“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."

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Now Morroco. The Islamist Disease Spreads to Casablanca.

New explosion rocks Casablanca BBC. It wears you down. It grinds you up. The insanity. The violence that devours adjectives by the peck. Where is this going?

Two suicide bombers have set off their explosives in the centre of Casablanca, police in Morocco say.
The police are quoted as saying the bombers killed themselves, and there are reports that a woman was injured.

Saturday's blast comes days after three suicide bombers blew themselves up and a fourth was shot dead in the city.

The three were wanted in connection with a 11 March bombing at an internet cafe in Casablanca.

Fears of violence

There are unconfirmed reports that three people have been arrested following Saturday's suicide bombings in the city. One of the suspects was reportedly wearing an explosive belt

Saturday's explosion happened in Boulevard Moulay Youssef. A US cultural centre and US consulate are on the same street.

An AFP report quoting security officials said one of the two bombers asked a policeman for access to the cultural centre when questioned further the pair blew themselves up.

It is the second time this week that suicide attackers have exploded devices in Casablanca.

On Tuesday, three militants blew themselves up when they were confronted by Moroccan police. A fourth suspected militant, and one policemen, were shot dead in clashes.

The BBC's Richard Hamilton in Rabat, said Moroccan police have been searching for members of an alleged terrorist cell that was planning what they say was a massive bombing campaign against tourist resorts and foreign-owned ships.

It follows last month's bombing in Casablanca, when the alleged ringleader of the group killed himself in an internet cafe in the city, says our correspondent.

BBC Arab affairs analyst Magdi Abdelhadi says the recent foiled suicide attempts in Morocco, coupled with recent explosions in neighbouring Algiers have raised fears of a new surge of radical Islamist violence in North Africa.

The Moroccan authorities last week played down the possibility of a link between the latest incidents in Casablanca and the blasts in Algiers.


  1. By coincidence Wu, posted this comment in the previous thread. The classic crossed thread so to speak:

    " Wu Wei said...

    Al Qaeda had a rotten day

    Al Qaeda is an utter failure. Most of their "surge" failed. More importantly, we now see that they can't even try to do anything besides suicide bombings, which proves they are a failure. Al Qaeda can't hold territory. They can't run for office. They can't plant their flag anywhere. Instead they cower in caves and sewers, unable to do anything besides ask civilians to kill civilians. Al Qaeda can't peacefully persuade anyone to follow them, and in fact the Iraqi Sunnis recently turned against them.

    As for the Iraqi Parliament bombing, it mostly failed. The US had intelligence reports before the bombing took place, and increased security. That foiled most of the attack. As an Iraqi at the bombing scene said, AQ bombed a mostly deserted cafeteria. If they had launched the bomb in the assembly hall a few minutes earlier, they could have taken out most of the parliament. Indeed, it was later reported that unexploded explosives were found and detonated in a controlled blast. In summary, Al Qaeda bombed the wrong room, most of its explosives didn't work, and there were leaks from inside their organization.

    It is also important to remember that several ministers of parliament have been arrested and had their houses searched because of being part of terrorist organizations. Large amounts of weapons were found. So it shouldn't be shocking that a terrorist group managed to get something into the parliament.

    This shows how the MSM hates America by always twists the truth to try and say America is the loser. Imagine if the US had tried a raid on a terrorist camp, and most of our weapons didn't work, we hit the wrong part of the camp, word of the attack leaked out in advance, and we missed most of the terrorists. The media would quickly say the raid was a failure, which "proves" that the US has lost the war. Yet when our enemy, Al Qaeda, tries an operation that fails in exactly those ways, the media says it was a success, which "proves" that the US has lost the war. This really just shows that the media and the hate-America crowd can't be trusted.

    Sat Apr 14, 08:22:00 AM EDT "

  2. What that shows, wu's little litney, it that the Standards, the Goals of the enemy are different.

    That success is not measured to the same standard.

    That Operations that expend $100 Billion per annum are judged differently than Operations costing $200 million annually.

    If the aQ in Iraq is a failure, why can't we beat them, after four years?

