|Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives|
THREE YEARS LATER ...
Three years after declaring a war on terrorism, President Bush claims -- without presenting any evidence -- that more than three quarters of al Qaeda's key members have been killed or captured. At the same time, al Qaeda's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, has declared that the US faces defeat.
Meanwhile, 1,709 deaths -- almost 60% of the terrorism-related deaths around the world over the last three years -- occured this year. During these three years, in the name of eradicating terrorism, American and allied forces killed between 3,400 to 4,000 civilians in Afghanistan, in addition to 10,000 to 30,000 killed in Iraq.
America right or wrong
By Anatol Lieven, Open Democracy, September 8, 2004
The disaster of 9/11 should have been enough to produce a serious examination among Washington policy elites not only of past US policies, but of the American political cultures which helped to produce them.
In fact, as the genesis and conduct of the Iraq war of 2003 demonstrated, large sections of those elites have learned precisely nothing from the folly and wickedness of their past conduct. And this failure is above all because they have been blocked from doing so by certain key features of American nationalism.
Moreover, insofar as American nationalism has become mixed up with a chauvinist version of Israeli nationalism, it also plays an absolutely disastrous role in the USs own relations with the Muslim world, and in fuelling terrorism. One might say, therefore, that while America keeps a splendid and welcoming house, it also keeps a family of demons in its cellar. These demons, usually kept under certain restraints, were released by 9/11.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks the United States had the chance to create a concert of all the world's major states (including Muslim ones) against Islamist revolutionary terrorism. Why instead did it choose to pursue policies which divided the west, further alienated the Muslim world, and exposed America itself to greatly increased danger?
The most important reason is the character of American nationalism. This explains why many Americans reacted in the way that they did to 9/11 and why it was possible for the Bush administration later to extend the "war on terror" to Iraq, and in doing so to retain the support of a majority of Americans.
Nationalism has not been the usual prism through which American behaviour has been viewed. Most Americans have spoken of their attachment to their country as "patriotism", or in an extreme form, superpatriotism. Critics of the United States, at home and abroad, have tended to focus on what has been called American imperialism.
The US today does harbour important forces that can be called imperialist in their outlook and aims. However, although large in influence, people holding these views are relatively few in number. They are to be found above all in overlapping sections of the intelligentsia and the foreign policy and security establishments, with a particular concentration among the so-called neo-conservatives.
Unlike large numbers of Englishmen and Frenchmen during their countries' imperial phase, the vast majority of ordinary Americans do not think of themselves as imperialist, or as possessing an empire. The aftermath of the Iraq war seems to be demonstrating that they are not prepared to make the massive long-term commitments and sacrifices necessary to maintain a direct American empire in the middle east and elsewhere.
Apart from the effects of modern culture on attitudes to military service and sacrifice, American culture historically has embodied a strong strain of isolationism. This isolationism is, however, a complex phenomenon, which should not be understood simply as a desire to withdraw from the world. Rather, American isolationism forms another face, both of American chauvinism and American messianism united by a belief in America as a unique "city on a hill".
The result is a view that if the US really has no choice but to involve itself with disgusting and inferior foreigners, it must absolutely control the process, and must under no circumstances subject itself to foreign control or even advice. [complete article]
Read more, America Right Or Wrong: An Anatomy Of American Nationalism.
U.S. was blind to terror threat, but evidence was abundant
By Joseph Cirincione, San Francisco Chronicle, September 5, 2004
When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was told on the morning of Sept. 11 that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center, he paused, then continued his morning intelligence briefing, according to the 9/11 Commission.
It wasn't until a third plane slammed into the Pentagon that Rumsfeld jumped into action, even assisting with rescue efforts. A few hours later, he wondered aloud to his staff whether the attack would allow the United States to strike at Saddam Hussein, not just Osama bin Laden.
In some ways, Rumsfeld's response tells us all we need to know about what went wrong with our government's policies in 2001. We were unprepared for the threats we faced, were slow to comprehend the meaning of the attack, and in planning our counterattack, almost immediately began focusing again on the wrong threat. [complete article]
The Likud doctrine
By Naomi Klein, The Guardian, September 10, 2004
Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is so fed-up with being grilled over his handling of the Beslan catastrophe that he lashed out at foreign journalists on Monday. "Why don't you meet Osama bin Laden, invite him to Brussels or the White House and engage in talks?" he demanded, adding that: "No one has a moral right to tell us to talk to child-killers."
Fortunately for Putin, there is still one place where he is shielded from the critics: Israel. On Monday, Ariel Sharon welcomed the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, for a meeting about strengthening ties in the fight against terror. "Terror has no justification, and it is time for the free, decent, humanistic world to unite and fight this terrible epidemic," Sharon said.
There is little to argue with there. The essence of terrorism is the deliberate targeting of innocents to further political goals. Any claims its perpetrators make to fighting for justice are morally bankrupt, and lead directly to the barbarity of Beslan: a carefully laid plan to slaughter hundreds of children.
Yet sympathy alone does not explain the outpourings of solidarity for Russia coming from Israeli politicians this week. An unnamed Israeli official was quoted as saying that Russians "understand now that what they have is not a local terror problem but part of the global Islamic terror threat". The underlying message is unequivocal: Russia and Israel are engaged in the very same war, one not against Palestinians demanding their right to statehood, or against Chechens demanding their independence, but against "the global Islamic terror threat". Israel, as the elder statesman, is claiming the right to set the rules of war. [...]
Three years ago, on September 12 2001, Binyamin Netanyahu, Israeli finance minister, was asked how the previous day's terror attacks would affect relations between Israel and the US. "It's very good," he said. "Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy." The attack, Netanyahu explained, would "strengthen the bond between our two peoples, because we've experienced terror over so many decades".
Common wisdom has it that after 9/11, a new era of geo-politics was ushered in, defined by what is usually called the Bush doctrine: pre-emptive wars, attacks on terrorist infrastructure (read: entire countries), an insistence that all the enemy understands is force. In fact, it would be more accurate to call this rigid worldview the Likud doctrine. What happened on September 11 2001 is that the Likud doctrine, previously targeted against Palestinians, was picked up by the most powerful nation on earth and applied on a global scale. Call it the Likudisation of the world: the real legacy of 9/11. [complete article]
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In the war on terror, the worst defense is a bad offense
By William Saletan, Slate, September 9, 2004
Seventy-five years ago in the Rose Bowl, a University of California football player named Roy Riegels picked up a fumble by the opposing team, spun around, and started running for the end zone. Unfortunately, he was heading the wrong way. He ran with such purpose that people in the stands, including the play-by-play announcer, doubted their own sanity. When a teammate tried to stop him, Riegels -- who would go down in history as "Wrong-Way Riegels" -- shook him off. He was a man on a mission.
This is what's now happening in Iraq and the presidential campaign. President Bush and Vice President Cheney are framing the election as a choice between playing "defense" and going on "offense" in the war on terror. The attacks of 9/11 presented the United States with a grave new challenge. Bush picked up this football and started running with it -- toward Iraq. But Iraq wasn't among the states closely linked to 9/11 or al-Qaida. Nor did it have the weapons of mass destruction Bush advertised. We've spent more than 1,000 American lives and close to $200 billion running the wrong way. [complete article]
How many deaths will it take?
By Bob Herbert, New York Times, September 10, 2004
It was Vietnam all over again - the heartbreaking head shots captioned with good old American names:
Jose Casanova, Donald J. Cline Jr., Sheldon R. Hawk Eagle, Alyssa R. Peterson.
Eventually there'll be a fine memorial to honor the young Americans whose lives were sacrificed for no good reason in Iraq. Yesterday, under the headline "The Roster of the Dead," The New York Times ran photos of the first thousand or so who were killed.
They were sent off by a president who ran and hid when he was a young man and his country was at war. They fought bravely and died honorably. But as in Vietnam, no amount of valor or heroism can conceal the fact that they were sent off under false pretenses to fight a war that is unwinnable.
How many thousands more will have to die before we acknowledge that President Bush's obsession with Iraq and Saddam Hussein has been a catastrophe for the United States? [complete article]
The dishonesty thing
By Paul Krugman, New York Times, September 10, 2004
It's the dishonesty, stupid. The real issue in the National Guard story isn't what George W. Bush did three decades ago. It's the recent pattern of lies: his assertions that he fulfilled his obligations when he obviously didn't, the White House's repeated claims that it had released all of the relevant documents when it hadn't.
It's the same pattern of dishonesty, this time involving personal matters that the public can easily understand, that some of us have long seen on policy issues, from global warming to the war in Iraq. On budget matters, which is where I came in, serious analysts now take administration dishonesty for granted.
It wasn't always that way. Three years ago, those of us who accused the administration of cooking the budget books were ourselves accused, by moderates as well as by Bush loyalists, of being "shrill." These days the coalition of the shrill has widened to include almost every independent budget expert. [complete article]
CIA hid dozens of Abu Ghraib 'ghost detainees,' investigators say
By Jonathan S. Landay and Sumana Chatterjee, Knight Ridder, September 9, 2004
The CIA had dozens of Iraqi "ghost detainees" secretly held at Abu Ghraib prison - a number far higher than previously disclosed - so they could be hidden from Red Cross monitors, Army investigators said on Thursday.
Gen. Paul J. Kern and Maj. Gen. George R. Fay said they asked repeatedly for information on the detainees during investigations into the abuse of inmates at the Army-run facility outside Baghdad, but the CIA refused to answer.
