BROOKINGS: IRAQ INDEX
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Iraqi women grieve in the wake of the latest wave of suicide bombs. Despite the Bush administration's optimism about the war, there is growing concern that Iraq is serving as a training ground for terrorists who will eventually target Europe and the United States.
|Thousands of demonstrators supporting Israeli settlers in Gaza gather near Netivot
At least 55% of the Israeli public approves of Ariel Sharon's decision to pull Israeli settlements out of Gaza on August 15. The 45% who object, are turning out to be passionate advocates, though, and Israeli Defense Forces find themselves torn between conflicting loyalties. Haaretz describes a protest march over the weekend: "“…They stood in long lines, the youths of the rule of law and the youths of total belief. One was silent and scared, the other was pressuring for refusal. One was idle, the other was calling out, "Jews don't banish Jews."
At 9:30 P.M., Border Police officers stopped the orange march, two kilometers from Netivot. Was there really a need? Was it right to use Israel Defense Forces soldiers to stop a civilian rally inside sovereign Israeli territory?
At 10:30 P.M., none of this mattered. The dynamics of arbitrariness on the one hand and unsupervised rebellion on the other had taken their toll. Spread out on the yellow fields was a sight that looked like it came out of pictures of wars in the Middle Ages. There were long lines of police officers and soldiers and Border Police officers, and there were masses of religious warriors. And the cry echoing into the night: Soldier, police officer - refuse orders. Soldier, police officer - refuse orders…”
(Haaretz, july 19, 2005)
TOM ASHBROOK INTERVIEWS HAIM YAVIN
The television anchor on Israel's Channel One, produced a controversial 5-part series on the settlers. (Tom Ashbrook, WBUR, July 19, 2005--Real Audio online)
MORTAR AND ROCKET ATTACKS DON'T HELP
The latest salvoes, which caused no damage or casualties, occurred as Israel deployed 20,000 police and soldiers to try to prevent thousands of rightist protesters from heading toward Gaza's Jewish settlements for a march aimed at impeding Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territory next month.
The Palestinian militants' attacks had diminished in intensity from the past few days, which were marked by heavy barrages that prompted Israel to mass tanks at the Gaza frontier and threaten a large-scale ground offensive.
Both sides were under growing pressure to defuse the crisis, the worst bloodshed since a truce took effect in February, before it might disrupt Israel's planned withdrawal from the occupied Gaza Strip next month.
(Beirut Daily Star, July 19, 2005)
THE CHATHAM HOUSE REPORT: HAS WASHINGTON FAILED IN THE WAR AGAINST TERROR?
The Royal Institute for International Affairs, now known as Chatham House, does not mince words: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have boosted Al Qaeda's effectiveness and increased the terrorist threat. More important, the British government’s over reliance on Washington's strategy, and its willingness to act as ‘pillion passenger’ to the United States' war on terror has hampered British efforts to formulate an effective anti-terror strategy of its own, and to a certain extent has made it overlook its own experience fighting terrorism in Northern Ireland over a 30-year period. Formulating counter-terrorism policy in this way has left the ‘ally (i.e., the U.S.) in the driving seat' to do the steering. While the report states what many British commentators have been saying for some time, its semi-official character, opens a serious debate on how closely Britain should ally itself with the Bush administration's relatively inexperienced neoconservative approach to the war in Iraq and its "Global War Against Terror."
--Chatham House press release
--Full Chatham House Report
--Also, read Stephen E. Flynn's 2004 essay in Foreign Affairs on Forgetting to Defend the Homeland
TONY KARON LOOKS AT AL QAEDA AND LONDON
"...British Intelligence believes there are as many as 15,000 Qaeda supporters in Britain. Interesting thing is that while they’ve been busily recruiting for Iraq and other foreign projects, they haven’t until now launched attacks in Britain itself despite calls by Bin Laden and others to “punish” Britain for its role Iraq and Afghanistan..." (Tony Karon, July 14, 2005)
THE CONUNDRUM OF THE LONDON BOMBINGS
The Jamestown Foundation reports: "...
