Iraq’s Coming Civil War? DoD Under Pressure from Maliki Cuts Off Jordanian/Sunni Supply Routes into Iraq?

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Iraq Jordan Border Iraq Bids You Farewell.jpg
As Iraq tilts towards March 7th elections, there are disconcerting trends unfolding inside the Maliki-run government that portend serious problems and potentially civil war in the not distant future.
Iraq expert and military affairs specialist Tom Ricks recently commented on Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room on CNN that he believed that there was a 50-50 chance Iraq would erupt in civil war, and a 10-15% chance that the growing tensions in and around Iraq could become a regional war involving several of the other major states around Iraq.
maliki.jpgPart of the growing trouble inside Iraq stems from the growing sense that politically empowered Shiites in the Iraq Government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are still carrying on campaigns against Sunni political interests.
Recently, more than 500 Sunnis were blacklisted from participating in the coming elections — many of them former Baathists who have renounced their allegiance to the Ba’ath party and who have declared their loyalty to the Iraq Constitution.
In addition, The Palestine Note has reported and intelligence sources have confirmed to this writer that the Department of Defense is cutting off all supply convoys via the western corridor into Iraq to supply US forces in Iraq. Reportedly, the Iraqi government has stopped providing needed security from its forces along the convoy routes that the suppliers use.
abdullah_jordan.jpgSources with whom I have spoken state that this cutoff of the supply route is designed to punish Sunni Iraqis in Western Iraq and in Jordan, and to punish the Jordanian government for its efforts to check Iran’s influence in the region.
The Department of Defense has not at the time of writing responded to calls about this closure of the Jordan-based supply routes.
The suppliers to US forces from Jordan are primarily Sunni-dominant business interests that Prime Minister Maliki and his political and business allies, including Iranian interests, want to squeeze off.
There are approximately 700,000 Iraqi refugees, overwhelmingly Sunni, now residing in Jordan because of violence, targeted kidnappings, and the previous ethnic cleansing and retribution campaigns inside Iraq.
From the Palestine Note:

According to sources inside Jordan, these vital convoys bringing food, fuel, and other supplies from the Hashemite Kingdom to the U.S. forces deployed in Iraq are being terminated effective immediately.
Jordan was the essential route for the lion’s share of goods into Iraq which provided goods to the Iraqi people. These goods also gave a commercial and economic injection into the Jordanian economy.
“Is it just a bureaucratic decision by the Pentagon as the war winds down? or Is this decision being driven and influenced by Iraqi PM Maliki and Ahmad Chalabi,” said one source who asked to remain anonymous.
Ahmed_Chalabi.jpgChalabi is an Iraqi politician who served as the interim oil minister and deputy prime minister in Iraq. Chalabi, a former Deputy Prime Minister who was once dubbed as “George Washington of Iraq” but has fallen out of favor, is currently under investigation by several U.S. government sources.

When I called to ask what role Chalabi was allegedly playing in what is officially a DoD action to suspend the Jordanian supply route into Iraq, a leading Sunni political figure reported to me that Chalabi has maintained good connections with Prime Minister Maliki, is working with Iranian government interests, and wants to secure the “supply business” for related friends and allies.
The Department of Defense’s action, whether animated or not by Maliki as has been asserted, contribute to a sense that the onramps to Sunni political and economic integration into what Iraq is becoming are being eroded or cut off.
The Kurds seem to be watching with interest — happy to be supportive if the Iraq political enterprise works and happy to pull back if the Sunnis and Shia ultimately find themselves unable to co-exist.
Last week, the International Institute for Strategic Studies in DC hosted Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani at an off the record meeting. Barzani’s comments cannot be offered here. However, in subsequent private discussions, some members of the team expressed overall confidence in the upcoming election process and appreciation for the American role in moving these key elections forward.
Those positives aside, some members of the delegation view with great concern the growing tensions between Sunni and Shia parties, the ongoing intervention inside Iraq by countries in the region, and the barring of otherwise legitimate Sunni political leaders who should not be kept out of the process given the criteria all had agreed to.
The Iraq pot seems to be getting back to a boil.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

48 comments on “Iraq’s Coming Civil War? DoD Under Pressure from Maliki Cuts Off Jordanian/Sunni Supply Routes into Iraq?

  1. Jeb Miller says:

    Steve — I’m not sure if you understood my comment earlier. The USA Today article you cited in your post said the JAC banned “more than 500 candidates with ties to the banned Baath Party . . . Most of the purged candidates are Shiites, but the most prominent are Sunnis, including Saleh Mutlak, a member of the parliament.”
    You wrote “[r]ecently, more than 500 Sunnis were blacklisted from participating in the coming elections . . .”
    If I understand things correctly, approximately 511 total candidates were banned. Most of them (read at least 256)were Shia. Sunni’s, Christians and others would presumably make up the approximately 255 other banned candidates.
    All this info was available before you wrote your post or met with any very important politicians like VP al-Hashimi. I still can’t understand how you arrive at your claim that “500 Sunnis were blacklisted.”

    Reply

  2. Steve Clemons says:

    Jeb Miller — When I wrote the article, the 500 Sunni candidates had been banned. The underlying article, in contrast to what you say, makes the same clear. Since the time I wrote this article, a few of the candidates have been reinstated — but on the whole there continues to be a standoff between the Commission which tried to exclude them and which is run by Ahmed Chalabi and the government. I appreciate your call for accuracy, but the situation remains fluid — and my article was accurate when written. I had dinner the day I wrote this with a Vice President of Iraq, and my information was then up to date. Since then is a different story. Thanks, steve clemons

    Reply

  3. Jeb Miller says:

    Mistake in your reporting. You write: “more than 500 Sunnis were blacklisted from participating in the coming elections.” Recent events, of course, have changed the situation significantly. However, you claim that 500 Sunni’s were blacklisted. That isn’t the case. Even the linked story (published on 1/31) you use to backup the claim says that the majority of those banned were Shia. Readers expect the highest standards of accuracy from you. Please correct.
    [see my note. Best regards, Steve Clemons]

    Reply

  4. Paul Norheim says:

    “Saying that he hopes for a “final solution” for the Palestinians is a bit extreme as far as my reading of him goes–though I will admit that some of what you quoted would seem to point in that
    direction.”
    I should have been more clear in my comment, Sweetness. I don’t think at all that WigWag wants a Holocaust for the Palestinians – far from it. But a “final solution” of the “Jewish problem” once contained suggestions to send them to Madagascar, etc. In that sense, WigWag goes even further with her allusions to Dresden etc. And she regards “the Palestinians” as the problem here, while I personally see the problem as two-sided.

    Reply

  5. Sweetness says:

    Ah, well, as to Wig’s penchant for Endlosung or his overarching
    theory of history, I’m not so sure. He also said this above…
    [WigWag] “I’m quite sure that you are right about this; nothing
    lasts forever. Everything changes. Hopefully the arc of history
    moves in the direction of increasing enlightenment and
    pluralism.”
    We all say contradictory things and I have been away for a while.
    But putting all that I’ve read of him–I, not you–into the old
    “thinkolator,” I’d have to say that Wig is mostly a pessimist, or a
    pessimistic realist. Relentless pessimism is not something that a
    Jew is supposed to be allowed. Ultimately, it’s a cop out.
    Saying that he hopes for a “final solution” for the Palestinians is
    a bit extreme as far as my reading of him goes–though I will
    admit that some of what you quoted would seem to point in that
    direction. But the fact that he includes the Jews as people who
    are now better off after a thorough “cleansing” suggests (to me
    at least) that he is being intentionally provocative–pushing the
    envelope in discussion.
    I know that’s ethnocentric of me, but we know Wig cares about
    the Jewish people. And no one who cared about the Jewish
    people would SERIOUSLY suggest that they are better off for
    having gone through the Holocaust. Yes, Israel is a direct result
    of that event, but I can’t imagine anyone saying that the Israel
    was “worth it”–though I’m sure someone, somewhere has.
    And he or she was probably a Jew!
    Truth is, as you can probably tell, I’m biased toward Wig even
    though there are many things on which we disagree. I like that
    he’s informed and willing to swim against the current on these
    comments, and makes well-thought-out arguments.
    Here I am, five or so posts later. What did Al Pacino say in
    Godfather III–Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in!

