Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 08, 2007

The Surge 2.0

The "surge" as it was announced did not look like a serious attempt. Some 21,500 troops for a few months, essentially early deployments or prolonged stays, and some movement from the provinces to Baghdad were announced. The "surge" was sold as a temporary measure because the U.S. public would not agree to any longer troop increase. Now the real surge comes to light bit by bit.

In Germany we call this Salami Taktik, cutting the resistance chop by chop. As one slice an extended timeframe has now been presented:

The day-to-day commander of American forces in Iraq has recommended that the heightened American troop levels there be maintained through February 2008, military officials said Wednesday.

and more troops are asked for:

When the Bush administration announced its troop buildup in January, it said it was sending 21,500 troops to Baghdad and Anbar Province. Since then, the Pentagon has said that as many as 7,000 additional support troops would also be deployed, including some 2,200 additional military police that General Petraeus had asked for to handle an anticipated increase in detainees.

(I doubt the NYT reporting here. From my understanding the 2,200 MPs are not part of the 7,000 support troops but on top of that.)

There will be more requests like these and more immediate needs for even more troops and a longer timeframe. This will continue until there is some serious political resistance. But don't hold your breath for such.

Some liberal dems came up with a simple and good legislative amendment. They would "fund withdrawal" rather than defund the war. All new war funds could only be used for an immediate withdrawal and the force protection needed for that. But the moderate House democrats would not have that. Pelosi just announced to add some language to the war funding that may lead to a pullout by fall 2008. The Senate dems will make sure to water that already very soft drink down some more.

Bill Lind sees a simple election strategy behind this:

For the Democrats, what's not to like is anything that might actually end the war before the 2008 elections. The Republicans have 21 Senate seats up in 2008, and if the Iraq war is still going on, they can count on losing most of them, along with the Presidency and maybe 100 more seats in the House. [...] From the standpoint of the Democratic Party's leadership, a few thousand more dead American troops is a small price to pay for so glowing a political victory.

But that is only the tactical view.

Until I hear some of these heavyweight and low brained Dems like Biden and Clinton the She denounce the strategy of empire and call for giving up those fine four super-bases in Iraq, I'll stick to my assessment that they do not want a withdrawal at all. Unless such withdrawal means to steal away from the duty of an occupying power while still occupying and to sit back within those bases until the civil war burned itself out. That would lower the number of troops killed and keep the assets plus some of their beloved strategic perspectives.

So there is no hope for any real change and Lind may well be right saying:

The likely result of all this Washington dodging is that events on the ground in Iraq and elsewhere will outrun the political process. That in turn means a systemic crisis, the abandonment of both parties by their bases and a possible left-right grass roots alliance against the corrupt and incompetent center. In that possibility may lie the nation's best hope.

But that is a very small hope and anyway - the nation that really needs hope and really would benefit from an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops is Iraq.

Posted by b on March 8, 2007 at 19:19 UTC | Permalink

next page »

Renunciation of empire is off the table. Off the table, out the door, down the rabbit hole and beyond the pale. It will be lost, not relinquished.

Posted by: YouFascinateMe | Mar 8 2007 19:29 utc | 1

the nation that urgently needs real hope and would realy benefit from an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops is Iraq.

you don't know this. i detest the war every bit as much a you, but do not kid myself as you do that withdrawal will not precipitate wider carnage and even greater disaster.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 8 2007 19:53 utc | 2

@sloth - staying there is guaranteeing ans sustaining "wider carnage and even greater disaster" - withdrawl is a chance that it may NOT happen.

Posted by: b | Mar 8 2007 20:00 utc | 3

no. no way. everything wee know about iraq points to unmitigated disaster if u.s. pulls out. i don't like it any more than you. but this is where we are.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 8 2007 20:13 utc | 4

if u.s. "pulls out" beyond any real ability to "redeploy" quickly:

-massive civil war, inconceivable slaughter
-expect sa, iran, syria, and turkey to go to war

pretty simple to understand what will likely happen

u.s. leave? that's crazy talk.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 8 2007 20:17 utc | 5

no, slothrop, given these circumstances & under these conditions - it is your talk which is crazy - or blind to any form of specificity

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 8 2007 20:23 utc | 6

b, excellent post, again.

sloth. there is no way i can read your myopic assessment w/out noticing the glaring similarities of all the neocon blathering i hear from the trolls on the iraqi sites.

muslims are all violent freaks and will devour eachother w/out our benevolent presence.

gag me

Posted by: annie | Mar 8 2007 20:30 utc | 7

Now the Senate Dems come in with "redeployment" starting within 20 days. But the key sentence, which will of course be hidden in the media is:

A limited number of troops would remain for the purposes of force protection, training and equipping Iraqi troops, and targeted counter-terror options.
Remain for force prodection is really orwelian language.

If there are no forces, there is no need for force protection. What Reid is talking about is "super-base protection" ...

Posted by: b | Mar 8 2007 20:36 utc | 8

slothrop seems fixed on the idea that the status quo in Iraq is the best solution. I have tried to see that point of view but just can't. While he is most likely correct in assuming there will be some fairly serious infighting among the more influential groups or tribes I believe a large point of contention would disappear with the last occupying troops.

The Iraqis did not gleefully slaughter each other in the past and I really can't see why they would decide to do that now. Allowed to their own devices they would soon enough restore electricity and basic services to their land. The whole point of creating chaos and fear in the land is to make it more difficult for the invaders to rule. This is obvious to me. The longer the occupation continues, the more divided certain groups will be become. I would argue that a continued presence of foreign troops will only leave the country in tiny pieces that cannot/will not talk to each other because of accumulated hatred through revenge killings and such. A sort of Hatfield and McCoy situation where the original slights are no longer remembered.

having said that, I do not see any democrat calling for complete withdrawal from Iraq. apparently they are all too beholding to their corporate masters.

so the only way the US will leave Iraq is if they are driven out. That will take many more years and many more dead Iraqis and US soldiers before it will come to pass. Even if the adventure becomes too expensive to continue I believe the US will stay. Our honorable congress will throw good money after bad and never will the thought of cutting losses be discussed. Losing all that oil and wealth is just something that will not be considered.

Posted by: dan of steele | Mar 8 2007 20:56 utc | 9

btw annie, Jim Hightower was talking about bush's "fixer" Karen Hughes on his radio program. One of her proud accomplishments in spreading democracy is hiring 5 bloggers to present the neocon view on Iraqi blogs.

millions of dollars in walking around money plus five bloggers trolling should do the trick. don't know if sloth is on the payroll or merely doing it for free.

Posted by: dan of steele | Mar 8 2007 21:02 utc | 10

Of course, all of this assumes that the US can actually control the situation and stay as long as it likes, until it leaves in a time and manner of its own choosing. The Iraqis may disagree. The US forces depend upon a long supply line from Kuwait to Baghdad. I do not wish to minimize the difficulty of shutting that supply line down, but the insurgents could certainly disrupt it if they choose to. The supply line runs through predominantly Shiite territory, so that a move against the Mahdi Army, for example, could have very unfortunate consequences for the United States.

If the US leaves, Iraq will degenerate into chaos, anarchy, and civil war. If the US stays, Iraq will degenerate into chaos, anarchy, and civil war, with US troops in the middle of it. There are no good outcomes, and we have no way of knowing what the least bad one is. I'm reluctant to say that things can't get any worse, but they're pretty horrifically bad now. The damage that might occur if the US leaves could well be less than if it stays, and will certainly be less than what the US caused by invading in the first place.

This is and will continue to be a foreign policy disaster of world-historic proportions, up there with Napoleon's invasion of Russia. Not even most of the Democrats are willing to face the reality that the options of the United States are in fact very limited, that the situation is likely only to get worse, and that the ultimate outcome will probably be a permanent dimunition of the strategic power of the United States, not to mention its national security and reputation. In sum, the Bush junta has created a disaster of such epic proportions that not even the Democrats can accept the inevitable outcome.

Once again, Joe Wilson was prescient beyond imagining. When asked in January 2004 what he thought of the situation in Iraq, he replied, immortally:

We're fucked.

Posted by: Aigin | Mar 8 2007 21:21 utc | 11

As far as I can see events in Iraq, the US play is to shaft Maliki for strongman Alawi and retreat to the 4 permanent bases. Much cheaper and Hilary/Obama are on-board for this.

Lind thinks that events will force this objective to crisis point, at this stage I expect fireworks in Iran to downplay Iraq and just move the crisis in Empire building to force Japan and China to call in loans and fuck everything for USA.

Europe meanwhile will beg Russia and satellites to become part of the brotherhood.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Mar 8 2007 21:22 utc | 12

for the thousandth time, i do not reject "withdrawal" because i approve of neoliberal conspiracy to dominate or believe arabs and others too dull to make their own future peacefully. all i do is read the fucking news. and the news massively supports my view the kind of withdrawal demanded by some fellow travelers, in which humiliated u.s. policy limps home as iraqi boys and girls return to blooming fields to fly kites, is fantasy bullshit.

i don't like it anymore than you do. reality bites.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 8 2007 21:22 utc | 13

though a simple point, aigin -"the options of the United States are in fact very limited" - needs to be understood - clearly & concretely

when we understand that point - the 'surges' become what they really are, materially - scenes from a mad melodrama

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 8 2007 21:26 utc | 14

one of the reasons i've been more prescient than you about this atrocity, is because of my "specificity."

by this point, the view something better will happen if the u.s. leaves is delusional.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 8 2007 21:27 utc | 15


what 'news' are you watching

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 8 2007 21:28 utc | 16

what 'specificity'????

