Sunnis Denounce "Jewish" Constitution (Lots of Bad News Edition)

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So far, it doesn't look like the proposed Iraqi charter is going to gain much in the way of support from Sunnis. Reports the AP:

The absence of Sunni endorsement, after more than two months of intensive negotiations, raised fears of more violence and set the stage for a bitter political fight ahead of the referendum. A political battle threatened to sharpen communal divisions at a time when relations among the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds appear to be worsening.

To encourage Sunnis to vote in the October referendum, election authorities Monday postponed the deadline for voters to register by one week in the western province of Anbar, a rebellious Sunni stronghold where turnout in the January election was minimal….

"We sacrifice our souls and blood for you, Saddam," chanted the demonstrators. They carried pictures of Shia clerics Muqtada al-Sadr and Jawad al-Khalisi who have joined the Sunnis in opposing the constitutional draft.

Sheik Yahya Ibrahim al-Batawi, an organizer of the protest, read a statement denouncing the "Jewish constitution," saying its goal was to divide Iraq along sectarian and ethnic lines.

Whole thing here.

And more bad news: Journalist death toll exceeds Vietnam and Iraq violence will rise, Bush says.

Remind me again: How do you spell cluster fuck?

Last year, Nir Rosen reported on Iraqi anti-semitism for Reason. His disturbing story here.

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  1. Journalist death toll exceeds Vietnam

    Why do I have the feeling that the administration will find this not as nearly as bad as you think?

  2. Solitudinarian-

    Why do I have the feeling that some people on this forum will not find this nearly as bad as you think?

  3. I’m really not holding my breath for an Iraqi civil war. Besides, if one does happen, I don’t see why it would make a difference to the Bush administration.

  4. Nick,

    Shouldn’t that read “How do you define cluster fuck?”

    Why not just have three separate states where Iraq was rather than force three cultures together? Traditionally, Iraq is about as much of a nation as Czechoslovakia was.

  5. What’s with all the “(Something Something Edition)” junk? A little of it from Wonkette for running items is cute. Using it for non-running items repeatedly is tiresome.

  6. How do you spell cluster fuck?

    L-I-B-E-R-T-A-R-I-A-N P-L-A-T-F-O-R-M

  7. I would point out that there is a consistent pattern in Iraq were the elite political leadership does not share the same views as the people they claim to represent. Most of the Sunni leadership is not elected and have their leadership positions because they belong to a certain family within a certain Sunni clan. Sunni from different clans may well take the opportunity of a fair election to escape the domination of the old Sunni power structure.

    The elites might believe they can benefit from a continued low grade civil war but I see very little evidence that the average Sunni believes this. The rest of Iraq is experiencing incredible economic growth and increasing security while the Sunni areas are economically depressed and terrorized by foreign jihadist. Ordinary Sunni will probably decide to risk the change brought by democracy than to suffer endless warfare.

    We shouldn’t assume that the visible and vocal elites of the old order actually represent the honest aspirations of the majority.

  8. Plenty of smug chatter in the hawk-o-sphere that “the Sunnis” are wrong to do this. They’re wrong, wrong, wrong, and we’re right right right.

    Which won’t put the infantrymen, civilians, and police who get blown up back together, but seems to make war supporters feel better about themselves.

  9. Why not just have three separate states where Iraq was….

    One reason is that the Turkish government (and probably the Iranians too) will not tolerate an independent Kurdish state.

  10. Here’s a thought:

    I’m hearing from certain quarters that most of Iraq is actually quite stable and peaceful. If so, then doesn’t partition make sense? Why tie the fate of the peaceful regions to violence in a distant city?

    This decision must ultimately come from the Iraqis, not us. But if the violence is indeed concentrated in a handful of places, while the rest is becoming a stable, peaceful, and democratic exemplar, then it will make sense if the Iraqis decide on partition.

  11. Oh ye of little faith. Remember the 2004 meme advanced by Chomsky and others that “elections will never happen?”

    Personally, I’ve been saying for awhile the best thing that could happen is that the referendum be defeated and new elections be held for a new constitutional legislature. The country has undergone amazing economic, security and political progress in the last year and new elections would reflect those new realities as well as giving the constitution more legitimacy.

    But the constitution will probably pass, as it’s a low bar. It doesn’t take much to get 34% of the vote in 1 of 3 Sunni provinces. And frankly, most Sunnis are as sick of the insurgency as we are.

