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Ear to the Ground

Iran’s Victory in Iraq

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Posted on Dec 20, 2005

For the Bush White House, the good news from Iraq just never stops. But the joy that President Bush has expressed over the country’s latest election, though more restrained than his infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech, will similarly come back to haunt him.

Soon after Bush spoke of the Iraqi election as “a landmark day in the history of liberty,” early returns representing 90% of the ballots cast in the Iraq election established that the clear winners were Shiite and Sunni religious parties not the least bit interested in Western-style democracy or individual freedom — including such extremists as Muqtada al-Sadr, whose fanatical followers have fought pitched battles with U.S. troops.

Mr. Fish - Iraqi Voting
Click to Enlarge

The silver lining, of course, is that the election did see broad participation, if not particularly clean execution. And because all of the leading parties say they want the United States to leave on a clear and public time line, this should provide adequate cover for a staged but complete withdrawal from a sovereign country that we had no right to invade in the first place.

What we will leave behind, after hundreds of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives lost, will be a long way from the neoconservative fantasy of a compliant democracy in the heart of the Middle East. It is absurd for Bush to assert that the election “means that America has an ally of growing strength in the fight against terror,” ignoring how he has “lost” Iraq to the influence and model of “Axis of Evil” Iran. Tehran’s rogue regime, which has bedeviled every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter, now looms larger than ever over the region and most definitely over its oil. “Iran wins big in Iraq’s election,” reads an Asia Times headline, speaking a truth that American policymakers and much of the media are bent on ignoring: “The Shiite religious coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), not only held together, but also can be expected to dominate the new 275-member National Assembly for the next four years,” the paper predicts based on the returns to date. “Former premier Ayad Allawi’s prospects of leading the new government seem virtually nil. And Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Accord suffered a shattering defeat.”

Allawi and Chalabi are the Iraqi exiles and U.S. intelligence “assets” who played such a huge role in getting the United States into this war. Chalabi, in particular, will go down in history as one of the greatest con artists of all time, having managed to feed phony intelligence to the White House, the New York Times and countless other power players who found his lies convenient for one reason or another. Now, despite — or, more likely, because of — their long stints on the U.S. payroll, both of these wannabe George Washingtons have been overwhelmingly rejected by their countrymen. Chalabi, long the darling of the Pentagon, seems headed to obtaining less than 1% of the vote nationwide and will fail to win his own seat. Allawi’s slate, favored more by the CIA, will end up in the low teens. As much as one should despise the role played by those two men in getting us into this mess, their abject failure is not a good thing, for they carried the banner of a more modern and secular Iraq, which is essential to peace and human rights progress. But the Iraqi people will have to come to that truth on their own and not as a result of foreign intervention that only fuels the most irrational political and religious forces. Unfortunately, it is hardly an advertisement for our democratic way of life that the American people were so easily deceived as to the reasons for this war. Or that our president resists the condemnation of torture, renders captured prisoners to be interrogated in the savage prisons of Uzbekistan and Syria, and claims an unrestrained right to spy on U.S. citizens.

Nor does it help that this president is so publicly bent on intruding government-imposed religious values into American civil life, while urging secular tolerance upon the Islamic world. Or that he remains so blind to the reality of life in that world that he still does not grasp that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were on opposite sides of the enormous struggle over the primacy of religion. Iraq, for all of its massive deficiencies, was not a center of religious fanaticism before the U.S. invasion, and the Islamic fanatics that are the president’s sworn enemy in the so-called war on terror did not have a foothold in the country. Now, primitive religious fundamentalism forms the dominant political culture in Iraq and the best hope for U.S. policy is that Shiite and Sunni fanatics can check each other long enough for the United States to beat a credible retreat and call it a victory.

—Posted by Robert Scheer.

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By Herbal Medicine, December 16, 2006 at 6:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hmm… very interesting article.

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By B. Goode, January 21, 2006 at 6:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Iran the big winner in Iraq?”

