Friday, November 19, 2004

The Quirks Of History

Another intermission into posts on current affairs...

General Purpose History is always straightforward, with good guys and bad guys and clearly separate sides. Reality was never and is never like this. Some Westerners have trouble with denouncing WWII Allied atrocities like fire-bombing Dresden, or the massive and brutal ethnic cleansings by formerly Nazi-occupied Central and Eastern European countries, and never heard of the Cap Arcona disaster or its unfortunate connection to Dresden. Russians f.e. don't know much about Stalin's decision to let the Nazis crush the Warshaw uprising, or the mass rapings on the generals' order in Vienna or Berlin. Doug Merrill @ A Fistful Of Euros quotes an article about another forgotten incident of WWII that I just can't leave unmentioned:

Vlasov's forgotten army

Communists buried legacy of Soviet General Andrei Andreyevich Vlasov and his battalion of POWs that helped free Prague from the Nazis

...Nov. 14, 1944, in the Castle's Spanish Hall brought together Andrei Andreyevich Vlasov, a Soviet General (indeed the "Savior of Moscow," who had stopped the Nazi armies from taking that city three years earlier) and much of the Nazi upper echelon. Vlasov would convince the Nazis to back a plan he had devised -- a last-ditch effort to arm prisoners of war to battle Stalin's forces.

...When Vlasov took the podium he launched into an extraordinary manifesto of his own: of equality and democracy in the new Russia which would be liberated by his army... Vlasov had refused Himmler's demand to include "an unequivocal stand on the Jewish question." In fact not a single word in Vlasov's speech had referred to Hitler or to National Socialism.

...When news that Vlasov had a green light to form this new army circulated via Russian POWs' own newspaper, by the end of the month new recruits were signing up at a rate of up to 60,000 per day.

...Between that November and April of 1945, two divisions of "Vlasov's Army," more than 50,000 men, were formed, equipped and trained. Nine officers were Jews, concealed by Vlasov personally. Germany could not afford to equip and provide munitions for more men. This army had its own hospitals, training schools for officers, supply systems and air force. And on April 14, 1945, it was sent not to liberate Russia but to try to halt the Soviet advance across the Oder, only a few hours' drive from Berlin.

Seeing how hopeless, as well as pointless, the situation was for his force, Vlasov turned his men back and decided to march across Bohemia to get to Pilsen -- where he would deliver them as prisoners to the Americans, who were halted there. Stalin had already made it known that if any of Vlasov's men fell into his hands they would receive long and painful deaths.

The army stopped to regroup near Beroun, just a half-hour drive southwest of Prague. By now it was early May. Hitler had already committed suicide. On May 5, members of the Czech National Committee came out from Prague to see Vlasov. Their uprising against the Nazis had begun but the planned British weapons drop had not come. They did not know then that Stalin had stopped Churchill. Stalin's plan, as at Warsaw, was to wait and watch the patriots and the Nazis kill each other and destroy the city.

Eventually Vlasov was persuaded and by May 6 the First Division, 25,000 men with armor, set off in three columns to save the uprising -- and Prague. In 36 hours the Nazis had surrendered and the uprising had succeeded. What followed then was a betrayal by the Czech National Committee of the army that had rescued them, more betrayals by the Americans and the British and then the Soviet Army's arrival in Prague being heralded as the liberators of the city. Stalin saw to it that Vlasov's Army would never make the history books and few Czechs even today really know of its contribution. Even the little street plaques which list those patriots who fell at that spot during the Prague Uprising do not list Vlasov's men. Sometimes the plaques simply say "... and others." That's them.

European Interventions In Africa

Yesterday, Germany decided to help the intervention troops of the African Union sent into Darfur in Sudan with two Transall transport planes, secured with 200 troops. Too little too late, I'd say.

By the way, while the Darfur conflict is an ethnic one between cattle-herding and plant-growing Muslim tribes, the genocidal civil war in the South is also a religious one - and one for oil. This time, it is not the USA but China that is the main foreign party of oil development - which explains why it is China that consistently foiled strong UN Security Council resolutions on the matter of Sudan, the last time yesterday.

