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June 13, 2007

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Just think of all the jobs rebuilding the mosque will generate!

The government was already getting a lot of anger because it was taking so long to rebuild the golden dome. Given its importance and the likely complicity of security forces, this is a significant event that can only reduce support for the government.

Stop blowing up heritage sites, you fools! Argh, this sort of stupid destruction makes me so angry.

it reminds me of my trip through the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium: "here's the remains of a another church that was built in the fifteenth century but was destroyed in WWII".

but, we're sure Jamil Hussein wasn't the NYT's source on this ?

Quick, somebody paint a school!

If anything, it demonstrates the inability of the government and the United States to provide security even when such an attack was both expected and feared.

You don't say.

That makes it a blow to Maliki and the US, but not the same kind of galvanizing event that the first attack became."

Not in that sense, but I'd point out that this attack -- which was both expected and feared -- came just as the troop level of the so-called "surge" reached its peak.

So yes, someone's demonstrating the inability of the government and the United States to provide security. As if that needed any more demonstrating.

I hope someone's guarding the golden dome in Des Moines.

Thanks, Ugh: I especially liked this tidbit of advice:

There are also political differences in Iraq that have puzzled diplomats and statesmen. You won't help matters any by getting mixed up in them.


"The U.S. military official, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, told CNN's Karl Penhaul that he believes members of the Iraqi security forces who were guarding the site either assisted or directly took part in helping al Qaeda insurgents place and detonate explosives at the mosque's prayer summoning towers, which are called minarets. "

No, wait - it wasn't al Qaeda: Americans and the Israelis were responsible for it…

So says Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr: who claimed rival Sinni Arabs couldn't have been responsible for the bombing, but was a "cursed American-Israeli scenario that aims to spread the turmoil and plant the hatred among the Muslim brethren."

Makes sense to me. No Arabs would ever blow up a mosque. And Muslims would never kill other Muslims. And in Gaza today it certainly was Americans and Israelis disguised as Hamas Islamist fighters marching on Fatah forces, not real Hamas fighters. Islam is a peaceful religion. It's practioners rational and humane. It's Mossad and the CIA and CNN and HBO and UNLV and PLAYBOY and ZIP-LOCK BAGS at fault.

Soon as the Middle East is purged of those evil influences, peace will settle over the lands, and the world will be a better place.

I suspect al-Sadr knows his Iraqi patriot image goes up when he engages in Iraqi exceptionalism. You know, “WE don’t do those types of things, Allah have mercy, only outsiders are prone to depravity…not us good guys.”

"You know, 'WE don’t do those types of things, Allah have mercy, only outsiders are prone to depravity…not us good guys.'"

It's exceptional behavior for humans, all right.

Fortunately, we'd never hear such logic and claims and denials that we could ever do wrong from Americans.

No American president would ever swear onto an idea like "[s]oon as the Middle East is purged of those evil influences, peace will settle over the lands, and the world will be a better place."

No, no group of Americans could ever decide that that was sound policy for our country to adopt: could they?

"No, no group of Americans could ever decide that that was sound policy for our country to adopt: could they?"

So what your point, Gary? That idiocy on the East side of town shouldn’t be criticized because idiots are roaming on the West side too?

"That idiocy on the East side of town shouldn’t be criticized because idiots are roaming on the West side too?"

Aside from the fact that I wrote not one word indicating in any way, shape, means, or form that I remotely held or was hinting at any such idea: no.

So says Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr: who claimed rival Sinni Arabs couldn't have been responsible for the bombing, but was a "cursed American-Israeli scenario that aims to spread the turmoil and plant the hatred among the Muslim brethren."

A whole lot of iraqis believe this. Sadr is expressing a mainstream idea, when he says that. We reached the point years ago that a whole lot of iraqis are that cynical of us.

Something like 50% of iraqis believe it. It isn't a crackpot conspiracy theory there, not like the idea that americans or zionists were responsible for 9/11. Of course only a small minority of americans are ready to believe that about 9/11 because we know neither the Bush administration nor Mossad would consider doing such a thing. But it's a large minority or majority of iraqis who believe such things of us. We didn't keep the good will from right after the election, when we said we were going to do reconstruction and set up a real democracy, and they thought we'd mostly pull out after we did those things.

If the Basilica in St. Peter’s Square was blown up tonight – what would be the impact on world politics? Just wondering…


Just how old is that structure, anyway?

It must not be *that* old, if it was built using rebar, as seems to be the case.

Ah, Wikipedia does it again: " the latest remodelling of the shrine in 1868, with the golden dome added in 1905. "

That kinda changes things. It sucks, of course, that the shrine was blown up, but we're not talking about an irreplaceable building of great antiquity. It's not the Bamiyan Buddha statues.

When it's described as being built in 944, that's a bit misleading, since it's been rebuilt several times since then.

