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[casi] Morale in the White House is sinking...

along with troop morale - or so it seems.
Conversely, awareness is on the rise that the
strength of mind of the Iraqi people is a force
to be reckoned with. Here are summaries of some
news items suggesting this:

Item (1):

ABC News correspondent Jeffrey Kofman has been
filing stories about plummeting U.S. troop morale
in Iraq - which is true. But the truth apparently
upset the White House. So they put out the word
to Republican-friendly media that Kofman is a
homosexual and Canadian. True too - on both counts.

In Wednesday, a headline on Matt Drudge's website
announced: "ABC News correspondent who filed
troop complaints story is openly gay, Canadian."

This info was then picked up by conservative
talk-radio and online commentators and has been
circulating since. Critics say that Kofman's
being Canadian was the reason he would file such
"unpatriotic" reports from Iraq.

ABC it seems will stick up for Kofman. But apparently
the incidence caused a little furore in US media
circles. The White House has denied that it started
a smear campaign. Mr. Drudge, however, insists that
Bush officials handed him the information on this
Canadian reporter. He told the Washington Post:
"someone from the White House communications shop
tipped me to it."

Is the White House getting so desperate that it
can't even bear the truth about its own troops?

And Mr. Kofman, contacted in Baghdad, is unfazed.

Item (2):

A cartoon in the National Post (a Black paper).

A line of demonstrating Iraqis with signs that
read: "Yankee go home", and "end occupation of Iraq".
With the demonstrators are two US soldiers also
carrying signs: "U.S. out of Iraq now", and "send
U.S. home". In front of the demonstrators is an
army bigwig bellowing, "I want all you people to
go back to your homes... and army bases."

Item (3)

"Window may close rapidly on U.S. effort to
rebuild Iraq". (For 'rebuild', I read privatize
and exploit.)

This is about the report by the Center for
Strategic and International Studies. The Bush
admin has only a short time left to "turning
around the security situation", warns the report,
before things "slide into chaos".

By "security situation" they obviously don't mean
security for the Iraqi people. This could easily
be accomplished by allowing for a full-size police
force - to say nothing about a democratically
elected government.

By "security" they mean security for the occupiers,
ie, an end to the attacks on the occupying forces.
Without that kind of security, no investor will
invest a cent in the grandiose privatization schemes.

Wolfowitz claims that the US was "unprepared for
the lawlessness that emerged after Baghdad fell".
This is nonsense. Anyone could have predicted that:
If tomorrow the government of the US were toppled,
the ministries dismantled, the police force
disbanded, prisons thrown open, and the population
made unemployed, all hell would break loose. And
Americans haven't suffered 13 years of deprivation
through sanctions in a bombed-out country.

What the US was not prepared for was the resistance.
They had not expected Iraqis to be so united
against the occupation. Even the Kurds, the US's
clients, are getting fed up as their expectations
are not met.

To break the resistance, the occupiers have been
intentionally depriving Iraqis of security,
electricity, water, and employment, I believe. And
it looks as if the blackmail isn't going to work.
Hearts and minds are certainly not won by forced
deprivation - and by killing and harassing people.

U.S. interest and credibility are on the line, says
the report:

"... unless law and order, along with better economic
prospects and social services are delivered soon,
Iraqis will lose hope..."

"The Iraqi population has exceedingly high
expectations", says the report, "and the window
for co-operation may close rapidly, if they do
not see progress."

I am not sure what is meant by "high expectations".
Iraqis are lacking the basic necessities such as
electricity, water, and health care; food; work,
and independence. Nothing "high" about that.

The White House is also getting frustrated at
its lack of success in "internationalizing the
occupation". In plain English, they can't get
countries to volunteer troops for Iraq.

Washington has asked 85 countries, including
Mongolia, but has had few takers, aside from
New Europe and some Latin American countries.

Several countries, including India, Pakistan,
Russian, France, and Germany have said they
would send troops only under a UN mandate.
SCR-1483 does not provide for troops, so
Washington wants to amend it. It may even
consider a new UN mandate.

The report recommends: "Drastic changes must
be made immediately", it says, to get the word
to the Iraqi people through "enhanced radio and
TV programming and improved systems for distilling
a key message every day."

Are hearts and minds to be won through propaganda?
And what might such a "key message" be?

The report also recommends "programs to spur
economic activity and to assist women". And I
have the feeling that the tenor of that HRW
report ties in with this. Winning over the
female part of the population would go a long
way of making Iraq safe for investors; to get
the contracts rolling; and the oil flowing.

Still, the occupiers' arrogance seems to have
mellowed a bit.

And it is largely the collective will of the
Iraqi people that has made the US realize that
they must do something - soon.

So if the Iraqis can show such strength and
courage despite suffering and deprivations, we
as outsiders need not give in to weakness.

Bon courage,
Elga Sutter

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