Patterico's Pontifications


Good News from Iraq — No, Really

Filed under: General,War — Patterico @ 6:06 pm

There are some genuinely positive signs coming out of Iraq, in the critical area of Al Anbar. Who says so — the typical pack of mindless right-wing warbloggers? Not exactly . . . in this case the good news is coming from those notorious right-wing organs, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

From the New York Times article:

RAMADI, Iraq — Anbar Province, long the lawless heartland of the tenacious Sunni Arab resistance, is undergoing a surprising transformation. Violence is ebbing in many areas, shops and schools are reopening, police forces are growing and the insurgency appears to be in retreat.

“Many people are challenging the insurgents,” said the governor of Anbar, Maamoon S. Rahid, though he quickly added, “We know we haven’t eliminated the threat 100 percent.”

There are some genuinely positive signs:

On a recent morning, American and Iraqi troops, accompanied by several police officers, went on a foot patrol through a market in the Malaab neighborhood of Ramadi. Only a couple of months ago, American and Iraqi forces would enter the area only in armored vehicles. People stopped and stared. The sight of police and military forces in the area, particularly on foot, was still novel.

The new calm is eerie and unsettling, particularly for anyone who knew the city even several months ago.

“The complete change from night to day gives me pause,” said Capt. Brice Cooper, 26, executive officer of Company B, First Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, First Infantry Division, which has been stationed in the city and its outskirts since last summer. “A month and a half ago we were getting shot up. Now we’re doing civil affairs work.”

What is causing this seeming transformation? It’s something I told you about back in December, and again in January — cooperation with local tribal leaders who are increasingly fed up with the violence caused by insurgents and Al Qaeda in Iraq. As the New York Times article explains:

Many Sunni tribal leaders, once openly hostile to the American presence, have formed a united front with American and Iraqi government forces against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. With the tribal leaders’ encouragement, thousands of local residents have joined the police force. About 10,000 police officers are now in Anbar, up from several thousand a year ago. During the same period, the police force here in Ramadi, the provincial capital, has grown from fewer than 200 to about 4,500, American military officials say.

The L.A. Times elaborates:

[O]ver time, the extremists overplayed their hand by imposing strict religious doctrine, hijacking the city government and enforcing a brutal intimidation campaign to keep the locals in line, residents said.

“They killed people right in front of our eyes,” said Sameh Khalif, an apparel merchant on Market Street, referring to insurgents from foreign countries, including Syria, Algeria and Morocco, who flocked to Ramadi.

. . . .

Sheik Hameed Farhan Hays, who heads a tribe on the northern rural fringe of town . . . soon would organize a meeting of sheiks to discuss resisting Al Qaeda in Iraq. Among those in attendance was Abu Fahad Jabbar, whose brother had been killed by Al Qaeda for speaking out against the extremists’ extortion practices.

“We found we all had the same sad stories to tell,” Jabbar said. “We started waking up.”

Weeks later, sheiks began spreading the word that it was a matter of honor that tribal youths join the police force, triggering the rush of recruits.

For the moment, at least, residents are breathing a little easier.

None of this comes as a surprise to those of us who have been following the situation through blogs like Acute Politics:

A local sheik came to the Army unit in charge of the sector he lived in, announced his desire to fight the insurgents, and asked for help in doing so. He was received with some healthy skepticism- many people in this part of the world will say whatever they think you want to hear in order to profit from you. To demonstrate his commitment, he organized his militia and began to attempt to quell some of the violence in the sector. Within days, indirect fire attacks against US bases from his area dropped to nearly zero over the next three weeks, from a former rate of multiple attacks per day. IED attacks and other insurgent activity was also down. By all appearances, this sheik was a legitimately good guy, stepping forward and doing his best to bring peace to Ramadi. Those appearances were confirmed three days ago when the local insurgents mounted an all out campaign to kill or humiliate the sheik, his family, and as many of his fighters as they could find.

or Badgers Forward:

The Marines have this place locked down tighter than a drum. To do that they have engaged the local militia. The Sheik’s men have turned out in droves.

That’s the power of blogs: if you find people on the ground whom you trust to tell it like it is, you’re miles ahead of most of the reporting from Big Media.

None of this means that a corner has necessarily been turned. Too many corners have been predicted, only to turn into a continuation of the smooth-walled spiraling descent into further violence. The New York Times reminds us that the situation is still “at best uneasy and fragile.” The insurgency is still strong, and still capable of setting off car bombs and killing many people. But at the same time, it appears that certain things are moving in the right direction in Ramadi.

