Monday, April 10, 2006

Resistance Demands, Iraq Docs, Civil War, Moulitsas, Tactics, Vietnam, Gay Iraqis

1) Check this link for a document purporting to be demands for US/UK withdrawal from Iraq, representing the position of the resistance -- courtesy of the Beirut-based Center for Arab Unity Studies. The document is at the bottom of the home page:

2) This is a gem for historians of the march to war in Iraq:

Russ Kick

Starting in October 2001, about a year and a halfbefore the US and its allies invaded Iraq, the StateDepartment spearheaded an effort called the Future ofIraq Project. Dozens of Iraqi exiles and internationalexperts were brought together to figure out how tocreate a new Iraq should Saddam Hussein somehow betaken out of power.

Within the project, seventeen working groups coveredsuch areas as the justice system, local government,agriculture, media, education, and oil. The variousworking groups began meeting in July 2002 andcontinued through March/April 2003. Twelve of thegroups released reports. The project cost $5 million.
The project's observations and recommendations werealmost wholly ignored by the administration during itspre-war planning for the occupation. Soon after theinvasion, though, CD-ROMs of the reports were sent tothe staff of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Among other things, the working groups foresaw thewidespread looting in the aftermath of invasion andwarned against quickly disbanding the Iraqi Army.

The project's reports have never been made availableto the public. In October 2003, "Congressionalofficials" allowed two New York Times reporters toview the reports, but they were not allowed to takethem. Upon reading this, I immediately filed a Freedomof Information Act request for the reports, which wasgranted in February 2006. Eight of the reports werereleased in their entirety, while the rest wereredacted to some degree. I have scanned them andcreated a PDF file of each report, all of which areposted to the left.

3) Although I agree with this view that the US shouldjust get out of Iraq ASAP, the logic concerning theethics of civil war is atrocious, and itself nearlygenocidal in intent.

Let Them Have Their Civil War
By Caleb Carr
Sunday, April 9, 2006;
Page B01

As the violence in Iraq has expanded, analysts havebeen asking: Are we witnessing the beginning of aformal Iraqi civil war? But far more important when weconsider what role our troops might play in theextended fighting is the question: Does the UnitedStates have any right to forcibly stop such a war,when and if it begins?
Civil war, as defined by many generations of militarytheorists, shares characteristics with insurgenciesand revolutions, but there are distinct differences,too. Although insurgencies are contests of rivalgroups, insurgents need not control any appreciableterritory to be effective. Civil wars, on the otherhand, involve two or more armed groups, eachcontrolling part of a country. And although civilwars, like revolutions, can be influenced by outsideforces as well as ideological considerations,sometimes they are merely struggles for power. Stillothers -- like the American Civil War -- are contestsover not just politics or power, but some highmotivating moral principle as well.

No such principle would seem to be at play in Iraq,for one of the insurgency's glaring deficiencies hasalways been its lack of a coherent ideologicalrallying point for all Iraqis. Its aim, by contrast,has been simple: the return to power of the SunniMuslim minority that held sway under Saddam Hussein,or, failing that, the kind of endless anarchy thatwill make any other government's rule impossible. Theinsurgents have succeeded at the latter: Although anIraqi National Assembly and executive branch have beencreated and elected, the assembly has met only onceand briefly, and Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari iswidely viewed as ineffectual and corrupt. Americans,meanwhile, are voicing overwhelming condemnation ofthe war, creating a perhaps unbridgeable gulf betweenthemselves and the Bush administration. This hasalways been a basic definition of insurgent success,as it tends to severely restrict thecounterinsurgents' time frame for operations.

Thus, all the courage that went into organizing andcarrying out Iraqi elections would seem to haveproduced a government unworthy of the sacrifices madeto bring it into being. The resulting frustration isclear in the words and increasingly deadly actions ofmany Iraqis who appear to be giving up on a politicalsolution to their country's problems. This meansmainly the once-persecuted Shiites (who are showingdangerous signs of splintering into fightingsub-factions) and Kurds.

