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June 08, 2006

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Thanks for adding this bit of news, von. I also made mention of it at Redstate.

Anyone know what position, if any, the former Interior Minister holds in this government? Or has he retired to his home to direct his Ministry squads privately?

The daylight roundup of 50+ people a mile from the Green Zone this week was chillingly like events in El Salvador in 1980. The prompt, safe return of those people would do more to establish some public confidence in this government than almost anything else. I hope the new IM has that kind of power, but am not holding my breath.

Yes, good news, Von. And two good posts.

May I also point out here, since I've pre-banned myself at Red State, that Streiff's (something of a terrorist himself, though a cowardly and probably infertile one) post there with a picture of the dead terrorist Zarqari with commentary indicating he is just another dead liberal is .. what....

...coulterian, limbaughian, hannitytrash, I don't know.

No word yet from Oliver Stone and the paltry number of demagogues on the Left.

I'm wondering how to take the notion of 'Double down' in von's title (and I have no idea why von's titles seem to always be of interest to me) Is the implication that we take only one card and double our bet cause we have our best chance to beat the dealer's hand? If so, what card are we hoping for here?

John, I would say that Streiff's post is sadly par for the course for the rhetoric coming from the far right.

I'm wondering how to take the notion of 'Double down' in von's title (and I have no idea why von's titles seem to always be of interest to me) Is the implication that we take only one card and double our bet cause we have our best chance to beat the dealer's hand?

It's a pun, and a pretty stupid one at that. On one hand, "double down" indicates that two issues are "down" (have been dealt with). On the other, I see these two events as significantly strengthening the position of the Iraqi government; accordingly, now would be a time to double down on Iraq in hopes of a marginally-decent payoff (which, by the current set of low standards, would be to avoid a civil war).

Well it is good news and we needed some.

to paraphrase Alex Chilton: that's great, i hope it improves the situation. we've had good news before.

What is the basis for the apparent belief that Maliki's government is something good for the US? And therefore completion of its formation is an alleged step forward toward "success"? Maliki is basically hostile to US goals and interests.

It is good that Iraq's government appears to still have a pulse, and total chaos may be averted. But it is nonsensical to gush over the allegedly "victory" of such events, which is the breeding of a religious state hostile to US interests.

Yes, the formation of the government is the lesser of two evils, but can we at least be real about the fact that the lesser evil is still doing us very litle good.

Certainly no one can disagree that having Zarqawi out of action is a good thing.

And it is a hopeful thing that there are now nominal heads of the security ministries.

One might quibble that all the lurid photo-ops of Dead Zarqawi are a bit ghoulish: the modern equivalent of jamming the head of a vanquished opponent on a pike and displaying it at the castle gate. But medieval seems to be the zeitgeist right now, both in Iraq and at the White House.

As to the security ministers, one of them seems like he's got a base, which they'll need, but the other looks more like a compromise figurehead. The real test in this matter will come over the next few weeks and months, as they try to get control over the sectarian militias, and then to actually improve the truly disastrous security situation.

In both cases, the main danger I see is that of unrealistically inflated expectations. The unfortunate fact is, Zarqawi was an important symbol, but al-Qaeda is not the main -- or even a principal -- source of the violence in Iraq right now. And political progress inside the Green Zone is one thing, but it's security on the streets in the other 99.999999% of the country that's going to matter, at least in Iraq.

Put it this way: how much do these events matter to the average Iraqi, now and in the foreseeable future? I think that's the real measure of their importance.

Yes, the formation of the government is the lesser of two evils, but can we at least be real about the fact that the lesser evil is still doing us very litle good.

It really depends on how you define our interests, I suppose. In a long-term geopolitical sense maybe, maybe not. Shorter term, I don't see how this can be anything but good (and realistically, for better and more important news than Zarqawi's death - which while satisfying on a base level is of uncertain effect on the ground. I've seen sensible speculation that AQ will increase tempo in Iraq for a time as a show of continuing resolve. At the same time, long term, they will almost certainly prove less efficient.)

I've scaled back my hopes so far that achieving the lesser evil would seem almost a miracle at this point.

Indeed, JM - from current standpoint, 'lesser evil' looks a bit like Camelot, the Monty Python version...

Maliki seems to have used the good news to get his nominees through. That was shrewd planning.

This is Iraq's last, best chance.

Funny -- if this had happened a few weeks back, Jaafari might have kept his PM post.

The new government needs to crack down on the militias, and the rampant corruption. Some improvement in the Iraqi economy will provide jobs to unemployed youth both in Sadr city and Al Anbar. That would have a huge negative impact on the insurgency.

It's great that Maliki has been able to appoint the last of his cabinet - even if it took a Sunni prisoner release, maybe, to do it - but tomorrow is another day, and coalitions are notoriously fickle.

The real test will be if it survives the "coming crackdown", which hopefully won't involve too many death squads.

Then, and only then, will I put one in the positive column.

"As to the security ministers, one of them seems like he's got a base, which they'll need, but the other looks more like a compromise figurehead. The real test in this matter will come over the next few weeks and months, as they try to get control over the sectarian militias, and then to actually improve the truly disastrous security situation."

I wonder whether "get[ting] control over the sectarian militias" will be a prelude to making them nonsectarian. If not, and there's reason to suspect that it won't, then I don't think it counts as progress.

"I wonder whether "get[ting] control over the sectarian militias" will be a prelude to making them nonsectarian."

I would guess that, as always, it's a question of degree. Certainly, religious affiliation is and will remain a central aspect of identity in that culture, and so no institution of any national scope will ever be completely nonsectarian. OTOH, right now, to listen to pretty much all the reports, existing armed groups are loyal almost exclusively to particular religious institutions -- most worrisomely including various Shiite sects -- and not at all to any transcendent type of institution, e.g., a "state" or an "Army." But there obviously are middle possibilities, e.g., a lasting truce, a confederation, some form of shared command, or even the establishment of a unitary national Army composed perhaps of religiously distinct Divisions.

Absent unification by force, no doubt aided by an outside power -- such as that which brought Saddam to power -- it would seem that the only way to achieve any of these possibilities is political. But since sectarianism is a touchstone of politics there, it doesn't seem very likely that any realistic possibility could be described as truly "nonsectarian."

Blah blah blah. As long as they somehow manage to avoid an intra-Shiite battle, I don't care WHAT they're called...

"See also Charles Bird's entry in RedState."

No thank you.

The best comments were made last year, by the War Nerd:
http://www.exile.ru/2005-June-03/war_nerd.html

dmbeaster: "Maliki is basically hostile to US goals and interests."

Cite?

It's also notable that more than a few people have suggested that the most successful (defined as independent, democratic, and perhaps even more) Iraqi goverment will be one that opposes the U.S. and gets it to leave.

If an Iraqi government that at least vaguely respects human rights and democracy comes to exist, I'll certainly be happy with that result. (I'm not saying I'll grant that all the prior death and destruction was a good idea; I'm just saying what I said there.)

(I tend, if it isn't obvious, to resist the dubious and simplistic positions that one has to either be for "peace" and the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops, thus condemning innocent Iraqis to slaughter, or for "war," and thus slaughtering innocent Iraqis ourselves; the situation is more complicated, and we have a duty to fix what what we ruined, in my view; running away, as some of the left advocates, is in my view, advocating more slaughter and a lack of defending the innocent; I think there's a good, but entirely wrong, impulse there; I think we need to be as concerned with Iraqi lives as with American lives, and as concerned with Iraqi results as American results; the one thing that unites stupidity on the American left and right is the utter focus on America uber alles; it's not just about America; damm it.)

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