BROOKINGS: IRAQ INDEX
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U.S. soldiers walk past a burning U.S. Army truck south of Baghdad. With no clearly defined objectives, and an inability to provide effective protection, the administration is finding it more difficult to explain exactly what is being accomplished in Iraq.
Britain's public also needed convincing.
THE SECOND DOWNING STREET MEMO
Rupert Murdoch's Times of London prints a second secret British intelligence memo--this one dated July 21, 2002. The memo details the Bush administration's determination to get the U.S. into a war in Iraq. "The US Government's military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace," notes the memo, "But, as yet, it lacks a political framework. In particular, little thought has been given to creating the political conditions for military action, or the aftermath and how to shape it...(3)We need now to reinforce this message and to encourage the US Government to place its military planning within a political framework, partly to forestall the risk that military action is precipitated in an unplanned way by, for example, an incident in the No Fly Zones. This is particularly important for the UK because it is necessary to create the conditions in which we could legally support military action. Otherwise we face the real danger that the US will commit themselves to a course of action which we would find very difficult to support...(11) ...US views of international law vary from that of the UK and the international community. Regime change per se is not a proper basis for military action under international law. But regime change could result from action that is otherwise lawful. We would regard the use of force against Iraq, or any other state, as lawful if exercised in the right of individual or collective self-defence, if carried out to avert an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe, or authorised by the UN Security Council...(14)... It is just possible that an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject (because he is unwilling to accept unfettered access) and which would not be regarded as unreasonable by the international community. However, failing that (or an Iraqi attack) we would be most unlikely to achieve a legal base for military action by January 2003...(19)...A post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise. As already made clear, the US military plans are virtually silent on this point. Washington could look to us to share a disproportionate share of the burden. Further work is required to define more precisely the means by which the desired endstate would be created, in particular what form of Government might replace Saddam Hussein's regime and the timescale within which it would be possible to identify a successor. We must also consider in greater detail the impact of military action on other UK interests in the region."
Text of July 21, 2002 memo...
Text of July 23, 2002 memo...
******THE OTHER FIVE MEMOS
ThinkProgress.org offers photocopies of 5 additional British eyes-only memos, including one by British Foreign Minister Jack Straw warning that the reasons for declaring war on Iraq are no more compelling than the argument for attacking Iran and North Korea.
Dr. Stephen Biddle writing for the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College, notes: “the Administration has yet to arrive at a clear definition of the enemy or the aim in the War on Terrorism; to date, American policy has combined ambitious public statements with ambiguity on critical particulars. Heretofore, the costs of pursuing such ambitious but ill-defined goals have been high but tolerable. The ongoing insurgency in Iraq, however, is increasing the costs of grand strategic ambiguity to the point where fundamental choices can no longer be deferred... (Dr. Stephen D. Biddle, U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, April 2005)
GO SLOW ON PICKING A CONSTITUTION
Iraqis face a dilemma: rush the constitutional process and meet the current deadline of 15 August 2005 to prevent the insurgents from scoring further political points, or encourage a process that is inclusive, transparent and participatory in an effort to increase popular buy-in of the final product. (International Crisis Group, June 8, 2005)
$3 BILLION TAX FRAUD BY FEDERAL CONTRACTORS
The Washington Post reports that federal contractors employed by civilian agencies have engaged in wholesale tax avoidance, in some cases transferring withholding payments to foreign bank accounts to bypass IRS controls. (Griff Witte and Robert O'Harrow Jr.,Washington Post, June 16, 2005)
More than 300 institutes and 12,000 individuals now have access to bioweapons pathogens, according to Richard H. Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University... The Sunshine Project, a biodefense watchdog group, found that 97 percent of the "principal investigators" who received National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) grants from 2001-2005 to study six priority pathogens (anthrax, brucellosis, glanders, plague, melioidosis, or tularemia) are newcomers to such research (see "The Bug Jockeys Saddle Up,").(By Nick Schwellenbach, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May/June 2005)
The Pentagon is
in the process of deploying an as yet dysfunctional anti-ballistic missile system that could ultimately cost American tax payers several times as much as the expected short-fall in Social Security and Medicare. A Congressional Research Service study notes that many of the assumptions underlying the expenditure are questionable at best: "Critics take issue with assertions that the threat (to the United States) is increasing, citing evidence that the number of nations seeking or possessing nuclear weapons has actually declined over the past twenty years. Moreover, they argue that the technology for effective missile defense remains immature, that deployment is provocative to allies, friends, and adversaries, and it is a budget-buster that reduces the availability of funds to modernize and operate U.S. conventional military forces. They argue especially that some major powers view U.S. missile defense as an attempt at strategic domination and that other, such as China, will expand their missile capabilities in response. This report will be updated as needed." (Congressional Research service, March 23, 2005—55 pages pdf.)
