Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Divided Iraq

I usually don't agree with the NYTimes' David Brooks... But his comments regarding the future of Iraq are reasoned.

Whether we want it to or not, Iraq is moving toward partition... The quickest path out of this morass would be facilitating that reality. From the OpEd:

Gradually, leaders on all sides of the Bosnian fight came to see it was in their interest to separate their peoples. And once the ethnic groups were given sanctuary, it became possible to negotiate a peace that was imperfect, but which was better than the reverberating splashes of blood.

Today, many of the people active in Bosnia believe they have a model that could help stabilize Iraq. They acknowledge the many differences between the two places, but Iraq, they note, is a disintegrating nation. Ethnic cleansing is dividing Baghdad, millions are moving, thousands are dying and the future looks horrific.

The best answer, then, is soft partition: create a central government with a few key powers; reinforce strong regional governments; separate the sectarian groups as much as possible.


Twenty or 50 thousand troops are not likely to change the violence in Baghdad: The situation has devolved into a series of retaliatory killings... and as I mentioned in the previous post, one group may be our "friends" one day and our enemy the next.

As Brooks puts it:

In short, logic, circumstances and politics are leading inexorably toward soft partition. The Bush administration has been slow to recognize its virtues because it is too dependent on the Green Zone Iraqis. The Iraqis talk about national unity but their behavior suggests they want decentralization. Sooner or later, everybody will settle on this sensible policy, having exhausted all the alternatives.

Our fearless leader is unlikely, however, to go this route. Of course, it's likely the path that would create the most stable outcome, in the shortest order, with the least loss of life. It would most certainly entail a tremendous amount of diplomacy, and therein lies the rub: this government has shown little, if any, inclination to talk to groups with which it disagrees.

Barring a congress that grows a spine, stay-the-course will be the path through 2008.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Price of Incompetence

It's being paid almost daily by our forces in Iraq.

Then there's the long term result of our actions: A close alliance between Iran and Iraq.

As if we didn't need further evidence that Iran and Iraq will "enjoy" closer relations, the Iranian ambassador to Iraq recently announced plans to greatly expand its economic and military ties with Iraq. There's already an agreement to open the first Iranian National Bank in Iraq: a move that's sure to help bind the economic interests of the two nations together. They are reportedly also discussing the possibility of Iranians openly training Iraqi military units.

Meanwhile, our forces continue to fight with no clear strategy in mind. A recently returned correspondent's report highlights the problem: he explains how our forces investigated a Sunni attack on a Shia neighborhood... The American's and Shia worked together to try and determine who the "bad guys" were...

Of course, when the Shia found out, they retaliated. Our forces attempted to intervene and stop the fighting -- when, predictably, the Shia opened fire on the Americans.

How are our forces expected to "enforce" anything in such an environment? One moment you fight to defend a group of people, the next you are fighting those same people.

There was a time when our mis-underestimated leader had a chance to salvage something out of the debacle that is his Middle-East policy. That time has long since past. His decisions and ineptitude will not only result in the deaths of thousands of Americans, but will help to reshape the region and make Iran a true hegemon -- one that the Saudi's are becoming concerned about.

The only question that remains is will the American people hold dear-leader, and those like-minded, accountable for their incompetence. The country needs to make some hard decisions (like getting out of this mess in short-order) but we also need to fire the "CEO President" that got us into it.

Clean house at home first --

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A bit of Buddhist Wisdom

Those who have read my blog know that I'm not religious. However, I have read some introductory Buddhist texts and thought I'd share one (of the many) I find insightful:

You should make your observations yourself,
You should not be the man of someone else,
Not in the dependence on another should you live,
Nor go about making a trade out of holiness.


-Udana Sutta

If only more of our "mainstream" religions preached thus.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

State of the Union - Where do we go from here

I have to admit: I didn't watch it. I guess I just can't stand to listen to the man...

However, I did read parts of the presidents speech. I find it incredible that the president can stand in front of the "country" and imply that the war was going well until the Sunni's bombed the mosque in Samarra:

In Iraq, Al Qaida and other Sunni extremists blew up one of the most sacred places in Shia Islam: the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity, directed at a Muslim house of prayer, was designed to provoke retaliation from Iraqi Shia. And it succeeded.

Radical Shia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads.

The result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day.

Violence has been escalating, continually, since 2003... not just since 2005.

As Senator Webb pointed out in his response, the president

...disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable — and predicted — disarray that has followed.

Are there any conservatives out there who want to hold the president and this administration RESPONSIBLE for their errors? Regardless of ideology -- these people are incompetent...

Anyway...

I thought the Senators comments regarding the economy were right on the mark: the measure of a societies success isn't measured at the top -- by stock market numbers or GDP, but in the lot of the average citizen. We are quickly moving to a classed society: not unlike that which existed during the time of the Robber-Barrons. Most Republicans simply do not see a role for government in the regulation of free markets. But anyone who studies the theory -- and observes them in practice -- knows that such system (based on greed) - results in the accumulation of power and wealth: which is inexorably used to reinforce itself at the cost of others.

Government is the only check we have against this result. Government MUST ensure that labor/work is rewarded. In a society with cheap and easily available energy and raw materials, it is far to easy for the few to garner the lions share of the wealth while those who work to provide that wealth are left behind.

Maybe we'll start measuring the success of our society by looking at those who have the least, as opposed to those who have the most.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

White House pact hid visits amid scandal

White House pact hid visits amid scandal - Politics - MSNBC.com

Last time I checked we lived in a democracy where the leaders are accountable to the public they serve...
The White House and the Secret Service quietly signed an agreement last spring in the midst of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal declaring that records identifying visitors to the White House are not open to the public.
I'm sure using supposed presidential power to conceal embarrassing dealings is not what the founders' had in mind for our chief executives. But this president seems to think he can do whatever he needs to do to manipulate public opinion.... including covering up dealings with criminals.

How much more will it take before we try to impeach this criminal?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Religion in government: its worse than I thought

Check out: http://mrff.blogspot.com/2007/01/jeff-sharlet-ten-things-i-learned-from.html

And watch the video: http://alternet.org/blogs/video/45438/

It's even worse than I thought... A number of senior officer's and government officials openly declaring their "faith" in biblical non-sense... and how they use it to guide their professional lives. (I could care less what they do with their personal lives).

The flag officers scare me. One speaks about how his loyalty is to "god, family and then country"... Geez, I thought when you took the oath you swore to uphold the principles enshrined in the Constitution, not some book of sectarian dogma.

Watch the video -- this is scary stuff -- looks like Jesus and the Bible are running the country.

This doesn't bode well for the future of our Republic. It simply cannot survive with irrational, sectarian nut-cases infiltrating every level of government.