Re: On Second Thought

1

I hereby dub John McCain as the ToW--Troll of War.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 5:29 AM
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I wonder what Doug Feith and Judith Miller think about recent developments? Oh wait, Politico and Fox have indulged me in that.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 5:32 AM
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In fairness to McCain, he did say the US should stay for a hundred years. On that timescale things might look different when we pulled out. Admittedly keeping the peace would probably require reinstating the draft, but surely it's worth it to bring democracy, whiskey, sexy to the dusky heathens.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 5:32 AM
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It is written that every 12 years we shall invade Iraq. Because Babylonian math.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 5:35 AM
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If Obama manages to avoid being hustled into intervening militarily in this snafu, he will rise massively in my estimation.

If Rouhani manages to avoid being hustled into intervening militarily in this snafu, he will rise massively in my estimation. Damn, too late.

Horrible though the situation is, I think we need to bear in mind that there is absolutely no principled reason on earth to defend Sykes-Picot, and if Iraq, Syria and indeed Lebanon cease to exist in their present form that isn't necessarily a bad thing. And that should be understood separately from our judgment of whatever regimes may arise from the ashes.

The best thing to do at the moment is donate to the refugee support effort.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 6:00 AM
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I think even absent the invasion the way Saddam ruled Iraq made a civil war at some point a high risk.


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 6:12 AM
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I heard some blood-stained Bush administration functionary on NPR talking to Steve Inskeep, who *literally* said, "Well, people can argue about whether 2003 was a mistake -- although we invaded because we shared the common belief that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction -- but the immediate cause was Obama's reckless decision in 2011 to withdraw all troops." At which point I turned off the car radio lest my rage blind me and cause an accident.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 6:18 AM
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5.3: True, up to a point. If the alternative to Sykes-Picot borders is a Sunni state carved out of Syria and Iraq ruled by ISIS I think perhaps the shitty borders are worth defending. ISIS is nasty enough to have been thrown out of core Al Qaeda for going overboard in their killing of civilians, and even if they weren't as nasty as that they'd still be down with things like stoning women for getting raped and all the other lovely things Taliban-style rule brings with it.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 6:20 AM
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Oh, for that brief shining moment!

This has been a tough war for commentators on the American left. To hope for defeat meant cheering for Saddam Hussein. To hope for victory meant cheering for President Bush. The toppling of Mr. Hussein, or at least a statue of him, has made their arguments even harder to defend.
...
Last week, with the much criticized war plan suddenly looking brilliant,
...
The winding down of the war may allow the resumption of a deeper discussion about the war's objectives, one that writers can address without being labeled unpatriotic.
Laydeez and gentlemenz... the New York Times.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 6:25 AM
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Maybe if someone had assassinated Saddam in 1977 Iraq would be Tunisia with oil now. Or not. They were doing pretty well before he took over completely and started the war with Iran.


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 6:25 AM
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It's funny how you always write Saddam, not Hussein. It sort of reasonable, since Hussein is a patronymic rather than a family name, but I don't know how many pundits know what a patronymic is.


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 6:27 AM
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Uday and Qusay turned it into a family name, anyway.


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 6:29 AM
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8 Worth defending, yes. And yet not worth the bones of a single Nebraska farm kid.

Nor worth sending drones, and inviting underwear bombers in retaliation.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 6:29 AM
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I don't really feel like writing invoices right now.


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 6:30 AM
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ISIS is nasty enough to have been thrown out of core Al Qaeda for going overboard in their killing of civilians

Not that ISIS isn't terrible - and not that I know anything about it - but I got to wonder to what state the above statement is propaganda.

I can think of all sorts of reason's Al Qaeda would have broken an alliance with another group, but "concern for civilians" doesn't strike me as high on the list. On the other hand, as an explanation for public consumption, it certainly does fit nicely into a narrative that both Al Qaeda and pro-Iraq interventionists would like to promote.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 6:34 AM
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8. Yeah but, no but. If the outside world, which in this instance means the US, Iran, possibly Britain and probably Turkey, see their objective in fighting back against ISIS as cramming Arabic speaking (ie. not Kurdish) Sunnis in Mesopotamia back into the al-Maliki state, and Syrian Sunnis back into the Assad state, then they'll at best bottle up the resentment that gives the extremists the air they breathe, and this will be wash, rinse repeat forever.

