January 10, 2007

"The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits."

The President's speech.
The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy – by advancing liberty across a troubled region. It is in the interests of the United States to stand with the brave men and women who are risking their lives to claim their freedom – and help them as they work to raise up just and hopeful societies across the Middle East.
Were you satisfied?


Sloanasaurus said...

I liked the plan and the new general in charge.

The Democrats responded with cut and run.

Anonymous said...

There's a fine, old word that sprang to mind as I listened to President Bush:


vnjagvet said...

Speeches no longer matter. Only results do. Congress will not stop this plan. If it does not work, the Democrats will nominate the next President and will have clear sailing for the next ten years.

If it does work, however, McCain will be sitting pretty. Despite my antipathy towards some of his personal characteristics, I have to give him credit for the courage of his convictions in influencing the Administration's change of direction.

Josef Novak said...

No. But I was pleasantly surprised by the conciliatory and diplomatic tone of the speech. That was rather unexpected and perhaps will, for once, not draw the wrath of our allies and enemies alike.

Sloanasaurus said...

I thought it was pretty humorous that Dick Durbin cited General Abizaid as the General opposed to the new plan. How stupid is that. General Abizaid was the General responsible for the previous plan that was not working.

I suppose Durbin assumes that the public is too dumb to figure that out or maybe Durbin is just dumb.

NSC said...

I am satisfied that he is trying something - anything - when the Dems only offer retreat and disgrace.

Anonymous said...

I suppose Durbin assumes that the public is too dumb to figure that out or maybe Durbin is just dumb.

Or maybe Durbin hanging out with the koskidz is have a negative impact on his intelligence.

Dylan said...

I thought the initial tone was good... Totally different from the general bravado the President displays when talking about such issues.

But I thought adding Iran into the equation was a mistake, I also think that it will be difficult for most Americans to walk the fine line of, "Yes... mistakes have been made, so we're adding more troops and hoping for the best," with the President.

Anonymous said...

wasn't satisfied. But I wasn't dissatisfied either. I guess it was about what I expected--which these days isn't much. I made a few notes while listening, and judging from the quotes that I put down, I think he needs new speechwriters. He knew the Democrats in Congress would oppose his new plan whatever it was. So he should have concentrated his efforts on firing up the American people. And he didn't. And he should have tried to look a little more interested in the subject matter. He looked like he had just taken a Valium. He didn't come across as a strong leader. But since he spoke from the library, maybe that was the point--though I can't for the life of me think of why.

In a nutshell: I wan't my twenty minutes back.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I cheered when he talked about changing the rules of engagement. If we can finally fight this war without tying our dominant hands, we've got a strong chance of turning it around.

Also: holding the areas we secure is a key. Geraldo was complaining about that loudly 3 months ago on Fox after his most recent trip.

goesh said...

Petraeus has his work cut out for him. If he fails, not only will the Democrats cut and run, they will gut the defense budget and justify it by offering therapy to the jihadists.

Unknown said...

The consequences of failure are, indeed, grave. That's why the president shouldn't have gotten us into this position. He should have thought about that before he failed.

Just acting tough won't save us or Iraq at this point. Steely resolve is about the only thing the president has mastered.

paul a'barge said...

Is the President willing to let the killing of our enemies begin? If so, I'm happy.

I await proof.

Anonymous said...

The challenge playing out across the broader United States is more than a political conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the President, his cynical corruption, and his criminal ineptitude – by advancing liberty across a troubled region. It is in the interests of the United States and the world to remember what our brave men and women gave their lives for to claim our freedom – and help us all as we work to raise up just and hopeful societies across the World.

There, fixed that for you.

Unknown said...

I was in my car by myself in rush hour freeway traffic and listening. When he said that the troops would have freedom to attack, intimating that the ROE are loosening, I cheered out loud. If the troops have to go through a lawyer to get permission to shoot, more troops won't make a difference. They will have freedom to enter neighborhoods and subdue them. IOW, Mookie, look out.

