Wade's World

Just leave it where Jesus flang it.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Euston Manifesto

If this is the future of the Left, we will be in pretty good shape overall:

We are democrats and progressives. We propose here a fresh political alignment. Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the socialist Left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment. Indeed, the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves drawing a line between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values. It involves making common cause with genuine democrats, whether socialist or not.


That may not sound much different than the current configuration of the Left, but once you delve into the stated principles of the Euston Manifesto you find that American, democratic, "liberal" (in the true sense of the word) ideals take prominence.

For example:

2) No apology for tyranny. We decline to make excuses for, to indulgently 'understand', reactionary regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated enemy - regimes that oppress their own peoples and movements that aspire to do so. We draw a firm line between ourselves and those left-liberal voices today quick to offer an apologetic explanation for such political forces.

* * * [snip]

6) Opposing anti-Americanism. We reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal (and some conservative) thinking. This is not a case of seeing the US as a model society. We are aware of its problems and failings. But these are shared in some degree with all of the developed world. The United States of America is a great country and nation. It is the home of a strong democracy with a noble tradition behind it and lasting constitutional and social achievements to its name. Its peoples have produced a vibrant culture that is the pleasure, the source-book and the envy of millions. That US foreign policy has often opposed progressive movements and governments and supported regressive and authoritarian ones does not justify generalized prejudice against either the country or its people.

7) For a two-state solution. We recognize the right of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination within the framework of a two-state solution. There can be no reasonable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that subordinates or eliminates the legitimate rights and interests of one of the sides to the dispute.

* * * [snip]

9) United against terror. We are opposed to all forms of terrorism. The deliberate targeting of civilians is a crime under international law and all recognized codes of warfare, and it cannot be justified by the argument that it is done in a cause that is just. Terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology is widespread today. It threatens democratic values and the lives and freedoms of people in many countries. This does not justify prejudice against Muslims, who are its main victims, and amongst whom are to be found some of its most courageous opponents. But, like all terrorism, it is a menace that has to be fought, and not excused.

* * * [snip]

11) A critical openness. Drawing the lesson of the disastrous history of left apologetics over the crimes of Stalinism and Maoism, as well as more recent exercises in the same vein (some of the reaction to the crimes of 9/11, the excuse-making for suicide-terrorism, the disgraceful alliances lately set up inside the 'anti-war' movement with illiberal theocrats), we reject the notion that there are no opponents on the Left. We reject, similarly, the idea that there can be no opening to ideas and individuals to our right. Leftists who make common cause with, or excuses for, anti-democratic forces should be criticized in clear and forthright terms. Conversely, we pay attention to liberal and conservative voices and ideas if they contribute to strengthening democratic norms and practices and to the battle for human progress.

12) Historical truth. In connecting to the original humanistic impulses of the movement for human progress, we emphasize the duty which genuine democrats must have to respect for the historical truth. Not only fascists, Holocaust-deniers and the like have tried to obscure the historical record. One of the tragedies of the Left is that its own reputation was massively compromised in this regard by the international Communist movement, and some have still not learned that lesson. Political honesty and straightforwardness are a primary obligation for us.

13) Freedom of ideas. We uphold the traditional liberal freedom of ideas. It is more than ever necessary today to affirm that, within the usual constraints against defamation, libel and incitement to violence, people must be at liberty to criticize ideas - even whole bodies of ideas - to which others are committed. This includes the freedom to criticize religion: particular religions and religion in general. Respect for others does not entail remaining silent about their beliefs where these are judged to be wanting.


etc.

There are still many ideals proposed here that I, as a libertarianish type, tend to disagree with vehemently. But the Euston Manifesto separates enough of the wholesome wheat from the distraction of the chaff to allow a rational and potentially fruitful discussion concerning such differences. It creates the opportunity to home in on the similarities between leftish social justice, egalitarian, univeral human rights types and those whose ilk tend towards small government, low taxes, laissez-faire policies.

