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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ignorance and Failure

Finally, a reporter that is asking the right questions of the Bush Administration officials and the politicians that serve us. Jeff Stein’s editorial in today’s New York Times is a revealing glimpse at the ignorance that has contributed to King George’s failure in Iraq. The lack of knowledge about Iraq’s tribalism and religious sectarianism astounds me. Couldn’t anyone read a book or consult the historians and sociologists?

Good Grief!

Did anyone bother to learn about the mainstream Sunni, and the two sectarian groups, Shi’ism and Sufism?

Did anyone bother to try to understand Iraqi tribes?

Jeff Stein’s “Can You Tell a Sunni From a Shiite?” money quotes:

"the 1,400-year Sunni-Shiite rivalry is playing out in the streets of Baghdad, raising the specter of a breakup of Iraq into antagonistic states, one backed by Shiite Iran and the other by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states.

A complete collapse in Iraq could provide a haven for Al Qaeda operatives within striking distance of Israel, even Europe. And the nature of the threat from Iran, a potential nuclear power with protégés in the Gulf states, northern Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, is entirely different from that of Al Qaeda. It seems silly to have to argue that officials responsible for counterterrorism should be able to recognize opportunities for pitting these rivals against each other.

But so far, most American officials I’ve interviewed don’t have a clue. That includes not just intelligence and law enforcement officials, but also members of Congress who have important roles overseeing our spy agencies. How can they do their jobs without knowing the basics?"

And,

"It’s not all so grimly humorous. Some agency officials and members of Congress have easily handled my “gotcha” question. But as I keep asking it around Capitol Hill and the agencies, I get more and more blank stares. Too many officials in charge of the war on terrorism just don’t care to learn much, if anything, about the enemy we’re fighting. And that’s enough to keep anybody up at night."

"Stay the course"? Man, it would have been nice if they had bothered to find a chart of the waters we steamed in to............

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