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September 23, 2008

Montezuma Tried Appeasement with Cortes


ConquistadorBK.jpg










Source of book image: http://images.barnesandnoble.com/images/26910000/26912572.jpg

(p. A 13) Cortés was a man of deep contradictions. A devout Catholic, he was horrified by the sights and sounds of Aztec worship: its human sacrifices and cannibalism, its skull racks, its idols draped with human body parts, its priests with their blood-clotted hair. But he was not above massacring his enemies or burning them at the stake. He was genuinely dazzled by his first sight of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán, with its tidy fields and gleaming stone causeways, a city of nearly a quarter-million people that was, he wrote in a letter to the Spanish king, more beautiful than any in Europe. Even so, he was ready to destroy it all to feed his desire for gold and to bend the Aztecs to his will.

If Cortés was a man of contradictions, Montezuma was not. Studious and conscientious, he had been trained for Aztec priesthood before becoming emperor in 1503 -- the same year that Cortes set out from Spain for America. Montezuma believed in the rightness of his own convictions but also, it appears, in the importance of an open mind. As Mr. Levy shows, he always looked for ways to dispel a crisis by placating the feelings of all concerned. He would have made a fine college president. From his first meeting with Cortés in November 1519, though, he was desperately overmatched.

Montezuma hoped that, by giving Cortés magnificent gifts of gold and silver, he could make him go away. He made him want to stay instead. The Aztec ruler never quite shook off the suspicion that Cortés might be the Aztec god Quetzelcoatl returning home according to ancient prophesy -- a suspicion that led Montezuma to want to treat the intrusive Spaniards as guests rather than a threat.

Cortés exploited Montezuma's weakness without scruple, squeezing one concession after another out of him until, though outnumbered by more than 1,000-to-1, Cortés made him a hostage. When Montezuma had lost all credibility with his people and was no longer useful, Cortés cast him aside. Montezuma died a broken man -- although probably not, Mr. Levy argues, at Cortes's order. It is more likely that Montezuma died from wounds inflicted by his own subjects. When they saw him appear in chains and appeal for calm, they had bombarded him with stones and arrows. His weakness, they understood, had betrayed them to the Spanish.



For the full review, see:

ARTHUR HERMAN. "Bookshelf; Spain Says Hello." The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., July 10, 2008): A13.

The reference for the book, is:

Levy, Buddy. Conquistador. New York: Bantam Books, 2008.




November 30, 2007

Evidence that Bush's Iraq Surge is Working

 

  "LOVE PREVAILS. A bride and groom, surrounded by friends and a band, dressed for their wedding photos last week in Baghdad."  Source of caption and photo:  online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below. 

 

(p. A1)  BAGHDAD, Nov. 19 — Five months ago, Suhaila al-Aasan lived in an oxygen tank factory with her husband and two sons, convinced that they would never go back to their apartment in Dora, a middle-class neighborhood in southern Baghdad.

Today she is home again, cooking by a sunlit window, sleeping beneath her favorite wedding picture. And yet, she and her family are remarkably alone. The half-dozen other apartments in her building echo with emptiness and, on most days, Iraqi soldiers are the only neighbors she sees.

“I feel happy,” she said, standing in her bedroom, between a flowered bedspread and a bullet hole in the wall. “But my happiness is not complete. We need more people to come back. We need more people to feel safe.”

Mrs. Aasan, 45, a Shiite librarian with an easy laugh, is living at the far end of Baghdad’s tentative recovery. She is one of many Iraqis who in recent weeks have begun to test where they can go and what they can do when fear no longer controls their every move.

The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad’s streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says.

As a result, for the first time in nearly two years, people are moving with freedom around much of this city. In more than 50 interviews across Baghdad, it became clear that while there were still no-go zones, more Iraqis now drive between Sunni and Shiite areas for work, shopping or school, a few even after dark. In the most stable neighborhoods of Baghdad, some secular women are also dressing as they wish. Wedding bands are playing in public again, and at a handful of once shuttered liquor stores customers now line up outside in a collective rebuke to religious vigilantes from the Shiite Mahdi Army.

