Training of Security Forces "Progressing"

<p><a href="http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051205/ap_on_re_mi_ea/emirates_iraq_training_troops_5;_ylt=AuQQCU6ABw3Y.LEm5y917aRX6GMA;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051205/ap_on_re_mi_ea/emirates_iraq_training_troops_5;_ylt=AuQQCU6ABw3Y.LEm5y917aRX6GMA;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Hey, he's only the Vice President - what would he know?</p>

<p>We should consider a government more on the lines of Britain or Israel so when things aren't working, we can hold a new election. Why do we have to wait another 3 years to throw Bush out?</p>

<p>I'm all for that!!! Three more years of WHAT? Oh wait...how about impeachment? I think the government is about to self destruct anyway. Well lets see..abramoff will soon bring down a lot of people, Able danger might get to testify..rove could still be implicated in Plumegate...Delay will be derailed.
Hey! This could yet be very interesting and fun...and well deserved..."as the pendulum swing"</p>

<p>Reminds me of that old Dusty Springfield song..."Wishin and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin' plannin' and dreaming each night of his charms....."</p>

<p>What we are actually doing is training the Iraqi security forces for civil war. If the troops "perform better", that will not necessarily be a plus. (But they are not going to "perform better" until the U.S. leaves in any case.)</p>

<p>The most amazing thing about the President's recently published plan for Victory in Iraq is the conspicuous absence of any references to the Shia majority political base of Ayatollah Sistani. That omission, despite endless pages of commentary on the political situation in Iraq, tells me that the "plan" is either incompetent or, more likely, intentionally deceptive.</p>

<p>The problem with an open-ended commitment by the US is that such a commitment provides a disincentive to progress in Iraq. What the heck? Why face the hard issues (civil war? coaliton governments?) as long as the US military is providing a ready target. I think that Sen. Levin probably had it right months ago: the threat of packing up and going home is the biggest incentive for the Iraqis to start getting their [stuff] together. It certainly should be an incentive for the Sunni's, who will be the clear losers if we pack up and let 'em "go at it".</p>

<p>It is very troubling that electricity production, water, and oil production has still not consistently increased since the immediate end of the initial invasion. That is a clear indication that, whatever we are doing, is not working.</p>

<p>I congratulate you on reading the darn thing. (I doubt the President has. ;))</p>

<p>
[quote]
The most amazing thing about the President's recently published plan for Victory in Iraq is the conspicuous absence of any references to the Shia majority political base of Ayatollah Sistani.

[/quote]

If the President's objective was to install a religious government or to appease specfic individuals, then your comment would make sense. Fortunately, the President is trying to foster a democracy, which is a political structure hopefully not dependent on particular individuals. Sistani has issued fatwas for iraqi clergy not to get involved in politics. He has also told his followers to vote. It is hard to see how the President is being deceptive.</p>

<p>oh, well. We will be able to now say that the next Iragi Army we destroy, were trained by us.</p>

<p>
[quote]
It is hard to see how the President is being deceptive.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>The President is being deceptive because he ignores the political landscape on the ground. The Shia majority controls the vote and/or the balance of power in a civil war.</p>

<p>A real US policy in Iraq would at least have to include an element of building a working relationship with Sistani's "people", through economic partnerships more than anything. Yet, the word Shia barely appears in the entire document.</p>

<p>I would agree with you that Sistani has been statesmanlike in his public stance since the invasion and a stabilizing force. So why is his name not mentioned in a lengthy discussion of the political landscape? Does the Bush government really think that it can prevent a Shia controlled government? Is that our policy objective?</p>

<p>Because giving control of the country to a pro-Iranian mullah (which he will achieve in any case) is hardly a cause that Americans are likely to rally around. </p>

<p>But the deal will be cut...one way or the other. (The line between "victory" and "cut and run" was erased a long time ago, so we can use whatever doublespeak we choose.)</p>

<p>Mini, </p>

<p>I'm not convinced just how "pro-Iranian" Sistani really would be. Unlike Iran where we propped up the Shah, we've done a huge favor to Sistani by removing Hussein from power and paving the way for a Shia-controlled government. I think that, and the need for a functioning economy, provides the basis for a relationship with Sistani.</p>

<p>Conversely, the fastest way to drive Sistani into an Iranian alliance is to not forge a relationship with him. As long as he's going to be running the show, we might as well put Bush's crack State Department team to work making sure that our relationship with him is mutually beneficial. Heck, give him some Haliburton stock or something.</p>

<p>I started out thinking that protecting the Sunni interests in Iraq was important. But, the longer they keep blowing up our soldiers and undermining every effort to rebuild the infrastructure and the longer our Sunni "allies" keep sending reinforcements, the less I think they warrant the effort. I bet that Sisanti's "people" could root out the "terrorisses" in fairly short order.</p>

<p>I agree with everything you wrote, but the U.S. is burning bridges fast. Shias love the idea of being "trained" by the U.S. - they get weapons, and militias organized, etc., etc. But they aren't going to fight for the U.S. Too many dead children. Chalk that one up to Clinton.</p>