    How have they tied down 150,000 GIs, and bled US of $500 Billion USD, if they are failures.

    They have progressed on their battle plan of asymetric harassment of US Poliies in the Region.
    If they have failed, why has the US not succeeded?

    wu's matrix of judgement is not the same as theirs. The enemy's goals are not what wu believes them to be. The aQ merely wish to perpetuate the Struggle, to make it "Long".

    They have definately succeeded in that.

  3. Someone on another forum posted a reply to this message, saying that Al Qaeda had a master plan, so I was mistaken in trying to measure them by western standards. Below is my reply:

    The Caliphate

    And then what? They just sit in the sewers planting bombs forever, for no purpose?

    No, the reality is that Al Qaeda wants what they had in Afghanistan, which we took away from them. They want to be the government of a Caliphate, an Islamic fundamentalist dictatorship. That's what they keep trying to build in Iraq, and what we keep knocking down.

    They planted their flag in Fallujah, but we tore it down. Al Qaeda had control of Anbar, but now with our help the Iraqi people have liberated themselves.

    Measured against any other guerrilla & terrorist movement, AQ is a miserable failure. Mao Tse Tung is considered a success because he took over China, not because of his terrorist attacks. If Mao's enemies still controlled China, while Mao's son or grandson was still leading the "revolution" by launching suicide attacks from the caves of China, would we consider Mao a success?

    Mao said that the terrorist "swims in the sea of the People", meaning that the revolutionary needs the support of the people. AQ can't get anyone to support them, so they are resorting to insane, desperate tactics like trying to bomb everyone in Iraq into submission. That never works. A terrorist group can scare some of the people some of the time, but they can't scare everyone all the time.

  4. If al-Qaeda ever builds their caliphate this asymmetrical warfare bolshevik will be over and the days of settling for shooting camels out from under them with A-10s will history. They will actually have real assets we can take out.

  5. North Africa was peaceful before we stirred up the fundies. Remember? It's our fault. Sure, Algeria had a "civil war" in which hundreds of thousands died but what's that got to do with Islam? Everyone knows that the problems are caused by the unjust US policies in the Middle East, in particular our support of that "shitty little country."

  6. There is a difference, wu, between a guerilla army and its' corresponding political movement as described by Mao and terrorists, whom are defined as criminals.

    Do Osama and Dr Z really expect to rule their World from Baghdad?
    Or do they wish to bleed the US in a "Long War".
    Or does one flow from the other?
    Or do they have a full range of Goals, strategic and tactical, that may contradict each other?
    Does it even matter?

    If the aQ is defined as a failure, how does that portray the US, which has not defeated them, in the propaganda wars, nor really on the ground, yet, anywhere.

    Relocation is not defeat, unless it is similar to the Navajo relocation or the "Trail of Tears".
    The aQ went on a "Long March" from Afghanistan to Pakistan, but like Mao, were not defeated by it.

    As wu has told us, aQ is using Iraq as a training ground for cell leaders, for Algerians and others, now reported ready for a Spring Offensive, in Europe.

    On another note:
    In those days, Communist China was the closest thing to today's Iran: a rising regional power, radical, ideological, antagonistic, and increasingly bold. Ike's secretary of State called the Chinese "an acute and imminent threat," and compared their "aggressive fanaticism" to Hitler's. Hawks clamored for action, saying that if the U.S. failed to defend Formosa, it would have to defend San Francisco later.

    That was the climate in which Ike said:

    All of us have heard this term "preventive war" since the earliest days of Hitler. I recall that is about the first time I heard it.... I would say a preventive war, if words mean anything, is to wage some sort of quick police action in order that you might avoid a terrific cataclysm of destruction later. A preventive war, to my mind, is an impossibility today.... I don't believe there is such a thing, and, frankly, I wouldn't even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing.

    Eisenhower's attitude put him at odds with the hawks of both his time and ours; anyone speaking as categorically against preventive war today as he did in 1954 would be derided by mainstream Republicans as a "defeatocrat," waiting for America's enemies to gather strength and strike first. But the victor of World War II was assuredly no dove. He made clear his theoretical willingness to use nuclear weapons, he sent U.S. marines to Lebanon, and he said, "We do not escape war by surrendering on the installment plan." The best way to see Eisenhower is as neither hawk nor dove but, so to speak, as a reptile: a cold-blooded realist.