    Reply

  6. Paul Norheim says:

    I agree. And I sincerely doubt that America is the sole product of historical
    necessity. In my view, some of the most amazing aspects of the United States ridicule a
    whole library of timeless parables as well.
    I would also assume that there were plenty of singular, random, accidental
    circumstances among the factors that made the extraordinary cultural, philosophical,
    and scientific achievements in Europe possible from, say the 15th to mid 20th century -
    as well as the European hegemony. Although there are obvious long lines and continuity
    as well in all of this.
    As I think I said in the thread above this one, I regard some of WigWag’s perspectives
    expressed on this thread, as an attempt to sketch out an overarching historical theory,
    that may not only illuminate her position on the events in Iraq, but also explain and
    legitimate her suggestion for an “Endlosung” (Final Solution) of the “Palestinian
    problem”.

    Reply

  7. Sweetness says:

    I see your point, Paul, about the “eternal law” stuff. I hadn’t
    remembered Wig saying that. Either way, he’s pretty certain of the
    way things will or need to be. History would appear to be on his
    side, but I don’t think it HAS to be that way. I guess I’m more of an
    existentialist than a Hegelian. I can get gloomy, but I don’t believe
    in preordination or historical necessity.

    Reply

  8. Paul Norheim says:

    Sweetness, thanks for your “brief comments” ( wonder how the long version of your post
    would look like :)).
    In the discussion between WigWag and me, there is a certain irony in the fact that the
    American participant is in favor of the European model, while the European favors the
    American model. And now you, another American, support the European ideal…
    You really have some good points regarding the unique circumstances behind the creation
    of the United States – as well as your point that “most peoples and nations live cheek
    by jowl with their neighbors, like the European nations” – with no ability or wish to
    escape their homeland. This is obvious, and I’m sure WigWag will agree with this as
    well. On the other hand there have been huge wells of immigration to Europe as well
    during the last 50 years – so we have to adapt to this fact one way or another.
    There is plenty of food for thought in your comments, and I agree with a lot of what you
    say (about oil and the definition of “national interest” (BTW I rarely agree with those
    who use oil as the sole explanation of certain events, like the Iraq war, so I think
    this was a minor misunderstanding between W. and me); about the implications of massive
    US support for Kurdish nationalism etc…)
    I’m too tired right now to comment in further detail on your post, but let me address
    just one thing:
    You said: “I don’t think Wig means to posit eternal laws, but rather paint a picture of
    what is and is likely to be for a long, in his opinion. So your thrust there misses the
    mark, IMO. Straw man.”
    I’m not sure what exactly you’re referring to here, Sweetness, but perhaps you are
    unaware of what I am referring to as well?
    Here is a short excerpt from the discussion on the thread above this:
    ———————————————————————
    POSTED BY MARCUS:
    “Feb 01 2010, 8:30PM – Link
    A little story about the birth of countries
    (israel included)
    A traveller comes across a beautiful homestead,with water and trees-he likes it. He goes
    up to the house and knocks on the front door,the homeowner comes out to the porch and
    asks the traveller what he wants
    The traveller asks him who”s property is this ?
    the homeowner says it”s mine
    And how did you get it ? he ansewrs, It was my Father”s, he left it to me when he passed
    away.
    And who owned it before your father? the traveller asked.
    Why, my Grandfather did. And how did your grandfather get it ?
    Oh well,he fought for it !
    The traveller looks around,he strokes his chin thoughtfully,then turns to the homeowner
    and say”s Okay, I”ll fight YOU for it !
    (…)
    POSTED BY WIGWAG:
    Feb 01 2010, 9:12PM – Link
    Of course, the parable Marcus shared with us is irrefutable; it would be very
    interesting and entertaining to watch any attempt to refute it. Marcus gives us the
    unalterable and undeniable story of human history. It won’t be changing any time soon.
    In fact, it will never change.”
    —————————————————————-
    I remember alluding to this several times in my discussion with WigWag – perhaps that’s
    what you referred to?
    The point of approving this “timeless” parable is of course that in WigWag’s view,
    conflicts like the one between Israel and the Palestinians are settled through wars, and
    the winner defines the premises of a settlement of the conflict. It has always been like
    this, and it will never change. To suggest other solutions (like you and I would prefer
    to do) would actually be more brutal than the total and devastating Israeli victory over
    the Palestinians that WigWag supports.
    According to WigWag.
    I think this is the essence of the “eternal laws” stuff – and I doubt that I used a
    straw man there. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

    Reply

  9. Sweetness says:

    Paul, thanks for directing me to this discussion. Just a few brief
    comments…
    • Wigwag does appear to be callous to the human cost of a
    Shia-Sunni civil war, but I don’t think he thinks America should
    enable it. He thinks that America can do little to stop it. So call
    him a realist. There is a kind of mercy inside realism.
    • Wigwag does underestimate (dangerously, I think) the impact
    that such a war would have on America and who knows whom
    else as it spread (if it spread). So he may be guilty of fiddling
    while Rome burns, but he doesn’t want Rome to burn.
    • Wig is right about the irony of referring to “oil” as an American
    interest. Folks often say, “Why is Israel our ally; they don’t even
    have oil, for god’s sake!” Kinda mercenary…or realist. But there
    is a chink in leftist thinking there. Being an ally of ours should
    be about more than just what a country can give us.
    • I’m perplexed by Wig’s willingness to enrage Turkey over a
    potential Kurdistan in that Turkey has always been a good US
    ally (AFAIK) and, actually, a pretty good partner for Israel in a
    number of ways. Every country has it’s Achilles heel (or two),
    and the Kurds and Armenians (before) have been Turkeys.
    America wiped out most of ours a long time ago, but the Latinos
    are sloshing back on shore.
    • Not sure if the Kurds “deserve” a homeland, or if anyone can
    be said to “deserve” one. But they surely want one, and they
    have occupied that land for a LONG time (which, apparently, is
    the Palestinians big claim to fame). I think simply stationing US
    troops in current Kurdistan and enabling them to break away
    from Iraq and encouraging other breakaway Kurdish regions in
    Iran, Turkey, and Syria WOULD ignite a wider war and isn’t
    justified by Kurdish desires or “rights” to a homeland.
    • I don’t think Wig means to posit eternal laws, but rather paint
    a picture of what is and is likely to be for a long, in his opinion.
    So your thrust there misses the mark, IMO. Straw man.
    • I think Wig has the better argument about whether Europe or
    America should be the model for others. It’s true that America
    is the ideal that rings out. For one thing, it has a singular and
    famous history with equally singular and famous founders and
    founding documents. Europe is a lot more diverse and messier,
    which should be its attraction and relevance for a diverse and
    messy world.
    America is primarily the place where you went to get a “fresh
    start.” People physically lifted themselves up and moved away
    from ancient and oppressive and tradition- bound environments
    to reinvent themselves in the new world. The Shia and Sunni
    can’t do that; where are they going to go? They don’t even want
    to go anywhere; they WANT to stay where they’ve always been.
    And that’s really true of most of the people of the world when
    you think about it. Most liberation movements are rooted in
    place and in the idea that a particular people has always lived
    on a particular piece of land. Most often they are trying to
    dislodge “newly arrived” interlopers. They aren’t trying to make
    a fresh start; they’re trying to get rid of the foreigners who have
    no right to their land and get back to what has “always been.”
    America was blessed and barbaric in its founding. It was able to
    exterminate the native people. There was plenty of room to
    cage up to the remnants in little bantustans called reservations.
    And that was it. No one complains, really. It’s a fait accompli.
    Plus, the Injuns were displaced by the very people we admire!
    Like GW and TJ and Lincoln. There were some troubles with the
    Spanish, who never posed much of a threat. Canada, well…
    Beyond that, there were two wide oceans. Huge amounts of
    room. No hostile neighbors, to speak of. Untold wealth in the
    land. No other place on earth has that combination of good
    fortune. Had the founders decided to emigrate to Palestine or
    Ireland or Iceland, a whole different history would have
    unfolded.
    No, most peoples and nations live cheek by jowl with their
    neighbors, like the European nations. They’ve been there for
    eons. They don’t want to go anywhere. There’s no other place
    for them to go. They are attached to their land as the
    Palestinians tell us (and the Israelis, too). Their task is to find
    their commonality and learn to live side by side with each other
    and cooperate.
    • I do think that the US Constitution does offer a great model
    for the internal governance of other countries. If these countries
    are able to truly live out the ideals in the Constitution, then they
    could become magnets for peoples from more oppressive lands.
    But I doubt that those attracting nations are going to welcome
    the stranger the way America did. (We already see that Italy and
    Switzerland aren’t crazy about those minarets.) For one thing,
    they don’t have the land and wealth. Norway and England and
    even France are small places. They probably fit inside Texas, or
    Alaska anyway. And they all lack the tradition of being the place
    where one goes to get a fresh start. So the Constitution, as a
    model, has the potential for improving the lives of people living
    in Poland, or Sri Lanka, or Thailand, but I don’t think we’re going
    to see the mass emigration to those places that we saw with
    America–not any time soon, at least.
    There are huge pieces of the American dream that are simply
    historical accident, IMO. Place, timing, people.

