Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 20, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

NAKHLEH ON IRAQ....Until recently, Emile Nakhleh worked for the CIA as head of its Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program. Over at Harper's, Ken Silverstein has six questions for him. Here's an excerpt:

4. What should the United States do in Iraq now?

I have come to believe that our presence is part of the problem and that we should begin to seriously devise an exit strategy. There's a civil war in Iraq and our presence is contributing to the violence. We've become a lightning rod we're not restricting the violence, we're contributing to it.....

5. What is the likely political fallout from the Iraqi debacle and from the failures of the war on terrorism?

We've lost a generation of goodwill in the Muslim world. The President's democratization and reform program for the Middle East has all but disappeared, except for official rhetoric. That was the centerpiece of the President's policies for the region, and now no one is talking about it....Because of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and other abuses we have lost on the concepts of justice, fairness and the rule of law, and that's the heart of the American idea. That's very serious, and that's where I see the danger in the years ahead.

A generation of goodwill. That's a generation we couldn't afford to lose, and a missed opportunity that will haunt us for years.

Nakhleh also says that the CIA knew full well that Saddam Hussein never had any serious connection to al-Qaeda, that Guantanamo is full of detainees known to be innocent, and that killing terrorists isn't enough to end terrorism. Read the whole thing.

Kevin Drum 12:08 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (67)

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Comments

So, have we had enough of these government officials who knew better back then but now, three-and-a-half years too late, are finding their voices now and confirming what some of us already know?

See Powell, Colin, etc. A very special place in hell is reserved for these gutless careerists.

Posted by: mister pedantic on September 20, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Yawn.

Another expert who will be ignored by the cabal.

Posted by: exasperanto on September 20, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Nakhleh also says that the CIA knew full well that Saddam Hussein never had any serious connection to al-Qaeda

Wrong. As the White House points out, CIA Director George Tenet Testified Iraq Had Links To Al Qaeda.

Link

"Iraq is harboring senior members of a terrorist network led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a close associate of al Qaeda. ... Iraq has in the past provided training in document forgery and bomb-making to al Qaeda."

"Baghdad has a long history of supporting terrorism, altering its targets to reflect changing priorities and goals. It is also had contacts with Al Qaeda.""

We've lost a generation of goodwill in the Muslim world.

Wrong again. America has won a generation of good will in the Muslim world. From Beirut to Baghdad, the Muslim world is choosing freedom over tyranny and it is George W Bush, Joe Lieberman, and America who has made it possible. If the rest of the world wants to help, they should stand up for peace with America. But liberals and leftist bloggers would rather bash Bush than to help George W Bush stand up for peace against the forces of tyranny.

Posted by: Al on September 20, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

It's not our presence, per se, that's causing the violence.

It's the fact that "being present" is about all we're doing there.

We're not training significant numbers of Iraqi troops.

We're not providing any significant security.

We're not preventing large quantities of explosives from falling into the hands of terrorists (who then use it to blow up our troops).

We're not fixing the infrastructure and helping Iraqis to build an economy to where they can actually contribute to the global oil market (among all the other things Iraq has to offer).

We're not doing a damn thing to slow the spread of militant fundamentalist extremist Islam, and we're not doing a damn thing to promote more moderate flavors of Islam (like Sufism).

I would be all for us staying in Iraq, if we would just DO something, other than provide target practice and recruiting for terrorists.

To me - it seems that our choices are; ramp up the occupation to overwhelming numbers until we can actually occupy the country - OR - leave.

Bush, of course, wants the middle-road. Stay, but don't actually do anything. All the cons, none of the pros.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 20, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Fighting Terrorism Incompetently leads to more Terrorism.

Primum non nocere

Posted by: Robert on September 20, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

This is not doubt just another disgruntled Clinton appointee blinded by Bush Derangement Syndrome. And he probably has a book coming out.

Plus, his name is Emile. Jeez, do I have to spell out everything for you people?

Posted by: Alek Hidell on September 20, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

there will be absolutely no consequence of more brown people hating us. there are only consequences of not bombing brown people.

Posted by: Al on September 20, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Er, make that "no" doubt.

Posted by: Alek Hidell on September 20, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Any occupation is bound to lead to a disaster, and cannot last. It's not the nineteenth century any more.

They could have asked any leader from a former colony.

The problem is that the neocons fancied themselves as the directors of the East India Company struggling to carry on the White Man's Burden.

Sometimes, knowledge of history is not good for you if you learn the wrong lesson from it.

Posted by: gregor on September 20, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Plus, his name is Emile. Jeez, do I have to spell out everything for you people?

Hee!

Posted by: wish you were here on September 20, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

We can't seem to get it stratight. We support the wrong side more often than not. Al-qaida is of our own making by helping the Taliban eject the Soviets from Afganstan. We should have helped them but then they are Godless.