The more the Iraqi government and its U.S. advocatestalk about "fairness" for the Sunni minority, the morethe violence seems to escalate. The insurgents do notwant their people seduced into participating in thenew Iraq, while the Kurds and Shiites seem reluctantto afford true national power to the very people whonot only made Hussein's genocidal rule possible, butare also leading the insurgency.

This may not be textbook civil war, but it iscertainly shaping up to be the beginning of one.

If Americans ever had the power to stave off such aconflict, the past three years of misguided militarypolicy have exhausted it. But military ability to stopa civil war is not the key issue. Nor should excessiveconcern for our own national security cloud our policydecisions: The first casualties of any expandedfighting will almost certainly be both Saddam Hussein(who has been kept alive thanks to U.S. insistence onhis trial -- and thanks to U.S. guards) as well as AbuMusab al-Zarqawi, who is now despised more thanHussein by many Iraqis. No, the real issue ofimportance for Americans with regard to any impendingIraqi civil war is: Are we morally justified in tryingto prevent it?

Before answering, Americans should consider a fewfacts from our own national experience. Our Civil Warwas viewed as an exercise in horrendously destructivenational suicide by most of the nations of Europe --and an expensive one at that, for it cut off Europeantextile mills from Southern cotton. Britain and one ortwo of her fellow members in the European balance ofpower considered intervening -- but intervention wasaverted, mostly through the careful warnings ofPresident Abraham Lincoln and his diplomatic corps.They stressed that civil war in America was a moremorally complex affair than the usual European grabfor power. It was, at its heart, a contest to end theinstitution of slavery.

If the Europeans found its violence deplorable andhorrifying, said Lincoln, that was understandable; sodid he. But as he explained in his second inauguraladdress, in words that we revere so deeply that wehave carved them into his memorial:

"If God wills that [the war] continue until all thewealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and fiftyyears of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and untilevery drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paidby another drawn with the sword, as was said threethousand years ago, so still it must be said, 'Thejudgments of the Lord are true and righteousaltogether.' "

Iraqis may refer to their Lord by a different name,but the principle in their case is the same. We arenot dealing with several groups of roughly equalrecent experience; we are dealing with one extrememinority, the Sunnis, many of whom have for years,under the leadership of the worst international tyrantsince Pol Pot, persecuted and murdered the other two-- on a genocidal scale.

As Americans, we cannot condone mass murder as a formof vengeance. But every time an American officialtries to tell the Shiites and the Kurds (along withthe many smaller minorities in Iraq) that they are notentitled to the same judgments and justice as weourselves received and wrought from 1861 to 1865, theymake civil war in that country more -- not less --likely. Such statements reveal the blatantlypaternalistic, even racist, opinion that what wasnecessary in the American experience is not somethingfor which the Iraqis are ready or qualified.

Indeed, if polls in Iraq are reliable (and they seemto have been, thus far) then the American presencethere is only increasing the likelihood that if civilwar comes, it will be more vicious. The presence ofU.S. troops, noble as their efforts at control may be,only fuels more rage, since they keep Kurdish andShiite forces at bay while failing to stop the Sunnisfrom committing daily murder.

And where is the justice for those murders? It doesnot emanate from either an assembly that has met oncein three months or a U.S.-led coalition that continuesto display an extraordinary level of concern for theSunnis. It may well come, in the end, only fromallowing the Kurds and Shiites to fight -- yes, tobloodily settle accounts -- with the Sunnis forthemselves.

Not only is it impossible for Americans to stand inthe way of an internal Iraqi balancing of the scales,it also reeks of hypocrisy. We went to Iraq, accordingto our president, to make Iraqis free. If that is so,and if their first decision as a free people is todeclare war upon one another, just as Americans oncedid, where do we derive the right to tell them theymay not? We cannot, again, condone genocide (we caneven cut it short by keeping land and air units in theregion); but neither can we any longer delay justice-- even if it is to be forcibly dispensed.

