I am told that within the constraints of the position which the president took today at Riga, his inner circle is going about the business of constructing a "consensus" (ijma’?) of Sunni Middle Eastern forces to oppose the rise of Iran as standard bearer of Shia (surely 12er) Islam in its once in a millennium effort to be the "master" in the Islamic "House."
Turkey, Shia Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the rest of the GCC, Israel and, of course, the US are being summoned to an apocalyptic struggle against the Iranian Mullahcracy (never my favorites). Syria is being pressured to join the "combination" against Iran, but, as usual, without "carrots."
What does this mean? It means that very defective understandings of the Middle East still rule American foreign policy.
For further, IMO jaw-dropping evidence of the White House’s defective (delusional if they really believe it) understanding of the Middle East, you need only go to the official White House website and read their take on Iraq: http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/iraq/
What will it take before those defective understandings evolve into a realpolitik approach to our ME relations? Sometimes I wonder if that will ever happen.
Do u ever see an American who calls 1600 Pennsylvania ave home spending their New Year’s Eve in Teheran again, as 39 did?
Blame al-Qaida! Or slice the problem up so fine its not a problem anymore, like Stephen Hadley “What distinguishes the sectarian violence from civil war is that the factions are “less aimed at gaining full control over an area than expressing differences and also trying to destabilize a democracy,” he said aboard Air Force One en route to Estonia on Monday.
It is interesting to hear wildly opposing rumors of what GWB may attempt next in Iraq, from making nice with the Shiites (some of them) over other Shiites (some other Shiite groups?) and Sunnis (some of them), to uniting with former Baathists to create a Sunni government, to replacing the present government, etc., etc., etc.
Exactly which group or faction in Iraq would take an alliance with the White House on faith? This will be at least the third major attempt to switch horses in Iraq to a new team. When the US negotiator promises you this or that, why would you have the slightest doubt your status as “ally” would last beyond the next policy revision?
The insurgents and militias of all stripes no doubt sense blood in the water now, they know an American withdrawal is coming, there is no reason to accede to any Bush plan now unless the terms are extremely favorable for them, not the US. And with their well known love for GWB and his policies, there is little motivation to make the end game in Iraq any easier for the foreign occupiers.
Wasn’t the last time Iran tried to be the standard-bearer of Islam in the time of Nadir Shah (1688-1747)?
I think it also means we’re doomed.
sounds like bush and his ‘inner circle’ are circling their water pipes and filling them with something other than the traditional druk. sounds like bush and his crew are smoking some of that hemp that bush just bought down in paraguay.
the sooner that our nation begins a double-impeachment, the better for all concerned.
Straight outta the old playbook. Rezah Pahlevi must have a grandson, or at least a suitable cousin in London. And did the Schwarzkopfs not re-spawn?
The play is defective, late, and ineffective, and the neocons will pay dearly for any actual gains they make (Assad: “Without carrots? Ha-ha-ha! You Americans slay me. That’s a good one! Have you seen the Syrian Happy Maker?”).
Yet is this not, in its way, an improvement over using tactical nukes guided by faith-based intel on underground bunkers?
At least they’re going back to the fundamentals, where failures cost less and run more time off the clock. The score might look less bad. Three yards and a cloud of dust, let’s talk about the time we tore Iran’s goalposts down back in ’58, and bring on the blond shiksa cheerleaders.
Set me right where I err, I’m all ears, and vice-versa.
I am struck with the similarity between today and 1918.
We have armies overseas.
We have an Avian Flu pandemic on its way.
Won’t it be ironic if our soldiers bring it back from Iraq?
In the context of Colonel Lang’s remarks, one must, absolutely must, read this posting from “Calculated Risk” and follow “Calculated Risk” each day.
Executive summary: The US is heading off a cliff economically. Bush’s window of opportunity for anything at all internationally is closing extremely rapidly.
The Bush/Greenspan Presidency has taken the US into something that may make the 30’s look benign. Very benign.