That angered Senate Armed Services Committee members, who pledged to press the agency for the information and to look more closely themselves at the issue.
"The situation with the CIA and ghost soldiers is beginning to look like a bad movie," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict who was mistreated by the North Vietnamese. "This needs to be cleared up rather badly." [complete article]
U.S. warplanes strike two Iraq cities
By Steve Fainaru, Washington Post, September 10, 2004
After a week of violence that killed 19 Americans and challenged the authority of Iraq's interim government in vast areas of the country, U.S. commanders launched airstrikes Thursday on two cities controlled by insurgents and sent troops into a third to reinstall a deposed local government.
The Iraqi Health Ministry said at least 43 people were killed and 111 wounded during air attacks on Fallujah, 35 miles west of Baghdad, and Tall Afar, a northern city near the Syrian border. U.S. troops massed outside Tall Afar, in apparent preparation to move in and restore the local government there.
In Samarra, about 65 miles north of Baghdad, U.S. soldiers accompanied deposed city council members across a bridge into the city and stood guard while they elected an interim mayor. The transition was peaceful and conducted under an agreement with community leaders, but insurgents were not required to disarm, according to Army Maj. Neal O'Brien, spokesman for the Army's 1st Infantry Division. [complete article]
See also, U.S. bombing kills more Falluja civilians (Aljazeera).
Despair in Iraq over the forgotten victims of U.S. invasion
By Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, September 9, 2004
Iraqi officials demanded to know yesterday why so little international attention was being given to their numerous dead as the US mourned the death of 1,000 soldiers since the invasion of Iraq.
"When I heard on television that the Americans had lost 1,000 military killed in Iraq, I asked myself, what about our side? What is the number of Iraqis who have died?" said Dr Amer al-Khuzaie, an Iraqi deputy health minister.
He admits it is impossible to know the true figure because many bodies are simply buried and the deaths never registered. "Sometimes there are as many as 200 Iraqis killed in a single day," sighed Dr Khuzaie, flicking through a file showing the casualty figures. "The Iraqi people are being eradicated. We must stop this haemorrhage, this bleeding." [complete article]
"The 'peace' has been bloodier than the war"
By Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post, September 9, 2004
With the latest spike in violence in Baghdad, more U.S. troops have died since the turnover of power to an interim Iraqi government at the end of June than were killed during the U.S.-led invasion of the country in the spring of 2003.
A total of 148 U.S. military personnel have been killed since the partial transfer of sovereignty on June 28, compared with 138 who died in March and April of 2003, Pentagon figures show.
That trend is a grim indication that, 18 months after the invasion, the fighting appears to be intensifying rather than waning. While attention has been focused largely on standoffs in Najaf and other well-publicized hotspots, an analysis of the figures shows the U.S. military has taken more casualties elsewhere, including the deaths of about 44 troops in the western province of Anbar and 10 others in the city of Samarra.
The wide geographic dispersion of the violence reflects the strength of a resurgent opposition and also frames the challenge U.S. commanders face in the coming months as the United States seeks to hold an election to establish a new Iraqi government, said military officers and defense analysts.
"The 'peace' has been bloodier than the war," said Capt. Russell Burgos, an Army reservist who recently returned from a tour of duty with an aviation regiment in Balad, Iraq. In his view, the U.S. experience in Iraq is coming to resemble Israel's painful 18-year occupation of parts of southern Lebanon. [complete article]
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Not Iran, not North Korea, not Libya, but Pakistan
By Norman Dombey, London Review of Books (via Pakistan Defense Forum), September 2, 2004
A hidden thread runs through the story of uranium enrichment programmes using gas centrifuges in the DPRK [North Korea] and Iran, and we find it again in Libya. Making gas centrifuges to enrich uranium requires very sophisticated skills in several different engineering disciplines: chemical, mechanical and electrical, for a start. The gas that must be produced - uranium hexafluoride - is very corrosive; the centrifuge rotors have to withstand great stress as they spin at very high speeds; and they require magnetic bearings. How did three relatively unsophisticated countries acquire the necessary skills to design and operate such machines, especially since several hundred, if not thousands of them are required to manufacture a single bomb? The answer is not one that the US and UK authorities have been willing to acknowledge until recently, since it concerns an important ally in the 'war on terrorism'. [...]
Brian Jones, who retired from the Defence Intelligence Analysis Staff of the [British] Ministry of Defence just before the invasion of Iraq last year, and who gave evidence to the Hutton and Butler inquiries, has emphasised that the development of nuclear weapons implies an enormous effort in scientific and technical personnel and a large infrastructure. This requires a national programme: it is extremely unlikely to be accomplished by terrorist groups. In turn, it is crucial for international security that states which possess nuclear weapons can be relied on to control their warheads and fissile materials. So any nuclear threat related to terrorism must arise from unstable nuclear states losing control of nuclear material. Furthermore, effective non-proliferation measures require the governments of states with nuclear weapons to keep scientists and engineers under control. It follows that the international community should focus on the weak link in the non-proliferation regime: that's to say, states which possess nuclear weapons and are not fully in control of their territory or of their citizens. In the former Soviet Union, nuclear material and weapons are still unaccounted for. But the most dangerous example by far is Pakistan, where the national intelligence service, the ISI, was intimately involved in the financing of the centrifuge programme, and sponsored the Taliban in Afghanistan. Senior personnel in the nuclear programme are sympathetic to al-Qaida: indeed, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, who worked at Kahuta for several years before becoming head of the plutonium-producing reactor at Khushab, was reported in the Wall Street Journal to have travelled to Kabul and Kandahar in August 2001 to meet Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden. Large regions of Pakistan are not under government control. [...]
The Butler report shows that the US/UK security authorities have been aware of Libya's nuclear plans for some time. So what motivated Bush and Blair to rehabilitate Gaddafi so eagerly? Gaddafi is after all said to be responsible for blowing up a French airliner over Chad in 1989 and for Lockerbie. Why do our political leaders want to deal with him?
I think that the answer lies in Pakistan. When Khan Research Laboratories started to offload unwanted centrifuges on Iran, Khan and his circle became a prime target for Western intelligence. When Benazir Bhutto became prime minister of Pakistan, it was the US and not her own military who told her about Pakistani nuclear progress. It is clear that the Pakistani security apparatus knew and approved of Khan's doings. The former US ambassador to Pakistan, Robert Oakley, was reported in the New York Times as having said that General Mirza Aslam Beg, the Pakistani army chief of staff from 1988 to 1991, had told him of Pakistan's nuclear ties with Iran, in return for which Iran would provide Pakistan with oil and military aid. The Pakistani nuclear physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy has written that 'since its inception, Pakistan's nuclear programme has been squarely under army supervision. A multi-tiered security system was headed by a lieutenant-general ... with all nuclear installations kept under the tightest possible surveillance ... In such an extreme security environment it would be amazing to miss the travel abroad of senior scientists ... and the transfer of classified technical documents and components.'
Nevertheless, the US and UK governments support Pakistan's claim that only a small group of men around Khan were responsible for exporting centrifuge equipment and blueprints. After 9/11 it became essential for the US and Britain to close down the Khan network while keeping Musharraf friendly and ensuring that he stayed in power. Libya provided the means to do that. The US say that they told Musharraf about the Khan network in autumn 2001. The nuclear weapon design acquired from China was sent from Pakistan to Libya in late 2001 or early 2002. Surprisingly, the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] reports that Libya 'did not take any steps to act on the information, nor even to assess its credibility or practical utility'. Hardly the behaviour of a country engaged in a clandestine programme to produce nuclear weapons. The centrifuge parts began to arrive in 2002 and 2003. In October 2003, the German-owned vessel BBC China was seized in Italy carrying centrifuge equipment bound for Libya. It is not clear whether the consignment contained P-1 or P-2 components, but it doesn't matter. There were no rotors or advanced electrical components such as magnetic bearings. SCOPE, the Malaysian company which had shipped the parts, manufactured only 14 types of component, all of them aluminium. A domestic washing-machine needs more components than that.
The official story is that Khan and a small circle of associates started exporting old centrifuges without the government's knowing (until autumn 2001) and then, motivated by greed, set up overseas manufacturing facilities. The more probable explanation is that after 9/11, the US forced Musharraf to act against Khan, and Gaddafi was persuaded to co-operate with the promise of an end to sanctions. [complete article]
Norman Dombey is Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Physics at Sussex University, England.
Records say Bush balked at order
By Michael Dobbs and Thomas B. Edsall, Washington Post, September 9, 2004
President Bush failed to carry out a direct order from his superior in the Texas Air National Guard in May 1972 to undertake a medical examination that was necessary for him to remain a qualified pilot, according to documents made public yesterday.
Documents obtained by the CBS News program "60 Minutes" shed new light on one of the most controversial episodes in Bush's military service, when he abruptly stopped flying and moved from Texas to Alabama to work on a political campaign. The documents include a memo from Bush's squadron commander, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, ordering Bush "to be suspended from flight status for failure to perform" to U.S. Air Force and National Guard standards and failure to take his annual physical "as ordered." [complete article]
U.S. forces on offensive in Iraq rebel strongholds
By Luke Baker, Reuters (via Yahoo), September 9, 2004
U.S.-led forces launched operations in three Iraqi rebel strongholds on Thursday, killing nearly two dozen insurgents in a town near the Syrian border and bombing targets in Falluja for the third straight day.
