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February 27, 2006

Comments

But we have just bunches of level 2 brigades! And the painted schools!

You beat me to that link. So:

The President Prioritizes

"In Bremer's account, the President was seriously interested in one issue: whether the leaders of the government that followed the CPA would publicly thank the United States. But there is no evidence that he cared about the specific questions that counted" ...Atrios

We are way past "Worst President Ever" into world-historical categories. The shallowness and lack of real ambition bring Caligula and Nero to mind, but the Empire ran decently in their reigns. Worse than Caligula? (Except for the sex.)

"The Culture of Life," in action, because "Freedom is on the March"!

Pardon me if I repeat a cite from another comment.

IraqiPundit"

Why do these reporters want to see a civil war so badly in Iraq? It looks to me that they hate Bush so much that they will stop at nothing to prove that he's wrong about Iraq and they are right. The reporters have sunk so low as to take this cheap angle of insisting that an all out civil war has been underway for three years. When will they wake up and realize that this is not a White House scandal. This is about Iraq and its people. Yes some people are being aggressive and I pray that the violence doesn't spread. But why do the media report exaggerated numbers of attacks and damage when it can only make a bad situation worse. What ever happened to checking for accuracy? Iraq the Model posted a list of numbers of what really was damaged.

The thugs of Moktada Al Sadr were responsible for most of the attacks. And the Interior Ministry's death squads were sent out by Bayan Jabr Solagh, who headed the Badr Brigades. IraqPundit is under no illusion that things are good right now. However, there is no reason to take the tabloid angle and declare a civil war when the parties who would fight that war have not yet declared one. The media appear to prefer to go for the schock approach instead of a responsible one.

And of course, the ITM blog,

Life is coming back to normal in Baghdad and marketplaces and offices are open again after being shut for 4 days. Although there were a few security incidents today people are mostly looking at these as part of the usual daily situation and not related to the latest shrine crisis.

And

However, it seems there are also some positive outcomes from this incident and its aftermath; the first one in my opinion was the performance of the Iraqi army which had a good role in restoring order in many places. Actually the past few days showed that our new army is more competent than we were thinking.
Now, these comments may seem a little Pollyanish, but they are from local sources. Here is a link to ITM, which like IraqiPundit, is very interesting, in case anybody is ever interested in reading it.

Guess what: two thirds of the US public are loser-defeatists too:

"The latest CBS News poll finds President Bush's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, while pessimism about the Iraq war has risen to a new high. (...)

By two to one, the poll finds Americans think U.S. efforts to bring stability to Iraq are going badly – the worst assessment yet of progress in Iraq."

34%: that's nearing Nixon in Watergate. Doing that without Watergate is a real accomplishment.

DaveC,
I'm sure at that as Alaric bearing down on Rome, there were people at the Forum wondering what all the fuss was about. For example, from the ITM link

I live here and I've seen the whole thing. The demonstrations in Baghdad began after the fatwa and I saw how shop keepers unwillingly closed their shops when the men in black with their arms and loudspeakers ordered them to do so "in the name of the Hawza" and I saw the sad look on the faces of people abandoning their only source of income for a time that could go indefinitely.

That people get on with their lives, because they have to eat, they have to live, should not be taken as proof that there is no problem or that things are being exaggerated. I think we, as Westerners who have, for the most part, never experienced the breakdown that we see in Iraq, imagine that things will revert to complete chaos. Yet in accounts of the worst kind of catastrophes and social breakdowns, some kind of social order exists, and to point to it as evidence that things are not as bad as they are being portrayed is incorrect, I think, though I will admit that I don't really know.

Austin Bay comments

I had a long talk Saturday afternoon (February 25) with an Iraqi friend (a Sunni). This was his conclusion. My friend praised reporting at the Iraq The Model website.

