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Al-Qaeda on the run in Iraq?

Original post made by Draw the Line on May 24, 2007

I didn't notice this on the front page of the papers, so I am posting it for an FYI. Encouraging.

Web Link

Comments (64)

Posted by Neal, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 24, 2007 at 7:31 am

Since Iraq has become safer we should see the return of the remaining 2 missing soldiers. I mean why would they remain hostages if their captors are on the run and no longer interested in attacking the US military occupation. I can now relax over this Memorial Day weekend and enjoy the sunshine while Bush makes Iraq secure and safe for our young troops in harms way. Now that Al-Queda is on the run maybe gas prices will decline too!

Posted by sarlat, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 24, 2007 at 7:39 am

How do we know that Al Qaeda is on the run? Because an annonymous source in the pentagon has told Time's Joe Klein so. As we already know, anything that the pentagon and the white house is tellling us is true. Yes, Klein's article is clearly just a trumpeting of administration talking points with no effort to compare the remarks to reality. Nowhere in his article does Klein show that he did a single thing to question the validity of the remarks. Did he try to contact anyone from the Iraqi government? Now why would a source bearing good news want to be anonymous?

Posted by James, a resident of Ventura
on May 24, 2007 at 7:46 am

First, it is obvious to anyone who knows anything about guerilla warfare that the insurgents are pulling the old Maoist People's War ploy of refusing to meet the enemy's strength. The Sadr Army is explicitly adopting this tactic right now. One of the things the Administration wanted was a showdown with the Shiite Militias, and they are not rising to the Surge bait. An real expert would expect that if the US went on the offensive, the insurgents would hunker down and ride it out. That Klein and his "source" don't understand this is a testament to their stupidity and wishful thinking. What it also shows is that the Administration and the punditocracy still can only imagine killing their way out of what is a political/social/religious/economic problem. They want to be third-rate Machiavellians who inspire either love or fear, when they should be Clausewitzians looking for a political solution to what, in the end, is a political problem. If ever a war was started and sustained for purely political, rather than military, reasons, this war is it. Therefore, the only solution will be a political one. But such a real solution would not allow for the macho posturing that seems to be the sine qua non of American political discourse. If, in his heart of hearts, Mr. Klein and his buddies can't reflect back on this and gloat over having "having shown those Arab bastards who's boss" then they will not be satisfied with the outcome, no matter how rosy one paints the scenario. No, these guys must not only dominate, they must be publicly acknowledged in their dominant role by all the darker, inferior people's of this earth. We wiped out Fallujah and the enemy did not blink. We are surging like mad and they are simply waiting out the storm. Since Klein and his pals take for granted that the enemy are stupid Muslem barbarians, they will wander from false dawn to false dawn, and drag us along with them.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on May 24, 2007 at 7:50 am

I know some people are disappointed that I am posting some optimism. I believe in the Iraqis.

Posted by Rick, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 24, 2007 at 7:53 am

As we all know, generals are well known for admitting that they have failed in their mission, that's how they keep their jobs. There's going to be hell to pay in September if there isn't Progress in Iraq by then.Joe Klein is a well renouned military expert, and he would know immediately if an anonymous leak from a perntagin that Al Qaeda is on the run is true, of course he would. After all, we all know how true the other information coming out of the pentagon in recent years has been.

In other news, there's Progress in Iraq! A general told me!

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on May 24, 2007 at 7:54 am

Web Link

This is a re-post of the link, for those who missed it, to an article I posted a few days ago which dovetails nicely with the link above. From a non-anonymous, Turkish reporter. 2 optimistic articles in one week!

Posted by Albert, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 24, 2007 at 8:54 am

Now we should all be relieved. Joe Klein and a Turkish reporter, both world renowned for being military and anti-terror thinkers and analysts are telling us that Al Qaeda may be on the run. A Turkish reporter and anonymous military official. Would you ever? We won!

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on May 24, 2007 at 9:07 am

I believe in the power of grassroots. I am seeing some sprouts.

Posted by eric, a resident of Mountain View
on May 24, 2007 at 9:25 am

um, why is Al Quaida a player in Iraq now? Oh, yeah...

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on May 24, 2007 at 9:42 am

Ok, since grassroots little guys are not reliable, and you want big military and govt guys to report in order to be believed.. ( which you won't believe either)

Good news in Anbar province. With a picture.

Web Link

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on May 24, 2007 at 9:56 am

Eric, again, there are many different groups blowing us and each other up in Iraq. Al-Qaeda hates the idea of democracy, so they are there to do everything they can to thwart the process. Best way to do that? Scare us away and foster a civil war before the Iraqis can band together against them.

Nice link to a big picture editorial written by Former Democrat Senator Bob Kerry, with commentary by a "blogger". Addresses this question.

Web Link

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on May 24, 2007 at 10:08 am

Guerillas are not magic. They have the advantage of not worrying about civilian casualties and operational utilities, but the disadvantage that their power over the population wanes as the likelyhood of their success wanes. That is why Jihad is praying for democrat victories.