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 8 2007 21:46 utc | 17

yes there will be civil war and bloodletting when the US leaves. it will continue until it either burnes itself out or someone 'wins'.

the way i see it we can have 5 more years of war and then there will be a period of civil war and bloodletting when the US leaves.


we can have 10 more years of war and then there will be a period of civil war and bloodletting when the US leaves.

we can have 20 more years of war and then there will be a period of civil war and bloodletting when the US leaves.

or we can just stay forever to 'secure' our resources while 'securing' iraqis who will never ever ever just bend over and accept a permanent occupying power. oh right, not permanent, we leave when the oil runs dry.

wow, i'm so impressed all the news controlled by the corporate reality dominating the planet is reporting iraq will be worse if we leave. what do you think they are going to say?

dan, i read that about hughes. there are a lot more than 5 of them. did you see 60 minutes on sunday, they interviewed some bloggers who battle the 'islamofascists'.

Posted by: annie | Mar 8 2007 21:58 utc | 18

the real surge needs to take place at home. the democrats are just as much part of the problem as the republicans. the surge of a third force may help mitigate some of the damages already done and on the horizon, but there is no going back to the way politics and business have operated in recent u.s. history.

Posted by: b real | Mar 8 2007 22:40 utc | 19

I would suspect that some portion (emphasis on 'some') of this extended stay, and additional troops, is SIMPLY an effort to counter those who choose to lay low, lurking for a period of time, await the US stand-down...........

I appears to be an effort to draw the bad guys into a fight. No?

Posted by: SoandSo | Mar 8 2007 22:44 utc | 20

& what needs to be said again & again & again at the risk of boring everybody here shitless

the 'petraeus solution' - conforms exactly with the combined operations of the waffen ss, the germany army, the einsatzgruppen & the police battalions - especially as the operated in the baltic & the ukraine

it is, it seems to me an exact replication of that form of war crimes - indeed to an extent far greater in vietnam - because as they were losing vietnam policies & strategies accumulated into forms of frustration that synthesised with the racist politics of the united states which led formally to the genocide of the vietnamese & indo chinese people - so in a sense it was an accumulations of accumulations

but in iraq - it is clear that they started with that genocidal strategy - thus the importance of negroponte & the worst scum from the attack against latin america - murder, common murder was always policy

& i want to be franker - that the racist nature of this empire saw the vietnamese as something less than human & they were perplexed that these people could defeat them - so in turn towards the end their strategies became more & more murderous & more & more destructive

but the u s empire hates & i mean in the most coincrete sense - hates the arab people & began this destruction from the very beginning & from the base - it is no accident that the intelligentsia & all the cultural institutions & treasures of iraq were liquidated as individuals & as entities

it is not a pretty picture, not a pretty picture at all

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 8 2007 23:23 utc | 21

r'giap - Most individual Americans probably didn't think or know much about Arabs before 9/11. We seem to be a country willfully incurious and ignorant of the rest of the world, of the flowers of many cultures. Even when we travel, it is more like visiting an enormous Disneyland of picturesque ways, staying in US-styled hotels and ships. (Anyone remember that old Randy Newman song, "Political Science"?)

This sort of ignorance makes Americans an easy mark for schooling in hatred or dehumanization or condescension to "little brown brothers", the attitudes commonly cultivated for domination or war. And, of course, too much of the leadership chooses to see it the same way, though they should know better.

As long as we keep lying to ourselves, our own lies will keep tripping us up. If only we don't sweep the whole world into the maelstrom with us.

Posted by: small coke | Mar 8 2007 23:50 utc | 22

Reading along, I was going to say: We'll leave when the oil is all gone, as I did in 2003 but annie ("we leave when the oil runs dry.") beat me to it.

Posted by: beq | Mar 9 2007 0:35 utc | 23

Thanks B for your excellent work. Amazing how you present info and analysis that's missing in most other "liberal" blogs.

Today, US influence (political, economic, and military) in Iraq seems to be a tiny fraction of what it was even a couple of years ago. The surge in Baghdad is not yielding much, is it? We went in to Sadr city and for what? Didn't even get to see the Mahdi army.

Nothing in Iraq will be decided in the US House or Senate. The Sunni resistance and the Mahdi Army will chart Iraq's future. We can continue to debate resolutions...the only option we have is to withdraw our troops. The question is not if, but when?

Posted by: SimplyLurking | Mar 9 2007 1:10 utc | 24

Me reading between news lines and occasional comments -I think a real limiting factor on how long this "surge" and US presence in Iraq continues is what the military calls "readiness". The readiness timeline doesn't go out very far.

War fighting equipment is being damaged and destroyed faster than it is being repaired and replaced. Troops are similarly worn out. Those that have fulfilled official commitments, often the most experienced, are peeling out of the military at higher rates. Recruitment standards have dipped way down to keep numbers up.

In order to maintain "surge" levels, almost all troops will go on a schedule of speeded up redeployments and longer stays in Iraq. Although there has been no national announcement, it appears that every army unit is having its redeployment to Iraq date moved up; thus they have only 8/9 mos at home, and expect to spend 15 mos in Iraq. This was already happening before today's NYT story. Governors are speaking out openly against the repeated use by feds of state national guards, whom they rely on for disasters and other duties within state borders. (I wish even one or two guvs would refuse to send their guard units.)

I think surge is not most generals' choice, if only because they see the whole military, and esp the ground forces, breaking apart. Petraeus and others comment repeatedly to the press that the solution is not military. My translation: at best, the military can provide a temporary holding pattern. And McConnell, the new DNI, tells Congress that the situation is "deteriorating" and already "close to impossible."

Unfortunately, these military commanders are tied to civilian government leaders, at least half of whom do not understand negotiation or diplomacy, have demonstrably little contact with reality, and give primacy to a political imperative to reach 2008 without "losing" a war, so they can blame loss on Democrats.

The wingnut spin has already started responding to the tepid, moderate Dem resolution, which is unlikely to pass Senate and Prez anyway -- "Democrats again choose to lose." "It is already lost," I find myself muttering at the radio. Evidently, Repugs would choose to gamble many more Iraqi and US lives for an illusion and partisan political advantage, rather than attempting an organized retreat. They won't recognize defeat until the US is routed.

It is likely that the military command sees the potential of a rout, or collapse of any effective military control, in the near future, and they are probably doing whatever they can think of, short of outright coup, to shorten the Iraq adventure and start a draw down. This would include, with or without civilian authorization, presently drawing up plans for some sort of reduction of forces. Some forces home, others drawback to Kuwait and nearby bases would be my guess for a first step. Will they wait for authorization to implement such a plan?

Whatever the Cheney-Bush will to power, it will become a pragmatic impossibility to continue on the same course. If nothing deters them before the 2008 election, the situation on the ground in Iraq will render the surge meaningless.

Posted by: small coke | Mar 9 2007 1:25 utc | 25


indeed, i too often forget your view of the matter requires endlessly instant hypostatization of america as cause of every conceivable evil everywhere. it's easier that way, because there are no contradictions. a religious faith, really. the rightwing knuckleheads do the same thing w/ "liberal" btw.

I'd say aigin hits it on the head. but there is too much evidence the war will go regional if the u.s. "loses"; like choosing whether you want to lose your legs or risk terminal cancer. no good choices.

but it's where we're at.

also, dan of steele: fuck off.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 9 2007 1:43 utc | 26


a big problem with that whole "stay" premise is that generals and others testified that the outcome of an invasion would be civil war. This was testimony before the invasion. And yet, no one in the govt. took it seriously enough, or cared about that consequence enough, to stop what they were doing.

the U.S. citizenry will NOT go along with staying in Iraq for a decade...and who is going to supply troops for this fiasco?

Someone linked here recently to Kwiatkowski's remark that the U.S. had their big bases, what they really wanted, and otherwise, I think this administration is willing to let the Iraqis go to hell, as long as the neocons have a base to attack others in the region (and a way to threaten Russia.)

So, what if the strategy IS to create chaos and allow civil the same way that these SAME Machiavellis armed both Iran and Iraq to keep them fighting each other. what if the powers that be want civil war because then the Iraqis would be killing each other and the military could retire to their bases?

then all the talk that "we cannot leave" is only a cover for the idea that we cannot leave because we want to occupy bases...however, at the same time, the U.S. govt. could give a shit who among the Iraqis kills one another?

in other words, what reason is there to think this is not a strategy, considering it was one in the past, and considering the insistence that this is "WWIV" and the utter and total failure of this administration to do anything to actually rebuilt Iraq, or to take care of soldiers. YET, all of Bush and Cheney's buddies and their families members have made out like lottery winners because of fucking cannibals they are.

what if you're wrong that the reason to be there is to create peace? what if the reason to be there is to channel the chaos where you want it? ...maybe, for instance, by having some teams doing black ops and blaming one side or the other...

whenever the U.S. leaves it seems like civil war will happen. maybe it's like the protestants and catholics in europe for centuries...and the people in the area have to determine their destinies, now that the U.S. has made sure chaos now reigns.

