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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky



















These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 2, 2012.
Monday, 2 January 2012
Bumper Sticker Sparks New Clash at Indonesian Church

From the Jakarta Globe

Bogor. A bumper sticker prompted members of the hard-line Islamic Reform Movement to attack several members of the GKI Yasmin church on Sunday. The bumper sticker, on the back of a church member’s car, said, “We need a friendly Islam, not an angry Islam.”

Scores of vociferous Muslims from the group known as the Islamic Reform Movement (Garis) terrorized members of the congregation who came to the church’s New Year’s Eve service in Bogor, GKI Yasmin spokesman Bona Sigalingging said.

Garis chairman Majudien was infuriated by the sticker and began to run after the car. The incident led the congregation to disband and move the service to the home of one of the members. “What is the aim of that sticker being put there? That is a provocative action against us, the Muslims of Bogor,” Majudien said. On Sunday, the mob from Garis shouted at church members when they began to arrive but were prevented from physical contact by hundreds of police officers who separated the congregation from the crowd.

Lawmaker Indah Kurnia on Sunday said that cases of intolerance like in Bogor should not be allowed to continue and called on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to intervene. “There is no need to just say that the green light had been given; the evidence is that the congregation cannot worship at its church,” Indah said.

The church has been illegally sealed off by the city administration on the pretext that the congregation doctored a petition needed to obtain a building permit. The congregation has since 2008 been forced to hold Sunday services on the sidewalk outside the church.

Posted on 01/02/2012 2:32 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 2 January 2012
Iran Test Fire Qader (“Mighty�) Anti-Ship Missile and Announces First Nuclear Rods

Source: Fars News Agency: - Iranian Qader anti-Ship cruise missile

Reuters reported that Iran test fired a Qader (Mighty in Farsi) anti-ship cruise missile during the final days of its current naval drills in the Persian Gulf. The Qader is alleged to have a range of 125 miles and its mass production was announced  in late September, 2011 to be supplied to both the IRGC naval contingent and regular naval forces. The FARS news service suggests that the Kadar is equipped with radar evasion technology and can allegedly destroy large naval vessels including aircraft carriers. This is an allusion to the US Fifth Fleet Carrier Strike Group 10 in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean the flagship of which is the USS Harry S. Truman (CVA-74).  Iran is threatening to test fire even longer range missiles. The Iranian naval drill and missile tests are all part of show of force to counter US and EU oil export and Iranian Central Bank Sanctions endeavoring to stop Ian’s nuclear development program. A separate Washington Post report noted that Iran announced successful development of its first nuclear control rods.

The Qader is one several ballistic missiles that Iran is in the process of development and test. We had cited comments by Israeli Missile expert, Uzi Rubin in our NER article, The Iranian Missile Threat, that domestically produced anti-Ship missiles were a “game changer.”

Kenneth Timmerman covered one of the Rubin presentations at the Capitol Hill Congressional breakfast seminars in mid-June. He wrote of Rubin’s startling revelations about Iranian missile developments and threats. Timmerman noted in his NewsMax.com article, “Iran Makes Giant Strides in Missile Programs”:

Iran has made dramatic progress in its ballistic missile programs over the past year, unveiling three new missiles it claims are already in production, including an innovative design that could be a “game-changer” if used against U.S. aircraft carriers, an Israeli expert widely considered one of the world’s top authorities on Iranian missile programs says.

Also significant were three unannounced tests of longer-range missiles most experts believe were designed to carry a nuclear warhead.

Watch this AP You Tube video on the Iranian test firing video report.

Iran does have the liquid fueled Shahab III and solid fuel BM-25 capable of hitting targets like Israel in the Middle East and the EU. Iran and Venezuela have announced construction of a missile base on the Paraguaná Peninsula on the Venezuelan north coast equipped with the Shahab III with a range of 1250 miles capable of hitting Florida. This effort has been disputed by the Obama Administration. Test firing of long range Iranian missiles downrange into the Indian Ocean from Iran would be considered a provocative act as it would be viewed as a threat to strategic US air and naval facilities on the island of Diego Garcia. Moreover, it would require notification of shipping in the commercial sea lanes and pre-positioning of naval vessels to monitor the missile flight. Iran announced test firing of missiles into the Indian Ocean under US surveillance in early 2011

In a related development the US State Department announced a $3.4 billion sale of air Defense missiles to the UAE. This follows an earlier announcement of a $29 billion sale of F-15’s and F-16s to Saudi Arabia.

