“..played like a pawn.”

P6b First among the American concerns is a Shiite-led government that has been so dogmatic in its attitude that the Americans worry that they will be frustrated in their aim of cracking down equally on Shiite and Sunni extremists, a strategy President Bush has declared central to the plan.

“We are implementing a strategy to embolden a government that is actually part of the problem,” said an American military official in Baghdad involved in talks over the plan. “We are being played like a pawn.” John Burns


Here you have it…  No matter how much Bush/Cheney would like to think so, Maliki is not George Washington.  If Washington had acted like this, Virginia would have had half a dozen senators, not just two.

No.  Maliki is trying to "play" Bush/Cheney as long as he can.  after that he will move on and hope to join his old foe, Allawi, in exile, a fur-lined exile, but, nevertheless..

I understand that the vice president Adil Abd al-Mahdi is warming up in the "bull pen" for his turn on the mound.  That change of faces will keep Bush/Cheney in play for a few months while they contemplate the evidence that they will then have handed the reins to an Iranian surrogate.  Of course, Al-Mahdi will probably be quite willing to have Odierno "take out" the Mahdi Army.

One finds "progress" where one can.  (irony)  pl


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40 Responses to “..played like a pawn.”

  1. john in the boro says:

    Today’s az-Zaman (http://www.azzaman.com/english/
    index.asp?fname=news\2007-01-15\kurd.htm) has a story about Sadr’s counter to the new strategy to secure Baghdad. The cited English version leaves out many details that are in the Arabic version. Sadr ordered his militiamen to go along with the Americans until the “storm passes.” The fix is in with the Iraqi police to release whoever gets scooped up after the “storm” dies down. Further, Sadr asked Ali al-Sistani not to issue a Fatwa in support of the new plan or in support of disbanding the Mahdi Army. Many of Sadr’s cadre dispersed from Sadr City for points south or to Iran over the last week. “Played like a pawn” indeed.

  2. Got A Watch says:

    It’s easier to get played when you are dumb as a brick. When you inhabit hallucinatory terrain, the wrong conclusion is likely to be reached.
    Prof. Juan Cole lays out quite succintly how the Bushies have failed to understand the Sunni resistance from the beginning, and still fail to grasp any reality. See “Misreading the Enemy”
    The same failure to grasp reality can be seen in how America relates to the Shiites, as you ably point out above, and by extension Iran. IMHO Iran has already “conquered” Iraq, all that remains is the mopping up and for America to recognise defeat. This is probably most galling of all to the neo-cons – the fact that they have been totally out-played by Iran, and a key driver of the “Urge to Surge to Defeat”.
    Reversing this Iranian “victory” seems all but impossible now, no matter how many bombs they may drop. Any action they seem to be likely to take now will only serve to re-inforce inevitable strategic defeat.
    The echoes of Vietnam again – win every battle but still lose the war.

  3. Chris Marlowe says:

    This policy is a scaled-down version of what Jay Garner proposed to do in April 2003, before he was over-ruled by Bremer, who disbanded the Iraqi army and introduced the deBaathification policy which was so strongly supported by Chalabi and Wolfowitz.
    In April 2003, it might have had an outside chance because the different power factions did not yet have a chance to form.
    Today, the Americans are pushing on a string. We have no political leverage for negotiations, so we are put in the position of ‘asking’ our ‘allies’ to cooperate.

  4. Stephen Jones says:

    I don’t quite know how names in Arabic translate, but I wonder if the Adil Abd Al-Mahdi mentioned here is the same person as former Iraq finance minister Adil Abdel-Mahdi, the fellow who was/is so enthusiastic about opening up the entire Iraqi oil business to foreign investment and control.
    I seem to remember him from early 2005, and if I’m not mistaken, I believe there has been some renewed talk of selling off Iraqi oil interests to western companies again quite recently.

  5. Cloned Poster says:

    Played like a Pawn……… yes very much so.
    I wonder how many “technology” deals were signed by Olmert in China last week?
    Yes, the US are a pawn of Israel first and foremost.