I don't know how to get from A to B at this point, but B has to include a level of self determination for the peoples of western Asia which says, "Bollocks to the former interests of no longer extant empires in 1919" and concentrates on the here and now. This will be hard, but the alternative would ultimately be harder.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 6:37 AM
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Also, what Charley says at 13, but that's a different argument.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 6:43 AM
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This is a good article about the split: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/140786/barak-mendelsohn/after-disowning-isis-al-qaeda-is-back-on-top


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 6:48 AM
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even absent the invasion the way Saddam ruled Iraq made a civil war at some point a high risk

The borders as drawn made civil war a high risk. The way Saddam ruled Iraq was quite possibly the only way to quash that civil war. That's not to excuse his regime, but it was more a symptom of Iraq's problems than a cause.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 7:00 AM
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13: Certainly boots on the ground intervention would be a stupid thing of the highest order. I'm not so sure that drone strikes in support of giving the Maliki government a chance to get it's act together is necessarily a bad thing. One certainly hopes they've learned a lesson about being shits to the Sunni. If not, partition seems inevitable and it will be bloody for sure. Even so, not having ISIS holding significant chunks of predominantly Shiiite territory seems a good thing. They've made it clear that Shia can look forward to a horrible time under their rule.

16I don't know how to get from A to B at this point, but B has to include a level of self determination for the peoples of western Asia...

This I agree with, especially the "I don't know" bit. I'm quite confused about the best course of action, but very concerned about ISIS getting control of a bunch of people and being utterly horrible to them. Maybe the long term solution is simply to let things unfold as they will and hope that in a few generations things will shake out. That leaves an awful lot of people horribly fucked, though.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 7:05 AM
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I thought it was mildly demeaning that they said Saddam, until I heard that his 2002 election slogans called him "Saddam" too.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 7:32 AM
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Two places I have been getting info

Sic Semper Tyrannis ...post on the Sunni coalition; not all ISIL* also local militias and returning Baathists

Juan Cole ...the second map down has been obsessing me

1) This is good for the Kurds!

2) Gulf States have been financing ISIL, besides the material that the US has been sending the moderates that has been slipping through. An important question is how long and how far* SA, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait etc are willing to go to get Sunni hegemony over the Levant. They are in it to win, whatever it takes. Oil Embargo? Another 9/11?

(Israel is only a player to the extent AIPAC influences a side. I have always said that Carlyle and Gulf money was much more important. Turkey is a mess, but marginally on the Gulf side.)

*Probably a better translation or more accurate is "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant"

Wiki:"The Levant today consists of the island of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and part of southern Turkey (the former Aleppo Vilayet)."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 7:34 AM
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It's for the people of Mosul, Falluja and the rest to drive ISIS out.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Ew5WJSPZumM/U5rjKC1NaRI/AAAAAAAAAUc/Z0BHX1l3r5M/s1600/iraq+map.jpg

I don't see any reason to believe that a drone campaign would work, but if Iran wants to try it, I don't see any reason to oppose that.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 7:36 AM
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1) Take it back:Israel and Turkey are players in Ukraine.

2) IIRC, China is now Iraq's biggest oil customer. Do the Global hawkaholes in DC want to fuck with China now? Especially since they seem to be allying with Russia?

3) Just picked up a book:"China's New Continent" apparently sending millions to Africa as settlers on newly bought land, managers, etc.

4) This is a global game, a possible re-alignment of new regional hegemons, BRICs + ME, meaning Gulf oilarchies. The last restructuring occurred mostly before WW I.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 7:50 AM
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The only separatists in Iraq are the Kurds.