The same thing is still going on in the new former Soviet republics with us taking the Muslim terrorists side as they attempt to make them Islamic churh-states. Even Stalin was unable to cope with the Muslims. It doesn't take a genious to see where the world is going. Either the entire world accepts Muhammadism or dies. The choice is yours. How will you choose?

Our experts are working off the wrong set of givens that are based upon colonial criteria, how to rule unruly subjects. That whole thing needs to be rethought and quickly. There's good news on that front that is bad news for the Godly that have brought us to where we are. http://www.hoax-buster.org has that story. So far it's been capable of holding the evangelicals at bay during this election season. It could help you decide which you will choose, Muhammadism or death, a couple of really good options. Don't you think?

Posted by: BG on September 20, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

George W. Bush's America:

"Come for the mendaciousness, stay for the incompetence!"

Posted by: Gen. Jack D. Ripper on September 20, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Man, 'Al' is just phoning it in these days, isn't he? "Tenet said there were AQ-Saddam links so that means that's what the CIA thought even if Tenet was only telling Bush what he wanted us to hear despite what the CIA was saying internally and ... and ... ah, fuck it. FREEEEEEEEEEEDOM!"

Posted by: tb on September 20, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

If our aid to the muj in Afghanistan played an importsant part in the fall of the Soviet Union (which seems likely to me, by disaffecting their military) then blowback in the form of Al-Qaeda was well worth the cost.

Posted by: gcochran on September 20, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

There is no goodwill to lose.
Nothing Americans do in the Middle East will create an atmosphere of comity, friendship and trust. No amount of PR and fruit baskets will change hearts and minds. Nothing short of a sea change in policy. Not because George Bush is a jerk or Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfled screwed-up Iraq, but because in 1953 the CIA with the help of British intelligence overthrew Mohammed Mossadegh to reverse the nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Since then the US, like the European powers before it, has propped up dictators and anti-democratic regimes of all descriptions to stabilize the strategic resources of the region. And the US backs Israel unconditionally. The people of the Middle East have been listening to the rhetoric about democracy for over a century now- from the British, from the French- and they know it is a ruse or, at best, a self-delusion.

Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, the pilfering of Iraqi, the war on terror and the bombs of love and justice for a better tomorrow are just the current events in a long history of intervention and exploitation.

Helping them create a better tomorrow is the problem. The current unilateralism and incompetence just makes it more ugly.

Posted by: bellumregio on September 20, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Too much to hope this long known conventional wisdom that, as it is spelled out by Emile, at least 1/3 of detainees are completely innocent might have wider currency in the current "dabate" about making torture and suspension of habeous corpus the law of the land.

It's just dandy our command down there has been knowingly holding/torturing a large number of innocent detainees we paid Pakistani's to round up. And these are the folks we want to be able to hold for life without trail and torture as desired. Might as well, they've got nothing else to do.

Posted by: Trypticon on September 20, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

SO, now we understand that we're losing in the Mideast, my question is why hasn't Bush fire Rumsfeld yet? I mean even ExxonMobil has got to wonder why Bush doesn't budge until its far too late to do anything constructive or even turn the tide of events.

I use to say that Bush had a corporate only constituency, but I now see that I was wrong on that point. Its all about the fact that Bush simply had a Vulcan only constituency. It was about making a very few individuals wealth, but not rather, powerful corporations, or, at least not beyond Bushs presidency.

I really think that if ExxonMobil had asked Bush to replace Rumsfeld, well then old Rummy would have gone yesterday, HAD bush been following any corporate instructions. Wouldnt you think that big oil would have preferred stability in Iraq and the Mideast rather then Bush non-productive, childish stubbornness?

The word for Bush isnt incompetence; the word for this administration is incapable. Bush is incapable of change, incapable of diplomacy, incapable of compromise. In fact Bush was never presidental timber, you simply cannot expect somebody who never had any accomplishments to produce any good results.

Posted by: Cheryl on September 20, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

"America has won a generation of good will in the Muslim world. From Beirut to Baghdad, the Muslim world is choosing freedom over tyranny and it is George W Bush, Joe Lieberman, and America who has made it possible."

That truly is one of the most ridiculous comments I have ever heard. Whether you agree with the Iraqi war in regards to it making the U.S. safer or not, no one can argue the fact that tens if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died during this war. Few there have electricity, working pluming or even the ability to safely walk down the street. And thousands more have been imprisoned without even the basic right to Habeas Corpus. It's nothing short of willfully ignorant to not recognize the detestation weve fermented in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East with our poor planning and arrogance throughout this conflict.

Posted by: Chris on September 20, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Our professionals are daily risking their lives to fight the war on terror.

If we can't give them the right tools, then they can not do their jobs.