  6. Stanley Henning says:

    What should be eminently clear to all but the most delusional among us (an unfortunate characteristic reflected in our key leadership with fingers on the trigger), that we lose if we do or don’t — in other words, we lose, period! In fact, we have already lost in Iraq. The President’s response is to throw more troops in and many are beginning to say “hold the line as we prepare to pull out”. The latter view is probably the most sensible under the circumstances. Because of the way we handled this up to now, the Iranian position has been strengthened regardless of our continued bumbling. So, what will we have gained from all this — a huge waste of precious resources at home and terrible loss of credibility internationally, a greater destabilization in the Middle East, and concomitant strengthening of opposing forces. Because of the nature of the sandbox we have been playing in, we have indeed managed to far outdo our fumbling in Vietnam.

  7. Cloned Poster says:

    Following on from my post above, Bush is like a lottery winner (ask Gore) in the ME, he has $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to spend, they whore him like the novice punter he is, Condi, once you’ve gone black you go back, is whoring her trade in ME as we speak.
    I expect the GOP are going reign in (pun intended) Bush after the Iran fiasco.

  8. Stanley Henning says:

    Oh yes, Neocons out there, I forgot to mention that I’ll bet the Chinese are watching all this with great interest and some comfort. After all, it was Sunzi who said, “The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.” Too bad we neglected so much at the start. And I mention China because there is a bigger world out there. While we literally stick our heads in Middle Eastern sand, guess who will access the oil as we flail about, stirring up hate and discontent ? Where is our Grand Strategy when we need it ?

  9. confusedponderer says:

    the neo-cons and Cheney’s peace-through-strength hard-liners don’t need Israel and Likud to have silly ideas.
    Abrams of Iran-Contra fame is at the moment trying to instingate a civil war between Fatah and hamas, to the displeasure of about everyone else, starting from the Pentagon, to the Jordanians, Egyptians to the Israelis. Well, typical neo-con style, he just knows better what’s good for them I presume.
    In fact, that recent remarkable little interview with Meyrav Wurmser, when she expresses dissatisfaction over Israel not attacking Syria, too, suggest that in fact Israel hasn’t been crazy enough for their tastes.

  10. John Howley says:

    I am still scratching my head over the newly announced “Bush plan.” Iraq is a mess and will continue so for the foreseeable future. The number of added troops is too small and their stay too transitory to change things among the six million Baghdadis.
    And all the political confusion in Iraq looks as much like a dust screen as anything else.
    Only by focusing on Iran do things seem to click into place. Suppose US-Israel action against Iran is planned for Feb or March. Wouldn’t it be prudent to boost combat strength in Iraq to protect supply lines and deter Iranian inspired backlash?

  11. Walrus says:

    With respect John,
    I’m not scratching my head over “The Bush Plan” at all because I think it is completely consistent with NeoCon Military/Industrial Complex intentions, Israeli/Likud intentions, and Bush’s own psyche.
    1. The NeoCon intentions are clear, that is to bury for at least the next 50 years any concept or promise of a “peace dividend” arising from the demise of the Soviet Union, thereby ensuring that spending on weapon systems will continue unchecked. Maintaining strategic control of the Gulf, oil fields and oil infrastructure is also important. Thats what the codewords “American Interests in the Middle East” refers to.
    2. The Israeli/Likud intentions are clear, that is to entangle us in the Middle East and keep us there long enough to destroy Israel’s enemies, Iraq, Syria and Iran on her behalf and thereby relieve the Likudniks of making a painful but just peace settlement with the Palestinians.
    In short, thats why the policy directions and strategy applied in Iraq have seemed to be so totally and utterly the reverse of what they should have been all along. The real goal being pursued is not the stated one of producing a secular democratic(and presumably prosperous) Iraq at all, for such a country, like a peaceful and prosperous Lebanon, would eventualy have been able to engage Israel in a debate about the Palestinians that Israel could not afford to ignore. Likewise without Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian Islamofascist bogeymen the question of a “peace dividend and winding back our forces would have eventually been raised.
    So our actual policies have been designed to fail spectacularly, arouse the muslim world to righteous anger at our behaviour, thereby provoking a war of civilisations that means that the good people at GE in Lynn MA and a million other plants can keep making F404 and T76 engines and similar for decades to come.
    Classic examples of such policies include “De-Bathification”, Al Ghraib, Guantanamo, Rendition, Torture and other policies too numerous to mention. If I was a real conspiracy nut, I’d ask who selected the rope length that resulted in the decapitation of Barzan Ibrahim. There is a British table (and probably American) that relates it to weight and height. Why wasn’t it used? Why was the video released? This is calculated savagery designed to inflame.
    We are about to enter the beginning of phase two – the attack on Iran. The “surge” is about delivering calculated savagery to Baghdad, not to destroy the militias but to either provoke Iran or provide the basis for false flag or some other causus Belli.
    The reason the press has been so cooperative and strangely supine during all this is that they are owned by either the Neocons or AIPAC.There is a highly coordinated disinformation operation in progress whith two messages. (a) Islamic states are threatening to kill us right now (appeals to males) (b) Islam wants to take over the world (which resonates with females afraid for their children).
    As for Bush, the “plan” he has adopted is straight from the AEI/Likudnik playbook. Losing in Iraq would be a disaster – for Bush psychologically. His father has tried to get him out of the mess via Baker/Hamilton, but the Likudniks at the AEI have grabbed him, stuck him firmly back in it, and advised him to keep wading in deeper – something which he must do in a vain attempt to avoid being labelled the worst President ever – and possibly even the last.

