Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 15, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

LOSING BY WINNING?....Fareed Zakaria argues that the most worrisome possibility of George Bush's surge is not that it might fail, but that it might work:

If the 20,000 additional American troops being sent to the Iraqi capital focus primarily on Sunni insurgents, there's a chance the Shiite militias might get bolder. Colonel Duke puts it bluntly: "[The Mahdi Army] is sitting on the 50-yard line eating popcorn, watching us do their work for them."

So what will happen if Bush's new plan "succeeds" militarily over the next six months? Sunnis will become more insecure as their militias are dismantled. Shiite militias will lower their profile on the streets and remain as they are now, ensconced within the Iraqi Army and police. That will surely make Sunnis less likely to support the new Iraq. Shiite political leaders, on the other hand, will be emboldened.

....The greatest danger of Bush's new strategy, then, isn't that it won't work but that it will -- and thereby push the country one step further along the road to all-out civil war....The U.S. Army will be actively aiding and assisting in the largest program of ethnic cleansing since Bosnia. Is that the model Bush wanted for the Middle East?

The New York Times has more on why this might -- or might not -- happen.

Kevin Drum 1:54 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (52)

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We had these kinds of short-term successes in Vietnam, thanks to overwhelming military superiority—and they always led to larger failures soon thereafter.

Posted by: Kenji on January 15, 2007 at 2:35 AM | PERMALINK

Our choices are to side with the government, Sadr, and Iran or take on everyone working against a national unity government (in other words, everyone but the amish). I don't see where "success" is an option and I personally don't see a scenario where the Shiites lay low. We're the bitches.

I know Fareed was born into the pundit caste and trained appropriately, but I'd sure like to hear some other muslim voices (diplomats, military strategists, poltical scientists, etc.) on the editorial page. He's consistently about 30% off the mark.

Posted by: B on January 15, 2007 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

What a spot he maneuvered into. It takes talent to screw the pooch this thoroughly. The Saudi's and the Iranians are chewing up our military in their proxy war, and none of the chuckleheads in charge can see it.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 15, 2007 at 2:47 AM | PERMALINK

i have no idea anymore how to define the "greatest" danger of the astonishing FUBAR that is Bush policy on iraq, but no, i do not think that most "worrisome" aspect of bush's latest delusional approach to iraq is that it might "work."

monkeys may produce shakespeare, but bush is not even as capable as a monkey pounding a typewriter....

Posted by: howard on January 15, 2007 at 3:10 AM | PERMALINK

... where the hits just keep on coming!

I just spent nearly three hours watching The Good Shepherd (highly recommended for those who enjoy a movie that challenges them) and I come home, go online, and you expect me to wrap my brain around Fareed Zakaria's contention? Besides, he already alluded to it this morning on This Week with George Steppinfetchit.

I can't think of any of this now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about it tomorrow, at Tara. After all, tomorrow is another day.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 15, 2007 at 3:19 AM | PERMALINK

But Bush is complaining that Iran is helping the insurgents!

The insurgents must be Shiite, but they're not...or maybe they are...who knows?

Iran helping sunni insurgents attacking Shia?

Man, is everyone crazy.

Just who are the extra troops suppose to attack?

The white rabbit?

Posted by: James on January 15, 2007 at 3:39 AM | PERMALINK

You know, I am still waiting for someone to explain how the "surge" differs from the normal fluctuations in troop levels. We have 132,000 soldiers in Iraq right now. With an additional 20,000 we are up to 152,000 soldiers--still below the 160,000 we had there at one time. So how is this "surge" a new, improved, different strategy?

I would more worried that the US plan might "work" if I was convinced that the "surge" was real, not just Bushco spinning normal troop rotations. Remember before the last election when normal troop rotations were being billed as "bringing troops home?" As for the concern that the US could end up doing ethnic cleansing for the Shi'ia, given what we are doing in Iraq now, our methods, the government we are supporting--are we not already involved in ethnic cleansing for the Shi'ia?

Conservative reasoning is dangerously hampered by their inability to see past ideological labels to the grim reality: If the POTUS calls it a "surge" then it must really be a "surge".

