Tuesday, January 10, 2006


This Guardian piece is rather disturbing. In short, here's what happened.

"American troops in Baghdad yesterday blasted their way into the home of an Iraqi journalist working for the Guardian and Channel 4, firing bullets into the bedroom where he was sleeping with his wife and children.

Ali Fadhil, who two months ago won the Foreign Press Association young journalist of the year award, was hooded and taken for questioning. He was released hours later.

Dr Fadhil is working with Guardian Films on an investigation for Channel 4's Dispatches programme into claims that tens of millions of dollars worth of Iraqi funds held by the Americans and British have been misused or misappropriated.

The troops told Dr Fadhil that they were looking for an Iraqi insurgent and seized video tapes he had shot for the programme. These have not yet been returned."

This is not good, for a couple of reasons. First of all, it hurts the free press idea in Iraq. If we're arresting journalists (and turning out to be completely wrong), it does not give Iraqis faith that their press is free. Especially since they released him and have yet to return the videotapes. Somehow I doubt they are looking for terrorists on there. Key words: "...an investigation for Channel 4's Dispatches programme into claims that tens of millions of dollars worth of Iraqi funds held by the Americans and British have been misused or misappropriated."

Secondly, shooting first, when the soldiers already have surprise? Are things that bad that our soldiers are getting orders to fire first and ask questions later? They had the jump on this guy, who ended up being the wrong person, and still they shot first before verifying they had the right house. Again, how are we supposed to win the support of Iraqis with screwups like this?

I'm not blaming the soldiers. They get orders and they have to follow them, and they do a lot out of pure fear right now, fear that wouldn't exist had we secured Iraq properly almost three years ago. For something the Bush administration wanted so bad, they never moved the troops to show the commitment level they claimed, and they never moved to correct the situation. Bremer is saying in his new book that he wanted the troops after seeing how bad things were and got shot down by Washington. Again, another Bush administration official leaves the administration and writes about how screwed up things were. How many people will it take before the Republicans realize they're backing a failed idea, an idea that could've been successful had proper military rules been followed?

Since Bush never wanted to get all the way in, and a majority of Americans are behind the idea of leaving, either we do one or the other. Either pull troops from places like Germany to jack up the numbers and shut this thing down for good, or we start a phased withdrawal and end our time there. This is not a time for half-measures, because they are killing us. The words "We're losing," are not defeatist or unpatriotic. They are what's happening. They are the truth. And we're doing it not because of our brave soldiers, but because of incompetence, corruption, outsourcing to private security companies, failure to involve Iraqi companies in the rebuilding (therefore stimulating the Iraqi economy), lack of manpower, overstretching, and a general lack of freaking sense of anything. I'm sorry, but more people dying in more coordinated, smartly executed attacks does not mean we're winning.

There's a line from The Commanders, Bob Woodward's 1991 book on the Pentagon, where James Baker reflected that Bush Sr. had fully internalized the lessons of Vietnam, giving the military commanders whatever they asked for, and not forcing a combat strategy on them. In short, the opposite of his son and Don Rumsfeld, who pushed Tommy Franks into cutting, cutting, cutting (clearly demonstrated in Plan of Attack) the 2003 force. 1991=successful. 2006=near disaster. America needs to ask itself why that is.


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