These latest developments by Iran appear to be part of a defiant response to threats of strong sanctions from both the US and EU against Iran’s nuclear program. The US weapon sales in the Gulf region have little immediate impact, as deliveries of missiles and aircraft will not occur before mid-decade. Rather these announcements are for political domestic consumption in the US in an election year as the programs may generate jobs in a number of key battleground states. A similar sale of F-16s  to Taiwan was turned down by the Obama Administration to placate the PRC.

Posted on 01/02/2012 4:18 AM by Jerry Gordon
Monday, 2 January 2012
Prudence Crowther And James Taibi: Call For Papers

First published sixteen years ago in The New York Review of Books, but it does not date.

This isthe week when the MLA and other, not quite as disturbing, professional associations hold their meetings. The "Call For Papers" by Prudence Crowther and James Taibi was published 16 years ago. It does not, for good and bad, date. And Prudence Crowther's writings -- few but choice -- deserve attention.

Again the Postmodern Language as a Second Language Association convention will be held. Reminder: In sessions where members are presenting or responding, they may not be chairs.

Reconsidering Pearl Buck

The author in the light of recent rethinking of desire, deferral, the gaze, labyrinth, displacement, and the panoptic phallus.

What We Talk about When We Talk about ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’

Negotiating Nietzsche in unmediated cyberspace.

Polity, Pity, Piety, Performativity

Once the market changes from place to process, how do sonneteers fare?

From Huckleberry to Hitler

Post- and prefigurations of Twain and the Mississippi in the Holocaust literature.

Propriety Is Theft

The collapse and/or reconfiguration of post-Mannerist manners.

Beavis and Benjamin

Echoes and reduplications from MTV to Academe and vice versa.

Algebra[cketing] & the Coca-Colon +/- [-oscopy/-ization]

Transgender marginalization and post-Baudrillard framing of the Latino Other: Implications of Comparativism.

Signifier and Signified in IRS Form 808

A transvaluation of depreciationist values.

I Wake Up Screaming

Images of Sally Struthers: An inquiry into appropriate discursive strategies.

Karl Kraus in the Imagination of the Kalahari

What happens when Die Fackel passes into a click language.

Finding Elinor Wylie in All the Unlikely Places

Proposals by Tagalog or Tagalogophone women writers.

When Wilt Thou Blow?’

Anticipation and anticlimax in Lord Rochester.

The Nutty Pantheon: Lacanians Construct Jerry Lewis

Non-neurotic (or purportedly non-neurotic) anti-auteurizing tendencies.

Noncanonical Anonymous and Her Editors

Subversions, mythopoeses, particolored peoples, NAFTA.

Homer Simpson and the Dearth of Achilleses

Ironic recontextualizations using a pathology model.

Entomorphism: The Literary Representation of the Insect Mind

Poetics, narratology, and the ethical implications of rendering the consciousness or behavior of insects in literature.

Generation of Wipers

Career opportunities beyond the Academy.

Posted on 01/02/2012 9:51 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 2 January 2012
Nigeria: al-Qaeda-linked group gives Christians 3-day deadline

From The Telegraph

Boko Haram warned Christians living in the country's predominantly Muslim north that they have three days to "move away," before attacks target the community.

Abul Qada, the spokesman who claimed responsibility for the Christmas Day bombings on behalf of the group, threatened Nigerian soldiers deployed to quell violence in the north.

"We find it pertinent to state that soldiers will only kill innocent Muslims in the local government areas where the state of emergency was declared," Abul Qada said. "We would confront them squarely to protect our brothers."

Nigerian security forces have arrested "hundreds" of "foot soldiers" in connection with bombings that left at left at least 40 people dead and dozens more injured last weekend, the police chief said last Thursday. But the masterminds of the violence remain at-large.

Attacks by Boko Haram claimed at least 500 lives in 2011, including scores of Nigerian soldiers and police. But the group's recent targeting of civilians and high profile targets raise concerns both about the group's interest in sparking wider religious conflict in the country and its links to other Al-Qaeda affiliates in the region.

Posted on 01/02/2012 1:31 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 2 January 2012
"New Perspectives On The Qur'an"

 New Perspectives On The Qur'an, with an introduction by Gabriel Said Reynolds, has just been published by Routledge.  The significance of putting the "uncreated" Qur'an back into history, into the historical context, the sectarian milieu, out of which it came, as a way of subjecting the early Qur'an, and hence Islam, to what was once called, in relation to Judaism and Christianity, the Higher Criticism, is great.

