Category Archives: Iraq

Review of “Full Battle Rattle”

Full Battle Rattle would be better named The Battle of Medina Wasl. Medina Wasil is not a real town, but rather a simulation at Fort Irwin, “The World’s Premier Trainign Center for the World’s Finest Military.” Bush visited the National Training Center during the production of the film, but after the main filming, allowing clips of this event to be included:

The film concerns a two-week training simulation. The four ‘sides’ are townsfolk, a Blue Force, a Red Force, and controllers able to inject events. Some injected events (such as a Sunni-Shia wedding) go quietly, while another escalates to a massive Red Force assault. As the townsfolk repeat their roles, they develop close relationships, and this adds to the realism of the situation. Moments of levity, such as the Deputy Mayor and Deputy Chief of Police angling for a promotion are balanced with truly spooky scenes, such as a scene where Red Force “Anti-Iraqi Forces” (AIF) boredly play soccer in front of American troops. “It’s just fun to kill people and blow stuff up, you know,” an AIF terrorist says to the camera, simultaneously identifying the fun of playing the world’s most expensive game of laser skirmish and a motivation behind the true terrorists in Iraq.

The filmmaker’s clearly know their subject, and much is referenced through either brief camera shots or short comments. The resolution of a real drama — very real deportation hearings against the fake Deputy Chief of Police — is referenced by a single line. Likewise, a lingering shot shows a Blue Force officer reading Roger Trinquier’s Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency. The scale of the operation allows the Fog of War to control events, as seen after the situation escalates because of the inability of the Deputy Mayor to contact the commander of Blue Force.

Full Battle Rattle effectively captures two layers of events, the outcome of the fake Battle of Medina Wasil. Both of these levels are real, in a way. Google searches also reveal that soldier art (such as condemned by Matt Armstrong) on the National Training Center.

Similarly, a closing scene of the film shows the actors watching a laptop film of a (fake) beheading in Medina Wasl, immediately after viewing photos of (real) visits by the President to the town.

full_battle_rattle_bush

full_battle_rattle_beheading

Full Battle Rattle is the best film produced so far of the War in Iraq, and it’s set in the American West.

Strongly recommended.

Sunni Desert Oasis (and sidewalk storefront) Salesmen

Catholicgauze has an excellent and informative post on the merchants of Iraq. From comment greetings like “Hello my friend!” “Yes, yes, yes,” and, “Please come in,” Catholicgauze continues to describe merchants from the common Iraqi, traveling merchants, high-tech DVD hackers of the computer era, and high-margin Turks.

Read the whole thing, and also check out a related photo series from Getty Images.

IRAQ-SOCIETY

Former Head Of Iraqi Anti-Corruption Agency Now An Undocumented Immigrant

Disturbing news, shared on Google Reader by Nkyrindc:

Think Progress » U.S.-Backed Head Of Iraqi Anti-Corruption Agency Now A ‘Destitute’ Undocumented Immigrant In U.S.
After the 2003 Iraq invasion, Coalition Provisional Authority chief Paul Bremer created a major anti-corruption ministry in Iraq, the Public Integrity Commission (CPI). Last October, former CPI commissioner Judge Radhi al-Radhi, who was appointed by Bremer and whose work has been praised by top U.S. officials, told Congress about the “rampant” corruption in Iraqi ministries that had cost Iraq as much as $18 billion.

..

But today, Radhi is living as a undocumented immigrant in Virginia. In a Democratic Policy Committee hearing yesterday, former State Department official James Mattil told Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) that Radhi has no “official status” in the U.S. Currently, only a group of Quakers and Arthur Brennan, the former head of the department’s Office of Accountability and Transparency, are funding Radhi, he said:

The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State may two the two worst-run agencies in the federal government. When they work together, things get truly bad.

A “House of Lords” for Iraq?

Major props to Soob for hosting a fascinating conversation on constitution reform in Iraq. Soob begins by noting the limitations of the Surge, excerpts the following piece from a RAND analysis:

Soob: Going Tribal II: The House of Tribes
Our proposal envisions revamping the Iraqi constitution to create a federal branch with two houses: a lower house comprised of all political parties and dealing with daily political, social and economic issues; and a higher House of Tribes, based on tribal affiliations, not provinces. This would introduce a check and balance system that would benefit all Iraqis and set the stage for pure Iraqi reunification. The governance scope of this higher body would be the same as the lower.

