Sunday, December 31, 2006


The Hanging And The Reality

Steve Gilliard posts the Financial Times' description of the events surreptitiously captured on cell phone in Baghdad the other day, and notes that the guards and others present chanted pro-Sadr slogans before and after they killed him. Not pro-Iraq slogans. Not pro-Hakim slogans. Pro-Sadr slogans. The NYT (via the Strib) chimes in, echoing Steve's comments:

It was supposed to be a formal and solemn proceeding carried out by a dispassionate state. But the grainy recording summed up what has become increasingly clear in Baghdad: that the Shiite-led government that has assumed power is running the state with undisguised sectarian brutality. The hanging was hasty. Laws governing its timing were bypassed, and the guards charged with keeping order in the execution chamber instead disrupted it, shouting Shiite militia slogans. It was a degrading end for a vicious leader and an ominous beginning for the new Iraq. The Bush administration has already scaled back its hopes for building a democracy. But as the Iraqi government has become ever more set on protecting its constituency, often at the exclusion of the Sunni minority, the goal of stopping a sectarian war seems to be slipping out of reach.

I can almost see the Steve Bell cartoon: a rope substituted for the tongue of a bell, and Saddam Hussein swinging from it, as balaclava-clad men with automatic weapons peal in a Happy New Year. Bush and his poodle applaud in the background.


I have a suspicion that the death squads were recruited from Sadr's people.

At first, the US declared Sadr persona non grata and declared war on him and then abruptly reversed course/ Not too long thereafter, Negroponte went to Iraq, and not too long after that, death squads started to emerge.

It's all speculation, but it is worthy of the Congress's attention to learn how death squads did emerge.
The problem is that such speculation implies that Bush and the PNAC Platoon actually had a plan beyond "remove Saddam and install a new Saddam that will allow us to keep the new military bases we've just created." When the plan fell apart, as everyone with a brain knew it would, BushCo just sat in place and did nothing aside from funnel more people into the meat grinder and more government money to private contractors and campaign donors under the pretext of "reconstruction".
Well, the dealings with Sadr started about a year or 18 months after the invasion, PW, long after it was clear that the original plan had collapsed, and The Next Plan was the Get Us Through The Election Plan.

From May, 2005:

In the greatest irony, U.S. forces have reached a pact with elements of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army to have them hunt down insurgents. This is the same militia that U.S. forces fought in lopsided battles last year during which U.S. massive firepower devastated much of Sadr City in Baghdad and Najaf’s old city and killed thousands of Iraqis.]

Now, this author links the death squads to a militia led by General Adnan Thabit, and it would seem to have links to Allawi, a rival of Sadr's. It's very murky, and I am not sure whether the US is fighting al Sadr or using him.
The problem is, Charles, that "using" Sadr would bespeak a level of planning and strategic skill beyond that of which Bush or his advisers are capable -- though they're so stupid they don't even realize just how stupid they are.

They are very mediocre people who have created a situation -- caught between the Saudi Sunnis and the Shia that make up the majority of Iraqis -- that a battalion of geniuses couldn't undo. But they are not geniuses, they're just crooked, and the only reason they've got this far was that they came awfully close to buying off, buying up or frightening off any sort of oversight.

They careen blindly from one catastrophe to the next, not caring so long as it's not their bottom line that's affected. Anyone, even members of their own clique (such as Thomas "Enron" White) who dares contradict them is summarily removed from his or her post.

We're talking about people who thought they could take and hold Iraq with 50,000 troops, and had to be begged to take in over 100,000 -- and this was after the 1999 Desert Crossing exercise showed that 400,000 troops probably wouldn't have sufficed to take and hold Iraq.

We're talking about people so addicted to hearing what they wanted to hear -- and ONLY what they wanted to hear -- that they blew off the CIA and the DIA and the FBI to create their own "Office of Special Plans", which was devoted to gathering up those bits of intel, vetted or not, that they felt could be used to shore up their world view.

They have one main goal now: Not leaving so long as Bush is in the White House. (They'd also like to keep the bases, but even they must know that when we leave, we're leaving those behind as well.) Leaving is losing, and there's almost no limit to the number of other people's deaths they're willing to cause in order to keep from "losing".

I expect that it's going to take Sadr's forces overrunning the Green Zone to make Bush pull out. And maybe not even then. By which time Congressional Republicans will be joining Democrats in putting forth articles of impeachment.
I certainly cannot argue the case that Bushco planned anything, PW, though Riverbend has:

The cracks slowly begin to multiply and stretch across the once solid piece of earth, reaching out towards its edges like so many skeletal hands. And you apply pressure. You surround it from all sides and push and pull. Slowly, but surely, it begins coming apart- a chip here, a chunk there.

That is Iraq right now. The Americans have done a fine job of working to break it apart. This last year has nearly everyone convinced that that was the plan right from the start. There were too many blunders for them to actually have been, simply, blunders. The 'mistakes' were too catastrophic. The people the Bush administration chose to support and promote were openly and publicly terrible- from the conman and embezzler Chalabi, to the terrorist Jaffari, to the militia man Maliki. The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional.

But I actually don't agree with her. The mistakes were precisely the mistakes of the delusional, the drunk on hubris, the real-life Bluto, the underachiever promoted as improbably as Chauncey Gardiner to near-god status.

All I am saying is that my guess is that Bush thinks Sadr is on his side.
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