Civil war in Iraq

While world attention has been transfixed by the catastrophes in Lebanon and Gaza, Iraq has reached the point where sectarian bloodletting turns into civil war. Most of the country is already partitioned on ethnic and religious lines, and now the same thing is happening in Baghdad, with people abandoning mixed neighborhoods for the safety of homogeneous enclaves.

This development seems to finally mark the point beyond which slogans like “stay the course” make no sense any more. “Stay the course” presumed that the problem was an insurgency that could be defeated by the Iraqi government, given sufficient backing. Whether or not that was ever feasible, given the way in which the occupation acted as a recruiting agency for the insurgents, is now irrelevant. The forces driving the civil war are as much inside the government as outside. The occupying forces are doing nothing to stop it, and it’s not obvious that they can do anything.

Any suggestions on what to do next would be welcome. Given that the occupation has produced nothing but disaster, an early end to it seems like an obvious first step. But nothing now seems likely to stop the breakup of Iraq into warring statelets, at least some of which will be terrorist havens.

Update While the comment thread has been as acrimonious as you would expect, it’s been notably lacking in positive suggestions, particularly from those who supported the invasion. Stephen Bartos and a couple of others have some worthwhile discussion of the way a withdrawal could be managed, but the war’s supporters seem to think it sufficient to point out that Saddam was (and is) an evil man. Those of us who opposed the invasion knew that; what we were waiting for in 2002, and are still waiting for, was a coherent plan to deal with the consequences of an invasion.

105 thoughts on “Civil war in Iraq

  1. Suggestions from those who supported the invasion being particularly welcome.

    Suggestions from those who ridiculed Latham’s christmas policy might also be of assistance.

    Those of us who always thought it would end up an intractable mess could be excused for thinking that, along with university professors, international lawyers, and just about anyone else with a smidgen of education in relation to any form of foreign policy analysis, our opinions are not wanted.

    Regretably I think there is now no option that will result in peace. The US (and hangers on like Oz) need to get out so that the extremists have less fuel. However at best this creates a modest chance of order being restored.

    The chances that the country will end up splitting on ethnic lines are starting to reach levels worth punting on.

  2. No brilliant ideas beyond what I’ve thought for a while- out now. To stop making it worse is an important principle to act on, but its comig so late that the problems are now massive.

    While it doesn’t solve the problems that remain, it at least removes one complication to the Iraqis beginning to sort it out for themselves. There is enough complicating this without the added layer of US military presence.

  3. The university-educated Bill Clinton was right to make the removal of Saddam official US policy. The terrorist called Saddam Hussein killed 500,000 Iraqis but the “civil war” fetishists believe he is still the lawful president of Iraq. Astonishing. State-orchestrated slaughter, road-side bombs – there’s no moral difference. Saddam was more dangerous and bloodthirsty, that’s all. As the man is under indictment for war crimes – including genocide – the left should now apologise.

    Nobody can be sure what politico-cartographic innovations might be made in Iraq in coming decades. Same goes for Indonesia and Canada. The important thing to remember now is that the removal of Saddam was just, there are no “insurgents” in the sovereign state of Iraq – only terrorists – and that prosperity and democracy will yield benefits over time. This fight was inevitable – between Saddam and the West and within Islamic culture. As a presence on the ground or as backers in the forums of the world, countries like Australia should indeed stay the course. As should forces of moderation within Iraq – with our support.

    Latham’s and Labor’s Little Australia Doctrine will not make Australians or Iraqis any safer.

  4. The question of whether Iraq is currently experiencing civil war is one of fact, and has nothing to do with Saddam Hussein’s legal status, or the crimes he committed (with the support of the then US Administration) in the 1980s, and for which he is now being tried. Iraq wasn’t experiencing a civil war a year ago (when Saddam was already in jail) but it is now.

    And, as the post points out, the parties to the civil war aren’t (in most cases) insurgents, they are factions within the current government.

  5. “Latham’s and Labor’s Little Australia Doctrine”

    Me too coat-tail grasping, sheer cowardice, and unilateralism masquerading as bilateralism VS multilateralism and respect for some semblence of international community and law- call it little Australia if you are in the habit of inverting logic.

  6. Multilateralism isn’t working out with Iran. The UN’s semblence of order seems to be characterised chiefly by blue-helmets committing mass rape. Or just waiting for everyone to die – which is Kofi’s Africa policy. “Sheer cowardice” was the Latham policy – he didn’t even make provision for the protection of Australian officials. Traitorous lunatic.

  7. Membership of the chest-thumping “stay-the-course” club is gradually dwindling. Australia will likely be one of the last to leave, mainly because of a lack of independent policy on the matter. We aren’t so much stay-the-course but follow-the-leader.

    Stay-the-course seems a poor substitute for re-thinking the situation in light of radically changed circumstances.

  8. OK C.L. – points taken. Now, do you have any suggestions on what to do next? (which was the point of the post) Or are you going to spend the rest of your life making carping criticisms of “the left”.
    And before you ask, I can’t offer any suggestions other than get out and leave it to the Iraqis.

  9. Pr Q says:

    Any suggestions on what to do next would be welcome.

    Get out of Dodge before sundown. Our militaries are a viral infection to the more active elements in the Islamic world, and their antipathetic response is becoming deadly to both sides.

    The Al Queada attacks were caused by US military installations and interventions into the region. These should stop, and we should begin to bring the troops home from Mesopotamia.

    Require ISR to do the same to any and all Occupied Territories. Withdraw the IDF to 1949 borders. Try and organise a rational re-alignment of borders by means of buying out annoying settlements ie economic ethnic cleansing. Turn Jerusalem into a selfgoverning principality ala the Vatican, secured with UN Swiss Guards.

    Turn ISR into a high-tech garrison. After withdrawal from the OT’s any further attacks by Islamic militants will be a sign that regional powers and militias wish to eliminate ISR and exterminate the Jews. This should legitimate the IDF to do whatever it takes to neutralise the regional threat. It is the regional super power and should be able to secure its original borders with a combination of ordinance barrages, commado ops, full scale punitive missions, nuclear counter-attack in extremis.

    Any further military intervention into the region should be UN-backed and staffed. Foreign intervention into Iraq, in the form of militia support from Iran or Syria, should be punished by UN-flagged military strikes.

    Also, lets lose the headlong drive to spread democracy to every last sun of a gun in the ME. A return to supporting more or less benevolent dictatorships that are slowly evolving in a pro-liberal and pro-Occidental way would be better for Islamic Arabs and Westerners alike.

    Their notion of democracy is different from ours, less liberal and more militant. We think of democracy as an ethical social decision making procedure that reconciles majority rule with minority rights. They regard idemocracy as a means of legitimating ethnic identity rule, mobilising the populus to use state power to settle old scores and reward friends and relative.

    Pr Q says:

    Given that the occupation has produced nothing but disaster, an early end to it seems like an obvious first step.

    The “regime changing” invasion to rid the Baathist dictatorship was as much as success as the “nation building” occupation to turn Iraq into a multicultural democracy was a failure. This is because Iraq is not a nation to build. Even if it was you can bet that Islamic sectarians and Republican partisans would stuff it up.

    Pr Q says:

    But nothing now seems likely to stop the breakup of Iraq into warring statelets, at least some of which will be terrorist havens.

    Correct. I am not so much worried by terrorist havens in Mesopotamia. Kurdistan was a war-ridden statelet and terrorist haven when it was de facto broken off from Iraq by the US no-fly zone policy. I guess the same policy will have to be followed accross the whole of Iraq.

    Domestic insurrection and provincial secession in Iraq will have to more or less tolerated. This is business as usual for the Arab street. So long as they are busy killing each other they will not be that much interested in killing us. I guess sub-Saharan Africa will be the political model – ameliorated by oil money, exacerbated by jihadist ideology.

    The US, as predicted by the “ditch Saudi/hitch Iraqi” thesis, will want to keep its “enduring bases” in Iraq, to provide oil pipeline and installation security. I dont see how it can withdraw from those bases without turning Iraq into another Columbia, turbo driven by sectarian theology. I dont see how it can keep those bases without inflaming local sentiment.

    Insurrection and municipal secession in AUstralia worries me more. The example of Londonistan proves that ethnic militants use multiculturalism to foster terrorist havens. The Wets need to fess up that their toxic cultural policies have been based on self-interested lies and self-destructive delusion. This would also be good politics, since the majority already know this: hence the political decline of the Wets.