Posted by SkepticAl, a resident of Ventura
on May 24, 2007 at 11:01 am

Draw -

The initial article you linked from Time magazine was hardly as optimistic as your post suggests, if you read the whole thing. As for Bob Kerry, I can agree with much of what he says in the abstract. I think what frustrates so many of us in this country is that we have NO faith in the current administration's ability to DO what they say must be done, no belief in their words, no respect for their supposed convictions, no expectation that they will ever concede a mistake or adjust a policy in any *significant* way. So, yes, in the abstract, I see why we should stay in Iraq, but I don't believe that we will *actually* accomplish anything by staying... just more deaths and injuries and more billions upon billions of dollars to delay the same outcome. Defeatist attitude? Guilty. I'm open-minded about it, but sorely lacking evidence to suggest I'm wrong.

But speaking of changing my mind... now, if staying in Iraq is THAT important, then why not make some changes?

- Talk seriously about a draft and stop paying mercenaries to provide an unaccountable shadow army.
- Roll-back or delay some tax cuts so that we don't dig ourselves into trillion-dollar debt for the war.
- Concede the fact that our credibility in the world has taken a severe blow, and humbly seek the cooperation and input of other countries that have an interest in a stable Iraq.

The failure of Bush to even approach any of these topics strongly suggests that for him, staying in Iraq is mainly about saving face and enriching war-profiteering contractors and industries. I'm not saying I actually want a draft, but I'd like to see the debate if this really is, as one GOP candidate claimed, crucial to the continued existence of western civilization.

Posted by Dave, a resident of College Terrace
on May 24, 2007 at 12:58 pm

Is there a single principle of good journalism which Klein, in his short piece, failed to violate? The first sentence declares that "there is good news from Iraq, believe it or not," and that is all based on the claim that "the level of violence [in Anbar] has plummeted in recent weeks." And how does Klein know that?

A senior U.S. military official told him -- confirming reports from several other sources -- that there have been "a couple of days recently during which there were zero effective attacks and less than 10 attacks overall in the province (keep in mind that an attack can be as little as one round fired).

As always, the very idea of granting anonymity to government sources to do nothing other than repeat pro-government claims is both manipulative and moronic on its face. What possible journalistic value could there ever be in cloaking someone with anonymity in order to say something that Tony Snow would happily say, and does say, every day from the White House Press Briefing Room?

Posted by Gerald, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 24, 2007 at 1:01 pm

One of the principal though-still-unlearned lessons of the Judy Miller Saga: when a journalist does nothing but mindlessly repeat the claims of government sources which are completely consistent with- or designed to bolster- the claims being made by the administration itself out in the open, the journalist is doing nothing more than turning himself into a willing propaganda tool. Again, what conceivable journalistic justification is there for granting anonymity to government sources to recite the Government Line? It has no value other than to lend the government position enhanced though unmerited credibility ("It isn't just Bush saying things are getting better in Iraq; Time has a leaking, brave anonymous source who also says that, so it must be true").

Posted by Gerald, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 24, 2007 at 1:05 pm

And then there is Klein's assurance that what his special military friend told him is consistent with what was said by "several other sources." There is, of course, no need to provide any information about these "several other" corroborating sources- government? military? those invested in the pro-war position? AEI "war scholars"? because Klein knows who they are and thinks they're credible and you can and should just trust his judgment.

Hence we have a major headline in Time declaring how great things are in Iraq - "Al Qaeda on the run" - all based on what an unnamed military official secretly told Klein, as well as the same statements from a few unnamed individuals about whom we know exactly nothing. These are followed by the standard "still-serious-problems-in-Iraq" caveat which, I have no doubt, in Klein's mind demonstrates balance. And all of this is to say nothing about the endlessly exploited and indescribably irrational practice of interpreting some short-term and isolated lull in violence as Real Progress. How many more years do we have to endure that tactic to justify our ongoing occupation?

That Klein and Time continue to churn out shoddy, gullible "journalism" is hardly news. But what is notable here is that this is a mere glimpse of the Beltway script that will be clung to over the next few months - until the arrival of Glorious September.

The single greatest and most transparent delusion in our public discourse right now - and that is a distinction for which there is always an intense competition- is that Something Weighty and Significant is Going to Happen In September with regard to the Iraq War.

Posted by Albert, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 24, 2007 at 1:10 pm

Yes, generals are notorious for admitting that the mission they were entrusted with has failed. It's the surest way to advance their career...
And, needless to say, General Petraeus will, cautiously though emphatically, declare in September that progress is being made, though there is much work that remains to be done. And therefore we must redouble our resolve and stay until The Job is Done.

Posted by Dave, a resident of College Terrace
on May 24, 2007 at 1:13 pm

The central unyielding truth in our political landscape is that, no matter what, the War in Iraq is not going to end before the end of the Bush presidency. That has been obvious for a very long time, and that is why it is so bizarre to watch the Beltway establishment continue to pretend that there is some Big Decision Day coming in September, the day when Republicans take a stand and our political elite put their foot down.

