February 16th, 2008

Whatever happened to those benchmarks?

The Iraqi Parliament has passed some new and potentially significant laws.

This particular event should have been the lead article on the front page of every newspaper. It should have been the big subject of all the talk shows. It ought to have been acknowledged by every critic of the surge—you know, the ones who initially said the surge wouldn’t work before it even began. The ones who then said Petraeus was lying about the drop in casualties. The ones who then said that it didn’t mean anything anyway because after all, the Iraqi legislature hadn’t met the proper benchmarks that would indicate political progress and reconciliation.

However, here’s how it played on the network news programs. Only ABC’s Charles Gibson saw fit to cover it, repeating an ABC pattern of being more favorable to favorable news from Iraq. And even Gibson alloted it only twenty seconds (although they were positive seconds), the sort of skim-the-surface coverage for which network TV news is notorious:

Overseas, in Iraq, a breakthrough for the country’s government that has been so often criticized. Iraq’s parliament approved three contentious, but crucial, new laws long sought by Washington. The laws set a budget for 2008, grant amnesty to thousands of detainees and define the relationship between the central government and the provinces.

Much better, though, than rivals NBC and CBS. For them, no mention of the Iraqi developments, but:

The CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News on Wednesday night both found time to report on how Secretary of Defense Robert Gates broke his arm in a fall on ice and how, for the first time, a Beagle (named “Uno”) won “Best in Show” at the Westminster Dog Show.

I’m full of compassion for Gates, and I’m fond enough of beagles, but really.

Print journalists did better. Even the AP said this represents one of those much-ballyhooed benchmarks:

The new law…is one of the most sweeping reforms pushed by the Bush administration and signals that Iraq’s politicians finally, if grudgingly, may be ready for small steps toward reconciliation.

Passage of benchmark reforms on healing the country’s sectarian and ethnic rifts — along with a reduction in violence — were the primary goals of the 30,000-strong U.S. troop increase that President Bush ordered early last year.

Violence has dropped significantly, but political progress languished until the logjam broke Wednesday by the narrowest of margins. Before the vote, the only significant measure to emerge from parliament had been a law that allows reinstatement to government jobs of some low-level members of Saddam Hussein’s former Baath party.

The outcome of the October elections is likely to reshape Iraq’s political map.

No, of course it doesn’t mean we’re home free in that country. That would be an absurd assertion to make. But it does mean events are continuing in a very positive direction there. As Richard Fernandez points out:

The more reason to inform the American public of the logic behind electoral reform and why it is so vital. Iraqi and American lives have taken the country back from the brink of civil war and on the approaches to normalcy. But the last steps are the most important. This is where it all pays off.

But all the more reason to be coy or underwhelmed about what’s happening there, because it presents such an embarrassing dilemma to those who said it couldn’t be done. And those are legion, including the vast majority of Democrats, most of our MSM, and certainly the present Democratic candidates.

To its credit, the New York Times covered the story. But how it did so is also very instructive (I don’t know what the story’s placement was, since I’m only reading online and don’t have a hard copy of the paper).

First we have a headline unlikely to garner interest in reading further. Vague and generalized, it fails to describe what’s happening or why it might be important or how it ties into the surge and the benchmarks: “Ending impasse, Iraqi Parliament passes measures.”

Yawn. Still with us? Thought not.

And note the leading phrase of the headline, focusing not on the positive but on the negative, the previous stalling. The article continues in that vein:

Iraq’s parliamentary leaders on Wednesday pushed through three far-reaching measures that had been delayed for weeks by bitter political maneuvering that became so acrimonious that some lawmakers threatened to try to dissolve the legislative body.

The next paragraph is indeed positive. It mentions that the legislation has the potential to spur reconciliation and lead to representative government. But it fails to tie this into the surge and those all-important benchmarks that we’ve heard so much about—when they were unmet, that is.

The article continues to emphasize the contention around passage of the bills, and emphasizes the fairly obvious fact that Iraq is not out of the woods and that these laws may not accomplish their goals. And it’s only in the seventh paragraph that there’s any tie-in to benchmarks—and even then, for some reason, they are referred to as “so-called” benchmarks.

What about Hillary and Obama? Have they chimed in on any of this? I’ve searched and searched and found nothing.

To be fair, I haven’t found anything from McCain, either, so perhaps it’s Google (or my search techniques) that’s at fault. If any of you can find their pronouncements (or those of Reid or Pelosi, for that matter) on the subject, I’d be most interested in reading them.

But I won’t sit on a hot stove till I do.

158 Responses to “Whatever happened to those benchmarks?”

  1. Americaneocon Says:

    Nice post…

    Good news is no news, at least with the media these days.

  2. one potential take on this issue Says:

    “The Iraqi Parliament’s passage of the budget, amnesty, and provincial laws after much political theater is potentially a rare bit of good news. But as with the deBaathification reform (which looked so promising on first blush and then not so much when the details emerged), it all depends on the details of the laws, the implementation, and the reception. Thus far, the reporting in the Western, Arab and Iraqi press has been very light on the details, mostly repeating what Parliament spokesman Khaled al-Attiya said in his press conference. Given the centrality of the details, it isn’t encouraging to hear that “the parliamentary success was clouded because many of the most contentious details were simply postponed, raising the possibility that the accord could again break into rancorous factional disputes in future debates on the same issues.” [quote fixed – thanks, Eric] I’m relieved that the speaker didn’t have to exercise his threatened nuclear option – dissolving the Parliament – and that these three crucial laws have finally been passed after so many months of wrangling. That’s good news on its merits. But I’m also reserving judgement on the implications of the laws until we see the details and the fallout.

    I’ve only been able to get hold of the text of one of the laws so far – the amnesty law. As with the deBaathification reform, it’s hard to tell how extensive the amnesty will turn out to be from the text of the law. Gven the long list of exceptions detailed in article 2, it all comes down to interpretation and implementation. If applied generously and in a spirit of reconciliation, it could be quite extensive and build considerable goodwill (even if it also puts a sizable number of insurgency-age young men, fresh from prison, back onto the streets). If applied rigorously and in a sectarian spirit, a lot of the prisoners who the Sunnis hope to see released might not get out and backlash would set in very quickly. So as with all these laws, wait and see.

    The most interesting part of the amnesty law is actually Article 6: “The Iraqi Government shall undertake the necessary measures to transfer those detained in the MNF-I jails to the Iraqi jails in order to implement the provisions of this Law on them.” What this means in practice will be worth following. Last week I noted that the potential complications posed by this provision: will the US honor an Iraqi request for prisoners held in US facilities to be transferred and amnestied, given its own military interests, and if not how would the Iraqi government respond?”

    http://abuaardvark.typepad.com/abuaardvark/2008/02/cause-without-l.html

  3. CK MacLeod Says:

    Saw McCain commenting on this item the day it was news, and referring to it since, and in the way you would expect – as further confirmation that the surge is working, my friends.

  4. another potential take on this issue Says:

    “Al-Hayat reports in Arabic on the passage by the Iraqi parliament of three important laws. These included the annual budget, a general amnesty that will free thousands of mostly Sunni Arab prisoners in the teeming Iraqi security prisons, and finally a “law on the provinces.” The action came in the wake of threats by powerful politicians to dissolve parliament if it could not do a simple thing like pass a budget.

    Al-Zaman (The Times of Baghdad) reports in Arabic that there was not actually a vote, but rather the laws were passed as a package by consensus. The consensus reflected a political deal among the major parties rather than a recorded vote of a majority of the MPs. Al-Zaman calls the method of the vote “unconstitutional.” (They are protesting the lack of a recorded individual voice vote; it may be they also object to the bundling of the three separate laws together, which made MPs vote up and down, yes or no). Many MPs had interests in some of the laws but opposed a third, and therefore had to choose between betraying their interests or accepting legislation they really opposed. Al-Zaman quotes MP Salih Mutlak (a secular, ex-Baathist Sunni who is in the opposition) and MPs of the Sadr Movement as expressing fierce opposition to the law regarding amnesty for prisoners because it allowed for a delay in their release of six months.

    This undemocratic and unconstitutional way of passing through legislation that the Americans insist be approved, in the teeth of opposition from a majority of MPs, was ironically employed in passing the constitution itself. Some version of it was passed without an individual voice vote in late August of 2005 (after the deadline set by the Transitional Administrative Law) and then the US embassy went on tinkering with the text right up until the October 15 referendum! It is ironic that when the Americans make their influence felt most strongly in the Iraqi government, that government acts least democratically.”

    http://www.juancole.com/2008/02/provincial-elections-set-amnesty.html

  5. salvage Says:

    New and potentially significant laws?!!?

    Wow.

    Dear Leader Bush is once again shown to be wise and benevolent! Rehang the mission accomplished banner! Star up the parades and get the flower tossers!

    And you know what? I bet next year you’ll be saying the exact same things about Iraq and how it’s oh so darn good progress but the Bush hating MSM won’t tell anyone because they hate freedom and love terrorists.

    Stupid reporters, thinking that people places and things being blown up in Iraq everyday is bad. Everyone knows that if the reporters stopped reporting on the attacks the terrorists would stop.

    It’s a miserable failure Sparky but it’s cool that you don’t let that get in the way of your delusions or your endless vendetta against the messengers of that fact.

    [note from neo-neocon: Why, “salvage”—welcome back, old troll “stevie” (along with all your other alter-egos/sockpuppets that begin with the letter “s”). You reveal your identity in so many ways, including your inimitable style. Hope it’s not too cold this winter up in Toronto.]

  6. Terrye Says:

    Keep your fingers crossed.

  7. Steven M Says:

    salvage, I once dated someone with your same penchant for focusing on past misery, sarcasm, and inability to call something that’s good, good. That lasted one week.

  8. nyomythus Says:

    Following through with our promise of regime change is a point of pride, should have been done sooner, it is also encouraging to see that we are making progress to restore and heal Iraq, imagine what would have happened if we had stood by as Iraq imploded, the atomization and bloodbath of local sectarianism — and the onslaught of her neighbors and their proxies, a catastrophe averted, but who would have been criticized for letting it happen, who would have, at such an unimaginably late hour, been given the mandate to send in humanitarian relief and security? Unlike some of our resent history where we helped dictators overthrow popularly elected governments it is alleviating that we have seized the critical moment for Mesopotamia and for ourselves. Is there a word for such a hyper chaos of sectarian gangsterism that would have ensued – my guess is that it would have been something equal to or more horrific than a holocaust? In this late scenario would a mandate have gone to France, Germany, Russia or China? Hillary and Obama can appeal to the anti-war wing of their party because they are immune to critical thinking and suffer from selective thinking – as long as there’s cable TV who gives a shit? If either Hillary or Obama get into office they will have to face the reality of turning the level one way or the other, as in making hard decisions … it may be interesting to see how the adoring followers turn on the great new leader, will there be acknowledgement of the wisdom of seizing the moment to take out despots, or the will there be heresy hunts and campaigns to punish the impostors and non-believers; there is a religious Left in this county who seek to fulfill this role; be warned. I’m still holding out for McCain. The benchmark I’m looking for is the one where the Iraqi people are profiting from their oil resources and thus breaking that long held Saudi monopoly.

  9. Glenn Kenny Says:

    So we should stay in Iraq because people who don’t want to are not likely to be able to sustain a relationship with Steven M.

    This is why blogs are so significant, important.

  10. gcotharn Says:

    Nicely put together blogpost.

    Do independent voters care about Dem bad judgment and Dem cravenness regarding Iraq? Sometimes it’s easier to get away with the big lie, and the big mistake in judgment, as opposed to the moderated lie or the moderated mistake in judgment.

    If McCain is to make Hillary and Barack pay, then McCain must continue to explain and explicate why a successful Iraq democracy is important to America, and why a failed Iraq is a disaster for our children. With Barack and Hillary trying to hang “stay 100 years” around McCain’s neck, McCain’s hopes may pivot on his ability to make the case for the Iraq far better than Pres. Bush ever made the case for Iraq. Or, rather, better than Pres. Bush ever progressed the case for Iraq past the media filter, and to the people.

    I don’t think McCain can successfully attack Hillary or Barack for their vote. They will successfully parry due to citizen confusion over the importance of Iraq. McCain must make the case for Iraq more effectively thaqn it has ever been made.

    Maybe an extremely effective case could not have been made earlier. Maybe America, the West, and the Middle East had to progress our thinking to a place where we could hear the truth about why Iraq is important. Maybe McCain has an opportunity Pres. Bush never had: to make the case, now, to evolved listening, via the perfect, over-the-heads-of-the-media device of a Presidential campaign.

    Certainly Pres. Bush could have made the case much better than he did. However, I do think McCain has an opportunity to speak to evolved listening, and a campaign opportunity to bypass the media. Probably McCain must succeed in making the case, if he is to be elected. I think he can do it. It will be interesting to see what happens.

  11. nyomythus Says:

    Steven: salvage, I once dated someone with your same penchant for focusing on past misery, sarcasm, and inability to call something that’s good, good. That lasted one week. Wow, I must have dated the same one, lasted about a week and then it was over, but not before fucking *** straight up the ass extra fucking hard. *** adores me for it to this day, despite my repeated cease and desist, it’s annoying but strangely …I dunno, satisfying.

  12. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    Glenn:

    Was that an argument on why we should stay? Or was that an assessment salvage’s attitude?

    You guys continue to misunderstand issues and arguments. I guess that why they call you people “progressive”.

  13. neo-neocon Says:

    In case you didn’t see my note on “salvage’s” comment, he’s our old troll friend “stevie” paying another visit.

  14. kcom Says:

    “Many MPs had interests in some of the laws but opposed a third, and therefore had to choose between betraying their interests or accepting legislation they really opposed.”

    Honestly, how is that different from how things work in any parliament in the world? Congressmen routinely vote ‘Yes’ on laws that contain some provision they are strongly in favor of, even though the same bill contains elements they oppose. They have to decide whether the pluses outweigh the minuses. Getting everything they want and nothing they don’t want is not generally an option. That’s what democratic compromise is. Your example purports to illustrate antidemocratic principles in action when in reality it does just the opposite.

  15. Stan Says:

    Wait and see the news if the Dems win the Whitehouse, they will be falling over themselves reporting all the good news from Iraq.

  16. Mark E. Says:

    The press has two tools to control a news cycle. What they choose to put on the front page and what they choose to bury. This is another prime example.

  17. Tom the Redhunter Says:

    Thank you for blogging on this, Neo-Neocon. It’s important to get the word out.

    I saw an interview of Gen Odierno the other week on The PentagonChannel, and he spoke of the great progress the surge had made, but that it was fragile. If we don’t keep up the pressure, or if the Iraqis fall short of their own commitment, all could be lost. He made the point that progress has to be made from the bottom up and the top down “and they’ll kind of meet in the middle”. Given that he’s the guy who implemented Petraeus’ plan, I’d say he knows what he’s talking about.

    So were the political benchmarks important? The answer is that they’re important but only if we defeat AQI and provide security for the population as well. Everything has to work together.

  18. DuMaurier-Smith Says:

    Nyomythus wrote, among other things: “Wow, I must have dated the same one, lasted about a week and then it was over . . . .” Merciful Georgia! Do you do that often? Is it a sort of seizure, a gratuitous, random ejaculation of porno, or does it have a rational antecedents–such as being confronted by nit-wittery? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big boy and an ex-sailor and a long way from offended. It’s just that in one instant I’m tracking you through a quite cogent argument and in the next through anal sex and trying to figure out why. I mean, I’m happy for you . . . but . . . why . . . how . . . oh, never mind.

  19. Xanthippas Says:

    This particular event should have been the lead article on the front page of every newspaper. It should have been the big subject of all the talk shows. It ought to have been acknowledged by every critic of the surge—you know, the ones who initially said the surge wouldn’t work before it even began.

    Or, for a more measured response, Marc Lynch:

    http://abuaardvark.typepad.com/abuaardvark/2008/02/cause-without-l.html

    The Iraqi Parliament’s passage of the budget, amnesty, and provincial laws after much political theater is potentially a rare bit of good news. But as with the deBaathification reform (which looked so promising on first blush and then not so much when the details emerged), it all depends on the details of the laws, the implementation, and the reception. Thus far, the reporting in the Western, Arab and Iraqi press has been very light on the details, mostly repeating what Parliament spokesman Khaled al-Attiya said in his press conference. Given the centrality of the details, it isn’t encouraging to hear that “the parliamentary success was clouded because many of the most contentious details were simply postponed, raising the possibility that the accord could again break into rancorous factional disputes in future debates on the same issues.” [quote fixed – thanks, Eric] I’m relieved that the speaker didn’t have to exercise his threatened nuclear option – dissolving the Parliament – and that these three crucial laws have finally been passed after so many months of wrangling. That’s good news on its merits. But I’m also reserving judgement on the implications of the laws until we see the details and the fallout.

    Which granted, is a little harder to package on ABC, CNN, etc., etc.

  20. Perfected democrat Says:

    nyomythus Says: blah, blah

    nyo…. did you forget to take your lithium?

  21. Ymarsakar Says:

    Whether something is perceived as positive or negative depends on whether they want to go.

    To a man that knows not his ultimate destination, no wind is favorable. In this case, people see the war as being a Bush manufactured product in order to acquire power, wealth, and to silence his opposition through hurting foreigners in Iraq.

    Thus what you see as positive progress towards human liberty in Iraq, is seen by many Americans as negative progress towards human rights because it is only positive for Bush.

