|MAKING FALLUJAH SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY
At least 38 American soldiers died along with more than 450 Iraqi civilians in a week-long battle for the city, which had once boasted a population of more than 300,000. The insurgency immediately made its presence felt in other Iraqi cities.
WINNING AND LOSING IN FALLUJAH
There is no doubt that the attack against Fallujah uprooted a major base for the insurgency. Whether it can actually stop the insurgency is another question.
As soon as the Marines seized control of Fallujah, insurgents began appearing in other Iraqi cities, including Mosul in the north, which has a population of 1.8 million. The insurgency's strategy seems clear. A new tape claiming to be from Al-Zarqawi points out that U.S. Forces are over extended and cannot respond everywhere. That is an interesting footnote to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's contention that new technology makes it possible to get by with less troops on the ground. The Washington Post's Karl Vick and Jackie Spinner sum up late breaking developments. (Washington Post, November 15, 2004)
-Pepe Escobar analyzes Fallujah fallout in the Asia Times
FALLUJAH HISTORY 101
The U.S. isn't the first foreign power to be snared by Fallujah.
The British went through the same experience in their attempt to take control of Iraq after World War I. T.E. Lawrence noted in 1920 in the Sunday Times (London) that “The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiqués are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows..." (Rashid Khalidi, In These Times, November 12, 2004)
COLIN POWELL BOWS OUT GRACIOUSLY
A confirmed realist, Powell was at odds with the rest of the administration, which preferred its own reality. The result was a series of mixed diplomatic signals that confused everyone. While Rice lacks Powell's stature, she is more likely to have the president's ear. Richard Perle, Raymond Tanter and Nancy Soderberg discuss the implications on the Jim Lehrer NewsHour. (PBS, November 15, 2004)
-Rep. Jane Harman and Senator Saxby Chambliss
discuss free fall at the CIA
Fumbling management choices by Porter Goss have triggered a wave of resignations.
WHAT TO EXPECT WITH FOUR MORE YEARS OF A BUSH PRESIDENCY
Armed with a mandate and control of both houses of Congress, the administration can be expected to make a concerted effort to eliminate the last vestiges of liberalism. Expect more aggressive anti-multilateralism that may trigger a new arms race, and a refusal to admit that the war in Iraq is not going well. The Interhemispheric Resource Center's Tom Barry, Laura Carlsen, and John Gershman analyze the broad spectrum of policy choices the administration can be expected to promote. (IRC, November 10, 2004)
RAND'S LOOK AT U.S. NATION BUILDING FROM GERMANY TO IRAQ
Germany and Japan worked out well. After that there was the Cold War, and the U.S. opted to maintain the status quo, not change it, and to manage crises rather than deal with the underlying causes. The post- Cold War era presents new problems and new possibilities. (Rand, 263 pages, pdf)
MICHAEL ROSTON: IRAQ'S CHEMICAL SCIENTISTS MAY PROVE MORE DANGEROUS THAN THE NON-LOCATABLE WMD
How did the administration allow Iraqi scientists to move to neighboring countries? The answer, as with the tons of explosives that went missing at Al-Qaqaa, seems to be poor planning, and insufficient manpower to get the job done. (Michael Roston, Foreign Policy in Focus, October 28, 2004)
-Duelfer Report (CIA, September 30, 2004)
RAND EXPERTS ALSO NOTE CONCERN OVER IRAQI SCIENTISTS POSSIBLY WORKING FOR THE INSURGENCY
The concern, expressed in the Duelfer Report but overlooked by most of the media, is that scientists who were allowed to escape from Iraq may be trying to develop chemical or biological weapons for terrorist groups. (RAND's David Mosher and John V. Parachini, International Herald Tribune, November 14, 2004)
RETHINKING DOOMSDAY SCENARIOS
So many threats against the U.S. are being bandied about these days, it is hard to tell which ones are really worth worrying about. Linda Rothstein, Catherine Auer and Jonas Siegel assess the various risks in the current issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, November-December 2004)
THE CASE AGAINST ALBERTO GONZALES
President Bush's nominee for U.S. Attorney General is most notorious, for his memos circumventing U.S. commitments to the Geneva Convention and attempting to redefine torture used at Abu Ghraib prison. If it did not cause permanent organ damage, or death, Gonzales reasoned, it could arguably be considered not to be torture. Gonzales' other legal opinions also raised serious questions. The Center for American Progress offers a comprehensive archive of documents relating to Gonzales' judgment concerning the law. (Center for American Progress, November 2004)
MILITARY TRIALS AT GUANTANAMO BELOW STANDARD
Bush administration lawyers are now trying to salvage plans to use military panels to try detainees at Guantanamo. A federal district court ruled that the process being used at Guantanamo in the case of a Yemeni national accused of being Osama Bin Laden's chauffeur, was unfair and unlawful. The plan to use military panels has been put on indefinite hold. (John Hendren, Los Angeles Times, November 13, 2004)
CHINA EXPECTED TO PUT PRESSURE ON NEW BUSH ADMINISTRATION
The primary concern is Taiwan, but China is also concerned about U.S. threats against Syria and Iran.
