Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 25, 2008

There Are Always 'Solutions'

'Ayatollah will not allow US-Iraq deal'

Iraq's most revered Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has strongly objected to a 'security accord' between the US and Iraq.

The Grand Ayatollah has reiterated that he would not allow Iraq to sign such a deal with "the US occupiers" as long as he was alive, a source close to Ayatollah Sistani said.

The source added the Grand Ayatollah had voiced his strong objection to the deal during a meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the holy city of Najaf on Thursday.

Hillary Clinton Mentions RFK Assassination in Relation to '08 Race

In an interview with the Argus Leader, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., took the unusual step of invoking the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy, D-N.Y., when discussing the continuing Democratic nomination battle.

"My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don't understand it." Clinton said.

Posted by b on May 25, 2008 at 4:35 UTC | Permalink


funny how the mind works once an idea is out there circulating. i thought the same thing when i read the story on sistani. amazing that it didn't come up in 2000 or '04.

Posted by: b real | May 25 2008 5:17 utc | 1

I should think Sistani has always been aware of the danger of assassination; it's nothing new. His colleague, Ayatollah al-Ha'iri, was blown up in 2003 or 2004 (someone now completely forgotten). And I should think there have been several attempts.

Actually, now one could ask the question, given that Sistani is said to be in poor health, whether he would not be more useful to the Shi'a cause dead - assassinated - than alive. Martyred, he could be a more permanent inspiration.

Posted by: Alex | May 25 2008 10:43 utc | 2

al-Sadr has been progressively growing in popularity for his nationalistic stand against the occupation. al-Sistani has been losing influence for his lukewarm opposition to the occupation and, due to him being an Iranian, his inability to draw on Iraqi unity as al-Sadr can. I believe this is al-Sistani's last chance to be relevant.

Posted by: Ensley | May 25 2008 12:31 utc | 3

That was no slip - Hillary knows what she is doing in raising the spectre of assassination.

To wit: although there are more than a handful of nuts who would love to target Hillary if she wins, I sure that they would be outnumbered by the lunatic fringers out gunning for Obama.

Can you say "Warren Commission"?

Posted by: ralphieboy | May 25 2008 15:53 utc | 4

I agree with ralphieboy. My first reaction was that she was worn out and frazzled and simply made a gaffe. But it seems to be a calculated statement within the context of the interview. Moreover, her behavior has been cruder during this past week of campaigning. In Florida she compared the rules fight over seating delegates in the two contested primaries (Florida and Minnesota), to the vote theft in Election 2000, and compared the situation to bloody and brutalized Zimbabwe. The last week has seen Clinton reinvent herself as a demagogue.

Posted by: Copeland | May 25 2008 18:38 utc | 5

in the contemporary version of feudalism (aka corporation, class & race) Hilarys lack of grace has turned out to be an inconvenient burden. However, in another age, she would be the medieval queen at whose order vengeance & fury would be visited upon any who dared to hold their head up before her.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 25 2008 20:02 utc | 6

Frankly the real Hillary is the Hillary of 1992 during her travel-gate days (if you recall her rape of the White House Travel Office shortly after billy-bobs win): ruthless, ever ready to dole out favors to her cronies, arrogant, and untrustworthy. The Democratic Party owes her nothing and even less after her assassination quip. Maybe Obama will be the breath of fresh air we've been praying for...or maybe not. But Hillary will never be.

Posted by: Diogenes | May 25 2008 20:02 utc | 7

Yrs. The Queen of Hearts! Off with their heads!

Posted by: Diogenes | May 25 2008 20:03 utc | 8

Since none of us know al-Sistani personally I can't say whether deep down he is just another politician trying to get some 'traction' on a topic an opponent (if he and al-Sadr are opponents)has managed to "call his own".
But I do know there is a huge amount of confusion and misunderstanding in the west about the exact role that a figure such as al-Sistani or even al-Sadr holds within their society.
Senior Islamic clergy don't rise through a formal structure. There is no equivalent of a Pope or a bishops hierarchy in Islam where advancement if it call be called that, is made on the basis of how learned the person is, rather than some office jobbery or cardinals conclaving, to fill vacant positions. That said I'm sure that Islam just like most other human endeavours, does have it's share of players, that is self-promoters who use situations to play people off against each other for their own ends.
Because we live in systems (so called democracies) which are almost entirely geared towards satisfying the needs of these player types we can make the error of thinking that everyone else does too, when in fact some societies contain institutions which have evolved beyond such destructive hierarchies.
Ever since amerika has been in Iraq they have been trying to get al-Sistani to 'play the game' something he has refused to do, in fact virtually everything the man has said and done can lead one to believe that he loathes politics and refuses to indulge in them. At first amerika thought that position was just a ploy. After all how could someone get to be so respected in society and still refuse to 'play'. It was unheard of, certainly I'm unaware of any amerikan xtian god-botherer who, upon attaining even middle rank doesn't immediately trade that position for chips in the 'big game', ie politics.

