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March 31, 2004

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...which appears to have been lost amidst Clarke's flotsam...

The conspiracy theorist in me wants to think that Clarke's revelation is timed specifically to cover for this. My rational side doesn't believe it for a second, but... ;)

This is the subtlest quagmire I've ever seen.

As Juan Cole points out today, now people in other Islamic dictatorships (or monarchies, which is the same thing) are looking at Iraq and thinking "Hey, having a dictator isn't so bad. At least we have running water, electricity, no kidnappings, and I'm not going to get blown up on the way to the mosque."

Gosh, this is all going so well that it almost makes you weep.

As Juan Cole points out today,

Who's/where's Juan Cole? (I know John Cole of Balloon Juice, but I don't believe that he made any such point today.)

Stu, did Cole miss Iran and Syria, since I don't read him?

Von, when we entered the Cold War did we talk about costs or duration? Didn't we just come to the conclusion that it had to be done?

Von, when we entered the Cold War did we talk about costs or duration? Didn't we just come to the conclusion that it had to be done?

Timmy, we can easily analogize the "War on Terror" to the Cold War. (Indeed, I did pretty much that a few weeks back, when I suggested that neither "war" nor "law enforcement action" adequately conveys what's going on, but rather we need a new term.) But we can't do the same with Iraq. Iraq's a traditional war, with a traditional start, finish, and end. Just as it was appropriate for persons in 1943 to plan for the likely expenses of the 1944 war effort, it's appropriate to do the same with Iraq.

The admin.'s planning for these and other occupation problems has been fatally flawed from the start. And even more troubling, they don't seem to be learning much from their errors or experience (kind of an admin. trademark, when you think of it). Then there's a slightly greater possiblity that they're going to hand the whole thing over to Chalabi?

This ain't pretty. And I fear it's only going to get worse.

von, Juan Cole is a history professor at the University of Michigan, perhaps the most prominent scholar of Arab issues in the blogosphere, and quite prominent in the public sphere - he's at juancole.com or PBS's NewsHour etc. He's on the left of the spectrum, at least on Middle East issues.

Then there's a slightly greater possiblity that they're going to hand the whole thing over to Chalabi?

Any updates to support that Harley?

Edward, did you see this from Josh Marshall?

Thanks, Rilkefan. The name now rings a bell.

Juan Cole hates Bush, and I can't blame von for not reading him, sometimes I wish I didn't have to. However, his hatred of Bush is only about 50% lefty bias, and unjustified.

Bush made some promises and committments, and took on some responsibilities by choice. He has demonstrated himself not an honorable or trustworthy man.

Edward, did you see this from Josh Marshall?

To quote Giblets, "Well, crap. Who ordered that?"


Personally, I find much of the commentary regarding Iraq to be impatient, overwrought, and somewhat contradictory.

Impatient, in that many pay lip service to a gradual development of democracy in Iraq, but then cry 'quagmire' when it doesn't happen fast enough. It has been just over a year. Relax.

Overwrought, in that almost every negative piece of news is trumpeted as the latest step towards complete anarchy. There is no mention of the many Iraqis who are, for once, actually optimistic of their future. Think about that for a second.

Contradictory, in that we are constantly told that the vast majority Muslims are moderate and cosmopolitan. They desire the same freedoms and comforts that we do. Great. But, then we are told that they will not achieve democracy, because of the power of religious leaders or the longing for the 'security' of authoritarianism. Either the majority of them are moderate and desire freedom, or they do not. Which is it?


Rilkefan you are aware that in many (not all) parlimentary systems, the executive office is a politically weak position.

"Either the majority of them are moderate and desire freedom, or they do not. Which is it?"

Iraqis right now would like electricity, and not to live in constant fear of dying. Another 100 billion dollars, and another 100 thousand troops, might not completely satisfy those, in my opinion, just requests, but would certainly help, and would demonstrate good faith.

I have two things to say about Professor Cole:

1. He was in favour of the Iraq invasion.

2. He's been right on the money about identifying problems in Iraq before they became problems. He has a lot of insight into the political and social forces at work on the region, and we're lucky that he posts his thoughts on the subject as often as he does. To not read him because of his opinion of Bush would be pure partisanship.

