Iraq


Another Iraq Perspective

General Michael Sullivan sends "another perspective on Iraq without the doom sayers. For those of you dismayed by the frenzy in Washington, this upbeat assessment of the war in Iraq may be encouraging. The author, for what it's
worth, is a Yale classmate of John Kerry. In real life, he is an expert on pension funds, used (I would say) to taking the long view. I like the very last paragraph.
The link is here: http://members.tripod.com/stromata/index.htm

May 26, 2004 Having spent several days in the mountains - great terrain for taking long views - I returned late yesterday and began catching up on the state of the world. My conclusion, as I filter the stream of current data
through a cleansed and relaxed mental apparatus, is that future historians (assuming that we are lucky enough to have any) will regard the past month as one of the most absurd periods ever in the history of extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds.

This is the month in which Left, Right and Center have formed a consensus that the American effort to rebuild Iraq is already, or almost certainly will be, a failure. "Everybody" knows, with everybody's unshakeable certainty, that only a drastic change of course can right the situation.Yet, so far as I can tell from reading about what is actually occurring on the ground, the only thing that has gone wrong is that nobody believes that anything is going right.

Iraqis are not rising up in mass protest against the occupying powers. The "insurgents" are winning no battles, occupying no territory and inflicting far less than a bearable level of casualties. The Ba'athist stronghold of
Fallujah has fallen silent, while the "Mahdi Army" is being strangled in its few remaining lairs. The local economy is steadily recovering from decades of misrule. Civil society is recovering even faster, as shown by the proliferation of print and electronic news media. The transition to self-rule is moving forward, with an interim government scheduled to take office at the end of June, preparatory to elections early next year.

The negatives are minor: American guards mistreating captive terrorists (to scarcely a squeak of protest from the "Iraqi street"); continued small-scale attacks by old regime diehards and imported Islamofascists. It would be
wonderful if all of our soldiers were angels and our enemies would give up without a fight, but we can cope with the realities. Prison supervision can be improved, and the enemy, vastly outnumbered and bereft of popular support, has no route to military victory.

If all this is "failure", what would be necessary for "success"? That all enemy activity magically cease? By that standard, the Normandy landings were a failure, since Nazi Germany kept on fighting, and the Allies suffered
immense casualties and numerous local defeats, for almost a year. Likewise, the North had obviously lost the Civil War at every moment up to April 1865; after all, the Confederate Army was still in the field.

If a large portion of the American press in 1944 had believed that preventing Franklin Roosevelt's reelection was a higher priority than dealing with Adolf Hitler, the papers probably would have been full of gloom. The D-Day invasion rapidly fell far behind schedule. When the Allies finally broke out of Normandy, their logistical preparations proved
inadequate. Their military commanders quarreled and blundered. Liberated Frenchmen committed atrocities against alleged collaborators. Then came the German counterattack in the Ardennes, for which General Eisenhower and his
subordinates were entirely unprepared. It would have been easy to declare, as two U.S. regiments surrendered to the Panzers on the Schnee Eifel, that the war in Europe had been thoroughly mismanaged and the Allied coalition
urgently needed an "exit strategy". Perhaps the League of Nations could
offer a face-saving avenue of retreat.

The difference between then and now is that there were real defeats and disasters in 1944, and there is none worthy of attention in 2004. The Coalition and its Iraqi friends are not merely winning; they are winning without breaking into a sweat. At least some of the Angry Left seem to recognize this fact, if only at a subconscious level. Their rhetorical absurdities, such as Al Gore's rant today at NYU, are not signs of confidence but upswellings of a subliminal fear that Demon Bush will be vindicated in the end.

Were I a Presidential advisor, my counsel would be to ignore the hysteria in the media. It has not infected the two groups that matter most: our soldiers in the theater and the Iraqi people themselves. The ears of the American
public are being assailed by idiotarians and people are bound to be impressed for a while, but, as the months go by and Iraq continues to progress, today's wild fears will fade and be forgotten".

