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Ambassador: Bush Didn’t Know There Were Two Sects of Islam

Raw Story Christian Avard reports that a former ambassador has a new book out about the incompetence of the Bush administration which makes the claim that President Bush did not know, two months before the invasion of Iraq, that Muslims were divided into Sunni and Shia sects.

Former Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith is claiming President George W. Bush was unaware that there were two major sects of Islam just two months before the President ordered troops to invade Iraq, RAW STORY has learned. In his new book, The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created A War Without End, Galbraith, the son of the late economist John Kenneth Galbraith, claims that American leadership knew very little about the nature of Iraqi society and the problems it would face after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

A year after his “Axis of Evil” speech before the U.S. Congress, President Bush met with three Iraqi Americans, one of whom became postwar Iraq’s first representative to the United States. The three described what they thought would be the political situation after the fall of Saddam Hussein. During their conversation with the President, Galbraith claims, it became apparent to them that Bush was unfamiliar with the distinction between Sunnis and Shiites. Galbraith reports that the three of them spent some time explaining to Bush that there are two different sects in Islam–to which the President allegedly responded, “I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!”

Juan Cole and hilzoy are taking the report at face value, with the latter “pray[ing] that we all learn something from this.” Bilmon thinks the whole thing shows the problem with parody, pointing to an April 2003 skit he wrote.

Gary Farber, meanwhile, notes that George Packer made similar claims in has March 2003 book and that there were several mentions of this in book reviews, including one in the March 2, 2003 NYT Magazine that was quoted the next day by Atrios, at the time the most prominent of the liberal bloggers. (Which, incidentally, preceded Bilmon’s skit.)

As to the veracity of the claim, Avard has found a White House document from December 2001 using the term Sunni but otherwise no evidence that Bush knew of the distinction. Googling around a bit, I haven’t been able to find any Bush speech from 2000-2002 in which he used the words “Sunni” or “Shiite,” although I could easily be missing some given the nature of search engines. Certainly, the 2000 campaign was almost completely devoid of foreign policy discussion, much less debate on terrorism. Post 9/11, obviously, there was plenty. Most of the big speeches, though, painted broad brush pictures of good versus evil.

While I don’t doubt the central thesis that Bush is not particularly intellectually curious, it’s almost inconceivable that anyone–let alone a man whose father was CIA Director, Vice President, and President–would not at least be aware of something so basic. The Sunni-Shia split has been on the public radar screen since the Iran Hostage Crisis, which kicked off November 4, 1979. I knew that there was such a thing as a Shiite when I was 14.

UPDATE: Commenter Dave E found two Bush speeches from the fall of 2002 where he used the terminology. Most significant was his UN Speech to rally support for action against Saddam, which contained this line: “If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi’a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council resolutions.”

Granting that someone else actually wrote the speeches and merely uttering the words doesn’t prove that Bush internalized the distinctions, it does at least prove he was aware of the existence of the two sects by the time Galbraith claims otherwise.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Faraz's Blog says:

    Ambassador: Bush Didn’t Know There Were Two Sects of Islam

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  2. Norwegianity says:

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  3. Gay Orbit says:

    Posted by: Michael President Bush didn’t know.

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  4. leading to incompetence is one that has been rightly levelled at the Bush administration on more than one occasion and over more than just the Iraqi adventure – but this particular anecdote seems to be the wrong one to illustrate it with. One of James Joyner’s commenters points to two 2002 speeches by Bush – one a key speech at the UN in Sepetember of that year, in which he uses the terms Shia and Sunni, which would strongly suggest he had been briefed on the difference between the two by then.

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  5. Britney Acts “Under The Influence” On Video…Company Cites “Youth Culture” In Defense Of Firing Employee Via Text Message… [IMG ] DAOU REPORT ESSAYSU.S., France OK UN Mideast Truce PactOUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: Ambassador: Bush Didn’t Know There Were Two Sects of IslamTALKING POINTS MEMO: 53% Lamont to 43% for LiebermanIsraeli commandos stage Tyre raidConyers: The Constitution in CrisisUnemployment rate hits 5-month highKEVIN DRUM: Back to the futureFDL (Christy Hardin Smith): Why I Support Ned Lamont

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  6. Bent says:

    Via GayOrbit comes the disturbing story that George Bush didn’t know there are two different sects in Islam. > . > Dear God. I don’t know if this is true, but I wouldn’t be surprised. I don’t think Bush is stupid, as so many are quick to say, but I think he is, as the article puts it, “not particularly intellectually curious”. Or to paraphrase conservative

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  7. OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY Ambassador: Bush Didn’t Know There Were Two Sects of Islam Raw Story Christian Avard reports that a former ambassador has a new book out about the incompetence of the Bush administration which makes the claim that President Bush did not know, two

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  8. Cernig says:

    James,

    “almost inconceivable”, but alas, not entirely inconceivable?

