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How Bush Created a Theocracy in Iraq

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Posted on Dec 2, 2005

By Juan Cole

The Bush administration naively believed that Iraq was a blank slate on which it could inscribe its vision for a remake of the Arab world.  Iraq, however, was a witches’ brew of dynamic social and religious movements, a veritable pressure cooker. When George W. Bush invaded, he blew off the lid.

Shiite religious leaders and parties, in particular, have crucially shaped the new Iraq in each of its three political phases. The first was during the period of direct American rule, largely by Paul Bremer. The second comprised the months of interim government, when Iyad Allawi was prime minister. The third stretches from the formation of an elected government, with Ibrahim Jaafari as prime minister, to today. 

In the first phase, expatriate Shiite parties returned to the country to emerge as major players, to the consternation of a confused and clueless “Coalition Provisional Authority.”

The oldest of these was the Dawa Party, founded in the late 1950s as a Shiite answer to mass parties such as the Communist Party of Iraq and the Arab nationalist Baath Party. Dawa means the call, as in the imperative to spread the faith. Dawa Party leaders in the 1960s and 1970s dreamed of a Shiite paradise to rival the workers� paradise of the Marxists, with a state ruled by Islamic law, where a “consultative council” somehow selected by the community would make further regulations in accordance with the Koran. The Dawa Party organized covert cells throughout the Shiite south. In 1980, in the wake of the Khomeini revolution in Iran, Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party cracked down hard on Dawa, executing many of its leaders, attacking its party workers and making membership in the party a crime punishable by death. The upper echelons of the Baath were dominated by Sunni Arabs who disliked religious Shiites, considering them backward and Iran-oriented rather than progressive and Arab. In the same year, 1980, Saddam invaded Iran, beginning a bloody eight-year-long war with his Shiite neighbor.

In the early 1980s, Iran came to be viewed in Washington as public enemy Number 2, right after the Soviet Union. In the Cold War, the United States had viewed Iran as a key asset, and in 1953 the CIA overthrew the populist government of elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, which had broken with the country’s monarch. The U.S. put the autocratic Mohammad Reza Shah back on his throne, building him up as an absolute monarch with a well-trained secret police and jails overflowing with prisoners of conscience. The shah’s obsequiousness toward the U.S., and his secularism, provoked the ire of many religious Shiites in Iran. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, exiled as a troublemaker in 1963, had lived from 1964 to 1978 in Iraq, where he developed a new doctrine that clerics should rule. In 1978 he was expelled from Iraq to Paris and helped lead the revolution of 1978-79 that overthrew the shah and brought Khomeini to power as theocrat in chief.

Khomeini�s rise coincided with that of Saddam, a secular Sunni. Thousands of activist Shiites from Iraq fled to Iran, and the leadership congregated in Tehran. In 1982, with the support of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iraqi Shiite exiles formed a militant umbrella group, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Dawa was also active there. Among its leaders was a physician from the Shiite holy city of Karbala named Ibrahim Jaafari.  In 1984, the cleric Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim became the head of SCIRI. From Iran, both Dawa and SCIRI mounted commando attacks on Baathist facilities and officials, attempting to overthrow the Baath government. In 1989 Jaafari and other lay leaders of the Dawa Party relocated to London, seeking greater freedom of action than they could attain under the watchful eyes of the ayatollahs in Tehran.

During the Gulf War of 1990-91, when the U.S. and its allies pushed Saddam Hussein�s forces back out of Kuwait, President George H.W. Bush called on Iraqis to rise up against the dictator. The Shiites took him at his word, launching a popular revolution in the spring of 1991 in which they took control of the southern provinces. Bush, fearful of a Shiite Islamic republic, then allowed the Baath to crush the revolution, killing tens of thousands. In the aftermath, two clerical leaders emerged: Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, originally from Iran but resident in Najaf since late 1951, took a cautious and quietist course, teaching religion but staying out of politics. His rival, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, increasingly defied Saddam, organizing poor Shiites into a puritanical form of religion. In 1999 the Baath secret police killed al-Sadr and his two older sons. His middle son, Muqtada, went underground. The religious Shiite parties established their credibility with the Shiite public by their dissident activities.

In the run-up to the March 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, both the London branch of the Dawa Party and the Tehran-based Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq engaged in consultations with Washington. Both had been involved in extensive meetings with secular Shiite politician Ahmed Chalabi, who organized the Iraqi National Congress as an expatriate party aimed at overthrowing the Baath. When Saddam fell, leaders of both Shiite organizations established themselves in Iraq. Ibrahim Jaafari came from London with his colleagues and sought to organize the Dawa Party as a populist political force in the Shiite south. Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq made a triumphal journey overland from Tehran to Iraq. SCIRI immediately launched membership drives in the villages and small cities of the Shiite south and garnered thousands, perhaps millions, of new members over the next year and a half.

In April and May of 2003, after the fall of Saddam, the Sadr movement emerged into the spotlight. Muqtada al-Sadr, just 30 years old, did not have the scholarly credentials to be a great clerical leader, but the fanatic devotion of the slum-dwelling Shiite masses to his father ensured that he, too, would be met with acclaim when he came out of hiding. He organized the takeover by his followers of most major mosques in the ghetto of East Baghdad, which was promptly renamed Sadr City in honor of Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr. He immediately launched regular demonstrations against what he characterized as the U.S. occupation of Iraq, demanding that American troops depart immediately. In the summer of 2003, he began organizing his militia, the Mahdi Army. He desires a theocratic government similar to that in Iran.

The U.S. State Department, fearful that the Pentagon might install corrupt expatriate politician Chalabi in power in Iraq, convinced President George W. Bush instead to send in Paul Bremer, who had been a career foreign service officer.  Bremer intended initially to rule Iraq single-handedly. As the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement gained momentum in May and June, it became clear to him that he could not hope to rule Iraq by himself, and he appointed a governing council of 25 members. Ibrahim Jaafari of Dawa and Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim of SCIRI were appointed, as were several prominent figures with backgrounds in the Iraqi Dawa Party, along with Sunni Arabs and members of minorities.

Bremer’s plan to have the constitution written by a committee appointed by himself foundered when it met strong objections from Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. In a fatwa, or legal ruling, Sistani insisted that an Iraqi constitution must be drafted by delegates to a constituent assembly elected by the Iraqi people. Bremer initially discounted this criticism. He is alleged to have asked one of his aides, “Can’t we get a fatwa from some other mullah?” It gradually became apparent that Sistani’s authority was such that he could overrule the U.S. proconsul on this issue. 

