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Michael Ubaldi, November 20, 2003.
Here's one for the leftist-Islamist protest coalition to cry foul over:
At a reception sponsored by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies late last week, the 20-member Iraqi Women's Delegation met 20 American women who were described as Washington's female "movers and shakers."...One of the delegates, Lina Abood, who was a candidate for Iraq's Governing Council, described her fellow delegates as "strong women."
Speaking of protests, they were a bust yesterday. Istanbul attacks notwithstanding, the media hasn't said much about protests today - and the afternoon has already begun to wane in London. Shilling for dictators just isn't what it used to be.
Michael Ubaldi, November 17, 2003.
Huge anti-terrorism demonstrations were held in Nassiriyah yesterday by students association condemning the attacks on the Italian force carrying signs such as 'No to terrorism. Yes to freedom and peace', and 'This cowardly act will unify us'. I have to add that there were similar demonstrations in Baghdad more than a week ago also by students against the bombings of police stations early this Ramadan. I hope the demonstrations advocates that bugged me are satisfied now. There are also preparations for anti-terror demonstrations before Id (end of Ramadan holidays).
IRAQIS ARE SHAPING UP TO BE THE BEST ALLIES WE COULD HOPE FOR: Sergeant Stryker has a video capture of that rally in Nasiriyah. You know who terrorism's most dedicated foes in Iraq will be? Children who are young enough to not have been permanently scarred by Saddam's cruelty yet old enough to understand how equally evil and horrifying terrorists are. Children like that kid with the set jaw, hands on hips. As one fellow said, bless them.
AND THEY KNOW WHAT KIND OF 'PEACE' THEY WANT: Read "You Owe Us an Apology." I read it yesterday via Zeyad's weblog; Andrew Sullivan has it posted today. This, if anything, can chisel away at the thick skulls of self-appointed princes of peace, who thought even in the end that averting war - and leaving Saddam Hussein in power to continue his massacre - was for the best hope for mankind. It makes you wonder what kind of imaginary "mankind" they're thinking of. Certainly not one including this man.
Michael Ubaldi, November 15, 2003.
President Bush has consistently maintained that the United States and allies will "stay the course in Iraq." That course has now been given a finish line:
American administrators will hand over sovereignty to a new transitional government by June, the Iraqi Governing Council said Saturday, announcing an accelerated U.S. plan for ending the occupation of Iraq. The plan would mean the end of the U.S.-led coalition administration in Iraq, but not the end of the American troop presence. The new Iraqi government would negotiate an accord on the status of U.S. forces in the country.
Given that popular opinion is strongly in favor of liberal civil rights and the Iraqi government has already declared economic policies almost more laissez-faire than our own, we don't need to worry much about law-abiding Iraqi people following the correct course towards free-market democracy.
History can lend some insight, too. First of all, the Japanese held elections throughout their occupation; even though the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers held great powers of oversight, the people could send chosen representatives to parliament. Second, according to most accounts, the majority of reforms mandated within General Douglas MacArthur's "Basic Directive" were accomplished by 1947. Not long after, the occupation underwent a policy shift known as the "Reverse Course," one more strongly dictated by the State Department in the interests of Cold War strategy. Moreover, Gary D. Allinson's Japan's Postwar History maintains an evaluation of "reform early, reform often":
Timing was a major consideration. Simply put, reforms advanced earliest had the greatest likelihood of easy acceptance.
OTHER THOUGHTS: Major Sean Bannion, apparently posting on Sasha Castel from Baghdad, has a mixed reaction. Obviously, this is a compromise; they're never pretty. Personally, I'd disregard sectarian favoritism and some police corruption in the first year of free living after twenty years of Saddam and twenty more of assorted dictators. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: Think about one democracy's near-entire southern population living among sectarian favoritism and endemic police corruption nearly two hundred years after the country's inception. Hint: Selma. But Bannion's in the middle of it - that speaks for quite a bit.
