About losing Basra Posted by: McQ
on Friday, April 25, 2008
If anything has come to typify the left's rush to declare any setback in Iraq, no matter how tiny or temporary, as proof the whole enterprise has collapsed, perhaps the "battle of Basra" best illustrates it. Quickly declared a loss for Maliki and the Iraqi government and a victory for al-Sadr, the left screamed about the inept Iraqis, the failure the ISF action and the poor quality of the troops, etc., etc, etc. Yet here we are, roughly a month after the action was initiated and the results?
Young women are daring to wear jeans, soldiers listen to pop music on their mobile phones and bands are performing at wedding parties again.
All across Iraq’s second city life is improving, a month after Iraqi troops began a surprise crackdown on the black-clad gangs who were allowed to flourish under the British military. The gunmen’s reign had enforced a strict set of religious codes.
Yet after three years of being terrified of kidnap, rape and murder – a fate that befell scores of other women – Nadyia Ahmed, 22, is among those enjoying a sense of normality, happy for the first time to attend her science course at Basra University. “I now have the university life that I heard of at high school before the war and always dreamt about,” she told The Times. “It was a nightmare because of these militiamen. I only attended class three days a week but now I look forward to going every day.”
“All these men in black [who imposed the laws] just vanished from the university after this operation,” said Ms Ahmed. “Things have completely changed over the past week.”
Raids are continuing in a few remaining strongholds but the Iraqi commander in charge of the unprecedented operation is confident that his forces will soon achieve something that the British military could not – a city free from rogue gunmen.
British and US officials acknowledge tentatively that a turning point has been reached. Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the British Army, made an unannounced visit to Basra over the weekend.
Local people are daring to hope that the dark days of death squads and kidnap are over, displaying the sort of optimism that was last seen when British forces arrived in 2003 with the false promise of a better life free from Saddam Hussein.
Driving through Basra in a convoy with the Iraqi general leading the Charge of the Knights operation, The Times passed Iraqi security forces manning checkpoints and patrolling the roads. Not a hostile shot was fired as the convoy turned into what was until the weekend the most notorious neighbourhood in the city. Hayaniya, a teeming slum, was a bastion for al-Mahdi Army, the main militia.
For the first time in four years local residents have been emboldened to stand up to the militants and are turning in caches of weapons. Army checkpoints have been erected across Basra and traffic police are also out in force.
The security forces have also torn down many banners supporting al-Mahdi Army as well as portraits of its leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, though some still remain in militia strongholds.
The contrast could not be more stark with the last time The Times visited Basra in December, when intimidation was rife.
Quite a positive result for a "loss", wouldn't you say?
The ISF and government's success in Basra is critical for a number of reasons. It demonstrates both a will and ability to undertake and succeed in security operations. Basra gives the ISF and the government experience that can only be garnered in such operations. The success of the operation has given the government and ISF confidence in their abilities and, it appears, given Iraqi citizens confidence in their government and the ISF. Perhaps I wouldn't have counseled the government to try its first operation on a city of 2 million, but it has apparently succeeded, and you can't argue with success.
Reading about Nadyia Ahmed's reaction also pulls two things into focus. One, the average Iraqi is tired of the violence and bloodshed. They yearn for peace. And they're coming to realize that neither AQI or the militias are the answer to that yearning. It is also clear they want freedom. They want the ability to live what they consider normal lives as much free of interference as possible - be that interference religious or secular.
Last but not least, it appears the people of Basra have decided which horse to back in this race. Basra is, by all indications, a huge win for the Iraqi government and a complete repudiation of the left's critiques of the early operation. And it demonstrates tremendous progress in terms of Iraq's ability to stand up and defend itself.
In reality, the left should be celebrating the success in Basra. Instead, vested heavily in their arguments that Iraq is a "quagmire", they can't find it in themselves to acknowledge that Basra seems to be a success. The much anticipated Iraqi "Tet" spin didn't quite work as successfully as it did the last time when a victory was declared a loss.
We lost in Basra...because we on the Left set the goal posts. Did you hear us talking about sewers, jeans, or music...NO. We will measure success in Basra by any metric that demonstrates our loss. If that is the number of dead Gypsy Moths per hectare that’s what we’ll use. Please do not try to use any metrics not approved by us to demonstrate some supposed, so-called "victory." And if, by some chance the metrics we choose(chose) turn positive, rest assured we will move the goal posts...OK they had a Constitutional Convention, what about National elections? Ok, so they had national elections, what about PROVINCIAL elections and the need for local reconciliation? OK, that’s happening, too...what about Gay Marriage? Ah-HAH gotcha NO GAY MARRIAGE, Iraq was/is and will FOREVER be a FAILURE!
The Mahdi army was not disarmed and Maliki had to call off his offensive. Instead Iran, who is probably closer to Maliki than we are, brokers a deal. The Mahdi army (Iran is worried about them too, they support Maliki) keeps its arms and is not weakened. In exchange, they allow Iraqi troops to walk the city without being attacked. If this was a victory, it was a victory for Iran. It was a loss for Maliki in that he had to call off his offensive and did not achieve his goal of disarming the militia. It also shows how clueless Americans seem to be about Maliki’s ties to Iran, and Iranian influence. I think the administration knows, and essentially has decided that even if Iran is the force stablizing Iraq, that does give us a potential way to save face. Iran is willing to play that game as long as the US does, indeed, leave or reduce its presence to Kurdistan in a reasonable length of time. The new Iraq is an ally of Iran, we paid a high price to strengthen the people Ronald Reagan called "our friends in Tehran."
Not conceding the factual point, but assume the Maliki coalition won the battle of Basra.
Great. So the more pro-Iranian side prevailed in the intra-Shia struggle.
And McQ cheers them on.
What a surprise.
And yes, they Maliki coalition was elected. But so was Hamas.
Wingnuts are so invested in the Iraq debacle at this point that they are missing the forest for the trees.
Hey McQ - Iran is our enemy. So how in the world is it a good thing that their allies in Iraq have prevailed? And why should Americans have to continue to die for them?
Prof. Erb — I haven’t been able to follow your side in the Basra discussion at all. Iran is a closer ally to Maliki than we are? The new Iraq is an ally of Iran? Can you support those with links?
Jesus - are you simply ignorant? ISCI and the Dawa party - the Maliki coaltiion - are much closer to Iran than any other Shia faction in Iraq.
