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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #166 - 2 msgs

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Today's Topics:

   1. America's plan for Fallujah by Michael Schwartz (
   2. Unicef sounds Iraq malnutrition alarm (Mark Parkinson)


Message: 1
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2004 06:51:27 EST
Subject: America's plan for Fallujah by Michael Schwartz

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America's Sinister Plan for Falluja
By Michael Schwartz
The chilling reality of what Falluja has become is only now seeping out, as
the American military continues to block almost all access to the city,
_whether to  reporters_
(,3604,1366278,00.html) , its former residents, or aid 
groups like the Red Crescent  Society. The
date of access keeps being postponed, partly because of ongoing  fighting --
only this week more air strikes were called in and fighting "in  pockets"
remains fierce (despite American pronouncements of success weeks ago)  -- and
partly because of the difficulties military commanders have faced in  attempting
to prettify their ugly handiwork. Residents will now officially be  denied
entry until at least December 24; and even then, only the heads of  households
will be allowed in, a few at a time, to assess damage to their  residences in the
largely destroyed city.
With a few notable exceptions the media has accepted the recent virtual news
blackout in Falluja. The ongoing fighting in the city, especially in
"cleared"  neighborhoods, is proving an embarrassment and so, while military spokesmen
 continue to announce American casualties, they now come not from the city
itself  but, far more vaguely, from "al Anbar province" of which the city is a
part.  Fifty American soldiers died in the taking of the city; 20 more died in
the  following weeks -- before the reports stopped. Iraqi civilian casualties
remain  unknown and accounts of what's happened in the city, except from the
point of  view of embedded reporters (and so of American troops) remain scarce
indeed.  With only a few exceptions (notably _Anthony  Shadid of the
Washington Post_
( ), American reporters 
have neglected to cull  news from refugee camps
or Baghdad hospitals, where survivors of the siege are  now congregating.
Intrepid independent and foreign reporters are doing a better job (_most
notably Dahr Jamail_
( , whose dispatches are 
indispensable), but even they have  been
handicapped by lack of access to the city itself. At least Jamail did the  next best
thing, interviewing a Red Crescent worker who was among the handful of  NGO
personnel allowed briefly into the wreckage that was Falluja.
_A  report by Katarina Kratovac_
(  of the Associated 
Press (picked by the
Washington Post) about military plans for managing Falluja once it is  pacified (if
it ever is) proved a notable exception to the arid coverage in the  major
media. Kratovac based her piece on briefings by the military leadership,  notably
Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, commander of the Marines in Iraq. By combining  her
evidence with _some  resourceful reporting by Dahr Jamail_
(  (and bits and pieces of
information  from reports printed up elsewhere), a reasonably sharp vision of
the conditions  the U.S. is planning for Falluja's "liberated" residents comes
into focus. When  they are finally allowed to return, if all goes as the
Americans imagine, here's  what the city's residents may face:

