Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 12, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

POLITICAL PROGRESS REPORT....Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. "Randy" Mixon said today that he needs more troops in Diyala province:

"I'm going to need additional forces," he said, "to get that situation to a more acceptable level, so the Iraqi security forces will be able in the future to handle that."

Mixon was particularly withering in his criticism of the Iraqi government, saying it was hamstrung by bureaucracy and compromised by corruption and sectarian divisions, making it unable to assist U.S. forces in Diyala.

....Mixon's comments were the first of what could be a succession of blunt evaluations by officers under Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, said retired Army Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, a veteran of the Bosnian conflict who is now an analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations.

"I suspect the new Defense secretary has told general officers to speak their minds," Nash said. "It's going to be hard for some in the administration; suddenly they're going to feel it from the inside. I think you're going to see more of it."

I doubt that every general in Iraq is going to start publicly asking for more troops. They all know the score, after all. But if Nash is right, they might start badmouthing the Iraqi government more bluntly and more frequently — and that might be even more dangerous for the Bush administration's fairy tales about Iraq than complaints about troop levels. After all, if there's one thing that everybody seems to finally agree on in Washington, it's the fact that military progress is meaningless without political progress to go along with it. If the generals are still saying that the central government is worthless when September rolls around, Bush is going to have a mighty hard sell even within his own party for keeping our troops in harm's way.

Kevin Drum 12:47 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (135)

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I'm wondering if Petraeus can be relied on to spout whatever line the Cheney administration wants in September, or July, or whenever we're supposed to get the "progress report." They may be in a bind on that.

Posted by: SqueakyRat on May 12, 2007 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

The Decider will just make up some more BS why we should stay longer in Iraq. Do you seriously believe he'll start to leave Iraq at all before 2009? It's all a kabuki dance. Smirk is so bull-headed that he'll take the Repukes down with him. I won't believe any Repukes will defect(more than Gilchrist and Jones) until I see actual proof. Talk is cheap.

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on May 12, 2007 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

This thing is over in September and the Democrats ought to make it happen before the Republicans do. It would make no sense to me for the Democratic Party not to do the right thing, be tough, and get us onto the exit strategy for this occupation, and instead wait around for the Republicans to finally do it to Bush while American soldiers are still at risk and dying.

Posted by: Jimm on May 12, 2007 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

If the generals are still saying that the central government is worthless when September rolls around, Bush is going to have a mighty hard sell even within his own party for keeping our troops in harm's way.

Bush might have a mighty hard sell, but I'm sure he won't shy from it, as he can then lay blame for failure on the Iraq's. While that is predictable, and has some justification, let us not forget who is ultimately accountable and responsible.

Posted by: has407 on May 12, 2007 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

General Mixon said he needs more troops. The Dems are trying to reduce the number of troops. Amazingly the Dems nevertheless accuse President Bush of not listening to the Generals.

Incidentally, General Mixon's overall assessment was upbeat, even though the media focused on the need for more troops. One should read the entire press conference, not just the cherry-picked negatives.

Among Gen. Mixon's positive comments were:

My overall assessment is that in Nineveh, Kirkuk and Salahuddin provinces we have achieved overall tactical parity against the enemy and in selected areas we have tactical superiority.

What I mean is by tactical parity -- is we continue to work on all the other lines of effort, that being economic and governmental, while engaging in the tactical fight, as well as working to improve the Iraqi security forces. Tactical superiority means that the threat is more criminal in nature, and there is minimal to no terrorist activity....

After nearly eight months on the ground, I am concerned about the overall progress of our Iraqi security forces and the governmental processes. Progress is being made in selected areas, although slow. And at times we have episodic setbacks and unnecessary roadblocks to security and governance, but we continue to move forward....

I believe we can make progress; we have made progress, but it needs to move at a faster rate. But most importantly, I want to make sure that these Iraqi commanders and these Iraqi soldiers, that every day are out there fighting this enemy, are supported in the way they should be supported. That's my ultimate aim. They need the support, they deserve it, and we're going to work very hard to improve the capacity of support up and down their chain of command.

http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=3961


Posted by: ex-liberal on May 12, 2007 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

what a funny vocabulary you have, ex-liberal, calling that an "upbeat" assessment.

we've had a lifetime's worth of "upbeat" and "progress" and "things getting better" in just over 4 years in iraq without once seeing anything there to justify the expense in blood and treasure from an american national security perspective.

as for listening to the generals, bush has ignored and/or fired every general who didn't tell him what he wanted to hear; meanwhile, the generals (as kevin notes) are talking about what is required in a non-military fashion, about which bush keeps doing nothing (to the point of failing to impose a single performance requirement on the iraqi government).

there was a time when we had another texan as president, and his generals wanted more troops, too. fortunately, that president listened to the ISG of the day, even though it still took 5 years to end our involvement in vietnam....

Posted by: howard on May 12, 2007 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: Incidentally, General Mixon's overall assessment was upbeat, even though the media focused on the need for more troops. One should read the entire press conference, not just the cherry-picked negatives.

Yes, the media focused on the need for more troops--regardless of how upbeat the message--and rightly so. Where are those additional troops going to come from? Current and planned deployments are spoken for. Unless you've got a few BCT's in your pocket that no one else knows about?

Posted by: has407 on May 12, 2007 at 3:00 AM | PERMALINK

Randy's in the basement
Mixon up the medicine

Posted by: Disputo on May 12, 2007 at 3:27 AM | PERMALINK

If it's all so damn upbeat, when is your ass heading over there? You have yet to answer that simple question. Or do you have other priorities?

Posted by: Kenji on May 12, 2007 at 4:15 AM | PERMALINK

Bush will use every lie, trick, treachery and underhanded tactic at his disposal to kick the Iraq can down the road and avoid accountability for his misdeeds. It is a time-honored Bush family tradition.

Democrats need to always remember that they are not dealing with an honest, trustworthy, honorable person in George W. Bush. They are dealing with a deeply criminal, dishonest, pathological liar who likely would have spent most of his adult life behind bars or in rehab, if his last name wasn't Bush.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 12, 2007 at 6:32 AM | PERMALINK

*My overall assessment is that in Nineveh, Kirkuk and Salahuddin provinces we have achieved overall tactical parity against the enemy and in selected areas we have tactical superiority.*

So, Kurdistan is doing well?

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on May 12, 2007 at 7:32 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I repeat my query from yesterday - we die-hards are willing to stand or fall on Petreaus' report in September, but are you guys willing to do the same? What if there is a palpable change in the atmosphere by that time, and real movement on the oil-sharing bill, etc.? Will you admit the Iraqi people deserve more time and assistance? If not, what would/could move you to that conclusion - maybe a national plebiscite asking us to stay for two more years? PLease let us know what it is you really want, if it's not just a chance to gloat at another American defeat.

Posted by: minion on May 12, 2007 at 7:42 AM | PERMALINK

minny,

Certainly not all, but MOST Dems oppose this war. As such, they certainly hold no support for the surge either - succeed or fail.

If there are some successes to report by September, all it will do is lower the criticism - temporarily. It won't change too many minds.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on May 12, 2007 at 7:46 AM | PERMALINK

minny,

My comment above stands for either side. If Petreaus' report is less than expected - I seriously doubt the die-hards will "fall" very far.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on May 12, 2007 at 7:49 AM | PERMALINK

PLease let us know what it is you really want, if it's not just a chance to gloat at another American defeat.

This is hardly worth responding to. We are not gloating at America's defeat - if there was any chance to salvage this war and make it a success, I would be all for it.

I do gloat at your political defeat, because I consider people like you to be sociopaths who need to be kept as far away from power as possible.

And by the way, Minion: you are NOT America. Not even close. That thinking is so 11/6/06 of you.

Posted by: Xenos on May 12, 2007 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK

For the record, I retract my "gloating" comment as to Kevin or the responsible lefties in this forum -- I do think you are too cordial to the riff-raff extremists that post here, but I don't think you share their Freudian need to hate America.

