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Tilting at Windmills

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September 2, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

IRAQ: STILL WORSE THAN YOU THINK IT IS....The Pentagon's quarterly assessment of conditions in Iraq was released on Friday:

Attacks and civilian deaths in Iraq have risen sharply in recent months, with casualties increasing by 1,000 a month, and sectarian violence has engulfed larger areas of the country, the Pentagon said Friday in a strikingly dismal report to Congress.

...."This is a pretty sober report," said Peter Rodman, the assistant secretary of Defense for international security. "The last quarter has been rough. The level of violence is up. And the sectarian quality of the violence is particularly acute and disturbing."

....Administration officials, for example, repeatedly have emphasized that recent violence has been concentrated in Baghdad. The new report notes that violence has increased in Diyala, Mosul and Kirkuk as the sectarian conflict has spread to those cities.

In other words, they've been lying. Even when the Bushies switch into their pre-election war-of-civilizations mode, the happy talk continues. Three years of Republican occupation in Iraq has had about the same effect on their country as six years of Republican rule has had on ours.

Kevin Drum 12:07 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (62)

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You said "Three years of Republican occupation in Iraq has had about the same effect on their country as six years of Republican rule has had on ours."

I beg to differ: Yes, our economy has been ruined by the thuglicans and will take years to recover. But Iraq has suffered immense human casualties from which recovery is possible - but will come with intense hatred toward Americans; as an old saying in my language goes: "he who sows hay will reap hay; he who sows ill-will will reap evil"

Posted by: Rajan on September 2, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

As long as it's not Christians that are dying, why should the Bush administration care? The way the US treats Iraq and the Muslim world in general, it would be logical to assume that all Muslims are devils in their eyes.

Cheers,

Alan Tomlinson

Posted by: Alan Tomlinson on September 2, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

CLICK THE LINK. ALWAYS CLICK THE LINK. Kevin Drum doesn't point out things are getting BETTER in Iraq.

Link

"The Iraqi government reported that violent deaths in Baghdad declined sharply in the first several weeks of August"

"In arguing that Iraq is not yet in a full-scale civil war, Defense officials pointed out that Iraqi security forces had remained loyal to the central government and that no rival government had emerged."

"There are important things that have not happened," said Rear Adm. William D. Sullivan, vice director for strategic plans and policy on the Pentagon's Joint Staff. "The sectarian violence is worrisome. We are not blind to the possibility that this could continue down the wrong path.""

"Rodman cited as a positive development the report's finding that Iraqi security forces continued to grow in size and skill, assuming greater responsibility over the last 10 months. He said the number of Iraqi army battalions had increased to 85 from 23 in October."

Posted by: Al on September 2, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, Instapundit was out on front on this story, reporting the exact opposite yesterday -- and of course throwing plenty of jabs in at the press.

http://instapundit.com/archives/032303.php

Posted by: harry on September 2, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Well, the violence has to end eventually. What's less and less likely is that there will be any semblance of democracy on the other side of it.

Posted by: Charlie Bucket on September 2, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Al on September 2, 2006 at 12:36 PM

CLICK THE LINK. ALWAYS CLICK THE LINK. Kevin Drum doesn't point out things are getting BETTER in Iraq.

Hmmmm.... Dr. Pangloss, I presume?


Side bar:

Candide by Voltaire
"Voltaire deals greatly with Pangloss optimistic philosophy which contrasted greatly with the events that were occurring in Candides life. Often, many bad things occurred to Candide, but he continued to believe that all things were for a good end which gives the idea that a situation is only as bad as one believes it to be. Either that or bad things happen to good (but sometimes blind) people."

Any questions?

D.-


Posted by: DCShungu on September 2, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

but will come with intense hatred toward Americans;

In Kurdistan, and in most places where American forces operate, there is considerable good will toward the American troops and America in particular. Around two-thirds of Iraqis believe that American troops should stay until the fighting is much reduced or ended and the government is stable.

It's a mess, and will remain an ongoing mess for some time, but the violence has come in waves, increases and decreases. This most recent wave is not the highest wave of the last three years. It may have peaked weeks ago, but now is too soon to tell.

