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Going to Iraq and Ruin? - This is Rich
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What's To Be Done in Iraq?
Expand NATO, a la Friedman
5%
 5%  [ 1 ]
Get Out As Soon As Possible
33%
 33%  [ 6 ]
Install A " Puppet Government "?
5%
 5%  [ 1 ]
Have Elections Quickly
5%
 5%  [ 1 ]
Heck, I Don't Know
38%
 38%  [ 7 ]
None of the Above - Here's My Solution
11%
 11%  [ 2 ]
Total Votes : 18

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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12856
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2003 1:56 pm    Post subject: Going to Iraq and Ruin? - This is Rich Reply with quote

Dear Fellow Posters,
I've decided to start a new thread dealing with the Iraqi situation since it, I'd say, so greatly affects those in the Middle East in general and in Saudi Arabia, specifically. Thomas Friedman ( who insists in his latest column that he " hasn't lost his marbles " ) wants to bring Iraq, Egypt and ( wait for it ) Israel into a " new, expanded NATO " ( if you find any of Mr. Friedman's marbles rolling around, please return them to him - he needs them desperately ).

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/26/opinion/26FRIE.html?th

In the same NY Times issue, Mr. Frank Rich has what I think is a good column about the situation in Iraq and how the administration is trying to " spin the news " coverage back here in the USA.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/26/arts/26RICH.html?pagewanted=1&th

So, what do you think? Are we in a quagmire there? Mr. Wolfowitz, on a mission to Iraq prompted by the need for a high official to " spead the good news " from there had a close call:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20031026/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq&cid=540&ncid=716

which might make his " upbeat assessments " a bit harder to swallow.

And just what's to be done, given the current situation? Is there ANY good course of action, at this stage? Will it just continue to get even worse and perhaps spill over into neighboring countries, such as the Kingdom? Hey, I know we can't affect the policies of the current administration in the USA ( well, in '04 perhaps we can ), but I'm interested in hearing what you guys and gals who've spent some time in the area think about it all.
Regards,
John
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ohman



Joined: 09 Sep 2003
Posts: 239
Location: B' Um Fouk, Egypt

PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2003 4:35 pm    Post subject: Give them credit card debt! Reply with quote

It's the economy Al gha 'bi!

A man steals a loaf of bread, is arrested and tried. First offense--let him go with a warning. Second time? Let him go with a sterner warning. Third time? He could lose a hand but, according to Sharia as it was explained to me by a former student who happened to not only be the best in his class but a bearded one as well, the man could plead that he was stealing the bread for his family. In that case, if he could prove it--he keeps his hand. No need to lecture a Muslim about family values.

"What do those people want from us anyway?" is a question I'm frequently asked by family and friends.

"To be left alone." is my stock answer. "Left alone to raise their kids, provide for their families. Come home to a nice sit down family supper, watch a little television in the evening. Perhaps sit outside and drink tea while their kids play football. They like owning new cars. Going on picnics. They want to brag about their kids doing well in school. They want the same stuff everyone wants--even the bearded ones, only a handful of whom are loose cannons."

Iraq sits on the second largest oil reserves in the world. Its potential for tourism can rival Egypt's. Maintaining these two cash cows requires lots of ministries and make work ministry jobs. Job training. Iraq has the potential to be every bit as progressive as Egypt, every bit as prosperous as a Gulf state. They want to raise a generation that doesn't fear having their doors kicked open at three in the morning--something they still fear today, only to have all the males in the house humiliated, blindfolded, handcuffed and led away to God knows where.

Give them the 87 billion. Give them twice that, three times that, call it a loan. Promise them more if they need it. Then go home.

Does anybody doubt that they won't build malls like those we see in Dubai, Kuwait, Dhahran? that these malls won't have a Starbucks, a Barnes and Noble, Wendy's, Radio Shack and a Body Shop? Build a Disneyworld outside of Baghdad (makes more sense than a joint Egyptian/Israeli NATO force fighting Iran as Friedman proposes, forgetting that Iran overtly supported anti-Taliban forces for years.

