Iraq

Iraq Embraces the Swiss System Countryside

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The Independent's Patrick Cockburn reports from Iraq:

The so-called "surge", the dispatch of 20,000 extra American troops to Iraq with the prime mission of getting control of Baghdad, is visibly failing.

There are army and police checkpoints everywhere but Iraqis are terrified because they do not know if the men in uniform they see there are, in reality, death squad members….

The failure of the "surge" comes because it is not accompanied by any political reconciliation. On the contrary the government is factionalised. The two vice-presidents, Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, and Adel Abdel Mehdi, a Shia, may make conciliatory statements, but one Iraqi observer noted: "Tariq only employs Sunni and Adel only Shia."

And on a strange note:

A bizarre flavour has been given to Saadoun Street because the government has encouraged artists to paint the giant concrete blast barriers with uplifting, if unlikely, scenes of mountain torrents, meadows in spring and lakeside scenes. Many of the pictures, all in garish greens, blues and yellows, look more like Switzerland than Iraq.

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  1. The hills are alive with the sound of gunfire.

  2. When I read the headline, I assumed that Iraq was adopting a Swiss-style confederation where each province would become a semi-autonomous canton leaving the central government to handle defense and foreign relations. Now that I think about it, that’s probably the only way that Iraq will stay together while remaining a democracy.

  3. Iraq is a democracy in the same sense that Terri Schiavo was a voter

  4. Call me unpatriotic, love-it-or-leave-it, etc. But Switzerland is the one country I wish ours was more like.

    It’s my favorite place on earth.

  5. “””The so-called “surge”, the dispatch of 20,000 extra American troops to Iraq with the prime mission of getting control of Baghdad, is visibly failing.”””

    It’s not failing, it just not working!

    I don’t think all of the 20,000 troops are there yet. So I’m still reserving judgment, my guess is that the best case senario is that it would secure Baghdad. Then, we’ll be standing in baghdad talking about how well it work while the rest of the country is in the crapper. It would become another mission accomplished fiasco. I bet you’ll see the Republican candidates flip-floping about what victory in Iraq means.

  6. That’s pretty good Lumpy

  7. “Call me unpatriotic, love-it-or-leave-it, etc. But Switzerland is the one country I wish ours was more like.

    I at least wish we could be a little more like Switzerland in foreign policy, at least.

  8. There’s a reason the artists chose murals of Switzerland. In Indian films(which are popular in all the Gulf countries) a Swiss vacation is common convention. It’s a sign of affluence and tranquility. I have to think that has influenced the mural painters

  9. “Call me unpatriotic, love-it-or-leave-it, etc. But Switzerland is the one country I wish ours was more like.

    It’s my favorite place on earth.”

    Well put–Switzerland is a very nice place to visit, indeed.

  10. I though the headline meant that all the Iraqis were being given AKs. An armed society is… a polite one?

  11. Another fine mess you’ve gotten us into Stanley.

  12. “”I though the headline meant that all the Iraqis were being given AKs. An armed society is… a polite one?””

    That reminds me, I once read a blog from a embedded reporter that was talking about how each house was allowed one AK-47. I’m pretty sure it was in Baghdad.

  13. There’s a reason the artists chose murals of Switzerland. In Indian films(which are popular in all the Gulf countries) a Swiss vacation is common convention. It’s a sign of affluence and tranquility. I have to think that has influenced the mural painters

    Amusingly, those scenes used to be filmed at resorts in Kashmir, until the deteriorating security situation in the 80’s drove the movie producers to seek more stable backdrops.

  14. This is so depressing.

  15. The so-called “surge” …

    I stopped reading right there.

    yours/
    peter.

  16. There are army and police checkpoints everywhere but Iraqis are terrified because they do not know if the men in uniform they see there are, in reality, death squad members….

    Sounds like Atlanta.

  17. the government has encouraged artists

    Please. I hurl every time I see that phrase.

  18. The surge cannot hope to work. It is a step in exactly the wrong direction. It is an effort to provide enough security and stability for the political process to move forward, but the political process cannot move forward as long as the occupation continues.

    The occupation leads Sunnis to throw their lot in with foreign jihadists.

    The occupation leads Sunnis to perceive the Shiites as in league with the infidel invaders.

    Iraqis have never had any trouble maintaining security in their country before this occupation. As some of you may recall, their enthusiasm for this task was allegedly one of the reasons we invaded. But now the Iraqi government can’t seem to manage to put its cities in order? Even with 150,000 American troops backed with the world’s greatest air power?

    The problem here is not one of military capacity, but of political dynamics. We need to follow the Northern Ireland model, and dangle a political carrot that can attract leaders from both socio-religious camps into a politcal/peace process, and leave the dead-enders on each side as a marginalized fringe.

    That means renouncing our bases, renouncing our oil claims, announcing our upcoming withdrawal, and working on political tracks involving the Iraqi factions and the relevant regional and global powers.

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