Indeed there are myriad differences between these paradigms. Constant accentuation of those differences, however, has led to entrenchment on the issues and little to no progress in harmonizing the similarities. If there is a consensus reached oin the Left comparable to that set forth in the Euston Manifesto, I believe the similarities will start to get much more attention, and quite possibly, rational, thoughtful and fully-informed policies will result.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Captain Den Beste is Back!

Wow. Paleo-blogger Steven Den Beste is back as well. This is huge. Everything that Steven writes is worth reading, pondering, quoting and discussing (well, except maybe the anime stuff, cuz, y'know, I'm just not INTO that). Before he went on hiatus, USS Clueless was a regular stop for me. While it would sometimes take me days to get through one of Steven's posts (for the unititiated, they are notoriously long), the trip was always worth the price.

For example, this post on Jacksonian foreign policy and world government (an unusally short piece) provides and excellent framework for understanding how an essentially isolationist country can take such bold, interventionist steps on the world stage without finding the need to be involved with (and, in fact, remaining quite antipathetic to) any sort of "world government."

And the post described by Steven as "A top-level briefing on the cause of the war, how we got involved, what our strategy is to win it, and how well that is going" is probably the most thorough description of just what the War on Terror is all about that you will find anywhere:

The purpose of this document is to provide a high level strategic view of the cause of the war, the reason that the United States became involved in it, the fundamental goals the US has to achieve to win it, and the strategies the US is following, as well as an evaluation of the situation as of July, 2003. Most of what is here has been explored in far greater detail in numerous posts made on USS Clueless (http://denbeste.nu). [It was adapted from this entry.]

So go and read him now, and Welcome Back, Captain!

Return of "The Shape of Days"

Jeff Harrell's Back! If you haven't been reading The Shape of Days, you should be. Jeff is simply one of the best writers out there and is a joy to read. I got hooked on his Survivor reviews and was a bit dismayed to hear that he had fallen ill. But now he's back with a brand new look and dispensing with some (obviously) pent-up energy. So go and give him some love. Now!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"But it’s not jihad, and never has been."

From Jim Dunnigan at Strategy Page comes this assessment of the Parisian riots (excerpted below):

Thus, the street violence is partly a lark, because the kids know the cops are not going to use lethal force, and anyone who gets caught will, at worst, do maybe a year in the slammer (for burning cars looting stores). The drug gangs encourage the violence as a way to intimidate the cops. When the violence dies down, the gang bosses can threaten the local cops with a revival, if the cops do not back off (when it comes to the drug trade).

There are some Islamic radicals running around in all this, but they are a minority. The Moslem kids like to talk about respect and payback, but very few see this as a religious war. It’s become a sport, with various groups competing to cause the most destruction. Text messaging, Internet bulletin boards and email made it possible for the rioters to stay in touch and compare notes. The media coverage also encouraged the violence, giving the kids some positive (for them) feedback.

But now, nearly two weeks of street violence have thoroughly embarrassed the government so much that curfews and more arrests have taken some of the joy out of these Autumn antics. But it’s not jihad, and never has been.
(h/t Instapundit)

Those of you who have read my previous post (hint, hint) will know that I disagree entirely with this assessment. However, for reasons I realize I did not make entirely clear in that post, I do agree with Mr. Dunnigan that the riots are not being primarily driven by radical Islam and its clerics ... yet.

The structurally deficient and decrepit French system is largely to blame for creating the riotous situation it currently faces, and the seemingly self-destructive myopia with which the French government chooses to comprehend the unrest only serves to make things worse. The real problem is that France is in no position to address the problems underlying the immigrant discontent, therefore putting an unceremonious stop to the rebellion, and will only quell the violence with its own state violence. Such a solution not only allows the unrequited rebellion to fester, but encourages it to grow stronger.

