Friday, January 19, 2007

Bryan Preston from HotAir reports on Iraq...

Vent-Iraqis Speak to America(Click the image to the right for today's Vent Video Report from Baghdad.)

Bryan Preston has a couple of outstanding posts this week that you should read.

The first discusses good/bad 'JAM', the mafia, and how petty politics hinders our ability to see reality. The core question: is Iraq in a "civil war" or not?...
Thanks mostly to political environment, we’ve all been mired in a debate over whether Iraq is in a state of civil war or not. What should be a cold assessment of truth on the ground in Iraq has, like every single aspect of the war, become politicized. If you describe the situation in Iraq as a “civil war,” it’s taken as an implied or direct criticism of President Bush more than your opinion of the actual state of play in Iraq. If you resist calling it a “civil war,” you’re usually seen as an apologist for the Bush administration and its policies.

Why everything has to revolve around Bush is a mystery to me. Making everything about him trivializes the war and personalizes it to the point that real policy debate becomes impossible. It makes our politics petty and hinders our ability to see reality for what it is and learn to adjust to it. It’s childish, but it’s where we are as a country.

Making everything about [Bush]
trivializes the war and personalizes
it to the point that real
policy debate becomes impossible.

Nevertheless, I’m going to wade into this. Having seen a little bit of Baghdad up close and talked with the troops serving there, I don’t believe Iraq is in a state of civil war. Before you liberals run off declaring me a neo-con or Bush apologist, hear me out. You can always mischaracterize me later, but at least do me the honor of using my actual words. And before any war supporters cheer, hear me out.
Read it all.

'Victory Over America' palaceThe second post/report (just in) called Tomba Kids discusses the devastation of the UN’s Oil-For-Food program and how Iraq's next generation just wants to play a little soccer...
...The UN’s Oil-For-Food program was supposed to prevent Iraq’s weakest from just this sort of calamity. Instead OFF cash went to build palaces like Al Faw, near Baghdad Airport, and the unfinished Victory Over America palace. Iraq was a failed state before 2003; the world just didn’t know it yet. It took an invasion to find out.

Iraq was a failed state before 2003;
the world just didn’t know it yet.
It took an invasion to find out.

Looming over the slum is a sort of monument to Benan Sevan and Kofi Annan: An Oil-For-Food warehouse. Captain Stacy Bare, civil affairs officer at Forward Operating Base Justice near here, describes Oil-For-Food as “the worst thing the UN could have done” for Iraq. I’d say it’s the second worst, the worst being the UN’s failure to enforce its own resolutions against Saddam. But I won’t argue with Bare’s assessment of OFF. It was a travesty that fueled a tragedy. ...

... The kids kept coming up to me and yelling what to my untrained ear sounded like “tomba, tomba!” I had no idea what they were asking me until one of our interpreters explained that they were saying “ball.” Pretty soon I heard one kid say “fut bol” and then it clicked–they want soccer balls. These kids have nothing. No PS3. No Wii or Nintendo DS (though a few do have pirated satellite dishes, and televisions powered by illegally tapping into the power lines overhead. MacGyver would be proud of the ingenuity on display here). They just want a ball to kick around in the dirt and chase around with their friends. It just about broke my heart to explain that I didn’t have a soccer ball to give them. Not that they understood a word I was saying. They just kept mugging for the camera. ...

...Iraq could be prosperous, stable and free, and sooner than most people think. But to get there its people will have to get over their sectarian differences and see themselves as Iraqis first. Or better yet, as humans first. Can they? In time, maybe. But not tomorrow or next week. It’s going to take time to cool things down. It’s going to take the presence of a benevolent outside power to give them that time.

The Iraqis say they need 15 years of peace before they’ll be a normal nation again. Iraq hasn’t known 15 years of peace in forever, it has barely known 15 minutes of peace, and it’s in the wrong neighborhood to expect more than a year or two of peace in a run. Then again, for the past 35 years Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was the fountainhead for much of the region’s unrest, and he’s gone. So maybe a few years of peace aren’t too much to hope for. Eventually.

Iraq’s next generation just wants to play a little soccer. What might the next few decades look like if their soccer balls bore a stamp saying “Gift of the United States of America”?
Previous report.

Losing Strategy

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