By October of 2003, as the guerrilla war grew, it became clear that Bremer could not in fact hope to rule Iraq by fiat, and that the U.S. would have to hand sovereignty back to the Iraqis.  Bremer�s initial plan was to hold circumscribed elections for a parliament.  Most voters would be members of the provincial councils (each with 16 to 40 members) that the U.S. and Britain had somehow massaged into existence. 

Again, Sistani objected, insisting that only open, one-person, one-vote elections could guarantee a government that reflected the will of the Iraqi people. It was almost as though Sistani were quoting French political philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau to the Americans. He also insisted on a prominent role for the United Nations as midwife to the new Iraq.  When it seemed as though the Bush administration might ignore him, Sistani brought 40,000 demonstrators into the streets in Basra and 100,000 in Baghdad in mid-January of 2004. The Bush administration immediately acquiesced. U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Lakhdar came for extensive consultations, and elections were set for January 2005. In the meantime, the U.S. would hand sovereignty to an appointed government for six months, with a supporting United Nations resolution.

The weakness of the U.S. in Iraq encouraged the proliferation of party paramilitaries. The Dawa Party began having men patrol in some cities.  SCIRI expanded its Badr Corps militia, originally trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. These militias avoided conflict with the U.S. because their parties had a marriage of convenience with the Bush administration, and because they agreed not to carry heavy weaponry. It is alleged that the Supreme Council continues to receive substantial help from Iran, and that the clerics in Tehran still pay the salaries of some of the Badr Corps fighters. The likelihood is that the Iranians give at least a little money and support to a wide range of Shiite politicians in Iraq, including some secularists, so that whoever comes out on top is beholden to them. The mullahs in Iraq probably support the Supreme Council more warmly than any other political party, however.

In contrast, the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr was viewed by the Americans as a threat, even though the Sadrists seldom came into violent conflict with U.S. troops. As the handover of sovereignty approached, the Americans in Iraq suddenly announced that they wanted to kill or capture Muqtada al-Sadr, and they arrested several of his key aides in early April 2004. He responded by launching a massive revolt, which initially succeeded in taking control of East Baghdad and several southern cities. Through hard fighting, the U.S. military gradually defeated the Mahdi Army, reaching a truce in early June. In August, fighting broke out again between the Sadrists and the Marines in the holy city of Najaf. This crisis was resolved when Sistani returned from London after a heart procedure there to call for all Iraqis to march on Najaf. The flooding of the city by civilians made further fighting impossible, and Muqtada al-Sadr slipped away. Thereafter Muqtada fell quiet for many months. When he reemerged, it was as a political broker rather than simply a warlord.

The Americans had had to give up their hopes of ruling Iraq directly, both because of the Sunni Arab guerrilla war and the challenge of the Shiites. Although he was more peaceful about it, Sistani opposed key American initiatives as much as the young firebrand Muqtada al-Sadr did. The Mahdi Army uprising was the nail in the coffin of direct American rule of Iraq. Next, the U.S. completely lost control of the political process.

In fall 2004, Sistani intervened to shape the upcoming elections. He insisted that all the major Shiite parties run on a single list, to avoid splitting the Shiite vote. Since Shiites comprise about 62% of Iraqis, a united Shiite list could hope to win a majority in parliament. The coalition of Dawa, SCIRI and smaller Shiite parties won the election on Jan. 30, as Sistani had foreseen. The U.S. had attempted to build up the old CIA asset and secular ex-Baathist, Iyad Allawi, as the natural leader of Iraq. It signally failed. His list received only about 14% of seats in parliament.

The real winners of the January 2005 elections were the Shiite religious parties. This was bad news for Bush. In partnership with the Kurdish Alliance, they formed a government that brought Ibrahim Jaafari of Dawa to power as prime minister and gave Dawa and SCIRI several important posts in the executive. Sunni Arabs from the rival branch of Islam were largely excluded from the new government, insofar as they had either boycotted the election or had been unable to vote for security reasons. The new Jaafari government quickly established warm relations with Iran, receiving a pledge of $1 billion in aid, the use of Iranian port facilities and help with refining Iraqi petroleum.

At the provincial level, the Shiite parties swept to power throughout the south. SCIRI dominated nine of 11 provinces that had a significant Shiite population, including Baghdad province. The Sadrists took Maysan province and Basra province. Shiite militias proliferated and established themselves.

The dominance of the central legislature and the executive by religious Shiites gave Sistani great moral authority over the drafting of the permanent constitution, the main task of the new parliament. The Shiites inserted a provision that no legislation could be passed by parliament that contravened the established laws of Islam, and made provisions for Muslim clerics to be appointed to the judiciary. Some important elements of the old Dawa Party vision of a government in accordance with Islam was therefore achieved, though it was leavened by modern, secular human rights ideals. When Dawa and SCIRI were based in Tehran in the 1980s, plotting to overthrow Saddam and come to power, they could not have imagined that their dream would be realized 20 years later with American help. Jaafari, the elected prime minister, employed his position to strengthen the Shiite fundamentalist Dawa Party that he headed. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim had lived to see his Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq rule half the provinces of Iraq, including the capital, as well as play a central role in the parliament and the cabinet. Both parties drew Baghdad closer to Tehran, seeking warm relations with the clerical rulers of Iran. Shiite power now dominated the eastern stretches of the Middle East. The Bush administration trumpeted its bestowal of democracy in the region, but most Middle Eastern observers saw only the installation of a new Shiite power.
     
The hawks in the Bush administration had initially hoped that a conquered Iraq would form the launching pad for a further American war on Iran. The Shiites of Iraq foiled that plan. Sistani forced the Americans into direct, one-person, one-vote elections. Those elections in turn ensured that the religious Shiites would come to power, since they had the greatest street credibility, given their long struggle against Saddam and their nationalist credentials in the face of American occupation.

An Iraq dominated by religious Shiites who had often lived in exile in Iran for decades is inevitably an Iraq with warm relations with Tehran. The U.S., bogged down in a military quagmire in the Sunni Arab regions, cannot afford to provoke massive demonstrations and uprisings in the Shiite areas of Iraq by attacking Iran. Bush has inadvertently strengthened Iran, giving it a new, religious Shiite ally in the Gulf region. The traditional Sunni powers in the region, such as the kings of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, are alarmed and annoyed that Bush has created a new “Shiite crescent.” Far from weakening or overthrowing the ayatollahs, Bush has ensconced and strengthened them. Indeed, by chasing after imaginary weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he may have lost any real opportunity to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon should it decide to do so.

