“The Election Result and the Insurgency in Iraq”

Larry Johnson reminded me today that I published this way back when..

Pat Lang

“Here’s what you said a year and a half ago


February 13, 2005
The Election Result and the Insurgency in Iraq
Larry Johnson

“Colonel Patrick Lang (US Army Retired) served as the US Defense Attache in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. He established and was the first professor in the Arabic Language program at West Point in the 1970s. He is one of the few genuine authorities who understands the cultural and the military obstacles we face in Iraq. Unlike Don Rumsfeld, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, Colonel Lang spent two tours in Vietnam with combat units. I prefer getting analysis on combat and local politics from someone who speaks the language and knows the lay of the land than from those who fight only from the warmth and safety of bunkers in Washington. The following is Pat’s take on the Iraqi electoral results.”

“Well, folks, all the happy talk about who got what in the election and whether it is fair or not and whether the Sunni Arabs will be invited to “participate” in the new constitutional process is just so much hot air.

The people who voted were the people who stood to gain from the election in the context of a “one man, one vote” context.

These are not the people who have been fighting us and/or supporting the fighters among the insurgents.

Why do we think that the insurgents and their supporters will be impressed by this political interaction among their opponents?

The flaw in all the talk and “thought” about the “Iraqi People” and what percentage of them voted is that there is no “Iraqi People.” There are only “Iraqi PeopleS.” The Kurds, Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs, Turcomans, Chaldean Christians, Assyrian Christians, etc. are “ethno-religious NATIONS.” Iraq is a state, not a nation-state. The state of Iraq strove for 80 odd years to make the peoples of Iraq into one people. That process was ongoing when we interrupted it.

As a result the Sunni Arab ethno-religious nation is at least in part in rebellion at the sacrifice of its interests to those of the other “nations”
of Iraq.

The election has only sharpened their unhappiness and anxiety.

Iraqi nationalists as well as other people in the Middle East are quick to express outrage at the thought that they are still profoundly affected by the kind of divisions I mentioned above. We have to be careful not to accept easily their own “life illusion.”

I invite readers to remember this argument in the coming months.”

Pat Lang”

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19 Responses to “The Election Result and the Insurgency in Iraq”

  1. Richard Whitman says:

    Pat Lang, I have been reading and occasionally contributing to this website for several months. I think it is about time we have a forward looking article about Iraq. a “where do we go from here or how do we get out of this mess”. I would be interested in your thoughts on this in advance of the recommendations of the Iraq Study Commission (Baker/Hamilton group unless of course, you contributed to the study.

  2. Astute observation. Pity the Right Bolsheviks “know” that their neo-“working class” is a thing in itself.
    Americans have driven off a bloody cliff and don’t actually know it, which is moderately disturbing.

  3. Will says:

    W/ respect to the “mess” in Irak, there are two possibilties
    1. The Bush team is incopetent toward achieving mainstream recognized goals in Irak- unity of country, peace & stability.
    2. Their goals are not the mainstream goals. They are A) the breakup of the country and marginalization of the Sunni;
    B}the establishment of permanent bases both as to be able if not to control the oil in Irak at least to deny the same to others and to project power into Central and South Asia.
    If alternative B was their objective, which IMHO it was, then their acts of forbidding occupation planning (Gen Batista), invading w/ too few forces to control the country, disbanding the Iraki Army and Police– all these on their face ridiculous acts then make perfect sense.
    It would have been the only way to guarantee the breakup of Irak and the need for permanent basing.
    Too Machiavellian? Remember we’re talking about Bush, Cheney, Scooter Libby, Perle, Douglas Feith, and Wolfwitz here.
    Best Wishes

  4. zanzibar says:

    “Too Machiavellian? Remember we’re talking about Bush, Cheney, Scooter Libby, Perle, Douglas Feith, and Wolfwitz here.” – Will
    I am not certain any longer that the neo-cons were truly Machiavellian. There is no evidence that I have seen that leads me to believe that they had a strategy or other larger goal. The fact that no rational person understands their rationale for invasion and occupation proves in my mind that there was no strategy. It was completely faith-based decision making eschewing history, intelligence product and facts. They really believed Iraq would be a cakewalk and they would be greeted with flowers and candy. They could then strut and demand their rightful place in the pantheon of great leaders. And demand the Middle East reshape to their visions. I must admit however that they captured the zeitgeist of post-9/11 America and are very successful in twisting it to achieve their ends of power. They were fortunate that the Republicans controlled Congress and were able to get the party to move in lock-step with their malevolent policies. The incredible pass the American people have given them despite their immense and repeated errors in judgement is what is astounding. Our children will be paying the price.

