Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 29, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

RAMADI....Both the LA Times (here) and the New York Times (here) have features in today's papers about American success in the city of Ramadi, which has become this year's version of Tall Afar: the shining success story that everyone in the Army wants to show off. So which account should you read? Answer: If you want the feel-good version of the story, read the LA Times, but if you want at least a hint at the context of what's really going on, read the New York Times:

Many Sunni tribal leaders, once openly hostile to the American presence, have formed a united front with American and Iraqi government forces against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

....Some American officials readily acknowledge that they have entered an uncertain marriage of convenience with the tribes, some of whom were themselves involved in the insurgency, to one extent or another....These sudden changes have raised questions about the ultimate loyalties of the United States' new allies.

....The turnabout began last September, when a federation of tribes in the Ramadi area came together as the Anbar Salvation Council to oppose the fundamentalist militants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia....For all the sheiks' hostility toward the Americans, they realized that they had a bigger enemy, or at least one that needed to be fought first, as a matter of survival.

Italics mine. Ramadi really is a success story (as was Tall Afar), and it's heartening to see that U.S. forces are smart enough to find wedges where they can and exploit them. At the same time, even in Ramadi, the insurgency is far from gone. Once al-Qaeda has been safely dispatched, how long will it be until the rest of the Sunni factions decide to turn their attention back to an American occupying force that looks like it's planning to stay forever?

Conversely, how would that dynamic change if we provided the sheiks with credible assurances that American troops would begin withdrawing in the forseeable future? Without that, our success in Ramadi is likely to be short lived.

Kevin Drum 12:34 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (93)

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Comments

The Sheiks are getting rid of the biggest threat first. Doesn't mean they don't see us as a threat as well. So they go after al-Qaeda while we arm and train their men.

Someone better figure out how to make friends with these guys in the meantime, otherwise it won't be a success story anymore.

Posted by: tomeck on April 29, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

The $64 billion question, for me, is why isn't Tall Afar this year's version of Tall Afar?

Posted by: derek on April 29, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Exercise caution. Nothing is ever quite what it appears to be on the surface in that part of the world.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 29, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like the natives are saying to Al Quaeda: "Now get out. Seriously-We're sick of your shit."

Posted by: doug r on April 29, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

The best way to make friends with these guys is to leave as soon as they are ready to beat Al Quada in Iraq.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 29, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Without our help the Anbar Sunnis would lose power big time. We are desperate to show "results" and they are desperate to hang on to power (they still want to be running the country again). We will provide them with weapons and training. I really wonder if we are arming them purposefully, knowing that we will be leaving soon (shhh!). We can see Sadr is going to be a big trouble-maker in the near future and now it is time for us to demonize the Shia in some way. Hmmm. Cheney's trip to Saudi.. maybe this is the ultimatum that WE got from them. We may have just chosen the Sunni side in the civil war.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on April 29, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers,

Word.

Posted by: Dave Howard on April 29, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Since the beginning of the occupation I've argued the best historical analogy to look to is our own Reconstruction Era after the Civil War - how do you impose democracy on a population still vociferously defiant? The example isn't very promising - most people would agree we "lost" the fight for our ultimate objectives at least for another 100 years, but eventually the lure of patronage and the promise of withdrawal of US troops did have the desired short-term effects. It helped establish a foundation to eventually pursue our goals. Maybe in two generations the Sunnis will be where the South Koreans are now; if today they are willing to rat out al Qaeda and grudgingly participate in the national government I don't think that's an unacceptable definition of victory.

Posted by: minion on April 29, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

This could have happened everywhere in Iraq, at once, and in Fall 2003, with a small, but non-zero, chance of success, or at least of non-failure.

But it would have taken 650,000 troops, and a draft. Which would have been fatal in the 2002 and 2004 elections.

So it didn't happen.

he Iraq 'war' was, is, a GOP campaign commercial, first and last:
-started at a time designed to affect the outcome of an American election, (2002)
-conducted in a way designed to affect the outcome of an American election,
-managed to affect an American election -- didn't work so well, though (2006)
- ended only when they can use that to affect an American election.

The number-one war aim of the people who started this war was to destroy any domestic opposition to their wider revolution, not just in foreign policy, but tout court.

Note: there was never a draft, never a war surtax on millionaires, never a contemporary Truman commission, no dollar-a-year men.

If they could have secured their revolution without Iraq, they'd have done it.

If they could have gotten a 'victory' in Iraq, but one that would have derailed the revolution, they wouldn't have taken it.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on April 29, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Unsecularity increasingly unpopular in Turkey.

Posted by: cld on April 29, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

cld - I am working on a post about that very thing right now...Should be up at both places in a couple of hours.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 29, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, and all those posting comments, expound upon the thinking, motives and future actions of people they don't know and have not a clue about. Kevin compounds the problem by seizing upon what Kirk Semple speculates as to the thinking of some Iraqis.

These Iraqis are now cooperating with America and fighting Al Qeada. As to whether they someday turn and fight America, that is speculative and presumably will be based on their assessment of what is in their self interest at that time. However, since they currently are cooperating on what is supposedly the objective of shared objective of both republicans and democrats -- fighting Al Qaeda -- why is this not a success story?

Posted by: brian on April 29, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Points to Kevin for putting this positive development as a posted item.