The attack on the Golden Mosque (or any holy site in Iraq) is the terrorists’ “silver bullet” (apologies to the Lone Ranger). “Golden bullet” would be more metaphorically consistent. A major attack on a holy site was regarded as inevitable. Zarqawi’s letter captured in February 2004 said he intended to ignite a sectarian war in Iraq. In June 2004 and August 2004 attended two staff meetings in Babil at the Polish division headquarters. The Poles and Iraqi police constantly focused on wow to secure Shia sites and protect Shia pilgrims in the Najaf and Karbala areas.

Well, a shrine has blown but the massive, fatal, democracy-destroying sectarian war hasn’t ignited. The next two weeks, however, will be a difficult passage.

I agree that there is a crisis in Iraq now. But many people predicted that the elections, constitutional referendum, etc., would never happen. Meanwhile, there are some places in Iraq that look like this.

That all places are not Hell on earth is not valid proof that Hell has not opened up somewhere.

The Washington Post reported 1300 killed.

"Grisly attacks and other sectarian violence unleashed by last week's bombing of a Shiite shrine have killed more than 1,300 Iraqis

What if the real number is something like 200? That is still terrible. But let us remember that the destruction of the golden mosque was a well planned attack. I'm speculating Al-Qaeda-In-Iraq thought that this would precipitate an all out civil war.

Can some good come of this, as Bill Roggio suggests?

The Iraqi politicians have the opportunity to prevent future problems such as those which occurred in the aftermath of the destruction of the golden dome by insisting on the disbanding of the militias and reforming and reorganizing the Interior Ministry battalions. If these reforms can be implemented the power of Sadr, and by proxy Iran, will diminish.

Can some good come of this, as Bill Roggio suggests?

No. No good will come of this. Certainly not for Americans, and in the short term, not for Iraqis either.

The idea that the manifest failure of American forces and the New! Iraqi government to prevent the Golden Mosque bombing will lead to the disbanding of, say, Shiite militias is so ludicrous as to defy satire.

Sistani is talking about militias now, for Judas Priest's sake.

DaveC- You said "But many people predicted that the elections, constitutional referendum, etc., would never happen."

I'm pretty sure I've seen Republicans make that claim before, but even though I spend a lot of time on liberal websites I've never seen anyone say that elections, etc would never happen, at least not that I recall.

Could you give an example of someone who said that?

"Insisting on disbanding the militias": succeeding in disbanding the militias would do a lot of good (I'm on record as thinking that the militias are one of the largest problems in Iraq.) But just insisting won't do any good without the military force to do more than ask nicely. And if, as a lot of people have reported, the army and police have been thoroughly infiltrated by the militias, I don't think that force is available to Iraqi politicians -- at least, not to those who aren't aligned with militias themselves.

interesting post. Excerpt:

Although the Iraqi Army (or National Guard) is often targeted by insurgent attacks, it should be mentioned that most Iraqis tend to have higher trust in them, compared to the notorious Interior Ministry forces (Maghaweer Al-Dakhiliya). The Interior Ministry forces were formed early last year as special forces or commando units to backup regular army units. The earliest unit was the renowned Wolf Brigade, trained by US forces and comprised of elite members of the former Iraqi special forces. It operated in Sunni governorates and helped restore order in Mosul.

Following Baqir Solagh's (SCIRI) appointment as Interior Minister, he started forming his own units, the Scorpion Brigade, the Public Order Brigade, the Al-Karrar Brigade, and the Al-Hussein Brigade. These units were explicitly named after Shi'ite religious symbols, and are thought to be entirely composed of former members of Badr brigade (SCIRI's armed wing). Solagh started a purge in his ministry around July, 2005, disposing of several Sunni officers -whom he labelled as ex-Ba'athists- and replaced them with high ranked officers of unkown origins. General Muntadher Al-Samarra'i, one of the purged officers, defected to Jordan and started disclosing secret documents proving the existence of death and torture squads inside the ministry. He uncovered a campaign of assassinations by the ministry against former Iraqi air force pilots, who took part in the Iraq-Iran war, as well as orders to assassinate several Iraqi academics, political and religious figures. Solagh strongly denied these allegations and pointed out that the assassinations and kidnappings were carried out by insurgents in stolen police uniforms and vehicles. When the Jadriya prison scandal was uncovered, he proposed that Ba'athist elements that had infiltrated his ministry were behind the torture and extrajudicial executions.