Posted by: minion on May 12, 2007 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

"On Tuesday, without note in the U.S. media, more than half of the members of Iraq's parliament rejected the continuing occupation of their country. 144 lawmakers signed onto a legislative petition calling on the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal, according to Nassar Al-Rubaie, a spokesman for the Al Sadr movement, the nationalist Shia group that sponsored the petition."

Majority of Iraqi Lawmakers Now Reject Occupation
By Raed Jarrar and Joshua Holland, AlterNet. Posted May 9, 2007.

Posted by: consider wisely always on May 12, 2007 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

We didn't have a "timetable" in Europe after Pearl Harbor. Why would we have one in Iraq after 9/11?

Posted by: Al on May 12, 2007 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

consider it thouroughly --

The timetable asks us to leave in a few years time, i.e., it's the politically correct way for the legislature to ask us to stay rather than cut and run. Don't trust althernet's spin... you might find they're a teensy bit loose with the facts.

Posted by: minion on May 12, 2007 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

From worldpublicopinion.org
Most Iraqis Want U.S. Troops Out Within a Year
Say U.S. Presence Provoking More Conflict Than it is Preventing

Approval of Attacks on U.S.-led Forces Rises to 6 in 10

Full Report
Questionnaire/Methodology
Transcript of Brookings Saban Center Briefing

A new WPO poll of the Iraqi public finds that seven in ten Iraqis want U.S.-led forces to commit to withdraw within a year. An overwhelming majority believes that the U.S. military presence in Iraq is provoking more conflict than it is preventing and there is growing confidence in the Iraqi army. If the United States made a commitment to withdraw, a majority believes that this would strengthen the Iraqi government. Support for attacks on U.S.-led forces has grown to a majority position—now six in ten. Support appears to be related to a widespread perception, held by all ethnic groups, that the U.S. government plans to have permanent military bases in Iraq.

Posted by: consider wisely always on May 12, 2007 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

We didn't have a "timetable" in Europe after Pearl Harbor. Why would we have one in Iraq after 9/11?

No, but we did have a clear policy: unconditional surrender by the enemy. What is our policy now? It is something short of unconditional surrender, but what? How to measure, how to benchmark, how to consider as a matter of time and investment whether the policy is succeeding, failing, or somewhere in between?

Without a coherent policy with measurable goals, there can be no accountability for the President. That is what this is about. The president offers platitudes instead of a policy. Congress is coming up with one in a vacuum, because someone needs to.

Posted by: Xenos on May 12, 2007 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

minion writes;

I repeat my query from yesterday - we die-hards are willing to stand or fall on Petreaus' report in September, but are you guys willing to do the same?

Yes, we are willing to do the same. But it will have to be with an objective assessment of the effect of the surge, not General Petreaus' report. As one of the architects of the surge, he cannot be treated as an objective observer. We have repeatedly asked for metrics for assessing the efficacy of any particular strategy in Iraq, and never gotten one. If attacks on US troops are up, that proves it is working. If attacks on US troops are down, that also proves it is working. I think we all know that Petreaus report will say that the surge is working and it just needs more time. But it will not provide metrics for objective assessment.

Posted by: sceptic on May 12, 2007 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

"Why would we have one in Iraq after 9/11"

Al is so correct - Have not brushed up on WWII history, but, if memory serves me well, I believe we did have a timetable after Pearl.

First, we coordinated with opposition parties in Japan and quickly overwhelmed their homeland. Then, we immediately turned our attention to those other imminent threats from Mexico and Canada. And how did that turn out, libs???

Posted by: thethirdPaul on May 12, 2007 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

"....At the same time, the American occupation fuels hostility by the Sunnis toward Shiite "collaborators" with the occupation, and vice-versa. And each attack of course calls for retaliation. And the bodies pile up. If the Americans left, both sides could negotiate and participate in the reconstruction of Iraq without fear of being branded traitors. The Iraqi government would lose its quisling stigma. And Iraq's security forces would no longer have the handicap of being seen to be working on behalf of foreign infidels against fellow Iraqis.

So why don't the Yanquis just go home? Is all this not rather odd? Three thousand of their own dead, tens of thousands critically maimed. And still they stay. Why, they absolutely refuse to even offer a timetable for withdrawal. No exit plan. No nothing.

No, it's not odd. It's oil.

Oil was not the only motivation for the American invasion and occupation, but the other goals have already been achieved -- eliminating Saddam Hussein for Israel's sake, canceling the Iraqi use of the euro in place of the dollar for oil transactions, expansion of the empire in the middle east with new bases.

American oil companies have been busy under the occupation, and even before the US invasion, preparing for a major exploitation of Iraq's huge oil reserves. Chevron, ExxonMobil and others are all set to go. Four years of preparation are coming to a head now. Iraq's new national petroleum law -- written in a place called Washington, DC -- is about to be implemented. It will establish agreements with foreign oil companies, privatizing much of Iraq's oil reserves under exceedingly lucrative terms. Security will be the only problem, protecting the oil."

From the author of works on the empire--D. Blum


Posted by: consider wisely always on May 12, 2007 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

I repeat my query from yesterday - we die-hards are willing to stand or fall on Petreaus' report in September, but are you guys willing to do the same? What if there is a palpable change in the atmosphere by that time, and real movement on the oil-sharing bill, etc.?

Jeebus creebus, just ask for a pony and be done with it.

I have no question that his report will be "positive." It simply isn't possible that it will be anything else. All you're basically saying is, "When the Bush administration concocts another set of lies in September, will you take them at face value? Won't you please please please just let us lie to you one more time? It was so great for the first six years or so. Can't we please? Just one more Excellent And Bodacious Sign O' Progress™ this time it's real, honest! Won't you just drink the Kool Aid? It's so yummy, one more sip, come on for old times' sake!"

Um, no, actually. This isn't a second chance. It's like the 50th. And your people lie like breathing. You ran out of chances a f*** of a long time ago. Welcome to the consequences.

Posted by: DrBB on May 12, 2007 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Cheney, Rove, and Bush must be rueing the day they let Gates join the team; he keeps loosening up the mortar that holds their brick wall together.

Posted by: lampwick on May 12, 2007 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

So your assesment is that Gates, A MEMBER OF THIS ADMINISTRATION, is going to start goating generals in his own army to start preaching against the war. In your dreams, Drum.

Look, Gates is a weathery old political hand. He knows the score, and he understands what it takes to mowe down the Democratic partie. You think he's going to sowe the seeds of dischord. Meh.

[Democratic Party. Get it right or get zapped. This post, however, is too perfectly stupid to zap. It must stand for posterity and as an example of the wingnut intellect.]

Posted by: egbert on May 12, 2007 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

If the generals are still saying that the central government is worthless when September rolls around, Bush is going to have a mighty hard sell even within his own party for keeping our troops in harm's way.
I'm with Atrios on this. Every few months some report comes out that tries to give the impression that the Republicans are this close to a revolt from the President on Iraq. But backing out of Iraq would be an admission of failure, that their world view is fatally flawed, and that they are responsible for the deaths and suffering of hundreds of thousands. It ain't happening.

Posted by: Del Capslock on May 12, 2007 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

"We have repeatedly asked for metrics for assessing the efficacy of any particular strategy in Iraq, and never gotten one. "

You want metrics?

Cellphone usage is skyrocketing in Iraq. Economic growth is skyrocketing. Other parts of Iraq which had barely any energy under Saddam now have energy.

Violence in Baghdad is down 80%. Ninevah and Kirkuk have acheived tacital equality with the insurgency. Anbar tribal shieks have turned on Al Quaeda and are ready to join forces with the US.

But if you listen to the liberal media, all you ever hear is "oh, 20 people were killed in Iraq today."

Yeah, so? 20 people were probably killed in New York City today, too.

Posted by: egbert on May 12, 2007 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

The government od Iraqu is "hamstrung by bureaucracy and compromised by corruption and sectarian divisions..."