    I love it when you damn with faint praise…

    Regards, Cernig

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  9. Ands says:

    Galbraith is another leagacy like Plame and Wilson wanting cash.

    No term limits for democrats.

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  10. herier says:

    Ya, but did Bush know that Service Employees International Union was CIA funding 527s through their union and Plame was investigating those from Brewster’s and so was congress.

    Yes, that is why they sent a Porter, Goss

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  11. Pug says:

    Galbraith is another leagacy like Plame and Wilson wanting cash

    That’s it, attack the messenger. Maybe you should just put your hands over your ears and say, “Nyah, nyah, nyah…” That would be an equally intelligent response.

    Galbraith, in fact, is a widely respected diplomat who has travelled extensively in the Middle East and met with many of the players in Saddam’s regime, Kurdistan and the post-invasion government. He was a severe critic of Saddam at the time he used chemical weapons, not 15 years later. He has also written a devastating book about the bungling of the war in Iraq and has suggested some reasonable remedies to the current cluster**** there. He knows what’s up.

    Remarkably, I’ve seen very little comment from the usual conservative bloggers to yesterday’s march by 250,000 Shiites in Baghdad chanting, “Death to America”. These are the people whose freedom young Americans continue to die for. Millions of us who initially supported the war have seen enough.

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  12. Jim says:

    So all those CIA briefings never mentioned the Sunni-Shia split? What do they talk about in the presidential intelligence briefings? Weather reports? After seeing how incompetent Plame and friends are I guess I could believe it.

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  13. BillT says:

    Galbraith is another leagacy like Plame and Wilson wanting cash.

    No term limits for democrats.
    Posted by Ands at August 5, 2006

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  14. BillT says:

    Denial is such a warm soothing river to swim in. Sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting lalalalalal and regurgitating talking points at the oft documented, arrogant ignorance of your boy-king makes a broad comment on your own intelligence. Jeeze, if a Demoncratic party leader was this stupid (forget partisonship, just focus on completely ignorant incompetance) he would be run out of the party, instead of lionized and propped up by mouthbreathing sycophants. “Ands”, you are a moron.

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  15. Eneils Bailey says:

    Remember all Joe Wilson’s claims that did not prove to be true. Seems to be the same case here.

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  16. Herb says:

    Is there no limit to how far some people will go to keep this country divided ?

    One wonders what’s in it for them. Is it a lust for more money? A lust for power? Or,is it a total lack of patriotism?

    Whatever the reason is, they never stop with their efforts to divide this country. It sort of reminds you of the Davide between the Shia and the Sunis. Come to think of it, it is the same.

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  17. just me says:

    You know I can’t imagine the CIA and other security/foreign policy type briefings didn’t include those distinctions, especially with regards to a country like Iraq where they has long been a history of internal conflict among the groups.

    And if the briefings didn’t include the distinction, then the CIA and others were negligent-more so than Bush.

    I am just having trouble swallowing this one.

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  18. Old War Dogs says:

    Ambassador: Bush Didn’t Know There Were Two Sects of Islam…

    James Joyner at OTB:Raw Story Christian Avard reports that a former ambassador has a new book out about the incompetence of the Bush administration which makes the claim that President Bush did not know, two months before the invasion of…

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  19. DC Loser says:

    I’m certain the CIA and State have made those distinctions countless times, but the issue is, did the message get through?

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  20. Tano says:

    It is inconceivable to many of us that this guy could become president of the united states, or that anyone could support him. I do not find it inconceivable that he didnt know about Sunnis and Shiites. We havent been bandying about the term “moron” for no reason, after all.

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  21. floyd says:

    ambassador galbraith obviously suffers from diplomatic incompetence, whether his statement is true or false.

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  22. Charalene says:

    Who cares. He knows now.

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  23. chris says:

    Jeeze, if a Demoncratic party leader was this stupid (forget partisonship, just focus on completely ignorant incompetance) he would be run out of the party, instead of lionized and propped up by mouthbreathing sycophants.

    Or, if your name is Howard Dean, they don’t run you out of the party, they just make you national committee chairman.

