'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Why Does Silvestre Reyes Wants to Send 20,000 to 30,000 More Troops to Iraq? 

Last week, I described how the new Democratic majority in the House and Senate is rapidly repudiating any expectations that it will act to push the President to withdraw troops from Iraq. If anything, the momentum is towards sending more troops, 20,000 to 30,000 more, as most recently advocated by, and I am merely being descriptive here, the new chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Silvestre Reyes of Texas.

Why is Reyes advocating such a ridiculous notion in the face of contrary public sentiment, and regurgitating neoconservative talking points to defend it? The answer is quite simple: he's an idiot, as revealed by this Congressional Quarterly interview:

We warmed up with a long discussion about intelligence issues and Iraq. And then we veered into terrorism’s major players.

To me, it’s like asking about Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland: Who’s on what side?

The dialogue went like this:

Al Qaeda is what, I asked, Sunni or Shia?

Al Qaeda, they have both,” Reyes said. “You’re talking about predominately?”

“Sure,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“Predominantly — probably Shiite,” he ventured.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Al Qaeda is profoundly Sunni. If a Shiite showed up at an al Qaeda club house, they’d slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball.

That’s because the extremist Sunnis who make up a l Qaeda consider all Shiites to be heretics.

Al Qaeda’s Sunni roots account for its very existence. Osama bin Laden and his followers believe the Saudi Royal family besmirched the true faith through their corruption and alliance with the United States, particularly allowing U.S. troops on Saudi soil.

Reyes didn't do much better when the subject turned to Hizbollah:

And Hezbollah? I asked him. What are they?

Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah...”

He laughed again, shifting in his seat.

“Why do you ask me these questions at five o’clock? Can I answer in Spanish? Do you speak Spanish?”

“Poquito,” I said—a little.

“Poquito?! “ He laughed again.

“Go ahead,” I said, talk to me about Sunnis and Shia in Spanish.

Reyes: “Well, I, uh....”

I apologized for putting him “on the spot a little.” But I reminded him that the people who have killed thousands of Americans on U.S. soil and in the Middle East have been front page news for a long time now.

It’s been 23 years since a Hezbollah suicide bomber killed over 200 U.S. military personnel in Beirut, mostly Marines.

Hezbollah, a creature of Iran, is close to taking over in Lebanon. Reports say they are helping train Iraqi Shiites to kill Sunnis in the spiralling civil war.

“Yeah,” Reyes said, rightly observing, “but . . . it’s not like the Hatfields and the McCoys. It’s a heck of a lot more complex.

“And I agree with you — we ought to expend some effort into understanding them. But speaking only for myself, it’s hard to keep things in perspective and in the categories.”

One is tempted to say that this is a classic example of the blind leading the blind, except that it would be an insult to blind people, as I am certain that there are plenty of blind people with a greater understanding of al-Qaeda and, especially Hizbollah, than expressed by both Reyes and the interviewer, Jeff Stein, who is, you guessed it, the National Security Editor for CQ. Hizbollah, a creature of Iran?

Apparently, Stein had other assignments after the 1983 bombing of the Marines, and never learned that Hizbollah is a mass movement that mobilized southern Lebanon so effectively that it ended the Israeli occupation after an 18 year struggle, and, most recently, defeated the IDF when it invaded the country again in July and August. Stein also conveniently neglects to mention that, prior to the killing of the Marines, the US had intervened militarily on the side of the Christian Maronites against Hizbollah.

No wonder we are on the verge of igniting sectarian violence in Lebanon to prevent it, and their Shia supporters, from obtaining their rightful share of power there, just as we abetted sectarian violence in Iraq to justify a perpetual occupation. Reyes knows nothing about them, which, in this instance, is actually superior to the neoconservative and Zionist stereotypes purveyed by Stein.

Unfortunately, it appears that Reyes' lack of knowledge also makes him gullible enough to accept what people like Stein tell him about Iraq and Lebanon, and goes a long way towards explaining why he, and other Democrats, aren't going to do anything to reduce the US military presence in Iraq, much less end the occupation.

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