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April 01, 2008

Comments

There are absolutely intelligent pro-war and pro-surge voices out there who make cogent, compelling arguments.

April Fools!

Too tired to say much beyond: boy, that sure was a stupid article.

the guy's a raging nutcase, fixated on war with Iran. why would expect that anything he'd write wouldn't be aggressively stupid ?

on 9.28.01, he had some advice for our leaders:


    4. It is better to be more feared than loved.
    You can lead by the force of high moral example. It has been done. But it's risky, because people are fickle, and they will abandon you at the first sign of failure. Fear is much more reliable, and lasts longer. Once you show that you are capable of dealing out terrible punishment to your enemies, your power will be far greater.

on 12/11/01, in a piece " We must be imperious, ruthless, and relentless":

    Back at the beginning of our war, when I insisted that this was going to be a vast revolutionary war, and that we would transform the entire Middle East, few were inclined to agree. Now it is just barely over the horizon, but the tyrants, who are always looking as far ahead as they can, can already see it, and they are very frightened. The latest word from Tehran is that the mullahs are afraid that they will have the same destiny as the Taliban.

all of his archives are like that: 11/6/01 (A great revolutionary war is coming), 3/18/02 ( Iran simmers still: Where's the press?), etc., etc., ad bellum.

he is a monster with a demented one-track mind: War With Iran! Faster, Please!

I don't think it's a stretch to say that there are Iranian
backed gangs in Iraq

Even this newspaper article, sympathetic to the militias points out the Iranian weapons being used.

As a heavy barrage erupted outside his parents' house, Abu Mustafa al-Thahabi, a political and military adviser to the Mahdi Army of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, rushed through the purple gate and took shelter behind the thick walls. He had just spoken with a fighter by cellphone. "I told him not to use that weapon. It's not effective," he said, referring to a rocket-propelled grenade. "I told him to use the IED, the Iranian one," he added, using the shorthand for an improvised explosive device. "This is more effective."

The Iraqi Army's take is that they are fighting criminal gangs:

The plan was set after the commanding operation ...chief commanding operation in Basra held meetings with tribe leaders and citizens in Basra. And he asked the people in Basra and the people asked the chief to eliminate those criminal groups and armed members that control several resources in Basra.


I think that there are Iranian backed Shiite terrorists in Iraq, as well as the AQ terrorists. If the Iraqi gov't is cracking down against terrorism, that's a good thing.

There are absolutely intelligent pro-war and pro-surge voices out there who make cogent, compelling arguments.

The fact that there are actually people in this country that can be described as "pro-war" goes a long way toward explaining just WTF is wrong with the U.S. these days.

I don't think it's a stretch to say that there are Iranian backed gangs in Iraq

Of course it's not a stretch to say that. Such gangs exist--they're the government.

I agree, publius: whether it's the frustrations of five long, bloody years of circular war, the alignment of the planets, or something in the water - the p*ss-poor results of PM Maliki's "Basra Offensive" seems to have sent whole sections of the pro-war punditariat (especially in Right Blogistan) right off into la-la land when it comes to analyzing the outcome of the "Charge of the Knights" operation.

I've been trying to keep up with both sides of the reportage/commentary recent events, and there seems to be a mass denial-of-reality in effect on a LOT of war-floggers' minds. They seem, weirdly, to be constitutionally unable to accept that the Maliki Government might have actually lost anything -like credibility or prestige- as a result of the Basra Offensive, and seem utterly gobsmacked that no one (outside themselves) can see the magnitude of Muqtada al-Sadr's "crushing defeat".

And of course, most of the blame for this sad state of affairs goes to the "biased" and "defeatist" media - not to mention all those "reflexively anti-American leftists" who "love Sadr" so much.

Delusional.


Oh, and DaveC: I'd be curious to know why you characterize the Washington Post article you link to as "sympathetic to the militias"? I read the whole thing through, and while, admittedly, it refrains from demonizing, insulting, or demeaning the Mahdist fighters (as, I guess, you'd deem appropriate), it hardly reads like a puff-piece. Not with all that gunfire, explosion and death.

