October 20th, 2006

Wars, civil and/or religious: Part III (nationalism and Iraq)

The Thirty Years War of 1618-1648 was the last major religious war in Europe, and it was a lulu.

I challenge anyone who’s not already a student of European history to wade through that Wikipedia article linked above–it’s dense with brain-fogging facts. The gist of the story seems to be that the war was a religious one (Catholic vs. Protestant) but, like most religious wars, it was also a jockeying for power and territory based on regional and other differences. The war could almost be said to have been a mini-World War, because it encompassed so much of Western Europe before it was over, and caused such widespread death and devastation.

The War was ended by the Peace of Westphalia, which was:

…instrumental in laying the foundations for what are even today considered the basic tenets of the sovereign nation-state. Aside from establishing fixed territorial boundaries for many of the countries involved in the ordeal (as well as for the newer ones created afterwards), the Peace of Westphalia changed the relationship of subjects to their rulers. In earlier times, people had tended to have overlapping political and religious loyalties. Now, it was agreed that the citizenry of a respective nation were subjected first and foremost to the laws and whims of their own respective government rather than to those of neighboring powers, be they religious or secular.

So what we have here is a long-term and devastating religious war that splintered Europe for a while but ultimately ended up building the foundations for modern nationalism, an allegiance that transcends religious and ethnic differences and unites the residents of a certain geographical area in a perception of relative unity. Of course, nations often have a predominant (or even state) religious identity, and often consist mainly of a particular ethnic group, but they are virtually always some sort of amalgam, and the most successful nations manage to transcend those internal divisions.

Nationalism, however–even in Europe–is a relatively recent phenomenon, solidifying mostly in the nineteenth century. Before that–in the immortal words of Massachusetts Congressman Tip O’Neill, who said it in a very different context–all politics was local.

How does nationalism relate to the current crisis in Iraq, and to the rest of the Arab world? One aspect of the current struggle is that a certain hefty percentage of the Iraqi population–although we don’t know how large a group this is–sees its allegiance as religious rather than national. Saddam exacerbated these divisions by favoring Sunnis and persecuting Shiites, and the early post-war atmosphere perpetuated this pattern, with Sunni-on-Shiite violence predominating. For a while, the calming words of the Shiite cleric Sistani stayed the hand of Shiite retribution, but that’s no longer the case, and we do see a cycle of violence and a struggle for power occurring.

This could be countered by nationalism, which is trying to dominate factionalism. That’s why the debate as to whether federalism could be a solution in Iraq is such an important one. Federalism is a tool to deal with the unification of a group made of disparate elements: e pluribus unum, after all.

How do nations get born? Some are lucky–they share a language and, more importantly, a sense of being a nation. Nationality doesn’t rest on any one characteristic, but is more of a perception: “Many students of nationalism are eventually led to the (almost tautological) conclusion that people belong to a certain nation if they feel that they belong to it.”

Nationalism a uniting force that can be countered by two opposing principles: a fracturing one and a pan-uniting one. The first is the fracturing force of regionalism, religious and ethnic and political differences; factors that can splinter an entity that might otherwise be poised to unify or that already was unified under a strongman or outside force (the breakup of Yugoslavia is a good example of the latter, likewise the USSR).

The second principle countering nationalism, the pan-uniting one, exists through allegiances that transcend even that of the nation, and dictate loyalty to a more international group.

Thus, one of the linchpins of anti-Semitism has always been a perception of Jews as an extra-national force of global reach (and evil designs, of course). Another example is one I remember from my youth, when some people objected to the Presidential aspirations of the Catholic JFK because they didn’t “want the Pope running the US.”

Pan-Arabism, or even unification of the entire umma, has always been a dream for some in the Arab and/or Muslim world. Even Saddam was originally a pan-Arabist, and although he retreated from that overt stance quite early on, he apparently never quite gave up his aspirations to be the dominant power in the Arab world. And of course Iran, likewise, wishes to establish a new pan-Islamic Caliphate under Shiite rather than Sunni rule.

So, paradoxically, some of the conflict in Iraq is of the divisive (or local) variety: various home-grown groups jockeying for position, power, and revenge, while some of it is fueled by the unifying, pan-Muslim vision, which relies on foreign powers such as Iran to stir the pot, feeds into the local groups, and is likewise broken down along Sunni-Shia lines. The countering force to both would be nationalism, federal or otherwise, of a type that respects differences and allows each faction its say and its rights.

The war in Iraq was supposed to help usher in such an era. Some never thought it would be easy (I count myself among them). Some, no doubt, underestimated the difficulties that lay ahead. As I’ve written before, dictatorships offer one solution to the dilemma–they can impose nationalism with a strong and tyrannical will, and the ruthless power to back it up, but at great human cost. The other way–the way that’s being tried in Iraq–can lead to chaos and civil war, which has other costs.

The United States is somewhat unique–and definitely fortunate–in being a nation whose greatest unifying force (other than geography) is a shared set of ideals and principles, and with a Constitution that aims to establish and protect (relatively successfully, so far, despite the “Bushhitler” proclamations) the rights granted therein.

Our postwar occupations of West Germany and Japan managed, somehow, to counter the forces of anarchy there and allow stable nations to re-establish themselves. The key word might be “re-establish;” both countries had a strong sense of nationality prior to the war (in each case, probably too strong, a fact which helped lead to their aggressiveness in World War II). Both nations had also experienced the devastion of a prolonged world war and utter defeat.

Current opinion is divided on how strong Iraq’s sense of nationhood is: whether it was artificially imposed by the somewhat arbitrary division of the Ottoman Empire post-World War I, and then artificially continued by Saddam’s dictatorship–or whether is draws on a strong sense of togetherness based on an ancient and proud history. In dispute, as well, is whether Western notions of human rights can be grafted onto it.

