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Right minded:

You have to remember that for "Al", our friendly official troll, information about Iraq that, you, know, actually comes from an Iraqi is automatically suspect - after all, they're nothing but of a bunch of weird foreigners, what do they know?

Posted by: Jay C on March 29, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

You're overblowing this again. The streets of Baghdad look just like a market street in the suburbs of Istanbul. Suspiciously so.

Posted by: Mornington Crescent on March 29, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, for the citizens, it may turn out that having US personnel standing around guarantees that they know that this guy isn't an imposter.

Stealing uniforms worked wonders, eh?

Wonder what we would do if some extremist wackos started pretending to be police...

Posted by: Crissa on March 29, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK


Yeah, Al. Things are looking up in Des Moines.

A new elementary school was completed today in downtown Des Monines. Meanwhile, only 30 people were beheaded while shopping at the Safeway and a mere 18 of Des Moine's finest were blown up.

Just an ordinary day in Des Moines...

Al, dear, try translating. It might help you get a grip on what's going on.

Posted by: n on March 29, 2006 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Really, if you believe stuff on her blog, you're beyond the factual world.

Riverbend is indeed shrill. But her writing is compelling because it gives you a real flavor for how a certain segment of the Iraqi population is feeling. If you want to balance it out check Iraq the Model and Healing Iraq.

That being said, it is extremely fitting that the people that gleefully pick at the scab that was the horrors of 9/11 would seek to underplay the very tangible threat of violence faced by millions of Iraqis everyday.

Posted by: enozinho on March 29, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Another from Al Jazeera:

"Iraq's security minister accused US and Iraqi forces of killing 37 unarmed civilians in the mosque after tying them up."

This is the same minister that says, don't go out at night unless you are holding hands with an American?

Let me get this all straight. The Iraqi minister in charge of security says, really, trust no one, not even him. It sounds more like the problem is Arab insanity, perhaps an undiagnosed disease.

Posted by: Matt on March 29, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Al refers to Riverbend as "a baathist, Sadaamist sympathizer". Is that true? Where in the world is Al getting this?

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on March 29, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

It seems the Iraqis trust the American armed forces a lot more than the American left.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 29, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Riverbend - a baathist, Sadaamist sympathizer who blames everything bad on Bush and America and constantly infers the worst intentions in Bush and American troops. But Kevin Drum believes her! Why am I not surprised? Posted by: Al on March 29, 2006 at 4:26 PM


Al, you live in a constant stupor so your lack of suprise is not suprising.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on March 29, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Riverbend is a Sunni. And she doesn't like Bush or the U.S. occupation. Apparently, that automatically makes her a Baathist & a Sadaamist sympathizer.

It's important to know where she's coming from . . . but her being Sunni doesn't mean she is making everything up wholecloth.

Posted by: Librul on March 29, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Riverbend - a baathist, Sadaamist sympathizer who blames everything bad on Bush and America and constantly infers the worst intentions in Bush and American troops. But Kevin Drum believes her! Why am I not surprised?"

It's all the negative angle fit to blog about. Notice how Kevin would never link to Iraq the Model.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 29, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

War sucks.

No Als, Charlies, tbroz's can argue otherwise.

If you want to disappear in this country all you have to do is say/write/imply/etc. the following:

What we did in Iraq should occur in America.

Why not? Aren't we all infidels?

Yes, Virginia, hell happens.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on March 29, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

It seems the Iraqis trust the American armed forces a lot more than the American left.

No, it's an unfortunate situation of being caught between the frying pan and the fire.

If it's down a choice between being dragged away by Americans to a prison where I'm beaten and tortured, but stand a 99% chance of getting out alive

versus

being dragged away by a militia, beaten, tortured horribly (acid, drills, sawing off fingers and toes) and have a 100% chance of being murdered

I'd pick #1 also. One of those "Lesser of two evils" situations you'd rather not be in, in the first place.

Posted by: Librul on March 29, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

It's Saddam's fault.

The President says so.


Clinton and his penis are breathing a great sigh of relief.

Posted by: lib on March 29, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Al refers to Riverbend as "a baathist, Sadaamist sympathizer"...Where in the world is Al getting this?

Do you reeeeally want the answer to that question, Daryl? No, I don't think you do.

Posted by: SED on March 29, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

The Iraqi Army has been doing a pretty good job for the most part. However, there are serious problems with parts of the police and other security personnel. Quite a number of them have loyalties to Sadr and other militia groups, and will not move to stop militia actions.