    Immigration should focus on economical and ethical values. Social democrats should force leaders to renounce this evil policy, which is foundational to the politics of ethnic identity and destructive to a policy of national interest.

  10. to whom it may concern,

    i confess! i am responsible for saddam’s war crimes. and i would’ve gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for that pesky currency lad.

    the left.

    p.s.: tell me more about how iraq is just like canada.

  11. “The important thing to remember now is that the removal of Saddam was just, there are no “insurgentsâ€? in the sovereign state of Iraq – only terrorists – and that prosperity and democracy will yield benefits over time.”

    Yo, CL!

    You’re almost right, but you’re just a little premature.

    If the US decides to veto the forthcoming resolution in the Security Council rescinding the immunity from prosecution of US personnel, then the sovereignty of the State of Iraq is very questionable indeed.

    If this resolution does pass the Security Council, then US personnel will no longer be able to rape and terrorise Iraqi citizens with legal impunity from Iraqi law.

    I guess that supporters of Iraqi sovereignty, like CL proclaims himself to be, would have to welcome this strongly desired restoration of the sovereign rights of the Iraqi nation.

    And, further, I guess that lovers of the free Iraq, like CL, would have to welcome the prospect of American murderers and rapists facing justice in the courts of a sovereign Iraq.

    For details of this interesting moment in the spread of sovereignty and liberty, see the following article:

  12. And further, this snippet of RWDB theology merits unfavourable attention:

    “there are no “insurgentsâ€? in the sovereign state of Iraq – only terrorists”

    CL’s ideologically driven fantasia may well apply to Iraq’s Shiite death squads killing Sunni as we speak. These death squads wear uniforms and carry guns paid for by the chronically undertaxed US taxpayer and with US loans raised from the Central Bank of China.

    However, if insurgents, who may well use terror tactics, are supported and protected by, and live among, a supportive population, then they are more than terrorists. They are insurgents.

    Some historical parallels may help CL to resolve his admittedly chronic problem of categorisation:

    George Washington used terror tactics on occasion. But he was an insurgent in that he had broad support among American people.

    John Brown also used terror tactics. But he had no broad support in Virginia, where he was hanged for a terrorist and traitor.

  13. I think billmon has put it best

    Iraq 1921-2006


    The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, meets Tony Blair in London today as violence in Iraq reaches a new crescendo and senior Iraqi officials say the break up of the country is inevitable . . .

    Iraq as a political project is finished,” a senior government official was quoted as saying, adding: “The parties have moved to plan B.”

    He said that the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish parties were now looking at ways to divide Iraq between them and to decide the future of Baghdad, where there is a mixed population. “There is serious talk of Baghdad being divided into [Shia] east and [Sunni] west,” he said.

  14. De do do do, de da da da…. still waiting for that admission from the general right that they were consumately wrong about Iraq. CL’s stubborn declarations about insurgents and terrorists are meaningless- if we can’t even get humanitarian law upheld against one of our ‘allies’ currently slaughtering hundreds of civilians, then confirming that many of the attacks in Iraq constitute brutal terrorism has virtually no meaning.

    1) they aren’t stopping.

    2) all the might of the strongest country in the world can’t stop them.

    3) this was entirely predictable before Iraq was ever invaded.

    4) if you value human life then we’ve now reached the point where we can declare that the world and Iraqis would have been better off if we never went in.

    5) if you value the ‘war on terror’ then we are without a scintilla of doubt worse off than if we never went in there.

    6) it is the idiocy of the Iraq invasion that has put the west on a back foot in relation to Iran (and North Korea and other rogue states). Political capital is finite.

    7) even with the various books that examined islamic extremism and asked ‘why do they hate us’ still sitting in the new release section, and with most conservatives blandly trumpeting their old anti islamic crusader conclusions about an evil religion etc, we are demonstrating with utter clarity why every muslim and/or arab has good cause to fear and hate the classic axis of Israel and the US.

    8) …and that we consider 10 arab lives to be worth 1 life of an ally of ours.

    So please, argue on. Your side of politics has done such a good job at bringing peace and democracy to the middle east.

    Clinton may have wanted Saddam dead, but he clearly also had the intellect to recognise that without the right opportunity such a move would backfire and bring chaos to the region.

    We now look forward to the next 20 years of cyclical violence.

  15. the evidence seems overwhelming that the occupation is doing more harm than good, and should end, so John’s call for suggestions as to what to do next is timely. IMO there’s two separate steps to be considered:

    first, how the occupation itself ends – should the strategy be to just pull up stumps, or implement a graduated withdrawal? the first seems more likely, based on the history of other countries post WWII (although mostly asia and south/latin america examples I admit) to cause further upheaval. If there is to be a staged process, there is a serious job of analysis to be done on how the stages are structured: geographically (eg leave the south first then the north? or leave rural/small towns first and major cities/Bagdhad last?); militarily (eg withdraw light ground units, then heavy units, then air support & special forces?); politically (eg withdraw unilaterally, or agree a timetable and staging with the Iraqi parliament?). Obviously a good strategy will combine all these considerations.

    second, the issue of how best to support the fractured and highly dysfunctional state that will remain. I’d be recommending much greater intervention by Islamic multilateral institutions – eg the Islamic Development Bank – over what are seen as western-aligned institutions. This may require additional financial support for those Islamic institutions – however, a good deal cheaper than the current approach. In addition, working with other governments in the region to encourage them to mount assistance missions along the multilateral lines pursued in RAMSI could be useful, and could engage mainstream Islamic sentiment. Almost impossible for the US to pursue at the moment given its stance on Israel, but other countries might take up the running on this where they were not prepared to join the COW.

    For a good (and by no means left-wing) approach to how to deal with state building, Francis Fukuyama’s book of the same name is helpful – one wonders why nobody responsible for US Iraq policy seems to have read it!

  16. John,

    There is very little we can do without talking with Iran and Syria.
    Basically, we need to know what they want and then I suspect give
    them what they want, Lie back and think of England as it were.

    It is now important to try and understand how we got into this
    situation. There is superb depth of knowledge in the area of middle
    eastern studies. Policy however has been hijacked by a group of

    Apart from imperial fantasies, these hack have sought to destroy
    the academic area of middle eastern studies. Many of them could be
    motivated by a sense of bitterness that they did not get academic
    appointments. The best examples are the first
    rate thugs at campus watch, who’s aim is to find ways of revoking
    the tenure of America’s leading experts on the middle east.

    So in short, it is time to listen to our real experts and make the
    hacks pay with their careers for the disasters that they have

  17. CL, drano is for unclogging drains, not drinking. And you didn’t answer the question.

    My answer is that we don’t get out, or get out before sundown. There is much more than a civil war in the balance- this is a regional war about to happen. Iran will be in there, so will Turkey, who knows what will happen to the surrounding Sunni dictatorships and, oh by the way, apparently we’re going to have an international force in Southern Lebanon serving as target practice for Hezbollah (*!@#^!), so maybe we can drag some blue helmets in there too. The severity of the incompetence of George W. Bush and the neocons, (known during the first Bush administration as “the crazies”) has only just begun to be understood.

    What this requires is not “staying the course” or immediate withdrawal. What this requires is an actual strategy and the vision and leadership to implement it (and no, I’m not holding my breath). The first thing we, as in us Americans, need to do is start being honest, transparent and proactive. That starts with an acknowledgment that we made a dreadful mistake, that Iraq is a mess and that our only objective at this point is to take whatever corrective action is most sensible, absolutely whatever that is. It should be clear that we are willing to commit substantial resources and troops, as required by the strategy, to the cause.

    Beyond that, the first order of business is fixing post haste our troops recent predilection for war crimes, again using whatever methods necessary. Whatever those are- posting troops away from the civilian population, whatever- it will certainly include making some examples. We’ve got the death penalty in the United States. I’m not for it, but at a time like this it could come in handy. If it is true that a bunch of Marines murdered 30 Iraqis or whatever, we need to try them, convict them, line them up along a fence and shoot them, and broadcast each bit on every Iraqi channel we can get access to.

    We also need to make a series of statements that are given credence by our law- for example, pass a law saying that after say 2008, continued presence of any American military in Iraq will require its passage in a national referendum or some such, and sign it in the damn rose garden with the Iraqi prime minister in attendence. We should also pass a law that says that American firms cannot own lease rights on Iraqi fossil fuels. Finally, we need to investigate all the war profiteering and criminal loss of Iraqi oil and US taxpayer funds and convict and send to prison all responsible.

