2006 August 17 Thursday
Iraq Hits New Records For Bombs And Deaths
The New York Times reports that roadside bombings surged to a record high in July 2006 in Iraq.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 — The number of roadside bombs planted in Iraq rose in July to the highest monthly total of the war, offering more evidence that the anti-American insurgency has continued to strengthen despite the killing of the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Along with a sharp increase in sectarian attacks, the number of daily strikes against American and Iraqi security forces has doubled since January. The deadliest means of attack, roadside bombs, made up much of that increase. In July, of 2,625 explosive devices, 1,666 exploded and 959 were discovered before they went off. In January, 1,454 bombs exploded or were found.
The Times reporters opine that what is going on in Iraq is a dichotomy.
The report’s contents are being widely discussed among Pentagon officials, military commanders and, in particular, on Capitol Hill, where concern among senior lawmakers of both parties is growing over a troubling dichotomy: even as Iraq takes important steps toward democracy — including the election of a permanent government this spring — the violence has gotten worse.
In response to the "dichotomy" remark Lawrence Auster says he fails to see a contradiction between democracy and sectarian violence in Iraq and suggests that the contradiction exists in the minds of those who expected democracy to bring peace to Iraq.
Since it is the essence of a liberal always to be surprised and “troubled” at a real world that does not fit liberal expectations, only liberals could regard the co-existence of “democracy” and violence in Iraq as a “troubling dichotomy.” It’s only a troubling dichotomy if you assume, like the whacked-out Bushites, that having elections and forming some kind of government (a government that depends for its existence on the U.S. military) means that you have “democracy,” and that this “democracy” means that the enemy has been defeated and that all men will now live in peace, each under his own vine and fig tree.
Gotta agree with Larry here. Why would democracy bring peace people among people who are not liberal and who see any election that they lose as an election that will bring to power people who will totally shaft the losers.
Larry points to an essay he wrote in April 2004 where he argued that creation of a monopoly on the use of force is the basic requirement for the establishment of a democracy.
What has gone wrong? As I've been saying since last summer, the erection of a new government in Iraq presupposes the first law of all governments, that it have a monopoly on the use of force. Yet instead of focusing on the need for such a government and on the practical requirements for creating such a government, we've been pouring most of our energy and hopes into creating the mechanisms of democratic elections—imagining, in excited reverie, that the cart of universal rights and democratic proceduralism could pull the horse of sovereign national existence.... Thus we not only lack a policy aimed at victory in Iraq, we have not even had a national debate aimed at formulating such a policy. We have had a parody of a debate, in which the Left mindlessly screams, "Bush lied," and the Right stolidly replies, "Stay the course."
My guess is victory was never an option for the US in Iraq. A strategy that could produce victory would require a level of brutality that the US elites and populace could not stomach. An occupation of Iraq that utlized the level of brutality needed to rule in Iraq is just beyond the pale in the minds of people who live in Western coutries today.
Back to the New York Times article: It ends with a real doozy:
“Senior administration officials have acknowledged to me that they are considering alternatives other than democracy,” said one military affairs expert who received an Iraq briefing at the White House last month and agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity.
“Everybody in the administration is being quite circumspect,” the expert said, “but you can sense their own concern that this is drifting away from democracy.”
Wow! Some of the Bushies realize that Iraq may be a lost cause. Hey, there's this guy held in custody in some Iraqi jail who knows how to run a dictatorship in Iraq and who knows how to maintain order. He could stop the sectarian violence very quickly, albeit with a brief period where the killings would surge much higher as he reestablished his previous monopoly on the use of force.
More Iraqis died in July 2006 from the violence than in any other month since the war began over 3 years ago.
July was the deadliest month for civilians since the war started in March 2003, figures show.
During the month, 3,438 Iraqis were killed -- 1,855 because of sectarian or political violence and another 1,583 from bombings and shootings. Nearly 3,600 Iraqis were wounded, the official said.
Turkey and Iran are attacking Kurdish rebels along their borders with Kurdistan (which this article naively refers to as part of Iraq).
