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The recent experiences of a Middle East blogger and activist
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I don't know if you're familiar with a blog called "Rantings of a Sandmonkey", but it is, well was, written by an Egyptian blogger and activist. In fact, a libertarian in a very non-libertarian place. I've read it, off and on, for a couple of years and enjoyed his insight into the reforms taking place in Egypt.

He's recently decided that continuing his blog was not in his best security interest since he was seeing a pretty severe crackdown on dissidence. He has since chosen to go underground. The blog Atlas Shrugs got an exclusive interview with him and he said some revealing things which I found to be quite interesting.

First, his reason for taking down his blog:
SANDMONKEY: "Any kind of democratic reform in the country [Egypt] for the past 3 years has been rolled back specifically because there is no more pressure coming from Washington anymore."

ATLAS: Why? What happened to the pressure in Washington?

SANDMONKEY: You know what happened to the pressure in Washington. The Democrats won the Congress. There is no more pressure coming from Bush because he is not able to push people anymore to do those things. He is not able to push the Egyptian government anymore because the American public is suddenly not interested in reforming the Middle East because of what's going on in the Iraq. So suddenly the Egyptian government is not afraid of the American pressure. They are doing whatever they want to do. They are beating up demonstrators, they are cracking down on activists, they are changing the constitution, and eroding civil liberties once and for all and they are using proxies to take down bloggers.
Now agree or disagree, that's his perception of why he's in danger of ending up in prison. In reality just the fact that the Democrats won Congress most likely has had little to do with new pressure in Egypt.

So how, you ask, does he arrive at the conclusion that his problem stems from the fact that the Democrats won Congress? Well that's to be found in the next exchange, and it really isn't about the fact that the Democrats won Congress, but what they did after they won it that's significant. It is all about signals sent and received by people who had no business sending them.

Beginning with a question about Steny Hoyer meeting with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Sandmonkey talks about what has happened in the region since the '06 election and specifically about the Pelosi visit to Syria:
Atlas: Where you shocked when Hoyer met with the Muslim Brotherhood?

SANDMONKEY: Let me tell you something. I was in Turkey a couple of weeks ago and I met a couple of Syrian activists. They one thing they told me that was really funny about the Pelosi visit. After Pelosi came to Syria two things happened. People on Syrian TV were saying, "We forced the Americans to knock on the Damascus gate!" Sort of like an admission that we messed things up in Iraq so much that America had to come and beg for their help.

But the day after Pelosi's visits there were immediate arrests of Syrian activists. That was the fruit she yielded. "Oh the Americans came over and they said they have a different foreign policy and they're more interested in placating Bashar's ego." And he went out and got [arrested] everyone he wanted because he knew he had an ally in Washington that wouldn't pressure him as much.

ATLAS: Isn't that disgusting?

SANDMONKEY: Yeah, but what are you going to do?

ATLAS: We have to educate the American people. You think the American people know this?

SANDMONKEY: No, but do they even care at this point? I don't think they are interested in the discussion any more. There are people that have made up their mind, they think we need to placate the dictators because America is wrong and everyone else is always right. That's how they operate.

SANDMONKEY: What they are doing is completely irresponsible.

ATLAS: THe world is watching.........

SANDMONKEY: Of course the world is watching and the world is gloating.

Everyone wanted Bush to lose the 2004 elections. If he had lost 2004 we would not have had our push for democracy in 2005. The moment Bush won again that's when Mubarak said maybe we should have democracy because Bush didn't go away. And had Bush gone away there wouldn't be democracy right now ...... like there wouldn't be two years of freedom and fresh air that we were able to breathe and that' we've had.

After 2006 [elections] the change went in the opposite agenda
.
Yesterday there was discussion in the comment section of my post entitled "An Iraqi's Plea" which essentially said we shouldn't worry about whether our enemies think they are victorious in Iraq (from the same people, in part, who've been so worried about what the rest of the world thinks of us). That it really doesn't matter in the big scheme of things. That we will know they really didn't win (as if that some sort of antidote to their claim they did). It is their assertion that we who believe that a loss in Iraq would be devastating to our image and our national security don't understand what little effect it would really have.