Under normal circumstances, Iran, the most powerful Shia country in the region, treats all religious Iraqi Shia parties equally. Both ISCI (known earlier as the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or Sciri) and Dawa have historical links with Iran.
Sciri was established in Tehran in 1982 during the Iran-Iraq war. And Dawa leaders, including Maliki, took refuge in Iran during that eight-year conflict. During his two visits to Tehran in his first 15 months in office, Maliki was received by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a long-lost brother.
The emergence of the five-year-old Sadrist movement has nothing to do with Iran. When Moqtada’s two elder brothers and father were assassinated by Saddam Hussein’s agents in 1999, he went underground. It was only after Saddam’s overthrow on April 9, 2003, that he surfaced. The fact that he belongs to a family of "martyrs", and that he never left Iraq during Saddam’s rule, have contributed to the high standing he has acquired among Shias.
So why did the Iranians assist the Mahdi Army militia at a tactical command level against the forces of Maliki in Basra, if they did? Probably they aimed to frustrate Maliki’s adoption of the American neocons’ modus operandi of using force as the first option, instead of negotiating with Sadr to reach a political compromise during the ceasefire that Sadrists had observed since last August.
Also, with the Americans and the British intervening on his side, Maliki could no longer claim that his offensive was a purely Iraqi affair. That provided grounds for the Iranians to intervene on the opposite side.
Overall, though, the Iranian government deplored the spectacle of Shias killing one another in Iraq, with the toll mounting to more than 300 in a week. That explained its active involvement in brokering the ceasefire that seems to be holding by and large.
There is no controversy about these facts. Except, of course, in wingnut land.
Prof. Erb — I haven’t been able to follow your side in the Basra discussion at all. Iran is a closer ally to Maliki than we are? The new Iraq is an ally of Iran? Can you support those with links?
Actually I did so in a previous debate: Al qaeda faces a backlash. Scroll down to about the 11th or so comment, about half way down. It’s a post with about four or five links. This also addresses the claims that somehow the offensive is continuing; it’s not. There are some raids, but nothing trying to disarm the Mahdi army or enforce the demands made by Maliki when the offensive began. These raids are minor, and not the same as the offensive.
As for failure, there is no doubt that the Iraq war was a failure in regard to its aspirations and expectations. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t be successful in trying to find a way out that doesn’t leave instability and atrocities in its wake. The problem is to think of Iraq as one thing — with either success or failure as the one result.
So Huxley, let’s see this as a challenge. I’m convinced that Iran’s close historic ties with the Dawa party and Maliki, it’s arming of the Badr militia now incorporated into the Iraqi military (though apparently still having separate command structures), it’s ability to define a peace arrangement in Basra, it’s distrust of the Arab nationalism of al-Sadr, and it’s infiltration at all levels of the Iraqi military and government means that Iran is far more influential in Iraq than even the US, and is positioned to be a net winner from this conflict. You seem to think Maliki and Iran are not so close, and the US has more influence.
Let’s both over the weekend investigate this. Take time to look into stories, investigate various sources, and see what we come up with. Then sometime next week meet back in this thread and show our cards, what evidence did we find, what interpretations, and discuss whose is more believable. Neither of us is privvy to inside information, there are possibilities either of us are right. Rather than just have you look for evidence supporting your side, and me look for evidence supporting mine, let’s each investigate and talk about the evidence we find.
Again, Erb is just shilling for his hero Juan Cole. The day Juan Cole retracts and admits Basra was NOT a victory for Sadr, then and only then will Erb follow suit. Erb will continue to say Malicki backed down to Sadr even though the Iraqi army continues its operations in Basra and Baghdad. Why - ’Cause Cole says so. And Erb will continually force feed links that supposedly support his position - unfortunately this last one backfired.
Basra was in many ways similar to Tet. Initial reports and the infamous Cronkite quote were all negative when in reality the VC were reoundly defeated in Vietnam.Also the SV people didn’t uprise against the government as anticipated by the NV.It is a shame how much we do not truly know of the Vietnam War other than the propaganda the Liberal press and our professors feed us.
The most misconceived notion is that when an enemy comes out in a full assault , we are in trouble. Just the opposite, our advantage is when there is a set piece battle because the enemy is playing into our strength. We have the most advanced weaponery and aircraft in the world.
In Vietnam we did won every set piece battle If we do not learn from history we will be doomed.
It is a well known fact that all Shia think alike ..
Exactly. It’s like concluding that because the French (for their own reasons) helped the Americans win the Revolutionary War that Americans wanted to see America become a vassalage of France.
Once the internal factional reconciliation takes place in Iraq — and it’s happening slowly but inevitably — the national status of Iraq will be far more important than Iranian desires. Iraqi Arab Shi’a do not want to be under the suzerainty of Persian Shi’a. There is an ethnic component. There is a national component. There is even a separate religious component. All of which argue against overbearing Iranian influence in Iraq.
That’s a bizarre comparison. Basra was started by Maliki, giving the Mahdi army three days to turn in their weapons. They fought back, and ultimately Iran brokered a cease fire. Nothing like tet. What could be like tet is if this comes to pass: Sadr may launch all out war. That would unleash violence throughout Iraq, and be an attack on the US, which would be more like Tet. And, of course, the surge would quickly be dismissed as having failed.
What’s fascinating is that Iraq is seeing the playing out of internal Iranian politics. It appears that the moderates in Iran remain very close to the Dawa party, and probably have a lot of interests similar to the US. Sadr is if anything closest to the Iranian hardliners, except that he also has a streak of Arab nationalism. I’ve been puzzling over Iran’s support for the Badr militia and Maliki, while al-Sadr gets weapons and support from Iran as well. It must be that Iran’s ruling class is divided (that much is clear) and they are fighting a kind of battle over the future of Iraq because of the implications Iraq has on Iran’s future. Iran’s moderates wouldn’t mind a moderate Islamic Republic in Iraq that can be a model for an Islamic democracy that is not so theocratic (following the Sistani model). Iran’s hardliners see al-Sadr as more likely to be willing to engage in fierce anti-Americanism and support radical causes, and not pressure the upper hand of the clergy in Iran.
