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Juan Cole: Top Ten Myths about Iraq 2006

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Jcrowley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 11:45 AM
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Juan Cole: Top Ten Myths about Iraq 2006
Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Top Ten Myths about Iraq 2006

1. Myth number one is that the United States "can still win" in Iraq. Of course, the truth of this statement, frequently still made by William Kristol and other Neoconservatives, depends on what "winning" means. But if it means the establishment of a stable, pro-American, anti-Iranian government with an effective and even-handed army and police force in the near or even medium term, then the assertion is frankly ridiculous. The Iraqi "government" is barely functioning. The parliament was not able to meet in December because it could not attain a quorum. Many key Iraqi politicians live most of the time in London, and much of parliament is frequently abroad. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki does not control large swathes of the country, and could give few orders that had any chance of being obeyed. The US military cannot shore up this government, even with an extra division, because the government is divided against itself. Most of the major parties trying to craft legislation are also linked to militias on the streets who are killing one another. It is over with. Iraq is in for years of heavy political violence of a sort that no foreign military force can hope to stop.

<snip>

2. "US military sweeps of neighborhoods can drive the guerrillas out." The US put an extra 15,000 men into Baghdad this past summer, aiming to crush the guerrillas and stop the violence in the capital, and the number of attacks actually increased. This result comes about in part because the guerrillas are not outsiders who come in and then are forced out. The Sunni Arabs of Ghazaliya and Dora districts in the capital are the "insurgents." The US military cannot defeat the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement or "insurgency" with less than 500,000 troops, based on what we have seen in the Balkans and other such conflict situations. The US destroyed Falluja, and even it and other cities of al-Anbar province are not now safe! The US military leaders on the ground have spoken of the desirability of just withdrawing from al-Anbar to Baghdad and giving up on it. In 2003, 14 percent of Sunni Arabs thought it legitimate to attack US personnel and facilities. In August, 2006, over 70 percent did. How long before it is 100%? Winning guerrilla wars requires two victories, a military victory over the guerrillas and a winning of the hearts and minds of the general public, thus denying the guerrillas support. The US has not and is unlikely to be able to repress the guerrillas, and it is losing hearts and minds at an increasing and alarming rate. They hate us, folks. They don't want us there.

<snip>

4. "Iraq is not in a civil war," as paleo-conservative Fox commentator Bill O'Reilly insists. There is a well-established social science definition of civil war put forward by Professor J. David Singer and his colleagues: "Sustained military combat, primarily internal, resulting in at least 1,000 battle-deaths per year, pitting central government forces against an insurgent force capable of effective resistance, determined by the latter's ability to inflict upon the government forces at least 5 percent of the fatalities that the insurgents sustain." (Errol A. Henderson and J. David Singer, "Civil War in the Post-Colonial World, 1946-92," Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 37, No. 3, May 2000.)" See my article on this in Salon.com. By Singer's definition, Iraq has been in civil war since the Iraqi government was reestablished in summer of 2004. When I have been around political scientists, as at the ISA conference, I have found that scholars in that field tend to accept Singer's definition.

5. "The second Lancet study showing 600,000 excess deaths from political and criminal violence since the US invasion is somehow flawed." Les Roberts replies here to many of the objections that were raised. See also the transcript of the Kucinich-Paul Congressional hearings on the subject. Many critics refer to the numbers of dead reported in the press as counter-arguments to Roberts et al. But "passive reporting" such as news articles never captures more than a fraction of the casualties in any war. I see deaths reported in the Arabic press all the time that never show up in the English language wire services. And, a lot of towns in Iraq don't have local newspapers and many local deaths are not reported in the national newspapers.

http://www.juancole.com/2006/12/top-ten-myths-about-ira...
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NNN0LHI Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 11:48 AM
Response to Original message
1. I just don't understand why the Iraqis don't like having their doors kicked in by us?
They should feel honored we are there doing such needed work. Ingrates I tell ya. They all ingrates.

Don
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NewJeffCT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-27-06 09:29 AM
Response to Reply #1
5. No appreciation at all
They should be saying, "thank you say, may I have another?" to our troops every day.

