War News for Monday, July 18, 2005
Bring 'em on: Five Iraqis killed and seven injured in bomb attack near the electoral commission in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: One US soldier killed and two wounded in bomb attack north of Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Three policemen and a government worker gunned down as they walked to work in Baghdad
will be interviewing Moqtada Al Sadr tonight.
, the British Defence Secretary, told CNN yesterday that Britain could start to reduce its troop levels in Iraq over the next 12 months. He said that neither Britain nor America had any imperialist ambitions and were anxious that Iraqi forces should assume responsibility for security. I suppose since civil war is now inevitable, it's mission accomplished, as reported below:
Yes, just one day after London's agony, the state terrorists who perpetrated the ongoing mass atrocity of aggressive war in Iraq celebrated an important victory in their campaign of violence and fear: 11 juicy oil fields are being put up for tender to international investors, AdnKronos International reports.
The corporate cornucopia of these fertile fields in oil-laden southern Iraq -- 3 million barrels per day, said Jihad -- will surpass the nation's entire current output of 2.2 million bpd: rich pickings for the oil barons whose branch office in the White House has done such outstanding advance work for them. With oil prices soaring past $60 per barrel -- on their way to the $100 mark in the near future, some experts say -- the $25 billion ante that the Iraqis are seeking will be a small price to pay for a seat at this game.
15,000 Basra oil workers go on strike
: In the months before the Iraqi elections in January, President Bush approved a plan to provide covert support to certain Iraqi candidates and political parties, but rescinded the proposal because of Congressional opposition, current and former government officials said Saturday. The article, by Seymour M. Hersh, reports that the administration proceeded with the covert plan over the Congressional objections. Several senior Bush administration officials disputed that, although they recalled renewed discussions within the administration last fall about how the United States might counter what was seen as extensive Iranian support to pro-Iranian Shiite parties.
British Army Crisis
: A senior Army officer said that the ammunition crisis was "shambolic" and came at the worst possible time for the Army. He said: "There is nothing more dispiriting than soldiers having to go on exercise and shout 'bang, bang' because there is not enough blank ammunition. Any benefit from the exercise will be lost because soldiers just won't take it seriously. Why should soldiers who are being sent to Iraq, where their lives will be endangered, be forced to shout 'bang' in training because someone in the Ministry of Defence can't do basic arithmetic? It's a disgrace."
: A Chicago Marine and his cousin have been charged with felonies after the Marine begged to be shot to avoid returning to Iraq and his cousin acquiesced. Moises Hernandez had recently returned home from Iraq and was reportedly having nightmares about going back to the war, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. "Shoot me," the 19-year-old Hernandez allegedly told his cousin, who, hesitant at first, then allegedly shot Hernandez in his leg last weekend.
: "If the Department of Defense were a business, they'd be out of business," David Walker, comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office, said at a breakfast with reporters yesterday. "They have absolutely atrocious financial management." The GAO has been examining the Pentagon's Iraq expenses, and "we're having extreme difficulty in getting the Department of Defense to provide a full accounting of what they're spending" there, Walker said. "I can't understand how we're spending $1 billion a week." Billmon has a post about this.
Linkage to Iraq
: Bombing London was not an act of revenge for the Iraq war but the latest manifestation of an "evil ideology" responsible for a 12-year terror campaign in 26 countries, Tony Blair insisted yesterday. His words reflected a worry among ministers that public opinion will link the London terrorist attacks with the unpopular war in Iraq. The Prime Minister's critics within the Labour Party maintained an informal truce for the first week after the bombings, avoiding reference to the Iraq war out of respect for the victims. That truce has been broken this weekend, with two Labour MPs claiming publicly that the Iraq war and the terrorist attack are linked.
Opinion and Commentary
Having grown up the Southern U.S. and having a very racist father, it was a very bizarre experience hearing almost the same comments being made against Iraqis that I heard as a child being made against blacks. The same venom, for lack of a better word, was coming out of their mouths as they denigrated the people, culture and societal norms of Iraq.
Equally disturbing for me was the colonialist attitude of most of the business- connected internationals (most of the contractors I talked to were South African or English and most of the businessmen were American and all except one were white males). Remarks like, "We have to show them how it's really done", or "They don't have a clue how it's done in the West". There seemed, to me at least, to be no attempt at understanding, much less respecting, the culture of the people they ostensibly are here to work in partnership with.
I have to assume the racist attitudes of the security contractors stems from the necessity for a human being to dehumanize and marginalize another human being in order to kill them. Dehumanization is a mind game military-leaders the world over have used to indoctrinate recruits with and it also seems to be the case with these mercenary soldiers.
The colonialist attitudes are harder to grasp. Is colonialism something unique to white, male Westerners? (And I include myself in this category.) Do we see Iraq the same way as Kipling saw India, that of being "the white man's burden" to bring Western civilization to the uncivilized Arabs and Kurds?
Those three days at the airport are woven deeply into my spirit. I'm wondering if I have swallowed poison that will harden or embitter me. Or perhaps I have been blessed with a homeopathic remedy of absorbing just enough poison to begin to cure me of my own subconscious racist and colonist tendencies and then be able to help others cure themselves. Time will tell.
America's Founding Fathers spent nearly four months hashing out a constitution. Iraq's drafting committee has been trying to crank one out in half that time. With an Aug. 1 deadline rapidly approaching, the chief sticking point appears to be how the government can avoid another Saddam-like concentration of power. Both the Shi'ites and the Kurds are pushing for varying degrees of federalism, and the U.S. is supporting the plan. The Kurds have long sought a large degree of autonomy for their region in the north. The Shi'ites too are now calling for an autonomous region in the south, to be called Sumer, home to Iraq's only ports, as well as at least 80% of its oil reserves.
The stumbling block is the Sunni contingent, which opposes a partition along sectarian or ethnic lines and wants a strong central government. "The Sunni Arabs are already pushing back on this. They all hate it," said a U.S. embassy official familiar with the drafting process. Jawad al-Malaki, a Shi'ite committee member and adviser to Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, calls the Sunni approach a nonstarter, warning that it could lead to a new dictatorship. Meanwhile, the U.S. is trying to convince the Sunnis that federalism is in their interest. "If you had the kind of system the Sunnis want, what you'd probably get is a Shi'a Prime Minister appointing a Shi'a Islamist to go run Anbar [a mainly Sunni province where much of the insurgency is raging]," the official said. "Do you really think that's what they want?"
Unless the constitution committee asks for a six-month extension, these squabbling groups plan to submit a draft by month's end so that Parliament can vote on it by Aug. 15. Already some fear that the Sunnis may want to keep up their recalcitrance in order to force new elections. But Shi'ite and Kurdish members say they will vote the constitution out of the committee without the Sunnis if they must, and the U.S. is willing to back them up. If the Sunnis derail the process, says the U.S. official, "we'll know who to blame."
Carl Conetta of Project on Defence Alternatives sent us an email about a report released today entitled "400 days and out: A strategy for resolving the Iraq impasse". I am reading it now.