Comments Posted By harrison
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Some left-wing bloggers have pointed out that the right-wing is only receptive to articles and viewpoints of the Left when those perspectives are in line with those of the right. Case in point, david at the snafu principle:

"In seriousness... You see, I'm more than just a little suspicious of the right wing pundits who disregard and assail everything that is "liberal" in their view, and then, all of a sudden with "one voice" seems to have found some "liberal" views (ones that seem an awful lot like conservative views!) that they like from that liberal bastion of the media, the NYTimes."

What is it that irks the left so badly when someone who they thought was 'on their side' begins to admit that perhaps it is actually logically possible for Patraeus and the US Army to be able to do good in Iraq, and that success is possibly viable in the future? The leftists view such behaviour as betrayal of their cause, which by now should be familiar to most of us: the utter defeat and humiliation of the Bush administration and the defanging of the military.

That they accord more importance in establishing ideological rigidity and uniformity of views on the left than admitting that perhaps for once, they should actually be looking out for the best interests of the nation instead of haranguing any 'defector' as a traitor of their cause - that is alone proof of their ignorance and demagoguery.

Another defeatist wrote: "The Surge was supposed to enable the Iraqi government to function better. It hasn't. Thus, it is an utter failure."

The surge had less than wildly ambitious objectives, one of which has been to provide Gen. Patraeus with the manpower necessary to facilitate cooperation with the Sunni tribes, training with the Iraqi Army side-by-side, equipping their commanders with skills to lead their men, live with the Iraqi people and cultivate rapport , relations and contacts - all of which contribute to providing the right conditions for the Iraqi Army to function properly and establish security, which will in turn guarantee the right political climate for the government to work in.

It is typical of defeatists to simply assume what those objectives were, point out one or two little inconsistences (in this case, political gridlock and intransigence of Iraqi politicians) and then deem the strategy an utter failure. The war in Iraq has been complex and arduous - that we do not deny, and we can only expect the same from the years to come. If there's anything the campaign has taught us, it is patience.

But of course, defeatists can't wait to write any chance of success off.

Comment Posted By harrison On 30.07.2007 @ 22:51


Both Nasrallah and Saniora know that with each confrontation that passes in Lebanon, the capacity for crisis management is diminishing. As the threshold for outright civil war is continually lowered, any sort of provocation could be interpreted as the spark to light the tinderbox. In short, much like Sarajevo 1914.

I agree with rick that Nasrallah's interests in Lebanon have begun to deviate from Iran's, in that Hezbollah's agenda has always been to forge a state-within-a-state whereby the Shiite bloc would either have a majority or at least considerable veto power over the other factions, especially the Sunnis. Civil war would openly antagonise Sunnis to confront Shias on the street, destabilising any sort of legitimate platform Hezbollah has so far cautiously sought to build.

Iran, on the other hand, could seriously care less should civil war erupt in Lebanon. Hezbollah is expendable - as long as there is chaos and anarchy in Lebanon, as long as there are Iranian patrons willing to take up the gauntlet from Hezbollah in Lebanon - and at the very least Iran will be contented with the proxy status of Shiite-Sunni violence ala Iraq.

Syrian interests speak otherwise, for the possibility of Hezbollah operatives working independently of Nasrallah's authority running the risk of retreating to Syria - thus giving Israel and the Lebanese forces casus belli to strike at Syrian targets - will increase as the situation becomes untenable: imagine Sunnis in open revolt against Hezbollah agents, and without the necessary base of support and entrenched network of spies and imformants, Hezbollah's position will be radically threatened. Furthermore, civil war is contagious, and Syria itself knows that its social fabric is a brittle, fragile one.

And this presents a viable opportunity whereby we can exploit the dichotomy between Syria and Iran - to Iran, Syria is just another puppet state, a proxy that will be sacrificed should existential threat be posed to Iran itself. Syrian interests lean towards an 'uneasy peace', while Iranian interests are more inclined to the mantra of "moderated anarchy" - any form of violence that can be buffered by states around Iran.

rick, as to whether Iran is truly concerned about not having more blood of Sunnis on their hands, their continued fuelling of ethnic cleansing in Iraq has only betrayed their intentions to exploit Arabs to kill Arabs. Funding of aQ, al-Ansar has only served to convince Shiites that Iran still remains fundamentally Persian, and any sort of violence between Shiites and Sunnis bodes well for Iran. A balance of terror, if you will. But of course, Iran is playing its cards much more carefully in Iraq, for there exists no buffer between the two nations.

Comment Posted By harrison On 26.01.2007 @ 21:36


Just a question: if Iran truly does stop exporting oil via the Straits of Hormuz by closing it, does that not further worsen their economic situation? Rising domestic consumption, failure to produce at OPEC-designated levels - they need all the patrons they can get. If Iran stops exporting oil in the future, it wouldn't be because they wanted to "punish" us; it would be because they didn't have enough for themselves.

Such a radical move would not only give us casus belli (as if the nuclear issue and the Foreign Legions in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine haven't already), but disincentivise future patrons and investors to cut deals with Iran.