I too, am a big fan of Robert Scheer. In this piece, he has added his voice to the veritable drum beat in the liberal press, declaring Iran the big winner in Iraq. In fact, Israel is the real winner in Iraq, from every angle.

1. The recent Iraq vote means that, at best, the Shiite and Sunni will warily share a weak central government, removing Iraq as a threat for decades to come.

2. The northern Iraqi Kurds became what Israel has always wanted - a non Arab client state-within-a-state, and one with oil to give.

3. Iran comes into sharp focus as ‘the big winner’, ‘an unholy Shiite alliance’, a threat. (A companion piece in Truthdig reports that Israeli agents in the U.S. are actively involved in a convicted spy’s efforts to prove Iran a threat.) Thus, the stage is set for the U.S. to support an attack on Iran, the last regional threat to Israel.

This last ‘win’ is what should concern us the most. 

For one thing, it creates fear based on shaky assumptions. It ignores an ancient distinction: Iraqi Shiites are Arabs, the Iranian Shiites are Persians. To assume a close Shiite bond is akin to saying Chinese Buddhists and Japanese Buddhists will make common cause.

For another, just as in Iraq, the battle ahead with Iran is actually against the interests of the American public. Further instability in an oil exporter will send oil prices towards 80 or more, and our economy into a tail spin of inflation, higher interest rates, and the bursting of the housing bubble. And for what?

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By J, January 20, 2006 at 4:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hmm…. It seems that any sign of progress, be it the Iraqi people choosing whom they want to represent is always a negative thing to most people on the left. History will only tell how much or little Iran and Iraq cooperate with each other. ANd to believe that the Shiites in Iraq will follow Iranians blindly is an assumption only. In the world of words real politik doesn’t matter but in the world of people, it does. I would agree with most that Iraq invasion was a mistake but I will not agree that we can cut and run or choose to see who runs the Iraqi nation. America must do what is in its best interests now, and to help set a stable democracy is one way to do that. Assuring development of the country and teaching Iraqis how democracy works are the ways that America can help itself now. Only time and history will tell if the narrative we leave behind is one of success or failure.

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By Wintermute, December 28, 2005 at 3:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For one thing, the LAT’s loss is the rest of the country’s gain.

Now, those blessed with early sleep will awake to stories of the Kurds ready on signal to establish Kurdistan.

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By Sylvia Barksdale Morovitz, December 25, 2005 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hi Steven,

I’ve the ideal solution if it could be possible.

Let’s withhold our taxes!!  After all, it is our money he’s squandering and turning around to spit in our eyes!

I can dream, can’t I?

Eleven months to wait to impeach this thing is possibly too long.  My friends, family and even strangers I speak with in the food markets see the desperation you speak of already, and it’s teetering dangerously on the verge of madness.

Frankly, I fear deeply for our nation.

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By Steven Domingos, December 23, 2005 at 5:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sylvia,
Your passion is much appreciated, and passionate resistance is what is needed to continue momentum for keeping these scoundrels in check. Impeachment would be welcome, but what we can probably most reasonably hope for is that one of the houses of Congress becomes controlled by the Dems. in 2006. Or, by smart poodles!! That would be fine with me, as long as Congressional investigations were to begin into the Bush administration shenanigans.

I am sure they must fear that mightily, so much so that we should probably not be suprisd by some desperate move by Bush (that is, by Cheney) to gamble on sparking public support for the Republican party if it begins to appear likely that they will lose control of Congress.

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By Sylvia Barksdale Morovitz, December 23, 2005 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As an ardent admirer and supporter of Robert Sheer, I must again say, excellent journalism and Bravo!

That Chalibi lied to the White House was no excuse for Bush to go to war on Iraq.  As president of our country it was his duty to ascertain truth from lie.

So many factions come into play with Bush’s rush to war that it’s difficult to seperate and make sense of them.  Oh heavens!  Did I just say make sense of them; when in reality, there is absolutely no sense to be made of it.