So in the sense that he seems to understand the failures and has a plan for the problems of the militias and the need to hold an area after the troops clear it, yes, I'm hopeful. It's not a military problem so much as a political one, and the Shia extremists have to give in just like all the others.

Anonymous said...

Nice speech.

Now we wait for results.

The Exalted said...

president bush is right:

if we withdraw there will be catastrophic consequences for american prestige, security and national interests. first, our friendly and liberty spreading government will fall to the enemy. then, the enemy's insidious ideology will spread to cambodia, laos, thailand, until all of south east asia has gone communist -- wait, what? oh, wrong clusterf*ck war.

Tim said...

"The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits."

That's right.

And despite that fact, the Dems offer nothing. Well, to be fair, more than nothing, as the Iraqi government knows the Democrats in Congress can't wait to sacrifice them to the terrorists and ethnic genocide sure to follow if we surrender in Iraq. So the Iraqis have yet another reason to get their act together before the Dems abandon them to certain death. In this regard, the Democrat's ever-so-reliable wish for defeat helps us win our war.

So yeah, I'm satisfied.

Revenant said...

I'm glad to see Bush promoting this message again. I wish he'd done it more often over the past four years; he hasn't done nearly enough to communicate our goals to the American people.

I'm hoping that McCain or Giuliani or whomever winds up winning the presidency in 2008 does a better job of pushing that goal than Bush has done.

Anonymous said...

Some attempt to acknowledge past failures, some attempt to justify escalation - not very convincing when measured against record. More pandering to fear, though toned down a bit. Another attempt to link non-support of Bush policy with non-support of troops. Still a pretty high BS factor when measured against such damaged credibility.

alphie said...

The Iraq stuff...same old crap.

Threatening Iran...time for impeachment.

hdhouse said...

I, as I am sure many are, am looking for new synonyms for the delusional.

I'm sure the neo-con kennel dogs bayed at the paper moon Mr. Bush hung over his cardboard sea. However, instead of lauding the village idiot for showing up, some fools should take the following from the speech:

1. Its a 15% change in troop strength and not up the previous levels THAT DIDN'T WORK.
2. He stated plainly that Syria and Iran, as contributors to the instability in Iraq, were fair game - that means a BROADER WAR.
3. The chances of us being out of Iraq during his term ARE NIL. As usual, he broke it and now someone else will be left with fixing it.

He is an utter oaf and impeachment is probably now the only clear option for victory.

Sloanasaurus said...

The change in generals is a good sign that the change in strategy is real.

Lincoln hired and fired five generals to lead the Army of the Potomac before he finally found Grant.

I am surprised that the democrats were so negative about the plan. It's kind of sickening.

Anonymous said...

How's that Freerepublican vote in '04 looking now bird brains?

MnMark said...

In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy

In other words, we have to change them before we can be safe. Nonsense.

In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to isolate and contain Islam in the Middle East and to separate ourselves from it a la Lawrence Auster's suggestion. We can't change them, we can't (or shouldn't) kill them all, we can't assimilate them. That leaves separation. Sooner or later we will come to recognize that. The only question is how bad things will have to get first.

MnMark said...

He is an utter oaf and impeachment is probably now the only clear option for victory.

Um, how is getting rid of Bush going to lead to victory in Iraq? Would you care to be the first Democrat to actually suggest something in the way of an actual plan for victory, instead of doing what your kind has done for 5 years, which is incessantly beat the drum of outrage and defeatism?

Clearly, in my mind, the issue is the inability of Sunni and Shia and Kurd to get along peacefully. That's not Bush's fault, and impeaching Bush wouldn't change it. So how is impeachment the "clear option for victory", Bush hater?

Anonymous said...

I just saw the replay.

Someone said to George W., "Message: Be Sober." He took it and ran with it.

I found myself feeling angry and hopeful at the same time. He's screwed up, but he's the president, and he seems to know what he's done wrong -- finally -- and has moved in the right direction. Really, the only direction, if you're the one in charge.

Not just the Democrats are irrelevant -- Congress is irrelevant now. They're in the cheap seats, and they seem to sort of know it.

Elliott said...