Yet right now, that appears to be the unenviableposition into which the Bush administration and Iraqiinsurgents have thrust our troops. Those troops havefulfilled their primary mission of bringing down theHussein regime, and they have done it well, but eventhey cannot create or enforce a just peace in aforeign country -- a laundry list of failed recentattempts in other nations should tell us that.

If the Iraqis wish to try it on their own, better thatwe allow them to use a mixture of their own militiasand conventional forces -- the kind of combinationthat fought our Civil War. That way, we at leastaccord them the respect of equals. They may evenremember, one day, that we did. And that memory may,over time, ease the bitterness created by occupation.

Caleb Carr is the author of "The Lessons of Terror: AHistory of Warfare Against Civilians" (Random House).He teaches military studies at Bard College.

4) Here is a NY Review of Books article about Markos Moulitsas' -- founder and a great role model -- new book concerning internet activism:

The Hope of the Web
By Bill McKibben
Markos Moulitsas Zúniga(click for larger image)
Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics
by Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, with a foreword by Simon Rosenberg
Chelsea Green, 216 pp., $25.00

1.When, less than a decade ago, the Internet emerged as a force in most of our lives, one of the questions people often asked was: Would it prove, like TV, to be a medium mainly for distraction and disengagement? Or would its two-way nature allow it to be a potent instrument for rebuilding connections among people and organizations, possibly even renewing a sense of community? The answer is still not clear— more people use the Web to look at unclothed young women and lose money at poker than for any other purposes. But if you were going to make a case for the Web having an invigorating political effect, you could do worse than point your browser to, which was launched in 2002 by Markos Moulitsas Zúniga...

5) This is a nice rumination on how it all went wrong -- without contemplating the possibility that it was doomed no matter what:

The Day We Lost the Iraq War
By Michael Goldfarb

Mr. Goldfarb is the author of the just published book,Ahmad's War, Ahmad's Peace: Surviving Under Saddam,Dying in the New Iraq, which tells the story of AhmadShawkat, his translator during "major combatoperations" in northern Iraq/Kurdistan in the springof 2003.

London -- It is Iraq anniversary season, those fourweeks of the year when assessments and opinions onwhat the Bush Administration wrought when it overthrewSaddam Hussein fill up the airwaves, Internet andnewspapers. We’ll be performing these annualassessments for years to come because the final resultof the Bush action is still unknowable and because somuch of the public debate has been led in a spirit ofwillful ignorance.

When it comes to the Iraq conflict “Fog of War”doesn’t refer to the smoke and dust of the battlefieldbut rather to the hot air emanating from the mouthsand pens of partisans and pundits, many of them livinginside the confines of the Green Zone on the Potomac,virtually none of whom were in Iraq during the periodof major combat operations and very few of whom havemade the journey to that country subsequently. Theiranalysis is flawed by their lack of eyewitnessexperience of the conflict.

Given how little objectivity has been brought to bearon understanding Iraq by the official classes, I havecome to realize that the accounts of those of us whoreported this conflict really are the closest thingthe world possesses to a “first draft of history.”Three years on, based on my experience as anunembedded reporter covering “major combat operations”in northern Iraq, I have reached a conclusion: itdidn’t have to turn out the way it did. I base thisconclusion on what I saw in Mosul, a city of around 1and a half million people on April 11th 2003 andsubsequently....

6) Insurgent Tactics:

Ramadi Insurgents Develop Clever Tactics
The Associated Press
Sunday, April 9, 2006; 4:34 PM

RAMADI, Iraq -- On an eerie, battle-scarred street inthis blown-out urban war zone, a mannequin withpainted black hair stares silently at U.S. Marineshunkered down in sandbagged observation posts atopbuildings a few blocks away.

It's the latest insurgent ruse in an evolving warpitting the world's most powerful military againstguerrilla fighters using their most effective weapon:ingenuity....

