Wednesday, October 18, 2006

When the 'options' grow even fewer

The Iraqi government removed the country's two most senior police commanders from their posts on Tuesday, in the first broad move against the top leadership of Iraq's unruly special police forces.
The two generals had led Iraq's special police commandos and its public order brigade, both widely criticized as being heavily infiltrated by Shiite militias. Their removal comes at a crucial time for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who has come under intense American pressure to purge Iraq’s security forces of the militias and death squads that operate within their ranks.

The above is from Sabrina Tavernise's "Iraq Removes Leaders of Special Police" in this morning's New York Times. Tavernise connects the above with the pattern (such as the retraining from last month when police forces were implicated in mass kidnappings in Baghdad -- "death squad killings" is the term she uses). But take in the above and then take in this paragraph:

Iraq's interior minister, Jawad al-Bolani, said Friday that he had already fired more than 3,000 employees, and that, with Mr. Maliki's approval, no one was too senior to be immune. It was not clear, however, how much more of a purge would be needed.

This isn't a "news analysis" Tavernise is writing, nor is it billed as one, but that's what's required. (That decision comes higher than Tavernise.) The paper that's happy to give you "news analysis" out of DC, White House Memo and White House Letter, sticks to straight reporting from Iraq. (Or what sometimes passes for it -- think back to the Go-Go Boys.)

That fails this story.

I didn't watch Frontline last night, I'm sure some did. I'm sure for some it was news -- to some, fresh news. But does anyone absorb or just nod?

Tavernise's report should alarm and had it been a "news analysis" (as opposed to a report), readers might get that. How did Bremer immediately create unrest in Baghdad? Disbanding the army. What's the "answer" to the police crisis?

Over a thousand fired for breaking the law approximately two thousand fired for dereliction of duty. (See yesterday's snapshot for exact figures.) Anyone seeing a problem?

Maybe in three years Frontline can do a report on it and talk about what a boneheaded decision the firings were?

Self-important announcer: In October of 2006, with widespread corruption and the Iraqi police being implicated in kidnappings, killings and aiding the resistance, the decision was made to fire 3,000. They were told to turn in their uniforms and they were cut loose. The resistance saw a huge increase in successful attacks, attacks on a much grander scale, as a result of utilizing the newly unemployed who knew the layouts of police headquarters, knew the schedules, knew the training.

What's the answer? The US gets out. The US can't "fix" Iraq and only an inflated sense of self ever allowed others to think so. The US presence breeds hostility and resentment. The troops need to come home. "SHOULD THIS MARRIAGE BE SAVED?" made those points awhile back. Since then, things have only gotten worse.

That's demonstrated by the issues above. Do you argue for the imprisonment (of those who were fired for breaking laws)? Doing so is advocating more violence, more resentment because of Abu Ghraib and all the Abu Ghraibs known of by Iraqis. (And for the squeemish, we'll add "perceived Abu Ghraibs.") To imprison is an option, probably not a valid one. Just firing them?
Why don't you give them a hot lunch before you send them straight to the resistance (which many were probably sympathetic to but are now going to become part of -- some already were part of it)?

There are no options, there are no answers, there is no room to "maneuver." Those days are long gone. Unless you consider this, from Borzou Daragahi's "Troops Try to Curb Warfare North of Baghdad" (Los Angeles Times), an option:

Amid rumors here that the U.S. might back a change in the government of Iraq, former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a favorite of U.S. Embassy officials, returned this week to Iraq, where he rarely appears though he heads a 25-seat parliamentary bloc.

The troops need to return home. The illegal war should have never been started. The foolish notion that what the US has broken can be "fixed" by the US needs to be relinquished. There is no "room" at this point, there are no options if the war is continued. The puppet can be changed, the reality remains.

Turning to the topic of war resister Ehren Watada,'s "Dad Backs Soldier's Refusal To Go To War" covers Bob Watada's Monday speaking appearance:

"The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers and service members can choose to stop fighting it," Lt. Watada says on the video.
The military calls Lt. Watada's actions illegal. His critics call him a traitor. Online, he has been labeled a coward and yellow-bellied by those who think the government should prosecute him harshly.
[Bob] Watada said he knows his son could face years in prison, so he asked San Diegans to show their support by signing a petition asking the government not to prosecute.
"Even other military officers are thanking him for what he did," Watada said.

Ehren Watada is the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. He's stated that the war is illegal. In August, the military held an Article 32 hearing. The findings (a court-martial was recommended) are snaking their way through the system and will be announced shortly.

Bob Watada was on his second speaking tour to raise awareness about his son. He was speaking at the Thomas Jefferson Law School in an event sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild of San Diego. More information on Watada and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.

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