Iraqis are clearly surprised and relieved to see (p. A8) commerce and movement finally increase, five months after an extra 30,000 American troops arrived in the country.

 

For the full story, see: 

DAMIEN CAVE and ALISSA J. RUBIN.  "As Security Improves, Baghdad Starts to Exhale."  The New York Times   (Tues., November 20, 2007):  A1 & A8.

(Note:  the slightly different online title was "Baghdad’s Weary Start to Exhale as Security Improves.")

 

 

"COMMERCE RETURNS. A Baghdad market, shut by violence, recently reopened."  Source of caption and photo:  online version of the NYT article quoted and cited above. 

 




November 3, 2007

Not All World Views Can Be Accommodated

 

   1935 photos of painted Caduveo women from Claude Lévi-Strauss Structural Anthropology.  Source of photos:  online version of the NYT article cited below.

 

I remember in a philosophy class back in the 1970s, the philosopher Stephen Toulmin mentioning that he had once attended a conference with the famed anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss.  For a long while Lévi-Strauss sat in silence.  Finally he stirred himself to speak, and Toulmin wondered what wisdom the great man would pronounce. 

His comment was something like:  "It is hot in here.  Will someone open a window?" 

 

News of the death of the philosopher Richard Rorty on June 8 came as I was reading about a small Brazilian tribe that the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss studied in the 1930s. A strange accident, a haphazard juxtaposition — but for a moment this pragmatist philosopher and a fading tribal culture glanced against each other, revealing something unusual about the contemporary scene.

. . .

For Mr. Rorty, the importance of democracy is that it creates a liberal society in which rival truth claims can compete and accommodate each other. His pragmatism was postmodern, tolerant to a fault, its moral and progressive conclusions never appealing to a higher authority.

. . .

The Caduveo founding myth recounts that, lacking other gifts at the moment of creation, the tribe was given the divine right to exploit and dominate others.

. . .

But there was also something else about this tribe that drew Mr. Lévi-Strauss’s attention: “It was a society remarkably adverse to feelings that we consider as being natural.” Its members disliked having children. Abortion and infanticide were so common that the only way the tribe itself could continue was by adoption, and adoption — more properly called abduction — was traditionally implemented through warfare. The tribal disdain for nature extended into its active denigration of hair, agriculture, childbirth and even, perhaps, representational art.

. . .

In reasoning one’s way into pragmatism, in minimizing the importance of natural constraints and in dismissing the notion of some larger truth, the tendency is to assume that as different as we all are, we are at least prepared to accommodate ourselves to one another. But this is not something the Caduveo would necessarily have gone along with. Mr. Rorty’s outline of what he called “the utopian possibilities of the future” doesn’t leave much room for the kind of threat the Caduveo might pose, let alone other threats, still active in the world.

One tendency of pragmatism might be to so focus on the ways in which one’s own worldview is flawed that trauma is more readily attributed to internal failure than to external challenges. In one of his last interviews Mr. Rorty recalled the events of 9/11: “When I heard the news about the twin towers, my first thought was: ‘Oh, God. Bush will use this the way Hitler used the Reichstag fire.’ ”

If that really was his first thought, it reflects a certain amount of reluctance to comprehend forces lying beyond the boundaries of his familiar world, an inability fully to imagine what confrontations over truth might look like, possibly even a resistance to stepping outside of one’s skin or mental habits.

But in this too the Caduveo example may be suggestive. As Mr. Lévi-Strauss points out, neighboring Brazilian tribes were as hierarchical as the Caduveo but lacked the tribe’s sweeping “fanaticism” in rejecting the natural world. They reached differing forms of accommodation with their surroundings. The Caduveo, refusing even to procreate, didn’t have a chance. They survive now as sedentary farmers. Such a fate of denatured inconsequence may eventually be shared by absolutist postmodernism. The Caduveo’s ideas weren’t useful, perhaps. Some weren’t even true.

 

For the full commentary, see: 

EDWARD ROTHSTEIN.  "CONNECTIONS; Postmodern Thoughts, Illuminated by the Practices of a Premodern Tribe."  The New York Times   (Mon., June 18, 2007):  B3.