Posted by: ex-liberal on April 29, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

This story sounds just like the last "victory" in Whackamole.

Posted by: charlie don't surf on April 29, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Davis,

I agree 100%, Americans still refuse to want to believe their leaders would unleash our military to win an election. I was ridiculed as a loon in 2002 for suggesting this idea. Don't forget the 2004 election, also. Buttboy wouldn't have had a chance if we weren't at "war".

Domestic politics wasn't the only reason for the invasion. Halliburton and the other war profiteers made a killing. Big Oil, ie the White House, has made a killing; $3/gal. The US has a military foothold in Mideast, which Big Oil desparately wants.

It was the trifecta.

WIN! WIN! WIN!

Opportunities like this come along once in a lifetime. You just have to go for it. Who cares if it costs a couple of towers.

Posted by: TT on April 29, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

The filthy liars in the Bush Administration will tell any filthy lie that suits them and the mainstream media in the U.S. will regurgitate it faithfully, like a mother bird feeding it's young. I generally read foreign media sources to get the truth about Iraq. American media outlets, for the most part, are part of the conservative propaganda machine, not a counterweight against it.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on April 29, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

I think the oil is a small piece of the picture, TT.

The ability to craft the regulatory environment, set environmental policy, shape capital-labor relations, control the currency and fiscal policy, write the tax law, appoint the judges, etc. across the whole expanse of the world's largest economy, for a generation or two, without let or hindrance -- and that was the goal, to Mulroney the Democrats, once and for all -- is far more valuable than merely running up the price of gas.

Running up the price of gas is a holdup -- disorganized crime. They were out to not just control the police, but run the entire city -- organized crime on a scale not seen much outside places like Nigeria.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on April 29, 2007 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, what has happened to the supposed Taliban spring offensive in Afghanistan? Is that another success story for America and our allies?

Posted by: brian on April 29, 2007 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

While we were distracted they built the New Pottersville and we hardly noticed.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on April 29, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, what has happened to the supposed Taliban spring offensive in Afghanistan?

The complicit, conservative corporate media has downplayed the story as it fails to accommodate Bush-fellating.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 29, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

[T]he Iraq 'war' was, is, a GOP campaign commercial, first and last:
-started at a time designed to affect the outcome of an American election, (2002)
-conducted in a way designed to affect the outcome of an American election,
-managed to affect an American election -- didn't work so well, though (2006)
- ended only when they can use that to affect an American election.

Very succinctly put.

Posted by: trex on April 29, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Cool - yet another breathless, sugar coated "progress in Iraq!!" story. I've lost count of how many of THOSE I've seen. Just like (as Derek points out) Tal Afar and the progress we were making there.

What's the pattern? Hmmm - bad news from the whole rest of Iraq? Check. Iraq government no longer releasing casualty figures? Check. Sampling of much heralded construction projects shows them sliding into wrack and ruin? Check. Iraq government in total deadlock? Check. News that the "surge" will "make things worse before they get better AND we won't know if it's working till September? Check. Lots of new domestic bad news for Bush and the Republican party? Check.

Yup - the schedule called for a happy-happy release about Iraq and by Dog! There it is!

Posted by: Butch on April 29, 2007 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Conversely, how would that dynamic change if we provided the sheiks with credible assurances that American troops would begin withdrawing in the forseeable future?

Recently, the problem has been that American forces have left too soon, and didn't stay long enough to fully train local security forces or complete meaningful reconstruction (more elaboration necessary, but not for this post.) With the American congress calling for withdrawal on a timetable, what more "credible assurances" does anybody need that American troops will begin withdrawing in the forseeable future?

TT: Domestic politics wasn't the only reason for the invasion. Halliburton and the other war profiteers made a killing. Big Oil, ie the White House, has made a killing; $3/gal. The US has a military foothold in Mideast, which Big Oil desparately wants.

It isn't primarily about corporate profits. There's more money to be made developing U.S. energy supplies. It's a complex mixture of motives, of which cheap oil is only a part. I have argued oil/fuel/economics on other threads. For certain, the oil is not worth the cost to America in lives and defense expenditures. GE and Halliburton would just as soon build coal gasification/liquifaction plants if the U.S. government would pay them. Americans don't think of the military costs (lives and taxes) when they pump their gasoline; but maybe that is changing.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on April 29, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

How can anyone be serious in claiming that the media would not be publicizing bad news in Iraq, or that the democrats would not be highlighting it. It would fit in perfectly with the democrat argument that Iraq is a diversion from the "real enemy" in Afghanistan.

Posted by: brian on April 29, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

This is what the war has done to us: finding wedges where they can exploit them is supposed to be a sign of success!

I guess we have to relearn history. Or perhaps we want to replicate the success of the British Empire's 'divide and conquer' strategies in the third world.

Posted by: gregor on April 29, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

How can anyone be serious in claiming that the media would not be publicizing bad news in Iraq...

There is no liberal media. Duh.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 29, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Or perhaps we want to replicate the success of the British Empire's 'divide and conquer' strategies in the third world."
Posted by: gregor on April 29, 2007 at 2:38 PM

I'm beginning to wonder if we are returning to something like the old strategy we used back in the '80's - playing Iraq and Iran off against each other.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on April 29, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

MatthewRmarler: It's a complex mixture of motives, of which cheap oil is only a part.

