'...Today, such famous sites as the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, the ziggurat at Ur, the temple precinct at Babylon, and a ninth-century spiral minaret at Samarra have been scarred by violence, while equally important ancient sites, particularly in the southern provinces, are being ravaged by looters who work day and night to fuel an international art market hungry for antiquities. Historic districts in urban areas have also suffered from vandalism, looting, and artillery fire. In response to such widespread damage and continuing threats to our collective cultural heritage and the significance of the sites at risk, World Monument Fund
has taken the unprecedented step of including the entire country of Iraq
on its 2006 list of 100 Most Endangered Sites
.'The 2003- Iraq War & Archaeology
The Smash of Civilizations
A distinction between “old” and “new” wars is vital. “Old wars” are wars between states where the aim is the military capture of territory and the decisive encounter is battle between armed forces. “New wars”, in contrast, take place in the context of failing states. They are wars fought by networks of state and non-state actors, where battles are rare and violence is directed mainly against civilians, and which are characterised by a new type of political economy that combines extremist politics and criminality... I argue in this article that the United States viewed its invasion of Iraq as an updated version of “old war” that made use of new technology. The US failure to understand the reality on the ground in Iraq and the tendency to impose its own view of what war should be like is immensely dangerous and carries the risk of being self-perpetuating. It does not have to be this way. Iraq: the wrong war
- Mary Kaldor writes of what was happening in pre-invasion Iraq, what happened thereafter and what the alternatives were. Well, there is always Exit strategy: Civil war.
And on that, note this: Kurdish Officials Sanction Abductions in Kirkuk
--a city from which, I am afraid, we will hear more and more as time goes by.
Whereas, in the past, national power was thought to reside in the possession of a mighty arsenal and the maintenance of extended alliance systems, it is now associated with economic dynamism and the cultivation of technological innovation. To exercise leadership in the current epoch, states are expected to possess a vigorous domestic economy and to outperform other states in the development and export of high-tech goods. While a potent military establishment is still considered essential to national security, it must be balanced by a strong and vibrant economy. 'National security depends on successful engagement in the global economy,' the Institute for National Security Studies observed in a recent Pentagon study.
Regarding Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Petroleum Dependency
by Michael T. Klare, here is an excerpt
from the book and here is his most recent article--Oil and the Coming War With Iran
. Well, at least he has been consistent--consider The Geopolitics of War
, Wars Without End
, Oiling the Wheels of War
, and Imperial Reach
from his articles
for The Nation
alone. Here is an excerpt from his previous Resource Wars
and here is Scraping the bottom of the barrel
and Bush-Cheney Energy Strategy: Procuring the Rest of the World's Oil
. Well, as to his position on current events, I don't think we need to draw a picture here.
While the proverbial road to hell is paved with good intentions, the internal government memos collected in this publication demonstrate that the path to the purgatory that is Guantanamo Bay, or Abu Ghraib, has been paved with decidedly bad intentions. The policies that resulted in rampant abuse of detainees first in Afghanistan, then at Guantanamo Bay, and later in Iraq, were product of three pernicious purposes designed to facilitate the unilateral and unfettered detention, interrogation, abuse, judgment, and punishment of prisoners: (1) the desire to place the detainees beyond the reach of any court or law; (2) the desire to abrogate the Geneva Convention with respect to the treatment of persons seized in the context of armed hostilities; and (3) the desire to absolve those implementing the policies of any liability for war crimes under U.S. and international law.
Regarding the Torture Papers
, which detail Torture's Paper Trail
, and, then there's Hungry for Air
: Learning The Language Of Torture, and, of course, there's ( more inside)
Well, for a fact or two, The Beirut Wall Isn't Falling
, Lebanon is not Ukraine
and it is not democracy that's on the march in the Middle East
. And while remembering all those arguments made 1,500 deaths ago
--not to mention those so far uncounted but estimated at 100,000+ civilian deaths
--let it be, all the while the Iraq War compels Pentagon to rethink Big-Picture Strategy
, it is that American military intevention which makes America as a Revolutionary Force
in the Middle East, according to some. Meanwhile, Kishore Mahbubani
, author of Beyond the Age of Innocence: Rebuilding Trust between America and the World
lists Five Strategic Mistakes
the West has made which continue to destabilize the Islamic world. Along related lines, comes The Origins of
al Qaeda’s Ideology: Implications for US Strategy
Sound bites, wishful thoughts and stage managed demonstrations aside, could it be something more thoughtful might be required? Say, like, Understanding Islamism ? (Now available in new slow acting convenient Word or pdf form)
Say, Which War Is This Anyway ?
