Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 25, 2005

WB: The Beirut Express


Considering the American blunders, American crimes and -- worst of all -- sheer American ignorance that brought Iraq and its peoples to this point, such a stance has about as much moral integrity as a little boy who, having dumped a bunch of red ants and black ants together to watch them fight, gets bored with the whole thing and flushes them all down the toilet. It is beneath contempt.

The Beirut Express

Posted by b on July 25, 2005 at 6:38 UTC | Permalink

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Okay - well, that was a downer post, wasn't it? Incredibly well-written though.

I wonder if Iran, the Iraqi government, and the US may simply be allies by necessity in the case of Iraq. None wants the current (Sunni) insurgency to spread, it's not in any of their interests.

I'm sure at some point the interests will diverge, but at the moment, in the short term, they line up pretty well, don't they?

Posted by: JC | Jul 25 2005 6:47 utc | 1

Link to the Galbraith piece in The New York Review of Books.

Posted by: b | Jul 25 2005 6:55 utc | 2

Americans, that is the majority of Americans, do not care how many Iraqis die now, or why they are dying now. Why would anyone think they will care later on?

Have the majority of Americans ever faced up to the immorality of killing all those Vietnamese?

Posted by: James E. Powell | Jul 25 2005 7:16 utc | 3

I wonder if Iran, the Iraqi government, and the US may simply be allies by necessity in the case of Iraq. None wants the current (Sunni) insurgency to spread, it's not in any of their interests.

An American-Iranian alliance is out of the question. Besides obvious ideological differences Iran is determined to develop nuclear weapons and its overriding interest is therefore in getting American forces out of Iraq as quickly as possible. In fact back when the Bushites still labored under the delusion that the world was their sandbox they clearly at least toyed with the idea of having the Axis of Evil World Tour make a stop in Tehran.

The Iranians have no immediate cause to fear instability in Iraq. Their Shiite co religionists are 60% of the population, and there is absolutely no reason to believe the Kurds and Sunnis could form a common cause against the Shiites.

Posted by: Lexington | Jul 25 2005 7:26 utc | 4


No doubt on "american-iranian alliance", I agree with you completely. I am simply making the point that - for the moment - the administration isn't saying too much about the current Iran-Iran rapprochement. And this may be - again - for THIS issue, in THIS very short-term - it helps to stabilize the region. (Well, I suppose the other reason could be incredible embarassment for the Bush regime - "huh - sorry, we thought we would get democracy, but instead all we got was this lousy Iran-lite theocracy".

It would make an interesting t-shirt.

"My government went to Iraq to find some WMD's and create democracy in the Middle East, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt"...

Posted by: JC | Jul 25 2005 7:36 utc | 5

Lexington :

The Iranians have no immediate cause to fear instability in Iraq.

But they have a lot to fear from the unstable regime in the US. The American Conservative had a piece about US Air Force generals drawing up plans for a pre-emptive tactical nuclear strike on Iran's military assets.

Cheney could do it.

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Jul 25 2005 7:59 utc | 6

The idea that "the US pulls out of Iraq will be a disaster" assumes that US invaded Iraq with good intentions. Our intentions were bad to begin with, it was not about democracry or freedome, it was not about economic and social development of a society. It is about destroying a country and its people, it is about pulvarizing a society to a point where it ceases to function as a society. It follows the example of what Israelis did in Gaza and WB. Iraqi middle class has already left Iraq for Jordan and other countries, remaining educated or business minded folks are continuing targets of kidnappings, murder, and spiraling corruption. Baghdad the party town for wayward Kuwaitis and Saudis is now a field of car bombs and IEDs, the educational institutions are which provided higher education opportunities for young men and women of Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yeme, and even Iran are now destroyed and looted. The reconstruction scam was set up for failure, US corporation subcontracted to Saudi and Kuwaitis contractors who brought in Indian, Pakistani, and Phillipino labor to do the actual work. It would be like US being occupied by French troops and black Ugandans taking all the jobs. The ultimate goal is break up Iraq but first we have to get a lot of people killed and sow seeds of discord which will not be resolved for another half a century. That should give Israel enough time to annex all of Jerusalem, most of the WB and finish the wall. And if Iranians really do come out as the winners then we can use them against the Saudis to start another regional conflict which would require our presence and contineous meddling in the region. This thing is not done yet, a lot more has yet to come. US pull back will only be one small chapter in this bloody saga.


Posted by: Max Andersen | Jul 25 2005 8:30 utc | 7

Several times in the past, I have recommended a movie called La Nuit de Varennes (link to IMDB) which I think should be required viewing for anyone trying to understand what is going on today, from Baghdad to London.

(NY Times review)

LNDV takes place just after the French Revolution has started and magnificently illustrates the cluelessness of the elites of the times who could not fathom the why of the Revolution -- nor the directions it would take and the changes it would wreak.

To condemn the blind stupidity and moronic, selfish evilness of Luis XVI's regime is not to endeorse the Jacobins, the Terror and the bloody excesses that followed.

White westerners are shocked, shocked that non-white downtrodden masses want to kill them. If history teaches anything it is that repression and "let them eat cake" are ultimately equally ineffectual.

Not only do I believe there isn't much we can do in Iraq, but I don't think there's much we can do in the United States or England.

Blood will flow.

Posted by: Lupin | Jul 25 2005 8:48 utc | 8

Beyond the political and palace intrigues, this remains a resource war. Control of oil started it, and that is why it won't end while the oil remains.

The oil in that region is oceanic; the bulk of it lies equally on both sides of the Iran-Iraq border, about 30 miles to either side of it, running from the Gulf up through Kuwait to just above Baghdad.

Cheney wants his heavy hand on that ocean of oil -- so it's his to hold on to, his to disperse. If he lets go of it, the Chinese will pick it up. And they can pay for it. All Cheney can afford is to steal it.

The likelihood of Cheney leaving Iraq is zero. The likelihood of him letting the US just sit there, in the midst of a Lebanon-style bloodbath, is Cheney's Plan B.

Plan A is for Field Marshall Cheney to place a 30-mile slice of Iran under his heavy hand this year -- before 2006 begins. He's been advising we do just that since 1989.

You may doubt Herr Cheney now, but you will see. You'll all see. He will make history.

Our glorious victory in Iran will boost the Republicans in the 2006 elections to permanent control of America, and usher in a glorious era of world peace and prosperity as every nation in the world recognizes, and willingly bows to, our unshakeable resolve, our military strength, and the triumph of our will.

Posted by: Antifa | Jul 25 2005 9:01 utc | 9

I have to agree with Max that the administration's intentions were not good, though my working assumption has been that long-term bases were the fundamental war objective (rather than the destruction and dismemberment of the country). Remains to be seen; the outcomes are not mutually incompatible, and plenty of evidence for Max's position has piled up.

It's tiresome, then, to read Galbraith (thanks for the link, b) saying this:

It may be the ultimate irony that the United States, which, among other reasons, invaded Iraq to help bring liberal democracy to the Middle East, will play a decisive role in establishing its second Shiite Islamic state.

Didn't Galbraith, like Juan Cole, support the invasion before it happened -- because of his history with the Kurds and in bringing attention to Saddam Hussein's massacres? Humanly understandable, but not a position that deepens confidence in his judgment. And his willingness to consider democracy as a genuine motive for Bush's invasion makes it almost impossible to trust his analysis fully now.

Posted by: Nell | Jul 25 2005 9:15 utc | 10

I think the seeds of destruction were sown into this folly from the start and that withdrawal will come from necessity soon. There is probably no way out but total humiliation for the USA, unless the next President is some sort of genius who can save face, and the withrawal comes under his administration. It's impossible to determine what will transpire in Iraq after this.

As far as continuing military conflict for the USA, I don't see it. Empires were built with great organization and a healthy military with extreme vitality. They rotated troops quickly and when they returned, rewarded them highly making them desire a return to combat. These people just raised the age requirement for the militery to 42, as you know, and they can't institute a draft for political reasons.
The system is in ruins, high tech weapons or no. There is absolutely no morale probably one of the keys to success.

I think the elites once again are stymied. They just don't seem to get it.
This group of neocons took intellectual theory and tried to translate it into the real world with no experience or expertise in these ancient matters of blood letting and warfare. No wonder they failed. Colonization of an advanced society is no easy thing.

If anything can be gained from this, maybe it will be the destruction of our military power to the extent we had it, and a transformation of our approach to aggression and defense. There is more to this story and things aren't going according to plan. It will be interesting to see what it leaves in its wake. When we face reality.

Posted by: jm | Jul 25 2005 9:24 utc | 11

The best thing that could happen to the US is a Stalingrad or a Dien-Bien-Phu; however, in today's global village, the peasants can if not storm but at least attack the Bastille 10,000 miles away.