The critical question is whether the positive signs we’re seeing in Ramadi and surrounding areas can spread to other troubled areas, such as Baghdad. There’s an instructive passage in a piece by Omar Fadhil that sheds some light on this question (thanks to DRJ):

Meanwhile, something small in size, big in meaning is brewing in Adhamiya. Yesterday I was asked by our friend Bill Roggio (whose reporting I admire and recommend) whether I thought the Sunni in Baghdad would follow the example of the Awakening Council of Anbar. That council is made up of Sunni tribes that have turned against al-Qaeda and are now fighting a fierce war against them side by side with government forces.

I couldn’t answer that question. The difference in social structures between tribal Ramadi and urban Baghdad alters everything. The tribal structure allows for safe communication among the members of the same tribe or clan. They most often live in the same geographic area and tend to consider themselves “cousins”. In Baghdad this doesn’t exist, making it difficult to safely spread the word among many people.

Even so, it seems that the question might have an answer now, and a positive one.

Al-Sabah reported today that “some community leaders in Adhamiya are working on forming a salvation council for their own district they will be calling The Adhamiya Awakening. Sources close to the leaders said they (the leaders) have managed to win the support of some hundred people who agree with the new position. The sources asserted that the goal of the Awakening is to rid Adhamiya of the terrorists.”

Will it work? As with everything, the critical issue may be the patience of the American people. Back to the New York Times:

“One of the things I worry about in Baghdad is we won’t have the time to do the same kind of thing,” Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of day-to-day war operations in Iraq, said in an interview here.

We have met the enemy, and it is us. Or, at least, our collective lack of political will is one of the biggest problems faced by the military.

Someone ask Harry Reid about these articles.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum highlights a passage from the New York Times article that reminds us that our new friends are friends of convenience:

.For all the sheiks’ hostility toward the Americans, they realized that they had a bigger enemy, or at least one that needed to be fought first, as a matter of survival.

(Emphasis by Drum.)

This is a reminder that we are an occupying force in an area where a lot of people don’t want us. While I don’t agree with the school of thought that says we should turn tail and run because the war is unwinnable, we need to stay smart, and do our best to assure the locals that we don’t intend to stay one day longer than necessary.

UPDATE x2: The Washington Post asks several people whether the war is lost. Here is the response of Kanan Makiya, an “Iraqi scholar who supported the U.S. invasion”:

It’s up to you. The Iraq war is lost or won if the American people choose to lose or win it.

52 Responses to “Good News from Iraq — No, Really”

  1. There was an interesting follow up study of reconstruction success stories that showed 7/8 were screwed up a year after they were touted. Who knows if this will be sustained or if it is sufficient. The record to date by the Bush admin is dismal. And I say this as a hawk. I feel no urge to back their play any longer.

    TCO (69ce0d)

  2. TCO, I remember you as the person who made fun of me for saying that the military’s working with local sheiks might be producing new results. Oh no, you told me, it’s an old idea, and I was ignorant for thinking that it might have some effect at this point.

    I’m surprised you have the stones to show up in this thread without even acknowledging your earlier arrogant (and, judging from these articles, apparently wrong) position.

    Patterico (5b0b7f)

  3. I totally have the stones for it. I totally remember it. And I totally read about it in places like USNI Proceedings months before you did. I made fun of it, because it was not new. And you treat it like a stupid corporate exec falling for a new management fad (even for a good management fad!)

    Actually if you translate it, it’s a variant of the “pick a strong man” option. Certainly, it is NOT the “rely on the elected government meme”…and a thoughtful decision to go after this option should realize that this is opposite from that concept (which might be fine, just realize it.)

    Please, please tell me that you are thinking about the overall picture? How often have we heard about some blip of success to see it not matter months down the road? How often has that happened over the past few years? How does this “success claim” fit into a broader picture of US disengagement? Are we really going to have a multiethnic, self-supporting state? Or a civil war? Or the Shia cleaning house when we leave? That’s what matters, Pat. Not some frigging blip. Remember all the crap about training and number of ready battalions and all that crap from years ago? Didn’t go anywhere. Remember the “but we’re building schools and shit” meme and the “media doesn’t report it” meme?

