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Inquiring Mind
Registered: 08/19/03
Posts: 418
Last seen: 2 years, 4 months
Inside America's 'Colossal Blunder'...
    #1964809 - 09/30/03 02:40 AM (13 years, 25 days ago)

I found this interesting interview with a respected journalist on the ground in Iraq. Taken from Antiwar.com


Inside America's 'Colossal Blunder': Scott Taylor Reports from Iraq
by Christopher Deliso
September 30, 2003

Scott Taylor is Canada's top war reporter and publisher of Esprit de Corps, a monthly magazine devoted to the Canadian military. Over the past decade, he has penned numerous inside reports from the Balkans and Iraq ? in the process often challenging the conventional wisdom and biases of mass media reports. Two of Scott's books ? Inat , and Diary of an Uncivil War ? present the untold stories of the wars in Kosovo and Macedonia, based on his eyewitness experiences.

Scott has just returned from his third trip this year to Iraq. As usual, his down-to-earth testimony offers Antiwar.com readers a compelling alternative to the anaesthetized "official" version of events on the ground.

Chris Deliso: Scott, you've just returned from yet another sojourn into Iraq. We're all abundantly aware that the situation is rough. Can you tell us, just how chaotic is it now in Iraq?

Scott Taylor: It is probably more dangerous now than at any time since US President Bush declared the war to be over. Although the looting has subsided, crime remains rampant, and the whole country is slowly slipping into a dangerous pattern of factional violence. The terror attacks and ambushes against US troops are almost completely random, so even when it seems quiet in a particular sector, you can never really let your guard down.

CD: American efforts to win hearts and minds have been stymied by factors like erratic electricity and crumbling services, which can radicalize normally docile urbanites. What is everyday life like for the Iraqis these days?

ST: There is still a curfew in place throughout Iraq which prohibits movement between 23:00 and 05:00 every night. This has meant a tremendous cultural change for the Iraqis who are used to taking afternoon naps in the heat of the day and then having late night meals in restaurants. The power situation remains rather erratic, with most households only receiving electricity about 4 hours a day. However, these blackouts have long been a part of the Iraqi daily routine, ever since the first Gulf War in 1991, so almost everyone now has access to a generator or some sort of backup system. The lack of regular utilities is probably more of a hardship for the foreigners, who aren't used to having to rough it for a few hours every day.

Straight Talk with Hard Men

CD: Did you get a chance for any straight talk with the American soldiers? If so, can you comment on their morale, their physical condition, and their anticipations for the future?

ST: The American soldiers in Iraq are completely demoralized at this stage. While they complain about having to subsist on hard rations for the past 7 months, the biggest complaint was that they've had no R & R since being deployed in theatre.

"How long are my men supposed to go without sex and alcohol?" asked Staff Sergeant Spry, a 17 year veteran serving with the 173rd Airborne Brigade near Kirkuk. "If I don't get some pussy soon, I'm going to marry a local girl ? or else explode."

CD: Them's fightin' words! What to do?

ST: For those US units with female personnel attached, the rules of no-fraternization have been wantonly ignored. "We've had 4 out of 10 females get knocked up in the past 5 months," said a Corporal Slaughter. "The women know that being pregnant is a one way ticket out of this sh*t-hole? for the guys it ain't so easy. We only go home early if we are in a bodybag or on a stretcher!"

Meanwhile, Harmony and Cooperation Continue

CD: Nevertheless, the Americans continue to train the Iraqi police, cooperate with them, etc. How is this relationship coming along? Are the Americans starting to become more comfortable in their new digs?

ST: The US troops in Kirkuk have started to mount joint security patrols with local Iraqi policemen. When I asked one young soldier how they had screened the police applicants, he said with a Texan drawl, "?well, seeing as how it was the Kurds that was doing all the looting, we just went out and hired the Ay-rabs."

When I asked him why they had not considered hiring some Turkmen (who actually constitute the majority of Kirkuk's population), the GI replied, "what the fuck is a Turkman?"

At this point his Iraqi translator ? who had been standing patiently beside us right up until this point ? suddenly went berserk. "I am a Turkman! I am a Turkman! I tell you everyday about my people, and still you don't understand!"

CD: Not auspicious. Anyway, did you get to speak to any other foreigners in the "coalition"? Has the mood changed after the attacks on the UN compound?

ST: We had a chance to talk to a number of the international troops ? Poles, Hungarians, Bulgarians and Mongolians ? but we did not have much opportunity to visit with any of the civilian aid workers. The foreign soldiers invariably said that they were in Iraq "for the money." Most of these guys are making close to $60 (US) a day while in theatre ? a veritable fortune compared to their usual pay. "I only hope I live to spend it," said one young Hungarian driver.

'Where's Saddam?'

CD: Although he seems to have been forgotten, Saddam allegedly still lurks. Did you get any good info on whether he is alive, where he may be and what his current role is?