Turkey and Iran have dispatched tanks, artillery and thousands of troops to their frontiers with Iraq during the past few weeks in what appears to be a coordinated effort to disrupt the activities of Kurdish rebel bases.
Scores of Kurds have fled their homes in the northern frontier region after four days of shelling by the Iranian army. Local officials said Turkey had also fired a number of shells into Iraqi territory.
Iraq provides a shocking glimpse into that condition which Thomas Hobbes argued was the state of man before government: war of all against all. Iraq has not decayed to that level. Tribal and religious royalties create larger bonds that prevent a complete breakdown of all order in Iraqi society. Yet Iraq's state is a sobering reminder of what man can become absent a higher authority.
Hereby it is manifest that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man. For war consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting, but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known: and therefore the notion of time is to be considered in the nature of war, as it is in the nature of weather. For as the nature of foul weather lieth not in a shower or two of rain, but in an inclination thereto of many days together: so the nature of war consisteth not in actual fighting, but in the known disposition thereto during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All other time is peace.
Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
Iraq also brings to mind another line from Thomas Hobbes: Hell is truth seen too late.
My longstanding suspicion is that neither the left nor the moderate right can grasp the significance of the above observations, since what they seize upon is altogether colored by their desire for freedom for aggression.
They cannot permit themselves to realize that what Iraq needs is freedom from aggression.
What America needs is huge kill ratios in our favor, such as 100:1, or whatever it takes to induce deep discouragement of moslem hopes of successful aggression.
To do political 'good' in Iraq is to do evil to our need for reprisals of overwhelming disproportion.
My guess is victory was never an option for the US in Iraq. A strategy that could produce victory would require a level of brutality that the US elites and populace could not stomach.
In a twisted sense, absolutely true. Victory was never feasible, as most scholar familiar with the complexity of the situation told us repeatedly BEFORE we blundered into Iraq. Keep in mind that the retarded Bush was surprised at the distinction between Sunni and Shia, and is even now baffled that the Shia regime we have installed roots for Hezb'Allah in Lebanon. For someone who doesn't know manure from apple butter, the world is a baffling place.
The comment on the level of brutality is on the money, however. To a certain extent, it explains (but in no way justifies) the level of brutality that Saddam Hussein employed in keeping a secular Sunni minority government in power. Hussein was ruthless in his suppression of Islamic fundamentalists and Kurd dissidents. He held them down with an iron heel. When our military swept across Iraq and removed the oppressive power structure, violent retaliation and vendetta was virtually guaranteed by the cultural heritage of the acting parties.
Which is why George HW Bush, Bush 41, upon the advice of some very wise men, declined to let Norm Schwartzkopf roll into Baghdad at the end of Gulf War I, because if he had, we would still be mired in the quagmire that is Iraq. I'm not a big fan of Bush 41, but at least he was not a fool, something that cannot be said about the imposter impersonating a president we have in the Oval Office now.
George Walker Bush - Bush 43 - the most singularly incompetent man ever to hold the office.
I would not hire him to paint my garage.
"Which is why George HW Bush, Bush 41, upon the advice of some very wise men, declined to let Norm Schwartzkopf roll into Baghdad at the end of Gulf War I, because if he had, we would still be mired in the quagmire that is Iraq. I'm not a big fan of Bush 41, but at least he was not a fool, something that cannot be said about the imposter impersonating a president we have in the Oval Office now."
But since George HW Bush was so influential, how did he fail to prevent his son from making this mistake?
Thanks for the quotes from my articles. Your excellent quote of Hobbes carries my argument further. Not only is a monopoly on the use of force, i.e. effective sovereign government, i.e. peace, the condition for democracy, it is the condition for civilized and productive existence as such. We delivered Iraq into a Hobbesian state of war, and then, without ending that state of war, we presumed not only to build "democracy" but to build up Iraqi civil society. Thus, along with our success at democratization (shown by the holding of elections and the creation of a government), our other proof of "progress" and "success" in Iraq is our activities in building schools, fixing infrastructure, forming friendly and cooperative relations with Iraqis, and so on. But just as with the creation of an elected government, the improvements to Iraqi civil society cannot take root or survive WHILE A STATE OF HOBBESIAN CONFLICT STILL PREVAILS AND IS SPREADING. So what we're doing in Iraq takes the liberal reversal of reality beyond where it's ever been before: We are trying to build democracy and civil society in a society where there prevails horrible Hobbesian war which we have no means to stop; or, rather, our "means" of stopping the Hobbesian war consists of democracy-building and civil society-building!
since George HW Bush was so influential, how did he fail to prevent his son from making this mistake?