    Iraq is a mess. Bush is a moron and not a conservative. We know now that there were no WMDs and we’re done hanging Saddam. (should have happened years ago.) Let’s declare war and leave. I’d much rather invade every few years than try policing places with silly rules about not being allowed to hang rebels.

    TCO (69ce0d)

  4. declare victory, I mean.

    TCO (69ce0d)

  5. I totally remember it. And I totally read about it in places like USNI Proceedings months before you did.

    How many months before April 2004 were you totally reading about this totally before I knew about it?

    The point was that it’s not a strategy we had pursued consistently, or one that was working (due to outside events) until the last few months. Cap’t Patriquin made that point quite clearly in the Power Point presentation that you mocked in your typical cluelessly derogatory style. But when Teflon Don reported some real success with this strategy in November 2006, it was the signal of a possible change. He was there and you weren’t, yet you still howled with derision.

    I have made it quite clear in the post that this may not be turning a corner. But there are positive developments, which have been reported by people on the ground months ago, and the media is just now catching up to them.

    Patterico (5b0b7f)

  6. I did not mock the powerpoint. I like the power point. It was 10 times better than the pseudo-corporate consultant stylized crap that has penetrated the military and government too much.

    TCO (69ce0d)

  7. I have no clue, how many months before April04, I had seen the “work with the sheiks idea”. I do know that I had seen it before your gushy post. A post which did not seem to refer to the concept as one that you had been pushing before, been reading about, been thinking about. Also, note that your quoted previous post, does not go into detail about the concept of working with sheiks rather than the official government. Does not really explore that as an idea. Seems just more impressed with the tea drinking. But no details on the plusses/minuses of pursuing alternate to official power keepers.

    TCO (69ce0d)

  8. Reasons to listen to experts, who know the land and the language

    Reason’s to Cut and Paste:

    The Times reports that “some American officials readily acknowledge that they have entered an uncertain marriage of convenience with the tribes, some of whom were themselves involved in the insurgency, to one extent or another. American officials are also negotiating with elements of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, a leading insurgent group in Anbar, to join their fight against Al Qaeda.” What neither the Times nor Petraeus tells you, however, is that those insurgent groups have made it very clear that their condition for such negotiations is a credible American commitment to withdrawal – exactly what the Bush administration will not tolerate.

    There’s a lot more of interest in Petraeus’s remarks and in some recent developments, which I’ll get to tomorrow or Monday. But for now, I found this remark by Petraeus during the Q+A session very interesting:

    What I will say is that there are certainly dozens of foreign fighters who do come into the country on a monthly basis; again, sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the state of the network.

    Dozens of foreign fighters a month. I think that he was being honest here, and I appreciate that – a far, far cry from the usual wild exaggerations of the role of foreign jihadists. But it does seem to raise some questions, doesn’t it?

    “What neither the Times nor Petraeus tells you, however, is that those insurgent groups have made it very clear that their condition for such negotiations is a credible American commitment to withdrawal – exactly what the Bush administration will not tolerate.”

    AF (d700ef)

  9. The Washington Post link quoting various sources answering “Is the Iraq War Lost?” was interesting. The first answer was “Yes” from Barbara K. Bodine, who is blandly identified as “a former ambassador and a coordinator” here. On the other hand, in two quotes that answered the war is not lost, the speakers were identified in a more controversial manner: As a “proponent of the recent surge” [Frederick W. Kagan, AEI] and as an “Iraqi scholar who supported the U.S. invasion” [Kanan Makiya].

    Is Barbara K. Bodine the neutral scholar she seems in the Washington Post article? Let’s investigate: In December 2005, Bodine wrote an op-ed that was apparently published in the Washington Post (and released by the JFK School here) arguing for an “explicit U.S. commitment soon after the election to disengage militarily by certain dates.” She repeated that call for withdrawal in the January/February 2006 issue of the Boston Review. Why, then, didn’t the Washington Post identify Bodine as a “proponent of immediate withdrawal”?

    Interestingly, Bodine was also the Ambassador to Yemen when the USS Cole was bombed, a position that gave rise to her 15 minutes of TV infamy in a PBS Frontline documentary and in the ABC docudrama Path to 9/11. According to Wikipedia:

    “According to a PBS Frontline documentary, Bodine’s actions, in particular her alleged conflict with FBI agent John P. O’Neill, may have inhibited the FBI’s investigation into the Cole attack, potentially contributing to the intelligence failure that resulted in the September 11, 2001 attacks. Bodine and others deny this.”
    “The ABC miniseries compressed Bodine’s role to a single extended scene (much of it improvised), suggesting she was dismissive, hostile, and vulgar toward O’Neill from the moment of his arrival in Yemen.”