But what kind of game does al-Sadr play? If it’s true he’s focusing now more on military options than politics, what is happening? Is he really going to risk all out intra-Shi’ite war? Is this a warning to the US about what might occur should the US attack Iranian suspected nuclear sites (unlikely, since we know that since 1981 and the attack on an Iraqi site, most research is hidden and pretty well protected — we’d probably not slow them down much)? I’ll dig into this more...probably post something about it on my own blog on Monday.
moose, Moose, MOOSE Basra is not like Tet, how could you even make that comparison?
In Tet, a foreign supplied and supported insurgency force stood up to the central government and was roundly defeated on the battlefield, only to have the US Media transmogrify that defeat into a "victory" for the brutal insurgents! That is NOTHING like happened in Basra....You’re just being emotional and making baseless ad hominem attacks.
In Tet, a foreign supplied and supported insurgency force stood up to the central government and was roundly defeated on the battlefield, only to have the US Media transmogrify that defeat into a "victory" for the brutal insurgents! That is NOTHING like happened in Basra
Correct to a point. The real failure of tet was not that the battlefield defeat — even the North knew they couldn’t take on the US. The failure was that they didn’t get the masses to rise up against the US. They hoped tet would spark an all out rebellion in the South, and they miscalculated severely.
Also, this was reported in the media, it’s not like the media portrayed tet as some kind of major military failure on the part of the US. In fact, the US didn’t leave Vietnam until five years after tet — that’s as long as the current war in Iraq has taken place. This myth that somehow the media’s spin of the tet offensive made it seem like tet was a defeat for the US and that’s the main reason the US left Vietnam is simply not tenable.
Moreover, the reason tet shocked people is that LBJ had been essentially saying the enemy was very weak and all but defeated. The fact they could launch a dramatic offensive caused the public to consider Johnson a liar. And they also questioned "why the heck are we over there?"
Moreover, the reason tet shocked people is that LBJ had been essentially saying the enemy was very weak and all but defeated.
The enemy (the Viet Cong) was very weak and was defeated, during Tet.
Elite antiwar blather had worked itself into Walter Cronkite’s head, and he proclaimed Vietnam a defeat. And that announcement came right on time, closing in on four years of the heavier U.S. combat in Vietnam.
Americans don’t like long wars, and the enemy had nurtured a witless fifth column in the American media. Thus we wound up losing a war that we could win, were winning.
That’s why we’ve seen so much off-the-shelf antiwar propaganda about Iraq that’s left over from Vietnam. It’s nostalgia time for all those superannuated ’60s Lefties, like Bill Ayers.
No not at all and I remember Walter Cronkite expoinding on the success it was...
I think your memory is flawed. Cronkite did see the ongoing fighting as cause for Americans to question the war. I don’t think he ever said it was a military victory for the north. Unfortunately we’re now re-learning lessons learned by that fiasco, a war that weakened us and served no good purpose. A complete waste.
i dont understand why dosent maliki just crush sadar? no way sadar can maintain a sustained fight for more then a month. that is why you see sadar cry for for war and then a week later cry for peace and cease fire. and then he resupplies and lives to fight another day. what a joke
i dont understand why dosent maliki just crush sadar? no way sadar can maintain a sustained fight for more then a month. that is why you see sadar cry for for war and then a week later cry for peace and cease fire. and then he resupplies and lives to fight another day. what a joke
He tried that in Basra and failed. He had to settle for a cease fire that didn’t really hurt al-Sadr. I suspect al-Sadr is stronger than you think. Also note that al-Sadr wanted to keep the cease fire going when Maliki attacked in Basra. I think al-Sadr is willing to keep the cease fire as long as there is no threat to his militia.
we’re now re-learning lessons learned by that fiasco, a war that weakened us and served no good purpose. A complete waste.
What we’re actually learing, Boris, is that the Democratic Party is so dissolute that it allows insane far-Left antiwar sentiment (spouting from, among other places, universities) to leech up into the everyday rhetoric of the Party’s leaders. Such that you have this weird, barely conscious character who is the Senate majority leader declaring defeat on the Senate floor.
And for a Party whose leaders pretty much voted to authorize the war, and who confirmed the intelligence about Saddam Hussein, it has veered off into an irrational alleyway where even nincompoops like you could be perceived as speaking for them. How scary is that if you’re a Democrat?
No Cronkite called for a "Negotiated end to the war" didn’t he? Wow, that sounds familiar...
That’s the best you’re going to do. You see, we won the Iraq war in 2003. Now we’re in some bizarre effort to shape their political system, and we’ve learned we can only do that through negotiation.
So instead of trying to defeat the Sunni insurgency, we shifted to supporting them as long as they didn’t fight us. Negotiation and incentives. With al-Sadr we’re trying to get him to have a political stake in the system. With Sistani we promised early elections assuring Shi’ite power. But I doubt we’ll get real stability without broader negotiations.
Because, frankly, the American people are sick of an expensive conflict when we really have nothing at stake, nothing to gain, and a lot of problems at home to take care of. What’s the point of staying in Iraq? For some abstract claim of "victory" or simply to deny al qaeda "propaganda points?" That’s not worth beans.
As I recall, Tet was called a defeat for the US war effort. We may have inflicted a temporary setback on the NLF, but the very fact they were able to mount the offensive proved that we had already failed, and should cut our losses and leave.
That’s the best you’re going to do. You see, we won the Iraq war in 2003. So we should have pulled out immediately so that it could collapse into unending civil war. Now we’re in some bizarre effort to shape their political system, and we’ve learned we can only do that through negotiation. In case that sentence doesn’t make sense to you, "negotiation" is an advanced concept invoked by those with godlike powers of political science to cover any intractable situation. It’s kind of a magic word that’s just supposed to cure everything, and don’t you righties start up with the obsolete concept that negotiation doesn’t work with a credible threat of force or other bad consequences. Just don’t start, you hear! There should never be bad consequences to anything, and in a leftist-run world there wouldn’t be. We would negotiate everything all the time, and all would be perfect.
So instead of trying to defeat the Sunni insurgency, we shifted to supporting them as long as they didn’t fight us. Negotiation and incentives. And in this case, negotiation was the wrong thing to do because it made it look like we might be making progress. With al-Sadr we’re trying to get him to have a political stake in the system. With Sistani we promised early elections assuring Shi’ite power. But I doubt we’ll get real stability without broader negotiations. You see, you righties just don’t understand the whole magical system of negotiations the way we wise leftists do, so you don’t see how everything could be just peachy if we would pull out right away and negotiate what happens afterwards. It would be wonderful and great, and I just don’t understand why you oppose it.
