Bitter Baghdad

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The New York Observer's Tish Durkin has been filing consistently fascinating reports from Iraq. Here's a snippet from her latest:

I?d still support the war?and so, I gather from months of putting the question, would most Iraqis. A year ago, when it invaded, the Bush administration did the right thing. But with astounding, relentless, marksman-like consistency, it has been doing the wrong thing ever since. Contrary to the cries of its critics, this long march of missteps has not occurred because the administration is full of flag-waving, U.N.-flouting, slogan-spouting cowboys. It is because the administration is, it is now painfully clear, utterly devoid of cowboys. A cowboy, after all, rides into hostile territory, fights the bad guys, helps the good guys, and protects the women and children. This administration rode in all right. Then they realized that the bad guys were really, really bad, that they did different kinds of bad things that required different kinds of responses, and that they were often hard to distinguish from the good guys.

Whole thing here.

NEXT: Canned in Druidia?

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  1. joe

    I don’t know if you were here, but a year ago the anti-war (anti-Bush) crowd wanted us to mow down the looters like spring wheat (so…maybe they were right?).

    But…we are gonna arm, then disarm, a bunch of guys WITHIN four weeks, while taking down a nation of twenty-five million?????

    And why? So it will LOOK like Pancho Villa and Zapata? Is this some kind of post-modernist style-over-substance requirement?

  2. I wish Andrew and company would stop trying to compare Iraq to postwar Germany. Gulf War Two is NOT World War Two; Iraq, unlike Germany, did not possess a powerful military machine which had already absorbed most of its neighbors; Iraq was not a formal ally of a country which declared war on us by bombing an important Pacific military base. Also, when we were in Germany we were engaged in an honest occupation, not an ersatz “liberation.”

    I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again–why is it that the guys most rabidly calling for Iraqi blood now were the ones most fervent about “liberating” them a year ago? When exactly did we switch gears from “liberate” to “exterminate?”

    Finally, the attacks in Iraq aren’t terrorist attacks, for the most part. Attacking a military force that is occupying your country is technically “resistance,” not “terrorism.”

  3. “Attacking a military force that is occupying your country is technically “resistance,” not “terrorism.”

    According to Reuters…and the KKK during Reconstruction.

  4. Iraqis are voting for……..

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1185792,00.html

    Secularists.

    I guess there is no chance of bringing democracy to Iraq with results like this.

    Uh, wait. Has there been a misunderstanding here?

    Well, never mind.

  5. In the middle east, as in business, respect is more important than friendship. The Arab people and countries will never be our friends and they don’t respect the US. Why? To date, there have been few, if any, consequenses for the tomfoolery of the “resistance fighters” and for bad behavior in general. There was no retailiation for the Cole (see C Rice’s convoluted excuses this morning) and OBL has stated multiple times that the US just cuts and runs and recoils in horror.

    I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again – we’re an occupying force and our intent shouldn’t be to ensure rights and liberties, but to restore order and work to create some sort of economic system.

    For instance, the Marines knew the barabric mini-riot in Faluja was taking place and chose to do nothing. For as long as it went on, the military could have brought in an F-16 and destroyed the whole damn block with little ‘collateral damage.’ Would it cause Iraqis to hate us? They already hate us…But you sure as hell would scare the living crap out of them and maybe it wouldn’t happen again.

    Show me one instance where the US displayed a overwhelming show of force post the fall of Baghdad? The Iraqis believe they can get away with anything…

  6. Andrew-
    I swear, do Republicans attend secret classes in “Wildly inappropriate metaphors?” Your KKK-after-the-Civil-War metaphor will only work if you can prove that Iraq used to be part of the US, and we invaded them after they tried to illegally break away.

    Is M’sieur Bart still here? Perhaps he can settle this semantic question: do French high-school students learn abpout the history of the “French resistance” or the “goddam train-exploding anti-German terrorists?” I ask for Andrew’s edification, not mine.

    (And no, people, I am not comparing the US to the Nazis, but an Iraqi civilian whose family died in a bomb raid probably is.)

  7. Jennifer

    Where do you get YOUR crap? Does American bomb-damage explain why one of Sadyr’s “resistance-fighters” throws acid on an unveiled woman, or burns down a “decadent” cinema, or wants to settle it up with Kurds who mostly live in parts of Iraq he may never have seen?

