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December 30, 2006


Baghdad Blogger returns....
Posted by Lorelei Kelly

After a long silence, Baghdad Burning has come back up on line. If you don't know Riverbend, she is an Iraqi female who has written incredibly on the situation over the past 3 1/2 years.  What she posted Friday is a painful read.  Here are two excerpts:

"A day in the life of the average Iraqi has been reduced to identifying corpses,        avoiding car bombs and attempting to keep track of which family members have been detained, which ones have been exiled and which ones have been abducted."

"You know your country is in trouble when: The UN has to open a special branch just to keep track of the chaos and bloodshed, UNAMI. Abovementioned branch cannot be run from your country. The politicians who worked to put your country in this sorry state can no longer be found inside of, or anywhere near, its borders. The only thing the US and Iran can agree about is the deteriorating state of your nation. An 8-year war and 13-year blockade are looking like the country's 'Golden Years'."

read the entire piece here.

December 29, 2006


What Darfur Means for our National Security
Posted by Lorelei Kelly

Apologies for the long gaps on the blog. I'm home in New Mexico for Christmas and finally got to my mom's house in the Four Corners where I astonishingly found a new DSL line.  This is a big deal seeing as the most advanced technology until now is a windmill to pump water for the horses.

The day before Christmas, I drove by a sign from It stated simply "Not on our watch".  It was a poignant reminder of what's going on in the world--and it made me feel awkward on my way to the shopping mall to catch the last minute sales.  The sign also reminded me of three things that recently came across my defense-wonk radar. First, this great article in last week's New Yorker about social science insights gaining ground in the US Government--including the Defense Department. Second, that even the highly resistant Bush Administration is warming up to the idea of a larger Army . And third, that the DoD just released its latest Counter Insurgency Doctrine manual. 

The manual codifies an important lesson of insurgencies: it takes more than the military to win. So what has this all got to do with SaveDarfur? 

Continue reading "What Darfur Means for our National Security" »


Moving the Debate beyond Troop Levels
Posted by Jordan Tama

The New York Times reports today that the Bush administration is leaning toward a short-term increase of 17-20,000 troops in Iraq, achieved mainly by extending the deployments of two Marine regiments. That would be a reasonable decision, though those troops might do more good in Afghanistan. But I'm worried that critical issues other than troop levels are getting short shrift in the administration's deliberations and the public debate on Iraq.

By itself, a relatively small increase in U.S. troop levels (20,000 is a small number, given that we already have 134,000 troops in Iraq) won't make a large difference in Iraq. Don't get me wrong: I don't think we should increase (or decrease) troop levels more dramatically than that, for reasons I described in an earlier post.

But I do think we should be focusing more on other vital issues, namely: how to achieve political reconciliation among the many armed factions in Iraq; how to prod the Iraqi government to take the difficult steps necessary to weaken the most dangerous militias and insurgents; and how to induce neighboring countries to play a more constructive role in Iraq.

These challenges are mostly political and diplomatic. More troops won't get us very far in addressing them. Yet the Times indicates that the bulk of administration discussions this week have centered on security issues and the option of sending more troops to Baghdad.

In 2003, a larger troop presence might have stabilized the country. Today, there's no chance that 20,000 more troops will stop the sectarian violence that's been spiraling out of control for the past year. How exactly are these troops going to prevent death squads from murdering scores of individuals per day in their homes and on the streets? Our troop presence is necessary to prevent the violence from escalating into a total bloodbath, but political deals among Iraq's factions are necessary to end the rampant ethnic killing.

President Bush should focus his administration's energy on finding ways to help broker those political deals.

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