What is to be done?

I watched a little bit of the Fox News Sunday roundup, featuring Bill O'Reilly and two retired military officers rambling on about cracking the brownshirt thugs etc. etc.. I wonder if people are starting to realize that retired military officers are not the fount of all mideast wisdom in this world. Of course the former assistant chief of the air force would understand the intricacies of civil management in the Arab world. "We'll need some more SEAL guys, more tanks and some of your boys' F-22s too!" says the other one. Brilliant! With advisors like this we are sure to prevail. As Bill says, crush them now, hearts and minds come later! Your wisdom, Bill, is something to behold. No spin both now and before the war, as long as we never crosscheck anything you say.

The ghastly hypocrisy among all these shrill folks is pretty alarming. They are sort of spinning off into an exciting new plane of existence where Iraqi neighborhoods must be leveled to hypothetically save the life of a single marine, though by what strategy isn't specified. It's a rhetorical device to make murder sound inevitable, for the coming of the (fourth?) gulf war is upon us.

I think this is almost more disturbing than the dissolving situation in Iraq:

Senior Israeli officials met with top Bush administration officials on Sunday in a bid to complete details of Israel's unilateral withdrawal of settlements in the Gaza Strip, a diplomatic official said.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's chief of staff, Dov Weisglass, and other Israeli officials met at the White House with deputy U.S. national security adviser Stephen Hadley and Elliot Abrams, a top National Security Council aide.
Shortly before Sharon leaves the country, he will visit the largest West Bank settlement - Ma'aleh Adumim, on the outskirts of Jerusalem - in an effort to win support for the withdrawal plan, the prime minister's bureau said.
Israel will not be asked in the future to withdraw to the 1949 cease-fire lines (the Green Line) on the West Bank, according to a letter Bush is to present to Sharon during his U.S. visit.

According to the letter, the determination of borders in a final status accord will take into consideration "demographic realities" on the ground.

Sharon's letter to Bush will state that the prime minister intends to bring the separation plan to his cabinet and to the Knesset for approval. The letter says the plan includes the withdrawal of all Jewish settlements and Israel Defense Forces from the entire Gaza Strip, apart from the Philadelphi Road on the Egyptian border, and that it also calls for the evacuation of four Jewish settlements in the northern Samaria section of the West Bank.

Bush's letter to Sharon will also contain the following:

* Reiteration of America's commitment to Israel's security and to the preservation of its strategic qualitative edge.

* A statement of commitment to the road map, and to the prevention of other diplomatic initiatives.

* Recognition of Israel's right to self defense and its right, as need arises, to carry out anti-terror operations in areas from which its forces are to be withdrawn.

* A declaration that Palestinian refugees can be absorbed in the future in the Palestinian state, just as Jewish refugees from Arab states were absorbed in Israel.

Israeli officials believe the section of this letter from Bush referring to final status borders is highly significant. They believe it constitutes U.S. recognition of Israel's future annexation of West Bank settlement blocs and the negation of a right of Palestinian refugee return to Israel.

Israel has been pushing for a clearer wording to the letter, but the Americans have made it clear that it is difficult for them to include an outward statement against the right of return due to their relations with Europe and the Arab states.

Israel also expects that the Bush administration will support the planned route of the separation fence. In exchange for such support, Israel has promised that no "enclaves" will be created that trap hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, and that the West Bank town of Ariel will not be connected to the main separation fence.

What will Sharon tell the fine zealots of Ma'aleh Adumim? "The plan's rock solid," no doubt. Also, Stephen Hadley and Elliott "PNAC" Abrams are two completely corrupt neo-con bozos, Abrams of Iran-Contra fame.

I am more than a little angry that this seems like it will come to pass like every other folly, and what will unfold is what the lunatics wanted all along... I don't believe for a minute that the fence won't create "enclaves" because the whole idea is to create "enclaves." Hurray for Ariel not being within the fence, but instead everything else will be? Ahhh, thank you great 21st century Christian warriors..

Just as a reminder, here's how Bush may view the religious overtones of the War On Terra. (this is from an arch-conservative site)

Wow, a heavily indebted dairy farmer in Mississippi went to work for driving fuel trucks for Kellog Brown & Root in Iraq, and got kidnapped on a fuel convoy between Fallujah and Baghdad. Others have said that the easy-pickins target of the convoy was hardly guarded at all. Now he has been taken hostage by Iraqi insurgents threatening to kill and mutilate him. He's the guy on the video clips in front of the Iraqi flag. That's about as horrible as it gets.

Describing conditions in Fallujah, EmpireNotes relates the political allegiances of (Fallujans?):

Among the more laughable assertions of the Bush administration is that the mujaheddin are a small group of isolated "extremists" repudiated by the majority of Fallujah's population. Nothing could be further from the truth. Of course, the mujaheddin don't include women or very young children (we saw an 11-year-old boy with a Kalashnikov), old men, and are not necessarily even a majority of fighting-age men. But they are of the community and fully supported by it. Many of the wounded were brought in by the muj and they stood around openly conversing with doctors and others. One of the muj was wearing an Iraqi police flak jacket; on questioning others who knew him, we learned that he was in fact a member of the Iraqi police.

