Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 13, 2007

All Quiet on the Iraq Front

I haven't written much about the War on Iraq recently. The very reason is that there isn't much happening to write about. Of course the killing goes on - without making headlines. Resistance bombs blowing up in this or that part of Iraq, dead people turning up every day. Sunni on Shia violence, Sunni on Sunni, Shia on Shia, the U.S. on everyone ...

But there is no process. Peter Beinart has been lambasted for asserting that Iraq will not matter in the 2008 election. If everything stays the way that it is now, he is right. Today Iraq still matters in the polls, but eleven month from now?

One cannot follow the daily barrage of death and carnage with analysis. There are some subtle movements of this or that tribal coalition and Badger thankfully tries to follow those. But do they really matter?

In the U.S. nothing is happening either. The Democrats will give Bush all the money he wants to further wage war and will not attach even one tiny string to it. In their logic, they would be weak if they don't give in to Bush's demands.

Something big needs to happen and will. If a trend can not go on forever, at some point, it will stop. The longer the now perceived calm continues, the bigger will be the outbrake from the trend, or rather the suprise about the divergence.

As Patrick Cockburn explains, Nothing is Resolved in Iraq

Power is wholly fragmented. The Americans will discover, as the British learned to their cost in Basra, that they have few permanent allies in Iraq. It has become a land of warlords in which fragile ceasefires might last for months and might equally collapse tomorrow.

A new generation of fighters is coming to age. The girls and boys that were 13 or 14 when the U.S. invaded, are now grown ups. They don't remember Saddam, only the GIs that broke their homes door and shamed their fathers.

The treacherous perceived quietness might last for months or blow up tomorrow. Beinart is right, if everything stays the way it is now. Given his prediction record, we can be sure that it will not do so.

Posted by b on December 13, 2007 at 03:27 PM | Permalink


it isn't quiet. we are just told it is quiet. by people who want to believe it is quiet. that their sordid surges are a success. the contrary is the truth

i would remind others that beofre the tet offensive it was as 'quiet' - the resistance's force is implacable. the defeat of the empire irrevocable

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 13, 2007 4:56:58 PM | 1

It is true that Iraq is mildly quieter. Little details you read about suggest that - I am not talking about the pro-surge propaganda.

But none of that really makes any difference, because, even if Iraq is somewhat quieter, it is impossible for the US to draw down the numbers of troops in any significant way. They talk about draw-down, but they mean back to pre-surge levels, not down to the 30,000 the Pentagon would like. If an extensive draw-down took place, war would just re-ignite: strong majorities of all Iraqis except the Kurds want the US out.

So on the one hand, the financial cost of the Iraq war will remain approximately on the same level, preventing the reallocation of resources elsewhere. And secondly US troops are continuing to exhaust themselves (even if they are not dying in the same numbers), getting more tired with over-long combat missions. So the factors which annoy the American voter remain strong - a year away the current propaganda will no longer be effective.

At present you can't say that Iraq will lose its effect on the voter in a year's time - intervening events will change the situation out of recognition: as they say, a week is a long time in politics.

Posted by: Alex | Dec 13, 2007 5:22:48 PM | 2

On those "subtle movements of this or that tribal coalition", I presume you are referring to the emerging polarization of Shiite tribes in the South and Center, something that appears to be linked quite closely to the federalism issue and to US support for the SIIC side in that. "Does it really matter?" Yes! Really. A region with neutral tribes is one thing, and a region with tribes polarized on this issue is quite another. Personally I don't mind writing stuff people don't read, but still I will permit myself to say this: it is quite discouraging to see interest on the left in what the US is doing there ebb and flow with the level of blood and gore.

Posted by: Badger | Dec 13, 2007 6:19:33 PM | 3

i always read you badger, you are on my tool bar. my interest in iraq does not ebb and flow. right now there is a huge concerted effort by the ptb to frame everything as 'better' and calmed down. i think it is the quiet before the storm. the situation is massively fucked as far as i'm concerned, and the iraqi blogs reflect this. the rhetoric on the right is totally jacked up right now.