Posted by: Lupin | Jul 25 2005 9:42 utc | 12

I have said it before and I will probably say it again: When the US leaves (as it will, because the war has been lost a long time) a conflict will take place which will bring a dictator to power. That conflict will be more violent the longer US stays.

I think it still holds, especially as the strategy of divide and - well, not really conquer - is going into overdrive.

Besides I think JC has a point. I think the US, the Iraqi govt and the Iranians are in some aspects already allies by necessity in Iraq. Though not tighter then, say, Hitler and Stalin in 1939.

Posted by: A swedish kind of death | Jul 25 2005 9:59 utc | 13

The most pragmatic way out of the situation:

Announce immediate American withdrawal, unconditionally.

Cancellation of all Halliburton contracts. Use the monies thus released to rebuild all of Iraq's infrastructure. Use local companies only, no foreigners.

An apology to the people of Iraq by the American government.

Immediate convocation at the Hague to discuss the region; participationg of Iran and Israel required; Israel notified that all American aid will stop immediately unless it returns to its 1967 borders and demolishes the new 'wall'.

This will not happen in this dimension. Nor would it happen under the leadership, so-called, of the idiots who got everyone into this horrible mess to begin with.

We're all going to be living in Baghdad soon. Yet the people of Australia, the USA, and Britain reelected the cruds who decided to make a smash-and-grab for the oil in Iraq rather than trading fairly for it. We have done nothing but murder innocent people, radicalize the one secular nation in the Middle East, and we'll lose the oil to China.
Nice going.

Posted by: hopping madbunny | Jul 25 2005 11:03 utc | 14

LA Times: Shots to the Heart of Iraq

Three men in an unmarked sedan pulled up near the headquarters of the national police major crimes unit. The two passengers, wearing traditional Arab dishdasha gowns, stepped from the car.

At the same moment, a U.S. military convoy emerged from an underpass. Apparently believing the men were staging an ambush, the Americans fired, killing one passenger and wounding the other. The sedan's driver was hit in the head by two bullet fragments.

The soldiers drove on without stopping.

This kind of shooting is far from rare in Baghdad, but the driver of the car was no ordinary casualty. He was Iraqi police Brig. Gen. Majeed Farraji, chief of the major crimes unit. His passengers were unarmed hitchhikers whom he was dropping off on his way to work.

"The reason they shot us is just because the Americans are reckless," the general said from his hospital bed hours after the July 6 shooting, his head wrapped in a white bandage. "Nobody punishes them or blames them."

Posted by: b | Jul 25 2005 11:30 utc | 15

Yep its inconceivable that Leopold 2 and the gang haven't consciously turned a blind eye to the Iran/Iraq Shia axis. Nobody ever said they were stupid did they? Selfish and wilful and even unrealistic they may be but I've never considered them lacking in intelligence.

I'm sure Leopold 2 probably shares my POV that I don't understand what the problem is with Iran having nukes. I mean I don't want anyone to have nukes but if the US France UK Pakistan, China et al have em why not Iran. I suspect that many of the western contriibutors here have become too tainted by western propaganda. The lay and clerical leaders in Iran are politicians and extremely pragmatic just like their breed everywhere. The US devil is a good way of winding up the sheeple but there is nothing to be gained by having a full on confrontation with that devil. If stability is the issue I suspect that the Iranian regime is considerably more stable than many other existing nuclear powers including some in the west. This is another belief that I suspect Cheney shares. All of this axis of evil stuff is for getting the sheeple compliant it should never get in the way of making a dollar.

So long term? Leopold 2 has no hope of grabbing the strip of the middle east with all the oil and hanging on to it for any protracted period. If he did do it and told the sheeple in the US he was going to and why as Antifa pointed out above, he would be supported within the US no worries.

However what happened after that would resemble the plot of one of those heist movies where the theft caper is really just the McGuffin. The story is really about greed and vengence as the other members of the heist commit any foulness to get their hands on the loot. Former confederates like Russia and China would be seething and very quickly use 'loyal' comrades of the US like UK, Germany and France as either willing conspirators or dupes to get their hands on the oil. The climax would be everyone loses.

So what else could happen? Well I know what should happen. That is the design and implementation of a repair program fully funded by those who broke the vase, implemented by others the vase trusts more.

Galbraith like his father before him is pretty rigid in his worldview. That is he gets a concept and holds onto it grimly without ever testing it's complete validity. Yes Iraq is divided into at least 3 disparate groups that have come to fear and resent each other even more now than they have before. But Galbraith forgets he world is filled with countries happily getting the job done where once before they were little more than feuding principalities. It can be done but it is difficult and requires that each faction's interdependence exceeds their hatred.

In other words the fixit model should be deployed in such a way that the populations have to get along to progress their own lives. These cultural resentments only get so powerful that they become wars when at least one of the cultures believes it has nothing to lose usually in the form of nothing to eat. So a repair program implemented simultaneously across all sectors would keep everyone pretty busy especially if they could see progress on food, shelter, health etc. Then after a while when everyone has calmed down a bit the seperate cultures could be led to deal with each other.

Yes this would be hard work and slow and incredibly expensive which is why all of the pundits rubbish it because they can't see any immediate gain for them in the US UK or even China.

However the people in the rest of the world probably don't feel that way and even those in the UK will get sick of Vera Lynn songs very quickly. The US population is a more difficult nut to crack and like all people they won't respond well to having their arm twisted particularly by terrorism.

So if the scenario above were to occur it would only be if the US sheeple consider it to be the best of a bad bunch. That means that a lot more US troops are going to have to die combined with a genuine threat of the US being put at economic disadvantage worse than the cost of a repair job.

Certainly being stuck with a huge reparations bill would have to be part of this.

Globalisation is a two way street and if the rest of the world's need for Middle Eastern resources exceeds their need for the US as a trading partner, because for example it's economy was so far down the toilet, that it wasn't consuming 'enough', that would happen in a flash. In someways the US is particularly vulnerable to this because it's population isn't that big so it's consumers have to consume a lot more than other much more populous nations for the US to stay towards the top of the list of major trading partners.

Anyway now for the last option and the one the US will end up taking if it can. This is the one that a lot of the US posters in here support.
It is to just walk away from it all and pretend it never happened. Might be quite hard to do. If this is the option Iraq will stay anarchic for a long time it's difficult to see any group getting total hegemony of the others. That means the place is not only going to be a hellhole for the inhabitants but also for everyone else.

Every faction in the ME plus a few from outside will set up shop and they will be considerable more problem than they ever were in Afghanistan as Iraq's borders are much more accessible and the oil factor means there is always going to be money sloshing around to pay for/ encourage madness.

So the best 'solution' is to run with option 2 asap. The most likely way it is going to happen is the worst way. That is option 3 with even a bit of short term 1 until everyone gets so desperate for a result that option 2 becomes inevitable.

That is of course if we have any faith at all in mankind. Otherwise someone will argue for and get a sort of oil friendly nuetron bomb which kills all the population but leaves the oil intact. The Iraqi Shites Sunnis and Kurds could go the way of populations on the wrong end of the stick since people atarting trying to control each other. The nuetron alternative would of course probably be followed by the heist scenario unless everyone major had a share in the glory/guilt.

Ahhh! It was just a vase. Whatever happened to the US is always right?

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 25 2005 11:32 utc | 16


"The oil in that region is oceanic."

The name of the flag ship of the Haliburton Tanker Line is foggy. I'm not sure, but I think it is the Andrea Doria.

And meanwhile, the DLC has the answer to all this:


Posted by: Groucho | Jul 25 2005 12:21 utc | 17

This is the most profound post that Billmon has ever written on the trainwreck that is Iraq.


Debs wrote a brilliant post above, unfortunately, we are just a small minority of bloggers. It's the sheeple who decide the outcome.

Posted by: Friendly Fire | Jul 25 2005 12:36 utc | 18

We need better terms to define the "War in Iraq". The first phase was "The American Occupation of Iraq". The second phase was the "War Against the American Occupation" (of "The Haliburton Wars"?). And the current phase is "The Civil War in Iraq" or "The War of the Iraqies" (with apologies to Karol Capek and "The War of the Newts"). The next stage will, alas, be "The War of the Sunnis, Shias and Kurds", which could engulf Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran in a grand pissing match using Iraq as the latrine.

The other question, which the left in America can actually have some impact on, is who is going to get blamed for the mess in Iraq after the American pull out? The military? The Bushites? The Liberal Media? There will be a pull out and there will be blame, as there was in Vietnam. How can we shape the debate so that it is not weak-kneed Democratic politicos who shoulder the blame?

Posted by: ghazzali | Jul 25 2005 12:42 utc | 19

Groucho linked to:

Centrist Dems Urge Military Enlargement

Centrists who contend Democrats cannot retake the White House until voters trust the party to protect them said Sunday the Army should expand by 100,000 soldiers and that colleges should open their campuses to military recruiters.