In the Ivory Coast, French-led UN troops (UNOCI) do this time what they refused to do in Bosnia (with the exception of an odd general, later dismissed) or Rwanda: prevent the breakout of another civil war. Or did they? The 'offensive' against the rebel North that included the bombing of a UN base, killing nine French blue helmets, had all the hallmarks of a conscious provocation - I can't imagine Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbago[*] wouldn't have had foreseen, and hence that he didn't calculate with French retaliation, especially considering what followed - the French leaders should have guessed that what will follow will be the instigation of anti-French riots, even if those were not only based on actual French military [both UN and other, already stationed there, with the excuse of the defense of 15,000 French expats] actions but false rumours too. The diplomatic intervention of the African Union (with Mbeki from South Africa) cooled down things a little, but this time the rebels refused peace talks, saying nothing will go with Gbago - which led to an UN SC decision on arms sanctions and a promise of travel bans on both sides earlier this week. So UN troops seem likely to be poised to keep apart the two sides under ever stronger rather than abating tensions. That is, they might fail.

Finally, there was the rather limited UN-authorised Franco-German intervention in the D.R. Congo/ex-Zaire, which failed to stop the killing outside of the occupied cities, until the African Union took over and expanded the mission (MONUC).

If European leaders really want the EU to become a military power with focus on peacekeeping and conflict prevention, they must do more than sending alibi contingents or coming after the USA left a big mess, as they did on the Balkans and parts of Afghanistan. Of course, as long as many European governments refuse to admit what most of their citizens can see, that their soldiering along the USA in Iraq has nothing to do with peacekeeping or conflict prevention, it's not even the meagre efforts of the Franco-German-Belgian euro-progressives that should count as the basis of our expectations about the EU as military power...

(And indeed, when I first posted this, I forgot about another European 'intervention' in Africa: the foiled coup against the government of oil-producing Equatorial Guinea organised by British ex-PM Margaret Thatcher's son Mark, something current British foreign minister Jack Straw knew about two months before the arrests, but did nothing.)

Really, the current crop of visionless conformists must go before Europe should risk significant development in this direction.

(In case you wonder, I am a sceptical liberal interventionist becoming ever more sceptical: it's one thing that I see the one in Iraq as none at all, the ones in Kosovo, Afghanistan as utter failures, and the ones in Bosnia and East Timor as a mess; and that I think at least the latter could have been much better executed - but another thing is whether there are decision-makers, or even if there could be decisionmakers who have the insight, the nerve and the control over subordinates to do it better.)

[*] In case you wonder why I don't see the story as evil colonial power vs. rightful leader trying to regain control of his country, and see Gbago as the main problem, despite significant French industrial interests there - a little background on the Ivory Coast conflict:

Like most West African countries, the Ivory Coast has a North-South Muslim-Christian divide, and ethnic divisions that have cross-border complications. Led by the same party from independence, the country was stable until the middle of the nineties, as exemplified by having a Southern President (Henri Konan Bédié) and a Northern PM (Alassane Dramane Ouattara). But the former started to play on divisions to push out power rivals. In December 1999, there was a military coup by general Robert Gueï, a Southerner, who promised new elections. He broke his promise to not enter the race himself. His most popular opponent was Ouattara, so Gueï also attempted to capitalise on divisions, all of them, barring Ouattara from the contest because he was allegedly born in a neighbouring country. (He in fact held a Burkina Faso passport when he was dissident some years earlier.) Also disqualified was Emile Bombet, candidate of the pre-coup ruling party, and a dozen other candidates, including all from the North - but Laurent Gbago, Southern candidate of the third largest party, and three more also-runs remained on the ballot. This led to widespread boycotts of the October 2000 Presidential elections. And here is the root of the current problems: Gueï lost these sham elections to Gbago.

When Gueï saw he is losing, he halted the count by sending the military against vote-counting officials, and declared himself winner. But Gbago's followers staged a successful revolution - and Gbago, then with the foolish support of the French government, declared himself President - only to have the followers of the barred candidates against him. Subsequently, Gbago used the same divisive tactics Gueï did (whom he gave immunity in return for Gueï's appeal to the Army to accept Gbago), also barring Ouattara and others again in Parliamentary elections December 2000 - January 2001. They lasted so long because of repeats, which failed to 'ride out' the almost total Northern boycotts (while boycotts by other parties meant low turnout in the South too). Conflict ensued, breaking into a civil war in September 2002 after a mutiny and failed coup, ended by French/UN intervention (Gbago was poised to lose militarily at this time) and French-brokered peace agreement in January 2003. The peace agreement prescribed a unified transitional government, UNOCI deployed in the summer of 2003 and with new elections timetabled for 2005. But Gbago didn't rest, for example after dispersing a peaceful street rally of Ouattara's followers in March 2004, police and militias staged night raids on organisers - killing about 120, leading to a four-month boycott of the nominally joint transitional government by the Northern rebels, ended at EU pressure.