Because, frankly, the American people are sick of an expensive conflict when we really have nothing at stake, nothing to gain, and a lot of problems at home to take care of. That’s right, giving up any credibility to use force for the next thirty years is no loss at all, so we would not be gaining a thing by protecting our reputation. And we wise leftists have known for decades that problems at home always take precedence, and that we can magically transform the resources and effort from problems in places like Iraq into fixing our healthcare and education systems. It’s simple really. If we pull out of Iraq, everyone will realize that we wise leftists were right all along, and we’ll get the control we so richly deserve, and we’ll fix every problem that society has in no time flat. The only thing that’s standing in the way is you dense righties and your fixation on Iraq.
What’s the point of staying in Iraq? For some abstract claim of "victory" or simply to deny al qaeda "propaganda points?" That’s not worth beans. And the whole thing of losing our credibility isn’t worth it either, because losing our credibility is a good thing that would lessen our imperialistic tendencies. And letting the Middle East collapse into chaos wouldn’t do a thing to endanger us, no sir. And don’t start up with that nuking an American city stuff, or any of your other fantastic scenarios. I’m telling you, those fanatics in the Middle East would act completely different than they did the last time we showed our weakness in the 1990s, and would leave us alone, and would never, ever think of creating some terrorist operation that killed thousands of people and cost a trillion dollar damage to the economy. As long as we apologized enough for being there in the first place, of course.
This is nothing like WWII. In WWII we were fighting those evil Nazis and there will never be an enemy like that again. Besides, we were allied with the Soviets, which were the brothers-in-arms of the left.
This is a social engineering experiment gone awry. And don’t start with Japan and Korea! Just don’t start! We were the aggressors this time. The invasion of Kuwait by Iraq doesn’t count, and Saddam’s cease-fire violations and regular acts of war don’t count. They just don’t, you hear me? They don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t count! Comparison to WWII? Pah! Nothing will ever compare to WWII because the American left will never support another military effort, unless it’s some doomed-to-failure humanitarian thing like Darfur. Because armed conflict is just icky.
We were the aggressors this time. Comparison to WWII? Pah
If you look at the Iraq war of 2003 as a continuation of Sadaam’s Kuwait caper (which I believe is a reasonable view of history), then we were not the aggressors. We were rather enforcing the cease fire agreement that Sadaam was violating with impunity. Because of 9/11, it was imprudent for us to allow him to continue those violations without taking action.
Before WWII, IIRC, all the western nations ignored Japanese, Italian and German annexation activities to their severe disadvantage. At bottom, the inaction was rationalized because those activities were not thought by the intellectuals of the day to constitute a threat to western interests. Of course, that view in hindsght, was shortsighted.
Scott Erb is making this up. He said the same thing about the surge and the Anbar Awakening.
The Mahdi Army in Basra took on the IA and got clobbered. We provided logistical and air support, but the Iraqis did the fighting. The only card left in al Sadr’s hand is his "cease fire". The reason a lot of Mahdi troops are not fighting is simple - they are dead. Mookie is tucked away safely in Iran.
If the Iranians do what you are suggesting, they will regret it instantly. Petraeus, an Iran hawk, is replacing Fallon, a dove. What do you think Rice said to the Middle East leaders she visited early this month? What do you think Putin and Bush discussed week before last? Why do you think a US flagged vessel fired warning volleys at Iranian boats? Yesterday, the Chairman of the JCS told reporters that he had assets - Navy and Air Force units - capable of dealing with an Iranian threat. Why are all these new Iranian built weapons caches being shown to reporters? The public is being preped for a war. Hillary is on board!
The president doesn’t need Congressional approval or political capital to respond to an attack. He has promised not to leave this problem to his successor and I do not think he will. Personally, I hope we don’t hit Iran, but we may have no choice.
Since you seem to have some glaring misconceptions about the Vietnam War, I have provided links to two accuracy in media programs that outline what actually happened and how the US news media spun events on the ground.
Vietnam War - The Real Story (Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6) These 10 minute videos explain the history leading up to the war and the politics and propaganda behind the conflict.
As you know, I was assigned to the 366 Tac Fighter Wing at DaNang in 1971 and 1972 and served two other assignments in South East Asia for a total of 5 years. One of my degrees is a BA in Asian Studies. I find these portrayals fairly accurate of the events in which I participated.
Arch, Maliki called off the offensive and the Mahdi army didn’t surrender its weapons. Iran brokered a cease fire. (I think the links are in my post in comment 8390, about half way down).
As for Vietnam, it clearly was a useless war that hurt the United States. The media showed people things that were really happening, so we couldn’t be lead by the nose by government propaganda. As always, reporting on the scene got things wrong. But media heroes like Seymour Hersh made sure things like Mai Lai were uncovered and that story told. Unfortunately, the military now pretty much controls how the story is told, and we have to dig to find the truth. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this; again, I’ve looked into issues of Vietnam, and the media extensively. There are a vast variety of perspectives, I simply don’t find the one you believe to be persuasive. I’m sure the videos make a lot of good points, I’ll try to watch them when I have time. The CNN Cold War series episode on Vietnam was very fair, as was that entire series.
Your ears are obviously just painted on your head. They can’t be there for any useful purpose. You already know everything there is to know about Vietnam. How would you know what was "very fair" concerning Vietnam? Seroiusly, you should watch the videos. I’ll find the CNN series.
I can’t believe you linked to an AP report. These are the guys who brought us hundreds of phoney sectarian massacres and also Lebanon’s famous Green Helmet. You might as well quote the NY Times.
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. called Hersh "the most gullible investigative reporter I’ve ever encountered." Have leak will publish.
Maliki sent troops into Basra to confront al Sadr’s Madhi Army. In an attempt to avoid contact, al Sadr asked Al Sistani to decide. The senior cleric said that he had no say in forming the Militia and he refused. Today, Basra is in the hands of the Iraqi Army. The members of the militia who fought were killed. The rest ran away.
In Sadr City and other Shiite strongholds, US and Iraqi troops are engaging these forces and destroying them. The concern of the Iranians is that Al Sadr will get them attacked, since many of his militia are really QoDs forces.
Clashes continued Saturday in the Mahdi Army stronghold of Sadr City, a sprawling district in northeastern Baghdad, although they did not appear as fierce in recent days.
