Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Post Surge

A few days ago, I was listening to the radio when I heard something that made me think twice. Iraqis who fled their homes over the past 4 years are slowly but surely returning.

What has happened to Iraq over the past 6 months? When I last blogged about it, it felt like the end of days, a hell on earth, a state teetering on the edge of the chasm of outright war and genocide.

Since then, we've had September's Petraeus report, which suggested a slight improvement, speed bumps rather than U-turns on the road Iraq was heading down. An agreement with former tribal insurgents to work together in eliminating Al-Qaeda seemed too dubious to put faith in, and political progress was nil.

In fact, the Blackwater killings that month and the death of Turkish soldiers at the hands of Kurdish rebels seemed to be the beginning of the final act.

What has changed?

Could it be that the surge is actually working? If so, then that was a good call - albeit quite late in the game. The US troop presence in Iraq seems to have taken a new meaning, gaining a sense of purpose and determination that wasn't there at the start. I have to admit that I thought it would have be analagous to closing the stable door after the horse left, but it just goes to show that you should listen to veterans like John McCain, or for that matter, The Economist.

The most probable reason for the change in fortunes is the cooperation between former Sunni insurgents and the army. Foreign militias are being rooted out of previously no-go areas, which are being secured by the local tribesman.

These together seem to be working so well that Iraqis are returning en masse. In fact, too many are returning, as in this article:

However, despite these new successes, you can't help but stay wary. As almost everyone has noted, 2007 is still the year with the highest number of troop casualties to date. And suicide bombings and fighting still occurs regularly across Iraq.

Things look good so far, but we can only hope that they continue this way till this whole mess is sorted.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Great video....good to be back.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Too Long...

18 days? Too long to go without blogging...

Friday, June 08, 2007

Winning the war

Iraq weighs heavily on people's minds these days. The violence, the effectiveness of the troop surge, the earliest date for withdrawal. Since the invasion in 2003, no weapons of mass destruction have been found, sectarian divisions have grown and bombings and fighting has become more frequent. Why did we even go in?

We need to remember that it started with 9/11. Because a few dozen men managed to create such terror over the world's wealthiest and most powerful nation, the elimination of the terrorists appeared key. Afghanistan was invaded, and the oppressive regime sent into hiding. Months later, the case against Saddam Hussein was made by Secretaries Powell and Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney and President Bush, resulting in American troops entering and toppling the dictatorship. It has later emerged that this case was about as flimsy as a sheet of paper, its inferences non-existant.

We now have a situation where two wars which have nothing to do with each other are being fought in the same region, breeding discontent and hatred.

Reading personal accounts of life in Iraq before and after the fall of Saddam, I cannot help but feel sorry. Although their lives weren't brimming with freedom and democracy, they lived securely in their homes, were able to walk the streets safely at night and do at least some of the things we would consider to be normal. Now, Iraq resembles not a bad dream, but some vicious psychotic episode.

Once peaceful neighbours are defined as 'them', while buying goods at a market in Baghdad is tantamount to suicide. With the coming of dawn is the discovery of bodies in the streets, pieces of flesh beaten and slashed like unwanted carcasses.

Watching a scene from a CNN programme on reporting the war, it was this that hit me the hardest. The daily lot of corpses collected from the area lies strewn on a courtyard, while families come along looking for missing relatives. A woman in a burkha passes by one row. She starts suddenly and lets out a terrifying, shrieking wail. Her husband's body has caught her attention.

These people are as innocent as you or I. Watching footage like that makes me wonder if there is any justice in the world.

Of course those responsible are the monstrous insurgents, an enormous cancer slowly destroying everything that is Iraq.

But there is no doubt that also to blame for this suffering are those who started this war. That there are still some members of this demonic clique still in power today is shameful.

This is not an attack on America - indeed, the same sense of sorrow that fills me when I hear of Iraqi suffering also rises when I hear of nineteen year old soldiers dying for their country. This is a call for those responsible for the situation to be stamped out of authority and be disgraced publicly.

That, at least, is owed to the newly widowed, and to the memories of those brave men.

Obituary: Liberty

It's come to this.
How much more? How much more before the sheer idiocy of this conflict is resolved? How many more have to die before someone realises that no one can win this? How many more painful days must grind their way past us before we can be at peace in our island paradise?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Lies, damn lies and statistics...

A little bit of descriptive statistics can reveal all...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Life's best lesson

Life can be utter sh*t at times, with nothing happening, nothing going right, and nothing to reach for.
The easiest and certainly the worst way of dealing with this is to go down with the ship, falling into the deepest and darkest corridors of your mind.

Those of you who read this junk -sorry, blog - are probably familiar with my musings on that king of games (and game of kings), cricket. Cricket is a lovely sport, if only that you can draw so many analogies from it. K, here's my story:

It was a 40-over away game on an unmatted wicket - low bounce, making batting extremely tough. Our side is in, and a slow start begins to take a devastating turn: wickets tumbled left and right, till we end up 80-8 by 25 overs~slim pickins for any side. Miraculously, our 9th wicket stand lasts for the rest of the innings, and our total is 136. Respectable, yet not completely defendable.
A paltry lunch brings us to the field, with the aim of scuttling down the other side as quickly as we could. They too started slowly, but a massive 6 from the massive left-hand opener lands the ball in a canal, irretrievable. Thereafter, the batsmen opened up their shoulders - their total becomes 104-1 in around 24 overs. 33 runs to win, 8 wickets in hand (they were one batsmen short), and 15 overs left. We were surely doomed to a harsh rebuke in the dressing room.
But then, as that same opener told us he was going to go ballistic, he got out. Then another wicket fell. Then another. The next half-a-dozen overs saw maidens and wicket-maidens. On 131-8, with 6 runs and 1 wicket left, our captain took a brilliant catch to complete a remarkable turnaround.

The moral, ladies and gentlemen, was best put by Yogi Berra: it ain't over till it's over. However improbable the task you have at hand, as long as it can happen, there's no saying that it won't.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Last Stand?

You can accuse me of many things, but calling me honest, moral, hard working and clever would be slander.
There are times in a man's life (or anybody's really) where he is called to do his best, to face his fears, and take his place in the world. Like everyone else, I've faced moments like these often in my life. It is moments like these that you train yourself for, the last wicket stand against the great fast bowler, the delivery that has to be made when you are one run away from losing, and one wicket away from victory.
Many have been called upon on occasions like these, and many have faced the moment down with a glare of steel.
I am afraid to say I don't measure up to those men.
I laugh at such events when they are located somewhere over the far away horizon of the future; I tell myself that I could do it with my eyes close; I try to believe that I savour such moments.
Sadly, I choke at the end. I don't even try to achieve it, I just want to be as far away from that moment as I can. Those occasions strike at my heart, my conscience and more than anything else, my fears; rousing the most dormant and extinct feeling of anxiety that rests in my mind.
Why am I saying this? Being the gutless coward that I am, I want to be able to tell myself 'I told you so' at the end of all this. Goodbye, and good luck. I'm sure you won't need it.