Monday, August 29, 2005

War News for Monday, August 29, 2005 Bring em on: Three terrorists eradicated by US forces in Mosul. Bring 'em on: Brigadier General in Iraqi police force gunned down in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Bodies of two murdered Iraqis discovered in Mosul. Bring 'em on: Iraqi working for Reuters killed and his cameraman injured by US troops in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Two policemen killed and one injured checkpoint attack in Baquba. Bring 'em on: Two policemen killed and one injured after an attack on their patrol in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Three policemen found shot dead in Fallujah. Bring 'em on: Three Iraqis killed and four wounded in suicide bomb attack in Mosul. Bring 'em on: Insurgent killed in an attack by US forces in Kirkuk. Risky Business: More journalists have been killed in Iraq since the war began in March 2003 than during the 20 years of conflict in Vietnam, media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Sunday. Intriguing: Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on Sunday he would not sign a death sentence for Saddam Hussein if the former leader was convicted and said he would resign if the sentence was passed. Bush pisses off a select group of ummmmm 850,000,000 people:
Shiites account for less than 15 percent of the 1 billion Muslims around the world. But they make up an estimated 60 percent of Iraq's estimated 27 million people, although Sunnis dominated the country under Saddam and earlier regimes. While Sunnis account for only 20 percent of Iraq's population, they are in a strong position to derail the constitution if they wish. If two-thirds of voters in any three provinces reject the charter in the October referendum, the constitution will be defeated. Sunnis have the majority in at least four provinces.
Bush says "We're making progress and building a new Iraqi army." It's a pity they have no real weapons. Sunni look to UN and Arab League:
Sunni Arab negotiators in a joint statement today rejected the Iraqi draft constitution and asked the United Nations and Arab League to intervene. The declaration was the first joint statement by the 15-member Sunni panel following the announcement by the Shiite-led government that the charter was complete and ready to go to the voters in a referendum October 15. Several individual members of the Sunni panel had said earlier that they rejected the document over issues including federalism, Iraq’s identity and references to Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-dominated Baath party.
Yeah, I can just see John Bolton thumping the desk screaming: "Nyet, Nyet!"
Not just the Sunni who oppose the Constitution:
Sunnis and supporters of firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have said they will rally supporters to reject the constitution in October's national referendum. Together the groups might convince two-thirds of voters in three provinces to vote down the document, prompting new elections for a national assembly that will draft another charter. A new vote would give both parties a chance to regain influence they lost when they boycotted last January's elections, leaving former exiled Shiite political parties and Kurds with a stronger hand. While both groups have widely different visions for Iraq, both oppose federalism, which allows semiautonomous regions to spring up across the country.
Just a point, I wish the CSM wouldn't label Sadr as a firebrand; I think the Crawford Coward deserves that title.
Opinion and Commentary
I am so pissed off with the MSM bar some small number of exceptions (see yesterday's post), that I decided to concentrate this section of my post on the blogosphere; it's refreshing; and after reading so depressing.
Helena on Weeniness of the Democrats:
I well recalled the extreme weeniness of the Dems in the lead-up to the 2002 midterm elections, when they were easily stampeded by the Bushies into signing off on a carte-blanche resolution that empowered the Prez to invade Iraq whenever he wanted to. But why should these same Democratic leaders seem so afraid, now, to step forward quite frankly and say "I was misled back in October 2002"? Surely, the fact that they were all, actively and intentionally misled at the time into believeing various things about Iraq that turned out not to be true-- and that were known at the time by many in the administration to be a lot less true than they were being portrayed as being-- should be part of the indictment against this extremely deceptive and hypocritical administration? It need not reflect (too) badly on a person who's only a Senator or a member of the House of Representatives if she or he did not know all the truth at the time about, oh, Saddam Hussein's relationship with Osama Bin Laden, or the state of Iraq'sWMD programs... Especially given that all those people in Congress-- like all the rest of us-- were being actively lied to about those issues by the administration, and had relatively little access to any "independent" sources of information. So someone, please tell me. What's wrong with Senators Joe Biden, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton; Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of them that they can't stand up and say: "We were misled; and you people in the Bush administration were leading the network of people who misled us!" Why can't they say that? ... Anyone?
