23 October, 2010

Iraq: the War Logs

On 19th August 2010, the last US "combat brigade" withdrew from Iraq though about 50,000 US troops remain in the country in what is described as "an advisory capacity." According to the US, they will help to train Iraqi forces in a new mission - "Operation New Dawn" - which will run until the end of 2011.  The mission that ended on 19th August 2010 was known as "Operation Iraqi Freedom," and cost more than $900 billion and saw 4,415 US troops die.  100,000 Iraqi civilians were estimated to be killed, according to the Iraq Body Count website.

Following the withdrawal, there seemed to be a political vacuum which may have enabled Iran to broker a deal which could see a pro-Iran government installed in Iraq.  The Guardian 17th October 2010

The latest major story is the leak of numerous documents which raise major concerns about the behaviour of coalition forces in Iraq.  The Guardian 23rd October - "Iraq, the war logs."  It appears that United Nations officials are calling on President Obama to investigate the allegations - The Guardian 23rd October.

Meanwhile, back in the USA - Obama is fighting mid-term elections.  Viewed from the UK, despite hopeful beginnings in 2008, his administration does not appear to have proved all that popular with many Americans and he has demonstrated a certain hostility toward Britain over the Deep Horizon oil incident when he appeared to lay the blame entirely at the door of BP.  It seems likely that the Republican Party will make gains in the mid-term elections and this will further weaken Obama's position.  All seats in the House of Representatives; one-third of the Senate and 36 State Governorships are on the line.  The ruling Democrats are likely to lose Senate seats and perhaps control of the House of Representatives.

The growth of so-called "Tea Party" candidates is also interesting.  These people are pushing for lower taxes, lower government spending, cutting the deficit and "smaller" government.  Ordinary Americans are fearful for the future: threatened with unemployment.  Retired people are receiving almost nothing on their savings and that has resonance in the UK.  Nevetheless, Americans continue to consume some 400 million gallons of gasoline daily and at prices which, in the UK, would amount to about 40p litre.  Typical UK price is £1.18 litre with further rises on-going and VAT increasing to 20p in January 2011.  If ever there was a way to plunge the U.K. into further recession this is it.

Nevertheless, despite the massive economic mess, it would be ironic if the USA returns to the Republican Party which, in the Presidency of G.W. Bush, embroiled that great nation in the Iraq War and which led to western governments forgetting the fundamental values which they are supposed to stand for.

See also "Frago 242 - a licence to torture"

Why the US has truned against Obama - Telegraph 25th October

Addendum 26th October:  It appears that the Chilcot Inquiry may be recalling former Prime Minister Blair to give further evidence - Guardian 26th October.    When called previously, he was allowed to make "speeches" including warning of the threat posed by Iran which was not germane to the Inquiry's remit.  This demonstrated that Chilcot probably needed a skilled lawyer as counsel to conduct the examination of witnesses.

Further revelations about alleged British interrogation methods have also been revealed - Guardian 26th October

No comments: