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In case you missed it like me, here's more proof our president is in over his head, a national security risk. According to Peter Galbraith former U.S. diplomat on a Channel 4 special aired Nov 21, Bush didn't know there was a difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims as late as January 2003. The report (link to video at the Dossier below) has a lot more's the part where Bush shows again how in over his head he really is.

Oborne: I traveled to Boston to meet a former U.S. diplomat who had been a leading authority on Iraq for over a decade. A chance remark made just two months before the war, hinted at how the complexities of Iraq had bewildered Americans at the highest levels.

Peter Galbraith - former U.S. diplomat: January 2003 the President invited three members of the Iraqi opposition to join him to watch the Super Bowl. In the course of the conversation the Iraqis realized that the President was not aware that there was a difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. He looked at them and said, "You mean...they're not, you know, there, there's this difference. What is it about?"

continuing with Galbraith:
For the United States to launch a war where the president is not aware of this very fundamental difference between Sunni and Shiite Arabs is really stunning. It's a bit like the U.S. president intervening in Ireland and being unaware that there are two schools of Christianity - Catholics and Protestants. -snip-

Oborne: It's perfectly clear that neither Tony Blair here in London or George Bush in Washington had the faintest idea what to do after the invasion of Iraq.

Video of the report from the Dossier

Dispatches - Iraq: The Reckoning -- Peter Oborne reports on the West's exit strategy for Iraq. He believes the invasion of Iraq is proving to be the greatest foreign policy failure since Munich. Oborne argues that the plan to transform Iraq into a unified liberal democracy, a beacon of hope in the Middle East, is pure fantasy

From Channel 4 Dispatches: Iraq: the Reckoning Peter Oborne, political editor of the Spectator, reports on the West's exit strategy for Iraq. He believes the invasion of Iraq is proving to be the greatest foreign policy failure since Munich. Oborne argues that the plan to transform Iraq into a unified liberal democracy, a beacon of hope in the Middle East, is pure fantasy. Reporting on location with US troops in Sadr City, and through interviews with leading figures in Britain and the US, Oborne argues that the coalition and its forces on the ground are increasingly irrelevant in determining the future of Iraq - a future that's unlikely to be either unified, liberal or democratic.

The film includes interviews with Richard Perle, Peter Galbraith, Deputy Chief of Army staff General Jack Keane. Oborne also interviews Rory Stewart, who worked as a deputy governor in Nasyriah and witnessed first hand the rise of the pro-Iranian fundamentalist parties that are now at the heart of the Iraqi government.

Originally posted to moonboots on Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 06:52 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  he doesn't do nuance (none) this a nuance?
  •  Sunnis, Shiites,'s all good! (3.75)
    Now watch this drive.

    "What luck for rulers that men do not think." - Adolf Hitler

    by Bensdad on Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 07:04:34 PM PST

  •  As if it mattered to him. (4.00)
    The key mistake with this sort of information is that people assume that it would even matter to a man like Bush what the distinctions were in a population.  "Who cares who the people are?", he would ask...  "How's the damn oil production commin'?"  Is his primary question.  

    The secondary question is:

    "Is my Swiss bank account set up and ready to take the oil profits?"

    "People?",  he would ask indignantly.  "Get them out of the way.  Don't we have a military for that sort of thing?"

    •  And, of course, what Pres Dimwit... (4.00)
       ... failed, or refused, to take into account is that the spigot might just get turned off in the event of a friggin' CIVIL WAR.

       Oh, by the way, hear the news?  -->

      Iraq Set to Pump Less Oil than Last Year


      DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Despite President Bush's optimism on Iraq's reconstruction, the country appears set to pump less crude in 2005 than last year's disappointing showing and far less than under Saddam Hussein.

       Well, isn't that special.


      . . . religion is not a syllogism, but a poem. H.L. Mencken

      by BenGoshi on Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 07:40:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A simplied version of the situation: (4.00)
    The Shiites are roughly 15% of the world's Muslims, known by Muslim and non-Muslim alike as the most fundamentalist. (Except by average Americans who don't known the first thing about Islam).

    On an average day, the Sunnis and Shiites don't like each other. Shiite causes are not what the average Muslim is concerned about. Shia Islam is relatively isolated, with Iran as its only major country, and furthermore, most Shia holy sites are in Iraq.

    In comes the US, removing the stopgap against the Shia, shooting up the Shia holy sites, (relatively) opening up the Iran-Iraq border, and making the plight of the Iraqi Shia a front and center concern for the Islamic world in general.

    The US might have acted "morally" by removing Saddam, but we certainly acted idiotically (on the surface)in a realpolik sense. Unless, of course, they have another agenda...

    •  Not necessarily fundamentalists. (none)
      I don't know a whole lot about this, but I know that in Turkey the Shiites have a somewhat iconoclastic and progressive history.  They have a live-and-let-live reputation.