Davis X Machina: The Iraq 'war' was, is, a GOP campaign commercial.

---- a nice dovetailing, if you please.

Posted by: absent observer on April 29, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

I'm beginning to wonder if we are returning to something like the old strategy we used back in the '80's - playing Iraq and Iran off against each other.

Wonderful. Look how well it eliminated all our problems in the middle east.

Posted by: gregor on April 29, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Doc at the Radar Station: I'm beginning to wonder if we are returning to... playing Iraq and Iran off against each other.

All the arms we're dumping into Iraq will help stabilize the region, like Ethiopia/Somalia.

Posted by: absent observer on April 29, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Not to worry; our Sepoys would never turn on us.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 29, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Not to worry; our Sepoys would never turn on us.

We are already making the walls. All we need now is to take out the bones of General Dyer from his grave, and clone him, and send a few General Dyers to Baghdad.

That will definitely prove that the surge is working.

Posted by: gregor on April 29, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

The army is cleverly exploiting dissention among our enemies, so that our goal of democracy in Iraq can be achieved.

Posted by: Al on April 29, 2007 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

blue girl,

I don't know how anyone can contend that the members of the media are not predominantly liberal. It is another question of how much it affects their coverage.

But in any event, you carefully edited my comment by deleting what is set forth below - OBVIOUSLY BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO ANSWER TO IT:

"or that the democrats would not be highlighting it [if there was a significant Taliban "spring offensive"]. It would fit in perfectly with the democrat argument that Iraq is a diversion from the "real enemy" in Afghanistan."

Posted by: brian on April 29, 2007 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Brian: "By the way, what has happened to the supposed Taliban spring offensive in Afghanistan? Is that another success story for America and our allies?"

I want you to think about what you've said, seriously.

Who, exactly, was it that warned us via the media of an expected "Taliban spring offensive"? The Taliban's press agents?

Of course not. It was our own side. Why would you want to claim as a military success what may have possibly been a misguided or even overstated intelligence estimate?

I'm very pleased for the sake of our soldiers that there has thus far been no "spring offensive". But from a far more practical standpoint, for reasons expounded on below, I wish they would come out of their places of refuge and give battle.

The truth of the matter is that we have little if any idea of what the Taliban is planning or has planned, because our current intelligence capabilities in that region are at best ineffective.

The fact that a NATO-predicted spring offensive -- and that's assuming, of course, that the Taliban is even capable of effectively mounting such a coordinated nationwide operation -- has yet to materialize is no reason to let our guard down, break out the champaigne and toast the triumph of arms.

All this grossly overhyped nonsense about al Qa'eda's presence in Iraq -- the latest estimates are less than 1,000 adherents nationwide -- only distracts us from the very real presence in relative strength of al Qa'eda operatives and Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan's mountainous and lawless eastern and southeastern border regions. It is both there and just across that border in neighboring Pakistan that Osama bin Laden & Co. have apparently found safe haven amongst friendly Pashtun tribesmen.

The Taliban and its al Qa'eda allies are probably perfectly content to (excuse the now-shopworn cliche) stay the course, create and maintain a certain level of chaos in the rural areas and along the highways, and bide their time -- because time at present is probably on their side.

Given that the American military effort in Iraq is escalating, the apparent corresponding level of American commitment to the Karzai government in Kabul, both in materiel and personnel, will continue to remain secondary to Baghdad, and thus static at best.

Our maintenance of the present status quo in Afghanistan ultimately works against us and to the Taliban's advantage, if only they continue to show patience in their willingness to wait out our presence there.

From a strategic and tactical standpoint, what the Taliban should NOT do at this juncture is something so foolish, i.e., squander precious human and material resources by waging a "spring offensive" against still-vastly superior if undermanned NATO garrisons in Afghanistan's cities and large towns, as to render their cause militarily moot.

So therefore, that a NATO-expected Taliban offensive has thus far not occurred is no cause for glad-handing and high-fives on our part.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 29, 2007 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Al: "The army is cleverly exploiting dissention among our enemies, so that our goal of democracy in Iraq can be achieved."

You've obviously been watching John Wayne's The Green Berets way too much.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 29, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal Media? I think not.

Judith Miller sold a phony war - the NY Times sat on Domestic spying for a year. Fred freakin' Hiatt...

This is not the liberal media. This is corporate media.

There is a liberal media now - it is Josh Marshall, and Glenn Greenwald, and Bob Geiger, and Larry Johnson, and Steve Benen, and Kevin Drum. But the mainstream media is not liberal by any reasonable persons perception.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 29, 2007 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK
.... Maybe in two generations the Sunnis will be where the South Koreans are now...minion at 1:45 PM
In reality that will be where they were before Bush invaded and that once the US leaves, that will again be their position. The Reconstruction period is a damn poor analogy. It was a period in which the South refused to allow their former slaves their rights, a situation the Republican Party is using today with their voter suppression efforts.
...why is this not a success story? brian at 1:58 PM
It is not a success story because al Qaeda had no presence in Iraq until Bush invaded.
Recently, the problem has been that American forces have left too soon.....MatthewRmarler at 2:26 PM |
You fail to note that the US commands only the ground they stand on and that "training" is a fiasco in the sense that, as long as the US occupies Iraq, the Iraqis will never to their bidding. Your statement about the oil in Iraq is nonsensical. Oil companies don't care how many lives it takes, and there is approximately 2 trillion dollars worth of oil under the Iraq desert. Check the proposed Iraq oil law. It gives American and British companies control of Iraq's oil for a generation at least. Posted by: Mike on April 29, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Imagine how postwar Iraq might have been different if the US hadn't insisted on destroying the remaining structure of the government and armed forces in the name of Republican Ideological Purity (Let's call it the RIP policy).