One thing is for certain: there are many strong forces trying to dictate otherwise, who are not interested in a unified Iraq with a strong constitution that guarantees the human rights of all its inhabitants.

59 Responses to “Wars, civil and/or religious: Part III (nationalism and Iraq)”

  1. Sergey Says:

    Real ascend of nationalism in Europe began only in 19 century – first in France, ushered by Napoleon, and later in the rest of Europe and also in Russia, as a reaction to Napoleonic wars. It was sudden and unexpected, even for Napoleon, who never included it in his strategic calculations; this was factor that ultimately ruined him. And all Russian writers of this period also were surprised by strength and sincerity of this completely new phenomenon – including Lev Tolstoy.

  2. Sergey Says:

    The most prominent recently arising nationalism is Kurdish. They constitute up to 30% population of Turkey, but millions of them live in Iran, Azerbajan, Syria and Iraq. There is also large diaspora in Georgia, Armenia, Lebanon and Israel; in all Muslim countries they are oppressed and often persecuted minority. If some western power had a desire to completely destabilize the whole Middle East, this is ideal group to work with – they are belligerent, strong and enduring, highly motivated and possess culture that endured severe repressions amounted to genocid from Arabs, Turks and Persians for centures. The mountainous ground they inhabit is ideal for geurilla warfare.

  3. Red Says:

    So, where does the “ummah” fit in?

    Definition of Ummah:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ummah

  4. Estrella Says:

    In unrelated news, Neo, is that a new picture of yourself you put up? You look hot! :)

  5. maryatexitzero Says:

    Our postwar occupations of West Germany and Japan managed, somehow, to counter the forces of anarchy there and allow stable nations to re-establish themselves. The key word might be “re-establish;” both countries had a strong sense of nationality prior to the war (in each case, probably too strong, a fact which helped lead to their aggressiveness in World War II). Both nations had also experienced the devastion of a prolonged world war and utter defeat.

    The key point is the “utter defeat”. We didn’t try to establish democracy when fascist groups were gaining power. We defeated, or basically dismembered the entire fascist infrastructure before attempting to install democracy. That’s why the Marshall plan worked.

    Unlike the Nazis, Islamist Fascism (or Islamism, or whatever) uses terrorism in combination with diplomacy to gain power because they have no real military power to speak of.

    They’re not using Nazi military tactics to rise to power in the Middle East, but they do share similar goals – oppression; the ascendancy of a supremacist group (Arab/Muslims); ethnic cleansing or enslavement of groups labelled ‘inferior’ (African blacks, Copts, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists).

    That’s the bad news. The good news is that the Islamists are incredibly weak – they have no military force to speak of, and, if we chose to utterly defeat them, it wouldn’t take much of an effort. They’re not worth nukes, their combined millitary strength is about equivalent to Panama’s.

    The reasons why we are losing a war against the most pathetic enemy we’ve ever fought are in the news every day: CNN recieves an Islamist recruiting tape showing the deaths of American soliders, so they immediately make it their top story. Our media and our government are intimidated by an Islamist propaganda machine, CAIR, that has had more criminals within their membership than the Gotti family. The murder of one nun somewhere in Africa, threats against a few cartoonists and writers and they successfully intimidate billions of people.

    If the Saudi ambassador decided to shoot president Bush dead on TV on Christmas day, the first thing the State Department and nearly every nation in the world would be thinking is “how will this affect our oil supply? We’d better work harder on our friendship with the Sauds.”

    If we’re having problems with this enemy, it’s because we’re even more pathetic than they are. They hit us and for the most part we never hit back. The solution isn’t democracy, nationalism, interreligious dialogue or learning more about honor/shame societies. The solution is to unite, respect our laws and to use them to hit our enemies back, immediately, as hard as we can, every single time they strike.

    Of course, the uniting thing is the hard part..

  6. Gracchi Says:

    I agree with you basically though the historical picture is not quite right. The issue with the Umma though must be religious rather than nationalist. I’ve read stuff though especially by Fred Halliday about the way that the Shia are divided between Iran and Iraq by being Persian or Arab.

  7. pete Says:

    “The good news is that the Islamists are incredibly weak – they have no military force to speak of, and, if we chose to utterly defeat them, it wouldn’t take much of an effort.”

    You are now joining the rapidly growing segment of republicans that understand that the islamobogeyman is nothing but a hyped-up threat used for BushCo political purposes.

    “The reasons why we are losing a war against the most pathetic enemy we’ve ever fought are in the news every day: CNN recieves an Islamist recruiting tape showing the deaths of American soliders, so they immediately make it their top story.”

    We are not losing the fight! There is very little fight to win.

  8. maryatexitzero Says:

    You are now joining the rapidly growing segment of republicans that understand that the islamobogeyman is nothing but a hyped-up threat used for BushCo political purposes.

    In fact, there is hardly any difference between the Dems and the Republicans as far as our foriegn policy is concerned. Both are willing to appease our Islamist “allies” in order to keep the oil flowing, both seek stability in the area while flying into a panic at the mere whisper of the word ‘nuke’.

    Both parties have a history of tolerating and appeasing terrorism and both see the opposing party as an ‘enemy’ which keeps us from unifying to fight our real enemies.

    There is a fight going on and the reason we’re not doing so well is our lack of unity. Neither party offers much of a solution.

  9. pete Says:

    “There is a fight going on and the reason we’re not doing so well is our lack of unity. Neither party offers much of a solution.”

    You still don’t quite get it. You say there is a “fight going on”. The threat is miniscule. Simple police work will suffice to protect us.

