Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- June 27th edition

June 27, 2006: The early morning sun rises into the sky as an An AH-64 Apache flies low over Jisr-Diyala, supporting a ground mission by Iraqi and U.S. forces.

June 27, 2002:

Bush lays down doctrine of taking care of problem early

As usual, Americans have had a lot of news stories competing for their attention in recent weeks, but it's a good bet that the only one that will still be commanding attention 10 years from now, and maybe even 50 years from now, will be the speech President Bush gave at West Point recently in which he laid down what has already become known as the Bush Doctrine.

Until the later years of the Clinton administration, it was the almost universally accepted principle that American fighting forces would not be asked to risk their lives unless some vital American interest was at stake. This was the justification for America's various military interventions in both the Reagan and the Bush I administrations, from the small ones, such as Grenada and Panama (both of which were sideshows in the world-encompassing Cold War), to the Gulf War, which was essential if Saddam Hussein was to be prevented from acquiring control of the entire oil output of the Middle East.

Mr. Clinton, deprived of any such traditional excuse to polish his legacy by throwing America's military weight around, hit on an alternative. As his Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, asked General Colin Powell, "What's the point of these big armed forces you talk about if they can't be used for anything?" Thus was born the Clinton Doctrine, which decreed that American forces would be risked in all sorts of disputes around the world on the side of the Good Guys. (An exception was prudently made for Bad Guys like the Chinese Communists, who were too big to be pushed around.) The result was our interventions in Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo, none of which involved a vital American interest.

At the outset of the current administration, President Bush showed signs of returning to the conventional "vital interest" test. Unquestionably, the toppling of Saddam Hussein met that test: The Iraqi dictator was known to possess chemical weapons of mass destruction, and to be well on his way to developing nuclear weapons, as well. But only the events of Sept. 11 made it possible for Mr. Bush to mobilize public opinion in favor of ousting Saddam, by military means if necessary.

That was the origin of the Bush Doctrine, which Mr. Bush has now spelled out. Rogue nations like Iraq will simply not be permitted to develop nuclear or other weapons that can then be inflicted on this country at will. The United States will strike preemptively, to prevent such a risk from developing. If we wait until the enemy's plans mature, Mr. Bush warned, "We will have waited too long."

Critics of the Bush Doctrine have a hard row to hoe. I recently received a letter from a reader of this column assuring me that, even if Saddam Hussein succeeds in building a nuclear bomb, he would never be foolish enough to drop it on the United States. A wave of relief swept over me -- until I reflected that the scenario might not be that simple. What if Saddam becomes entangled in a local war with Israel (which also has nuclear weapons), or with his own domestic opposition, and finds himself losing? Can we be sure that he will not, in a farewell gesture, seek immortality in the Islamic world by devoting one or two of his atom bombs to the Great Satan across the Atlantic? How long would it take, in that case, for Chris Matthews (one of the self-proclaimed "doves on Iraq") to get back on "Hardball" demanding to know how President Bush ever let such a devastating blow occur?

What Mr. Bush understands, and what America must understand, is that the rules of warfare have changed drastically, and our response must change accordingly. Weapons of mass destruction are no longer confined to big nations, like the late Soviet Union or contemporary China, that have a lot to lose if they start throwing them around. They will soon be in the possession of third-rate dice-throwers like Saddam, or even international terrorists like Osama bin Laden, who may find themselves having little or nothing to lose by using them where they will hurt most.

And that's us. We have no choice but to strike first.

Read the rest at the Daily Ardmoreite

June 27, 2003:

Progress reported in Iraq weapons hunt

U.S. personnel searching in Iraq for unconventional weapons and their components are making rapid progress and the world could expect surprises soon, the CIA's chief weapons inspector told CNN.

The progress is being made because key Iraqis are finally beginning to open up -- men like Dr. Mahdi Obeidi who turned over documents and parts of an Iraqi gas centrifuge system for developing nuclear weapons material.

Obeidi buried the materials beneath rose bushes in his back yard 12 years ago.

"My suspicions are that we'll find [things] in the chemical and biological areas. In fact, I think there may be some surprises coming rather quickly in that area," chief CIA weapons inspector David Kay told CNN over a secure teleconference between Baghdad and CIA headquarters in McLean, Virginia.

Kay, who led three United Nations arms inspection missions in Iraq in 1991-92, declined to be more specific on what "surprises" might turn up.

U.S. officials said they were examining two large containers found in Iraq full of documents related to banned weapons.

Officials said some documents instruct scientists how to conceal evidence of the weapons program from international inspectors.

And while no smoking gun evidence has turned up, Kay is optimistic he will find some soon.

Read the rest at CNN

June 27, 2004:

U.S. Edicts Curb Power Of Iraq's Leadership

U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer has issued a raft of edicts revising Iraq's legal code and has appointed at least two dozen Iraqis to government jobs with multi-year terms in an attempt to promote his concepts of governance long after the planned handover of political authority on Wednesday.

Some of the orders signed by Bremer, which will remain in effect unless overturned by Iraq's interim government, restrict the power of the interim government and impose U.S.-crafted rules for the country's democratic transition. Among the most controversial orders is the enactment of an elections law that gives a seven-member commission the power to disqualify political parties and any of the candidates they support.

The effect of other regulations could last much longer. Bremer has ordered that the national security adviser and the national intelligence chief chosen by the interim prime minister he selected, Ayad Allawi, be given five-year terms, imposing Allawi's choices on the elected government that is to take over next year.

