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"Πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει"










July 30th
9:57 PM
Frontline’s Losing Iraq splays out the fateful scene of America’s catastrophic botch of nation building. As absurd and costly as the invasion of Iraq was, the depth of failure here adds more than insult to injury. 
Republicans had for years prior derided President Clinton over the subject of nation building. In Iraq we see what is either their attempt to prove their own sneering point or their naivete in thinking stable governments simply appear magically. The “design” of Iraq’s post-Saddam government and the choice of Nouri al-Maliki as its head ultimately borked the promise Petraeus made in his gambit with the “Sons of Iraq”, the faction that made the “surge” work at all, on account of the Prime Minister’s weak minded trajectory towards ever increasing sectarian impulses. 
Obama may be guilty of letting Iraq rot. Although, short of violently removing the government and instituting things anew (and how would that work?), it’s unclear that any engagement would have amounted to much, as al-Maliki (perhaps like Karzai in Kabul) likely never had enough substantive potential to justify the labor.
Iraq comes up full bore in any serious analysis of America’s current standing and fate in the Middle East. And it’s not just the drift into oblivion that conditioned the invasion, but also the careless and incompetent circus, punctuated by spectacular risks, that bloomed once the deed was done.
Once late in 2003, a retired Colonel Ralph Peters appeared on PBS to argue that the attack on a UN complex was preferable to terror attacks on our own soil. Here in Iraq, he argued, we would draw the vermin like moths to a flame - adding with an eerie confidence, “when that happens the flame wins.” With ISIS and the inevitability of more horror, when any view to pragmatism gets spiked with ironic Iranian complications, it’s long past the time when we should have cringed over a hubris so inflamed. 
………….Watch “Losing Iraq” via PBS video

Frontline’s Losing Iraq splays out the fateful scene of America’s catastrophic botch of nation building. As absurd and costly as the invasion of Iraq was, the depth of failure here adds more than insult to injury. 

Republicans had for years prior derided President Clinton over the subject of nation building. In Iraq we see what is either their attempt to prove their own sneering point or their naivete in thinking stable governments simply appear magically. The “design” of Iraq’s post-Saddam government and the choice of Nouri al-Maliki as its head ultimately borked the promise Petraeus made in his gambit with the “Sons of Iraq”, the faction that made the “surge” work at all, on account of the Prime Minister’s weak minded trajectory towards ever increasing sectarian impulses. 

Obama may be guilty of letting Iraq rot. Although, short of violently removing the government and instituting things anew (and how would that work?), it’s unclear that any engagement would have amounted to much, as al-Maliki (perhaps like Karzai in Kabul) likely never had enough substantive potential to justify the labor.

Iraq comes up full bore in any serious analysis of America’s current standing and fate in the Middle East. And it’s not just the drift into oblivion that conditioned the invasion, but also the careless and incompetent circus, punctuated by spectacular risks, that bloomed once the deed was done.

Once late in 2003, a retired Colonel Ralph Peters appeared on PBS to argue that the attack on a UN complex was preferable to terror attacks on our own soil. Here in Iraq, he argued, we would draw the vermin like moths to a flame - adding with an eerie confidence, “when that happens the flame wins.” With ISIS and the inevitability of more horror, when any view to pragmatism gets spiked with ironic Iranian complications, it’s long past the time when we should have cringed over a hubris so inflamed. 

………….Watch “Losing Iraq” via PBS video

July 6th
3:13 PM
"It’s a little bit as though the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan declared himself the Holy Roman Emperor"
—  Juan Cole, discussing ISIS
June 26th
9:23 PM
Via
buffleheadcabin:

mattbors:

Sectarian Divisions

[Except, of course, they’re speaking Arabic.]

buffleheadcabin:

mattbors:

Sectarian Divisions

[Except, of course, they’re speaking Arabic.]

June 15th
2:03 PM
"And if you take down the central government in Iraq, you could easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off"
June 6th
12:26 PM
China nudging US out of Iraqi oil boom
Could China be the ultimate winner of the Iraq War? Deutsche Welle »

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraq has become one of the world’s top oil producers, and China, which already buys nearly half the oil the country produces, is currently vying for an even bigger share. State-operated oil companies are now bidding for a vast stake in one of Iraq’s largest oil fields currently owned by US multinational Exxon Mobil…
"Though the Americans technically won the war there, as you know it was a catastrophic blunder," said Mamdouh Salameh, international oil economist and oil market consultant for the World Bank. "They went for oil, but the winner actually is China."  >continue<

The report notes China enjoys the advantage of not having risk management concerns as do commercially driven American companies, since China’s effort is a defacto extension of foreign policy with full state backing. Exxon’s problems are further aggravated by the lure of deals in the Kurdish north at the expense of drawing the ire of the majority Shiite backed Maliki government in Baghdad.

