Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 29, 2006

The Gorilla Steps In And Offers A Deal

A mouthpiece for the Saudi leadership, Nawaf Obaid, has placed an unofficial announcement of official Saudi intervention in Iraq in the Washington Post - and the Saudi 800 pound gorilla offers a deal: Stepping Into Iraq.

To get attention Obaid starts off with a serious blast against Bush 43:

In February 2003, a month before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, warned President Bush that he would be "solving one problem and creating five more" if he removed Saddam Hussein by force. Had Bush heeded his advice, Iraq would not now be on the brink of full-blown civil war and disintegration.

One hopes he won't make the same mistake again by ignoring the counsel of Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal, who said in a speech last month that "since America came into Iraq uninvited, it should not leave Iraq uninvited."
[...]

Now the Saudis fear the U.S. will leave Iraq and in effect deliver it to Iranian influence. They will not sit still over this and warn against any withdrawal at all. The warning is not primarily directed at Bush (see the intro paragraph above). But it is definitly intended to impress especially Democrats who are supporting the voters demand of a phased withdrawal.

Just a few months ago it was unthinkable that President Bush would prematurely withdraw a significant number of American troops from Iraq. But it seems possible today, and therefore the Saudi leadership is preparing to substantially revise its Iraq policy. Options now include providing Sunni military leaders (primarily ex-Baathist members of the former Iraqi officer corps, who make up the backbone of the insurgency) with the same types of assistance -- funding, arms and logistical support -- that Iran has been giving to Shiite armed groups for years.

The ongoing civil war in Iraq would escalate into Saudi/Iranian proxy war.

Next there is this paragraph which I first thought to be a bit weird:

Another possibility includes the establishment of new Sunni brigades to combat the Iranian-backed militias. Finally, Abdullah may decide to strangle Iranian funding of the militias through oil policy. If Saudi Arabia boosted production and cut the price of oil in half, the kingdom could still finance its current spending. But it would be devastating to Iran, which is facing economic difficulties even with today's high prices. The result would be to limit Tehran's ability to continue funneling hundreds of millions each year to Shiite militias in Iraq and elsewhere.

Can one threaten the U.S. with lower oil prices?

Definitely not - so this paragraph is the carrot for keeping the U.S. troops in harms way. Saudi financed Sunni brigades could take over Anbar, relief the U.S. there and defend Sunni Iraqis. Meanwhile the U.S. troops shall buffer and fight against Iran influenced Shia Iraqi. The U.S. would be payed for this with lower prices at the pump (that is - if the Saudis really can pump that much.)

That is the offer, and now again the threat:

There is reason to believe that the Bush administration, despite domestic pressure, will heed Saudi Arabia's advice. [...] But if a phased troop withdrawal does begin, the violence will escalate dramatically.

In this case, remaining on the sidelines would be unacceptable to Saudi Arabia. To turn a blind eye to the massacre of Iraqi Sunnis would be to abandon the principles upon which the kingdom was founded. It would undermine Saudi Arabia's credibility in the Sunni world and would be a capitulation to Iran's militarist actions in the region.

To be sure, Saudi engagement in Iraq carries great risks -- it could spark a regional war. So be it: The consequences of inaction are far worse.

The Saudis do have a lot of expensive modern military equipment, but their manpower lacks and their performance in the field is dubious. A serious engagement with Iran would have uncertain results for them. Their own eastern Shia minority would probably try to have a violent say in this too, endangering the oil production.

The threat for a regional war might thereby be a bit of bluster. But the spice must flow and even an uncertain threat of a bigger regional war that would endanger that flow should be enough to get Wall Street thinking.

One could interpret the Saudi argument as a demand to attack Iran, and the neocons will definitly use this in that way, but I doubt that the Saudis really want a Sunni/Neocon Entente.

The Saudi demand is only to stop Shia expension right where it is. This requires, in their view, permanent stationed U.S. troops in Iraq as a tripwire and guarantee that any Iranian expension attempt will have to face a serious U.S. response.

The deal they offer is juicy enough to be swallowed by Baker/Hamilton and any "centrist" Democrat.

But the deal may not be enough for the Neocons. As Professor Cutler explained in two recommanded Znet pieces (1, 2) the Neocon grand strategy has three phases.

  • Empower Iraqi Shia and split them from Iranian Shia, especially over the wilayat al-faqih -- the rule of the jurisprudent, which is supported by Ayatollahs in Iran but not accepted by Sistani in Najaf, Iraq.
  • This will lead to a new, U.S. friendly center of Shia realm in Iraq, and help to roll back Iran as the Shia state and its influence in the Middle East
  • Split off the Saudi Shia minority (and the Saudi oil which conviniently lies is in the same area) and thereby roll back Saudi influence.

The end state of the Neocons desired outcome is expressed in Ralph Peters map (click on the "next" button under the image and then the image) with Saudi Arabia split into three smaller states.

That is definitly not a favored solution for the absolute kingdom in Saudi Arabia. So while the Saudis feared phase one, but supported to a certain degree phase two by taking an anti-Iranian side in the war on Lebanon, they will most probably fight any decisive move further into the direction of phase three, i.e. an attack on Iran.

For the Saudis, the current situation is bad, but unable to reverse it, they are now willing to pay quite a price to freeze it as it is and to stop the development before it gets even worth.

The carrot is on the table. Cheep oil and loyal Sunni brigades if the U.S. stays in Iraq. The stick is there too: If the U.S. retreats it is all out war across the Persian Gulf which would certainly bring the oil-flow and the world economy to a halt.

So what choice will the U.S. establishment and public take?

Posted by b on November 29, 2006 at 09:38 AM | Permalink

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Pesky Democracy in Bahrain

A radical Shia Islamist group has made significant gains in Bahrain's national elections, raising serious concern among neighbouring conservative Sunni monarchies in the region.

Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society has won 16 of the 40 seats in parliament and the party declares that its gains are even more significant than the figures suggest, because it had won all but one of the seats it had contested.

The outcome of the polls has had international reverberations. Bahrain is the base of the US Navy's 5th Fleet and one of the clutch of pro-Western states in the area. Developments here have been watched with trepidation in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Bahraini officials accuse Iran of interfering in the elections by bankrolling Shia parties and even giving some factions arms training - claims strongly denied by Tehran.

Pan-Arab war would suit Tel Aviv

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Nov 29, 2006 9:55:36 AM | 1

Thank you Berhard for that fascinating analysis. I wonder what the Saudi's will think of their new country after the green house effect raises the average temperature in their region of the world to 145F. With lower prices, consumption will rise dramatically here in the States along with CO2 emmissions. Interesting how these nations seem clever in one dimension, but utterly stupid and self-destructive in others. How does peak oil play into all this? Are the Saudi's willing to deplete their reserves ever faster because they have more than we know, or do they just not care?

Posted by: Iron butterfly | Nov 29, 2006 10:15:33 AM | 2

Bernhard not Berhard opps, sorry!

Posted by: Iron butterfly | Nov 29, 2006 10:16:46 AM | 3

Sadr bloc suspends role in Iraq over Bush talks

Radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's political bloc on Wednesday suspended participation in the Iraqi government in protest against Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki's meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush in Jordan.
...
"The Sadr group suspends its membership in parliament and in the cabinet as a protest against the visit, which is considered as a provocation to the Iraqi people," said a statement from the group.

Posted by: b | Nov 29, 2006 10:30:21 AM | 4

It's some of the silliest bluster that I've read recently.

Firstly, the Saudis have little capacity to ramp up oil production these days as is, so they can no longer play the role of global oil price setter on any sustained basis ( ie more than 90 days ). Furthermore, their economy NEEDS oil at current price levels to keep pace with the insatiable appetites of the princes and current population growth rates. There is simply no way that the Saudis can reduce the oil price to $30, and if they could, they would have to abandon OPEC to do so.