    The only reason why the United States hasn’t broken out in Civil War is due to the American institutions in place to handle strife, conflict, and disagreement. Those institutions were built upon blood and guts, by Lincoln and others. They are solid as a result. Compare that to the rather finicky and weak foundation of Iraq in 2003. They indulged in violence against each other because nobody said no, nobody offered an alternative, and they didn’t trust that alternative to work even if it was offered.

    In America, we still have the means to resolve things peacefully. But just as we see in Iraq, social conditions do break down with an extremist group stoking up rage and conducting attacks.

    We shall see whether the Democrat party can truly succede in overthrowing the US Constitution in the end.

  22. Eric Chen Says:

    Stan Says: “Wait and see the news if the Dems win the Whitehouse, they will be falling over themselves reporting all the good news from Iraq.”

    I would take that proposition, gladly. In real-life, most world affairs do not begin and end within 4 election cycles. After all, Bush went to war in Iraq based on what he inherited from the Clinton admin. In other words, Bush took ownership of President Clinton’s Iraq dilemma despite that Bush was elected as the anti-Clinton. If Obama or Clinton becomes President, it will be as an anti-Bush. By the same token as Bush in 2001, we want him or her to claim ownership of OIF. If the Dems are claiming good news out of Iraq over the next 4-8 years, that means Obama or Clinton took the baton from Bush and didn’t drop it. If that also means President Bush took the hardest steps just so a Democrat President could take credit for historic success in Iraq, so be it.

  23. Eric Chen Says:

    ^ I meant 4-year election cycles.

  24. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    You have to wonder what motivates Xan to cheerlead the defeat of a fledgling democracy in the middle of radical Islam, in a country that in generations has not known anything other than despotic rule.

    Just whose throat are we shoving democracy down here?

  25. Sean Says:

    Now if the Iraqi parliment would pass an Oil Wealth Sharing law, we’d be all set.

    When you hear people are threatening to dissolve the parliment or walk out on a negotiation, then you know the real bargaining is finally under way. All the rest is just posturing.

  26. Ymarsakar Says:

    If that also means President Bush took the hardest steps just so a Democrat President could take credit for historic success in Iraq, so be it.

    Iraq’s a mess largely precisely because the Democrats took a historic win from Vietnam, which totally degraded the US military’s ability to learn from such a shameful loss.

    I don’t think trying to repeat the issue is going to do Americans any favors in the next century.

  27. Sam Says:

    The 2005 Iraq narrative must not be changed, whatever the facts on the ground. The Democrats and their cooperative media will maintain this until November along with convincing people there is a recession whether there is one of not and that everything is falling to pieces.

  28. J. Peden Says:

    When we see the Democrat Party a priori disenfranchising whole States along with the spectre of possibly managing to disenfranchise their own total Party electorate by means of their Super Delegate mechanism, perhaps the critics amongst them should worry a lot less about the Iraqi political process.

  29. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    I guess it comes back to an issue of sustainability.

    Now there’s a liberal buzzword;

    sustainability.

    Can you toss the right balance of human beings under the bus in the correct and well timed order to fool the people left riding that they wont be next?

  30. nyomythus Says:

    When we see the Democrat Party a priori disenfranchising whole States along with the spectre of possibly managing to disenfranchise their own total Party electorate by means of their Super Delegate mechanism, perhaps the critics amongst them should worry a lot less about the Iraqi political process.

    Good observation!!

  31. yet another possible take on the situation Says:

    “The dramatic decline in bloodshed in Iraq – at least until last week’s terrible market bombings in Baghdad – is largely due to Muqtada al-Sadr’s August 2007 unilateral ceasefire. Made under heavy U.S. and Iraqi pressure and as a result of growing discontent from his own Shiite base, Muqtada’s decision to curb his unruly movement was a positive step. But the situation remains highly fragile and potentially reversible. If the U.S. and others seek to press their advantage and deal the Sadrists a mortal blow, these gains are likely to be squandered, with Iraq experiencing yet another explosion of violence. The need is instead to work at converting Muqtada’s unilateral measure into a more comprehensive multilateral ceasefire that can create conditions for the movement to evolve into a fully legitimate political actor.

    …The Sadrists were victims of their own success. Their movement’s vastly increased wealth, membership and range of action led to greater corruption, weaker internal cohesion and a popular backlash. Divisions within the movement deepened; splinter groups – often little more than criminal offshoots – proliferated. As a result, anti-Sadrist sentiment grew, including among Muqtada’s Shiite constituency. The U.S. surge, which saw the injection of thousands of additional troops, particularly in Baghdad, worsened the Sadrists’ situation, checking and, in some instances, reversing the Mahdi Army’s territorial expansion. Finally, in August 2007, major clashes erupted in the holy city of Karbala between members of Muqtada’s movement and the rival Shiite Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), which further eroded the Sadrists’ standing.

    In reaction, Muqtada announced a six-month freeze on all Mahdi Army activities. It applies to all groups affiliated (loosely or otherwise) with the Mahdi Army, and Muqtada reportedly dispatched his most loyal fighters to tame holdouts. Most importantly, his order removed the veil of legitimacy and lifted the impunity that many groups – criminal gangs operating in the Mahdi Army’s name and Sadrist units gone astray – had enjoyed.

    The ceasefire largely has held and, together with bolstered U.S. and Iraqi military presence in Baghdad, helps account for a dramatic drop in violence. But the respite, although welcome, is both slightly misleading and exceedingly frail. Muqtada’s decision likely reflected a pragmatic calculation: that a halt in hostilities would help restore his credibility and allow him to reorganise his forces and wait out the U.S. presence. Their retreat notwithstanding, the Sadrists remain deeply entrenched and extremely powerful in a number of regions. Fleeing military pressure in Baghdad, Mahdi Army fighters redeployed to the south, thereby setting up the potential for an escalation of the class-based confrontation with the U.S.-backed ISCI.”

    http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=5286&l=1

  32. some background info Says:

    “Often misidentified in Western media as “the largest Shiite party” in Iraq, SCIRI – the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Al-Majlis al-‘Aala li al-Thawra al-Islamiya fi-l-Iraq) – is certainly one of the most powerful. Its defining characteristics are a strong organisation, whose leadership hails from one of Najaf’s leading families, the Hakims; a surprising political pragmatism in light of profound sectarian inclinations; and a somewhat incongruous dual alliance with the U.S. and Iran. Since its founding a quarter century ago, it has followed a trajectory from Iranian proxy militia to Iraqi governing party, whose leader, Abd-al-Aziz al-Hakim, has been courted and feted by the Bush White House. Today, it is engaged in a fierce competition with its main Shiite rival, the movement led by Muqtada al-Sadr, which may well determine Iraq’s future. To help shape the party into a more responsible actor, the U.S. should stop using it as a privileged instrument in its fight against the Sadrists but press it to cut ties with its more sectarian elements and practices.

    As a result of the pervasive distrust, if not open hostility, SCIRI encountered upon its return from Iranian exile in April 2003, its quest for power (political in Baghdad, religious in Najaf) has first and foremost taken the form of a quest for respectability. It has made strenuous efforts to distance itself from its Iranian patron, whitewash its embarrassing past, build political coalitions, profess the importance of Iraq’s unity, maintain the semblance of government and, as conditions deteriorated, use the state’s security apparatus to protect the Shiite community from insurgent attacks. Although it continues to receive Iranian funds, it is in this not all that different from other parties, many of which became beneficiaries of Tehran’s strategy of diversifying support.

    …If SCIRI/ISCI has so far failed in achieving respectability, it is because it has never quite managed to shake off its past as an Iran-bred group of exiles with a narrow sectarian agenda enforced by a potent militia. SCIRI claims with justification that it was established and inspired in response to the Iraqi regime’s tyranny and crimes but perceptions forged during the hard years of the Iran-Iraq war, in which the party and its Badr militia fought alongside Iranian forces, have been slow to change; suspicion that SCIRI remains guided by a foreign hand even as it plants its roots in Iraqi soil has hobbled its ambition.

    Hakim’s calls for the establishment of a Shiite super region in the nine southern governorates have provoked widespread opposition, including among fellow Shiites. Equally suspect to many Iraqis has been the party’s more recent cosy relationship with the U.S. As a result, SCIRI/ISCI enjoys little popularity.

    Still, the party is a formidable force. As a result of the U.S. surge, it is benefiting from coalition efforts to suppress not only al-Qaeda in Iraq but also ISCI’s principal rival, the Sadrists’ Mahdi army (Jaysh al-Mahdi). As long as the U.S. remains in Iraq, its alliance with ISCI will help entrench the party in the country’s governing, security and intelligence institutions, in Baghdad as well as most southern governorates. Its only true challenger remains the Mahdi army, which despite its ruffian credentials and bloody role in sectarian reprisals enjoys broad support among Shiite masses. Their rivalry now takes the form of a class struggle between the Shiite merchant elite of Baghdad and the holy cities, represented by ISCI (as well, religiously, by Sistani), and the Shiite urban underclass.

    …The U.S. has fully backed ISCI in this rivalry. This is a risky gambit. Unleashing ISCI/Badr against the Sadrists is a dangerous policy that will further deepen intra-Shiite divisions; it also is a short-sighted one, given the Sadrists’ stronger mass base. Instead, the U.S. should adopt a more even-handed approach between the movements, while pressuring ISCI to reform its behaviour. The U.S. can help ISCI move away from its controversial past, and it has an interest in further anchoring the party within the current set-up. An ISCI fully transformed into a responsible, non-sectarian political party could make a significant contribution to the country’s rebuilding.”

    http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=5158&l=1

  33. Cake Says:

    How about linking those long “takes” rather than hogging bandwidth with them?

    Nothing I hate more than having to scroll through a miles-long post just to get to the next one.

  34. Eric Chen Says:

    Ymarsakar Says: Iraq’s a mess largely precisely because the Democrats took a historic win from Vietnam, which totally degraded the US military’s ability to learn from such a shameful loss.

    You know, I wrote a column about that in college for my school newspaper, “When Anti-war is Anti-peace”: http://www.columbiaspectator.com/node/23957

    That’s not how I meant my comment, though. I’m hoping for the optimistic view that if the Democrats win the White House they will take the Presidency seriously rather than as only a hoard of parochial political spoils. Bush largely ran in 2000 as a right-wing (foreign policy) realist opposing Clintonian interventionism, not as a liberal. But as a serious leader, Bush rose to his job after 9/11, and changed course to champion the liberal world order. In other words, Bush took the baton from Clinton and didn’t drop it, despite what Bush said during his first election campaign. I’m hoping the next President – Democrat or Republican – proves to be a good war-time President, notwithstanding what he or she says during the popular election campaign.

    Then again, leadership often is not so smoothly transferred. There is relatively recent precedent for your pessimism: a Democrat President could very well opt for an Eisenhower in Korea or a Nixon in Vietnam change of course. Both Republican Presidents fulfilled their campaign promises and did exactly what they’d said they’d do: extract American troops from combat in wars begun under Democrat Presidents, despite the long-term consequences of those withdrawals. (I’m a believer that our flawed decision-making in Vietnam stemmed from the Korean War.)

  35. Eric Chen Says:

    Sam Says: “The 2005 Iraq narrative must not be changed, whatever the facts on the ground. The Democrats and their cooperative media will maintain this until November . . . “

    If that’s as far as the Dems and their media allies will go in order to wrest the White House from the GOP, I can accept that. Bending the national interest for parochial gain is one thing, but actually breaking it is something else. What you say implies that the Dems aren’t really sincere about their current frightening mob-mentality election-driven agenda and actually have a serious plan for leadership. (Eg, given that the 2006 Dems-elected Congress has not taken substantive steps toward “ending the war” implies they secretly understand the stakes in Iraq.) It’s a scary gamble, but I hope that’s the case if the next President is Obama or Clinton.

  36. Ymarsakar Says:

    (I’m a believer that our flawed decision-making in Vietnam stemmed from the Korean War.)

    I tend to think a lot of wars come about because of previous wars. True for the World War series as well as other conflicts that weren’t decided decisively for all factions. And in war, there will often be factions that ally together to defeat one foe, only to fall out and start fighting each other over the spoils.

    Generals fight the last war, never the current one, probably because the last war was always inconclusive one way or another. Rarely does one get a WWII, and even in WWII, Communism was left alive for some day latter in the future when the earth might be immolated in nuclear fire.

  37. J. Peden Says:

    Hey, some guy, “How about linking those long ‘takes’ rather than hogging bandwidth with them?”

    Plus, some guy, I could get less vapid direction from a friggin’ Fortune Teller. Competing with the nonsensical, “You should always do what turns out to be the right thing before it turns out to be the right thing,” is simply not that difficult.

    Moreover, given some facts and outcomes, I’d trust even an average Fortune Teller to not be so sub-rational as to judge the success of a strategy and the thought process of those designing the strategy to be mere happenstance/just-getting-lucky-in-spite-of-themselves to the point of then advocating instead a change to the Obama unknown, or else to only have recourse to essentially making vague and meaningless pronouncements such as contained in the above blatantly post modern mantra.

    some guy, you and your informants are simply repeating the same narcissistic, sub-rational mistake all over again, and again, and again. But since you are all “human”, your inveterate echoings must be “rational”, eh what?

  38. gcotharn Says:

    Reading Eric Chen reminds of what I saw as the one redeeming thing about the Dem Congressional takeover in 2006: “Well,” I thought, “at least the Dems will have to take Iraq seriously, now that they are in power. They will not demand American defeat. That would ruin the Democratic Party.”

    Hoo boy. I was so wrong. I still hope American voters will punish the Dems, yet I am not holding my breath. Demanding American defeat doesn’t look to have ruined the Democratic Party.

    American voters simply do not perceive the strategic importance of successful Iraqi democracy. The relationship of a successful Iraq to American security does not compute. The case remains to be made. John McCain is maybe the only person positioned to bypass the media filter, and to successfully make the case to the American public.

  39. neo-neocon Says:

    Warning to “possible take” and “background information:”

    I’d prefer that people provide links and short excerpts from those links in the comments section. Also, (except briefly, for humor’s sake), to keep to one name and one identity. No sock puppets.

  40. another take Says:

    Just trying to be helpful. I get the impression that people here don’t really know that much about Iraq (not just limited to here, but pretty much all Americans). Just wanted to provide some useful information from people who read Arabic press in Arabic (Lynch, Cole) or have people reporting on the ground in Iraq (ICG).

    Without looking it up on wikipedia – how much do you know about Iraqi politics? It’s one thing to talk in vague, general terms – if the issue is so incredibly important, take the time to learn about it? Not PajamasMedia reporting, but actual scholarly work on the topic?

  41. another take Says:

    By “PajamasMedia reporting” I mean: people who have never been to Iraq or the region, don’t speak Arabic (of any variety), don’t read Iraqi or Arabic press, have never met an Iraqi, couldn’t name the PM’s party, etc, but feel like they can talk about Iraq in a very general, vague manner informed not really by facts, but more by ideology, arm chair philosophy, etc.

    Again: I’m not making a case for or against anything that was said here. Just recommending some reading.

  42. Eric Chen Says:

    gcotharn Says: “Reading Eric Chen reminds of what I saw as the one redeeming thing about the Dem Congressional takeover in 2006: “Well,” I thought, “at least the Dems will have to take Iraq seriously, now that they are in power. They will not demand American defeat. That would ruin the Democratic Party.””

    Well, the Dems don’t have the Presidency yet, and that’s the power they want.

    “American voters simply do not perceive the strategic importance of successful Iraqi democracy.”

    The hope is that the Dems in the White House would be able to reverse that trend, which does seem to be a quixotic hope, given that the Dems’ anti-war politics are the main reason that many Americans don’t understand the importance of the mission. The optimistic view is that progressive liberals, which the Democrats ostensibly are, ought to be the best champions of a definitively liberal mission. I mean, Obama is supposed to be the 21st century JFK, right? It was JFK who predicted and attempted to institutionalize our ability to fight this kind of war in defense of a liberal world order – Bush is in line with that tradition.

    On the pessimistic side, I did also bring up the Eisenhower and Nixon precedents for relatively recent anti-war Presidential candidates who did exactly what they said they’d do as Presidents. Certainly, Obama or Clinton can go the way of Ike and Nixon, too, as overtly anti-war candidates.

    For the Long War, McCain is the safest choice. Clinton’s track record, as well as her husband’s, says she should be the most familiar with our history and the stakes in Iraq, but she’s also resorted to the anti-war mantra. Obama is the high-risk/high-reward gamble because of his great potential to galvanize support for the liberal mission while also neutralizing the anti-war factions in a way Clinton couldn’t. However, beyond Obama’s aggressive Wilsonian principles, the only evidence of what he’ll do is the anti-war mantra sans a Clintonian track record to hint that he might champion the mission.

  43. grackle Says:

    Suggested sites for Some Background Info and Another Take to visit, peruse and perhaps bookmark for their future edification: Hoover Institution, Cato Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Center for Policy Security, Brookings Institute and my personal favorites: Council on Foreign Relations and Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    I won’t clutter the comments with embedded links(they are all easily Google-able) or long excerpts from these think tanks.

    If urged I might also recommend some books for them on the Middle East but think it best for now to offer easily accessible and free fare – except to suggest that one can’t go wrong with reading anything on the subject by Daniel Pipes or Bernard Lewis – both recognized, respected experts(unless one is of a Left-wing or Jihadist apologizer persuasion – then they are anathema).

    … just trying to be helpful …

  44. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    another take:
    “I’m not making a case for or against anything that was said here. Just recommending some reading.”