The observable results support only 3 conclusions regarding the performance of the Bush regime:

1) Utter incompetence.
2) Malicious intent.
3) Combination of the two.

Posted by: Buford on April 29, 2007 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

"But the mainstream media is not liberal by any reasonable persons perception."

The key word here, Brian, is "reasonable".

If I want people to mindlessly validate what I want -- rather than need -- to hear, then I'll become a Broadway producer and hire a chorus line.

Somehow, in our discussions about what constitutes actual news, far too many people in this country seem to confuse editorializing, i.e., the widespread proferring of opinion, gossip and personal / corporate / political agendas, with actual reporting, i.e., the public dissemination of actual fact and sober analysis.

Both have their legitimate place in public dialogue. However, to over-emphasize the former at the obvious expense of the latter can create appalling and damaging public misconceptions, such as for example, prior, recent and ongoing public conflation of al Qa'eda and Iraq.

This in turn can lead to tragic consequences, as people collectively make decisions in a public arena vacuumed of any vestiges of reality, and steeped instead in ignorance and bullshit.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 29, 2007 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

What I notice in the war coverage is that Iraq looks rubbled and impoverished.
Military intervention seems to have destroyed that country, and, just as the administration ignores the views of US citizens, it ignores that the Iraqi citizens want us out.
As Senator Feingold observed today, we're continuing the occupation, not the war.
The war ended years ago.

Posted by: consider wisely always on April 29, 2007 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Al: "The army is cleverly exploiting dissention among our enemies, so that our goal of democracy in Iraq can be achieved."

Yes, because nothing breeds democracy like civil war. BTW, brainiac, armies by definition can't be clever.

Posted by: Kenji on April 29, 2007 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

This is just another positive development in a string of steady accumulation of positive developments. Pretty soon, the liberal media is going to have to capitulate in the face of this overwhelming reality and start to grudgingly run stories about how Bush is actually winning this thing.

I predict in another month or so the message broads at the Washington Monthly are going to be ghost towns. That is, unless the liberals in the Congress yank the rug out from under Bush.

Posted by: egbert on April 29, 2007 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

minion writes:

Since the beginning of the occupation I've argued the best historical analogy to look to is our own Reconstruction Era after the Civil War -

I would argue a somewhat better historical analogy is German after the First World War.. you have a defeated nation with a weak central government, a disenchanted, demoralized, and humiliated populace (which Islamic Fundamentalist extremism conveniently fills the void), and a weak economy. Which could mean the eventual rise of strongman worse than Saddam (Hitler, after the "Wiemar Republic"..)

BTW, if anyone has HDNet, Dan Rather Reports is one of the better news magazines on television right now..

Dan Rather Reports

Posted by: Andy on April 29, 2007 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Mike: You fail to note that the US commands only the ground they stand on and that "training" is a fiasco

Hence the problems when American forces "leave too soon."

Your statement about the oil in Iraq is nonsensical. Oil companies don't care how many lives it takes, and there is approximately 2 trillion dollars worth of oil under the Iraq desert.

I made more than one statement. Americans care about the lives, they just don't think of those lives as a part of the cost of oil. Similarly, Americans do not think of the war budget as a subsidy to the oil companies, but it is that, in part. If the money were transferred from subsidizing the construction of oil infrastructure in Iraq to subsidizing the facilities to make synfuels, American business would make at least equal profits.

If there had been a debate between a party advocating $200B and 3,000 lives for Iraqi oil, and another party advocating $200B for synfuels construction, then the synfuels construction would have won easily. Instead, synfuels are opposed by people who oppose government invervention in the economy, and we get an even more costly subsidy for Iraqi oil.

That's if it were about the oil. If it were about the oil, we would be better off spending our defense budget on synfuels, and letting someone else fight over Middle Eastern Oil. We'd be better off if al Qaeda would destroy the oil production facilities in SA and Iraq totally, but not right away. In part that's because SA oil finances our enemies.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on April 29, 2007 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK
I predict in another month or so the message broads at the Washington Monthly

Message broads?
somebody's looking to get his ass kicked sideways ...

Posted by: kenga on April 29, 2007 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

This is just another positive development in a string of steady accumulation of positive developments.


Ha! Egbert made a funny! Very funny!

Posted by: gregor on April 29, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

message broads

send a few over here,will ya?

Posted by: beavis on April 29, 2007 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

So in other words, the best way to drive al Qaeda out of al Anbar is for the Americans to leave al Anbar.

Posted by: Halfdan on April 29, 2007 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

If we have to go to every single faction, family, mosque and ask them nicely to stop fighting ling enough to face the outsiders so we can leave...

...I'm all for it.