Barroso's 'New' Team Approved By The EP

As I expected, the second time around, the big fractions of the EP didn't dare to vote down the new European Commission again - the symbolic victory and a small step forward in the respect of the EU's only democratically elected institution trumped the very principles called upon when they voted Barroso down the previous time: to have qualified commissioners.

While the European version of Ashcroft, Buttiglione, was removed, and Kovács, the Hungarian candidate was shifted fron the energy post to the taxes and customs post, and the Lithuaian candidate remained, four rather problematic candidates remained: the Danish and Dutch candidates, now responsible for agrarian issues resp. competition, both likely to be corrupt and non-independent; and the Greek and Cypriot candidates, responsible for the environment resp. health care and consumer protection, both of whom are unqualified and coming from fields with opposed interests (the latter was finance minister at home!...). A first sign that this could be done is what has been done about the Dutch candidate (Tobias @ A Fistful Of Euros writes about it).

Well, the EU always advanced in small steps. The Consitution and its changed rules are coming [Lithuania already signed it]; in the meantime, I hope the Parliament will get on the neck of the above listed idiots on ocassion of at least some issues.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

So Many Lies, Some Go Unnoticed

To describe the level of lies and spins surrounding the Iraq war, 'Orwellian' might no longer be a strong enough term. Below are three that failed to get the attention of even most critics due to greater outrages.

First let's read these lines, splattered all across the news last week resp. three weeks ago:

"Associated Press
Nov. 9, 2004 08:50 AM
WASHINGTON - Eleven U.S. troops were killed in Iraq Monday, the highest single day death toll in the country in more than six months, officials said." [Source]

"BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 30 - Eight marines were killed and nine others wounded west of the capital on Saturday when a suicide car bomb rammed into their convoy... The Marines later reported a ninth combat death on Saturday... The number of American troops killed Saturday was the highest in a single day since May 2, when nine troops died in attacks across the country." [Source]

Now this is scandalous to troops-loving Americans, especially those who realise just for what these soldiers died. But there is another scandal of hiding casualty levels - the Army does it by releasing casualty reports with different delays and in a chaotic manner (some announcements are made by CENTCOM, others by DoD, still others by the local command...); the media does it by not adding up. For, there were single days with higher casualties than these which didn't make it into the headlines, or even the footnotes:

  • 9th November: just the day after the headline-making day, 14 died. (And 11 US deaths again on the 12th, and 12 deaths on the 15th.)
  • 14th September: 10 died.
  • 6th September: 12 died; I wrote about it when 10 were announced.

Second, there was much outrage about the execution of a wounded Iraqi lying on the floor, also of the open justification of it by fellow Marines, but only a few noted that contrary to what most of the media repeated without thinking or checking, the executed was not the only executed, and probably not a fighter. He was not only not armed. He was the last survivor of a different Marine unit's assault on this mosque, an assault that killed ten people inside - that unit left behind the five wounded survivors on the floor. One died until this second unit came the next day:

A marine who emerged from the mosque told an inquiring lieutenant that people had been shot inside. When the lieutenant asked if the people were armed, the soldier just shrugged, Sites said. Once inside the mosque, the NBC correspondent said he saw five injured Iraqi prisoners who had been left behind on Friday, four of whom had been shot again. [APF report]

The troops knew they were in there before they walked in, weapons down. Watch the tape. One of the soldiers clearly says "these are the injured", so they also knew that some of them were still alive. The reporter also notes that the troops knew the injured Iraqis were left there by other soldiers the day before. Add dereliction of the duty of care to prisoners, who cannot simply be left to die, to the charge of murder. [Ron F @ Lenin's Tomb, Comments]

Third, there was much talk about the sky-high hypocrisy of justifying the invasion of Fallujah with the presence of Zarkawi, something they didn't even care to prove with phoney evidence (like they did for WMD, let's not forget another stellar performance by our supposed friend, supposed moderate, outgoing Secretary Of State Colin Powell) - and then shrugging that he 'probably left' before the invasion. But Eli at Left I reminds us that the percentage of foreign fighters among those detained in Fallujah is less than the percentage of non-US fighters in the US armed forces...

