Monday, June 28, 2004

The Handover in Iraq

For one Iraqi's thoughts on the turnover of political control see Mohammed at Iraq The Model. He concludes with a heart evidently overflowing with sincere gratitude:

A big greeting to the courageous and noble man; Mr. Bremer whom we saluted this morning. He proved that he's the right man for the tough times. He struggled together with his Iraqi brothers to overcome the hardships in a critical era for this country and the whole world. I'm going to miss his presence and so are many other Iraqis because we feel that who left today is one of Iraq's sons.

A big greeting to the men who decided to bear the responsibility of Iraq's safety and Iraq's future. They needed courage and faith to decide to work for Iraq in this hard time. May God help them guide this country with wisdom until the day when elections come.

It's hard to appreciate the efforts of all those who helped us to get our freedom and rebuild our country. We will never forget them. We will keep them in our hearts. God bless Iraq and her people. God bless America and her people.

God bless all the coalition forces who supported operation Iraqi freedom. May God bless the souls of all those who sacrificed their lives to free Iraq.

I don't know how many Iraqis Mohammed speaks for, but it's for certain he doesn't speak for the embittered souls at who are convinced the U.S. is "tucking tail and running" to escape a disaster of our own making. The good folks at Truthout are just distraught that all their predictions of inevitable catastrophe in Iraq have yet to come to pass, but just wait. They will. William Rivers Pitt of Truthout writes:

The American people are not comfortable dealing with words like "total failure" and "ruined credibility," but these are words that all of us are going to have to become accustomed to.

A process that began in September 2002 as a coordinated propaganda blitz to convince Americans they were on the verge of being gassed by an Osama-Saddam Axis of Doom, a process that was swathed in flags and a snarling, nationalistic patriotism, a process that has in the last 22 months delivered 855 dead American soldiers, thousands of gravely wounded American soldiers and over ten thousand dead Iraqi civilians to our collective doorstep, has now concluded with a farcical handover of 'sovereignty' in the dead of night.

"Total failure" and "ruined credibility" are the watchwords for the day. A process that never should have begun in the first place, a process which had nothing to do with defending the United States, has led us to a place where every 'goal' put forth by the Bush administration, no matter how stupid or simple, has turned to ash. This is the great gift Mr. Bush has delivered to us: A midnight deal, a washing of hands, and a quick exit out the back door. Honor and integrity indeed.

Pitt is right to mourn the deaths and woundings of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians, but the rest of this piece sounds more like the ravings of a fanatic who realizes he's about to be discredited before the whole world. I think Mohammed in Iraq probably has a better grasp of things there than does Mr. Pitt

Iraq and Yellow Cake

Remember the furor over President Bush's claim that Iraq was seeking Uranium ore from Niger? Remember the gleeful scoffing when one of the pieces of evidence turned out to be a forgery, putting large dollops of egg on administration faces? Well, it turns out that three European intelligence services had independent evidence of the truth of the administration's assertions. The Financial Times has the story. Thanks for the tip to Power Line which closes their piece with this:

The Bush administration has known this all along. So why did it withdraw the Niger claim, rather than defending it? Who knows. It's too late now, in any event. If the administration thinks it can pull this chestnut out of the fire at this late date, it is mistaken. What Bush said was true, but the facts ceased being important long ago.

Probably true. The public has only a limited ability to absorb new information once it has decided that something has been proven. The masses, unfortunately, base their opinions on impressions rather than upon reason or facts. The impression that Bush was bamboozled by a forgery about Iraqi attempts to buy Niger yellow cake has been fixed like a stain in the public consciousness and will probably be almost impossible to eradicate, no matter how much evidence accumulates.

The Irony of Abortion

Opinion Journal has a piece that argues that abortion in America cost the Democrat party about six million voters in 2000, that the cost will be even greater in 2004 and increase every election afterward. It's an interesting analysis and, if valid, extremely ironic.

Torture Redux

Viewpoint has argued before (6/6/2004) that much of what is being written and said about the awfulness of the Bush administration with regard to the matter of torture is hard to credit. Not only are his critics using this issue in a disingenuous fashion to hurt the president politically, but Bush himself is hard to take seriously when he says that he would never order torture.

If it is true that he would never permit someone to be tortured then what would he do in the very plausible scenario of a nuclear bomb hidden in a major city set to go off in ten hours. Suppose one of the terrorists has been captured but will not divulge the location of the bomb. If the President would not order him to be tortured to extract the information needed to save millions of lives then I suggest he is profoundly wrong and is derelict in his responsibilities as president.

Some readers may blanche at the suggestion that torture might ever be the right thing to do, but the question of torture is not as simple as sound bites on the evening news would have it.

For example, the terrorists in Iraq have recently kidnapped an American Marine. Suppose they threaten to behead him as they have done to others. Suppose further that the Marines have captured an insurgent they have good reason to believe knows where the kidnapped Marine is being kept. He will not divulge the information. Should he be subjected to physical or psychological coercion in order to get the information out of him?

That would be an interesting question to pose to the critics who are trying to skewer the president with this issue. If their answer to the question is no, would they say the same thing if the kidnapped Marine was their brother, or their son? If the critic knew that his/her son's life could be saved from the horror that befell Nick Berg and Paul Johnson and Daniel Pearl, but it was not because American forces were prevented from using methods which might cause pain for the terrorist, would the critic not think that something is out of moral kilter? If he would still say that torturing a terrorist would be wrong even if it were necessary to save his son's life then is he not saying that the physical and psychological well-being of a murderer is more important in his hierarchy of values than the life of his son?

In other words, the questions we should be asking about torture are precisely the ones which so shock the president's opponents. We should be asking not whether torture should ever be used, but rather what constitutes torture and under what circumstances, if any, is it morally permissable. Perhaps some pacifists would still insist that torture is never justifiable, but I suspect that most people would agree that if we found ourselves in either of the scenarios mentioned above torture would be not only morally right, but the refusal to use it would be morally appalling.

Iraq The Model

Ali, an Iraqi writing at Iraq The Model, makes an interesting observation about the economic circumstances of the average Iraqi in Baghdad. It goes against the grain of what has been reported about the employment (and security) situation there. He writes:

I found there that it has become very common that some restaurants and hotels are using work agencies to get workers from Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and the Philippines. Moreover, many families in Baghdad started to hire maids through work agencies; the family would pay 1300 $ for the agency to cover the travel cost of the maid who will get a monthly payment of 100 $ at least.

The question is why don't these people hire Iraqis instead? And why do these people (workers) risk their lives in coming to work in such a "chaotic area"? I think the answer to the 1st question is that most Iraqis can easily find a job that pays more than 100 $ with less effort and commitments. For example a kid (in summer vacation)who help in cleaning the streets and river banks get paid about 120$ by the city hall a month for about 5 hours work.

The answer to the 2nd question can be explained in 2 ways; there seems to be lots of job opportunities in Iraq as a result of private businesses' improvement and an increase in the life standard of a good proportion of Iraqis that made this process (importing workers) a real business and that enabled Iraqis to pay reasonable amounts of money to those workers that make it worthy the risk. The other answer might be that the security conditions in Iraq is not that scary to prevent workers from coming to Iraq and also that Iraq job market seems better for simple workers at least than that in India, Philippines, Sri Lanka and many other Asian countries!!

For years before the war the opposite was true, and no foreigner workers were able or interested to come to work in Iraq, and after all this "destruction and chaos and imminent civil war" this seems to have changed and Iraq has suddenly become a place that attracts many jobless people from different countries! Can anyone give me a reasonable explanation other than what I suggested?!