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post #31 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-05-2007, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by drewprof
I am glad that you left the Nazi party!
I should have been very precise; I was talking about Arab Sunnis that are represented by the Iraqi insurgency as we speak. These were ex-Baathists and many were part of the Fidayeen group (the ones that looked like white ninjas whenever Saddam strutted his shotgun prowess while they marched, remember those?)
The Kurds for the most part are really looking forward for Iraq to split for obvious reasons that I hope you can visualize.
Were the majority of Sunni Arabs, Baathists? Or was it that the majority of Baathists were Sunni Muslims? I really don't know. In any case, I'd guess that most Baathists were party members for the same reason that most Nazis or Commies were party members in Germany or the Soviet Union-- to gain some measure of power in their lives. In my opinion, ultimately it should be up to the Iraqi gov to decide whether or not this or that person is sufficiently de-Baathisized to serve in gov. But since the current Iraqi government is severely dysfunctional then it seems reasonable to me that the local governing bodies (tribal or state) should work with coalition forces to make that determination. If the Iraqi central gov ever gets it' shit together then maybe they'll be able to make the call dispassionately. I understand why there is such reluctance among the present government -- how many innocent people did the Baathists slaughter?

The Fidayeen were there before the war and were great practical jokesters. Too bad they've lost their popularity with the government. Oh well, that's what happens when you change heads. They still enjoy the fun of dynamiting the odd Shiite temple.

The Kurds have been promoting a Kurdistan nation for hundreds of years. They are probably closer now than in a long, long time. Of the 3 major groups they've been the most successful at establishing a democracy and a growing market economy. I hope they get autonomy and eventual independence.

B

The biggest problems we are facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all and thats what I intend to reverse.

~ Senator Barack H. Obama
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post #32 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-05-2007, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Botnst
Were the majority of Sunni Arabs, Baathists? Or was it that the majority of Baathists were Sunni Muslims? I really don't know. In any case, I'd guess that most Baathists were party members for the same reason that most Nazis or Commies were party members in Germany or the Soviet Union-- to gain some measure of power in their lives. In my opinion, ultimately it should be up to the Iraqi gov to decide whether or not this or that person is sufficiently de-Baathisized to serve in gov. But since the current Iraqi government is severely dysfunctional then it seems reasonable to me that the local governing bodies (tribal or state) should work with coalition forces to make that determination. If the Iraqi central gov ever gets it' shit together then maybe they'll be able to make the call dispassionately. I understand why there is such reluctance among the present government -- how many innocent people did the Baathists slaughter?

The Fidayeen were there before the war and were great practical jokesters. Too bad they've lost their popularity with the government. Oh well, that's what happens when you change heads. They still enjoy the fun of dynamiting the odd Shiite temple.

The Kurds have been promoting a Kurdistan nation for hundreds of years. They are probably closer now than in a long, long time. Of the 3 major groups they've been the most successful at establishing a democracy and a growing market economy. I hope they get autonomy and eventual independence.

B
They probably will if one is to believe the Israeli presence in Kurdistan.
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post #33 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-05-2007, 07:34 PM
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Blither on, Botnst.

War Correspondent Responds to the Suddenly Famous O'Hanlon/Pollack

Posted August 1, 2007 | 03:59 PM (EST)
Chris Durang
The Huffington Post

I only saw some of Vice President's appearance on Larry King last night.

Did you see the Bill Moyers program on the lead-up to the Iraq war in which he traced how the administration leaked to the New York Times what turned out to be a debatable report about Saddam's WMD, and then the next day the Vice President went on Meet the Press and quoted the Times, as if they were a second, confirming source? (Pretty clever, good to remember if you want to start a war.) And then, of course, Cheney stressed that the Times was a liberal paper, more or less saying, see, even liberals see that we're right.