    Even if Bush didn’t have a good grasp of the various Muslim sects, I find it inconceivable that the Sunni/Shia split would never be raised in White House meetings following 9/11 or leading up to the war effort. Even if they did a terrible job of post-war planning, surely the War Room had to have discussed how to handle the factions before, during and after the invasion. That just seems ridiculous. It sounds like a great “see, Bush really is an idiot!” type of story for the anti-crowd to lap up, but I think it sounds too good to be true.

    BTW, what exactly is a “mouthbreathing sycophant” anyway? Just curious.

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  24. floyd says:

    tano; bandying,yes.not without purpose, but certainly without cause.

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  25. Dave E says:

    Try these:
    UN Speech, September 2002

    If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi’a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council resolutions.

    Cincinnati, October 2002

    Our demands are directed only at the regime that enslaves them and threatens us. When these demands are met, the first and greatest benefit will come to Iraqi men, women and children. The oppression of Kurds, Assyrians, Turkomans, Shi’a, Sunnis and others will be lifted.

    Seems to me Bush was quite aware of the two major branches of Islam.

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  26. Devil's Advocate says:

    Commander Codpiece does not know his arse from his elbow; never has, never will. Just like his mentally-challenged and intellectually-deficient followers.

    In the Bush bubble, ignorance is bliss. And stupidity and degeneracy reign.

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  27. Anderson says:

    I’m certain the CIA and State have made those distinctions countless times, but the issue is, did the message get through?

    Exactly. You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think (D. Parker).

    If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi’a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others

    Proof that Bush can … read a script! Not to mention that the inclusion of “Kurds” and “Turkomans” suggests different ethnicities, not sects.

    Really, whatever else you may think about the guy, his lack of curiosity & background info is well-documented.

    What’s almost as pathetic is the complete inability of certain commenters to ever shrug and say, “yeah, Bush blew that one.” People like them are in Russia today, wishing Stalin were still running things … *he* never made any mistakes either …

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  28. avi says:

    what nonsense. does anyone doubt that cheney and rumsfeld as well as all those “evil neocons” knew shiaa, sunni and kurd ? many mistakes were and still are being made, but this is inconceivable.

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  29. benjoya says:

    a lot of people think bush is hard-working, intellectually curious and fairly intelligent. a flea thinks a fly is huge.

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  30. [...] From the Known Unknowns Department: “While I don’t doubt the central thesis that Bush is not particularly intellectually curious, it’s almost inconceivable that anyone—let alone a man whose father was CIA Director, Vice President, and President—would not at least be aware of something so basic.” So we are left now in the conundrum. Bush did not know and can plead a certain ignorance which is no defense for what now goes on in Iraq. Or he did know and went ahead anyway with no clue of the consequences. The idiot of the past meets the fool of the future. So we slouch toward Baghdad. [...]

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  31. Steve says:

    …if a Demoncratic party leader was this stupid (forget partisonship, just focus on completely ignorant incompetance) he would be run out of the party, instead of lionized and propped up by mouthbreathing sycophants.

    BillT,
    What about Gore? He was stupid enough to lose the 2000 election and he’s still in the party. And Kerry was stupid enough to lose the 2004 election and he’s also still there. Wait, maybe Bush is just smarter than all the Democratic leaders and that’s what your angry about. Well, let’s see what happens in 2008. Maybe the Democrats can come up with someone smarter than Gore or Kerry. IMHO, they won’t (or can’t).
    Steve

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  32. Anderson says:

    does anyone doubt that cheney and rumsfeld as well as all those “evil neocons” knew shiaa, sunni and kurd ?

    Not the issue. I’m sure that Cheney & Rumsfeld knew that, though they obviously failed to take it into any serious consideration.

    But how would that imply that Bush knew? Cheney mainly operates by cutting Bush *out* of the loop. See Suskind’s last book for a few examples.

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  33. Anderson says:

    “Losing election” = “stupid”?

    I’m sorry, since when has it been an IQ test? Did the Reagan presidency never happen? Eisenhower? For that matter, was LBJ really smarter than Goldwater? JFK than Nixon? Permit me to doubt.

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  34. Anderson says:

    Granting that someone else actually wrote the speeches and merely uttering the words doesn’t prove that Bush internalized the distinctions, it does at least prove he was aware of the existence of the two sects by the time Galbraith claims otherwise.

    Sorry, JJ, but it “proves” no such thing. If he didn’t “internalize the distinctions,” which I would guess means “understand what he was reading,” then he evidently wasn’t “aware” of it later.