    Reply

  10. larry birnbaum says:

    So now it appears the Sunni candidates will in fact be allowed to run in the Iraqi elections next month. This of course doesn’t assure that Iraq’s politics will become normal, i.e., settle down towards the usual horse-trading among the various interests, economic, regional, ethnic, religious, and otherwise.
    I’m not terribly confident myself. I used to think Iraq had a 30% chance of surviving the pullout of US troops without a full-scale civil war. Let’s say it’s now 50%. Maybe higher. Still those odds are pretty scary.
    I’m sure Mr. Clemons hopes that Iraq avoids the worst. Yet the somewhat breathless tone of the post gives me pause. And Palestine Note… is that an Arab version of debkafile?

    Reply

  11. David says:

    Again, Paul, thanks for these two posts.

    Reply

  12. Paul Norheim says:

    Here is an excerpt from Herder’s “Materials for the Philosophy of the History of Mankind” (1784-91):
    “Nature brings forth families; the most natural state therefore is also one people, with a national
    character of its own. For thousands of years this character preserves itself within the people and,
    if the native princes concern themselves with it, it can be cultivated in the most natural way: for
    a people is as much a plant of nature as is a family, except that it has more branches. Nothing
    therefore seems more contradictory to the true end of governments than the endless expansion of
    states, the wild confusion of races and nations under one scepter. An empire made up of a hundred
    peoples and a 120 provinces which have been forced together is a monstrosity, not a state-body.
    What is the supreme law which we note in all great historical events? In my opinion, it is this:
    that, in every part of our earth, all possible development is determined in part by the position and
    the necessities of the locality, in part by circumstances and the opportunities of the age, and in
    part by the inborn and self-nourishing character of the peoples…. All events in the human sphere,
    like all productions of nature, are decreed solely by time, locality, and national character, in
    short by the coordination of all the forces of life in their most positive individuality.
    Active human powers are the springs of human history, and, as man originates from and in one race,
    so his body, education, and mode of thinking are genetic. Hence that striking national character,
    which, deeply imprinted on the most ancient peoples, is unequivocally displayed in all their
    operations on the earth. As the mineral water derives its component parts, its operative power, and
    its flavor from the soil through which it flows, so the ancient character of peoples arose from the
    family features, the climate, the way of life and education, the early actions and employments, that
    were peculiar to them. The manners of the fathers took deep root and became the internal prototype
    of the descendants. The mode of thinking of the Jews, which is best known to us from their writings
    and actions, may serve as an example: both in the land of their fathers and in the midst of other
    nations they remain as they were, and even when mixed with other peoples they may be distinguished
    for some generations onward. It was and is the same with all other peoples of antiquity—Egyptians,
    Chinese, Arabs, Hindus, etc. The more secluded they lived, nay frequently the more they were
    oppressed, the more their character was confirmed, so that, if every one of these nations had
    remained in its place, the earth might have been regarded as a garden where in one plot one human
    national plant, in another, another, bloomed in its proper form and nature, where in this corner one
    kind of national animal, in that, another, pursued its course according to its instincts and
    character….
    Has a people anything dearer than the speech of its fathers? In its speech resides its whole
    thought-domain, its tradition, history, religion, and basis of life, all its heart and soul. To
    deprive a people of its speech is to deprive it of its one eternal good…. As God tolerates all the
    different languages in the world, so also should a ruler not only tolerate but honor the various
    languages of his peoples…. The best culture of a people cannot be expressed through a foreign
    language; it thrives on the soil of a nation most beautifully, and, I may say, it thrives only by
    means of the nation’s inherited and inheritable dialect. With language is created the heart of a
    people; and is it not a high concern, amongst so many peoples—Hungarians, Slavs, Rumanians, etc.–
    -to plant seeds of well-being for the far future and in the way that is dearest and most appropriate
    to them? . . .
    The savage who loves himself, his wife, and his child with quiet joy and glows with limited activity
    for his tribe as for his own life is, it seems to me, a more genuine being than that cultured shade
    who is enchanted by the shadow of his whole species…. In his poor hut, the former finds room for
    every stranger, receives him as a brother with impartial good humor and never asks whence he came.
    The inundated heart of the idle cosmopolitan is a home for no one….
    No greater injury can be inflicted on a nation than to be robbed of her national character, the
    peculiarity of her spirit and her language. Reflect on this and you will perceive our irreparable
    loss. Look about you in Germany for the character of the nation, for their own particular cast of
    thought, for their own peculiar vein of speech; where are they? Read Tacitus; there you will find
    their character: “The tribes of Germany, who never degrade themselves by mingling with others, form
    a peculiar, unadulterated, original nation, which is its own archetype. Even their physical
    development is universally uniform, despite the large numbers of the people,” and so forth. Now look
    about you and say: “The tribes of Germany have been degraded by mingling with others; they have
    sacrificed their natural disposition in protracted intellectual servitude; and, since they have, in
    contrast to others, imitated a tyrannical prototype for a long time, they are, among all the nations
    of Europe, the least true to themselves.”. . .
    ————————————————————–
    Millions of Arabs, Jews, Norwegians, Germans, and others would recognize and agree with these words
    - even today. Personally, I identify more with the “idle cosmopolitan”, and prefer inauthentic
    discussions of these matters in a foreign language…

