“summoned by the king…”

Thumbcheney_saudi1 Joe Klein of Time magazine said today on the Chris Matthews show that Cheney was "summoned" to Riyadh.  There has been a lot of talk about the vice president’s trip to Saudi Arabia.  The White House has wanted it to be believed that Cheney went about the Middle East "lining up" the Sunni leaders to support the Zelikow plan for further empowerment of the Shia Arabs against the Sunni Arab insurgents in Iraq.  Klein, who is generally well informed about such matters, says that the opposite is true, that in fact King Abdullah summoned Cheney to Riyadh to tell him in person that such a policy "might" force the Saudi government to give all possible assistance to the Sunni Arab population in defending itself.  That means the insurgents.  Now, that sounds like the truth.  The Saudi ambassador denies this scenario, but, he would, wouldn’t he?  He also says the Obeid op/ed last week which threatened covert Saudi intervention had nothing to do with the Saudi government.  Anyone who is familiar with the way the Saudis "operate" knows how unlikely that is.

The great untruth on which the Bush project in Iraq was founded was the notion that Iraq and its people were a "nation."  As I have said many times before, the "Bush Iraq Project" interrupted the fitful progress of the "Historic Iraq Project."  That project had sought for most of a century to weld the disparate peoples of Iraq into a nation.  The "Historic Iraq Project" had been partially successful in that some Iraqis had come to think of themselves as primarily Iraqi.  Many had not.  The Iraqi nationalists were primarily secular and concentrated in the functions of government.  We got rid of them in the CPA period.  We shoved them out the door of the new government and its organs.  What is left in the Iraqi political process is predominately sectarian or ethnic in self-identification.  The present government is a Shia sectarian government with Kurds and Sunni Arabs added to the melange as "symbolic" tokens.  The same thing is true of the "Iraqi" police and army.  Everyone in Iraq knows that.  We have now spent a great deal of money and time in building those forces.  In spite of that effort we and the "Iraqis" have not been able to defeat the Sunni insurgent forces in their many varieties.

Our response to that failure seems to be that we will now drop any real effort to mediate among the peoples of Iraq and will back the Shia Arabs "to the knife."  What will that mean exactly?  We are already giving full support to the Maliki government.  Does it mean that we will "green light" what some are calling the "Salvador" model?  If it does, then we should expect that the Sunni Islamic World will rise up against us with a ferocity that we have not yet seen.  pl

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48 Responses to “summoned by the king…”

  1. PSD says:

    and on that “happy” note, let’s cue the music and watch as the Titanic slowly slips under the waves……..
    thanks, Pat, for your clear analysis–as usual. Too bad it won’t sober up the Bushies……

  2. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    In my opinion and for the reasons that I had postd earlier, the Sunni Arab states are bluffing.
    I think they are much more concerned with the effect of the ongoing war in Iraq on their own internal security – they are afraid that their populations will do something to them.
    The Sunni Arab states that are allies of US have been utterly incapable of affecting events that have been of core concern to their populations: Palestine and now Iraq. So these populations are asking: “What Good are these Governments?”
    As for US strategy to support Shai to the hilt- there is no other way.

  3. MarcLord says:

    Even as Cheney was in Riyadh, an F-16 and then 3 helicopters were downed in the Anbar Province. This indicates the presence of sophisticated SAMs, and it’s rather unlikely Iran would’ve supplied them to the Sunnis.
    To thicken the plot, the Air Force claims all its pilots are safe and accounted for, and is conducting DNA tests on the F-16’s ejection seat. The plane belonged to the 524th Fighter Squadron, Cannon AFB New Mexico.
    For what plausible reason would the Air Force NOT know the identity of one of its downed fighter pilots, especially one in the act of flying close ground support?

  4. Duncan Kinder says:

    If it does, then we should expect that the Sunni Islamic World will rise up against us with a ferocity that we have not yet seen. pl
    It seems that the United States, in the so-called “War on Terror,” is getting itself sucked into the midst of a pan-Islamic civil war concerning which it has little knowledge and less interest.

  5. ckrantz says:

    It’s striking how the US seems to maneuver it self in to a situation with no real allies or options and a hugely diminished influence over the whole ME region.

