March 23, 2006


Posted by Old Nick at March 23, 2006 05:56 AM | TrackBack




'severely MSM-toxed nervous-systems.'

You should be so lucky already. It should happen to you. (love, Judy Holliday.)

Stuff about Europe good, otherwise good document on right-wing propagande, similar to leftist tracts. We already got a long-term outline about al Qaeda linked to a few months back, here it says there's nothing all that elaborate there. No mention of troops worn out and overstretched--truly one of Rummy's greatest achievements was to minimize victory and make the war last by too few troops and no body armor. Rummy's wit? It's all yours, kid.

Some dame said she had a photo of a reconstruction site in Baghdad yesterday, said if people could see that they'd give up all opposition to 'this conflict.'

Whole proof of these articles will be tested in the next few weeks possibly. It's according to how popular the term 'Civil War' gets, and how long the far right can gas up on whatever substance it gets to dream on with; and also how thoroughly unlistened-to are Bush's speeches by Americans. There is just the slightest possibility Americans are not all that interested in the speeches, but I have no idea why: it's clear that new carnage every day is proof of success, and that the more carnage that takes place the more likely there will be no Civil War. After, all the only way there could be an official Civil War is if nobody got killed. Then Bush could refer to one routinely.

But then the MSM always lies, considering how they work both for the far right and the far left. No fucking ulc-ahs fo' me on these matt-ahs.

Posted by: puff adder at March 23, 2006 05:52 PM



Journalists in Baghdad, blast walls, security businesses that lure soldiers with $1000 a day jobs. These are the only people that can report on what Baghdad is, and they have to get staff to go out and fetch a lot of it.

Hateful, I know, but this is merely one of the world's top journals.

Posted by: puff adder at March 24, 2006 02:03 AM



puff adder - one advantage of Dunn's analysis is that it side-steps the now entirely deadlocked partisan argument about Iraq to ask how things look from the Jihadi PoV - do you think they have any serious prospects of taking power in either Afghanistan or Iraq? Surely not. So IMHO Dunn's discussion should be considered highly valuable, even by those of all stripes who think the Iraq adventure was too expensive, SNAFUed, mishandled, etc etc
If you were Zarqawi, what would you do? More of the same? It's not as if a civil war is going to restore Sunni dominance, although of course it reduces the (already severely compromised) infectiousness of the Iraqi democratic model. This really isn't about how pissed Americans are at the administration or its handling of the war.

Posted by: Nick at March 24, 2006 05:37 AM



I'm also interested - to what extent is certainty in this area itself a matter of partisan decision? While in no way claiming to neutrality of any kind, I find quite a number of different takes on the situation persuasive and wouldn't be amazed to see the whole situation descend into hellish chaos (which is still some way off - in scale if not time - by any sober estimation IMHO). The one perspective that really disgusts me, however, is the MSM Vietnam-redux storyline, spun by a journalistic class who have no sense of historical balance or elementary competence in evaluating military affairs. They don't even understand Vietnam, why on earth would anyone trust them to 'explain' Iraq?

Posted by: Nick at March 24, 2006 06:05 AM



I don't know. I just remember that article you or SD put up here about the long-range Al Qaeda goals over the next 20 years. They were considered to be 'losing' in the current phase, but I don't have reason to believe anything I read about them as long as they're not put out of business (and they are not. Dunn can talk about these 'isolated' incidents, but he distinguishes them from the 9/11 one, and they are really different only in magnitude.)

I don't think it's a partisan matter with Iraq. The New York Review of Books article gives the best image of what it's like to be a journalist in Baghdad, how so many have been killed, how only the biggest as WaPo, NYT, Fox, CNN, are able to afford the security and insurance necessary even to stay at all in intolerable conditions, about the incredible surreal phenomenon of the Green Zone (that was an eye-opener to me.) Republicans are moving away from Bush and everybody is saying that the speeches are all the same. People are saying 'Civil War' a lot more even since I wrote this morning. Sure, you can look at it as part of a bigger context, but somehow I find the facts of huge numbers of body dumping every day, of what reporters living in constant danger really see when they can even stay there at all more interesting than overviews by writers far from the action--at least at the moment I do. I think it was Dunn's dismissive comments about the daily carnage that missed the mark--he actually wrote as if the whole thing were in the bag, and even Bush is not doing that, in fact he's very much on the defensive whether or not he's talking victory or not. I'm not even talking about 'human tragedy,' that's obvious to anyone, but rather what's unravelling in Iraq does not seem to something negligible, as Dunn seems to think, and everybody is seeing it.

To sum up, overviews are sometimes the thing to concentrate on and sometimes the on-the-ground facts are. I can appreciate what you're talking about, but it does seem like some sort of moment of reckoning is just around the corner, noticeable by the change in language over the past week. Normally, I don't fixate on specifics of Iraq, but I was truly amazed that the Green Zone was as it is--and it seemed like a metaphor for the wishful vision that purports to bring democracy, freedom, etc., but becomes a shrinking defensive island that is the one fragment that is turned into a fortress while there is a whole country raging around it.

Posted by: puff adder at March 24, 2006 06:13 AM



I don't know about all of the Vietnam part, but in the NYReview article, there was something about how reporting was possible, to go into the war zones and then come back 'for the evening.' As you see from this, Baghdad is a war zone at all times. That's a significant difference, and how much it affects what else is like Vietnam I am not sure of, except that it's a logical comparison to consider, even if it's proved wrong. Nevertheless, the specificity of the hell of Iraq was not something I had quite been aware of.

Posted by: puff adder at March 24, 2006 06:20 AM



puff adder - "it does seem like some sort of moment of reckoning is just around the corner" - well possibly, although I'm deeply agnostic about that since most of the military types actually dealing with the situation are a lot less alarmist than the commentariat at large. But even if this is true, and some kind of monumental sectarian blood-letting erupts, how is that a victory for Al Qaeda?
Do you remember Kissinger's remark on the Iran-Iraq war (forgotten where I heard it recently, in the Derbyshire piece?): "It's a shame they can't both lose." The US has problems with the Sunnis and the Shia in Iraq, as well as Al Qaeda, but it's not (at all) obvious how cranking up the communal carnage is going to help Zarqawi and the wider Jihadi objectives. Clearly the US will be positioned to tip things significantly in any Sunni/Shia fight if there's strategic significance in doing so, and clearly both the domestic antagonists (leaving out the Kurds, who are obviously our friends) should be able to see that - my guess being that this will inhibit them from pushing for an apocalyptic decision. Anyway, this is getting in further than is probably necessary, the only point really relevant at this stage is that all kinds of shit can happen without in any way confirming the MSM master-narrative about the overall meaning (that the US is an interfering imperialist power getting its nose bloodied). The Iraqis obviously have it in their power to prevent "the wishful vision that purports to bring democracy, freedom, etc." from being realized, which would tilt US strategy into a more brutal and self-interested mode, but unless a lot more US soldiers get killed there's no reason it should spell any kind of Jihadi victory or even throw the wider war off track.
When Dunn treats the situation as "if the whole thing were in the bag" it's because he sees the insurgency being crushed (the'civil war' meme being a post-insurgency storyline, as many have already noted), the Iraqi military taking over ever more of the fighting and security responsibilities, US losses trending clearly downwards and above all the basic fact of the matter: All Al Qaeda can do there is increasingly nihilistic terrorism, which might be tragic in all kinds of humanitiarian ways, but doesn't convert into a positive strategic resolution of the problem for them in any plausible projection.
The Iraqi state, however disappointing in certain respects, is now robust enough politically, militarily and economically to survive anything Al Qaeda + friends are going to be able to throw at it. Jihadi terrorists being killed by Iraqis and lashing out at Iraqi civilians in return is a disaster for AQ, and that is something that is only going to get worse for them. Rumsfeld might be annoyingly calm about all this, after all, people are getting killed in significant numbers, but in the large scheme of things he's right. There's simply no way history is going to judge this situation a calamity for American arms, American interests, or the prospects of the Free World in WWIV. If Bush is sounding more concerned, it's merely because Rove has whispered in his ear that the American public want him to 'feel their pain' and to come over less Olympian.

Posted by: Nick at March 24, 2006 07:25 AM



Think Dunn underestimates the generalized sanguinary craziness to be expected worldwide over the next few years however.

Posted by: Nick at March 24, 2006 08:33 AM



It may not be any kind of victory for Al Qaeda, but it is not destroying them either, if only because they are not limited to Iraq--as is all too obvious. It was a clunky and clumsy way to go about it. If beneficial things come from it, then beneficial things can be read into almost anything eventually (by somebody anyway.) I don't even care so much that it might be 'imperialist' but that it's not even shrewd. If this becomes the model, then all things that disturb the big powers would be solved by just going out and picking some slightly related place and making a big mess of it. It's no wonder one wants to take the 'long view' of what it means, because the 'short-term view' is not working--one either decides one cares about that or not.

However, not nearly all military people and not nearly all conservatives are ready to declare some Twilight Zone 'victory' in Iraq. Of course I know that Rove is gauging what will work with the speeches--but they are only working less badly than they could. I also know that the 'democracy' talk was purely political, because it started out with WMD. Your link of a few weeks back has yielded no results whatever. You can explain that away with some other emphasis, but there is clearly no proof that WMD existed or were hidden. That article would itself have been read by all MSM journalists, and would have been explored by some of them.

We probably differ in matters of optimism and pesssimism on these things. I don't get oxygen from pep talks, with stirring notions of 'the free world' and 'staying the course', but rather reports that a real unitary government has been formed for more than the usual 3-day victory before enormous blowings-up have occurred. In short, I just stay neutral and don't worry about it as I try to keep informed, since I'm not close to the action of any kind. But from all that is happening, I don't yet see any real reason for optimism, because if reality is to be managed, it needs to be done far more expertly. Just prolonging war indefinitely to produce a climate of fear is not a viable strategy for any world worth living in.

It's very possible Iraq is going to be like Vietnam in many ways, and even if you like the strategy, there is going to be no 'victory,' because the strategy is to prolong the war and extend it, not to 'win it.' That's old hat. Also, even if Rove prompts Bush, the 'appeasing things' Bush has been saying are true about the hideous facts on the ground. By the way, the New York Review of Books, even if not for you, is a journal with carefully thought out work, appearing bimonthly; it's not like one of the dailies. The top writers of the U.S. write there.