THE PAINED EURO:NOTHING IS FOREVER
History is littered with currency unions that have come undone, most recently the de facto one which held sway across much of the Soviet empire. That example highlights the case which has always been made against the euro, that it can never work in the long term without a parallel shift towards political integration and central fiscal control. (Martin Vander Weyer, The Spectator, June 13, 2005)
DON'T BLAME CHINA'S CURRENCY
Sure China has a trade surplus with the United States, but it also has a trade deficit with the rest of the world. And China 's accumulation of dollar reserves is not the result of trade surpluses, but of large investment inflows caused in part by speculators' betting that China will yield to U.S. pressure. (Albert Keidel, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, June 2005)
The numbers tell the story. China has 21 percent of the world’s population but only 1.8 percent of the world’s oil supply. Thirty percent of China’s domestic oil reserves are located in Xinjiang, a province in which Muslims outnumber Han Chinese and where Beijing’s long-term grip on local politics is least sure. A net importer of oil since 1993, China now buys half its daily consumption abroad. China imports twice the amount of oil it did just five years ago, and its demand for oil surged nearly 40 percent in the first half of 2004 alone. For all of 2004, China accounted for about one-third of the increase in world oil consumption. If its oil demand continues to grow at an average rate of 7 percent a year (as it has the last 15 years), China will need 21 million barrels a day by 2022—the same amount consumed today in the United States. (Ian Bremmer, In The National Interest, June 2005)
--A Previously Coastal Navy Challenges the Pacific
TAIWAN STRAITS DILEMMA
On the surface, cross-Strait relations at the beginning of 2005 appeared to be at their most hopeful in recent years. The two sides agreed to make charter flights for the Chinese New Year a reality. Beijing also dispatched two senior officials to Taipei to attend the funeral of Koo Chen-fu, senior advisor to the president and Chairman of Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF). Amid these positive signs Beijing enacted the Anti-Secession Law (ASL). By doing so, the Mainland effectively accepted all the political inroads that Taiwan has been able to make as a fait accompli. However, President Chen’s position has since been weakened by two subsequent developments...(Eric Shih, Jamestown Foundation, June 7, 2005)
WILL IRAN'S ELECTION CHANGE ANYTHING?
It has seemed increasingly clear during Muhammad Khatami's two terms in office that for all the outward signs of democracy, ultimate power continues to rest with the mullahs—in particular the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Time and again, President Khatami saw his liberalising laws passed by the elected parliament, only for them to be overruled by the unelected Council of Guardians, a hardline group of clerics and Islamic jurists. (The Economist, June 16, 2005) BLOGGING THE ELECTIONS IN IRAN
Open Democracy.org aggregates web opinion on where Iran is headed.