China nudging US out of Iraqi oil boom

Could China be the ultimate winner of the Iraq War?
Deutsche Welle »

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraq has become one of the world’s top oil producers, and China, which already buys nearly half the oil the country produces, is currently vying for an even bigger share. State-operated oil companies are now bidding for a vast stake in one of Iraq’s largest oil fields currently owned by US multinational Exxon Mobil…

"Though the Americans technically won the war there, as you know it was a catastrophic blunder," said Mamdouh Salameh, international oil economist and oil market consultant for the World Bank. "They went for oil, but the winner actually is China."  >continue<

The report notes China enjoys the advantage of not having risk management concerns as do commercially driven American companies, since China’s effort is a defacto extension of foreign policy with full state backing. Exxon’s problems are further aggravated by the lure of deals in the Kurdish north at the expense of drawing the ire of the majority Shiite backed Maliki government in Baghdad.

March 14th
3:20 PM
"As we approach the ten year anniversary of the launching of George W. Bush’s war on Iraq, it is worth my pointing out that I concluded even before the war began that the main rationale then given for it, Iraq’s alleged nuclear weapons program, was a fiction… In any case, if I could come to this conclusion before the war based entirely on open sources, then intelligence analysts ought to have been able to."
March 9th
12:16 PM
Via

The Iraq Disaster

Tom Engelhardt & Peter Van Buren »

We don’t get it.  We really don’t….

The government we essentially installed chose Iran as an ally and business partner.  The permanent bases we built to the tune of billions of dollars are now largely looted ghost towns.  The reconstruction of the country that we promoted proved worse than farcical, as former State Department official Peter Van Buren, author of the already classic book We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, reminds us.  And an outfit proudly carrying the al-Qaeda brand name, which did not exist in Iraq before our invasion, is now thriving in a still destabilized country…  >continue<

- Engelhardt introducing Van Buren’s "Mission Unaccomplished" wherein we witness an account of a Potemkin Chicken Factory.

The task of nation building, once we were past the tragic point of no return, was never seriously engaged. The Republicans had long become accustomed to using that phrase, “nation building”, as a sneer term in anti-Clinton polemics. Can we really be surprised by the irony that a faith in spontaneous goodness jumping out of a market hat should run aground upon the shoals of history?

January 15th
4:09 PM

What Zero Dark Thirty Really Leaves Out

Juan Cole | Informed Comment »

An important problem with the narrative line of “Zero Dark Thirty,” Kathryn Bigelow’s film about the Central Intelligence Agency’s quest for Usama Bin Laden, is not just that it comes across as pro-torture but that it ignores the elephant in the room: Bad intelligence elicited by torture almost derailed that quest to put down al-Qaeda by diverting most resources to Iraq.

…The film is misleading precisely because it does what the Bush administration did not do. It stays with Afghanistan, Pakistan and al-Qaeda. At one point a CIA official complains that there are no other working groups concentrating on al-Qaeda, that it is just the handful of field officers around the table. But he does not say that the Bush administration ran off to Iraq and closed down the Bin Laden desk at the CIA. Nor do any of the characters admit that bad intelligence, including that gathered by torture, helped send the United States off on the Great Iraq Wild Goose Chase. >continue<

October 29th
6:40 PM

A Kurdish Wedge Between Iraq, Turkey

Joost Hiltermann  |  ICG »

Although Ankara has long supported Iraq’s territorial unity as a barrier against Iranian influence and as a check against secessionist impulses among its own Kurdish population, the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently begun to shift strategies. Since 2008, it has forged a close economic bond with the KRG by opening its border and encouraging Turkish investments in the Kurdish region, and its relations with Baghdad have deteriorated…  >continue<

January 22nd
1:48 PM
Via
longreads:

[Iraq] The country’s huge challenges following the U.S. withdrawal, including corruption, new waves of violence and crippled infrastructure:

The end of the U.S. military’s long, bloody adventure in Iraq signals the start of a new, highly uncertain chapter in the country’s development. In the scenario conjured by optimistic U.S. and Iraqi officials, an Iraq free of tyranny, terrorism, and foreign occupation will transform itself into a modern and open economy in the heart of the Arab world. That vision recedes a bit more every day as sectarian tensions reemerge, corruption hinders development, and the country’s political leadership moves against its opponents and flirts with autocracy. Iraqis are reluctant to ask aloud if the most recent attacks represent the deadly half-life of war, or, as Abdel Sadeh and many others I spoke to during four weeks in December and January say they fear, another meltdown.