    Learning From Ike

  7. Desert Rat said
    "Lookin' back on yesterday, while tomorrow smacks ya in the head.

    You are right about one thing, the war I was involved in, the US won.

    Unlike the war you claim.

    Lets take a look..he likes to pull up Cheney quotes from WAY before 9-11-01 to make some useless point about hypocracy, knowing (hopefully) that the political ,geopolitical,and real world undewent a fundamental change on 9-11-01.. Or maybe he's too obtuse to understand that.
    "You are right about one thing, the war I was involved in, the US won."
    So in answering my pick up on his allluding to being involved in the Grenada operation, Grenada has been elevated in his mind to a war.
    Now folks, this is pure propaganda.
    No one, no historian,pundit, or even semi-serious follower of military engagements is gonna classify Grenada as a WAR. That's another insult to those military men and women that fight the tough wars, the long wars,...the real wars. In his own mind, I guess the horrors of Grenada turned him anti-American.
    "Lookin' back on yesterday, while tomorrow smacks ya in the head."

    See first paragragh..he's the one pulling 1999 Cheney quotes to prove points in the post 9-11 world.
    But if it's a refrain we've read once from Desert Rat, it's a refrain we've many a starts with the phrase to his poster target, "NO, it's this way", and then proceeds to hold court on the real word out.
    Now it appears he's done one better with "tomorrow smacks you in the head" .. oracle type stuff, not that we all don't have theories.
    My own, if we pull out can be summed up in the phrases, "bad for the USA"

    Deset Rat and his minions, the barking, pants cuff nipping Doug-pet (chia model available at WalMart), and the woman? with the language of a stevedore are the People for the American Way.

  8. trish said...
    "Stay the Course"

    followed downstream by ...


    let's review anti-war rally tape....reel #2, yep there she is, red banner flying, fist in the air....sing the Internationale

  9. Desert Rat has now gone all the way back to Ike.

    PossumTater told me da Rat gonna git smack up side de hed by tomorrow, cause he learn dat from Rat.

    Rat seem confused says PossumTater.

  10. > how does that portray the US, which has not defeated them

    We have defeated them, again and again and again. Every where we fight, we beat Al Qaeda.

    But as far as exterminating them, removing AQ from the face of the Earth, that will take decades, as President Bush, Cheney, and Blair have said since the beginning.

    The ability of AQ to launch a few suicide attacks means nothing. As long as one person is willing to say "Al Qaeda" before blowing themselves up in a crowd, then Al Qaeda could be said to be alive.

  11. Yezsuh Mr. Habu,

    I be awful confused 'bout dat Grenada War Desert Rat pff'in about. Why Wikipedia say dis in part.

    "The invasion, which commenced at 05:00 on October 25, was the first major operation conducted by the U.S. military since the Vietnam War. Fighting continued for several days and the total number of American troops reached some 7,000 along with 300 troops from the OECS. The invading forces encountered about 1,500 Grenadian soldiers and about 600 Cubans, most of whom were military engineers. There is no evidence that military personnel from other communist countries were on Grenada."

    Why 7000 US fighting 1500 ferocious Grenadan Ganga Head Troops and 600 Cuban engineers.
    It's classic stuff for post tramatic stress disorder.

  12. Mr Cheney said some interesting things, yesterday. As always Mr Cheney sees the trees, the forest though...

    Today, on some of the most critical issues facing the country, the new Democratic majority resembles nothing so much as that old Party of the early 1970s.

    A Party which took commanding control of Congress, by election in 1974, and maintained that control for another twenty years.

    In the early 1970s, the far left wing turned the Democratic Party away from the confident Cold War stance of President Truman, President Kennedy, and Senator Scoop Jackson. The result, as we know, was not merely defeat at the polls, ...

    A defeat that did not come until Newt and 1994.

