Sunday, December 06, 2009


Starting with the deaths.

Sunday the US military announced: "BASRA -- A Multi-National Division -- South Soldier died Nov. 29 of non-combat related injuries. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." The announcement brought the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4367.

Turning to Iraqis. Sunday saw 3 people reported dead and 5 wounded. Monday saw the press too busy to report. Tuesday saw 6 reported dead and 22 wounded. Wednesday saw 3 reported dead and 26 reported wounded. Thursday saw 11 dead and 25 injured. Friday saw 4 people reported dead and 6 wounded. Saturday saw 5 dead and 7 wounded. That's at least 32 deaths and at least 91 wounded -- reported. Many go unreported.

The big news last week included the release of a study by the American Anthropological Association as they met in Philadelphia for their national conference. AAA's Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the US Security and Intelligence Communities issued [PDF format] "Final Report on The Army's Human Terrain System Proof of Concept Program." The report found that the goals of counter-insurgency and anthropology are at odds.

On those 'January' elections? Not happening apparently. They may be able to hold elections at the end of February . . . provided they pass something in the Iraqi Parliament today or real soon -- something that does not result in a veto.

In London, the Iraq Inquiry continued to hear public testimony last week. Why did the British participate in the illegal war? Apparently because if everyone else jumped off the cliff, the British were going to as well. From Friday's testimony:

Lt Gen Anthony Pigott: Well, you know the US/UK, Mil/Mil relationship, you would enhance that no end by offering this sort of option that eventually was selected. You would enahnce it no end, and that's a pretty important relationship politically -- I'm talkin gon the Mil side -- where we have enormous access and enormous say in a whole range of things, not just to do with Iraq, but with other things, because they know you are a serious player and they know you have got . . . I put that right up at the front of -- at the heart of the UK/US Mil/Mil relationship, required from a military perspective a -- hence it coming through from the military perspective, something meaty to do, and if there wasn't anything meaty, then we weren't really -- it was a long way to go to do nothing -- you know, meaty.

Commitee Member Roderic Lyne: So it was good for our standing, it was good for our relationship, but they didn't actually --

Lt Gen Anthony Pigott: Good for future links on future operations, it's good for sharing intelligence --

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: So it has some broader benefits --

Lt Gen Anthony Pigott: -- it helps with logistics --

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: -- but they didn't actually pay attention to our advice on how these big issues should be handled in the campaign? They didn't put in enough boots on the ground, they didn't plan properly for the aftermath, as Lord Boyce told us yesterday, despite our advice to the contrary.

So now we know. The British government wanted to be playas and sacrificed British (and Iraqi) lives in order to try to become that. Tuesday saw an interesting question put to a witness and the witness avoid answering it:

Commitee Member Martin Gilbert: How do you account for the scepticism, the general scepticism of the British public, that Saddam constituted a serious danger to the region.

Peter Ricketts: We had spent the previous months concentrating on the threat from Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. We had been through the military intervention in Afghanistan and we were still, at that stage, involved in the aftermath of that, an international security force and the civilian effort in Afghanistan. There was a lot of public attention on Al-Qaeda and the threat from Afghanistan. As we have discussed in previous evidence sessions, we had, in Whitehall, been seriously concerned about the threat from weapons of mass destruction and the risk that they would be reconstituted as the sanctions regime broke down and Saddam got access to more moeny, and it had been a consistent worry. 9/11 and the evidence of terrorist interest in weapons of mass destruction was a further boost. It was a very strong strand in the Prime Minister's thinking and the Foreign Secretary's thinking, but it hadn't been a big feature of public presentation of the counter-terrorism strategy. Therefore, as we focused harder on Iraq, as that was clearly rising up the US political agenda, it was important that we should get out to the public more information about what we saw as the threat from Saddam, Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Why were the British citizens skeptical when the British government wasn't? It's a pretty clear question even if the answer is a muddle. Ricketts was also among those testifying who cited Condi Rice's 'paper on regime change' repeatedly. They must be close readers. Condi's 2000 paper mentions regime change for 83 words -- 83 out of 6,596 words. Since those words were so important to them, surely they also noticed that Condi argued Saddam was determined to develop WMD -- to develop. Not that he had. If Condi's paper carried so much weight, why did her conclusion that he hadn't yet developed WMD not carry weight?

Or were the constant references to the minor passage in her lengthy paper really just a way for some War Hawks to hide behind a better known War Hawk?
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