Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 8, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

DIPLOMACY IN IRAQ....In the LA Times today, Yitzhak Nakash argues that Iraq is important enough to deserve one final attempt at a political reconciliation that would help avert a full-scale civil war:

Because of the heavy human and material cost that would be exacted in the event of a war that leads to partition, the U.S. ought to make a last-ditch effort to bring Iraqis to the table to hold their country together.

To preserve Iraq's unity, the U.S. military needs to secure Baghdad -- a precondition for any attempt to revive the political process. The administration also needs to engage Iraq's neighbors in an effort to quell the fighting in Iraq and reintegrate the country into the Arab world.

This is a common refrain, and I'm certainly not opposed to regional diplomacy. At the same time, it's never been obvious to me that Iraq's neighbors -- primarily Iran and Saudi Arabia -- have enough influence to stop the violence in Baghdad even if they were fully committed to trying. Can anyone point me to a well-informed piece that makes the case that they do?

For a different take on this, check out Robert Collier's piece in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle. It's too detailed to summarize briefly, but I'm going to do it anyway:

  • The only possible path for success in Iraq involves serious negotiation with its most radical players: the Sunni-led insurgents and their archenemies, the Shiite militias.

  • The United States wants to marginalize these players, not negotiate with them, and interviews suggest that the extremists are pretty unlikely negotiation partners in any case.

In other words, the one thing we need to do to succeed is the one thing we aren't willing to do. And even if we were, it probably wouldn't work.

Kevin Drum 12:19 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (134)

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Comments

Of course it wouldn't work, but we should all fervently wish that it would and go along with an escalation that will last until January 20th, 2009.

Posted by: David W. on January 8, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

I think this article is a reasonable look at the problems of trying to establish an American style democracy within Iraq.

Posted by: John Hansen on January 8, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

It would take half a million men to conquer Vietnam, and even then it could not be done.

Posted by: Leclerc on January 8, 2007 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

To preserve Iraq's unity, the U.S. military needs to secure Baghdad

Right.

The U.S. military cannot secure Baghdad. The U.S. military has its hands full securing itself and U.S. civilians in Baghdad. Only the Iraqis can secure Baghdad. The only question remaining is which faction will win out, at what cost.

Only 3 roles left for U.S. military:

1. sitting ducks

2. moving targets

3. support for one faction or the other

Why is anyone listening to Yitzhak Nakash, and why will no one tell our military the truth?

Posted by: aggrabated on January 8, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

involves serious negotiation with its most radical players

This is a dilemma for our adversaries, too. They may want to negotiate with America, but they have to negotiate with our most radical 'players.' Those radical American players are alpha types, who only know how to deal from a position of strength and are unwilling to give up anything, even if it means nothing materially or politically.

Posted by: Brojo on January 8, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Here's what it's all about, folks:

Future of Iraq: The Spoils of War
Blood and Oil: How the West will profit from Iraq's most precious commodity
by Danny Fortson, Andrew Murray-Watson and Tim Webb
January 7, 2007
The Independent/UK

"By 2010 we will need [a further] 50 million barrels a day. The Middle East, with two-thirds of the oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize lies."

-- Dick Cheney, 1999

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 8, 2007 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with trying to convince the Iraqi people to unify is the fact that they don't really consider themselves as "Iraqis."

Don't get me wrong -- I have no issues with any attempt at success that doesn't involve putting more Americans in the middle of what is now a sectarian bloodbath.

But a unified Iraq is an entirely western construct not based in any semblance of history or reality these people have ever known. Saddam kept the country together through fear and downright evil, not through some unifying philosophy of what it means to be an "Iraqi."

To expect all of these varying groups to all play nice all of a sudden -- whether through diplomacy or force -- is amazingly unrealistic.

Posted by: Unholy Moses on January 8, 2007 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Secular Animist: I posted about that yesterday.

Today, I wrote a letter to the editor, and immediately got a response from the letters editor telling me it would be printed and stating that she couldn't believe this is happening. Unfortunately the limit on letter length meant I had to take out the paragraph about the weak-kneed and beholden SCLM in this country.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Please define "full scale" civil war.

Posted by: david mizner on January 8, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

SA;
Yes, this story seems to have gotten it's legs today, though I saw rumblings on Friday. They're not even denying that it's all about oil anymore. I guess with an approval rating of 30%, you ditch the political cover.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 8, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

One last push? Come on dummies. Come on Mr. Chimp President. Come on neoclowns. Wake the f*ck up. God, the arrogance and stupidity of us Americans, to think that we can somehow heal a rift between tribes that have been fighting eachother for thousands of years and make everyone shiny, happy people. Someone tell me why the hell we think we can bring these people together with military action? Anyone? What a joke America has become. Get up Stand up.

Posted by: dee on January 8, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

that's a little simplistic.

Remember that Sadr has close contacts with Sunni leaders (Juan Cole, among others, has been commenting on this for a while) even though its his militia that is slaughtering Sunni civilians.

The power struggles in Iraq are Byzantine in scope.

Posted by: Nathan on January 8, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

I made this exact point graphically in the Chronicle today. Unfortunately, it's not online, but I blogged it here:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/1/8/12924/62617

Posted by: gfw on January 8, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Even if we succeed in Iraq now, the kind of success that our leaders are looking for will sow the seeds for a Khomeni rovolution in Iraq a few years down the road, and the person who is annointed by us as the leader of Iraq upon the achievment of our success that we are seeking will certainly become the next Shah.

Posted by: gregor on January 8, 2007 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Please define "full scale" civil war.
Posted by: david mizner on January 8, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Both sides have tanks, planes, artillery, and use them in battlefield engagements.

At least, I think this is the definition that the Bush Administration clings to, in order to preserve the truthiness of the statement "Iraq is not in civil war."

By that definition, I don't think it's possible for Iraq to be in civil war, because US forces still have air supremecy, and equipment and formal engagements like that simply can't exist, because they'd be wiped out by B-52's in very short order.

But a guerilla insurgency is no less a civil war. Especially given the civilian casualties that are resulting.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 8, 2007 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Can I just point out that even if George Bush decided he wanted to work with world leaders, that no world leader will work with the US as long as George Bush is President?

The man has no credibility, so no leader is prepared to enter into an agreement with him because they don't believe he'll keep his end of the bargain.

Furthermore, he is toxic to most foreign electorates--a leader who embraced him openly is going to lose a lot of popular support.

Frankly, this is the best case for impeachment of any I've seen. George Bush has so compromised himself as a leader that he can't represent the US's interests on an international stage. We can't do diplomacy while he's in the White House. Impeach him, impeach Cheney, and put Pelosi in charge, and then maybe we'll have a shot at achieving something through diplomacy.

George Bush burned his bridges. He can't cross them anymore. We need a new President.

Posted by: anonymous on January 8, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

By the definitions used around here, are the Palestinians in a full-scale civil war? Why or why not?

