The second surprise is that many people really like Americans. Locals would cross the street, smiling, and ask, “Are you American?” If I sat down outside a mosque or museum, young people would come up to talk about culture and life in the States. They all had satellite dishes. “Sure, they’re illegal,” they’d say, “but everyone on my street has one.” One young bearded man told me he particularly enjoyed The Simpsons but was baffled by Fox News. Students gave me their e-mail addresses—Yahoo and Hotmail—wondering if I would help with their English homework. “Can you tell me what American writers to read?” asked one youth.
Late one afternoon in Isfahan, I was approached by a college student named Elam, who said her professor wanted her to practice her English. She launched immediately into a complaint about her parents being overly protective and warning her about her excessively Western appearance. Elam had obvious, though artfully applied, eye makeup and a tailored black coat that showed her slim waist. She hoped, she said, to get away and to do graduate work in the United States: “If I keep my grades up, the U.S. school will pay my tuition, and then I can get a job teaching.” I told her that might be difficult.
“I’m only a freshman,” she said. “In four years everything will be different.”
This year, 58 percent of the freshman classes in Iranian universities are women, said our Iranian tour guide, Ali Sadrnia. Elam was one of the 70 percent of Iran’s 70 million population under the age of 30. In the 1980s the ruling religious leaders encouraged large families; now the mosques hand out condoms. This is a generation with no direct memory of the Shah, the U.S. hostages, or America as the Great Satan. They cruise the Internet with ease; when the advisory “Access Denied” pops up, they figure out a way to use a proxy. It’s a very hard time to be an authoritarian theocracy.
A few months ago I saw Diane Sawyer interview the president of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He managed to make it into that rare club of individuals that I took an instant dislike. His wore his arrogance like a shield and used even the simplest answer to the most basic questions an opportunity chance to be condescending and engage in the kind of political doublespeak that was eerily like Dick Cheney. His attitude was how could a woman possibly understand the complexities of politics and international relations. There are probably worse spokesmen for Iran, but they are hard to imagine. Still Ahmadinejad just didn’t seem to represent the Iranian people in much the same way that Bush and his supporters do not represent America. There are similarities. Ahmadinejad is their bastard and Bush is ours. Given a choice no matter how much the general population may have a desire to talk and work out differences they will rally round their bastard rather when their are threats have been pumped up bigger then a brightly colored plastic backyard pool.
Just a suggestion for a poll by one of the more high traffic liberal blogs like Daily Kos or Atrios: What is the most absurd talking points things that the Bush administration keeps hammering away at? High up on that poll would have to be – if we don’t stay in Iraq Al Qaeda will have a safe haven – and of course from that safe haven they will launch countless attacks at America targets. America will the foreseeable future will see Americans kill more of their fellow Americans in fits of rage then Muslim terrorists will. Ask a cop from any medium to large city what night of the week they dread most. In America Saturday night is hit the spouse, beat the kids, and kick the dog night and you can safely bet that some twit will use a gun to show some other twit how tough he is. Just some advice to Al Qaeda should they decide to all get in their little row boats and paddle over here; stay out of red neck bars or hey on the other hand maybe that is the first place they should go – the great jihadist invasion will then end within a few hours. Six Questions for Marc Lynch on Iraq, the “Surge,” and Al Qaeda
2. What is going on in Anbar?
There really is a palpable turn there against Al Qaeda, that isn’t just the usual wishful thinking that so often takes the place of real analysis. A lot of people have interpreted this as a sign of American strength, that the Sunni tribes are shifting to the winning side. It’s actually just the opposite, it’s a defensive reaction by Sunnis to Al Qaeda’s increasing strength and aggressiveness. Sunni resentment of Al Qaeda in Iraq really dates to last October, long before the “surge,” when Al Qaeda declared the Islamic State of Iraq. A lot of us thought at the time that they did this for strictly propaganda purposes, but it developed into an aggressive bid for hegemony over the entire insurgency. The Islamic State of Iraq became very aggressive towards other insurgency groups and local Sunnis, intimidating ordinary people, declaring them to be non-Muslims, and using that as a justification for seizing property and killing leaders of other groups. This created a backlash; we’re seeing an open turn against Al Qaeda not just by local tribal sheiks and ordinary people but also by the leaders of the insurgency.
Does that sound even remotely like anything we’re hearing from Bush or the evening news. If their fellow Sunnis have turned against them where are they going to turn to for help should America redeploy? The Shia supported by Iran who also hates Al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda wants the United States to stay in Iraq as long as possible. It gets tremendous benefits from having American troops close at hand to kill – Iraq is the primary source of its propaganda and recruitment, and an integral part of its global strategy. They really want to turn Iraq into a base for exporting global jihad. But these major insurgency factions are focused on driving Americans out of Iraq and creating a political system that gives Sunnis a reasonable stake in politics.
Not that this sound reasonable assessment matters. Bush is saving us from the gravest threat against America since Hitler and his army rolled across Europe.
Democrats are smarter and more compassionate then Republicans. Notice that when they leave their two best qualities home alone while they play Political Ploy the game of clever moves they lose more often then not, Dems set war bill without Iraq timeline
In grudging concessions to President Bush, Democrats intend to draft an Iraq war-funding bill without a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and shorn of billions of dollars in spending on domestic programs, officials said Monday.
The legislation would include the first federal minimum wage increase in more than a decade, a top priority for the Democrats who took control of Congress in January, the officials added.
While details remain subject to change, the measure is designed to close the books by Friday on a bruising veto fight between Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress over the war. It would provide funds for military operations in Iraq through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.
Democrats in both houses are expected to seek other opportunities later this year to challenge Bush’s handling of the unpopular conflict.
Democrats should be on their gravest faces of concern and start talking endlessly about the NSA, signing statement, Bush’s lies and distortions of the National Intelligence Estimate followed by threats involving high crimes and misdemeanors then this time line thing would probably be moving along much faster. Harry Reid must know how to play poker I wonder why he isn’t betting that Bush doesn’t have the political capital to stop impeachment proceedings.
Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Artur Davis (D-Ala.) introduced a resolution Monday urging President Bush to fire Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
The two lawmakers, both of whom are former federal prosecutors, are highly critical of Gonzales’s handling of the firing of several U.S. attorneys. Their resolution also states that the attorney general has failed to “assure the public that the laws of the nation are being enforced in an independent, nonpartisan and judicious manner.”
This no-confidence stuff isn’t meaningless, but if they’re going to go to all the trouble of soliciting votes why not just move ahead with impeachment against Gonzo. People like Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich and Jerry Falwell long ago killed playing compromise and be nice politics.
“The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.” – Winston Churchill