Monday, April 30, 2007

Riverbend vs Jarrar (How Iraqi Are You II)

[UPDATED] Two important MidEast bloggers made major announcements over the last week.

Sandmonkey announced that due to increasing attention from Egyptian security forces, he was not blogging anymore.

Riverbend announced that she and her family were finally pulling up stakes and leaving Iraq. This was a big surprise to me since I had suspected (wrongly, apparently) that she had already left Iraq. This makes her the last of the Iraqi bloggers who debuted on Salam Pax's original Iraqi blog to verifiably leave Iraq:

    ...which leaves Salam Pax --in this sense at least-- alone in Baghdad unless he has left as well unannounced (which seems unlikely) and unless Ghaith has returned permanently (which I have no word on one way or another).*

    * It seems to me that I am leaving someone out. If someone can identify that blogger, I'll update/correct this entry.

    For me, Salam's old blog used to be a valuable record of the old blogger days, but -alas- Raed so edited and purged the posts there in expectation of his need to misrepresent himself in his plea to emigrate to America that I find the posts very often do not jibe with my memory, and I'm never sure if I'm reading Salam Pax's real words or Raed's cleaned up version. For me, this was a greater loss than when Salam, fearing that Saddam's Mukhabarat were closing in on him, deleted his entire blog (later restarting it). Anyway, very unfortunate.

    But, back to the subject at hand.
    Something Riverbend said caught my eye because it reminded me of Mejed Jarrar's recent assertion about ex patriots and the Iraq the Model bloggers. He said:

    "+2 million Iraqi refugees scattered on earth are a million times more Iraqi than the ITM brothers...[the] hundreds of thousands of refugees wish to go back to Iraq to live there, ITM brothers wish that they were been born Americans. They, and everyone who thinks like them, are a shame on Iraq."

    On the other hand, this is what Riverbend says about Iraqi expats:

    I always hear the Iraqi pro-war crowd interviewed on television from foreign capitals...They refuse to acknowledge that this situation is a direct result of the war and occupation. They go on and on about Iraq's history and how Sunnis and Shia were always in conflict and I hate that. I hate that a handful of expats who haven't been to the country in decades pretend to know more about it than people actually living there.

    The irony will of course intensify if Riverbend chooses to continue blogging now that she has left Iraq. It seems that the common thread among those who write paens for the wonderful days of Saddam, is that they draw ever finer and finer lines about who is a true Iraqi (while prominently pointing to themselves) and therefore wears a halo of wisdom about what should happen (and have happened) in Iraq.

    -------------

    As she waved good-bye to Baghdad, she could not help but reel nostalgic for the halcyon days of Saddam one more time:

    I remember Baghdad before the war- one could live anywhere.
    ...unless you were a Kurd in Kirkuk, right RB? Or a Madan (Marsh Arab) in the wetlands of southern Iraq? or...well, Riverbend's family could probably live wherever they wanted...even in a Western country during the early 90's, the most paranoid, anti-Western period of Saddam's regime.
    We didn't know what our neighbors were- we didn't care. No one asked about religion or sect. No one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward.
    I'll bet. Of course, making too much of one's non-Sunni religion under Saddam was forbidden and making too much of your neighbor's was malicious.

    Expat, Iraqi Mojo has some things to say about Riverbend's last post:
    Apparently to Riverbend and a few other Iraqi bloggers, the Baathi elite are not sectarian and never were. This is not to say that Maliki's government is not sectarian in nature, and that the powerful Shia clerics (Hakim, Sadr) are not without fault, but to assert that the current Iraqi government is responsible for starting the sectarian violence is absurd. Furthermore, the current government in Iraq, as dubious as many members' qualifications may be, is a product of democracy in a Shia-majority country that has been dominated by Sunni Arabs for centuries.
    This is an excellent post. Check it out.

    To shed some concentrated reality on this oft harped myth among certain Iraqis (I hope you can take it), I direct you to the Great Pontiff of Iraqi bloggers, Ali of Free Iraqi (who once accused Riverbend of lying):

    [S]ectarian tension has always been there under the ashes in Iraq. Saddam's policy of not allowing anyone to even talk about it or admit its existence made it only stronger and now as the oppressive power is removed you can see it clearer and stronger than ever.

    and

    I think we should all look at ourselves first and for me I think the major problem is that Saddam's mentality is still running this country through people like Sadr, Al-Hakeem, Adnan Al-Dulaimi and Barzani. It's those people who keep inflaming those already existing divisions for their own benifit, as they represnt nothing but ethnic and sectarian hatred and they feed this fear and hatred among their people so that they vote for them.

    Anyway, good luck to you Riverbend. But if your next post is from San Francisco or Washington DC, I hope someone warns me so I can skip lunch before reading it.



    Update

    ITM commentor Hameed Abid hypothesizes that the Riverbend clan is getting out of Dodge before the new sheriff arrives (h/t Lousie):

    [T]he new Law to replace the Deba'athification Law is about to be approved by
    the iraqi parlaiment...The new Law will allow a period of time for people to
    lodge complaints about the former members of the Regime for the Courts to
    consider. They may be frightened they will be implicated. It is guilt escape
    plan perhaps?

    Jeff Weintraub responds to Andrew Sullivan regarding Riverbend's departure:

    [I]t also has to be kept in mind that she presents a special, one-sided, and in some ways quite misleading perspective--that of the Sunni Arab minority, and especially its urban professional classes.

    This comes through in everything she says, including the post from which you quoted. Riverbend remembers that, before 2003, it didn't matter whether you were Sunni or Shiite in Arab Iraq. But one reason she remembers it that way is that she was a member of a privileged minority. (Similarly, many whites in the US south sincerely believed that race relations were basically OK until things got stirred up by "outside agitators".) It's very clear that very, very large numbers of Iraqi Shiites saw things very differently. (Let's just ignore the way Kurds might have seen the situation--since Riverbend generally ignores that, too.)

    Impressively done too!
    (This is -officially anyway- now my second time to quote Weintraub, and I'm not even a regular reader. I guess it is time to mend my ways.)

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    Thursday, April 26, 2007

    Comments on the US Congress's Surrender Legislation

    "I would rather win the war and lose the election than vice-versa."
    Governor of New York, Thomas Dewey, Republican presidential candidate, responding to critics that he should go after Roosevelt on perceived mistakes in the war against Germany, 1944
    All Drawing by Michael Ramirez

    Today, the US Senate and Congress passed (telling word there) the Unilateral Surrender to Al-Qaeda Legislation which David Espo of the AP called "a bold wartime challenge to President Bush". That's right, Al-Qaeda has been at war with us for 14 years but the Congressional Derelicts can only mount wartime challenges against their own President. Good one.

    I've been getting instant messages from friends in Kurdistan seeking reassurance that Dubya's veto would ensure this legislation would be D.O.A. They believe that if the US pulls out, Turkey, Iran, and Al-Qaeda will rip Kurdistan into teeney little smithers. And of course they're right, but how is it in America's interest to support the US's most ardent allies in the Middle East? If you think the Kurds felt betrayed by the US in 1991, you just wait.

    The Senate passed their bill 51-46. Congress passed their bill 218-208. They need 290 votes to over-rule President Dubya's veto, so that's that.

    But Majority Ldr Sen. Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi said (in effect) that the American people had clearly voted for empty political theater and so that was what the White Flaggers were giving them.

    Cpl Tyler Rock
    Pat Dollard got a lot of traffic recently when Drudge linked to his email from Cpl Tyler Rock of Ramadi, responding Sen. Reid:

    i got a qoute for that douche harry reid. these families need us here. obviously he has never been in iraq. or atleast the area worth seeing. the parts where insurgency is rampant and the buildings are blown to pieces. we need to stay here and help rebuild....it sucks that iraqi’s have more patriotism for a country that has turned to complete shit more than the people in america who drink starbucks everyday...and the sad thing is after we WIN this war. people like him will say he was there for us the whole time....well ramadi was once dubbed by everyone as the worst city in the world. but we have done such a great job here that all the families in the area have worked with us on driving out the insurgency and that we work directly with the IA and the IP’s. the city has been cleaned up so well that the IP’s do most of the patrols now and we go out with them to hand out candy and toys to the children. you can tell that the people want us here to protect them from the thugs and gangs (insurgents).

    The NY Post then picked up the story. Dollard has since posted one and another report from Cpl Rock. To the NY Post he wrote:

    my opinion is what i already stated in the email to pat. i am a marine in iraq that isnt getting the support from a senator that should support his fellow americans. when was the last time he was here. what does he know about us “losing” besides what he wants to believe. the truth is that we are pushing al qaeda out and we are pushing the insurgency out. we are here to support a nation.”

    Barack Obama
    Sen. Barack Obama, for whom math was apparently not best subject, said, "We are one signature away from ending the Iraq war". (Well, actually, Obama is 72 votes (25%) short of surrender, but he's not counting) He continued, "President Bush must listen to the will of the American people and sign this bill so that our troops can come home.” Well, a signature by Dubya would end the war and the troops would come home...but who would win the war?

    Sen. Joe Lieberman
    Sen. Lieberman responded with the following:

    When we say that U.S. troops shouldn't be "policing a civil war," that their operations should be restricted to this narrow list of missions, what does this actually mean?

    To begin with, it means that our troops will not be allowed to protect the Iraqi people from the insurgents and militias who are trying to terrorize and kill them. Instead of restoring basic security, which General Petraeus has argued should be the central focus of any counterinsurgency campaign, it means our soldiers would instead be ordered, by force of this proposed law, not to stop the sectarian violence happening all around them—no matter how vicious or horrific it becomes.