This photo indicates a large part of the problem.

Riverbend's postings and viewpoints need to take into account that she held a privileged position in Iraqi society prior to Saddam's fall, but most of what I have seen on her blog, as far as facts and observations go, have been reliable information.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 29, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

"If it's down a choice between being dragged away by Americans to a prison where I'm beaten and tortured, but stand a 99% chance of getting out alive"

Thanks for illustrating my point that the American left have no faith in the US servicemen, while Iraqis do.

Of course, showing no faith in men and women in the armed forces is just the left's way of honoring them.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 29, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

So in a way, Al is good for your traffic. I admitted I clicked on comments to find out how Baghdad Al would spin this.

Posted by: jerry on March 29, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

ronb: The insurgents frequently use stolen uniforms. This warning will have been showing Iraqis a way to tell real security forces from impostors. ...Really, if you believe stuff on her blog, you're beyond the factual world.

Joe Buck's cite at 4:48 PM, The US military is saying so, makes your comment seem uninformed. Let me help out with some excerpts with emphasis:

Iraq has launched an investigation into claims by the US military that an Iraqi interior ministry "death squad" has been targeting Sunni Arab Iraqis.
The probe comes after a US general revealed the arrest of 22 policemen allegedly on a mission to kill a Sunni.
"We have found one of the death squads. They are part of the police force," US Maj Gen Joseph Peterson said.
[...]
But Gen Peterson said he believed other death squads were operating within the Iraqi security forces.
Joe Buck's cite is from a BBC News report dated Feb. 16, 2006. This latest news from Riverbend is believable based on the report from the U.S. military.

I suppose FF and his ilk will say Maj Gen Peterson is just being negative. Or they'll just make up stuff that isn't true. Like FF at 5:53 PM.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 29, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Damn you tbrosz, you are at your worst when I have to agree with you. I prefer you when you rant like Al.

But basically, what you say is true of any reporter. Human reporters cannot be neutral or objective or unbiased, and though it may be good if they try to be, the best thing for everyone is if they would acknowlege they are human and just be upfront with their background and agendas.

Posted by: jerry on March 29, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

"We have found one of the death squads. They are part of the police force," US Maj Gen Joseph Peterson said.

*sigh* Why does US Maj. Gen. Joseph Peterson hate America?

Posted by: Stefan on March 29, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK


I figure we're going to dump the Shi'ites and install a Yezidi government, even though there are barely enough of them to staff the dungeons. It's a natural match.

Posted by: gcochran on March 29, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Instapundit likes to cover news from Iraq. I am sure he'll be all over this.

Posted by: lk on March 29, 2006 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Riverbend is a Sunni. And she doesn't like Bush or the U.S. occupation. Apparently, that automatically makes her a Baathist & a Sadaamist sympathizer.

No, it makes her discerning.

Posted by: E. Henry Thripshaw on March 29, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Ned: Riverbend's postings and viewpoints need to take into account that she held a privileged position in Iraqi society prior to Saddam's fall...

Certainly. We would indeed be fools not to take into consideration speakers' economic and social positions; what they stand to lose if those change; and how desperate and willing to eschew honor and truth they may become if they sense that their particular house of cards is going down.

Posted by: shortstop on March 29, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

All of you are wasting your time on second and higher order concerns.

The primary question that should be addresssed is very simple: Why are we in Iraq now, and why are we putting our kids in the harms way there?

Posted by: lib on March 29, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

When I saw W's twins enlist and sign up for in-country Iraq duty, I realized the insurgency was indeed in its last throes. Or was that a panic-induced hallucination after contemplating the state of the planet this morning?

Lib is correct: why are we there anymore? And why does downtown Baghdad look like Istanbul? Can pretending things are going well help?

Posted by: Sparko on March 29, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK


The Interior Ministry has been running death squads that grab people in the daytime, in public, then torture them to death in moderately creative ways that can involve acid and power drills. To be fair, there has been plenty of provocation.
The Interior ministry is run by various Shi'ite organizations: personnel are interchangeable with their militias.

Khalilzad says that those Shi'ite militias are now more of a threat than the mostly-Sunni insurgents - and not because the insurgents have become weakers. They're still busy.

Those Shi'ites are the only Arab allies we have in Iraq, the only side we have. Price tag, at least $300 billion.

Anyone who says or thinks that this has been a good deal for the US is a brain-damaged traitor.


