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Iraq Report, 06 Nov/06


Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday. This briefing is brought to you by Joel Gaines of No Pundit Intended and Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.


  • Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was found guilty by a special tribunal Sunday of crimes against humanity for the torture and execution of more than 100 people from a small town north of Baghdad 24 years ago. He was sentenced to death by hanging.
  • Desert Crossing, a simulated invasion of Iraq in 1999, estimated that a minimum of 400,000 troops would be required to secure Iraq, and even with that number, there was a chance Iraq would descend into chaos. According to the Pentagon, there were 290,000 Coalition troops in Iraq shortly after the 2003 invasion.

Other Topics Today Include: Bechtel leaves Iraq; Iraq's baby boom; China and Iraq close oil deal; USAID establishes loan fund; Bahrain chosen for trade show; Iraqis ask for UN mandate extension; Sunni and Shiites to Belfast; Chirac to meet Talabani; Australian support for Iraq dwindling.


  • Wrapping up more than three years of work that cost the U.S. government $2.3 billion, Bechtel Inc. is leaving Iraq with a subdued sense of accomplishment after suffering through an unanticipated spree of violence that killed 52 workers.
  • In the face of relentless violence, political chaos, economic uncertainty and nightly curfews, Iraq's maternity wards are experiencing an unlikely baby boom.


  • China and Iraq are reviving a $1.2 billion deal signed by Beijing and Saddam Hussein's government in 1997 to develop an Iraqi oil field.
  • Eleven Iraqi banks, with the direct support from Iraqi Central Bank and the American Agency for International Development, announced the establishment of the Iraqi company for loans that provides financial liquidity for those wishing to establish small projects.
  • Bahrain has been chosen by Iraq to host its first overseas trade show next year, centring round its $100 billion rebuilding program.


  • A delegation of Shi’ite and Sunni leaders from Iraq is due to arrive in Belfast to learn the secrets of building peace out of seemingly intractable sectarian conflict.


  • The United States may soon shut down the special Inspector General's office in Iraq. The office, established to ensure money was being spent carefully, just asked for tighter guidelines for any reconstruction aid provided to the Iraqi government.
  • French President Jacques Chirac is to meet his Iraqi counterpart Jalal Talabani in the Presidential palace l'Elysee.
  • The Jordanian government and the United Nations children's agency (UNICEF) denied claims that government health centres are refusing to vaccinate Iraqi children whose families are living in Jordan illegally.
  • Support for Australia's presence in Iraq is shrinking as the mission goes on.


  • Do you have your GI Bracelet? Many military families fall into financial hardship when the breadwinner is injured or killed. The entire purchase price of the GI Bracelet is donated to support our troops and their families! Please join us to give back to these brave people in their time of need.
  • The troops are still there. So is the Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops: American, Australian, British, Canadian & Polish. Anyone out there with more information, contact us!
  • Many American troops have taken it upon themselves to reconstruct schools and gather learning tools for the children of Iraq. Their efforts have been met with immense gratitude from the local Iraqis and their children. You can help too! Visit Operation Iraqi Children and get involved.

Thanks for reading! If you found something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". If you think we missed something important, use the Comments section to let us know. And if you have a tip for a future Iraq Report, email us at MondayIraqReport(at)


From Desert Crossing:
* "Even when civil order is restored and borders are secured, the replacement regime could be problematic -- especially if perceived as weak, a puppet, or out-of-step with prevailing regional governments."
* "Also, some participants believe that no Arab government will welcome the kind of lengthy U.S. presence that would be required to install and sustain a democratic government."

I think this is true, and demonstrated by recent events. To sustain its prestige, an Arab government needs to, basically, humiliate us. It has to back and be backed by local forces, often against un-Islamic non-native forces, meaning us.

Sustaining democracy requires our backing the government, which in turn means fighting under decisive restraints. This has military consequences on the spot, and political consequences at home. It's hard to sustain support at home by making promises and keeping them, because precisely when raw emotions are engaged, as in the deaths of the contractors and the first battle of Falluja, the local government will assert itself to our detriment.

