BROOKINGS: IRAQ INDEX
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Hardly anyone in London thinks that the bombs were not connected to Tony Blair's decision to follow George Bush to war in Iraq. The question is where to go next.
A U.S. -trained Iraqi soldier directs traffic in Baghdad. The level of violence has increased, but the U.S. could pull out anyway.
TIME TO PULL THE PLUG ON IRAQ?
A secret British government memorandum, published by the Daily Mail on Sunday, indicates that Britain was preparing to draw down its forces in Iraq before the London bombing. The memo indicates that the U.S. was planning cutbacks as well. Concerning the U.S., the memo states: "US political military thinking is still evolving. But there is a strong US military desire for significant force reductions to bring relief to overall US commitment levels. Emerging US plans assume that 14 out of 18 provinces could be handed over to Iraqi control by early 2006, allowing a reduction in overall MNF-I from 176,000 down to 66,000. There is, however, a debate between the Pentagon/Centcom...who favour a relatively bold reduction in force numbers, and MNF-I whose approach is more cautious...." (Daily Mail on Sunday, July 10, 2005)
OUTGOING CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF, RICHARD MEYERS, SEES HIS POLICIES IN IRAQ SUCCEEDING
Meyers was interviewed on the Jim Lehrer News Hour:
JIM LEHRER: ...Do you consider Iraq a success from your point of view?
GEN. RICHARD MYERS: I do now, I do. I mean I don't know why I said now. I do, absolutely; I think it's a success. And I think if you look at the big trends, take the political front, we've had several congressional delegations visit here recently. One of them came back very impressed with how the Sunni leadership is now wanting to get involved in the political process, they came back very hopeful and that was encouraging to us...
JIM LEHRER: You say everything is fine security-wise. Sixty people died over there on the weekend --
GEN. RICHARD MYERS: I didn't mean to say it was all fine, but I think we are proceeding on the path that it's going to take to create a free and stable Iraq. Part of that is security. Part of that is political progress, which I talked about, part of that is economic progress which I discussed as well. And all of that is coming along. Now, are there going to be challenges, sure. I mean, the adversary over there, at least a large part of the adversary and a lot of the people you see getting killed are killed by murderers -- psychopaths is a good word for them. I think terrorist is way too kind to them. They indiscriminately go after men, women and children, a lot of them giving their lives in the cause. So it's going to be a difficult fight, but we're going to be successful in this fight.
(General Richard Meyers, News Hour, July 12, 2005)
FROM BAGHDAD TO LONDON
Does anyone seriously doubt that the bombing in London is a peripheral result of President Bush's obsession with launching a war in Iraq? Concerning the war, the BBC's Nick Assinder notes: "It is a question in the front of many minds in Britain - but one few politicians are yet ready to ask in public: Did the war on Iraq increase the likelihood of a terrorist attack on London?" Scottish Nationalist leader Alex Salmond says he believes that the invasion of Iraq "exponentially increased the number of people throughout the world who can get drawn into this madness and with no direct benefit of destroying terrorist capacity" (Nick Assinder, BBC, July 12, 2005).
BRITAIN IDENTIFIES THE BOMBERS
A key is to discover whether the bombs were detonated by timers or were manually activated in suicide attacks, meaning the bombers were considered expendable by a wider cell that could have other "cleanskins" ready to strike.A senior security source, speaking to the Press Association, said: "Where is the person who had the expertise to organise it all?
(The Guardian, July 13, 2o05)
--The Independent's report
--The BBC's report
THE WAR IN IRAQ IS INCUBATING TERRORISM THROUGH BLOWBACK
Tom Sanderson, Director for Transnational Threats at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, predicted in April that Iraq was likely to have a blowback effect in Europe. In an Op-Ed for Finland's Helsingen Sanomat, Sanderson observed: "Muslim extremist fighters who left their homes and communities in Europe to join the Jihad in Iraq and Afghanistan will one day return as more threatening inhabitants. In fact, they already have. European-based members of the insurgency who are fighting U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi forces return to face a determined, but fractured and only partially prepared intelligence and law enforcement network in Europe...The question before the rest of Europe has to be: who’s next, when, and with what degree of impact? ...Consider the sophistication that results from daily skirmishes with U.S. and coalition forces: when the insurgents’ trick of planting roadside bombs in animal carcasses soon became an old tactic, insurgent bomb makers built devices disguised as fake sidewalk curbing that was undetectable until too late..." (Tom Sanderson, CSIS, April 29, 2005)
AL QAEDA PUBLISHES ITS PHILOSOPHY ON THE NET
The Congressional Research Service reports: "...Through his public statements over the last ten years, Bin Laden has portrayed himself both as the leader of a consistent ideological movement and a strategic commander willing to tailor his violent messages and acts to respond to specific political circumstances and to influence specific audiences and events. Global counterterrorism operations
in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks appear to have limited Bin Laden’s ability to provide command and control leadership to Al Qaeda operatives and affiliated groups. However he and other Al Qaeda leaders continue to release statements that sanction, encourage, and provide guidance for future terrorist operations..." The CRS provides a comprehensive analysis of the evolution of bin Laden's philosophy over the last decade.