(Willy Lam, The Jamestown Foundation, November 11, 2004)
BROOKINGS PANEL: PALESTINIAN POLITICS AFTER ARAFAT
Four Middle East experts discuss what to expect next. The panel includes: Amjad Atallah, President, Strategic Assessments Initiative; Former Member, Negotiation Affairs Department, Palestinian Authority; Martin S. Indyk , Director, Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution; Flynt L. Leverett , Former Senior Director for the Middle East Initiative, National Security Council; Shibley Telhami ,Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, University of Maryland (panel discussion transcript, Brookings, November 11, 2004)
Henry Siegman, writing in the New York Review of Books, sees a two-pronged strategy. Giving up Gaza, Sharon will divide and keep the occupied territories on the West Bank. By isolating Gaza, he will try to prove that Palestinians are incapable of ruling themselves. (Henry Siegman, New York Review of Books, December 2004)
AN ECONOMIST LOOKS AT ISRAEL'S WALL
Besides the goal of providing security, Israel's wall also has its vindictive aspects. Mostly located on Palestinian territory, it cuts the occupied territories off from precious sources of water and contributes to massive unemployment. Sam Perlo-Freeman on a recent visit notes one example: "In the village of Falamya, 500 promised permits for farmers to go through the Wall to their land were eventually provided - all in the names of dead people, children, the elderly, the disabled, and people who had moved away. In Jbarra, a village cut off by the Wall, children going to school on the other side have to pass through a gate, where the soldiers often keep them waiting for hours, fail to turn up at all, arrive only to say that they've “lost the key,” and regularly humiliate and insult them." (Dr. Sam Perlo-Freeman, Defence & Peace Economist at the University of the West of England, Bristol via International Solidarity Movement)
ELECTION STANDOFF TURNS VIOLENT IN GEORGIA'S BREAKAWAY PROVINCE ABKHAZIA
Although Sergei Bagapsh won 50.08% of the vote in Abkhazia's presidential elections, October 3, the outgoing administration has refused to leave. Russia, which helped Abkhazia breakaway from Georgia, says it will defend its interests in the region. (Liz Fuller, RFE via Eurasianet.org, November 11, 2004)
-Russia threatens Abkhazia opposition
U.S. Television pool footage shows a U.S. Marine taking aim at a wounded Iraqi prisoner. Networks blacked out what followed, but the shot was heard clearly on the soundtrack.
INVESTIGATING THE DEATH OF A PRISONER
Journalists were shocked in Iraq when pool video shot by NBC News in a Fallujah mosque showed a U.S. Marine apparently shooting a wounded Iraqi prisoner. CNN reports that the video carried audio of the Marines talking: A Marine approached one of the men in the mosque saying, "He's [expletive] faking he's dead. He's faking he's [expletive] dead."The Marine raised his rifle and fired into the apparently wounded man's head, at which point a companion said, "Well, he's dead now." (CNN.com, November 15, 2004)
BBC: EYE WITNESS ACCOUNTS DESCRIBE A CITY DESTROYED
"I want them to know about conditions inside this city - there are dead women and children lying on the streets.
"People are getting weaker from hunger. Many are dying from their injuries because there is no medical help left in the city whatsoever.
"Some families have started burying their dead in their gardens.(BBC, November 15, 2004)
FALLUJAH DOCTORS REPORT 450 IRAQI CIVILIANS KILLED AND 1,000 WOUNDED
Al Jazeera reports that doctors in Fallujah provided casualty tolls from local hospitals. The U.S. refused to allow international aid groups into the city, saying it is still too dangerous.
(Al Jazeera, November 15, 2004)
DISTRAUGHT IN BAGHDAD
Baghdad blogger River Bend reports:
These last few days have been explosive- literally.
The sounds seem to be coming from everywhere. I've gotten tired of running upstairs and out on to the roof to find out where it's coming from. It feels like the first days of the war sometimes- planes, explosions, bullets, smoke... roads cut off.
We haven't attempted to leave the house but an uncle who was supposed to visit called to say he wouldn't be able to come because so many roads were blocked. Many people were told not to go to work and students stopped going to college yesterday. It's one of those weeks. Some areas in Baghdad seem to be cut off by armed gangs.
Eid is in a couple of days and that means there's Eid cleaning to do. The water was cut off all day today and the electricity was gone too. This seems to be happening all over Baghdad- we heard about the same situation in several areas. Can someone say 'collective punishment'?! WE didn't kidnap your relatives Allawi... it was Zarqawi, remember?!(RiverBend, November 12, 2004)
ED GIRARDET REPORTS FROM KABUL
The gatehouse guard at the office embraced me with glee when I arrived this morning. “Eid Mubarak, Eid Mubarak,” he exclaimed, pumping my hand with enthusiasm. Then, for good measure, he hugged me repeatedly. Later, at my local food shop (I was surprised to find it open), a western-dressed couple speaking excellent English – a young man and his fiancée - stopped by to pick up some gift chocolates. “This is the first Ramzan with Afghanistan at peace,” the young man said referring to the recent presidential elections in which people could vote for the first time. “Everyone is happy.”
When I mentioned the three UN hostages, who have still to be released, he nodded solemnly. “Unfortunately, we have some evil people in Afghanistan. They are not good for our country. Perhaps they will let them go now that Ramzan has ended.” I nodded in agreement. “Inshallah,” I said. “God willing.”
(Edward Girardet, Afghan Journal, November 13, 2004)
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