Iraq

McCain's Potemkin Baghdad

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Sen. John McCain's recent leisurely stroll through a safe Baghdad market, as told by Iraqi merchants at that market:

"They were just making fun of us and paid this visit just for their own interests," he said. "Do they think that when they come and speak few Arabic words in a very bad manner it will make us love them? This country and its society have been destroyed because of them and I hope that they realized that during this visit."

Thamir said "about 150 U.S. soldiers and 20 Humvees" accompanied the delegation.

[…]

The delegation was accompanied by the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, and followed his lead in taking off their helmets as they bought souvenirs and drank tea.

"I didn't care about him, I even turned my eyes away," Thamir said. "We are being killed by the dozens everyday because of them. What were they trying to tell us? They are just pretenders."

Karim Abdullah, a 37-year-old textile merchant, said the congressmen were kept under tight security and accompanied by dozens of U.S. troops.

"They were laughing and talking to people as if there was nothing going on in this country or at least they were pretending that they were tourists and were visiting the city's old market and buying souvenirs," he said. "To achieve this, they sealed off the area, put themselves in flak jackets and walked in the middle of tens of armed American soldiers."

More from Newsweek's blog :

Agence France Presse on Sunday quoted an Iraqi official who reported a 15 percent increase in violence across Iraq in March. According to their tally, 2,078 civilians, cops and soldiers were killed last month, 272 more fatalities than in February. In any case, it didn't take the insurgents long to send their reply. Less then 30 minutes after McCain wrapped up, a barrage of half a dozen mortars peppered the boundaries of the Green Zone, where the senators held their press conference.

NEXT: Story Time in Myanmar

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  1. Too bad we can’t bring back Saddam and his kids for them.

    My bet is that they think 9/11 was a setup too.

  2. This country and its society have been destroyed because of them and I hope that they realized that during this visit

    Very true, but I doubt McCain really gives a shit.

  3. Too bad we can’t bring back Saddam and his kids for them.

    The guy they interviewed would probably prefer it that way. Not everybody was treated poorly under Saddam (though the majority were), and those who had it alright probably yearn for the “good ole days.”

    Still, I imagine it was a pretty disgusting spectacle. And saying that people had it worse under a blood-thirsty megalomaniacal dictator is a pretty poor defense.

  4. Thought experiment: How much security would George W. Bush need if he were to take a spontaneous stroll through downtown DC?

  5. I liked the part where McCain said that there were no American tanks at the airport, and that he was going to hit Nancy Pelosi with his shoes.

  6. I think Pelosi and McCain are having a fling.

  7. Smappy- What’s really awful is that one could make a pretty compelling case that most Iraqis did have it better under a blood-thirsty megalomaniacal dictator.

  8. “Thought experiment: How much security would George W. Bush need if he were to take a spontaneous stroll through downtown DC?”

    Usually about a dozen Secret Service agents with sidearms – maybe half of them around him, and the other half maintaining a perimeter to the front, rear, and sides. No armored vehicles, no helicopter gunships, although there are always snipers on the roofs. And, needless to say, no kevlar vest.

    At least, that’s how it was done when Clinton was president.

  9. AndytheBrit- A fair amount, I imagine. Of course, it’s also fair to assume that no one would be lobbing mortars at the White House after the stroll. And there number of car bombings in DC seems to have dropped off recently. Also, I hear the police are putting a real dent in that whole factional death squad issue.

    Or it could be that the comparison between DC and Baghdad isn’t very useful at all.

    But I’ll suggest another thought experiment: which would you rather do: walk through DC or walk through Baghdad?

  10. Wheteher or not the average Iraqi had it better before we arrived, I’d like the catchphrase for our policy to be something different than “Better Than Saddam!”

    “Free Manson! He’s better than Dahmer!”

  11. This country and its society have been destroyed because of them

    Actually, I think it was Saddam that destroyed and/or perverted whatever civil society Iraq may have had. Granted, we destroyed the Saddam regime, but a great deal of what is going on in Iraq right now can be laid at the feet of latent tribalism and an intra-Muslim hatefest being egged on by outside parties.

