Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Start the World Cup and send the Iraqis!

Tariq al-Hashimi, a (Sunni) vice president of Iraq, has what must be the most pathetic reason for continued optimism in today's Washington Post:
During the Asian Games in Qatar last month, Iraq became quiet, if only for a few hours. Citizens united as brothers behind the national soccer team, which against all odds fought its way to the finals. ... This tells me that all is not lost, that a deep-rooted sense of nationalism still lies within all Iraqis, and that it can and must be rekindled.

It is true that terrorism of an unparalleled nature rages in Iraq and that Iraqis are the ones killing each other on the basis of sectarian and ethnic identities. It is also true that reconstruction and economic development have ground to a halt because of the violence. And Iraqis are divided on such fundamental issues as reconciliation and how to bring about security.

Despite all the hardships, however, we Iraqis were able to raise the rudimentary pillars of our nascent democracy by writing a constitution, electing a parliament based on that constitution and granting a vote of confidence to a government through that elected parliament. It is not fair to look at Iraq as a collection of failures without identifying its successes. ...

All is not lost! Eliminating regional influence is the only way to bring Iraqis back to their senses. ...

If those soccer players taught us anything, it is that a proper strategy for eliminating sectarianism and fostering nationalism is key. Reconstituting the Iraqi Armed Services and then reforming, retraining and properly arming them must be a central component of this strategy. Another should be revising Iraq's constitution to give our central government effective powers but prevent any sort of dictatorship by the prime minister. The powers that the prime minister holds now must be revised to guarantee that all stakeholders can share in governing. Adherence to the rule of law is also central.
These steps are necessary, and his argument has some moral authority because several of his siblings have been killed by Shiite death squads. However, I find the fact that a regional soccer/football championship is one main reason for optimism to be absurd.

Perhaps we can drag the Iraqi side all around the world, playing friends and foes! I am not sure on their fitness, or if they are all still alive, but it's worth a shot.

The surge will be announced tonight, about as rehearsed as our political nominating conventions these days.

The Australian hightlights a concern of mine:
US and Iraqi officials said the assault on the Haifa Street neighbourhood rooted out an insurgent cell that controlled the area, but residents from the predominantly Sunni Muslim area and Sunni leaders said the American forces had been duped by Iraq's Shia-dominated security forces into participating in a plan to drive Sunnis from the area.

On the eve of President George W. Bush's announcement of a new war plan for Iraq, the conflicting versions underscored the difficulty US troops have in protecting civilians in this sprawling capital where Shiites and Sunnis are waging pitched battles for control of the neighbourhoods.

In the past several months, Shia militias have pushed into Sunni neighbourhoods, threatening residents with death if they don't leave. Sunni residents have responded by arming themselves and welcoming protection from Iraq's insurgents.

With Mr Bush expected to order additional troops to Baghdad in coming weeks, Sunni leaders have worried that US troops will end up helping the Shiites push them from their neighbourhoods.
Will we bring the sword when we need a scalpel?

Note how poorly armored our military remains, and how minimally our industrial base is involved, the Baltimore Sun:
"The problem with the M1114s ["Humvee"] is, they are overloaded and flat-bottomed," said Maj. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer, the senior Marine commander in Iraq.

Today, the Marines are moving quickly to buy and deploy combat vehicles with a key design improvement over the Humvee: They are built with a V-shaped hull that deflects a blast up and outward, leaving passengers shaken, but alive.

Under a $125 million contract, the Marines are buying 100 Cougar and 44 Buffalo armored trucks, known collectively as MRAP, for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, made by Force Protection Inc., a small company in Ladson, S.C. The firm is producing 40 vehicles a month, said its vice president, Mike Aldrich, a retired Army officer educated at West Point.

Aldrich said the design grew out of a joint Army and Marine Corps request "designed to literally stop the bleeding from up-armored Humvees in some of the most dangerous areas in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The military services said last month that they need 4,060 of the MRAP vehicles, with 2,500 for the Army, 538 for the Navy and 1,022 for the Marines. The delivery schedule is uncertain. Meanwhile, a permanent replacement for the Humvee, incorporating the latest design and armor improvements, is years away, Pentagon officials said, and mired in technical and cost disputes.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Tariq al-Hashimi, a (Sunni) vice president of Iraq, has what must be the most pathetic reason for continued optimism in today's Washington Post
;)
Yeah…he's a "Sunni Arab"
And Uncle Tom was black!

Re: Blecher, you’re right: he’s able to “opt out” and lives in his cynical retreat cum deluxe “exile”…precisely because there are idealist young men in uniform fighting in hellholes such as Qandahar and Sadr city…

But, unlike other “free riders” (think Tel-Aviv, the Neocon, the AEI…) Blecher doesn’t preach a faux gospel of patriotism soaked in the blood of gentile slave-soldiers from the American heartland.

He’s “way, way higher” in the moral hierarchy if you want my opinion.

1:52 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Complicated Harriet Beecher Stowe analogy on that one...

I just don't like non-military militarism in any of it's forms. BUT, you are right on his position in the pantheon of the opinionated.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

I don't think you are spending enough time on the foreign blogs--I don't doubt for one minute that an entire nation could unite behind sports teams despite being unable to agree on anything else. National identity is important. There is a movement in more moderate Bahrain a "No Sunni, no Shi'ite, just Bahrain" it is generating excitement locally. Rekindling nationalism, rather than localism, is important in achieving a solution.

If you spend a little more time on the foreign blogs, you will realize that on a global basis, American sports fans seems quite apathetic in comparison.

6:18 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Entertainment does not build a government of national unity. If it did, there would be a lag in violence. No such lag happened. The entire idea is moronic.

7:05 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

To clarify, I mean that this VP's logic is moronic. He betrays himself by referring to that constitution and the now distant purple finger moment.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

"In these dangerous times, the United States is blessed to have extraordinary and selfless men and women willing to step forward and defend us. These young Americans understand that our cause in Iraq is noble and necessary — and that the advance of freedom is the calling of our time."

Was thinking of you.

1:16 AM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Thank you. I am a little late to the party though.

He mentioned American brigades working with Iraqi divisions. The idea is sound, the levels all wrong. It should be companies matched to battalions.

8:03 AM  
Blogger Publia said...

You think he got it right? Such confidence!

10:52 PM  

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