Iraq: Taking stock five years on

On Seumas Milne, ‘Blowback all over again’, Guardian Comment, March 21, 2008  

The architects of the war in Iraq are congratulating themselves, equipped with new ‘public opinion surveys’ and ‘figures’ demonstrating that the ‘surge’ has reduced violence in the country. Seumas Milne’s excellent article brings a much-needed perspective to the debate.

As Milne points out, behind the surge, in large part, are the Sunni militiamen in the Awakening Council, an American creation, which is showing signs of falling apart. The militia was as big as 80,000 strong I did not know and I thank Milne for bringing the size to my notice. A disaffected parallel army of this size is a time bomb. What can be expected of a militia consisting of hired gunmen, on daily wages, who have not been paid?

Future threats aside, and there are many, Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution in Washington presents a noteworthy analysis today of the Iraq war. Someone with a critical mind, instead of buying the propaganda, would do well to put Riedel’s analysis alongside President Bush’s claim that the war has been a strategic victory for America. More

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