June 17, 2008

No More Gazas

Robert Dujarric and Andy Zelleke challenge Senator John McCain in the Christian Science Monitor. They ask three important questions that everyone in the United States ought to have answered before casting a vote in the November election.

Senator McCain has yet to give the American people clear answers to three fundamental questions: What, exactly, are the political objectives of keeping large numbers of American soldiers in Iraq for years to come? What plausible outcome would benefit the United States enough to justify the wrenching costs of achieving those objectives? And what, concretely, is the strategy for getting there?

I am not affiliated with the McCain campaign in any way and cannot be considered one of its spokesmen. These are important questions, however, and Senator McCain shouldn

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 17, 2008 10:20 AM
Comments
I posted this over at commentary but I'm not entirely sure if it's going to appear so I'll pop it here too:
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Like NATO, there will be an official and an unofficial reason for our involvement. Famously, the unofficial reason for NATO was to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down. In over a half a century of NATO, we've never officially admitted the truth of the "keeping the germans down" part though everybody knew it was a factor. There is a similar dynamic in in the Middle East.
Hussein's adventurism in Kuwait and Iran will take a long time to forget. A competent Iraqi army will magnify those fears and Iraq is starting to show it has the makings of a world class army. Add first class battle tanks and fighter/bombers and you have a scary picture that will tend to lead to a ME arms race, possibly including nukes and not just Iranian ones. It is in the US' interest to minimize any sort of arms race in the ME.
At the same time admitting that we would be there to put a limit on Iraqi offensive military abilities would be a ready stick for Iraqi demagogues (Moqtada Sadr, call your office) that would be truly dangerous if they were to rise to power. So the 'official' reasons are trotted out and are themselves real. They are just not the whole story.
So there's a challenge for the "over the horizon" crowd. What do you do with an Iraq that has a democracy a 1st class military and is scaring the daylights out of all their neighbors just by standing there? From their viewpoint, Iraq's one poll away from electing a scoundrel that will launch that fine US trained military into a new offensive war. What will reassure them other than US security guarantees substituting for Iraqi weaponry that would be needed for that feared invasion?
Posted by: TM Lutas at June 17, 2008 12:24 pm
michael, your piece was well-said and very much to the point. it's too bad that some will see this as partisan when it's not.
Posted by: ignacio at June 17, 2008 3:26 pm
I'm not to sure what definition is being used to define a "1st class military," but considering the Iraqis have no plans until after 2010 to begin modernizing its military then this threat is simply nonexistent. Iraq has no offensive capablility either in the air or at sea and its standing army, trained in counterinsurgency(small unit tactics) is barely 1/4 the size of Iran's. Unfortunately if anything the INAs current OOB is in its increasing structural ability to deal with internal threats or in a worse case scenario suppressing one of the parts of the Iraqi Federal state.
The likely possibility is that the Iraqis will be able to upgrade its offensive capabilities as the country stabilizes and begins to have more money to purchase new as opposed to maintining what it has currently. Some of the T-72s that Iraq have were upgraded by the Hungarians and now are equal if not superior to anything Iran has except Iran has four or five times as many. It is planning on acquiring ASW capabilities to negate a existing Iranian advantage in the Gulf but still does not plan ships that are offensive in nature.
Posted by: Pat Patterson at June 17, 2008 5:28 pm
Pat Patterson makes some good points, but while quantity has a quality of its own, Iran's ability to project conventional forces is a matter of substantial doubt. The same mountains that make Iran a pain to attack make them a pain to filter supplies through. While it is possible that the US under Obama would hold back the Navy and let Iran move supplies over the sea and in through Basrah, this is one of those actions that would tend to initiate articles of impeachment. This might also inspire a thousand or so Army and Marine officers to retire early and run for Congress and the Senate. We don't often talk about logistics as a function of political suicide, but it seems appropriate here.
Possessing four times the armored fighting vehicles is not as important if you can't transport them to battle, fuel them, and resupply them with ammunition.
Since the mountains closest to Iraq are also occupied primarily by Kurds, this makes the ability of Iran to project power more fraught. Once again, it is possible that an Obama administration will either stab the Kurds in the front, or just not know who they are well enough to act in ways that don't stab them in the front.
Iraq is going to scare the daylights out of its neighbors for the foreseeable future, although they are much less of an overt threat as a stable democracy backed and assisted by the United States. If there is a cut and run, or anything that looks like it, Iraq is very likely to get invaded and counter-invaded to establish a different balance.
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at June 17, 2008 6:32 pm
Patrik-I might need to clarify in that I think Iraq now and in the future has already made Syria, Turkey nervous as well as Jordan, though the Jordanian links to the US might lessen that perceived threat. And I doubt if, even though Iran does have the ability, as per Soviet armoured doctrine, to move tanks via transporter and also to resupply them, at great cost, at some of its forward bases, there would be nothing more than spoiling attacks in the northern border areas. The liklihood is that if there is a shooting war it will be over exactly the same area as the last time, the Shatt al Arab.
Plus I would remind of the example of the Shermans, the late arriving Pershings and Russia's T-34 vs. the Panzers and later the Tigers and Leopards which had huge advantages in range, armour and firepower. But the US operated optimally at a 4 to 1 advantage and negated the superiority of the German armour. And in the latter part of the war the Soviets sometimes had a 10 to 1 advantage.
But I do agree with the idea that a resurgent Iraq, peaceful or not, is a threat and the negation of the main strategic gain Iran has made since 1979. And if the mullahs can't claim "Gott mit Uns" then those cranes might find something different swinging from them then homosexual teenagers.
As to the comment regarding the Kurds I suspect that neither Iraq or Iran wish to do anything that might inflame these areas.
Posted by: Pat Patterson at June 17, 2008 7:46 pm
Pat Patterson,
With all possible respect, your inclusion of the Pershing above is a mistake. The Pershing was absolutely comparable to the Panther, and with the gyroscopic stabilized gun, it is superior. Not needing to stop before firing is a huge advantage.
What you neglect as an advantage the Wehrmacht possessed that made them so superior in the field, and it has some relevance here. The Wehrmacht had much better staff officers and non-commissioned officers than anybody they faced. That is the same advantage the Iraqi's will possess. The Iranian military has severe problems with political interference by the Mullahs and an out of control Revolutionary Guard. It's been twenty years since they had to fight a real battle, and they threw away a lot of their best people.
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at June 17, 2008 8:39 pm
See, Preview should be my friend. My notes clearly showed that I meant to say that the Pershing arrived too late to have much effect even though it was the equal to the Panzers and Leopards.