The contents of the book are given below:

New Perspectives on the Qurʾ�n: The Qurʾ�n in Its Historical Context 2

Foreword: Abdolkarim Soroush

Introduction: Gabriel Said Reynolds

 

Part 1. Method in Qur’Ä�nic Studies

Fred Donner, “The Historian, The Believer, and the QurʾÄ�n”

Andrew Rippin, “Studies in QurʾÄ�nic Vocabulary: The Problem of the Dictionary

Nasr Abu Zayd, “Towards Understanding the Qur’Ä�n’s Worldview: An Autobiographical Reflection”

 

Part 2. The Qur’Ä�n and Material Evidence

Robert Hoyland, “The Jews of the Hijaz in the QurʾÄ�n and in Their Inscriptions”

Hani Hayajneh, “The Usage of Ancient South Arabian and other Arabian Languages as an Etymological Source for QurʾÄ�nic Vocabulary”

Gerd-R. Puin, “Vowel Letters and Ortho-epic Writing in the QurʾÄ�n”

 

Part 3. Qur’Ä�nic Vocabulary

Shawkat M. Toorawa, “Hapaxes in the QurʾÄ�n: Identifying and Cataloguing Lone Words (and Loan Words)”

Manfred Kropp, “Tripartite, but Anti-Trinitarian Formulas in the QurʾÄ�nic Corpus, Possibly Pre-QurʾÄ�nic”

Munther Younes, “Angels, Stars, Death, the Soul, Horses, Bows--or Women? The Opening Verses of QurʾÄ�n 79”

Christoph Luxenberg, “Al-Najm (Q 53), Chapter of the Star: A New Syro-Aramaic Reading of Verses 1-18”

 

Part 4. The Qur’Ä�n and Its Religious Context

Sidney Griffith, “Al-NasÌ£Ä�rÄ� in the QurʾÄ�n: A Hermeneutical Reflection”

Devin Stewart, “The Mysterious Letters and Other Formal Features of the QurʾÄ�n in Light of Greek and Babylonian Oracular Texts

Suleiman Mourad, “Does the QurʾÄ�n Deny or Assert Jesus’ Crucifixion and Death?”

Clare Wilde, “Early Christian Arabic Texts: Evidence for non-Ê¿UthmÄ�nic Qur’Ä�n Codices, or Early Approaches to the Qur’Ä�n?”

Gerald Hawting, “Has God Sent a Mortal as a Messenger?” (Q 17:95). Messengers and Angels in the QurʾÄ�n”

 

Part 5. The Qur’Ä�n and Biblical Literature

Reuven Firestone, “Is There a Notion of “Divine Election” in the QurʾÄ�n?”

Waleed Ahmed, “Lot’s Daughters in the QurʾÄ�n: an Investigation Through the Lens of Intertextuality”

Joseph Witztum, “Joseph among the Ishmaelites: Q 12 in Light of Syriac Sources”

Emran El-Badawi, “Condemnation in the QurʾÄ�n and the Syriac Gospel of Matthew

Adam Silverstein, “The QurʾÄ�nic Pharaoh
Posted on 01/02/2012 2:10 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 2 January 2012
China: Mosque Demolished, Hui Muslims Riot

This bare-bones report appeared in Australia's ABC this morning.  

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-01-03/clashes-after-mosque-demolished-in-china/3755786

'Clashes after mosque demolished in China'.

'Reports from China say hundreds of Muslims have fought with armed police who demolished a mosque in [the] north of the country.

'The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy says the violence began after police declared the newly renovated mosque illegal and moved in to destroy it.

Now, although the despots who rule China are equal-opportunity persecutors, and have often demolished Christian churches on transparently false charges of illegality (and, it should be noted, without hundreds of Christians subsequently rioting and attacking police), it should be remembered that in this case, the accusation of illegality may just perhaps be true - for Muslims living in any place they regard as dar al Harb - 'region of war' , Infidel lands - are notorious for their deliberate and persistent flouting of Infidel rules and regulations.  The Arab Muslims in Jerusalem have been busily constructing a large and entirely illegal mosque right next to the historic Mount of Olives Jewish cemetery, and so far have gotten away with it.  In the case of Muslim mosques illegally built in other countries, it might be time for those countries, in those particular cases, to take a leaf out of the Chinese book; and be prepared to crush the riots that will inevitably follow. - CM

'It says two people were killed and 50 injured after police used tear gas, knives and batons to beat back ethnic Hui Muslim protesters.

