War News for Sunday, October 2, 2005
Bring 'em on: Seven year old child accidentally killed by Iraqi police in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Civilians and children reported killed in US "Operation Iron Fist" in Sadah
Bring 'em on: Iman of Mosque shot dead in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: US soldier killed in attack on his convoy in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Iraqi army officer gunned down in Sadr City
Bring 'em on: Ten killed and eight wounded in US airstrikes in Al Qaim
Bring 'em on: Soldier and bus driver killed in gun attack in Baquba
Bring 'em on: Three policemen and one civilian killed in IED attack in Kirkuk
Bring 'em on: Two Iraqis, including one soldier, killed in bomb attack in Dujail
Bring 'em on: Brother of Iraq's Interior Minister kidnapped in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: US soldier killed by landmine in Baiji
Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi soldiers killed and three injured in insurgency attack in Miqdadiya
Bring 'em on: Iraq's Interior Ministry under mortar attack in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Danish soldier killed and two others injured in IED attack in Basra
Bring 'em on: US patrol hit by roadside bomb in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Fifteen members of the Iraqi Islamic Party arrested in Baghdad
Iraqi Islamic Party
: The party was established in 1960. Successive Iraqi governments banned the party and it operated underground inside Iraq until the removal of Saddam Hussein's government in 2003. The Iraqi Islamic Party decided from the beginning to be a key player in post-war Iraq's politics. It thus participated in the Iraqi Interim Governing Council (IGC) and the subsequent interim Iraqi government.
: Kurdish officials warned on Saturday they would consider pulling out of the government if their demands are not met. That would cause the collapse of the government and put a new layer of political instability and fragmentation between Iraq's main communities.
Orders to Kidnap
: The radical Shi’ite leader Moqtada al-Sadr has authorised his militia to kidnap two Britons in Iraq in the hope of swapping them for two of his senior officials who are held in Basra by British forces.
One Fucking Battalion
: President Bush said Saturday he is encouraged by the increasing size and capability of the Iraqi security forces, touting progress on a key measure for when U.S. troops can come home.
: While popular support for the US presence in Iraq is deteriorating and some experts are warning that Iraq could descend into civil war, Rice said that the Bush administration's approach would create more stability in the long term. "Some would argue that this broad approach to the problem is making the world less stable by rocking the boat and wrecking the status quo. But this presumes the existence of a stable status quo that does not threaten global security. This is not the case.
Rice for 2008
: With the field open to succeed the Republican President George W Bush, Dr Rice's supporters hope that her sense of duty and patriotism will overcome her publicly stated reluctance to run.
: Clutching new Korans and given $25 apiece, about 500 Iraqi prisoners were released from the U.S. military's Abu Ghraib jail on Saturday in a goodwill gesture ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Opinion and Commentary
The underlying cause of this turnabout in world thinking was America’s inability to tame the Iraq insurgency, two and half years after George W. Bush initiated a war of choice against Saddam. That war is not yet over for American troops or the Iraqis, but its basic strategic outcome is clear: as a vehicle for transforming the political culture of the Arab world in a pro-American direction, it is an utter failure.
The open question is whether America, as a society and as a government, is capable of recognizing this and making the necessary adjustments. That was the implicit subject of an important conference held in Washington on Week Two of Katrina—scheduled months before to mark the fourth anniversary of 9/11. The event brought together much of the county’s national-security elite—academics and policymakers (though few from the current Bush administration), politicians from both parties, figures as disparate as George Soros and Grover Norquist. The politically eclectic New America Foundation served as main sponsor.
Its director, Steven Clemons, spoke of an “emerging consensus” that held that while “military response to 9/11 was necessary,” it was not sufficient as a long-term anti-terrorism strategy.
In the language of Washington, phrases like “emerging consensus” are vital currency. As much as some (like myself) might wish the architects of the Iraq War would be put on trial, American policy will likely change through subtle shifts in establishment attitudes, such as an “emerging” view that sending 150,000 troops to occupy an Arab country that had nothing to do with bin Laden was not the wisest way to protect the United States from a terrorist threat. The etiquette of making a consensus emerge requires that one pretend to forget that many who now hold forth confidently on the unwisdom of Operation Iraqi Freedom two years ag The irony, of course, is that spouted with equal certainty opinions molded by super-hawk Norman Podhoretz.
Hitchens has hardly cast his lot with the “Let A Hundred Flowers Bloom” school of conservatism. The neocons prattle on endlessly about “moral clarity” and display a fondness for ideological purges but have never been anything but indulgent toward Hitchens. They have not criticized his Bolshevism or his hatred of religion. In fact, one of the Hitchens columns Frum praised at NRO described the Catholic Church as “foolish” and Opus Dei as a “sinister cult organization.” Let us not even pause to consider what Frum would have done if some paleoconservative had written a glowing essay describing Rudolf Hess as a “prophetic moralist”: whole forests would need to be felled to print his denunciations of the miscreant.