The Bush administration has taught them everything they know...

snark!

Posted by: Dennis on May 12, 2007 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Dear goddess, I actually agree with the honorless coward eggfart, at least as far as conclusions go if not reasoning.

Yes, Gates was not a big fan of the current escalation (a.k.a., The Surge), but iIt's ridiculous to imagine that he's somehow conspiring with the generals to put Bush in a bind. Eggblurt seems to take that as an article of table-pounding authoritarian faith (caps-lock, the electronic version of the straight-arm salute) but I have to agree, it doesn't stand up to the smelll test. I could imagine that it's part of an effort to bring pressure on the so-called "Iraqi Government," in the hope of compelling them to do something useful (na ga happen), but I guarantee the generals are not going to be "still saying the government is worthless when September rolls around." These guys are good at almost nothing besides arm-twisting their people into shouting Party Doctrine in perfect unison. The propaganda blitz now obviously being ginned up for September will go off without a hitch as far as that goes, I'm quite sure. Whether anyone besides 28-percenters like eggs benedict can bring themselves to swallow it at this very late date is another question.

Posted by: DrBB on May 12, 2007 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Egbert:

The homicide rate in NYC for 2005 (the last year for which stats are available) was 2.3 persons per day. That, in a city of 19 million people. Note that there were no car bombs in NYC in recent memory, and that the people of NY have access to electricity 24 hours a day.

In Iraq, over the past year, the homicide rate has been between 60 and 120 persons per day (plus about 3 American troops per day). That, in a country of 25 million people. Many of those deaths were due to car bombs. Decreases in violence in Baghdad have been balanced by increases elsewhere. The inhabitants of Baghdad receive electricity about 3 hours a day. The federal government in Iraq is a joke; if it were not for the tribes and political associations like SCIRI, there would be no effective government at all.

Posted by: lampwick on May 12, 2007 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

...the central government is worthless...

But isn't that our governnment? Didn't I see a lot of purple fingers? Or was it flashbacks?

Seriously folks, it's kind of disingenuous to seize power illegally, fire competent people in the government for political reasons, install a bunch of hacks, call that a government, and then whine about its incompentence, isn't it?.

And then there'e Iraq.

and disputo -- no posting comments while listening to old Dylan records at 3 AM!
we're all on the pavement
thinkin' bout the government

Posted by: thersites on May 12, 2007 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

If the generals are still saying that the central government is worthless when September rolls around, Bush is going to have a mighty hard sell

Ah, but what if the generals say the central government is lousy, but the surge is working anyhow? That's more-or-less what Mixon said.

Having individual generals hold press conferences may be a brilliant PR move. In September, if Bush and Petraeus AND several generals all say the surge is working, that might permit continued Congressional support.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 12, 2007 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

The Bush war supporters posting here must be exhausted from navigating
their woefully ineffective yet generous cheerleading of this doomed occupation.

Posted by: consider wisely always on May 12, 2007 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: "Ah, but what if the generals say the central government is lousy, but the surge is working anyhow? That's more-or-less what Mixon said."

As Kevin wrote:

"... if there's one thing that everybody seems to finally agree on in Washington, it's the fact that military progress is meaningless without political progress to go along with it."

Apparently, it's not just that you don't read the links; you don't read the initial posts, either.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on May 12, 2007 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt that every general in Iraq is going to start publicly asking for more troops. They all know the score, after all. But if Nash is right, they might start badmouthing the Iraqi government more bluntly and more frequently — and that might be even more dangerous for the Bush administration's fairy tales about Iraq than complaints about troop levels. After all, if there's one thing that everybody seems to finally agree on in Washington, it's the fact that military progress is meaningless without political progress to go along with it. If the generals are still saying that the central government is worthless when September rolls around, Bush is going to have a mighty hard sell even within his own party for keeping our troops in harm's way.

If the Democrats and liberals like Drum were worth anything, they would stop hiding behind the military and start exercising their own judgment.

That means, among other things, it doen't matter worth a damn what the generals said, say, or will say.

Posted by: Thinker on May 12, 2007 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

In September, if Bush and Petraeus AND several generals all say the surge is working, that might permit continued Congressional support.

IOW, the purpose of the surge is to make Dear Leader look good, Congress look bad, and to hell with the Iraqis and our people over there.

Iraq -- not so much a war as the world's most expensive campaign commercial.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on May 12, 2007 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

"minon" wrote: we die-hards are willing to stand or fall on Petreaus' report in September, but are you guys willing to do the same?

And as we've pointed out before, it's a fixed bet. Petraeus will no doubt cite "progress" of some sort despite an overall trend of failure. As howard so aptly noted, that's been the GOP game plan for the entire course of the war. And true to form, you guys will hang your hats on the "progress" straws as the SS Bush sinks around you. Even in your post you point to "palpable change", "real movement", and "more time and assistance" -- after many more bloody months! They're getting the more time and assistance, minion, and you tacitly admit we aren't going to get the success we were promised -- just, per usual, another punt until Bush's failure can be blamed on the next President (admit it, minion, for all your stand-or-fall bullshit, this is what it's really all about, isn't it?). minion's bet-hedging reveals that even he does not expect Petraeus to report actual success, just more victory-is-just-around-the-corner bullshit.

But that's okay, because for all minions bluster about "standing or falling," our crew of GOP apologists aren't doing the actual standing or falling in Iraq. Thus, your so-called "support", not costing you a thing but shame you don't have the self-respect to acknowledge, doesn't amount to a bucket of piss.

"ex-liberal", meanwhile, will no doubt write more sneering and dishonest posts criticizing the war critics for not drinking the Kool-aid.

As if neocon apologists like "minion" and "ex-liberal" have established a record of intellectual honesty, instead of the exact opposite. Since when is your word any good?

Posted by: Gregory on May 12, 2007 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

The surge is now being transformed into an occupation.

More than half of Iraq's parliament members voted for a date certain for the withdrawal of U.S. troops in their country.

Bush said that when the Iraqis didn't want us there, we'd leave.

Posted by: Maeven on May 12, 2007 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

I do think you are too cordial to the riff-raff extremists that post here

You know what, minion? I agree, and I'm going to do something about it right now.

"minion," "ex-liberal", "egbert", et al: Fuck you.

And "minion," you can take your "hating America" bullshit and shove it.

Posted by: Gregory on May 12, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

wishiwuz2: Certainly not all, but MOST Dems oppose this war.

Oh, you can go further than that: Certainly not all, but MOST Americansoppose this war.

Posted by: Gregory on May 12, 2007 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory, I can help you install free software that filters out all the trolls.

Whenever they post, my browser turns their text into nonsense.

Start by downloading firefox and greasemonkey.

Then download the Washington Monthly Disemvoweler.

Posted by: absent observer on May 12, 2007 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

chaunceyatrest: You point out that Kevin said political progress is necessary. His cited LA Times article gives the impression of no political progress. However, if you read General Mixon's full comments, he said the government is making political progress:

Progress in governance is semi-functional in Nineveh, Kirkuk and Salahuddin provinces and making progress every day. These three provinces have completed or are working on their 2007 budget and render minimum or better services to the people of their respective province, and their governors are engaged every day in the progress of governance.

Government in Diyala, however, is nonfunctional. The leaders of this province are still working on their 2007 budget, and I was advised today that they have completed that budget, although late. Unfortunately, they failed to execute their 2006 budget, which puts the province well behind on essential services. They cannot regularly achieve a quorum in their provincial council, and they fail to provide those essential services the population needs. The PRT that is in all of my areas but particularly in Diyala is working with the government in Diyala to improve their functioning, and I am optimistic that they will improve over the coming year.