(Congressional Research Service, July 12, 2005)
ASSESSING THE REASONS FOR THE ATTACK
London and Madrid-style attacks can be expected to continue as long as countries in the West influence political affairs in Muslim-majority countries. Western influence in the Middle East led to al-Qaeda's targeting of the United States and Western interests, and so long as this relationship continues, attacks by both sides are inevitable.( Erich Marquardt, Yevgeny Bendersky, Federico Bordonaro, PINR, July 11, 2005)
BLAME IRAQ--AND THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW HOME-BUILT MASS COMMUNICATIONS
The Christian Science Monitor's Dan Murphy suggests that the War in Iraq is a prime terrorist recruiting tool for directing hatred against the U.S. Writes Murphy: "...the attacks that killed at least 52 in London follow two years in which the Iraq war has inflamed Islamist hatred of the US and key allies like Britain. According to US assessments, the turmoil in Iraq has replaced the still-simmering conflict in Afghanistan as the chief recruiter of international jihadis. Analysts say anger over the conflict is helping to spread the ideology of global jihad to young Muslims in Europe..."(Dan Murphy Christian Science Monitor, July 12, 2005)
SPAIN HAS LONG BEEN A KEY BASE AREA FOR LINKING TERRORIST GROUPS FOLLOWING AL QAEDA'S PHILOSOPHY
The Commission investigating the March 11, 2004 terrorist attacks in Madrid recently concluded that since the late 1990s, foreign radical Islamists have been using Spain for jihadist activities in support of al-Qaeda’s terrorist operations, particularly al-Zarqawi’s anti-Coalition attacks in Iraq.  On-going counter-terrorism investigations reveal that Salafist Islamists traveled to Spain in the late 1990s to early 2000s to organize a network of cells for recruiting suicide bombers for operations in Iraq, Bosnia, and elsewhere and, for terrorist training in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and Indonesia. (Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor, July 1, 2005)
RAND: REASSESSING THE GLOBAL TERRORIST THREAT
Leading terrorism experts reassess the rise of terrorism. Bruce Hoffman, in an essay on the threat of suicide bombers to the U.S., notes that despite the administration's Global War Against Terrorism, terrorism has been increasing dramatically. Says Hoffman,"Excluding 9/11, for 2001, there were 188 deaths. In 2002, there were 384; 2003 saw 628 fatalities from suicide attacks. Within the first quarter of 2004, the number of fatalities from suicide attacks has exceeded 1,100—and none of these
numbers include fatalities in Iraq. It seems very likely that we will see more suicide attacks in the United States in the future. The suicide aspect of the 9/11 attacks was essential to their success and stunning impact..." The book is downloadable online in pdf format. (RAND, 2005)
LE MONDE DIPLOMATIQUE: IS THE U.S. SLIDING TOWARDS DISASTER?