Ann, doesn't it cause you the slightest problem that your most vocal supporters are people who revel in the blood of others. The most common cheer among the people who liked this speech is that the rules of engagement will be loosened as if we haven't caused enough senseless death and destruction in Iraq. What war have these people been observing that they think that US troops don't use enough bullets, bombs, and shells?

Anonymous said...

Mark, above, has nailed the essence of George Bush's humbug.

To succeed, he wishes for what never was and what cannot be. As in Vietnam, the basic premise of our policy is an illusion.

God help us all.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree.

It is true that there are Islamic extremists in the world and we should continue to fight them because they will continue to fight us.

That said, what we see in Iraq is primarily a civil war. The local extension of the U.S. vs. al-Qaeda conflict is superimposed over this broader conflict, with al-Qaeda siding with the Sunnis while we have been propping up the Shi'ite government. But most of the violence you see in Iraq today is neither the product of al-Qaeda nor of America-- it is Sunni Iraqis killing Shi'ite Iraqis, or the reverse.

Adding more American troops into this lethal soup will only result in more coffins. It's not like it's even a level that is unprecedented-- we had 160,000 troops in Iraq in February 2005, and that is the same level as the President is now proposing (with fewer international troops than there were then.) It was inadequate then and it is inadequate now. Inevitably, we will have to seek a negotiated, political solution in Iraq.

My own view is that the President is unwilling to face that day himself, so at whatever price in American blood, he is trying to buy time for the next two years until he can hand it over to someone else. If anything, this was a pathetically self-serving speech by a failed President, who has shown that he would rather lose more American boys and girls than own up to the ghastly price the nation will have to pay for his arrogance, overconfidence and incompetence of four years ago.

Sooner or later there will be a three state solution in Iraq. Suggesting that we will be any better at holding a multi-national empire together than was Slobodon Milosevic, is absurd. The smart thing to do would be to recognize that fact and then work diplomatically towards smoothing the transition.

Unknown said...

You know what's interesting?

What's interesting is that bush himself admitted tonight something which none of his most fervent loyalists have ever been able to admit:

"The situtation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people.... and it is unacceptable to me."

Don't you conservatives feel undercut by this kind of honesty? You've carried water for Bush for years, denying that there are any problems, blaming it on perceptions created by the liberal MSM, etc.

And now Bush outs you as either (a) dishonest water carriers, or (b) dupes and fools.

It sucks. It really sucks to be you.

Anonymous said...

I got to bed early instead of watching, for reasons I stated here.

So, yes, I found it very satisfying. I think that I made a good choice.

Reading the details this morning, I am a bit satisfied with what was in there, but then I knew I would be. What I was not satisfied with was his banter with Congressional leaders, where he said it would work "Because it has to."

KCFleming said...

Re: "That leaves separation."

I agree. But it will mark a significant change in international relations and travel, to say the least. And given drugsters like Naked Lunch braying at every attempt to curb the militants, I'd say things will have to get much much worse before people wake up.

Sept. 11th, amazingly, was not sufficient warning for some people. For a few years now I couldn't accept that, but it's true. I guess some people need multiple whacks upside the head before they catch on that the harm is intentional, and that the miscreants mean to win.

Unknown said...

I thought this was interesting: Bob Wright of Bloggingheads.TV says that Ann Althouse is running away from the term "conservative" because it is becoming unfashionable and a liability.


I remember when conservativism was the new vogue, with people like PJ O'Rourke and Bill O'Reilly rechristening themselves as hard-core conservatives for the job security and fan base it would earn them. The money, in other words.

The Exalted said...

Clearly, in my mind, the issue is the inability of Sunni and Shia and Kurd to get along peacefully. That's not Bush's fault, and impeaching Bush wouldn't change it.

its his fault that this is our problem

NSC said...

Ann, doesn't it cause you the slightest problem that your most vocal supporters are people who revel in the blood of others.

"I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL." ~ Arlo Guthrie in Alice's Restaurant.

The Exalted said...

12% of Americans support escalation. Congratulations Althouse readers, for all your silly talk about "leftists," YOU are in the fringe 12% percent!

