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Thread: Basra transition

  1. #41
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I think the answer to your question depends

    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    How much money and blood should we invest in supporting something that is inherently unstable?
    on what you're investing the blood and money for. Is it a stable democracy? That would seem to merit X amount of both. If the prospect of achieving that is less than good; then X-p or perhaps even 0 would seem appropriate. If OTOH, you're investing those two things in something else and a democracy of some sort is simply a desired but not imperative by product; that sort of changes the equation, doesn't it?

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    a democracy of some sort is simply a desired but not imperative by product; that sort of changes the equation, doesn't it?
    True enough, but I think that most of the guys here are fighting for freedom and democracy. It really makes me angry that they're being lied to: even if it doesn't make them angry.

    Of course, if most of the people here agree with Ken about the reasons why you're fighting I guess I should have a beer, chill and thank you all for being so nice to me, helping me learn and for all the intelligent conversation.
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.

  3. #43
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Post I'm not sure their one in the same

    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    True enough, but I think that most of the guys here are fighting for freedom and democracy. It really makes me angry that they're being lied to: even if it doesn't make them angry.

    Of course, if most of the people here agree with Ken about the reasons why you're fighting I guess I should have a beer, chill and thank you all for being so nice to me, helping me learn and for all the intelligent conversation.
    There has more often than not been cost of blood and treasure in fighting wars somewhere other than our backyards. The fact that the battle is there instead of here and may not result in good ol American style democracy so to speak does not really have anything to do with whether they are defending our democracy. They are doing what they do in order to assure we get to continue to enjoy what we have without suffering at the hands of those they are fighting.

    Thats the crux of what Ken is pointing to. It's not always a zero-sum math problem being addressed but more often than not has to do with so may variables in the ether that although one may not be privy to, really do matter a lot to the end result of it all.
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  4. #44
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I don't think anyone is being lied to and I think most

    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    True enough, but I think that most of the guys here are fighting for freedom and democracy. It really makes me angry that they're being lied to: even if it doesn't make them angry.

    Of course, if most of the people here agree with Ken about the reasons why you're fighting I guess I should have a beer, chill and thank you all for being so nice to me, helping me learn and for all the intelligent conversation.
    of them accept the reality that Ron cites above. A lot of that 'fighting for freedom and democracy' stuff is political hype but it's mostly true if you put it in context. There's also the fact that what may be freedom for some doesn't seem like it to you but to them it's a major change and improvement. Lots of relativity out there.

    I'll also suggest one more time that you continue to ascribe thoughts to me that are grossly incorrect, or in this case, placed out of context in a pejorative mode. If you need to do that, fine.

    If you're angry, perhaps you should figure out why you are and work on that. I'm pretty sure most of the guys don't think they're being lied to so if that's all you're angry about, I suspect you can relax a bit.

  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Not to mention that 'democracy' in the ME will always be inherently unstable and unlike its western approximations -- there is and will be no counterpart.
    Democracy's western approximations range from the streets of Sao Paolo and Cali to Germany, Greece and Italy in the 1970s and 80s to the quiet hills of Vermont. At some point, the literature really needs to stop abusing the word "stability."
    PH Cannady
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  6. #46
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default True. Stability is a myth. Well, not a myth exactly

    Quote Originally Posted by Presley Cannady View Post
    Democracy's western approximations range from the streets of Sao Paolo and Cali to Germany, Greece and Italy in the 1970s and 80s to the quiet hills of Vermont. At some point, the literature really needs to stop abusing the word "stability."
    but it sure is a lot more elusive than most would like -- and even the quiet hills of Ben and Jerry can be disrupted on occasion. Instability is, I think, a pretty normal human condition and we're just sort of spoiled in the greater west, have been for a while -- but there's no guarantee at all that will continue indefinitely...

  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    but it sure is a lot more elusive than most would like -- and even the quiet hills of Ben and Jerry can be disrupted on occasion. Instability is, I think, a pretty normal human condition and we're just sort of spoiled in the greater west, have been for a while -- but there's no guarantee at all that will continue indefinitely...
    Depends on where in the West you live. The US has the highest homicide rate amongst OECD nations, and half of that occurs in cities like my Big Apple. My point is that "stability" is as much a nonsense word as "normalcy" as used in political discourse. In fact, I'd go as far to say it's a word scholars can use without being reflexively attacked for lazily "normalcy" around. It permits well paid, supposedly bright folks at CSIS to make criticisms about policy by appealing to ridiculously idealized caricatures of Western democracy that better resemble "Leave It To Beaver" or "Richie Rich" than anything in the real world.
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  8. #48
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    Default Other Issues At Play Here? Looks like there are...

    ...other issues which exist, which are being ignored (or not understood) by the media. For example:

    Iraq takes licensing step, but E&P fiscal policy murky
    Ferruh Demirmen

    The invitation extended early this month by Iraq’s Ministry of Oil to international oil companies (IOCs) to preregister by Jan. 31 for exploration and production licensing rounds has no doubt attracted much interest in the industry (OGJ Online, Jan. 3, 2008).