Secondly, whilst the Saudi military is well-equipped and well-funded, its officer corps is dominated by the princely class and their acolytes - these people will bleed for no-one and they exist merely to perpetuate the domestic status quo, not for foreign entanglements. So Obaid is really talking about the continuation of their current strategy which is to provide money, via private citizen/religious networks, and some manpower ( jihadists ) for the insurgency - the insurgency which, amongst other things, is currently killing US troops in Iraq - this is where his bluster falls down, as his demand for US troops to stay in Iraq requires that the US accept some Saudi complicity in the insurgency against it, and a sanguine attitude towards the inevitable deaths and injuries to US troops that this entails.

At worst what the Saudis will actually do is continue their reprise of the Afghan strategy of the 1980's and hope that they can contain the blowback that returns home to roost. I find it unlikely that the Saudis will start slipping Iraqi Sunni militants some of their pukka American gear to fight with for fear that it will be used against them.

Whilst Cutler's analysis of the neocon grand strategy strikes me as spot on, it should be noted that the neocons are utterly deluded about Sistani, the relationship between Najaf and Qom ( zero-sum, either-or binary thinking as opposed to the both-and reality ), and completely unable to articulate why Sistani's non-subscription to V-i-F has had no impact upon Iran for the past 25 years. Furthermore, whilst Sistani doesn't subscribe to V-i-F, he does want an islamic state in Iraq, which would require some bureaucratic, legal and constitutional structures which assess the conformity of state legislation to the strictures of Sharia - ie some kind of Assembly of Experts. Politically, Sistani is essentially an old-fashioned 1906 constitutional revolutionary.

The Saudis fear of Iran is not so much based on the religious divide, as the political example that Iran provides ( and this applies to both Jordan and Eqypt too ): if you want dignity, independence, an "islamic modernism" and a society that is in conformity to local values, then you have to start by kicking the corrupt old bums out.

Posted by: dan | Nov 29, 2006 10:41:54 AM | 5

Pentagon Considers Moving Troops From al-Anbar Province to Baghdad


Nov. 28, 2006 — ABC News has learned that Pentagon officials are considering a major strategic shift in Iraq, to move U.S. forces out of the dangerous Sunni-dominated al-Anbar province and join the fight to secure Baghdad.

Looks like they're already planning on abandoning Western Iraq to the Saudi financed Sunnis.

It the Saudis manage to put themselves on the side of "reasonably" priced oil and the Iranians on the side of high priced oil, I think my countrymen and women will do whatever they say to do. Including bombing Iran.

Looks like they've already started the all-out Sunni/Shia war in the Middle East.

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Nov 29, 2006 10:58:52 AM | 6

The irony is that Sadr, who looks more nationalist than a poodle of Tehran, is far closer to want to impose a Rule of the Clerics in Iraq, just as it is in Iran, than Sistani ever will.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Nov 29, 2006 11:25:11 AM | 7

@Dan - the Saudis would not put their troops into Iraq (they could put up two brigades without much problems) but they would finance Iraqi Sunni brigades. The Saudi Kings have an extra tribal force (National Guard) to defend them plus a special Regiment for the same purpose. They fear their own regular army.

As for the oil - I agree with you - it's a bit of a uncertain carrot. As for their fear of a (partly) democratic Iraq, I agree with you.

Still - I think the OpEd will carry quite some weight as an argument to keep the troops in Iraq (especially an argument on the Dem site).

Posted by: b | Nov 29, 2006 11:49:43 AM | 8

thanks b, i am continually amazed by your navigation thru the msm.


and some manpower ( jihadists ) for the insurgency

how come sunnis are called the insurgents (jihadists)?

Posted by: | Nov 29, 2006 12:37:05 PM | 9

opps, that bold was supposed to be italics. (from #5)

Posted by: | Nov 29, 2006 12:38:36 PM | 10

argh.. that was me, third tries the charm?

Posted by: annie | Nov 29, 2006 12:40:13 PM | 11

Combine the Saudi article with the Shiite perspective in Asia Times Bury my heart in the Green Zone, it is clear that the future of Iraq is a bloody partition.

The Saudi response is a pipe dream; the Al Anbar Sunnis have been radicalized. It beggars belief that they would end their rebellion and welcome a continued American occupation. Pulling US troops out of Anbar Province to Baghdad to reinstall the Ba'athists Generals [the reconciliation government] is too Machiavellian. Besides it won't work without US helicopters and tanks attacking the Shiite Militias. Then, the Grand Ayatollah Sistani will issue a fatwa welcoming the infiltration of brother Iranian Revolutionary Guard and ordering a Jihad against the Americans.

The only question is how long Americans allow their troops to led by the madness of King George; or intervene to get their sons and daughters out of the middle of a civil war and let the Iraqis battle on for the future of their country.

Posted by: Jim S | Nov 29, 2006 1:19:57 PM | 12

The shia/sunni war was always a part of the plan. It’s the continuation of the policies and practices which fanned the Iraq/Iran war for ten years. Setting up Shia Iran as a nuclear menace and fanning an on going medium intensity war will be our gift to the wretched region when we pull out. More important than extracting the oil in the region is to make more money with an even smaller amount of it. Fear premium up and extraction and transportation costs down lead to a bigger bottom line... We tie up Iran and Saudi Arabia in an intractable war and use the Shia/Sunni hatred to further advance our warring efforts in other countries in the region. Funniest thing is that it will lead to an alliance between US and Al-Qaeda in the coming years. Thus we’ll complete the circle we started with setting up religious fanatics in Afghanistan which eventually lead to the collapse of an empire. A war between Middle Eastern countries, rather than a direct attack by US or Israel, has always been a favored realist position. At this point too many interests converge in favor of a proxy war between the Saudis and Iranians on Iraqi land so it will happen. Saudis are just happy to oblige Baker and Bush I by doing their part in this scheme. I hate to say it but “I told you so.” I remember taking a lot of flak for pointing this stuff out a while ago.

Max

Posted by: Max Andersen | Nov 29, 2006 1:27:54 PM | 13

Whither, the Kurds in all this mess:

Presidents Jalal Talabani of Iraq and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran held talks Wednesday hours before U.S.
President George W. Bush was due to meet with the Iraqi prime minister in Jordan in talks aimed at finding a solution to Iraq's spiraling bloodshed.

Talabani gave no details on the security agreement with Iran, and Ahmadinejad made no mention of any deal at a joint press conference in Tehran.

"We discussed in the fields of security, economy, oil and industry. Our agreement was complete," Talabani told reporters. "This visit was 100 percent successful. Its result will appear soon."

It was not clear if Talabani's comments reflected an agreement by Tehran to try to rein in Shiite militias. Most of the militias are run by political parties that are a powerful part of the coalition government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. He has resisted U.S. pressure to crack down on the militias.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Nov 29, 2006 2:28:05 PM | 14

I remember taking a lot of flak for pointing this stuff out a while ago.

max! say it isn't so... here at moon?

Posted by: annie | Nov 29, 2006 2:30:09 PM | 15

plot thickens

maliki skips bush meeting. hmm. of course they say it has nothing to do w/that leaked hadly memo about how ineffective he is. supposedly it's rescheduled for tomorrow. (which is today in tne ME is it not??)

Posted by: annie | Nov 29, 2006 2:40:52 PM | 16

@ JFL - When that ABC report about Pace considering withdrawal of US troops from Anbar to Baghdad came over the radio, it seemed to come out of the blue -- until I came to MoA and Bernhard had found the other side of that equation. Like annie, I am repeatedly amazed at Bernhard's inspired reading of the MSM. So is Pace signalling the Saudis? And are Saudi ruling classes united in their position?

@ dan - Thanks for sorting out the positions, interests, and feasibilities so lucidly.

Wonder how US Marines from Anbar and US Army in Baghdad would function side by side?

And what to make about the present proliferation of analysis and leaks sugggesting that the Iraqi government or Maliki government will fail in the next couple months? A Hadley memo about Maliki's lack of will, or of information, or of power is leaked and then confirmed by the Administration. High administration officials race around the Arab world, including a presidential meeting in Amman.

