Ah… Iraq; the political battle of two fiscal years that just doesn't quit – at all. That meaning that the state of the disunion is still up for grabs amid the consistent flurry of suspicious politicians, pockmarked walls, a struggling armed force, terrorists, elections, and roadside bombs.
But in the midst of all views of doubt, Bush has found yet another event worthy of political drooling: the agreement of Europe to aid the reconstruction of Iraq. The recent decision on behalf of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the EU (European Union)—both adequate representations of the European continent—with the United States ensures, or rather guarantees, a more stabilized Iraq. That is, after an adamant stage-off with America that lasted almost two years of dismissing the War in Iraq, European powers have taken a somewhat conciliatory note to president Bush in Brussels, Belgium, on February 22.
However, the mending of the transatlantic riff stops at conciliatory and doesn't compliment America in any degree that it compliments the interim Iraqi government. NATO has recently announced that it will up the training of Iraq security personnel to 1,000 (one thousand) members, performing the task within and outside of Iraq and in NATO camps, as well as fund the reconstruction effort (1). Likewise, the EU also plans to funnel money into political activity, business opportunity, and general reconstruction; a portion of EU nations are already participating in the war as combatants (2). NATO, however, refuses to fight in the in War in Iraq (1).
The action comes as a sensible one when one considers the frenzied conditions of Iraq, including daily bombings, excessive deaths, and a still prominent terrorist capacity. Europe as much as America concurs in the same sense that both nations prefer a steadfast, terrorist-free sovereign nation. This requires money and a directed military and police organization, naturally. However, Europe is merely compensating for a problem created by America, i.e., it is pacifying the hub of the Middle East after the US split it open. By securing Iraq, Europe is then ensuring safety for the Iraqi people at a time when they need it most; the fact that this move coincides with US intentions is more chance than intention, being that it is simultaneously an agreeable diplomatic façade.
But beyond representative bodies, all of the European masses will voice their convictions over the Iraqi disunion in an unfavorable manner toward American policy. In a recent poll conducted by AP (Associated Press)-Ipsos, it was found that most interviewed Europeans disagree with the notion of US liberation, or god ol' freedom-spreadin'.
Specifically, 84 (eighty-four) percent of the French thought that the US should not possess the role of worldwide reformer while Germany too disagreed with America's self-proclaimed position of power in a percentage essentially the same as France's. The big war ally Britain admitted to two thirds of the population being against the American action. Even in the States 53 (fifty-three) percent of those interviewed commented that their home country should not be trying to spread democracy; 43 (forty-three) percent were in favor of the aggressive foreign policy (3).
But Bush feels that he is misunderstood. While in his inauguration he more than proved his goal to spread "freedom" and "liberty" throughout the world, many take this as at best an implication, but more of a down-right proposal to instigate international conflict. Said one White House counselor, "People get in their mind that spreading freedom means war and that's not the case."(4)
If the whole spectrum of the Bush-endorsed democratic domino theory in the Middle East did not lay completely on the actions taken in Iraq, then perhaps this would be credible. Concerning future events, Bush's resistance to a strict diplomatic passage of reasoning with potential threatening countries is unsettling. As much as Bush may say that war with such eminent bullies as Iran and North Korea is not on the agenda, he also never says there is "no hostile intent" (a key diplomatic phrase that will, as shown by Clinton, will ease volatile governments into cooperation) toward an "evil" (axis of evil) nation or that the option of war isn't off the table. But, luckily for the Bush administration, the term war is a narrow one when considering the spread of US imposed freedom.
Atop of good intentions by a continent and the frontline country of America mulling in dissension over the war, is has been revealed in a government audit that Paul Bremer—an epic Bush goonie—had "mismanaged" $8.8 billion as supervisor of the occupation government, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Bremer, acting as interim chief of the CPA, reportedly failed to document the budget and distribution of funds in Iraq, causing numerous loopholes and money gaps (5). In self-defense, Bremer argued that Western accounting could not be properly implemented in a country characterized by post-war pandemonium. Nonetheless, one could at least avoid handing out $2 million in money bricks (stacks) from a pickup truck to contractor's personal gunnysacks. Even an eminent ex-CPA official claimed the scene as the "wild west." (6)
But money is still playing into the hands of… business! Coinciding with the, well, serendipity of the War in Iraq and the War on Terror in Afghanistan, defense contractors are making it big. This is given; however, the Los Angeles Times uncovered an eyebrow raising connection between president Bush and his uncle William H.T. "Bucky" Bush, a defense contractor. As an employee of the defense contracting company Engineered Support Systems Inc. (ESSI), Bucky – playing off of soaring stocks – earned almost a half million from his business's effort in the overseas war. The ESSI also boasts of an annual revenue between $990 million and $1 billion, a 20 (twenty) percent quarterly revenue increase from a year ago. The sketchy circumstance has rendered a federal investigation (7).