    More than 14,000 Americans die every year do to slip-and- falls. Compared to even that miniscule threat the islamobogey threat is small. A nice pair of bathroom slippers for $39.95 would give me far more protection than the 1/2 trillion dollars BushCo has spent on Iraq and the bogus War on Terror.

  10. beatrix Says:

    Details, please, pete, on the “simple” police work. Whose police? Who will be in charge of them? Who will pay for them? Armed or not? If armed, how will the arms be used? If not armed, what is to be their strategy?

  11. Sally Says:

    More than 14,000 Americans die every year do to slip-and- falls.

    So that’s what all that cutting and pasting is about, huh Pete? You were trying to say that the whole Iraq thing pales in comparison to bathtub accidents.

  12. George Says:

    If this trying to draw a comparison between the Christian schism and the Muslim one, there’s none. The battle of the sects (no pun intended) raged for hundreds of years. Maybe it still rages

  13. maryatexitzero Says:

    Simple police work will suffice to protect us.

    I would have believed you on 9/10/2001. Now, that just sounds stupid.

    More than 10,000 people have died as a result of Islamist terrorism in India and Pakistan. Thousands have died in Thailand as a result of the Islamist insurgency there. That insurgency may have had something to do with the recent coup. Millions of people have died in the Sudan as a result of the civil war that was prompted by an Islamist attempt to install sharia there. I don’t think the Hindus, the Buddhists in Thailand or the civilians in Dafur would appreciate your slipper analogy.

    I said that they were the weakest enemy we’ve ever fought, I didn’t say that they were a fantasy. The idea is, an America that was tough enough to stand up to the Nazis and the Soviets should not be afraid to publish a few Danish cartoons. We shouldn’t be afraid to stomp all over the dictators who support terrorism.

    A nice pair of bathroom slippers for $39.95 would give me far more protection than the 1/2 trillion dollars BushCo has spent on Iraq and the bogus War on Terror.

    The war in Iraq was meant to keep Saddam from being a threat to his neighbors, and to maintain stability in the Middle East. While that may seem to be an unimportant goal to you, it is necessary. Since the area is so inherently unstable, it’s not clear that there was anything we could do to keep Iraq, Lebanon and other areas from falling into civil war.

  14. pete Says:

    “Details, please, pete, on the “simple” police work. Whose police? Who will be in charge of them? Who will pay for them? Armed or not? If armed, how will the arms be used? If not armed, what is to be their strategy?”

    What on earth are you referring to?

    If you are talking about the US then
    the very same law enforcement departments we have had in place in this country for over 50 years would suffice and have been doing the job.
    DHS is another incompetent BushCo joke.

    If you happen to be talking about Iraq then forget it. It was a lost war as soon as BushCo started it.

  15. pete Says:

    “So that’s what all that cutting and pasting is about, huh Pete? You were trying to say that the whole Iraq thing pales in comparison to bathtub accidents.”

    If that’s how you read it then you are one of the ignorant masses that still conflates the Invasion of Iraq with the ridiculous War on Terror.

  16. pete Says:

    “I would have believed you on 9/10/2001. Now, that just sounds stupid.”

    That’s because all you know is America’s pain. That sort of catastrophe happens all over the world with great frequency but at soon as at happens here folks like your self grotesquely overreact. It was the decision of our country, do you understand that, our country to launch a preemptive war that preempted nothing.

    “The war in Iraq was meant to keep Saddam from being a threat to his neighbors, and to maintain stability in the Middle East.”

    Saddam had been contained for over a decade. His neighbors saw no threat.
    We uncorked a torrent of violence in Iraq and now its neighbors are worried. How old are you? Fifteen? Go peddle your juvenile analysis to one of your skinhead buddies.

  17. pete Says:

    You neocon supporters appear to be desparately looking for a new reason to justify the harm you have done. First it was WMD and Iraqi ties to 9/11. Then it was liberating Iraqis. Now your a trying to sell the “oh we’re just trying to make the region stable” nonsense. Put aside the fact that all these motivations were just a pack of transparent lies and focus on what sticks out like a 10 cm boil on the end of your noses. YOU HAVE FAILED MISERABLY AT ACHIEVING ANY OF THE STATED OBJECTIVES. All of the neocon attempts to achieve these objectives have in fact backfired and are now eliciting or exacerbating the very problems you cynically claim to care about.

  18. maryatexitzero Says:

    That’s because all you know is America’s pain. That sort of catastrophe happens all over the world with great frequency but at soon as at happens here folks like your self grotesquely overreact.

    I spent a lot of time in Ireland and Britain during the ‘troubles’. I know something about the effects of terrorism. 9/11 wasn’t a ‘catastrophe’, it was an act of war, paid for and supported by Iran and by our allies in Saudi Arabia.

    America was attacked, catastrophically, because we are the dominant military force in the Western world. We are the dominant military force in the world. Most likely, al Qaeda reasoned that if they could successfully weaken the US, most of Europe would be fairly defenseless.

    Saddam had been contained for over a decade. His neighbors saw no threat.

    According to Dick Cheney, we went to war following Jimmy Carter’s doctrine, which stated that all threats to the stability of the Persian Gulf region should be met with US military force:

    in August, 2002, seven months before the war started, Cheney warned that Saddam would be able to seize control of the world’s economic lifeline if he acquired weapons of mass destruction: “Armed with an arsenal of these weapons of terror, and seated atop ten per cent of the world’s oil reserves, Saddam Hussein could then be expected to seek domination of the entire Middle East, take control of a great portion of the world’s energy supplies, directly threaten America’s friends throughout the region, and subject the United States or any other nation to nuclear blackmail.”

    The last time I checked, Cheney was a little older than 15.