The end result, I fear, is that those rioters who have little or no fealty to France (or Western style democracy) will not only begin to find common cause with radical Islamicism (jihad) outside the country, but that they will increasingly find direction and purpose in the teachings and urgings of local imams (and others) who are antagonistic to the West in general. Consider for a moment that the French Revolution started with attempts mollify a starving peasant population and to create a new Constitution and ended with the Reign of Terror and Babouvism (and the birth of "communism"), and that the Russian Revolution started as a peasant revolt before being deftly steered by Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin into total (and bloody) state control by the Bolsheviks. What's to stop the same sort of revolution from taking place in modern France? Certainly not the ineffectual and apparently impotent French government.

Perhaps I am being overly dramatic, and in fact the riots will die out by themselves. Maybe this is all about poverty, French racism and bored youths. Judging by all the evidence, however, and in light of human history, I am not at all persuaded that we are witnessing anything other than a violent, bloody overthrow of the European welfare-state paradigm by those who wish to replace it with an equally statist radical muslim presence in the homeland of Rousseau.

Monday, November 07, 2005

"Rien"

I haven't posted for awhile, for numerous unimportant reasons, the totality of which adds up to "I'm too busy." That is not the subject of this post, however, but instead this:

Local authorities in France have been allowed to impose curfews in an attempt to end 11 days of riots, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin says.

Speaking in a television interview, he called the violence "unacceptable" and outlined measures to curb the unrest that has hit 300 towns and cities.

He ruled out army intervention for the moment, but said an extra 1,500 police officers are to be deployed.

The ongoing chaos in France (and Germany, Belgium, and Denmark) is getting worse, and I fear that it won't get better any time soon. The violence has been blamed on everything from poverty and islamic militarism to Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy's tough stance on controlling the perpetrators:

The violence was sparked off a week ago when two teenage boys were electrocuted in an electricity sub-station, supposedly fleeing police, although authorities deny this. Nevertheless the French government has been widely criticized for its handling of the crisis. In particular comments made by the Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, referring to the rioters as "scum," have unsurprisingly not done much to ease tensions. Critics also say his heavy-handed approach has done more to exacerbate than help the situation.
Some have even blamed the "hidden hands" of "unemployment, racial prejudice and widespread youth boredom":

It was just an excuse for kids to trash things," said Guendouz, 20, a French-born business student of Algerian origin.

"The politicians blame it on Islamists because the French are afraid of this religion. They think Islam equals bin Laden."

"Whoever knows who's behind this should come here and say it openly," shouted a defiant man in a Muslim prayer cap. "The problem is there's nothing for youths to do here."

Ahmed Hamidi, a white-bearded Moroccan electrician long resident in France, had no patience with politicians in Paris, which lies hardly an hour away but seems like another planet.

"All the politicians care about are laws for homosexuals and all those immoral things," he fumed. "They are against headscarves, against beards and against the mosques.

Despite claims otherwise, few in the European or American media are ready to suggest radical Islam as an underlying cause of, and unifying factor in, the Parisian riots. But is there a connection between the War on Terror, Islamofascism and the current riots in Europe? According to Captain Ed there is:

The riots in France have little connection to the Islamist terrorist offensive against the West, if the American media coverage gives any indication. However, alert CQ reader Mr. Michael points out that both American and French media sources warned of coordinated Islamist action against France in the weeks before the riot. Agence France Presse even had a quote from the maligned Nicolas Sarkozy noting the imminent nature of the threat in its 9/27 dispatch.
Whether or not there is any direct co-ordination between Islamofascists in the Middle East and the riots, it is probably not a stretch to say that the North African immigrants in France feel more loyalty to their muslim brothers than to their host nation. In fact, some in France recognized and sought to deal with just this problem in the past:

While it was soon realised that repatriation of this sort could not be the answer, France's media insisted that there was still a problem and instead began to discuss the "integration" of the country's Arab and Muslim population into the wider society. Television, in particular, began to look around for indicators of French Muslim feeling, and it latched onto a series of spokesmen for what was beginning to be dubbed the country's "Muslim community." By the beginning of the 1980s, and following the victory of the socialist François Mitterand in the French presidential elections, media attention had begun to turn away from the problem of the integration of the older generation of immigrants into French society and towards that of the second and third generations, the sons and daughters of the originals.