Most people have been by now that only 20 out of more than 1000 insurgents captured in Fallujah were non-Iraqis. For reference, the U.S. Army has 500,000 active-duty troops, and 31,000 members of the U.S. Armed Forces (all services) are not U.S. citizens. I couldn't come up with the size of the Air Force and Marines, but assuming another 250,000 troops, that's 4% of the U.S. armed forces, more than twice the percentage of "foreign fighters" found in Fallujah. Of course, all of the 10,000 U.S. troops who bombed and invaded Fallujah were "foreign fighters."

Rule Of Law

The only law that ruled under Saddam: accept the authority or you're arrested/killed.

Under Allawi and Negroponte and Bush, the same law is the only one that rules.

It's not just what they do using armed resistance as an excuse, but the arrest of political opponents.

In the last week or two, it wasn't only the anti-occupation Sunni group Association of Muslim Scholars whose members were arrested without charges. There was, for example, a (non-Sadrist [UPDATE: by other accounts, a splintered Sadrist, i.e. not allegiated to Muqtada]) Shi'a cleric in Karbala, who after criticising Sistani's position, got his office searched and then blown up. After the major Sunni Arab party in the US puppet government, the Iraqi Islam Party, left the government in protest of the Grosny-isation of Fallujah (something they didn't do during this April's Sarajevo-isation of Fallujah), they arrested several members.

Among them, Allawi's Sunni deputy PM, a story followed by Josh Narins and no one else (not the media, not the main bloggers).

UPDATE 19/11: Reuters now has a longer story on it, quoted at Under The Same Sun. Apparently, he is not deputy PM but deputy head of the sham National Assembly, and he wasn't detained by Allawi's thugs but US troops!... Yet some people who should know better are still under the illusion that the coming Iraqi elections will have anything more to do with democracy than the elections held in Soviet-occupied Central-Eastern Europe after WWII - for example Juan "Fallujah Destruction Was Legal" Cole...

UPDATE 19/11: Guardian and James @ Dead Men Left also picked up on the story; the latter noting that Naseer Ayaef, due to his position, is supposed to have immunity under the provisional legal code.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

It's Official: US Democratic Party Commits Suicide

Apparently, those who think the losing strategy of pandering to the right should be continued are still at the helm - Left I quotes a NYT article:

"He is a teetotaling Mormon, a former Capitol Hill police officer who opposes abortion and was a cosponsor of the constitutional amendment banning flag-burning...Yet for all that, Senator Harry Reid of about to become the new Senate minority leader."

After Saddam's Mass Graves, Allawi's/Bush's Mass Graves

As Juan Cole hints at it too, the US refuses to let the Red Crescent convoy into Fallujah party because it wants to bury the dead - filling mass graves without informing relatives, just like Saddam. (Well, they didn't do it for the first time at all; I remember German SPIEGEL TV's images from Baghdad in April 2003, when a lone US soldier is looking on while Iraqis unearth corpses of relatives, corpses his comrades killed in battle and buried the day before.)

BTW, here is another good article on the history of Fallujah, this time back into British colonialist times.

Hungarian Soldiers Leave/Don't Leave Iraq

My home country Hungary, as member of the Coalition Of The Bribed & Blackmailed (& Foolish), sent 300 military truck drivers to Iraq last year. You shouldn't think their participation is insignificant, after all they remained to drive convoys when most civilian trucking contractors pulled out. As for the nature of their work, even until early summer this year, 95% of their transports were for fellow CotW/CotBB(&F) troops - humanitarian, helping democracy, gimme a break...

Now, for the political background, troop deployment needs 2/3 support in Parliament, to be renewed each year. That means it needs votes from both the nominally leftist government parties (the - to outsiders unlikely - coalition of ex-reformed-communists and ex-liberal-oppositionaries, who seem closer to a Western European centre-right party) and the nominally right-wing parties (a populist party that - again to outsiders unlikely - is led by ex-liberal yuppies but integrated the far right, and a small party of old conservatives with pre-WWII flair).

