Just Jihad: May 2006: Archives

May 31, 2006

U.S. To Enter Talks With Iran genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

It is being reported that the United States is ready to enter into talks with Iran in an effort to resolve the issues surrounding Iran's efforts to obtain nuclear capabilities. In the past, the administration has opposed direct talks with Iran but under this new arrangement, the U.S. would join other countries in the dialogue. Bloomberg.com has the full story here.

May 31 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. will join European talks with Iran about its nuclear program if enrichment of uranium is ``verifiably'' halted, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will say later today, according to excerpts of her remarks released by the State Department.

"There are going to be some changes'' in the U.S. approach that Snow said would make the allies' previous position "more robust and muscular.''

"There are not going to be direct talks with Iran, one-on- one,'' he said.

Full details have yet to be made available, but more information is expected from Secretary Rice later today. Speculation includes the possibility that the U.S. will join the talks in an effort to gain assurances from Russia and China that they would not block the passage of a resolution by the United Nations Security Council that would impose sanctions on Iran if it continues to pursue nuclear capability.

The Bush administration, in an effort to win Russian support, has agreed to narrow the relevant language from the UN Charter, the New York Times reported today, citing U.S. and European officials.

If the council invokes only Article 41 of Chapter Seven, instead of the whole thing, the resolution will make no mention of the possible use of force. Article 41 lists the "complete or partial interruption of economic relations'' and communications, along with diplomatic curbs as possible punishments.

Daniel DiRito | May 31, 2006 | 8:25 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 30, 2006

Iraq: The Uncivil War genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The news out of Iraq over the weekend offered little encouragement that the establishment of a new government is directly connected to more stability or likely to lead to less violence. Two recent articles discuss the continued sectarian violence fueled by growing militia activity. Nir Rosen offers additional pessimism in a Washington Post article here and The New York Times reports that reserve troops stationed in Kuwait are being moved to western Iraq here.

From the Washington Post:

The sectarian tensions have overtaken far more than Iraq's security forces and its streets. Militias now routinely enter hospitals to hunt down or arrest those who have survived their raids. And many Iraqi government ministries are now filled with the banners and slogans of Shiite religious groups, which now exert total control over these key agencies. If you are not with them, you are gone.

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON, May 29 — The top American commander in Iraq has decided to move reserve troops now deployed in Kuwait into the volatile Anbar Province in western Iraq to help quell a rise in insurgent attacks there, two American officials said Monday.

Although some soldiers from the 3,500-member brigade in Kuwait have moved into Iraq in recent months, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. has decided to send in the remainder of the unit after consultations with Iraqi officials in recent days, the officials said.

At the same time, with each instance that the Iraqi's engage in activities to further construct a government, the Bush administration touts the action as a key step in the Iraqi transition to democracy. Granted, the moves to form a government are noteworthy, but at some point these actions taken under heavily protected cover will have to translate into security and safety for the average Iraqi citizen. While the government is considering the number and type of armored vehicles to purchase for each elected official, the latter continues to move in the opposite direction.

From the Washington Post:

Sunnis and Shiites alike were pushed into the arms of their respective militias, often joining out of self-defense. Shiites obtained lists of the Baath party cadres that were the foundation of Hussein's regime and began systematically assassinating Sunnis who had belonged. Sunni militias that had fought the American occupier became Sunni militias protecting Sunni territory from Shiite incursions and retaliating in Shiite areas. The insurgency became secondary as resistance moved to self-defense. In the Shiite-dominated south, meanwhile, Shiite militias battled each other and the British forces.

Sectarian and ethnic cleansing has since continued apace, as mixed neighborhoods are "purified." In Amriya, dead bodies are being found on the main street at a rate of three or five or seven a day. People are afraid to approach the bodies, or call for an ambulance or the police, for fear that they, too, will be found dead the following day. In Abu Ghraib, Dora, Amriya and other once-diverse neighborhoods, Shiites are being forced to leave. In Maalif and Shaab, Sunnis are being targeted.

The world wonders if Iraq is on the brink of civil war, while Iraqis fear calling it one, knowing the fate such a description would portend. In truth, the civil war started long before Samarra and long before the first uprisings. It started when U.S. troops arrived in Baghdad. It began when Sunnis discovered what they had lost, and Shiites learned what they had gained. And the worst is yet to come.

From the New York Times:

The movement of the brigade comes as several senior American officials in Iraq have begun to raise doubts about whether security conditions there will permit significant troop reductions in coming months.

"General Casey has been working with the government of Iraq, and he has asked permission to draw forward more forces that will be operating in Anbar," a senior military official said. The officials were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to talk officially about continuing troop movements.

One senior American commander said recently that military officials still remain hopeful that they can reduce the troop presence in Iraq by 25 percent by the end of the year, but he admitted that there was no timetable and much of that hope rests on the performance of the fledgling Iraqi government in coming months.

It seems apparent that the Iraqi forces are not prepared to assume the responsibility for security. Further, the Iraqi forces that are functional may have become so sectarian in nature that they may simply add to the violence as groups seek to assume power and purge areas of opposition populations. The fact that the training of the Iraqi forces was late in its execution and fully inadequate likely gave local militias the necessary opportunity to infiltrate and assert influence over newly forming government forces. See prior Thought Theater postings here and here.

The question that I keep coming back to is what will it take to have an Iraqi government and security force to control the violence and settle the sectarian conflict when it cannot currently be contained with the presence of the full U.S. deployment combined with the reportedly growing and functional Iraqi military? If one were to assume that the Iraqi forces are nearing an equal level of ability as the U.S. forces, then by any mathematical calculation we are still only half way towards the goal of concluding that the Iraqi forces are able to assume full responsibility for the security of the country. Further, it has taken in excess of three years to reach this point. Again, mathematically that would indicate we may be as far as three more years away from the reality of full U.S. troop withdrawal. Lastly, all of these assumptions are reliant on the hope and belief that sectarian issues do not grow, that terrorist insurgency remains relatively stable, and that neighboring countries refrain from attempting to exert additional influences. I'm going to need a little more time to adjust my optimism.