Of course, it'd be easier to convince them we're leaving if we had a timetable...

Posted by: Crissa on April 29, 2007 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

My friends ask me all the time if we're going to win. They ask with big searching eyes, looking for comfort. They make me sick inside, because I hate the inherent weakness in them. But this is war, and I made a promise to myself at the beginning of this thing that I would promise to stand by the President, and do my part, what little I could to win this thing. And if my President came to me and asked me to go through hell and back for him, I would do that.

So I tell these people, Yes, we will win. The goings ons on the ground are immaterial. It's all about strength of character. You determine to win, and you fight until you do win.

These Democrats want to leave the fight unfinished. That's defeat. They seek to soil the reputation of this country.

I'm taking the big picture view. This a battle we cannot afford to fail. It's about attitude.

Posted by: egbert on April 29, 2007 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

egbert,

Just curious, why is this 'a battle that we cannot afford to fail (sic)'?

Posted by: nepeta on April 29, 2007 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

But this is war, and I made a promise to myself at the beginning of this thing that I would promise to stand by the President, and do my part, what little I could to win this thing.short of enlisting of course, because I'm a trembling coward.

Fixed that for ya, scrambled egbert.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 29, 2007 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

BGRS,

C'mon. Egbert has to be in his 80's at least, don't you think?

Posted by: nepeta on April 29, 2007 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

He claimed to have come of age during the impeachment of Clinton, and has apparently been horribly scarred by never finding out first hand what all the fuss was about...

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 29, 2007 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe he meant 'social security' age...

Posted by: nepeta on April 29, 2007 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

Missed it, Red. Egg on face promised to do as little as possible. Truth is as truth does.

Posted by: opit on April 29, 2007 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

If my President asked me to serve, I would serve proudly.

Right now, I think I can better serve our country back home.

Posted by: egbert on April 29, 2007 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Just curious, why is this 'a battle that we cannot afford to fail (sic)'?"

Sick? Yeah, ok, whatever.

Let me answer your question with a question of my own: Do you want to see another 9-11 happen in this country? More to the point, don't you want to have dignity for your country?

Posted by: egbert on April 29, 2007 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

This has become BGRS' full time gig?

Posted by: puto on April 29, 2007 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

puto: This has become BGRS' full time gig?

Why?

Are you wanting to become her gigolo?

Posted by: absent observer on April 29, 2007 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

puto
BGRS 'full-time gig' ?
Surely you jest. She's been posting up a storm at her site and Watching Those We Chose. Troll whomping is just a relaxing hobby.

Posted by: opit on April 29, 2007 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I love you like my sister four times removed, but really. No, really. Ramadi and Tall Afar are "sucesses"? We now have tribal sheiks running things? This is success?

Doh! If we hadn't invaded and Hussein's quasi-fascist state had devolved into tribalism, would this be termed a "success". And the AQ guys weren't there until we invaded, but now throwing them out is a success? You've gotta' be kidding!

That's like deliberately flunking test so that the pass after the "retake" is judged a big improvement. This passes for "serious thought". I am mortified beyond belief.

Posted by: bobbyp on April 29, 2007 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Kevin has been taking lessons at 'moving goalposts'. More seriously, there are times he tries to provoke outrage so hard I wonder his cheek or tongue haven't suffered sprain or strain.

Posted by: opit on April 29, 2007 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

The goings ons on the ground are immaterial. It's all about strength of character. You determine to win...

Hitler said the same kind of stuff as the Eastern Front disintegrated after Stalingrad, right up until the time he put a bullet through his head. Most historians view these rantings as the detached from reality ravings of a madman.

Take it from there.....

Posted by: bobbyp on April 29, 2007 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

Right now, I think I can better serve our country back home.

By posting inane semi-literate comments here?

No, seriously, let me guess what you have in mind: you serve your country by bringing home a paycheck and spending money to keep the economy strong for the war effort. When Bush announced the "surge" you dug down deep and bought a large plasma TV, and if things don't turn around soon in Iraq you're fully prepared to go out and buy a new Lazy-Boy recliner with the vibrator/heat massage upgrade. Anything for the war effort.

Posted by: bobb on April 29, 2007 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

I predict in another month or so the message broads at the Washington Monthly are going to be ghost towns. That is, unless the liberals in the Congress yank the rug out from under Bush.

Posted by: egbert on April 29, 2007 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

That's a keeper. See you in a month or so. Idiot.

Posted by: bobbyp on April 30, 2007 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

Egbert: "More to the point, don't you want to have dignity for your country?"

Why sure, but not the servile subservience to a political ideology you term 'dignity'. You support the tantrums of a mad bully and call it 'dignity'? Ernst Rohem couldn't have put it better.

But somehow, I believe we have moved beyond 1931.

Posted by: bobbyp on April 30, 2007 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

Egbert,

Your questions point to what your answer to my question would have been, so I'll answer seriously.

"Do you want to see another 9-11 happen in this country?"

Our continued presence in Iraq only increases the chances of another 9/11 in this country by serving as a recruitment tool for al Qaeda and radicalizing moderate Arabs in the region. Neither the Sunni nor the Shia want al Qaeda in Iraq and, as the NYT article re Ramadi suggests, Sunnis are now joining US forces to fight al Qaeda. They would continue to fight al Qaeda without a US presence and would eventually win. The numbers of al Qaeda in Iraq are simply too small to outlast Iraqi resistance to them. And, of course al Qaeda did not exist in Iraq before the US invasion, except for a small group who were located in the no-fly zone and who could have only been run out by the US airforce, who apparently had no desire to do so.