Troops mounted a major offensive in Tal Afar, a suspected haven for foreign fighters about 60 miles east of the Syrian border in northern Iraq, and went into the tense town of Samarra north of Baghdad, as well as keeping up pressure on Falluja, west of the capital, through air strikes.
The fighting in Tal Afar killed 22 insurgents and wounded more than 70 people, a local government health official said.
"The situation is critical," Rabee Yassin, general manager for health in Nineveh province, told Reuters. "Ambulances and medical supplies cannot get to Tal Afar because of the ongoing military operations." [complete article]
U.S. now battles Sadr in Baghdad
By Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor, September 9, 2004
The smoke of battle between US forces and the army of poor young Iraqis supporting anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr now rises over Baghdad.
Less than two weeks after an agreement ended a costly confrontation in the southern city of Najaf, the US is again fighting the followers of the fiery religious leader who rails against the "American occupation."
Only now the fighting is in the sprawling, densely populated slum that is Mr. Sadr's base of support. That this fight is in Sadr City and not Najaf, is both good and bad for the US, analysts say. Confronting Sadr's loyalists here removes the complication of fighting in one of the holiest sites of Shiite Islam. But it also means the Americans are fighting on the enemy's turf and in the even bigger showcase of Baghdad. [complete article]
Sharon's 'Gaza problem': It may be Israelis, not Arabs
By Steven Erlanger, New York Times, September 9, 2004
Shimon Peres, a former prime minister of Israel, once said there are no real negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, only among Israelis themselves about what to concede.
This helps explain why Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan for a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, as simple as it sounds, is running into so many problems.
In fact, Mr. Sharon's effort to remove the Israeli settlers and military from Gaza and hand it over to the Palestinians is running into so many obstacles, ranging from party politics and internal security to economics and international relations, that some - even close aides - wonder whether it may run into the sand. [complete article]
The dangers of the rabbis' declaration
Editorial, Haaretz, September 9, 2004
"If someone is trying to kill you, kill him first," says the Talmud. This statement was cited by heads of the hesder yeshivas and the Council of Yesha Rabbis in an open letter published this week in response to the "pilots' letter." They urged the government to act according to this dictum, and not to hesitate to make war on the enemy even if it is known that a given operation will also cause civilian casualties.
The rabbis' mobilization behind a reverberating public statement such as this one demonstrates to what extent they, who are considered authorities by the religious-Zionist public, have exceeded the bounds - which are not in doubt - of legitimate expressions of opinion on a diplomatic-military-ethical matter of this nature.
While their call - ostensibly, at least - was aimed at the government and meant to influence government policy, there is a danger that certain soldiers, and even officers, will see this call as a kind of halakhic-ethical commandment that ought to be obeyed and applied to their daily activities in the occupied territories. [complete article]
See also, Rabbis call for IDF to hit civilians if needed (Jerusalem Post).
Neocons blast Bush's inaction on 'spy' affair
By Marc Perelman, The Forward, September 10, 2004
In an indication of their growing estrangement with the Bush administration, neoconservatives are slamming the White House for failing to stop what they describe as an antisemitic campaign to marginalize them being conducted by the CIA and the State Department.
This view was outlined in a memo circulating among neoconservative foreign policy analysts in Washington. Obtained by the Forward, the memo criticizes the White House for not refuting press reports on the FBI's investigation of Pentagon analyst Lawrence Franklin that suggest wrongdoing on the part of Jewish officials at the Defense Department.
"If there is any truth to any of the accusations, why doesn't the White House demand that they bring on the evidence? On the record," the memo stated. "There's an increasing antisemitic witch hunt."
A source who has seen the memo said it was written by Michael Rubin, a former member of the Pentagon's policy planning staff who dealt with Iran policy. Rubin, now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, declined to comment for this story. [...]
Some Washington insiders claim that the White House silence over the Franklin affair reflects a growing view within the administration that the neoconservatives widely seen as leading proponents of the Iraq war represent a mounting political burden, given the continuing chaos in Iraq.
While President Bush and his closest advisers openly shared the neoconservatives' belief that American military action was needed to remove Saddam Hussein, the two sides seem to have parted ways over Iran. Neoconservative analysts in and out of government are calling on the United States to attempt to secure regime change in Tehran. The administration has increasingly suggested that it has no plans to take such forceful steps against Iran. [complete article]
White House puts brakes on FBI investigation
By Guy Dinmore, Financial Times, September 7, 2004
An FBI investigation into suspected security breaches involving Pentagon officials and Israel is unlikely to result in prosecution of senior figures following pressure from the White House, according to people familiar with the case.
The investigation has highlighted concerns that a small group of neo-conservatives in the Pentagon not only may have divulged classified information to Israel, but also tried to mount intelligence and foreign policy operations without informing the State Department and Central Intelligence Agency.
Analysts said that although the neo-conservative proponents of regime change in Iraq and Iran had fallen out of favour with the White House, the presidential election in November still afforded them protection.
The White House denied allegations of a cover-up. A spokesman said there was full support for the investigation.
Sources familiar with the investigation said the White House and John Ashcroft, the US attorney-general, had intervened to apply the brakes. "The White House is leaning on the FBI. Some people in the FBI are very upset, they think Ashcroft is playing politics with this," a former intelligence official said. [complete article]
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RUMSFELD ON IRAQ: "I FEEL GENERALLY QUITE GOOD ABOUT HOW THINGS ARE GOING THERE."
Falluja held in holy warriors' brutal grip
By Dhiya Rasan and Steve Negus, Financial Times (via Yahoo), September 8, 2004
Four months after US marines called off their attack on Falluja, the Iraqi rebel stronghold has fallen under the control of a number of different groups, from Islamists to ultra-Islamists to Ba'ath party loyalists to bandits.
Loosely grouped under the title mujahideen holy warriors many of the groups have sprung into existence since the May ceasefire when the US military effectively ceded the town to the insurgents. Each has its own checkpoints, dress code, and approach to law and governance.
Completely absent from the power equation in Falluja are Iraqi government forces the police and the national guard as is the Falluja brigade, composed mainly of demobilised Iraqi soldiers, which was created in the aftermath of the May ceasefire, but dissolved last month by the Iraqi defence ministry amid reports of collusion with insurgents. "The mujahideen don't let us carry weapons or get together," said one police officer, unarmed and wearing a dishevelled uniform. His job now consists of keeping an eye on traffic, he says.
"I hate them. The mujahideen can decide if you're a good man or a spy. If it's 'you're a spy' then you're finished." [complete article]
U.S. hits militant strongholds in Fallujah
By Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press (via Yahoo), September 8, 2004
U.S. jets pounded insurgent positions in Fallujah for a second straight day Wednesday, raising plumes of smoke but doing little to weaken the resolve of militants who firmly control this symbol of Sunni resistance in Iraq.
The airstrikes, in the eastern and southern parts of this city, targeted a militant "command and control headquarters" that has been coordinating attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces, the U.S. military said in a statement.
"Initial assessments indicate there are no noncombatant casualties," the U.S. statement added. "Enemy casualty figures cannot be confirmed." [complete article]
U.S. missiles pound Falluja
Aljazeera, September 8, 2004
Up to six Iraqis have been killed and 24 others injured in US air strikes that have rocked the town of Falluja.
In the first attack late on Tuesday, US jets fired several missiles on Falluja, killing four people and wounding 11 others. A hospital spokesman said that a child and an elderly man were among the dead.
Early on Wednesday, US jets struck again, killing two Iraqis.
Aljazeera reported that dozens of Iraqi civilians were among those wounded and killed in the latest air strike. Local hospitals were overwhelmed with women and children seeking medical assistance and refuge. [complete article]
U.S. general says Samarra will fall
By Jim Krane, Associated Press (via Yahoo), September 8, 2004
One way or another, the U.S. Army and its Iraqi allies will seize the rebel-held city of Samarra before January's general election, the U.S. Army commander responsible for the city said Wednesday.
Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who leads the Army's 1st Infantry Division, said he's confident a combination of diplomacy, U.S. aid and Army intimidation will persuade the city's 500 insurgents to give up.
If not, Batiste said, the Germany-based 1st Infantry will assault ancient Samarra, a former Islamic capital whose warren-like center lies in the shadow of a spiral-shaped 9th century minaret.
"It'll be a quick fight and the enemy is going to die fast," Batiste said in an interview at his headquarters in a grandiose palace complex built by Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) in Tikrit. "The message for the people of Samarra is: peacefully or not, this is going to be solved." [complete article]
Rumsfeld: Iran aids rebels
By Rowan Scarborough, Washington Times, September 8, 2004
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld charged yesterday that Iran is fueling the deadly insurgency in Iraq with money and fighters.
But, in an interview with editors and reporters of The Washington Times, Mr. Rumsfeld acknowledged that the United States has limited options because other nations are "not willing" to join in pressuring Iran, which has shown behavior that Mr. Rumsfeld said is "not part of the civilized world."
The defense secretary, a main architect of President Bush's strategy of attacking Islamic terrorists worldwide, declared of the insurgency in Iraq, "They're losing."
His assessment came on a day when the military death toll in Iraq reached 1,000 Americans since the invasion in May 2003.