MadisonMan said...

I appreciated the President's tone. He says he Accepts Responsibility for the errors -- but I'm not sure there's evidence that the steps to address those errors will help. In other words, are the bunglers who got us into this mess still the ones with the President's ear? I will wait and see.

I also realized that when a Politician says that they Accept Responsibility for something, it's essentially meaningless.

Unknown said...

monkeyboy said... Oh yes, Althouse is all about the money.
I didn't mean to suggest Ann was in it for the money. I apologize for leaving that impression. I do not think Ann is in it for the money; I think she is in it for the ideas. She likes them, likes immersing herself in them, and (I think) likes to wrangle over them with other people. Probably true of all us Comments Dwellers.

I was simply recalling when conservatism was a rising phenomenon, and there was a sudden cultural shift with people "signing up for" conservatism. I do believe O'Reilly and O'Rourke fit that description. There are others, but it's been 15 years, so they don't leap to mind right away.

Sloanasaurus said...

We can't change them, we can't (or shouldn't) kill them all, we can't assimilate them. That leaves separation.

Good luck with your planned separation. Do you have a plan for that?

If you have not noticed, countries being led by dictators and tyrants do not leave other people alone.

Bruce Hayden said...

No, it is not a civil war. It isn't heading that way, and it most likely isn't going to get there. Calling it such is just parotting MSM and DNC propoganda.

What is going on right now is the Sunni Arabs still trying to reassert control over the rest of the population (80% under Saddam, 85% now, possibly 90% by the end of the year) through use of mass murder of innocents. The Shiites sat on their hands at the insistance of their clergy for several years, trusting in democracy. But partly with Iranian support and pushing, about six months ago, they really started hitting back.

What is happening right now is that the Shiites are pushing the Sunni Arabs into well protected havens, or, preferably out of the country. And, it is working - as noted above, it has been estimated that by the end of 2007, the Sunni Arab population of Iraq will possibly have dropped to 1/2 of its Saddam era levels. That means that 1/2 of the Sunni Arabs in Iraq will have fled, with a large percentage of the rest having moved into Sunni Arab only areas. (I should also note that esp. last summer and fall, there was a lot of revenge killing of those connected to Saddam, al Qaeda, or other killers of innocents, and their families. A lot of scores were being settled).

This is not a civil war. Absent external Sunni Arab intervention (i.e. Saudi Arabia), the Sunni Arabs don't have enough people or guns to challenge the 85% majority, esp. now that the army, police, etc. have been purged of their Sunni Arab leadership (remember that deBaathification that everyone on the left was screaming about? - its primary long term effect was to remove this lever of power from the Sunni Arabs).

No, what is going on right now is ethnic cleansing, made necessary by the (now) 15% Sunni Arabs refusing to accept their fair share of power. It isn't pretty, but until the Iraqi Sunni Arabs either accept their minority status gracefully, or leave, this isn't going to stop.

But time is on the side of the 85% majority there. That is because they have the numbers and the momentum. The Iraqi Sunni Arabs are on the run now, often right out of the country. And if repackaging our efforts there give the majority the time to fix their ethnic problems, then fine with me.

Anonymous said...

It was a botched, ill conceived, careless operation to begin with. It is no longer a matter of win or lose.....it is a matter of cutting our losses.

Sloanasaurus said...

A major part of the plan is to move in and then hold the troubled areas in Baghdad that are now prowled by sectarian gangs. Prior to this there was no holding.

Another part of the plan was to surge offensive capabilites in Anabar to fight Al Qaeda.

The democrat talking point out there now espoused by nearly all Democrats is to withdraw, which will in turn, put pressure on the Iraqis to step up and defend themselves. That is the democrat plan - withdrawl.

This is a reasonable theory, but trying it at this point is too risky, especially if our Generals do not believe the Iraqis are ready to defend themselves. Iraq also has to contend with Iran, not jsut sectarian violence in their own country. If we believed that the Iraqis are ready, then the Democrat plan would make sense.