    Is THIS the kind of thing the maquis were about as YOU see it? Those plucky French resistance-fighters were all about theocracy, and keeping France unpolluted by foreign culture?

  8. May I suggest what we should have done vis-a-vis the Iraqis and their AKs?

    We should have handed them out like candy.

    I’m remined of what Machiavelli said in “The Prince” : when a prince takes a new city, he should arm the populace, not disarm them. To disarm the people shows a) that you fear them and b) that you have no respect for their rights. (Of course, we’ve managed to show the Iraqis that we fear them quite adequately without taking away their guns.) On the other hand, no man hands his enemy a loaded weapon. Everyone knows this on an instinctual level. What we needed was a bold action to show the Iraqis that we were NOT there to humiliate them, NOT there to oppress them, but to liberate them…and, insofar as we were truly acting with their own interests at heart, we had nothing to fear from them, and therefore did not fear arming them. (The upside to this is that it would be mostly a symbolic gesture, since everybody over there has an AK already.)

    Past that, there’d still be lots more work to be done. We didn’t secure law and order, we allowed informal militias to rise, partially as a consequence to the former. But taking steps to arm the populace would have been a bold first step towards a stable Iraq.

  9. May I suggest what we should have done vis-a-vis the Iraqis and their AKs?

    We should have handed them out like candy.

    I’m remined of what Machiavelli said in “The Prince” : when a prince takes a new city, he should arm the populace, not disarm them. To disarm the people shows a) that you fear them and b) that you have no respect for their rights. (Of course, we’ve managed to show the Iraqis that we fear them quite adequately without taking away their guns.) On the other hand, no man hands his enemy a loaded weapon. Everyone knows this on an instinctual level. What we needed was a bold action to show the Iraqis that we were NOT there to humiliate them, NOT there to oppress them, but to liberate them…and, insofar as we were truly acting with their own interests at heart, we had nothing to fear from them, and therefore did not fear arming them. (The upside to this is that it would be mostly a symbolic gesture, since everybody over there has an AK already.)

    Past that, there’d still be lots more work to be done. We didn’t secure law and order, we allowed informal militias to rise, partially as a consequence to the former. But taking steps to arm the populace would have been a bold first step towards a stable Iraq.

  10. May I suggest what we should have done vis-a-vis the Iraqis and their AKs?

    We should have handed them out like candy.

    I’m remined of what Machiavelli said in “The Prince” : when a prince takes a new city, he should arm the populace, not disarm them. To disarm the people shows a) that you fear them and b) that you have no respect for their rights. (Of course, we’ve managed to show the Iraqis that we fear them quite adequately without taking away their guns.) On the other hand, no man hands his enemy a loaded weapon. Everyone knows this on an instinctual level. What we needed was a bold action to show the Iraqis that we were NOT there to humiliate them, NOT there to oppress them, but to liberate them…and, insofar as we were truly acting with their own interests at heart, we had nothing to fear from them, and therefore did not fear arming them. (The upside to this is that it would be mostly a symbolic gesture, since everybody over there has an AK already.)

    Past that, there’d still be lots more work to be done. We didn’t secure law and order, we allowed informal militias to rise, partially as a consequence to the former. But taking steps to arm the populace would have been a bold first step towards a stable Iraq.

  11. May I suggest what we should have done vis-a-vis the Iraqis and their AKs?

    We should have handed them out like candy.

    I’m remined of what Machiavelli said in “The Prince” : when a prince takes a new city, he should arm the populace, not disarm them. To disarm the people shows a) that you fear them and b) that you have no respect for their rights. (Of course, we’ve managed to show the Iraqis that we fear them quite adequately without taking away their guns.) On the other hand, no man hands his enemy a loaded weapon. Everyone knows this on an instinctual level. What we needed was a bold action to show the Iraqis that we were NOT there to humiliate them, NOT there to oppress them, but to liberate them…and, insofar as we were truly acting with their own interests at heart, we had nothing to fear from them, and therefore did not fear arming them. (The upside to this is that it would be mostly a symbolic gesture, since everybody over there has an AK already.)

