This is a very important statement, used by Tom Lasseter of Knight Ridder in a column about the polarization of the Iraqi army:
Thiab Abdul Hadi, a city council member in the western Sunni city of Fallujah, said that sentiment was held by most people in his town. "It is our duty to resist the (American) occupation because this occupier helped the militias enter our country," Hadi said. "The resistance is fighting the Americans because they back these militias."
My concerns, as stated recenty, are reinforced by the real beliefs of this city council member and his constituents. Sunni Arabs who distrust the political process in Iraq and who are fighting US forces are not "insurgents." The Sunnis will have a democratic part of the new parliament. They are a section of the Iraqi populace who are now part of the political process, and Zalmay Khalilzad has to get them to deal with their problems in the parliament.
Do you believe this man's statement?
"...only the Americans" benefit when Iraqis attack Iraqis, "so they will have an excuse to stay in Iraq."
- Muthana Abid, a member of the largest Sunni Arab political party to take part in recent efforts to form a new parliament, after five members of his party were murdered in an explosion at the party's office in Khalis, about 35 miles north of Baghdad. [source: WaPo]
It doesn't matter whether or not you believe his statement. He believes it, and so do his community members.
What leads so many Sunni Arabs to believe such things? We'll go back to Tom Lasseter:
The perception that different army units are tools of Shiite or Kurdish ambitions has been reinforced during the past two years as U.S. troops conducting offensives in western Iraq and in Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad teamed up with Iraqi soldiers and Interior Ministry police commandos who were mostly Shiites or Kurds.
It's Catch-22. President Bush claims that if our troops leave Iraq, there will be civil war. Meanwhile the U.S., simply by our presence in Iraq, is prolonging the insurgency by alienating the Sunnis in what is actually a sub-rosa civil war with Iraqi militias threatening to act out their own respective sectarian warfare (as Lasseter pointed out last week in the case of the Kurdish Peshmerga and Kirkuk). If this problem is ever going to be ironed out without Iraq falling to pieces, don't expect our troops to leave Iraq for decades.
There is a haunting Boston Globe headline from 2003.
"The more dangerous their nation gets, the more many Iraqis blame the Americans."
The people with the purple fingers represent hope. Every time an Iraqi politician is murdered, you can be sure that a little more faith, hope and trust is lost. Security needs still take precedence in Iraq over any other issue, almost three years after we (allegedly) set out to win Iraqi hearts and minds. We lost 844 Americans last year in Iraq, and countless Iraqis were killed - not only by US forces, but also by murderous attacks made on Iraqis by fellow Iraqis. What a tangled web of insecurity and doubt. While it's a no-brainer that the insurgency could never win a military victory over the U.S, it's the political war that we seem to be losing, elections notwithstanding.
This is going to take a hell of a long time - and we may not succeed. Our troops are endangered by potential failures of our foreign policy in Iraq. Overt US business interests ("ensuring" that our friends the Kurds and their Peshmerga control Kirkuk, which I'm not saying is bad or good - but the Sunnis can clearly see it, too..) seem to be in direct conflict with the military mission of seeking the solidarity of the Iraqi armed forces and the peaceful union of the new Iraq. Did it ever occur to you that Bush's "Plan for Victory" may be for Iraq - but the United States could wind up the big international loser? As Juan Cole predicted today for 2006, Saudi Arabia (the place where most of the 911 hijackers came from) will probably use the $160 billion windfall from high petroleum prices (which we paid for at the pumps) to strengthen its military and security forces, and to spread its rigid Wahhabi form of Islam; the Iraqi parliament will pass fundamentalist Muslim legislation; and the guerilla war will continue.
Really, though - I'm a hopeful person when I see something to be hopeful about.
New Years Eve Peace Vigil at Clinton Square, Syracuse, N.Y.
On New Years Eve afternoon, citizens of Central New York left the warmth of their homes, taking a break from holiday festivities to join in a collective resolution to end the Iraq War in the New Year.
The vigil was sponsored by Syracuse MoveOn and the Syracuse Peace Council. They gathered at Clinton Square under the holiday lights. When the chimes rang out 4 p.m. here in Central New York, 2006 began in war-torn Iraq.
Signs in Clinton Square - "War Has Not Made Us Safer"
Standing in the shadow of the Christmas creche in the city's public square, concerned citizens stood for an hour in solidarity with the thousands of peacemakers throughout the world who call for an end to the occupation of Iraq.
Vigil attendees brave the Syracuse cold to send their message
"The Syracuse Clinton Square New Years Eve Peace Vigil was an inspiring, memorable moment, right out of Norman Rockwell and Hallmark. Note the signs, the issues, the USA flags--flags that represent the hopes and dreams of us as a people, as a nation."
This is a must-read "reality-based" set of predictions from the learned Professor Cole. He rarely steers us wrong - and that's why it's important for us to study the predictions - and understand and anticipate the international challenges that we will likely face in the coming year. Radical partisans will ignore these likely scenarios and discount the Professor's intellect and intuition at the nation's peril.