I hope we are still talking about the future because Iraq has still not had any practice above the brigade level of conventional war. For example Maliki gave the orders to move certain units to Basra directly to those commanders rather than through a general staff. But I do agree that the internal politics of Iran would be a hindrance but the situation you describe seems analogous to that of the Wehrmacht in 1939 yet it perserved in spite of the interference of the Party and the out of control material demands of the SS.
Rommel described his campaign to the Channel as an unending battle for supplies and armour that were being siphoned off to the newly created Waffen SS units. It's one of those ironies of war that most of the armour surrounding Dunkirk were captured Renault tanks that Rommel used to augment his forces.
Now do I think that Iraq would make short order of the Iranians, yes! But as to a victory parade through Baghdad with the mullahs in chokers, doubtful!
Posted by: Pat Patterson at June 17, 2008 9:32 pm
"... a victory parade through Baghdad with the mullahs in chokers ..."
What a beautiful vision!
Posted by: Gary Rosen at June 17, 2008 10:06 pm
Pat Patterson,
I think of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as very similar to the Waffen SS, only without the restraint, humility, humanity, boundaries, or talent. How much they've screwed the regular Iranian military remains to be seen. How many quality troops leave after their conscription rather than be around the IRG? How heavily is the IRG laden with brown-nosing deviants hiding by being more Islamist than Islamist? How many resources are going down the IRG rat-hole?
The IRG has done some covert work, but all of their trained fighters in Hezbollah amounts to one brigade of 5,000 troops who defended heavily prepared ground. Movement to contact, hasty defense, withdrawal under fire are all things they haven't done in twenty years, and never did against quality opposition.
When the Islamic Republic shows they can manage an earthquake, I'll believe they are a serious threat as conquerors.
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at June 18, 2008 12:11 am
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 06/18/2008 A short recon of what
Posted by: David M at June 18, 2008 9:52 am
None of you have answered the question of just WHY a pro-Iranian government in Baghdad would want to go to war against it's benefactors in Tehran?
The Iranians have come out of this whole thing the unmitigated winners. Iraq once used to be the only force in the Middle East capable of containing Iran. Now that has gone and we have installed a pro-Iranian government in Baghdad.
What this has done is stoked sectarian tensions in the area and caused countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia to be considering their own nuclear programs.
I still maintain that Iraq will enventually split up into three different countries. The Shi'ite south will become a satelite of Iran, more so than the current government is.
Kurdistan in the north, like the Sunni entity in the middle, will be engaged in semi-war on multiple fronts for decades to come.
Patrick,
Comparing the IRG to the Waffen SS is a bit lame. They are nothing more than another branch of the military and have no real time or historic comparison to the Waffen SS and the Wehrmacht.
I realise that many people who hate Iran want to do whatever they can to equate them with the greatest evils the world has known, but this ship just wont sail.
Iran is bad enough on their own, when you attempt to make them into the 3rd Reich it gets a bit deep.
It is said that a Waffen SS soldier was worth multiple allied soldiers. I dont think we have to worry about that with the IRG.
Our own military has said it will be a decade or more before Iran will be able to even defend it's own borders.
Posted by: Marc at June 18, 2008 10:07 am
What happens if the Iraqi government asks for US forces to leave the country?
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2008 12:20 pm
Our own military has said it will be a decade or more before Iran will be able to even defend it's own borders.
Iran?
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2008 12:22 pm
Marc;
WE installed a pro-Iranian government in Baghdad??
Did the United States rig the elections?
Posted by: Boojum at June 18, 2008 1:37 pm
Not a bad case.
Holes:
Iraqis are most unlikely to vote themselves into a Gaza scenario.
You mean, they would never vote themselves into a Gaza scenario, like the Gazans did? What?
Oh, wait. You mean, "the US will continue to use its massive ability to reward and punish Iraqi political actors to coerce Iraqi politicians into keeping Iraq a non-Gaza to whatever extent this is possible... until we of course leave, which is going to happen regardless, at which point all the Iraqi political resentment will lead to a backlash towards a Gaza scenario that will only be larger the longer we manipulate things"
To answer the first question, then, America
Posted by: glasnost at June 18, 2008 9:10 pm
I don't know about glasnost but I know I am not broke, not unhappy and I'm only disappointed that USC didn't win the BCS this year. Oh yes, I am also aware that the F-22 program has indeed been cut by almost 80% over the last 14 years. From a planned 750 in 1994 and then by 2003 it was announced that only 130 or 139 (depending on the final status of the assembly line) will be built and become operational.
What trillion dollar defense budget as the official numbers were 669 billion in FY2007 and 720 billion in FY2008. And the budget deficit, still to high, is estimated by the CBO to be 219 billion for 2008. But pulling figures out of that hat can be dangerous when there are more reliable sources to be used.
Posted by: Pat Patterson at June 18, 2008 10:37 pm
The only thing that I am sick of is pro Al Qaeda and pro Sadrist propaganda.
What a load of crap.
They tried to take over Iraq and failed miserably. Thanks to our troops and our allies.
Posted by: Freedom Now at June 19, 2008 4:07 am
Double Plus,
I meant Iraq.
Boojum,
Only a blind man would over throw the minority Sunni led government and set up elections in a Shi'a majority state and expect anything other than a pro-Iranian government to emerge.
Either our leaders knew this was going to happen or are mortally stupid. I am not sure which is worse.
Either way, yes our actions set up the stage for a pro-Iranian government. Our leaders MUST have known this and decided it was worth the benefit. I would agree with their sentiments, but that must have been the case.
If they honestly expected a pro-Western democratic solution then they are stupid beyond belief. I dont know which is the case, I teeter between the two.
Posted by: Marc at June 19, 2008 6:52 am
I must really read my posts before I post, the above should have been "I wouldnt agree with their sentiments.........."
Posted by: Marc at June 19, 2008 6:54 am
According to the (MSM censored) D. Feith book, the Bush admin didn't agree on post-Iraq. Rumsfeld (and Feith?) and DoD seemed to want Gen. Gardner to go in, hold elections (using imperfect ration cards), and turn over Iraq to the Iraqis. And get out. Small footprint. Cheap.
"State", I guess meaning Powell (and Armitage?) wanted to nation-build and create the pro-democracy Iraq ... but still with the cheap, small footprint, not Shinseki's 300 000 occupation force (which I'd guess McCain supported).
Seeing as how, when the Sunnis & locals fight against terrorists, the terrorists lose, it was "reasonable" to expect the locals to support America and be against Muslim killing terrorists. Reasonable, but uncertain, questionable, and wrong.
Bush, and Rumsfeld and all US generals, have long failed to place the blame for Muslim murders on Muslim terrorists.
