Monday, July 30, 2007

Serious Foreign Policy - For A Shilling

By Cernig

There's an op-ed in the NY Times today gathering great attention and back-slapping from the Right. It says the Iraqi occupation is a "war we just might win".

It's written by long-time shills for the Bush misadventure Ken Pollack and Mike O'Hanlon, who are currently at the Brookings Institution. Glenn Greenwald has the run down on just how often and how completely these two have whored for the Bush administration. Greg Sargent adds even more, including the rather relevant observation that O'Hanlon is a long-time friend of Saint Petreaus. The Think Progress crew have even more and add the obvious observation on today's flight of rose-colored fancy.
Pollack and O’Hanlon applaud the administration’s military strategy for providing “basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people,” praise the ‘reliability‘ of Iraqi security forces, and express genuine surprise over “how well the coalition’s new Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Teams are working.”

O’Hanlon’s metrics of success have no grounding in reality:

– Residents of Baghdad are now receiving just one or two hours of electricity each day
– Iraqi security forces are deserting in large numbers
– A new report released last week found that reconstruction has stalled

Ken Pollack and Michael O’Hanlon: often wrong, but never in doubt.
To Think Progress' list of negative metrics we should probably add the utter lack of political progress in Iraq, the various massive medical crises, the oportunistic nature of current alliances, the continuing sectarian partition of Baghdad, the deceptive sham of supposed reductions in violence that don't even scratch the surface of the overall problem and the one in seven Iraqis who are fleeing their homes.
Two thousand Iraqis are fleeing their homes every day. It is the greatest mass exodus of people ever in the Middle East and dwarfs anything seen in Europe since the Second World War. Four million people, one in seven Iraqis, have run away, because if they do not they will be killed. Two million have left Iraq, mainly for Syria and Jordan, and the same number have fled within the country.

Yet, while the US and Britain express sympathy for the plight of refugees in Africa, they are ignoring - or playing down- a far greater tragedy which is largely of their own making.

The US and Britain may not want to dwell on the disasters that have befallen Iraq during their occupation but the shanty towns crammed with refugees springing up in Iraq and neighbouring countries are becoming impossible to ignore.

Even so the UNHCR is having difficulty raising $100m (£50m) for relief. The organisation says the two countries caring for the biggest proportion of Iraqi refugees - Syria and Jordan - have still received "next to nothing from the world community". Some 1.4 million Iraqis have fled to Syria according to the UN High Commission for Refugees, Jordan has taken in 750 000 while Egypt and Lebanon have seen 200 000 Iraqis cross into their territories.

Potential donors are reluctant to spent money inside Iraq arguing the country has large oil revenues. They are either unaware, or are ignoring the fact that the Iraqi administration has all but collapsed outside the Baghdad Green Zone. The US is spending $2bn a week on military operations in Iraq according to the Congressional Research Service but many Iraqis are dying because they lack drinking water costing a few cents.

Kalawar refugee camp in Sulaymaniyah is a microcosm of the misery to which millions of Iraqis have been reduced.

"At least it is safe here," says Walid Sha'ad Nayef, 38, as he stands amid the stink of rotting garbage and raw sewage. He fled from the lethally dangerous Sa'adiyah district in Baghdad 11 months ago. As we speak to him, a man silently presents us with the death certificate of his son, Farez Maher Zedan, who was killed in Baghdad on 20 May 2006.

Kalawar is a horrible place. Situated behind a petrol station down a dusty track, the first sight of the camp is of rough shelters made out of rags, torn pieces of cardboard and old blankets. The stench is explained by the fact the Kurdish municipal authorities will not allow the 470 people in the camp to dig latrines. They say this might encourage them to stay.
Who are you going to believe - two Bush cheerleaders who falsely claim to be critics or four million Iraqis?

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