The War in Context  
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Military in Iraq deepens U.S. resentment
By Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press, November 8, 2003

Houses shook, walls cracked, chandeliers swayed and children woke up screaming for their parents as U.S. planes dropped 500-pound bombs on the outskirts of Saddam Hussein's hometown overnight.

The show of force late Friday and early Saturday was a warning to the 120,000 people of Tikrit not to support insurgents, suspected of shooting down a Black Hawk helicopter hours earlier, killing six soldiers.

But while it succeeded in scaring residents, the barrage only confirmed for many that the United States is their enemy. [complete article]

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Iraqi intelligence top-notch
By Knut Royce, Newsday, November 8, 2003

In a conclusion that bodes ill for U.S. troops, an Army study asserts that the Iraqi military, though inept in the battlefield during the conventional phase of the war, excelled in intelligence, shadowing virtually every movement of coalition troops - a skill, military analysts say, that is being carried over into the current guerrilla conflict.

Defense analysts said the most significant aspect of the study - a "lessons learned" prepared by a blue-chip team of Army War College officers and civilian specialists - for the current conflict is the observation that Iraq's battlefield intelligence, though low-tech and blind from the air, was top-notch.

"This is critical to what is going on right now," said retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner, who has taught strategy at the National War College. "That's how they know where the Americans are right now and how to get to them. They're shadowing our units." [complete article]

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'Show of force,' counterinsurgency attack or simply revenge?

U.S. pounds Saddam's hometown; 2 G.I.s die
By Slobodan Lekic, Associated Press, November 8, 2003

Insurgents killed two U.S. paratroopers and wounded another west of Baghdad on Saturday as the U.S. military unleashed a show of force in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, rocketing buildings to rubble and dropping 500-pound bombs near the site where a Black Hawk helicopter crashed.

Meanwhile, in a setback to efforts at rebuilding in Iraq, the international Red Cross said Saturday it was temporarily closing its offices in Baghdad and the southern city of Basra because of security fears amid mounting attacks on foreigners.

The pre-dawn barrage in Tikrit came hours after the Black Hawk -- apparently shot down by insurgents -- exploded in flames in a grassy field just outside the city, a hotbed of anti-American sentiment. Six Americans in the copter died, capping the bloodiest week in Iraq for U.S. forces since the fall of Baghdad. [complete article]

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In the new Iraq, local officials put lives on the line
By Dan Murphy, Christian Science Monitor, November 7, 2003

Najaf's chief judge Muhan Jabr Shuwaili and chief prosecutor Aref Aziz had an ironclad routine. Every working morning since finishing law school together in 1979, they met outside their homes on this sleepy residential street to share the short trip to work.

But earlier this week, that routine was shattered forever when Shuwaili was assassinated by men who might be close to the old regime. His murder was one of an alarming string of killings targeting officials working with US authorities that could cost the coalition the support of its best domestic allies. [complete article]

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U.S. grip loosens in the Sunni Triangle
By Daniel Williams, Washington Post, November 8, 2003

American troops patrol less frequently, townspeople openly threaten Iraqi security personnel who cooperate with U.S. forces, and the night belongs to the guerrillas.

That is the reality in this little town 60 miles north of Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi officials say, and it reflects a shifting balance of power in U.S.-occupied central Iraq. Resistance forces move with impunity in Thuluiya and throughout the so-called Sunni Triangle, despite repeated raids on suspected hide-outs and arms caches. [complete article]

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America stirs hornet's nest of revenge
By David Blair, The Telegraph, November 8, 2003

It is unlikely that a Pentagon official will ever visit the Iraqi hamlet of al-Hussai on the western bank of the Euphrates river, but if he did he would find the views of 19-year-old Bashar Hashim Abdullah deeply troubling.

As he gathered the maize harvest from a lush field lined with palm trees, Bashar expressed a settled opinion of the US soldiers who patrol near his mud-brick home in central Iraq.

"We do not speak to the Americans or deal with them in any way," said Mr Abdullah. "My father tells me not to speak with bad people."

He lives five miles south of the town of Fallujah, in an area known as the "Sunni Triangle" where resistance to US forces is intense.

If the attacks are to be curbed, America needs the co-operation of people like Mr Abdullah. Only with information from local people can the guerrillas be tracked down. Mr Abdullah has nothing to do with the insurgents, but he insists that he would never inform on them. [complete article]

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Frist freezes Senate probe of prewar Iraq data
By Walter Pincus and Dana Priest, Washington Post, November 8, 2003

Angry about a leaked Democratic memo, the Republican leadership of the Senate yesterday took the unusual step of canceling all business of the committee investigating prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) called on the author of the memo -- which laid out a possible Democratic strategy to extend the investigation to include the White House and executive branch -- to "identify himself or herself . . . disavow this partisan attack in its entirety" and deliver "a personal apology" to Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence. [complete article]

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By Daniel Benjamin, Slate, November 7, 2003

Given the growing intensity of the combat in Iraq, the downing of two helicopters and the resulting deaths of 22 soldiers in the last week comes as little surprise. The destruction of a Black Hawk today, reportedly by a rocket-propelled grenade, and a Chinook on Sunday by a shoulder-fired missile were all but statistical inevitabilities in a country with a deepening insurgence and 600,000 or more tons of largely unsecured armaments.

But the attacks should also send a shudder through anyone who flies, even if they never board anything but commercial wide-body airliners and never venture within 5,000 miles of Iraq. By removing the locks from Iraq's enormous stores of armaments, including "vast, unknown" quantities of anti-aircraft weapons, as Air Force Gen. John Handy, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, put it several months ago, the fighting in Iraq has virtually ensured that some of these arms will wind up in the hands of terrorists who will want to use them outside the current war zone. [complete article]

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Mahmud, 10, went looking for songbirds ... and died in hail of bullets
By Justin Huggler, The Independent, November 8, 2003

Mahmud al-Qayed was out doing what he did every Friday - catching songbirds in cages to sell in the markets of Gaza. But yesterday the remote olive groves where the birds nest led him close to the fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel. Too close for the soldiers guarding the fence.

They shot Mahmud, 10, four times, killing him as he tried to run.

The boy's father, Mohammed, was with him, and, at the funeral, he told how he took the bloodstained sweater from his son's dead body, and buried his face in it.

Mahmud was one of a group of about 20 - the rest were adults - who ventured out to the fence to catch the songbirds, which can fetch good money in the markets. There are plenty of witnesses who saw the group on their way to the fence, and confirm that they were there to catch birds. [complete article]

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9-11 panel votes to subpoena Pentagon
Associated Press (via NYT), November 7, 2003

A federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks voted Friday to subpoena the Pentagon for documents related to the activities of U.S. air defenses on the day of the terrorist hijackings.

The independent commission said it was "especially dismayed'' by incomplete document production on the part of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, the part of the Defense Department responsible for protecting North American airspace.

The commission's broad investigation includes questions about how, and how quickly, the Federal Aviation Administration notified U.S. air defenses about hijacked planes on Sept. 11, 2001. The commission's first subpoena, issued last month, was to the FAA. [complete article]

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If Bush is serious about Arab democracy...
By Tony Karon, Time, November 7, 2003

Democracy requires that the results of a properly certified vote be accepted, no matter how unpalatable the outcome. So, if President Bush's promise to make democracy the guiding principle in U.S. dealings with the Middle East signals an intention to press regimes to subject themselves to the popular will, and also a readiness in Washington to respect the resulting political choices of Arab citizens, that would indeed mark a revolutionary break with the past. But the skepticism with which the President's comments were greeted among the freedom-starved peoples of the Arab world is not without foundation. [complete article]

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Aide says Saddam tried last-minute deal
By Sobodan Lekic, Associated Press, November 7, 2003

Saddam Hussein personally initiated an attempt to reach a last-minute deal with Washington to avoid the U.S.-led invasion that ousted his regime, a former Iraqi government official said Friday.

The official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said Iraqi officials had Saddam's "full consent" when they approached the United States with the deal, offering oil contracts for U.S. companies and open access for U.N. weapons inspectors.

The aide was not part of the national leadership, but his job provided him daily contact with the dictator and insight into the regime's decision-making process during the past decade and its critical final days. [complete article]

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Idealism in the face of a troubled reality
By Robin Wright, Washington Post, November 7, 2003

In a speech that redefined the U.S. agenda in the Middle East, President Bush waxed eloquent yesterday about his dream of democracy coexisting with Islam and transforming an important geostrategic region that has defiantly held out against the global tide of political change.

But Bush failed to acknowledge the tough realities that are likely to limit significant political progress in the near future: the United States' all-consuming commitment to fighting a global war on terrorism and confronting Islamic militancy. Washington still relies heavily on alliances with autocratic governments to achieve these top priorities. [complete article]

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Arab world sceptical of democracy claim
By Roula Khalaf, Financial Times, November 7, 2003

The assertion by President George W. Bush that the Iraq war has offered the opportunity to spread democracy in the Arab world is likely to meet with scepticism in a region that sees the US as a bully rather than a liberator.

Mr Bush's speech appeared primarily designed to provide a broader justification for the Iraq war and to underline the necessity for a long-term US commitment there. The new Iraq, Mr Bush insisted, would be "a watershed" event in the "global democratic revolution".

Reformers in the Arab world would agree with Mr Bush's statement that 60 years of excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make the US safe because "stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty". Some liberal reformists in the region privately welcome US press-ure on their governments.

But the dominant view is the US is interested in pro-American leaderships, regardless of their commitment to democracy. [complete article]

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A valuable resource? -- As the U.S. government exercises its "muscular" approach to foreign affairs, The War in Context strives to make sense of the news. Drawing from dozens of quality international sources, through a mix of reporting, analysis and commentary, The War in Context puts the news in perspective. The lead actors capture the headlines, but The War in Context looks at their impact on the world. If this site provides you with a valuable service that you haven't found anywhere else, please offer a token of your appreciation and help keep the site running by making a donation. It's easy if you have a credit card. To donate, just hit the PayPal "donate" button below!
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Iran says it will abandon development of longer-range missile
By Karl Vick, Washington Post, November 7, 2003

Iran will abandon development of a missile that could have carried a conventional warhead as far as Europe or threatened Israel with a heavier nuclear or biological payload, the Iranian government announced.