RH: Al Gore's s`peech was the usual attack on Bush, buy it was not a rant.

General Michael Sullivan forwarded with commendation an optimistic report on Iraq. General Robert Gard comments: "I find the optimistic report on Iraq fanciful. We were to be greeted by flowers and sweets; we lost about 150 killed in the conventional war to seize Baghdad; we are now over 800 killed, and many thousands wounded. If it isn't a quagmire, we need some new term to describe the same thing". RH: I have just listened to the upbeat speech which Secretary of War Rumsfeld gave to the graduating class at West Point. He spoke very well, but he made no reference to the `problems faced in Iraq. Instead the described the bravery of one officer who was wounded while saving his men. He said that in the afternoon he would attend the dedication of the World War II memorial in Washington, DC. I wonder what he and the cadets were really thinking.

Bert Westbrook writes: "I appreciate hearing the military view on these matters, so allow me to sharpen the question between Generals Sullivan and Gard a bit. I think almost everyone would concede that it would have been good to have a broader coalition, and an explicit UN resolution authorizing the use of force, and the like. But, given the failure to reach consensus on the diplomatic plane, and in full view of the fact that the Rubicon has indeed been crossed, do the Generals or any other WAIS military experts believe that it would have been safer to follow one of these options:

(1) Keep the 200,000 plus troops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (for how long?) while the U.N. inspections continued? What would the risks of an attack on U.S. troops be? What would the chances be that UN inspections, carried out under such circumstances, did not resolve the proliferation issues? How would such action play out in the larger conflict with terrorism (recall bin Laden's original complaint about U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia)? Rephrased, after the escalating attacks of the last few decades, could this be conceived as a containment issue?

(2) Withdraw the troops from the Gulf, presumably once again ending the U.N. inspections? Perhaps also lift the sanctions, and concede defeat?
What are the chances of proliferation under these circumstances? How would such action play out in the larger conflict with terrorism?

(3) Was there some other practical _military_ option that I've not heard? What are the risks associated with such an option?

David Westbrook asked if there was an alternative in Iraq. General Robert Gard replies: "Yes, there was another far more sensible option. Don't deploy 200,000 troops to the area. A much smaller number, perhaps just more aircraft
(remember Kosovo?), could have exerted enough pressure on Iraq to allow the inspections and containment of Iraq to continue. Even Pollack, the ex CIA analyst who wrote the book on the case for invading Iraq, said that we could/should have waited a year. That would have allowed the diplomatic process more time and prevented alienating our major allies. Unfortunately, the neo-cons had their agenda, which was contained in open letters in '96 and '98. Too bad the President took their advice instead of paying attention to what his father had said about not wanting to get bogged down in Iraq".

From Greece, Harry Papasotiriou writes: "It seems to me that the Iraq war makes sense only in the context of a long-term committment to a) change the behavior of Mid-Eastern regimes, so that they become more active in neutralizing al Qaeda's recruitment and funding in their territories, b) end WMD programs in the region (even though there is a contradictiion with acquiescing in Israel's WMD arsenal), and c) encourage Arab reforms in a modernizing direction. But if the United States becomes panicky after a mere 800 casualties and can think only of an exit strategy, rather than seeing this venture through with a long-term committment, then perhaps the whole venture was not worth it. It most probably did swell al Qaeda's recruitment, which is a short-term cost worth bearing, but only for the sake of dealing crippling blows in the longer run at the sources and roots of Islamist fundamentalist terrorism.

Part of the present problem is that the neo-conservatives seem to have had absurdly simplistic notions about the ease with which they would bring about a transformation of Iraq on the German and Japanese model of 1945. Had they been more realistic about the risks and likely complications inherent in such a venture, they would have been better prepared to deal with the occupation and would have better prepared American public opinion for the likely burdens of this endeavor. Indeed, some of the worst risks of the Iraq war that I had warned about in a WAIS message at the time of the start of the war have not yet materialised, which from my realist perspective means that the venture is not going too badly thus far.