What do the analysts mean by the Iraqi govt "falling"? The Iraqi government appears to do very little now. What would stop this sort of non-governing survival strategy from continuing indefinitely? Is the "fall" of the elected goverment being set up, and the US public being prepared to accept a non-elected Iraqi govt, when it happens?

Everything seems to be in play in the ME right now, doesn't it? Like many poker hands played simultaneously, and major players playing all the hands, while dealing in minor players selectively for some hands. The neocons have achieved, at least, the dynamic situation in the ME, if not necessarily the dynamic they were seeking. But they haven't left the poker table yet.


@ Cloned Poster - Is there any indication that the Shia gains in Bahrain might represent, in some part, Bahraini objections to the US military presence in their country, and not merely shadowy Iranian funds for Shia candidates? Of course, US elections are usually won by the candidates who spend the most money. Why not in Bahrain too?

Posted by: small coke | Nov 29, 2006 2:43:22 PM | 17

- Cheney visits Saudi Arabia (only) over the weekend
- Saudi official says SA would intervene (if need be) in support of Sunnis in Iraq
- Iraq pres is in Iran, with both of them calling each other brothers
- Iran pres writes a letter to the American people
- Bush is in Jordan to visit with King A and Iraq PM al Maliki
- al Sadr wing of Iraqi parliament boycott
- al Maliki snubs Bush meeting
- "civil war" talk every where

it's getting ready to pop..

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 29, 2006 3:12:41 PM | 18

given the status-quo that favors the leaders of Saudi, Egypt & Jordan, its not surprising that they would be alarmed by the expanding postures of Iran, Syria & Hizbollah. But it seems they are not just alarmed, but also challenged in their views. Which is why they were all so quick to condemn Hizbollah when the recent invasion of Lebanon initiated. Even though anyone familair with the Lebanon situation & Hizbollahs capabilities knew it was not going to be a cakewalk for the IDF. So we can be reasonably sure theres going to be more mis-steps from that direction.

"But if a phased troop withdrawal does begin, the violence will escalate dramatically."
this is a very narrow statement. The article offers no background on why this is inevitable. Hence, propaganda maybe ? Also, given the big picture, it suggests the Saudi's are frustrated that they are not as relevant to what happens in Iraq as they would like. Worse, theres some posturing going on too.

The question is whats the nature of the divisions underlying the chaos in Iraq. Before Saudi jumps in to save Iraq, Uhhm I mean the Sunnis, thats who they want to rescue.

Nir Rosen believes the Sunni are in danger of being eliminated from Baghdad. The Saudis are likewise concerned for the survival & well-being of Sunnis in Iraq. Its certainly plausible this could be the progressive outcome of continued conflict. But in order to happen, two things must happen first. The Sunni become too weak & hence incapable of saving themselves. And the Shia in Baghdad decide to destroy or ethnic-cleanse the Sunni's. Neither is imminent or likely at this point.

The civil war in Iraq is actually more of a political dead-lock than a reflection of hostilities between Shia & Sunni. And the ultimate solution is going to come about from un-raveling the political deadlock.

This article does not change anything. Saudi's changed posture does not change much. They can send guns & money to the Sunni's in Iraq but its not going to change the ultimate outcome one bit.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Nov 29, 2006 3:14:23 PM | 19

I'm wondering if the leaked Hadley memo was Act I of a US move to overthrow Maliki and install Allawi or a similar "Sunni strongman" Saddam throwback type. Along with all the "bring the Baath in from the cold" amnesty moves. This would be quite plausible if what was reported above is true -- about Maliki balking at signing on the all-important dotted line -- the one on the oil agreements.

Posted by: Bea | Nov 29, 2006 3:19:53 PM | 20

@small coke and al.

thanks for lauding the piece - it may be totally wrong though - there is so much fog outside right now ...
Some things I didn't get into:

- Saudi=Baker - Baker is the lawyer for the Saudis. He has an office in Riayath - that's where he is making big (billions) money.

The Saudi stuff coming out now is definitly coordinated with Baker.

Baker is also the "hope" of the US military to drag Bush away from the Neocons. So expect the Gernerals (Pace) to fall just in line where Baker (the Saudis) need them.

The US press is playing it like Bush made the Saudis do this or that.

Wrong: The Saudis said do this or that for a while, but now that Bush really got obnoxious they hired Baker to get it done their way. They now essentially said, publicly, either you do it (well, we may pay the bill because we hate to a job at all), or we will kick you out and hire someone else. Wall Street will take a long breath over todays ultimatum.

- The Maliki memo was not leaked, it was what is called a "controlled press release". This one backfired immediately. Bush (Cheney, Hadley) overplayed their cards with Maliki in this. Maliki overplayed his cards in the game with al-Sadr and is rethinking that venue. It's more the Saudi piece than the Hadley piece that hit home today. If the Saudis put up a few billions (peanuts for them) to officially engage on the Sunni side, Maliki has a real problem.

His best chance is to go nationalistic with Sadr AND the Sunni against the US and Saudi Arabia - not shure he has the guts to pull that one off.

- Bahrain - by their "constitution" the majority (shia) has no chance to ever get a majority in the "parliament", half of which is put into place through nominations from the (sunni) ruler.

Posted by: b | Nov 29, 2006 3:22:31 PM | 21

Saudis, and other overseas Sunnis have been funding Iraqi Sunnis all along. It just wasn't official state policy. Where the hell do you think they've been getting the money to fund the resistance. As soon as Idiots fired the army, and overseas Arabs realized what xUS was up to, they had a vested interest in bogging down Americans in Iraq. Had it been a cakewalk, they would have turned their eyes upon other Arab Fiefdoms, errr... countries, w/blood dripping from their fangs. (cf. PNAC rpt.) This was discussed early on in the Guardian, I believe.

Re Baker working w/Saudis in b-'s post above. Don't forget BushDaddy was in the loop as well on this. (And don't forget it was Baker they hired to defend them from lawsuits filed against them by relatives of 911 victims.)

Posted by: jj | Nov 29, 2006 3:41:36 PM | 22

- The Maliki memo was not leaked, it was what is called a "controlled press release"

obviously, the nyt being their preferred dumping ground. if it hadn't been intentended the WH would be calling for someones head, hauled into court, etc, messing w/our national security.

Posted by: | Nov 29, 2006 3:47:21 PM | 23

eh, sorry, me again

Posted by: annie | Nov 29, 2006 4:01:31 PM | 24

Just heard that Bush has agreed to a PlayStation3 tournament with Abdullah tonight.

The nessessary training time required to cancel todays Maliki talk, but sometimes one has to take casulties to achive victory.

Posted by: b | Nov 29, 2006 4:08:05 PM | 25

Saudis, and other overseas Sunnis have been funding Iraqi Sunnis all along. It just wasn't official state policy.

so true.

Saudi is not quite the dominating force on this matter that they would like to be. They really do not have the kinds of cards it would take.

In fact, its doubtful that any of the Baathist insurgent leaders would trust Saudi enough to take refuge there. OTOH many are now operating from Syria.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Nov 29, 2006 4:11:07 PM | 26

Hadley memo to Bush:

We might also need to fill the current four-brigade gap in Baghdad with coalition forces if reliable Iraqi forces are not identified.
The Pentagon's answer:
The Pentagon is developing plans to send four more battalions of U.S. troops to Iraq early next year to boost security in Baghdad, senior defense officials said Wednesday.
A batallion here, a brigade there - it's not going to matter much but the reality split is incredible.

Posted by: b | Nov 29, 2006 4:35:07 PM | 27

Thanks b, for such great posts.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Nov 29, 2006 4:38:11 PM | 28

Saudi is not quite the dominating force on this matter that they would like to be.