Support from the central government and the provisional deputy governors is mixed in all provinces, and at times ineffective, especially in Diyala. They are overburdened by a centralized bureaucratic process from Baghdad and impacted by corruption and sectarian issues. These are areas that we must improve on over the next several months.
http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=3961

A lot of posters here will refuse to believe any good news from Iraq. I think a lot of the public also will not believe good news from Iraq -- particularly if the media doesn't report it.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 12, 2007 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

For example.. this is what ex-liberal just wrote:

Give me pie lots of pie / 'neath the starry skies above / Don't fence me in - without pie, that is.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 12, 2007 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: absent observer on May 12, 2007 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

I repeat my query from yesterday - we die-hards are willing to stand or fall on Petreaus' report in September, but are you guys willing to do the same?

Posted by: minion

It's kind of like an addicted gambler saying he's willing to quit unless one last throw of the dice comes up lucky (the dice are loaded, but we'll leave that out for now). He's willing to make that deal, so why won't the house?

Posted by: Martin Gale on May 12, 2007 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Can the Iraqis keep the oil flowing if we leave?

USA: "Hey, Rest of World, do you want us to abandon the oily lifeblood of the world's economy to the chaotic, government in Iraq?"

If that oil blows up, the Machine will find a way to blame the Dems.

Posted by: ferd on May 12, 2007 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Egbert...........you are an idiot!!
If things are going so well over there, as you say, then you need to make it your vacation destination.

"But if you listen to the liberal media, all you ever hear is "oh, 20 people were killed in Iraq today."

Yeah, so? 20 people were probably killed in New York City today, too."

This is the kind of attitude that got us where we are today you sick fuck!!

Posted by: In need of a Valium on May 12, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

A personal best, Al: "We didn't have a 'timetable' in Europe after Pearl Harbor."

ex-lib, you still haven't said when you are joining up. You don't seem to have any answer at all to that, or to any direct question, so we have to assume that you are a coward or not an actual person.

And egbert, you adorable little child, it's so charming when talk about "goating generals". That's what happens when the steaks are high.

Posted by: Kenji on May 12, 2007 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

yeah, so? 20 people were probably killed in New York City today, too.

The yearly murder rate in New York totals about 540 out of a population of about ten million, less than 2 a day on average. So probably not.

And none of those, to my knowledge, were killed by IEDs, a violent guerilla insurgency or by sectarian death squads in the midst of a civil war.

Posted by: Stefan on May 12, 2007 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

I repeat my query from yesterday - we die-hards are willing to stand or fall on Petreaus' report in September, but are you guys willing to do the same?

Unless you've enlisted and are on patrol in the streets of Baghdad, you're not really ready to stand or fall on anything, are you?

Posted by: Stefan on May 12, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: The yearly murder rate in New York totals about 540 out of a population of about ten million, less than 2 a day on average. So probably not.

And none of those, to my knowledge, were killed by IEDs, a violent guerilla insurgency or by sectarian death squads in the midst of a civil war.


stefan, suppose some violent group starts murdering lots of people in the US using death squads? Will you recommend that we stand aside and let the terrorists run the country? That's what you seem to be recommending for Iraq.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 12, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

ex-lib, you are a master at missing the point. You compared Iraq to crime in America, and now you are using that as straw man to beat your betters with? Sad, really.

Still waiting to hear where you are being posted. Or is the army just for faceless others? Well?

Posted by: Kenji on May 12, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

It'll be interesting if we start hearing the truth out of Iraq from our military. But I wouldn't count on it. Why would Gates tell his generals to speak out right after clamping down on blogs and email from soldiers?

Posted by: markg8 on May 12, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

"...Yes, the media focused on the need for more troops--regardless of how upbeat the message--and rightly so. Where are those additional troops going to come from?..."
Posted by: has407 on May 12, 2007 at 3:00 AM

Perhaps from Anbar province. It seems there is an experiment afoot in letting the Sunni tribes take charge out west and letting them deal with AQ on their own terms. The focus now seems to be placing troops where ethnicities are the most mixed-Baghdad and Diyala provinces. Here's an ethnic map (Diyala is just northeast of Baghdad):
http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/middle_east_and_asia/iraq_ethnoreligious_1992.jpg

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on May 12, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

stefan, suppose some violent group starts murdering lots of people in the US using death squads? Will you recommend that we stand aside and let the terrorists run the country?

Hey, if they want it so much why not give them a shot? They can't be any worse than Bush....

Posted by: Stefan on May 12, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: "A lot of posters here will refuse to believe any good news from Iraq. I think a lot of the public also will not believe good news from Iraq -- particularly if the media doesn't report it."

Completing or "working on" budgets is not good news. Meeting those budgets would be good news. And rendering "minimum or better services to the people" is setting the bar ridiculously low.

Political progress would be a power-sharing agreement. Political progress would be decentralized power, so that governors -- rather than Baghdad -- are running their provinces.

What's up with your soft bigotry of low expectations?

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on May 12, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

I appreciate the response my comment has drawn, but I notice none of you have addressed the second part - what could get you to change your mind? I thought John Kerry was the absolute worst candidate for president in my lifetime, but if he had said he was going to appoint General Zinni to take over Iraq policy I might have voted for him. Is there anything analogous that could get you guys to change your mind - I mentioned a plebliscite putting the Iraqi people on record, but give me anything - what benchmarks would get the Iraqi people some more breathing room.

Posted by: minion on May 12, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

what could get you to change your mind?

Can you unring a bell? Can you make the cause just? Of course not. So your question is answered.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 12, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

The tactics at present are to rob peter to pay paul.

We've moved more of our own to Baghdad and environs, as well as the best (only?) deployable Iraqi security forces. We knew that other areas were going to be short, and many predicted that the violence would gravitate outwards.

Meanwhile Baghdad is not hugely less violent, US troops have become more frequent and less mobile targets and there are not any more US troops available except on a short term emergency basis.

There is no emergency. The situation is totally ongoing. In 4 plus years we have not managed to train any effective home-grown police or security forces. In fact they are somewhat of a liability. This is not going to change in 4 months.

What is going to change?

Absolutely nothing.

The only reasons for delaying pulling out are political: 1) to give the Iraqis a last chance to grab the reins in a reasonable manner; 2) to allow the President a semi-graceful withdrawal.

The Iraq Study Group dropped the same hint.

Neither of these parties is availing themselves of the opportunity bought with the blood of our own and others.

There's no moral reason to continue with this total catastrophic failure.

Posted by: notthere on May 12, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

That you can claim John Kerry was a worse candidate than Bush demonstrates your total lack of seriousness on national security. Did John Kerry cowardly find a way to only pretend to serve his country? Did John Kerry preside over the worst terrorist attack on our nation? Did John Kerry start a war with a nation that was no threat to our national security?

Why should anyone take you seriously minion? Your ability to compare and contrast is less than that a pre-vocal Sesame Street watcher.

What would it take to make me believe that a pile of dung is ice cream? It turns out the answer is: nothing. I use reality and facts as my basis for making decisions. The pile of dung you are selling has been stinking up the place for four years. Until you admit that basic fact you will never be able to clean it up.

Posted by: noel on May 12, 2007 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

BGRS puts it about as simply as it can be put. You lot think this is just the poor execution of a good idea. It was a stupid idea from the get-go. Staying longer doesn't make it any less stupid.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on May 12, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Well, ex-lib? When are you shipping out?

Waiting...

Posted by: Kenji on May 12, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK
.... lot of posters here will refuse to believe any good news from Iraq...ex-lax at 12:31 PM
Is this good news? I don't think so. Is this? What is this 'good news' that no one reports, one of your wet dreams?
....what could get you to change your mind.... grunion at 2:08 PM
Since there is no justification for Bush's war, there can be no justification for supporting it. Posted by: Mike on May 12, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Just to tidy up Maeven's note. For the first time a majority, 144, of the Iraqi parliament basically petisioned for a date for the exit of all foreign troops. But, as it was a majority, it will now go to the floor of the parliament for debate and possible resolution.

Still a notable event.

Posted by: notthere on May 12, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

petitioned?!!

Posted by: notthere on May 12, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, you can't start immoral wars with the corrupt administration you want, so you have start them with the dirty bastards you've got.

