Friday, September 07, 2007

Working for the Weekend Reading

There are a few items that I intended to discuss at length earlier this week, but haven't found the time. Still, they are worthy of a closer look without my negligible value added (if you haven't come across them already).

First, Nir Rosen presents an assessment of the state of affairs in Iraq that, while depressing, is a necessary dose of reality - helpful in warding off the rose-colored spin we will be subjected to when the prodigal Petraeus returns next week.

Relatedly, if you really want a glimpse into how and why there is almost no chance for the United States to unwind Iraq's many civil wars (squeezing the toothpaste back in the tube), just look at this article that Swopa just re-linked to (I meant to discuss it when he cited it originally). Some excerpts from Swopa:
The colonel pulls his Mercedes into the parking lot of the drab, 11-story concrete building, scanning the scene for suspicious cars.

Before reaching for the door handle, he studies the people loitering nearby in hopes he will be able to recognize anyone still there later in the day. He grips his pistol, the trigger cocked, wary of an ambush.

He has arrived at his office.

This is Iraq's Ministry of Interior — the balkanized command center for the nation's police and mirror of the deadly factions that have caused the government here to grind nearly to a halt.

. . . Until recently, one or two Interior Ministry police officers were assassinated each week while arriving or leaving the building, probably by fellow officers, senior police officials say.
And that's before you get inside the building:
On the second floor is Gen. Mahdi Gharrawi, a former national police commander. Last year, U.S. and Iraqi troops found 1,400 prisoners, mostly Sunnis, at a base he controlled in east Baghdad. Many showed signs of torture. The interior minister blocked an arrest warrant against the general this year, senior Iraqi officials confirmed.

The third- and fifth-floor administrative departments are the domain of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's Islamic Dawa Party, a Shiite group.

The sixth, home to border enforcement and the major crimes unit, belongs to the Badr Organization militia. . .

. . . The ninth floor is shared by the department's inspector general and general counsel, religious Shiites. Their offices have been at the center of efforts to purge the department's remaining Sunni employees. The counsel's predecessor, a Sunni, was killed a year ago.

"They have some bad things on the ninth," says the colonel, a Sunni who, like other ministry officials, spoke on condition of anonymity to guard against retaliation.

The ministry's computer department is on the 10th floor. Two employees were arrested there in February on suspicion of smuggling in explosives, according to police and U.S. military officials. Some Iraqi and U.S. officials say the workers intended to store bombs there. Others say they were plotting to attack the U.S. advisors stationed directly above them on the top floor.

. . . Partitions divide the building's hallways, and gunmen guard the offices of deputy ministers. Senior police officials march up and down stairs rather than risk an elevator. They walk the halls flanked by bodyguards, wary of armed colleagues.
But, you know, The Surge baby! It's working. It would be sloppy to suggest otherwise. Actually, according to John McCain and Lindsey Graham, it has already worked. Mission Accomplished and all. As George Bush recently observed, "We're kicking ass" in Iraq. Heh. Indeed. Defeatocrats. Surrendercrats. Etc.

But seriously, The Surge is working so well, that...what Jim Henley said in response to news that Riverbend has just - like millions of other Iraqis - fled to Syria:
If you ever bought the cockamamie idea that the US could and should invade Iraq and turn it into a “beacon for the Muslim world to follow,” one more reminder that what the Muslim world sees now is Iraqis trying like hell to get to Syria, because life is better there. Syria. Stop to think about how much Iraq has to suck that Iraqis would rather live under Bashar Assad and his clown-school mukhbarat. Iraq is every middle-eastern dictator and prince’s favorite object lesson now. “Democracy??? Do you want to end up like Iraq?????”

Heckuva job, liberators.
Kickin' ass baby. Kickin ass.

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