Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 23, 2006

WB: Babbling Idiots

Billmon:

Small wonder then, that the policy "debate" has now crossed the line into complete fantasy -- like a long piece of dialogue from Waiting for Godot. The realists have turned into surrealists. Baker now sounds almost as naive and deluded as Bush.

Babbling Idiots

Posted by b on October 23, 2006 at 06:52 AM | Permalink

Comments

They are playing a game. They are playing at not

playing a game. If I show them I see they are, I

shall break the rules and they will punish me.

I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game.
~R.D. Laing

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 23, 2006 7:27:38 AM | 1

Meting out punishment to Iraq: We will now proceed to make the rubble bounce - one failed nation to another.

As things are going, I don't really see ourselves that far from Billmon's dream vision of having the "architects" behind this epic failure in the dock, facing a war crimes tribunal.

Someone - beyond the obligatory "bad apples" - must be made accountable for this lunacy.

Posted by: SteinL | Oct 23, 2006 7:45:55 AM | 2

President Bush: It's Never Been "Stay The Course"

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 23, 2006 7:47:30 AM | 3

Not sure this is going to help ...

ONE evening, I accompanied a three-Humvee convoy of MPs through largely Shiite east Baghdad. Before leaving the base, the commander performed an unsettling ritual: He anointed the Humvees with clear oil, performing something akin to last rites.
link

Posted by: b | Oct 23, 2006 7:47:37 AM | 4

At least we still get to talk out loud about the incompetent aristocrats who rule over us. For now. Too bad nobody noticed the parchment setting on Republican paper shredders, though.

Posted by: | Oct 23, 2006 8:50:04 AM | 5

Take w/salt, but do consider...

300 Dead Troops Covered Up in Forward Base Falcon Disaster?

9 Transport Planes Ferried American Dead Bodies From Baghdad

As a bonus, to a "possible" non-event post, here's my saving grace...

IRAQ FOR SALE MOVIE - GET IT HERE

In this documentary expose you can hear outraged soldiers describing how Halliburton employees ordered $80,000 trucks and threw'em away for another when tires went flat or it needed an oil filter.

There was no maintenance budget, y'see.
Threw'em away for new ones. Just bill the Pentagon.

(9/10/01 Rumsfeld admits $2.3 trillion missing.)

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 23, 2006 8:55:15 AM | 6

Norway: Stolen cars used for terror

More and more cars stolen in Norway are turning up in Iraq, with some of them being used by suicide bombers.

Now, I wonder how that happens.../snark

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 23, 2006 9:39:53 AM | 7

Really, anyone who's thinking of a military coup as the solution to our problems in Baghdad has a brain the size of a pin. Which is why I worry that there may be some truth behind the rumor.
-- Billmon

The whole Iraq operation has always smelled (to my, admittedly, ignorant and naive nose) something like a "U.S.-engineered coup for the new American century." Having decided on the overarching goal--a friendly regime in Baghdad--Cheney looked into the various options for accomplishing it.

He probably tossed around the idea of a nice, old-fashioned, covert operation: send in the jackals, destabilize, overthrow, Chalabi slithers into power, tada! But there were all these other subgoals that they wanted to work into the plan, too: reelection, "military transformation," expanded executive power, sowing the seeds for a new "long war," rubbing the U.N.'s nose in it, and so on. Not to mention, kicking Iraq old school wasn't going to go over well with Junior--too close to the sort of thing his CIA daddy might have tried.

So Cheney opted for that same standard plan, but with a delicious twist of new American century (which has a familiar taste, by the way): we would overthrow Saddam and replace him with Chalabi, sure--but we'd do it using a skeleton force of (agile!) regular military, instead of the jackals, and we'd pretend to do it in consultation with The Rest of the World.

This variant on the standard plan should have made everyone happy. Chalabi would sweep into power with his private militia and the U.S. military as backup. Rove would get his war, simplifying all electoral calculus. Rumsfeld would get "good targets" for his agile, transformed military. All those who lust for expanded executive power would smile at the overthrow of Saddam and installation of the puppet Chalabi in broad daylight. Plus, they'd get their endless wartime footing and numerous opportunities to expand Cheney's power further--torture, habeas, you name it. And, as a nice cherry on top, the whole operation would make the U.N. look ridiculous. Bonus!