    Yeah, many opportunities were missed to better manage these dynamics, but you have to pretty blinkered to say the US caused the current Shiite/Sunni violence being bankrolled by Iran.

  12. Number 6,

    I would rather walk through Baghdad than many parts of East LA, or even paris during car burning season.

    Okay, Baghdad over paris any time, just because of the smell.

  13. joe,

    Yeah. Well, the level of security in DC has jumped twice in recent times. The first jump was after Oklahoma City, the second after 9/11. My fellowship started in May 1995, so I got to see how much things had been ratcheted up. Pennsylvania Avenue was closed, the guards on the WH roof became much more heavily armed (don’t forget the plane that landed at the WH and the shooter), etc. My very first day of work (at the NEOB) was interrupted before I even got to the door by a bomb threat. Scary. Of course, 9/11 has made DC even more security conscious than Oklahoma City did.

    Still, it’s surprising how little security there is, given the number of crazies out there. I imagine that Bush is sometimes quite exposed, as was Clinton. The biggest security they have is the unpredictability of their movements.

  14. Not caused, RC. Allowed.

    Like if kick in your door while you’re not home and walk away – I didn’t steal your stereo, I created the conditions to allow it to be stolen.

    Don’t blame me, man, blame the latent criminality in the people who walked by your house and saw that it was wide open. I just wanted to liberate your cat.

  15. YOU TRAITORS ARE JUST EATING THE PROPAGANDA OF AMERICA-HATING LIBERAL MEDIA AND THE DEFEATOCRATS IRAQ IS MORE PEACEFUL EVERY DAY I SAW MCAIN ON TV AND HE WAS ACTUALLY THERE AND HE KNOWS BAD HE WAS IN WAR AND IF HE SAYS ITS NOT SO BAD THEN WHO DO YOU BELIEVE A GUY RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT OR SOME ARAB FRUIT MERCHANT??

    …OH WAIT.

    (revert to normal mode)

    Anyone wonder what McCain’s Armored Photo Op “Stroll” cost the American Taxpayer?

    Seriously. Was that $1m+ for his 3minute hike? 100 riflemen, choppers, a dozen humvees… I mean, seriously. Can any politician demand to do their Iraq Walk too now?

    Maybe they should bundle them all into one big trip?…(and then we can notify the insurgents in advance)… maybe the ones that survive will develop a more nuanced appreciation of the current security problem in Iraq

  16. RC,

    “…but a great deal of what is going on in Iraq right now can be laid at the feet of latent tribalism and an intra-Muslim hatefest being egged on by outside parties.”

    Get lost! How’s that supposed to fit on a bumper sticker?

  17. but you have to pretty blinkered to say the US caused the current Shiite/Sunni violence being bankrolled by Iran.

    ? Is that so?

    You mean, we didnt give sunnis a reason to fight when we disbanded the army, basically excluding them from any civil authority at all, leaving them at the mercy of the interior ministry (read: Shiia death squads), who we backed up despite obvious signs that Sadrists had deeply infiltrated the department?

    Are you saying that if we’d just come, captured saddam, and then left, the same stuff would have happened anyway?

    Seriously make the case based on whats happened so far, not “what could have happened”. How was the US invasion NOT the prime driver of the fracturing of the country?

  18. “Too bad we can’t bring back Saddam and his kids for them.

    My bet is that they think 9/11 was a setup too.”

    guy, if you get any fucking stupider we’re going to have to go to orange alert on the black hole in the side of reason you’re causing.

    hey, i don’t like g.w. one bit but after a few years of chaos and civil war we’d probably all be clamoring for president hillary. i know that gets in the way of feeling ok about invading iraq for bullshit reasons but sometimes life isn’t always being an internet tuff guy ™.

    […]

    well, my life, at least.

  19. I’m sure the disgruntled merchant’s sentiments are genuine. And his take on the dog and pony show is probably pretty accurate. But I missed the comments of the other merchant who, despite all the horrors, is happy Saddam is gone, and is optimistic about Iraq’s long-term prospects. Where was he? Did the AP reporter miss him?