Daniel DiRito | May 30, 2006 | 8:12 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 26, 2006

UPI: How Can Islamist Extremism Be Curbed genre: Hip-Gnosis & Just Jihad & Six Degrees of Speculation

United Press International has a good article on how the West needs to rethink its approach to the growing wave of Islamist extremism. Read the full article here.

Bassam Tibi, a professor-at-large at Cornell University and faculty member of Germany's University of Goettingen, maintained the West cannot properly cope with jihadism, or faith-driven struggle, through an "old state-centered approach," and use of regular armed forces.

"In such cases (where religion is involved) then there can be no room left for rational conflict resolution," Tibi said Wednesday at an international conference held in Israel on radical Islam. He thus shared the analysis of some Israeli experts following Hamas' victory in the last elections.

Tibi, who proudly presented himself as a descendent of an old Damascus noble family, said Islamists perceive themselves as "true believers" and seek a new world order based on the Sharia religious laws. Islamism is a political ideology that seeks to replace the Western secular system.

"Political Islam is inspired by an Islamic nostalgia aimed at reviving Islam's glory... in a new Islamic shape," he maintained.

The Islamists seek to "topple existing regimes at home" and replace them with "the rule of God... (It) is not the restoration of the Caliphate, but rather an establishing of a nizam Islami (Islamic order) that ranks as a top priority on the agenda of Islamism."

"One cannot fight fundamentalists with armies," Tibi continued. "Jihadism is not only an ideology of religious extremism, but also a new concept of warfare."

Its most important element is to undermine the Islamists' "appeal and their call for an Islamic order.

Tibi advocated "a war of ideas... against the ideology of Islamism." It must involve Muslims, "to avert the perception of a war on Islam."

The article is particularly interesting because of the comparisons one can make to religious fundamentalists in the United States. Clearly, there are differences but the underlying thinking is quite similar. Both groups seek to establish a new order based upon ideological beliefs that emanate from religious doctrine. The concept of the nation/state becomes secondary to establishing the preferred religious hierarchy. Islamists have resorted to acts of violence to propel their movement. While this is a significant differentiation from U.S. religious fundamentalists, the question is whether the distinction is a function of philosophy or if it may simply indicate one movement has traveled further down the natural evolutionary path associated with such ideological thought processes. I'm hopeful the conclusion of the American experience will be the former.

Daniel DiRito | May 26, 2006 | 10:40 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 25, 2006

Military Discharge Of Gays On The Rise genre: Gaylingual & Just Jihad & Polispeak

The Los Angeles Times reports that military discharges of gays increased 11% in the last year. Read the article here.

WASHINGTON — The number of military members discharged under the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals rose by 11% last year, the first increase since 2001, officials said Wednesday.

A Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, said 726 service members were discharged under the policy during the 2005 budget year that ended Sept. 30. That compares with 653 discharges the year before. She released the figures after a gay rights group said it had obtained the statistics on its own.

I completely disagree with the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and I find it curious that during this time of war that we can afford to lose qualified and trained military personnel. If I were into reading tea leaves, I might be inclined to believe the recent rumblings that the administration will reduce troop deployments in Iraq before the end of the year. Certainly the fact that this is the first increase in discharges since 2001 is a mere coincidence, right? Regardless, the policy is deplorable.

Daniel DiRito | May 25, 2006 | 3:09 PM | link | Comments (0)
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May 23, 2006

Newsweek: New Bush Strategy - Containment genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Michael Hirsh of Newsweek offers some interesting observations on what he believes will be the new Bush administration policy of "containment" with regard to a number of persistent issues. Read the full article here.

May 22, 2006 - An old word is gaining new currency in Washington: containment. You may be hearing a lot more of it as the Bush administration hunkers down for its final two years. Containment of Iraq’s low-level civil war, which shows every sign of persisting for years despite the new government inaugurated this week. Containment of Iran’s nuclear power, which may lead to a missile defense system in Europe. Containment of the Islamism revived by Hamas and Hizbullah, by the Sunni suicide bombers in Iraq, as well as by the “Shiite Crescent"—as Jordan’s King Abdullah once called it—running from Iran through Southern Iraq and into the Gulf.

While Hirsh has identified the major issues in the middle east, one must also consider North Korea, the growing trensions with leftist regimes in South America, and much of the world's increasingly negatve perceptions of America and Americans (see this prior posting).

So today’s containment is a furtive policy being developed willy-nilly behind the scenes, as Bush’s pragmatic second-term officials seek to clean up the vast Mideast mess left by the ideologues who dominated in the first term. A series of cautious concepts similar to those that came to dominate the cold war are emerging as the least worst way of holding off powerful forces that are also going to be around for along time: disintegration in Iraq, expansion in Iran, Islamism all over.

According to U.S. officials, Maliki failed to fill the critical defense and interior ministry posts over the weekend because every well-known candidate was deemed too sectarian or too associated with militias. As a result, whoever is chosen, it is becoming clear that Maliki’s government will likely become a government of nobodies—in other words, inoffensive but weak individuals.

So the very best that can be hoped for in Iraq, probably for many years to come, will be a non-bloodbath, a low-level civil war that doesn’t get worse than the current cycle of insurgent killings and Shiite death-squad reprisals. This is bad, but it could be much worse. Containment, says one Army officer involved in training in Iraq, is at least "doable." He adds: "The only real question is: How do we keep Iraq from becoming a permissive environment for terrorists."

The New York Times reported Monday that the Bush administration hopes to establish an antimissile site in Europe design to forestall Iranian attacks. (Shades of the cold war). “I think you could describe our approach as containment," says a senior U.S. official.

Whoever becomes the next president will inherit most of these problems—and, it is likely, the policy of containment as well.

The biggest problem with the new embrace of containment in this era, of course, is that it is largely unconscious—and it has gone unacknowledged in public. It may be time to call it by its name.

As I finished reading the article, one thought immediately entered my mind. In 2008, as the country will be in the midst of electing a new president, could the campaign language of the Democrats be as simple as asking the question, "Are you living in a safer world today than you were before 9/11?"