Oh, and in case you missed it: there was another graf in the article re the Sadrists' Iranian conenctions:

The fighters also said they received neither support nor training from Iran, as U.S. military commanders allege. Their Iranian weapons, they said, were bought from smugglers. They said they had been fighting only American soldiers and had not yet engaged with any Iraqi forces inside Sadr City.

Ah, the smell of preening pomposity in the morning. What a fabulist, eh?
Ponyland it is, as it was from the beginning and probably ever shall be. Seen from the outside it looks very like Hell, formed and sustained by blustering sadism and defined by wicked passions. But on the inside, what rapture of righteousness and timeless vindication, a Paradise of free-market promise.

1984. Ubu Roi. Black is white and vice versa.
It’s a dirty job of fictionalizing, but somebody’s got to do it, and after all, who better? Goebbels’ in his heaven and all’s right with the world.

Abject stupidity.

I've been trying to keep up with both sides of the reportage/commentary recent events, and there seems to be a mass denial-of-reality in effect on a LOT of war-floggers' minds. They seem, weirdly, to be constitutionally unable to accept that the Maliki Government might have actually lost anything -like credibility or prestige- as a result of the Basra Offensive, and seem utterly gobsmacked that no one (outside themselves) can see the magnitude of Muqtada al-Sadr's "crushing defeat".

They have six months until Sadr likely takes the provincial elections, I'm sure they'll have their new narrative in place by then.

It was indeed a stupid article, but I vote for dishonesty. Since Day One -- before Day One, in fact -- the case for invading / remaining in Iraq has only been viable when non-facts prevailed in the discourse.

Actual facts -- such as the pro-Maliki forces being more closely tied to Iran -- undermine both the case for claiming US policy is effective, and the neocon agenda of attacking Iran. Therefore, the facts are to be dispensed with. There's no longer any reason to believe that Ledeen and his ilk, including this Administration, are arguing in good faith.

And yes, that they continue to get such a prominent media position for their bad-faith arguments, which are accepted by foolish so-called pundits nodding sagely, is frustrating indeed.

In this respect, stupidity can be genuinely impressive because it usually requires overcoming reading comprehension abilities and other high cognitive functions.

What saith the Koenigsberger?

Deficiency in the faculty of judgment is really what we call stupidity, and there is no remedy for that. An obtuse and narrow mind, deficient in nothing but a proper degree of understanding and correct concepts, may be improved by study, so far as to become even learned. But as even then there is often a deficiency of judgment ... we often meet with very learned men, who in handling their learning betray that original deficiency that can never be mended.

Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (Muller tr.)

Are these weekly standard / nro guys really that stupid all the time?

I suspect that, often, they just don't care about being right all that much if the facts don't suit a particular narrative.

So maybe the guy is just disingenous and shilling B S to muddying up the debate.

Anyway, good post. Always enjoy a Wingnut Beatdown.

Cogent arguments? Maybe. Compelling? I don't think so. I sure haven't seen them.

It was indeed a stupid article, but I vote for dishonesty.

Indeed.

Ledeen is one of the more dishonest of this crowd.

Remember, Ledeen actually claimed, recently, that he had opposed the invasion of Iraq!! That's right, that he was a war opponent before the invasion took place. He's repeated this revisionism several times without shame.

Actually, he's working on the sequel: in between exhortations to bomb Iran, and send troops across the border, he insists that he opposes taking military action against Iran.

He's feathering the nest of post hoc deniability.

Those are not the tactics of a stupid man, but a dishonest man. Of which, Ledeen is an exemplar.

Either way, though, this is a great post publius in that it narrows the choices to two:

Excessively stupid or deeply dishonest.

Now that is a debate worth having.

Excessively stupid or deeply dishonest. Now that is a debate worth having.

Id like to throw mentally ill into the mix. One of those people who thinks that they can create reality just by enthusiastically making a statement- the more hyperbolic, the better.

Or, wait, isn't 'creating reality by force of will' actually a Republican Party platform plank these days?

OT - fafblog is back!!!!!

...it's been difficult to argue about the real Iraq when one side’s premise is that Iraq is actually Ponyland, a dreamworld where wish projections take material form and walk the earth.