  20. “They were laughing and talking to people as if there was nothing going on in this country or at least they were pretending that they were tourists and were visiting the city’s old market and buying souvenirs,” he said. “To achieve this, they sealed off the area, put themselves in flak jackets and walked in the middle of tens of armed American soldiers.”

    This does make it sound like they’re treating like one of those Abercrombie & Kent or MT Sobek adventure travel tours…

    Day 1-2: USA or Canada / Baghdad, Iraq

    Your adventure begins as you descend in a spiral pattern, avoiding small arms fire and ground to air missiles, directly over the Baghdad International Airport. Once on the ground, your friendly tour guide will help you secure your helmet and flak jacket (Armor scavenging excursion optional), then off you go via “Route Irish” to the Green Zone, where we’ll be staying at the once fabulous Republican Palace. There will be a welcome dinner.

    Day 3: Hanging Gardens / Abu Gharib

    Spend the morning wandering the ancient ruins of the city of Babylon. Your well armed and knowledgeable tour guide will point out all the amazing features from the impressive gate to where the “Hanging Gardens” are thought to have been. We’ll spend the afternoon at the infamous Abu Gharib prison, where you’ll observe military dogs in training and attend a demonstration of “water boarding”. Dinner will be comprised of authentic “MREs”

    Day 4: Iraqi Market / Suicide Bomber Souvenirs

    I do not marvel, by the way, that these people don’t seem to be taking the interests of the Iraqi people into consideration now that we’re trying to find a way out; I marvel that anyone ever thought we were taking the interests of the Iraqi people into consideration when we decided to bomb, invade and occupy their country.

  21. and P.S.

    Iran is bankrolling some power players in the south, but it’s naiive to see the entire shia power structure as being ‘Iran’. Not so. Remember that a) Persians hate arabs b) Arabs hate persians, c) Iran and Iraq fought a very bloody war for years, and are not exactly ‘over’ that.

    The sunni insurgency/foreign fighters receives FAR more outside aid than the overall shiia militias, who have been well organized internally since the early 90s. When you talk about the outside powers destabilizing the country, Iran is one, but Syria, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are equally interested parties… it’s wrong to think of Iran being a driver of Shia power grabs. The shia are consolidating their power because they CAN. There are a lot of different groups within the shia south, and they are often fighting as much among themselves as against sunni insurgents/neighbors. Iran is trying to ensure the more conservative religious elements develop power so that they will have influence over politics in the region, but as far as wholesale ‘managing’ the shia militia community, that’s simply not whats been going on. Iraqis are strongly nationalistic, more than they are religious, and the ethnic/historical differences with Iran still make them significantly independent from them.

  22. This thread is worthless without pictures.

  23. RC DEAN – but a great deal of what is going on in Iraq right now can be laid at the feet of latent tribalism and an intra-Muslim hatefest being egged on by outside parties.

    True – but not *mainly*

    The main cause of the fracture of Iraqi civil unity is simply Power. We tend to want to cast this as “religious and ethnic”, when in fact, it’s often incidentally correlated with religion and ethnicity. The fact is that the shiia – religious or no – were repressed violently for decades. Because of reasons that are more about (for analogy) “class”… not because of the Prophet Ali or anything like that. They are repressed the same way minorities in every Arab country are (more or less). Whats going on is less a consequence of the religious differences, but a realignment of Who Gets To Be In Charge. If people understand that, it’s easier to understand why things the US did (like disband the army and de-baathify all the Govt agencies) contributed so strongly to the Sunni insurgency. They felt there would be no power sharing. At all. So, what to lose? Plus, they had a ready army of ex soldiers that Bremer disbanded.

    To claim the US had ‘little’ or no direct effect on the evolution of the civil war is simply incorrect. Yes, these forces would have had to play themselves out one way or another eventually, but no one can deny that Garner/Bremer threw kerosene on the fire and helped speed/intensifty the path to civil war.

    Once the Al-Askariya shrine was bombed, the US ceased to be relevant in preventing the developent of a real civil war. We had a shot at it, but blew it. More soldiers wont undo that stuff, or help reconcile the various political groups. Anyone who argues for “stay”, has to present a clear mission that these troops are there to achieve. More often than not, the “Stay” people have no mission, but simply say, “if we leave, the worst will happen”…

    When you ask them what the worst is, it generally sounds a lot like how they currently are.

