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Another Reason Not To Do This

By now everyone should have heard of the New York Times article about Donald Vance, the American in Iraq who was thrown into prison for three months by US authorities after he reported on the illegal weapons trading of the company he worked for in Iraq to the FBI. Mary of Pacific Views calls her post: Guilt by Association.

There is another “evil” that is part of what the military did that goes a long way to explaining why they have made no progress in fighting the insurgency in Iraq: this is no way to treat people who give you hard information about activities you are trying to stop.

The most valuable “tools” an “investigator” has are his/her informants, the people who provide him/her with information about what is occurring on “the street.” If your street is in Baghdad and you are chasing insurgents instead of burglars, you still need informants, especially if you can’t blend in with the local people. What the US military did was punish an informant.

In Iraq there is grave danger if you are seen to be tied to the American military, so providing information requires a lot of risk on the part of individuals. Some people may be willing to take the risk for a lot of reasons, but when you throw them in prison if they volunteer information, you can forget any cooperation. You can’t defeat an insurgency without street-level intelligence. Throwing people in solitary when they provide you with intelligence is not a winning strategy.

December 19, 2006   3 Comments

Someone Buy These People A Clue

From CNN: Pentagon: Militia more dangerous than al Qaeda in Iraq.

Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army has replaced al Qaeda in Iraq as “the most dangerous accelerant” of the sectarian violence plaguing Iraq for nearly a year, according to a Pentagon report.

Attacks by Iraqi insurgents and sectarian militias jumped 22 percent from mid-August to mid-November, and Iraqi civilians suffered the bulk of casualties, according to the quarterly report released on Monday.

Okay, real slowly, Muqtada al-Sadr is the only major figure in Iraq who actually wants Iraq to continue as a single nation. He is also the only major figure who distrusts Iran. He maintains contacts with Sunni and Kurdish factions trying to form a true unity government from people who think that breaking Iraq into separate ethnic states is a bad idea. He is currently the most popular leader in Iraq because of his independence from both US and Iranian influence. He is the last, best hope for Iraq emerging from the violence as a nation. Attacking him would be the ultimate in stupidity, so I expect them to do it because they have consistently made the worst possible choices.

December 19, 2006   Comments Off on Someone Buy These People A Clue

Piddling On The Poodle

In a statement of the obvious the BBC headline reads: Blair ‘failed to influence Bush’.

The Chatham House report found that, despite military, political and financial sacrifices by the UK, Mr Blair had been unable to influence the Bush administration in “any significant way”.

It said there was no evidence British pressure had led to Mr Bush accepting a two-state solution in the Middle East.

“Blair has learned the hard way that loyalty in international politics counts for nothing,” said Professor Bulmer-Thomas.

“And his successor will not make the same mistake of offering unconditional support for US initiatives in foreign policy at the expense of a more positive relationship with Europe.”

Not content to leave well enough alone and acknowledge the obvious: Blair stands by US relationship.

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December 19, 2006   3 Comments

He Says It For Me

I was writing a post that was sparked by Ellroon pointing to this article on Media Matters about Robert Pollak being ignorant, but Terry of Nitpicker is subbing for Glenn Greenwald at Unclaimed Territory and he covers what I was going to say in his post: There’s easy and then there’s magic.

Update: Also see: Surging To Defeat In Iraq by W. Patrick Lang and Ray McGovern

December 19, 2006   2 Comments