Posted by: fauxreal | Mar 9 2007 2:01 utc | 27

@small coke, #22:

Very insightful, and as you say, most Americans (me included) are not even aware of these biases. We learn such behavior much earlier than most are aware.

As an example, I present myself. I was raised by 'hippies' (very liberal, highly educated parents). My idea of 'travel' does not include American-style hotels, etc., but rather "Where can I find a secluded patch of dirt to lay out my bag."

However, I do remember at a young age dressing up for Halloween as the stereotypical 'arab' (sunglasses, beard-n-moustache, robe, head scarf, etc) and carrying a briefcase - "Look at me...I'm an Oil Sheik!" And I did this because I thought it was an interesting character. That was probably the problem, that our culture caricaturizes anybody who is non-WASP. And parents are unaware that these attitudes may be reinforced unconsciously, because kids can pick up on such fine nuance and 'learn the lesson' without it being explicitly taught.

Unbroken chain of sorrow and pearls...

Now that I'm older, I'm a bit wiser. While I have not unlearned this corrosive stain of racism, I'm better and better every day. Since marrying a beautiful young Indonesian woman, I've had a chance to do the 'total immersion' thing - travelling to Java to spend time with her family and friends, attending Friday prayer with 1,000 other people in an indoor tennis facility, going to family gatherings where the 'family' is 200+ people. The traffic was horrible, but in contrast with Los Angeles traffic, where everyone is vying for the Gotta-Get-To-Work trophy, the traffic in Jakarta had this psychic cooperation vibe that was most welcome. The people who had been afflicted with Western culture were mostly the very-bitchy types, and everyone else I met was quite friendly.

By far the most important lesson I learned from that trip is that there is a whole World out there that just doesn't need America and Americans.

Take a walk outside myself,
To some exotic land.
Greet a passing stranger...
Feel the strength in his hand,
Feel the World expand!

Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Mar 9 2007 2:18 utc | 28

What makes people so sure that things would get so much worse, and that some outcome like that is not likely anyway eventually? What is stopping localized death-squad ethnic cleansing now? The US? really? How? How do you stop that when you have poor "human intel" and you're up against people who blend in? I don't see why the US presence would be much of a constraint to sectarian tit-for-tat now, and therefore don't expect "apres nous le deluge". What the absence of US troops would allow is massed formations of troops, but is that really the way ethnic cleansing gets done anyway?

Is it slightly possible that "pottery barn" is just the "white man's burden", warmed-over and made suitable to a consumerist culture?

"The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the current unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial force presence in the region transcends the issue of Saddam Hussein" - PNAC, Rebuiling America's Defenses

Posted by: boxcar mike | Mar 9 2007 2:26 utc | 29

dan of steele, your next drink at the Whiskey Bar is on me,

Also, please allow me the honor, I'm covering your tab for the week.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Mar 9 2007 2:40 utc | 30

Slothrop has it pretty right on. We are screwed either way (stay/leave) BUT totally screwed IF we leave. Stay we must and stay we will, come whatever. Blame Bush/neocons but we are where we are.

Posted by: SoandSo | Mar 9 2007 2:53 utc | 31

I've read through the reactions to Bernhard's post, and the one thing I haven't seen is the one truth about the Bush presidency: Bush will never leave Iraq. There's no getting away from the fact that domestic American politics drives the outcome of this debate. Yes, House Democrats are slowly forging some kind of weak bill that may limit the president's action, but there is no way what they send to the Senate will make it to the president's desk. Where, he would veto it anyway.

The only way I can see the president giving in is if the monitory leaders in the Senate come to his office, sometime in early to mid '08, and tell the president: "we're going to lose it all." They have twenty-two seats up for grabs, a little less than half the Dems, and the only way the president budges is if he finally realizes that public opinion of his handling of the war has cratered so far that his stance will cost his party the majority for years to come. If he finally bows to the knowledge that they'll suffer further losses in the House, the Senate, and lose the presidency, he'll budge. And maybe not even then. He's stubborn after all.

So, you can debate whether "Surge 2.0" will work or not. It doesn't matter.

It's instructive to keep in mind that Bush is not the dummy that all the parodies will have us believe. It's where he's extremely capable that no one ever focuses on: he's a political hatchet man. He and Rove compliment each other at every turn. They're nothing more than students of the Lee Atwater School of Dirty Tricks. That defines them both, except one of them happens to be president.

When these two ditch diggers are sent back to Texas, we can start reasoning about what will become of Iraq. Until then, we're there to stay.

Have these two American frauds ever given a fuck about anything else?

Posted by: FuzzFinger | Mar 9 2007 3:05 utc | 32

Fuzz #32 - the one thing I haven't seen is the one truth : Bush will never leave Iraq. There's no getting away from the fact that domestic American politics drives the outcome of this debate.
Me @25 must be too long or convoluted.
Only disagree w/your conclusion in that it seems possible that the military situation will unravel faster than the road to the election.

Agree too about Bush's particular strength. Rove probably has more advanced plotting skills, whereas Bush is better front man. (Although we may laugh, Bush honed a presentation that works, or used to work, for his target audience.)

Posted by: small coke | Mar 9 2007 3:21 utc | 33

r'giap wrote: the u s empire hates & i mean in the most coincrete sense - hates the arab people & began this destruction from the very beginning & from the base

this manipulation of public fear/hatred of arabs really does go back near the beginning of the united states
r.t. naylor: Ghosts of terror wars past? Crime, terror and America’s first clash with the Saracen Hordes [180k pdf]

Abstract In the wake of 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan, then of Iraq, with all the talk of a renewed Clash of Civilizations, came a revival of interest in the lessons from what seemed to be the direct antecedent, namely the Barbary Wars of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. At that time, too, America had seemed to be forced to defend itself economically and militarily against a fanatical foe which rationalized crimes in the name of religion to wage terror against innocents. There are indeed close analogies between the two; but they are almost exactly the opposite of what much popular (and some official) belief holds true. If today it has become clear that most justifications for the current Terror War were fabrications intended to cloak other agendas at home and abroad, when the Barbary Wars are subjected to serious scrutiny, much the same forces advancing much the same agendas appear at work. Nor are the “politics of fear” new in American history. During the Barbary Wars, carefully cultivated fears of a rising Islamintern served to: divert public attention from domestic political problems; suppress political dissent; provide cover for regressive fiscal changes; cloak offensive militarism in defensive guise; and ride roughshod over both conventions of international diplomacy and normal standards of criminal justice, all rationalized by a sense of Christian mission.

Posted by: b real | Mar 9 2007 3:48 utc | 34

b, I think your latest post has it about right.
Slothrop: They have the right to kill each other if we leave, it's THEIR country. Something I don't think you understand.

Posted by: Ben | Mar 9 2007 4:18 utc | 35

What started as a strategic foreign policy move, deposing Saddam & installing a client state status, has devolved through failure into at best a temporal political reckoning -- played out in both Baghdad and Washington. Most hopes of the secular democracy model (radiating outward) have been exhausted. As small coke says, whats left is a (political) holding pattern that is dependent on either complete evaporation of support for staying, or a military rout that forces the U.S. out. The strategic adventure in Iraq is already over and all the parties, both Iraqi and U.S. know this. What we are seeing is the respective fight over the crumbs and the fallout. And the morality of doing either this or that could'nt be further the truth or more irrelevent, as far as intentions go. Shit, if the U.S. administration does'nt even care about its own soldiers, far be it to think they would care more for Iraqi people. As for the democrats, they're not about to remove the albatross from around the decider's neck at least up until the next election. While the republicans, would like to think they can smoke and mirrors it into a soaring eagle. What everybody agrees on, and without further ado, is that the dying must continue -- until the claim fits the reality.

Posted by: anna missed | Mar 9 2007 4:27 utc | 36

small coke @25:

I thought I had read through everything on this thread, but I guess I missed your post, which covered many of the same themes. Points well taken.

In the end, I'd like to see what Last Ditch Mitch (McConnell that is) allows for a vote on Senate floor when the situation becomes even far more tragic than it already is. Suck up, or throw in the towel. We'll know circa late August next year.

Posted by: FuzzFinger | Mar 9 2007 4:31 utc | 37

"It is likely that the military command sees the potential of a rout, or collapse of any effective military control, in the near future, and they are probably doing whatever they can think of, short of outright coup, to shorten the Iraq adventure and start a draw down."

- small coke

Nnnno. They are, happily or not, helping to string the American public (or at least its Congressional leaders) along in bit pieces - an operation here, an operation there; six-month plan here, four-month plan there. Before you know it, why, four (six, eight) years have gone by.

Could've declared victory and come home, leaving behind the non-mil advisers along with some State and other non-DOD personnel (necessarily dispersed). All of the objectives under the original Authorization have been met. Could've done so, but didn't. Still could do so, but won't.

If the security of the Iraqis and the integrity of the nation were paramount, we wouldn't have blithely watched Baghdad circle the drain for the past 2 years.