    In short, it means telling our troops to deliberately and consciously turn their backs on ethnic cleansing, to turn their backs on the slaughter of innocent civilians—men, women, and children singled out and killed on the basis of their religion alone. It means turning our backs on the policies that led us to intervene in the civil war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the principles that today lead many of us to call for intervention in Darfur. This makes no moral sense at all.


    Iraqi Government
    Iraqi Government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh:

    "We see some negative signs in the decision because it sends wrong signals to some sides that might think of alternatives to the political process...Coalition forces gave lots of sacrifices and they should continue their mission, which is building Iraqi security forces to take over...We see (it) as a loss of four years of sacrifices."
    The Terrorists
    The terrorists had, of course, already weighed in last November saying:
    "As Arabs and Muslims we feel proud of this talk...very proud from the great successes of the Iraqi resistance. This success that brought the big superpower of the world to discuss a possible withdrawal."

    Iran
    My friends in Iran note that the Iranian press, consistently quotes the Democratic leadership with glee.


    Iraq The Model
    Last Saturday, ITM said that the "stop the war" crowd were talking to the wrong people:

    Tell the criminals to stop killing us and stop attacking the people who are risking their lives fighting for liberty and equality. We're not asking the media and the stop-the-war crowd to carry arms and shoot the terrorists; we just want them to stop shooting at us.

    [Update] Omar at ITM posted this today:

    Why are the Democrats doing this?...For four years everybody made mistakes; the administration made mistakes and admitted them and my people and leaders made mistakes as well and we regret them...I understood that by having the majority in the legislature the democrats were supposed to guide America to victory by correcting the mistakes of the past. Obviously I was wrong; they have put all their efforts into making sure the exact opposite outcome happens.
    [...]
    Quitting is not an option we can afford—not in America and definitely not in Iraq...The forces of extremism are more determined, more resourceful and more barbaric than the Nazi or the communists of the past. And with weapons they can improvise or acquire through their unholy alliance with rogue regimes-combined with their fluid structure and mobility-well, they can be even deadlier.
    [...]
    In no time al-Qaeda and all similarly extremist factions will start boasting about how America is fleeing Iraq under the heavy blows of the “Mujahideen” planned by OBL himself. The Democrats just offered al-Qaeda victory on a silver plate, and for free.

    [Update]
    Eye Raki
    Eye Raki posts for merry ol' England with nearly duplicate language:

    I don’t understand people’s obsession for wanting the US to set a timetable for troop withdrawal. No one wants the US troops to stay in Iraq forever and not least the troops themselves, but surely telling the terrorists “We are going to start leaving Iraq in October” already means they have won. Are these the messages the Democrats want to send to the people responsible for the daily killings of their men?

    "Hello Al-Qaida, we are going to get ready to hand over the country to you on a silver platter by the end of this year."

    Now that’s not to say that any Iraqi who wants a timetable is a terrorist, on the contrary, many patriotic Iraqi’s think the withdrawal of US troops will be for the better of the country…But it will be the terrorists who will have won this war.

    IraqPundit
    IraqPundit responded directly to Sen. Reid after his cynical "The war is lost" speech, and his gratuitous attribution of that belief to the Secys of State and Defense:

    I can play rhetorical games like that, too. "I believe myself that Senate
    Majority Leader Harry Reid thinks the Iraq war debate is an opportunity to
    damage the administration, and cares about nothing else. I believe myself that
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is totally indifferent to the effect of his
    words on American troops, the Iraqi people, the jihadis in Iraq, the Middle East
    at large, or anyone else as long as the administration is weakened or
    damaged."

    [btw: I'm a huuuuge fan of IraqPundit, among the most under-rated of Iraqi bloggers. Read him. Re-read his posts. And then you will be prepared to read about Iraq.]

    General Petraeus
    General Petraeus met with the leaders of the Senate and Congress. The congressional leaders at first planned to skip the meeting as superfluous since facts on the grounds were totally beside the point. But, after some embarrassing newspaper columns, they decided to pretend to listen to him afterall. Speaker of the House Pelosi skipped the meeting and listened to a summary by him on her cellphone. He said:

    NYT: Listing signs of progress he said were already evident, the general spoke of a dropoff in sectarian killings in Baghdad and of security gains in Anbar Province [cmarii: that is, tribal sheiks turning violent against Al-Qaeda there.]. He mentioned the dismantling of a car-bomb network that has been blamed for 650 deaths in Baghdad and a stepped-up pace of arms-cache seizures in the Ramadi area.

    “I am well aware that the sense of gradual progress and achievement we feel on the ground in many areas in Iraq is often eclipsed by the sensational attacks that overshadow our daily accomplishments,” he said. “There clearly are still far too many of them.”

