Law and Order: Iraq Victims Unit

iraq-blood-spigot-al-sabah2.jpgIt's bad enough that the Pentagon's just-released report on Iraq contains some frightening news — some of it quite blunt — for U.S. soldiers and their families. But a closer look reveals some even worse news on the semantic front. In other words, the War Department tried like hell to put a smiley face on things but just couldn't. That means the situation is really bad.

The bottom line is that George W. Bush announced a "New Way Forward" on January 10 — the regime must have borrowed the name from Mao — and a "surge" of U.S. troops, officially named Operation Fardh al-Qanoon (Enforcing the Law, or Law and Order), was launched on February 14. The fardh is something of a farce. Known by its acronym of FAQ (someone has a sense of humor, even if it's unintentional), the surge was supposed to start quelling the violence in Baghdead. Instead, the number of attacks overall has risen and has spread from Baghdad to places like Diyala province.

Since the surge began, the percentage of attacks against the U.S. has declined slightly, but the percentage of attacks against civilians and Iraqi army and cops has increased. The overwhelming majority of attacks, as always, are aimed at American soldiers, proving once again that the only thing that unifies Iraqis who have guns and bombs is that they want us the hell out of their country.

The report's language, though, is the point. The report is titled "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq." What it measures is instability and insecurity.

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A key chapter is titled "National Reconciliation." What it measures is the increasing number of schisms, concluding that "some analysts see a growing fragmentation of Iraq."

"Some analysts"? That's a handy device used by the Pentagon to try to distance itself from its own conclusions. Reporters use that technique when asking tough questions without directly making the accusations themselves so that the conversation doesn't get too personal and the person being questioned will keep talking — "Some people say you did indeed take $10,000 in bribes, Congressman Phil N. DeBlank, and that the money, they say, was in small bills stuffed into a brown envelope."

Anyway, the report's section titled "Political Commitments" is about the lack thereof:

An important element of the New Way Forward is that Iraqis take the lead in devising their own strategy and commit to significant political, economic, and security steps. Reaching consensus among a wide array of political factions with competing agendas has proven difficult, and efforts to pass this legislation are progressing more slowly than desired.

And the section titled "De-Ba'athification Reform" is actually about re-Ba'athification: the long-overdue strategy of re-admitting into the government bureaucracy people who were lesser members of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party — many people had to join Saddam's party to get government jobs, just as people on Long Island had to join the Nassau County GOP (until recently, the nation's most powerful local political machine) if they wanted jobs. The Bush regime and its preposterous pasha, Jerry Bremer, swept everyone out of the army and government in 2003, a move that since has been called the U.S.'s gravest miscalculation of the entire Iraq debacle.

Digression: Way back on May 14, 2003, when Bremer disbanded the Iraqi army, the San Francisco Chronicle's Robert Collier wrote:

U.S. officials said they will not pay past or current salaries of the former army, secret police and presidential guard. The move essentially disbands those forces — but does not provide any formal means of disarming the ex-combatants.

Good move, Jerry. You earned your Medal of Freedom then and there. (See "Full Medal Jackoffs," December 15, 2004.)

Back to the current Pentagon report. On the re-Ba'athification, it notes:

Strong resistance to the return of Ba'athist officials persists, particularly in Kurdish areas and among Shi'a leaders, despite provisions in the draft law intended to exclude former officials believed to be culpable for human rights abuses.

Reforms could be delayed by months, and high-profile attacks by Sunni insurgents and extremists could continue to exacerbate Shi'a fears of a Ba'athist resurgence.

To be fair, the report's section titled "Government Reform" is about something that hasn't yet happened:

Strong democratic institutions that impartially serve all Iraqis, foster conditions for national reconciliation, and transcend regional, sectarian and tribal divisions remain critical to Iraq's success. Recognizing the poor performance of some ministries, Prime Minister Maliki promised to reform his government to fight corruption, reduce sectarianism, and improve the provision of essential services to all Iraqis.

And finally, the section titled "Rule of Law" shows that there isn't much:

In the past two and a half years, 24 judges have been assassinated. Some judges decline to try cases related to terrorism or the insurgency because of intimidation and security concerns. As a result, in some provinces very few serious criminal cases result in convictions.

One thing, however, that the surge has done is increase the number of people arrested:

As a result of FAQ, the number of persons held in detention in March and April was nearly 20% higher than the monthly average for December through February. Consequently, the U.S. is working with the Iraqi government to increase short-term detention capacity by constructing facilities that will hold an additional 6,000 beds by mid-September 2007. In addition, detainee abuse is a problem in Iraqi pre-trial detention facilities run by both MoI and MoD.

"Beds"? Those are prison-cell beds. At last, some good news: We're building more prisons. That's something the U.S. knows about: We have the highest prison population rate in the world.

The report says the U.S. has vowed to show the Iraqis how to run their prisons. The report doesn't say who we're sending them to do that. Hopefully it's not Lynndie England.


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