Well, as the Sandmonkey demonstrates, it does indeed have an effect when they see the US in a weak position or a perceived weak position. And the Pelosi visit, as any number of people warned would happen, has been taken as that sign of weakness. It was a foreign policy mistake by someone who had no business engaging in foreign policy. The signal given by Pelosi, et al, was that the US was interested in placating a thug. The signaled promise that changes were in the wind was enough to free Assad from fearing any real consequences for his actions. And it has apparently been enough to see Egypt reconsider it's reformist agenda.

For the Sandmonkey, that's been devastating:
SANDMONKEY: Security people began to ask more and more questions about me. I ignored it. But I don't think about stuff like that. You can die any day. Is that going to stop you from living? No. So they can crack down and and they can get me any day. There is no point in worrying about that. But when are on my doorstep, and coming down on me and you see people in Egypt getting arrested left and right for no reason and being charged with the most ridiculous charges..... the majority of the Egyptian blogosphere is becoming silent. People that were vocal before are censoring themselves big time.

ATLAS: Who are they arresting and for what?

SANDMONKEY: They're arresting activists. People they don't like. They are threatening to arrest any journalists with the new terrorism law who might voice any opinion that contradicts with the government. They are calling anybody the defends that is deemed a terrorist as a terrorist collaborator and should be thrown in jail. And the thing is there is no definition of "terrorist." Anybody can be a terrorist. They actually stated that trying to pressure the government is a form of terrorism. Anybody that talks bad about the government ...........lawsuits left and right for "defaming Egypt's reputations."
I don't expect those who like to pretend that Pelosi's visit had no effect to acknowledge this at all. They'll most likely be moved to attack the Sandmonkey as some sort of extremist or drama queen (without knowing a thing about the specific threats to him personally). I'm certain they'll not be inclined to address his specific points about why activists such as himself and those in other Middle Eastern countries are on the wrong end of crack downs and arrests in the wake of those visits, however.

His experience and testimony is one of the reasons why allowing our enemies in Iraq to credibly claim victory would be a disaster. It would not only endanger our national security, but it would probably lead to snuffing any democratic reform trying to take hold in these lands. It is those sorts of reforms which are critical to any long term future solution to radical Islam. As is apparent, shadow Secretary of State Pelosi did much more damage to that effort than good.

(HT: Larry Mitchell)
 
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This gets the award for the most bizarre twist of logic I’ve seen. Let’s see, we cause pain and suffering to our military people and to innocents in Iraq because we don’t want enemies to claim victory (even though they will no matter what we do), and the reason that’s bad is because an Egyptian blogger claims that the Democrats winning Congress reduced pressure on Egypt, and the reason that claim is made is because of some things Democrats have said...

Yikes! When you have to twist turn flip and wiggle that much to try to defend your point that’s a sign that perhaps you’re on the wrong track and need to rethink your position!

Nothing in the post supports any claim that what "enemies" use as propaganda will have a concrete impact on reforms in Mideast countries or on our national security. Nothing. You are left with a non-reason for supporting a policy that has been failing for four years, defended by such bizarre patched together assertions that you destroy the credibility of your own argument.

Now there is a reason to take Iraq seriously: stability in Iraq is important for both the people of the region, and for regional stability. That is important for the world economy due to oil. Those are real, and far more important than whatever silly propaganda Bin Laden toots from his village in remote Pakistan. And my argument remains: this policy cannnot achieve those ends, and thus we need a change in policy. Iraq has to become a regional/international project or else things will get worse. Propaganda is mostly irrelevant; regional stability is not.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Those are real, and far more important than whatever silly propaganda Bin Laden toots from his village in remote Pakistan.
People are murdered every time Bin Laden or whoever issues those "silly propaganda toots"
Iraq has to become a regional/international project or else things will get worse.
It already IS an international project. You just get rankled because Iran and Syria aren’t involved (and justly so).
Propaganda is mostly irrelevant;
Hogwash. Remember the "weak horse" stuff? That was "propaganda" also. Irrelevant I suppose. This isn’t a matter of being jaded and seeing through some slick PR campaign cooked up by an expensive firm.
regional stability is not
Ah, back to the same old sh*t that got us in trouble in the first place I see. And would we to "stabalize" it, I’m sure in 5-10-15 years when the cancer we placed there begins to fester, you’d be among the chorus busting out "but we helped him, it’s our fault blah blah blah" much like the left kept touting how we did this to help Saddam in the 80s blah blah blah.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Iraq has to become a regional/international project or else things will get worse.
Speaking of bizarre logic.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
It already IS an international project. You just get rankled because Iran and Syria aren’t involved (and justly so).
Don’t worry, ultimately Iran and Syria will be involved — the writing is on the wall. Also, by international project, I mean (I’ve gone into this with more detail in my blog during the last week) that the international community has to come together and make Iraq a priority, and that will require the US recognizing that we cannot ’fix’ Iraq.

