The present-day U.S. military qualifies by any measure as highly professional, much more so than its Cold War predecessor. Yet the purpose of today’s professionals is not to preserve peace but to fight unending wars in distant places. Intoxicated by a post-Cold War belief in its own omnipotence, the United States allowed itself to be drawn into a long series of armed conflicts, almost all of them yielding unintended consequences and imposing greater than anticipated costs. Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. forces have destroyed many targets and killed many people. Only rarely, however, have they succeeded in accomplishing their assigned political purposes. . . . [F]rom our present vantage point, it becomes apparent that the “Revolution of ‘89” did not initiate a new era of history. At most, the events of that year fostered various unhelpful illusions that impeded our capacity to recognize and respond to the forces of change that actually matter.

Andrew Bacevich

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

News & Views 09/26/07

Photo: An Iraqi woman holds her daughter as US soldiers from 1-40 Cavalry Squadron stand guard around them while fellow soldiers search her home during a patrol into southern Baghdad, 11 September 2007. The US Senate approved Wednesday a Bosnia-style plan to divide Iraq on ethnic and religious lines, touted by backers as the sole hope of forging a federal state out of sectarian strife.(AFP/File/David Furst)

To our Muslim readers: Ramadan Mubarak


Baghdad double explosion casualties rise to 60

50 casualties as truck bomb explodes in Mosul

IRAQ: Polluted Shat al-Arab threatens life, could spread diseases

High rates of contamination in Iraq's Shat al-Arab river, formed by the confluence of the Euphrates and the Tigris in the southern province of Basra, threaten life and could spread disease, a specialist told IRIN on 24 September. “The Shat al-Arab is facing a very dangerous state of contamination, with sewage being discharged directly into the Euphrates and Tigris, and industrial waste, oil products and the remnants of munitions from the 1980s Iran-Iraq war [having been dumped in the river]," said Malik Hassan, director of the Seas Sciences Centre affiliated to the University of Basra. The absence of dredging operations, Hassan said, had allowed these materials to become poisonous: "The corrosion of munitions and the interaction of industrial and microbial pollution from hospital waste, are producing poisons which can be active for decades and get into peoples’ bodies." "All this could increase cancer among the people who live nearby and who depend on the river for their sustenance. It could also lead to an increase in waterborne diseases such as cholera," Hassan said. The southern stretch of the river - some 200km in length - constitutes the border between Iraq and Iran down to the mouth of the river as it discharges into the Gulf.

“Sectarian violence is forcing me to choose my friends”

Nadia Abdel-Qudoos (not her real name), a 23-year-old dentistry student at Baghdad University, says she has been forced to keep away from her old friends because they belong to a different sect or religion. “Shia militias from Kadhimiyah, the Baghdad neighbourhood in which I live, came to my house a couple of months ago and told my family that if I didn’t keep away from my Sunni and Christian colleagues in college, we were going to pay the price of what they called `betrayal’. “My best friends are Sunnis and we never had problems or differences before. We were a happy group, chatting about our daily lives and the country’s problems. We made sure we would never let sectarianism affect our relations. But perhaps it was silly of us to think that we young girls could change the reality of Iraq. “I stayed away from college for over a week but the first day I returned… two men approached me as I entered the university building. They told me that if I spoke with any Sunni I would be beaten up and my friend killed.

IRAQ: Compensation for damaged property inadequate, say Diyala residents

Residents of Diyala Province, northeast of Baghdad and adjacent to the Iranian border, say the payments they will get from the Iraqi government are insufficient compensation for the damage caused to their property by US and Iraqi forces in recent military operations. The ethnically mixed province, a major insurgent stronghold, saw heavy fighting in the past few weeks in which warplanes, helicopter gunships and artillery were used against Al-Qaeda insurgents in Iraq. Residents say the fighting left over 5,000 families displaced and in poverty, and damaged hundreds of houses, shops, government buildings and schools. Almost all towns and villages in the province have been affected by the military operations, they say. “The damage is extensive and many buildings have been totally destroyed. The amount to be paid by the government is less than half the value of the properties before they were damaged,” said Maruan Ziad, an economics professor at Baghdad University and a senior official at the Ministry of Construction and Housing. Ziad said some villages had been almost completely destroyed and would have to be rebuilt from scratch.