Things are so good in Kurdistan that there is continuing migration of Arabs, Sunni and Shi'ite, in that direction.

Despite the violence, the economy continues to grow: trade in almost everything is up. For some reason, despite long lines at the gas stations very few Iraqis have been killed in bomb blasts at gas stations. Also not bombed are the many restaurants and tea houses where millions of people gather every evening. There was only one bomb at the recent Shi'ite pilgrimmages to the holy shrines, which have now happened 4 times annually (first aut 2003) after being suppressed for decades.

It's a mess, but you have to read all the news. This constant selection and repetition of only the bad news is prodromal to clinical depression. Hence my recurrent attempts at cognitive behavior therapy.

Posted by: republicrat on September 2, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Al nails it! Over 1,000 killed directly is WONDERFUL!!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on September 2, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

And sending over thousands more troops, and spending billions of "our" dollars ever week -- FABULOUS!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on September 2, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

The level of violence is up. And the sectarian quality of the violence is particularly acute and disturbing

Same ole sectarian song. Will we:

a) hear the music, take sides in the civil war indefinitely, making Iraq the 51st state?

b)Or, have the courage to recognize the occupation is a mistake and withdraw?

All voting a) be sure to volunteer for the military and encourage friends and family to go with you. You know, follow the example set by, um..., give me a minute.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 2, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

off-topic, but this time Fred Barnes is right. Nice and succinct.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/012/648ygtoe.asp

for more wordy versions, Corn and Isikoff in Newsweek, and the Washington Post quoted by Barnes.

Posted by: republicrat on September 2, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Wow -- thanks, Repbulicrat! I don't know why people focus on the bombings and murders, rather than just the people NOT murdered and the bombs NOT set off! Brilliant!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on September 2, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

REALLY click the link.

The actual report.

Posted by: bear on September 2, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

CLICK THE LINK. ALWAYS CLICK THE LINK. Kevin Drum doesn't point out things are getting BETTER in Iraq.

"The Iraqi government reported that violent deaths in Baghdad declined sharply in the first several weeks of August"

What the whole sentence says, Plum Blossom, is the following: The Iraqi government reported that violent deaths in Baghdad declined sharply in the first several weeks of August, but civilian deaths rose again in the last week.

(Emboldenment by yours truly)

Did you take the blue pill Al?

Posted by: Mister Anderson on September 2, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Well, the violence has to end eventually."

It does? Has it ever? Move around a bit maybe.

And on another note, apologists like republicrat and mhr are truly despicable characters, virtually criminal in their intent. Thousands are slaughtered every month as a result of our recklessness, and they continue to sing the company song every morning. Complaining about the lack of good news coverage in this hell zone; truly pathetic and sad, and deeply disturbing.

Posted by: Fel on September 2, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Things are so good in Kurdistan that there is continuing migration of Arabs, Sunni and Shi'ite, in that direction

It's a mess, but you have to read all the news.

Well, part of today's news is that Kurdistan has officially declared that it will no longer fly the Iraqi national flag, only the Kurd flag.

So much for our unity government.

And heal yourself Buddy, I feel fine. You may have clinical projection.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 2, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Al adds stuff that Kevin overlooked:

"The Iraqi government reported that violent deaths in Baghdad declined sharply in the first several weeks of August

And ponies, Kevin, you neglected to include the part where every Iraqi child gets a cute brown and white pony.


Ya think that there is any significance that this story was released on a Friday before Labor Day?

Posted by: Keith G on September 2, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

mhr, you need a history lesson. why don't you go back and check all the times that christians have killed, tortured, terrorized or enslaved in the name of god? (the inquisition ring a bell? our own manifest destiny? our slavery? the crusades?) i'm not attacking christianity here mind you; just being honest. thugs, murders and tyrants come in all stripes, all religions. nothing unique about jihadists, except that they live in our times.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on September 2, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

"The Ayatollahs of Iran are on the verge of getting the atom bomb . . . "

Uh, no. Iran is nowhere close to having an atom bomb. Not by anyone's estimate.

The US National Intelligence Estimate projects that Iran is at least 10 years away from having enough enriched uranium to build a fission weapon. Of course, this material is useless without the technology to machine and configure this uranium for an explosive device.