One of our translators, Rana al-Aiouby told me, "these are simple people." It is true that they are agricultural tribesmen with very strong religious beliefs. They are not so far different from the Pashtun of Afghanistan -- good friends and terrible enemies. They are insular and don't easily trust strangers. We were safe because of the friends we had with us and because we came to help them.

The muj are of the people in the same way that the stone-throwing shabab in the Palestinian intifada were. A young man who is not one today may the next day wind his aqal around his face and pick up a Kalashnikov. I spoke to a young man, Ali, who was among the wounded we transported to Baghdad. He said he was not a muj but, when asked his opinion of them, he smiled and stuck his thumb up.

An Iraqi dentist at Healing Iraq takes stock of a year of occupation. It's one of the most fatalistic things I've seen, but that is simply the road he sees it going down, and what has America done to keep it from the path of civil war?

A whole year has passed now and I can't help but feel that we are back at the starting point again. The sense of an impending disaster, the ominous silence, the breakdown of most governmental facilities, the absence of any police or security forces, contradicting news reports, rumours everywhere, and a complete disruption in the flow of everyday life chores.
All signs indicate that it's all spiralling out of control, and any statements by CPA and US officials suggesting otherwise are blatantly absurd.

The chaos and unrest have rapidly spread to several other cities in Iraq such as Mosul, Ba'quba, and Kirkuk. The situation in Fallujah looks terrible and bleak enough from what Al-Jazeera is showing every hour. Ahmad Mansour reported that they keep changing their location for fear of being targetted by Americans. The town stadium has turned into one large graveyard, and the death toll is 500 Iraqis until now with over a thousand injured, a huge price to pay for 'pacification'. The insurgents in Fallujah who are using mosques and house roofs to wage their war against the Marines are equally to blame for the blood of the civilians who have been caught in the crossfire. A ceasefire has been announced by the Americans and is supposed to be in effect but Al-Jazeera reports that fighting continues. What kills me is the absence of any serious effort by Iraqi parties, organisations, tribal leaders, or clerics to intermediate or try to put an end to the cycle of violence. All we hear is denunciation and fiery speeches as if those were going to achieve anything on the ground.
It is becoming increasingly evident from all the violence we have witnessed over the last year, that a proxy war is being waged against the US on Iraqi soil by several countries and powers with Iraqis as the fuel and the fire, just like Lebanon was during the late seventies and eighties. The majority of Arab regimes have a huge interest in this situation continuing, not to mention Iran, and Al-Qaeda. I am not trying, of course, to lift the blame from Iraqis, because if Iraqis were not so divided the way they are, these powers would have never succeeded. I never thought that Iraqis would be so self-destructive, I thought that they had enough of that. But with each new day I am more and more convinced that we need our own civil war to sort it all out. It might take another 5, 10, or even 20 years, and hundreds of thousands more dead Iraqis but I believe it would be inevitable. Yugoslavia, South Africa, Lebanon, Algiers, and Sudan did not achieve the relative peace and stability they now enjoy if it weren't for their long years of civil war. If the 'resistance' succeeded and 'liberated' Iraq, the country would immediately be torn into 3, 4, 5 or more parts with each faction, militia, or army struggling to control Baghdad, Kirkuk, Najaf, Karbala, and the oil fields. It will not be a sectarian war as many would imagine, it would be a war between militias. We already have up to 5 official militias, not to mention the various religious groups and armies.

There is a problem with Abu Ghraib, a notoriously chaotic prison west of Baghdad, full of common criminals, foreign elements and the local revolutionaries, a steaming, barbaric mess of a place. The whole place is surrounded with Saddam's mass graves. But better still, the families and acquaintances of those prisoners are floating around the surrounding city, which generates a great deal of violence, and the prison is itself attacked from time to time. If there was a jailbreak, who knows what kind of militancy would come out?

Reports from Iraq now show that it has become a chaotic detention center and under investigation by Amnesty International. Salon.com called it Gitmo on Steroids. Near the international airport, it has become the City of Fear where the local residents are possibly suffering from Uranium poisoning. the black hole where midnight arrests go. Conditions have improved, from concentration camp-like quality, to mere Spartan prison level, but this is small comfort to those inside and outside.

That the rebels are operating outside of a notorious prison should be of note, and that they have control of the highway there, and apparently can at least strike at US helicopters, is of note. Tensions have been building there for weeks as Iraqi's have complained about the treatment there.
The fighters have been attacking the prison with mortar fire. And still have control of the main highway to Fallujah.

This area then is a focal point for anti-US sentiment, because it is now the site of a makeshift town filled with people who have one thing in common - relatives in US custody. There are, according to reports, hundreds of "third party" nationals in custody here. One would presume that these are the suspected cadres or terrorists who have come to Iraq.

That the rebels are operating with impunity here means that the native intifada has joined up with the elements of the resistance trained or backed by the outside - that Abu Ghraib has become an antiversity of terror and resistance.

At least someone has proposed a useful plan to bring peace to Iraq.

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