Billmon on the Philadelphia Experiment:
I don't doubt there were many smoke-filled back rooms in the taverns of Philadelphia that fateful summer, but in Baghdad this summer there was hardly anything else. And if anyone had tried imitating James Madison's copious notetaking at those sessions -- so that at least history would know how Iraq was dismembered -- he probably would have wound up at the bottom of the Tigris. And what would America's founders have made of political negotiations so rigidly divided along sectarian lines? Would there have been a Great Compromise in Philadelphia if every question had split the Episcopalians from the Methodists, or the Anglo-Saxons from the Celts? Their ancestors had already been through that kind of constitutional process -- the English Civil War. It's also hard to picture the delegates in Philadelphia waiting around while the more devout among them ran proposed deals by their church elders to see if they passed religious muster, or fighting a knock-down, drag-out battle over whether the Bible should be cited as "a" primary legal source or "the" primary legal source -- not unless a time machine carried the leaders of the last Justice Sunday rally back 218 years and dropped them off at the corner of Third and Chesnut. Obviously, I could go on and on about the absurdity of Shrub's claim -- even more absurd, in its own way, than when Ronald Reagan called the Nicaraguan contras the "moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers." The contras, at least, weren't fighting to establish an Islamic theocracy. But even taking the analogy at face value, the objectives sought by the dominant parties in Iraq are the opposite -- in almost every way -- of those pursued by the majority of the delegates in Philadelphia. Our framers sought a solution to the seemingly intractable problems of a weak, decentralized confederacy of semi-independent states: precisely the kind of government the ruling coalition of Kurds and Shi'a Islamists now want to create in Iraq, with the apparent blessing of the Cheney administration. What the American founders feared most -- the decomposition of the union into three or four mutually hostile regional confederacies -- is now the official goal of U.S. policy. This is being obscured by the usual Orwellian abuse of the English language. In Iraq, we're told, the draft constitution stands for "federalism" -- the devolution of certain sovereign powers to local jurisdictions. But the essence of American federalism was the creation of a central government with both the legal rights and the revenues to enforce its will in matters deemed of vital national interest: war and peace, commerce and trade, and, most relevant in the present context, the disposition of western lands -- the 18th century American equivalent of Iraq's oil resources. (Even the original Articles of Confederation gave the national government exclusive control over those lands.)
Robert Fisk:
But hold on a moment, I say to myself again. The 7 July bombings would be a comparatively quiet day in Baghdad. Was I not at the site of the an-Nahda bus station bombings after 43 civilians - as innocent, their lives just as precious as those of Londoners - were torn to pieces last week. At the al-Kindi hospital, relatives had a problem identifying the dead. Heads were placed next to the wrong torsos, feet next to the wrong legs. A problem there. But there came not a groan from England. We were still locked into our 7 July trauma. No detectives are snooping around the an-Nahda bomb site looking for clues. They're already four suicide bombs later. An-Nahda is history. And it dawns on me, sitting on my balcony over the Mediterranean at the end of this week, that we take far too much for granted. We like to have little disconnects in our lives. Maybe this is the fault of daily journalism - where we encapsulate the world every 24 hours, then sleep on it and start a new history the next day in which we fail totally to realise that the narrative did not begin before last night's deadline but weeks, months, years ago. For it is a fact, is it not, that if "we" had not invaded Iraq in 2003, those 43 Iraqis would not have been pulverised by those three bombs last week. And it is surely a fact that, had we not invaded Iraq, the 7 July bombs would not have gone off (and I am ignoring Lord Blair's piffle about "evil ideologies"). In which case the Pope would not last week have been lecturing German Muslims on the evils of "terrorism".
Caesarian Section:
So they had the ceremony, and the drafting committee (minus Sunni Arab members) presented the final draft of the permanent Iraqi constitution to parliament on Sunday. But parliament did not vote on it. The Sunni Arabs did not attend. Parliament has abdicated its responsibilities toward the constitution and put it in the lap of the October 15 national referendum. Al-Hayat aptly said that the Iraqi constitution has been delivered by caesarian section. It was plucked from the womb of the drafting committee before the latter could give birth to it naturally. Sunni negotiator Salih Mutlak called it "a minefield." Al-Hayat: Another member of the drafting committee, Sunni politician Abd al-Nasir al-Janabi, called for international intervention to prevent its being passed into law. He particularly asked for the Arab League and the United Nations to intervene. The Sunni Arab delegates noted that they were promised that the constitution drafting process would be based on consensus, and that this pledge had been the precondition for their involvement in it last June. On Sunday the Shiites and the Kurds reneged dramatically on that promise. Husain al-Falluji said that this constitution contains the seeds of Iraq's bloody partition, something, he said, that would "serve American interests."


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