Friday, June 06, 2003

War Blog Iraq War Updates
Blix attacks Blair warnings over Iraqi weapons in IraqWar.ru (English)

Debate on Iraq?s Missing Weapons in IraqWar.ru (English)

Saddam search returns to bomb site in IraqWar.ru (English)

UK soldier held in Iraq over child porn in IraqWar.ru (English)

US intervenes to aid Blair over Iraq arms doubts in IraqWar.ru (English)

Bush tells troops war on Iraq was justified in IraqWar.ru (English)

Qatar Airways to launch services to Iraq in IraqWar.ru (English)

Should India send peacekeeping force to Iraq? in IraqWar.ru (English)

Grenade Kills U.S. Soldier in Iraq in IraqWar.ru (English)

U.S. triples its occupying troops in two Iraqi towns to stifle attacks in IraqWar.ru (English)

Bush vows defense of Taipei in IraqWar.ru (English)

U.S. Troops Attacked Again In Central Iraq: "From WISN / AP :
The hit-and-run attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq continue with a firefight near an air base west of Baghdad.
Unidentified assailants fired rocket-propelled grenades and small arms at a U.S. patrol, including an M1A1 Abrams tank and a military police Humvee. The tank wasn't damaged, but the Humvee had numerous bullet holes in it. Soldiers returned fire, but there were no reports of casualties on either side ...
... Meanwhile, U.S. military sources say that two soldiers guarding a bank in downtown Baghdad were wounded Thursday when two men with pistols opened fire on them. The sentries returned fire and killed one of the attackers, while the other managed to flee.

In Command Post: Irak

Iraq Democracy Watch: ""Time to play hardball"
... at least according to an advisor to Massoud Barzani, a leader of the KDP and member of the "G7" leadership council.  The Boston Globe summarizes the meeting between Barzani and Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim (another "G7" member), "in a symbolic, and potentially formidable, challenge to the US-led occupation authorities' plan to appoint an interim national government." 
Barzani was busy yesterday.  The NYT reports on a separate meeting he had with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sestani, who has been keeping a low political profile, and yet who is also one of the most respected Shi'ite leaders in the world.  The fact that Al-Sestani even met with Barzani, when the former has all but said in the past that clerics should stay out of politics, says a lot.  So does the fact that he now seems to be viewing the American presence as "... an occupation, not a liberation, as the people have been told..."
What we have to remember is that these are the moderates.  Not Ba'athists or militants.  I feel a bit like Cassandra, here, but it's a really, really bad sign when you start alienating the moderates.
Speaking of alienating people, the Christian Science Monitor reported yesterday on some of the specific threats coming from Iraqi ex-military officers.  These are men who claim to have deliberately chosen not to fight American forces in order to ensure the fall of Hussein.  They're out of work, now, and are clamoring for a reversal of the policy that prevents them from being rehired.  And if not?  "By next Monday, if we don't have results, we will form a new Iraqi army, called the Armed Front Against the Occupation..."
This could be bad, given that the Washington Post quotes an unnamed "senior Pentagon official" as saying that he has not seen the army stretched this thin in his 31 years of military service.
We don't seem to be operating in much of a spirit of dialogue and negotiation.  Would it be so bad to pay off the military officers for the time being, without rehiring them?  Would it be so bad to go ahead and have a conference that would work on setting up a constitution?  To let the UN have a larger role, including peacekeeping? 
This lack of creativity and flexibility in our policy reminds me of a comment I made some time ago when Bremer was first hired:  he has a reputation as an ideologue.  And he seems to be reflecting the equally ideological views of his employers -- the ones who dislodged Garner, Bremer's predecessor.


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