    Reply

  13. Paul Norheim says:

    As you know, WigWag, Wikipedia can be so and so, but I stumbled upon an article there
    about “Nationalism” (which popped up first when I just googled that word + Herder), that
    was actually quite good. The following passage from that article somehow seems to
    support both your and my view:
    “Nationalism generally involves the identification of an ethnic identity with a state.
    The subject can include the belief that one’s nation is of primary importance. It is
    also used to describe a movement to establish or protect a homeland (usually an
    autonomous state) for an ethnic group. In some cases the identification of a homogeneous
    national culture is combined with a negative view of other races or cultures.
    In former eras, people were generally loyal to a city or to a particular leader rather
    than to their nation. Encyclopedia Britannica identifies the movement’s genesis with the
    late-18th century American Revolution and French Revolution; other historians point
    specifically to the ultra-nationalist party in France during the French Revolution.
    Nationalism is sometimes reactionary, calling for a return to an idealized version of
    the national past and sometimes for the expulsion of foreigners. Other forms of
    nationalism are revolutionary, calling for the establishment of an independent state as
    a homeland for an ethnic underclass.
    Nationalism emphasises collective identity – a ‘people’ must be autonomous, united, and
    express a single national culture. However, some nationalists stress individualism as an
    important part of their own national identity.
    The term was coined by Johann Gottfried Herder (nationalismus) during the late 1770s.
    Precisely where and when nationalism emerged is difficult to determine, but its
    development is closely related to that of the modern state and the push for popular
    sovereignty that came to a head with the French Revolution and the American Revolution
    in the late 18th century. Since that time, nationalism has become one of the most
    significant political and social forces in history, perhaps most notably as a major
    influence or postulate of World War I and especially World War II. Fascism, which
    stresses absolute loyalty and obedience, and the idea that one nation, race, or group is
    naturally superior to all others, and has a right to conquer or exterminate inferior
    nations, races, or groups, is an extreme form of nationalism.”
    etc….
    ———————————————————————
    I’m often inclined to think that nationalism represent a reaction to modernity and
    enlightenment, and tend to put Thomas Jefferson and his contemporaries on both sides of
    the Atlantic ocean in the “enlightenment” camp – contrary to nationalism a la Herder.
    This is of course a gross simplification of the issue. Nationalism can be both deeply
    reactionary and progressive.
    If Woodrow Wilson shall be credited as a “father” of this movement, you have to admit
    that he came rather late into the family. He certainly inspired and influenced
    nationalistic movements and young nations at the time (and disappointed some older ones,
    like Ethiopia after the Italian invasion).
    Of course the American encouragement of national aspirations and anti-colonialism must
    also be seen in the context of the American-European rivalry – but that doesn’t diminish
    Wilson’s efforts, nor Roosevelt or other American presidents.
    I think the significance of Herder is how he linked people, language, art, culture, and
    nation into one inseparable “organic” unity – as if “Volksgeist” was some sort of
    mystical community, and as if the arts, languages and laws were direct expressions of
    that mystical and unique spirit. This has inspired popular movements in quasi religious
    ways, often in contrast to the ideals of enlightenment – except for the fact that they
    usually fought against an oppressor.
    Although I realize that nationalism has been “progressive” in several circumstances, I
    have to admit that I personally regard it as just another “phantasmagorical delusion” -
    or an “imagined community”, to borrow a title from a famous book about the subject.

    Reply

  14. WigWag says:

    One other little thing, Paul.
    You credit Johann Gottfried von Herder as one of the “fathers” of the concept of nationalism; but lets give credit where credit is due (or blame where blame is due). Two Americans had alot to do with instilling a passion for nationalism.
    Thomas Jefferson announced that “all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights…” Woodrow Wilson insisted consistently that all people are entitled to “self-determination.” Put the two together and you have what in many ways became the bedrock of modern nationalism.
    I recently had the inclination to re-read Wilson’s 14 Points speech. In a certain respect, the modern world for better or for worse began right then and there.

    Reply

  15. WigWag says:

    “None of us, WigWag, will live long enough to see how this ends, but I doubt that Herder’s concept of the nation state, that inspired Norway, Nazism, Zionism, and different Palestinian groups, just to mention some examples, is the last word on this issue.” (Paul Norheim)
    I’m quite sure that you are right about this; nothing lasts forever. Everything changes. Hopefully the arc of history moves in the direction of increasing enlightenment and pluralism. My reading of history suggests that it does, with alot of bumps and bruises along the way. But, as you said, none of us commenting at this blog will be around long enough to find out.
    I do think that you underestimate the power that the sorting I referred to has for moving international relations in a thoroughly positive direction. For centuries Europe was bitterly divided and suffered from numerous horrible wars. Despite the desires of the British, Hapsburgs and Ottoman Turks, no single nation or empire was strong enough to unite Europe by force of arms. Only after two horrendous World Wars was Europe able to largely complete it process of sorting itself by religion, ethnicity and language. The legacy of that sorting process has been extraordinarily positive; it has enhanced liberalism to a degree almost unimaginable.
    Now that most European nations are united primarily by feelings of kinship, Europe is able to contemplate something , at long last, that was impossible even a century ago; a united continent. Eternal enemies like France, Germany and Great Britain now make up the bedrock of a united Europe. Former nations that once spent their time and resources battling each other like the Serbians and Croatians are now battling to get into the Union; they are fighting to join the EU as sister nations instead of opposing each other as bitter adversaries.
    This is remarkable. But a necessary prerequisite was for each nation to sit under its own vine and fig tree first.
    In many respects the European example and the American example you cited in one of your earlier posts are diametrically opposed. The American philosophy is “from many people, one.” The European example is for sister nations to maintain their own language, cultural heritage, religious beliefs and national histories but voluntarily join together for the common good.
    To my mind, the European model is the only one that has any chance of working in the rest of the world. I can’t see Israelis and Palestinians or Shia, Sunni and Kurds in Iraq or Chechnyans and Russians giving up their cultural and national autonomy to merge with their hated rivals. At the very least, there’s little reason to believe that the type of reconciliation that would be required would take less than centuries to achieve.
    On the other hand, once these rival national groups feel secure within their own nation-states, voluntary affinity within their geographic regions should be as achievable for them as it was for the Europeans. It’s a process that could be accomplished in decades, not centuries.
    Paradoxically promoting the type of sorting that Europeans engaged in for 150 years is profoundly progressive; it promotes peace, prosperity, tolerance and reconciliation.
    The rest of the world needs to follow Europe’s lead on this not America’s. As it was in Europe, the sorting process will be ugly, gut-wrenching, unfair and infuriating; there will be winners who get most of what they want and losers who get little of what they want. The process will be imperfect and it will never be complete.
    But if nations like Iraq (the original subject of this post)go through this process along with their neighbors, there is precedent to suggest that it will set them on their way to a more peaceful and prosperous future.
    That’s what progressive people, and most importantly, progressive political leaders should be working to achieve.
    It’s far more productive than engaging in phantasmagorical delusions. Unfortunately people who think that they are progressive-minded all too often prefer the delusions to opting for solutions that might actually accomplish something.

    Reply

  16. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag,
    your quote is in Danish (almost the same as Norwegian), reporting that a member of
    one individual member of the Labor party (one of the government parties) suggests
    to ban the burka. It also says that this issue has not been discussed within her
    party, and that the other parties in the governing coalition, as well as the
    conservative party, is against it, while “Fremskrittspartiet” (The Progressive
    Party), a populist right wing party, agrees with her. Nothing new here, but this
    may of course change.

    Reply

  17. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag,
    you seem to base your views on the assumption that nationalism – i.e. the concept that
    nations should be organized as homogenous ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural
    entities – is founded on timeless wisdom that perfectly confirms to human nature, as if
    America is the sole exception to the eternal rule regulating societies.
    But nationalism is far from a timeless idea! Like so many bad, half bad, even brilliant
    ideas, the concept of nationalism was invented by a European: Johann Gottfried von
    Herder (1744-1803). As you know, concepts like the enlightenment, conservatism, racism,
    marxism, anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, social-democracy, nihilism, nazism, fascism,
    the (Catholic) church, to a certain degree also feminism, are European ideas that have
    spread all over the world, developed in often unexpected directions and all in all done
    much harm and some good.
    Some of the above mentioned ideas are easily combined with Herder’s concept of the
    Volksgeist (spirit of the people); others are not, and some challenge or transcend this
    concept. Among the latter, one may especially mention the Enlightenment, Marxism, and
    the Church, as powerful ideas that conceptually transcend, sometimes even undermine the
    modern European concept of the nation state. The Muslim equivalent to the Church, the
    Umma, as well as the much older concept of Empire, are other obvious examples of
    concepts transcending the homogenous nation state, just like the concept of being a Jew
    transcends the concept of Israeli citizenship.
    Pan Arabism is another example of a (failed) attempt to transcend ethnic and other
    tensions in the Arab world, just like the European Union and the African Union are
    relatively fresh attempts to transcend nationalism – models that have found inspiration
    not only from their own continent, but also from the American experiment.
    None of us, WigWag, will live long enough to see how this ends, but I doubt that
    Herder’s concept of the nation state, that inspired Norway, Nazism, Zionism, and
    different Palestinian groups, just to mention some examples, is the last word on this
    issue.
    Have you ever read the first pages of Marx’s Manifest? They contain a brilliant
    description of globalization – most of it would be considered as accurate if it was
    written today. This was written during the birth of European nationalism (mid 1850′s).
    Which makes sense. We still live during dramatic and confusing transformations – and
    identity is still a buzz word. The Arab world, just like Africa, was until recently
    organized according to the will of the European colonialists and several empires. And
    later America has tried – to a large extent unsuccessfully – to impose its will on the
    region. Nationalism is an adequate reply to all of this. But, as I said, I sincerely
    doubt that it will be the last word. I should wish that Israel and Palestine could
    create a viable two state solution. A viable – but not a permanent solution.
    I`m sorry if this seems somewhat distant to the actual political and ideological
    struggles and problems. But your “timeless” perspective invited to a reply that to a
    certain degree has to distance itself from the immediate and contemporary problems,
    without ignoring them.
    PS
    As to the last part of your comment (regarding oil and US interests), I just applied
    the common definition of “US interests”, which includes oil, but had in mind a lot of
    other significant aspects that most Americans certainly would consider within their
    definition of US interest. You would know what I alluded to if you activate your
    geopolitical imagination.