While Arab Shias have much more in common with Persian Shias than do Arab Sunnis, I do NOT believe even a rump Arab Iraq-Shia-stan would allow itself to be dominated by the Iranian mullahs, although I can well believe there would be great protestations of friendship and expressions of non-hostility.
There are already more Arab Shia factions then just Sadr, Badr for instance. Some will be closer, some further away -- and the longer the US stays, the more likely a moderate, secular accepting Shia gov't will emerge.
You're have no idea what would happen in Iraq if we leave. You're just afraid of what might happen. Well, I'm afraid of what will happen if we stay. So where does that leave us? With no basis for decisions.
Well, why not look at post WW II history?
America stayed in Germany & Japan & S. Korea -- still there, all are advanced economies supporting human rights pretty well. S. Korea had LONG time under (leftist hated) authoritarian generals, but now they've gotten a free market oriented democracy and are doing quite well.
America left Vietnam (thanks to Dems voting to lose in 1974/75, after winning Peace in 1973), and there hundreds of thousands in re-education camps, boat people, and 1.5 mil. Killing Filed murders by commies in Cambodia (thank you Kerry! Fonda! Cronkite! P. Zimbardo of Stanford! etc)
Bloody mass murder that was predicted -- but, no, wasn't certain.
It's also not certain if Darfur (now at 400 000 deaths? ) won't suddenly become peaceful -- but I don't believe the genocide will stop until either war is used to stop it, or until the Arab killers get enough of the land they want.
But I am most certain of Michael's teaser conclusion:
"a victory of any kind for Al Qaeda in Iraq or Moqtada al Sadr
Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at June 19, 2008 7:57 am
It's all true, and very non-partisan.
However, we do need to rethink this:
Wars are also fought to maintain a status quo and to prevent a bad outcome.
The Iraq war was not sold to the American public as a fight to maintain the status quo in the Middle East. It was sold to us as a way of changing the status quo, a way of bringing change to an area that badly needed it, as a means of dismantling the corrupt regimes that, as Bush said, plan to "develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people, and to blackmail our government into isolation."
The primary corrupt regime that has those plans is Saudi Arabia, the official hub of world terrorism. If Bush told the American public that we were going to spend billions of dollars and risk the lives of American soldiers in an effort to protect the status quo that allows the primary supporters of al Qaeda to survive and thrive, I doubt that anyone outside of the government and the media would have supported it.
The heroic efforts of anti-terrorist Iraqis and noble and rare leaders like Petraus have managed to save our efforts in Iraq, but that doesn't change the fact that fighting a war to preserve the status quo in the Middle East was a very bad idea. The only people who are currently profiting from these efforts are the terror supporting regimes that we were supposed to be fighting.
These terror supporting regimes couldn't survive without support from the superpowers. China, Russia and the US tart themselves up and desperately vie for the attention of the Sauds, Iranians and the Sudanese, like a bunch of serial-killer groupies hoping that Ted Bundy will look their way. Our state department is always willing to throw American interests under a bus to maintain our alliance with Islamist Gulf states. We need to stay in Iraq to maintain the peace, but otherwise, the status quo desperately needs to be changed.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at June 19, 2008 9:08 am
The Iraq war was not sold to the American public as a fight to maintain the status quo in the Middle East.
I'm referring to why we're fighting now, now why we toppled Saddam back at the beginning.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 19, 2008 11:29 am
I know, and peacekeeping to maintain stability in Iraq makes sense.
But in general, we need to lose the idea of using military force to protect allies who aren't really allies. The Carter Doctrine was always a bad idea.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at June 19, 2008 12:30 pm
According to Dick Cheney, maintaining the status quo in the Middle East was an important reason for war in Iraq. Addressing the VFW in August 2002, he said:
Should all [Saddam's] ambitions be realized, the implications would be enormous for the Middle East, for the United States, and for the peace of the world. The whole range of weapons of mass destruction then would rest in the hands of a dictator who has already shown his willingness to use such weapons, and has done so, both in his war with Iran and against his own people. Armed with an arsenal of these weapons of terror, and seated atop ten percent of the world's oil reserves, Saddam Hussein could then be expected to seek domination of the entire Middle East, take control of a great portion of the world's energy supplies, directly threaten America's friends throughout the region, and subject the United States or any other nation to nuclear blackmail.
Current efforts to maintain status quo in the Middle East have led to American support of developing nuclear technology in the hub of world terrorism. From IHT:
Many here said they believed a showdown with Iran was inevitable. After several years of a thaw in relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, analysts said the Saudis were growing extremely concerned that Iran may build a nuclear bomb and become the de facto superpower in the region.
In recent weeks, the Saudis, with other Gulf countries, have announced plans to develop peaceful nuclear power; officials have feted Harith al Dhari, head of Iraq's Muslim Scholars Committee, which has links to the Iraqi insurgency; and have motioned that they may begin to support Iraq's Sunnis. All were meant to send a message that Saudi Arabia intends to get serious about Iran's growing prowess in the region.
..which is why mention of wars 'to maintain status quo' would be generally worrisome..
Posted by: maryatexitzero at June 19, 2008 1:02 pm
Mary: ..which is why mention of wars 'to maintain status quo' would be generally worrisome..
Sometimes, yes. Absolutely.
Other times, it's necessary though. Ousting Saddam from Kuwait is an example, as is defending the Iraqi government even though that government is only just barely worth defending. But it is worth defending, in no small part because of the sheer viciousness of those who seek to destroy it.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 19, 2008 1:11 pm
Marc,
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard is political troops. The Waffen SS was political troops.
The IRG is a bunch of fanatic fascist goons.
The Waffen SS were a bunch of fanatic fascist goons.
The IRG pulls funding and resources from the regular Iranian military.
The Waffen SS pulled funding and resources from the Wehrmacht.
The IRG is largely composed of Arayans.
The Waffen SS claimed to be composed of Arayans.
The IRG doesn't have many Austrians in its ranks.
The Waffen SS had a lot of Austrians in its ranks.
Are you claiming I'm wrong because of a shortage of Austrians?
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at June 19, 2008 2:46 pm
Other times, it's necessary though. Ousting Saddam from Kuwait is an example...
But after we ousted Saddam from Kuwait, we failed to support uprisings in the northern and southern parts of Iraq, because our goal was to maintain the status quo.
