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24 February 2006

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ckrantz

It's interesting that you don't see Iraq as a nation state. Current public debate always talks about the Iraqi people without making a distinction between groups.

W. Patrick Lang

ckrantz

I never did. pl

ckrantz

Any more thoughts on where the region are heading?

I am pessimistic abut the future and how to avoid a regional war. Things seems to going backwards steadily since the Pandora's box was opened.

rmac

The questions I have may not be germane to the subject, but in the context of wondering why the 1st Gulf War was abruptly ended without the seemingly - at that time - logical conclusion of toppling Hussein, I've always assumed Saudi Arabia's desire not to see a likely emergence of a Shiite dominated Iraq as a prime factor in its termination. Why then does a similar coterie of people bring this about? Was it the shame (with its sting and stigma of perceived failure) of a forfeited opportunity? Was it founded on Russia's emergence as a force in world oil supply and its desire to commerically link with Iraq? The explanation that neocon ideology solely drove policy, against a simple reckoning of the likely elective outcome of Shiite numerical superiority, appears insane.

Having worked in Africa, Iraq's nationality is all too familiar - and similarly - all too frail.

Thanks for your site.

Serving Patriot

rmac,

You are right. The neocon ideology drove the enterprise -- and they truly are insane.

Of course, they believe the rest of us "children" are the uninformed ones. And, as thier "useful stooge" (and Iranian agent) Chalabi said, they "are heores in error."

Sad and oh so true.

SP

W. Patrick Lang

All

A serving senior officer friend wrote from Iraq to say that he thinks my remarks in this interview are an accurate depiction of the situation. pl

ikonoklast

Thank you, Colonel, for another of your reasoned and accurate analyses. It's unfortunate - tragic - that they are not as widely disseminated and accepted as the delusional propaganda and spin embodied in the PowerPoint presentation of your earlier post.
Immediately preceding reading the CFR interview, I was listening to a "pundit" on NPR proclaiming that the mosque bombings were the desperate last throes of the terrorists and insurgents to provoke a civil war. This statement demonstrates once again not only the neocons' reliance on manipulating image as a primary strategy, but their sad belief in its efficacy. It works to some extent for the domestic audience, but as a substitute for rational actions it's worse than useless, serving only as a rationale for ignoring the truth on the ground, viz. Ms. Rice's impotent blackmail threats to the regional powers concerning Hamas and Lebanon.
As a competing image of the situation of our forces in Iraq over the last week, the movie "Khartoum" keeps flashing to my mind, and I can only hope that my vision is as hallucinatory as that that of the administration's.

john

Sir,

Good interview. All I can say is that Mr. Bush wanted to give them democracy, and now we must live with the consequences.

RJJ

Is that "we in the leadership in Iraq ..." a taunt - a little something to keep things heated up?

RICHARD PERLE, FMR. ASST. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well first of all, I don't believe we are on the edge of a civil war. I think we need to stay calm, which is what we in the leadership in Iraq are urging, urging Iraqis to do.

It is from Hardball transcript.

Rider

"reversing the social order in Iraq"

Thank you for making that point, pl. The Shia are both the majority and (formerly) the underclass, both socio-economically and culturally. We have managed to turn Iraqi society upside-down. There are parallels to the Reconstruction South.

avedis

"Thank you for making that point, pl. The Shia are both the majority....."

But the Sunni are the majority in the region. How does that factor in? Would not neighboring Sunnis contribute arms, cash, maybe personnel?

Is there a point at which neighboring Sunnis step in, overtly, to stem a rising Shia/Iranian tide?

I suppose a perceived American impotence would come before expanded Sunni involvement, but what is the tilting point (if there is one)?

Glen

Pat,

Good post. I'm impressed with the Iraqi response to an obviously incredibily provocative attack, but umimpressed with the Iraqi government's ability to control the situation. This will play out so that the religous leaders gain much more power, and shows that there is a serious lack of true army/police in the country. Assuming they can continue to walk this knife's edge, an Iranian style government looks like the ultimate shape that Iraq may take.

Thanks,

Glen

Curious

Any more thoughts on where the region are heading?
I am pessimistic abut the future and how to avoid a regional war.
Posted by: ckrantz | 24 February 2006 at 10:05 PM "

My amateurish take.

1. It seems the new joint chief of staff is a lot better than the last one. We can observe less lying in the media. (NYTimes doens't publish, "there will be major attack in western Iraq next week. please ignore current adminstration scandal, We will capture #2, and Zarqawi... the usual pathetic sophomoric script)

2. It seems the whole torture bit is now being taken seriously, but the damage is done and beyond repair. All Al qaeda has to do is keep publishing fake photo and it will inflame the region. And everybody will believe 'em, since everybody wants to believe it. (we are screwed in this department. Neither can we do propaganda damage control.)

