S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What is so wrong with the Iraq war?

March 21, 2006 - All of us observe anniversaries of one sort or another. It was around this time three years ago that the current administration invaded Iraq. And a lot to people are observing the anniversary of this pivotal event.
Not to celebrate - There is an amazing consensus of opinion, amongst my favorite bloggers today. I catch hints of the new rumblings as I visit my regulars. There is new noise in the bloggosphere. These voices say what I haven't been able to articulate nearly so well. And they say what is true.
The war in Iraq is getting to be a real disaster.
Top 10 disasters - Juan Cole, in a great post at Informed Comment, lists the Top Ten Disasters of three years in Iraq. I quote his entire list, using first sentences only. Read his blog for the full "gist" of his points:
Here, let us examine the top disasters of the third year in American Iraq.
1. The Shiite religious parties, having won a majority in parliament, took over the
Ministry of the Interior and drew, for its special police commandos, on members of the Badr Corps. . . .
2. The constitution drafted by the elected parliament enshrines Islam as the religion of state and stipulates that the civil parliament may pass no legislation that contravenes the established laws of Islam. . .
3. The constitution allows provinces to establish provincial confederacies. . .
4. The US military used Kurdish and Shiite troops to attack the northern Turkmen city of Talafar in August. . .
5. All three Sunni Arab-majority provinces rejected the new constitution by a sound margin, two of them by a two-thirds majority. The Kurdish and Shiite provinces overwhelmingly approved the charter. . .
6. British government leakers revealed that George W. Bush told British PM Tony Blair in April, 2002, that he was seriously considering bombing the HQ of the Aljazeera satellite news channel. Bush's reputation, already low in the Arab world, took another hit. . .
7. Iraqi petroleum exports fell to an average of only 1.8 million barrels a day
during the past year, down from 2.8 million barrels per day before the war. . .
8. Guerrillas have managed to surround and cut off Baghdad, the capital and a
population center with 1/4 of the country's inhabitants, from much fuel and
electricity. . .
9. Widespread hopes, fanned by the Bush administration, that Sunni Arab participation in the parliamentary elections would lead to a reduction in guerrilla violence proved completely untrue. . .
10. Guerrillas in Samarra on February 22 blew up the Askari Shrine, holy to Shiites because of its association with the hidden Twelfth Imam, whose Second Coming many await. . .
Top 7 mistakes - A Philly opinion writer is new to me, and has some good insights to share. Trudy Rubin writes her own list of "errors by the numbers" in the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer, from which I quote,
Let's start with Mistake Number One: an embrace of transformational theory over
obvious reality. Mistake Number Two: the failure to establish order in Baghdad after taking the city. Mistake Number Three: abolishing the entire Iraqi army without severance or pensions. Mistake Number Four: a misconceived plan for training Iraqi security forces. Mistake Number Five: no Sunni strategy. Mistake Number Six: a strange belief that once Saddam fell, Iraq would morph into a democracy. Mistake Number Seven: a failure to understand that Iran would be a key power broker in Iraq, because a majority of Iraqis belonged to the same Shiite sect of Islam as Iranians, and needed Tehran as an ally against the Sunnis.
Fantasy is not real - Michael J.W. Stickings, who writes The Reaction, tries to separate fantasy and reality after three years in Iraq. I quote (with Michael's links),
This past weekend marked the three-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq
War. President Bush marked the occasion by avoiding the use of the word "war". He referred instead to "the beginning of the liberation of Iraq".
Writing in The Washington Post, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was sunny and optimistic. Iraq has come a long way in three years. It has gone from 'brutal dictatorship" to "a permanent government" with "a new constitution". Iraqi security forces are gaining in "size, capability, and responsibility". The terrorists are "losing".
Given these successes, given the righteousness of the mission, "there is only one conclusion": "Now is the time for resolve," he argues, "not retreat." Indeed: Turning our backs on postwar Iraq today would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis".
Truly fantastic hyperbole. Clearly, they have not a clue.

Civil war is real - The Washington Note's Steve Clemons sets the debate straight (Steve's links):
Former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft said on January 6, 2005 that we may be seeing "incipient civil war" in Iraq. . .

Last week, Iraq Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said in a BBC interview and in other interviews that "it is unfortunate that we are in a civil war." He added, "we are losing each day, as an average, 50 to 60 people through the country, if not more." As David Sanger of the New York Times reported, Allawi said "if this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is."
General George Casey Jr., Senior Commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer that the situation in Iraq "is a long way from civil war." Vice President Cheney takes exception to Allawi and says he sees no evidence of civil war in Iraq. In fact he sees success. British Defense Secretary John Reid also denies that there is a civil war underway in Iraq. Australia Prime Minister John Howard joins the Cheney-led chorus of "Civil War-deniers".