  24. Abu Gharib: It is a good thing the US troops did not write on their prisoners with Sharpie markers as they slept or they would be in SERIOUS trouble!

  25. are you the ambien made flesh? even your trolling is boring. no wonder you joined a counter-protest movement: the only people whose creativity levels are actually lower than the puppet-against-tyranny hug bunnies.

  26. Pro Libertate,

    Don’t forget during the Clinton years when the White House would get evacuated for workmen carrying pipe (mistaken for rifles) on the roof of another building, and other “scares”.

  27. Guy,

    To be fair, Oklahoma City, the guy with the machine gun, and the plane that crashed on the White House lawn may have made them a bit skittish. I know I was a little nervous during that time. Still, there is such a thing as too much.

  28. I notice the lefties here are a bit agitated on this thread.

    My take: Iraq was bound to be a big mess when Saddam and the al-Tikritis fell from power, regardless of when and how that happened.

    The only way the U.S. could have prevented this would have been to declare marshal law and shoot anything moving without out approval. And not only would that have been disapproved by the same folks baying about the chaos now, it would only have lasted as long as we stuck around. Iraq is not a viable nation-state. Period.

  29. Which lefties, Chris? Where? Do you mean Joe? He doesn’t strike me as agitated.

    Other than the silly left/right smarm, I think you have a point.

  30. I’m sure the disgruntled merchant’s sentiments are genuine. And his take on the dog and pony show is probably pretty accurate. But I missed the comments of the other merchant who, despite all the horrors, is happy Saddam is gone, and is optimistic about Iraq’s long-term prospects. Where was he? Did the AP reporter miss him?

    Ah, the quest for false balance. There must have been someone willing to talk about the other side of the story! There must have! Why didn’t they get equal time? Boohoo. Sometimes, the other side of the story is so marginal that it doesn’t deserve to be told. Exhibit A: the mythical fruit vendor in ed’s head.

  31. To be fair, Oklahoma City, the guy with the machine gun, and the plane that crashed on the White House lawn may have made them a bit skittish.

    Yea, and that explosion at the WTC too.

  32. Too bad we can’t bring back Saddam and his kids for them.

    What is with this black and white thinking? Hell, America was a slave owning society at the same time the Constitution was written, this alone should show how complex the world is (as well as the other million examples). Why is it war supporters must think failure of the “now” means worshiping the past?

    Here is a radical idea. Iraqis suffered under Saddam and America

  33. Other than the silly left/right smarm, I think you have a point.

    Oh, I probably overreacted. Iraq threads seem to bring out the worst in everyone around here. There is a lot more left/right tension on H&R than you’d think a libertarian blog would have. Ultimately, Iraq is a clusterfuck from any perspective.

  34. Ultimately, Iraq is a clusterfuck from any perspective.

    Not only that. According to the fucks at the NYT, it shows the failures of the free-market. Soon the GLBT, movement will be using it to score political points. Iraq is nothing but a political pawn. Does anyone believe 3,000 troops matter? Hell, in Vietnam we lost 58,000

  35. I wish i knew what you meant about “Left/Right”…or you meant any of my comments.

    My POV here is based on lots of military readings. Not politcal preconceptions. If Bremer was successful… wow, that would have been great. Unfortunately… as you put it… clusterfuck of large proportions.

    JG

  36. Does anyone believe 3,000 troops matter? Hell, in Vietnam we lost 58,000

    The number of troops is less significant than the failure to achieve the strategic goals of the mission, which has so far cost hundreds of billions and caused tens of thousands of casualties, and greatly harmed US interests all around the world.

    Belittling the failures of Iraq is not going to get you far in any argument. If Iraq were just a ‘pawn’, your implication is that we could afford to lose it… Is that the case? If we already have, then why are we still sticking it out? You dont lose your King over a pawn… and it seems we already have 🙂

  37. Soon the GLBT, movement will be using it to score political points.

    Is Guy Montag ghostwriting your comments?