Posted by: Joel on September 2, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Painting Muslims in general as "barbarians who believe in ritual suicide" is really going to help.

Mainline Islam condemns the killing of innocent people, just like mainline Christianity does.

It's the perversion of religious thought, whether by Muslim fanatics or by Christian fanatics, that leads us down the road to ruin.

Unfortunately, the line between "mainline" and "perverted" religious thought is tenuous and oh, so easy to cross. Witness all the "Christians" who want to kill their enemies by bombing, whether abortion clinics or Iran.

That's the trouble with having "faith" that your "God" is the only true "God." No better reason to be unreasonable. You've got the "truth." "They" don't.

Basically, that's just what Bush said yesterday. "They are the opposite of us." Therefore it's kill or be killed.

This is the way to madness and destruction.

Throw off the blinders of "faith" and accept reason. It's the only way to human salvation.

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 2, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Beautifully stated, Cal Gal.

Posted by: Fel on September 2, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

off-topic: Democrats who don't pay minimum wage.

http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/007960.php

Posted by: republicrat on September 2, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

sorry, wrong thread.

Posted by: republicrat on September 2, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

What's the matter, republicrat?

You've been spanked too hard on the economics threads? :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 2, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Rdaical muslims are equal opportunity killers."

Yes, well clearly that means we should go around bombing people with absolutely zero thought to the consequences for us or anyone else. There are bad people, so let's go nuts. Thanks for clearing that up.

And, Keith, the pony was killed by an IED.

Posted by: Kenji on September 2, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Oh no! Not My Little Pony....

Posted by: Keith G on September 2, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

"Three years of Republican occupation in Iraq has had about the same effect on their country as six years of Republican rule has had on ours."

Really? You'd rather live in Saddam-ruled Iraq than American-occupied Iraq? To each his own, I guess.

Posted by: mjk on September 2, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1: You've been spanked too hard on the economics threads? :)

Not "spanking". My analogies are ping-pong and flag football. when blocking, sometimes you get your man, and sometimes you don't; sometimes they are obscene rascals and sometimes they are good sports. It's not whether you win or lose, that's for worktime and for professional athletes.

etc., etc, etc.

Posted by: republicrat on September 2, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

mjk:

Ask the Iraqis themselves.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 2, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat:

Speaking of off-topic posts, I have a reponse to your silly conflation of relative deprivation with covetousness and class resentment -- not to mention your positively trollish dismissal of the entire discipline of sociology -- but I'm too stuffed up with the remnants of this head cold to write it yet.

Maybe after I finish this coffee ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 2, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

a story to follow:

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20060901/D8JS9SFO8.html

Posted by: republicrat on September 2, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, those lying bastards. Hey, what about that whole Plame thing, kevin? You used to post about that a lot. Lately, I haven't seen much. How come?

Posted by: Keith on September 2, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'm too stuffed up with the remnants of this head cold to write it yet

get well soon.

Posted by: republicrat on September 2, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat:

Well thanks, but I haven't actually been sick per se since last weekend. What I am is a goddamned cigarette smoker. All my cillia are dead. So after I get over the infectious part of a head cold (and my immune system is quite fine; I get a cold about once every 2 years if that), I spend about a week and a half coughing furiously to dislodge the excess mucus the cold created.

Now aren't you glad you went there? :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 2, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

R.P. I don't know why people focus on the bombings and murders, rather than just the people NOT murdered and the bombs NOT set off!

The monthly death rate is below the rate under Saddam Hussein.

Improving are the consumer economy, electricity production, the value of oil sales, deaths of foreigners, the quality of the Iraqi army, sewage treatment, availability of potable water, security in Anbar province, growth of citizen groups to counter sectarian violence, port facilities, the criminal justice system.

Staying about the same are daily car bombings, actionable tips from civilians to the security forces, oil production (incidence of oil pipeline bombings is nearly 0), freedom of the press and broadcast media, freedom of assembly and to petition the government for redress of grievances, theft of state resources (tapping electric lines, tapping gasoline pipelines).