    As I occasionally must remind my 11-year-old, if you “learn” the square root of 36 on Monday and don’t remember it on Tuesday, then you haven’t learned it in any meaningful sense of the word.

    For Bush to have forgotten a fact so crucial to any postwar settlement in Iraq is pretty inexcusable, and not on a par with being unable to name the president of Chechnya on the spot.

    (I think the Shiite/Sunni anecdote was in Packer’s Assassins’ Gate, though Galbraith may well’ve been Packer’s source.)

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  35. Jo says:

    A book backed up with facts would mean that this person actually talked to GW Bush and found out what he did know … otherwise, we must consider the source.

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  36. Anderson says:

    A book backed up with facts would mean that this person actually talked to GW Bush and found out what he did know … otherwise, we must consider the source.

    Um, even if the person *did* talk to Bush, he would be suspect. Hell, if he had videotape, he’d be suspect … in this thread, anyway.

    Anyway, the Bush anecdote is trivia. What matters is that we’ve conducted our occupation of Iraq *as if* we had no clue of sectarian differences and their import. See Laura Rozen:

    From a colleague covering the conflict in Israel: “Almost everyone I talk to here is now saying the Iraq war has presented one of the most significant threats to Israel in its history.” Namely because it has so empowered Iran, and reduced US ability to deal with Iran now.

    This was *obvious* before the war. Saddam kept the minority Sunnis on top; unless he was replaced with another Sunni tyrant, the Shiites were going to rule, and they were going to be aided and influenced by their next-door neighbor Shiite regime, Iran, which previously had been reined in by fear of Saddam and memories of the super-bloody war they fought in the 1980s.

    And yet we acted as though Paul Bremer was going to change all this. Talk about “madman regimes” … ours sure qualifies.

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  37. Jim F says:

    “Galbraith is another leagacy like Plame and Wilson wanting cash.”

    A Bush supporter is attacking legacies? That’s pretty funny. Where would Bush be without legacies? He certainly wouldn’t be President.

    Bush has shown again and again how ignorant he is about geography. Blacks in Brazil, Russia being big, etc. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he didn’t know the difference between Shiites and Sunnis.

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  38. Merv Benson says:

    One of the reasons given for the liberation of Iraq was Saddam’s mass murder of the Shia and Kurds. The anti war left has tried to limit the reasons for going to war to Saddam’s WMD, so they may have overlooked some of the obvious evidence that disproves their latest “Bush is ignorant” meme. It has been a conceit of the left that all Republican Presidents since Eisenhower were either dumb or crooks or both. It is part of their belief system that if these people were really smart they would be Democrats and agree with them. It is unlikely they will ever MoveOn.

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  39. Herb says:

    JJ:

    Sorry ole boy, It looks like Anderson is making a play for your job, He seems to be explaining everything for you and grabbing the spotlight.

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  40. ATS says:

    There isn’t room enough here, or on the whole internet, for delineating what Bush did/does not know.

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  41. Anderson says:

    It has been a conceit of the left that all Republican Presidents since Eisenhower were either dumb or crooks or both.

    Why stop at Eisenhower? ;)

    But as I noted, neither JFK nor LBJ was a rocket scientist. Clinton *was* smart, and look where it got him.

    Of course, like most people who use expressions like “the anti war left,” Merv has little clue what he’s talking about. (Like, how could anyone possibly be against *war*, unless they were fruitcake Sheehan-worshipping lefties?)

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  42. McGehee says:

    It is inconceivable to many of us that this guy could become president of the united states, or that anyone could support him.

    And yet he is, and people do. Which seems to call into question the value of your subsequent asserton:

    I do not find it inconceivable that he didnt know about Sunnis and Shiites.

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  43. andrew says:

    If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi’a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council resolutions.

    Just because Bush said this in a speech does not mean that he understood the difference between Shiites and Sunnis; it just means that he was very vaguely aware, at one point, that there was something called Sunnis and something called Shi’a. Indeed, if you look at the context of this statement, it’s quite likely that a total ignoramus reading it would assume that Sunnnis and Shiites were an ethnic group like the Kurds and Turkomans.

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  44. C.Wagener says:

    Yes of course Bush is a moron. Flew super-sonic jets, graduate of HBS, consumes history books like Internet junkies consume diet Coke.

    Blacks in Brazil? Since the Democratic operative that made that claim was found out to be a fraud, being roughly a 1,000 miles away when the comment was supposedly made, and was forced to make a public apology shouldn’t stop anyone from using it as an example of how Bush is dumb.