    Past that, there’d still be lots more work to be done. We didn’t secure law and order, we allowed informal militias to rise, partially as a consequence to the former. But taking steps to arm the populace would have been a bold first step towards a stable Iraq.

  12. Nothing cowardly about a quadruple-posting.

    Andrew, I am not trying to argue that the Iraqis are morally the good guys; I’m just saying that, whatever other moral failings they may possess, they have justifiable reasons for wanting the Americans out of their country, and they will be getting more such reasons every day we stay there. The way they treat their own countrymen may be deplorable, but the way they treat ours is to be expected.

  13. Amidst all the hysteria, a few points are worth noting:

    – the ‘widespread uprising’ is a sham. Muqtada al-Sadr has maybe 50,000-100,000 followers, and they have spread out into numerous places and created simultaneous ‘uprisings’ to make it appear as a general Shiite rebellion. It is not. Outside of his core group, al-Sadr has almost no support. If al-Sistani joins the party, all bets are off. So far, he’s staying far clear. It would be most helpful if he would issue a fatwa claiming the al-Sadr intifada to be illegitimate, but he has his own security to worry about. Perhaps he will once the U.S. demolishes enough of al-Sadr’s brigades.

    – The #1 concern of Iraqis is not the occupation forces, but lack of security. Cracking some heads hard right now may actually improve their impression of the coalition, if it is done right.

    – There seems to be pretty much a zero risk of an Islamic state rising. Support for a theocracy is low in all areas of Iraq.

    – The much-feared civil war doesn’t appear to be happening either. Poll respondents in all areas of Iraq claim to want a single Iraqi state.

    – Outside of a few troubled areas, Iraq is making great progress towards freedom. The Kurdish areas in particular are peaceful, booming economically, and they have a pluralistic, secular, democratic government. Support for the war and America in general in Kurdish areas is as high as 85-90%. The Kurds can play a moderating role in Iraq, and set an example of good governance.

    There are plenty of challenges ahead in Iraq, and it could still all go to hell. But this ‘uprising’ may turn out to be a good thing. In my opinion, al-Sadr played his hand too early, and now he’s going to get the big smackdown. Had he waited until the eve of a power handoff, or after, he could have presented huge challenges. Right now, he’s presenting an opportunity for the U.S. to finally engage in the pacification it avoided with him earlier. al-Sadr has been a constant irritating force in the region, stirring up hatred ad insurrection. This rebellion of his gives the U.S. the casus belli for removing a serious problem. Let’s hope the military commanders follow through.

    As for the Sunnis – they had the most to lose from Iraq leaving power, as they received all the perks and had all the power in Iraq despite being a small minority. So it’s no surprise that they are unhappy. They are also fearful of reprisals from Iraqis who spent decades under Saddam’s boot. Further complicating the issue was Turkey’s refusal to allow the U.S. to start a Northern front, which meant that Iraq fell without places like Fallujah having to face the might of the armed forces. History tells us that enemies have to be utterly dominated before they can be pacified. This didn’t happen in the ‘Sunni Triangle’, which left it a festering sore spot. The difficult part is that in the Arab world, domination can also cause loss of face, leading to radicalism. So it’s a fine line. The Marines are now walking that line, and I have a lot of confidence that they’ll do a splendid job of it.

  14. joe

    And which ones did You like the best…the ones with the totalitarian political philosophy?

    Joe we admire the maquis, and partisans we might reasonably compare to them, NOT because we suppose they were anti-human tribal atavists, or followers of freaky political ideas, but because we impute to them (in some cases by the benefit of the doubt) an underlying patriotism which is humane.

    So why STRETCH the point to qualify obvious, thorough-going freaks– who are a menace to the population they live within– as “freedom-fighters”? Is it THAT important to make the US look bad?

  15. joe

    And which ones did You like the best…the ones with the totalitarian political philosophy?

    Joe we admire the maquis, and partisans we might reasonably compare to them, NOT because we suppose they were anti-human tribal atavists, or followers of freaky political ideas, but because we impute to them (in some cases by the benefit of the doubt) an underlying patriotism which is humane.

    So why STRETCH the point to qualify obvious, thorough-going freaks– who are a menace to the population they live within– as “freedom-fighters”? Is it THAT important to make the US look bad?