    Interestingly and encouragingly, Shiite Al-Sistani has 1) declared that Shiites should abandom federalism and “stand by our Sunni brothers” and 2) forbade any group from using his name for electioneering.

  12. Shannon raises a good point too, that the Shiites and Kurds also made: the Sunnis reps were not elected to the committee. Sunnis are not not a monolithic political bloc, and it’s hard to say whether their legislators are representative of Sunni opinion.

  13. Whatever else you can say about the Libertarian platform, it hasn’t killed any journalists (yet).

  14. The last time the Sunnis followed the advice of their self-appointed leaders, they got screwed. The question at this point is, have they learned anything from that lesson?

    I’m not prognosticating here, but let’s assume for a moment that the constitution is actually approved. Will all you naysayers, especially potty-mouthed Nick, come back and admit that you were wrong?

    I recall all the stuff before the original voting – predictions of disaster, low turnout, etc. etc. Didn’t happen.

    There’s no reason to assume the worst now either. But war opponents will sieze on anything, apparently. It’s almost as if you want us to fail.

  15. Remember the old New Iraqi Flag?

    Wouln’t it be nice if we could respond to the “Jewish Constitution” charge by saying, “That’s ridiculous, stop being so paranoid, this project has never attempted to foist anything even vaguely Jewish on Iraq?”

  16. TallDave,

    I’m not optimistic, buy here’s hoping you’re right.

    *clink*

  17. “Wouln’t it be nice if we could respond to the ‘Jewish Constitution’ charge by saying, ‘That’s ridiculous, stop being so paranoid, this project has never attempted to foist anything even vaguely Jewish on Iraq?'”

    It would also be easier if there hadn’t been all that preening over Noah Feldman’s role in assisting the drafters early on. (I understand he had no involvement in the current draft, but I would imagine many Iraqis aren’t going to make that distinction.)

  18. Here’s another “cluster fuck” for Nick:

    ?The troops returning home are worried. ?We?ve lost the peace,? men tell you. ?We can?t make it stick.? … Friend and foe alike, look you accusingly in the face and tell you how bitterly they are disappointed in you as an American. … Never has American prestige in Europe been lower…. Instead of coming in with a bold plan of relief and reconstruction we came in full of evasions and apologies…. A great many Europeans feel that the cure has been worse than the disease. The taste of victory had gone sour in the mouth of every thoughtful American I met.?
    — Life Magazine, January 7, 1946

  19. Except for the fact that this war is still going on (and on and on), while WW2 has been over for six months, that analogy is perfectly apt.

  20. … and another iraq=WWII (just as noble, hmmm?)

    so the cold war as a result was okay…

    good to know.

  21. The rest of Iraq is experiencing incredible economic growth and increasing security while the Sunni areas are economically depressed and terrorized by foreign jihadist.

    Is this why Basra still has no water? Again, I ask for some source that supports the idea that the areas outside the Sunni Triangle are fine and dandy. And please don’t make excuses about biased media. If things are as good as you say, it should be no problem for the government (who has shown a willingness in the past to generate “news stories” for propaganda purposes) to machine some up.

    I recall all the stuff before the original voting – predictions of disaster, low turnout, etc. etc. Didn’t happen.

    Nor did all the hubris about corners being turned or any of that other nonsense. The elections changed little, just like anyone with sense predicted. The constitution is still just going to continue to generate the same sort of low-grade antipathy in the Sunnis that it does now when it’s approved. Nothing will change until the alliance that the Shi’ites and Kurds have forged collapses.

  22. “The rest of Iraq is experiencing incredible economic growth”

    Does this mean we might get a tax refund on some of the $200 billion Americans have poured into Iraq?

  23. The security and incredible economic growth in Iraq is heartwarming. But this isn’t the only unmitigated American success. Faith based thinking, persecuted by liberals in the U.S. is flourishing as never before in Basra, where humanists and secularists are eliminated lovingly but firmly. Read this link: http://www.sunherald.com/mld/thesunherald/news/world/12490058.htm. Typically, the U.S. media is concentrating on the bad news, instead of the good news that, praise God, Basra is coming ever closer to rule by the representatives of the deity.

  24. The rest of Iraq is experiencing incredible economic growth and increasing security while the Sunni areas are economically depressed and terrorized by foreign jihadist.

    So many (bullshit) claims, so little supporting facts.

  25. Except for the fact that this war is still going on (and on and on), while WW2 has been over for six months, that analogy is perfectly apt.