    Much appreciated. I myself, cannot claim to be familiar with all the current players and nuances on what motivates who. All of that input is welcome. Im quite sure the political situation in Iraq is much more complex and in flux, and this is certainly one holy mess we’re involved in; however, I dont see what you’ve relayed changes anyones mind. For those who advocate withdrawal, any reason, any cause would suffice. I doubt, say, Code Pink studies the ins and outs of Iraqi real politick, nor would need to. If things were better and there were more real cooperation among factions in Iraq, Code Pink would still be clamoring for withdrawal. For me, I dont see how the US leaving helps either the US or Iraq. What Iraq becomes after we abandon it, would be worse than our prolonged presence in the region.

    If you have an opposing viewpoint, Id be happy to hear it.

  45. another take Says:

    Anthony Cordesman at CSIS is one of the most prolific writers on Iraq, but never gets mentioned.

    Brookings is especially great for their Iraq Index.

    Pipes was certainly an accomplished historian once, but has basically gone insane.

    Bernard Lewis’ histories are excellent – though rarely do they get into specifics and rarely do they deal with contemporary politics.

    Two more suggestions: Mark Tessler, Middle East Review of International Affairs. Just think an informed debate is always better than an uninformed debate. Even if you don’t change your mind, at least you know what you’re talking about.

  46. lumpenscholar Says:

    another take,

    Everyone knows a different set of facts based on what their world-view and interests are. You read one set of sources, I read another, someone else reads a third set. So we have different sets of facts, but it doesn’t mean any of us is ignorant on the topic. Maybe you need to get out a little more, maybe read a more diverse set of sources, like:

    http://www.memri.org/ (articles, etc., translated from ME media)

    http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/mesh/ (Middle East Strategy at Harvard)

    http://www.michaelyon-online.com/ (Michael Yon, who’s been reporting from Iraq or Afghanistan nearly continuously for the last several years)

  47. lumpenscholar Says:

    Sorry, I was posting at the same time as your last post. What do you mean exactly that Pipes has gone insane?

  48. grackle Says:

    To lumpenscholar:

    What do you mean exactly that Pipes has gone insane?

    I think he means that Pipes is anathema to him.

  49. grackle Says:

    Bernard Lewis’ histories are excellent – though rarely do they get into specifics and rarely do they deal with contemporary politics.

    On Bernard Lewis: It would seem to be wise to ground oneself on the history of a region before pontificating on its current affairs. Myself, I find that Bernard Lewis deals frequently in specifics. Of course, I perhaps have the advantage on that, since I’ve actually read a couple of his books.

    His latest volume, From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East,(which I have not read) judging from the Table Of Contents, seems to be chock full of contemporary subjects. I suppose he has changed his approach since the above writer last read him.

  50. Ymarsakar Says:

    Well, the Dems don’t have the Presidency yet, and that’s the power they want.

    That shows an obsession with power that is only fueled by getting power in the Legislature. Such tendencies usually only lead to self-destruction when such folks are given military powers.

    The hope is that the Dems in the White House would be able to reverse that trend

    That hope panned out for Hollywood in WWII because Hitler attacked Stalin and the Communists. Until Al Qaeda blows up something the Democrats actually care about in this country, that bet won’t have very good odds. And even then, they will only go after Osama or the single group that made the attack. Then it will be an endless pursuit of Osama or some other terrorist leader, given fecklessness and concern over Lawfare in assassination policies, which will provide an endless justification for more and more power given to the Presidency and more civil rights restrictions created in the name of national security and expedience.

    Such things become even more likely precisely because that is what the Democrats believe Bush has been doing for the last 6-7 years.

    The optimistic view is that progressive liberals, which the Democrats ostensibly are

    Real classical liberals like Neo Neocon, Bookworm, Lieberman, etc either got shoved out of the Democrat party or moved over closer to the Republicans by choice.

    There are no more progressive liberals of worth in the fake liberal party calling themselves Democrats, unless those fake liberals are progressing towards maximum entropy.

    I mean, Obama is supposed to be the 21st century JFK, right?

    And my peers are convinced that the Republicans will assassinate Obama like they assassinated JFK. Cause those two were real Presidents. Bush stole the election, you see.

    All of this is an ingredient for factionalism and the downfall of a civilization. Two or more hostile camps inevitably devolves into barbarianism and then the whole cycle of civilization starts all over again.

  51. Ymarsakar Says:

    The relationship of a successful Iraq to American security does not compute.

    It is more like “American security” is meaningless and is only used to enrich rich white people in the eyes of most Americans.

    Add in most of the Democrat party and the cynics that don’t like either party, and you get “most Americans”.

  52. Truth Says:

    The development in political side important but for the last five years Iraqi have struggling with their lives which made them prisoners in their own homes waiting for unexpected terrorist who will dash in their homes, busses or school or ministry building to kidnap them or killing them.

    So any issue of passing laws and bills should first taken in account the security matter very well before pushing to gain some bench mark here to tell us , um things in right track.

    Is it really things in the right direction?

    This question hard to answer from our comfort offices and homes the real answers are from the streets of Baghdad and from the mouth of Iraqis who will tell the reality.

    But if we looking for gains let presume there is some light coming, yes there is but its long way to go and to say we win.

    Just last thing here some reports that fall in the number of Iraqi dead bodies around the streets and towns is some how due to a new tactic now. These poor Iraqis who kidnapped or detained are taken to a neighbouring country (Guess which) where they striping some body parts from their bodies to be on sale in some Gulf countries.

    How much truth in this story you need to guess and search, but every thing possible as we can see for the last five years.

  53. another take Says:

    I’m starting to realize what the problem is – the lack of a good grounding in basic information. Imagine trying to have a conversation with a foreigner about America – a foreigner who has trouble naming George Bush as president, doesn’t know who the vice president or Speaker of the House are, doesn’t know the names of or differences between the two parties, doesn’t know the issues that divide the parties, doesn’t know who the candidates for election are, doesn’t know where each party gets its support from or stands for, and so forth. Imagine trying to explain, say, the primaries or US policy making on Iraq to a foreigner who doesn’t know anything about the US except what he or she insists can be divined through airy theoretical principles.

    Now, take that difficulty and multiply it by a thousand. Who are Iraq’s leaders? Prime Minister, president, cabinet, parliamentary leaders? What parties do they belong to? Who are those parties’ constituents and what do they stand for? Who makes up the opposition? What do they stand for? What are the ideological and pragmatic alliances and conflicts that exist between and among parties? Who are the armed groups, who are their constituents and what are their political platforms and objectives?

    For example: lots of talk of American defeat. But who exactly would be defeating America? AQI – a handful of foreign fighters with no base of domestic support, a group that even Bush said was on the outs? The Mahdi Army, the militia of a major parliamentary party? The Badr Brigade, the militia of the parliament’s largest party? One of the dozens of Sunni groups, many of which are now on the US payroll? Right now, those Sunni militias are frequently fighting Shi’a militias for control of Iraq, though both have and will fight the US. If we leave, what does it matter for US policy if Badr or ICI wins?

    Go back to the basics. Who would take your opinion on the US seriously if you didn’t know what party the president belonged to? Who should take your opinion of Iraq seriously if you don’t have a basic grasp of Iraqi politics?

    The Iraqi political scene is way too complicated to make simplistic arguments from general theory about “good guys” and “bad guys.” Very, very few in Iraq fall into categories as simple as “good” or “bad.”

    FYI: Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki belongs to al-Da’wa, a political party that used to be a terrorist group that attacked the US and French embassies in Kuwait in 1983 in retaliation for strikes against Hezbollah. If the US withdraws while he’s still securely in office, does that mean the US has been defeated?

  54. Truth Says:

    There is article recently by Reuel Marc Gerecht who is Reuel Marc Gerecht is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former case officer for the CIA titled “Iraq’s Jihad Myths” will tell what’s those insurgency or resister fighter are. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/15/AR2008021503098_pf.html

    I like that argument made about Jihadists in Afghanistan when US support them and those” insurgency” now in Iraq.

    But let clear things out, Iranians and Iranian proxy with Al-Quads forces are their and playing well in Iraq which made Iraqi so disappointed with what US did and doing and are very suspicions about US gaols in Iraq.

    There is no question that Da’awa Party (Iranian midwife party and backed 20 years ago) has bloody records inside Iraq and outside Iraq but what the doing now it’s very bloody and a polling behaviours to Iraqi citizens with all Sec’s of Iraqi society.

  55. lumpenscholar Says:

    I’m beginning to see what the problem is here. Imagine trying to have a conversation about America with someone who has read about only a single aspect of America and yet thinks she or she knows everything there is to know about the country.

  56. Robert H Says:

    I don’t think I understand the connection between the surge and the passage of these laws. Why were 30,000 more American soldiers required to be present before the parliament of the sovereign nation of Iraq could vote to undo the appallingly bad decisions of Jerry Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority, decisions which did so much to help create the Insurgency as we know it today?

  57. troutsky Says:

    Certainly justifies all the bloodshed, displacement, mutilation and murder. Now I can rest easy at night. Oh wait… I was already resting easy! By the way, the NYT also won’t report that they found the WMD’s in Des Moine, the liberal swine.

  58. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    another take:
    “The Iraqi political scene is way too complicated to make simplistic arguments from general theory about “good guys” and “bad guys.” Very, very few in Iraq fall into categories as simple as “good” or “bad.”

    I dont know that anyone here has offered an argument based upon such simplicity, nor have you made one as to whether or not we stay. Give me the benefit of all that you have read, if you will, and give in your words what you think the US should do at this point. Id appreciate your opinion on that.

  59. douglas Says:

    The Long War Journal is pretty good too. Bill Roggio has spent a great deal of time on the ground, and they are currently at part three of a four part series- a primer on Iraqi politics:
    “Inside Iraqi Politics”

    Let me also say that I think one can have a limited knowledge of the specifics and still have a good comprehensive idea about the state of things. Likewise, one can have a genius level familiarity with the minutiae and have zero grasp of the bigger picture.

    One needs to constantly measure the details against the strategic level plan, and vice versa.

  60. Truth Says:

    Jerry Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority, decisions which did so much to help create the Insurgency as we know it today?

    I come to believe that president GWB mislead by all those worked in Iraq.

    While the mission changing from regime change to democratic and free Iraq, Sheikh Paul Bremer III he ruled Iraq as self-asset imposing Sce. formula.
    creating top Iraqi ruling council “CPA” followed by self-importance attitude issuing orders that most Iraqi folks even those Sheikh Bremer handpicked opposing them but his “Swan Butterfly” new Khaton of Baghdad “Meghan L. O’Sullivan” she played very important roll in obtaining the approval and assurances from those Iraq Sec. folks.

    Instead of using Iraqi military and police forces to secure the country, he dismantled 500,000 Iraqi from their jobs in one signature who left without any payment or money which Sheikh Bremer’s plan of privatizations of Iraqi assets without setting any social structure that can help jobless Iraqis. Instead “My Year in Iraq” $8.8bn vanished without trace, wonder if Sheikh Paul Bremer III stayed 35 years like old regime how much money will be vanished?

    So back the tope point GWB mislead by his folks in Iraq , in addition to 23 foreign intelligence agency working inside Iraq as the head of Iraqi intelligence stated in an interview with Al-Sharaq Alawsat newspaper they working for their self importance regardless of US attentions in Iraq.

    finally these remarkable benchmark with its importance it’s the set point for the most important bill which Iraq oil sharing law, which is very important to those who stand behind the curtness waiting to gain Iraqi virgin oil fields.
    Last week there is a bit of news start rolling that Iran have pushed Iraqi oil engineers from very rich Iraqi oil filed east Iraq (MAJNON Oil Filed, that old regime was signed deal with Japan but was hold because of sanction on Iraq) now Iranian have got them and fired Iraqi stuff who working there as reported in many Iraqi news outlets.

  61. Sergey Says:

    “‘Tis a common observation here that our cause is the cause of all mankind, and that we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own.”
    Benjamin Franklin

  62. Sergey Says:

    “There are two things which a democratic people will always find very difficult – to begin a war and to end it.” –
    — Alexis de Tocqueville

  63. lumpenscholar Says:

    harry, don’t get your hopes up. I’m still waiting for an explanation of why he thinks Pipes is insane.

    troutsy, you have no idea how relieved I am to know you are sleeping well these days. I was so, SO concerned about that. Of course, there was more bloodshed, displacement, mutilation and murder under Saddam, but you certainly didn’t care about that. Nah, you don’t give a rat’s nether regions for the Iraqi people, nor about the bloodshed and pain. You care about your own soul and the moral stain that comes from being part of an evil culture, and the only way to atone is biting sarcasm aimed at whatever the emblematic action du jour is. Sleep well, sweet prince. Enjoy your dreamworld.

  64. grackle Says:

    FYI: Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki belongs to al-Da’wa, a political party that used to be a terrorist group that attacked the US and French embassies in Kuwait in 1983 in retaliation for strikes against Hezbollah. If the US withdraws while he’s still securely in office, does that mean the US has been defeated?

    To answer the question: No, it doesn’t – but if future governments pull the same shenanigans as did Saddam’s then I expect my government to go back into Iraq and find new leaders to run Iraq.

    Another Take decries simplicity yet takes a simplistic view of the Islamic Dawa Party and, I suspect, other factors having to do with the Middle East. The simple fact is that most groups with any following in the Middle East have practiced some form of terrorism at some time in their history.

    It would be impossible to put together a governing coalition in Iraq(or most other Islamic states) that is pristine in this respect – witness the reconciliation with former Baathist Party members now taking place in Iraq – one of the benchmarks insisted upon by opponents of the war in Congress and elsewhere.

    Indeed many critics describe the breakup and outlawing of former Baathists in Iraqi governmental affairs immediately following this latest subduing of Iraq as one of Bush’s worst ‘blunders.’ One of the hallmarks of opponents of the war seems to be a certain inconsistency on these issues.

    One receives the impression that folks like Another Take will be unhappy no matter what happens or who might be in charge – the sole object seeming to be to cast aspersions upon US motives and methods.

    Certainly Bush has not been perfect in his conduct of the war but one is reminded that it took Lincoln 3 long years to find his Grant, the same amount of time it took Bush to locate Petraeus. With the benefit of many years of hindsight it seems there were also glaring mistakes in the first years of US participation in WW2. The only thing certain in war is that there will be blunders.

    I don’t think I understand the connection between the surge and the passage of these laws. Why were 30,000 more American soldiers required to be present before the parliament of the sovereign nation of Iraq could vote to undo the appallingly bad decisions of Jerry Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority, decisions which did so much to help create the Insurgency as we know it today?

    I don’t believe there is any direct connection between the surge and progress on the ‘Benchmarks.’ The governing factor in an effective post-war Iraqi government seems to be time, time to put together a government from scratch.

    That said, it would seem to be sensible to expect it to be an easier task if violence is brought down. I would further argue that it is impossible to discern the real effects of early decisions in Iraq by Bremer and others in the Bush administration. Such criticisms are only biased assumptions on the part of the writer.

  65. Tom the Redhunter Says:

    My .02 is that in order to understand what we’re doing in Iraq you need to read US Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual 3-24 (also available on The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual”>Amazon). FM-3-24, edited by Gen Petraeus and released in December of 2006, is the basis for our 2007 strategy in Iraq.

  66. Tom the Redhunter Says:

    oops, sorry I got the html code a bit wrong, but the links still work.

  67. Truth Says:

    In his last entry, he wrote about the joy and confusion of being home. And the sense that civilians didn’t know or care about what young soldiers had seen and done.

    “Now we’re a military at war, with less than 1% of the population in uniform. Unless you have a friend or family member in the military, it’s a separate reality,” he wrote.

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/world/stories/DN-armyofdude_22int.ART.State.Edition2.41f5031.html

  68. Truth Says:

    it is impossible to discern the real effects of early decisions in Iraq by Bremer

    What Bremer Got Wrong in Iraq
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/15/AR2007051501322_pf.html

  69. another take Says:

    “Another Take decries simplicity yet takes a simplistic view of the Islamic Dawa Party.”

    No. As I said, just wanted to raise the questions themselves.

    al-Da’wa didn’t just commit terrorism, it committed terrorism against the United States in partnership with Hezbollah. I thought that the US didn’t negotiate terrorists. Are we abandoning principle for expediency?

    Does this mean there are other former terrorists with whom the US can negotiate/deal with/promote into power?

    What makes al-Da’wa worth defending when other groups, nearly identical to al-Da’wa in terms of goals and methods, are considered our enemies?

    If withdrawal means “America gets defeated,” it’s worth asking: what, exactly, does defeat entail?

    What would victory entail if, as the US is trying, the political power of groups like al-Da’wa and SIIR becomes entrenched?

    Does it further US interests to ensure the political/military victory of parties with close ties to Iran and Hezbollah, Islamist goals, and party militias engaged in terrorist-like violence against Sunni militias allied with the US?

    Has the US sacrificed long-term stability and democratic prospects for short-term expediency and results it can show off at home?

    If not al-Da’wa and SIIR, then who? Who are the alternatives, what are their constituencies and their goals, and how are they better or worse than the status quo?

    Are the current gains in security – thanks in part to the Awakening movement – sustainable when US allies like SIIR maintain their own militias engaged in ongoing violence against Awakening/CIC/SOI members?

    Is the SIIR/al-Da’wa position tenable in the long run when most Iraqis consider them “Persians” for their long exile in Iran? When most Sunnis believe Badr and Mahdi Army are their biggest foes, not the US or al Qaeda?