    An early sign of unseriousness was the comment by Howard Dean, now the party chairman, that the capture of Saddam Hussein did nothing to make America safer. He made that statement several years ago while running for president, and a number of his fellow Democrats sharply criticized him.
    Saddam is dead, hung by the neck. He was detained for almost three years before that happy day, if his capture has made US safer, why does the war continue?
    Why is the terror alert still "Elevated"?

    And the critics conveniently disregard the words of bin Laden himself. "The most serious issue today for the whole world," he said, "is this third world war [that is] raging in [Iraq]." He calls it "a war of destiny between infidelity and Islam." He said, "The whole world is watching this war," and that it will end in "victory and glory or misery and humiliation." And in words directed at the American people, bin Laden declares, "The war is for you or for us to win. If we win it, it means your defeat and disgrace forever."

    This leader of al-Qaeda has referred to Baghdad as the capital of the caliphate. He has also said, "Success in Baghdad will be success for the United States. Failure in Iraq is the failure of the United States. Their defeat in Iraq will mean defeat in all their wars."

    How does Osama define victory, for that matter how does Mr Cheney, could not both sides see a "Long War" which will not be won on either of their watchs?
    If the Bush Administration loses the support of the US public, for the war, how does it propose to retain the resolve of the Government to win it?

    In the weeks since that vote, the actions of the Democratic leadership have moved from the merely inconsistent to the irresponsible. It's now been 67 days since the President submitted the emergency supplemental request. As most Americans know by now, the House of Representatives has voted to provide the funding, but also to require that we cut the number of troops below the level that our commanders in Iraq say is necessary for victory, and further require that American forces begin withdrawing from Iraq according to a set timetable, and be gone next year regardless of circumstances on the ground.

    Now I've read all the statements made by General P, I do not thinkd he mentioned "Victory" as Mr Cheney said. Especially not a military victory, in fact he said it was not possible to obtain military victory. The best that could be accomplished was to provide Iraqis with "breathig room" so they could politically reconcile.

    Senator Reid, of course, was one of the many Democrats who voted for the use of force in Iraq. They are entitled, if they want now, to oppose this war. Yet Americans are entitled to question whether the endlessly shifting positions that he and others are taking are reflections of principle, or of partisanship and blind opposition to the President.

    When it comes to questioning:
    'whether the endlessly shifting positions that he and others are taking are reflections of principle, or of partisanship and blind SUPPORT to the President.'
    one must only look to Mr Cheny's own past statement and wonder:

    You also need to know what constitutes victory.
    How would you define it?
    How would you know when you had achieved it?
    And finally, how do you get out? What's the end game? How do you wrap it all up?
    And what's the cost in terms of American lives in that involvement?

    Then Mr Cheny said this, yesterday:

    The ultimate solution in that country will be a political solution, but reconciliation cannot be reached in an atmosphere of violence and instability. So we are there, alongside Iraqi forces, to bring security to Baghdad. Together our forces have carried out thousands of patrols. We have set up joint security stations and combat posts in the capital city, we've seized hundreds of weapons caches, found and cleared hundreds of improvised explosive devices, detained suspected killers and bomb makers, and found and destroyed car bomb factories.

    Which does not square with what he said earlier, is it blind partisanship that makes Mr Cheney forget he said:

    Is there any reason to expect that an age-old conflict based on animosities that go back for hundreds of years is going to be ameliorated or ended by the temporary presence of U.S. military force? I don't think so.

  13. wu wei I'm with ya.

    we've beat 'em but like Vietnam our fifthe columnists at home are determiined to turn victory inot defeat.

  14. DR....
    Democratic leftist anti Americanism was at it's height during 1974. Busy defunding an ally and setting up for the US to lose the war in Vietnam.
    Directly linked to the rhetoric you use today to have Aq and th Islamists defeat the US.

    You are a Quisling, " His surname has become an eponym for "traitor", especially a collaborationist.[1]

  15. Any successful war, including World War II, ends with a period of nation building in which the victor ensures that the enemy does not retake power, and that the new government is friendly. I don't understand why some who say they want to fight like WWII insist that unlike that war, where we occupied for decades, that we retreat from Iraq so quickly.

