Saturday, February 25, 2006

From Hero to Zero

Friday has always been the Bush administration's favourite day for releasing news they'd rather people didn't pay any attention to. Here's the perfect demonstration of this in practice, via CNN.
The only Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support has been downgraded to a level requiring them to fight with American troops backing them up, the Pentagon said Friday.

The battalion, made up of 700 to 800 Iraqi Army soldiers, has repeatedly been offered by the U.S. as an example of the growing independence of the Iraqi military.
So, just to get this straight, nearly three years after the invasion, there is today not one single Iraqi battalion which the US military believes can operate without it's assistance. That's what I call progess. It's like Dubya said; as Iraqi forces stand up, we will stand down.

There are those who would believe that I'm happy to relate news like this, that "stoppers" love to see bad news from Iraq. I can't speak for anyone else but I can speak for myself. For me, far from being happy at news like this, the incompetance of the coalition's handling of post-invasion Iraq makes me exceedingly angry. The UK and US government's now, after the event, claim that the welfare of the Iraqi people is the main goal of the invasion and occupation. But the mistakes made by the coalition, and there have been many, have made the situation far more difficult for Iraqis than might have been the case. The post-invasion years have been riven with coalition incompetence, scandal and abuse, corruption, poor military tactics, and just plain stupidity.

One of the reasons I opposed the invasion was because I thought neither Bush nor Blair understood how difficult the post-war period would be. Mission Accomplished? Idiocy. And this incompetance continues. It is not us in the West, with our secure neighbourhoods, and our 24 hours of constant electricity, who are paying for this incompetance; it is the people of Iraq. Those who claim to support the Iraqi people would do well to remember that they do them a disservice when they ignore the coalition failures which are ruining their lives and their future.

Whatever happens in Iraq from now on, and I genuinely hope that things improve dramatically, the leaders who took us to war without having anything like a workable plan to build the peace must, in my view, be held to account.

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