A few months ago, when Baghdad was ripe with news of Interior ministry's death squads raiding Sunni neighbourhoods at night, the local National Guard commander in our area started touring mosques to warn them from uniformed security forces operating at night. The commander's own words were "Never, never open your doors to security forces after dark. If they attempt to force their way in, be prepared to defend yourselves." That was the time when people started forming neighbourhood watch teams again.

Baqir Solagh = Bayan Jabr--that had me confused for a minute.

"I'm speculating Al-Qaeda-In-Iraq thought that this would precipitate an all out civil war."

DaveC, I just have no evidence that al-Qaeda has ever done anything like this, a well-engineered demolition(save for 9/11). The guards weren't killed. al-Qaeda kills people. al-Qaeda always takes credit. al-Qaeda and OBL have a friendly relationship with Iran, IIRC. al-Qaeda took credit for the SA oil facility attack.

Now the ones who have a practice of destroying old shrines and mosques are the Wahhabists and salafists. All over the Islamic world. This feels state-sponsored, unusually organized, and targeted directly at Shia, including Iran. I think Saudi Arabia.

As far as civil war in Iraq, I hope you are right. But it was important to pull the Iraqi Sunni into the process and away from their friends and neighbors in the Arab/Sunni world, even if it meant anti-majoritarian concessions. Riyadh and Damascus will always have an eye on Baghdad and Jerusaleum. Whatever Iraqis want, SA really really doesn't want a Shia-controlled Iraq.

DaveC
Meanwhile, there are some places in Iraq that look like this.

Perhaps I am just a l-d, but when Totten writes:
It shouldn’t be a big deal to just drive through a place for ten minutes where Al Qaeda hides out. But a brief conversation I had with a driver and translator in Erbil made quite an impression on me. After driving around the city for two hours, my translator said “If we were doing this in Baghdad we would be dead by now.”

I am not relieved.

Could you give an example of someone who said that?

Hmm, I suppose the would never happen phrase is yet another example of me putting my foot in my mouth. But PBS news show advocated postponing them

And Juan Cole and Scott Ritter denounced the elections.


"'In Bremer's account...' ...Atrios"

Not to knock Mr. Black, but I had a post that was about twenty times more substantial a few days ago on Bremer's book. I mention this on the chance you might like to read more about it, Bob.

DaveC: "The thugs of Moktada Al Sadr were responsible for most of the attacks."

It may not have crossed your attention that Sadr has 32 votes in the new Parliament, the largest bloc in the Shiite coalition of 61 votes, and that it was he who forced the re-election of Prime Minister al-Jaafari. It's difficult to write about Sadr as if he was somehow someone to be dismissed when he's the most powerful man in the new government. What's your point?

And citing rants about the evil media is fact free. If you'd like to convince people of something, perhaps you'd like to cite facts, not adjectives? Basically, your entire long quote from "Iraq Pundit" is entirely content-free. What this is supposed to convince anyone of, other than that the writer apparently is uninterested in facts, and can't cite any, I dunno, but it's a pretty odd way to support anything at all.

As for the quotes from "Iraq The Model," my, but that's selective. Do you think the rest of us don't read that blog, and can't cite other bits from recent posts? This is, to say the least, an unconvincing way to present an argument. (Although I'd also point out that the writers are just twop guys, and their opinions and versions of things are no more authoritative than that; one can cite plenty of other Iraqi bloggers for a wide range of individual views, including plenty that wildly disagree with him, from any number of points of view.)

But, in any case, you selectively quote ITM, and don't quote stuff such as this:

As if we didn't have enough problems already!

The quality of the target and the timing of the attack were chosen in a way that can possibly bring very serious consequences over the country.

[...]

Things look scary here in Baghdad and I hope there won't be more updates to report as I can't see a positive thing coming out of this.

"Now, these comments may seem a little Pollyanish, but they are from local sources."