  19. libby Says:

    Yes, I’m a 70s liberal too. But unlike you, I didn’t leave the fold. I’ve seen how right wing America and now even Europe has or is becoming, and I’m getting turned off by it. Basically, my beliefs, however outdated they might seem, have stood still. In the 70s, I was called a moderate. But now, since the political spectrum has gone further and further to the right, I’m called by many, a leftist.

    I deplore tax cuts that put money into the pockets of the already filthy rich who don’t need it. I mourn the neglect of social programs that help the poor. I’m appalled by the homelessness on our streets, the unecessary disparity between rich and poor. I grew up believing what was just and fair. Now I see it all being taken away by the NeoCons and George W. Bush.

    Tax cuts? And at what price? To push up a deficit that we can’t pay nor our children can pay? So we’ll be indebted to Communist China? If that’s neoconservatism, then I’m turning away from that. I reject it. I say that we should resurrect the New Deal and give something back to the poor. America used to stand for something. And now that the NeoCons are taking it over–NeoCon president, congress, judiciary, corporatism, the military–they’re taking a wrecking ball to it.

  20. pete Says:

    “9/11 wasn’t a ‘catastrophe’, it was an act of war, paid for and supported by Iran and by our allies in Saudi Arabia.”

    Let’s see. You think 9/11 was paid for and supported by Iran and you think Cheney has credibility. You have been pegged.

    “Cheney warned that Saddam would be able to seize control of the world’s economic lifeline if he acquired weapons of mass destruction:”

    First of all you must know that quoting that incompetent baffoon would only make you look like a miscreant. But more importantly you fail to realize one all important fact. Saddam had no means to achieve the WMD objective and all evidence to the contrary was hyped or fabricated.

    Sooner or later you will have to face the reality of the neocon incompetence. The policy they generate is born of incompetence so it should be no small wonder that such policy would be implemented soo incompentently.

  21. pete Says:

    Mary writes

    “According to Dick Cheney, we went to war following Jimmy Carter’s doctrine, which stated that all threats to the stability of the Persian Gulf region should be met with US military force:”

    Here’s the actual Carter quote from the link Mary provided:

    “Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

    Notice that the quote does not say that “ALL threats to the stability of the Persian Gulf region should be met with US military force” but instead
    says “by any means necessary, including military force”.

    Given that you actually provided the link, and I would assume read the freaking article, that makes you a lying sack of crap.

  22. Sergey Says:

    WORLD GAS STATIONS STILL ARE ENDENGERED. You can swiftly and radically change balance of forces in this critically important region using Kurdish nationalism, create a mighty ally to police the whole Gulf countries from Black and Caspian seas to Indian ocean and, by the way, liberate an oppressed people badly needed it, 30 000 mln strong. If 6 mln Israel is enough to keep at bay Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestina, then US-backed Kurdistan can be even more powerfull counterweight to Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudis and everybody else there. You can secure oil import without risking American lives.

  23. pete Says:

    Sergey

    Thanks for the new hairbrained neocon scheme. Man how many times do you have to fall off the learning curve before you realize that thinking is not your strong suit.

  24. Sergey Says:

    Libbi, New Deal is dead. Even FDR was wise enough to understand that it was only temporary fix, not intended to last long. Tax cuts are not a problem of social justice: it is intended to provide enchancement of economic efficiency. This is the key problem, not budget deficit per se. Reagan has demonstrated that this approach is viable: it stimulates economical growth, reduces unemployment and lighten welfare burden. Even with growing deficit, inflation has not run out of control. US economy by any indicator is much healthier then any EU country. European model is not sustainable and will not last long. It will became bankrupt in two decades.

  25. pete Says:

    Poor Serg. With the neocon incompetence now exposed he wants to talk about the New Deal. Now that BushCo has weekened the US by demonstrating to the world the limits of its power he wants to talk about tax cuts. Now that 100s of thousands have died due to the empathetically challenged neocon at the cost of 100s of billions he wants to talk deficit.

    Stay away from the learning curve. As I stated early today slip-and-falls kill 14,000 Americans every year.

  26. Sergey Says:

    Pete, concept of “learning curve” has nothing to do with intellect and cognition. It means only monotone decrease of reaction time in repeated attempts reproduce some motive action, as in training in bicycle riding. I can only pity you if your concept of education has been reduced to conditional reflexes formation. It seems, that for majority of leftists this actually is the case. They do not learn to think; they learn only to react in prescribed way at prescribed irritants. At least, you do only this. Pete, concept of “learning curve” have nothing to do with intellect and cognition. It means only monotone decrease of reaction time in repeated attempts reproduce some motive action, as in training in bicycle riding. I can only pity you if your concept of education has been reduced to conditional reflexes formation. It seems, that for majority of leftists this is actually the case. They do not learn to think; they learn only to react in prescribed way to prescribed irritants. You, at least, do only this.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    In dispute, as well, is whether Western notions of human rights can be grafted onto it.

    Google’s new (still in BETA) Arabic-English translation service is the future. You Yanks will be talking directly with the citizens of the countries you’re invading. It cannot happen too soon.

  28. brad Says:

    Another useless thread where more than half the comments are posted by a witless troll.

  29. syn Says:

    Yeah Libby
    It really sucks to learn that Robert DeNiro can afford to purchase a $20 million UWS Central Park apartment and his girlfriend gives him a $400 thousand car to celebrate,

    or that gazzillionaire Al Gore travels around the world in his private jet hocking his idiotic climate change movie,

    or that Air America robbed $1 million+ from Gloria Wise Boys and Girls club to fund banrupkcy only to somehow find some idiot who will dumb millions more into the worthles radio station,

    or billionaire teresa kerry-heinz offering raison- dunked in volka to cure all human ills while she has her own private doctor and paid only 12% tax rate,

    or millionaire Nancy Pelosi’s direct line to intravenous botox at $600 a pop,

    or gatrillionaire George Soros who brought the entire Democrat Party via Moveon.org.

