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July 18, 2006

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There's endless horribleness in the news. I'm much too depressed and pre-occupied to blog any of it.

One could go with U.N. Estimates Nearly 6,000 Iraqi Civilians Died in 2 Months, or with Bombings Bring Season of Fear to Seaside Resort, or with the falling eggs, or even with Tsunami Toll Rises to 300 in Indonesia, or Hundreds of Maoist Rebels Storm a Relief Camp in India, Killing 25.

And so on and so forth. China: Storm Ravages South and Kills at Least 170; Afghanistan: Taliban Take Control of 2 Towns.

The humans-kill-mass-numbers-of-humans stories tend to seem worse than natural disasters, though. One would prefer to dream that those are somehow more preventable.

Darnit Hilzoy, if only you were clapping harder we'd be winning this...whatever the hell it is these days.

Also, Tinkerbell's gonna die unless you say "I do believe in fairies" over and over again.

You know, after attacks like this, a part of me (the part that gives vent to evil impulses) says that the Mahdi army has some justification in going after the communities that support those killers.

wow, a perfect death spiral. We couldn't have done more harm if we'd tried.

how's the ethnic cleansing in Kirkuk coming? are the Kurds getting ready to declare independence and seek UN recognition?

"are the Kurds getting ready to declare independence and seek UN recognition?"

That latter is hard to get without some sponsors, particularly some on the Security Council, but also, in the end, a majority in both the General Assembly and Security Council.

I'm unaware of whom their sponsor on the Security Council, let alone one of the vetoing members, might be. Suggestions?

G'Kar?

G'Kar?

Now you're just trying to bait me.

On topic, the International Crisis Group claims that Kirkuk is going to be the next big problem in Iraq.

freedom is on the march, and war is right behind, with a bayonet to freedom's back.

When will we know that there is a civil war?

Just kidding. If we aren't allowed to know what victory is, why should we know when there is a civil war?

When will we know that there is a civil war?

there will be a civil war as soon as there is a political advantage for Bush to say there is, but not a second before.

RE: the Update.

Clap!

And in case you hadn't been paying attention:

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's Hizbollah, which claims links to the Lebanese group of the same name, said on Tuesday it stood ready to attack Israeli and U.S. interests worldwide.

"We have 2,000 volunteers who have registered since last year," said Iranian Hizbollah's spokesman Mojtaba Bigdeli, speaking by telephone from the central seminary city of Qom.

"They have been trained and they can become fully armed. We are ready to dispatch them to every corner of the world to jeopardise Israel and America's interests. We are only waiting for the Supreme Leader's green light to take action. If America wants to ignite World War Three ... we welcome it," he said.

They're not going to care much that you've been utterly critical of Israel, I say to no one in particular.

Although for now it's apt to just be talk.

Probably. (It's not as if Hezbollah hasn't massacred Americans in huge numbers before.)

Didn't the President of Texas want Osama dead or alive?

Scene:

Presidential aide skips down corridor of White House, dips head through the open door of the Oval Office: "Hey, we got him!"

Commander-in Chief, chipmunking a huge bite of ham and cheese into his cheek, "Got who, ya little bastard?"

Aide, now fully standing in doorway, presents his hands as if proffering a successful magic trick: "Why, Osama, who else? And get this, it only cost us $30 grand! Yes!!" (highfives the statue of Marmaduke in the corner.)

Commander-in-Chief, hawking a bolus of partially chewed sourdough with ham and muenster across the Oval Office Eagle rug: "Well, shit, get the Sultan on the phone. This may be a little too early to cheat the midterms. And ask Cheney, nicely mind you, if he has time to see me. Get those Medicare bureaucrats on the blower (heh heh, just a little Clinton joke) and tell them we're sending legislation up to the Hill requesting that Medicare be cut by $30 billion. You heard me, that's $30 billion, not $30 grand, (Bush winks, taps head with forefinger). I ain't the President of Texas fer nothin. That's exactly, let me cipher now, drop the two and carry the nine, $29,999,970,000 of political capital, if ya don't count a dead Schiavo or two.

Get me turd-blossom."

"fer nothin" being the Andover politically correct way of saying f--- you.

They're not going to care much that you've been utterly critical of Israel, I say to no one in particular.

That would be a fair observation if such criticism were made in order to not be targeted by terrorists. Some may have been critical for other reasons.

"Some may have been critical for other reasons."

As I've noted many times, I don't know any sane person who approves of innocent civilians, particularly children, being massacred, or "even" severely injured. It's a horrible thing.

As I've noted many times, I don't know any sane person who approves of innocent civilians, particularly children, being massacred, or "even" severely injured.

Aha. Been avoiding LGF, have you?

Good man.

100 civilians/day doesn't actually sound that bad to me - I had assumed there was a high background of personal violence that wasn't getting reported as much as the mediagenic spasms. 40k/year isn't that far off from the 100k/conflict number the Lancet study estimated.