Gee, so are Raed and Riverbend and Zeyad. and Salem Pax, and a few dozen other Iraqi bloggers I could cite. Oddly, you don't cite any of them. Instead, you cherry-pick the one blog that's the most cheerful about everything, and even there you only cherry-pick the most optimistic few sentences you can find. I wonder why. (Okay, no, I don't; also, by the way, I am a "local source" in the U.S.; obviously, therefore, what I observe about the U.S. must be correct, given my expertise. Or, wait, maybe there's a fallacy in this reasoning! [Though not in this particular claim, of course.] But if you want to cite Iraqi bloggers as experts, you can't ignore that the majority of them don't back your preferred take on things.) But here's a fine case of how to selectively regard Iraqi bloggers. Gee, was that apology ever posted? Remember when Zeyad used to be so popular with Jeff Jarvis and Glenn and all the pro-war blogs? Whatever happened to that enthusiasm?

"Hmm, I suppose the would never happen phrase is yet another example of me putting my foot in my mouth. But PBS news show advocated postponing them."

Gee, DaveC, you know who was the most important proponent of not holding the Iraqi elections, and only held them when they were held because Ayatollah Sistani insisted on it? A guy named George W. Bush. Have you forgotten that? Why was President Bush such a loser-defeatist?

"But PBS news show advocated postponing them"

"PBS news show" isn't actually a human being, and can't advocate anything. Did you actually read your own cite? Are you trying to claim that "Eric Davis, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Rutgers University," or "Anas Shallal, founder of the group Iraqi-Americans for Peaceful Alternatives," speak for the non-existent editorial position of the PBS Newshour? No? Then you'd back up your claim how, and with what facts, exactly?

Gary,
three posts in row is a bit de trop, especially the last one. You made your point (as you always do), so how about giving DaveC some space to respond? Please?

Sorry, comments, not posts.

"You made your point (as you always do), so how about giving DaveC some space to respond?"

I responded in three comments to two comments, and three separate points; DaveC made four separate comments. This is hardly excessive or unusual or superfluous of me. Neither am I remotely capable of not giving DaveC space to respond here.

Sorry, I was assuming that you read down the whole thread before responding to DaveC. While my experience in online fora is not as extensive as yours, I would humbly suggest that this could cause problems, especially as this forum has a shortage of conservatives willing to discuss and engage. Just my opinion, which you may ignore if you wish. I also agree that the comment is not "excessive or unusual or superfluous of [you]." However, I am of the firm opinion that DaveC does know the difference between a PBS news show and actual people, which is why I thought that the last comment was OTT. If I were to write it, I might say

Dave C,
I don't think your cite of the PBS news show supports what you are arguing here because...

Again, I repeat, this is my own opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone else and quite possibly may run completely contrary to everyone's opinions.

DaveC- I don't think you put your foot in your mouth exactly. What I was getting at was that I thought you were repeating a right-wing talking point that happens to be a lie. Now that makes me mad when I do it, but I'm not upset to see someone else make that kind of mistake.

People advocating postponement of the elections or denouncing them for say a lack of honesty aren't what I asked for as you are obviously aware. Those kinds of statements or even George W. Bush preventing elections aren't in any way similar to cases of people (influencial or not) who somehow thought that the US wouldn't be able to create something that at least vaugely resembled fair and free elections.

I guess it comes down to a straw man that I imagine I see in many Republican's arguements and for that matter minds. The straw man is, I think, blown up from taking 'Liberal' arguements to an extreme.

Molly Ivins, among many others, thought that after invading Iraq we would win the war quickly but have "the occupation from hell." I can understand that Republicans feel that if not everyone in Iraq died within a year of the invasion that constitutes a win for their team. But I don't think it looks like that to many outside the Republican circle. (And I don't suppose it does for you either. I'm not claiming you really think that way. Just that some people on your side do, and it creeps into your discourse.)

Glenn Greenwald nails it today. The Bush Administration, the one which ran on restoring "honor and dignity to the White House", the one which when it was elected put out the meme that the grown-ups are back in charge, the one whose supporters have no hesitation in calling opponents cowards and people who cut and run, is now the one whose supporters are trying their hardest to find someone, anyone, else to take the blame for their mistakes.