Also, follow the euro. When it cracks $1.44 expect the worst.
Jacob owed his neighbor Moses some money and couldn’t sleep at night. His wife woke up realizing Jacob could not sleep, asked him what was wrong. Jacob proceeded to explain that he did not have the money to pay Moses back in the morning and did not know what to do. Jacob’s wife thought for a second, walked over to the window and yelled over to Moses, “Jacob owes you money doesn’t he?”. Moses replies “yes”. Jacob’s wife then proceeds to tell Moses that Jacob doesn’t have the money and won’t be able to pay him back and shuts the door and comes back inside and tells Jacob, “Now you can go to sleep for it is now Moses will have trouble falling asleep”.
After all this we have gone through and still the administration is treating the symptom and not the root problem. I’m beginning to think Walrus just may have some competition on here as the most pessimistic.
Calculated Risk is a good read since he focuses on housing which caught the tide of the recent credit tsunami. And is at the tip of the spear of the credit expansion.
The Dollar/Euro exchange is interesting but at the end of the day the Euro is also just a paper currency and they are printing a good deal of it. As the Chinese, Russians and the Saudis move some of their dollar earnings to Euro its just a swap transaction. To look at currency debasement a good indicator is gold in dollars, euros and swiss francs. Or art in these currencies. The trend is clearly in the direction of tangibles appreciation.
IMO, since the world economy has risen on an unprecedented growth in credit that’s were the warning signs will come first.
Curtailment in credit growth at the margin will impair US consumer spending which has been the engine of world growth. The US consumer has effectively expanded expenditures when their real wage income growth over the past several years has been essentially flat through increased usage of credit primarily mortgage equity withdrawal.
Right now though there is no sign of credit growth tapering off. The repo market is still buoyant and private equity deals with large tranches of debt continue to be very active. But when it unravels taxpayers around the world will be holding the bag as investors get bailed out. As I commented on an earlier thread contemporary capitalism is about privatizing profits and socializing losses.
I believe we are heading towards the first consumer led recession since 1991, but Bernanke, Paulson and other central banks and treasuries are doing their very best to prevent a disorderly repricing of credit risk through ample supply of liquidity. This belief that government institutions will always be available as the buyer of last resort has virtually eliminated credit risk premiums. And investors in search of those extra points of yield are happily writing premiums on credit risk “insurance” – meaning there is very little concern for a credit default scenario right now. When the tide recedes and risk premiums rise it will not be pretty for American taxpayers.
But there is hope for America. I disagree intensely with Webb’s views on gun control (or lack of it). In France, for example, with a population of about 60,000,000, there are around 300 gun deaths per year, 150 of them related to hunting. If you armed the French, there would be about 30,000,000 left inside of a week.
But Webb is the perfect antidote for the opportunistic plutocrat in the White House.
Maliki may have more in his pants than the decider expects. I guess its no secret that the Mahdi army, that homegrown nationalist army has swelled to 40-70,000 in the last couple of years. Holy smokes, what could be worse than the fastest growing nationalist army in Iraq — without outside training or overt funding outstripping both the Badr, Pershmega, and the new Iraqi Army — what could be worse to the disintegration of Iraqi nationalism? The longer Maliki stalls, the bigger they grow, and U.S. “interests” are diminished, and thats why Maliki is currently demonized as “incompetent”.
Although this is slightly off-topic, it bears directly on our ability to conduct land operations in the ME. And, hence, it bears heavily on our ability to bargain effectively in the ME.
Short summary: we can’t. 4 million gallons of fuel per day in Iraq. Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable. And that money, yes, to some extent ends up in the pockets of Exxon’s shareholders, but to an even larger extent it ends up in the pockets of the very people who hate us the most.
If I didn’t firmly believe in the insanity of the Bush administration, I would say that they’re trying like hell to get out. That they’re going around telling the Sunni Satraps that the party is over.