And it all would've worked if it hadn't have been for, well, pretty much everything.

Posted by: &y | Oct 23, 2006 9:50:49 AM | 8

Billmon writes:


"Democracy" in Iraq may not be worth much (you could, of course, say the same about "democracy" in America) but it is an objective reality -- parliament, constitution, political parties (with and without artillery) a cabinet, the works. Pulling the plug on it now, Pinochet style, would not only turn all the Shi'a factions against us, it would expose America before the entire world as a nation of lying, hypocritical shits, who don't really give a flying fuck about "democracy" unless we control it. In the war of ideas Shrub likes to talk about, that would pretty much qualify as an unconditional surrender.

But we've already demonstrated that we're a nation of lying hypocritical shits, who don't really give a flying fuck about democracy unless we control it. We're funding Israel's war against Hamas and are doing our level best to destroy the democratically elected government in Palestine and to starve the Palestinian people to death as punishment for electing a government we don't control. We funded and resupplied Israel's brutal war of aggression against the democratic government of Lebanon. Do you think no one has noticed? Outside of the United States EVERYONE has noticed. The US is the undisputed global BAD GUY.

As supine as the United Nations is, I still have a hard time imagining it would ever recognize such a regime as the legitimate government of Iraq. (Hypocritical in turn, given the cutthroat regimes that are currently so recognized? You bet. But that's life.) Without U.N. recognition, multilateral financing becomes impossible, oil deals get riskier, debt forgiveness gets harder -- Iraq would be even more of an orphan state, totally dependent on American foster care.

The UN dragged its feet with the cease fire in Lebanon, allowing Israel to drop two or three MILLION cluster bombs on the south of the country. They've given themselves up to an evil age for as long as the US can persist in wasting itself in this mad exercise, burning its patrimony in the Middle Eastern deserts. The UN will recognize whatever the US does. The UN cares no more about the Iraqis than it cares about the Palestinians. Demonstrably not at all. They are waiting on the sidelines, watching the American empire in its death throes, unwilling and indecisive until the collapse of the mad suzerain, waiting to see the shape of the new world order before they commit to anything at all.

The Iraqis are in this by themselves. The sooner they cut American supply lines the sooner we can get our troops home and the sooner they can have their country back. Waiting for the American regime, or the American people, to come to their senses and do something rational in Iraq is a death sentence for Iraq and the Iraqi people. They have no one to rely upon but themselves. They are thrown back upon their own resources exclusively. They need to find the strength to do what must be done.

I hope they can do so.

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Oct 23, 2006 9:54:51 AM | 9

Bush chides father for election remarks

Bush chides father for election remarks
Sun Oct 22, 2006 3:32 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush gently admonished his father for saying he hates to think what life would be like for his son if the Democrats win control of Congress in the November 7 election.

It was the latest sign of possible strain in the relationship between the two men.

"He shouldn't be speculating like this, because -- he should have called me ahead of time and I'd tell him they're not going to (win)," a smiling Bush told ABC "This Week" in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

It follows the recent release of a book, "State of Denial," by journalist Bob Woodward, that says the 82-year-old former president was "anguished" over how the Iraq war has played out, although he has dismissed that account.

Earlier this month, the elder Bush was reported to have told a Republican fund-raiser in a Philadelphia suburb that "if we have some of these wild Democrats in charge of these (congressional) committees, it will be a ghastly thing for our country."

He was also quoted as saying, "I would hate to think ... what my son's life would be like" if their Republican Party lost its majorities.

The two men have rarely appeared together in public in recent years. But they praised each other at the October 7 christening of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, named the USS George H.W. Bush, after the 41st president.

Though the elder Bush has said his job is to stay on the sidelines, that did not stop him from raising a warning about the prospects for a Democratic takeover of Congress.

Asked whether he had thought about the possibility, the president told ABC: "Not really ... I'm a person that believes we'll continue to control the House and the Senate."

Polls show Democrats running ahead. They must pick up 15 House seats and six Senate seats to take over Congress.

