BROOKINGS: IRAQ INDEX
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More than 100,000 people demonstrated against the war in Washington. Thousands more staged demonstrations in Los Angeles, London, Seoul and elsewhere. In contrast to past demonstrations, the weekend's protests focused overwhelmingly on the U.S. in Iraq, and the role of the Bush administration in starting the war in Iraq.
Although Rita was not quite the catastrophe everyone expected, the economic fallout will be felt for a long time. The growing intensity of hurricanes has refueled the debate over the long term impact of global warming.
EX-FEMA CHIEF TRIES TO BLAME STATE AUTHORITIES FOR GOVERNMENT INACTION DURING KATRINA Michael Brown's testimony to Congress shocked even Republicans as he tried to place blame for the Washington's failure to act on the governor of Louisiana. Brown insisted that he had alerted the White House, even though President Bush was on vacation in Texas as the storm annihilated a major American city. (Testimony via the New York Times, September 27, 2005)
GWEN IFILL ON PRESIDENT BUSH'S ATTEMPT TO MILITARIZE HURRICANE RESPONSE (PBS Newshour, September 27, 2005)
THE CATALYST RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FIERCENESS OF KATRINA AND RITA
While there is still some debate over the role climate change played in accelerating lethal hurricanes, scientists are convinced that the immediate triggers were concentrations of hot water that appeared in the Gulf of Mexico. (Seth Borenstein, Knight Ridder, September 21, 2005)
PAYBACK FOR IGNORING KYOTO?
Britain's Sir John Lawton, a leading scientist, remarked somewhat hopefully,"If this makes the climate loonies in the States realise we've got a problem, some good will come out of a truly awful situation."
Asked what conclusion the Bush administration should draw from two hurricanes of such high intensity hitting the US in quick succession, Sir John said: "If what looks like is going to be a horrible mess causes the extreme sceptics about climate change in the US to reconsider their opinion, that would be an extremely valuable outcome." Asked about characterizing them as "loonies", he said: "There are a group of people in various parts of the world ... who simply don't want to accept human activities can change climate and are changing the climate."
"I'd liken them to the people who denied that smoking causes lung cancer." (Michael McCarthy, The Independent, September 23, 2005)
SKEPTICISM ON CLIMATE CHANGE
American oil companies have invested heavily to encourage skepticism about the role of global warming on climate change. Exxonsecrets.org offers a schematic diagram of the links between vocal skeptics and rightwing think tanks.
A SCHOOL FOR POLITICAL DIRTY TRICKS
Franklin Foer writes in the current edition of the New Republic: "Everyone who watched this summer's race for College Republican National Committee (crnc) chair with any detachment has a favorite moment of chutzpah they admire in spite of themselves. Leading the count are the following: speaking sotto voce of your opponent's "homosexuality"; rigging the delegate count so that states that support your candidate have twice as many votes as those that don't; and using a sitting congressman to threaten the careers of undecided voters. I can understand the perverse appeal of each of these incidents. But I cast my vote for the forged letter..." (Franklin Foer, The New Republic, September 26, 2005)
IS WASHINGTON'S INFATUATION WITH WAR GOING OUT OF FASHION?