I think most people can remember the film of Vietnam, undeniably in the grips of a wrenching civil war, long files of heavily armed GIs walking down roads, while farmers blithely led oxen up and down the paddies on either side; and the blaring commerce in the big cities, even as the bombs went off, and the markets in the villages, that would close up at night as the men would circle out of the back of town carrying AK-47's. The continuing existence of life is not evidence of peace. People don't just collapse and lie starving once a line called "Civil War" is crossed. This isn't 1865, when "Civil War" meant huge concentrations of troops cutting huge swaths of devastation across the landscape. Civil wars in the modern era occur, horribly, interspersed with the everyday lives of the population. Anybody remember when the Serbs shelled the Sarajevo marketplace? Anyway, this is not to say that Iraq is irretrievably sliding into civil war; how the f**k would I know? All I'm suggesting is that the fact that people are returning to "marketplaces and offices" is not any independent confirmation of anything. Where else are they supposed to go?

Oh, and FYI, Gary, Yes, the apology was posted.

"Oh, and FYI, Gary, Yes, the apology was posted."

I'd say "good," but reading the "apology," Blackfive still insisted on leading off with his preferred version of the facts: "The details from the Washington Post (subscription required) are that the soldiers forced the two Iraqi men into the river, but contend that both of the men got out. Investigators are saying that there are reports that the man who was allegedly drowned is actually alive and hiding in Samarra in order for his family to collect money from the government."

Very comforting, I'm sure.

However, repeatedly ignoring and mocking the truth and everyone who believes the truth, because you don't want to believe the truth, and can't believe the truth, simply because it offends your understanding of reality, despite the fact that it is reality, isn't generally a good sign in an analyst. Or in a POV. But it's good that Blackfive at least apologized to Zeyad for the death of his cousin who actually maybe isn't dead, but instead is reportedly a fraud from a lying family. Very stand-up, that.

I just read the past few posts on Baghdad Burning, and the Feb 11 post, about a raid, just makes me very sad.
http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/2006_02_01_riverbendblog

Dave C wrote--

The Washington Post reported 1300 killed.

"Grisly attacks and other sectarian violence unleashed by last week's bombing of a Shiite shrine have killed more than 1,300 Iraqis
What if the real number is something like 200? That is still terrible. But let us remember that the destruction of the golden mosque was a well planned attack. I'm speculating Al-Qaeda-In-Iraq thought that this would precipitate an all out civil war.


End of DaveC quote.

Okay, I don't quite get that part about "what if the real number is something like 200?" The Washington Post article appears to show that the real number is much larger, so is there any reason to think it's much less?

Loser-defeatist soldiers: according to Zogby, as quoted on Calpundit, 26% of the soldiers in Iraq think we should leave immediately and 76% think we should get out within a year.
By the way, of the fifty-two vets running for Congress, only two or three are Republicans.

Looks like most of the U.S. is joining the League of Loser-Defeatists. Hopefully the Congressional Dems will eventually figure out where the votes are.

Aside from the relief that all must (or should) feel at reports that the Suuni and Shia are much more resistant to the temptation toward sectarian violence against their neighbors, and the likely civil war that would result, I'd suggest that those displaying triumphalism for their particular political viewpoint on Iraq pause for reconsideration.

If the aim of this particular act (destroying a holy shrine) was, as seems likely, to cause sectarian violence, it has done extremely well. Consider that 1,300 deaths compares to more than 13,000 deaths adjusted for the population of the US if this were to happen there. Consider also the ramifications of that, as those who have lost a friend or loved one to this kind of violence are probably not going to be as moderate in retaliation the next time this happens.

And as the attack was extremely well-planned and pertetuated by those who seemed to know what they were doing, I'd expect more provocation, and soon.

Also, as a direct result of this act and the resulting chaos we are seeing a great deal more private, ethnic, neighborhood, or political-based militias forming, I'd say the situation has destabilized terribly.

