“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Are the Arabs getting the US to do their dirty work?

About the only person in the Middle East a worse poker player than George Bush was Saddam. He never could get the thinking right when it came to trying to figure which way the US would go in reaction to his gambling moves. He must have thought that he was on the winning side when he was fighting the Iranians. Saddam refused to believe that the US would allow him to hang, because he thought the US recognized that only Saddam could deal with the Shiites and the Iranians. He was convinced of that up to his last night.

That was clearly on his mind while he was being hanged. The Persians and the Shiites were cursed by him as he was being executed. A final thought. His dying curse should remind us, if reminding is necessary, that the big story in the Middle East is not between Arab and Jew, but between the mutually hating wings of Islam. The Arabs are roughly on one side with the Iranians on another. Someone should be thinking about Saddam's curse and ask the question as to what the Sunni and Shiite divide means to US policies.

This is especially true while we are busy parking naval assets in the gulf. Technologies have a nasty habit way of sneaking up on navies. The sinking of a single ship has resonated as a rallying cry in drawing more than a few powers into wars that may not have been of a time and place of their choosing. The video scenes of a sinking or listing US carrier would present an image that would be cataclysmic. Why do I bring that up?

We have a leader in George Bush that has no sense of proportion when it comes to risking US assets on bets that do not have a sufficient payoff. The Arabs know it. If they could get the US to do their dirty work for them by taking on Iran and at the same time get damaged in the doing, better yet. If in the doing Israel got the blame, well, that would be winning the trifecta. Maybe we better watch where we are parking those carriers and consider the implications if one does takes a hit.

It seems that the Iranians may have noticed that there may be an Arab campaign against them.

Regional media’s info ops against Iran

By Hassan Hanizadeh Tehran Times
Arab countries’ media outlets have begun a massive coordinated propaganda campaign against Iran.

This propaganda orchestra, which is seemingly being conducted by a maestro, seeks two goals. First, it aims to exaggerate the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. Secondly, it seeks to create division between Shias and Sunnis in order to isolate the Shias.

For some time now, articles have appeared in the Arab press trying to convince the world that Iran’s civilian nuclear activities are a threat to world peace and global security and that Tehran has been violating international law.

Most of the writers of these articles used to praise Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war and blamed Iran for the regional crisis.

After the fall of Saddam, current Iraqi officials and former opponents of the dictator revealed that Saddam had spent five billion dollars per year during the war to pay such writers.

Former Iraqi information minister Latif Nasif Jasem has acknowledged that after the Defense Ministry, his ministry had the largest budget, which was used to hire Arab writers, and that this funding came from Persian Gulf littoral states’ generous financial assistance.

Saddam’s ouster in 2003 revived the hope that Arab media outlets would halt their divisive approaches and make efforts to promote Islamic and regional convergence, but, to the contrary, they have now launched a new media campaign against Iran.

Although it is obvious that terrorists with ethnic and sectarian biases are the main cause of insecurity in Iraq, the Arab media paint a different picture in their analyses and news reports.

They are attempting to give the impression that Iraq’s Shias are culturally and religiously dependent on Iran, and they describe Hezbollah as Iran’s agent in Lebanon.

These measures are being taken with the aim of diminishing the great victory of Hezbollah in the eyes of the Arab world because this Islamic resistance group’s popularity soared among Arabs after its 34-day war with Israel last summer.

These media outlets have focused on Hezbollah’s confrontation with the Lebanese government, the execution of Saddam, and Iran’s influence on Iraq and have alleged that Iran is attempting to create division in Lebanon and arming Iraqi Shias and that Iraq’s Shias kill Sunnis.

It is hard to find an Arab media outlet that does not talk about the so-called Iranian threat in its leading stories. It seems that a professional extra-regional media center, which is much slicker than most Arab world journalism, is pulling the strings in this propaganda campaign against Iran.

These media are trying to give the impression that the United States and its allies are on the verge of launching a nuclear war against Iran which would totally change the world.

An Arab satellite television network recently broadcast a detailed report of the arrival of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Persian Gulf to scare the people of the region.

Despite the fact that access is restricted to U.S. ships armed with nuclear weapons, this network claimed that its reporter had been given a tour of the vessel.