  16. Admire? They were FRENCH!

    No, seriously, the ones I admire the most were the 14 year old girl and her little brother who snuck into the railyard and let the lube out the train cars carrying the panzer division’s tanks to Normandy. I believe the belonged to the “No More Nazis and Give Me Some Candy” Party.

    The imputation you refer to is an ideological construct. People fighting for noble, patriotic purposes have carried out atrocities, too. Occam’s Razor suggests that people shooting at soldiers in a foreign army occupying their country are probably motivated by a desire to end the occupation of their country by a foreign power.

  17. I do feel in general we’ve been too light-footed there. We should have made it clear that even though we support the Iraqi people, there are certain ground rules. For instance, though they must have democracy, it should be built upon respect for minority rights, whether they like it or not.

  18. “ideological construct”

    Sweet Jeebus, Joe !!! Not even you …

  19. Although we may never have another occasion to employ them, I think we can say that some conclusions can be established about how democracy can or can’t be introduced into a society with no real precedents for it. One certainly, is that democratic governance does NOT flourish where security and public order are weak.

  20. I can use shorter words if you’d like…

  21. dlc:

    “Would it cause Iraqis to hate us? They already hate us…”

    Well, if the Iraqis hate you, then what the hell are you doing there? Isn’t “liberating the Iraqis” the reason du jour for this war? Or has the neo-cons cooked up a new reason that I’m not aware of?

  22. A neocon would argue that the ‘liberation’ and democratization of Iraq, and by proxy the middle east, would be in America’s security interests. That is probably very true – but we can argue the means and methods to get there all day long.

    I would argue that establishing security and economic activity through sometimes brutal force would be more likely to reduce their hatred of the US over the longer-term and might win over those who hate the US simply because they cannot control the more violent elements in Iraq.

    A third point is that the question is not “what are we doing there,” but “now that we are there, how are we going to get out without a)allowing Iraq to decend into chaos b)looking foolish (maybe too late?) and c)proving OBL’s axiom that Americans will cut and run at the first sign of bloodshead?”

  23. We should leave. Now.

    Those folks have to figure out how to govern themselves sometime. If they kill each other instead of us, well that’s progress. We killed half our adult men in our civil war and lived to talk about it. Our continued condescending puppeteering is leading nowhere.

  24. Generally I have to agree with the article. The problem with the our guys in charge over in Iraq is that they are too fearfull of offending anyone, not that they are too much like cowboys.

    I think we should have been heavy handed from the beginning. The whole idea of just trying to take out Saddam without harming anyone else wasn’t right either. Saddam and his son’s didn’t rule Iraq by themselves.

    So now there are people who read us as weak and unwilling to risk alianating anyone, and they see an opportunity to seize power by force. It is going to be much harder to establish order now. But it still can be done, and it still must be done.

    I read the Arab newspapers daily and I really think that there is no winning those folks over by appearing just and nice. We have to be ruthless and consistent, the new Iraqi security forces are going to have to be perhaps even more ruthless. As another person said in a post on an earlier thread, “give them economic prosperity first then, political freedom later.” Or something like that.

    (wasn’t that you who said something like that Andrew?)

  25. “Occam’s Razor suggests that people shooting at soldiers in a foreign army occupying their country are probably motivated by a desire to end the occupation of their country by a foreign power.”

    joe

    Occam’s Razor is a notoriously hazy analytical tool. I assume much of what is going on is pre-emptive jockeying by wannabe warlords who actually figure we WILL be leaving, and perhaps quite soon.

    I also assume Sadr wishes to stay out of jail and alive…although he may have put himself a bit too far down the path for that.

    “Resistance” as an honorific is DEFINITELY an ideological construct…why are you so eager to impress it upon these thugs and savages? Why not limit it to situations where the people killing foreign soldiers at least MIGHT qualify as humanists…or human, anyway?

  26. Killing more of them will make them love us!

  27. At one time I worked part time as a bouncer in a nightclub. Manytimes I came across one guy amongst a group of friends who was acting up and needed to be thrown out. You always talk to the guy and give him a chance. Never tell ask somebody more than twice, if the guy needed to be thrown out, you had to do it quickly, viciously, mean and rough. If you try to throw a guy out gently you invariably end up fighting 5 or so guys, and you end up creating a big scene, and you lose many more customers.