You have a problem with that? We're spreadin' democracy here, you traitor. Wha'd you say your name was? Hey, what's that reporter doing here? Must be a Clinton supporter. Nobody understands us, even when we have all the power. Waaaaaaaaaah!

Posted by: Kenji on May 12, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

absent observer on May 12, 2007 at 12:30 PM: Whenever they post, my browser turns their text into nonsense.

Hey, my browser does that with no special features at all! For example, earlier today it turned something egbert wrote into:

Look, Gates is a weathery old political hand. He knows the score, and he understands what it takes to mowe down the Democratic partie. You think he's going to sowe the seeds of dischord. Meh.

Posted by: thersites on May 12, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

He's mowey and sowey and oh-so-weathery. Huzzah!

Posted by: Kenji on May 12, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

I appreciate the response my comment has drawn, but I notice none of you have addressed the second part - what could get you to change your mind?

And with that, minion's conversion into a concern troll is complete.

What BGRS said. You're question is premised on a false assumption.

And, btw, at this point I am much more concerned about how GWB's maligned neglect has turned Afganistan into complete shit than anything that is happening in Iraq. Iraq is lost. Period. The Afgan story needs much more focus to prevent that from being lost too.

Posted by: Disputo on May 12, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

exactomundo, disputo.

they're getting pretty sick of us in Afghanistan. And, with the whole course of that event last week that escalated to bombing innocents, it seems we have learned nothing about learning their culture so we can even get close to winning hearts and minds.

We are such bloody amateurs (pun intended) at "nation building" but only an idiot could eff everything up. . . Oh, that's right.

Posted by: notthere on May 12, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

By the time GWB leaves office, we very well may have a sadistic anti-west strongman in charge of Iraq and Afganistan controlled by the Taliban, and then we can just pretend that the GWB admin never even happened (well, except for all the wasted lives and money).

Nice, huh?

Posted by: Disputo on May 12, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

3/19/07, 11:35 pm EST

Four Years, For What?
"There is no best-case scenario for Iraq. It’s complete anarchy now. No family is untouched by kidnappings, murders, ethnic cleansing — everybody lives in a constant state of terror. Leaving aside Kurdistan, which is very different, there’s nobody in Iraq who is safe. You can get killed for being a Sunni, for being a Shia, for being educated, for being part of the former regime, for being part of the current regime. The Americans are still killing Iraqi civilians left and right. There’s no government in Iraq; it doesn’t exist outside of the Green Zone. That’s not only the government’s fault, that’s our fault: We deliberately created a weak government so that we would have final authority over everything in Iraq."

–Nir Rosen, Author of In the Belly of the Green Bird, a book about Iraq’s decent into civil war, speaking about that country’s future, from our Rolling Stone Roundtable The Grim Truth
-- Tim Dickinson

Posted by: consider wisely always on May 12, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

More troops?

For what?

Can't we just mail Halliburton its checks and keep the fellas at home?

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on May 12, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

I appreciate the response my comment has drawn, but I notice none of you have addressed the second part - what could get you to change your mind? I thought John Kerry was the absolute worst candidate for president in my lifetime, but if he had said he was going to appoint General Zinni to take over Iraq policy I might have voted for him. Is there anything analogous that could get you guys to change your mind - I mentioned a plebliscite putting the Iraqi people on record, but give me anything - what benchmarks would get the Iraqi people some more breathing room.

The handover of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and a few dozen others to an international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, the withdrawal of American combat forces from Iraq, and payment of hundreds of billions of dollars in reparations to the Iraqi people would get me to start changing my mind.

Posted by: Stefan on May 12, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

To put it another way, what would get me to change my mind that an illegal, immoral and unprovoked war of aggression against a sovereign that had not attacked us and was no threat to us, a war that has killed well over half a million people in that country with many more to come and that was begun in large part for partisan political purposes is justified?

Well, I have to admit, not much. It's rather like asking "what would it take to get you to change your mind that me breaking into your house, killing half your family and robbing and beating you should be given time to succeed?"

Posted by: Stefan on May 12, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Forget what I said about Afganistan. Let's pull all the idiot Americans out of there too:

But the Americans had stepped into a complicated political environment. In interviews, villagers, who had cooperated with NATO before, blamed local rivals for planting false information with the Americans, to encourage the Americans to attack Zerkoh.

After the Special Forces units started raiding homes, the villagers were so angered, they said, they fought the Americans themselves. They insisted that no Taliban were here, an area that has been mostly calm.

“NATO was coming regularly, and the Afghan Army and police, and we were cooperating with them,” said Muhammad Alef, 35, a farmer who was tending to his wounded cousin in the provincial hospital in the city of Herat.

“But when the Americans came without permission, and they came more than once and disturbed the people,” he said. “They searched the houses, and the second time they arrested people, and the third time the people got angry and fought them.”

The American forces searched the tribal chief’s house and arrested two of his staff members, the villagers said. One, a watchman named only Bahadullah, 45, said he had been handcuffed, covered with a hood and taken to the nearby American base at Shindand.

He said he had been strung up by his feet for what seemed like an hour and a half as American soldiers swung him about. When he was let down the soldiers kicked and beat him, he said. In an interview this week, he said he was still passing blood and in pain from the beatings.

So the villagers then fought back, and the US bombed them, killing 57, mostly women and kids. Fucking lovely.

Posted by: Disputo on May 12, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

"The war in Iraq isn't over yet, but -- surge or no surge -- the United States has already lost. That's the grim consensus of a panel of experts assembled by Rolling Stone to assess the future of Iraq. "Even if we had a million men to go in, it's too late now," says retired four-star Gen. Tony McPeak, who served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War. "Humpty Dumpty can't be put back together again."

Those on the panel -- including diplomats, counterterror analysts and a former top military commander -- agree that President Bush's attempt to secure Baghdad will only succeed in dragging out the conflict, creating something far beyond any Vietnam-style "quagmire." The surge won't bring an end to the sectarian cleansing that has ravaged Iraq, as the newly empowered Shiite majority seeks to settle scores built up during centuries of oppressive rule by the Sunni minority. It will do nothing to defuse the powder keg that an independence-minded Kurdistan, in Iraq's northern provinces, poses to the governments of Turkey, Syria and Iran, which have long brutalized their own Kurdish separatists. And it will only worsen the global war on terror.

"Our invasion and occupation has created a cauldron that will continue to draw in the players in the Middle East for the foreseeable future," says Michael Scheuer, who led the CIA's hunt for Osama bin Laden. "By taking out Saddam, we have allowed the jihad to move 1,000 kilometers west, where it can project its power, its organizers, its theology into Turkey -- and from Turkey into Europe."
Tim Dickinson

Posted by: consider wisely always on May 12, 2007 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

"By taking out Saddam, we have allowed the jihad to move 1,000 kilometers west, where it can project its power, its organizers, its theology into Turkey -- and from Turkey into Europe."

FINALLY!

It all makes sense now.

GWB invaded Iraq as the opening move in a long game to take out Europe.

BRILLIANT!

Posted by: Disputo on May 12, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

If the generals are still saying that the central government is worthless when September rolls around, Bush is going to have a mighty hard sell even within his own party for keeping our troops in harm's way.

I think that's a fair understatement.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 12, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

we die-hards

yes, it's certainly hard to die from your Mother's comfy basement. In Iraq, not so much.

You are a ridiculous tool.

Posted by: ckelly on May 12, 2007 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder whether this is progress:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070512/ts_nm/iraq_party_dc_1

"SCIRI" drops the word "revolution" from its name, and pledges alligience to Iraq and to Ali al Sistani.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 12, 2007 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

What if there is a palpable change in the atmosphere by that time

I don't care if it rains ponies by September. I want the US out of fucking Iraq... and you there.