Sympathizers with jihadi militants, along with terrorism analysts, are equally divided on the rationale behind the timing and purpose of the attack. Parallels with the March 2004 Madrid bombings only go so far... Al-Qaeda, in practice, has used astute utilitarian calculation in organizing its strikes, and has abhorred politically damaging, opportunistic attacks, such as that which occurred in the bombing of the theater in the Qatari capital. On this yardstick, the London attacks are a strategic disaster… Yet the perception that ‘London was next' stems from a reading of al-Qaeda published materials. In December 2004 a strategy document 'Iraq al-Jihad, Aamaal wa-Akhtaar' (Iraq's Jihad, Hopes and Dangers)"…(Stephen Ulf, Jamestown Foundation, July 13, 2005)
IRAQ'S NEW DRAFT CONSTITUTION TO LIMIT THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN
The Los Angeles Times' Alissa J. Rubin reports: : "...Women's rights would also be affected by language stating that women would have the same rights as men as long as there is no conflict with Islamic law. Similar language on Islamic law is being added to every provision in the constitution after a push by Muslim clerics to emphasize Iraq's identity as an Islamic state. That probably would mean a return to the practice, common in Persian Gulf nations, of having matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance adjudicated by religious courts. Under that system Sunnis, Shiites and Christians would have separate courts to deal with such matters. Under Islamic law, daughters inherit a lesser share of their fathers' wealth than sons do, and divorce is easy for men, who can simply say three times that they divorce a woman to accomplish it. Women, on the other hand, must go through an elaborate and often embarrassing presentation of domestic circumstances with a cleric...The change would substantially alter the current law, which provides a level playing field...."(Alissa J. Rubin, Los Angeles Times, July 20, 2005)
IRAQ--400 DAYS AND OUT
The key to enabling total US troop withdrawal from Iraq within 400 days is achieving a political accord with Sunni leaders at all levels and with Iraq's neighbors - especially Syria and Iran. The proximal aim would be to immediately lower the level of conflict inside Iraq by constricting both active and passive support for the insurgency, inside and outside the country. This would allow the United States to shift resources to the training mission and to adopt other de-escalatory measures - most importantly: a withdrawal time line… (Carl Connetta, Project on Defense Alternatives, July 19, 2005)
NEARLY 25,000 IRAQI CIVILIANS REPORTED KILLED IN THE WAR
says that it intentionally does not keep count of Iraqi civilians who have been killed in Iraq, but a British group of academics, counting official and news reports, say in their latest report that nearly 25,000 have been killed. 9% were children, another 9% are women. An estimated 37% were killed by Americans. U.S. military authorities have dismissed the report, but admit that they don't know what the true figure is. (Iraq Body Count, July 19, 2005)
--Judith Coburn in TomDispatch.com on why the Iraqi dead don't register with the American public
"...There's no way to count, protest American journalists. What they mean is that the Pentagon doesn't count for them -– "We don't do counts," was the way General Tommy Franks put the matter during our Afghan war. But Iraq Body Count (IBC) counts as does the Brookings Institute among others. As of July 13, IBC estimated Iraqi civilian casualties to be between 22,838 and 25,869... So what journalists really mean is that only Pentagon counting counts and that the prosecutor of the war is the only "reliable" source on the magnitude of its own killing. (Judith Coburn, TomDispatch.com, July 18, 2005)
VIETNAM ALL OVER AGAIN?