"I feel generally quite good about how things are going there," he said. [complete article]
Foreign aid workers to pull out after women are kidnapped
By Peter Popham, The Independent, September 9, 2004
Italy was convulsed with anger and distress yesterday over the kidnapping on Tuesday of two women aid workers from their office in central Baghdad.
Abducted with a male Iraqi engineer and a female Iraqi volunteer with another non-governmental organisation, Simona Torretta and Simona Pari, both 29, became the first Western women civilians to be kidnapped in Iraq.
A group calling itself Ansar al-Zawahri claimed responsibility for the abduction on an Islamist website, but experts gave the claim little credence.
The abduction looks likely to trigger an exodus of foreign workers with NGOs. A co-ordinator for such groups, Jean-Dominique Bunel, said he expected at least 50 workers to pull out. The organisation which employed the Italians, Bridge to Baghdad, is an anti-war group which has been helping Iraqis since the 1991 Gulf War. [complete article]
It's a Kerry romp (if world voted)
By Thomas Crampton, International Herald Tribune, September 9, 2004
If the world could cast a vote in the United States presidential election, John Kerry would beat George W. Bush by a landslide, according to a poll released on Wednesday that is described as the largest sample of global opinion on the race.
"It is absolutely clear that John Kerry would win handily if the people of the world could vote," said Steve Kull, director of The Program on International Policy Attitudes of the University of Maryland, a co-sponsor of the survey. "It is rather striking that just one in five people surveyed around the world support the re-election of President Bush." The poll of 34,330 people older than 15 from all regions of the world found that the majority or plurality of people from 32 countries prefer Kerry to Bush. [complete article]
See the PIPA report, "Global Public Opinion on the US Presidential Election and US Foreign Policy" (18-page PDF format).
Bush fell short on duty at Guard
Boston Globe, September 8, 2004
In February, when the White House made public hundreds of pages of President Bush's military records, White House officials repeatedly insisted that the records prove that Bush fulfilled his military commitment in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.
But Bush fell well short of meeting his military obligation, a Globe reexamination of the records shows: Twice during his Guard service -- first when he joined in May 1968, and again before he transferred out of his unit in mid-1973 to attend Harvard Business School -- Bush signed documents pledging to meet training commitments or face a punitive call-up to active duty.
He didn't meet the commitments, or face the punishment, the records show. The 1973 document has been overlooked in news media accounts. The 1968 document has received scant notice. [complete article]
Pentagon releases Bush's long-sought military records
By Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times, September 8, 2004
After saying for months that all relevant documents about President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard had been made public, the Bush administration released what it called newly found records on Tuesday night showing that Mr. Bush flew 336 hours in a fighter jet and ranked in the middle of his flight training class.
The 17 pages of documents, released by the Pentagon, will not resolve the standoff between Mr. Bush and the Democrats, which is about where, when and how often Mr. Bush showed up for National Guard duty in Alabama in 1972 and 1973. The debate has become an issue in the presidential campaign as Democrats have accused Mr. Bush of shirking his Guard duty and the White House has countered that records show the president did not.
White House and Pentagon officials said the documents were released in response to a request by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act. But neither the White House nor the Pentagon could entirely explain why the documents had not been made public in February, when the White House released a two-inch stack of paper related to Mr. Bush's Guard service that administration officials said represented everything that existed.
The release of the documents came as a new Democratic group, Texas for Truth, said it would start running a television commercial this week questioning Mr. Bush's National Guard attendance. The commercial features Bob Mintz, a lieutenant colonel in the Alabama Air National Guard, who served at a Montgomery, Ala., base and says that he never saw Mr. Bush there, even though he was actively looking for him. [complete article]
Comment -- Don't miss 60 Minutes (CBS, 8PM) tonight in which Dan Rather interviews former Texas House Speaker and Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, a Democrat, and talks about the role Barnes says he played in getting President George W. Bush into the Texas Air National Guard -- and why he now regrets it.
Missing in action
By Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, September 8, 2004
President Bush claims that in the fall of 1972, he fulfilled his Air National Guard duties at a base in Alabama. But Bob Mintz was there - and he is sure Mr. Bush wasn't.
Plenty of other officers have said they also don't recall that Mr. Bush ever showed up for drills at the base. What's different about Mr. Mintz is that he remembers actively looking for Mr. Bush and never finding him.
Mr. Mintz says he had heard that Mr. Bush - described as a young Texas pilot with political influence - had transferred to the base. He heard that Mr. Bush was also a bachelor, so he was looking forward to partying together. He's confident that he'd remember if Mr. Bush had shown up.
"I'm sure I would have seen him," Mr. Mintz said yesterday. "It's a small unit, and you couldn't go in or out without being seen. It was too close a space." There were only 25 to 30 pilots there, and Mr. Bush - a U.N. ambassador's son who had dated Tricia Nixon - would have been particularly memorable. [complete article]
Comment -- Kristof reaches this conclusion about Bush's poor National Guard service: "Does this disqualify Mr. Bush from being commander in chief? No. But it should disqualify the Bush campaign from sliming the military service of a rival who still carries shrapnel from Vietnam in his thigh." But that's letting Bush off the hook. As I wrote when this story ran in February: To those readers for whom I'm stating the obvious, forgive me, but let's just spell out what the issue is here. It isn't about whether Lt. Bush was a flake in 1972. It's about whether President Bush is a liar in 2004.
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U.S. military death toll hits grim milestone
By T. Christian Miller and Esther Schrader, Los Angeles Times, September 7, 2004
The number of American military deaths in Iraq reached 1,000 Tuesday as fierce fighting erupted between U.S. forces and insurgents in Baghdad and Fallujah.
The grim milestone comes amid a heated presidential campaign in which the decision to go to war in Iraq has become one of the central and most divisive issues.
President Bush made no direct comment on the tally, but Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld cast the death toll as evidence that the United States was aggressively engaging terrorists around the world. [complete article]
Queria: Retaliation would be 'justified'
By Ibrahim Barzak, Associated Press (via Washington Post), September 7, 2004
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia warned that a deadly Israeli airstrike on a Hamas training camp would bring retaliation, which he said would be "justified."
The unusually strong statement from Queria followed an attack by Israeli helicopters on the training camp early Tuesday in which at least 14 militants were killed and at least 30 others were wounded. It was one of the deadliest airstrikes since fighting broke out four years ago.
The attack came a week after Hamas suicide bombers blew up two buses in the Israeli city of Beersheba, killing 16 people.
"No crime goes unpunished," Qureia said of the Israeli attack at a meeting of the Palestinian Cabinet. "For sure there will be retaliation, and the retaliation will be justified if it happens." [complete article]
Planned Palestinian elections win widespread backing
Agence France Presse (via Daily Star), September 6, 2004
Three Palestinian factions that boycotted the last elections gave their backing Sunday for plans to hold fresh polls in the West Bank and Gaza Strip next year.
The Islamist group Hamas, the smaller Islamic Jihad movement and the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) urged followers to register to vote in a bid to take advantage of disillusionment with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's mainstream Fatah faction.
"Hamas is asking all the Palestinian people to register to vote in the elections," the organization said in a statement.
"We in Hamas regard elections as a way to lay the foundations for a community built on the pillars of freedom, stability and justice," it added.
Palestinian officials announced on Saturday that they planned to hold simultaneous presidential, parliamentary and municipal polls in spring 2005. [complete article]
South Africa, Likud hold talks on MidEast conflict
By Mboniso Sigonyela, Reuters, September 7, 2004
South Africa opened talks on Tuesday with Israel's ruling Likud party, hoping to draw on its own successful negotiations that ended apartheid to help resolve the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
South Africa has been an outspoken critic of Israeli policies towards Palestinians, but political analysts said it was equally keen to demonstrate its cardinal belief that dialogue produces far better results than the use of force. [complete article]
Israel seeks funds for separate Arab roads
By Chris McGreal, The Guardian, September 6, 2004
Israel is pressing foreign donors to finance the construction of a web of roads through the occupied territories - made necessary by the building of the vast "security" barrier and Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
The Israeli government seeks foreign funding to upgrade the back roads that Palestinians are forced to use - after being banned from routes used by Jewish settlers.
It also wants funding to build new roads which take account of the barrier and its settlements. The plan envisages roads that would run parallel to each other - one for Jews, the other for Arabs.
European donors have recoiled from the proposal, in part because they are concerned that funding the new roads will breach July's International Court of Justice ruling against support for construction of the barrier. The court said it should be torn down because it breaches the Geneva conventions.
But diplomats say the US may be more willing to pay, given Washington's tacit endorsement of the barrier and support for Ariel Sharon's latest plan to expand West Bank settlements while withdrawing settlers from Gaza. [complete article]
ISRAEL AND IRAN -- A DECEMBER SURPRISE?
Israel loses satellite meant to spy on Iran
By Steven Erlanger, New York Times, September 7, 2004
An Israeli spy satellite intended to increase the country's surveillance over Iran landed in the Mediterranean Sea on Monday after a rocket malfunction shortly after takeoff, Israeli officials said.
The satellite, Ofek-6, was meant to give Israel more early warning in case of a surprise missile attack and to provide more information on Iran's extensive missile program. In Hebrew, ofek means horizon. Israel says it intends to try again in the next few months.