Now, due to our need to preserve the status quo, we're supporting the nuclear ambitions of the hub of world terrorism. These policies need to be changed, at the very least because they don't make any sense.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at June 19, 2008 5:49 pm
I wouldn't even want to imagine what the ME would look like if the head of the 1st Gulf War coalition suddenly decided nilaterally, with help of course from all the other colonial powers, that the original goal and resolution, as outlined by the UN, was not only the removal of Iraq from Kuwait but the overthrow of Saddam. I can just see how that would have played out in both the extreme and moderate Arab camps of Americans and Europeans with the help of Arabs suddenly overran Baghdad. Something like suddenly Pres. Bush announcing that Saddam had been on double secret probation and that the jig was up.
Posted by: Pat Patterson at June 19, 2008 5:58 pm
Ah, Preview, Preview, Preview!
Posted by: Pat Patterson at June 19, 2008 6:00 pm
I wouldn't even want to imagine what the ME would look like if the head of the 1st Gulf War coalition suddenly decided nilaterally, with help of course from all the other colonial powers, that the original goal and resolution, as outlined by the UN, was not only the removal of Iraq from Kuwait but the overthrow of Saddam....
At that point in time, there really were no good solutions. There aren't any good solutions now, because the Middle East is, politically and culturally, a mess. After so many years of failure, isn't it about time to reconsider our support of the status quo?
The thing that bugs me the most about our government is that, at some level, they do understand this. They say the right things, they just don't do them. If they can say these 'right' things, they must know that they exist.
Bush told Americans that we were going to war in Iraq to change the status quo, to bring democracy, not just to Iraq, but to the whole area, through the example of a a "peaceful and democratic country in the heart of the Middle East." He said that we had to fight terrorism at "the center" of a terrorist movement that seeks to "intimidate the whole world."
He understood that this was a problem. He just neglected to mention that the hub of terrorism was in Saudi Arabia. He misdirected our attention to the wrong country.
The thing is, once you figure out their routine, it's not hard to decipher their sales pitches. Now, just like Saddam, Iran refuses to stop developing WMDs (although Bush noticably avoids using the term WMD this time around). Although Saudi Arabia is still the center of world terrorism and the main supporter of Hamas, the marketing team just removes those labels from the KSA and sticks them on Iran. Like no one is going to notice.
Yes, Iran is an enemy, Syria is an enemy, but Saudi Arabia is too. Our involvement with them is part of what keeps the malign status quo going in the Middle East. If we're part of the problem, we could be part of the solution, if our govt. would listen to its own sales pitches and stop moving labels.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at June 20, 2008 7:12 am
Mary,
A lot of folks support status quo in the middle east because they want to deal with one thing at a time instead of everything all at once.
The Islamic Republic certainly stays in business because they are too big a bite for any other nation to swallow. Their policies and competence as leaders certainly do not recommend them in any competitive system (see above re: earthquake management). While the United States could certainly defeat them in a war, we certainly could not readily manage them in an opposed reconstruction. It's like there's this sign on a carnival attraction saying, "You must be this difficult to get away with genocide."
In the inverse of the Islamic Republic of Iran's offensive intractability, there is Saudi Arabia's cordial intractability. When we push the Islamic Republic, there are great denouncements and cries of Great Satan. When we push Saudi Arabia, there is public announcement of friendship and magnificent diplomatic obfuscation. Saudi Arabia gets a pass because their filter is "You must be this diplomatic to avoid violent censure." Saudi Arabia is masterful at clearing that bar.
In many ways the invasion route to Saudi Arabia goes straight through Foggy Bottom. Saudi Arabia's first line of defense is manned by the US State Department. If we attack Saudi Arabia, the rest of the world goes into play, because diplomacy is no longer existent.
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at June 20, 2008 8:15 am
But after we ousted Saddam from Kuwait, we failed to support uprisings in the northern and southern parts of Iraq, because our goal was to maintain the status quo.
The goal was to oust Iraq from Kuwait, not overthrow Hussein. Look it up. And in terms of the uprisings, they weren't supported because the US did not want to strengthen Iran.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 20, 2008 10:00 am
As always, Mary, I don't really understand how you think things will be fixed with Saudi Arabia. From what I understand, you think that the US should break all connections with them, but I don't understand how that will change anything for the better.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 20, 2008 10:05 am
Patrick: The IRG is a bunch of fanatic fascist goons.

The Waffen SS were a bunch of fanatic fascist goons.

Fanatic goons, yeas, but the IRG aren't fascists. Fascism is a political cult where the state and its leader are divine. I doubt that Islamists would place the state over Allah.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 20, 2008 10:17 am
DPU
Fanatic goons, yeas, but the IRG aren't fascists. Fascism is a political cult where the state and its leader are divine. I doubt that Islamists would place the state over Allah.
We aren't talking about Islamists as an ephemeral philosophical concept, we are talking about the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The IRG drove human children like sheep over minefields.
This looks like the work of fascists to me: http://www.sarafrazan.net/Pulitzer%20Prize.htm
I think your argument is straining at gnats. My friends who've been imprisoned by the IRG call them fascists. I think of them as more expert on the subject.
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at June 20, 2008 10:47 am
I think your argument is straining at gnats.
Thanks for sharing. But when using a political term like this, it's better to be precise. Every thug, goon, and killer is not by definition a fascist.
As for the photo, are you suggesting that any group that performs mass executions are fascist? That's a pretty broad definition. All kinds of people could then be labeled as fascists.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 20, 2008 12:51 pm
Oops, sorry, that last link was to a massacre by actual fascists. I meant to link to the reprisals. I pulled an O'Reilly on that one.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 20, 2008 12:56 pm
Even at his most jut-jawwed Benito Mussolini and the rest of the Italian fascists were hardly the stuff of deification. They, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Salazar, Castro and Lenin didn't want to put the state above God they merely wanted His job.
Posted by: Pat Patterson at June 20, 2008 1:40 pm
They, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Salazar, Castro and Lenin didn't want to put the state above God they merely wanted His job.
The fascists saw society as an organism, a manifestation of social Darwinism. As such, the leader was of prime importance.
Marxist-Leninists saw society as the product of an economic struggle between classes, and the dictatorship of the proletariat as a temporary stage that would midwife the birth of a new egalitarian classless society. Very different from the fascist worldview.
Castro? Nah. The guy wasn't even a Marxist until it became convenient to be so. Not even in the same league as the other guys.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 20, 2008 1:46 pm
Even at his most jut-jawwed Benito Mussolini and the rest of the Italian fascists were hardly the stuff of deification.
"The first thing is the state - and from the state are derived the rights and fate of the people. Humans come second."
- Mussolini
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 20, 2008 1:56 pm
In many ways the invasion route to Saudi Arabia goes straight through Foggy Bottom. Saudi Arabia's first line of defense is manned by the US State Department. If we attack Saudi Arabia, the rest of the world goes into play, because diplomacy is no longer existent.