DLC hijinx like this make me think that Bush is the smart realist guy around here. At least he has some of the 'political inteligence', which the DLC seem to be lacking.

It's the reverse situation to the Social Security reform. Bush can just repeat that 'there is no crisis' and 'no more troops neeeded'. Which makes him look strong on defense.

The DLC wants to put itself in the miserable position of
telling the voters that Iraq is a meat grinder and
asking them to send their kids right into it.

Posted by: MarcinGomulka | Jul 25 2005 12:47 utc | 20


I have long thought that it would be difficult to be cynical enough to understand the depths of the actions of the Iraq invasion group. However, I think you have come closest to success. You forgot only one : Bush needed to be "a War President. I go to sleep with war on my mind." to be re-elected and shove it at daddy.


Posted by: ed_finnerty | Jul 25 2005 12:53 utc | 21

Well, you have to give Cheney credit for thinking outside the box.

For him, and his wallet, this has been a fantastic war. I can see why he would want to pass it's success on to Iran.

Right now the calculus in the White House is... If Iran is divisable, it might be time for an invasion. It's how they've won politically, and by their fucked up calculus, it's how they've won in Iraq.

Devide and conqour, Hostle takeovers, only nations rather than companies.

Posted by: Profbacon | Jul 25 2005 13:17 utc | 22

For my money, Cockburn has the biggest cojones of any Western reporter in Iraq (with the possible exception of Knght Ridder bureau chief Hannah Allam, who doesn't have any.)

"Gonads" works for "cojones", and encompasses both genders. Not that it matters, just saying.

Posted by: mats | Jul 25 2005 13:18 utc | 23

Wow, what a post, and what comments. Very thought provoking...

Two comments: The reporter wiith the biggest cojones, though not necessarily the widest strategic purview, is Dahr Jamail. He has been absolutely fearless, with a heart of gold.

Second: The Amurkans will NEVER leave Iraq. NEVER. That's NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, for those who have trouble understanding. In other words, even if we pull our military out and wash our hands of the whole mess and consign the few stories that do trickle out to Page A32, the place will still be crawling with Seals and Rangers and the Good Men of the CIA (who we are so concerned with protecting these days), and anyone else who works undercover and below the radar; with subversion and spying, and conniving, and influence peddling with BILLIONS in bribe money and anyone they can buy off or get to inform for them, or otherwise subvert. It will (and probably already does, except in our collective imaginations and the players aren't all white) make the Cold War intrigue days pale as the stakes are that much higher.

Posted by: Malooga | Jul 25 2005 13:54 utc | 24


Posted by: ken melvin | Jul 25 2005 14:10 utc | 25

Debs: "But Galbraith forgets he world is filled with countries happily getting the job done where once before they were little more than feuding principalities. It can be done but it is difficult and requires that each faction's interdependence exceeds their hatred."

Which is exactly what have accomplished.

Posted by: | Jul 25 2005 14:41 utc | 26


Cheney won't let go of this one. He'll commit everything he has to ensure that the oil resources of the Middle East remain on-stream and available to the West.
How do we know this? We think they have been making this up as they went along, but actually they haven't. They knew exactly what they were getting themselves into and they also knew that if they had painted that picture to the US public and Congress, then they wouldn't get their war. Which is why they went with the expedient "cakewalk" scenario, just to get the forces landed in-country.

Cheney met with the "historian" Victor Davis Hanson before the war. He was enthusiastic about Hanson's work, particularly his thesis that history often vindicates those who make decisions that are wildly unpopular at the time, but which are proven "right" subsequently.
Cheney has told the leaders of the G-8 nations, and their hangers-on, that the lifestyle of the West, and the world economy, was under threat from fundamentalist Islam, and that it would be inexcusable to let the oil resources of the Middle East fall into the hands of the fundamentalists. That's what got Blair to join with Bush in this misadventure.
Once the fundamentalists have been "hunted down and killed", then the West will continue to suck at the oil teat and everything will be fine. Only, China wants oil too, these days, and the Islamic fundamentalists are proving a lot hardier than originally supposed. (After all, we are dealing with a potential recruiting source of 1,3 billion people who are coreligionists).

So, if Mr. Cheney is looking for vindication for his policies, then he had better start looking a lot harder than what he's been able to, because this one is going south fast.

(IMO, the present state of unrest in Iraq is not a result of incompetence, but rather a deliberate maneuver. It's the only manner in which they can create a necessity for their continued presence, in spite of claims that they are looking to withdraw.
I wrote a diary at Dailykos on this topic:
Chaos in Iraq

Posted by: SteinL | Jul 25 2005 14:45 utc | 27

Someone needs to arrest Bush and charge him with war crimes.

Posted by: steve duncan | Jul 25 2005 14:54 utc | 28

Someone needs to arrest Bush and charge him with war crimes.


Posted by: annie | Jul 25 2005 15:17 utc | 29

US will never leave Iraq, don't get me wrong. Just like Israel will never leave Gaza and WB. We'll be in there with our covert ops, stand off weapon systems, UAV flights and targeted killings. Diego Garcia is just a few minutes flight from Iraq or a carier off the coast may work also. Plan is to start the fire and take the fire hose with us. Angry and hungry Sunnis land locked and impoverished will make for a grand killing field for years to come and the shinanigans of Iran and Saudi Arabia, which are bound to happen, will be the reason for it. And we'll be in there protecting our "national interests" and going after this or that potential terrorist or "ticking time bomb" or whatever.


Posted by: Max Andersen | Jul 25 2005 15:22 utc | 30

it's obvious the Shi'a fundamentalist parties have never waivered from their original allegiance to Iran.

Excellent post. Don't freak out, I have a problem w/ your rationale. Can you show an etiology of this "allegiance"? The history of arab shi'a doesn't support this thesis very well, though I've not yet exhausted the literature. In fact, such generalities may serve a reproduction of a sunni chauvinism: shi'a are just persians.

Of particular relevance to Iraqi Shi'a, Arab nationalism for long defined itself by its enemies and viewed the Persians as the historical foes of the Arabs who pose a perennial threat to Arab civilization. The equation of Shi'ism with Persia and the long presence of Iranian theologians and families in Iraq placed the Shi'a under the spotlight of suspicion. The notion of shu'ubiya as the convergence of Shi'a and Persian (that is, anti-Arab) influence was revived in the political discourse of Iraqi Arab nationalists, reaching extremes of jingoism in the writings of Khayrallah al-Tulfah, Saddam Hussein's uncle, father-in-law, and mentor. Because of the intimate association of Persia with Shi'ism, the Shi'a suffered guilt by association in a dogmatic interpretation of Arab nationalism.


By contrast, the dependency of Islamist groups on Iran has engendered a reaction among Iraqi Shi'a. Many resent Iranian control over the Islamist movement and its manipulation to serve Iranian national interest. In addition, the experiences of Iraqi exiles in Iran have often been difficult or downright negative. Many complain that the Iranians discriminate against them because they are Arabs, and that they are treated with scorn and condescension. They find it difficult to find jobs or set up businesses because of bureaucratic discrimination. Iranian law prohibits the marriage of Iranian women to Iraqi men except under very limited conditions. Further, Iran has come under criticism for what the Shi'a inside Iraq regard as Iran's failure to support the Iraqi uprising of 1991 that followed the Gulf war. Because many of the Islamist groups have no other refuge, they are constrained to accept Iranian tutelage. Nevertheless, a few have tried in recent years to loosen their ties and take steps toward a measure of autonomy from the Iranian state and clerical establishment. Since the Gulf war of 1991, thousands of Iraqis have left Iran and moved to Syria or Europe. Elements of the Ddwa leadership have also shifted their bases to other Arab or European countries. SCIRI has expended considerable effort to gain the sympathy of Arab governments, particularly in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. In practical terms, Iran still offers financial and strategic assistance; the personal and spiritual ties between Iraqi clerics and Iranian clerics also continue to play an important role.

A significant development in recent years has been the effort by some :~ Iraqi Shi'ite Islamists to reform Shi'ism out of its Iranian mold. Some currents of the Iraqi Islamist movement see the need to reclaim Shi'ism from Iran and strip Shi'ism of what they regard as superfluous "Safavid" accretions; they advocate a return to a purer and more intellectual form of "Alawi" Shi'ism more closely related to Iraqi tradition. They stress the importance of restoring Najaf and Karbala to primary in theological training and scholarship, and of developing an indigenous Iraq marji'iyya that will both stem the flow to Iran and attract new Shi'ite scholarship to Iraq.