    The Washington Post article doesn’t mention this. I don’t know if the reports about Bodine are true but they strike me as relevant to evaluating her opinions.

    DRJ (3e5f88)

  10. What neither the Times nor Petraeus tells you, however, is that those insurgent groups have made it very clear that their condition for such negotiations is a credible American commitment to withdrawal – exactly what the Bush administration will not tolerate.

    I suppose the idea that doing what mass-murderers/terrorists want is perhaps a bad idea…

    The capitulation idea was tried before…

    Had did it work with Hitler?

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  11. Scott, what exactly are you saying? This whole post is a discussion of the seemingly positive effects of negotiating (and bribing) local sheiks. The post I quoted referred to the unacknowledged reasons for their cooperation, and wonders how long it will last.
    I’ll post the first part as well

    David Petraeus said some very interesting things while in Washington, which – if you read between the lines – suggests that he gets what’s going on in Iraqi Sunni politics. His remarks hint at the dividing lines between al-Qaeda and the major factions of the Sunni insurgency, even if for American public consumption he presents it in an overly simplified “al-Qaeda vs pro-American tribes and former insurgents”.

    Such recognition runs even more clearly through today’s pretty good New York Times piece from Ramadi – and I’m glad to see some real reporting on this, which goes beyond the cheerleading pieces at the Weekly Standard. The Times (and, I strongly suspect, Petraeus) gets the highly provisional nature of the current tribal cooperation with the American forces and the key role of the insurgency, which it admits “still thrives among the province’s overwhelmingly Sunni population, killing American and Iraqi security forces and civilians alike.” This part also reflects my reading of the situation: “But while the anti-American sheiks in Anbar and Al Qaeda both opposed the Americans, their goals were different. The sheiks were part of a relatively moderate front that sought to drive the Americans out of Iraq; some were also fighting to restore Sunni Arab power. But Al Qaeda wanted to go even further and impose a fundamentalist Islamic state in Anbar, a plan that many of the sheiks did not share.” Yes, once again: it is rising al-Qaeda power, not the American surge, which has triggered these developments. I do question the article’s suggestion that the insurgency factions are fading away, however – this may be the perception of the American military officials interviewed, but it doesn’t mesh with what I’ve been hearing (though my sources of course could be the ones which are wrong, who knows?).

    AF (d700ef)

  12. AF,

    When it comes to Sunni tribal cooperation with the US forces, it sounds like you and Marc Lynch believe that “wondering how long it lasts” translates to “knowing it won’t last long.” That may be a reasonable assumption or it may not. What’s your best argument for why we shouldn’t give these new relationships time to work?

    DRJ (3e5f88)

  13. My arguments:
    -why didn’t we start this year’s ago? Shows we’re bumbling.
    -I’m not interested in Wilsonian transformational games. Want to invade lands and hang enemy rulers. And we did that.

    TCO (69ce0d)

  14. Do the tribes of al Anbar believe in democracy, or do they have hereditary leaders, DRJ?

    alphie (015011)

  15. Corralary to 13: We’ve been waiting for every other flavor of the month to work. Why should we keep doing that?

    TCO (69ce0d)

  16. “And I say this as a hawk. I feel no urge to back their play any longer.”

    As his mask drops, I fail to see any signs of a hawk in TCO’s comments. Nice unmasking Patterico.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  17. I was the one literally toasting Saddam swinging. I loved it that the Shia showed him the rope ever half hour the night before he died. But hanging around in a misguided Wilsonian occupation to try to get cousin-marrying Arabs to become democratic? Bleh. I don’t need to do that. And I don’t need to bail out George Bush. He’s shown himself to be a moron.

    TCO (69ce0d)

  18. Alphie,

    I assume they have hereditary leaders but I don’t know that for a fact. Is that a bar to working within a democratic framework? Admittedly it’s not ideal but there are monarchies that manage to coexist with democracies, and I don’t see any compelling reason to believe Sunni Arab tribes can’t, too.

    DRJ (3e5f88)

  19. Patterico – I used to think that the shortest measurement of time was the interval between when a stop light changed from red to green and a New York City cab driver began leaning on his horn.