Best witticism of the month.

And DaveC, as rea pointed out, the Iraqi government is an Iranian backed gang. Thinking otherwise puts you in that dreamworld Ponyland. If you needed a wake up call on this, maybe the red carpet treatment Ahmadinejad got recently while paying a state visit to Iraq (in contrast to Bush and Cheney's skulking visits) would help.

Or, wait, isn't 'creating reality by force of will' actually a Republican Party platform plank these days?

It is the crux of their policy making apparatus. Seriously.

If you needed a wake up call on this, maybe the red carpet treatment Ahmadinejad got recently while paying a state visit to Iraq (in contrast to Bush and Cheney's skulking visits) would help.

That, or look up the history of ISCI (formerly SCIRI) and Dawa.

Or, wait, isn't 'creating reality by force of will' actually a Republican Party platform plank these days?

What? Did they start up a weapons program on Oa recently?

I heard from someone in the Italian fascism field that Ledeen was bundled ignominiously out of academia under a cloud of plagiarism and polemicism. As far as I can tell, the AEI's credentials on foreign policy are simply risible, which is unsurprising given such tawdry 'intellectual capital'. Perhaps the institution is more credible in other fields.

Apparently, Iran brokered the truce, which makes sense since they are the only player with good contacts with both Maliki and Sadr. At the moment if definitely looks like Maliki and America down, Sadr and Tehran up.

Someone who knows a great deal about Shia politics was telling me that Sistani is actually rather low on the ayatollah pecking order. I think this perhaps explains why his input has been so modest thus far - he simply does not have the credibility or authority to make sweeping pronouncements. The big hitters are all in Iran. In religious terms, the border between Iran and southern Iraq simply doesn't exist. Seems like another local peculiarity that went unnoticed. Sistani may be the most senior cleric in Iraq, but still doesn't make him too senior.

It was indeed a stupid article, but I vote for dishonesty.

Indeed.

Ledeen is one of the more dishonest of this crowd.

Remember, Ledeen actually claimed, recently, that he had opposed the invasion of Iraq!! That's right, that he was a war opponent before the invasion took place. He's repeated this revisionism several times without shame.

Actually, he's working on the sequel: in between exhortations to bomb Iran, and send troops across the border, he insists that he opposes taking military action against Iran.

He's feathering the nest of post hoc deniability.

He's a propagandist. He wants war in the M.E. and he's working hard to get it, with a great deal of success so far. But in order to stay in the game, he needs to be able to deny that he's doing what he's doing. He is not stupid. Dangerous, yes. Stupid, no.

I'm going to disagree with Kant, here. I think "deficiency in the faculty of judgment" *can* be mended -- humans *can* be taught. The problem is that teaching true judgement is difficult and often conflicts with other priorities, such as "sucking up to the powerful so they will continue to pay you to spread lies".

That's why we have to keep holding the punditocracy accountable for their pro-war views -- the only way anyone can learn true judgement is for their to be a connection between mis-judgement and failure.

OT - fafblog is back!!!!!

Faaaaaafbloooooog! That made my day, Ugh. Too bad it's probably just an April Fools post, and tomorrow the universe will go back to being a far less Gibletsian place.

I think that there are Iranian backed Shiite terrorists in Iraq, as well as the AQ terrorists. If the Iraqi gov't is cracking down against terrorism, that's a good thing.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's the final iteration in the long process of redefining 'terrorism'. 'Terrorism' is now 'violence used to oppose US interests'.

Someone who knows a great deal about Shia politics was telling me that Sistani is actually rather low on the ayatollah pecking order.

Sistani is himself Iranian, and his importance has been that he was the highest ranking Shia cleric in Iraq. I believe his influence has waned as the politics became more radical and violent (and he has indicated that he will no longer address political questions, thus taking himself out of the equation).

Right. My point being that he never had the credibility to weigh into political affairs to the extent that Washington seemed to desire.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's the final iteration in the long process of redefining 'terrorism'. 'Terrorism' is now 'violence used to oppose US interests'.

"Is now"...?

My point being that he never had the credibility to weigh into political affairs to the extent that Washington seemed to desire.