Freedom House crossroads backgrounder on Iran and the elections
IRAN FACES ITS OWN TERRORIST THREAT
The truth is that Teheran does not know who is responsible for setting four bombs over the weekend...Iranian officials have alternately blamed the attacks on Arab separatists, Ba’athists, and groups backed by Western forces in Iraq.(Eurasianet.org, June 13, 2005)
LEBANON PICKS AN UNCOMPROMISING CHRISTIAN GENERAL
The significance of Mr Aoun’s victory is not so much in the number of seats that he has secured but in the fact that he has been so dominant in areas where the majority of voters are Christian. The Lebanese system provides for half of the 128 seats to go to Christians (including 34 for Maronites), but in many areas the Christian MPs depend on securing votes from Muslims and Druzes. Mr Aoun is now in a position to claim to be the legitimate political voice of the Christians, as he inflicted a resounding defeat on the main rival Christian groupings of Qornet Shahwan and the Lebanese Forces. (The Economist Intelligence Unit, Viewswire, June 13, 2005)
LIVING DANGEROUSLY: COVERING THE NEWS IN COLOMBIA
Colombia is a country of extreme news, as evidenced by just one day's headlines: 17 military killed in a guerrilla ambush; U.S. soldiers caught smuggling cocaine out of the country; 19 of Bogotá's 20 deputy mayors fired by the mayor while most of them were under investigation on allegations of corruption… So far in 2005, two reporters have been killed: Hernando Marné Sánchez Roldán, 62, covered weddings, baptisms, celebrations and the like for El País, one of Colombia's major dailies. On February 19th he was going to Tuluá, a town about 450 kilometers or 300 miles southwest of Bogotá, when a hit-man fired several shots, killing him almost immediately. According to Colombia's Foundation for the Freedom of the Press (FLIP), it is unclear why someone would want to kill a social photographer. But as El País reported, by that date a war between the two main drug lords of the region had already left 43 homicides officially recorded in Tuluá for the year. One month earlier, at the other end of the country, Julio Hernando Palacios Sánchez was murdered while driving to work, also by unknown shooters. He was manager of a radio station and director of a radio magazine in Cúcuta, about 600 kilometers or 350 miles northeast of Bogotá, on the border with Venezuela. According to FLIP, he had apparently denounced ties between local politicians and narco-traffickers.( By Maria Teresa Ronderos, Center for Public Integrity, June 10, 2005)
Under the cover of Pentagon secrecy and a rubber-stamp Republican Congress, U.S. troops have pushed the envelope, experimenting with torture, sexual lewdness and attacks against personal religion. The question is why more Americans have not objected.
Anyone who still doubts that the United States has engaged in unacceptable acts at its secret detention camp at Guantanamo only has to read the latest edition of Time Magazine, in which a female U.S. Army sergeant engages in what sounds very much like a simulation of rape, straddling a frantic prisoner while U.S. Military Police hold his legs to the floor. The authorization for these "stress tactics" came from Donald Rumsfeld, presumably with the consent of his Commander-in-Chief, but responsibility for what happens at Guantanamo will be shared by all Americans. Joseph Lelyveld, in the current issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine notes that most Americans are aware of what has been going on at Guantanamo and at Abu Ghraib, but prefer to look the other way, or not to know too much as long as we think it will guarantee our future safety. Lelyveld cites Vice-President Dick Cheney's remark, "We also have to work...sort of the dark side if you will." What Lelyveld equivocates on is what a country stands for after it has stayed on the "dark side" too long, or what a country turns into once it has talked itself into accepting "torture lite" as an acceptable fact of life.
During the 1970s, Argentina engaged in its own brand of the "dark side" to fight a leftist terrorist onslaught that seemed to be enveloping the country. In the process, it sacrificed any pretenses at being a democracy. In the end, it tortured and "disappeared" thousands of its own citizens. A commission reporting on the history of that tragedy compared the decision that Argentina had made to the approach adopted in a similar set of circumstances by Italy, which was facing an intense wave of terrorism from the Red Brigades, which eventually kidnapped the prime minister, Aldo Moro. The Argentine Commission's report explains: "When Aldo Moro was kidnapped, a member of the security forces suggested to General Della Chiesa that a suspect, who apparently knew a lot, be tortured. The general replied with the memorable words: ’Italy can survive the loss of Aldo Moro. It would not survive the introduction of torture.’" Italy knew better than Argentina, because it had already survived the rise and fall of fascism and Mussolini. When U.S. troops reached Buchenwald and Auschwitz at the end of World War II, they were so enraged at what they saw, that they forced German civilians in nearby towns to walk through the camps and face what had been done in their name. The good Germans responded: "We didn't know." The Americans did not believe them. It is not likely that the Arabs believe us now. As Lelyveld points out, we don't know, because we do not want to know. The citizens who lived through World War II in Germany did not set out to become war criminals either. They simply allowed themselves to be led passively down a slippery path, that ultimately led to a dark side that was finally impossible to ignore.
Joseph Lelyveld's "Interrogating Ourselves," in the New York Times, June12, 2005
TIME MAGAZINE's story on Guantanamo
THE ACLU'S INDEX OF RECENT TORTURE DOCUMENTS AND ABUSES AGAINST FAITH
ARGENTINA'S COMMISSION ON THE DISAPPEARANCE OF PERSONS-1984--NUNCA MAS (NEVER AGAIN)
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL'S ANNUAL REPORT AND UPDATES