Tim,

"Hopefully the Congressional Dems will eventually figure out where the votes are."

And hopefully before Diebold does.

< /tinfoil hat >

Well I didn't mean to come off as triumphalist. I don't want the Iraqis to suffer more, not even to make Bush look bad. I sited the soldier poll to show the foolishness of labelling people as "loser-defeatists".

My comment wasn't directed at you, Lily, apologies if it came across that way.

Oh thanks, DPD.
I'm not sure that Iraq is going into a civil war. I am also not sure that we Americans can effect eventsw one way or the other. I read an Iraqi blog that put forth the idea that the Iraqi civil war, if there is one, will not be between Sunnis and Shiities at all-- the division the blogger saw was between supporters of the current government and opponents. The blogger thought that militias would proliferate and form alliances with each other either to undermine or to shore up the Shiite faction of the government. I'm sorry-- I don't remember who the blogger was. I was on one of my wanders around Iraqi links so who knows?

I'm not sure that Iraq is going into a civil war.

I'm not sure it can avoid one if even one effective group desires it to be so. And as I can think of several groups that might think it to their benefit, I'm not sure what will stop it from happening.

LJ: what does "l-d" mean: lad, led, lid, lod, lud, lyd, lwd? (from your 1:34 am post) (and i hope that's not local time).

more generally, if the Coalition forces have so successfully trained so many hundreds of thousands of military, police and security forces, where the *&^@^* were they during the rioting? can anyone help with an analysis of (a) total number of iraqi individuals with any kind of military or paramilitary training; (b) breakdown by type of training; (c) location of deployment area; and (d) location of most serious rioting since destruction of Golden Dome? [yes, Gary, I know about Google; I'm just very busy today.]

sorry about that, just too lazy to type it all out

l-d=loser-defeatist

my time: add 15 hours

Francis:
l-d loser-defeatist

Consider that 1,300 deaths compares to more than 13,000 deaths adjusted for the population of the US if this were to happen there.

If you take the lower figure advanced by DaveC above, and add deaths since that figure emerged, and adjust for population, you're going to get some bit north of the 9/11 death toll.

I guess hope that people will maintain a pre-Dome mindset dies slowly.

It occurs to me, though, that a tapering off of violence this week is as significant to determining whether or not Iraq is experiencing a civil war as the events of 9/13/01 through 10/01/01 here were to determining whether the US was at war. No one involved is forgetting anything, and I doubt anyone is forgiving anything. Just biding time . . .

No one involved is forgetting anything, and I doubt anyone is forgiving anything. Just biding time . . .

That seems to be the case. Reports are that the Sunnis are forming armed militias in Baghdad, and that part of the reason for the relative calm are that there are militias patrolling everywhere. And I say "relative calm" because 68 people were killed today in Baghdad.

I think all it's going to take is one hard shove.

Francis, most of the deaths were not from rioting. They were colder and more systematic -- the result of armed men dragging people from their houses and cars, taking them away, and killing them. Most of this took place in mixed (Shia-Sunni) neighborhoods of Baghdad. Most such deaths in the immediate aftermath were Sunnis victimized by Shia gunmen. In time, there will be counter-reprisals against Shias. (Some have already happened.)

A (woman) reporter from Al-Arabiya and her staffer in Samarra covering the mosque destruction were taken from their vehicle and lynched. That was something like rioting. Al-Arabiya is Saudi-owned.

Throughout Baghdad and southward, Shia gunmen took over Sunni mosques. Sometimes they destroyed them (with fire, and in one case with explosives). Zeyad's blog (healingiraq.blogspot.com) has pictures of Shia banners/flags being flown from the roofs of others.

Consider that 1,300 deaths compares to more than 13,000 deaths adjusted for the population of the US if this were to happen there.

If you take the lower figure advanced by DaveC above, and add deaths since that figure emerged, and adjust for population, you're going to get some bit north of the 9/11 death toll.

I want to point out that whatever the number is, the US military did not kill 1300 people or 200 people, or whatever is suggested by comparing this to 9/11. Or if you would attribute the deaths in Iraq to sectarian groups, as far as I know, neither 13,000 nor 1300 nor 130 were killed by sectarian violence in the US after 9/11.