If that's the case, then the outline of the Bush legacy will be clearly in place. What will have begun as a worldwide sanctioned war on terror...then morphed into a manifesto to export democracy to the oppressed nations of the world after the invasion of Iraq...then became a failed effort to create a functional democracy in a country plagued by sectarian conflict...then became a containment policy reminiscent of the cold war where more rogue regimes possessed nuclear capability, the middle east became more unstable, Islamic extremists grew exponentially and gained influence in more countries, and South America turned sharply left. Unfortunately, that merely covers the foreign policy legacy. The domestic legacy may be equally unsettling.

If I were asked in 2009 to provide a short summation of what went wrong, I believe I already have the answer I would offer. George Bush was a man focused on legacy...unfortunately his focus came from a preoccupation with looking backward instead of looking forward. Obsessed with not repeating the mistakes that led his father to serve but one term, he was unable to separate the decisions he encountered from the fears he embraced.

He wagered his legacy on political strategies that were singularly guided by the goal of retaining a majority constituency. He partnered with the similarly motivated and equally obsessed Karl Rove to establish, exert, and retain power. They approached their goal with a fervor not seen since the presidency of Richard Nixon. In the end, George Bush will likely serve the remainder of his second term. Nonetheless, he will be seen to have won a number of battles but when all is said and done he will have ultimately lost the war.

Daniel DiRito | May 23, 2006 | 3:24 PM | link | Comments (0)
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May 22, 2006

Israel: Iran Only Months From Nuclear Weapon genre: Just Jihad

United Press International reports that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel believes that Iran is mere months from having a nuclear weapon. The fact that Olmert has chosen to make such a public assertion raises the question if Israel is signaling pending military action against Iran. It is difficult to imagine that Israel would allow Iran to possess nuclear weapons.

It is also possible that Israel is attempting to put further pressure on those nations currently negotiating with Iran in order to finalize some negotiated arrangement that prevents Iran's unfettered foray into nuclear weaponry.

The statement further supports fears that the U.S. is in the process of planning for a strike against Iran.

WASHINGTON, May 22 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Iran is only months away from its first nuclear weapon.

Disagreeing with those who say Iran is 5 to 10 years away from being able to make a nuclear weapon, Olmert told CNN, "The technological threshold is very close. It can be measured by months rather than years."

Iran has ignored a U.N. Security Council demand that it stop nuclear-enrichment activities or face possible sanctions, stating it wants nuclear power only for domestic purposes, a claim challenged by mane Western nations.

Daniel DiRito | May 22, 2006 | 8:34 AM | link | Comments (2)
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May 21, 2006

Iraq: More Evidence Of Failed Planning genre: Just Jihad & Six Degrees of Speculation

The New York Times has an excellent article on the failure of the Bush administration to anticipate the security needs in Iraq and to plan for rebuilding a police force to maintain order in the wake of toppling Hussein. Read the full article here.

As chaos swept Iraq after the American invasion in 2003, the Pentagon began its effort to rebuild the Iraqi police with a mere dozen advisers. Overmatched from the start, one was sent to train a 4,000-officer unit to guard power plants and other utilities. A second to advise 500 commanders in Baghdad. Another to organize a border patrol for the entire country.

Before the war, the Bush administration dismissed as unnecessary a plan backed by the Justice Department to rebuild the police force by deploying thousands of American civilian trainers.

After Baghdad fell, when a majority of Iraqi police officers abandoned their posts, a second proposal by a Justice Department team calling for 6,600 police trainers was reduced to 1,500, and then never carried out. During the first eight months of the occupation — as crime soared and the insurgency took hold — the United States deployed 50 police advisers in Iraq.

What becomes increasingly apparent in reading this and many other reports on the planning and decision making for this war is the disregard for the cautions and concerns expressed by those who were not part of the administration's inner circle of advisors. Those who continue to defend Defense Secretary Rumsfeld do so despite the growing evidence that he is a man with a penchant for intransigence who routinely dismissed the suggestions and cautions issued by subordinates. The calls for his resignation by numerous generals simply serve to support the negative data that continues to surface.

Field training of the Iraqi police, the most critical element of the effort, was left to DynCorp International, a company based in Irving, Tex., that received $750 million in contracts. The advisers, many of them retired officers from small towns, said they arrived in Iraq and quickly found themselves caught between poorly staffed American government agencies, company officials focused on the bottom line and thousands of Iraqi officers clamoring for help.

This spring, three years after administration officials rejected the large American-led field training effort, American military commanders are adopting that very approach. Declaring 2006 the year of the police, the Pentagon is dispatching a total of 3,000 American soldiers and DynCorp contractors to train and mentor police recruits and officers across Iraq.

Once again, we see that only long after the evidence on the ground clearly demonstrates the miscalculation, does this administration adapt the approach. In the meantime, the lives of American soldiers and numerous Iraqi civilians are lost unnecessarily as a result of these countless strategy mistakes. Not only did the administration ignore the advice of numerous experts, they ignored recent historical information that clearly did not support their approach.

In Kosovo, one-tenth the size of Iraq, the United Nations fielded about 4,800 police officers. In Bosnia, 2,000 international police officers trained and monitored local forces.

Two lessons had emerged from the Balkans, Mr. Mayer said. "Law and order first," a warning that failing to create an effective police force and judicial system could stall postwar reconstruction efforts. Second, blanketing local police stations with foreign trainers also helped ensure that cadets applied their academy training in the field and helped deter brutality, corruption and infiltration by militias, he said.

General Garner raised an ambitious plan by Richard Mayer, a Justice Department police-training expert on his staff, to send 5,000 American and foreign advisers to Iraq. Mr. Mayer said his detailed, inch-and-a-half-thick plan included organizational tables, budgets and schedules.

Even before General Garner presented his case, Pentagon officials were criticizing reconstruction efforts known as nation building. In a speech on Feb. 14, 2003, Mr. Rumsfeld warned that international peacekeeping operations could create "a culture of dependence" and that a long-term foreign presence in a country "can be unnatural."

I was struck by the observation that the administration continued to criticize nation building in the build-up to the invasion and seemingly made decisions with that principle in mind...despite the evidence that an invasion of Iraq would likely place the United States in that very position. Keep in mind that President Bush campaigned against nation building in 2000 and that john Kerry campaigned in 2004 for the need to drastically increase the training of an Iraqi security force. Astonishingly, we have become nation builders and we have failed to train a security force that might have minimized the appearance, if not the need, to become nation builders. The contradictions are striking and difficult to explain.