They don't have much in military power, but billions to throw around in minutes on the kings word. The current contract with the US is seventy years old and guaranteed cheep oil on one side and security on the other - that could change at a moments notice ...

It's all about economy (i.e. profits) folks - there the Saudis are dominant.

Maybe this with calm down again but the s*** is really hitting the fan right now.

An Iraqi premier snubs the US President on a meeting - any precedence?

Posted by: b | Nov 29, 2006 4:44:19 PM | 29

Its Maliki's "tit" for Sadr's "tat", Maliki will go on and meet Bush, Sadr will rejoin the government, both showing they can throw some weight around. And why should Maliki trust anything Bush might say, especially after the Rumsfeld "he's staying on, he's out" fiasco.

Posted by: anna missed | Nov 29, 2006 5:07:28 PM | 30

one way in which Saudi could assist with speeding the "peace process' would be to help crystallize a common front/agenda for the insurgents/Baathists/Sunni. Their financial clout and authority can certainly help move things along.

Hence providing another channel of communnication, incentives & pressurre to the Baathists would for Baker would also definitely be a worthwhile assist.

as "Jim S" said, the Baathists are not going to quit fighting the occcupation, not even for how many billions or incentives the Saudi's offer them.

Unfortunately, there is no real forward progress until the occupation is brought under a schedule acceptable to the Sunni/Baathists.

Every day of violence weakens the current SCIRI/Dawa coalition in power, whilst strengthening the hand of Sadr. As cynical as the thought may be, thats not the worst thing from the Sunni POV. They would much rather deal with a nationalistic Sadr who is committed to keeping Iraq whole.

Still, the Saudi's may be somewhat more relevant than the Pope was when Stalin asked "How many divisions does the Pope have ?"

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Nov 29, 2006 5:41:29 PM | 31

b

thank you for your considered posts

have just been watching a stream/al jazeera in english. it's a very polished affair. seems quite savvy & it must be the only place for the generation of english language who followed the principle journalists of the calibre of pilger & fisk - very watchable in a way the 24/7 has never been in that they just pick up their talling points from whatever whore is offering press releases at the white house

also a good article in harpers on the student who worked for the lincoln group in iraq written last year but already revealing the slaughterhouse of iraq for what it is

events are spinning out of control for the empire - yes they want chaos & chaos serves them but they are not the only players in this game & the map of the middle east & also of south east asia is affected by every minute there

the western media have been so congenitally incapable of translating any of the truth of this immoral war & bloody occupation that they are caught up in the whirlwind of their own lies, their semantic shifts, their linguistic lollypops changing from day to day on this or that question

it seems, from here that all that the resistance has to do is to manage their timing & in this they have been proved masters & that in a situation where they are not cohesive. when they are capable of that cohesion - the empire will meet not one but many vietnams, where the empire will suffer not one but many stalingrads

no wonder the empire is fighting for its life at the cost of the murder of the people of iraq & the death of its own citizens because if it cannot win there - then it is a given that it cannot do so anywhere on earth & as i have sd before it is no accident that the new light of latin america takes place while the empire is being taken down in the middle east

as for malaki - he is a tool both for the u s & for his pals the iranians - except he is more victim than perpetrator but not someone i would shed tears over - the monkeys diem & thieu & ky in vietnam at least were hidden from the western publics - the indecencies of their rule were obvious only to those who suffered under them - but here in iraq - they are both puppets & fools & evidently so

& this is still only the beginning

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 29, 2006 6:18:15 PM | 32

Another aha! moment in the Whiskey Bar via Moon of Alabama. Thanks to Bernhard and sundry commenters for cutting thru the subtleties.

Posted by: Zotz | Nov 29, 2006 6:55:06 PM | 33

"His best chance is to go nationalistic with Sadr AND the Sunni against the US and Saudi Arabia - not shure he has the guts to pull that one off."

I still don't rule out that Sadr himself may try the trick sooner or later. Well, he has more chances if he pulls it soon, because the longer he waits, the nastier "intersectarian hatred" will be overall. For a time, I supposed Maliki could try it as well since it's the only single way any Iraqi government can keep power.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Nov 29, 2006 7:16:39 PM | 34

So let me get this straight:

First we went in there to get WMD's. Then we went in to overthrow Saddam. Then we were there to restore democracy. Now we're staying there so the Saudi's don't have to bankroll the insurgency? Am I awake?

Posted by: PeeDee | Nov 29, 2006 8:49:01 PM | 35

the empire is taking farce where it has never been before

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 29, 2006 8:53:47 PM | 36

"to boldly go," splitting infinitives all the way.

Prime directive? We don't need no steenkeen' Prime directive. We're the Federation/Empire/guys with the silver star....

Posted by: catlady | Nov 29, 2006 9:14:24 PM | 37

@r'giap #36:

the empire is taking farce where it has never been before

Reminds me of the Marx Bros. "Duck Soup" with fewer laughs.


BTW, where's Billmon?

Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Nov 29, 2006 9:46:09 PM | 38

"The ISG will provide cover for the Bush administration to shift course in Iraq. It will pave the way for the Democratic Congress to endorse that shift in a great show of bipartisanship. But it will hold no one responsible."

"The guardians of the foreign policy status quo are counting on the panel to extricate the US from Iraq."

Iraq's panel's real agenda

As I mentioned yesterday on a MOA open thread, I believe the Cheney/Saudi meeting was to assure assistance in U.S. transition. The decision has been made.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Nov 29, 2006 10:15:28 PM | 39

btw rick happ, it's good to see you back, you were gone for quite a while.. and thank you for your efforts in keeping our r'giap afloat and in our midst..

Posted by: annie | Nov 29, 2006 10:40:17 PM | 40

#35 Am I awake?

prcisely, i believe you are!

are the badr brigades and sadr united? isn't sadr a nationalist? according to this 05 article we supported badr's incursion into iraq

The Badr forces traitorously fought for Iran against Iraq, and its battle-hardened units—armed and financed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards—were brought into Iraq in 2003 with U.S. assistance

what are the chances of a split w/in the shiite population? ceratinly there are as many secular shiites as sunnis.

Posted by: annie | Nov 29, 2006 10:50:06 PM | 41

Yes, good to see you back Rick.

Posted by: anna missed | Nov 29, 2006 11:01:44 PM | 42

As I have said before, what make's the US think they have the choice of whether to pull out or not? Sorry, but the US is no longer in control of its destiny. That was forfeited when it intentionally screwed up the occupation of Iraq.

I feel sorry and partially guilty (as an American) for what has happened and will happen to Iraqis. But as far removed from power and distance as I am, I can only hope that the US remains ensnared in Iraq for as long as possible. I know there are many evils in the world and the US govt. is only one, but for the immediate term, it's the biggest.

The US doesn't want to call it a civil war because it would provide those fleeing legitamacy to seek refugee status. How many would the US be willing to take?

Posted by: biklett | Nov 29, 2006 11:15:19 PM | 43

But as far removed from power and distance as I am, I can only hope that the US remains ensnared in Iraq for as long as possible. I know there are many evils in the world and the US govt. is only one, but for the immediate term, it's the biggest.

this is vile bullshit.

Posted by: slothrop | Nov 29, 2006 11:16:57 PM | 44

I would like to post more, but have been pretty busy. Still read the posts a lot. Also, so many personal attacks turn me off ....but it appears the personal attacks at MOA have settled down a bit, so maybe it is safe to post a little.

Things have gotten so bad in Iraq that even with the U.S. leaving, a regional conflict could easily happen. Pretty scary. Still holding my breath with phase 2 as to Lebanon/Israel. So many factors and none good.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Nov 29, 2006 11:28:07 PM | 45

Speaking of things spinning out of control for the empire - does anyone else NOT think that it's a mere coincidence that China is giving the dollar yips,via talk of dumping some of their stash, at the same time they're signing oil contracts w/Iran. Isn't that a warning - you bastards move on Iran/ie our oil supply & we'll bring down the dollar?

