Sunday, August 28, 2005

Have pity on them...

...because I swear, they just can't help themselves. The lies come so thick, so fast, so naturally - well, I just figure that the poor boys just can't help it any more. Even when they have to know they'll be found out, even when the lies are so transparently silly that they are not only pointless, they are even unnecessary, they still tell them. Such pitiable creatures.

I refer, of course, to our favorite joined-at-the-hip politicos, George and Tony.

For his part, George is putting on his bravest smile following the failure of negotiations over the draft version of Iraq's constitution.
Citing Sunni objections, he said: "Of course, there's disagreements. Some Sunnis have expressed reservations about various provisions in the constitution and that's their right as free individuals in a free society," the president said.
"Have expressed reservations?" I suppose that's one way to put it.
[T]he 15-member Sunni negotiating team immediately rejected the document, which it called "illegitimate."

"We call upon the Arab League, the United Nations and international organizations to intervene so that this document is not passed and so that the clear defect in it is corrected," said the statement read by Abdel-Nasser al-Janabi.
Yeah, I'd say there are some "reservations" there.

The reality is, the "negotiations" have turned into a power play - secondarily by the Kurds, who were pretty well assured of getting most of what they wanted going in, and primarily by the Shiites, who have forced through a version of federalism that enables them to establish their own autonomous region in the south if they so choose. Their last-minute "concessions," such allowing the details of federalism to be worked out by the parliament scheduled to be elected in December - a parliament they, with 60% of the population, fully expect to dominate - would appear to the Sunnis as meaningless froth.

They view this is a dangerous document that will leave them isolated, cut off from a fair share of the oil wealth, and - with its virtual ban on Baathists being is positions of authority - politically under-represented for at least a generation. An often-overlooked point is the draft's statement that Iraq is part of the Islamic world and its Arab citizens are part of the Arab nation - but it does not say that Iraq is part of the Arab nation. That innocent-sounding statement was supposedly included to ease the minds of Iraq's non-Arab population - but to the Sunnis, it has ominous overtones. To them, being part of the Arab nation means looking west, to Syria, to Jordan, to Saudi Arabia, to Egypt, to the states of the Arabian peninsula. Being part of the Islamic world, on the other hand, they interpret as looking east - to, in particular, the old enemy Iran, which they already suspect of having too much influence over some Shiite politicians and groups (including the leading partner in the Shiite parliamentary coalition: the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI).

Of course, it's not actually that simple or clear-cut: There will be Sunnis who will support the constitution and there will be Shiites who will oppose it (Moqtada al-Sadr is already speaking against it) and there may be splits between religious and secular members of both communities depending on how strong they understand the role of Islam to be in governing and law-making. But overall, it's reasonable to say that Kurds and Shiites will favor the constitution and Sunnis will oppose it. The question is, how strongly; particularly, how strong will the Sunni opposition be?

So what will happen in October? If I'm right, nothing good, no matter the vote. The less likely possibility, in my present subject-to-change opinion, is that the constitution will be rejected and the whole process collapses and has to be started over. That would be a political disaster that would frustrate large parts of the Shiite community and would run the risk of loosing the thus-far-contained anger of the Shiites against the Sunnis. The more likely possibility, I think, is that the constitution will be approved over the objections of a large number of Sunnis who will then feel even more disaffected, regarding the constitution as something forced on them which is harmful to the needs of their community - and the insurgency will grow. Right now it looks to me like a lose-lose proposition.

Keep smiling, Georgie - it's all you have.

As for Tony, well, the lie in question here is a bit older but the smackdown just arrived courtesy of The Sunday Observer (UK). Following the July 7 bombings in London, Tonykins swore up and down that this had nothing to do with the UK's involvement in the occupation of Iraq. Nothing at all. It was the result of a "perverted and poisonous misinterpretation of Islam." It was just, it didn't - well, they just hated our freedom, that's all.

The Foreign Office's top official warned Downing Street that the Iraq war was fuelling Muslim extremism in Britain a year before the 7 July bombings, The Observer can reveal.

Despite repeated denials by Number 10 that the war made Britain a target for terrorists, a letter from Michael Jay, the Foreign Office permanent under-secretary, to the cabinet secretary, Sir Andrew Turnbull - obtained by this newspaper - makes the connection clear.

The letter, dated 18 May 2004, says British foreign policy was a 'recurring theme' in the Muslim community, 'especially in the context of the Middle East peace process and Iraq'. ...

Attached to the letter is a strategy document, also obtained by The Observer, which reveals further concerns. It says Britain is now viewed as a 'crusader state', on a par with America as a potential target. 'Muslim resentment towards the West is worse than ever,' the document, 'Building Bridges with Mainstream Islam', says.
The letter, which can be seen in its entirety at this link, notes other causes of Muslim anger, including "discrimination, disadvantage and exclusion," but says that British foreign policy "plays a significant role in creating a feeling of anger and impotence" that "seems to be a key driver behind recruitment by extremist organisations."

In other words, Tony, you were told that Muslims in the UK were feeling angry and excluded. You knew. You knew that your foreign policy was making it worse. You knew the anger was building and you knew why. You knew it for well over a year. And yet you still had the nerve, even as the blood of your citizens was flowing you had the gall to stand up there and declare that this didn't have anything to do with you, oh no, not one single blessed little thing. You are a liar, Tony. A liar and a moral coward.

No wonder you and George get along so well.

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