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 7:56 AM
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7: I heard part of an interview with Rumsfeld (he has a book out!) yesterday on Marketplace. The host was treating him with a gratifying amount of contempt. Not as much as he deserves but a shocking amount coming from an NPR host.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 8:09 AM
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I heard that too. It was on Marketplace (technically PRI, not NPR). That's a show which usually drives me crazy. The host asked him if he ever thinks about offering an apology like McNamara did. Rumsfeld's answer: Nope.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 8:30 AM
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NPR reported this morning that ISIS is making a big push to sell itself as a force for good governance in the places it is occupying, which makes sense if they are trying to build a nation. They also might have more success at nation building than we did because they will not be trying to tie together diverse religious and ethnic groups and will be drawing the borders around existing social divisions.

NPR also said that people in the conquered territory fear American airstrikes more than ISIS, which also says that ISIS is on its way to winning hearts and minds.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 8:43 AM
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It took McNamara over 30 years from involvement to apology, and if it takes Rumsfeld that long, he'll have to live to 100.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 8:47 AM
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if it takes Rumsfeld that long, he'll have to live to 100.

I don't think Rumsfeld has enough horcruxes. He's not Cheney.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 8:51 AM
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Yeah but you get a horcrux for every person's death you're responsible for so Rummy might get to see the heat death of the universe.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 8:58 AM
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I'm so glad that they seem to be going with ISIL instead of ISIS because I seriously was not getting over the Archer reference, it was all I could think about. It's also amazing how "seemingly out of nowhere religious army sweeps out of desert into Mesopotamia" is a pretty consistent story line since the eighth century.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 9:04 AM
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Huh, didn't notice that change happening. It looks like al-Sham is a vague word that can mean the Levant, or Syria, or even just Damascus.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 9:16 AM
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In classical Arabic it basically means "north," literally everything on left as you're facing east (and are located in the Hijaz, natch).


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 9:21 AM
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on left s/b on your left


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 9:21 AM
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35 was me, obviously.

So maybe we can convince Putin they have designs on the Caucasus.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 9:26 AM
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32 I'm so glad that they seem to be going with ISIL instead of ISIS because I seriously was not getting over the Archer reference, it was all I could think about.

This gets it exactly right.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 9:26 AM
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What Archer reference?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 9:42 AM
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1. ISIL wouldn't be succeeding without the cooperation of the (Sunni) locals. The narrative that ISIL is a bunch of mad-dog terrorists too insane for al Qaeda doesn't seem to be shared by the folks there.

2. togolish expresses a potential preference for

giving the Maliki government a chance to get it's act together

But that seems almost self-refuting. Not as bad as saying that we shouldn't have withdrawn in 2011 to give Maliki a chance to get his act together, but still ... What more chance can the guy get than what he's been given?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 9:48 AM
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FDL says let China fix it.

This is the shit that happens with inequality and global oligarchy, the motherfuckers like to play with armies.

There are just too many out there people who can offer a Ukrainian a billion dollars or a ISIL 10 billion dollars without breaking a sweat, and then their bridge partner can offer the other side a few billion dollars and let's start a show. Gulf just threw away around 10 billion breaking Cyprus banks to fuck the Russians.

I was wondering yesterday if the Gulf could come up with a fucking trillion dollars in table stakes. I think SA has a SWF approaching 300-400 billion.

And if someone offered me a billion and I was 30-40 no telling what I might try.

No when there is this much cash floating around there is no longer any local politics.* Nostromo. Poor Iraq. They will not rest in your lifetime.

Plutocracy gets rich enough (positive tech shock) they will move up from small poor playing fields to big countries.

*A case can be made that Bush invaded Iraq because he could borrow the money to do it.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 10:21 AM
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The real winner here is Juan Cole. I went from checking his site once every few months to several times a day. Notice that he redesigned it as a general new aggregator shortly before current events. Clearly he's the mastermind behind ISIS.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 10:21 AM
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39.1: And apparently some Kurds too.