* Entry and exit from the city will be restricted.  According to General
Sattler, only five roads into the city will remain open.  The rest will be blocked
by "sand berms" -- read, mountains of earth that will  make them impassible.
Checkpoints will be established at each of the five  entry points, manned by
U.S. troops, and everyone entering will be  "photographed, fingerprinted and
have iris scans taken before being issued ID  cards." Though Sattler reassured
American reporters that the process would  only take 10 minutes, the
implication is that entry and exit from the city  will depend solely on valid ID cards
properly proffered, a system akin to the  pass-card system used during the
apartheid era in South Africa.
* Fallujans are to wear their universal identity cards in plain sight at  all
times. The ID cards will, according to Dahr Jamail's information, be  made
into badges that contain the individual's home address. This sort of  system has
no purpose except to allow for the monitoring of everyone in the  city, so
that ongoing American patrols can quickly determine if someone is not  a
registered citizen or is suspiciously far from their home neighborhood.
* No private automobiles will be allowed inside the city. This is a
"precaution against car bombs," which Sattler called "the deadliest weapons in  the
insurgent arsenal." As a district is opened to repopulation, the returning
residents will be forced to park their cars outside the city and will be bused  to
their homes. How they will get around afterwards has not been announced.  How
they will transport reconstruction materials to rebuild their devastated
property is also a mystery.
* Only those Fallujans cleared through American intelligence vettings  will
be allowed to work on the reconstruction of the city. Since Falluja  is
currently devastated and almost all employment will, at least temporarily,  derive
from whatever reconstruction aid the U.S. provides, this means that the
Americans plan to retain a life-and-death grip on the city. Only those deemed  by
them to be non-insurgents (based on notoriously faulty American  intelligence)
will be able to support themselves or their families.
* Those engaged in reconstruction work -- that is, work -- in the city  may
be organized into "work brigades." The best information indicates that  these
will be military-style battalions commanded by the American or Iraqi  armed
forces. Here, as in other parts of the plan, the motive is clearly to  maintain
strict surveillance over males of military age, all of whom will be  considered
potential insurgents.
In case the overarching meaning of all this has eluded you, Major Francis
Piccoli, a spokesman for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, which is leading
the occupation of Falluja, spelled it out for the AP's Kratovac: "Some may see
this as a 'Big Brother is watching over you' experiment, but in reality it's
a  simple security measure to keep the insurgents from coming back." Actually,
it  is undoubtedly meant to be both; and since, in the end, it is likely to
fail (at  least, if the "success" of other American plans in Iraq is taken as
precedent),  it may prove less revealing of Falluja's actual future than of the
failure of  the American counterinsurgency effort in Iraq and of the
desperation of American  strategists. In this context, the most revealing element of
the plan may be the  banning of all cars, the enforcement of which, all by
itself, would make the  city unlivable; and which therefore demonstrates both the
impracticality of the  U.S. vision and a callous disregard for the needs and
rights of the Fallujans.
These dystopian plans are a direct consequence of the fact that the conquest
of Falluja, despite the destruction of the city, visibly did not accomplish
its  primary goal: "_[To] wipe out  militants and insurgents_
(  and break the back of guerrillas in
Falluja." Even  taking American kill figures at face value, the battle for
the city was hardly a  full-scale success. Before the assault on the city began,
American intelligence  estimated that there were 5,000 insurgents inside.
_General  Sattler_
(  himself conceded that 
the final official count was 1,200
fighters  killed and no more than 2,000 suspected guerrillas captured. (This
assumes, of  course, that it was possible in the heat of the battle and its grim
aftermath to  tell whether any dead man of fighting age was an "insurgent," a
"suspected  insurgent," or just a dead civilian.) At least a couple of thousand
resistance  fighters previously residing in Falluja are, then, still "at large"
-- not  counting the undoubtedly sizeable number of displaced residents now
angry enough  to take up arms. As a consequence, were the U.S. to allow the
outraged residents  of Falluja to return unmolested, they would simply face a new
struggle in the  ruins of the city (as, in fact, continues to be the case
anyway). This would  leave the extensive devastation of whole neighborhoods as the
sole legacy of the  invasion.
American desperation is expressed in a willingness to treat all Fallujans as
part of the insurgency -- the inevitable fate of an occupying army that tries
to  "root out" a popular resistance. As _General Sattler_
(   explains, speaking of the plan for the
"repopulation" of the city, "Once we've  cleared each and every house in a sector,
then the Iraqi government will make  the notification of residents of that
particular sector that they are encouraged  to return." In other words, each
section of the city must be entirely emptied of  life, so that the military can be
sure not even one suspect insurgent has  infiltrated the new order. (As is
evident, this is but another American  occupation fantasy, since the insurgents
still hiding in the city have evidently  proven all too adept at
"repopulating" emptied neighborhoods themselves.)
The ongoing policy of house-to-house inspections, combined with ultra-tight
security regulations aimed at not allowing suspected guerrillas to reenter the
 city, is supposed to insure that everyone inside the Fallujan perimeter will
not  only be disarmed but obedient to occupation demands and desires. The
name tags  and the high-tech identity cards are meant to guard against both
forgeries and  unlawful movement within the city. The military-style work gangs are
to insure  that everyone is under close supervision at all times. The
restricted entry  points are clearly meant to keep all weapons out. Assumedly kept
out as well  will be most or all reporters (they tend to inflame public
opinion), most  medical personnel (they tend to "exaggerate" civilian casualties), and
most  Sunni clerics (they oppose the occupation and support the insurgency)..
We can  also expect close scrutiny of computers (which can be used for
nefarious  communications), ambulances (which have been used to smuggle weapons and
guerrillas), medicines (which can be used to patch up wounded fighters who
might  still be hiding somewhere), and so on.
It is not much of a reach to see that, at least in their fantasies, U.S.
planners would like to set up what sociologists call a "total institution." Like
a mental hospital or a prison, Falluja, at least as reimagined by the
Americans,  will be a place where constant surveillance equals daily life and the
capacity  to interdict "suspicious" behavior (however defined) is the norm. But
"total  institution" might be too sanitized a term to describe activities which
so  clearly violate international law as well as fundamental morality. Those
looking  for a descriptor with more emotional bite might consider one of those
used by _correspondent Pepe  Escobar of the Asia Times_
( : either "American gulag" for those who
enjoy  Stalinist imagery or "concentration camp" for those who prefer the Nazi
version  of the same. But maybe we should just call it a plain old police
Where will such plans lead? Well, for one thing, we can confidently predict
that nothing we might recognize as an election will take place in Falluja at
the  end of January. (Remember, it was to liberate Fallujans from the grip of
"terrorists" and to pave the way for electoral free choice that the Bush
administration claimed it was taking the city in the first place.) With the
current date for allowing the first residents to return set for December 24 --
heads of household only to assess property damage -- and the process of
repopulation supposedly moving step-by-step, from north to south, across
neighborhoods and over time, it's almost inconceivable that a majority of  Fallujans will
have returned by late January (if they are even willing to return  under the
conditions set by the Americans). Latest reports are that it will take  six
months to a year simply to restore electricity to the city. So organizing
elections seems unlikely indeed.
The magnitude of the devastation and the brutality of the American plan are
what's likely to occupy the full attention of Fallujans for the foreseeable
future -- and their reactions to these dual disasters represent the biggest
question mark of the moment. However, the history of the Iraq war thus far, and
the history of guerrilla wars in general, suggest that there will simply be a
 new round of struggle, and that carefully laid military plans will begin to
disintegrate with the very first arrivals. There is no predicting what form
the  new struggle will take, but the U.S. military is going to have a great
deal of  difficulty controlling a large number of rebellious, angry people inside
the  gates of America's new mini-police state. This is why the military
command has  kept almost all of the original attack force in the city, in
anticipation of the  need for tight patrols by a multitude of American troops. (And it
also explains  why so many other locations around the country have suddenly
found themselves  without an American troop presence.)
The Falluja police-state strategy represents a sign of weakness, not
strength. The new Falluja imagined by American planners is a desperate, ad hoc
response to the failure of the battle to "break the back of the guerrillas."  Like
the initial attack on the city, it too is doomed to failure, though it has
the perverse "promise" of deepening the suffering of the Iraqis.
Michael Schwartz, Professor of Sociology at the State University of New  York
at Stony Brook, has written extensively on popular protest and insurgency,
and on American business and government dynamics. His work on Iraq has appeared
 at TomDispatch, Asia Times, and ZNet and in Contexts and Z Magazine. His
books  include Radical Politics and Social Structure, The Power Structure of
American Business (with Beth Mintz), and _Social  Policy and the Conservative
Agenda_ (
(edited, with Clarence Lo) His email  address is _Ms42@optonline.net_
( .