Well there he was last night on Larry King, singing a similar tune:

Cheney: ...don't take it from me [about progress in Iraq] -- look at the piece that appeared yesterday in the New York Times, not exactly a friendly publication -- but a piece by Mr. O'Hanlon and Mr. Pollack on the situation in Iraq.

They're just back from visiting over there. They both have been strong critics of the war. Both worked in the prior administration, but now saying that they think there's a possibility, indeed, that we could be successful. So, we will know a lot more in September, when General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker come back and report sort of to the Congress and the president on the situation in Iraq and whether or not we're making progress.

King: You don't know what to expect, though, do you? Or do you?

Cheney: Well, I think it's going to show that we will have made significant progress. The reports I'm hearing from people whose views I respect indicate that indeed the Petraeus plan is in fact producing results.

Yes, he's hearing from "people whose views I respect." That must be quite a close-knit club. Like asking gay people over 50 if they like Judy Garland. (I like her. Sorry to involve her in the Iraq war.)

And oh dear, sounds familiar but he's seeing "significant progress." In 2007, after we've been there since 2003. And they've been right and truthful so many times before.

By the way, I'm not saying that Cheney is behind the O'Hanlon/Pollack op ed piece in the same way they were behind leaking pro-war material to the Times. Just that he's making the same claim - see, some liberals see our point now.

But their article has come at a critical time. The administration is in full Salesmanship Mode, in preparation for the September report from General Petraeus. In most speeches Bush has been saying "al Qaeda" after every third sentence, and proclaiming the lie/distortion that "Al Qaeda in Iraq" is the same group that attacked us on 9/11.

And Petraeus has been sold as a straight-shooter, who will tell the American people in September if the surge is working.

Though now they're saying September is way too early to know - apparently when hell freezes over would be a better time.

Plus we've learned General Petraeus has been working on a plan to keep American troops in Iraq through 2009. Why don't we just keep soldiers in Iraq forever? Is forever long enough for you, President Bush?

But I'm not in Iraq. And I read the O'Hanlon/Pollack piece with the snappy title "A War We Might Just Win" with a sense of incredulity, but I also did just what Vice President Cheney wanted people to do - I went, wow this is in the Times. And is it possible things are better in Iraq?

Anyway, I watched the tail end of the Cheney interview last night, and it was followed by Anderson Cooper who showed the clip of Cheney I quoted above, and then went on to interview Australian war correspondent Michael Ware.


Now O'Hanlon and Pollack visited Iraq for 8 days before giving their report. Ware is famous for having been in Iraq continuously since the war began.

I found it intriguing and informative to listen to Ware's assessment of things, right after hearing Cheney admiringly quote O'Hanlon and Pollack.

This is the link to the entire Ware interview (you have to scroll down half-way), but here are some quotes from it to give you the gist:

Cooper: [We have] Michael Ware, who has been there in Baghdad and all across Iraq almost nonstop since the fighting began. Right now, he's embedded with American forces in Diyala Province, coming to us through a nightscope camera. Because of the danger there, they're not allowed to turn on any camera lights. Michael, you just heard the vice president saying he expects General Petraeus to report significant progress when he gives his assessment come September. What do you think of the vice president's evaluation?


Ware: Well, Anderson, there is progress. And that's indisputable. Sectarian violence is down in certain pockets. There are areas of great instability in this country. They're at last finding some stability.

The point, though, is, at what price? What we're seeing is -- is, to a degree, some sleight of hand. What America needs to come clean about is that it's achieving these successes by cutting deals primarily with its enemies. We have all heard the administration praise the work of the tribal sheiks in turning against al Qaeda. Well, this is just a euphemism for the Sunni insurgency. That's who has turned against al Qaeda.

And why? Because they offered America terms in 2003 to do this. And it's taken America four years of war to come round to the Sunnis' terms. And, principally, that means cutting the Iraqi government out of the loop. By achieving these successes, America is building Sunni militias. Yes, they're targeting al Qaeda, but these are also anti- government forces opposed to the very government that America created.