Never mind that the right tools are: hot pokers, fingernail-pliers, an iron maiden, a rack, and my personal favorite, The Pear -
http://www.corkscrew-balloon.com/misc/torture/29.html

Posted by: George W Bush (and I approve this message) on September 20, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

I love how Al knows more than the former head of the CIA's Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program.

Smarter trolls, please.

Posted by: bgno64 on September 20, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Bush, himself, is in it for glory. He thought he could use the irresistible power of the United States to pacify the Middle East, create a paragon of Republican prosperity (a testing ground of their ideological principles) and make a world for Israel. He does not bend because he is resolute and steadfast and stands against the unimaginative, the timid, the cautious, the learned. It is a triumph of the will borne on an occult knowledge of the true ends of mankind. It is a tragedy.

Posted by: bellumregio on September 20, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

"bombs of love and justice" this made me laugh out loud in my cube...

Al - Joe Lieberman, that's funny, I love how you are in love with the guy now that he is no longer a democrat.. your such a phony... and um... baghdad didn't choose shit... the US imposed this change on them, they didn't start it nor did they show anything that said they wanted it... i swear neocons are delusional... please all republicans must be voted out of office... we are becoming the roman empire and destined for destruction... history lesson, the romans started all these wars near the end in so-called self defense and its exactly what we are doing now with eyes on Iran... we need to change the current path now before it is too late... why are neocons such pussies and so scared? grown a bag

Posted by: dee on September 20, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

bellumregio:

"It is a triumph of the will borne on an occult knowledge of the true ends of mankind."

A simply marvelous sentence.

OBF has taken care of my cranky, cynical, bitterly practical side in this thread.

You nail the poetry and philosophy of it.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

A generation of goodwill among Muslims, a generation of opportunity among Americans.

Hell of a track record...

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on September 20, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Yes. I miss Joe Lieberman. The long walks, the hand holding, his gentle, yet unyeilding grip on a handful of my hair as he goes to town. . .

Funny, except that Lieberman and Thomas1 are both submissives. If a subbie meet a subbie, comin' throe the ryyyyye....

Posted by: wish you were here on September 20, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

wywh;
Lieberman's a switch.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 20, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

By saying we 'lost' a generation of muslim goodwill, that assumes that at some point prior to the Iraq war, we 'had' said goodwill. This is not the case. At best, Muslims on the whole were suspicious of the US prior to Iraq War 2, and we have merely confirmed their fears, making it much more difficult to actually generate goodwill in the future.

Posted by: LHB on September 20, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

this is a good read, and it is related.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2006/09/bring_them_freedom_or_they_des.html

Posted by: republicrat on September 20, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

By saying we 'lost' a generation of muslim goodwill, that assumes that at some point prior to the Iraq war, we 'had' said goodwill. This is not the case.

Oh, brother. Here, I have no money. Now I could have got a job today, but I fucked up, and now I have to wait 25 years to get one.

But hey, no loss, because I didn't have any money to begin with...

Posted by: craigie on September 20, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Osama_Been_Forgotten: We're not training significant numbers of Iraqi troops.

that is definitely not true. For a while all the troops being trained were Kurds and Shi'ites, but now thousands of Sunnis have been trained or are in training. The training is far more extensive than the training previously received by Iraqi recruits, and it takes longer.

I regularly remind readers here to read the Iraqi Index of the Brookings Institution. It is not the only source recording the build-up of the Iraqi army, but it is a source with a mostly liberal-Democratic outlook rather than a mostly conservative-Republican outlook.

As the Iraqi soldiers get more combat experience, they are gradually also acquiring more heavy weaponry.

We're not providing any significant security.

False again. We provide significant security, but not uniflromly perfect security.

We're not fixing the infrastructure and helping Iraqis to build an economy to where they can actually contribute to the global oil market (among all the other things Iraq has to offer).

False again. All aspects of infrastructure have been improved since Saddam Hussein was overthrown. Much of the obsolete oil infrastructure was replaced, so that now Iraqi oil exports are about what the maximum exports were before the war; revenues, naturally, are way up because the price is higher. Iraq produces 25% more electric power than before, and almost 30% more total electric energy (power times hours of production); 80% of Iraqis get at least double the electricity of the pre-war years. Sewers and water treatment facilities, especially outside Baghdad, deteriorated during Saddam's last years (even as he built those large, expensive palaces), and total capacity of sewage and water treatment are greater than pre-war. Hospitals and schools are in better condition and better supplied. There are more cell phones (and the network to support them), television stations, radio stations, newpapers (and printing presses), and magazines.

Posted by: republicrat on September 20, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

we should begin to seriously devise an exit strategy. There's a civil war in Iraq and our presence is contributing to the violence. We've become a lightning rod

There is an exit strategy: withdrawal based on accomplishments. It may fail, but it is a strategy.