    He emphasized the role of Al Qaeda militants, who are few in number compared with other groups of insurgents, but who are held responsible for many of the deadliest bombing attacks in Iraq.

    “It is a very significant enemy,” he said. “I think it is probably Public Enemy Number One."

    Essentially, we are making gains in Iraq, but Al-Qaeda knows that it's best tactic is to stage bigger and bigger car-bombs that will attract the interest of US television and newspapers. (And who is telling them that's a good tactic?) Predictably, White-flag Democrats used the recent mass murders as a reason to flee Iraq rather than an object lesson on what is coming to the US if they do. Also, Petaeus said:

    "Evidence of Iranian assistance to anti-American forces in Iraq has grown considerably in the past month, General Petraeus said. He noted that documents had been seized that detail the planning and conduct of anti-coalition attacks, and that the documents appeared to have been drawn up for the parties who are financing the activities.

    “And there’s no question, again, that Iranian financing is taking place through the Quds force of the Iranian Republican Guards Corps.



    Hammorabi
    Hammorabi disagrees with Petreaus that the new plan is working. He says it is only training Al-Qaeda to get better. He also worries (and I don't get why this is a bad thing for Iraq) that the terrorists move into Syria:

    It is not so far from seeing the example of Iraq in the other Arab countries and this time not by the US invasion but by the terrorists and not surprisingly the US itself may help to transfer such attacks to Syria and the others deliberately.
    From what I hear, the Syria is the penultimate stop for jihadis coming to Iraq. If they decide to stay there instead, that suits me fine. The only explanation I can discern for this is that since Hammorabi is (I have inferred) a fan of Hezbollah, he is concerned for the well-being of that organization's protector.

    BaghdadTreasure
    BaghdadTreasure agrees with Hammorabi about the success of the new plan (I think). A couple weeks ago, that mad, troubled soul excoriated Sen. McCain for saying he saw progress in Iraq, and then he turned his rabid dander on the Democrats:

    Democrats, wait. Don’t be so happy. You also suck. I am not a huge fan of US troops but I do believe that the withdrawal you are calling for is a big mistake. Of course, it is. Do you think invading a country and leaving it destroyed is something that history will be praising you for? Don’t you think that what your country did is very important to fix? But that’s just me thinking like this. You also proved you are no better than the Republicans. You proved how selfish you are. You didn’t even discuss the issue of the people of a country your country destroyed with tanks and stupid no-future plans.

    And finally, it’s our fault that we had this feeling of trust and confidence in you. Alas! I really thought you are the leaders of the world. But it seems that you guys pay Hollywood hell of money to keep your ass covered. You beautify your image through movies which you use as propaganda to tell the world you are the “Jesus” of earth. Even Jesus has lost hope in you.

    The Mesopotamian
    Alaa "al-Coolhead" at The Mesopotamian suggests what he considers a middle course to US withdrawal and US engagement. He says:
    Thus a middle course, which seems to me a sensible alternative, is for the U.S. and allied forces to withdraw to secure bases within Iraq and concentrate on providing training, material and strategic support to the Iraqi forces. This of course, hinges on bringing up these Iraqi forces to the required level of ability. But this process will be greatly accelerated by allowing these forces to work and manage on their own more and more, and ASAP. It is like any other training task. If you are teaching somebody to swim, the sooner you can let him float on his own the quicker will he become a swimmer. But of course the trainer must keep a watchful eye.

    But I think, in general, the U.S. administration strategists understand all this; however, certain regional concerns seem to interfere with their good judgment at times. For instance, too much emphasis on the Sadrists and Muqtada, loathsome as they maybe; is just deflecting attention from the immediate main threat. I have warned about that before. Indeed, one of the factors that are slowing the new security plan is the preoccupation with Sadr City and similar areas while neglecting the more dangerous hotbeds of Baghdad.
    Well, okay, but the kink in his plan IMO is the part in which we "bring Iraqi forces to the required level of ability."

    24StepsToLiberty
    24StepsToLiberty seems to agree. He says in his comment section (At 7:01 PM) that he is not for a pull-out of US troops, however:
    I do think they should retreat to their bases for one reason only: they shouldn’t get killed in the civil war that is happening in Iraq.

    CMAR II
    I think my response to 24STL will suffice as a response to Alaa as well:

    I appreciate this, however, I don't think it is practical, unfortunately. The Shi'a militas and the corrupt IP have so poisoned the trust between the people (Sunni Arabs especially) and the police that (so I'm am told) no one trusts the police unless they are with Coalition soldiers. It is heart-breaking but necessary for the US soldiers to be involved with the police work.