      It seems that these kinds of things very a lot from one country to the next.  Depends on the local history.

      The Republican party: An alliance of madness and greed.

      by jem6x on Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 07:42:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Shi'a are not more "fundamentalist," (4.00)
        whatever that may be.  Indeed, some of their practices are quite alien to orthodox Sunni belief, which is why the Wahabis, who really are fundies, so detest them.  

        For example, the Qor'an forbids likenesses of living beings, which explains why one will never see a portrait of Mohammed. The Shi'a, however, routinely hang portraits of Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Mohammed, whose death ultimately led to the schism. They also venerate Hussain, the son of Ali, whom Shi'a believe should have been caliph and who was martyred at Karbala.  

        Some other anomalies from a Sunni perspective include the following:
           1) the placement of a small, compressed block of earth taken from a holy place such as Karbala on the spot where the forehead would touch the prayer mat during prayer.
           2) the conflation of five daily prayers into three;
           3) the acceptance of muttuh, or time-limited marriage (can be less than 24 hours) as a way to get around the Muslim requirement that a wife be a virgin on marriage, a practice that is currently being encouraged by the clergy in Iran nowadays, I understand.  The logic behind this is that only one of Mohammed's thirteen wives had been a virgin when he married them. In the Muslim view, remember that anything Mohammed did as reported by reliable witnesses is permissible in the eyes of Allah.
           4)the veneration of saints.

        All of these run counter to orthodox Sunni practice.  So while people in the West may view Shi'a as being somehow more fanatical, principally because of modern events in Iran, there is far more to it than that.  

        "The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." -- Edmund Burke

        by GulfExpat on Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 11:07:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Basra is becoming a "mini Islamic state" (none)
      backed by Iran...this is what our military is dying for. It can be saved by putting in 100,000 more troops in and staying 25 years...the child King endangers us all.....from MSNBC
      ... Less than 2 percent of attacks in Iraq take place in Basra. British troops patrol without helmets.

      It might seem like life in Basra is better than ever, but just below the surface there is a darker reality. Shiite fundamentalist politicians now govern Basra and are using their private armies to run the city. They have banned alcohol, forced more women to veil and kidnapped and killed reporters

      .... The owners of one music store told us the militias threatened to close them down. "There's no freedom here," said the shopkeeper. "The militias are the police."

      .......... The people of Basra tell us the central government has very little authority here. They say that the militias are in charge and that the police are helping them. Even the police chief says he doesn't trust 60 percent of his force.

      .... So, who are the militias?

      One is the Badr Brigade, trained and funded by Iran -- a group that has been accused of assassinations and of torturing Sunni rivals.

      Another militia is loyal to hard-line cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. British diplomats told NBC News an offshoot of Sadr's group in September attacked British troops, who were then kidnapped by police.

      "You don't know who is on your side," says Capt. Steve Monteith, with Britain's 1st Battalion, Highlanders, "and, unfortunately, for a lot of time here, I don't think you are going to know who is on your side."

      Amjed Saad, a reporter for the local TV station, says Iran is turning Basra into a mini-Islamic state under its influence.

      "We have 40 Islamic parties just in Basra," he says. "Many are backed by Iran."

      And those parties are now pushing for the region to be autonomous -- oil-rich, hard-line and tied to Iran.

      "Sun Myung Moon has more to do with our nation's political climate than anyone. Anyone!" - moonboots

      by moonboots on Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 07:58:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perfectly credible (none)
        This report is quite credible.  As we can see in Egypt now, too: given democratic elections, most of the middle east would choose an Islamic government.  

        Anyone with a smidgen of knowledge about the area would have known that going in.  Bush of course has never been known for knowing anything as quantifiably immense as an entire smidgen, but there's no excuse for the neo-cons, or for anyone around Bush.      

        Many in the middle east don't see the point in holding periodic elections; one leader should last a lifetime.  Which only sounds odd until you consider our members of the Senate and House, most of whom will be lifelong members or very close to it.  Aren't people somewhere still voting for Strom?

        Power corrupts. Hey, let's learn it the hard way!

        by Bob Love on Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 09:03:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  worse than that (none)
          in the past where there have been modernist, western-style democratic movements in the Middle East, it's been the UK and US who have sabotaged them - because actually having the proles make their own laws is unacceptable, and choose a government strong enough to stand up for them and to Exxon/British Petroleum. It isn't just Mossadegh in the 50s - the whole history of Britain in Egypt, whose seat at the table in the Great Game we took over, after they ran through all their credit, is nothing but support of dictators over popular movements both reactionary-religious and progressive, since the days when Kipling was writing about it.

          "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

          by bellatrys on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 04:28:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Recommended (4.00)
    nothing could better illustrate just how clueless these morons are.