    Following this blog, I am becoming more convinced now that it is the interval from when you post a new piece, no matter the subject matter or position, and when AF takes a contrary or argumentative position.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  20. DRJ: A sophisticated plan to use the sheiks needs to consider the tension involved in elected rulers and non-elected rulers. Your example of figurehead monarchs, btw seems weak and inappropriate as we are discussing real power-sharing here. We need to think about things like is the current elected government tenable, and if not, what form of government will exist in Iraq after we leave?

    TCO (69ce0d)

  21. More news about Bush friends.. remember we need a governement that will fight terrorists and work for national unity..well guess what. Bush was right..Bush Sr that is when he said this was a land of bitter divisions..

    BAGHDAD – A department of the Iraqi prime minister’s office is playing a leading role in the arrest and removal of senior Iraqi army and national police officers, some of whom have apparently worked too aggressively to combat violent Shiite militias, according to U.S. military officials in Baghdad.

    Since March 1, at least 16 army and national police commanders have been fired, detained or pressured to resign; at least nine of them are Sunnis, according to U.S. military documents shown to The Washington Post.

    Although some of the officers appear to have been fired for legitimate reasons, such as poor performance or corruption, several were considered to be among the better Iraqi officers in the field. The dismissals have angered U.S. and Iraqi leaders who say the Shiite-led government is sabotaging the military to achieve sectarian goals.

    Charlie (55cd2b)


    By Robert Windrem and Alex Johnson
    NBC News
    Updated: 1 hour, 55 minutes ago

    NEW YORK – Former CIA Director George Tenet’s defense of his agency’s performance in the lead-up to the war in Iraq will echo from now through Election Day next year, but other disclosures in his new book are equally sobering and, in laying out the scope of al-Qaida’s ambitions, sometimes far more frightening.

    The book, “At the Center of the Storm,” which is being published Monday, reveals that al-Qaida or groups affiliated with it have undertaken several other operations aimed at equaling or even surpassing the carnage of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

    The operations, which either were thwarted by authorities or were canceled for one reason or another, included efforts to assassinate Vice President Al Gore with anti-tank missiles during a trip to Saudi Arabia, release cyanide in the New York subway system and procure weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, from Pakistani nuclear scientists.


    Charlie (55cd2b)

  23. It’s not a question of whether the tribes have elected leaders (they don’t) and arguing about that is fiddling while a city’s on fire.

    “What neither the Times nor Petraeus tells you, however, is that those insurgent groups have made it very clear that their condition for such negotiations is a credible American commitment to withdrawal – exactly what the Bush administration will not tolerate.”

    Are we going to withdraw?
    So how long will their cooperation last? And by staying, aren’t we therefore weakening out position in the area and strengthening Al Qaeda, by encouraging Iraqi nationalists to side with more extreme elements that are more dangerous to us in the long run? That’s Marc Lynch’s point. Read the posts.

    AF (d700ef)

  24. and arguing about that is fiddling while a city’s on fire.

    You know that’s a myth right?

    Taltos (c99804)

  25. You know that’s a myth right?
    So is Sisyphus, but that doesn’t keep the word “Sisyphean” from having meaning in modern society.

    Rick Wilcox (bb4b76)

  26. This tactic was tried by Major. Hector Mirabile
    in Ramadi at the outset of the war, than Marine
    Lt. Col. Paul Kennedy, took over and went more
    on the S&D tactics, in the aftermath of the dual
    insurgencies in Al Anbar/Shia heartland.McMaster was the real Commdr.responsible for the successes in Tall a Far, in 2005, Yingling is trying to take credit for it. As to the argument about forces, where did he think we were getting the
    extra troops from; haven’t we been told almost
    every division, has been deployed to Iraq and or
    Afghanistan, at one point. Does he think drawing from the meager garrisons in Colombia, Yemen,
    Phillipines, et al; curtail our operations in the
    NorthWest Frontier altogether; where does he think
    the extra troops would come from; bring back the
    7th ACR, that would have taken another year or
    Almost 80 years ago, fmr RAF turned Specials Services Capt. John Bagot Glubb, tried the same
    tactics in Dulaimi/Al Anbar province, particularly
    with the rise of the Ilkwan (proto-Al Queda raiders in the late 20s, at the tail end of the
    success of “Get out of Mesopotamia Campaign”
    which preceded the Assyrian/Turkumen massacre
    and the rise of the Golden Square militarist
    typified by Prime Minister Rashid Al Ghailani,
    the leader behind the farhud (pogrom) of the
    Jewish residents of Baghdad, in the aftermath
    of the second Allied incursion in 1941.Rashid himself the son of the naquib (head of the religious guild) which typified British preference for Sunni religious and political leaders over the rising Shia majority.

    narciso (1f0f07)

  27. The reason that they are working with locals is largely because they have no other choice. That of course makes the agendas of the locals paramount.