1 million U.S. troops have gone to war
The data also show that one out of every three of those service members has gone more than once. The Pentagon says more than 5,500 servicemen have deserted
since the war started in Iraq. Few experts are surprised to hear that a recent army survey discovered that half the soldiers were not planning to re-enlist. Experts are divided over how stretched America’s military really is. But they agree that another conflict would put the military in overdrive. Another war would require a shift to a “no-kidding wartime posture in which everybody who could shoot was given a rifle and sent to the front,” according to John Pike, of GlobalSecurity.org.
- US Army plagued by desertion and plunging morale
Cruel and Unusual - The End Of The Eighth AmendmentIt might seem at first that the rules for the treatment of Iraqi prisoners were founded on standards of political legitimacy suited to war or emergencies; based on what Carl Schmitt called the urgency of the ''exception,'' they were meant to remain secret as necessary ''war measures'' and to be exempt from traditional legal ideals and the courts associated with them. But the ominous discretionary powers used to justify this conduct are entirely familiar to those who follow the everyday treatment of prisoners in the United States—not only their treatment by prison guards but their treatment by the courts in sentencing, corrections, and prisoners' rights. The torture memoranda, as unprecedented as they appear in presenting ''legal doctrines . . . that could render specific conduct, otherwise criminal, not unlawful,'' refer to U.S. prison cases in the last 30 years that have turned on the legal meaning of the Eighth Amendment’s language prohibiting ''cruel and unusual punishment.'' What is the history of this phrase? How has it been interpreted? And how has its content been so eviscerated?
The Road To Abu Ghraib A generation from now, historians may look back to April 28, 2004, as the day the United States lost the war in Iraq... It was a direct—and predictable—consequence of a policy, hatched at the highest levels of the administration, by senior White House officials and lawyers, in the weeks and months after 9/11. Yet the administration has largely managed to escape responsibility for those decisions; a month from election day, almost no one in the press or the political class is talking about what is, without question, the worst scandal to emerge from President Bush's nearly four years in office... Given the particular conditions faced by the president and his deputies after 9/11—a war against terrorists, in which the need to extract intelligence via interrogations was intensely pressing, but the limits placed by international law on interrogation techniques were very constricting—did those leaders have better alternatives than the one they chose? The answer is that they did. And we will be living with the consequences of the choices they made for years to come.
Iraq: The Bungled Transition. Iraq: How bad can things get?
--The Making of a Mess
. Far graver than Vietnam,
some now see a Classic guerrilla war forming in Iraq
with an Enemy With Many Faces
. Iraqi Shiite philosopher--as Juan Cole calls him--and blogger Abbas Kadhim of Calling It Like It Is
, likens the Allawi government to an onion farm
--This lack of discipline within the Iraqi interim government is not accidental. Indeed, it is the manifestation of a bigger problem: the members of the cabinet consider themselves above the restraints of their respective positions in the government... After all, their nominal chief, Allawi did not choose them, like all prime ministers do to a certain degree. They were simply imposed upon him, and for all practical purposes, he is unable to dismiss any one of them. Iyad Allawi is stuck with a concoction of personalities that may compose a parliament rather than an executive branch.
--and as US-backed armies firing blanks
notes: Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Washington has been struggling to create a 40,000-strong military force... according to Brigadier General James Schwitters, who is part of the US command responsible for training Iraq's new army, only 3,000 of the soldiers could be regarded as having been militarily trained, as of early August.
From March to 2003 to August 2004, the Coalition trained 3,00 Iraqi soldiers. Well? Feelin' lucky, punk?
/Dirty Harry (More Inside)
Iraq In Transition: Vortex or Catalyst? (PDF)
A key message of the report is that should Iraq fragment, a sectarian struggle between the Shi’a majority and Sunni minority is more likely to flare up in the context of a political breakdown. Al Qaeda and other militant Sunni groups will contribute to the polarisation between Sunnis, Shi’a and other religious groups in Iraq. A fragmented Iraq could provide a breeding ground for new militant factions, both Islamist and non-Islamist. Press release
Toppling Saddam: Iraq and American Military Transformation (pdf)
The relative speed and ease of the first phase of the war in Iraq are due in part to U.S. military prowess, but also to Iraqi weakness, according to a critical internal account prepared for the U.S. Army."The shortcomings of Saddam's military played an important role in limiting the cost of major combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Coalition strengths were important contributors, but so were Iraqi weaknesses."As a result, there are "important limitations on the Iraq War's lessons for other defense planning challenges.... The Iraqis' shortcomings created a permissive environment for Coalition technology that a more skilled opponent elsewhere might not," according to the study Foreword. The study, which does represent an official U.S. Army perspective, has not been formally released.