While the Shi'a around the Arab world as a whole now see Iran more as a state than an ideology, this new assessment is more relevant to Iraq than to any other Arab state. The idealism that propelled Iraqi Islamists to Iran after the revolution is now tempered by recognition that Iranian policies arise from its own state interests rather than pure Islamic ideology or disinterested defense of the Shi'a. The Shi'a also recognize that conditions in Iraq are far different from those prevailing in Iran on the eve of the Islamic revolution. Finally, they also accept that Iraq is a multicultural society with particular problems that do not lend themselves to an Islamic revolution, and that they have to adopt cautious political strategies in order to enhance their appeal.--Graham E. Fuller & Rend Rahim Francke, The Arab Shi'a (1999)

I read this book,as it was recommended by Cole in his Sacred Spaces. Fuller is ex-CIA, and now Rand guy.

Very complicated.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 25 2005 15:28 utc | 31

Which is why it probably is exactly what the Cheney administration will ultimately do in Iraq -- no doubt to the grateful cheers of the American public.

Great piece, Billmon. And you're right. That's exactly what will happen.

The only questions are when and what lie will be used as the reason. Then, I can only imagine how much the lapdog media and the American public will cheer about Dear Leader's foreign policy success. Why, it will become the blueprint for the Bush Doctrine of how to spread freedom to the Middle East and elsewhere. Hell, I'll bet Bush will even be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. And by then we might even see another strut by Commander Codpiece on an aircraft carrier.

Orwellian? Positively. But that's the new Amerika.

P.S. Much of what I have known for more than two years now about the lies that got us into this war and how fucked up the situation has become is because of you and other bloggers. As you show in your piece, it most certainly doesn't come from the New York Times and most of the other Beltway media. So a big thanks to you for all your coverage of this disaster.

Posted by: Phil from New York | Jul 25 2005 15:39 utc | 32

I think every effort should be made to get this article published in the main stream press. It's Sy Hersch, Robert Fisk level stuff.

Posted by: ken melvin | Jul 25 2005 15:59 utc | 33

I think Iraq is metastizing.

Paranoids are right: people don't like them. Rich white westerners have trod upon the so-called third world like the French Monarchy its peasants.

Iraq is the Bastille, the defining moment when enough is enough, the breaking point. 9/11 didn't change the world, Baghdad did.

In the future, expect more attacks like London, a tunnel here, a bridge there. Low costs, plenty of volunteers.

The peasants are revolting.

Americans will run like rabbits, squeal like pigs, embrace fascism like a cheap whore and bomb a few more places in faraway lands.

Since the economy won't withstand that kind of global disruption, it'll alcome crashing down within a decade or so.

Posted by: Lupin | Jul 25 2005 16:07 utc | 34

The ocean's depth has been grossly over-estimated.

Posted by: SW | Jul 25 2005 16:13 utc | 35

I caught a little bit of John Lee Anderson's talk at a book fest in Ark. on C-span yesterday. Anderson wrote a book about his coverage of Iraq for The New Yorker. He was circumspect...yes, Saddam was a horrible tyrant...he lived in his own little world...but why didn't we just use a cruise missle to take him out, rather than bomb an entire country and try to occupy it and build bases?

He noted that once we were in the country, contrary to our law that says we cannot assassinate another country's leader, Saddam's places were regularly the targets.

He mentioned the oil and the military bases and his doubts that America ever plans to leave...because of the oil, of course.

The people who came to hear his talk where amazingly naive. They talked about bringing democracy to Iraq and spreading it to the middle east, as though that's what has been going on. They argued with him about the reaction to soilders. They could not accept that the U.S. was not on a "humanitarian" mission in Iraq.

It was astounding.

And I didn't even see the entire talk. I have no idea what Anderson thought, but it was obvious that he recognized that he and they were working from two different versions of reality, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Bush used a great rhetorical strategy when he talked about bringing democracy to the middle east, because it's something so many in the south understand in a different way...i.e. evangelical christianity's call to spread the good news and to do missionary work in other countries.

For most of this crowd, it seemed it was impossible to believe that we weren't in Iraq for the best of motives and doing everything for the good of the Iraqis.

You'd think the crowd, since it's a book fair, would be somewhat self-selecting in terms of some knowledge about Iraq because they chose to attend his talk. Or maybe they attended because they have such a rosy view they thought his talk would reflect their reality. Some people did talk about the issue of whether or not the war is lost, and what to do...but they were the minority. Most questions began from the idea that we were, indeed, spreading democracy because we're so good, and therefore, anyone who would oppose our presence must be bad.

And if they chose to listen to Republican spin, I suppose that is the world as they know it.

Posted by: fauxreal | Jul 25 2005 17:00 utc | 36

Most questions began from the idea that we were, indeed, spreading democracy because we're so good, and therefore, anyone who would oppose our presence must be bad.

Just like those bad Slavs who opposed the Fuhrer's campaign to spread German culture to the East. Some people just don't know the meaning of the word gratitude.

Posted by: Billmon | Jul 25 2005 17:16 utc | 37

let us start at the beginning again

this is an illegal & immoral war & occupation of a sovereign country. it comes after a long series of interventions, destabilisations, wars & occupation. it is not exceptional to american foreign policy byt completely consistent. it is not an abberration - on the contrary it is in its way a synthesis of all the fascist politics the united states has articulated clandestinely, covertly for over a century. & i use the term fascism advisedly

today the fascist have complete control of all the organs of power in the unites states as they have rarely had. there is not one appareil that esxapes their complete control (courageous prosecutors not withstanding) - they also have the aiding & abetting by a proven criminal whose hatred of the people is public record - mr rupert murdoch

& the leaders of the so called western democracies have shown litte fight - they are in awe of this massive & grotesque bully whose ignorance & rejection of law & morality are also a matter of public record

when th us was before the hague in realtion to the mining of the port of nicaragua during the period of the sandanistas - international law clearly spoke of the u s action as illegal. & what happened. nothing. the illegal invasion of both panama & grenada. nothing further back - a history so blood soaked of south east asia, of latin america, of africa, of its complete corruption of european politics. on & on it goes. as if infinitely. as if the world is powerless to stop these assassins & thieves

& that is what they are - assassins & thieves. common murderers & common thieves. that fact must never be forgotten. perhaps if they had those old whores kissinger or baker - they could try to make the world believe in a 'higher purpose' - but we know no such purpose exists

its only real predecessor are the invading nazi armies in europe. the same immutable logic. the same devastating immorality

slothrop would have me believe it is a cabal of transnational capitalist but it is not - of course there are beneficiaries from other countries - but the crimes we are speaking about are american. they are the responsibility of americans

this situation is only going to get worse - much much worse & any act of divination about what the u s may do can include almost anything - i have sd here a long time ago that the only satisfactory way of restraining this coming catastrophe is to place the persons responsible in this administration including bush & cheney - in the dock. like kaltenbrunner & streicher. these people are filth. they are worse than filth because we can learn nothing from them. perhaps, they teach us about thoughtlessness & negligence in a way even the most left of us did not want to imagine - even during the horrors of central & latin america

& there is no other word for what has constitutes american foreign policy - horror & terror. yes leopold was as mad as a meat axe - but you have an administration, a congress, a senate - nearly every judicial institution crowded with criminals ruling from the bench & they are every bit as mad as leopold or a churchill. i would even say moreso

i know i am repeating myself - i know i am the not so silent screamer here - but it seems even with our best intentions we forget that skin is being burnt, that skulls are being crushed that destinies are being destroyed. person by person. skin to skin

& fuck strategy. there is no fucking strategy worthy of that name even for imperialist except brute force & murder

i don't know what the fuck they teach at military colleges but it must be reruns of murdochs 'cops' - for it shows all the cretinous savegery of such

we are living in the saddest of times - yes someone sd it here - a form of anti enlightenment - for decades people have been rushing to their absolutes & now they finally have them & they come in the form of idiot idols like bush blair howard - people so criminally stupid - that in any normal country they would live their lives out in institiions for their own safety & the safety of others

& these criminals will stop all resistance to it unless it is massive & unless it is capable of unleashing - the same force - the same terror

& to that degree razor is correct - i do not care - how it is done & who it is done by - i have no brief for fundamentalism of any kind - even of the marxist variety - but if it takes terror to defeat terro then - the enemies of my enemy is my friend - because - i think militant islamism of the kind we see today is truly transitory - while the hegemony of u s imperialism is not in the least diffused its partners in crime. in fact the opposite is the truth. read italian, german, frecnh australian or english newspapers on line & you will read the same story

& that story is coverd in blood. that story is covered in shame

which is also our shame

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 25 2005 17:23 utc | 38

One more thing about Cole's Salon article: short pieces like this seem to truncate his more nuanced histories of the relationship of Iraqi shi'a and Iran. In the Sacred Space book he is careful to note, even in matters of religious doctrine, the two groups are hardly reconciled. Also, in the same article, SCIRI, dawa, Iran are conflated into what seems an ideological unity. This history is complicated by internecine ideological foment and rejection by many Iraqi shi'a of Khomeinism (Sadr and Sistani oppose "guardianship of the jurisprudent" for ex.).