Posted by: pat | Mar 9 2007 4:35 utc | 38


hmmm. whose country is iraq? help me to understand. badr, sadr, aq, or ...?

lemme know.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 9 2007 4:35 utc | 39

Will there be sectarian turmoil in the absence of jack-booted American enforcers? Of course there will be. The jack-booted American enforcers have done everything they can to polarise and instigate Sunni/Shia clashes...

Does that mean the US should stay there and continue to create further resentments and divisiveness? Who's footing the bill, because it seems like some armchair generals in their comfortable cyberspaces are being pretty cavalier about physically hemorrhaging Iraqis and fiscally hemorraging US taxpayers. How sustainable do you think this is for anyone...? Or are you just married to the idea of walking around with an arrow sticking out of your face because pulling it out could potentially mean the wound might get infected and hurt? Cowards may "cut and run", but only complete, slobbering idiots don't know when to cut their losses.

None of these grandiose diagnoses make any sense... militarily or politically... Pelosi wants a withdrawal, but by the Fall of '08 so the Republicans can claim it as a "victory". Are the Dems officially even a separate party anymore?

Posted by: Monolycus | Mar 9 2007 4:38 utc | 40

"reality bites."

Posted by: slothrop

It's not reality you are predicting, it is speculation.

"by this point, the view something better will happen if the u.s. leaves is delusional."

Posted by: slothrop

And the idea that something better will happen if the u.s. stays is far more delusional. It flies in the face of logic, common sense, history, and the trajectory of the last four years.

Posted by: Susan | Mar 9 2007 6:04 utc | 41

small coke: It is not ignorance, although there is plenty of that.

In Nazi Germany, they were living right next door to the object of their racism. In America, racism is ALIVE AND WELL.

And while most Americans did not know what an Arab was, or what a Muslim was, the elites sure did. And they are racist too.

Posted by: Susan | Mar 9 2007 6:08 utc | 42

I meant to add "on 9/11" to "And while most Americans did not know what an Arab was, or what a Muslim was.....on 9/11, the elites sure did."

Posted by: Susan | Mar 9 2007 6:19 utc | 43

"Will there be sectarian turmoil in the absence of jack-booted American enforcers? Of course there will be. The jack-booted American enforcers have done everything they can to polarise and instigate Sunni/Shia clashes..." Monolycus

and not just in Iraq either - they are busy working the entire region.

Posted by: Susan | Mar 9 2007 6:21 utc | 44

well, I think there are three ways to end an insurgency:


civil war


They won't even try bribery. No profits there.

Civil war is up and running, but not stopping the insurgency at all.

Next stop: genocide

And this week, the US forces were busy shelling and bombing civilian areas that they "liberated" four years ago. We likely have one million dead Iraqis (meaning that bush killed more Iraqis than Saddam), two million refugees in other countries, and another one to two million internally displaced.

In the US population that would mean:

10 million dead Americans

20 million refugees to Canada, Mexico, Central America.

10 to 20 million internally displaced people.

For reference, we had 2,000 dead and 400,000 internally displaced people from Katrina.

Now, imagine that the US had been "liberated" by the Chinese some four years back, and since then the violence has grown worse and worse and worse. A few KKK attacks on African-Americans (black ops by the Chinese? who knows?) really got the black-white race riots going - but the real violence is the Anglo-Hispanic fights.

yeap, we would need the Chinese (who don't speak hardly a word of English or Spanish) to stay around and help stop the potential upcoming war with Mexico and Central America.

All the while, of course, the Chinese have been sending arms and funding to groups in Mexico and Central America to further destabilize the region.

Two famous sayings from the Chinese invaders are "we don't do body counts" and "freedom is untidy".

But at least we got rid of the bush family with this invasion/war/occupation.

Posted by: Susan | Mar 9 2007 6:30 utc | 45

Let the surge proceed to the absolute ruin of our armed forces, one soldier at a time. And let Walter Reed Hospital exceed, in its size, budget and services rendered, the immensity of the Pentagon itself.

Posted by: alabama | Mar 9 2007 6:33 utc | 46

"& i want to be franker - that the racist nature of this empire saw the vietnamese as something less than human & they were perplexed that these people could defeat them"


We HAVE gotten our asses kicked. Twice now in living memory. By those believed to be a walk-over.

Posted by: pat | Mar 9 2007 6:47 utc | 47

@ Slothrop

This war of Bush/Cheney in Iraq is a totally unholy thing. I cannot understand your argument, which tastes like the cold and rancid porridge of American Exceptionalism. To say that more Iraqis will be killed in the long run if the US leaves, is an awfully damned convenient outcome for the Imperial Project. How many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis is it?--who have died already at the hands of the Neocons and the military-industrial-congressional complex?

You reproach r'giap and claim his argument requires "endlessly instant hypostatization of america as cause of every conceivable evil everywhere." No, that is really not really fair. And I think you are dead wrong when you follow by saying that US withdrawal will drive the conflict regional. It is precisely Bush's war, occupation, and open-ended aggression that is pushing the very real possibility of regional war.

It is true that there are few experiences as forlorn as that of a defeated army returning home. And it is my opinion Slothrop, that it is this essential fact of the defeat that you dread, more than what becomes of the Iraqi factions, after US troops leave.

You are not really willing to look at the character of the evil, which r'giap repeatedly calls to your attention. You have to be willing to look the national psychosis in the eye. If you can't see the flash of madness, the more than temporary madness of a rogue administration that believes that God is interested in America's pursuit of boodle and victory. This disaster is an open-ended genocidal process, set in motion by puerile guesswork, and utterly clueless with regard to ends and outcomes. This war in Iraq is not remotely the product of expertise, reason, or moral imperatives.

There is just a darkness now; and the longer we put off withdrawing American forces from Iraq, the more awful will be the outcome for ourselves and the Iraqis. The Iraqis may continue fighting one another, but there is no justification for the continued rape of their country by the occupying power.

Posted by: Copeland | Mar 9 2007 7:27 utc | 48

I'll say it again: Declare victory and go home.

Or we will not go home. This time.

We're good at 120.000, give or take, til 2010.

Posted by: pat | Mar 9 2007 8:01 utc | 49

Badger reports yesterday on:

A reporter for Al-Quds al-Arabi tried to track down details of the list of persons, including parliamentarians, named in arrest warrants either issued or to be issued. He says what is circulating among politicians is the idea that the list includes names of enemies of SCIRI among the Shiites, and names of persons in the Iraqi Accord Front, adding:

But a member of the Muslim Scholars Association Bashar al-Fayadi said from Amman there is also an arrest warrant naming him and a number of other members of that association, adding that a total of over 50 arrest warrants have recently been issued in Baghdad against politicians and tribal figures, and he urged the government to announce these publicly.
Rumors abound.
According to security sources, it is the American forces that are in control of the relevant documents, and of the raids and the arrests, maybe even without the knowledge of Prime Minister Maliki. And this perhaps explains recent statements issued by the office of parliamentary deputy Khalaf Alayan (Iraqi Accord Front), which said members of the IAF parliamentary delegation are thinking seriously about leaving Iraq or joining the Iraqi resistance, having become convinced that the Iraqi government is determined to drive all Sunni citizens out of Baghdad.
But the American forces continue to not publish the names of the wanted persons, and this could well lead to the collapse of parliament, because of the secrecy and the fostering of doubts [about the scope and details of the program of arrests].

And>other reports would indicate what everone knows from the Iranian activitism in Iraq:

`It's everywhere'

In Baghdad, Sunnis now see an Iranian hand in almost every decision the Iraqi government takes. The extremist group Al Qaeda in Iraq refers to Baghdad's Green Zone, where both the U.S. Embassy and the Iraqi government are based, as "the American-Persian-Zionist Zone."

"You can feel it. It's everywhere," said Mithal Alusi, a moderate Sunni parliamentarian, who cites his own personal encounter with Iran's methods as evidence of the reach of Iranian influence into Iraqi politics.

Across the predominantly Shiite south, where Iran's influence is most profoundly felt, the fall of Hussein's regime unleashed a surge of tourism, trade and religious exchanges across a border that had been off-limits to Shiites on both sides for decades.

In Najaf, Shiite Islam's holiest city, Iranian tour buses bring 1,200 pilgrims a day outside the gold-domed Imam Ali shrine, where a major, Iranian-funded renovation is under way. An Iranian delegation is in town to find ways of boosting that number to 5,000.

Local markets are flooded with Iranian products, "from bricks to socks," said one resident. Street vendors have hastily learned Persian in order to communicate with the tourists.
Indeed, the relationship between Iran and Iraq's Shiites is far more complicated than is portrayed by many in the region, said Joost Hiltermann of the Amman, Jordan, office of the International Crisis Group, who detects an element of hysteria in the direst warnings about Iranian expansionism.

Yet, although Iran's influence may sometimes be overstated, there is little likelihood of diminishing its links with Iraq's Shiite leaders as long as the schism persists between Sunnis and Shiites, said Nasr, the Shiite scholar who is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

"They're natural friends in the current environment," he said in a telephone interview. "As long as you have a Sunni-Shiite civil war, that's going to decide where loyalties lie."