More importantly, there is no indication that any Arab population would give the necessary support. Instead, in Iraq, a growing majority approve of attacks on foreigners, which I think is decisive and fatal. If the population was unprejudiced ... but unfortunately it isn't. And its prejudice runs far too deep for us to change.

We have learned that security forces recruited from a hostile population also do not give the necessary support. "As they stand up, we will stand down" would be our only hopeful strategy if it worked, but it doesn't work because they never stand up in a practical sense, no matter how many hundreds of thousands of soldiers and police are on the payroll. Rather, training and weapons supplied at Western (read: American) expense are readily diverted to jihadis and other terrorists. Instead of cops, we may be arming and training the members of sectarian death squads.

Given that overwhelming and growing majorities of Iraqis think foreigners should be out of Iraq, it is understandable that large and growing majorities of Australians agree. (And the data in Australia goes beyond that. There are many messages in the data, all of them dispiriting from a pro-war point of view). Helping one's friends is one thing, but an open-ended commitment to aid one's enemies is something else.

I want Australia to stick as long as America does, but I am becoming baffled to see how that can happen. (shrug) I just have to hope I guess.

The view in America seems to be that the cost of getting out of Iraq is now too high. The effort must be sustained indefinitely, that is without an end date. The cost to standing down (as was intended) even though Iraqis refuse to stand up is too high in terms of prestige lost and terrorists encouraged. Though the cost may be even higher later, as the situation deteriorates, I can see the argument that in a sense that doesn't matter. If you can't escape a situation because a twenty foot wall is in your way and you can't climb it, it doesn't matter that later it may be a thirty foot wall or that you may be made worse off in the meantime.

One can see the same argument applying in future wars: wherever we throw a punch, we are committed. The military arm must remain straightened, holding up an ungrateful and increasingly hostile and deadly population, lest we lose face.

Once you get into a fight like this, someone is bound to agree with you, and even if that amount to only thousands in a country of millions. Even if the numbers are a hopeless basis for policy, those friendlies became an unanswerably arguments that one cannot leave them, cannot betray them. This morally unanswerable argument will also apply in all future wars in the Arab world.

Therefore, it seems that if we follow the consequences of our present way of thinking about things, any intervention anywhere in the Arab world has to be given unachievable goals and an open-ended moral commitment to politically unimportant minorities ... and then sustained indefinitely, with a possible political end-point (that is collapse of domestic support for the war and a morally shattering defeat), but no rational military end-point. (If we had declared victory and left when we had won and achieved every goal that should have been achieved by our soldiers and not by Iraqis we would have left years ago.)

This is a system that produces guilt, defeats, and a sense of betrayal, as the best intended governments are least able to keep their promises to their supporters.

I think that doctrine has to change. If we play by these rules, the cost of fighting is high, indefinite and unmanageable.

David, what is required is what Westhawk recommends. Backing first one then the other sectarian group with US force (or withholding of same).

What do tribal forces in Iraq want (that is basically all Iraqis)?

For their tribe to win. So there's plenty of leverage there if wanted. Sadr and the Badr Brigades / SCIRI are rivals for Shia power. Play them off against each other.

ENCOURAGE Sunni ethnic cleansing, particularly with convoys out of the country that are protected (make Iraq Jordan and Saudi and Syria's problem). WIDEN the chaos and pain by encouraging sectarian / secessionist movements in Syria, Iran, and elsehwere. Give everyone a good dose of pain and promise that if they co-operate the pain stops.

This requires recognition of the tribal basis of Arab societies.

Jim, why would we do that?

Muslims kill each other (when there are no infidels available as a common agreed target) without us doing anything. The war between Iraq and Iran was none of our doing - and if we had been able to stop it we would have been obliged to do so.

Why would we play the bad guy only in order to get the same result as if we give the Iraqis a perfectly genuine referendum on whether all foreign forces should depart from Iraq within a year, and they tell us to go and we comply with the people's will?


Jim Rockford: "What do tribal forces in Iraq want (that is basically all Iraqis)?

For their tribe to win."



Jim Rockford: "Give everyone a good dose of pain and promise that if they co-operate the pain stops."

I don't believe in deals with Islamic forces. I don't believe they'll be kept.

