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July 10, 2006


The Republicans scripted by Karl Rove will NEVER run out of alternative narratives. They'll continue right through the elections in November and then exult in still another victory because that solid base of 35-40 percent of brain dead Americans will decide that staying the course is the only thing that will keep their sorry asses from being blown up over here. Better that people get blown up over there. The spectacle overall is nauseating: Fascist swine write the script. And the pants-pissers recite it.

Peter Galbraith suggests splitting Iraq into three religious/ethnic states. Are any politicians daring to say it? Should they be?

It's a tough sell, 'pockets... explain how to divide Kirkuk. if you can sell that, it's a step forward.

Dividing a country has its own problems. Look at Israel/Palestine and also India/Pakistan. There is a huge emotional toll to people who are uprooted. In a country like Iraq there will be winners/losers of the oil revenues. And partition does not resolve any problems.

Something I wrote in my days as a frontpager at Daily Kos:

Could the resistance to American occupation, like the Lebanese resistance to the Israeli invasion in 1982, be taking place amid a (burgeoning) civil war?

There is no doubt that many Iraqis want the U.S. out of their country. But what do they want to replace American and British control? If a particular group were to take responsibility for an attack, it could raise the specter of one faction--Kurds or Sunni Arabs for instance--seeking advantage over other factions, which in turn could depress support for attacks within other regions of the country. But if Sunni Islamists with ties to Al Queda are behind the attacks, they might not want to advertise their allegiances for fear that local populations in the Shia or Kurd areas might restrain themselves from attacking the Americans and let the Americans fight factions who will be their rivals after an American withdrawal.

In any event, whoever is attacking the U.S. troops not only hasn't claimed responsibility for the attacks, they haven't claimed to be leading a movement with popular support for a vision of government once they drive foreign troops from Iraq. Until some group begins to claim to speak for Iraqis, we are left to wonder not only who is attacking our troops, but also whether and which factions are using the attacks to position themselves to gain dominance over post-occupation Iraq.

I wrote that in November of 2003.

I'll need to read Galbraith's book to know if he's got any solutions. But I think it's naive to expect anyone to come up with a solution that doesn't have any problems with it. The question is whether it would be better than the current path.

I think another Israel/Palestine or India/Pakistan situation sounds preferable to the news in the papers today. Doesn't it? As for Kirkuk, way beyond my knowledge -- what do you think? How about a giant wall running through the middle of it, dividing it into East Kirkuk and West Kirkuk? Or just give it to one group and let the others be pissed, like with Jerusalem.

I'm just saying is it worth bringing the idea into the debate as an alternative to "cut and run" vs. "stay the course", not as an infallible win-win for everyone? Or are the downsides with it, even though they've been solved (if problematically) elsewhere, uniquely deal-killers in this situation? Or are we just not willing to admit Iraq is going to be unstable for decades to come, and that what we need is a solution that minimizes the violence, even if we can't establish a single peaceful democracy?

(Again, it would help the discussion if I'd read Galbraith's book rather than just the fluffy Q&A in the times magazine.)

It's not only about religious/ethno-linguistic divisions, but there's also the issue of resources (primarily the oil). Dividing Kirkuk isn't just about spatial divisions, it's also who gets the oil. Bagdhad doesn't have oil, and almost all the oil is in the Shiite or Kurd areas. And in Kirkuk, you've also got to deal with the Turkoman population. And what about the Chaldeans, Roman Catholics who speak Aramaic? Prior to the war it was thought there were about a million Chaldeans. I'm sure lots more have settled in the Detroit area in the last year or so--Detroit has by far the largest population of Chaldeans outside Iraq, probably over 100,000--but there still has to be a half million or more Chaldeans and Assyrians.