What the mutual embrace of Hitchens and the neocons tells us is that Hitchens’s assessment of neoconservatism is essentially correct: the regnant force in American conservatism today is warmed-over Trotskyism, which views America merely as the embodiment of the ideology of global revolution. This is, admittedly, a depressing conclusion. But there is hope. Hitchens spent the first half of his ideological career riding a dying horse. He may have just started riding another one.
Letter to the Times
Having served in the Afghanistan war as a captain of a C-130 Hercules, I have always been convinced that Michael Portillo and his party made the wrong call about Iraq (Oh what a disastrous war — but there’s no easy exit, Comment, last week).
I am no great fan of Ken Clarke but it would have been wiser to have backed his more traditional Tory instinct. It was an opportunity to take a moral stand against the war.
Everyone I served with in Afghanistan was up for the task. I was proud to risk my own life in numerous sorties. However, there was little discernible support among the troops for the Iraq war.
A close friend of mine was killed in the Hercules that was shot down by insurgents earlier this year. While attending the wake of my friend and his colleagues, I asked a senior officer what he might say to the children if they asked if their daddy had died for a cause worth dying for. To his absolute credit, he told me that he did not believe in the war in Iraq and that he did not see it as a worthy cause.
Strategically we are now facing the break-up of Iraq, with the prospect of a fundamentalist alliance between southern Iraq and the Iranians and no democracy in sight. This, at a time of already dangerously high oil prices, could easily tip the world into a crisis with severe economic and political consequences. Sadly nobody has resigned, the grandees in the political parties are still there and so are the senior military officers who blindly followed the wishes of their political bosses. I, for one, have voted with my feet and decided to leave the military behind.
Flt Lt (retired) Nigel Gilbert
Insurance Risks 2006
THE US is likely to begin reducing troop numbers in Iraq next year. Even if it does not the visibility of US troops will diminish as responsibility for fighting insurgents is shifted to Iraqis.
Given local forces' inability to carry out counter-insurgency operations effectively, we maintain the extremely negative view we have had on Iraq for the past year and expect violence to intensify.
As US targets in Iraq become less visible and harder to attack, Sunni extremists drawn from other parts of the Middle East to fight on the front line are likely to begin returning home.
They will take with them enhanced bomb-making and combat capabilities refined in Iraq.
Therefore, terrorism risks are almost certain to increase in several countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.
A number of Latin American nations will hold presidential elections next year. At this early stage we expect elections to heighten risks for commercial interests in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador and reduce risks for those with exposures in Brazil and Peru.
In Colombia risks will increase in the run-up to elections and decrease in the last half of the year.
In Venezuela, President Chavez is likely to be re-elected in July, allowing him to further his Bolivarian Revolution and centralisation of power.
Expropriations and seizure of agricultural lands and industrial plants seem set to accelerate, as will efforts to nationalise key industries.
Some protests and attacks will follow, but the repressiveness of security forces and armed local militias will help him keep his grip on power.
In Asia the competition for scarce and increasingly valuable energy resources is likely to intensify, especially between the region's economic giants, China and a recovering Japan.
China is the world's second largest energy consumer, and power shortages have affected at least 24 of the country's 31 provinces.
The authorities, fearful of scaring off foreign investment, have ordered local companies in "non-essential" industries to curb or cease production during peak hours.
Sino-Japanese relations have deteriorated during this year from an already poor position, as evidenced by violent anti-Japanese protests and the cancellation of diplomatic visits.
With both countries increasing military spending, the risk of small naval skirmishes centred on resource exploration is rising.
However, there is little prospect of this escalating into a serious maritime confrontation next year, particularly in view of the presence of the US 7th Fleet.
In southern Africa risks to white-owned assets are set to increase. In South Africa frustration at the slow pace of the land restitution programme led a commission to seize a commercial farm last week. Notices will be served on five others imminently.
In early September, Namibia expropriated a commercially successful white-owned farm for the first time, paying the forced seller about 40% of the market price. Also in September, Zimbabwe took three key steps to move its expropriation programme beyond farmland to include businesses.
With shortages of basic goods such as fuel intensifying, any companies generating foreign currency in Zimbabwe will be at risk.
In Russia, oil company TNK-BP, hounded by arbitrary taxation claims, is preparing to sell all its assets east of the Urals, and Gazprom has acquired Roman Abramovich's Sibneft.
The presidential administration clearly intends to assert mounting control over large foreign and domestic firms extracting Russia's energy resources.
Such companies are likely to face indirect pressure (tax claims or legislative changes) during next year.