Such divisiveness--the ardent nationalism of arab-speaking shi'a and the long history of discrimination suffered by them even at the hands of "persians"--may inspire willingness to accept american rather than iranian-led partition.

But, I'm just throwing out ideas, you know.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 25 2005 17:24 utc | 39


you are looking at a bloodbath & you treat it like you are commenting on a teenflic of john hughes. you must start speaking of your proper resistance - of what we each must do in our respective countries. i am as guilty as you of watching this carcrash but each day in the work i am obliged to incorporate the very facts of the bloodshed into practice

into a real work of pedagogy

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 25 2005 17:33 utc | 40

A seminal post indeed -- if for no other reason than it consolidates the dawning realization, along the broad swath of those whom have been intrusted to know, impliment, and justify Operation Iraqi Freedom, have finally met the preverbial wall of cold hard facts. The game has exceeded the playbook of saleable political options.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 25 2005 17:34 utc | 41

Maybe we've reached the end of our rope, too -- that is to say, maybe we've risen to a level of intelligence just high enough to create problems we're not bright enough to solve. A kind of evolutionary Peter Principle in action.

Posted by: annie | Jul 25 2005 17:42 utc | 42


You simply must stop your wild assumptions about "me" and my lack of integrity. You have no idea.

Also, you have not provided a systematic proof of the presumed benevolence of Euro-capital in the re-shaping of the ME. I would like to know more, now that the condemnation of America as murderous thug has soaked in sufficiently.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 25 2005 17:44 utc | 43


the me of you is geographical. i am commenting on comments. i presume nothing about you at all. how could i. & as the veda suggests scripturally - ' i see me in you'

it is as much a reprimand on myself - that the actions to stop this war the policies that led to this war must accelerate. concretely. in all of us who oppose these criminals

& slothrop - let me be clear again - this is an american venture with a long a blood soaked consistency. the europeans or even the chinese for that matter - in real terms are not in the same game

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 25 2005 17:53 utc | 44

B, you assume US Administration would view
the "meshing of Iraqi and Iranian security
forces" with dismay. You notice the arming
of Iraqi security forces with 306,000,000
bullets, but without drawing a conclusion.

Doesn't it seem obvious, the Ultimate
Solution for the fly-paper hats is just
the civil war you're talking about? Let
them kill each other, and we can pull out.

A nuclear option is always there later, and
I'm not talking about some up or down vote.

Let the red army eat the white army, it's
just going to make ruling survivors that
much easier for the global fascist elite.

Posted by: Talen Calenda | Jul 25 2005 17:54 utc | 45

& slothrop i did offer you a bibliography some months ago - as i remember comrade

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 25 2005 17:56 utc | 46

I read as much as anybody. I'm almost through reading the poulantzes fascism book, per your suggestion.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 25 2005 18:03 utc | 47

Just like those bad Slavs who opposed the Fuhrer's campaign to spread German culture to the East. Some people just don't know the meaning of the word gratitude.

This reminds me of something. I have the propaganda book "Deutsches Vorfeld im Osten" (1942) on my shelf. Let's quote some chapter titles from das Inhaltsverzeichnis:

Der schwere Auftrag
Ordnung und Sicherheit
Die deutschen Barbaren
Polnische Landarbeiter fahren ins Reich
Kultur und Erziehung
Aufklärung der polnischen Bevölkerung
Normales Leben überall
Die Juden im Generalgouvernement

It's what you would expect: 'all we're doing is helping those backward Slavs, giving them jobs, building new roads, etc.'. One day I'll scan the whole book and put it on the net.

Posted by: MarcinGomulka | Jul 25 2005 18:26 utc | 48

Bush used a great rhetorical strategy when he talked about bringing democracy to the middle east, because it's something so many in the south understand in a different way...i.e. evangelical christianity's call to spread the good news and to do missionary work in other countries.

Bingo. These folks don't understand and don't practice democracy, and don't give a shit about "spreading it" anywhere, but a crusade for the 21st Century? That's something they can get behind. And it's exactly why they feel the "ungrateful darkies" will deserve everything they get once we leave.

Posted by: Jimmy Jazz | Jul 25 2005 19:22 utc | 49

Debs, you've lost me on your options, but your summation is geniune:
"... someone will argue for and get a sort of oil friendly nuetron (sic) bomb which kills all the population but leaves the oil intact."

That "neutron bomb" you refer to is just more of the same. Arm the Iraqi militia to the teeth, let Al Qaeda bomb the hell out of the place, let the Iranian militia roam freely at will, and Rumsfeld's new Black Op's Disappearers work the fringes, until the memory of a well-educated and generous Iraqi population is historical footnote,
the museums are looted of artifacts, and the infrastructure is gone.

I believe this is Oxford School colonialism. Let the ethnics battle it out, while you sip tea on the veranda, and make deals through your oil ministry vicar, Ahmed Chalabi. The US military need neither know, nor care, about back-room versimilitude. They're there for image, and those campaign ribbons which assure them of seniority and a pension, and a double-dip with war profiteers. Our kids in harms way? Goyum.

Let's be quite blunt and quit dancing around the May Pole. We're not in Iraq for democracy, we're there for oil and incredible corruption. Corruption all the way to the top of US corporate-government, and all the way down to Mr. Joe Average, who just wants a fast car, some good barbecue and brew, and to get laid on Saturday night.

Iraqi civilization is bloody slime beneath the pyramid of Americus.

Posted by: lash marks | Jul 25 2005 19:24 utc | 50

Just found the cleverest AP article (hat tip to Bartcop), about an AP-Kyodo poll that found 6 in 10 Americans believe WWIII will happen in their lifetime. But that was not the clever part, that came with the picture posted with the article, the "ordinary American" photo included with the article was of "D. J. Karlen, 50, a military instructor on a contract basis." ...

Reading news really has gone to the level of old time Kremlinology. So apparently AP is now with r'giap on the collective guilt question.

Posted by: citizen | Jul 25 2005 20:07 utc | 51

Actually Bartcop had the best read of the article:

"Bush can't make any money with peace"

Posted by: citizen | Jul 25 2005 20:09 utc | 52

Bu$h is a 2 yr. old pretending to be an adult. He's fixated on his emotions - primarily desperation to "prove himself", to "be a man", & desire to stay focused. That comes before making money for him. Cheney is the one who's more driven by getting rich. Recall he's the one that ordered Piratization of so many of the military functions, then hopped over to Hall. to scorf up the gravy. The Fascist always compensating for flunking out of Yale. Put 'em together, rationalize it under guise of controlling oil supplies, and you get warwarwarwar...but really it's the 3 Sadistic Stooges (w/Rumbo) spewing their Hate upon the entire world.

Posted by: jj | Jul 25 2005 20:17 utc | 53

Pretty swift read on>Shi'ism in Iraq.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 25 2005 21:23 utc | 54


we are all responsibe in relation to oppossing this war but yes american as americans carry a heavy responsibility for allowing it to happen

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 25 2005 21:33 utc | 55

do not be like austria which was a perpetrator who acted like a victim. you are not victims - you can resist & change what is happening. point

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 25 2005 21:35 utc | 56

I had my leg blown off in Fallujah and all I got was this lousy Islamic theocracy!

Posted by: Sgt. Bilked | Jul 25 2005 22:08 utc | 57

the blame shall never reside with this or that grouping or sect in iraq. the guilt, the blame must lie squarely with those who initiated & carried out this illegal war

the united states britain & australia are perpetrators & in a just world - even a reasonable one - they would all be before a war crimes tribunal for their acts

their is absolutely no subtlety at all in the policies & the acts of the perpetrators - so i will not waste my time studying their motives. it is enough to know they are criminal

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 25 2005 22:24 utc | 58

@rgiap I share your horror at the reality of the conflict in Iraq. That is whatever grandiose statements are made, in the end it comes down to people, precious individual lives having their skulls crushed, their skin bubbled, blistered and then stripped.
However (you knew there was going to be a however) I just cannot go with the idea that this is purely a result of US imperialist culture. US imperialism is just an extension of European imperialism. When Spain ruled the world all the arms of the nation from the church to the courts, moved in unison to support Spanish tyranny.

The same is true of Britain or Belgium. I am unaware of any meaningful attempt by the courts in those countries to bring the murderers for empire to justice. At the height of British Imperialism the state was also incredibly repressive domestically. The English just joke about their program of 'extraordinary rendition', all Australians are descendants of convicts etc, but as you know most Australians take it very seriously particularly those descended from Irish resisters that were 'transported'. Transportation sounds much more innocuous than exile or attempted genocide.