In June 2003, all parties voted yes. (A little background: the present opposition, which was in power until 2002, viewed Bush's election tactics and power style as one of their role models - Berlusconi was another, Tudjman yet another, you can guess it -, but the love affair ended in a funny way. To pre-empt the accusation of corruption in a fighter plane tender - a scandal exposing an all too cozy relationship of party members with Lockheed already broke -, they decided for the better Swedish-British offer rather than the F-16. But Bush responded with diplomatic Ice Age, shutting the door on our PM when he went to Washington for his pre-election photo-ops, and giving US diplomats free hand to thematise unchecked anti-semitism in Hungary. So in 2003, right-wingers being right-wingers, they probably didn't want trouble from Big Brother again...)

In November 2003, three parties voted yes on the extension into 2004, but the paleoconservatives witheld votes.

This year, our new PM (Gyurcsány replaced Medgyessy after a coup in the Socialist party) sensed that the public's opposition can't be resisted much further, and the opposition could finally take up that position - so he devised a trick: he proposed an extension of only three months, and tried to sell it as an 'early' pullout (and that's how it came across in most of the Western press). Gyurcsány also hoped that the opposition will fear a similar self-defeat as a few weeks before, when they first voted down the long-awaited law on ending conscription, but upon realising that they lost overnight masses of young voters, voted for it when presented to Parliament again just a week later. Yet the public wasn't fooled, and this only emboldened the opposition (sometimes even those I despise do something good) - and the three-month extension went down with a sub-2/3 majority of 191:159 yesterday evening.

However, that's not the end of the story. While in the panic of the defeat, our ever more silly-sounding defense minister called the decision "unpatriotic and bad" (unpatriotic???) [for Hungarian speakers and those with a translation software, good op-ed in Hungarian], an apparent brainstorming session by the tormented guards of our vassaldom under the Second Warshaw Pact produced first results:

  • (A) So OK, the mandate ends on 31 December 2004, but pullout isn't covered! Deployment took two months, pullout will take three...
  • (B) Troop deployment at NATO request doesn't need Parliament approval - so if, as it looks likely, NATO will be shoved into approving a deployment of a police/army training base to Iraq, Hungary will join that!...

...and so the merry Coalition Of The Bribed, Blackmailed & Foolish will soldier on a few more months with token units for nowhere to be seen benefits, either for us or the Iraqis.

Submarines And The Western Front

This post is a little break in the regular broadcast on current affairs...

On the question of why it took until the summer of 1944 for Britain and the USA to open a Western front against Nazi Germany, it is often claimed that the submarine attacks on Allied transport ships hindered the buildup of an invasion force and delayed the Western front two years.

I did some research, and this claim doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

The U-Boot war during WWII can be roughly separated into three phases. The first was when Britain practically stood alone, the second phase was when Britain and the USA joined forces to organise logistics and the future Western front, and the third phase was when the naval war against the Allied merchant fleet was practically lost, with only ocassional sinkings by and lots of losses for the U-boats. The end of the second phase can easily be put at May 1943, after which attacks on the Atlantic were even ceased for a few months. But the first and second phases are less clearly delineated: one could argue for the beginning of 1942, when the Allies became Allies and the opening of the Western front was promised to Stalin; or the end of 1941, when the USA entered war; or autumn 1941, when the US Congress and Senate authorised the participation of US transport ships in transatlantic military supply convoys (thereby increasing total transport capacity).

Ironically, the argument about the significance of the U-boat war rests on the same overt focus on sunk ship tonnage vs. newly built ship tonnage totals that the German leadership had. This overlooks a lot of significant details.

First, let it be noted that German captains and thus the German command significantly (in some years by 60%) overestimated their successes, but their figures get quoted unresponsibly. Or, quoted are Allied ship loss totals, which included losses to collisions, storms etc. too. (I use figures of an 1961 tally based on comparison of British and German sources by a German historian.) Second, while it is true that Allied new ship production surpassed losses to the war on their transport ships only in the second half of 1942, the merchant fleet also had other sources of growth: acquiring the ships of previously neutral countries. For example, in 1940, the Norwegian king ordered the Norwegian merchant fleet (4.2 million BRT in total) to sail into British ports - more than two-thirds did, and their volume total alone exceeded British losses until the spring of 1941. Thus in fact British/Allied transport capacity steadily grew even until the second half of 1942. Third, the decrease in transport capacity would have been only the first sign that Nazi Germany gets anywhere closer to its goal of starving Britain from its supplies - not of significant losses already.