Hell, I doubt that 130 people were killed in the explosion that destroyed the mosque.

I put the fault for the violence primarily on Al Qaeda in Iraq and Shiite militias. My understanding is that the Iraqi government didn't blow up the mosque or incite the violence, right?

"Hell, I doubt that 130 people were killed in the explosion that destroyed the mosque."

DaveC, AFAIK no one was killed in the explosion that destroyed the mosque. Really weird.

The numbers cited by everyone I don't thin are to lay death directly at anyone's feet, but just to try to estimate the internal impact on the mood of Iraqis. It has not been a unifying or reassuring week.

OTOH, the mosque had been safe for centuries. Something changed in Iraq.

"My understanding is that the Iraqi government didn't blow up the mosque or incite the violence, right?"

Check out the Interior ministry. Katherine and hilzoy I think provided some information. It is not all the gov't, but it appears a death-squad department is being allowed to operate with gov't sanction or indifference. And the Interior Ministry is a key sticking point in forming a unity gov't.


DaveC: I put the fault for the violence primarily on Al Qaeda in Iraq and Shiite militias. My understanding is that the Iraqi government didn't blow up the mosque or incite the violence, right?

Does this statement mean that you think people here have implied otherwise?

If so, where? And why?

dpu- The guilty flee when no man pursueth, though in this case some people might say the Republican party or the Bush administration share some responsibility for creating the conditions that make this violence possible.

DaveC, I wasn't suggesting in any way that the US had caused the deaths, or that they were the result of a single explosion.

I agree with you that the deaths seem to have been caused by militias, some of which are closely associated with (a) a government ministry or (b) a major religious/political figure who has a substantial following in the coalition that won the election (and will have in the eventual cabinet), and others with a deposed former regime. Isn't this civil war? When something like it happened in Lebanon -- deaths by faction, on sectarian lines, army standing aside -- we used the term.

WRT the US in late September 2001 -- my point was that being "at war" doesn't always mean someone is getting killed every day. I'm not sure US soldiers have killed or wounded anyone associated with AQ in the Hindu Kush today. Does that mean there's no war? No, that would be silly. We don't look each day at the tempo of operations to decide whether or not there's a state of war. We look at a broader more general situation. It seems to me that anyone who thinks the US was at war in late September 2001, or today even, would have also to say that particular factions in Iraq -- AQ, the Baathists, Badr, Mehdi, Interior Ministry death squads -- are at war.

The people who deny that there is a civil war going on seem to me to be doing so for US domestic political reasons, rather than because they are striving to protect the English language from debasement.

I'll note, also, that the source of the 1,300 number -- the morgue -- is what we would ordinarily consider the most accurate with regard to counting dead people.

Nell:

precisely my point. we have, apparently, trained hundreds of thousands of iraqis for various military and paramilitary functions. yet no one calls 911.

if no one trusts the cops, then the cops are just another gang. The Wiki on Lebanon states that civil war really got going when the army dissolved into militias. Have the various iraqi forces ever formed into a unified army / police force?

I want to point out that whatever the number is, the US military did not kill 1300 people or 200 people, or whatever is suggested by comparing this to 9/11."

Sure, and Martians didn't do it, either. So what? No one has remotely suggested the U.S. military did this; what's that got to do with anything?

"Or if you would attribute the deaths in Iraq to sectarian groups, as far as I know, neither 13,000 nor 1300 nor 130 were killed by sectarian violence in the US after 9/11."

And, also, that many deaths weren't attributed to killer Venus Fly-traps. Who cares? What's with the complete non-sequiturs?

"Hell, I doubt that 130 people were killed in the explosion that destroyed the mosque."

No one has said that anyone was destroyed in at the shrine. Also, Paul Newman has very blue eyes. Two points equally relevant to the discussion.

"I put the fault for the violence primarily on Al Qaeda in Iraq and Shiite militias."

Yes, those problems are grave, as is the problem of the Sunni insurgency. And?