  28. kwais

    Your example is apposite. I would guess many Iraqis feel like inmates in a very rough prison during a riot when the guards are only loosely in control, if at all. Would anyone in such a situation be saying “FREE AT LAST!”?

    (I don’t recall saying anything quite like that, although others have. Until recently I have been a lot more optimistic about majority rule…and I am still sitting on the fence.)

  29. The argument that they hate us anyway, so what do we have to lose by offending them even more is akin to saying that because a fire is already burning, throwing gasoline on it wont make things any worse.

  30. But jthaler

    I am not at all sure that all Iraqis WOULD hate us if we did what had to be done to suppress the militias…although to armchair anarchists in the States, the notion of having your neighborhoods patrolled by “competing” militias might sound like nirvana.

    The point is that during a prison riot, no inmate DARES to cheer the guards…no matter that he is praying for them to return order.

  31. Andrew,

    Most of the KKK’s actions were against civilians (indeed, the wanton slaughter of blacks was a rather shameful affair); its a myth that there was significant US military presence in American south after 1866. The US army was quickly downsized, and approximately 40,000 soldiers were present in southern states.

    Jennifer,

    …do French high-school students learn abpout the history of the “French resistance” or the “goddam train-exploding anti-German terrorists?” I ask for Andrew’s edification, not mine.

    The role of the resistance is dealt with in French “high schools” (lycee); and no, they are not anti-German terrorists.

  32. dan,

    That is a rather optimistic spin.

  33. Andrew,

    That lesson should have been learned in SE Asia; unless of course you think the sustained rocket attacks on Phonm Phen by the Khmer Rouge from ~1972 onward until the collapse in 1975 was a sign of “security.”

    Majority rule is bunk and leads to tyranny (Plato knew this well enough after the Athenians murdered/executed Socrates); which of course why it does not exist in any Western country.

    What is happening today in Iraq is largely due to hubris.

  34. Well…they are holding an election in Algeria today. Curiously, the guy with the blood on his hands is the popular favorite– the human-rights crowd says for real.

  35. Don’t want to throw Jean Bart off stride by saying he’s right, but… he is

    This article and most posters continue to rearrange deck chairs.
    Going after Osama is ok.
    Going after Saddam is ok.
    Nation-building; big mistake.
    Wonder if the Crusaders ever thought of themselves as nation-builders?

  36. Ruthless,

    Indeed, they did; which was the entire point of establishing kingdoms there. Rice has just arrived at the hearing. Going to listen now while I work.

  37. Jean,

    You are right about majority rule being bunk, however I might disagree about it not being the dominant form of government in the west. I am reminded of this everytime I pay my taxes.

  38. JB

    Whenever you can, there IS something you might be able to help with (I have been googling half the night without success):

    A certain General Katz– friend and confidante of Salan before the split in the Army. He remained loyal, and suppressed the OAS in Algiers in a prolonged block by block search of the European sections. I dimly recall from some books I read in the 70’s…maybe “Lost Soldiers” (out of print, I believe).

    A famous directive– all residents to close their windows…open windows automatically fired on.

  39. wellfellow,

    Well, majorities are so circumscribed and their abilities are so checked in most Western states that they indeed don’t rule; there are reasons for this, as the historical record demonstrates.

  40. Andrew,

    Mobile forces deployed on massive search-and-destroy missions were common after General Maurice Challe took over from Salan in 1958. As to the OAS, its efforts collapsed largely because the French military remained loyal to de Gaulle. Indeed, their attempted putsch largely turned French opinion against the pied noirs; that and the terror war they unleased for the six months after the putsch.

    I believe you are trying to get to some sort of atrocity committed by French troops there; those occurred by every party; and yet, as vicious as French military could be, it did not stop the insurgency. Indeed, it made it worse. France continued to not do what would have kept Algeria a part of France to today – grant non-Europeans French citizenship. Something which should have been done at least after WWI, given their sacrifices in that war at Verdun, etc.