Posted by: bob on January 8, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

George W. Bush has a very immature view of the world. In it, you don't talk with those who disagree with you, you shoot them or blow them up. He thinks that sort of posturing makes him appear more "manly". He apparently has a deep seated need to prove his masculinity, likely due to some unresolved Oedipal issues. Bush also doesn't realize that real men don't need to prove their manliness through violence. It takes more courage to refrain from striking back when your opponent slaps you, than to reflexively strike back in anger.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 8, 2007 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

What the United States really needs to do is to figure out how it can best manage its interests in the presence of the full scale civil war that is nearly certain to take place once we leave.

This is called dealing with reality. Mature people and nations plan for likely outcomes, even if they are highly undesirable.

What I'd like to see is anybody's plan for such an outcome. What, for example, might we do to diminish the chances of a new breed of terrorists determined to strike the US? Or is there anything we can do?

Posted by: frankly0 on January 8, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

1. You liberals hate the Iraqis, and don't want them to be free.

2. The Iraqis are lazy backwards people who we must bomb the shit out of and rule with an iron fist to achieve total victory! More like Saddam!

Posted by: Al's Mommy on January 8, 2007 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

The solution was to keep Saddam alive and let the Baath militia develop along constitutional grounds.

We act like this is just some temporary squabble. Iraqis voted for autonomous partition, voted for a weak federal government, voted for regional militias. If there is any US military mission it would be to slightly enlarge the green zone, and not much else. Probably the Iraqis want some residual central government, not much else.

We want the Saudis to support fund the Baath regional government. We want Iran to support the Shia militia. We want these things because the Iraqi people want these things.

We want Bani Sadr to improve the capability and discipline of his army, same for SCIRI and Baath and also for the Kurds.

I do not get this concept that the U.S. middle class has to pay for a war against the democratic wishes of the Iraqi people because a few rich folks got a tax break and see the U.S. military as a cheap tool to expand their trade. Put the progressive tax rates back up and let us see how much support this military venture gets when the actual beneficiaries have to pay for it.

Posted by: Matt on January 8, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

To preserve Iraq's unity, the U.S. military needs to secure Baghdad -- a precondition for any attempt to revive the political process.

Obviously -- which is why the occupation's failure to do so -- to secure Baghdad, forget the rest of the country -- even after "Operation Together Forward" and all the other surges we've already had -- is a fair indication that this Administration is not competent to do so at all.

Posted by: Gregory on January 8, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Is there anyone on the Sunni side with whom we could negotiate and who, if an agreement were reached, could bind the remaining members of the insurgency to the agreement?

My bet is that there is not. That makes negotiation pointless.

Posted by: David in NY on January 8, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Nakash wrote: A successful regional approach requires that Saudi Arabia, the champion of the Sunni cause, and Iran, its Shiite counterpart

However, a news story said that the Iranian military folks captured in Iraq a couple of weeks ago had documents showing that Iran was supporting both Shiite and Sunni insurgents. In other words, Iran is working to undermine the democratic government. Since Iran's interest is precisely opposite ours, I don't know that negotiations with them can succeed.

Posted by: ex-liberal on January 8, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

The power struggles in Iraq are Byzantine in scope.

Nonsense, everyone in Iraq is either with us or with the terrorists.

Posted by: George W. Bush on January 8, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Furthermore, he is toxic to most foreign electorates--a leader who embraced him openly is going to lose a lot of popular support.

And yet, here Blair is, 4 freaking years later, still ruling the UK. Brits I know say everyone hates him. Even conservatives. Yet he persists. Because they hate his competitors from other party's worse.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 8, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal on January 8, 2007 at 1:52 PM:

However, a news story said..

Cite, please. I'd rather read the article than take your word for what the article says.

Posted by: grape_crush on January 8, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Saudi Arabia is already backing Sunni insurgents and Iran is backing Shia miltias, so when US troops leave, there'll be a war between these two powers, a regional war pitting Sunni against Shia. I don't know if it can be avoided but American diplomatic efforts should be aimed at trying. Most everything else is a distraction.

Posted by: david mizner on January 8, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Bush's strategy is obvious -- hold out until January of 2009, after which the failure in Iraq can be blamed on his successor.

Sadly, no matter how many troops are sacrificed ont he altar of Bush's ego, it won't work. Wirness the recent eulogies for Ford -- the US evacuated Saigon on his watch, but everyone knows it was a lost cause before he took over. Rove made damn sure Bush and Iraq were branded together. It's sadly comforting that Bush has singlehandedly destroyed the Republicans' decades-long brandong effort as "strong on defense".

Posted by: Gregory on January 8, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Saudi Arabia is already backing Sunni insurgents and Iran is backing Shia miltias, so when US troops leave, there'll be a war between these two powers, a regional war pitting Sunni against Shia. ...
Posted by: david mizner on January 8, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

That would kinda suck, given that they're something like the #1, #2, and #3 oil producing nations on the planet.

Tune up your bicycles folks.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 8, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

grape_crush wrote, regarding "ex-liberal"'s citation of "a news story": Cite, please. I'd rather read the article than take your word for what the article says.

Or anything else, for that matter.

As a master of lying by omission, I'm looking forward to "ex-liberal" amusing us be revealing his/her/its "source". NewsMax? Faux? Michelle Malkin? The possibilities are so tantalizing!

Posted by: Gregory on January 8, 2007 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Tune up your bicycles folks.
Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld

Indeed. But remember we didn't go in because of oil and we're not staying there because of oil.

Posted by: david mizner on January 8, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

if we issued the Sunnis gray uniforms and the Shia blue uniforms, could we call Iraq a civil war?

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 8, 2007 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Victory in Iraq is at hand -- for Dick Cheney's cronies and financial backers in the US and UK-based multinational oil companies:

New Oil Law Means Victory in Iraq for Bush
By Chris Floyd
www.truthout.org
08 January 2007

Excerpt:

The reason that George W. Bush insists that "victory" is achievable in Iraq is not that he is deluded or isolated or ignorant or detached from reality or ill-advised. No, it's that his definition of "victory" is different from those bruited about in his own rhetoric and in the ever-earnest disquisitions of the chattering classes in print and online. For Bush, victory is indeed at hand. It could come at any moment now, could already have been achieved by the time you read this. And the driving force behind his planned "surge" of American troops is the need to preserve those fruits of victory that are now ripening in his hand.

At any time within the next few days, the Iraqi Council of Ministers is expected to approve a new "hydrocarbon law" essentially drawn up by the Bush administration and its UK lackey, the Independent on Sunday reported. The new bill will "radically redraw the Iraqi oil industry and throw open the doors to the third-largest oil reserves in the world," says the paper, whose reporters have seen a draft of the new law. "It would allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil companies in the country since the industry was nationalized in 1972." If the government's parliamentary majority prevails, the law should take effect in March.

As the paper notes, the law will give Exxon Mobil, BP, Shell and other carbon cronies of the White House unprecedented sweetheart deals, allowing them to pump gargantuan profits from Iraq's nominally state-owned oilfields for decades to come. This law has been in the works since the very beginning of the invasion - indeed, since months before the invasion, when the Bush administration brought in Phillip Carroll, former CEO of both Shell and Fluor, the politically-wired oil servicing firm, to devise "contingency plans" for divvying up Iraq's oil after the attack. Once the deed was done, Carroll was made head of the American "advisory committee" overseeing the oil industry of the conquered land, as Joshua Holland of Alternet.com has chronicled in two remarkable reports on the backroom maneuvering over Iraq's oil: "Bush's Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq's Oil and "The US Takeover of Iraqi Oil."