J Thomas: when I read al-Sadr's remarks, I was struck less by his blaming us and the Israelis -- which seemed to me pretty much par for the course, not that that means I like it or anything -- but by this:

"He declared that no Sunni Arab could have been responsible for the attack on the Shiite shrine. Instead, he faulted the Iraqi government for failing to protect the landmark, and blamed the relentless violence in Iraq on the ongoing U.S. military presence."

Which is a lot more helpful than it might have been, under the circumstances. As is this: "The political party affiliated with radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said its 30 legislators will boycott parliament until the Iraqi government begins to repair the shattered shrine and other mosques -- both Sunni and Shiite -- devastated by years of fighting." (The 'Sunni and Shi'a' part.)

I mean, he could have lit into the Sunnis and inflamed the civil war. He didn't. In fact, he seems to have gone out of his way to calm it. That's interesting.

"Of course only a small minority of americans are ready to believe that about 9/11 because we know neither the Bush administration nor Mossad would consider doing such a thing."

I certainly wouldn't put forth my anecdote as statistically significant, but I've had four different neighbors in my apt building explain to me that it's the Bush administration that did it, here's the evidence, steel can't melt at that temp, yadda yadda yadda.

That's 4 who have spontaneously brought up the topic, independently. Out of the 4 who have ever brought up 9/11.

(None remotely interested in counter-arguments, either.)

"That's 4 who have spontaneously brought up the topic, independently. Out of the 4 who have ever brought up 9/11."

Um, you live in Boulder, right?

I'm just saying, if anywhere in Colorado would be ripe for that happening, it'd be Boulder.

If the Basilica in St. Peter’s Square was blown up tonight – what would be the impact on world politics? Just wondering…

Blown up by whom?

"I'm just saying, if anywhere in Colorado would be ripe for that happening, it'd be Boulder."

True. But my impression is that such beliefs are, in fact, unfortunately quite popular and wide-spread in the U.S. I could point to various polls, as well, but you can find them if you like, I'm sure.

And the people I refer to are all in their fifties, not kids, FWIW. Although one who yelled at me about my refusal to be "interested in the facts" in our last encounter, who lives a block away, is the former head of Boulder's Libertarian Party, and a former LP candidate for sherriff. And of the previous four I mentioned, only one was a leftist of any sort. The one I've heard the most exposition from is a Safeway store manager whose primary source of information is an internet conspiracy radio station and the attached conspiracy website. I do my very best to avoid conversation on the subject, actually. Which is my point: all these people (few though they are in actual number) insist on bringing up the topic spontaneously, out of sheer vehemence of their convictions. I find it disturbing, but it doesn't strike me as any more out of the public mainstream than is a conviction that a conspiracy killed JFK.

Gary, I'm in northern virginia and it's different here. I haven't met anybody who says they believe it, except online. It got brought up more than a dozen times, I lost count, but sometimes it was just in conversation and I'm not sure who brought it in. In every case the argument was that it's a conspiracy theory and there's no proof. The two main variants are "It's just a conspiracy theory and there's no proof, but I wouldn't put it past them" and "It's just a conspiracy theory and there's no proof, and they wouldn't be competent enough to pull it off anyway."
Republicans tended to change the subject after the first clause (but it's a small sample). Nobody mentions the Mossad variant.

I myself tell people it's just a conspiracy theory and there's no proof, and nobody tells me the government is suppressing the proof. After Kennedy was killed I heard lots of stories about witnesses going duck hunting and getting killed with buck shot etc, but I was living 50 miles south of where I am now. I think it's different this time but maybe it's just a different place.

Isn't it more comparable with Americans thinking Iraq (Saddam) was behind 9/11 ?

I was struck less by his blaming us and the Israelis

I think he'd do better to blame the Koreans. They're just like Nazis!

When it's described as being built in 944, that's a bit misleading, since it's been rebuilt several times since then.

"Suddenly the King was holding his mining axe again. "This, milord, is my family's axe. We have owned it for almost nine hundred years, see. Of course, sometimes it needed a new blade. And sometimes it has required a new handle, new designs on the metalwork, a little refreshing of the ornamentation... but is this not the nine-hundred-year-old axe of my family?"

Pratchett is good for everything. :)

Given the invasion of Korean Wagner singers, that is not unlikely. I always suspected that the Korean Dry Cleaners Association is just a cover for the reformed Nazi party ;-)
We have also our share of deranged judges suing e.g. Coca Cola and a chocolate producer for their obesity and diabetes or the neighbours for a (dim) lightbulb disturbing their sleep.

Sorry, that was off topic.
Pragmatically I'd say that it may not be wise to really rebuild such landmark buildings while the conflict is still hot. Maybe limiting repairs to a level that the house can be used but does not actually invite another headline-grasp bombing until the total situation has calmed down would be the best choice. And, as countries hit hard by WW2 know, certain ruins can be powerful mementos (e.g. the Coventry cathedral or the Emperor-William-Memorial church in Berlin).

"When it's described as being built in 944, that's a bit misleading, since it's been rebuilt several times since then."