The Shiite cleric on Friday called for an end to Iraqi bloodshed, saying his threat of an "open war" applied only to U.S.-led foreign troops. But al-Maliki said he would only end the crackdown if four conditions were met, including surrendering weapons.
The AP has reporters there. The AP is less biased. I’ll go with them. Also, the AP’s report is verified by many other reports. You guys seem to have a small cadre of pro-war reporters that tell the story you want to hear. That’s OK, that doesn’t prove they are wrong (though ’being there’ doesn’t prove they are right either). But I’ll sample a wider variety of perspectives.
JWG: your ’reality’ is talking about fighting in Sadr City. The offensive in Basra was called off, replaced by an Iranian brokered cease fire, without the Mahdi army disbanding, which Maliki had demanded. When you so obviously switch contexts to try to hide being wrong, it’s really weak.
Hersh was right about Mai Lai, and has been a very important reporter over the years. I’ll continue to learn and read more on every thing I can, of course, but the AP remains a very solid news organization. Nobody has a perfect record, especially involving early reports. Al Sadr wanted a cease fire in Basra all alone, the Iranians brokered one. Iran is very close to Maliki too, I think Iran’s moderates are very pro-Maliki, but many of the hardliners are closer to Sadr. I’ve always thought what the US military officials are now saying openly: Iran is deeply entrenched in every aspect of Iraqi Shi’ite activities, from the government to the militia.
The AP has reporters there. They never get outside their hotels, and instead they recruit locals and then tell them the angles they need for their stories, so their reporting is actually more genuine. And those locals, being noble savage brown people, would never distort or just tell the AP what they want to hear, no sir. The AP is less biased. That is, they are less biased in favor of anything that contradicts leftist dogma. I’ll go with them. Also, the AP’s report is verified by many other reports from other sources that also subscribe to leftist dogma. You guys seem to have a small cadre of pro-war reporters that tell the story you want to hear. And you seem to be skeptical that a reporter that has demonstrated leftist bias for decades can actually do a better job. That’s OK, that doesn’t prove your guys are wrong (though ’being there’ doesn’t prove they are right either, and since they contradict leftist dogma, they are considered wrong until proven right by posting things we wise anti-war leftists will accept, which of course never happens). But I’ll sample a wider variety of perspectives. And then choose the ones that confirm my existing opinions, which are of course the ones who report and analyze through the clarifying lens of anti-war and anti-American leftism.
JWG: your ’reality’ is talking about fighting in Sadr City. The offensive in Basra was called off, replaced by an Iranian brokered cease fire, without the Mahdi army disbanding, which Maliki had demanded. When you so obviously switch contexts to try to hide being wrong, it’s really weak. And I’m going to keep on bringing up strawmen and non sequiturs like that as long as you keep saying that I was actually wrong about something. I never am. My godlike powers of political science enable me to see intuitively that Sadr lost, and I’ll find some way to prove it no matter what so-called evidence you bring up. As I’ve said before, by the goals set by we wise leftists, Malaki lost. Just get used to it. Though I would prefer that you keep posting and trying to argue with me about it, because that gives me the opportunity to use the same talking points again and again and again and again and again and %&@#+++(#@#
Routine halted due to error 1057: Repetitious output leading to possible infinite loop. Routine end initiated. Call stack continues from previous routine.
Hersh was right about Mai Lai, and has been a very reliable leftist reporter over the years. I’ll continue to learn and read more on every thing I can, of course, though none of it will ever budge me from my reliably leftist positions, but the AP remains a very solid news organization. Stop laughing! Nobody has a perfect record, especially involving early reports. And now I’d like to get back to the Sadr thing again, because I still need to repeat some of my talking points again, since you guys have pretty much backed me into a corner on this whole thing. So, before I start experiencing cognitive dissonance over being proven wrong, let me start parroting the same talking points again to convince myself that I still have my godlike powers of political science and am always right. Al Sadr wanted a cease fire in Basra all alone, the Iranians brokered one. Iran is very close to Maliki too, I think Iran’s moderates are very pro-Maliki, but many of the hardliners are closer to Sadr. I’ve always thought what the US military officials are now saying openly: Iran is deeply entrenched in every aspect of Iraqi Shi’ite activities, from the government to the militia. And Iran is a great crutch to explain why everything the US does is wrong, because you guys say they are our enemies but they might actually come out with some gains from this whole thing. The nuance that the US might be fine with that if Iraq becomes open and free and actually end up influencing Iran as much or more as Iran influences them is just not important. Besides, you dense righties need to forget that "nuance" stuff, because you don’t have the godlike powers of political science to do it right.
2. Al Sadr’s games — it appears he’s not as week as some reporters would like to claim (he never has been weak, the effort to paint him as ’chicken’ or somehow marginalized appears to be a disinformation campaign. He’s playing a complex game, but he is NOT disarming!). Another article here. Remember, Maliki came to power in large part through Sadr’s backing, and Sadr seems to be aiming at pushing a wedge between the US and the Maliki government.
So don’t just assume the pro-military reporters are accurate or unbiased! Also, try to understand that some of us have been hearing positive spin for OVER FIVE YEARS. Slow progress, stay the course, things are improving, the media is only giving the bad news, etc. Yet, of course, that was all false. Now it’s the same thing, but violence is at 2005 levels, core problems like corruption, Iranian influence, lack of political reconciliation, and lack of government control of much of the country (you do know that Kurdish President Talabani also has close Iranian ties, don’t you — and they seem to like the autonomous position of Kurdistan now) suggests the fundamentals are no different now than in 2005. There has been a lot of ethnic cleansing in 2006 meaning not so many mixed neighborhoods, so not as many obvious targets. But if that’s the progress made, well...
So don’t just assume the pro-military reporters are accurate or unbiased! And understand that "pro-military" means anyone who ever says anything good about Iraq because as I have proved beyond reasonable doubt, it’s all a miserable policy failure and no good can come from it. So any reporter that says otherwise is a pro-military shill. I don’t care how many times in the past they reported bad things or criticized US handling of the conflict, if they ever say anything good, then they’re just biased! Don’t you see! You just can’t trust them!!!
