Home > Roundup > Roundup of Analysis and Investigative Articles: Petraeus, statistics, on evil, command by military, and coercive politics

Roundup of Analysis and Investigative Articles: Petraeus, statistics, on evil, command by military, and coercive politics

What Crocker and Petraeus didn’t say. The Bush administration’s top two officials in Iraq answered questions from Congress for more than six hours on Monday, but their testimony may have been as important for what they didn’t say as for what they did. A chart displayed by Army Gen. David Petraeus that purported to show the decline in sectarian violence in Baghdad between December and August made no effort to show that the ethnic character of many of the neighborhoods had changed in that same period from majority Sunni Muslim or mixed to majority Shiite Muslim. Petraeus also didn’t highlight the fact that his charts showed that “ethno-sectarian” deaths in August, down from July, were still higher than in June, and he didn’t explain why the greatest drop in such deaths, which peaked in December, occurred between January and February, before the surge began. (Nancy A. Youssef and Leila Fadel, McClatchy)

“Progress” by the Numbers. It was about this time of year in 2002, in the halcyon days of the Bush administration, that White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card offered a little political marketing advice to the world. In explaining why the Bush administration had not launched its “case” against Iraq (and for a future invasion) the previous month, he told a New York Times reporter, “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.” It’s a piece of simple business wisdom, and when it comes to manipulating the public, the Bush administration is still sticking to it five years later. (Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch)

Ahmadinejad as Goldfinger On the same day General David H. Petraeus delivered to Congress his much anticipated progress report on the U.S. military’s “surge strategy” in Iraq, neoconservative ideologues associated with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) took aim at another one of the reputed foes of “freedom” — the Islamic Republic of Iran. Along with the broad — and at times mocking — generalisations about Iran’s attempts to foment “Islamic totalitarianism” throughout the world, Ledeen, accompanied by former Central Intelligence Agency director James Woolsey and Clifford D. May, president of the hawkish Foundation for the Defence of Democracies, appeared dead-set against any diplomatic engagement with Iran. With strong links to Vice President Dick Cheney’s office and the White House, the Washington-based AEI has, since the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks, enjoyed unparalleled influence in shaping U.S. interventionist policy in the Middle East. (Khody Akhavi, IPS)

The view from Baghdad: Mounting death toll which makes a mockery of US optimism By the time General Petraeus had finished speaking yesterday the slaughter in Iraq for the previous 24 hours could be tallied. It was not an exceptionally violent day by the standards of Iraq: seven US soldiers lay dead and 11 injured in the capital; other instances of sectarian violence included a suicide bomb which had killed 10 and wounded scores near Mosul while 10 bodies were found in Baghdad. Three policemen were killed in clashes in Mosul, and a car bomb outside a hospital in the capital had exploded, killing two and wounding six. In Baghdad, on the surface the overt violence appears to have diminished. There are fewer loud explosions. But, the city is now being partitioned by sectarian hatred and fear; by concrete walls and barbed wire. Claims that the US military strategy is paving the way for a stable society bear little resemblance to the reality on the ground. (Kim Sengupta, The Independent)

Pakistan’s military kitted for new power Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s return to Pakistan has hogged all the limelight, but he only lasted a few hours on Monday before being sent packing back into exile. He was never a part of the story anyway. The real deal in the new political setup will be the military wielding power behind a civilian government, playing faithful servant to the US in the “war on terror” while at the same time preparing the Taliban for power in Afghanistan. (Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times)

Syria and Israel flirt with war Both Syria and Israel repeatedly state that they want peace, not war, but last week’s incident in which four Israeli warplanes invaded Syrian airspace markedly lowers the odds on hostilities. Jerusalem has remained steadfastly silent over the incursion, leaving Damascus to draw its own conclusion that all options are on the table. (Sami Moubayed, Asia Times)

Abe and Okinawa: Collision Course? It is a commonplace of recent writing on Japan that the Abe Shinzo government is in trouble. Yet comment on Abe’s disastrous Upper House election of July and on his subsequent cabinet reorganization of August, with few exceptions, ignores Okinawa, the prefecture where the burden of the reorganized US-Japan alliance is heaviest, the veneer of Abe “reformism” thinnest, popular discontent deepest, and the consequences of failure potentially most serious. This essay, following other recent comments on Okinawan political and social developments (both in Japan Focus and in my new book, Client State: Japan in the American Embrace), addresses the Okinawan experience of Abe politics as the embattled Prime Minister moves to revamp the alliance with the US and extend nation-wide the Okinawa template of US-Japan cooperation. Although Prime Minister Abe talks of his intention to “heed” and “humbly accept” the opinions of people in Japan’s regions, the Okinawan experience suggests otherwise. Room for negotiation shrinks as Tokyo moves from negotiation and compromise to coercion. (Gavan McCormack, Japan Focus)

The age of disaster capitalism. In the days after 9/11, America’s firefighters, nurses and teachers were hailed as the country’s heroes. But President Bush’s embracing of the public sector didn’t last long. As the dust settled on the twin towers, the White House launched an entirely new economy, based on security – with the belief that only private firms could meet the challenge. (Naomi Klein, Guardian)

Dwindling Days for Arctic Ice. If computer models are correct, by 2050 Arctic sea ice will shrink during late summer by more than twice as much as it does now. The results of a new study by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) add weight to speculation that a northern sea route will open up from Europe to Asia for the first time in recorded history. (Phil Berardelli, Science)

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