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16 August 2005


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2 points where the delegates are "all Iraqis"

- We tried to pressure them to make an agreement and in many areas to do so on our terms. Pride and simple political survival means that there would be defacto resistance and being skilled in these things they played us along to the end, getting our ambassador to express confidence that the deal would be made. Reminds me of the insurgents who start popping bombs when some of our spokespeople announce that the bombing have decreased or escalate attacks on our troops when we announce that such attacks have decreased. They as a people enjoy making us appear fools. Can't say I totally blame them.

- I am certain right now that every party to the agreement knows our desperation to have this thing done. This means they can bargain and assert pressures. As with asserting their independance they have a shared interest in making things difficult, in upping the negotiation pressure on us.

This doesn't mean that I discount the very real differences between various parties, but only that we've gotten ourselves into a position where "game theory" further encourages some very hard players to delay and cause difficulties.

I do however think that it is possible an agreeement will be made because I suspect most of the participants take this about as seriously as most third world politicians take pieces of paper. Agreements mean little, Kurdish and Shiite autonomy and all sorts of other things are mantained by militias. One can still throw acid in the face of unveiled women even if it's technically illegal. And anyone who thinks the mafias running all sorts of places are going to say, "oh gee a newly elected set of represenatives is now in charge and it's our duty to lay down our guns, evacuate the police forces and throw flowers at our new democracy," well if you believe that please post your name because I have some wonderful investments to sell you.

However if we sweeten the deal enough everyone might play "let's pretend." But they have no incentive to make this easy. Their interest is to rough us up a bit so we remember who is the boss and to extort as much as possible. My guess is one or 2 more rewrites of the constittion would be necessary to get us into the optimal state of total desperation still fused with a bit of hope. At that point everyone can appear on TV with huge smiles and the dreamed for rise in the president's poll numbers can occur. Victory!

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