Comment Posted By harrison On 11.01.2007 @ 21:01


Great wrap-up, rick - my sentiments, exactly.

al-Sadr's presence - regardless of whether he is dormant or active - emboldens Maliki to defy the US when it comes to dealing with the real problem of the militias. Remove al-Sadr and Maliki's government may very well collapse. True, but the Iraqi Army will remain intact: the political cost is painful but ultimately necessary, because we don't need a quiescent puppet of al-Sadr to run the country; as long as al-Sadr stays, pretty soon, the entire strategy of clear-and-hold will crumble as Sadrist infiltration starts permeating from the nexus of Sadr City - all with the clandestine aid of Maliki. Remember: al-Sadr is Maliki's safety net. If the former lives, the latter will always have an option not to cooperate with us.

Sometimes we have to take a good look at who our "allies" are in Iraq - identify who will work with us and who will not. Look at their actions, not their rhetoric.

I believe Bush feels that he must at least portray that we are exhausting all options before either something decisive is done, or - horror of horrors - we decide to withdraw unequivocally. Maliki has this one chance - do it or screw it.

Comment Posted By harrison On 11.01.2007 @ 09:30


headhunt 23, thanks for the link. Even the soldiers on the ground are not demoralised, yet the MSM would have us believe otherwise.

gil, agreed that Maliki is not one to naturally trust, especially since he has shown the penchant for using al-Sadr as political cover.

I'm beginning to seriously doubt Maliki's sincerity:

During his meeting with Mr. Bush in Jordan in November, Mr. Maliki presented a plan that would shift most Americans to the periphery of Baghdad so they could concentrate on fighting Sunni insurgents while the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government asserted more control over the capital. That has left some American officials wondering whether the Maliki government was making a legitimate bid to exercise sovereignty or is committed to a sectarian Shiite agenda.

And this:

The Americans have not been the only ones underscoring the need for benchmarks. The Maliki government has pressed to gain direct command of Iraq’s 10 army divisions, insisting it should be achieved by June. Some American officials have been concerned that it is overambitious. Nevertheless, an administration official has indicated that it is among the goals.

With Fallon's appointment confirmed, and the possibility of a sea/air assault on Iran, perhaps Bush will devolve responsibility of ground forces (partially) to the Maliki government. Of course, it is surely sceptical to trust that Maliki would not simply undermine the Iraqi forces by turning them over to al-Sadr - as he has betrayed his penchant for using the Sadrists as political cover - and so this represents a crucial juncture at which Maliki himself can prove that he sides with us rather than allow sectarianism and militias to flourish in Iraq.

If he spurns this opportunity - and trust me, I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised, and neither should anyone - then it's safe to say that Maliki's authority - or whatever's left of it - should be overridden without hesitation or second-guessing.

Perhaps I'm being too optimistic, or placing too much faith in Bush, rick, but let's hope he does something substantial, concrete and fast.

Comment Posted By harrison On 8.01.2007 @ 22:57


Iran getting a nuke is "bad", but I believe a nuclear-armed Middle East, with irrational actors like Iran at its helm, is much, much worse. Right now, with Fallon's appointment, perhaps the US is manoeuvring towards the scenario of a sea/air assault on Iran.

However, this is Olmert we're talking about, so I don't expect anyone to truly believe this report, unless he grew a spine overnight.

Comment Posted By harrison On 7.01.2007 @ 20:34


It's not just about Jamil Hussein.

Flopping Aces: As many of us have said from the beginning, finding Jamil Hussein will not make this story go away. Actually it makes it better since we can now question him on how he has been able to report on stories all across Baghdad. On why no other witnesses can be found other then three who will not go on record, everyone else says it didn't happen. On why there is no record of any bodies going to a morgue or hospital as the AP reported. On why no family of the victims can be found nor can the vicims be identified.

Lots of questions to be answered.

This doesn't for one second absolve the AP from anything. In fact, it would provide incontrovertible evidence that AP sees no need in verifying and validating its sources. If Jamil Hussein were to escape - provided that he even exists - none of these would have pinned the AP down for good.

Comment Posted By harrison On 5.01.2007 @ 23:04


Good post, Rick.

Short of an actual invasion of Iran, we should

1) Transfer our troops to secure the Iraq-Iran border, prevent direct channels through which funding of Shiite death squads, Madhi Army, SCIRI and aQ insurgents; the surge seems proportionally directed towards more logistical support than boots on the ground

2) Continue to do more of this, and don't let up

3) Wait it out. Without oil, Iran is nothing.

4) Perhaps Iran's new leaders will be more receptive? See Rick's recent post regarding Khamenei's death.

Comment Posted By harrison On 4.01.2007 @ 23:36

Good post, Rick.

Short of an actual invasion of Iran, we should

1) Start transferring our troops to secure the Iraq-Iran border - preventing the direct channel through which the mullahs are funding the Madhi Army, SCIRI and aQ insurgents; the "surge" seems to consist more of logistical personnel than boots on the ground

2) Continue doing this and don't let up.

3) Wait it out. Without oil, Iran is nothing.

4)And as Rick himself mentioned in this recent post, who knows whether Iran might be more receptive regarding the nuclear issue?

Comment Posted By harrison On 4.01.2007 @ 23:23


Rick, I'd have to agree with Mike Ulrich.

I do read your site daily, and I find myself agreeing with you on several issues, but this I'd have to disagree. The Quran speaks nothing of tolerance. Taqqiya is a dangerous Trojan Horse.

Comment Posted By harrison On 4.01.2007 @ 23:39

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