Tuesday, August 21, 2007

TAI . . . MIA?

Updated 9/10/2007

If you've been around Iraqi blogs for a while, you've no doubt run into Truth About Iraqis (TAI). He has been a good and faithful servant as an honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the 422nd Battalion of Saddam's ultra elite Mustache Riding Brigades. His comments could always be counted on to synthesize the most virulent propaganda against the liberation of Iraq, and his blog "Truth About Iraqis" helpfully volunteered all you need to know in defense of the "Patriotic Resistance" fighting to win Iraq for themselves or nobody.

Well, recently one of Saddam's cubs posted a simple yet foreboding question:
does anyone know what has happened to TAI's site?
I had a look, and sure enough it has disappeared. Now, it appears someone else has grabbed the site but nothing is on it.

What did happen to TAI?


I replied to the original poster:

TAI got to answering my questions and had an epiphany about the true nature of the "Patriotic Resistance" ("PR") and their scorched-earth efforts to deny Iraqis any semblance of peace and a normal life unless and until they restore the Ba'ath party's former glory.

So with a new, clear vision of what his heroes were up to, he deleted his blog and shot himself.
If you've read everything I've ever written on the comment pages of Iraqi blogs (ha ha), you'll know those questions (look for 8/05/2007 3:00 AM) were posed to TAI to see if he could admit some of the elementary realities of the "resistance" in Iraq and their undeniable contribution to Iraqis' suffering.


Obviously I didn't expect him to finally care about the devastation his heroes have caused this far into it. But what really did happen to him? Does anybody know? Here are my guesses:


1) He's trying to get a passport into the US or another Western country.


2) Blogger deleted his blog and account for incitement or liability reasons.

What do you think?

Update 9/10/2007


A blast from the past. Since TAI deleted his blog, all the comments went with it, of course. Now a commenter @ 24's blog is trying to deny she ever wrote the following. Good thing I screen-capped it for posterity, eh?

Oh, what the heck. Here's the comment where she denies writing the above, just in case...




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Monday, August 20, 2007

Another Story of Iraq

If you were to judge only from the opinions of Iraq bloggers writing in English, you would have expected Iyad Allawi's party to have cleaned the clocks of all other in the Autumn 2005 Iraqi elections. In fact, it barely registered at all.

Also, remember when there was the belief about Iraq that it was so educated and secular, that there was so little religious animostity, that democracy could be begun there without the pitfalls of most of the other Middle Eastern, Muslim-dominated countries?

Frankly the same class of people tended to be responsible for the world's acceptance of these opinions: Educated, secular, upper-class, Sunni Arab Iraqis. It's not just blogs. Western reporters tended to draw their sources from this class of Iraqis because they spoke English well and seemed more Westernized.

Today, the Iraqi bloggers asserting that democracy is just not possible for Iraq, that Iraq requires a strongman, are drawn from this same demographic.

How about another opinion? Talisman Gate has lately been providing posts that are so divorced from the myths and presumptions of any ethnic group in Iraq, so (to my ears) wholly objective, that I'd bet any appendage I had two of that he is right. I haven't had this feeling about a blogger since Ali at Free Iraqi stopped posting.

Check out his last three posts on the cause and effects of the political dead-lock in Iraq and what will become of it. Theres a lot there but essentially he says that the Iraqi Kurds and Iraqi Shi'a are learning to play politics as it ultimately WILL be played in a representative Iraqi democracy. Meanwhile, the old-school Iraqi Sunni leadership is playing the failed politics of threatened violence and revolution: "Do what we want 'cause we might morph back into psychopaths at any moment if we're not appeased". He is also not nearly so glossy-eyed about Allawi as a lot of other Iraqi bloggers.

August 02:
The latest dramatic showdown was orchestrated by the Sunni leaders who have most to lose from these mellowing developments; it was the work of Adnan Duleimi, who got voted out of his role as head of the ‘Sunni’ Consensus (Tawafuq) parliamentary bloc of 44 seats, and Khalaf Alayan, who is one of the top three leaders of the bloc along with Duleimi and Tariq Hashemi of the Islamic Party. Alayan is accused of colluding with terrorism, a charge that was freshly made once again a few days ago by President Jalal Talabani.

August 10th:
That is the fastest way to get the Sunnis to sober up and come to terms with their demographic numbers and their past and current shame as champions of a violent approach in dealing with their next-door neighbors.

August 17th:
The Sunnis of Iraq believed that their talent and proclivity for violence would matter more than Shiite and Kurdish numbers; if only they could hurt America enough, then they’d get power that is disproportionate to their votes.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Welcome To Jordan

It started with a post by Omar at Iraq the Model, about how he tried to get to the US with an academic visa through the Airport in Amman. As an Iraqi, he was segregated by the Jordanians, put in "the prison", and shipped back to Baghdad. Ironically, this post came out almost simultaneously with a post by the Jordanian blogger Black Iris of Jordan, about being "humiliated" by being profiled at the airport in Boston, in the States with an academic visa.

(After a couple hours of verifying his paperwork, he was allowed to continue to his destination).

Then came posts by Zeyad (1, 2) about Jordan's treatment of Iraqis the Amman airport. Then lots and lots of posts by Iraqi bloggers, Jordanian bloggers, other Middle Eastern bloggers: some angry at Jordan's policies, some sympathetic to it, some seeing the hand of the Great Satan in it, some blaming the Great Satan's inaction.

TIME FOR A ROUND-UP!! Courtesy of Konfused Kollege Kid.

Jordanian: If you don't like it, get out. This happens everywhere...
Iraqis: We're giving you oil for (10, 20, 100) years and this is how you repay us? We built you.
Jordanian: Who killed Saddam Hussein? You bastards!
(a few Pan-Arab tears shed here)
Iraqi: You traitors! We are all Arab (national pan-Arab anthem plays here, but the happy commercial does not end on good terms...)
Jordanian: Shut up, ya balad al-Shiqaq wa Nifaq (Land of Discord & Hypocrisy, the favorite Arab slander of Iraqis, thank you Mr. Hajaj)
Iraqi: Shut up, Qawm Lot (the infamous anicent butt-sex freaks people of the Prophet Lot, unfortunately situated near the Dead Sea.)Etc...

[...]the soccer-celebration incident I posted about before, one fact must be emphasized:

a) WE ARE ALL ARAB. and most importantly
b) ARABS BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF EACH OTHER ALL THE TIME.


CMAR II says "Check it out".

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Faux Champ


UPDATED AUGUST 17th

I didn't see a reason to post on the scandal of fabricated Iraq war stories by Scott Beauchamp and The New Republic magazine until an Iraqi blogger did. That never happened. I guess the story began to unravel before Baghdad Treasure or the Jarrars could get wind of it. Anyway, if anyone wanted to follow this story, he could just check out the milbloggers listed on the right (Mudville Gazette is a good place to start).

But this story is developing into such an iconic example of how the anti-liberation media has done their job for the last four years, and now...

Anyway, if you've been living under a rock the last couple weeks,

The purpose of this post is to give a two-handed high-five to Confederate Yankee for stripping the tattered loin-cloth from TNR's claims of careful fact-checking.

Beauchamp claims:

"I know another private who really only enjoyed driving Bradley Fighting Vehicles because it gave him the opportunity to run things over. He took out curbs, concrete barriers, corners of buildings, stands in the market, and his favorite target: dogs. Occasionally, the brave ones would chase the Bradleys, barking at them like they bark at trash trucks in America—providing him with the perfect opportunity to suddenly swerve and catch a leg or a tail in the vehicle's tracks. He kept a tally of his kills in a little green notebook that sat on the dashboard of the driver's hatch. One particular day, he killed three dogs."

TNR claims to have "contacted the manufacturer of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle System" to ensure the feasibility of Beauchamp's claims.

Bob Owens @ Confederate Yankee fact-checks the fact-checkers:

Owens:

"no sources were named. That TNR would not reveal who these sources are was a decision many interpreted as an attempt by TNR to keep others from interviewing these same experts...TNR mentions that they spoke to a spokesman of the company of manufacturers the Bradley. Guess what? I did, too. Doug Coffey is the Head of Communications, Land & Armaments, for BAE Systems, the Bradley IFV's manufacturer that TNR wouldn't name."

After discovering that TNR had only asked Coffey very vague, general, questions that were unlikely to prove or disprove Beauchamp's assertions, Owens showed Coffey the precise text of Beauchamp's claims and asked specific questions about their likelihood.

Coffey responds:

I can't pretend to know what may or may not have happened in Iraq but the impression the writer leaves is that a "driver" can go on joy rides with a 35 ton vehicle at will. The vehicle has a crew and a commander of the vehicle who is in charge. In order for the scenario described to have taken place, there would have to have been collaboration by the entire crew.

The driver's vision, even if sitting in an open hatch is severely restricted along the sides. He sits forward on the left side of the vehicle. His vision is significantly impaired along the right side of the vehicle which makes the account to "suddenly swerve to the right" and actually catch an animal suspect. If you were to attempt the same feat in your car, it would be very difficult and you have the benefit of side mirrors.

There's more. Check it out. Also, block some time for a goodly bit of reading. The Confederate Yankee has been quite busy lately doing the professional journalists job for them.