  6. MarcLord says:

    Update to my last comment:
    “The U.S. Air Force confirmed that an American pilot whose F-16 went down in Anbar on Nov. 27 was killed, using DNA analysis to identify his remains.
    The U.S. Air Force on Sunday announced the death of Maj. Troy L. Gilbert, 34, whose F-16 fighter crashed in Anbar on Nov. 27. U.S. forces have said insurgents reached the crash site before American forces. The cause of the crash is under investigation, but officials said they did not believe Gilbert was shot down.”

  7. MarcLord says:

    “It’s striking how the US seems to maneuver it self in to a situation with no real allies or options and a hugely diminished influence over the whole ME region.”
    No, crkantz, the US does have real allies in the ME region: Chalabi, Talabani, and Pervez Musharraf. Oh, and of course Israel.

  8. The Agonist says:

    “Summoning A Dick . . . Cheney That Is”

    Col. Lang has it, here.
    Money quote:
    Our response to that failure seems to be that we will now drop any real effort to mediate among the peoples of Iraq and will back the Shia Arabs “to the knife.” What will that mean exactly? We are already giving ful

  9. Jerry Thompson says:

    The insurgency(ies) in Iraq are unique in that they need very little beyond cash from outside supporters. There is a (for practical purposes) unlimited amount of trained military manpower, of military age, unemployed and available for mobilization. Similarly, there is a virtually unlimited supply of explosives and individual weaponry. This is true of the Sunnis (which the Shi’a, Zelikow and others underestimate). It is also true of the Shi’a and Kurds (which the Sunnis may underestimate. Despite the level of violence we have seen up to now, if we “tilt” toward taking sides — we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The better policy is to focus on reconciliation, as difficult and risky as that choice would be. The agenda for such a policy was established in the list of issues left open when the current constitution was ratified. Thus far, we have left reconciliation in the Too Hard box and focused on ‘effective governance’ — another manifestation of ‘appearance over substance’ which has guided our overall policy to date.

  10. Charles says:

    Hey, ckrantz, do you really think the “US” – whatever that means – has the finesse to maneuver itself so exquisitely incompetently time after time? They seem capable of injecting some troops, or national interest, into wherever. After that – and oft times before – its only the locals who have the skills required to drive that mighty confused beast where they will.
    Even if Bush had never invaded, and the world was still signed on to constraining Saddam, the “tipping point”, would have been ever nearer. What of Iran, Lebanon, and that – gigantic turd in the pool as another commentator aptly put it – the ever more Occupied Territories? As well, Obviously the US thinks the Saudis are running out of easy oil reserves – they gotta go somewhere.
    The Israels’ continuous creeping annexation, creepily resonant approach to ghettoization, assassination collective punishment and fiendish provocations dressed up as “security” would have
    kept the pot boiling.
    Sharon, or his analogue would have turned up the heat visiting the local sights, engaging in a Gaza bait-and-switch, or some other diverting parlour trick suspending reality for all to see. The assured indignant Israeli response to the lack of fervour the locals greeted this tactical magniminity with would once again displace rationality and reality – with renewed justification for the ontological campaign against those Gazan ingrates and their ilk. Of course, the Palestinians are no less manipulated, but often much more crudely and overtly, by an assassination here, an, an “accident” there, and Bobs your uncle, the little buggers strike back just as their stage directions say.
    Viewed from Israel, the reactions thus engendered can always be sold as about its’ existence, and never about its actions. Ditto for Washington, with the caveat that accurate perception generally decreases the further one is removed from the phenomenon observed.
    That is, Washington doesn’t have a clue, while Israel is somewhat better informed as to the true state of things in the region.
    Iraq might never have happened, yet the outcome would be the same. Criminally isolated occupied peoples, and criminally irresponsible practitioners of realpolitik busily establishing “facts on the ground” or “conditions for peace” would still be hard at it. Meanwhile, I’m surfing, driving around Sunday shopping, looking around for more shiny trinkets – and the cheapest gas.
    What really strikes me, is how given dominion over all of Creation, and the ability to repeatedly raise mighty civilizations, we are driving this off a cliff in an SUV whilst watching the onboard DVD playing Disney. Doesn’t surprise me – its been played out by the armies of ignorance and incompetence so many times before. Its just so much more disconcerting to be sentient and able to watch in real time – and all I can do is blog, protest and pray.