Posted by: puff adder at March 24, 2006 03:43 PM



The Economist

March 25, 2006
U.S. Edition
Murder is certain; Iraq

After three years of war, few reasons for optimism in Iraq

Three years after America invaded, Iraq is as violent as ever

AN AMERICAN marine spotted the bomb, in the semi-dark, 30 yards away. A small grey lump in the roadside, half-covered with brown dirt, it looked no different from the moraines of trash and detritus littering Ramadi, the capital of western Iraq's Anbar province—except that it had not been there ten minutes before. The Humvee jeep jolted to a halt, three marines sprang out and grabbed three youths sauntering away.

They possessed nothing suspicious—no mobile phone or radio transmitter rigged to trigger a blast—and were released. But quite possibly they had been trying to kill the marines and your correspondent. Or, at least, if they had not planted the bomb, a 122mm-artillery shell, they must have seen who had. Debating this, the marines took possession of a nearby house—to the alarm of its sleep-befuddled owners—and awaited bomb disposers. The flash and crashing boom of the controlled detonation that followed was not the last, or the biggest, explosion in Ramadi that night.

Three years after America and its few allies invaded Iraq, the incident illustrates one or two features of the war that continues there. America's 138,000 troops in Iraq, already adept and courageous conventional fighters, are much improved at fighting irregularly. This is a benefit of experience: half the marines in Ramadi, aged about 21 on average, are on their second six-month tour of Iraq, and some are on their third. It is also the result of improved tactics and technology. American snipers, hidden on rooftops above main intersections and other likely spots for roadside bombs, known as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), have killed scores of bombers in recent months. New jammers, fitted on to American vehicles, can counteract some remote triggers for IEDs, forcing bombers to revert to cruder and riskier devices, such as command-wires. The Americans now reckon that they foil about 40% of IEDs.

But that still leaves an awful lot of explosions. Indeed, despite the Americans' successes, the rate of IED attacks has remained fairly steady in recent months, at between 60 and 70 a month. And the insurgents have got better also, by using their own snipers, for example, and by planting bigger and deadlier bombs. Of 2,300 American troops killed in Iraq, roughly a third have been dispatched by IEDs. In the past year, over half were killed by IEDs, including 36 of the 55 American servicemen killed last month. Total insurgent attacks—on American and allied troops, Iraqi security forces (ISF) and civilians—have also stayed steady, at around 550 a week.

These figures conceal important variations. For most of the time in this conflict, the violence has been massively concentrated in four of Iraq's 18 provinces—Baghdad, Ninewa, Salaheddin and Anbar—where only 40% of Iraqis live. One reason is that these provinces are home to most of the country's Sunni Arab minority, many of whose tribes profited from Saddam Hussein's rule, and have resisted America's invasion and the Shia ascendancy it has instigated. Increased enthusiasm for Wahhabism, an extreme form of Sunni Islamism, in the latter years of Mr Hussein's rule, has given coherence and inspiration to this resistance. Even within these provinces, there are variations in the intensity and flavour of the conflict. But the bottom line is that, overall, Iraq is as violent now as at almost any time since the invasion.

This is despite the fact that over the past three years American and British troops have killed thousands of suspected insurgents. They have also detained more than 100,000 Iraqi men, most of them innocent, with only 15,000 still in custody. Such smash-and-grab tactics have clearly failed. "If you've applied the kinetics [Pentagon-speak for force] we've applied, and you still have a situation where attacks are up and there are so many bad guys, that's the best argument against applying kinetics," says Lieut-General Peter Chiarelli, the commander of coalition forces in Iraq. "For every one we pick off the streets, we're creating one to take his place."

That may be especially true when the people picked off are innocent. In each of the past three years, according to coalition sources, American troops have killed over 250 innocent people at vehicle checkpoints alone. Given that insurgents often use suicide car bombs, American troops are bound to be jumpy. Yet it is remarkable that coalition procedures for issuing warnings to oncoming vehicles, including flares and shots, were standardised only this month. Last month, for no easily comprehensible reason, American soldiers fired high-velocity shots into the windscreen and engine of a car carrying a Canadian diplomat—inside Baghdad's heavily fortified international zone. And this week American investigators arrived in Iraq to look into the allegedly deliberate killing last November of 15 Iraqi civilians in the western town of Haditha.

As the Americans tend not to report the civilians they kill, many are omitted from independent counts of Iraqi civilians killed in the conflict. Otherwise, by one estimate, the conflict has claimed between 34,000 and 38,000 people so far.

More happily, America is no longer trying to win in Iraq by military might alone. The strategy is now twofold: to train, by the end of 2007, Iraqi forces capable of waging the counter-insurgency campaign with little American support; and to create, by the end of 2009, effective civilian institutions under a democratic and representative government. On both fronts there has been progress, but it remains patchy.

The current batch of Iraqi soldiers and police began to be recruited only 18 months ago, after most of the previous lot ran away or joined the insurgency. In that short time, with inspired leadership and American logistics, an army of more than 100,000 soldiers has been trained and equipped. This is a great achievement. With varying degrees of success, the Iraqi Ministry of Defence is paying, feeding and supplying them; and by the end of this year, it is supposed to have full control of the army's promotions and recruitment. At its full complement, the army should have 130,000 men, arrayed in ten divisions, in control of most of Iraq.

When the numbers are set against the soldiers' actual performance, however, this plan looks either hugely ambitious or plainly fanciful. Iraqi troops are often ill-disciplined and accident-prone. The Americans seconded to them as mentors, ten at each battalion and brigade level, joke weakly that ISF stands for I Shot Foot—a painful eventuality witnessed in Ramadi by this correspondent. Asked to assess the first Iraqi tank battalion, one homebound American trainer blanched and muttered darkly. Your correspondent later observed this trainer's former charges rumbling through Baghdad, with one gunner atop communicating with his driver by firing a Kalashnikov rifle over his head.

Still, rough as it seems, this army is perhaps as good as Iraq can expect. The police, under the Ministry of Interior, are in a much worse state—and it is they who are expected eventually to quell the insurgency. So far, 123,000 have been trained and equipped (a total of 194,000 has been authorised). But they are of wildly mixed quality, with some of them barely trained. Worse, the best units, including several paramilitary brigades, have been infiltrated by various brutish Shia militias, and have launched reprisal attacks against Sunni civilians.

In November, American troops freed 123 famished Sunnis, some of whom had been tortured, from an interior-ministry basement in Baghdad. Coalition troops have also been attacked by the boys in blue, with several especially lethal IED attacks against British troops in Basra believed to be the work of rogue policemen there. In western Baghdad last month, shortly after the bombing of a sacred Shia shrine in Samarra, two American soldiers were sliced into pieces by an IED laid, during a curfew, within 50 yards of a police checkpoint.

In nearby Abu Ghraib, amid shady date palms and well-watered fields, a group of Sunni farmers claims that many of their relatives had been killed by Shia assassins within the police. Such tales are no doubt exaggerated. Yet, at a time of appalling sectarian tension, many Sunnis seem to believe them. The farmers said they would prefer to have the Shia-dominated army, or even American forces, in their area than the police. This anything-but-the-police preference should not be confused with America winning Iraqi hearts and minds.

The army's most capable soldiers may be from the Kurdish north, drawing on seasoned peshmerga militiamen. These troops—and occasionally peshmerga who are not in the army—have helped bring semi-control to parts of Ninewa, including the ethnically mixed capital, Mosul, and the radicalised Turkomen town of Tal Afar. But the most sophisticated Iraqi units are in Baghdad, half of which is, a bit more than nominally, controlled by four independent Iraqi brigades.

In western Baghdad, two of these brigades, comprising five battalions, are praised by their American mentors. The commander of one, Brigadier Jaleel Khalaf, describes his impressive response to the Samarra shrine-blast: he put guards outside mosques, brokered talks between religious leaders, and so on. His troops have improved security; though IEDs still riddle their area, they tend to be laid hastily and badly—a process American troops dismiss as "drop-and-pop".

Since the Iraqis took charge, the American brigade has pushed westward into a neglected rural area, Agar Guf. Sunni farmers there complained that the Americans had come with no money to fix roads destroyed by IEDs, and were too few to provide security. Agreeing, a young American lieutenant told them to protect themselves by keeping rifles to hand. "I don't understand why I keep finding your weapons hidden under your beds," he added.

Yet the farmers may not be bothered for long. The American brigade, totalling 4,000 troops, will leave Iraq at the end of this year. In its place will remain a few hundred American troops—trainers seconded to the two Iraqi brigades, and troops to protect and support the trainers. This is the coalition's withdrawal strategy. According to current plans, which could be revised, no more than 100,000 American forces should be in Iraq by the end of the year. In the south, the current force of 7,800 British troops should have been halved by then, and two desert provinces, Muthanna and Maysan, should be substantially Iraqi-run. Against a shifting insurgency, it is a risky strategy. The Iraqi troops in western Baghdad would not patrol so freely in Baghdad's violent southern approaches, which American troops barely control now. But even that wild area is serene compared with Ramadi.

Returning to Anbar's capital, a city of 400,000, after a year's interval, The Economist saw a great deal of violence and little to celebrate. American armoured vehicles slalom at breakneck speeds between sinisterly pot-holed roads. To try to reduce IEDs, a section of the city's main thoroughfare is closed to civilians, shops are boarded-up along it and buildings are derelict. At least the provincial government exists, unlike a year ago, but it hardly functions. On one afternoon of your correspondent's visit, its headquarters was attacked by a dozen insurgents with rockets and machineguns. They were eventually silenced by an American airstrike. Anbar's governor, Mamoun Rasheed, was philosophical about the conflict. "What you are seeing is the struggle between good and evil," he said. "It has existed since the beginning of time and it will never end."

Depressing as Ramadi is, it does at least have four Iraqi army battalions, although still no regular police. But even a dozen army battalions could not hope to quash the insurgency—as a night-patrol with an Iraqi company, along the northern shore of the Euphrates river, suggested. After ten months of American training and mentoring, the men of the 3rd battalion of the 1st brigade of the Iraqi 7th division are among the best Iraqi troops in Anbar. Under the haggard eye of a few American troops, their ragtag patrols have improved security in Ramadi's northern outskirt of Jazeera, even if many of the local insurgents have perhaps shifted to other neighbourhoods. The Iraqi soldiers, with their knowledge of Arabic and local customs, do seem more at ease in Ramadi than Americans—but only just. They are all Shia, from Baghdad and Basra, a fact bitterly resented by the inhabitants of Ramadi. Out of earshot of their American mentors, several of the Iraqi soldiers expressed the opinion that the Americans should quit Iraq at once, but added that they would quit the army if they did. Some said they believed that the Mahdi, a mythical figure who, it is prophesied, will lead Muslims to conquer the world before the day of judgment, had recently appeared in Iraq. Several identified him as Muqtada al-Sadr, a firebrand Shia cleric whose black-robed militiamen have killed many American and British troops.