Fluctuating are the total number of monthly deaths: now higher than last winter, but not as high as last summer's peak, or the peak before that. Also fluctuating, or at least changing, are the areas of violence. Support of some militias by Iran seems to fluctuate.

Getting worse: the blatantly sectarian nature of most of the violence.

Posted by: republicrat on September 2, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Al nails it yet once again!!


What the fuck he nails, and with what I haven't a fucking clue........


Oh yeah, the GOP talking points that have absolutely nothing to do with reality.

Posted by: angryspittle on September 2, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Contemplation of the death and destruction the US brings to its victims weary me. The struggle to stop it must continue.

Posted by: Hostile on September 2, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat:

The death rate now in Iraq is *not* the same under Saddam, unless you amortize it across the years of the Iran/Iraq war and the Anfal campaign.

In the last decade of his rule, he executed about 200 people a year for various crimes against the regime. Not a exactly a fun guy -- but clearly his mass butchering days ended after the Gulf War and the institution of the no-fly zones in the north.

As for all the hand-wringing over the sanctions -- those are extrapolated figures that have the same confidence level as the extrapolated figures of Iraqi war dead in the Lancet survey.

PLEASE stop repeating this propagandistic bullshit. No IRAQI (including the Kurds, whose lives haven't changed all that much with the occupation) would do anything than blanch if they were told there was less death under Saddam's final decade than in the years after the coalition occupation.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 2, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney:

Your mother pays me to give her head :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 2, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Wait, so the Pentagon hates America again? What's with those traitors, anyway? Why are they so chestless?

Attention Max Boot and friends, your country needs you.

Posted by: craigie on September 2, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1: Kurds, whose lives haven't changed all that much with the occupation

that's just plain absurd. Hundreds of thousands of them lived in mountains and returned home after Hussein was removed from office. Hundreds of thousands have repossessed homes taken from them under Hussein. Hussein may have officially executed only 200 but thousands were killed, raped, or beaten in police interrogations, and thousand more had their lives taken by the shortages caused by Saddam's reactions to the UN sanctions. UNESCO or UNICEF reported the figure at about 30,000 per month, but other organizations had higher estimates.

Little noted: before the war there was much concern over the epidemic of DU related illnesses. That is pretty much over. It was a problem that existed only in propaganda.

Posted by: republicrat on September 2, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat:

First, if you've read medical student (and liberal hawk) Jonathan
Dworkin's guest posts from Kurdistan about four months ago, you'd
realize that the state of epidemiology in Kurdish clinics and
hospitals is quite primitive. They have a hard enough time getting
stats on cholera and typhus, let alone tracking people exposed to DU.

Secondly, the Arabization of Kurdistan effectively stopped after the
no-fly zones, which allowed Iraqi Kurdistan to become de-facto
autonomous. Not counting the mountanous border regions with Iran,
Turkey and Syria, life for the average Kurd didn't change with a new
government in Baghdad -- the authority of which is not recognized at
all in Kurdistan. Read the NYT piece of a few days ago about the Arabs
seeking refuge in Kurdistan because it's relatively free of religious
extremism and acts of terrorism.

Thirdly, there was a counter-cleansing campaign that the Kurds
instigated after the occupation, driving Arabs from homes that were
originally taken by Arabs under direction from Saddam. This is an
especially big problem in Kirkuk, which the Kurds are still angling
to be the capital of Kurdistan. If anything, the ethnic cleansing
(including of Turkmens and other minorities, not just Arabs) in
Kurdistan is happening now from the other direction.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 2, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat:

The surveys of death from sanctions are based on extrapolations of likely cause of death -- just as was The Lancet's conclusion that the American invasion cost 100k civilian lives. Conservatives vigorously attempted to debunk that figure -- so it's interesting to see a war supporter endorsing pre-invasion death figures that use the same methods of statistical extrapolation.

But once again -- ask any Iraqi what the difference is in carnage between then and now.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 2, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat:

Incorrect also is your spin on the monthly deaths. From May to July, civilian deaths averaged over 120 a day according the the Pentagon report.

That is the highest total of the occupation.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 2, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat:
"Things are so good in Kurdistan that there is continuing migration of Arabs, Sunni and Shi'ite, in that direction."

