Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Follow Up On Yesterday's Post

Yesterday, I wrote how The International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), a pro-war non-partisan think tank located in London, in its annual survey of world affairs, confirmed what many have feared: that the mismanagement of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has actually hurt the efforts of the war against radical Muslim terrorists.

But I failed to point out the pro-war pedigree of the IISS:

"The IISS has strong establishment links, with former US and British government officials among its members. The Foreign Office contributed £100,000 towards the setting up of its headquarters in central London, and Baroness Thatcher and Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, then secretary general of NATO, attended the opening.

The IISS dossier on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, published on 9 September 2002, was edited by Gary Samore, formerly of the US State Department, and presented by Dr John Chipman, a former NATO fellow. It was immediately seized on by Bush and Blair administrations as providing 'proof' that Saddam was just months away from launching a chemical and biological, or even a nuclear attack. Large parts of the IISS document were subsequently recycled in the now notorious Downing Street dossier, published with a foreword by the Prime Minister, the following week."

And there are several new details about the report that have been presented in an article appearing in the British newspaper, The Independent:

"The US and British occupation of Iraq has accelerated recruitment to the ranks of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and made the world a less safe place, according to a leading London-based think-tank.

The assessment, by the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), states that the occupation has become 'a potent global recruitment pretext' for al-Qa'ida, which now has more than 18,000 militants ready to strike Western targets.

The IISS report, published yesterday, says that the Iraq invasion 'galvanised' al-Qa'ida while weakening the campaign against terrorism. At the same time it has split the Western alliance, leaving the US and Britain isolated.

The report amounts to a sustained condemnation of US and British tactics, especially during the post-war period. Beginning with the decision of Paul Bremer, the US head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), to dissolve the Iraqi army - leaving a security vacuum - it criticises the occupation tactics of American troops who stayed in large fortified bases and only emerged in heavily armed patrols.

The report adds that later swoops, which led to mass arrests, and aggressive house searches 'perversely inspired insurgent violence'.

Jonathan Stevenson, the editor of the survey, said: 'Invading Iraq damaged the war on terror, there is no doubt about that. It has strengthened rather than weakened al-Qa'ida.'

The report also highlights the shortcomings of US policy after the toppling of Saddam. It says: 'The lawlessness and looting that greeted the liberation of Baghdad on 9 April 2003 was replaced by widespread criminality, violence and instability. A year later, US troops and newly constituted Iraqi forces faced an insurgency that had become a solid obstacle to rebuilding the country and moving it towards democracy and stability.'

Unable to cope with the situation, the US is now acquiescing to the formation of new private militias similar to the one patrolling Fallujah, says the IISS.

The CPA, says the report, has little knowledge of the area it is meant to control. And Iraqi exiles brought back to the country by the Americans to become the new political elite 'are very unpopular ... they have not managed to penetrate Iraqi society, mobilise support or engender allegiance'."

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