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Amnesty International, International Committee of the Red Cross Reports on Iraq
March 17, 2008 9:59 PM   Subscribe

Two new reports on our progress in Iraq were released today:
"Five years after the war started, the humanitarian situation in Iraq is among the most critical in the world..." - International Committee of the Red Cross.
"Five years of carnage and despair in Iraq" - Amnesty International.

(Links to the complete reports are contained in the referenced pages).
posted by fold_and_mutilate (37 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
“My commander told me, ‘Kill those who need to be killed, and save those who need to be saved’, that was our mission on our first tour,” he said of his first deployment during the invasion nearly five years ago.

Lemue continued, “After that the ROE changed, and carrying a shovel, or standing on a rooftop talking on a cell phone, or being out after curfew [meant the people] were to be killed. I can’t tell you how many people died because of this. By my third tour, we were told to just shoot people, and the officers would take care of us.”

posted by Pope Guilty at 10:08 PM on March 17, 2008


Despair would be the word for it.
posted by orange swan at 10:16 PM on March 17, 2008


Most Iraqis Oppose U.S. Troop Presence but Admit Situation Improving, according to an ABC News Poll.
posted by semmi at 10:18 PM on March 17, 2008


what a shame.



.
posted by oblio_one at 10:21 PM on March 17, 2008


Previously
posted by dhammond at 10:49 PM on March 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Poor fucks. The invasion was meant to restore, imagine if the US went in to destroy.
posted by mattoxic at 11:01 PM on March 17, 2008


Headline of the day from McClatchy Newspapers:

Cheney cites 'phenomenal' Iraqi security progress as bombing kills 40
posted by Poolio at 11:07 PM on March 17, 2008


This is a serious question: Can anyone show me examples of military intervention by strong states against weak ones that resulted in better conditions for the people of the weak state?

I kind of like the United States of Mexico's view on the issue: Starting about 1930, with the Estrada doctrine, the Mexican approach to foreign relations was to use moral persuasion in place of political, military or economic pressure, and use the military only to protect sovereignty and offer aid in case of disaster (we even sent help for Katrina) . We stopped losing big chunks of our territory.

Too bad that Vicente Fox, W's cowboy boot wearing horse riding best buddy dropped that doctrine. Now there are talks of changing the constitution to allow the Mexican military to participate in international "peacekeeping" and "humanitarian" efforts.

I remember that after Saddam's WMDs became a non issue, the administration tried to frame the war as being some kind of humanitarian intervention. Being born and raised Latin American, my only thought was 'Oh, Really?'. I am worried that if the constitution is changed, Mexico will be pressured into this kind of humanitarian endeavors, and the new 100% made in Mexico Xiuhcoatl assault rifles will be used to kill other brown people (instead of killing and/or protecting our not quite so brown drug lords).
posted by Dr. Curare at 11:12 PM on March 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is a serious question: Can anyone show me examples of military intervention by strong states against weak ones that resulted in better conditions for the people of the weak state?

The American Civil War.
posted by dhammond at 11:29 PM on March 17, 2008


Can anyone show me examples of military intervention by strong states against weak ones that resulted in better conditions for the people of the weak state?

Yes and no... Vietnam, post-war, invaved Cambodia and stopped the Khmer Rouge genocide. But, and this is a big butt, it's hard to say whether this was their prime motivation. I personally don't think this was as Vietnam had, historically, imperialistic tendencies. But obviously stopping a genocide is a much easier thing to justify than something like regime change.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:47 PM on March 17, 2008


There are a lot of things in the US that don't remind me even a little bit of fascism, but some thing that always does is a headline incorporating the words "Iraq" and "progress." We're making "progress" in Iraq. Yes we are. No we're not. Well, we're making "progress" in some areas, but not in others. We all want to make "progress," but liberals think we can't while conservatives think we can. We disagree on a lot of stuff, but we all sure agree that "progress in Iraq" is (or would be) a wonderful thing. At least, that's the case if you believe the picture of the world presented by CNN.

But "progress" towards what, exactly? Well, the answer to that has been spelled out pretty clearly, actually. "Progress" (okay, I'll stop putting it in quotes now) means, simply, moving towards complete US control of Iraq. You know; one country giving the orders and the other following without question. Like in the old Soviet Union or in the British Empire. The people of Iraq want to own their own oil industry? Fuck 'em. They want to form a partnership with Iran? Hell no, we're not going to let them do that. They don't feel inclined to turn over "terror suspects" to us so that they can be held without trial? Well, clearly they just don't understand progress. Once we've made enough progress, these questions won't even come up anymore.

