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Did Dan know the difference we he promoted the Iraq war?

Posted by wf | October 17, 2006 12:41 PM

Oh my fucking God. These people should be run out of town on the tip of a horse whip.

The cleft in Iraq is three-way, not two, and is already complete except for parts of Baghdad. Eastern and southern Iraq is an Iranian client state, and the far north is Kurdistan. The Sunnis (a mix of old Baathists and new Al Qaeda) control the Sunni Triangle in the West, but most of what we call "Iraq" is now the world's first Arab Shia nation (Iranians are not Arab).

This may ultimately turn out to be a positive result. Iraq was and is a sham nation invented out of nothing by the British in the first place. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless people, and deserve a state no matter what the Turks think. The Shias may ultimately come to thank us, provided they don't end up losing Baghdad totally (though that city is likely to be embroiled in sectarian violence for another century), for freeing them, and the Sunnis? Well, Iraqi Arab Sunni Baathists are the fucking scum of the earth and deserve a good beat-down for all the harm they've caused.

Only Kurdistan is likely to resemble civilization for the foreseable future, but I have a secret hope that radical Shi'ites will eventually seek peace and freedom over mass insanity. Eventually.

But these boobs are unforgiveable. I know the difference, and I'm just a citizen, not at the top of the terror-fighting pyramid.

Posted by Fnarf | October 17, 2006 12:49 PM

Hey, Erica, could we get a link?

Posted by Fnarf | October 17, 2006 12:50 PM

This is no great disagreement with what you've said, Fnarf, but some Iranians are Arab, though most are not. Just a point of clarification.

Posted by Ben | October 17, 2006 12:55 PM

I argued for hours and hours with Dan during the run up to the war. So, I'm as familiar with Dan's hit on Middle East politics as possible.
And while I believe Dan let his emotionalism about 9/11 irrationally sway his opinion about Iraq, he has a deep knowledge of the politics and the region and so, to answer your condescending (attempt at a rhetorical) question: Yes, Dan absoltuely knew the difference between Shia and Sunni.

Posted by Josh Feit | October 17, 2006 1:04 PM

According to Wikipedia, 3% of Iranians are Arab. 51% is Persian, 24% are Azeri, 8% are Gilaki and Mazandarani, whatever that is, 7% are Kurds, and the rest is everything else. But 90% are Shia.

This is the stupid miscalculation made by the Bushies: they figured there was no way the Iraqi Shia would choose religion over ethnicity and go with Shia Iran instead of Arab Iraqis. Some of them believed this because they didn't even know the difference between Shia and Sunni, but even the ones who did were insanely wrong. Paul Wolfowitz knows. He's going to get an "A" on his exams to get into Hell.

Posted by Fnarf | October 17, 2006 1:09 PM

Here's your calculation, folks: a boob like me can find all that on Wikipedia in fifteen minutes, but officials at the highest level in the Bush administration, including the people running the war and the fight against terror, and even the President himself, haven't got a clue.

Posted by Fnarf | October 17, 2006 1:14 PM

another minor quibble, my good Fnarf...although precise population counts are impossible, the Pathans (AKA Pukhtuns, Pushtuns) probably outnumber the Kurds by about ten million.

And while some other tribal groups in Afghanistan may not see the Pathans as stateless (given ther long predominance in Afghani rule), they themselves (and esp. those in the Northwest Frontier and the Tribal Areas of Pakistan) do see themselves as stateless. Since the partition of British India an independent Pukhtunistan has been a unifying goal of many of the Pathan groups.

And yes, it is only the profound and complete ignorance of this area of the world that allowed these assholes to think for even a second that they could control it.

Posted by gnossos | October 17, 2006 1:15 PM

It is deplorable, but somehow not really all that surprising to learn that the people supposedly in charge of this shit know less about Sunni and Shia than I do. *sigh*


Posted by SDA in SEA | October 17, 2006 1:17 PM

There was a quote just recently in the papers that showed Bush had no idea what ethnic/religious groups were in Iraq as late as three weeks before the invasion.

When asked how he intended to bridge the differences between Iraq's Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds, he seriously replied "I thought they were all Muslims..."

Indeed, ignorance is strength.

There's a special place in hell for that man.

Posted by Andrew | October 17, 2006 1:29 PM

I agree with most of what you said, Fnarf. Although I think the Shias wouldn't mind losing Baghdad if they got the oil fields. I personally think splitting Iraq in 3 is the only way to go, but it will still involve strife. Turkey & Iran would eventually bomb Kurdistan for their (future) support of the Kurdish minorities in those countries. Oil income would need to be divided equitably, but there would still be strife. Sectarian violence in Baghdad would run for a while over bitter feelings. South Iraq would become even more of an Iranian client state.

These "countries" whose boundaries were created by imperialists have only been around for 50 or so years, a relatively short time. I think they need to be redrawn. Split Afghanistan into 2. A northern area with Kabul, and a southern Pukhtunistan, as Gnossos mentioned.

But all those ideas are wasted on George Bush and his "Me no like you. Me hit you." cabinet.

Posted by him | October 17, 2006 1:40 PM

I wouldn't trust those stats on the Irani population. Linguistically, the Azeris are the most distinct, since their language is Turkic, but Persian serves as a lingua franca, and everyone's been intermarrying for so damn long that their mutts in the same way white people are in the US.

Posted by Gitai | October 17, 2006 1:47 PM

Money quote: “Now that you’ve explained it to me,” he replied, “what occurs to me is that it makes what we’re doing over there extremely difficult, not only in Iraq but that whole area.”


Posted by Noink | October 17, 2006 2:00 PM

al-Qaeda aren't Sunni, they're a sub-offshoot particular to Saudi Arabia, for the most part. It's like calling a Mormon an Episcopalian.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 17, 2006 2:14 PM

Al Qaeda ARE Sunni; they're Wahhabi which is a Sunni sect. They await the caliph.

Posted by Fnarf | October 17, 2006 2:46 PM

Our countries ignorance in this area is extremely appalling. A great book to read is Taliban, by Ahmed Rashid. Gives great history, current events, etc. about Afganistan. It was also published pre-9/11 (about a month or 2 before). What is dicussed in the book is striking. The history of that area of the world needs to be taught in all US schools.

*preaching to choir*

I hate this president and his uneducated assuptions.

Posted by Monique | October 17, 2006 3:28 PM

Calling a Wahhabi a Sunni is like calling a Mormon an Episcopalian.

There! Satisfied? The former are the base of 90 percent of worldwide terrorism, the latter usually aren't (except for local civil wars like Iraq and other invaded countries).

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 17, 2006 4:40 PM

well, no Will it's not....the difference is much more like Jesuits and Dominicans or Theravada and Zen...but I guess that would be splitting hairs...

Posted by gnossos | October 17, 2006 5:11 PM

They await the caliph

I thought that was the Shi'a, but maybe I'm thinking of the hidden imam?

IIRC, the Sunnis believe that Mohammed's uncle was the proper leader of the faith after Mohammed's death. Their geographic distribution is (grossly simplified) along the Mediterranean Basin and Indian Ocean.

My impression is that Wahhabists are to Sunni Islam what the Southern Baptist Convention is to Protestantism--except even more extreme. If I were going to use a Catholic analog, I'd compare the Wahhabists to Savonarola.

The Shi'a believe that Mohammed's grandson should have been the leader of the faith after the Prophet's death. Their geographic distribution is (more or less) central Asia radiating out from the former Persian Empire. Many of the Shi'a also have a belief in a "hidden imam" who will return at some future point in time (similar to the evangelical Christian belief in the Second Coming of Christ?)

Feel free to correct me where I'm wrong.

Posted by celyn | October 17, 2006 6:44 PM

Yes, the Shi'a await the hidden Imam, not the caliph. The caliph is the political authority of a united Islam, not the religious one. Osama thinks maybe it ought to be him. But he's got to unite the Arabs first.

Posted by Fnarf | October 17, 2006 6:50 PM

90% of global terrorism isn't even Islamic, let alone Wahhabi. ETA in Spain, the IRA, the Tamil Tigers, that asswipe Bush is protecting from Cuban justice, various strains of Unabomber/McVeigh/Rudolph in the USA, the list goes on.

The Chechens are Muslim but their beef isn't religious, and they're far from Wahhabi in their beliefs. So are the Palestinians. Muslims in the former Yugoslavia have committed terrorism, and they are victims of Wahhabi bullshit, not proponents of it (the Saudis have destroyed all their beautiful mosques). The Taliban is not Wahhabi.

There are many, many radical strains of Islam that are not Wahhabi. Wealthy Saudis support clerics who preach hate, and they send money to Osama, but the intellectual underpinnings of global jihad are essentially Western in origin, the result of a collision between radical Egyptian Islam and nihilist existentialism. The boys of 9/11 and 7/7 were the product of Camus as much as they were of the desert.

Posted by Fnarf | October 17, 2006 7:02 PM

Look, Wahhabi is NOTHING like Zen or Dominicans. They are, by definition, very extreme.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 18, 2006 10:02 AM

"Look", yourself. You don't know what you're talking about.

Posted by Fnarf | October 18, 2006 5:39 PM

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