They should be nice to us or we'll keep bringing democracy to their country.
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dave_p Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 01:06 PM
Response to Original message
2. Two Juan missed


Myth no.11: "They've been killing each other for centuries - Hey, stuff happens!"
There aren't many myths you can date to a moment in human events, but this one seems to have sprung miraculously from the ether in the dying months of 2006, a thing of wonder even in an age when the crazies have all but corraled evidence-based rationality into hushed oases amid this intellectual Dark Age. We've all been privileged to witness a truly virgin birth. Even the Wise Men never got that treatment.

Myth no.12: "We're surprised!"
No surprise, no accident. Invade a country, topple its leadership, bomb its planning ministry to rubble, allow libraries and museums to burn along with millennia of history, dissolve the national army that can alone maintain order, purge anyone with experience from the state apparatus... this isn't some beast from the abyss. It's policy. Government? No thanks, we'd rather keep those contracts coming!

This whole disaster's about policy implementation rather than policy failure. It's why so few other countries wanted to go along with it. The intention was to create a Wild West in the Arab East where none had existed since 1258. The notion that some "surge" of heightened killing's about to do anything but worsen it is just Myth no.13.
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Nothing Without Hope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 01:18 PM
Response to Original message
3. How I hope that the new Congress will listen to Juan Cole. n/t
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-27-06 08:52 AM
Response to Original message
4. Very informative article
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Prophet 451 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-27-06 09:36 AM
Response to Original message
6. Have to disagree with point 4
Under the normal definition of the term, Iraq isn't in a civil war. Wiki (I can't be bothered to dig out my encyclopaedia right now) defines a "civil war" as "a war in which parties within the same culture, society or nationality fight against each other for the control of political power" and I'm not sure Iraq qualifies for two reasons: Firstly, the attacks seem mainly directed at occupation troops or bodies, rather than at other Iraqis and secondly, while there is a nominal government, none of the warring factions seem especially interested in replacing it.

This is not to say that Iraq isn't an ever-expanding disaster of Biblical proportions or that it isn't filled with sectarian violence on a pretty much constant basis, I'm just not sure that what's happening right now in Iraq fits the technical definition of "civil war". What seems to be happening is that, while there are some elements of civil war, the main thrust seems to be about driving out the occupation. I'm not sure what that would be called but it is, if anything, even more disturbing. While a civil war might displace the government, there is usually another government waiting to take over so the political process continues. With the current situation, there seems to be little interest in replacing the government so you would end up with a state with no political body at all.
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Toots Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-27-06 09:57 AM
Response to Reply #6
7.  Firstly, the attacks seem mainly directed at occupation troops or bodies, rather than at other Iraq
Have you been paying attention at all? Over four thousand Iraqis died in December alone and almost that many in November. They were not all killed by Americans...
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Prophet 451 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-27-06 10:31 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. To be honest, no
The news from Iraq has gotten so depressing that I tend to avoid it these days. I'll concede that one. However, my second point still stands.
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elitist400 Donating Member (3 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-27-06 11:23 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. Your logic is flawed
Because there is no gov to replace the current one, it is not
a civil war? Although I think I am wasting my time replying to
your assertation because your first statement leads me to
believe you have no idea what you are talking about.  
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Prophet 451 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-27-06 01:34 PM
Response to Reply #9
16. Thank you so much
Rudeness is always a fitting response to a mild disagreement over the linguistic accuracy of exactly what a disaster should be described as.

By the definition I read, a "civil war" requires an effort to replace an existing government. So yes, by that definition, if there is no attempt to replace an existing government, it is not, technically, a civil war. It is something else instead, "complete chaos" perhaps.
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elitist400 Donating Member (3 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 12:19 PM
Response to Reply #16
23. missed my point
Edited on Fri Dec-29-06 12:23 PM by elitist400
Maybe I was short but not inaccurate.

"Firstly, the attacks seem mainly directed at occupation troops or bodies, rather than at other Iraqis and secondly, while there is a nominal government, none of the warring factions seem especially interested in replacing it." Your statement.

Coupled with your later statement of avoiding depressing news leads me to believe you have no business commenting at all. I don't want to quash your rights but come on at least have some basic knowledge of what you are talking about.