But al Sistani has never been interested in politics and probably understands that much of the respect given him by Iraqis, comes from the fact he doesn't trade their loyalty for chips at the 'big table'.
Most westerners would see that as pointless, after all "what is the point of being revered if you're not gonna go anywhere with it?" Of course that also begs the question of whether al-Sistani devotes much time and effort to concerning himself with his 'reverence index'. Somehow I believe it is unlikely he calls polls or holds focus groups on any issue, much less on what the peeps think of him.
Rather than seeing him as an operator, keen to undermine al-Sadr, it is just as viable to argue that al-Sistani is a devout person who withdrew from all social contact refusing to meet any amerikan from shrub on up, simply because he sees that entering into any dealings with the corrupt, venal infidel invaders as being a sin that would corrupt him, his thoughts, and the people around him. That no good could come of such a treasonous and probably blasphemous act.
He may understand that once the amerikans realised they couldn't find any players in the few Iraqi institutions remaining after the invasion, and let's face it, Islam was about the only institution that wasn't completely levelled and it's hierarchy tossed into abu-Ghraib, that amerika would try to create a structure they could comprehend.

al-Sistani saw that it became neccessary for the amerikans to create a structure where people had to play the game according to amerikan rules so there would be 'opposite numbers' in Iraq whose motives and actions amerikans could understand then suborn or defeat.
That as we know was no simple matter. The first attempts at creating a corrupt democracy where the peeps voted yet weren't heeded were disastrous. amerika had to step in and sack the buggers and tell them to start again.
Sistani didn't oppose those efforts, well speak against them, perhaps because he saw all the effort amerika was putting in, as being a good 'sink' or sponge for the deplorable belief that everything can be fixed with enough guns and money. amerika used up lots of time and resources especially the patience of Iraqis, micro-managing a power structure many Iraqis regarded as being irrelevant.

Why would al-Sistani speak against this process? As far as he could discern amongst the 'locals' (those who had been living in Iraq or Iran prior to the invasion, the outsiders such as Chalabi were never gonna win enough votes anyhow) in government most were patriotic Iraqis, on the same page about one thing. That is that Iraq's resources would never be given up to the invaders.
The number of attempts by amerika to sequester the oil 'legally' that is in a way that can't be found to be in breach of UN requirements on invader-colony relations, probably exceeds the number of attempts to assassinate Castro, OK I exaggerate, nothing could top that number, but still there must have been more than the proverbial 57 different cracks at skinning this cat, yet amerika still isn't any closer to getting the oil now, than it was in Feb 03 with Saddam still in power.

They must have pulled out every stop on al-Maliki when Cheney dropped by to arm twist. al-Maliki has begun a civil war that has angered and upset all devout Shia, whether they supported al-Sadr or not. al-Sistani is probably one of those most upset at the heedless, needless spilling of the blood of brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters.
But al-Sistani isn't a politician, so he's not going to try and trade his position in the Shia community for some deal with amerika and what appears to be their loyal proxy/sock puppet al-Maliki.

Instead he shows courage and says in a way that all Iraqis can understand:
"If you proceed with this feckless, reckless and corrupt 'security accord' which will allow amerika to take what they want, when they want, killing whomsoever they desire; without having to answer to any law be it Iraqi, amerikan, or international, then you will have to kill me first."

Will it work? Well it will give Iraqis a pretty good picture of how far into the diabolical corruption process that Faust, sorry Maliki is immediately prior to the elections.

If Maliki wants his deal he won't just have to kill al-Sistani - he's also going to have to fracture the Shia bloc which is his support base, right before asking that base to vote for him. Of course the amerikans don't care, once the accord has been signed and the oil deal extorted using the accord, as far as BushCo and cheneyCorp care Iraq can do whatever the fuck it wants. A security perimeter will go around the oil fields. The roads system will become like the Israeli model where only the favoured few and their tankers are allowed to travel the high speed high priority roads connecting the oil fields to international transport hubs like sea ports and airfields.
Hell it's not as if shrub and cheney are gonna have to worry about the festering sore that Iraq will have become some other sucker is going to have to try and recast Iraq into the image that amerikan citizens prefer, one that makes them seem to be 'the good guys'.

I doubt the odds of cheney and shrub pulling this off are actually that great. There is a limit on what they can get away with while amerikans are distracted by 'picking the patsy'. Maliki may be on board, but the deal still needs to be voted on in parliament and that means every "aye" vote will have to have a secure, viable 'exit package' for the pol, his immediate family, perhaps his entire clan. And that also presumes that there are that many pols in the Iraqi parliament prepared to be that treasonous.