My colleague Nir Rosen blasts through the spin from 'civil war-deniers' with a candid assessment of not only the Iraq civil war but comments on it spreading beyond Iraq's borders. Rosen's concerns about spreading sectarian violence are reinforced by the Sunni/Shiite divides in many Middle East countries:
Saudi Arabia ~~ Sunni 89-90% Shiite 10-11%
Kuwait ~~ Sunni 60% Shiite 25%
UAE ~~ Sunni 81% Shiite 15%
Yemen ~~ Sunni 70% Shiite 30%
Bahrain ~~ Sunni 30% Shiite 70%
Lebanon ~~ Sunni 23% Shiite 38 % Druze 7%
Syria ~~ Sunni 74% non-Sunni 16%
(Source: "Islam Sunnis and Shiites," Congressional Research Service, 10 February 2005)
2006 is worse - Riverbend at Baghdad Burning discusses what is worse this year for her in Iraq.
I’m sitting here trying to think what makes this year, 2006, so much worse than 2005 or 2004. It’s not the outward differences- things such as electricity, water, dilapidated buildings, broken streets and ugly concrete security walls. Those things are disturbing, but they are fixable. Iraqis have proved again and again that countries can be rebuilt. No- it’s not the obvious that fills us with foreboding.
The real fear is the mentality of so many people lately- the rift that seems to have worked it’s way through the very heart of the country, dividing people. It’s disheartening to talk to acquaintances- sophisticated, civilized people- and hear how Sunnis are like this, and Shia are like that… To watch people pick up their things to move to “Sunni neighborhoods” or “Shia neighborhoods”. How did this happen?
I read constantly analyses mostly written by foreigners or Iraqis who’ve been abroad for decades talking about how there was always a divide between Sunnis and Shia in Iraq (which, ironically, only becomes apparent when you're not actually living amongst Iraqis they claim)… but how under a dictator, nobody saw it or nobody wanted to see it. That is simply not true- if there was a divide, it was between the fanatics on both ends. The extreme Shia and extreme Sunnis. Most people simply didn’t go around making friends or socializing with neighbors based on their sect. People didn't care- you could ask that question, but everyone would look at you like you were silly and rude.
Believe it - It is clear why I go back to these writers again and again over the years. We readers trust the bloggers with whom we connect and feel we somehow "know." I think this is why we do so:
  • Each writer operates authentically. We know that over time because of the congruence of their words, beliefs and style, the unique "voice" of each one.
  • These bloggers have a way with words; they know the power of written words, and they do not misuse them, or play with their readers.
  • They know their stuff. Citations, the logic of their arguments, their rational thinking support their work.
  • All show emotion, though most work hard to stay on the rational straight and narrow.

Trust the folks you know - Today Lorianne at Hoarded Ordinaries, said it perfectly when she described a meet-up with two fellow blogger/photographers.
Whatever the reason why we three bloggers acted so strangely, the fact remains that we all acted similarly: we all reached for our cameras, we all aimed for our food and that impressive dessert cart, and not one of us looked quizzically at the others. Whatever the appeal of meeting other bloggers, I think this quiet understanding is one of the biggest attractions: where normal folks will look at you oddly for doing your bloggish thing, other bloggers will simply understand.
. . . I'm glad to have connected an actual in-the-flesh person with the online persona I've grown to know over several years' of blog-reading and email correspondence. Reading a favorite blog (especially one devoted to your favorite notebook obsession), you gradually feel like you know the person behind the pixels, so it's something of a relief to verify that connection in real time.
My "creative post" today at Southwest Blogger is about old friends.

1 comment:

JasonSpalding said...

Cold War II --- Back with a vengeance!

The war in Iraq is a critical blunder by State Department of the United States. The U.S.S.R. was before its break up was allied with Iran in its war against Iraq. Iraq at the time had the support of the State Department of the United States. You remember the Axiom the enemy of my enemy is my friend. So when the U.S.S.R. dissolved some in the state department that we no longer had to keep supporting Iraq. So Saddam stopped getting the due he was felt so he tried to conquer Kuwait. This pissed off to many in the world so the U.S.A. and the rest of the world stepped in and sent his soldiers packing back to Iraq. Now when Iraq became has become further destabilized the U.S. had to go in and insure the safety of our worlds needed oil supply. Flash forward till now and what is happening Iran wants to control its nuclear destiny and who is supporting them Russia a former member of the U.S.S.R. club. So the real question is Russia attempting a come back?