The real winners of the Iraq war are the Shiites.

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skmacksk's avatar

By skmacksk, July 22, 2009 at 7:18 am Link to this comment

Correction:
The last line of the second paragraph of my post should read as follows;
‘as a pejorative and violent antisemitism i.e. Nazism:’
Mea culpa!

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By skmacksk, July 21, 2009 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment

labeai,
‘Neocon is slang for dirty jew. liberals love this word. now they cant have jews wear a star on their arms; as they say been there done that.’
A Google search using ‘the origins of Neo-Conservatism’ comes up with information that does not support your charge of the equivalence between Neocon ,as a pejorative and violent anti-antisemitism i.e. Nazism:
The Neo-Conservative Revolution:Jewish Intellectuals and The Shaping of Public Policy by Murray Friedman, Cambridge University Press 2005.
‘Commentary’ In American Life, Edited by Murray Friedman,Temple University Press,2005.
The Neocon Reader, Edited Irwin Stelzer, Grove Press 2004

All these books are either edited or authored by American Jewish Intellectuals,facts not subject to question. Your remarks betray their trivial,offhand nature, not to speak of a carefully nurtured political masochism. These publications and many others, provide empirical evidence for the prominence of American Jewish intellectuals as the fabricators of the political movement called Neo-Conservatism. Perhaps, you might better address the radical political romanticism,of the Neo-Conservatives, expressed by their addiction to the Constitutional Exceptionalism of Carl Schmitt.
Thank you, Juan Cole, for your very informative post!!!

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By labeai, October 21, 2006 at 7:56 am Link to this comment
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neocon pointman, Dick Cheney

Neocon is slang for dirty jew. liberals love this word. now they cant have jews wear a star on their arms; as they say been there done that.

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By Ed, August 20, 2006 at 1:34 am Link to this comment
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IF you had a Brain Cell, you would be Dangerous.

Thank God you don’t have a brain cell to speak of.

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By Mike, August 19, 2006 at 10:11 am Link to this comment
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Thank you!
http://vrywukso.com/jakn/tpuh.html | http://lgwzdnsc.com/jhyj/tfzt.html

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By Jane, August 19, 2006 at 10:11 am Link to this comment
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Thank you!
My homepage | Please visit

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By Dixie, August 19, 2006 at 10:10 am Link to this comment
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Nice site!
My homepage | Cool site

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By glee, May 1, 2006 at 12:32 am Link to this comment
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After reading all the comments I have come to one clear conclusion.  The more one supports Bush, the poorer the writer’s ability to use correct grammar, spelling and correct expression.  Perhaps this merely reflects the intelligence and educational level of the typical Bush supporter,  Therefore s/he is one who is less likely to be a fully informed and educated voter and far more gullible to believe those who know how to sway people.  I would suggest those people read (or reread) the following two books:  1984 and Fahrenheit 451.  Hopefully they will be astute enough to understand the inherent metaphor of each.  Then they should read all they can about the rise of Hitler, starting off with a rather easy to read Melissa Muller’s Anne Frank, the Biography.  Maybe they would begin to get an understanding of how easily it is to be swayed to willingly give up freedoms and rights.  It is happening in 2006.  Those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it.

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By Duane Sample, January 9, 2006 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment
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Better late than never! Very good info by Juan Cole…hopefully he has it approx. right. However, my view of this carefully prepared invasion observes that the natural resources of the entire Middle East need to be at the beck and call of the United States and it’s brother ally, Israel. Further, their joint efforts will include a great part of Africa and portions of the prior Russian properties. So we will see much bigger bombings and invasions ahead. There is no stopping World Empire because it holds all the cards of weapons manufacturing and disposable humans (soldiers). When the Empire runs out of soldiers; they will use prisoners: both domestic and foreign. Our (the USA) conversion to full Plutocracy is fast happening; and the paper democracy is vanishing. We (of the proletariat) needn’t worry. We should watch this as if we are reading a novel; and live our personal lives in happiness and pleasure. We who are aware of our very nature know that the leaders of our world are simply beasts: devoid of human qualities. So let them be.

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By marvin, January 7, 2006 at 7:39 am Link to this comment
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The U.S. is the proverbial bull in the china shop I’m afraid. You know what that does to the china shop.

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By Vor Dire, January 1, 2006 at 3:02 am Link to this comment
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<<<I believe it is leftists’ intetions to make it look it was all Bush’s fault!>>>

Two things…

If it’s not War President’s responsibility/fault… then, where might the old proverbial buck stop?  Are you accusing the neocon pointman, Dick Cheney of the FUBAR in Iraq?

Nevertheless, in all fairness to your contentions… the “leftists” and a ever-growing number of “conservatives” have a substantial amount of material to work with as re Bush’s fault(s).

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By F14 Pilot, December 31, 2005 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment
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I believe it is leftists’ intetions to make it look it was all Bush’s fault!

Bush is a hero

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By Vor Dire, December 20, 2005 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment
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<<<Bush went to war to liberate Iraq, did u forget?>>>

Oh, no… the slobber-faced NASCAR Sunday Fundie non-thinkers bought that lie and are now flopping on the deck like a bunch of mullets on a trot line.  Everybody else knows that Bush invaded Iraq so he can make senseless excuses about spying on his political opponents…

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By Winston, December 20, 2005 at 11:37 am Link to this comment
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Bush went to war to liberate Iraq, did u forget?

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By nathan johnson, December 19, 2005 at 6:50 am Link to this comment
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wow…..........they werent kidding about what the liberals were saying about the successful elections in iraq…........11 million iraqis vote and there is almost no violence….....and yet you die hard bush haters still cant get past your petty small minded hatred of bush and his “cronies” if iraq is so bad then how come 2 out of 3 iraqis feel next year will be better….how come over 70% feel their lives are going well….....maybe you people should actually listen to military people over their and iraqis themselves instead of you little whining groups…..and as for this stupid oil conspiracy need i remind you that the oil companies made record profits when demand was high and supplies were low…........for the ones that attended public school that means that if iraq starts pumping as much oil as saudi arabia then the oil companies will not make as much money ie the 90s

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By VOR Dire, December 13, 2005 at 8:19 am Link to this comment
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A fact of reasoning omitted… On November 1, 2000 Saddam Hussein converted Iraq’s oil trading unit to the euro and away from the private banking family known to a few as the federal reserve ‘system’ currently ruling the United States and most of the world economies.