From those earliest days until now, throughout all the twists and turns, the blood and chaos of the occupation, the Bush administration has kept its eye on this prize. The new law offers the barrelling buccaneers of the West a juicy set of production-sharing agreements (PSAs) that will maintain a fig leaf of Iraqi ownership of the nation's oil industry - while letting Bush's Big Oil buddies rake off up to 75 percent of all oil profits for an indefinite period up front, until they decide that their "infrastructure investments" have been repaid. Even then, the agreements will give the Western oil majors an unheard-of 20 percent of Iraq's oil profits - more than twice the average of standard PSAs, the Independent notes.

Of course, at the moment, the "security situation" - i.e., the living hell of death and suffering that Bush's "war of choice" has wrought in Iraq - prevents the Oil Barons from setting up shop in the looted fields. Hence Bush's overwhelming urge to "surge" despite the fierce opposition to his plans from Congress, the Pentagon and some members of his own party. Bush and his inner circle, including his chief adviser, old oilman Dick Cheney, believe that a bigger dose of blood and iron in Iraq will produce a sufficient level of stability to allow the oil majors to cash in the PSA chips that more than 3,000 American soldiers have purchased for them with their lives.

The American "surge" will be blended into the new draconian effort announced over the weekend by Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki: an all-out war by the government's Shiite militia-riddled "security forces" on Sunni enclaves in Baghdad, as the Washington Post reports. American troops will "support" the "pacification effort" with what Maliki says calls "house-to-house" sweeps of Sunni areas. There is of course another phrase for this kind of operation: "ethnic cleansing."

The "surged" troops - mostly long-serving, overstrained units dragooned into extended duty - are to be thrown into this maelstrom of urban warfare and ethnic murder, temporarily taking sides with one faction in Iraq's hydra-headed, multi-sided civil war. As the conflict goes on - and it will go on and on - the Bush administration will continue to side with whatever faction promises to uphold the "hydrocarbon law" and those profitable PSAs. If "Al Qaeda in Iraq" vowed to open the nation's oil spigots for Exxon, Fluor and Halliburton, they would suddenly find themselves transformed from "terrorists" into "moderates" - as indeed has Maliki and his violent, sectarian Dawa Party, which once killed Americans in terrorist actions but are now hailed as freedom's champions.

So Bush will surge with Maliki and his ethnic cleansing for now. If the effort flames out in a disastrous crash that makes the situation worse - as it almost certainly will - Bush will simply back another horse. What he seeks in Iraq is not freedom or democracy but "stability" - a government of any shape or form that will deliver the goods. As the Independent wryly noted in its Sunday story, Dick Cheney himself revealed the true goal of the war back in 1999, in a speech he gave when he was still CEO of Halliburton. "Where is the oil going to come from" to slake the world's ever-growing thirst, asked Cheney, who then answered his own question: "The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies."

And therein lies another hidden layer of the war. For Iraq not only has the world's second largest oil reserves; it also has the world's most easily retrievable oil. As the Independent succinctly notes: "The cost-per-barrel of extracting oil in Iraq is among the lowest in the world because the reserves are relatively close to the surface. This contrasts starkly with the expensive and risky lengths to which the oil industry must go to find new reserves elsewhere - witness the super-deep offshore drilling and cost-intensive techniques needed to extract oil form Canada's tar sands."

This is precisely what Cheney was getting at in his 1999 talk to the Institute of Petroleum. In a world of dwindling petroleum resources, those who control large reserves of cheaply-produced oil will reap unimaginable profits - and command the heights of the global economy. It's not just about profit, of course; control of such resources would offer tremendous strategic advantages to anyone who was interested in "full spectrum domination" of world affairs, which the Bush-Cheney faction and their outriders among the neo-cons and the "national greatness" fanatics have openly sought for years. With its twin engines of corporate greed and military empire, the war in Iraq is a marriage made in Valhalla.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 8, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

With its twin engines of corporate greed and military empire, the war in Iraq is a marriage made in Valhalla.

Posted by: SecularAnimist

You see, that's what I call obscenity.

Did anyone notice that Norway's got a huge O&G find? How soon before we find a pretext to invade Norway?

Posted by: MsNThrope on January 8, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

well, MsN - have you heard any Norwegian death-metal? There is your pretext to invade Norway. Anyone who raised teens in the 90's knows this...

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

"...What he (Bush) seeks in Iraq is not freedom or democracy but "stability" - a government of any shape or form that will deliver the goods..."

So this is the "managed chaos" theory at work?

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 8, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

well, MsN - have you heard any Norwegian death-metal? There is your pretext to invade Norway. Anyone who raised teens in the 90's knows this...
Posted by: Global Citizen

As long as it doesn't involve herring...I'm quite fond of pickled herring.

The piece was in Newsweek BTW entitled 'Norwegian Gold'

Posted by: MsNThrope on January 8, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

In other words, the one thing we need to do to succeed is the one thing we aren't willing to do. And even if we were, it probably wouldn't work.


However if we approached it with the intention of partitioning the country it would make them actually sit down and talk about it and that may actually have the effect of getting them to create their own federal arrangement simply because it opposes what they think we want them to do.

Posted by: cld on January 8, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting article by Nakash...will mull it over a bit. I'm really not sure we have the right leadership in place to get Saudi Arabia and Iran working together though. The current zeitgist seems to be Sunni repressive governments seeking to undermine Iran at any cost, in tune with Israel strangely enough, and I don't see that in our best interests at all.

Posted by: Jimm on January 8, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Collier's piece really makes you wonder about the future viability of those oil contracts Western firms are signing with the current government in Iraq.

Posted by: Jimm on January 8, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, grape crush. I cannot give you a cite. I read the article a couple of weeks ago and cannot locate it.

Posted by: ex-liberal on January 8, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal" wrote: Sorry, grape crush. I cannot give you a cite. I read the article a couple of weeks ago and cannot locate it.

As I thought -- amusing!

You'll excuse me, then, if I regard your so-called "source" in the same category as all the other neocon bullshit you post here?

Posted by: Gregory on January 8, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

I wish we would invade Norway. There's a Norwegian who is seriously working my nerves lately.

Posted by: shortstop on January 8, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

MsNThrope on January 8, 2007 at 2:33 PM:

How soon before we find a pretext to invade Norway?

Heck, I'd go there just for the leggy blondes...

ex-liberal on January 8, 2007 at 2:54 PM:

I cannot give you a cite.

It happens. Do you remember the name of the magazine, journal, newspaper, or website where you read it? Article title? It might help me with teh Google...

Posted by: grape_crush on January 8, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

I wish we would invade Norway.

Plus, I'm told they have wonderful fjords. Lovely crinkly bits around the edges.