Why is it so difficult to raise disciplined and determined Iraqi troops? Talk of the Mahdi, implying a hankering for leadership, offers a clue. During the invasion, Iraq's state collapsed. Three years on, after a clueless American military occupation and two incompetent and divisive Iraqi governments, it has not yet been rebuilt. Iraqis are more insecure than before the invasion. They also, despite $20 billion thrown at reconstruction projects, have fewer basic services, including power and clean water—Baghdad has 20% less power than a year ago. And where the insurgency rages, their streets are a nightmare of bomb-blasts and rubble. This has made them resentful and distrustful of America's schemes, including the creation of the ISF. Many Iraqis ask how it is that America, which could seize their country in two weeks, cannot turn their lights back on.

Dispassionate observers note that America never expected to have to do so. Its post-war plan, such as it was, was for Iraqis to sort such things out for themselves. Efforts to raise the ISF and do proper reconstruction are still mired in the mess created by the invaders' initial naivety. And still the occupation fails to match power with responsibility. In southern Iraq, for example, British troops are too few to impose control; but too many to convince Iraqis that they are not under foreign control. Each group expects leadership from the other, and meanwhile Basra's streets run with slurry.

America's preferred solution to this problem has been to hold elections to unite Iraqis behind a representative government of their own and against the insurgency. Yet, despite a high turnout across Iraq in December's elections, the violence is undiminished. One reason for this may be that Iraq is not in the throes of a single insurgency, but three distinct although often overlapping conflicts. One battle is for political power. This is drawn on sectarian and, at the local level, tribal lines, and has been stirred by the scramble for power and resources that the elections represent. As elsewhere in the Muslim world, when Iraq's state collapsed, religious and tribal entities filled the void. Among the well-organised Shia majority, Shia militias, including Mr Sadr's, have thrived. In two elections and a referendum last year, Iraqis voted along increasingly sectarian lines, in effect giving power to Shia militia leaders, and, to a much lesser degree, to Sunni politicians linked to the insurgency. Unsurprisingly, then, democracy in Iraq is not peaceful. Shia militias linked to senior ministers were involved in the surge of sectarian killing that followed the recent desecration in Samarra. This bloodshed will not stop till the militias are disarmed.

Iraq's two other conflicts are even more tightly interwoven. The first features disgruntled Sunnis, including many security officials of the old regime, who are fighting foreign occupation and a Shia government, in a vain bid to restore their minority to power. The second fight is that of jihadists aiming to create an Islamist state. Most are Iraqis, with a minority of foreigners among them, including the Jordanian terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Both these conflicts have been slightly damped down by American military action in recent months. A series of aggressive American operations along the western Euphrates valley late last year, from Ramadi to Qaim, near the border with Syria, has imposed fragile control on several rebellious towns. In the process, Mr Zarqawi's and other extremist groups appear, however temporarily, to have been weakened; they seem less able, for example, to import wide-eyed foreign suicide bombers through Syria.

Cheered by this, American officials claim that many Sunnis have also quit the insurgency since the election, in which they turned out in numbers and won many seats. Americans note the unprecedented recent recruitment of 1,000 Ramadians into the police. This may not indicate much change of heart. One teenage recruit, Leoay Ibrahim, says simply that he needs the police wage of $250 a month. But he also says that most of his male relatives have been detained as insurgents by American troops. Election day in Ramadi saw not a single attack, yet the city has returned to violent resistance. Many voters are clearly keeping their options open.

In the meantime, the violence will continue. It would help if a broad-based government were formed. Hopes of this were raised this week, after Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme spiritual leader of Iran, which holds great sway with Shia parties in Iraq, agreed to discuss the situation there with America. But no Iraqi government could end the violence soon: the country contains too many unsettled scores and too many angry people.

Neither success nor failure is certain, but any improvement will be slow. On a toilet-wall in an American airbase in western Iraq, an American soldier has scrawled his own summary analysis: "We came, we saw, we wasted a year of our lives. At least we got the fuckers to vote."

Posted by: traxus4420 at March 24, 2006 05:03 PM



No time to comment on this now, but another thing our 'american thinker' downplays in his admittedly exciting narrative is the diversity of his villains -- sort of all get lumped together under zarqawi, who has claimed leadership, but opportunism is not loyalty --

Posted by: traxus4420 at March 24, 2006 05:09 PM



i disagree with Dunn's overall analysis (hope he's better at sci-fi). gust of sober realism? in actuality, US presence in Iraq equals a military occupation with a city writhing with hatred. what's the real vision of the future of AQ's evolving cell designs engineering stateless societies? if Bush & Bin Laden both obviously petropolitical puppets, isn't it a race about who reaches hydrogen nanofusion first? that's a digital convergence race of destiny & number; a slow vortex coiling to the outside hooking into cybernetic anomalies.

Posted by: northanger at March 24, 2006 08:47 PM



With Iraq, most of what you read, see or hear has to be digested with a pinch of salt (or many). Obviously the most reliable sources (pro or con) are those who have actually been there for extended periods and got out of the media-safe zones.

Here are some excerpts from one such non-MSM source - typically condescending in places, but I find the aid angle particularly interesting:

The Coming Normalcy?, Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic April 2006

"When the 1-25 "Lancers” arrived in Mosul, in September of 2004, the city and its environs were a violent no-go zone, having seen several thousand insurgent attacks, not to mention more than a thousand explosions from improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. The local police had largely deserted, dropping from an on-paper force of 10,000 to an irrelevance of 300. But by the time 1-25 left Mosul, a year later, mortar attacks alone had fallen from 300 a month to fewer than ten. Other forms of insurgent activity dropped to the point where international journalists no longer considered Mosul an important part of the ongoing Iraq story—a fact evidenced by their thin presence in the city. Meanwhile, the local police force was now back up to 9,000, and the number of police stations had expanded from five to twenty-four. More important, the number of intelligence tips called in by the local population had risen from essentially zero to some 400 per month.

The kind of chaos that 1-25 had alleviated in Mosul has been an abiding interest of mine. Twelve years ago in this magazine, I published an article, "The Coming Anarchy,” about the institutional collapse of Third World countries owing to ethnic and sectarian rivalries, demographic and environmental stresses, and the growing interrelationship between war and crime. Was it possible that Iraq, of all places, might offer some new ideas about how situations of widespread anarchy can be combated? It certainly was the case that, despite a continuing plague of suicide bombings, significant sections of the country were slowly recovering from large-scale violence, as well as from the effects of decades of brutal dictatorship. The very U.S. military that had helped to bring about the anarchy in Iraq was now worth studying as a way to end it, both here and elsewhere in the Third World.
One evening in March of 2005, a captain acting on a tip from an Iraqi source—and seeking no permission from above—carried out six raids in Mosul over a few hours, netting fourteen out of twenty members of an insurgent cell, plus large numbers of weapons and several vehicles. In August, a tip that the insurgent leader Abu Zubayr was planning to assassinate a local police chief led a company captain to develop a plan to trap Abu Zubayr by using the tipster as bait. The captain had Abu Zubayr's movements tracked by means of an unmanned surveillance plane. Abu Zubayr was cornered and killed, along with two other key area insurgents.

In these very early stages, at least, ending anarchy is about, well, ending anarchy. A nation-state must monopolize the use of force. In Iraq, that means killing some people and apprehending others. "You're dealing with a gang mentality,” explained Captain Phillip Mann of Antioch, California, a thirty-two-year-old intelligence officer and graduate of Fresno State University. "There is a pool of young men in Mosul without jobs who sell drugs, and do kidnappings. With a high inflation rate and little economy, being an insurgent pays. You've got to make the insurgency a very unattractive profession to these people, who are not motivated by religious ideology.” One thing they sell is pornography, which is found by the new Stryker brigade in Mosul whenever insurgent hideouts are overrun. "We've adopted a gang-tackle approach,” Mann went on. "If we get shot at, like in Palestine [a retirement community for former regime generals in southeast Mosul, which supported the insurgents], we surround the area and go house to house, every time. We keep doing this till people get tired and start helping us. Our message: ‘We don't give in—we're not going away, so work with us.'

"It's a matter of suppression,” he continued. "You do kinetic ops [that is, combat operations] until you find that magical balance—an acceptable level of violence that allows you to shift resources to nation-building. Don't overdo the killing of bad guys. Ending the violence completely is a foolish goal, without development.”
Another lesson of the meeting was that when you squash a network, you rarely kill it: elements of it disperse and are able to regroup at a lower level of activity. Progress rarely meant complete victory, but rather moderate suppression.
When an infantryman on patrol encountered Iraqi civilians, the best thing he could do was take off his sunglasses and his helmet too, if possible, look people directly in the eye, give them a lot of deference (especially if they were older), ask them for advice, here and there interject an opinion so as to actively engage them, and plead his case without trying to lecture. That was the only way to build trust among a population that was taught for centuries how to be subjects rather than citizens.

But it is simply impossible for the soldiers to be wholly liked. There is no nice way to barge into people's houses, bristling with weapons, stomping your dusty boots on their Oriental rugs, and expect it to be a pleasant experience for them, even if you hand out candy to their kids and replace a lock you had to break with a new one. On most such occasions, only a woman and her children were present. The soldiers would find an assault weapon that had recently been fired and its magazine of 7.62mm bullets half empty: very suspicious. Did the woman know anything about it? No, she would tell the Americans, peering out below her kerchief, staring past them at the wall.

Great numbers of such seemingly ineffectual searches did work, to the extent that they kept terrorists on the run (or at least inconvenienced), forcing the insurgents to hide their guns and bomb-making paraphernalia outside their homes. But it was an inefficient way to make progress, and it bred hostility. If this keeps up, I thought, the Americans will end up being as hated in Iraq as the Israelis are in the West Bank. But it will be worse for the Americans, because they will be hated even as they are not feared.