See also Joe Galloway: Don't Take Too Much From U.S.' Iraq War Experience
See also The Fallacies Of Military Transformation
See also Victory Misunderstood: What the Gulf War Tells Us About the Future of Conflict
See also Afghanistan and the Future of Warfare
Fallujah, Sadr, and the Eroding US Position in Iraq
) Why the US Has Already "Lost" Some Aspects of its Battles in Fallujah; A Negotiated Solution Means Limiting the Scale of Defeat; No Military Solution Can Now Work and What the US Should Do Now
by Anthony Cordesman
Eight U.S. Troops Killed in Shiite Uprising
Occupation Forces Battle Cleric's Followers As Widespread Demonstrations Erupt in Iraq A Young Radical's Anti-U.S. Wrath Is Unleashed
For months, as American occupation authorities have focused on a moderate Shiite leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a radical young Shiite cleric named Moktada al-Sadr has been spewing invective and threatening a widespread insurrection. On Sunday, he unleashed it.
At his word, thousands of disciples, wearing green headbands and carrying automatic rifles, stormed into the streets of several cities and set off the most widespread mayhem of the occupation. Witnesses and occupation officials said the disciples occupied police stations, fired rocket-propelled grenades at American troops and overran government security in Kufa, the town in south central Iraq where Mr. Sadr lives. "The occupation is over!" many yelled. "We are now controlled by Sadr!"
Najaf, Iraq - Iraq's most powerful Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, survived an assassination attempt Thursday when gunmen opened fire on his entourage, a security official in his office said.
Of related interest from Juan Cole: Reformers implore Sistani to Intervene in Iran Crisis
Ali Nourizadeh of the Saudi newspaper ash-Sharq al-Awsat reports today that more than 400 Iranian writers and cultural figures, along with some members of parliament, have penned a letter to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani of Najaf, requesting that he express his opinion on the "massacre of democracy and the transformation of parliamentary elections into a mere stage play."
See also The Shiite Surge
for further background. We are living in interesting times.
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower, Reserve Affairs, Installations and Logistics in the Reagan administration Lawrence J. Korb
is visiting Iraq on a trip that is a part of the Bush administration’s effort to inform the American people of the progress the U.S. is making in Iraq since the end of major combat and is reporting back every day with his findings on the ground.
His interview with the Council on Foreign Relations
, November 12, 2003 - Did you have a chance to walk the streets in Baghdad? No. They wouldn't let us do that. I guess they worried about our security. It was interesting. You couldn't walk anyplace. When we flew into Baghdad the first day, we landed at the airport and were going over to the palace where Bremer has his headquarters. They put us on an Apache helicopter from Baghdad International Airport and flew us to within 100 yards of Bremer's headquarters, and made us get on a bus. Even when we were in safe areas and were driving to see a Shiite cleric, they made us wear flak jackets, and they had Humvees and armored personnel carriers escorting us with guns pointed at the population. This is in the so-called safe Shiite area.
Here is his Day Three In Iraq
from November 7th.
At least four times in the fall of 2002, the president and his advisers invoked the specter of a "mushroom cloud," and some of them, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, described Iraq's nuclear ambitions as a threat to the American homeland... Among the closely held internal judgments of the Iraq Survey Group, overseen by David Kay as special representative of CIA Director George J. Tenet, are that Iraq's nuclear weapons scientists did no significant arms-related work after 1991, that facilities with suspicious new construction proved benign, and that equipment of potential use to a nuclear program remained under seal or in civilian industrial use.
So in regards to Iraq's possession of the one weapon we can be certain causes mass destruction: the atomic bomb
, as Gregg Easterbrook
put it, the verdict is the unsurprising (and unsurprisingly closely held
) nope, not, zero, zip, nada...
Beginning in April 2002, the State Department project assembled more than 200 Iraqi lawyers, engineers, business people and other experts... to study topics ranging from creating a new justice system to reorganizing the military to revamping the economy. Their findings
included a much more dire assessment of Iraq's dilapidated electrical and water systems... warned... many Iraqis might react coolly to Americans' notion of quickly rebuilding civil society. Several officials said that many of the findings in the $5 million study were ignored by Pentagon officials until recently... The work
is now being relied on heavily as occupation forces struggle to impose stability in Iraq.
Iraq: What Went Wrong
By General Wesley K. Clark. I appreciate this article. It is simple, easy to read, and represents what I've been feeling for quite some time now. (NY Review of Books)
Stumbling Into War
by James P. Rubin, From Foreign Affairs
, September/October 2003
Why did most of the world abandon Washington when it went after Saddam Hussein? The war in Iraq could never have been an easy sell, but nor should it have been such a difficult one. The Bush administration badly botched the prewar maneuvering, presenting a textbook study in how not to wage a diplomatic campaign.