Not sure I agree with all that byrnie. Sistani has frequently thwarted Washington's plans, and has been quite effective at marshalling Iraq's Shiite political players (less so these days, but still not to be ignored or dismissed).

Initially, the US wanted to install Chalabi and Sistani made it clear early on: not. gon. happen.

Then the US wanted to wait on elections - and then hold elections according to a certain caucus structure. Sistani said hell no, threatened massive street protests, and the US buckled on each front.

Sistani then cultivated, formed, coaxed and massaged the UIA into the most dominant political force in Iraq. This coalition did not include either Chalabi or Allawi.

Then, several times over the past three years or so, the US has tried to entice one or another Shiite faction to sink the UIA. Sistani, again, would call in the wandering Shiite faction, knock some heads around, and then the plan would die.

Eventually, ISCI's rivalry with the Sadrists flared up to where Sistani can't contain it completely.

Still, despite the open targeting of Sadr over the past couple of years, Sistani has been able to convince Sadr to stay in the UIA and stay in the government (at least for the first year or two). To this day, Sadr has not tried to take down the Maliki government - which is pretty remarkable all things considered.

That is mostly due to Sistani's influence/pressure on the various parties.

No Shiite Iraqi political or religious leader would openly challenge Sistani absent exigent circumstances. He is still extremely powerful, revered and not to be crossed lightly.

Stupid is a harsh word. I don’t like using it much, but circumstances sometimes demand nothing less.

Here is something amusing that is also, perhaps, on topic.

Stupidity as a human phenomenon deserves a lot more attention. No, I'm not joking.

OT - fafblog is back!!!!!

Nothing could be finer.

Giblets, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Thanks -

Ladies and gentlemen, it's the final iteration in the long process of redefining 'terrorism'. 'Terrorism' is now 'violence used to oppose US interests'.

You might want to explain that to the Navajo, the Cheyenne, the Lakota, the Apaches, etc. Imagine their surprise.

Does Ledeen run his own intelligence agency? He appears to 'know' any number of things that are inconsistent with all other reporting, by governments and journalists.

I suppose he could just be making things up, particularly his fervent wish that Sadr be a marginal character in Iraq.

Or, wait, isn't 'creating reality by force of will' actually a Republican Party platform plank these days?

No doubt, the neocons will write glowingly of their domestic and foreign policy successes over the past seven years and name it Triumph of the Will.

fafblog is back and obiwi is cited on the right hand side of the screen.

"I heard from someone in the Italian fascism field that Ledeen was bundled ignominiously out of academia under a cloud of plagiarism and polemicism."

No offense, but there are more useful cites than "I heard from someone."

A link to a credible argument or source would be more useful, if I might suggest.

No offense, but there are more useful cites than "I heard from someone."

Ha! No offense, but sometimes I actually meet real people who know stuff. You stick to Wikipedia if you want a web link for everything, but there's a hold world of knowledge out there that doesn't come in html.

I heard from someone in the Italian fascism field that Ledeen was bundled ignominiously out of academia under a cloud of plagiarism and polemicism.

Link or no link, you might consider running the risk of drawing a defamation suit on your own website, rather than exposing Hilzoy et al. to potential liability in a rather foggy area of the law.

Just sayin'.

In the tradition of "I heard from someone" I give you The Onion's views on the topic:

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/30828

OK, well let's just say I am citing any one of the numerous web sites that appear immediately when you google "Michael Ledeen denied tenure." I hope Hilzoy et alia are now safe from legal retribution. For the record, I was not on Dr. Ledeen's tenure committee and I am not privy to their internal deliberations. Gosh, that was easy.

A link to mull over here.

But for the moment, at least, things look promising.

Ah, Magoo, you've done it again.

Ledeen claims to be an expert on the Middle East and speaks neither Arabic nor Farsi. Enough said.