Also, try to understand that some of us have been hearing positive spin for OVER FIVE YEARS. That’s right, five whole years. Don’t you realize that this is longer than WWII, which is the yardstick against which all conflicts must be measured? We wise leftists know that domestic programs like welfare and education reforms must be given decades to prove themselves, even in the face of year after year of questionable results, but if you righties can’t show instant and continuous progress, well then, it just proves that you are dense and unable to face reality. Slow progress, stay the course, things are improving, the media is only giving the bad news, etc. Yet, of course, that was all false. All of it!! Not a single good thing has come out of Iraq, do you hear! I decree it!!! The media giving us only bad news thing is especially galling to me, because I don’t care how many metrics you have that show they only report the bad and ignore the good, I know that it’s the duty of the press to report the bad when it benefits the left and damages the right, and they’re clearly doing that, so you guys need to just shut up about it.
Now it’s the same thing, but blah, blah, blah, no change, it’s all terrible, out of control, Iran dominant, violence rampant, ERK! Sorry, I should have filled in some details about all of that, but I just got carried away and forget that I’m supposed to be objective and provide something besides repetitious dogma. Anyway, it’s all just terrible over there. But if that’s the progress made, well...
Iraqi troops began the last stage of Operation Saulat al-Farsan (Charge of the Knights) on Friday in Basra’s northern neighbourhood of Al-Huteen, a bastion of Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia...The operation included clearing and searching homes in the area.
Erb — pull your lips off Sadr’s a$$ and look at what is really happening. The Iraqi military has not stopped moving against Sadr, whether it is Basra or Sadr City.
The field reports from Brasa indicate that the initial force had a large contingent of very green troops fresh from training. The lack of fighting prowess of the IA gave the impression initially that Sadr was succeeding and to compound that impression there were reported defections from the IA. Once this problem was recognized, within 5 days the Iraqi government had moved in seasoned troops and the tide turned to the government’s side. What is missing in the media’s reports is that the government succeeded in bringing in reinforcements and supplies utilizing their so maligned logistic forces. That is a turn around that flies in the face of everything that had been reported previously. I suspect that Iran/Sadr may have been planning a Tet lite campaign to influence our election and this IA campaign may have destroyed that possibility. And now the government has the solidarity and strength that few would have predicted a month ago.
Now if we will only NOT abandon them when they are rapidly progressing towards self sufficiency; that is exactly what we DID in Vietnam after all of the blood and treasure expended to achieve a similar situation in 1972. If we leave and Iran and their surrogates launch attacks, will we sit by, not honor our commitments as was done in 1975 and watch the Iraq government be destroyed and its pro-American/Western people liquidated. I suspect so. If that occurs, you can bet that we will be pushed into a corner such that we will have to use WMD to survive; if one considers that something to want to survive after.
Pointing out raids will not change the fact that the Basra offensive was called off, Iraqi forces are not considered ready even by the Pentagon, al-Sadr’s militia has not been disarmed like Maliki demanded, and the raids being undertaken are minor. The underlying fundamentals have not changed. Five years of spinning news to make things sound better than they aren’t very persuasive. This isn’t a continued offensive with ’seasoned troops.’ Sheesh, even whirling dervishes don’t spin so much...
Arch, you are falling back on insults, this time about singing pigs. Typical.
Besides, you really got it wrong on that one. I’m never annoyed when people respond to me here. In fact, I need it. Desperately. The worst thing anyone can do to me is to ignore me. That’s much, much worse than insulting me. When you insult me, I can bask in my own smug superiority of how I’ve reducing you dense righties yet again to being unable to respond logically. And it gives me another great excuse to validate my own self-worth by repeating my talking points yet another time or twelve.
The only things you dense righties can do is respond to my arguments, insult me, ignore me, or make fun of me. Of course, I don’t read the satires directed at me, because that’s the only one of the four possibilities I don’t know how to respond to. Besides, they aren’t even funny. At least, I don’t get the joke.
So please, come on back and let’s talk about Basra some more. I have my talking points well established: we wise lefties decides on certain goals for Maliki, and he hasn’t met them, therefore nothing else counts and it’s all a victory for Sadr and Iran. And it will be that way no matter what happens in the future. But I’d really, really love it if you came back and talked some more about how the outcome is not what I claim it is. That way, I’d be able to come back again and tell you how wrong you are. I’d love to repeat that whole cycle about a hundred times more if you’ll just keep coming back. Will you? Please? What do you mean, you find that boring? I don’t. Actually, it’s the most exciting thing that happens in my life. Stop laughing!
You know, Arch, that statement about pigs can be turned around on you guys, who seem to have your minds made up. And I can certainly tell you are all annoyed. And of course, you righties are all pigs, as my feminist friends tell me all the time.
Perhaps I should focus on those whose minds are not yet made up? I can do that. Of course, it would require me to find people who properly respect my godlike powers of political science enough to allow me to pontificate endlessly to them. Because that’s what I really need - to keep on posting my talking points over and over and over and over so that I am continuously assured of my own self worth. So in reality, saying I will focus on people whose minds are not made up is an empty threat. Once I convince someone, they stop responding to me, and so I have to come to places like QandO where there is a never-ending supply of people who will respond when I comment the same leftist talking points over and over and over and over and over again.
And of course, when it comes to people whose mind is made up, I’m the champion. As my long history of commenting here at QandO proves. But see, I’m so much smarter than you, you should be open-minded enough to accept that what I have to say might change your mind. And in turn I’ll pretend that I’m open-minded enough that you might change my mind, even though we both know the chances of that are about the same as an asteroid hitting my office in the next two minutes.
You also have to remember that denial doesn’t constitute debate or argument except in some portions of Maine.
I remember in the 90s McQ you would never admit being wrong on anything, even when made very clear to you in debates. Today not only do you simply search for anything that fits your perspective and post it as proof, uncritically trying to confirm your biases without challenging them, but you’ve become one of those who ridicules everyone you disagree with on very personal terms (Pelosi, Murtha, Ried, Carter, etc.) while accusing any one who says things far more mild about Bush of suffering BDS. In short, I think you’ve lost sight of what debate really means, or how to develop an argument. You don’t even admit that Iraq has failed in its basic goals and expectations compared to five years ago. In short, I accuse you of intellectual laziness, bordering on dishonesty. But that’s typical in the blogosphere left and right, so I guess that’s that.
Anyway, the Mahdi army still hasn’t been disarmed (the point of the Basra offensive, remember?), and Sadr rejects calls to do so. Also, Basra was the success story early in the war, a Shi’ite stronghold, with the insurgency mostly Sunni. The fact this is even an issue shows how pathetically bad this has gone for the US.
And in Afghanistan, the President barely misses being assassinated, and tells the US and British to leave the Taliban alone.
