Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Wednesday, July 12th, 2006.

Weird Weather


I learned via Huffington Post, of all places, that this afternoon a tornado touched down very near Chez Maha. That’s quite odd in these parts. Hundreds of trees are down, the news story says, and some guy reported bricks flying around in the air.

‘Course, back home in Missouri a tornado wasn’t official until it had relocated a trailor park. I’m sure whatever went on here wouldn’t have qualified.

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Pride and Powerlessness

Bush Administration, Iraq War

In “City Of Vengeance,” Philip Robertson writes that Iraq is “accelerating toward civil war.”

Over the weekend and on Monday, July 10, Baghdad witnessed the most savage outbreak of revenge killings to date. Shiite militiamen, who witnesses claimed were members of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, set up checkpoints in the city’s al-Jihad neighborhood, inspected ID cards and killed 42 people they identified as being Sunnis. They also broke into homes and killed their inhabitants. Corpses were found in the street with drill holes and pierced by nails and bolts. These attacks, which took place after sunrise, were clearly acts of revenge for two earlier car bombings near Shiite mosques. In turn, the checkpoint killings spurred two more huge Sunni car bomb attacks in the Sadr-dominated neighborhood of Talbiyeh, killing 25 and wounding 41.

On Tuesday, violence flared again, as suicide bombers detonated bombs across the street from the heavily-guarded Green Zone in Baghdad, killing as many as 16 people. Across Iraq, about 60 were killed, including 10 Shiites who were gunned down on a bus as it left for a funeral.

The warbloggers want you to know that, somewhere in Iraq, a school is being painted.

The killings are ominously similar to the “Black Saturday” massacre in December 1975 that helped precipitate the Lebanese civil war, when Christian Phalangist militiamen stopped 40 unsuspecting Muslims at a checkpoint in Beirut and cut their throats. In retaliation, Muslim militiamen set up their own checkpoint and slaughtered Christians.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appealed for calm, but the situation is beyond his ability to control. Sunni politicians accused Iraqi police of collaborating with the attacks, and said Iraq’s two key security ministries were also infiltrated. Iraq’s deputy prime minister for security affairs, Salam al-Zobaie, told Al-Jazeera, “Interior and Defense ministries are infiltrated, and there are officials who lead brigades who are involved in this.”

When Bush says “When they stand up, we’ll stand down,” I’m not sure this is what he means.

The Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias have filled a power vacuum in Iraq. With U.S. forces and the Iraqi government unable to prevent Sunni bombings that cause mass casualties, the militia group offers a measure of protection from such attacks and a means of retribution. The rise of sectarian militias represents a sea change in Iraqi society, one marked by a steady increase in the flow of corpses to the Baghdad morgue. Statistics from the Ministry of Health show that 40 people a day, not including bomb victims, were killed during the first four months of the year. But the true numbers are likely to be higher. Not all bodies make their pilgrimage to the morgue. [emphasis added]

If there’s one thing I wish righties would realize (if such things were possible), it would be that the “coalition” is not in control in Iraq. I wrote yesterday about the calls for vengeance coming from righties for the grisly deaths and mutilation of two American soldiers. Among the several hundred reasons why that would be a bad idea is the fact that we don’t have the kind of muscle in Iraq to get away with vengeance.

The word for today, boys and girls, is impotence.

Kirk Semple writes in today’s New York Times that the three-day death toll in Baghdad alone is “well over 100.”

Riverbend writes,

The day before yesterday was catastrophic. The day began with news of the killings in Jihad Quarter. According to people who live there, black-clad militiamen drove in mid-morning and opened fire on people in the streets and even in houses. They began pulling people off the street and checking their ID cards to see if they had Sunni names or Shia names and then the Sunnis were driven away and killed. Some were executed right there in the area. The media is playing it down and claiming 37 dead but the people in the area say the number is nearer 60.

The horrific thing about the killings is that the area had been cut off for nearly two weeks by Ministry of Interior security forces and Americans. Last week, a car bomb was set off in front of a ‘Sunni’ mosque people in the area visit. The night before the massacre, a car bomb exploded in front of a Shia husseiniya in the same area. The next day was full of screaming and shooting and death for the people in the area. No one is quite sure why the Americans and the Ministry of Interior didn’t respond immediately. They just sat by, on the outskirts of the area, and let the massacre happen.

