Thursday, May 04, 2006

Success is not the transition to death by electric drill

The Iraqi occupation has made a bad situation worse, with real political power passing to violent militias on the streets

By David Clark.

It has long been clear to all bar its most stubborn advocates that the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been the mother of all foreign policy disasters. Three years ago this week, President Bush flew on to the USS Abraham Lincoln to announce that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended". In a display of premature triumphalism that quickly came to symbolise the hubris and folly of US policy, the banner over his head declared: "mission accomplished".

But judging failure and holding those responsible to account has been complicated by a lack of clarity about what exactly that mission was. So many justifications for war have been offered that its supporters have found it relatively easy to respond to the collapse of one by seeking refuge in another.

It is only comparatively recently that they have run out of places to hide. The WMD case was beginning to unravel even before Bush declared victory. As the most recent US state department report demonstrates, terrorism is a greater threat than ever. There has been no "democratic domino effect" sweeping across the Middle East. And even the claim to have liberated Iraqis from a cruel and despotic regime now seems increasingly forlorn.

The failure to achieve these war aims would be bad enough in view of the enormous cost in blood and treasure, but there is now considerable evidence to suggest that in most respects the invasion has made a bad situation worse. That there was no Iraqi WMD threat, or even the prospect of one, is less of a problem than that the risks of proliferation have increased. The Blair-Bush-Gadafy axis of desperation may have delivered Libya's paltry WMD programme in exchange for international rehabilitation, but in the far more serious case of Iran, the Iraq quagmire means that Washington has few good options for preventing the mullahs going nuclear.

More broadly, Iraq has served to dramatically weaken the deterrence effect of American military power. Post-cold war American military planning had been based on a two-war standard: the ability to fight two medium-sized wars in separate theatres simultaneously. Iraq has revealed America's inability to contain even a single low-intensity insurgency without absorbing a large proportion of its available strength. Tied down, Gulliver-like, America today gives potential rogue states little reason to fear its wrath.

The argument that the invasion of Iraq was a natural extension of the war on terror was always weak. In fact, Iraq is a much bigger terrorist threat now that Saddam has gone. Claims of a link between Ba'athism and al-Qaida have become self-fulfilling as Islamists have been able to position themselves in the vanguard of opposition to the occupation. Furthermore, Iraq provides an ideal laboratory for perfecting the kind of terrorism al-Qaida wants to export to the west. Unlike Afghanistan, which was little more than a jihadi playground, Iraq supplies an urban setting, an active theatre of operations and a steady supply of western targets.

In a report last autumn, a leading expert on counter-terrorism, Anthony Cordesman, identified 39 "major adaptations" in the tactics and capabilities of the insurgency. Many of these skills and the people who have perfected them could easily be used to bring violence to our own streets. It is a horrifying thought, but it is perhaps only a matter of time before suicide bombers carrying backpacks are replaced by Baghdad-style car bombs that are much harder to detect and are capable of killing hundreds instead of dozens.

The idea that the removal of Saddam's regime would unleash a wave of democratic sentiment across Iraq and the wider Arab world had its brief, heady moment of apparent realisation last year with elections in Egypt, Palestine and Iraq. How different things look in 2006. With the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the theocratic Shia parties the main beneficiaries of the vote, the triumphalist "end of history" assumption that democracy will always replicate pro-western outcomes has been exposed for the wishful thinking it always was.

Meanwhile, the pro-democracy movement in Iran - the Middle Eastern country where it stood probably the greatest chance of indigenous success - has been suppressed as part of an authoritarian backlash against the perceived threat of American influence on its borders. The politics of national security always favour the demagogue, and President Ahmadinejad should be counted as one of the main beneficiaries of the Iraq war.