What these two reports indicate is that the U.S. is intimately involved in the internal politics of the Iraqi government, issuing arrest warrents for elected officials -- without the knowedge of the Iraqi government. Arrests, that in all likelyhood will intensify both the failure of the elected government and the drift toward sectarianism and fragmentation of Iraqi society. The second report indicates the pervasive, mostly "soft power" aims of Iranian influence.

To make a long story short, the U.S. is now fighting an unequipped (and losing) war with Iran inside Iraq. Trying to defuse a natural inclination through manipulation and military might -- to in effect reverse the course of which they have put into motion.

What all this has to do with a neo-liberal notion of "preventing civil war" is just beyond me. Clearly it is agitating for civil war, if nothing else.

Posted by: anna missed | Mar 9 2007 10:20 utc | 50

When Bill Lind calls for "left-right grass roots alliance against the corrupt and incompetent center", you know there's something mighty queer going on in this world.

Steve Gilliard has said for at least a year that the fate of US presence in Iraq wasn't in US hands anymore. Things tend to show he and all who shared this opinion are quite right.
This of course also means that "US must stay there to prevent massacres" is pointless, because the US hasn't the troops to do this in the long run, and is just one car-bomb away from forced withdrawal due to a pissed off American public.

And of course, with close to 1 mio dead, it's not as if the US hasn't already caused mass butchery throughout the country.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Mar 9 2007 11:03 utc | 51

I agree fully with annie (18) and I suspect that the period of civil war and bloodletting will be worse the longer the US troops stays. Because they are trying the old divide and rule strategy. And while succeding with the dividing part, the ruling is not going well.

But Slothrop, I want to ask a question: What do you see as the alternative to leaving? Staying obviously, but for how long? And what do you see as the result in the long run?

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Mar 9 2007 14:27 utc | 52


it's probably much too late, but building trust might be possible by ending the neocolonial oil-grab and base-building. impeaching bush/cheney might also induce multilateral cooperation on iraq. above all else, israel must move back to the pre 1967 status-quo.

in any case, the civil war will undoubtedly explode w/out some kind of forceful mediation. this is certain. now, can anyone else "mediate"? certainly not iraq's "coregionalists." no way. only the u.s. now, presently owns not nearly sufficient force to delay apocalypse.

the u.s. cannot leave.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 9 2007 16:50 utc | 53

@38 They are, happily or not, helping to string the American public (or at least its Congressional leaders) along in bit pieces

It sounds like military leaders are not communicating their concerns and calculations even to Congress, many of whom sit on oversight committees. Is this based on specific info or informed hypothesis?

@49 We're good at 120.000, give or take, til 2010.
2010. That is specific. Sounds like you must have run the numbers. Is it assumed that levels of chaos and violence will be either steady or declining for that period?

Posted by: small coke | Mar 9 2007 17:26 utc | 54

Slothrop, i have no idea what should be done, but it's xUS elites that pit everyone against everyone else to their benefit. That's how they destroyed Yugoslavia. I watched w/bemusement the early months when it was peaceful & saw it as the worst thing that could befall them. Why do you think that Brit Special Forces were caught w/car packed w/explosives in drag as Arabs, but to foment sectarian conflict. They want to break up Iraq so resulting mini-states will be too small to be regional powerhouses, and need this conflict to rationalize it.

As for further bloodshed inevitably following withdrawal of US rapist-troops, that assumes S.A. couldn't broker a truce, if they wished. Since they just brokered several - all opposed by xUS - according to recent Pat Lang post, perhaps real fear of xUS Elites here is that xUS would not be needed to run things over in nowomansland.

Posted by: jj | Mar 9 2007 17:56 utc | 55

At the expense of sounding like a real cynic, I'd like to observe that insurgency and unrest in the Middle East is in Israel's best interest in that there's no single strong threat.

Iran's about the only country left that poses a serious threat, so they'll have to be dealt with evntually.

Israel never had the resources to create this mess using their own resources, but I suspect they've discovered that AIPAC money will buy what they want for cheap.

Let any candidate for Congress or President categorically state that they will accept no pro-Israel, pro-Arab or pro-Iran largesse and prove me wrong.

It's not about oil, really. Oil's quite fungible and it makes little difference where we get our supplies. Any country that's producing serves to increase the world supply and keep prices down.

Posted by: cpg | Mar 9 2007 18:28 utc | 56

anna missed 50, thanks for the added analysis

Posted by: annie | Mar 9 2007 19:01 utc | 57

slothrop- why in the world would you think that the U.S. can mediate the mess they made????

Saddam was a bastard, and that's how he kept Iraq together...his way or the highway, or rather Abu Ghraib. When the U.S. uses those tactics, they create more hatred for their presence, not some sort of mandate for a solution. They create more pressure for the leaders in places like Jordan that try to placate their religious populations and the U.S. -- so, in reality, the U.S. staying continues to destablize because their presence forces concessions or crack downs -- again, just what the U.S. does not need in order to form alliances that other nations' populations will support.

The U.S. is seen as (rightly) unduly prejudiced toward Israel. The U.S. doesn't even demand that Israel withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, tho taking land thru war is a war crime. this is the same group that is going to negotiate a "fix" for Iraq?

And please let me remind you that the same ppl who created this mess are continuing it. We need to get rid of the Bush junta in order to make the whole world a better place...a republican that isn't insane would be vastly better than a "democrat" who cannot say no to anything Israel demands.

As far as the U.S. being fucked either way...but worse if the U.S. leaves... Who is going to continue to fund this war? Who is going to fight this war? It is heresy to type these words because of ideas of appearing "weak" or whatever the hell else... but imagine if, instead of trying to overthrow or murder Chavez, the U.S. negotiated an oil deal?

what a novel treat other nations as tho they had the right to their own existence!

it doesn't seem like the U.S. can learn any lessons from its past -- the U.S. is like an abusive husband who insists he really, really loves his wife, oh, and if only she wouldn't be such a bitch...cause that's the only reason he beats her.

Posted by: fauxreal | Mar 9 2007 21:47 utc | 58

Things are as they are. And things will stay as they are, meaning no big changes.

The US is in Iraq ‘forever’. Surge or no surge or talk of withdrawal or whatever is just that, talk, shoddy numbers and shit stirring for the mainstream press. Posturing for the Dems and anyone who cares to join the circus.

This is not a war. It is an illegal occupation, neo-lib gangstas on the rampage saving a failing empire. The only aim is to ‘open’ up the country to oil exploitation, and to control the resources, in various ways.

(A second, subsidiary, aim is to defang the enemies the hysterical paranoid Israelis pretend to be subjected to, which keeps them in dollar / arms gifts.)

That aim is close to being accomplished.

Along the way, killing a lot of Iraqis, depriving them from even using one gallon of kerosene, is favorable. 27 million ppl there though, it will be hard slog. Sanctions were efficient, but not that fantastic, Saddam did a good job, and even UN officials balked. The food packages kept on coming, even if much of the rest went decrepit.

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 9 2007 22:22 utc | 59

i find it harder & harder to see what it is that slothrops sees

it is strange but there is a whole section of the ultraleft (in fact the old maoists) who are so hermetic in their understanding of other peoples that they support the u s occupation as the secondary threat & islamic fundamentalis/arab nationalism as the main enemy

what the do in fact is to turn both history & a constitutive reality on its head - from the comforts of their bookshelves they are prepared to bury the people of iraq in the bloodiest way imaginable (meanwhile using some quaint form of humanism to suggest that it isfor the iraqi people, in the same way that the new oil deal is forthe iraqi people, that the security measures are for the iraqi people, that the einsatzgruppen methodology of general petraeus are for

& that is a nonsense

what is being done in iraq & soon in iran is for the empire & for no other
it is in its interest that barbarity is being practiced & synthesised under the control of planiing directorates at both the pentagon & the state dept - for their friends at exxon

pat & alabama have both underlined what constitutes the reality for the mass of american people. that their armies are being defeated & that their sons & daughter are being sent home in parts

copeland, you have sd it more clearly than i am capable & i thank you for that - but i have got so angry at slothrop because even as café casuitry it is offensive & i am sure he know how deep that offense, marks

& i know fundamentally why our slothrop so insistently escapes from any form of specificity - it is because the so called defence against islamic fundamentalism (with all its ring of the christian war on judeo bolshevism of the nazis) & so called defence of the iraqi people from themselves - are happening at the same moment - that the oil deal is being done, that 95% of the war profiteering companies are centred in the united states

our slothrop escapes this specificity because he knows his argument is deeply, deeply flawed & is in & of itself a defence of empire

& doing away with dialectics altogether sloth will then go on the attack & accuse his critics of being defenders of this or that empire & it is as always an empty argument

copeland has pointed out the clear moral imperatives - which in the end are the only realistic alternatives

sloth you are like the judge who sentenced saddam hussein - who so loves the justice of his country - that he now lives in exile in england far away from the realities he has played his part in provoking

& that is it in the end - it is slothrops arguments that are barbarity hidden underthe guise of idealism & delusion dressed up as realpolitic

i am sure sloth & i agree on many things but the criminal occupation of iraq is something that will always seperate us

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 9 2007 22:29 utc | 60

people who believe in 'expansionism' also tend to believe in their 'exceptionalism'

and, amazingly enough, the 'exceptional' ones who think the US should stay in Iraq and continue to provoke the entire Middle East also refuse to accept that there is a genocide going on there - RIGHT NOW -

about 10-12% of the population of Iraq is either dead or displaced ..... and they claim it is not a genocide because the US is not doing it on purpose!

like we were going to drop bombs in the Atlantic, but got lost or something.......