Since no one outside Iraq anywhere, much less amerika, seems to be sufficiently disturbed by this travesty to throw sand in BushCo's gearbox, the job of preventing this travesty will be up to iraqis themselves, but hell, they knew that right from the start.

Posted by: Debs is dead | May 25 2008 22:47 utc | 9

also, Sistani made it very clear after the invasion that he does not support an American presence beyond a brief stay. What he has not done yet is announce a call for a withdrawal of USA troops. But everything on all sides in Iraq (and Iran too) hinges on the outcome of the USA general election. Its only the USA thats fronting like it really does'nt matter and that its agenda is sustainable. Whether it is sustainable or not will be massively tested after the election, from all fronts and likely Sistani too.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 26 2008 0:52 utc | 10


Very directly written!


Posted by: Gaianne | May 26 2008 1:03 utc | 11

As per ralphieboy's #4... that might have been a Fruedian slip, but you are correct. It was no mere slip of the tongue. While I agree that these people are not superhumans whose every gaffe is quite as stage-managed as often appears, it's useful to examine the evidence we have.

An old bit of someone's musings about Henry II's famous utterance ("Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?") that I ran across recently places the blame on the mentality of the hyperpatriots who act on these things. "Superiors" are to blame only insofar as they did not make their genuine desires known. I, on the other hand, suspect these "blunders" make the genuine wishes known entirely while placing a buffer of absolution on the one who gives the orders. (Not that a buffer is necessary any longer after the precedent set by Abu Ghraib... order-givers now come pre-wrapped in untouchability.)

I'm hesitant to assign Obama the role of latter day Thomas Becket here (or even latter day Paul Wellstone), but the analogy would be entirely apt if something untoward did end up happening.

There's simply no positive spin for Hillary's twice-expressed wish here. She's either overly-callous, overly clueless and cossetted, or entirely pathologically disengenuous (her excuse that Kennedy was on her mind because of Edward's recent brain tumor and then the disclosure that she had voiced the same wish prior to the Senator's diagnosis seems very similar to her being caught in the lie about her trip to Bosnia).

Should something happen to Obama, we would have endless debates about it just as we did on the subject of 9-11: Did they make it happen or let it happen...? Just as in the case of 9-11, I will say preemptively that it doesn't matter. Anyone who opportunistically exploits a tragedy for their personal or political gain has revealed themselves to be at the very least immoral, and the faster they reveal their prepared contingincies for that exploitation, the more assured we can be that they are not simply innocent bystanders to it. Nobody should stand to gain, and we should view with justified suspicion those who do... or those who merely make these "slips" and express their deepest desires.

Posted by: Monolycus | May 26 2008 4:15 utc | 12

Debs -
Well put.

I will just echo my oft stated belief that the US presence in Iraq is not sustainable, on purely US terms. Military personnel and materiel are both short. US has to draw down numbers in a year or less.

If US tries to remain on more limited basis, that is an entirely different sort of challenge. Likely to be unsustainable without some new level of Iraqi acceptance, or a very isolated presence.

Who here can suggest what other scenarios might be on imperial drawing boards to escape this limitation?

In the meantime, I wonder whether many in Iraq and also in Iran are seeking merely a holding pattern for the interim, until an inevitable US drawdown. That is, as significant as waiting for a new president is, more simply, waiting for the imminent, inevitable exhaustion of US ability to pursue battle in Iraq, at least in current posture.

Peace talks and truces breaking out through the region suggest, as one possibility, that many have noticed the enormous holes in the emperor's clothes.

Unfortunately, it is just the sort of desperate situation where waning powers turn to their darkest stratagems and weapons. Like Hillary.

Has anyone else wondered whether the oddities of the present oil market could somehow reflect a new stage in the Global War for Control of Oil? An effort to demonstrate that even if the old empires don't control source and production, they can still control the markets and distribution? Or is this beyond the control of even the most skillful market strategists?

Posted by: small coke | May 26 2008 4:39 utc | 13

News accounts reveal that Pope Benedict XVI has sent President George Bush a gift -- a diamond-encrusted platinum Saint Jude's medallion as a sarcastic token of disgust the pontiff feels towards Bush and his Neo-Zi Oil War, which has cost the Catholic Archdiosese tens of millions of dollars in parishioner collections since the cost of gasoline began to edge upwards, from $1.65 a gallon in 2003 at the start of Bush's Mayhem, to $4.17 today.

St. Jude is the Catholic patron saint of lost causes. The American Archdiosese is reeling between the severely-costly pedophile-priest settlements and increasing poverty among its parishioners, due largely to Wall Street's credit.con and hyper- inflation, all of which followed from egregious errors made by the Executive.