US troops are not a lightening rod: most attacks now are by Iraqi gangs and militias against other Iraqi gangs and militias; and that's where most casualties arise. There are more attacks against the Iraqi army than against the Americans.

Posted by: republicrat on September 20, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

OBF: Lieberman's a switch.

I'd like to see some evidence of his dominant moments, then. Because I suspect they occur just about as often as the Republicans concede something to him in their grand "bipartisan" dance. He wears the GOP's collar like a champ.

Posted by: wish you were here on September 20, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

All aspects of infrastructure have been improved since Saddam Hussein was overthrown

Sources, my man, sources. WorldNetDaily doesn't count.

There are more attacks against the Iraqi army than against the Americans.

Yep. But you might ask how many attacks there were prior to this nightmare of a war.

Posted by: bgno64 on September 20, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

total capacity of sewage and water treatment are greater than pre-war. Hospitals and schools are in better condition and better supplied.

I'm not going to even bother addressing these misrepresentations directly anymore, I'm just going to point to the past posts where they've been refuted and/or given context.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_09/009512.php#961304

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_09/009512.php#961310

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_09/009512.php#961317

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_09/009489.php#959564

Posted by: Windhorse on September 20, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

The President's democratization and reform program for the Middle East has all but disappeared, except for official rhetoric.

Sorry, but it never was anything more than official rhetoric. There was simply no "democratization and reform program" of any substance, besidess a lot of flowery speeches, that anyone can point to.

Posted by: Stefan on September 20, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not going to even bother addressing these misrepresentations directly anymore, I'm just going to point to the past posts where they've been refuted and/or given context.

And I'll keep pretending like I've never been corrected! I can do this forever! I'm that high on a guy called George Dub-y-a Bush!

Posted by: republic rat on September 20, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

For a while all the troops being trained were Kurds and Shi'ites, but now thousands of Sunnis have been trained or are in training. The training is far more extensive than the training previously received by Iraqi recruits, and it takes longer.

Oh, good, we're training the Sunnis in how to effectively use weaponry and explosives -- now would these be the Baathist Sunnis, the dead-ender Sunnis, or the Fallujah Sunnis?

I can't possibly see how this could go wrong for us....

Posted by: Stefan on September 20, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

There are more cell phones (and the network to support them),

Which is great for us, isn't it, because the cell phones are used to set off the IEDs....

Posted by: Stefan on September 20, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

another example where Americans were not the lightening rod.

http://www.kuna.net.kw/home/Story.aspx?Language=en&DSNO=906250

Posted by: republicrat on September 20, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

windhorse: I'm not going to even bother addressing these misrepresentations directly anymore, I'm just going to point to the past posts where they've been refuted and/or given context.

All of those are Washington Monthly posts.

I referred you to the Iraq Index of the Brookings Institution. The current one has 167,000 Iraqi police and 130,000 Iraqi armed forces: total of 298,000 security forces.

Note, that this refutes the claim I was responding to, that the US was not training any. the table on p 25. clearly shows the increases in trained manpower.

crude oil production is on p. 29, and revenue is on p. 30. Electricity is on p. 31. Automobile details are on p. 42. Communications on pp 43,44; water and sewerage on p. 44.

There are also many details on infrastructure projects that have been posted all over the web by the military and civilian personnel who built them.

The statements by Osama_Been_Forgotten that I italicized are all false.

Brookings isn't the only source, but they have never been pro-Administration or pro-Republican flacks. The obvious bias in the Heritage foundation or the Cato Institute is not present here, and generally Brookings is slightly leftist in in policies.

Posted by: republicrat on September 20, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

here's the latest:

http://www.brookings.org/fp/saban/iraq/index.pdf

Posted by: republicrat on September 20, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

If our aid to the muj in Afghanistan played an importsant part in the fall of the Soviet Union (which seems likely to me, by disaffecting their military) then blowback in the form of Al-Qaeda was well worth the cost.
Posted by: gcochran on September 20, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

I think a overwhelming majority of Americans would disagree with you on that one. We traded a bad ennemy for a horrific one, we traded strep throat for the ebola virus. It was a bad trade. Plus the whole Afgantistan = biggest reason for cave in of USSR isn't a law of history yet, it's just an hypothesis. Ironically it is one that both American conservatives and islamofacists agree on because it flatters their egos. That too should give you pause.

Posted by: Nemesis on September 20, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Jimmy Carter did everything he could to retain Iran's good will ... We now know from memoirs written by some of the radical hostage-takers that they meant to stay in the embassy for only a short time but when Jimmy made it plain that he would do nothing to free the hostages, the radicals changed their minds and prolonged the imprisonment ... convincing bin Ladin that the US was a paper tiger ... Like most liberals this guy lays the blame for the ills that occur in the world in the lap of the US...
Posted by: mhr on September 20, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

I think there are two helicopters full of dead Navy Seals who would take some exeception to your "Jimmy did nothing" idea. Sometimes in war things don't work. Jimmy got unlucky and sleasy dishonest conservative hacks have made it into a pro republican myth.