That's very true. When Democrats and Republicans appease the Sauds, I wonder if they're just trying to appease the State Department. State has always been the Sauds local branch in the US.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at June 20, 2008 4:05 pm
From what I understand, you think that the US should break all connections with them, but I don't understand how that will change anything for the better.
No, I don't think the US should break all connections with them. If we wanted to fight terrorism and the spread of Islamist extremism, we would attack the center of it, the KSA.
Destroying the regime would destabilize the area in a bad way, but severely weakening the KSA, and basically controlling the shell of the regime would benefit us and the region. They're already vulnerable and weak. We've been so close to them for years, we know the people in power very well. After 9/11, the CIA was mostly responsible for quietly decimating the Taliban, because we'd been working with them for years and we knew them. We could probably do something similar with the Sauds.
But I'd be happy if our government would just stop kissing Saudi ass and treat the Sauds like they treat every other enemy/ally. Talk back to them once in a while. They can't even do that much.
However, as Patrick pointed out, there can't be any political solution to the problem because State is basically working for the Sauds. So the only other solution is economic. Our foreign policy and our economy has been obsessed with the Middle East for decades. While Iraq, Lebanon and Israel will always be important, we're slowly starting to realize that our Gulf allies don't have as much oil as they pretended to have. Despite their current tulipmania boom, their economies are small and unimportant compared with others. They're certainly not worth all we've invested in them, and they'll be worth nothing in the future. Other countries, like Brazil, Russia and China will be much more important.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at June 20, 2008 4:09 pm
If we wanted to fight terrorism and the spread of Islamist extremism, we would attack the center of it, the KSA.
I'm not sure what you're suggesting here. A military attack?
But I'd be happy if our government would just stop kissing Saudi ass and treat the Sauds like they treat every other enemy/ally.
How does that improve their behavior and the general situation?
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 20, 2008 4:18 pm
While Iraq, Lebanon and Israel will always be important, we're slowly starting to realize that our Gulf allies don't have as much oil as they pretended to have.
As I've pointed out before, that doesn't mean they don't have any oil. They have a hell of a lot of oil. Production may be peaking, but there's still a lot in the ground.
Despite their current tulipmania boom, their economies are small and unimportant compared with others. They're certainly not worth all we've invested in them, and they'll be worth nothing in the future.
Well, that's patently untrue. The Gulf State economies are growing substantially, and are diversifying the bucketloads of money that are being siphoned from the industrialized world. As oil prices rise, more and more wealth is transferred to them, which they will reinvest.
It's wishful thinking to imagine that their economies are small and unimportant. They are sitting on top of the world's most important resource and will reap substantial benefits from that.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 20, 2008 4:27 pm
How does that improve their behavior and the general situation?
How do toddlers respond when you set reasonable boundaries?
They are sitting on top of the world's most important resource and will reap substantial benefits from that.
Their economies are insubstantial compared to the present and future economies of nations like Brazil, Russia and China. We've been pissing billions away on a money pit for years, and we've lost all of it. I'm suggesting that we plan for the future, and stop throwing good money after bad.
You're telling us that we should continue to throw our money away on investments and strategies that have proven to be unsuccessful. Why do you think we should do that?
Posted by: maryatexitzero at June 20, 2008 5:51 pm
How do toddlers respond when you set reasonable boundaries?
To clarify, I'm asking specifically what boundaries you're suggesting, and what consequences for violating those boundaries.
Their economies are insubstantial compared to the present and future economies of nations like Brazil, Russia and China.
Smaller, but not insubstantial. And the future economic growth of those nations is heavily dependent on oil. (before mentioning Brazil's ethanol program, keep in mind that oil is used for many things other than vehicle fuel, and the Brazil's economy also depends on those).
You're telling us that we should continue to throw our money away on investments and strategies that have proven to be unsuccessful.
No I'm not, as I have no idea what investments you're talking about. Buying oil?
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 20, 2008 6:11 pm
DPU,
Facism is predicated on unitary action. All are bound together to make them strong, like a fascine. While the United States' motto is "E Pluribus Unum", we also enshrine the rights of the individual. (Insert obligatory Canadian Human Rights Commission dig here. I'd do it for real, but I don't believe for a second that you support that form of...fascist activity.) Unlike the United States, the Islamic Republic of Iran provides no protection for the individual. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and other fascist political troops, are routinely predatory on the individual.
The philosophical maundering of leading fascists do not define the condition or the pathology. The fundamental aspect of fascism as a pathological governance is the deliberate destruction of the rights of the individual in order to obtain strength.
While the United States flirted with the excesses of security considerations during the Cold War, we very clearly stepped back from the brink. While many libertarians and alarmists view with alarm (at great volume and to tedious extremes) the potentialities of the Patriot Act, the implementation of that security measure are substantially less grave than is presented. Largely this is because the lack of coherence and coordination of the enforcement effort by the US government. J. Edgar Hoover is still dead and nobody is going to blindly trust or willingly allow anyone like him to build an empire.
(Sorry to go on this lengthly diversion, but if I didn't some twit would storm in with moral equivalence from hell. You know that happens too much in this sort of conversations.)
In any case, fascism is a lot more prevalent, persistent, and pervasive a threat than you are giving it credit for being. You don't need bad movie costumes or a funny accent or to come from the 1920s to be a fascist. (See above re: Canadian Human Rights Commission.)
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at June 20, 2008 11:00 pm
I can't stand these college types who think they know what fascism is and will bore us all with the same cliche definition we've heard a billion times already.
Fascism is a collectivist system which is usually implemented by a authoritarian state , headed by a dictator, with few civil rights especially in regards to anti-govt activity.
Posted by: Vince at June 21, 2008 5:22 am
To clarify, I'm asking specifically what boundaries you're suggesting, and what consequences for violating those boundaries.
DPU - After the 9/11 attacks, our government reacted by flying Saudis out of the country. Sen. Bob Graham, the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that the White House suppressed convincing evidence that Saudi government agents aided at least two of the hijackers. No Saudis have been convicted or punished for their involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
When Prince Abdullah and President Bush were holding hands in April 2005, Sheik Saleh Al Luhaidan chief justice of Saudi Arabia's Supreme Judicial Council, told young Saudis to go to war against the Americans in Iraq. That was about the start of the massive suicide bomb attacks that turned Iraq into such a mess. The majority of suicide bombers in Iraq were Saudi.
Our government's reaction to this and to the fact that Saudi Arabia is the center of terrorism and Islamist revolution worldwide is basically "Oh, those Saudi scamps, they do the darndest things."
