War News for Sunday, April 24, 2005
Bring 'em on: One Iraqi killed, three US soldiers and seven civilians injured in car bomb attack in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: AP cameraman killed in crossfire between insurgents and US forces in Mosul
Bring 'em on: Twin car bombs near police academy kill seven in Tikrit
Bring 'em on: One US soldier killed in bomb attack in al Haswah
Blair caught telling porkies
of journalists killed in Iraq since the illegal invasion commenced.
there has been a postponement of the formation of the new Iraqi government. The NYT
speculate that the Kurds are deliberately obstructing the formation of a government in hopes of getting rid Ibrahim Jaafari and bringing Iyad Allawi back in as PM. Juan Cole
says that there may be Kurdish politicians stupid enough or perverse enough to try this trick (though I doubt President Jalal Talabani is among them). He also cannot understand why Ibrahim Jaafari is bothering with the Iraqiya list. It only got 14 percent of the vote, and it is not needed for the United Iraqi Alliance to pass rules and laws in parliament, where it has 53% of the vote or so.
: American President George Bush on Saturday hailed what he saw as a new milestone in efforts to form a viable Iraqi security force, pointing out that for the first time since the beginning of the war, Iraqi troops and police now outnumber United States forces in the country.
But the Government Accountability Office said in a report made public last month that Iraqi security forces remain crippled by poor discipline, questionable loyalties and a rate of absenteeism possibly reaching tens of thousands. The study expressed serious doubts about the quality of Iraqi recruits and charged that "US government data do not provide reliable information on the status of Iraqi military and police forces." Meanwhile
, up the road, insurgents run relatively free, and last week they appeared to have used a hilltop outside of town to fire what they later said was a shoulder-launched, heat-seeking missile. The missile hit a chartered Russian-made helicopter Thursday, killing six Americans and five other foreigners, including a survivor executed by the guerrillas afterward. The U.S. official said this week that overall attacks had increased since the end of March. Roadside bombings and attacks on military targets are up by as much as 40 percent in parts of the country over the same period, according to estimates from private security outfits.
The Real Plan for Iraq
This is Rumour Control
has an interesting interview with John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org
. I recommend that you read it in full but here are some of the telling things that he has to say.
On Bases: No one says that they are going to be permanent, because permanent would imply that they would be there until the end of time -- either until the sun burns out or Christ returns in glory. You have to play with the language. What does Mr. Rumsfeld say? Mr. Rumsfeld says that we don't have an exit strategy and that our strategy is victory, that we are not planning on staying there permanently but we will stay there until we get the job done. Well, how long is it going to take? No one knows. I would say that the U.S. military is going to maintain current troop levels there for another two years when they might be able to start drawing them down to a hundred thousand.
On Exit Strategy:We're never going to leave. Think about it. We're still in Korea and the armistice was signed 53 years ago. There is no coherent explanation for why we are still there apart from the fact that we've been there for a long time. Everybody has become accustomed to our presence, and it's easier for everybody just to roll along with us there than for people to contemplate what the world would look like without us there.
On Iraq's Future:How many fighter planes did Iraq have before the war? Several hundred. How many fight airplanes do they have now? Zero. How many fighter planes do we plan on them having five years from now? Zero. What kind of country is it that has no air force? It is called a protectorate.
Only Report the Good News
A state department report which showed an increase in terrorism incidents around the world in 2004 was altered to strip it of its pessimistic statistics according to the Guardian
The country-by-country report, Patterns of Global Terrorism, has come out every year since 1986, accompanied by statistical tables. This year's edition showed a big increase, from 172 significant terrorist attacks in 2003 to 655 in 2004. Much of the increase took place in Iraq, contradicting recent Pentagon claims that the insurgency there is waning. Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, ordered the report to be withdrawn and a new one issued minus the statistics.
A Democratic congressman, Henry Waxman, has written an angry letter about the change to Cameron Hume, the state department's inspector general, arguing that Ms Rice's decision "denies the public access to important information about the incidence of terrorism". Mr Waxman said: "There appears to be a pattern in the administration's approach to terrorism data: favourable facts are revealed while unfavourable facts are suppressed."
A Case for the UN
Now it is the poorer countries whose soldiers are spread across the hills between Tyre and Golan. India's army can also be found on duty in the Democratic Republic of Congo and, shortly, in the Sudan and Ethiopia. The UN's global reach thus seems to be revolving more and more around non-Nato forces. Our superior Western armies, I suspect, are much happier in Bosnia or illegally invading Iraq. Lord (Tony) Blair of Kut al-Amara is not going to waste his men on the Israeli border.
But all this does raise an important question: Do nations that we once called "Third World" make better peacekeepers? Would it not be more appropriate to have soldiers who understand poverty keeping the peace in lands of poverty? I can remember now, amid the corruption and terrors of the Bosnian and Croatian wars, how the smartest and the most disciplined contingent turned out to be not the French or the Canadians, but the Jordanian battalion on the Serb border.
There was a time, back in 2002, - when US President George Bush was threatening the UN - when I was asked in New York if I "believed in the UN". It was a bit like being asked if one believed in God or the Devil, which I'm sure Bush does. But I have to admit that while I'm not at all sure about God - or at least Bush's version of him - I did reply that, yes, I believed in the UN. And I still do.
It was in Bosnia that I had a long discussion with a Canadian UN officer about the worth of the United Nations. His theory was quite simple: If we'd had a UN in 1914, it might have stopped World War 1. "And despite everything that's gone wrong in Bosnia, it would have been far worse - much more like the World War 2 - if the UN wasn't here." The debacle in Somalia hardly supports this view, but have the Americans done any better in Iraq?
Once the UN was discarded, in went the US army and Lord Blair's lads - and now they've got an insurgency on their hands.
"Duty Unto Death" might suit the Indian battalion in Lebanon, but I doubt if many US troops would adopt this as their regimental motto. The Indian army served in Sri Lanka, whose suicide bombers would make even Iraq's killers look tame.
So here's a satanic question: What if the UN had sent a multinational force into Iraq in the early spring of 2003? Could it have been a worse mess than we have in Iraq today? If Saddam Hussein could have his weapons of mass destruction destroyed by the UN - and they were destroyed by the UN, were they not, because we know that there weren't any there when we invaded - might the UN not also have been able to insert military units after forcing Saddam to disband his regime? No?
Well, in that case, how come Syria's regime in Lebanon is crumbling under UN Security Council Resolution 1559? On Thursday even Jamil Sayyed - the pro-Syrian head of Lebanon's General Security, a figure more powerful and definitely more sinister than the Lebanese president - stepped aside. True, it was the French and the Americans who pushed for resolution 1559. But how many of us will stand up today and admit that the UN is doing in Lebanon what the US has failed to do in Iraq?