"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Chicago Sun-Times liberal columnist Mark Brown wonders if perhaps Bush was right all along about Iraq.

Naomi Klein remains in denial. "Because if it weren't for the invasion, Iraqis would not even have the freedom to vote for their liberation, and then to have that vote completely ignored," she says. But will their vote be ignored? The anti-war pundits never saw anything good coming from the toppling of Saddam. The Iraqis and their resources would just be exploited, as if they weren't under Saddam and the UN blood-for-oil program. What the anti-war pundits failed to understand was that the Bush administration couldn't completely control what happens post-Saddam.

Klein won't admit she was pro-Sadr and anti-Sistani. As Jonathan Schell writes "Having brought the Administration to heel, Sistani next faced a challenge from within Shiite ranks. In spring 2004, the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr launched an armed insurrection against the occupation. Sistani stood by while American forces badly bloodied Sadr's forces in several weeks of fighting in the holy Shiite city of Najaf, and then he successfully summoned both sides to join in a truce in which the forces of both were withdrawn from the city. He granted a meeting to Sadr, who offered a guarded fealty. At the same time, Sistani expressed a sort of vague acceptance of Sadr's enemy, the US- and UN-appointed interim government.
In sum, the election on January 30 -- conceived by Sistani, forced upon a reluctant Bush Administration by Sistani, and defended by Sistani (in concert with American forces) against both Shiite and Sunni insurrections -- was first and foremost a kind of Shiite uprising. It was an astonishingly successful revolt against subjugation and repression that Shiites have suffered in Iraq at the hands of foreigners and domestic minorities alike. That this uprising took the form of a peaceful election rather than a bloody rebellion is owing to the shrewdness, and possibly the wisdom, of Sistani."

However, the Bush administation was smart to change course - even though it would anger authoritarian allies like the Saudis and King Abdullah of Jordan - and stick to the January 30 date, despite pleas from the New York Times editorial board and many others to push the date back.

Schell again: "The rudiments of a new governing authority in Iraq have appeared for the first time since the war that felled Saddam. It's unknowable whether such an authority can surmount the sectarian divisions it faces -- in effect, creating an Iraqi nation -- or, if it does succeed, whether it will invite American forces to remain. What we can know is that from now on it is Iraqis, not Americans, who will be making the most fundamental decisions in their country." Once free of Saddam and his minority Tikriti clan of the minority Sunnis, Iraqis already were making fundamental decisions.

If I didn't think toppling Saddam was worth it, I'd just list the costs, day after day, as Juan Cole does at his blog. Michael Young provides a nice take-down of Cole over at Hit and Run.