Nothing has changed. Republicans and media-war-proponents are far too invested in the war to do anything other than claim it is finally going well. And there are more than enough Democrats who either (a) believe we should stay in Iraq indefinitely, (b) perceive political benefits from staying, and/or (c) fear forcing withdrawal.

And most of all, the Bush administration has all of the Joe Kleins and Time Magazines they need to keep conventional Beltway wisdom on their side and spew just enough War Progress Stories to sustain the support they need. They have an open column in Time, among many other places , to continue to shape our the public debate over withdrawal.

Posted by Jay, a resident of Community Center
on May 24, 2007 at 1:20 pm

Ignore those daily explosions and the ever-increasing American body count. Joe Klein has another scoop from another anonymous source: "We're turning the corner! Peace is at hand! Just six more months!" Klein apparently refuses to remember hearing all this before.
It's gotten way past the point where stupidity or laziness can explain our MainStreamMedia credulity. They've got to be on the payroll.

Orwell could never imagine a dystopia as corrupt as our flag-waving, god-proclaiming pornocracy.

Posted by A Boomer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 24, 2007 at 1:33 pm

I find extremely objectionable the argument that Al Quaeda threatens our way of life, and specious that our or any traditional military force is out to thwart them. Is that what this has come down to for the Shrubbies?

These people are thugs, not idealogues, and the US and Britain made a huge mistake in granting them a position that suggests that they have a philosophy that they can impose on people, let alone will be embraced anywhere in the world. The philosophical grounding and practialities of governing that are found in all but a small part of the world at this point date back hundreds, if not thousands of years. However imperfect these systems are, and it is easy to cite a number of them, Al Quaeda thinking in its purest form holds not a candle to the thinking that dates back to the times of Plato, and the Al Quaeda folks could not subjugate any people to their flimsy thinking for very long, if at all. For Shrub et al to call this a war of ideology is patently absurd.

This MBA President clearly was asleep during the classes that discussed how to properly apply resources to the management challenge. Billions of dollars and thousands of civilian and military lives have been expended thus far to deal with how many people with what kind of bank account? To what outcome? Shrub may have opened a "Hydra" account with his approach, with our Herculean swords creating ten new Al Quaeda heads with every one we purportedly lop off. 10X works for the VC's funding start up technologies, not the type of return we want from this investment.

These are angry people who are that way because the normal things we take for granted like running water, jobs, reliable electricity, feeling safe to walk the streets and interact with neighbors are not there for them. Al Quaeda leadership exploits this mindset, and the anger now is directed at us as occupiers, and the hatred that has been created will remain even after the US eventually is gone. The anger was there before, but it was not directed toward the US, and it was at a much lower volume than what we face now. For whatever hopeful indicators Draw may detect, I fear they are mere patches of grass on a still arid desert that is expanding its sandy masses more quickly than the few oases that appear here and there.

And by the way, how many Tim McVeigh-types (the Iraq One war veteran who bombed Oklahoma City) have we created in our so-called war on terror and our way of life?

Posted by Albert, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 24, 2007 at 1:38 pm

According to, during the first 23 days of May, about 83 coalition soldiers died in Iraq from hostile causes. On only four of those days did no soldier die from hostile causes. On 17 of the 23 days- 74%, a soldier died in either Anbar province, Baghdad or both. I'm happy to hear from Mr. Klein that things are "maybe" getting better.

Posted by tim2, a resident of University South
on May 24, 2007 at 1:43 pm

I am so glad someone is finally reporting the good news from Iraq- that we've turned the corner and can see the light at the end of the tunnel on winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqis people. As they stand up, we'll stand down. Failure is not an option. If you're not with us, you're against us. For every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows. Turn your frowns upside down, dream the impossible dream, wish upon a star, whistle a happy tune, do the hokey pokey, and don't worry- be happy!

Posted by sarlat, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 24, 2007 at 1:47 pm

For examples of other propaganda patterns predicted in Manufacturing Consent, such as media reliance on information supplied by official sources, we have Judith Miller's credulous reports in the New York Times about aluminum tubes and other alleged proof of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. We have numerous studies conducted by FAIR of guests on evening newscasts, in which they found that 75 percent of the sources quoted were either current or former government or military officials, only one of whom expressed opposition to the war. Official sources are also the main ones cited in more recent "news analysis" in the New York Times, such as Michael Gordon's piece titled "Get Out of Iraq Now? Not So Fast, Experts Say," or David Sanger's "The Only Consensus on Iraq: Nobody's Leaving Right Now."

In short, the war in Iraq offers plenty of evidence showing that the information presented in U.S. media distorts reality and that those distortions have been the basis for the degree of public support of the war which still exists — even though public support has fallen.