Posted by: Susan | Mar 9 2007 23:15 utc | 61


welcome & thank you.

moral superiority by itself would not be so frightening

its the need to assert it, running amok

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Mar 10 2007 2:22 utc | 62

I thought the consensus here was that it was best to ignore trolls. So why does every idiotic statement from "slothrop" get so many considered responses?

also, dan of steele: fuck off.

Given the above comment, I guess the protocol of eschewing ad hominems is off the table.

Of all the posters here, the vomit of this pimple-faced, hey I'm really clever (honest injun) smart-arse schmuck "slothrop" is the only thing that really annoys me on MoA.

I will of course, endeavour to ignore him, but I really, really, wish that he would just fuck off.

Posted by: DM | Mar 10 2007 2:28 utc | 63


as i say, if it were true the u.s. causes the civil war, then you'd be right in your criticism about me. I agree w/ faux the u.s. has manipulated this tension, as have previous regimes in iraq. (really, one might say, in a kind of hegelian way, these forms of confrontation are foundational to culture itself, but that is another story). but, it is plainly untrue the viral hatred between sects is the fault of u.s. the animus has a deep history--is plainly historically developed and complex, as all social relations are. I find it shocking you retain the view the civil war will unwind like an old clock, and the beligerents will drop weapons and reconcile the cause of their mutual animus to be "america." hooka-hits all around! who knew the abstraction of "yankee" could drive so many to murder so many more of their own kind? strange insurgency indeed.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 10 2007 3:43 utc | 64

it is plainly untrue the viral hatred between sects

if i slice and dice i can find truth in your words sloth

Posted by: | Mar 10 2007 4:03 utc | 65


please send me your newsletter apprising me of the thoughts permitted by your subconscious for your general attention.

things not permitted:

a) "you must not sleep w/ mum"
b) the queen of england's asshole smells like cherrytart
c) robert franklin zenon geldoff is a statesman 1st, rocker 2nd
d) the u.s. did not lose the boer wars or gallipoli to the turks

seal it w/ a kiiiiiissss.>for you, dm.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 10 2007 4:07 utc | 66

christ! apologies. that's sir robert geldoff. damn. not cool to space the quality of a great man's peerage.

i'm a goddamned troll. i rather preferred "unshared electron in unmiverse of being"

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 10 2007 4:23 utc | 67

christ! apologies. that's sir robert geldoff. damn. not cool to space the quality of a great man's peerage.

i'm a goddamned troll. i rather preferred "unshared electron in unmiverse of being"

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 10 2007 4:24 utc | 68

all it's gonna take is a big terrisht attack on bonn, liverpool, paris, etc. and poof! there goes your euro-libertine-leftist america-causes-everything-bad ripostes.

the rightwing assholes own the narrative of 21st century history. i'm merely acknowledging this fact.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 10 2007 5:03 utc | 69

"but, it is plainly untrue the viral hatred between sects is the fault of u.s. the animus has a deep history--is plainly historically developed and complex, as all social relations are."

so, care to explain, back in the massive looting days, where chaos ran wild - there was no sign of sectarian violence in Iraq?

why is that?

Posted by: Susan | Mar 10 2007 6:10 utc | 70


juesus. any generic history will explain this history. read juan coles book, f.ex.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 10 2007 6:18 utc | 71

Ever get the feeling that we're talking past one another?

Posted by: Monolycus | Mar 10 2007 7:11 utc | 72

rgiap: ”i am sure sloth & i agree on many things but the criminal occupation of iraq is something that will always separate us”

My friend rgiap, although we may approach the problems of peoples from different perspectives, our agreement on the criminal occupation of Iraq unites us. And I see similar concerns regarding so many other political/criminal injustices we find in this world. The U.S. had no justification to invade and occupy Iraq and it certainly has no moral authority to continue. The U.S. needs to leave entirely and it can’t do so quickly enough.

Very interesting discussion here, and I thank again all the MOA posters for their various perspectives. I wish I had some insight as to what the U.S. administration believes it can yet accomplish in Iraq. I don’t. With no first hand knowledge of the situation from either perspective, I can only conjecture from distorted news. However, I believe, like many posters here, that the American occupation of Iraq is a direct and a continuing cause of the internal/civil war. After all, why wouldn’t the Sunnis go after the Shiites who collaborate with the U.S. for their power, not just political, but who is first at the tit of U.S. dollars? One wonders how an average Iraqi can survive right now in such chaos, especially without some direct or indirect aid from the outside, whether U.S., Iranian or whatever. Is the U.S. so afraid that Iran will completely fill such a vacuum? Probably that scenario is foremost in the U.S. Administration’s mindset.

Although Iran is definitely the nation state winner so far, I wonder if we need to take with a grain of salt the quotes by Iraqi Sunni leaders who may wish to exaggerate Iranian influence in Iraqi governance at this time (anna-missed -post 18 ). Without a doubt, the Iraqi people and the U.S. as a nation state are the losers, but this Iraq fiasco has not been a loser for so many U.S. elites, more specifically described as Bush’s political base. My dream is that those U.S. & Coalition government leaders, global corporate directors, and even individuals involved directly in pursuing this Iraq War should all be indicted for war crimes and restoration fees. This is not collective guilt upon a people; this would be specific individuals standing trial. The trials could last for decades. Let the criminals who invaded Iraq defend themselves openly before the world. Just a dream, that’s all it is.

Posted by: Rick | Mar 10 2007 9:48 utc | 73


If you believe the "viral hate between sects [...] is historical and complex" then the argument that the U.S. must stay -- is necessarily grounded in the assumption that sectarian conflict in Iraq is inevitable under any political circumstance that may allow it to flourish. So what you are advocating (or observing, this is not really clear), with respect to the recent history of Iraq, is a return to authoritarian rule a la Saddam or perhaps British colonial rule that kept the lid on the a priori inclinations amongst the natives. Obviously, this is nothing more than an antiquated colonial "white mans burden" argument redux. I dont think anyone here understands why you continue to float such arguments. Because first, they are a profound insult to the Iraqi people, as being uncapable of sorting out their own differences -- minus the perpetual meddling in their own internal affairs. Secondly, it presumes that lacking such perpetual meddling, the Iraqis are somehow predestined to slide helplessly back into their primitive historical bloodlust against each other. And thirdly, it presumes that the temporal jist of history is inevitably aimed on a westernized liberal trajectory.

Posted by: anna missed | Mar 10 2007 9:55 utc | 74

Susan- do you think that the sectarian animosity between Sunni and Shia has been created by the U.S. occupation?

Like Hutus and Tutsis, the colonial division of Iraq included choosing the minority as the group to favor in the exercise of power over the majority...and this history also informs current tensions. Looking at the history of protestant and catholic fighting in europe, the minority group eventually becomes marginalized by immigration or dilution of influence when people decide to stop killing one another...and then the majority group became a sort of backdrop when secular or scientific materialism could make claims based upon something other than "because my god said so."

The imperial strategy of favoring the minority because they are indebted to the colonizers, or favoring the enemy of your enemy doesn't have long term good prospects for the nation doing the favoring, it seems to me. France got into terrible debt by fighting England in proxy wars, including the american colonies...and that debt was the impetus for the French revolution.

slothrop- I would agree the rightwing assholes "own" the narrative....because they created it. Widespread knowledge could change this, however...truth about the influence of "Gehlen Org", etc. in fomenting fears of soviet influence in American consciousness...same with the Cuban rightwingers in the U.S. and Castro. Testimony of ex-CIA employees into the ways the CIA lied to the American ppl about other nations' danger to the U.S. -- Operation Gladio, as someone brought up again here recently...

In other words, they own the narrative because they control the flow of information to the wider population and the money to fund their nutcase black ops. This is true for the fundamenatalist muslims, as well, in places like Saudi Arabia --with the House of Saud/Wahabbist power-sharing agreement. In other words, I don't think the right wing muslim fundies have much power w/o the U.S. to serve as a foil -- their power stems from their ability to org. a response to colonialism. Same with the power brokers in the U.S. - the rightwingers need each other to keep people stupid and afraid and up in arms.

Not to say that a totalitarian left can't and didn't do the same thing... I suppose my view of the "left" is limited because I have an idea of "liberal" in both the classic "individual" sense and the recent incarnation as a force for more universal equality, education, health care and quality of life.

Posted by: fauxreal | Mar 10 2007 12:17 utc | 75

the colonial division of Iraq included choosing the minority as the group to favor in the exercise of power over the majority.

Of the 52 most wanted Iraqis, i.e. Saddam functionaries (the cardgame), 32 were Shia.

This minority or majority stuff was mostly irrelevant - at least in Iraqs political and business elite - until the U.S. tool over and started a divide and conquer strategy. Blowing up the Samarra shirne was a high professional job - it took several hours to prepare the demolition - not some crude AlQaida offshot exploding a ton of dynamite, but holes drilled into the dome and calculated loads.