Erich Marquardt observes in Power and Interest news Report that:"...As Washington continues its struggle to defeat the insurgency in Iraq, support for the intervention from the American population is diminishing, placing pressure on the Bush administration to begin to withdraw troops from the conflict. The intervention in Iraq suffers from similar failures that led to America's troop withdrawal from Vietnam in 1973. (Erich Marquardt, Power and Interest News Report, July 15, 2005)
ANTHONY CORDESMAN TESTIMONY FOR THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE
A major part of the problem in understanding Iraq lies in phrasing the questions correctly. The military option is largely set, but the solution will need to be political, and successful training is crucial. . (Anthony Cordesman, Center for strategic and International Studies, July 18, 2005)
Seymour Hersh points out that despite the talk about democracy, neither the neocons in the White House nor the Shiite opposition trusted Iraqi voters to make up their own minds. The manipulation on both sides guaranteed that no one was satisfied, yet as a United Nations official told Hersh, "The election was not an election, but a referendum on ethnic and religious identity. For the Kurds, voting was about self-determination. For the Shiites, voting was about a fatwa issued by Sistani." (Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker, July 18, 2005)
DEBASING WOMEN IN THE U.S. ARMY
The New York Times notes in an editorial:"If devout Muslims become terrorists because they believe Western civilization is depraved, does it make sense to try to unnerve them by having Western women behave like trollops? Yet those appear to be the operative theories at Guantánamo Bay, where military jailers developed the "aggressive" interrogations that were later exported to the Abu Ghraib prison. (New York Times Editorial, July 15, 2005)
THE SCHMIDT REPORT: WHAT THE MILITARY CONSIDERS ACCEPTABLE THESE DAYS
The 29-page report by U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Randall Schmidt makes for fascinating reading, mostly for the matter-of-fact way in which it acknowledges sexual lewdness and depravity as behavior authorized by the Department of Defense, and presumably the White House. An F.B.I. report concerning female U.S. interrogator doing a "lap dance" on a shackled Muslim prisoner is euphemistically referred to as female interrogators "performing acts designed to take advantage of their gender in relation to Muslim males." Simulated rape, with two MPs holding a prisoner down on the floor while a U.S. woman pretends to hump him is considered perfectly in keeping with the Commander-in-Chief's instructions.
--Read the Schmidt Report
(29 pages, pdf)
--The FBI Reports
--Andrew Sullivan's commentary
Sullivan, who is English, was shocked to find out how many Americans approve of torture, as long as it is some one else who is being tortured, and as long as someone is available to say that it is legal. America, Sullivan contends, is not what it used to be. (Andrew Sullivan's blog) (Sullivan's follow-up blog)
THE NEW YORKER'S JANE MAYER ON THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S NEW CONCEPT OF INTERROGATION AT GUANTANAMO
Some critics suspect that the Pentagon may now be using Guantanamo as a scientific laboratory, employing medical doctors and psychiatrists to study how to breakdown individual resistance(Also, see New England Journal of Medicine, July 7, 2005) . A former U.S. military intelligence officer notes that a major element in U.S. counter-interrogation training involves the desecration of Holy Scriptures. In the case of U.S. soldiers, a Bible is shredded and the pages tossed in the air or trampled on in order to train the soldier not to overreact. The suspicion is that U.S. interrogators may be using the same tactics to break Muslim prisoners, only desecrating the Koran instead of the Bible. (see blog by former military intelligence officer reported in Juan Cole's Informed Comment, May 16, 2005). Mayer notes that the Pentagon denies that anything of the kind is taking place, but the insistence on secrecy and the administration's adamant rejection of international law makes it impossible to verify what really is happening.
(Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, July 7, 2005)
--Church Report on interrogation
THE U.S. PROMISES TO MAKE INDIA A WORLD POWER
Carnegie Scholar Ashley J. Tellis details a plan for the administration to assist India in becoming a major world power in the twenty-first century. This new report provides an overview of the official, strong desire to transform relations with India, the administration’s assessment of the geopolitical challenges likely to confront the U.S. in this century, and an action agenda for achieving these goals. (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, July 2005)
--Asia Times: U.S. agrees to nuclear cooperation with India
Moving against the conventional wisdom of Western countries, in January last year Bush pledged that the US would be willing to help India with its nuclear energy and space technology in return for Delhi's promise to use the assistance for peaceful purposes and to help block the spread of dangerous weapons. It is a reflection of the way that the Bush regime looks to construct a new nuclear global order. The existing US-led global nuclear regime is struggling to deal with the fact that North Korea has declared that it possesses nuclear weapons, while Iran, according to the US, is intent on moving in the same direction. The new paradigm pursued by Bush defines clusters of nations on the basis of a "trust factor". (Siddharth Srivastava, Asia Times, July 20, 2005)
INFORMATION CONFIRMED BY ROVE WAS ORIGINALLY CLASSIFIED "SECRET"
George W. Bush and Karl Rove: a scandal that won't go away.