Regarding American politics, I find Kerry's positions on Iraq very responsible. But his liberal surrogates do seem to be spreading alarmism, which may well help defeat Bush but does complicate the Iraq endeavor. Harry Papasotiriou
I copy my message from 13 March 2003:

One particularly thorny issue concerning a post-Saddam Iraqi democracy is related to the fact, that over 60% of the population is Shiite Arab, while the rest is divided between Suni Arabs and Suni Kurds (and some lesser groups). What if the Shiite majority attempts to take over and establish an Iranian-type regime? Moreover, Iraqi turmoil could well affect the substantial Shiite minorities in Kuweit and Saudi Arabia (in the latter case located in the Saudi kingdom's oil-rich eastern provinces). To secure the stability of the region, Bush would need to keep large forces in Iraq and democratize very gradually - beginning with local elections. But a prolonged American military presence is likely to anger the so called "Arab street" and fuel anti-Americanism in the region. This is not to suggest that the whole project is wrong, only to point out the substantial risks involved".

How long should the US stay in Iraq?

As for the length of time US troops should sat in Iraq,Tom Moore suggested six months rather than the two years proposed by Leslie Gelb. Harry Papasotiriou says: "Six decades may well turn out to be a more accurate prediction of the length of the US military presence in Iraq, though of course not as an occupying force but rather in the manner of US troops in South Korea". Tom now comes back:

"The comparison with South Korea is misleading. The Korean war kept South Korea free and turned back the aggression of the North. South Korea wanted our troops to stay to deter the North from attacking again. In Iraq we are the aggressor. Iraqi public opinion is totally against us. The latest polls show that something like 80 percent of the public want us out. The only way we will stay six decades is by force. If we are to insist on establishing a friendly democracy we will be there even longer, in fact for ever. It is only a case of when not whether we will have to pull out. The sooner, the less carnage on both sides. We should declare victory -- after all our objective was regime change and we have accomplished that plus we have eliminated the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction -- and go home. We could put it to a vote in Iraq and then go home. Any government we establish there will want us out as soon as possible".

How long should US troops stay in Iraq? Tom Moore says_ "Fixing a date certain is a good idea, but two years is too long. I would say six months, and we be out of there by the first of next year. If the Iraqis can get their act together in that time fine, If not, so be it". RH: It seems to me that the stability of Iraq is important to the world, not just to the US. If Iraq fell into chaos, it could unleash a tsunami throughout the region. That may happen, but we should not facilitate it.

David Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, writes: "In response to your comment, it is very difficult to argue under the circumstances that US troops are bringing stability to Iraq. It appears to me that it is just the opposite. The presence of our troops in Iraq is the cause of increased chaos and instability in Iraq. The Prime Minister designate, who has a long history with the CIA, is also unlikely to be welcomed by the Iraqis and likely to bring further discord and chaos. It is extremely pathetic to now hear Bush, Cheney and other members of this administration, who ran roughshod over the United Nations and international law in pursuit this illegal war, talking about internationalizing the forces in Iraq. I think Tom Moore's six month goal should be an outside estimate, and sooner would be better. Then, at least, people will be able to hold wedding parties in Iraq without being bombed by US forces. There is no honor in this war and Bush's rhetoric of "staying the course" suggests only more illegality, more murder and degradation of Iraqis, more profits for Halliburton, and more humiliation and shame for America throughout the world".

IRAQ: The Ahmad Chalabi matter

Virginia Abernethy forwards this article from The Guardian (5/29/04). For the full text, see
http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1227334,00.html. Here is an excerpt:

When the full history of the Iraq war is written, the most scandalous chapter may be about how American journalists, in particular those at the New York Times, allowed themselves to be so easily manipulated by both Ahmad Chalabi, an
Iraqi exile with his own virulently pro-war agenda, and the Bush White House. Even before the latest suspicions that Chalabi may have been sending US secrets to Iran, a reporter trying to convince an editor that the smooth-talking
exile was a credible source had a difficult case to make.