    Even if the Sunni insurgency is defeated and al Qaeda in Iraq destroyed, Badr and Mahdi have a strong chance of fighting a really bloody intra-Shi’a civil war. Does the US stay so long as there is the potential for civil conflict?

    Like I said: not offering answers. These are tough questions, most without very good answers. But it’s worth raising them – it pays to know something about a country rather than just trying to argue from general principles.

  70. Dan Says:

    I recall early in the surge, its opponents were discounting the demonstrable successes in the streets because, at the time “none of the eighteen benchmarks for political reconciliation have been met” by the nascent Iraqi government. (I believe there were 18 originally)

    Several weeks later, the complaint morphed into “the surge is a failure because only three of the 18 benchmarks for political reconciliation have been achieved”. Later still, it was ‘….failure, because only seven of the 18 benchmarks….”

    Some enterprising blogger with more diligence than I, and access to Lexis-Nexis, will put together an illustration of how this whine has evolved over the course of the last year or so, eventually to the point of its own incoherence.

    Going only by what I see, we’re not hearing much about those original 18 benchmarks anymore. Why is that, I wonder?

  71. grackle Says:

    al-Da’wa didn’t just commit terrorism, it committed terrorism against the United States in partnership with Hezbollah. I thought that the US didn’t negotiate terrorists. Are we abandoning principle for expediency?

    I think it’s a matter of degree of expediency, isn’t it? The terrorism referred to by the writer was committed by some of the group’s more militant members and occurred over 20 years ago. Since then the group has split into independent factions, parts of which have evolved into legitimate political entities pursuing legitimate political aims using nonviolent methods. The writer is perhaps overlooking the elections that have taken place in Iraq.

    All along members of Congress and other war critics have been moaning about the lack of reconciliation in Iraq – when it comes they simply switch their critique to one of too much “expediency.”

    Is it too expedient not to hold present day Islamic Dawa Party members accountable for behavior of others over 20 years ago? I think not. Is the writer claiming that the Islamic Dawa Party is at this time committing terrorism? I’m afraid the writer will find pristine associations hard to come by in the Middle East – the pursuance of which seems to be a common error of the ill-informed.

    The many other questions raised by the writer are somewhat similar to the above, a veritable morass of hyperbole, false assumptions, false dichotomies, nit-picking and unrealistic expectations. It would take a book to thoroughly refute them – I will leave them for the readers to decide for themselves.

  72. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    another take:
    “Even if the Sunni insurgency is defeated and al Qaeda in Iraq destroyed, Badr and Mahdi have a strong chance of fighting a really bloody intra-Shi’a civil war. Does the US stay so long as there is the potential for civil conflict?”

    I’d say yes. We’ve been in Kosovo 8 years longer than we were told we would be there. (One year). If Kosovo was considered worthwhile, Iraq must be more so. Or do we abandon Iraq because it is harder, more complex? Would not abandonment be more the expedient answer? Wouldnt the abandonment of principal (“non-“extremist” RINO’s take note), be the expediency you write about?

    I say the longer we stay, the more the average Iraqi, no matter which faction, is exposed to egalitarian principals. It certainly less likely to take hold if they see that we dont have the conviction to see it through. So which is the expediency here?

    Unless you feel that the “brown people” are somehow fundamentally unable to adopt democracy, we need to make all the effort we can if for no other reason than the sake of the effort.

    If this isnt about principal what should it be about?

  73. another take Says:

    “Unless you feel that the “brown people” are somehow fundamentally unable to adopt democracy, we need to make all the effort we can if for no other reason than the sake of the effort.”

    Actually, no one (that I know of) believes this, except perhaps for unreconstructed racists of the Stormfront variety.

    In fact, Arab/Muslim support for democracy is incredibly high. World Values Survey found, for example, that 89% of Algerians and 96% of Egyptians believed that democracy, despite its problems, is the best form of government. Similar numbers pop up all over. Two (Bangladesh and Turkey) have higher rates of popular support for democracy than do the US, Canada, and UK (al-Braizat, 2002).

    This is one of the reasons why the “reverse domino theory” that constituted a major part of the justification for the Iraq War was so asinine – it was based on the premise that the peoples of the Middle East really didn’t know what democracy was and, given a demonstration by the democratization of Iraq, would suddenly realize how awesome democracy is and overthrow their own tyrants.

    Arabs/Muslims already know how awesome democracy is, want it badly, don’t have it, and believe that the US – close allies with their oppressors even to this day (see: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, etc), despite official US rhetoric about democracy promotion and rejecting the failed policies of the last four decades – doesn’t really plan on bringing democracy to the Muslim world. Instead, they think the plan is to weaken and divide the Muslim world, exploit its resources, and so on (see Kull, et al, 2007, “Muslim Public Opinion on US Policy, Attacks on Civilians and al Qaeda”).

    I want to see democracy in Iraq. Iraqis want to see democracy in Iraq. Pretty much everyone does except, maybe, for the handful of people in Iraq with the guns and the political power – on either side, in the government and fighting against the government. I don’t know if US forces in Iraq will help that happen – if the choice is between ICI, SIIR/al-Da’wa, and Mahdi, then the Iraqis don’t really have much of a choice at all. Defeat one and help the others stay in power, still not much democracy in Iraq. But, maybe it’ll work – like ICG said, if the US can pressure SIIR to reform a bit, then there’s a little more hope. Just saying “stick it out” isn’t much of a prescription as a platitude.

    Again: how many of you know, without looking it up, who the major leaders, parties, factions, etc, in Iraq are? Would you take seriously the arguments of someone who didn’t know who George Bush was, what party he belonged to, what that party stood for, who supported that party, and all the same for the opposition party? I wouldn’t. So how can you make any kind of informed decision about US policy in Iraq if you have no idea what’s going on there?

  74. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    I’ve never heard stormfront make the assertion that the “brown peoples” are incapable of democracy. In fact, the only people I have heard this from are the so-called “progressives” who say we are ramming democracy down people’s throats. I heard pretty often from that quarter of the ethnic and cultural incompatibility. I’m very glad you do not think democracy is incompatible, just not so easily accomplishable. This I also agree with.

    I know you really wish some of us were more aware of the nuances of fractional alliances in Iraq, and Im sure your right. For my part, I’d really wish you’d come out and be clear and open about where you stand on the issue of US commitment. Should we stay or should we go?

    (If we stay, would there be trouble?)
    (If we leave, would there be double?)
    (So c’mon and let me know……)

  75. another take Says:

    “I’ve never heard stormfront make the assertion that the “brown peoples” are incapable of democracy.”

    Really? Reading a lot of Stormfront lately? I haven’t been, but I assume that unreconstructed Nazis probably don’t have kind words to say about Arabs and Muslims.

    “In fact, the only people I have heard this from are the so-called “progressives” who say we are ramming democracy down people’s throats. I heard pretty often from that quarter of the ethnic and cultural incompatibility.”

    Well, I haven’t run across anyone saying that Arab culture or ethnicity are incompatible with democracy (except maybe from Andrew Sullivan, but should I expect any better from a fan of The Bell Curve?). I tend to think the bigots are the people who thought that Iraqis and other Arabs didn’t know what democracy was and needed to be shown the way by America. Cough cough Neocons cough cough reverse domino theory cough cough.

    “For my part, I’d really wish you’d come out and be clear and open about where you stand on the issue of US commitment.”

    Does it really matter whether I say? Will I change any minds? Influence any voters? Affect any policy? I’m done trying to argue for positions in a forum like this. There are two Iraqs: real Iraq, filled with real, complex human beings, and imaginary Iraq. Imaginary Iraq is like imaginary USA in which Bush is president and the rest is all details, not important enough to know. Wouldn’t it be better for everyone to argue about real Iraq? I’d rather ask questions, offer sources you probably don’t read often (ie, people in Iraq or who read Iraqi press), that sort of thing. No positions! Just questions! Very Zen. Om.

  76. grackle Says:

    Does it really matter whether I say?

    Not much, especially when the writer condescendingly berates the readers for not reading the writer’s favorite authors and arrogantly assumes the readers don’t know the answers to the writer’s infantile ‘pop quizzes’ on Iraq.

    Will I change any minds? Influence any voters?

    Again, not likely – especially since the writer sees no need to advance any arguments or delineate any coherent positions. I guess we can assume the writer doesn’t like neoconservatives and disapproves of the war. One couldn’t venture much further than that based on the writer’s offerings so far. His reasons for these opinions remain vague and incoherent. A model of persuasion he is not.

    I’m done trying to argue for positions in a forum like this.

    The problem with this statement(if only it were true!) is that the writer never argued any positions in the first place.

    No positions! Just questions! Very Zen.

    This is the type of disrespectful flippancy that must set a real Buddhist’s teeth on edge.

  77. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    another take:
    “I tend to think the bigots are the people who thought that Iraqis and other Arabs didn’t know what democracy was and needed to be shown the way by America. Cough cough Neocons cough cough reverse domino theory cough cough.”

    I dont know that there were very many people opposed to our invasion of Iraq who claimed democracy was our chief reason for invading Iraq. In fact we were being told it was all about the oil and democracy was merely an invention neocons came up with the the WMD thing failed to pan out. I dint think you can attribute that one to stormfront, I think that sentiment is the sole propriety of the left.

    Now that we’ve effectively decapitated the government, we’re pretty short on what to find as a suitable replacement. We neocons propose democracy. So far, you have no objections as to whether or not it would be comparable. In fact you have said many in the region would prefer it. Your only contention so far is that you believe we neocons fully understand that it may be lengthy, difficult and may not end up with a democracy that we like. Fine Im sure you right…

    But unless your willing to present an opinion as to what you think we should be doing, Im not sure anything you’ve mentioned here is of any real value. Do you see what Im saying? Will what you say change minds? I dont know, give it a try. You say that you are tired of trying to argue your position, yet you havent actually argued one, you’ve studiously avoided it!!

    Im willing to accept a well thought out reason no matter what. Im not guaranteed to agree with you but at least we have a dialogue, and I thought dialogue was important for those on the left.

    You see, Im afraid Zen wont do. Neither will “Free Tibet” bumperstickers. Time to come down one way or the other.

  78. Unreal Buddhist Says:

    “…arrogantly assumes the readers don’t know the answers to the writer’s infantile ‘pop quizzes’ on Iraq.”

    Well, do you? You don’t actually have to answer them – I’d have no way of telling apart an authentic answer from one looked up moments ago on wikipedia. Just wondering – and you’ll know for sure – if you know any of that.

    If the answer is “no,” then don’t get mad at me and complain about me and criticize me. I don’t care! Go learn the answers! I recommend, for those interested, that they start with a few that are very informative (for example, if you read ICG, you’ll find that they explain, in careful detail, just what SIIR/SCIRI is). Very useful!

    “The problem with this statement(if only it were true!) is that the writer never argued any positions in the first place.”

    Right. So, what part of my statement is untrue? I said: I’m done trying to advance arguments on forums like this. As in, once I did and now I’m not (hence, “done”). I haven’t! (Mostly.) What did I say that was untrue?

  79. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    Ok, I suppose Im going to have to guess what your opinion on the occupation is.

    You would be for helping the fledgling democracy, if only the current US administration was in charge and may be credited with a successful outcome.

  80. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    Im sorry, Im awful with previewing my stuff.

    You would be for helping the fledgling democracy, excuept that the current US administration is in charge and may be credited with a successful outcome.

  81. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    except!

  82. another take Says:

    “I dont know that there were very many people opposed to our invasion of Iraq who claimed democracy was our chief reason for invading Iraq. In fact we were being told it was all about the oil and democracy was merely an invention neocons came up with the the WMD thing failed to pan out. I dint think you can attribute that one to stormfront, I think that sentiment is the sole propriety of the left.”

    Um? This is something of a non sequitur. I certainly think that one of the (numerous) reasons behind the Iraq War was the reverse domino theory, which is at its core based on a fantasy. But, I think the ideas behind this reason were screwy. Only in a fantasy could neocons have believed that Arabs were so primitive that they needed to be shown the wonders of democracy by a foreign power.

    That’s part of the problem – treating foreigners as a fantasy, as objects that will do this or that, and you know this for sure without actually knowing anything about them. Read Arab media? Read public opinion polls from the Muslim world? You should!

    “Now that we’ve effectively decapitated the government, we’re pretty short on what to find as a suitable replacement.”

    Actually, no. For years now the US has had and has defended an alternative – a quasi-democracy dominated by sectarian parties/militias/former terrorists/Islamist parties without widespread support. SIIR/al-Da’wa run the show. I’d like democracy, you’d like democracy, most important the Iraqis want democracy. So how exactly does promoting and defending SIIR/al-Da’wa in power produce democracy?

    “In fact you have said many in the region would prefer it.”

    No. Not many. Overwhelming majorities. Very important! How seriously do you think those people take statements by the US government when a) they really want democracy and b) the US supports lots of dictators in the Muslim world? They don’t! We say: we’re in Iraq to bring democracy! They hear: lies! All lies! And then we go and back what most Iraqis think of as “the Persians” and they conclude: yep, not in Iraq to bring democracy, here to steal our oil, etc.

    What do the Iraqis want? I mean, isn’t that the most important thing?

  83. douglas Says:

    AT or is it UB, I’ve read up on the political spectrum in Iraq. It is indeed complex, but there are generalities that can be extracted, and whether or not my memory is sharp enough to answer your ‘pop quiz’ on the fly is irrelevant. You think that you can claim some kind of superiority by raising questions about the detail knowledge of others? I work with building code every day. I look stuff up in the code every day. Why? Because memorizing it is an unnecessary drain on my memory. I know where to look things up, I memorize a set of important markers, and the details are to be found in a book.

    Intimate knowledge of the details is sometimes indicative of a myopic view.

  84. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    another take:
    “No. Not many. Overwhelming majorities. Very important! How seriously do you think those people take statements by the US government when a) they really want democracy and b) the US supports lots of dictators in the Muslim world? They don’t! We say: we’re in Iraq to bring democracy! They hear: lies! All lies! And then we go and back what most Iraqis think of as “the Persians” and they conclude: yep, not in Iraq to bring democracy, here to steal our oil, etc. “

    Thats very valid We may not like Arab perception, but it is what it is. The problem I see is that we cant let what goes around on the “Arab street” influence what we’re trying to do in Iraq. Unless you think the only reason we’re there is to steal their oil more than we are there to shove democracy down their throats.

    I think you are attempting to throw purposeful misconceptions about neoconservative motives behind yourself in order to throw me off the chase Im having with you. You say you will not commit to an answer about whether or not we should continue our efforts there. Believe me you are doing a great job avoiding stating a position. But if we somehow actually felt we needed to invade Iraq partly to impose the white man’s version of enlightened democracy upon the savages, I suggest it would still be preferable to what would arise should we depart in haste. How would that effect perception in the Arab world? Probably more negatively that if we valued our commitments I would say.

    Im interested in hearing what you think on the matter.

  85. douglas Says:

    “I’d like democracy, you’d like democracy, most important the Iraqis want democracy.”

    Speak for yourself. I want democracy where it will cultivate societies that are willing to join the world of ‘western’ civilization. Gaza strip democracy I’m not interested in. Democracy is a tool, not an end. Ultimately, the desired end is gaining neighbors we can live with. We tried islationism, that didn’t work; we tried working with dictators so long as they were friendly, that worked, but is outdated with the end of the cold war. Now we must promote democracy in the interest of promoting the growth of pro-western, stable governments, unless you’ve got a better idea.

    “How seriously do you think those people take statements by the US government when a) they really want democracy and b) the US supports lots of dictators in the Muslim world? They don’t! We say: we’re in Iraq to bring democracy! They hear: lies! All lies! And then we go and back what most Iraqis think of as “the Persians” and they conclude: yep, not in Iraq to bring democracy, here to steal our oil, etc.”

    Perhaps that has more to do with Arab media than our actions? You should know that, what with your knowledge base and all.

    We support dictators like the Saudi Royal Family, and Mubarak because right now, the alternative (democratically or not) is Muslim extremists. WHat do you want? Consistency or stability? I opt for stability. If we can get Iraq to be a relatively stable democracy, perhaps we can put more pressure on Egypt or SA to move towards democracy. Perhaps.

  86. grackle Says:

    How seriously do you think those people take statements by the US government when a) they really want democracy and b) the US supports lots of dictators in the Muslim world?

    It helps to read history, it really does. A common theme running through the arguments of war opponents is that the US supports and has supported “dictators in the Muslim world.”

    The problem with this meme is that the proponents of this view fail to realize that until the Afghan and Iraq wars there were nothing but dictators in the Middle East to deal with – unless you count Turkey and Israel.

    Before Bush junior if you had ANY relations with Middle Eastern nations, diplomatic, trade-wise or otherwise you were dealing with groups that had come to power by force of arms. Yet the writer expects the reader to acknowledge his superiority of knowledge about the Middle East! What effrontery! What arrogance!

  87. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    Ok, I think I’m getting the pattern here. Convictions of fairness, justice and democracy in regions that are oppressed are more aptly demonstrated with sloganeering bumper stickers, while actually defending these principals with force of arms is sort-sighted and lacks nuance.

    Is that what Im supposed to take away from this?

    No, Im afraid its not convincing.

  88. another take Says:

    “Speak for yourself. I want democracy where it will cultivate societies that are willing to join the world of ‘western’ civilization. Gaza strip democracy I’m not interested in. Democracy is a tool, not an end. Ultimately, the desired end is gaining neighbors we can live with.”

