Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Unravelling: Weekend Update (01 October)

Finally, the cracks in the facade (c'mon, I had to use that) of the BushCo Administration's poker face of strength that masks its underlying deceit, hubris, incompetence, and general bullying nature is starting to open up into large, rending fissures for all to see. The past seven days have not been good ones for Dear Leader or the Republican party on so many levels -- from the unplanned declassification of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) after leaking last weekend (Frank Rich has a good summary in So You Call This Breaking News?; see previous post) to Bob Woodward's new unflattering portrayal of BushCo in State of Denial (excerpts at the WaPo) to Rep. Mark Foley's sudden resignation due to the revelation of sexually charged communication with underaged pages (male, to boot) and subsequent view into the month-slong coverup by the Republican leadership. And despite the fast footwork typical of Rove-ian politics, the old chestnuts of "we're fighting them there so we don't fight them here" and "Democrats are terrorist appeasers" and "Republicans stand for family values" are sounding more hollow to more and more voters.

London's The Independent has a very good summary of the implosion on both sides of the Atlantic. Here are a few tidbits:
In London, Jack Straw, foreign secretary at the time, described the present state of Iraq, where 50,000 or more civilians have died since 2003, as "dire". On the BBC programme Question Time, Mr Straw admitted he regretted various elements of the war.
[...]
A National Intelligence Estimate, drawn up by the National Intelligence Council, is the most authoritative study produced by the 16-agency US intelligence community. It said the war had become the "cause célèbre" for jihadists, "breeding a deep resentment of the US involvement in the Muslim world, and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement".
[...]
(In the UK), a research paper from the Ministry of Defence in London, which delivered a scathing indictment of the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence service, over Afghanistan and the Taliban, also produced an judgement on the international ramifications. The Iraq war had served as a "recruiting sergeant" for extremists, and had helped to radicalise an already disillusioned youth. "Al-Qa'ida," said the document, "has given them the will, intent, purpose and ideology to act." It also claimed a deal to pull British troops from Iraq to focus on Afghanistan foundered when UK commanders were overruled.

And there's more:
  • Security in Iraq has collapsed so dramatically that Saudi Arabia has ordered the construction of a 550-mile high-tech fence to seal off its troubled northern neighbour. The huge project to build the barrier, which will be equipped with ultraviolet night-vision cameras, buried sensor cables and thousands of miles of barbed wire, will snake across the vast and remote desert frontier between the countries.
    [...]
    The fence is a fresh sign that key allies of the United States in the Middle East are resigned to worsening violence and the possible break-up of Iraq, where American intelligence agencies said this week that the continuing conflict fuelled global terrorism. The National Intelligence Estimate, a report compiled by 16 spy agencies, concluded that the Iraq war had become a cause célèbre for Islamic extremists and was cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. [London Telegraph]

  • Al-Hayat reports [Ar.] that the Iraqi government the curfew in Baghdad succeeded in preventing a rumored "suicide car bombing conspiracy" in the capital with its sudden imposition of a one-day curfew. The plot was said to have been aimed at "sensitive sites" including the complex of government buildings in the Green Zone. (The Green Zone is the small patch of land in central Baghdad, surrounded by thick walls and Marine guards, where most Iraqi government offices and foreign embassies are located.) If al-Hayat is right, the guerrilla movement had planned a major multi-pronged offensive for Saturday that aimed at decimating the Iraqi government.
    -----
    The measure was announced Friday night, a few hours after U.S. troops raided the residence of Adnan al-Dulaimi, the leader of the largest Sunni Arab coalition in Iraq's parliament, and took into custody his bodyguard, identified by Dulaimi's supporters as Khudir Farhan Zargan. [Juan Cole's Informed Comment and WaPo]

  • Iraq is already the site of two wars, one between the Iraqi Sunni community and the US that started in 2003 and a second sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia Arabs that began in 2005. Iraq may now be beginning to suffer a third war, between Arabs and Kurds in the northern provinces.

    This is because under Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, agreed last year, the Kurds won the right to return to areas from which they have been driven for more than half a century. A census will then determine who lives where and, finally, a referendum must be held by the end of 2007, under which Kurdish areas can join the KRG.
    [...]
    In theory, the Kurds and Arabs of northern Iraq will determine their future at the ballot-box. But the government in Baghdad is weak and it is difficult to see it organising both a census and a referendum it does not want. [Kurdish President, Massoud] Barzani is studiously polite about the Baghdad government, but he is clearly dubious about its authority. No doubt he is right in saying a new Iraq will be federal, but it may be the federalism decided by the gun rather than by the ballot-box. [The Independent]

  • Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, warned on Friday that time is running out for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to contain the burgeoning sectarian bloodshed that threatens to plunge the country into civil war.
    [...]
    The ambassador said sectarian violence had replaced the insurgency as the single biggest threat facing Iraq and called on the government to disarm unauthorized militias. He cited two armed groups: the Mahdi Army, controlled by anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and the Badr Organization, run by the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a major Shiite party. [WaPo]

And in Iraq, the chaos and bloodshed continues:
FALLUJA - A car bomb in a vegetable market killed four civilians and wounded six in Falluja, 50 km (35 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.

SUWAYRA - Police retrieved five bodies, including that of a school girl, from the river Tigris in the town of Suwayra, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said. All bodies were shot in the head and chest.

MAHMUDIYA - The bodies of four people, bound and blindfolded, were found with gunshot wounds to the head in the town of Mahmudiya, just south of Baghdad, police said.


The Democrats have seemingly been content to let the Republicans self-destruct up till now, but with Bill Clinton blazing with both barrels last weekend on Fox News, Dems might be starting find the strength of voice to push back -- something that the country, I believe, is yearning to hear. In response to Dear Leader's comments at a fundraiser this last week -- "The party of FDR and the party of Harry Truman has become the party of cut and run" -- double amputee IL congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth, who was a Black Hawk helicopter pilot in the Iraq War, stood up to the President in this week's Democratic response to the president's weekly radio talk:
"Well, I didn't cut and run, Mr. President. Like so many others, I proudly fought and sacrificed," Duckworth said. "My helicopter was shot down long after you proclaimed 'mission accomplished.'"

It's time to play offense, Dems -- as our pal Ward reminds us with his Village Voice cartoon from a couple weeks back.

Sutton Impact @ Village Voice

And it's time for all progressives/liberals/Democrats to step up to the plate. The window of time before the November mid-term elections is closing. Consider making a donation of cash or time to a candidate in need in your area. I'll be giving another donation to Darcy Burner, who is in a dead-heat with incumbent freshman Congressman Dave Reichert (who's been relying on a lot of fundraising help from both Dear Leader and Karl Rove).


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