(Note:  ellipses added.)

 

 RortyRichard.jpg Levi-StraussClaude.jpg   Rorty on left; Lévi-Strauss on right.  Source of photos:  online version of the NYT article cited above.

 




August 6, 2007

Brookings Harsh Critics of Bush Iraq Policies, Surprised to See Military Progress in Iraq

 

Please note that the commentary excerpted below was published on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times, and was written by two policy experts at the Brookings Institute, the leading think-tank of the Democratic party.

 

Washington.  VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work.

Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.

Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done.

. . .

In war, sometimes it’s important to pick the right adversary, and in Iraq we seem to have done so. A major factor in the sudden change in American fortunes has been the outpouring of popular animus against Al Qaeda and other Salafist groups, as well as (to a lesser extent) against Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

These groups have tried to impose Shariah law, brutalized average Iraqis to keep them in line, killed important local leaders and seized young women to marry off to their loyalists. The result has been that in the last six months Iraqis have begun to turn on the extremists and turn to the Americans for security and help. The most important and best-known example of this is in Anbar Province, which in less than six months has gone from the worst part of Iraq to the best (outside the Kurdish areas). Today the Sunni sheiks there are close to crippling Al Qaeda and its Salafist allies. Just a few months ago, American marines were fighting for every yard of Ramadi; last week we strolled down its streets without body armor.

 

For the full commentary, see: 

MICHAEL E. O’ HANLON and KENNETH M. POLLACK.  "A War We Just Might Win."  The New York Times  (Mon., July 30, 2007):  A19.

(Note:  ellipses added.)

 




August 5, 2007

"Just Because George Bush Said It Doesn't Mean It's Wrong"

 

KerreyBobSenator.jpg   Former Nebraska Senator and Governor Bob Kerrey.  Source of photo:  online version of the Omaha World-Herald article cited below.

 

WASHINGTON - Raising a lonely voice in the Democratic Party, former Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska says he strongly opposes any dramatic U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Such a retreat, Kerrey says, would hand radical Islamic terrorists a substantial victory and enable them to destroy the fledgling democracy in Iraq.

In an article published Tuesday and in an interview, Kerrey said terrorists would gain safe haven from which to launch further attacks on American citizens like those of Sept. 11, 2001.

Kerrey said that if the United States shows weakness in Iraq, it will "pay a terrible price."

"The forces of al-Qaida have demonstrated a tremendous capacity, and they'll use that capacity if we withdraw from the playing field," said Kerrey, a former two-term U.S. senator.

In the interview, Kerrey also had a message for fellow Democrats: "Just because George Bush said it doesn't mean it's wrong."

 

For the full story, see:

JAKE THOMPSON.  "Kerrey says U.S. mustn't look weak in Iraq."  Omaha World-Herald  (Wednesday, May 23, 2007):  1A & 2A.

 

The link to Kerrey's opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal is:

BOB KERREY.  "The Left's Iraq Muddle."  The Wall Street Journal  (Tues., May 22, 2007):  A15. 

 




March 22, 2007

Bush Remembers Steadfast Washington

BushGeorgeWashingtonGeorge.jpg   Bush meets an actor playing the role of Washington at Mount Vernon on President's Day.  Source of photo:  online version of the NYT article cited below.

 

“With the advantage of hindsight, it is easy to take George Washington’s successes for granted,” Mr. Bush said after enumerating Washington’s achievements as commander of the Continental Army and later as president. But “America’s path to freedom was long and it was hard,” he continued, “and the outcome was never really certain.”

. . .

“I’m reading about George Washington still,” the president told reporters at a December news conference where he defended his Iraq policy. “My attitude is, if they’re still analyzing No. 1, 43 ought not to worry about it and just do what he thinks is right, and make the tough choices necessary.”

. . .

Mr. Bush spoke of General Washington’s “many challenges,” noting that the Continental Army “stood on the brink of disaster many times.” And he spoke of Washington’s resolute determination: “His will was unbreakable.”