    Grotius (542623)

  28. So is Sisyphus, but that doesn’t keep the word “Sisyphean” from having meaning in modern society.

    The difference being that the story of Sisyphus was created to teach a lesson about hubris, whereas the story of Nero fiddling while Rome burned was a deliberate slander against an unpopular ruler. I wonder why that might be relevant.

    Taltos (c99804)

  29. AF,

    You’ve repeatedly mentioned that some Sunni tribal leaders insist on an American commitment to withdrawal before they will agree to cooperate. That must mean that you take them at their word and perhaps you are right to believe there is no give in their position. However, since you clearly think words matter, please apply that standard to the Democratic leaders who have publicly proclaimed the surge won’t work and the war is lost. In other words, by your logic, the Democrats’ words will also change the dynamics of the war.

    As for me, I think the tribal leaders and the Democrats are full of empty rhetoric.

    DRJ (3e5f88)

  30. TCO,

    Sorry you didn’t like my monarchy example, which by the way was not limited to a “figurehead monarchy” despite your characterization of it as such.

    I think democracy is a flexible form of government. Like making sausage, the democratic process can be ugly and unpleasant and no one thinks it will be easy to bring democracy to the Middle East. The alternative is to argue we shouldn’t try, and I’m not ready to give up after a mere 4 years.

    DRJ (3e5f88)

  31. “no one thinks it will be easy to bring democracy to the Middle East.”

    As if that’s our job.
    As if that’s the reason we went in to begin with; and when even liberal zionists argue that democracy in neighboring arab states would be bad for Israel and thus it’s important that we support the Saudis and Mubarak.
    As if the Iran under the Shah was a democracy.
    As if Iraq under the man we helped install in power was a democracy.
    As if what we’re more likely to do is undermine the reformers in Iran.
    Where are the reformers in Saudi Arabia? And how much stronger are the reactionaries?

    The arrogance of those who consider their own ignorance irrelevent.

    AF (d700ef)

  32. AF,

    If your last line was aimed at me, I’ll admit to ignorance but not arrogance. I’ll also admit to being curious: Is it America you find distasteful or American democracy?

    DRJ (3e5f88)

  33. DRJ,

    My conclusion about AF is that a watchful eye should be kept on him should he ever purchase a firearm or enroll in a university. There are just too many connotations of “Mercedes-driving, vodka-drinking plutocrats” in his anti-American rants.

    nk (db0112)

  34. 31: The point is not that it’s impossible to imagine a dialectic that encomapasses the opposites, but that skullsweat an attention to the tension is needed. Capisce?

    TCO (69ce0d)

  35. “I’ll also admit to being curious: Is it America you find distasteful or American democracy?”

    My family fought the British in the war of independence, and my parents spent their lives working to defending the Constitution: defending the CPUSA the Klan and Ollie North among others (it’s a matter of principle, you’ll understand.) I like Mercedes sedans from the early 70’s, though I used to own a Volvo with a re-bored engine and a racing cam, We had to buy our gas at the local airport or the thing would knock like crazy. It grumbled below 70 mph, and was happiest at 95.
    Democracy like freedom is hard work, and you boys are lazy.

    AF (d700ef)

  36. NK,

    Your ability to instinctively “know” people and situations is amazing. Does it work with lottery numbers, too?

    DRJ (3e5f88)

  37. DRJ #37,

    What’s instinctive about recognizing AF’s nuttiness after all the stuff he has written here?

    nk (db0112)

  38. TCO #35,

    America and Americans aren’t subtle or nuanced. In fact, our greatest strength may be our bullheadedness in the face of adversity. We’ve overcome financial adversity with the sustained ability to produce enormous wealth; dramatically reduced racism and sexism with an unparalleled commitment to integration of minorities and women into society; developed life-saving treatments for diseases that were once thought untreatable; and so forth.