And then allows an amazing discussion to follow in the comments.

Good show!

The Ethno-Sectarian Violence Maps of the Petraeus Report

Courtesy of Zen Pundit and the Small Wars Council, I was able to read the testimony and examine the presentation of the report that General Petraeus, of the Multinational Force – Iraq, gave to the Congress. The fifth slide is titled “Ethno-Sectarian” violence, and contains maps of Sunni v. Shia attacks on December 2006, February 2007, May 2007, and August 2007.


The Battle of Baghdad

What’s strange about it is that the neighborhood map does not change. The detailed color-coded representation of Baghdad, with Green for majority Shia, blue for majority Sunni, and orange for mixed appears to be the same now as it was twenty months ago.


Detailed view

Everywhere, of course, one reads about the etnic cleansing of Baghdad. So what gives? I’m assuming that those who prepared the slides for Petraeus used the last available census information for generating the ethnic neighborhood maps, but alternatively (and less likely, in my opinion) the discussion of ongoing ethnic cleansing could be overblown.


A virtual Baghdad?

Finally, presuming the violence in Baghdad is leading to ethnically cleansed neighborhoods, it would be interesting to compare a real time-sequenced map of Baghdad with theoretical work on homogenization and inter-group tournaments that’s now appearing in the academic literature.

The United States as a 5GW Power in Iraq

A military force that fights the a war in modern warfare’s fifth generation — that is, a 5GW Army, focuses on altering the rules of the game so that the fighting of lower-generational forces proceed in a way favorable to the 5G force.

In his testimony (of which I have a pdf copy thanks to the Small Wars Council and ZenPundit), General David Petraeus describes his view of America’s role in Iraq as 5GW in everything but name:

The fundamental source of the conflict in Iraq is competition among ethnic and sectarian communities for power and resources. This competition will take place, and its resolution is key to producing long-term stability in the new Iraq. The question is whether the competition takes place more – or less – violently

The United States, and thus the Multinational Force – Iraq more generally, are fighting the state-without kind of 5GW.

Pre-Modern Wars, and theocratic Peaces

Dehghanpishesh, B. & Kaplow, L. (2007). Baghdad’s new owners: Shiites now dominate the once mixed capital, and there is little chance of reversing the process. Newsweek. September 10, 2007. Available online: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20546328/site/newsweek/page/0/ (from Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog).

Faluda, S. (2007). America’s guardian myths. The New York Times. September 7, 2007. Available online: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/07/opinion/07faludi.html?ref=todayspaper.

Two good articles on pre-modern wars, which may be called “0GW.” In the New York Times a reminder of genocide-scale violence against English settlers:

The assault on Lancaster came several months into King Philip’s War (or Metacom’s Rebellion, for those who prefer the actual name of the Wampanoag chief). That fearsome and formative confrontation between white settlers and the New England tribes remains, per capita, America’s deadliest war. In one year, one of every 10 white men of military age in Massachusetts Bay was killed, and one of every 16 in the Northeastern colonies. Two-thirds of New England towns were attacked and more than half the settlements were left in ruins. Settlers were forced to retreat nearly to the coast, and the Colonial economy was devastated.

And, in Newsweek, the violent ethnic cleansing of Baghdad:

Thousands of other Sunnis like Kamal have been cleared out of the western half of Baghdad, which they once dominated, in recent months. The surge of U.S. troops—meant in part to halt the sectarian cleansing of the Iraqi capital—has hardly stemmed the problem. The number of Iraqi civilians killed in July was slightly higher than in February, when the surge began. According to the Iraqi Red Crescent, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has more than doubled to 1.1 million since the beginning of the year, nearly 200,000 of those in Baghdad governorate alone. Rafiq Tschannen, chief of the Iraq mission for the International Organization for Migration, says that the fighting that accompanied the influx of U.S. troops actually “has increased the IDPs to some extent.”

Both the Massachusettes Bay Colony of Prince William’s War and the contemporary Baghdad Governorate are fake states, lines on that could only be enforced by violence. Like Massachusettes Bay before her, Baghdad has one choice if she wishes to become a real political region: become a cultural region, as well.

In colonial New England, the “trigger pullers” of the colonial militia was backed up by a restrictive but pro-market ruleset, the religious puritanism of the area’s new inhabitans. In the same way, contemporary Baghdad is only born by the violence of the Shia militias: a restrictive but pro-market ruleset, probably Sharia, is needed to raise her up.