    Oh and Reagan was stupid too. He won the Cold War and pulled the U.S. economy out of a death spiral. I sure wish we were on the Carter plan and had 10% unemployment like France and Germany. I have to admit I questioned Reagan’s intelligence when he was in office, but given the history, I could only stay with that conclusion if I didn’t have any intellectual curiosity.

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  45. freemti says:

    Look, this is silly. All this rushing to Bush’s defense about his latest lapse or past exposing of some other example of his overall lack of detailed or even more than general understanding of the subject de jour is pointless. It is patently obvious the man is short on ”big brains” he may even be short on ”medium” sized ones too. This is not really argueable – the are countless, multiform and manifold examples of this. In this particluar instance I think it is plain that he no more understands the lay of the land of the Middle East any more than he understands particle physics. Throw in the legacy mental issues of a career of hard drinking a

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  46. Invigilator says:

    “Reagan . . . pulled the US economy out of a death spiral” has got to be just about the most delusional statement I have ever read, anywhere.

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  47. walter66 says:

    you don’t think that Iranian spy Ahmed Chalabi would have left that little tidbit out of his briefing of the president……….do you?

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  48. Bill says:

    Look, this is silly. All this rushing to Freemti’s defense about his latest lapse or past exposing of some other example of his overall disgusting sexual perversions or even more specific actions is pointless. It is patently obvious the man is a complete pervert he may even be mentally ill. This is not really argueable – the are countless, multiform and manifold examples of this. In this particluar instance I think it is as plain what he was doing with that electric shaver and gerbil as it is what he would do with a pony, some quiet time and some astro-glide. Throw in the legacy mental issues of a career of patronizing tranny crack whores and it is clear what happens to a guy who can’t understand the difference between making bald unsupported assertions and actually presenting an argument.

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  49. Erik says:

    Consider this:
    “If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi’a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council resolutions.”
    and the speech quote after it refer to Saddam’s oppression of the Sunnis. Now when was that? When was Saddam persecuting Sunnis? He may have had a Sunni political opponent killed here and there. But you damn well know the Sunnis as a group would prefer he was in power still. And I’ll bet you, the leaders of Iran are well pleased to have the possibility of dealing with Malik rather than Saddam.

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  50. [...] See, I mentioned in a comment over at Ace’s yesterday or today (don’t ask me to find it, there are too many comments there to dig through) that this whole Up In Smoke/Reutergate thing was fishy. I question the timing! I thought that Adnan Hajj was a Rove plant, and he doctored the photos to deflect attention away from the fact that Peter Galbraith’s Bush-bashing book is being fact-checked by Rethugs! But NO! anyway, sure sounds like a deliberate set up to me to have general distrust of the horrific pictures we see from the war. [...]

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  51. Barry says:

    James Joyner: “While I don’t doubt the central thesis that Bush is not particularly intellectually curious, it’s almost inconceivable that anyone—let alone a man whose father was CIA Director, Vice President, and President—would not at least be aware of something so basic. ”

    There’s a line from Powell (?) about why Bush didn’t push on to Baghdad in the First Gulf War.
    It mentioned losing the support of allies, ending up holding the capital in a hostile country, facing a guerrilla war, etc.

    It was extremely relevant to the Second Gulf War, but there’s no sign that Bush was aware of that, either.

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  52. Patrick says:

    You know who the real ignoramuses are? Those who keep claiming, despite daily evidence to the contrary, that the war in Iraq is separate from the global war on terrorism.

    Just last week, 20 Al Qaeda terrorists were caught by Iraqi security forces; today, more Al Qaeda terrorists caught and killed: “Iraqi insurgents have killed eight civilians and a police captain in attacks around the country, as a joint Iraqi-US security operation arrested dozens of alleged Al-Qaeda suspects in Baghdad.”

    General Casey:
    “Since January, we have seen an upsurge in their [Iran's] support, particularly to the Shia’ extremist groups,” he said. “Their Quds force, their covert special operations forces, are the ones that are directing this. Now, you would assume that they’re not doing that independently, that there is some central direction from somebody in Tehran.”