“Iraq: Under Worse Management.” — Elliott Woods, Bloomberg Businessweek
See also: “Heads in the Sand.” — David Rose, Vanity Fair, May 12, 2009

longreads:

[Iraq] The country’s huge challenges following the U.S. withdrawal, including corruption, new waves of violence and crippled infrastructure:

The end of the U.S. military’s long, bloody adventure in Iraq signals the start of a new, highly uncertain chapter in the country’s development. In the scenario conjured by optimistic U.S. and Iraqi officials, an Iraq free of tyranny, terrorism, and foreign occupation will transform itself into a modern and open economy in the heart of the Arab world. That vision recedes a bit more every day as sectarian tensions reemerge, corruption hinders development, and the country’s political leadership moves against its opponents and flirts with autocracy. Iraqis are reluctant to ask aloud if the most recent attacks represent the deadly half-life of war, or, as Abdel Sadeh and many others I spoke to during four weeks in December and January say they fear, another meltdown.

“Iraq: Under Worse Management.” — Elliott Woods, Bloomberg Businessweek

See also: “Heads in the Sand.” — David Rose, Vanity Fair, May 12, 2009

December 26th
10:26 AM
Via
"Democracy in both America and Britain is coming under scrutiny these days. Quite apart from the antics of MPs and congressmen, it is said to be sliding towards oligarchy, with increasing overtones of autocracy. Money and its power over technology are making elections unfair. The military-industrial complex is as powerful as ever, having adopted “the menace of global terrorism” as its casus belli. Lobbying and corruption are polluting the government process. In a nutshell, democracy is not in good shape.How strange to choose this moment to export it, least of all to countries that have never experienced it in their history. The West not only exports the stuff, it does so with massive, thuggish violence, the antithesis of how self-government should mature in any polity. The tortured justification in Iraq and Afghanistan is that elections will somehow sanctify a “war against terrorism” waged on someone else’s soil. The resulting death and destruction have been appalling. Never can an end, however noble, have so failed to justify the means of achieving it. (via toobaa)"
—  Simon Jenkins, former editor of The Times, writing in The Guardian newspaper, 8 April 2010  … with a prescience for things occupy.
December 21st
3:16 PM

US Troops guarded terrorist base in Iraq

In a move that almost defies belief, is so brazen and hypocritical many will not believe it no matter how many State Department officials confirm it, the US has been guarding a terrorist training camp inside Iraq with US troops and is planning to relocated them, possibly in a freshly abandoned US military base in Iraq while D.C. lobbyists work feverishly to have them de-listed, armed, and sent to conduct terrorist operations in Iran.

Foreign Policy Magazine has reported in their article, “State Department scrambling to move the MEK — to a former U.S. military base?" fully admits that Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK) is a terrorist organization used by Saddam Hussein to attack Iran in the 80’s and was responsible for the death of US military personnel and civilians. Foreign Policy reports that efforts by the Iraqi Army to evict MEK has resulted in armed clashes.

Foreign Policy then reports the United Nations “Assistance Mission in Iraq” (UNAMI) is working with the US State Department to relocate the terrorists within Iraq and possibly at a US military base near Baghdad’s airport.  >continue<

related:
Iran alleges Saudi Plot is MEK sting
Leading conservatives openly support a terrorist group

11:08 AM

Maelstrom Building

The dissolution of Iraq into chaos, perhaps alongside and in sync with Syria, threatens to plunge the Middle East into a humanitarian and political nightmare. If a fear of this fate conjured prudence for the first Bush Administration in its decision not to advance on Baghdad, serious labours for the sake of a viable government in Iraq seemed oddly absent in the minds of the invaders of 2003. This lapse, more than anything else, best underscores the contempt observers felt upon witnessing George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” theatre.

Rather than seriously confront the fears of 1991, the younger Bush went into Iraq stoked with a contempt for nation building. The State Department was marginalized as appointments and duties, ostensibly for the sake of rebuilding Iraq, were made on the basis of loyalty and graft. A government, as in Afghanistan, was allowed to come to be on the basis of religious and ethnic fault lines, motivated seemingly by the dreamy notion that stable democracy is a phenomenon that jumps fully fledged like a rabbit out of history’s magic hat.  >continue<