Bomb Throwing Pacifist
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Raindrops keep falling...
Once in a great while, there comes a time when various unseen natural forces- the alignment of the stars, the ebb and flow of the tides, the balance of philosophik Quicksilver in the earth, and so on- conspire to bring about a truely shocking, thought-provoking event of great significance. We call this phenomenon "The Perfect Storm," and we thought of the name long before George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg met their watery graves at the hands of Wolfgang Petersen, thanks very much.
In any case, a new breeze is starting to pick up, causing shutters to creak and weathercocks to shift uneasily in the wind. Yes indeed, folks. You have been selected to be one of the lucky few to receive front-row tickets to witness this momentous event- nay! this very epoch unfolding before your very eyes. The irresistable force? The insurgency in Iraq. The immovable object? Opinion columnist and sometimes-politician Nibras Kazimi. The result of this unholy cataclysm? A little peice entitled "Iraq is Succeeding," courtesy of the New York Sun and World Net Daily.
But first, let's take a look at the auteur at work in this peice. From one of his official biographies:
Nibras Kazimi is a visiting scholar at the Hudson Institute. He also writes a weekly column on the Middle East for the New York Sun. Previously, he directed the Research Bureau of the Iraqi National Congress in Washington DC and Baghdad, and was a pro-bono advisor for the Higher National Commission for De-Ba'athification, which he helped establish and staff.
For your reference, I have provided a glossary.
New York Sun: Hack newspaper, best known for its excellent coverage of the arts and exceptional crossword puzzle.
Iraqi National Congress: Iraqi "Opposition party" founded by convicted embezzler Ahmed Chalabi and staffed almost exclusively by Iraqi expatriots living abroad, some of whom have never traveled to their native land. Recipient of over $8 million a year in CIA funding and in exchange helped provide intelligence regarding Iraqi WMD programs, including the now-infamous "bioweapons" trailers which turned out to be oversized helium tanks for weather baloons. Originally groomed as a shoe-in for the deposed Saddam, Ahmed Chalabi is now on the outs with his former American handlers and is one of the most hated men in Iraq today. The INC does not hold any seats in the Iraqi National Assembly.
De-Ba'athification: The idea championed by Viceroy Paul Bremer (among others) that the best way to pacify Iraq would be to disband its entire army and kick out of government anyone who had ever been a member of the Ba'ath party, including teachers, college professors, and dog catchers (and thus the only people who had any actual practical experience in running the Iraqi infrastructure). Except of course for in the oil ministry where things progressed more-or-less as they always had.
Pretty good so far, eh? Anyway, let's get to the article in question, shall we?
Iraq is Succeeding
There are legitimate concerns over where things stand in Iraq. Those who are genuinely worried about the welfare of the Iraqi people as well as about America's long-term interests should be commended for fretting over what is a fatefully decisive issue.
No kidding. Some of us were...how did you put it...fretting over the war all of about FOUR YEARS AGO WHEN THIS ALL STARTED TO GO DOWN! But thanks for coming to the conclusion that such fretting is commendable. Too bad you didn't think so back then.
However, these anxieties are being preyed upon and manipulated by dark and cynical forces whose affirmed goal, from the very beginning, was to declare the democratic experiment in Iraq a "failure."
Hey, man. If you loudly announce that you are going to hit yourself in the head with a hammer until we all see little yellow stars orbiting your dented, bloody skull, its our right to say that we think it's 1) a freaking stupid idea and 2) never going to work. You can accuse us of being dark and cynical all you want, but don't come crawling back to us, pointing an accusing finger and claiming that somehow we were behind this all along. That and that we'll all see those stars eventually. Once the hemorraging stops and you can make your hands obey you, that is.
Inside Washington, these forces include some who are in the pay of the Saudis, and bureaucrats safeguarding their careers.
The " Iraq is a failure" crowd is not only craven but also mistaken. If pressed to the wall to give a verdict on Iraq, I'd say that Iraq is succeeding.
See, that's the thing about Iraq. Because if there's anything we've learned from the lessons of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, its incredible what you can make Iraqis say when you use all sorts of creative interrogation methods. And they didnt even have to waterboard him to do it.
A strategic corner in the counterinsurgency campaign has already been turned, but the tangible results will take longer to register in the public mind.