  11. arbogast says:

    I have never read anything that made more sense about Iraq than this.
    Historians will ponder long into the night how Americans elected George Bush President.

  12. pbrownlee says:

    As is now customary, this makes a lot more sense than much else at the moment.
    Among the blizzard of unintended consequences of the Iraq adventure may be that national democracy of some reasonable sort in Iraq and its neighbours (including Israel and the occupied territories) has been postponed by half a century or more and that some of the rusted-on allies of the US will become much less docile.
    On a different subject, one of the old South Pacific hands on the Fiji “coup” has said that a recurrent problem is that a hell of a lot of media people who know less than nothing (i.e. transpose their ignorant metropolitan prejudices) about Fiji or the South Pacific nationlets are on the scene and need to file something so run with and embroider the maddest notions — which then become part of the political process in unpredictable and distinctly unhelpful ways.
    This sounds familiar and is not limited to small island nations south of the Equator.

  13. arbogast says:

    If George Bush wanted to have a legacy, he would go on TV right now and say, “Look, I was completely wrong about Iraq. I am going to let a team of experts try to get us out of this mess. I will have nothing to do with the process. In the meantime, I am going to walk the streets of America promoting energy conservation. Nothing else. That will be my first priority and my last. Thank you for putting up with my antics for these past 6 years. I intend to try to redeem myself.”
    He would go down in history as a hero.

  14. dano says:

    A couple of days after it was announced that Cheney was in Saudi (and while reading this weblog and Larry Johnson’s weblog) it seemed to me that – and I said this to the wife – he had been summoned. When the “unofficial” statement from the “unofficial” Saudi citizen that the Saudis would resist the US’ pullout and – if the US did pullout – would aid the Sunnis in Iraq and commence economic war via petroleum output and pricing against Iran, it became obvious that Cheney was indeed summoned.
    As a poet once wrote: It doesn’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
    USAF has announced the pilot of the downed F-16 was Maj. Troy Gilbert of 309th Fighter Squadron out of Luke AFB. No mention of why the aircraft went down.

  15. arbogast says:

    Here’s one of Bush’s options according to Hadley:
    positioning of substantial U.S. forces near the Iranian and Syrian borders
    The UN will be in the ME before this is over, the only question will be how many dead Americans who are currently alive it will take.
    What the US needs is a military coup that places Nancy Pelosi in the Presidency until a special election in 2007. It is conceivable that that will not happen, but it’s worth bruiting.

  16. Cloned Poster says:

    The Saudi Prince and whose army? Yes they buy the best there is (software may be not the best) and millions of dollars are channeled to casinos and whores all over the Med. If the Saudis were serious they would turn the spigot off, unfortunately….. it’s turning off by itself. SA’s out of oil, hence the Iraqi adventure.
    Just wait until Anbar gets all the toys the Saudi princes don’t play with.

  17. Walrus says:

    Gentleman, at the risk of repeating myself yet again, Occams razor suggests there is one one reason, and one reason only, that the outcomes of our policies in the middle east are chaos and civil war – they were designed that way.
    Reading first hand descriptions of the behaviour of our armies in Iraq makes you want to weep. The tactics and strategies employed seem to be designed to maximize Iraqi anger and bloodshed, not to smother an insurgency. Who is advising our troops how to fight Arabs?
    Who is advising us that waterboarding and similar torture is a good idea?
    Who is advising that fighting “terror with terror”, as in Fallujah, is a good idea?
    Who is egging on the Bush Administration, saying the reason we have failed is that we haven’t been violent enough?
    Who wants us to attack Iran?
    Ever since this war was mooted, I have been bashing my head against the wall trying to understand the boneheaded thinking of The Bush Administration and the top military (Gen. Abizaid has obviously drunk the Kool aid judging by his Harvard speech).
    It started the minute we occupied Saadams palaces and established the Green zone. I’ve been shaking my head ever since.
    Rule #1 is to never suspect a conspiracy when events can be explained by pure stupidity.
    The levels of stupidity that continue to be displayed, in the face of overwhelming information on its consequences, suggests that it is in fact a conspiracy to keep the Middle East in a permanent state of broken-ness and bloody violence, for the benefit of who?