    Reply

  18. WigWag says:

    One more thing, Paul, speaking of cultural homogeneity, I came across this little tidbit that you may or may not be aware of:
    Nordmændene diskuterer burkaforbud
    01. feb 2010 03:11
    Ritzau
    Debatten om burkaer er nu også nået til Norge.
    regeringspartiet Arbeiderpartiet vil indvandrerordfører Lise Christoffersen have den muslimske dragt forbudt i landet.
    - Jeg kan ikke gå ind for et system, der på den måde lægger op til, at en kvinde skal være en mands ejendom, siger Lise Christoffersen til avisen.
    Hun mener, at burkaen er misbrug af religion og peger desuden på, at et burkaforbud kan begrundes med, at beklædningsgenstanden forhindrer identifikation.
    Spørgsmålet om burka har endnu ikke været diskuteret i Arbejderpartiet.
    Lederen af det norske Fremskrittspartiet, Per-Willy Amundsen, er positivt stemt over for et forbud, mens Høyre og regeringspartnerne i Senterpartiet og Sosialistisk Venstreparti er imod et burkaforbud.
    As I think you know, my Norwegian isn’t particularly proficient. This story wouldn’t be about a proposal to ban burquas in Norway would it?

    Reply

  19. WigWag says:

    Paul, let me respond to your postscript first. You say,
    “And this historical wisdom is certainly not what the founding fathers of America listened to when they came up with the bold and enlightened American idea: People from different ethnic groups and religious convictions trying to create a country together. This seemingly impossible idea, is admired all over the world, and goes contrary to your timeless wisdom and the ancient parables.”
    It is true that the American experiment is a unique exception to the rule. Unfortunately, while the credo “E Pluribus Unum” reflects the American experience it has virtually no resonance anywhere else in the world. Perhaps you are right that people all over the world admire it; but no one admires the American example enough to copy it. Canada might come close, but then they have their little problem with Quebec and all of the compromises necessary to turn Canada into a “binational” state. Switzerland might be compared to the United States, but then it has a rigid and deterministic formula for empowering its cantons that are all linguistically and nationally homogeneous. While the American system works fabulously for the United States it has not been recapitulated anywhere in the world. As a proud citizen of one of the most ethnically homogeneous nations in Europe, I would have thought that should have been apparent to you. As a matter of fact, the Scandinavian nations are more ethnically, religiously and linguistically homogeneous than any large nation in world except for Japan.
    Europe’s great experiment with unity only became possible after European nations spent 150 years sorting themselves by religion, language and ethnicity. The only nations in Europe that are still troubled are the nations where this sorting process remains incomplete; places like Serbia/Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia and to a lesser extent, Cyprus. The Capitol of Europe, Belgium, is about to break apart because the Flemish, the Walloons and the French speakers can’t stomach the thought of living together in a single nation. Let’s remember that the sorting we are talking about doesn’t always occur violently; the Czechs and the Slovaks, who decided to divorce at the earliest possible moment after it became possible, showed that not all divorces need be acrimonious.
    At the end of the Cold War, Russian citizens who had settled (forcibly or not)in the former Soviet Republics had to leave en masse because they were no longer welcome in the nations where their families had lived in some cases for three generations. The Chechnya War, the troubles in Georgia and the related conflict with South Ossetia and Abkhazia all demonstrate perfectly clearly what happens when people of different national identities who don’t wish to live together are forced to against their wills.
    In Asia, the first thing to occur after the end of the British Raj was the sorting of the Indian subcontinent by religion; 15 million people were uprooted in the process. The conflict between Sri Lanka and the Tamils, the conflict between Pakistan and Bangladesh and the virtual civil war between various Pakistani states all provide evidence of what happens when the sorting that you find so theoretically objectionable fails to occur. And then there’s China, which is only able to maintain its hegemony in Tibet, Kashgar, and Xinjang by the most brutal force.
    The Middle East is the same as the rest of the world; stability is more easily achieved in nations that are more or less homogeneous (which means that there is only one dominant majority group that can be defined linguistically, religiously or ethnically). The parts of the Middle East that are most troubled are the places where this process of ethnic sorting is incomplete. As I said, that would be Israel/Palestine, Iraq (Shia, Sunni, Kurds), Iran and Syria (with large Kurdish regions seething with contempt for their overlords in Damascus and Tehran) and to a lesser extent the Kurds in Turkey.
    Until these Middle Eastern nations catch up with the rest of the world, the Middle East will continue to be a hotspot.
    The American ideal you mentioned, Paul, is honored outside of the United States only in the breach. If you can suggest an argument that refutes my take on all of this, I would love to hear it.
    As to the points you made in the first part of your comment, you say,
    “I see no point in going into details here, but I’m sure you realize that a conflict
    virtually involving a handful of oil producing countries with a Sunni majority, and
    two big, oil producing (neighboring-) countries with a Shia majority, easily could
    “threaten American interests”, both directly and indirectly…”
    Yes, conflict between Sunni Arab nations and Iran could impact world oil supplies and could raise oil prices in the United States. Of course, in the event of a conflict, all of those nations would be inclined to pump more oil not less oil to pay for their little war against their co-religionists. The United States Navy is more than capable enough to cripple the ability of any party to the dispute that might be inclined to shut down shipping lanes at their most vulnerable points. Any nation that did that, especially Iran, would face devastating consequences and thus would almost certainly be deterred from that type of behavior. But mostly they would be deterred by self-interest; no nation involved in a conflict wants to cut off its only source of revenue. So for the aforementioned reasons, I am not particularly worried that a low-level conflict or even a hot war between Iran and its Sunni Arab adversaries would negatively affect world oil supplies.
    But even if it did; it wouldn’t bother me a bit. There is something particularly entertaining about watching American and European leftists who criticized the Bush Administration for invading Iraq in part because they thought it was about America’s quest for oil. Now, we are faced with the delicious prospect of those same Americans and Europeans arguing that the United States has a major interest in oil supplies and should therefore forge a grand bargain with Iran or should fear conflict between Iran and the Sunni Arab nations.
    Quite ironic; don’t you think?

    Reply

  20. John Waring says:

    If the tensions between Shia and Sunni erupt into open civil war, and if the civil war becomes a regional war, we Americans will be blamed by one and all for creating the bloody mess.
    ‘Cause we did.
    To paraphrase Thomas Ricks, the actions of the United Sates in Iraq resemble those of a banana republic more than the actions of a great power attempting to change part of the world deemed vital to its interests.
    In short, because we did not have the sense to leave well the hell enough alone, we’ll look like fools.
    ‘Cause we are. Only fools create a fiasco.