The only real difference between european imperialism and US imperialism is that when Europeans were at their height of rape, murder and theft the imperialist nations were essentially dictatorships but now that the US is at the height of it's crimes it and the nations supporting it's endeavour are allegedly 'democracies'. This means that we should all feel more culpable if you believe that we do have more ability to 'steer the ship of state' than we did 150 years ago.

I'm not sure that is the case. Since time immemorial people have been as empowered as they allow themselves to be.

This is why I must reject your assertion that US imperialism is 'worse'. If I were to choose to accept it is worse that would imply that I feel more helpless to resist it. An attractive proposition for some as it reduces our responsibility to seek change, but not the least appealing if you believe you only get one shot at existence that it is your responsibility to ensure that your existence has the most beneficial impact possible.

@lash marks Yep I didn't manage to articulate the 'options' in a manner that clearly set them out but these things happen when the hunting and pecking can't keep up with the angst. Similarly my inability to spell neutron, I have sometimes resorted to tossing a coin on the e and the u. No wonder I couldn't even successfully complete Millikan's Oil drop experiment, I can't even get the names of sub atomic particles right let alone measure the energy contained in one. LOL

The current divide and rule methodology does mean a war of attrition but it is proving to be too slow and unsustainable. In the minds of the repugs it is 'saleable' to the sheeple whereas a pro oil anti people nuclear device would be on another level altogether, 'a quantum leap' if you'll forgive the pun. I suppose the easiest way to 'sell' it would be to point the blame at Iran either for deploying it or making it's deployment 'neccessary'. I'm sure that has been considered but equally rejected for the moment as the "time isn't right". Circumstances change however and something along the lines of a WTC massacre esp a 'dirty bomb' could make the nuke option saleable enough.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 25 2005 22:37 utc | 59

Bush used a great rhetorical strategy when he talked about bringing democracy to the middle east, because it's something so many in the south understand in a different way...i.e. evangelical christianity's call to spread the good news and to do missionary work in other countries.

Posted by: Jimmy Jazz:

Bingo. These folks don't understand and don't practice democracy, and don't give a shit about "spreading it" anywhere, but a crusade for the 21st Century? That's something they can get behind. And it's exactly why they feel the "ungrateful darkies" will deserve everything they get once we leave.

Actually, I don't think it's like that at all. I think it is really a total ignorance, whether willful or not. It is a lack of ability to see the world beyond the perspective of a ten year old...and thinking that's the way everyone is.

I do not think they see it as a crusade (that's catholic, not protestant). Honestly. It's like proselytising. Haven't you come across people who want to share "the good news" with you, and when you don't want to talk to them, they can't understand why you don't realize what you're missing...and they go on to the next person and pray for your soul to be opened to the word of god.

Not all fundies hate in the name of religion. They are just too uninformed and their vision is too proscribed by ideology to be able to imagine another scenario...until they see the indictments or the testimony in Den Hague...and then maybe.

Posted by: fauxreal | Jul 25 2005 22:49 utc | 60

You been hangin out with weird people, Faux.

Not good for the soul.

Posted by: Groucho | Jul 25 2005 23:06 utc | 61

3 major ethnic groups in three different regions: North, South and West. A new constitution. A colonizer rigging elections. Imposition of a Federal state system. A country rich with oil, but mainly only in the South. The ethnic group that controls the military are the small in population from the most resource poor region. One group pushinng for independence. The precipice of civil war. This is Iraq today and this was Nigeria in 1964.

Things never change. There are some eerie similarities between the events that led up to the Biafran War and the present political situation as it unfolds in Iraq.

I guess we have another case study for a post-colonial studies course 20 years from now.

To be fair, most Nigeria's oil is in the SW and there was no major trans-national religious or ethnic alliances that intervened a la Iran. But still.

Posted by: Bubb Rubb | Jul 25 2005 23:18 utc | 62

Just a jibe @Faux above.


And this remark will not be accepted well by the politically correct:

US has probably behaved fairly well--viewed historically--in it's 60 years of post WWII hegemony. Compared of course to the 19th and early 20th century imperialists, and to the rest of the conquerors over the ages.

Not to say there is not room for improvement.

Posted by: Groucho | Jul 25 2005 23:20 utc | 63


let me say this then - that u s of all the empires this world has had to endure is clearly the most brutal, the most senseless, the most culturally impoverished, clearly it is the most venal

but of all the imperialisms this world has had to endure it is without the doubt the most ugliest comparable only to the maddest moments of king leopold & the impulsive & reckless policies of the third reich

& of all the imperialism this world has had to endure it is the one that lacks vision - no matter how much i would have opposed all the other imperialism i could have at a pinch understood their internal necessities

that absence of vision makes it the most dangerous imperialism the world has had to endure

i only wish china would hurry up & put an end to it - it is clearly the only country capable of establishing some form of real balance nut that day will be a long time coming & until then this imperialism is so stupid in its practice that i really fear in a very real way for our destinies

there was a time when it was unimaginable that an imperial power would use nuclear weapons of any kind - but this administration is quite capable of unleashing them. i do not doubt it for a minute. even if it was to prove against their proper interests

this illegal & immoral war while in search of protecting & accumulating its proper interests has instead put even thos interests in great danger. but i am unconcerned with their interests as you can well imagine - but they have through their tide of murder created very real danger for us who live it & vertainly for the generations to come

it is critical that this world that gathered 12 million people must transform that opposition into resistance. real resistance. europe must find its backbone. russia should grow up china should assert its natural position of power & those countries of the third world who suck at the teat of imperialisms doublesided & corrupt aid should really turn to themselves & away from a civilisation that is clearly in decay

as i've noted in latin america for the first time in a century we are seeing something that resembles a form of light - that while it can be destabilised as were those of the last century - there seems a broad & real attempt to construct an entity that can hold its own against the menace of imperialism. it is the only light that i see

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 25 2005 23:25 utc | 64

mr marx

ask 1,000,0000 indonesians, 3,000,000 vietnamese cambofians laotians ask the people of latin america, ask the people of africa even ask the dumbest colonies of america - britain & australia - how well beghaved this ugly imperial power has been & i would assert they have an opinion very different from your own

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 25 2005 23:31 utc | 65

et me say this then - that u s of all the empires this world has had to endure is clearly the most brutal, the most senseless, the most culturally impoverished, clearly it is the most venal

Now that IS an historical mouthful to swallow.

Posted by: Groucho | Jul 25 2005 23:34 utc | 66

I dunno - there were some pretty ugly imperial regimes. The Soviets were not exactly slouches in the atrocities department - 20 million killed, in the USSR alone? The empires that established the African slave trade were also pretty vile. I don't think we need to get into the hyperbole of making our empire the all-time evilllest. America is an empire - with all the corruption that implies - and that's bad enough. We don't give a rat's ass about the values we espouse, and we kill innocents by the thousand without much thought. That alone makes me sick - we don't have to be the worst, and frankly, I don't think we're even close.

I was thinking - just what does the NYT get as an instutition our of being the New Pravda at this point? I know they're part and parcel of the establishment, but don't even corporations at some point value correct information? And don't corporations get a lot of their useful information from such sources? Wouldn't American business want, at least at some point, real information about issues like Iraq or terrorism or the economy in order to know where and on whom to place its money?

Posted by: NickM | Jul 25 2005 23:46 utc | 67

I don't understand the point of this discussion of who is the worse colonizer.

The US IS a colony remember and what did we do to the indigenous? Trail of tears anyone?

But back to the other notion of colonization. I suggest anyone interested should read some Wallerstein. Or perhaps W.E.B. DuBois. Becuase both were interested in the same thing. DuBois wrote in dissertation at Harvard on the Triangle Trade (remember that?). Wallerstein writes a very nice history of the expansion of colonies and the creation of what he terms the "World System" borrowing on Frankian core-periphery relations.

Both men show that all core actors within the World System have just as much agency for the externalities of that system as anyone else. In the Triangle Trade: the English, Spanish and Portugese procured the slaves, the Dutch had the boats and the US had the market. Until of course 1804, when the British figured out how to create sugar from beats and then unilaterally tried to end transatlantic slave trading to kill off Spanish and Portugese colonial production of cane sugar in the New World.

Just because the US was late to the imperialsm game does not mean that the US does not have responsibility as an agent within the World System that enriched this country. Where the hell do people think a lot of the cheap raw materials came from the fueled US industrial development?

Using such logic as to suggest that we are not as bad is absolve ourselves of our responsibility. We take the sausage, yeah sure, but just don't tell us how it is made?

Posted by: Bubb Rubb | Jul 25 2005 23:52 utc | 68

Wouldn't American business want, at least at some point, real information about issues like Iraq or terrorism or the economy in order to know where and on whom to place its money?

Posted by: NickM | July 25, 2005 07:46 PM | #

In Billmon's post, he provides a good example of how The New Pravada and in the case Mr. Burns, was witholding information that they already had.