But the bigger point is that even if everything you say is 110% correct, it still does not necessarily give the US the right strategy to win against islamofacism. You can't limit yourself to only military, always military options. I mean you don't hammer nails with a saw, right. Different jobs require different tools or you end up with what we have in Iraq: clusterfuck. You know the last country in the world to always use the military option to all its foreign policy problems was Germany, from 1815 onwards they always picked the military option. Think about how that worked for them in the end.

Fianlly just deal with reality would you. The US has done evil shit to other countries. It's not opinion, it's a damn fact, sometimes it worked for us but sometimes it didn't, don't run away from the truth with your "liberals hate America" slander BS. DEAL WITH THE TRUTH. What we did in 1953 in Iran was a fucking mistake. DEAL WITH THE TRUTH. Funding the muhajadeen in Afghanistan in 1980 helped make Bin Laden. DEAL WITH THE TRUTH. If conservatives aren't ever going to deal with the truth then America will be like a row boat with one oar; ineffective and stupid. We need you to be responsible about the truth and the world and not off in self flattering fantasies about how damn great you are and how horrible your liberal neighbours are. We are never going to make it in the world if we keep on going like that. Don't do it for me, hell don't do it for yourself, do it for America.

Posted by: Nemesis on September 20, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

About 8.25 million Iraqis currently have access to potable water, compared with 12.9 million before the war. Total water treatment capacity is down almost 66%, total sewerage capacity is down.

That's taken both from the Brookings Iraq Index -- which you keep misquoting -- as well as from the Iraq Inspector General's testimony to Congress from this year. If you don't understand the figures, it's best to err on the side of caution and not quote them.

So there goes one leg of your argument. Iraqis have less access to potable water and functioning sewers than before the war.

For the past three months electricity production as been slightly higher -- 10% -- than the estimated pre-war levels. However, its price has quadrupled, in a country with 50% unemployment and surging inflation (up 70% in July 2006 over the previous year, which was up 30% from the year before that).

Also, electricity production has been higher than current levels a number of times in the past two years, only to fall back down. Availability of electricity in Baghdad -- you know, the country's capital, home to its government and commercial center -- hit its historic post-war low in April of this year.

Let me ask; how well do you get by on an average of six hours of available power scattered randomly for uneven blocks of minutes throughout the day?

I thought so.

So there goes another leg of your argument: while for the last three months electricity production has barely held on to pre-war levels, it is wildly more expensive in a country of people living hand to mouth.

Gasoline is sixteen times more expensive than it was pre-war. And a whole lot harder to come by, including typical overnight waits in line to fill up.

Healthcare: about 64% of Iraq's physicians have fled the country since the war. Two thousand have been murdered. Ponder on that: two thousand doctors killed in three years. Just doctors. That's from Brookings, yet somehow you always fail to mention it.

Hospitals continue to have chronic shortages of water and medicine. In fact, Iraq doctors explicitly say that it's worse now than before the war. Are you just making shit up? Jerk off technical arguments about how they have 3% more gauze pads than they did under the Baathists just don't cut it. Read the links below to get up to date on YOUR facts.

With the exception of your context-free observation about the production of electricity and oil revenues -- which are translating into NO DIFFERENCE for the life of the average Iraqi -- virtually every other assertion you made was patently false. I'm forced to assume that it's either wishful thinking arising from idiocy, well-meaning propaganda, or out and out prevarication.

http://electroniciraq.net/news/1628.shtml

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/politics/2003262370_iraqcpa17.html

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5758857

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/30/AR2006013001494.html

http://www.brookings.edu/fp/saban/iraq/index.pdf

http://www.icrc.org/Web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/htmlall/iraq-news-200606?OpenDocument&style=custo_print

http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0915/p01s04-woiq.html

Posted by: Windhorse on September 18, 2006 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Windhorse on September 20, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

"[I]f our aid to the muj in Afghanistan played an importsant part in the fall of the Soviet Union (which seems likely to me, by disaffecting their military)..."

Hello? What role did "disaffecting their military" play in the end of the USSR?

In 1991, neo-Stalinist coup leaders took Gorbachov prisoner and ordered tanks to Moscow to take the Russian White House, which Yeltsin held in defiance of the coup. The tanks wound up joining the people protecting that White House, because the soldiers in the tanks would not shoot their own countrypeople.

Are you suggesting that the only reason things worked out that way was because the military was disaffected after Afghanistan??

Posted by: CaseyL on September 20, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

La la la la la LA, Windhorse! I can't hear you! Watch me post the same thing again tomorrow!!!!!

