Tuesday, October 17, 2006

We're Doomed

I always doubted the reports that Bush, just prior to the Iraq War, was unaware that there was a sectarian division between Shi'ites and Sunnis in the country he was planning to invade. Don't get me wrong: I don't like the guy, and am generally willing to believe bad things about him. But it apparently derived from some emigrés he met with at that time. And I have heard from second-order hearsay that Bush in person is actually quite different from the amiable doofus he likes to appear as on TV screens.

But now Jeff Stein reports that a large number of senior American policy makers and national security officials still don't know the difference.

Here's Terry Everett, vice-chair of the House subcommittee on technical and intelligence issues, and apparently a nice guy, with an epiphany he ought to have had a while ago:

“One’s in one location, another’s in another location. No, to be honest with you, I don’t know. I thought it was differences in their religion, different families or something.”

To his credit, he asked me to explain the differences. I told him briefly about the schism that developed after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, and how Iraq and Iran are majority Shiite nations while the rest of the Muslim world is mostly Sunni. “Now that you’ve explained it to me,” he replied, “what occurs to me is that it makes what we’re doing over there extremely difficult, not only in Iraq but that whole area.”

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