Posted by: PTate in FR on January 15, 2007 at 3:58 AM | PERMALINK

The likelihood is that the extra troops will be attacking the Shia militia - the Mahdi army - not the Sunni. The latest inbtelligence is that the Sunni in Baghdad are not carrying out aggressive operations against the Coalition and are distancing themselves from the foreign Al Qaida insurgents. American aims are primarily to take out the Sadrists by sending into the Shia areas of the city snatch squads backed by tanks and helicopter gunships that will target leading Shia figures, especially Moqtada himself. This policy has already been rehearsed in Basra by the British who recently stormed a police station that had been infiltrated and taken over by Shia militia. The police station was destroyed and the police arrested. The Americans will try to avoid a direct full scale confrontation with the Mahdi army, which would bring with it the danger of a bloodbath, much of Sadr City destroyed by ground and air power, and a desperate refugee problem. There are said to be a secret agreement between Maliki and the Americans to this effect. The Saudis have forcefully emphasised to the Americans their sympathy for the Sunni cause in Iraq and their unwillingness to accept a Shia (and therefore pro-Iranian) total dominance of the political scene in Iraq. Neutralising the Shia militia would be a first step in the forthcoming Israeli and American - and perhaps British - military action against Iran.

The question surely is whether this strategy can succeed - and a further question is whether it would be a good thing if it did succeed.

Posted by: mike g on January 15, 2007 at 4:09 AM | PERMALINK


Just who are the extra troops suppose to attack?
The white rabbit?

Trust me Peter, the White Rabbit had it coming...

Posted by: Bad Rabbit on January 15, 2007 at 5:13 AM | PERMALINK

How are we to define "success"? The imnvasion of Iraq was a success in the short term. Baghdad was taken with minicule Coalition losses, Saddam dethroned and Iraq liberated from Baathist dictatorship. Mission accomplished. Longer term, the war has been a disaster. In no real sense of the term is Iraq "free". The populace lives in fear, many flee the country to live as refugees, the economy is in chaos, thousands are dying brutal deaths, the country is fracured and ungovernable, and only the occupying troops keep the place together.

The invasion of Somalia has been a "success". An Islamist administration has been overthrown, the legal government restored, and terrorist operatives driven from the capital. But the three targetted Al Qaida leaders were missed, scores of innocent nomads massacred by American aircraft in error for terrorists, conditions made ideal for the return of the warlords, and the vast majority of the people incensed against America and Ethiopia. Success? The re-creation of a failed state, a haven for terrorists. The perceived confirmation of America as a rogue state that regularly carries out frequent aggressive military attacks on countries that themselves have not transgressed other nation's borders.

If American forces do - as they probably will - kill or arrest Moqtada and disarm or destroy the Mahdi army, this will be presented as a success and victory. Bush will be vindicated and strengthened in his resolve to attack Iran, and will be able to relinquish office feeling assured of his place in history as a great president. But what will be the long term and indeed short term consequences of this policy? What unanticipated problems will arise?

Posted by: Ben on January 15, 2007 at 5:14 AM | PERMALINK

The Burns-Tavernise-Santora article in the NYTimes is abysmally bleak in in its implications. If they're right, and I don't see why I should think they aren't, then this "surge" has no chance whatsoever of producing a better outcome.

Posted by: SqueakyRat on January 15, 2007 at 6:02 AM | PERMALINK

well it's a clever twist by Fareed but a little over wrought - fact is any scenario plays out badly. But I remain convinced that 'surge' plan is designed not only not to work, but never to be implemented: they're trying to force the Democrats into a move that will end the war for them, that's what all this sabre rattling about Iran is about - they're raising the stakes. McCain wouldn't have signed onto it otherwise, he'd be making more of a fuss about how limited it is if he actually thought it was gonna happen.

Posted by: saintsimon on January 15, 2007 at 7:23 AM | PERMALINK

Sunnis are being slaughtered now by Shia death squads. Many are fleeing the country, in fear of their lives. It's hard to see how an American led end to the infighting could be worse for the Sunnis.

For a different POV from an Iraqi, see http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/

Omar reports that terror cells are already reacting to Bush's speech by moving from Baghdad to other cities. This is good for Baghdad, but bad for the cities the terrorists move to

Posted by: ex-liberal on January 15, 2007 at 7:25 AM | PERMALINK

Does anyone remember?

'It would be easier if I were dictator'?
Maybe he meant 'of the world'.

Posted by: slanted tom on January 15, 2007 at 7:57 AM | PERMALINK

Fareed Zakaria is one of those MSM pundits who has never been held accountable for supporting, nay, cheerleading the President’s war plan:

sure there are huge risks, but everything might work out beautifully

He even proposed that a new social order would spread across the Middle East based on the reality of $10.00 a barrel oil. Yeah right.

So why take note of, much less trust, anything he says?