Iran has already tested the Shahab-3 missile, which can reach Israel and beyond, and is working to build nuclear weapons to put on it, senior Israeli military and intelligence officials contend. [complete article]
A rocket with a camera
By Amir Oren, Haaretz, September 7, 2004
The loss yesterday of the Ofek-6 was an expensive engineering and security loss, but there's an even graver indirect cost than the loss of the capability, the time and the money.
The planning failure that prevented the satellite from going into orbit could accelerate the escalation of tension between Israel and Iran and bring them closer to a military clash.
Israel chose, rather than was forced, to launch the satellite now. A reasonable alternative would have been to warehouse the missile and satellite and wait for Ofek-5 to outlive its usefulness. The wait would have saved the cost of the launch, but contained the risk of a temporary blindness in the lacuna between the demise of 5 and the launch of 6.
The recommendation that was finally accepted was not to leave the missile and satellite ready on the shelf. The gamble, or calculated risk, was not a success. Now the shelf is empty, and there is no certainty that a new satellite will be ready before Ofek-5 reaches its end. [complete article]
Four day war
By Claude Salhani, The American Conservative, September 13, 2004
While the United States is keeping an eye on Iran's nuclear progress, there is another country watching even more closely. Israel, feeling the most threatened by Iran's march towards nuclear competency, is reportedly preparing a repeat of its 1981 raid on Iraq's nuclear facility at Osirak. With about 140,000 American troops in neighboring Iraq, chances that the U.S. will intervene militarily are slim, making it all the more probable that Israel will feel it has to act unilaterally.
According to a recent report, Israel has built replicas of Iran's nuclear facilities in the Negev Desert, where their fighter-bombers have been practicing test runs for months. Israel realizes it has a small window of opportunity if it is to take out Iran's nuclear facilities before they go "hot" and leakage from an attack causes harmful exposure to tens of thousands of civilians caught by radiation forced into the atmosphere by such a raid.
Israel is unlikely to accept Iran's word that its nuclear program is meant solely for peaceful purposes and aimed at developing commercial energy. The possibility of decisive military action is, indeed, high.
What follows [in this article] is the unfolding of a worst-case scenario, an imaginary yet all-too-possible depiction of how events might develop if Israel were to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. [complete article]
Affair may slow push for regime change in Tehran
By Marc Perelman, The Forward, September 3, 2004
News of the FBI probe comes as the administration is re-evaluating its policy toward Iraq in light of harsh congressional and public censure regarding intelligence failures and mistakes in planning for the postwar period. Many of the problems have been blamed on the Pentagon.
"Coming after Iraq, this could take away momentum for a regime-change policy in a second Bush term," Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East affairs specialist with the Congressional Research Service, said of the disclosure.
The Kerry campaign, for its part, last week indicated a willingness to reach out to Tehran to discuss its nuclear ambitions, thus distancing
Analysts said the affair also might be a policy setback for Israel, which shares the Pentagon's hawkish views on Iran. In recent months, Israel has been urging Washington and its Western allies to take an uncompromising approach toward Iran's nuclear ambitions. With a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran's nuclear activities due this week and a meeting of the agency coming up September 13, Jerusalem and Tehran have been trading threats of military strikes. [complete article]
Comment -- While the FBI probe of AIPAC and the neocons is being characterized by some as a political campaign secretly being driven by the neocons opponents, to the extent that it will have the effect of slowing down the administration's drive for regime change in Tehran, it will also empower those who argue that Israel must now act unilaterally. Irrespective of how far Iran's nuclear program has actually advanced, Israel may rapidly be reaching the conclusion that it only has a brief opportunity to launch a repeat of its 1981 raid on the nuclear facility at Osirak in Iraq. The failure of the Ofek-6 satellite along with other intelligence setbacks such as the recently reported capture of MEK spies in Iran, is likely to make the hawkish members of Sharon's administration argue that if Israel can't really see what's going on in Iran, it can't afford to wait much longer before it attacks Iran's nuclear facilities.
Even if George Bush wins a second term, Israel has no guarantee that many of its neoconservative allies will continue to enjoy as much influence as they had in the first administration. Moreover, in spite of tough talk currently being directed at Tehran from Washington, Iraq will continue to consume most of the attention of the next administration -- whoever wins the election.
Since an Israeli surprise attack on Iranian nuclear facilities could result in a fearsome retaliation from Iran, it's likely that the White House has made it clear to Sharon that it would not welcome such a surprise before the election. That leaves December.
Iran: U.S. should talk, not threaten
Reuters (via Aljazeera), September 7, 2004
The head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council has told Washington to stop threatening the Islamic republic and start talking.
Speaking on state television on Monday, Hasan Rohani said negotiations would resolve the issues that currently surrounded the country's nuclear programme.
"The only way to resolve Iran's nuclear problem is steady dialogue, not putting pressure or threatening us," Rohani said.
The US accuses Iran of secretly working on an atomic bomb and has been pushing for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to report Iran's case to the UN Security Council for possible economic sanctions.
Tehran rejects the charge and says its ambitions are limited to generating electricity from nuclear reactors. [complete article]
Comment -- The problem with having a policy of regime change is that it obstructs diplomacy. How do you negotiate with a government that you want to see overthrown? The irony of the Bush administration's tough rhetoric is that it has diminished America's power to function effectively in the diplomatic arena. Instead of looking strong, it has ended up simply looking ham-fisted.
The Bush neocons and Israel
By Kathleen and Bill Christison, Counterpunch, September 6, 2004
Since the long-forgotten days when the State Department's Middle East policy was run by a group of so-called Arabists, U.S. policy on Israel and the Arab world has increasingly become the purview of officials well known for tilting toward Israel. From the 1920s roughly to 1990, Arabists, who had a personal history and an educational background in the Arab world and were accused by supporters of Israel of being totally biased toward Arab interests, held sway at the State Department and, despite having limited power in the policymaking circles of any administration, helped maintain some semblance of U.S. balance by keeping policy from tipping over totally toward Israel. But Arabists have been steadily replaced by their exact opposites, what some observers are calling Israelists, and policymaking circles throughout government now no longer even make a pretense of exhibiting balance between Israeli and Arab, particularly Palestinian, interests. [complete article]
The unwinnable war
By James Carroll, Boston Globe, September 7, 2004
George W. Bush finally told the truth. It happened last week when he said of the war on terrorism, "I don't think you can win it."
We know it was the truth because of the way it embarrassed him, because of the way his handlers immediately required him to repudiate it ("I probably need to be more articulate"), and because the mass of Republicans were deaf to it. Just as Bush had inadvertently spoken the exact truth about the war on terrorism at its onset ("This crusade, this war on terrorism"), he had inadvertently done so again.
Six months ago, I took a leave from this column. I had been writing obsessively about the war for more than two years, and my truth had become woefully repetitive. "Whatever happens from this week forward in Iraq," I wrote in March, "the main outcome of the war is clear. We have defeated ourselves."
In the time since I wrote that, I confess, even my bleak vision has come to seem like the good old days. After all, that was before Abu Ghraib, before the siege of Najaf, before the Sunnis and Shi'ites discovered that their hatred of the occupiers outweighed their hatred of each other, before the handover of Fallujah to outlaw militants, before Ahmed Chalabi's disgrace (and last week's rehabilitation), before Washington's installation in Baghdad of a blatant puppet regime, before the death toll of young Americans approached 1,000. [complete article]
Fighting intensifies in Sadr City
By Jackie Spinner and Lexie Verdon, Washington Post, September 7, 2004
U.S. troops Tuesday engaged in heavy combat with insurgents in the Sadr City section of Baghdad, an impoverished neighborhood that is a stronghold for forces loyal to rebel Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr. One U.S. soldier was killed in the fighting and at least 25 Iraqis were dead, officials said.
The violence is the first major battle between U.S. forces and Sadr's Madhi Army militia since both sides stepped away from a confrontation in the holy city of Najaf late last month under a cease-fire brokered by an Iraqi senior religious leader. On Aug. 30, Sadr announced through aides that he was planning to participate in Iraq's political development and ordered his militia to suspend attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces. [complete article]
Ramadi posts seen as 'symbol of occupation'
By Pamela Hess, UPI (via Washington Times), September 7, 2004
U.S. Marines in Ramadi, one of the deadliest cities in Iraq for American forces, decided in June to halt their patrols through the town and set up observation posts in tall buildings instead.
The idea was to show respect for Iraqi sovereignty and cut down on battles with insurgents, in which innocent civilians could be injured. But rather than reducing tensions, the new strategy may be having the opposite effect.
"When we were originally doing patrols, foot and vehicle, a guy would see the coalition pass by his house for 30 seconds once a week and that would be the extent of his contact," said Lt. Jonathan Hesener, a Marine platoon commander.
"But now everyone in Ramadi sees us on top of the hotel every day as they drive down the street. To them, it's not decreased presence. It's a symbol of occupation." [complete article]
Saddam's Baath Party is back in business
By Hannah Allam, Knight Ridder, September 6, 2004
By day, Iraqis loyal to Saddam's Hussein's much-feared Baath Party recite their oath in clandestine meetings, solicit donations from former members and talk politics over sugary tea at a Baghdad cafe known as simply "The Party."
By night, cells of these same men stage attacks on American and Iraqi forces, host soirees for Saddam's birthday and other former regime holidays, and debrief informants still dressed in suits and ties from their jobs in the new, U.S.-backed Iraqi government.
Even with Saddam under lock and key, the Baath Party is back in business.