In many parts of Iraq real political power has passed to the street, where militias aligned to the ruling parties enforce their own laws, using violence against opponents of the regime, women who refuse to wear the veil and shopkeepers who sell alcohol. Much has been made of the suggestion that the supposedly moderate prime minister designate, Jawad al-Maliki, intends to disband the militias. Yet Maliki, deputy leader of the Islamist Dawa party, has promised to do no such thing. His plan is to merge the militias into the security forces, giving official sanction to their already widespread penetration of police and army. Whether it is in the ministries of Baghdad or on the streets of Basra, Iraq is now ruled by people who in any other context would be denounced by liberal hawks as Islamofacists.

The argument of last resort for those who supported regime change has always been that at least Saddam has gone and the torture chambers have been closed. Even that has turned out to be an illusion, with the news that the director of the Baghdad morgue has had to flee Iraq under threat of death for revealing that thousands of Iraqis are being killed by death squads, many of them linked to the interior ministry. Some of the victims have apparently been tortured to death with electric drills. The build up to war was full of contested claims about Saddam's secret police feeding his opponents into industrial shredders. Is our success to be measured in the transition from shredders to electric drills?

The final line of defence is to question the priorities of those who continue to raise Iraq, and dismiss the issue as a bore. Most of us would gladly move on from Iraq, be we should not do so on the self-interested terms demanded by those who led us to this disaster. Not while the people of Iraq continue to suffer the consequences. Not while those responsible remain in power. Not while there is the remotest chance that it might happen again.

ยท David Clark is a former Labour government adviser

Article Source : Here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont know really which post to reply to as this is more of a general gripe on my part.
Okay ppl yes ....there are bad things with war yes ppl die and that my crying freinds is in the name of change. I am by no means pro war but when ppl hash and rehash such tired subjects as the abuse of mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners just to get thier piece of the "oh look at me I missed the hippie era by 30 yrs and need to feel important" pie it just sickens me. Its just like they need this bandwagoning to feel important.
Yes ppl mistreating ppl is bad but maybe we should look to the way minorities are treated in certain areas of our own country instead of resurrecting stale news just to gripe.
Do u think in WW2 that allied soldiers didnt harm captured Germans?? Somehow this was overlooked cause in hippie perspective all Germans must be evil or something?? I dont get the mentality really. Or perhaps cause Germans invaded other countries and slaughtered ppl just cause of their religion and Iraq didnt....hey .....wait....wait OH YES THEY DID INFACT.
And yes a reality check to all the band wagon consiracy theory peace is the answer it not that long ago ppl like my relatives and im sure lots of yours gave up family ...youth...dreams...everything to go fight in a war that was across the sea....that others but not us were attacked in (is it my imagination or did Iraq not invade Kuwait??).
Perhaps the only difference that justified WW2 for hippies is the scale? "Oh u can only kill so many before its all good". If u dont think Saddam would have done it again maybe u should hear a few tales of the abuse in that country. Perhaps all the THC has blinded the post hippy generation im not sure...
Maybe....our forefathers shouldnt have fought???...MAYBE IF THIER KIDS ALL HELD UP BRISTOL BOARD SIGNS AND CRIED IN THE STREETS Adoplh Hitler would have let millions of Jews and Poles live...not murdered hundreds of thousands in Russia, nearly conquered Great Britain and commmitted thousands of other hate crimes.
Protesters do u live in America?? News flash our country was formed how???? We took arms and fought yes killed shot and murdered ppl so we could have this country is that looked down upon by you?? Strangely not. Oh its because it benefits us that killing is good then perhaps??
Yes ppl we should never ever drop a bomb or take the risk of harming the innocent for the greater good.....My question is then .....WHAT IS THE ANSWER TO GENOCIDE??? More Bristol board and more symposiums I guess.....

Oh yes war has never done any good...except end countless cases of Nazism, Communisim, and genocide.

Yes im anonymous cause I dont need to be harrassed in the name of peace lol.

May 04, 2006 10:58 pm  
Blogger _H_ said...


Thank you for your comment, your rhetoric and your non sequiturs.

Your more than welcome to your 'gripe' and I am sorry you feel the need to be anonymous . You certainly wont be 'harassed' by me.