The fact is that supporters of the Iraq war have been wrong for the last four years. They were right that defeating Saddam would be easy, but almost every claim and policy since then has been proven wrong. How long does one have to continue failing before one decides that it’s time for a complete change in approach? I know it’s not easy to admit that given the intense emotion and partisanship around this debate.

For my part, I’ll admit that I’ve shifted my views in response to arguments made by those on the pro-war side. Before I essentially argued that if the US left the various sides in Iraq would no longer have the US to blame and try to use, and they would be forced to deal with each other. I’ve become convinced that while this may happen, the chance it will not is great enough that we can’t just let Iraq fester. I consider this too important an issue to get caught up in the partisan rhetoric and politicization of debate — differences of opinion are good if the various sides listen to each other and are willing to adjust their perspectives as evidence warrants.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
differences of opinion are good if the various sides listen to each other and are willing to adjust their perspectives as evidence warrants.
True, indeed. It’s the perspective adjustment tools I have a problem with. KaBoom!
 
Written By: Arcs
URL: http://
Also, by international project, I mean (I’ve gone into this with more detail in my blog during the last week) that the international community has to come together and make Iraq a priority, and that will require the US recognizing that we cannot ’fix’ Iraq.
And what will the international community do to convince those clots to stop killing each other? What will the international community do to convince the various groups in Iraq to start trusting the political process?
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
And what will the international community do to convince those clots to stop killing each other? What will the international community do to convince the various groups in Iraq to start trusting the political process?
I’ve gone over this in the past — essentially they can provide the legitimacy and the amount of resources that the US can’t. Iran and Saudi Arabia (as well as other actors in the region) can work to avoid a regional civil war and work to end the ethnci violence. They also can aid a real crack down on Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is hated by Iraqi Shi’ites, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and most Iraqi Sunnis. They won’t have a chance. The UN can also sponsor a multinational security force that has the legitimacy that the American force lacks (almost 2/3 of Iraqis think that it’s OK to attack Americans — legitimacy is defined as being accepted by the public).

Now, one reason American policy can’t succeed on its current path is that corruption undercuts all efforts (I describe that in my blog today — failure to stop corruption was a fatal flaw in the post-war efforts to provide stability, and in fact it was corruption which caused me to realize by late 2003 that the effort to achieve the Administration’s goals for Iraq was doomed). I don’t think internationalization can fix the problem of corruption at this point, but neither can our presence.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I hate the Mubarak regime and want the US to cut funding to it. Yesterday. I’m a liberal. I feel bad for the Sandmonkey. But he’s painting a simplistic picture of the U.S. political system that rather completely, and unrealistically, pretends that Bush’s own choices are related to Congressional Democratic actions.

The truth is that Bush admin dropped pressure on Mubarak long before the elections of november 2006. The reasons have nothing to do with Democrats, and they have everything to do with sucking up to Sunni dictatorships to build regional pressure against Iran. When you want more than one objective - such as controlling W.M.D’s and democratization - at the same time from different groups of people, some of whom you need to use against others of them, you either pick one objective and stay with it, or you get nothing. Bush chose Iran’s nuke program over pushing for democracy in the Sunni world.

Meanwhile, to have a prayer of ending the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, we need Assad’s cooperation in Syria. We cannot live without it. End. The Iraq Study Group knew it. Democrats and liberals would love to pressure Syria to change. But we can’t do it while we simultaneously fight in Iraq, because Syria has the potential to scr*w us in our overexposed and vulnerable a** in Iraq. Which is basically what they’re been doing. Are doing.

Pelosi’s trip to Syria was about salvaging Iraq. Democratizing Syria has to wait, because as bad as Syria is, it’s not on the level of disaster and emergency as Iraq.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
And what will the international community do to convince those clots to stop killing each other? What will the international community do to convince the various groups in Iraq to start trusting the political process?

Mark, here’s an example of a coalition that cannot happen because the U.S. Administration hates it and would rather fight with Iran over control of Maliki:

http://cernigsnewshog.blogspot.com/2007/04/zen-and-art-of-iraqi-reconcilliation.html

I don’t know it this would work, but it’s the best scenario I’ve ever heard for a functional post-Iraq government.