    Furthermore, once the US forces seriously disengage from the fight in Iraq, political gravity in the US and Iraq will make it difficult to re-engage them. Worse, there is a good chance of parallel forces (I could spend a couple thousand words concisely detailing them) that would simultaneously and PERMANENTLY pull Iraq apart into sectarian and ethnic divisions while dragging US forces out of Iraq to US bases. The end result would a regional war that would include every nation adjacent to Iraq, strengthen the enemies of liberty and civilization, and force American society into a permanent fortress mentality such as Israel has today.

    As I summed it up to 24STL:

    Like it or not, the US and the Iraqis are inseparable partners in the success or failure of a free Iraq.

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    Tuesday, April 24, 2007

    Whatever Happened to Waleed Rabia? (Updated)

    When the Coalition forces began their march to Baghdad back in 2003, Waleed Rabia was a nineteen-year-old Iraqi Muslim metal-head. He was one of the Iraqi students who participated in the "Bridges to Baghdad" video project, in which a group of American and Iraqi students created film pieces about themselves and then talked to each other over a live video hookup. Waleed was very engaging and articulate, looking very similar to any headbanger loping through a mall here in the States. In "Bridge to Baghdad I," filmed while Saddam was still in power, the Iraqi students were monitored by the Iraqi authorities. Later, to Michelle Goldberg ("Baghdad Chronicles," May 24, 2003), a reporter from Salon, Waleed would explain how constrained they had been:
    Rabi'a's not proud of the first "Bridge to Baghdad" (he has since taped a second, postwar episode), because he had to be so dishonest. He says that Houda Saleh Amash, the only woman among the 55 Iraqis most wanted by the Americans, sat right in front of him as he spoke. "I was really angry," he says. "We had to pretend we were dumb. Either you're going to answer the question, which is impossible because you're going to lose your head, or pretend you're dumb and you don't understand the question and answer another question."
    The fall of Saddam was a dream come true for Waleed. In "Bridge to Baghdad II," Waleed and his band played on top of a building in downtown Baghdad and he screamed into his microphone, "F*****ck Saddam!"

    Along with Majid Jarrar and other friends and with help from a an organization called Voices in the Wilderness, Waleed started an independent newspaper called "Al-Muajaha," the "witness." Michelle Goldberg, in her Salon article, spends an afternoon with Waleed and Majid as they go to a local theater to report on the increase in porno films in Baghdad:
    At the theater, the two reporters seem surprisingly assured. In the lobby, Jarrar takes pictures of pictures of buxom women in lingerie, while Rabi'a makes notes on the men who stumble by. "Most of these people are taking drugs," he says, adding that Valium and Xanax are popular. "All of them are drunk."

    After a few moments, a man slams Rabi'a's notebook shut and starts yelling at him, accusing reporters of ruining Iraq's reputation. Rabi'a yells back, and soon a crowd has gathered. One onlooker says that no one would go to the porn theater if the coalition government turned the electricity back on, but without it, there's nothing else to do. The yelling turns political as people scream out their dissatisfaction with the occupation.

    Outside, Rabi'a says, "This is not the same Iraq we were living in."
    One notes the now unremarkable twisted logic of the bystander who claims that Iraqi men are only watching porno films because the Americans haven't produced enough electricity for them to stay at home, thus forcing them to watch forbidden carnal delights at the local cinemas.

    Waleed, the Muslim Metal-head, would soon start feeling the pinch of deeper contradictions about being a kid wearing a Iron Maiden T-shirt and following Metallica and being an Iraqi Muslim whose military had been crushed in three weeks by the American infidel invaders. In a article from June 12, 2003, Robert Fisk clips a paragraph from an article written by Waleed for Al-Muajaha:
    "The people of Iraq have fallen," Waleed Rabia, a 19-year-old student, wrote in the new paper Al-Mujaha. "Invaders are in our country. The wild animals of this jungle called a world are trying to rip us apart. We've been through hard times under the old regime, but we were better then than we are now ... Look at those girls who are having sex with the Americans in their tanks, or in the bathrooms of the Palestine Hotel ... What about those Muslim girls marrying Christian foreigners? No one can accept this as a true Muslim or true Iraqi."
    That the cramped interior of an M1A1 Abrams would lend itself to sexual encounters sounds far-fetched to me. How many Muslim women have married soldiers from the Coalition forces? I would like to see the statistic on that.

    As far as I can remember, Waleed Rabia eventually left Iraq and attended a university in Vancouver, Canada. I could be wrong about that, but that's what I recall. The last mention of him that I've found on the internet comes from an announcement from June, 2005, for a keynote speech to be given by Waleed in Vancouver on a panel covering the "ongoing resistance to war and colonialism at home and abroad."

    That was almost two years ago. So where is Waleed today? If anyone can find anything else on Waleed, post it in the comments and I'll punch it up onto the front page in an update. Even if he says things you don't agree with, it's very hard not to like Waleed.