The president spoke as well of a brief retirement at Mount Vernon between Washington’s return from the Revolutionary War and his presidency. Mr. Bush is already laying the groundwork for his own retirement with plans for a presidential library at Southern Methodist University, Laura Bush’s alma mater.

“All he wanted to do was return here to Mount Vernon and to be with his loving wife, Martha,” the 43rd president said of the first. “As he wrote with satisfaction to his friend Lafayette, ‘I am become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomac, and under the shadow of my own vine and my own fig tree.’ ”

 

For the full story, see: 

SHERYL GAY STOLBERG.  "Defending Nation’s Latest War, Bush Recalls Its First."  The New York Times   (Tues., February 20, 2007):  A16.

(Note:  ellipses added.)

 




January 16, 2007

The Resilience of Markets

 

(p. A11)  Bystanders pulled an 8-year-old boy from the charred wreckage of a marketplace where the poor come to buy used clothes and household goods.  Two of three explosions in the city claimed the lives of at least 17 people, including the boy's parents.

Vendors said the bombs, which killed seven people, were planted in wooden carts by two strangers who set up shop near the entrance and exit to the market and left just before the explosions.  After the initial shock of the explosions, shoppers and vendors resumed haggling over underwear and socks, eating shish kebab and turnips sweetened with date syrup.

"If I would go home, then what would my family eat?" said vendor Jabbar Shnawa, 35, who, after the explosion, sold a compact disc for 500 Iraqi dinars, about 40 cents.

 

For the full story, see:

Hennessy-Fiske, Molly.  "Saddam could be hanged by weekend."  St. Louis Post-Dispatch 12/29/2006):  A1 & A11.

(Note:  article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.)

 




July 6, 2006

'Dead Men Tell No Tales'--But If They Did, the Times Suggests They Would Not Speak Well of Saddam Hussein

If Ramsey Clark is looking for something to get outraged about, maybe he should visit the Blue Man's grave?  Source of photo:  the online version of the NYT article cited below.   

 

(p. A1) ON THE EDGE OF THE ASH SHAM DESERT, Iraq, June 3 — Among experts on the American-led team investigating Iraq's mass graves, the skeletal remains lying face-up at the rear of the tangled grave here have been given a name — the Blue Man — that speaks for a sorrowful familiarity developed by some of those who work with victims of mass murder.

But more than his blue shirt, and his blue-striped trousers, what distinguishes the remains is the way they speak for the terror of death under Saddam Hussein.  The man was thrown backward by automatic weapons fire, his eyes blindfolded and his arms tied behind his back, his skull jerked upward at the neck, his fleshless mouth gaping, his two rows of teeth stretched apart, as though in a primal scream.

Together, in the late winter of 1991, at least 28 men were executed here, crowded together in a pit their killers scraped with a backhoe from the desert floor.  Rounded up along the alleyways of their native city, they were forced aboard a bus or truck and driven out along an isolated highway.

After barely half an hour's journey, the grim caravan turned down a bumpy track, halting just far enough into the desert for gunfire to be muffled from passing traffic.

The end would have come quickly, the forensic experts said, victims stumbling out of the vehicle, herded into the pit, then pushed forward into a shallow cut not much wider or longer than a stretch limousine.  At the last moment, judging by the pile of bodies, the victims surged backward, perhaps in terror at the sound of rifles being readied for fire.

Among the bodies, the experts have located at least 80 spent cartridges from Kalashnikov rifles, which were the weapon of choice among the killers of Mr. Hussein's secret police.

Michael Trimble, who is called Sonny, the leader of the mass-graves team that set up camp beside an escarpment in Iraq's western desert last month, is a 53-year-old forensic archaeologist from St. Louis.  He is a veteran of other sites of mass killings around the world, on assignment from a civilian post with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Standing above the pit where the desert victims died, he said the 120-member team here, now in their third week of excavation and examination of two mass-grave sites, were sustained through days of punishing 130-degree heat by an urge to bring justice for the victims.

"When you work with these people for some time," he said, referring to the remains, "you get real attached to them, you feel real bad about what happened to them, and you want to do whatever you can to bring their killers to account."

