Friday, October 27, 2006
October's death toll so far
Security forces 144
Source: The Guardian
And while I'm at it, it seems my freiends at The Economist have taken up the same chalice as I have below. Obviously, their argument is much more persuasive and succinct than mine. [God love their Style Guide. A book to live one's life by]
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
So basically, no-one in Australia has been able to articulate a strategy for resucitating this basket-case of a nation that we have played our part in creating. Without wanting to dwell on the descriptor "basket-case", the previous leader of the Australian Labor Party announced a "troops home by Christmas" policy. My question for him was, and remains: "If we unceremoniously remove our troops," (hang on, it would occur ceremoniously) "what intentions do we have towards these people whose land we have invaded and trashed?" Is the answer "Leave it ot the Iraqis to sort out, it's their country"? Is it "Let the Americans sort out their own mess, thereby creating their Middle Eastern Trojan Horse"? Mr Latham seemed to think the Australian electorate was so stupid as to accept that a four-word policy had some sort of logical rationale behind it that might help the poor people we have invaded to restore reliable electricity and potable water. Mr Howard certainly thinks all the Australian public wants is platitudes rather than substance, though his soundbites are shorter—"stay the course", "cut and run"—and Mr Beazley, well, poor old Kim.
Bottom line: neither of the current "left" reponse—troops out now—nor the "right" response—stay until the job is done—take into account that what was once a structured, relatively wealthy, secular nation ruled by a despot, can no longer stand on its own because of what has been done in our name; what is the US trying to achieve there? do we agree with these aims? do we blindly stay or is turning our backs the right way to go? Is there any way we can, as a nation, exert pressure on these modern-day conquistadores? I can name only one prominent "coalition" leader, of the Liberal Democrats in the UK, who has thought beyond platitudes:
Sir Menzies Campbell: New strategy must come through UN
The Independent, published: 24 October 2006
Any new strategy for Iraq requires an understanding of the mistakes that have led to the current crisis.
De-Baathification was excessive and unjust, and the disbandment of Iraqi security forces created a power vacuum. There have been prolonged delays in the transfer of political power, restoration of governance, and the training of Iraqi security forces; a failure to rebuild police forces; a paucity of civilian officials with sufficient expertise; and inadequate measures to re-establish services, with poor financial oversight.
At the same time, there has been a disproportionate use of military force, a failure to apply accepted counter-insurgency techniques or alternative means to minimise violence, and a system of abusive, indefinite detention of Iraqis.
It is now essential that through the United Nations, the Iraqi government and its allies develop a new strategy. What might it contain?
First, a regional contact group could strengthen and promote the constructive engagement of Iraq's neighbours, assist dialogue with insurgent groups and improve border controls. Iran and Syria can no longer be ignored.
Second, enhanced measures are required to train Iraqi security forces. Third, a comprehensive, UN-led disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration strategy is necessary to deprive illegal armed groups of their grip on power.
Fourth, there must be an end to systematic detentions by Iraqi and US forces. These are in breach of international law and have perpetuated the insurgency. Fifth, expanding United Nations and World Bank involvement in the reconstruction process would enhance delivery, transparency and accountability.
Sixth, Iraq needs a programme for the withdrawal of coalition troops, to counter the perception of occupation and illegitimacy. Iraqis view coalition forces not as liberators, but as occupiers.