    Doing these things may just buy enough credibility with the Iraqi and world communities to start building alliances in both realms toward positive solutions to dealing with the violence and supporting what is, if not a great government, perhaps a precursor of a functioning government. Failing the backbone and sense of morality needed to go that course, the only other option is to pick a side on the civil war and let the atrocities fly. As bad as that would be, it is very likely to have a lower body count than either “staying the course” or withdrawal.

  18. Majorajam says:”…our only objective at this point is to take whatever corrective action is most sensible, absolutely whatever that is.”

    Well, cutting off the flow of US weaponry into the Middle East would be a start. Working through the UN to cut off the flow of other weaponry would be a good second step. But then Majorajam says: “…we are willing to commit substantial resources and troops, as required by the strategy, to the cause.” When will the penny drop? There is no military solution.

  19. It’s time for the classic ending for failed imperial ventures – partition followed by an exchange of populations. Very nasty, guarantees poverty and instability for a long time (especially if the neighbours are silly enough to dabble themselves in the mess), but marginally better than the alternative.

    Oh, and we should try the main players in this as war criminals pour encourager les autres. Fat chance that will happen though.

  20. There’s been an interesting eastasia/eurasia switch as well, which many war apologists employed doublethink to absorb perfectly.

    White House aides have said they consider the Lebanon crisis to be a “leadership moment” for Mr Bush and an opportunity to proceed with his post-September 11 plan to reshape the Middle East by building Sunni Arab opposition to Shia terrorism. Yesterday Mr Bush cited the role of Iran and Syria in providing help to Hezbollah.


    So the US had always planned this, had they? So by attacking Iraq and removing Saddam (Sunni), which allowing Iraq to be annexed by shia Iran due to Iraq’s Shia majority, the US was fighting Shia terrorism.

    So what they want you to believe is that they planned to fight Shia terrorism by firstly creating an environment in which Shia forces become dominant in the area. …OK, got it.

    Meanwhile, the Sunni and Wahhabist (Al-Qaeda) house of Saud, which are the biggest sponsors of terrorism on earth (remember the 9/11 hijackers were mostly Saudi), remain strong allies of Israel and the US…. And some people swallow this crap?? Pull your heads out.

  21. Pr Q says:

    Most of the country is already partitioned on ethnic and religious lines, and now the same thing is happening in Baghdad, with people abandoning mixed neighborhoods for the safety of homogeneous enclaves.

    There is really only one two-word solution for introducing national coherency: “ethnic cleansing”. As Pr Q’s comment suggests, this de jure end is already in de fact sight with the informal pattern of migration of various ethnic groups to safe havens.

    I suggest that the “economic” model of ethnic cleansing, which was cooked up by Jimmy Carter at Camp David for Sadat and Begin for settling the Sinai question, might be a way to resolve the conflicts with less violence. Steve Sailer summarises how enlightened self-interest resolved this problem without resort to arms:

    The question, however, is how to conduct ethnic cleansing humanely. This is necessary for practical reasons as well as moral ones. Ethnic cleansings that leave the displaced feeling robbed and humiliated are likely to lead to future violence — e.g., the Palestinians. If property rights have to be violated, compensation should be paid.

    Consider the mechanics of one of the most successful of peace treaties, the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt. One stumbling block to redrawing the borders was the 7,000 Jewish settlers in the Sinai, which was to be handed over to the Egyptians. They would not live under Egyptian rule, nor would they abandon their homes.

    So, they were bought out. Instead of destabilizing the peace process, the settlers left quietly. The Sinai compensation was generous — about one million of today’s Canadian dollars per family of four. But the citizens of most strife-torn countries live in less expensive homes than Israelis, making compensated population transfers a cheap alternative to war.

    The other alternative is to let nature take its course and “give war a chance”. Seal the borders, arm our allies and let ’em duke it out until the worst man wins. That might will make right. Edward Luttwak outlines the real political benefits of cathartic carnage:

    AN UNPLEASANT truth often overlooked is that although war is a great evil,it does have a great virtue: it can resolve political conflicts and leadto peace. This can happen when all belligerents become exhausted or when one wins decisively.

    Either way the key is that the fighting must continue until a resolution is reached. War brings peace only after passing a culminating phase of violence. Hopes of military success must fade for accommodation to become more attractive than further combat.

    Too MANY wars nowadays become endemic conflicts that never end because the transformative effects of both decisive victory and exhaustion are blocked by outside intervention…It might be best for all parties to let minor wars burn themselves out.

  22. derrida derider – “It’s time for the classic ending for failed imperial ventures – partition followed by an exchange of populations.”

    However which partition get the oil?

  23. Ender Says: July 25th, 2006 at 12:30 pm

    However which partition get the oil?

    That is the 6.4 trillion dollar question. If the Suunis get pushed out of Shiite areas, and vice-versa, then the Shiites will end up with most of the oil.

    I dont think there is much point playing favourites here. There are no good parties in the ME. And no one ever went broke overestimating the degree of political depravity that the region is capable of.

  24. I gave my overview, Zoot. It was more substantive than your bug out and quit theory. What a yawn, Katz. Australia has been federated for more than a hundred years and its Head of State is still a German housewife who lives in England. These conundrums take time to work through. Hysteria isn’t the answer.

    Iraq is a sovereign nation at international law. It has no “insurgents” – only terrorists. Armaniac praises Bill Clinton’s smarts. This is the man who once killed a lot of people in Sudan (and, reportedly, an Al Qaeda camel) so as to divert people’s attention away from Monica Lewinski. He was a profoundly unserious President whose place in American history is already inconsequential. He was correct, however, in inaugurating the policy of removing Saddam Hussein from office. Less right about rendition, which he also inaugurated.

    As I said, Saddam is under indictment for genocide and it’s now time for the left to apologise for its tacit support for this monster. If they believe the war was “illegal,” let them call for his reinstatement to power. Watch, though: none of them ever do. That’s the chickenhawk left.

  25. Gordon,

    There is no military solution to winning hearts and minds, but that is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about foresight. An understanding of what we are facing and a determination to do what it takes to diffuse that bomb. It is not completely necessary for there to be a full blown regional conflict on up the escalating chain, but that looks pretty likely (Turkey may not even wait for us to pull out). Certainly Iran also knows what is in the balance. In any case, the naive who would proffer the idea that everyone will hold hands and figure it out if the US just leave are smoking too much of their own product.

  26. “it’s now time for the left to apologise for its tacit support for this monster”

    This obviously has to be said very very simply, since you haven’t already picked up on it, but most of Saddam’s monstering occurred with the full backing of the US Government. I’ll wait for them to apologise first.

  27. Yo CL!

    Hysterical, moi?

    CL Mark 1:

    ““Sheer cowardiceâ€? was the Latham policy – he didn’t even make provision for the protection of Australian officials. Traitorous lunatic.”

    CL Mark 2:

    “Hysteria isn’t the answer.”

    The syndrome is called “projection”. It is curable.

    The precise nature of Australian sovereignty isn’t at issue here (although CL may think that it is.)

    The issue is Iraq’s sovereignty. And unless the US reacts hysterically to Iraq’s resolution in the UN, they’ll get their sovereignty back in the normal, non-hysterical method, as stipulated by international law.

    Do you recall any mention of international law CL?

    Once upon a time only outlaw nations asserted that they were above international law.

  28. “Saddam’s monstering occurred with the full backing of the US Government. I’ll wait for them to apologise first.”

    True, but he got even more support from the Soviet Union and France.

    Saddam got widespread support because he was seen as less bad than the mad mullahs of Iran, a judgement that was suspended 1990-2003, but which may be coming back into fashion.

    Saddam was bad, but the Iranians are bad and mad. They now control large parts of Iraq and its government, and are projecting their influence throughout the Middle East.

    Getting rid of Saddam was supposed to help Israel with its security, among other things. It’s done exactly the opposite. The 2003 war was a huge strategic blunder, which has also cost tens of thousands of lives.

  29. Not “the opposite” at all. In fact the Arab nations are more convinced than ever that their joint interests are served by Iran being stymied. That’s why the Arab League stunned the world by condemning Hezbollah. Tehran’s proxy war against Israel – there’s your strategic blunder.

  30. “it’s now time for the left to apologise for its tacit support for this monster.” – CL

    Applause for notable display of hypocrisy and audacity.

    It’s interesting that CL thinks the majority of the Western world belongs to the ‘left’. Is he just trying to make me feel good?