The pan-Arab socialist movement is going strong with sophisticated computer technology, high-level infiltration of the new government and plenty of recruits in thousands of disenchanted, impoverished Sunni Muslim Iraqis, according to interviews with current and former members, Iraqi government officials and groups trying to root out former Baathists.
The political party has morphed into a catchall resistance movement that poses a serious challenge to interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a Baathist-turned-opposition leader. [complete article]
New Iraqi government failing to gain crucial Shiite support
By Anne Barnard, Boston Globe (via IHT), September 7, 2004
A week after reaching a truce with Moktada al-Sadr's rebel militia, a move officials hailed as a breakthrough that would let them bolster security forces and restart reconstruction projects, the interim Iraqi government faces a deepening crisis of confidence among the country's Shiite Muslim majority.
Those who fear Sadr, the militant cleric, say they worry that Iraq's police and armed forces cannot control him and that new fighting will break out. And his supporters accuse the government of betraying the truce that ended three weeks of fighting between U.S. forces and militiamen in Najaf, and threaten to resume their uprising.
"We did what you asked us to do, to make peace. Don't make us go and fight again!" Sheik Nasser al-Saadi thundered in his Friday sermon at Sadr's main mosque in the heart of Sadr City, the Baghdad district of more than two million impoverished Shiites where hundreds died in clashes with U.S. forces in April and last month. [complete article]
Kerry slams Bush on Iraq
By Lois Romano and Paul Farhi, Washington Post, September 7, 2004
Sen. John F. Kerry, under pressure from Democratic leaders to draw sharper contrasts between himself and George W. Bush, launched a series of blistering attacks on the president Monday, saying the W in his opponent's name stands for "wrong . . . wrong choices, wrong priorities, wrong direction for our country."
On a busy Labor Day dash across the swing states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, Kerry assailed the president's economic policies and paid special attention to the war in Iraq, calling it "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." He said he aimed to withdraw U.S. troops from the country during his first term. [complete article]
ARE AMERICAN VOTERS ADULTS OR BUSH BABIES?
Card says president sees America as a child needing a parent
By Sarah Schweitzer, Boston Globe, September 2, 2004
White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said yesterday that President Bush views America as a "10-year-old child" in need of the sort of protection provided by a parent.
Card's remark, criticized later by Democrat John F. Kerry's campaign as "condescending," came in a speech to Republican delegates from Maine and Massachusetts that was threaded with references to Bush's role as protector of the country. Republicans have sounded that theme repeatedly at the GOP convention as they discuss the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the war in Iraq.
"It struck me as I was speaking to people in Bangor, Maine, that this president sees America as we think about a 10-year-old child," Card said. "I know as a parent I would sacrifice all for my children."
The comment underscored an argument put forth some by political pundits, such as MSNBC talk-show host Chris Matthews, that the Republican Party has cast itself as the "daddy party."
A Kerry spokesman, seizing on Card's characterization of Bush as a parental figure for the nation, contended that the president had failed. [complete article]
Comment -- The division across America comes down to a division between, on the one side, people who see the president as a guardian they can trust without needing to understand what he's doing, and on the other side, people who see the president as a public servant who needs to be held accountable. Bush offers the comfort of blissfully ignorant childhood, while Kerry, in his tentative clumsy way, is trying to treat American voters as adults.
Reports find anti-terror funds misused
Associated Press (via Monterey Herald), September 6, 2004
Many government agencies in California have misspent federal money to strengthen security against terrorist threats following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, according to newspaper investigations published Sunday.
Investigations conducted by The Oakland Tribune and the Los Angeles Daily News found that officials have used federal anti-terrorism money to purchase equipment and cover police work not directly related to the war on terror.
The newspapers, which conducted dozens of interviews and reviewed government documents obtained under the California Public Records Act, also determined that hundreds of millions of dollars have been disbursed without giving enough consideration to the specific risks and threats facing the state. [complete article]
THE FATE OF FALLUJAH
Seven U.S. Marines dead, several wounded in car bomb near Fallujah
By Jim Krane, Associated Press (via Boston Globe), September 6, 2004
A massive car bomb exploded on the outskirts of Fallujah on Monday, killing seven U.S. Marines and wounding several others, a U.S. military official said.
The strength of the blast sent the engine from the vehicle used in the bombing flying "a good distance" from the site, a military official said on condition of anonymity.
Wounded troops were being treated Monday afternoon, the official said.
U.S. forces have not patrolled inside Fallujah since April, when U.S. Marines ended a three-week siege. The city has since fallen into the hands of insurgents who have used it as a base to manufacture car bombs and launch attacks on U.S. and Iraqi government forces. [complete article]
U.S. assault likely before January elections
By Jim Krane, Associated Press (via Yahoo), September 5, 2004
A U.S. assault on one or more of Iraq's three main "no-go" areas -- including Fallujah -- is likely in the next four months as the Iraqi government prepares to extend control before elections slated for January, the U.S. land forces commander said Sunday.
Army Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz's announcement came after a month that saw attacks on U.S. forces reach an average of almost 100 per day -- the highest level since the end of major combat last year.
Metz, the No. 2 American military leader here, said Iraq's upcoming general election is the next major milestone in Iraq.
The U.S. military will work to regain control of rebel strongholds and turn them over to Iraq's fledgling security forces so elections will be seen by Iraqis -- and the world -- as free and fair.
"I don't think today you could hold elections," Metz said during an interview with three reporters at Multinational Corps headquarters near Baghdad International Airport. "But I do have about four months where I want to get to local control. And then I've got the rest of January to help the Iraqis to put the mechanisms in place."
An American military offensive will be needed to bring the toughest places to heel, Metz said.
The rebel-held western city of Fallujah is the biggest obstacle, he said. The next biggest problem, in U.S. military terms, is Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad -- and also in guerrilla hands. [complete article]
Violence may force Iraq to bypass hotspots in election
By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times, September 6, 2004
Iraq remains on course to hold landmark elections in January, but violence could force authorities to exclude hotspots such as the western city of Fallouja from voting, a top U.S. general said here Sunday.
Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz, operations chief of more than 150,000 mostly U.S. troops, said in an interview that the "cancer" of anti-American militancy in places such as Fallouja would not derail national elections.
A "contingency" plan, Metz said, is to bypass Fallouja -- and perhaps other violent enclaves -- and concentrate on ensuring electoral security in Baghdad and other population centers where hostility is lower.
"We'd have elections before we let one place like Fallouja stop [national] elections," said Metz, the No. 2 U.S. military official in Iraq. "The rest of the country can go on about a process that heads right for an election." [complete article]
Comment -- The Marine assault on Fallujah in April, following the gruesome killing of four American security contractors, resulted in the deaths of several hundred residents. US commanders will now be under even greater pressure to "solve" the Fallujah problem. As Marine commander Lt. Col. Dave Bellon, said, "I cannot fathom a resolution of this problem that does not include us being allowed to take the city down once and for all." If this is what now happens, the plan will be meticulous, the execution disciplined, and the results devasting. While the folly of Vietnam was encapsulated in the statement, "We had to destroy the village to save it," George Bush's reckless adventure into Iraq may come to be remembered as the war where America thought it could destroy a city and thereby save a country.
Pro-Israel lobby has strong voice
By Thomas B. Edsall and Molly Moore, Washington Post, September 5, 2004
On May 18, President George W. Bush stood before the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington and spoke effusively to its members.
"AIPAC is doing important work," Bush said. "In Washington and beyond, AIPAC is calling attention to the great security challenges of our time.
"You've always understood and warned against the evil ambition of terrorism and their networks," the president continued. "In a dangerous new century, your work is more vital than ever."
Just over three months later, the most powerful pro-Israel lobbying organization in the United States is embroiled in an FBI probe into whether Pentagon officials gave AIPAC representatives classified material -- which sources said may have included information about Iran -- and whether they in turn passed it to the Israeli government.
For AIPAC, the allegations are potentially devastating to its credibility and large influence in Washington, and its officials have vigorously denied any wrongdoing. [complete article]
Why Bush's man is fighting dirty
By Paul Harris, The Observer, September 5, 2004
[Bush's trusted campaign strategist, Karl] Rove is credited with creating the Republicans' awesome machine. It is a huge pyramid, with Rove at its apex, feeding down in disciplined layer on layer into every county in every state in America. It has databases of tens of millions of voters, has signed up one million volunteers, has put field organisations in key states long before Democratic rivals and has poured millions of dollars into voter registration drives. Rove has learnt the lessons of 2000, when five states were decided by less than half a percentage point.
The media operation is equally sophisticated. Kerry's Vietnam record was meant to make the Democrats immune on national security. But Rove has a record of attacking opponents' strengths, not weaknesses. Kerry has faced a full-frontal assault by Republican leaders and shadowy surrogate groups, such as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Kerry, a triple Purple Heart winner, has been left desperately fighting allegations that he betrayed fellow veterans by turning against the war.
Given that Bush himself dodged Vietnam when family connections got him a place in the National Guard, it was a stunning turnaround that Kerry's support among veterans proceeded to plummet. [complete article]
How Kerry became a girlie-man
By Frank Rich, New York Times, September 5, 2004
Only in in an election year ruled by fiction could a sissy who used Daddy's connections to escape Vietnam turn an actual war hero into a girlie-man.