IRAQ: Travel restrictions considered as cholera spreads

The Iraqi government will impose travel restrictions in the country if more cases of cholera are confirmed after a warning by the World Health Organization (WHO) that the disease was spreading in Iraq. “If we verify more cases of cholera in different areas of Iraq, we will impose travel restrictions to prevent a more serious outbreak. We have already been restricting the movement of food between provinces,” said Lt-Col Seif Abdel-Karim, a senior official in the Ministry of Interior. “Lorries are being checked as they travel from northern governorates to central and southern provinces and we have banned the movement of food over the next few days,” he said. Earlier in a 10 September statement the WHO had said: “In controlling the spread of cholera WHO does not recommend any special restrictions to travel or trade to or from affected areas.” The WHO said 2,116 people had contracted cholera so far, including 616 new cases reported in the past week. Eleven people have died of the disease, it said. Over 30,000 people had acute watery diarrhoea and the contamination of currently unaffected areas was highly possible, it said, adding that the outbreak had spread to 25 districts of northern Iraq, four districts in the south and across the centre of the country.

Kurdistan Tries to Rebuild Economy

Billboards in Kurdistan's capital boast that luxury malls and hotels are on the way, but banking and insurance systems barely function. Cranes loom over building sites, but few government inspectors check the quality of construction. This is economic development, on the fly. A sign at the office of a trade association sums up the freewheeling business environment in the part of Iraq controlled by a Kurdish administration. "Please leave your gun at reception," it says. While much of Iraq is a patchwork of factions at war with U.S.-led troops or one another, the Kurdish zone north of Baghdad is mostly peaceful. The relative stability is fostering development. But the Kurdish economy is weak, dependent on imports and prone to political uncertainty and concerns about transparency. Some investors are diving into this poor region full of untapped oil wealth, taking risks that would be unacceptable in a Western-style business environment. They include Kurdish businessmen based in Europe and the United States, Turks, Persian Gulf Arabs and a smaller number of Europeans and Americans.

A wish to make

Today we toured through Al Yarmouk neighborhood in western Baghdad. The neighborhood famous bread baking shop Ahalina is open again since about two weeks for the first time in years. Looking to that shop open again and other shops inside the neighborhood and the beautiful street that is called Arbaa Shwariaa (4 streets in Arabic) clean and with no signs of violence was delightful. The improvement in several neighborhoods despite the fact it is not that big gave me some hope. Off course I don’t have to tell you of the other stuff of the feeling that death can strike any second but I think being optimistic is better. One day we will drive through Baghdad with no sniff of death, a wish to make before going to sleep.

Why Are You Here?

The young man on television was probably 16 years old. But he looked so young, his face chubby with baby fat, his lips poised in a child's pout. "Why are you here," the Vice President of Iraq, Tariq al Hashemi, asked. "I don't know," he said. "They hit me and hit me and hit me until they made me admit to something I haven't done. What can I do?" Hashemi was visiting the Iraqi prison for juveniles with camera men. He asked them to film. The Vice President is the only man from the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front left in the government. With his veto power the party hoped his presence would keep pressure on the government to succumb to their demands. The ministers have resigned, the one who refused to was removed from the party. One of their grievances were all the men imprisoned who are innocent, most Sunni Arabs. The camera panned through a narrow hallway where hundreds of young teen-age boys sat. Those Hashemi spoke to all had visible signs of abuse on their body. One showed acid burns on his back, another lifted his sleeves, and his shirt to show the purple and red bruising all over his body. It aired on Sharqiya, an Iraqi station that has been banned from having an office in Iraq because it is anti-government. To the question, "Why are you here?" They all answered "I don't know."

