Aug 30 2010
“In practical terms, nothing will change”. That was the response of US military spokesman General Stephen Lanza to the New York Times commenting on the withdrawal of thousands of U.S. combat troops in Iraq. President Obama has touted the withdrawal as fulfilling his long-time promise to end the war in Iraq. However, 50,000 US troops remain on 94 military bases in the country. Official word from the military is that the remaining troops are vested with the power to advise and train the nascent Iraqi army, provide security, and carry-out counter-terrorism operations. Echoing the words of General Lanza, a journalist for The Guardian called the so-called withdrawal nothing more than a “re-branding of the occupation”. Heavy criticism is also being aimed at plans to increase the use of military contractors, even though this outsourced workforce has been highly controversial and expensive. The Iraqi government is considered by many to be practically non-functional, and results from the March elections are still under dispute. July was the deadliest month in two years, with 535 civilians killed, more than in Afghanistan. August has seen seen near constant bombings, with a series of attacks throughout the country last Wednesday that killed at least 45 people in total and wounded many more. Iraqi military forces and police recruits have been specifically targeted in many of the bombings. Tomorrow President Obama will address the nation in a speech that is anticipated to outline the administrations strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
GUEST: Hadani Ditmars, a journalist and writer who traveled to Iraq many times between 1997 and 2003, and then recently returned in March of this year. She is also the author of the bestselling 2006 book, “Dancing in the No-fly Zone: A Woman’s Journey Through Iraq. She is also currently a co-editor at the New Internationalist magazine.
Find out more about Ditmars at www.hadaniditmars.com
Read about Hadani Ditmars’ return to Iraq and see photographs she took at http://www.newint.org/issues/2010/05/01/
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