The former head of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) was a convicted criminal. In exile, he was accused of embezzling millions from his Petra Bank in Amman, Jordan. Chalabi left the country in the boot of a car but was convicted in absentia and faces 22 years in prison if he returns. He has always maintained that his prosecution was political. Shortly after his 1989 escape from Jordan, Chalabi made contact with CIA operatives who funnelled an estimated $100m to the INC, culminating in a failed 1996 takeover of Iraq by Kurdish forces.

Chalabi, who studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, cultivated the image of a well-informed leader seeking justice for his people, but he was a well-known player and the darling of Richard Perle and his fellow neocon
hawks. He would not have survived a background check for a job at Slim's Used Cars, and was viewed with deep suspicion by the CIA and the State Department; but he was good enough as a source for the New York Times, the Washington Post and other news outlets, all of whom burned their reputations on Chalabi's pyre of lies.

Judith Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and authority on the Middle East for the NYT, appears to have been the most reliant on Chalabi. In an email exchange with the NYT's Baghdad bureau chief John Burns, Miller said Chalabi "had provided most of the front page exclusives for our paper". She later said that this was an exaggeration, but in an earlier interview with me, Miller did not discount the value of Chalabi's insight. "Of course, I talked with
Chalabi," she said. "But he was just one of many sources I used."

Miller refused to say who those other sources were but, at Chalabi's behest, she interviewed various defectors from Saddam Hussein's regime, who claimed without substantiation that there was still a clandestine WMD programme
operating inside Iraq. US investigators now believe that Chalabi sent these same Iraqi expatriates to at least eight Western spy agencies as part of a scheme to convince them to overthrow Saddam. If spies wanted a trophy to show what happens when their craft is perfectly executed, it would be a story written by Judith Miller on the front page of the New York Times on a Sunday morning in September 2002. She wrote that an intercepted shipment of aluminum tubes, to be used for centrifuges, was evidence that Saddam was building a uranium gas separator to develop nuclear material. The story had an enormous impact, one amplified when national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Vice-President Dick Cheney all did appearances on the Sunday-morning talk shows, citing the first-rate journalism of the liberal NYT. No single story did more to advance the neoconservative cause.

But Miller's story was wrong. The aluminum tubes were covered with an anodised coating, which rendered them useless for a centrifuge, according to a number of scientists who spoke publicly after Miller's story. The tubes, in fact, were almost certainly intended for use as rocket bodies. The probable source for Miller's story, in addition to US intelligence, was Adnan Ihsan Saeed, an Iraqi defector Miller was introduced to by Chalabi. Miller had quoted him in a December 2001 report, when Saeed had told her he had worked on nuclear operations in Iraq and that there were at least 20 banned-weapons facilities undergoing repairs. Of course, no such facilities have been found, forcing the conclusion that Saeed was either lying or horribly uninformed.

"I had no reason to believe what I reported was inaccurate," Miller told me. "I believed the intelligence I had. We tried really hard to get more information and we vetted information very, very carefully." A few months after the
aluminum tubes story, a former CIA analyst explained to me how simple it had been to manipulate the correspondent and her newspaper".

RH: The story is so confused that we should hesitate to condemn the journalists or their newspapers.

Herb Abrams says,"The story on Chalabi in the Guardian (5/24/04) may have been "confused" but factually it was on the mark. As for Judith Miller and the New York Times reports, they were made to measure to support the Bush, Cheney, Powell extravagant claims to justify the invasion of Iraq. Miller was embedded with the 75th Exploitation Task Force searching for WMD throughout the war in Iraq. The tone, atmospherics, content, hyperbolic cast and headlines of her many dispatches were enough to convince 35% of the public that WMD had already been found, when in fact nothing significant was documented even during the following 12 months of continuing search. It was not that Miller created the news she reported but rather that she conveyed images that were unwarranted by the fragility and self-interestedness of her sources. Perhaps her articles were less deliberate sham than enthusiastic spin" RH. What is the world coming to? The "liberal"New York Times accused of unwittingly carrying propaganda for President Bush and the neo-cons?.