  31. Iraq is a sovereign nation at international law. It has no “insurgentsâ€? – only terrorists.

    non sequitur much?

    perhaps to formulate a sensible reply to the main post here, it would help if your delicate mind sort of re-imagined it a bit. for your benefit, i suggest replacing all references to “insurgents” with the politically-correct “terrorists”; and for “civil war”, why not substitute “sectarian terrorism”.

    now, the point is:

    This development seems to finally mark the point beyond which slogans like “stay the course� make no sense any more. “Stay the course� presumed that the problem was [terrorism] that could be defeated by the Iraqi government, given sufficient backing. Whether or not that was ever feasible, given the way in which the occupation acted as a recruiting agency for the [terrorists], is now irrelevant. The forces driving the [sectarian terrorism] are as much inside the government as outside. The occupying forces are doing nothing to stop it, and it’s not obvious that they can do anything.

    what do you propose be done about this? i mean aside from objecting to the description of our troops as “occupying forces”.

  32. “Getting rid of Saddam was supposed to help Israel with its security, among other things. It’s done exactly the opposite. The 2003 war was a huge strategic blunder, which has also cost tens of thousands of lives.” – Spiros.

    Maybe, maybe not. Some Israeli strategists have long held the hope that Iraq should disintegrate into 3 smaller ethnic areas. But that is just the first step in their wish-list. This then leads onto a similiar process in Iran, and even Egypt.

    you usually have some well-reasoned opinions. Any thoughts on ‘what next’ in Iraq?

  33. Iranians aren’t Arabs, they are Persians. ‘Palestinian’ is not a synonym for Moslem, however much Jack Strocchi might like to thinks so. The ME has been a playground for western imperial powers for well over a century and a half. People living there actually know their own history, even if the likes of CL etc do not, or choose not to.

    Despite the well ventilated contempt expressed by the right here and elsewhere for both Arabs and Muslims (no Jack, they are not synonymous), the irritiating (for the right that is) reality, is that people who happen to live in the ME, like people who live here and in Europe, usually resent, often violently, outside interference in their affairs, collaboration of domestic tyrants with outsiders in order to preserve the tyrants domestic power, and the assumption by the powerful that might makes right. The tragedy of the ME is not its people (as Jack seems to be saying). It lies in the fact that it it sits on oil, rather than fields of broccholi.

    Here’s another thing. Actions speak louder than words. Claptrap about ‘democracy freedom blah blah blah’. cuts no ice when all around you the bringers of enlightenment to a ‘barbaric world’ in all its Kiplingest glory, are either dropping bombs, supporting other people who drop bombs, or are explaining why ‘our bombs are good bombs’ and their bombs are ‘bad bombs’. Wake up to yourselves, you rascist creeps.

  34. Jack – “If the Suunis get pushed out of Shiite areas, and vice-versa, then the Shiites will end up with most of the oil.”

    Not forgetting the Kurds in the North with the large oilfields there near Kikurk. The Shia and Sunnis are not the only factions that would want their own partition. Turkey DOES NOT want an independent kurdish nation to its south and has actively campaigned against such a thing. A shia partition would immediately align with Iran and create a greater shia ‘problem’ that we have now. Remember that Iran is already a major oil and gas supplier – gaining control of the fields in Iraq’s south by proxy would give them immense leverage over the US. Maybe enough to force them to abandon the 3 major air force bases they have built.

  35. Snuh, I can’t follow your grammar-free gibberish. Apologies.

    Not sure what Michael is talking about either – majorities in the Western world etc.

    Howard, Bush, Blair: re-elected.

  36. You can add to the throw-the-towel-in list Afghanistan – no oil or broccoli but lots of dope.

    And Lebanon, they have rejected the proposed ceasefire (by “they” I mean Syria via Lebanese speaker Nabih Berri)

    Fortunately there is enough commitment to see this through, there really are no alternatives.

  37. it’s quite simple.

    1. “Iraq is a sovereign nation at international law. It has no “insurgentsâ€? – only terrorists.” is a non sequitur, as sovereign nations can face insurgencies.

    2. not that point 1 even matters, because even if you describe those bad people in iraq as “terrorists”,* the problem they present nevertheless continues to exist. and regardless of word-choice, this problem nevertheless continues to require some sort of strategic re-assessment, given that under the present “stay the course” strategy, things keep getting worse.

    *or even if you blame it all on “the left”, or even if you call latham a “Traitorous lunatic” etc etc.

  38. Thanks for the invite Michael H.

    You may be aware that hitherto I have opined that the immediate future of Iraq is more subject to the US political cycle than the dynamics of the situation on the ground.

    Iraq is certain to be a major issue in the forthcoming mid-term elections, due to be held in November.

    My previous confidence that these elections would be a no-brainer winner for the Dems has now dissipated somewhat. The Dems have be weak and pusillaminous in their attack on Bush’s policies. Thus I believe it to be quite likely that the GOP will suffer minimal damage.

    Because of the relative absence of terrified incumbent Republicans, Bush will not be required to trim his policies in Iraq. He’ll be able to stay on message with his “stay the course” rhetoric. And there will be no powerful congressional pressure to withdraw or for that matter to alter his present approach to Iraq.

    This may have some consequences in the form of street demonstrations etc., in the US. But this posible direct action will have little influence.

    In the meantime, of course, fratricidal slaughter will continue in Iraq. Perhaps Bush’s policy revolves around the US hunkering down and waiting for exhaustion to overcome Iraqi forces.

    However, if one is to believe Riverbend, the Shiites have almost succeeded in bringing about a cultural and social revolution right under the noses of the Americans. The Sunni middle class have gone into exile or have gone to ground.

    The Shiites are themselves divided over the future of Iraq. Some want the US to stay under more restrictive conditions (see my earliest post in this thread). Some want the US to leave.

    To summarise:

    Bush has no reason to leave so long as staying looks statesmanlike.

    The Dems can’t frighten the Reps into demanding that the US leave.

    Anti-occupation forces in the US are weak.

    The Shiites are divided over the presence of the COW. Some see the COW as being useful idiots, or perhaps hostages.

    Iran is in no hurry to attempt to force the US to change its stance in Iraq.

    As others have said, it is politically impossible for Kurdistan to declare independence.

    And it is practically impossible for the Sunni regions to declare independence.

    The US does not have the will or the wherewithal to impose a peace on Iraq.

    Therefore, in summary, it seems that Iraq is in for a season of suffering under the noses of COW troops at least until G. W. Bush steps out of the White House in January 2009.

    And after that, Iraq will possibly decline into a chaotic and ramshackle theocracy with a facade of western-style constitutionalism as a Potemkin Village to show off to visiting US Republican figures and representatives of Right Wing Think tanks.

  39. funny isnt it, the way these things play out,
    jq says, “Given that the occupation has produced nothing but disaster”

    disaster for whom? ordinary iraqis for sure,
    but the ruling elite in america, i dont think so, its all going swimmingly,
    and israel, its mission accomplished for them in iraq,

    from Oded Yinon’s, “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties”
    (ISBN 0-937694-56-8)

    Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north. It is possible that the present Iranian-Iraqi confrontation will deepen this polarization.

    oded yinon wrote this in 1982,
    whilst israel was funding iran, and the yanks were funding iraq,
    its time you guys cleaned your glasses,
    the bush administartion is not incompetent, at home and abroad it is acheiving its goals,
    the israeli attack of lebanon was very well calculated,
    the use of force is not disproportionate to the aims

  40. oh yeah, and another thing, what were those two sas men in basra doing dressed as arabs with a car full of explosives
    why was the Askariya mosque teeming with us troops and iraqi ‘policemen’ before it was blown to pieces in samarra
    why did Abu Musab al-Zarqawi sometimes have a wooden leg, sometimes not,
    not seem to know how to operate a gun even though he’d been leading the resistance for years
    wear goledn rings in the videos which strict muslims dont do,
    have trouble speaking in his own language in some videos
    what bullshit,
    nevermind that the us military described ‘zarqawi’ as their most successful psyops of the iraq war about a month before they ‘killed’ him

  41. Katz is still ignoring the “season of suffering” endured under Saddam.

    I’m still waiting for someone to call for his reinstatement, by the way. After all, the invasion was “illegal.” Major credit to the first lefty with the courage of his or her convictions on this.