This is interesting.  Up till now, all the stories about Muslim 'unrest' in China have featured the Uighur, a Turkic people largely concentrated in Sinkiang and other northwestern provinces. The Hui are a different community, somewhat more numerous than the Uighur; they predominantly speak Chinese , and although most - like the Uighur - live in the northwest (Ningxia, Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang/ Sinkiang), there are significant communities in other parts of China.  They have usually been seen as more 'assimilated' than other Muslims within China, being culturally similar in most respects to the Chinese.  And yet we see, in this story, the supposedly-deeply-assimilated Hui Muslims rebelling violently over a mosque. - CM

'Police contacted by phone say two people were injured but no-one was killed.

These are, of course, the Chinese police.  Quite probably people - whether police or the Muslim rioters - were killed, though if the NGO source is relying on a Muslim account of what happened, one can hardly rely on that, either, since neither the PRC nor the Ummah are much noted for public truthfulness. 

Watch this space.  Will we see mobs of Mohammedans in the Western world, or anywhere else, rioting and attacking Chinese embassies and consulates?  Will there be declarations of Jihad against China?  Will there be a huge outcry at the UN, and Resolutions passed?  Or will there be a deep dark silence?

Thought experiment: suppose the Israelis moved in and razed the illegally-built mosque that is encroaching upon the ancient Mount of Olives Jewish cemetery.  Or suppose that India demolished an illegally built mosque.  Or suppose a Western European country, or a southern African country, cracked down upon, and closed, or even demolished, a mosque or mosques known to have been built in breach of planning regulations?  And suppose any of these, having disposed of an illegal (or shall we also say, a known jihad-recruiting and jihad-fomenting mosque) then acted as firmly as the Chinese, to suppress the Mohammedan riot/s that would ensue.  What then? - CM

Posted on 01/02/2012 3:04 PM by Christina McIntosh
Monday, 2 January 2012
"Father Christmas" stabbed to death in Tajikistan
Reuters - A young man dressed as "Father Frost" - the Russian equivalent of Father Christmas - was stabbed to death in Tajikistan on Monday in an attack police believe was motivated by religious hatred, two police sources said.

A crowd attacked 24-year-old Parviz Davlatbekov and stabbed him with a knife as he visited relatives in the early hours of Monday dressed as Father Frost, who by tradition brings Russian children presents at New Year. Russian cultural influence remains strong in Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic.

"We have witness statements that say the crowd beat Parviz and stabbed him with a knife, shouting: 'You infidel!'," one of the sources told Reuters. The second source said religious hatred was being investigated as the motive for the crime, which occurred in the capital Dushanbe.

Tajikistan is officially secular, although the vast majority of its 7.7 million people are Muslims. . . President Imomali Rakhmon has ordered students at foreign religious schools to return home and told his security services to tighten control over religious education and mosques in Tajikistan, which he says are often used to foment radicalism.

His critics say poverty and repression in the poorest of the 15 former Soviet republics is pushing many young Tajiks toward radical Islamism. The country, where tens of thousands died in a civil war in the 1990s, shares a long border with Afghanistan.

Father Frost handing out sweets outside the Dushanbe Central Hospital was 'picture of the day' at Central Asia on Line on 25th December.

Posted on 01/02/2012 4:20 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 2 January 2012
Deputy CIA Chief In Baghdad Confesses He "Didn't See It Coming"

Robert Grenier is  "a 27-year career in the CIA's Clandestine Service. Grenier served as Director of the CIA Counter-Terrorism Centre (CTC) from 2004 to 2006, coordinated CIA activities in Iraq from 2002 to 2004 as the Iraq Mission Manager, and was the CIA Chief of Station in Islamabad, Pakistan, before and after the 9/11 attacks.

Previously, he was the deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia, and also served as the CIA's chief of operational training. He is credited with founding the CIA's Counter-Proliferation Division. Grenier is now a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and speaks and writes frequently on foreign policy issues.