There is no doubt that Sadr and his Mahdi Army suffered some serious ass-kicking last week. See for instance:

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/03/mahdi_army_taking_si.php

or

http://strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/5249

Iran has been desperately trying to pull his bacon out of the fire, but in doing so they have gotten themselves into very deep shit. For they have now activated the Bush Doctrine: those who aid, abet and harbor terrorists will get the same treatment as the terrorists themselves. They have now placed themselves in precisely the same situation as the Taliban on 9/11.

lj, apropos fish in a barrel, here is more on Ledeen's checkered past. [his part in the tale starts on page 2]

There is no doubt that Sadr and his Mahdi Army suffered some serious ass-kicking last week.

Also sprach the moose of no name.

Reuters, however, reports: Iraqi crackdown backfires, strengthens Sadrists

Hard to know who to believe.

Also sprach the moose of no name.

A Moose once bit my sister...


She got better anon.
Ever since then I've been wary of anon-a-Moose.

I don't think it's a stretch to say that there are Iranian backed gangs in Iraq

Of course it's not a stretch to say that. Such gangs exist--they're the government.

Certainly the Iraqi government talks to Iran, but they are the elected government. I'd guess that the Shia death squads are the "criminal" elements that are being attacked by the Iraqi military.

They seem, weirdly, to be constitutionally unable to accept that the Maliki Government might have actually lost anything -like credibility or prestige- as a result of the Basra Offensive, and seem utterly gobsmacked that no one (outside themselves) can see the magnitude of Muqtada al-Sadr's "crushing defeat".

The Maliki government is spending political capital making al-Sadr disavow the terrorists in the ranks of the Mahdi Army. It is a good thing to make al-Sadr cut ties with the thugs and terrorists. If this costs Maliki politically, well that's the breaks.

The fighters also said they received neither support nor training from Iran, as U.S. military commanders allege. Their Iranian weapons, they said, were bought from smugglers.

Where did they meet these "smugglers"? What country were the "smugglers" from? Were the smugglers Al-Quds guys?

They have six months until Sadr likely takes the provincial elections

We will see. If the Shia citizens actually did ask the Iraqi Govt for protection from gangs affiliated with al-Sadr, then this outcome may not be likely.

Remember, Ledeen actually claimed, recently, that he had opposed the invasion of Iraq!!

If I remember correctly, Ledeen has always claimed that Iran was a greater threat than Iraq. I suppose that this is what you are referring to.

Id like to throw mentally ill into the mix.

Accusing people of being mentally ill when they disagree with you is all the rage these days. Perhaps they can be committed to asylums when the smart people take over.

He's (Ledeen) a propagandist. He wants war in the M.E. and he's working hard to get it, with a great deal of success so far.

Yes, Ledeen does want the Iranian people to rise up and overthrow the old Khomeinist strong-man control of Iran, and have a more representative government.

I think that there are Iranian backed Shiite terrorists in Iraq, as well as the AQ terrorists. If the Iraqi gov't is cracking down against terrorism, that's a good thing.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's the final iteration in the long process of redefining 'terrorism'. 'Terrorism' is now 'violence used to oppose US interests'.

Well, being opposed to US interests is the opposite of what I think of as "patriotic". Indeed, I think of people who oppose US interests and express this opposition by murdering their neighbors as "terrorists".

Sistani is himself Iranian, and his importance has been that he was the highest ranking Shia cleric in Iraq. I believe his influence has waned as the politics became more radical and violent (and he has indicated that he will no longer address political questions, thus taking himself out of the equation)

That's good that Sistani thinks of himself primarily as a religious leader and not a politician.

...

Well this is enough for me. It is a rare occasion that I act like Charles Bird, and try to patiently answer most every opposing point of view in some sort of rational (but uninformed) way, you hateful Anti-American, Pro-Terrorist Commies. Talk amongst yourselves! And never, ever, listen to idiot moron neocon Pony types. Not that there are many around here.

"No offense, but sometimes I actually meet real people who know stuff."

Me, too, but I wouldn't expect anyone to take me seriously if my cite was "I heard from someone that...."

I heard from someone who really knows about this "checkable facts" stuff that facts are verifiable and testable, or they aren't facts.

It was a major expert who told me. In fact, twenty major experts told me. Including the top ten people in the fields of logic, rhetoric, and interweb communication.

So I'm obviously right, and you're wrong.

Since cites aren't necessary, I've clearly and undeniably proven my case.