Posted by: Keith G on January 15, 2007 at 8:01 AM | PERMALINK

Both the Sunni and Shia militias are our enemies. It's up to the president to decide which is the greater threat, and go after them first. If that means making a temporary alliance with the other enemy before turning on them, so be it. It's all worth it to bring democracyt to Iraq.

Posted by: Al on January 15, 2007 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with saintsimon: "it's a clever twist by Fareed."

It's the sort of "unconventional perspective" to which pundits sometimes resort to fill the column inches while evading the obvious.

Posted by: BroD on January 15, 2007 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

Shiite. Client. State. To. Counterbalance. Iran.

It's the best explanation for targeting the Sunni militias and strengthening the Shiites in doing so. And I can imagine the Bush administration seeing that as a relatively good outcome. Because then they can push against Iran by just supporting the Iraqi Shiite client as the two compete for leadership of Shiite muslims.

If I'm right, look for spin coming from the right soon about some chosen Shiite as being a relatively good leader who might responsibly guide his country, etc.

Posted by: Andrew Edwards on January 15, 2007 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

"Both the Sunni and Shia militias are our enemies. "

Does this mean that the Bush plan is to wipe out the entire population of Iraq? All Shiites ? All Sunnis? All Muslims?

Posted by: coldhotel on January 15, 2007 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Dems don't oppose surge; surge succeeds: Bush is a visionary genius and bipartisan uniter.

Dems don't oppose surge; surge fails: Dems get the blame since they now control congress

Dems oppose the surge; surge succeeds: Bush is a genius and the dems are naysaying nellies

Dems oppose the surge; surge fails: Dems responsible for 'losing Iraq'.


Posted by: Wilbur on January 15, 2007 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal It's hard to see how an American led end to the infighting could be worse for the Sunnis.

You really think we can cause an end to the infighting? Or do you think we're just going to move it around a little bit. It's hard to imagine the Shiites not continuing to press their advantage while we're there and I don't see good things happening if the US breaks ranks significantly with the government.

Posted by: B on January 15, 2007 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

Hey - if any of you Lefties are able to take a break from your normal daily routine of obsessing about Bush - see what the lawyers at PowerLineBlog have to say about Martin Luther King Jr today.

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on January 15, 2007 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Oh, now I get it. So now, even if we win, we lose. Sounds like you crackpots have all your bases covered.

You know, it was better when you fringe groups had your little Maoist love-ins. Now the internet has given you people a disproproportionate sounding board, IMHO.

I tremble for my country.

Posted by: egbert on January 15, 2007 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

"some chosen Shiite as being a relatively good leader who might responsibly guide his country, etc."

Agreed. Installation of a new 'compliant Saddam' strongman is the most likely outcome in Iraq.

This will begin another cycle of suppression but it will restore a totaltarian form of stability.

>"obsessing about Bush"

Bush is worth obsessing about. His rule is the greatest danger this country faces.

Posted by: Buford on January 15, 2007 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

I tremble for my country.

And which country country is that eggy, which country is that?

Posted by: Keith G on January 15, 2007 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Keith G.: He even proposed that a new social order would spread across the Middle East based on the reality of $10.00 a barrel oil. Yeah right.

I think that was when I stopped listening to him completely.

I'm not sure if he actually believed that democracy promotion (via the delicate hand of projected US military force) would spread pro-israel, pro-western democracies across the middle east or whether he just thought being open to the concept would help him keep his "thinking independant moderate" label.

It would be nice if we lived in a world where the editorials were written by people with intelligence and foreign policy experience and they did so without consideration for domestic political maneuvering. As many of us are apparently unfamiliar with the type of reaction we should expect in response to sending our troops into the streets of a muslim nation, it really could have been constructive. For example, an honest editorial written jointly by Ford, Carter, GHWB, and Clinton in 2003.

Instead we have the same old pundits feeling the country's pulse and then triangulating their positions accordingly (moderate, center right, etc.). The only honest pundits end up being the über-nuts like Pat Buchanan.

And those idiotic pundits are doing the same thing today. It's just that after feeling the countries pulse -- the moderate, center-left, and center-right positions have all converged to the following: Bush is an incompetent fool who has lost this war and has no clear vision for victory. Apparently, they have to root around for different ways to say it, many of which (Thanks Fareed!) ignore conditions on the ground, Iraqi politics, Iraqi history, and/or the laws of physics.

Posted by: B on January 15, 2007 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

I've been wondering what happens if nothing significant happens?