IRAQ: The Ahmad Chalabi matter

Here, abridged, is a commentary on the case of Ahmad Chalabi, whose alleged ties with Iran have been a subject of fierce debate; "Ahmad Chalabi is complex and brilliant [Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Chicago], and this e-mail's many parts also are complex. Last night [Sunday] he made the rounds of talk shows, including Tim Russert and CNN. The short note which I have copied from The American Conservative gives a perspective on Chalabis' future that is not apparent in Steve Sniegoski's introduction. One of Chalabis' nephews is the Coalition-approved Minister of Finance and hangers-on are in various other official positions in the nascent Iraqi authority.

Neoconservative Douglas Feith, whose sister still lives in Israel, is head of the Defense Department's Office of Special Plans [OSP] under Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld. AIPAC, where Dan
Senor did an internship, is acknowledged to be the largest lobbying group in the United States".

From the American Conservative [May 24, 2004, p.19].]

Friends of Israel are turning up in the strangest places. Dan Senor, Press Spokesman for Iraq occupation head Paul Bremer, is a former American Israel Public Affairs Committee intern who was widely perceived as a strong advocate of Israel when he served as deputy in the White House press office. Ahmad Chalabi, anointed by the Pentagon as Iraq's ruler-to-be, is also reported to be a man who knows how to help a friend, particularly when the friend is Ariel Sharon. Though many observers would blame Chalabi for the bad advice that has led to the current mayhem that is tearing Iraq apart, Chalabi's nephew Salem has now been place in charge of the trial of Saddam Hussein. Salem is a partner in the law firm Zell and Feith, which is based in Jerusalem. Zell is a West Bank settler and Feith is our own highly esteemed Douglas Feith, who occasionally masquerades as Undersecretary of Defense for Planning. With Salem on board, the neocons and the Chalabi family will undoubtedly be pleased with the trial's outcome. Since the court proceeding is taking shape as an American-Israeli joint venture to benefit the Chalabis, there is speculation regarding Ahmad's enduring hold over the notoriously fickle affections of his neocon friends. There are rumors that the deservedly moribund pileline project to send Iraqi oil to Haifa may again be on the table.

[from Steve Sniegoski] Friends, Chalabi’s Downfall: Who Was Conned?

Many commentators are laughing over the alleged naivete of the neocons for relying on Chalabi’s lies. And now we find out that he was collaborating with the Iranians. According to this line of reasoning (unreasoning?), Chalabi conned the naïve neocons. As John Dizard, puts it: "When the definitive history of the current Iraq war is finally written, wealthy exile Ahmed Chalabi will be among those judged most responsible for the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein." Such a "definitive history" presumably would be one that left out the neocons.

Here is my take on the Chalabi issue. Obviously, the neocons did not opt for war because they believed Chalabi. Rather, the neocons wanted the US to go to war against Iraq and used Chalabi as their instrument. The crooked Chalabi had his personal interests for desiring Saddam replaced—so he could takeover Iraq. For the neocons, Chalabi could be presented as the Iraqi resistance. Obviously, Chalabi’s lies helped to advance the neocon cause. No other expert ever believed Chalabi, so it is hard to believe that the neocons put stock in his stories. But Chalabi’s lies about Saddam’s WMD, which the neocons spread in the Bush administration, served to advance their war agenda.