He tells us that he "didn't see it coming." But some did; some thought it was perfectly obvious, it was ineluctable, that the Shi'a would never surrender the power they had finally won from the Sunnis, and that the Sunnis, in turn, would never reconcile themselves to the loss of their status, and power, and consequently money (for all money comes from the state) at the hands of the despised Shi'a.

What it was that Robert Grenier learned during his 27 years in the C.I.A. ? What did he learn about Islam? About Sunni and Shi'a Arabs in Iraq, or outside Iraq? About Arabs and non-Arab Muslims? About what would make most sense from the viewpoint of Infidels, to achieve in Iraq, and which always was (from early 2004 on), and even more now is, achievable not by doing something, but by doing nothing?

See, among many similar articles posted since February 2004,  "If General Petraeus Had Read War And Peace."

From Al Jazeera.com: 

Robert Grenier
Robert Grenier
Former CIA station chief Robert Grenier heads ERG partners, a financial consultancy firm.
Iraq: The gloves come off
The US has invested too much in Iraq to let Nouri al-Maliki tear the burgeoning democracy into pieces.
02 Jan 2012
Obama must engage positively with the increasingly authoritarian Nouri al-Maliki, yet also reach out to his opponents [GALLO/GETTY]

Washington, DC - I must confess I didn't see it coming.

Yes, Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has always shown autocratic tendencies, unsurprisingly given the traditional political role models with which Iraqis are working. And yes, he has long over-centralised security power in his own hands, maintaining personal control over the Interior, Defence and National Security Ministries and making the Baghdad Operations Command directly answerable to his personal office. But this, too, is not entirely unexpected, given the tenuousness of Iraqi internal security. 

And finally, yes, Abu Isra [the use of "Abu Isra" -- an example of kunya -- to refer to Al-Maliki is meant to supply a reassuring hint of knowingness, of this guy sure knows what he's talking about so maybe I should become a client of ERG Partners, "a financial consultancy firm"]has been transparently uncomfortable in sharing any authority with the Iraqiyya bloc, the largest vote-getter in the last elections, and has essentially reneged on many of the elaborate power-sharing arrangements reached in the so-called Irbil accords, which facilitated formation of his government. But again, here too, Maliki has not been entirely outside his rights. He did, after all, form the most viable parliamentary coalition, giving him the right to form a government, and the vague provisions for an extraordinary National Security Council to be chaired by his chief political rival, and to which key domestic and national security policies were to be referred, were simply never realistic.

Now, however, only days after the final withdrawal of American troops, it is clear that al-Maliki has finally gone too far. His recent actions have served to strip the veneer of legitimacy from his past policies, and have revealed those past actions as the precursors to a naked power-grab. Beginning with the sudden and summary arrest of some 615 alleged Baathists, including many of Maliki's political enemies and conducted while the final push to evacuate the last of the US troops was conveniently underway, the Iraqi prime minister has gone on to press politically-motivated terrorism charges against Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni Islamist and a prominent member of Iraqiyya. At the same time, the Shia Maliki has moved to orchestrate a parliamentary no-confidence vote to oust Sunni deputy Prime Minister Saleh Mutlaq, another prominent member of Iraqiyya, ostensibly over a personal slight. Other political opponents have awakened to find tanks around their homes.

Follow in-depth coverage of the nation in flux

The upshot is that Hashemi has now sought asylum in Iraqi Kurdistan, against whose leaders Maliki is now making vague threats. In the face of Iraqiyya's predictable walkout from the Council of Representatives (CoR) and boycott of the cabinet, Maliki is threatening to replace its ministers with interim appointments lacking CoR approval. And in response to Sunni-majority Diyala province's stated desire to seek protection from the current wave of politically-motivated arrests through formation of an autonomous region - which is permitted under the Iraqi constitution - the rogue prime minister vows to unleash "rivers of blood".

Not for the faint-hearted

Democratic politics in Iraq is not for the faint-hearted, even in the best of times. But Nouri al-Maliki's current moves are a qualitative departure from the past. He is not just seeking advantage over his political rivals, but to permanently discredit them and, in the process, threatens to disenfranchise a large part of Iraq's population. He risks unravelling Iraq's promising, if bumptious transition to genuine democracy, potentially plunging his country into renewed civil war in the bargain.

American observers are wringing their hands over these developments, bemoaning the US' sharply decreased leverage, while US leaders attempt to employ what diplomatic suasion they can to calm the situation. Meanwhile, President Obama's political detractors point to these startling reverses, along with a general upshot in violence, as yet more evidence of the American administration's incompetence in failing to negotiate an extended mandate for US military forces in Iraq.