    Well, on the plus side, we didn’t carpet-bomb, fire-bomb, or nuke Iraq, killing millions of civilians and making it clear continued resistance was not in their best interest. Which is probably one reason we still have a low-level localized insurgency a couple years later. I think it’s a fair trade-off.

  26. So many (bullshit) claims, so little supporting facts.

    http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/rankorder/2003rank.html

    You know what the highest-priced commodity in Iraq is today, when compared to pre-war? Concrete.

  27. All arguments about whether or not Iraq is doing really well aside, the snippets of the constitution we’ve seen so far are pretty awful. Those fellas who wrote our constitution sort of hit the nail on the head – it’s been downhill ever since as far as founding documents are concerned.

    Also, reading about conditions in Iraq and watching footage of Katrina while listeing to Godspeed You Black Emperor! is not doing any miracles for my mental health today. Maybe I need to see a trauma counsellor.

  28. Is this why Basra still has no water?
    You’ll have to explain how anyone is alive there if they have “no water.” Obviously they’re getting water somehow.

    Have the infrastructure, the political system, and the economic conditions all been instantly upgraded from Saddamist standards to Western standards? No. Does it get better every day? Yes.

  29. It takes a lot of energy to make concrete.

  30. “I’m hearing from certain quarters that most of Iraq is actually quite stable and peaceful. If so, then doesn’t partition make sense?”

    We touched on this briefly in another thread, but…

    I agree.

    …and I’ve been advocating a negotiated partition for a long time. …and the good news is that the Kurds and the Shiites have negotiated a partition, that’s what the Constitution is–it’s the terms of partition. That the Bush Administration continues to sell the Constitution as the means of unification is beside the point.

    …and it’s a good thing that the Kurds and Shiites negotiated the terms of secession rather than fighting it out. That’s encouraging. It doesn’t mean there won’t be a civil war though. It doesn’t mean that Sunni groups won’t continue to try to provoke a big reaction from the Shiites, and it doesn’t mean there won’t be a civil war between those two groups (or that the feared civil war hasn’t already started).

    It just means that there will be, at least, two nation states in Iraq, one Kurdish and one Shiite, and that, unfortunately for Sunnis, they will have to either win an insurgent war or, sooner or later, rely on the kindness of their former enemies.

    It is a wonder to me that this outcome was ever in doubt. …and any of you who cite this constitution as a justification for the Iraq War–shame on you!

  31. Any bets on how many Olympic teams they’ll field in 2008?

  32. thoreau,

    Well, at least Udai won’t be torturing the losers.

    saw-whet,

    Gas is 5 cents/gallon.

  33. Shem,

    The areas outside the Sunni triangle are not “fine-and-dandy” by 1st world standards but by 3rd world standards they are. Outside the Sunni triangle there is little political violence. The Iraqi economy is growing at an estimated 30%-50% a year.

    Basra has no running water because the entire water and sewage infrastructure was completely unmaintained for 12 years. Many of the sewage lines are completely silted up. Valves and junctions are rusted solid. The system has to be virtually rebuilt from scratch. Combine that with a novice political system with no management experience and you do have slow going. The same problems dog electricity and oil production.

    On the economic and infrastructure side of things Iraq is operating much better than it did before the invasion. Many parts of Iraq, especially in the rural east are getting clean water, schools and medical facilities for the first time ever. The Great Marshes are being brought back to life.

    The objectively-pro-facsist have been making an unending series of predictions of various “catastrophes” at every stage of the war in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet none of them have materialized. If I recall correctly, Gillespie himself predicted that the elections in January would be a widely boycotted, bloody disaster. I suppose if one makes enough predictions then eventually one will turn out to be correct but so far they have not.

    Its easy to construct fantasy scenarios were everything is so much better but if you compare Iraq to other 3rd world countries under similar conditions you will see it is coming along rather nicely.

  34. “The Iraqi economy is growing at an estimated 30%-50% a year.”

    Do you have a reference for that number?

    Are we talking GDP? Is the inflation portion of that GDP figure dwarfing the production side?

    …Are we comparing embargo years to oranges? Is that 30-50% figure a function of currency? …Is that growth measured against some other currency?

    I’d really like to see a reference for that statistic.

    “Its easy to construct fantasy scenarios were everything is so much better but if you compare Iraq to other 3rd world countries under similar conditions you will see it is coming along rather nicely.”