From the outset of this administration, Bush has bequethed too much power unto himself.  Indeed,  he has incredibly, attempted to make himself the only power; the only law of our land.  In so doing, he has brought more destruction to us and to the world at large than any other president in the history of our nation.  The list of his errors and miscalculations is a long one but the alienation of our allies, such as Germany and France, is up there with the top of them.

I communicated with a Fellow from his Washington Think Bank prior to the war.  He had drawn up and presented to the president a comprehensive plan to secure Iraq’s borders.  Notwithstanding that the topography is on the trecherous side, with deep valleys and mountanious regions, but it could have been done.  It is dumbfounding that this vital advice was disregarded.  Thus, once the war began, the insurgents surged in and Iraq became a nightmare totally out of control.

James Ridgeway of Village Voice wrote yesterday of the possibility of impeachment for Bush’s spying within our own country.  Here again is an example of the illegal power he grants himself.  I believe he should be impeached but for vastly more than illegal spying.

Some say that Congress is as much to blame for the war as the president for the majority voted for it.  I believe that those persons who make up the body of our government are humans who feel fear just like we, the people.  Being told of the possibility of a “mushroom” cloud engulfing our nation, were I in Congress, I too, would have voted for war.  A president is a person who is primarily believed by the people he serves.  Unfortunately, Bush is a president who considers himself our master; an all powerful, godlike creature who can do as he damn well pleases come hell or high water.

Impeachment would be a powerful lesson for any leader who would follow him.  Not only has he created his own rules as he went along but he cast aside our Constitution as well.  We need a leader who knows his place as a servant of the people and, as instructed by our Constitution, never lie concerning events as serious as wars.

I think of the benefits the billions of tax dollars he has squabdered could have been for our own nation and become sick to my stomach.  It exhibits contempt for the very people he is supposed to be defending from need, hunger and homelessness, and health care.  We all suffer, in one way or another, by having such an egotistical, reverse Robin Hood in the Oval Office.

I believe that jail time is in order for the psychological battering Bush imposes on the people of our nation.  We can only hope that the worst is over but we can certainly expect more.

Consider the crminal charges; an immoral, illegal war, the comingling of church and state, the treasonous act of revealing the name of an American operative whose work was in keeping our country safe, spying on his own citizens.  The list goes on and on and it’s for damn sure we’re not privvy to all the criminal activities committed by Bush, Inc.

Okay, let’s exile Bush Inc. from any part in our government.  Let’s march.  Let’s get on the phone to our representatives.  Let’s write through the mails and through the web.  One thing’s for sure, if we tolerate his criminal behavior, three more years of him is a long time to permit more damage from him!

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By raymond, December 23, 2005 at 9:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

question for #11, not scared, you say ‘Throughout its history, the US has engaged with countries that it disagrees with both religiously and politically’. Would that include Iran?

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By Sylvia Barksdale Morovitz, December 23, 2005 at 8:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is the president’s duty to seek, probe, dig and in all possibe ways, acertain the truth prior to plunging his country into war.  I do not hold that lies from an Iraqi “ally” can be blamed in the slightest.  From the outset, President Bush has made himself the only law in our land and it has been the most negative law ever devised by an American president.  The billions squandered on this illegal war could have done great things for our country.

Other evidence shows that Bush was previously advised by the CIA that there was no connection between bin Laden and Hussein.  Mr Wilson’s probe into the claim of yellow cake uranium having been secured by Iraq from Niger also proved untrue.

From communication with a Fellow from Bush’s Washington think-bank, I learned that a comprehensive plan to secure Iraq’s borders had been drawn up and presented to the president three months prior to his preemptive strike.  True, the country’s topography is made up of deep valleys and mountanious regions but securing them could have been done.  It seems, therefore, that the president was so anxious to get his war in motion that he was oblivious to all vital advice.  This resulted in the insurgents surging in and Iraq becoming a living hell that no country can control.

Bush’s claim of warring in order to democratize Iraq is laughable.  Since time immemoriable the country has been filled with religious zealots and for time immemoriable it will remain so.