ST: The question, "Where's Saddam?" has become almost a standard greeting among the Iraqi people. All of them believe that he is still alive and in hiding somewhere in Iraq. However, very few people actually think that he is still organizing and directing the anti-US resistance. He was reportedly very sick these last few years (allegedly with colon cancer) and most Iraqis think that his days are numbered, regardless of whether or not he is apprehended.

CD: On that note, the oft-cited resistance fighters who say 'we will die for Saddam': are they really "loyalists" or is the resistance entirely centered on religious or other allegiances?

ST: There are so many Fedayeen and foreign fighters presently operating in Iraq, that those still loyal to Saddam would represent only a tiny fraction of the anti-US opposition. All of the various factions ? Kurdish Peshmerga, Turkmen militia, Shiite fundamentalists, Palestinian hardliners ? may be lining themselves up for a future civil war, but for now the one thing they agree upon is that "the occupiers must leave Iraq."

Bad Intelligence, Good Disinformation

CD: A recent article by a former CIA counterterrorism expert featured in Antiwar.com stated, "?the war is everywhere asymmetrical, with the U.S. and its allies compelled to defend all targets while the terrorists need only succeed once." The underlying point was that the US is still fighting the military ? and even intelligence ? wars of the past. From what you saw, is this a fair charge? How professionally does the US seem to be operating?

ST: There is definitely an acute shortage of Arab speaking US Intelligence personnel in Iraq. One gets the impression that they are working not only blind, but deaf and dumb as well. The numerous gaffes that we've seen to date with regards to the mistaken identities of top level Iraqi captives is certainly indicative of this. First they told us on 8 April that they had killed Chemical Ali during an airstrike. The next day this fact was positively confirmed by British doctors.

Fast forward to late August, and suddenly the US are boasting that a very much alive Chemical Ali has been apprehended by US forces. You simply can no longer believe a word that the Pentagon says.

Thoughts on the Viceroy

CD: What can we expect from the current administration of "Ambassador Bremer"?

Already cracks are emerging in the previously rock-solid neocon alliance back home. Does America have the gumption to stick with the imperial experiment?

ST: Bremer & Company are completely out of their depth in Iraq. They continue to put a positive spin on everything, but this has gone way beyond a public relations exercise.

Bremer actually told Americans that in his experience, he has not witnessed any anti-US sentiment among the local population. This may be true only because Bremer drives around with an armored convoy whose gunners would grease anybody on the street who so much as looked suspicious.

I went out filming on my own one day and quickly became the target of young Iraqis hurling stones at me. Bremer is either a liar or a moron. As for his willingness to "stick it out" in Baghdad, this will not be a decision made in Baghdad. The Americans will pull out when Washington can no longer handle the domestic public backlash.

Iraq: What Comes Next?

CD: The fact that the Iraqi people did not rise up with one voice and joyously welcome their liberators took the wind out of the neocons' sails early on. And the continuing Iraq imbroglio has greatly weakened America's appetite for further conquest. So are Iran and Syria off the list?

ST: Unfortunately, George Bush has opened up a regional Pandora's box in Iraq, and the US military cannot easily be extricated from this mess. However, as long as the bulk of American military manpower is tied down with fighting guerrilla wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the potential for Bush to launch any new campaign ? in Iran, Syria or anywhere else ? remains very remote.

CD: How do you expect the situation to develop over the next few months, both in Iraq and for the architects of the invasion?

ST: I expect that within 60 days, the UN will have assumed at least partial responsibility for the situation in Iraq. This would allow for the Germans and French to add some military assets into the equation.

Yet for Bush to concede this control will be a virtual admission of his own colossal blunder: first he ignored world opinion by attacking Iraq and now he will have to swallow a copious amount of humble pie to get the world to bail him out. If Saddam manages to evade capture until next November, I believe he will be able to gloat over George Dubya's electoral defeat.

"In the United States anybody can be president. Thats the problem."

"The gray-haired douche bag, Barbara Bush, has a slogan: "Encourage your child to read every day." What she should be is encouraging children to question what they read every day."

- George Carlin

Edited by SquattingMarmot (09/30/03 02:42 AM)

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Registered: 02/26/01
Posts: 9,134
Re: Inside America's 'Colossal Blunder'... [Re: SquattingMarmot]
    #1965532 - 09/30/03 11:44 AM (13 years, 25 days ago)

Nice article. The situation has really gone to hell on a shitcart.

Don't worry, B. Caapi

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(hard) member
Registered: 02/06/02
Posts: 859
Last seen: 8 years, 27 days
Re: Inside America's 'Colossal Blunder'... [Re: Xlea321]
    #1965547 - 09/30/03 11:53 AM (13 years, 25 days ago)

Let's see how long it takes for the neocon boobs to come bumbling in and talking about how it's "still too early to tell."

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Registered: 02/26/01
Posts: 9,134
Re: Inside America's 'Colossal Blunder'... [Re: EchoVortex]
    #1965561 - 09/30/03 12:00 PM (13 years, 25 days ago)

It's definately not another Vietnam..nope.....definately not..

Don't worry, B. Caapi

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