Iraq

Snapshots of Iraqi Democracy

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I thought this was a bad sign:

[On Sunday] two Sunni Arab blocs boycotted a Parliament session, demanding the reinstatement of the speaker.

The speaker, Mahmoud Mashhadani, a Sunni Arab, was put on leave at the request of a broad coalition of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, after incidents in which he lost his temper at other members and struck them or allowed his guards to rough them up.

Then I saw this:

Iraqi forces raided the home of Culture Minister Asad al-Hashimi today [Tuesday] after an arrest warrant accused him of masterminding the 2005 assassination attempt of a secular Sunni politician who was once a top aide to Ahmed Chalabi. 

And these guys are both Sunnis. If America's influence has not persuaded members of the Iraqi Parliament to stop trying to kill each other, what hope is there for peace among the rest of the population?

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  1. If America’s influence has not persuaded members of the Iraqi Parliament to stop trying to kill each other, what hope is there for peace among the rest of the population?

    OOOH, OOOH, The surge will fix everything. Just a few more billions of dollars, thousands of lives and the Iraqis will be singing Kumbaya around the campfire, praising Democracy, minority rights, freedom of religion and civil debate about the issues. Now Rummy, put some more opium in the pipe and pass it over. I like this dream.

  2. GO AWAY! paintin’ schools!

  3. Come on, cut them some slack. We had Cynthia McKinney in our national legislature, remember?

  4. Sounds like good old fashion democracy. We’ve just replaced the guns and thugs with money and lawyers.

    Victory! Lets go home.

  5. NO!!! Just a couple more years and it’ll all be fixed, you’ll see.

  6. So why don’t we just leave and nuke them with B-2s? Nuke the whole middle east. I mean, it can never be fixed, and there’s nothing we can ever do to make it better, right? So if they will never be ok, and are just going to kill each other anyway, why don’t we just nuke them before the disease hurts anyone else? Right?

  7. I remain convinced that partitioning is the best short-term shot at reducing the bloodshed as well as the US role in the shortest possible time while maintaining a shred of responsibility to try and help fix the mess we’ve created. I see no hope left for Iraqi nationalism.

    But each passing day of inter- and intra-sectarian violence keeps pushing me towards the Vietnam gambit: “Sorry for the mess, but we’re outta here”.

  8. So why don’t we just leave and nuke them with B-2s? Nuke the whole middle east. I mean, it can never be fixed, and there’s nothing we can ever do to make it better, right?

    I assume you’re being facetious in an attempt at reducio ad absurdum rather than a garden-variety booster of genocide.

    Let me point out that “there’s nothing we can ever do to make it better” and “preemptively invading iraq was a massively stupid idea” are not equivalent statements.

  9. Chalabi is a Shi’a, not Sunni.

  10. Hey, we had a Civil War too. Except ours was more violent.

  11. Why not report on this, remember how a month ago the media was reporting on the army giving weapons to Sunni Arabs in the Al-Anbar province, in exchange for them fighting Al-Quaida? Well five of the Sunni chiefs who agreed to this and allied with the US were assassinated today in a suicide bombing in Baghdad while waiting to meet with the Shiite government to negotiate a reconciliation. Here’s the link

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/06/25/iraq/main2973132.shtml?source=mostpop_story

    Credit to fark. Way to go US Army and Iraqi Security forces, I’m sure this complete failure to keep your friends safe will encourage many to join our cause in the future.

  12. Rick H

    Yes, I was being sarcastic. But the response on these boards to anything done in Iraq, and anything that ever resembles a positive story in Iraq, is to sneer and jeer, and talk about how it’s meaningless and nothing. So I’m just letting that side win. I’m accepting their argument. Nothing good can ever be done about Iraq. Fine. You win.
    So let’s just end their suffering sooner, and send all those martyrs to heaven before they can do anything to us.

  13. These Iragquis are pikers compared to us!

  14. While I’m not about to make any optimistic predictions for Iraq, I wouldn’t be shocked if Sunni politicians behave worse than Joe Schmoe Sunni on the street.

  15. Why do Sunnis hate America?
    er, wait …
    never mind.

  16. what hope is there for peace among the rest of the population?

    Zero. How cay I be so sure? BECAUSE IT’S A MIDEAST COUNTRY DUMBASS!!!!

  17. If America’s influence has not persuaded members of the Iraqi Parliament to stop trying to kill each other, what hope is there for peace among the rest of the population?

    Oh yeah, we passive, the-government-knows-best Americans are great role models for the Iraqis. Try the French or the Germans, who would no more have allowed their governments to launch a pre-emptive war than they would allow them to cut social welfare. We Americans let our government get away with murder. Literally.

  18. See, Warren gets it. It’s hopeless! Nothing can ever be done! Iraqis are born just to blow up and be blown up!
    Nuke it now.

  19. Dave,

    But the response on these boards to anything done in Iraq, and anything that ever resembles a positive story in Iraq, is to sneer and jeer, and talk about how it’s meaningless and nothing.

    It’s tough to speculate on such an outlandish theoretical.

    So I’m just letting that side win. You aren’t letting anything happen; your ideas have been demonstrated to be a failure.