The U.S. military was attempting to plug a dike holding back an ocean of potential unrest, and was deeply handicapped by the fact that it had no visible large-scale public-works projects to soak up crime and mass unemployment. Only such projects could show Sunni Arabs—politically weaker than ever in Iraq—the tangible benefits of democracy. Indeed, as I went out on at least one patrol a day for three weeks, riding air guard, my upper body sticking out of the top of the Stryker, the typical scenery was of bullet-marked and half-finished buildings, gray and rust-colored, a shot-to-hell cityscape in which every object—sign, streetlight, telephone pole—was bent or broken. Garbage filled every available lot. The only bustling commerce I saw, in the markets near the old city, was of the subsistence kind that does not create employment.
Many of the detainees that had lately been released from Abu Ghraib were known to be hardened criminals from the Mosul area, and the release had undermined the credibility of American troops here. Turner replied that the decision was one taken by Iraq's own new government. The former mukhtar wasn't convinced. For Iraqis meeting with Americans in Mosul, the name "Abu Ghraib” had a different connotation than it did in the United States. Here it meant not brutality but American weakness and lack of resolve.
At Om al-Mahir, on a patch of grass amid faded oleanders, a few American soldiers and a large crowd of tribal elders and young men and boys sprawled over Oriental rugs for what the troops called a "goat grab”—grilled meat on a bed of unleavened bread, a meal that you ate with your hands. Iraqi soldiers stood watch along the perimeter and Iraqi General Ali Attalah Malloh al-Jabouri, the commander of one of the battalions under 4-11's tutelage, spoke to the gathering. The Americans had left their helmets and body armor in their Humvees a few hundred yards away, and their weapons against a wall, entrusting their safety to the Iraqi soldiers.

"The hands of men who are without work will end up cooperating with the devil,” said General Ali, addressing the Americans and Captain Ferguson in particular. He followed with details of this young man and that one who were unemployed, and who had drifted north to Mosul to take part in the insurgency. He was working up to a familiar theme.
"Where is the investment money, now that our area has been safe for months?” The American soldiers had no answer. They were as frustrated as the Iraqis. Even the safe areas showed no sign of civilian relief work or major rebuilding other than what I had seen en route. The soldiers admitted that while they had the money to lay gravel on a particular road, they lacked the funds to pave it, even though all agreed that graveled roads offered easy concealment for IEDs.

It was surreal. The stability of Iraq will likely determine history's judgment on President George W. Bush. And yet even in a newly secured area like this one, the administration has provided little money for the one factor essential to that stability: jobs. On a landscape flattened by anarchy in 2004, the American military has constructed a house of cards. Fortifying this fragile structure with wood and cement now will require more aid—in massive amounts, and of a type that even America's increasingly civil affairs–oriented military cannot provide. This house of cards, flimsy as it is, constitutes a substantial achievement. But because Washington's deeds do not match its rhetoric, even this fragile achievement might go for naught.
The Americans sought genuinely to transfer power and responsibility to the Iraqis. But history has taught the Iraqis to think of power not in any formal or legalistic sense but crudely, in terms of who actually wields the authority to help and the power to punish severely.

Yet the American military might still do more, I thought. For example, I hadn't noticed the Army carrying out a Medical Civic Action Program for the local population, as I had seen it do in Mongolia, the Philippines, Kenya, Djibouti, and other places. No activity develops relationships (and hence intelligence assets) like treating people for disease and illness.
Ultimately, one could anticipate a colonial-type situation that would never be referred to as such by name, in which maybe 10,000 American troops remained in Iraq, embedded in various ministries and throughout the military and police, propping up the security structure behind the scenes. It would be much like the arrangement in the Philippines in the early twentieth century, after the American invasion and our protracted counterinsurgency campaign there. Today, if you were to visit any number of places in the Balkans or the Caucasus, you would find quite a few American military officers working in this and that defense ministry or army unit, all very low-key, so that it never becomes a political issue. Iraq could one day become a much larger version of that principle. But things are not close to that point yet.
In decades ahead, cities like Mosul and Aleppo would be oriented, as they were in the past, as much toward each other and toward cities in Turkey and Iran as toward their respective capitals of Baghdad and Damascus. Borders would obviously matter less, as old caravan routes flourished in different form. Something comparable has already begun in the Balkans, a far more developed part of the Ottoman Empire than Mesopotamia. In Mesopotamia, this transition would be longer, costlier, and messier. We are in for a very long haul. Except for the collapse of Turkey's empire, the creation of the state of Israel, and the Iranian revolution, nothing and nobody in a century has so jolted the Middle East as has George W. Bush.

Posted by: sd at March 24, 2006 10:13 PM



Veterans' Voices On Iraq

"But it was not bad in the ways they see covered in the media -- the majority also agreed on this. What they experienced was more complex than the war they saw on television and in print. It was dangerous and confused, yes, but most of the vets also recalled enemies routed, buildings built and children befriended, against long odds in a poor and demoralized country. "We feel like we're doing something, and then we look at the news and you feel like you're getting bashed." "It seems to me the media had a predetermined script." The vibe of the coverage is just "so, so, so negative.""

Posted by: sd at March 25, 2006 10:06 AM



sd - well it's good to see the wapo passing that on. The relation of the media to what VD Hanson calls 'postmodern war' is an extremely interesting topic, but hard to discuss in a disinterested way. Kaplan's very informative on the topic as you know. One thing is that the military and the media have basically polarized along partisan lines - of course there's Fox and there're some Dems in uniform, but they're the exceptions to a very clear pattern. Even when deliberate bias isn't the issue (which, of course, it very often is) the simple lack of understanding is a massively distorting factor.

Posted by: Nick at March 25, 2006 01:12 PM



[apologies for 'of course' tic, it's getting late ...]

Posted by: Nick at March 25, 2006 01:13 PM



like what nick said elsewhere about making a "gripping movie" & new york's what makes "a horror tale more powerful". it's a failure of the imagination when "Noble Cause" sentimentalized & not transformed into an integral carrier of The Bush Doctrine. it's not made subordinate to the imagination. are confused soldiers & "predetermined scripts" indicative of narrative failures? failures to subordinate The Fantastic Imagination to a gripping story? who's supposed to be telling this story anyway?

Linda Trent's first post here about two key hyperstitional components: 1) collectivization of the fictional system & 2) practical deployment of the fictional system. similar to Robert Price defining Cthulhu Mythos: 1) Lovecraft Mythos proper with individual myth-cycles (Smith, Howard, Bloch &tc) & 2) August Derleth Mythos cross-pollinating & meshing all myth-cycles together.

is there a War on Terror Mythos? are there times when we DO NOT want fictions becoming hyperstitions? when do we want them to? n+1 critiques China Miéville's "New Crobuzon" novels, contrasting Jennifer Howard's review of "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" & its failure to get jiggy with the fantastical.

Fantasy Remade (n+1) -
Fantasy is conservative to the extent that it does what Howard wants it to do, by becoming a kind of storytelling that is disconnected from politics. The fantastic imagination – i.e., the capacity to imagine places where the rules work differently than they do here and now – can help to puncture the spurious sense of permanence on which everyday politics rely, the sense that the way things are now is the way they inevitably must be. The fantastic imagination shows that our guiding principles and power arrangements can be different, and perhaps that they *should* be different. But if genre fantasy does what Howard says she wants it to do, by creating a hiding place far from the complexities of politics, then it becomes what its critics have always claimed it is – an exercise in escapism.

The Uses of Fantasy (Howard) -
When the news strays so far from the familiar moral contours of the struggle between Good and Evil, it’s tempting to lose ourselves in stories in which this battle is fought in clear terms and on an epic scale. Good over here, Evil over there—call it the Lord of the Rings model, in which heroes may be flawed but are always recognizably heroes, and their enemies want nothing less than to stamp out (as one of the good guys puts it in Peter Jackson’s recent film adaptation) “all that’s green and good in this world.”
There was a time when one could turn to fantasy, if not for escape, then for a working-out, a cathartic reimagining, of the world’s crises. "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" takes epic fantasy down a road that leads away from large moral conflict and instead doubles back on itself and the reader.

fundamental Hollywood 101 says if it bombs over here at least let it sell overseas. doesn't that define The Bush Doctrine in a nutshell? kinda harsh, but there's nothing "gripping" about it. the number one movie at the global box office remains 9/11; a foreign production usually nominated for Oscar's Best Foreign Language Film. top-grossing films come from Hollywood; "Titanic" currently number one at $1,845,034,188. "The Sound of Music" (1965) box office #1 (knocking off "Gone With the Wind" released in 1939; returned to #1 after 1970 re-release) until Jaws released in 1975. amazingly, "Gone With the Wind", adjusted for inflation, still remains #1. 1939 peaks Hollywood's golden years with its most memorable films. 9/11 knocked all of that out of the ballpark. on one day.

How Do Fictions Become Hyperstitions? -
If Lovecraft remains the archetype of a hyperstitional practitioner, it is because his fictions have long since escaped their putative author. A work has crossed over into hyperstition when it has become impossible to treat it as the product of a single author’s imagination. The author can no longer be considered the final authority upon the work attributed to him. Thus the question, posed in all seriousness by a devotee: Why does Lovecfraft persist in the pretence that he invented the Necronomicon?

my favorite movie quote from "Grand Canyon"; Davis, the Hollywood producer of violent action thrillers: "That's part of your problem: you haven't seen enough movies. All of life's riddles are answered in the movies." Jimmy Breslin's "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight" googled in 1997 pops Newt Gingrich & Republican House leadership; google today & you get:,,2092-2092151,00.html
Although it hurts me to differ with the Pet Shop Boys, Bush is not stupid. But his administration is reeling from one mishap to another. So let me proffer another explanation for the sometimes comically inept gang that cannot shoot straight, unless it’s at an elderly lawyer mistaken for a duck. They’re tired. Not just tired, actually, but exhausted. They can barely keep their eyes open. They’re sleepwalking through their second term. And you cannot really blame them.

predetermined script? at its core, the War on Terror Mythos is a horror story (9/11). do we want this fiction becoming real? New York nails it:

"my point is really just that a horror tale is far more powerful if there is the possibility that good might prevail against evil, but that it should ultimately fail to do so, because the horror lingers in a much more powerful way with the viewer if the essential evil is still potent at the end. You walk out of the theater and don't get relief, at least for awhile, because didn't care about reassuring you against Vile Bodies and Babies (as in Rosemary's), instead of providing Baubles, Bangles and Beads. That's why the escape of the Shelley Duvall character and son in the film of 'The Shining' but leaving the sinister house still functioning without a single witness to back them up; and preserving the Vampire Status Quo and/or Ancien Regime in the novel of 'The Hunger' are so much more powerful than their sell-out counterparts. I'm not talking about real life, just that horror fictions are useless unless the horror prevails at least in some works."

there's no relief from the 9/11 horror story. we may need a well-told heroic epic. making sure not to skip the Fellowship of the Ring part & going directly to Return of the King. Miéville, the Marxist, a Lenin's Tomb poster; i'll throw Long Sunday's 3-part interview in tangents .... think this one of n+1's key points about his work:

"Iron Council" gives us the necessary clues to figure out what Miéville is up to. He’s Remaking genre fantasy, not as an art-form that is entirely subordinate to given power relationships, nor as a means of escape from them, but as a specifically *political* act of imagination. He’s arguing that stories, if they’re understood rightly, can allow us to reinterpret our circumstances and think through how to change them. Fantasy is important because it’s potentially political in the most profound sense — it can choose neither to reaffirm politics as they exist today nor to hide from them, but to challenge them. In "Iron Council", fantasy can even create a radical break in history, revealing new possibilities of political action.
"When tactical lines reach a terminal multiplicity, the emergence of strategy as an autonomous entity and hyperstition carrier is inevitable."