    Three years since the invasion – ONE Australian parliamentary term. It took HALF A CENTURY for our own governmental system to emerge from squabbling paralysis. What ever happened to the greats of American liberalism who – like JFK – believed we should “pay any price and bear any burden” for the survival and defence of liberty?

    Well, they’re the channel flippers who think three years is too long to endure for any programme.

  42. CL has powerful fixations.

    In addition to his projection manifested above, he has had a relapse of dualism.

    “Katz is still ignoring the “season of sufferingâ€? endured under Saddam.”

    OK this is for CL.

    Yo, CL!

    Saddam is a fascist brute. He killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. He poisoned whole villages. He invaded his neighbours without provocation.

    Part of the time he did these things against the desires of the United States. Part of the time he did it with the consent and the support of the United States. He deserves severe punishment for the crimes for which he will be found guilty.

    And he deserves severe punishment for the crimes for which he will not be found guilty. He won’t be found guilty of some of his crimes because he will not be tried for the crimes committed with the consent and support of the United States.

    So CL. I’m williing to condemn Saddam for all his crimes. Do you want his US sponsored crimes to be decided in a proper court of law? Or are you a mere apologist?

    And while I’m here, an answer to CL’s crie de coeur (if you’ll pardon the French CL):

    “What ever happened to the greats of American liberalism who – like JFK – believed we should “pay any price and bear any burden””

    Ever heard of Vietnam? And while we’re on the subject of chicken hawks, you write with all the testosteronal machismo of a fightin’ man. Easily fit enough to mix it with the moribunds and amputees of Chimpo’s ragtag whipping boys in Iraq.

    Here’s a perfect opportunity for you to bear personally, by enlisting, a bit of liberty’s price and burden.

    And enlistment is a short cut to US citizenship. What a perfect opportunity for an American manque like your good self.

    I’ll be looking forward to your eloquent despatches from the Central Front ofthe Beacon of Hope.

    Hooo aaah!

    What? Still here CL?

  43. Katz is guilty of this fixation that if the US has a relationship with a sovereign state and that sovereign state commits crimes then by somew process crimes are sponsored by the US.

    This is as nonsensical as saying that CentreLink sponsors criminal activity amongst the unemployed.

    Guilt by association is the stuff of schoolyards.

  44. Let’s not forget why the war on Iraq started. It was, as Rupert Murdoch opined, about “oil at $20 a barrel”. Remember how the museum was looted in Iraq but somehow, the US managed to guard the oil? I can’t see any withdrawal without getting their hands on that prize, all in the name of defending the Iraqi’s and bringing good ole red white n blue democracy to the region of course.

  45. Rog,

    I guess you don’t have much time for Fritz Fischer’s explanation of the causes of the Great War.

    If only the world had gone to Rog for his explanation of the status of “guilt by association”, silly old Fritz would never have got a job in a junior college.

  46. Not really katz, unless you want to try and draw parallels between pre WW1 Germany and Iraq, and I still dont have too much time.

  47. Chris Shannon says that the war on Iraq was started by, in Rupert Murdoch’s opinion…

    ….Rupert Murdoch has now been elevated from tits and bums tabloid to global sage.

    When did this happen?

  48. Happy to oblige Rog.

    This is the crucial document according to Fischer. the so-called “blank cheque” for the Austrian Empire:

    The argument goes this way. Austria wanted to punish Serbia, but was scared of Russia.

    Germany’s “blank cheque” gave Austria confidence to punish Serbia, which they did with notorious results.

    But for Germany’s guarantee, it is argued, Austria would never have gone to war with Serbia.

    It would be worthwhile to test in a court of law whether but for the US Saddam would never have gone to war against the much bigger and more powerful Iran.

    Does Saddam have a version of an American “blank cheque” in one of his files?

    This argument is debatable, but “schoolyard” stuff? Hardly.

  49. So I take it that CL doesn’t want Saddam’s relations with the US tested in a court of law.


  50. I’m not sure how a court would test “relations.”

    Anyhoo, I’ve got no particular objection to Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton being led away in handcuffs. Bring it on!


  51. Yes CL. It’d be a good start. Who knows. Making US presidents do the perp walk could catch on.


  52. Ideas on ‘what do do now’ aren’t exactly coming thick and fast.

    Understandable given the range of problems. Would it help to focus on a smaller problem – how to stop Iraq becoming Afghanistan MkII.

  53. I would have thought the democratically elected government of Iraq would be in the best position to judge these matters and as far as I’m aware they’re all for us staying the course at present, with a view to staged withdrawals and handovers, which have already begun in places like Al Muthanna province recently. Professor Quiggin just doesn’t understand the finer nuances of Islamic culture and the way they go about negotiating these things in their own inimitable way. Their way of course transcends the base grubbiness of Western racism and infidel imperialism,10117,19896348-401,00.html

  54. That’s one of the longest bows I’ve seen drawn in a long while Katz, you should aim for Bejing.

  55. Mission accomplished pretty soon in UN Afghanistan by the looks of things.,10117,19885280-401,00.html
    Laura Norder’s all the democratic rage these days it seems.

    My take is we should stay in Iraq as long as Afghanistan, with the proviso their respective govts want us there. When you think about the raw material we had to work with in both countries, they’ve turned out remarkably well so far. Better than East Timor you might say, but then we should have known better than to trust an old Fretilin lefty with the democratic reigns of power.

  56. wtf is a “truckler”? kids today…

    anyway, still not sure why CL is insisting we call for saddam’s reinstatement. or why katz and CL have decided trading insults is a productive way to argue.

  57. CL,

    Stupid is as stupid does and never was the cosmic symmetry of the two more evident than by the person and policy of one George W. Bush. I suppose it is your tacit admission of the bankruptcy of your failed political ideology- not to mention the bankruptcy of cerebrum in the persons supporting it- that you attempt to ascribe the names of legitimate presidents to an Iraq policy clearly the sole province of the farcical frat boy now slumping in the oval office chair. Just fyi, the ploy is clumsy, transparent and patently unsupported by what we in the reality based community know as “evidence”.

    First of all Bill Clinton didn’t and had no plans to invade Iraq. In 100 years, the probability of a Bill Clinton led government invading Iraq is approximately zero (in spite of his record of appeasing the crazies in the DOD who now double as George Bush’s brain by ordering a few sorties). End of story. As we’re talking about Clinton, it should be pointed out that his Vice President and rightful successor was against the invasion authored by the current set of frauds.

    Second of all, the profoundly inane “War on Terror” is not the Cold War. It is the fruition of having mindless zombies with a lack of respect for life and liberty both here and abroad running a country. Had the dumbfounded reader of My Pet Goat, with mental horse power matching the protagonist of that story bothered to take the intelligence reports of the summer of 2001 seriously, including the memo “Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States”, then there wouldn’t be so many ninnies claiming that terrorism is the greatest threat anyone’s ever faced because 3000 some odd people wouldn’t have died on that day, (for further reference, see video tape of said stupified individual being debriefed on the “big one” headed for New Orleans). It is only the combination of extreme incompetence such as embodied by Bush and people who support him AND terrorism that’s dangerous.

    By contrast the rivalry with the Soviet Union was a real threat, and one that only narrowly did not lead to mutual annihilation on a number of occasions. This explains largely the profound difference between Iraq and Vietnam (though their are similarities, notably in the lack of international support for both). Vietnam shared with Iraq a real futility, however, at least in Vietnam we had a reason to be there (though, just btw, JFK had started drawing down troops by the time he was assassinated). By contrast, there is absolutely no justification for our being in Iraq in the first place.

    Long story short CL, the time when people took the hysterical, fallacious rants of the crazies seriously has past. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you lot have gone the way of the Dodo.

  58. =”I’m still waiting for someone to call for his reinstatement, by the way. After all, the invasion was “illegal.â€? Major credit to the first lefty with the courage of his or her convictions on this.”=

    Preposterous. Reinstatement can’t bring back 30,000 odd lives.

    If it could, and would bring complete and instant peace to Iraq, would I support it? Rather a bizarre moot point, but I’m happy to go with the absurd hypothetical…

    Well lets say as a good policy maker I’ll consult extensively with people who were victims of Saddam’s regime. Then I’ll consult with people who’ve lost loved ones among the 30,000 odd.

    Having a punt I’d say the people begging on their knees for the return of their lost children, wives, husbands would far outnumber the others, and I suspect that yes I would hit that magic button.

    Proposing his reinstatement when all the damage has been done and is in fact irreversible is quite loopy. With respect.