    As for the Cheney quotes, there is no contradiction at all. No one ever said that fighting in Bosnia was in the national security of the US. It was just meddling. The Authorization of Force resolution for Iraq listed all the reason why we had to fight there, all reasons of self defense. We found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, contrary to conventional wisdom, but even if for the sake of argument we ignore those, there were still lots of reasons to go into Iraq.

    Once we take a country over, then we occupy and transition to a local government. That's the basic rules of war, and common sense self defense. If we destroyed a country's army, then immediately left, another enemy could take the country over, in this case Iran.

    As the quotes here have shown, our enemy, Al Qaeda, has said that taking over Iraq is essential for them. That means it is essential for us to stop them, even if we have to stay there for decades, and even if some Iraqi factions are fighting with each other.

    As for conquering Baghdad in the prior Iraq War, Cheney correctly knew that we wouldn't have public support to fight the war. Al Qaeda also hadn't reached the point where it had taken over an entire country, and bombed on the scale of 9/11.

    We could go even further back in history and quote US presidents who said we should support Iran, because before the Ayatollah K. took over, Iran was friendly to us. Times change.

  16. Caroline Glick:

    In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration identified certain basic guiding realities and missed others. First there was the issue of Arab tyranny. As Bush recalled last September, "For decades, American policy sought to achieve peace in the Middle East by pursuing stability at the expense of liberty. The lack of freedom in that region helped create conditions where anger and resentment grew, and radicalism thrived, and terrorists found willing recruits."

    Yet recognizing this basic reality did not lead the administration to adopt appropriate policies. Rather than promote liberty, which at its core revolves around a certain foundational understanding of human dignity, the administration promoted elections - fast elections - in Iraq and throughout the region.

    In so doing, the administration placed the cart before the horse, with predictable results. The legacy of tyranny is hatred and dependence. And the values of hatred and dependence were those that were expressed at the ballot boxes in Iraq, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. In all jihadists, often allied with Iran, were empowered while those that were considered moderates modified their positions in opposition to the US.

    The Americans pushed for elections in the hopes of finding a silver bullet that would instantly solve the problem of tyranny in the Arab world. But in their rush, the Americans trampled the very liberal democrats they sought to empower.

    These forces, who receive no money from Iran and Saudi Arabia to buy votes, and have no private militias to intimidate voters, couldn't compete against the likes of the Dawa party in Iraq, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or Fatah and Hamas in the Palestinian Authority
    By pushing fast elections, the US entrapped itself. It inadvertently empowered its enemies and so was unable to embrace the duly elected governments. In opposing the forces it expended so much energy getting elected, the US was perceived as weak, foolish and hypocritical.
    Since Iran and Syria view the US as their enemy, their ideal scenario is for the US to bleed in Iraq while propping up a weak Shi'ite government that has no inclination or ability to threaten them. That is, for Iran and Syria, the current situation in Iraq aligns perfectly with their interests (which explains why they are working so diligently to maintain it).

    As for the Arab world, the administration believes that since the Arabs oppose Iran's quest to become a regional nuclear power, they will help the US both in stabilizing Iraq and in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

    Here too, the administration confuses common interests with common agendas. The fact that the Arabs share common interests with the US does not make them allies. As a young Saudi imam put it this week to The Wall Street Journal, "We are waiting for the time to attack [the US]. Youth feel happy when the Taliban takes a town or when a helicopter comes down, killing Americans in Iraq. It is a very dangerous situation for the US in the whole Muslim world."

    The fruits of America's disorientation were revealed in last month's three Saudi summits: the Hamas-Fatah summit, the King Abdullah-Ahmadinejad summit and the Arab League-Iranian summit.
    ... the Bush administration has been advancing a vision of an anti-Iranian Arab coalition, which will join forces with America to confront and defeat Teheran.

    There has been no rational basis for this view since the Saudis, Egyptians and Jordanians responded last year to Iran's nuclear advances by announcing that they will get their own nukes. But it took last month's diplomatic cavalcade in Saudi Arabia to finally destroy the fantasy.