The declaration that it would not manufacture the Shahab-4 missile came less than three weeks after Iran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment activities and open its mostly secret nuclear program to short-notice inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). [complete article]

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U.S. to rely more heavily on reserve troops in Iraq
By Charles Aldinger and Will Dunham, Reuters, November 6, 2003

Pinched by global deployments and conflict, the Pentagon said on Thursday it will sharply increase the use of part-time reserve troops in Iraq next year and lengthen U.S. military tours of duty in Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said 43,000 reserve and National Guard troops and nearly 70,000 regular Marine and Army soldiers were being notified for duty in an Iraq rotation plan that will reduce U.S. forces there from 132,000 now to 105,000 by mid-2004.

But defense officials also said at a news conference the number of part-time reservists and National Guard troops on the ground in Iraq would sharply increase from a current 28,000 to 39,000 next year.

Members of the U.S. Congress and families of reservists have expressed concern about disruptions caused by yearlong deployments of troops sometimes referred to as "weekend warriors," who, unlike regular force members, have civilian jobs at home while serving in the military part time. [complete article]

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Turkey decides not to send troops to Iraq
By Zerin Elci, Reuters, November 7, 2003

Reversing an earlier decision, Turkey said on Friday it would not deploy troops to help the United States secure postwar Iraq after encountering strong opposition from the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council.

Political analysts said the move would expose the problems U.S. forces are having in restoring order in Iraq but said it should not harm ties between NATO allies Washington and Ankara. Turkish financial markets shrugged off the announcement.

Turkey took its decision after Secretary of State Colin Powell rang Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul on Thursday evening to discuss Iraq, the foreign ministry said in a statement. [complete article]

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The one-state solution
By Virginia Tilley, London Review of Books, November 6, 2003

For some years, most people sympathetic to Palestinian national aspirations - or simply alert to their durability and the political dangers they pose - have assumed that a stable resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would require the formation of a Palestinian state in the (dwindling) areas not yet annexed by Israel, in what is left of British Mandate territory. This old staple of the Palestinian national movement was even belatedly approved by Bill Clinton and then George W. Bush. The Palestinian Authority itself was set up by the Oslo process as a pre-statal entity, intended to establish by stages an independent Palestinian cabinet and parliament, as a prelude to sovereignty over (a disarmed, landlocked, dependent) Palestine. Most recently, a courageous coalition of Israeli and Palestinian professionals has tried to imbue the two-state solution with new energy by formulating a detailed agreement - the so-called Geneva Accords. All these efforts have referred, vaguely or specifically, to the withdrawal of Jewish settlements, without which a Palestinian state would make no territorial sense.

Yet at some point in the past decade, this foundational precept became an obfuscating fiction. As many people privately acknowledge, and as Tony Judt has now proposed in the New York Review of Books, the conditions for an independent Palestinian state have been killed off by the inexorable and irreversible advance of the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an idea, and a possibility, whose time has passed, its death obscured (as was perhaps intended) by daily spectacle: the hoopla of a useless 'road map', the cycles of Israeli gunship assassinations and Palestinian suicide bombings, the dismal internal Palestinian power struggles, the house demolitions and death counts - all the visible expressions of a conflict which has always been over control of land. [complete article]

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Iraqi security crews getting less training
By Bradley Graham and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post, November 7, 2003

The U.S. strategy for stabilizing Iraq and withdrawing American troops hinges on the successful development of a reconstituted police force and several other newly established security organizations. In recent days, amid a rise in guerrilla attacks, Bush administration officials have touted a surge in the overall size of these Iraqi forces, from 58,000 in mid-September to 118,000 reported by Rumsfeld yesterday.

But the speed at which the Iraqi forces are being created, and the dearth of training, are drawing warnings from lawmakers and others -- as well as expressions of disbelief about the extent of growth so far.

"When the United States announces a schedule for training and deploying Iraqi security officers, then announces the acceleration of that schedule, then accelerates it again, it sends a signal of desperation, not certitude," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Wednesday at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. "When in the course of days we increase by thousands our estimate of the numbers of Iraqis trained, it sounds like somebody is cooking the books." [complete article]

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Iraqi resistance takes many shapes, forms
By Mariam Fam, Associated Press, November 7, 2003

Dhabla Ahmed saw her 22-year-old son leave home before the sunlight filled the sky and head for dawn prayers in the mosque as he did most days. This time, Ahmed Hassan Ibrahim never returned home. Only his bullet-riddled body did.

At about 6 a.m on Oct. 23, a Thursday, four insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades at a U.S. compound, the American military said. Troops opened fire killing two of their assailants and critically injuring a third. The fourth fled.

The U.S. military didn't give the names of the Iraqis killed in the attack, however it confirmed the incident.

Ibrahim's life and death, as portrayed by relatives, provide an insight into the motivation of some so-called resistance fighters. But Ibrahim didn't take up arms out of economic need or for ousted leader Saddam Hussein. His motive seemed to be religious. [complete article]

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Mission whiplash for G.I.s in Iraq
By Kevin Sites, NBC News, November 7, 2003

Soldiers are ordered to go on a night patrols or raids -- where danger can lurk at every corner or behind every door-and life-and-death decisions have to be made within the hair-fraction of time it takes to pull the trigger on M4 assault weapon.

Then the next day they're told to monitor the selection of a new local mayor or to rebuild a school. [complete article]

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Trade thrives but security a concern on Iraq border
By Seb Walker, Reuters, November 7, 2003

Officials at the Rabiah frontier crossing [between Iraq and Syria] say the problem is more complex than lax border controls.

"How do you recognize a terrorist if he has proper documentation?" asked Mohammed Araak, the head of security for the Iraqi customs office at Rabiah.

"The difficulty is that many cross perfectly legally." [complete article]

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Army drops cowardice charge against soldier, imposes lesser count
By Robert Weller, Associated Press (via USA Today), November 7, 2003

The Army dismissed a cowardice charge and filed a lesser count against an Army interrogator who sought counseling after he saw the body of an Iraqi man cut in half by American fire.

Staff Sgt. Georg-Andreas Pogany was charged with dereliction of duty, according to a statement released Thursday afternoon by Fort Carson officials. A military court hearing set Friday for Pogany was canceled. [complete article]

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The growing collection of '20th hijackers'
By Jonathan Turley, Los Angeles Times, November 7, 2003

Will the real 20th hijacker please stand up?

Wednesday, Federal Bureau of Investigation sources disclosed that their agency had uncovered the identity of the "20th hijacker" … again.

The theory is that one of the planes -- Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania -- was one person short, with only four terrorists as opposed to the five-member teams controlling the other three planes. Though it didn't release the name of the current suspect, the FBI confirmed that it was looking for a man who it believed was forced to leave the country shortly before the 9/11 attacks.

This means he is not one of the two previously identified 20th hijackers, who are in custody.

The new 20th hijacker is expected to be captured in due time and will presumably join the growing collection of 20th hijackers acquired by Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft. [complete article]

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Contracts go to allies of Iraq's Chalabi
By Paul Richter and Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times, November 7, 2003

Businessmen with close ties to a leading -- and controversial -- member of Iraq's Governing Council have won large contracts for the country's reconstruction, leading to charges by some council members and other Iraqis that the actions are fueling a cronyism that threatens to sabotage the nation-building effort.

The men are associates of Ahmad Chalabi, an American-trained financier who has close ties to senior Pentagon officials and is a prominent member of the council, the U.S.-appointed interim government in Iraq.

Although it is perfectly legal for entrepreneurs with ties to top government officials to land reconstruction contracts, the perception of favoritism is setting back the rebuilding effort in Iraq by discouraging some foreign companies from seeking contracts, Iraqi and U.S. businessmen and officials said in interviews in Washington and Iraq.

It is further damaging the image of a reconstruction effort already hurt by the granting of huge no-bid awards to the politically connected U.S. firms Halliburton Co. and the Bechtel Group, Iraqis said. [complete article]

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Bring Halliburton home
By Naomi Klein, The Nation, November 6, 2003

The Hague Regulations state that an occupying power must respect "unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country." The Coalition Provisional Authority has shredded that simple rule with gleeful defiance. Iraq's Constitution outlaws the privatization of key state assets, and it bars foreigners from owning Iraqi firms. No plausible argument can be made that the CPA was "absolutely prevented" from respecting those laws, and yet two months ago, the CPA overturned them unilaterally.

On September 19, Bremer enacted the now-infamous Order 39. It announced that 200 Iraqi state companies would be privatized; decreed that foreign firms can retain 100 percent ownership of Iraqi banks, mines and factories; and allowed these firms to move 100 percent of their profits out of Iraq. The Economist declared the new rules a "capitalist dream." [complete article]

See also Pillage is forbidden.

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Democratizing Iraq will help get troops home
By Trudy Rubin, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 7, 2003

If it wants to stop running Iraq, the United States needs to hand over power to a legitimate Iraqi government.

But guess what? The Iraqi political process is at a standstill. And it shows little sign of moving forward anytime soon.

U.S. occupation czar Paul Bremer hoped Iraqis could write a constitution by mid-to-late 2004 and hold national elections soon after. The interim Iraqi Governing Council displays little interest in cooperating with that schedule.

The council's paralysis is not only bad for George Bush's election campaign but also a disaster for Iraqis. They need to see a timeline for the end of occupation. This would undercut the widespread belief that Americans are encouraging chaos as an excuse to stay and control Iraqi oil.

Instead, council members have been globetrotting and avoiding difficult political decisions. In three weeks in October, only five to seven of 25 members showed up at weekly meetings.

As the GC's reputation plummets, the frustration of those who care about Iraq's future is evident. [complete article]

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Six die in U.S. helicopter crash
BBC News, November 7, 2003

An American Black Hawk helicopter has been forced down near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, killing all six soldiers on board.

The US military is investigating whether the chopper was attacked or suffered mechanical problems. [complete article]

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'If I see an American, I will kill him'
By Michael Georgy, Reuters (via Independent Online), November 6, 2003

In the epicentre of anti-American fury in Iraq, United States troops with machineguns comb alleyways for Saddam Hussein loyalists, hoping to prevent deadly new attacks on their units.

But people in Fallujah, 50km west of Baghdad, say the men firing rocket-propelled grenades at occupation forces are just ordinary taxi drivers, labourers and professionals avenging the deaths of relatives.

With all its high-tech weapons, the US military has overlooked what rules the gritty streets of this town where it has faced many of the most deadly attacks against its troops, the tribal code of revenge.

"Saddam's people have nothing to do with Americans being killed in Fallujah. If you want to know why we hate the Americans so much in Fallujah, look at this," said Muthanna Salih, pulling up the flowing robe covering his stump as he balanced on crutches.

"I was in my house when the Americans started shooting. They hit my leg, they killed my brother and they left me jobless with eight children." [complete article]

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Maher Arar's ordeal

A Canadian citizen who was detained last year at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York as a suspected terrorist said Tuesday he was secretly deported to Syria and endured 10 months of torture in a Syrian prison.

Maher Arar, 33, who was released last month, said at a news conference in Ottawa that he pleaded with U.S. authorities to let him continue on to Canada, where he has lived for 15 years and has a family. But instead, he was flown under U.S. guard to Jordan and handed over to Syria, where he was born. Arar denied any connection to terrorism and said he would fight to clear his name. (Washington Post, November 5, 2003)

Arar, read this statement in Ottawa on November 4, 2003, less than one month after being released from prison in Syria.

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The story of this war
By Michael Vlahos, Tech Central Station, November 6, 2003

The future may not exist, yet its prospect alone -- especially in a war -- can have authority over our lives. We give it authority by collectively accepting a particular story of the future as the preferred reality to be. The American people, by supporting the Administration and the war, accepted just such a story of the future in 2002.

The future of Iraq and of Islam itself was spun in the spring of 2002. A small but highly placed and dedicated circle, whose names are now well-known -- including key administration figures like Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, and Douglas Feith, and influential Washington commentators like Charles Krauthammer and William Kristol -- concluded that "terrorism" was linked to a bigger struggle within Islam. What they called "radical Islam" was the real enemy. But radical Islam could only be defeated if the US fundamentally changed the Muslim World.

They defined winning as bringing the two essential Muslim societies into the American Way through democratic conversion. These societies are central in their respective worlds, and each -- as the main sources of radical Islam -- is also a threat to the US. They are Iran and Saudi Arabia (seat of Wahhabism). But a strategy against the sources of radical Islam was thought too sensitive to layout openly as the official story. Thus a very different narrative was needed. If Iran and Saudi Arabia were to be converted, then the path to their conversion lay through Baghdad. [...]

The storytellers of 2002 believed not only that the US could bring world-historical change to the Muslim World, but also that it could control such change. Therefore it made sense to openly assert that this would be a controlled process, because that assertion would broadcast Administration confidence and thus by extension increase public confidence in the Administration.

But by invading the heart of classical Islam, the United States asserted a grand strategy of change. From an historical vantage this was a breathtaking gambit -- because creating such space for change insures eventual loss of control. The trick is somehow to lose control only after major goals have been achieved, or to lose control with change galloping off in the desired direction. But their future for the Muslim World depended at every turn on an almost prodigy-like control -- which they lost almost immediately. [complete article]

* I generally leave it up to the individual reader to decide what she or he regards as essential reading, but once in a while an article comes along that demands to be read, studied and reflected upon. Michael Vlahos' "The story of this war" is just such an article. Vlahos is currently a senior member of the Joint Warfare Analysis Department at Johns Hopkins University. This article is the second of a two-part series, the first being The six dilemmas of the moderate Islamist.

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The risks of rapid 'Iraqification'
By Peter Grier and Faye Bowers, Christian Science Monitor, November 6, 2003

The way to solve the security problem in Iraq, says the White House, is to transfer responsibility for keeping the peace to Iraqis themselves as soon as possible.

It's a strategy with obvious advantages. Iraqis might be better than Americans at tracking down Iraqi insurgents. At the very least, US casualties might go down.

But there are risks to Iraqification as well - particularly if the process is rushed. [complete article]

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Defensive walls of self-righteousness
By Meron Benvenisti, Haaretz, November 6, 2003

The perception that through Jewish suffering and sacrifices, Israel acquired the right to define for herself and others the values regarding what is acceptable considering the threat to her existence, blurs the constant slide down the slope of evil. This self-defense mechanism increases the ability to relate to events separately from one another, without discerning the connection and the context that makes them into a whole picture.

There is seemingly no connection between the separation fence and the Shin Bet security services' supervision of the granting of press credentials, or the tempestuous reactions against the "Geneva Understandings" and the feeble reaction to the uprooting of olive
trees belonging to Palestinians.

But all these events and many others (whose frequency has made them commonplace) combine to become one picture: Israel has acquired the status of a pariah state, whose definition as an apartheid state is not determined as such only because all concerned - and for contradictory reasons - insist on referring to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as "the occupied territories."

They thereby make it possible to adhere to the fallacy that the root of the evil is not in the ethno-national control of the Jewish collective, but rather temporary "military occupation," which is due to end in "withdrawal."
[complete article]

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Possible deal aborted?
Claim: U.S. government spurned peace talks before the war with Iraq

By Brian Ross and Chris Vlasto, ABC News, November 5, 2003

A possible negotiated peace deal was laid out in a heavily guarded compound in Baghdad in the days before the war, ABC News has been told, but a top former Pentagon adviser [Richard Perle] says he was ordered not to pursue the deal, ABC News has learned.

A prominent Lebanese-American businessman said he secretly met with Iraqi intelligence officials just days after Secretary of State Colin Powell laid out the U.S. case for war at the United Nations in February.

Imad Hage, the president of the American Underwriters Group insurance company and known in the region as having contacts at the Pentagon, told ABC News he was first approached by an Iraqi intelligence official who arrived unannounced at his office in Beirut.

A week later, according to Hage, he and an associate were asked to come to Baghdad, when Hage says he met with Saddam Hussein's chief of intelligence, Gen. Tahir Habbush, later labeled the Jack of Diamonds in the deck of cards depicting the most-wanted members of Saddam Hussein's regime. Habbush is still at large.

"He was conveying a message," said Hage. "He was conveying an offer." Hage said Habbush laid out terms of a negotiated peace during a four-hour session beginning at midnight at a compound in Baghdad. [...]

Hage, an emerging political leader in Lebanon who is considered pro-United States, said the United States missed a chance to avert war. "It seemed to me there was a genuine offer that was on the table and somebody should have talked, at least talked," Hage said.

In March, the American invasion began and Rumsfeld said the United States had done everything possible to avoid war. "The American people can take comfort in knowing that their country has done everything humanly possible to avoid war and to secure Iraq's peaceful disarmament." [complete article]

The New York Times also reports this story, Baghdad scrambled to offer deal to U.S. as war loomed.

Comments on the timing of this story from Joshua Micah Marshall

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Creating enemies:
U.S. detains relatives of suspects in Iraq attacks
Military denies claims that it takes hostages

By Anthony Shadid, Washington Post, November 6, 2003

Her eyes still heavy with sleep, 60-year-old Aufa Towqan awoke at 3 a.m. on a cool Saturday. Her husband was away, working as a night watchman. Her daughter-in-law and mother-in-law were still in bed. The house cloaked in darkness, she bowed her head in prayer, as was her custom on a restless night. And moments after she whispered the first ritual words of faith, she said, U.S. soldiers charged through her battered front door.

"They were pointing their guns and yelling at us in English," she said, "and I didn't understand them."

The soldiers were seeking her fugitive son, Thamer, 31, whom she said she has not seen in four months. They detained her, another son and the other women instead -- one of them, by villagers' accounts, well over 100 years old. She said brown burlap bags were placed over their heads. Terrified and crying, they were driven in Humvees to the nearby U.S. base at Habbaniya. [complete article]

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Pentagon ordering 100,000 replacement troops to Iraq
CNN, November 6, 2003

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has approved a troop rotation plan that would send more than 100,000 fresh troops to Iraq early next year, Pentagon sources said. A formal announcement is expected Thursday. [complete article]

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Republican and Democratic panel leaders take feud to the Senate floor
By Douglas Jehl, New York Times, November 6, 2003

Five months after the Senate Intelligence Committee began its review of prewar intelligence on Iraq, a contentious dispute broke out on the Senate floor on Wednesday as the panel's top Republican and Democrat traded accusations of bad faith.

The simmering debate about how far the inquiry should go burst into light with the circulation by Republicans late Tuesday of a draft memorandum written by a member of the committee's Democratic staff. [complete article]

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Where chickenhawks fear to tread...

Soldier accused as coward says he is guilty only of panic attack
By Jeffrey Gettleman, New York Times, November 6, 2003

Not since the Vietnam War has the Army punished a soldier for being too scared to do his duty.

But on Friday, Sgt. Georg Andreas Pogany will appear in front of military court here to face charges he was a coward. [...]

On his second night in Iraq, one month ago, Sergeant Pogany, 32, saw an Iraqi cut in half by a machine gun. The sight disturbed him so much, he said, he threw up and shook for hours. His head pounded and his chest hurt.

"I couldn't function," Sergeant Pogany said in an interview on Tuesday in his lawyer's office in Colorado Springs, not far from Fort Carson. "I had this overwhelming sense of my own mortality. I kept looking at that body thinking that could be me two seconds from now."

When he informed his superior that he was having a panic attack and needed to see someone, Sergeant Pogany said he was given two sleeping pills and told to go away. A few days later, Sergeant Pogany was put on a plane and sent home.