  59. =”What ever happened to the greats of American liberalism who – like JFK – believed we should “pay any price and bear any burdenâ€? for the survival and defence of liberty?”=

    Clinically psychopathic nonsense, an affront to nature. What value liberty when you, your family, and all those around you are dead?

    Typical form over substance tosh from the country where you may never have more than 0.01% of getting out of the ghetto, but you have total ‘liberty’ to do so.

  60. Snuh and Armaniac,

    Our dogmatic interlocutor CL may have a point about reinstating Saddam.

    And it was CL who provided the clue. It should come as no surprise that “CL” stands for Currency Lad. And that, as the last living member of the DLP (if you call that living) he runs an eponymous blog. I sincerely hope that he also has a day job.

    Currency Lads were Australian-born offspring of the British settlements in NSW. And this was the key.

    One of the early Governors of NSW was Capt. William Bligh, incidentally probably the best known Australian leader world-wide. In terms of fame the Rodent has a lot of catching up to do on Capt. Bligh.

    Now it is well known in Australia that Bligh was ousted by the Rum Corps during the Rum Rebellion.

    This did not sit well with British authorities, who accepted it as an uwelcome fait accompli.

    However, Bligh’s successor Gov Lachlan Macquarie was instructed by the British government to reinstate Gov Bligh for one day.

    The thinking of the British government was very sound. They wished to demonstrate to the world that they disapprobated illegal usurpation and mutiny.

    Now let us fast forward to Iraq 2006.

    What a significant gesture wold it be for the present government of Iraq to reinstate Saddam for one day to demonstrate their sovereign independence from the United States. Moreover this gesture would demonstrate to the world the recognition of the government of Iraq that the COW invasion was illegal.

    Thereafter of course, Saddam might well be put on trial for all his crimes, including those he committed with the connivance of various US administrations. What may then happen to Saddam is a matter of little interest so far as I am concerned.

    I’d like to thank CL for suggesting this courageous course of action.

    Dominus vobiscum CL.

  61. I’m trying really hard to try and understand how the arrest of Bill Clinton is going to stop the civil war/conflict in Iraq. Unless he’s some sort of terrorist insurgent in Iraq right now, I don’t think arresting him will do much. 😐

    As for Iraq, there are a couple of options to increase the progress in stopping the bloodshed. One is to partition Iraq into seperate countries for seperate religious sects. As Professor Quiggan points out in the original comment, Iraq is already partitioned along sectarian lines. Perhaps it is time to recognise that there is no “unified Iraq” and go from there.

  62. For the CLs and their doppelgangers of this world, meaning and purpose can only be derived from binaries like ‘left/right’, ‘good/bad’ and the like. That is why they are so keen to squeeze the curent imbroglio into the box called ‘cold war’. Complexity, ambiguity and the like must never be ‘permitted’ lest the whole edifice collapse beneath the weight of having to wrestle with the real world.

    The other good thing about this is that sceaming hysterically about the next threat acts as a way of ‘herding’ people into a corral where political passivity and ‘right thoughts’ may be properly patrolled. It is so obvious, so boring, so tiresome and so predictable.

  63. On the update, PrQ – maybe those of us who supported, and still do support, the invasion have made our points time and again on threads like this here and are tired of not being listened to or treated like we are blood thirsty war mongers.
    Just conjecture – and this will be my last and only comment on this subject – until a new angle pops its head up.

  64. AR, I can recall lots of comments from you supporting the war, and criticising its opponents. My quick search doesn’t reveal any occasion on which you or any other commenter here has been referred to as a warmonger or as ‘bloodthirsty’.

    More importantly, if you’ve made any suggestions about what to do now beyond “stay the course” I can’t recall them. Perhaps you could just post links to the suggestions I’ve missed.

  65. What to do? Depends who you are. If you are a middle-class Sunni then you get you and your family to Jordan and Syria asap.

    If you are a US soldier you get a nice solid internet connection because you are going to be guarding those oil bases for another thirty years.

    If you’re an Iraqi child just starting out on life’s path, you develop all sorts of pathological defenses to the horrors that surround you – and at the age of 25 you either go mad and cash it all in with some or other desperate act of martyrdom – or else you keep your thoughts to yourself, hug your own children tightly each night – and watch them grow into a hopeful life.

    Something that you know was denied to you by the psychopathic greed of the USA in 2003 when it unleashed the centrifugal forces of bloodshed that built inexorably over the decades while colonising powers used your country as a strategic resource.

    I fervently wish that Saddam was left in power in March 2003 and that this invasion and occupation had not happened then.

  66. warring statelets, at least some of which will be terrorist havens.

    It’s difficult to be positive, other than by saying “get out yesterday”, but once we’ve done that I think a lot will hinge on the above phrase.

    What Hamas and Hezbollah have in common that they don’t share with Al Qaeda is a national agenda. Even though it is wholly or partly driven by hatred of Israel, it is centrally related to the process of state formation in their own locality. AQ on the other hand has a global agenda in which terror seems to be the end rather than the means (well I’m exaggerating, but AQ is a very loose network, from both a practical and a doctrinal point of view, and it is not clear that we gain anything by associating every single terrorist act with them).

    If the warring statelets in Iraq are focussed on each other, rather than some nebulous global ‘clash of civilizations’, then why not let them shoot it out. It’s their country and we can’t do worse than we’re doing now.

    Even if they do turn out to be allied with AQ, it is long past the time when a different strategy needed to be pursued on that front. Dr Rice would do well to start by talking to Hamas and Hezbollah – not just delivering imperious demands via middlemen. This is because I think that the experience of humiliation is at the root of their causes.

    The US has now lost complete control of the agenda. As an Israeli said on my radio last night. Rice is the weakest envoy the US has sent to the Middle East since the Second World War. Not her personally, but at present, the US has nothing to offer anybody (largely because of who they refuse to talk to).

  67. PrQ,
    I have tried to avoid critising those, like yourself, who disagree with me. I may disagree with the arguments, but I hope that I have managed to keep it off the personal level. There have only been (as far as I can recall) two commenters who I have in any way abused without apology and I believe that, for both of them, the comments have been well measured.
    As for bloodthirsty warmongers – I did say “treated like”, leaving me some weasel room on the exact wording.
    Personally, I think it has all been said. The invasion went well, the aftermath has been a disaster. Was it pre-destined? We will have to differ.
    The future – personally, I think walking away from the mess and throwing in a few more weapons (as I think has been suggested above) would lead to a humanitarian nightmare. Sealing the borders, when they are with Syria, Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan is not really an option either.
    As you say it has to be something other than “staying the course” and doing our best to work it out, short of leaving them to it I can’t think of anything else. But I will give it some thought.

  68. Andrew – your division of the Iraq war into the invasion and the aftermath leaves me shaking my head. This strategem enables you to feel vindicated for you pro-invasion stance without having to admit for consideration the nightly horror show on TV.

    I accept that you were not a blood-thirsty warmonger. Nevertheless you were a misguided warmonger. You must be prepared to reap that which now grows before you.

    Many are now paying for the catastrophe of US imperial adventure with their children’s lives. We here can at least be honest in our assessments of the totality of the situation.

    The invasion went horribly wrong.

  69. “The invasion went well, the aftermath has been a disaster.”

    This sums up the limits of American power quite well. The ability of their military to kill people and destroy things is probably greater than all of the rest of the world put together. So far, so easy. Their ability to impose stable political structures on other countries, let alone democratic societies, is very weak.

    Strangely, after WWII, the Americans’ relative military strength was much less, yet they were clever enough to see to it that American democratic values were permanently ingrained in Western Europe and Japan. Perhaps the Americans running the show then were smarter than the ones running the show today.

  70. Funny today in Washington ,to see the Cretin-in Chief actually expected “His” Iraqi PM to refrain from attacking Israeli nazi-type Blitzkreig on Lebanon.
    He didn’t know of course(or could even understand!) that Maliki,and Hezbollah are all Shiites!,and Maliki wasn’t going to speak ill of Hezibollah.
    Actually,the attack on Maliki by 3 Democrat Senators for his attack on Israel was par for the course,although the Senator from New York,a rabid Zionist, (No Not Hillary,,the other one!)was almost beside himself at the idea of Maliki criticizing Israel.
    The growing anxiety among Israel Amen Lobby,is interesting to watch,as it slowly dawns on them that they in deep trouble,and that world opinion is absolutely alienated.
    A poll by CNN in the USA showed a 2-1 votes against Israel…and even bigger margins in the UK and Europe.
    A poll in the Arab world a few days showed up to a 99% vote of admiration for Hizbollah.
    No wonder Israel wants a peace-keeping force..perhaps the Germans will oblige ..or the Turks might come ,,shades of the Ottaman empire!