Bremer also has appointed Iraqis handpicked by his aides to influential positions in the interim government. He has installed inspectors-general for five-year terms in every ministry. He has formed and filled commissions to regulate communications, public broadcasting and securities markets. He named a public-integrity commissioner who will have the power to refer corrupt government officials for prosecution.

Some Iraqi officials condemn Bremer's edicts and appointments as an effort to exert U.S. control over the country after the transfer of political authority. "They have established a system to meddle in our affairs," said Mahmoud Othman, a member of the Governing Council, a recently dissolved body that advised Bremer for the past year. "Iraqis should decide many of these issues."

Bremer has defended his issuance of many of the orders as necessary to implement democratic reforms and update Iraq's out-of-date legal code. He said he regarded the installation of inspectors-general in ministries, the creation of independent commissions and the changes to Iraqi law as important steps to fight corruption and cronyism, which in turn would help the formation of democratic institutions.

"You set up these things and they begin to develop a certain life and momentum on their own -- and it's harder to reverse course," Bremer said in a recent interview.

As of June 14, Bremer had issued 97 legal orders, which are defined by the U.S. occupation authority as "binding instructions or directives to the Iraqi people" that will remain in force even after the transfer of political authority. An annex to the country's interim constitution requires the approval of a majority of Allawi's ministers, as well as the interim president and two vice presidents, to overturn any of Bremer's edicts. A senior U.S. official in Iraq noted recently that it would "not be easy to reverse" the orders.

It appears unlikely that all of the orders will be followed. Many of them reflect an idealistic but perhaps futile attempt to impose Western legal, economic and social concepts on a tradition-bound nation that is reveling in anything-goes freedom after 35 years of dictatorial rule.

The orders include rules that cap tax rates at 15 percent, prohibit piracy of intellectual property, ban children younger than 15 from working, and a new traffic code that stipulates the use of a car horn in "emergency conditions only" and requires a driver to "hold the steering wheel with both hands."

Read the rest at the Washington Post

June 27, 2005:

U.S. expanding prisons in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S. military said Monday it plans to expand its prisons across Iraq to hold as many as 16,000 detainees, as the relentless insurgency shows no sign of letup one year after the transfer of sovereignty to Iraqi authorities...

The prison population at three military complexes throughout the country — Abu Ghraib, Camp Bucca and Camp Cropper — has nearly doubled from 5,435 in June 2004 to 10,002 now, said Lt. Col. Guy Rudisill, a spokesman for detainee operations in Iraq. Some 400 non-Iraqis are among the inmates, according to the military.

“We are past the normal capacity for both Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca. We are at surge capacity,” Rudisill said. “We are not at normal capacity for Camp Cropper.”

The burgeoning prison population has forced the U.S. military to begin renovations on existing facilities, and work has also begun on restoring an old Iraqi military barracks near Sulaimaniyah, 160 miles northeast of Baghdad.

The facility, to be called Fort Suse, is expected to be completed by Sept. 30 and will have room for 2,000 new detainees, Rudisill said.

All renovations should be done by February and are expected to make room for 16,000 detainees in Iraq, he said.

Read the rest at MSNBC

June 27, 2006:

Army’s Iraq, Afghanistan equipment costs triple

The annual cost of replacing, repairing and upgrading Army equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan is expected to more than triple next year to more than $17 billion, according to Army documents obtained by the Associated Press.

From 2002 to 2006, the Army spent an average of $4 billion a year in annual equipment costs. But as the war takes a harder toll on the military, that number is projected to balloon to more than $12 billion for the federal budget year that starts next Oct. 1, the documents show.

The $17 billion also includes an additional $5 billion in equipment expenses that the Army requested in previous years but has not yet been provided.

The latest costs include the transfer of more than 1,200 2 1/2-ton trucks, nearly 1,100 Humvees and $8.8 million in other equipment from the U.S. Army to the Iraqi security forces.

Army and Marine Corps leaders are expected to testify before Congress Tuesday and outline the growing costs of the war — with estimates that it will cost between $12 billion and $13 billion a year for equipment repairs, upgrades and replacements from now on.

The Marine Corps has said in recent testimony before Congress that it would need nearly $12 billion to replace and repair all the equipment worn out or lost to combat in the past four years. So far, the Marines have received $1.6 billion toward those costs to replace and repair the equipment.

According to the Army, the $17 billion includes:

-- $2.1 billion in equipment that must be replaced because of battle losses.
-- About $6.5 billion for repairs.
-- About $8.4 billion to rebuild or upgrade equipment.

One of the growing costs is the replacement of Humvees, which are wearing out more quickly because of the added armor they are carrying to protect soldiers from roadside bombs. The added weight is causing them to wear out faster, decreasing the life of the vehicles.

Congress has provided about $21 billion for equipment costs in emergency supplemental budget bills from 2002-06. All the war equipment expenses have been funded through those emergency bills, and not in the regular fiscal-year budgets.

Pentagon officials have estimated that such emergency bills would have to continue two years beyond the time the U.S. pulls out of Iraq in order to fully replace, repair and rebuild all of the needed equipment.

The push for additional equipment funding comes after the House last week passed a $427 billion defense spending bill for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, which includes $50 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. A separate $66 billion emergency funding bill for the two wars was approved earlier in the month.

War-related costs since 2001 are approaching half a trillion dollars.

Read the rest at MSNBC