These young people, dubbed "beurs" in French slang and born and educated in France, were, the media believed, "torn between two cultures," and there were questions about whether they were "really French," or whether their loyalties lay elsewhere, usually in the countries of the Arab Maghreb. Indeed, issues of where the "loyalty" of France's Muslim population really lay, of the compatibility of their views with the wider French culture, and of the alleged connections between members of this population and sometimes violent events abroad, became the leitmotifs of media representation of French Muslims in the second and third periods Deltombe describes and thus well into the last decade and beyond.

See also here: ("I do not feel totally French - quite simply because some people remind me this is not so at the slightest opportunity.") as a counter to the claim above that the French media exagerrates the divided loyalty of the muslims there.

The results of the French "intergration" model are less than mixed. Instead, the immigrant muslim community has been left to fester amidst the general economic malaise that plagues a significant plurality of all young adults in France. This fact was of little consequence prior to 9/11 because the general unrest was unfocused and unconnected to world events. Since 9/11, however, battle lines have been drawn and sides have been chosen (mostly). Suddenly the dissatisfied and disaffected muslim immigrants in France (and elsewhere in Europe), already divided in loyalty and unhappy with the treatment they receive at the behest of their host Western government, were able to draw parallels between their perceived plight and that of the militant anti-western Islamists elsewhere in the world. What was once just a local police and social policy problem became part of larger struggle against the West. Just as water will penetrate your home at the weakest, most accomodating points in the foundation first, an invading culture will find its greatest purchase where the weakest and most ineffectual resistance is found.

My view, and my deepest fear at this point, is that the spreading riots will play out like the 1848 Revolutions (being international in effect), except that instead of nationalism being a catalyst, it will be cultural identity. Where France in 1848 saw the middle class revolt against re-entrenchment of aristocratic control and violently react to perceived threats against their civil liberties, Paris today is witnessing a marginalized underclass of unassimilated immigrants seeking to supplant the currently entrenched culture with their own, and pushing back against perceived threats to their culture from Western liberalism. Make no mistake about it; the muslims do not want to assimilate or become more French. They hate the West and its dominant power. What they want is to transplant Middle Eastern muslim culture, wholly intact and intractable, into the West.

To be sure, France's current policy of simply pretending that all immigrants are assimilated as soon as they reach French shores is an abysmal failure, and laws such as that banning head scarves are an affront to all freedom-loving peoples. But how much do the muslims want to assimilate? How compatible is French culture with that of her former colonies? I'd venture not much.

Ignoring the problem by inventing "hidden hands" causes for the unrest and pretending that the muslim immigrants will become French if they are assumed to be so is the worst means of addressing the problem. A threat to one's culture, country, government or very existence can never be satisfactorily addressed if one pretends that threat is something else entirely. Blaming poverty, bored youths and "hidden hands" may sound nice, but it does not advance the ball. Instead, the failure to recognize the role that radical Islam is playing in riots will serve to exacerbate the situation and fan the flames of revolt. Before long, the country will have more on its hands than it can handle.

The French government's detachment from the country's burgeoning and increasingly restless immigrant population reminds me of another French ruler: Louis XVI. The title of this post (which translates to "Nothing") is the sole entry in the King's diary on July 14, 1789 ... the day that the Bastille was stormed and the Revolution became a full blown movement to structurally change France's very existence. Continuing down this well-travelled road of ignorance and wilfull blindness will surely lead the Fifth Republic to the same fate as Louis XVI.

Monday, October 31, 2005

TRAVESTY

What in freaking hell?!?!?!:

Capitol Report has learned about a provision tucked away in the Senate Budget Reconciliation Bill that would direct Medicaid money intended for Katrina affected states (Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana) to Alaska.

The Budget Reconciliation package (PDF) contains $71.4 billion in new savings but it also spends $32.4 billion. Portions of that new spending were intended to be Katrina relief funds, but it seems Alaskan interests have once again succeeded in redirecting funds (PDF) to the state which has become famous for its "Bridge to Nowhere."