So I guess ridiculing those who don’t buy your koolaid about the war is the only option you have — that and posting pro-military reporting as absolute truth, and ignoring most of the rest. Because given the number of people killed, children orphaned and growing up in a hell, lowered status of women (large numbers of whom are now widowed), massive ethnic cleansing, and nothing of value to the national interest of continuing this flawed social engineering experiment, only someone with their head in the sand could continually try to paint lipstick on this pig. Argue "yeah, it’s gone wrong, the choice to go to war in Iraq was a bad idea...but we’re there, and we have to figure out the best way to conclude it," and you’d be showing some common sense, and I’d have to agree that many anti-war arguments aren’t able to address that. But to deny the failure and futility of this pointless war which has destroyed countless lives here and abroad (not to mention the psychological problems of returning vets, divorce rates skyrocketing, mothers sent away shortly after giving birth, and more broadly the impact on our economy) is simply not viable.
I remember in the 90s McQ you would never admit being wrong on anything, even when made very clear to you in debates.
Well, if you feel that way, why don’t you go away and leave us alone? You’ve never said anything worth reading, and you apparently can’t think in anything but leftist cliches. So we certainly don’t need you. And since you seem to have such a lack of respect for us, you ought not need us.
So explain it to us, Scott. Explain why you can’t resist posting the same drivel and talking points a hundred times. Explain why you pollute every thread on your pet peeves with the same talking points. Explain why you do all that for people you don’t respect and who will never change their minds.
I’m pretty sure you’ll come back with some pablum about "fostering debate" and "reaching to the other side". But for goodness sake, never examine your real reasons. You might find out things about yourself you’re not prepared to accept.
Yet I seem to generate a lot of attention and responses. You know why? Because I’m an effective writer, and make a strong case for a perspective different than your own. I’m the voice of a different point of view in a blog that (like most blogs) tends towards groupthink.
Also, you show your hand when you go overboard in your attacks on my intelligence and knowledge. Maybe I faked my way to an MA from Johns Hopkins, a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, various teaching awards and the like. But chances are, if you turned off the ridicule/insult machine, you’d realize that not only do I know what I’m talking about, but I’ll also respect your point of view and others, especially if they treat me with the same level of respect.
So why do I post? 1. I’m fascinated by this kind of exchange, and the way so many people build walls against actually engaging another point of view. Perhaps there’s a paper out of studying this mode of exchange. 2. I genuinely agree with a huge chunk of what you guys post, especially when you get outside of foreign affairs and Iraq — and I think you have a huge blind spot to the hypocrisy about not trust big government at all, except when it comes to the military. I think my pointing out that hypocrisy really bothers you and causes part of the reaction. 3. I also want to learn the other perspective — a purely selfish motive — but obviously the insults don’t bother me (they are so contrary to my real world experience, even with Republicans and people from broadly different walks of life, I know they’re imagination-driven views of who I am — another fascinating aspect of this kind of exchange.
Though, you probably could have easily avoided having me post much at all, or at least McQ could have. I read this blog awhile without posting, and then when I posted a couple of things McQ went into personal attacks on me. I thought, well, fine, I’ll stick around awhile as my retaliation — see if he likes me posting lots of stuff here, and getting the response rate I knew I would get. If he had said, "well, we have differences but thanks for the compliment" (I complimented the blog — and still do, it’s very well done, you all write well and give interesting perspectives) and not felt an emotional need to launch into personal attacks, I’d not have posted here. I was going to do that a week or two, but started having so much fun (which is why I’ve kept posting, this is FUN — again a purely selfish motive) I kept at it. I have fun when things are intellectually interesting to me, whether it’s learning about particle physics or seeing how people react to perspectives they dislike.
So there’s your answer. The fact you disrespect me is irrelevant; I don’t need or care for your respect. The fact you won’t change your minds is irrelevant; you hurt yourself with a closed mind more than me. The fact that I’ve changed my mind on a number of issues, learned more about the military, probably have more respect for people like Gen. Petraeus and his approach than I otherwise would have (especially if I just read anti-war sources) is relevant; I learned something. And the fact I generate so much in the way of response is also relevant. Effective writers don’t get ignored. You flatter me, even as you insult me.
Still, it’s getting to be nice out, I went with my kids hiking around our woods here for a couple hours today, getting in mud and heading to the river, etc., that it may be time for me to stop "tormenting" you, as you seem to make it sound. And if I don’t leave, then ignore me. That will cause me to lose interest, I’m sure. I’ll probably still read to learn different perspectives, but I’ll not bother posting.
But deep in your heart of hearts you know that I’m not that dumb, I am writing effectively and generating a response, and I do have a perspective that is widely shared by a lot of people, many who are very intelligent, and that is really why my posting has such power. You know I make a strong case, and that challenges your bias. The natural reaction to people when a strongly held bias is challenged is to attack personally (sometimes in rather pathological amounts, such as Billy Beck). Easier to dismiss the alternate perspective by dismissing the person.
Leave you alone? OK. I’ll answer comments or questions on the threads I’m in, but then I’ll go away for awhile at least — or comment rarely when I read something I really think needs a response. And, if everyone ignores everything I’ve written, this could be the last post of mine you’ll see for awhile. But I throw your line right back at you:
But for goodness sake, never examine your real reasons. You might find out things about yourself you’re not prepared to accept.
Well, I’m glad to hear that you are so smart and such a good writer and communicator, and all that. It must be that I just fail to appreciate your abilities. (I’ll even avoid the "methinks thou doth protest too much" cheap shot line you like to use when someone points out their own qualifications.)
So here’s what you obviously need to do. If your writing is that compelling and your "posting has such power" as you put it, go get yourself a real blog, with comments and everything so that people can respond to your wisdom. You can do that here:
Nah, I don’t have to prove myself to you. I’ve got a set of real world relationships and responsibilities that are enough for me.
I again urge you to exercise the same critical self-reflection you seem to think I need. You notice the speck in my eye, but ignore the log in yours. But I’ve always been complimentary to your blog and believe it is one of the more interesting blogs out there, even as I’ve disagreed with some of its content (and agreed with a lot of it as well). Its just some of you don’t take disagreement well, you want to consider those who have a very different perspective, especially on the war, to be bad, idiotic, you name the insult. That’s a sign of a flaw that I really think you need to reflect upon.