Now he faces a possible court-martial. If convicted, the punishment could range from a dock in pay to death. [complete article]

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All roads lead to Feith
By Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service (via, November 6, 2003

"What's gonna happen with Feith?"

That, in a nutshell, is the question of the month for the Washington cognoscenti trying to figure out whether a major shift in the Bush administration's unilateralist and ultra-hawkish foreign policy is or is not underway.

The reference is to Douglas Feith, the administration's rather obscure but nonetheless strategically placed undersecretary of defense for policy, who reports directly to deputy secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld.

If the administration is looking for a scapegoat for the situation it faces in Iraq, Feith is the most likely candidate both because of his relative obscurity compared to other administration hawks and the fact that, of virtually all of them, his ideas – particularly on the Middle East – might be the most radical. [complete article]

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Will U.S. bring back the draft?
By Tim Harper, Toronto Star, November 5, 2003

A call from the U.S. Defence Department for volunteers to sit on local draft boards has sparked debate here about whether a nationwide military draft could ultimately be needed to complete Washington's Iraq mission.

A number of analysts said yesterday that while any public suggestion of a draft would be politically suicidal for U.S. President George W. Bush in an election year, he could find himself with few other options if he is returned for a second term and the fighting in Iraq is still raging.

Bush, touring fire-ravaged regions of California yesterday, again vowed troops will never cut and run in Iraq, even as attacks on Americans escalate.

The draft was abolished here three decades ago as the Vietnam War wound down, and the defence department notice about draft boards is on an obscure link on its Web site. [complete article]

See the notice, Serve your community and the nation.

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Michael Ledeen continues his campaign to go after Iran -- as the neocons like to say, everyone wants to go to Baghdad but real men want to go to Teheran -- and were it not for one disturbing detail, it would be easy to discount Ledeen as a wacko, neocon conspiracy theorist. Unfortunately, this particular fantasist has the ear of the president. The "news" that informs presidential decision-making comes from Ledeen and his cronies.

Regional struggle
By Michael Ledeen, National Review, November 5, 2003

It makes no sense, nowadays, to try to distinguish one group [of terrorists] from another, because they are all working together. Osama and Hezbollah's operational chieftain, Imad Mughniyah, have met several times, and Mughniyah is now working closely with Osama's deputy, al-Zawahiri. The two met very recently in Iran to coordinate activities in Iraq. They have the full panoply of terrorists at their disposal, from Baathist survivors to the foot soldiers of Ansar al-Islam, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, and all the rest.

Instead of talking about separate organizations, we would do better to think of the terrorists as a galaxy, with the various comets, stars, and planets revolving around the tyrannical terror masters, themselves linked by a sort of common gravitational field.

Thus the problem that baffles our experts -- Who's the enemy here? -- is answered by President Bush's original insight into the nature of the war against terrorism. We are at war with a series of regimes and thousands of terrorists, and they are all after us in Iraq. [complete article]

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A valuable resource? -- As the U.S. government exercises its "muscular" approach to foreign affairs, The War in Context strives to make sense of the news. Drawing from dozens of quality international sources, through a mix of reporting, analysis and commentary, The War in Context puts the news in perspective. The lead actors capture the headlines, but The War in Context looks at their impact on the world. If this site provides you with a valuable service that you haven't found anywhere else, please offer a token of your appreciation and help keep the site running by making a donation. It's easy if you have a credit card. To donate, just hit the PayPal "donate" button below!
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Phantom foes in Iraq hard for U.S. to fathom
By Mark Matthews, Baltimore Sun, November 5, 2003

America's new enemies in Iraq have been variously described as Baath Party loyalists, "foreign fighters," "terrorists," "criminals" and combinations of all of those.

But in an intelligence void that even U.S. officials acknowledge, little is known about the insurgents' numbers and whether or how they work together. More important, experts are unsure whether the attacks mark the beginning of a national resistance movement, with popular support, that could present a far deadlier challenge to American forces.

"If this is becoming an insurgency of a national character - if that's the case - then 'a long, hard slog' may fall short of defining the challenge that is ahead of us," said Milt Bearden, a former CIA case officer who helped monitor Afghan resistance to the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. "Long, hard slog" was the expression Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld used in a recent memo to describe what lies ahead in Iraq and Afghanistan. [complete article]

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Moqdata Sadr says "no political coordination" between him, Iran
Agence France Presse, November 5, 2003

Iraqi Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr said there is no political coordination between him and Iran, while also indirectly criticizing anti-US attacks.

"There is no political coordination with Iran's leaders whatsoever," Sadr told the Lebanese daily As-Safir.

"Rumours on the existence of such relation only aim to equate us with Lebanon's Hezbollah (Shiite fundamentalist group), and then point a finger at us so that local and foreign forces turn against us," he added Wednesday. [complete article]

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Deported terror suspect details torture in Syria
By DeNeen L. Brown and Dana Priest, Washington Post, November 5, 2003

A Canadian citizen who was detained last year at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York as a suspected terrorist said Tuesday he was secretly deported to Syria and endured 10 months of torture in a Syrian prison.

Maher Arar, 33, who was released last month, said at a news conference in Ottawa that he pleaded with U.S. authorities to let him continue on to Canada, where he has lived for 15 years and has a family. But instead, he was flown under U.S. guard to Jordan and handed over to Syria, where he was born. Arar denied any connection to terrorism and said he would fight to clear his name. [complete article]

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Leveled trees sprout animosity
By Mohamad Bazzi, Newsday, November 5, 2003

The bulldozers worked for 10 days, methodically clearing the date palms and citrus groves as 200 U.S. soldiers sealed off the area. Townspeople looked on helplessly, while jazz music blared from speakers mounted atop the soldiers' trucks.

U.S. commanders told the farmers that insurgents were hiding in the thick orchards and ambushing soldiers as they drove along the main road leading into town - so the trees had to be cut down in late September. To Americans, clearing the five-acre field was necessary to protect troops' lives. To Iraqis, it was a form of collective punishment, especially after they failed to provide information about the guerrillas attacking U.S. forces. [complete article]

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Unofficial peace push in Mideast
By Cameron W. Barr, Christian Science Monitor, November 5, 2003

Some Israeli and Palestinian public figures, increasingly convinced that their governments are unable or unwilling to make peace, are trying to do it from the bottom up.

The attention drawn by two new initiatives - one is a drive to collect signatories to a set of principles for a peace deal; another is a proposed final agreement ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - suggests that many Israelis and Palestinians see no end in sight to their conflict and no prospect of outside intervention in the near term. [complete article]

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Paths to stability in Iraq
By Trudy Rubin, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 5, 2003

Iraqis are angry at the U.S. failure to provide stability and restore jobs, but that anger hasn't exploded into broad-based resistance. Neither Kurds nor Shiites - who together make up the vast majority of the population - want Saddam supporters to return to power. So neither group supports the fierce resistance to U.S. troops in the so-called Sunni Triangle north and west of Baghdad, home to Saddam's most loyal supporters.

But Sunni resistance is growing. It has the potential to undercut the political and economic progress that must happen soon if most Iraqis are to maintain patience with the U.S. presence over the coming months.

Yet misguided U.S. policies are making that resistance worse.

In the Sunni triangle, American military tactics are increasing the resistance. Sunni tribal leaders complain about excessive force that has killed numerous civilians, and inspires local youths to undertake vendettas against U.S. soldiers.

"You have to ask," said one U.S. military official from another Iraqi sector, "whether different military tactics would produce different results." [complete article]

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U.S. shifts on creation of security unit in Iraq
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post, November 5, 2003

The U.S. administrator of Iraq has decided to conditionally support the creation of an Iraqi-led paramilitary force composed of former employees of the country's security services and members of political party militias, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials.

Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council wants the force, which would pursue resistance fighters who have eluded American troops, to include a domestic intelligence-gathering unit and to have broad powers to conduct raids and interrogate suspects. Such characteristics would make the proposed force different from those created under other security initiatives undertaken by the Americans, who until now had expressed opposition to the idea. [complete article]

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Oiling up the draft machine?
By Dave Lindorff, Salon (via Fairuse), November 3, 2003

The community draft boards that became notorious for sending reluctant young men off to Vietnam have languished since the early 1970s, their membership ebbing and their purpose all but lost when the draft was ended. But a few weeks ago, on an obscure federal Web site devoted to the war on terrorism, the Bush administration quietly began a public campaign to bring the draft boards back to life. [complete article]

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Death by optimism
By Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, November 5, 2003

On a visit to Saddam's Iraq a year ago, I wrote a column that outraged his government. It described officials burning a Muslim leader's beard and then driving nails through his head.

The next day I was summoned to a government ministry and menacingly denounced by two of Saddam's henchmen. But neither man could speak English, and they hadn't actually read the offending column. (Imagine officials who don't read papers but rely on underlings for briefings!)

At that point, my government minder took my column and translated it for them. I saw my life flash before my eyes. But my minder's job was to spy on me, and he worried that my tough column would reflect badly on his spying. Plus, he was charging me $100 a day, and he would lose a fortune if I was expelled, or worse.

So he translated my column very selectively. There was no mention of burning beards or nails in heads. He left out whole paragraphs. When he finished, the two senior officials shrugged and let me off scot-free.

That episode underscored to me how difficult it was for Saddam's government to get accurate information. Ultimately, Saddam's rule collapsed in part because he couldn't read Iraq and made decisions based on hubris and bad information.

These days, President Bush and his aides are having the same problem. [complete article]

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Issue for Bush: How to speak of casualties?
By Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times, November 5, 2003

When the Chinook helicopter was shot down on Sunday in Iraq, killing 15 Americans, President Bush let his defense secretary do the talking and stayed out of sight at his ranch. The president has not attended the funeral of any American soldiers killed in action, White House officials say. And with violence in Baghdad dominating the headlines this week, he has used his public appearances to focus on the health of the economy and the wildfires in California.