Posted by: jj | Nov 29, 2006 11:28:37 PM | 46

Question - there's all this yak about things getting so bad in Iraq. Does anyone think it's really much worse, or that the lid is being pried open now & more news is coming out, to forestall moves on Iran perhaps. Or maybe what's worse is that Iraq has rebelled & refused to allow the Empire to steal everything & the Empire is furious....or...We simply have not been told about fighting all over the country for last several years during which time roads so dangerous they were largely impassable & Baghdad was so riven by conflict that reporters dare not leave their hotels. So, what's new about fighting all over Iraq? (Hope that doesn't sound like a stupid question! :) )

Posted by: jj | Nov 29, 2006 11:33:23 PM | 47

Badger at http://arablinks.blogspot.com/>missing links has noticed that the Hadley memo being circulated, has been truncated in the NYT report leaving out the last 3 items -- that were not left out in the arab Azzamman report. Further, Azzamman has issued another report citing an "alternative" set of recomendations "frrom U.S. insiders". In part:

I mention this because actually there seem to be three versions. This morning (Thursday November 30), Azzaman prints on its front page what it calls the "alternative, Amman program", by which it means "alternative" to the six-point Hadley program it had outlined on Tuesday.
The "alternative, Amman program" is basically a program for a coup under another name. Here is the whole Azzaman piece:

Observers are asking about the alternatives to the Stephen Hadley policy, and high-level sources talked about an "Amman program" which they described as the ready substitute for the Hadley program. They said Bush is going to give Maliki a deadline which won't go beyond the end of the year to improve the situation in Iraq, in default of which he [Bush] will initiate an alternative program which consists of five points: (1) Initiation of military action by Iraqi special forces supported by the multinational forces to disarm the militias; (2) issuance of a new resolution by the Security Council reorganizing the multinational force in Iraq under the supervision of the international organization, with the US retaining the leading role, but including forces from Arab and Islamic countries, and also Asian and European ones, excluding however the six neighboring countries; and this would be done simultaneously with the creation of an Iraqi government composed of technocrats, without any type quota-measurements; (4) this Iraqi government would undertake the re-organization of the armed forces and guarantee their loyalty to the state only; (5) preparation of a new elections law in preparation for new elections for a parliament which would undertake revisions to the constitution and revision of the law respecting federal regions and guaranteeing central government control over natural resources including oil and minerals.

This is essentially a prescription for a coup d'etat, by any other name. And I suppose the "lead" being offered Maliki, should he refuse the "gold".

Posted by: anna missed | Nov 29, 2006 11:37:05 PM | 48

jj,
The loss of any form of government authority/security/order at all is worse. Millions of people require security, infrastructure, etc.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Nov 29, 2006 11:41:06 PM | 49

A much-discussed independent panel will recommend that U.S. troops in Iraq be withdrawn, according to an article that will appear on the front page of The New York Times.

http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/NYT_Iraq_panel_to_recommend_troop_1129.html

just posted

Posted by: Rick Happ | Nov 29, 2006 11:53:08 PM | 50

jj @ 47: ...the Empire is furious....

The Empire may not yet realize that it's bumping up against more and more signs that its influence (specifically in Iraq, and the beginnings of 'in general') has been waining for quite a while.

Bullies, (dry) drunken or otherwise, generally don't believe limits can be placed on their behavior. A failure to achieve what they'd always taken for granted in the past (getting their own way) usually results in stronger attempts to obtain it.

In the end, they may be humiliated, lose power, and become Figures Of Pathetic Fun. Or, they can completely lose control and do Very Bad Things.

Posted by: Austin Cooper | Nov 29, 2006 11:56:23 PM | 51

anna missed:

Coupled with the press release from Saudia Arabia it looks like present US regime is going to make Maliki an offer he can't accept followed by a big push to reinstate Sunni control of Iraqi oil.

If I were Maliki I'd stop trying to play ball with the occupiers and instead order them out of the country. Then throw in with Sadr to cutoff occupation supply lines and remind the Kurds that their only chance is in alliance with the Shia against the Sunni. The Kurdish President of Iraq just concluded pleasant talks with the Iranians, didn't he?

I would have done all this as soon as I was elected. It may be too late for Maliki personally but I wouldn't be surprised if Sadr carried through on his own with the Iranians covering his back.

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Nov 30, 2006 12:25:35 AM | 52

8:30 AM? now in Amman. If today goes smoothly for Feckless Leader, I'll be surprised. Condi's off to visit her new flame, Olmert.
Where's Dick?

Posted by: Dick Durata | Nov 30, 2006 12:35:47 AM | 53

Experts question proposals in leaked Iraq memo

Experts also were skeptical of a Hadley proposal that the United States provide "monetary support" for forming a new coalition of moderate Shiite, Sunni and ethnic Kurdish parliamentarians to keep Maliki in power if he's unable to cut loose from Sadr.

Several experts wondered what moderates Hadley was referring to.

Simply a joke ... the Hadley memo that is ...

Posted by: b | Nov 30, 2006 1:07:44 AM | 54

Badger (thanks anna missed)

In other words, where Azzaman reported a six-point list including frankly pro-Sunni points, the Hadley memo NYT version refers to three points, and leaves out three. The three points that are left out of the Hadley memo NYT version are the points that take the package out of the realm of classic "reforms" and make it a clear "pro-Sunni" policy: Compensating ex-Baathists, and rolling back the federalism legislation, for example.

So: Either Azzaman made up the latter points, which is doubtful to the point being unthinkable, or else what we have seen so far is two versions of the Hadley policy, a soft version as outlined in the Hadley memo NYT version for English-speaking eyes, and a hard version summarized by Azzaman for the edification of the Sunni Arabs.
...
The "alternative, Amman program" is basically a program for a coup under another name.

- I doubt this Azzaman report correctness a bit, but well ...

Posted by: b | Nov 30, 2006 1:14:43 AM | 55

"I think for us to get American military personnel involved in a civil war inside Iraq would literally be a quagmire. Once we got to Baghdad, what would we do? Who would we put in power? What kind of government would we have? Would it be a Sunni government, a Shia government, a Kurdish government? Would it be secular along the lines of the Ba’ath Party? Would it be fundamentalist Islamic? I do not think the United States wants to have U.S. military forces accept casualties and accept the responsibility of trying to govern Iraq. I think it makes no sense at all."

April 7, 1991
Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney

Remember this when Bush dead-enders start whining about "no one could have forseen the mess Iraq would turn into."

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 30, 2006 1:31:14 AM | 56

@ Rick Happ 39 Thanks for linking to Bacevich's sweet diatribe.
I loved every word of it. It is also of interest that such
plain speaking is coming from the very establishmentarian but independently operated Cristian Science Monitor. It would seem that
the Brahmins are as fed up with the criminal elite as are mere peons
and pointy-heads.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Nov 30, 2006 1:58:25 AM | 57

@44,

Whatever, dude.

Posted by: biklett | Nov 30, 2006 2:09:40 AM | 58

Iraq Panel to Recommend Pullback of Combat Troops

The bipartisan Iraq Study Group reached a consensus on Wednesday on a final report that will call for a gradual pullback of the 15 American combat brigades now in Iraq but stop short of setting a firm timetable for their withdrawal, according to people familiar with the panel’s deliberations.
- "stay the course"

Bush, Iraqi PM Al - Maliki Meet in Jordan

President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Thursday opened talks originally set for the day before but canceled following disclosure of U.S. doubts about the Iraqi leader's capabilities and a Baghdad protest of his attendance.

Instead of talks over two days, the stunning turn of events found Bush and al-Maliki meeting for a working breakfast that was to be followed by a longer session and a news conference. The Iraqi prime minister came to Bush's hotel.
...
Bush had been scheduled to participate in a three-way session with al-Maliki and Jordan's King Abdullah II, rearranging his overseas itinerary to be in Amman for both days for talks aimed at reducing the spiral of violence in Iraq.
...
Redha Jawad Taqi, a senior aide of top Shiite politician Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim who also was in Amman, said the Iraqis balked at the three-way meeting after learning the king wanted to broaden the talks to include the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Two senior officials traveling with al-Maliki, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, said the prime minister had been reluctant to travel to Jordan in the first place and decided, once in Amman, that he did not want ''a third party'' involved in talks about subjects specific to the U.S.-Iraqi relationship.