Suicide epidemic striking Kurdish women

Three weeks after she was burned, the petite 18-year-old lay in a hospital bed, her head, arms and upper torso swathed in cotton. Her seared face was daubed with ointment. She looked at the ceiling and thought about her new life. "I don't know about the future," she said, still looking up. "It will be whatever Allah brings." She refused to give her name. A gas stove had exploded when she'd tried to light it, she said. Her nurses don't buy it. They recognize the pattern of the burns and have seen hundreds of cases like hers, many with variations on the same story. A teenage girl with a young marriage, and "a cooking accident." In many parts of the world, such accidents would be attributed to "honor killings," the murders of young women by family or spouses because they didn't work hard enough, complained too much or dated the wrong men. There are honor killings in Iraqi Kurdistan, as well. But health-care professionals and women's experts stress that what they're seeing here is different: a suicide epidemic in which Kurdistan's girls and young women are setting themselves on fire.

Thousands lose jobs on Iran’s closure of border

Some 35,000 people have lost their jobs as a result of Iran’s decision to close its border crossings with the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, the head of Sulaimaniya’s Chamber of Commerce Hassan Baqi said. Early this week Iraq closed its border points with the region in protest at the arrest of an Iranian by U.S. forces in Sulaimaniya. The U.S. says it detained the Iranian on suspicion of smuggling sophisticated roadside bombs to rebels fighting its troops in Iraq. Baqi said most of those who have lost their jobs were drivers and traders. “This high figure of the new jobless people is a burden to be added on the shoulder of the regional government,” he said. Baqi said long queues of trucks laden with goods wait on the Iranian and Iraqi sides of the border. Kurdish officials, including Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, have criticized U.S.’s detention of the Iranian official.

Skin disease rampant in Iraqi prisons

The infectious skin disease scabies has afflicted 15,000 Iraqis languishing in prisons administered by the Interior Ministry, a Health Ministry source said. The source, refusing to be named, said the disease has spread “fear” among prisoner ranks and the inmates’ pleas for better hygiene and medical treatment have gone in vain. There are umerous authorities in the country with the power to detain Iraqis. U.S. troops have their own prisoners, the mercenaries or the so-called security companies they have brought with them can also imprison Iraqis. But it is the first time the Health Ministry reveals that scabies was widespread in Interior Ministry prisons. The Iraqi government has refused access to international health organizations and the source said he was on a routine visit and was appalled to see huge numbers of prisoners bearing injuries related to skin infection.

An Iraqi father's shattered dream

In the Iraqi capital, he says, "We couldn't leave the house for a month. Even the children, if they wanted to go to school, someone had to escort them and then go back for them." Some of his large extended family of 13 are still traumatized, he says, "but this secure living [in Damascus] has given us hope for the future again." And just as important as security, he says, is education. So obsessed is he with the value of a good education that he sees a nefarious plot in much of the daily mayhem plaguing Iraq. "All the violence going on in Iraq – the kidnapping of children – is for one purpose, for preventing Iraq and Iraqi children from developing and getting educated," asserts Kamal, who, like his brother, worked for the former regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. When Kamal and his brother Mostafa crossed the border into Syria with their families, the Syrian authorities put a stamp in their passports specifying that they were not allowed to work during their exile in this country. Condemned to sit at home, penniless and idle, Kamal faced the agonizing decision to send his 17-year-old son Karim out to work instead of into a classroom. Having eaten up his savings down to the last US$50, Kamal frets that the family is just a whisker away from living on the streets, so he can't afford to lose the teenager's income that is supporting all 13 people.

