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Friday, September 21, 2007

update: oh my Kevin D um linked to me ! Thanks.

But since this will not just be read by my regular readers [both of them] I should be more uhm measured.

The article is mostly analysis and opinion plus review of facts known to blog addicts, but that's ok.

Graham did make a brave attempt to find facts traveling in Iraq without coalition military escort. He gets an A for effort and an A+ for courage. Unfortunately his prominent Sunni friends didn't tell him an thing that the haven't told the world -- the are eager to fight al Qaeda. Still virtue in mags is still virtue even if it doesn't lead to good quotes.

The article is mostly blog standard pessimism and Bush bashing. Convincing but extremely familiar to me.

My objections are, in large part, based on knee jerk anti anti Americanism and anti anti anti neoconserativism. Forced by evidence I am willing to concede that the US has done tons of horrible things, but I will not concede one micro-gram more than I have to. In particular, I don't like criticism of Democratic Presidents not named
Lyndon [when pressed I will admit that one committed tons no kilotons of war crimes].

The anti anti anti neo is newer. Graham claims that the reflexive belief that ever thing that neocons say is false leads knee jerk anti neocons to claim that Iran is not meddling in Iraq. I am such a knee jerk neoconophobe and I waste much of m time reading knee jerk neoconophobic blogs and I haven't read an such suggestion. Graham's position on Iranian actions in Iraq is identical to that found on the man liberal to leftist blogs that I read, so wh is he congratulating himself on the non jerkiness of his knee ?

as to the typos, I have a semi excuse. The day before yesterday the r and y keys of my keyboard stopped working. I use cntl c cntl v to cut and paste r o y, but then have to go through and look for the other missing ys o rs. I'll get it fixed soon.

I am disappointed by This article in McCleans by Patrick Graham which was recommended by Kevin Drum.

My main complaint is that it consists almost entirely of opinion with no new facts.

For example what about Iran ?

Just as one is accused of being a pro-Saddam, Baathist sympathizer if you crit­icize the government in Baghdad, so one is accused of being a neo-con if you point out how deeply in­­volved Iran has become in Iraq. The role Iran plays is as complex and shady as can be expected in a situation that is so murky on so many different levels, from neighborhood turf wars to world oil strate­­gies and a proxy war with America. But the U.S. government is right to be concerned, al­though it’s not clear they can do much except protest, threaten loudly, and fight a secret, dirty war.

Oh so it's murk to you too. Thanks. Glad you managed to stick in that swipe and un-named critics though.

Iraq, Iran’s neighbour to the west, is Tehran’s self-declared security zone. Iran has already been attacked once from Iraq—by a then-American ally, Saddam—and won’t let it happen again. Nor do the Iranians want, as the West does, a secular Iraqi government that could destabilize their own theocracy. For them, Iraq is a survival issue. U.S.-led invasions have conquered not only Iraq but Afghanistan on Iran’s eastern flank. The U.S. Navy is floating off Iranian shores. Every few weeks, Washington debates whether to bomb Iran. How could Iran afford not to be involved in Iraq? Following the American example, the Iranians have learned that it’s bet­­­ter to fight the U.S. on the streets of Baghdad than the streets of Tehran.

Huh ? Since when was Saddam Hussein a US ally when he invaded Iran ? That is absurd. At the time, Iraq was a Soviet ally. 1980ears late the US "tilted" towards Saddam, sharing intelligence and saying relations could improve at a rate chosen b Iraq. Come on you remember the photo of Donald rumsfeld shaking Saddam's hand. Do ou think Jimmy Carter sent rumsfeld as an envoy ? Or has Mr Graham forgotten when the Iran Iraq war started ? September 1980

Now a diplomatic opening is not an alliance, but in any case there were not even normal relations between Iraq and the USA in September 1980. Oddly, massive Soviet, Saudi and French assistance to Iraq is, more or less, forgotten while evasion in the US ban on money for arms is remembered. Check out the sipri database to find that less than 1 percent of arms sold to Iraq from 1980 through 1990, during the "alliance", came from the USA. France sold more than 22 times as much.

Also still no information on what, if anything Iranians are doing.

The real question is, [snip]

The actual influence of Iran on the Iraqi government is hard to gauge. [snip] thought to [snip]
These days, though, the biggest concern on the highways of Baghdad is not Sunni insurgent bombs, but the explosively formed penetrators that fire a molten copper slug through even American heavy armour. According to U.S. intelligence, they are provided by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps to Shia militias. Of course, U.S. intelligence accusations are now as suspect as the Iranian government denials that they provoke.

In other words he doesn't know squat. All he reports is what US intelligence says and that he doesn't trust them.

He does know that the US is behind everything bloody that is done by our non adversaries

"In 1994, the U.S. quietly helped to build up the Croatian army, allowing the Croats to sweep through Serb-held Krajina the following year, viciously cleansing it of the Serbs."

Does he know of an evidence of such building up ? I don't. I assume he writes "quietly " because he has no evidence.

Good lord he even claims that we created sectarian hatred in Iraq ?!?!?

Early on, the American-controlled occupying government created a “Governing Council” organized on sectarian lines, with money being funnelled through various groups according to their “ethno-sectarian” divisions. This only increased existing divisions, and once an actual Iraqi government was elected it governed purely along sectarian lines.

he means that rather that fight sciri the Bush admin tried to coopt them, which is one of the few sane things they ever did. Also what sect was represented by the Iraqi communist party ? "The Iraqi Communist Party opposed the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 but decided to work with the new political institutions established after the occupation. Its secretary, Hamid Majid Mousa, accepted a position on the Interim Iraq Governing Council."

The council included many Iraqis not connected to sectarian movements and chosen because they tried to resist Saddam Hussein. Sectarian factions formed, because it was in Iraq not because it was organized that way by the Bushians.

I think Graham is forming his views on Iraq based on his relatively cosmopolitan friends and is out of touch with most Iraqis.

The article contains few facts and many of those which I can check are wrong. The guiding principle seems to be "always blame the Americans; you are right even if you are wrong."

This, however is impressive

A few years ago, I was asked to speak about Iraq at a conference on insurgencies. At the end of the day, participants were asked to guess what might happen in five years. I said I thought the U.S. would be allied with the Sunnis and fighting Iran. In a limited way, that has turned out to be the case. To some degree, the military has switched sides in the middle of the fight.

if you always blame the Americans, sometimes you are right

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