  5. Will says:

    The NeoKons came up with a plan for a new Mid-EAst based on ethnic borders that would be more favorable to Israel’s strategic interest. The plan was to deny the Sunnis control of oil wealth. They never took into account that the Shiates may not be rollovers either. Or that Turkey may grab the Kirkuk oil fields itself for the Iraki Turkomans and to deny the same to the Kurds.
    There was a “clean break” paper written by Feith, Perle, Wurmsers’ et al for Netanyahu that was laughed out of Israel but adopted by the U.S.
    One of the NeoKons got in trouble a few years ago for showing a power point presentation at the Pentagon favoring the breakup of our ally Saudi Arabia.
    Now the Turks are in an uproar about an article and MAP published in a semi-official publication (The Armed Forces Journal) showing the breakup of Turkey and Armenia in favor of a greater Kurdistan. The same map also shows the breakup of course of Saudi Arabia, our ally, some of the Gulf Coast sheikdoms (our allies) and of course Irak.
    The sheer stupidity of those editors of publishing such an incendiary article in The Armed Forces Journal lies in that it is a semi-official publication. The NeoKons have no shame.
    the journal article
    the map showing breakup of allies
    Best Wishes

  6. Alan Miller says:

    Mr. Lang,
    I do not intend this to be a comment on your blog. You certainly may post it if you like. I just hoped to get your reaction.
    If the Niger documents were a covert operation to manipulate Americans, it seems to me other such operations might have also been undertaken.
    I’ve compiled quotes from over 50 senior military, intelligence service and government officals (mostly retired), that are are highly critical of the 9/11 Commission Report.
    Although I think these people’s opinion on this subject are highly relevant, they’ve gotten negligible coverage in the media.
    I’ve put the information on the web at http://www.PatriotsQuestion911.com
    I’d appreciate your opinion on this matter. I would not place your opinion on the website unless you authorize it or have made a previous public statement on the matter.
    Sincerely, Alan Miller

  7. avedis says:

    The material in your link portrays a thinking that is both retarded and lunatic.
    Deliberately bypassing much of the obvious…..
    ….Armenia gets back a tiny piece of what it lost to the Ottomans and their Kurdish henchmen; albeit an important tiny piece containing Mt Ararat – and this has a certain appeal for me.
    Why on earth would the Kurds merit such a huge concession of land?
    Col. Lang,
    I know the history of the Kurds very well. I am sure you do as well.
    Would you please help me to understand why the Kurds seem to be the darlings of the neocons’ fantasies. What virtue (or opportunity for gain) do we see in the Kurds?
    Everyone in the US chooses to see the Kurds as victims only. No one wants to ackowledge that perhaps much of the Kurds suffering has been the fruit of their own actions. No one wants to remember that the Kurds, as nomads, have never had a homeland and that they have been given to banditry, genocide, revolution, insurgency and, most recently, to terrorism.
    Yet the Kurds are constantly presented as a table raza for Middle Eastern democracy.
    I find this to be as baffling as anything that has occurred via US/Middle East policy.
    I would truly appreciate your thoughts on this.

  8. Matthew says:

    Will: The “honorable” Ralph Peters explained the new borders plan in the journalist jewel, Frontpagemag.com. Please keep in mind that Mr. Peter’s knowledge of the ME is, frankly, non-existent. If you google the factual claims he makes, almost all are wrong. For example, he claims that there are no car factories in the Muslim world. Hence, they are primitive; hence, we can redraw their maps. But as we know, a big lie is more believable than a small one.