    First there was the Hamas-Fatah summit in Mecca where Abdullah undermined the US by promising to pay Hamas terrorists a billion dollars in exchange for their agreement to let Fatah terrorists be their junior partners in government.

    If that wasn't sufficient proof that Abdullah is not a friend, there was his warm and fuzzy love-fest with Ahmadinejad.

    Their meeting shocked Israeli, American and British intelligence services, who perceived it as the culmination of a progressive Saudi estrangement from the US. It was preceded by a massive expansion of Saudi ties with China and Russia.

    Any notion that the US could expect assistance from the Arabs in contending with Iran disintegrated a week later when Abdullah and Mubarak enthusiastically signed onto the Arab League and Iranian statement referring to the US presence in Iraq as an "illegal occupation."
    The success the US is now experiencing in Iraq is the result of a process of identifying and correcting mistakes. If such learning could take place regarding the US's regional strategy, there is every reason to believe that it will contend successfully with Iran and the Arab world. But to correct mistakes it is first necessary to recognize them.

    The US is not failing to contend with Iran because it went to war in Iraq. It is failing because it is implementing policies that prefer imaginary silver bullets to real solutions for real problems.

  17. The Infamous Cheney Article

    Since the Cheney article has been quoted so much, I thought I'd paste the link and give some other quotes from it.

    Cheney noted that Iraq and Iraq were threats which we had to watch, including "responding to threats whenever they arise".

    Long term, we have to be concerned about both Iran and Iraq. The Gulf is going to be an area of vital interest to the United States for at least a hundred years. We have to remain actively involved there -- supporting our friends in the region, trying to promote stability, and responding to threats whenever they arise.

    Here is the infamous quote:

    Is there any reason to expect that an age-old conflict based on animosities that go back for hundreds of years is going to be ameliorated or ended by the temporary presence of U.S. military force? I don't think so. And for all of those reasons, I was, and still am, very reluctant to see us rely on U.S. forces to solve Bosnia's problems. I am afraid we would have an ill-defined mission, we would take significant casualties, and would get involved without knowing how we were going to get out.

    This has nothing to do with Iraq. We did not enter Iraq to solve Iraq's problems. It wasn't an age old conflict. It was because a dictator who ran the country with an iron fist was a threat to us. We entered Iraq to take out Saddam's government, and eliminate WMD. Putting a government in place is a side mission, which is a standard part of any occupation.

  18. > implementing policies that prefer imaginary silver bullets to real solutions for real problems.

    That's how I look at the idea of "getting tough" and fighting another World War II, as an imaginary silver bullet instead of a real solution to the real Iraq.

  19. We know what the problem is; Islamic fundamentalism.

    We know who the primary players are; Saudi Arabia and Iran.

    The complication is our addiction to mideast oil. To get our fix, we play "ho" to Pimp Abdullah. The Pimp keeps us on a short leash.

    Powerful interests are at work behind the scenes. Kinda like "Big Business" and the border security problem.

  20. Wu said:
    We did not enter Iraq to solve Iraq's problems. It wasn't an age old conflict. It was because a dictator who ran the country with an iron fist was a threat to us. We entered Iraq to take out Saddam's government, and eliminate WMD. Putting a government in place is a side mission, which is a standard part of any occupation.

    That exactly right Wu, which is why we are having an ongoing debate about the side mission and whether our continued efforts will be worth the cost.

  21. wu,

    Analysis: The Shia-Sunni schism
    By Tim Butcher, Middle East Correspondent
    Last Updated: 1:38am GMT 05/03/2007

    The Shia-Sunni schism within Islam goes back almost 1,500 years but is crucial for understanding the modern Middle East.

    Its continuing power dominated the weekend summit in Riyadh between the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

    Publicly, officials described the meeting as an opportunity to discuss regional issues including political strife in Lebanon, sectarian violence in Iraq and the fragile national unity government agreed by the Palestinians.

    But in reality the meeting was the latest instalment of an ancient drama, a coming-together of the two men widely viewed as leaders of the rival branches of the house of Islam.

    The rivalry can sometimes appear a little baffling to the outsiders as both sides are strict adherents to Islam.