  12. Peter Principle says:

    “That change of faces will keep Bush/Cheney in play for a few months while they contemplate the evidence that they will then have handed the reins to an Iranian surrogate.”
    They handed Iraq over to Iranian surrogates two years ago. And were quite proud of it, as I recall — waving purple fingers all the way.

  13. anna missed says:

    So Casey is saying the “surge” won’t yeld results for 6-9 months, there’s already trepidation about the mixed mini base arrangements, the Mahdi are melting off to the south — yeah sure, some inspired counterinsurgency moves, telegraphing itself into a Vigra run to the Rite-Aid.
    So why would’nt the benchmarked Maliki play the hand he has, just like he’s being played by the occupation. And seeing that the U.S. can’t come up with anything but military solutions to political problems, it leaves Maliki free reign to bullshit the bullshiter, at least until “your time is up” as Flip Wilson would say (in a relative era) or at least until al-Mahdi or the cellophane man is ushered in to sign the belated oil laws. Then it really falls apart.

  14. Will says:

    “Yes, the US are a pawn of Israel first and foremost. ”
    Actually both Israel and the u.S. are prisoners of the Israel’s rabid U.S. supporters, the Neokon Likudniks and Xtian Zionists. (The Israel Lobby)
    There are many reasonable Israelis and even Sharon himself cautioned Dumbya about occupying Irak. A Peace deal has been fleshed out between Syria and Israel which includes parkland, water rights, Hezbollah, Hamas, but is blocked by of course Dumbya.
    On a related matter. The Saudi-Israel alliance has Sino reprocssions. The Saudi will be filling the Chinese three month petroleum strategic reserve. That’s why the Chinese recently urged Iran to address the U.N’s “legitimate nuclear concerns.”
    The chineese have also blasted the rapids in loas and have made the Mekong river navigable from Thailand to China. They have an alternative oil shipping route to the straits of Malacca.

  15. FB says:

    Robert G. Kaiser has a good article “Trapped by Hubris, Again” in
    the Washington Post,Sunday, January 14, 2007
    But he does not pursue the analysis to its logical conclusion. He ends by defining the lessons learnt from Vietnam and, now, Iraq. Precise goals : these people had them, though not the ones they publicly articulated. Understanding : they didn’t need it, because they had the force to overcome any problem (they still think that!). Strong
    local support : they had that “through Chalabi & Co”. A political plan :
    they had that,too (instal Chalabi and help him keep the yokels quiet while
    they stripped the country from under them, while the region quaked at their
    None of these undoubtedly sound principles matter when a populace of idiots
    elect (and re-elect) a bunch of sharpers,grifters and other assorted crooks
    fronted by another idiot. This is where the system’s institutional checks and balances are supposed to kick in, but if the system is as corrupted as this one is, they don’t function.
    That leaves just the individual and his or her conscience. For Vietnam,
    enough individuals finally stood up and said : No more! Even when they were
    reviled, ridiculed, beaten, even killed, by the establishment, they would not give up. And finally they prevailed. A similar movement is now starting for the futile killing in Iraq to stop.
    But these are not the individuals who should have to stop a country that has been hijacked by crooks or madmen or even well-meaning idiots, and is heading towards a disaster. Where are the individuals of conscience within the establishment who are prepared to take personal risks for the larger good? Willing to sacrifice a career, face ostracism, be publicly attacked, lose financially,
    if that is what it takes to make a stand on principle?
    Is the establishment so corrupted that there is no one left with enough moral
    fibre to do this? Even in Rome at its most corrupt and despotic there were
    men who retired to their homes, lay down in a tub and opened a vein: if they
    could not stop it, at least they would not be part of it! But, here, we have only the Powells, Zinnis, Scowcrofts, Fords and their sorry kind, murmuring their disagreements into their sleeves (or the tape-recorders for their memoirs).