You always run into the problem of the frog, the scorpion and the river.

We need to think more in terms of goals that we can achieve unilaterally, or with the aid only of reliable, or at least friendly, or at very least unprejudiced and rationally self-interested stake holders.

Also, can we do what you and Westhawk propose, within the limits of our tacit doctrine?

If any side that we support in a quarrel thereafter owns us, which seems to be how the game is played now, then we can't switch sides. (Which means we can't play the Arab political game.) We'd be betraying our allies.

Of course, you can say: then to Hades with how we do things now. This is what has to be done. But that supports a fundamental rethink of the rules by which we fight, which is something I want.


What would it take to make me reverse my opinion on Iraq itself?

(1) Serious evidence that the facts are not as I think they are: the Iraqi population loves us, the police force is incorruptible and efficient, the army has stood up (though in that case, again: what are we doing there?), and the political leadership has washed its hands of jihadis and is aiming at democracy.


(2) Serious evidence that while Iraq may be useless and costly in itself, it is a means to some greater end.

If we were using our army in Iraq as a raw threat to make Saudi Arabia stop funding madrassas, I'd say fine, that's a worthwhile goal and let's keep at it. Never mind if the Iraqis hate us, we're not there for them.

We're not doing that, though, and we're not about to. Nor are we using Iraq as a springboard against Syria or Iran or anyone else. Tactically we are making ourselves hard to hit and trying to fight with the initiative or not at all, which is great. But strategically we seem to be hunkered down like a rabbit in a hailstorm, just taking it.

That means, every day we're in Iraq, it's for the sake of Iraqis, who, when I saw convincing evidence that they approve of attacks on our troops (by a six out of ten majority), I took out of the "friendlies" column and put in the "hostiles" column.


Besides the general rule that we should fight to diminish our enemies and not to strengthen them as we are doing, I think there's a more general point here about mobility. When we move at top speed, we do well, as we did well in the invasion of Iraq, but when we slow down or stop we get in trouble.

In Iraq, we've been stalled for years. That was a worthwhile gamble. If the Iraqi army had stood up, it would have paid off big time. But that didn't happen.

But now, even knowing that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi soldiers would not be enough, we still stand in place, with no tasks left to accomplish and no gains to look forward to, apparently for fear of the consequences of withdrawing. In other words, we're stopped because we're stopped. The enemy dictates terms to us, and as immobile targets we accept. The hostile government dictates who we can attack and forbids us to maintain a siege, and we obey. Strategic immobility has developed into diplomatic and political paralysis, as far as I can see.

Since our generals are far from stupid, I assume somebody has an idea for this war that they're keeping very secret. But since I have no idea what it is, I can't take account of it.

It looks to me like stopping in Iraq was more costly than was apparent at the time. We slackened our pace, and trouble came, as it has come to so many before us in history.

Australia will stay the course in Iraq... notwithstanding the leader of the opposition.

#5 from Alan: "Australia will stay the course in Iraq... notwithstanding the leader of the opposition."

I hope so. It would be shameful for us to run out on the Americans.

What gives you confidence? If you have a good reason to believe we'll stick, it would do my hear good to hear and believe it.

At least this (via the new and improved Power Line News) (link) is as it should be (link): Aussie troops expand Iraq role

SYDNEY, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Australian troops in Iraq are taking over backup security duties in a second southern province.

The Australian, quoting an Australian Defense Force commander in Iraq, said security responsibility in Dhi Qar province was transferred to Australians by Italian forces at a handover ceremony at Cammp Ur, an Iraqi army training center near Nasiriyah.

Australia's 490-member task force took up security backup and training duties in al-Muthanna province last July.


We're only providing token support, but that is highly helpful in this political and diplomatic contest. When the Spanish bugged out, it was a big deal. I don't want us to do the same.

And for us, just "staying the course" is a viable option. We're not paying the price the Americans are, and we're not forced into the humiliating positions the Americans are when they make solid promises that the Iraqis nullify.