Dignity. Haven't you learned yet that there is a dignity in winning and a dignity in loosing? Think of two chess players. Is the loser of a match portrayed as having no dignity? Well, it depends a bit on the behavior of the loser. If he admits defeat with 'grace' admits to his errors in the match, and walks away with his head held high, then he is respected by all. The US is now in a position to gracefully leave Iraq for two reasons, one being that this is what the US public and a majority of Congress wants and the other being that our stated mission in the invasion has been accomplished. There were no WMDs in Iraq (main mission) and Saddam has been deposed (secondary mission). It is now up to the Iraqis themselves to come together and create a workable government and a unified country. I think this is much more likely to happen once the 'thorn' of US occupation has been removed.


Posted by: nepeta on April 30, 2007 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

Of course, it'd be easier to convince them we're leaving if we had a timetable...

Agreed. However, if we just up and left, we don't have to worry so much about 'convincing' them of anything. In this regard, we take 'failure' off the table.

Difficult as it may be for us to understand, they (Irquis) are adults. Let them convince each other.

Best Regards,

Posted by: bobbyp on April 30, 2007 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

More good news. Omar Fadhil reports from Baghdad on the possibility that the Sunni in Baghdad might follow the lead of the Awakening Council of Anbar and unite to fight the terrorists.

Meanwhile, something small in size, big in meaning is brewing in Adhamiya. Yesterday I was asked by our friend Bill Roggio (whose reporting I admire and recommend) whether I thought the Sunni in Baghdad would follow the example of the Awakening Council of Anbar. That council is made up of Sunni tribes that have turned against al-Qaeda and are now fighting a fierce war against them side by side with government forces.

I couldn’t answer that question. The difference in social structures between tribal Ramadi and urban Baghdad alters everything. The tribal structure allows for safe communication among the members of the same tribe or clan. They most often live in the same geographic area and tend to consider themselves “cousins”. In Baghdad this doesn’t exist, making it difficult to safely spread the word among many people.

Even so, it seems that the question might have an answer now, and a positive one.

Al-Sabah reported today that “some community leaders in Adhamiya are working on forming a salvation council for their own district they will be calling The Adhamiya Awakening. Sources close to the leaders said they (the leaders) have managed to win the support of some hundred people who agree with the new position. The sources asserted that the goal of the Awakening is to rid Adhamiya of the terrorists.”
http://pajamasmedia.com/2007/04/sundays_under_fire.php

Posted by: ex-liberal on April 30, 2007 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal" I am still waiting for you to answer the elementary question I posed on the light in the Tunnel thread.

Unless you can answer that most basic question (and most Americans can not) I will not be convinced you have even a scintilla of what you have signed on for. (I assume you now think it has been worth it? As recently as Christmas, you were agnostic on the subject.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 30, 2007 at 1:25 AM | PERMALINK

Here is the question I posed to ex-lib 12 hours ago:

When you understand the significance of the schism between Karbala and Baghdad, then you might have a clue as to what we walked into. Do you understand that schism, ex-lib? I challenge you to accurately compare and contrast the prevailing religious mores of each city.

I maintain that if you can't answer this question, you can't conceive of the reality in Iraq.

Maybe he should email it to Omar?

(The first time I asked, he posted a laundry-list of "advances" in lieu of understanding. When I restated the question, he stopped posting.)

Ex-lib - you had no problem saying "I don't know" when asked if the Iraq war had been worthwhile. Maybe the time has come for you to dust off that answer and admit your ignorance of a land you have no problem laying waste to. Or at least having others lay waste to.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 30, 2007 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

More "good" news...

BAGHDAD, April 29 -- A department of the Iraqi prime minister's office is playing a leading role in the arrest and removal of senior Iraqi army and national police officers, some of whom had apparently worked too aggressively to combat violent Shiite militias, according to U.S. military officials in Baghdad.
Since March 1, at least 16 army and national police commanders have been fired, detained or pressured to resign; at least nine of them are Sunnis, according to U.S. military documents shown to The Washington Post.
Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 30, 2007 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl - I don't know what you're referring to. If you believe that Baghdad and Karbala have been divided or disunited into mutually opposed parties and that this division has great significance, please tell us what you believe the situation is.

By any chance, are you using the word "schism" as if it meant "difference"? If so, that might help explain my inability to answer your question.

Posted by: ex-liberal on April 30, 2007 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

When you understand the significance of the schism between Karbala and Baghdad, then you might have a clue as to what we walked into. Do you understand that schism, ex-lib? I challenge you to accurately compare and contrast the prevailing religious mores of each city.

Are you sure that you mean "schism"? perhaps you mean "differences".

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on April 30, 2007 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

egbert: "I'm taking the big picture view."

That's painfully obvious. (See link.)

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 30, 2007 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

I mean schism, and you two both know me well enough to know I would not misuse the word. That aside, here is the answer. It isn't short, I warn you.