Posted by: republic rat on September 20, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

mhr - nice try, but unfortunately for you, I've read all 3 official Iran-Contra reports(House, Senate, Tower Commission) and can call bullshit.

Carter opted to not further fan the flames of Khomeini's fundamentalists. Given that the CIA had already helped overthrow a popular and legitimately elected government and helped the Shah keep control with a brutal secret police (SAVAK - think NKVD in Persian) it was not the worst move possible.
Reagan and friends sold them weapons - and made the arrangements to do so -prior- to having been elected to office. You may have heard the term October Surprise? This is where it originated.


Posted by: kenga on September 20, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, isn't it interesting that we have attacked one of the most pro-western states(Iraq) and are talking about attacking the other (Iran). No wonder why we are losing good will, the people who started out most westernized are the ones who are ending up most radicalized. Tends to throw the average in the middle east to the radical end, doesn't it? And all of this talk about overthrowing places like Syria, who will we outsource our torture to when we overthrow them.

Posted by: Neal on September 20, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

"There's a civil war in Iraq and our presence is contributing to the violence." - Nakhleh


There's violence in the Middle East?


"The President's democratization and reform program for the Middle East has all but disappeared,......." - Nakhleh

How did Maliki gain power?


"we have lost on the concepts of justice, fairness and the rule of law,...." - Nakhleh

And the Muslims care so much about that.

"....and a missed opportunity that will haunt us for years." - Nakhleh


And since the jihadists have been killing people for decades, what's a few more years?


Fuck Nakhleh, Fuck Islam, Fuck Allah in the ass.


Posted by: Jay on September 20, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

here is a non-bad news item from Iraq.

http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2006/09/muslims-christians-in-iraq-join-to.html

no news yet on the death toll from attacks on these demonstrators.

"The President's democratization and reform program for the Middle East has all but disappeared,......."

In the latest survey, quoted in the NYTimes, 20% of Iraqis disapprove of Maliki's work. I don't think that supports the quoted claim.

Posted by: republicrat on September 20, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

"Carter opted to not further fan the flames of Khomeini's fundamentalists.......blah blah blah" - kenga


Just FYI


"Rle of US Former Pres. Carter Emerging in Illegal Financial Demands on Shah of Iran
Exclusive. Analysis. By Alan Peters,1 GIS. Strong intelligence has begun to emerge that US President Jimmy Carter attempted to demand financial favors for his political friends from the Shah of Iran. The rejection of this demand by the Shah could well have led to Pres. Carters resolve to remove the Iranian Emperor from office.
The linkage between the destruction of the Shahs Government directly attributable to Carters actions and the Iran-Iraq war which cost millions of dead and injured on both sides, and to the subsequent rise of radical Islamist terrorism makes the new information of considerable significance.
Pres. Carters anti-Shah feelings appeared to have ignited after he sent a group of several of his friends from his home state, Georgia, to Tehran with an audience arranged with His Majesty directly by the Oval Office and in Carters name. At this meeting, as reported by Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda to some confidantes, these businessmen told the Shah that Pres. Carter wanted a contract. previously awarded to Brown & Root to build a huge port complex at Bandar Mahshahr, to be cancelled and as a personal favor to him to be awarded to the visiting group at 10 percent above the cost quoted by Brown & Root.
The group would then charge the 10 percent as a management fee and supervise the project for Iran, passing the actual construction work back to Brown & Root for implementation, as previously awarded. They insisted that without their management the project would face untold difficulties at the US end and that Pres. Carter was trying to be helpful. They told the Shah that in these perilous political times, he should appreciate the favor which Pres. Carter was doing him.
According to Prime Minister Hoveyda, the Georgia visitors left a stunned monarch and his bewildered Prime Minister speechless, other than to later comment among close confidantes about the hypocrisy of the US President, who talked glibly of God and religion but practiced blackmail and extortion through his emissaries""http://www.canadafreepress.com/2005/klaus080505.htm"

Posted by: Jay on September 20, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

"About 8.25 million Iraqis currently have access to potable water, compared with 12.9 million before the war." - windbag


So a country comprised of 26 million people only accomodated less than half of their citizens with potable water after thousands of years of "civilization"? And you're saying that we're to blame becasue we haven't yet reached that level in less than four years?

Just think what we could accomplish if we had thousands of years? Why I'll bet we could get almost 60%.

Posted by: Jay on September 20, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

windhorse: Healthcare: about 64% of Iraq's physicians have fled the country since the war.

There are plenty of things wrong with Iraq, and many are included in the Iraq Index. I responded to assertions by a prior writer, and I showed the evidence that those assertions by that prior writer were false.

It may be true that enhanced oil revenue does not improve the life of ordinary Iraqis. However, the prior writer claimed that the US was doing nothing to restore Iraqi infrastructure, and that is patently false: Iraqi oil infrastructure has been substantially refurbished, average oil output is nearly equal to peak oil output before the war, and oil revenues are up.

same with the other statements that I quoted and italicized: all of them were false.

