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A Michael C Update and a Second “Remember Iraq?” Link-Drop

Today we have a two for one special--two Iraq-related posts for the price of one. First, an update by Michael C on his current deployment, then a list of articles of the most important stories about Iraq.

An Update

This deployment is nothing like my last trip downrange. On my last tour, it took five minutes to get hot water in the showe (if it came), the food consisted of two warm trays of heated...stuff, and I shared a room and an AC unit that constantly broke with 8 other people. Conditions were spartan.

This deployment the water is always warm in the shower (sometimes too warm), the chow hall has a Caesar salad bar, sandwich bar, ice cream freezer, and steak on Fridays, and I have my own room and a working AC unit. Conditions are lush.

And the work environment is completely different. In Afghanistan, I executed someone else’s mission and controlled my own battlespace. This time I work for other people, but I get to choose my own work and I never leave the wire. A surreal experience.

A Second “Remember Iraq Link-Drop”

A few months back, in a bit of unintentional foreshadowing, I reminded our readers that Iraq was still relevant. While Iraq isn’t nearly as precarious as Afghanistan, as recent events have shown, Iraq is far from stable.

Recently, Violence in Iraq has peaked to the highest death toll levels in two years. The main cause--and the most worrying issue--is that Iraqi has failed to form a new government after the March elections. If the Iraqis don’t get past this political impasse, expect violence to increase.

But the Obama administration is staying the course with the troop drawdown in Iraq. Both President Obama and General Odierno have stated that we will have less than 50,000 troops in Iraq by August 31st, and I believe that.

Oh, and the new mission will be called “Operation New Dawn” which sounds like “Nude On” if you say it fast. So, on September 1st, I will get my “Nude On” with everyone else at my base.

Right on the heels of the “Top Secret America” article condemning the use of military contractors in intelligence, we find out that military contractors in Iraq have a bright future with the State Department. I wish there was a better solution than hiring more contractors (State Department security? a militarized peace corps? our military?), but it looks like Triple Canopy, Xe nee Blackwater and other security firms will remain in Iraq until at least the end of 2011.

Finally--to show that contractors aren’t the only perpetrators of fraud, waste and abuse--the Pentagon announced that it can’t account for 8 billion dollars of Iraqi rebuilding money. Sarcastic applause.

six comments

It just seems like all the major problems—violence, political discord, contractors, waste, violence—just keep continuing in Iraq.

It rung true when it was published and I think it still applies now, Tom Ricks had it best when he called it FIASCO.

Yeah I guess invading a foreign nation and removing the police, army and all security forces isn’t a smart idea, in hind sight. I should mention that the American numbers above don’t match the Iraqi numbers for the number of dead, but the trend of violence isn’t as low as it was in the past.

I´m just wondering if Iraq is ever going to turn into a permanent duty station like Korea, I´m not sure the Iraqi government has the political capital to extend the SOFA agreement past 2011 even if they want to (even if they can agree among another enough to do that), but I´m wondering if US forces will stay there past 2011 anyways.

You should do a post on the reasons why the Iraqi government hasn´t been able to form a coalition government yet, I don´t think most of your readers are aware of the reasons behind that beyond just the standard explanation of sectarian squabbling.

I know there have been several factors behind it such as questions to the legitimacy of the elections (there have been accusations Maliki was using Iraqi police and military to harass his political opponents, plus people who were even accused of being ex-Baathists were thrown out of the election without any supporting evidence even though Allawi himself is an ex-Baathist), disagreements over which way to approach oil contracts and who has the authority to make deals with oil companies if there is no nationalized oil company, questions of the legitimacy of Allawi´s party and whether he is a US puppet or not (he was heavily involved in Iraqi National Accord, a CIA funded sister organization to the Iraq National Congress before the war), and there is still a general feeling of uncertainty about the future throughout Iraq.

The problems are political, and its not something the US should be intervening in, its something that is ultimately going to have to be solved by Iraqi politicians and the Iraqi electorate.

@ Chris C – How many people know Iraq has failed to form a gov. after the election?

My guess would be not many.