The Washington Post reported, Thursday, that the paragraph in a U.S. State Department memo which identified Valerie Plame as a CIA agent was marked "Secret." That information makes revealing her identity a crime, and it should also mean that the original source of the information should be relatively easy to track down. A secret classfication means that revealing the information could cause serious damage to the security of the United States. Consequently, that category of document must be signed in and out, and there is a paper trail intended to show exactly who had access to it. Failure to maintain control the document can constitute a crime.Karl Rove's lawyer claims that Rove learned Valerie Plame's status from conservative columnist Robert Novak. How Novak would have learned classified information before Rove found out about it is another question. (Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHai report in the Washington Post, july 21, 2005)
A TROUBLING "POLITICAL ARCHITECT"
While Republican spinmeisters have been trying to create the impression that there was nothing truly vindictive in Karl Rove's decision to reveal the CIA identity of former ambassador Joe Wilson's wife to Time Magazine.
One person who is not convinced is Joe Wilson, who notes on page 353 of his book, Politics of Truth, that Harball host, Chris Matthews, telephoned him, several days before the story broke, to warn him that Rove had announced that Wilson's wife was "fair game." Wilson writes that Washington Post reporter, Walter Pincus, also telephoned him several days in advance to warn him that he, Wilson, was "fair game."
Now that the president has had to qualify his vow made earlier to fire the leaker, it seems clear that Rove will stick to the president like a toxic barnacle. Republicans clearly hope to divert attention from Rove with the heightened interest in Supreme Court nominee, John Roberts.
--The Los Angeles Times reports on the smear campaign
--NEWSWEEK provides one of the most comprehensive accounts of the political fallout from Rove's actions
--Salon asks how a president managed to remain unaware of what his staff was doing
"...what struck us as most remarkable -- most inexplicable -- is the admission of ignorance from a president who usually seems entirely sure of himself even when he's demonstrably wrong. When it comes to the Plame case, Bush said, "I don't know all the facts."Assuming for a moment that the president is telling the truth, we've got a one-word follow-up question to ask. Why? (Tim Grieve, Salon, July 18, 2005)
AND PAUL KRUGMAN ON ROVE AS SYMPTOMATIC OF THE NEW AMERICA
Krugman writes:"…Mr. Rove also understands, better than anyone else in American politics, the power of smear tactics. Attacks on someone who contradicts the official line don't have to be true, or even plausible, to undermine that person's effectiveness. All they have to do is get a lot of media play, and they'll create the sense that there must be something wrong with the guy...Ultimately, this isn't just about Mr. Rove. It's also about Mr. Bush, who has always known that his trusted political adviser - a disciple of the late Lee Atwater, whose smear tactics helped President Bush's father win the 1988 election - is a thug, and obviously made no attempt to find out if he was the leaker. Most of all, it's about what has happened to America. How did our political system get to this point?" (Paul Krugman, The New York Times, July 15, 2005)
BUSH'S CHOICE FOR THE SUPREME COURT
John Roberts, 50, seems like a reasonable choice, unless you are a woman who believes Roe v. Wade was a good decision. the Washington Post notes that: "As one of the government's top lawyers before the Supreme Court, he (Roberts) argued in 1990 in favor of a government regulation that banned abortion-related counseling by federally-funded family planning programs. A line in his brief noted the first Bush administration's belief that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, should be overruled. The brief said the court's conclusion 'that there is a fundamental right to an abortion . . . finds no support in the text, structure or history of the Constitution.'"(Washington Post, July 19, 2005)
THE LIGHT FINALLY GOES OUT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
General William C. Westmoreland, who died this week at the age of 91, was, in the words of his one-time deputy, General Bruce Palmer, Jr., a man who led the U.S. Army to its first genuine defeat since the War of Independence, at the cost of nearly 60,000 U.S. servicemen and women killed. For those of us who were serving there (in Vietnam) at the time, the dashing, but essentially clueless general, was something of an enigma. A conventional general in an unconventional war that he never fully understood. He never came to terms with the fact that the U.S. had lost the war. Stanley Karnow, remarked that he simply did not understand what the war was really about. That said, he was a patriot, and the North Vietnamese generals who finally defeated him, remembered him as a fine man, whom they respected.
Eric Pace provides an honest obituary in The New York Times (New York Times, July 19, 2005)
--Stanley Karnow recalls Westmoreland on NPR
(access online audio through Real Audio browser)
---WESTMORELAND OBITUARY IN THE TIMES OF LONDON