Haven't I?

"It is a rare occasion that I act like Charles Bird, and try to patiently answer most every opposing point of view in some sort of rational...."

Unfortunately, DaveC, you lost any right to be taken seriously several years ago, after we all went through more than a year or two of endlessly pointing out to you that making completely baseless utterly vile personal attacks on the patriotism of most folks here, including quite specifically accusing bunches of us, including Hilzoy, repeatedly by name, and repeating for years countless variations on the themes that we want to see U.S. soldiers killed, that we hate America, that we're essentially traitors and supporters of murderers, while you are the One True Voice Of Sanity, and incidentally the One True Defender of Israel -- despite being only sporadically able to even spell the name, which tends to suggest some limits on the depth of your knowledge of the Jewish State, though obviously there are no limits to your ability to speak on behalf of Israel, Israelis, and Jews in general, since you have been, of course, duly annointed as spokesperson on all such issues beyond any ability of mere actual Israelis or Jews to voice one of our classic self-hating Jew ideas, just as you are entitled to speak for patriotic Americans -- while you so charmingly made so many declarations, time after time after time, week after week, month after month, year after year, in the face of endless patient rational responses, that Hilzoy, I, and so many of us, want to see U.S. troops killed, America hurt, American citizens killed and so forth, because of our traitorous Democratic nation.

Gosh, I wonder why you might not be able to suddenly try to be "rational" -- despite your obvious expertise on Iran, Iraq, Islamic terrorist groups, and the politics of all of the above -- and then -- who could understand it? -- not be met with folks eager and motivated to take you seriously.

It couldn't possibly be that when you treat people like sh*t for years, making the most offensive and outrageous imaginable false charges against people, time and time and time and time and time and time and time yet again, while also explaining that you just like to "wind people up," that, gollygeewhiz, they're inclined to, if not treat you like you treated many of us, then might at least be inclined to wait only half as long as you spent being an offensive f*ckhead, DaveC, before starting to see any reason at all why we should now -- still in the absence of even the first apology for your indefensible treatment of so many of us -- suddenly treat you like you've never bothered to treat us, which is to say, seriously, could it?

Naaaaah.

Shorter Gary: get back to some of us, or just me, at any rate, in another couple of years, after you've spent all that time only trying to seriously discuss issues, and trying to maybe apologize at least one-fifth as many times as you called us traitors and America-haters, and then have your people call our people.

I, for one, might be willing to take you seriously by then.

But likely not before.

Fortunately for you, others' Mileage Will Vary on this, and I only speak for myself.

And speaking purely and only for myself, I a) suggest you do a heck of a lot more wide and varied reading on Iraq, Iran, and more or less any political issue, if you want to someday be taken seriously, rather than as someone who makes his cluelessness known with almost every claim you make; and b) go screw yourself.

But in the interests of goodness and niceness: "Well, being opposed to US interests is the opposite of what I think of as 'patriotic'. "

Clue: there's no magic Objective Definition of "U.S. interests." It's a political claim, and any such claim is only as true and correct, or untrue and incorrect, as are the biases, interests, and motivations of the speaker.

I have a quite firm idea of what I think U.S. interests should be, since I've been reading endless massive volumes on foreign policy history and theory and arguments since I was a pre-adolescent.

What you think "U.S. interests" are, precisely, other than "what My Leaders tell me," I can only guess at, but doubtless I missed your post coherently explaining that.

I'd ask for a cite, but, well, doubtless someone out there may actually care, and can ask for themselves.

Eric, getting back to Sistani, I certainly don't contest that he's an important person in Iraqi Shiite politics, I'm just saying that he's part of a hierarchy whose senior figures are all in Qom, more or less. I'm not that well informed on Shiite politics myself, this insight was given to me by 'a bloke down the pub' who is. His point was that Sistani simply did not have the autonomous authority to do as much as people might think on the basis of his senior status within Iraq. Much of what we perceive him to have done, may then actually have been done with the backing of the real big-hitter ayatollahs, and perhaps cases where he did not act when he might have been expected to are attributable to their reluctance.