We'll get the damn money back. And a half dozen mothers back here won't have their worst nightmares realized each week.

Jobs. Dignity. Comfortable, safe housing. Opportunity. That's all it's going to take.

Side note: Was it just my experience or would others agree that the much maligned bearded ones, the wearers of ankles length Thobes and Dishtashas, 10 times out of 10 are the best students--polite, quiet, hardworking, eager to learn something.


Last edited by ohman on Sun Oct 26, 2003 7:21 pm; edited 4 times in total
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12856
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2003 5:47 pm    Post subject: The Triumph of Capitalism Reply with quote

Dear ohman,
Lord, you're bright. Your opinions agree with mine so often. I thoroughly concur with all you posted. As for the mutaween, yup - they were, by and large, the best students in my classes, as well. What's more - I even ran into quite a few who had a good sense of humor ( i.e. they laughed at my jokes ). I recall a time one of them, bearded and with the ankle-length thobe, raised the question:
" Why do Americans hate Saudis so much? "
I told him I didn't think that was the case, that although there undoubtedly were some Americans who DID hate Saudis, many/most, in my opinion, did not - any more than all Saudis hated Americans. But I also suggested that the fact that so many of the hijacking terrorists WERE Saudis could, perhaps, account for a lot of the distrust, suspicion and even hatred. He then said:
" But you have been here a long time; how many terrorists have you seen? "
" Hmm, " I replied, " besides yourself, you mean?
That cracked him up - imagine: a matawa laughing fit to burst.
Regards,
John
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ohman



Joined: 09 Sep 2003
Posts: 239
Location: B' Um Fouk, Egypt

PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2003 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John,
I wanted to add something about mutaween humor but I also wanted to keep my post fewer than 10,000 words.

That would make a good Saudi thread--mutaween in the classroom. During tests, I generally sat them far from the others.

What's relevent about them to this thread is that they aren't all brandishing a Kalishnikov in one hand, Qu'ran in the other.

And more than a few were earnestly curious about Christianity and where I came from.
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Mark100



Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Posts: 441

PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem with Iraq is that it consists of many rival factions and in fact would not have existed as one nation except for the strong arm tactics of the central govenment.
I have been told by Saudis that Iraq needs a "strong man" to keep a lid on these dissenting factions. I think that there is a fair amount of truth in this. I remeber before the Iraq invasion Crown Prince Abdullah saying that an invasion of Iraq would create more problems than it would solve and for this reason he was against it. Well i think we can see that he had a better handle of the situation than many others as this is precisely what has ocurred. The situation is a complete mess and there doesn't seem to be any clear cut solution to the myriad of problems that have surfaced as a result of the Iraq invasion. Throwing money at the problem will not work either as the power vacuum that was created as a result of the invasion has further factionalised the varying groups in the country.
Unfortunately it will probably take another "strong man" to keep the lid on these opposing factions.
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Cleopatra



Joined: 28 Jun 2003
Posts: 3657
Location: Tuamago Archipelago

PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I totally agree with Ohman, 'those people' (ie, the Aye-rabs) want nothing more or less than people everywhere want for themselves and their families. They may, of course, also want a government in Iraq which has at least some Islamic flavour, but that is - or should be - entirely up to them. After all, the bush admin. is hardly secular, is it?

The situation there is so dire that it's hard to know what can be done. Pulling out now won't work, but neither will a prolonged occupation. To make htings worse, the UN isn't exactly viewed as neutral in Iraq. So who knows?

BTW, thogh I usually taught women, I did once have a mutawwa in one of my few male classes. He was polite, clever, well-organized and keen. He didn't look me in the eye when he spoke to me, but I could live with that.

The muttawain - a much-maligned species?
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12373
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 9:35 am    Post subject: War Aims Reply with quote

It seems to me that there was a basic error in going into Iraq. What were the war aims of the Allies ? In other words what did they want to achieve and how would they know they had achieved it ?

Have these strategic planners in DC never read Clausewitz ?

What exit strategy do they have ? When will they know it is time to go ?