Mr. Bremer said he repeatedly pushed for more trainers during the summer of 2003 but was told that no foreign countries were willing to send large numbers of police officers, and that DynCorp was unable to find Americans.

Across Baghdad, 2,600 military policemen carried out joint patrols with Iraqis and tried to secure a city twice the size of Chicago.

By comparison, Chicago's police force is over 13,000 and New York's is over 40,000 (find data source here). The numbers speak for themselves. Any notion that the city of Baghdad, in the midst of a war, could be secured on the paltry basis noted above is unconscionable.

By August, the field training plan had shrunk. Mr. Bremer said his staff, frustrated by the inability to get enough manpower, dropped the target number to 3,500 trainers from 6,600. By September, it fell to 1,500.

Mr. Bremer said he repeatedly complained in National Security Council meetings chaired by Ms. Rice and attended by cabinet secretaries that the quality of police training was poor and focused on producing high numbers.

"They were just pulling kids off the streets and handing them badges and AK-47's," Mr. Bremer said.

Mr. Bremer and his staff backed a plan to reduce the number of field trainers to 500 from 1,500, and use the remaining funds to intensively train senior Iraqi police officials.

Mr. Powell and Richard L. Armitage, then the deputy secretary of state, said in e-mail and phone interviews that they both fought the reduction. They argued that the police trainers could still operate in safer areas outside the Sunni Triangle.

They lost the fight in Washington in March 2004. The field training of a new Iraqi police force — at this point some 90,000 officers — was now left to 500 American contractors from DynCorp.

Is there any doubt as to why Colin Powell ultimately left this administration? Time and again, the expertise of those in key positions was ignored in favor of the preferences of a select group of insiders that clearly included Secretary Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney. Condoleezza Rice, Powell's replacement, has simply become a mouthpiece to defend the decisions made by this administration. The motivation behind the replacement of an experienced military operative with a trusted Bush apologist is akin to the appointment of Harriet Meyers to the Supreme Court. Sadly, those cultural conservatives who savaged Meyers quietly accepted the replacement of Powell with Rice without objection. From my perspective, the latter is far more representative of moral bankruptcy. It simply points out the fully misguided values of these cultural conservatives.

Jon Villanova, a North Carolina deputy sheriff hired by DynCorp, said he was promoted to manage other trainers in southern Iraq four months into his yearlong stint. Under the plan drawn up by the Justice Department team, he would have commanded a battalion of at least 500 trainers.

What he got instead was a squad of 40 men to train 20,000 Iraqi policemen spread through four provinces. He said he could not even dream of giving them the kind of one-on-one mentoring that American police cadets received. His team struggled merely to visit their stations once a month.

From September 2004 through April this year, 2,842 police officers were killed and 5,812 were injured, according to American records, which are not available for the first 17 months of the war.

By December 2004, there were also signs that the police were being drawn into the evolving sectarian battles. Senior officers in the police department in the southern city of Basra were implicated in the killings of 10 members of the Baath Party, and of a mother and daughter accused of prostitution, according to a State Department report.

By then there was a growing sense among American officials that the civilian training program was not working, and the United States military came up with its own plan. It was the Americans' third strategy for training the Iraqi police, and it would run into the worst problems of all. Basra was just the beginning.

Can there be any doubt that the security planning for Iraq has been a failure? It is no wonder that the American public grows increasingly skeptical of the efforts in Iraq. Each miscalculation costs lives, money, and American credibility in the eyes of the rest of the world. Each day that passes without a workable plan serves to lessen the ability to overcome the increasing objections to the war. At the same time, the reality is that even if we withdraw from Iraq, we will have left the region far less stable, heightened the distrust and dislike of the United States, and given Islamic extremists ample fodder to foment further terrorism. That's a very steep price to pay for refusing to admit mistakes when they still have the potential to be rectified.

Daniel DiRito | May 21, 2006 | 7:52 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 19, 2006

Iraq: Middle Class Melt Down genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Since failing to find WMD's in Iraq, the Bush administration has made the exporting of democracy to oppressed countries a key talking point when explaining the invasion. We routinely hear about the 25 million people who were freed and given the ability to elect a government of their choosing. There is merit in these ideals but the process involved in bringing such lofty goals to fruition is proving to be extremely complicated. An article in the New York Times points out a troubling issue that has received little attention. Read the full article here.

In the latest indication of the crushing hardships weighing on the lives of Iraqis, increasing portions of the middle class seem to be doing everything they can to leave the country. In the last 10 months, the state has issued new passports to 1.85 million Iraqis, 7 percent of the population and a quarter of the country's estimated middle class.

The school system offers another clue: Since 2004, the Ministry of Education has issued 39,554 letters permitting parents to take their children's academic records abroad. The number of such letters issued in 2005 was double that in 2004, according to the director of the ministry's examination department. Iraqi officials and international organizations put the number of Iraqis in Jordan at close to a million.

Sometimes the simplest statements contain the most truth. The sign mentioned in the following paragraph is a full scale indictment of the progress being made as well as a blistering commentary on the intransigent nature of the conflict. When an average resident of Iraq has a better grip on the basic realities than those attempting to bring democracy and those intent on honoring sectarian allegiances, it is hard to imagine that resolution is imminent. It also points out the well established practicality of the middle class...those people who work hard each day and have little time to engage in ideological rhetoric. If Iraq's middle class is lost, I see little hope for progress.

Residents have been known to protest, at least on paper. In an act of helpless fury this winter, a large banner hung across a house in Dawra that read, "Do God and Islam agree that I should leave my house to live in a camp with my five children and wife?"

In Dawra, one of the worst areas in all of Baghdad, public life has ground to a halt. Four teachers have been killed in the past 10 days in Mr. Bahjat's area alone, and the Ahmed al-Waily primary school where the Bahjat boys, ages 12 and 8, studied, may not be able to hold final exams because of the killings. And three teachers from the Batoul secondary school were shot in late April.

Trash is collected only sporadically. On April 3, insurgents shot seven garbage collectors to death near their truck, and their bodies lay in the area for eight hours before the authorities could collect them, said Naeem al-Kaabi, deputy mayor for municipal affairs in Baghdad. In all, 312 trash workers have been killed in Baghdad in the past six months.