    Well, that’s fairly telling. What you’re doing here is treating people as means rather than as an end – props to achieve your goals rather than as people with goals of their own. Fortunately, you don’t get to decide whether the people of Gaza or anywhere else get democracy.

    “Now we must promote democracy in the interest of promoting the growth of pro-western, stable governments, unless you’ve got a better idea.”

    No. False! For two reasons. First, very simply, respect for human dignity. Second, a little more elaborately: Arabs and Muslims will never, ever trust anything the US says or does if, on the one hand, it says it wants to spread democracy and, on the other, rejects the outcome of free elections if the results aren’t to our liking. Want to improve America’s image abroad? Then: support elections, even if you don’t like the outcome, and be consistent.

    “But if we somehow actually felt we needed to invade Iraq partly to impose the white man’s version of enlightened democracy upon the savages, I suggest it would still be preferable to what would arise should we depart in haste. How would that effect perception in the Arab world? Probably more negatively that if we valued our commitments I would say.”

    True! Arab public opinion polls have indicated that clear majorities want the US out of Iraq, though not a precipitous withdrawal. Pulling out immediate, all 100% by tomorrow, would not be perceived very well. Fortunately, no one of import suggests this. Obama, the only candidate calling for any meaningful withdrawal, would keep troops there for another 16 months after entering office and would keep a residual force there or in the region to prevent al Qaeda from forming any kind of base

    “We support dictators like the Saudi Royal Family, and Mubarak because right now, the alternative (democratically or not) is Muslim extremists.”

    Hm. Maybe in Saudi Arabia – there’s been very little in the way of civil society development, so it’s very likely that the people best organized would be fairly extreme. But Egypt? The Muslim Brotherhood? The guys who have eschewed violence for patient work for political reform despite decades of extreme repression, with little hope of actually benefiting from those reforms? There’s a serious debate going on right now in the MB – and continuing to back Mubarak’s repression out of fear of what democracy would produce helps ensure that hardliners, not reformers, will win that internal debate. Democracy! Will solve all problems.

    But, it’s also worth asking: would Egyptians, etc, really hate the US so much that some are willing to support anti-US terrorist groups if the US weren’t seen as a key reason for the continued rule of the Mubarak regime?

    “Convictions of fairness, justice and democracy in regions that are oppressed are more aptly demonstrated with sloganeering bumper stickers, while actually defending these principals with force of arms is sort-sighted and lacks nuance.”

    Hm. The hippies have “Free Tibet” stickers, you have your yellow stickers, and no one ever lifts a finger to fix anything. Tie?

    “The problem with this meme is that the proponents of this view fail to realize that until the Afghan and Iraq wars there were nothing but dictators in the Middle East to deal with – unless you count Turkey and Israel.”

    There’s a difference between dealing with a country – normal relations – and billions of dollars in aid a year, huge military sales and cooperation, etc. The citizens of those countries know the difference.

    “Perhaps that has more to do with Arab media than our actions? You should know that, what with your knowledge base and all.”

    I forgot, all journalists everywhere ever hate America and lie lie lie. How could anyone who disagreed with you ever be anything but lied to?! But, again: if the pattern of US behavior was say: yay democracy! but to do: here’s a billion dollars in weapons and aid, Mubarak, then shouldn’t an Arab be suspicious of US actions in Iraq? Especially if our biggest partners in Iraq are the not-very-nice or popular SIIR/al-Da’wa?

    “What effrontery! What arrogance!”

    I’ll fetch the smelling salts, didn’t realize I was dealing with a wilting violet.

    “Is that what Im supposed to take away from this?”

    Hm, no. Remember: Om.

  89. grackle Says:

    My previous statement:

    The problem with this meme[that the US has supported or supports dictators in the Middle East] is that the proponents of this view fail to realize that until the Afghan and Iraq wars there were nothing but dictators in the Middle East to deal with – unless you count Turkey and Israel.

    There’s a difference between dealing with a country – normal relations – and billions of dollars in aid a year, huge military sales and cooperation, etc. The citizens of those countries know the difference.

    Judging from the above exchange this writer is so ignorant that he apparently doesn’t realize that he has revealed an abysmal lack of knowledge about Middle Eastern history. And WE are supposed to subscribe to HIS reading lists – answer his feeble quizzes! But HE KNOWS, KNOWS I TELL YOU what the “citizens of those(conveniently unnamed) countries” think and feel. What rich(albeit unintended) irony.

  90. another take Says:

    “Judging from the above exchange this writer is so ignorant that he apparently doesn’t realize that he has revealed an abysmal lack of knowledge about Middle Eastern history. And WE are supposed to subscribe to HIS reading lists – answer his feeble quizzes! But HE KNOWS, KNOWS I TELL YOU what the “citizens of those(conveniently unnamed) countries” think and feel. What rich(albeit unintended) irony.”

    Perhaps I’m confused? We have normal relations with, say, China. We do not hand billions of dollars a year in aid and military financing to the Chinese government. We could also have normal relations with, say, Pakistan or Egypt or Saudi Arabia without supporting those governments. If we decide that strategic support for these governments outweighs the hatred of the US this generates in the publics of these countries, that’s one thing – but you’re not really bothering to ask the question!

    If you’re interested, here are some links to work on Arab and Muslim public opinion:

    http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/

    http://pewglobal.org/

    Shibley Telhami, et al., A Six Country Study: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia (KSA) and UAE. University of Maryland/Zogby International 2006 Annual Arab Public Opinion Survey, .

    http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/

    Mark Tessler and Michael D.H. Robbins, “What Leads Some Ordinary Arab Men and Women to Approve of Terrorist Acts Against the United States?” Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 51, No. 2, April 2007.

    Dalia Mogahed, “Framing the War on Terror.” Gallup News Service, September 11, 2007
    .

    That’s not an exhaustive list by any means, but it’s a pretty good start. I’m just drawing on info from these sources; if you disagree, please have a look.

  91. another take Says:

    Few more:

    Mark Tessler and Eleanor Gao, “Gauging Arab Support for Democracy.” Journal of Democracy, Vol. 16, No. 3 (July 2005).

    Fares al-Braizat, “Muslims and Democracy: An Empirical Critique of Fukuyama’s Culturalist Approach.” International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Vol. 43, No. 3-5 (October 2002).

    James J. Zogby, Arab Opinion on American Policies, Values and People. Testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight, and Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia, 3 May 2007 .

    Steven Kull, et al., Muslim Public Opinion on US Policy, Attacks on Civilians and al Qaeda. Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, 24 April 2007 .

  92. another take Says:

    Sorry! This format didn’t like my links. Most of them should be google-able.

  93. another take Says:

    “…answer his feeble quizzes!”

    Well, if they’re so feeble, they should be easy to answer, no? I’m not an expert – far from it! My secret is: what little I do know has been gleaned by reading stuff written by people who know what they’re talking about. All I did was suggest you try it; then those feeble quizzes would be a snap!

  94. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    So, is another take officially taking a position, and is that position the one Barak Obama has taken. 16 moths of continued occupation and then withdrawal to some unspecified location outside Iraq. Is that contingent upon political process within the Iraqi government?

  95. douglas Says:

    “Well, that’s fairly telling. What you’re doing here is treating people as means rather than as an end – props to achieve your goals rather than as people with goals of their own. Fortunately, you don’t get to decide whether the people of Gaza or anywhere else get democracy.”

    Nice try to polarize something that is infinite in it’s shading. People are people. One on one, we treat each other as equals. In the dealings of nations and societies, it’s a little different by necessity. In some context, people may be tools, depending on how you look at it. That’s just reality, sorry.

    So are you implying that what matters is democracy, not the outcome? If most of the world tomorrow voted in fair elections and decided to enact sharia states across 3/4 of the earth, you think that’d be a good thing? Let’s not kid here- democracy, in and of itself is not a goal, no matter how many exclamation points you put after it. It is a tool that helps to give voice to those otherwise voiceless masses, but sometimes they want to elect Hitlers. Is that a good outcome in your book?

    “Now we must promote democracy in the interest of promoting the growth of pro-western, stable governments, unless you’ve got a better idea.”

    No. False! For two reasons. First, very simply, respect for human dignity. Second, a little more elaborately: Arabs and Muslims will never, ever trust anything the US says or does if, on the one hand, it says it wants to spread democracy and, on the other, rejects the outcome of free elections if the results aren’t to our liking. Want to improve America’s image abroad? Then: support elections, even if you don’t like the outcome, and be consistent.

    Respect for human dignity? Supporting the right of people to democratically elect an oppressive band of thugs like Hamas is what it’s all about?

    Our ‘image’ isn’t improved by weakening our position in the world, our image is improved by maintaining and humanely asserting our position as the world leader, and promoting the sort of democratic order that brought us such prosperity and stability. The great movements forward in humanity came when a group in power voluntarily yielded some of that power to weaker groups; abolition of slavery, sufferage, civil rights. Likewise, as we maintain power but do not wield it to our own benefit at the expense of others (stealing oil) we will be seen in a more positive light. This is not an ad campaign and results don’t solidify in a matter of months- it’ll be years. The relationships we bulid in Iraq today will go a long way toward changing perceptions in the Middle East- much further than your empty notions of “Democracy!”.

    The media in the Arab world can spread rumors of American meddling and manipulating all it wants, but if the reality on the ground differs from that, people start to see through the propaganda. It’s happening to some extent in Iraq- In Anbar, where we went from being the enemy that must be expelled to a trusted tribe that should be made alliance with to expel al Qaeda.

    “But Egypt? The Muslim Brotherhood? The guys who have eschewed violence for patient work for political reform despite decades of extreme repression, with little hope of actually benefiting from those reforms? There’s a serious debate going on right now in the MB – and continuing to back Mubarak’s repression out of fear of what democracy would produce helps ensure that hardliners, not reformers, will win that internal debate. Democracy! Will solve all problems.”

    Muslim Brotherhood woke up and realized that they couldn’t terrorize their way to power in a dictatorial state like Egypt, and realized that they could get a lot of people who might not otherwise to support them because they were pursuing democratic means to dislodge Mubarek and take control. It’s much like Hamas in Gaza. I’m not for it, sorry. They haven’t eschewed Jihad, they’ve transformed it. Again, democracy is not an end, it’s a tool, a process. It is not inherently good or bad- but it’s results may be either. We need to see some change in perceptions of fundamentalism in the Islamic world before we can support democratic reforms.

    “I forgot, all journalists everywhere ever hate America and lie lie lie. How could anyone who disagreed with you ever be anything but lied to?! But, again: if the pattern of US behavior was say: yay democracy! but to do: here’s a billion dollars in weapons and aid, Mubarak, then shouldn’t an Arab be suspicious of US actions in Iraq? Especially if our biggest partners in Iraq are the not-very-nice or popular SIIR/al-Da’wa?”

    Well, if you don’t think the Arab media lie, you obviously don’t read it. Look, in a culture still based on persuasion, not truth, there is no journalistic integrity as we know it- it’s a foreign concept. The preposterous ‘blood libel’ story still pops up from time to time. It’s hardly idiosyncratic, unfortunately. But well read as you are, you already know that, right?

    As for the billions in aid, that’s largely a remnant from the cold war. At the time, when the Soviets were trying diligently to build client states in the Middle East, it was imperative for us to build alliances that denied them the opportunity. Since we built those relationships, I think it would be unwise to simply toss them aside for “Democracy!” whatever that means. If you have a better, more comprehensive plan, I’m all ears. In the meantime, yes, we continue to support Mubarak, at least at some minimal level.

    Besides, from the Pew Research Center, which you seem to think we don’t already read: “Causes of Anti-Americanism:
    There are a number of factors driving anti-Americanism around the world. Among Muslims, first and foremost is thinking that American policy is too supportive of Israel at the expense of Palestine.”

    The truth is that until Muslims get over the desire to eliminate Israel, and we continue to believe Israel has a right to exist, there is going to be some effect on our perception in the Middle East. So be it.

    Hmm, “not-very-nice or popular SIIR/al-Da’wa?”?
    As compared to whom? Certainly some support them others do not- that’s politics for you. I thought you were in favor of democracy? Perhaps there is another party that the U.S. could support? Or we should just support “Democracy!”? Whatever that means.

    “What Leads Some Ordinary Arab Men and Women to Approve of Terrorist Acts Against the United States?”
    Well, the Koran for one. Perhaps you should add that to your reading list. Also, it might interest you to note that numbers that find suicide bombing acts acceptable has decreased in many areas of the Muslim world in the last 5 years. How about that.

    “what little I do know has been gleaned by reading stuff written by people who know what they’re talking about. All I did was suggest you try it; then those feeble quizzes would be a snap!”

    Perhaps we read people who also know what they’re talking about, and who are interested in more than your myopic snap quizzes. Most of us already read your sources, but I doubt you’re reading much of what we do.

  96. grackle Says:

    Another Take wonders:

    Perhaps I’m confused?

    I’ll say! First this misguided fellow takes the US to task because “… the US supports lots of dictators in the Muslim world …” When I point out that if the US supports or has supported ANY Middle Eastern nation that the US has necessarily supported dictators since historically there have been practically no other kind with the exceptions of Turkey and Israel it GOES COMPLETELY OVER HIS HEAD and he doesn’t even realize he’s been prawned!

    One wonders what this fellow would have the US to do – support NO nations in the Middle East at all? To put it another way, just so even he cannot misunderstand: To criticize the US for supporting Middle Eastern dictators is nonsensical since until the Afghan and Iraq wars there were practically NO OTHER KIND in the Middle East.

    And mind you HE persists in giving US reading lists!? His ignorance, his very denseness boggles the mind!

  97. grackle Says:

    You stumble over this type of thinking all the time in anti-war opinion:

    Due to ‘polls’ of the average Iraqi/Afghani/etc., opinion pieces by US-hating/terrorist sympathizing authors or pseudo-scientific sociology-based ‘studies’ by degreed airheads it is avidly asserted that the US is ‘not wanted’ in these places and that ‘the people’ hate/dislike/feel revulsion for/have anxiety about … a US ‘presence’ in these areas.

    The only problem with this type of critique is that the RULERS of these countries seem to like a US presence just fine, thank you very much. And that if any of the ‘people’ in these places have a chance to vote in a free, fair, democratic ELECTION they always seem to elect leaders that very much favor a US presence. Strange, is it not?

    How could this be? Surely all these left-wing US-hating authors, poll-takers and sociologists couldn’t be WRONG, could they? After all, they have degrees, write articles and reside in the Groves of Academe – THAT alone should give weight to their ‘studies’ and opinions, shouldn’t it? Surely they wouldn’t be biased or have agendas to promote or templates to fit events into or narratives to further … would they?

  98. douglas Says:

    It’ll be interesting to see if Musharraf holds together a majority block in Pakistan. Despite some projections, he well might, and legitimately. That would lend credence to your argument, Grackle.

  99. another take Says:

    “So, is another take officially taking a position, and is that position the one Barak Obama has taken. 16 moths of continued occupation and then withdrawal to some unspecified location outside Iraq.”

    Nope! Just pointing out that public opinion polling shows widespread support for a non-precipitous withdrawal of US troops among Arab publics, and that no US political candidate is calling for a precipitous withdrawal.

    “When I point out that if the US supports or has supported ANY Middle Eastern nation that the US has necessarily supported dictators since historically there have been practically no other kind with the exceptions of Turkey and Israel it GOES COMPLETELY OVER HIS HEAD and he doesn’t even realize he’s been prawned!”

    Actually, you still haven’t explained (or even tried to explain) why the US needed to support, rather than simply have relations with, the dictatorships of the Muslim world. You do understand the difference between normal relationships between two states, on the one hand, and massive economic and military aid, on the other, don’t you? I’d feel a little more “prawned” (when did that become a word? I must be getting old) if you could do this.

    “One wonders what this fellow would have the US to do – support NO nations in the Middle East at all?”

    Again, does the simple fact that they’re nations in the Middle East demand that we support them? You’re not making a whole lot of sense. Turkey got lots of aid because it’s a NATO ally. But Egypt? Jordan? Saudi Arabia? Pakistan? These are all dictatorships we chose to support out of strategic concerns. I was just pointing out (raising the question) that there is no real public debate about the costs of that support.

    Or did you think that, 40 years ago, the US thought to itself “I really must support some Arab and Muslim countries! For no good reason!” and then, on finding nothing but dictatorships, thought to itself “oh well, I guess I’ll have to support those dictatorships for no good reason, for there is naught else here to support!”? Perhaps you’re not a native English speaker, and you’re confused as to the distinction?

    “The only problem with this type of critique is that the RULERS of these countries seem to like a US presence just fine, thank you very much. And that if any of the ‘people’ in these places have a chance to vote in a free, fair, democratic ELECTION they always seem to elect leaders that very much favor a US presence. Strange, is it not?”

    Could it be – and I’m only speculating here – that if the people of the Muslim world don’t particularly like their rulers (which makes sense, as those rulers are typically brutal dictators), and those rulers are seen as having close relationships with and receiving support from the US, then the US would be associated with a highly unpopular, undemocratic status quo, and that the victors in free and fair elections in those countries would tend to reject the US because of our association with that unpopular, undemocratic status quo? Just a thought!

    “And mind you HE persists in giving US reading lists!? His ignorance, his very denseness boggles the mind!”

    “your myopic snap quizzes.”