A power shift would create a political nightmare for Bush, whose public approval ratings are below 40 percent. His domestic legislative agenda would be stymied and he would see stepped-up pressure to withdraw from Iraq while possibly facing congressional investigations into the unpopular war.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 23, 2006 10:28:50 AM | 10

Before leaving the base, the commander performed an unsettling ritual: He anointed the Humvees with clear oil, performing something akin to last rites.

He must have seen M*A*S*H.


Posted by: billmon | Oct 23, 2006 10:30:21 AM | 11

The Holy Humvee of Antioch
O Lord, bless this thy Humvee, that with it thou mightst blow thine enemies to tiny bits. In thy mercy.

The Holy Justice of Ashcroft
O Lord, bless this thy Supreme Court Justice, that through him thou mighst blow the Constitution to tiny bits. In thy mercy.

Posted by: &y | Oct 23, 2006 11:00:10 AM | 12

To paraphrase Mayor Richard J. Daley (the dad, not the current one),

"We are not in Iraq to create disorder, we are in Iraq to preserve disorder."

Posted by: Tom Geraghty | Oct 23, 2006 11:07:28 AM | 13

"Democracy" in Iraq may not be worth much (you could, of course, say the same about "democracy" in America) but it is an objective reality -- parliament, constitution, political parties (with and without artillery) a cabinet, the works.

This was a great, great post (especially the line about "the realists have turned into surrealists"), but I do have to take exception with this one, very important, sentence in it. I do not agree that simply having the "trappings" of democracy makes a democracy. I do not believe that Iraq has at present the requisite components that make for a workable, sustainable democracy -- foremost among them being perceived as legitimate by the populace ("perceived legitimacy"), and ability to function effectively. I am sure others on here are more informed than I about what the prerequisites for successful democracy are supposed to be, but I do believe that one is the existence of a viable civil society (guarantee of civil rights, institutions that can represent interests and modulate conflict, freedom of expressions and press, etc) and an involved citizenry that feels free and safe enough to participate in political affairs... Hell, just take one simple fact and that is that no general election could be held in today's Iraq because it is too volatile and unsafe -- and therefore no results could be perceived as having true legitimacy... and it appears to me that the notion that "democracy" can work there under today's conditions is wrong.

In any case the notion that we could impose democracy down the barrel of a gun was always ludicrously flawed to begin with. Democracy by definition can never be imposed from outside or "installed" by a military occupation authority.

So I'm puzzled as to why you think all the elements are in place to make it workable in Iraq today. Please note, I am NOT questioning whether the Iraqis have the innate capability to develop their political system into a democracy at some point in the future. I am just saying that the current state of affairs makes it impossible for democracy to take root, no matter what "institutions" are dressed up and given fancy names.

Other than that, I thought your post was spot on.

Posted by: Bea | Oct 23, 2006 11:23:36 AM | 14

But we've already demonstrated that we're a nation of lying hypocritical shits, who don't really give a flying fuck about democracy unless we control it. We're funding Israel's war against Hamas and are doing our level best to destroy the democratically elected government in Palestine and to starve the Palestinian people to death as punishment for electing a government we don't control. We funded and resupplied Israel's brutal war of aggression against the democratic government of Lebanon. Do you think no one has noticed? Outside of the United States EVERYONE has noticed.

So very true.

Posted by: Bea | Oct 23, 2006 11:25:34 AM | 15

we'd do it using a skeleton force of (agile!) regular military, instead of the jackals,

or we'd kick the anthill and support iraqis killing eachother for us.

From b's #4 link

Are U.S. troops equipping Iraq's sectarian avengers?

notice the constant drumbeat in the pr machine of 'iraqi on iraqi ' violence? this works perfectly w/the 'solution' of a divided iraq.

it's hard to see what the fuss is all about -- assuming, for the sake of the argument, that the fussers are actually looking for a way to escape the debacle in Iraq and not just a way to protect marginal GOP seats in Congress.

all this fuss of the babbling idiots is meant to throw us off, the appearance of scrambling for solutions . i don't buy it, i think things are going as planned. it wouldn't due to march in there and throw a coup. we get the 2 months of warnings so it looks like we are actually rescuing iraq by the time we replace the puppet. imho

another excellent post billmon, as usual.