But it was the increasingly sectarian nature of the violence, deeply painful to Iraqis who are proud of their intermarried heritage, that tipped the scales as Falah Kubba and his wife, Samira, considered leaving with Fehed, Roula, 13, and Heya, 12.

"The past few months convinced us," said Mr. Kubba, a businessman whose wife is Sunni. "Now they are killing by ID's. The killing around Americans was something different, but the ID's, you can't move around on the streets."

Daniel DiRito | May 19, 2006 | 8:38 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 16, 2006

Gitmo List Raises Questions genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

Where oh where can they be? The Pentagon has released a list of all the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay In Cuba; however none of the known high profile individuals appeared on the list. The absence of these well known names left open the longstanding question of whether the U.S. is operating detention facilities in other foreign countries. Read the full article here.

The U.S. says it has held 759 males, ranging from teenagers to older than 70, from more than 40 countries, according to the list released late Monday in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by The Associated Press.

The Pentagon released the list while denying the AP access to other information about the detainees, most of whom were held on suspicion of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban following the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.

The list released Monday also does not specify what has happened to former Guantanamo Bay detainees.

Some could be free. Others could be in secret U.S. detention centers, or in torture cells of prisons in other countries.

Daniel DiRito | May 16, 2006 | 7:27 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 15, 2006

Iraq: A Reality Check (Update) genre: Just Jihad & Six Degrees of Speculation

UPDATE:

Despite some progress towards establishing a new government, the situation on the ground in Iraq continues to be troubling. The problem is that the establishment of a new government may have little relationship to the violence that is taking place and that seems to be on the verge of spiraling into a full scale sectarian civil war. The following excerpts are from an article by the United Press International.

As leaders bicker and bargain over who should assume what ministry in the government that Prime Minister-designate Nouri Maliki is trying to form, the streets of Baghdad and other cities across Iraq are being littered with dead bodies.

A suicide bombing here leaves dozens dead and maimed. Trigger-happy assassins there riddle holes in people for reasons only the shooters and their employers know. Dozens of corpses turn up daily in alleys, handcuffed and shot execution style, with signs of torture on their bodies.

President Jalal Talabani said Thursday that 1,091 people were killed in Baghdad alone last month, many of them unidentified corpses.

Other than the insurgency attacks targeting U.S. and other occupation troops, reports show the largest portion of the bloody violence is sectarian-oriented.

Apparently, there is no trust even among the security forces belonging to the interior and defense ministries.

Last month, the defense ministry advised Iraqis not to comply with the orders of the army or police on night patrol "unless they are accompanied by coalition forces in the area."

Iraqi analysts say the defense ministry's advisory only confirmed suspicions among Iraqis that the security forces are nothing more than militias loyal to the religious and political parties.

In a sectarian-oriented incident Friday, Iraqi army units opened fire at each other north of Baghdad, killing one soldier and a civilian passerby -- both victims were Shiites.

The reported shooting, analysts say, shows that the extensive sectarian distrust has penetrated the U.S.-trained forces.

While the Bush administration seems to be focusing on the establishment of a government, it appears that any such government may simply find itself helpless to conduct the activities one would associate with a functional system. If the newly trained Iraqi forces are splintering on the basis of sectarian allegiances, the ability to remove American soldiers may well be evaporating. Further, if the administration elects to reduce troop levels prior to the midterm elections, it may actually help facilitate the slide to civil war. In my opinion, the current problems are symptoms of having never established a valid security system within the occupied country. This resulted from miscalculating the number of troops needed once Sadaam was toppled from power. Lastly, it appears that the United States may be disengaging at the very moment that sectarian militias are mobilizing and emerging to anticipate the security void.

Independent Iraqi analysts in Amman say they cannot envision a national unity government when politicians are basing its formation on sectarian identity and a new constitution that divides power according to sectarian and ethnic quotas, whereby the president is a Kurd, the prime minister a Shiite and the parliament speaker is a Sunni Arab.

And without a genuine national unity government that takes the entire country's interests into consideration, one that is able to take control of Iraq and restore security for its entire people, the nightmare reality will only become worse.

Iraqis fear if their country still needs to hit rock bottom before it lifts itself up as a nation, the massive destruction will be greater than any mind can imagine.

As I have looked at the alternatives, I keep coming back to the suggestion of Senator Joe Biden to divide the country into autonomous sectarian governments. It looks to me that Biden is merely pointing out the many conflicting realities together with the perceived motivations of the parties involved. The logic is as follows:

1. We miscalculated the troops needed to establish order and security after Sadaam was toppled.

2. We assumed the population would be motivated more by democracy than by sectarian allegiances such that establishing a government would be relatively painless.

3. We made a mistake in dismantling the Iraqi army while also failing to adequately train a replacement one to fill the void.

4. We misunderstood the depth and degree of sectarian animosity and conflict.

5. We no longer have the will or the support of the American public to increase troop levels to gain full control of the country.

6. We can't just walk away and allow the country to slip further into civil war if we want to maintain or improve the fragile stability of the region.

7. If we simply walk away, countries like Iran will likely step in to assert further influence.

8. If we establish a government that can't secure the peace upon our departure, Iraq will spiral into civil war.

9. It appears that sectarian allegiances are stronger than the goal of a unified Iraq under one government.

10. Sectarian militias are growing and destabilizing the possibility of a national Iraqi security force.

11. Sectarian political and religious forces are such that even if a unified government can be formed, it may be too fragile to suceed.

If one accepts these realities (which shouldn't be difficult to conclude), Biden's plan may be the only viable solution. To believe otherwise may require decisions that America isn't prepared to make and that Iraq isn't capable of executing. Biden's view may be the most comprehensive and realistic assessment to date. Whether or not those in positions of authority are prepared to accept this and move forward is yet to be seen. Unfortunately, political calculations may lead those in power to do nothing more than prolong making the difficult decisions in order to avoid the clarity and responsibility that they would likely bring. It’s not a pretty picture.