(I can't believe I'm still reading the NYT on Iraq for anything other than the breakingest of news.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 10:24 AM
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38: and now I hear the anguished cry arise from Mosul: "oh nooooauh" having just spent the day in Newcastle.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 10:39 AM
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||

And all that shit keeps all this shit out of the limelight.

|>


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 10:41 AM
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So what ogged is suggesting is that we help out Maliki with air support so he can do to the Sunnis like Saddam did to the Shiites and Kurds and establish a more hardline, more Shiite dominated version of the current state.

The only separatists in Iraq are the Kurds.

If that's the case then the Sunnis will lose. It's one thing winning against heavily Sunni government security forces in overwhelmingly Sunni Arab areas, it's another winning against all Shiite/Kurd forces in heavily or overwhelmingly Shiite/Kurd areas. And Sunni Arabs represent 15-20% of the population of the state.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 12:40 PM
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Haven't the Sunnis and Shiites become a lot more separate geographically over the past 10 years? Depending how far that's gone, a military stalemate could lead to a de facto partition (although of course Baghdad would be about as hard to partition as Brussels).


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 12:47 PM
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The map Charley links to in 23 is very helpful.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 12:57 PM
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ISIL (in its various guises) have several times over the years taken over cities with the help of the local population, alienated them by being murderous reactionary fanatics, and been kicked out. That was what the Anbar Awakening was about.


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 1:00 PM
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I think that absent US intervention that's the most likely scenario. Which means you really don't want to be a Sunni in most of Baghdad, the Sunni bit just south of Baghdad, or the areas east of the city.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 1:01 PM
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ogged says in the OP that he's linking to the interview with Dick Cheney again, but I don't recall having seen that interview before. More fool me. Cheney actually comes across as not stupid or an asshole.

I would like for all media outlets to air those words now, and ask the current war hawks what they have to say about it.

Putting in another vote for Juan Cole as the best source of thought and information on this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 1:09 PM
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Peter Beaumont, who knows a lot about those parts, tweeted a couple of days ago, when all the speculation was of an Isis march on Baghdad, that the losers in all this would be the Sunni Iraqis and that seems right. They lost the first round of the civil war. If it starts up again they'll lose again.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 1:15 PM
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It's for the people of Mosul, Falluja and the rest to drive ISIS out.

I am on the do-nothing side, as the last 13 years have pretty much extinguished the last of my internationalist do-something instincts. However, "ISIS" here really means "ISIS + the regional-or--even-international powers who have an interest in ISIS winning", right?

It doesn't really change me from the do-nothing position, but it does change the do-nothing position from a principled "let local groups sort out how they want to re-draw the 1920 map" to a more depressing "let other powers have a free reign in supporting their favored local groups and re-drawing the 1920 map in there own neo-colonial interest".


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 1:33 PM
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What I was getting at was roughly what's explained in 48. I'd guess that once local Sunni tribal leaders turn against ISIL, all the sponsorship in the world isn't going to make a difference. We're not uniquely incompetent as a superpower: it's really hard to hold hostile territory, especially where there's really no benefit.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 1:46 PM
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Some sectarian demographic maps of greater Baghdad: Baghdad back in 2003 and Baghdad in 2008/9 after the sectarian fighting had reshaped the map. The Sunnis got pushed out of most of the area east of the river, as well as the northwest and southwest.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 2:43 PM
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I guess I've come around to the notion that we ought to be going around to the Gulf states, SA, and whoever else is funding ISIL and see if we can get them to cut it out. I'd be down for playing some pretty hard ball -- but outside the public eye.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 3:52 PM
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Qatar's going to be pissed when its World Cup gets revoked. Not sure they will be in any mood to listen to the West's "don't fund our enemies" shtick.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 5:58 PM
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I was at a conference for the last 3 days and away from the computer all day today. I just logged on to Twitter and I swear that when I saw a reference to Obama sending a ship to the Gulf I honestly thought it was a (not at all funny) joke.

