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The History of Minority Rule

Clifford May simply owns today's must-read commentary, stating the obvious yet mysteriously elusive regarding the history of Minority Rule.

In 1917, most Russians were not Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks were a minority, but they were fanatical and ruthless. So they prevailed — and for most of the 20th century Russians lived and died under Communist oppression.

In 1933, most Germans were not Nazis. The Nazis were a minority, but they were fanatical and ruthless. Tens of millions would perish before Hitler’s dream of world conquest collapsed.

Today, it is not clear that most Iraqis want to slaughter other Iraqis and return Iraq to despotism. But a fanatical and ruthless minority does.

This minority — actually two rival minorities, one Sunni, one Shia — enjoys the support of both al-Qaeda and the regime that rules Iran. That is not surprising. What is: the fact that such mass murderers are neither opposed nor even seriously condemned by “the international community.” Instead, in the Middle East, Europe and even America, opposition and condemnation are meted out in fullest measure to those reluctant to quit the fight against the mass murderers.

Read it all. Regular readers will feel this a broken record, but it continues to amaze - with national shame - how the visceral opposition to any American action in Iraq completely dismisses the unprotected bloody fate the Iraqi people would endure at the feet of such disinterest.

Every once in a while, someone will write something profound that, when truly reflected upon, does not necessarily require great intellectual ponderance and quiet meditation to arrive at, leaving the reader to punish himself or herself for not making the same observation long ago. Today is one of those 'every once in a while' days.

I'll have to remind myself to 'once in a while' say thank you to Cliff May. If they were to see or hear his words, it can hardly be doubted that most Iraqis would do the very same, perhaps more than 'once in a while,' and surely with the conviction of the affected...and Defended.

7 Comments

It's nice to be inspired by another writer's work. Cliff May inspired you. William Odom inspired me. Here are Odom's 4 fallacies about the Iraq War:

1) We must continue the war to prevent the terrible aftermath that will occur if our forces are withdrawn soon. We are now fighting to prevent what our invasion made inevitable! .... A prolonged U.S. occupation cannot prevent what already exists.

2) We must continue the war to prevent Iran's influence from growing in Iraq. This is another absurd notion. One of the president's initial war aims, the creation of a democracy in Iraq, ensured increased Iranian influence, both in Iraq and the region. Electoral democracy, predictably, would put Shiite groups in power -- groups supported by Iran since Saddam Hussein repressed them in 1991.

3) We must prevent the emergence of a new haven for al-Qaeda in Iraq. But it was the U.S. invasion that opened Iraq's doors to al-Qaeda. .... Continuing the war will not push al-Qaeda outside Iraq. On the contrary, the American presence is the glue that holds al-Qaeda there now.

4) We must continue to fight in order to "support the troops." This argument effectively paralyzes almost all members of Congress. Lawmakers proclaim in grave tones a litany of problems in Iraq sufficient to justify a rapid pullout. Then they reject that logical conclusion, insisting we cannot do so because we must support the troops. .... But the strangest aspect of this rationale for continuing the war is the implication that the troops are somehow responsible for deciding to continue the president's course. That political and moral responsibility belongs to the president, not the troops.

Let's face the hard realities, gentlemen. If we were sincerely interested in stopping the wholesale slaughter of innocents, we'd be in Africa right now. If we were sincerely interested in stopping militaristic regimes who threaten world peace, we'd have invaded North Korea long ago. George Bush & Co. wanted Saddam Hussein's head for other reason's entirely, and it had nothing to do with WMDs or Iraqi rape rooms.

Nice try but no cigar, Jeffrey.

Point by point

1) er, no. Your lack of imagination is astounding. Things can always get worse. Much worse. Much much worse. And the situaion is very saveable.

2) So... the Shias who are the minority should stay ruled by the Sunnis? You now favor minority rule? You just about come right out and say that Iraq should not have a democracy. Since you don't believe in democracy for anyone but yourself, how about not voting in our next election?

3) Flat out untrue. Saddam had extensive contacts with al-Qaeda and other terrorists well before our invasion.

4) We don't fight to support the troops but to win. As far as members of congress being paralyzed, you don't read the papers much, do you? They don't seem at all paralyzed to me. Just about the opposite, in fact.

"George Bush & Co." ah, there it is. You just couldn't control yourself, could you?

So... you want us to send troops into Africa? Or no? Conveniently, you don't say. All you do is cry "hypocrite" without saying what you would do.

And like a typical liberal if we can't save everyone we can't save anyone.

--- For my ambitious friend, Tom the Redneck. You give me too much credit by responding to me as if I wrote these points. I didn't. I clearly said they were the work of General Odom.

Nevertheless, I'll do my best to answer your retorts, shallow though they may be.