Posted by: annie | Dec 13, 2007 6:51:49 PM | 4


what i think is well understood is that u s imperialism is carrying out in one guise or another - a war of anhilation. the ebb & flow of the blood of the people of iraq matters not at all to the majority of the american electorate. the middle east can become an ocean of blood & the american body politic will not move.

until it is touched in the pocketbook or it is touched in a way that includes the familial - as a draft would oblige - it does not care in the slightest for one drop of the blood of the people of iraq. it is of absolutley no concern

latin & central america was washed in the blood of their sons & daughters of their mothers & fathers - the soverignty of nations were treated like so much pocket change & the american electorate did less than nothing

because it is a benificiary - at least in the short term - of the slaughterhouse that is so mockingly called iraqi sovereignty

watching as much as my stomach could support of the 'debates' of the candidates of that poisoned office - the presidency - proves categorically the absence of interest in the blood of their own let alone of others with the exception of dennis & ron who are quite clearly mad as meataxes & they are the most humanist of that cruel crowd

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 13, 2007 7:19:00 PM | 5

annie and r'giap, just to be clear, what struck me today wasn't just b's remark but also remarks elsewhere today from people you expect to be on the progressive and alert side of things (H Cobban's JWN, and an academic blog called Crooked Timber), also saying in effect: Nothing happening in Iraq. Let's think nice thoughts. I thought it strange. Not just the ptb. Maybe it's the NIE that has served as a soporific?

Posted by: Badger | Dec 13, 2007 7:39:47 PM | 6

the media is so controlled - even here in france - which once had 2 or 3 real papers but now just has something that passes for it. it is clearest in times of war - the media exposes clearly in whose interests it serves - & it is evidently a clear practice to hide the continual crimes of the us occupation

i am more worried by these "quiet moments" because we know already that these are the moments when crimes such as abu ghraib were conceived & practiced

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 13, 2007 8:11:14 PM | 7

You seem to forget that Iraq is about suppressing the production of the lowest production cost crude oil on earth, one, and two about promoting perpetual war on
the terror of having to find a retail job for 100,000's of American DoD welfare
gaggers lodged in perpetuity in tax space, until their made-20-pension rollover.

You're just not reasoning, you're reacting, like the poor rape victim, when the
beating stops, hey, might as well let the show go on. Roll over and accept life.

If you want to understand the Federal defense welfare system, in your gut,
simply replace the word "of" for every "on" the Administration uses. Global War
on Terror, really? Global War OF Terror. War on Drugs? War OF (Prescription) Drugs.
War on Poverty? War OF (perpetual-social-welfare-for-the-wealthy) Poverty. Capiche?

Iraq is all paid off, all the mullahs, all the government corroborators, lining
their purses made of human scrotums. Iraq is Goombah Land now. Numbers runners.
Crimps. Gribbles. Perpetual welfare for the Defense elites, along with perpetual
non-production of cheap oil, which inflates stock returns, which enriches elites.
America has been conned into a PNAC version of Israel:Palestine by the Neo-Zi's.
40 years now, Israel's still at it. 2043, American's will still be dicking M.E.!

Different players, different flavors, same masa para pizza.

Sheesh. Kindergarten!

Meanwhile, ADM and ConAgra are busy turning your food, distilled essence of
60,000 years of aboriginal plant breeding, into GMO denatured and adulterated
bacterial jelly that will propagate like a pandemic across the earth, bringing
malnutrition, disease, species-transfer and then Norden's Ultimate Solution.

But by JHM Almighty, Michael Vick and Barry Bond's have got to do time!.

Posted by: Bambi Leightner | Dec 13, 2007 9:20:17 PM | 8

Seems that the Surge hs worked: it kicked up the noise level from Iraq to the point that it has become a background hum that we have learned to tune out.

We still hear the occasional quick report of another suicide bombing between news of the housing collapse and celebrity misbehavior, but it does not affect our higher consciousness.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Dec 14, 2007 2:03:56 AM | 9

Seems that the Surge hs worked: it kicked up the noise level from Iraq to the point that it has become a background hum that we have learned to tune out.

We still hear the occasional quick report of another suicide bombing between news of the housing collapse and celebrity misbehavior, but it does not affect our higher consciousness.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Dec 14, 2007 2:05:11 AM | 10

It's nice to see Badger commenting here (even if the comments reflect discontent). I too read "Missing Links" and thank Badger for the precious insights and translations offered there. (By the way, I'm curious about your choice of pen-name: I assume it has nothing to do with the "Badger State" and its university in Madison.)