These people have all the information, but like good businessmen, they are holding their cards close. Like any good insider trade, you gotta keep it to yourself for it to pay off.

Posted by: Bubb Rubb | Jul 25 2005 23:58 utc | 69


Thank you in re hyperbole.

We very much needed that.

Posted by: Groucho | Jul 26 2005 0:10 utc | 70

i thin iinsist as i do - because i come from a generation - that includes marxist who believe thatorder is establishe through series of different balances & synthesis

however in our time i see no such order nor any balance

i insist also because this hatred & indeed it is hatred - was something i was almost borne with - & i imagined back then it would moderate - become something more distanced, measured even moderated

however that is not the case - it is the absolute contraire - my hatred of this particular empire is close to unfathomable & there is an almost instinctual contempt for its stupidity

an empirical understanding of its deeds have fed the darkness with this soul more than any other factor. of that for me there is no question. chile & the constittional coup organised by the u s were the last breath of any hope i ever had that it could be transformed peacefully & these last ten or fifteen years have made me considerably angrier than i have ever been

i look back now on my days as a maoist - as a clear & indeed overt supporter of the red guards - as a time of my moderation & not of my fanaticism

this fanatic heart has been fed very well by u s empire

& on nights like this i also remember it created great people like w e dubois (who wrote on the town i now live) & that great hope, that most exemplary fighter, fred hampton

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 26 2005 0:21 utc | 71

& nick

this empire has killed people by the millions - both directly & through their agency

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 26 2005 0:24 utc | 72

Groucho, Nick M -- There's absolutely no point in arguing with rememberinggiap. He's not exactly a member of the reality-based community, if you know what I mean.

Posted by: Billmon | Jul 26 2005 0:32 utc | 73

Groucho- I'm from the south, so the weird comes naturally.

Posted by: fauxreal | Jul 26 2005 0:41 utc | 74

I Garontee that, Fauz!

Posted by: Groucho | Jul 26 2005 0:51 utc | 75

One of Darwin's Ole Monkies was at the keyboard, above.

Sorry, Faux.

Posted by: Groucho | Jul 26 2005 0:55 utc | 76

Bubb Rubb,
and many of the chains were made in Sweden. But try to take that up in a discourse about the roots of swedish welfare society and you will meet glazed eyes and "but we never had any colonies" (which in itself is factually untrue, yet videly belived).

And in a similar way the european governments are now enablers (when not actors) in most of the US crimes. If they wanted to be anything else their leading politicians could compare Falluja to Guernica. But they do not, they discuss how to curtail their citizens freedoms instead.

Yesterday the justice minister of Sweden suggested the police should have the right of telephone bugging, secret searches of houses (including taking stuff) without even having to tell afterwards that the house had been searched. And there was some more like monitoring the swedish part of Internet (as if giving the police the right of burglary was not enough). Fortunately I do not think it will even reach the parliament as the initial reactions has been very negative.

Turns out I was not done ranting after all.

Posted by: A swedish kind of death | Jul 26 2005 0:56 utc | 77


it is in my nature to take these insults as their opposites tho i know that is not your intention

& i rest absolutely unashamed of my fanaticism. not proud just no regrets & satisfied that historical imperatives will give the lie to american exceptionalism

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 26 2005 1:12 utc | 78

I have to agree with all the WOWs.

That was a very enlightening yet depressing post, written fantastically.

I've personally thought for at least a year that the solution is the three-way 'federation' option. We would need to setup semi-permanent bases in Kurdistan, Shia-land would become an annex of Iran, and the Sunnis would languish in the dessert, but I think it could be somewhat stable.

Posted by: miguel | Jul 26 2005 1:18 utc | 79

Swedish, lucky for you that your govt operators have not had the support and experience of pros like Rove, Sensenbrenner, Cheney, who have spent a long time and plenty of capital developing the methods and connections for establishement of a police state. I suggest taking the initiative to whatever extent possible and nipping these swedish neocon wannabes in the bud. Kill them off before they get established because later they are very hard to exterminate.

Posted by: rapt | Jul 26 2005 1:22 utc | 80

@ Bubba Rubb and SKOD:

Was reading Ian Williams'book, Rum, over the weekend.

Something in it for most every European nation of that time, and the British, French, and Spanish nations and their American colonies to be really proud of.

Posted by: Groucho | Jul 26 2005 1:23 utc | 81

& i was taught as a child that liberal bourgeois haughtiness was itself a mask of a more genteel form of barbarism - which implied that great men would set the house in order & as i have sd repeatedly i see no such men nor such order

if you see that order, if you can explain to me how resistance will be consituted in your empire, if you can explain to me how already - it is possible to 'live with' the bloody history of your empire - i cannot guarantee my fanaticism will be moderated but i am enouh of a dialectical materialist to respect empirical evidence. i see none

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 26 2005 1:25 utc | 82

As is so often the case Billmon's words and references epitomize the scope of the present disaster, which has been apparent now for two years to those of us who watched it closely and feared it would happen. Fauxreal's comments are to the point. Most ordinary Americans are not viscious (nor were most Germans of the 1930s and 1940s); but the best of them are woefully ignorant. There is a difference between the American and German expeditions, despite many similarities. The German expedition was born of a sense of inferiority, a sense that their nation didn't have the place in the world that its achievements warranted. That is not the case of the United States. The people there -- at least since 1920 -- have never doubted the superiority of their (our) system. I recall reading in the early spring of 2003 that many of these innocents intended to go to Iraq to convert the infidels!

We are a long way from having a real understanding of the Americans -- and I am one. I agree on many levels with rememberinggiap, and look forward to reading his (or her) posts. They ring true. But he (she) does not understand my country. None of us do. It is an odd mix of exterminating the natives, enslaving millions of people, and an incredibly idealistic structure of self-government. Many of us fear we are at a tipping point to the kind of fascism r'giap thinks we have always represented. But that's too simplistic. The fascists -- going back to McCarran and later McCarthy have exploited the ignorance of the people, as they do everywhere. But they are not the whole story.

As to the defeat in Iraq, I hold with those who think that nothing short of utter humiliation will save my country. That plus war crimes trials for the perpetrators. But that's matter for another rant.

Posted by: Knut Wicksell | Jul 26 2005 1:32 utc | 83

How about the US as empire most full of it and be done with it? To argue over the millions of victims of empire is macabre to say the least. Inhumane perhaps, as it cheapens each life by rendering it inconsequential.

Has any other empire had the luxury of their "for King and Country" being expressed as "freedom and democracy" and "rule of law"? Weren't these other empires afraid of those ideals? The hypocrisy is of nova-like intensity. That could make some people very angry.

All nations enable this, not just those mentioned thread-wise. A recent letter to the editor praised the US & Britain for saving us from living in caves.

America is not an exceptional nation, just another nation run by thugs that have figured out how to convince large numbers of people to run around killing each other while they make $$$$$$$$$$. Oh yes, you and I have the "same" chance of making $$$$$$$$$$, it is just business.

Posted by: gmac | Jul 26 2005 1:42 utc | 84

I'm with fauxreal, above. The mentality of 10-year olds who really have a very limited perspective on the greater world around them. That's my experience of most of the people I know or have encountered here in the USA. I still have the capacity to be simultaneously dumbfounded and overwhelmed with exasperation whenever I'm back home in the American midwest and hear the naive, ignorant, but completely sincere utterances of acquaintances and relatives along the lines that "the President has good intentions", is generally "looking out for our interests", etc. Just the fact that they fall for his bogus schtick about being a "regular guy" ... honestly I can never grasp why they can't see it for what it is. But the fact is, to many people that play-acting seems completely believable.

Posted by: maxcrat | Jul 26 2005 2:08 utc | 85

Has any other empire had the luxury of their "for King and Country" being expressed as "freedom and democracy" and "rule of law"?

Not "freedom and democracy" perhaps, but "rule of law" and "improving the lot of the natives" certainly. The British in India made much of their colonial generosity, their rail roads and water systems which did in fact (as a side effect of the EE Co's profiteering, never interfering with that priority) benefit many people. If you go back and read Kipling's Indian short stories, the White Man's Mission stands out like a banner reading Excelsior. His hero is the unsung British Colonial administrator who is forever trying to save natives from despotic rulers, floods and droughts, inefficiency and ignorance etc.

The Romans also prided themselves on introducing a consistent jurisprudence (and good roads!) in their conquered territories, and on squelching the minor wars of minor kings and chieftains and "keeping the peace." There's enough altruism in the human brain that imperialists usually find a comforting myth to convince themselves that they are Doing Good. The Yanks are not unique in this regard.