As the 2nd largest producer of oil on the planet, Saddam’s crippling move to the euro shattered the smooth flow of the federal reserve’s paper through the oil piplines and diverted the fiat paper into the sewer lines of the world economies. 

The after effect continues to haunt the massive paper printing bank.  Even a cursory look at the last five years since Saddam’s brilliant shift away from the dollar and one can find the United States economy circling the proverbial drain.

Anyway, after the unilateral invasion, disguised as a coalition, the federal reserve banking family’s first and foremost directive was to have the Bush administration replace the euro with its so-called federal reserve petrodollar.  That was done quietly and without fanfare, yet it was done nonetheless.

Now the question remains, will the private federal reserve banking family be able to print enough paper to unclog the ‘sewer’ lines already jammed to capacity with worthless paper dollars?  I believe the answer lies in the question itself. 

Yet, in other words let it be asked this way—When was the last time in history that a nation was able to borrow itself out of debt by printing more worthless money?

Saddam was right about one thing.  The United States government and its house of cards paper money scheme could be brought down without a single shot being fired.  What he failed to realize though, was the fact that Bush’s (the federal reserve’s) invasion did not need a shot fired to inspire ‘shots’ being fired back.

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By Wallsy, December 11, 2005 at 11:37 am Link to this comment
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I am alway stunned by the claim that this war, or any military intervention, is about achieving democracy. The democracy card was pulled out when it became increasingly obvious that no one really believed the WMD threat-discourse. Indeed, it follows a pattern that, after all the intial arguments for intervention are spelled out, the peace and democracy discourse is applied as a sugar-coating at the end. It frankly disgusts me that in light of the destruction of Iraqi society during 12 years of harsh sanctions, bombing raids, causing the destruction of vital infrastructure and the death of 500,000 infants, that a new administration would lie about an Iraqi threat, knowing full well what the outcome of an invasion and occuptaion would entail. I do not need to illustrate the outcomes since they are all too vivid now. One thing is for sure, however, and that is the Bush Administration knew that invading Iraq would not be difficult militarily. However, their obvious disregard for the situation on the ground, the people, the culture and the political set-up, has bogged them down in a veritable quagmire. I agree too with the thesis that the Administration knew what it was doing, that it had a hidden agenda. HOwever, this had nothing to do with the welfare and well-being of the Iraqis, far from it. Indeed, how could Mr Rumsfeld, after having had presiously warm relations with Hussein, have suddenly witnessed a pang of conscience? But, stranegly enough, we are suppsed to believe that this war was predicated on altruism. Ridiculous.

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By Winston, December 10, 2005 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment
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Good Point, Tom!

Democracy is indeed taking place and shaping in Iraq and the fight, I believe, is over that.
Terrorists in one side and US & Iraqis on the other side are trying to shape the future of Iraq.
Democracy, even a little, is in place now but it has to become firmer and stronger. It is going to happen if terrorists are defeated there.

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By Tom Janzen, December 8, 2005 at 2:28 pm Link to this comment
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Winston, the following excerpt from your comment indicates that you believe a “more probable outcome” is likely to occurr that is differenct from the one projected by Mr Cole.  Aside from the circular logic in the comment (Iraq will be a democratic country if democracy is attained),  what are the facts supporting your argument, and the logic of how that outcome is attained, or is it based simply on belief? 

“The liberals do not try to understand that in the long run Iraq will be a peaceful and democratic country if the democracy and freedom the American & Iraqi soldiers are sacrificing their lives for, takes place.”

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By Winston, December 7, 2005 at 11:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have got this in response

http://thespiritofman.blogspot.com/2005/12/response-to-coles-latest-article.html

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By JCanuck, December 7, 2005 at 5:47 am Link to this comment
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I think that they thought they knew exactly what they were doing.  If one looks at how politics have been carried on by the GW crowd domestically, it’s very clear that one of the central pillars of how they operate is “divide and conquer”. 

Unfortunately, they seem to have looked at Iraq through the lens of an isolated country, instead of as part of the whole.  The goal may well have been to splinter Iraq into three “mini-states” based on ethnic and religious lines, who would then spend a great deal of time squabbling amongst themselves.  I have to wonder as well if the pressure put on Syria to withdraw from Lebanon didn’t have the same purpose in mind for the various factions that exist in Lebanese society.  It’s not particularly difficult to see that dividing the stronger states in the area into many smaller and weaker states would create a situation in which it becomes much easier to pit one against the other and to stir up racial or ethnic tensions to keep them off balance and in fear.  This eventuality would considerably strengthen the position of their main regional ally, and therefore the position of the US.

Too bad they forgot about Iran…something they are no doubt trying to rectify with the latest round of fear-mongering about nuclear states.  Interesting to see that Russia has quietly stepped into the fray this time.  I guess that Putin also saw into Bush’s soul, and didn’t much like what he saw.

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By Winston, December 6, 2005 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@Lance Uppercut

What kind of popular government when milions of Iranians greeted their king after his return from Rome?

Dont you believe me? Do a google on that!

Never ever believe what the left wants you to believe. They spin the facts and feed us with what they think is the real truth.

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By Lance Uppercut, December 6, 2005 at 10:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m pretty sure that the CIA has admitted to installing the Shah.  You can’t overthrow a popular government without putting disidents in prison, or in a shallow grave.  That’s a fact.

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By Hopi Elder, December 5, 2005 at 9:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Fast forward 10-20 years, and the surviving pockets of humanity will be huddled around their campfires, the scattered remnants of a vast and cruel diaspora, entirely man-made.

And one will ask: What was the cause of WWIII and the nuclear holocaust? Why did it have to happen?”

And no one will know the answer.

Will you?

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By DeeEmseven, December 5, 2005 at 8:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What is it with these Presidents from Texas?  It’s now clear that the Vietnam war was started by Lyndon Johnson using lies and distortions.  Now we have Dubya starting the Iraq war using lies and distortions.  Do these cowboys think that they won’t appear macho and get respect unless they kill thousands people?

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By Tom, December 5, 2005 at 7:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Magix asked how do we can get out of this mess?