Posted by: b | Nov 30, 2006 2:12:26 AM | 59

Message of H.E. Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad President of the Islamic Republic of Iran To the American People (pdf)

While Divine providence has placed Iran and the United States geographically far apart, we should be cognizant that human values and our common human spirit, which proclaim the dignity and exalted worth of all human beings, have brought our two great nations of Iran and the United States closer together.

Both our nations are God-fearing, truth-loving and justice-seeking, and both seek dignity, respect and perfection.

Both greatly value and readily embrace the promotion of human ideals such as compassion, empathy, respect for the rights of human beings, securing justice and equity, and defending the innocent and the weak against oppressors and bullies.

We are all inclined towards the good, and towards extending a helping hand to one another, particularly to those in need.

We all deplore injustice, the trampling of peoples’ rights and the intimidation and humiliation of human beings.

We all detest darkness, deceit, lies and distortion, and seek and admire salvation, enlightenment, sincerity and honesty.

The pure human essence of the two great nations of Iran and the United States testify to the veracity of these statements.
...

Posted by: b | Nov 30, 2006 2:19:32 AM | 60

Does it worry anyone else that the whole gang is out of the country?

Whose running the show here in the fatherland Jesusland?

Jeez, I smoked my prozac and everything just like it says on the instructions label...lol

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 30, 2006 2:25:11 AM | 61

Does it worry anyone else that the whole gang is out of the country?

Whose running the show here in the fatherland Jesusland?

Jeez, I smoked my prozac and everything just like it says on the instructions label...lol

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 30, 2006 2:26:04 AM | 62

opps...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 30, 2006 2:26:44 AM | 63

Bicklett,43

That was forfeited when it intentionally screwed up the occupation of Iraq.

I don't agree with that - it happened when the US invaded Iraq illegaly.

I am a little frustrated that the discussion is mostly that the US messed up the occupation - otherwise the illegal invasion would have been okay. The US should not be held responsible for the messed up occupation - it should be held responsible for invading an independent foreign country that posed no thread to the US.

Posted by: Fran | Nov 30, 2006 2:26:51 AM | 64

Bravo fran, I'm with ya..

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 30, 2006 2:28:33 AM | 65

NBC's Andrea Mitchell discovered that the Baker-Hamilton commission had taken time from its deliberations for "a class photo . . . shot by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz." The Washington Post's Robin Wright learned yesterday that Men's Vogue would be publishing the spread.

"Through coverage of art and architecture, travel and food, politics and finance, books and sports, custom tailoring and fine watches," the magazine's mission statement says, it "will define a new male sensibility -- smart, worldly, mature, and ready to discover more." Such as how to fix Iraq.

One War, No Answers

Posted by: b | Nov 30, 2006 2:43:59 AM | 66

Oh yes. The crime was not incompetence, though the Bush Pirates have that in spades. The crime was believing they could reshape the world in their image, by force of arms. Once that decision was made, the project was doomed.

They Have Reached Too Far, 3/20/03

Posted by: Rowan | Nov 30, 2006 2:47:04 AM | 67

it should be held responsible for invading an independent foreign country that posed no thread to the US.

Damn...what you smokin' baby....they had the gall to be sittin' on Exxon's Oil...

More seriously, threatening to sell oil in Euro's & not recyle dollars thru NY Banks was a Huge threat financially...But as Jay Garner (wasn't that name of first pro-consul?) insisted, the occupation & demand to steal absolutely everything don't inevitably follow from the invasion. Had they let Garner run things, he would have organized elections in 30 days, could have gotten a few concessions in return for putting in a govt. friendly to US that wasn't Saddam (see above) & gotten out.

Posted by: jj | Nov 30, 2006 3:12:41 AM | 68

First impressions of the Bush/Maliki press (public face) conference, is Maliki and Bush agree to back one another and buy more time. This enables Bush to "stay the course" and pre-empt the ISG, but at the price of ceding Maliki greater control of the Iraqi security forces. How well this will sit with the Sadr block, on hiatus, will be judged on when (and if) they return. Curiously, Bush appeared in full campaign mode, singin that same old democracy and freedom in the middle east song, comming across as worn out and petulant. Maliki, on the other hand, seemed like he just wanted it all to be over, and go home with what may or may not play as a concession -- but not that the gun has been lifted from his head.

Posted by: anna missed | Nov 30, 2006 4:22:41 AM | 69

if Bakers ISG does recommend withhdrawal and also negotiations with Iran & Syria, this looks like a positive step. At the very least, they would have brought more semblancce of reality into the proccess.

FWIW, Baker style is hard-nosed and he's generally taken a realistic type approach. He must know theres any number of things coming down in the next two years of Dem leadershhip & hearings that can make GWB & the Repubs look even much worse than now. He must know the Dems will play along for a little while, but they will inevitably at some point before 2008, seize the rationale to "jump off the bus".

and then call for a "much-better-withdrawal-approach-type-X", because the Repubs have "made the war unwinable", "the window of opporutnity has been lost", "Repub corruption/incompetence" ... etc

2008 could mean melt-down for the Repubs. and Baker must know it. Still Dems would be wise to watch for traps along the way.

it seems its now about establishing frames for negotiations involving Iran & Syria and the factions in Iraq, with the Saudi's been granted an inside-track by Baker. And over the next few weeks, its possible there will have been enough movement from the US to make talks worth-while for everyone.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Nov 30, 2006 5:25:45 AM | 70

Another note: Whats to be made of Cheneys recent visit to Saudia Arabia, where king Abdullah confirmed he was willing to support Sunni interests in Iraq (overtly) if the U.S. were to withdraw forces -or- can it be seen that the U.S. conceeding more military control to Maliki might be seen, in Riyadh, as defacto withdrawl, ceding yet even more power to Shiite consolidation of power. Iran smiles at the deciders "hooked on a feeling" obstanance.

Posted by: anna missed | Nov 30, 2006 6:02:03 AM | 71

@jony - Baker does not recommend withdrawal - the Saudis pay him and they said no.

Negotiations, maybe, next year or later ...

It's complete "stay the course" - the Dems should fight this (some will) starting immediately. Otherwise, they will stick with the "tar baby"

Posted by: b | Nov 30, 2006 6:03:15 AM | 72

b@72

I see your point.

its still all speculative as to what Baker will report. And even though hes on the Saudi payroll, they probably need him as much as he needs them. perhaps more. And at the very least, Baaker will ensure that Saudi remains relevant in the process. Hence Saudi wraps itself in the Sunni flag to complete the frame.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Nov 30, 2006 6:20:41 AM | 73

Whats to be made of Cheneys recent visit to Saudia Arabia, where king Abdullah confirmed he was willing to support Sunni interests in Iraq (overtly) if the U.S. were to withdraw forces -or- can it be seen that the U.S. conceeding more military control to Maliki

it occurs to me the US wouldn't be want to be seen as changin horses in the middle of the stream. there has never been any overt framing in the press of US/shiite vs sunni. the sunnis opposition is always called insurgent or AQ. what is it going to look like when we back off of them, oh yeah, we already know w/the abc report yesterday. its framed as al anbar is so bad we are pulling out of there. not that we have been told to back off sunni from SA. the obvious image that cannot come out of this is US vs iraqi govt. certainly we can't seem to be in opposition to those same troops we trained. and that is exactly the position we will be in if we back any sunni strong arm. its hard for me to view the cheney/SA king meeting without the implications of it taking place directly after the kings meeting w/al-Dhari. was al dhari seeking the assistance of the king, or was he summoned by the king? who initiated the cheney meeting? was cheney summoned? who needs whom most? was cheney seeking favor w/the king? because if he was it could never be framed that way by the msm. it would be framed as SA requesting something from the US. to not leave, of course. but what if it was cheney asking the king to step in and help assist the US in this untenable shiite situation which balance has spun out of control by maliki(and US) having lost control over either sadr and iranian influence? one strong indication that it was king abdullah w/the upper hand is the idea of concessions being made re palestine. clearly shiite iraq interests thinks nothing of this as indicated in b's #59 link. this strongly suggests cheney seeking needed SA support, most likely because SA has threatened to become involved either way, baker/US/cheney (the whole tamale) want to change horses in the middle of the stream, are going to find themselves opposing the government they built and imposed on iraq.