    *

    UPDATE: Thanks to commenter Jesse, I'm now able to link to two different YouTube offerings on Acrassicauda (Black Scorpion), of which Waleed Rabia was the original lead singer:

    The Black Scorpion of Baghdad (7 parts).

    Heavy Metal in Baghdad (5 parts; from an August 2006 trip to Baghdad).

    *

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    Thursday, April 19, 2007

    How Iraqi are You?

    Responding to a commenter on his blog, Majed Jarrar proclaims that the "+2 million Iraqi refugees scattered on earth are a million times more Iraqi than the ITM brothers." A million times more? That's a lot, isn't it?

    Majed and his two bothers are born of a Palestinian-Jordanian father, Azzam, and an Iraqi mother, Faiza, and yet Majed also claims that they are MORE Iraqi than the two Baghdad-born bloggers Omar and Mohammed. "[M]y brother Raed who lives in DC, is more Iraqi than them," he writes. "While Raed along with other hundreds of thousands of refugees wish to go back to Iraq to live there, ITM brothers wish that they were been born Americans. They, and everyone who thinks like them, are a shame on Iraq."

    Faiza and her husband, Azzam, are currently living in the family's penthouse apartment in Amman, Jordan, Majed is going to university in Egypt, Khalid is somewhere in Jordan, and Raed is living in Washington, D.C. Omar and Mohammed Fadhil, on the other hand, are still living in Baghdad, going to work each day, through the good times and bad times. But, in Majed's eyes, the Jarrars, scattered around the Mideast and in America, are more Iraqi than the Omar and Mohammed, who risk their lives every day as they help Iraqis both in their professional capacities but also in their first-hand blogging from inside Baghdad.

    While I find Majed's animus toward the blogging brothers at Iraq the Model misplaced (he should be directing that anger toward the Anbar Baathists and Jihadi terrorists whose combined tally of Iraqi/Muslim murders is beginning to approach the high-water mark set by Saddam Hussein himself), I nonetheless believe that the Jarrar family -- all of them -- have much to contribute to a stable, democratic society once they return to Iraq.

    In Saddam's day, the Jarrar brothers were not able to hold an Iraqi passport because, under normal Arab customs, the children take their nationality and ethnicity from their father and not their mother. This explains why Raed Jarrar was not expected to serve in the Iraq army, while his friend Ghaith Abdul-Ahad had to hide from authorities for several years as he avoided joining the Iraq military.

    Majed revealed that under the new constitution anyone born of an Iraqi-born mother may now claim Iraqi citizenship. Majed smirks, "[O]h and, according to the new constitution brought to you by America with a full package of freedom and liberation, which I'm sure that you and ITM brothers adore it... the child of an Iraqi woman is Iraqi." Indeed, the ironies never cease.


    *

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    Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    Try not to be "too positive" about Iraq

    About 18 months ago, at Thanksgiving, I wrote a post about the American soldiers and Marines who had been officially recognized for outstanding service in a theater where phenomenal service happens all the time.

    Well, courage is not solely an American export. Recently, a British soldier, Private Johnson Beharry, 25, was awarded the Victoria Cross for his service. It is the first VC awarded since the Falkland Islands war. He was cited for rescuing his fellow soldiers, at great personal risk on two separate occasions.

    Normally, I would take pleasure detailing Pvt Beharry's courage. I won't this time, but you can read about it here.

    The reason I won't is because as amazing as his story of courage is, what is more amazing is vile craven contempt in which his courage is held by some of his prominent countrymen.

    You see, the BBC commissioned a 90-minute drama about Pvt. Beharry. But, now, the BBC is canceling the program because it was "too positive" about the war against the Islamofascists in Iraq. Consequently, the network "feared it would alienate members of the audience opposed to the war in Iraq."

    According to "a source close to the project":
    "[The BBC] began to have second thoughts last year as the war in Iraq deteriorated. It felt it couldn't show anything with a degree of positivity about the conflict.

    "It needed to tell stories about Iraq which reflected the fact that some members of the audience didn't approve of what was going on. Obviously a story about Johnson Beharry could never do that. You couldn't have a scene where he suddenly turned around and denounced the war because he just wouldn't do that.

    Yesterday, tipped off by RhusLancia, I posted on an article by Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette
    about the disingenuous rooting for the failure of Iraq by the anti-liberation Left.

    All this brings to mind a two-year old Slate.com column by Christopher Hitchens entitled "Losing the Iraq War: Can the left really want us to?" Unfortunately, the answer was not in doubt even at the time.