It's tea leaves stuff, but I'm pretty convinced it's a good vista onto an important level of Iraq's many-leveled game. I did just notice somewhere in the news today (might have been a link from a post above) that the Basra truce was negotiated in Qom. It would make sense that Sadr would be spending time there. After all, Khomeini was not in the top tier of ayatollahs either, but with their support he became the most powerful political figure in Iran. I would think if you want to be the boss of southern Iraq, as Sadr I imagine does, then much kowtowing is in order.

I don't think this hierarchy is formalised, btw, though maybe someone can enlighten me.

Anyway, this offers no definitive answers, but for me at least it 'clicks', and a lot of the maneuvering starts to make more sense. You could also see why US officials would prefer to ignore this angle, since it at once suggests that 'Iran' has very substantial influence over Iraqi politics, and that the Iranian regime is in fact a much more complicated system than Ahmadanijad's demonizers would like us all to believe.

No doubt, the neocons will write glowingly of their domestic and foreign policy successes over the past seven years and name it Triumph of the Will.

I think they will do http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Der_Sieg_des_Glaubens>"Victory of Faith" (Sieg des Glaubens) before that.
(I had the rare chance to see that once. It is a (occasionally ridiculously) imperfect precursor of the better know TotW).

Well, being opposed to US interests is the opposite of what I think of as 'patriotic'.

In fact, DaveC is correct, as long as he talks about US citizens. However, in many cases, a citizen of some other country may, while furthering the interests of his own state or even the interests of humanity in general, act against the parochial interests of the US. So, there is no moral obligation for any but US citizens to pursue US interests. On the contrary, it may become a moral duty for a person to oppose those interests, with violence, if necessary.

Not all violence opposed to US interests is "terrorism". For example, take the Cuban army destroying the American-supported landfall at Bay of Pigs. In that case, the Cubans soldiers engaged in violence against American interests, yet in a fashion which is in complete agreement with the international law. Or the case of Soviet military shooting down Gary Powers in his U2 plane: violence against US interests, but in complete agreement with the international law. You might not agree with the systems of those governments, but these acts were definitely not terrorism but quite legal combat actions.

So, it is possible to oppose US interests with violence, yet be personally immune to all legal or moral culpability. So claiming that "all violence against US interests is terrorism" would mean neglecting all international law of war.

After all, Khomeini was not in the top tier of ayatollahs either, but with their support he became the most powerful political figure in Iran. I would think if you want to be the boss of southern Iraq, as Sadr I imagine does, then much kowtowing is in order.

I don't think this hierarchy is formalised, btw, though maybe someone can enlighten me.

I am not a muslim, much less an islamic scholar. but I think you are wrong on several points. First, Khomeini was a marja (also called nowadays Grand Ayatollah) already in 1963. You can't go further than that in Shiia hierarchy. In principle, the shiaa faithful may elect freely the marja they choose to follow. The road to become a marja is long and difficult, and very formalized. On the other hand, when you get there, your peers have only limited influence on you. So, Sistani does not have any religious requirement to follow anyone's rulings.

As far as I understand, the situation is best compared with the academia, not with the Catholic church. You might think grand ayatollahs as full, tenured professors.

That reminds me. Charges were dropped against Lance Corporal Tatum.

Hooops—
Sorrry, DC, but not all of us are entirely comfortable with that particular due process. Lacking more complete information, the description of his actions (sorry Gare, not lucid enough to reach for the cite right now, maybe later as required); Good Man Tatum is reported by one of his men to have shot a room full of women and children when his man demurred. Fish in a barrel, but many of us do not see the equivalence, and call it (deeply) criminal, and any trial with dismissed charges is an example of justice undone.

Thanks lurker; feels solid, given necessary limitations.
Gary; ferocity where ferocity is due with no objections, and congrats on your byline at Faf. Classy.

That reminds me. Charges were dropped against Lance Corporal Tatum.

It's funny-peculiar; if I - or another left-wing anti-war type - said that when Tatum murdered two children, he was just doing what the US military trained him to do, I would imagine that there would be hell to pay, even from other anti-war types, but overwhelmingly from people who are pro-war, pro-military: I'd be accused of being anti-American, I'd be told that the US military seeks to minimize civilian casualties, that this kind of thing just doesn't happen.