    Yeah, it really sucks for us average income earning, hard working bushies whose marginal tax rate dropped to the point where we were not forced carry the burden of Clinton’s utopian socialist dream of paying all those taxes that uber wealth Socialist never paid to begin with.

  30. syn Says:

    Yo Pete

    ‘Saddam no means to achieve WMD objective’

    Hmm well that not what I heard while living in Moscow, Russia in 1991 and the Russian mafia was selling ordnance and soviet state secrets (like how to effectively hide things you don’t want anyone to know about) to Saddam. Oh yeah, I seem to remember a Russian convoy caught early on in the war in 2003 driving towards the Syrian border.

    9/11/2001 taught me one important fact, which is, it is your insane belief that the rest of the world is just full of peace, love and understanding.

    You belief system is what will inevitablity lead to greater destruction.

  31. TmjUtah Says:

    “Stability”.

    Some people hold that up as “protect Bushitler’s oil buddy profits” and go no further.

    What stability really should apply to is how the world economy works.

    For better or worse, the barbarians live on top of most of the easiest to recover oil. Until we come up with something better, oil is the foundation of all trade, manufacturing, and travel for the entire world.

    Are the Islamists a credible military presence, as in the traditional conquer-occupy-subjugate kind of way? Of course not. You have to have an economy to fight a war to win.

    But to destroy, you just have to break things. Which is where we stand right now.

    The Islamists envision a world run on sharia law. The braintrust is based in countries evenly split between subsistence economies or sitting on top of oceans of oil and uses victimhood as a recruiting tool – “all your problems are because the infidels are infidel”.

    I propose the West’s biggest crime against the peoples of the muslim mideast has been our willingness to just write checks (for their named price for oil) to whatever thug was running things and ignoring the plight of the people living in those broken cultures.

    You wouldn’t shop for groceries at a store that sent their night crew to kill your family. And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.

    Freedom and free markets don’t happen by accident. Our own constitution is designed to protect us from the tyranny inherent even in a popularly elected government. Liberty, happiness, and life must all be defended. When an opponent declares his objective as the destruction of all we hold dear, and acts to achieve that end, parsing the multicultural nuances of the issue is a waste of time.

    We should instead sack up and go visit complete and utter destruction on them. It’s no more than they intend for us… with the difference that if we win they might grow into some sort of civilized neighbor.

    If they win, electric lights and flush toilets will become the stuff of myth.

    BTW, has anyone else deleted CNN/Headline news from their cable and bookmarks? I called up my foster daughter’s grandpa and asked him if MovieTone newsreels showed German and Japanese propaganda in movie theaters during WWII just to be sure I wasn’t being hasty.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’ve always thought that the Bush Doctrine of democratization was a daring and hopeful experiment. It was a pretty fair mix of Wilsonian hopes and Jacksonian realities.

    Too bad our Liberal/Progressives can’t see that shafting our war effort means we have to fall back on a war of annihalation.

    Actually, the smarter ones probably do know enough history to understand that. They just balanced ephemeral domestic political advantage against the lives of millions of brown people, and did what they always do.

    Too bad for the brown people; there aren’t any boats in Afghanistan last time I looked…

  32. armchair pessimist Says:

    Back to the 17th century, if I may.
    More or less simultaneous to the 30 years was the struggle of the Polish/Lithuanian Commonwealth, first against Cossack rebellions, then against its predatory European neigbbors, and, always, against the islamic armies operating out of what is the now Crimea.
    By 17th century standards, the Commonwealth was somewhat akin to the USA today, which gives me the creeps.
    Certainly not a democracy, but it was a prototypical republic in that kings were elected, and there was all the bickering and politiking that we know too well down in the Beltway. There was religious toleration too, unheard of at the time. And, by the standard of the times, in its prime it was a major military power.
    To make a sad story short, it bled itself white fighting enemy after enemy, and in the next century Russia, Prussia and Austria carved it up between them. The Commonweath didn’t do anything wrong besides existing. But history is the story of the jungle and always will be.
    With or without Bush, with or without St. Carter (or whatever idiot is in favor on the left), with or without Iraq, with or without 9/11, with a multi-liateral elightened foreign policy or without one at all, the USA would be the Alpha to be brought down.
    So, yes, this War is very real, despite what certain nitwits say; but there’s another behind it. And another. And another….
    It’s very depressing.

  33. Red Says:

    Wow, our troll is relentless. Thank goodness for Iranian blogs… Otherwise, I would’ve had to see a therapist to control my rage after reading pete’s comments in here or the most insane comments over at the Dailykos.

    Belive or not, it sounds like the incredibly politically savvy Iranian bloggers are more pro-American and more in touch with realities of the world than our neo-caliphite troll. I wish everyone could read Persian.

  34. maryatexitzero Says:

    Notice that the quote does not say that “ALL threats to the stability of the Persian Gulf region should be met with US military force” but instead
    says “by any means necessary, including military force”.

    The Carter doctrine has been the basis of our foreign policy for decades, although it has changed and morphed a bit, as these things tend to do. I assumed that you were famliar with the original text, but apparently you weren’t. Sorry.

    First of all you must know that quoting that incompetent baffoon would only make you look like a miscreant. But more importantly you fail to realize one all important fact. Saddam had no means to achieve the WMD objective and all evidence to the contrary was hyped or fabricated.

    Okay, now here you go completely off the rails. I’m quoting Cheney, not because I’m his biggest fan, but because he’s an important member of our government. He had a hand in shaping the war, and the quote above shows some aspect of the reasoning that led to the war.