  41. anonymous coward,

    I’m in full agreement with what you quadrupally posted.
    I’m sure you’re discouraged that your pearl is almost immediately covered with swine poop.

    Say, if you’d just been given a shiny, new automatic rifle, would you still be anonymous coward?

    Are you hinting at something? If I had two, you’d get one.

  42. I thought Algeria was a Department, like other overseas territories? Algerie Francaise and all that?

  43. Sorry about the double-double post. It kept timing out for me. I guess the post data was getting through, but it was just failing to reload the page for me. Lesson: never hit the button more than once, ever, for any reason.

  44. joe,

    It was; however, the French government never allowed full civil rights to non-Europeans there until too late; partly because of pressure from the pied noirs to continue the discriminatory policy that kept them at the top of the official hierarchy. Their attitude was similar to that of whites in South Africa during apartheid.

  45. JB

    Actually, I do not think of the event as an atrocity– more a successful suppression of a serious terrorist threat in a relatively short time by methods that would seem perhaps a tad “rough” today.

    Interesting to me was that his proposed “rat-hunt” was criticised as foolish by many, beforehand…nobody like Degueldre or Dovecar was going to be caught– but he came up with all sorts of militants, small arms and the all-important radios. Life became very difficult for the OAS after that, whereas before they appeared to dominate the terrain.

    Overall, probably the best example in history of a serious terror threat contained was de-Gaulle vs the OAS. The conspirators doubtless enjoyed majority support among the colons, a significant following in the metropole, and deeps roots in the Army and security agencies.

    Anyway, Katz just won’t come up on the radar. Odd since the guy made what many would consider an heroic decision. I recall a quote something like…

    “politically he agreed with Salan about everything…except loyalty”

  46. If Iraq had attacked us or somehow presented a direct threat to the US, we would have had a license to go in and turn the place into glass. However, we concocted the reasons to go in and in doing so, tied our own hands. The “liberators bringing freedom” rationale just doesn’t work by kicking everybody’s ass.

    We’re fucked now no matter what we do.

  47. Armed Shiite groups in the south offered, at the war’s beginning, to join the fight, guard lines, and keep order in liberated areas, freeing coalition troops to fight at the “tip of the spear.”

    They were told that armed Iraqis found in the area of military operations would be treated as hostile combatants. That’s when my suspicions that the liberation pretext was bogus were confirmed.

  48. JB,

    I don’t doubt that reason and historical record make a compelling case for limited majority rule, and while there are, indeed, some limits to majority rule currently in the west, it seems to me, at least in the US, that rule utilitarianism is the default political philosophy buttressing such laws that place the majorities’ penchant for social “wellfare” above my individual rights, thus I’m am ruled by the majority despite some occasional limits.

  49. Andrew,

    French policy there failed; that they were able to smack down the weak pied noirs is not a success. In fact, such tactics ultimately failed against the far more powerful force in Algeria – that from the various non-European terrorist groups. Its not surpirisng that you draw the wrong lessons from Algeria; lots of Americans do. At best such actions will allow for a horrific status quo; they will not a war against a determined insurgency.

  50. joe

    I just don’t follow you. I don’t think ANYBODY in Iraq, who isn’t in the police or the Army (when we get one) should be toting those AK-47’s around…or ever should have been. Yet you just can’t see a pic of Iraq where some idiot isn’t doing the “shake-it with an AK” the Arab male loves so dearly.

    I believe that within days of taking Baghdad we should have given all troops orders to simply shoot anyone armed with military gear on sight…NOT arrest ’em, NOT disarm ’em– SHOOT ’em.

    Still a good idea.

    (Difficult to field that point here, since libertarians believe folks in America should be able to purchase their hand-grenades at Target.)

  51. Jean Bart-
    Yes, I was being facetious in asking if Resistance workers were terrorists. I’m sure the Nazis thought they were, though, just as our soldiers in Iraq view the anti-American forces as terrorists.

  52. joe,

    If all the coalition troops cleared out of already-liberated areas, and left behind a supposedly friendly militia which actually turned out to be hostile, you’d have a much bigger mess on your hands. And I don’t know how the coalition army could reliably tell friends from foes in the short time this was an issue.

  53. Andrew,

    You’re a fool.