_________________________________________________________________

ORIGINAL POSTING:

Despite varying opinions on the progress being made in Iraq, one can't help but look at the fact that we are some three years into the effort to establish a workable governing body in the troubled country. While some feel the recent political climate has improved, many feel that sectarian differences will never allow a nationwide government to take hold. An expert on Iraq, Nir Rosen, told an audience at the New America Foundation on Thursday that the notion was hopeless. Read the full article here. Some excerpts follow.

Nir Rosen, former Baghdad bureau chief for the Asia Times and now a freelance writer, spent time with Shiite firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and individuals involved with the Sunni insurgency in central Iraq. In his book, "In the Belly of the Green Bird: the Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq," Rosen describes what life is like in Iraq now that religious divisions and Iraqi on Iraqi violence grips the country.

Speaking at the New America Foundation Thursday, Rosen said a civil war in Iraq was now inevitable. The conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims "has grown much more intense," he said. "The worst is yet to come."

"All it's going to take is an assassination attempt or another mosque bombing," he said. "I no longer think that there is any hope for national reconciliation."

The conflict could grow to destabilize the entire region, Rosen said. "The civil war in Iraq is going to spread in the region and the idea of the Iraqi nation state will cease to be a relevant concept," he said.

Peter Bergen, a journalist and CNN's terrorism analyst, also speaking at the New America Foundation, said the U.S. government had miscalculated the importance of religious divisions in Iraq.

"Clerics are driving the story," Bergen said.

The most powerful among them is al-Sadr, who leads the Mahdi Army militia and who is backed by Iran, Rosen said. "In Iraq if you're young poor and Shiite you're probably a supporter of Muqtada al-Sadr," he said.

Al-Sadr has achieved a celebrity-like level of fame despite lacking the experience and credentials of other clerics, Rosen said. "He doesn't rely on his education or experience because he doesn't really have any, compared to the competition," he said.

Yet when al-Sadr spoke at a mosque, "it was like being at a Michael Jackson concert," Rosen said. "No other leader in Iraq has this kind of popularity," he said.

Rosen said he advocated a total withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

"I don't think there's anything the U.S. government can do," he said. "I think there's no hope."

Daniel DiRito | May 15, 2006 | 8:39 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 14, 2006

Terror Management: A Warning To Democrats genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Since the revelation that the NSA surveillance program includes the widespread collection and review of domestic telephone activity there has been a great deal of debate. Today’s release of the Washington Post – ABC News poll seems to demonstrate that a significant majority of Americans believe the actions are an acceptable method for detecting and deterring terrorist activity. The full article can be found here.

The new survey found that 63 percent of Americans said they found the NSA program to be an acceptable way to investigate terrorism, including 44 percent who strongly endorsed the effort. Another 35 percent said the program was unacceptable, which included 24 percent who strongly objected to it.

A slightly larger majority--66 percent--said they would not be bothered if NSA collected records of personal calls they had made, the poll found.

According to the poll, 65 percent of those interviewed said it was more important to investigate potential terrorist threats "even if it intrudes on privacy." Three in 10--31 percent--said it was more important for the federal government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats.

The poll results have led to abundant discussion in the mainstream media as well as the blogosphere. As expected, there was more skepticism in the blogosphere. Some felt the wording of the question was misleading and led to a more favorable response. Certainly there is evidence supporting that how a polling question is asked can impact the results and while this may have played a part in the results, I’m inclined to believe there is another influencing factor.

When I studied psychology in college, one particular topic caught my curiosity and became a fundamental concept in my understanding of the human condition. That concept is called the “terror management theory". In fact, one of my professors, Dr. Tom Pyszczynski, is among the three leading researchers publishing on the topic in the last ten years.

The following information is from Wikipedia and serves to define the theory:

Terror management theory (TMT) is a developing area of study within the academic study of psychology. It looks at what researchers claim to be the implicit emotional reactions of people when confronted with the psychological terror of knowing we will eventually die (it is widely believed that our awareness of mortality is a trait that is unique to humans). The theory was first developed in the late 1980s by Skidmore college psychology professor Sheldon Solomon and others. Solomon was inspired by the theories of Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death, 1973) and Freud, on how potent reminders of one's own ultimate death often provoke a belief in some form of mystical transcendence (heaven, reincarnation, spiritualism, etc.).

The Theory builds from the assumption that the capability of self-reflection and the consciousness of one’s own mortality can be regarded as a continuous source for existential anguish. Culture diminishes this psychological terror by providing meaning, organization and continuity to men's and women's lives. Compliance with cultural values enhances one's feeling of security and self-esteem, provided that the individual is capable of living in accordance with whatever particular cultural standards apply to him or her. The belief in the rightness of the cultural values and standards creates the conviction necessary to live a reasonable and meaningful life. Because of this men and women strive to have their cultural worldview confirmed by others, thereby receiving the community’s esteem.

Research has shown that people, when reminded of their own inevitable death, will cling more strongly to their cultural worldviews. The data appears to show that nations or persons who have experienced traumas (e.g. 9/11) are more attracted to strong leaders who express traditional, pro-establishment, authoritarian viewpoints. They will also be hyper-aware of the possibility of external threats, and may be more hostile to those who threaten them.

The theory gained media attention in the aftermath of 9/11, and after the re-election of President George Bush in the USA, Prime Minister Tony Blair in the UK, and John Howard in Australia.

Terror management researchers have shown that making research participants think about death will lead to such changes in behaviors and beliefs that seemingly protect worldview and self-esteem. Nevertheless, these researchers have not yet demonstrated that this happens for the reason they propose, namely to alleviate unconscious fears of death. Direct tests of this hypothesis are likely to soon emerge in the scholarly literature.

Going back to the polling data, the terror management theory may explain results that otherwise appear to be counterintuitive. Specifically, since 9/11 there has been a greater awareness of danger as evidenced by the Homeland Security Advisory System, the ongoing rhetoric about whether we are safer since invading Iraq, and the oft heard expression, “we’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here at home." Even the advisory words are ominous – guarded, elevated, high, and severe…all used in reference to the danger of a terrorist attack. Despite our natural tendency to avoid thinking about death, the current environment certainly provides numerous reminders.