Infographic: US ends Iraq war chapter

All see the current risks to the US' painful investment in Iraq posed by the end of the US military presence, whether they publicly hail the US departure as a victory, as the administration does, or denounce it as a failure. Seemingly none, however, perceive the real opportunities posed by the US' new posture in Mesopotamia.

First, it should be acknowledged that the complaints of President Obama's Republican critics are vapid. There was never any chance that an Iraqi parliament would approve an extension of the US military mandate, particularly if it included special immunities from Iraqi prosecution. These privileges may be routine elsewhere, but in Iraq, the US Army was still seen as an occupying force. Under these circumstances, no popularly-elected body in the world would have approved a standard US Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), and American leaders should have had wits enough to realise it. 

What Americans also fail to realise, however, is the extent to which the US departure not only symbolically liberates Iraq, but also liberates the US - and not just from the burden of maintaining a large force in harm's way. Now that the US is no longer freighted with responsibility for Iraq's security, it can begin to exert its influence in far more normal ways, and ones to which neither Iraqis nor Americans are accustomed. The US' role in Iraq has changed; its habits of mind must now follow.

Iranian influence

US officials have long decried Iranian influence in Iraq, forgetting that such influence is inevitable, and subject to certain natural limits. Rather than complain about the Iranians, however, Americans would be well advised to emulate them.
What would this look like? Well, like the Iranians, the US should be willing to work on multiple tracks in Iraq, calibrating each to the same ultimate ends. While the US exercises its not inconsiderable diplomatic weight with various government and military players, with whom US forces have trained, fought, and bled, the US should also not hesitate to deal independently with Iraqi leaders and factions who are being progressively subjected to a tyranny of the majority under Prime Minister Maliki. Simultaneously, the US should set in place the networks required to provide them with such support as they may eventually need to resist suppression, potentially to include paramilitary support in the event the Shia-dominated security forces are deployed against them.

"The US has invested far too much in Iraqi democracy... to let a smile be the sum total of its Iraq policy."

- Robert Grenier

I have long been among those who argue that the Sunni Arab states of the Gulf region have exaggerated the threat of Iran, and have been overly mistrustful of Iraq's Shia-led government. Such mistrust, if heretofore overblown, can nonetheless be useful. One suspects that some regimes in the region might welcome the opportunity to provide a base for US influence in Iraq which they themselves cannot exert.

It is not clear whether the current administration is capable of pursuing such a policy, but if it were, US action could well have the effect of making the Iranians into objective allies in helping to reign in the excesses of a rampant Nouri al-Maliki. Faced with the potential alternative of a destabilised Iraq in which its enemies cultivate proxies to create problems for it, the Iranian government might well conclude, as it has in the past, that its interests are best served by a politically stable Iraq in which sympathetic Shias have a naturally preponderant political role.

I confess I didn't see this crisis coming. I had thought Maliki is more clever than this. But now that it is here, the US must act.

The US can and must remain engaged with the Maliki-led government, particularly as there is no currently viable alternative in the wings. It should continue to treat Maliki, as President Obama did just a few weeks ago, with a smile, even as it selectively conditions its provision of aid, training and materiel, and reaches out unilaterally to his opponents. The US has invested far too much in Iraqi democracy, and has far too great a moral obligation to those Iraqi communities whom the Iraqi prime minister would oppress, to let a smile be the sum total of its Iraq policy. Maliki needs to know that there is something else behind the smile. Thus far, the Obama administration has treated Maliki with kid gloves. As with other would-be dictators in the region, it is time for the gloves to come off.

Robert L Grenier is chairman of ERG Partners, a financial advisory and consulting firm. He retired from the CIA in 2006, following a 27-year career in the CIA's Clandestine Service. Grenier served as Director of the CIA Counter-Terrorism Centre (CTC) from 2004 to 2006, coordinated CIA activities in Iraq from 2002 to 2004 as the Iraq Mission Manager, and was the CIA Chief of Station in Islamabad, Pakistan, before and after the 9/11 attacks.

Previously, he was the deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia, and also served as the CIA's chief of operational training. He is credited with founding the CIA's Counter-Proliferation Division. Grenier is now a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and speaks and writes frequently on foreign policy issues.

Posted on 01/02/2012 8:36 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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