Andrew Olmsted is a little bit less optimistic - and rightly demands some evidence from the adminstration that it hasn't gone soft on nation-building. My qualifiers above will only go so far. The next few days will be crucial for the White House to communicate with those who have invested faith in the president's ability to fight terrorism by fighting its nursery, dictatorship. But is it a cave? I doubt the White House to be so naive as to think that any problems in Iraq after the projected transition of power would not be considered its responsibility; that's the sort of duck-and-run we saw from Clinton and H.W. Bush (and Reagan in Lebanon), which only encouraged September 11th. And why would Bush paint himself into a corner by torpedoing his own foreign policy? Even though domestic pressure has certainly factored into this decision - and the left is already spinning it as abandonment - the last motive I'd suggest would be disavowal.
GIVE A LIBBY A GUN, AND: Armed Liberal did what I made sure not to do - write a blog entry before giving the announcement some analysis. Trust me, I spent a very unhinged two-and-one-third seconds while I stared, slack-jawed, at the television. Then I collected myself and started reading. Then I posted! As usual, the Winds of Change comment thread is worth just as much as the writing of A.L. and the rest. I added a comment of my own. Two remarks that stand out are Chuck with "Hasn't [Bush] earned some trust by now?" and Peter Stanley who echoes my strategic consideration:
Most of the US forces in Iraq will have to be elsewhere by 2005. 2005 is the first year that oil production from Iraq and Russia will be able to really squeeze or replace the Saudis.
THE TEXT: After a quick scan, it looks to be on the right track. And not one mention of a doggoned "Islamic Republic."
Michael Ubaldi, November 14, 2003.
[V]iolence against coalition troops has increased as the occupation has lengthened and, in regard to the all-important objective of winning Iraqi hearts and minds, unemployment rates are still too high. However, most other trends are encouraging — declining crime rates in Baghdad, increasing numbers of Iraqi police officers being trained, and telephone and water services at about 80 percent of pre-war levels. Once one accepts the premise that the United States and its partners are still at war in Iraq, and that the mission there is clearly the most challenging American military operation since the Vietnam War, the most accurate long-term outlook is one of guarded optimism.
Michael Ubaldi, November 13, 2003.
Via IP, the latest Iraqi to take advantage of his newfound freedom is doing so with a weblog. He'll be talking sports - and you know what? He sounds like quite a lot of us when we were sixteen (minus wrestling for me, it never connected). Anecdote or not, single citizen or not; halfway across the world, and they want to enjoy life as we do. Is there any doubt of Iraq's potential, given the world's proper care and protection during the early years?
It's moving to a power beyond description. Too much? I suppose the piquant, 21st-Century response to all this would be along the lines of "freaking wonderful." Yes. Imagine Charleton Heston's Moses offering that one up to God on Mount Sinai, majestic and deliberate, cutting through a full-throttled orchestral score. "Freaking wonderful, my Lord."
Wonderful. I see a list of inspiring Iraqi weblogs appearing on my right-hand column soon.
Michael Ubaldi, November 13, 2003.
As far back as February, even the New York Times was reporting the White House's, ahem, nuanced justifications for taking military action against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. One of those justifications was using freedom to innoculate societies from authoritarianism. Andrew Sullivan's got the dragnet.
Michael Ubaldi, November 13, 2003.
David Frum is worried about the impending anti-American, pro-dictatorship rallies awaiting Bush in London, but he offers greater insight as to why evaluating the CIA report I noted yesterday should be done understanding the agency's hostility to the White House:
Thus far, the CIA/State mutiny has failed to have the desired impact on the president. Bush’s important speech at the National Endowment for Democracy last week emphatically recommitted the administration to a large policy against terror and for liberty in the region. The administration's stand-patters and accommodationists cannot have enjoyed hearing Bush rededicate himself to the ambitious principles that led the United States into Iraq - and that logically lead the United States against Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
The Army general responsible for keeping the streets of Baghdad secure says Iraqi insurgency there is on the decline despite recent major attacks in Baghdad.
Michael Ubaldi, November 12, 2003.