  16. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think you also need to include the very close relationship that exists between Israel’s Labour Party and the Democratic Party in US. This relationship is very initmate, specially among the higher echelons of both parties.

  17. Michael says:

    While certainly not a smoking gun, I found this post in a Sunni website interesting. They are suggesting Muqtada al-Sadr was one of Hussein’s executioners. This might explain why some were chanting “Muqtada – Muqtada” so enthusiastically just before the door opened. Even if al-Sadr wasn’t there, I am sure the stories are already spreading, and increasing his influence.
    Crazy stuff.

  18. Brian Forester says:

    This is not directly related to your post but it still came to mind:
    Petraeus was once asked why Iraq had no George Washingtons. “Because,” he replied, “Saddam would have had them taken out and shot.”
    “Iraq: Blame the Top Brass?”

  19. ali says:

    The new focus on Iran requires no Israeli conspiracy. Terrorist links and Iran’s nuclear program may be real vital interests to Israel but they are just as much a pretext for DC as the fictions that span us into Iraq.
    At stake is the greatest geopolitical prize in the world. This is now an increasingly desperate battle to maintain the status quo and keep the Persian Gulf an American lake. The fall of Sunni Iraq destroyed the delicate balance of power between the rising power of Iran, their restive Shi’a Arab brethren, the Turks and the Sunni Arab world. Regional war looms in any case.
    The unipolar dream having died out in the Iraqi sand DC now must play unfamiliar games of state. Even if this vain vacuous administration had the will it lacks diplomatic ability to play smart especially against the chess players in Tehran. There will be no cunning game based on subtle diplomacy and deep regional knowledge. Bush won’t use Iran as logical swing asset; tightening its grip on its crumbling Sunni vassal states by schmoozing with Tehran. That would be like expecting a toddler to confidently juggle buzzsaws.
    DC then must either accept failur and cut its losses or taking another desperate risk: provoke the wily Mullahs into a conventional military confrontation and bludgeon them back from The Prize with massive USAF strikes against their entire military complex.
    Tehran will resist this strategem. It will bide it’s time and quietly play its deft imperial game with the Shi’a factions of Iraq.
    It is perhaps a mistake overestimate the Bush team. Apart from masterly spin and some deft bureaucratic backstabbing they’ve demonstrated a striking incompetence with any kind of complex scheming. What we see looks like ineptly confronted deepening chaos not an artful conspiracy. Mickey Mouse confronted by marching buckets. The POTUS judging by his rhetoric, which increasingly features the ingratitude of the Iraqis he selflessly liberated, is just as likely to call the USAF down on Iran at the point when even he acknowledges all is lost in Iraq. He clearly thinks he does not need anything but a thinly spun pretext and on this he may be right.