  18. Matthew says:

    Babak probably nails it. The Saudis are frightened that the Iranians are really supporting Arabs to resist America and Israel, instead of just pretending to, like Saudi. Not one of our our Arab allies in the ME could win a fair election. As Americans, the choice of such friends reveals a catastrophic policy failure.

  19. W. Patrick Lang says:

    The kind of talent needed to support an insurgency from an external base can be hired or attained through international agreement. It does not have to be your own talent. pl

  20. Will says:

    I would have to agree that J. Abizaid has drunk the KoolAid. He has participated or stood by quietly while the boneheaded decisions were carried out.
    I would have resigned and told Feith, H(C)ambone, Wolfie, and Rummy to stick it where the Sun don’t shine. And asked them to give my regards to the Dumbarse in Chief.

  21. MarcLord says:

    Just to give you the satisfaction of answering your question, the “who” would be “Israel and its shills.”
    Israel is a religious state. So getting vexed about having a particular religion in the discussion when it comes to policy analysis regarding a religious state smacks of…apartheid.
    And the comparison with South African apartheid is in no way frivolous. If Israel does not moderate its stance, from a policy perspective, it must be sacrificed, and soon. Put another way: how does Israel continue to serve US interests in the Mid-East. And how many barrels of oil reserves does Israel have underneath it?

  22. Got A Watch says:

    Happened to be flipping channels last night, came across Saturday Night Live – the opening skit was a funny/macabre spoof of the Bush and Maliki press conference in Jordan. I am sure you can probably view it on youtube etc. by now.
    It was sort of amusing yet chilling at the same time, probably more truth spoken there than at the actual press event. Even the studio audience seemed to be laughing uneasily at the many car bombing jokes, but Bush supporters probably weren’t chuckling. A case where the real events being parodied are so sobering that humor falls flat.

  23. Arun says:

    This is a semi-serious proposal. The US withdraws from Iraq with an option to reinvade, if Iraqis don’t quieten things down and work out a political settlement among themselves. Whomever is in power then will be hunted down and put on trial like Saddam or better yet, simply taken out.

  24. John Howley says:

    Mideast allies near a state of panic
    U.S. leaders’ visits to the region reap only warnings and worry.
    By Paul Richter, Times Staff Writer
    December 3, 2006
    Heck of a job, Bushie!

  25. confusedponderer says:

    Looking at PLs prognosis I again understand why the religious settlement was the key to the success of the 30 year war and the beginning of the Westphalian order.
    But after 911 the Bushies knew better. Quaint and obsolete all these international rules, bleh. The Peace of Westphalia, where is that anyway, was in the 17th century – real ANCIENT history. What did they know what we don’t know better today?
    Well, things change, times change, human nature doesn’t.

  26. Fred says:

    Thanks for the evaluation of the current situation. I’m struck by your prior thoughts on ‘combat power’ and the draft. I hope the new congress has far more courage than has been seen so far as it will take 2 years after Bush to get anything close to the combat power we’ll need if this all blows up.

  27. John in LA says:

    When the sects in Iraq complete their physical disengagement, per Yugoslavia, the real war will start.
    Difficult to understand how badly the Bush admin, and Israel (stunning lack of comprehension for a local power) misunderstood.
    It could be as bad as this:
    The Turks will invade Kurdistan and obliterate the place. That war will be waged on the streets of Berlin, where thousands of Kurds and Turks live and hate each other.
    Iran will manipulate the mintority Shite Alawi- and its weak, Kim-Il Jong style son-dictator into creating a Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus-Beirut power axis.
    There will be a revolution in Bahrain that brings the Shia to power and sees the local Sunni Sheikh/thieves that run the place flee to Saudi Arabia.
    The Palestinians will behead the “King” of “Jordan” and forge an alliance with the Shia axis to create a fundamentalist Palestinian State extending from Amman to Gaza.
    The Sunni Jihadis will overthrow the weak, old, toothless sheikhs and declare an Al Qaeda government in Saudi Arabia.
    Someone puts a bullet in Musharraf and a) declares a Sunni fundamentalist nuclear power in a new Pakistan-Afghanistan Federation b)triggers an Indian-Iran nuclear alliance and c) (who knows? regional nuclear war)?
    Net-net…go long Hydrogen!