What they're unique in (mho) is the astonishing wealth of their empire, its massed killing power, and its global reach. The jet aircraft, the nuke sub, the satellite, the IR imager, encrypted near-instant communications... all extend the reach, striking power and destructiveness of this empire beyond what previous empires (even the soviet) could imagine. They haven't exercised the full brutality of that power yet -- but the loose talk about unleashing tac nukes on Iran terrifies me. If "the public" will stand for that -- if race hatred, xenophobia, religious zealotry and paranoia have been stoked up to that pitch -- then the brakes are off and god knows where the juggernaut will roll before its inevitable crash.

Posted by: DeAnander | Jul 26 2005 2:24 utc | 86

"The mentality of 10-year olds who really have a very limited perspective on the greater world around them. That's my experience of most of the people I know or have encountered here in the USA."

Well, gee Max, you really ought to get outside of the Beltway for starters.

"I still have the capacity to be simultaneously dumbfounded and overwhelmed with exasperation whenever I'm back home in the American midwest and hear the naive, ignorant, but completely sincere utterances of"

I live in the same country. I work several different nationalities, most with less than high school educations, and neither the Americans or Mexicans are naive, ignorant, etc.

I've learned something most every day from the people I employ.

Posted by: Groucho | Jul 26 2005 2:33 utc | 87

I was reading the following the other night, and it all sounded eerily familiar:

I walked the floor of the White House night after night until midnight; and I am not ashamed to tell you, gentlemen, that I went down on my knees and prayed Almighty God for light and guidance more than one night. And one night late it came to me this way -- I don't know how it was but it came; first, that we could not give [the Philippines] back to Spain -- that would be cowardly and dishonorable; second, that we could not turn them over to France or Germany - our commerical rivals in the Orient -- that would be bad business and discreditable; third, we could not leave them to themselves -- they were unfit for self-government, and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain’s was; and fourth, that there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow men for whom Christ also died. And then I went to bed, and went to sleep and slept soundly. (President McKinley 1898)

Source is Eduardo Galeano "Faces & Masks" Norton, 1998 citing Paul Jacobs et. al "To Serve the Devil", Random House, 1971.

Plus ca change...

It was in response to this decision that Mark Twain suggested the US flag should be changed to have black stripes and skulls & crossbones in place of stars.

Posted by: PeeDee | Jul 26 2005 2:37 utc | 88

If an intelligent post can sum up how actions take were known foolish, this tells us that homo sapien sapine is quite capable of doing a better job and the depressing news is the failure to do so and our failure to be able to stop a spectacularly crappy job from being done. This is the tragedy of incompetence when competence was an option.

And the driving dynamic of what comes next is just as much American as Iraqui because Americans, as a democratic majority, do not want a wasting war and will not persist in one. This is good, though it is tragic a majority refused to try and thing ahead far enough to decide not to go willingly down a known dead end path, with the full cooperation of the New York Times, New Pravada, Daily Plant-It, Miller Follies, what have you.

So the real question is personal: why couldn't those who know better articulate a message that could convince? What failure prevented a united response? What success can now create one? Success is still within grasp, but not if a group of people can't work together to grasp it.

Posted by: razor | Jul 26 2005 2:54 utc | 89

@ Bubba Rubb and SKOD:

Was reading Ian Williams'book, Rum, over the weekend.

Something in it for most every European nation of that time, and the British, French, and Spanish nations and their American colonies to be really proud of.

Posted by: Groucho | July 25, 2005 09:23 PM | #

Rum, Palm Oil, Molasses, Gunpowder, Linens and of course... Slaves. It must give guys like Milton Friedman a little tear in his eye to think about that level of economic efficiency in that comparative advantage. Chains made in Sweden, boats made in Europe; molasses extracted from sugar cane in the Caribbean; Palm Oil from West Africa; cotton, linens and rum from Beantown; cargo insurance and financing from Barclays and Lloyd's of London; and let's not to forget, the African's got booze (cheap gin I believe) and guns to shoot each other (always a good combination).

See that, everyone wins. Just like Uncle Miltie always says.

Posted by: Bubb Rubb | Jul 26 2005 3:12 utc | 90

But the fact is, to many people that play-acting seems completely believable.

Posted by: maxcrat | July 25, 2005 10:08 PM | #

Probably the same people who think Walker Texas Ranger is a good show.

Posted by: Bubb Rubb | Jul 26 2005 3:23 utc | 91

Much interesting discussion. I have a request for those of you who have studied Brit. Imperialism in more detail. While there are obvious structural similarities that are mentioned here, isn't what the Corporados are doing in Iraq is far worse.?

I know very little in detail about the Brits. Yet the little I do gives me the impression that while they treated the natives as their servants & extracted whatever riches they could, but they nevertheless built a functioning civil society. Whereas in Iraq, xUS Corporados are just deliberately destroying everything & everyone w/abandon. The greater the mayhem the greater their paydays, it keeps journos too frightened to leave their hotels to report back home, and civil war & chaos supposedly guarantees they can keep their bases & crack up the country into sub-states which will never have much power. If I may be permitted the license to put it this way - even by the most generous standards of Brit. Imperialism, they guys are giving effing imperialism a bad name!! Wouldn't you far rather have lived in Raj India than xAmerican occupied Iraq? I'd appreciate it if anyone who knows whereof they speak would take a moment to weigh in.

Posted by: jj | Jul 26 2005 3:33 utc | 92


I was reading the following the other night, and it all sounded eerily familiar:

Were you referring to this?

...that there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, ... the Filipinos, and ... Christianize them, President McKinley 1898
We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. Ann Coulter This Is War September 13, 2001

Okay, I apologize in advance for sullying the board with Annthrax and my apologies to Billmon as well for stealing his bit. But I couldn't help myslef. It was too good to resist.

It is amazing how little editing is necessary to make McKinley sound like Annthrax. Worst. President. Ever. After Coolidge of course.

Posted by: Bubb Rubb | Jul 26 2005 3:42 utc | 93

Worst. President. Ever. After Coolidge of course.

Present company excepted, IMHO.

Posted by: PeeDee | Jul 26 2005 7:48 utc | 94

As far as I know, there are no Native Americans, Chiliens, Cubans, Salvidorians, Nicaraugans, Grenadans, Laoatians, Cambodians, Vietnamese, or Iraqis (for that matter) post on this board. We do have, however, remembereringgiap, the sole representative of one that has actually been an eyewitness to the business end of American empire. We have here in lue, is a most eloquent and encyclopedic representative for those without voice, past and present and an advocate for turning historic and temporal awareness into viable resistance. This is after all not a jig-saw puzzle but a praxis, and to assume its not "reality based" is to assume, at best, a" posture"

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 26 2005 9:44 utc | 95

anna missed

i know that sometimes either my fury or my melancholia get in the way but for me they are my family - these instincts - these feelings are like my brother & sister

there are already a small number of people who post here who have witnessed practically what i do in the vie quotidiebbe here - & i trust their judgement on whether what i do in france is 'reality based' or not

my participation, aid, assistance & affinity with the oppresed is a matter of public record. i am & have been many things but what i am not is shrinking violet

i fully expect to be attacked here & that is as it should be. i believe i am in the possession of uncomfortable truths & like many on the left also a possessor of the guilty concience of a generation. i am not the only one

but yes when i see posts that do not mention; cadavers, skulls, bones, brain, flesh, skin, teeth - i am capable of an anger without measure - not the persons particularly but at a culture of forgetting & culture of superiority

my question has been again & again here - how do we constitute the communities of resistance in our time

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 26 2005 12:34 utc | 96

& a posture of resistance without risk, engagement & effort is abhorrent to me

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 26 2005 12:35 utc | 97


"my question has been again & again here - how do we constitute the communities of resistance in our time."

That, of couse, is the $64 question.

In my country the opposition party does not fight, and this allows these vicious republican bastards in power to continue to
do just about whatever they want to do--and not just in Iraq.

And, one might add, the protest rallies in Washington in the fall of 2002, and spring of 2003 were as large as anything seen at the height of the VNam War.It was amazing; and the opposition around the world was amazing. But still it happened.

And we are back to your question.

Posted by: Groucho | Jul 26 2005 13:39 utc | 98

I think rememberinggiap is Mr. Horowitz trying out his old slogans.
Why do you post here, if not to make us look rediculous?
Your Fritz Fanon mentality is ugly. Like neocon imperialism, it's just another form of sanctified hate which leads to murder.
Go read some John Stewart Mill and George Orwell. Hell, read some Shakespear. A good dose of utilitarian humanism should clean up your soul a bit.
Ah the blogosphere: It's all fun and games until an ideologue shows up.

Posted by: Scott McArthur | Jul 26 2005 15:25 utc | 99

"my final prayer: o my body, make of me always a man who questions!" - fritz fannon

scott- if you were being serious, you are ridiculous. ideologue? wake up.

Posted by: b real | Jul 26 2005 15:44 utc | 100

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