29 August 2006

They wonder who the government is — and what ever happened to "peace"

Remember Afghanistan? Here is the perspective of Ann Jones, who has spent much of the last four years working in Afghanistan, on why it's not working there.
Remember when peaceful, democratic, reconstructed Afghanistan was advertised as the exemplar for the extreme makeover of Iraq? In August 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was already proclaiming the new Afghanistan "a breathtaking accomplishment" and "a successful model of what could happen to Iraq." As everybody now knows, the model isn't working in Iraq. So we shouldn't be surprised to learn that it's not working in Afghanistan either.

The story of success in Afghanistan was always more fairy tale than fact - one scam used to sell another. Now, as the Bush administration hands off "peacekeeping" to NATO forces, Afghanistan is the scene of the largest military operation in the history of that organization. Today's personal email brings word from an American surgeon in Kabul that her emergency medical team can't handle half the wounded civilians brought in from embattled provinces to the south and east. American, British, and Canadian troops find themselves at war with Taliban fighters - which is to say "Afghans" - while stunned NATO commanders, who hadn't bargained for significant combat, are already asking what went wrong.

The answer is a threefold failure: no peace, no democracy, and no reconstruction.

28 August 2006

And the winner is-- ?

Did Hezbollah lose its war with Israel, as suggested here? Or maybe not
Clausewitz 101: "War is an extension of politics by other means."; I.e., what really counts is the political outcome, not the kill ratios or other metrics of physical damage caused.

At the level of politics we now have Nasrallah supported by 72% of his public and Olmert supported by either 37 or 26 percent of his

27 August 2006

What the Iraqi people want

Data from a recent survey indicates that by large margins, Iraqi people do not support the presence of coalition troops in Iraq.
The bottom line: 91.7% of Iraqis oppose the presence of coalition troops in the country, up from 74.4% in 2004. 84.5% are "strongly opposed". Among Sunnis, opposition to the US presence went from 94.5% to 97.9% (97.2% "strongly opposed"). Among Shia, opposition to the US presence went from 81.2% to 94.6%, with "strongly opposed" going from 63.5% to 89.7%. Even among the Kurds, opposition went from 19.6% to 63.3%. In other words, it isn't just that Iraqis oppose the American presence - it's that their feelings are intense: only 7.2% "somewhat oppose" and 4.7% "somewhat support."

Maybe there are reasons for keeping American troops in Iraq, but "it's what the Iraqi people want" really doesn't seem to be one of them.

This despite President Bush's assertion that there will be no withdrawl of American troops from Iraq as long as he is president and one of his reasons given was that "it's what the Iraqi people want".

Also of interest, is Iraqi belief on the main reason for the illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq:

The most recent survey, done in April this year, also asked for "the three main reasons for the U.S. invasion of Iraq." Less than 2% chose "to bring democracy to Iraq" as their first choice. The list was topped by "to control Iraqi oil" (76%), followed by "to build military bases" (41%) and "to help Israel" (32%).

23 August 2006

"Pilotless" is a bit of misnomer

Details on the Israell attack on a Marjayoun Convoy of Lebanese civilians.
There are few marks on the road where the missiles hit the innocents of Marjayoun. But there are the memories of what happened immediately after the Israeli airstrike on the convoy of 3,000 people after dark on 11 August: a 16-year old Christian girl screaming "I want my Daddy" as her father's mutilated body lay a few metres away from her; the town mukhtar discovering that his wife, Collette, had been decapitated by one of the Israeli missiles; the Lebanese Red Cross volunteer who went into the darkness of wartime Lebanon to give water and sandwiches to the refugees and was cut down by another missile, and whose friends could not reach him to save his life.

There are those who break down when they recall the massacre at Joub Jannine - and there are the Israelis who gave permission to the refugees to leave Marjayoun, who specified what roads they should use, and who then attacked them with pilotless, missile-firing drone aircraft. Five days after being asked to account for the tragedy, they had last night still not bothered to explain how they killed at least seven refugees and wounded 36 others just three days before a UN ceasefire came into effect.

Who flew the drones? An Israeli soldier of the invasion force? A nameless officer in the Israel Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv? The Israelis knew a civilian convoy was on the road. Yet they sent their pilotless machines to attack it. Why? Last night, the Israeli Defence Ministry had not responded to inquiries from reporters who asked for the answer last Friday.

Somebody hit the button, somewhere from behind a cozy computer console. It has been said that air bombers from great heights are depersonalized from the act of human destruction due to the great distance. But what about the use of "pilotless" drones that make killing as easy as playing a video game? What is the moral culpability for such wanton acts where the agents invoking death can shift blame to the robotic killers executing commands calling for human termination.