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    Resignations..., 2003-04-17 20:01:46 | Main | But don't take my word for it:..., 2003-04-18 16:47:19

    effortless occupation suggests a lack of effort:

    Fisk digs through Saddam memorabilia in a visit to the Ministry of Love, and raises some upsetting questions. Similar concerns are raised by Fred Kaplan.

    The primary concern has been why the US command has not attempted to do more to keep civil order in Iraqi cities, which in large part continues. I've been reading statements about how we're "moving to stabalize the country" ever since we took Baghdad, but very few reports from the ground seem to affirm such statements from CENTCOM. NPR yesterday was reporting that looting was subsiding primarily because there was nothing left to loot. Looting is apparently giving way to an increase in anti-occupation protests.

    If they simply don't have the resources to secure government ministries and basic infrastructure why are there so many reports of US personel looking on as looters sack hospitals and museums and arsonists torch buildings? I can't find press reports detailing how many troops specifically are in Baghdad, there are troops from the Army 3rd Infantry Division and there are reportedly 14,000 soldiers from the 1st Marine Division. I'm no military hack, but just on the face of it 20-30,000 troops should be capable of more than securing the oil and interior ministries - it doesn't seem like a terribly efficient allocation of resources. I haven't seen any coherent argument made that something more could not have been done. The question of the 4th infantry division that was not deployed remains relevant because of the responsibilities on the part of the invader to maintain some semblance of order during an occupation - nevermind a "liberation".

    Fisk's concerns about why evidence from the numerous government offices isn't being secured is a legitimate one, that raises questions about whether or not the administration actually has an interest in securing the evidence: it's a fact (simply by virtue of the fact that numerous US corporations have been indited recently for breaking sanctions, nevermind past USG support for the regime) that the documents will implicate both US and European players along with Iraqi forces in the crimes of the regime. I can't imagine them wanting evidence implicating Americans during their kangaroo court after the war, and while imagining them paying off Iraqis to destroy such evidence might be overtly cynical not making any attempts to secure the evidence amounts to about the same thing. If the administration was at all concerned about such matters one would expect to see some evidence that efforts were made to address them, all I see is evidence that efforts could have been made that were not.

    And today questions about Saddam's whereabouts return to the table with the release of a video today, reportedly taken the day US marines toppled his statue, of Saddam amidst a cheering crowd of Iraqis in an "unliberated" part of Baghdad. Nevertheless, in Saddam's abscence a close ally of neo-con puppet and kleptocrat Ahmed Chalabi has declared himself the "unanimously" elected "vizier" of Baghdad.

    I'm willing to grant that Fisk's exhortations might demonstrate more impatience for results than I feel comfortable entertaining, albiet his position on the ground doesn't grant him access to the latest news of efforts he finds lacking in his vicinity (such as today's captures of Baath party officials). I don't expect the impossible but I do expect the USG to do everything possible. Responding to the needs of civillians when they've been so obviously dire, if nothing else, should have taken precedent over hunting down Saddam's extended family and weapons that have yet to actually materialize, and, being as the response continues to be inadequate, should take precedence now.

    For its part the Pentagon has switched from claiming that the reports of chaos have been overblown to claiming that they were "caught off guard" by the looting, which completely fails to explain why "U.S. troops did nothing to intervene" when they've had the opportunity. US forces reportedly secured Baghdad's water supply station on the 12th, and 11 hours ago the IRC reported that water was restored to eastern Baghdad, yet CNN just reported that Baghdad remains powerless and waterless, "Every day we get told it'll probably be on tomorrow. It hasn't happened yet." Because of the continuing chaotic security situation relief efforts remain largely stalled, over a week after the Baghdad airport was taken the first humanitarian flight has only just arrived. Reports that psychiatric patients were raped during the looting are just surfacing.

    An irresponsible occupation for an irresponsible war: watching CNN and FOX it looked like the US was spending more time securing Saddam's bachelor pads than trying to secure the peace.


:: posted by buermann @ 2003-04-18 07:14:25 CST | link





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