  28. 4 billion says:

    “The peace of Westphalia” thats old Europe!
    Although, as a victim of Calvanism, I can see some merit in questioning some of its tenets.

  29. Mo says:

    The US supports the Sunnis in Lebanon against the Shia and the Shia in Iraq against the Sunnis. Has anyone explained to Bush that Sunni and Shia in the Arab world don’t see national boundaries in secterian alliegance?
    I agree with Babak. Obviously the Saudis claiming that such a policy “might” force them to give all possible assistance to the the insurgents is a bluff. The insurgency ran out of cash long ago and has become an off-shoot of the far more criminal Al-Qaida lot. The Saudis are probably more worried about them then they are Iran, simply because so many of them are Saudi and no one really knows how high up the Saudi royal family Al-Qaida support really goes.
    But the Col. is absolutely right. Iraq, and in fact all the Arab countries not in Africa are the creation of messers Sykes and Picot and are therefore an attempt to meld disparate groups into a nation. Iraqs sheer size and the size of its population make the problems magnified but one only needs to look at Lebanon to see that size doesnt matter when it comes to secterian violence. In fact, Lebanon, Bahrain and Iraq, the 3 nations with sizeable Shia populations have all seen violence.
    I think Walrus is right in that the chaos in Iraq was planned as an ongoing excuse for the US to keep its troops in Iraq. I just don’t think they thought it would ever get this messy.

  30. taters says:

    I thought this might be of interest. From Haaretz…
    Six comments on the situation
    By Yoel Marcus
    1. When the first Gulf War ended in 1991, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, then chief of military intelligence, was asked why the Americans didn’t finish off Saddam Hussein. His answer was prophetic: Better a live Saddam, slightly battered, than a dead one. Only he can prevent a battle of Gog and Magog between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites. Too bad Bush junior didn’t consult Lipkin-Shahak before invading Iraq.
    We are living in a region where outside military intervention triggers earthquakes. Operation Peace for Galilee roused the Shi’ites from their slumber and gave rise to the establishment of Hezbollah. Lebanon War II led Lebanon to the brink of civil war.
    And yet the predictions of war this summer are stirring up needless panic around here. If anyone should be worried about Iran it should be Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and, of course, the United States. How many times do we have to get our teeth knocked in before we understand there are some things we need to keep our noses out of?

  31. arbogast says:

    I think the counterpoint to John in LA’s rather brilliant commentary is the article by Robert “The Undead” Novak in the Post:
    Guys like Novak want to be on the political winning team. They are whores without honor. And Novak, much as he may share Karl Rove’s homoerotic fantasies about George Bush, can see which way the wind is blowing.
    It is wonderful to see the rats coming down the mooring lines toward the dock. It is not so wonderful to think about how many more people will die unnecessarily because of the fantasies of a single individual who made it into the White House through influence.

  32. Abu Sinan says:

    Talk to almost any Arwab and they’ll tell you that the Iraqis are a tough lot and the only person who could keep a country of such different peoples together is a Saddam Hussein or someone like him. Without it the Iraqi concept of a nation is over.

  33. Peterp says:

    “Our response to that failure seems to be that we will now drop any real effort to mediate among the peoples of Iraq and will back the Shia Arabs “to the knife.” What will that mean exactly?”
    It means the U.S. Army is about to become a party to genocide. Col. Custer, no doubt, would approve.

  34. tons15 says:

    So much pessimism about the current affairs in these comments! I hope that the (as yet) fairly free exchange of thoughts on internet may prevent the dire predictions from becoming reality. The ideas about attack against Iran were floated recently – and maybe because the common “internet-deliberative-body” has prevented it.

  35. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Abu Sinan:
    The “Almost Any Arab” is wrong – as is usual. The game of strong man etc. in Iraq is over. We are back to 1920s minus the British Indian troops and the monarchy.
    “Genocide” is too strong a word. The new Iraq will not be a Sunni-dominatd polity.