No clear cut achievement of a more peaceful Iraq over all nor a measurable counter surge by the bad guys. Just a continuation of the 2-3 Americans killed and 14 serious injuries per day.

The bad guys seem pretty skilled and, at least for the moment, satisfied with pressing their advantages and not acting out in ways that trap them in a disadvantage. If Maliki is as disingenuous as he seems, he will do enough to come close to GWB's demands, but no more. It seems to me, for the moment, the status quo is advantageous for him and his masters.

Posted by: Keith G on January 15, 2007 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

This is just casting around for an explanation to a situation these people can’t even begin to understand. It is like these guys are writing soap opera scripts that could have any number of narrative outcomes. Their ‘analysis’ are bereft of empirical data and they are devoid of history, military or otherwise. These are cocktail party impressions of a fantastically complex situation on the other side of the world.

If history is our guide than George Bush and his neoimperial war will fail in the most astounding way. All the signs point in that direction. The Israelis were capable of seeing their recent incursion into Lebanon as a no-win situation. They saw it clearly in real time. But Americans, particularly the elites, seem as if they have no capacity to understand the nature of the events they are witnessing. However rich, well equip, earnest, and dedicated, they hope and fear in a fantasy world.

Posted by: bellumregio on January 15, 2007 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

The absurdity of the day: Cheney says "We do not want (Iran) doing what they can to destabilize the situation inside Iraq."

We invade Iraq for no obvious good reason, capture their president, disband the army (creating 400,000 unemployed men with guns and military training), debaathify the government (firing all the bureaucrats who actually know how to run the country), fail to secure 340,000 tons of high explosives, and Iran is the one destabilizing Iraq?

Posted by: anandine on January 15, 2007 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Has anyone seen a pundit spell out a realistic worst case scenario?

I'm afraid they think they're looking at it.

Posted by: B on January 15, 2007 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

My father-in-law won big at the track one day, although he doesn't know shit about horses.

He's a CPA. He had gotten all the available racing newspapers and local sports columns, and (without betting) charted which columnist had most accurately predicted the win-place-show outcome of the first four races. Then he bet big on that writer's picks in the last four races.

So why are we still talking about Fareed?

Posted by: olds88 on January 15, 2007 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

You know, it scares me that little ole jim can stay so far ahead of so many “pundits” and apparent decision-makers. And I say that in all humbleness because I know there are severe limits to what I know about Iraq.

I have been both stating (that we could not) and asking since day one how we would avoid taking sides in this mess and thus become a party to (and the primary enabler of) the killing of a great number of people. Since the Iraqi government was formed (and it is certainly not legitimate, is it?), I have noted that our resources have primarily supported the government, meaning the Shiites, including their militias.

The Shiites will continue killing scores of Sunnis and forcing them out of neighborhoods for as long as we are there and supporting the “Iraqi government”.

Is this what we want? Play God; take sides as though we know what we are doing?

We don’t know what we are doing. We don’t know how this will play out. To say that I resent my government using my tax money to behave in such a haphazard, immoral fashion is a huge understatement.

Or, will our escalation end up being used against the Mahdi Army? Some think it will. Same facts apply. We don’t know what we’re doing. Other than helping a lot of people get killed.

It’s stupid. It’s immoral. It’s disgusting.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 15, 2007 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

The U.S. Army will be actively aiding and assisting in the largest program of ethnic cleansing since Bosnia.

If you toss in the people -- Sunni, Assyrian Christians, Turkomnen, Kurds-- who have moved 'voluntarily', either inside Iraq or across borders, it's probably bigger than Bosnia already.

Posted by: Conrad (Con) Sordino on January 15, 2007 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

The only way the neo-cons and W. Bush can achieve what they want in Iraq, a stable market so US and Anglo oil companies can make profits, is to back a winner. It does not matter if that winner is Sunni or Shiite, as long as they can provide the market stability the oil companies covet. If there is a problem with making the Shiites the winners, it is they think a nation's natural resources belong to the people and may not cooperate with their own expoitation.

Posted by: Brojo on January 15, 2007 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Look, it's no surprise that George W. Bush could fuck up a wet dream. His whole life is one long litany of failure. He has failed his way to the top.

Josh Marshall, over at talkingpointsmemo.com, has a good link this morning to a story about a guy who was in charge of de-Baathification under Paul Bremer, who is now being brought back to undo everything he did four years ago. This is the Keystone Kops do regime change. Because there was absolutely no oversight by the deeply criminal and incompetent Republican Congress, none of this was ever exposed to the light of day. The Democrats sure have their hands full, cleaning up after Republicans, as so often happens.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 15, 2007 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

We've got to expand our thinking beyond the mere
physical world of warfare.