Posted by: republicrat on September 20, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

republic rat: La la la la la LA, Windhorse! I can't hear you! Watch me post the same thing again tomorrow!!!!!


The Iraq Index is updated biweekly. Months ago the IEEE spectrum published a nice on-scene report by a visiting American who was one of the first reporters to draw attention to the large amount of electric power generated by independent entrepreneurs. Not long after that, Iraq Index began to include an estimate of that electricity in its table of Iraqi electricity production. But that was months ago, and Iraq Index is updated bi-weekly. Now the official statistics show that electric power to the grid exceeds prewar levels, and the generators run longer so that energy production has been increased more than power production. AND the independent entrepreneurs continue to produce about 16$ of total electricity, so that total power production is up almost 25% above prewar levels, and total energy production is up about 30% above prewar levels..

windhorse was citing outdated stats about electricity.

Posted by: republicrat on September 20, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

here is a gloomy assessment more in tune with Political Animal:

http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2006/09/whats_next_in_i.html

Posted by: republicrat on September 20, 2006 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

counterpoint here:

http://billroggio.com/archives/2006/09/drawing_the_battleli.php

Posted by: republicrat on September 20, 2006 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

I responded to assertions by a prior writer, and I showed the evidence that those assertions by that prior writer were false.

Funny, that's exactly what I was doing. If you'd bothered to follow the links, each of them was to a post I'd written refuting some assertion you'd made about Iraq that was either factually untrue or so lacking in context as to be a gross misrepresentation of the matter under discussion.

To recap:

Health care: not better
Access to water, sewers, water treatment: not better
Electrical production: only better if you're wealthy enough to pay quadruple what you paid for it before.
Gas prices and availability: much, much worse
Security: apocalyptically bad

same with the other statements that I quoted and italicized: all of them were false.

At face value that might be the case, but let's examine them.

We're not providing any significant security.

We're not training significant numbers of Iraqi troops.

These two go together. The first statement hinges on your definition of "significant" and how closely one ties it to results. For instance, if I go all out and hire a huge security contingent for a sporting event and yet scores of fans are attacked, wounded, raped, robbed, kidnapped and killed -- is that really "significant" security?

So as not to quibble over terms let's just say that in Iraq we have significant but almost entirely ineffective security. Feel better?

And the second claim about training the troops dovetails perfectly with that. Are we training lots of troops? Yes. Is is doing any good? Well, considering that as the number of Iraqi troops we've trained has risen by orders of magnitude so has the number of attacks and casualties, I'd say -- no, it really hasn't done much good.

Add to that the fact that the troops have been fought to a standsill by local militias, in general can't fight without coalition support, often have loyalty to their clan before their government, and in general seem to be incapable according to just about every measurement -- yeah, to argue that we're training all these troops is to argue for something that is having almost no positive observable effect on the situation there.

So perhaps we can reword OBF's statment to read: we're training significant numbers of Iraqi troops that are almost entirely inneffective.

Then it's not false anymore.

windhorse was citing outdated stats about electricity.

No he wasn't, he was taking it right from the Iraq Index, where he looks every week.

Whether you divide out the megawatts generated or average megawatt hours you come up with 10-12%. I'm not sure how you're deriving your numbers.

If by "independent producers" you mean "people with generators" -- then obviously that's not the grid, that's people using third world solutions to get by, and trying to count it toward reconstruction of the country's electrical production is asinine.

Posted by: Windhorse on September 20, 2006 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

It may be true that enhanced oil revenue does not improve the life of ordinary Iraqis. However, the prior writer claimed that the US was doing nothing to restore Iraqi infrastructure, and that is patently false: Iraqi oil infrastructure has been substantially refurbished, average oil output is nearly equal to peak oil output before the war, and oil revenues are up.
Posted by: republicrat

does it concern you at all that the iraqi oil industry was so rapidly re-vitalized, and yet none of the profits seem to be trickling down to the iraqis? are you somewhat curious about where all the revenue is going?

does it bother you?

Posted by: Nads on September 20, 2006 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

If by "independent producers" you mean "people with generators" -- then obviously that's not the grid, that's people using third world solutions to get by, and trying to count it toward reconstruction of the country's electrical production is asinine.

Asinine is the wrong word.

Here in CA (and elsewhere) lots of people pay for the labor of undocumented workers; the work is real work, and it contributes to the economy, even though it is "non-standard". If you are running a business and buying electricity from one of the entrepreneurs, then you probably think the electricity is real, even if it isn't in the official tally and from the grid; and if you run your business outside Baghdad, where the Baath administration shunted the power, then it is probably electricity that was not available to you pre-invasion.