The continuing attacks by secular and fundamentalist terrorists are frustrating, destructive and disheartening, but the recent CIA report that's sure to be waved in the president's face for days to come is drenched in the same systemic bigotry that our intelligence agency has always harbored. To wit: Third World peoples will take violence, poverty and tyranny over a good job in a nice neighborhood any day of the week. Unquestionably, the problem of terrorists themselves gaining confidence from insufficient Allied pressure is obvious even to a layman like myself, and being corrected. But what to make of conclusions like this:
One senior administration official said the report warned that the coalition's inability to crush the insurgents is convincing growing numbers of Iraqis that the occupation can be defeated, bolstering support for the insurgents.
A new poll of Iraqis in Baghdad shows a majority of them oppose the separation of religion and state in a new Iraqi constitution. Forty percent support it.
The insurgents are there, and show only occasional signs of decline while their attacks have jumped tremendously in profile and audacity. Has the West as a whole sorely underestimated the resolve of authoritarians in the Near East to fight dearly for their lust of domination? Yes, and the betrayal of free Iraqis to the awful fate that awaits in a country reclaimed by evil is what the Allies risk if necessary measures are not taken soon. But to consider the good people of Iraq so mercenary as to sell their souls back to slavery is more indicative of the CIA's hopeless worldview than anything else.
I MIGHT HAVE SPOKEN TOO SOON: But only to claim that Germany wasn't plagued by organized groups of murderers and thieves to the point where they were nicknamed - "Werewolves." I would still caution that the forces trying to destabilize Iraq seem to have far more tactical effectiveness and regional, cultural support than anything in Germany and Japan. Today's explosive, ballistic and telecommunicative technology only aids the insurgents in Iraq. Nevertheless, democratization has always been plagued early on by frightening, discouraging challenges. Glenn Reynolds links to postwar violence and social disruption in Germany reported by Justin Katz and the CounterRevolutionary. And I've excerpted accounts from historians about Occupied Japan more than once.
Justin's right: most commentators haven't a clue about American occupations. Why do I say that? Because I've barely scratched the surface of Japan's and many problems that have arisen in Iraq can be accounted for - or at the very least, put into some context other than mindless panic. Remember: just as we should be honest about the reconstruction, we shouldn't fruitlessly doubt.
ANOTHER ONE FROM THE CIA: In the New York Times, no less (requires simple registration):
The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that prewar American intelligence about Iraq had been hampered by significant shortcomings, including what he called the C.I.A.'s unsatisfactory response to Congressional directives to improve its foreign language capacity.
Michael Ubaldi, November 7, 2003.
If I had one criticism of the Bush administration's occupation of Iraq, it would be that the Sunni Triangle needed sterner handling - now, more than ever. Deference and delicacy have encouraged insurgents. They should be hit hard and hit often, until they're destroyed. Whatever difficult days these actions bring over weeks will be far worth the years of peace they'll help establish.
Michael Ubaldi, November 6, 2003.
A distant acquaintance of mine who frequently and angrily denounces President Bush and the war effort recently posted an excerpt, as if to exalt it, from a book by Bush's father and his National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft. If you read Scowcroft's commentary against war in the Wall Street Journal some months ago, the thrust is similar. Both men try their best to defend the 1991 decision in which H.W. Bush deferred American prerogative to Paris and Riyadh, leaving Saddam in power to slaughter Shiite freedom fighters and continue clandestine weapons research. True enough, crossover opinions - Democrats supporting rightist causes and Republicans supporting leftist ones - are popular, anecdotal qualifiers for an argument under debate. Paragraphs such as the one by Bush Sr., extolling the virtues of stability over moral completion, will be raised more than once in a heated discussion on television or across newspapers and weblogs.
Christopher Hitchens gives this idea of leaving despots to time a good drubbing. For him, the matter has always been about humanity, stretching beyond the narrow purview of the United Nations:
The counsel of prudence offered above by Bush and Scowcroft was all very well as far as it went. But it did leave Saddam Hussein in power, and it did (as its authors elsewhere concede) involve the United States in watching from the sidelines as Iraqis were massacred for rebelling on its side and in its name. It left the Baathist regime free to continue work on weapons of mass destruction, which we know for certain it was doing on a grand scale until at the very least 1995. And it left Saddam free to continue to threaten his neighbors and to give support and encouragement to jihad forces around the world.