A new survey by WorldPublicOpinion.org reveals the depth of Iraqi antipathy towards the contiued American presence in their country. Now a solid majority of all Iraqis, including once pro-U.S. Baghdad Shias, say they want us out of there in a year:
Eight out of ten Shias in Baghdad (80%) say they want foreign forces to leave within a year (72% of Shias in the rest of the country), according to a poll conducted by World Public Opinion in September. None of the Shias polled in Baghdad want U.S.-led troops to be reduced only "as the security situation improves," a sharp decline from January, when 57 percent of the Shias polled by WPO in the capital city preferred an open-ended U.S presence.
This brings Baghdad Shias in line with the rest of the country. Seven out of ten Iraqis overallincluding both the Shia majority (74%) and the Sunni minority (91%)say they want the United States to leave within a year.
One statistical difference worth noting: Baghdad Shias, unlike most other Iraqis, do not favor disarming sectarian militias even though 59% say a U.S. withdrawal will lead to more interethnic violence. That's not just a sign of how bad things are in the capital but also an ominous hint of the power struggle to come. But while the U.S. may be providing a temporary buffer, that doesn't mean it's seen as the good guy who simply needs to holster his gun and ride into the sunset. Nearly 60% of all Shias say they support attacks on American-led troops. And 100% of Baghdad Sunnis and 91% of Sunnis elsewhere say they approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces.
I try to ignore press releases like this, but this post-election PR stunt caught my attention when it popped into my inbox:
After the mid-term elections, six senators and twenty-one representatives are now out of a job, with five House incumbents still waiting to hear. To help these civic-minded men and women in their search for a new career and a new life, Ten Speed Press is donating a copy of What Color Is Your Parachute?the world's best-selling job-hunting, career-changing, and soul-searching manualto every incumbent who lost a seat in the election. Books have been mailed out and will arrive on the desks of the outgoing legislators in time for Christmas.
Pretty cleverwho knew that book was even still around? I like this bit of career advice for soon-to-be former California Rep. Richard Pombo, who has said he will become a lobbyist for property-rights (read: anti-environmental) groups as soon as the revolving door is opened for him: "Mr. Pombo may be an experienced agenda-pusher, but perhaps he may be better suited for a job as an actuary or a florist." I dunno. I think Pombo's parachute is any color but green.
In today's Gitmo news... The Miami Herald reports that the Pentagon has big plans for the detention center therea $75 million-plus "legal compound" to house the long-awaited military commissions. Some features of the offshore hall of justice:
It would have two courtrooms; housing for up to 1,200 U.S. forces, lawyers, members of the news media and other visitors; a 100-car motor pool; an 800-person dining facility; conference and closed-circuit television facilities and a secure work space for classified material.
Amnesty International has slammed the Pentagon for planning "a permanent homage to its failed experiment in second-class justice." The scheme still has to get through Congress.
Meanwhile, a federal judge has denied a prisoner's request to get a cardiac procedure off-site. The prisoner is Saifullah Paracha, AKA Detainee 1094, who needs a cardiac catheterization.
Paracha's lawyer said that his client complained that several simple diagnostic examinations were not performed adequately by doctors at Guantanamo Naval Hospital. Gaillard Hunt, Paracha's lawyer, said that his client has had his hands and feet shackled when being examined at the base hospital and that several attempts to perform an electrocardiogram, or EKG, proved difficult for base medical staff.
The judge said he was "troubled by the shackling allegations," but ruled against Paracha anyway. Paracha caught our attention a few months ago for being a bit of a wise guy in one of his tribunal hearings.
And in a quiet milestone, the U.S. has released "the last remaining Guantanamo detainees determined to be no longer enemy combatants." The three prisoners are being sent to Albania, leaving behind 430 detainees in Cuba, awaiting their day in the shiny new coutroom.
Fast Food Nation, Richard Linklater's movie adaptation of Eric Schlosser's seemingly unadaptable muckraking book, hits theaters today. Before you dig in, whet your appetite with our recent interview with Linklater and our review of the flim. And check out this piece Schlosser wrote for MJ about slaughterhousesAmerica's most dangerous workplaces. Bon apetit!
That's the question posed by Tom Engelhardt in a new piece that deflates some of the hype surrounding the retun of Robert Gates and Jim Baker. The conventional wisdom is that "daddy's boys" have arrived to (once again) save George W. Bush's butt from a fiasco of his own making. (See this week's Newsweek cover for the short version of this satisfying pop psych-meets-poli sci analysis.) But Engelhardt suspects that rather than advocating redeployment or withdrawal, Gates and Baker may just prolong our involvement by signing onto the recently floated plans to send more troops to give it the old school try:
...[P]erhaps the disaster behind us will be nothing compared to the disaster ahead, especially if Daddy's Boys, the Iraq Study Group, other Democratic and Republican movers and shakers, and all those generals and former generals floating around our world decide that this isn't the moment to rediscover a Colin Powell-style "exit strategy," but "one last chance" to succeed by any definition in Iraq. Then, god help us -- and the Iraqis. Sooner or later, we'll undoubtedly be gone from a land so determinedly hostile to being occupied by us, but that end moment could still be a long, long time in coming.
Here, for instance, is Robert Gates' thinking eighteen months ago in a seminar at the Panetta Institute at California State University in Monterey on "phased troop withdrawals" from Iraq:
"But Mr. Gates qualified his comments, noting it sometimes takes time to accomplish your goals. Sixty years after the end of the Second World War, 'there are still American troops in Germany,' he noted. 'We've had troops in Korea for over 50 years. The British have had troops in Cyprus for 40 years If you want to change history, you have to be prepared to stay as long as it takes to do the job."
So hold onto your hats. Tragedy and more tragedy seems almost guaranteed, and the Pentagon has just submitted to Congress a staggering $160 billion supplemental appropriation request in order to continue its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Engelhardt says we should expect "endless months or years of non-withdrawal withdrawal plans" combined with preparations for a permanent American presence in Iraq (a story that hasn't received much mainstream attention but was covered in MJlast year.) George Bush Sr.'s cavalry may have arrived, but we're far from being rescued.