    Can you be a little more specific? Are you comparing it to Chad? …Congo? …Some other sub-Saharan basket case? …Cambodia maybe? …Sudan?

  35. I love that the phrase “objectively pro-blank” is still showing up as a euphemism for those that don’t buy into the Wholly Roamin’ Empire foreign policy model.

  36. &ltwhisper>
    Everybody be very, very quiet. A person who shall not be named has been sighted in another thread. We now have two Shannon Love posts in this thread. If we keep our heads down to avoid spooking them, we might get to see a nice little clash.
    </whisper>

  37. I’m objectively pro-puppies. I would posit that Shannon is both objectively pro-shaving puppies and objectively pro-sneezing on babies.

    I kid, I kid. But seriously, who came up with that awkward, hackneyed phrase? Orwell would be laughing out his poor little lungs.

  38. But seriously, who came up with that awkward, hackneyed phrase [(objectively pro-fascist)]?

    Umm, George “Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist” Orwell?

  39. Although I understand he later came to regret it.

    Still, the overlap between what many war opponents want us to do and what will benefit the Islamo-nutters is rather annoying, and can be hard to process in a charitable way.

  40. wink wink, RC dean. wink wink.

  41. To be clear, yes I know Orwell came up with it. But RC Dean ruined my attempt at cleverness.

  42. Wouln’t it be nice if we could respond to the “Jewish Constitution” charge by saying, “That’s ridiculous, stop being so paranoid, this project has never attempted to foist anything even vaguely Jewish on Iraq?”

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could respond to all racist statements without feeling any need to rationalize or equivocate? You would hope any thoughtful person would see using “Jewish” as a slur or with derogatory connotation as one of those racist statements. Generally, when someone makes such a blatantly racist statement it is not necessary to inquire further into the issue that purportedly aggrieves them. It is enough to call them what they are and ignore anything else the bigot says. But somehow joe finds a way to imply that we are not on solid ground in offering such a condemnation and that they are not being so unreasonable in their bigotry. Unbelievable.

  43. The objectively-pro-facsist have been making an unending series of predictions of various “catastrophes” at every stage of the war in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

    The objectively-pro-clusterfuck have made an unending series of predictions that the Iraq war has “turned a corner.” Unfortunately, those poor prognosticators have actually been using their predictions to make policy.

  44. Isn’t who will interpret this new constitution more important than what it says?

  45. Basra has no running water because the entire water and sewage infrastructure was completely unmaintained for 12 years. Many of the sewage lines are completely silted up. Valves and junctions are rusted solid. The system has to be virtually rebuilt from scratch.

    Agreed. But doesn’t this fact kinda shoot to hell the whole “Things are going great, only getting better, in fact” mentality that some people have? I mean, sure, things are improving; funny how that tends to happen when crippling economic sanctions are lifted after 12 years. Just exactly how much of that growth statistic with the suspiciously unexplained methodology cited on the CIA site is due to us, and how much of it is due to ordinary Iraqis saying “Fuck every last one of you” and making the effort themselves? And, even supposing that we have something to do with it, how exactly can we separate the benefit that our troops provide from the effects of suddenly dropping billions of dollars into an economy? How long will that growth statistic last without Unlce Sam underwriting every expenditure?

    On the economic and infrastructure side of things Iraq is operating much better than it did before the invasion. Many parts of Iraq, especially in the rural east are getting clean water, schools and medical facilities for the first time ever. The Great Marshes are being brought back to life.

    A source would be fantastic. Being that this thread is the first time I’ve seen anything of the sort from any supporter of the war and since lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place I don’t expect it. But still, it would be nice.

    On a tangential note, isn’t it funny how an Imperial Adventure can turn the most staunch free marketeer into a cheerleader of governmental intervention and subsequent institution of a planned economy? Do their heads just have those fabled paradox-absorbing crumple-zones I’ve been hearing so much about, or is it just more of the same hypocrisy that, for all their faults, I never used to have to worry about from them?

  46. Here’s Iraq data from the objectively pro-something or other Brookings Institution.

    http://www.brookings.edu/fp/saban/iraq/index.pdf

    Don’t know whose points it proves or disproves.

    The International Conpsiracy had nothing to do with the Constitution. I would have heard if we had been involved. Our spies tell us that the Neo-Conservative Wilsonian Liberal Intnernationalist Society for a New World Order were the perpetrators with some assistance from the Halliburton, Bechtel, Illuminati Triad. Just wanted you Gentiles to know.