    All I did was ask a few questions to see what the general level of knowledge was, raise the point that issues in Iraq are far more complex than you make them out to be, and offer some sources of information from those curious. Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know the answers! (Which I’m guessing you don’t.) Most people don’t! I certainly, as I said, am no expert on Iraq. But if you have a problem with things like “asking questions” and “learning new things,” then you’re really not about to get under my skin by calling me dense or myopic. Either you’re interested enough to look into the issues a little more deeply (my goal!) or you really don’t care to learn more because a big old scary mean lefty suggested the links.

    “Due to ‘polls’ of the average Iraqi/Afghani/etc., opinion pieces by US-hating/terrorist sympathizing authors or pseudo-scientific sociology-based ‘studies’ by degreed airheads it is avidly asserted that the US is ‘not wanted’ in these places and that ‘the people’ hate/dislike/feel revulsion for/have anxiety about … a US ‘presence’ in these areas.”

    Well, I guess we find ourselves in an epistemological conundrum! If you dismiss out of hand the findings of anyone actually engaged in the study of these issues, then it becomes tremendously difficult to know anything about these issues, does it not?

    All I did was point out a general lack of knowledge of some of these issues (esp. Iraq) and offer an opportunity for those of you who are clearly interested in these issues to learn more about them. Your hostility to learning more speaks volumes about why the debate on Iraq (and so many other issues) remains frozen where it has been for so long.

    PS – In English, the adjective for a resident of Afghanistan is “Afghan,” rather than “Afghani.” Though “Afghani” is the term used by Dari speakers, and “Afghan” derives from Pushtun, “Afghan” is the accepted term in English, while “Afghani” refers to their currency.

  100. another take Says:

    “It’ll be interesting to see if Musharraf holds together a majority block in Pakistan. Despite some projections, he well might, and legitimately. That would lend credence to your argument, Grackle.”

    From today’s Washington Post:

    “Voters in Pakistan appeared to deliver a sharp rebuke to President Pervez Musharraf on Monday, handing significant victories to the country’s two leading opposition parties in parliamentary elections, according to early returns and Pakistani politicians.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/18/AR2008021800830.html

    It should be no surprise that in an election – even one as manipulated as this – that a hugely unpopular dictator be handed defeat. That’s sort of how these things work, no?

  101. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    another take:
    “Just pointing out that public opinion polling shows widespread support for a non-precipitous withdrawal of US troops among Arab publics, and that no US political candidate is calling for a precipitous withdrawal.”

    So what, at long last, is your position on the occupation? Why is that so difficult to answer?

  102. grackle Says:

    It wasn’t so very long ago that various US-hating, left-wing Bush Derangement Syndrome victims, highly placed in Academe, liberal newspapers, liberal magazines, left-wing think tanks, and even some seats in Congress, were busily and fervently claiming that the Iraqi ‘people’ did not want a US ‘presence.’

    Then came the elections and the Iraqi ‘people’ promptly and joyously, in the face of dire threats from various US-hating groups in their region, with blue-stained fingers smilingly held high for the cameras, voted to KEEP the US ‘presence.’ Strange, is it not? One ‘expert’ group studies, polls, opines and pontificates and another group irrevocably destroys the studies, poll results, opinions and pontifications of the ‘experts,’ which are then promptly thrown down the old convenient left-wing memory-hole.

    I guess I need to point out that there is no US ‘presence’ in Pakistan.

    But there’s a larger issue hidden herein. And that is(get out the smelling salts) that I should care a hoot in Hell whether any average environ of the Middle East ‘wants’ a US ‘presence’ – that Arab, Sunni, Shiite, Wahabe, Persian, Kurdish, etc. opinion should determine US foreign policy. I think not. I want my President to be looking out for American interests, not cravenly bowing to the half-baked, frequently falsified polls and opinions of others.

    Individuals such as Another Take would have had the US to have left the Middle East to the Soviets during the Cold War. The Communists would have been allowed to “support” any number of tin-pot Middle Eastern dictators and that would have suited Another Take just fine but the US, oh no. Can we say “double standard,” class?

    They would now have the US leave the Middle East to the Jihadists. Not if I can help it. Today is the first day of early voting where I live. My lever-finger is itching and my eyes will be looking for the name “McCain.”

  103. Gray Says:

    Another Take: “These are all dictatorships we chose to support out of strategic concerns.”

    OK, so what’s the problem?

  104. grackle Says:

    It’ll be interesting to see if Musharraf holds together a majority block in Pakistan. Despite some projections, he well might, and legitimately. That would lend credence to your argument, Grackle.

    I’ve never offered an argument that projected a Musharraf victory. I have merely contended that left-wing organs are frequently wrong about Middle Eastern opinion and have offered a corollary personal notion that such opinion, whatever it might be – pro or con, should never be a guiding force in US foreign policy.

    In fact, I’ll offer another thought that is sure to send Another Take and his ilk into fits of paroxysm. And that is that I should be unconcerned, even GLAD, when certain elements overseas and at home are the most angry at the US, or Bush, or Halliburton, etc.

    These folks are the most angry and worried when the US is looking out for its own interests in a vigorous and intelligent manner. They are happiest and most content when they perceive that the US is suffering some sort of defeat.

    A US ally defeated in Pakistan? Another take couldn’t be more pleased: ”That’s sort of how these things work, no?” Elements antagonistic to the US in Pakistan may now gain access to WMD and that circumstance may allow some terrorist group to get its hands on WMD. Another Take must be purring like a kitten drinking milk.

  105. another take Says:

    douglas,

    If you’re interested in the Muslim Brotherhood, can I recommend a few things you might find…interesting?

    “Islamism in North Africa II: Egypt’s Opportunity,” International Crisis Group, 20 April 2004

    http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=3713&l=1

    “Young Brothers in Cyberspace,” Marc Lynch

    http://www.merip.org/mer/mer245/lynch.html

    Marc Lynch, “The Brotherhood’s Dilemma,” January 2008, Middle East Brief 25

    http://www.brandeis.edu/crown/publications1/meb/MEB25.pdf

  106. another take Says:

    “Another Take: “These are all dictatorships we chose to support out of strategic concerns.”

    OK, so what’s the problem?”

    Just asking the question – do the strategic benefits outweigh the strategic costs? Has anyone bothered to do a cost/benefit analysis, or simply assumed that these policies are totally cost-free?

  107. another take Says:

    “They would now have the US leave the Middle East to the Jihadists.”

    Hm, well, considering that the vast majority of Muslims (and in this I’m simply referring to the public opinion data I linked to earlier) reject al Qaeda’s goals, support democracy, and disapprove of terrorism, chances of this happening seem unlikely.

    “In fact, I’ll offer another thought that is sure to send Another Take and his ilk into fits of paroxysm. And that is that I should be unconcerned, even GLAD, when certain elements overseas and at home are the most angry at the US, or Bush, or Halliburton, etc.”

    Hm, no. You have confused trying to figure out why people dislike the US (which I believe has real strategic implications) with wanting people to dislike the US. I’m not sure how one makes such a mistake! The two things are very different.

    “A US ally defeated in Pakistan? Another take couldn’t be more pleased: ”That’s sort of how these things work, no?” Elements antagonistic to the US in Pakistan may now gain access to WMD and that circumstance may allow some terrorist group to get its hands on WMD.”

    Hm, I’m glad that the people of Pakistan (well, about 35% of the electorate) got to vote in an election that was free and fair enough to throw out a dictator who probably did far more harm to US interests in Pakistan than good. I love democracy! It’s great. But beyond that: who, exactly, are you worried about gaining access to those WMD? Which of the parties that won today? Do you have any idea? If not, it’s ok – you don’t have to admit it to me! Go look it up on wikipedia and pretend you know it. Learning is awesome!

    “These folks are the most angry and worried when the US is looking out for its own interests in a vigorous and intelligent manner. They are happiest and most content when they perceive that the US is suffering some sort of defeat.”

    It’s certainly possible that lots of people hate America for no good reason. But, public opinion polling among Muslim populations is pretty clear: large majorities love our culture, educational system, movies, democracy, science and technology, people, etc. They are also pretty clear that they hate our policies towards Muslims. Again – just reporting what I read on those sites I referenced! Maybe they’re all liars, or every Muslim they polled is also a liar. I doubt it! But maybe a racist wouldn’t.

    Now, I fully suspect that lots of US policies are seen through a distorted lens, that US actions are often perceived via a narrative that paints all of our actions in the Muslim world as part of a grand strategy to conquer and exploit them. But, this raises the question – where does that distortion come from? Maybe some of our policies do make people mad! I’d be mad if I lived under a dictatorship propped up with billions of dollars in US aid. Wouldn’t you? I hope so!

    “But there’s a larger issue hidden herein. And that is(get out the smelling salts) that I should care a hoot in Hell whether any average environ of the Middle East ‘wants’ a US ‘presence’ – that Arab, Sunni, Shiite, Wahabe, Persian, Kurdish, etc. opinion should determine US foreign policy. I think not. I want my President to be looking out for American interests, not cravenly bowing to the half-baked, frequently falsified polls and opinions of others.”

    White man’s burden and all that, old chum?

  108. Gray Says:

    Now, I fully suspect that lots of US policies are seen through a distorted lens, that US actions are often perceived via a narrative that paints all of our actions in the Muslim world as part of a grand strategy to conquer and exploit them. But, this raises the question – where does that distortion come from?

    Well, mostly from organizations like the crack-pot sites you keep posting here, Skippy.

  109. another take Says:

    I’m curious – do you think that Muslims around the world get their information primarily from English-language sources based in the US? I tend to find this concept puzzling. It reminds me of the great kerfluffles over things like Abu Ghraib, with much gnashing of the teeth about how any news source that published photos was hurting America, were traitors, etc. Don’t you realize that Muslims, you know, talk to each other? Have their own news sources? Acting as if they don’t, again, sort of hints at an attitude that treats them as objects rather than as human beings.

    I’m also curious! How do you know these sources are crackpot? Have you read any of them? I suggest: you read them and report back to me on whether they’re crackpot. Chop chop!

  110. grackle Says:

    It’s not surprising that Another Take plays the Race Card – it’s a favorite device of the left – the only surprise is that he’s waited this long to lay it on the table – and sometimes they even play it against each other, as Senator Clinton is finding out nowadays.

    I have another opinion to offer that’s sure to be controversial to someone of Another Take’s persuasion. More accusations of racism are sure to come my way for this next heresy. It is this: Opinion polls taken in regions where you can be lashed or even executed for saying the wrong thing are as worthless as tits on a boar hog.

    It’s not like the ‘pollsters’ are trying to find out the opinion of a middle-class matron in Scarsdale about a new brand of toothpaste. No, the ‘pollsters’ are seeking political opinion in regions that stone women who have the bad luck to be raped, mutilate without anesthesia the genitals of prepubescent females, jail women who have coffee at the local Starbucks with a male not of their family, execute apostates to Islam and behead those with the temerity to ‘insult’ Mohammed.

    I submit that one is not apt to be very truthful to ‘pollsters’ in those very touchy areas of the world. I think one would understandably be prone to tell the pollster/stringer/stranger/translator whatever one would think they want to hear. If you casually offer a controversial opinion in THAT part of the world you might find yourself pushing up daisies in a very short period of time.

  111. Gray Says:

    I’m curious – do you think that Muslims around the world get their information primarily from English-language sources based in the US?

    I read lots of arab media–it’s certainly not a free press, and it doesn’t really represent the ideas of the average ME inhabitant. Why do you like arab state propaganda so much?

    I tend to find this concept puzzling. It reminds me of the great kerfluffles over things like Abu Ghraib, with much gnashing of the teeth about how any news source that published photos was hurting America, were traitors, etc. Don’t you realize that Muslims, you know, talk to each other?

    Do you know what they were actually saying to each other? No, you don’t; ‘cuz you read the propaganda.

    They had a laugh over it, as my pal told me on returning from a combat tour in Iraq:

    Iraqis in the market: “How come those guys got the ‘nice’ torture? Hahahahah” “My uncle got dipped in acid in Abu Ghraib under Saddam and these guys get naked with a woman? Hahahah!”

    Have their own news sources? Acting as if they don’t, again, sort of hints at an attitude that treats them as objects rather than as human beings.

    No, the average ME inhabitant does not have their own new sources, just competing factional propaganda.

    Go read the arab and Iraqi blogs and stay away from the weird-ass ‘crisis group’ and ‘Middle East Report” Hamas propaganda.

    I’m also curious! How do you know these sources are crackpot? Have you read any of them? I suggest: you read them and report back to me on whether they’re crackpot. Chop chop!

    Yeah, I read them: to get the crackpot view so that I can recognize it when some condescending, narrow-minded, lefty starts parroting it.

  112. another take Says:

    “I read lots of arab media–it’s certainly not a free press, and it doesn’t really represent the ideas of the average ME inhabitant. Why do you like arab state propaganda so much?”

    Hm. I’m not so sure you know what you’re talking about here! One of the major events of the last decade in the Middle East has been the opening of media discourse. State propaganda hasn’t dominated Arab media in years. Maybe you just haven’t checked it out in a decade?

    “Go read the arab and Iraqi blogs and stay away from the weird-ass ‘crisis group’ and ‘Middle East Report” Hamas propaganda.”

    Hm. I don’t really know how to respond to this. Are you sure you’re not a parody?

  113. another take Says:

    Here, for example, from the exec sum of an ICG report on Afghanistan:

    “Afghanistan is not lost but the signs are not good. Its growing insurgency reflects a collective failure to tackle the root causes of violence. Six years after the Taliban’s ouster, the international community lacks a common diagnosis of what is needed to stabilise the country as well as a common set of objectives. Long-term improvement of institutions is vital for both state building and counter-insurgency, but without a more strategic approach, the increased attention and resources now directed at quelling the conflict could even prove counterproductive by furthering a tendency to seek quick fixes. Growing tensions over burden sharing risk undermining the very foundations of multilateralism, including NATO’s future. The U.S., which is demanding more commitment by allies, must realise that its unilateral actions weaken the will of others. At the same time, those sniping from the sidelines need to recognise that the Afghan intervention is ultimately about global security and do more.”

    A sober look at the situation – gasp!

    Policy recommendations on how to achieve victory in Afghanistan – oh my!

    A call for greater resolve in the international community to stabilize Afghanistan and defeat the Taliban – good heavens!

    How weird-ass!

  114. Gray Says:

    ICG report on Afghanistan:

    Oh come on….

    ICG is headed by “Gareth Gareth Evans” as he was called when he was lobbying for Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s job as UN Poobah.

    Did you miss the 80’s?

    As Australian Foreign Minister, he crapped on Reagan and Papa Bush while cozying up to China and the Soviets. Didn’t he also get into some kind of scandal for porking some nutsy Aussie chick senator?

    He’s now found a way to be important and fleece corporations and the UN as an NGO….

    Like he used to service the Soviets and Chicoms, he now orally services the mullahs and jihadists:

    Gareth Gareth Evans on Iranian nukes in the Washington Compost:

    “Unconditional negotiations aimed at achieving “delayed limited enrichment with maximum safeguards” rather than the failed policy of “zero enrichment” can produce a win-win outcome. Such negotiations won’t be easy to start or conclude, given the parties’ long-held public positions. But if the objective is to ensure that Iran won’t backslide and be newly tempted to go down the nuclear weapons road, this is the only way to go. ”

    Thanks, Gareth…. Isn’t that how the Norks got their Nukes from Mad Madalein Albright the Butcher of Belgrade?

    Your information sources are crap.

  115. another take Says:

    “Washington Compost”

    Oh, that’s clever!

    “Madalein Albright the Butcher of Belgrade?”

    Hm. Are you suggesting it was a shame to use force to stop attempted genocide in Bosnia? How does this relate to your support for the US of force to stop attempted genocide in Iraq? Is it dependent on which party controls the White House at the time of the genocide?

    Oh well. I thought all of you would be interested in this stuff! I mean, you talk talk talk about Iraq all day long, it must be on your mind a lot, but you really don’t seem all that interested in learning much about it. It’s a shame!

    For anyone interested (Gray, cover your eyes so you don’t catch idea-cooties by seeing this), here’s a report from ICG on Iraqi insurgent media:

    http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=3953&CFID=36606085&CFTOKEN=43357011

    And here’s a report from RFE/RL on the same topic:

    http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/06/830debc3-e399-4fa3-981c-cc44badae1a8.html

    Enjoy!

  116. another take Says:

    Also! I’m a little disappointed in you people! Isn’t this the blog of someone who made the conversion from liberal to not-liberal? Aren’t you supposed to try to win me over, convert me? Where’s the proselytizing? I mean, we obviously have common interests! How will you ever win more converts if you’re big meanie heads to anyone who comes in here disagreeing with you? Woo me! Seduce me! Rhetoricize me! If she can do it, then can’t any filthy hippie?

  117. another take Says:

    PS – Gray, I’m curious – did you know all that about ICG already or did you look it up just now to confirm what you already assumed? I tend not to really care who the president of a think tank is (usually a pretty ceremonial post – like university president) and tend to care more about how useful or informative their product is. One can disagree with the conclusions of one of their reports (Lord knows I don’t agree with everything ICG recommends!) and still learn something from their careful, on-the-ground reporting.

  118. Gray Says:

    From the Crisisgroup link:

    In Iraq, the U.S. fights an enemy it hardly knows. Its descriptions have relied on gross approximations and crude categories (Saddamists, Islamo-fascists and the like) that bear only passing resemblance to reality.

    Oh bullshit.

    I assure you. The Military Intelligence on the ground over there knows very well who the enemy is, it’s descriptions and precise individuals and tactics.