  38. If Iraq were just a ‘pawn’, your implication is that we could afford to lose it… Is that the case?

    For one political party it seems to be. Their House leader (and spouse of a recent Defense Contracting Firm owner) is touring Syria right now. She apparently missed her trip to North Vietnam when she was younger.

    Yes, she has a group of RINOs with her.

  39. I’ve been thinking. I’ve advocated giving the old Ottoman Empire back to the Turks, but why not make a similar deal with the Iranians? They can have the Persian Empire back, provided that they convert en masse to Zoroastrianism.

  40. Oops, Pelosi is not married to the Defense Contractor owner, Feinstein is. My bad.

  41. Zoroastrianism

    Man, the HOTTEST chick I ever met from Iran was Zoroastrian.

  42. I wish i knew what you meant about “Left/Right”…or you meant any of my comments.

    I wasn’t pointing at you in particular. Apart from joe, who is a self-described “progressive,” and Dan T., who is extremely troll-like, lots of folks here (including me) seem to revert to left/right arguments and stereotypes when things get heated, where I’d like to think that libertarians could get over that.

    BTW, part of the problem in Iraq, as I see it, is that there never were any credible “strategic goals.” The working assumption at the beginning was that the Iraqis would welcome us with open arms. When that failed to materialize, there simply was no Plan B, except to hunker down and occasionally lash out at various and sundry insurrectionists.

    The most effective (but certainly not perfect) Plan B would have been to partition the country, along with the most humanely possible population transfer in the Baghdad and Kirkuk environs, to create more homogenous and stable successor countries. A perfect solution? No, but less likely to result in perpetual bloodshed and strife than any other outcome.

  43. “I’m sure the disgruntled merchant’s sentiments are genuine. And his take on the dog and pony show is probably pretty accurate. But I missed the comments of the other merchant who, despite all the horrors, is happy Saddam is gone, and is optimistic about Iraq’s long-term prospects. Where was he? Did the AP reporter miss him?”

    It seems that these people were being treated like exotic animals, like they were being viewed as part of some kind of safari.

    If I was one of them, even if I was glad that Saddam Hussein had been overthrown, I’m not sure I’d be able to get past the indignity. …and could tell a reporter how nice it was to be part of the scenery.

  44. Goldwater Conservative: I imagine the families and friends of those 3,000 think it matters. I’ll even venture a guess that the families and friends of the Iraqi civilians who have died since this whole things started think their loss matters.

    I’d be careful with that kind of talk, GC. It’s likely to end with you having your beak broken by a vet.

  45. They can have the Persian Empire back, provided that they convert en masse to Zoroastrianism.

    Sounds great, other than that the Sassanian Empire wasn’t exactly known for its pacifism. In fact, its endless wars against the Romans/Byzantines led to the military exhaustion that permitted a bunch of Arab bedouin nobodies to sweep in and take over the place.

  46. ChrisO,

    Fair enough. Make it the Babylonians, then, and leave out the Persians. Or maybe the Hellenistic kingdoms are due for a comeback?

  47. “Ultimately, Iraq is a clusterfuck from any perspective.”

    It is now. The funny thing is, throughout 2004, 2005, and half of 2006, Iraq was only a clusterfuck when viewed from the left. From the right, it was a shining success, which anybody who knew what was really going on there could see. It only appeared to be clusterfuck back then because the media wouldn’t report the good news.

    Or so I was often told.

    I’m curious – those of you who said that during 2004-2006, did you mean it? Did you actually think that was the truth back then, or was it just something you said to win an argument?

  48. Actually, I’m a self-described liberal.

  49. The most effective (but certainly not perfect) Plan B would have been to partition the country, along with the most humanely possible population transfer in the Baghdad and Kirkuk environs, to create more homogenous and stable successor countries. A perfect solution? No, but less likely to result in perpetual bloodshed and strife than any other outcome.

    You are pretty much right.

    But as a few pretty smart types have written, the “partition” of Iraq will likely evolve along the most stable lines ONLY if its not imposed from outside, but negotiated. And by negotiated, i mean blood. One way or the other, they are going to fight over Kirkuk and Baghdad. That is inevitable. The partition is truly de facto at the moment. We dont need to impose it. If we did, it would be fictitious, insofar as we impose any perceived imbalance of authority/oil wealth.