Posted by: annie | Oct 23, 2006 12:45:14 PM | 16

I am just saying that the current state of affairs makes it impossible for democracy to take root, no matter what "institutions" are dressed up and given fancy names.

that's the point isn't it? the goal? no civil form of government, democracy or otherwise, will be allowed to take root until iraq is divided.

Posted by: annie | Oct 23, 2006 12:48:33 PM | 17

btw, who announces (sorry, leaks) a coup 2 months in advance? is this setting precident?

Posted by: annie | Oct 23, 2006 12:50:06 PM | 18

truthaboutiraqis

has a new post up. a must read.

Posted by: annie | Oct 23, 2006 3:07:08 PM | 19

Billmon, your asides are better writing than most of what I read, almost Shakespearean. Here's my favorite from this post:

Up until now I've resolutely ignored the mindless media chatter about a possible "change of course" in Iraq, both because of the absurdity of the metaphor (sinking ships can have only one course -- straight down)....

Posted by: Grandmère Mimi | Oct 23, 2006 5:45:02 PM | 20

Uh-oh, That Other "Experiment in Democracy" Appears Poised to Collapse Too

The chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), has already made up his mind. The general direction of his decision is clear: to disperse - or, to state it more bluntly - to put an end to, the Hamas government.

The details of his decision are not yet clear, perhaps not even to Abu Mazen or his aides. But we shall all be better informed about it within a short time, maybe even a few short days. This is what can be understood from a long series of statements made over the past few weeks by the chairman and his advisors. Ever since he returned from the United Nations General Assembly last month, he has repeatedly intimated that there are new revelations and clarifications taking place every day. In the middle of last week, for example, Abu Mazen declared: "Bread is more important than democracy."

This sentence was quoted in all the Palestinian media. The significance of this statement is clear to all: True, the Hamas government rose to power through democratic elections, but it is not able to function, it does not pay salaries, it does not provide bread, and it cannot continue to rule. By the end of the week, Abu Mazen was already speaking explicitly: "There is a responsibility on our shoulders," he said, "and we have to take decisions about setting up a loyal Palestinian government that will enjoy international recognition, will enable the embargo against our people to be lifted and will concentrate on the central objective, which is an end to the occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, a state that will live in peace and security alongside Israel." Nothing could be more clear than that. And he even turned to the public with his quandary over how to succeed in this.

So I guess it has now been proven that you can starve an entire people into submission.

Haaretz

Posted by: Bea | Oct 23, 2006 8:16:54 PM | 21

Sorry, forgot to end the blockquote in #21. The last sentence was mine (not from Haaretz).

Posted by: Bea | Oct 23, 2006 8:18:20 PM | 22

[btw, who announces (sorry, leaks) a coup 2 months in advance? is this setting precident?]

After it goes down, they'all will say "the long expected", or "the long awaited transference of governance" has taken place, I'm suprised they haven't announced a deadline to adhere to.

http://washtimes.com/upi/20061023-091743-9067r.htm>At his point they might as well go ahead and do it

Posted by: anna missed | Oct 23, 2006 8:44:50 PM | 23

sorry, too lazy for links.. the drift i'm catching from arab/iraqi blog comment sections is that the 'civil war' is dividing in a way that are pitting the nationalists against thefederali crowd. you can imagine what side we're on. no wonder they don't want press in there. the iraqis i hear from (younge mostly) are more attached to their country as a whole and are sick of these deathsquaders, no matter what form. i have a feeling this is wide spread.

if, a big if, the secular sunnis ans shiites ban together, we are all going to be seeing a real civil war, and not about religious affiliation, about iraqis getting massively ripped off by the oil conglomerates.

imho

Posted by: annie | Oct 23, 2006 9:32:46 PM | 24

'm suprised they haven't announced a deadline to adhere to.

hah! thats rich... they don't want us to connect it to the signing of the big oil deal coming down in december. 2 months, you add it up


Posted by: annie | Oct 23, 2006 9:35:45 PM | 25

the state have to become autonomous before the deal come down w/oil.

imperative. we're going to be seeing masive bloodshed aka, more troops, the whole tamle, if they don't separate.

this is why we have no press, this is what iraqi know.

imho

Posted by: annie | Oct 23, 2006 9:39:45 PM | 26

oops, tamale.. you knew that right?