I think Dick Chaney said that we were turning the corner in Iraq back during the 2004 presidential campaign. I don't think we're turning the corner so much as we're running in a giant hamster's wheel. Now matter how many times you make the wheel spin...you havent really gotten anywhere.
Iraq is succeeding because the Iraqi state has weathered the worst of the insurgent storm and survived, and because the Sunni insurgency is fatigued. "What about all the bodies? What about all the bombings?" Indeed, it's the worst it has been, but not the worst it can be.
And I think we can all agree that if a situation is currently "the worst it has been, but not the worst it can be," we are making significant progress no matter which measuring stick is used. So until Godzilla rises up from the sands and starts devouring Baghdad, we will continue to be successful in Iraq.
I see many hopeful signs that cannot be dismissed. To me, the numbers of the dead — painful as they are — are not as critically dangerous as a much talked about shift in American strategy away from the goal of securing a democratic Iraq.
In short, while I am sad to see so many people dying in our bungled, corrupt, and hopelessly misguided attempt to create a puppet American satelite state in the Middle East, it saddens me even more when people suggesting we abandon the project.
Insurgencies are about perceptions, not about hard facts on the ground.
Though bear in mind that if the facts on the ground supported my analysis, I'd whole-heartedly use them, instead of ignoring them when convenient. Like that story about the $75 million police academy we built for the Iraqis which rains pee and poo all over cadets lodged on the lower levels.
Modern times afford modern insurgencies another option: They have an unprecedented chance to mold global perceptions.
Yeah. That's never been done before. Nope. No-siree. Not ever.
Imagine how the battle of Stalingrad would have been covered by today's press and broadcast enterprises. The Russians ended up executing 14,000 of their own for desertion. About 50,000 Soviet citizens fought alongside the Nazis. Civilians continued to live in this most ferocious of war zones. A lot of negative spin could have been generated to weaken Russian resolve, at a time when the Stalinist regime deserved to be bad-mouthed. But even evil is relative, and it was clear who should have won and did indeed win.
Well, you do realize that the only reason these casualties and atrocities were not reported on was because of the penalties attatched to "espionage" in the Soviet Union under Stalin, right? It's hard to spin something when you're lying on the plank floor of a Siberian cabin, your teeth scattered in various directions or still embedded in someone's rifle butt.
Saddam Hussein has been brought to trial over two crimes so far, the relatively minor incident of Dujail and the genocidal campaign against the Kurds
If by relatively minor you mean the arrest, torture, and murder of 148 suspects from the town of Dujail after an assassination attempt on Saddam was thrawrted, you have some serious problems mate. But don't worry. You were probably in New York or Washington back when that all went down.
I was pro-liberation and anti-occupation, but at least I could see that the American occupation of Iraq was the "nicest" such occupation in the history of mankind.
I dunno. Our work along with the UN and NATO in the former Yugoslavia was pretty good, and that didn't involve secret prisons, torture of suspects, and the like. In fact, so was our 1995 invasion of Haiti.
The campaign was well intentioned, and the mistakes made resulted from ignorance rather than from malice.
Some of us would also add arrogance, naivete, and incompetence to that list as well.
Aberrations such Abu Ghraib were quickly punished and apologized for[.]
Really? Last I heard a half-dozen low-level reservists had been discharged and imprisoned for what they were caught doing on camera. Oddly enough, no officers, including the General in charge of the facility (Janet Karpinski) were ever disciplined for the participation, or at the very least criminal negligence in the matter. Oddly enough, the Abu Ghraib prison is still in operation today.
The insurgency is confronting its limits. It is finding that replenishing expertise, personnel, and the treasury is getting harder and harder. They are also finding that the Iraqi state and the Americans are getting better at fighting them through enhanced intelligence and an increased sense of confidence.
Eh, so long as the insurgents have the Saudis, and the Saudis have the crude, they will never have to face their funds drying up. Something to think about next time you're at the Texaco, eh? As for the increased confidence, all those polls conducted by various research agencies seemed to suggest 90-plus percent of the Iraqi public wants the US out of Iraq immediately. How's that for confidence?
Oh well. This goes on for pages and pages and after a while gets tedious. So now I'm going to end it, but not before leaving you with a graphic which I feel best illustrates Mr. Kazimi's outlook on Iraq. Now if we could only find a no-bid contractor to make and sell these to the Iraqi police cadets, we'd be in business.