The report describes the warship as a mobile ultramodern city that can target every part of the region with its nuclear missiles.

These media outlets aim to create a tense, militarized atmosphere in the region and blame the situation on Iran’s nuclear activities.

Certain Arab media outlets, many of which are based in Western countries, have created an anti-Iran mood in the West in recent years, and the Islamic Republic can only counter these information operations by formulating a comprehensive media strategy.


  1. > Are the Arabs getting the US to do their dirty work?

    It all depends on whether the Iraqi groups have agreed to cease fire, and want peace. We know exactly which groups are doing the killing, so there is no reason to risk US lives if they all are determined to fight. The clear - hold - build strategy is designed to starve a single evil insurgency fighting a good government, not a bunch of evil groups and an evil government.

    This may be a hint from the US commander in Baghdad that most of the Iraqi groups have agreed to cease fire. (Quote in bold:)

    But according to Odierno, the effort to defeat the extremists will involve more than just a military effort. He believes a large percentage of the militias will be absorbed by the Iraqi reconciliation process. "It'll be that small number of extremists that we have to deal with."

    US Commander

  2. 2164th: "The sinking of a single ship has resonated as a rallying cry in drawing more than a few powers into wars that may not have been of a time and place of their choosing."

    They have also served as serendipitous casus belli in two of our wars (1898, 1964). Bush could be throwing his carriers out there (with crews numbering over 5000 by the way) and saying, "Go ahead, make my day." But oil back down under 50 dollars a barrel will have a greater quieting effect.

  3. I am of the opinion that G. W. Bush sees himself as a man of action, a man destiny (God) has placed at an important juncture of history. One piece of evidence of this is his recent choice of the surge over the more 'nuanced' Baker recommendations. As Bush said 'I'm looking for a plan for Victory'.

    I think he is also really bugged by the Iranians defiance and would love to go toe to toe with them. But I agree with you 2164th, Bush is a baaad poker player, his reading of history is...abysmal and his recent actions seem to be a deliberate provocation hoping for the bad guys to 'make his day'.

    It is frightening that we still have to deal with him in power for more then another year.

  4. A little less than two years, actually, ash
    I think power transfers in Jan '09.

    The Spin Masters in the hire of the KSA are good beyond measure. Now not only are the Wahabbists not the "Enemy", their primary enemy, the Shia of Iran, are.

    The training grounds of the Mahammed, the madrassas of Pakistan, Somolia, Sudan, Yeman and on and on, are churning out Wahabbist trainees by the tens of thousands each year.
    All financed on the Sauds dime.

  5. Exactly right on the first count.
    And partially correct on the second. While there are a lot of USD flowing into the Sauds coffers from US, when the flow to US dries up, the spigots will open wide to China. The value of Sauds oil reserves will not drop to zero, no matter the amount of palm trees or algee grown. At least for the next 50 to 100 years.

    The Arabians will have dimes well after Saudi Arabia is called something else.

  6. Well, joe buzz, if the Iranians do "pop one off" somewhere, then the US can react.
    Will the US act preemtively again?
    Will degrading Iranian capacity by the ever famous 18% norm of aerial destruction be enough?
    Would such an air campaign deter another "swamp gas" event on Manhatten or trigger one?

  7. Puts a human face upon it, does it not?
    Many here have belittled, even celebrated deaths of the Iraqi.

    What could be better, the refrain goes, then them killing each other?

    The Government of Iraq, Mr Maliki and his folk have complained the US has kept it from dealing with the Insurgents. The bombers of those children.
    Mr Maliki has obtained al-Sadr's promise to stand down, while the Government handles the delivering of justice.

    As I often say
    No Justice, No Peace.

    Popped that fellow, Barzan al-Tikriti, head clean off, they did.
    Some Justice there, I think.

    Not a lot of experienced hangmen, in the Iraqi Government. Or so it would seem, unless there are lots of experienced hangmen, and a decapitation is worth "two" points.

  8. Are the Arabs getting the US to do their dirty work?

    One could just as easily ask...

    Is the U.S. getting Arabs and Persians to do its dirty work?