You said:
1) er, no. Your lack of imagination is astounding. Things can always get worse. Much worse. Much much worse. And the situaion is very saveable.

--- Odom's point, I believe, is that our invasion created the environment for things to go from bad to worse, and in fact, that's exactly what has happened. Things are much worse now then ever before.

You said:
2) So… the Shias who are the minority should stay ruled by the Sunnis? You now favor minority rule? You just about come right out and say that Iraq should not have a democracy. Since you don’t believe in democracy for anyone but yourself, how about not voting in our next election?

--- Tom, you've completely lost the point. Odom was addressing the misconception that we must continue the war to prevent Iran's influence from growing in Iraq. I assume you want to dispute that. If so, you must now explain how Odom's point is wrong; not wander off onto a tangent about democracy and why I shouldn't vote.

You said:
3) Flat out untrue. Saddam had extensive contacts with al-Qaeda and other terrorists well before our invasion.

--- Cite your source on that, Tom. According to the latest CIA report on the subject, there was no Iraq-Al Qa'ida connection. For that matter, at that time, Al Qa'ida was principally Shia, while Hussein was Sunni. They hated each other.

As a side note, there WAS a connection between Al Qa'ida and Saudi Arabia but we didn't invade them. We also knew Osama bin Laden was in Afhganistan, yet George Bush decided to split our forces to invade Iraq where Al Qa'ida was not and, as we all know. bin Laden, the architect behind 9/11, still has his head. Quite an interesting strategy in Bush's so-called "War on Terror" - go where the enemy isn't.

You said:
4) We don’t fight to support the troops but to win. As far as members of congress being paralyzed, you don’t read the papers much, do you? They don’t seem at all paralyzed to me. Just about the opposite, in fact.

--- Once again you wander off topic. I thought you were disputing Odom point-by-point? To do that, you need to accurately communicate what General Odom's point is. You don't seem to know.

You said:
“George Bush & Co.” ah, there it is. You just couldn’t control yourself, could you?

--- Bush & Co is shorthand for the Bush Administration plus his Neocon advisors. It's a convenience, not a slur.

You said:
So… you want us to send troops into Africa? Or no? Conveniently, you don’t say. All you do is cry “hypocrite” without saying what you would do. And like a typical liberal if we can’t save everyone we can’t save anyone.

--- Yes, I'd have sent troops into Africa long ago to stop the genocide, and would have built a multi-national coalition to address Africa's famine issues. Finally, Tom, I'm a Coast Guard veteran. We quickly learn that you can only save who you can. It's never all or nothing.

Jeff and Tom,

Let's keep the personal insults and name calling and slurs elsewhere.

A couple of quick points:

The Shi'a are the majority - not the minority in Iraq. Odom's statement that a democratic Iraq (thus a more Shi'a influenced Iraq) would increase Iranian influence is one plausible position. The alternative is that a democratic Iraq would increase pressure on the Iranian regime. By the time we've seen this through to its ends - both will have most likely have occurred.

Jeff - on the question of al-Qaeda's relationship to Iraq - CIA Director George Tenet, from a letter to Congress on October 7, 2002:

--We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda going back a decade.

--Credible information indicates that Iraq and Al Qaeda have discussed safe haven and reciprocal nonaggression.

--Since Operation Enduring Freedom, we have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of Al Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad.

--We have credible reporting that Al Qaeda leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire W.M.D. capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to Al Qaeda members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs.

--Iraq's increasing support to extremist Palestinians coupled with growing indications of relationship with Al Qaeda suggest that Baghdad's links to terrorists will increase, even absent U.S. military action.

Also Jeff, al-Qaeda is comprised of Sunni Muslims. Not Shi'a - now or ever.

As to support of the troops - Odom's remarks reflect the political challenge before those who oppose the war in Iraq. As he notes, if you don't support the war, and seek to see the troops withdrawn - the answer is clear enough. Politics prevents them from taking the logical steps he alludes to.

You bring up Africa, which is a good topic. However, it's off topic here - and yes, we should be doing more in the parts of Africa that would accept our assistance, and perhaps in a couple of areas that would not.

And, finally, please refrain from name calling.

You wrote:

Jeff and Tom,

Let’s keep the personal insults and name calling and slurs elsewhere.

--- Fine by me. For the record, my initial post was free of any of that. And Tom's reply, which was derogatory from the get-go, was left to stand as-is for at least a week without any moderator attention, so while I'm willing to post flame-free, I'm not willing to turn the other cheek if I'm flamed first. In other words, with all due respect, maybe the moderators here can be more stringent on this policy when name-calling first occurs.