When you invade and occupy a country and wage a war against its people, its only for one purpose: to take control away from those people. You don't shoot people in order to liberate them. If you're praising progress in Iraq, you're praising the forward march of fascism. Yeah, some of the ethnic violence might calm down a bit as the US turns control of individual neighborhoods over to local thugs (that's the part of the surge that's "working," by the way; the co-opting of these militias to do the dirty work for us), but that's going to be a drop in the bucket compared to the bloodbath that will ensue if the US ever makes a serious effort to break the back of the resistance. Remember Fallujah? Suppose they gave us ten Fallujahs? Can you imagine? That may very well be what it takes to 'get the job done,' as John McCain puts it. But even this will pale in comparison to the carnage that will come if the war spreads to Iran. And every time some US politician talks about progress in Iraq or says "the surge worked," we get a little bit closer to just that day.

So every time someone laments that we're not making progress in Iraq, I say "Good."
posted by Clay201 at 12:02 AM on March 18, 2008 [7 favorites]


The invasion was meant to restore

What on earth would make you say that?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:32 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


At least, that's the case if you believe the picture of the world presented by CNN.

There is no conceivable reason to believe the picture of the world presented by CNN.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:48 AM on March 18, 2008


Dhammond, unexpected and interesting answer. Specially the "Civil War" part.

Based on this record, I recommend that the next time the USA wants to engage in a humanitarian mission, or wants to liberate some oppressed people, it lets its most enlightened states win a war against its most retrograde states.

Cambodia I am learning about right now.

After RTFA, I wish, not usual in me, I could live 200 years. Just to read the history books.
posted by Dr. Curare at 1:00 AM on March 18, 2008


The invasion was meant to restore, imagine if the US went in to destroy.

.
posted by hadjiboy at 2:32 AM on March 18, 2008


Can anyone show me examples of military intervention by strong states against weak ones that resulted in better conditions for the people of the weak state?

Some of the central asian states did OK out of the Soviet rule. Just need to compare the Tajik/Uzbek side of the Amu Darya as against the Afghan.
posted by YouRebelScum at 4:45 AM on March 18, 2008


This is a serious question: Can anyone show me examples of military intervention by strong states against weak ones that resulted in better conditions for the people of the weak state?

The American Civil War.


I don't understand that, as both sides I wouldn't really consider vastly "weaker" than the other. My history's a little bad I'm sure but I don't see this from either angle... as the South "invaded" the North first, at the time they were the weaker state and certainly didn't succeed in military intervention. Following Ft. Sumter more states seceded, Lincoln formed a larger army, and we were at war. If you're angling the "War of Northern Aggression" viewpoint, it's just nonsense to suggest the Union Army grossly overwhelmed the Confederacy, which had far more well-trained generals and battle-ready (and battle-willing) men at the onset of the war- likely the reason the South was "winning" for the first half of the war until Gettysburg. I'm not trying to pick a fight with you or anything, I'd actually love to hear more of your rationale for this.

I think the example is proven repeatedly in ancient times- I would say a vast number of "conqueror" wars (Alexander, Xerxes, vast swaths of the history of Feudal Japan, etc.) that unified independent states under a single banner ultimately brought prosperity and infrastructure to their people. As far as modern times, I would say the closest example could be the first Gulf War, but we didn't really fully "invade" a country as much as exile an invading country from another one.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:02 AM on March 18, 2008


This millennium sucks. I want the old millennium back.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:21 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mission accomplished! Now watch this drive!
posted by Flunkie at 5:43 AM on March 18, 2008


There was a (brief) time when I thought that maybe I was wrong about the situation in Iraq due to the overwhelming media saturation of mis-information. Maybe there were some weapons left in the country. Maybe the population would welcome the usurpers of Saddam Hussein, despite their being the same people who had been bombing the country for the previous twelve years and maintaining a crushing embargo. Maybe I was wrong to doubt the professed intelligence of the war mongering governments. Maybe I was wrong about the motivations of those in power.

Unfortunately, I was not wrong. I wish I had been. At least, I wish the people of Iraq had not suffered the invasion. There was no chance of it going well for them. Shock and awe.

Can anyone show me examples of military intervention by strong states against weak ones that resulted in better conditions for the people of the weak state?