But the defense industry corporations such as Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin aren't the only ones profiting from Iraq – there's also our favorite: Halliburton. The company once led by the current vice president Cheney is likely to receive a fat $1.5 billion for services in the War in Iraq from a total Bush-proposed $80 billion 2005 fiscal year war budget. The Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) Halliburton subsidiary has earned $7.2 billion from the government since 2001 and stands to gain over $10 billion from federal funding (8). This paycheck goes to Halliburton for its well-intended but business-dominated services in Iraq, including providing food, clothes, and mail for soldiers. While in the superficial sense these services may diminish an ominous corporation profit to assist America's patriots abroad, until public outcry changed policy, KBR charged troops for meals they didn't even receive, the money amounting to $176 million (9). Like the ESSI, Halliburton is under investigation regarding the use and appropriation of funds in Iraq during the War in Iraq.
Aside from business, the American soldiers themselves are experiencing a decline in major combat operations. That is, recently the US military presence in Iraq has been relinquishing operations to the some 25 (twenty five) percent (approximation) prepared soldiers in Iraq's military. The Iraqi military in total has 60,000 people (10). American authorities have been training the remainder of the Iraq army by establishing training officers in both military and police units (11). This action is similar to the NATO efforts to train Iraqis but includes direct participation in operations.
Despite how relieving this may sound, the situation in Iraq is still characterized by turmoil. US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has declared that attacks in Iraq have amounted to 60 (sixty) per day (12). When one reads the headlines concerning deaths he can be easily shocked: 10 killed in Iraq attacks (February 26 - 13), 30 killed in Iraq attacks (February 24 - 14), 12 dead in northern Iraq attacks (February 23 - 15), Iraq attacks kill 55 on holiest Shiite day (February 20 – 16). This is just in the past two weeks. Sovereign state, here we come…
Nonetheless, the latest redemption for the Iraq government has been two captures of wanted men: Saddam Hussein's half brother Sabawi Ibrahim Hasaan and Zarqawi affiliate Mikhlif Arsan Walman al-Dulaymi. Hasaan, a staunch supporter of his borther's regime and once the intelligence director of Iraq, was handed over to Iraqi authorities from Syria, where he and 29 (twenty-nine) other Baathists were captured 30 (thirty) miles from the Syria-Iraq border. Hasaan was number 36 (thirty-six) out of the 55 (fifty-five) most wanted when during the US invasion and is alleged to have supported insurgency in post-war Iraq (17).
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi aide Mikhlif Arsan Walman al-Dulaymi, also known as Abu Qutaybah, was detained by the Iraqi government as well. Dulaymi was reportedly an important lieutenant for the nefarious Al Qaeda-affiliated Zarqawi – the Jordan terrorist responsible for some of the most vicious attacks on Iraqi civilians – organizing meetings for Zarqawi and establishing safe-houses for followers. The government also claims to be close on Zarqawi's trail (18).
Of course, equilibrium is apparent to upset the Bush administration. Recently the new CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) director Porter Goss has officially declared that Iraq is likely to expand the terrorist organizations into transnational networks after experienced jihadists leave the war-torn Iraq. Claimed Goss, the War in Iraq, "while not a cause of extremisms, has become a cause for extremists" (19). Officially defying Bush's vision of a liberated Iraq, Goss is the only head US official that has recognized the War in Iraq has opened the floodgates for terrorists and terrorist training rather than halting these efforts; Goss is the only one who recognizes, even if indirectly, that the War in Iraq was counterproductive.
