What We Knew About the Shiites

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One of the more neglected points about the Downing Street Memos is not that they prove that the Bush administration lied and cooked up a shoddy legal justification to go to war with Iraq. They certainly suggest that, but even more damningly, they show that the Bush administration had no idea what it was getting into. Did they know anything about the internal workings of Iraq? One of the memos, the Options Paper has this little tidbit: “Most Shia would like to have a greater say in government but not necessarily control.” Oh, whoops. Maybe that explains why the CPA was so befuddled when Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani demanded that the Americans drop their plan to install their allies and hold direct elections.

Meanwhile, might I add, for anyone considering—oh, I don’t know—an invasion of Syria, that at least in Iraq we had the benefit of Iraqi exile groups giving us some information about the internal dynamics of the country. In Syria we know even less.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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