"Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMD in the Middle East" (PDF). A new study by two British scholars claims that the United States has the capacity for and may be prepared to launch a massive assault on Iran. This comes just in time for the post Labor Day product rollout. [Via Informed Comment.]
Ian Brown, the former lead singer with The Stone Roses has a new single out. Illegal Attacks is an anti-war song featuring Sinead O'Connor urging the US and UK governments to "bring the soldiers back home". The striking thing about the song, to my mind, is its scarcity value. The War in Vietnam brought us anti-war songs by Glen Campbell (Galveston); Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (Ohio); Edwin Star (War!); Donovan (The Universal Soldier); Steppenwolf (Draft Resister); Billy Joel (Goodnight Saigon); Bruce Springstien (Born in the USA); Jimmy Cliff (Vietnam) Nina Simone (Backlash Blues) and many, many more . Why have the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are as deeply unpopular, not generated a similar body of work?
Lessons from Past Western Incursions in the Middle East. A speech by Juan Cole at the New America Foundation in which he discusses his new book, Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East, and the relevance and lessons of Napoleon's expedition in Egypt to the current American occupation of Iraq. A shorter version, covering many of the same points, is in this article: Pitching the Imperial Republic.
The Great Iraq Swindle: How Bush Allowed an Army of For-Profit Contractors to Invade the U.S. Treasury
Kerr Magee had applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to call their waste an "experimental fertilizer" and just spread it over the top of the land.
Depleted uranium is now understood to have many medical consequences unique to its modern application as munitions, due to its incendiary, aerosolizing behavior when pulverized. (Rosalie Bertell explains, youtube) It has become a leading candidate for the cause of Gulf War syndrome, and was associated with massive increases in cancer and birth defects in Basra. The EU has called for a moratorium on its use four times, and WHO is deeply concerned with its consequences, but the USA (with Canadian complicity) and Russia continue to use it in Iraq and elsewhere. (prev: 1 2 3 4 5)
The War as We Saw It. A powerful op-ed about Iraq written by seven infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division who will soon be heading home, it has received surprisingly little attention.
Clinton White House Spokesman Joe Lockhart does stand-up. Text, or if you prefer there is some audio at the 51min mark from This American Life.
19 year old Pfc. LaVena Johnson's dead body was found in her tent, near Balad, Iraq. Her face was beaten, nose broken, teeth loosened, and she'd been shot through the left side of her head. A trail of blood was found nearby, and the tent appeared to be partly burned. The Army ruled it a suicide. Bloggers were doubtful. The Johnson family asked that the remains be disinterred and a better investigation launched. Meanwhile, the internet pushes back.
Brookings Institution analysts Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack last week called for another "six months or so" in Iraq. The month before, "This is a decisive phase," a member of Petraeus' staff told [Joe Klein] and began to laugh. "...It's always a decisive phase. But this time, I guess you'd have to say, it actually is." "Pinky swear?" Klein held out a soft, pink, gullible digit expectantly. "Pinky swear!" the aide responded, shrugging. You people will believe anything.
Iraq wins! When everything that could go wrong goes wrong, it is awesome to see that something like this happened.
George Galloway suspended from parliament after uk parliamentary inquiry- gives speech prior to being ejected - (nsfw?). "It has come to something," he continued, "When the leading anti-war MP could get a fairer hearing in the Republican Senate than in the British House of Commons."
The British Library is posting the Diary of Dr. Saad Eskander, the courageous director of the Iraq National Library and Archive. His entries "detail the daily hurdles of keeping Iraq’s central library open, preserving the surviving archives and, oh yes, staying alive."
...The U.S. has probably not yet fully woken up to the appalling fact that, after a long period in which the first motto of its military was "no more Vietnams," it faces another Vietnam. There are many important differences, but the basic result is similar: The mightiest military in the world fails to achieve its strategic goals and is, in the end, politically defeated by an economically and technologically inferior adversary. Even if there are no scenes of helicopters evacuating Americans from the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, there will surely be some totemic photographic image of national humiliation as the U.S. struggles to extract its troops. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have done terrible damage to the U.S. reputation for being humane; this defeat will convince more people around the world that it is not even that powerful. And Bin Laden, still alive, will claim another victory over the death-fearing weaklings of the West.Iraq hasn't even begun (more within)
The Iraq war is lost. Of course, neither the president nor the war's intellectual architects are prepared to admit this. Nonetheless, the specter of defeat shapes their thinking in telling ways. The case for the war is no longer defined by the benefits of winning -- a stable Iraq, democracy on the march in the Middle East, the collapse of the evil Iranian and Syrian regimes -- but by the consequences of defeat. As President Bush put it, "The consequences of failure in Iraq would be death and destruction in the Middle East and here in America." Tellingly, the Iraq war's intellectual boosters, while insisting the surge is working, are moving to assign the blame for defeat. And they have already picked their target: the American people...The Iraq War Is Lost by Peter Galbraith July 18, 2007
See also Imperial Overreach: Washington’s Dubious Strategy to Overthrow Saddam Hussein by David Isenberg November 17, 1999 (PDF)
The "same people who attacked us on 9/11"? It may be the very latest talking point from the Administration, but it's actually true--altho it's not Al Qaeda in Iraq, but Saudis. Although Bush administration officials have frequently lashed out at Syria and Iran, accusing it of helping insurgents and militias here, the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq come from a third neighbor, Saudi Arabia ... A historical note: 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis.