When looking at the fact that nearly two thirds of Americans polled seemingly accept a program of widespread domestic surveillance, the theory offers a plausible explanation. Essentially, anything that helps assuage the fear of death can potentially be seen as an acceptable situation whether it be rational, real, or imagined. To offer an analogy, one might look at those who refuse to fly in an airplane…despite statistics demonstrating that flying is safer than driving, the fear of what is perceived to be a more certain death can overcome the logical data. I suspect this same thinking is, to a degree, at play in these otherwise confounding numbers.

In fact, after the 2004 election, a number of psychologists speculated that fear of death may have actually given President Bush the needed edge. You can read the full article here. Some excerpts follow.

Exit polls in November's election showed a variety of reasons why voters chose either George W. Bush or Democratic challenger John Kerry: moral values, the war in Iraq, terrorism and the economy, among others.

But exit polls don't tell the whole story, says Solomon. He and his colleagues believe that they have uncovered a subtle application of a psychological effect--terror management theory--that may have helped tip the election to Bush. According to the theory, Americans traumatized by the 9/11 terrorist attacks turned to Bush in part because, subconsciously, his clear and values-driven message helped assuage their fear of death.

In fact, years of research have demonstrated that people are often bad at understanding their own motivations. If pollsters ask voters to come up with an explanation for their vote, they will--but that explanation may not really reflect their primary motivation, says University of Virginia psychology professor Timothy Wilson, PhD, who studies people's knowledge of their motivations.

"There's fairly good evidence that people vote from the heart," Wilson says, "but if you ask them why they vote they'll come up with all sorts of logical reasons."

One consequence of the theory, according to previous studies by the researchers, is that reminding people of their own mortality--by asking them to think about their own deaths, for example--makes them cling strongly to elements of their worldview like religious beliefs or national pride.

"Psychologically terrorized people are attracted to clear vision of where evil lurks in the world and clear vision of how to obliterate it," Solomon says. And in our post-9/11 world, he continues, Americans are, in some ways, a psychologically terrorized people, with thoughts of death a hazy but ever-present reality.

"We're not saying that there were no rational reasons to vote for President Bush, or that everyone who voted for Bush did it because of this effect," he says. "But a huge chunk of people in the middle may have been swayed by this."

During the 2004 campaign, I recall numerous individuals asserting that the terror advisory warning was elevated each time the President came under scrutiny or needed to divert attention. While I generally doubt that this was practiced at random, it isn’t difficult to imagine the administration erring on the side of an upgrade in the advisory level if it also offered these other benefits. In retrospect, one can certainly argue that the President’s campaign used the fear of terror to their advantage. The practice hasn’t changed.

One can also argue that the haste with which America invaded Iraq was precipitated by this same theory. At the time, the country rallied around the President such that a large majority of Democrats were inclined to accept the rational for invasion with little hesitation. I understand that many feel the administration misled the country and I am not diminishing that accusation…but I am saying that the motivations underlying this theory likely made it easier to both sell and approve the plan.

I’m convinced that Karl Rove fully understands this dynamic. The Democrats must be mindful of the theory and adequately prepared to combat the efforts of the administration to exploit it in the upcoming midterm elections. Additionally, the current issue surrounding domestic surveillance may be the perfect opportunity to gauge the degree to which the theory is still influencing the decisions of the American public. To the extent that this can be determined, the Democrats may need to adjust their strategy or find themselves scratching their collective heads…once again left to wonder why “ordinary" logic hasn’t prevailed. The stakes are enormous.

Daniel DiRito | May 14, 2006 | 7:30 AM | link | Comments (11)
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May 12, 2006

Pakistan Gave Iran Advice On U.S. Attack genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Managing alliances is a complicated proposition. Since 9/11, many believe the U.S. has done a less than stellar job in that regard. Today in an article by the Associated Press, it appears that even countries we currently count as "friendly" don't always act in the American interest. You can read the full article here.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan's former army chief says Iranian officials came to him for advice on heading off an attack on their nuclear facilities, and he in effect advised them to take a hostage -- Israel.

Retired Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg said he suggested their government "make it clear that if anything happens to Iran, if anyone attacks it -- it doesn't matter who it is or how it is attacked -- that Iran's answer will be to hit Israel; the only target will be Israel."

The U.S. relationship with Pakistan is certainly complex. President Pervez Musharref retains power despite strong opposition from much of Pakistan's population as well as a number of those within the countries military. I see Musharraf as a skilled manipulator in that he has an ability to balance conflicting interests to his advantage. The U.S. has seemingly given Musharraf a lot of latitude for what appears to be cooperation in the war on terror. At the same time, this article demonstrates the unpredictable nature of the alliance. It also points out the many considerations needed before executing a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

He said he also advised them to "attempt to degrade the defense systems of Israel," harass it through the Hamas government of the Palestinian Authority and the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, and put second-strike nuclear weapons on submarines.

Although analysts are divided on how soon Iran might have nuclear weapons, Beg said he is sure Iran has had enough time to develop them. But he insists the Pakistani government didn't help, even though he says former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto once told him the Iranians offered more than $4 billion for the technology.

Although Beg insisted his government never gave Iran nuclear weapons, Pakistan now acknowledges that Khan sold Iran centrifuges to produce weapons-grade uranium, though without his government's knowledge.

Khan has been pardoned by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and Pakistan has refused to hand him over to the United States or the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency for questioning.

The obvious concern is whether the current U.S. administration has the desire or the ability to analyze the many necessary considerations before moving forward with any plan to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program. The festering dislike of American foreign policy in Islamic populations coupled with the Israeli / Palestinian conflict has the potential to foster dangerous new alliances...alliances that oppose the United States. In the end, the stated goal of bringing democracy to Iraq and the region may have numerous unforeseen twists and turns. Sadly, it seems that the initial decision to proceed may be found to be even far more flawed than it currently appears.

Daniel DiRito | May 12, 2006 | 1:00 PM | link | Comments (1)
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May 9, 2006

Rice: Iran Letter Not Helpful genre: Just Jihad

Offering the administrations first response to the letter sent by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "It isn't addressing the issues that we are dealing with in a concrete way." Many feel the letter was timed to coincide with the actions by the U.S. to broach the issue of potential sanctions against Iran with the United Nations Security Council. Read the full article here.

In the letter, Ahmadinejad called liberal western-style democracy a failure and compared the United States to other "repressive and cruel governments", suggesting that historically they do not survive. He also suggested that President Bush look inward to understand the increasing hatred of the U.S. around the world.