What we have "unleashed" in Iraq isn't just a simple insurgency, it's a mindset that is crystallizing all over the world.

The harder we try to kill the "enemies," (which are hard to define these days) the stronger they become.

To understand Iraq it helps to look at New Orleans; the greenzone is around the french quarter, while much of the city is basically
home for undesireables, abandoned, fraught with volence and loathing.

Katrina should have helped us to see the folly of war, when we need our resources to rebuild after
ongoing earth events. Think of the untold billions that have gone into Iraq that could've helped relocate all those displaced NOs. Think how important having a National Guard is, here (not over yonder dying for somebody else's "freedom")

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 15, 2007 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

"America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher of freedom to all, and the champion and vindicator only of her own," said John Quincy Adams. The reason is that, in the midst of the Fog of War, the U.S., despite the most noble intentions, may end up, in the long run, hurting the people it tried to help.

With Iraq, this is true, as nearly 600,000 Iraqis died in our mission to bring them freedom, and the unified, secular, feminist, Westernized Iraq our leaders dreamed up is now becoming nothing more than a fantasy of the past.

What this means is not that all war should be avoided. If the U.S. has to go to war to destroy an enemy, it should. But what this means is that "humanitarian intervention" is a misnomer, and wars should not be taken on for humanitarian purposes, as wars do not tend to have humanitarian results.

When Clinton involved the U.S. in his "humanitarian intervention" for Kosovo, ten times the amount of civilians died compared to the amount that perished before the war. When President Bush launched his humanitarian war to prevent future genocide in and bring democracy to Iraq, far more Iraqis died and saw their property destroyed than would have otherwise, and Bush's goals are yet to be fulfilled.

Before our elites decide to involve us in another unnecessary "humanitarian intervention" in Darfur, they should look at the track record. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, that humanitarian intervention proves. We should only go to war, and war means killing, and a lot of it, if we need to destroy an enemy that threatens our Republic. No other reason.

Posted by: brian on January 15, 2007 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

"It's hard to see how an American led end to the infighting could be worse for the Sunnis." - ex-lib 1/15/07

"I don't think anybody...could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile." - Condi Rice 5/16/02

"I don't think anyone....anticipated the breach of the levees." - President Bush 9/1/05

Posted by: mr. irony on January 15, 2007 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

You do realize that Fareed Zakaria is Sunni, right?

Posted by: Name on January 15, 2007 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

The word pundit in reality means a person who can memorize and recite without understanding the various chants which are parts of the ritualistic Hindu tradition.

The current crop of pundits, including Mr. Zakaria, fit this defition to the last t.

Posted by: gregor on January 15, 2007 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Iraqis of all factions know their history and they all think the Anglo-Americans want their oil. There were the Germans and the Turkish Petroleum Company, the Compagnie Francaise des Pétroles, the expensive British Mesopotamian garrison, the suppression of the Sufran tribe and the uprising of 1920, Gertrude Bell and Winston Churchill and bombs of the empire of good intentions. The Iraqis are also aware of the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran at the request of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company after his nationalization of the oil industry in 1951.

No, the people on the ground in Iraq have heard it all before- the rhetoric of democracy, the bright shining future, but on the inside it was always the oil the foreigners wanted.

Posted by: bellumregio on January 15, 2007 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Is this really any kind of new strategy? Isn't it really just Stay the Course Enhanced?

Posted by: cld on January 15, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Ignore Egbert. He's not an American.

Posted by: CN on January 15, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

The Iraqis are also aware of the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran at the request of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company after his nationalization of the oil industry in 1951.

Cool! I have someone to sing harmony with!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 15, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

"I tremble for my country"

Found his calling...

Posted by: Tim on January 15, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

It is like these guys are writing soap opera scripts that could have any number of narrative outcomes.

I've been waiting for GWB's good twin to regain his memory, come out of hiding, and replace his evil twin as President.

Posted by: Disputo on January 15, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

I know Fareed was born into the pundit caste and trained appropriately, but I'd sure like to hear some other muslim voices (diplomats, military strategists, poltical scientists, etc.) on the editorial page. He's consistently about 30% off the mark.

