Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The targeting of the Iraqi police

The weekend trend in Iraq was attacks on police officers resulting in the deaths of at least 6 police officers with eight more wounded. Though primarily in Mosul, the attacks also took place in Baghdad and Kirkuk.

On Saturday, 1 was killed and one wounded and a Mosul bombing targeting a police squad car resulted in one civilian being injured, Sunday's numbers were 3 killed with two wounded while a Mosul car bombing targeted the police but wounded three civilians, and Monday saw 2 killed and five wounded. (And use links in linked day's entries for wounded totals.)

Meanwhile 'safe' Iraq still requires police training takes place . . . outside the country. Iraq's Foreign Ministry announced Sunday that their ambassador to Canberra, Ghanim Taha al-Shebly, attended graduation ceremonies for Iraqi police officers in . . . Australia: "Ambassador AL-Shebly delivered a speech on the occasion in which he expressed his thanks to the Federal Police and the Australian Government for their initiative in providing development programs to the elite members of the Iraqi National Police, which included training in management and leadership development, administrative and criminal evidence in order to strengthen the Iraqi Police Service." The Ministry also announced Sunday that Mustafa Musa Tawfik, Charge d'affairs in the Iraqi Embassy in Seoul, gave a speech at the "training course for the dvelopment of policies and programs human rights in filed in Iraq" in . . . (South) Korea.

The need to continue training outside of Iraq is not surprising considering the ongoing violence; however, it needs to be noted that US government ended the training program which had been taking place in Jordan even though it was cost effective and, according to outsiders, effective period. The claim at the time was that training should take place in Iraq where it would be more cost efficient. And lucky for that cover story, reporters haven't been eager to point out that Iraqis continue to train in foreign countries. The only real difference now is that they are not training in Arab countries.

As Iran's Press TV observes, "Violence continues to surge in Iraq." The New York Times plays the quiet game -- filing no report from Iraq today.

Meanwhile, how stupid do you have to be to be a reporter in New Jersey? Ask George Berkin who feels the need to offer a false comparison in "Iraq and Vietnam" (New Jersey Star-Ledger) which only demonstrates how out of touch he is:

On the day of the U.S. withdrawal, four American soldiers were killed in combat in Baghdad. The following day, a bomb exploded in an outdoor market in Kirkuk, in the northern part of Iraq, killing more than two dozen people.
But last week's withdrawal was in sharp contrast to another American military withdrawal a generation ago. As the last Americans left Saigon in April 1975, the enduring image is of desperate South Vietnamese clinging to U.S. helicopters rising from our embassy compound.
That withdrawal from Saigon came two years after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in January 1973. Designed to end a war ongoing since 1959, the treaty was signed by the four combatants: North and South Vietnam, the Viet Cong, as well as the U.S.

But US forces didn't withdraw last week. The fall of Saigon is a false comparison, it's so false it's laughable. US helicopters were evacuating embassy staff. Having confused the fall of Saigon (in such a manner that peace activists like myself and pro-war hawks could find common ground in agreeing that Berkin's analogy is not only outrageous but also stupid), Berkin goes on to declare, in an aside, "some American troops will remain temporarily in Iraq". Temporarily? Temporarily is a few weeks. What an idiot. What a fool. New Jersey should be embarrassed to have Berkin as their 'ambassador of good will.'

On the topic of fools, Robert McNamara -- still (and thankfully) dead. Yesterday at the Washington Post, Robert G. Kaiser hosted an online discussion and Deborah Shapley attempted to interject some reality about 'reformed' and 'learned' McNamara:

Washington, D.C.: Hi Bob -- I wrote a biography of McNamara, "Promise and Power," published in 1993. For the record, he told me he did not quit over the grim outlook in Vietnam because he wasn't that sure he was right, and because holding on could force Hanoi's hand politically, in his view. Therefore, the deaths of additional Americans at that time (1965 ff) were not in vain.
My personal opinion is that his 1995 book "In Retrospect" gave the impression he thought the war was 'totally wrong' at the time -- which is not what his record shows -- at all! He went on telling the president they could bring off something-or-other, albeit in more pessimistic terms.
Some people want to seem on the right side of history even when they were on what 'in retrospect' was the wrong side of history. Too bad for the servicemen that he misrepresented (or seemed to misrepresent) his own record.

Robert G. Kaiser: Greetings. Glad to have this opportunity to field comments and questions about one of the most interesting Americans of my time.
This first question is from Deborah Shapley, a fine writer, and it provides a wonderful way to introduce today's chat. Anyone who saw Errol Morris's brilliant The Fog of War documentary about McNamara knows how complicated a fellow he was. Deborah rightly points out that he never had one consistent line on Vietnam, which of course will be the thing, the tragedy, the disaster, for which he will be best remembered. He certainly did want to do penance for the war--I think that is why he went from the Pentagon to running the World Bank, to try to help the world's poor. He also wanted to find a way to say he was sorry, without every saying "I'm sorry." Not an easy thing to do.

There was nothing "brilliant" about Errol Morris' ode to war. At some point, it will be noted that all of Morris' documentaries appear to exist to mitigate the actions of the guilty (as true with Fog of War as with his hideous Abu Ghraib film). Today on Democracy Now!, Marilyn Young, Jonathen Schell and Howard Zinn will discuss War Criminal McNamara. Schell lost his credibility years ago and 2008 and early 2009 have been one long embarrassment for Zinn (maybe he'll turn that around today) so that really only leaves Young as anyone you can count on for reality based on their most recent histories.

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