Look, righties, it’s over. It’s way over. I’m sorry this wasn’t the glorious little war you wanted, but it ain’t, and it’s never gonna be. We’ve got the rest of our lives to argue about whose fault that is. But there is absolutely no point pretending that anything remotely resembling “victory” is going to happen in Iraq, whether we stay or go.

And yes, there will be terrible consequences if we leave a power vacuum in Iraq, which will no doubt be filled by very nasty people. But it’s happening anyway. Even as our troops stand by. Even as they suffer injury and death themselves.

Rummy is in Baghdad now discussing “security.” I’ve been skimming news articles looking for fresh Rummy quotes, but this is all I’ve found so far — Kristin Roberts and Ross Colvin report for Reuters:

“A year ago, terrorism and the insurgency against the coalition and the Iraqi security forces were the principal sources of instability,” Khalilzad said on Tuesday. “Violent sectarianism is now the main challenge.”

As a result, the U.S. military is adapting its tactics to focus more on containing the sectarian violence, but Rumsfeld cautioned that the “solution is not military”.

“We’re at a point now when the security situation depends as much on the reconciliation process and on the strengthening of (government) ministries,” Rumsfeld told reporters.

And we’ve seen how well that’s going.

Maliki has offered talks with some Sunni rebels and a limited amnesty under his 24-point plan in a bid to draw Sunnis, the seat of the insurgency, closer into the political process.

Rumsfeld’s trip also comes amid growing anti-war sentiment among the U.S. public in a congressional election year. A 129,000-strong American force is serving in Iraq more than three years into the war in which about 2,500 U.S. troops have died.

The defence secretary said it was too early to talk about adjusting U.S. troop levels. “We haven’t gotten to that point.”

One wonders what “point” Rummy is waiting for. Something like this, perhaps?

I’ve also been looking for President Bush’s most recent pronouncement on Iraq. I believe it is this, spoken yesterday at a gubernatorial campaign rally in Wisconsin:

“We are not going to lose in Iraq. As a matter of fact we are going to win in Iraq so long as we stay the course”, President Bush said.

We have a course?

This same news story says that Bush’s visit was protested by about 60 nuns from the Sisters of Saint Joseph. I wish I had a picture of that.

But you know the Bushies can’t make any substantive changes to “the course” until after the November midterm elections, because the White House strategy for the GOP is to turn Iraq into a political pissing contest. As Eleanor Clift wrote last month,

Karl Rove is back in business framing the November election as a referendum on cut-and-run Democrats. …

… Moments after learning he had escaped indictment in the CIA leak investigation case, Rove told New Hampshire Republicans that Democratic critics of the war like John Kerry and John Murtha “give the green light to go to war, but when it gets tough, they fall back on that party’s old platform of cutting and running. They may be with you for the first few bullets, but they won’t be there for the last tough battles.”

It’s appalling that an administration led by chicken hawks dares to build an election strategy based on lecturing combat veterans, but it is devilishly clever, and it might work. The Swift Boat veterans destroyed Kerry in 2004; and in 2002, losing three limbs in Vietnam didn’t save Georgia Sen. Max Cleland from attacks on his patriotism. Rove told the GOP faithful that if the Democrats were in charge, Iraq would fall to the terrorists and Zarqawi would not be dead. As offensive as those words are, Rove is doing his job, which is sliming the Democrats so Republicans can cling to power on Capitol Hill. He is politicizing the war for partisan political gain, a strategy that could backfire if events on the ground in Iraq deteriorate.

Worse, it ought to be obvious to the dwindling ranks of war supporters that Karl’s pissing contest gets in the way of the tough, bipartisan decision making that we need right now — hell, three years ago — if anything positive will be salvaged from the Iraq disaster. I wonder if it has even yet occurred to BushCo that eventually they’re going to be judged not by the quality of their photo ops and talking points, but by what they have actually accomplished.

And if making Iraq the centerpiece of Republican political strategy isn’t a testament to abject and absolute failure to govern, I don’t know what is.

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Know Them by Their Fruits

criminal justice

Anna Quindlen:

Last year four countries accounted for nearly all executions worldwide: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

As my Irish grandmother used to say, you’re known by the company you keep.

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