The White House was torn down to its beams and rebuilt during Harry Truman's day (people have forgotten the years that the President lived at Blair House instead, where he was also almost assassinated), but I continue to read in newspapers and magazines how Presidents Clinton and Bush have had people stay "where Lincoln slept" and I continue to read how various rooms were where various 19th century events took place.

It's like that ancient family ax, where the head and the handle have both been replaced several times over the decades, but it's still grampa's ax, even though his hand never touched either metal or wood of the current version.

Seems to be a basic "what establishes identity?" quesiton.

I can't see that it matters when the mosque wa built. What matters is its significance to Iraqis.


Why on earth would the Bush administrtion want to blow it up? Usually compiracy therocies are rooted in perception of motivation. people believe thhat someone comspired to do something because thhey think that someone had a motivation for doing it. Whhere's the motivation for the Bush administration to blow it up?

The Iraqi conspiracy theory ( it's all the fault of thhe Americanns aand Jews) at least makes sense on an emotional level since both are believed to be out to harm Iraq.

The real problem, seems to me, is that it indicates thhat thhe Iraqi forces thhat we are trainning annd that are supposed to take over and bring peace are, in fact, fronts for a variety of factions, rather than a unified force.

"The Iraqi conspiracy theory ( it's all the fault of thhe Americanns aand Jews) at least makes sense on an emotional level since both are believed to be out to harm Iraq."

I presume that it's because it's so obvious, no one needs bother saying it, that no one has mentioned that it makes perfect political sense for Sadr to continue to take this line -- which is consistent with most of what he's been saying for a long time.

He lives in Iraq; all he cares about, pretty much, is the situation in Iraq. He has more political power in Iraq than any other individual, it appears; his desire is to continue to increase his political power in Iraq. The best way to do that is to seek as many useful alliances as he can with Iraqis. The best way to do that is to avoid blaming them and finding fault with them, and to instead use the Americans as The Other to focus all Iraqi hostility upon, and to use as the rallying issue to unify Iraqis around. That's what he's been doing all along. That's what he's continuing to do. There's certainly no reason for any surprise at this.

And, of course, using the threat of the invader, the oppressor, the outsider, the attacking enemy, to rally people to your political leadership or party or cause, is the classic maneuver everywhere.

Of course, as alluded earlier, you'd never seen an American president, or party, or set of politicians, doing something like that. No, siree: scaring hell out of people about a relatively minor threat, and claiming you're the only one who can protect America and Defeat The Enemy: unimaginable in America. That Sadr and those crazy Muslims: they're the only one who could be so ridiculous and mockable.

"I think he'd do better to blame the Koreans. They're just like Nazis!"

Yet another take here. Judge Pearson seems to have been extremely attached to those pants. I sympathize; I just broke a mug I've been using for six years; I plan to sue myself for $152 million dollars for pain and suffering.

I certainly wouldn't put forth my anecdote as statistically significant, but I've had four different neighbors in my apt building explain to me that it's the Bush administration that did it, here's the evidence, steel can't melt at that temp, yadda yadda yadda.

we were in NYC last weekend, visiting. we were surprised at the number of conspiracy-minded people we met. they included young Brooklyn hipsters (which i kindof understand) and a Harvard-educated PhD biochemist (which blows my mind). none of them thought the planes caused the building to fall.

When I was at Ground Zero for the 5-year anniversary of 9/11 there were astonishingly large numbers of "truthers" wearing their black t-shirts and passing out literature, as all the while the names of the deceased were being read and the families looked on in mourning. I would have loved to punch a few of the truthers in the face, quite frankly.

On any given day, if the weather is nice, you can find them along Liberty Street exercising their liberty by displaying a big "9/11 was an inside job" banner or somesuch. No idea if they had to fight over the space with the folks who claim the moon landing was faked.

here's the remains of a another church that was built in the fifteenth century but was destroyed in WWII.

When I was in Wales, I was amused to see a LOT (at least 5 or 6) castles that had signs saying "erected by Owen Glandower; destroyed by [appropriate British King -- one of the Henry's, I think]" or vice versa. Like a game of Castle Catapult played all over the country-side.

I hope that Pearson not only loses his case, but that the Chung's sue him for defamation and harassment.

I plan to sue myself for $152 million dollars for pain and suffering

I wish you luck, Gary. I know you can use the money.

a Harvard-educated PhD biochemist

A good education is frequently inadequate proof against the occasional (or even persistent) folly. I'd offer myself as an example, but I'm not so quite sure of the "good education" part, so I'm probably not a good one.

Example, that is.

A good education is frequently inadequate proof against the occasional (or even persistent) folly.

yeah, i guess. i just thought it'd take a little bit of level-headedness (?) to make it through all that schoolin. personally, i'd rank evangelical truthers right up there with Scientologists and creationists, when it comes to critical thinking.

i mean, i can believe the Bush administration could conspire to lie about the Iraq runup because there's only a few of them involved at the very top - but to cover up a scheme to take down those buildings? that'd take dozens and dozens of people. and how many completely loyal and completely evil schemers can there possibly be in the government at any one time ?

(ok... which ObWiRegular have i offended with the Scientologist remark?)

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