Posted by: northanger at March 25, 2006 01:25 PM



[urm, inadvertantly posted this twice, crossing fingers nobody'll find it]

Posted by: northanger at March 25, 2006 01:31 PM



northanger-'do we want this fiction becoming real?'

Yes. We don't, or rather I don't. But that seems to be the way it's being directed until recently, when the heady fiction and buzz started showing themselves as thoroughly separated from the reality. New fictions are then formed by conflicting media, and you have only to hope that you can distinguish a fact here or there or not.

However, I think this tendency was already very much in evidence well before 9/11, which has then been used cynically to produce fictions well beyond what it was and is itself. I don't find these new fictions exciting, because I fail to find bumbling messes to be the sharp and precise things their architects claim them to be. Of course, there will be the maudlin types that can be recruited here and there to get tearful about 'God and country' even at this point at which the Baghdad Green Zone is used as the model for The Good Life (the tearful ones have to go back home to regular housing, but sometimes the POTUS will 'tear up' with 'em 'cause he's 'a feeling guy.' The Universe of Green Zones is for Gonzales, Alito, and the POTUS--letting Helen Thomas getting in a word edgewise is for having one audience that didn't seem pre-digested. Then one goes back to pre-digestion of audiences.)

Posted by: puff adder at March 25, 2006 04:10 PM



check this:

Posted by: sd at March 25, 2006 05:54 PM




Posted by: northanger at March 25, 2006 08:34 PM



anybody. what's the difference between a fiction & a hyperstition?

puffy. WoT would work for you (among other things) if it wasn't "separated from the reality"? what is it exactly that separates WoT from reality? btw, can you think of, and hopefully paste here, an excerpt from your book (Day of Ciné-Musique) that might provide some clues to the current topic?

Posted by: northanger at March 25, 2006 08:49 PM



WoT does work in part from me, but anything 'separated from reality' as I see it doesn't work. No matter, it's not stopping anybody. In fact, on SD's new post, there are those games like World of War where you can totally sweatshop out and wonder why your checks bounced when you check into rehab.

I can't think of anything in my book to put up here. However, email me and I'll send you a copy of the actual book (I'd be more than happy to as you'd do a sensitive reading, so don't be shy). In fact, that's the single gesture that explains it--the real goddam hardcore book. Otherwise, Robin, wrote about it superbly in 'What is Cine-Musique' in both Irrational Numbers and London Belongs to Me,' where you might find something of what you mean (you see, I'm not really sure how anything in the book applies except the way I keep the cine-musique going by stringing a lot of cine-motifs throughout many of the conversations).

Posted by: puff adder at March 25, 2006 08:57 PM



northanger--okay, I didn't answer first question, but I think I am usually alluding to what I think about this. the way WoT is being executed is described in words that talk about something completely different from what is obviously happening on the ground. There's a good reason for this: What's going on on the ground is not something anybody finds desirable unless they are into the scene, either for bucks or buzz. Buzz has nothing to do with 9/11, it has to do with things like how rough Hillary got 112 million smackers for diagnosis and treatment for site workers lung ailments--dull things like that that people know less about than they do about Ms. Spears's last 2 marriages. I am not sure what you're asking, my position is quite common, and Kerry made it clear by the time of the debates: Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 (unless some kind of fantasy thinking allows one to include all repressive regimes, and we just pick out one by one all those we don't like and take them out) and the WoT started supposedly because of the 9/11 attacks. BushCo didn't care all that much about 9/11 since the White House and the Capitol didn't get the Pennsylvania plane up the rear end, so they'd wanted to do Iraq for some time. They were careful about what 'intelligence' they needed to justify attacking Iraq. You know all this. Nick thinks it's a global thing we've got to do against radical Islam. I might be more convinced if horse's asses hadn't picked out the mideast country least radical Islamist (they are that now if the Shiites keep power--either that or we get Civil War; so that Iran can have a nice new ally instead of an enemy like Hussein) as a means to start their soul-stirring project.

Admittedly, now that I know about the fantastic weirdness of the Green Zone, we've got a Work of Art on our hands now, and J.G. Ballard must be loving the stuff about the swimming pools and the authentic Upper-Class Baghdad Trinket Stores.

My next book may have more in it along these lines, but it's just in notes stage right now. I've got to keep my opportunistic fingers in a bunch of boring pies now, so I can have somebody to publish it when the time comes.

Posted by: puff adder at March 25, 2006 09:12 PM



northanger--also, even Paul Bremer, who benefited hugely in terms of $$$$$$, says that there weren't enough troops to do the job. So even if you're for that particularly job, getting Iraq for oil or whatever, you should either do it or get off the pot. God knows Bremer is one of them, even if he needs to sell books for personal corporate welfare by now. Interesting that the administration is cheap about even its own projects, so that you end up with a trillion dollar, just a couple of years after people got fired for saying it would cost a whopping $200 billion. other thing that then occurs to me, I've mentioned a couple of times, is there's no intention to 'win the war', and may never have been, but rather to prolong states of war indefinitely.

This is not selling well to the public at all.

Posted by: puff adder at March 25, 2006 10:53 PM



Lot's of great stuff here - think northanger in particular has moved the discussion on by a key notch, but first, just on puff adder's last (troop numbers) - Do you really think there's anti-admin consensus on this? Seems to me the 'more troops' crowd is perfectly balanced by the 'less troops' crowd (who also include many key Dems). Sticking 400,000 US troops into Iraq would have:
1) Made a lot more targets (in the logistics train etc), + more accidents and general friction = more dead americans
2) Made it obvious that america is indeed a 'paper tiger' incapable of doing anything without a 150% military commitment, thus 'Somalia' effect
3) Really screwed the pooch on the home front, and for a lot of people that would have been the whole point (like the draft nonsense)
4) Radically cut back america's future options in the war, because if this needed 400,000 troops then really america isn't set up to do anything very much (again, key motvation for and associated crypto-pacifists / 'on-the-other-siders)
5) It would have made the new Iraqi state into a geopolitical welfare queen, without any incentive to defend its own security. More whining, more 'insurgents', less arabs killing terrorists.

Rumsfeld knew and knows that America simply has to learn to do this kind of (kicking down crazy states) stuff with relatively modest levels of commitment, or it won't be able to prosecute the wider conflict at all. IMHO, it's going (not fantastic but) OK. The only other option (and the 'more troops for Iraq' line is really a version of this) is to say america just can't cope. I don't believe that, and I REALLY don't like the people who want it to be true.

Posted by: Nick at March 25, 2006 11:43 PM



"... the people who ..." i.e. the Terrorist-Media Complex

Posted by: Nick at March 26, 2006 12:10 AM



On the hyperstitional aspect: Evidently there are powerful forces of the self-fulfilling prophecy type at work, with both sides trying to exploit them quite deliberately. On the other hand - and this is something that I think we need to tackle very generally - reality cuts across these dynamics at jagged diagonals.
For instance, with Saddam's papers being slowly made public it's clear that he was completely hoodwinked by the (Western) MSM into thinking he was winning and that the coalition was in a quagmire. This is actually quite hilarious - Saddam, listening to CNN and reading the NYT believes their anti-Bush propaganda and thus doesn't burn his oilfields or flood the country etc -

Maybe nurturing a bunch of lying vipers at the breast of the Free World actually has some positive spin-offs


Posted by: Nick at March 26, 2006 12:56 AM




Right. I could have hardly desired any more fully fleshed out report! Yum Yum.

So what of the 'Mission Accomplished' moment? Was this just to show off the latest politically fashionable behaviour? Or did your guys actually think they'd won the war, and that it had been relatively painless?

It is obvious they thought it had worked out as relatively painless. That's why they thought that sending not enough troops had been successful--because it seemed just so at that moment in 2003. Either they secretly wanted to continue the war indefinitely with far more casualties on both sides (faits accomplis) or sending enough troops would have meant that they really could have gained control. I rather doubt they were concerned with possibilities of sending in enough troops (not a partisan question at all, of course) to secure the situation was a questionable stance given it would produce a Welfare Queen.

On the Art Front, however, this image works perfectly with the grotesque gorgeousness of the Green Zone--which is itself the most superb of Welfare Queens I have nearly ever seen.

Move over, Ground Zero (it did long ago, but was a Hot and Trendy spot full of Elizabeth Taylor, Jack Nicholson, and other million-dollar donors for about one year.)

The Green Zone is definitely THE place to be. It is so hot that you can't even get in if you're the president except once in a whole term, in which you get to bless a primped Thanksgiving Turkey, as if straight from Nancy Reagan’s famous china (not known to be until later, perhaps an echo of 'Mission Accomplished'). Apart from everything else, this White House just has such CLASS!

Damned if I wouldn’t like to spend a week in the Green Zone if I could be sure the AC would work.

AQ=='Maybe nurturing a bunch of lying vipers at the breast of the Free World actually has some positive spin-offs'=nurturing a bunch of Al Qaeda in Baghdad by doing a war where the bunch was NOT till the war gave them some new projects. Now the joint is riddled with them.

However, I am not trying to convince you of a thing, just being civilized.

Posted by: puff adder at March 26, 2006 02:29 AM



Northanger--don't think I was intruding into your territory with bad attempt to do an AQ gematria, but didn't want to go too far into learned helplessness. Why, I don't even know if if stands for Al Qaeda of algorithmic quotient, honey. But I do know they are not equal in a lot of other ways (in my favour, of course.)

Posted by: new york dumb blonde type at March 26, 2006 03:14 AM



Nevermind that he's been in Baghdad the last 2 weeks. He's NYTimes, a lying viper from the Terrorist-Media Complex ('you're either for us or against us', as they say), and probably much more of a Welfare Queen than Dunn, although he probably can't get deodorant or toothpaste. It is definitely the separated-off unreality club that knows that the war is won if you go in, start up a lotta bad stuff, and then the baddies just kill each other and slightly fewer American soldiers. Good job, guys.