Generally this type of activity is partaken in order to produce a compliant state for the dominant power and/or to fight a proxy war against a foe. The fate of the population is of no consequence.
posted by asok at 6:10 AM on March 18, 2008


XQUZYPHYR, the North was industrialized, the South was largely agrarian. The North had much greater manpower reserves than the South, which is why they could fight and win a war of attrition against the South in Virginia. The North had a much larger navy, giving them the resources to effectively blockade Southern ports for the majority of the war. I think that, given the battle doctrines of the day, the North enjoyed such a diversity of advantages, and at to such a degree, that it would have been impossible for the South to win that one (barring, say, full-throated support by France and/or the Great Britain, or political victory by McClellan and the Copperheads).

Now, whether the difference in strength between the combatants in the Civil War is similar to the difference in strength of the combatants in the Iraq War is another matter. I highly doubt that this is the case.
posted by Tullius at 6:25 AM on March 18, 2008


Dammit, there is at least one error in the above post.
posted by Tullius at 6:26 AM on March 18, 2008


According to the 1860 census, the Union states had 4,025,514 men of military age (18 to 45) and the Confederate states had 1,064,193, so the Union had roughly a 4-1 advantage. (The border states had 534,358 men of military age, which was likely split between North and South.)

It was probably impossible for the South to defeat the North militarily; its main strategy was to get diplomatic recognition from France and/or England and win politically. That became unlikely after Lee's second invasion failed at Gettysburg (July 1863), but the political will of the North faded as the war dragged on and the 1864 election was essentially a referendum on continuing the war. The Democrats ran on a peace platform (McLellan, who opposed the platform personally, was the candidate), and Lincoln thought he'd lose the election until Sherman captured Atlanta in September 1864.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:22 AM on March 18, 2008


Brookings institution, Iraq Index.

Highlights:

- Electricity availability in the country up substantially, except for Baghdad.
- Oil revenue up to $5bn+ per month (no doubt helped by the high price of oil)
- Telephone penetration from 5% to 50%
- Car ownership has doubled.
- Per capita GDP has at least tripled since 2003
- GDP growth at 6 - 12%, depending on who you believe.
- Newspapers, television and radio exist
- Security situation improving dramatically by any measure
- From the peak in late 2006, civilian deaths due to insurgents down 85% to 500 per month, sectarian attacks down 50%
- Total attacks down 50%, Iraqi police deaths down 60%
- US fatalities down roughly 70% on a per month basis, as are wounded
- Attacks on infrastructure down to essentially nil since August, 2007.
- Total Iraqi security forces up to 400k+ from from 200k exiting 2006.
- Saddam Hussein and his boys gone, better future possible, as opposed to impossible.
posted by loquax at 8:25 AM on March 18, 2008


Is that the same Iraq Index compiled by the vocal anti-war advocate Michael O'Hanlon of the oh-so-liberal Brookings Institute? It is!
posted by Tullius at 8:40 AM on March 18, 2008


Is that the same Iraq Index compiled by the vocal anti-war advocate Michael O'Hanlon of the oh-so-liberal Brookings Institute? It is!

All stats and sources are cited. Did you see something incorrect, or are you simply incapable of forming objective opinions?
posted by loquax at 8:56 AM on March 18, 2008


It's the latter, loquax. You got me.
posted by Tullius at 9:13 AM on March 18, 2008


Electricity availability in the country up substantially, except for Baghdad.

Of course, Baghdad is where it really, really matters. Also, note the clever use of "availability". The report shows less electricity production then prewar levels.

- Oil revenue up to $5bn+ per month (no doubt helped by the high price of oil)

Yes, but actual oil output has not recovered to pre-war levels, and is still 60% of what it "should be" according to American estimates.

- Telephone penetration from 5% to 50%

There were no mobile phones under Saddam Hussein. Private, middle-eastern mobile phone companies have exploded (bad choice of words) in Iraq. The report says that land-lines (i.e. infrastructure) have held steady since the invasion.

- Car ownership has doubled.

I don't doubt it, but note that the report refers to car "registrations", not ownership.

- Per capita GDP has at least tripled since 2003


It looked to me like it doubled, which is great, however it also looks like non-oil GDP is only up 33% That section was somewhat confusing. The problem with non-oil GDP, when you combine that with inflation is that the real gains are not as large as they appear.

- GDP growth at 6 - 12%, depending on who you believe.


It should be much higher if things had been done better from the beginning. The Iraqi economy was moribund after Saddam + sanctions.