With that statement, you've lost all credibililty.

Posted by: ctm on September 2, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

ctm:

No, that's actually true. There's a NYT story up on it.

Kurdistan has been essentially autonomous since the post Gulf War period when we enforced the no-fly zones. It's unquestionably the safest and most prosperous part of Iraq atm.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 2, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

from p. 10, Iraq war Index: NOTE ON IRAQI CIVILIANS KILLED TABLES:
Information for May 2003-December 2005 is based upon data from Iraq Body Count. We do not include entries recorded at the morgue (to
avoid double-counting) or those which clearly involve the death of Iraqi police, police recruits, or Iraq Civil Defense Forces (in an attempt to
index only civilians killed by acts of war. IBC itself removes military personnel.) The data shown in the chart are 1.75 times our IBC-based
numbers, reflecting the fact that estimates for civilian casualties from the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior were 75 percent higher than those of
our Iraq Body Count-based estimate over the aggregate December 2003 May 2005 period.11 During this time, we separately studied the
crime rate in Iraq, and on that basis estimated 23,000 murders throughout the country.
...
Starting in 2006, we have found it is no longer practical to differentiate between acts of war and crime. Our estimates since January 2006 are
based upon the numbers published in the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, Human Rights Report: 1 May30 June, 2006. This data
combines the Iraq Ministry of Healths tally of deaths counted at hospitals with the Baghdad Medico-Legal Institutes tally of deaths counted
at morgues. (The assistant director of the Baghdad morgue estimated that 90 percent of bodies at the morgue died from violence; 12 therefore,
we assume the same for this chart.) As a point of comparison between the two charts, we have found that the numbers we present for
2006 based on the UN (which include crime) are approximately twice what the estimates would be using the our methodology for the
IBC data (not including crime) for the same time period.

rmck1: Incorrect also is your spin on the monthly deaths. From May to July, civilian deaths averaged over 120 a day according the the Pentagon report.

With the correction noted above applied to the pre-2006 data, the previous peaks become higher than the present peak. The present peak, however is broader, clearly a turn for the worse.


Kurdistan has been essentially autonomous since the post Gulf War period when we enforced the no-fly zones.

Parts of what are now included in the denotation "Kurdistan" were not under the no-fly zones, and Kurds were driven out of those parts, mostly. Those who were driven out have returned, hence my claim that Kurds are, in the aggregate, better off. I do agree that parts of Kurdistan, especially the mountainous parts withut huge numbers of refugees, are about as well off now as before.

Conservatives vigorously attempted to debunk that figure -- so it's interesting to see a war supporter endorsing pre-invasion death figures that use the same methods of statistical extrapolation.

I never believed those pre-war figures that were published, but (those I know) anti-war supporters did take them seriously. However, there was some elevation in death rates that has been alleviated since OIF by the release of medical and food stores, and by repairing the water and sewage systems. Unfortunately, we don't have accurate counts because the tortures and in-house murders were not recorded, and the sicknesses were exaggerated.

The most important claim that conservative tried to debunk was the claim that the prewar deaths were caused by the sanctions. Large quantities of food, medicine and dual-usse hardware were delivered to Iraq and not used by the government to any useful purpose.

ask any Iraqi what the difference is in carnage between then and now. It depends a great deal upon which "any" Iraqis you ask. Hundreds of thousands (or millions) of Shi'ites have, in about August 2003 - 2006 made pilgrimmages to the holy cities. To them, the freedom to make this pilgrimmage is of great importance. Lst year about 800 died in a stamped caused by a rumor of a bomb. This year, and the previous years, much fewer deaths. last week's photos showed masses of them in the streets, belying the claim that they live in more fear now than before. In the public opinion surveys, majorities of Kurds and Shi'ites respond that they are better off than before, and that deposing Hussein was worth the cost, and that the nation is headed in the right direction.

rmck1 on September 2, 2006 at 5:06 PM

That's a good post. I claim that Iraq is better off than under Hussein, and that it is a "mess" but not a "disaster". I have not claimed that absolutely everything is swell.

Posted by: republicrat on September 2, 2006 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

I claim that Iraq is better off than under Hussein,

Maybe (though I think that's debatable). But what about us? Are we better off?