    Quoting the people in power makes one a miscreant?? Obviously CNN, the BBC and Reuters are all miscreant Cheney supporters because they quote him all the time. It’s a BushCo. conspiracy! Quick, put on your tinfoil hat or the Bushhitler rays will get you.

  35. mary Says:

    You can swiftly and radically change balance of forces in this critically important region using Kurdish nationalism, create a mighty ally to police the whole Gulf countries from Black and Caspian seas to Indian ocean and, by the way, liberate an oppressed people badly needed it, 30 000 mln strong.

    That’s an interesting idea (although the Turks might not agree)

    Michael Totten has written some very good articles from Northern Iraq. Apparently the Kurds have built a thriving, relatively peaceful society. Like Israel, the Kurds are (one of our few) allies in the middle east.

    The Turks are kind of allies too. Still, there were lots of strange alliances during WWII…

  36. Holmes Says:

    It is people like Pete that keep me and other Republicans going to the polls- it makes it more clear what we’re up against and the cost of allowing people of his ilk to control the nation. That is, people who value our self-indulgent new dealism over a free and democratic world. (People of brown skin don’t deserve it anyway, do they Pete? )
    And people who are more afraid of our government than they are of a culture of suicide belt wearers.No, the Republicans have not been effective domestically in power, but they are less bad when it comes to the most important battle of our age.

  37. Red Says:

    MUST READ:

    Conclusion First, Debate Afterwards
    The stacked Baker-Hamilton Commission.
    by Michael Rubin

  38. TmjUtah Says:

    Holmes -

    The Republicans don’t deserve to win.

    The Democrats are demonstrably incapable of effective foreign policy OR domestic social/economic policy.

    It’s a tough choice, but here in Utah Hatch has one more term (he’s a pretty good guy, just too long in Washington – and frankly, small states can forgive a lot for an effective senator). Cannon either uses all that “experience and seniority” or he won’t survive the next primary. We used to have a damn good man in Bill Orton (D)for our Rep (I voted for him once), and voters here still remember how the Clintons and the national DNC tossed him (and Utah’s entire delegation) over the side to pick up enviro votes in ’96 – remember the Grand Staircase? The only things we lacked in getting rid of Cannon this time was a better Rep candidate and a state party not chaired by his brother.

    I liken the deplorable conduct of the Reps to a dog that soils the carpet. That problem you can correct through training or getting another dog.

    The Dems… they are more prone to leave candles burning in the fireworks factory. We can’t take that chance.

  39. Ymarsakar Says:

    I like Sergey’s scenario, since it reinforces the “Special Forces” mentality that I prefer over army occupation or reconstruction methods.

    America needs shock troops, mercenaries, loyal auxiliaries to do what we won’t or can’t do. Even Rome had to have auxiliaries. Rome did not produce good cavalrymen, so they picked up a lot of guys from the steppes.

    America needs ruthless and disciplined auxiliary forces that can take casualties and not whine or grind to a halt because of politics. The Kurdish forces need money, weapons, supplies, and political support. We got everything they need, and they got everything we need. Mutually beneficial deal, from which all true alliances spring.

  40. Red Says:

    Stand and Fight, or Cut and Run: You Decide
    Monday, 16 October 2006
    By Amil Imani

    Mid-term elections are just around the corner. Polls show that many Americans are unhappy with the Republicans and are likely to vote for Democrats. Fine and dandy. This is America where the voter is king. And when one is king, he needs to be a wise king.

    The foremost topic on the mind of the voter is the Iraq mess. Republicans, particularly the person of George W. Bush, are blamed for making the mess and not being able to clean it. So, the Democrats may be the answer, some think.

    The Democrats can indeed be the answer. Unfortunately, their answer most likely will be disastrous. Faced with a ruthless enemy bent on your destruction, you either stand and fight or cut and run hoping that the enemy will not pursue you to your grave.

    Once again it is decision time. We do well to recognize that short-sighted people with short memories are prone to make terrible choices, even when they have the best of intentions.

    So, we want to refresh the voters’ memory to help them in making wise decisions. The vote you cast will not simply replace one politician with another. At this point in time, every vote has great existential implications. Whether we like it or not, we are truly in a war of survival with Islamofascism.

    You cannot negotiate co-existence—live and let live—with Islamofascists any more than the Clinton administration succeeded with its compact with North Korea. Before the ink dried on the Clinton-North Korea agreement, the North Koreans embarked on cheating. Now, we are faced with a suicidal-genocidal adversary with nuclear weapons headed by a megalomaniac playboy.

    The present mess in Iraq is plenty bad. Perhaps mistakes were made. Perhaps we should not have invaded the country. Perhaps we should have kept up the terribly costly over-flights over Saddam to keep him in his cage. Perhaps we should have taken our chances with the French and the Russians who were ruthlessly working to end Iraq’s embargo to enrich themselves from ill-begotten deals with Hitlerian Saddam. Perhaps we should have ignored all reports that Saddam had stockpiles of WMD. All this hindsight was not at hand, unfortunately, when the decision was made.

    Admittedly, Iraq is a mess. The Administration claims that there is progress, although much killing, mostly internecine, goes on. But, should we cut and run as many Democrats demand? The Democrats say that we should quickly bring our men and women home and let the Sunnis and Shiites and the rest of the Jihadists kill one another all they want. They further appeal to the pocketbook of the taxpayer by saying that the billions going down the Iraq sinkhole can be spent on the sorely needed domestic projects. Sounds good indeed, as if it were the only true and prudent thing to do.

    But the battle in Iraq is all about power.

