Casualty count today, 21 days after Bush proclaimed that the Iraq conflict was officially ended: a "... sixth soldier was killed today, military officials said, when "hostile fire" was directed at a convoy on the main supply route from Kuwait near the town of Anaconda. The unidentified soldier was pronounced dead at the 21st Combat Support Hospital, a military statement said.
Late Wednesday, American troops opened fire on an Iraqi civilian vehicle in Samarra, killing two people and wounding two others. Military officials said the vehicle had failed to stop at a roadblock."
David Corn's column in the Nation surveys the current domestic politics about Iraq. According to a poll conducted by the Washington Post, Americans are by and large "unconcerned" about the failure to come up with the stockpiles of anthrax, or the cans of Raid, or the flyswatters supposedly hidden by the nefarious Saddam and available, according to Tony Blair, for use in 45 minutes. Perhaps the anthrax was hidden in the disappearing bunker where Saddam and his sons were supposedly conferring on the first night of the war. Or, this being Baghdad, perhaps they were all loaded onto flying carpets.
As Corn reports, the outline of Bush's planned reconstruction effort in Iraq is as mysterious as the whereabouts of the WMD. Lugar, the senator from Indiana who periodically surfaces in the op ed pages to represent "moderate" Republicanism (he's been seen in public without a knife between his teeth or lighted sparklers in his beard -- another treasured proof that he is near the American middle) has said that the reconstruction will cost 100 billion dollars over the next five years.
The anti-war movement exhausted itself prematurely, and since the war is over -- in the same way that it began, on the President's word -- it is not re-assembling; but it should. In fact, Iraq is going to have to be occupied by multi-national forces; it is going to have to be ruled by Iraqis; it is going to have to be preserved from corporate looting; and it is going to need an infusion of aid from the U.S. that will amount to at least 50 billion dollars in the next year. This is a four point program of extreme unpopularity in the U.S. -- but it needs to be represented. The alternative is slow death for U.S. forces, mass misery for Iraqis, and more and more bombs going off in more and more places outside of Iraq. The anti-war movement was ultimately re-active -- and, at the time, necessarily so. However, the time has come for something more than the barbaric yawp of a NO!
Patrick Cockburn, the author of Out of the Ashes and the most trustworthy commentator on Iraq working in the press, has a piece in the Independent today on Blair's comic opera re-enactment, in Basra, of Henry V at Agincourt. Here are some grafs:
"There was a brief moment at the time of the fall of Baghdad on 9 April when the US and Britain could have persuaded Iraqis that they were not facing a foreign occupation. But in the weeks since, looting has continued, plans for a representative government have been put on the back burner and the US has tried to rule by fiat. The result is that any political capital gained by the Anglo-American alliance in the war has ebbed away in the eyes of Iraqis.
At the beginning of war, Britain and America dropped leaflets on the Iraqi regular army saying that they were not the target and the war was only against Saddam in Baghdad. But last week Paul Bremer, the American envoy, simply dissolved the Iraqi armed forces which means that hundreds of thousands of soldiers, and above all the largely Sunni-Muslim officer corps, are now out of a job so long as the occupation continues. It is an ominous development if Iraq is ever to return to civil peace. After all, the political and military reasoning behind the invasion was that was the regime could be decapitated because its real support among Iraqis was limited. But the US and Britain have stood by as the Iraqi state machinery - traditionally quite efficient - dissolved. Or they have actively closed it down."
The ending graf is a forecast that is coming true before our eyes:
"Mr Bremer's decision on dissolving the army means that Iraq will be full of soldiers who have every interest in fighting the occupation. Given the unpopularity of the previous regime, the US and Britain today have astonishingly few friends. If they are going to stay, they are going to have to fight."
The great press J-Lo Bremer is getting in the U.S. has to do with the fact that he is authoritarian -- the Press loves that CEO like command, the ukases, the whole we are in charge here bit, and they figure the Gunga Dins over there will love it too. But the chop chop thing seems to LI to be grotesquely miscalculated. Smilin' Jay was a disaster; Bremer is worse, he's the Alexander Haig of Iraq.