One group vying for control, of a Ministry, the local police, oil concession, or their region at the cost of national unity( ah yes the ancient state of Iraq) using wide spread mass violence as a tool could ,should and will be called a civil war by any reasonable person.

The south in our civil war wasn't fighting to replace the fed they wanted to govern themselves, so by your definition ours was not a civil war?

Uh I just read your concession-I'll shut up now.
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Skittles Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 06:15 AM
Response to Reply #9
22. HA!
SNAP!!!!!!
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ieoeja Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-27-06 11:27 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. I'm pretty certain the militias are fighting for control, not just to kill.

They may only be fighting to ultimately control their province, but that would still qualify. The CSA did not fight to control the entire USA after all in the US Civil War.


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sleepingdog Donating Member (17 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-27-06 11:52 AM
Response to Reply #10
12. Reason for fighting

The real reason for the continued fighting in Iraq (amongst Iraqis) is the hopelessness of their situation. With absolutely NO chance to have a reliable income and no hope of their govt. or ours changing that scenario - their lashing out in total frustration.
Never mind what you think YOU might do in such a hopeless situation, this is a society hardened by most of it's citizens being unable to ever recall having lived under anything but fear and repression. Most of the folks fighting and dying have only known civility at the end of a gun. What sort of animal will you forge if you keep it confined to a corner with a whip held over it? Once the whip-holder is removed, do you really expect that animal to lovingly lick your hand???
The French, the Filipinos, (even the Japs and Germans eventually)and others - greeted us as "liberators" at the end of WWII. This was, in no small part, because they could REMEMBER the relative freedom that had been snatched from them just a few years before.
The excuses of WMDs aside, we pumped up Saddam 20-some years ago and then had to take him down (or at least, FELT that we had to take him down).
Take the hopelessness we've been a party to - mix in the only hope available - salvation and reward thru religious redemption - and what do you think is gonna come out of the oven... Peace Pie???
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Prophet 451 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-27-06 01:29 PM
Response to Reply #10
14. Hadn't thought of that
You're right of course. It seems the definition of "civil war" is somewhat elastic.
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DaDeacon Donating Member (494 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-28-06 07:55 AM
Response to Reply #10
19. point of fact...
The CSA was in fact fighting to replace the Govt. in the states that had joined it. The militias in general haven't stated a platform for governing "if" they win, they do in fact seem to be killing for just control. if that's grounds for Civil War then the Gangs of LA in the late 80's & 90's did the same thing.
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ManWroteTheBible Donating Member (68 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-27-06 11:42 AM
Response to Reply #6
11. you're kidding, right, prof?
Edited on Wed Dec-27-06 11:46 AM by ManWroteTheBible
I think you may be behind the times on this one. In the beginning of the "insurgency" it was all about driving out the occupiers. Today it is for control of Iraq - or at least part of it. Maybe wikpedia ain't the best source. Maybe the word "insurgency" needs to be looked up since it's been misused in the case of Iraq from the beginning!

insurgency: insurrection against an existing government, usually one's own, by a group not recognized as having the status of a belligerent.

insurrection: an act or instance of rising in revolt, rebellion, or resistance against civil authority or an established government.

So how is there an "insurrection" if we had no legal authority to invade and occupy. There has to be a legitimate government to rebel against. What "established government" were they fighting against in the beginning? Has anyone ever explained this one? And while we're on the subject, WE (as in the United States of America) were founded after our own armed insurrection. Oh yeah... I forgot, we've become the "do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do/have-done" country.
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Prophet 451 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-27-06 01:30 PM
Response to Reply #11
15. Nope
I'm not disputing for a second that Iraq is a bloody mess, just disputing whether that mess actually counts as a "civil war" in the technical sense. Since another poster has pointed out the example of the CSA, I'll concede that it does.
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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 12:58 PM
Response to Reply #6
26. It's always been about control
To the Sunnis and Baathists, we were the image of the Shi'ites and Kurds. To the Sadr Shi'ites, we were the image of a more secular government that wouldn't be based on Sharia law. This has never been as much about Iraq being occupied as it has been about different factions vying for power and using the occupation as a recruiting tool.
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Yukari Yakumo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-27-06 01:09 PM
Response to Original message
13. Also disagree on Point 4
Mainly because Point 1 contradicts it.