When Tatum's defense lawyer argues that Marines are trained to kill unarmed children and that this Marine couldn't help just reacting like he was trained to react... Where is the mass protest from pro-war bloggers arguing that the defense is full of crap and that's not what US Marines are trained to do?

*crickets*

By dropping charges against Tatum, the US military publicly gives up the claim that these war crimes are caused by a few bad apples. US soldiers kill unarmed civilians, including children, because the US military is deep in failure.

As far as I understand, the situation is best compared with the academia, not with the Catholic church. You might think grand ayatollahs as full, tenured professors.

Ergo my original point, no?

Another Marine testified Tatum told him to shoot a group of Iraqi women and children he found on a bed in a closed room. That Marine said he walked away but saw Tatum return and heard a loud noise, possibly gunfire or a grenade. (Reuters).

The exact quote, though not where I had seen it. My rendition was imprecise; and sure, it’s a hair shy of eyewitness perfection. But Other Marines have testified that Tatum, who initially faced more serious charges of unpremeditated murder and negligent homicide, was among those who "cleared" two Iraqi houses after the roadside bombing, resulting in 19 deaths. (same source)

I’m finding myself interested in the degree to which US concerns over Iran’s interests and actions in Iraq are being approached as their unwarranted
intrusion on and intolerable threat to the US. Is it not more or less equivalent to US actions in Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Chilé? Not that those actions were acceptable, but they were justified (so to speak) as dealing with danger to our neighborhood. The cultural bond between Iranian and Iraqi Shi’ites and thus their shared interests and perceptions of threats to those interests is far stronger than similar associations in this hemisphere.

One huge difference of course is oil. Another is the shift in geopolitics; the US is no longer able to infect its neighbors’ politics in the same way, on the Fool Me Once principle. Nor, after throwing aside any claim to moral action, exhausting its military and financial resources and exposing its weakness in grasping the thoughts and motivations at work elsewhere, is it in the same position to call shots, hemispherically or globally.
The US’ perception of threat on the other hand is not all that different. Most, around here anyway, see the history of US behavior in this hemisphere as corrupt and inhuman. Iran’s behavior seems more justifiable in terms of the proximity and scale of a threat to its safety.
Of course it comes down an accurate assessment of Iran’s intentions and no one here can speak with confidence about their nature.
Given that, and given that there has been no Iranian anschluss* should the conversation be dwelling not on Iranian/Iraqi ties but on a more careful examination of the cultures in question? A new post over at bloggingheads, ‘Power and the Intellectuals’ raises">http://">raises interesting questions, but for my purpose here it proposes a model of examining evidence, actually reading what opponents have written; it speaks to the ignorance guiding our decisions.

*One of the templates for the Neocon foreign agenda has been displayed in repeated dire warnings of the dangers of Appeasement and a horror of bringing Chamberlain back to life; of failing to nip any potential Hitler in the bud. A worthy motive but pursued with an urgency that refused closer attention to central distinctions. Attention must be paid.

Join the Winning Team.

the situation is best compared with the academia, not with the Catholic church. You might think grand ayatollahs as full, tenured professors.

Ergo my original point, no?

No. If you've ever seen the academic life, you know that few things are as obscure and scheming as the efforts of full, tenured professors to get funding and academic prestige at the cost to their peers. They are all independent and their personal positions are inviolable. Thus, they cannot pull rank on each other, but must resort to ways that attack the other guy indirectly. And if a professor is stubborn, he can refuse to acknowledge defeat, no matter what has happened, without endangering his livelihood. On the other hand, in Catholic Church, pope can always step in and put an abrupt end to arguments between cardinals or bishops.

In Shia Islam, the Supreme Leader of Iran (Khamenei) is not the pope-equivalent. He does not wield religious authority over other Grand Ayatollahs, although he might use his political power to contain them, for example placing them in house-arrest (killing a marja would be unheard-of). An Iraqi Grand Ayatollah (outside Iran, that is), like Sistani, is about as independent from Khamenei as the Orthodox Patriarch of Konstatinople is from Pope.

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