In addition to providing money for Katrina states, the provision also changes the way Alaska receives federal assistance for its Medicaid services. By changing the federal funding matching percentage for Medicaid in Alaska, the provision will provide an additional $130 million in federal Medicaid funding for Alaska. This additional $130 million is a direct result of tampering with federal matching percentages that results in Alaska being relieved of Medicaid related fiscal burdens that all the other 50 states face.

So, even though dozens of other states will face the same fiscal pressures as Alaska over the next few years, only Alaska is set to receive additional money.

Yet more evidence in support of federal term limits and of repealling the XVIIth Amend. (allowing for the direct election of Senators).

Friday, September 23, 2005

"Congress shall make no law ..."

It's a simple phrase. Why can't it be heeded? It seems to be terribly misunderstood quite often and outright ignored at other times:

Amid the explosion of political activity on the Internet, a federal court has instructed the six-member Federal Election Commission to draw up regulations that would extend the nation's campaign finance and spending limits to the Web.

The FEC, in its initial rules, had exempted the Internet.

Now some of you will immediately alight upon the notion that the FEC is in fact not Congress, but instead an independent regulatory agency. Fair enough, except that it was created by Congress and any enforcement or rule-making powers it has must come from Congress. For all intents and purposes of the U.S. Constitution, the FEC is Congress.

Some of you will then move on to a discussion of libel and slander laws and how we can't run around will-nilly shouting "Fire!" in crowded movie theaters. That would be a great point except for the fact that not a single one those libel, slander or defamation laws is FEDERAL. You see, Congress can make (and has made) laws concerning conduct on federal property, such that certain speech may be prohibited as to time and place. What Congress cannot do, nor has it ever had the power to do, is make any law controlling the content of one's speech because such a law regulates or inhibits free speech. "But the States can do it then!" I hear you lament? That's not only a dubious suggestion, it is also irrelevant to this particular discussion. Simply put, there is no technical parsing or legal wrangling which can defensibly argue that "Congress shall make no law ..." means something other than what it says.

Accordingly, I find the McCain-Feingold legislation patently un-Constitutional and any attempt to extend it's unlawful prohibitions to the blogosphere should be met not only with loud contempt but also with resilient defiance. On this point, I think Bruce McQuain gets it exactly right:

Now there are two schools of thought here. One that takes up Toner's theme that blogging should be exempt and that Congress should legislate that exemption under the auspicies of free speech rights.

There are others who say that the argument gives credence to the right of the government to regulate bloggers that they really don't have under the First Amendment and that we should instead be telling them to butt out (under the provisions of the First Amendment) and essentially ignore anything they come up with. Or said another way, continue with business as usual, and if they pass a law restricting or regulating blogging, ignore it by engaging in massive civil disobedience.

I'm inclined toward the latter response for a number of reasons. First, I completely agree that it is a free speech issue and it is McCain-Finegold which is the problem here, not political blogging. The entire point of the free speech portion of the First Amendment was to protect political speech. Now we see an attempt to regulate it. I see that M-F as an illegitimate law which infringes on the basic right of a blogger to espouse freely his or her political opinion as guaranteed by the Constitution.

All that to say, I plan on ignoring any FEC regulations as they regard blogging.

Now, Bruce's defiance is much more meaningful in the grand scheme of things, given that QandO generates far more hits than most sites, and infinitely more than this one. Nonetheless I too will actively resist and defy complying with any regulation coming from McCain-Feingold. And by "actively" I mean that I plan to flout the law as openly as possible, making my intentions well known that I consider this particular piece of naked power grabbing to be a flagrant violation of every American's Constitutional rights. I encourage others to do the same.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Bush to World: "End Subsidies and Tariffs"

I love the message, but I'm skeptical of the actual delivery:

Saying poverty breeds terrorism and despair, President Bush challenged world leaders on Wednesday to abolish all trade tariffs and subsidies _ worth hundreds of billions of dollars _ to promote prosperity and opportunity in struggling nations.

"Either hope will spread, or violence will spread, and we must take the side of hope," Bush told more than 160 presidents, prime ministers and kings gathered for three days of U.N. General Assembly meetings aimed at combating poverty and reforming the world body.