"...The unilateralism of the United States - economic, commercial and military - is at odds with the multilateral reality of today’s world. US politics of military supremacy contradicts its sacred principle of free markets. Will this be a turning point of history, like the one that marked the end of the first phase of capitalist globalisation, which lasted from 1880 to 1914?..."(Philip S. Golub, Le Monde Diplomatique [in English], July 12, 2005)
BACK TO SOMALIA
A quiet, dirty conflict is being fought out in the ruined capital, Mogadishu, by al-Qaeda operatives, jihadi extremists, Ethiopian security services and Western-backed networks. This shadowy and complex contest waged by intimidation, abduction and assassination has seen some American successes but is producing growing unease within the broader public... (International Crisis Group, July 12, 2005)
AFGHANISTAN'S 3-WAY POWER STRUGGLE
At least 16 US Special Forces soldiers were killed in late June when the Chinook was brought down by Taliban fire in a mountain corner of eastern Afghanistan... Many Afghan and some senior American officials insist that the resurgent Taliban are finding sanctuary and support from elements in Pakistan. A war of words erupted between the two countries after Afghan officials directly accused Pakistan of harboring the Taliban. (Ahmed Rashid, Eurasianet.org, July 12, 2005)
ISRAEL SELLS KILLER DRONES TO CHINA
Primary US concerns surround the capability of Harpy Killer drones to destroy radar stations and anti-aircraft batteries similar to those used by Taiwan to defend against Chinese missiles and aircraft. Complicating the proposed sale, Israel claimed the drones were merely “refurbished,” but initial US intelligence reports claim that new technology was incorporated in the drones. ( Frederick W. Stakelbeck, Jr, In The National Interest, July 8, 2005)
THE SHANGHAI GROUP AIMS AT PROVIDING A COUNTERWEIGHT TO U.S. GLOBAL DOMINANCE
Overshadowed in the Western press by the G8 summit of leading industrialized nations and the complications to it caused by the London transit bombings, another summit -- the July 5 meetings in Astana, Kazakhstan of the heads of government of the six members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (S.C.O.) …The overall strategic aim of the alliance for Beijing and Moscow is curbing Washington's influence in Central Asia in order to establish a joint sphere of influence there. For Beijing, the most important goal is to get a lock on the considerable energy resources of the region, but it also seeks markets for its goods, outlets for investment and collaboration against Islamist movements. Moscow has leagued with Beijing in order to restore some of its influence over its "near abroad." (Michael Weinstein, PINR, July 12, 2005)
TAKING A FRESH LOOK AT SYRIA'S BASHAR AL-ASSAD
James Bennet, writing in the new York Times Sunday Magazine, notes: "By ideology, inclination and geography, Bashar al-Assad's regime looms as a rock in the road to fulfillment of the Bush administration's foreign policy, if not its philosophy. It is the one government in the Middle East that has not recognized that Bush is serious about comprehensive reform, a senior administration official told me, speaking on condition of anonymity. To the administration, Assad is a murderous proxy warrior, permitting or even encouraging jihadists to stream eastward into Iraq, and allowing Iranian weapons to stream westward to the guerrilla group Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Bush administration accuses him also of encouraging terrorism to the south, against Israel, by permitting militant Palestinian leaders to operate in Damascus. It sees him as a dictator interrupting a new expansion of democracy from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf. If, as Bush has said, ''in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty,'' then Syria's relative stability, after 35 years, may be due to run out...."(James Bennet, New York Times, July 10, 2005)
TO INTERVENE OR NOT TO INTERVENE
Tony Judt points out in the New York Review of Books that many of the critics of the current war in Iraq wanted the U.S. to intervene in the Balkans and in Rwanda. Commenting on author David Rieff's latest book, At the Point of a Gun: Democratic Dreams and Armed Intervention, Judt observes that Reiff is not against humanitarian intervention today. But he now thinks we should pragmatically engage each case on its merits and without illusion: above all without illusion about how much genuine change we can ever hope to effect and at what price. He still believes "we" should have intervened sooner in Bosnia and that "we" are collectively responsible for allowing a genocide in Rwanda. How, then, are "we" to decide in the future when to stand aside and when to act? (Tony Judt, New York Review of Books, July 12, 2005)
Karl Rove hunkers down and shows his disdain for the press.
NEWSEEK REPORTS THAT ROVE LEAKED VALERIE PLAME'S CIA IDENTITYTO THE NEWS MEDIA
According to Newsweek's account of Time Inc. emails shown to its editors over the weekend, Karl Rove clearly did confirm Valerie Plame's CIA identity to Time correspondent Matthew Cooper. Not only that, but Rove dished out the information before Robert Novak finally published it in his column.