  71. Sounds like the consensus is that Muslims aren’t ready for democracy, so we shouldn’t listen to or take any advice from their democratically elected govts that now exist in Iraq and Afghanistan. Much better to deal pragmatically with the ‘friendly’ dictators from time to time and actively campaign and support ‘our’ particular bastards. Of course that necessarily entails pushing their ethnically, economically or theocratically cleansed refugees back across the borders to ‘sort themselves out’ in their own way. After all we don’t want to be complicit in any of that cleansing and besides these dictatorships will need their best and brightest to ‘sort themselves out’ in the longer term. As well we don’t want anymore Muslims in our countries until such time as Islam has ‘sorted itself out’ fully, since clearly Muslims are not ready for our civilisation yet. I take it we’re all agreed then? That is one major benefit of the Iraq and Afghanistan ventures. The big questions about Islam have now been answered eh?

  72. “Strangely, after WWII, the Americans’ relative military strength was much less, yet they were clever enough to see to it that American democratic values were permanently ingrained in Western Europe and Japan. Perhaps the Americans running the show then were smarter than the ones running the show today.”

    You don’t reckon it was the material they’re working with now Spiros? You know- ‘ A poll in the Arab world a few days showed up to a 99% vote of admiration for Hizbollah.’ and the consensus forming around here that Saddam was the best option. You gotta take your hat off to Bush, Blair and Co. They asked the bloody big questions and got some Almighty answers it seems.

  73. You like many of the boofheads here just don’t like the big answers staring you in the face Katz, so you’re taking it out on those who asked the questions. Iraq baaaaad Afghanistan gooooood, I ask you! Boofheads clutching at any straw in a raging torrent of facts that state the obvious. Gird your loins for war with Islam. You’re with us and Israel or you’re with them. The only thing that stands in the way of that now is Shia and Sunni factions of Islam taking up the cudgel on our behalf. I’ll keep all my fingers crossed for that.

  74. Please don’t consider it ungrateful, Observa, but with fine chaps like your good self so eager to take up the cudgels on behalf of myself, I wish to convey my regrets that I shall not be attending your kind invitation to a loin-girding.

  75. The race is to see who can get the world on side, the US and Israel vs Iran and Hezbollah.

    Should Israel look as if they are wiping out Hezbollah Iran will provide them with much bigger weaponry, their “trump card.”

    Should Israel take too long and Hezbollah continue to survive the damage to Lebanon will swing opinion against the US and Israel and Iran will have scored a tactical victory. They may even pull Hezbollah’s actions back as part of their “package” but they will run Lebanon.

    Neither scenario appears to hold much appeal.

  76. The race is to see who can get the world on side, the US and Israel vs Iran and Hezbollah.

    Should Israel look as if they are wiping out Hezbollah Iran will provide them with much bigger weaponry, their “trump card.”

    Should Israel take too long and Hezbollah continue to survive the damage to Lebanon will swing opinion against the US and Israel and Iran will have scored a tactical victory. They may even pull Hezbollah’s actions back as part of their “package” but they will run Lebanon.

    Neither scenario appears to hold much appeal.

  77. observa – “Boofheads clutching at any straw in a raging torrent of facts that state the obvious. Gird your loins for war with Islam. You’re with us and Israel or you’re with them”

    And when they are all wiped out and we have recovered all our oil that was inconveniently put under their land the protestants and catholics can restart their centuries old dispute. When either of these manage to wipe each other out then we can start on the black people. And then the redheads ……….

  78. It may be that there is no morally acceptable solution to Iraq’s endemic social conflict. Ethnic sectarianism, Ali Babba crime waves and jihadist holy war appear to be the default condition for Mesopotamian tribes.

    Even though I think the US should quit the country ASAP, and pull up its enduring bases, I do not think that this will cause the conflict to die down.It may just have flare up and splutter for years before it finally dies down to an acceptable level of violence. Its not exactly out of character with that nation and the region’s history, is it?

    There will probably be a no-holds barred bloodbath the moment the last chopper lifts of the rooftop of the US embassy in Baghdad. After all, when the USSR left Afghanistan there was a massive civil war. Ditto France in Algeria.

    Maybe a dictatorial Saddam Hussein “in the box” and a corrupt “Oil for Food” for the population was as good as it gets, until he had a great fall. And it appears that all the kings horses and all the kings men couldnt put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Steve Sailer’s lampooning of the war-party in the WSJ made one year before the war pretty much sum up the pessimism I feel now:

    Iraq? A proud history? What is the WSJ talking about – Sumer? Babylon? … Guatemala, with its Mayan ruins, had a prouder history in the last millennium than Iraq. Iraq has a proud history of backstabbing and cowardice.

    Is there any evidence that the Iraqis are the most likely candidates in the Arab world for restrained self-rule or is this just a delusion to justify a war? Maybe, I’m wrong about Iraq because I’ve been reading Bedouinphiles like T.E. Lawrence and Wilfred Thesiger who despised the Iraqis, but I don’t have a good feeling about Iraq’s future prospects.

    I mean, if you are going to consider the “sophistication” level of the Arab populations, wouldn’t Lebanon be at the top of the list? Wouldn’t the Palestinians be up there too? At least before they launched their on-going “war of the cradle” that is swamping the sophisticated elites with hordes lower-class youngsters? Wasn’t Egypt a be a beacon of culture and tolerance, with a Nobel Prize-winning writer, before the peasants outbred the sophisticates? Isn’t Syria also secular? Doesn’t Jordan at least have a sane monarchy? Isn’t Morocco the favorite destination of French fashion designers looking for boys? Isn’t the Sultan of Oman a huge Gilbert & Sullivan fan?

    One measure of a country’s capacity for self-rule is its warmaking capability. Paradoxically, nation-states that are good at killing their foreign enemies tend to be be cohesive and harmonious at home.

    So, how good is Iraq at fighting its enemies? According to Greg Cochran, war-gamers assign a man-for-man power rating to the armies of the world. Iraq has the lowest rating. In one war, a whole bunch of Iraqi soldiers surrendered to an Italian journalist.

    This delusion could have disastrous consequences after an American invasion. Which Iraq are we talking about? We could easily shatter Iraq into three or more pieces, but if we invade with the notion of making Iraq into a model nation-state, we’re going need more than all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to put Humpty-Dumpty together again. Do we want to fight the Kurds and the Shi’ites to keep Iraq whole, so it can be a good example to the rest of the Middle East?

    Maybe the Shi’ites of the south could rule themselves, but how clear-cut are the demographic borders between Shi’ites and Sunnis? If the two groups overlap, you are headed for trouble. A Shi’ite state on the Iranian border would tempt Iran – a country with much greater potential for becoming a “normal country” than Iraq – into foreign adventurism, which could be fatal to the chances for internal reform.

    And how many tribes are there among the Sunnis?

    It looks to me like the Axis of Evil speech was the direct cause of America now getting stuck waist deep in the Big Muddy River of the ever-lasting Israel-Palestine race war.

  79. whilst we’re talking about “what next for iraq”, the following may be worth keeping in mind:

    Israel launched airstrikes on Lebanon in response to attacks by Hizbullah earlier this month, and George W. Bush called it “self-defense.” But what to tell the Turks, who over the last week lost 15 soldiers to terror attacks launched by separatist Kurds from neighboring Iraq? Many Turkish leaders are pressing for cross-border tactical air assaults on the guerrillas. But Bush, fearing yet another escalation of the Middle East’s violence, urged Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to hold off. “The message was, unilateral action isn’t going to be helpful,” says a senior U.S. official, describing the 15-minute phone conversation. “The president asked for patience.”

  80. Forecasts of a “bloodbath” the moment US forces leave seem to be stated confidently without much elaboration. Aside that it’s not too far removed from that presently, makes you wonder what magical effect US presence is meant to be having right now. Does anyone think that US troops are doing a great job in maintaining security in Iraq?

    The current crises is fueled by numerous factors over which the various groups are striving to maximise their advantage; oil revenues, political power, influence and religion, all spiced up with revenge, tribal politics and desperation.

    The presence of US troops is just one more factor. The Sunni’s want them gone now, so too does a large part of the Shia, with another part happy for them to stay for differing reasons and the Kurds generally supportive. Removal of US troops is one less irritant in the complex mix. One less thing to disagree over.