Posted by: Gregory on January 8, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Do you remember the name of the magazine, journal, newspaper, or website where you read it?

"My America" by Ed Anger in Weekly World News, maybe?

Posted by: Gregory on January 8, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK
Plus, I'm told they have wonderful fjords.

I heard someone won an award for their design.

And yes, the number of the day is "42."

Posted by: Unholy Moses on January 8, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

The reason why exlib cannot find a link to a story saying that the Iranian diplomats were working for both Shitte and Sunni insurgents is because there was never a story saying this - maybe powerline, but that's all.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi and Iranian authorities slammed the United States on Monday for having arrested several Iranians who were visiting Iraq.

A U.S. official said the Iranians were suspected of involvement in attacks against Iraqi security forces.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini warned that "this action is not justifiable by any international rules or regulations and will have unpleasant consequences," Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

A spokesman for Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said Talabani had invited the Iranians to the country, and the president was "unhappy" about the arrests.

Posted by: Botecelli on January 8, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Keep in mind that this war is being fought over who will reap the profits from the extraction of a resource -- oil -- which, if it is extracted and combusted, will further accelerate the already rapid and extreme anthropogenic global warming that threatens the very existence of human civilization.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 8, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

"By 2010 we will need [a further] 50 million barrels a day. The Middle East, with two-thirds of the oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize lies." -- Dick Cheney, 1999
Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 8, 2007 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

We might've done better had we stuck to investigating alternative energy sources during the 1980s. But now, since we're owned by BIG OIL, there is only one prize and it's the same any drug dealer sees -- PROFIT off other's addiction.

"God damn the pusher-man!" -- (I can't remember who said that.)

Posted by: MarkH on January 8, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Just to follow up a bit on my previous post, let's assume that civil war in Iraq after we leave is the most likely outcome.

What should we do to promote American interests, most especially our interest in NOT being attacked by terrorists?

My own answer: don't choose sides, and maintain a hands off approach. Why? because if we choose sides, we make enemies, no matter what. And, of course, the very worst thing we could do is to choose the WRONG side, that is, the losing side, because then we have to deal with an enemy in control of a major country in the region.

What do I expect the Bush WH will do, or enable? Why, the worst possible situation, of course. I expect them to back the Shiites, while I'd guess that the Sunnis will win out in the end. (Why do I think the Sunnis will prevail? Because the Sunnis won out before, despite their smaller numbers).

Posted by: frankly0 on January 8, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

MarkH: "God damn the pusher-man!" -- (I can't remember who said that.)

From "The Pusher" by Hoyt Axton, sung by John Kay with the rock band Steppenwolf (probably best known for "Born To Be Wild") on their eponymous 1968 album.

Well, now if I were the president of this land
You know, I'd declare total war on The Pusher man
I'd cut him if he stands, and I'd shoot him if he'd run
Yes I'd kill him with my Bible and my razor and my gun
God damn The Pusher
Gad damn The Pusher
I said God damn, God damn The Pusher man

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 8, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

How many stages of this disease of denial have we been through since the heady days of flowers in the streets and the dream of democracy for all in a halcyon Middle East?

In essence there is still no admitting this war is nothing more than a dysfunctional perversion of reality. It is not, nor has it ever been, a national war the United States had to fight. It is a princely war in a long and ancient tradition of princely wars. Like many past wars it was sold on false pretenses for private gain and personal ambition.

Posted by: bellumregio on January 8, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Chaos in Iraq is good. The violence justifies our stabilizing influence in the region via permanent military bases built to 1998 PNAC specifications, plus we wrangle access to the oil.

Bush is finally justified in unfurling his glorious "mission accomplished" banner.

Posted by: olds88 on January 8, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

"Because of the heavy human and material cost that would be exacted in the event of a war that leads to partition, the U.S. ought to make a last-ditch effort to bring Iraqis to the table to hold their country together."


Yet when partition was the indirect result of Clintons Bosnia efforts, it wasn't deemed a failure.


"In December 1995 the Clinton Administration ended the fighting in Bosnia- Herzegovina. Proud of what was perceived as one of his few foreign policy successes, President Clinton announced that, under the US-brokered Dayton Peace Accords, 'refugees will be allowed to return to their homes'. He continued: 'People will be able to move freely throughout Bosnia, and the human rights of every Bosnian citizen will be monitored by an independent commission and an internationally trained civilian police force. Those individuals charged with war crimes will be excluded from political life.' None of these things have happened. As a result, Bosnia is being partitioned into three ethnically pure mini-states."

"In other words, the one thing we need to do to succeed is the one thing we aren't willing to do. And even if we were, it probably wouldn't work." - Kevin


That's because the negotiations are viewed as the responsibility of the Iraqi Gov't. Isn't the left advocate that we should not interfere with others sovereignty?


Posted by: Jay on January 8, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

As for the state of Iraqi politics, I think this clip from Al-Jazeera is a pretty fair bellwether of where things are right now.

And as for Iraq as a viable state, Getrude Bell was warned against creating Iraq long ago by an American missionary in Mesopotamia:

You are flying in the face of four millenniums of history if you try to draw a line around Iraq and call it a political entity! Assyria always looked to the west and the east and the north, and Babylonia to the south. They have never been an independent unity. You've got to take time to get them integrated, it must be done gradually. They have no conception of nationhood yet.
Posted by: sean on January 8, 2007 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

"But now, since we're owned by BIG OIL,..." - Mark

I thought Walmart owned America?

Posted by: Jay on January 8, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Jay, at the risk of starting a flame war I have no time to engage in, much less finish, the conjecture you pose amounts to a false equivalency. Both countries were a hodgepodge of ethnicities forced together under the construct of a false state. After that, valid comparissons end.

Consider the Kurdish problem - and Iran and Turkey both consider an independent Kurdistan intolerable. There was no national interest of the neighbors brought into focus when the Balkans - balkanized. The unraveling of Yugoslavia did not spill into the region and destabilize an entire area, whereas Iraq is proving to be a powderkeg, and the fuse should never have been lit.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

let's be fair, exlib's fantasy that iran funds sunni insurgents is no more retarded than his fantasy that saddam supported osama

Posted by: benjoya on January 8, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Well Jay, all the plastic crap that Wally-World sells and sends out of the store are all made from oil, as are those blue 21st century tumbleweeds we carry the stuff out in...

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

"The unraveling of Yugoslavia did not spill into the region and destabilize an entire area, whereas Iraq is proving to be a powderkeg, and the fuse should never have been lit." - GC


You're right, Iraq was so peaceful prior to 2002.


Iraq is proving to be a powderkeg only in the mind of a liberal, who for strictly political purposes wishes it so. The sectarian violence has yet to reach "civil war" proportions, Saddams execution has come and gone, the elected gov't is still banded and working towards a better future and 85% of the country is peaceful.

Hardly a powderkeg.

And why exactly is partition such a bad thing?

Posted by: Jay on January 8, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

"Well Jay, all the plastic crap that Wally-World sells and sends out of the store are all made from oil,..." - GC


And also made in China.