Galbraith's perspective may be shaped by his time as US Ambassador to Croatia during the Balkan wars of the 1990's. It was hard to reshape Yugoslavia along ethnic lines once the fighting stopped, but the defacto partition had already occurred by that point (especially in the Krijina region between Serbia and Croatia, which was "cleansed" by the Serbs on one end in 1992, by the Croats on the Southern flank in 1995). But that hasn't really happened to the same degree in Iraq, and Yugoslavia doesn't have significant reserves of oil.

I do not think that either Israel/Palestine or India/Pakistan is preferable to the situation in Iraq today, considering that both of these were partitioned by the British more than 50 years ago and that both areas are big threats to world peace today. India/Pakistan almost went on a nuclear war a few years ago, and the death toll during partition is estimated to be from 200,000 to a million (source Wikipedia).

My own personal feeling is that the Dem proposal for Iraq may be on paper no better than the Republican/Bush proposal. But we need a new approach and new leadership, and that is more likely to come from the Dems than the Republicans.

We are a country, a world, in denial about the consequences of violence. Big article several years back in time magazine about trauma...well before the war. The article discussed the changes in MRI's of the men who went to the vietnam war and how the brains of people who have served in combat show changes on MRI's. War causes mental illness and the chronic fear that goes with abuse or living in a war zone make mediation more difficult in the long run. Israel and Palestine may be examples of whole communities affected by "emotional" thinking.

This differentiates from I.Q in that, the cognitive brain can be engaged separately from the emotional part of the brain but what the damage of chronic fear causes is that pathways between the cognitive and emotional brain are not developed in that the two parts do not communicate freely back and forth. When there is chronic fear the human brain begins to process everything through the hypothalumus and therefore reasonable solutions become more difficult to attain.

There have been several articles researching the effects of PTSD on the negotiation process. War causes brain damage and impacts our ability to find peaceful solutions in the future. There is a schizmogenic loop that occurs, more violence creates more violence. Less violence creates more peaceful solutions...we need to break this cycle and what breaks my heart is that this president has single handedly created more brain damage and more obstacles to finding peaceful solutions on this earth. When communities live in terror for long periods of time, the brain changes and we must learn how to deal more effectively with those changes. Instead of blaming these differences on "culture' we may have to accept that it is a culture that we created.

It seems that our leaders have been living in a perpetual state of fear as well, at least since 9/11. The picture from Ron Suskind's book is of people who value action over thought and results over means. Just do something! What Suskind calls the "Find them! Stop them!" policy.

But none of it is really grounded in reality, because Cheney/Rumsfeld saw this as a chance to operate in an unfettered way, and Bush has appallingly little tolerance for evidence and analysis. (Suskind describes meetings intended to go on for hours where Bush just says "Ok, that's enough" after an hour, when they haven't gotten to the real issues and choices yet. And then there is the famous meeting with Crown Prince Abdullah in Crawford, where Bush listens, puzzled, to the Saudis, seemingly oblivious to what they are asking, because Cheney didn't give him the briefing memo, and he truly didn't understand their concerns.)

But we can't have a course change, because to do so would be to admit that what we were doing was wrong, and we can't have that because it contradicts the "tough guy" image that our Decider in Chief has to cling to or lose his grip, such as it is. (See the long excerpt I posted in the thread above.)

What a mess. What a terrible, terrible mess. No wonder Americans are so angry.

The Iraqi Civil War started in March 2003.

''The Iraqi Civil War started in March 2003.''

probably so.

Hey guys, interesting topic. I am Specialist Patrick Ziegler with U.S. Central Command’s Public Affairs Office. If you want to keep up to date with what is happening in Iraq and other countries in CENTCOM’s Area of Responsibility feel free to check out our website for press releases, video and photos from over there. http://www.centcom.mil

Spc. Patrick A. Ziegler, thanks for the link. There's more than one take on the conflict (thanks for yours).

Supporting the troops takes many forms. We wish them home safe and sound, sooner rather than later. ;-)

Ziegler? A spokesman? Now where have I heard that name--and associated with cheery news? Any relation to Ron?

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