Chalabi always had many enemies in the US government who viewed him as a crook. Julian Coman and Philip Sherwello points out that the CIA is now taking revenge. Remember that Chalabi had produced the bogus intelligence propaganda for the Office of Special Plans. "Created by Paul Wolfowitz, with the blessing of the Vice-President, Dick Cheney, the OSP soon rivalled the CIA as Mr Bush's main source of information concerning Iraq's possible weapons of mass destruction. Its very existence was intended as a damning indictment of CIA intelligence-gathering techniques."

Chalabi was only able to succeed because he was championed by the neocons. Chalabi promised to create an Iraq that would be pro-Israel. Had the neocons not been deluded by gross ignorance of the Arab world and blinded by wishful thinking, they would have realized that the chances that Chalabi or any other Iraqi leader could deliver on such promises were always remote. But while the neocons undoubtedly would have liked a pro-Israel Iraq, I think they did realize that this achievement was highly improbable. However, they were quite willing to accept the destabilization of Iraq, which can lead to their World War IV scenario—US vs. Islam. The "Clean Break" policy paper for Netanyahu in 1996, which was authored by Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, and David Wurmser among others, explicitly argued the destabilization theme. http://www.israeleconomy.org/strat1.htm http://www.irmep.org/Policy_Briefs/3_27_2003_Clean_Break_or_Dirty_War.html

John Kofas writes: "I find fascinating the facts and the analysis of Ahmad Chalabi's role with U.S. and Israel. Apparently, the nexus between neo-conservatives and Tel Aviv is much deeper and wider than I had ever thought. Chalabi will continue to claim media attention for some time. Journalists may eventually find out much of what has been going on between him American neo-cons and Tel Aviv. I hope that they also find out as much information on Israel's covert role before the Iraq invasion and during the occupation. Several years ago, I believe it was in 1997, Harvard University hosted an international conference where the role of the U.S. in the world was the topic. Samuel Huntington observed that the participants from around the world agreed that their leaders were seriously concerned about U.S. foreign policy and its pro-Israel tilt. This morning the Turkish government announced that despite the Bush administration's desire to bring democracy to the Middle East, the region will remain a major problem in the absence of dealing with the Palestinian-Israel issue in a constructive manner. For his part, Bush at the G-7 conference urged his junior partners to contribute money for Iraq and to support his "democracy" effort in the Middle East. One would think that the Bush administration would at least try to cover up its pro-Tel Aviv policy by not appointing individuals like Paul Bremer and Dan Senor who have been in front of the TV cameras in Iraq as the faces of America. Though Muslims must be wishing for safety, security, jobs, and self-determination for Iraq, what must they be thinking all these months when they turn on their TV sets and see Bremer and Senor making policy decisions and representing Iraq? Is this what Bush means when he speaks of "democracy" in the Middle East? Regimes that are pro-U.S. and pro-Israel?"
Herb Abrams says,"The story on Chalabi in the Guardian (5/24/04) may have been "confused" but factually it was on the mark. As for Judith Miller and the New York Times reports, they were made to measure to support the Bush, Cheney, Powell extravagant claims to justify the invasion of Iraq. Miller was embedded with the 75th Exploitation Task Force searching for WMD throughout the war in Iraq. The tone, atmospherics, content, hyperbolic cast and headlines of her many dispatches were enough to convince 35% of the public that WMD had already been found, when in fact nothing significant was documented even during the following 12 months of continuing search. It was not that Miller created the news she reported but rather that she conveyed images that were unwarranted by the fragility and self-interestedness of her sources. Perhaps her articles were less deliberate sham than enthusiastic spin" RH. What is the world coming to? The "liberal"New York Times accused of unwittingly carrying propaganda for President Bush and the neo-cons?.