    Reply

  21. Paul Norheim says:

    Neither your cynicism, WigWag, nor your attraction to dangerous scenarios in remote
    countries you’ve never visited, do surprise me anymore. However, your geopolitical
    judgements sometimes surprise me.
    You said: “In either case, you’ve failed to mention exactly what American interests
    will be threatened by a resumption of the centuries-old conflict between Sunni and
    Shia.”
    You know very well that a renewed escalation is not something that is easily contained
    within the borders of Iraq. Such a religio-political civil war would have a
    potentially huge impact for neighboring countries, who would certainly meddle on both
    sides.
    You prefer to see this in a historical context? Well, just like the religio-political
    conflicts between Catholics and Protestants involved the whole Western part of Europe
    through the centuries, the “centuries-old” Sunni/Shia conflict happens to involve
    almost the entire Middle East, including countries like Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia
    and, perhaps most notably, Iran. Not only that; it also implicates countries outside
    the Middle East, perhaps most notably Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    I see no point in going into details here, but I’m sure you realize that a conflict
    virtually involving a handful of oil producing countries with a sunni majority, and
    two big, oil producing (neighboring-) countries with a shia majority, easily could
    “threaten American interests”, both directly and indirectly
    Add, as you suggest, an escalation of the Kurdish struggle into the mix, massively
    supported by America, and you involve practically every particle of the Middle East.
    Good for Israel? Yeah, perhaps. But for the Western world, the impact could be very
    “threatening”, indeed. Like Chaplin, you’re baking with dynamite here – geopolitical
    dynamite. But one way or another, this is just a sophisticated version of Kotzabasis’
    and Nadine’s promotion of a global war between the Western civilization and the
    lunatic fanatics populating the Muslim world. I’m sure you find it entertaining.
    P.S.
    As for your Kurdish pet project: Apart from the friendly connections between the Kurds
    and Israel, I realize that this is intimately connected to your current world view and
    convictions. You seem to say that different ethnic groups have alway fought each other
    and exterminated each other (this belongs to the “timeless wisdom” department of
    anthropology, doesn’t it?).
    In Europe, this happened through brutal ethnic cleansings and an attempted arrangement
    of homogenous ethnic groups within nation states. And now you suggest that this brutal
    fight should be fought in the Middle East as well – the Israel/Palestine conflict
    included – because this is in accordance with – well, timeless wisdom, and the only
    path to a viable peace. And let the strongest part decide the terms determining the
    fate of the losers.
    But this is not how women got equal rights! And this historical wisdom is certainly
    not what the founding fathers of America listened to when they came up with the bold
    and enlightened American idea: People from different ethnic groups and religious
    convictions trying to create a country together. This seemingly impossible idea, is
    admired all over the world, and goes contrary to your timeless wisdom and the ancient
    parables.
    As you know, modern Israel (as well as Palestinian nationalism), has its ideological
    roots in European nationalism, and has chosen to emulate old Europe. A majority of
    Israelis express the same timeless wisdom as you’ve heard from all nationalists in
    Europe from the mid 19th century until today: Our ethnic group is better and more
    special than any other ethnic group in the world, and would be endangered if it was
    mixed up with foreign blood, foreign religions and customs.
    America represents a historical challenge to this timeless wisdom – and the world is
    watching how this turns out in the long run.
    As an American and a Jew, I guess you are somewhat ambivalent to these ideas – the
    European-Jewish, ethnically founded nation state, and the mixed races and religions
    attempting to work and live together in the United States of America.
    When it comes to the Middle East, I regret that you, just like Israel, seem to be more
    attracted to some of the worst of the old European ideas, than the great visions of
    the country you live in.
    If you think through your world view and historical perspectives – contemplate the
    following: What you are suggesting, is to encourage the same kind of ethnic rivalry,
    wars and civil wars that almost destroyed the European continent – culminating in two
    world wars – and at the same time “stay out of”, or even encourage a continuation of
    religio-political wars that almost destroyed our continent centuries before the
    ethnical conflicts.
    Don’t you realize the utter destructiveness implied in this approach?

    Reply

  22. WigWag says:

    “True, but as you know, the hostilities escalated dramatically thanks to the US invasion in 2003. The invasion and toppling of Saddam had approximately the same effect in Iraq as Tito’s death had in Yugoslavia. And as Powell said: If you brake it, you own it.” (Paul Norheim)
    Hostilities escalated dramatically because Saddam Hussein was no longer present to brutally suppress the Shia and the Kurds. As you know, the Sunnis were ascendant and the Shia and Kurds were far worse than second class citizens. When US troops toppled the dictator, ethnic hatred between Sunni and Shia emerged from its long hibernation imposed by Saddam.
    Pick whichever you prefer, a brutal dictator who gasses, murders and exiles the Shia and the Kurds or the American attack that liberated those populations and enraged the Sunnis.
    In either case, you’ve failed to mention exactly what American interests will be threatened by a resumption of the centuries-old conflict between Sunni and Shia. Even if the United States desired to intervene to prevent a bloodbath on moral grounds; there is little possibility of success; the Muslim world is too divided by sect; too unused to political accommodation and too dominated by the most illiberal elements to achieve reconciliation any time soon.
    The Western world emerged from its age of barbarity with the enlightenment and the subsequent sorting of populations into relatively homogeneous nation-states.
    The nations in the Middle East are already largely sorted; the Sunni Arabs have their nations; the Persian Shia have their nation and the Jews have their nation. All the trouble-spots in the Middle East are in areas where that sorting is still incomplete; Jews and Palestinians intermixed against their wills in Israel/Palestine; Shia, Sunni and Kurds intermixed against their wills in Iraq; Kurds intermixed with Sunni in Iraq and Syria and Persian Shia in Iran (and Sunni in Turkey.) The Middle East will be far more peaceful once these national/ethnic/religious groups have separated themselves from each other in precisely the same manner that Europeans have in the past 150 years.
    But that sorting isn’t enough; until the Muslim world goes through its enlightenment, it will continue to be backwards, unsuccessful, intolerant and, frankly, pathetic.
    In the meantime, the United States should watch on the sidelines when and if Muslims attack other Muslims. If these attacks cause tension between Iran and the Sunni Arab nations, I am still waiting for someone to explain why exactly from the American perspective that should be viewed as a bad thing.

    Reply

  23. Dan Kervick says:

    Don’t the Kurds have a claim on Jerusalem? After all, Salah-Hadin conquered it once.

    Reply

  24. Paul Norheim says:

    “Shia and Sunni have been fighting on and off for centuries. In Iraq, the
    relationship between Shia and Sunni was extremely troubled long before the Americans
    arrived.”
    True, but as you know, the hostilities escalated dramatically thanks to the US
    invasion in 2003. The invasion and toppling of Saddam had approximately the same
    effect in Iraq as Tito’s death had in Yugoslavia. And as Powell said: If you brake
    it, you own it.
    “I’m not arguing for a civil war.”
    No? How about this quote:
    “How exactly are Americans worse off if the opposing sects in the Islamic world
    return to form and start battling it out once again?”
    That, WigWag, is as close to a “divide et impera” as one can get without saying it
    directly.
    In any case, and regardless of our discussion, it’s quite likely that there will be
    a (renewed) civil war in Iraq. And just like America is meddling in Iran, Iran will
    continue to meddle in the Iraqi mess – which will increase tensions and provide
    America and Israel with convenient arguments to attack Iran.
    The next stage? My guess is that they’ll have to come up with an IrIr strategy, and
    perhaps move some troops back from AfPak to the messy IrIr battlefield -regardless
    of the conditions in Afghanistan at that time. Simultaneous wars in four countries
    with porous borders? Good luck.
    And if you add fighting for Kurdish independence in Syria, Iran, perhaps also Turkey
    - then you have a recipe for regional mayhem. I know this doesn’t worry you. But it
    worries me. I would say that it’s an insane thing to do right now.