A spokesman for the Pope said the pontiff hopes that "bastard chokes on the medal",
a reference to the "pretzel incident," which White House insiders have admitted was caused by Bush's mother-in-law losing her retirement investments due to the war,
and a heated domestic argument that ensued, which resulting in Bush's black eye.

"I'd like to give him one myself," the Pope is alleged to have said. Then in retrospect, His Eminence later added sheepishly, "I meant a pretzel, that is."

Posted by: Tippi Canoo | May 26 2008 6:46 utc | 14

huffington post: FOX Pundit Wishes for Obama Assassination, Laughs

During a live interview, FOX Contributor Liz Trotta jokingly wished for the assassination of Sen. Barack Obama.
The incident happen in an exchange with the FOX News anchor. When asked her opinion of the recent scandal surrounding some comments made by Sen. Hillary Clinton, which Trotta described by saying that, "some are reading [it] as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama." Hemmer quickly corrected Trotta, having noticed that she had said "Osama" when she meant "Obama." At this point, Trotta said, "Obama. Well...both if we could!" Trotta then laughed gleefully.

no need for white pillowcases over their heads these days

Posted by: b real | May 26 2008 6:51 utc | 15

Great post Debs is dead. I wonder how they are going to justify suppressing the election given the fact that Maliki's popularity has surely plummeted in the sea of dead Shia bodies he left throughout Iraq. With Sunni, Sadrist, Fadhilla and breakaway Dawa parties standing to gain large in the afermath I can't see Maliki allowing an election. Then again Sistani forced the last elections and I see no reason for him not to do it again. Another confrontatin in the works coming up soon.


Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Posted by: Sam | May 26 2008 9:36 utc | 16

chris floyd: Assassinationgate: The Self-Righteous Hit on Hillary Clinton

Now anyone who has read even a smidgen of my work knows that I hold no brief for Hillary Clinton. Her presidency would have been a disaster -- a confirmation and continuation of the worst elements of the Bush Administration in almost every essential aspect. But the self-righteous vilification that has greeted her remark is truly repulsive -- and it bodes very ill, given the likely prospect that the self-righteous vilifiers will soon gain power.
.. those who have long considered Clinton to be Machiavelli reincarnated -- a woman of overpowering ambition whose every move, every word, every thought is minutely calibrated to advance her march to power -- suddenly seemed to believe that she would be stupid enough to deliberately "let hang in mid-air the prospect that she might just be sticking around in part, just in case the other guy gets shot," to quote Keith Olbermann's nostril-quivering denunciation of Clinton's remark.

Olbermann's thunderous outrage at this violation of his exquisite sensibilities was fairly typical of the wider reaction. Olbermann declared that any person who could suggest such a thing -- i.e., the thing that he himself had wrung out of Clinton's words -- "has no business being, and no capacity to be, the President of the United States." Well, given the number of mass murderers who have served in the White House over the years, it's a bit of a stretch to say that someone who suggests bumping off a rival has no capacity to be President of the United States. In fact, I'd say they actually have a leg up on the job. But then, I don't get all teary-eyed and trembly with respect at the very mention of "the President of the United States," as Olbermann obviously does. I'm more simpatico with old James Buchanan, who told his successor, "Mister Lincoln, the office of president is not fit for a gentleman to hold."

But let's not be too hard on Olbermann and his sensitivities. After all, he is clearly a more tolerant man than I am. Me, I would consider someone unfit to be president of the United States if he or she had, say, promised to obliterate an entire country if that country attacked, er, another country, not even the United States. I think I would have written off a candidate like that long ago. But not Olbermann. He doesn't even mention Clinton's apocalyptic threat to annihilate 70 million people in Iran in his long list of her gaffes and misdeeds for which "we have forgiven you." No, for Olbermann and many others of the freshly outraged, that kind of thing -- the calm contemplation of slaughtering millions upon millions of innocent people -- is just par for the course, not even worth noting. But a sorta ambiguous statement that, if you squint real hard, could be made to look like an inappropriate reference to a political opponent -- now, that's just going too far!

Posted by: b real | May 27 2008 15:28 utc | 17

if Chris Floyd @17 has the time, he might write a piece directed at the population of regular citizens whose take on Hilarys comment is that it was a terrible thing to say and we'll know if he can do so without accusing them of being self-righteous.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 28 2008 0:15 utc | 18

It seems I remember things quite differently from Debs. I thought Sistani was instrumental in forcing the US occupiers to hold elections in the first place? You know in the early days when there was talk of years of occupation and de-Baathication before an iraqi government would form. And Sistani called for a demonstration and people turned out in droves?

So I would say he plays politics, he just does not run for office. And is better of for it. Like Oprah.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | May 28 2008 1:58 utc | 19

The comments to this entry are closed.