I'm currently increasingly convinced there is no direction in Iraq but out, and the only question is whether it's before or after the election. Before, and it would be a politically fatal admission of his blunderhood, so we can basically rest assured that Dubya will not bring the troops home by Christmas. Doesn't matter how many soldiers and Iraqis do the resting, as in RIP.
The context that got me thinking about this involved considering the Israeli policies towards the Palestinians as models of the American policies in Iraq. However, I think this is only peripherally relevant to the situation in Iraq, and mostly it only serves as another bad example of how to handle such situations. As an American I'd actually prefer to use the American Revolution as the bad example. At least it's a "bad example" from the perspective of King George III. The bottom line is that all such examples show that lots of people are willing to fight very hard when they believe they are fighting for their freedom. Sometimes that's religious freedom, but the exact nature of "freedom" doesn't seem to matter much. Yes, there have been many historical cases when the "freedom fighters" or "terrorists" or "patriots" or "criminals" (depending on who won and who's speaking) do lose in their struggles, but people have a tendency to persist in such struggles, and in the end, I think they usually win--unless they are exterminated as a people. Freedom is a really powerful motivation.
Right now it certainly seems like a large number of Iraqis have decided they are fighting for their political freedom (or national identity). The alternative is remaining in (or returning to) the status of being an American client or puppet state. Other Iraqis apparently believe they are fighting for their religious freedom--and one can scarcely blame them with lunatics like Ann Coulter on BushCo's side. Probably Dubya, too, though he hasn't actually publicly said their leaders should be slaughtered and the masses forcibly converted to Christianity the way Coulter did. I actually doubt that these "freedom fighting" groups are a majority of Iraqis, but there are two funny aspects there.
First, if you took a poll of Americans at the time of the Revolution, I bet that most of them would have said it was a bad or crazy idea. Completely nuts to fight the British supreme-superpower-of-that-day. Actually, it was kind of amazing we did win, and the war would have dragged on if the French navy hadn't helped out at just that moment.
Second, Dubya is not and never has been worried about acting for the majority of Americans--only about dragging or suckering enough of them along. Obviously Dubya's only real interests were in getting into power, and then in using that power to do what he wanted to do anyway. King George II?
Returning to the latest screwups in Iraq, apparently BushCo has changed their minds again on the Falluja mess. We don't actually like THAT general, but we want one of Saddam's OTHER generals to take over the mess. We'll trade that popular general for another general to be named later? Crazy.
My guess on the REAL situation is that BushCo realized this guy was too popular. They actually managed to talk to some Iraqis, and they discovered that they regarded this "solution" as an Iraqi victory. Allowing the Americans to be defeated would be a BIG mistake. If the Americans get "whipped" anywhere in Iraq, the whole country is liable to go nuts, and we can't allow any more of that, can we? So now the Marines have stopped withdrawing and are preparing to counterattack again. Or maybe not. Or maybe...
There have been a number of comments about the significance of the prisoner abuses, but so far not much light has been shed. For now, I still believe those sorts of problems are inevitable in these sorts of situations, but on some reflection, I'm kind of surprised we got our American hands dirty there. I actually thought that handling these sorts of things was part of our secret understandings with the Kurds. Very difficult to speculate when BushCo is so big on secrecy, but if there was such a clause, then the actual problem is probably much larger than revealed so far, since most of it would have been passed along to the Kurds for discreet "handling". (An additional reason to read Dean's new book? Apparently argues that BushCo is even more abusive of power than the Nixon gang. It would be interesting to compare the chronology of abuses in Vietnam.)
Can't remember where to credit this, but it definitely belongs in the humor category. It was supposed to be an analysis of possible political solutions to the mess. Remember Colin Powell? No? Well, anyway, if you could remember him, he's supposed to be involved in that sort of diplomatic stuff. But the hilarious part was saying that a "broader political solution" could have made it possible to use Indian troops to get the numbers needed for the occupation of Iraq. Riiiiiiiight. Anyone else remember that the whole idea of India was to get the Muslims out of there? Not even BushCo could claim that the Iraqis would greet the Indian troops with flowers.
In the tragedy category, I was reading about an entire outfit who got their chain yanked real hard. They'd finished their long hitch in Iraq, turned their heavy equipment over to their replacements, and even shipped their personal effects home. And then they got new orders to stay in Iraq. Shock and awe big time. The shock was the orders, but the awesome part is that Rumsfeld thinks they'll be happy about it. All 'dem soldiers be lil' Colin Powells, right?