    Islamofascists want power and the region is flush with it—oil. The factional fighting is about

  41. Red Says:

    Cont’d:
    But the battle in Iraq is all about power.

    Islamofascists want power and the region is flush with it—oil. The factional fighting is about who is going to get control of the oil spigot. He who controls the spigot shall dictate his terms to all the oil addicts of the world. That’s us. Then starts the real “negotiation” with the turbaned oil barons. Muslims’ preferred negotiation style is very straightforward. You give, they take. You give as much as they can extract now and you will be forced to give the rest of whatever they want down the road. What is it that you have to give? Whatever they demand. You want oil? You comply and meet their terms.

    Keep in mind that Islamofascists have a compact with Allah that allows them to make and break any commitment to anyone at any point. They share this “justifiable” deception belief with their atheistic kin, the Communists—the end justifies the means. It is indeed foolish for principled people to delude themselves into thinking that the Islamofascists honor the commitments they make. History is replete with instances where Muslims have sworn and sealed the Quran with a compact and have turned right around and violated their promise at terrible costs to their victims who took them for their word.

    What are some of the Islamofascists oil barons’ terms? Just a few for starters:

    * The United States of America completely pack and leave the Middle East.

    * All kafir oil addicts pay for their fix through the nose.

    * Islam to be granted all its God-given rights in kafir lands.

    * The entire package of sharia stone-age rules and laws supercede local rules and laws.

    * Mosques, Islamic centers and medressehs be granted privileged status and exempted from civil scrutiny and laws.

    * Women be relegated to their Islamic place—caged in the house, deprived of education, don the hijab, and live at the pleasure of men.

    * Taliban-type of Islamic purity becomes the standard.

    Now, is all the above just fear-mongering and Democrat-bashing at election time?

    You are free to see it that way. But, it is always more prudent to go with the facts than fiction. Do you think the Democratic fumble with North Korea under Clinton was an isolated instance? Well, what about Clinton occupying himself with handling other things instead of the Osama problem? Do you buy the story that he truly devastated Osama by firing a few missiles into the rocks of Afghanistan?

    What about that other Democratic genius, Jimmy Carter’s handling of the 1979 Revolution in Iran? The 1979 uprising of the Iranian people was hardly Islamic until Carter and his mis-advisors decided to support the mullahs, instead of going to the aid of the secular Iranians who yearned for a democratic society.

    So, here are George W. Bush and the Republicans trying to clean up the horrific mess the Democrats left behind. The savage mullahs of Iran are plenty evil without the bomb. With the bomb, the end is truly at hand. The mullahs h

  42. Red Says:

    cont’d:

    So, here are George W. Bush and the Republicans trying to clean up the horrific mess the Democrats left behind. The savage mullahs of Iran are plenty evil without the bomb. With the bomb, the end is truly at hand. The mullahs have no compunctions about killing tens of thousands of their own people. They have set up a “Special Court of the Clergy” to try and imprison any of their own clerics who dare to oppose their doomsday designs. They even arrest and torture the ordinarily untouchable ayatollahs for speaking up for the rule of law and tolerance.

    These are terribly trying times. Free people must decide their priorities with foresight and wisdom and shy away from shortsighted simplistic solutions. It is by far more prudent to face the implacable Islamofascists on the march now than to cut and run.

    There is no safe place to run.

    Our best hope for safety is to firmly resist Islamofascism in all its forms. We Iranian-Americans greatly cherish freedom, perhaps a bit more than others, because we have been first-hand witnesses to the horrors of Islamofascism. And we keep in mind that freedom is not free. Anyone or any party that promises otherwise is either a fool or a charlatan.

    http://www.amilimani.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=42&Itemid=2

  43. pete Says:

    Red

    You take a trivial threat to our safety and blow it up into some monumental threat. You then respond not to the real threat with measured response but to the imaginary threat with unlimited response. You are emotionally volitile.

    “There is no safe place to run.”

    There certainly isn’t … when your response is shaped by such grandiose delusion.

    You would like the world to think that some previous US government is responsible for the minimal islamobogeyman threat and now the authoritarian neocon has to step in to straighten things out. The problem is, as I have stated before, that the neocon has exacerbated the problem and made a minimal problem into a minor problem. They have done so at the cost of 100s of billions of dollars (trillions if it continues) and 100s of thousands of lives. Does that seem like an appropriate response to you?

    “First do harm” is a credo that falls on the deaf ears of the neocon because the delusional voices in their heads are drowning out all input from reality. They have come to “believe” that they can DO NO HARM.

  44. beatrix Says:

    Pete, I asked you for “Details, please, pete, on the “simple” police work. Whose police? Who will be in charge of them? Who will pay for them? Armed or not? If armed, how will the arms be used? If not armed, what is to be their strategy?”

    You answered: What on earth are you referring to?

    I was referring to this comment from you: Simple police work will suffice to protect us.

    What on earth were you referring to, that made it impossible for you to answer my questions?

  45. Sergey Says:

    “Tuesday, Oct. 17, the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group steamed into the Persian Gulf to join the US naval, air and marine concentration piling up opposite Iran’s shores. It consists of the amphibious transport dock USS Nashville, the guided-missile destroyers USS Cole and USS Bulkeley, the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea, the attack submarine USS Albuquerque, and the dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island.

    The Iwo Jima group is now cruising 60 km from Kuwait off Iran’s coast. As DEBKAfile and DEBKA-Net-Weekly reported exclusively two weeks ago, three US naval task forces will be in place opposite Iran in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea by October 21. The other two are the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group and the USS Enterprise Strike Group. ” What the hell is going there? May be, this is so long-expected October surprize?