The best answer is that we should give a date certain when we will be gone from Iraq.  This information will let the insurgents know how long they have to wait, but it will also let the other members of Iraqi society know how long they have to prepare. The Iraqis must develop their own solution and this action will immediately focus the minds of all involved on that reality.

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By Winston, December 5, 2005 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am from Iran and I disagree with what Cole says about the Late Shah of Iran.

The hoax of secret police and prisoners are what Ted Koppel made you believe.

Where is he now talking about Mullahs and their prisoners?

This article is another left wing BS.

Thanks

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By Rook, December 5, 2005 at 10:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I hate history. I can’t even stand to read about events from last year.

Yet, I read ever single word of this article. Thanks for educating me on the political developments in Iraq, something the MonoMedia has failed to report. And for doing it so well.

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By ernest p. algorri, December 5, 2005 at 10:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I say let our cigarette companies in there to generate the deficit-reducing revenue our defense contractors and oil companies couldn’t from Iraqi oil.  Thus, a new Republican 2006 campaign slogan (recommended for usage in red states in particular): “SMOKER’S RIGHTS SHALL WIN THE FIGHT!”

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By Johnnei, December 5, 2005 at 7:50 am Link to this comment
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Looks like yer story has lotsa them facts, and tries to make a point based in reality; Juan, Why do you hate Americuh? Don’t you know this administration don’t do no truth based thinkin’.

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By Bill Clinton Podcast, December 5, 2005 at 1:23 am Link to this comment
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I agree totally with your analysis. Not with the tone. Who says Bush and the Neo Cons don’t want a Shiite theocracy in Iraq? It would counter the Shiite theocracy in Iran. Divide and rule. Sistani and the Iranian religious leader are rivals for the leadership of the Shiite religion. You probably know that Iraq is the traditional seat of Shiite learning and leadership. This also explains the new Iranian president’s extremism, trying to be relevant in a Shiite world where the power is shifting to Najaf.

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By alec hakim, December 4, 2005 at 11:54 pm Link to this comment
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I believe the words allah akbar written on the Iraq’s flag clearly deminishs any hope of a secular state ruling in Iraq.

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By Raul, December 4, 2005 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment
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So your thesis is?  The average, unschooled American knows that the Shiites, by definition, get the biggest prize.  Say something meaningful.

Would you prefer Saddam?

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By Pawlr, December 4, 2005 at 8:28 pm Link to this comment
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Juan - One of the best summaries of the insanity I’ve read to date.  Enjoy your in-depth analysis on your blog as well. 
Agree with Brian that the reason for the invasion was #3 and #2 - #2 being the underlying force behind it and #3 being the justification.  _Assassin’s Gate_ provides further evidence for #3.
Where’s the Jean Kirkpatricks of the Neocon movement when we needed them?  She and Scowcroft would have smacked some sense into these idealistic goofballs.

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By Robert, December 4, 2005 at 8:18 pm Link to this comment
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Reading Richard Perle, it seems to me that there has been a plan to install friendly Shi’ites in Iraq going back at least ten years. My understanding is that Perle originally saw Shi’ites somehow loyal to Arab Hashemites rather than to Persians as the way to go.
A small tweak to this plan, going with Sistani’s Iranian Shi’ites instead, builds on the tentaively improved relations with Iran under Clinton, and means that America gains a friendlier Iran as well as the pipelining and energy business that such improved relations implies.

America has been busy ridding Iran of its enemies and rivals. First the Taliban in the east, now the Iraqi Baathists, and no doubt soon Iran’s Syrian rivals will be more fully marginalised. With Hezbollah, fatah and Hamas more or less legitimate political entities or soon to be, Iran can afford to concentrate on making serious oil money, playing off growing Chinese and Indian demands against western needs, with Russia providing its security credibility. Iran could Geographically, politically and theocratically wind up holding the powerful middle ground.

I expect to see Iran taking Saudi Arabia’s place as America’s influential regional Islamic go-to regime.

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By DocHolliday, December 4, 2005 at 6:40 pm Link to this comment
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What’s wrong with theocracy?  That way we can make sure that narrow-minded idiots control everything.  Avoid all those elections and vote-counting strategies.  Much easier this way.

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By Wade Hudson, December 4, 2005 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment
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Juan Cole’s piece is a good, helpful summary, but I disagree that “The Bush administration naively believed that Iraq was a blank slate.” Rather, I agree with Tom, who said “It is extremly unlikely that the people who drafted the plan were ignorant of the ethnic and religious dynamics within Iraq. Therefore, it must be assumed that the most likely outcome; i.e, a Kurdish state, a Shite state and a Sunni state was anticipated and desired.”

When I was in Baghdad during the invasion with the Iraq Peace Team, high-level officials in the Iraq government told me and others that they believed that the Bush Administration intended a three-state scenario.

Recent foreign policy decisions in the Balkans and Africa also suggest that the West has a preference for fragmentation. Weak states offer less resistance.

Personally, as I told the CBS affiliate in Washington on live TV as the bombs were falling, I believe that the primary motivation behind the war was to get Bush re-elected. All other explanations fall short, but on that point Rove and company were successful.

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By Betty J. Ellis, December 4, 2005 at 4:17 pm Link to this comment
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I knew that Bush had no knowledge of other cultures.  I had said since the Gulf I war by his father that when Saddam was gone that we would have another Bosnia situation because of the ethnic groups.  All that I could visualize were more horribley wounded and dead people on both sides.  If only our leaders would study history and learn some lessons from it.

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By Jim, December 4, 2005 at 10:58 am Link to this comment
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Great article!
You should write a book about it, maybe the standard text, after an initial US drawdown

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By John Massie, December 4, 2005 at 10:27 am Link to this comment
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I remind people of President Cheney’s casual purchase of Dresser Industries and it’s asbestos liability for $7.7 billion for Halliburton in the mid 90’s during a weekend of quail hunting.  Halliburton’s stock plunge as a result and the subsequent rebirth of Halliburton in Iraq. And this is just one little sad tale.
Makes one think of the Edwardian excesses of 1913.
Spot of bother there chappie, about that asbestos settlement.  Not to worry, old sport, we can make it up in Iraq.
Z. Brzezinski recently refered to the French description of this as “l’outrance”.  Describes it so much better than conspiracy.
The sun always seems to shine the brightest at sunset.

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By dan, December 4, 2005 at 5:56 am Link to this comment
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Thanks for the interesting post.