Harley - what are you talking about? We are on schedule to hand the reins of government over to the Iraqi in June. Saddam is gone. We've captured or killed 2/3 of Al Qaeda leadership. Iraqis are now getting buried in individual graves instead of the mass ones of the last government. It should be smooth sailing until November.

Nathan, I don't know if/how you're criticizing my view.

Impatient, in that many pay lip service to a gradual development of democracy in Iraq, but then cry 'quagmire' when it doesn't happen fast enough.

I'm the one who thinks we should be in Iraq for at least five years, should increase troop strength, and should plan for both of the foregoing. I'm trying to get us to do the things that we need to do to win in Iraq. If any of that is crying "quagmire," charge happily accepted.

Overwrought, in that almost every negative piece of news is trumpeted as the latest step towards complete anarchy. There is no mention of the many Iraqis who are, for once, actually optimistic of their future. Think about that for a second.

I have no doubt that many Iraqis are optimistic. Without police or security, however, all the optimism in the world gets you, well, all the optimism in the world. And not much else.

Presume the "contradictory" point ain't about me.

Bob,

So you are saying that they are going to be in more danger now, than they would be over the rest of a Hussein dynasty?

Unless you are privy to some information that I am not, it looked like Saddam & Sons were going to rule for quite some time, provided the U.S. did not engage in regime change.

I don't know whether more money is needed or not. We (meaning even us Canadians) should be providing what is required, although not necessarily what is desired.

Oh, and I think it is a testament to how well things are going that electricity shortages are such a big deal. I would much rather hear of those than widespread shortages of food, shelter, or medicine.

von,

I was just spouting off. Not addressed to you. I suppose I should have mentioned that. I am just a little fed up with the much of the media coverage.

Rilkefan you are aware that in many (not all) parlimentary systems, the executive office is a politically weak position.

Timmy, is the prime ministerial role currently under discussion strong or weak? I actually don't know about your above assertion - afaik parlimentary systems don't have the periods of divided govt that we do, usually, and the only (relatively) weak prime ministership that comes to mind is France's. I thought that usually the PM was the leader of the majority party, hence politically strong. The situation is more complex when there are multiple roughly equal parties, but that's the difference between a multi-party and two-party system.

My two-bit prediction: We tacitly hand the reins over to Chalabi, who consolidates power and turns to brutal crackdowns and questionable tactics to restore order. Neither the Iraqis nor the administration, both happy to have order back, complain that we've just replaced a repressive dictatorship with a slightly less repressive (but America-friendly) dictatorship.

"Neither the Iraqis nor the administration, both happy to have order back, complain that we've just replaced a repressive dictatorship with a slightly less repressive (but America-friendly) dictatorship."

Well, that worked in Iran in the 1950's. Oh, wait...


"So you are saying that they are going to be in more danger now, than they would be over the rest of a Hussein dynasty?"

"Better off than under Saddam" is certainly a very true and good thing, but far too low a standard for Americans to use as a measure of our commitments and responsibilities

" We tacitly hand the reins over to Chalabi, who consolidates power and turns to brutal crackdowns"

This might be the plan, and not wholly unacceptable to me, but I think it is wholly unacceptable to Ayatollah Sistani and Muqtada Sadr, and I fear it is simply not possible in practice.

A meta-historian once assessed the potential for revolution in terms of disappointed expectations....

If sidereal's right, Timmy,

My two-bit prediction: We tacitly hand the reins over to Chalabi, who consolidates power and turns to brutal crackdowns and questionable tactics to restore order. Neither the Iraqis nor the administration, both happy to have order back, complain that we've just replaced a repressive dictatorship with a slightly less repressive (but America-friendly) dictatorship.

Make mine a Manhattan with JD, no ice, but two cherries...gotta get my vitamin C somewhere.


Our crackdown isn't 100% gentle.

I was just spouting off.

Nathen -- Cool. And I agree with your underlying point.

FWIW, von, I was arguing exactly the same thing back in May 2002. [Offline, unfortunately, so you'll just have to trust me on that :/ ] Regrettably, even with a year's lead-time on the war itself, I still don't feel like I've made a dent on the issue; hope you have better luck.

Do Bremmer's statements mean we can expect a "COPS Iraq" in 2006? I think I smell a way to solvency on this war!

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