August 29, 2007

Media Titling Dishonesty

Posted by TMLutas

Iraq Sunni Arabs say deal won't end boycott reads the headline from Reuters Canada talking about Sunday's encouraging wide ranging deals on de-baathification, oil revenue sharing, and releasing detainees. But that's not precisely what the Sunni parties said. Spokesman and parliamentarian Saleem al-Jubouri made it clear that Sunnis are merely waiting to ensure that the deal is real, that they won't rejoin the government for a false, paper agreement.

"We are not boycotting political dialogue, but this does not mean that we are returning to the government," he told Reuters.

"Yesterday's agreement covered a number of issues ... but we are waiting for action on the ground."

Political leaders in Iraq have announced broad agreements in the past but have struggled to implement them or hammer out details.

Jubouri said the most progress was made on the issue of rehabilitating Baath Party members, and good steps were also taken on setting up a way to free detainees, tens of thousands of whom are held in U.S. and Iraqi jails without charge.

The Iraqi political culture seems to be one of brinksmanship. If the deal does go through, the Sunnis will rejoin the government right around when the September report rating the success of the surge will be presented. If we are well prepared, we can absorb the rapid progress at the last minute and judge wisely how to proceed after September 15th. This type of misleading title does little to prepare the public regarding what is going on, and what might be going on fairly soon.

It's too soon to tell whether the deal agreed to on Sunday will be real. Like the sunni leadership we should be watching with interest and we need to demand our western news media give us the straight story.

August 24, 2007

Vietnam Ghosts

Posted by TMLutas

The Democrats have been hauling out hoary cliches about this or that war being "another Vietnam" for years. Now Bush is ramming it right back down their throats and saying "welcome to the next 20 years in the political wilderness" as the GOP prepares to saw the McGovernite limb off as the Democrats have climbed too far out there to scamper back to mainstream credibility.

The Democrat "another Vietnam" move has always been about making the american people lose faith in the military to get the job done and lose heart and abandon the war and the war party, the GOP. This riposte telegraphs the upcoming GOP campaign for the american people to once again lose faith in the Democrats to lead on national security for another generation.

In short, this has very little to do with foreign affairs and everything to do with electoral politics. For a different view, you might try here, where Dr. Barnett takes a domestic politics free look at Bush's VFW speech. He's right, in a sense. Bush's speech doesn't serve the country well if what he's talking about is foreign policy. Fortunately Bush isn't.

Ultimately, I think will stick out Iraqification much as we stuck out Vietnamization and the new government will have a crucial advantage over the post-withdrawal S. Vietnam government. Their oil will provide them with enough funds to buy weapons sufficient for their defense no matter how craven and spiteful the US Congress becomes. That may be the Democrats' best hope to salvage their national security credentials going forward. Once we train the Iraqi military sufficiently, the Democrats won't be able to betray our friends to our enemies much as the net roots will want them to.

August 21, 2007

Assembly of Experts Watch

Posted by TMLutas

The July 30th death of Ayatollah Ali Meshkini is going to be an early indicator whether Rafsanjani's reputed strong majority in the 4th Assembly of Experts actually will vote together. Up for grabs is the Chairman's seat and a level of operational control of the chamber that will pick the next Supreme Leader of Iran. They'll be gathering sometime after August 23.

August 09, 2007

The dog that did not bark

Posted by TMLutas

This article brings up an interesting fact. When Saudi Arabia and Israel got their latest round of weapons deals, they did not condemn the weapons received by the other country. Apparently this is unprecedented, a real sign that Iran is replacing all the old enemies in today's Middle East.

Jihad or Irhab

Posted by TMLutas

Jim Guirard talks about establishing a counter-narrative to Al Queda with it's mujahadeen fighting for Allah and destined for Paradise. What struck me was how accessible this makes participating in the fight.

You don't have to risk your life to fight on Al Queda's side. You can promote the narrative, become a propagandist for them and improve their chances to win. Given Al Queda's remarkable lack of capability on the battlefield, the propaganda side is actually the more important of the types of activity.

But with the establishment of a counter-narrative, specifically:

(1) Hirabah (unholy war, "war against society'") and/or Irhab (Terrorism) by ruthless
(2) mufsiduun (evildoers, mortal sinners, corrupters) destined for
(3) Jahannam (Eternal Hellfire) as a proper punishment for their
(4) khawarij (outside the religion) violations of the Qur'an which are so serious, so
(5) shaitaniyah (satanic) and so willfully unrepented as to constitute
(6) al-Murtadd al Qaeda (the AQ Apostasy) against Qur'anic (not "Shari'a") Islam

it becomes just as easy for american patriots to participate in the fight and force the battlefield back onto our favored territory, the actual battlefield.

In a way, it's also religiously ecumenical, doing Islam the favor of separating out its horrible bits and calling them unholy on their terms, instead of sweeping them up together and tarring Islam itself with its most radical activists.

Sites like Jihad Watch have been doing the latter and there we get into something of a ticklish problem. Will these anti-al queda and company warriors agree to use the counter-narrative? It's not entirely clear that they will. They're invested that jihad is a bad thing, that those who use it in the al queda sense are fundamentally correct in its meaning. Without buy in from the jihadwatch crowd the counter-narrative has no hope for success. You have to have clarity among your friends before you can hope to strongly influence the neutrals.

August 07, 2007

An idea for the next war

Posted by TMLutas

What if we combined Kiva's fundraising with the US military's CERP funds to create a mechanism where US citizens could support units by providing little work projects to create jobs and do the reconstruction work that is inevitable in any war? Unit commanders would have money at their disposal that did not rely on the budget process and control who got money and when so we wouldn't be funding our enemies. The local population would get faster reconstruction and help in giving idle young men something constructive to do. And patriotic civilians would get something concrete that they could do to help the war along and bring the military home faster with a victory.

Could it be done in Iraq? There's no reason why not if we're going to stick around long enough for the infrastructure to go through. The infrastructure would largely be Congressional permission to do this sort of thing. The software and aid infrastructure is already largely in place. The only thing beyond legislation is the logistics of giving the funders regular feedback that their donations meant something.

August 05, 2007

Letter to the Paper LVIII

Posted by TMLutas

A comment I put over on Gateway Pundit. This issue has been bothering me ever since I saw Abu Aardvark'spiece on his blog and Noah Shachtman's attempted skewer over on Wired. It wasn't until I read the Saudi piece that the "compare and contrast" difference struck me.

There's a similarity between fobbing off the Golden Mosque bombing on zionists and current US strategy to fob off most attacks in Iraq on Al Queda in Iraq. In both instances, it's a bad habit but one I'm comfortable with in the US case and not so much in the Saudi one. The difference is that the US distortion is for a specific purpose and time limited. By allowing this fiction, we encourage non Al Queda groups to put down their weapons in the hope that their acts will be glossed over and they can still successfully integrate into a new, democratic Iraq. It's a time-limited strategy that will eventually disappear with this campaign in the War on Terror. There is a reasonable exit and the overall effect is to save lives. That makes the lie an acceptable wartime gambit.

The Saudi case is different because it does not appear to have an exit strategy and has been going on for decades. The demonstrated overall effect is not to save lives, but to geographically shift where lives are lost, jews instead of arabs, Israelis instead of Iraqis and Saudis. That result is not worth the cost.

A product of BruceR and Jantar Mantar Communications, and affiliated contributors. Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's half-informed viewpoint on the world.

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