<p>The longer we stay, however, the more difficult it will be to "root out the terrorists" (our former Baathist allies against Sistani). And the more likely Sistani (or whoever comes after him) will turn to the Iranians. They are already "pro-Iranian" - the only question is to what degree they will be beholden to them.</p>

<p>I'm in favor of victory, too. Hold a victory parade in Times Square.</p>

<p>Tomorrow! ;)</p>

<p>
[quote]
They are already "pro-Iranian" - the only question is to what degree they will be beholden to them.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>On one level, yes. But, I gather that Sistani and the Iranian mullahs come from two different branches of Shia thought with some rather wide differences in philosophy -- as evidenced by Sistani's reluctance to have clerics directly involved in government roles. </p>

<p>Everything I've read from Sistani indicates a somewhat pragmatic approach. If that's the case, then I doubt that he views Iran as being terribly successful in providing a higher standard of living for its people. If he were to provide the leadership to grow Iraq's economy, he could actually put a lot of pressure on the Iranians.</p>

<p>At the end of the day, it really doesn't much matter. He's going to run the show, one way or another, so we might as well make the most of it. </p>

<p>Now, if the goal for the invasion of Iraq is what I think it was all along (permanent large scale military bases), then Bush needs to start shooting straight with the American people. This fantasy of a western-style democracy isn't credible enough to continue the huge cost (in US lives and dollars).</p>

<p>" But, I gather that Sistani and the Iranian mullahs come from two different branches of Shia thought with some rather wide differences in philosophy -- as evidenced by Sistani's reluctance to have clerics directly involved in government roles."</p>

<p>Yet. (He's got all the time in the world....Took Khomeini 16 years to rid his country of the Americans (and he was in Iraq - in Najaf to be exact, where he is revered to this day - and then in Paris for the entire time.) These folks do know their history; the history looks quite different from their perspective.)</p>

<p>Sistani's form of Shi'a is more quietist than Khomeini's, but not more moderate. Indeed, Khomeini spent quite a bit of energy both communicating with the west and trying to find ways to package his ideas in ways acceptable to the west, often through his compatriot Bani-Sadr (if you want more on this, I will refer you to a book edited by yours truly - "Tell the American People: Perspectives on the Iranian Revolution, 1979, 1980). Sistani resists virtually all contacts with the West, will not meet face-to-face with Westerners, and, unlike Khomeini, considers Christians and Jews "unclean". Sistani (and his sect) are also far more puritannical in areas such as women's rights. But the main thing they have in common is an understanding that these things take time....</p>

<p>
[quote]
He's got all the time in the world....

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Depends on his goals, I suppose. If his goal is a stable situation for his constituency, then he will have to do what every politician must do: deliver the bacon (so to speak). Religious dogma only goes so far when the electricity doesn't work.</p>

<p>The great thing about the world we live in is that it is ultimately impossible for any leader to drive his or her country back to the Middle Ages economically or to cut off all intellectual thought. Not with the internet a mouse click away. It was the inability of the East Germans to hide the riches on the other side of the Wall that ultimately led to the collapse of the Iron Curtain. And, that same dynamic is also driving the process in Iran. Ultimately, any leader has to deliver the goods in this day and age.</p>

<p>Well, he knows it is only a matter of time before the Americans cut and run, ahem, declare victory, and he has the time to spare. No one (including me) would have thought that the Iranian Revolution would so successfully outlive Khomeini (and, frankly, I don't think it would have except for U.S. support for Saddam Hussein and the put-up job of a war....)</p>

<p>
[quote]
No one (including me) would have thought that the Iranian Revolution would so successfully outlive Khomeini

[/quote]
</p>

<p>I dunno. The entire region seems to really struggle with finding some middle ground between royal despots, military despots, and theocratic despots. The Shah, the Grand Ayatollah, the Crown Prince...what's the difference when it comes down to the poor Joe in the street?</p>

<p>ID, there aren't going to be any permanent American bases. At some point, our putative "allies" will politely and firmly invite us to leave. Given all our noise about Iraqi "sovereignty," and given the even bigger mess if our erstwhile "allies" are causing problems for us at the same time our various antagonists are, we'll be gone. This whole thing was fairy gold from the beginning. You got suckered.</p>

<p>Oh, and you may want to read up on the view of Sistani and our current allies regarding Israel while you're at it. Happy bedtime reading. We can say we got rid of a bad actor. We will not be able to say that we made the country "better" or the region more stable.</p>

<p>DStark, at this point, I'm looking 11 months out instead of three years. The most valuable thing that the Dems could get with control of at least one house of Congress (aside from torpedoing judicial nominations if they get the Senate) is subpoena power for Congressional committees.</p>

<p>"The Shah, the Grand Ayatollah, the Crown Prince...what's the difference when it comes down to the poor Joe in the street?"</p>

<p>Huge. Believe me. I lived there. Huge. The discussions that happen every day in the bazaar in Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz today would quickly land you in a torture cell supervised by Americans under the Shah. I am no fan of what is happening in Iran today. But the differences are massive.</p>