March 26, 2006
Redirecting Bullets in Baghdad
I GOT back to Iraq two weeks ago, having been away more than a year. The first story I covered began with a tip that vigilantes had hanged four suspected terrorists from lamp posts in Sadr City, a Shiite slum. The minute I got to the scene, I realized I was stepping into a new Iraq. Another new Iraq, really; maybe even the third Iraq I have seen since I began reporting here in 2003.
Gone were the American tanks that used to guard the intersections. Instead, aggressive teenagers with machine guns and shiny soccer jerseys ruled the streets. They poked their heads into cars and detained whomever they wanted. There were even 8-year-olds running checkpoints, some toting toy pistols, others toting real ones. Whatever they carried, 4-foot-tall militias made me nervous. The streets now had a truly Liberian feel.
The episode was oddly symmetrical with a moment in 2004 when mobs in Falluja swarmed four American contractors and hung the bodies from a bridge. But there were a few big differences. For one, this wasn't Falluja, angry heart of the insurgency. This was Baghdad. And these weren't Americans dangling from rope. They were Sunni Arab Iraqis.
I had thought Iraq might be getting quieter. Fewer mortars were sailing into the Green Zone, where the Americans are based, and fewer suicide bombings were disrupting the morning rush. Even the airport road, the most dreaded strip of asphalt in the world, was doing better. It had been repaved and was flowing with traffic.
But soon I caught on. The violence had not declined. It had just turned inward. No longer was most of it pointed at the Americans, either directly or indirectly, as it had been during the invasion and when the insurgency exploded in 2004. Back then, if G.I.'s were not the targets, their helpers were — the Iraqi police, regional governors, Kurdish leaders, foreign civilians, anyone remotely connected to the "occupiers."
It's true that American soldiers are still dying, but the focus of the bloodshed has changed.
The day after that mob scene in Sadr City, bodies started showing up, first a couple and then dozens. By conservative counts, nearly 200 civilian men have been executed in the past two weeks and dumped on Baghdad's streets. Many have been hogtied. Some have had acid splashed on their faces. Others have been found without toes, fingers, eyes.
Granted, Baghdad is no stranger to the corpse. There were assassinations two years ago, when an entire intellectual class was being wiped out.
But this new wave of executions was different. It was more sadistic and less selective. These people weren't rounded up because they were important. They were tortured and killed simply because of their religion. And because most of them were Sunni Muslim Arabs, there was no response from the Shiite-led government.
Mass murder used to provoke some form of official reaction, however feeble. I remember seeing the Iraqi police seal off areas after big bomb attacks and poke around for evidence. Now, there are major crimes with no crime scenes. Very few of these mystery killings have been investigated, and it isn't for lack of witnesses. Many of these men were abducted in daylight, in public, in front of crowds.
Not enough can be said about the attack on a Shiite shrine in Samarra last month. That explosion opened a cycle of revenge that seems to have split modern Iraqi history. There is before Samarra and after. Before Samarra, many Iraqis tried to play down Sunni-Shiite tensions. Since Samarra, they live in mortal fear of them.
If this all sounds depressing, it is. That's how people here feel. I've been looking hard, but in two weeks I haven't found an Iraqi optimist. In the summer of 2004, I profiled a band of young artists who braved dangerous roads to get away from Baghdad and paint pretty pictures of the Tigris River. Now, they're homebound. There is a similar sense of newfound hopelessness in the faces of the Iraqis I work with.
"What is the style of death?" is the No. 1 question in our bureau, now that all these bodies have turned up.
Of course, the old insurgency hasn't abated. Last week, 200 masked insurgents besieged a jail, killing more than a dozen guards and springing their comrades. A few days ago, one of our translator's uncles was killed when a box of sweets blew up in a tea shop. It seems as if half of our staff has had family murdered.
It is difficult to communicate just how violent Baghdad has become. A DVD was recently circulated in markets showing an imam being dragged behind a pickup truck. There was also a home video of a family of four, including a 10-day-old girl, all of them wrapped in plastic in the morgue.
Everyone has guns. We interviewed an educated woman who rides the bus with a loaded Glock pistol in her lap.
This is not to say life has ground to a halt. Stores are open, though the curfew has cut into business. Children go to school. The other day a mortar shell flew over a swing set and the children kept on swinging, even as a cloud of dust rose behind them.
I recently met a Sunni man who used to be virulently anti-American. He showed me postmortem pictures of his younger brother, who had been kidnapped by death squads and had holes drilled in his face.
"Even the Americans wouldn't do this," he said.

Posted by: puff adder at March 26, 2006 05:10 AM



The guys who never go to Baghdad know much more of what is really going on there than anybody who goes in and sweats it out. That's today's Orwellian-think atmosphere all ovah da place.

Now isn't that just one rosy scenario fo' da free world?

God bless Amurrrrica...

Posted by: puff adder at March 26, 2006 05:14 AM



puff adder - there's a lot of information coming out of Iraq, what you choose to listen to or emphasize is the issue. I trust soldiers more than the media, but that's just me.

AQ stands for Alphanumeric Qabbala - resonance with an international jihadi organization is purely 'coincidental'

Posted by: Nick at March 26, 2006 05:34 AM



puffy. "the way WoT is being executed is described in words that talk about something completely different from what is obviously happening on the ground."

nick. "there's a lot of information coming out of Iraq, what you choose to listen to or emphasize is the issue".

a problem with the facts on the ground. should what happens next in the long war deal with this reality consensus gap?

Posted by: northanger at March 26, 2006 09:32 AM



Hi; Nick the three part article is a valuable one. I agree its value resides in the fact that it “side-steps the now entirely deadlocked partisan argument about Iraq to ask how things look from the Jihadi PoV.” In this respect, Dunn says the Jihadis face a serious dilemma, since the bomb is losing its effectiveness - but do they really want a global caliphate? And is there really any evidence that they have political interests? If not, then it doesn't seem clear that taking the political route would be something they would even entertain?

It doesn't seem clear to me that the Jihadis have a strategy at all, and Dunn admits as much himself, so why should they want to politicize their ‘struggle’? The motives for Syria and Iran creating the cartoon jihad (Syria being under investigation for the Hariri assassination in Lebanon, while Iran facing the possibility of sanctions with Denmark to be chairing the Security Council) surely show that state politics is far more important and decisive than dreams of a transnational Islamic caliphate, whether dreamt by states or Jihadi networks.

Any effort to make sense of the Jihadi PoV must surely face the question concerning the nature of the enemy and what fuels it. And this is precisely where hyperstitional analysis ought to be useful, because we then not only consider the PoV of Jihadis and states, and whatever their motives might be (the field of International Relations or Geo-Political Science), but the flows and bottlenecks of information-driven forces which lock-in to produce clear trajectories and patterns of phenomena, behaviour, or activity.

I agree with puff adder that whatever the reason for going to war, and whether or not it’s ‘imperialist’, it was not a ‘shrewd’ invasion and certainly is not a ‘shrewd’ operation. The free world needs to get far cleverer and direct operations, both overt and covert, to undermining the enemy’s key hyperstitional, as well as its military, resources.

This means not just in understanding and thwarting its strategy (whether indeed it has one), and combating its fighting machine, but also in focusing on data-driven processes and associated key ‘agencies’:

1) a ready supply of Jihad-prone ‘labour’ coupled with a rabble-rousing clergy and indoctrination/ideology training camps;
2) twisted/controlled Islamic state-supported media;
3) misinterpretations and blockage of Western (free world) media in the Islamic world;
4) Western intelligence and its impact (including misinterpreations) on the media in the West (and the Islamic Near East);
5) electorate/public opinion in the free world;
6) 'scandals'
7) and anything else that fuels the notions of an ‘oppressor West’, a united (brotherhood) victimized ‘subject’, and a necessary Islamic jihad to combat the oppressor West.


In a Guardian article from 2004, ‘The Making of the Terror Myth,’ Jonathan Eyal, director of the British military think-tank the Royal United Services Institute, says in an interview that Al Qaeda have been “sustained by the way that we rather cavalierly stick the name al-Qaida on Iraq, Indonesia, the Philippines. There is a long tradition that if you divert all your resources to a threat, then you exaggerate it."

This is a fascinating possible example of a hyperstitional process at work, which disregards truthfulness and instead only concerns reality: whether or not Al Qaeda, as a global organized network, is a myth is not really the point. The point is that it has certainly become organized (the extent to which is neither the point) by hyperstitional processes unconsciously involving Western intelligence and media. But its not just that the Western powers have created a monster out of nothing: hyperstitional processes do not regard political, national, or any other lines; the ‘becoming’ organized of Al Qaeda is as much down to there being ‘something-to-be organized’, however this is analyzed.

I don’t know where to start in explaining the emergence of WWIV, since I think its complex and I profess scant knowledge of all the key forces and players, though I hope Hyperstition – this blog - can begin to consciously appreciate the hyperstitional aspect of the unfolding war.


Nick, you seem to think the war is going well. In this week’s Economist, as posted above by Traxxus, the picture painted is not as optimistic as you suggest: “During the invasion, Iraq's state collapsed. Three years on, after a clueless American military occupation and two incompetent and divisive Iraqi governments, it has not yet been rebuilt”. Don’t you agree its time the free world started to wage this war more intelligently and on more fronts?

Pre-emption is not just pre-emption of military nor suicide-bomber attacks. Appreciating the hyperstitional dimension of the way things have gone can surely help the West in its quest to being democracy and liberty to the Islamic world. But how? Should the West stem the growth of the enemy? Or does the West have to contribute even more to the hyperstitional creation of the enemy and its dream of a global caliphate, in order to uttlerly destroy it? Do we have to lure out the enemy by helping to create it?

Posted by: dlp at March 26, 2006 10:46 AM



puffy. email you later, love to read your book. from n+1 article: "J.R.R. Tolkien's claim that the function of fantasy is to serve as 'consolation'". [contrasts your Horror definition]. Tolkien created the word "eucatastrophe" describing fairy-tales: "The eucatastrophic tale is the true form of fairy-tale, and its highest function." the opposite of tragedy or the "dyscatastrophe" of the Greeks.

kinda ironic Robin begins his "Day of Ciné-Musique" post — "At any rate, it is not simply film music, diegetic or non-diegetic, soundtrack or incidental; although these enter into it, they do not exhaust or define its nature."

"discontinuous double series" ---- eucatastrophe / dyscatastrophe

Posted by: northanger at March 26, 2006 10:55 AM



"Programming WWIV", H. post from Aug-2005, good contrast to Dunn's piece. [still somewhat discombobulate theme working here: decoding the Islamic Mythos]
On the general topic of macronarratives, everyone seems to be linking to this Bill Roggio piece at the moment.