I won’t be breathlessly awaiting your triumphal return.
By the way, your argument seems to be "our blog is really widely read and has a following and you don’t, so we’re better." That is the same logical fallacy as would occur if I said "I have advanced degrees and am an expert in international relations so I’m right and you’re wrong." In short, neither claim has anything about the validity of ones’ perspective or argument.
As I thought, blowing smoke. The thing about time is an obvious dodge. Between the time you spend on your pseudo-blog and the time you spend writing endless drivel here, there’s more than enough to do a real blog.
Nope, you’re afraid that trying it would prove that nobody wants to read your writing. You claim that your writing is powerful because people here respond, and I claim that commenters here refuse to let obvious nonsense stand unchallenged. Given the widespread abuse you get here, I think I have by far the better claim.
But be comfortable in your delusion if you wish. By all means, don’t do that self-examination you’re trying so desperately to reflect back on me.
And that last comment was really pathetic. First, you’ve done your patented "change the hypothesis" routine. The issue is not who’s right, but who can write material others want to read. To take a random example, I don’t think Oliver Willis is right about as often as a stopped clock, but he writes well enough to have steady readers. I’m telling you outright based on wading through as much of your stuff as I could stand for months - you could not do that. Your writing is far too poor to attract enough readers. Which is why you are forced to come here to just to find an audience. (And why I don’t think you’re serious about leaving, though I wish you were. I noted the weasel wording of "I’ll go away for awhile at least — or comment rarely when I read something I really think needs a response." You’ll be back regularly because you can’t help it.)
Second, equating a steady readership with paper credentials falls below even your usual standards for poor logic. Though coming from an academic I suppose it’s understandable.
if I said "I have advanced degrees and am an expert in international relations so I’m right
You said exactly that in your previous comment.
This is another perfect example why so many of us point and laugh at you, Erb. Your constant contradictions are ridiculous.
your argument seems to be "our blog is really widely read and has a following and you don’t, so we’re better."
Nope, your degrees don’t seem to be based on your ability to read and comprehend. The point was that if you really were an "effective" writer whose arguments would not be ignored, then you would be able to produce an effective blog with comments and a following.
In other words, walk the talk, bad boy.
Its just some of you don’t take disagreement well
Most of us face disagreement everyday and deal with it very well. I suspect we face more disagreement from co-workers and clients than does a professor in a classroom.
It’s not your disagreements we have a problem with. As is repeatedly pointed out to you, it is your intellectual dishonesty. You have a very specific modus operandi and you rarely deviate from it. It is one of the symptoms of your personality disorder.
Because I place no value on trying to start a blog like yours? LOL! Do you realize how silly that is, that unless one chooses the kind of activity you do, then one is just ’blowing smoke.’ Seriously, you need to look in the mirror before you criticize others.
And while you can hurl insults, when they contradict my real world experience (especially insulting things like my writing) then it’s clear you’re just frustrated and trying lash out. But you can’t. That’s what’s so funny about this, internet insults are utterly impotent. That’s why so many of you are compelled to hurl the same insults over and over, often with obvious emotion: they have no power. In fact, when I post evidence and arguments and remain civil (and I generally like everyone here, even those who insult me) and the response is angry insults, that says something profound. The fact is that many of you responded to arguments with ridicule or insults because you couldn’t counter the argument. You try to bolster your view by throwing more insults because, well, that way you don’t have to deal with the possibility that maybe I’m right, or at least giving an argument you should take more seriously. I see through you, it’s obvious, and it’s too bad you don’t see it yourself. Or, perhaps, deep down, you know that, and that’s what bothers you.
So in that, it’s tempting to continue to post, amused/fascinated by how so many threads dominated by me even when I don’t post but two or three posts (satires, responses, etc. abound — very flattering stuff), contradicting the very insults you’re making, and to learn different perspectives. But today’s blog entry really explains why in general I’ll be devoting less time to electronic stuff (and why especially I don’t want to put energy in starting up a more time consuming blog). The real world is just too beautiful, and this blogosphere, while fun and distracting, is too predictable.
But today’s blog entry really explains why in general I’ll be devoting less time to electronic stuff (and why especially I don’t want to put energy in starting up a more time consuming blog). The real world is just too beautiful, and this blogosphere, while fun and distracting, is too predictable.
More weasel words. You’ll be back posting more of your repetitious drivel before we know it. I’m telling you, you can’t help it. You post here despite the fact that it’s pointless. You’ve already admitted that none of us are going to change our minds because of your nonsense. You don’t post for us; you post for yourself, to meet some kind of deep-seated obsession to prove that you’re smart and right. We all see it even if you don’t.
But one thing is for sure. You’ll never actually put yourself into some arena where there would be a hard metric such as readership to guage whether you can write worth a hoot. You don’t have the guts.
First, Billy, in a world full of blogs, most of which aren’t read much, argumentum ad populum is a poor way to argue who is a better writer, or whose arguments are right. Do you really want to apply that writ large to comparing all media and all writings world wide? You guys have a good blog here and are successful, I congratulate you on that. I know I don’t have the time, connections, or ambition to make anything comparable, but somehow I don’t think that really says anything about my writing ability or arguments. You seem so upset that I might think I’m "smart and right." (How many readers here don’t think they are smart and right on issues?) Your attempt to psychoanalyze is funny. Why do you think you have the psychological need to keep responding to me? Perhaps you should turn some of that psycho-analysis back on yourself — your slip is showing.
You’ll be back posting more of your repetitious drivel before we know it. I’m telling you, you can’t help it.
LOL! You’ve created a caricature image of me in your mind. One reason I don’t take your insults (you and the like minded gang here) seriously is that I realize you have an imagination-driven understanding of who and what I am. You’ve built this image in your mind, and you respond to the image. That’s why I can so easily push your buttons if I want to, I know the image you have and I see through it. I also know that you are utterly clueless about who I am really am or even what I’m really like.
Now, if you want to continue this in an e-mail discussion, feel free to contact me. But for now, I have to spend time on my studies of Russian and Italian, and I need to work on my research project. I finished my book on the day my first son was born (literally finishing final revisions right before taking my wife to the hospital). That was five years ago, and I’ve only engaged in small research projects/articles since then. Now I have to jump in to another major project, and while this is fun — and despite all the insults, I’ve learned a lot from your perspectives — it’s not very productive.
Perhaps I’ll post something after the election in November. Enjoy life!