<>
First of all, I'm deeply doubtful that Pres. Bush actual blamed poverty for terrorism and despair. That would, of course, be the left's row to hoe, and a complete departure from the "they hate us for our freedom" mantra on the right. Secondly, unless concrete plans are put forward to actually eliminate trade barriers, as opposed to softening or regulating them as with the Doha rounds or CAFTA, then the barriers are pretty much here to stay. That being said, Bush did make the following bold claim:

"Today I broaden the challenge by making this pledge: The United States is ready to eliminate all tariffs, subsidies and other barriers to free flow of goods and services as other nations do the same. This is key to overcoming poverty in the world's poorest nations. It's essential we promote prosperity and opportunity for all nations."

Really? Because that would just peachy as far as I'm concerned. In fact, why should we wait for other countries? Instead, let's just eliminate farm subsidies and trade tariffs altogether. Even if other countries don't follow suit (and it's virtually certain that there are many who won't), the U.S. will still be better off. Sure, farmers like ADM, Scotty Pippen and Ted Turner will take a short term hit (the destructive side of Schumpeter's "creative destruction"), but I think we can bear that burden. As poor farmers in Africa, South America and Asia pick up the slack they will grow wealthier. As they grow wealthier their demand for goods produced elsewhere, say here in the United States, will grow as well. Historically, such growth in poorer countries (sometimes referred to as "creating new markets") leads to even greater growth elsewhere.

Quite simply, inhabitants of third world countries have few opportunities to create wealth, either for themselves (directly) or others (incidently). In wealthy countries like the U.S., wealth opportunities abound. When someone in the U.S. quits farming in order to pursue other, more wealth-producing opportunities, someone in a a country where farming is his best opportunity is able to maximize his wealth production. The end result is greater wealth production all around, both directly (former farmer and new farmer both earning more income) and incidentally (former farmer adding more of higher-valued product to market; new farmer adding food to market at lower cost to consumers). This is illustrative, of course, of the creative side of "creative destruction."

Sadly, I'm afraid that none of if will come to pass. A careful gander at the the President's pledge reveals that it is nothing more than typical diploma-speak: we are "ready" to eliminate the tariffs and subsidies "as other nations do the same." In other words, "we'll put our gun down when you put your gun down, but you put yours down first."

Al Qaeda or Civil War

Unfortunately, Iraqis suffered another bloody day in Baghdad, where more than 150 people were killed. From Reuters:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A suicide bomber lured a crowd of Shi'ite Muslim day laborers to his minivan and blew it up in Baghdad on Wednesday, killing 114 people in the bloodiest of a wave of attacks which killed more than 150 across the capital.

The bomber drew the men to his vehicle with promises of work before detonating the bomb, which contained up to 500 pounds (220 kg) of explosives, an Interior Ministry source said.

It was the second deadliest single attack since the U.S.-led invasion of March 2003.


National Public Radio's take, by Anne Garrels, was strikingly similar to Reuters. The Associated Press reports it this way:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- More than a dozen explosions ripped through the Iraqi capital in rapid succession Wednesday, killing at least 152 people and wounding 542 in a series of attacks that began with a suicide car bombing that targeted laborers assembled to find work for the day. Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility.

Reuters also noted the Al Qaeda claim of responsibility, six paragraphs after the lede, but then immediately stumbles into the popular leftist spectre of civil war:

A police official said the attacks appeared coordinated. Iraq's al Qaeda claimed it was waging a nationwide suicide bombing campaign to avenge a military offensive on a rebel town.

A statement on an Islamist Web site often used by the Sunni Muslim militant group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi did not mention a specific attack, but said the campaign was in reprisal for a U.S.-Iraqi offensive in the northern town of Tal Afar.

"We would like to congratulate the Muslim nation and inform it the battle to avenge the Sunnis of Tal Afar has begun," it said.

Fears of civil war have grown ahead of an October 15 referendum on a new constitution for Iraq.