Dr. Freud might call it an unresolved Oedipal complex. We certainly know that Bush 41 veterans (Brent Scowcroft, et alii) advised against the invasion. My firm belief is that Bush, being only somewhat dumber than a sack of doorknobs, enjoyed making believe he was the Commander in Chief.
The solution to this is simple. Divide it up ethnically, go for a highly devolved Swiss style government, make national army quotas based on ethnic/religious groupings...put the oil wealth in the hands of the national government with a stipulation that it be spent in each ethnic region according to population. Keep U.S. troops in at current numbers to facilitate the ethnic migration that will take place, but encourage the capital to stay multiethnic by adding greater protection to Sunni Muslims and Christians there.
Next get with Iran over the Shiite Arabs in IRaq and make suer you have both Iran but especially Turkey onboard for any changes to the Kurish regions powers of autonomy.
Bush will not do this though...he already set himself up for failure by trying to promote a Western style democracy in the imagine of a more evolved federal structure, he will see any ethnic divide as a failure for his WHite House, since he constantly promoted it.
For more detail:
Letting the nation split up so that the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds each have their own power and sovereignty, will be problematic for the area. Especially as it turns out that Turkey and Iraq have been shelling the Kurdish area of Iraq, possibly to intimidate them and keep their own Kurdish populations intimidated.
Nevertheless, that is looking more and more like the best way out of a bad situation.
And really, why shouldn't we let Iraq split up? Iraq was put together deliberately in the first place, by the British, so that the people would never get along, and thus wouldn't unite and be a threat to British interests...trying to keep it together isn't worth their lives or ours, at this point.
Well I'm not saying split up into three seperate nations...but divide the nation by ethno/religious realities...similar to Switzerland. I think it is the best solution, but to do it we need to force the Iraqi extremist to except that no one is going to have ultimate control over all Iraqi territory and no one will have an independent nation, that is why BUsh needs to get Iran onboard. He needs to make it s@xy for Iran without giving into their nuclear demands...that will be very tricky and I do not think Bush is smarter than the Iranian president sorry to say...
Letting the nation split up so that the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds each have their own power and sovereignty, will be problematic . . . Nevertheless, that is looking more and more like the best way out of a bad situation.
It's true. It is the most rational solution available, although the problem of Turkish and Iranian response to a Kurdish province remains. And neither the Turks nor the Iranians are prepared to truly address the issue. In a larger perspective, it might be a good idea for Iran and/or Turkey to cede some portion of land to the Kurds to amalgamate a real Kurdistan in exchange for oil revenues.
The trouble is - in spite of the fact that most of the world's religions recognize the Golden Rule - and the fact that Games Theory clearly demonstrates time and again that the optimal strategy for humans is enlightened cooperation - nations are not guided by rationality.
A clearer example can not be made than the fact that a functional illiterate with anger management problems, unresolved chemical dependency and Oedipal issues and a crushing lack of scientific knowledge rules the most powerful and technologically advanced nation on the planet. Does anyone really think the dolt can operate a computer or surf the internets?
The chaotic, unstable situation in Iraq provides the perfect 'theatre' for terrorists with limited training, skills and courage to kill Americans, and other Westerners with a good chance of not getting killed themselves.
Its ironic that as the the UK and US are getting better at dealing with terrorism within Western countries they are failing to protect westerners and moderate muslims from terrorists in the Middle East
Only a few well trained, fanatical and courageous Muslim terrorists are capable of terrorising westerners on western terrority
This is one of Bush and co's great blunders- fighting the war on terrorism on ground of your enemy's chosing. Unfortunately America can't just pull out becauce that could make the situation even more anarchic and oil prices would go through the roof.