29 October, 2008

The Coming Bloodbath

Two kinds of civil war on the horizon. First up, Iraq:

Via Kevin Drum comes a piece in the NYT looking at the powderkeg of factional tensions in Mosul.

The Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is squeezing out Kurdish units of the Iraqi Army from Mosul, sending the national police and army from Baghdad and trying to forge alliances with Sunni Arab hard-liners in the province, who have deep-seated feuds with the Kurdistan Regional Government led by Massoud Barzani.

....“It’s the perfect storm against the old festering background,” warned Brig. Gen. Raymond A. Thomas III, who oversees Nineveh and Kirkuk Provinces and the Kurdish region. Worry is so high that the American military has already settled on a policy that may set a precedent, as the United States slowly withdraws to allow Iraqis to settle their own problems. If the Kurds and Iraqi government forces fight, the American military will “step aside,” General Thomas said, rather than “have United States servicemen get killed trying to play peacemaker.”

Question: so what the fuck are we still doing there? And is this why Iraq's running out the clock on the UN mandate that allows us a patina of legitimacy? That's up on December 31st, and everyone assumed we'd be there far longer, but it seems like Baghdad has other ideas. You see, Maliki's been playing silly buggers with the Bush regime again. He's learned to "negotiate" with the invaders of his country:

What you do is this. You set up a deadline and force the White House to negotiate with you as it nears. You ask for major concessions and never stop asking for them. When the White House demurs, you say loudly to the press that there is likely to be no deal. Eventually, the White House will concede to your demands, but try to structure it in such a way that they can still get what they want. At that point, you agree to the deal, then take it back to your constituents, listen to their concerns, and turn right around and reject the terms.

Fearing political division in the parliament and in his country, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki won't sign the just-completed agreement on the status of U.S. forces in Iraq, a leading lawmaker said Friday.

The new accord's demise would be a major setback for the Bush administration, which has been seeking to establish a legal basis for the extended presence of the 151,000 U.S. troops in this country, and for Iraq, which won notable concessions in the draft accord reached a week ago.

"No, he will not" submit the agreement to the parliament, Sheikh Jalal al Din al Sagheer, the deputy head of the Shiite Muslim Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, told McClatchy. "For this matter, we need national consensus."

I don't think Maliki is some kind of genius - signing this or really any agreement with the United States at this point would be political suicide. But the idea of "listening to constituents" is something that nobody in this country has bothered to consider when dealing with the Bush Administration for the past 8 years.

They might want to give Baghdad a ring.

It's a nice idea, but it won't be Republicons calling. They're too busy sharpening their knives in preparation for a civil war of their own:

Time will tell the extent to which Republicans have a rough election cycle, but rival intra-party factions are already gearing up for a post-election fight for the future of the party. The message from the base seems rather straightforward: "Screw moderation."

The social conservatives and moderates who together boosted the Republican Party to dominance have begun a tense battle over the future of the GOP, with social conservatives already moving to seize control of the party's machinery and some vowing to limit John McCain's influence, even if he wins the presidency.

In skirmishes around the country in recent months, evangelicals and others who believe Republicans have been too timid in fighting abortion, gay marriage and illegal immigration have won election to the party's national committee, in preparation for a fight over the direction and leadership of the party.

The growing power of religious conservatives is alarming some moderate Republicans who believe that the party's main problem is that it has narrowed its appeal and alienated too many voters.

The first battle in the larger war will apparently be fought over the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee. Far-right conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh and some state party chairs, are already arguing that they will choose the next party leader, even if McCain wins the presidency.

South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson insisted this is necessary, arguing that "moderating our party is what caused us to lose power" in 2006.

This is not an uncommon sentiment among leaders of the Republican base -- they seriously believe voters would be far more likely to support the GOP if party leaders were more right-wing. What's more, if things don't go well for the party seven days from now, these activists will push this line very aggressively as the party starts to put the pieces back together, whether it makes sense or not.

Good. Let them battle it out. Our only task will be standing far enough to the side so as not to get hit by the shrapnel. Much like what our military plans to do if civil war breaks out in Iraq.

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