Robert Fisk has an article in the Indie about a Dutch press photographer putting on a photograph exhibition on Iraq based on images that Iraqis have captured with their mobile phones. The reason he is using Iraqi’s amateur collection is that Iraq is still too dangerous for anybody with any sense who has any option to be elsewhere.
The refugee statistics are so appalling that they have become almost mundane. Four million of Iraq’s 23 million people have fled their homes – until recently, at the rate of 60,000 a month – allegedly more than 1.2 million to Syria (a figure now challenged by at least one prominent NGO), 500,000 to Jordan, 200,000 to the Gulf, 70,000 to Egypt, 57,000 to Iran, up to 40,000 to Lebanon, 10,000 to Turkey. Sweden has accepted 9,000, Germany fewer – where an outrageous political debate has suggested that Christian refugees should have preference over Muslim Iraqis. With its usual magnanimity – especially for a country that set off this hell-disaster by its illegal invasion – George Bush’s America has, of course, accepted slightly more than 500.
This collection of pictures is therefore an indictment of us, as well as of the courage of Iraqis. The madness is summed up in an email message sent to Van Kesteren by a Baghdad Iraqi. “This summer,” he wrote, “a workman wanted to quench his thirst by putting ice in his tea. A car pulled up, the driver stepped out and began to beat and kick the man, cursing him as an unbeliever. ‘What do you think you’re doing? Did the Prophet Mohamed put ice in his water?’
The man being attacked was furious and asked his assailant: ‘Do you think the Prophet Mohamed drove a car?'”
John McCain continues to claim he has passed the Commander-n-Chief test for supporting the ‘surge’ in early 2007 but success is relative, eh. With the rate at which millions of Iraqis were being killed and dispersed in 2006-7 that the inferno had to burn itself out whatever the American force deployments, the ethnic cleansing reached its logical conclusion in the middle of ’07. But what about the judgement that gave us this fiasco in the first place and insists on doubling down on it?
McCain decided to wheel out James Wolsey on yesterday’s conference call to attack as delusional Obama’s position that the September 2001 attacks should be considered a law and order issue, the very same James Wolsey that took to print on the 24th September 2001 in The New Republic to tell us that invading Iraq was the best way of dealing with what had happened on the 11th September:
In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s attacks, attention has focused on terrorist chieftain Osama bin Laden. And he may well be responsible. But intelligence and law enforcement officials investigating the case would do well to at least consider another possibility: that the attacks–whether perpetrated by bin Laden and his associates or by others–were sponsored, supported, and perhaps even ordered by Saddam Hussein.
To this end, investigators should revisit the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. A few years ago, the facts in that case seemed straightforward: The mastermind behind the bombing, who went by the alias Ramzi Yousef, was in fact a 27-year-old Pakistani named Abdul Basit. But late last year, AEI Press published Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein’s Unfinished War Against America, a careful book about the bombing by AEI scholar Laurie Mylroie. The book’s startling thesis is that the original theory of the attack, advanced by James Fox (the FBI’s chief investigator into the 1993 bombing until his replacement in 1994) was correct: that Yousef was not Abdul Basit but rather an Iraqi agent who had assumed the latter’s identity when police files in Kuwait (where the real Abdul Basit lived in 1990) were doctored by Iraqi intelligence during the occupation of Kuwait. If Mylroie and Fox (who died in 1997) are right, then it was Iraq that went after the World Trade Center last time. Which makes it much more plausible that Iraq has done so again.
Meanwhile Paul Krugman has noted that we are in Ground Hog day with McCain’s non sequiturs on tax policy being dutifully echoed by the press. Others are observing that McCain manifestly doesn’t understand his climate policy. And Andrew Sullivan explains that McCain shows no evidence of having mastered foreign policy while Marc Ambinder, presumably part of the McCain base, seems incapable of absorb what he is hearing.
I am not naive enough to imagine that any of this will actually determine the outcome of the election campaign. As even William Kristol acknowledges McCain-08 seems to be a shambles, so we might, if we are lucky, avoid a rerun of 2000 and 2004. I hope so. But it can’t be at all healthy to have one of the candidates running entirely on smoke and mirrors (and I would really prefer it wasn’t so).