Iraqi, U.S. forces raid military academy

Iraqi and U.S. special forces raided Iraq's military academy in eastern Baghdad on Tuesday and arrested people suspected of murder, kidnap and supplying weapons to criminals, the U.S. military said on Wednesday. "The individuals detained had allegedly used security personnel to murder, kidnap and conduct attacks using improvised explosive devices and EFPs (explosively formed penetrators)," spokesman Major-General Kevin Bergner said. Getting Iraqi police and army units trained and equipped to maintain security is a key challenge for U.S. forces in Iraq and one of the factors likely to determine when it can scale back troop numbers. Iraqi police and military are believed to be infiltrated by sectarian militia, making it harder to restore security and ease tension in the country between majority Shi'ite and minority Sunni Arabs. "The operation by the special forces in the defence ministry confirms the government's determination to provide security and stability and to fight terrorists in every spot of our dear nation," Iraq's defence ministry said in a statement. Bergner declined to say how many people had been detained or what positions they held at the Rustumiya academy. A government source said 15 officers, including a colonel, and 50 soldiers had been arrested and that three Iraqi soldiers were wounded during the raid.


Iraqi Prime Minister Says That Civil War Has Been Prevented

Maliki Also Plays Down Iran's Influence - Civil war has been averted in Iraq and Iranian intervention there has "ceased to exist," Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said yesterday. But although Bush administration officials have spoken of a smaller, long-term U.S. military presence in Iraq, similar to the tens of thousands of troops stationed in South Korea over the past half-century, Maliki said he does not foresee it. The two governments, he said, are in the initial phases of discussion about "a long-term multilateral treaty and not necessarily a long-term presence for troops." Any agreement, he said, would have to be approved by the Iraqi parliament. Maliki's view of Iran's role in fomenting violence in Iraq also diverges from that of the administration. He said his government has begun a dialogue with Iran and Syria and has explained to them that their activities are unhelpful. As a result, he said, "our relationships with these countries has improved to the point that they are not interfering in our internal affairs." [Interesting happy talk from Maliki, who also talks like he is not part of a puppet government. – dancewater]

Iraq to end contractor 'immunity'

The Iraqi interior ministry has said it has drafted legislation regulating private security companies following a shooting allegedly involving a US firm. The new code would require contractors to be subject to Iraqi law and to be monitored by the Iraqi government. The draft is being considered by the consultative State Shura Council before being passed to parliament for debate. The circumstances of the shooting two weeks ago, in which 11 Iraqis died, are being investigated by a US-Iraqi panel. The contractor under suspicion, Blackwater USA, has said its guards reacted lawfully to an attack on a US diplomatic convoy.

APR – The Raids and Arrests Campaign in Adhamiyah

Joint forces from the American occupation and Government Guard forces raided and indiscriminate arrested included the areas of Adhamiyha, Raghaba Khatun. These forces arrested about 150 citizen residents of these areas since the beginning of Holy Month Ramadan and held until 23 September 2007, Sunday. The continuous indiscriminate arrests, especially in the opposition areas to the occupation and their collaborators are a boring approach that the occupation forces and the current government are practicing against the patient Iraqi people. The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI) condemns these terrorist campaigns. AMSI demands those forces to desist from such hostilities practices and calls to release the detainees immediately.

English message from the Iraqi resistance to the world

Don’t believe a single word of Reuters report, there no attacks in the video, it is just a simple but powerful facts. The writer of Reuters report was confused with a new Arabic video released yesterday by the so called “Islamic State of Iraq” called “Warped Arrow”, which shows many attacks on the US military in Diyala. The report says in the headline “first video clip in English”, this is also not true, Iraqi resistance published English messages before. As you see from the logo, this is 1920 Revolution Brigades, who produced the video. Watch the clip.


What Defines a Killing as Sectarian?