But after some of the deadliest attacks yet on American forces, the White House is struggling with the political consequences for a president who has said little publicly about the mounting casualties of the occupation. [complete article]

Comment -- Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, says that the president "never wants to elevate or diminish one sacrifice made over another" (and thus he doesn't comment on individual incidents), yet Bush has met privately with relatives at military bases. One assumes that such meetings have been highly selective -- otherwise Bush would have a full-time job meeting the families of the dead and injured. So much for the "equity"argument.

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Survey shows skepticism about Iraq
By Dana Milbank and Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post, November 5, 2003

Only one in seven Americans agrees with President Bush's assertion that the conflict in Iraq is the most important fight in the war on terrorism, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Since Sept. 7, when Bush addressed the nation to build support for the war in Iraq, he and his aides have described Iraq as "the central front" in the war on terrorism. "We will fight this war against terror until it is won," Bush said recently in one typical speech. "We are fighting on many fronts. Iraq is now the central front."

But the poll found that, although 61 percent of the respondents believe Iraq is part of the war on terrorism, just 14 percent think it is the "most important" part. [complete article]

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Seize the moment
By Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, November 5, 2003

Rather than wait for the two leaderships, a team of freelance negotiators - Israeli opposition politicians and Palestinian ex-ministers still close to Yasser Arafat - has spent the last two years thrashing out a full and final peace agreement between their two peoples. Last month they made the breakthrough. With the backing of the Swiss government they now have a text, running to some 10,000 words: the Geneva accord.

Already this "virtual agreement" is building momentum. The Israeli op-ed pages are full of it; soon the document will be sent to every Israeli household, so that citizens can read it for themselves (an idea inspired by the mass distribution of Northern Ireland's Good Friday agreement). Public meetings to explain the accord have been standing-room only. Among the Palestinians, the indications are similarly positive: when al-Ayyam printed the Geneva text in Arabic for the first time at the weekend, the paper sold out; a reprint is on the way. Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk have shown interest in attending the signing ceremony in Geneva later this year. [complete article]

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C.I.A. needs to learn Arabic, House committee leader says
By Douglas Jehl, New York Times, November 5, 2003

The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that prewar American intelligence about Iraq had been hampered by significant shortcomings, including what he called the C.I.A.'s unsatisfactory response to Congressional directives to improve its foreign language capacity.

The chairman, Representative Porter Goss of Florida, has been a prominent champion of the intelligence agencies, so his criticisms were particularly notable.

They went beyond those that he and his Democratic counterpart, Representative Jane Harman of California, made in late September in a private letter to George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, and they opened a new chapter in the debate over who or what was responsible for intelligence failures regarding Iraq. [complete article]

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"The Company" goes corporate
The CIA's new business model is the world of commerce

By Ted Gup, Slate, November 4, 2003

This fall I sat in a Harvard classroom as recruiters made their pitch to students about the wonderful life that awaited them at the CIA. They spoke of the importance of servicing accounts, of filling the needs of customers, and of meeting the insatiable demand for their product.

The agency has long borrowed from the lexicon of business -- "accounts," "assets," "customers," "product" -- to avoid the particulars of espionage, but today the words are used quite literally, evidence of a worrisome change at Langley. Increasingly, "The Company" has become the company. When it speaks of the business of intelligence, that's exactly what it means.

I recently asked a senior CIA official how the agency was coping with so much criticism. How, I asked, was morale at Langley? The answer was stunning: Couldn't be better, he said. The CIA was in its glory, confident and robust. At first, I suspected that he was just putting the best face on a bad situation, but the truth is, he believed every word of it. [complete article]

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Goodwill is fragile in new Iraq
By Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor, November 4, 2003

As the cinderblock rubble of what was to be Abu Ghraib's new marketplace is carted off by scavengers, a piece of the goodwill that had slowly been built between Iraqis and Americans stationed here is also disappearing.

Just this month the new market had opened, a symbol of reconstruction progress in this poor agricultural town just west of Baghdad - and on the fringes of the violent Sunni Triangle. But by Sunday, what was intended as a community-improvement project, planned and executed by the US military in cooperation with the local town council, lay in ruins. It was crushed by American tanks and a combination of fear, misunderstandings, and outside insurgent interference.

The two days of riots and destruction of Abu Ghraib's market - which left at least seven Iraqis dead - symbolize the fragile state of relations between Iraqis and the American authorities, and the susceptibility of those relations to cultural differences and faltering security. [complete article]

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More U.S. troops possible as Turkey balks
By Matt Kelley, Associated Press, November 4, 2003

In a major setback to U.S. efforts to attract military help in Iraq, a Turkish official said Tuesday his country won't send peacekeeping troops without a significant change in the situation there. That makes it virtually certain the United States will have to send thousands more U.S. reservists early next year.

No additional countries have contributed forces in Iraq since the United Nations Security Council approved a new resolution last month. Bush administration officials had hoped the U.N. action would persuade reluctant allies to send more forces.

Turkey had been the best hope. But Turkey's ambassador to the United States, Osman Faruk Logolu, said his country will not send troops without an explicit invitation from the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council -- some of whose members have vigorously opposed the idea. [complete article]

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U.S. chief nixes recall of Iraqi army
By Charles J. Hanley, Associated Press, November 4, 2003

The chief security adviser in the U.S.-led occupation flatly rejected on Tuesday proposals by Iraqi leaders that the old Iraqi army be recalled to duty to help stem the anti-American guerrilla war.

It would be "a mistake even if it had been feasible," said Walter Slocombe of the Coalition Provisional Authority. He said he foresees undisciplined "mobs of people" responding to such a remobilization, simply to collect pay in job-hungry Iraq. [...]

Last month, however, the head of Iraq's U.S.-appointed interim Governing Council declared that the old army should be reconstituted. By supporting the recall, the United States would "speed the process of relieving the burden on its troops," said Iyad Allawi, the council's president for October.

Other council members endorsed the idea, as did some opposition Democratic lawmakers in Washington. On Sunday, The New York Times quoted unidentified senior U.S. military officers as saying such a recall was under consideration.

Is it? Slocombe was asked. "Not by anybody I know," he replied. [complete article]

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A valuable resource? -- As the U.S. government exercises its "muscular" approach to foreign affairs, The War in Context strives to make sense of the news. Drawing from dozens of quality international sources, through a mix of reporting, analysis and commentary, The War in Context puts the news in perspective. The lead actors capture the headlines, but The War in Context looks at their impact on the world. If this site provides you with a valuable service that you haven't found anywhere else, please offer a token of your appreciation and help keep the site running by making a donation. It's easy if you have a credit card. To donate, just hit the PayPal "donate" button below!
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Neocons: The men behind the curtain
By Khurram Husain, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November/December, 2003

Undeterred by their encounters with reality, the strategists who pushed for war in Iraq believed then, and still believe, that their moment has come.

Reading the calls to war with Iraq, one was reminded of Cato the Elder, who spent his retirement urging the Roman generals to remove the thorn of Carthage permanently from Rome's side so it could never again defy Roman might.

The United States has had its share of Catos -- the American quest for an impregnable defense and military supremacy has a long and distinguished history. Today the effort is embodied by Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld in the Defense Department, key players in the Bush administration. To understand what appears to many as a revolutionary shift in U.S. foreign policy, it is useful to realize that a large part of their thinking derives from concerns with threats from weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. [complete article]

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A high price for a hollow victory
By Senator Robert C. Byrd, United States Senate, November 3, 2003

The Iraq supplemental conference report before the Senate today has been widely described as a victory for President Bush. If hardball politics and lock-step partisanship are the stuff of which victory is made, then I suppose the assessments are accurate. But if reasoned discourse, integrity, and accountability are the measures of true victory, then this package falls far short of the mark. [complete article]

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Senator says situation in Iraq 'is, chapter and verse, Vietnam' again
By Lauren Markoe, The State (South Carolina), November 4, 2003

U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings on Monday called the war in Iraq "a mistake from the very beginning" and said he was misled by the Bush administration before he voted last year to authorize the war.

The South Carolina Democrat told his fellow senators he would be hard-pressed to tell a grieving family why their son or daughter died in Iraq.

Those sentiments were echoed by relatives of several South Carolina soldiers killed in Iraq -- including the mother of an Orangeburg County man killed Sunday.

"Now they say this is not Vietnam," Hollings said on the Senate floor. "The heck it is not. This crowd has got historical amnesia. There is no education in the second kick of a mule. This was a bad mistake.

"Somehow, sometime, they've got to put the force in there and quit doing it on the cheap, or otherwise get out as fast as we can.

"This is, chapter and verse, Vietnam." [complete article]

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Little evidence Syrians heading to Iraq
By Sam F. Ghattas, Associated Press (via Newday), November 4, 2003

What had once been an assembly point in Syria for Arabs eager to fight in Iraq is now abandoned. Posters of Palestinian "martyrs" in Iraq in a Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus are torn and faded.

U.S. officials believe foreign fighters are heading to Iraq to fight coalition forces. But if they are slipping into Iraq from Syria and other countries on Iraq's borders, they are going quietly or, officials say, without support from groups like al-Qaida.

Yarmouk, on the outskirts of Damascus, was the source of an estimated 300 Arab volunteers who went to Iraq to fight during the war, in the spring.

Now, residents say it's been months since they've heard of volunteers going to fight, bodies returning home or memorials held for slain men. [complete article]

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Bomb kills American in Baghdad, Spain recalls staff
By Dean Yates, Reuters, November 4, 2003

A bomb killed a U.S. soldier in Baghdad and Washington's ally Spain said it was recalling some embassy and occupation-authority staff in fresh setbacks on Tuesday to U.S. efforts in Iraq. [complete article]

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Gunmen kill two prominent judges in Iraq
Reuters, November 4, 2003

Gunmen shot dead a prominent Iraqi judge outside his home in the northern city of Mosul on Tuesday, a day after another judge was kidnapped and killed in the south of the country, police said.