Posted by: b | Mar 10 2007 13:20 utc | 76

"...a divide and conquer strategy..."

Maybe as Iraq is a training field for terrorists, it is also the proving ground for division and conquest here in the u.s. as well. After all we're not so united. What is the next "reality"?

Great thread.

Posted by: beq | Mar 10 2007 15:36 utc | 77

insult to the Iraqi people, as being uncapable of sorting out their own differences

one truck bomb at a time.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 10 2007 15:37 utc | 78

b- the business and political elite ignored the schisms and united over time, but this was not always the case, from what I know. I think the following describes some of the division-

[After the Turkish Ottoman's favored Sunni control over centuries--] In the settlement after World War I, [Great Britain] handed the newly created states of Iraq and Bahrain, both with Shi'ite majorities, to Sunni monarchs.

When Saddam Hussein assumed power [via U.S. assistance] in Baghdad in 1979, Iraq's Shi'ites had enjoyed a couple of decades of respite under leaders who allowed them some measure of equality with the Sunnis. Then came Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini's 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. Fearing a similar uprising in Iraq, Saddam revived some old repressions and ordered the murder of Iraq's most popular ayatullah, Mohammed Bakr al-Sadr, uncle of Muqtada. Shi'ites made up a majority of those killed in Iraq's war with Iran, which lasted from 1980 to 1988, but after it ended they were once again shut out of most senior government and military positions. [This does not go with what you said, unless it is a matter of historical parsing]

...With the defeat of Saddam's army in the 1991 Gulf War, Shi'ites saw a chance to rise against the dictator. But they received no protection from the allied forces, and Saddam was able to smash the revolt. By some estimates, more than 300,000 Shi'ites were killed; many were buried in mass graves. For the rest of his reign, Saddam kept the Shi'ites firmly under his thumb. Several popular clerics were killed, including Muqtada's father. Saddam ordered the murder of Sunnis too, but there was a crucial difference. "When Saddam killed a Sunni, it was personal--because of something that person had done," says author Nasr. "But when it came to killing Shi'ites, he was indiscriminate. He didn't need a specific reason. Their being Shi'ite was enough."

...this scenario also explains the theater of the Saddam execution, beyond the U.S. making sure it was possible, and getting the images spread around the world...

anyway, what I was trying to get at was that the foundations of the schism are not recent, and that tradition is what makes it possible for them to be used by whomever at this time...and there are grudges.

Saddam had started to make concessions to the Shi'a during his rule under the sanctions, as well, because the Shi'a were gaining power. (and I say this not as "shia v sunni" really but as Saddam secular vs tribal religious...which seems to be where power has shifted in many areas, again because existing orgs have the power to organize...) So Saddam, for instance, became more lenient about punishment for honor killings of young women... However, since he was overthrown, honor killings have increased (as have other instances of female repression as Riverbend has noted in situations like wearing the hijab). Code Pink compared the Jordan, with 20 honor killings, to Iraq, with 2000 last year. Quite a difference. Honor killings are not "legal" according to the Koran, but they are "necessary" according to fundamentalist tradition. We see the same sort of thing in the U.S. with christian fundies who distort their religion.

maybe the distinction should be secular vs religious, since secularism favors the demographics of equality. Saddam, like those in his govt, were sectarian or otherwise religious in name only.

Posted by: fauxreal | Mar 10 2007 17:16 utc | 79

and maybe uncle scam already has something about this in his x files, but thinking about Gehlen Org. and recently watching a video on google again about Frank Olsen's "suicide," (which is sort of alluded to in The Good Shepherd movie from last year) -- the documentary says that Olsen was getting out of the CIA after he was in Berlin at the end of the Korean conflict...when American pows who had spoken out about using bio weapons there were released and then, seemingly, tortured and interrogated again so that they could recant.

The idea of the west german intel being led by the ex-nazi gehlen torturing russians and germans and americans in order to justify his usefulness and further crimes against humanity by western allies into the 1970s (with assistance from Rumsfeld and Cheney....hey, haven't I seen those names before....) -- it's enough to make you weep for humanity who has to suffer the consequences of anyone's will to power.

Posted by: fauxreal | Mar 10 2007 17:27 utc | 80

The myth of primitivism and irrepressible sectarian strife has been used over and over again in history.

In the case of Iraq, I believe the provocations were endless, and surprisingly ineffective for a long time to those carrying them out. Iraqis held out, did not capitulate to easy hate, partly because of naivety, (hope for positive change, see Raed for ex.), sincerity, love for their fellows, Muslim-cum-secular backgrounds (hope that is comprehensible), and their experience, turned into a tradition, of ‘making do’ in adversity, holding on to what is precious and necessary.

Saddam’s dictatorship, the war with Iran, the sanctions, equipped them to hold fast. It took incessant ‘terrorist’ bombing, raids, criminal acts, kidnapping, shooting of ordinary, or ‘key,’ or educated, people, random imprisonment etc. to break that society. Follows on: the closed clinics, the disease from dirty water, the cut down trees, the dying agriculture, closed schools, the two-hour electricity, the food gone, semi starvation for some, and unemployment for a large section. And the throwing of people into an arbitrary hell, where no laws can be appealed to, no authority exists.

Iraq doesn’t even have traffic laws or dentists anymore.

My vision.

I doubt the history will ever be written decently. Not in my lifetime anyway. I know it in my heart, that will have to be enough.

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 10 2007 17:31 utc | 81

noirette- what is mythical about the wars between catholics and protestants in europe? or between the Hutus and the Tutsis? Or between the Sunnis and Shi'a -- at the very least since the formation of the Ottoman Empire in Turkey and their Sunni priviledges. --Great Britain just continued what the Muslim Ottomans were already doing, in other words.

Isn't it a form of myth to claim that no agency other than the U.S. has any power or will to the same? Doesn't it denigrate others to claim they are so weak they cannot do anything unless compelled to do so by some outside agency?

Doesn't it diminish the groups that are part of history to say that any mention of them in relation to power creates the label of "primitive?" I don't see any mention of primitive in relation to sectarianism. Sectarianism exists across nations and parts of the world.

And as far as Iraqi society "holding fast" --before Saddam's fall, the Shi'a were not supported in their uprising and were slaughtered... how were they "holding fast?"

after Saddam's fall... does that include the immediate looting of the musuems and looting of nuclear waste areas in Tikrit (not for the waste, which was dumped on site btw, but for the barrels, sadly enough.)

Really, the creation of "saint everyone else" who is not the U.S. is just as much bullshit as the claims that the U.S. is acting in the interests of anyone else.

It's the same problem that the victorians, etc. had with putting women on a pedestal, saying they were the agency for good in the world, and therefore could not have any power or the vote or in any way determine their own actions. It's a pretty story, but not anywhere near the truth, since women murdered and coveted and were just as selfish and abusive in their use of power as men when occasion and motive allowed.

Posted by: fauxreal | Mar 10 2007 17:49 utc | 82

Lot of truth in that vision.

Posted by: anna missed | Mar 10 2007 18:04 utc | 83

The myth of primitivism and irrepressible sectarian strife has been used over and over again in history. (noirette) - just go to b real's excellent postings on africa for further examples.

Isn't it a form of myth to claim that no agency other than the U.S. has any power or will to the same? Doesn't it denigrate others to claim they are so weak they cannot do anything unless compelled to do so by some outside agency? (fauxreal) - fauxreal, imho, this seems to be an oversimplification of the situation. it ignores the possible roles that syria, iran, saudi arabia, etc. play. civilization existed in the middle east long before the u.s., so, no, i do not think that those who blame the u.s. for its interference and destructiveness are denigrating the iraqis. it seems to me that we went there to cause exactly what has happened - chaos and internecine strife - solely to benefit the oil and defense industries in the u.s. and fuck the rest of the world (and most of the u.s. with it). we have had absolutely no respect for human life, civilization, autonomy of nations - that to me is to denigrate others.

i agree with noirette, it was amazing to me to see how long the iraqis held fast before collapsing into civil war and it is a tribute to their humanity that they did. i have read and personally been told too many times that sunnis and shia lived next to each other peacefully prior to the invasion. to say this is not to paint saddam as a great leader, but to look at human nature. someone on this thread (i think) presented a hypothetical situation where the chinese occupied the u.s. and managed, through similar actions as the u.s., to create inter-ethnic conflict between latinos and caucasians which would in turn erupt into war with mexico and south america. all easily imaginable. through history when populations have suffered hardship which reduces them to survival levels they turn to tribal allegiances and infighting to survive. and i believe by destroying iraq that is what the u.s. has lead its "coalition" to do. if i and others repeatedly refer to the u.s., i do not for a moment believe that absolves the brits and others of their role in this.

Posted by: conchita | Mar 10 2007 19:47 utc | 84

conchita- what I said confirms rather than denies what you said -- that the middle east had a great civilization before U.S. interference. I don't see how my comment could be construed as implying otherwise.

I have said on this thread repeatedly that I think the U.S. wanted and wants the chaos, so again I do not understand how my comments in any way make any other claim.