    "Down with the traitors, the Americans, the spies and the Persians," (substitution of Iran for Israel is interesting)
    ...Saddam stood with a noose around his neck and expended his last words condemning America and Iran. It was a skillful manipulation of many Arabs' fears that-with Arab nationalist strongman Saddam gone-a resurgent Iran will dislodge traditional regional powers such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt and entrench a Shiite axis from Kabul to the Mediterranean. Iran maintains close ties with friendly governments in Baghdad and Damascus and militant groups such as Lebanon's Hezbollah,Palestinian Hamas and the Shiite Hazara minority in Afghanistan that are rapidly ascending the political ladder in their countries.

    Saddam's execution on the dawn of the holiest day in the Muslim calendar electrified the Arab World. Conservative Arab leaders of majority Sunni states, such as Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Jordan's King Abdullah and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, maintained an uneasy silence. At a time when their people seethe with anger over the close alliances they maintain with Washington, tension with Iran offers them a convenient diversion and a common enemy.

    Just as the ancient Greeks ceased all warfare and declared an Olympic truce for the duration of the quadrennial Games in Olympia, so do Muslims desist from fighting during the Hajj period in order that pilgrims can safely march to Mecca. As news spread of the killing of Saddam on the dawn of the holiest day in the Muslim calendar, the Arab satellite networks veritably hummed with outraged commentators fingering the execution as another example of Shiite blood-settling and evidence that an international conspiracy was afoot to rob Iraq of its Arab character. On Al-Jazeera, the spokesman of the Mecca-based Council of Sunni Clerics declared that the Shiites had chosen on purpose the Sunni 'aid al-qorban (which occurs one day before the Shiite holy day) to carry out the execution. An Arab nationalist commentator warned of the "Safavid menace," referring to the 16th century Iranian dynasty that established Iran as a Shiite state.

    Because the Iraqi constitution prohibits executions from being carried out on eid, Shiite Prime Minister Maliki's government had to officially declare that the holiday did not begin until 31 December, the day the Shiites celebrate it and one day after the Sunnis. Middle East specialist Nir Rosen points out that this was tantamount to a declaration "that Iraq is now a Shia state."

    In the mid-decades of the 20th century, imperial power Britain wielded a policy of "divide and conquer"... With Arab anti-Iranian rhetoric having reached a pitch unprecedented since the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, evidence is mounting that a new Arab-Persian confrontation is unfolding across the region. From Lebanon to Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan, to far-flung conflicts such as Somalia and Sudan, a desperate struggle for influence is under way. "One might well be forgiven for surmising that the current thrust of U.S. policy in the Middle East and throughout the Muslim world is to exacerbate and instrumentalize Sunni-Shia divisions," said Fred Reed, a specialist on Middle East politics and author of "Shattered Images: The Rise of Militant Iconoclasm in Syria."

    Some Iranian academics and former officials are already describing this conflict as another Thirty Years War that will eventually lead the region to a Muslim version of the Treaty of Westphalia and the modern era.

    As noted at BC...
    One martyr will have followers, ten martyrs will be admired and emulated. One thousand dead martyrs who died unheralded die in vain.

    Maliki has to make a choice, watch for a coup if he makes the wrong one.

  9. What doesn't come out in the discussion of the hangings is that decapitation is actually a sign of mercy. The hangman has a choice between a long drop, which is merciful because the neck is broken instantly but causes the risk of decapitation, or a short drop, which won't decapitate, but may cause the hanged man to kick and struggle for minutes before dying.

    In any case, considering the decapitated man was accused of killing tens of thousands, many by torture, and Saddam even more, it is amazing that so many columns were written about Saddam being teased on the gallows and the other guy accidentally being decapitated.

    Considering the way human rights groups criticize the US, it is amazing that no one is complaining about the "disportionate response", where the Sunni government executes three ex-goverment officials after full trials, while the Sunnis Isurgency responds by killing dozens of civilians, many young girls in college.

    In fact that is the utterly stunning thing, that even after all this time there is still intense discussion of the teasing of Saddam, but no one in the media or Iraq seems to care about the slaughter of civilians yesterday. There is no outrage.