Message: 2
From: "Mark Parkinson" <>
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2004 13:52:30 -0000
Subject: Unicef sounds Iraq malnutrition alarm

Unicef sounds Iraq malnutrition alarm
By: AFP on: 19.12.2004

The United Nations Children's Fund, Unicef, has warned that the
number of young Iraqi children suffering from acute malnutrition has
nearly doubled since the March 2003 invasion, with health and living
conditions deteriorating.

Almost 8% of Iraqi children younger than five suffer from chronic
diarrhoea and protein deficiency, the agency's latest reports said.

"This means that hundreds of thousands of children are today
suffering the severe effects of diarrhoea and nutrient deficiencies,"
Unicef executive director Carol Bellamy said.

Diarrhoea, caused mainly by unsafe water and in some areas lack of
clean supplies, is responsible for 70% of child deaths in Iraq, the
agency said.

Water-treatment plants, already in poor condition, have suffered more
damage since the invasion. In Baghdad, 40% of the water system has
been damaged, with water lines either broken or contaminated.

Sewage-treatment plants no longer work because of problems with the
electrical supply, poor maintenance and damage caused since the

Report denied

Iraq's interim health minister flatly denied the Unicef report.

"Acute malnutrition has certainly not doubled in this period," Ala al-
Din al-Alwan said in a statement, adding that other studies showed
malnutrition may even have decreased since the 2003 US-led invasion
to oust Saddam Hussein from power.

The minister said that a study immediately after the March 2003
invasion put malnutrition at around 8%, while a World Food Survey
report based on December 2003 data showed a rate of 4.4%.

The minister said the methodology of the Unicef report "raises
serious questions and concerns".

Mark Parkinson

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