Posted by: gcochran on March 29, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an American who once lived in Brazil for a while, and I go to Rio de Janeiro for vacation when I can. But Rio has a reputation for being a violent city, so invariably someone always asks before I go: "Is it safe?" I always say the same thing: "There are parts of the city I wouldn't go at night, but if you're a tourist, its actually surprisingly hard to get in trouble in Rio if you're no actively seeking it out."

Now, Freedom Fighter and others who would like to insist that things are going well in Iraq when for whatever reason there seems to be evidence to the contrary. The advice I can provide them... most of us would believe it if you went and posted plenty of photos online. I'm sure Baghdad is delightful this time of year, no to mention exotic. Walk the streets, look around, and take plenty of pictures. But... have the decency not to impose your costs on the rest of us - don't travel with a military escort, don't fly in military aircraft. I've found you only really experience a place if you experience it the way the locals do.

Unless you're doing that, its hard to assume you really believe what you are saying.

Posted by: cactus on March 29, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Why are we in Iraq now, and why are we putting our kids in the harms way there?

Because like it or not, a failed state in Iraq is in no one's best interest. To me it seems there should be two goals in Iraq: First, get out as fast as we can with a government that can reasonably secure the country. Second, repudiate the "Bush Doctrine". Not for the sake of partisanship, but for the sake of what many, perhaps most, believe is the good of the country in the future.

Posted by: enozinho on March 29, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Cactus -

O que voce ta falando?! Fala serio my brother.

Posted by: enozinho on March 29, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Wonderin what it would take before the wingnutters realize that Iraq is an "utter debacle"...

Something like this, perhaps?

http://www.dailynews.com/ontv/ci_3641046

Posted by: Wonderin on March 29, 2006 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

Ad hominems against Drum.

That's what some of you trolls are reduced to. Sheesh.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 29, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Muito verdadeiro, Cactus. 'Brigada.

Posted by: shortstop on March 29, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

haha, how many people speak Portuguese in this thread? I speak Portuguese (badly) and classical Arabic. Both are surprisingly useful for picking up girls, but not for much else.

Posted by: enozinho on March 29, 2006 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

To answer Kevin Drum's question:

Children!
Yes you are making progress in Iraq.
Things are going great.
You are painting schools at a prodigious rate.
The Iraqi people love you.
They would throw rose buds...
But everyone knows roses don't bloom in the desert.
They would throw dates...
But all the date orchards have been plowed to root out the insurgents.
They would throw rocks...
But they are saving those for the Israelis...

So keep up the good work!
Onward Christian soldiers.
Onward.

(Discliamer: Jesus the Capitalist owns a sizable percentage of Halliburton stock.)

Posted by: Jesus the Capitalist on March 29, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Has anybody noticed that the elected Iraqis have not been able to form a government even though the constitution that was passed says that they are way past the deadline?

Has anybody noticed that the Iraqi constitution has been violated and ignored left and right and does not have the slightest chance of surviving?

Has anybody tried lately to name the mechanisms by which things are supposed to get better in Iraq?

No government. An already discarded constitution. Militias running wild.

I think we are going to have to disown our 51st state. But we've got to elect somebody with the guts and smarts to do it.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on March 29, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Both are surprisingly useful for picking up girls.

Hmmm, never tried it for that. If I'd had the squad with me, maybe...

Posted by: shortstop on March 29, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

Because like it or not, a failed state in Iraq is in no one's best interest.

True and double true.

But then why not send a broder-based peace-keeping force there, perhaps under the auspices of UN?

Posted by: lib on March 29, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK
But then why not send a broder-based peace-keeping force there, perhaps under the auspices of UN?

Because, whether or not a failed state is in anyone's interests, no one else sees sending troops there as likely to be effective in preventing it, and so while a failed state is not in their interests, sacrificing a bunch of their citizens lives to still end up with a failed state is even less in anyone's interests.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 29, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

"Riverbend - a baathist, Sadaamist sympathizer..."

I knew it! Baghdad Rose strikes again! Let's rename her MissTranslation! And the kerning's all wrong!

As Iraq goes the way of Lebanon, Kosovo, Somalia, and Afghanistan, it's great to stop by Kevin's place for some comic relief.

Posted by: HeavyJ on March 29, 2006 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Oh I am not sure about that. Your statement is somewhat ahistorical.

Posted by: lib on March 29, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

But then why not send a broder-based peace-keeping force there, perhaps under the auspices of UN?

