Monday, August 22, 2005

Clinton's First Bombing

``There is no published evidence known to me of any effort by the Times to verify independently the Administration's specific claims against Iraq. No reporter, for example, has written of getting in touch with any of the many independent experts in electrical engineering and bomb forensics to ask what they thought of the photographs released by the White House.

When I asked seven such experts about those photographs last summer, they all told me essentially the same thing: the remote-control devices shown in the White House photographs were mass-produced items, commonly used for walkie-talkies and model airplanes and cars, and had not been modified in any significant way. The experts, who included former police and government contract employees and also professors of electrical engineering, agreed, too, that the two devices had no "signatures."´´

The date is not 2003. It's 1993. As an addledum to the analysis of the National Security Democrats, at long last, I just found Seymour Hersch's 1993 article on Saddam's alleged assassination attempt on Papa Bush (he "tried to kill my dad!"...).

Hersch not only dismantles the allegations, but exposes the bureaucratic forces in the background (and the punditocracy in the foreground) pushing for a retaliation, which Clinton finally ordered on 26 June 1993 - lobbing a couple of Tomahawks at Iraq, eight civilians killed for nothing.

If Clinton's 1998 Desert Fox attack was the prototype of Bush's 2003 Iraq war, this attack was the prototype of Desert Fox - preceded by claims from an enemy of Saddam taken at face value, a jury-rigged intel process, a media campaign of lies and spin, and domestic political calculation; executed in violation of US and international law (even had the allegations been true), followed by a complete lack of critical evaluation by the press; and hurting mostly Iraqi civilians.

It's a long article, but worth to read in full.

Theocracy In Iraq

Item 1: an article in the Guardian soj recommended, about the Sunni Arab town of Haditha - US soldiers look by once every few weeks, it is controlled by bloody talibanesque rebels, and that still with local support - and the reporter sensed a radicalisation of the locals, with past US and Iraqi government actions behind it. I note it's not much different in cities abadoned by the British in the South, ruled by Shi'a religious militias, and only slightly different in Kurdish-controlled areas. (BTW, also note speculations regarding the rebels' waiting for a Sunni/Shi'a civil war in the article - not based on actual facts. A bit of seeing what you want to see at work here.)

Item 2: Juan Cole and others kept convincing themselves that über-Ayatollah Sistani and parties allied to him are 'moderates', clinging to some press statements tailored for Western ears, and Sistani's statement that he doesn't want Khomeini's "guardianship of the jurisprudent" in Iraq.

My opinion was always that this is a self-delusion. Sistani's constitutional idea of a parliament whose members must be deferential to the rulings of their respective religious leaders, given Shi'a absolute majority, gives the clerics the same power in practice, even if they don't have an official title from the state and don't officially act as an instance above parliament, like the Guardian Council in Iran. But, now the Shi'a coalition goes for it all (via Billmon):

An agreement was reached that Islam is the religion of state, and that no law shall be enacted that contradicts the agreed-upon essential verities of Islam. Likewise, the inviolability of the highest [Shiite] religious authorities in the land is safeguarded, without any allusion to a detailed description . . . A Higher Council will be formed to review new legislation to ensure it does not contravene the essential verities of the Islamic religion.

Also, while I on this blog wrote about this a few times already, I see Billmon details how the situation is exactly the same in Afghanistan.

Support Your Troops
(and pull out only in stages...)

"When you go back to Camp Lejeune (in North Carolina), these will be the good old days, when you brought ... death and destruction to - what is this place called?"

A Marine answered in the darkness: "Haqlaniyah."

Estrada continued: "Haqlaniyah, yeah, that. And then we will take death and destruction to Haditha. Hopefully, we'll stay until December so we can bring death and destruction to half of Iraq."

The flatbed truck erupted in a storm of "Hoo-ahs."

Seen here. Support your troops, you support this. Want staged withdrawal, you want more of this.

Elsewhere, after the now familiar stuff about insufficient armour and a quagmire obvious to a soldier in Iraq:

As disturbing as those reports were, what Kulick had to say about the conduct of the war was even more troubling. He told his family that the Iraqi police "were corrupt and inept and there was no way they could ever train them to the degree where they could keep order." And when his unit went out after insurgents, far too many innocent iraqis were killed in the crossfire. And, Kulick reported home, "the more hate that created." When the Americans left an area, the insurgents came back the next day.

Eventually, when Kulick saw Iraqi citizens kneeling in the street in prayer, his interpreter would tell him they were praying for the Americans to leave. "They would rather live with evil they knew rather than live with us," Kulick said in his emails. "We were killing them as much as the insurgents were."

They were actually killing them more than the insurgents. John Kulick was one of the four Pennsylvania National Guards killed 9 August in an IED blast near Beiji, Iraq.