    (Yes, I know the post is crap but the data is fairly interesting.)

  47. The figure for the growth of the Iraqi economy is also suspect because Iraq only has one significant export and that particular commodity has skyrocketed in price over the last two years. (Hint: It’s not dates.) That raises the possibility (indeed, the likelihood) that even assuming the 30%-50% statistic is correct on its face, that growth is taking place entirely in one narrow sector of the economy and is only sustainable as long as oil prices go up.

  48. I’m glad that saying how very, very bad Iraqi anti-semites are makes you feel better, Brian Courts.

    I’m glad that calling those of us who notice that there are Iraqi anti-semitism, and think it’s a good idea to walk a little gingerly around the subject, very, very bad makes you feel better, too.

    But your smugness isn’t going to bring bad our dead soldiers, it isn’t going to stop the killing, and it isn’t going to make the political process in Iraq go any smmoother. But that’s ok, as those are obviously secondary concerns to asserting your superiority.

  49. The objectively-pro-clusterfuck have made an unending series of predictions that the Iraq war has “turned a corner.”

    Perhaps the true shape of the conflict is an icosahedron. In which case they still have lots of corners left, I supppose.

  50. TallDave:

    Gas is 5 cents/gallon.

    Gas prices are heavily subsidised in Iraq since the days of Saddam. But. now Iraqis have to wait in long lines to get gas. From the Brookings article that Apostate Jew linked two:

    Typical Length of Gasoline Line (miles)
    July 2003 0.1
    January 2004 0.5
    July 2004 1.0
    January 2005 1.0

    TallDave:
    http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/rankorder/2003rank.html

    Did you even read the top 10 in the list? Chad, Liberia, Eq. Guinea, Macau, Angola? Wow, all vibrant economies. 52% real GDP growth? what does that mean?

    http://wjz.com/seenon/local_story_224095326.html

    the IMF said it was cutting its forecast for gross domestic product growth this year from 17 percent to 4 percent.

  51. Did you even read the top 10 in the list? Chad, Liberia, Eq. Guinea, Macau, Angola? Wow, all vibrant economies. 52% real GDP growth? what does that mean?

    It means that if your baseline reference is almost zero, it’s real easy to record phenomenal growth rates with relatively low real GDP increases. The point about the rise in oil prices is also well-taken – much of the nominal GDP growth could be related to the fact that oil prices have jumped over 80% year-over-year.

    Yes, I’ve heard the “14 of 18 Iraqi provinces have low rates of violence” stat, too – when 6 of the provinces are dominated by Kurds and 8 others by Shia, I’d be surprised if it was otherwise. The peshmerga and the Badr Brigades play very rough, and I’ve no doubt that they’re responsible for some of the carcass-caches that have been turning up in recent months. The fact remains, though that if a united Iraq is your goal, you can’t have 4 Sunni Arab provinces disenfranchised and cut off from the principal wealth-generating assets of the nation – either they get included, or you might as well give up the whole unification notion now and stop wasting time and money on it.

  52. s,

    Yes, Iraq has long gas lines. The point being what? Do you know why Iraq has long gas lines? Read farther in the report and you find it’s because there are five times as many cars in Iraq!

    Why, you would almost think they had a vibrant economy or something.

    And yes, all those are rapidly growing economies.

  53. Also, the article says GDP growth will be 20%. By adjusting for subsidies, the IMF is cutting its baseline; Iraq always had gas subsidies.

    In 2004, the Iraqi GDP was $25.5 billion. This year it is projected to reach $29.3 billion.

    Iraq’s big problem is that oil is 95% of the economy. They understand this is a problem, though, and are taking steps to expand into other areas:

    Oil output, though feeble compared with early expectations, accounts for about 95 per cent of national income ? and the same proportion of government revenues ? despite Iraq’s widely recognised potential for economic diversification.

    Looking back to the 1980s and earlier, when Iraq had one of the region’s best-developed industrial economies, Mr Najafi says he hopes to shift the balance to raise the contribution of non-oil industries to about a quarter of the country’s national product.

    Through a deft combination of foreign aid and investment, non-oil industries can be expanded ?to reach this average in 2010?, he says.

    Using seed money from foreign donors, the ministry wants to create a $1bn (?810m, ?560m) industrial development fund, while pumping a further $380m into warehouses, cement and fertiliser plants, and geological surveys.

    Some are skeptical it can be accomplished in the desired timeframe, but everyone agrees it will happen.

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