Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Middle East Miscellanea

Imagine Madison Square Gardens at full capacity. Now imagine it 1.5 times full with people. Now imagine all of them dead.

Breaking with past policy of not counting the other side’s dead, President Bush said at a speech in Philadelphia yesterday that some 30,000 Iraqis have been killed since the 2003 US invasion.

Also breaking with practice, Bush cited the number of US war dead – about 2140 – to presumably offset the larger number of Iraqi dead.

Referring to Iraqis’ ongoing efforts toward independence, Bush spoke of a “struggle” that would not go smoothly. What he failed to acknowledge is that all those bumps in the road Iraqis should continue to expect will actually be corpses.

The most telling (and alarming) statement Bush made was, "It took a four-year civil war and a century of struggle after that before the promise of our Declaration was extended to all Americans.”

Was it wise for the president to have evoked a civil war, which his administration denies Iraq is moving toward, in that comparison? And the century of struggle? Ouch. Between this and the death tolls, Bush handed his anti-war opponents a healthy supply of ammunition yesterday.

In other news…

The Iraqi people are set to vote for a permanent National Assembly on Thursday, December 15. (For their own sakes, they had better hope their voting equipment isn’t provided by Diebold.) Whatever the outcome, the elections are expected to cause unrest from one or more of Iraq’s sectarian factions.


Yesterday in Lebanon Gebran Tueni, an anti-Syrian journo and MP (member of parliament), was assassinated. Syria is believed to be behind the killing. Then, today a Sunni Arab candidate for the Iraqi parliament was assassinated in Ramadi.

Do we still the believe the root cause of terrorist acts like assassination is unemployment?


Israel may bomb Iran if the latter goes forward with its plans to build a nuclear power plant. Good! Let’s let someone else do the dirty work and deal with the consequences for a change. Seriously.

As hypocritical as it is for a nuclear country to oppose another country’s nuclear efforts, the thought of a radical Islamist nation with nuclear anything is really scary.

Meanwhile, in a bizarre sort of “good faith” gesture, Iran has invited the US to take part in the building of their nuclear reactor. Though ill-advised, were we take them up on the offer, it wouldn’t be the first time we foolishly helped out that treacherous country (see the Iran-Contra Affair, et al).

Nor would it be the first time we assisted a country with something that might later be adapted for use against us (see the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan-US training of Afghan rebels-al Qaeda/Taliban-9/11).

So, to summarize: Civil war, contentious elections, assassinations, bombings, nukes... In other words, there’s very little new under the desert sun in the Middle East.




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