I’ve noticed that there is a persistent train of thought amongst US neocon sympathisers which holds that Sistani’s quietism is a threat to the clerical regime in Iran and that he is a US strategic ally on the ground in Iraq, as his “massive” influence amongst the Shia faithful in Iran would undermine the Khomeinists. There are still people trying to argue this line - in spite of the voluminous evidence to the contrary.

This has always struck me as at best a nonsensical piece of wishful thinking - especially in the light of Sistani’s apparently uncoerced conversion to interventionism in June 2003. I’d appreciate it if you could discuss this issue.

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By Wallsy, December 4, 2005 at 4:54 am Link to this comment
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For an even clearer synthesis of events since the beginning of the war, in combination with Cole’s excellent piece above, I would recommend that you read “Crude Designs”, a British report on the real reasons for going into Iraq, namely, Oil and Profit (economic hegemony).

When I read Cole’s piece following the report, I immediately experienced an epiphany regarding the function of estbalishing (con)fedral regions in Iraq. Indeed, it would appear that the dissolution of Iraq as a national entity in favour of ethnically coloured regions, serves the purpose of weakening any bargaining power Iraqis may have had in the face of the imminent privatisation of Iraq’s oil resources and also of keeping these new regions busy with the indigenous insrugency, the members of which comprise those Iraqis likely to be left out of future oil profits. This does not mean, however, that Washington’s Iraqi yay-sayers gain in the long term either since so-called the PSAs lock Iraqi oil resources into 40-year irrevocable contracts, the consequences of which we can only guess at, at this stage. Personally, I believe that this ostensible form of divide and conquer strategy will suit the short-term purposes of the neocons but will ultimately destroy Iraq. Now, couple that with what has emerged as the new power brokers in Iraq and we have an interesing new from of “stability” forming. Indeed, if Iran supports SCIRI’s and DAWA’s support of the constituion and thereby Bremer’s Trojan horse, Washington will inevitably acquiesce in order to further its plans for profiteering in the future. I can’t waait to see how Bush and Blair lie their way through Iraq’s ultimate desecularisation when, in the next few years, we witness the inevitable human rights crimes arising from a fundamentalilst state(let) in Iraq.

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By Ed, December 4, 2005 at 1:03 am Link to this comment
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Where is your Proof?

Or is this all just Conjecture and Opinion, as is 99% of ALL Liberal “news”.

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By Ace Loves Gary, December 4, 2005 at 12:05 am Link to this comment
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Thanks for the post Professor Cole. Very informative.

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By baby-puppy, December 3, 2005 at 11:00 pm Link to this comment
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Damn this is an excellent piece Mr. Cole. Straight out of the history books of the future. Should be required reading for some of our Senators and Congressmen, and yes even the State Dept.  Thank you.

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By bakho, December 3, 2005 at 9:18 pm Link to this comment
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The initial Bush slogan was “shock and awe”.  Bush planned to unleash a military force so mighty none would oppose the political solution Mr Bush wished to impose:  a democratic secular non-Baath government friendly to US interests and especially US oil companies.  However, the military can achieve limited objectives and political objectives must be achieved by diplomacy. 

Mr Bush achieved all his possible military objectives in toppling Saddam in 2003.  Since then he has met political failure.  Mr Bush will continue to meet political failure because he believes the US military can solve his political problems in Iraq.  Only a concerted political effort can solve the problems of Iraq. 

The US is stuck in Iraq with no good options to leave because Mr Bush is committed to his military solution.  Mr Bush has FAILED to take those political steps that would be necessary to ease the US troops out of Iraq.  Until Mr Bush understands that the US military is not the answer and that the troops need to be withdrawn, none of the necessary political steps to accomplish withdrawal will be made. 

We are told Mr Bush is stubborn and he does not take contradiction, bad news or constructive criticism very well.  We are screwed.

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By JM, December 3, 2005 at 7:44 pm Link to this comment
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My thoughts are reflected in the previous comments.  Except this.  The PNAP people, with their arrogant vision that only they understand global politics, were not seasoned by input from any other knowledgeable source. Consequently, they egged Bush and his supporters into something that even Bush’s father was too savvy not to try. The main problem is simply GWB’s gullibility. I’ll always have to wonder if GHWB tried to talk him out of it and he plugged his ears and said “La la la la, I can’t HEAR you!”

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By Floyd Vaughn, December 3, 2005 at 7:29 pm Link to this comment
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I agree whole-heartedly with Larry Uzarski,it seems as if every day we have to deal with yet another mistake and the funny thing about it,is Americans should live up to their right to vote,and do something about this mess.

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By Orlo Makrovskovitchewsky, December 3, 2005 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment
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Thank you, Mr. Cole, for this englightening article. It blows the pants off of every other explanation I’ve heard about the war. I object to the notion by other commenters that the religious right is creating a theocracy in the U.S. These scum are not truly religious. They merely use religion to dupe the a shockingly large number of dull, working-class Americans into supporting the largest theft of tax dollars in world history.

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By Tug, December 3, 2005 at 6:24 pm Link to this comment
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Nicely done, Professor.  Shout this one from the hilltops - these guys (the Bush Administration) are just simply incompetent.

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By susan pierce, December 3, 2005 at 6:18 pm Link to this comment
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Thank you for this fantastic article by Juan Cole. It contains so much important information. Would that every American could/would read it.

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By ali, December 3, 2005 at 3:18 pm Link to this comment
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excuse me ramakrishna, you suggest that muslims are religious fanatics. thanks for the gross generalisation, but you can keep your ignorant views to yourself.

The shias winning is not neccessarily a bad thing, seeing how their country is in such a bad state, they will be forced to sell that oil at the prices the west want, simply to survive!

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By Kathy, December 3, 2005 at 2:56 pm Link to this comment
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I think there is a 4th explanation for the Bush invasion.  His father was embarrassed there.  Sadam Hussein, by remaining in power, remained a thorn in the side of Bush the First.  (The tile picture of Bush I on the floor of one of the palaces is a particularly graphic representation of this.)  Bush II is avenging daddy.  All the rhetoric, cooked intellegence, and especially the incompetent execution of the occupation, are manifestations of this.  Psychology trumps reason, and we are now watching the unfolding of Greek tragedy, once again.