I'd suggest that we should treat the Sauds like we treat every other sorta-enemy. How would we have reacted if North Korea, Russia or China had financed an unprovoked paramilitary attack against American civilians that resulted in thousands of deaths? How would we react if Russian paramilitaries were killing thousands of our soldiers at the request of a prominent and recently justice minister? How would we react if China boycotted Denmark for creating anti-Mao cartoons, and financed violent protests that resulted in many deaths and the burning of embassies? Would our state department issue a statement that "These cartoons are indeed offensive to the beliefs of Communists."?
before mentioning Brazil's ethanol program, keep in mind that oil is used for many things other than vehicle fuel, and the Brazil's economy also depends on those
Brazil has plenty of oil:
BG, Petrobras Find More Oil in Brazil's Santos Basin
June 13 (Bloomberg) -- BG Group Plc, the U.K.'s third-largest oil and gas company, and Petroleo Brasileiro SA made a second discovery in Brazil's Santos Basin.
The Guara exploration well struck oil in the BM-S-9 concession area, according to the partners, which also include Repsol YPF SA. That's in the same block as the Carioca discovery in September, which Brazil's petroleum regulator said may contain as many as 33 billion barrels of oil...
Brazil has the renewable and the non-renewable energy we need, and they're as far from Wahhabi as it gets. We've been so obsessed with the crazy middle east, we totally ignore our own hemisphere.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at June 21, 2008 7:56 am
Patrick: The philosophical maundering of leading fascists do not define the condition or the pathology.
Political philosophy is defined by (drumroll) the political philosophy of the leaders of the ideology. So I disagree.
Fascism is a specific precise term that defines a particular political movement with certain attributes. The term was misused and overused by liberals and leftists in the sixties and seventies to label any authoritarian movement they disagreed with, and now the right is doing the same thing.
It dilutes the term. As fascism was one of the greatest challenges the west had to face in the last century, it's a shame to muddy the term in this way.
Vince: I can't stand these college types who think they know what fascism is and will bore us all with the same cliche definition we've heard a billion times already.
If we get to ignore political science and label things however we want, the left gets to say that Bush is a fascist and that the US is an imperialist power, and none of you college-going egghead conservatives can refute it. You okay with that? If so, then we're down to who can yell the loudest.
Fascism is a collectivist system which is usually implemented by a authoritarian state , headed by a dictator, with few civil rights especially in regards to anti-govt activity.
Because you say so? No. That definition seems tailored to your own biases rather than fit historical fact. Also, fascism was corporatist rather than collectivist. If it was collectivist, there would have been no private companies in Italy and Germany under the fascists.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 21, 2008 8:04 am
I'd suggest that we should treat the Sauds like we treat every other sorta-enemy. How would we have reacted if North Korea, Russia or China had financed an unprovoked paramilitary attack against American civilians that resulted in thousands of deaths? How would we react if Russian paramilitaries were killing thousands of our soldiers at the request of a prominent and recently justice minister?
Why are you asking me? I asked you. Twice.
Are you suggesting a military attack? If not, what?
Brazil has plenty of oil
Brazil's oil reserves are one or two decades from delivery, so their need for foreign oil remains pretty high.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 21, 2008 8:20 am
Brazil has the renewable and the non-renewable energy we need, and they're as far from Wahhabi as it gets. We've been so obsessed with the crazy middle east, we totally ignore our own hemisphere.
Huh? You ignore your own hemisphere? Where do you think most of your oil comes from?
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 21, 2008 8:24 am
Why are you asking me? I asked you. Twice.
Are you suggesting a military attack? If not, what?

What do you want, a 5 year plan with diagrams and schematics, an notarized appointment to present my master plan to the Pentagon? Why on earth are you getting so fussy about a completely theoretical discussion, prattle on the internet, a suggestion that people look at our alliances from a new point of view. I'm suggesting that you compare our alliance with Saudi Arabia to other alliances, maybe note the differences. If you don't feel like following my suggestion, don't.
Huh? You ignore your own hemisphere? Where do you think most of your oil comes from?
Exactly.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at June 21, 2008 8:53 am
Why on earth are you getting so fussy about a completely theoretical discussion...
Because you are being vague about what you actually want the US to do in regards to Saudi Arabia. Why are you avoiding answering the most basic question about what you're proposing?
Is military action against Saudi Arabia warranted or not? That isn't a request for a five year plan, it's a very simple question.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 21, 2008 9:10 am
Good news today is that we rolled up three senior Mahdi Army leaders. http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/06/three_senior_mahdi_a.php
They aren't really talking about rolling up Iranians, which I suspect means that either the Iranians have backed up behind the border, or they're disavowing all their people who're getting captured. This is really good news. Either we're rolling up people who have no reason not to talk, or the Iranians in control are as out of touch with reality as DPU's insistence on purity standards for use of the term Fascist.
One of the things we've done right in the Iraq war is keep the number of our people captured down. Part of that is our superior command and control. A lot of that is the increased insistence that we leave no man behind. Some of that is probably our troops reserving the last bullet for themselves. When I came back in the reserves, a guy I was going through orientation with mentioned that decision to me, since we were both going to units that were prone to deploy. It seemed odd to me that we were contemplating anti-Apache measures in the 21st century, but that was the best choice compared to being broken in torture and having your head cut off.
The upshot of our much more humane treatment of prisoners is that we capture a lot more of them than they do of us. That also means that we know a lot more about them than they know about us. Enough to describe the IRG as a bunch of fascist goons, for instance.
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at June 21, 2008 9:51 am
Either we're rolling up people who have no reason not to talk, or the Iranians in control are as out of touch with reality as DPU's insistence on purity standards for use of the term Fascist.
Well Patrick, you managed one comment without going ad hominem. Not bad, but I know you can do better. After all, insults are a sign that you don't have much of an argument, and we all know that you're an intelligent guy.
They aren't really talking about rolling up Iranians, which I suspect means that either the Iranians have backed up behind the border, or they're disavowing all their people who're getting captured.
Either that, or the Iraqi Special Forces and the Iraqi government are not going after Iranians.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 21, 2008 10:04 am
Is military action against Saudi Arabia warranted or not?
I think military action against Saudi Arabia has been warranted since 9/11, but who cares? That opinion and $2 will get you a ride on the subway. We're not going to storm into the KSA and arrest everyone who supports al Qaeda, we're not even going to even say a cross word to them, ever.
Right now, I think direct, open military action against the KSA would be a bad idea because it would destabilize the area in a negative way. Direct military action against Iran is a bad idea too, for the same reason. I think the best way to fight terrorism is to severely weaken these regimes, by targeting their intelligence agencies and financial support. If we were interested in fighting terrorism, that's what we'd already be doing.
