The Rube In The Room
By: Mark W Adams

Fantastic Discussion over at "The Lake" with Patrick Graham, author of the outstanding Maclean's article, “How George Bush Became the New Saddam” I discussed the other day here.

TRex shared this conversation he had while arranging this live chat with Mr. Graham:
I spoke to Graham on the phone on Sunday and he said that Iraq calls to mind that old gambler’s adage, “If you can’t spot the rube in a poker game, then the rube is you.” US forces, both military and political, are walking a dangerous tightrope whereby they are now cozying up to our old enemies the Saddam loyalists in an effort to fight a beast of our own creation, al-Queda in Iraq.
Here's what I asked, and his response.

Patrick Graham @ 112
Mark Adams @ 63
Mr. Graham, I echo everyone's sentiment at the honor of having you here and I'm in awe of the fantastic work you've done. (Also, thanks TRex for getting him here and for pointing me to the his Harper's article, Beyond Fallujah)

I just saw across the wire that "Sunni Arab extremists have begun a systematic campaign to assassinate police chiefs, police officers, othe Interior Ministry officials and tribal leaders throughout Iraq, staging at least 10 attacks in 48 hours."

I was wondering if you had any reaction to that development, if you give it any credence, or would this be at odds with what you observed. Are we seeing the beginning of a new chapter in the "Anbar Awakening," a newly emboldened and sophisticated Sunni strategy, or is this just more of the same?

I hadn't seen this. I have to say that the Sunni world is so complicated right now, so riven and intense that summing it up by 'extremists' is a little too processed. I always found that reporting in Iraq is just sorting through conspiracy theories--the most outrageous ones are often true. It's so hard if you're not there on the ground listening to what Iraqis think because they know best. But the place is so so so confusing. That's what worries me about the Anbar Awakening/Surge. The US ARmy says they are allies but really they will begin creating a reality for their 'guests'...if you dont know who the rube in the room is...A friend of mine used to say under Saddam that the Iraqis didn't create press releases, you lived them. That still holds true.

There are much, much better questions and answers to be found there in the comments. Especially insightful are Graham's perspectives on the difference between his own "loyalties" when covering things with an American escort and when he was on the other side getting shot by them.

The one thing I took out of the discussion that you don't get from his articles is how smart the Iraqis are about their own country and how dumb we seem to them. We are the rubes and we're getting played.

But what do you expect from a country that can elect George W. Bush. Twice. One that has a Congress that can allow themselves to be bluffed by this four-flushing PrezNitWit time and time again and a media that doesn't even know they are mere chips in the game.