As we leave the scripted conventions behind us, that is the uber-scenario that has locked into place, brilliantly engineered by the president of the United States, with more than a little unwitting assistance from his opponent. It's a marvel, really. Even a $10,000 reward offered this year by Garry Trudeau couldn't smoke out a credible eyewitness to support George W. Bush's contention that he showed up to defend Alabama against the Viet Cong in 1972. Yet John F. Kerry, who without doubt shed his own blood and others' in the vicinity of the Mekong, not the Mississippi, is now the deserter and the wimp. [complete article]
Five big American blunders in terror war
By William M. Arkin, Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2004
First: Beware the Next Big Thing.
On the military side of the war on terrorism, the Next Big Thing has been U.S. Special Forces. President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld jumped to embrace special operations in the Afghanistan war and expected them to play a substantial role in rooting out Iraqi die-hards. At first, the ninja warriors did seem to personify 21st century military transformation. And the shadowy, no-rules ethic of special ops nicely paralleled the president's "bring 'em to justice" thinking.
But the special operations strategy is essentially a SWAT team approach: Highly trained operators swoop down on the enemy and clean house. It works well for the police, because the bad guys are usually holed up somewhere. You can't surround a whole city or country, though. By the time we kick in the doors, the bad guys have often scattered. Or they were never at that particular address to begin with; witness the still-futile search for Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mohammed Omar. [complete article]
The base of terror is here
By Gideon Levy, Haaretz, September 5, 2004
Even before all the victims in last week's terrorist attack in Be'er Sheva were identified, Israeli security sources had identified those responsible for the attack - the Syrians. A random question by a military correspondent may have been what prompted the heads of the defense establishment, and in their wake the media, to level a series of threats and warnings at Israel's northern neighbor. This automatic accusation did not appear in a vacuum, either. For some time, Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon, and with him the senior level of the Israel Defense Forces, has been trying to accuse Damascus of responsibility for the terrorism in Israel. [...]
Syria may well be involved in Palestinian terrorism, and maybe Iran, too. But there is no need for learned security assessments to uncover the simple truth: The underlying basis of this terrorism lies in the territories. Nowhere else. The main motivation for the war against us is the aspiration to shake off the cruel yoke of the occupation. The checkpoints, the humiliations, the suppression and the mass imprisonment are the true infrastructure of terrorism. All the rest are props. Palestinian terrorism was not engendered in any external command post. It had its birth among the rubble in the territories, in the hearts of the children who saw their parents humiliated and their lives trampled underfoot. Anyone who truly wants to put an end to terrorism must fight the occupation. Any other war is pointless. All it will do is reduce the scale of terrorism from time to time, and chalk up a few achievements - but it will lose. [complete article]
Muslim leaders condemn killers
By David Smith, The Observer, September 5, 2004
Islamic leaders in the Middle East yesterday denounced the slaughter of children in Russia as 'unIslamic', as commentators asked unusually soul-searching questions about the region and terrorism.
Even the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's biggest Islamic group, condemned the bloody siege in Beslan. Its leader, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, said that kidnappings may be justified but killings are not. He added: 'What happened is not jihad [holy war] because Islam obligates us to respect the souls of human beings; it is not about taking them away.'
While some Islamic fundamentalists in the Middle East have long supported fellow Muslims fighting in Chechnya, such was the barbarity of the hostage takers that few voices spoke in support of the actions in Ossetia. Egypt's leading Muslim cleric, Grand Sheik Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, was quoted as saying during a Friday sermon: 'What is the guilt of those children? Why should they be responsible for your conflict with the government? You are taking Islam as a cover and it is a deceptive cover; those who carry out the kidnappings are criminals, not Muslims.' [complete article]
It's too easy to blame bin Laden
By Jason Burke, The Observer, September 5, 2004
Heads of security services and governments around the world have something in common with Osama bin Laden. They all stand to benefit from exaggerating the capabilities of al-Qaeda.
The idea that bin Laden is a global terrorist mastermind, able to engender violence worldwide, flatters him and helps in the competition with other terrorist outfits for recruits and funds. The benefits of myth-making are also clear to the Russians (and the Uzbeks, Filipinos and Algerians, to name but three serial human-rights abusing governments who constantly claim, disingenuously, that the insurgents that they are fighting in their respective lands are linked to 'al-Qaeda').
Active participation in the 'war against terror' triggers a flood of material and moral support from Washington as well as legitimising tactics the West otherwise wouldn't approve of. It means long-term grudges underpinning any insurgency - discrimination, economic mismanagement, repression - can be ignored and the 'al-Qaeda bogeyman' blamed instead.
So it is unsurprising Russian security services have, on the basis of 10 'citizens of the Arab world' being among 20 militants killed in the hostage siege last week, decided that the operation was the work of 'al-Qaeda'. [complete article]
Spy case renews debate over pro-Israel lobby's ties to Pentagon
By James Risen and David Johnston, New York Times, September 5, 2004
It began like most national security investigations, with a squad of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents surreptitiously tailing two men, noting where they went and whom they met. What was different about this case was that the surveillance subjects were lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and one of their contacts turned out to be a policy analyst at the Pentagon.
The ensuing criminal investigation into whether Aipac officials passed classified information from the Pentagon official to Israel has become one of the most byzantine counterintelligence stories in recent memory. So far, the Justice Department has not accused anyone of wrongdoing and no one has been arrested.
Aipac has dismissed the accusations as baseless, and Israel has denied conducting espionage operations in the United States.
Behind the scenes, however, the case has reignited a furious and long-running debate about the close relationship between Aipac, the pro-Israel lobbying organization, and a conservative group of Republican civilian officials at the defense department, who are in charge of the office that employs Lawrence A. Franklin, the Pentagon analyst. [complete article]
Policy wonk in spy probe
By Mark Mazzetti, Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2004
For two decades as an intelligence analyst and policy wonk at the Pentagon, Larry Franklin built his career tracking threats.
He monitored the collapse of the Soviet Union and became obsessed with the growing threat of Middle East terrorism that came in its wake. He spent long hours behind piles of papers and books in Pentagon cubicles. And in foreign capitals and Washington restaurants, he met with diplomats and dissidents to exchange information, gather intelligence and trade gossip.
It is during one of those meetings, however, that U.S. officials question whether Franklin may have crossed a line by allegedly passing a classified document about U.S. policy on Iran to members of a pro-Israel lobbying group, who in turn may have given it to Israeli officials in Washington. [complete article]
Italy blames France for Niger uranium claim
By Bruce Johnston and Kim Willsher, The Telegraph, September 5, 2004
A row has broken out between France and Italy over whose intelligence service is to blame for the Niger uranium controversy, which led to Britain and America claiming wrongly that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy material for nuclear bombs.
Italian diplomats say that France was behind forged documents which at first appeared to prove that Iraq was seeking "yellow-cake" uranium in Niger - evidence used by Britain and America to promote the case for last year's Gulf war. [complete article]
Iraq extends ban on al-Jazeera TV
BBC News, September 5, 2004
Iraq's interim government has indefinitely extended a month-long ban on Arabic TV news channel al-Jazeera.
It says there has been no response to fears that broadcasts incite violence.
A statement issued by the office of the interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, also accused al-Jazeera of continuing to operate from Iraq despite the ban. [complete article]
See also, Aljazeera's Iraq correspondents speak out
One by one, Iraqi cities become no-go zones
By Dexter Filkins, New York Times, September 5, 2004
At a recent meeting with a group of tribal sheiks, an American general spoke with evident frustration about the latest Iraqi city to fall into the hands of insurgents.
"Not one dime of American taxpayers' money will come into your city until you help us drive out the terrorists," Maj. Gen. John R. S. Batiste said in his base in Tikrit, tapping the table to make sure he was understood.
The sheiks nodded, smiled and withdrew, back to the city that neither they, nor the American military, any longer control.
The city under discussion was Samarra, a small metropolis north of Baghdad known for a dazzling ninth-century minaret that winds 164 feet into the air. In the heart of the area called the Sunni Triangle, Samarra is the most recent place where the American military has decided that pulling out and standing back may be the better part of valor, even if insurgents take over.
In Iraq, the list of places from which American soldiers have either withdrawn or decided to visit only rarely is growing: Falluja, where a Taliban-like regime has imposed a rigid theocracy; Ramadi, where the Sunni insurgents appear to have the run of the city; and the holy Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf to the south, where the Americans agreed last month to keep their distance from the sacred shrines of Ali and Hussein. [complete article]
Comment -- As President Bush continues to assert that the mission in Iraq is to create the foundation for a new democracy, the areas of the country where the US has already ceded control are going in another direction and there's no indication that American commanders have any way to reverse the trend. Lt. Col. Dave Bellon, a Marine commander outside Falluja, wrote recently in his weblog, The Green Side, "With everything that I know, I cannot fathom a resolution of this problem that does not include us being allowed to take the city down once and for all." The question is, how many more battles are US forces willing to get drawn into before a consensus emerges that the war has been lost?
Welcome to Iraq, Mr. President
By David Rieff, New York Times, September 5, 2004
Even as the 2004 political campaign continues to focus on refighting the Vietnam War, one thing is certain: whoever wins the presidency will have other priorities. It will be the war in Iraq, the war that this generation of Americans is actually fighting and dying in, that George W. Bush or John Kerry will have to confront. Either man will have to do so at a time when Iraq poses difficult, perhaps even impossible, options for United States policymakers.