    There won’t be an outbreak of peace the next day. Likely, there will be no change. But neither will there be a sudden descent into a bloodbath worse than todays.

  81. I recently read the Salam Pax accounts of the start of the war. It made for unsettling reading when it is now clear that staying the course has meant staying too long. One wonders what has happened to the voice of the Iraqi people in their country. There is no Salam Pax now.

    The in-discipline of the American troops and their lack of respect for the Iraqi people was never a winner – just as Israel is now losing support by its over reaction to the kidnap of several troops by bombing the hell out of a democratic nation and in the process murdering children and their mothers.

    A suitably negotiated withdrawal and a recognition that the occupying forces are part of the problem and have not provided a solution would be a welcome first step. Honouring the reconstruction phase would be another. Whilst the Iraqi invasion may not have been about money and oil it certainly continues to look that way. I would like the Western nations involved to begin to act with a lot more ethics and a lot less spin. Honourable behaviour would help a lot.

    The talk of a Crusade has become a self fulfilling prophecy for Bush. This was a brutal age but existed when war could be glamourised. How much harder in an age of communications.

  82. As well as the political and military issues, we need to consider the economic consequences of defeat and occupation as managed by the US. Some insight is here

    Of course, this is not a solution, just an indication of yet more problems…

  83. Meanwhile, Chimpo’s solution is to invade Baghdad, yet again.

    The Bourbon kings, it is said, “learned nothing and forgot nothing”.

    Chimpo thus scores 50% on the cretinometer.

  84. Katz, the solution concept in your historical analogy is elegant. But how is it to be implemented, given that a replication has been spoiled by a truckler? The UN?

  85. We have the Israeli zealot trying to recruit the punters in their ..what is it again, oh yeah “gird our loins” and join the war against radical Islam in Lebanon, and the other moron clutching at the “we got bad Saddam” the only remaining piece of flotsam left a drowning man. (By the way, the Israeli soldiers were detained, captured, nabbed while they were INSIDE Lebanon. They were not “kidnapped”-but so what? Who gives a damn anyway and if they did what about it?. Just as the US really has accomplished their mission in Iraq, the rest of the story long planned is unfolding in Lebanon. In Churchillian terminology adopted by the little war criminal that could, Olmert, the soft underbelly of Syria that is Lebanon will be secured …”Iran is the World’s problem” .And we’re sitting here debating whether the Middle east is in fact capable of running itself…. Obviously not , that ‘s why we’re running the joint or deputising Israel when necessary.

  86. Thanks EG. And excellent question.

    The following scenario requires some insight and enightened self interest on the part of the sovereign government of Iraq.

    1. Saddam Hussein must be kept alive until the government of Iraq can act independently of the desires of the United States administration. I believe that the forthcoming vote in the UN rescinding the immunity of US personnel in Iraq may serve as the moment, one way or another, for that moment of sovereignty to arrive.

    2. The present trial of the Saddamites is declared by its judges to be a mistrial.

    3. Saddam Hussein is reinstated as President.

    4. He is immediately deposed.

    5. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission along the lines of South Africa’s is established. People with grievances and accusations present them to the Commission. The accusers confront the accused. Forgiveness may be achieved by malefactors who make the fullest disclosures of wrongdoing and crimes. Less than full disclosure to result in criminal prosecution to the fullest rigour of the law.

    6. The findings to serve as a means to begin nation-building on the basis of truth.

    Iraqi groups themselves may not want this procedure. They may prefer to fight their civil war to the bitter end. It’s up to them.

    But I hope that I have suggested how the UN can be made redundant in this process.

  87. By the current government Rog.

    Read further up-thread for the historical parallel of Governor Bligh of NSW.

    This is simply a symbolic gesture of the government of Iraq to signify that they have divested themselves of the US timetable and strategy for the New Iraq.

    The hard work comes after that.

    And I hope that it is understood that I believe the likelihood of Iraq avoiding a very bloody civil war is quite low.

    Nevertheless, perhaps the course of action I suggest may increase those chances for a relatively peaceful resolution.

  88. Katz, the Bligh analogy for (re)deposing Saddam Hussein doesn’t apply. Under any concept of legitimacy, Bligh had authority derived from the UK, which acted under that. But the current Iraqi regime is the analogue of the Rum Rebellion, and could not have the necessary legitimacy to depose what it had overthrown de facto. That is, the only way for Saddam Hussein’s departure to be credible in the eyes of any who supported him would be, if he voluntarily resigned – not if anyone else acted. There is no separate source of authority over him that is recognised by his supporters.

    That said, the workable arrangement would have been to keep him on ice indefinitely pending a trial when circumstances permitted – something that would never come, absent a recognised legitimate and stable authority. Eventually the problem would have gone away. It’s like what Algeria did to Boumedienne.

  89. Not true PML.

    Legitmacy ≠ credibility.

    The present Iraqi regime has the legitimacy of international recognition by the United Nations.

    In other words, their legitimacy is equal and identical to that of the government of Israel.

    The analogue for the Rum Rebels in Iraq was the Provisional Authority of Proconsul Paul Bremer. That regime was the caesura in Iraqi’s legitimacy.

    The act of restoring Saddam would heal over that caesura.

    By your argument the Communist government of China isn’t legitimate because it overthrew Chiang, who in turn wasn’t legitimate because ,,, etc., etc.

    I grant you the issue of credibility. However, it is unlikely that a majority even of the Sunni would be keen to see the return of Saddam.

    The gesture–and it is only a gesture–we are discussing may well not be a sufficiently concessionary one to win over even the Sunni who aren’t Saddam loyalists.

    In any case, the genesis of this argument came from a dare made by CL way above that someone propose the restoration of Saddam. My overall aim is modest: to show that restoration may be conceivable, if not feasible.

  90. Katz, thanks for your elaborations. The role of the UN in your insight drawn from history has been clarified – at least in my mind. So far, the solution concept in your historical analogy is still the only one that captures what I see as a crucial aspect of the multidimensional problem. Hence I won’t let go that easily – out of curiosity really. Switching now from the historical inspiration of the concept to the actual problem – but without becoming prescriptive – a conceivable solution would require feasibility (theoretically). In short, are there feasibility conditions that are empirically ‘testable’ in the sense of, say, indicator variables? It seems to me, the support of the population for the idea would need to be explored. This is an empirical problem which does not require a historical president.

  91. Sorry, a correction: Please replace ‘president’ with ‘precedent’ in the above.

  92. I still think a three state solution can work. That would leave the problem of Shi’ites in Baghdad, but at least two states (Kurdistan, South Iraq) can move forward into some sort of future and the occupation would be restricted to one section (the sunni section including baghdad).

    As for how to deal with “North Iraq”, I think the dynamics would change quite considerably once they where under a sunni leadership (probably including ex-baathists). The remaining problem would be an Iran backed al-Sadr army. Perhaps they could be convinced to back down over time and with some useful contributions from South Iraq and Iran (who would obviously be allies in a shi’ite theocracy).

    If not, then the US would have to ally with the Baathists in their war against the “terrorists/freedom fighters”, which is exactly how we got Saddam in the first place. By being ruthless I imagine it would be possible for the Baathists to keep the Medhi army in check… though that would require the west to turn a blind eye to potentially dodgy tactics. The Baathists of North Iraq could probably get themselves militarily organised within a year or so — and then the occupation could end.

    The benefits of a multi-state solution to the west is that it triples the possibility that there will be a pro-western ally in the region and it shrinks the size of the shi’ite theocracy that will presumably team up with Iran. Each country will be less able to cause trouble for any other country.

    The potential big downside is that Iran and South Iraq attempt to invade North Iraq… but I don’t think Iran is up for that now and I don’t think the (predominantely sunni) arab world would approve.

    How’s that for some ideas? A better idea is that we don’t get into this miss in the first place. The manifest stupidity of this war would be comical if the consequences weren’t so dire.

  93. Katz [7.50pm om 29th]:
    Interesting scenario. Could see Saddam Hussein being reinstated after many backroom deals and severe restrictions on his powers by those who actually run what’s left of the country.

    The Americans, or rather the Bush clique of born losers, failed to act swiftly and decisively and we will all pay a dreadful price for their dithering and cowardice..

  94. What exactly are you saying Graham, should the swiftly and decisive action have been summary execution?

    The principle involved here is one of the law.

    Katz and co are indulging in online masturbation.

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