There is no effective government. This isn't civil war, this is anarchy.
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Tekla West Donating Member (270 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-27-06 02:17 PM
Response to Reply #13
17. Not to get into
some big deal about vocabulary, but....

I tend to agree with the anarchy not civil war side. A civil war has clear sides, with clear goals. This is more like gang warfare, anarchy, chaos - which I think was the goal all along, which is the worst part. We did not want one side or the other to win, we wanted a war of all against all, and we are very close to that.
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elitist400 Donating Member (3 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 12:36 PM
Response to Reply #17
24. Yes but
I would bet that each side/faction has clear goals, they are just opaque to those outside.
Yes it is anarchy but in the end, whenever it comes, Iraq will split up or certain groups will dominate other groups.
Some gangs want money(war is a great time to make money) and some gangs want power (anarchy is a great time to out manoeuver the faction down the street).
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teryang Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-28-06 07:17 AM
Response to Original message
18. great article Juan-but our leaders think we are winning, not that...
Edited on Thu Dec-28-06 07:24 AM by teryang
...we will win. They are winning every day.

The invasion, occupation and destruction of Iraq is a prelude to the domination of central and southwest Asia by the ruling clique of Rhodesian corporatists in England and the US who materially profit every day from the slaughter in Iraq. Operation Barbarossa is well under way.

By dismembering Iraq and establishing permanent bases there they can project power into the trans-caucasus and Central Asia. This is why Condi Rice a scholar on Russia, previously employed by Chevron, (just as Cheney is "previously" employed by Haliburton)is actually a point person. The CFR oil/banking/defense shareholder cartel is carrying out a plan for domination of southwest and central asian resources. That plan is for control of the world.

These people are Rhodesians. Just as they dismember African governments and pick them clean of resources while unleashing genocidal campaigns they have similar designs on Asia.

The fact that this world wide campaign of aggression costs them 3 American dead soldiers a day matters nothing to them, other than that the operation is going well and is cost effective. American tax payers foot that bill, they reap only the profits.

The fact that Ethiopia and Somalia are being dismantled and the phony propaganda campaign concerning Dharfur is in full swing should cause someone to realize that the spread of anarchy outside the empire is the goal of the Rhodesian/CFR elites who then come in and take over the pipelines, wells, port facilities, airports, mines, etc. The CIA promotes civil war in the region in order to seize Sudans oil resources from China and Malaysia.

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VotingVet Donating Member (23 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-28-06 10:25 AM
Response to Reply #18
20. Rhodesian Corporatists?
I'm sorry, teryang. Some of what you say makes sense, but you bundle it all in a Larouche-ite basket that makes me wince.

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teryang Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-28-06 09:20 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. Larouche-ite?
The rich, and their proxy intelligence agencies use corporate and diplomatic structures to subvert and undermine foreign governments. It's standard tradecraft, nothing ideological, it's the old 19th Century white man's burden and mission civilization used to steal other peoples resources and real estate. The British have preyed off Asia and Africa for hundreds of years. Cecil Rhodes codified the practice. The CFR is a direct offspring of the Cecil Rhodes/UK practice of murder and war for material gain. Many of the oldest and wealthiest families in England and the US made their money the old fashioned way, they either stole it overseas at cannon point or made it deadheading opium on clipper ships.

The most authoritative sources on the subject are usually history Ph.D.s born in third world countries.

It's hard to believe that our current administration intends to subjugate the globe as best as possible, so Juan's tunnel vision over Iraq is understandable. I still feel his article is excellent and might even influence policy if we were dealing with rational and competent leaders, but the object is to rule the world.

We start civil wars, bomb the crap of countries, kill hundreds of thousands(not necessarily in that order) and then hypocritically and racistly announce that they can't take of their affairs and need us to impose order. No Lyndon Larouche about it, it's what our illustrious rulers do.

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Jcrowley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 12:44 PM
Response to Reply #21
25. I'd say
you've pretty much got a handle on it.


How we burned in the prison camps later thinking: What would things have been like if every security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive? Or, if during periods of mass arrests people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand... the Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers... and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt.

Alexander Solzhenicyn, Gulag Archipelago
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