"Aha. Been avoiding LGF, have you?"

For years now. [shudder]

There is a Hezbollah in Iraq, as well. What makes them successful, it seems, is the activity and relationships developed with the local Shia groups. I suspect the attack on Americans, in Lebanon, were executed by local boys.

It seems that all the major players in Shia Iraq have strong ties to Tehran and would be more than willing to defend their “brothers.”

Then there is this piece of wisdom:

King Hussein may have ideas for Israel in bringing its Lebanon problem under control. The predominantly Shia population of southern Lebanon has been tied for centuries to the Shia leadership in Najf, Iraq rather than Iran. Were the Hashemites to control Iraq, they could use their influence over Najf to help Israel wean the south Lebanese Shia away from Hizballah, Iran, and Syria. Shia retain strong ties to the Hashemites: the Shia venerate foremost the Prophet’s family, the direct descendants of which — and in whose veins the blood of the Prophet flows — is King Hussein.

From:
A Clean Break
A New Strategy for Securing the Realm

I wonder what Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg and David Wurmser are up to today?

d-p-u, he said "sane".


Incidentally, by "bad" above I meant "not as bad as one might fear", not "not awful".

"It seems that all the major players in Shia Iraq have strong ties to Tehran...."

Yeah, not so much. Might want to look into the differences between Ayatollah Sistani, and the Najaf Ayatollahs, and those of Iran and Qom.

I finally broke down and bought Assassin's Gate (usually I wait until books come out in soft-cover). That, plus the recent news from Iraq, has me at new depths of pessimism for the future of that country. I'm increasingly of the opinion that when we eventually pull out of Iraq, a bloodbath will ensue that will make Southeast Asia 1975-79 look like a slap-fight.

ThirdGorchBro: It's supposed to be very good, though the (to me) incredibly annoying account (=caricature) of what liberals (=, I guess, whoever Packer hangs out with; I don't know any of these alleged 'liberals') thought (if what Packer describes merits that term) made me throw the book across the room in disgust. Literally. My cats were very alarmed.

Rumor has it the book is great after that runup, and sometime I will get around to what will be my third time trying to get to that good part.

As I recall, Packer claims to be a liberal himself.

If I may toot my own horn, my review of it is here. I thought it was quite good, if depressing.

Which section of the book are you talking about, hilzoy? Like Andrew said, Packer calls himself a liberal in the book. I don't remember any descriptions of liberals that I thought were offensive, but since I'm not a liberal maybe I just missed it. :)

Good review, Andrew, thanks for the link.

BTW, hil, I too missed your appearance on CSPAN. Let me know if it ever gets put on YouTube or something like that.

BTW, hil, I too missed your appearance on CSPAN. Let me know if it ever gets put on YouTube or something like that.

The put it up on their website, I believe.

3GB: I pulled out my copy of _Assassin's Gate_ again. I think that what made me put (not throw) the book down the first time was p. 34: "For lifelong doves, the first sip of this drink called humanitarian intervention carried a special thrill..." -- This was just because I have a sort of visceral aversion to the way of thinking that leads to finding wars thrilling. Not that I don't understand it; just that, to me, it's like fingernails on a blackboard.

What made me throw the book across the room the second time I tried was p. 86, about the antiwar (anti-Iraq-war, that is) movement: "The movement's assumptions were based on moral innocence -- on an inability to imagine the horror in which Iraqis lived, and a desire for all good things to go together. War is evil; therefore, the prevention of war must be good." -- That's what made me think: well, that may be why some part of you was against the war, George Packer, but for heaven's sake don't go attributing that to all the rest of us.

It's not just the idea that those of us who opposed the war were just ignorant of the horrors of life under Saddam (wrong); it's the assumption that wrong though they might have been, the Iraq hawks were at least clear-eyed and realistic, while the rest of us were, essentially, children, living in our regrettably fictional "morally innocent" universe, in which war is just bad and peace is just good and there are no tough choices to be made.

That idea seems to me to be the opposite of the truth. And keeping it in place, even now, annoys me. No doubt this is partly because this isn't the first time I've heard this line of argument, so poor George Packer suffers for the sins of others. But it's kind of annoying when people who vocally supported the war for more or less fantastic reasons turn around and say: well, we were wrong, but at least we aren't moral innocents like you; at least we are willing to look the horror of the world in the face and see it for what it is, rather than living in fantasy-land the way you do.

-- As I said, though, I'm sure this doesn't get in the way of the goodness of the rest of the book, which I will probably try again, as soon as I get through my current book.

Back from lunch, and found the link. Thanks for the heads-up, Ugh. I'll download it when I get off work.

Heh, hilzoy, I'm tempted to snark about the moral innocence of most of the war-protesters who got air-time on tv, but I realize that would be unfair to people like you who opposed the war out of more realistic concerns. :)

Well, it's a really fascinating book, and I think you'll enjoy it. Although "enjoy" is probably the wrong word.

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