  36. hk says:

    I think Peterp was asking whether there’d be any Sunni Arab left in Iraq when the dust clears…

  37. BadTux says:

    I can tell you why the choppers went down. Every rotary wing in theatre needs a complete overhaul ASAP and is basically a flying death trap. The Sunni don’t need to shoot them down with machine guns or SAM’s, they’re falling out of the sky because turbine engines were never intended to ingest so much sand for so many hours.
    The fixed wing contingent is in a bit better shape, they’re running reasonable sortie rates and unlike the Army do not have the majority of their operational assets committed to the theatre and their FBO’s are not in combat zones and thus the contractors (who whom much of the military’s maintenance has been outsourced) haven’t all fled, and thus can do proper maintenance and unit rotation. That said, they are still flying an aweful lot of sorties, and when you fly that many sorties, sooner or later you’re going to have someone fall out of the air whether because of an unlikely goonie bird strike or some unlikely mechanical problem.
    Meanwhile, the various factions in Iraq have basically unlimited manpower, and unlimited time. Their logistical situation is one that can be sustained forever. Sooner or later, the U.S. will leave, but they’ll still be there. They know this. Thus their lack of SAMs capable of shooting down U.S. aircraft is as irrelevant as Hisballah’s lack of SAM’s was during the Israeli incursion in Lebanon. All they have to do is keep bleeding, bleeding, bleeding the U.S. forces, and sooner or later, the U.S. has to leave because the logistical situation is simply untenable in the long term. It’s going to cost half a trillion dollars to repair or replace the equipment destroyed by three years of combat in a god-forsaken sand pile, and there isn’t enough equipment left for another three years of combat in that god-forsaken sand pile unless we spend that half a trillion bucks ASAP — which doesn’t appear to be happening. Every piece of operational equipment in the U.S. Army is currently in Iraq or Afghanistan. There is nothing else to send. We can’t even pump up the number of soldiers we have in Iraq by the amounts that John McCain and others have been advocating, because there is no longer the equipment to equip them. Hell, we’d probably have to take back the AK-47’s we bought for the Iraqi Army just to have enough rifles for them!
    Tactics win battles. Logistics win wars. And in this war, the insurgency has all the logistical advantage.

  38. 4 billion says:

    Bad Tux, there was evidence of high end quipment in the hands of the Hez, with that boat and a jet/heli being taken out by something that did not have feathers.
    The jet/heli was definitely hushed up, I saw Robert Fisk being interviewed when it had just happened and he was holding a bit o’ bird.

  39. Eaken says:

    I hate to say this, but at this point in time, civil war is the best case scenario.
    Without it there would be no impetus for change.

  40. Leila says:

    Marclord – I’m an American of Arab ancestry. I don’t like to hear anybody pronouncing that a particular religion should prevent one’s being asked to serve in an American government. It’s un-American. I will criticize Israel and her supporters all day long, but to jump to: “no Jews allowed in policy decisions” is simply not the solution. Such a prohibition is not going to happen anyway – at least where Jews are concerned – but as an Arab-American I want to restate my objection.
    This is a pluralist country and people are to be judged not by the religion of their ancestors (or that they practice themselves) but by their ideas, their behavior and their accomplishments. Full stop. Whatever the wrongs of Israeli society, and there are many, they will not be righted by Americans dropping our principles of pluralism and religious tolerance.
    I don’t want the sectarianism and prejudice that’s destroying my father’s country (Lebanon) to poison my own country (America).
    THat’s my point.

  41. walrus says:

    Sorry Liela, its already happened. Try raising venture capital if you are not a “friend of Israel”. I speak from experience.
    Having said that, I prefer dealing with the orthodox community because they may be tough, but they stick to the deal.
    Goys lie and cheat, but that doesn’t change the ultimate message – Israel cannot survive as a theocracy, anymore than muslim countries. In that repect, there is an unholy alliance between Tehran and Jerusalem.

  42. walrus says:

    Sorry Liela, its already happened. Try raising venture capital if you are not a “friend of Israel”. I speak from experience.
    Having said that, I prefer dealing with the orthodox community because they may be tough, but they stick to the deal.
    Goys lie and cheat, but that doesn’t change the ultimate message – Israel cannot survive as a theocracy, anymore than muslim countries. In that repect, there is an unholy alliance between Tehran and Jerusalem.