All the more reason to drill in ANWR, no?

Posted by: Jay on January 8, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

God Damn the President Man.

Posted by: Brojo on January 8, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Keep in mind that this war is being fought over who will reap the profits from the extraction of a resource -- oil -- which, if it is extracted and combusted, will further accelerate the already rapid and extreme anthropogenic global warming that threatens the very existence of human civilization.
Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 8, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

In other words; by destroying Iraq's infrastructure, and bringing on the chaos and destruction, and sectarian strife, George W Bush has made it nearly impossible to extract any meaningful quantities of oil in Iraq. George W Bush is the greatest environmentalist EVER!

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 8, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Lighten up on ex-lib, folks.

The past week has been pretty rough on him and Diaper Media.


Posted by: Dwight on January 8, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Diplomacy can not work in Iraq in 2007. For such a thing to transpire there would need to be a reality that all or most participants seek defined outcomes that are not mutually exclusive.

There needs to be elites who are able to lead their respective sides in the process of defining those outcomes and managing a rational process of organizing the activities needed to move in the direction toward those outcomes.

Additionally, there needs to be a broad consensus among the constituencies of said elites that will allow negotiations to be implemented with some validity.

Yeah, right.

I understand the basis that some might have in feeling that the only way to go is to pour troops into the area and sit on the participants until they see the logic in “behaving”, but that just will not work for more reasons than I care to spend the time to type out at this point.

The eggs are broken and the omelet is shit (and poisonous). Our actions must be based accordingly.

There may be a chance for diplomacy to work some day when significant numbers of the folks in that area are weary enough of chaos, pain and killing that plagues Iraq now.

Posted by: Keith G on January 8, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK
That's because the negotiations are viewed as the responsibility of the Iraqi Gov't. Isn't the left advocate that we should not interfere with others sovereignty?

Are you seriously arguing that:

  1. A large US military presence killing Iraqis to advance US interests is not an interference with Iraqi sovereignty, but

  2. The US talking to Iraqis to advance the same interests notionally advanced currently by shooting Iraqis is an intereference with Iraqi sovereignty?

Posted by: cmdicely on January 8, 2007 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK


diplomacy...huh...

well..

we already have the dip...

Posted by: mr. irony on January 8, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

"A large US military presence killing Iraqis to advance US interests......" - cm


um......the military is not killing Iraqi's. Iraqi's are killing Iraqi's. Just FYI.

"The US talking to Iraqis to advance the same interests notionally advanced currently by shooting Iraqis is an intereference with Iraqi sovereignty?" - cm


OK again, see the aforementioned.


Posted by: Jay on January 8, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

jay: You're right, Iraq was so peaceful prior to 2002.


well...

the number of americans who died in bosnia and kosovo...

was...and is...

zero..

despite your apparent hope for more...

iraq?

the number is higher...

i would ask for smarter trolls...

but their aren't any left...

Posted by: mr. irony on January 8, 2007 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

jay: And why exactly is partition such a bad thing?


3-strikes you are out...

Posted by: mr. irony on January 8, 2007 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

And why exactly is partition such a bad thing?
Posted by: Jay

Mainly because of the perceived instability that would result. One reason for instability is that both Iran and Turkey have large Kurdish populations whom they do not want emboldened by the creation of a fully autonomous Kurdish state.

Posted by: cyntax on January 8, 2007 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely to Jay: "Are you seriously arguing that ..."

Jay has never "seriously argued" anything. The only thing he has ever done (besides displaying his profound ignorance of whatever subject he is ostensibly "commenting" on) is post tired, predictable, idiotic, puerile one-line jabs at "the left". He's definitely one of the "Rush Limbaugh For Dummies" crowd.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 8, 2007 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

All the more reason to drill in ANWR, no?
Posted by: Jay

No. All the more reason to kick the petroleum habit.

Do you ever try to address the root problem of an issue? Or, like the current adminstration, do you just specialize in rearranging deck-chairs?

Posted by: cyntax on January 8, 2007 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

The implication is that there is nothing to lose so what the hell? Try a partition! After all, that British Mandate for Iraq worked out soooo well...

By the way, did you ever notice that all the people calling for partition are from Western countries; not a single Iraqi of any group has endorsed the notion?

Besides the problem of Turkey and Iran rejecting an independent Kurdistan, there is the danger of ethnic cleansing and potential genocide if the ongoing violence in Iraq becomes even more uncontrollable; the problem of disputed cities like Kirkuk and Baghdad itself; the uneven distribution of oil resources; the difficulty of protecting rights of women and minorities; the dangerous role of militias that represent various ethnic or sectarian groups...

There are a lot of reasons that people familiar with the region reject the notion.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

grape_crush -- to the best of my memory, the source was the Washington Times

Posted by: ex-liberal on January 8, 2007 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

And why exactly is partition such a bad thing?/l>

And how exactly would patition be accomplished?

1) Diplomacy - yeah that'll work (see above)
2) The US military moving populations and keeping them in place - sounds like fun, eh?

Posted by: Keith G on January 8, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK
the military is not killing Iraqi's.

So you're claiming that that the US not actually inflicting any fatalities in its operations, including overt offensive operations, against Iraqi insurgents?

Certainly, that's not what the US military is claiming.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 8, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Jay wrote: "um......the military is not killing Iraqi's."

Would it be considered salty and colorful to mention that you are an ignorant dumbass?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 8, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

"well...

the number of americans who died in bosnia and kosovo..." - mr irony


well....

when you indiscriminately carpet bomb everyone from the air with no boots on the ground, the only casualties are the unsuspecting rubes who were under the bombs.

Smarter liberals please.


"Mainly because of the perceived instability that would result" - cyntax


Key word being "perceived", which more than not, is not reality.

Posted by: Jay on January 8, 2007 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

In preparation for President Bush's latest prime-time departure from reality, Perrspectives recommends a quartet of books that document the arrogance, naivete, deceit and miscalculations that brought the White House to the current disaster in Iraq.

For the details, see:
"Required Reading for Bush's Iraq Speech Wednesday."

Posted by: AngryOne on January 8, 2007 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

(Side note to Secular Animist: Did you see the link I put up for you?)

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

"Would it be considered salty and colorful to mention that you are an ignorant dumbass?" - secular


No, but it does demonstrate your limited debating techniques, not to mention your qaulifications as a liberal without a clue.

"So you're claiming that that the US not actually inflicting any fatalities in its operations, including overt offensive operations, against Iraqi insurgents?" - cm


That certainly was not the implication of your post. Aside from the narrowly targeted counter-insurgency operations that do result in casualties, our military is not targeting Iraqi civilians, as the left would want everyone to believe, and as the Insurgents are.

Nice head fake though.

Posted by: Jay on January 8, 2007 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Key word being "perceived", which more than not, is not reality.
Posted by: Jay

Look, ignoring the "perceived" problems of the Desert Crossings report is what got us in this mess in the first place. Do you have any reason, other than blind faith in der Decider, that Turkey and Iran wouldn't move to destroy an independent Kurdish state?

Can you ever respond to the merits of an arguement?

