Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Sort of Open Thread for you while I celebrate the completion of my appointed tasks by reading a book outside in the sun. And perhaps your thoughts will help me get mine organized on an issue I've been following closely, even though I haven't blogged about it in a while.

Iraq.

I will start off by simply saying that the situation worries me greatly. I actively search out good news stories from the country, find a few, but still don't have any sense that the administration has a handle on this, and came into this terribly ill-prepared, and the situation is even more worrisome because of what will be required if the building tensions with N. Korea, explode into open conflict , which may happen a lot sooner than we think...

From Georgie Ann Geyer

All this empire stuff on the part of the illuminati of this administration is serious in getting people killed, but barely serious in any planning for the long run. It is heedless, random expansionism without any base.

The hard road to peace

The killing of six British soldiers and the wounding of eight yesterday shows that the war in Iraq never really ended with the capture of Baghdad and the flight of Saddam Hussein. It also demonstrates that, when the British and Americans invaded Iraq, they entered one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

"Remember even Saddam Hussein found this a difficult place to rule," said an Iraqi neurosurgeon yesterday. He had spent the past four months removing bullets and other munitions from the heads of many Iraqis, 90 per cent of them civilians, who have become casualties of the war and its aftermath.

Iraqis still say they are astonished at the ease with which the US and Britain won the war militarily but have been unable to turn this into a political victory. Iraq, even after the stunningly rapid defeat of its armed forces, was never like Germany or Japan in 1945 because its people had never identified with the regime that was overthrown. Instead, they blame the outside world for supporting Saddam Hussein, tacitly or openly, for so long.

In theory, the US and British armies should be in total control of Iraq, yet they remain curiously isolated within the country. L. Paul Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority - as the occupation administration is known - issues confident assertions that the final remnants of Saddam's supporters are being hunted down and life is returning to normal.

But yesterday in Baghdad there was still no electricity in much of the city.

Sitting outside his office in Sadoun Street in the centre of Baghdad - he said it was too hot to sit inside - Abdul Wahab al-Hashimi, a businessman, laughed contemptuously when told of Mr Bremer's claim. He said: "My company owns a lot of property in Baghdad but we haven't collected any rents because we have nowhere to put the money and we would be immediately robbed if we kept it in the office."

In the months before the war, many Iraqis would say privately that they secretly hoped, with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, they might, for the first time since the start of the Iran-Iraq war, have a normal life without military conflict or sanctions. But life in most of Iraq is anything but normal 10 weeks after the capture of Baghdad. The state collapsed and the US has not succeeded in putting it back together again. Instead, it has added another layer of bureaucracy. In one mental asylum in the city patients did not eat for 24 hours last week because the appropriate American official could not be found whose signature was necessary to spend $600 (£360) on food.

Before the war, some 60 per cent of Iraqis were dependent on the UN's oil-for-food rations to fend off starvation. Today, the figure is higher, because the only big employer in Iraq was the government and that has collapsed spectacularly

And this, via Eve

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