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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Handicapping the Iraqi Presidential Elections

McSweeney’s Internet tendency has already done the USA

Abdul Aziz al Hakim

Pro: Has well armed and extremely violent militia. Has the Bobby Kennedy “I’m doing it for my assassinated big brother” sentimental appeal

Con: believes that politicians should submit to clerics. Limited appeal of his moderate Islamic fundamentalist mass murderer persona.

Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Husaini al-Sistani

Pro: Once listed as most trusted person in Iraq. His photo on carried anti graven images slate to victory. Sometimes seems to be actually sane.

Con: Believes clerics should stay out of politics. Campaigning limited by refusal to leave his residence for past 30 years. Is Iranian and 300 years old.

Abu Musab al Zarqawi
Pro: 90 virgins willing to stuff ballot boxes
Con: Jordanian and dead

Iyad Allawi
Pro: once killed ax weilding Ba'athist agents with his bare hands
Con: Lost votes he needs, since only Ba'athists support him.

Jalal Talebani
Pro: Is currently President
Con: Things not going so good.

Moqtada al Sadr
Pro: famous name with appeal in Sadr city. Kicked US butt.
Con: Flip flopping between search for sectarian genocide and national unity.
Poor hair-style.

Ahmed Chalabi
Pro: Has had strong support from various allies including George Bush and Moqtada al Sadr. Has united Iraqi people.
Con: They all hate him.

Pro: Arab nationalist hero for defeating crusaders
Con: Dead for centuries. Actually a Kurd.

Ehud Olmert
Pro: more popular in Iraq than in his native country
Con: Native country is Israel.


Anonymous said...

May 18, 2007

A Father Rembers His Son, and Draws Lessons from the War

FRED THYS: Andrew Bacevich is between meetings about funeral arrangements for his son. Bacevich says when he was younger, he himself had thoughts of being buried at Arlington National Cemetery, but he can't imagine burying his son there. "We would never visit his grave, except once every six years," he says. Andrew and Nancy Bacevich have decided to bury their son in Walpole, so they can visit his grave often. Asked what he would like people to know about his son, Bacevich says the question catches him by surprise.

ANDREW BACEVICH: As a father, you never think you're going to be asked to explain what others should remember your son for.

THYS: Bacevich's ordeal is one that fathers across the country are going through, but he is able to articulate that grief as few people can.

BACEVICH: Our boy, in growing up, was never the star athlete.

THYS: And yet, at Boston University, Andy Bacevich decided he'd run a Boston Marathon two days before the race. He ran as a bandit, a runner without a number, and turned in a respectable time. He ran several more marathons. Bacevich says he and his wife did not encourage their son to join the Army, nor did they discourage him. At BU, the younger Bacevich was in ROTC, but was dropped when it was discovered that he'd had childhood asthma. Later, while he was working for Governor Mitt Romney, the Army lifted its restriction on people with asthma. He enlisted as a private, and after basic training, went on to Officer Candidate School.

BACEVICH: And I have to say I was enormously proud of the fact that in a sense, he got his commission the hard way, no pampered college kid.

THYS: The younger Bacevich was commissioned in the same branch that his father had served in, the Armored branch of the Army. He became a platoon leader in the First Cavalry Division at Fort Hood. His orders to Iraq came last year, but the younger Bacevich wanted to run the Boston Marathon one more time.

BACEVICH: And I wanted to get him a bib number, so that he could be a... We did, and he ran it again, and finished.

THYS: The younger Bacevich deployed in October. His father wrote to him almost every day, but not wanting to burden his son, never discussed the war. And Andy, in turn, kept things from his parents. Since Andy died, a friend forwarded an e-mail he'd received from Andy to his father. In it, Andy talks about soldiers in his platoon being wounded.

BACEVICH: Andy had not told us about that, so he was trying not to burden us with worry.

THYS: There is a thought that Bacevich never shared with his son Andy, because he didn't want to burden him with it. He served in Vietnam in 1970 and 1971, when it was clear, he says, that the war was not going to be won, and was probably headed toward some dismal conclusion, and his son goes to Iraq in 2006, when it's apparent to his father that the war is not going to be won.

BACEVICH: And is probably headed for some dismal conclusion, so our kinship is that we, he and I, had a knack for picking the wrong war in which to serve.

THYS: Even through his pain, as a thoughtful critic of the war, Bacevich draws larger observations about the state of the country, striking observations about the state of American democracy that he makes while asking new questions about his obligations as a citizen and as a father.

BACEVICH: One of the things that I've been really struggling with over the last several days is to try to understand my own responsibility for my son's death....


Anonymous said...

BACEVICH: The American people spoke very clearly in November of 2006 in rejecting the policies of the Bush administration and emphatically rejecting the war policies.

THYS: And yet, he says, the war continues. The Democrats maneuver. The concerns about the presidential election of 2008 seems to take precedence over what he calls the slowly evolving tragedy in Iraq, and so, he asks himself:

BACEVICH: What kind of democracy is this when the people do speak, and the people's voice is unambiguous, but nothing happens? ...


Anonymous said...

Another terrible day on another terrible week in Iraq, and for no reason that will be found to hold as conservative ideologues are past the point of needing to rationalize the war and occupation to defend themselves. There is the point of the continued occupation, in the need of conservatives not to defend us but to defend themselves no matter how damaging to us the defense is. So, we go on.


Anonymous said...

We must leave Iraq, immediately.


Anonymous said...

Increasingly I am coming to understand just what a $2 trillion war in and occupation of Iraq has meant to American possibilities. Whether we loook to Iraq as such or to domestic economic needs involving worker well-being to international development possibilities. Iraq is crippling us, even to crippling us morally.


Anonymous said...

What the structure of the Iraqi government is or is not makes little difference while we are occupying Iraq, and I can find no evidence that we will be leaving Iraq for years to come. Squandering lives and bodies and minds and souls and material to the effect of $15.8 billion a month directly and more more more indirectly, is the issue.

We must leave Iraq completely immediately, but we will not be leaving. The insane tragedy continues.


Anonymous said...

Ah, on immigration, we should note that even Sweden has taken more immigrants from Iraq than we have.


Anonymous said...

Brad DeLong brilliantly developed arguments on social or environmental accounting in looking to the discounting on the costs of climate change limiting set down by the Stern Commission. Why then are we not doing the same in discounting the costs of Iraq, for I am continually realizing the costs are fiercer than even those who cared from the beginning have realized.