  10. > so do Muslims desist from fighting during the Hajj period in order that pilgrims can safely march to Mecca.

    No, they kill each other left and right during that period. They destroy each other's mosques. They fight each other out of ambulances. All these rules about not fighting are just ploys made up to try and limit the West, just a bunch of mind games.

    It's like when we hear how the "Arab Street" was supposedly so outraged about Abu Ghraib and Haditha, yet yesterday we watch one Muslim sect kill over a hundred Muslim civilians in another sect.

  11. Hanging Tension

    This entire NY Times article never mentions once that Shiites might be mad because Sunnis call him a martyr instead of a killer. It just goes on and on about the outrage caused because the hangings were "botched".

    So are they thinking that if the executions had been flawless, then those same Sunnis they interviewed would have said, "Even though Saddam was a Sunni, he was a murdering dictator, so I'm glad they executed him after a fair trial"?

  12. Hillary Clinton came back from Iraq really angry at Maliki. She threatened to cut off money for his body guards. I wonder if he pinched her butt or called her "honey"?

    On CBS, Hillary repeated the shut-down-their-security money threat: "I'm for conditioning any further funding for . . . the protection of the leaders . . . on their fulfulling the political goals that we have expected of them."

  13. It was all a misunderstanding, he caller her his "homey"
    and it was more on an affectionate pat.

  14. Hillary will end up apologizing for that one, and be very, very sorry. She has just shown she is a light weight, not fit to be president.

    A United States Senator basically threatening the elected prime minister of a democracy with violence if he won't do what she wants in his country: on their fulfulling the political goals that we have expected of them. This from the same Democrats who say we should negotiate more.

    Imagine if President Bush had said something like this. This would have been front page headlines on every newspaper in the country.

  15. Right, if Mr Bush had said it, it'd be a change of course.
    The US says "My way or the highway!" and means it.

    Do what we want or you are on your own. The Dems will be able to rally to that "realistic" strategy.
    Then the elected Iraqi are decided to be unworthy of further US support. Not a hard sell in the USA.
    Because all sides agree on "No Permanent Bases" mantra, the strategic Regional issues are undiscussed.

  16. Wu Wei said, "A United States Senator basically threatening the elected prime minister of a democracy with violence if he won't do what she wants in his country: on their fulfulling the political goals that we have expected of them."

    Violence? Suppose Hillary was sold a war to hunt down WMD and get Saddam out of power, and they didn't find any WMD and they hung Saddam, and now they are using her subscription fees to make life a living hell for her own troops every day by removing roadblocks and going out on death-squad raids. Hillary suggests she might want to suspend paying the subscription fees now, but SHE is accused of violence?

  17. It reminds me of Dukkakis riding in the tank. She is trying to be tough but doesn't know how.

    There are other, better ways to say that Maliki must make the reforms or he is out. In fact the Bush Administration has done it recently.

    It is also ridiculous to blame Maliki alone for everything in Iraq. He is a mostly powerless guy who some call "President of the Green Zone". Considering that the Sunni Resistance has blown up 150 civilians in the past 24 hours, I'm in no hurry to push Maliki to compromise with them.

    In fact if we are making a public threat about anything, maybe it should be the "80% solution", that if the Sunnis don't shape up, then we'll support the Shiites and Kurds in wiping out Anbar.

  18. Mr. Maliki is hedging (as if Mr. Bush isn’t).
    U.S. brinkmanship against al-Maliki – part 2

    It is a curious thing to find Iranians implicated in the assassination of a prominent Kurdish leader in Austria in 1989 hanging around a “consulate” in Kurdistan.
    Iranian Arrested at Erbil Consulate Wanted in Austria
    Why worry about extradition to Austria?

  19. Senator Clinton may be the toughest politician in DC today, as those who have crossed her have learned to their loss.

  20. We are not going after al-Sadr in the first phase, and that is not (all) Maliki's fault. A "senior administration official" told yesterday:

    3) There has been some confusion about whether we will try to secure Baghdad all at once, which would take many more troops than the administration is talking about. Statements about how we will be free to go everywhere, including Sadr City, seem to suggest that we’re taking on all the problem at once. This is not the case. The plan will focus on mixed neighborhoods as a priority. But we don't want any of the city to be off limits. We don't want death squads to have a safe haven in Sadr City, but that doesn’t mean we will be invading it as our first order of business.

