“the politics of the last atrocity”

Hell_2 "It is getting worse. The Iraqi army and police are not loyal to the state. If the US army decides to confront the Shia militias it could well find Shia military units from the Iraqi army cutting the main American supply route between Kuwait and Baghdad. One convoy was stopped at a supposedly fake police checkpoint near the Kuwait border earlier this month and four American security men and an Austrian taken away.

The US and British position in Iraq is far more of a house built on sand than is realized in Washington or London despite the disasters of the last three-and-a-half years. President Bush and Tony Blair show a unique inability to learn from their mistakes, largely because they do not want to admit having committed any errors in the first place.

Civil war is raging across central Iraq, home to a third of the country’s 27 million people. As Shia and Sunni flee each other’s neighbourhoods Iraq is turning into a country of refugees. The UN High Commission for Refugees says that 1.6 million are displaced within the country and a further 1.8 million have fled abroad. In Baghdad neighbouring Sunni and Shia districts have started to fire mortars at each other. On the day Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death I phoned a friend in a Sunni area of the capital to ask what he thought of the verdict. He answered impatiently that "I was woken up this morning by the explosion of a mortar bomb on the roof of my next door neighbour’s house. I am more worried about staying alive myself than what happens to Saddam."  Patrick Cockburn


"Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night."

Matthew Arnold – Dover Beach 1867


That pretty well sums it up.  We are going to go all the way down, down down….  All the way down to whatever circle is reserved for the ignorant, proud and presumptuous.

And the Iraqis, whomever they are? They are going to go with us although perhaps to a different circle.  Their’s may be one reserved for the bloody minded who can’t see their neighbors as other than mortar targets.

June, 2007?  Maliki says June, 2007?  There may be a special place for him.



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18 Responses to “the politics of the last atrocity”

  1. Margaret Steinfels says:

    Actually it’s Patrick Coburn, not Alexander. Can’t get rid of my old proof-reading compulsions!
    And an impressive analysis.

  2. Jim Price says:

    Col., the possibility of our troops being attacked and their supply lines being cut is less reminiscent of the war you and I fought than the events of November and December 1950 when the 1st Marine Division was cut off at the Chosin Reservoir. It was there that Gen O.P. Smith was reported to have said when told he was surrounded “Good, now we can attack in any direction.” If the situation in Iraq continues to deteroriate we may well forget about pulling our troops out. They will be fighting their way out.

  3. Jim Price says:

    Sorry, Col., forgive an old retired CW5, I mis-typed my e-mail address, the above is correct.

  4. walrus says:

    I sense we are getting near a tipping point in history again. When it happens, military collapse will go together with economic collapse.
    I note almost frantic activity by American private equity companies to buy foriegn assets with American dollars. There have been three multi billion dollar bids (16b,15b and 10b for a supermarket chain, a building products firm and an airline) down here in little old Australia in the last month. KKR bought Vivendi a few months ago for 50 billion.
    I interpret this as the rats leaving the sinking ship as quickly as they can.

  5. Michael says:

    An unrelated item, but interesting none-the-less. I see Bush wasn’t expecting an honest answer from Jim Webb during their meeting. I guess Bush has been surrounded by “yes men” a little too long.

  6. FKA says:

    It is Alex Cockburn from COUNTERPUNCH.

  7. Dan O'Donnell says:

    To walrus:
    The Carlyle Group is busy spending US dollars buying non-US firms. Last week they submitted a bid to buy Advanced Semiconductor Engineering of Taiwan.
    OTOH they plan to borrow $4B of the $6B offer, which makes this look like a value extraction. They have recently been buying other firms as well and doing value extraction in some cases.
    A few days ago I heard of another tender offer KKR has out for some very large conglomerate. (Can’t remember now who or what.)
    To Pat, Carlyle has recently established a new private equity firm in Dubai to go after business in MENA. (See Khaleej Times article at http://tinyurl.com/yb9m5o.)
    I am not a business analyst so cannot comment knowledgeably about trends of US firms offshoring capital, or of other firms spending US money to buy non-US assets. However, I have noticed that this is being mentioned in the press as a trend. (Whether it’s really a trend or just an echo chamber artifact is the $64 question.)

  8. zanzibar says:

    This report by Patrick Cockburn was an eyeopener. The situation in Iraq is tragic. I don’t see how this resolves without further spilling of blood. It seems clearer by the day that our troops are just caught in the maelstrom of anarchy. There’s no way we can knock off the Mahdi without creating serious blowback. It seems the writing was on the wall when Sistani intervened to stop the mauling of the Mahdi in Najaf. Now the tiger is out of the cage.
    There really is no government. They are either holed up in the Green Zone or traipsing in London. Wonder what the Badr folks and Hakim are up to? They pushed hard to get their guy in as PM but failed and then got Maliki as the “compromise” Dawa guy.

  9. FKA says:

    My mistake.