Its certainly clear that the Republicans would prefer to highlight any issue other than Iraq. The complicity of most of the "serious" Democrat candidates in abetting this war of agression gives the Republicans some chance of getting their wish, but I agree with those who expect some
"unexpected" new problems for the U.S. in Iraq well before November 2008.
Meanwhile, serious discussion of the factors conditioning U.S. withdrawal or of reparations payments for Iraq will remain unmentionable.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 14, 2007 3:01:32 AM | 11

The U.S. has simply put its foot on a "bouncing Betty", you know the booby trap spring loaded mine that once you remove the pressure (your foot) it lofts up a grenade charge just high enough up to do the most damage. The rest of Iraq watching thinks mmmmm, they're not going anywhere soon, so why not latch on to that eight billion dollar a month teat for some refreshment if not rearmament. By the end of last year it was pretty clear that the U.S. strategy in Iraq was a failure - that in spite of its overwhelming firepower advantage it could not enforce either political or military security on the country, necessary to realize its neo-colonial objectives. To create the appearance (for domestic political purposes) of a reversal of fortunes they opted to essentially pay off their immediate enemies (& stepping on Betty in the process) while continuing to support their enemies, the DAWA and SIIC government. They're simply paying everyone off. And I think everyone in Iraq knows that real score - that the U.S. is stuck in place - and so are planning and building for the future. Which as r'giap reminds us of, may include pushing the U.S. off Betty before its quite ready. Because if my memory is correct, the Tet offensive in Vietnam (also) just so happened to cast another texas war president (and his party) into the dust heap of history, just when things looked like they were turning around. So if history is any instruction, look out.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 14, 2007 3:18:12 AM | 12

American culture has always had a fascination with gangsters, through its paradoxical prism of exceptionalist identity. In some ways its an extension of its sense of "individualism" that is equally absorbed between both "small government" conservatives, the liberal left, or even seen in the amazing longevity of ghetto inspired hip-hop culture. Ironically, those currently most upset over the failure of American willpower and collective identity with regards to Iraq, are those republican rightest most responsible for its death, post FDR. How they blame the liberals for hating America, now that the WWII collective identity sponsored by FDR has been obliterated by the reagan agenda of personal greed (is good). The liberal left itself is also responsible in its proclivity for the "enlightenment" values of individual choice over sacrifice (for the collective good), and the abhorrence of sectarianism of any sort. So whats lost, obviously on the American identity as a whole is any sympathy for cultural collectivism of any sort, be they Vietnamese, Iraqi, or any nationally inspired identity where ever. So the sympathy is never for "them".

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 14, 2007 4:22:49 AM | 13

I read you sometimes Badger. To me the quiet is horrific - it represents habituation, normalization. Iraq? What? Oh yes, the Americans are still there!

I don’t see the quiet as prelude to a storm of any kind. I see it as a state of affairs set to last.

Posted by: Tangerine | Dec 14, 2007 5:55:43 AM | 14

@Badger - 3 - Personally I don't mind writing stuff people don't read, but still I will permit myself to say this: it is quite discouraging to see interest on the left in what the US is doing there ebb and flow with the level of blood and gore.

1. I do read you daily
2. The interest seems to depend not on gore or blood, but on perceived ability to change things. People have given up?

Posted by: b | Dec 14, 2007 6:38:38 AM | 15

Pretty quiet on the "homeland" front too,

But the internal distruction continues.

Posted by: pb | Dec 14, 2007 12:32:05 PM | 16

The Iraq ‘war’ was decided on, allowed, supported by the Western powers. Though they pretty much refused to pay for it, contrary to Gulf War I.

They have followed through - Iraqis are non-people no matter where you look. The refugees, migrants or asylum seekers? Nobody takes them, (except neighboring countries who cannot keep it up), there are no (or almost no) plans, no actions, no protocol, no help. According to the Int’l community, Iraq is not in a war; it is not occupied; it has not been devastated; it is a normal country like any other.

Internally displaced persons? Well they might as well be moving to a new MacMansion, complete with empty swimming pool and dying date palms. (About 4 million internal and external displaced!)

Agriculture? Iraq is largely missing from FAO statistics, nobody knows, cares to look. Human rights? and women’s libbers? All gung ho to get rid of Saddam? And then...huh...nothing. Too sad they say, ethnic strife. Or like Amnesty international, they just publish vague statements outlining the fact they support an end to unlawful detentions! and care for the vulnerable! Health? Forget it.

Water, electricity? No thank you, security conditions don’t permit it.

Of course, NGOs, the UN, other humanitarians, are not themselves directly responsible, they can’t act or ‘give’ with any impact outside of political agreements, ie. they are lackeys.

Even Palestinians enjoy (sorry for the word) more visibility, because of the long standing nature of the conflict, history, and opposition to Israel. It hasn’t done them any good at all. Nada, zilch.