It’s won’t work because

a) we hate Sadr
b) we like Maliki
c) we haven’t made nice with Iran, who will spoil it
d) our assets in Iraq don’t want to be sidelined by a Sadr-Baathist-Alawi coalition

Synova, if you’re out there, this is what I’m talking about. Every day. Every year. All the time. We warp the dynamics.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I don’t expect those who like to pretend that Pelosi’s visit had no effect to acknowledge this at all.

I acknowledge that it’s at least plausible, although I have no confirmation that it occured. But see above comment: Syria’s cooperation in stemming the bloodshed in Iraq simply has higher priority than revolutionizing the domestic scene in Syria. We don’t have enough leverage over Syria to make that happen, and they have too many ways to hurt us in response.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Yeah, because working WITH the ciminally insane is such a great idea...

Moron.
 
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
I think the belief that somehow we can pressure or ignore Syria and Iran will be the next neo-conservative assumption to implode. The longer this goes on it becomes more clear that there can be no solution without the support and involvement of the neighbors. The Saudis need to play a role too.

Ahmadinejad has been weakened because of his unnecessarily provocative statements. Israel and Syria have hinted that dialogue is possible. Iran and Syria have their own vulnerabilities and interests. At the very least, you don’t know what’s possible until you try — talking is not the same as reaching an agreement after all. The strategic position of the US in not strong enough to push them aside or ignore them.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Sandmonkey is not painting a simplistic picture of how US government works because he’s not describing how it *works* he’s describing how it’s *viewed*.

 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
In what way and in who’s estimation has Ahmadinejad been weakened?

Unnecessarily provocative is a middle eastern virtue. It shows you’re strong and fierce and someone other people ought to be careful of. So what did he say that didn’t actually play to his strengths?
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
(Ahmadinejad’s biggest *real* political problem is making the mistake of telling young Iranian men they could no longer get their monobrows waxed.)
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
I’ve gone over this in the past — essentially they can provide the legitimacy and the amount of resources that the US can’t. Iran and Saudi Arabia (as well as other actors in the region) can work to avoid a regional civil war and work to end the ethnci violence. They also can aid a real crack down on Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is hated by Iraqi Shi’ites, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and most Iraqi Sunnis. They won’t have a chance. The UN can also sponsor a multinational security force that has the legitimacy that the American force lacks (almost 2/3 of Iraqis think that it’s OK to attack Americans — legitimacy is defined as being accepted by the public).
What color is the sky in your fantasy world?

I guess Iran and others can "prevent a civil war" by gobbling up large chunks of Iraq. If you think they’ll actually crackdown on Al Qaeda, you’re insne. The extent of the "crackdown" will be to make it clear to not operate in Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc. Woopee. And the fact that you use "UN" and "legitimacy" in the same sentence without irony is funny. Don’t ever mistake legitimacy for effectiveness again.

Oh, and legitimacy is defined as being accepted by the public? A far cry when you were arguing the legitimacy required being in compliance with "international law". Oh well, whatever is handy for your argument I suppose.

Criminey, written from the viewpoint of a fat, comfortable academic.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
What a surprise -
We have a guy, born in Egypt, living in Egypt and blogging, personally living and traveling in the Middle East telling us about how he perceives the changes to his own environment and why he thinks those changes occurred. He’s probably a little better educated than the average man on the street, he considers his government, and is interested in current national and international events and news.
One might think he might actually know what he’s talking about.

But of course...some of us are in a better position to know, pretty much for sure, he’s wrong.

One can but wonder what sort of expert one would have to be to be right, and what one’s credentials would have to be.
Such a person would probably have to have a name like....
Nancy Pelosi or... Jimmy Carter,
two probable examples of experts in Middle Eastern life and government who would be acceptable to some of us.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
The UN really doesn’t have any force that isn’t US anyhow. We end up paying the bill, both money and blood, far more than anyone else even with that little UN fig leaf of "multi-national" participation.

Recall the turf fighting in Indonesia over who was in charge. The US wasn’t trying to take over decisions about anyone elses aid resources but without the UN taking charge of *ours* they simply didn’t have any.

Better yet, how about the UN multi-national peace keeping force that was going to go to enforce a cease fire between the Palestinians and Israel. A bunch of countries said they’d send soldiers but specified that their soldiers were absolutely not allowed to fight anyone.

