Saturday December 31 2005
thanks to Conscientious
Top Ten Myths about Iraq in 2005
by Juan Cole
Iraq has unfortunately become a football in the rough and ready, two-party American political arena, generating large numbers of sound bites and so much spin you could clothe all of China in the resulting threads.
Here are what I think are the top ten myths about Iraq, that one sees in print or on television in the United States.
1. The guerrilla war is being waged only in four provinces. This canard is trotted out by everyone from think tank flacks to US generals, and it is shameful. Iraq has 18 provinces, but some of them are lightly populated. The most populous province is Baghdad, which has some 6 million residents, or nearly one-fourth of the entire population of the country. It also contains the capital. It is one of the four being mentioned!. Another of the four, Ninevah province, has a population of some 1.8 million and contains Mosul, a city of over a million and the country's third largest! It is not clear what other two provinces are being referred to, but they are probably Salahuddin and Anbar provinces, other big centers of guerrilla activity, bringing the total for the "only four provinces" to something like 10 million of Iraq's 26 million people.
But the "four provinces" allegation is misleading on another level. It is simply false. Guerrilla attacks occur routinely beyond the confines of Anbar, Salahuddin, Ninevah and Baghdad. Diyala province is a big center of the guerrilla movement and has witnessed thousands of deaths in the ongoing unconventional war. Babil province just south of Baghdad is a major center of back alley warfare between Sunnis and Shiites and attacks on Coalition troops. Attacks, assassinations and bombings are routine in Kirkuk province in the north, a volatile mixture of Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs engaged in a subterranean battle for dominance of the area's oil fields. So that is 7 provinces, and certainly half the population of the country lives in these 7, which are daily affected by the ongoing violence. It is true that violence is rare in the 3 northern provinces of the Kurdistan confederacy. And the Shiite south is much less violent than the 7 provinces of the center-north, on a good day. But some of this calm in the south is an illusion deriving from poor on the ground reporting. It appears to be the case that British troops are engaged in an ongoing struggle with guerrilla forces of the Marsh Arabs in Maysan Province. Even calm is not always a good sign. The southern port city of Basra appears to come by its via a reign of terror by Shiite religious militias.
Sunnis: "We went to a wedding, and it turned into a funeral"
That is the sentiment of Sunni Arabs in the wake of the Iraq election. Sunni leaders had high hopes when they decided to participate--rather than boycott--the elections. Despite a strong turnout, they received relatively few number of seats in the permanent government, leading many to claim widespread fraud.
The most prominent Sunnis who won the election were disqualified on Friday on suspicions they were high-ranking officials in Saddam's Baath Party. The decision to oust the most prominent Sunni winners has put the whole country on edge:
Meet your new Turkish overlord
by Steve Gilliard
This is the biggest overlooked issue of the war. I visited Turkey over the summer and had dozens of conversations with Turkish citizens, including three Kurds.
Amazingly, the opinions I heard about Kurdistan were completely unanimous, even from the Kurds.
First, when I asked what they thought Turkey would do if a Kurdish state were created.
Answer: Turkey would invade it immediately. I then asked what would happen if the US backed the Kurds. Answer: Then we would fight the Americans and it would be a very, very brutal war.
I asked why the issue was so important. Answer: A Kurdistan would destabilize the Kurdish portion of Turkey, which would jeopardize Turkey's control over the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
They added that water is Turkey's most valuable resource. One even said: "Iraq has oil, but we have water. The oil will run out, but the water will not. Besides, you can't drink oil, anyway."
Sounds like Slip Kid to me
Kurds preparing takeover; U.S. exit strategy at risk
The U.S. plan for leaving Iraq is in trouble, with more than 10,000 Kurds in the Iraqi army prepared to seize control of northern Iraq for an independent state.
The debacle that is the war in Iraq promises to get much worse.
There are several new additions to my Frappr! map. Another of my family signed up — Chantelle. There are three bloggers that I read regularly: Eliot Gelwan (one of the first bloggers I started reading 5 years ago), James Luckett, and Ronni Bennett (who has an excellent blog on aging.) There are two who I know from Rangefinder Forum: Dan Snelson and Jan Normandale. And a number of readers that are new to me: Daniele (Italy), Jerry Jones (Netherlands), Alex Sly (Argentina), L Marques (Portugal), Tamar, Lalo, Christian Bech (Denmark), Chris200, DWC, and Steve Scherbinski. Thanks to everyone for signing up. It's nice to know that there is someone out there reading what I have to post. It's encouraging. Thanks!
A Postcard from New Orleans
As we got into the really hard-hit neighborhoods, it became clear that much of the city is still almost uninhabited. Apparently the population of the city proper has been reduced from about 500,000 to around 100,000. This scene in the 9th Ward is typical. There are blocks and blocks with no-one around and all the vehicles ruined and abandoned. Here and there, a house has life and fresh paint and a clean vehicle.
A Shared Uncertainty
Hurricane Unites Evacuees on Both Sides Of New Orleans's Divide of Race and Class
NEW ORLEANS Joseph and Kesa Williams have come home once since Hurricane Katrina chased them off to Atlanta. Once was all they could bear.