Posted by Jeremy, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 24, 2007 at 1:50 pm


I generally ignore much of the leftist patter, but I actually agree with some of your analysis, although I probably don't agree with your motives.

Only the quick and successful wars maintain general public support. FDR was getting very nervous about WWII towards the end. People were not buying bonds,and there were way too many gold star mothers. He and his handlers were well aware that they would probably be passing the war on to the next president.

The Iraq war is not WWII, I agree. It is much less costly, and it's consequences are probably higher than WWII. Bush is incapable of the fireside chats (direct propaganda), so he will need to take the heat if this one goes south. The rest of the West will head south, too. Whoever the next president is, he or she will need to make the case to stick it out in Iraq, similar to Korea.

Posted by Jeff Derman, a resident of Portola Valley
on May 24, 2007 at 1:52 pm

America had forgot not only the recent past of the region, but the lessons of Vietnam.

The noise machine played a significant role in destroying those memories. The noise machine is an assault on truth, reason, and reality.

Some Americans, like Bush, didn't forget the lessons of Vietnam – they simply learned the wrong ones. Our "commander guy" and many neo-cons insist that we were winning in Vietnam and victory was, of course, "just right around the corner."

And they still contend that "leaving" Vietnam was a huge mistake that emboldened our enemies. A mistake we are still paying for.

The noise machine is about promoting this myth and they've been quite successful in inculcating a new crop of young Republicans with it. Some actually believe this myth, while others promote it simply because it reinforces their political views and promotes mindless militarism at the expense of reason and reality.

It's also very useful in condemning those who are against continuing the occupation by automatically associating them with "failure" and "losing" and allows a highly decorated General like Joe Klein to put forth his awe-inspiring strategy for the war: "win."

Military geniuses like that are made, not born. And General Klein has been suckling at the teat of the noise machine's assault on truth, reason and reality for so long that it has now become simply reflex to grab at the smallest report of good news and use it jerk-off to the latest "victory is right around the corner" pornography.

And yes, it's quite obscene. And I know it when I see it.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on May 24, 2007 at 2:42 pm

Some of us kept learning after we pulled out of Vietnam. We paid attention to the lessons learned from having one group of propoganda voices (primarily Cronkite), and one propoganda media ( Hollywood such as Fonda) that people blindly believed, which caused us to leave Vietnam, then defund the South Vietnamese. We learned about the consequences of years of communist rule ( not known for civil rights of the people), and the spread into Cambodia ( and other countries) of the Communists, with the resultant massacres of millions.

We have heard for 40 years about America not having "the stomach" to fight to win, and seen this reinforced in the eyes of the world by half-hearted attempts that we then quit. We have watched the enemies of democracy become more and more cocky in their belief that we won't fight back.

Most of us have learned the real lessons. And, with the internet and alternative voices, we know much more than we were spoon-fed 40 years ago.

And it shows in the volunteers to the military.

Posted by Todd, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 24, 2007 at 2:46 pm

Time magazine has been a worthless propaganda rag from the day it was first published. A more dreary object example of a right-wing establishment mouthpiece would be hard to find.

Anyone who takes anything Time says with any seriousness is an ignorant yahoo, and I knew this before I was 20, too many years ago. It's always been this way.

Posted by tim2, a resident of University South
on May 24, 2007 at 2:49 pm

I've always thought that 90% of Petraeus power to awe-inspire comes from his name. Sounds like a nice Roman general. That's always helpful when you're pushing your empire.

On the fantasy of 'routing al-Qaeada,' wouldn't that be a good thing to imagine? Since that has become our stated reason for being there (du jour), we could then claim victory and go home. Of course, some will say that they just scuttled across the border into Iran and Syria, so .... Mission Continues.

Posted by sarlat, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 24, 2007 at 2:52 pm

So there is "good news from Iraq," "al-Qaida is on the run" and "An alliance of U.S. troops and local tribes has been very effective in moving against the al-Qaeda foreign fighters."

If that's what "a senior U.S. military official" is telling Klein, there is only one possible and glaringly obvious explanation for the need to remain anonymous, especially if all you are doing is repeating the government line.

Some would argue that such anonymous repetition has no value other than to lend the government position enhanced though unmerited credibility, which may be true from a propaganda standpoint. But when you get past appearances it really does just the opposite. Simply put: It says a whole lot about the credibility of that government line if you have to be anonymous to spout it.

Posted by Dave, a resident of College Terrace
on May 24, 2007 at 3:18 pm

Bush was out there again on Wednesday trying to link Iraq to al-Qaeda and maintaining that the US was mainly fighting it in that country. In fact, No Mahdi Army Shiites are al-Qaeda. Almost all Sunni Arab guerrilla cells are Baathist or Salafi rather than al-Qaeda. Probably of 100,000 guerrillas fighting in Iraq, perhaps 2% could be categorized in some vague way as "al-Qaeda" if you take that term as referring to a franchise. They are mainly foreign fighters and if the US left Iraq, the local Sunni Arabs would slit their throats. Some slitting is going on even now, and the Bushies celebrate that while not seeming to recognize the implication that "al-Qaeda" doesn't amount to anything as an Iraqi political force.