A witness said a car with tinted windows suddenly pulled up outside the home of Ismail Youssef, a judge in Mosul's appeals court, at about 7:45 a.m. (12:45 a.m. EST) and men got out and shot him several times in the chest and side, police said.

The 60-year-old judge's family said they did not know why he had been attacked. Some judges with links to ousted president Saddam Hussein's Baath party were fired after the U.S.-led war, but Youssef remained on the judge's bench.

"He was a good and honest man. He wasn't a member of any political party," his brother-in-law Tarik Moussa said. [complete article]

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Israel learns of a hidden shame in its early years
By Chris McGreal, The Guardian, November 4, 2003

For 54 years the fate of a young Bedouin girl who disappeared in the Negev desert was relegated to rumour and a single entry in the diary of David Ben-Gurion, the prime minister of the fledgling Israeli state.

"It was decided and carried out: they washed her, cut her hair, raped her and killed her," he wrote.

After that the case became one of the state's earliest secrets, and no more than hearsay passed between soldiers.

Now the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz has used previously classified army documents to reveal the full story of what Mr Ben-Gurion called a "horrific atrocity". [complete article]

Read the complete account in 'I saw fit to remove her from the world'.

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U.S. will seek $2.22 billion military aid for Israel
Reuters (via Haaretz), November 4, 2003

The United States will ask Congress to give Israel $2.22 billion in military assistance in the fiscal year 2005, $60 million more than in 2004, the U.S. State Department said in a statement on Monday.

The increase is in line with a 1990s agreement which reduces economic assistance to Israel by $120 million a year while adding $60 million a year to the military component of the package, the largest Washington gives to any country. [complete article]

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One story -- three headlines

New York Times: Religious leader in Iran praises nuclear pact
Associated Press: Iran angry over demands on nuke agreement
Reuters: Khamenei says Iran nuke co-operation has limits

(Reuters) -- Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that Tehran would end co-operation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog if further demands undermined Iran's national interests, state television reported on Monday.

It was the first time Khamenei, who has the last word on all state matters in the Islamic Republic, has aired his views on Iran's deal, struck with three European foreign ministers, to suspend uranium enrichment and sign up to snap nuclear checks.

"If we reach the point that Iran's national interests and values are threatened, we will not hesitate to stop our co-operation," he said.

Is Iran rethinking its position on Israel?
By Afshin Molavi & Karim Sadjadpour, New Republic (via Jewish World Review), November 3, 2003

Iranians under the age of 30 -- who comprise more than two-thirds of the population today -- express little interest in terrorist groups, anti-Zionism, and radical politics in general. In places where young people congregate, Iranians constantly question their government's support for terrorist groups. "I see the way people look at me when I travel," complained one young Iranian. "Immediately, they think, 'Watch out for the Iranian, he might be a terrorist.' I blame our government for cultivating this image by supporting radical groups." Meanwhile, on campuses, rumors abound that Palestinian militants and Hezbollah fighters are imported from Gaza and southern Lebanon to help quell recent student unrest -- tales that make the groups even more unpopular. Reformist newspapers and reformist clerics have begun questioning Iran's hard-line stance on Israel. Abdollah Nouri, a former Interior minister and close confidant of Khomeini, has bluntly criticized the Islamic Republic's desire to act "more Palestinian than the Palestinians." [complete article]

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'The battlefield for all Iraq'
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Vernon Loeb, Washington Post, November 4, 2003

There is little agreement between American commanders and local leaders about why Fallujah, where violence had been ebbing over the summer, has become such a flash point. Officers with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, which arrived here two months ago, contend their predecessors were not aggressive enough in rooting out resistance fighters, who had come to regard Fallujah as a haven. The city's tribal sheiks take the opposite view, maintaining that the 82nd Airborne's hard-nosed tactics have alienated residents and fueled more anger at the U.S. occupation.

"Fallujah has now become the battlefield for all Iraq," said Mustafa Naji, 19, a religious student. "Everyone is coming here to fight." [complete article]

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In die-hard city, G.I.'s are enemy
By Dexter Filkins, New York Times, November 4, 2003

In the epicenter of anti-American hatred, even the most generous of gestures is viewed with a suspicious eye.

The day after 16 American servicemen died when their helicopter was shot out of the sky here, a group of American soldiers tossed handfuls of candy from their Humvees to the Iraqi children who lined the road.

"Don't touch it, don't touch it!" the Iraqi children squealed. "It's poison from the Americans. It will kill you."

The Humvees rumbled past, and the candy stayed in the dirt. [complete article]

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Iraqis seek justice, or vengeance, for victims of the killing fields
By Susan Sachs, New York Times, November 4, 2003

While there is no official tally of vigilante actions, accounts from the police and monitoring groups suggest that perhaps several hundred former Baath Party officials have been killed since the fall of President Hussein's government.

Yet there has been no orgy of bloodshed as was feared, given the scale of state-sponsored killings and expulsions that Iraqis say they have suffered in the last 25 years.

The concept of compensatory justice was born here nearly 4,000 years ago. An eye for an eye, decreed the rulers of ancient Mesopotamia, and a tooth for a tooth. But Iraqis have mostly shown a willingness to set aside immediate vengeance for the relentless pursuit of justice. [complete article]

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So few soldiers, so much to do
By Edward N. Luttwak, New York Times, November 4, 2003

Such is the arithmetic of an ultra-modern army. The support echelon is so large that out of the 133,000 American men and women in Iraq, no more than 56,000 are combat-trained troops available for security duties. [...]

And even the finest soldiers must sleep and eat. Thus the number of troops on patrol at any one time is no more than 28,000 -- to oversee frontiers terrorists are trying to cross, to patrol rural terrain including vast oil fields, to control inter-city roads, and to protect American and coalition facilities. Even if so few could do so much, it still leaves the question of how to police the squares, streets and alleys of Baghdad, with its six million inhabitants, not to mention Mosul with 1.7 million, Kirkuk with 800,000, and Sunni towns like Falluja, with its quarter-million restive residents.

In fact, the 28,000 American troops are now so thinly spread that they cannot reliably protect even themselves; the helicopter shot down on Sunday was taking off from an area that had not been secured, because doing so would have required hundreds of soldiers. For comparison, there are 39,000 police officers in New York City alone -- and they at least know the languages of most of the inhabitants, few of whom are likely to be armed Baathist or Islamist fanatics. [complete article]

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Afghans to have Islamic republic
BBC News, November 3, 2003

A draft Afghan constitution has been unveiled, setting out a new political system and defining Islam's role in the country.

It calls for the creation of an Islamic republic, with a presidential system, and where citizens have equal rights.

The draft will be debated by a loya jirga grand assembly next month, paving the way for possible elections in 2004. [complete article]

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Iraq drawing Muslim militants from Europe
Stephen Graham, Associated Press, November 3, 2003

Security officials are concerned that Iraq is becoming a magnet and proving ground for young Muslims from Europe angered by the U.S. occupation of a Muslim land and encouraged by a string of deadly attacks on American soldiers.

In interviews with The Associated Press, some European experts said they have evidence that young militants are being drawn to the struggle -- not hardened al-Qaida fighters, but men with no experience of Afghan training camps and little apparent connection to established terror groups, making them hard to track. [complete article]

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Anti-Saddam judge shot dead
Agence France Presse, November 4, 2003

The judge behind the creation of a judicial commission to probe former officials of Saddam Hussein's ousted regime was shot dead overnight, as insurgents stepped up their campaign against pro-US public figures.

Muhan Jabr al-Shuwaili, the top judge in the central governorate of Najaf, was kidnapped along with Najaf prosecutor general Aref Aziz, from the judge's house in the city overnight, Aziz said.
The two were taken in cars to a desert area 8km north of Najaf, he said.

"One of the assailants said 'Saddam has ordered your prosecution.' Then they fired two shots into his head," Aziz said.

"As for me, they told me 'this does not concern you'. They released me," he added. [complete article]

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This Wednesday, across a nation that George Bush soon hopes to visit, natives will be placing effigies of the president upon hundreds of bonfires where he will be symbolically burnt.

After Bush arrives on his state visit later this month, many of the same natives, along with hundreds of foreigners who are expected to flood across the borders, will gather at the center of this nation's capital, there to celebrate the toppling of a newly erected statue of the American president.

And where do these cheeky, defiant natives reside?

Great Britain, America's "staunchest ally."

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Security tips hinge on winning trust
By Faye Bowers, Christian Science Monitor, November 3, 2003

The increasing number and sophistication of attacks in Iraq - from ambushes to suicide bombings - highlights one certainty: Occupation forces lack the on-the-ground intelligence to stop them.

That, officials and experts say, is a nearly intractable problem. To get tip-offs on enemy plans, intelligence officials need Iraqi citizens' help. That requires gaining their trust. But to earn trust, US forces must provide security - preventing attacks on those who help them and allaying fears that Saddam Hussein may return.

So far, officials and experts say, that stability hasn't been created, and the time for relationship-building is running out. [complete article]

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Wilson says president has been badly advised
Joseph Wilson interviewed by Jeff Gannon, Talon News (GOP USA), November 3, 2003

TN: Nicholas Kristoff wrote in the New York Times recently that the CIA believes that Aldrich Ames may have betrayed your wife to the Russians prior to his arrest in 1994. That would make her not an undercover operative for the CIA in effect.

Wilson: I don't know where Kristoff got that. I think that there is a fair amount of material in the public record to suggest that there is a lot of concern that Mr. Ames betrayed a number of American operatives during his spying.

TN: Including your wife?

Wilson: I don't know about that. I can't tell you anything about that.

TN: But if that is in fact true, then the leak is not necessarily a leak.

Wilson: Let me put it to you this way, I don't believe that the CIA would refer this to the Justice Department frivolously, if they thought it was a frivolous matter or if it was not a leak that might be a violation of the Intelligence Agents Identification Act. [complete article]

This is the third part of a three-part interview. Part one is here, and part two here.

