Contours of chaos.
At the Al-Yarubia primary school for boys in Ramadi, the violent capital of Iraq’s vast western Al-Anbar province, teachers must give a strange lesson, helping children to learn to hide.
“Kids, if there is fighting, what should a pupil do,” the Sunni teacher asks the class sitting politely behind their desks.
All know the answer by heart, but it is the adult who answers: “Get away from the windows, stay in the classroom” and “hide under the desks,” which the children promptly do.
As if it were play, they disappear. In the suddenly empty room, not a head peeks out. Article
There’s that pesky reality again. (emphasis added)
Kiki Munshi was showcased by the media in September as a seasoned U.S. diplomat who came out of retirement to lead a rebuilding group in Iraq.
Now she is back home, angry, and convinced that President George W. Bush’s new strategy of doubling the number of such groups to 20 along with a troop surge of 21,500 will not help stabilize Iraq.
A diplomat for 22 years, she quit her job last month as leader of a Provincial Reconstruction Team — groups made up of about 50 civilian and military experts that try to help Iraqi communities build their own government while strengthening moderates.
“In spite of the magnificent and often heroic work being done out there by a lot of truly wonderful people, the PRTs themselves aren’t succeeding. The obstacles are too great,” Munshi said this week in Washington, where she was pressing her view at the State Department and to Congress.
“Once again we are proceeding to lay people’s lives on a line drawn with faulty information. Once again the fantasies of the ‘policy-makers’ drive decisions without much link to the realities on the ground,” said Munshi, who retired from the foreign service in 2002.
Her postings included Romania, India and Sierra Leone before Iraq, where Munshi said he had felt a “moral obligation to sort out the mess we have made there.” Article
Keeping up with the courts-martial:
A young Marine involved in the April killing of a 52-year-old Iraqi man was sentenced to eight years in prison on Saturday, the fifth of eight troops to plead guilty and be sentenced in the incident.
Lance Cpl. Robert Pennington, 22, pled guilty to conspiracy and kidnapping. In exchange, prosecutors dropped murder, larceny and housebreaking charges.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Pennington will testify against the remaining three Marines, two of whom plan to fight murder and conspiracy charges. Article