Category Archives: Iraq

Another Reason for Americans to be Proud of Our Government


Kevin Jon Heller, Bilal Hussein's Kangaroo Court (summarizing Scott Horton's excellent An Update on the Trial of Bilal Hussein).

Given how raw the US's behavior is, this case has gotten remarkably little media: You'd expect reporters to care more about the treatment of a fellow journalist. Perhaps the Pentagon's anti-reporter tactics are getting better?

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Petraeus: Hero, REMF, or Model Proconsul?

Reading this rabidly negative deconstruction of Gen. Petraeus's fruit salad (the tabs and medals on an officer's dress uniform), I was struck by the extent to which it remained open to a counter-narrative. It may be that Patraeus is the antithesis of a fighting General, but it may also be that he is a very good administrator (even if he's also a man who married well and is very good at ascending in environments studded with greasy poles).

It is possible to distrust, even despise, the bootlicking of superiors — evident in the General's public and obsequious support of the Bush administration's political objectives — traits alleged in that article to be long-running hallmarks of a career, and yet admire the ability to motivate subordinates and manipulate the media. Even if one discounts for the besotted reporter factor, it seems pretty clear that the areas of Iraq that General Petraeus's troops occupied were more peaceful and stayed bought longer than other non-Kurdish areas under US control. That was an achievement, exactly the sort we hope for from our modern military Proconsuls, although not one that can easily be replicated on a larger scale now that he's starting from a worse position.

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What’s Big, Wet, and Can Drown 500,000 People?

A nightmare: a dam built on a foundation of gypsum —which dissolves when it comes into contact with water.

Iraqi Dam Seen In Danger of Deadly Collapse: The largest dam in Iraq is in serious danger of an imminent collapse that could unleash a trillion-gallon wave of water, possibly killing thousands of people and flooding two of the largest cities in the country, according to new assessments by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other U.S. officials.

Even in a country gripped by daily bloodshed, the possibility of a catastrophic failure of the Mosul Dam has alarmed American officials, who have concluded that it could lead to as many as 500,000 civilian deaths by drowning Mosul under 65 feet of water and parts of Baghdad under 15 feet, said Abdulkhalik Thanoon Ayoub, the dam manager. “The Mosul dam is judged to have an unacceptable annual failure probability,” in the dry wording of an Army Corps of Engineers draft report.

At the same time, a U.S. reconstruction project to help shore up the dam in northern Iraq has been marred by incompetence and mismanagement, according to Iraqi officials and a report by a U.S. oversight agency to be released Tuesday.

Right, dictator's stupid decision followed up by US incompetence and mis-management in Iraq. If only it was only a nightmare.

See also The Carpetbagger for the usual good commentary.

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We Need More of This

I don't endorse every word of this, but I like the spirit of it.


Yes, we need lots more of this.

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Icelandic Army of One Heads Home from Iraq

It seems that Iceland was one of the countries counted in the 'coalition of the willing' in Iraq — even though it had exactly one soldier on the ground, a press aide. And now, the coalition is down one member because he's going home.

Comedian Andy Cobb has done a video to commemorate this event:

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Spanish ‘Downing Street Papers’

They're calling the scoop by El Pais the Spanish Downing Street Memo.

Just as with the UK version, the leaked Spanish transcript of a talk between GWB and Spanish PM Aznar in February 2003 shows Bush planning to invade privately while publicly denying it. This time he's saying,

Saddam Husein will not change and will keep on playing games. The time has come to get rid of him. That's the way it is. For my part, I will try, from now on, to use the most subtle rhetoric possible, while we seek approval of the resolution

In other words, as if you didn't know, the invasion decision was taken well before the authorizing resolution.

But, come on people, were there really many folks who thought Bush had sent basically the whole US Army to sit on Iraq's borders just to bring them home again?

No, the issue now is if they ever get to come home.

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In 14 Spy Squirrels In Iranian Custody we learn that Iranian authorities have recently arrested more than a dozen squirrels for espionage. Unfortunately, this has no connection with the other piece of Middle-East bait-related news, U.S. Aims To Lure Insurgents With 'Bait': Snipers Describe Classified Program.

From the second story:

A Pentagon group has encouraged some U.S. military snipers in Iraq to target suspected insurgents by scattering pieces of “bait,” such as detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammunition, and then killing Iraqis who pick up the items, according to military court documents.

From the first story:

“In recent weeks, intelligence operatives have arrested 14 squirrels within Iran's borders,” state-sponsored news agency IRNA reported. “The squirrels were carrying spy gear of foreign agencies, and were stopped before they could act, thanks to the alertness of our intelligence services.”

One story is horrific — our tax money is now being used to shoot civilians who bend over to investigate shiny stuff on the street — and the other story is just weird. The article is silent as to what sort of bait was used to catch the squirrels.

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