An estimated 100,000 protesters crowded into Washington, while the President was safely ensconced in an underground bunker at Norad headquarters in Colorado. Similar demonstrations took place in London, San Francisco, Seoul, Korea and other world cities. The New York times reported that "A sea of anti-administration signs and banners flashed back at a long succession of speakers, who sharply rebuked the administration for continuing a war that has cost the lives of nearly 2,000 Americans and many more Iraqis. Many of the speakers also charged Mr. Bush with squandering resources that could have been used to aid people affected by the two hurricanes that slammed into the Gulf Coast...Unlike the more varied themes of recent protests against administration policies, antiwar sentiment on Saturday was consistent throughout. In Washington, it was evident from the start, as an organizer screamed over the microphone, "Let Bush and Cheney and the White House hear our message: Bring the troops home now." (Michael Janofsky, The New York Times, September 25, 2005)
-TOM DISPATCH ON WHAT THE CROWD IN FRONT OF THE WHITE HOUSE WAS SAYING
SALON ON THE UNEXPECTED SURGE IN PROTESTS
WHY THE U.S. ARMY WANTS OUT
"...The commanders who are running the war don't talk about transforming Iraq into an American-style democracy or of imposing U.S. values. They understand that Iraqis dislike American occupation, and for that reason they want fewer American troops in Iraq, not more. Most of all, they don't want the current struggle against Iraqi insurgents, who are nasty but militarily insignificant, to undermine U.S. efforts against the larger threat posed by al Qaeda terrorists, who would kill hundreds of thousands of Americans if they could. (David Ignatius, The Washington Post, September 26, 2005)
LOSING TRACK OF THE COST OF "GWOT"--PRESIDENT BUSH'S "GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR"
"...The Pentagon has no accurate knowledge of the cost of military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan or the fight against terrorism, limiting Congress's ability to oversee spending, the Government Accountability Office concluded in a report.The Defense Department has reported spending $191 billion to fight terrorism from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks through May 2005, with the annual sum ballooning from $11 billion in fiscal 2002 to a projected $71 billion in fiscal 2005. But the GAO investigation found many inaccuracies totaling billions of dollars..."(AnnScott Tyson, The Washington Post, September 22, 2005)
-Highlights of the GAO report
-The Full GAO Report
THE UNMAKING OF IRAQ
"...Instead of healing the growing divisions between Iraq's three principal communities -- Shiites, Kurds and Sunni Arabs -- a rushed constitutional process has deepened rifts and hardened feelings. Without a strong U.S.-led initiative to assuage Sunni Arab concerns, the constitution is likely to fuel rather than dampen the insurgency, encourage ethnic and sectarian violence, and hasten the country's violent break-up..."(The International Crisis Group, September 26, 2005)
A CALL FOR STRATEGIC REALISM IN IRAQ, THE ARAB WORLD AND IRAN
The Center for Strategic and International Studies' Anthony Cordesman notes in a recent speech at the 14th annual Arab-US Policymakers Conference: "...At this point in time, it does not matter who broke Iraq or why they broke it. Historians can and should argue how much of the responsibility should go to the Bush Administration, Saddam Hussein, past Iraqi military juntas, the British, and the Ottoman Empire... Issues like past US intelligence failures are now moot, as is the past lack of realism in the neoconservative view of Iraq and of what an American invasion would accomplish. What counts is that the past must not be the prelude to the future. We are where we are, and we have a moral and ethical obligation to do what we can to achieve the best possible outcome for Iraq and for all of the Iraqi people. And when I say “we,” I do not simply mean the US... " (Anthony Cordesman, CSIS, September 11-12, 2005)
IRAN LINES UP ALLIES FOR A SHOWDOWN IN THE U.N.
Erich Marquardt writes in The Power and Interest News Report that "It is important now for Iran to keep Russia and China on its side. If Iran does eventually get referred to the Security Council, it will need one of those two countries to veto any resolution that calls for sanctions.... the United States does not consider military action against Iran a viable option under the present circumstances. For instance, the ongoing insurgency in Iraq has resulted in the overextension of the U.S. military; many of Iran's nuclear facilities are believed to be hidden, making it difficult to eliminate its nuclear research program through air strikes; and, the skyrocketing price of oil is weakening the economies of oil-dependent countries, and any military move on Iran would add more instability to energy supplies, thus lifting oil prices even higher."
(Erich Marquardt, PINR, September 26, 2005)
BRITISH ENGAGED IN SECRET WAR TO KEEP IRAN FROM SMUGGLING HIGH TECH I.E.D.S INTO BASRA
The two SAS commandoes arrested by Iraqi police last week had been in Basra for seven weeks on an operation prompted by intelligence that a new type of roadside bomb which has been used against British troops was among weapons being smuggled over the Iranian border.The bombs, designed to pierce the armour beneath coalition vehicles, are similar to ones supplied by Iran to Hezbollah, the Islamic militant group.(Michael Smith and Ali Rifat, The Times of London, September 25, 2005)
WHEN RUSSIA HEADS THE G-8
Vladimir Putin becomes president of the G-8 for one year next January at a time when Russia is maneuvering with the United States once again for strategic influence. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace hosted a wideranging discussion on the implications. (CEIP, September 24, 2005)
index of material
DID THE U.S. MARGINALIZE INSURGENCY STUDIES PRIOR TO GETTING ITSELF BOGGED DOWN IN IRAQ?