 

For the full story, see:

JOHN F. BURNS. "Uncovering Iraq's Horrors in Desert Graves." The New York Times  (Monday, June 5, 2006):   A1 & A10. 




May 19, 2006

If Bush's spirit breaks "evil will indeed triumph"

Natan Sharansky was a political prisoner for nine years in the Soviet Union.  He is articulate and passionate.  But I am not so sure he is right in almost equating freedom and democracy.

While I was an undergraduate at Wabash College, Ben Rogge arranged for Erik Maria Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn to visit campus for a week.  Kuehnelt-Leddihn was an improbable walras of a man.  On my first encounter with him, I was stunned to hear him arguing that a monarchy embued with noblese oblige would be more likely to defend freedom, than would a democracy.  At first I thought the conclusion was patently absurd.  But over time, I gradually came to believe that although it was probably a false conclusion, it was not an absurd one. 

History, and modern experience, provide us many examples of democracies that severely restrict the freedom of their citizens.  And perhaps, for a time, freedom can thrive under enlightened monarchs, or dictators?

I hope, and still believe, that democracy is the system of government most likely, most of the time, to promote freedom.  If so, then what Bush is trying to do, may eventually leave the world safer, and more free:

 

Critics rail against every step on the new and difficult road on which the United States has embarked.  Yet in pointing out the many pitfalls which have not been avoided and those which still can be, those critics would be wise to remember that the alternative road leads to the continued oppression of hundreds of millions of people and the continued festering of the pathologies that led to 9/11.

Now that President Bush is increasingly alone in pushing for freedom, I can only hope that his dissident spirit will continue to persevere.  For should that spirit break, evil will indeed triumph, and the consequences for our world would be disastrous.

 

For the full commentary, see:

Sharansky, Natan.  "Dissident President."  The Wall Street Journal  (Mon., April 24, 2006):  A15.




April 29, 2006

Near Ancient Babylon in Iraq, "the streets pulsate with life"

BabylonMap.jpg Source of map:  http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/18/world/middleeast/18babylon.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

 

(p. A1) Ancient Babylon, celebrated as a fount of law, writing and urban living, sits just outside the modern-day city of Hilla, about 60 miles south of Baghdad.  Hilla is neither haunted by Sunni insurgents nor overwhelmed by Shiite militias.  And though it has a mix of Shiites and Sunnis, it has not been afflicted by the sectarian violence that has paralyzed so many other heterogeneous parts of Iraq.

Factories are churning, Iraqi security forces are patrolling and the streets pulsate with life — children bounding to school, crowds wading into markets, taxis gliding by.

. . .

(p. A6) The American military still maintains bases near Babylon, but next month, in a sign of how relatively stable the area has become, most troops will pull out and head north to Baghdad, where they are needed more.

 

For the full story, see: 

Gentleman, Jeffrey.  "Babylon Awaits an Iraq Without Fighting."   The New York Times (Tues., April 18, 2006):  A1 & A6.




February 2, 2006

The Creation of "Freedom" in Iraq

 

Freedom.jpg "Freedom" (oil painting by Esam Pashwa). Source of image: http://www.artvitae.com/art.asp?art_id=1571&bhcp=1

 

When Saddam Hussein fell, artist Esam Pashwa pulled down a huge poster of Sadam and painted a mural underneath. The gesture, and the art, attracted the attention of art expert Peter Falk, who contacted and encouraged Pashwa. He learned that Pashwa, in addition to his art, has served as a translator for the coalition forces in Iraq. Falk has organized a show of Pashwa's work in a New York gallery.

As of 2/1/06, the "Freedom" oil painting above was offered for sale through the gallery. For more information: Peter Hastings Falk Hastings Art Management Services, Inc. P.O. Box 833 Madison, CT 06443 203.245.4761 peterfalk@comcast.net

(The source of most of the information in the entry above, was a CNN report/interview entitled "The Art of War" that was broadcast on 2/1/06. It is viewable at CNN.com at: http://www.cnn.com/video/partners/clickability/index.html?url=/video/world/2006/02/01/intv.art.of.war.cnn)

 




January 13, 2006

"Now we feel free"

The photos are by Ashley Gilberston, and the source was the online version of the article cited below.