As Newsweek explains: "Cooper wrote that Rove offered him a "big warning" not to "get too far out on Wilson." Rove told Cooper that Wilson's trip had not been authorized by "DCIA"—CIA Director George Tenet—or Vice President Dick Cheney. Rather, "it was, KR said, wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip." Wilson's wife is Plame, then an undercover agent working as an analyst in the CIA's Directorate of Operations counterproliferation division. (Cooper later included the essence of what Rove told him in an online story.) The e-mail characterizing the conversation continues: "not only the genesis of the trip is flawed an[d] suspect but so is the report. he [Rove] implied strongly there's still plenty to implicate Iraqi interest in acquiring uranium fro[m] Niger ... "
Rove's action in broadcasting Plame's CIA status to news reporters, puts the President in a difficult spot and It puts White House spokesman Scott McClellan in an even tougher spot. McClellan had stated unequivocally and apparently inaccurately that Rove had no involvement. Now McClellan refuses to say anything about the case at all. Rove may avoid prosecution on the grounds that he didn't know that Plame was under cover, and he may even hold onto his job hoping that a few more months of secrecy before the grand jury will allow the tempest to die down, but the damage to the President, and to the Republican party is beginning to be cumulative. (Newsweek, July 11, 2005)
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: A FORMER CIA OFFICER LOOKS AT THE DAMAGE TO NATIONAL SECURITY FROM A COORDINATED SMEAR CAMPAIGN
Larry Johnson was in Valerie Plame's class during training at the CIA. Plame was one of the few members of the group to go under deep cover, without diplomatic protection. (Larry Johnson, TPM Cafe, July 12, 2005)
THE WHITE HOUSE FACES THE PRESS ON ROVE'S ACTIONS
Editor & Publisher gives an example of some of the questioning at the White House daily briefing. When spokesman, Scott McClellan tries to say that he can't comment on an "ongoing investigation," The reporter responds: "Scott, if I could point out: Contradictory to that statement, on September 29th of 2003, while the investigation was ongoing, you clearly commented on it. You were the first one to have said that if anybody from the White House was involved, they would be fired. And then, on June 10th of 2004, at Sea Island Plantation, in the midst of this investigation, when the president made his comments that, yes, he would fire anybody from the White House who was involved. So why have you commented on this during the process of the investigation in the past, but now you’ve suddenly drawn a curtain around it under the statement of, 'We’re not going to comment on an ongoing investigation'?
(Editor&Publisher, July 11, 2005)
White House full transcript of McClellan's briefing
DAVID CORN: WHY ROVE SHOULD GO
"...Let's put aside the legal issues for a moment. This e-mail demonstrates that Rove committed a firing offense. He leaked national security information as part of a fierce campaign to undermine Wilson, who had criticized the White House on the war on Iraq. Rove's overworked attorney, Robert Luskin, defends his client by arguing that Rove never revealed the name of Valerie Plame/Wilson to Cooper and that he only referred to her as Wilson's wife. This is not much of a defense. If Cooper or any other journalist had written that "Wilson's wife works for the CIA"--without mentioning her name--such a disclosure could have been expected to have the same effect as if her name had been used: Valerie Wilson would have been compromised, her anti-WMD work placed at risk and national security potentially harmed. Either Rove knew that he was revealing an undercover officer to a reporter or he was identifying a CIA officer without bothering to check on her status and without considering the consequences of outing her...."(David Corn, The Nation, July 11, 2005)
JUAN COLE SKETCHES THE BACKGROUND TO THE ROVE-PHONY URANIUM IN NIGER AFFAIR
Whether the courts can and will punish Karl Rove for telling Time Magazine's Matthew Cooper that Joe Wilson's wife was a CIA operative should be beside the point. That's for the courts to decide.The real question is whether we want a person to occupy a high office in the White House when that person has cynically endangered US national security to take a petty sort of revenge on a whistleblower. Ambassador Joe Wilson, who once dared Saddam to hang him while wearing a rope around his neck while acting ambassador in Baghdad in fall of 1990, was the first to let the American people know that the Bush administration lied about Iraq's alleged attempt to purchase uranium yellowcake from Niger. (Juan Cole, July 12, 2005)
(See more information on Rove in last week's edition of the Global Beat )
THE NEW YORK TIMES' BILL KELLER RESPONDS TO THE L.A. TIMES' REQUEST FOR AN OP-ED FROM JUDITH MILLER
Keller writes: "How clever of the Los Angeles Times to propose that Judy Miller debate Mike Kinsley on the subject of press freedom. Sadly, Judy is not on a fellowship at some writers' colony. She is in JAIL. She is sleeping on a foam mattress on the floor, and her communications are, shall we say, constrained.
I have to tell you that Mike's contrarian intellectualizing on the subject of reporters and the law was more amusing when it was all hypothetical. Back then it was just punditry. But that was before Norm Pearlstine embraced acquiescence as corporate policy, and before Judy Miller braved the real-world discomforts of the moral high ground. Of course this is an important issue, and clever minds should wrestle with it. But at the moment Kinsley and Pearlstine seem perversely remote from the world where actual reporters work...(Romanesko's column, Poynter, July 11, 2005)