Posted by: craigie on September 2, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

craigie: But what about us? Are we better off?

In my letters recommending a strong federal push for more energy development, I assert that $350 billion invested in energy development will yield a higher return (security and otherwise) than our investment in Iraq. that's for the future. We can secure more energy and peace by investing in energy production here at home than by trying militarily to bring peace to Sudan and Nigeria.

About your question specifically, I think that the issue is being contested. We may yet be better off, or we may yet be worse off. I would guess that right now most Americans do not think that we have gotten an adequate return on our investment, and they think it looks like we won't.

Posted by: republicrat on September 2, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat:

Well, ultimately it does depend on who you ask. What I'd say for certain is that the patience of the Iraqi people is decidedly fraying, and that even those (the vast majority, including many Sunnis) who were glad to see Saddam and his psychopathic sons gone are no longer feeling so sanguine about the future. Bottom line is that there are no areas in Iraq -- including the relatively secure (and sparsely populated) provences, that have adequate water, electricity or sewage services. Unemployment also hovers dangerously around 60%.

I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of Sunnis are demoralized and miserable. The Kurds are the happiest of the lot, because they're on the verge of attaining the centuries-old dream of their own sovereign nation -- which deeply alarms Iran, Turkey and Syria. Shi'ites have -- as in most Muslim countries -- always been the most poor and least educated, the country bumpkins of Iraq, and while their religious leadership is so far still behind the government, the potential for unrest is extremely high in this group. Shi'ite militias are a problem at least as severe as Sunni insurgents and foreign jihadis. The country is a bit worse than merely a "mess." Many places in the world are messes that manage to muddle through without either mass civil carnage or potentially becoming a hotbed of terrorist export.

The real medium-term problem here is what seems to be from all indication the inevitablity of de jure Kurdish autonomy. We've just seen the Iraqi flag banned in Kurdistan. We're also hearing no talk of ratifying the constitution, the messy unresolved issues of federalism which were tabled in order to get a vote. As the momentum builds, you're going to see more Shi'ite talk of their own autonomous region -- an issue which almost caused the Sunni speaker of parliament to resign. If this happens and the country begins to fragment (based on intractible issues like three separate and incompatible flavors of family law to administer) without giving the Sunnis an adequate stake in the resources of Iraq, this is going to be a full-blown disaster and guarantor of conflict. The Sunnis -- the most educated and technically competent people in Iraq -- are not going to take their de jure disenfranchisement lying down. 20% of 22 million people is a lot of people.

Yes, pilgrimages proceed to Shi'ite shrines in a way prohibited under Saddam (14 elderly South Asian Shi'ite pilgrims were just executed yesterday, their bodies left in the desert). Yes, there's newfound freedom -- which is leading (as any war opponent could have told you) directly to religious fundamentalism as a bulwark of stable values in an anarchic environment. Freedom in a vaccuum of authority produces its opposite.

Worse off under Saddam? The country was stable. Saddam was writing poetry and romance novels. His sons, decadent sadistic playboys and creatures of nepotism, would doubtless have been deposed by a military coup had the dictatorship passed on to one of them. Unlike Saddam, they most assuredly had no experience clawing their way to the top.

At that moment, perhaps an internal group could have called on assistance from the world -- and we could have jumped in. Think of the legitimacy that would have bestowed on us, to help the genuinely internal forces of democracy inside Iraq itself.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 2, 2006 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

But you won't raise taxes to do that, will you?

In my letter I listed a variety of funding mechanisms, something for everyone. You know how stuff gets ground up in congress, like meat ground in a sausage machine (to cite the famous metaphor.)
A little new tax, some borrowing, postponing some programs, shifting some out of the defense budget and some out of agricultural subsidies, postponing the COLAs for federal entitlements.

The US government is going to spend $25 trillion in the next 10 years. It is eminently possible to shift 4% - 8% of that to energy production for the duration. As people see the facilities going up all over the US, they'll be willing to forego some of the alternative spending.

If the US economy continues to grow, the money available to the feds will also grow. If ag subsidies are halved and COLAs are halved, those two alone will be sufficient.