See also AlterNet's non-adversarial interview of Wilson in which they discuss his participation in the documentary, "Uncovered: The Truth About The War in Iraq" (for which AlterNet is a distribution partner).

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Rumsfeld's defenders cited his recently leaked internal memo as exemplifying the defense secretary's courage to ask tough questions and his ability to think in new ways. Observers might think that shifting the war on terrorism beyond killing or capturing terrorists onto the far-reaching goal of preventing the creation of terrorists, signifies a more sophisticated approach to combating terrorism. It is no such thing.

Rumsfeld's analysis of the problem reflects this administration's overarching approach to policymaking. The policy is the message. If the policy isn't working it means that the consumers refused to buy the message. Modifying the policy simply means modifying the message. If this is your Weltanschauung, then it would appear that people become terrorists because they bought the wrong message. Shutdown (or reorganize) the outlets for the wrong message (the madrassas), expand the availability of the right message, and voilà! No more terrorists; no more terrorism.

Creation of terrorists must be stopped, Rumsfeld says
By Walter Pincus, Washington Post, November 3, 2003

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday that the world must start thinking about how to reduce the number of people who are becoming terrorists through teachings in radical Islamic schools and not just focus on killing or capturing them after they commit violent acts.

In three television appearances yesterday, he expanded on his Oct. 16 internal memo in which he posed the question, "Does the U.S. need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists?" [complete article]

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A valuable resource? -- As the U.S. government exercises its "muscular" approach to foreign affairs, The War in Context strives to make sense of the news. Drawing from dozens of quality international sources, through a mix of reporting, analysis and commentary, The War in Context puts the news in perspective. The lead actors capture the headlines, but The War in Context looks at their impact on the world. If this site provides you with a valuable service that you haven't found anywhere else, please offer a token of your appreciation and help keep the site running by making a donation. It's easy if you have a credit card. To donate, just hit the PayPal "donate" button below!
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New attacks intensify pressure on Bush
By Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post, November 3, 2003

In tactical terms, yesterday's action was troubling but unlikely to result in major changes in how the U.S. military operates on the ground and in the skies over Iraq. Helicopter pilots will be more wary of urban areas, and U.S. commanders probably will order up more counter-ambush operations, using aerial surveillance and ground patrols.

But the latest round of attacks in Iraq, and especially yesterday's deaths -- which amounted to the biggest single day of losses since last spring's conventional war -- may prove more significant in strategic terms.

"It is damaging not only because of the tragic human toll, but also because it looks like a dramatic escalation in lethality and therefore begs obvious questions: Are all helicopters at risk now? Are we losing the initiative? Who is winning?" said Peter D. Feaver, a former National Security Council staff member who teaches political science at Duke University.

"If the attacks get interpreted as evidence that the Baathist holdouts are winning, then attacks like this can be as lethal for public support as they are for the soldiers involved," he said. [complete article]

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The new game is no game
By Aaron David Miller, Haaretz, November 3, 2003

As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict drags on with no end in sight, three approaches to end it compete for the attention of would-be mediators, analysts and politicians. There is the old game, based on a search for a conflict-ending agreement; the interim game embodied by the road map phases, and the new game, premised on waiting for strategic changes that would somehow make the conflict easier to resolve. While the first two approaches are certainly problematic, the third - based on a policy of "strategic waiting" - is downright dangerous. [complete article]

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'It's a pay scale for the Iraqis: $700 for an attack on a tank; $1,000 for a helicopter'
By Michael Howard, The Guardian, November 3, 2003

In the face of relentless attacks from an elusive array of domestic and foreign foes - variously described by a senior coalition official yesterday as "bitter-ender" Ba'athist loyalists, or "Wahhabists driven by Islamic fanaticism", or just "plain old criminals" - one thing is clear. There is no simple solution to the increasingly organised and lethal resistance in this arc north and west of Baghdad. Because there is no single enemy.

"Solve the security riddle of Falluja and you'll solve the country," the coalition official said.

In the wake of the regime change, US forces viewed the areas in and around Falluja, with a majority population of Sunni Arabs, as a testbed for their much vaunted bid to win the hearts and minds of those Iraqis who had been favoured under the previous regime, and who were most anxious about their status in the new Iraq.

But Falluja residents quickly complained of heavy-handed tactics by US soldiers searching homes, "and stealing our belongings".

Increased US military operations in the area appeared to be drawing more attacks. "That's our purpose out there", to "engage," Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of ground forces in Iraq, said. But the perceived failure of the US forces controlling the town to provide basic services and jobs appears to have hardened hearts, and turned at least some minds to violent resistance. [complete article]

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Threats overstated by Undersecretary Bolton, critics contend
By Sonni Efron, Los Angeles Times, November 3, 2003

The Bush administration's point man on nonproliferation has exaggerated the threat posed by Syria, Libya and Cuba in an effort to build the case that strong action is needed to prevent them from developing weapons of mass destruction, former intelligence officials and independent experts say.

Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton has long been one of the most controversial figures in the Bush administration -- a pugnacious neoconservative with a reputation for blunt talk and tough action. The allegations that he is inflating the evidence against regimes that Washington dislikes, come as the administration is defending itself against criticism that it misused intelligence to make the case for invading Iraq. [complete article]

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If the news turns bad, the messenger takes a hit
By Raymond Bonner, New York Times, November 2, 2003

One difference between Vietnam and Iraq is that here, in general, commanders in the field talk to reporters openly, candidly and on the record — a product, presumably, of the practice of embedding reporters with the troops early on.

But today in Baghdad, where the Coalition Provisional Authority can better control access to information, the atmosphere has become very different. It is almost impossible for a journalist to talk to any official from the authority without getting the approval of a public information officer.

Recently, when an army major and the head of operations of an American agency here sought to take a reporter for coffee at the Rashid Hotel, where senior American personnel live and eat, a sentry told them that no reporter could enter the hotel without an escort from the press office.

The American officials were more astonished than the reporter.

If civilian authorities here see reporters as ignoring good news, reporters view the coalition public information officers as determined to withhold information, out of fear that it would become "bad news." The result is gaps in information that make it harder for American readers to assess just how good or bad the news really is. [complete article]

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100,000 call for peace at Rabin memorial rally
By Chris McGreal, The Guardian, November 3, 2003

A rally in memory of Yitzhak Rabin eight years after his murder turned into the largest leftwing demonstration since Ariel Sharon came to power as more than 100,000 people at the weekend gathered under banners denouncing occupation and demanding peace.

Although the organisers had said that Saturday night's memorial was intended to be non-partisan, many of those who descended on the Tel Aviv square where the former prime minister was assassinated carried banners demanding: "Leave the [occupied] territories - save the country", and "Sharon go home".

Shimon Peres, the former prime minister and architect of the Oslo peace accords with Mr Rabin, added to the political tone by telling the crowd that the present Israeli government's emphasis on force over negotiation had failed, and that the country would return to Mr Rabin's vision. [complete article]

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Iraq's neighbors fear premature U.S. departure
By Mark Matthews, Baltimore Sun, November 2, 2003

As U.S. occupation forces in Iraq face increasingly sophisticated resistance, some of Iraq's neighbors are beginning to caution against an early American pullout that could leave the region at the mercy of uncontrollable tensions.

Even though most regional governments opposed the U.S. invasion and Arab public opinion remains hostile to the occupation, Iraq's neighbors are starting to worry about the consequences of an American failure to stabilize Iraq. [complete article]

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Fierce fighting and a kidnapping in Afghanistan
By Carlotta Gall, New York Times, November 2, 2003

Fierce bouts of factional fighting erupted on Friday across Afghanistan, and a Turkish road engineer was reported kidnapped by suspected Taliban fighters, officials said Saturday.

Fighting between the local police and a militia chief broke out on Friday in the center of the town of Gereshk, in southern Afghanistan, killing at least six people just yards from a United States Special Forces base, local officials said.

Factional fighting was also reported in northern Afghanistan, where rival warlords have been vying for months for control of territory. Five soldiers were killed in clashes between two groups on Friday in Sar-i-Pul Province, an official from one faction told Reuters. [complete article]

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Public confidence in Bush continues to fall as more American soldiers die in Iraq
By David Usborne, The Independent, November 3, 2003

More than the failure of the United States to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, now it is the mounting death toll that is posing a political threat to Mr Bush. But the poll found that 54 per cent of Americans were still satisfied that it was worth going to war against Saddam Hussein. At the same time, the Washington Post-ABC News poll showed 87 per cent of voters were concerned that the US would find itself bogged down in Iraq, while 62 per cent said they believed America had already suffered an unacceptable death toll.

It is a rapidly darkening picture for the President that would send shivers of gloom through the Republican White House but for one thing: the apparent failure of any of the nine Democrats vying to run against Mr Bush next year to make any noticeable impact on voters. [complete article]

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Lessons of Beirut bombing lost in Baghdad
By Mitch Potter, Toronto Star, November 2, 2003

Beirut then [1983] and Baghdad now are different in almost innumerable ways.

There was a Cold War then, but no CNN. And then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan sent the marines ostensibly to make peace with Muslims, not war.

But in Beirut, people see common parallels as well: unflattering views of both U.S. deployments as naïve, muddled and at times arrogant adventures into two infinitely complex corners of Mideast geopolitics.

"The lessons of Beirut are still there: if you cannot make people come to terms for an internal peace, you are lost," said Lebanese author and academic Joseph Maila, whose recent book From Manhattan to Baghdad explores themes of militant Islam.