    This report, based on close analysis of the insurgents’ own discourse, reveals relatively few groups, less divided between nationalists and foreign jihadis than assumed, whose strategy and tactics have evolved (in response to U.S. actions and to maximise acceptance by Sunni Arabs), and whose confidence in defeating the occupation is rising.

    More bullshit. You can tell which side they are on when they use the word ‘occupation’.

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (which I am more well disposed towards) disagrees:

    Kimmage and Ridolfo argue that the loss of coordination and message control that results from decentralization has revealed fundamental disagreements about Iraq’s present and future between nationalist and global jihadist groups in Iraq and that these disagreements are ripe for exploitation by those interested in a liberal and democratic Iraq.

    Sounds like it’s not ‘an enemy we hardly know’….

    Did you even notice that your sources contradict each other? Or is that more of the ‘nuance’ stuff you are congratulating yourself for?

  119. stumbley Says:

    AT:

    I prefer the “careful, on-the-ground reporting” of Omar and Mohammed Fadil, Michael Totten and Michael Yon, as well as John Tammes, and (previously) Bill Roggio and Bill Ardolino.

    Aside from informing us that we don’t know anything and that our sources are useless (but yours are impeccable), what’s the point of your posting here, since you are—by your own admission—not offering any answers, but only questions. We all have questions. You seem only to be interested in hogging bandwidth and telling us we’re all goofballs.

    Are you sure you’re not one of our resident trolls?

  120. another take Says:

    “More bullshit. You can tell which side they are on when they use the word ‘occupation’.”

    “harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    Ok, I suppose Im going to have to guess what your opinion on the occupation is.”

    Warning! Warning! You have a traitor in your midst!

  121. Gray Says:

    PS – Gray, I’m curious – did you know all that about ICG already or did you look it up just now to confirm what you already assumed?

    I’ve seen other leftists bandy them about to prove some “US is bad/losing/clueless/occupiers” point.

    I tend not to really care who the president of a think tank is (usually a pretty ceremonial post – like university president) and tend to care more about how useful or informative their product is.

    You don’t look very deeply into your sources and their biases and it shows. You should be more discerning.

    One can disagree with the conclusions of one of their reports (Lord knows I don’t agree with everything ICG recommends!)

    Their conclusions are biased toward whatever will get them more money from the UN and their donors.

    and still learn something from their careful, on-the-ground reporting.

    It’s neither careful nor on-the-ground.

  122. another take Says:

    “Did you even notice that your sources contradict each other?”

    Heavens! I guess they cancel each other out and you shouldn’t read either. Or, read both (and maybe more!) and try (as best any of us can) to figure it out.

    “I prefer the “careful, on-the-ground reporting” of Omar and Mohammed Fadil, Michael Totten and Michael Yon, as well as John Tammes, and (previously) Bill Roggio and Bill Ardolino.”

    I read Totten, but don’t have a lot of time to read others. Most of my stuff is non-bloggy.

  123. another take Says:

    “The occupation will end, and Iraqis will govern their own affairs.”

    President Bush, May 24, 2004
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/05/20040524-10.html

    What happens when you catch someone as high up as the president using a verybadtreasonword like “occupation”? Who’s the next up the chain of command? Someone had better call Jesus!

  124. another take Says:

    ” This report, based on close analysis of the insurgents’ own discourse, reveals relatively few groups, less divided between nationalists and foreign jihadis than assumed, whose strategy and tactics have evolved (in response to U.S. actions and to maximise acceptance by Sunni Arabs), and whose confidence in defeating the occupation is rising.

    More bullshit. You can tell which side they are on when they use the word ‘occupation’.”

    I’m actually kind of confused by this, actually. If they had written, “the sky is blue,” would you call bullshit on that? I mean, is this a case of knee-jerk contrarianism? What are they saying that’s so objectionable? That there are relatively few insurgent groups? That there’s less division between foreign fighters and Iraqi nationals than is commonly thought? That they adapt their tactics, or that they would try to cultivate support? I mean, really, what’s so bad about any of that? If you disagree with a conclusion, I’d love to hear about it! Please make a case. “Bullshit” is not a case. It’s pottymouth!

  125. Gray Says:

    I read Totten, but don’t have a lot of time to read others. Most of my stuff is non-bloggy.

    So as I said, you are a consumer of big state and organization propaganda.

    It’s a bloggy world–you are still living in World 1.0.

    You like to be spoon-fed.

  126. Gray Says:

    What are they saying that’s so objectionable? That there are relatively few insurgent groups? That there’s less division between foreign fighters and Iraqi nationals than is commonly thought? That they adapt their tactics, or that they would try to cultivate support? I mean, really, what’s so bad about any of that? If you disagree with a conclusion, I’d love to hear about it! Please make a case.

    See your own stupid link for the case:

    http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/06/830debc3-e399-4fa3-981c-cc44badae1a8.html

    “Occupation” is a lefty/jehadi code word–like the “Israeli Occupation of Palestine”.

    With Bush’s demonstrated extraordinary oratory abilities and extemporaneous speaking ability, I’m amazed he used the word.

    If you think about it, if it ends, it’s not an ‘occupation’, it’s a ‘visit’….

  127. Gray Says:

    Who’s the next up the chain of command? Someone had better call Jesus!

    Yeah, it’s another troll debating in bad faith.

  128. douglas Says:

    “Just asking the question – do the strategic benefits outweigh the strategic costs? Has anyone bothered to do a cost/benefit analysis, or simply assumed that these policies are totally cost-free?”

    You expect us to read your links (as if we don’t, either directly or indirectly already), when you don’t even read all the posts here? Go back to my 18 Feb 11:46pm post. The analysis has been done, by we the informed and more importantly, those determining U.S. foreign policy. Thankfully, they don’t seem to see things the way you do. Or perhaps they too are woefully uninformed as we poor souls here, unlike you the enlightened one? Puhleeeze.

    “another take Says:
    February 19th, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    “They would now have the US leave the Middle East to the Jihadists.”

    Hm, well, considering that the vast majority of Muslims (and in this I’m simply referring to the public opinion data I linked to earlier) reject al Qaeda’s goals, support democracy, and disapprove of terrorism, chances of this happening seem unlikely. “

    Really? You earlier agreed with me that it was a genuine concern in SA. Somehow it’s magically not a concern elsewhere in the ME? As if what the majority of Muslims wanted determined anything anywhere else in the ME until now? Get over yourself.

    “Hm, I’m glad that the people of Pakistan (well, about 35% of the electorate) got to vote in an election that was free and fair enough to throw out a dictator who probably did far more harm to US interests in Pakistan than good. I love democracy!”

    Well, I for one will wait for not only the official results and reports on the election by observers, I’m also going to wait for the inevitable coalition building to form up. No one got a majority, and while some posit that PPP and PML-N will join up, it’s no certainty. Musharraf may still manage to keep himself in power- he’s been pretty good at it thus far. I also think your description of him as “hated” is a bit over the top. He was quite popular not so long ago as he dramatically reduced corruption and cronyism. He’s taken heat lately, party because of us, but also for other reasons. The turnout was rather low by comparison to previous elections- I wonder about that too. It’s more complex than you seem to undertand. Wait- I’m starting to sound like you!

    I’ve had enough. Until you go read a few more sources to diversify your knowledge base, I’ll have no more lecturing from you when you have no idea what I read. You’re just here to antagonize anyway.

  129. another take Says:

    “Really? You earlier agreed with me that it was a genuine concern in SA. Somehow it’s magically not a concern elsewhere in the ME?”

    Hm, no. When the Saudis experimented with municipal elections, the people who were winning weren’t very warm to the US or the Saudi monarchy. They were hardly “jihadists.”

    “No one got a majority, and while some posit that PPP and PML-N will join up, it’s no certainty.”

    Hurray! Either you knew about Pakistani politics, which makes me happy that someone here is paying attention, or you wanted to impress me and looked it up today, in which case: Mission Accomplished!

    Oh! I remembered. I wanted to go back to something you said earlier:

    “Well, the Koran for one.”

    So, maybe Muslims are robots who commit violence because they downloaded their violent programming from the Qur’an. But, that does not compute! If only a very small number of Muslims are committing violence, then what about all the other Muslims who downloaded their programming have read the Qur’an? And what about non-Muslims who commit violence? I mean, they can’t all have read the Qur’an! Maybe something more complex is at play?

    Actually, Mark Tessler at the University of Michigan, analyzing survey from Algeria and Jordan, found no correlation between support for terrorism and religiosity. Likewise, Dalia Mogahed at Gallup, analyzing the Gallup World Poll, found that the roughly 7% of the world’s Muslims who are both hostile to the US and believe the 9/11 was fully justified show no differences in religiosity from the rest of the population. They are, however, better educated, wealthier, and support democracy at higher rates than does the general population.

    Interesting! To the max!

  130. another take Says:

    “You’re just here to antagonize anyway.”

    No! Just trying to stay cheerful.

  131. grackle Says:

    One of the major events of the last decade in the Middle East has been the opening of media discourse. State propaganda hasn’t dominated Arab media in years.

    I’m sure Another Take is fluent in Middle Eastern languages and regularly reads and listens to “Arab media” all the time. I also love to purchase swampland in Florida, own a deed to the Brooklyn Bridge and often draw to inside straights.

    Seriously though, if the Arab media is only as biased as Western Mainstream Media the Arab ‘people’ would still have a problem of perception. One of Neoneocon’s latest posts Sympathy for the terrorist? is illustrative of the problem. It may be blatant or it may be subtle but it’s almost always there.

    The continual evidence of leftward bias in the MSM is what started me down my own road to … what would be a good term … Neocon-ship? Neoconservatism? That led to the reading of such authors as Bernard Lewis, Daniel Pipes, Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristal, Jeane Kirkpatrick and the visiting of blogs such as the one hosting this comment. It’s a skepticism toward the incessant belittling and constant disparagement of the history, motives and actions of America.

    The good news is that once The Template, The Narrative, The Agenda is understood it’s fairly easy to perceive in action. But the bad news is that it also serves to feed those who are in love with the concept of victimhood and resentment – witness the recent statements of Michelle Obama, a person who has received the best any nation’s capable of giving. She’s never been even a little bit proud of America. There’s the problem in a nutshell.

    Every so often the veil slips, and because these anti-US memes are so totally internalized by the left and the socially naïve, and so widespread in popular culture, inadvertently the ugliness and wackiness underneath is revealed. I find it, perhaps paradoxically, both arresting and frightening to contemplate.

  132. douglas Says:

    Compare and Contrast:
    ““Really? You earlier agreed with me that it was a genuine concern in SA. Somehow it’s magically not a concern elsewhere in the ME?”

    Hm, no. When the Saudis experimented with municipal elections, the people who were winning weren’t very warm to the US or the Saudi monarchy. They were hardly “jihadists.””

    ““We support dictators like the Saudi Royal Family, and Mubarak because right now, the alternative (democratically or not) is Muslim extremists.”

    Hm. Maybe in Saudi Arabia – there’s been very little in the way of civil society development, so it’s very likely that the people best organized would be fairly extreme.”

    Perhaps you make some profound distinction between “jihadist” and “fairly extreme” (both your terms by the way), I do not. Besides, while most Muslims are not jihadis, or even extremists, the problem is that they accept the actions of the extremists as legitimate under Islamic law. This also speaks to your statement:

    ““Well, the Koran for one.”

    So, maybe Muslims are robots who commit violence because they downloaded their violent programming from the Qur’an. But, that does not compute! If only a very small number of Muslims are committing violence, then what about all the other Muslims who downloaded their programming have read the Qur’an? And what about non-Muslims who commit violence? I mean, they can’t all have read the Qur’an! Maybe something more complex is at play?”

    The problem is that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Or worse, be complicit by agreeing that they are legitimate in their evil. Too complex a reading for you? Your robot line suggests you have a difficult time interpreting a range of possible causes for a given effect.

    By the way, you could take a few lessons from Buddhism about a lesser ego-
    “Hurray! Either you knew about Pakistani politics, which makes me happy that someone here is paying attention, or you wanted to impress me and looked it up today, in which case: Mission Accomplished!”

    Perhaps I was familiar with only larger elements of the Pakistani political landscape, but looked up some specifics recently because I try to be informed about world events. Details have a place, but trying to know all details at all times is futility. Understanding comes not from knowing details, it comes from a combination of some knowledge of both details and grander vistas, as well as the wisdom to discern the biases and colorations of ones information sources. Some day you’ll figure all that out.

    It’s not all about you, sorry.

  133. another take Says:

    “The problem is that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Or worse, be complicit by agreeing that they are legitimate in their evil.”

    The only way that one could be unaware of Muslim rejection of al Qaeda or Muslim condemnations of terrorism is if one studiously covered one’s eyes.

  134. Truth Says:

    grackle Says:
    February 19th, 2008 at 8:39 pm
    if the Arab media is only as biased as Western Mainstream Media the Arab ‘people’ would still have a problem of perception. One of Neoneocon’s latest posts Sympathy for the terrorist? is illustrative of the problem.

    One thing should be asked to grackle

    What about US people who support Israel for 60 years of crimes in ME?
    Looks some can not see fare from their noses by starting judging other people before they judge themselves for very very biased attitude supporting criminal acts on different claims from religious to historical dream of 5000 years old.

  135. lumpenscholar Says:

    another take: “This is one of the reasons why the “reverse domino theory” that constituted a major part of the justification for the Iraq War was so asinine – it was based on the premise that the peoples of the Middle East really didn’t know what democracy was …”

    BS. It was based on the idea that the people of Iraq knew what democracy was and wanted it, but a dictator stood in their way. Remove the dictator and problem solved. THAT was the error there. The Dominoes of Democracy theory was to be by influencing neighboring countries – no one expected mass revolt in the ME, and the claim is idiotic.

    another take: “I forgot, all journalists everywhere ever hate America and lie lie lie.”

    I forgot, all journalists everywhere love America and always, always, always tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    Oh, and still waiting for an answer. Was the question too inconvenient? I had no idea.

    Tell us, how many layers of latex gloves do you wear when typing here?

  136. lumpenscholar Says:

    trooth: “Looks some can not see fare from their noses by starting judging other people before they judge themselves for very very biased attitude supporting criminal acts on different claims from religious to historical dream of 5000 years old.”

    The Israelis aren’t white as snow, but Arab crimes have been far greater in number and intent.

    As for the situation for the last 60 years, the Arab world refused to talk to the UN team tasked with recommending what to do with the area after WWII, then they rejected the UN decision, then they tried to militarily destroy the state of Israel twice. Although they have sometimes gone too far, what the Israelis have done has been self-defense.

    Oh, unless you meant the crime of existing, which, I understand, is Israel’s chief crime in some quarters.

    The Arab claims too are based on religion. No land that has been conquered by Muslim armies can ever be given up, which is why most Arab states in the ME still don’t recognize the existence of the state of Israel and still are officially dedicated to its destruction. It’s also why peace negotiations always fall through; Arafat and his gang would take whatever they could get, then trump up some Israeli transgression (Sharon visits a shrine, yada yada yada) and call the deal off. Arafat worked Clinton over like the professional swindler he was.

    And, that’s why the US gives billions to the Egyptians, because they have a peace treaty with Israel. We were hoping to encourage that sort of thing. Not that it’s worked, of course.

  137. grackle Says:

    What about US people who support Israel for 60 years of crimes in ME?
    Looks some can not see fare from their noses by starting judging other people before they judge themselves for very very biased attitude supporting criminal acts on different claims from religious to historical dream of 5000 years old.

    I suspect the above writer is a victim of biased reporting by the MSM about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, which has been taking place for many years now. If all you read is rubbish you come to believe that rubbish is all there is.

    From its beginning Israel has been attacked and besieged by the Muslim world. And from almost the beginning Israel’s attackers have been portrayed by the MSM as victims. The MSM is complicit in this, inventing the technique which has become known as fauxtography, using terrorist sympathizing ‘stringers’ for reportage, the staging of phony Israeli “atrocities,” along with the more mundane utilization of hyperbole, distortions and outright lies.

    The bias against Israel, which is obvious with bit of research, was one of the first issues that started my own personal change, realizing that if the MSM was that biased against Israel that the MSM could very well be biased in many other ways – as indeed I have found that it is. There seems to be a world-wide wave of Jew-hating in these troubled times and I fear another Holocaust is coming if the Jihadists get their hands on WMD.

    The phenomenon of MSM reporting biased against Israel has been amply documented by this website as well as many others:

    http://www.memri.org

    http://www.camera.org

    http://www.theaugeanstables.com

    http://www.seconddraft.org

    http://www.middleeastfacts.com

  138. Truth Says:

    but Arab crimes have been far greater in number and intent.

    Um, can you prove your climes?
    Did Arab history have any massacre of Jews like what Christian did to the Jews?

    Go read the history well.

    As usual no surprises here we use to hear these climes again and again, we got sick and tired from people alike they don’t know just keep repeating words like Parrots

    Did you look to your history? Go and do your home work.

    If you Love Israelis gift them NOE of your state (if you’re American) if not then spare land from your land for them.

    Um, can you prove your climes?
    Did Arab history have any massacre of Jews like what Christian did to the Jews?

    Go read the history well.

    As usual no surprises here we use to hear these climes again and again, we got sick and tired from people alike they don’t know just keep repeating words like Parrots

    Did you look to your history? Go and do your home work.

    If you Love Israelis gift them NOE of your state (if you’re American) if not then spare land from your land for them.

    that’s why the US gives billions to the Egyptians, because they have a peace treaty with Israel.