    But Shias revere direct descendants of Mohammed, the Muslim prophet, while Sunnis believe religious leaders do not necessarily have to belong to the house of Mohammed. Around this difference centuries of feuding have been built.

    In ancient times Shias and Sunnis met on the battlefield. No quarter was given in the fight for the soul of Islam and the blood shed in those early battles is still venerated by both sides.

    Today's battlefield is less noble: the alleyways of Baghdad suburbs where sectarian death squads do their work; the hills of southern Lebanon where militiamen break international embargos to smuggle rockets; the interrogation chambers of intelligence agencies across the Middle East.

    With 85 per cent of the world's Muslims, Sunni Islam has traditionally been seen as the dominant following but in recent years Shia Islam has enjoyed a renaissance with Iran, the Shia Islamic Republic, the main beneficiary.

    The primary cause has been the policy adopted by America after the 11 September 2001 attacks.

    No friend of Iran, Washington nevertheless embarked on a series of actions that have threatened to permanently alter the traditional Sunni dominance of the Middle East.

    By ousting the Taliban, followers of a Sunni subsect, from Afghanistan, America allowed Iranian Shia influence to blossom there.

    And by ending the Sunni controlled dictatorship of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the country's Shia majority enjoyed new freedom, which it has used to foster close links with Iran.

    And even in Lebanon, America's support of popular democracy has entrenched the country's sizeable Shia minority as a major political force and through its militant wing, Hizbollah, it has felt strong enough to attack Israel.

    From the shores of the Mediterranean to the poppy fields of Afghanistan, a Shia crescent has bloomed over the last few years.

    It is that reality that lay behind the handshakes and photo opportunities between President Ahmadinejad and King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia this weekend.

    And like all good dramas, it is unclear how the next instalment will play out. Will Shia Iran overplay the good hand it has been dealt since 2001 or will Saudi Arabia be able to finesse a resurgence of Sunni influence?

  22. Mission Creep brought US into a Sectarian War that we have no chance to quell with the temporay presence of US troops.
    According to Mr Cheney.

  23. The Shia Revival

    How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future

    Author: Vali R. Nasr, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies

    An editors’ choice pick in the New York Times, which calls the book “a fast-moving, engaging, and ultimately unnerving book.”

    As nations around the world struggle with the threat of militant Islam, Vali Nasr, one of the leading scholars on the Middle East, provides us with the rare opportunity to understand the political and theological antagonisms within Islam itself. The Shia Revival is a penetrating historical account of sectarian conflicts in the Muslim world, showing that the future rests in finding a peaceful solution to the ancient rivalries between the Shias and the Sunnis.

    Nasr provides a unique and objective understanding of this 1,400-year bitter struggle between the two sects—tracing its roots from the succession of the Prophet Mohammad—forcing us to differentiate the religious and theological aspect of Islam from its political and military rivalries. Outlining the rich history of a people and a vibrant culture that has spanned not only the Middle East but also modern-day Pakistan and India, Nasr explains the traditional hostilities and scrutinizes their current embodiment in the power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia for political and spiritual leadership of the Muslim world.

  24. A 1,400 year struggle.

    Wonder what Mr Lewis says about it?

  25. > which is why we are having an ongoing debate about the side mission and whether our continued efforts will be worth the cost.

    True, and I don't have all answers, which parts of the Iraqi fighting are worth it and which aren't. That is the problem, that the Democrats are trying to short circuit that debate. They are trying to force us out of Iraq on a 50.1% - 49.9% vote based on a secret deal made behind closed doors in Washington.

    There is debate on blogs, but the Democrat politicians just keep saying "civil war". Unfortunately the President is usually either silent, says just "war on terror", or talks about veto threats. Each of those phrases, from both sides, are in some way part of the truth, but not the whole thing.

    I think of the war in two parts. In my opinion, defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq has the same justification and importance as WWII, except that we are fighting a weaker enemy. This is an enemy which has bombed us on our own soil, is trying to establish a base camp to do it again, and we have been asked to help defeat by the citizens of Iraq, a country we liberated and whose army we destroyed.

