Monday, February 16, 2009

Key to Iraqi Peace May Be Through Iran

Paul Krugman
E J Dionne

First, you might want to send a Thank-You card to George Bush or the RNC for their economic policies of the last eight years. Their versions of tax cuts helped someone, but it turned out to not be me or you. Paul Krugman reports: "Last week the Federal Reserve released the results of the latest Survey of Consumer Finances, a triennial report on the assets and liabilities of American households. The bottom line is that there has been basically no wealth creation at all since the turn of the millennium: the net worth of the average American household, adjusted for inflation, is lower now than it was in 2001."

On to our friends, the Iraqis. Election officials have revealed that during the recent provincial elections, only a little bit of fraud occurred. This is a positive thing, they are being more honest than American officials. From the NY Times: "Iraqi election officials said Sunday that some fraud was committed in virtually every province during local elections Jan. 31 but that it was not widespread enough in any of them to require a new vote. I guess we could always offer our officials from Florida and Ohio to show them how to rig it properly...

The bad and violent news is that the religious civil war is continuing unabated, with these recent reports: "A bomb attack on pilgrims in Iraq has killed at least six of them and wounded as many as fifty. The attack took place in the city of Karbala as Shia Muslims marked one of the most important dates in their religious calendar.

There have also been attacks in the northern city of Mosul, still regarded as a stronghold of al-Qaeda fighters. Four police were killed by a car bomb in the centre of Mosul, while a Sunni politician was shot dead by gunmen." 

"At least 32 pilgrims have been killed by a female suicide bomber south of Baghdad, Iraqi police say. Sixty-five people were also injured in the attack in Iskandiriya, 40km (25 miles) south of Baghdad. The blast targeted Shia pilgrims, many of whom have been travelling south to the city of Karbala to take part in an annual religious ceremony.

It is the third day of attacks on Shia pilgrims, with dozens killed in Baghdad and Mosul.
The Iskandiriya attack happened despite increased security along the route."

Soon, there may be talks between the US and Iran. This is a good thing, and was a totally 
blown opportunity by the Bush administration, who labelled them as part of the Axis of Evil after Iranian intelligence delivered so much false information on WMD's and Iraq through Ahmed Challabi. Played them for chumps...

There are many Iraqi ties to Iran, and any lasting peace in the region will have to come with the help of Iran, like it or not. Robert Dreyfuss points out that many of the Shiite exiles who were installed in government by the US invasion in 2003 had lived for decades in Iran, where they built friendships with the religious establishment. The ruling Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and its Badr Brigade militia were created by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the council still receives much of its funding from Iran.

Iran also has strong ties to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who lived in Tehran for part of his exile years, and to Moqtada al-Sadr, the rebel cleric whose 60,000 strong Mahdi Army is a potential; force in Iraq's civil strife. "When you tell the Americans about this, they don't believe it..."

The Persians are paranoid of being surrounded by so many Arab nations, and want to be recognized as a major player in the region's politics. They also could have a calming effect on groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as the various Talibans in Pakistan and Afghanistan. There is a problem with drugs like opium now in Iran, where there wasn't much of one before. 

The fact that Iran has responded favorably to President Obama and now is open to talks as equals signals a change of mind by the ruling Mullahs. And with the changes that the Saudi King recently made, it seems that the pendulum of the whole region is swinging away from right wing extremism, just like in the USA.
Just as an aside, the largest group of Iranians living outside of Iran is in Los Angeles. It's often called Little Tehran...

Now for some old late night jokes on the war in Iraq:

"The Bush Administration said there will be a delay in restoring a newly elected democratic government in Iraq. However, they said the delay will not be as long as the one we have had in this country." —Jay Leno

"The Pentagon said this week that the war in Iraq has cost $20 billion so far. The breakdown is operations: $10 billion; personnel: $6 billion; getting Bush re-elected: priceless." —Bill Maher

"Today, President Bush announced he's been mispronouncing the name of Iraq all along. He said it's actually pronounced Syria." —Jay Leno

"Now there are reports from Baghdad that officials are taking bribes for favors, giving jobs to their relatives, taking money under the table from contractors. You know what this means? The war is less than a week old, and already they have an American-style democracy." —Jay Leno

"For the first time the people of Iraq are united. Today on CNN I saw a Kurd, a Shiite and a member of the Republican Guard coming together to cart off a big screen TV." —Jay Leno

"All over Baghdad, Iraqi looters have been breaking into banks and walking out with millions of dollars in Iraqi money. As a result, they now qualify for President Bush's tax cut." —Conan O'Brien

"The military said we'll be able to confirm Saddam is dead with DNA testing. Apparently we have a sample of his DNA. So Monica Lewinsky is working for the CIA?" —Jay Leno

"We have an important decision to make now about who controls Iraq. You know, that's a critical question, because it's who we're going to be fighting in five to ten years." —Jay Leno

"In Iraq, the U.S. military's whack-a-mole approach to killing Saddam Hussein may have finally paid off. ... The bombs destroyed the area and left behind a 60-foot crater, or as coalition forces prefer to call it: a freedom hole." —Jon Stewart

"War continues in Iraq. They're calling it Operation Iraqi Freedom. They were going to call it Operation Iraqi Liberation until they realized that spells 'OIL.'" —Jay Leno

"There was another war-related casualty today. The French were injured when they tried to jump on our bandwagon." —Jay Leno

"President Bush said the other day the war is not about timetables. It's about winning. Hey, it worked in Florida." —Jay Leno

"CNN said that after the war, there is a plan to divide Iraq into three parts ... regular, premium and unleaded." —Jay Leno

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