    This is nothing new, and comes from US plans. The Kagan plan has always said that because we don't have enough troops, we will target Sunni & Mixed neighborhoods in Baghdad in phase 1, depending on Maliki to hold down al-Sadr politically. Then in phase 2 we could go after Sadr City, Anbar, etc.

    The Kagan Plan documents the reason for this in full detail. We need one soldier for every 40-50 Baghdad citizens and even with the surge we'll only have enough for half the city.

    al-Sadr doesn't want a fight with us anyway. He'd rather wait until we clean up the Sunnis, then leave.

    According to this report, of which I don't know the reliability, the Sadr forces are already leaving Baghdad, so even if we search Sadr City we won't find anything. Quotes below in bold:

    Mahdi Army militia members have stopped wearing their black uniforms, hidden their weapons and abandoned their checkpoints in an apparent effort to lower their profile in Baghdad in advance of the arrival of U.S. reinforcements.

    "We have explicit directions to keep a low profile . . . not to confront, not to be dragged into a fight and to calm things down," said one official who received the orders from the anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr...

    Militia members say al-Sadr ordered them to stand down shortly after President George Bush's announcement that the U.S. would send 17,500 more American troops to Baghdad to work alongside the Iraqi security forces.

    The decision by al-Sadr to lower his force's profile in Baghdad will likely cut violence in the city and allow American forces to show quick results from their beefed up presence. But it is also unlikely in the long term to change the balance of power here. Mahdi Army militiamen say that while they remain undercover now, they are simply waiting for the security plan to end...

    Mahdi Army sources said that their heavy weaponry had been moved from Sadr City or hidden since the announcement.

    Across the capital residents described a changed Mahdi Army - in Sadr City, a Shiite slum of more than 2 million people, in Talbiyah on the outskirts of Sadr City, and in Hurriyah, a formerly Sunni Muslim neighborhood in the north of the capital that in recent weeks has been taken over by the Mahdi Army.

    Checkpoints in those locations were gone. Instead, young men in jeans and buttoned shirts directed traffic, helped the Iraqi army and wandered the streets nonchalantly.

  21. Comments from Mr. Bush’s latest Iraqi Shi’a main-squeeze show why his (main-squeeze) pique could explain that of Senator Clinton.
    Top Iraqi condemns US over Iran

    This would not seem to bode well for those proposing attacks by American forces against Iranian territory. As I recall, however, the President’s staff has already backed away from that possibility.

  22. Do I understand that we will use the "Kagan" plan while not using the "Kagan" plan?

  23. Are we using the Kagan plan? The Administration never officially said they were, but they consulted Kagan many times, and the result is very much like it. The Bush plan includes Iraqi troops, while Kagan doesn't depend on them. Also Bush is, by necessity, sending some of the troops slower than Kagan

    The "senior administration offical" mentioned on also said that General Petreaus would have the final say. Here is the full quote:

    I just had a conversation with a senior administration official about the surge. Here's a few things I culled from the conversation, bearing on earlier discussions in this space:

    1) The debate over how many troops are in a brigade seems entirely academic. A brigade is a brigade. It doesn’t matter much how you try to count the number of troops.

    2) The surged American troops will be used in three ways: as embedded advisors with Iraqi units so there will be more “spine-stiffeners” with the Iraqis; as partners with the Iraqis—a U.S. battalion will partner with an Iraqi brigade in clearing and holding the nine districts of Baghdad; as a quick reaction force for specialized missions.

    3) There has been some confusion about whether we will try to secure Baghdad all at once, which would take many more troops than the administration is talking about. Statements about how we will be free to go everywhere, including Sadr City, seem to suggest that we’re taking on all the problem at once. This is not the case. The plan will focus on mixed neighborhoods as a priority. But we don't want any of the city to be off limits. We don't want death squads to have a safe haven in Sadr City, but that doesn’t mean we will be invading it as our first order of business.