U.S. Military Teams Analyze and Tally Each Civilian Death - On Sept. 1, the bullet-riddled bodies of four Iraqi men were found on a Baghdad street. Two days later, a single dead man, with one bullet in his head, was found on a different street. According to the U.S. military in Iraq, the solitary man was a victim of sectarian violence. The first four were not. Such determinations are the building blocks for what the Bush administration has declared a downward trend in sectarian deaths and a sign that its war strategy is working. They are made by a specialized team of soldiers who spend their nights at computer terminals, sifting through data on the day's civilian victims for clues to the motivations of killers. The soldiers have a manual telling them what to look for. Signs of torture or a single shot to the head, corpses left in a "known body dump" - as the body of the Sunni man found on Sept. 3 was - spell sectarian violence, said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dan Macomber, the team leader. Macomber, who has been at his job in Baghdad since February, rarely has to look it up anymore. "If you were just a criminal and you just wanted to take somebody's money, just wanted to discipline them, you're not going to take the time to bind them up, burn their bodies, cut their arms off, cut their head off," he explained. "You're just going to shoot them in the body and get it over with." That, the team judged, is what happened to the four Shiite men, sprayed with gunfire and left where they dropped. [Their ‘definitions’ of course, are totally bullshit. But I wanted to point out that they are keeping records of civilian deaths, even while they pretend they are not. – dancewater]

Weapons left by US troops 'used as bait to kill Iraqis'

US soldiers are luring Iraqis to their deaths by scattering military equipment on the ground as "bait", and then shooting those who pick them up, it has been alleged at a court martial. The highly controversial tactic, which has hitherto been kept secret, is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of a number of Iraqis who were subsequently classified as enemy combatants and used in statistics to show the "success" of the "surge" in US forces.

Gates Asks $190 Billion for Wars

U.S. forces arrest newspaper editor near Tikrit

A U.S. force arrested the editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper al-Faisal and his son during a crackdown operation near Tikrit, a media source said on Wednesday. "On Tuesday night U.S. forces raided a village near Tikrit where they arrested Mohammad Mezher al-Shaheen al-Shemri, owner and editor-in-chief of al-Faisal newspaper, and his son," the source, who asked to be unnamed, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). No word was available from the U.S. army on the incident. Al-Shemri founded the newspaper, which is being published in Kirkuk, in 2004. In 2006 he was elected as head of the Iraqi Journalists Association. "The man is also the head of the independent Iraqi Journalists Association and the reasons behind his arrest are still unknown," he added.

‘Security’ contractors have come to kill and not secure

In the land of twin rivers prosper today the so-called security companies employing tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries some of them earning up to $1,000 per day. So Iraq does not reel under the boots of U.S. marines. Scores of security contractors have lured swarms of mercenaries who are now blamed for the killing of innocent Iraqis and the liquidation of those opposing the parties they are assigned to protect. They are armed to the teeth and some groups brandish weapons more sophisticated than those in the hands of U.S. occupiers. These trigger happy guys are not hold accountable for their actions as Iraqi police have not right to question them and Iraqi courts cannot hold them accountable. They do whatever they want with impunity. Many Iraqis blame them for some of the worst crimes and most devastating explosions in the country. In the Iraqi vernacular they are called hameeha harameeha or ‘sentry-turned thief’. There are no exact figures on the numbers of these thieves but the U.S. alone is reported to have contracted at least 20,000 of them who are nothing but the dregs of humanity. Some of the U.S.-contracted thieves are remnants of Serbian militias whose role in the genocide of Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo cannot be denied. Some others are the remnants of the hated apartheid regime of South Africa.

The Evidence against the Lieberman-Kyle Amendment

The administration has not come forward with a single piece of concrete evidence to support the claim that the Iranian government has been involved in the training, arming or advising of Iraqi Shiite militias. One of the briefers at the February briefing admitted that it was only Iraqi smugglers who brought weapons into Iraq, explaining why no direct Iranian involvement could be documented (Washington Post, February 12, 2007). The official briefer who was a specialist on explosives, Maj. Marty Weber, claimed in a later interview that the use of "passive infrared sensors" in the deployment of EFPs in Iraq was "one of the strongest markers of Iranian involvement" in the traffic. But he admitted in the same interview that the electronic components needed to make the sensors found in Iraq were "easily available off the shelf at places like RadioShack." (New York Times, February 25, 2007)