Hence Saudi wraps itself in the Sunni flag to complete the frame.

saudi is sunni already , no? they are about as wrapped as can be from the get go.

Posted by: annie | Nov 30, 2006 7:54:18 AM | 74

well, i am guilty of the cardinal sin of not reading the whole thread before posting.

#48 (1) Initiation of military action by Iraqi special forces supported by the multinational forces to disarm the militias;

there you have it. US vs the iraqi gov't. and we are supposed to believe this is going to take place after another a year of sitting back and letting the iraqis kill eachother off so we can come in and mop up the leftovers?

Or maybe what's worse is that Iraq has rebelled & refused to allow the Empire to steal everything & the Empire is furious....or...

yes, that about says it all.

We simply have not been told about fighting all over the country for last several years during which time roads so dangerous they were largely impassable & Baghdad was so riven by conflict that reporters dare not leave their hotels. So, what's new about fighting all over Iraq? (Hope that doesn't sound like a stupid question! :) )

whats new is it is december, the oil contracts need to be signed and haven't been. we cannot just go in and implement a little coup w/out being seen the blatant dominating power that we are, the escalation of violence is allowed to seep out, but NOT as a civil war. people will start asking what side we're on, can't have that. cats almost out of the bag .

Posted by: annie | Nov 30, 2006 8:26:11 AM | 75

Reuters article about the Iraqi oil sector could have been penned by a Cheney staffer:

Salvation, in the form of an eagerly-awaited oil law designed to unify the country and lure foreign investment, is unlikely to arrive by the end of the year.

Salvation for whom? eagerly-awaited by whom?

Posted by: ran | Nov 30, 2006 8:45:21 AM | 76

ran, like anyone has to wonder why this is all going on now?

Posted by: annie | Nov 30, 2006 8:49:15 AM | 77

Just to say thanks for Bernhard for the fabulous work. My reply to this post can be found at profcutler.com

Best to MoA, as always.

-Cutler

Posted by: Cutler | Nov 30, 2006 10:01:46 AM | 78

Gah'bless the MGAF; Oh, yes. Sara Robinson ("You Don't Have To Be Crazy...But It Helps"), speaking via The Big Orca

Andy Bromage, writing this week in the New Haven Advocate:

"A collective 'I told you so' will ripple through the world of Bush-bashers once news of Christopher Lohse’s study gets out... Lohse, a social work master’s student at Southern Connecticut State University, says he has proven what many progressives have probably suspected for years: a direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush.

"Lohse says his study is no joke. The thesis draws on a survey of 69 psychiatric outpatients in three Connecticut locations during the 2004 presidential election. Lohse’s study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a person’s psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.

...

" 'Our study shows that psychotic patients prefer an authoritative leader,' Lohse says. “If your world is very mixed up, there’s something very comforting about someone telling you, "This is how it’s going to be."

"The study was an advocacy project of sorts, designed to register mentally ill voters and encourage them to go to the polls, Lohse explains. The Bush trend was revealed later on.

"The study used Modified General Assessment Functioning, or MGAF, a 100-point scale that measures the functioning of disabled patients. A second scale, developed by Rakfeldt, was also used. Knowledge of current issues, government and politics were assessed on a 12-item scale devised by the study authors.

" 'Bush supporters had significantly less knowledge about current issues, government and politics than those who supported Kerry,' the study says.

"Lohse says the trend isn’t unique to Bush: A 1977 study by Frumkin & Ibrahim found psychiatric patients preferred Nixon over McGovern in the 1972 election."

And the punchline:

"For his part, Lohse is a self-described 'Reagan revolution fanatic' but said that W. is just 'beyond the pale.'

Posted by: Austin Cooper | Nov 30, 2006 10:39:52 AM | 79

i too have been mad about my country and believed it to be the unmitigated evil of the universe. and at times, i have enjoyed my disgust confirmed by expats and europeans and others here, even though the commiserations are often inspired by hypocrisy. in any case, wishing abject failure now for the u.s. is curious to me given the ramifications to the rest of the world, not to mention to the middle east. to say the u.s. retains sole responsibility for this disaster is really incredibly absurd. it is obvious now the region's violence insinuates global instability which no "withdrawal" or "redeployment" or apocalyptic fantasy of the "destruction" of the "empire" will mitigate.

in other words, you should be careful what you wish for.

Posted by: slothrop | Nov 30, 2006 11:15:33 AM | 80

@Austin Cooper re:#79

From the comment section over at The Big Orca

honestly, pathologizing political disagreement is something y'all should know better than to do. that's a classic move in eliminationist rhetoric.

Mental illness still is incredibly stigmatized, as witnessed by the snide suggestion upthread[*] that we don't deserve to vote. This was a tiny (69 person sample size) after study datamine, not even worth reporting, other than for the cheap thrill of calling bush lovers "crazy."

This is stigmatizing, and has no valid political or social message. ~by commenter sly citizen

Interestingly enough, I agree with this in part, however I find it yet again curious that these things are being flagged in the blogsphere of late, especially in light of recent news of the possible pathologizing of political disagreement and which I posted about here and here.

It's as if someone or something is trying to drum up a back channel of undertow for yet another torture ethics debate as kabuki theater.


* the commenter here is refering to another comment from the same section..

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 30, 2006 11:44:19 AM | 81

"in other words, you should be careful what you wish for."

my wish is for speedy negotiations that lead to as timely a withdrawal as is possible because it appears it's the occupation thats fueling the ghastly unending violence there.

otherwise, immediate withdrawal is the next best option.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Nov 30, 2006 11:47:25 AM | 82

Addendum...
Re:my #81

One word: Foucault.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 30, 2006 11:55:10 AM | 83

it's the occupation thats fueling the ghastly unending violence there.

let's pick this apart:

u.s. leaves:

a) sunnis are screwed
b) defacto partition
-western iraq as weird jihadist hellhole
-kurdistan as vulnerable satrap of u.s. in endless war over kirkuk
-shiistan south pulled between iran influence and saudi belligerence
c) one can expect partition to be far more bloody than is now the case
d) region-wide war

u.s. "stays" (with intermittent pullback to iraq bases, i suppose)

a) forces europe to do something, anything
b) forces u.s. to concede the whole masters of reality thing
c) forces u.s. to deal w/ syria & iran
d) forces "quartet" to move on palestinian crisis
e) forces sunni to more conciliatory relation w/ u.s.
f) defends what all along was noble: emancipation of arab shia

we can't leave. no way.

Posted by: slothrop | Nov 30, 2006 12:07:16 PM | 84

also, we need a draft, pronto. europe, u.s. in particular must prevent further slaughter in subsaharan africa. it's more than just about iraq.

Posted by: slothrop | Nov 30, 2006 12:11:54 PM | 85

also, we need a draft, pronto. europe, u.s. in particular must prevent further slaughter in subsaharan africa. it's more than just about iraq.

When did you sign up?