    I’m not against acting like Lawrence of Arabia as we carefully meld our form of democracy into Arabic society but why bother? T.E. Lawrence has “been there, done that” and it didn’t work. Maybe it’s time to try the American way. After all, if America can introduce democracy in Japan – one of the most insulated nations and cultures in history – I think it’s at least equally possible in Middle Eastern nations.

    DRJ (3e5f88)

  39. NK,

    It’s not this thread as much as a variety of comments you’ve written over the past year or two. I think you have a gift for identifying what motivates people and applying it to real life. Or maybe you are a keen observer of human behavior. I don’t know but I’ve learned to think twice when your instinct runs counter to mine.

    DRJ (3e5f88)

  40. Huh?
    Meanwhile, the conversation has gone elsewhere

    AF (d700ef)

  41. I know, I know, AF. No linky equals no thinky. Meantime, please take your medicine and stay away from firearms.

    nk (db0112)

  42. FWIW I view AF as very, very passionate about topics that matter to him/her. I feel that way about some things, too. A blog like Patterico’s is a good place to try to set aside our emotions and logically analyze issues, even if they go against our default beliefs.

    DRJ (3e5f88)

  43. DRJ,

    I don’t know what Patterico intended with the comment section of this blog but I have always viewed it as hanging around with the guys (and gals). Say something smart, say something stupid, yell at somebody even your own host …. Next day or next hour Patterico provides something new to talk about.

    nk (db0112)

  44. Katy: Is this really what you’re gonna do for the rest of your life?

    Boon: What do you mean?

    Katy: I mean hanging around with a bunch of animals getting drunk every weekend.

    Boon: No! After I graduate, I’m gonna get drunk every night.

    DRJ (3e5f88)

  45. Exerpts from a letter sent by CIA members to G Tenent..more proof the war was started on Bush lies..
    28 April 2007
    Mr. George Tenet
    c/o Harper Collins Publishers
    10 East 53rd Street
    8th Floor
    New York City, New York 10022

    ATTN: Ms. Tina Andredis

    Dear Mr. Tenet:

    We write to you on the occasion of the release of your book, At the Center of the Storm. You are on the record complaining about the “damage to your reputation”. In our view the damage to your reputation is inconsequential compared to the harm your actions have caused for the U.S. soldiers engaged in combat in Iraq and the national security of the United States.

    We agree with you that Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials took the United States to war for flimsy reasons. We agree that the war of choice in Iraq was ill-advised and wrong headed. You were not a victim. You were a willing participant in a poorly considered policy to start an unnecessary war and you share culpability with Dick Cheney and George Bush for the debacle in Iraq.

    You helped send very mixed signals to the American people and their legislators in the fall of 2002. CIA field operatives produced solid intelligence in September 2002 that stated clearly there was no stockpile of any kind of WMD in Iraq. This intelligence was ignored and later misused. On October 1 you signed and gave to President Bush and senior policy makers a fraudulent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)-which dovetailed with unsupported threats presented by Vice President Dick Cheney in an alarmist speech on August 26, 2002.

    You were well aware that the White House tried to present as fact intelligence you knew was unreliable.
    You showed a lack of leadership and courage in January of 2003 as the Bush Administration pushed and cajoled analysts and managers to let them make the bogus claim that Iraq was on the verge of getting its hands on uranium. You signed off on Colin Powell’s presentation to the United Nations. And, at his insistence, you sat behind him and visibly squandered CIA’s most precious

    Charlie (55cd2b)

  46. Reat post 47 and tell me Bush and Cheney dont deserve impeachment for all the lives they have taken . BASTARDS..

    Charlie (55cd2b)

  47. Not to interrupt your crazy or anything, but of the signatories to that letter only one of them was actually in the CIA under Bush II and they all have political axes to grind.

    Taltos (c99804)

  48. This isn’t the letter by Larry’ Terrorism, is an
    overblown problem, June 2001,” Johnson, is it.
    Disregard then,

    narciso (6884e7)

  49. It is.

    Taltos (c99804)

  50. From Dave Kilcullen, who is in Baghdad as Petraeus’ chief advisor on COIN operations, some thoughts on why “gated communities” in Baghdad could stop sectarian violence. Note also Kilcullen’s speculation regarding why al Qaeda blew up the Sarafiya Bridge (Iron Bridge).

    DRJ (40716e)

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