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« ESA photos of ‘Face on Mars’ help clear up mystery | Main | Gasoline in Pennsylvania: $2.15 a gallon »

September 27, 2006

Comments

Mike Johnson

No, Bush's objections don't make sense. They're bullshit. Here is what Bush said in relation to the simple truth:

(1) We’re still not sure exactly when Iraqi security forces will be ready to defend Iraq’s new democracy on their own.

"We", meaning the Pentagon and White House leadership, can see that Iraqi security forces have no real loyalty to any American interest in Iraq, only (sometimes) a marriage of convenience. "Not sure exactly when they will be ready" should actually be: There is no evidence that they will ever do what we want except when we command them, and even then only sometimes.

(2) If we reveal a pull-out date, insurgents would lay low and stockpile arms until the U.S. troops left, and then they’d try a massive attack on the infant Iraqi army.

Iraq is in the middle of a vicious civil war. No faction has any reason to "lay low"; all of them are stockpiling as fast as they can. When US troops leave, the Iraqi army will defect to the sectarian militias before it is attacked frontally. If US troops don't leave, it will happen anyway. In fact, troops and weapons already diffuse from the Iraqi army to the militias.

But in principle, so does a proposal by many Democrats to tell the Iraqi government, look, we’re going to start withdrawing by, say, next July 1, so if you want a fairly safe and smooth transition, you’d better organize around that idea.

But in all fairness, this "strategy" from the Democrats is just as much nonsense as anything that Bush has to say. The Iraqi government is a house of cards. No such quid pro quo has any credibility. Almost no one in Iraq "wants" the civil war that they have already. They "want" a safe and smooth transition, but they won't get one.

Again, this comes back to the point that extremists, fundamentalists, and terrorists essentially won the Iraqi elections. Any Iraqi who sounds moderate, as Prime Minister Maliki does sometimes, is either a bystander, a puppet, or a liar. Maliki himself used to be a spokesman for an Iranian-sponsored terrorist group called "al Dawa". Dawa is now a political party in Iraq, in fact it's Maliki's party.

Frank Warner

The Iraqis have held remarkably faithful to their new democratic institutions, in spite of the ongoing war.

I won’t split hairs on whether it’s a civil war. Certainly two major sides, Shiite Arabs and Sunni Arabs, are fighting each other, but then again, the Sunni fighters aren’t ever taking new territory and barely hold their own. Whatever it is, it’s a war, with many crosscurrents.

Meanwhile, Kurdistan is doing better than ever. The Kurds are building new cities.

In a region politically repressed for centuries, if not millennia, most of the political activists inevitably have been part of groups considered extremist, fundamentalist or terrorist. That doesn’t mean many of them, if not most, can’t change in an open, democratic society.

Sinn Fein, the IRA terrorists’ political wing, is now part of the government of Northern Ireland. There’s occasionally some trouble, the it appears “The Troubles” are over in Northern Ireland.

This can happen, too, in Iraq. And yes, the whole project might fail if the new democratic institutions are not given a chance to take root.

My guess is, when most of the U.S. troops leave, the war will continue at some level for years. There will be some big blow-ups. At some point, the Iraqi army will crack down heavily on the Sunni Arabs. That will look more like the standard civil war, and it could be decisive.

The army eventually will have to crack down on Sadr’s thugs, too.

Iraq has a real chance of setting up a permanent democracy, and I think it will. Of course, everything in the Middle East depends on everything else.

Iran is a wild card. Young adult Iranians want democracy, but Ahmadinejad and the ayatollah have cleverly played to national pride in the nuclear issue. That could explode.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the other wild card. Israel has a right to exist, and too many Arabs and Iranians just can’t accept it. It’s the rub that won’t stop rubbing.

Mike Johnson

The Iraqis have held remarkably faithful to their new democratic institutions, in spite of the ongoing war.

I have no idea what behavior you have in mind with this comment. I suppose just that Iraqis went to the polls, and not who they actually voted for.

Meanwhile, Kurdistan is doing better than ever.

Only because it is effectively a separate country. They have a separate army, and separate passports, and they don't let Arabs in.

In a region politically repressed for centuries, if not millennia, most of the political activists inevitably have been part of groups considered extremist, fundamentalist or terrorist. That doesn’t mean many of them, if not most, can’t change in an open, democratic society.

I do not understand where this type of "optimism" comes from, that the way to tame terrorists is to let them win elections. After all, you say just a little later that the Iraqi army will have to crack down on Sadr's thugs. How likely is that when more than 30 of them are in the Iraqi parliament? When Sadr gave Maliki his job?

Besides, no one says that about Hamas, which also won elections. No one says that about Hugo Chavez, or Vladimir Putin, both of whom were fairly elected at least the first time. No one said it about Slobodan Milosevic. No one says it about Sinn Fein either; they say that Northen Ireland is doing well despite Sinn Fein, and not because it got elected.

Basically no one says that elections tame bad people in any context other than Iraq. So I take it back, I do know where this "optimism" comes from. It comes from Bush.

Speaking of democracy, a new poll in Iraq (commissioned by the State Department) reports that 6 in 10 Iraqis support insurgent attacks on American troops. Three cheers for majority rule! Not.

Christopher Taylor

How good are we at keeping a secret? Just ask the New York Times. The fact is a time-based deadline is foolish. A circumstances-based one makes perfect sense. When these goals are achieved, when this happens, then we can start to withdraw.

As far as we know there IS a withdrawal date. There's just no reason to tell anyone.

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