What We Knew About the Shiites

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One of the more neglected points about the Downing Street Memos is not that they prove that the Bush administration lied and cooked up a shoddy legal justification to go to war with Iraq. They certainly suggest that, but even more damningly, they show that the Bush administration had no idea what it was getting into. Did they know anything about the internal workings of Iraq? One of the memos, the Options Paper has this little tidbit: “Most Shia would like to have a greater say in government but not necessarily control.” Oh, whoops. Maybe that explains why the CPA was so befuddled when Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani demanded that the Americans drop their plan to install their allies and hold direct elections.

Meanwhile, might I add, for anyone considering—oh, I don’t know—an invasion of Syria, that at least in Iraq we had the benefit of Iraqi exile groups giving us some information about the internal dynamics of the country. In Syria we know even less.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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