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

Rev. Paul W. McNellis writes about the perniciousness of taking pride in one's same (h/t Mudville Gazette):

This also explains why Beauchamp’s “confession of shame” sounds so contrived. It is contrived. Beauchamp imagined how he would feel if he had done the things he described in the pages of TNR. What he describes is not shame but moral smugness. Why was TNR unable to recognize this? Because the editors have a peculiar understanding of journalistic truth and simply no understanding whatsoever of the concept of “honor” as it applies to the military, a combination that in turn makes them oblivious to the reality of slander.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

How About a Strongman?

Updated 8/9/07

A
pretty good discussion has broken out in the comments of Treasure of Baghdad's latest post (
Treasure of Baghdad: Good Riddance). The post that started it was BT's disgust at the political situation in Iraq, how they are looking after themselves and not acting in the national interest, and so on. The gist of many commenters there is that Iraq needs a strongman now, not wholly unlike the mold of you-know-who from days gone by. And although they don't reject democracy at some point, they feel they need a strongman now. It would sadden me for Iraqis to go through as much as they have, and ultimately end up with a government no better than they had before. On the other hand, maybe it would be better to have that than a government that is worse?


I've been taking a pro-democracy track in the comments. I thought I'd bring out a comment I recently wrote.:


~~~~~~~~~~ begin ~~~~~~~~~~~~


TAI, BT, annie, Bruno, and any others:

OK, you believe the proper thing to do right now is to replace the current gov't with a strongman who will clean house and restore order. OK?

So let's suppose that happens.

* Suppose a strongman is installed.
* suppose he is installed in whatever manner you deem appropriate, whether by resignation, coup, intervention, thru the UN, or thru the 'resistance'. OK? Whatever you want.
* suppose this strongman is whomever you want. Allawi or someone else, or someone who exists only for the purpose of this excercise.

If you know where this is going, please hold your answer 'til the end, OK?

* now suppose this strongman cleans house using whatever methods or techniques as you envision.
* suppose this strongman has exactly the level of support from teh Iraqis as you might expect him to have, based on your knowledge and impressions.
* suppose the US plays whatever role you think it should, be that assistance, support, or going away completely.
* suppose the regional players behave exactly as you expect them to in the best case.
* suppose the oil law, constitutional changes (or revocation), reconcilliation, Kirkuk, regions, de-Baathification, etc. are all handled in the manner yo uthink appropriate.

Are you with me still? So we have the future of Iraq's gov't and all the issues being handled in a manner of your design, with a strongman of your choosing at the head.

Did I forget anything? Probably, so fill in the blank along these lines. However, please be somewhat realistic in this model. Relocating Iraq to the Southern Hemisphere would not be realistic, for example, nor would emplacing a large contingent of peaqcekeepers from New Zealand. OK?

* now, imagine an appropriate amount of time passes. Whatever interval you think is good: days, weeks, months, years.

* suppose at the end of this interval, Iraq continues to fail, despite everything you have done under the best of conditions.

Sit down, sit down. I know you think it unlikely that your plan could go awry with such a tight design. But suppose it did. You must know that in any prediction of the future there is a chance for failure, even if it's small.

And we could go on and on about why it might fail. Rogue JAM may not cede their territory & power, or may not like to be purged or imprisoned so much. Or what have you.

Let's not get distracted. Just suppose it failed for whatever reason.

OK? Then what would you say? would you say "well, the strongman failed, so let's try a monarchy!" or "how 'bout an Autonomous Collective?"

Would you maybe say the idea was sound, but it had the wrong strongman, or not enough time, or he was too brutal/not brutal enough, or he was undermined, or what have you?

At that point, in the midst of a failing strongman, if you believed doing it another way could cause incredible pain and suffering, would you still advocate doing it another way? Or would you want to fix what you can, and work to improve matters? Or give up?

I know a lot of Iraqis and others think a strongman would work. Maybe it would. Really it depends on what you think "work" means.

But democracy can work too. Maybe not this democracy, but I still think Iraqis can pull it off without regressing to a strongman.

I guess you can call me a racist untermenschen for thinking Iraqis can pull off a higher form of government than the one they had. Que Sera, Sera.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ end ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

( I left the spelling and grammar in tact, sorry)


Updated 8/9/07

Thanks, CMAR II, for the excellent and spot-on images at the top!

IraqSlogger has an article today titled Would It Take A Dictator to Stabilize Iraq? that covers a New York University Center for Global Affairs study titled IRAQ POST-2010. The paper was written in the Spring of 2007 and covers workshop that discussed what would happen just beyond the short-term in Iraq after a US withdrawal. The paper examines three chosen scenarios: Ntional Unity Dictatorship (NUD), Contained Mess, and Contagion. It endorses the "NUD" as the only scenario likely to result in stability.

Just real quick, two problems I have with this paper from the first pass thru it are