7) More Vietnam comparisons:

Iraq, Vietnam, and the Bloodbath Theory
By Scott Laderman
Mr. Laderman is Assistant Professor of History,University of Minnesota, Duluth.

By now we have all seen the analogies drawn betweenthe present war in Iraq and the war in Vietnam decadesago. Some of these analogies have been insightful.Some, to put it charitably, have not. Nearly all,however, have focused on how the United States enteredand fought both wars. Little attention has been heededto what the Vietnam war might tell us about the UnitedStates getting out of this one. It is an issue thatdeserves our attention.

More than thirty-five years ago, as American civilianand military opposition to the Vietnam war increased,those advocating continued warfare found themselves insomething of a bind. The applicability of the dominotheory to Vietnam had been persuasively challenged.The idea that America was fighting for democracy inVietnam appeared to many observers, given the despoticnature of the successive Saigon regimes, risible. Yetdespite the gap between the government’s rhetoric andobservable reality, a minority of Americans clung tothe idea of the war as a righteous and necessarycause. What little credibility the public explanationsfor American intervention enjoyed, however, waslargely demolished when, in 1971, the top secretDefense Department history of American policymaking inVietnam, the Pentagon Papers, was leaked to the pressby Daniel Ellsberg and published in a number ofoutlets. It is no wonder, given the extent to whichthe government’s own analysts put the lie to whatAmerican officials had been telling the public foryears, that the Nixon administration reacted sohysterically to this turn of events. It is hardly anexaggeration to say that, for much of the Americanpublic, the Pentagon Papers shattered what remained oftheir will to continue the fight in Southeast Asia.American policymakers determined to perpetuate the warwere therefore confronted with a crisis....

8) Here is a video of interviewed Iraqis today, and a poem about Iraq:

9) Gay Iraqis under fatwa threat:

Iraqi Exile Speaks Out Against the Targeting of Gay Iraqis by Shia Death Squads

We speak with a gay Iraqi exile about the systematic targeting of gay Iraqis by Shiite death squads in Iraq. The attacks follow a death-to-gays fatwa issued by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani last October. We also speak with independent journalist Doug Ireland who broke the story.

10) This article explores allegations of US soldier's war crimes in Iraq:

11) Here's another proposal for US/UK pullout:

What next for Iraq?
By Hassan Yassin, March 17th 2006.

There is no denying that a point of no return has been reached in Iraq some time ago. Despite a number of democratic and military initiatives, the situation has continued, and continues, to get worse. Public opinion across the world is losing hope in current attempts to consolidate the unity and stability of Iraq, particularly in the military approach.

Politically, the same experts and politicians are rehashing the same failed methods which are supposed to end terrorism and resistance, and restore stability to Iraq. The talk may be about previous mistakes and how to correct them, but all this rh etoric is missing the real point. The argument is always that if coalition troops leave, the situation will only be messier. To the contrary, it seems that withdrawal is the necessary condition for a solution.

Occupation under any name or any banner is an aberration to the people of any country. Nobody wants to see their country occupied by foreign forces, especially when there is no end in sight. We have said this before about Palestine, but we must also say it about Iraq and Afghanistan. The first and foremost thing to do is to make it clear that there will be no long-term occupation of these countries, and to begin implementing a withdrawal strategy.

The most effective way to put this into practice would be by going through a United Nations Resolution. It is not enough for certain officials to occasionally allude to an eventual end to the occupation. There is a saying in Arabic which goes: those who deal out the lashes are not those who count them. It is the Afghan and the Iraqi people who suffer the lashes of humiliation, intrusion and occupation. They must be given a clear assurance that this will end.

A UN resolution would first state that none of the coalition forces intend to stay in Iraq or Afghanistan beyond what is necessary. It would affirm that the UN, coalition forces and local governments would agree on that moment and on a timetable for withdrawal and replacement by UN-sanctioned troops from neutral countries. The most important component of such a resolution would be its intent: withdrawal.