But that’s not like them. They’re too insulated from anything that resembles reality.
That’s why WEBB FOR PRESIDENT! We really need an ex-Marine in the White House to do a reality check on the ambitions of the crazies.
A Sunni-Neo-con Entente? Why not? There is a report from Juan Cole yesterday of the possibility of the Americans rehabilitating the Baathist party. It’s obvious what is needed in Iraq – a strong leader capable of enforcing peace and uniting the country and turning it into a bulwark against Iranian expansion. Now there is only one bloke who really has the CV showing he is the ideal candidate for the job – him with the black hair now shot through with grey, and bearded and from somewhere called Tikrit – er wotsisname ? – er Sodoff Hassan or something like that -unfortunately he’s in prison for the moment. Maybe we should drag him out and rehabilitate him….
Column by a Saudi in today’s WaPo says that the King faces pressure to protect Sunni brothers in Iraq.
Is this OBL’s endgame? Foment a civil war in Iraq which threatens the Sunni minority, forcing the King to interevene or be overthrown?
It’s all about the Land of the Holy Places, isn’t it?
We Americans are mere pawns in a game we can’t comprehend.
We’re the befuddled oil addicts who supply the money, the guns and some of the blood.
“I know what we can do. We can arm and train groups of particularly devout and militant young men from these Sunni-axis countries, and they can go fight a holy war against the Iranians.”
There’s a Saudi national — heir to a construction fortune — who’s been helpful doing that sort of stuff in the past. Maybe we could get him to help out again.
The irony of all this is that the neo-con plan for the road to peace in Jerusalem runs through Baghdad is true! Israel’s cheerleading of this disaster is going to cost them the West Bank and the Golan Heights. I’m sure Saudi and Jordan and Egypt are going to require some payment for helping counterbalance Iran. I doubt seriously that Mubarek is really worried about the descendants of Darius setting up an army post in Alexandria.
Do you really have to pay Egypt or the Saudi’s any currency in the form of a “peace dividend” for the Palestinians? Billions in hard cash, and regime security guarantees(with all that entails for their civil societies) seems to have worked nicely to date in face of the most monstrous Israeli and American provocations. The geostrategically worthless Palestinians seem redoubtable enough not to prick any powerful conscience. Tossing in the reduction of their feared Persian/Sunni “other” – which they need domestically – should do the trick. Not that any of this will work as planned at this late stage of the pathology. By God, Allah, and all my little pagan gods, there will always be the needed “other”, until with the cartoon wisdom of Pogo, those puppeteers, profiteers and pornographers of violence finally percieve that the other is indeed us. Of course, by then a mighty lot of “us” some very pissed off, desparate and well armed, will need decades, if not centuries to learn the same lesson.
The article in the Washington Post sounds about right for the Saudi position. They will back Sunni’s if American troops leave Iraq. Saudi Arabia will resist Iranian influence–the Saudi’s have too much to lose if Shiites dominate in the Middle East.
Can we assume that article was directed more at President Bush than it was anyone else? Bush cannot afford to alienate the Saudi’s and that in turn seals the fates of American troops in Iraq.
Now that I think about it some more…with what army is Saudi Arabia going to support Sunni’s? It is not large and what there is of it, is very undisciplined from what I’ve read. What Saudi Arabia is really saying is they will support Sunni insurgencies. But they have already have been doing precisely that.
An idle threat in order for Bush not remove the troops?
Is it time to be friendlier with Iran because they appear to be the only hope of a stabilizing influence in the Middle East? The United States would have to change their policy of unconditional support for Israel–the Persian/Arab conflict is much older and is at the root of the hostillities in the Middle East.
Sunnis and the House of Saud cannot be supported indefinitely.
Anthony Cordesman’s, assessment of the ISG Report Cordesman’s choice of title for his article sums it up, “The elephant gives birth to a mouse.”
Interesting article, Odd bedfellows: Bush woos Shi’ite leader