We now have the information of the president’s illegal spying within our own borders.  One is almost dumbfounded that he so blatently places himself above the laws of our land which must be obeyed by every citizen.  Every citizen except himself!

James Ridgeway of Village Voice reported yesterday on the possibility of impeachment.  The most important aspect of impeachment would be to teach leaders to follow Bush that Americans will not stand for an immoral government; a president who does not hesitate to lie and decieve his Congress and the people of his country.  The psychological warfare Bush has waged against his own countrymen is unforgivable and for this alone, he should be imprisoned.

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By Steven Domingos, December 22, 2005 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

to #11. Comment by Not Scared:
You’ve got the numbers wrong. Look at #5 above, Comment by nathan johnson. The Kurds are Sunni for a total of 40% Sunni Muslim population in Iraq, 60% Shiite. For a another good commentary read Peter Galbraith’s article in The New york Review of Books—link below:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/18150

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By Alex Pratt, December 22, 2005 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Robert,
    You are on point as usual.  I am continually amazed at the dirth of coverage on the Iran/Iraq shotgun marriage facilitated by the Bush administration. 

    This will clearly be the biggest story of this war when it is dissected by historians - how “W” boldly labeled a group of countries the axis of evil, invaded one, occupied it and then trained its army and departed so that it could be an effective partner with another axis member and wreak havok throughout the middle east. 

  Its playing out before our eyes and no one is even willing to talk about it.  Thanks again Bob.

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By Not Scared, December 22, 2005 at 10:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

OK Chicken Little.  Now that you’ve scared the masses into running for the hills….we can look at the facts.  Establishing democracy does not mean we choose who runs Iraq.  The fact is that they need to choose for themselves.  If they want a fundamentalist regime then so be it.  To claim that Iraq is going to turn into the next Iran is to scream that the sky is falling.  Iraq is not strickly a Shiite state.  It has a significant Kurd and Sunni population.  Thirty-fve percent of Iraqis are Sunni and twenty percent are Kurdish.  You do the math…..55%.  So, Shiite do not have a contolling interest.  Stop with the scare tactics.  Throughout its history, the US has engaged with countries that it disagrees with both religiously and politically.

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By raymond, December 22, 2005 at 8:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What a downfall for Chalabi, three years ago his cup runneth over. He was blessed with not one but a whole administration of ‘useful idiots’. From bush, cheney, wolfowitz, perle, rice, hanley, tenet and lets not forget rummy as well as the celebrated judith miller.It seems that now his run has ended, maybe he will be deported to Jordan, they would love to have him.

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By Bruce, December 21, 2005 at 8:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To me it makes sense that Iran and Egypt are trying to insulate themselves from a coercion of Bushocracy, Ms Rice traveling everywhere telling governments they’d better get on board or else.  Now they understandably close ranks till the threat has subsided.  From the onset it was the 10 year war talk which prompt for give me anything I want.  Congress never approved the war but issued term payments for it to continue on a wait and see basis, administration molding that as it did turning an old telephone truck into a collosal world class weapon of distruction.  Where’s the thumb screws?  We don’t use those but throwing out the Geneva convention is ok.  Let’s give green cards to every Iraqi look-a-like crossing the border in droves, “don’t worry Americans, however it would be better if you watch what you say or write,”  you might get rendered.

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By Ernie Fazio, December 21, 2005 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

True some Shia fought against Iran, but it is also true that SCIRI and BADR leaders were in Iran during the war fighting against Iraq.  The situation is so complex, the tribal animosities so ingrained, the aversion to western occupation so total, the interests of Shia, Sunni, and Kurd religious and sectarian so varied and unknowable that the endgame looks more like former Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, Somalia, the original Iranian revolution rather than Vietnam.  As Islamists say, “One vote, then sharia.”

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By Steve Miller, December 21, 2005 at 5:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Steven-
I was saddened that the LAT caved and bumped Robert Scheer; and I wrote some blistering mail to the paper. It’s another case of the ‘fire those who got it right, promote the ones who obeyed no matter what’ syndrome the right has propagated since 2001.