- Newspapers, television and radio exist

Good stuff, there has been a huge amount of new media in Iraq, which can only be a good thing, even though it seems that each station is owned by a different sect or group.

- Security situation improving dramatically by any measure
- From the peak in late 2006, civilian deaths due to insurgents down 85% to 500 per month, sectarian attacks down 50%
- Total attacks down 50%, Iraqi police deaths down 60%
- US fatalities down roughly 70% on a per month basis, as are wounded
- Attacks on infrastructure down to essentially nil since August, 2007.
- Total Iraqi security forces up to 400k+ from from 200k exiting 2006.


All of this is great, let's hope it is sustainable, and not just a lull while the various groups wait and see what the US, the politicians, the various sects, etc. will do. Hopefully the improvement we're seeing will continue and allow a real country to emerge without a massive civil war.

- Saddam Hussein and his boys gone, better future possible, as opposed to impossible.

No one can predict what might have happened in 5 or 10 years, dictators are not made of stone and eventually fall, especially when they are hated and have no clear succession and many enemies within their own ranks.
posted by cell divide at 9:36 AM on March 18, 2008


A post by f&m with comment by semmi?

Did I step into a time warp or something?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:36 AM on March 18, 2008


We are missing Miguel, Holden, rodii, PP, deja420, riviera and clavdivs from this anomaly. Amongst others.
posted by asok at 11:13 AM on March 18, 2008


And dong_resin. How could I forget!
posted by asok at 11:18 AM on March 18, 2008


- GDP growth at 6 - 12%, depending on who you believe.

Tells us once again that the GDP measure is of little value for measuring the success of a country as regards the quality of life of the citizenship.
posted by asok at 11:49 AM on March 18, 2008


“There is no conceivable reason to believe the picture of the world presented by CNN.”

Yeah. I watched Charlie Rose the other night, got a nice, fairly cogent picture of the bailout, all that. Flipped past CNN this morning, stopped b/c they were talking about it, and it was the rough equivalent of (and I’m paraphrasing): “AAAAAHHHH!?!?!?!?!”

“...it's just nonsense to suggest the Union Army grossly overwhelmed the Confederacy, which had far more well-trained generals and battle-ready (and battle-willing) men at the onset of the war...”

You’re right about the miltary capability. But logistic capability and production defines a state’s role in war. Superior leadership and troops matter in winning battles, but if you can’t supply them - end of story. S’why MacArthur did so well (even though tactically he was more emotionally bent). Good generals study tactics. Great generals study logistics.
+ what Tullius (et.al) sed.

“Brookings institution, Iraq Index.”

I don’t want to sound mercenary here, but we get - what - out of that... for our close to $3 trillion spent ... so far?

You tell me some madman is going to hand a nuke to some suicidal nutcases I’ll go fight to stop that myself. But why should I pay more than four grand out of my own pocket and have my people in harms way so some guy some other country can drive a car and watch T.V.?
posted by Smedleyman at 2:34 PM on March 18, 2008


Oil revenue up to $5bn+ per month (no doubt helped by the high price of oil)

Iraq's Insurgency Runs on Stolen Oil Profits

From the peak in late 2006, civilian deaths due to insurgents down 85% to 500 per month, sectarian attacks down 50%

500 civilian deaths every month is an improvement? What if 5500 Americans were killed every month due to insurgent violence?
The estimated United States population of 303,562,000 is approximately 11 times Iraq's estimated 27,499,638.

US fatalities down roughly 70% on a per month basis, as are wounded

How to they compare to February 2003? Having fewer fatalities is nice, but I'd rather there were no American fatalities (or Iraqi fatalities) at all. We've had over 33,000 casualties in Iraq; 3,990 killed and 29,314 wounded.

Total Iraqi security forces up to 400k+ from from 200k exiting 2006

But what are they doing? When he announced the surge in January 2007, President Bush said the Iraqi government would "take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November."

Also, co-opting the Shiite and Kurdish militia and calling them security forces isn't really a long-term solution.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:44 PM on March 18, 2008


Robbing the cradle of civilization, five years later: Just how bad was the looting of Iraq's museum and archaeological sites? According to Salon's experts, many ancient artifacts have come home, but the looting continues.
posted by homunculus at 9:00 PM on March 19, 2008


Cheney on America's Opposition to the War: "So?"
posted by adamvasco at 11:34 AM on March 20, 2008


Iraq: The View from Year Six. In March 2009, no matter who is president, Iraq will still be hell on Earth.
posted by homunculus at 11:28 AM on March 23, 2008


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