Posted by: annie | Oct 23, 2006 9:41:50 PM | 27

So I guess it has now been proven that you can starve an entire people into submission.

spoken like a pro bea

anyone who missed my 19 link is missin out btw

Since Iraq was brutally raped by a horde of pillaging, ravaging murderers aided by the various Iraqi exiles, businessmen and all who looked to make a quick buck as their brethren were slaughtered.

I will celebrate Eid when the occupier is vanquished, when Iraq is whole again, when there is a government that is nationalistic - not sectarian, not religious.

I will celebrate when Al Qaeda in Iraq is destroyed, when Iranian agents are cut down in the streets. When the Saudi Wahabis are burned out of Iraq ... when every foreign filth is destroyed.

But there are causes for celebration. Western Iraq is back in the hands of the nationalistic Iraqis. US soldiers do not dare tread one inch of that soil lest they be cut down like the rabid dogs they are

Posted by: annie | Oct 23, 2006 9:49:45 PM | 28

Up until now I've resolutely ignored the mindless media chatter about a possible "change of course" in Iraq, both because of the absurdity of the metaphor sinking ships can have only one course -- straight down) and because so much of it appears designed simply to take the heat off the Republicans in the run up to the election.

They don't always go straight down. Sometimes they corkscrew. ;)

Posted by: misc. | Oct 23, 2006 10:25:46 PM | 29

annie - Thanks for your link (#19). I'm just catching up. I followed the link to the list of u.s. casualties. How do they hide this? Really.

Posted by: beq | Oct 24, 2006 8:26:58 AM | 30

@beq - if you followed the link to the story of 300 dead GIs in the attack on Camp Falcon - use a lot of salt - it's most certainly fake.

Posted by: b | Oct 24, 2006 9:02:14 AM | 31

Iraq Agrees to New Security Timetable, U.S. Officials Say

America’s top military and civilian officials in Iraq said today that the Baghdad government has agreed to a timetable for a series of milestones to be pursued in the coming year, including cracking down on Shiite militias, completing a “national compact” between competing political groups, persuading Sunni insurgents to lay down their arms and settling contentious issues like the division of oil revenues.
...
General Casey raised the possibility of bringing more forces into Baghdad, where a crackdown by American and Iraqi troops has had limited success in quelling sectarian violence.
...
“Iraqi officials have agreed to a timeline for making these difficult decisions,” Ambassador Khalilzad said.

Some steps, like completing plans for transferring more areas to Iraqi control and an international accord for economic development, should be achieved by the end of the year, Mr. Khalilzad said, adding that he expected a national compact to be in place in a year’s time.
...
Both men spoke in unusually conciliatory terms about the Sunni insurgents who have been the main source of attacks on American troops until recently, referring to them as “the resistance.” General Casey called them “the Sunnis who fight us and claim to be the honorable resistance of Iraq,” and said that American officials have begun talking with them, along with the Iraqi government.

By contrast, Iran and Syria were singled out for harsh criticism at the briefing, and accused of working to make matters worse in Iraq. Mr. Khalilzad lumped them together with Al Qaeda as “the enemies of Iraq.”
...
General Casey also defended the performance of Iraqi security forces, saying that 300 of their number had been killed during the recent holy month of Ramadan.

So the NYT report from Sunday the administration tried to deny was right. They did hold the pistol to Maliki's head and Maliki did sign whatever paper they told him to sign.
...
Why doesn't Maliki announces this instead of the occupiers?
Where will Casey get additional troops from for Baghdad?
The "international accord on economic development" is of course the real big prize PSAs and all ... the resistance will take a look at that "deadline" too.
Now schmoozing the Sunnis, and verbaly beeting on Iran and Syria, who are not involved while physically assaulting Sadr's folks, the only nationalistic force with some power.

It's chaos and it will get worse ..

Posted by: b | Oct 24, 2006 10:02:47 AM | 32

Here is a link to an informative and detailed piece on the oil deals at stake in Iraq. It supplements the piece on PSAs that Bernhard linked to the other day. I haven't had a chance to read either one closely yet so there may be some overlap, but this is worth checking out.