That sounds a lot like Lebanon to me. If I recall from my reading, the French and the Italian peacekeepers did a fairly good job in Lebanon. But the Americans started using their war ships on the coast to pound Palestinian positions, retaliating for attacks against the Israelis.

It seems impossible to imagine that any American government is going to hand over control of Iraq to a third party. And even if they did, it seems even more unlikely that they would stay out of the turf wars that would take place in the aftermath.

I honestly have no idea what the best solution for Iraq is. Whatever it is, I'm sure it is going to be painful for us and for the Iraqis.

Posted by: enozinho on March 29, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

It seems impossible to imagine that any American government is going to hand over control of Iraq to a third party.

Why? If avoidance of the emergence of a failed state is the only objective, why is it so impossible to imagine?

Posted by: lib on March 29, 2006 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

It seems impossible to imagine that any
American government is going to hand over
control of Iraq to a third party.

The UN was created because after two world wars people recognized that we desperately needed a mechanism for resolving intractable conflicts. It has had some notable successes, especially when the United States supported it. But weve had a couple of real losers elected President who did not support the UN. Weve got to get back on board.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on March 29, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

Why? If avoidance of the emergence of a failed state is the only objective, why is it so impossible to imagine?

What other country or set of countries could possibly, after seeing the hash we've made of it for the last three years, have any desire to get involved in Iraq? You'd have to be a retarded drunk or -- same difference -- George W. Bush, to imagine you could make it work.

Posted by: Stefan on March 29, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK


OK, here's the true test:

We send Junior--sans bullet-proof underwear--to stroll through the streets of Baghdad, mingling and chit-chatting with everyday Iraqis.

Yeah, George, put on your high-heels, darlin', and go for a walk.

(Have you ever noticed how Junior is even too scared to walk among his own' fellow countrymen? Or does he just fear he'll get something if he rubs elbows with the rancid masses?)

Posted by: . on March 29, 2006 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

No, he likes rancid masses. He just doesn't like it when they stop the cow-eyed grinning and start asking him questions requiring answers other than, "They hate our freedom," "We're workin' hard" or "_____ has sacrificed much." (What dumbass 25-year-old speechwriter keeps putting that "sacrificed much" into his scripts? He falls over it every single time.)

Posted by: shortstop on March 29, 2006 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

Folks,

You have got to realize one thing, and one thing only; the war in Iraq is about the decay of American ideals, we now have a government for the rich and nothing but the rich so help us god.

Any other questions?

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on March 29, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

What other country or set of countries could possibly, after seeing the hash we've made of it for the last three years, have any desire to get involved in Iraq?

I think it's not the perceived reluctance of other countries to get involved that is keeping such a project from even being proposed, but, rather, our insistence that we will be the sole proprieter of the mess that we have made. Which suggests motives other than just the concern that Iraq may become a failed state.

Posted by: lib on March 29, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

I still like Martial's plan for Iraq.

Posted by: me2i81 on March 29, 2006 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

'You have got to realize one thing, and one thing only; the war in Iraq is about the decay of American ideals, we now have a government for the rich and nothing but the rich so help us God.
--Tom Nicholson

Amen, Tom. For the right-wingnuts who bitch about welfare being "theft" and a "transfer of wealth" to the poor, why the f*ck aren't you complaining about the theft of our children and grandchildren's money for this idiotic occupation of Iraq and the "transfer of wealth" to the defense contractors, Halliburton and Bechtel? Hypocrites.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on March 29, 2006 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

Enozinho & Shortstop -

Sorry about the delayed response ... I had to leave for a few hours. O Rio e sem duvida a Cidade Maravilhosa.

As to everyone else, a travel tip - Rio is spectacular, but stay off of Avenida Niemeyer at night (not that any taxi driver would be crazy enough to take you), watch out for those very tall "ladies" with big feet and hands outside the "Help" disco on Copacabana (what is it with inebriated Europeans hitting on these "ladies"?), and you'll be fine.

Hopefully Freedom Fighter will provide the rest of us with equally useful tips about Baghdad.

Posted by: cactus on March 29, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Stephen K:For the right-wingnuts who bitch about welfare being "theft" and a "transfer of wealth" to the poor, why the f*ck aren't you complaining about the theft of our children and grandchildren's money for this idiotic occupation of Iraq

because as JonS said a few weeks ago: "don't think of it as $3000 you can't have, think of it as like, $100,000 your grandkids can't have. and fuck them, they think you smell like ass!"