Whatever Klein's unnamed sources claim, then, is based on a faulty premise. Of course, Klein's deplorable "journalism" is nauseating, but that Klein doesn't even question al-Qaeda" as the enemy against whom progress should be measured makes his piece, his work here, even more abhorrent.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on May 24, 2007 at 4:37 pm

Web Link

Just the latest from "Al-Qaeda that isn't in Iraq".

The bombers/shooters/abductors are comprised of several pieces. It is silly to deny Al-Qaeda isn't one of the pieces, trying to stir the pot.

Unless you want to deny press releases and memos from Al-Qaeda, and deaths of known Al-Qaeda commanders who, I guess, are just vacationing in Iraq when they are killed.

Posted by Karen, a resident of Downtown North
on May 24, 2007 at 6:54 pm

What is questionable about the sources that anyone with "good news" would have to be anonymous.

Understandably, anyone delivering bad news about the progress of the surge would have to protect their identity, or risk being removed. That is, after all, the Bush m.o.

Posted by Dave, a resident of College Terrace
on May 24, 2007 at 6:59 pm

I wonder...

... if Joe Klein would be willing to go to Iraq and see for himself how much progress is being made.

Posted by Albert, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 24, 2007 at 7:02 pm

The rest of Joe Klein's article is an attack by (unnamed) US intelligence officials on the democratically elected Iraqi government that Bush supports - in public.

This adds more substance to the rumors that a coup is in the offing to replace Maliki.

Klein's story also contains an incomprehensible sentence, "It's not impossible that the Iraqis will eventually remove the al-Qaeda cancer from the Sunni insurgency—which would put a serious crimp in President George W. Bush's current rationale for the war, that we're there to fight al-Qaeda."

I have no clue what this means.

Posted by SkepticAl, a resident of Ventura
on May 24, 2007 at 8:46 pm

In today's Rose Garden press conference, a reporter asked Bush if he faces a credibility problem, having so poorly managed the execution and rhetoric of the war, and then trying yesterday's stunt, declassifying a bit of old information just to generate new, favorable headlines. Bush's response was essentially, I don't have a credibility problem because I read the intelligence reports, it's my job to tell the American people what the situation is, and then the capper, he told the reporter personally, "Al Qaeda is a threat to your children."

It's not that he's wrong, technically, but our president is a one-trick pony. You can hear the wheels turning in his head as he figures out how the answer to every question is to exaggerate the threat and instill fear.

Posted by Jeremy, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 25, 2007 at 6:43 am

Al Qaeda is probably a greater threat to the U.S. than were the Nazis and Imperial Japan combined. It certainly threatens our children. If Bush is a one trick pony, at least he has focused on the threat at hand, and has not diminished it for political purposes. If Iraq becomes a functioning democracy, it will be a stakes through the heart of Al Qaeda. If Iraq fails as a democracy, Al Qaeda will be strengthened substantially.

Posted by James, a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 25, 2007 at 7:31 am

The Sunnis, Shi'a, the Bush family, the Cheneys, the neocons and Blackwater USA should fight it out against each other and leave the rest of us alone to build peace and a better tomorrow.

Posted by Dave, a resident of College Terrace
on May 25, 2007 at 8:55 am

The whole Patreous deal is a crude sham. He undertook a political mission- saving the Bush regime from collapse. No US general has ever admitted failure. If he admits failure in September, a totally phony target date by the way, he'll be forced out and his military career would be over. He'll almost certainly say that the violence in Iraq has decreased some and he needs more time and resources to continue his mission. It's so easy to manipulate data and statistics, particularly under extremely chaotic and violent circumstances that case of Iraq it's practically impossible to prove or verify anything. Violence can be labeled as warning shots by one tribal faction against another, and if those decrease, Patreous can claim that the overall armed violence has decreased and who could prove he's not telling the truth? Joe Klein certainly isn't going to go to Iraq to check it out, that's for sure. Our invasion, occupation and continued presence in Iraq have been all based on crude lies, forgery and systemic deception and nothing seems to change that.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on May 25, 2007 at 11:49 am

Jeremy - pithily said. I think most Americans understand this and agree, in spite of the constant and unending assault on reason from the left.

Posted by Albert, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 25, 2007 at 12:58 pm

1.Poll after poll, regardless of whether they are conducted by left, centrist, conservative or independent organizations, indicate that the large majority of Americans want to end the Iraq war either immediately or in the near future, regardless of whether the Bush regime's stated goals are achieved. The same polls also indicate that the public at large has no faith in the Bush administration and believes it is not telling the truth about Iraq.
2. The main reason the Democrats won the mid-term elections was because the public believed they would speed up the end of the Iraq catasroph.
3. Al Qaeda is in Iraq because of the US presence there, there was no Al Qaeda there before the invasion. They will not leave while the US is still there. Al Qaeda fighters crossed into Iraq from Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia, able to do it because of the horrible planning by the neocons, Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney who didn't spend even a second thinking that securing the borders after the fall of Saddam was a top priority.
4. Al qaeda is a nast concept, but it's ludicrous to say that they are t a great danger to the only super power. A much greater danger to our nation is the Bush family, with its profound corruption and shady ties to the Saudi royal family and the Bin-Laden family.