    Guy Montag | April 3, 2007, 2:56pm | #

    “If Iraq were just a ‘pawn’, your implication is that we could afford to lose it… Is that the case?”

    For one political party it seems to be.

    You are retarded. Which is it? You agree with the argument that Iraq is “pawn” or not? Is it or is it not a Pawn, or is it a significant long term strategic asset? Can we afford to leave or not? Who cares about politicians… put on your miltary thinking cap and pretend that we’re not here to prove points about how American we are…. tell me what you think the Smart Strategy is to achieve important strategic objectives.

    If it’s just “Not to Lose”, then go back to your sniping, because that show’s over already, colonel klink.

  50. “For one political party it seems to be.”

    Yeah, the Republicans’ preference for outright defeat over a half-a-loaf solution that would hurt them at the ballot box is downright irresponsible.

  51. the mythical fruit vendor in ed’s head

    Fruit? Who said anything about fruit? He was probably selling bootleg Sopranos DVDs. But that’s boring. Journalists don’t want boring. They want bombs. And if they can stick it to a Republican, all the better.

  52. “And if they can stick it to a Republican, all the better.”

    *yawn*

    woosh! watches credibility fly out the window with that one.

  53. Or maybe the Hellenistic kingdoms are due for a comeback?

    By Hera, I think you’ve got something!!! Bring back the Eleusinian Mysteries.

    Iraq was only a clusterfuck when viewed from the left. From the right, it was a shining success, which anybody who knew what was really going on there could see. It only appeared to be clusterfuck back then because the media wouldn’t report the good news.

    There are still people who say that. It’s not any great revelation that the party in power would trumpet perceived success, while the party out of power would cry failure. To be honest, the partisan posturing around the war ceased to be interesting long ago, and has obviously backfired on the GOP. For the record, I advocated partition from day one, even back when I supported the invasion (which was awhile back, indeed). I’ve become more paleo-con in my foreign policy outlook, partially as a result of the war.

    Actually, I’m a self-described liberal.

    Fair enough. I could swear you’ve described yourself as “progressive,” though both terms in American usage are really just code words for democratic socialism. Which is fine–a person believes what they believe.

  54. Ed- You’re a great example of the idea that people who claim media bias often mean, “They didn’t tell the story I wanted them to tell.”

    Perhaps the AP reporter didn’t find anyone to praise McCain because he had to hurry back to the Green Zone before the next bomb went off, or he got kidnapped. Of course, once he was back in his heavily guarded facility, he should have written a story about how safe and secure Baghdad is.

  55. GILMORE,

    If you would bother to read past the last word of mine you quoted, then maybe you could figure out what I meant. That is, if you are not retarded or a troll.

  56. “I’m curious – those of you who said that during 2004-2006, did you mean it? Did you actually think that was the truth back then, or was it just something you said to win an argument?”

    Remember that guy, (was it Andrew?) who, as the Syrian Army was pulling out of Lebanon, told us that Syria, Iran and other places too would all have liberal democracies within the next year?

  57. That is, if you are not retarded or a troll.

    Pots.

    Kettles.

  58. Remember that guy, (was it Andrew?) who, as the Syrian Army was pulling out of Lebanon, told us that Syria, Iran and other places too would all have liberal democracies within the next year?

    I’d be happy if the U.S. acted more like a liberal democracy.

  59. Number 6,

    Speak for yourself. Expecting everybody to agree with you is not normal.

  60. “I will venture some predictions, too. BEFORE the end of 2005: Non-governmental militias in the territory of the PA will be disarmed; Syrian troops will be out of Lebanon, and the Hizbollah Militia will be disarmed; the regime of Baby Assad in Syria will be replaced by a democracy;
    Egypt will hold genuine competitive elections (I personally think Mubarak will win genuine elections); the mullahs will be gone, and Iran will be a free republic; Jordan will have largely complete the transition to a constitutional monarchy; the Gulf states (including Saudi Arabia) will commence the transition to constitutional rule; Pakistan will reach a favorable agreement with India on Kashmir, and Musharif will become the father of his country in a way Jenna never was.”