In normal Iraqi's lives, the citizens are still adapting to a different purpose and freedom: democracy. The Shiite Alliance, the unified group of parties that won the slim majority of seats in the 275 (two hundred seventy five)-member National Assembly have proposed Ibrahim Jaafari as their lead candidate for the top position of prime minister in the Iraq government. Jaafari, a former exile under the Hussein regime and now a prominent member of the Islamic Daawa party, has the blessing of popular cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani (20). Though Jaafari isn't as secular as the US would prefer and in spite of the fact that Jaafari has ties to Iran, he promises to provide for all of the Iraqi people in order to keep a stable union. Aside from the prime minister seat, the long suppressed Kurds are in place to take positions of president and co-presidents.
Finally, an assessment on the ever emphasized "coalition of the willing". In a Washington Post article, it was reported that Portugal has pulled out its 150 (one hundred fifty) troops from Iraq in February, and that the Netherlands is beginning to pull its 1,700 (one thousand seven hundred) military presence. Poland as well has begun decreasing its involvement in the War in Iraq, having yanked 700 (seven hundred) of its soldiers in February and withdrawing its full 2,400 (two thousand four hundred) soldiers from the country this year. Poland, a big supporter of the war, notes that officials will help train the Iraq security forces after the military has left (21).
In conclusion: despite a diplomatically-united covering that, in Washington, goes a long way in terms of bravado, the NATO and EU efforts in Iraq are necessary actions for world security, and not a move designed to boost the sate of the Bush administration. Facts speak for themselves when revealing the outstanding opposition to the American liberation escapade, defense contractor's earnings (even without the political connection of president Bush and his uncle), and the lapses of business – whether it be big time Halliburton's big activity or the negligence of accounting for funds (the CPA). Redemption is little; deaths are high; America believes the war effort is progressing. The War in Iraq is still pointless.
NATO leaders express unity on Iraq, reaffirm values.
– w w w. nato.int/docu/update/2005/02-february/e0222a.htm
European Union Factsheet: EU Support for Iraq.
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Poll Shows Doubts Over Bush Democracy Push. February 22, 2005. Article by Will
Lester – AP writer. Poll was based on the opinions of 1,000 adults in nine nations including those discussed and have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 (three) percentage points.
White House counselor Dan Bartlett. February 22, 2005. ABC's "Good Morning America."
(5) U.S did not Safeguard $8.8 Billion of Iraq Money – Audit. January 30, 2005. Article by Sue Pleming – Reuters News Agency.
(6) U.S. Said to Pay Iraq Contractors in Cash. February 14, 2005. Article by Larry Margasak – Associated Press.
(7) Company's Work in Iraq Profited Bush's Uncle . February 23, 2005. Article by Walter F. Roche Jr. – Los Angeles Times.
(8) Halliburton Could Get $1.5 Billion More Iraq Work – Army. February 25, 2005. Reuters News Agency.
(9) Halliburton CEO says Firm Saves Money for Pentagon: Accusations of Overcharging in Iraq are said to be 'Political.' March 19, 2004. Article by James Cox – USA Today.
(10) US military begins transfer of authority to Iraqi security forces. February 2, 2005. Iraq Development Program (IDP)
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(11) Newsweek. February 2005. Unable to access entire article.
(12) Average Daily Attacks in Iraq, 60. February 18, 2005. Anadolu News Agency.
(13) 10 killed in Iraq attacks. February 26, 2005. Gulf Daily News.
(14) 30 killed in Iraq attacks. February 24, 2005. Japan Today.
(15) 12 dead in northern Iraq attacks. February 23, 2005. ABC Online, Australia.
(16) Iraq attacks kill 55 on holiest Shiite day. February 20, 2005. Sydney Morning Herald, Australia.
(17) Half Brother of Hussein is Captured. February 28, 2005. Article by Carlye Murphy – The Washington Post.
(18) Iraqi Government Says It Captures Top Zarqawi Aide. February 25, 2005. Reuters New Agency.
(19) CIA links terror threat to Iraq. February 17, 2005. BBC News.
(20) Profile: Ibrahim Jaafari. February 16, 2005. BBC News.
(21)U.S. Moves To Preserve Iraq Coalition. February 25, 2005. Article by Robin Wright and Josh White – The Washington Post.