Which is typical.

It’s almost like that tree falling in a forest thing... if a country generously sends forces to help out but they aren’t allowed to actually *do* anything, were the forces ever actually sent?

 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
Well, Nancy is pretty picky who she meets with

She wouldn’t meet with Gen Petraeus on Iraq, but she will with Assad who uses it as a propaganda piece to beat up local activists. assnost seems ok with that however.

She won’t meet with the US’s strongest ally in South America but she goes out of her way to meet with Chavez.

Obama and Kerry are getting talking points from the truthers.

So who is running things for the democrats? Rosie?
 
Written By: cap joe
URL: http://
Chavez, Assad, hmmmm, who’s next? Castro? Kim Jong Il? Ahmadenijhad?
It’s a shame Stalin, Tito, Mao and Pol Pot are dead ain’t it?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I guess Iran and others can "prevent a civil war" by gobbling up large chunks of Iraq. If you think they’ll actually crackdown on Al Qaeda, you’re insne.
You don’t really understand the situation. The Iranians hate Al Qaeda, and they almost went to war against the Taliban a few years back. They do not want an al qaeda pesence in Iraq. Also, your argument is off base. Talking to Iran and working with other regional powers to get an agreement is not the same as simply letting Iran do whatever it wants.

And yes, in political science terminology legitimacy is defined by public acceptance. It is usually used to talk about governments (a government is legitimate if most of the populus accepts it), but can also be used to talk about occupation forces and the like.

Finally, just as the US has to change, so does the international community. They have to take collective responsibility if this is to work. So I’m not guaranteeing that we can internationalize this. I’m noting that it’s the best option to try because what we’re doing now only weakens us, does no real damage to terrorists, has led to a collapse of Iraqi society, drains our budget, overstretches our military, weakens us immensely, and shows no sign of success — even "success" defined all the way down to just leaving Iraq relatively stable. I seriously implore those who have been supporting this policy to ask yourselves some hard questions and think about whether or not your support at this point is more emotional, driven by a desire not to be wrong or not to have to admit the US can’t achieve this, or if it is really based on evidence.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Amen looker. It’s really limiting the number of people the Dems can go talk to...

Poor guys...

And Scott, you flaming moron, have you intentionally been ignoring every scrap of good news that comes out of Iraq?

Go look at Badger 6’s latest post.

I dare you.

But best lay down a tarp or something. I fear your head might go kaboom...

His fact and your anti-fact might cause one heck of an explosion...
 
Written By: Scott
URL: http://

In what way and in who’s estimation has Ahmadinejad been weakened?
For a course I teach I’ve been following closely Iranian politics (we did a full unit on Iran), and the news in recent months, even in the popular American press, show that Ahmadinejad is unpopular at home, and even conservatives in government think he is hurting Iran’s credibility with outlandish statements. His right wing allies did very poorly in local elections, and worse than expected in the important elections to the Council of Experts. In the recent showdown with Great Britain, the pragmatists essentially pressured him to give in — Iran dropped all demands and Britain had to neither apologize or change their actions. Before he announced the cave in to Britain, the lead negotiator, who is seen as a pragmatist, hinted that the episode would be over soon. It’s unlikely Ahmadinejad can win re-election in 2009, and he isn’t where power lies in Iran anyway.

Unnecessarily provocative is a middle eastern virtue. It shows you’re strong and fierce and someone other people ought to be careful of. So what did he say that didn’t actually play to his strengths?
As for another poster’s claims about "good news" from Iraq. Been there, done that. These stories of "good news" have been hyped for four years as some kind of proof of some major change. Yet it never happens. The credibility of those claiming "good news" has been shot.
You have a stereotyped view of the Middle East. Iranians especially have been very patient and conservative in their foreign policy. They know not to go too far, and have put themselves in a position (thanks in large part to our bungling in Iraq) to be a regional power. The Guardian Council and elites don’t want Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric to endanger that. Also, remember that Persian culture is very different than Arab culture.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The dots that everyone here fails to connect, address, or argue with, is that in the absence of needing all these dictatorships to help us with The War, we could more easily take steps to pressure them to change their systems.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I think the belief that somehow we can pressure or ignore Syria and Iran will be the next neo-conservative assumption to implode.
Which is it? Neo-conservatism must assume one or the other, cannot be both. Or perhaps will be calling any failure with Iran and Syria as a failure of neo-conservatism, no matter of how it comes about - this would be more likely if Scott Erb was a biased commentator willing to apply a label of failure to a group of people, rather than an academic able to judge the merits or otherwise of a set theory (I am sure it is just a mistake in defining neo-conservatism so very poorly).
The dots that everyone here fails to connect, address, or argue with, is that in the absence of needing all these dictatorships to help us with The War, we could more easily take steps to pressure them to change their systems.
Sort of, but without The War any pressure you placed on a Saddam like dictator would be theoretical only. They would not believe you capable of taking concrete steps against them, because you would have not ever done so.