There is no need for endless committees, political psychologists or military experts to analyze the situation. All that is needed is the realization that the occupation itself is the main source of instability and that ending this occupation is a precondition to any progress in Iraq. It has been acknowledged that the planning for the war in Iraq was flawed. Let us at least get our planning for withdrawal right.

12) Shock & Awe Critique:

A war 'shock and awe' didn't winFar from subduing Iraq, flawed doctrine instead produced widespread hatred of a besieged bully

Frank Smyth is a freelance journalist who is writing a book on the 1991 uprisings agaisnt Saddam Hussein
March 21, 2006

Remember when the Bush administration launched its "shock and awe" campaign across Iraq?
Even hardened critics were left starstruck watching the bombs rain down on Baghdad and other targets three years ago this week. It was as if the United States were flaunting its firepower while saying to hostile states and forces around the world: This is what happens to you when you mess with us.

The Pentagon was testing a theory developed seven years earlier by a small team of U.S. National Defense University authors. "The aims of this doctrine are to apply massive or overwhelming force as quickly as possible," the authors wrote. "While there are surely humanitarian considerations that cannot or should not be ignored, the ability to shock and awe ultimately rests in the ability to frighten, scare, intimidate, and disarm" the enemy's will.

It seemed to work at first, as supporters boldly proclaimed we had both won a war and taught the Mideast a lesson. And we did so, or so we thought, by beating the Saddam out of Iraq. "[T]he comatose and glazed expressions of survivors of the great bombardments of World War I," wrote the authors, was exactly the kind of effect on the adversary they proposed.

But the doctrine was even more ambitious. Much the way a schoolyard bully might pummel one smaller kid to send a message to the rest, its proponents wrote that the impressive display of force would compel not only the targeted nation but other states as well to fall into line. This helps explain why the administration thought that the messy politics of Iraq along with the entangled mosaic of the region were not much to worry about, as the other states would all end up coming at least a little more our way once they got wind of shock and awe.

But the doctrine failed its first field test, while the arrogance it dropped on Iraq has since given rise to contingencies its proponents never saw. Far from making Iraqis more pliant, shock and awe helped foment an insurgency that shows no sign of going away, besides helping to uncork sectarian strife that the administration also grossly underestimated. The same hubris has further increased sympathy for al-Qaida in many nations while it has helped Saddam Hussein turn his murder trial into a stage to rally insurgents against the U.S.-led occupation.

Instead of learning to fear us, as the Bush administration's war planners had hoped, the world now understands that even the tallest of giants can end up bogged down, if not crippled, no matter how fierce it starts out. In a world as complex as ours, military strength is only a part of even our nation's overall power. Instead of the kind of decisive, demonstrative victory the administration expected, the legacy of shock and awe may be that being mean and dumb doesn't work.

One lesson we could yet learn is as simple as: The politics matter, stupid. Trying to bully a whole nation along with a region into submission could end up backfiring on us. Showing off our high-tech muscle on even the most despised despotic regime may only result in turning countless people there and elsewhere against us.
Of course, it is never too late to change. But we have to start with our attitude. Arguably, such a transformation is already under way, although the administration would be the last to admit it. Last week, both the United States and Iran announced that, despite their many disagreements, it is finally time after decades of no diplomatic contact to open talks. Now that we know that shock and awe didn't scare the Ayatollahs, either, we've learned the hard way that we have to treat them, like other people, with respect whether we like them or not.

The same goes for Iraq. Having failed to subdue seemingly any sizable part of the population in the long run, we now know that we need to reach out to not only those Iraqis more or less on our side but also to the leaders of the insurgency whom we still hope to bring into the political process. One might call it bunker diplomacy. Instead of walking tall across the battlefield in the wake of shock and awe, we are the ones looking besieged and desperate for a way out.

Despite the grandiosity America sported when we invaded Iraq, the giant that the administration tried to project there sure looks weaker now. It all comes back to basics. The bully may well beat up one kid after another - only to find himself alone, surrounded by ever more people who hate him and hope, if not plot, for his demise.

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?