Saturday, February 25, 2006

What's in the Cards

Columnist Geov Parrish calls the Samarra mosque bombing "Iraq's 9-11", saying:

It's almost impossible to overstate the importance of Wednesday Morning's destruction of the Askari mosque, a key Shi'a shrine, in Samarra, Iraq. The response, of course, has been swift, violent, and overwhelming. As of late Thursday Iraq time, the Australian Broadcast Corp. placed the national death toll from reprisals at 130, with most of the victims being Sunni. The hardline Sunni Clerical Association of Muslim Scholars claimed that 168 Sunni mosques have been attacked, and some burned to the ground, with 10 imams murdered and another 15 kidnapped since the bombing....

In other words, it's a mess.... While the majority of Iraqis almost certainly want to avoid all-out civil war, with so much weaponry in the country and such a long history of injustices perpetrated by all sides, this may have been the match that lit the tinderbox.

What can the United States do? Almost nothing.... As the inevitable waves of violence and counter-violence wear on, America is left with virtually no friends on any side, and virtually no credibility (other than its sheer military manpower, which it has been reluctant to deploy en masse) as a mediator that can stop the bloodshed. One of the likeliest outcomes of this attack is an escalation, perhaps a dramatic one, in Iraq's civil war.... But don't look for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq any time soon. President Bush will keep them there due to the civil war and may perhaps even expand their presence, ostensibly to curb the violence -- even though we likely will provoke far more violence than we prevent.

But the biggest fallout is likely to be political.... If the present government fails to form and/or disintegrates, the void is likely to be filled by more radical leaders, particularly clerics like al-Sadr.... Out of this chaos, he, or someone ideologically similar, could well be the one who seizes power -- If so, Iraq's transition from a savage secular dictatorship (under Saddam) to a savage cleric-led dictatorship, a transition made possible by George Bush, will be complete.

In the interim, there is an immediate and stark risk of even more of an escalation in Iraq's bloodshed, and, as has already been the case, the primary victims will be civilians... the bombing is a critical turning point. This has been an attack which has turned not only a mosque, but George Bush's entire Iraq policy, to rubble.
It has also just surfaced that we've had a bumper crop of "bad apples" recently; according to the Pentagon, 100 prisoners have died in US custody -- 34 of them, again according to the Pentagon, suspected or known homicides -- prisoners we've tortured to death, and, not wanting to be left out of good thing, more of our allies are getting in on the bloody action.

Meanwhile, on war's other front -- the home front, that is, as the grip of our dark overlords continues to tighten, even the voices of the right are starting to shout out warnings as the strangest of policies are being quietly implemented... and, dear reader, if you think events don't involve you,


Quote of the Day:
"First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."
--Pastor Martin Niemöller about the Nazi rise to power.

"A frog that jumps into boiling water will quickly jump out if it can. But if the frog is put in cool water and then the water is slowly warmed, it will remain until it is cooked, not recognizing the pending danger."
-- attributed to Professor Paul Dayton, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

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