Sean Smith spent two months embedded with US troops in Baghdad and Anbar province. His harrowing documentary exposes the exhaustion and disillusionment of the soldiers.
Dateline Basra: "We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area."
The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness. "Investigating the impact of the war on Iraqi civilians, Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian reveal disturbing patterns of behavior by US troops in Iraq--brutal acts that often go unreported and almost always go unpunished." [Via No Quarter.]
Iraq's Horror Movie Posters. According to Sky News, insurgent forces are taking up Worth1000 style criticism to hold up a mirror to citizens of the US and their Military-Entertainment complex.
It's been said before that the US Army is broken: in April, last December by Colin Powell and Pat Buchanan, by the head of the Army Reserve in 2005, by several generals as far back as 2004. But now, even as another Republican senator, Domenici, joins Warner, Voinovich, and Lugar in abandoning support for Bush's War, Joe Klein in Time Magazine says the end is inevitable, regardless of what politicians want:
According to the Broken Army clock, troop levels will begin to wane in March 2008, no matter what Congress decides in September; the current 20 brigade combat teams will be reduced to 15 by August 2008. There is growing speculation in the military that Bush will try to pre-empt the Petraeus testimony by announcing a gradual drawdown from 20 to 15 combat brigades later this summer.
Following the script from A Crude Awakening, Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson announced today that new reasons for staying the course in helping Iraqi forces stand up as we stand down is not regime change nor ridding the country of weapons of mass destruction, but… ensuring Australia's “energy security”.
TED does it again. See you in Monterey. What happens when the war machine goes improv?
The Failed States Index 2007. Iraq is now ranked as the world's second most unstable country, behind Sudan. [Via Newshoggers.]
More nightmares in Iraq: Abuse in an orphanage, Baghdad has turned a “war zone”, photographers don’t want to go back, 4MM displaced
How General Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties. Whether the President was told about Abu Ghraib in January (when e-mails informed the Pentagon of the seriousness of the abuses and of the existence of photographs) or in March (when Taguba filed his report), Bush made no known effort to forcefully address the treatment of prisoners before the scandal became public, or to reëvaluate the training of military police and interrogators, or the practices of the task forces that he had authorized. Instead, Bush acquiesced in the prosecution of a few lower-level soldiers. The President’s failure to act decisively resonated through the military chain of command: aggressive prosecution of crimes against detainees was not conducive to a successful career. In January of 2006, Taguba received a telephone call from General Richard Cody, the Army’s Vice-Chief of Staff. “This is your Vice,” he told Taguba. “I need you to retire by January of 2007.” No pleasantries were exchanged, although the two generals had known each other for years, and, Taguba said, “He offered no reason.” (A spokesperson for Cody said, “Conversations regarding general officer management are considered private personnel discussions. General Cody has great respect for Major General Taguba as an officer, leader, and American patriot.”) “They always shoot the messenger,” Taguba told me. “To be accused of being overzealous and disloyal—that cuts deep into me. I was being ostracized for doing what I was asked to do.”
"The Blessings-of-Civilization Trust, wisely and cautiously administered, is a Daisy. There is more money in it, more territory, more sovereignty, and other kinds of emolument, than there is in any other game that is played. But Christendom has been playing it badly of late years, and must certainly suffer by it, in my opinion. She has been so eager to get every stake that appeared on the green cloth, that the People who Sit in Darkness have noticed it – they have noticed it, and have begun to show alarm. They have become suspicious of the Blessings of Civilization."
The UK media is like a "Feral Beast", and is undermining Britain, says Tony Blair. Simon Kelner, editor of The Independent, responds. Some reasons why Blair might not be too keen on the press.
Forty years on. After a quick buildup, the Six Day War started 40 years ago today and reshaped the Middle East. At the time, Israel's quick win looked like a triumph, but after 40 years the war is still being fought and it looks like it may have been a pyrrhic victory.
Famed Arabic calligrapher Khalil al-Zahawi murdered. (Arabic: خليل الزهاوي; 1946 - 25 May 2007) Khalil al-Zahawi was the most famous practitioner in Iraq of the art of writing classical Arabic script. He was shot to death Friday as he left his home.
Memorial Day orators will say that a G.I.'s life is priceless. Don't believe it. I know what value the U.S. government assigns to a soldier's life: I've been handed the check. It's roughly what the Yankees will pay Roger Clemens per inning once he starts pitching next month.
Drowned out by boos, former White House Chief of Staff, Andy Card, receives an Honorary degree from UMass Amherst. (youtube)
Court martialed for PTSD? "But I'm very concerned that, in a time when the Army is going out there and saying, we're trying to make sure that we provide good counseling for the troops, that, when someone has asked for help, they're potentially facing a court-martial. "
Conditions for Iraqi children affected by violence and displacement have reached a critical point, according to UNICEF (PDF). One of the worst problems is the lack of clean water: only an estimated 30 per cent have access to safe water that isn't contaminated.