Posted by: e1 on March 29, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

cactus, what is up with the Help disco, anyway? mr. shortstop and I were in lovely Rio two weeks ago and were warned against it repeatedly, not that we intended to go there. One guy calmly informed us that there are between 30,000 and 40,000 hookers in Copacabana, which seems like a lot even with a neighborhood population of a million. Can that be true? Damn tourists!

Posted by: shortstop on March 29, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

FF could do as a Republican congressional candidate from California did: go to Instanbul, photograph street scenes, and call it Baghdad.

Posted by: Wombat on March 29, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop,

I think prostitution is legal in Brazil, but advertising it is not. Or something like that. I'm not exactly an expert or a connoisseur or even a dabbler. I can speak only from having been there many times.

As to the number of hookers - I have no idea how many there are, but if you're heading back to your hotel at 2 AM you see a very large number of streetwalkers. Then you have pros that I would imagine are more the thing for tourists - what are called the "garotas de programa" (program girls) and they hang out in bars with names like "Barbarella." (Yup, the Jane Fonda movie!) Those bars aren't really bars in the usual sense though they do serve alcohol. I think the girls don't work for the bars - I think they're all independent operators and the bar gets its cut by selling highly priced drinks and charging guys (and the girls too?) to come in. I imagine they reserve the right not to serve anyone, so a girl who doesn't manage to help them serve drinks becomes unwelcome at some point and must ply her wares elsewhere.

I don't know enough about the hotel trade and Brazilian law to be able to say whether there's the "call girl" type service but I'd be surprised if there isn't. That said, most hotels have signs indicating that bringing hookers is illegal.

As to Help... I've never been in it, but I've jogged right in front of it many times in the early morning and walked by it at various times of day or night. Here's how I understand it - foreign tourists like it because of its location - right in the center of everything, and to get to the places the locals go (say in Barra) requires some discussion with portuguese speaking taxi drivers. The girls who go there are often, shall we say, semi-pro, looking to hook up with an inebriated foreigner. I'm guessing their attitude is similar to some girl to a bar looking specifically for a rich guy. Both sides can pretend its not really what it is, and both sides are happy. Whether they fit into that number of 40,000 hookers I have no idea.

As to the transvestites outside of Help... I guess the management is happy to let in the semi-pros (do they pay to get in?) as it helps bring in the foreign tourists who are looking to get laid anyway, but I imagine the transvestites are not allowed in. However enough of the foreign tourists are so wasted they never make it into the disco. Some are so wasted they start chatting up the transvestites, and then hail a cab with one of 'em, apparently oblivious to some salient facts. I'm sure it doesn't end well.

Posted by: cactus on March 29, 2006 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

I still like Martial's plan for Iraq.

Wow, I read that, and it's...interesting. If Afghanistan was the USSR's Vietnam, and Cambodia was Vietnam's...uh...Vietnam? -- then Iraq would be Iran's...Iraq. Or something. Interesting.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 29, 2006 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

Fascinating, cactus! When I read the part about wasted, oblivious foreign tourists missing what's right in front of their faces, I immediately thought of Republican elected officials. I see the opportunity for a nice junket to make some bitchin' campaign ads. I'll be PA--who's in?

Posted by: shortstop on March 30, 2006 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Gee, Riverbend seems to care a lot more about kidnapping at mosques when the happen at Sunni shrines.

Funny how the bombs at Shiite shrines and funerals, didn't bother her too much.

Posted by: McA on March 30, 2006 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, now that "Forty-Six Posts in a Row, Each One Crazier Than The Last," starring McA, McA and McA, has started its nightly loop, it's time for all good midwestern lefties to be in bed.

Posted by: shortstop on March 30, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

That sounds a lot like Lebanon to me. If I recall from my reading, the French and the Italian peacekeepers did a fairly good job in Lebanon. But the Americans started using their war ships on the coast to pound Palestinian positions, retaliating for attacks against the Israelis.

Close. The US battleships were actually shelling Druse & Muslim opponents of the US supported government of Lebanon. The Palestinians had left Lebanon by then. I have to give you credit, though. It's rare for anyone to remember that the US was fighting in the Lebanese civil war prior to the Marine barracks being blown up.

Riverbend's social/political background has to be considered when reading her. I have a vague impression that her family was Ba'athist. But the details she publishes are very vivid, such as the vignette of the routine of searching for your loved ones in the morgue. They stand on their own. Nobody has shown that she's making things up, as far as I know.