Indeed, for the question of how much the preparation of the invasion was delayed, it's not transport capacity but trasported volume that's important - and more ignored points abound. For, while in the second phase, U-boats often sunk more than a hundred ships a month, in excess of 500,000 BRTs, this phase was also the time when U-boats were first sent out to the US coast and later the Southern seas - sinking lots of ships on coastal routes, or neutral ships (for example, Brazil entered the war on the Allied side because of such attacks) - neither of which can be viewed as even indirectly significantly impending the preparations of a European land invasion. In truth, throughout the first two phases, Nazi submarines never managed to sink more than 65-70 transport ships on transatlantic routes a month (the mean was around 40, some 250,000 BRT), equivalent to about two average convoys (the mean = to a bit more than one) - while in the spring of 1941 already, more than 50 convoys crossed the Atlantic a month!

However, what if we take the hypothetical best-case scenario, that is (1) British/Allied ship-building would have been stepped up just as much had there been no war on their transport ships, and that (2) all of these newly built and 'unsunk' ships could have been filled with materials to transport, and that (3) all 'unsunk' coastal and neutral ships would have been diverted for transatlantic transports?

According to my calculations, at no point during the second phase could transport capacity have been greater than what it was in reality by more than 20%. As for the first phase, the 'gain' of the hypothetical case would have been greater towards the end - some 30%: losses of more than 6 million BRT vs. an active fleet of more than 20 million BRT - but the aggregate transported volume 'gain' would only have been less than half of that over this period. Yet again, if we move further away from reality, and compare the two scenarios (with or without an U-boat war on the merchant fleet) had the US not joined the European war actively, Britain's war efforts would have been significantly delayed.

So as a conclusion, I think the Soviet charge that the Western front was delayed two years in the hope that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union would weaken each other rings truer. But the argument about Churchill's fear of repeating Gallipolli also caries weight - i.e. that Churchill wanted a very thorough preparation to avoid failure, which - witness the Americans at Omaha beach - was probably necessary for victory. On the other hand, the U-boat campaign's strategic 'success' was comparable to the 'success' of Allied bomb raids on German cities, which failed to impede production significantly or break war morale.

Back to regular broadcast...

Another Prediction Cometh True

As insurgents recently took over, among a lot of other cities, Mosul (see photos at Raed's blog), it is rarely noted that this was predicted - for example, by the Canadian journalist I quoted two months ago - Scott Taylor, who has been abducted by the resistance in the Iraqi Turkmen city of Tal Afar during its first siege by the US:

...I can tell you, Mosul's about to blow. The resistance can operate with impunity, and is growing, and the Americans don't have the numbers to cope … what was once 22,000 soldiers in the area with the 82nd Airborne has now been whittled down to just 6,000 soldiers with this replacement Stryker Brigade. So they're stretched too thin to deal with the coming major insurgency.

The Americans are in fact almost invisible – you don't see them on the streets of Mosul. They've ceded the underground control of the city to various factions of rebels, who are all working together, exchanging weapons, intel, hostages, etc...

Altough US propaganda and clueless journalists try to paint it as if there is a clear-cut Arab/Kurd conflict in the city, let's note that one of the strongest and most cruel fractions of the anti-occupation forces in Iraq, the Sunni fundamentalist group Ansar-e-Islam, resides in the city and is Kurdish. Now, Mosul is not a city of 300,000 but 3,000,000 - it is home to more than 10% of Iraq's population (and voters). But I don't think that will hold back the Americans from destroying this city, too. (Current 'tally': Nassiriyah, Fallujah 2x, Najaf 2x, Tal Afar, Samarrah...)

As for Fallujah, some pictures and some more [last few] at Raed - and look again at the second picture here, nothing learnt since Abu Ghraib.

As for elsewhere, noteworthy are shootings between Iraqi police and army in Karbala, curfew in Najaf, and some parts of Baghdad [first few images] openly controlled by the resistance.

Also, as Iraqi police are fired by the thousands (again via Raed), we read this euphemistic comment from a US army spokesperson on their Iraqi puppet's takeover of police recruiting and training:

The Iraqis have their own methods of recruiting police officers that might fall short of U.S. civil rights standards, but they are proving effective, according to Bradley.

'Effective', like Saddam's police...