U.S. diplomat says slain al-Qaida in Iraq chief was brilliant tactician

Slain al-Qaida in Iraq chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a ''diabolically brilliant'' war tactician, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, likening the terror commander to Civil War generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. [So then, why did the US military have a policy of “villianize Zarqawi, leverage xenophobic response” if Zarqawi is so bad? I mean, beyond the sadistic pleasures of scaring people and controlling them, what was their goal in making this policy? This article goes on to present more propaganda nonsense from Rice.– dancewater]

U.S. Senate Endorses Plan to Divide Iraq

Showing rare bipartisan consensus over war policy, the Senate overwhelmingly endorsed a political settlement for Iraq that would divide the country into three semi-autonomous regions. [They are buffoons. – dancewater]

Waxman: State Department blocking congressional probe

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Cal., charged Tuesday that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her aides are trying to impede congressional probes into corruption in Iraq and the activities of controversial private military contractor Blackwater USA. Waxman, chairman of the House oversight committee, complained in a letter to Rice that the State Department this week barred its officials from talking to Congress about corruption in Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki's government unless those discussions are kept secret. The department also retroactively classified a study drafted by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that reportedly details extensive corruption in al-Maliki's government, Waxman said.

U.S. Exacerbates Iraqi Civil War With Indiscriminate Commando Training

The U.S. is indiscriminately arming Iraqis, destabilizing the country even more. "Starting the month with a bang, the boys from Baghdad executed two baited ambushes … and further confirmed the [Emergency Response Unit's] ability to conduct operations with stealth and violence of action," writes an unofficial historian for the ERU, in Unit History of 1st Battalion, a report obtained by CorpWatch. The "boys" that the report praises are members of one of dozens of elite Iraqi commandos units that function as a "third force" to augment the Iraqi police and army, both of which are widely considered to be failures. On this mission in early July 2005, the Emergency Response Unit, backed by the First Battalion of the Fifth Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army, had detained "anti-Iraqi forces" and intercepted roadside bombs. Their tactics owed much to a secretive U.S. private contractor, U.S. Investigations Services (USIS), which conducted ERU trainings on U.S. military bases in Iraq -- including at Camp Dublin and Camp Solidarity. The trainings began under Gen. David Petreaus as an effort to bolster security in Iraq, and soon evolved into a system for providing support to the deeply sectarian Ministry of the Interior.


Spain's "Downing Street Memo": Bush was Set on Attacking Iraq

Report: Talk of diplomatic solutions in lead-up to Iraq invasion were all a big lie. US President George W. Bush threatened nations with retaliation if they did not vote for a UN resolution backing the Iraq war, according to a transcript published Wednesday of a conversation he had with former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar. In the transcript of a meeting on February 22, 2003 -- a month before the US-led invasion of Iraq -- published in the El Pais daily, Bush tells Aznar that nations like Mexico, Angola, Chile and Cameroon must know that the security of the United States is at stake. He says during the meeting on his ranch in Texas that Angola stood to lose financial aid while Chile could see a free trade agreement held up in the US Senate if they did not back the resolution, the left-wing paper said. The confidential transcript was prepared by Spain's ambassador to the United States at the time, Javier Ruperez, the paper said.


Little relief in sight for millions of displaced Iraqis

“You have now entered Iraq,” my taxi driver joked. We had in fact just entered Sayida Zeinab, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Damascus. This shrine city, long a destination for Shia pilgrims, had become home to an estimated one million Iraqis seeking refuge in Syria. “Everybody is Iraqi,” laughed another driver after several people he had asked for directions replied in Iraqi Arabic that they did not know. Indeed, walking through the alleys of Sayida Zeinab I felt as though I were in Iraq, except it was safe. After nearly three years in the war-torn country, I had started to fear Iraqi men; all strangers were potential kidnappers.

Along with the refugees, some of Iraq’s institutions have come to Syria too, although, so far, the sectarian violence has not. In one alley I came across the famous Baghdad restaurant “Patchi al Hati.” Patchi is sheep’s head, the meal I dreaded most during my years in Iraq. The restaurant’s owner had fled four months earlier “because of the terrorism and looting,” the chef explained over an immense steaming pot giving off the pungent smell. Anybody with money in Iraq was a target for kidnappers and extortionists. “They heard we were a famous restaurant and thought we were millionaires,” he told me.