The letter from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made only an oblique reference to Iran's nuclear intentions, asking why "any technological and scientific achievement reached in the Middle East region is translated into and portrayed as a threat to the Zionist regime."

Otherwise, it lambasted Bush for his handling of the Sept. 11 attacks, accused the media of spreading lies about the Iraq war and railed against the United States for its support of Israel. It questioned whether the world would be a different place if the money spent on Iraq had been spent to fight poverty.

Rice, who said she expected no quick action on sanctions, met privately Monday night with foreign ministers from the other permanent members of the council.

Her spokesman gave no details of the substance of the discussions, but described the talks as strategic and not focused on specific steps.

Daniel DiRito | May 9, 2006 | 6:40 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 6, 2006

Iraqis Cheer Downing of British Chopper genre: Just Jihad

British sources confirmed that a helicopter crashed in a residential area of Basra. Early reports indicate that it appears to have been shot down by ground fire. A large crowd of Iraqis chanted and cheered in the area around the wreckage and after some rescue vehicles were set ablaze, British troops opened fire in some skirmishes with the crowd. Four crew members were thought to have been killed in the crash and some Iraqis were injured in the ensuing melee.

This can't be good news for the already troubled Blair government. It also points out the growing negative sentiment towards the occupying forces in Iraq. The reaction surprised some observers as Basra has been relatively peaceful. Basra's population is largely Shiite. Reuters reports the following.

British defense officials confirmed one of their helicopters was down and that there were casualties. The Basra police spokesman said it was hit by a rocket and firefighters said they found four charred bodies on the aircraft, which hit a house.

Dominated by the Shi'ite Muslim majority now in control in Baghdad, Basra has seen less violence than cities in the north. But friction between the occupying force and militia groups like the Mehdi Army of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr does flare up.

"Victory to the Mehdi Army!" chanted the crowd of young men that gathered at the crash site, close to the local governor's office in the center of the city.

Senior British officers have complained that rival Shi'ite militia factions have effectively taken control of different elements of Iraq's second city, close to the Gulf and the border with Shi'ite Iran, 550 km (340 miles) south of Baghdad.

Sunni Arab insurgents, including al Qaeda's Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, have said they are taking their battle to the Iraqi forces, targeting recruiting lines and senior officers.

Helicopters have been much more vulnerable to ground fire, including rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. Rebels boast of firing guided missiles. On April 1, a U.S. Apache attack helicopter was brought down near Baghdad, killing its two crew.

Daniel DiRito | May 6, 2006 | 7:50 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 1, 2006

Exporting Democracy: An Oxymoron? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

We hear a lot from the Bush administration about Democracy. President Bush has often said that “Democracy is on the march". When talking about the spread of democracy, he often goes on to say that freedom is sought by all humans and that all people deserve the benefits of freedom. In general terms, I agree with the President about the latter. However, with regards to the former, I am increasingly skeptical.

Since the initiation of the war in Iraq, the objective of the invasion has largely shifted from the belief that Sadaam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction to the loftier goal of exporting democracy to the country’s oppressed population. Again, I agree with that the newly offered objective is a worthy goal when viewed as a general principle.

How one achieves this goal of exporting democracy is the issue. Democracy’s origin has its roots in passion. It is a groundswell, not a trickle down proposition. The core principle of democracy starts with a focus on a belief in the value of all humanity. Within its structure, it sets aside any preferences for particular religious beliefs; leaving such choices to be determined as a matter of personal choice. Essentially, the right of the individual takes precedent over any one belief system so long as each individual has an equal opportunity to have the beliefs they choose…without violating the rights of others.

America’s founding experience with democracy is an example of this process. Given these basic parameters, it doesn’t bode well for Iraq. Religious ideology is driving the mechanics of their trek towards democracy and rather than set these varied beliefs aside, many want to lead with ideology as the guiding template for their government. In the end, democracy grows out of tolerance and compromise. It is neither rigid nor theocratic. Iraq appears to be both.

Looking beyond Iraq, there is growing evidence of an increasing degree of fanatical and intransigent theocratic ideology. That is not to say that some governments haven’t attempted to adopt some democratic principles…Egypt comes to mind. However, despite some of the visible efforts, the underlying belief systems remain fully engrained and entrenched in the society. In other words the groundswell needed for democracy to thrive hasn’t fully emerged and the trickle down approach is less than effective.

Other examples of this trending towards extremism in the midst of what is presumed to be the emergence of democracy include the recent victory by Hamas in the Palestinian elections and the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the Iranian President together with the expanding influence of the countries religious institutions. In addition to these situations, we see the emergence of hostility to the United States in South America as evidenced by the antagonizing activities of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and the victory of Evo Morales in Bolivia, who opposes much of the American policy agenda.

From the New York Times, according to Jim Schultz of the policy analysis Democracy Center in Bolivia, “The left is contesting in a very practical way for political power. There’s a common thread that runs through Lula (Brazil) and Kirchner (Argentina) and Chavez (Venezuela) and Evo (Bolivia), and the left in Chile to a certain degree, and that thread is a popular challenge to the market fundamentalism of the Washington consensus."

While these South American countries are democratic in nature, they are rapidly distinguishing their vision of democracy from that of the United States. This is in addition to the growing Muslim influence and populations, both of which are not positive trending indicators for expanding American democracy. The risk is that the United States becomes increasingly isolated such that American democracy becomes the object of opposition despite its inherent value. Given the instability of many of these countries, the United States could find itself unable to insure the continuation of these democratic governments should they be in jeopardy.

Much of this shifting reality is in stark contrast to the picture being drawn by the Bush administration. In the revisionist effort to justify the invasion of Iraq on the basis of exporting democracy to insure freedom, we may be actually undermining the appeal of democracy. In many ways it is understandable given the visible contradictions. Though this may ultimately be an inaccurate evaluation, at some point perception becomes reality despite ones best efforts and intentions. The vast capital and good will available to the United States after 9/11 has seemingly evaporated. Instead of being perceived as a victim, we are unwittingly being transformed into the villain.

Daniel DiRito | May 1, 2006 | 5:16 AM | link | Comments (1)
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