Posted by: cyntax on January 8, 2007 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

our military is not targeting Iraqi civilians, as the left would want everyone to believe

You mean those lefties in NCIS are cooking the evidence about the unhinged massacre of civilians in Haditha?

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK
"So you're claiming that that the US not actually inflicting any fatalities in its operations, including overt offensive operations, against Iraqi insurgents?" - cm

That certainly was not the implication of your post.

Uh, yeah, exactly; I was pointing out that it was the implication of your post. See the difference?

Aside from the narrowly targeted counter-insurgency operations that do result in casualties, our military is not targeting Iraqi civilians

I don't recall using the words "targeting" or "civilians", I referred only to the distinction between killing Iraqis with the military and talking to Iraqis (often, the same Iraqis) in terms of your complaints of the latter being an interference with Iraqi sovereignty. Whether those Iraqis were civilians or not was unrelated to the issue.

But do you mean to suggest here that in the "narrowly targeted counter-insurgency operations that do result in casualties", our military is targeting Iraqi civilians?


Posted by: cmdicely on January 8, 2007 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Do you have any reason, other than blind faith in der Decider, that Turkey and Iran wouldn't move to destroy an independent Kurdish state?" - cyntax


Do you have any reason to believe concretely that they would?


Partition has seemed to work in Bosnia, despite much of the same fears combined with the anticipation of decades long factional infighting.

Posted by: Jay on January 8, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

our military is not targeting Iraqi civilians, as the left would want everyone to believe,

Please show me a mainstream (liberal) blogger, pundit, or media outlet that is claiming this.

Bad head fake though.

Posted by: Keith G on January 8, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK
Partition has seemed to work in Bosnia

Well, except that Bosnia is a single federal state, just like Iraq is now, not partitioned into separate states. If you want to argue the partition worked in the Balkans, you would want to argue that partition of the former Yugoslavia worked, but then you'd have to recognize that the apparently mostly-manageable current situation there is the result of something like a decade of wars before something approximating stability was accomplished, not a means of avoiding major wars, and that there was no externally-planned partition, but instead the break-off of existing constituent units with active pro-independence movements, something which doesn't really exist in Iraq but for perhaps Kurdistan, and that (even given the Greek objection to the name of Macedonia) there wasn't the kind and degree of outside active hostility to any of the parts of Yugoslavia breaking away that chose to as there is from Iran, Turkey, and Syria to Iraqi Kurdistan becoming an independent state.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 8, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Do you have any reason to believe concretely that they would?

Well there is the historic record. Then there is the little bit about Turkey vowing to do just that to prevent an independent Kurdistan on their border. I lived in Turkey, off-base. The Turkish military is a professional force not to be sneered at, and not prone to casting out idle threats.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Do you have any reason to believe concretely that they would?

Yes, the history of the region:

    May 7, 2006 "Turkey and Iran have recently put more troops on their borders with northern Iraq, where Kurdish separatists maintain mountain bases. It's a troubling new development in an embattled region."

    11-19-06 "The fate of Northern Iraq or Iraqi Kurdistan promises to be one of the most sensitive issues that will affect the stability of the region. The political future of these Kurdish districts is of grave importance for the Turks. The Turks suspect a hidden agenda of the Iraqi Kurds and the Coalition Powers, an agenda that might ultimately culminate in the creation of a Kurdish state. The Turks would consider this ill fated, for such a state would “indisputably” endanger the national security and territorial integrity of Turkey by inspiring its own Kurdish population to secede."

Posted by: cyntax on January 8, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

There's also the joint meetings between Turkey, Syria, and Iran to coordinate policy and plans toward Kurdistan. There's also the infiltration of Turkish assassins into Iraqi Kurdistan when the US was already occupying Iraq which caused a bit of a row. Etc.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 8, 2007 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Please define "full scale" civil war.

I think it's when 12 inches equals 1 foot, no? In which case, we are there.

Posted by: craigie on January 8, 2007 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Partition has seemed to work in Bosnia, despite much of the same fears combined with the anticipation of decades long factional infighting.
Posted by: Jay

Apples to oranges Jay. When two countries with serious armies (Iran and Turkey) say they don't want an independent Kurdish state, you no longer are simply trying to reconcile internal differences. As far as I know, no countries threatened to invade the partioned states of Bosnia.

Posted by: cyntax on January 8, 2007 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Plus, I'm told they have wonderful fjords.

It's true! I'm pining for them now!

Posted by: craigie on January 8, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK
As far as I know, no countries threatened to invade the partioned states of Bosnia.

Well, for one thing, no part of Bosnia was partitioned off into a separate state to start with.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 8, 2007 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Plus, I'm told they have wonderful fjords.

Yeah, but....didn't GM just win car of the year?

Posted by: Keith G on January 8, 2007 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Well, for one thing, no part of Bosnia was partitioned off into a separate state to start with.
Posted by: cmdicely

Well, that explains why I was having trouble with coming up with any.

Apparently it takes a village of liberals to fill in all the gaps in Jay's understanding.

Posted by: cyntax on January 8, 2007 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

No one ever asks what exactly victory will look like. How will we know when we've won? Seems to me real winning is about making the enemy admit defeat. Does anyone think that even if every other lie and misunderstanding by this Administration were true that a militarily exhausted Al Qaeda is going to cry "uncle" and call off worldwide jihad? No, in fact, the worse they are defeated (i.e., humiliated) in Iraq, the greater will be their call for worldwide revenge, and probably the more successful it will be in recruiting for the "mother of all revenge attacks."

Posted by: bruce on January 8, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Please define "full scale" civil war.

How about this, from the Wash Post:

In first six months [of 2006], 5,640 Iraqi civilians and police were killed; 17,310 were killed in latter half, according to data provided by a health official.

I think that's close enough.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 8, 2007 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

from Collier's article:

In interviews with Chronicle correspondents in Iraq and by telephone with a Chronicle reporter in San Francisco, two dozen Sunni and Shiite hard-liners revealed a paradox. None could fully explain how to bring his side's sectarian killings under control, yet all emphasized that peace cannot take hold without the approval of those holding the weapons.

Perhaps if the U.S. helps the elected government to defeat the militias piecmeal, since each militia acting in opposition to its leaders (e.g. the militias formerly controlled by al Sadr) has a small following, then the *approval* of those holding the weapons won't be necessary.

Posted by: calibantwo on January 8, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Please forgive as this Ohio bred and born guy takes a moment to celebrate the season:

Go Buckeyes!!

Posted by: Keith G on January 8, 2007 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK
No one ever asks what exactly victory will look like.

It's described in the Left Behind series. A problem some people have is trying to figure out how policy now is supposed to lead to victory. This is problematic because, quite simply, the policy isn't supposed to lead to victory, its just a way of passing time until Rapture happens.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 8, 2007 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

the policy isn't supposed to lead to victory, its just a way of passing time until Rapture happens.

And maybe turning a bit of a profit for the oil companies in the meantime.

