Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Iran's gallows humor

"In pressing for Saddam’s execution, Iran appears to have reached over America’s head and graphically demonstrated that it is now the preeminent political force inside Iraq." Conflicts Forum
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The grotesque hangings in Iraq of Saddam Hussein and his half brother are diplomatic and even strategic disasters for the United States. They demonstrate that the United States cannot control events to its benefit even where it has had its soldiers on the ground for several years. The bouncing head of Barzan al Tikriti sends a stronger message about American power in the Middle East than the arrival of yet another aircraft carrier battle group to the Persian Gulf. With their non-existent historical memory many Americans may not be picking up the message as clearly as the people in the Middle East do. The Iran/Iraq war that lasted from 1980 till 1988 and where a million human beings perished, has probably been forgotten by most Americans except Elliot Abrahms and Oliver North. It certainly hasn't been forgotten by the Iranians. I have just finished reading the chapters on the Iraq/Iran war in Robert Fisk's wonderful "Great War for Civilization, which should be required reading for anyone trying to understand today's headlines. Reading the book, it is obvious that as William Faulkner said, "the past isn't history, it isn't even past". The Iranians call that war, "The Imposed War" and in it they probably suffered more than any country has suffered since Russia in WWII. The United States supplied Saddam Hussein with poison gas and the permission to use it to keep Iran from winning a war they hadn't begun. There is then, quite a bit of poetic justice in Iran's winning this war in Iraq and in doing so humiliating the United States. If you find what I'm saying in any way exaggerated, I invite you to read Fisk's fine book. DS

Iraq: Beyond the Gallows - Conflicts Forum
Many observers have assumed that Saddam Hussein’s execution was yet another Iraqi “milestone” timed to serve the needs of a struggling American president. Milestone it was, but indications now suggest that this was, on the contrary, a marker that Washington was desperate to forestall. And for good reason: in pressing for Saddam’s execution, Iran appears to have reached over America’s head and graphically demonstrated that it is now the preeminent political force inside Iraq. The Bush administration’s provocative posture towards Iran in recent days could thus say more about what has already happened than about what is yet to come. From the vantage point of the Oval Office, raising the specter of a military confrontation with Iran may in fact seem preferable to facing the greatest humiliation of all: the acknowledgment of an Iranian victory in Iraq. Yet it now appears that Saddam’s ignominious end was exactly that: victor’s justice — Iranian victor’s justice. It is a message from Iran to Iraq’s Sunnis that it is Iran, and not the U.S, that is now the dominant force in Iraq. Iran may have been diplomatic enough to call Saddam’s execution a “victory for the Iraqi people,” but the blunt message heard across the region is that Iran will not relent in asserting its title as the region’s leading power.(...) Another hint of Iran’s role in the execution comes from a recent BBC report, stating that the execution took place “at an especially constructed gallows at a compound that once served as the military intelligence headquarters of the former regime. This was the building where those accused of aiding Iraq’s former foe, Iran, were brought during the Sunni ascendancy.” The message for the Bush Administration should be clear: shifts in military strategy cannot undo the fact that the political struggle for Iraq has already been lost. READ IT ALL

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