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During the late 1980s, I was working as an officer in the Iraqi Army when my commanding general received a letter that demanded I report to a palace in Baghdad within 72 hours. When I went to the palace, I was brought to see Uday Hussein, Saddam’s older son. “I want you to be my fiday,” he said. In Arabic, fiday means body double or bullet catcher. I didn’t understand. “Do you want me to be your bodyguard?” I asked. “No,” he said. “Our intelligence service says we look like each other, and I want you to work as my double.”
In tonight’s speech on Iraq, the president must do the impossible: plan a finish to a war without end.
The video accompanying Jess Ramirez’s war porn story (warning—this video has some pretty graphic images of dead people)
Katie Paul, with a good piece on the latest from Wikileaks
Sometimes our staffers get cranky in the mornings….
It has to be said and it should be understood—now, almost seven hellish years later—that something that looks mighty like democracy is emerging in Iraq. And while it may not be a beacon of inspiration to the region, it most certainly is a watershed event that could come to represent a whole new era in the history of the massively undemocratic Middle East.
The elections to be held in Iraq on March 7 feature 6,100 parliamentary candidates from all of the country’s major sects and many different parties. They have wildly conflicting interests and ambitions. Yet in the past couple of years, these politicians have come to see themselves as part of the same club, where hardball political debate has supplanted civil war and legislation is hammered out, however slowly and painfully, through compromises—not dictatorial decrees or, for that matter, the executive fiats of U.S. occupiers. Although protected, encouraged, and sometimes tutored by Washington, Iraq’s political class is now shaping its own system—what Gen. David Petraeus calls “Iraqracy.” With luck, the politics will bolster the institutions through which true democracy thrives.
Dehghanpisheh, Barry and Dickey on the emerging democratic Iraq
"I think it is just best to say I’m a realist. The reality is that Afghanistan is hard; it is hard all the time, and what we are endeavoring to do is going to be very, very challenging. As Gen. [Stanley] McChrystal said, ‘The situation is serious, but the mission is doable.’ I do agree with that, but I do that in a way that is coldly realistic, that assesses the challenges and how difficult the tasks are."
-Gen. David Petraeus, in an interview with NEWSWEEK’s Fareed Zakaria
Photo: Charles Ommanney/Getty Images for Newsweek