Well, I don´t necessarily support him.
But you do have to admit that only "about 30% off the mark" is a pretty good record! :)

For most other pundits and especially Bush administration officials, the record would probably be "consistently about 90-100% off the mark". :)

And don´t forget that a few journalists, that were right 90-100% of the time, lost their job. While probably none of the people who were wrong 100% of the time lost their job. So, being right 70% of the time without losing his job isn´t that bad. :)

Posted by: Detlef on January 15, 2007 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

While a fierce battle over President Bush's "new way forward" in Iraq is being joined in the halls of Congress, an even more ferocious war of words is taking place to win the hearts and minds of the American people. To understand the differences between "surge", "escalation" and "augmentation," see:

"Understanding the White House's Iraq Vocabulary."

Posted by: AngryOne on January 15, 2007 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

John Murtha said congress will build a case that shows we can't continue down this road, spending 8 billion dollars a month. That is clearly being prepared. The vice president was way too casual and relaxed this weekend on Faux News for the situation. And the president on 60 minutes, so off base about deciding and educating. It is surreal.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 15, 2007 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

Zakaria may have a point: the Shia let the US get rid of the Sunni insurgency, which will allow them to have a firmer foothold in the country's covernance. Of course, the Shia are aligned more (Badr Corps) or less (Mahdi Army) with the Iranians, but regardless, they are not aligned with the Saudi Sunnis. After the Sunnis have been made by the Americans to sit on the sidelines, the Badr Corps and the Mahdi Army might fight it out for dominance, but, in either case, Iran wins.

Posted by: raj on January 16, 2007 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know what's to prevent the Sunni militias from laying low as well. Certainly the Salafists will continue fighting, but how large a proportion of the Sunni insurgency are they?

What doesn't make sense to me is that the WH wants to simultaneously lessen the influence of Iran and Sadr. Anyone thinking the difference would be made up by Maliki's govt is in fantasyland.

Anyway, it's probably all pointless. If doctrine says that successful anit-insurgency forces should be 20/1000, and Baghdad is 5.7 million, they're still going to be way short, even with the "surge". The last Baghdad "surge" didn't do shit, why should this one? Because the pundits say so?

I think it's about Bush taking the shitty option out many shitty options that he thinks makes him look good. Once he's gone, he'll blame everyone else.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on January 16, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is never going to look good.
Only one twice-elected president has seen his ratings fall as low as Bush's in his second term: Richard Nixon, during the months preceding his resignation.

He has done nothing on the home front except tax cuts for the rich, he ignored the poor, the elderly and the disabled in the Katrina Hurricane.

Powerful people in his administration bungled the Iraq war--even historians say there was rampant wishful thinking. Failed or failing--it is truly a national struggle. Again I recommend reading the assessment of historian Sean Wilentz in rollingstonemagazine.com issue 999 5/4/06

Barack Obama says we are still mired in a war that should have never been waged. I like him too.
Too much death from sectarian violence--many women were killed today.
Mr. Bush in an interview with PBS Jim Leherer--did he say he does not approve of what is happening in Iraq? Jim says we helped create it. Put the egg back together? Bush sees it as the cracked egg--with still a chance to move past the cracked egg. It is insane...
Bush says we have a fantastic economy, but the psychology is down because of the war.
Keith Olbermann says Mr. Bush equates deaths to a loss of peace of mind at home, claiming that as a sacrifice. Insane. Jonathan Alter says Bush is the only president to ever cut taxes at war time--the last time taxes were raised, we started a big boom in the economy. The president lied saying Gen Casey asked for more troops--untrue.
Jim Webb will offer the alternative state of the union speech soon--the decorated combat veteran. Very interesting--those other than Colin Powell never saw a shot fired. Olbermann is going strong tonight, as always.
Says fear, and more fear, are the goals of Fox News--fear fallout, outrageous, on '24'--the show finished up with a good old mushroom cloud.
Is '24' propaganda??--the guy who made the video "Outfoxed," says we know how susceptible people are to fear--the tragedy is how this administration has played on fears, and Fox has used it over and over. The irrational right claims the news is fixed, but shouldn't the same groups say that 24 is brainwashing. That show is going with a narrative that torture works--a ticking timebomb, where you get false information: A disservice, a false narrative that people get. John McCain did a cameo and joked about it--Chertoff further blurred the lines--Cheney said '24'was his favorite show. This raises eyebrows. They are blurring fact with fiction. This is good commentary on Olbermann. Use of fear to create a concern in the country, say you better be very afraid--we need to push against it and ask the hard questions--from Robert Greenwald of Outfoxed.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 16, 2007 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK



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