Trying to define war for me at an elementary level seems to be a requirement you deem necessary so maybe it will help to inform you that I am acutely aware of the relatives of conflict due to spending considerable time on the ground in Iraq and Palestine with my previous employment.

If you yourself have not seen such conflict directly then please allow me to assure you that mere words can not describe the sights (and smells) of conflict and on some levels your naive leap to assumptions could easily be construed as insulting. To question the motives behind a site such as this is your right but to assume your perception therefor represents any kind of reality would be concerning to say the least.

The basis of your point seems to dwell on the comparison of the current war in Iraq and the US led war on Terror.

Somehow in your mind you have decided that an equal and fair comparison would be the sickening acts of the Nazis during World War 2 in which 56 MILLION (aprox) were killed as a fair comparison to the American reaction to a sickening yet 'criminal' acts brought against it on September the 11th in which if memory serves me well just over 3000 people lost their lives.

Of course you have every right to make such a comparison but please feel no offence if sanity prevents me from joining you in such a ridiculous parody.

You ask is it my imagination or did Iraq not invade Kuwait?? but fail to bring into regard the reasons why Saddam Hussein took such an action (The whole dispute started because Kuwait was slant-drilling Iraqi oil) and also failing to note that Although the regime of Saddam was sickening and brutal the human rights violations committed by Kuwait were almost equal in scale .

To see the country of Kuwait as simply an innocent victim of a dictators aggression would imply that you watch far to much fox television. Take a look for yourself at the history of Kuwait's human rights abuses against their own people (especially woman) and ask yourself again if you were saving the good guy or protecting oil interests for the wests consumption.

The United states government props up regimes like Uzbekistan(financially and militarily) where the leader (a certain Mr Karimov) is well known for boiling dissidents alive but still claims to be defending freedom and democracy with its pseudo war on terror.

The CIA kidnaps suspected terrorists from other countries but at the same time protects and harbors wanted terrorists such as Luis Posada Carriles (responsible for planting a bomb on a plane killing all 74 civilians on board including woman and children) due to the fact that he was on the CIA payroll at the time of the atrocity. ( hmm I seem to remember that we don't distinguish between the terrorists and those that harbor them )

Please do not assume that all peace makers are in some way 'hippies' or anti war and in return I will try not to assume that you have been suckered into believing that all you hear from the US government and the western press is in some way true.

Some of us have a moral conscience about what is a just cause for the death and destruction of thousands of innocent woman in children in a place such as Iraq. The motive was not what we have been told and the illegal attack on a sovereign country was not in any way endorsed by the the very body formed after world war 2 to judge such matters (the UN)

America is not the worlds Policeman and its disregard for International laws and treaties of which it has agreed to abide by does not make it the good guy and sadly your opinions on the justifications of people like myself do not represent reality no matter how much you believe they do.

May 04, 2006 11:59 pm  
Blogger _H_ said...

PS I missed one..

No I do not live in the United Sates (I am english) and the battle of Britain in 1940 (before the US entered the war) was the deciding moment in my own countries fate.

Maybe you have heard the famous words

"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Speech made in the House of Commons as the Battle Britain peaked on August 20, 1940.

May 05, 2006 1:59 am  
Blogger Hype said...

"mother of all foreign policy disasters"

ain't that the truth!

"With the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the theocratic Shia parties the main beneficiaries of the vote, the triumphalist "end of history" assumption that democracy will always replicate pro-western outcomes has been exposed for the wishful thinking it always was."

my point all along. it wasn't we wanted our guys to lose. it was we figured this outcome would be most logical outcome to actually happen.

BushCo knows this. They managed to wage to successful PR war in the press. They just needed to get their foot in their door. The same goes for Iran. And it is about the oil. It is about our resources and maintaining superpower status. The Project for the New American Century says so.