  9. Will says:

    I am not unsympathetic to the Kurds. They have played a great part of the history of the mid-east and they have historically been screwed.
    The greastest Muslim of Kurdish descent was the legnedary red headed Salah-al-Din-al-Ayubbi-al-Kurdi.
    They have been played by the Israelis as a wedge to breakup Irak. The israelis have also played the Turks as a wedge against Syria and Irak.
    A thrd of the Turkish population is indeed Turkish and they have been repressed as Mountain Turks and for a long time until recently forbidden to use their native language which is akin to Farsi.
    But as between the Turks and Kurds, the israelis are going to choose the Turks. That’s where the pipeline terminus is for the Azeribaijani oil that is going to be spurred via the Med to Israel.
    Speaking of Azerbaigjan, Armenia is in a position to hold the pipelilne hostage. The Azeris are Shiite Turks. They constitute a large percentage on the population of Northeast Iran. In fact Khomeaini was an Azeri Irania. Peters has Tabriz, iran going to Azerbaijan. Not going to happen.
    Peters creates a Sacred Islamic State surrounding Mecca. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan would have its eye on that as they are descended from the Sherif of Mecca who controlled the Hejaz for many centuries.
    Peters has the Western Province of Iran, Arab populated Khurizan (sp) going with an Arabic Shiite State. Oops Hurizan Arabs are Sunni.
    Baluchstan, home of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, is created from Eastern Iran and Western Pakistan. Afghanistan takes over the tribal territories of Northern Pakistan,
    Again that the Armed Forces Journal would entertain such incendiary stuff, even it was true, is mindboggling.
    To answer the question, why are the Kurds darling- the Israeli lobby influence.
    Best Wishes

  10. avedis says:

    There is no pipeline that the Armenians can hold hostage. The BTC pipeline bypasses Armenia (and this has been a source of serious problems for Armenia). Unless Armenia attacked Azerbaijan or Georgia the pipeline is beyond its grasp.
    Now, there is a new pipeline deal between Armenia and Iran. It would be a source of fuel for Armenia only because the gauge of the pipe is too narrow to permit the kind of flow necessary for profitable export beyond Armenia’s borders.
    “But as between the Turks and Kurds, the israelis are going to choose the Turks.”
    seems to conflict with,
    “To answer the question, why are the Kurds darling- the Israeli lobby influence”.
    How could the Israeli faction side with Turkey while promising about half of Turkey’s land mass to the Kurds? So I don’t follow your logic.
    Unless you are really saying that the Israel lobby and the Turks have agreed to allow the US to make an empty promise to the Kurds to encourage their cooperation in whatever matters.
    But I don’t believe this either because the Kurds would not be so foolish as to go along with what they would have to Know was fantastic and, therefore, worthless.
    Most likely the affection for the Kurds is only part Machiavellian manipulation and part irrational ideology – maybe the larger part, but I don’t know.

  11. Will says:

    OOps. I made a lot of typos. The “mountain turks” that make up a third of the population of the country of Turkey are the Kurds. It is the North West region of Iran where the Iranian-Azeris (Tabriz) live.
    Best Wishes

  12. Will says:

    the Israelis back the Iraq and Iran part of Kurdistan but NOT the Turkish part. We have already established Peters is an idiot and ignoramus as a NeoKon. I guess he was showing the blood borders as he undersood them irrespective of political consequences.
    The Azeri pipeline can be shelled from (I can’t spell it) the Armenian enclave in Azeribiajan,
    Armenia won the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Russian help, of course.
    here we go: the pipeline route Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan
    Here is an interesting little trivia tidbit. The most racist politician in Israel Avigodor Lieberbman, who favors Palestinian “Transfer” (ethnic cleansing) from Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is an immigrant from Shiite Azerbaijan where he was treated very well and was in broadcasting.
    Best Wishes

  13. Will says:

    sorry for another post
    couldn’t find the link before due to bad spelling
    “Sparks Flying along the Pipeline
    By Walter Mayr
    The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, a new billion-dollar conduit for Caspian oil, will finally start operations this week. But the long-awaited pipeline already has one significant problem: it’s vulnerable to attack by Armenian fighters from separatist enclave Nagorno-Karabakh. ”

  14. dan says:

    I suspect that Turkey, Azerbaijan and the various equity partners in the BTC (BP, Azerbaijan SOC, Statoil, Total and some assorted Italian, Japanese and US companies ) would be rather surprised to find that there is going to be any kind of spur on to Israel ( equity contribution : zero to date ) for the oil that is currently being loaded at Ceyhan’s brand spanking new and very expensive marine terminal, from where it will be shipped to Italy, France or the UK (although anyone is free to bid the price up should they feel inclined to do so).
    Quite why anyone would think it was feasible to build a 750km sub-sea pipeline from Ceyhan to say, Haifa, which would involve such ball-crushing costs that it would be the most expensive oil on the planet by a large margin, is beyond me.
    If anyone could ever resolve the planning and maritime law issues regarding this it would be a miracle – a rather pointless one as the oil would have run out by then anyway.

  15. Got A Watch says:

    The Great Game of today is all about oil, in the past it was about trade routes – little has really changed in 500 years. To get up to speed:
    A 5 part series on Russia and modern oil geopolitics by the somewhat alarmist W. Joseph Stroupe of
    He has been writing on this topic for years, though he seems to see Russians under the bed everywhere it’s thought provoking. His site has some good analysis, though mostly for paying readers.
    Some updates regarding the BTC and Central-Asian oil geopolitics, try this:
    Israel has been trying to arrange a pipeline for years. From a report last June:
    “Then, in one of the more fascinating examples of geopolitical chutzpah, the Kremlin-controlled Gazprom gas monopoly entered quiet negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert through his billionaire friend, Benny Steinmetz, to secure Russian natural-gas supplies to Israel via an undersea pipeline from Turkey to Israel.
    According to the Israeli paper Yediot Ahronot, Olmert’s office has said it will support the Gazprom proposal. In several years Israel faces a shortage of gas from Tethys Sea drilling and soon from Egypt. Tethys Sea gas is projected to run dry in a few years. British Gas is in talks to supply gas from Gaza but Israel disputes BG’s right to drill. ”
    I read somewhere recently about Israel and the underwater pipeline, maybe they are going ahead with it. I will try to find the link.
    The bottom line of all this for American readers is that the USA is on the outside looking in on almost all oil fronts in Asia. Inept diplomacy, bad policies and brilliant Russian opposition have created a failure to secure the resources, probably figuring in the neocon calculations regarding Iran and stiffening resolve to “stay the course” in Iraq.

  16. Will says:

    I left out that the Israelis would also back the Syrian part of
    greater Kurdistan
    regarding the spur. I get all my disinformation from debka.com. If not a Mossad site, it’s at the least well connected to it.
    Of course, Israel would pay for the spur. If they would regurgitate the Golan Heights (Jebel Druze) to Syria, they could have peace w/ Syria and shortly thereafter Lebanon. Then they could have a land spur from the pipeline
    They have been talking about importing water from Turkey with water tankers. A water pipleline from Turkey would be even better for them.
    Best Wishes