You wrote:

Jeff - on the question of al-Qaeda’s relationship to Iraq - CIA Director George Tenet, from a letter to Congress on October 7, 2002:

--- At least 2 investigations into CIA intelligence failures confirms that no ties between Iraq and Al Qa'ida existed before our invasion.
http://www.gpoaccess.gov/serialset/creports/iraq.html
http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2006_rpt/srpt109-331.pdf

Here's a good summary on the most recent report (the 2nd link I provided) from the Congressional Record: (http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2006_cr/s090806.html)

"The committee found that there was no credible information that Iraq was complicit or had foreknowledge of the September 11 attacks or any other al-Qaida strike anywhere. The committee also found that Iraq did not provide chemical or biological weapons training or any material or operational support to al-Qaida prior to the war.

Furthermore, no evidence was found of any meeting between al-Qaida and the Iraq regime before the war, other than a single meeting that took place years earlier in 1995, in fact, in the Sudan. That meeting was at a fairly low level, and that meeting did not lead to any operational cooperation at all. Osama was there, but the Iraqi representative was at a low level.

Key pieces of evidence used by the administration asserting links between Iraq and al-Qaida were a report of a meeting in Prague between 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer and a claim that Iraq provided chemical and biological weapons training to
al-Qaida in the late 1990s. The committee report demonstrates that the prewar statements of the Vice President of the United States that the Prague meeting had been ``pretty well confirmed'' and that the 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta--again the Vice President's words--``in fact''
met with Iraqi intelligence services in 2001 were not substantiated by the intelligence assessment at the time the statements were made by the Vice President. Likewise, the statement by National Security Adviser Rice that

[[Page S9244]]

``there are a lot of tantalizing meetings'' between Iraq and ``people who were involved in 9/11'' was clearly false based upon what was known prior to the war. The committee's investigation revealed no postwar information indicating that Iraq considered using al-Qaida or any other terrorist group to attack the United States. The committee investigation concluded that, in fact, Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qaida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime and to him personally, refusing all requests from al-Qaida to provide material or any kind of operational support. Postwar findings indicate that Saddam Hussein refused all al-Qaida overtures for material or operational support and, in fact, issued a general order that Iraq should not deal with al-Qaida. In addition, Saddam viewed al-Zarqawi, who was present in Baghdad only from May to November of 2002, as an outlaw. Saddam regarded Zarqawi as an outlaw and attempted unsuccessfully to locate him and capture him. Again, he failed."

You Wrote:
Also Jeff, al-Qaeda is comprised of Sunni Muslims. Not Shi’a - now or ever.

--- My mistake. You're certianly correct on that. I confused Al Qa'ida with the Mahdi Army, who's Shia.

You Wrote:
And, finally, please refrain from name calling.

--- Understood.

Jeff,

To be clear - there are times that things slip by. And given how busy we've been the last week, I hope you'll understand why I (and the other TW Editors) didn't get to the issue earlier (tone).

I've read the reports you cite (thanks for sharing the links with others). That said - at the time, government officials of both political leanings believed that a relationship existed - even if nascent. The final judgement may still show that such a relationship existed.

Further, I would question what reaction we should have to the potential of such a relationship. Would it be prudent to wait for such a relationship to develop more fully? And given the AQAM developments within Iraq after the invasion, there is little question that the ideological basis was in place and supported (at least among the Fedeyeen and perhaps on a larger scale).

As I've noted before - we want to resolve the situation, and while we've all acknowledged the gaps in HUMINT that pre-dated the war, we are primarily focused on determining a way forward - including improving our HUMINT capabilities. On the importance of that, we can all agree.

You wrote:
I hope you’ll understand why I (and the other TW Editors) didn’t get to the issue earlier (tone).

--- Absolutely.

You wrote:
Further, I would question what reaction we should have to the potential of such a relationship. Would it be prudent to wait for such a relationship to develop more fully? And given the AQAM developments within Iraq after the invasion, there is little question that the ideological basis was in place and supported (at least among the Fedeyeen and perhaps on a larger scale).

--- I'm happy to concede that the question you pose isn't an easy one to answer. There are multiple efforts underway to improve the way that intelligence analysts do their job, but with that I believe we must have more critical thinking on the part of the ultimate consumer of these reports - the White House. Politics cannot be allowed to color interpretation nor impact the process in the ways that it has done in the past.

You wrote:
As I’ve noted before - we want to resolve the situation, and while we’ve all acknowledged the gaps in HUMINT that pre-dated the war, we are primarily focused on determining a way forward - including improving our HUMINT capabilities. On the importance of that, we can all agree.

--- Not only do I agree, but part of my time each week is dedicated to exploring better technological innovations for analysts to mine InteLink and GALE, for starters.