Posted by Jeremy, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 25, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Albert, there are many legitmate criticisms of Bush that can be made, concerning Iraq. You have made some. However, your final point is absurd.

"4. Al qaeda is a nast concept, but it's ludicrous to say that they are t a great danger to the only super power. A much greater danger to our nation is the Bush family, with its profound corruption and shady ties to the Saudi royal family and the Bin-Laden family."

I'm not sure I can plumb the depths of your motivations and thinking, Albert, so I would only ask for a rational explanation.

If only 0.1% of Muslims are attracted to Al Qaeda thinking, that is still about 1 million worldwide. I suspect the Muslim 'buy in' is much higher, but I am being conservative. One million potential suicide martyrs is a MUCH greater threat to the Western world than is the Bush family, Bush politics, etc. Bush is willing to take the fight to them. You are not, or so it seems.

A democratic Iraq, right in the middle of the Middle East, would be a devasting blow to Al Qaeda. That is the Bush strategy. What would be your strategy vs. Al Qaeda, Albert?

Posted by Albert, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 25, 2007 at 3:10 pm

Anybody who knows even a little bit about the arab world and Iraq in particular, will tell you that the notion of a "democratic Iraq" is pure fantasy, a pipe dream that has less chance of becoming a reality than a snow ball of staying intact in a hot oven. On the other hand, the Bush family's close ties to arab oil are among the reasons our country is not trying to become energy dependent and keeps intefering in arab countries affair, something that keeps enraging generations of young arabs and attracts them to organizations like Al Qaeda.
As far as Bush "taking it to Al Qaeda", again, pure fantasy, his actions have brought Al Qaeda into Iraq and keepthem in Iraq. Speaking of fighting:during Vietnam, although I was totally against that war, I served a few tours of duties there as a navy seal. Bush, who supported that war, hid in the guard and managed to desert even from the cushy service his dad had arranged for him in order to avoid going to Vietnam.

Posted by Dave, a resident of College Terrace
on May 25, 2007 at 3:19 pm

US presence in Iraq has been a recruitment poster for young muslims to join Al Qaeda. Complaining about AQ presence in Iraq is like deliberately shooting yourself in the leg and then whining about a leg injury. The Sunni shieks in Iraq have promised they would slit the throats of the foreign Al Qaeda fighters, but only after the American occupiers leave. In the Arab culture and tradition, having non-Muslims occupy Muslim land is considered the greatest shame a Muslim can suffer and totally unacceptable and as long as the US stays in Iraq, the Iraqis will not get rid of the foreign fighters and more and more young Muslims will join Al Qaeda and their target will be us.

Posted by Jeremy, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 25, 2007 at 3:50 pm

"Anybody who knows even a little bit about the arab world and Iraq in particular, will tell you that the notion of a "democratic Iraq" is pure fantasy, a pipe dream that has less chance of becoming a reality than a snow ball of staying intact in a hot oven. "

Albert, that is the kind of racist rhetoric that condemns so many millions to oppressive conditions. The same thing was said of Japan and S.Korea. Millions of Iraquis turned out to vote, under real threats of death - much greater turnouts than American elections. The grassroots in Iraq WANT democracy. They have proved it. They deserve it, despite naysayers like you.

You say "I served a few tours of duties there as a navy seal." I don't believe you, Albert. A Navy SEAL would sound more believable to me. I am calling your bluff.

Posted by Albert, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 25, 2007 at 4:29 pm

Frankly, I could care less whether you believe me or not. I know 1 thing for certain:you believe any fairy tale laid on you by the Bush regime, and you buy every implausible myth they sell you-like a democratic Iraq. Actually, it seems like the more they lie and deceive you, the more you believe them, and my guess would be that you also believe that Bush has served out his term in Guard.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on May 25, 2007 at 4:41 pm

Jeremy: You are spot on. 8 million Iraqis, facing death threats, turned out to vote...3 times! And we complain if we have to wait in the rain a little bit or for more than 30 minutes.

Nobody can tell me that the majority of Iraqis are less committed to democracy than we are...frankly, I suspect they are more committed. I have found that people who have just left repression are much more dedicated to democracy than we complacent folks here in our stable, comfy world.

I am like you. I have always felt it to be highly racist to presume a people as educated as the Iraqis can't do "democracy" simply because they are Muslim and Middle East. You sound like someone who might enjoy a (now old) DVD called "Voices of Iraq", filmed by many different Iraqis all over Iraq over about a year. I think it was over 2005. A bunch of videorecorders were passed out around Iraq to people, who were asked to record whatever it was they wanted to record, and that it would be put into a movie for Americans to watch.