To get back to my main point. If you think that $350 billion should be spent on a particular program over a few years to enhance American security, you'd get a better return on the investment if you invested it in home-made energy than in another Iraq-like war.

Posted by: republicrat on September 2, 2006 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1 on September 2, 2006 at 11:41 PM

nicely done.

i don't know that any of that is necessarily wrong, but I have three follow-on comments.

Iraq didn't have enough electricity (potable water, sewage treatment, etc.) under Hussein. 80% of Iraqis have at least double the electricity that they had before, because electricity back then was shunted to Baghdad.

"stability" is often overrated compared to chaos. That stability was in fact costing some unknown number of thousands of deaths per month -- not 0, not 30,000.

India, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia,and the USSR all split. If US forces can achieve a separation more like the latter 2 and less like the former 2, that will be a good thing. Cyprus is split and there is a wall separating the halves. Within Iraq there are a lot of organizations that have sprung up to promote harmony and protect minorities in their neighborhoods; at the same time there is a considerable migration within that is effectively increasing the segregation of Sunnis from Shi'ites. I don't know what the outcome will be, but I do think that the most likely most peaceful outcome would be schism. Before now, Iraqis were always gethered together administratively by foreign empires and then the Baathist tyranny. Yet poll have shown that 95% of Iraqis prefer keeping the country united. then again, that's just polls

Posted by: republicrat on September 3, 2006 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

Someone referred to Iraq as "Vietnam on Crack". I think they were right, although "Meth" might be more appropriate!

My hobby is playing poker. The main thing that separates good poker players from bad ones is the ability to get away from a bad hand. The good players can drop a bad hand instantly (unless they are bluffing). Bad players will bet the losing hand all the way to the end. I once attended a seminar by Prof. Michael Porter of Harvard University, a business strategy expert.
Prof. Porter said that "The worst kind of business is one that is easy to get into but difficult to get out of".

Wish President Bush had taken his class....!

James

Posted by: James on September 3, 2006 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK
I assert that $350 billion invested in energy development will yield a higher return (security and otherwise) than our investment in Iraq.

Piling $350 billion in cash in the Barringer Meteorite Crater and dropping an atomic bomb on it would have a higher return (security and otherwise) than our investment in Iraq, too. Talk about setting the bar low...

Posted by: cmdicely on September 3, 2006 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: 联通铃声下载 on September 3, 2006 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Piling $350 billion in cash in the Barringer Meteorite Crater and dropping an atomic bomb on it

Is that something you are advocating?

The point of my comment, in my letters to elected officials, is that the investment in energy might help to ward off, avoid, obviate, etc. another such war in the future. Are you proposing to write my elected officials and tell them a stupid joke so that there will be no such investment in energy?

Posted by: republicrat on September 3, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat

I like your ideas. What kind of response die you get from the congress critters?

However, getting Dick Cheney to like them is a whole different thing.

It's all about conrol of oil and making sure that the oil industry continues to reap it's profit for as long as possible. He is their man. And, he has returned record profit for oil and related industry as well as defense.

Maybe if we started looking at BP, ExxonMobil, Haliburton, as "nation states" we could more clearly see which nation states support terrorism. But, that idea goes in a different thread.

Posted by: Ex - Republican Yankee on September 3, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1, here is some really bad news:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/02/AR2006090201032.html

Posted by: republicrat on September 3, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

ex-Republican Yankee: I haven't received a reply yet. I expect a standard acknowledgement and recitation of everything they are already doing.

don't underestimate Cheney. He supported the president's bill which was generous toward other energy sources, and passed without permitting drilling in ANWR. BP, ExxonMobil and Shell are among the companies making large investments in wind and solar power.

Posted by: republicrat on September 3, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Who wants all that victorian silence in Iraq?

Posted by: Matt on September 3, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Update: "Kurdistan's" President (or whatever) wants to start flying the Kurdish flag in their sector. The President of Iraq says no. Civil war, anyone?

Posted by: Neil' on September 4, 2006 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

James writes:

My hobby is playing poker. The main thing that separates good poker players from bad ones is the ability to get away from a bad hand..

You mean: know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away..

Posted by: Andy on September 4, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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