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    Friday, April 06, 2007

    Senator Feingold Evokes Somalia in Describing Iraq Withdrawal Resolution: Hypocrisy Ensues

    In comments to a recent post by Treasure of Baghdad (“You Both Suck4/3/07), I stated my belief that the Democrats don’t really want to fix Iraq. I was specifically thinking about the positions on the war in Iraq by the Democrat’s candidates for President in ’08. This is how I put it:
    “None of the dems have a plan to fix Iraq, only to get our troops out and let AQ, criminals, the insurgency, the militias, and the weak gov't slug it out, with Iraqi civilians in the middle as usual. Small exception for Clinton, who says she would pursue AQ but turn our backs on sectarian killing.”

    Commenter annie thought she caught me in a lie, and posted this:

    None of the dems have a plan to fix Iraq, only to get our troops out and let AQ, criminals, the insurgency, the militias, and the weak gov't slug it out

    lie

    one of the 'narrow' exceptions..

    (1) To conduct targeted operations, limited in duration and scope, against members of al Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations.

    Annie’s link goes to a press release from Senator Feingold about his bill to withdraw US forces from Iraq, effective March 31, 2008. Although she omitted the part where I granted Clinton a small exception for continuing to fight al Qaeda, which was important for the Presidential candidates I had in mind, her excerpt still proves my point by specifying “international terrorist organizations”. In other words, the Feingold resolution doesn’t vow to fight terrorists in Iraq, just those that threaten to spill out of Iraq. I tried to point this out to her:

    Annie, do you know the difference between "international" and "domestic" terrorist organizations? the language should make it clear which one the dems care about. They have no interest in helping Iraqis.

    Annie doesn’t say whether she knows the difference or not. She posts this instead:

    "domestic" terrorist organizations?

    rhus, i noticed you did not acknowledge that what you said about the dems regarding AQ was totally incorrect. some of the other 'exceptions' were training the iraqi troops, and leaving 'security' behind to 'protect infrastructer'.

    My reply:

    What I said about the dems, phrased slightly more clearly here, is that they don't give a rat's *ss about Iraqis. You called that a lie, but the text of the Senate resolution was more proof to my point. Al Queda in Iraq, their successor the Islamic State of Iraq, and all of the other market place resistors in Iraq would be classified as "domestic" terrorist groups, especially for a party that just wants to turn their backs on "bush's War". Training Iraqis, fine, that helps a little. But 'protect infrastructer'? you mean:

    "(2) To provide security for United States infrastructure and personnel."

    You accidentally left out the "United States" part.

    The dems just don't give a rat's *ss about Iraqis, annie.

    We went back and forth along those lines for a few more posts, and pick up this commentary when annie said:

    your 'implications' are absurd.
    anyone can just call fiengolds office and ask. "oh, btw, excuuuse me, the 'exceptions including AQ, did you mean their operations in iraq??" lol, da.

    And this is how we get to where I took a look at some of Feingold’s other press releases. My comment in full:

    annie: "there is absolutely nothing in the resolution that " excludes al Qaeda in Iraq."

    So if the terrorists blow up an Iraqi marketplace after the resolution is in effect, you think the dems will risk Americans to pursue the attackers or prevent other attacks? Or would they say "that's domestic terrorism. Our narrow exceptions only allow action on international terrorism"? Which one, annie, and why?

    annie: "your 'implications' are absurd.
    anyone can just call fiengolds office and ask."

    "Senator Fiengold, do you give a rat's *ss about what happens to Iraqis after your resolution goes into effect?" That would be great. But you think I'd be able to speak to him? I'm not even one of his constituents. I did find an op-ed here though. It doesn't mention Iraqi citizens even once, nor does it express any concern whatsoever about what happens to the country after we leave. This is how it addresses the "narrow conditions":

    "After March, funding for the war in Iraq would be cut off, with three narrow exceptions -- targeted counterterrorism operations, protection of U.S. personnel and infrastructure, and training and equipping Iraqi forces."

    It doesn't say what he means by "targeted", does he? But it should be clear that he doesn't give a rat's *ss for Iraq or the Iraqis.

    OK, now this is awesome. You will enjoy this. That op-ed parallels the situation in Iraq with the situation in Somalia. You remember Somalia, right? America enterred to intervene in their civil war and save tens of thousands of starving Somalis. The mission expanded to pursue warlords who were fueling the violence. We lost some helicopters, lost some soldiers, lost our nerve, and withdrew. Somalia's violence continued to the present day, but nobody in Congress gave a rat's *ss about them. I know you will like this, because it was a Republican congress that forced the withdrawal back then. This is how Feingold put it:

    "Many Americans remember the tragic deaths of U.S. troops in Somalia

    As Congress debates the war in Iraq, the congressional debate over Somalia 14 years ago has some surprising parallels. Without question, Somalia in 1993 differs in many ways from Iraq in 2007, from the scope of the mission to the reason for that mission in the first place. What hasn't changed, however, is Congress' constitutional power to end a military mission, and its ability to use that power without endangering the safety of our brave troops.