Posted by: ckelly on May 12, 2007 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

You fucking die hards can get on it and die...hard deaths. Especially if you have no skin in the game. Fucking pathetic. Truly. Fucking. Pathetic.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 12, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Bernard Lewis is probably the West's foremost scholar of Islamic history and culture. He is cautiously optimistic about Iraq. He credits Bush for being tough and consistent in this column

Turning to Iraq, Lewis suggests a number of views - one reflected in the media, which is of a “continuing disaster,” and another which comes to Lewis from his personal friends in Iraq who “report positive developments.” A third view, Lewis claims, is that “most of Iraq is functioning rather well.” As he ended his prepared remarks, Lewis surprised everyone by expressing “cautious optimism” regarding Iraq. Lewis credited President Bush for being “tough and consistent” in Iraq and ridiculed the attitudes of congressional Democrats who oppose the Iraq war and who are saying: “Unless we win the war by next Tuesday, we are done.”

The linked article includes Lewis's opinion on a number of other topics. It's interesting reading.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 12, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, sweet Jesus..."ex-liberal" cites FrontPageMag...

Between that and your "A lot of posters here will refuse to believe any good news from Iraq" bullshit -- no, I'm not goingto correct you on it again; I'm just going to let the bad faith ring out loud and clear -- you're really just phoning it in, aren't you? You know your neocon agenda's decks are awash, and all you can do is post the vilest bullshit to maintain your quota.

Shame on you, "ex-liberal."

Posted by: Gregory on May 12, 2007 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

I look more to Marc Lynch and Juan Cole to cast light on the current situation than to the Kemalist Lewis.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 12, 2007 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Washington Monthly had a decent take on Lewis about three years ago.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 12, 2007 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Go watch the Daily Show interview w/ Reza Aslan at Crooks and Liars. Very dismissive of the administration's policies toward Iran and Iraq. Buy his book,too.

Posted by: TJM on May 12, 2007 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Shame on you, "ex-liberal."

You assume that a Stalinist sociopath like neverwasa-liberal knows of this thing you call 'shame'.

Posted by: Doug H. on May 12, 2007 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

i>You assume that a Stalinist sociopath like neverwasa-liberal knows of this thing you call 'shame'.

Nah, being all too familiar with the neocon toad "ex-liberal" and his/her/its bullshit, no, I really don't.

Posted by: Gregory on May 12, 2007 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl, I don't know Marc Lynch, but I have found Juan Cole not to be reliable.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 12, 2007 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl, I don't know Marc Lynch, but I have found Juan Cole not to be reliable.

Why should anyone care what someone as consistently wrong as "ex-liberal" thinks of Cole's reliability? (Especially when offered as an unsupported assertion....sheesh!).

That said, "ex-liberal" is many things -- all of them bad -- but let it never be said that he/she/it isn't reliable. "ex-liberal" can be relied upon to represent the neocon position, and do it dishonestly. Bravo!

Tool.

Posted by: Gregory on May 12, 2007 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

Juan R. I. Cole is Professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History at the History Department of the University of Michigan.
He has written extensively about modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia. He has given numerous media and press interviews on the War on Terrorism since September 11, 2001, as well as concerning the Iraq War in 2003. His current research focuses on two contemporary phenomena: 1) Shiite Islam in Iraq and Iran and 2) the "jihadi" or "sacred-war" strain of Muslim radicalism, including al-Qaeda and the Taliban among other groups. Cole commands Arabic, Persian and Urdu and reads some Turkish, knows both Middle Eastern and South Asian Islam, and lived in a number of places in the Muslim world for extended periods of time. His most recent book is Sacred Space and Holy War (IB Tauris 2002). This volume collects some of his work on the history of the Shiite branch of Islam in modern Iraq, Iran and the Gulf. He treated Shi`ism in his co-edited book, Shi`ism and Social Protest (Yale, 1986), of his first monograph, Roots of North Indian Shi`ism in Iran and Iraq (California, 1989). His interest in Iranian religion is further evident in his work on Baha'i studies, which eventuated in his 1998 book, Modernity and the Millennium: The Genesis of the Baha'i Faith in the Nineteenth Century Middle East (Columbia University Press). He has also written a good deal about modern Egypt, including a book, Colonialism and Revolution in the Middle East: Social and Cultural Origins of Egypt's `Urabi Movement (Princeton, 1993). His concern with comparative history and Islamics is evident in his edited Comparing Muslim Societies (Michigan, 1992).

Posted by: consider wisely always on May 12, 2007 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

re: Al's "We didn't have a 'timetable' in Europe after Pearl Harbor."

Well, actually, we did. Read Churchill's history of WWII (to cite a source you right-wing types seem to slobber over) and you will find that there was extensive planning done by Churchill and Roosevelt during late 1941-early 1942 while Churchill was in Washington, including detailed timetables. These were revised somewhat as the war progressed (mainly to change the date of the invasion of France), but at no point in the war didn't we have a clear timetable.

Posted by: dwm on May 12, 2007 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

consider wisely always: Yes, Juan Cole has excellent credentials on paper. Nevertheless, Yale recently turned him down, after coming close to hiring him. Here are some key points from an article giving the likely reasons why Yale rejected Prof. Cole.

..."He has since abandoned scholarship in favor of blog commentary," says Michael Rubin, a Yale graduate and editor of the Middle East Quarterly. Mr. Cole's postings...feature highly polemical writing and dubious conspiracy theories.

Mr. Cole told the Yale Herald that "when you become a public intellectual, it has the effect of dragging you into a lot of mud." Mr. Cole has done his share of splattering. He calls Israel "the most dangerous regime in the Middle East."* That ties in with his recurring theme that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee effectively controls Congress and much of U.S. foreign policy. In an article titled "Dual Loyalties," he wrote, "I simply think that we deserve to have American public servants who are centrally commited [sic] to the interests of the United States, rather than to the interests of a foreign political party," namely Israel's right-wing Likud, which was the ruling party until Ariel Sharon formed the centrist Kadima Party. Mr. Cole claims that "pro-Likud intellectuals" routinely "use the Pentagon as Israel's Gurkha regiment, fighting elective wars on behalf of Tel Aviv."

...Michael Oren, a visiting fellow at Yale, notes that in February 2003 Mr. Cole wrote on his blog that "Apparently [President Bush] has fallen for a line from the neo-cons in his administration that they can deliver the Jewish vote to him in 2004 if only he kisses Sharon's ass." Mr. Oren says "clearly that's anti-Semitism; that's not a criticism of Israeli policy."

Mr. Cole appears to be the only prominent academic in America to have embraced "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," a highly controversial paper by John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard. Mr. Cole told the Chicago Sun-Times yesterday that the paper argues the "virtually axiomatic" point held by the rest of the world that a "powerful pro-Israel lobby exists."

But the paper has been roundly attacked... Even Noam Chomsky, a far-left critic of Israel, wrote that we "have to ask how convincing their thesis is.

*Clarification
Prof. Cole says that the statement that he "calls Israel 'the most dangerous regime in the Middle East' " is libelous because what he really wrote was, "The most dangerous regime to United States interests in the Middle East is that of Ariel Sharon."

In summary, Juan Cole is now more a polemicist than a scholar. And, he appears to many to be anti-semitic.

I believe Blue Girl has said she was Jewish. It seems inappropriate for a Jew to take her guidance from an apparent anti-semite.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 12, 2007 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: "Bernard Lewis is probably the West's foremost scholar of Islamic history and culture. He is cautiously optimistic about Iraq. He credits Bush for being tough and consistent in this column."

Of course he credits Bush. He was one of the neocons encouraging Bush to attempt this ridiculous stunt in the first place. Funny how one guy with absolutely no book learning and another guy with too much book learning can be wrong about the exact same thing over & over & over again.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on May 12, 2007 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

'Formerly Populist' (if even that) - please cite instances of the *unreliability* of Professor Cole. It is incumbent upon you to make the case, having made the allegation.

Can you back it up? With credible sources? (tThat means Pajamas Media is out.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 12, 2007 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl, please see my post at 11:22 PM.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 12, 2007 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I should refresh before I post.