  54. “I don’t think ANYBODY in Iraq, who isn’t in the police or the Army (when we get one) should be toting those AK-47’s around…or ever should have been.”

    Yeah, well, I think they should all wear little donkey lapel pins, build a public transit network, and write the Koran only on recycled paper. That ain’t gonna happen either. You play the hand you’re dealt.

    crimethink, I think you’ve nailed exactly what the coalition was thinking. The part about telling frind from foe is especially – uh – telling.

    This is a conquest. This is only a conquest. Had this been an actual liberation, the explosions you just heard would have been preceded by the identification and provisioning of friendly leaders and forces on the ground, planning for linking up with them and delegating responsibilities, and the quick establishment of civil order under local jurisdiction. This has been a conquest by the neocon global hegemony system. We now return to your regularly scheduled quagmire.

  55. “Yeah, well, I think they should all wear little donkey lapel pins, build a public transit network, and write the Koran only on recycled paper. That ain’t gonna happen either. You play the hand you’re dealt.”

    Heheee!

    ‘Conquest’ is a bit unfair though. This is a liberation, and we are trying to figure out how to set the groundwork for ongoing liberty instead of islamo fascism. Perhaps this could be attacked as utopian, but I don’t think ill intentioned is fair.

  56. joe

    I cannot see how it could have served any useful purpose, during the democratization of Germany or Japan to allow political factions to arm themselves as a sorta “exercise in self-government”.

    I am quite sure that every post-war European government rather rapidly disarmed anti-German resistance groups (“Here’s a medal, Jaques– now gimme the rifle.”)…in an energetic way, if necessary.

    We helped suppress post-war partisan militias– notably in Greece and the Phillipines (no regrets).

    Let’s get REAL– nowhere on the face of this planet, are the guys running the streets with automatic weapons evolving into the Swiss Militia…not even the anarchos can believe crap like that!

    The CPA has turned a blind eye on factional militias for a year now…and sure enough it has turned to bite us on the ass.

  57. Two questions: is the Bush administration’s objective of establishing a durable liberal democracy a realistic one in an Arab country, especially this Arab country? In American representiave democracy is what we are used to, but it is a very demanding system when started from scratch, and Arab culture is a dubious foundation for it.

    Second question: The administration may not have many cowboys, but what does it have? It looks to me like most of the work being done in Iraq is being done by the uniformed military. Notwithstanding Paul Bremer’s frequent TV interviews our civilian presence is, let’s say, less prominent — which could mean the work of the civilians in CPA isn’t being reported on, or could mean that they are mostly there to be physically present while military commanders are left to make policy.

    I don’t think a situation where the military is given vastly greater responsibility and displays considerably greater competence than civilian authority is really desirable. I understand that during a major war it is inevitable, but have to ask whether CPA as a whole represents the best effort the civilian sector can make. It sure doesn’t look that way.

  58. Andrew,

    Actually, the maquis were recruited into the First French Army of de Tassigny as quickly as was possible as they pushed their way from Provence up the Rhone river valley and then liberated Alsac-Lorraine, and then Bavaria, along with the wine the Nazis stole from France. They were later used to occupy the French governed region of Germany, and many were sent to re-gain Indochina. So they were kept quite busy.

  59. “I am quite sure that every post-war European government rather rapidly disarmed anti-German resistance groups (“Here’s a medal, Jaques– now gimme the rifle.”)…in an energetic way, if necessary.

    We helped suppress post-war partisan militias”

    Post-war being the operative term. We were disarming and alienating potential allies while the war was still going on in Iraq – as in, taking away Jacques rifle at gunpoint while the Jugend still clung to the hedgerows.

  60. Andrew, I don’t consider resistance fighter to be an honorific, necessarily. I’d apply the word to Klansmen and the Chechens who seized the theater is Moscow, just as I’d apply it to French maquis. So what we’ve got is a semantic quibble.

    Anonymous coward, rather than the purely symbolic gesture of handing rifles to already armed people, it would have been wise to invite them to join in their “liberation,” including playing roles in military strategy, civil order, and the establishment of a political order. Not only would this have brought the war closer to being a genuine liberation, but would have provided the “carrots” necessary to get the different groups to sit together at a table – the beginning of a parliamentary democracy.

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