Re: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales…. what’s worrisome now is that as things go, they’ll all end up in the docket. Considering they thought to rule the world, one might imagine desperate measures in the offing.

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By Steven Domingos, December 21, 2005 at 4:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Those of you not from Southern California may not realize what a loss this area suffered with the cancelling of Robert Scheer’s column from the LATimes. His was the only voice in the newspaper combining essential reporting, not to be found elsewhere in the paper, combined with superb analysis, and, if I may say so, a mastery of English expression that was a great pleasure to read.

Now we have only a few other major media market columnists with comparable capabilities and point of view as Mr. Scheer. And, none published where I live.

Today’s column is quintessential Scheer. I hope, I am sure, with you all, that events detailed in today’s column will permit a U.S. exit from Iraq.

My fear is that the considered calculations of those with political power in the U.S., between public poll numbers and overweening greed, will be tipped towards greed, and they will gamble on a strategy to obtain control of Iraq’s oil through continued U.S. military presence. I hope to god that I am wrong.

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By nathan johnson, December 21, 2005 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

um lets see….........kurds 20% of the population….sunnis 20% of the population…..and shiites are the remaining 60% of the population….....im sorry if i am puzzled by why anyone would be surprised by this outcome…......and to automatically assume that shiites in iraq will do whatever shiites in iran say…......well i guess you just have to ignore the entire iran iraq war where the iran ayotollah called for iraqi shiites to overthrow saddam and instead they fought against iran

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By steve miller, December 21, 2005 at 11:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Robert Scheer has it exactly right. How frustrating it must be for our small-minded Napoleans in the White House that other people out there in the world do not necessarily share their pet fantasies, instead having their own ideas and agendas… how complicated!
And that no matter how many times they repeat the mantras, they just don’t seem to stick ‘over there’... Karen nHughes notwithstanding…

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By jeff gershoff, December 21, 2005 at 7:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The lurking fear that seems to be strengthened by the returns so far in this election is that an even greater horror might await them after we do finally depart.  Anarchy and civil war.  Either Bush forsees Americans as “peacekeepers” in Iraq indefinitely, and that is something that will almost certainly be reversed by the ensuing (Democratic US administration), or the Shiite, Suni, Kurdish, Iraqis will almost certainly devolve into civil war.  The tremendous irony is that what might ultimately save that horrible scenario would be the emergence of another strong man vis a vis Sadam Hussein.  On top of that the motivation to others in the region to perhaps seize some land during the chaos will be strong.  Let’s never forget the profound lack of love between Iraqis and Iranians.

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By Andy, December 21, 2005 at 4:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

One picture said it all for me.

Allawi with Moqtada al-Sadr stuffed in Edward Wong’s article in Sunday’s NY Times.

I can’t find the photo online—its surreal.

The article is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/18/international/middleeast/18iraq.html

Is it time to “negotiate” a victory? John Burns’ “24 Ex-Hussein Officials Freed From U.S. Custody” piece in Tuesday’s Times sort of came and went…  Wash. Times made it a point that most of these Saddamites had been “depicted in a U.S. pack of cards.”

Burns NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/20/international/middleeast/20amnesty.html

Wash. Times: http://www.washtimes.com/world/20051219-115830-1465r.htm

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By Susan Block, December 21, 2005 at 3:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Pyrrhic, indeed. Just look at us noble Americans, having been cheer-leaded into Perma-War by Chickenhawks, now doggie-paddling through a blood-drenched Mesopotamian quagmire of Big Lies, body bags, torture, no WMDs (except the ones we brought with us), but plenty of destruction, mutilation and death, death and more death, all of it breeding fundamentalism like a swamp breeds flies. And nobody wins, but Iran.  Great piece, Mr. Scheer.  Sad situation for America.  Hopefully, this election will provide *cover* for America to get out of a place that has become our Guernica.

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