Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pissing Off Some Concerned Local Citizens, also Abu Dhabi

Couple things today, including sorting out the surge! Ready for fun times! I thought so.

> Most people don't really understand our current strategy in Iraq, which is understandable given that we're fed nothing but a steady stream of bullshit about "the surge," which is basically a Bush administration marketing campaign. The idea, I guess, was to somehow convince normal Americans that we could "surge" our way to victory, as if the Iraq war were one of traditional offenses and operations, as if one more push would break the insurgency and we could all go home.

There's a really perverse irony in this. Bush essentially used deliberately misleading traditional warfare imagery to sell a campaign that's as unconventional as it gets.

Here is our current strategy in a nutshell: Arm the people who used to be shooting at us, give them $10 a day, and call them "Concerned Local Citizens."

Now, when you explain that to most people, they go all outrage on you. Me? I thought it was fucking brilliant.

What Petraeus understands full well is that the US job at this point has little to do with stopping insurgents. The job is to effectively referee a civil war.

The CLCs, also sometimes called "Awakening Councils" or some variation thereof, are nominally mixed, but in reality they are almost totally comprised of former Sunni militants. Now, the thing about Sunni militants, is that they mostly fall into three camps: 1). Former members of the army/police under Sadam, 2). Normal Sunnis who joined up with Sunni militants when the shit hit the fan and 3). Asshole motherfuckers from out of town. Also crazy people.

Group 3 is what the Bush folks like to call "al Qaeda" or if they're feeling slightly more honest "al Qaeda in Iraq" or AQI. They also call themselves al Qaeda, even though they are unaffiliated with the real al Qaeda, as a ploy to get more asshole motherfuckers from out of town to come join up.

But the thing about groups 1 and 2 is, they mostly had decent lives under Sadam, and what many of them want is those lives back. And most of them hate the asshole motherfuckers from out of town, who seem to fight for the sake of unending jihad.

So the US said to those guys, "Look, stop the warmonger motherfuckers, protect your neighborhoods like you want to anyway, and we'll pay you for it and buy you guns."

If everything goes right, they eventually become indispensable, and are welcomed into the Iraqi army and police forces, and suddenly we've turned all the fighting types into friendly types.

Of course, if it fails you have an organized Sunni army ready to fight a proper civil war.

Whoops.

You know, the reason this whole al Qaeda/Taliban thing happened in the first place is because we armed a bunch of crazy people in Afghanistan and never let them know that we were their friends. They were the enemies of our enemies, so we armed them, but we never made friends out of them.

These "Concerned Local Citizens"? They're supposed to be our friends, and they're supposed to know it. And we're not going to bat for them? We're killing their guys because we think they're terrorists? Huh?

Maybe it's all been blown out of whack, but at this point we've seen so much similar shit go down that I believe them when they tell stories like this:

In the village of Zaab, west of the northern city of Kirkuk, police officials and witnesses said U.S. forces on Feb. 14 killed six relatives of an Awakening leader, Issa Muhsin al-Jubouri, and detained him and others. In an interview last week, after his release, he said U.S. soldiers had "raised their weapons in my face and shouted at me, 'Confess or I will shoot you.'

"They beat me and cursed me and made me face the wall, saying to me, 'You have exploited the Awakening to support the terrorists,' " Jubouri said. "I kept saying, 'You are mistaken, because I and my family have been victims of terrorists.' "

[Snip]

When asked about Jubouri's allegations, Maj. Brad Leighton, a U.S. military spokesman, replied: "It's combat. I would not expect our guys to be gentle when conducting an operation on a place where we suspect there are terrorists."


See, I believe Jubouri here. And if I don't trust our troops, how the hell are the Iraqis supposed to?

> I got really pissed off today having to write up this story from the New York Times.

Upshot: Abu Dhabi is buying stock in US companies. Which has, apparently "raised concern that these investors will wield their wealth for political as well as financial reasons."

Whose concerns? Does not say. Why do they think that? Does not say. In fact, the facts give every indication that Abu Dhabi is doing nothing but trying to make money. That they are pumping money into the US economy while doing so ought to be a good thing.

Instead, the Times keeps mentioning how "secretive" they are, as though it is a sovereign country's duty to report to everyone else how much money they have. Never said, but lurking at the edge of the discussion is the real reason this piece has come to light: Abu Dhabi is Arab.

I know! My god! Letting Arabs buy the banks! Next we'll pull out of Iraq and become the next France.

It was this same xenophobia that killed the Dubai ports deal, a really ugly moment for this country.

Listen, the United Arab Emirates is one of the most diverse nations in the world. It's a modern, industrialized vacation destination. These are, in short, not the people who want to blow us up. These are the people who want our economy to remain healthy, both to keep oil demand high, and because their currency is tied to the freaking dollar.

If we want to build trust in the Arab world, we need to, at the very least, be unafraid of dealing with the parts of it that don't totally suck.

> Prophesy about the 2008 race most likely to come true:

“There will be times in this campaign where people do and say stupid things,” said a McCain spokeswoman.

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