"Play them off against each other. "

We've done this, to some degree. The problem is we've allowed a dynamic to develop where the 2 most important indigenous forces (those capable and willing to use violence to gain their ends) in Iraq are the Sunni with their fascist aspirations and AQ ties, and the Sadrists being bankrolled by Iran. The other voices have been marginalized- mainly because a lack of security has allowed the forces willing to engage in the most mayhem and bloodletting become the powerbrokers.

Everything comes back to our failure to achieve dominance of the battlespace- in military terms and humanitarian terms. Our strategy in building a native Iraqi democracy was fine, and to our credit we brought off genuine elections and a fine constitution. But what we failed to grasp was that in a survival situation, those things are just trappings. We have never come close to achieving the sort of vacuum of quiet necessary to establish order and justice. We've inexplicably allowed foriegn interference to power the two power brokers in Iraq, and now we're left with few good options.

We really dropped the ball not utilizing our alliance with the Kurds to greater degree. They were the only experienced military force on our 'side' and we could have used their help securing the borders and the countryside- as well as a terrifying threat to the Sunni towns and cities not to resort to violence lest we let the Kurds patrol their towns. I understand the international implications of empowering the Kurds, particularly with Turkey, but i dont understand how we allowed them to get a vote when they shut us out pre-invasion.

We started by insisting that everybody disarm. Those most inclined to cooperate and those who believed the implicit promise that cooperating with the Americans would lead into the new power structure and defying the Americans would lead to exclusion from the new power structure (or much worse) disarmed. These became humiliated and powerless suckers, as our rules were not in force.

Those least inclined to cooperate and those most contemptuous of our promises or threats, like Al Qaeda, Ba'athist holdouts and Shi'ite jihadis backed by Iran, did not disarm, rather they expanded their arms, militias and active violence as much as they could. They were right, our promises and threats were worthless, and so these became the new power brokers. It took a long time for Moqtada Al Sadr to build up his power, and he did not use his time efficiently, nevertheless he was not crushed, and that was that for any contest between him and Sistani as to who would be important.

In dealing with Muslims, it seems as infidels we do not have the moral authority needed to crush targets we need to crush. We can and will be deprived of the ability to make promises and threats convincingly, as Muslims will stand together too much and too often against non-Muslims.

At this stage, to attain credibility in Iraq, the first thing we'd need would be a specially modified 1981 DMC-12 model silver DeLorean and 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to travel through time.

But even if we had that, we'd need a different doctrine.

When we were letting freedom reign, and trying to prove (to an invincibly hostile domestic mainstream media that assumed we were in Iraq to steal oil and set up a puppet dictatorship) that we really did believe in things like freedom of the press, Moqtada Al Sadr was publishing war propaganda. What we needed to do at that point was recognize that he was an enemy and not about to play by our rules, drop all the "freedom of the press" stuff, and go and kill him and everybody who raised a hand in his defense. We could not do that with the beliefs in freedom and the belief in the universal innate love of freedom and the compatibility of freedom with the Religion of Peace that we were fighting for.

However, even if we had a specially modified DeLorean and 1.21 gigawatts of electricity, and hindsight and a better doctrine, we'd still need a mainstream media, domestic political elites and allies all willing to let us get away with that.

And if we had all those, which we could never get, infinitely more importantly we'd have needed an Arab Muslim population (not just Kurdish Muslims) also willing to let us get away with that, and this was always going to be unavailable. And the same is likely to be the case in other military interventions. (Which we should take into account in future.)

The frustration of our hopes in the lengthy sequel to Operation Iraqi Freedom was not mainly due to errors - though, inevitably in war, there were plenty. It was about the failure of hopeful assumptions that could only be tested by trying them all out, and that had to be tried out as this was the only way to head off a clash of civilizations if the assumptions turned out to be true.

Very unfortunately, the assumptions we reasonably hoped might be true are not true, and the door to fundamental change in our enemies' political culture that we hoped might be unlocked is firmly locked. But we had to try the lock, seriously and persistently. There was no other way to know.

And for a lot of people, we have to keep trying this, all the way out to 2010 and indefinitely beyond. I guess there's an educative process that can't be rushed.

The story about Iraqi birthrates in Baghdad was inspiring. Perhaps it will lead to some of the good news David Blue and others are looking for.*

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