So, to say the obvious, we're building up Sunni forces just as we once built up Saddam (who was Sunni) so he could oppose Iran. But once we leave, how will our having built up Sunni militias IN THE LONG RUN help Iraq to be at peace, and help the Sunnis and Shiites stop wanting to kill each other? Doesn't sound promising to me...

A bit later in the Ware interview:

COOPER: Well, the vice president also referred to this New York Times op-ed written by -- by Ken Pollack and Michael O'Hanlon, who returned from Iraq. They were applauding the military progress and the Iraqi security forces' ability to hold areas and keep insurgents out. How much have the Iraqi troops themselves actually improved?


WARE: Well, there has been improvement in the Iraqi troops. They are standing up, to a greater degree, in certain pockets.

But, honestly, Anderson, it is a myth to believe that the Iraqi forces have been rid of their sectarian or militia ties. No matter how much any commander wants to tell you, the minute the American forces turn their backs, these guys revert to form, be that Sunni or Shia lines, Kurdish ethnic lines, or be it militia lines.

So, there is still no sense of unity. And, without America to act as the big baby-sitter, this thing is not going to last. So all these successes that O'Hanlon and Pollack point to exist. They're real. But the report is very one-dimensional. It doesn't look at what's being done to achieve this and what long-term sustainability there is. ... The question is, is America prepared to pay this price? [emphasis mine]

I also admit it: I can't believe a single thing Bush or Cheney says, can you?

May I quote Peggy Noonan on Bush's trustability?:

...what it is about [Bush], real or perceived, that makes people who used to smile at the mention of his name now grit their teeth...

...I received an email before the news conference from as rock-ribbed a Republican as you can find, a Georgia woman (middle-aged, entrepreneurial) who'd previously supported him. She said she'd had it. "I don't believe a word that comes out of his mouth." I was startled by her vehemence only because she is, as I said, rock-ribbed. Her email reminded me of another, one a friend received some months ago: "I took the W off my car today," it said on the subject line.

Her article goes on to be an interesting analysis of how Bush's apparent cheerfulness is off-putting to people, given the mess he's in; then she ends with:

Americans can't fire the president right now, so they're waiting it out. They can tell a pollster how they feel, and they do, and they can tell friends, and they do that too. They also watch the news conference, and grit their teeth a bit.

Ms. Noonan is a long-time conservative (and speechwriter for the first President Bush, if you can recall him), and I'm not a conservative. Still I find a bit of sanity/peace reading conservatives who can see that, really, something bad and not connected to traditional conservatism has happened during these disturbing Bush years.

And I don't believe a word that comes out of his mouth either.

And I'm not feeling too confident that waiting for General Petraeus is really going to bring us too much straight talking. Do you think?

Well, I just wanted to add Michael Ware's perspective to the O'Hanlon/Pollack op-ed discussion.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #34 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-05-2007, 07:59 PM
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Iraq's Turn for the Worse Brings U.S. and Baathists Closer

By MICHAEL WARE/BAGHDAD
Hospital staff take the body of an Iraqi killed during sectarian violence in Baghdad to the mortuary on Tuesday
Breaking News, Analysis, Opinions, Multimedia and Blogs - TIME


I've spent the last three years immersed in this conflict, but after only two months away I'm amazed at how quickly this war has mutated into something even worse than it was before. We're now seeing a sectarian element nothing like we've previously seen. Even ordinary families, people who are in no way combatants are suddenly talking about fellow Iraqis in terms of "us" and "them."
Related Articles
Even Churchill Couldn‘t Figure Out Iraq



On Civil War Danger

A senior Baathist commander of the insurgency told me that while they're maintaining their own focus on fighting Coalition forces and trying to stay out of the sectarian dynamic, they fear that Iraq is on course toward civil war, which they view as being fueled by Islamist extremists on both sides — the imported al-Qaeda fighters and their Iraqi acolytes on the Sunni side, and the militias of Moqtada Sadr and the Iran-backed Badr organization among the Shi'ites. And curiously enough, the assessment of the Baathists seems to be shared by U.S. military intelligence. A senior U.S. officer told me that they see Iraq as still one step away from civil war, because the sectarian violence is not yet self-sustaining, and you're not seeing wholesale "ethnic cleansing" of neighborhoods by militias: It's still hit-and-run stuff, and it still requires prodding and provocation by the likes of Zarqawi and the most sectarian elements on the Shiite street.

