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October 11, 2006

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The total figure of 650,000 is truly staggering. It represents 2.5% of the entire Iraqi population. Back in 2004, the Lancet was criticised for publishing a number that seemed to have a high degree of uncertainty. The best estimate then was 98,000 deaths. But the uncertainty meant that it could have been as low as 8,000 or as high as 194,000. But now the measure of uncertainty still shows just how terrible our intervention in Iraq has been.

The single rational reason for us not to pull out is that it will allow the sects to go into full scale civil war.

How much worse would that be than the present situation? Would it even be noticeable in terms of casualties that we had left? Is it likelythey would somehow increase?? In fact, would the absence of an invading army actually lead to lower casualties? I wonder what the Lebonese would have to say?

I don't see that a militarily-imposed wester-style democracy is freedom for the Iraqi people. Particularly at this cost.

Oh, wait. There's the other reason for not pulling out of Iraq. Bush doesn't ever admit making a mistake, and pulling out of Iraq would be admitting that he made a really big one. Avoiding facing the reality of pulling out before another administration takes over is worth all the death and injuries. Right? How many can there be in the next two plus years?

Now that we have unleashed the fury of hell in Iraq, there's very little we can do. The civil war is raging. Until the Iraqi factions decide to stop it will keep on. Each attrocity begets even more vicious attrocities - a death spiral. Our military has not been stop this violence yet. Maybe they have dampened it a bit but we will have limited influence in Iraq. So does it make sense that our troops keep getting killed and maimed when the outcome is going to be an Iraq that hates the US no matter what.

The Iraqi civil war is going to make the Lebanese civil war look like a picnic. And if the Baker plan for partition is what is attempted next then each new "stan" will soon be fighting each other. Its best for the Arabs & Persians to sort it out. At least they have a cultural understanding and they ultimately are financing all this mayhem.

Bush was terse when he was asked about this 650,000 figure by a reporter (it was played on NPR today). "Not credible," he said, without elaborating.

But seemingly without missing a beat (at least in the NPR report), Bush went on to defend Denny Hastert, saying that he believes him, that he's a great Speaker and so on. Bush was expansive on the point, and even noted that Hastert said he would fire anyone found to have had knowledge of Mark Foley's exploits. Because Hastert had said he would fire anyone involved, Bush believed in him. He said so.

Did anyone else note the syntactic echo of Bush's own promise to fire anyone "involved" in the CIA leak? I couldn't help but think: we truly are in the looking-glass days of this Presidency. And what a tragic face in the mirror: 650,000 Iraqi deaths (and counting). We started their civil war.

That number is out there in the territory of the sublime. I frankly haven't begun to digest the horror of it, and its implications for our country's secure future. The horror.

When I was in Jordan in June, a sophisticated Jordanian offered the only semi-plausible recipe for an end to what we have wrought that I've heard:

My solution may be brutal, but I believe the U.S. must leave completely. Iraq will have a difficult rebirth; it may take 10 or 15 years. But Iraq has enough heritage to recover, to stand on its own two feet.
All of our tromping around in their country has been premised on the notion that somehow they are the children, we're the grown-ups, and we know best. Perhaps they are the ancient culture and they know best.

Quite right, janinsanfran. They are, and in the end they do.

I sometimes think that the only thing that has kept us from experiencing the brunt of what Iraqis feel about us at this point is their own politeness and civilization.

So sad!

The moon does not heed the barking of dogs. Michael.

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