Posted by: b | Nov 30, 2006 12:47:46 PM | 86

slothrop,

first, it looks like you get your wish or I do.

or we may have a split if the US strategically deploys a significantly reduced force to bases within Iraq and Arab/Muslim peacekeepers come in to restore security pending the outcome of negotiations between Shia/Sunni & the regional nations.

on second thoughts, I think this outcome might be closer to my wish than yours as your post may in effect indicate an indefinite stay in Iraq, unless I misread you.

on partition, there seems to be more interest in partition outside Iraq than within it. Usually its the other way around. So I'm not too worried that the Iraqi's will butcher themselves into partition.

again inside Iraq, two-thirds of the population want the US out. Thats what they want. Plus they believe (and they have a big point here) that barring oil, the US would not insist on staying.

anyways, thats how I see it

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Nov 30, 2006 12:53:49 PM | 87

free mexican air force

all able citizens should be duty-bound to serve in the military. as in some countries in the "developed" world.

Posted by: slothrop | Nov 30, 2006 12:54:19 PM | 88

I'm not too worried that the Iraqi's will butcher themselves into partition.

oh dear. before our very eyes!

Posted by: slothrop | Nov 30, 2006 12:56:41 PM | 89

Fran @64,

I agree with you. I wasn't endorsing the invasion and of course the US couldn't leave once the invasion began, my point was that having intentionally created the chaos by removing all civil government and encouraging sectarian fighting, the US is forced to keep over 140K troops in Iraq for a long time. I'm sure they planned on permanent bases but not to be still in major defensive counter insurgency battles at this time.

So, this factors in to whether US invades Iran, loosening US grip on Central and South America, etc. Letting the world progress and improve itself while the bully is distracted. There are plenty of other greedy, dangerous powers and people to avoid as well.

Posted by: biklett | Nov 30, 2006 1:09:39 PM | 90

What we need is to start pulling out of Iraq today.

What we need is an effort to develop renewable energy resources. Then say "thanks, but no thanks" to the oil barons and the whole Middle East. Don't think it can be done?

There are microorganisms that can couple solar energy to the production of hydrogen, methane, or higher alkanes. If we can make bugs make insulin, we can make bugs make enough hydrocarbon to wean us off fossil fuel forever, and lower carbon dioxide in the environment, too. And we'd have these processes, for a development cost a fraction of what the endless war costs.

Keep up the excellent work, Moon.

Posted by: kelley b. | Nov 30, 2006 1:12:06 PM | 91

a) forces europe to do something, anything

Could you elaborate on this? I don't see it.

b) forces u.s. to concede the whole masters of reality thing

US won't concede shit. Ever.

c) forces u.s. to deal w/ syria & iran

Yea, via bunker busters. Shrub and Shooter don't talk to their enemies, period.

d) forces "quartet" to move on palestinian crisis

In the face of proven Israeli intransigence and proven determination of Shrubco to coddle them?

e) forces sunni to more conciliatory relation w/ u.s.

Sure, GIs continuing to murder Sunnis will definitely make them more conciliatory.

f) defends what all along was noble: emancipation of arab shia

That's why we're there? So we're gonna make nice with Sadr and Hizzbollah now?

Posted by: ran | Nov 30, 2006 2:42:05 PM | 92

http://arablinks.blogspot.com/>Badger has a post today citing the rising tide of discontent in the arab world, about the direction of events in Iraq. Clearly, the arab regimes are upset with the rising tide of Shiism the U.S. has (and continues to) enabled, and are beginning to pressure the U.S. for a reversal in policy. Implicit in this reflection is the sense that the arab regimes feel they are being drawn into a major regional conflageration. That the U.S. policy has been catalytic, a foreign irritant particle that now demands action they would might rather avoid like the plague. At some point, and we may already be there, the velocity of events will have left the american presence in Iraq as irrevelant and moot. When thats understood, the U.S. troops can leave, and no one will much notice, comparied to what has been unleashed.

Posted by: anna missed | Nov 30, 2006 2:52:26 PM | 93

"all able citizens should be duty-bound to serve in the military. as in some countries in the "developed" world."

No, this is vile bullshit.

Posted by: ran | Nov 30, 2006 3:16:44 PM | 94

anna missed. that site seems to be down, hopefully temporary. i read it a few hrs ago tho, badger is becoming a staple for me.

Posted by: annie | Nov 30, 2006 3:17:20 PM | 95

At some point, and we may already be there, the velocity of events will have left the american presence in Iraq as irrevelant and moot. When thats understood, the U.S. troops can leave, and no one will much notice, comparied to what has been unleashed.

Ledeen's cauldron will boil and he'll sit back and watch the "bubbles".

Posted by: b | Nov 30, 2006 3:25:52 PM | 96

slothrop

i assure you, that you will be a witness to the ignomonious defeat of the empire, or the bullyboy of international finance as you are apt to call it - & it will happen in a way you have not foreseen in your posts

it seems to me that in some ways you believe in the fairytale of imperial power - where all evidence of these last three years has proved the contrary

an occupation armed to the teeth & bombing day & night villagfe, towns & cities - in a murderous wave unseen since the great swathes of the german armies in the east - has not been able to hold any territory at all

anna missed spoke almost two years ago - that if all you were defending - were your firebases then you had already lost & even then, they had lost, decisively

in fact, all the u s occupation did to military theory - was to apply the lessons of the phoenix programme & vietnamisation & the counter insurgency wars of latin america (death squads, targeted assassination, control of local media, the coopting & corruption of clans etc) - & in this while it has disseminated terror at a daily level across iraq - it has done the opposite in practical terms - & that is provable - that the resistance is recruiting easily, is developing a sophisticated cadre & is widening the war in ways that undermine strategically all the efforts of the empire

bullyboy politics work when its fast & the people are cowering but here in iraq the opposite is the concrete reality. yes there is fear & a terrible terrible loss but there are the movements of a people against an unparalleled use of force & the world in very direct way but also implicit ways is watching every step

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 30, 2006 4:44:32 PM | 97

movements of a people

i don't see "movements" in iraq removing u.s.--i see congeries of destruction benefitting no one.

we reap what we sow; and having spent the cold war undermining arab secularism, this is what we get. but retreating to live our lala lives is both dangerous and irresponsible. it's good enough for the venal chirac, sure, but shit for the world.

Posted by: slothrop | Nov 30, 2006 8:06:53 PM | 98

ran

like i've said before, who can argue the value of political enlightenment on our happy campuses as a response to a draft?

i can hardly wait to see the beautiful children of america's fine families forced to make tough choices. ahhhhhh.

Posted by: slothrop | Nov 30, 2006 8:10:45 PM | 99

http://arablinks.blogspot.com/>Badger (again) translates the latest from Al-Hayat on the Bush/Maliki song and dance number yesterday, and as expected just beneath the choreography lurks:

First, it says its reporters in Washington were told by their Bush-administration sources that the patience of the Bush administration in Maliki is starting to wear out, and Bush is going to give Maliki "a final deadline" to improve the security situation in Iraq, and these sources mentioned the following points in particular: Take firm action against the militias, especially the Mahdi army; strengthen the "moderates" for example the Ayatollah Ali Sistani; establish and maintain constructive relations with Sunni groups. These points are very general.
But the Al-Hayat reporter then says sources in the Iraqi delgation to Amman added the following more specific points as part of the Bush demands: Security should be strengthened by including in the Iraqi law-enforcement regime "a large number of officers in of the former [Saddam era] army", and "exclusion of those leaders who are accused of supporting the militias, while at the same time issuing a general amnesty so that the armed groups will be able to participate in the political process, via early elections, and that is a proposal that has [already] been rejected by the Shiites."
There is quite a bit packed into that last sentence attributed to the Iraqi sources. They said: Bush is demanding inclusion of Saddam-era officers in the law-enforcement agencies; a full amnesty for the resistance groups; and early elections, the latter a point already rejected by the Shiites. In other words, it looks like a version of the Sunni-resistance wish-list (minus the commitment for a US withdrawal).

Shit, that (best o' pals stuff) did'nt last very long.

Posted by: anna missed | Nov 30, 2006 8:24:46 PM | 100

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