I cannot, cannot believe we are in this situation again. I cannot.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 6:12 PM
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I was at a conference for the last 3 days and away from the computer all day today. I just logged on to Twitter and I swear that when I saw a reference to Obama sending a ship to the Gulf I honestly thought it was a (not at all funny) joke.

I cannot, cannot believe we are in this situation again. I cannot.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 6:12 PM
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Wait, what situation does Obama sending a carrier to the persian gulf entail?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 7:40 PM
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59: saturday


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 7:43 PM
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Meanwhile, Tony thinks this is due to a insufficient number of invasions.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 8:18 PM
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All I can say is, I'm glad that shit's not my problem.


Posted by: Saddam Hussein | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 10:15 PM
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I'm surprised you can say anything at all.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 10:27 PM
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Was it my imagination, that I read somewhere that internally Cheney supported invading Iraq in 1991, and the OP video was just him being public-facing?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-14-14 10:45 PM
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On the OP , this is only making Saddam look good to people who have forgotten him starting an eight year trench war that killed 1.5 million people, plus two other smaller related wars.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-15-14 12:48 AM
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On the OP , this is only making Saddam look good to people who have forgotten him starting an eight year trench war that killed 1.5 million people, plus two other smaller related wars.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-15-14 12:48 AM
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Kind of surprising that an Iranian would have forgotten that, actually.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-15-14 12:51 AM
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Maybe Ogged really is Mexican.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-15-14 1:02 AM
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Nah, if he were he would have been much less shocked by the isolation of rural New Mexico.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-15-14 1:07 AM
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Racist. Mexico has urban areas too.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-15-14 1:13 AM
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I don't think urban Mexicans are the ones who tend to end up in the US, though. Except those from Tijuana and Juarez, I guess.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-15-14 1:21 AM
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OT: Flight delays? On the eve of an airline strike? You're not making any sense! You're babbling. You're hysterical, Gatwick Airport!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-15-14 3:15 AM
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I'm just outsourcing my comments on this to CharleyCarp. Also, Cole really is doing a fine job.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-15-14 3:56 AM
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What's our humanitarianism doing under their sand?!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-15-14 9:06 AM
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67: maybe this shows he's fully assimilated. Can't expect him to know about stuff that happened thirty years ago in Abroad.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-15-14 1:40 PM
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Something about this post has made me depressed to the point of nausea. I don't know why -- it's not that it's surprising or anything that having seen this coming long, long, long in advance didn't get anyone anything or do any good. Just that the Iraq War is really over, and we're done, and it turned out exactly the way everyone with any sense thought it would, and that remembering history apparently isn't an exemption from having to repeat it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 2:53 PM
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It's ok, LB, I don't think we actually have the tech to reanimate Saddam.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 2:55 PM
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Dick Cheney, on the other hand...


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 2:56 PM
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It's something about how ISIS and the breakdown of Iraq proves we were right. As if winning an argument about whether the war was a good idea gets anyone anything or does any good at all in the world.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 2:59 PM
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Does anyone here know, is ISIS supported by the Saudis or the Qataris? Which weapons are they fighting with, American, Russian, something else?

I would like to try to follow the money on their backers as much as possible.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 3:06 PM
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Dick Cheney doesn't need tech to reanimate Saddam. He could do it with sheer malice.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 3:12 PM
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80: The Penn State boosters decided to try and support something a bit less evil.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 3:16 PM
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80: Probably some Saudi, but they've held most of Syria's fairly small oil industry for some time, supposedly taking a payoff from the regime to let them keep exporting oil as well as selling it locally. That's a pretty decent revenue stream in itself. Now they've ripped off the northern regional branch of the Iraqi central bank.

Weapons? nothing but old Soviet kit. of course the US paid Viktor Bout to fly even more ex-Soviet stock into Iraq as if there was a shortage and nobody knows where it ended up.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 3:17 PM
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I meant that Cheney had already been reanimated.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 3:17 PM
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Thanks! Any tips for sources who write intelligibly about this?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 3:19 PM
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