In 1964, the old Asia hand Lucian Pye astutely noted that, despite a long and well-documented history of insurgent warfare in the world, governments that have faced insurgencies--or were once insurgents themselves--tend to be quick at forgetting their roots. For militaries, this loss of memory has not been passive, but rather reflects a conscious effort to marginalize insurgency studies. "They fail to acknowledge and codify their accumulative understanding of how to cope with insurrections," Pye lamented. "Thus each outbreak of insurgency seems to call for relearning old lessons." Yet they rarely do. And nowhere is this more true than in the United States. Scholars and soldiers alike have often used the phrase "the American way of war" to describe not just a predilection, but a virtual strategic obsession, which holds that wars are fought by gathering the maximum in manpower and materiel, hurling them into the maelstrom, and counting on swift, crushing victory. While this approach may work against a conventional army, it's nothing short of disastrous when fighting insurgents engaging in unconventional guerrilla warfare. (Jason Vest, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July-August 2005)
CASPIAN STURGEON FACE EXTINCTION
Hurricanes are not the only consequence of ignoring the environment. Breffni O'Rourke notes in Eurasianet.org that U.S. scientists are warning the Russians that they may run out of caviar if they don't mend their ways.
Iraqi youthful protesters do a war dance on the burning wreckage of an American armored vehicle.
WHO ACTUALLY MAKES UP IRAQ'S INSURGENCY?
Sudha Ramachandran, writing in Asia Times, notes that few of the estimated 30,000 insurgents now fighting in Iraq appear to have infiltrated from other Arab countries. Most had little thought of terrorism before joining the Anti-U.S. Jihad (Sudha Ramachandran, Asia Times, September 27, 2005)
Saudi Militants in Iraq (CSIS)
Chriss Dickey in Newsweek: Al Qaeda learns from Katrina
CRIMES OF WAR
Three U.S. soldiers have dispelled any ideas that Abu Ghraib was a limited affair carried out by a few aberrant misfits. In interviews with Human Rights Watch, two former U.S. Army sergeants and a U.S. Army captain, who belonged to the 82nd Airborne, testified that U.S. G.I's had regularly beaten and humiliated Iraqi prisoners throughout 2003 and 2004. The soldiers did it as much for "fun" as to collect information. One cook had allegedly used an aluminum baseball bat to break an Iraqi suspect's leg, after first telling the man to hold on to a post to avoid falling down. More than the criminal behavior, HRW's latest report underscores the lack of command and control on the part of U.S. senior Army officers and by the Pentagon, which has launched a number of investigations, but has so far found the officers who were supposed to be in command, innocent of any wrong doing. That may be due in part to the role played by the Pentagon and the Bush White House in authorizing "stressful" interrogations. The U.S. Army captain, who had tried to report the violations of both U.S. law and the rules of war, was routinely ignored by his superiors. (HRW, September 24, 2005)
-The Full Report
THE LOS ANGELES TIMES ON WHY THE U.S. ARMY CAPTAIN SPOKE OUT
"...When Army Capt. Ian Fishback told his company and battalion commanders that soldiers were abusing Iraqi prisoners in violation of the Geneva Convention, he says, they told him those rules were easily skirted. When he wrote a memo saying Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was wrong in telling Congress that the Army follows the Geneva dictates, his lieutenant colonel responded only: "I am aware of Fishback's concerns."
And when Fishback found himself in the same room as Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey at Ft. Benning, Ga., he again complained about prisoner abuse. He said Harvey told him that "corrective action was already taken."At every turn, it seemed, the decorated young West Point graduate, the son of a Vietnam War veteran from Michigan's Upper Peninsula, whose wife is serving with the Army in Iraq, felt that the military had shut him out..."(Richard A. Serrano, The Los Angeles Times, September 25, 2005)
WHAT THE U.S. DELETED FROM THE U.N. SUMMIT DECLARATION
A leaked early memo from the U.S. Mission to the U.N. indicates that John Bolton concentrated on removing any mention of corporate accountability from the declaration signed by U.N. countries at the end of the September summit in New York. Other targets that Bolton attempted to suppress: any reference to the growing threat from Global Climate Change (no mention of the destruction of New Orleans), or support for the International Court of Criminal Justice, which the Pentagon fears may start holding the Bush administration accountable for violations of human rights. Ethical Corporation Magazine analyzes Bolton's stand, which managed to place the United States at odds with much of the civilized world. (Ethical Corporation Magazine, September 27, 2005)
U.S. Central Command's website and Newsletter
Updating Info on Iraq, Afghanistan. the Middle East and the Horn of Africa