Not incidentally, fuel that is purchased to run the generators is included in the official fuel tally, but fuel that is stolen from the pipelines is not. There is actually more fuel than is accounted in the official statistics; however, a few weeks ago a bunch of people stealing gasoline from a fuel pipe accidentally ignited the gasoline and died in the explosion.


I'd say that your figure of 10-12% is sufficient to disprove the claim that I was attempting to disprove.

Posted by: republicrat on September 20, 2006 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

windhorse, I thought I'd add as an aside that here in CA, and in many places throughout the world, people are looking to solar and fuel cells to get them totally off the grid; a few people want to do the same with their hybrid-electric cars. Discrediting off-grid electricity ignores a lot of electricity.

Posted by: republicrat on September 20, 2006 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Discrediting off-grid electricity ignores a lot of electricity.

First of all, that's not what your assertion was; you were asserting that a number of developments in Iraq were evidence of reconstruction improvement.

Generators are not. They are a desperate, last-ditch attempt to generate necessary electricity. They are not designed to be run continuously, they are noisy, costly to fuel, and terribly polluting.

I'm not discrediting off-grid electricity, I'm discrediting temporary band-aids in place of real power from the grid or from permanent independent sources.

I'm sure some guy is sitting in Baghdad on a bicycle right now pedaling his little heart out to power a dynamo so he can run his air conditioning, but that's not a legitimate source of daily power either because it's not practical or efficient in the long term.

I'd say that your figure of 10-12% is sufficient to disprove the claim that I was attempting to disprove.

And I'd say that 10-12% that is 400% more expensive is insufficient to disprove it. My monthly gas bill in the winter is around $200. If it goes up to $800 then I'm screwed, and I'll either have to not run my heat or forfeit my house. It's no different with the economically struggling Iraqis and the cost of electricity and fuel that has jumped orders of magnitude higher.

I'd further say that the grid reached 10-12% higher than estimated pre-war from July through October 2004 -- only to fall back down -- and again from June through September 2005 -- only to fall back down. You don't argue a month, you argue a trend, and the trend is not yet consistent.

This isn't a match where you throw a bit of "non bad" news from Iraq out there to thwart negative assessments. This is about looking at the big picture objectively and in context. And while you throw figures out there to support your case, inevitably they lack context, when they aren't out and out incorrect.

Posted by: Windhorse on September 20, 2006 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure some guy is sitting in Baghdad on a bicycle right now pedaling his little heart out to power a dynamo so he can run his air conditioning,

That's Humboldt State University.

But it would be more efficient to drive the compressor directly rather than generate electricity to power the motor.

Posted by: republicrat on September 20, 2006 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

Osama_Been_Forgotten: We're not fixing the infrastructure and helping Iraqis to build an economy to where they can actually contribute to the global oil market (among all the other things Iraq has to offer).

Windhorse, that is the statement that I said was false. Are you asserting that it is a true statement? Clearly the evidence in the Iraq Index contradicts it.

Posted by: republicrat on September 20, 2006 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

Windhorse, that is the statement that I said was false.

Actually, you went on to assert that "[a]ll aspects of infrastructure have been improved since Saddam Hussein was overthrown" which is false. You keep misreading the water/sewer figures; while progress has been made they're actually worse off than than were before the war because of extensive damage taken during the war.

Further, I cited two articles showing hospitals having extensive shortages of water and medicine NOW, as well as lengthy testimony by an Iraqi medical practitioner who's said that health care conditions in Iraq have worsened.

I also put all this into context (responding to your assertion in a previous post that reconstruction was continuing "apace) by quoting data from the Iraq Inspector General's Report showing that despite the fact that reconstruction money has almost run out, only 75% of oil and gas projects have been completed, 50% of electric power projects, and just 2% of health care projects.

Posted by: Windhorse on September 21, 2006 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

75% of oil and gas projects have been completed, 50% of electric power projects, and just 2% of health care

that's nice. Now that they have more electricity and fuel, they can start on the health care. I have not read of any infrastructure that has not been repaired, or has simply been ignored, since the overthrow of the Baathist regime.

You keep misreading the water/sewer figures; while progress has been made they're actually worse off than than were before the war because of extensive damage taken during the war.

Sewer and water facilities, like everything else, deteriorated in Hussein's last year, and there was little direct damage done to them during the war. For that, however, I have other sources than the Iraq Index. We'll have to pick this up again later.


Put it in context? Without my posts there would be nothing here but the bad news, no context whatever.

But I'll repeat your line again: in a little over 3 years. 75% of the electricity projects and 50% of the fuel projects have been completed. That hardly supports the contention of OBF.

Posted by: republicrat on September 21, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

minor good news, another example of training the Iraqi army:

http://www.defendamerica.mil/articles/sept2006/a092006ms1.html

for those who still think that no training of the Iraqi army is happening.

Posted by: republicrat on September 21, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

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