Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Iraq news roundup

The US seem to be serious about "pacifying" Fallujah. As Dahr Jamail reports:

"Another example of the winning of hearts and minds of Iraqis is being formulated for the residents of Fallujah. The military has announced the plans it is considering to use for allowing Fallujans back into their city.

They will set up “processing centers” on the outskirts of the city and compile a database of peoples’ identities by using DNA testing and retina scans. Residents will then receive a badge which identifies them with their home address, which they must wear at all times.

Buses will ferry them into their city, as cars will be banned since the military fears the use of them by suicide bombers.

Another idea being kicked around is to require the men to work for pay in military-style battalions where these “work brigades” will reconstruct buildings and the water system, depending on the men’s skills.

There will also be “rubble-clearing” platoons."

More here
on Dahr Jamail's blog, and here
in the Boston Herald. As Dahr Jamail points out, making Fallujah into a model city is all good and nice, but meanwhile guerillas seem to roam freely about in Baghdad killing suspected collaborators:

"They executed a man they suspected as being a collaborator in Tahrir Square, and then they moved on to Mathaf Sqare, just 3 blocks from the “Green Zone” where the interim government and US embassy are located." More about that here.

In other news, the Pentagon has published a frank and bleak report, conceding that the "war for hearts and minds" in Iraq has been lost and that the invasion in Iraq has broadened support for radical islam. Kos has a link to the PDF file up and running. As the Sunday Herald reports:

"On “the war of ideas or the struggle for hearts and minds”, the report says, “American efforts have not only failed, they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended”.

“American direct intervention in the Muslim world has paradoxically elevated the stature of, and support for, radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single digits in some Arab societies.”"


The CIA isn't any more cheerful either. A report by a field agent states that the security situation is likely to deteriorate.

In case some draft-age American progressives are secretly gloating at this news, David Hackworth has bad news for you. The army is overstretched and undermanned, and Hackworth is sure that: "Unless a miracle happens and the new Iraqi security force decides to stop running and start fighting, we’ll be in Iraq for a long time. Most likely with a draftee force."

For the sceptics among you, the US military has recently called up a 53-year old Vietnam vet to serve in Iraq. Apparently setting your life on the line in one senseless war wasn't enough.

Meanwhile, it seems the US Army is not just short on men. Here's
an article about a National Guard training camp in Mexico. Quoting:

"Members of a California Army National Guard battalion preparing for deployment to Iraq said this week that they were under strict lockdown and being treated like prisoners rather than soldiers by Army commanders at the remote desert camp where they are training.

More troubling, a number of the soldiers said, is that the training they have received is so poor and equipment shortages so prevalent that they fear their casualty rate will be needlessly high when they arrive in Iraq early next year. "We are going to pay for this in blood," one soldier said.


Members of the battalion, headquartered in Modesto, said in two dozen interviews that they were allowed no visitors or travel passes, had scant contact with their families and that morale was terrible.

"I feel like an inmate with a weapon," said Cpl. Jajuane Smith, 31, a six-year Guard veteran from Fresno who works for an armored transport company when not on active duty.

Several soldiers have fled Doña Ana by vaulting over rolls of barbed wire that surround the small camp, the soldiers interviewed said. Others, they said, are contemplating going AWOL, at least temporarily, to reunite with their families for Thanksgiving."

So, if you're an American and of draftable age and condition - which apparently means between eighteen and sixty and being able to walk - well, I've heard that Pitcairn island suffers from an acute shortage of labour. Hint.

Oh, did I forget to mention that November has been the bloodiest month so far in Iraq for US soldiers?

As National Review editor James S. Robbins grumbled at the beginning of last month - why don't we see more good news from Iraq? For fairness' sake, Andrew Sullivan - who has tenaciously blogged in recent weeks about torture abuses by US forces - still finds reason for optimism in the New Republic.

In other Iraq-related news, a Dutchman was arrested today for having delivered tons and tons of the raw materials for mustard gas and other chemical weapons to Saddam Hussein in the 1980s. He's being charged with war crimes and being an accessory to genocide. Good riddance to this dealer of death.

Of course, there's another sinister figure from about that time who hush-hushed news about Iraq using chemical weapons against the Iranians, in order not to disturb lucrative arms deals.
Guess who.

- Merlijn

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