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By Ar, December 3, 2005 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment
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Tom Jantzen lists three possible real reasons for the war: 1) The Bushies had secret information that justified it, 2), the true reasons could not be disclosed for political reasons, or 3) The Bushies didn’t know what they were doing, couldn’t assess the ramifications and started the war based on ideological/religious grounds. He concludes that 3) was the reason.

Actually, it was all of the above. They obviously had information not available to the public, the real reasons for the war could never be disclosed publicly—wars never are—and they simply didn’t have any idea of what they were doing or what they would unleash.

They didn’t have any idea of what they were doing once they started it either, and if there were ever any chances of achieving positive results from it their colossal incompetence has lost them forever.

You’d probably have to go back to 1941, when Hitler invaded Russia without even making any contingency plans for fighting in the Russian winter, because he was so certain it would be over by then, to match the boneheaded decisions of the Bushies. But at least Hitler used all available forces in the attack.

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By Steve C, December 3, 2005 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment
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Ah…The irony of it all. Great post Professor Cole.
As I see it both Bush and Bin Laden are losers in this game. I’m sure that Bin Laden had hoped that he could sucker us into a costly war in Afghanistan and bring us down ala the USSR. Bush II thought he could increase American hegamony in the Middle East by invading Iraq. Bin Laden got his wish in dragging the US into a costly war, but, it happened in the wrong country! Now the Shiites are in power from Lebonon to Afghanistan, thus depriving Bin Laden of his caliphate over the entire Middle East and Bush cotrol of the same. I remember the talking heads discussing the “unintended consequences” of invasion before the war. Now I think we are beginning to see some of them.

I’m not very familiar with Middle Eastern history, but, it seems to me that the last 500 to 600 years has been turned on it’s head in the area. What this portends I do not know. I hope in the near future people who are familiar with the area and the culture can address this issue because I am sure what has happened over the last 4 years is going to have a major impact for a long time to come.

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By Charles Martel, December 3, 2005 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment
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I agree with all the facts presented by Juan Cole. But I strongly disagree with his logic. Bush is a religious fundamentalist himself. He didn’t mistakenly help religious fundamentalists in Iraq. He did it deliberately. It’s a great victory for him and for all those (in the US and in Iraq) who oppose atheism. You can read more about my opinion about Juan Cole’s article here: http://charles-martel.blogspot.com/2005/12/illogical-cole.html

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By left-coast, December 3, 2005 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment
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We must remember that Bush is not in charge.  He never has been and never will be.  His vice-president selected himself and imposed his cadre of fellow-travelers on an incompetent and pliable moron.

It is certain, from what little we know of the energy policy meetings, that the primary reason for invading Iraq had to do with oil.

It is also likely that these over the hill cold-warriors thought they could emulate the British colonial model for governing Iraq, thus their willingness and ignorance in meeting with and including the parties they did.

They failed however to fully read the history books, extracting only what suited their purpose and deluded themselves into thinking they would do better because of their ideological superiority.

The folly in Iraq is the logical conclusion of their arrogance and greed.  Unfortunately it is the soldiers on the ground, our citizens, and the stability of the world that will be paying the price.

We can not just hope for the impeachment of Bush, we must take down the entire political machine that subverts the constitution.

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By Mike, December 3, 2005 at 1:18 pm Link to this comment
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It is about time, we as Americans stood up and took responsibility for electing Bush as a president. Even if you argue that he was not elected and he stole the presidency, you have to admit we put him in close enough a race to do what he did. And then we elected him again. Given what we knew, I can not comprehend how this happened.
When you elect an idiot and make him ‘the most powerful man alive’, what do you expect?!!!
We have lost more freedon here in the US than the Iraqis will ever dream of gaining.

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By George McJimsey, December 3, 2005 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment
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Excellent article. As usual, Bush has constructed the worst possible outcome. Our only chance for an honorable exit would have been to strike our own deal with Iran and Syria and get out. Now the Shiites in Iraq will strike the deal and Iran’s influence will increase and the USA will be left in the lurch. It is hard to see anything good from this: pressure on Jordan and the Palestinians against Israel, new bases for al-queda against Saudi Arabia; more massacres - of Sunnis and Kurds. I just hope we all remember who started this.

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By julia, December 3, 2005 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment
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Magix: I think there is real concern that without us the Sunni will take power at least in the Baghdad area because they have the martial traditions.

I don’t know if they could move into the south, this is a more elaborate operation and needs logistics.  And in addition to the Shiite militias they could face Iranians with heavy weapons.

This could be an open sore that draws in the middle east.  I fear that we could become enforcers for the Shia as they build force.  This conception is already strong in the middle east (I believe) and could worsen our relationships, seriously worsen them with other Arab countries.  Countries which have the power to shut down the world economy.

I am glad that Bush at least admitted that the insurgency was primarily Iraqi.  This is a real, if small step in the direction of a policy that admits the existence of militias, ethnic divides, divides within groups, massive crime, massive corruption and a large number of other problems, each of which is sufficient to break democracy in a third world country.

And of course democracy is not what we want, but they want.  I believe the Bush administration fell into the same warm fuzzy thinking that they accuse naive multi culturalists of, that we all share a set of basic values and differences are superficial.

And of course some on the right share the opposite view, that these people are so different, the best thing to do is kill them.

Only if these recieve attention do they become priorities.

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By Howard Garrett, December 3, 2005 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment
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This report is like cool water on a hot day. Our media and politicians have totally ignored the historical and cultural realities that always and inevitably trump our “superpower” status that we are so proud of. Thank you Mr. Cole for this examination of the actual reality. Would you agree that in fact there is no longer a country that can be called Iraq? Rather, now there are three separate countries?

Would it be possible to provide a “prequel” to this story by going back about a hundred years to pre-WWI, to see how the Baathists, Kurds and Shiites related to one another, and how that was shaken up by the Brits after WWI? Memories in the mideast go back hundred of years and those previous realities are still powerful in today’s world.

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By SteinL, December 3, 2005 at 12:21 pm Link to this comment
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If it wasn’t a grand tragedy for the history books, played out in real life, we would all be having a laugh at the ludicrous plot unraveled before our eyes. Dario Fo couldn’t have concocted anything as unlikely as what Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith and Cheney came up with.

The U.S., and the world, will be paying the price for decades for this folly.

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By Bill, December 3, 2005 at 10:55 am Link to this comment
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This article should be appearing in Time or Newsweek (or 20/20 or Dateline) so it can reach a wider audience. Public ignorance, especially on the bigger historical picture given here, continues to empower the administration’s near-pathological lying.