  46. Red Says:

    Forbes warns of Iran conflict

    http://www.sbsun.com/business/ci_4519594

  47. harry Says:

    pete:
    “You would like the world to think that some previous US government is responsible for the minimal islamobogeyman threat and now the authoritarian neocon has to step in to straighten things out. The problem is, as I have stated before, that the neocon has exacerbated the problem and made a minimal problem into a minor problem.”

    ——12 killed and 25 wounded in separate blasts in Philippines _http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/10/10/news/phils.php

    —–Four Buddhists shot dead in unrest—http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/printpage/0,5942,20487781,00.html

    —-111 simultaneous bombs explode in Bangladesh —(wounding at least 40 people and triggering widespread panic.)

    —–Morocco nabs 56 in thwarted terror plot —–http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060901/ap_on_re_af/morocco_terrorism_2

    —–Malaysia demolishes century-old Hindu temple—http://www.outlookindia.com/pti_news.asp?gid=263&id=379485

    —-Muslims are waging civil war against us, claims police union—-http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/10/05/wmuslims05.xml

    —-Pinocchio and friends converted to Islam—http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/08/31/wpino31.xml

    —–Train bombing plot surprises Germany —http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060822/ap_on_re_eu/germany_terror_connections_1

    —–Journalist stoned for not wearing a head-scarf —http://www.turks.us/article.php?story=2006021221421729

    —–Local official beheaded in southern Thailand by suspected Muslim militants, say police

    —-Three Indonesian girls beheaded (BBC News, Jakarta )

    —–Poll reveals 40pc of Muslims want sharia law in UK—http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/02/19/nsharia19.xml&sSheet=/portal/2006/02/19/ixportaltop.html

    —–Canada plot suspect accused of plan to behead PM —http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=578&u=/nm/20060606/ts_nm/security_canada_dc_5

  48. Ymarsakar Says:

    May be, this is so long-expected October surprize?

    Here’s hoping it is an October Revolution in Iran.

  49. armchair pessimist Says:

    Re Imo Jima: How much firepower does this represent? Enough?

  50. Red Says:

    Harry: Thank you for responding to our resident troll. Although, I don’t think he would bother to read any of the links you’ve provided. I sometimes wonder whether he is actually a Person or a software program primed and activated at random intervals…LOL

    The left seems to have this built-in incapacity for not being ablt to think beyond their noses.

  51. Red Says:

    BTW, the author Amil Imani is a Zoroastrain (The real Iranian faith before the savage muslim armies conquered Iran) who knows all to well how Islamofacism operates. His ancestors and mine and the Zoroastrian religion was almost wiped out and our people ethnically cleansed when the Arabo/Islamic armies invaded and occupied Iran and forced everyone to convert to Islam or be killed. Burning of cities to the ground to culturally cleanse any sign of Zoroastrian identity was common practice. This eventually led to thousands of refugees who escaped to India (The Parsi’s (Persian) mass Exodus to India). I recommend “The History of Persia by Sir Percy Sykes” to understand what barbaric cruelty the people of Zoroastrian faith, namely Persians, have had to endure under Islamic rule.

    The second occupation of Iran by arbo/muslims was in 1979. At least that’s the way I see it.

  52. Sergey Says:

    Returning to the theme of Kurdish nationalism and its importance to future of Iraq, I want remember old (year ago) Neo’s post with this quote:

    According to Rubin’s article, written before the Iraq war that deposed Saddam, many Kurds were already expressing approval of Israel and studying the country as a model for their own autonomy and liberation. Victims of persecution and genocide themselves, they could identify. What’s more, they despised the Palestinians for their support of Saddam. The older generation of Kurds remembered the absent Iraqi Kurdish Jews fondly, and even the younger generation were able to listen to Israeli radio, watch Israeli TV, and access Israeli websites, unlike the inhabitants of the rest of Iraq.

  53. harry Says:

    Thanks Red. I thought is was time to give ol’ petey a dose of his own medication. Whether or not he takes it is up to him.

  54. Tatterdemalian Says:

    “Unlike the Nazis, Islamist Fascism (or Islamism, or whatever) uses terrorism in combination with diplomacy to gain power because they have no real military power to speak of.”

    Actually, the Nazis started out exactly that way… a band of unruly terrorist brownshirts, not even a decent weapon to their named, who discovered the value of diplomacy and made war on all of Europe with an army they built right under the noses of the peacenicks.

  55. Tatterdemalian Says:

    “Unlike the Nazis, Islamist Fascism (or Islamism, or whatever) uses terrorism in combination with diplomacy to gain power because they have no real military power to speak of.”

    Actually, the Nazis started out exactly that way… a band of unruly terrorist brownshirts, not even a decent weapon to their named, who discovered the value of diplomacy and made war on all of Europe with an army they built right under the noses of the peacenicks.

  56. pete Says:

    Harry and Red

    When I posted news articles in the past showing the growing violence in Iraq it was to point out the increasing costs of a response out of proportion to a threat. The war in Iraq according to our National Intelligence Estimate has made the small Islamobogey threat into a slightly bigger one which is just what your post above supports. Thank you.

    Don’t hurt yourself climbing the learning curve.

  57. Sergey Says:

    If somebody is still more interested in topic of Iraq and nationalism than in futile polemics with trolls, read this:

    Kurdistan – The Quest for Statehood

    By: Nimrod Raphaeli
    MEMRI
    October 25, 2006 – No. 298
    http://memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=IA29806

  58. Ymarsakar Says:

    If all we get from OIF, is our Kurdish allies, the sacrifice in blood and treasure would have been worth it.xfgg

  59. Natalia Vodianova Says:

    Hi there…I Googled for learning language russian, but found your page about Wars, civil and/or religious: Part III (nationalism and Iraq)…and have to say thanks. nice read.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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