Posted by: Tangerine | Dec 14, 2007 12:50:12 PM | 17

as far as anhilation is concerned - others might think that i am being merely metaphoric; the facts of course tell the real story.

one of these facts is the country that was el salvador in the 80's to the present. here the death squads under the instruction & orders of american administrations liquidated the population. at first by massacres on a scale that were never told in the western media except when they concerned the murder of american nuns & priests. in john pilgers new film he has a small interview with one of the nuns who survived the rape & torture which was carried out on her by americans. she is very bitter - you feel that strongly & she speaks of the americans ignorance of abu ghraib as criminal because she says in a non rhetorical way the administration after administration systematised this torture & murder

the country itself possessed no sovereignty & was used effectively as a base against nicaragua though the oligarchy - the 40 families that run el salvador benefited from the massacre of their compatriots but it must be pointed out that the americans were the initiators of the massacres. it was the american administrations who sought to make muder a political & military strategy - the front for the liberation of el salvador was never in the same ball game

a million people escaped el salvador

there are many parallels with what is happening in iraq

& the most murderous practices were carried out in the quiet. with the whispers of a certain john negroponte who has become familiar to us all

arabs must know, persians must know - that they are the 'non-people' or worse - that their liquidation as a people is being used as the only way that can quiet the fear of the priveleged in the west. & if the resistance is not capable of delivering significant military & political defeats on the u s & its vassals then thehistory of the modern middle east will become as eduardo galeaono once spoke of latin america - as a history of loss. pysical oss on a scale theat the 20th century has made us only too familiar with

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 14, 2007 2:00:44 PM | 18

"Something big needs to happen and will. If a trend can not go on forever, at some point, it will stop. The longer the now perceived calm continues, the bigger will be the outbrake from the trend, or rather the suprise about the divergence."

I think B's post has two levels and meanings. On one side, he states that Iraq loses visibility in Western media, notably because the same routine of bombings, indiscriminate massacres and shootings, US crimes, and the like, goes on, with nothing immediately big happening.
On the other hand, I just quoted the telling bit. Particularly in guerrilla, partisan, resistance wars, it's when things seem to be quite quiet that things are really brewing underneath, and sooner or later a bigger push against the occupying forces will occur. Not necessarily something as big and definitive as Arminius defeating Varus or the Sicilian vespers, but still. Plans are made, board is being set, and when all is done, the pieces will move.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Dec 14, 2007 3:05:31 PM | 19

Well I have to admit I don't read badger's page - nothing personal just I don't go to many blogs outside of here.

Some time a couple of years, maybe longer, back, the fascination most blogs had with the process of war (ie what men and weapons were sent by what political boss, or who was in favour and who wasn't, or whether amerikans thought the war was good, bad or indifferent) rather than the outcome of war (lotsa people injured and dead, raped and tortured in their home country by a bunch of ill trained-savages from the other side of the world) had me wondering if the motive for study of the process was more about avoiding reality by studying the soap opera than confronting the reality of their nation's depravity.

The fact that most amerikans are 'changing the channel' now; ie now they have become bored by the sameness of the Iraq story, they are more interested in other 'news' kind of suggests it was just avoidance all along.

As Anna Missed, Remembering Giap and others have pointed out, this 'quiet time' is unlikely to last for long. Now that that Iranian Oil really has slipped from amerika's grasp into the paws of China the pressure will be on the Iraqi puppet government with the tangled strings to cede control of Iraqi oil to amerika.

Even Maliki the marionette has been unable to bring himself to sell his nation out that bad, but amerika will try and persuade the leaders of a nation at least 10 times older than their own, 10 times more experienced in distracting the eye from what the hand is really doing, that a few million dollars to be spent where directed now, in the short term, is a better deal than hanging out for long term control of a commodity that gives them power over the entire planet.

Good luck with that greedheads - I just don't see it happening. Especially not when one considers that understanding of the amerikan political process by Iraqi leaders (puppet and resistance) post invasion has always been far ahead of any amerikan leader's insight into the Iraqi political culture.

A well timed insurrection during the amerikan election campaign will take most bets off the table. That is why 'the enemy' (ie Iraqi patriots) are being paid off with money and arms. The dingbats imagine Iraqis can be bought off as easily as a Central American 'state' that has been around in current format all of 150 years and whose 'national identity' was largely a figment of spanish colonists' imagination.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 14, 2007 10:58:03 PM | 20

But rather than finding amusement in the doofus ability of the imperialists, amerikan citizens would be better served pondering exactly when it was that their society began valuing the welfare of dogs higher than the life of an Iraqi, who was fighting on 'their side'.