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By LARRY UZARSKI, December 3, 2005 at 8:48 am Link to this comment
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THE BUSH CRIME FAMILY:
Has done it again. They have managed to get themselves in a pile of _____ that has backfired and will continue to do. Bush has got to be the most stupid person on this earth. I look forward to the day he is impeached.

Larry Uzarski

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By magix, December 3, 2005 at 8:39 am Link to this comment
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As always, your pieces provide me with significant new insight into the war as well as the entire region.  Thank you.

My Marine corporal son served his second Iraq tour in Ramadi. A grunt, he barely survived to return home last March.  His own, politically unsophisticated perspective is that the Baathists will regain power, because as he sees it, they are the only ones that care enough.

What have we done…?

How do we get out of this mess?

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By ed_finnerty, December 3, 2005 at 7:40 am Link to this comment
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Tom

I was in the 3 camp until Tony Blair and Colin Powell threw in with the pro-invasion group.  I assumed that they had seen the secret intelligence.  In retrospect, I guess all they saw was a future as outsiders which scared them into allegiance.

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By C.M. Ramakrishna, December 3, 2005 at 4:55 am Link to this comment
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Why theocracy in Iraq only, George W. Bush, with his religious right conservatives, is laying the foundation for theocracy in our own country.  Once the Supreme Court is lined with religious conservative justices, even dictatorship may be declared constitutional in the name of national security.  Right now, how much money and time we are wasting on conservative religious issues like anti-abortion, anti-gay and anti-euthanasia, neglecting many urgent social issues like poverty, education and healthcare.  In religious fanaticism, we are no better than Muslims.

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By Tijer, December 3, 2005 at 3:08 am Link to this comment
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How about “How Bush Created a Theocracy in the US” ?

It seems like practically every leading figure in the administration have to be some sort of twice-born christian-follower, personally endowed by the spirit of God.

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By Tom, December 2, 2005 at 8:24 pm Link to this comment
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The plan to invade Iraq was completed long before the attack on September 11 provided the specious justification. It is extremly unlikely that the people who drafted the plan were ignorant of the ethnic and religious dynamics within Iraq. Therefore, it must be assumed that the most likely outcome; i.e, a Kurdish state, a Shite state and a Sunni state was anticipated and desired.  This is not to say that high level personnel in the Bush Administration were not duped.

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By Brian Williams, December 2, 2005 at 7:39 pm Link to this comment
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Tom Janzen offers three possible reasons for the disastrous bushista invasion of Iraq.  I submit that the real reasons were and continue to be a combination of 2, (drive for oil, empire) and 3, (incompetence driven by religious and political delusion). 

And I add another and extremely compelling reason:  the fast-forwarding of arms sales.    It is a shamefully EVIL fact that the USA is far and away the world’s largest and most technololgically innovative arms merchant.  Basically, WE GOTTA KEEP MAKING MARKETS FOR OUR MAIN PRODUCTS: “WHD” or ‘weapons of human destruction”.  So we need wars!  If people die, they die.  Business is business. 

Welcome to the current Shiva aspect of the Godhead! (this last for Hindu cosmology buffs).

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By jock gunter, December 2, 2005 at 7:39 pm Link to this comment
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Because oil is NEVER mentioned, it has to be the main reason for the invasion: to create a “friendly and reasonable supplier” of oil from the country with the 2nd highest proven reserves after Saudi. But ironically, it looks as if al Qaeda will end up with great influence in western Iraq—just a short commute from the Saudi oilfields.

Not only has the 2nd biggest potential oil supplier been plunged in to chaos for the forseeable future, the 1st oil supplier—Saudi—has been placed in much greater danger than ever before. And, if you remember, one of Osama’s main goals is to topple the house of Saud in his homeland.

Nice work, Bushies! - Soon, it will be out of those SUV’s and onto your bicycles!

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By guillaume, December 2, 2005 at 5:57 pm Link to this comment
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Great piece of information, thank you!  Westerners always get a bad bargain in the Bazaar.  Why did Bush’s handlers think they could possibly understand the intricacies of political horse trading in the Middle East?  I am not sure which is worse, the lies, the arrogance or the callousness of the administration in the face of the slaughter?

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By wolly, December 2, 2005 at 2:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

tragedy meet hubris

Dude! where’s my Power of Pride bumper Sticker?

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By Grim, December 2, 2005 at 1:48 pm Link to this comment
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Losing a few legions in the northern forests seems tame by comparison. I’m still in denial that somehow a Democratic victory in 2008 will magically restore this nation to a pre-GWB state. At the very moment they tried to boldly demonstrate the actions of a world-striding imperial colossus, they burned decades worth of soft power, moral standing, goodwill and influence that doomed their efforts with their arrogance. It sucks to live a bad cliche.

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By Tom Janzen, December 2, 2005 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment
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The most troubling aspect of the Bush Administration’s decision for an Iraq invasion and occupation is that the most probable outcome of such an invasion, as described by Mr Cole, certainly should have been understood by the Bush Administration at the time it was taking this momentous decision. Most informed and reasoning persons, even those outside government (see, B. Scowcroft and R. Scheer), certainly understood this was the most probable outcome at that time, why wouldn’t the Bush Administration? None of the reasons given for the invasion seemed to add up as favoring invasion.  This resulted in the conclusion of most informed reasoning persons that either:

1. The Bush Administration had some very credible classified intelligence which could not be disclosed, of such great weight that it would support justify a high stakes gamble in the face of the most probable outcome,
2.  The true reason for the invasion could not be disclosed for political reasons since the publicly stated reasons could not be reconciled with the most probable outcome (thus the speculation that the reason for invasion was for oil, empire, etc.), or
3. the Bush Administration simply did not know what it was doing, was so incompetent it had no way to assess or desire to understand the most probable outcome, and the decision was taken soley on unexamined ideological/religious grounds. 

When the invasion occurred, I assumed either of the first two possibilities were most likely.  I am now convinced that, sadly, it appears the third is most probable. Sadly because, at the least, it does not auger well that the Bush Administration has the skill and knowledge to depart the region with our national security being greater, or even equal to, what it was before the invasion for a very long time and, as Senator Kennedy predicted, at a very high cost in blood and treasure.

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By Billmon, December 2, 2005 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment
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Unintended, meet consequences.

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