Also it seems pretty clear that they have not learned much from earlier involvements in guerilla wars in S. E. Asia. Watching the TV News is so much like the 1960's and 1970's that it hurts.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12856
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 12:11 pm    Post subject: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Reply with quote

Dear Cleopatra,

" The muttawain - a much-maligned species? "

Well, let's not go overboard in the other direction, either. Stereotyping all the mutaween as hard-core religious extremists, dour " puritanical " jerks,
is, as our experience shows, clearly wrong. However, as that incident during the fire at the Girls' School, back about 7 or 8 months ago ( wasn't it? ) shows - when some mataween prevented some of the students from leaving a burning building because they were " improperly clothed "- well, there ARE some total idiots among their number. I have NO idea what the percentage break-down would be; however, I suspect that those attracted to such a " line of work " might be more likely to be bozos than otherwise.
Regards,
John
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12856
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 12:26 pm    Post subject: This Way to the Egress Reply with quote

Dear scot47,
There was, in my opinion, a " basic error " indeed. However, now that " we " are in there, the question that remains is: How the heck do we get out " gracefully "? Well, maybe there IS no way to do so; we might, as we did in Viet Nam, finally have to just admit it's a " no-win " situation and rush for the exits. However, with 2004 being a presidential election year, I very much doubt we're going to see this administration pulling out any time soon. Their only viable course of action - if they want ( HA! ) to get re-elected - seems to me to be to " stick it out ", no matter what, and to continue to try to put a " Golly, everything's going just jim dandy over there in Iraq " spin on all the news. This is the same strategy that was employed for so long by both LBJ and Nixon in the '60s and early 70s. But, as Lincoln put it:

" You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."

It seems to me that more and more people here in the USA are beginning to see that the administration's " spin " is transparently false. It's only Oct. 2003 now; by Oct. 2004, if things go on as they have been, I'd say Dubya and Co. could well be in deep do-do.
Regards,
John
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ohman



Joined: 09 Sep 2003
Posts: 239
Location: B' Um Fouk, Egypt

PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark,
I have to respectfully disagree (and thanks for the tips on retiring to Thailand).

Rebuilding Iraq and providing opportunities to all Iraqis is going to take a boatload of dollars. A hint of prosperity, I am sure, will resolve the ethnic differences. People putting in 40 hours a week don't have time to dwell on blood feuds and pay back. . ." in the best of all possible worlds, we cultivate our gardens."

A progressive cleric like Khatami, president of Iran, whose credentials are that he opposed Saddam as Khatami opposed the Shah, and who opposes hardliners, as Khatami does, could be that strongman you're suggesting if one is needed. Someone who on Fridays hammers home a message reminding most Iraqis that first and foremost, they are all Muslim and therefore brothers and sisters and second reminds the majority that Muslims have an obligation to be tolerant of other peoples and their beliefs.

As Islamic message of tolerance is perhaps something the royals across the border aren't prepared to deal with.

The boldest move Bush could make right now is to invite Khatami to Camp David and pick his brain.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12856
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 1:43 pm    Post subject: A long run Reply with quote

Dear ohman,

" A hint of propserity will resolve the ethnic differences. People putting in 40 hours a week don't have time to dwell on blood feuds and pay back. . ."in the best of all possible worlds, we cultivate our gardens."

Well, maybe - but I think Mark100 does have a point. You're right, as far as the average " Ali in the street " goes; however, the jerks who are causing all this mayhem are most likely NOT your " average Alis ". In the long run, prosperity could well cut down on or even eliminate the problems - the terrorists, in the words of Mao, are " swimming in the sea of the people " and therefore are nearly invisible. But give the majority of Iraqis a chance for a decent life and that " sea " won't be so willing to
provide cover for disruption. The key phrase there, however, is " the long run ". Creating an Iraq in which most of the population has a stake in its future is going to take quite a while - and quite a lot of cash.
Regards,
John
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16121
Location: USA

PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello all,

I have certainly been reading this thread with interest and two thoughts have come to me. I have taught with a few Iraqi teachers and they said the same thing as Abdullah - Iraq can only be ruled by a strongman - even as they admitted to having left the country because of what that meant.