"You cannot impose peace from the top down. You must give people the idea they are going to rule, and if you don't tell people when you are going to leave it will cost you." [complete article]

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A valuable resource? -- As the U.S. government exercises its "muscular" approach to foreign affairs, The War in Context strives to make sense of the news. Drawing from dozens of quality international sources, through a mix of reporting, analysis and commentary, The War in Context puts the news in perspective. The lead actors capture the headlines, but The War in Context looks at their impact on the world. If this site provides you with a valuable service that you haven't found anywhere else, please offer a token of your appreciation and help keep the site running by making a donation. It's easy if you have a credit card. To donate, just hit the PayPal "donate" button below!
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The hard-liner: Richard Pipes
By Sam Tanenhaus, Boston Globe, November 2, 2003

Over the past two years, the Bush administration has inspired one of the more stimulating scavenger hunts in recent memory -- the search for the Ur-theorist of its bold foreign policy initiatives. With each new turn another name has emerged. "Regime change" gave us the political philosopher Leo Strauss. The "shock and awe" campaign brought forth the Cold War calculations of military strategist Albert Wohlstetter. Hints of follow-up aggression against Syria and North Korea had some consulting Trotsky's writings on "permanent revolution."

A likelier candidate might be Richard Pipes, the eminent historian of Russia [and father of Daniel Pipes] who two decades ago interrupted a thriving career as a Harvard professor to help the Reagan administration articulate an assertive foreign policy that strikingly prefigured the "Bush doctrine" of today. [complete article]

The three previous parts in the Boston Globe series, The mind of the administration, were The philosopher: Leo Strauss, The analyst: Albert Wohlstetter, and The farmer: Victor Davis Hanson.

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The antiwar movement and Bush share a common cause
By Paul Woodward, The War in Context, November 2, 2003

The antiwar movement has always suffered from the need to reduce complex political issues to banner-sized slogans. Having failed to prevent the war, the answer now is to "bring the troops home." On the assumption that the president's imperial ambitions would make him resistant to the idea of pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, the call to bring the troops home is regarded, by those making this appeal, as a challenge to the government. The truth is, George Bush would gladly spend next spring, and summer, attending military rallies where he welcomes home the troops and honors them for serving their country. If that happens, it will most likely have nothing to do with peace in Iraq or American respect for Iraq's sovereignty.

For an administration that has frequently treated policymaking as nothing more than an exercise in perception management, the most urgent goal in the coming months is to get Iraq out of the cable news headlines. Success will likely follow if news of American deaths is replaced by news of Iraqi deaths. With American casualties out of the picture, lingering political instability and the suffering of Iraqis will quickly become unnewsworthy -- just as few Americans now take much interest in Afghanistan, a country that not long ago was promised it would not be forgotten.

Bringing the troops home may be exactly what it takes to turn America's problem into Iraq's problem -- a problem for which Bush and many others in this country will then, in all likelihood, accept no responsibility. While some commentators will decry the whole Iraqi venture as a bloody indictment of the neoconservative agenda, a timely rejuvenation of the U.S. economy might then be all it takes for Bush to win a second term.

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Iraqification: A losing strategy
By Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, November 10, 2003

Everyone seems to be in favor of Iraqification. The president has urged an accelerated training schedule for the Iraqi Army. Secretary Rumsfeld says that more Iraqi troops, and not Americans, would be the best answer to his problems. Senators and congressman from both parties cheer the idea, as do most columnists. On the political side, the administration has speeded up its timetable to transfer power. While once it spoke of a three-year process of constitution-writing and institution-building, now it wants to hold elections and turn things over in 18 months at most. American troops would be under 100,000 by next summer and fall under 50,000 by 2005. Even the French love the new, improved schedule. What could possibly be wrong with it?

This new impulse has less to do with Iraqi democracy than with American democracy. The president wants to show that Iraqis are governing their affairs and Americans are coming home in time for his re-election. But it might not work out that way. [complete article]

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Noteworthy articles from the last seven days:

Blueprint for a mess
By David Rieff, New York Times, November 2, 2003
It is becoming painfully clear that the American plan (if it can even be dignified with the name) for dealing with postwar Iraq was flawed in its conception and ineptly carried out.

Burying the hatchet: U.S., Israel see Sunni-Shiite alliance emerging
By Ed Blanche, Daily Star, November 1, 2003
For years, the idea of an Islamic alliance between Sunni and Shiite extremists has been a nightmare scenario for Western intelligence agencies, their allies in the Muslim world and Israel.

Casualties of peace
By Paul McGeough, Sydney Morning Herald, November 1, 2003
The mounting death toll among US forces in Iraq points to nothing less than a massive failure of intelligence.

Nuclear weapons unholy, Iran says
Islam forbids use, clerics proclaim

By Robert Collier, San Francisco Chronicle, October 31, 2003
Asked whether the ayatollahs could simply rip up their fatwa one day and issue a new ruling blessing the development of nuclear weapons, Miboudi [a mullah who is professor of political science at Mofid University in Qom] said any reversal of such a high-profile issue would require years of awkward theological maneuvering.

New Iraq 'well on way to becoming Islamic state'
By David Rennie, The Telegraph, October 29, 2003
[Noah Feldman, senior constitutional adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority, said] "Any democratically elected Iraqi government is unlikely to be secular, and unlikely to be pro-Israel. And frankly, moderately unlikely to be pro-American."

Holy month begins in anger and ruin
By Anthony Shadid, Washington Post, October 28, 2003
[After a car bomb had devasted one of three police stations attacked on Monday, a] teenager glared at a U.S. soldier passing him. "Where were you, mister?" he asked in Arabic. The soldier, not understanding, looked straight ahead.

Britain and the U.S. claim a moral mandate -- and back a dictator who boils victims to death
By George Monbiot, The Guardian, October 28, 2003
There are over 6,000 political and religious prisoners in Uzbekistan. Every year, some of them are tortured to death. [...] The body of one prisoner was delivered to his relatives last year, with a curious red tidemark around the middle of his torso. He had been boiled to death. [...] But Uzbekistan is seen by the US government as a key western asset, as Saddam Hussein's Iraq once was.

Death of a town
By Chris McGreal, The Guardian, October 27, 2003
With ruthless efficiency, the Israeli army has been crushing and rocketing the Palestinian refugee town of Rafah in a manner which rivals the destruction of Jenin last year. But it is all in the name of stopping terrorism so the international community has remained silent.

After Iraq, the guilt of killing tears a life apart
By Scott Calvert, Baltimore Sun, October 26, 2003
'A very different man' returns from the battlefield, only to disappear from his base, overwhelmed by a flood of emotions.

Is America copying Israel's mistakes?
By William Pfaff, International Herald Tribune, October 25, 2003
Liberation has turned into a security problem. Force protection is sought by tracking down attackers, with penalties for the communities or tribal groups from which the "terrorists" come. Collective punishments have begun.

The wages of war:
Iraqi combatant and noncombatant fatalities in the 2003 conflict

By Carl Conetta, Project on Defense Alternatives, October 20, 2003
Nations cannot wage war responsibly or intelligently without careful attention to its costs. An elementary part of coming to terms with these costs is an accounting of war fatalities.

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U.S. helicopter crash kills 15 in Iraq
CNN, November 2, 2003

A U.S. military transport helicopter crashed Sunday near Fallujah, Iraq, killing 15 U.S. troops and wounding 21 others, the U.S. military said.

Spokesman Col. William Darley said witnesses reported seeing missile trails when the CH-47 Chinook went down, but he said the official cause of the crash has not been determined. At least some of the soldiers aboard the Chinook were about to go on leave, he said.

Three other attacks also occurred Sunday in which at least one U.S. soldier died. It was the deadliest day in Iraq for U.S. forces since March. [complete article]

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Rebel war spirals out of control as U.S. intelligence loses the plot
By Peter Beaumont in London and Patrick Graham, The Observer, November 2, 2003

Sharp disagreements are emerging between the US and the UK over the exact nature of the Iraqi resistance, amid warnings that the US is losing the intelligence war against the rebels.

After eight days in which Iraqi fighters have scored a series of major blows to the coalition and its Iraqi allies, intelligence and military officials in Iraq and on both sides of the Atlantic are at odds over whether they are fighting a Saddam-led movement or a series of disparate partisan groups. They are just as divided on finding a way to halt the escalating violence.

The latest violence comes amid increasingly bleak assessments from Washington, where the latest attacks have been compared in the media to Vietnam's 1968 Tet Offensive against US forces and described by Sandy Berger, a former National Security Adviser to President Bill Clinton, as a 'classic guerrilla war'. [complete article]

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Iraqi police now targets of choice
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post, November 2, 2003

The two-story police station where Lt. Arkan Mohammed works has been shielded from the street with seven-foot-tall concrete barriers. A sentry trains an AK-47 assault rifle at visitors until they have been frisked in the parking lot. Patrol units spend much of their shifts circling the building to look for suspicious cars.

Mohammed, a former undercover officer, said his family knows all this. He has told them about the security measures again and again, to reassure them after car bombings destroyed three other police stations in Baghdad last Monday. Still, he said, his mother and sisters cry every time he heads to work.

"Going to the police station now is like going to war," he said as he gazed at the cement blocks. "You never know if you'll return home alive or not." [complete article]

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The madness of Kim Jong Il
By Philip Gourevitch, The Observer, November 2, 2003

Most modern dictators have been self-made men, and it is the particular affliction of North Korea that Kim Jong Il's father, Kim Il Sung, was a self-made deity. In his lifetime, state propaganda spoke of him as incomparable, omnipotent and infallible - 'the clairvoyant', Korea's 'sun', 'the perfect brain', capable even of determining the weather (at least when it was good) - and in 1998, four years after his death, the constitution was revised to install him as 'president for eternity'.

His son, Kim Jong Il, rules as much as a caretaker as he does as an heir; he is described merely as the 'Central Brain' and 'the morning star', a lesser light reflecting the sun's glow. In the early 70s, the North Korean Academy of Social Sciences expunged the definition of hereditary rule from its Dictionary of Political Terminologies - 'a reactionary custom of exploitative societies'. Yet even after he was publicly anointed successor to his father's throne in 1980, Kim Jong Il kept a low profile, tucked away in the regime's secret nerve centres, the Department of Propaganda and Agitation and the Department of Organisation and Guidance. Confucius said, 'When your father is alive, observe his will. When your father is dead, observe his former actions. If for three years you do not change from the ways of your father, you can be called a "real son".' The junior Kim earned that title. [complete article]

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