Yes, culturally I am Jewish, religiously I am an atheist.

Juan Cole has never struck me as anti-semitic - but I was called a KKK member on one of these threads recently by another Jew because I have the temerity to question Israel and be pissed off about the USS Liberty incident, and I think it is high time Israel stopped acting like taunting jackasses hiding under American petticoats and learned to get on with the neighbors.

If that makes me a bad Jew...well, so does putting cheese on my burger. I can deal.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 12, 2007 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

Saw it after I posted. Now I have to go find the less-than-flattering stuff I read about Rubin recently.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 12, 2007 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

chaunceyatrest, this is the first time I've seen Bernard Lewis classified as a "neocon". What facts do you have to back up your description?

P.S. Perhaps your view is that anyone who supported attacking Saddam is automatically a neocon. If that's your definition, then Hillary Clinton and John Kerry are neocons too.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 12, 2007 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, swell..."ex-liberal" cites the Wall Street Freakin' Journal's editorial page as his/her/its "source." So much for that. Got anything real, or just more wingnut bullshit?

Oh, right...that's all you ever have.

As to "ex-liberal"'s scurrilous claim as to Cole's alleged anti-semitism, you'll need more than a weaselly "appears to many" -- especially when you dishonest neocon toads so often whine about anti-Semitism when you're called on placing the interests of the State of Israel above those of the US.

Global, you have nothing to apologize for, and should know better than to take "ex-liberal" at his/her/its word -- especially when the only source mustered is the notoriously dishonest WSJ editorial page -- a steaming pile of claptrap that could give "ex-liberal" lessons in mendacity -- and probably does.

Posted by: Gregory on May 12, 2007 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

In an attempt to demonstrate that Juan Cole is anti-Semitic, ex-liberal sites the following quote:

"...Michael Oren, a visiting fellow at Yale, notes that in February 2003 Mr. Cole wrote on his blog that "Apparently [President Bush] has fallen for a line from the neo-cons in his administration that they can deliver the Jewish vote to him in 2004 if only he kisses Sharon's ass." Mr. Oren says "clearly that's anti-Semitism; that's not a criticism of Israeli policy."

Of course it's not a criticism of Israeli policy. It's a criticism of Bush & the neocons. Oren is an idiot for making that claim, and you're no less of an idiot for posting it in such a manner. It's schoolboy sock-puppetry. You post somebody else's ridiculous claim in the hope that it makes the argument you can't. When it's shot down, you distance yourself from it by saying that those were somebody else's words, not yours, just as you do when you say that Cole "appears to many to be anti-Semitic." Well, you've identified one person who thinks that, and I'm telling you why he's full of shit. Who are the others? More importantly, why don't you tell us the way in which Cole is anti-Semitic? Or can you only parrot others?

Lastly, I'm pretty sure that BGRS is going to make you wear your ass for a hat for saying it, but you've got absolutely no place to tell anyone what's appropriate for them. You're nothing but a patronizing fuckwit who can't string his own arguments together.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on May 12, 2007 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Rubin - a neophite historian with a shoddy track record. A putz who has never really done anything, pontificating from a lectern at the AEI that Saddam was a threat and had to be taken out.

Michael Rubin is the guy who refused to debate facts with Karen Kwiatkowski on a History Channel production when he found out he would have to debate with facts - he ran whining off the field of play and refused to appear with the person he selected to debate.

Real credible source he is.

A Bill Kristol boot-licker wannabe. (Who seems to me to wear his Judaism on his sleeve and looks for opportunities to take offense.)

Someone better than that toad will have to be presented to refute Professor Cole.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 12, 2007 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

Oh yeah, very heavy hitters - Michael Rubin of the American Enteprise, for the Super Rich, Institute, a lovely group of Neo-Con Artists.

And Michael Oren, of the Tsk, Tsk, the USS Liberty incident was merely a tragic "friendly fire" moment in the chaotic time of war, as his "Case Closed" article of several years back spoke.

Actually, I thought FAUX-Lib's analysis of General Cornwall's letter to King George was quite good - Writing from Yorktown, the good General says that he should have positive word on the surge by September - He remains highly optimistic that he will be able to force Washington and his men out from behind the trees in October on the plains of Yorktown.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on May 13, 2007 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

Cornwallis, Uncle Paul, Cornwallis

You must have been thinking of General "Cornwall" Johnson, or somethin'.

Posted by: stupid git on May 13, 2007 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

New rule for those toads at the AEI:

When you have been absolutely wrong about absolutely everything for six fucking years you have to STOP calling yourself a "Think Tank."

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 13, 2007 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

This is actually rather fun - I think I'll keep looking for chinks in the armor of the sniveling wunderkind Rubin...

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 13, 2007 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

ex-lib, you unAmerican coward, you never address anything thrown at you and just spew more disproven talking points all day long.

Are they paying you for this or are you a volunteer robot. Everything you say is garbage, you get no support for your shit, and you just dig your hole of shame deeper every day. Why? What kind of masochist are you, anyway?

Oh right, the kind that likes to see other people die for his lost causes.

Posted by: Kenji on May 13, 2007 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Michael Rubin - the craven coward from the Office of Strategic Planning. Michael Rubin of the Lincoln Group and the propaganda campaign.

That you consider him a credible source is telling indeed. I have to stop now. I have laughed so hard since I started my little oppo-research task, I swear a little pee came out.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 13, 2007 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl, do you agree that Yale did indeed turn Cole down after almost hiring him? They must have had a reason.

You don't need Michael Rubin to see the anti-semitism. You can figure it out for yourself.

The theory that a secret cabal of Jews controls the government has long been a staple of anti-semitism. E.g., the famous anti-semitic tract The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are widely considered to be the beginning of contemporary conspiracy theory literature, and take the form of an instruction manual to a new member of the "elders," describing how they will run the world through control of the media and finance. (source: Wikipedia)

Cole, as well as Walt and Mearshimer, are propounding a variation of this traditional anti-semitic theme

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 13, 2007 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: "chaunceyatrest, this is the first time I've seen Bernard Lewis classified as a "neocon". What facts do you have to back up your description?"

For information about those who see his theories about Orientalism as laying the groundwork for neoconservatism, see:

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2004/0411.hirsh.html

Or you can go by the company he keeps:

http://www.slate.com/id/2161800

(I'm not sure why I provide you the links, as we all know you don't bother with them.)

"P.S. Perhaps your view is that anyone who supported attacking Saddam is automatically a neocon. If that's your definition, then Hillary Clinton and John Kerry are neocons too."

I'm not interested in lifting a single finger to defend either Clinton or Kerry for their position on the war, but Lewis did more than simply support the invasion of Iraq. He provided the intellectual argument for invading a sovereign nation, and he hasn't moved from that position. He was a member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which has close ties with the Project for a New American Century & the American Enterprise Institute, both of which are bastions of neoconservatism.

Only the laziest of minds draws Lewis, Clinton, & Kerry with the same brush.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on May 13, 2007 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

I have no special insights into Yale's hiring practices. (They haven't hired me, either, so obviously Yale needs to work on their personnel acquisition process.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 13, 2007 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: "The theory that a secret cabal of Jews controls the government has long been a staple of anti-semitism. E.g., the famous anti-semitic tract The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are widely considered to be the beginning of contemporary conspiracy theory literature, and take the form of an instruction manual to a new member of the "elders," describing how they will run the world through control of the media and finance. (source: Wikipedia)"

Congratulations on learning how to navigate the inter-tubes. Now point to the paragraph where Cole claims that a secret cabal of Jews controls the government.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on May 13, 2007 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

FAUX-Lib,

Tis a shame you missed your calling - Born a little too late to have been a valuable tool for HUAC. "They must have had a reason; you can figure it out forself"

You are pissed because Juan Cole destroyed Mitt Romney's ridiculous charge of bigotry against Sharpton - Cole followed with the many statements by Romney, which shows bigotry for the Muslim religion and a tremendous lack of any understanding the the Middle East and the various groups therein. This review by Cole was only a couple of days back, so you can find it in the archives of his site, Informed Comment.