We completely abandoned was Vietnam, and that plan of abandonment failed. The South Vietnamese were overrun less than two years later by the Communists (after Senator Kennedy refused to provide them with bullets). In contrast we stayed permanently in Korea and Western Europe in the face of enemies. Those plans were successful.

If Bush's plan fails, then we can try the Democrat plan or another plan. However, if the Democrat plan fails, there is no second chance and Iraq becomes Al Qaeda in Iraq - which means bus bombs in America.

Bruce Hayden said...

I agree with Richard Fagin. The refrain that we have failed in Iraq is propoganda of the worst sort, having only enough ties to reality to be plausible. But, despite any realities on the ground there, it has become common accepted wisdom. And that is tragic and criminal on the part of the MSM and politicians pushing this, from my point of view. They want the Bush to fail so badly that they are convincing the American people that he has, regardless of any facts to the contrary and the best interest of our country.

The facts that count in the long run are running in our favor:
- the Sunni Arabs in Iraq are on the run, often right out of the country.
- a military and police controlled by the 20% minority have been replaced by ones controlled and staffed by the (now) 85% majority.
- the Iraqi security forces continue to take over more and more of the responsibility for security.
- much of the country is now quite safe - safer than some U.S. cities.
- almost 3/4 of the Sunni tribes in Anbar provence have moved from supporting Sunni Arab violence to supporting the government and combatting this violence.

I cannot reemphasize the first point enough. The Sunni Arabs in Iraq effectively gave the rest of the Iraqis the choice of either submitting, or throwing them out, fully expecting the former, based on hundreds of years of dominence through violent suppression. But they got the later.

Anonymous said...

I just want to express my enthusiastic agreement with "leland" when he says this:

The speech last night is one Bush should have been making yearly, if not a little more often than that, to bolster resolve in the American people and to show his interest, in that of the US, in activities occurring in Iraq. He was right not to tinker with the military's plan like LBJ, but he could still make himself and the resources of his entire administration available to assist.

Yes! Yes! Yes! And Bush's reluctance to do this is the explanation for the confusion over what's going on in Iraq, as noted eloquently by richard fagin:

The continued recitation that somehow we "failed" in Iraq is astonishing. What confrontation between the jihadists and American troops resulted in our withdrawal or retreat? What government offices in Iraq are controlled by the jihadists? What public facilities are controlled by the jihadists? What territory do they occupy and control?

Some people blame the media for the public's belief that we're losing. I don't. The media has been good and bad, depending, but the "good" category certainly has to include the NY Times, the quintessence of the MSM.

As Bush said, the jihad war is the work of our generation, but he has peculiarly passive about leading this effort from the bully pulpit. He has been Karl Rove's man, in touch with the faithful, and screw everybody else. I sense that last night's speech was a sign that Pres. Bush is under new management, which understands that the president needs to persuade those he has disdained, not just rely on the die-hards to keep him afloat. This is a good, though belated, development.

MadisonMan said...

Bruce, your description to me reads like a Civil War. Sunnis are killing Shiites, and vice versa. But because some (most?) Sunnis are fleeing, and they face long odds, it's not a Civil War, but "only" ethnic cleansing?

At some point in the future, if Iraq because mostly Shiite, like Iran, there will eventually be considerable friction between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iraq/Iran. Ugh.

Bruce Hayden said...

There are several problems with cutting and running. The obvious one is that OBL has admitted that one of the justifications for 9/11 was that he viewed us a a paper tiger, having run when our nose was bloodied, starting with Vietnam, and continuing non-stop until his minions took down the WTC buildings. And running right now, regardless of what it is called, would just reemphasize this.

But as importantly, if we leave Iraq right now, there will be a blood bath. There will be nothing keeping the Shiites (and possibly the Kurds) from running the Sunni Arabs right out of most of Iraq.

Nothing except intervention by the militaries of other neighboring Sunni states, notably Saudi Arabia. But that would almost assuredly guarantee that Iraq's Shiite neighbor would also intervene militarily. (And, of course, this sectarian war would almost assuredly spill over into Lebannon).