Posted by: cyntax on January 8, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

"This is a common refrain, and I'm certainly not opposed to regional diplomacy. At the same time, it's never been obvious to me that Iraq's neighbors -- primarily Iran and Saudi Arabia -- have enough influence to stop the violence in Baghdad even if they were fully committed to trying."

This overlooks something. The worst that could happen isn't that the violence in Iraq could continue as it is now; the worst that could happen is it gets worse, and draws in neighboring countries. Of course talks won't end violence in Iraq; but perhaps they could keep a bad situation from getting even worse.

--Rick Taylor

Posted by: Rick Taylor on January 8, 2007 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Since Iran's interest is precisely opposite ours, I don't know that negotiations with them can succeed. ex-liberal

Translation: they're not going to agree with everything we want, so what's the point?

The Bush Doctirine in a nutshell.

Posted by: floopmeister on January 8, 2007 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks to GC and others for explaining the serious dangers of partitioning Iraq (due to the Turkish/Kurdistan issue) to Jay.

Again.

I don't think I could have faced explaining it all to him.

Again.

Posted by: floopmeister on January 8, 2007 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

Might it have been the NY Sun, ex-lib? Can't find anything at the Washington Times in my 5-minute Googling, but this is similar.

Lotsa conjecture based on what a few anonymous officials say. Wouldn't be the first time anonymous officials in this administration have told a few whoppers.

Cut 'n Run Jay on January 8, 2007 at 5:24 PM:

..not to mention your qaulifications as a liberal without a clue.

Actually, Jay, you are an ignorant dumbass, which would mean that Secular has a clue.

(from Jay on January 8, 2007 at 5:05 PM):

um......the military is not killing Iraqi's.

Ignorant. Dumbass. Jay.

Posted by: grape_crush on January 8, 2007 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Hi Floop! (*smiling and waving*)

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK
And maybe turning a bit of a profit for the oil companies in the meantime.

Well, sure, money being the root of all evil, the oil companies are just doing their part to protect everyone else from that source of evil in preparation for the rapture. Its a public service.


Posted by: cmdicely on January 8, 2007 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

Jay: "That's because the negotiations are viewed as the responsibility of the Iraqi Gov't. Isn't the left advocate that we should not interfere with others sovereignty?"

Which "sovereign" Iraqi government is that?

The one that does the expressed bidding of the Shiite militia?

Or the "Green Zone Puppet Theatre" that supposedly controls only those few square miles of downtown Baghdad that's been heavily garrisoned by U.S. military?

Or perhaps the Kurds up north, who wish to go their own separate way from the rest of the country?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 8, 2007 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

GC - hi! Haven't been around for a while... much bigger priorities...

A baby son, actually ;)

Posted by: floopmeister on January 8, 2007 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

the oil companies are just doing their part to protect everyone else from that source of evil in preparation for the rapture. Its a public service.

Dicely, you really should don the "droll smartass" hat more often. It's a very fetching look on you.


Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

...the serious dangers of partitioning Iraq (due to the Turkish/Kurdistan issue)....

It is wise to note that the Kurds are not innocent in the increase of tensions in this issue:

Turkey believes Kurdish separatists bombed a bus of tourists, says the UK envoy after visiting the injured. -BBC

At present, Turkey is "playing nice" since its leadership wants ino the European Union, but if:

1)EU membership is denied
2)PPK activities increase
3)the Kurds gain complete sovereignty
4)any combination thereof

the Turkish gloves will come off.

Posted by: Keith G on January 8, 2007 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Well! Congratulations! email me a picture! I do love babies, especially now that mine are grown and off to grad school. (I'll keep writing checks so long as they live not in my house.)

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Congrats floop!!

Posted by: Keith G on January 8, 2007 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK
It is wise to note that the Kurds Kurds are not innocent in the increase of tensions in this issue

Its also wise to note that the Kurds are not a homogenous mass; that Turkish Kurdish separatists are not completely innocent as it relates to Turkey's anger at "Kurds" more generally is certainly true (though its worth noting that the Turkey has sought to violently repress Kurdish identity, and is itself not innocent in the existence of a violent Kurdish resistance movement). OTOH, Turkish Kurdish separatists and the Iraqi Kurdish political parties that would likely become the government of an independent ex-Iraqi Kurdistan aren't the same thing.

Then again, there is a complex history of interrelationship, both cooperative and combative, between Kurdish separatist groups (including those that have become political parties in the current Iraqi regime) in the countries in the region, not least of all because the states in the region have sponsored each others Kurdish separatists at times as proxies against each other (notably in the Iran/Iraq war.)

Posted by: cmdicely on January 8, 2007 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen: "The Turkish military is a professional force not to be sneered at, and not prone to casting out idle threats."

The Greek Cypriots would certainly testify to that effect.

Turkey vowed in the summer of 1974 that the Greece's attempt to annex Cyprus (following the Athens-instigated coup against the Cypriot Premier, Archbishop Makarios) would not stand. It didn't.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 8, 2007 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you Edo. :)

Keith - good points. I will add one more...

You wanna see a genocide done right, you just wait until there is an independent Kurdistan and watch what will happen to the Assyrian Christians, who have called the Nineveh Plain of Northern Iraq home since long before the time of Christ.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks - the little guy's five and a half months...

GC, he just got his first passport too - that's a mighty cute photo, let me tell you! I'll try and send a snap from my Yahoo address later (can't access it at work...)

Hey Keith, it will also be interesting if the Turks DO gain EU membership, since the EU will then border Iran, Iraq and Syria. I wonder how that might change/mtoivate EU influence in these areas?

Posted by: floopmeister on January 8, 2007 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK
watch what will happen to the Assyrian Christians, who have called the Nineveh Plain of Northern Iraq home since long before the time of Christ.

Okay, look, I know the competition among different Christian groups for historical primacy gets intense at times, but a Christian group supposedly existing "long before the time of Christ" is clearly way over the top.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 8, 2007 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Touche' Dicely. I really could have put that better. And when I encouraged this behavior I should have known I would be a recipient. :)

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

Bush and Co. are off in Cloud Cuckoo Land, but that just makes it worse. There is no evidence whatsoever that we can, or could positively influence the outcome in Iraq. There is no evidence that we could ever have succeeded as described by the Bush administration. Their is no successful model for what they want to do. The only evidence we have is that a nation cannot occupy a foreign people that are nationalistically self aware. The models of "success" are few, and filled with, bloodshed, internment camps, and ultimate withdrawal anyway.

Posted by: Tom on January 8, 2007 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK
I don't know that negotiations with them can succeed ex-liberal at 1:52 PM
Especially, if you're too stubborn to negotiate like Bush. Checking on the arrested Iranians
…And why exactly is partition such a bad thing? Jay at 4:34 PM
Why not check with your Dear Leader for the answer on that?
…All the more reason to drill in ANWR, no? Jay at 4:45 PM
Aren't you in the loop? Cheney has that covered. There's 3-4 trillion dollars worth of oil in Iraq and there are no environmental problems with extracting it.
um......the military is not killing Iraqi's. Iraqi's are killing Iraqi's. Just FYI. Jay at 5:05 PM
Are you sure about that?
source was the Washington Times ex-liberal at 5:16 PM
Ahh, The Rev Moon's Washington Times. Well you sure convinced meeee.