Seven Phases of The Base -
... it is interesting to see how al Qaeda's strategy and objectives have evolved since the United States committed to engaging in open warfare. The Word Unheard points us to an article in Spiegel Online by a Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussein, who is believed to be a reliable source of information on al Qaeda. His main source for this article on al Qaeda strategy is none other than Saif al-Adel, al Qaeda's military commander who is currently operating from Iran. al Qaeda's purported strategy can be broken down into seven "phases" which span from 2000 until 2020:

First Phase - "The Awakening" (2000 to 2003) provoke US into declaring war on Islamic world "awakening" Muslims. "
Second Phase "- Opening Eyes (2003 to 2006) western conspiracy aware of the "Islamic community"
Third Phase - "Arising and Standing Up" (2007 to 2010) "There will be a focus on Syria"

ironically, "Syriana" released 09-Dec-2005 (winning Best Supporting Actor).
Since you guys are somewhat interested in the occult, you might be interested to visit, perhaps by way of the red-haired demon in the Infernal Quadriga, in these ways in which ancient people's believed, and portrayed themselves as, getting into heaven or hell [...] The idea that the divine charioteer drives a team across the heavenly fields existed in very early times in Syria as well as in Babylon, Persia, and Greece [...] there is a very wide-spread belief of Syrian origin [p102] that souls fly to heaven on the back of an eagle [...] According to the story, Etana in Babylon, like Ganymede in Greece, had been carried off in tbis way. The pious shared tbis bappy lot. This is wby the eagle is used as the ordinary decorative motif on sepulchral stelae at Hierapolis, the holy city of tbe great Syrian goddess, and it appears with the same meaning in the West.
An ancient set of balance weights, apparently used in Egypt, Syria and Palestine circa 1200 B.C.E., also appear to employ the Fibonacci sequence (Petruso 1985).
introduced to the art of the Indians' nine symbols ... studied by the art in Egypt, Syria, Greece, Sicily and Provence
In Persian texts, Ashemogha appears to Zahak or Dahak (Dah [ten] + Aak [plague]: ten plagues) at a place between Syria and Iraq ... But there is no clarified explanation for the reason that Al Kahf [The Cave, Sura 18] must be recited upon seeing Dajjal, the ultimate evil rising from the lands between Iraq and Syria.
9 the number of the Brotherhood (Al-Naml; The Ant, Sura 27); 9 signs given to Moses; 9 signs & phases of Creation (resurrection or the sign of Qyiamah); 9 the "most insistent number in Islam, recurrently ciphering events as well as bonding the critical figures and events to each other" ++ Zahak = 829 = 19 = 10 (ten plagues) + 9 (the Brotherhood of Nine).
The Lists of Illnesses in Incantations Against "Various Illnesses"
‘I ram’ (city of pillars) was not known in ancient history and was not recorded by historians, but the December 1978 edition of National Geographic introduced interesting information mentioning that in 1473, the city of Elba was excavated in Syria. The city was found to be 4,300 years old. But what was found later about Elba was even more fascinating. Researchers recently found in the library of Elba a record of all of the cities with which Elba had done business. Believe it or not, there on the list was the name of ‘I ram’. The people of Elba had done business with the people of ‘I ram’, which was phonetically identical to the word mentioned in the Quran.

Posted by: northanger at March 26, 2006 11:25 AM



[append 11:25 AM]
Ibn Umar reported the Prophet (Peace be upon him) as saying: “Oh Allah, bless us in our Syria; O Allah, bless us in our Yemen.” Those present said: "And in our Najd, O Messenger of Allah!" But he said, "O Allah, bless us in our Syria; O Allah, bless us in our Yemen." Those present said, "And in our Najd, O Messenger of Allah!" Ibn Umar said that he thought that he said on the third occasion: "Earthquakes and fitnah are there, and there shall arise the horn of Shaytaan. (the satan)"
Both within Shia and Sunni religions, there are many powerful sects enthusiastically trying to expand the dimensions of Islamic Apocalypticism and align all their political / cultural / economical / religious strategies according to Islamic Apocalypse (Qyiamah or Ghiamat) or more precisely engineer strategies to speed the Rise of Qyiamah (triggering the Apocalypse); this is why they eagerly try to lure ' the Gog-Magog Axis' out of its temporal peace ("luring the beast out of its cage using hunting horns, releasing it whether by means of cooperation or by means of terror"), forcing it to accomplish its final mission: starting its irreversible New Pest Order.

Posted by: northanger at March 26, 2006 11:37 AM



dlp - thanks for the stimulating comment, I'm invoking the 'it's late' excuse again to defer an appropriate response.
But for now, "you seem to think the war is going well" - I'll accept this provisionally, but I might have phrased it more cautiously. The main thing IMHO is that it's absolutely crucial 'we' (the 'Free World' an expression designed to maximize partisan provocation) remain bloodily engaged, so that we're learning. Every day American soldiers are dealing with this war up close - and Americans, whatever they think about it themselves, are the repository of the world's 'liberal' hopes and anti-totalitarian prospects - they are getting better at what they do, keeping their enemies under pressure, and locked into a reciprocal learning process I am entirely confident they will reap more from than their foes. If the Free World isn't better at learning than its enemies are, then it loses its cosmic right to prevail. So "going well" means, in quasi-darwinian terms, that secular liberalism will adapt to what is happening better than its enemies - meaning that the more intense the learning process, the better. I'm very confident the military think the same way.
Can free societies defeat irrational ultraconservative totalitarians despite the treachery of their own tranzi metro elites? If they can't, it's all over in any case.

Posted by: Nick at March 26, 2006 11:55 AM



[my last two comments] or, in other words, defining what we think we know about the Islamic Mythos should be included in "what's next in the long war". solutions generally emerge from how the "problem" situated. imho, Dunn's perspective may be too militaristic (certainly rational if the problem is "terrorism"); my contention (based on Reza's Qiyamah posts & comments) is that this pov a possible red-herring hiding what's really occurring across Islam — 911 trigged its "gripping story".

Posted by: northanger at March 26, 2006 12:03 PM



>>Can free societies defeat irrational ultraconservative totalitarians despite the treachery of their own tranzi metro elites? If they can't, it's all over in any case.

yup yup. totally with you on all that. btw, define "enemies under pressure" - who are they? (might be important to state that clearly) what are your ideas about "reciprocal learning process" endpoint, the denouement?

Posted by: northanger at March 26, 2006 12:34 PM



"it's late" ... That surely is an excuse; its not even approaching bedtime ... but still, appreciate your prompt feedback. Re. your Q. "Can free societies defeat irrational ultraconservative totalitarians despite the treachery of their own tranzi metro elites?" - perhaps there must be a war on two fronts, treating the enemy as at once 'internal' and 'external'.

If so, this would certainly need to involve an appreciation not just of tacit collaboration (real 'treachery') but also unconscious connections or conjunctions between Islamist and PC/lefty politics and media. By connections I mean actual affective flows, not strictly speaking causal connections since that would imply separation.

But is it too simple a picture to say that these could be viewed as two poles of the enemy? (Perhaps investigsation is required to answer this sufficiently) If not, or if the distinction 'within' the enemy could be shown to be useful, we could then ask whether any Western intelligence service actually spends resources on identifying and tracking the effects of information on action between these two poles.

Perhaps they do, but I am not referring to conscious communications, but unconscious affects, hyperstitional processes, information feeding into information, informing actions producing actions, and so on.

Posted by: dlp at March 26, 2006 01:08 PM



dlp. why do you think "unconscious connections" only involve PC/lefty politics and media? is the right immune? if yes, what type of innoculation can be generated to offset the affect (or is that a non-possibility requiring protective innoculation from the left)?

Posted by: northanger at March 26, 2006 01:52 PM



northanger - I don't think 'unconscious connections' only involve PC/lefty politics and media. I should have made that clearer.

But Nick's comment was directed at 'treachery' within free societies, which I understand him meaning left-wing politics and media (or MSM): the anti-war campaigners, those wishing to underplay the importance of winning the war, Islamist appeasers, and those especially wishing to see the war, or 'occupation', fail.

What I was raising was the importance thus of understanding the problem for the Free World as not only being a military enemy (however geographically dispersed) but also an enemy of sorts within the Free World's own ranks. And I used the word 'unconscious' because I don't think of the 'enemy within', if we can indeed get away with this term, to be conscious collaborators with Islamists, AQ, etc.

Its not just like there are terrorists on one side and treacherous apologists on the other (though on one level of analysis this certainly holds). Its rather like they are part of the same dynamic thing. And by understanding the creation of the enemy through unconscious, unwitting, connections that cut across geographical and political lines, we might be in a better position to deal with the problem.

Perhaps a new concept is required for the enemy to avoid getting caught in macro level analysis: its not just about discrete and (in principle) identifiable entities. It not that AQ is just hard to pinpoint: its that its becoming, its dynamic of organization and/or creation, is connected with factors supposedly external to it.

This is what makes me think that the notion of the enemy ought to be expanded, though in trying to identify the enemy on new coordinates perhaps misses the point that a new kind of cartography is required, one that tracks the forces and flows between state-level politics, Islamist movements, media networks etc.

Hyperstition is a concept that might be useful in explaining how rumour, hearsay, propaganda, misinformation and misrepresentation may inform and indeed produce novel developments, activities, behaviour, on any side of the conflict.

I don't think I am being clear enough because I am not clear enough in my own mind, though I hope this makes some sense.

Posted by: dlp at March 26, 2006 03:47 PM



Please take the above comments as mainly orbitting around the artificial production of the enemy - AQ for an umbrella term - though of course right-wing politics and media of course must have its own hyperstitional hooks into what is going on. Nick, sd, I think you may have to step in here and help clarify somewhat, if that's possible re. what I am saying.

Posted by: dlp at March 26, 2006 03:51 PM



Nick said: 'puff adder - there's a lot of information coming out of Iraq, what you choose to listen to or emphasize is the issue. I trust soldiers more than the media, but that's just me.'

Especially troublesome when the soldiers and generals talk freely to the media, but the soldiers who talk to the POTUS are chosen carefully to stroke his guilty ego, and so do their children love him and their children's children, etc. Since you only read the MSM when you can't avoid it, there's little likelihood you'd have too much knowledge of their best journalism.

Northanger said: 'a problem with the facts on the ground. should what happens next in the long war deal with this reality consensus gap?'

What an outlandish idea! Of course not! We should even skip the next step and go straight on into 'Star Trek: WWVI'

Nick said: 'Can free societies defeat irrational ultraconservative totalitarians despite the treachery of their own tranzi metro elites? If they can't, it's all over in any case.'

dlp said: 'Re. your Q. "Can free societies defeat irrational ultraconservative totalitarians despite the treachery of their own tranzi metro elites?" - perhaps there must be a war on two fronts, treating the enemy as at once 'internal' and 'external'.

If so, this would certainly need to involve an appreciation not just of tacit collaboration (real 'treachery') but also unconscious connections or conjunctions between Islamist and PC/lefty politics and media. By connections I mean actual affective flows, not strictly speaking causal connections since that would imply separation.'

dlp--this is the usual right-wing lumping of all lefty PC types with the MSM, which is thoroughly inaccurate. As I've repeated ad nauseum, both the hard right and the hard left think the MSM is in the service of the other, so it is paradoxically obvious that the MSM probably gets more facts out than either of these purely special-interest groups--and that is really all the hard right as represented by Nick and Bush and eternal war for it's own exciting sake; and the hard left as represented by Lenin's Tomb, hypocritical soci*lism and Islam are: They are just special interest groups (and even trinities occasionally), out to make a buck or get a virgin in dead Al Qaeda Heaven.

'metro tranzi elites' is especially low, since intellectuals of any stripe are all part of some sorts of elites. Elites are absolutely necessary unless you just want mob. They are by now very mixed up, and for moderates like me who keep their fantasy elsewhere than in vast political fantasies, it is unfortunately necessary to consort to some degree with somewhat odious representatives of both left and right, because that is the only way you can develop anything of use. Of course, there is completely giving up all interest in anything but partisanship in these special interest extremists; they are interested only in winning, and long ago had no use for facts, god forbid one would use the word 'truth'. My positioning here is very troubling, because I'm a metropolitan who is not a leftist or soci*list, but have no truck with the extreme reaches of the right wing either. This causes rages in those who find in partisanship the only thing that makes them hyperstitionally happy. This is why they will have been happy to hear that you can sell game items on eBay for currency to be deposited in real banks, and then there are the more subtle versions, although $3.50 hourly careers at these games, which obviously cause a form of blackout, would seem an improvement over sweatshop labour on Oriental rugs for Georgetown townhouses, might seem desirable only according to whether the economy was normally operational along Haitian or Myanmarian lines.

Nevertheless, the toxicity of only eating and sleeping in the 'real world' (the gamesmen think of it in quotes, since obviously at this point, they have given up their bodies as nothing but dead weight, and in the crude argot 'they can't even find it to fuck') produces obesity, Sitter's Ass, and, in extreme casess which SD has documented, 'death will occur,' as the medical manuals sometimes say. These hardworking personnel have long gone past Recipe Source as they munch their corn chips, and would freak out if you showed them a paper phone directory.

Too bad. Even so, such atrocious bumbling of reality does, as I've noted, produce the occasionally delectable image--the wonders of the Green Zone. I intend to work this like a son-of-a-bitch. It should be a lot better than when Patrick McGoohan was trying to get out of such places.

To reduce this into clarified butter still further, dlp, the hard right or the hard left could either one pass for the milky particles left at the bottom, which can be used later on for enrichment in soups and other sauces besides the 'excellent brown,' for example.

Posted by: metro mamba at March 26, 2006 05:58 PM



northanger said: 'kinda ironic Robin begins his "Day of Ciné-Musique" post — "At any rate, it is not simply film music, diegetic or non-diegetic, soundtrack or incidental; although these enter into it, they do not exhaust or define its nature."'

that was mostly directly derived from my own Preface, which he understood quite well, and he proved part of what 'they do not exhaust or define its nature' by writing an extension of cine-musique himself--and quite a profound one I thought it to be.

Fascinating about the eucatastophic tale--as we see, these are easy enough to produce around rather large scale catastrophes, and it looks like I've got to do a vacillating form going back and forth for the Green Zone, although I write too slowly for someone not to pick up on this long before I can even outline it properly.

Posted by: metro mamba at March 26, 2006 10:50 PM



dlp - "Its not just like there are terrorists on one side and treacherous apologists on the other (though on one level of analysis this certainly holds). Its rather like they are part of the same dynamic thing." - This is an intriguing line of approach IMHO, but it also has to be pursued carefully. Such a 'thing' has to exist, of 'transcendental machinic necessity' - but a failure to apprehend its appropriate contours would lead to an implosion onto occidentocentism of the Chomskyite kind (even if with inverse values), making everything revolve around the West, defined by positive or negative allegience to it. On the contrary, the Jihad has its own positive identity, with its own culturally internal frictions, antagonisms and polarities, so its relations with Western leftism are supplementary and external ...


Posted by: Nick at March 27, 2006 03:03 AM



The term 'WWIV' refers to a basic global polarization, and even has a sub-implication that this polarization will be on terms that cohere with the historical progression of the Anglospherean Technocommercial Oecumenon, but polarization presupposes an initially a-polar system, and anything that served to efface the extraordinary density of the Jihadi pole (which is totalizing a world of antagonism against itself at least as 'effectively' as 'the West' (is there still any such thing?) is doing, even having a pre-set vocabulary for this: the House of Islam versus the House of War).

[interrupt 2]

Posted by: Nick at March 27, 2006 03:16 AM



metro mamba - your sense of where the middle of the political spectrum lies seems so deranged that your otherwise bizarre obliviousness to the systematically left-slanted MSM perspective makes perfect sense. Midway between Bush (far right!? - I'll get to that in a second) and the Lenin's Tomb neocommunists lies the leftwing of the Democrats - which is exacty where the MSM heartland lies too, of course.
If you think Bush is 'far right' your simply not reading widely enough - he's mildly hawkish (still thinks Islam is a 'religion of peace' for instance and it seems the regime change spree has been put quietly to bed), pretty much dead centre on the economy (modest tax cuts offset by biggest jump in entitlements since LBJ), and tacks moderately right on social issues (too far for my tastes in many instances, but originalist judges make sense) - in any case, even here he's far closer to the centre than, for instance, John Kerry or Ted Kennedy. In all three respects there are oceans of open water to Dubya's right, how would you move left of the Tomb?

Posted by: Nick at March 27, 2006 03:36 AM



Nick--maybe there will be some other things I'll contribute to, but not this. I've explained myself perfectly well, and will not do so further.

It's your movie--of some interest but I've completed all my labour in this particular area.

Posted by: metro mamba at March 27, 2006 03:55 AM



Nick - do you agree that hyperstitional processes are fundamentally informational? Coming back to my first post above, do you think there is any merit in exploring the hypestitional dimension of how the war has unfolded? I tried to give some examples but am not sure if this is barking up the wrong tree.

Posted by: dlp at March 27, 2006 04:14 AM



dlp - I'd be fascinated to see what you come up with on this.

metro mamba - "I've explained myself perfectly well" hmmmm

Posted by: Nick at March 27, 2006 06:08 AM



Jim Geraghty:
"Really, is the Democratic message on Iraq in the coming year going to be, 'We don’t know what to do, but we know the whole situation stinks'?"

Posted by: Nick at March 27, 2006 06:37 AM



Nick, don't hold your breath. I don't have an expert grasp on the WWIV situation; I am just clawing at ideas.

Posted by: dlp at March 27, 2006 07:27 AM



>>We don’t know what to do, but we know the whole situation stinks.

nick. sustainability, especially after 2008 elections, my main concern with Bush Doctrine.

Posted by: northanger at March 27, 2006 07:59 AM



Aaaaagh! I'm undergoing mind-meld with northanger!

Posted by: Nick at March 27, 2006 09:10 AM



n+1 mentions the Salon des Refusés (Salon of the Rejected) referring to an 1863 Paris art exhibit by command of Napoleon III....

Opening of Salon des Refuses,,0_5-2_4009-4_104278,00.html
In that year the French Academy rejected a staggering 2800 canvases submitted for the annual Salon. The selection committee argued that it was in society's interests that the public be shielded from the works of such subversives as Manet, Pissaro, Cezanne, Courbet and Whistler. It argued that such artists were a clear danger to society and that the slightest encouragement would be risky. Since there were very few independent art exhibitions in imperial France, the taste of the buying public was dictated almost entirely by the Academy. Most members of the art-buying public invested only in artists sanctioned by the Salon. Rejection by the Salon therefore threatened many artists with professional extinction [...] The protests that followed the Academy's 1863 decision were so public and so pointed that eventually Napoleon III himself appeared at the Palais de l'Industrie and demanded to see the rejected works. He instructed the Academy to reconsider its selection and when it refused, the Emperor decreed that the rejected paintings go on display in a separate exhibition.

the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture (aka "The Salon"), founded in 1648, had a "strict" artistic & organizational hierarchy — you went there if you wanted to become a professional painter. the Salon became "a virtual monopoly on public taste and official patronage".

The Salon and The Royal Academy
"However, by the mid-nineteenth century, academies across Europe were undercut by what would later be seen as avant-garde movements. Some artists sought change from within, exhibiting their radical works at these official venues. In many cases, the Academies showed a rather enlightened openness to the institutional critique [...] By the later nineteenth century, alternate exhibition venues challenged their hegemony [...] In France, by the end of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth, new Salons were ascendant, including the Salon des Indépendants in the spring and the Salon d'Automne later in the year, which showed the works of modernist artists like Henri Matisse (1975.1.194) and André Derain. The importance of traditional academies largely waned, but in places like Austria, artists such as Gustav Klimt taught in the venerable Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna, preserving its advanced thrust well into the new century."

we cannot deny that republicans, democrats, liberals, progressives, christians & muslims do not have something equally to say about the current crisis. however, before this crisis there were those of the Salon & those that were not. at this point, the Flying Spaghetti Monster (peace and blessings be upon him) has a better chance of infinite sustainability than the Bush Doctrine. why?

Jennifer Howard (link above) mentions a "sophisticated thematic structure" (STS) carried by a fantasy's hero. the Bush Doctrine's STS is, what Howard would call, "a cathartic reimagining, of the world's crises". Linda Trent's question seems extremely valid here: "Why does Lovecraft persist in the pretence that he invented the Necronomicon?".

The Truth About the Necronomicon
"Now that Lovecraft had established the Necronomicon in the minds of his readers, there was no need to rely on lengthy descriptions or quotes from it [...] His previous references to the Necronomicon had been sufficient to arouse the interest of his readers, and the image of this archetypal book of evil had been firmly planted in their minds.

Posted by: northanger at March 27, 2006 02:26 PM



'metro mamba - "I've explained myself perfectly well" hmmmm'

Okay, I'm not going to work for you. Is that better?

Posted by: Patrick J. Mullins at March 27, 2006 04:28 PM



Nick--you're smart, but way too corrupt, manipulative and bloody-minded.

Posted by: Patrick J. Mullins at March 27, 2006 04:33 PM



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