Why is Iran so adamant about getting nuclear weapons. Sure, part of the reason is because of fear of the U.S. and Israel. But probably more importantly, they quickly realized that the Pakistani "Moslem" nuclear weapons were in truth, "Sunni" nuclear weapons, bought and pair for by the Saudis. If they found themselves in a bloody fight with the Sunni Arabs, they figured that they would soon face the Pakistani nuclear weapons too.

The Exalted said...

Osama bin Laden and the Saudi Wahhabists will be added to the rogues gallery of genocidal psychotics that have stained humanity and civilization during the last 80 years: Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung, Idi Amin, Manuel Noriega, Slobodan Milosevic, Charles Taylor, Saddam Hussein, and others of a lessor murderous bent but equally psychotic i.e. Che Guevarra and his line of chic apparel.

What do they all have in common? At one time or another they have all enjoyed the sympathy, if not outright support, of the American left and the socialist/communist dreamers who worship at the feet of big governement, the nanny state, and ultimately, tyranny.

the stupidity burns. most of your bogeymen were on the far right and enjoyed the support of our own conservatives. hitler? um --- i seem to remember it was the right that didn't want to go to war in wwII. you should just shoot yourself.

NSC said...

It was a botched, ill conceived, careless operation to begin with. It is no longer a matter of win or lose.....it is a matter of cutting our losses.

"Run away, run away." ~ Dems, err, I mean Monty Python

*** I'm sorry, Professor, this is so easy.

Unknown said...

Yes, all you doubters and moralistic poseurs, Iraq is a "huge mess." What war wasn't a big mess, until it was won?

If only Lincoln had not fought that huge mess of the Civil War, think of all the blood that could have been saved. After all, the Confederate States were entitled to their own culture, weren't they? All cultures have equal value, and the slaves were actually better off on the plantation than in the huge mess of the Reconstruction! And WWII, oh my, an atomic bomb, and thousands of GIs dying because of insufficient body armor and ammunition and botched battle plans.

Finally, our favorite lost war, Vietnam: if the Communists had not destroyed their own economies, they would have taken over more territory. Just because we won much of the Cold War doesn't mean it never existed.

Wade Garrett said...

He might have hesitated to invade if he thought about these possibilities before launching the war. But then when you take advice from God and not from, you know, your advisors, you run the risk that the other side might pray harder than you for a different result.

Isn't that how it works?

The Exalted said...

David said...

History is not your strong suit!


10:23 AM, January 11, 2007

what part of my post was inaccurate? oh wait, no part was. thanks for playing hack.

hdhouse said...

This is all very opinionated and mildly interesting. Tell me, though, how does this pertain to anything Mr. Bush read to us last night?

Anonymous said...

Bruce Hayden:

Is that why the Pentagon recently said that Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's militia has now eclipsed al-Qaeda as the most dangerous accelerant of violence in the region?

hdhouse said...

Eli - Bruce Hayden is obviously a sophomore in high school using Little Journeys through History as his source book. Surely it is time for beddie-by Bruce.

He said: "I stand by my assertion that the left in this country is anti-American and anti-American military. Their goal is a weakened and failed American state that needs to be "taught" another lesson akin to our miitary win in Viet Nam which was turned into a political loss by the left."

i NOMINIATE these two sences as the epitome of what is stunningly wrong with the rightwing in the country and second, as perhaps the most blatantly supid remarks found on the Althouse blog.

Bruce Hayden said...


I am distinguishing between a civil war and what is going on right now in Iraq based on a number of factors:
- the level of death is not nearly that of most "civil wars".
- for the most part, it does not involve formalized armies fighting each other. Rather, much of the violence is at a much lower level. For example, much of the Sunni Arab on Shiite violence involves suicide bombings and IEDs.
- indeed, much, if not most of the violence on both sides is aimed at innocent civilians (though there is a lot of revenge killings on the part of the Shiites).
- neither side has the bulk of their people behind them. Rather, they are mostly outliers.
- the Sunni Arabs, absent extensive external support (in the form of combat troops), don't really have a chance at prevailing.
- A significant amount of the violence is being undertaken by foreigners, with little internal support. Notably here is al Qaeda, but also, to a lesser degree, Iran.