    —-https://www.reason.com/blog/show/108619.html

    It was Andrew!

    So where the hell is Andrew? When’s the last time anyone saw Andrew?

    …and I’d pin it on just a few commenters here and there, but the thread I linked seems to have been an “instalanche” thread–looks like there were plenty barking up that tree. …That was quite a choir they had goin’ there.

    Those were the good old days, when the Bush Administration’s defenders were batshit crazy and knew they were right!

  61. “Thought experiment: How much security would George W. Bush need if he were to take a spontaneous stroll through downtown DC?”

    I think I saw video footage of Saddam walking amongst hundreds of people who were shooting AK47’s into the air. I don’t think he was hated all that much or he would have caught one for sure.

  62. Guy- No, of course it’s not normal to expect everyone to agree with you. I don’t recall suggesting that it is. The pots and kettles comment was aimed at you having the chutzpah to call someone a retard and a troll.

  63. Forget Andrew, has anyone seen Charles Paul Freund?

  64. Ken – you did great that day!

    kudos to Gunnels, too!

  65. I was wondering about Freund too.

    I always liked the bit about how democracy travels from country to country by way of Lebanese music videos! …which, if true, doesn’t really explain supporting a bombing, invasion and occupation.

    Yeah, where the hell is Freund?

    I don’t think they owe us anything, but it would be interesting to see how people’s views have changed and why.

  66. Wow, that thread is a trip, Ken.

    You big, deluded, lefist “Buchanonite,” you.

  67. Dude crawled into a bottle of Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy! and never came back out.

  68. “I think I saw video footage of Saddam walking amongst hundreds of people who were shooting AK47’s into the air. I don’t think he was hated all that much or he would have caught one for sure.”

    Baath Party members.

    What your suggesting would be akin to a person in San Francisco wondering why *insert name of Republican that isn’t well-liked there* doesn’t catch one while making a showing at a trap and skeet photo op.

  69. RC says, “but you have to pretty blinkered to say the US caused the current Shiite/Sunni violence being bankrolled by Iran.”

    That is convenient and lazy thinking. Who is pumping more money and violence into Iraq? the US or Iran? Does our propping up of a Shiite government (which would not stand for a week without us there) not count as contributing to Shiite/Sunni violence? We are unpaid mercenaries for the Shiites. We are fighting their war against the Sunnis for them. And yet you put primary blame on Iran for bankrolling violence. Simply amazing.

  70. If you wish to be technical, the reason for our current troubles in the Middle East lay mostly on ourselves (in the case of Iran and our overthrow of their democratically elected government back in the 50s) and the last Imperial power (the UK) that decided to divvy up the land regardless of tribal or religious considerations into countries run by loyal strongmen following World War I.

  71. Guy- No, of course it’s not normal to expect everyone to agree with you. I don’t recall suggesting that it is. The pots and kettles comment was aimed at you having the chutzpah to call someone a retard and a troll.

    Bingo.

  72. And what the hell is Guy doing here anyway? It’s not like “Free” Republic and Little Green Footballs have gone anywhere.

  73. Guy Montag | April 3, 2007, 3:49pm | #

    GILMORE,

    If you would bother to read past the last word of mine you quoted, then maybe you could figure out what I meant. That is, if you are not retarded or a troll

    So what? There’s a crew of house republicans there too.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/01/AR2007040100314.html

    It’s not one party going to sleep with the enemy. It’s the state department deciding to use different tactics. Bush says HE wont deal with them… and it’s not admin policy… but actually it IS admin policy at the moment. Thats why they are there, They wouldnt have gone without state dept direction and approval.

    So anyway… Did you ever answer my question about the Iraq thing? No?

  74. It only appeared to be clusterfuck back then because the media wouldn’t report the good news.

    The evolution of the official line so far:

    1) We won (2003)
    2) We’re winning (2004-2006)
    3) We’re not losing (late 2006- )

    In Stage 1 the media was fully on board. In Stage 2, the media reports began to diverge from the official story. In Stage 3, the current stage, officialdom has been forced to grudgingly acknowledge that things are perhaps not going quite as well as anticipated (although there are still a few dead-enders stuck in Stage 2, e.g. Cheney, McCain, Liberman).