In another alley I walked past the field office of one of Iraq’s most important Shia clerics, Ayatollah Kadhim al Haeri. Following the American war that overthrew Saddam Hussein’s regime, al Haeri had urged his followers to kill Baathists. Further down the street I found Muqtada al Sadr’s representative’s office, also guarded by security officials. The two Shia clerics had once been close but had fallen out. Al Sadr is now considered the most powerful man in Iraq; his militia, the Madhi Army, controls much of Iraq’s security forces and is largely responsible for sectarian attacks against Sunnis.

Iraq internal refugee totals growing steadily-IOM

Some 480,000 Iraqis have registered as internal refugees or IDPs since the start of 2007, bringing the total in the country to more than 2.25 million, the IOM relief body said on Wednesday. The IOM, or International Organisation for Migration, said most of those leaving their homes were fleeing sectarian violence -- with 88 percent saying they had moved after being targeted for their religious identity. "The situation is becoming a displacement catastrophe," Dana Graber Ladek, a Jordan-based official for the IOM, told a news conference. "It is certainly the worst crisis of its type the whole (Middle East) region has seen since 1948."

How to Help Iraqi Refugees

ANOTHER Way to help: The Collateral Repair Project


How Bush has created a moral vacuum in Iraq in which Americans can kill for free

Imagine a universe where a man can gun down women and children anytime he pleases, knowing he will never be brought to justice. A place where morality is null and void, and arbitrary killing is the rule. A place that has been imagined hitherto only in nightmarish dystopian fiction, like “1984,” or in fevered passages from Dostoevsky—or which existed during the Holocaust and Stalinist purges and the Dark Ages. Well, that universe exists today. It is called Iraq. And the man who made it possible is George W. Bush. The moral vacuum of Iraq—where Blackwater USA guards can kill 10 or 20 Iraqis on a whim and never be prosecuted for it—did not happen by accident. It is yet another example of something the Bush administration could have prevented with the right measures but simply did not bother about as it rushed into invading and occupying another country. With America’s all-volunteer army under strain, the Pentagon and White House knew that regular military cannot be used for guarding civilians. As far back as 2003, then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld convened a task force under Undersecretary of Defense David Chu to consider new laws that might be needed to govern the privatization of war. Nothing was done about its recommendations. Then, two days before he left Iraq for good, L. Paul Bremer III, the Coalition Provisional Authority administrator, signed a blanket order immunizing all Americans, because, as one of his former top aides told me, “we wanted to make sure our military, civilians and contractors were protected from Iraqi law.” (No one worried about protecting the Iraqis from us; after all, we still thought of ourselves as the “liberators,” even though by then the worst abuses at Abu Ghraib and other places were known.)

How the Bush administration’s Iraqi oil grab went awry

Here is the sentence in The Age of Turbulence, the 531-page memoir of former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan, that caused so much turbulence in Washington last week: “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” Honest and accurate, it had the resonance of the Bill Clinton’s election campaign mantra, “It’s the economy, stupid.” But, finding himself the target of a White House attack — an administration spokesman labeled his comment, “Georgetown cocktail party analysis” — Greenspan backtracked under cover of verbose elaboration. None of this, however, made an iota of difference to the facts on the ground. Here is a prosecutor’s brief for the position that “the Iraq War is largely about oil”: The primary evidence indicating that the Bush administration coveted Iraqi oil from the start comes from two diverse but impeccably reliable sources: Paul O’Neill, the Treasury Secretary (2001-2003) under President George W. Bush; and Falah Al Jibury, a well-connected Iraqi-American oil consultant, who had acted as President Ronald Reagan’s “back channel” to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein during the Iraq-Iran War of 1980-88. The secondary evidence is from the material that can be found in such publications as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Quote of the day: "The truth must not only be the truth, it must be told." - Fidel Castro