Sunday, November 4, 2007

That Good News From Iraq You Keep Not Hearing

Sunny pro-war editorials say there is much success to recognize in the Iraq war. And they say I'm the one that can't face reality?

Fred Kagan at the Weekly Standard says Iraq’s politicians are just being politicians. It will take them time to hash out laws, just like it does in the United States, but basically the democracy in in place and is working. He says, not all the differences between tribal and religious groups need to be worked out for us to call the war a success. And he says, eventually, the warring factions will learn that they are hurting themselves more than helping with their violence.

The Times Online says that much success has been achieved by Petraeus in working toward the conditions in which Sunnis and Shia can begin to reconcile their differences.

Andrew Bolt says the war in Iraq has already been won, and that troops just need to stay there to maintain vigilance. His article appears at, but a note says it’s from the Daily Telegraph.

In the Wall Street Journal, Natan Sharansky makes a lot of abstract statements to back his assertion that democracy is on the rise in the Middle East, that the Bush doctrine is the right track.

What do all these news publications have in common? You guessed it!

Here are my questions which, according to these articles, constitute my not being willing to face reality:

If it took cooperation with Sunni tribes in Anbar to drive out Al Qaeda -- that is, to do what the U.S. military could not do alone, and what the Iraqi military certainly could not do -- then doesn’t that mean that the power to make differences like this is in the tribes? Any pro-war advocate calling this ousting of Al Qaeda (which wasn’t there before we invaded anyway) political progress is forgetting that it has nothing to do with legitimizing the official Iraqi government. In fact, over at Small Wars Journal, there’s an article that explains that the tribes simply decided they had had enough of the fundamentalism that Al Qaeda was bringing to their regions -- fundamentalism that was being imported from outside Iraq which, I emphasize, was not there anyway before we invaded.

Here’s a video statement by Juan Cole on what he thinks is really happening with respect to the Sunni tribes. “We are bribing them . . . it’s not a matter of political loyalty,” he says. “There's no evidence that these groups have an interest in cooperating with the al-Maliki Shiite government.”

An anonymous commenter on Informed Comment says that the Basra region is almost completely under the control of Shiite militias. He says that though al-Maliki has fired the governor of Basra, that governor is still in charge because the militias that support him trump any influence by the official Iraqi government. He says that oil revenue in this region goes to these militias, not to to legitimate institutions in Iraq. Maybe an anonymous commenter is not to be trusted; but here is a Christian Science Monitor article saying that as the British left the Basra region, the local militias did take over. And here’s another article saying that Taliban-like strictures are on the rise in southern Iraq. This means that Iraq can not earn the expected oil revenue which was supposed to help with reconstruction; and it means that Islamic fundamentalism has not been decreased, but rather increased, in the region. How do these optimistic editorialists answer this?

(The neocon interrupts: "Hold on there, Buckaroo. If this is what happens when coalition forces leave, then it means the U.S. military should not leave." My response: "Easy there, Killer. Saddam kept a tyrannical lid on that country for decades. As soon as that lid was lifted, the Shiite militias appeared. Suppose our own military stays for decades and ends up enforcing peace and unity for that country. Eventually, we will have to leave. Who says Shiite militias, and other tribal loyalties, won't reappear just as easily then? You say you will win their hearts and minds truly by then? By doing what differently from what you've been doing so far which has not resulted in friendlier hearts and minds, overall?)

And if the Sunni tribes show no sign of cooperating with the Iraqi government, and the mainly Shiite region is being run by independent militias, then it doesn’t matter whether the Green Zone government begins to pass laws. They will never have an effect outside the Green Zone.

If Iraq is going better now, can the 4 million refugees forced from their homes (2 million out of the country to Syria and Jordan) return? ‘Cause they’re draining resources where they are being housed now, temporarily.

If Fallujah is experiencing peace now, as the Times Online piece says, it’s because there has been a complete ban on vehicle traffic. According to Juan Cole's commentary on that city and the Anbar province, there is 80% unemployment in Fallujah. What will happen when vehicle traffic is reinstated, as it must be for the economy to function normally again?

Okay, but maybe Iraq really is going well, and we just need to continue to usher the country along its noble path to true democracy. If these editorials stay online, they will be accessible a year from now. (I’ve saved some on my computer anyway.) We’ll see who was right then. And ask yourself now, have any neocons or pro-war advocates been right about anything yet?

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