The problem is, we're not interested in fighting terrorism. We, like the Russians and the Chinese, use terrorist groups and the nations that support them as weapons in the never-ending 'great game' in the Middle East.
When I was in Canada, I heard reports about Taliban attacks against Canadian troops. The Canadians noted that these Taliban were based in Pakistan, and they noted that Pakistan is part of the problem because they tolerate the Taliban.
Pakistan tolerates the Taliban because the Taliban keeps rebellious tribes like the Baluch in line. We don't take action against the Taliban because we don't want to upset our Pakistani and Saudi allies. We don't want to offend these allies because we think that, as you said, if we do, Russia and China will become our 'overlords'.
As long as we keep making these mistaken assumptions, and as long as we keep obsessing about these diplomatic games in the Middle East, terrorism will thrive.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at June 21, 2008 10:13 am
I think the best way to fight terrorism is to severely weaken these regimes, by targeting their intelligence agencies and financial support.
I'm not sure how one goes about weakening their intelligence agencies, but how would you weaken Saudi Arabia financially?
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 21, 2008 10:38 am
I'm not sure how one goes about weakening their intelligence agencies, but how would you weaken Saudi Arabia financially?
Well, that's why my opinions aren't worth all that much. I don't know a lot about how to do it, but the CIA does. That's why I was recommending that, if such a thing were to be done, it would be up them.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at June 21, 2008 10:46 am
DPU,
Either that, or the Iraqi Special Forces and the Iraqi government are not going after Iranians.
Given that GEN Petraeus has publicly stated that the Islamic Republic of Iran is a bad actor in this mess and that he's they guy giving orders to US SOCCOM, any abstention on the part of the Iraqi's will be more than made up for. The Iraqi Special Forces was trained and mentored by our SOCCOM, so even if one is not publicly announcing putting IRG coordinators in the jug, the other certainly is willing to quietly sequester the Qods force personnel who are captured.
I suspect we may be quietly disappearing captured IRG personnel, because that does a lot to instill doubt in their controllers. Even better is to detain the IRG members, never question them seriously, and release them publicly. So many cascade failures result from that action it is difficult to describe. The least worst thing to do in that circumstance is to retire the operative with full benefits immediately. All other options erode the long term strength of the organization more severely.
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at June 21, 2008 11:28 am
Does the ISF have greater loyalty to the US than to the Iraqi government?
As al-Dawa and SIIC are closely connected to the Iranian leadership, I'd have to wonder why they would direct their military to capture Iranians in Iraq.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 21, 2008 12:07 pm
Well, that's why my opinions aren't worth all that much. I don't know a lot about how to do it, but the CIA does.
Says who?
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 21, 2008 12:13 pm
As al-Dawa and SIIC are closely connected to the Iranian leadership
That's sort of like noting that the mujahideen in Afghanistan were closely connected to America, and concluding that Osama Bin Laden must therefore be a pawn of the U.S. Things change.
SCII/Dawa needed Iranian succor in the 1980s, but they have little use for the mullahs these days, who are now much more aligned with the Sadrists.
I'd have to wonder why they would direct their military to capture Iranians in Iraq.
Because Iran is fucking up their country, obviously.
Posted by: TallDave at June 21, 2008 7:56 pm
Either that, or the Iraqi Special Forces and the Iraqi government are not going after Iranians.
Oh, they are. That was explicitly given as the reason for the operation in Maysan -- to cut off the Iranian supply chain going to the Special Groups, who are generally "rogue" (wink-wink0 Sadrists.
Put yourself in SCII/Dawa's shoes. You won the elections and control $6B a month in oil revenue and 500,000 ISF. Your goals are the kind of peace abd security that will allow Iraq to become an ecnomic powerhouse, because that makes you stronger. Your major problem is Shia militais blowing things up or trying to carve out their own little fiefdoms (as they did in Basra), many of them using Iranian bombs and rockets (including many lobbed right at your legislature in the Green Zone). While you appreciate them supporting you against Saddam, the Iranians are now much more of a liability and nuisance than an asset or an ally.
The Iranians are happier with Maliki than Saddam, certainly. But the IRGC is actively fomenting rebellion against Maliki with the hope of creating another are like Shia Lebanon that they can dominate. That's really pissing in Maliki's cornflakes.
Posted by: TallDave at June 21, 2008 8:05 pm
That's sort of like noting that the mujahideen in Afghanistan were closely connected to America, and concluding that Osama Bin Laden must therefore be a pawn of the U.S.
No, but it is worth noting that al Dawa and the SIIC are virtual creations of the Mullocracy in Iran, and are bound to have sympathies. Things change, certainly. Al Dawa is no longer blowing up US embassies, for example. That doesn't mean that they will fall all over themselves attacking Iranian influence.
SCII/Dawa needed Iranian succor in the 1980s, but they have little use for the mullahs these days, who are now much more aligned with the Sadrists.
I keep hearing this assertion, but I see no evidence of that. But a reasonable test will be the results of the SOFA discussions in July. Iran wants the US out, so we'll see what the government decides.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 21, 2008 9:51 pm
I keep hearing this assertion, but I see no evidence of that.
Hmm? Well, try searching the MNF-Iraq site for "Iranian" and you'll get several hundred pieces of evidence. It always seems to be rogue Sadrist "Special Groups" that have Iranian arms, not Badrists (who, again, have no need of them).
Here's Roggio on the Maysan operation's Iranian link:
Maysan province is a strategic link for the Ramazan Corps, the Iranian military command set up by Qods Force to direct operations inside Iraq. Amarah serves as the Qods Force
Posted by: TallDave at June 22, 2008 10:30 am
Oops, link to McMaster's interview.
http://www.aei.org/events/filter.,eventID.1722/transcript.asp
Posted by: TallDave at June 22, 2008 10:31 am
So there are some rogue Badrists being supported by Iran, but Iran's main goal is to keep Maliki's Badr/SCII gov't weak while they create more HIzbollah-like militias.
As McMaster points out, they've been a little too clever for their own good. Rather than pushing Maliki into their arms, they're alienating Iraqis.
Posted by: TallDave at June 22, 2008 10:35 am
Well, I hope the US has a good set of game plans for follow-up on an Israeli strike on Iran's nuke/military infrastructure. It could be the opportunity to break that regime for good.
Posted by: Brian H at June 22, 2008 11:02 am
Hmm? Well, try searching the MNF-Iraq site for
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 22, 2008 1:12 pm
One, Canadians armed with illegal weapons are usually armed with US weapons. That doesn't mean that the US government is supplying them, just that weapons come across the border.
Canadians aren't firing mortars, rockets, and EFPs. Those are weapons that come from the state.