May 05, 2006 2:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank u so very much for your own insightful rhetoric and somewhat comical retort and openly admitting that as I said in my gripe that numbers of those killed are really what justifies a war in some ppls minds. And your retort of and I quote :"Somehow in your mind you have decided that an equal and fair comparison would be the sickening acts of the Nazis during World War 2 in which 56 MILLION (aprox) were killed as a fair comparison to the American reaction to a sickening yet 'criminal' acts brought against it on September the 11th in which if memory serves me well just over 3000 people lost their lives."
Well really what this tells me is that your stance being that a war is justified by the numbers of those abused. Thank you for clearing that up and coming from some one who has apparently experienced the full horror of what is war I find...more than perplexing.
And again I quote "You ask is it my imagination or did Iraq not invade Kuwait?? but fail to bring into regard the reasons why Saddam Hussein took such an action (The whole dispute started because Kuwait was slant-drilling Iraqi oil) and also failing to note that Although the regime of Saddam was sickening and brutal the human rights violations committed by Kuwait were almost equal in scale ."
By this you are apparently telling me that (1) a country is justified to invade another and kill because oh yes of slant drilling? Surely they should have made a bristol board sign instead I guess?? Perplexing to say the least.(2) The brutal human rights violations in Kuwait were ALMOST AS EQUAL so I guess that cancels out Iraqs. Hey really valid points u r making here.......
Thanks for clearing all that up for me. In no way my freind do I say that the American government is angelic in nature at all....good lord haha. Which by the way I DID NOT MENTION ANYWHERE IN MY GRIPE THAT THEY WERE AS SUCH.U chose to use as last ditch ammunition known facts of American secret service wrong doings. Sorry my friend but I have CNN for that.
Let me join you for a moment in laughter ....there that over one can only hope their next post is read by those who can comprehend the written word.

May 06, 2006 1:09 am  
Blogger _H_ said...

Infact anonymous I made no such justifications you merely assume that I did. I do not need to justify an invasion of kuwait for I commited no such crime.

I pointed out that your view was one of over simplification and that the world was not as simple as you implied.

where on earth have you decided that I have justified the invasion of Kuiwat or that one set of human rights violations cancels out another !!

as you say their is only hope that the next post is read by those who can read.... for it seems you to have failed in such a task.

If you wish to clarify your reply in any way then you are more than welcome to reply ( I assume you have not been harrased) :-)

If not I will leave your reply for those who wish to decipher its inner meaning for there seems little if any connection to the answers I gave to you.

Alas I can not really reply in any more depth to assumptions you have made that do not relate to the stance I take or the opinions I hold.

But I do thank you for taking the time to comment and feel free to mystify me again if you so wish

(anonymous or not)

May 06, 2006 1:38 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well h then if these were not justifications what where they? And why in gods name were they used to fill the other wise blank space in your post??? Maybe I will quote your again perhaps?? :"Somehow in your mind you have decided that an equal and fair comparison would be the sickening acts of the Nazis during World War 2 in which 56 MILLION (aprox) were killed as a fair comparison to the American reaction to a sickening yet 'criminal' acts brought against it on September the 11th in which if memory serves me well just over 3000 people lost their lives."
Ok just a question ...pls dont beat around the bush (no pun haha) and answer it ..directly no dancing about.....if it was not mentioned as a comparison of numbers of those killed as justification......why is it there??
ps from your retort ...I do believe I c a nerve protruding???are u mad? pls answer my question directly as I am getting tired of cuting and pasting your post.

May 06, 2006 2:22 am  
Blogger _H_ said...

This is like ground hog day :-) I doubt very much you can see any nerve protuding in fact you one of the most pleasent dissenters I have had (trust eme I get hudreds of your ilk passing through)

It was their because you introduced the concept of world war two into the debate as a parody of current world events so I simpyly used your own paridy within my reply Thats a question for you to answer not me .. I wonder how you expect me to find the reasons behind words you yourself wrote..

Please take no offfence but are you drinking ?

My nervious dispostion is ticking along nicely and I as yet have felt no offence from your gripe , merely a sense of mystery in trying to define what your point actually is ...

Please refrain from having one on one debates upon my site . Your issues are not ones that relate to the post and it makes others feel as if they are intruding into ap private conversation.