In other words, the situation in Iraq right now has few of the classic indicia of a civil war. Rather, I think that it is better to view it as an insurgency from the Sunni Arab side, and ethnic cleansing from the Shiite side.

The reason that I think that the distinction here is important is that the nature of what is going on greatly influences what will work and what won't work. For example, a poster in another thread suggested a negotiated peace. But that is not really viable when that would require that the 85% majority of the population in a (mostly) democracy grant the other 15% significantly more than their fair share of the power based on their percentage of the Iraqi population (which is what this is all about in the first place).

Bruce Hayden said...

At some point in the future, if Iraq because mostly Shiite, like Iran, there will eventually be considerable friction between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iraq/Iran. Ugh.

Already happening. Indeed, has been happening almost from the day we overthrew Saddam Hussein. Most of the funding and a lot of the soldiers of al Qaeda in Iraq have come from Saudi Arabia. Not the government there, as we continue to twist their arms to stay out. But privately. And, of course, Iran has been supplying arms, money, and now fighters too.

Much of what has gone on for the last 25+ years in the middle east revolves around a fight for supremacy in and the heart of the Moslem world between Shiite Iran and Wahhabi Sunni Saudi Arabia, and, in particular, the Saudis' attempts to encircle the Iranians.

But a couple things need to be kept in perspective here. First, a country run by a 20% minority through increasing levels of brutality is not a stable situation. And that is what we had in Iraq before Saddam Hussein was overthrown. In the long run, a democratic Iraq is going to be a lot more stable.

Secondly, a lot has been made of the Iranian influence in Iraq. But much of that is as a counterweight to the Saudi influence there. It is likely that Iraq is going to have a much greater affect on Iran, than visa versa.

First, most Shiite Iraqis do not buy into the clerical power thing in Iran. Traditionally, Shia Islam pretty much separated mosque and state (as opposed to Sunni Islam, where they often were not). This may be partly because through most of their history, many Shiites were ruled by Sunnis.

In any case, the type of Shia Islam practiced my the ruling mullahs in Iran is not traditional Shia Islam. Rather, it was developed primarily by Ayatollah Khomeini and his adherants, in opposition to the more traditional form championed by Ayatollah Khoi, and his disciple, Ayatollah Sistani.

The interesting thing is that with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and the resumption of pilgrimages to Iraqi holy sites by Iranian Shiites, Ayatollah Sistani has apparently gained far more Iranian adhearants than have the Iranian mullahs gained Iraqi adherants.

Secondly, part of what Iran is facing right now internally is a call for democracy by many of its people - primarily because of the Iraqi example. The Iranian rulers are ever more embattled as they continue to increase the level of oppression in order to retain control.

But back to the previous point - clerical political power in Iran is based on and justified by what is already a minority view of Shia Islam there.

Unknown said...

It's worth a shot. I mean if it doesn't work, it's only a few thousand American lives, and that is really a rounding error if you look at all the Americans who have died in previous wars.

I don't understand what the big deal is.

hdhouse said...

downtown....when you say something like you just did (including..rounding error/big deal)..and you mean it sarcastically you might do well to give a clue to your sarcasm just so others know for sure you were not serious in your comment.

and bruce--poor poor bruce. honest to god you need to read the stuff you write aloud looking at yourself in the mirror. if you can do that without laughing at the sheer folly of your observations then hit the publish key...if not and you are like the rest of us, rolling our eyes and shuddering over the waste of a dan quayle sized brain...then please delete.

Unknown said...

"- the level of death is not nearly that of most 'civil wars'."

You're right, I think, Bruce, and here's an article comparing the violence rate in Iraq versus some US cities.


Unknown said...

Who said I was being sarcastic?

The Exalted said...

ha patca, that is a good find! even if its accurate, and its obviously not, then you are cheerleading that the entire country of iraq has a similar death rate to compton. been to compton lately? think thats a shining success story?

anyhow, i must have misplaced my newsweek where all of the mass kidnappings, mass executions, and mass car bombings are documented taking place in american cities.

cheers nutter!