    Sunni v Shia violence in Iraq is not the real story; the real story is that Al Qaeda, Iran and other malefactors have spent the last three years trying to *make* civil violence the story, in the process callously killing Iraqi policemen, foreign aid workers, civilian reconstruction workers, schoolchildren, professors, etc. Just about any form of civilization that is being built up, they attacked ; they particularly attacked Shia targets, like the Al Qaeda attack on Samarra’s Golden Dome mosque in February (done by a Tunisian terrorist); hundreds of attacks on Shia by the Al Qaeda terrorist insurgents to the first attacks on Shia mosques – in August 2003 – determined to create divisions in Iraq. Yet for years most of the Shia leaders (like Sistani) have counseled peace. The notable exception is Iran-backed kook Mookia al-Sadr, who killed not only US forces, but now are engaged in the killing of other Iraqis. al-Sadr is getting funding and aid from Iran, and this war is a proxy war by Iran and Syria and Al Qaeda against us, conspiring with Baathist insurgents and paying criminals to create the violence.

    The Sunni/Shia distinction, as noted by others, was known by Bush; it was in the calculations of CPA when they put together the initial governing council (and our assumptions of making such divisions between Sunni and Shia offended some Iraqis who felt their should not be such parochial quotas). So, when faced with evidence this claim is nonsense, anti-Bush liberals fall back on another lie, that Bush & Co. somehow “should have known” there was ethnic/religious tension between the groups. Only problem with this: It’s also untrue. Ordinary Iraqis will tell you there was no such divide. Shia and Sunni lived side by side, families intermarried, neighborhoods were mixed. the current frightening acts of militias and terrorists to target one group vs another is profoundly disorienting and new to many Iraqis.
    The claim that Saddam was killing only kurd and shia would be news to the many Sunnis who lost family members to Saddam’s killers.

    The rise in sectarian violence is not a natural act, it is a result of deliberate provocations by the insurgents and terrorists attempting to stoke such violence – Zarqawi’s letter to Al Qaeda that was intercepted back in 2005 laid out the plan, and explained how in many ways it was failing.

    What changed this year? The ramp-up from the Shiite side was from Iranian backed Shiite militias. The Iranians want Iraq unstable so we lose the war, bug out (like the Democrats advise), and thereby leave Iran to its own (nuclear) devices and ambitions.

    “Now when was that? When was Saddam persecuting Sunnis?” Erik, go to IraqTheModel and be educated a little. The terror regime that was Saddam’s Iraq terrorized all Iraqis except for a select few. Many of the dissidents to that regime are Sunni. Bush-bashers create their own myths as a way of ‘proving’ the ignorance of Bush – astounding.
    Alas, these myths are convenient for our enemies, for they mask the real troublemakers behind a facade of ethnic grouping. It’s not “Sunni v Shia” in Iraq, it’s a specific Shia milita (Mahdi army) and a terrorist insurgency (Al Qaeda, Baathists, and other ‘Salafists’) on the side of creating violence, and the vast majority of Iraqis with the Iraqi Government and coalition on the side of creating a stable democracy.

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  53. Patrick says:

    From a colleague covering the conflict in Israel: “Almost everyone I talk to here is now saying the Iraq war has presented one of the most significant threats to Israel in its history.” Namely because it has so empowered Iran, and reduced US ability to deal with Iran now.

    This is a self-refuting and delusional comment.
    Hezbollah in Lebanon, aided by Iran, we now know was planning the attacks on Israel *since 2000*.
    Iran has been trying to build nuclear weapons *for a decade*.
    There was little to nothing done in the Clinton administration or prior to 9/11 to stop this.

    The one thing that HAS helped was the breaking up the AQ Khan nuclear arms trade network in 2003, after the Iraq war. The Iraq invasion showed Libya’s Gadafi we were serious enough about terrorist-sponsors and WMD pursuers that he ‘came clean’… subsequently we found more about the rogue nations like Iran and RPNK that was benefitting from this network.

    What makes the above comment so absurd? Apparently we are led to believe that letting a terrorist-sponsoring regime off the hook wrt suspected WMDs, ie, letting UN inspectors go through the motions, while Saddam denies WMDs but evinces a ‘strategic ambiguity’ about having them, everyone in the region and his own generals believe he *does* have them … and we would then turn around and demand same from Iran? And we are to expect Iran would comply – at all?

    It’s folly. The only way to have stopped Iran from developing nukes is – war, regime change a la an “Operaion Ajax” support of democrat coup plotters. Diplomacy has failed, would have failed anyway, and would in ANY scenario fail, because Iran is immune from diplomatic pressure – they want a conflict and/or nukes badly enough that they will not negotiate them away. All the talk is just a delaying tactic.

    Iraq gets in the picture only so far as Iraq is now a proxy battlefield for Iran against the US. Iraq’s democracy poses a fundamental threat to Iran’s regime should it show success, so Iran has a vested interest in destabilizing Iraq and keeping it violence. Hence the clear evidence of Iranian meddling and support of violent militias.

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