    I’m accepting their argument. Nothing good can ever be done about Iraq.

    You don’t even understand our argument, because you decided years ago that you’re better off ignorant. But that’s ok – it no longer matters that you don’t understand what the hell we’ve been saying for five years.

  20. joe | February 13, 2007, 11:41am | #

    Let’s not forget, the Shia didn’t start doing squat to the Sunnis in Iraq until Al Qaeda had been carrying out its anti-Shia terrorist provocation campaign for months.

    Al Qaeda, which didn’t exist in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, and which came into that country for the express purpose of fighting us.

    I knew the “idealistic” war supporters were going to morph back into “those people have been killing each other for centuries.”

  21. The surge was in part a shot across the bow of Iran.
    Iran surely saw the build-up as preparation for invasion.
    Add to that the face to face meeting, which pretends good faith.

    As far as peace in Iraq, the beatings and individual killings
    probably pass for peace in that country,
    but not the suicide bombers and Mosque destruction.

  22. Joe-

    Name one thing the US has tried to do to make Iraq better that you haven’t met with a “Yeah, right, whatever, we’ll see!” attitude.

  23. “I knew the “idealistic” war supporters were going to morph back into “those people have been killing each other for centuries.”

    So you’re wrong if you think that way, and wrong if you don’t. Ah. Well, fits the pattern at least.

  24. I wonder what would happen if the US and its allies made a statement tomorrow saying something like:

    “In exchange for most insurgent groups and militias agreeing to hold a ceasefire, to accept the legitimacy of the Maliki government, to refrain from ethnic cleansing, etc; we agree to set a 15-month timetable for witdrawal from non-kurdish Iraq.”

    I think a few groups would still want to fight while coalition troops are there, and some would wait it out and keep a low profile while plotting their takeover of Iraq. But most probably have someone in mind who they REALLY don’t want to be in power and would be willing to join a coalition government to help keep that person/group in check.

    If enough groups agree to something like that, the US and Iraqi governments could spend alot of that time beefing up central Baghdad’s defenses and figuring out how the government should resist an attempt to overthrow it, if one occurs after the coalition’s departutre.

    I doubt Bush will do anything like that. And I don’t know if such a plan would succeed in allowing Iraq to be relatively free and peaceful in the long run. But what are the odds the current strategy will have a better result than the kind of thing I outlined?

  25. Step 1: Invade Iraq
    Step 2: ???
    Step 3: Profit!

  26. Dave

    I think the US administration did go into Iraq with good intentions. And is trying to do the best it can.

    The problem is that the situation has not panned out as the administration expected and, rather than admit that the situation is getting worse, the administration is in denial, focusing on their own good intentions rather than the very real outcomes.

    What Jacob is citing above, though anecdotal, is a strong piece of evidence that things have not gone according to plan and that there is little hope that ‘democracy’ will survive as anything other than window-dressing once the Coalition forces leave. tlxtftrf’s [How the fuck do you pronounce that?] link at 7:37 is further evidence that the situation is out of control.

    Continuing to ‘stay the course’ is equivalent to raising with a busted flush with all four suits showing on the board.

  27. Arensen-

    I’ll accept that argument when the “anti-war” (not that that’s an appropriate term) people start coming up with other actual ideas as to how to bring peace between the factions, create a stable country, preserve the best case scenario which is Kurdistan, and prevent Iran from getting nukes and holding the world hostage with nuclear blackmail. This would not include just waiting to see what Bush says and then saying WRONG, OUT OF IRAQ NOW!

  28. Dave

    If I knew that, I’d be the greatest political genius in history.

    You are demanding that the anti-war people, like me, provide a miracle. I would be perfectly willing to listen to Mr Bush if he was to present a plan that had a realistic chance of working.

    I don’t think there will be peace between the factions until they decide for themselves that the bloodshed must end or – more likely – one side imposes “peace” at gunpoint.

    Stability could be achieved at the price of imposing a new Saddam-like regime, but dictators have a way of turning on those who created them.

    Feasibly, the US could withdraw it’s forces to Kurdistan, recognize Kurdish independence (which would really piss off the Turks and the Russians) and leave the rest to wallow.

    Short of a nuclear war, I cannot see anything that is going to dissuade the Iranians from acquiring nukes. Our only hope in that department is to make the Iranian government understand that actual use of nuclear weapons would be a fatal error and hope, in the long run, that the Iranian people get fed up with the mullahs and throw them out.

    Meanwhile, the occupation in Iraq is failing to protect the Iraqui people and alienating many muslims.

    I do not see that the Coalition will be able to leave behind a stable regime in Bhagdad in any scenario. The only possibility of saving face at this time is to say “we’re out of here on X date”. Then, at least, the Coalition could claim to have left on it’s own timetable.

    It is faintly possible that the spur of a definite deadline would cause the various factions to find a modus vivendi, if only to save their own skins, but I doubt this will happen.

    I greatly fear that the outcome in Iraq – no matter what course of action the administration takes – will be the rise of a militant Islamic government, convinced that it has triumphed over “the great Satan”.

