Outsourcing the War in Iraq
The Center for Public Integrity just released a new study on the Pentagon’s outsourcing practices, particularly to companies currently doing business in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report, which covers 1998-2003, points out that over half of the contracts were no bid, most of the contracts went to the top 10 weapons manufacturers, and that although Bush has received more campaign money from the weapons industry over the past 6 years, Kerry has received more money from that sector in 2004. The report also looks at what the increase of Pentagon outsourcing means, as well as an investigation of the PMA Group, a lobbying firm that specializes in defense contracting.
One out of four children in Iraq Malnourished
According to a new report by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), 6.5 million people — 25 percent of the entire population — remain highly dependent on food rations and are therefore vulnerable. According to WFP’s Baseline Food Security Assessment, the first of its kind in Iraq, of these 6.5 million people, some 2.6 million are so poor that they have to resell part of their food rations to buy basic necessities such as medicines and clothes. A further 3.6 million Iraqis, 14 percent of the population, would become food insecure if the rationing system was discontinued. The results show that despite the PDS, the prevalence of extreme poverty is high in rural areas, particularly among women and children. The study adds that around 27 percent of all children up to the age of five are chronically malnourished. Without the current PDS, this number would increase dramatically, the survey adds.
More Spin on Iraq
The public relations watchdog group PR Watch reports that an “unusual public-relations effort by the Pentagon and the U.S. Agency for International Development “to improve Americans’ opinions about the Iraq conflict.” USAID’s reports on the number of insurgent attacks are now “restricted to those who need it for security planning.” The Pentagon “is sponsoring a group of Iraqi Americans and former officials from the Coalition Provisional Authority to speak at U.S. military bases.” And “the U.S. government and a representative of President Bush’s reelection campaign” were “heavily involved in drafting the speech given to Congress last week by interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.”
New Report claims that the “Transition” has failed
The Institute for Policy Studies and Foreign Policy in Focus released a new report this week titled A Failed “Transition”: The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War. The report claims to be “the most comprehensive accounting of the mounting costs of the Iraq war on the United States, Iraq, and the world.” Looking at the three months following the supposed transfer of power to the Iraqi Provisional Government, a period President Bush claimed would see a decrease in human and economic costs in Iraq, the report notes that these casts have actually increased considerably. The report presents four key findings:
- U.S. Military Casualties Have Been Highest During the “Transition”
- Non-Iraqi Contractor Deaths Have Also Been Highest During the “Transition”
- Estimated Strength of Iraqi Resistance Skyrockets
- U.S.- led Coalition Shrinks Further After “Transition
Soldier faces possible disloyalty charges for writing essay
According to an article in Salon.com, Army Reserve staff sergeant Al Lorentz is facing possible disciplinary action for disloyalty and insubordination. If charges of disloyalty are bought and Lorentz is found guilty, he could face 20 years in prison. This would mark the first time disloyalty charges have been prosecuted since the Vietnam War. What was the crime that Lorentz is accused of? Writing an essay critical of the Bush administration and the Iraq war. The essay that sparked the military investigation is titled Why We Cannot Win and was posted Sept. 20 on the conservative antiwar Web site LewRockwell.com.
Understanding the Iraqi Factions
Lastly, seasoned reporter Frank Smyth writes an interesting piece in Foreign Policy in Focus. Smyth provides a useful overview of the various factions in Iraq and who the US is supporting. More importantly, he has some words of caution for some of the reporting on the Left, which he feels has over simplified some of the “support” for insurgency movements in Iraq. “Neither the resistance groups cheered on by many on the American left nor the governing parties championed by the American right seem to reflect the views and aspirations of most Iraqi people, who seem to be hoping for the rise of groups independent of both Saddam’s regim and the increasingly dictatorial Allawi government.” For a more detailed look at future prospects in Iraq, see the September issue of the Middle East Report