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Thursday, August 11, 2005

More questions than answers from Rumsfeld

Posted by: Hammer / 9:28 AM

Rumsfeld addressed the press on Tuesday:

Some 60 years ago, with the war in Europe turning against them, Hitler's forces faced defeat, and in desperation, the Nazi regime carried out some of the most indiscriminate acts of violence that had been seen during the war. With allied forces closing in on Berlin, Hitler ordered destruction of German infrastructure, and sent Germans, even very young children, Germans, out to face almost certain death as soldiers. If Germans were no longer willing to shed their own blood to ensure their right to survival, Hitler said, they deserved to die. The world saw in these acts the true nature of totalitarianism and its capacity for self-annihilation.

I don't get the point. The insurgents in Iraq are like the Nazis at the end of World War 2? Thing is, Ablert Speer, head of German industrial production, refused to carry out the orders. Hitler's support had dwindled to a small circle of fanatical loyalists by the end of the war. The Iraqi insurgents have always been made up of fanatical loyalists and have lacked popular support. Rumsfeld continued:

This may suggest why terrorists today in Iraq are indiscriminately killing so many Iraqis, even Iraqi children. They seem to either believe that this could turn the tide their way, or they've given up hope of rallying public opinion to their side. And it could also explain why extremists would risk bombing Londoners, which served, really, to harden the British people's determination to fight extremism.

Which is all well and good, except that the insurgent attacks have continued apace and have been in their last throes for seemingly ever. There is no winding down of the insurgency -- this has been their tactic all along.

The answer, if I can borrow from Atrios, is to clap harder:

Q If I can take you back to your opening statement when you -- actually, General Myers made similar references to the failings of the insurgency, including their failure to garner public support. And yet, this far into the operation, the insurgency has managed to sustain itself. Does this suggest a lack of understanding on your part on what the insurgency is about, who they are, the durability of their effort?

SEC. RUMSFELD: The people who are involved in analyzing that think not. They believe with great conviction that the progress on the political, the economic and the security side, moving forward together, will in fact create an environment in that country that the Iraqis will be capable of putting down that insurgency over a period of time.

Yes, well, conviction is never a substitute for analysis. There's also this Iran business I don't get:

Q Can I ask a question to General Myers, please. Thank you, sir. General Myers, can I expand a little bit on these sophisticated IEDs? There are reports that some of these sophisticated weapons, including shape charges, are entering Iraq from Iran. Is this true? Are they coming in in abundance? Is it part of the Iranian government, do you think, or terrorist organizations in Iran?

SEC. RUMSFELD: It is true that weapons, clearly, unambiguously from Iran have been found in Iraq. I'm not going to comment on the other aspects of your question.

Q Do you know how many, sir?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, no. Goodness, how can you know? You only know what you know. That's a big border. And it's notably unhelpful for the Iranians to be allowing weapons of those types to cross the border.

Shia Iran would welcome a Shia Iraq. Why would Shia Iran want to support a Sunni insurgency in Iraq? Sunni strongholds are in western Iraq. Iran is on Iraq's eastern border. To get explosives from Iran to insurgents, you'd either have to go through the Kurdish north or the Shia south to get to the Sunni west. Juan Cole explains how this attempt to tie Iran with the insurgency is clownish -- in that Steven King, It, evil-clown with a death cult way.


I don't know. I have trouble keeping them all straight. When Iran captured the hostages and created the oil crisis back in the 70's, we were told that it was the Shiites that were bad, and the Sunnis that were good. Now, it seems that the Sunnis are bad and the Shiites are good. But, having been raised a Presbyterian, I had a dim view of Methodists although my good friends in highschool were, along with Catholics. Now that I've converted - in college - to Catholicism, I find that the people I'm most upset with are conservative Catholics, and the Presbyterians and Methodists are okay. So, too, the ELCA but not the Missouri synod. Hmmmm, it's so hard to keep things straight. Especially so when I confuse my "n's" and "q's." Hey, there's not some political intrigue going on here, is there?

By Anonymous therealrepublican, at 9:59 AM  

I think the hostage taking was more political than religious, but I'm certainly no expert. As of today, though, Sunni Muslims compromise the bulk of Islamic terrorists. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are Sunni. The Taliban was Sunni. Osama bin Laden is Sunni. Wahhabis are sub group of Sunnis.

The American trend has been toward inter-denominational cooperation. Certainly 1 or 2 hundred years ago the Protestant/Catholic split was much more important. The KKK hated "Papists", for example.

I'm not a religious scholar, but it seems to me that the Sunni/Shia split (which involves multiple assassinations) is far more serious than the the difference between Methodism, Lutheranism, Presbyterianism, and so on.

By Blogger Hammer, at 10:22 AM  

This is a tough topic. Most of the accessable writing on the subject comes from the Israeli press. Guys like Victor Mordecai write about it a lot. Granted, this stuff kind of falls way to the right of where I usually sound off from, but I have read a lot lately about this religious rift and how huge it is.

Adding to my confusion on the matter is that these writings are always infused with the big caveat of these 2 factions will set aside differences when Israel is concerned. Hammer, this gets at your political comment. My best guess is that it is hard to seperate the religious and political aspects in this case. They go hand in hand.

Its hard to find good reading on the subject. If anyone has some, please put it in the comments as I would like to read about it.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:03 AM  

There's a good brief on the differences between Sunni and Shia. Here's a brief on Islam, generally. There's also a brief on Wahhabism that I haven't read.

By Blogger Hammer, at 11:25 AM  

You take me much too seriously sometimes. Ask Jambo.

By Anonymous therealrepublican, at 1:27 PM  

Obviously, there's a history of sectarian tension and violence within Christianity. Northern Ireland, for one example. I think it's easy to forget how deeply those tensions ran. In the town my mother grew up in, the Reform Church children didn't play with the Christian Reform Church children. Splitters. Anyway, the one thing they fer sure agreed on was that all the Catholics were idolators doomed to hell.

By Blogger Hammer, at 1:32 PM  

It's true, I'm probably doomed to Hell. But, since I'm a lawyer I'll be in good company there.

By Anonymous therealrepublican, at 2:06 PM  

the music will be better, that's for sure.

By Blogger Hammer, at 2:21 PM  

I think you all are forgetting your history. We are currently at war with Oceania. We have always been at war with Oceania.

By Blogger Jambo, at 9:37 PM  

I see they lowered the price of gas again...

By Blogger Hammer, at 7:19 AM  

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