"The station's gaffes have included broadcasting in December 2006 a 68-minute call to arms against Israelis by a senior figure of the terrorist group Hezbollah..."
Al Hurra television, the U.S. government's $63 million-a-year effort at public diplomacy broadcasting in the Middle East, is run by executives and officials who cannot speak Arabic, according to a senior official who oversees the program. That might explain why critics say the service has recently been caught broadcasting terrorist messages, ... from their About US page: Alhurra is operated by non-profit corporation “The Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc.” (MBN). MBN is financed by the American people through the U.S Congress. US Govt. Accountability Office abstract about other MBN problems here.
The US pays Pakistan $1 billion a year to fight al Qaeda, but Pakistan doesn't do much fighting. Iraq is a "a big moneymaker" for al Qaeda, and al Qaeda's leadership may be stronger than ever.
[more War on Terror inside]
[more War on Terror inside]
The secret Iraq documents my 8-year-old found. With a couple of keystrokes, you too can read the hidden history of the Coalition Provisional Authority, America's late, unlamented occupation government in Iraq.
BBC Filter: Asked whether he was "partly to blame" for Mr Blair's departure, Mr Bush joked: "I haven't polled the Labour conference, but, could be." ... And he rounded on British journalists asking about Mr Blair's retirement, accusing them of trying to "tap dance on the prime minister's grave". At least they'll always have Iraq. One wonders if he and Mr Brown will also have a special relationship.
This opinion piece in Prospect magazine argues that perhaps the importance of the problems in the Middle East are overblown. Interesting read.
...In March 1991, a few days after the end of the gulf war, American soldiers exploded two large caches of ammunition and missiles in Khamisiyah, Iraq. Some of the missiles contained the dangerous nerve gases sarin and cyclosarin. Based on wind patterns and the size of the plume, the Department of Defense has estimated that more than 100,000 American troops may have been exposed to at least small amounts of the gases. When the roughly 700,000 deployed troops returned home, about one in seven began experiencing a mysterious set of ailments, often called gulf war illnesses, with problems including persistent fatigue, chronic headaches, joint pain and nausea. Those symptoms persist today for more than 150,000 of them, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than the number of troops exposed to the gases.Gas May Have Harmed Troops, Scientists Say
"War Czar" -- another term for "highly paid radio operator"? So the Decider in Chief wants to have a War Czar* in the White House. He appointed Douglas Lute after three other general officers turned him down. Note that Lute, a three-star general, is actually inferior in rank to David Petraeus, the four-star who's commanding the Multi-National Force in Iraq. Black Five had some thoughts on this, as did Jules Crittenden.
The Semiwarriors: By creating an atmosphere of perpetual crisis, Presidents have expanded their powers and hidden their actions from the public eye. A recent essay by retired Army lieutenant Colonel and current Boston University professor of international relations Andrew J. Bacevich, on "semiwar," a term coined after World War II "to promote permanent quasi mobilization as the essential response to permanent global crisis." Bacevich is the author of The New American Militarism, How Americans Are Seduced by War (previously discussed here and here). Tragically, Bacevich's own son, an Army First Lieutenant, was killed on patrol in Iraq two days ago by an IED.
[news filter]Iraq veteran wins blog prize "The timing of the award is almost as striking as the writing which it honours. A former American machine gunner's memoir of a year's tour of duty in Iraq based on his blog has just won a major accolade at precisely the moment when the US military high command is clamping down on blogs among the rank and file."
It began with an innocent-looking Valentine's Day card in 2005. Inside the card were several slips of paper, a hastily cut-up printout of names of 550 secret detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The human rights lawyer who received "this weird valentine" handed it over to authorities, and this week the court martial begins for JAG LtCmdr Matthew Diaz, facing 36 years for divulging state secrets.
Whither goest thou, American Jurisprudence?>
Whither goest thou, American Jurisprudence?>
"On May 10th, 2007, this video was banned in Congress" - Filmmaker, Robert Greenwald, wanted to show a four minute clip of his film when testifying to Congress, but Republicans disallowed it. This is the clip from his excellent movie now available on Google Video, Iraq for Sale.
War vs. Democracy: Untold Stories from the Lynch / Tillman Hearing -- ...U.S. soldiers whose injuries or deaths remain mired in secrecy. Pat Tillman's brother and fellow Army Ranger Kevin Tillman advocated strongly for other families still waiting for answers. ... "The family was told, it was -- quote -- 'an ambush by insurgents.' Two years later, they found out that those -- quote -- 'insurgents' happened to be the same Iraqi troops that he was training. Before his death, he told his chain of command that these same troops that he was training were trying to kill him and his team. He was told to keep his mouth shut." ... Thorough and eye-opening examination of the many ways the military spun, lied, withheld information on soldier deaths and injuries for propaganda purposes (and even delayed action until cameras were present in the Jessica Lynch rescue).