This week amerikans protested outside Michael Vick's trial where he copped 23 months in jail for his involvement in a dogfighting ring, yet there was no one demanding justice for the Iraqi soldier slaughtered by Marine Delano V. Holmes yesterday when Holmes had the book thrown at him - ie a bad-conduct discharge and reduced in rank to private - because "Holmes repeatedly stabbed Munther Jasem Muhammed Hassin on December 31, 2006." Repeatedly stabbed him to death but was convicted of negligent homicide?

amerikans can tune out their nations criminal behaviour towards Iraqis , Somalis, Cubans all they want, it makes no difference anyhow.

The lie that Vietnam was 'lost at home' that was pushed to conceal the truth - that the Vietnamese defeated amerika in the jungle, has now convinced people who should know better, that the outcome of amerika's war on Arabs can be decided on the streets of amerika. Iraq will be won by Iraqis in Iraq.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 14, 2007 11:01:16 PM | 21

One More Cruel Hoax: Iraqi Refugees Return
By John Ross
The entire article is a good read, but some highlights are snipped and pasted below:

The 1600 families who had reportedly returned daily during October were more like 50, a representative of the bus line chartered by the Maliki government to bring them home, told Cave. Once more, thousands were still fleeing Baghdad - more than were returning according to a bulletin issued by the Iraqi Red Crescent. Those on the run were mostly being forced into internal displacement - traffic between Baghdad and Damascus has been greatly diminished because the Syrian government is no longer issuing temporary visas to Iraqis seeking sanctuary. In fact, some of the would-be refugees being turned back at the border may have been counted into Moussawi's numbers.
The internally displaced are the most vulnerable. Herded into ragtag desert camps where violence and disease are epidemic, they face a harsh winter with little resource - UNHCR calculates that half the refugees are children. Some, having been refused residency by 11 out of Iraq's 18 provincial governments, have taken up Maliki's offer of a million dinars ($800 USD) and are returning to Baghdad but nowhere in the numbers that Maliki claims. According to the displacement ministry, only 4300 families, 25,000 Iraqis, have availed themselves of the stipend. UNHCR tallies indicate that 28,000 Iraqis, 3000 more than returned, left Baghdad in October.
Given the difficulties and disappointments of exile, some refugees have packed up and gone back - but they are driven by desperation rather than the false promises of improved security in Baghdad, one Iraqi activist in Amman affirms. An UNHCR survey of 110 Iraqis returning from Syria in October found that most were on the bus because they had run out of money or the stress of making a living had grown too onerous or simply because their visas had expired. "This is not the time to promote, organize, or encourage return," UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Paconis told a Damascus press conference. "There is no sign of large scale repatriation as the security situation remains volatile in many parts of Iraq."
The stories that Sasha Crow and Mary Madsen, the founders of the Pacific Northwest-based Collateral Repair Project, have been hearing as they trudge the sewage-strewn back streets of Amman, are heartbreaking. But despite the hardships they face, few families will be going home soon.

Posted by: Rick | Dec 15, 2007 2:15:09 AM | 22

the BBC reports that Iraqi oil production is above prewar levels. I suppose that is significant and must mean that a lot of money is pouring into Iraq now because of high oil prices. odd that, why would bush need another 180 billion if Iraq is selling 1.5 million barrels per day? at 90 bucks a barrel that is 135 million a day or more than 4 billion a month. as with most things, we need to follow the money.

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 15, 2007 4:41:30 AM | 23

& if people are nervous about perceiving this as a war if anhilation - then i would like to move to another continent where this war of anhilation i clearly in progress. b real & others have been exhaustive in their researches here to make this clear. their evidence of this war of anhilation follows the facts with great precision

4 million people have died in zaire - democratic republic of congo - 4 fucking million - & the imperialists role in this slaughter is categoric. in africa imperialism is harvesting death cultivating corrupt clans as the singer fema kuti so clearly sang

the slaughter in the sixties in south east asia -whether it was indonesia or the phillipines gave birth to the kinds of suppliant tyrannies that still rule from the roll of dollars

but of course numbers mean nothing to the imperialists - they don't do body counts

& their media have great difficulty with numbers - wherever they are - today their was a demonstration - where the camera clearly show hundreds of thousands - they say there is a thousand or two

in their coverage of venezuela - they had someone do close shots in all the demonstrations of support for chavez because it would have exposed their lies

but in the end the mass of people don't matter. if they do not become potential consumers then they are better off dead

that is the real calculus of capitalism

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 15, 2007 2:12:50 PM | 24

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