    Reply

  25. WigWag says:

    WigWag, I’m struggling to understand how the sheer barbarity of arguing for civil war between people whose languages you don’t understand a word of, is somehow diminished by the fact that you’ve learned how to use a dictionary and spell
    “internecine”? (Paul Norheim)
    I’m not arguing for a civil war. It’s Steve Clemons in his post who is suggesting that a Civil War may be on the way in Iraq. I’m merely suggesting that a Civil War between Shia and Sunni in Iraq might not impact American interests in a manner that suggests that the U.S. should intervene. Intervention is probably pointless anyway. Shia and Sunni have been fighting on and off for centuries. In Iraq, the relationship between Shia and Sunni was extremely troubled long before the Americans arrived.
    I’m for letting the Shia and Sunni work out their own problems in their own way. If they can do it through political means great. If they continue to kill each other, that’s their problem.
    I do think supporting Kurdish independence is the morally correct thing to do and also happens to be strongly in American interests.
    I’m not rooting for a civil war between Sunni and Shia but I am rooting for an independent Kurdistan. If the Iranians, Syrians and even the Turks find it distasteful, all the better.
    I actually think that there is a small chance Obama might eventually come to this conclusion himself. After all, since his Nobel acceptance speech, Obama seems to be moving in a firmly hawkish direction. He’s ramped things up in Afghanistan; he’s abandoned anything but lip service to the Israel-Palestine imbroglio; and his Secretary of State is beginning to talk tough about Iran. Looks like Obama is revealing his inner “Bush.”
    Maybe there’s a chance that Obama will actually get it right on Kurdistan.

    Reply

  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    As for the topic at hand, Wig-wag, I leave it to the reader to ponder the kind of person that advances the argument you are advancing here. I doubt I am the only one repulsed by it.
    You know, it is narratives and opinions such as yours, or Nadine’s, that make the accusations of IDF atrocities so absolutely believable.

    Reply

  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Your use of Nina in your comments is petty and vindictive, Wig-wag. It demonstrates to anyone reading your comments the degree of integrity you possess.
    My family is none of your business, so I will ask you again. Leave Nina out of your poisonous spew.

    Reply

  28. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag, I’m struggling to understand how the sheer barbarity of arguing for civil
    war between people whose languages you don’t understand a word of, is somehow
    diminished by the fact that you’ve learned how to use a dictionary and spell
    “internecine”?

    Reply

  29. WigWag says:

    Oh yeah, the Iraqis were doing pretty damn good. Except for the Shia who were brutally oppressed by Saddam Hussein. How many of them did he gas? How many Kurds did Saddam murder, exile and gas?
    How many Shia shrines in the South of Iraq were closed or defiled by Sunnis during Saddam’s reign?
    Yeah, POA, they were doing pretty damn good!
    As for Nina, if you mention her on this blog (as you do regularly), I will feel perfectly free to mention her myself.
    Don’t like it?
    Tough shit!

    Reply

  30. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Actually, before we started meddling, those Iraqis were getting along pretty damned good, wiggie. But you knew that.
    In truth, your indifference to human suffering, and the small value you place on the lives of Muslims disgusts me. Its truly despicable.
    And keep Nina out of your spew.

    Reply

  31. WigWag says:

    As usual, POA, you have the reading comprehension abilities of a 10 year old.
    This post is about internecine (if you own a dictionary, POA, you can look it up; if you don’t know how to use a dictionary, maybe you can ask Nina to help) conflict in Iraq. The Shia and the Sunni have been killing each other for well over a thousand years without the need for American help.
    If they want to continue the process why exactly is it in American interests to stop them?
    It’s a reasonable question for anyone with half a brain; but then that wouldn’t include you, would it, POA?

    Reply

  32. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “It may be unseemly to ask it, but is a disintegrating Iraq really such a bad thing for the United States?”
    Oh hell, no, Wiggie. Who the fuck cares, right? After all, they’re only muslims. Whats a few more hundred thousand deaths?
    While we’re at it, lets punish that nasty ‘ol Iranian holocaust denier by crippling the Iranian economy and starving a bunch of those nasty little sand nigger Iranian pickaninnies, eh?
    Perhaps while we’re distracted Netanyahu can saute a few more of those troublesome heathen Palestinians.
    Happy now, Wiggie??? Or is it more exciting for you when Lyndie England works her magic on them?

    Reply

  33. Dan Kervick says:

    “The fact that the Kurds would finally achieve their freedom from the monstrous oppression they face in all the nations that virtually enslave them is just an added bonus.”
    Isn’t there some sort of parable somewhere about how slavery is just the way of the world?

    Reply

  34. WigWag says:

    Nice to hear from you, Paul and Dan.
    It’s easy to be sarcastic, boys, and it can be fun too but it’s not much more than that.
    I don’t know if supporting Kurdish independence and stationing American troops in Iraqi Kurdistan is particularly good for the Jews or even the Israelis but it is pretty clear that it’s in American interests.
    Every Administration for the past 20 years considers Iran and Syria to be enemies of the United States. Presidents of both political parties regularly excoriate the Syrians.
    President Obama like President Bush before him spends a considerable portion of his day thinking about how to stifle the Iranians. The reason is simple; it’s not because the United States considers Iran to be an ally, it’s because the United States considers Iran to be an enemy. It’s a point of view widely shared by the American public and almost universally believed by representatives of both political parties in Congress. After all, the recent legislation to sanction Iran passed the House of Representatives 412-12 and the Senate by the rather lopsided vote of 87-0.
    I understand that you may not consider Iran and Syria to be enemies of the United States but most Americans do, and virtually all of the democratically elected representatives in both the legislative and Executive branch do.
    My point is simple; placing 30 thousand American troops in Iraqi Kurdistan is a way to unnerve and unbalance America’s adversaries in the region; it might even be a substitute for an American attack on Iran.
    The fact that the Kurds would finally achieve their freedom from the monstrous oppression they face in all the nations that virtually enslave them is just an added bonus.
    If the Syrian regime or Iranian regime is destabilized, that’s a good thing not a bad thing.
    As I said; it’s a win-win!

    Reply

  35. Paul Norheim says:

    Me too. Hopefully the mayhem will spread to Syria, Iran, and Turkey as well. This
    would be even better for the Jews. Besides, it would be morally questionable,
    bordering on the monstrous and idiotic, not to support this enterprise. And not
    fueling the religious tensions between Sunnis and Shiites would be extremely
    irresponsible, from an Israeli and American national security perspective.
    Geopolitics at its best.

    Reply

  36. Dan Kervick says:

    I agree with WigWag that we should promote more war and mayhem in Kurdistan and Iraq, because its good for the Jews.

    Reply

  37. Dan Kervick says:

    “Sources with whom I have spoken state that this cutoff of the supply route is designed to punish Sunni Iraqis in Western Iraq and in Jordan, and to punish the Jordanian government for its efforts to check Iran’s influence in the region.”
    Well that’s certainly a tendentious way of putting it. Another way of putting it is that Malicki is trying to clamp down on the foreign subversion of the Iraqi state, and the clandestine arming of a potential insurrection and restorationist coup that aims, with the support of the US’s Sunni Arab lackeys in the region, to undo the Iraqi majority’s liberation from Saddam, and to reposition Iraq as a dependable vassal for the coming hostilities against Iran.
    Good for Malicki. Whatever the faults of the current government, it possesses the singular virtue, unique among all the Iraqi governments of the past century, of actually representing the majority of Iraqis. Let Malicki run his own country as he sees fit, and enough with the subversive mischief.
    Sunni gangsters, caudillos and feudal monarchs have been running most of that region for years, and the Sunni ulema are the folks chiefly responsible for firing up young Sunni Salafists with a desire to kill us westerners. Let’s back off and give the Shia a chance. At least the Shia don’t crash planes into our building or try to set of testicle-bombs among crowds of flying innocents.
    Just how many double triple fuckovers do the US and its proxies intend to inflict on Iraq before we’ve had enough of the intrigues and carnage? What, is there some priceless ancient artifact or monument that we missed the last time and have not blown to fucking hell yet? Are there too many Iraqi families that have yet to experience the virtuous decimation that is the gift of our democratic exceptionalism?
    After pulverizing Iraq only a few years ago in the pursuit of the last stupid scheme, outside powers want a do-over because they didn’t get the right kind of authoritarian government, one sufficiently motivated to protect US-Sunni business and power interests in Iraq. Well screw those murdering, intriguing bastards.