But, you are SOOOO concerned about bigotry and any anti-religious, in your view, remark - Your concern oozes along with slime from your pores.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on May 13, 2007 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

"I wonder whether this is progress:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070512/ts_nm/iraq_party_dc_1

"SCIRI" drops the word "revolution" from its name, and pledges alligience to Iraq and to Ali al Sistani."
Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 12, 2007 at 5:31 PM

From the link:
"SIIC's leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, is a powerful cleric who has good relations with the United States."

They are rebranding themselves so they can be assured a cut as controllers of the Southern oil wealth in Iraq. We evidently are pulling out all the stops to undermine the troublemaker Sadr. Sadr wants a united Iraq against US. We want a divided Iraq (if need be) that will export oil. The Shia control the oil in the South. The Kurds control the oil in the North. Perhaps we stop hassling the Sunni in the West and leave them be. Perhaps we've realized that it is far far cheaper just to corrupt them *just enough* to make sure the greediest in Iraq keep the pipelines open. At bottom we only want to see Iraq pumping 8 million barrels a day into the world economy not a shitty 2 million barrels per day. We previously thought that "democracy" and a new blue and white flag, etc., would be extras that would come with the package, but that was nonsense. We're just now starting to weight the cost/benefits of the whole thing-the naive neocon idealism is being thrown out the window entirely.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on May 13, 2007 at 1:08 AM | PERMALINK

Paul - I wasn't upset at Cole "destroying Mitt Romney", because I had no idea of what Cole had written. I do agree with Cole that Romney ought not to have put the phrase "this is about Sunni and Shia" within a list of Islamic terrorist organizations. I assume that he meant that antipathy between Shia and Sunni was a part of the problem, but including that phrase in a list of terrorist organizations could easily be misinterpreted, as Cole correctly pointed out.

But, Cole didn't do much to defend Sharpton. All he wrote was, "So it isn't clear that Sharpton intended to say that Mormons don't really believe in God." Cole's defense is that Sharpton may have made a bigoted statement, but it isn't absolutely clear that he did.

Well, I read the Sharpton quote in context and it was pretty clear to me that Sharpton meant what he said. Sharpton's likely purpose was also pretty clear. He's hoping to drive a wedge between Christian Conservatives and Mitt Romney.

Religious bigotry is the least of Sharpton's offences. His shameful attacks on the supposed rapist of Tawana Brawley, long after it was clear that she was faking, led to his losing a lawsuit for defamation.

Sharpton's racist rants at Freddies Fashion Mart inspired one of the protesters to enter the store with a gun and flammable liquid, shoot several Jewish customers and employees inside the store and burn it down. The protestor killed seven in the store, and himself.

Sharpton also promoted a racist position in the Duke Lacross rape accusation case, although he had plenty of company in that instance.

(from Wikipedia)

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 13, 2007 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

As Doc at the Radar Station says, the Kurds control the oil in the north and the Shia controls it in the south.

However, WHO controls and has controlled the missing 5 to 15 million dollars a day, based on $50 dollars a barrel, which has gone missing for the past four years?, or is that WHO, the World Halliburton Organization?

HuffPo has the NYTimes article.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on May 13, 2007 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

Here's what I want to know. You American guys are supposed to be so good at checks and balances. But where are they now? Everyone's standing around saying how sucky and stupid the White House branch had become, but your system seems totally devoid of any power to stop this long, slow descent through God-only-knows how many circles of Hell. Will it be Generals, Judges, the Masses? Who's going to stop this lunatic fringe in the executive branch from running the USA into irrelevance for the next 30-50 years?

Posted by: Concerned Foreigner on May 13, 2007 at 3:47 AM | PERMALINK

ex-lib is only good at one thing: deflecting criticism from himself. The fact is, he's a lying hypocrite who adds nothing to the discussion except confusion, at best. He's a coward who cheers the death of American soldiers in a lost cause. It's all okay, he says, because Americans get killed in NYC every day.

HUAC would have been the right place for him, because at long last, sir, he has so sense of decency.

Posted by: Kenji on May 13, 2007 at 4:58 AM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal," your disgusting, shameful andbogus charges of anti-semitism don't really deserve a response -- they're obviously the product of desperation of a bad faith commentator who adopts a faux-civil tone while spewing deliberate insults -- but: The theory that a secret cabal of Jews controls the government has long been a staple of anti-semitism

Maybe, but as always your analogy is false. There's nothing secret about the membership of neocon organizations like PNAC nor the neocon pundits and think tank nutcases who pushed for this war, nor is there any secret of their influence on this administration.
Even David Brooks admitted the connection when he termed criticism of "neocon" as synonymous for "jew". Like you, "ex-liberal," he attempted to forestall criticism of the neocons by rendering it off-limits as inherently anti semitic. That dog didn't hunt then, "ex-liberal", and it doesn't hunt now.

Posted by: Gregory on May 13, 2007 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

Of course, this was not reported in the American media, but a majority of Iraqi lawmakers want the U.S. out.

Since when does the U.S. occupy a country where the government does not want us?

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 13, 2007 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

er, Greg, I have to say you're a little bit off when you quote David Brooks's comment as justification for the neocon = Jew formulation. I'm a neocon, too, but have to admit I can't become a made man in the outfit because I'm a WASP. I'll admit we're all a bunch of Zionist wannabe's, but that's not what Brooks was saying, Brooks was disparaging the linkage and those [anti-Semites] that make it.

Posted by: minion on May 13, 2007 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

ConservativeDefecator

The Iraqi lawmakers were giving us their version of St. Augustine's prayer: get the infidels out, just not yet.

Posted by: minion on May 13, 2007 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

ex-lib, you may want to engage some even-handed analysis before you start slinging the cheap hash.

Posted by: Lucy on May 13, 2007 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

TCD - I am miles from the Mainstream Media, but my humble little blog reported the Iraqi lawmaker story back on the 10th.

(Good morning Lucy! Happy Mother's Day!)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 13, 2007 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Lucy, thanks for the cite.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 13, 2007 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Happy Mother's Day to you, too, BGRS!

ex-lib: You're welcome.

Posted by: Lucy on May 13, 2007 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: I'm still waiting for you to point to that paragraph where Cole claims that a secret cabal of Jews controls the government. How's that coming?

The problem with you, and with many of the knee-jerk reactionaries in AIPAC, is that you cheapen the very real issue of anti-Semitism by using the word in attempts to tar those with whom you disagree. Unless you can back up your suggestion that Cole is, in fact, anti-Semitic, you need to shut your pie hole.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on May 13, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

These phonies trot out charges of racism when it suits them, then ignore or abet it the other 360 days of the year.

Happy Mom's Day, BG.

Posted by: Kenji on May 13, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

ex-lib, you may want to engage some even-handed analysis

You aren't familiar with "ex-liberal", are you? "Even-handed analysis" isn't what "ex-liberal" is here for; it's to post neocon propaganda and Republican apologia, no matter how dishonest -- in face, the more dishonest the better.

Posted by: Gregory on May 13, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

minion wrote: I have to say you're a little bit off when you quote David Brooks's comment as justification for the neocon = Jew formulation

I'm not justifying it. It's bullshit, whether it's David Brooks dishonest attempt to preempt criticism of the neocons on grounds of anti-Semitism or "ex-liberal"'s. That said, my chief refutation of "ex-liberal" is that the neocons make no secret of their membership, their ambitions or their influence, so "ex-liberal"'s slimy innuendo is even more dishonest than Brooks', who didn't even have the chutzpah to state his point openly.

I'm a neocon, too

Shame on you, you toad.

Posted by: Gregory on May 13, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

And happy Mother's Day to you as well, BGRS.

Posted by: Gregory on May 13, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks guys! The good wishes are appreciated, and returned to your wives and mothers!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 13, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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