U.S. intelligence believes there are enough incentives for the major parties to restrain their followers so that a civil war can be avoided. The nationalist and Baathist insurgents don't want or need it; the Shi'ite religious parties have won so much power at the ballot box that it's not in their interests to jeopardize that; it's not in the Kurds' interests to see Iraq go up in flames and possibly give Turkey a pretext to come in and seize Kirkuk on the grounds that they're protecting the city's Turkmen. It's only really the Zarqawi element that wants a civil war. And if the Shi'ite leadership were to lose control of the highly emotive Shi'ite street, the al-Qaeda element may just get the war it wants.

On the Meeting of Minds Between the Baathists and the U.S.

The U.S. is hoping the Iraqi security forces will do the heavy lifting in terms of quelling the sectarian violence, and in many instances they've done a very good job. There is some concern about the sectarian flavor of some substantial parts of the security apparatus, such as the commando forces maintained by the Interior Ministry, one of the most effective units among the Iraqi security forces but also closely tied with the Iran-trained Badr militia. Although the ranks of the new army are predominantly Shi'ite, there's still a strong mix, particularly in the officer corps, where there are a lot of Sunnis. And the U.S. has been actively reaching out to Sunni officers from the former army, many of them Baathists, looking to bring them back in from the cold.

The ongoing dialogue between the U.S. and the Sunni insurgency is based on a shared wariness about the influence of Iran and its supporters in Iraq. U.S. officials are now saying bluntly that it's time to bring back the Baath Party, excluding only those that are guilty of specific crimes. That reflects a growing acceptance among U.S. officials that the military and bureaucratic know-how in the Sunni community is badly needed, even to help run the security forces that the U.S. is standing up.

Senior Baathist insurgent commanders are responding positively to the U.S. outreach on the political and military level. One senior commander I spoke to praised the U.S. for the release of some key Baathist officers who had been imprisoned, and later, when I asked a senior U.S. intelligence officer about the releases, he said the men had been freed as part of a calculated effort to demonstrate good faith in dealing with the insurgents. Of course, both sides share the objective of avoiding a civil war.

One senior Baathist talking about the Americans said to me, recently, "In the 1980s we were allies, how did we end up on opposite sides?" The Baathists are secular nationalists, they never allied with al-Qaeda or hardline Islamists when they were in power, and they've always been the sworn enemy of the soon-to-be-nuclear-armed regime in Iran. They share two of America's main enemies, al-Qaeda and Iran. The Baathists and al-Qaeda elements who have worked together in the insurgency have always been uncomfortable bedfellows. And they've left little doubt in each other's minds that once the Americans leave, they'll have to fight each other.


On the Trial of Saddam Hussein

Saddam's trial is nothing but a distraction. To the Iraqis, there's no question of Saddam's guilt, or of the final outcome of the judicial process — Saddam will die. The question for them is, why is it taking so long and why is he being given a platform? For whose benefit is this trial being run? For Western domestic consumption; it's for the international community. It's not the healing or reconciliation process for Iraqis some might like to make it out to be. Saddam has been the dominant figure in the courtroom and the political winner.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #35 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-06-2007, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Botnst
You obviously are and therefore, assume everybody else is. As usual, you're wrong.
Ok, I've posted numerous articles to support my position. Where's yours? If you have nothing, this might work for your new avatar:


Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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