The end of the occupation…?

Finally, we will see an end to the war in Iraq. One of the final moves in the ‘end game’ is for the Iraqi government to block the installation of permanent US bases in the country.

The Pentagon had wanted the bases to help counter growing Iranian influence in the Middle East. Just a few years ago, the US had plans for leaving behind four large bases but, in the face of Iraqi resistance, this plan had to be scaled down this year to a force of 10,000. But even this proved too much for the Iraqis.

Is this really surprising? What do you think almost every US citizen would say when presented with an occupying Russian force, who wanted to leave 10,000 permanent troops, housed within 4 huge bases?

This is not a major victory for Iran at all. This is a victory for the people of Iraq. How on earth do the Americans expect them to independently govern themselves with a continued military presence in the country?

One of the strongest arguments which I heard during the initial years of the conflict and the start of the terrorist/insurgent phase, was that the very presence of the American military occupation was actually causing the insurgency. The insurgency and lack of security was one of the main reasons for the continued military presence, but if this presence was itself causing the violence, should the American military not leave the country?

I lost track of the number of statements and interviews from Al-Qaeda representatives saying their targets were the American soldiers, or they hoped to cause enough carnage to force them out.

My one major concern is still the presence of the Taliban and their affect on the people, particularly on women’s rights and religious extremism. I’m not sure this is something which the US military can actually sort out, much like their ‘war on drugs’, or their ‘war on terror’. Violence breeds violence. Fighting fire with fire creates a larger fire.

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Balls – Miliband – Iraq

Both Eds have criticised the decision to go to war in Iraq. Well done guys but you’re 7 years too late!

I finished reading ‘Imperial Life in the Emerald City – Inside Baghdad’s Green Zone’ by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, a while a go. I thought given this recent announcement by two of Labours potential future leaders, it would be a good time to review the book.

The book has also just been turned into a film starring Matt Damon called ‘The Green Zone’.

Some quotes from the book…

‘…staffers (who worked for the CPA) were smart and well intentioned, but they weren’t experts in their areas of responsibility, they didn’t have much background working in the Middle east, and they were overloaded. Carney had one deputy to help him run the Industry and Minerals Ministry, which had more than one hundred thousand employees.’ (p.34)

‘I watched resumes of immensely talented individuals who had sought out CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) to help the country, thrown in the trash because their adherence to ‘the president’s vision for Iraq’  was ‘uncertain’. I saw senior civil servants denied advisory positions in Baghdad that were instead handed to prominent RNC (Republican National Committee) contributors.’ (p.102)

‘When he (Mr. Mounzer Fatfat) arrived in Baghdad, his faith once again became an issue. “One of Bremer’s top aides asked me what my religion was. When I answered, he was surprised. ‘Oh, you’re Muslim?’ he said. ‘But you’re not, like, a terrorist, are  you?'” (p.103)

‘One of the biggest problems of Iraq was that we weren’t listening to the Iraqis, and that our presence in the room, just like perhaps Saddam’s presence, was preventing people from thinking independently and taking the initiative. The key was not for us to be more involved, but for us to be less involved.’ (p.284)

“We were so busy trying to build a Jeffersonian democracy and a capitalist economy that we neglected the big picture,” one of Bremer’s aides ruefully told me in late May. “We squandered an enormous opportunity, and we didn’t realize it until everything blew up in our faces.” (p.309)

‘Iraqis needed help – good advice and ample resources – from a support corps of well-meaning foreigners, not a full-scale occupation with imperial Americans cloistered in a palace of the tyrant, eating bacon and drinking beer, surrounded by Gurkhas and blast walls.’ (p.325)

‘”If this place succeeds,” a CPA friend told me before he left, “it will be in spite of what we did, not because of it.”‘ (p.325)

Ok, 7 quotes, but I could have put in hundreds (just read the book, it’s easier!). It’s just a series of unbelievable accounts of ignorance and stupidity. If you thought that the elected government of the most powerful country in the world would know what it was doing, think again.

I would put this book on a reading list for a modern history course. There are so many insights into Iraqi culture. It’s not just a critique of the Iraq war, but an account of the social, cultural and political reasons why that war has totally failed in its stated objectives.

Anyway, just read the book! I can send you my copy.

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New book (sort of)…

Ok, Amazon selling books for 1p is so cool.

I bought Imperial Life in the Emerald City a couple of weeks ago, for 1p and so far it’s the bargain of the year. There was £2.75 for postage, but it’s still a bargain.

Anyway, I would strongly advise everyone to read this book. So far it is a shocking real-life account of events surrounding the Iraq War and a long series of details which show just how inept the planning for post-war Iraq was.

Reading this book, following the Andrew Marr book just highlights how absolutely nothing has changed in the last 60 years. The same issues are coming up and the same flawed characters are there.

Buy the book – it’s cheap and an important modern history lesson.

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History repeating 2…

Looks like i’m not the only one who can see the ‘history repeating itself’ theme of the latest Iraq Inquiry interviews…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/03/iraq-inquiry-blair-missile-shield-iran

Hands up who wants to go to war with Iran….didn’t think so!

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