    4) The Iraqis will be taking the lead, something the Kagan/Keane plan didn’t envision. But the administration felt it had to give the Iraqis something—i.e., notionally the lead role—in exchange for getting the Iraqis to agree to lift restrictions on the movement of our troops, to commit more Iraqi troops to the fight, and to work toward certain political reforms. We will obviously still have a lot of control.

    5) The phasing of the surge is unavoidable. Since the surge is accomplished through adjusting rotations, it would be very difficult to get it there all at once. But President Bush has committed to sending the five brigades.

    6) At the end of the day, Petreaus wants five brigades and he’s going to get five brigades. A lot of the detailed debate going on about tactics now isn’t particularly relevant, since Petreaus is the one who will ultimately be deciding these questions when he is on the ground in Iraq.

  24. Wouldn't it be reassuring to have a president say something that could survive being gutted by his/her own staff before the passage of two news cycles or a weekend?

  25. > Wouldn't it be reassuring to have a president say something that could survive being gutted by his/her own staff ..

    Yes, I'm not sure who is leaking, State Department or what, but it has badly hurt the Administration. The overall political incompetence is stunning. The plan was basically dangling in the wind for two months, with the washington post, etc. pounding on each detail as it was mentioned in the meetings. Bush had a press conference at end of year where he looked bad. Two weeks before the plan was released, key Republican Committee chairman said publicly that they hadn't been consulted. Then Bush cut the speech his presidency depended on down to 20 minutes, with the White House saying it wouldn't make any difference.

    Almost everything that the public and Congress believes about this plan is a bald faced lie told by the media, yet the Bush Administration doesn't seem to care.

  26. Top Taliban commander detained

    “The captured militant…is wanted for questioning by Afghan security forces…”
    Poor baby, I just bet he is.

    Bermuda, Bahamas, PLEASE send me with pretty mommas!

  27. I have never been to Kabul, but I bet there is a good reason for no one having ever written, "I love Kabul in the springtime".

  28. This article by Kagan compares Bush's plan with his.

    Kagan writes "The notion of deploying the first two brigades while holding the other three in reserve is antithetical to the plan produced by the IPG, and I do not believe it to be sound. Neither am I entirely satisfied with the reduction of Marine RCTs designated for Anbar from two to one. Other elements of the administration's plan are also significantly at variance with the proposal of the IPG, especially the administration's emphasis on putting Iraqis in the lead at all levels, including the tactical and sub-tactical level. But the new commander, Lieutenant General David Petraeus, has not yet taken up command, and it would be best to await his plan before commenting in detail on proposals that may or may not take concrete form.

  29. "One of Iraq's most powerful Shia politicians has condemned the arrest of Iranians by US forces in Iraq as an attack on the country's sovereignty."

    maybe we should have given sadaam another cigarette or two amd had a heart-to-heart chat.

  30. If someone could have explained the word to Shakespeare, shared a bottle of Nicaraguan rum and a great big fat joint, he would have written a play and called it: "Fubar", The follow-up story of Jack Falstaff, harry hotspur and sweet prince Hal.

  31. that is superceded by US Code, 303:KMA

    kiss my ass

  32. bob knows his reptiles and english lit, now that is a renaissance man and clearly a platinum member of the royal order of the elephant emeritus.

  33. Man, I am so embarrassed. This is what the Iranians were doing in Erbil.

    Hey, Abdul, where would you like to go after the suicide bombing?

    "‘Mini-Disneyland’ Nears Completion in Iraq”

  34. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  35. "tits up"; yankees have a big-time debt to those down home southernisms. big chuckle on that one!

  36. Now, this is what happens when you know how to ask the right questions. Creating the right atmosphere and relationship is so essential. Obviously, Afghan intelligence has mastered the fine art of speedy interrogation.

    “…Hanif is said to be is cracking under interrogation, and according to Afghan intelligence…” (What a difference a day makes.)


  37. Pardon, that last link came from Fourth Rail, not Gateway.

  38. Somali Islamic leader Sheik Sheik Sheik-shakeur-booti has been captured. I have got to get a little red beard like that. It must drive all the chicks wild.