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  38. WigWag says:

    Yeah, that seems like a great idea. Let’s further assist one more ethnic minority into setting up a State right in the middle of a hostile, historically hostile, mass of groups.” (Jonst)
    Do you really think that the Kurds are such a small ethnic minority?
    In fact, there are nearly 30 million of them. If the Iraqi Kurds were united with their Kurdish kinsmen in Syria, Iran and Turkey, an independent Kurdistan would have a larger population than Saudi Arabia, Syria or Jordan. In fact, the population of a United Kurdistan would be 25 percent larger than the population of Iraq itself.
    Besides, Kurdistan would just be the latest in a long like of new states created in territory controlled by the Ottoman Turks on and off for a millennium and then given as a mandate to the British by the League of Nations after World War I. Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Palestine (if a Palestinian nation is ever created) are all of incredibly recent vintage. Not one of these nations existed at the beginning of the 20th Century. Leaving the Kurds out was little more than a historical fluke; a fluke begging to be remedied.
    I understand, Jonst, that the Turks don’t like the Kurds; after all Turkey’s Supreme Court just outlawed the largest Kurdish political party and expelled 30 members of that party from Turkey’s legislature. Turkey has spent the last half century suppressing the Kurdish language, discriminating against Kurds in all aspects of Turkish life and killing tens of thousands of them. We shouldn’t be surprised; after all, it wasn’t that long ago that the Turks didn’t think much of the Armenians either. And everyone knows what they think of Greek Cypriots and the Orthodox Patriarchy.
    If the Turks get a little bit nervous at the prospect of American troops stationed permanently in Iraqi Kurdistan and if they object to American clandestine efforts to promote rebellion amongst Iranian and/or Syrian Kurds why should Americans care about Turkish sensibilities?
    In fact, if it unnerved the Turks just a fraction as much as it unnerved the Syrians or the Iranians that would just be an added bonus.
    Opposing Kurdish independence is morally questionable at best. There is not an ethnic group anywhere in the world more entitled to a nation of their own than the Kurds. They are brutally oppressed in every nation that they are part of. The Syrians and Iranians treat them horribly and suppress all aspects of their language, their religion (though they are mostly secular) and their culture. Until he was deposed, Saddam Hussein attacked them mercilessly. Our great NATO ally, Turkey, treats them only slightly better.
    Opposing Kurdish independence not only borders on the monstrous, it borders on the idiotic. There is simply no logically or morally consistent way to argue that the Palestinians deserve a state of their own but the Kurds don’t.
    A permanent, large and threatening American presence in Iraqi Kurdistan serves American interests in virtually every way.
    PS: In my earlier post on this thread I erroneously said “The United States should remove 20 thousand troops from the United Kingdom and Germany and 10 troops from South Korea and station them instead in Kurdish territory” Of course I meant to say 10 thousand troops should be sent from Korea to Iraqi Kurdistan.

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  39. DonS says:

    An [even more] failed Iraq is not in the US interest, although it may provide impetus for Israel to attack Iran. The current story is that the US is building up missile defenses in the Gulf states, and that Israel is “cooperating”, whatever that means. The US it seems is begging Israel not to launch an attack. In the intermediate term, if Iranian influence can be seen as increased and cemented in Iraq, Israel will need little further excuse to mount the attack, and the vaunted cooperation will cease. Israel does whatever it wants, and the US will fall right in line behind Israel as it always does. More instability in the region, Wigwag, is bad, not good.

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  40. jonst says:

    Yeah, that seems like a great idea. Let’s further assist one more ethnic minority into setting up a State right in the middle of a hostile, historically hostile, mass of groups. That is just what the US needs. Oh, it is merely a trifle that this Kurdish state we would be primarily (solely?) responsible for defending borders Turkey. One of our most important NATO partners. After all, the Turks just love the idea of Kurdish State even more than they love the Kurds. Yeah, that sound like a great idea.
    And I love the comparison between the Sunnis moving people around, for what ever bad motives, WITHIN their own State. And settlers were moved on to occupied territory. That seems a fair comparison.

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  41. Carroll says:

    Posted by WigWag, Feb 01 2010, 3:39PM – Lin
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    This is such bullshit it’s not worth debating point by point…you should be embarrassed.
    I can only assume you wrote this from the Israeli point of view due to the Israeli-Kurds mutual satisfaction ventures in Iraq.
    And the Israeli point of view that all chaos in the ME is good for them as long as the US pays for it and it doesn’t prevent the US from sending Isr it’s annual welfare check.

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  42. James Morris says:

    Former CIA Bin Laden unit head Michael Scheuer was excellent as well in his recent segment of ‘Washington Journal’
    http://TINYURL.COM/MICHAELSCHEUER

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  43. WigWag says:

    It may be unseemly to ask it, but is a disintegrating Iraq really such a bad thing for the United States?
    The idea of a peaceful, democratic and pluralistic Iraq was far-fetched to begin with; an Iraq that serves as a constant point of tension between Iran and the Sunni Arab world might not be such a tragedy for Americans. Friction between Sunni and Shia has been the homeostatic state for the better part of a thousand years; what made anyone think that was going to change any time soon? How exactly are Americans worse off if the opposing sects in the Islamic world return to form and start battling it out once again?
    It seems to me that the only good guys in all of this; that is the only party to the conflict worth worrying about is the Kurds. After all, the Sunni Arabs have nations a plenty to call their own and the Persian Shia have Iran. The Jewish Israelis enjoy far and away the most prosperous state in the region; Israel. It’s only the Kurds who have been robbed of their patrimony, primarily as a result of nefarious conduct by the British in the aftermath of World War I.
    Let the Shia and the Sunni settle their own problems. The smart thing to do from a geopolitical point of view would be for the United States to do everything in its power to help the Kurds get either their own nation or at least a strong autonomous region within Iraq if the nation should happen to survive.
    The United States should be arming and training the Peshmerga; it should be supporting Kurdish claims not only to Erbil but also to Kirkuk. In fact, the Kurds have legitimate claims on Mosul that the United States should be promoting, even if it means expelling Sunni Iraqis settled in the area by Saddam Hussein. After all, if Steve Clemons thinks that Israeli settlers should be forcibly repatriated, surely he thinks Sunni settlers shipped to Northern Iraq with the specific intention of changing the demographic mix should also be forcibly repatriated.
    Finally, the United States should be establishing permanent military bases in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurds are anxious for a permanent U.S. presence in their territory and they are willing to pay for that presence through their oil revenue; what could be better? The United States should remove 20 thousand troops from the United Kingdom and Germany and 10 troops from South Korea and station them instead in Kurdish territory. Once there, the United States should think seriously about supporting the aspirations of the Syrian and Iranian Kurds to join their Iraqi brethren in an independent Kurdistan. What better way for the United States to tie two of its geopolitical adversaries, Iran and Syria in knots? All of this would also serve notice to the Turks about what could happen to the Kurdish majority regions in Turkey should that erstwhile ally stray too far from its Western roots.
    Massive support for the Kurds and benign neglect of the Sunni and Shia Iraqis is a low-cost way for the United States to advance its interests in the Middle East while sending a message to its adversaries. Placing troops in Iraqi Kurdistan close to the borders of both Syria and Iran is a far better way of confronting those adversaries than attacking them directly. The added benefit is that the most oppressed people in the Middle East, and the one major ethnic group without their own state, will finally get what they so richly deserve; independence.
    They call that a win-win; don’t they?

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  44. James Morris says:

    Strengthening US Defenses in Gulf as a Step Toward War
    http://tinyurl.com/USGulfDefensesStepTowardWar

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  45. DonS says:

    So, the civil war that many prognosticated would result as the coalition forces move out is getting more likely Naturally much of the civil strife in Iraq since the American invasion has been civil war by any other name, but it was more convenient to blame it all on Al Quaeda. Just as it will now be important for the Obama PR machine to cover up the Iraq deterioration since it has officially adopted the Bush self-congratulatory myth that the ‘surge’ was a success and paved the way for a democratic Iraq to emerge, just as was billed!
    More ominous, if we go back even to the first Gulf war, the chickens are likely coming home to roost in the form of an emergent Sunni Iraq in place of the Saddam Sunni regime, bad as it was, as a counterbalance to Iranian influence in the region and, indeed, as perhaps the major factor in Middle East equilibrium, tricky as it is.
    No one could have predicted!

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