Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Iraq Update

Don't miss the 25th edition of Chrenkoff's Good News from Iraq. Here's my modest update.

Another one bit the dust today, when Iraqi forces captured Fadhil Ibrahim Mahmud al-Mashadani, a former high-ranking member of Saddam's Baath Party:
Al-Mashadani led Iraq's military bureau in Baghdad during Saddam's rule.

"Al-Mashadani is believed to be personally responsible for coordinating and funding attacks against the Iraqi people, the Iraqi government and the Iraqi security force," the [Iraqi government] statement said. "He is also suspected of being a critical link between the senior Baathist leaders hiding in Syria and the terrorists within Iraq."
Al-Mashadani had been number six on the Iraqi government's most wanted list, and the three of clubs in the original terrorist deck of cards. The Iraqis had offered a $200,000 reward for his capture; no word yet on any reward claim. This latest milestone follows the joint Iraqi/American operation on Sunday that "led to the arrest of 65 suspected insurgents."

In other news, President Bush visited Ft. Hood and spoke to members of the 1st Calvary Division, many of them just back from Iraq and many headed back there in the fall:
He said about 150,000 Iraqi military and police and other security personnel had now been trained, outnumbering the estimated 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

"There's a lot of hard work ahead," he said. "The Iraqi people face brutal and determined enemies. But Iraqis are also determined and they have the will to defeat the insurgency." . . .

He also spoke optimistically about the fledging democracy in Iraq, with the recent formation of a transitional government that is to lead in drafting a new constitution and set the stage for elections for a permanent government by year's end.

"As the Iraq democracy succeeds, that success is sending a message from Beirut to Tehran that freedom can be the future of every nation," Bush said.
Bush stayed for "lunch with soldiers stationed at Fort Hood, the largest active-duty armored post in the military. . . and was meeting privately with the families of about 30 soldiers who have been killed before leaving the base."

On Monday, Iraq's new president -- Jalal Talabani, a Kurd -- praised coalition forces and reaffirmed the new government's commitment to religious freedom:
Talabani restated his support for a continued US and Australian military presence in Iraq, one day after large demonstrations by supporters of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr demanded US troops leave the country.

"I think we are in great need to have American and other allied forces in Iraq until we will be able to rebuild our military forces," Mr Talabani told CNN.

Branding Sadr a "criminal" who should be arrested, Mr Talabani said he opposed setting a timetable for the US military's exit from the country.

"We will remain in full consultation and coordination, cooperation with our American friends, who came to liberate our country," he said. . .

Mr Talabani also rebuffed the calls to establish an Islamic state under the new constitution, which he predicted could be completed by the August 15 deadline.

Iraq's Governing Council already ruled against an Islamic government, Mr Talabani said, even while recognising Islam as the country's principal religion.
Finally, read the account of Staff Sergeant Greg Moore's homecoming:
My older son's first-grade teacher had been wonderful to me while I was away. She sent school updates and pictures via e-mail almost weekly. So when I popped my head into her classroom she came running and gave me a "welcome home" hug.

"Easton is practicing a song. Why don't you surprise him?"

My heart was racing. I followed the sound of the piano and the little voices singing, then stood and watched. Trickles of love and pride started involuntarily down my cheeks as I listened to my son. He has gotten so big. The anticipation built as I waited for him to see me.

The little girl next to him was the first to notice the uniformed man standing in the doorway. The image she saw and the facts she had been told were doing battle in her brain. Then her eyes grew wide and her mouth fell open.

"Easton! Easton . . . your Daddy's here!" she said in an electrified whisper.

My son's head snapped around. The excitement and disbelief on his face is something I will never forget. I motioned him to me and he ran into my open arms. There was no hiding my tears, and I didn't care to. This was the day I had waited for.
The situation in Iraq continues to improve. Remind me, again, why anti-war zealots say we're losing? Oh yeah: prejudice and illiteracy.

(via Captain's Quarters)


Today's lead WSJ editorial:
Many opposed the war from the start, and whether they have now reassessed their views in light of recent events is a matter of some interest. But because they never signed on to the war in the first place, the question of their fortitude throughout its ups and downs is less an issue.

The people who really concern us here--the people who did not pass the test--are those who signed up for the war at the beginning only to find one excuse or another to sign out before it was won. Usually, those excuses centered on some Bush bungle, real or alleged, that no "competent" Administration would have made but that was said to have rendered the whole enterprise morally sullied and irremediable. The looting of Baghdad falls into this category, as does the political wallowing in the abuses of Abu Ghraib.


Brian H said...

Hard to empathize with either, actually. One of the biggies, of course, is the persistent "illegal" argument. It actually cuts to the core of whether there is such a thing as an international binding law of declaring war. (That OIF is actually the termination of a cease-fire is not mentioned, of course.) In any case, it's a problematic proposition. Those inclinded to unilaterally wage an aggressive war are not particularly concerned with legalities, and the modern sliding-scale terrorist attacks are never identified as war in the classic sense -- though bombastic declarations of jihad, war by any other name, etc. abound. It's almost pure nostalgia to wish for the days of state-vs-state conflicts, and imagine the rules that applied there still work.

@nooil4pacifists said...

Brian, I agree.

1) It's not at all clear that Article 51 of the UN Charter limits legitimate self-defense only to force following an armed attack.

2) Even were the UN Charter interpreted to preclude anticipatory self defense -- i.e., President Bush's explicit abandonment of MAD in favor of preemption -- treaties are subordinate to the US Constitution. And as Justice Goldberg observed, "while the Constitution protects against invasions of individual rights, it is not a suicide pact." Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, 372 U.S. 144, 160 (1963). So a Presidential determination that protecting America necessitated invading Iraq would be Constitutional. This is related to the concept that international law is not "self-executing," and thus most claims that the United States has violated a treaty will be dismissed by U.S. courts.

3) As a practical matter, what's the alternative? As President Bush said in his "West Point" speech:

"For centuries, international law recognized that nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully take action to defend themselves against forces that present an imminent danger of attack. Legal scholars and international jurists often conditioned the legitimacy of preemption on the existence of an imminent threat—most often a visible mobilization of armies, navies, and air forces preparing to attack.

We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries. . .

The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction— and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.

The United States will not use force in all cases to preempt emerging threats, nor should nations use preemption as a pretext for aggression. Yet in an age where the enemies of civilization openly and actively seek the world’s most destructive technologies, the United States cannot remain idle while dangers gather."

I'm all in favor of legalities. But our enemy observes none. The Peace of Westfalia is over 350 years old. Terrorism, and chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, necessitate an update.