Bush's Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq's Oil

Posted by: Bea | Oct 24, 2006 11:35:45 AM | 33

John wrote: The UN dragged its feet with the cease fire in Lebanon, allowing Israel to drop two or three MILLION cluster bombs on the south of the country. They've given themselves up to an evil age for as long as the US can persist in wasting itself in this mad exercise, burning its patrimony in the Middle Eastern deserts. The UN will recognize whatever the US does. The UN cares no more about the Iraqis than it cares about the Palestinians.

Right. Now, everyone knows that the UN is US controlled, and that the Palestinians have had it. Up until three years ago, I was still arguing against UN bashers : well the UN just reflects the state of the world, at least it is a venue where issues can be discussed, etc. etc.

As John mentions but does not elaborate on - The rest of the world has more or less decided that the US should be left to hoist itself on its own petard, or hang itself on its own rope. If given mouthy, minimal support, it will just slowly self destruct, or more hopefully, re-trench behind its own borders, exhausted by wasteful warfare and economic depression. Cooler minds will be able to act, better cooperative agreements can then be put in place, we will be able to forget the lunatic war on terror, Russia will find its rightful place and will no longer be harassed, etc. I have heard / read ordinary people and high up officials either state this baldly or hint at it. There are also high hopes that once Bush is gone return to the status quo ante will be automatic and painless.

All very reassuring, and false.

EU Gvmts. either explicitly realise or intuitively intuit (Ireland seems particularly clueless; Switzerland, the model of greeness, as well) that their large energy-dependent populations, and the economic clout they presently hold, can only survive in two cases: a) domination and forcible control, of the ME in particular; b) cooperation and agreements - a fair is fair attitude - in some kind of world frame. They vacillate between the two but count on the US to lead the fray and are sneakily keeping back, while encouraging prejudice and belligerent attitudes. Wait and see. Jack of diamonds!

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 24, 2006 11:39:49 AM | 34

bea's #33 link

Posted by: annie | Oct 24, 2006 12:16:29 PM | 35

They did hold the pistol to Maliki's head and Maliki did sign whatever paper they told him to sign.

i'm not so sure he actually 'signed 'anything. it appears what he agreed on was a "timetable for progress".. perhaps this means, he agreed to the timetable of sunni's in baghdad become fallujah'd if they don't agree to everything. i do note the sunni focus in the article.

dahr jamail reports Major Amir Jassim from the ministry of defence said

"Now they want to do the same things they did in Fallujah in all Sunni areas so that they ignite a civil war in Iraq,"

in a remarkable piece mentioning negroponte,steele, and the deathsquads partly because i linked to it thru crooks and lairs. i guess the US training the deathsquads is becoming recognized in other mainstream blogs.

A UN human rights report released September last year held interior ministry forces responsible for an organised campaign of detentions, torture and killings. It reported that special police commando units accused of carrying out the killings were recruited from Shia Badr and Mehdi militias, and trained by U.S. forces.

Retired Col. James Steele, who served as advisor on Iraqi security forces to then U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte supervised the training of these forces.

Steele was commander of the U.S. military advisor group in El Salvador 1984-86, while Negroponte was U.S. ambassador to nearby Honduras 1981-85. Negroponte was accused of widespread human rights violations by the Honduras Commission on Human Rights in 1994. The Commission reported the torture and disappearance of at least 184 political workers.

The violations Negroponte oversaw in Honduras were carried out by operatives trained by the CIA, according to a CIA working group set up in 1996 to look into the U.S. role in Honduras.

The CIA records document that his "special intelligence units," better known as "death squads," comprised CIA-trained Honduran armed units which kidnapped, tortured and killed thousands of people suspected of supporting leftist guerrillas.

i agree b, getting much worse.

Posted by: annie | Oct 24, 2006 12:39:55 PM | 36

I'm not sure of this, but the timeline (some confusion here) for training the interior ministries death-squads (by Steele) begain under Allawi and utilized x-Baathists. The ministry was then taken over by the Shiite government of Jaafari and was replaced with Badr operatives, who made the mission sectarian. Not sure if the original people trained by Steele were purged, and started their own death squads, perpetuating the current tit-for-tat sectarian killings.