I didn't think anyone was denigrating the Iraqis. this issue was using the loaded term "primitivism" when someone mentions pre-existing tensions in relation to current situations. does anyone deny that Saddam kept Iraq together by use of force? Ask some Kurds, maybe? In other words, I did not use the issue of "primitivism" to discuss Iraqi culture. Noirette did, in relation to anyone else discussing any internal tensions, and my remark was that those tensions did exist among religious groups...fundie groups, basically who organize around religion as a way to create resistance...not those who were secular-oriented Iraqis of whatever religious faith.

so, yes, Shi'a and Sunnis lived together, intermarried, etc. a secular nation, primarily, albeit a secular nation that was enforced by the Bathists.

so I suppose I don't see what you are defending when my entire post regarding noirette's was in relation to the loaded term primitive, which was not used by me, but is a way to denigrate an idea without having to actually address the idea.

and, again, the religious groups that opposed Saddam were marginalized initially when the U.S. invaded because the narrative was "supposed to" be the greetings with flowers and the installation of the puppet, Chalabi. but again, I repeat that the issue of civil war was something that a broad sector of analysts predicted before the fact... it is a joke to think that Iran has no vested interest in Iraq's leadership since the two have been competing powers as well, and they have been divided along religious factional lines.

but no matter. let the power of truth in a vision reign, and facts that did not generate from the U.S. be damned.

now back to my life and back to the regularly scheduled programming here.

Posted by: fauxreal | Mar 10 2007 20:07 utc | 85

faux, yes, but I guess it all depends.

Hutus and Tutsis were an example of manipulated killlings.

Catholics and Protestants in Europe are still fighting where I live, but in the press and in the urns.

On the streets, in a way, too. Catholics are not allowed to Parade; Protestants do it under other labels, fund drives for charity, for ex.

In Ireland, the now deathly label of terrorism, in an OECD country, the association with savages is putting a stop to it. Though recent consequent allocations of EU money to Belfast and even the long standing efforts of Tony Blair may be playing a role. Not to neglect all the forces that drive for ‘peace’.

So there are different sects, categories, different religious/ethnic/social communities, different historical situations.

Denying their import is dumb. Exploiting them is criminal. Where to draw the line?

Is it ‘nature’, just the way people are and live; or is it machiavellian meddling, cynical exploitation for proxy killing? For Iraq, my mind is made up.

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 10 2007 20:18 utc | 86

Related point. Having a border with a failed state, with millions of refugees and presssure from the poor / suffering, not to mention smuggling, killing, spreading war, infiltration by the ‘sects’ fighting, and so on, creates a vacuum that the neighbors will enter, through self protection and concern, hope for control and some kind of ‘positive’ influence; other incursions will be criminal, or manipulatory, or just commercially profitable.

If the US has let itself open to forays by Iran, Syria, Jordan in another way, it is their own fault, or own design. Booted Bremer promulgated an ‘open border' policy. No import tax, a wild west, freedom for all....

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 10 2007 20:56 utc | 87

like all doomed enterprises of the mpire this century & the last - this enterprise is condemned

but at the cost of a half million iraqis ready that number will increase, horrifyingly

& the horror behind what slothrop is saying - is the u s empire must kill more iraquis to save iraq - to save the village you must destroy it

the destruction of their culture which is also our own is almost at an irrevocable point, a point of no return

& while the empire endlessly sends bullets into the bodies of the people of iraq - it has not sent one book to their schools, not one

the hatred of the people of the middle east is unbearable to witness & witness i do even here in france - where more is done than mr slothrop would like to imagine - but if i am to see the arab people represented in the culture of the occident it is always, always as an object of hate

& while slothrop will suggest that no such hatred informs his discourse - i would tell him - that the base the very base of his discourse is constructed in a hatred of the people of the middle east

& i am tried that the murder, the cold blooded murder of these people can be charecterised in the discourses that friend slothrop makes

& the soul of the arab people is & will remain the palestinian people

so while the israel has transformed itself into the 'master race' - with all the contingent policies of such a race - it strikes at the heart of the arab nation & destroys any bridge that could be built

for capital, the people have only ever been a projection, or a source of profit

it is laughable to hear bush speak in latin america, to speak of a people that the united states has done its very best to completely corrupt & destroy - speaking of their human rights for the first time while his mouth drips only blood & oil

the empire has never been interested them as skin or as bone or as souls - they are not even the slightest part interested in their human rights at all - no if he could have his way he would want it to return to the good old days of somoza, of the vicious videla, of stroessner, of pinochet

on sept 11 2001 there was not one thought of the the at least 30,000 murdered in chile on sept 11 1973 - & the truth is the empire is also unconcerned with its own victims as has been made abundantly clear at walter reid hospital - the victims of sept 11 are just publicity for the illegal wars of terror & the soldiers that fight that war - tho they also become perpetrators - are left to rot in their own shit & piss - once their usefulness has finished

this night i will read from the poems of adonis & darwich for they speak through the sense of sane that the truthless empire of the u s tries to eliminate

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 10 2007 21:47 utc | 88

Susan- do you think that the sectarian animosity between Sunni and Shia has been created by the U.S. occupation?


And frankly, I think al Qaeda is doing exactly the same in Iraq.

And a lot of criminals also are promoting this animosity.

And I think if the US citizens, or citizens of any country were put through what the Iraqis would put through - they would act the same - or worse.

Posted by: Susan | Mar 10 2007 22:36 utc | 89

fauxreal, my sincere apologies if i misread your post. it has been a long week of disappointments and chances are it has colored how i see things, but i thought perhaps sloth had slipped you a mickey. i am very sorry for misconstruing your point.

Posted by: conchita | Mar 10 2007 22:48 utc | 90

i recommend faux's #75 cia video and uncle's alive in baghdad site.

Posted by: annie | Mar 10 2007 23:53 utc | 91

powerful awesome TIMZ video

Posted by: annie | Mar 11 2007 0:19 utc | 92

For Iraq, my mind is made up.

yes. one can believe anything one prefers, can't one?

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 11 2007 0:27 utc | 93

I'll just say, for the record, the "belief" the civil war is the product of u.s. machination demonstrates an embarrassing ignorance of the history of the region.

that's for sure.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 11 2007 0:36 utc | 94


we are so morally superior, we would never ever machinate a civil war between brown peoples for our own advantage.

why would anyone even think this ? Afterall, we only want the best for the coloreds. Damn, they just do'nt get it. But we really ca'nt let em keep doing things their way. Theres way too much at stake. We're going to have to make this work or someone's going to get screwed. Can you hear me ?

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Mar 11 2007 1:25 utc | 95

I've just started Vali Nasr's The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future, which seems to again support my views. it's not my fault the history says this. you live, you learn. you know?

i'd be happy as anyone here to see the u.s. ass kicked out of the m.e. and africa for that matter, by a secular panarab configuration. well, that's not gonna happen anytime soon. in the meantime, the sectarian conflict threatens the entire region with holocaustal total war. my feeling is that the u.s. and "the west" better do what it can to avert this. and "leaving" iraq is no answer. much too late for that.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 11 2007 1:49 utc | 96

also, as i've said before, this overweening pity offered by comrades here for arabs and others as oppressed persons so easily manipulated by "the west" that they mistake the oppressor for their own brother seems to me like a chauvinism, an "orientalism." the civil war occurs for many reasons other than the pragmatic manipulation of the u.s. occupation. give the people there more respect. there are concrete, validly historical reasons why the civil war occurs.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 11 2007 2:00 utc | 97

& while slothrop will suggest that no such hatred informs his discourse - i would tell him - that the base the very base of his discourse is constructed in a hatred of the people of the middle east

'Discourse' might be putting too a fine a word on it.

Listen, slothrop, you little shit, 'animus has a deep history' is true of all peoples in all times. But this crap you are pushing about (an) "unmitigated disaster if [the] u.s. pulls out" is stupid (and probably racist as r'giap suggests).

You would like to prognosticate that this is what would happen?

How very convenient. It allows the US a justification for "staying the course” on the "high moral ground" (excuse me while I spew) that it would be bad for the Iraqi people if they left.

Are you serious?

Are you for one minute, trying to suggest that America gives a shit about what would happen to ordinary Iraqis when the US leaves?

Maybe you would like to take a straw poll among Iraqis. I'm sure, carnage or no carnage, that there would be a pretty resounding answer to where Americans can put their purple finger.

juesus. any generic history will explain this history. read juan coles book, f.ex.

Slothrop, this is a pathetic response. Typical, but pathetic nevertheless. Perhaps you should try to understand what you read, and the world around you, rather than your persistent feeble attempts to regurgitate Hegel etc al.

Posted by: DM | Mar 11 2007 2:49 utc | 98

America gives a shit about what would happen to ordinary Iraqis when the US leaves?

well, you got that right. i'll mark it down in my "dm's little book of verities." i hope to collect enough of your apothegms as victuals to distribute to hungry virtual pilgrims perambulating cyberspace in search of the devil "america."

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 11 2007 3:10 utc | 99

Unlike you, slothrop, I like America.

I love the country. The people are people like people everywhere and anywhere.

Imperial America is something else altogether, is it not. Your support for America's continued presence in Iraq could be construed as a lust for power rather than a love of country.

Posted by: DM | Mar 11 2007 3:24 utc | 100

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