"In some ways, whether the Iraq that emerges from the U.S. occupation becomes more conservative or more permissive than its neighbors will depend greatly on which politicians are chosen in that election, scheduled to take place March 7. But it is far from clear whether the upcoming contest will affirm or buck the current trend.
"Unfortunately, the democratic system in Iraq has led to the rise of undemocratic parties and movements that don't believe in the concept of human rights or personal freedoms," said Mithal Alousi, a secular Sunni lawmaker. "These parties are trying to leave an impression among the uneducated and the simple-minded people that they are the guardians of religion and proper behavior, and conversely, that secular parties are the ones promoting alcohol consumption and the opening of nightclubs, and thus are un-Islamic." " Washpost
In the bad old days before the 1st Gulf War I used to occasionally frequent the night club scene in Baghdad. My hosts took me there and so I had little choice. A lot the clubs were down on the Tigris River bank, although I remember one huge club, the "Khan Marjan" that was housed in a medieval kervansaray. That one looked as though it would seat 500 a least. Thee was a lot of music, smoking, good foodm pretty womwn in western dresses dancing, at time on tables if the moodstruck them, A real Agatha Christie Middle East scene. I understand that things were even more secular in the latter part of the Hashemite period. There was a lot of drinking.
Sinful! Shocking! Bad Arabs! Bad!
Well, we have fixed that, as we are in the process of "fixing" tha same problems all over the Islamic World wherever we have "done good" as some simpleminded marine general was heard to say.
Now it looks like we are going to "do good" for Yemen as well, so that the Mescalero and Chiricahua look and do alikes will become "reservation Indians."
Unfortunately, it won't be our reservation and the faith they will be converted to will not be one we like. pl
You are, unfortunately right, Colonel.
Along the same lines, you [and others] may wish to peruse:
how China and the USA go on their divergent ways and the economic consequences for their respective citizens.
Today Juan Cole has a longish post on Afghanistan (http://juancole.com/)including the following excerpt. I wonder if you think his concerns are reasonable. I presume you do.
Then on Thursday, all hell broke loose when a high-level Pashtun asset who had been informing to the CIA on the location of important al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives detonated a vest bomb at FOB Chapman in Khost province, a CIA forward base. The attacker killed 7 field officers and one Jordanian intelligence operative detailed to the base. Those experienced field officers were on the front lines in the fight against al-Qaeda and their loss is a big blow to counter-terrorism. It is true that they had been drawn in to a campaign of assassination, but it is the president who gave them that task–unwisely, in my view.
The use of a double agent not only to misinform but actually to kill the most experienced counter-terrorism officers in the region showed the sophistication of tactical thinking in the Afghan insurgency.
The CIA’s dependence on a double agent who finally openly betrayed them raises troubling questions about US strategy and tactics in the region. Such informants essentially direct CIA drone missile strikes.
You could imagine Siraj Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani Network in Khost and over the border in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, inserting such a double agent into FOB Chapman and then using the CIA. For instance, what if a middling member of the Haqqani network launched a challenge to Siraj’s leadership and that of his ailing father, Jalaluddin (an old-time ally of Reagan who was warmly greeted in the White House in the 1980s)? Wouldn’t it be easy enough just to have the double agent tell the CIA that the challenger is a really bad guy in cahoots with al-Qaeda? Boom. Drone strike kills Taliban leaders in North Waziristan. In this way, Siraj could have used the US to eliminate rivals and become more and more powerful. And how many double agents have given up a few Arab jihadis who had fallen out with the Haqqanis, but then deliberately followed this up with bad intel on some innocent village, making the name of the US mud among the Pashtuns?
The drone strikes shouldn’t be run by the CIA, and probably shouldn’t be run at all. It could well be that savvy old-time Mujahidin trained in CIA tradecraft in the 1980s are having our young wet behind the ears field officers for lunch.
In short, is the bombing at FOB Chapman the tip of an iceberg of misinformation, on which the Titanic of Obama’s AfPak policy could well founder?
The neo-con/liberal mythology of how America is under dire threat unless we convert these people continues to flabbergast.
A bit off the point but this morning i was thinking, why am I still paying $3 and change for a gallon of gas in Chicago? Isn’t it judgement enough that our bad colonial wars have got us to the point where we are (STILL) putting an extra billion into some Saudi playboy prince who, once the thrills of party life wear off, will decide to outfit an armed populist revolt.