    That is exactly what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and I propose to do with legislation we will introduce when the Senate reconvenes next week."

    OK? Are you with me so far? Now, look at another op-ed by Feingold from January 16, 2007:

    "Recent reports that terrorists and hard-line members of the Islamic Courts in Somalia are on the run are capturing headlines. But that is only a small part of Somalia's story, and it shouldn't take our focus off the bigger challenge: Unless the United States helps create stability in Somalia, that country will remain what it has been since the early 1990s – a haven for terrorists and warlords, and a source of instability in a critical region."

    Holy cr*p, annie! Did you see that? That was an op-ed from the same Senator, written just a few months before he uses Somalia as an example of what Congress can, and in his opinion, should do in Iraq. Read both op-eds, annie. They are short. But OK, here's another excerpt:

    "The US should take at least three critical steps to bring stability to Somalia in the coming weeks and months.

    First, America needs to ramp up diplomatic efforts to build support for a robust international peacekeeping force that can deploy to SomaliaUS will need to help – not necessarily with troops, but with airlift and logistical support and training."

    OK, do you understand what he's saying? Can I just leave it alone and let you comprehend that?

    Alright, one more:

    "Previous US attempts to resolve the competing and violent dynamics in Somalia have failed. Americans cannot forget that. But we cannot allow our past to overshadow the pressing security concerns we face in the region today. We have an opportunity to help the Somali people dig themselves out of almost two decades of chaos and to strengthen our national security. But if our government does not move quickly and aggressively on all fronts, Somalia will continue to be a haven for terrorist networks and a source of instability that pose a direct threat to the United States."

    So he gives a rat's *ss about the Somalis there, in an op-ed written in January 2007, but cites turning our backs on them 14 years ago as an example of what we should do now, in Iraq! Un-frigging-believable.




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    Monday, April 02, 2007

    Mesopotamian Idol

    Friday, March 30, 2007... the day Iraqis united.

    After making it to the finals of "Star Academy", a Lebanese TV show that is called the Arab world's version of "American Idol", Shada Hassoun emerged victorious over her competition with 40.63% of the vote. Born in Morocco and educated in France, her father is Iraqi which makes her Iraqi too. And so, despite never having set foot in Iraq, she has been adopted by Iraqis as a symbol of National Unity. Says the Washington Post:
    "Sunnis and Shiites will unite with your victory!" read one text message, sent by a viewer, that scrolled across the screen Friday during a pre-show telecast on Iraq's al-Sharqiya satellite channel. "You are the one who unites all of Iraq, from North to South, from the Tigris to the Euphrates!"
    Even though nobody knows for sure whether she is Sunni or Shiite, both sides have claimed her. I generally reserve my sarcastic comments for a few choice commentors who really deserve it, but I can't resist on this: how funny would it be if she turns out to be Jewish?? I only say that in jest- no harm meant.

    But the Iraqis backed her in a big way, sending over 7 million votes her way from their cell phones. Heck, the United Iraqi Alliance only got a bit over 5 million votes in the election.

    Here she is:



    In my opinion this is great news for Iraq and Iraqis, who can use any kind of gesture of unity right now and any diversion from the violence and instabilty wracking their country. So in my opinion, this is a great thing. Several Iraqi bloggers have weighed in on this, too.

    Zeyad @ Healing Iraq posts "Daughter of Mesopotamia" unites Iraqis.
    He just posts a few links and pictures, but seems happy about it (one link is titled "Shada Hassoun succeded where Iraqi politicians failed").

    Baghdad Treasure posts "You are the one who unites all of Iraq" with a picture and congratualtory link.

    Iraqi Konfused Kid posts "
    Daughter of My Ass". He's a little... um... less happy about it. Example:
    "I must say that it is with a feeling of pure and utter disgust that I feel I have to include such cotton-candy corporate whoredom show on my blog. and this contempt is now only compounded by the recent manufactured event of having the winner of the show, an Iraqi of Moroccan mother who's spent almost all of her life in France, to win the show and be trumpeted as the symbol of Iraq's unity. I could almost feel the blobs of vomit boiling up right now."
    Marshmallow26 posts "Shatha :Star Academy 4 winner"
    She's happy:
    "Congratulations and million hugs to you Shatha, you improved your worthiness...Your Iraqi brothers and sisters’ votes crowned you the STAR. Yap...Yesterday was one of my best days ever!! I really jumped, laughed cried and felt happy from the bottom of my heart..."
    Nibras @ Talisman Gate posts "Shada, Shada, Shada". He's happy for two reasons:
    "1-She reinforces Iraqi identity
    ...
    2-She successfully markets herself as a role model of the secularized and westernized modern Iraqi female"

    =================================

    By the way, Truth Teller is posting again after a hiatus over at A Citizen of Mosul. Nothing about Star Academy yet though.

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