  20. Will says:

    Walter E. Jones, R-NC is my Congressman. I crossed party lines to vote for him this last election.
    Patrick Buchanan “Mr. Bush: Meet Walter Jones”
    “Bush’s contempt for Congress is manifest and, frankly, justified.
    Asked if Congress could stop him from surging 21,500 troops into Iraq, Bush on “60 Minutes” brushed aside Congress as irrelevant.
    “I fully understand (the Congress) could try to stop me from doing it. But I’ve made my decision. And we’re going forward.” Asked if he had sole authority “to put the troops in there no matter what the Congress wants to do,” Bush replied, “In this situation I do, yeah.”
    Is Congress then impotent, if it does not want war on Iran?
    Enter Rep. Walter Jones, Republican of North Carolina.
    The day after Bush’s threat to Iran, Jones introduced a Joint Resolution, “Concerning the Use of Military Force by the United States Against Iran.” Under HJR 14, “Absent a national emergency created by attack by Iran, or a demonstrably imminent attack by Iran, upon the United States, its territories, possessions or its armed forces, the president shall consult with Congress, and receive specific authorization pursuant to law from Congress, prior to initiating any use of force on Iran.”
    Jones’ resolution further declares, “No provision of law enacted before the date of the enactment of this joint resolution shall be construed to authorize the use of military force by the United States against Iran.”
    If we are going to war on Iran, Jones is saying, we must follow the Constitution and Congress must authorize it. ”

  21. Different Clue says:

    And here is yet another theory. As Global Warming becomes more undeniable,and burning more fossil Carbon becomes more unacceptable, where will Urbanized Mankind
    turn for mass quantities of energy? Probably nuclear energy.
    The Western Powers and Japan foresee this. They envision a future of nuclear
    reactors all over the Third World. But..THEY want to be
    the Sole Suppliers of enriched uranium fuel rods to all those Third World nuclear reactors. The only way they can be the Sole Suppliers is if Third World Countries are prevented from
    enriching their own uranium.
    Iran’s enrichment program threatens to abort the Fuel
    Rod monopoly desperately hoped for by the yet-to-be-formed (waiiittt for it…)
    OFREC! The Organization of Fuel Rod Exporting Countries!
    (By the way, here is an even stranger theory. Chief
    Justice Taney was a closet Abolitionist. He felt that the only way to get slavery abolished was to help get rendered a decision so divisive as to lead to a secession of some kind which
    would be defeated, and in consequence of which defeat slavery would be abolished.
    A very strange theory, I know.)
    As to FB’s comment above,I grant that a lot of people actually did vote for
    Bush. But I am still not satisfied that Bush actually
    won either election. Be downhearted over the lack of
    a Ukrainian response to an apparently Ukrainian election, but take heart in the large number of non-idiots who either voted against Bush, or wanted to but were prevented from doing so by bogus voter-roll
    purging, contrived voting-machine shortages in likely
    Democratic districts, etc.

  22. Will says:

    Babak is absolutely right. The Israeli Lobby includes the Democrats as well as the Repubs.
    That’s what in fairness the very next line from Buchanan’s column is the devastating one.
    “If Biden, Kerry, Clinton and Obama refuse to sign on to the Jones resolution, they will be silently conceding that Bush indeed does have the power to start a war on Iran. And America should pay no further attention to the Democrats’ wailing about being misled on the Iraq war. ”

  23. TR Stone says:

    The best comment I can make is, watch the beginning of the Johnny Depp movie “Ed Wood” where Johnny Depp (Ed Wood) says “I know I didn’t do well last time, but this time I’ll do better!”.

  24. D.Witt says:

    While I think it’s pretty clear to anybody but the hard core koolaid drinkers that everything out of the Bush cabal’s lips regarding the rationale for war was a complete and utter lie, it is still amazing to me that the original causus belli for the ‘war’ has been completely ignored. Just for the record, can somebody here confirm one way or another that the Shia were not involved with the original Al Qaeda?
    Unfortunately for the world, I think the current Bush cabal has balls bigger than their brains, and their plan is about nothing more than playing smashmouth with anybody who dares to cross them. There are natural limits to power, and if they persist with carrying out their pipe dreams, my opinion is that the results will be something far less than they could have ever imagined, along the lines of the Israeli ‘defeat’ last summer, multiplied by a thousand or more.

  25. TR Stone says:

    ” I’ll do better this time”
    Johnny Depp as ED WOOD (better yet as GWB)!