In terms of policy, it is in no way clear that the president and Senator Kerry are all that far apart on Iraq. What is clear, even in the depths of a political campaign, is that many hard choices await the winner -- and he won't have much time to make them. There is a broad consensus that Iraq has reached what the military calls an inflection point, a crucial period when things could get a lot worse or a lot better very quickly. The next administration's first decisions may well determine the outcome. [complete article]
U.S. troops in Iraq see highest injury toll yet
By Karl Vick, Washington Post, September 5, 2004
About 1,100 U.S. soldiers and Marines were wounded in Iraq during August, by far the highest combat injury toll for any month since the war began and an indication of the intensity of battles flaring in urban areas.
U.S. medical commanders say the sharp rise in battlefield injuries reflects more than three weeks of fighting by two Army and one Marine battalion in the southern city of Najaf. At the same time, U.S. units frequently faced combat in a sprawling Shiite Muslim slum in Baghdad and in the Sunni cities of Fallujah, Ramadi and Samarra, all of which remain under the control of insurgents two months after the transfer of political authority. [complete article]
EMAIL UPDATES -- Click here to sign up for weekly email updates -- a digest of key articles from the last seven days. (Please include your name in the message and put "subscribe" in the subject line.)
Noteworthy articles from the last seven days:
The neoconservatives and Israel
By Stephen Green, Counterpunch, September 3, 2004
Since 9-11, a small group of "neo-conservatives" in the Administration have effectively gutted--they would say reformed--traditional American foreign and security policy. Notable features of the new Bush doctrine include the pre-emptive use of unilateral force, and the undermining of the United Nations and the principle instruments and institutions of international law....all in the cause of fighting terrorism and promoting homeland security.
Some skeptics, noting the neo-cons' past academic and professional associations, writings and public utterances, have suggested that their underlying agenda is the alignment of U.S. foreign and security policies with those of Ariel Sharon and the Israeli right wing. The administration's new hard line on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict certainly suggests that, as perhaps does the destruction, with U.S. soldiers and funds, of the military capacity of Iraq, and the current belligerent neo-con campaign against the other two countries which constitute a remaining counterforce to Israeli military hegemony in the region--Iran and Syria.
Have the neo-conservatives--many of whom are senior officials in the Defense Department, National Security Council and Office of the Vice President--had dual agendas, while professing to work for the internal security of the United States against its terrorist enemies?
A review of the internal security backgrounds of some of the best known among them strongly suggests the answer.
Hour of the generals
By Andrew J. Bacevich, The American Conservative, August 30, 2004
The big news, all but lost in the welter of attention given to revelations of past intelligence failures and the continuing saga of Martha Stewart, is that the strength of the anti-American resistance in Iraq is growing by leaps and bounds. Over the past year, the insurgent order-of-battle has enjoyed as much as a fourfold increase. If we needed further proof that the war is not going well, evidence is now at hand.
A year ago, when he assumed charge of United States Central Command and acknowledged that Operation Iraqi Freedom had given way to what he candidly called a "classical guerrilla war," Gen. John Abizaid assessed the total number of insurgents to be 5,000. But according to a recent Associated Press dispatch all but ignored by major media outlets, official estimates of the enemy's strength have risen to 20,000 -- this despite the fact that over the past year American forces have killed or imprisoned several thousand Iraqis and so-called "foreign fighters." In short, enemy recruitment is easily outpacing our efforts to reduce his numbers.
There is a sense in which this hardly comes as a surprise. Despite periodic ebbs and flows, the fighting in Iraq over the past year has progressively intensified. Overall security has deteriorated. Bush administration efforts to portray the resistance as a last-ditch effort by a handful of Saddam loyalists have long since lost all credibility. The truth is that our adversary is shrewd, resourceful, and highly motivated. By and large, we find ourselves dancing to his tune: he blows up an oil pipeline, detonates a bomb in downtown Baghdad, or assassinates an Iraqi official -- and we react after the fact.
There will be another Beslan
By Isabel Hilton, The Guardian, September 4, 2004
In asymmetrical warfare everyone is involved and anyone is a potential victim. To promise that security in such conflicts will result from the deployment of large military machines is a sham. To fight asymmetrical war with tanks makes as much sense as trying to shoot mosquitoes with a machine gun. The result is counter-productive.
As the drama of Beslan was entering its final hours, George Bush was bidding for re-election on the promise of security to the American people, a security premised on the willingness to use overwhelming military force. It was the same promise that Putin gave to the Russians and Ariel Sharon to the people of Israel. All three have used violence freely in pursuit of electoral reward: Sharon's provocative visit to the Temple of the Mount that triggered the second intifada, Putin's reckless adventurism in re-launching the Chechen war in 1999, and the Bush invasion of Iraq. None has produced the peace or security that was their justification; all have generated more violence and widened the circle of killing far beyond the formal engagement of armed men on both sides. Now the most likely victims are the poor and the helpless, as collateral damage, bombing casualties or hostages.
Veterans of Iraq war join forces to protest U.S. invasion
By Marcella Bombardieri, Boston Globe, September 2, 2004
A year and a half ago, Robert Sarra was a Marine sergeant in Iraq, where, he says, he once fired his M-16 at a black-cloaked old woman who failed to stop when she was told. Instead of a suicide bomb, the bundle she carried to her death held only bread, tea, and a white flag.
From that day in a tiny town called Ash Shatra, Sarra says, he journeyed through dark territory -- heavy drinking, violent outbursts, therapy -- and finally from his temporary job in Chicago to the Republican National Convention this week. It is in New York that he embraced his new role -- peace activist. "I became opposed to the war when I saw we had no point in what was going on over there," said Sarra, 32, who spent nine years in the Marines and left in April. "We are all trying to make sure that the next time the US goes to war, it's for a good reason."
The massive protest in Manhattan on Sunday marked one of the first public appearances of a new group called Iraq Veterans Against the War. Though it is still small, numbering about 40, its members are taking tips from more established veterans groups, and because of their war experience, they seem likely to take a prominent role in debate about the Iraq war.
Iraq: The bungled transition
By Peter W. Galbraith, New York Review of Books, September 23, 2004
Iyad Allawi is America's man in Iraq. The interim prime minister, a Shiite, is tough, pro-American, but not visibly subservient. He is determined to take on the responsibility of fighting the insurgents, whether Sunni or Shiite, and prepared to be as ruthless as necessary to win. In short, Iyad Allawi is exactly the man President Bush thinks he needs as he faces an election likely to turn on events in Iraq.
Within days of his designation as prime minister, Allawi spoke openly of postponing Iraq's elections and he gave himself the authority to impose martial law. In early August, he closed down al-Jazeera's Baghdad bureau in retaliation for unfavorable coverage. Meanwhile, the Bush administration quietly let Iraq's interim constitution -- the so-called Transitional Administrative Law -- expire stillborn, along with its much-ballyhooed protec-tions for human rights, women, and democracy.
The administration seems to be gambling that Allawi can mobilize sufficient Iraqi force against the insurgents so that coalition troops will stop dying at the current frightening rate. It is a measure of how far America's once grand ambitions for Iraq have diminished that security has become more important than democracy for a mission intended not only to transform Iraq but with it the entire Middle East.
Report warns of regional tumult
By John Daniszewski, Los Angeles Times, September 2, 2004
Iraq will be lucky if it manages to avoid a breakup and civil war, and the country risks becoming the spark for a vortex of regional upheaval, concludes a report released Wednesday by Britain's highly regarded Royal Institute of International Affairs.
In a bleak assessment of where Iraq stands nearly 18 months after the U.S.-led invasion to depose Saddam Hussein, the report focused on the internal forces dividing the country and the external pressures that could exacerbate the situation.
The report notes that U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi called attention to the possibility of civil war during his visit to Iraq in February. "His warnings should be heeded," it says.
At most, the report suggests, the United States and its allies can hope for a "muddle-through" scenario, holding the country together but falling short of their original goal: the creation of a full-fledged democracy friendly to the West. The U.S. will have to keep all of Iraq's factions "more or less on board" through a combination of clever diplomacy and military restraint, it says.
The fragmentation of Iraq is the "default" scenario, the report says, and will occur if American-led forces pull out of the country too quickly or if the U.S. government imposes its vision on the country too rigidly.
"Under this scenario," the report says, "antipathy to the U.S. presence grows, not so much in a unified Iraqi nationalist backlash, but rather in a fragmented manner that could presage civil war if the U.S. cuts and runs."
Read the complete report, Iraq in transition: Vortex or catalyst? (26 pages, PDF format)
Tariq Ramadan and the war on terrorism
By Paul Woodward, The War in Context, September 1, 2004
The war in Iraq and the Bush administration's uncritical support of the Israeli government, have led many Muslims to believe that America's war on terrorism is in fact a war on Islam. Though President Bush initially referred to this war as a crusade, he was quick to insist that the "war against terrorism is not a war against Muslims, nor is it a war against Arabs."
Tariq Ramadan is a Muslim scholar who is charting a course away from a clash of civilizations. The Department of Homeland Security believes, however, that it is serving America's interests by preventing Dr. Ramadan from teaching at the University of Notre Dame. Since the department has provided no justification for its decision to revoke Dr. Ramadan's visa, it is reinforcing the image that America is frightened of Muslims. This is a fear that is poisoning our society. It poses a much greater threat to America than any of the views promoted by Tariq Ramadan.
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