    Really this? You knew this good.
    You know why? Ohhh this hard one.
    Those billion is a Bribe for Egyptian’s government to keep their promises not the Egyptian’s nation.

    We were hoping to encourage that sort of thing.

    By bribe not democracy, ohhhh my boy well done

  139. Truth Says:

    I suspect the above writer is a victim of biased reporting by the MSM

    I suspect the above writer is a victim of biased reporting by the Zionists propaganda and Right Religious propaganda.

    You can wheel back the history 5000 years to make state for you today.

    Read the history those Zionists gangs what they did to native people on the holy land before those 60 years then you will understand when and why the problem you talking about and keep in mind what’s going around comes around

  140. Truth Says:

    There seems to be a world-wide wave of Jew-hating

    Come on lire, who said that just people like you and your ilk.
    The Jews living between us peacefully why you do lie?

    Go get alive man, and stop writing lies here.

  141. grackle Says:

    It is hard to engage in debate when all that’s offered is incoherent hate-filled sloganeering and a couple of vague unsupported accusations. Other than a type of verbal snarling there’s very little to it, really. You’ll find its tamer more intellectual variety in the dispatches of the BBC, AP, NYT and many other MSM organs.

    However, it does serve to prove my point in regards to the extent of Jew-hatred out there. Free-floating, spittle launching, baleful fury. But it should be no surprise when it’s considered that the teaching of rage and hatred toward Jews begins even in the tender formative years in Palestine. Systematic inculcation of hate begins early in many places in the Middle East and continues throughout adulthood.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeii225G-HM

  142. Gray Says:

    Did Arab history have any massacre of Jews like what Christian did to the Jews?

    No, but they tried: The Israelis defeated the arab armies in the ‘Yom Kippur War’ and ‘The Six Day War’.

    Saddams chemical rockets in Tel Aviv were not effective, but he tried.

    Amadinenejad wants to try.

    Typically, arabs have killed arabs–the Iran-Iraq war, Kuwait, Iraq—-and countless tribal disputes.

    You know there are more Palestinian Refugee Camps in Jordan than on the West Bank or the Golan Heights. How do the Jordanians, Syrians and Egyptians treat the Palestinians? Not well.

    Whom have Muslims killed? The Muhgals killed countless Hindus.

    Whom else have Muslim armies killed? Zoroastrians, Persians, Kurds, ‘Marsh Arabs’, Africans, Armenians, Druze, Chaldeans, Serbs, Russian children in Beslan, Indonesians, Philippinos, Americans….

    I know my history; your history is a bloody as ours.

    It’s the way of this fallen world.

    Truth, you know I enjoy discussing things with you. You cannot count on history to wash off the blood; we are all bloody.

  143. Gray Says:

    Truth, you’re not a stupid man.

    You know that as long as the arab countires focus on Israel they can neglect their own people.

    I want to see an Iraq like the UAE; wealthy and prosperous.

    I want to see Beruit become “The Paris of the Orient” again. I want to see a Syria that manufactures computers, sports cars and motorcycles.

    I want to see Arab countries that lead the world in science, mathematics and medicine, again. It’s been a long time….

    The Jews can’t stop you from doing that.

    Why can’t there be a prosperous Arab Middle East with a small sliver of Jews on the Mediterranean?

  144. douglas Says:

    “The only way that one could be unaware of Muslim rejection of al Qaeda or Muslim condemnations of terrorism is if one studiously covered one’s eyes.”

    Au contraire, I too have read the pew polls indicating many areas where acceptance of suicide bombing has decreased (before you so generously gave us the link). Unfortunately, the numbers are still much too high, but we’ve got them going in the right direction. Must be doing something right.

    Before they can accept us, they must reject those in their midst who would work against them and oppress them. That is beginning to happen. May it continue.

  145. Truth Says:

    It is hard to engage in debate when all that’s offered is incoherent hate-filled sloganeering and a couple of vague unsupported accusations.

    Yap, it’s all same things here when you run of words and when things turned around, just tagging as much tags that suit you.

    Come forward and give answers and be proving to discuss each point made against your claims.
    But as usual, anti-sometime and Jew hatred, singeing etc. of more modern English words that suit the speaker mind and heart.

    the teaching of rage and hatred toward Jews begins even in the tender formative years in Palestine.

    I would invite you to tell us what those Israelis teach their kids? Did you what the teaching?
    Did you or some friend gave a visit to Israel and went to those religious Madrash?
    What’s their teaching just be honest once and tell us.

    Ohhh I forgot what those “Solder of God” tough in Israel? Why this name given for them and for what.

    Gray,

    I think I went to far from main topic apologies to neo and other friends, but let be clear here.

    Is rail it’s a matter of reality now and should all come together to solve the conflict that damaging and heavy loses for years form both side.

    if we looking for long lasting peace between Israeli and its neighbour should be built on collective negotiations between all Arab neighbours and Islamic countries and this should be sponsored by a committee of independent countries not US only as proved US not honest sponsor all levels and form many years.

    The Saudi Peace proposal should be taken seriously for starting piece talk and the goal final settlement and agreement with set the recognition of Israel as state and Israel should not put forward any conditions for any peace talk.

    Israelis have for years rejecting any peace talk from its neighbours as one side of negotiations and Israelis refusal of met and discussion any peace process with individual state or countries this the problem for many neglecting this fact and keep put all the blame of Arab neighbours.

    We all need to through all what said and passed that not can help us in any way, its need fresh and new talk build on hope and genuine desire for stop the cycle of killing and grapping the land or threading others.

    I understand Arab countries have long way to be more stable and developed I agree Israel its not the stone in the way of development but its is an obstacles did and doing noises to their neighbours don’t forgot that Israel killed half does of Iraqi scientist from early 1970 till the Tamuss distraction in 1981, this not can be neglected as part of Israeli seeking superiority in the region don’t give them or believe what they said and repeating those words.

    Finally the refugees there is very simple solution give them citizenship in any country they are in or offer them compensations and land to live and treated like any Arab citizen and I doubt any single Arab people appose that, but these kings and leaders they just don’t like to solve their suffering.

  146. Ymarsakar Says:

    if we looking for long lasting peace between Israeli and its neighbour should be built on collective negotiations between all Arab neighbours and Islamic countries and this should be sponsored by a committee of independent countries not US only as proved US not honest sponsor all levels and form many years.

    The State Department aren’t honest brokers. If you want honest brokers, you’re going to have to be occupied by the US military, like Iraq.

    See, that’s where you get things wrong. There can be no honest negotiations between Arab neighbors because that is not how the tribes or the dictators operate.

    How can you delude yourself as to the extent of your countrymen’s willingness to adopt honesty and self-introspection?

    I understand Arab countries have long way to be more stable and developed I agree Israel its not the stone in the way of development but its is an obstacles did and doing noises to their neighbours don’t forgot that Israel killed half does of Iraqi scientist from early 1970

    Israel is an obstacle to the Arabs because the Arabs have chosen to make them an obstacle. The choice is with Arab nations as to peace, not Israel.

    Arab countries need to adopt Western Enlightenment principles before they can even start on the road to stability and development. The inability to become cosmopolitan and adopt foreign customs if they are better than your own, is another justification for Arab resistance to Israelis.

  147. grackle Says:

    I would invite you to tell us what those Israelis teach their kids? Did you [know?] what the[they are?] teaching?

    I have no idea what the Israelis are teaching Israeli children. Perhaps the writer above could provide some links of that nature. Surely if the Israelis teach hate the proof exists out there somewhere. Meanwhile below is another link, not documenting a mere Palestinian children’s TV program but revealing what is officially taught to small children in the Palestinian school system. The poor kids, being so young, have no real defense against this type of baleful, incessant indoctrination. It’s stomach-turning and it’s scary.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2002/04/25/MN53534.DTL

    Israelis have for years rejecting any peace talk from its neighbours as one side of negotiations and Israelis refusal of met and discussion any peace process with individual state or countries this the problem for many neglecting this fact and keep put all the blame of Arab neighbours.

    If I were Israel’s leaders I would never negotiate with any nation or nations that did not recognize Israel’s right to exist. If someone is bent on your destruction, publicly, proudly and loudly proclaiming such sentiments as they at the same time foment violence toward you, it would only give them encouragement, a reward so to speak, to enter into negotiations with them.

  148. grackle Says:

    I got my italics screwed up on the above post – below is the cleaned up version:

    I would invite you to tell us what those Israelis teach their kids? Did you [know?] what the[they are?] teaching?

    I have no idea what the Israelis are teaching Israeli children. Perhaps the writer above could provide some links of that nature. Surely if the Israelis teach hate the proof exists out there somewhere. Meanwhile below is another link, not documenting a mere Palestinian children’s TV program but revealing what is officially taught to small children in the Palestinian school system. The poor kids, being so young, have no real defense against this type of baleful, incessant indoctrination. It’s stomach-turning and it’s scary.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2002/04/25/MN53534.DTL

    Israelis have for years rejecting any peace talk from its neighbours as one side of negotiations and Israelis refusal of met and discussion any peace process with individual state or countries this the problem for many neglecting this fact and keep put all the blame of Arab neighbours.

    If I were Israel’s leaders I would never negotiate with any nation or nations that did not recognize Israel’s right to exist. If someone is bent on your destruction, publicly, proudly and loudly proclaiming such sentiments as they at the same time foment violence toward you, it would only give them encouragement, a reward so to speak, to enter into negotiations with them.

  149. Truth Says:

    Ymarsakar, Your delusional mind speak obviously about yourself that keeps you far from understand the realities around the world.

    Living between people in peace never been and not essential means they are same or they adapted the customs each other.

    You and you ilk should learn to respect and treats others as you love to be respected and treated you and your like.

    Here is question for you answer it, if coming back to comment here, don’t change the discussion:

    Are N. Koreans changed and adapted your customs made US negotiating peacefully to resolve their differences?
    Why your loving State department not advised your administration leader go to invade N. Korea?

    Again is it China adapted your customs made US talk friendly or say respectably for solving the differences?
    Or from your delusions mind you should go and invade N. Korea and China to see peace flourishing between US and them?

    Did your folk Paul Bremer brings his customs with him to teach Iraq when he created CPA on Sec. basis? Or those $9.0 Billions and un-metered Iraqi oil these customs you talking about that your man demonstrated well while he is sheikh on Iraq?
    Or that follow Chalabi who grownup on you land he brought the customs of theft of Banks?

    The tribe life with Arab world did not been a key issue here when it comes to countries and nations. I hope you’re not like those jerks who believe in Noah Freedman of “Nation Building” in Iraq and other part in ME.
    Those nations taught Noah Freedman and other how to write and read. These nations had the richness lived for thousands of years are better understand how to live in peace with others than a nation had 400 years old, isn’t?

    Finally Ymarsakar, I ending my comment with verse of Hammurabi Code of Law that may give you some wisdom from 5000 years Code of Law introduced to this world:

    If an ox be a goring ox, and it shown that he is a gorer, and he do not bind his horns, or fasten the ox up, and the ox gore a free-born man and kill him, the owner shall pay one-half a mina in money.

  150. Vince P Says:

    Oh the sychophant speaks!

  151. Truth Says:

    “old sychophant” go back to your cave and play with your sychophany.

  152. Gray Says:

    Living between people in peace never been and not essential means they are same or they adapted the customs each other.

    True, but Israelis do eat a lot of shawarma and if it wasn’t for felafel they would probably starve.

    The Sons of Ishmael and the Sons of Isaac share many customs….

  153. Vince P Says:

    Like what? Breathing?

  154. Truth Says:

    The Sons of Ishmael and the Sons of Isaac share many customs…

    Gray, you are right as Muslims and Arab we did not have problems with Jews as religion and as people.

    Motherless the peace if left in hands of people of both sides it will achievable but, both side showing lack of leadership and ignorance to fill full the needs of their nations for peace.

    This just last year I met two Israelis man 25 years old, women 30 year old both expressed their view sand they side we are living their in Israeli Arab and Jews and love each other eat food each other and the added if people left without interferences from politicians we will have no problems!!

    So if really the leaders work toward peace it will be achievable with hanging on this matter or that, all will be solved and will ease to final agreements.

    This bring my point I made earlier that both side should set with desire for ending the cycle of blood supervised by committee have the confidence and credibility and not biased you like it or not US not sincere host for nay peace process this not my world its years of US paled game in ME with successive administrations.

    Enjoy you Falafel and Shawarma Gray

  155. lumpenscholar Says:

    grackle, thanks for the links.

    Gray, actually, the Iranians are not Arabs. They’re Persians.

    trooth: “Did Arab history have any massacre of Jews like what Christian did to the Jews?”

    That’s irrelevant. First, I said the Arabs have committed more crimes than Israel. I meant contemporary crimes, not things a thousand years or more old. But, if you want to compare, why are Arabs and Muslims all over the ME? They conquered those territories and ruled them against the will of the peoples already there. Talk to the Persians about Arab crimes. The Crusades began with a plea from the head of the Orthodox Church to help defend Constantinople from Muslim invaders; had the Muslims not invaded Europe, there would have been no Crusades. Finally, again, all that is irrelevant to Israel’s history. It hasn’t existed a century yet, so blaming it for ancient crimes is mere propaganda – no, not mere, it is bloody, hateful propaganda.

    trooth: “Go read the history well.”

    I suggest you go read it again. You clearly didn’t understand it the first time.

    trooth: “Those billion is a Bribe for Egyptian’s government to keep their promises not the Egyptian’s nation … By bribe not democracy, ohhhh my boy well done”

    At least our money is buying peace; it’s a shame it takes bribes for Arab nations to keep their promises.

  156. Truth Says:

    lumpenscholar,

    What rubbish here you put.

    I don’t need advice from some one so fanatic to tell me, stirring history as his mindset.

    If don’t like go back thousands years who did crimes against humanity,

    Check your history of colonialism in ME, before saying any thing here, remember those Muslims who invade some Europe land and Spain they brought you the bases of what you enjoying today life and you should thank them for dragging out your nations from the darkens and wars that lasting hundred of years.

    Just some figure reminder for fanatic mindset:
    ! Million in Algeria
    !00,000 in Libya
    Un-counted numbers in Egypt in Lebanon Syria Palestine
    Uncounted number in Iraq but history tell us that Britt’s lost 20,000 of its military in Iraq and the have 50% lost of their youth at that time.

    Imagine how many Iraqi killed compare the weaponry and advance weaponry used at that time compare it with Iraqi they had only stone and swords.

    Finally why you pay bribes are you Christian goes read your bible well, you will find both sides are making Sin.
    Moreover what make you pay on behalf of Israelis? Are you Israeli or Zionist?

    Last thing keep in mind Iraq war as example and speak unless you’re idiot and living in black bubble.

  157. Vince P Says:

    Truth is thoroughly indoctrinated in teh Religion of Perputual outrage… No event is too far distant in the past to dredge up to be pissed off about.

  158. lumpenscholar Says:

    trooth: “Check your history of colonialism in ME, before saying any thing here, remember those Muslims who invade some Europe land and Spain they brought you the bases of what you enjoying today life and you should thank them for dragging out your nations from the darkens and wars that lasting hundred of years.”

    Oh, so it’s OK to invade and conquer other peoples if you improve their way of life? That’s exactly what the Europeans said when they colonized the ME (and Africa, India, China, etc.) — after all, they built roads and schools and brought science, medicine, and Christianity with them! Perfectly OK, right?

    Your numbers are again irrelevant. I compared Israel vs. Arabs. Nothing the US or Europe or anyone else has done affects what I wrote.

    trooth: “Finally why you pay bribes are you Christian goes read your bible well, you will find both sides are making Sin.”

    And you can give the scripture for that?

    trooth: “Moreover what make you pay on behalf of Israelis? Are you Israeli or Zionist?”

    Because the Israelis are right, and it would be a crime to allow a liberal democracy to fall to tyrants simply for lack of funding.

    trooth: “Last thing keep in mind Iraq war as example and speak unless you’re idiot and living in black bubble.”

    I do keep the Iraq war in mind, and so I must speak the truth as I understand it. I suggest it’s you living in a black bubble.

About Me

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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Ace (bold)
AmericanDigest (writer’s digest)
AmericanThinker (thought full)
Anchoress (first things first)
AnnAlthouse (more than law)
AtlasShrugs (fearless)
AugeanStables (historian’s task)
Baldilocks (outspoken)
Barcepundit (theBrainInSpain)
Beldar (Texas lawman)
BelmontClub (deep thoughts)
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Bookworm (writingReader)
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ChicagoBoyz (boyz will be)
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DanielInVenezuela (against tyranny)
DeanEsmay (conservative liberal)
Donklephant (political chimera)
Dr.Helen (rights of man)
Dr.Sanity (thinking shrink)
DreamsToLightening (Asher)
EdDriscoll (market liberal)
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GayPatriot (self-explanatory)
HadEnoughTherapy? (yep)
HotAir (a roomful)
InFromTheCold (once a spook)
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JawaReport (the doctor is Rusty)
LegalInsurrection (law prof)
RedState (conservative)
Maggie’sFarm (centrist commune)
MelaniePhillips (formidable)
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MichaelYon (War Zones)
Michelle Malkin (clarion pen)
Michelle Obama's Mirror (reflections)
MudvilleGazette (milblog central)
NoPasaran! (behind French facade)
NormanGeras (principled leftist)
OneCosmos (Gagdad Bob’s blog)
PJMedia (comprehensive)
PointOfNoReturn (Jewish refugees)
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QandO (neolibertarian)
RachelLucas (in Italy)
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TheDoctorIsIn (indeed)
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