Permissible Arms

Friday Iraq Errata

Posted in iraq, us military by Karaka on 16 October 2009

Iraq hasn’t been getting much play in the MSM; it’s as if once the drawdown was announced, the punditry forgot it (except to play the allegory game with Afghanistan and Vietnam). Things are still happening, though, as any country in the throes of change with a 100k strong foreign military presence might have. To wit,

Wounded Soldiers Return to Iraq, Seeking Solace:

The seven-day program, called Operation Proper Exit, has been kept quiet previously, partly because returning to a combat zone is considered a delicate experiment. For the eight wounded men who returned to Iraq this week, including five amputees and one blinded soldier, the hope is that returning to places many of them left while unconscious or in agony might reassure them that their losses have been worth it.

…Operation Proper Exit was started by a small foundation in Laurel, Md., Troops First, supported by the U.S.O. and welcomed by the military command in Iraq. This was the second visit to Iraq since June, but the first was kept secret because no one knew for sure how the soldiers would handle their return.

“The amount of developmental growth and closure was phenomenal,” said Col. David Sutherland, the former brigade commander in Diyala, who came along on that first trip and said it turned out better than had been hoped. “Some of them said their night terrors stopped after they went.”

You know, I have to say, going back for closure while violence and martial presence is integral is kind of insane, but clearly it’s an insanity that works. If the punditry I’ve been hearing is correct, this is the longest period of wartime the US has been in since our plucky country was created. And our concepts of PTSD and trauma are much more integrated into US culture. It may be the best way to get troops through the emotional repercussions of this warfare.

Most Iraqi refugees being resettled go to US:

More than 30,000 Iraqis have moved to the United States under a resettlement program that began in 2007 while much smaller numbers have gone to other countries, the U.N. refugee agency said Friday.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has recommended to the participating countries the names of 82,500 Iraqis who should be moved, but so far only 33,000 have been able go to their new homelands, said spokesman Andrej Mahecic.

“Everyone is urgent,” said Mahecic, but he stressed that priority should be given to medical emergencies and to women and children at particular risk.He said the refugees have been determined to be in need of international protection and that no other solution is possible.

Nothing to say except to note the number; that sure is a lot of displaced people. I suspect that’s a conservative estimate, too.

Iraqis Miss Target Date on Election:

Iraq’s parliament missed a deadline Thursday to pass a law needed to hold parliamentary elections slated for January, raising the chance the polls could be delayed.

A delay in the election, which is seen as a gauge of Iraq’s stability, could force American commanders to push back decisions about how quickly they can withdraw troops from the country, U.S. officials said.

You know, for a parliament who only recently were considering a measure to push international troops out sooner, they sure gave themselves a situation that would insure the MNF sticking around longer. Most of the drawdown is set to take place after troop forces help secure the election in January; by not taking the proper measures to insure that the elections take place, neither the Iraqis nor the MNF can adhere to the timetable for withdrawal. Somehow, someone is going to put that on Obama.

Eight Killed In Baghdad Jewel Heists:

Armed men killed at least eight people and wounded nine Wednesday during the robbery of three jewelry stores in Baghdad, a brazen, daylight crime that residents blamed on security forces.

Sectarian violence has fallen sharply in the past year, in Baghdad and other areas across Iraq, but robberies and killings remain common. Many say that the country’s security forces, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, often play at least a tacit role in the incidents.

In Wednesday’s robberies, witnesses said two dark blue minibuses carrying 12 to 15 men arrived in a Shiite neighborhood at 2 p.m. and parked a block away from the market where the jewelry stores are located. The men walked the rest of the way.

Okay, this is in no way amusing, but some little part of me who was influenced significantly by Ocean’s Eleven can’t help but note that civilization has returned to Iraq if they’re having jewel heists. If you took out the significant death toll, you could make a Hollywood movie. I’m sure Clooney is free.

Sorry, sorry, black humour is over. I do wonder, though: if this level of robbery and violence went unchecked entirely, is the policing institution actually, in any respect, stable? I can’t help but think back to the release of prisoners in Iraq that took place last month as US forces handed over the responsibility of them to Iraqis. Is there really sufficient control in place if the Iraqi police can’t stop soemthing as tragic as this?

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