Like Scot I am too am haunted by the memories of Vietnam that this brings back. The only words I can think of to describe my current government are blind, ignorant, and greedy.

But, we are in there now - the damage is done - and I can only see one approach to start trying to repair the damage.

First we Americans have to get the Republicans out of power. Then, the next administration has to admit the problem and hand it all over to the UN to try to fix. That is the only way to get the world to help repair what will affect all of us for the foreseeable future - with America footing most of the bill, of course. It also may very well have to be accepted that Iraq is not viable as a single country - with the intractable historical warring of the three disparate peoples who never had any choice in becoming 'iraqis' in the first place. Perhaps a sort of loose confederation with only a centralization of all the oil fields and a population based sharing of the wealth - but separate governance - and no national military? I'm just sort of thinking out loud here---

At the same time, the Israel/Palestine situation must also be fixed. It is obvious that they can not do it themselves either. All the UN resolutions on that issue must also be enforced and the borders go back to where they were pre-l967 - with all settlements dismantled and the UN enforcing the peace.

Would all the violence stop in both places? Of course not, but I do believe that it would wither down to just a few radicals who could eventually be controlled. ...though not probably in our lifetimes.

This is all simplistic and most likely impossible, but I checked the last choice on the poll and felt compelled to explain my ideas - naive though they may be. Now you can all shoot big holes in my theory --- I already know that it will never happen this way.

VS
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12856
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 12:27 pm    Post subject: Friedman's Folly Reply with quote

If you want to read what I see as a rather pitiful attempt by Mr. Friedman to "justify" his cheerleading on the Iraqi invasion ( and to - rightly - blame this clueless administration for the current mess ), then head for this site:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/30/opinion/30FRIE.html?th=&pagewanted=print&position=

Does it really matter, I have to wonder, whether the Iraqi terrorists are described as "Viet Cong" or, in Mr. Friedman's phrase, as "the Iraqi Khmer Rouge"? What matters, as I see it, is that by our being there we have managed to do the just about impossible: united ALL the different brands of whackos against us. It's "me against my brother; my brother and I against our cousin; etc." in grand style. And now, if we did pull out, it's a pretty sure bet those various factions wouldn't suddenly acquire a taste for peaceful coexistence; nope, they'd turn to knocking off each other ( and all the innocnet by-standers ) a la Lebanon. As I final irony, I find Mr. Friedman's first sentence:

"Since 9/11, we've seen so much depraved violence we don't notice anymore when we hit a new low."

an apt description of his own opinions on Iraq.

Regards,
John

As an "antidote" may I suggest Ms Dowd's column, same issue:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/30/opinion/30DOWD.html?th
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12373
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 12:53 pm    Post subject: Let us mould the world in our image. Reply with quote

Friedman - I saw him recently on CNN in a documentary he appeared in.

He seemed to be saying that if only we get Iraqis and Saudis and Kuwaitis to be like "us" everything will be dandy. Tackle the democracy issue and all our problems will go away.

If only the world were so simple.

I have continual memories now of the sixties and seventies when sane people everywhere knew that the only way forward was for the US to leave Vietnam. When I switch on the TV and lsiten to official statements about what is happening it is a time trip back to those bad times.

How come people talk about the sixties with nostalgia ?

From the British point of view let us rmemebr Harold Wilson. He was the British PM who refused to get involved in Vietnam, despite arm-twisting by Washington. Alas his successor in Number 10 Downing Street is a weaker man.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12856
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 1:00 pm    Post subject: Nostalgia ain't what it used to be Reply with quote

Dear scot47,

"How come people talk about the sixties with nostalgia ?"

Because we were all younger - those of us who were alive that long ago - and more innocent/naive back then. Some of us actually thought we could "change the world". Sounds sad and funny, now, doesn't it? But I'd say you can count on this, as well - someday, after you've left the Kingdom, you'll look back on your time there with - yup - nostalgia (hard though that may presently be to believe).
Regards,
John


Last edited by johnslat on Thu Oct 30, 2003 3:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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