  17. Will says:

    From Woodward’s Book State of Denial
    On June 18, 2003, Jay Garner went to see Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to report on his brief tenure in Iraq as head of the postwar planning office. Throughout the invasion and the early days of the war, Garner, a retired Army lieutenant general, had struggled just to get his team into Iraq. Two days after he arrived, Rumsfeld called to tell him that L. Paul “Jerry” Bremer, a 61-year-old terrorism expert and protege of Henry A. Kissinger, would be coming over as the presidential envoy, effectively replacing Garner.
    “We’ve made three tragic decisions,” Garner told Rumsfeld.
    “Really?” Rumsfeld asked.
    “Three terrible mistakes,” Garner said.
    He cited the first two orders Bremer signed when he arrived, the first one banning as many as 50,000 members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party from government jobs and the second disbanding the Iraqi military. Now there were hundreds of thousands of disorganized, unemployed, armed Iraqis running around.
    Third, Garner said, Bremer had summarily dismissed an interim Iraqi leadership group that had been eager to help the United States administer the country in the short term. “Jerry Bremer can’t be the face of the government to the Iraqi people. You’ve got to have an Iraqi face for the Iraqi people.”
    Garner made his final point: “There’s still time to rectify this. There’s still time to turn it around.”
    Rumsfeld looked at Garner for a moment with his take-no-prisoners gaze. “Well,” he said, “I don’t think there is anything we can do, because we are where we are.”
    He thinks I’ve lost it, Garner thought. He thinks I’m absolutely wrong. Garner didn’t want it to sound like sour grapes, but facts were facts. “They’re all reversible,” Garner said again.
    “We’re not going to go back,” Rumsfeld said emphatically.
    Later that day, Garner went with Rumsfeld to the White House. But in a meeting with Bush, he made no mention of mistakes. Instead he regaled the president with stories from his time in Baghdad.
    In an interview last December, I asked Garner if he had any regrets in not telling the president about his misgivings.
    “You know, I don’t know if I had that moment to live over again, I don’t know if I’d do that or not. But if I had done that — and quite frankly, I mean, I wouldn’t have had a problem doing that — but in my thinking, the door’s closed. I mean, there’s nothing I can do to open this door again. And I think if I had said that to the president in front of Cheney and Condoleezza Rice and Rumsfeld in there, the president would have looked at them and they would have rolled their eyes back and he would have thought, ‘Boy, I wonder why we didn’t get rid of this guy sooner?’ ”
    “They didn’t see it coming,” Garner added. “As the troops said, they drank the Kool-Aid
    Best Wishes

  18. Will says:

    Jay G underestimates their intelligence. He is right that Bush & Co. would have rolled their eyes at him if he had persisted.
    Lewis Paul Bremer had his instructions about ruining Irak and they were from one Douglas Feith. Feith was the No. 3 at the Penatgon after Rummy and Wolfie.
    To say Feith had dual loyalties would be an understatement.
    This is why I think the Irak mess is preplanned and not the result of sheer incompetence
    Former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice
    According to the long-running Washington newsletter, The Nelson Report, edited by Christopher Nelson, Feith was standing in for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at a 2003 interagency ‘Principals’ Meeting’ debating the Middle East, and ended his remarks on behalf of the Pentagon. Then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said, “Thanks Doug, but when we want the Israeli position we’ll invite the ambassador.” [26] [27]
    Former Secretary of State Colin Powell
    In Bob Woodward’s book Plan of Attack, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell called Feith’s operation at the Pentagon the “Gestapo” office because Powell believed it amounted to a separate, unchecked governing authority within the Pentagon.[28]
    Former Feith Deputy, Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski (ret)
    Former Feith Deputy, Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, spoke of Feith’s style: “‘He was very arrogant,’ Feith’s former deputy, says, describing what it was like to work with him. ‘He doesn’t utilize a wide variety of inputs. He seeks information that confirms what he already thinks. And he may go to jail for leaking classified information to The Weekly Standard.’ [30] (Karen Kwiatkowski believes an article that appeared in The Weekly Standard included a classified memo written by Feith alleging ties between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.)
    Former Chief of Staff to the Secretary of State, Larry Wilkerson
    In 2005, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to then Secretary of State Colin Powell, publicly stated he could “testify to” Franks’ comment, and added “Seldom in my life have I met a dumber man.” [35]
    Regarding Feith and his colleague, David Wurmser, Colonel Wilkerson has stated “A lot of these guys, including Wurmser, I looked at as card-carrying members of the Likud party, as I did with Feith. You wouldn’t open their wallet and find a card, but I often wondered if their primary allegiance was to their own country or to Israel. That was the thing that troubled me, because there was so much that they said and did that looked like it was more reflective of Israel’s interest than our own.”[36]
    Former CENTCOM Deputy Director, Lt. General Michael DeLong
    In an interview with PBS on 14 February 2006, General DeLong was asked about the information coming from Feith’s office in the lead-up to the Iraq war. He replied: “Feith wasn’t somebody we enjoyed working with, and to go much further than that would probably not be a good thing. To be honest, we blew him off lots of times. Told the secretary that he’s full of baloney, his people working for him are full of baloney. It was a real distraction for us, because he was the number three guy in the Department of Defense.”[37]
    Best Wishes

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