    If that is the case, then it is better to face it now and start dealing with the consequences than to waste more lives in a futile attempt to prevent it.

  29. Violence in the halls of legislature in defense of one’s honor is a positive development. I’d bet my walking stick on it.

  30. Politics are sure complicated. However, I’m confident the U.S. government will be willing to consider a military withdrawal from Iraq, just as soon as the world’s most enormous embassy is completed.

  31. “I’ll accept that argument when the “anti-war” (not that that’s an appropriate term) people start coming up with other actual ideas as to how to bring peace between the factions, create a stable country, preserve the best case scenario which is Kurdistan, and prevent Iran from getting nukes and holding the world hostage with nuclear blackmail.”

    I will support pulling the firemen out of a hopeless inferno only when those who never wanted them in there in the first place come up with a plan to put out the flames systematically, prevent further spread, provide for restructuring of the building, and devise a plan for support for the dependents and survivors of the homeowners, neighbors and firemen, and stop gang violence in that neighborhood.

  32. Ghengis, close. Unfortunately, this was:

    Step 1: Invade Iraq
    Step 2: Profit!
    Step 3: ???

  33. tlxtftrf is pronounced “natures”.

  34. Not “Throat-wobbler-mangrove”?

    (dun paintin)

  35. I thought it was Raymond Luxury-Yacht. Oh, I’m sorry. Raymond Luxury-Yatcht.

  36. It’s only spelt “Raymond Luxury-Yatcht”

    And lemme show what I can do to the Noam doll with my honker!

  37. Dave,

    Name one thing the US has tried to do to make Iraq better that you haven’t met with a “Yeah, right, whatever, we’ll see!” attitude.

    Imposing the no fly/no drive zone over Kurdistan for the decade after the first Gulf War – you know, the strategy that resulted in the Kurds developing their own democratically-oriented government.

    It’s good that you’re realizing that neoconservatism is a God That Failed, but that doesn’t mean the only alternative is a Buckley-esque “those people have killing each other for centuries” disdain. You could actually take a gander at foreign policy liberalism, the political ideology that has been putting democracy and human rights at the forefront of its thought for a century now, and has some successes under its belt.

  38. BG’s got the right idea – the withdrawal, and the announcement of that withdrawal, need to be seized on as tools to change the political reality in Iraq.

    It’s also going to take the renuciation of any oil concessions (so there goes a Republican-led end to the war) and a diplomatic offensive to get Iraq’s neighbors on board.

  39. I guess the Iraqis just weren’t ready for democracy…to be installed with bombs.

    I guess the answer is more bombs. It’s the only way they’ll learn.

  40. If America’s influence has not persuaded members of the Iraqi Parliament to stop trying to kill each other

    Meh. It’s just not as cordial as a Burr-Hamilton duel.

  41. Matthew: “I will support pulling the firemen out of a hopeless inferno only when those who never wanted them in there in the first place come up with a plan to put out the flames systematically, prevent further spread, provide for restructuring of the building, and devise a plan for support for the dependents and survivors of the homeowners, neighbors and firemen, and stop gang violence in that neighborhood.”

    That’s quite a list of accomplishments for a fire brigade to accomplish!

    Your metaphor melted pretty early on. Melted. Get it?

  42. Ok, so joe and me, thats 2 votes for using some kind of timetable as a bargining chip.

    I doubt Bush will change his mind about a timetable, regardless of domestic opposition to the war. However, I’ve been wondering: lets say both major parties nominate someone who promises to pull US troops out within a year of taking office. Once its clear who the nominees are, will that have the effect of a de facto timetable? And if so, would it be equally likely as an official timetable to have the beneficial effects we’d hope for?

    Of course GOP might nominate someone who intends to keep troops there indefinitely, but if that happens I expect the election to be practically a foregone conclusion in favor of the democrats.

  43. Wars, like fires, will eventually burn themselves out. Only then will new growth be generated. It is an uncompromising law of the natural world. Time is not of an essence.

  44. “Imposing the no fly/no drive zone over Kurdistan for the decade after the first Gulf War”

    I should have been more clear, I was asking if you could name one thing to make Iraq better which you hadn’t sneered at done during your time as a poster here at Reason (or more to the point, done during the current war). Your example predates the existence of the Web.

    “but that doesn’t mean the only alternative is a Buckley-esque “those people have killing each other for centuries” disdain.”

    Really? Because that’s what I’ve been hearing from the left forever. Don’t you dare say that about Darfur, though. It matters when THAT particular Muslim country kills it’s citizens. We need to do something about THAT. Not like Iraq.

  45. No, Dave, I can’t think of a single thing done since “to make Iraq better” since I began reading Reason in 2001 that hasn’t been sneer-worthy.

    Has the though ever occured to you that there could be another explaination for why this is so than an incapacity for judging the value of those efforts?

    Because that’s what I’ve been hearing from the left forever.

    I don’t doubt that you’ve been hearing that. No one on the left has actually been saying that, but the disconnect between what critics of the Iraq War say about it, and what its supporters hear them saying, has always been quite striking.

    Oh, well, off to my Ba’athist meeting. Ta ta!

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