a) it does not consider stabilization under democracy in its papers, as if the failure of democracy is a given. It's obviously faltering, but it's not dead yet.

b) in backing the "NUD" approach, ie thru its supporting arguments, it is preparing the way for the bloodletting that would occur under this strongman, who would have some degree of support and/or approval from the US. Plowing the killing fields, as it were, but his time with genocide as an endorsed "final solution".

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Bloggers on the Accord Front Walkout


At Iraq The Model, Omar analyzes who benefits from the the (Sunni Arab) Accord Front's walk-out from the Maliki cabinet. He also casts a pox on the entire Parliament for taking a vacation while Iraq's future is at a cross-roads.

One thing makes me worried these days and I'm afraid that someone is planning a different bad solution. The rift between the minister of defense and the senior commanders including chief of staff of the army which led to a group resignation is an ominous sign that indicates a deep dispute between the two leaderships and this dispute seems to be over a political issue given their history in the military institution. It would be too early to speculate that someone is planning a coup-or preparing to crush one-at this point but the mere thought of it remains a little bit scary.
Kazimi, at Talisman Gate, however, sees the situation as...well....

The writing on the wall, which both the Shiite and Sunni political classes can read, says that the insurgency is tanking and breaking down, something that is also registering with American military and policy planners in Iraq.

With the insurgency ceasing to be a threat to established political dynamics in Iraq, the Shiites are turning confident and resorting to political hardball: either the Sunnis kiss-up to them and accept the status of junior partners in running the country or they can be relegated to a noisy, but ultimately irrelevant, opposition in parliament.

The latest dramatic showdown was orchestrated by the Sunni leaders who have most to lose from these mellowing developments...Adnan Duleimi, who got voted out of his role as head of the ‘Sunni’ Consensus (Tawafuq) parliamentary bloc...Khalaf Alayan ["accused of colluding with terrorism"]...and Tariq Hashemi of the Islamic Party.
After going over every likely replacement for a Sunni Speaker of Parliament (and Allawi too), Kazimi says:

For now, it’s great for me to watch the Islamist parties fumble, with no dominant ‘leader’ emerging. Everyone is being forced to play politics within the rules of the game; no more military coups, no more ‘Great Leaders’. The Sadrists have shown themselves to be as inept and corrupt as all the rest, and the shrill Sunni voices are being supplanted by new political forces that can live with the huge cascade of change begun on April 9, 2003.

But Iraqis are still suffering from the ineptness of their public servants, and new and empowered managerial talent must be harnessed to improve basic services and revive the economy, and it's immoral to keep Iraqis waiting much longer.

The best case scenario would be early parliamentary elections in six months, with Maliki acting as a care-taker.
The Kazimi's summing up of all this is as astute as his summings-up tend to be:

Congressional critics and the western media may want to play up this political confusion as a sign that Bush is not making progress in Iraq, and they predictably will. But a fairer analysis would conclude that these are all healthy signs of the re-introduction of politics into Iraqi life. It may not even be as pretty as sausage-making, yet it puts to rest the Middle Eastern instinctual impulse for a short-cut to power through violence and tyranny.
I agree. All this turmoil is the messy way democracies work (look at America's current instance as a perfect example). Are you frustrated that the Iraqi Parliament took a vacation while the country is still at war on so many fronts? So did America's Congress. But at least the leaders are combating each other with debate and political theater rather than coups and firing squads.

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

Continuing on the subject of the twisted complexity of Iraqi politics, Michael Yon reports on a problem in Baquba in which the Shi'a members of the government were refusing to release food in the warehouses to the (Sunni) people there. (h/t Iraqi Mojo)

Al Qaeda’s efforts to propagate the civil war run far deeper than merely bombing mosques and murdering busloads of people. By seizing the warehouse in Baqubah, they had used the food as both a political and economic tool.

The bureaucrats seemed unreasonable and unhelpful, as if they had declared their own war on Baqubah. But what even we did not know was that warehouses and silos in and around Baqubah were in fact loaded with grain, flour and uncounted tons of sugar. Al Qaeda had stolen it, apparently to dump it or sell it or feed their minions, but Operation Arrowhead Ripper interrupted the plans.

This was a perfect argument. The bureaucrats were right: Al Qaeda had practically owned Baqubah, and was murdering Shia (and Sunni) directly or indirectly, literally by the thousands around Iraq. Why ship food out to Diyala Province to the hands of the enemy? So this was perfect for al Qaeda; they were trying to start a civil war, and because the Ministry will not help with the shipment, it looked like it was the Shia who will not deliver to Sunni.

Additionally, we learn from this article that Al-Qaeda says that ICE is unIslamic.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Big Pharaoh is Posting Again


Primo Egyptian blogger Big Pharaoh starting posting again a few weeks ago.

Check it out.

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