It is great.

Posted by Jeremy, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 25, 2007 at 4:41 pm

Albert, you were not a Navy SEAL. Fess up.

If I am wrong, please tell us what where you served your "several tours" in Vietnam. My cousin was a SEAL in Vietnam - I will check out your story.

Posted by Dave, a resident of College Terrace
on May 25, 2007 at 4:52 pm

The most outragous chutzpah in this criminal regime's demand that we allow them to continue to sacrify our troops and financial future for their misguided adventures is in this:they have caused al qaeda to cross into Iraq from the neighboring Sunni states by invading and occupying the country and the US military presence there is a magnet for those foreign fighters to keep infiltrating into Iraq, al qaeda will stay in Iraq for as long as we are there, yet they claim that we can't leave because al qaeda is there. This regime is not only criminal and stupid, it's full of insane people.

Posted by Albert, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 25, 2007 at 4:58 pm

J, unlike me, your cousin was never a SEAL in Vietnam, or anywhere else for that matter. Any discourse between us is way beneath my dignity and is therefore permanently terminated as of now.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on May 25, 2007 at 5:00 pm

A Navy SEAL trained anytime in the last 20 years would and does completely understand what we are doing in Iraq.

I think it is projection to believe that people who think as I do or as Jeremy does just "buy into" propoganda.

If we just bought into whatever was told us without investigation, we would believe that the sanctions are what made the Iraqis suffer, we would hate Bush, believe he didn't serve his time in the Guard, believe that he is getting rich off of all the oil we are stealing, that he caused 9/11, that he said that Iraq had something to do with 9/11, that Al-Qaeda wouldn't hate us and be recruiting if only we weren't in Iraq (because 9/11 was planned in 1998 and happened because they knew we were going to topple Saddam), that Bush is a bigger threat than anybody else in the world, that Saddam was better than what Iraq has now, that the million people in the Military voluntarily are really stupid and don't know what they are risking their lives for, that the people of Iraq are incapable of being a democracy, that all the suicide/homicide bombings around the world over the last 10 years by Muslim extremists are just a coincidence and separate incidents, that suicide/homicide bombs are justified at least sometimes, that the goal of going into Iraq was to topple Saddam and then get out, that there never were any WMD there and nobody buty Bush believed there were, that Saddam only wanted nuclear weapons for self-defense, that Iran only wants nuclear weapons for self-defense, that...

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on May 25, 2007 at 5:05 pm


I am sorry you served in Viet Nam against your will. Fortunately, anybody who was in the military when we went into Iraq has now had the chance to get out. And it is still a million strong. This is not Vietnam.

Posted by Jeremy, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 25, 2007 at 5:16 pm

Albert, my cousin WAS a SEAL in Vietnam. BTW, "SEAL" is not spelled "seal". Just give us readers of this thread your real experiences as a "seal" (several tours) in Vietnam. I am all ears. And I will check it out.

In the meantime, I will discount your credibility.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2007 at 9:59 pm

I was never a Navy SEAL but I still don't think democracy has much of a chance in Iraq, even if many of the population may prefer it. I think they would much prefer some basic security, reliable electricity and power right now. As Colbert said, Bush didn't want America to do "nation building" and he was true to his word here. Basic governmental functions are in shambles and the police force and army are infiltrated by partisans.

Biden's plan makes the most sense now. Split the country up and get at least some semblance of stability. Then consider more difficult things like democracy (or theocracy which seems much more likely). If we continue with our current surge, I think the current government will fall and a strongman, like Sadr, will take over.

I know the current administration rails against the "reality crowd" but I think some realism would be healthy medicine given the current debacle.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on May 26, 2007 at 9:28 am

To the last poster: Whenever I see that someone thinks "stability" trumps "democracy", I remember that this has always been used to establish a stable fascism.

I also think that anybody who believes that needs to go live for a year in a "stable" dictatorship and check it out.

No thanks. I defend the right of every human to have a voice in govt. Period.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2007 at 11:42 am

Why don't you ask the Iraqis whether they prefer to vote or prefer to avoid being dragged out by militias and shot? The U.S. has a long history of supporting stability over democracy. Why else would the House of Saud still be in power? We push democracy when it is convenient for our internal political consumption. There isn't any shortage of non-democratic regimes.

Posted by Jeremy, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 26, 2007 at 12:34 pm

Annonymous, Actually, I agree with some of what you say. Stability is preferable to chaos. Democracy takes a long time to grow, otherwise it becomes 'one-man-one-vote, one-time'. However, I am not going to support a vicious dictatorhip, unless it is better than a worse alternative. I have a good friend that said he wanted to release Saddam to bring stability back to Iraq (too late now!). I think that would have been a big mistake - Saddam was over the line, IMO.