The American invasion has been a bittersweet episode in the lives of many Iraqis here. In two afternoons of interviews in the parks this week, with both Shiites and Sunnis, mostly secular working people, they said the dangers that had shrunk their lives in certain ways had come along with new advantages.

Hind Jabr, a 16-year-old in a head scarf with bangles on her wrists, spoke proudly of the red Toyota her parents bought used two years ago. The salaries of her mother, a teacher, and her father, a police officer, have jumped since 2003. "We were suffering under Saddam," said Ms. Jabr, sitting on a stone ledge that overlooked the lake. "It was safer, but we couldn't get things."

. . .

For Mr. Sadiq, there was a lesson in the day's serenity. "Don't focus on these bombs - they will end definitely," he said. "What's most important now is that Iraqis feel comfortable inside themselves. Now we feel free."

For the full article, see:

SABRINA TAVERNISE. "In a City of Mayhem, a Respite in the Park." THE NEW YORK TIMES (Fri., January 13, 2006): A4.




December 17, 2005

Sunnis Reject Car Bombings: "Bush has said it correctly"

Iraqi woman with purple ink on finger, indicating she has voted. (Photo by Matt Dunham/AP; photo source: http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/international/20051216_IRAQ_FEATURE/blocker.html)


Optimistic news on Iraq appears on the first page of the Fri., Dec. 16, 2005 New York Times (not often identified as a lackey supporter of Bush administration foreign policy). Here is an excerpt from the article:

(A1) BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 15 - Ali is only 9 years old. But when he and his buddies broke away from a street soccer game to drop into a polling station in Baghdad's Adhamiya district at noon on Thursday, Ali, a chirpy, tousle-haired youngster, seemed to catch the mood of the district's Sunni Arab population as well as anybody.

"We don't want car bombs, we want security," he said. Yards away, Sunni grown-ups were casting ballots in classrooms where the boys would have been studying Arabic or arithmetic or geography - "Boring, boring!" said Ali - had the school not been drafted for use as one of 6,000 polling stations across Iraq.

On a day when the high voter turnout among Sunni Arabs was the main surprise, Ali and his posse of friends, unguarded as boys can be, acted like a chorus for the scene unfolding about them. A new willingness to distance themselves from the insurgency, an absence of hostility for Americans, a casual contempt for Saddam Hussein, a yearning for Sunnis to find a place for themselves in the post-Hussein Iraq - the boys' themes were their parents', too, only more boldly expressed.

. . .

(A15) "Before, we had a dictator, and now we have this freedom, this democracy," said Emad Abdul Jabbar, 38, a teacher acting as supervisor at the Ahrar school polling site. "This time, we have a real election, not just the sham elections we had under Saddam, and we Sunnis want to participate in the political process."

A 60-year-old merchant, Abdul Kader al-Saffar, and his wife, Ammal Abdul Razzaq, 40, who voted with their three sons, agreed. "We have found candidates in this election we can trust," Mr. Saffar said, referring to the Iraqi Consensus Front, a moderate Sunni group that had several of its political workers killed during the campaign.

Another thing many Sunnis seemed to agree on was the possibility of a reconciliation between the Americans and the Sunnis, and a distancing of the Sunnis from some of the Al Qaeda-linked insurgent groups. Many were critical of American troops, saying, as Mr. Saleh did, that "they came as liberators, but stayed on as occupiers." But pressed on the question of an American troop withdrawal, most seemed cautious, favoring a gradual drawdown.

"Let's have stability, and then the Americans can go home," said Mr. Sattar, the store owner. Told that this sounded similar to President Bush's formula for a troop withdrawal, he replied: "Then Bush has said it correctly".


For the full article, see:

JOHN F. BURNS. "Freedom From Fear Lifts Sunnis in Iraqi Election." The New York Times (Fri., December 16, 2005): A1 & A15.




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