2003 September 3

News roundup

It's been long enough since I've posted that I'm starting to feel like I have to write something really big to catch up on it all, and that prospect is becoming daunting enough to stop me from writing anything. Which is stupid. So here's a mini-roundup of news items from the past day or two that seem to deserve pointers. Ease myself back into the habit of writing, and get to my personal updates shortly.

In case you still thought rebuilding Iraq was going to be just like Germany and Japan, Daniel Benjamin in Slate points out:

It's hard to understand exactly what Rumsfeld was saying, but if he meant that the Nazi resisters killed Americans after the surrender, this would be news. ... the total number of post-conflict American combat casualties in Germany—and Japan, Haiti, and the two Balkan cases—was zero.

Bruce Rolston on what what bringing "multinational reinforcements" into Iraq really means:

That just leaves India as the one country that could conceivably provide sufficient troops to make a dent in the Americans' coming February-April replacement delta. It hasn't been said enough that whenever people talk about going to the UN, or broadening the coalition, they really mean winning over the Lok Sabha. Trouble is, given their history of fighting and dying all over the Old World as British proxies in two world wars, they're probably one of the countries most sensitive about the whole loss-of-national-command thing.

He doesn't mention Canada as an option, but he's talked about us before: like Germany, we're completely committed to Afghanistan.

Riverbend takes a road trip across Baghdad:

The looting and killing of today has changed from the looting and killing in April. In April, it was quite random. Criminals were working alone. Now they’re more organized than the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) and the troops combined. No one works alone anymore- they’ve created gangs and armed militias. They pull up to houses in minivans and SUVs, armed with machineguns and sometimes grenades. They barge into the house and demand money and gold. If they don’t find enough, they abduct a child or female and ask for ransom. Sometimes the whole family is killed- sometimes only the male members of the family are killed.

For a while, the men in certain areas began arranging ‘lookouts’. They would gather, every 6 or 7 guys, in a street, armed with Klashnikovs, and watch out for the whole area. They would stop strange cars and ask them what family they were there to visit. Hundreds of looters were caught that way- we actually felt safe for a brief period. Then the American armored cars started patrolling the safer residential areas, ordering the men off the streets- telling them that if they were seen carrying a weapon, they would be treated as criminals.

She also has a good read on the joy of bringing American defense-contractor accounting to Iraq.

Salam Pax's family's house gets raided by American soldiers:

They came at around 12 midnight they were apparently supposed to do a silent entrance and surprise the criminal Ba’athi cell that was in my parents house, unfortunately for them our front gate does a fair amount of rattling so my brother heard that and opened the door and saw a couple of soldiers climbing on our high black front gate. When the silent entrance tactic failed they resorted to shouty entrance mode. So they shouted at him telling him that he should get down on his knees, which he did. He actually was trying to help them open the door, but whatever. Seconds later around 25 soldiers are in the house my brother, father and mother are outside sitting on the ground and in their asshole-ish ways refused to answer any questions about what was happening.

The point of these last entries is not that they prove in any way that the occupation will fail; they just provide graphic illustration for the slow-witted of why it sucks to live in an occupied country.

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