Inside their ruined house on Delery Street in the Lower Ninth Ward, they found ceilings collapsed, possessions rotted and mold triumphant. They had expected as much from watching TV news. Much more disturbing was the abandoned-graveyard feel of the entire neighborhood, where working-class black families have owned houses for generations.
"From what I could see, nothing was happening," said Joseph Williams, 32, who has a new job as a probation officer in suburban Atlanta. "The only thing I found in my house that was worth taking was my high school class ring. I threw it back on the floor and we left."
Across town, Gary and Bea Quaintance, together with their son, Steven, 16, have moved back into their house on Memphis Street in Lakeview, a white middle-class neighborhood that was also wrecked by Katrina. Theirs, though, is an isolated, post-apocalyptic style of housekeeping. Lakeview is a neighborhood in name only, especially at night. The Quaintances are the only family on their block.
is it too late?
The Fatal Consequences of ...
thanks to Magpie
The War on Science
DS: The book title specifically singles out Republican interference with objective science as opposed to The Political War on science or the Democratic War on science. Why so?
CM: Because at least at the present moment in American history, the Republicans are by far the worst offenders. I mean, it isn't even close. Do the Democrats deny plate tectonics or the germ theory of disease? No--but many Republicans are compelled, by their allegiance to the conservative Christian base, to undermine and denigrate evolution, the foundational theory of modern biology.
And this gets to the other way that I explain the title. If it's "politicization of science" that we're worried about, then we need to offer a political explanation for why this phenomenon is happening. And that's what I've done. Science, I say, is being misused and attacked repeatedly by Republican politicians and political appointees, and there's a clear reason for that. In almost all of the major cases that we know of, the attacks on science are clearly traceable to an attempt to appease the Republican political base--either corporate interests on the one hand, or Christian conservatives on the other.
Because of this political dynamic, which is unique to the GOP, "The Republican War on Science" is by far the most accurate title I could have come up with for the book. Of course, I realize that it's also the most controversial. But I think a lot of my readers appreciate that I'm not shying away from explaining what's really going on.
DS: What would you say the biggest threat is to the general public from ideologically driven pseudo-science?
CM: The big picture is this: I fear that policymaking in this country will increasingly become divorced from actual, reliable information about reality. This could ultimately undermine our democracy itself. Remember, most of our elected leaders aren't scientists, which means that they simply must rely upon expertise from others that they themselves do not possess. So if the channels of communication between politicians and scientific experts get corrupted enough, the process of decision-making will be crippled--and disastrous decisions could result.
i made it all the way to now
But only barely. Christmas was great. It started on Wednesday. Our friend Kim came over and Kim, Zoe and I spent the afternoon in a gift wrapping frenzy. We finished at 4:00 just when my oldest, Jenny, and her family, William, Evan, and Robyn, arrived. They came up from Colorado the day before. We hadn't seen them since the end of July when William came back from Iraq. Thursday night Kim and Doug came over for a rare evening of socializing and a rousing game of King's Cribbage. King's Cribbage is a cross between cribbage and Scrabble. Fortunately Zoe beat me. Friday night my youngest daughter Katie had a housewarming in her new house. Jenny and William were staying with her and several cousins showed up. A good time but Zoe and Gerry are getting tired. Early Saturday evening, Christmas Eve, Jenny and William, with kids Evan and Robyn, as well as Katie with her little boy Mike showed up to exchange gifts. Two hours of opening presents, snacking, and visiting. By now we are all getting tired. Sunday morning we are out the door by 9:00am to catch the ferry to get to my brother's by 11:00 for Christmas. My whole family is there from my mother, my siblings, my children and assorted nieces, nephews, spouses, and children. This is not a shy and retiring crowd. Exchange gifts and eat food with more than average merriment. By now Zoe, Gerry, and I are zombies. Monday my son Robby and his girlfriend Hannah came over to exchange gifts and visit. He had to work Saturday and couldn't join us then. By the time they left we were exhausted. Zoe started coming down with a cold, Gerry's lungs were not doing well, nor were mine. But it was worth it.
From Monday till today the three of us have been sick. Last night we had a caregiver over to put Gerry to bed. Gerry is fearful of being alone in her room at night. It really freaks her out. We got her to agree to have a caregiver over to be with her so she isn't alone. In the middle of all this, last night, Zoe is trying to figure out which Medicare prescription plan to sign Gerry up for. We had to sign her up by midnight. She was on the phone from 2pm till around 10. It was a nightmare. She got some information on line and we both tried to make sense of it and we both were exhausted and not feeling well at all. By then Carol, the caregiver, had Gerry down and was able to help us try to figure it out. It all sort of became a moot point when she told us that when we put Gerry into a home the home will put her on whatever plan they use. Since that is probaly going to happen within the next month it didn't make a whole lot of difference. Zoe decided on a plan and she had Gerry enrolled with minutes to spare.
This morning I was really dragged out and slept most of the day. Sleep is wonderfully restorative when you can get it. Carol came back tonight and that went well. Having someone come in the evenings will give us a big break. Maybe we could actually go see a movie!