Iraq and the Kurds

Jaqui White writes: " During our years in Saudi Arabia some of our dearest friends were Kurdish. I think the following letter describes eloquently and succinctly the problems of Kurdistan. I do not understand the attitude of the United States in seemingly once again ignoring or slighting the importance of forty million Kurds, our staunchest supporters, tens of thousands of whom were slaughtered by Saddam Hussein in acts of purposeful genocide. The Kurds are the most pro-American group in Iraq. They are a non-Arab Muslim people who live in Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran. One would assume that they would be well represented in the new government of Iraq". Jaqui attaches a letter from Barzani and Talabani to President Bush dated June 1, 2004, Here is its key section: "We are writing this letter to your Excellency to present our views and concerns on the new Iraqi Interim Government, the Kurdish position and the future of the country. America has no better friend than the people of Iraqi Kurdistan. A year >ago, our peshmerga forces fought side by side with the American forces for the liberation of Iraq, taking more casualties than any other US ally. Today, Kurdistan remains the only secure and stable part of Iraq. We note that, in contrast to the Arab areas of Iraq, no coalition >soldier has been killed in the area controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government. The people of Kurdistan continue to embrace American values, to welcome US troops, and to support your program for the liberation of Iraq. Our Kurdistan Regional Government has given up many of its current freedoms in the interest of helping your administering authorities reach compromises with other Iraqis. We were therefore bitterly disappointed when your special representative advised us that a Kurd could be neither Prime Minister nor President of Iraq. We were told that these positions must go to a Shiite Arab and Sunni Arab respectively".

RH: The complaint is justified, but the US shies away from anything involving the name Kurdistan because it suggests a Kurdish nation, the creation of which is bitterly opposed by Iraq, Syria, Iran and above all Turkey, America's NATO partner. However, this week there was an important development. Ths EU said Turkey would not be admitted to it until it treated its minorities, i.e. the Kurds, better. The Turkish Supreme Court then declared that the imprisonment of Kurdish dissidents, including a woman member of the national assembly, was unconstitutional. They were released amidst general rejoicing by the Kurds. How this will affect the condition of the Kurds remains to be seen.

Randy Black says "Contrary to Jaqui. White’s comment, there are only about 4.5 million, give or take a few hundred thousand, Kurds in Iraq, not 40 million. To put a Kurd in control of the other 20 million Iraqis would be tantamount to being ruled by an “occupying” force after the June handover, something the US has indicated would cease in the near future. A Kurd, Barham Salih, was named Deputy Prime Minister in the new Iraqi government. It was my understanding in April that Kurdish autonomy was guaranteed by a UN Security Council resolution". RH: Jaqui omitted a decimal point. What Randy says would invalidate the complaint of the Kurds..

Iraq and Terrorism

Tom Moore writes: "At least part of the reason for going to war in Afghanistan and Iraq was to reduce terrorism. Bush continues to this day to treat the Iraq conflict as part of what he calls a "war on terrorism." It has been about two and a half years since we moved into Afghanistan to root out al-Qaeda. The administration has claimed that they have reduced al-Quaeda's effectiveness and harmed its cohesion. Let us look at the evidence. The occupation of Iraq and the conquest of Afghanistan have generated more rather than fewer terrorists. In the two and one-half years since we sent troops into that region, terrorist activities have increased, not decreased. Since our troops entered Afghanistan in October 2001, al Qaeda or its affiliates have launched six major attacks, killing over 25 people, in Morocco, Spain, Pakistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, plus eight other strikes, murdering one or more individuals. Over all al-Qaeda has been behind 14 attacks since we sent our military to route them out. In the previous three years we suffered from only four attacks altogether, although one of them was 9/11. As a policy to reduce the effectiveness of al Qaeda, attacking Afghanistan and Iraq must be considered a failure".

I wrote: "My understanding is that documents now show that Saddam Hussein did have ties to Al Qua'ida. John Heelan says: "The proven lack of credibility of the Bush Administration over Iraq makes it difficult to believe anything that is "found" subsequently and promoted as "evidence". [Remember the "documents proving" Iraq importing nuclear components from Africa- subsequently alleged to have emanated from Mossad? Perhaps the Mossad pens have been writing again? Further, is it not strange that having had the "top management" of Iraq in captivity for several months, including Saddam Hussein himself, that undeniable proof of high-level links with Al Qua'ida links- if they ever existed- have not surfaced before?"