    High Value Targets

  39. She's a new Hillary, rough and tough, now that Obama is in the race... but she still wants to cut & run.

    "I don't think begging a government that has shown no willingness to make tough decisions is a strategy," she said on NBC's Today. Clinton said the United States should make it clear to the Iraqi government that "we're not going to fund an army that doesn't show up half the time, that is more aligned with their sectarian position than with the national identity."

    Asked if her talks with Maliki government left her with a sense the Iraqis were ready to do the "hard work" to address security issues, Clinton said: "Well, we got lip service."
    [USA Today]

  40. Talking about Americans willing to do Arab dirty work:

    It is always touching to see old adversaries agree on something.

    Give us your tried

    “We had just deported an Estonian Nazi Commandant back to the Soviet Union after a bruising battle after which we were attacked by Reagan White House Communications Director Patrick Buchanan.”

    “On the upper corner of the letter was a note signed by Jimmy Carter saying that in cases

  41. “On the upper corner of the letter was a note signed by Jimmy Carter saying that in cases such as this, he wanted ‘special consideration for the family for humanitarian reasons.’”

  42. wu wei,

    re: Hillary Clinton

    What did she say that is untrue?

  43. This is why the West will prevail against Islamofascism:

    They may love to die, but we love to fight -

    “Four Royal Marines flew into a battle zone clinging to the outside of helicopter gunships in a bid to rescue a fallen comrade…”'Extraordinary heroism'

    H/T to Ace

  44. > What did she say that is untrue?

    It is pure whining, arguing the negative. She picks flaws in Bush's plan, calls it "losing", but her solution is to just quit = "phased redeployment"! Her so-called solution shows the problem with her approach, that it is so unrealistic that she has to give up.

    Every plan in the real world has flaws, and foreign policy means dealing with crappy little leaders in crappy little countries. Hillary would be in a weaker position since she doesn't believe in military force.

    What she says is a lie by omission. She ignores all the hard realities of life in order to make it sound like all Bush needs to do is beat on Maliki, then Maliki can wave a magic wand and solve all the problems of Iraq.

    She ignores that even under Saddam the Iraqi Army spent 30% of their time taking their pay home, since they don't have a banking system. She ignores that sectarianism in the Army is what we are trying to solve, so if she won't pay a sectarian army, then she needs to walk away. She also insults the Kurds and good Shiites in the Army, the ones who are willing to give their lives protecting Iraqis in other sects.

    She also ignores the fact that one of the reasons why the Shiite / Kurd government is scared to deal with the Sunnis is because the Sunnis held them down in a dicatorship for decades, and ever since the US invasion has resisted the government and slaughtered Shiite civilians.

  45. Hmmm...

    An eye for an eye

    I'll bet the urologist is glad for modernity.

  46. Bobalharb said, "Maybe Bush really is going to launch an attack on Iran, and this putting more troops in the area is to bolster the defense somehow in Iraq for the aftermath."

    The aftermath would be impeachment, and the GOP would never be allowed to have the reins of power again.

  47. rufus,

    I shamefacedly admit to a smile and the thought, "beanie-weenies." May I be forgiven. Really, there is something wrong with me.

  48. Iraq is cracking down on al-Sadr's militia, with over 400 arrested. It could just be that al-Sadr is letting Maliki arrest some rivals who were threatening to take control of the militia from him.

    Shiites arrested

    Although the announcement seemed timed to deflect growing scrutiny by an American administration that has grown increasingly frustrated with Mr. Maliki, American officers here offered some support for the government’s claims, saying that at least half a dozen senior militia leaders had been taken into custody in recent weeks.

    In perhaps the most surprising development, the Americans said, none of the members had been prematurely released, a chronic problem as this government has frequently shielded Shiite fighters.

    “There was definitely a change in attitudes,” in the past three to four weeks, a senior American military officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    Mr. Maliki, in a meeting with foreign journalists on Wednesday, said 400 Mahdi militiamen had been arrested “within the last few days.” A senior government official said later by telephone that the total number arrested was 420 and that they had been detained in 56 operations beginning in October. Several dozen senior leaders have been detained in the past several weeks, the senior official said on condition of anonymity. He said the total number of senior commanders did not exceed 100.