Posted by: No Preference on March 30, 2006 at 7:22 AM | PERMALINK

Brilliant, e1. Are you a teenager or just mentally impaired?

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on March 30, 2006 at 7:58 AM | PERMALINK

So... What happens when people don't cooperate unless coalition forces are present? The armed intruders will just say "sorry" and walk away? This is so dumb it is beyond belief.

Posted by: KB on March 30, 2006 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Another American who lived in Brazil for years (and still missing the place something fierce). The only time I was robbed in Brazil was in Rio, walking home alone from Help! of all places at 3 in the morning. Luckily some prostitutes on Avenida Atlantica came over afterwards, and walked me home to my hotel, and told me "never walk alone here this late".

But a lot of tourists are robbed in Rio, because it has become something of a game for the impovershed locals, I think. I lived mostly in the city of Sao Paulo, and never had a problem, although I did a lot of stupid stuff that should have got me in trouble.

Plus, I have to agree that speaking portuguese did provide for an active social life in Brazil. Doesn't seem to work quite as well in LA though...

Tirando a praia, o Rio eh muito dificil. O clima eh quente demais, trabalho eh complicado, e na verdade nao tem muito cultura. Sao Paulo nao tem praia tao perto (tem que descer a serra como fazem os paulistanos) mais a vida eh boa, a comida eh fantastica, e a noite paulistana nao tem comparisao no mundo enteiro. Soh que o transito eh do inferno... Salve o Corinthians! Brasil vai ser Hexacampeao!

Posted by: Another Lurker on March 30, 2006 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

What appears to be happening at the moment is that there are a number of Shia militias who are not being included in the government payroll, as the government is busy building its own true army and police force. Being left out of the financial loop, these militias are resorting to all kinds of kidnapping and extortion measures to keep themselves going.

As they should be, Americans are largely staying out of this process by which Iraqis sort themselves out.

What seems to become increasingly obvious, however, is that true terrorist activity has really become limited to the odd suicide bomber who is probably a Saudi or some other international loser who was recruited, financed, and staged by al Qaeda or a clone organization.

Also, all those bodies turning up may somehow be related to the decreasing level of true outsider organized terrorist activity in Iraq.

I have a strong feeling that Iraq three months from now may be a substantially quieter place than it is today.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on March 30, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

I thought there was a law (kind of like Godwin's Law) that you couldn't reference Riverbend without also referencing Iraq The Model, who typcially provides counterpoint.

http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Red State Mike on March 30, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Close. The US battleships were actually shelling Druse & Muslim opponents of the US supported government of Lebanon. The Palestinians had left Lebanon by then. I have to give you credit, though. It's rare for anyone to remember that the US was fighting in the Lebanese civil war prior to the Marine barracks being blown up.

Ah, the Reagan years and the 1000 ship navy. They hauled a ww2 battleship out of mothballs and replated it. Twice. The first time was terrible. (Not that there was any question of paying for the shoddy work.) On its assignment to the Eastern Mediterranean it pointed it's 16" guns at a Lebanese village and wiped it off the map.

Such hijinx!

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 30, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

I think it should be obvious by now that these Iraqi bloggers, no matter who they are, represent a well-educated, secular elite - a minority of Iraqis. They don't speak for the majority who are devout Muslims, tribalistic and basically anti-US.

Posted by: Red on March 30, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Oh please. How stupid can liberals be? The two ministeries trust each other. How could you think oterwise? There is a problem with criminals and insurgents stealing uniforms and disguising themselves as Iraqi police and soldiers. That is what Iraqis were being warmed about.

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 30, 2006 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

The Ministry of Defense cant even trust its own personnel, unless they are accompanied by American coalition forces.

The problem seems to be that large numbers of uniforms have been stolen, and criminals/insurgents are creating mayhem while disguised as officials.

Things like that happened during the Cypriot fighting when the Canadians were protecting Nicosia airport. Luckily, they built a wall in Cyprus before too many more got hurt.

Posted by: republicrat on March 30, 2006 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

Let's try to help Kevin understand what's really going on in Iraq (and the rest of the world).

Here's a new article from a fellow Californian:

When Cynicism Meets Fanaticism

Posted by: Norman Rogers on March 31, 2006 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

The monkeys of Zigadua's zoo are inviting you to the biggest poker software room ever. Play poker rule with monkeys and other animals. It is well known the animals are the best poker chips players in the world. Don't miss the opportunity!

Posted by: John virgin on April 1, 2006 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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