RH: Since I wrote that initial sentence, it has been suggested that Iran planted the story to provoke the US into attacking Iran's enemy Iraq. Some suggest that Chalabi was some kind of a double agent. Any statement about this is conjecture.

Missing Tapes about WMDs

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that he no longer knows the whereabouts of tapes of recorded telephone intercepts that he used in February 2003 to convince the UN Security Council that Saddam Hussein was deceiving them and hiding stockpiles of banned weapons. Powell said that UN investigators have been unable to locate the tapes or to identify the Iraqi officers whose voices were recorded allegedly plotting to undermine the UN weapons inspections. “We can’t find those guys. I don’t know who those guys were. But the tapes were real tapes. We didn’t make them up,” Powell said in interviews with at least six US dailies this week. On 5 February 2003, Powell presented the tapes to the UN Security Council, identifying the Iraqis by military rank, but not by name. The transcripts of the tapes contained vague, at best, evidence that Washington used to make its case that Iraq had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction ­ the justification used for the US-led invasion. No such stockpiles have ever been found, and Powell has since apologized for inaccurate intelligence. Among the conversations considered to be the hardest evidence that Iraq was trying to hide its weapons stockpiles were exchanges between alleged military officials saying things like “remove… the expression… nerve agents wherever it comes up in wireless instructions”, and “after you have carried out what is contained in the message… destroy the message”. Interest has since been renewed in the tapes, which seemed to disappear off Washington’s radar, but not off the UN’s. The UN’s chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, pointed out in a recent book that he had not seen any discussion of those tapes since the occupation of Iraq (ISN, 6/1/04). RH: This story is very syspicious.

Regarding the missing tapes about Iraq's alleged WMD, former CIA officer Miles Seeley writes: "These tapes have the faint aroma of something the Chalabi group might have produced. If he or a fabricator did make them, they would be wise to destroy them before an intensive investigation. As a case officer overseas, which I was for 20 years, I find it hard to believe how we (ie the Administration) were taken in by exiles and their fabrication mills. I learned that lesson in the Korean War, about the same time my colleagues in Europe were finding out about the total unreliability of Soviet exile "intelligence." As an aside, at that time we also learned that exiles who peddled made-up and half-truth reports most often lived very well indeed- as did (does) Mr. Chalabi". RH: Exiles face two problems. Their reports are discredited, and, if they try to return home in any official capacity, they are usually not welcomed by the local people who hope to come to power.

The "hazing" at Abu Ghraib prison

Randy Black tried to dismiss as hazing the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison by comparing it with his experiences at the University of Oklahoma and as a soldier at Fort Ord. In answer to my questioing the comparison, he asked me if I had not undergone hazing at Oxford. The answer is no. The very word is an Americanism. Some students practiced a mild version of hazing, but I was never bothered. Darly DeBell says:

"Randy Black makes what I consider to be a serious logical error when he concludes that because fraternity and other hazing is sometimes as stupid, degrading and dangerous as what was done in Abu Ghraib, there is no reason to condemn or take seriously those actions. The same is true of his accounts of activities he describes as occurring at Fort Ord. As RH says, those allegations should be investigated. I too had an experience in the Marines while stationed in a camp near Pearl Harbor. Medical officers were required to inspect the brig, and one of us reported to the rest of us that a prisoner had been sodomized by the guards with a broomstick. He did not report it; I assume because he did not want to get the guards in trouble, and perhaps be was thought to be sympathetic to the prisoner, who was alleged to be homosexual. None of the rest of us did either; I because I expected it would be ignored as hearsay, although I have since been ashamed of my silence. I think such denial is all too common, and applies to many who minimize the atrocity of Abu Ghraib".

From Greece, Harry Papasotiriou

 

 





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