Of course this does not apply to Mubarak or Musharraf or the Sauds, because they are allies, but rather to Assad, Gaddafi & Almadeenajad. In the case of allies glasnost is correct, without The War it would be easier to pressure these regimes to reform. (As an aside this puts continuation of The War as being in Egypts, Pakistans & Saudis self-interest.)
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Yeah... The officers and soldiers actually IN Iraq have no idea what they are talking about...

I’d like a list of your students please, so I never make the mistake of hiring anyone who’s thought process have been in any way tained by your drooling idiocy...
 
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
we could more easily take steps to pressure them to change their systems.
Could we use the Milosivic/Hussein pressure, or would we stick with the currently effective Iran/Syria style pressure?

This whole pressuring them to change their systems thing - you know, you guys seem to be against us trying to establish a certain type of governement in Middle Eastern countries, and yet here you are suggesting we should pressure Middle Eastern countries into having certain types of government.


 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
You don’t really understand the situation. The Iranians hate Al Qaeda, and they almost went to war against the Taliban a few years back. They do not want an al qaeda pesence in Iraq.
And why the hell do you think that Iran wants a strong Iraq? If it was in Iran’s interests to have a stable Iraq, they would be working to make it so. They aren’t, so they don’t.

I don’t think that you understand anything.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
They have to take collective responsibility
Oooh, your favorite word
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
They have to take collective responsibility
Oooh, your favorite word
But only if that collective doesn’t actually include them...
 
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
And why the hell do you think that Iran wants a strong Iraq? If it was in Iran’s interests to have a stable Iraq, they would be working to make it so. They aren’t, so they don’t.

I don’t think that you understand anything.
You are simply wrong. Iran doesn’t want a pro-American Iraq, or an Iraq that aids US policy. Thus they have rather effectively thwarted our effort to create that kind of Iraq, and with the rise of Shi’ite dominance they have an Iraq that is potentially a future ally (most of the governing parties have leaders who were in exile in Iran). But they do not want al qaeda in Iraq, they do not want a Sunni insurgency to threaten Iraqi stability or regional stability. Iran was invited to the Arab League, had good talks with the Saudis (who uncharacteristically took the occasion to slam US policy) and appear very interested in avoiding things getting out of control. Ultimately they can do what we can’t.

As for your last comment — methinks thou doth protest too much.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I think the belief that somehow we can pressure or ignore Syria and Iran will be the next neo-conservative assumption to implode.

Which is it? Neo-conservatism must assume one or the other, cannot be both. Or perhaps will be calling any failure with Iran and Syria as a failure of neo-conservatism, no matter of how it comes about - this would be more likely if Scott Erb was a biased commentator willing to apply a label of failure to a group of people, rather than an academic able to judge the merits or otherwise of a set theory (I am sure it is just a mistake in defining neo-conservatism so very poorly).
Early on neo-conservatives thought we would have bases in Iraq and a very US-friendly government that would allow us to pressure Iran to change. Well, obviously that’s not happening! Lately they have been saying we could just ignore Iran in our efforts to bring stability to Iraq. That’s wrong too, and I think the Bush Administration is finally coming to realize the Iraq study group was right on this one.

As for the rest of what you write, you seem to want to craft an insult, but you weren’t quite able to pull it off. Try again.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The fact is that outside the United States, opinion about the USA is not monolithic, though the Left wants you to think it is.

There is one usual strain of foreign thinking, though: the US should be doing "more" for their pet causes.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
And now the Army has made in-theater blogging or even e-mailing without approval against the rules.

Funny thing, that, seeing as how military bloggers are controlled propaganda by the Army, censored and all that.

All problems of finding excuses not to read them are now solved. Yay!
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com

 
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