You seem to find me interesting enough to continue posting here so please show curtusy to others that post here and make up a simple email acount and contact me direct. If the conclusion of such a debate is worthy of any further discusion then I will gladly place the issue up as a topic for others to debate.

As a moderator of this site (which can be quite busy) especially in regard to constant emails etc it would be unjust to continue to run question and answer sessions with you which takes away from the time I have to reply to other equaly worthy people who may have points to raise with me

I am trying (i hope you can see) to be as polite as possible but you must try to understand that this is not a free for all post what you want web site . thats why I put the email here so people like yourself can ask all you wish without the need to deflect the flow from other readers.

Kindest regards


May 06, 2006 2:43 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as drinking maybe I should then I may understand why you used that in your arguement if u didnt understand why me using numbers of those killed by the Nazis in WW2 was adequate reason for war vs those in 911 my friend u r drunk.
As far as it being a parody ??? haha with what purpose to show your own lack of point of arguement....perhaps as proved by dancing about with parody this and that and not answering me thank u for proving my point.
Im sure u r quite busy fighting evil america my friend ....delete this and avoid the issue as you so far have excelled at.
Funny part is I know u read this before u delete it....a man who can twist words so illy as to use a Sex Pistols song and its position on the popular music charts as arguement to prove all America is messed up and Britain isnt just because some Americans are angry that their national anthem has been altered is sad man really...delete this knowing that your obvious hatred for America is well cemented in my mind and that haha your blog isnt anything but a forum to sow your seeds of anti americanisim.
Your ilk exist for popular condemnation of another nation.
Yours truly

May 06, 2006 3:00 am  
Blogger _H_ said...

LOL delete that No way its a classic , it has to stay ... Better inform my wife of my hatred of her country (she is american) ..

In fact hatred of Americans is clearly banned in the posting policy of this site so maybe i should ban my self quick !!! .

but if it makes you feel better maybe I should help

My alien fleet will be landing shortly to take over your evil regime un less you hand over the one they call George bush to our labortory for testing

meanwhile feel free to read the whole site and judge my many friends accross the pond in any way you see fit.

who needs reality when I have you so quick and able to judge the motives of a man you have never met and a web site you have barely examined (judging by your IP)

Facts tend to get in the way of opinions sometimes , but hey dont let that stop you.

Now remind me again .. your anonymous due to not wanting to be harrased or in order for you to harrass for I see nobody harrasing you. but you do seem to be failing to acknowledge the simple request that I have made of you on my own creative web space .

In short I already know who I am and why I do what I do , you merely assume , feel free to design a web site to anylise me to your hearts content and meanwhile I will continue to behave in the way that I do , for the reasons that I do which as yet your powers of perception have failed to detect.

Now please . I do not find you offensive so please take no offence. Keeps posts on topic or enter the void . the rule applies to all on this site and I can not make you an exception

May 06, 2006 3:14 am  
Anonymous Dave (UK) said...


Who was that 'illy' gentleman H. Yout get all sorts I supppose. Still more polite than the usual Nationalists it seems what his point is (or at least the one in his head) Has failed to make into legible contructive argument on the page.

Maybe Djeb or Hype can decipher what on earth he is ranting about but I am glad you kept it if only to laugh at at the desperation at claiming you hate America . hehehe great stuff .

Dont I remember someone once claiming you worked for the CIA and you were logging all the IP numbers so they could investigate all the dissedents. Sadly anonymous must take second place in the idiotic assesment table for the CIA claim was the best of all time.

Love it !

May 06, 2006 3:48 am  
Blogger DJEB said...

Maybe Djeb or Hype can decipher what on earth he is ranting about

Sorry Dave. I am busy trying to establish a sustainable home for a client and start a business at the same time. For better or worse, I don't have the time to engage anything other than reality. After glancing at the first paragraph (not even reading it), I see that anon starts blowing off about the Nazis. That was the warning flag that told me not to waste my time.

May 08, 2006 3:18 pm  

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