The AP also raises the civil war meme, albeit more subtley:

The blasts coincided with Iraqi lawmakers announcing the country's draft constitution was in its final form and would be sent to the United Nations for printing and distribution ahead of an Oct. 15 national referendum. Sunni Muslims, who form up the core of the insurgency, have vowed to defeat the basic law.

[snip]

With the constitution finally going to the printers for distribution ahead of the Oct. 15 referendum, Hussein Al-Shahristani, a leading Shiite lawmaker, said the latest changes included an apparent bow to demands from the Arab League that the country be described as a founding member of the 22-member pan-Arab body and that it was "committed to its charter."

But that amended clause falls short of demands by Sunnis, who wanted the country's Arab identity clearly spelled and mentions of federalism be struck from the document. They argue such language could ultimately lead to the disintegration of the multiethnic nation.

Still, the changes were significant after weeks of discussions on the draft. They included clarifying that water resource management was the federal government's responsibility and that the prime minister would have two deputies in the Cabinet.


Of course, there's nothing insidious about mentioning the ongoing Constitutional process in Iraq in a story about suicide bombing there. But the the clear implication of both stories is that the suicide bombings are in some manner precursors to the impending civil war between the Sunnis and the Shi'ites, and that the Constitutional process is a catalyst for that war. However, if Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks, and in fact explicitly stated that they are in retaliation for "the recent killing of about 200 militants from the city of Tal Afar by U.S. and Iraqi forces," in what way does the Consitutional debate amongst Iraqis figure into the bombings?

In other words, either the bombings were in retaliation for the Tal Afar offensive as claimed by Al Quaeda, or they were sparked by the contentious debate over the contents of the proposed Constitution. The Reuters story mentions that Sunnis make up the core of the insurgency, but does that mean they are necessarily allied with Al Aqaeda? So much so that they bombed a crowd of Iraqis to further the goal of repelling U.S. "invaders"? The left has long claimed that Al Qaeda was seeking to foment civil war with its attacks, and that is likely true on some level. But if that was the purpose of these particular attacks, then why claim a different reason, namely the assault on Tal Afar?

The truth is that civil war is not as inevitable as some would have you believe. I don't mean to suggest that it's impossible or that it would comes as a great shock if the situation in Iraq were to devolve into a civil war. But the window of where that was a great likelihood has passed with the elections in January and the subsequent campaign of inclusion seeking to draw as many Sunnis into the nation-building process as possible. Judging by the numbers of Sunnis who registerd to vote on the draft Constitution ("Iraq's Sunnis Register to Vote in Droves"), that campaign has been largely successful, and there doesn't seem to be as great a potential for civil war as there once may have been. To be sure, there are still Sunnis who will fight the U.S. and whatever Iraqi government that eventually results. But it will take more than some holdouts to launch a full-blown civil war.

Moreover, the question still remains unanswered as to what the connection is between Al Qaeda, who took responsibility for the recent blasts, and the beginning of a civil war based upon Sunni dissatisfaction with the Constitution. Neither the AP nor Reuters has answered that question, even as they implicitly raised it, nor are they likely to. Instead, they will continue to conflate the two (Al Qaeda and Sunnis; War on Terror and Iraqi Civil War) in an effort to channel the blame for every horrible thing in Iraq directly to the feet of the United States and it's "illegal" war. Nevermind the fact that prior to the Iraq War we were constantly reminded of how Bin Laden and Al Qaeda hated Saddam Hussein and the Ba'ath Party because of their secularism, and of how there was never any connection between the two. That the insurgent Sunnis and Al Qaeda appear on the same side of the ledger now is irrelevant and needless of explanation so long as it is clear to all that U.S. presence in Iraq and the Iraqi Constitution (a direct result of U.S. presence) are the source of all Iraqi ills. So needless of explanation is the apparent comraderie between insurgent Sunnis and Al Qaeda in fact, that both the AP and Reuters consider it appropriate to include the complaints of one group in a story about the other's retaliatory strikes.

One can only wonder what the spin will be once a Constitution is finally put into place and a permanent government elected.