    Just evil enough to perpetrate endless bloodshed.  Not smart enough to accomplish anything by it.

    Think Ernest Stavro Blofeld with an IQ of about 90.

    At least the Romans got material goods and slaves out of their imperial conquests.  It was evil with a practical application.

    These guys can't even bring home the bacon they're so fucking clueless.  How do you invade a country to take their oil, and then fuck up the burglarly?...

  •  What tends to piss me off . . . (none)

     . . . is how we told so many friends, family and acquaintances that IT.  IS.  IMPORTANT.  that the President of the United States actually be the kind of person who's cracked a book, done a little traveling and actually wants to know a bit about the world and other cultures.

     But nooooooooooooo, that stuff'll all just work itself out if he "surrounds himself with experienced people."

     Sheesh -  that man would be a poor used car salesman, and we (well, not us) make him friggin' President!

     And, well, here ya go.


    . . . religion is not a syllogism, but a poem. H.L. Mencken

    by BenGoshi on Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 07:32:07 PM PST

    •  but he's the guy you'd like to have a beer with (none)
      except he's recovering (supposedly)

      When are people gonna get the shadow White House thing?

      on 9/11 Cheney sent Bush off to the plains to hide while he (Dick) called the shots at the WH.  Groups outside the normals chain of command making recommendations and policy parallel to DOD CIA and NSA.  It's a shadow government.

      But all the right-wing Christians should be happy 'cause Bush is born-again.

  •  Anyone remember the old SNL skit (none)
    with Reagan:  "Yas Sir"  

    "No Yassar"

    "Yes Sir"


    "No Sir"

    or something along those lines?

    Truth is more disturbing than art.

  •  Eh What the fuck (none)
    They are all brown, what's the difference?
  •  And let us not forget: (none)
    In speaking to the president of Brazil: "Do you have blacks, too?

    (For the record, snopes regards the story as unconfirmed.)

    The Republican party: An alliance of madness and greed.

    by jem6x on Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 07:54:13 PM PST

  •  He probably had them mixed up (none)
    with Sunni and Cher.

    Is America finally suffering from Idiot Fatigue?

    by LarryInNYC on Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 07:56:20 PM PST

  •  Total moron.... (none)
    I've been saying it since I found out he existed....
  •  This acutally was reported ... (none)
    a month or two after the invasion, but from the POV of the three members of the Iraqi opposition (one of whom was Chalabi).  They were astonished that Bush was surprised to learn that there were religious factions within Iraq and with Islam.  

    I don't recall where or when I saw the story, and certainly it wasn't picked up by anyone else.  But in those days I scrutinized news (printed, of course - by then tv news was completely worthless) very closely for such nuggets of actual content.

    Bush knows little or nothing of the world beyond his weekly talking points, and often forgets them very quickly afterward.

    Power corrupts. Hey, let's learn it the hard way!

    by Bob Love on Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 09:11:36 PM PST

    •  Like mindlessly repeating (none)
      Iraq, terrorism, freedom and all to someone trying to get the Pres to focus on HIS country, trying to borrow a paltry $50 million to keep things stable......  we lent them $10 million. clusterf--k..... a world-wide clusterf--k
  •  This is the guy (none)
    ... who couldn't tell a conservative from a neocon... an tough UN negotiator from a psycho... a psychofantic staff member from a supreme court nominee... a failed horse show barker from a world-class emergency response manager... Darth Cheney from a senior elder statesmen... a press release from a war plan... I could go on, but I think you get it.

    I'm suprised he could even tell the Sunni's from the Kurds. I want this guy to back away from the white house with his hands up.

    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. ~~ Mohandas Gandhi

    by TimeTogether on Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 09:36:42 PM PST

  •  Maybe Money Doesn't Matter in Education (none)
    Evidently, you can go to Andover, Yale, AND Harvard and still be an idiot.

    I love the smell of impeachment in the morning!

    by gabbardd on Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 09:59:33 PM PST

  •  Dr. Rice? (none)
    Wasn't she George Bush's tutor on world affairs?
    Can anybody find out what, if anything, she taught him about Islam and The Middle East?
  •  what the hell does this have to do (none)
    with clearing brush in Crawford again?

    .. oh, right

    "It's hard work, this thinkin' thing"

    "Symplerovus vulgaris americanus" - nasty unindicted co-conspirator. -7.63, -9.59

    by shpilk on Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 10:51:31 PM PST

  •  Oh Sure (none)
    It's a little like the difference between catholics and protestants had that lately helped fuel a war between Iraq and Ira costing a generation its boys.

    Groan. I'm not surprised and yet... Somehow I am. The question is what other basic facts doesn't Bush know to this date? And how much smarter is Cheney really?

    9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

    by NewDirection on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:28:54 AM PST

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