If there is any fixed position in John McCain's policy agenda, it's that there must never, ever, be a timetable for leaving Iraq. He regularly attacks Barack Obama for proposing to withdraw by the summer of 2010. So it was a surprise to hear him say two weeks ago when asked if US troops might depart in the next two years, "Oh, I think they could be largely withdrawn, as I've said."
Last week, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said he's amenable to bidding the U.S. goodbye on Obama's schedule. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown indicated his forces also will be leaving soon.
Even Bush has come around to establishing a "time horizon" for "the further reduction of U.S. combat forces from Iraq." In other words: "We're going to leave, but it's none of your business when."
Despite creeping toward withdrawal himself, McCain continues to slam Obama for setting a timetable. But if the current policy is the stunning success depicted by McCain, it should be eminently practical to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis by the middle of 2010. If it is impossible to do that, more than seven years after the occupation began, how can McCain say the existing strategy is working?
McCain sounded frustrated last week, insisting that Obama was "completely wrong" in opposing the Bush administration's escalation of the war in January 2007. "The fact is, if we had done what Sen. Obama wanted to do, we would have lost," he declared. "And we would have faced a wider war. And we would have had greater problems in Afghanistan and the entire region."
What McCain omits is that if he himself had been right all the times before 2007 that he said things were going fine, no surge would have been needed. He's like a weatherman who forecasts clear skies every day and, when the rain finally lets up after a week, expects a standing ovation for his accuracy.
Even the progress made in the last 18 months is only partly attributable to the additional American forces. Equally important was the decision of Sunni militias to turn against Al Qaeda in Iraq. McCain insists this shift was only made possible by the surge—when, in fact, it happened several months before. Also contributing to the decline in sectarian violence was that by 2007, it already had achieved its main goal: driving Sunnis out of Shiite neighborhoods and vice versa. Of the 5 million Iraqis who fled their homes in the last five years, only 30,000 have returned.
The refugee crisis is just one of the results of a war that McCain has supported all along. The surge didn't provide a remedy to that or the many other afflictions that plague Iraq.
Posted by TONY on 24.7.08
World migration body says Iraq’s almost 2.8 million internally displaced still face worsening living conditions.
GENEVA - Millions of internally displaced Iraqis still lack access to basic needs such as shelter, food, water and healthcare, the International
Organisation for Migration said on Friday.
The world body charged with overseeing migration said the rate of displacement had slowed to a trickle and more people were now returning to the war-torn country.
At the same time, however, "Iraq’s approximately 2.8 million internally displaced continue to face deteriorating living conditions with poor access to shelter, food, healthcare, water, and other basic services," it said.
In its review on internally displaced Iraqis and returnees during the first half of the year, the IOM found that about half of the population continue to get their water from unsafe sources - 53 percent from nearby rivers and streams and 52 percent from open or broken pipes.
Meanwhile, more than six in ten (63 percent) returning Iraqis also have to deal with spiralling rent prices.
In the Babylon area south of Baghdad, for instance, rental costs have risen over 50 percent since the beginning of 2006, said the report.
Other internally displaced persons (IDPs) are forced to squat in public buildings where they are threatened with eviction orders.
"Shelter is consistently among the highest-priority needs cited by IDPs, and eviction threats coupled with rapidly rising rental prices have created an even more precarious housing situation in recent months," said the report. Food access was also poor, only three in ten had regular access to food rations. About half had intermittent access and 21 percent no access at all.
Posted by TONY on 20.7.08