  43. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Public confirmation of what has been going on for several years now:

  44. Leila says:

    Well, walrus, you couldn’t raise venture capital because you werent’ a friend of Israel – is that what you’re saying?
    How do you get from that narrative to the conclusion that Jews should not serve in foreign policy positions in the US government – the original idea to which I objected?
    I don’t know anything about the status of your private investment activity, but what bankers do is not germane to who gets to serve in the U.S. government. I still say that if we care about pluralism and tolerance in this country, we will continue to look beyond people’s race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender preference and so forth, to their actual qualifications for office.
    Whether or not Citibank will lend a peacenik some venture capital is not covered under the constitution. Of course I think it’s dumb on Citibank’s part to play like that, if that’s what is really happening, but it’s not unconstitutional. I invest in “socially responsible” capital funds that refuse to invest in socially irresponsible corporations or countries. (Remember divesting from South Africa?) Private or even publicly held capital is free to invest where it wishes. The civil service and workings of the state are another matter.

  45. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Thanks. I actually do not object to profanity if it is central to the narrative. pl

  46. John Howley says:

    The FT has an excellent overview of the petroleum situation in Iraq.
    Oil groups dream of day they can enter Iraq
    By Carola Hoyos and Roula Khalaf
    Published: December 7 2006 19:07 | Last updated: December 7 2006 19:07
    “As it strains to contain the sectarian bloodshed and ease the departure of its own troops from Iraq, the US has been exerting pressure on Iraqi leaders to pass a hydrocarbons law that would more fairly regulate the distribution of oil revenues and close some of the sectarian rifts. Political squabbles have overshadowed what could be the historic aspect of the legislation: although the previous regime had moved towards opening up the sector, in order to encourage oil companies to break United Nations sanctions, the law is expected finally to reverse the 1972 nationalisation of the industry.”

  47. different clue says:

    John Howley referrences the Financial Times’s article about the petroleum
    situation in Iraq. Among that article’s sentences I
    note the partial sentence..
    ” in order to encourage the
    oil companies to break the
    United Nations sanctions, the law is expected to finally reverse the 1972
    nationalization of the industry.” The industry
    being the oil industry, and
    the law being the new hydrocarbons law being lauded in this article. And
    there, in that quote, extracted from the “fairness
    and goodness for Iraqis” spin, is the point. Reversing the nationalization of the Iraqi
    oil industry. Privatising
    it. And handing it over to
    the Texas-based oil companies which James Baker
    works with and works for.
    That is the real reason for
    invading Iraq. Privatising
    the oil. And Texanising it.
    That’s all it ever was.
    I haven’t read the ISG plan. But I would almost
    bet that one of its 79 points will contain some referrence to passing that
    hydrocarbons law and de-nationalizing Iraq’s oil industry and especially the
    oil fields themselves. And
    privatising them and encouraging foreign investment in them, and Production Sharing Agreements and all those good things.
    If oil is nowhere mentioned among those 79 points and proposals, then
    I will have to admit to being wrong in my theory and
    suspicion as to what this
    war was all about. I have
    regarded the neocons as just
    a bunch of tin cans tied to
    the rear bumper of the car.
    If privatizing Iraq’s oil is
    nowhere mentioned in the ISG
    report, then I will have to
    prepare myself to accept that the neocons really are
    the man behind the wheel.
    I really need to read that

  48. rebecca says:

    different clue,
    You may find your ISG oil questions answered here:
    From the article:
    ‘WHILE THE Bush administration, the media and nearly all the Democrats still refuse to explain the war in Iraq in terms of oil, the ever-pragmatic members of the Iraq Study Group share no such reticence.
    Page 1, Chapter 1 of the Iraq Study Group report lays out Iraq’s importance to its region, the U.S. and the world with this reminder: “It has the world’s second-largest known oil reserves.” The group then proceeds to give very specific and radical recommendations as to what the United States should do to secure those reserves. If the proposals are followed, Iraq’s national oil industry will be commercialized and opened to foreign firms.
    The report makes visible to everyone the elephant in the room: that we are fighting, killing and dying in a war for oil. It states in plain language that the U.S. government should use every tool at its disposal to ensure that American oil interests and those of its corporations are met.
    It’s spelled out in Recommendation No. 63, which calls on the U.S. to “assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise” and to “encourage investment in Iraq’s oil sector by the international community and by international energy companies.” This recommendation would turn Iraq’s nationalized oil industry into a commercial entity that could be partly or fully privatized by foreign firms.’
    (plenty more at the link)

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