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http://www.time.com/time/columnist/karon/article/0,9565,534275,00.html Weblog: War Without End Tony Karon on the latest from the fronts in Iraq Monday, Oct. 27, 2003 The Bad News on Wolfowitz's Good-News Trip Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz's itinerary in Iraq was designed primarily as a PR exercise, intended to highlight the positive developments supposedly being overlooked by the media. But the men fighting the U.S. occupation from the shadows had a media agenda of their own, systematically spoiling Wolfowitz's PR party by a series of well-timed attacks on key locations and installations. Hours after Wolfowitz left Tikrit, insurgents using a rocket-propelled grenade downed a U.S. Black Hawk helicopter. Worse was to come: On Sunday, they fired a fusillade of rockets at the Baghdad hotel where Wolfowitz was staying, as if to show that even the most heavily guarded piece of real estate in the capital can't be adequately protected. The al-Rasheed hotel, where most coalition officials reside, has since been evacuated, and the spectacle of a shaken Wolfowitz vowing to fight on did little to reassure the folks back home. The attack on Wolfowitz's residence-for-a-night showed a nimble tactical ability on the part of the insurgents to improvise and time their attacks for maximum political effect. And they followed it up Monday with the bloodiest single day in Baghdad since the capital fell to U.S. forces, killing at least 34 people and wounding more than 200 in attacks on the headquarters of the International Red Cross and four Iraqi police stations around Baghdad. (Following the example of the UN before it, the ICRC has responded to the attack by preparing to withdraw most of its personnel from Iraq until such time as security improves.) It's Security, Stupid The administration's efforts to recast the American public's thinking on Iraq is focused on drawing attention to successes in rebuilding schools, restoring electricity supplies, launching a new currency and other basic improvements in the quality of daily life. But the latest wave of violence is a reminder that the critical issue on which all else depends is security, and on that front the news is not exactly encouraging. Rather than ebbing, six months into the occupation the attacks on U.S. forces are growing more frequent and more sophisticated. Twelve U.S. soldiers have been killed in the past 10 days, for example, and the number of wounded is far higher. (The total number of U.S. troops killed since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq on May 1 is now 112, and USA Today puts the total number wounded since that date, as of last Thursday, at 1,058.) Managing the Media The troubling security situation on the ground in Iraq also appears to have prompted a rethink in handling of the media. NPR's Deborah Amos reports that camera crews have been stopped from filming at the scene of ambushes on U.S. forces, sometimes being briefly detained or having their tapes confiscated. The military also no longer allows camera crews to film bodies arriving home in flag-draped caskets. The evident concern is to avoid generating troubling visuals — and the reasons are obvious: If the "Black Hawk Down" incident in Mogadishu is the defining military trauma of the past decade, it's worth noting that by the measure of combat fatalities in postwar Iraq has matched the Mogadishu death toll more than six times over. But it hasn't produced anything like that day's ugly visuals of American bodies being dragged through the streets by celebrating Somalis. There have, of course, been plenty of reports by Western print journalists of Iraqis cheering at the scene of ambushes on U.S. forces. And that's precisely the spectacle that the Pentagon may be looking to keep off the evening news. Money Talks The security situation is often cited as a major reason for the caution of European and Arab donors in making commitments to Iraq. But one dimension of the financial story mostly overlooked is the political implication of the fact that most of the donor pledges corralled by the U.S. last week came in the form of loans and loan-guarantees. Washington had already acceded to the reality that nobody outside its "coalition of the willing" is going to provide funds to be managed directly by U.S. viceroy Paul Bremer, so a separate fund was created under the supervision of the IMF and World Bank to attract grants. But loans, presumably, would be a different matter. Those who loan money to others expect to be repaid, and therefore they need to know that the entity undertaking to repay the loan will be in a position — legally and financially — to do so. That rules out Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority, the Iraqi Governing Council and even the World Bank-run fund. All of these are designed as temporary entities, and there would be no legal obligation on a future sovereign Iraqi government to repay any loans made by any of them. In other words, by offering aid to Iraq in the form of a loan, the donors are essentially requiring that a sovereign Iraqi government be put in place before any funds are forthcoming. And that appears to be a way of putting some muscle behind the demand for a speedy restoration of Iraqi sovereignty articulated by the Europeans and Arabs in the weeks preceding the latest UN Security Council resolution. ------------------------------------------------------Tony Karon is a senior editor for TIME.com. His column on international affairs appears every Tuesday. [more] __________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Exclusive Video Premiere - Britney Spears http://launch.yahoo.com/promos/britneyspears/ _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk