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View Diary: U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote (NYT 9/4/1967) (274 comments)

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  •  It's about the will to fight (4.00)
    not the will to vote.

    It's no surprise to me at all that people will participate in an election.  That's not the problem we have in Iraq.

    The issue is a group that is determined to take power by violence, and which is large and determined enough to make its presence felt.  

    The big mistake made by the neocons was believing that Saddam's group was a relatively small faction that would give up after they lost power.  Even assuming (and I have no problem believing it) that the vast majority of Iraqis are happy Saddam was overthrown, obviously there is a significant bunch that liked things the way they were, and is determined to make its feelings known.

    To me, this is the most troublesome parallel with Vietnam:  In this internal power struggle, the side we are fighting is determined and capable.  The side we are backing--not so much.  Now why the hell is that?

    Now I got no problem saying there are good guys and bad guys in Iraq.  And let's put aside the issues (moral, legal, practical) whether the US should be spending its resources helping the good guys.  What's deeply troubling is that the good guys seem content to let us do all the fighting.  

    The Shi'a and Kurds did show courage by voting under dangerous conditions.  But unless they show--quickly--that they are prepared to take on their own defense against the Sunni/Baathists, well the election was nice, but it is literally not the real battle.

    •  Idle speculation/pure fantasy? (none)
      What if Iraq actually has a coordinated plan to get the US out of their country?  

      • Shias remain "reasonable", but relentlessly arm-twist CPA/Bushco to hold  real elections; ready to go ape-shit if election is rigged.
      • Sunnis play "Bad Cops" to keep pressure on Bush to "go through motions" of "March for Democracy" election to keep folks back home satified.
      • Kurds stay neutral, keep options open and  ready to jump to whichever side is winning.
    •  this too, is an important point (none)
      and one that argues against my veiled optimism.

      I wish we were arguing in a debate that comgbined your insights and those of jethropalerobber's, about this being Sistani's election, instead of all this nihilist "elections are meaningless" crap.

      •  If this is the real game going on in Iraq, (none)
        what would Bushco's next move be?

        • Infiltrate/neutralize/puppetize new (Shia-loaded) government
        • Set up a nominal coalition government that keeps Iraqis essentially powerless, and US in control
        • Get Shias, Sunnis, fighting each other so they can't unite and fight US occupation together
        • ?
    •  Excellent point (none)
      That is an excellent point, and a very real parallel to Vietnam that I had not thought of before . . . Amid the confusion and smokescreens and lies, a good answer to your question of "why the hell not" is going to be hard to determine. Yet I think that on this topic the Vietnam precedent offers a guide for telltale signs to watch out for.

      In Vietnam, the chief causes of ARVN pusillanimity were A) top-to-bottom corruption in the chain of command (ARVN generals obtained field commands by paying huge bribes to the Saigon govt, financed in turn by setting up extortion rackets in their districts), and B) a conviction by the Saigon govt that the ARVN's purpose was to thwart coups and protect the govt against its internal rivals rather than fight the Communist insurgency.

      Can we see such factors at play in Iraq? Certainly there are reports of massive corruption in the Iraqi govt. (The planeload of cash to Beirut for arms that never arrived; the  $9 bil allocated by the CPA to Iraqi ministries with no auditing or accouning)

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