    A few daring (snort) pundits have moved beyond Stage 3, but it’s still mostly the same vacuous Tom Friedman-esque “the next six months will be critical” nonsense.

  75. p.s. Guy, i know you recognized “RINO”‘s being there, but casting diplomatic efforts to reach out to neighboring countries as ‘seditious’ or whatever… is silly. Especially in the context of the current situation. Do you have a military plan that would produce some tangible results? otherwise, diplomacy has to happen, and the admin would rather the ‘others’ dd it as opposed to be seen as directly choosing to “negotiate”.

    point being, no one would be there if the president wasnt OK’ing it.

    thanks

  76. Absolutely, GILMORE. We always hear war supporters complaining that the democratic process – ie, the existence of an opposition party that opposes the president’s policies – undermines our efforts by demonstrating that the country isn’t united behind the effort.

    To the extent that is true, it is equally true that having an opposition party allows us to play all sorts of Good Cop Bad Cop games. Pelsoi gets to be the good cop, telling Assad “…but if you don’t cooperate, I can’t be responsible for what George Bush does.” In Iraq, Bush gets to be the good cop, talling the Iraqi government “…but if you don’t get your act together, Congress is going to end our support for you.”

  77. joe:

    you got it

    reagan partly bluffed the russians during the 80s with the inherent ‘scariness’ of democracies… where on one side you have dictators – who can make final decisions – vs. politicians, who are often forced into uncompromising stances by the vagaries of public opinion. The type of diplomacy you cite here, where a split government is better able to negotiate with hostile countries, has often been fruitful. But no matter what, diplomacy is simply war by other means, and sometimes terrible consequences can result from a lack of true resolution. The 20th century middle east itself is the consequence of the british playing this game following WWI… and pretty every line they drew, has draws blood today. (cue: uuuuuuh groan at pun)

    good piece by Hitchens on this topic, the ‘divide and disengage’ strategy =

    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200303/hitchens

  78. e.g.

    The Perils of Partition
    by Christopher Hitchens

    [snip]

    Auden’s “Partition”

    Unbiased at least he was
    when he arrived on his mission,
    Having never set eyes on this
    land he was called to partition
    Between two peoples fanatically
    at odds,
    With their different diets and
    incompatible gods.
    “Time,” they had briefed him in
    London, “is short. It’s too late
    For mutual reconciliation or
    rational debate:
    The only solution now lies in
    separation …”

    [snip]

    No sooner had the wider world discovered the Pashtun question, after September 11, 2001, than it became both natural and urgent to inquire why the Pashtun people appeared to live half in Afghanistan and half in Pakistan. Sir Henry Mortimer Durand had decreed so in 1893 with an imperious gesture, and his arbitrary demarcation is still known as the Durand Line. Sir Mark Sykes (with his French counterpart, Georges Picot) in 1916 concocted an apportionment of the Middle East that would separate Lebanon from Syria and Palestine from Jordan. Sir Percy Cox in 1922 fatefully determined that a portion of what had hitherto been notionally Iraqi territory would henceforth be known as Kuwait. The English half spy and half archaeologist Gertrude Bell in her letters described walking through the desert sands after World War I, tracing the new boundary of Iraq and Saudi Arabia with her walking stick. The congested, hypertense crossing point of the River Jordan, between Jordan “proper” and the Israeli-held West Bank, is to this day known as the Allenby Bridge, after T. E. Lawrence’s commander. And it fell to Sir Cyril Radcliffe to fix the frontiers of India and Pakistan-or, rather, to carve a Pakistani state out of what had formerly been known as India. Auden again:

    “The Viceroy thinks, as you will
    see from his letter,
    That the less you are seen in his
    company the better,
    So we’ve arranged to provide you
    with other accommodation.
    We can give you four judges, two
    Moslem and two Hindu,
    To consult with, but the final
    decision must rest with you.”

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