The problem is that Iran's system is not monolithic; as the StraetgyPage guys noted there are factions that pursue their own agendas. The Iranian moderates may actually be happy to see Maliki killing off the radicals.
http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/iraq/articles/20080609.aspx
One of the big losers in the last few months has been Iran. The hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the Iraqi Shia militias evaporated quickly when the Iraqi army and police moved into militia strongholds in Baghdad and Basra. Many militia leaders were taken alive, and they talked, often of the support they received from Iran. Lots of embarrassing documents, were captured, and Iraqi officials hand carried these to Iran recently, to demand that the Iranians stop this kind of mischief. The Iranians agreed, but privately pointed out that most of the trouble was caused by extremists inside the Iranian government (mainly the Quds Force and Revolutionary Guards units). These fanatics are largely beyond control by anyone, but the Iranians apparently allowed as how these thugs would not be missed by many inside Iran, and the Iraqis should kill as many of them as possible, please. The Iranian government doesn't want to harm the growing economic relations between the two countries, and terrorism kind of does that.
---
Why would they need Iraq to be weak?
Because they can dominate a weak Iraq, as they dominate Shia Lebanon because of that gov't's weakness.
And Iran isn't just supporting
Posted by: TallDave at June 22, 2008 3:58 pm
Canadians aren't firing mortars, rockets, and EFPs. Those are weapons that come from the state.
A reasonable point on the analogy, but rockets, mortars, and EFPs can and are provided on a non-state basis.
Because they can dominate a weak Iraq, as they dominate Shia Lebanon because of that gov't's weakness.
Lebanon's situation is different, in that the Shia likely form the majority of the population, but are underrepresented in government. If the Shia hold the majority of power in Iraq, Iran will benefit. And it's not like the Iraqi government isn't already close to Iran.
And we trained and equipped the mujahideen when we had a common enemy in the Soviets. When the SU fell and we were no longer useful to them, we became their enemies
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 22, 2008 4:17 pm
A reasonable point on the analogy, but rockets, mortars, and EFPs can and are provided on a non-state basis.
Probably not in this case. All indications are state elements are responsible.
Lebanon's situation is different, in that the Shia likely form the majority of the population, but are underrepresented in government.
Sure, but Lebanon's byzantine allocation system isn't especially relevant to Iran's arming Hizbollah proxies to dominate politics there and fire rockets into Israel.
And it's not like the Iraqi government isn't already close to Iran.
Sure, as liberal democracies generally do Iraq's leadership wants good relations with its larger neighbor, who is a major trading partner and a huge source of commerce during the annual prilgrimages millions of Iranians to Najaf.
As I said, a reasonable test will be the outcome of the SOFA discussions.
Agreed.
Posted by: TallDave at June 22, 2008 4:36 pm
DPU: Lebanon's situation is different, in that the Shia likely form the majority of the population
There is no alternate universe where the Shia are the majority in Lebanon. Not even Hassan Nasrallah is bold enough to make that claim. Some of his supporters on the Internet try to fool people outside the country into thinking so, but it's complete crap.
There hasn't been a census inside Lebanon since the 1930s.
Some studies show that the Shia are the largest minority, and others show that Christians or Sunnis are the largest minority. Everyone likes to claim their numbers are bigger than they really are. The truth is nobody knows and no source is reliable. But it's obvious -- and I mean obvious -- if you drive around this tiny country and know what demographic area you're looking at that there is no majority.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 22, 2008 5:15 pm
There hasn't been a census inside Lebanon since the 1930s.
I read the other day Iraq will hold its first real census in decades next year. That's another country where demographics are disputed.
There was an oddity in the February D3 Systems poll in Iraq; iirc they weighted Sunni Arabs as 35% of the population, and another earlier survey had them even higher; most estimates put them around 10-20%. My speculation is they probably used a local Sunni firm.
Posted by: TallDave at June 22, 2008 5:33 pm
There hasn't been a census inside Lebanon since the 1930s.
Then, as you say, one can't say one way or the other, can they?
But the fact that certain groups oppose a new census is interesting.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 22, 2008 6:42 pm
Then, as you say, one can't say one way or the other, can they?
It's obvious if you have ever been to Lebanon and traveled around that Shias aren't the majority there. I mean, it's really really obvious. Not even Hezbollah makes such a ludicrous claim, so try to disabuse yourself of it.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 22, 2008 7:42 pm
DPU: But the fact that certain groups oppose a new census is interesting.
Everyone has long feared a census because it would no longer be possible to artificially inflate the numbers of your own sect.
Hezbollah likes to exagerrate more than anyone else, but they all do it. I doubt Nasrallah actually wants a census, but many of his rabid fans do because they have convinced themselves that they're the largest. Maybe they are, but maybe not, and if they are the largest they are not by a large percentage. The Hezbollah-supporters who have worked themselves up into a pro-census lather are quite likely to find themselves disappointed if they ever get what they're asking for -- especially the idiots who have strangely convinced themselves that they're the absolute majority.
Most Lebanese never travel around the whole country. Those who believe they outnumber everyone else really ought to get out more often and take a good look around.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 22, 2008 7:49 pm
Not even Hezbollah makes such a ludicrous claim, so try to disabuse yourself of it.
Actually, I misremembered some stats (Muslims likely form a majority in Lebanon, not Shia), so thanks for the correction.
As for driving around, I doubt that I could estimate the population of ethnic Chinese in Vancouver by driving around in it, and I live here. A census of some sort is required.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 23, 2008 10:18 am
Uh, a census in Lebanon, that is. We've already had a census in Vancouver (about 30% are ethnic Chinese).
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 23, 2008 10:20 am
DPU: I doubt that I could estimate the population of ethnic Chinese in Vancouver by driving around in it, and I live here. A census of some sort is required.
That's true. I was trying to think of an example you could relate to, but it's harder in BC than in Lebanon.
In Lebanon it's easy if you know the territorial markings of each sect -- flags, political posters, etc. It's obvious who lives where and how much space they take up.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 23, 2008 10:52 am
DPU: Muslims likely form a majority in Lebanon, not Shia
Yes, that's right.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 23, 2008 10:53 am
S. Korea had LONG time under (leftist hated) authoritarian generals
Their authoritarianism wasn't as bad as sis sometimes made out. The first thing we did in S Korea was set up freedom of the press, and every regime held elections within a reasonable timeframe (even the military coup, which at the time was seen as a stopgap against Communist takeover).
Rhee's authoritarianism has to be viewd in context; this was after all around the time FDR had interned 100,000 American citizens without trial or even charges; today, you can't even do that to Al Qaeda terrorists.
Posted by: TallDave at June 25, 2008 6:22 pm
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