When you understand the significance of the schism between Karbala and Baghdad, then you might have a clue as to what we walked into. Do you understand that schism, ex-lib? I challenge you to accurately compare and contrast the prevailing religious mores of each city.

If you answer “Baghdad is the capitol and Karbala is significant to Shi’ites, you are technically correct – but there is much, much more to it than that. if you can not elaborate beyond that point, and you were being graded on your answer…kiss your GPA goodbye.

Karbala derives it’s significance from the fact that Hussein, a grandson of Mohammed and the son of Ali, the 4th Caliph, was killed in a fierce battle between his followers and the followers of Yazid, the son of Muawiyah, the 5th caliph. The battle that took Hussein’s life was over succession of leadership.

Islam has been a house divided since 632, when the Prophet Mohammed died, leaving no males heirs to succeed his leadership. An alliance of Mohammed, Abu Bakr, was elected the first caliph. Many Muslims interpret this as a signal that spiritual leadership needn’t be exclusive to biological ties to Mohammed. After the death of Abu Bakr, the next two caliphs elected met untimely deaths.

When Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed was elected the fourth caliph, many of the faithful believed that, for the first time since the death of Mohammed, the caliphate had been restored to one ordained to lead the faithful.

However, one of Ali’s first acts as caliph was to return Islam to the puritanical roots of the faith and revoke special privileges that had been afforded the merchant classes under Othman, the third caliph. Muawiyah, the head of the merchant rebels, opposed Ali vehemently, and this opposition set the stage for the assassination of Ali.

Upon the death of Ali, the caliphate transferred to his son, Hassan, but his authority was quickly challenged by Muawiyah, and a deal was struck: Hassan would relinquish the caliphate and clear the way for Muawiya to become caliph, but upon his death, the caliphate was to return to the lineage of Mohammed.

When Muawiya died, the deal was reneged on and the caliphate passed to his own son Yazid instead. Hassan’s brother, Hussein, challenged the succession.

The die was cast when, at prayertime, Yazid and his followers swooped down on Hussein and his followers and slaughtered them. This set the stage for the schism betweent eh Shiat Ali, (Shia, or followers of Ali) and the Ahl-i Sunnah (Sunni, or those who follow the customs of the prophet Muhammad). From that day forward, the two sects considered one another apostates, worthy of death for corrupting Islam.

And still there is more. The schism goes beyond merely hating one another for religious differences. The two sects evolved completely different governing systems.

While the Shi’ite faithful embraced rule by the Imams, Islamic scholars and spiritual leaders with great influence over spiritual, social, and political affairs. These Islamic scholars are the product of Hawzas or religions academies. These hawzas have tremendous influence in every aspect of the lives of the Shi’ite faithful.

Now that we have a dram of knowledge about the Shi’ite holy city of Karbala and the source of it’s significance to Shia Islam, lets look at Baghdaad -

Out of this chaos, the sect that would eventually be known as Sunni’s developed a very malleable Islamic code that relied heavily on concensus. In theory, Sunni scholars preached adherence to the customs of the Prophet Mohammed. In reality – the tentacles of religion intertwined inexorably with state and business affairs.

This era of softening stridency to religious dogma, where the pure practice of religion was supplanted by the baser, more secular affairs of human kind was centered in Baghdad.

When Baghdad fell to the Mongols in 1258, it was perceived as many to certify the apostasy of Sunni Islam.

In the aftermath of the mongol ionvasion, a Sunni scholar named Ibn Taymiya rose to prominence, preaching a stricter adherence to the Mohammedan teachings. He declared that the Mongols were not the only enemies of Islam, but that the Shi’ite Islamic state that had taken hold in Persia was an enemy as well.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 30, 2007 at 3:53 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, that it was even proffered to question my use of the word "schism" and downplay it to "difference" speaks volumes about the ignorance of many who consider themselves informed.

On that note, goodnight.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 30, 2007 at 4:04 AM | PERMALINK

Give the state of Al Qaeda in Iraq would this not be a good time to delare victory and go home?

Posted by: Sean Scallon on April 30, 2007 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

who is promoting this story?

"many sunni tribal leaders" (how many)

"against forces of al qaeda in mesopotamia" (mesopotamia?)

"a strategy that is also being followed in bagdad"

Saturday reported nine American troops killed, including five in fighting in Anbar province and three others in separate attacks south of the capital

Posted by: jamzo on April 30, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

jamzo: Who is promoting this story?"

Are you asking about the report I posted asserting that “some community leaders in Adhamiya are working on forming a salvation council for their own district they will be calling The Adhamiya Awakening."?

According to the article, the story comes from Al-Sabah, which I believe is an Iraqi newspaper.

Posted by: ex-liberal on April 30, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still waiting for Ex-Liberal, who claimed to have rooted for Kennedy in the Kennedy-Nixon debate, to confirm that he is in his 70's.

C'mon Ex-Liberal, provide some context for your views. Tell me how old you are. I'll go first - I'm 50 years old. How old are you?

Posted by: Tripp on April 30, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

"The Sheiks are getting rid of the biggest threat first. Doesn't mean they don't see us as a threat as well. So they go after al-Qaeda while we arm and train their men."
___________________

If this is true, what happened to the oft-repeated assertion here that Al Qaeda in Iraq was not really Al Qaeda, but simply a convenient mask for insurgent Sunnis?

