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30 September 2007


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Edward Merkle

pl: It is still the case that most of what I hear from Americans about Iraq and the Arab World is just nonsense and the worst kind of wishful thinking and "mirror imaging."

This hits a big nail on the head. People not exposed to other cultures have no concept of what makes foreign peoples tick, and have no idea how distinct and alien are some of these differences. I was struck by the different values Europeans hold to us much less the Arab peoples.

At the opposite pole, the refusal to see by these same "Mayberry Machiavellians" the core human desires expounded by our Founders, common to all people, and how foreign cultures can achieve these same desires is tragic.


Col: This comment is very interesting and demands concrete examples: "Most Americans seem afflicted with an inability to see past the cleverness and good manners that so often are a mask behind which Middle Easterners deal with us."

Without some examples, we will keep falling for the silent evidence problem, i.e., discounting what we don't know.



Why would America's most senior General Casey insist ( When he has any amount of access to meeting Lawmakers in private) on an open meeting with Congress where he Stated flatly that the American Army is now so over stretched it is unable to meet any further demands on it?


My guess is that he knew that both Congress and the Administration would hide\deny the real condition of America's Armed forces from the public if held in private.

The Highest General in America's Army has gone on record publicly in the clearest possible language to say the America's Army is almost broken and unable to fulfill any further function ( Such as say, defend South Korea from an attack from the north, defend Taiwan, assault Iran.. etc)

All this despite the US Military Budget being by far the highest the planet has ever known ( The rest of the world combined spends less on weapons and armies then the USA does).

Any thoughts?



"It is still the case that most of what I hear from Americans about Iraq and the Arab World is just nonsense and the worst kind of wishful thinking and 'mirror imaging.' Soldiers, politicians, policy wonks, journalists, they are all the same."

Agreed: But would you expect something different? I wonder how many Congressmen can tell you whether Oman is north or south of Qatar. Or whether the GDP of Syria is less or greater than the GDP of Israel. A few weeks ago a Congressman on The Newshour seemed to assert that the Al Qaeda terrorists are Shiites.


That'll larn them going round the world and insisting people are democratic.


Per all the comments about the size of the U.S. military budget-the vast number of Americans believe that money can buy happiness, be it the lottery or 'Vegas or spectulating in the real estate market.
Why shouldn't spending obscene amounts of tax payer dollars guarantee US happiness when dealing with all the non-Americans on this planet, so we can get on with aquiring MORE stuff!
Didn't some wag once say "he who dies with the most stuff wins!"

martin K

The Paul Bremer experiment will go down in history as the most surreal attempt at administration ever effectuated. The health general of Baghdad started with a smoking ban in public offices.They attempted to digitalize the Baghdad stockexchange in protest of the brokers, who continued to work as they knew how. And they "lost" approx 5 billion dollars, accidentaly. LOL.

Not only do they not know, they really dont care. It started as a profitmaking venture, not a real project. From this stems all todays problems, because there really was a six-ten month window of opportunity for Iraq. But Rummy wanted "fast and light". ANd of course, there was the real stab in the back: The changing of the orders after the invasion had started, from in&out to go&hold. I have heard some stories of how clueless US officers were when they went in, because they had been told it would be a month, 5months tops.

Peter Principle

"Most americans seem afflicted with an inability to see past the cleverness and good manners that so often are a mask behind which Middle Easterners deal with us."

While I think I understand the point the Colonel is trying to make, this sounds all together too much like the old "wily oriental gentleman" stereotype.

Having dealt with more than a few American politicians, lawyers, investment bankers, PR specialists, and, yes, military men, I can testify that many of them are every bit as good at hiding behing "a mask of cleverness and good manners" as any Middle Easterner.


This looks like a video message from the 1920 Revolution Brigades:


These are one of the forces that are working with U.S. forces in the much-touted Anbar province. Pretty decent analysis and translation, given their circumstances.

William R. Cumming

PL! IN your opinion where is the best public analysis of Iranian diplomacy and policy appearing?


Analysis by one of the only non-Green Zone Western reporters on the partition vote:


Escobar, Dahr Jamail, Cockburn, and Nir Rosen are basically the only journalists who write anything about Iraq worth reading. All of them spent most of their time in the "Red Zone."


I thought this from albasrah.net is useful because it enumerates various groups:


Six Iraqi Resistance groups form Political Council for the Iraqi Resistance.

In a dispatch posted at 2:26pm Makkah time Thursday afternoon, Mafkarat al-Islam reported that six Iraqi Resistance organizations affiliated with the Salafi Islamist current and the Muslim Brotherhood organization have announced that they had forced the Political Council for the Iraqi Resistance.

Mafkarat al-Islam reported the organizations issued an appeal calling for the liberation of Iraq from the activity of the foreign occupiers on the path to complete independence. The six groups in the new Political Council represent two of the five main blocs of forces that have been engaged in armed struggle against occupation in Iraq.

Four of the six Resistance groups that have combined to form the Council are the constituent members of the “Front for Reform and Jihad,” specifically: the Islamic Army, the Army of the Mujahideen, the Army of the Fatiheen, and the Shari‘ah Board of the Ansar as-Sunnah. These organizations reflect a Sururi Salafi Islamist orientation.

The other two member organizations in the new Political Council are the Hamas In Iraq Movement, and the Islamic Front for Iraqi Resistance, (known by its Arabic acronym Jami‘). These organizations have their roots in the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Three major blocs engaged in armed struggle against the US occupation in Iraq that are not affiliated with the new Political Council are: the Front for Jihad and Change, an organization inspired by the Association of Muslim Scholars of Iraq; the Supreme Command for the Jihad and Liberation, a newly formed umbrella organization of 22 Resistance groups that have chosen Baath Party leader ‘Izzat Ibrahim ad-Duri as their commander; and the so-called Islamic State of Iraq – the front organization for al-Qa‘idah.

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