  26. Got A Watch says:

    Walrus, I have to go with Ali’s take on the conspiracy thing. I really don’t see the core neo-cons had the strategic foresight or smarts to plan for the outcome we appear to be heading for now. They could have made a better plan, but that was not necessary, they had it all figured.
    If you look back on the sorry record of sunny predictions, going back to PNAC and now AEI today, and including all the cheerleader right-wing media, they just had it on faith that it would all go their way, mistakenly assuming nothing could or would go wrong and there is no such thing as “blowback”. The flower throwing Iraqis would greet their liberators with joy, the oil would pay for the war etc. This is why they had no contingency plans or planning for the occupation – they weren’t going to be needed.
    The same thoughts comes to mind when I see GWB live making a speech, he has the vacant look of someone who just knows that he is right and takes it on blind faith, any dissenting opinion is simply wrong. And the man does look worn down by all this negativity during his terms, yet stiffly determined to carry on spreading democracy at all costs. If I was in Iran I would move far away from any nuclear site.
    Meanwhile today stories abound of how Moqtada now has his finger in every second Shiite pie in Iraq. At this rate the Iraqi Army may be merged into the Mahdi Army, he probably has them outnumbered 100 to 1, not counting how many of the Iraqi Army are just Mahdi Army with the wrong uniforms on. Moqtada’s popularity is rising, he may be at the point now where any attempt, whether successful or not, to kill or capture him by American forces or other Shiite militas could cause governmental collapse, mass rioting and increased violence all around.
    Will American troops keep on concentrating on the Sunnis when the Shiite militias are quietly ignored during the nudge, nudge, wink, wink Shiite government “offensive” on the Mahdi Army? The gunmen have been told to lay low, hide their arms, keep a low profile, avoid confrontations with American troops, wait out the “surge”, it is said. The maelstrom spins ever faster.

  27. H.G. says:

    The following link is very interesting:
    A description:
    “Past research has shown that mentally healthy people can have highly optimistic predictions, or “positive illusions”. This over-optimism may have offered an evolutionary advantage in the past, allowing our ancestors to cope with adversity and bluff opponents. However, in the present world, it may wreak havoc on international relations, according to researchers at Princeton. They conducted wargame simulations involving a total of 200 players and found that overconfident people are more likely to wage war but fare worse in the ensuing battles. People with higher self-rankings at the start of the game came out worse off at the end of the game. People, whether male or female, who made unprovoked attacks tended particularly to have a high level of narcissism – a trait that is also characteristic of political leaders.”

  28. H.G. says:

    Dear Col. Lang,
    I found the article I just referenced (and just sent on) at this website:
    while looking for completely different information on my work (seismic analysis). You may find it interesting in the diversity of pursuits/applications.

  29. Chris Marlowe says:

    The tribal alliances will be very dynamic in the near future in Iraq; each will be positioning itself to be the winner in the post-American phase.
    My guess is that if the Bush administration does decide to attack Iran, the US troops in Iraq will become sitting ducks. Each group will be positioning themselves as the most powerful “pro-Iraqi” group. The easiest way for each group to show their power is to kill the American occupiers, which are generally unwelcome in Iraq.
    While this will make the Iraq war even less popular among Americans, the Bush administration will spin it , saying “This shows how much the ‘terrorists’ hate American freedom and our way of life.”
    In the meantime, the private defense contractors which fund the Republican party through Grover Norquist’s K Street project will continue to make money from this war.
    In the US, you have this 25% of hardcore Bush followers who will buy anything the Bush administration says.
    “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
    “We have nothing to sell but fear itself.”

  30. JFH says:

    When the U.S. military runs joint operations with the Iraqis, we can be sure the insurgents will know our plans as soon as our putative allies do. We don’t know who’s inside the Iraqi uniforms; we don’t know what one Iraqi says to another; and we have almost no one to translate. I have a friend who served in the U.S. military on his way to citizenship. The very fact that he was a native speaker of one of the critical languages was enough to disqualify him from putting his ability to use. The source of his fluency, in itself, raised questions about his loyalties that the military had no way to resolve.

  31. Will says:

    Wirth respect to Rep. Walter E. Jones Jr. R-NC’s resolution declaring Iran off limits to Dumbya’s exta-constitutional war mongering powers, the latin maxim comes to mind directed to the whining Democrats:
    Hic Rhodus, hic salta.
    Here’s your second chance to revisit your Irak fecklessness and spinelessness.
    With apologies to Yogi Berra. It’s deja vu all over again and you can learn a lot by just observing.