    In its announcement, the ministry requested the applicant companies to provide a comprehensive list of information, from company bylaws to tax compliance record to HSE policy. The ministry will use the information to select those companies that will be allowed to compete for upstream projects in the country. The scope of information requested for qualification may set a new standard in the industry.

    But IOCs are still mainly in the dark as to Iraq’s fiscal policy. Timing of the first licensing round is also unclear.
    Link to Article

    Iraq made the first set of awards on 03.27.2008:
    1. Royal Dutch Shell - Kirkuk (10 Bil Bbl. reserves)
    2. Shell / BHP Billiton - MIssan (3 Bil Bbl. reserves)
    3. Chevron/Total - W Qurna 1 (15-20 Bil Bbl. reserves)
    4. Exxon Mobil - Zubair (5 Bil Bbl. reserves)
    5. BP - Rumaila N and Rumaila S - (16 Bil Bbl. reserves)

    Note that (1) is up North, the other four are all in the South. To get the process started, you have to have stability. Basra is the gateway for commerce - if it's substantially under militia control, the whole effort is going to be stillborn.

    This could easily explain the Maliki government's abrupt effort to take control from the militia elements in and around Basra.

    Then throw in one other factor. The Interior Ministry has been heavily influenced, if not controlled by employees who are allegedly supporters of JAM and Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Could the crackdown possibly be a way for the Maliki government to identify al-Sadr supporters within the different Ministries, and have them fired from their jobs?

    Talk about a conundrum - Politics vrs. Religion vrs. Big money economics.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by Watcher In The Middle; 03-30-2008 at 07:49 PM. Reason: Got to get my HTML coding down.

  9. #49
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    Default Factors

    Talk about a conundrum - Politics vrs. Religion vrs. Big money economics.
    The underlying importance of the oil fields cannot be overlooked in Iraq cannot be overlooked. Kirkuk remains a potential flash point until an acceptable deal is made on how to share the wealth from their oil fields. According to business journal reports the recent Shi'a unrest in the South has significantly disrupted oil flow in the South (the largest and most productive fields). Regardless of the reason for the conflict (religion, ethnic conflict, political struggles), the grand prize for any of these groups appears to be gaining control (or influence) over the oil fields for obvious reasons. That begs the question, how do you choke off their funds if you have to buy their product?

    None of this is new, there have been and are similiar conundrums around the world. However, I don't believe Sad'r is so popular that he can't be marginalized (I reserve the right to be wrong). The Shi'a areas under Sad'r control are ghetto's, so this is a case where the Iraqi government "could" offer them a much better deal than Sad'r, if they can defeat his militia. Sad're is already calling for a cease fire of sorts, like he did after the fiasco in he created in Karbala. He has a habit of frequently miscalculating.

  10. #50
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Arrow Ill just stick to

    Quote Originally Posted by Watcher In The Middle View Post
    ...other issues which exist, which are being ignored (or not understood) by the media. For example:

    thinking your a lot closer to tracking then many out there(IMHO)
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  11. #51
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Firsthand look at Basra shows value of white flag - NYTIMES, 31 March.

    I walked, ran and crawled into central Basra on Thursday, constantly dropping to the ground because of gun battles between Mahdi Army militiamen and the Iraqi Army and the police.

    The rest of my stay in the city went like this: On Friday evening, the hotel I had somehow found open was showered with bullets, smashing glass on several floors and knocking pieces out of the stone facade. The next morning, Iraqi Interior Ministry forces in a part of the city they supposedly controlled were ambushed with heavy weapons at a hotel 50 yards from mine. On Sunday morning, after I had hired someone to drive me out of the city, an Iraqi soldier fired at our tires but missed. We did not stop.

    Iraqi forces started their assault on the Shiite militias in Basra on Tuesday. Whatever the initial goal of the operation, by the time I arrived in Basra it was a patchwork of neighborhoods that were either deserted or overrun by Mahdi fighters. There were scattered Iraqi Army and police checkpoints, but no place seemed to be truly under government control.

    ...

    Somehow I found another driver to take me within a couple miles of the city center, which I had been told government forces controlled. When that driver would go no farther, I had to walk, but by then I saw trucks filled with Mahdi Army members speeding through the streets wearing black masks and carrying AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades.

    Gun battles broke out unpredictably, so I ran or walked when it was quiet, then dropped down and sought cover when I could hear shooting. After 45 minutes or so, I came upon the Rumaila Hotel in a central neighborhood called Ashar. Amazingly, it was open, with six or seven guests inside and a couple of employees. I was so exhausted I didnít think twice, just checked in.

    The next day I moved around as much as I could. The common observation was this: There was nowhere the Mahdi either did not control or could not strike at will ...

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