I think there is a good chance that Iraq will settle down. For instance see the following link (similar to the link posted by Draw):

Web Link

As wars go, this has not been a very costly one for the U.S. The consequences of a successful outcome are enormous, and it would severely damage Al Qaeda. The consequence of a U.S. rout would be enormously bad. However, there could be some middle ground, such as a breakup of Iraq into autonomous regions, based on religion/ethnicity. We are not there yet, so I support our current efforts.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on May 27, 2007 at 3:03 pm

I think that the Iraqis have made clear that they prefer to vote by the fact that at the very least 3/4 of the adult population, 8 million, risked death to vote in the last election rather than staying home.

And, by the fact that men and women have risked, and lost, their lives and their family members' lives to be in their elected government.

Their actions are their voice.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on May 27, 2007 at 3:09 pm

" Anonymous" - The House of Saud has not been supported over democracy. Where do people grab these declarations from?

Posted by George, a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 27, 2007 at 10:42 pm

On "60 Minutes" today the mother of a soldier in Iowa said that her son was fighting against the country that attacked us on 9/11. She still believes that.
Maybe she was listening to Jeremy-Drawtheline who likes to agree with himself.

Posted by SkepticAl, a resident of Ventura
on May 27, 2007 at 11:12 pm

It's great that so many Iraqis voted, but I'm not sure I'd equate that with democracy as we experience it here. I get the impression that many of them voted out of a sense of religious duty and sectarian motives, and hypothetically, if the result of voting could be that their sect would seize and maintain power, they'd be glad not to vote again. On the other hand, I think most Americans (outside the Bush/Cheney/Rove cabal) would say that we want our regularly scheduled elections, with everyone's right to vote protected. I may not agree with Republicans 90% of the time, but I am absolutely committed to their participation in our democracy. Would Sunnis and Shia talk about democracy that way? That's not a rhetorical question - I'm actually uncertain, but skeptical.

Posted by Jeremy, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 28, 2007 at 6:01 am


If the mother's son was fighting in Afghanistan, she would be competely right. If her son is fighting in Iraq, she would still be right in a certain way, because Al Qaeda has decided to make the fight in Iraq after our invasion. If we had not invaded Iraq Al Qaeda would have made the fight somewhere else.

Believe it or not, George, there are at least two rational heads in Palo Alto. I am not Draw the Line.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on May 28, 2007 at 11:13 am

To Skeptical Al:

I agree. I have no doubt that the concept of democracy, and die to defend the right of your fellow citizen to vote and speak freely even though you disagree with him, is not developed much at all in Iraq.

It is a seedling. That is all she needs, like ours was. The seedling needs a fence around it to let it grow.

Oh, and I am not Jeremy either. Though I am delighted anyone thinks I am as pithy.

Posted by SkepticAl, a resident of Ventura
on May 29, 2007 at 7:16 pm

Draw -

Are you really comparing the roots of American democracy to the current situation in Iraq? Did I miss something in history class? Seriously, dispense with the seedling metaphor and actually tell me how the civil war in Iraq compares to colonial America pulling away from England. Compare some of the leaders and the ideals they fight for, the inspiration they cite to motivate their people.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on May 30, 2007 at 7:18 am

Definitions count. I don't define Iraq as in Civil War. I define Iraq as the majority (80% if you define it by how many participated in voting) pulling away from a local Dictatorship ( we did not have a local dictator, we had a "dicatator" across the ocean), with a small minority of locals, ( 12 million adults, even 1% is a lot of people, even if only 1/2 of them are men), aided and abetted by foreigners, trying to fight the majority will with violence.

By your definition, our revolution was a civil war, because at LEAST 30% fought on the side of the British, out of either loyalty or because they didn't want to lose the benefits they had, and those who didn't wish to fight moved north to...Canada.

So yes, I see them as similar. The difference is that there was and is NO WAY a country of unarmed citizens living under a ruthless, brutal dictator who keeps his dissidents starved, imprisoned, tortured and massacred can escape that type of regime without violent help. It is true that our revolution was spawned over 100 years in a country where printed ideas could flow, albeit carefully, and people could gather in "backwoods" to talk, again, carefully. But the ideas could grow. AND, critically, everyone was armed. ( Hence how "the right to bear arms" arose, the citizens knowing full well that if they hadn't had arms, they wouldn't have been able to fight the King's army.)

If your point is that there were differences..of course there were. There will never be another formation of democracy as ours was. So, any comparisons will have to allow for that. But, I believe the fundamental desire for a representative government is innate, and I see that the Iraqis are standing up and fighting for it. I find more similarities than not. I put myself in the shoes of an Iraqi looking at another dictatorship, or looking at keeping the taste of voting in his mouth, and I support the "seedling" of democracy that has begun.

And before you compare Iraq to other dictatorships that HAVE "turned over", let me point out the difference between a Turkey, which is making gradual but relatively successful progress, and Iraq, which never made one iota of progress, and even went backwards.


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