The Sunni leaders who are beginning to cooperate against Al Qaeda realize something important - while coalition forces sometimes find it difficult to find Al Qaeda, they have no difficulty at all finding the established Sunnis. Toleration of Al Qaeda within their midst has brought little good to the Sunnis, except more bloodshed. Good on them for taking the best course for their people.

Posted by: Trashhauler on April 30, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

It seems to me that Al Qaeda will continue to have success by playing both Sunni & Shia for fools. As soon as those two groups figure that out, Al Qaeda will be squashed like bugs. Time to leave folks, before both sides decide we're the problem. 20 million against a hundred thousand or so? no contest.

Posted by: Erika on April 30, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

"20 million against a hundred thousand or so? no contest."
_____________________

It'd certainly be a bit sticky if we were really trying to conquer them and they acted as one. Except that it will never be 20 million against anyone. Nor are we interested in subjugating the Iraqis. By this time, most Iraqis realize this, which is why we are largely uncontested anywhere in the country.

Posted by: Trashhauler on April 30, 2007 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

I mean schism, and you two both know me well enough to know I would not misuse the word. That aside, here is the answer. It isn't short, I warn you.

You understand that there has been an equivalent (roughly) schism between Berlin and Munich, right? And between London and Paris?

You know that the Turkish and Israeli intelligence services cooperate, and that the Israeli army helps to trin the Kurdish peshmerga. Cooperation across schisms, and hostility within sides, is common, not rare.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on April 30, 2007 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

oops, train not trin.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on April 30, 2007 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

Cooperation across schisms, and hostility within sides, is common, not rare.

And noting that in the abstract is neither relevant here nor anything like good analysis. Rather it's just rhetorical puffery, making it a typical example of your argument style.

Posted by: trex on April 30, 2007 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

And noting that in the abstract is neither relevant here nor anything like good analysis.

Abstract? The Protestant army of GB and the Catholic army of France united to fight against the comvined Protestant/Catholic army of Germany in WWI. What's abstract about that?

The Shi'ite government of Iran has supported Sunni and Shi'ite insurgents in Iraq in order to prevent the elected government from prevailing. The Alawite government of Syria supports both the Shi'ite Hizbollah of Lebanon and the Sunni insurgents of al Anbar province. The combined Sunni/Shi'ite army of Iraq in 1991 put down the Shi'ite insurrection. Cooperation across schisms and hostility among factions on one side isn't abstract. It's present in Iraq.

The article that started this thread noted that the Sunni of al Anbar were fighting the Sunni al Qaeda of al Anbar in order to cooperate more with the majority Shi'ite elected government; even as the Shi'ite Nuri al Maliki and the Shi'ite Moqtada al Sadr are fighting each other.

That was why I asked about "differences" vs "schism". In Iran the Shi'ite Persians and the Shi'ite Arabs do not like each other that well. The Sunni Arabs of Saudi Arabia may be supporting the Shi'ite Arabs of Iran in their occasional insurrections against the Shi'ite Persians.

As in the European Thirty Years War, the political factions do not break cleanly along schismatic lines.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on April 30, 2007 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

Pardon my incivility, but I am not going to quibble semantics of schisms when the larger points I addressed are simply set aside to do so. What the fuck do Berlin an Munich have to do with the schism between Karbala and Baghdad and the differing governing mechanisms followed by the sects? Not a god-damned thing. If you want to exhibit some deeper understanding of the situation, fine, I'm all ears (well, eyes, anyway). But semantic puffery? I have no intention in engaging in that monumental waste of pixels.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 30, 2007 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

Abstract? The Protestant army of GB and the Catholic army of France united to fight against the comvined Protestant/Catholic army of Germany in WWI. What's abstract about that?

That's the bit that was irrelevant.

Your whole schtick is always "well, anything could happen, and anything might be happening, and we can never really know what is happening anyway. Perhaps someone removed from the situation in the distant future will know. So not being able to know, we should rather stick to blindly following George W. Bush."

The fact is we can know things if we apply objectivity and critical thinking, and one thing we can know in the midst of this ever-widening civil war is that it's nothing like the situation where the Protestant and Catholic armies united for about fifty different reason, from cultural dissimilarities to the current political landscape.

Just because a thing happened in the past doesn't mean it can or will happen now: you have to line up all the similarities and dissimilarities to determine probability.

We can also know that the reconstruction that you've spent the last year touting as a splendid success is an unmitigated failure, according to the one guy who knows better than anyone else: the Special Inspector for Reconstruction. Almost all the money's gone, a significant number of the projects are unfinished, most of the complete projects have fallen apart, and literally scores of cases of fraud have been brought and are pending for this massive ripoff of the American taxpayer to line the pockets of Republican contributors.

That is just one more example of something that you could have known, as many of us did here, had you simply abandoned your agitprop and ideological fervor for clarity of thought and careful examination of the evidence.

Posted by: trex on April 30, 2007 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

egbert - Patriots do not need to be asked, they volunteer. Instead of being determined to fight, why don't you actually fight. After all you made a promise, you friends are shameful weaklings, if not you then who, this is a fight for our very survival as a people and a nation, etc, etc, etc

Posted by: I fought Al Qaeda by donating to the RNC on May 1, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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