It took a thousand years of warfare to establish and settle nation states in Europe. The Middle East has been under the rule of various empires for far longer than that. These people need be allowed to seek and find their own destiny in their own way. Unfortunately for them the West has stored its oil
under their land.

Posted by: Mike on January 8, 2007 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

No one ever asks what exactly victory will look like.

Sunni militias stop shooting Shi'ites; Shi'ite militias stop shooting (torturing, etc.) Sunnis; the elected representatives work out deals on oil revenues; the increased power of the elected government is effectively directed against criminals; oil and other revenues continue to finance reconstruction; future elections are held on schedule and the results adhered to. Sort of like India after the partition, or El Salvador, or Nicaruagua now, where Daniel Ortega finally won a regularly scheduled and freely contested election. Or perhaps like Indonesia since Suharto, or Venezuela before Chavez. I Suppose it could be like Argentina or Brazil after the generals. Not likely to be as well run as California. Maybe more-or-less like Turkey after Ataturk. Could be like the American South after the Civil war, where, after the withdrawal of the occupying forces, a substantial minority was gradually deprived of many of its civil liberties. That's a depressing thought: Like the American South!

Posted by: calibantwo on January 8, 2007 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

If Cheney wants his oil so badly, why doesn't he just befriend all the militias and take them hunting?

The war is about corrupted elites. Chalabi and a bunch of the 'electeds' are as despised by many Iraqis as Bush is here.

We aren't trying to preserve its democratically elected government. We're trying to preserve a government motivated by the same things our elites are motivated by: acquisition of wealth and power. Elites feel comfortable among elites because they know their peers have a price they can be bought off with.

Populists like al-Sadr are not so trusted, because they march to a different oildrum. But the way to a more peaceful outcome requires that he be negotiated with.

There ARE Sunnis he can bring in to the fold. But there's no way out that can be achieved without further ethnic purges. It may suck, but that was obvious from the outset. Selling it to neighboring Sunni states remains a critical dillemma.

Talks between the Saudis/Kuwaitis and al-Sistani/al-Sadr seem to be the only way to achieve some workable compromise.

Posted by: Kevin Hayden on January 8, 2007 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

Oh God. What have we done to the cradle of civilization if we have Alabamized it?

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

This is a common refrain, and I'm certainly not opposed to regional diplomacy. At the same time, it's never been obvious to me that Iraq's neighbors -- primarily Iran and Saudi Arabia -- have enough influence to stop the violence in Baghdad even if they were fully committed to trying. Can anyone point me to a well-informed piece that makes the case that they do?

Necessary but not sufficient is a more appropriate description. That is part of the case made in The Iraq Study Group Report for greater involvement by regional players; specifically, The Iraq International Support Group.

Posted by: has407 on January 8, 2007 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

boy the wingnuts are restless tonight aren't they?

they're all upset that their little war of liberation turned nto the fucking mess that the liberals predeicted

liberals are right, wingnuts are wrong

the wingnuts are also really upset that day by day, this quagmire that they cheerlead for (although most wingnut war hawks are too chicenshit to actually fight in a war. they'll read books and lecture you night and day on this war and that maneuver). but they were wrng, utterly and totally about this war

it sticks in their craw too

but at the end of the day, the liberals are right and the rethuglicans are wrong and there is NOTHING theyr can do to change that

Posted by: maccabee on January 8, 2007 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

from the article cited by KD: Yet the insurgents' demands seem to leave little ground for compromise. The former Republican Guard general said the current government must be dissolved and replaced with "a military or political command council." He did not explain how this council should be chosen, except that it would be made up of "patriotic Iraqis" who are "not loyal to Iran" -- a demand that presumably excludes members of the leading Shiite organizations.
...
Then, he said, the U.S. military must grant recognition to the insurgents and allow them to make a televised appeal to the former army to muster its ranks.
...
"What is most important is to call the former army back to service and implement the obligatory deployment of the army to show the national unity of Iraqis," he said. Within a month and a half, he claimed, more than 100,000 members of the former army could report to duty, followed two months later by withdrawal of one-half of all U.S. troops. Within another six months, new elections would be held, followed by departure of the remaining Americans.

I would appear that what these insurgents want is the sort of result that would come from their having defeated the invading army, instead of having lost to it.

This is a little reminiscent of the "negotiations" between Lincoln and representatives of Davis, where Davis required the recognition of his government as a prerequisite for peace. Lincoln, however, required complete capitulation by the Confederates, and the "negotiations" lasted just a few minutes.

It seems to me that the next elections are likely to be better if they are not administered by a reconstituted and mostly Sunni-led Baathist army.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 9, 2007 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

I would appear that what these insurgents want is the sort of result that would come from their having defeated the invading army, instead of having lost to it.

Um, Marler, you might want to check the scoreboard regarding the insurgency versus the US military. Hint: We aren't winning.

This is a little reminiscent of the "negotiations" between Lincoln and representatives of Davis, where Davis required the recognition of his government as a prerequisite for peace. Lincoln, however, required complete capitulation by the Confederates, and the "negotiations" lasted just a few minutes.

Again, Marler, you might want to check on who is depserate to negotiate a way out of this mess and who isn't. Hint: The insurgents aren't leaving, 'cause it's their country, and they know we have to leave some time.

Your comment is deliberately obtuse (fueled with testosterone-laced but meritless chest thumping as a bonus!) or willfully dishonest. Although the possibilities aren't mmutually exclusive, knowing you as I do, I'm leaning toward dishonest.

Posted by: Gregory on January 9, 2007 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

We aren't winning.

Nobody is winning. Of all the parties, the Sunni/Baathist/jihadists seem to be in the weakest bargaining position, and those are whom I quoted. If it is dishonest or obscurantist to say so, then I shall try to make the most of it.

Meanwhile, the jihadists/Islamists/ al Qaeda have taken a serious hit in Somalia. I wonder whether it will be another case of a "hydra-headed" monster, and tens of thousands more will heed Ayman al Zawahiri's call of a few weeks ago for jihad in Somalia. Of if bin Laden's "large horse" analogy will govern, and al Qaeda will stay away because of the defeat.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 9, 2007 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

quoting Drum again:
The only possible path for success in Iraq involves serious negotiation with its most radical players: the Sunni-led insurgents and their archenemies, the Shiite militias.
...
The United States wants to marginalize these players, not negotiate with them, and interviews suggest that the extremists are pretty unlikely negotiation partners in any case.

Since the extremists are pretty unlikely negotiating partners, a possible winning strategy is for the U.S. to assist the elected government in defeating the extremists. The one group of people that has most clearly lost is the group of Sunni/baathist/jihadist extremists. When the "ethnic cleansing"/"internal migration" is completed, they'll be sealed out of the rest of Iraq as effectively as they are sealed out of Iraqi Kurdistan. It would be a shame to let them regain rule of Iraq by negotiation, which appears, from the quote I posted earlier, to be their goal.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 9, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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