    As for the rest of the fighting in Iraq, before supporting withdrawal of support in the Iraqi government I would want proof that it wouldn't prevent us from defeating AQ in Iraq. Frankly, I haven't seen any reason to leave Iraq. The progress is steady and as expected. Iraq is going through the same phases as Afghanistan, except that as could be expected, it is taking Iraq longer to pull together. The fighting last year between the Sunnis and Shiites, including the death squads, moved the country closer to peace. There has been a lot of great news lately.

  26. There are Sunnis and Shiites all over the world, and most of them aren't fighting. Even in Iraq they aren't (and last year weren't fighting). There never was anything close to a civil war last year. The three Iraqi factions (including Kurds) have already partitioned most of the country. What happened last year was turf battles over the parts of Baghdad which were uncontested. Each side ordered citizens of the other to leave contested areas, and killed those who didn't. The fighting never spread beyond the contested areas, except for some revenge and tit for tat killings between the death squads.

    Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites continue to inter-marry and share cities. A large percentage of the Iraqis want a single government. The idea of a Sunni - Shiite conflict is just a theory at this point.

  27. Nasr was both a previous and current supporter of aiding Iraqi Shi'ites because he thinks that the Shi'a revival will moderate Islam. I don't necessarily agree with this, but I think frankly, that if you're going to reference a book as a piece of evidence, you should probably actually read it.

    Eisenhower made that speech in the context of convincing the American public that 'Rollback' didn't mean he was going to immediately declare war on the USSR and and rewrite Yalta - so much different context.

    "The complication is our addiction to mideast oil. To get our fix, we play "ho" to Pimp Abdullah. The Pimp keeps us on a short leash."

    Important to note the problem is much bigger - it is the world's addiction to oil, and not just Middle Eastern at that. Global markets and all. It makes the problem much more difficult than simply getting -us- off it, because we don't even buy the majority of our oil from the Middle East in the first place.

  28. > By pushing fast elections, the US entrapped itself. It inadvertently empowered its enemies and so was unable to embrace the duly elected governments. <

    The Glick column is typical liberal arguing-the-negative. It says everything the Republicans did is wrong, there are lots of things that could get even worse, but everything would have been perfect if only they had used the silver bullet, the bullet my side believes in.

    There's an old saying that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own set of facts. These articles typically make up their own (incorrect) facts & assumptions. The Glick article assumes that Bush pushed for quick elections, but could have "won" by postponing them. Simply not true. We've been there and done that. The Bush administration did not "push fast elections", but rather dragged its feet. Sistani had already been to the UN asking for elections, and was ready to lead the Shiites in revolt. Sistani only agreed to wait because the UN negotiated a later date, and promised to monitor it.

    Holding elections, the purple fingers, was a massive step forward for Iraq. Before then political pressure was at a peak in the US, and many believed that the terrorists were 10 feet tall, and couldn't be defeated. It was widely predicted that few would show up for the election because of fears of the terrorists. Instead, the terrorists were shown to be weak everywhere in Iraq besides Sunni territory, and the Sunni people demanded to be allowed to vote in the next election.

    One last point: if elections were held now, does anyone believe that the results would be massively different?

    It would be possible to go through these articles line by line and tear them apart. But it would bore everyone to death, and would serve no purpose. Freedom of speech allows authors to write these fiction articles, articles which are about an imaginary Iraq in an imaginary world which never existed.

  29. Caroline Glick = liberal

    Definitions do change over time.
    As do Standards and Requirements.

    Anything that does not kneel at the alter of GOP infallibility is now liberal and leftist?

    Talk about your moral relativism and the shifting sands of reality.

    As his position shifted, was Mr Cheney a liberal in the 90s or is he a liberal today?
    Is Wilsonian nation building a conservative or liberal approach?

    Mr Blair called the Iraq Campaign "progressive", is it really?

    What is the meaning of is?

  30. > Caroline Glick = liberal

    Whatever we label Glick (unimportant), what I pointed out about her column, which is the important thing, holds. She invented her own set of (false) facts. Saying that the US could have held elections off, or they made things worse, is nothing but fantasy.