"My understanding is that the Iraqi government didn't blow up the mosque or incite the violence, right?"

Also, not caused by bubonic plague. So?

Dave, have you noticed that you just uttered a string of complete non-sequiturs, at with the exception of your next to last sentence, have nothing to do with either anything anyone here has said or anything anyone is concerned about? I guess not.
What on earth is your point with these non-sequiturs?

The US should not occupy Iraq, because that is imperialistic, yet the US has not commmited enough troops.

The US is at fault for the violence in Iraq because the US is not an enough active agent in suppressing the violence. Yet when the US military acts, they are condemned for the casulaties that include those inflicted by the very people we are fighting against.

The US should leave Iraq and/but to do so is to allow a civil war to happen. But the people who want the conflict to be resolved are castigated fo being in favor of a civil war.

Yes, everybody agrees that Saddam was bad, but the US is much worse,

Etc, etc, etc

I am not so clever as you are, so if the US is blamed for both action and inaction, then it is difficult for me to respond coherently to your criticism when I don't think that the US military or foreign policy was a factor in what happened in Iraq over the past few days. This is like blaming the Danish government for violence in Pakistan and Nigeria.

I think that the Iraqi people don't want to give in to either the Al-Qaeda-In-Iraq forces or the militant Shiites, and that the outcome of this catastrophe will be proof that the majority of Iraqis want to be moderate, not radical.

Dave, are you responding to any particular person, or statement? Or are you just launching into a set of complete strawmen on your own?

"Yes, everybody agrees that Saddam was bad, but the US is much worse...."

Who is this "everybody"?

"I am not so clever as you are, so if the US is blamed for both action and inaction, then it is difficult for me to respond coherently to your criticism...."

Who is the "you" in this
sentence?

"...the majority of Iraqis want to be moderate, not radical."

What does this mean? What is "moderate" and "radical" in contemporary Iraqi context?

DaveC,
I appreciate the fact that a lot of this seems contradictory and such. I think one problem is that you are not separating the threads of the argument. In truth, when you've got people posting, one atop another, it is quite difficult to separate them out. But to take individual aspects of separate people's arguments and put them together invites confusion.

So, for example, you suggest that (and you don't say who) the argument that the US is imperialistic is naturally contradicted by the lamentations that the administration did not send in enough troops. However, the first belief (in American imperialism) is an argument about aims, while the second complaint (about providing sufficient manpower) speaks to whether the admin actually understood the goals well enough to take the necessary steps. I could think my neighbor is an idiot for building a shed in his backyard that would block the view from his back window and I could ridicule him for not actually buying enough materials so that when he goes to try and build it, he can't finish before the rainy season hits. Neither one of those thoughts negates the other. While it seems heartless to compare human suffering to a neighbor building a shed, that's the best I can do at the moment for an analogy.

I get the impression that you are quite confused with our (i.e. the liberals here at ObWi as a group) reaction to the current situation in Iraq. I think that this is because, as an event that we don't have much insight into (who, how and why still remain very fuzzy), we are going to use it to launch into whatever viewpoints we have, and those views can be quite scattered. I'm not sure what to suggest, because I'm not sure if it is possible to draw a single thread out of the varied thoughts and opinions expressed here, but realizing that might help you better react to that. Hope that helps.

Those darn liberal loser-defeatists continue whining.

Hey, DaveC: Mohammed at Iraq The Model has a new question.

The latest post, from Omar, after that seems a tad short on the optimism, too.

Certainly it is a crisis situation, and perhaps even the 1300 deaths is correct, but the events have not yet precipitated an all out civil war.

It is good to read ITM. I trust them as much as about any other source.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the militia activity will decrease after what I see as a major effort to bust up Iraq. And if I get a pony, I'll cut up some pony steaks to send to you if you have enough room in the fridge.

And if I get a pony, I'll cut up some pony steaks to send to you if you have enough room in the fridge.

While I live in a country that celebrates such a foodstuff, I have to say, the idea of wishing for a pony and then butchering it is soooo wrong.

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