  10. 4 billion says:

    I accuse the Neococonuts of realising that if Saddam was taken out, a civil war would ensue. The utter lack of planning for post invasion Iraq was no accident, for example, one of the few assets that were protected, post invasion, was the ministry of oil. No arms dumps were protected.
    NeoCoconuts believe that 9/11 came about due to stability in the Middle East. What better way to create instability than to crank up a war between Sunni and Shia. If Iran gets Iraq, then they have better numbers and assets to take it to the Sunni. This is important, as Shia only make up 15% of Muslims, Sunni is the vast majority, so the Shia need a bit of helping hand otherwise it would be too short a fight therefore not a decent amount of instability.
    I wouldn’t put it beyond the neococonuts to mess with Europe either.One doesn’t have to be Einstein to realise that lots of people escape Civil wars, history shows this, irrefutably. The countries around Iraq are not exactly kitted out to support hundreds of thousands of refugees, therefore where do the refugees go? well there is a nice land route to Europe. I don’t think they would be trying for America, whom they probably are not to keen on anyway. What better way to destabilise ‘old’ Europe than an influx of Muslims.

  11. Grimgrin says:

    4 billion: I think you give the Neoconservative clique too much credit. Way way waaaayyy to much credit. The clique that pushed for war in Iraq probably like to imagine themselves as the kind of ruthless and brilliantly subtle long term game players that you describe. The reality, as far as I can tell, is that they’re a gang of over-educated apparatchiks who formed a large part of Bush’s inner circe. 9/11 happened and they pounced on the chance to put their ideological version of the world into practice. Unfortunately it turned out that they were utterly, obstinately and agressively ignorant of reality, and things are coming completely unglued.
    And PL: If Dante was correct, the people who lead the U.S. and her allies into this war will wind up in the Eighth circle, 8th or 9th Bolgia depending on how Minos is feeling that day. The choice is being encased in flames in the 8th or eternally hacked to pieces by demons in the 9th.

  12. Share says:

    Col. Lang Please mention this very important story. The American public is gravely under served by corporate media on this story
    Tell the media to cover the murders and torture going on now against the people of Oxaca, Mexico who are protesting the election fraud as we should have.

    How you can help the people of Oaxaca. Please do it now. Who, if not you?
    Please send emails today saying that:
    Thanks to the internet, people around the world know that the Mexican Federal Police and the military are shooting unarmed peaceful protestors and bystanders in Oaxaca. Ask the consulate to ask thier government to please remove the Federal Police and military immediatly from Oaxaca, and to seek a peaceful resolution to the problems caused by the corrupt Governor of Oaxaca.
    Most of these consulate internet sites have a link to send them an e-mail.
    If we send these today, by tomorrow when they show up for work, there will be a lot of these messages waiting for them. Please use your own words. Phone if you want. Just do something to help these brave people in Oaxaca organizing for a little justice.
    Please spread this far and wide.
    2600 Apple Valley Rd.
    ATLANTA, Georgia 30319
    Tel: (404) 266-2233, 1932, 2302,Fax: (404) 266-2302, 2309

  13. 4 billion says:

    Grimgrin, I appreciate my claims appear outlandish and I fear the NC’s are either really smart or really dumb.
    I base my whole thesis on a brief insight into the mind of the NC. This was gained from Mark Steyn, the NC funny man, (I think comedy is the medium of truth). He stated that 9/11 came about due to stability in the ME while he was visiting Australia. A flimsy base, but NC’s, like all polits, are good at obscuring the real ball game, so it took a ‘quasi-Con’ to reveal the truth.
    My theory is not really that outlandish, its just a divide and conquer strategy for the 21st century.

  14. John Howley says:

    “What the Baker group appears to have done is try to change the direction of the political momentum on Iraq,” said Stephen P. Cohen, a scholar at the Israel Policy Forum. “They have made clear that there isn’t a scenario for a democratic Iraq, at least for a very long time. They have called into question the logic of a lengthy American presence. And once you’ve done that, what is the case for Americans dying in order to have this end slowly?”

  15. 4 billion says:

    ps Grimgrin: the Neococonuts were influential long before junior stuck his thumb in the pie.

  16. Will says:

    from the p. cockburn article
    “But this is exactly what the prime minister does believe. The fact that the largest Shia militia in Iraq–the Mehdi Army of Muqtada al- Sadr–is anti-Iranian and Iraqi nationalist is conveniently ignored. These misconceptions are important in terms of practical policy because they give support to the dangerous myth that if the US and Britain could only frighten or square the Iranians and Syrians then all would come right as their Shia cats-paws in Iraq and Lebanon would inevitably fall into line ”
    in fact Sadr at one time offered to help beseigned Falluja against the Americans.
    But the stupid attacks against shiites have driven some of the Mahdi army to retaliate.
    The occupation Army itself is what fueled the insurgency and lit up the Civil War. The longer it stays, the worse it gets.
    Yanqui Go Home! With your bloodstained and Yehudi (Israeli) directed hands!
    Once we got rid of Saddam, we overstayed our welcome.

  17. Grimgrin says:

    4billion: I recognize that, I just think that they used Bush and 9/11 to go from one of the many influential ideological cliques to being the group setting the foreign agenda in Washington. At this point, even if things in the middle east are proceeding according to plan, they’re dangerously incompetent lunatics. Although if this was the plan all along, they’re dangerously incompetent lunatics for a different set of reasons than if they’ve just failed utterly to achieve any of their publicly stated goals.

  18. brenda says:

    4 billion, it isn’t that the neo-cons are either really smart or really dumb. It’s that they’re really Israeli. Literally. Many of them actually do have “dual citizenship”. Which did use to be illegal here at one time, but now is some kind of status symbol if that other-than-American citizenship happens to be Israeli. That the neo-cons are working in Israel’s best interests, not America’s, explains a lot of otherwise hard-to-understand US foreign policies.

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