  32. Chris Marlowe says:

    This story from the BBC makes me wonder if the Bush administration has any coherent ME foreign policy aside from encouraging more war:
    Top Iraqi condemns US over Iran
    One of Iraq’s most powerful Shia politicians has condemned the arrest of Iranians by US forces in Iraq as an attack on the country’s sovereignty.
    The comments by Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, made in a BBC interview, are seen as the strongest expression yet of Iraq’s concern about the US approach to Iran.
    You can read the rest of the story at
    Abdel Aziz al-Hakim was the same Shi’ite cleric Bush met in the White House in December, to ask for his support!
    This administration is beyond words.

  33. Charlie Green says:

    I ran across this analysis of the Iraq situation. What’s your take on this?

  34. Aidan says:

    The New Scientist article mentioned by H.G. was an interesting read, but I wonder about the game that they got them to play. There were clearly rules governing the outcome of fighting, which it mentions were related to factors such as military expenditure. Setting these up must have included some subjective decisions by the scientists, and therefore it is possibly that the game framework was biased against wars which would have been ‘profitable’ in reality. Had the game been differently balanced then the overconfident could well have performed better than the others. Their conclusions connecting narcissism with aggression were clearly valid, but whether aggression was a good tactic or not would clearly be dependent on the scenario.

  35. ked says:

    the Princeton study would partly explain US Grant. & Saddam WAS the Iraqi equivalent of Washington – that’s how distinct our cultures are – and when captured, got the same treatment George would have (from yet another George – history is so ironical).

  36. H.G. says:

    Aiden is right to wonder if the Princeton war game was skewed against aggressive war-making.
    That thought needs to be developed further; for example isn’t it a question that could rightly be asked of reality (or modern history) as well? As a test it would be interesting to recount which nations have had successful outcomes launching aggressive, first-strike wars (either preventive, pre-emptive or acquisitionary) in the modern age. Also which ones have not. And what has been the cost/gain of those actions/outcomes. My guess is that a rigorous inventory would counterindicate the procedure. So a war game that places low probablility on overall success on that venture would be valid. Kind of like the joke line: “Hey man, don’t hate the playa… hate the game!” Maybe Bush should say that?
    Getting off that point, let’s get back to the heart of the matter. The conclusion of the proposed hypothesis is that those who were most confident of success were most prone to failure when deciding to escalate the stakes (and does that not accurately describe “war”?). The qualifier is that this was determined in a contrived “equivalent” position against another peer, where other complex relationships exist which presumably (see above…) react negatively to that escalation?
    I hate to be overly scientific about this, but my guess is that the predicted outcome was easily predicatable both empirically and even mathematically using game theory.
    It would be interesting to see the structure of the game, but less interesting than expanding the experiment (especially historically) to verify the results.

  37. Antiquated Tory says:

    The New Scientist article was interesting, but aside from Aidan’s point about the starting assumptions, I find myself wondering how much a ‘narcissistic’ personality has to do with becoming a political leader in the first place. Surely a degree of self-belief beyond the norm is necessary? And ditto for military leadership?
    On the ‘whose side are they on’ question in Iraq, a friend of a friend in the Fusiliers writes from Basra that every time his lads have been ambushed, Iraqi police units were involved. (Sorry if I’ve posted this in comments before.) The raid by the Brits on the elite police HQ in Basra after Christmas was not entirely because of prisoner abuse.

  38. taters says:

    I like Walter Jones,too. Conscience,constituents then party – in that order. I believe his father,a Dem,told him that. He was a part of the “freedom fries’ crowd initially. It’s been a journey of revelation for Mr.Jones since then. Funny,I never heard anyone say “freedom tickler”…

  39. H.G. says:

    Aidan is right to wonder if the game in the Princeton study was “rigged” so that wagging war was not favored.
    One can also wonder if reality – as shown by the last 100 years or so of modern history – isn’t similarly rigged.
    Regardless, that was not the point of the study. Whether the game was rigged or not, it was an even playing field: those who went in overly confident in their abilities performed LESS well, and those who showed more narcissistic tendencies were more likely to both wage war to achieve their aims, and fail doing so.

  40. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, Mr.Jones: a man mugged by Reality.

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