3. It seems Pentagon also start giving 'correct' report about Iraq "army". (there is none)

4. Now we need to know the real status of that installed goverment. I seriously doubt it has legitimacy in the eyes of Iraqi people. (ie. nobody care if they get snuffed, nobody knows who they works for. bickering, bickering) So basically, nobody has the moral authority to say "don't fight" we must unit and work to rebuild. (At least we didn't kill sistani in the beginning and install some loser. Sistani at least is 'moderate' and urge his follower to stop blood bath.)

5. Condi is a total loser. Current Iraq situation cannot be solved through military solution alone. There must be diplomatic effort to create border stability. stop media incitement, sharing of information, and money/man power. But the neocon gang has so alienated all middle eastern country, they basically give her the middle finger. (observe Saudi in hamas Case, Cheney in Egypt, Russia selling advance missiles, europe looking the otherway)

6. Rumsfeld is bad for the whole thing too. His mouth completely destroys any diplomatic works and whatever goodwill we have left in the area.

--------

1. We are beyond "trying to prop up that puppet government" now. Obviously nobody cares about them and no Iraqis listen to them. Either somebody do something to restore legitimacy quickly, or civilian infrastructure will keep deteriorating. And pretty soon, no central government is possible at all, even with the best effort.)

2. We are now in civil war. It's a question of big one or a small one.

All in all, Al qaeda is winning in Iraq. They are pulling 'afghanistan gambit' succesfully in Iraq with our help.

we install illegitimate government, help destroy civilian facility, fanning inter ethnic/religious strife, destroying our international credibility and lost control of oil price. Iraq is quickly turning from a functioning state to a tribal like area.

There is no solution possible without removing Bush from the office. All his people is not credible and tainted. Just about anybody wants to see him screwed. But he is too stupid to realize and still think he is a hot item.

(watch Iran, Russia, China, Syria, Saudi, Egypt, central asias... etc All of them are not on our side, yet keys to our solution in Iraq.)

W. Patrick Lang

avedis

Although they are the majority in the Arab and Islamic World the Sunni Arab countries near Iraq are remarkably weal militarily. Their assistance is more likely to be in the form of money, guerrilla fighters, etc. an over the long haul. pl

W. Patrick Lang

Rider

Ah, we are not supposed to think thoughts like that, but, you are right, We are attempting the "Reconstruction" of Iraq. There are parallels and as I am sure you remember, the first attempt at "Reconstruction" here was eventually abandoned because it could not be made to work. What followed was a restoration of "Bourbon" rule.

One big difference is that the leaders of the Confederacy, Davis, etc. made a deliberate decision not to call for a "levee en masse" to wage guerrilla war against the occupier. They did that because they were very conservative people and the idea of their country plunged into chaos was repulsive to them. Only later did "popular" resistance emerge in the form of terrorist groups like the Klan and ethnic criminal groups like the Mafia in New Orleans, pl

Rider

Col. Lang, I agree. Ironic that a Southern president would put himself in so similar a situation. Michael Vlahos wrote an article not long ago comparing the "violently competing legitimacies" in Iraq to the situation in "Cold Mountain":

"In the crumbling Confederate Nation there were 1) Confederate forces, 2) state forces, 3) Union forces, 4) bounty hunters, and 5) gangs of filibusters and deserters. So in Iraq today there are 1) US forces, 2) Iraqi forces, 3) local militias, 4) insurgent units, 5) Jihadi fighters, 6) gangs and organized crime, 7) coalition "contractors" and "other" outside military advisors (Iranians, Syrians, Saudis, etc.)."

First time I had run across the term "filibuster" in that sense, btw.

W. Patrick Lang

rider

"filibuster" in its original meaning referred to more or less military adventurers engaged in expeditions in Latin America. This meaning was common in the ante-bellum South. The most famous of such filibustering expeditions was that of William Walker in Nicaragua in the 1850s?

He took over the whole country at the behest of Commodore Vanderbilt, but then had a falling out with Vanderbilt who sponsored a native army that destroyed Walker.

This transfer of meaning probably ocurred with the thought that senate filibustering was the action of reckless desperados. pl

W. Patrick Lang

rider

I don't see Bush as a Southern president. He is from far enough west in Texas that he probably doesn't like grits and his rhetoric does not indicate to me any personal attachment to the south. pl

Rider

Let's see. Born in Connecticut, grew up in Midland, educated Andover, Yale, Harvard. He's a carpetbagger-scalawag combo! :o)

wtofd

Rider, nothing good ever came out of Andover except for Bill Belichick.

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