Posted by: anna missed | Oct 24, 2006 1:12:22 PM | 37

i hadn't thought of that. this may help w/the timeline, from 5/05

Last summer, with the security situation deteriorating, some Iraqi and American officials began to argue that the time had passed for a ‘‘clean hands’’ policy that rejected most of the experienced people who had fought for Saddam Hussein. The first official to take action was Falah al-Naqib, interior minister under the interim government of Ayad Allawi. In August, Naqib formed his own regiment, the Special Police Commandos, drawn from veterans of Hussein’s special forces and the Republican Guard. As its leader, he chose General Adnan, not only because Adnan had a useful collection of colleagues from Iraq’s military and security networks, but also because Adnan is Naqib’s uncle.

Naqib did not ask for permission or training or even equipment from the United States military; he formed and armed the commandos because the U.S. military would not. ‘‘One of the biggest mistakes made by the coalition forces is that they started from zero,’’ he told me in his office in the Green Zone in Baghdad. ‘‘Our army and police are 80 years old. They have lots of experience. They know more about the country and the people, and about the way the insurgents are fighting, than any foreign forces.’’

Initially, Petraeus wasn’t even told of the commandos; Iraqis and American civilians at the Ministry of Interior had lost faith in the U.S. training program. The American who was most involved in the commandos’ creation was Casteel, Naqib’s senior American adviser. Casteel, who previously worked for Paul Bremer in the Coalition Provisional Authority, realized that the de-Baathification policy had to be altered and that Naqib was the person to do it. ‘‘He was not looking for top Baathists or people with blood on their hands,’’ Casteel said. ‘‘But a tremendous amount of people who worked in the government or army weren’t either of those. So why start from scratch when we can start in the middle? That’s where the commando idea was formed.’’

After the commandos set up their headquarters at a bombed-out army base at the edge of the Green Zone, Petraeus went for a visit. He was pleasantly surprised, he told me, to see a force that was relatively disciplined and well motivated. He knew the commandos were officers and soldiers who had served Saddam Hussein, he knew many of them were Sunni and he certainly knew they were not under American control. But he also sensed that they could fight. He challenged some of them to a push-up contest. He was not just embracing a new military formation; he was embracing a new strategy. The hard men of the past would help shape the country’s future.

Petraeus decided that the commandos would receive whatever arms, ammunition and supplies they required. He also assigned Steele to work with them. In addition to his experience in El Salvador, Steele had been in charge of retraining Panama’s security forces following the ousting of Gen. Manuel Noriega. When I asked him to describe Adnan’s leadership qualities, Steele drew on the vocabulary he learned in Latin America. Adnan, he said approvingly, was a caudillo — a military strongman.

Posted by: annie | Oct 24, 2006 2:24:28 PM | 38

Thanks annie, for fixing my link. :)

Posted by: Bea | Oct 24, 2006 2:37:22 PM | 39

Anyone notice that Maureen Dowd's been reading our good friend Billmon. Today's column:

It’s a hilarious spectacle of a whole party re-enacting the classic scene in Mel Brooks’s “Blazing Saddles,” in which the sheriff holds the gun to his own head to take himself hostage.

Compare that to Billmon (10/22):

The appropriate metaphor here is the scene from Blazing Saddles in which the new black sheriff, confronted by an angry mob of racially insensitive townfolk, grabs himself around the neck, points a pistol at his own head and yells: "Don't make a move or the nigger gets it." But, unlike the extras in Mel Brooks's script, I don't think the Maliki government is stupid enough to fall for it.

Billmon is more vivid any day & wins this battle of wits & words.

Posted by: Richard Silverstein | Oct 25, 2006 12:44:28 AM | 40

Richard beat me to it by six hours. At least we can say that Dowd's got good taste in her blog-reading. Also, she's on a five-hundred word diet and probably couldn't get away with putting in the n-word, even in a direct quote.

Posted by: Michael Wasserman | Oct 25, 2006 6:16:34 AM | 41

The comments to this entry are closed.

 

Site Meter