Doug Bandow: No Worries


A couple of characteristics seem to set apart the neocons and their allies who so readily, indeed, enthusiastically, make war. One, of course, is to avoid actually serving in combat. Vice President Dick Cheney famously allowed that he had “other priorities” — evidenced by his five deferments. His experience is shockingly common, though admittedly not universal, among the war hawks.
The second is to avoid worrying unduly when reality turns out different than theory. In going through old papers that had piled up during my most recent trip abroad, I came across Al Kamen’s column from the Federal Page in the Washington Post on July 1. He noted the current State Department travel advisory for Iraq.
It is really quite stunning. While the President and Vice President assure us that we are winning and the insurgency is in its last throes:

The Department of State continues to strongly warn U.S. citizens against travel to Iraq, which remains very dangerous. Remnants of the former Baath regime, transnational terrorists, and criminal elements remain active. Attacks against military and civilian targets throughout Iraq continue, including in the International (or “Green”) Zone. Targets include hotels, restaurants, police stations, checkpoints, foreign diplomatic missions, and international organizations and other locations with expatriate personnel. These attacks have resulted in deaths and injuries of American citizens, including those doing humanitarian work. In addition, there have been planned and random killings, as well as extortions and kidnappings. U.S. citizens have been kidnapped and several were subsequently murdered by terrorists in Iraq. U.S. citizens and other foreigners continue to be targeted by insurgent groups for kidnapping and murder. Military operations continue. There are daily attacks against Multinational Forces – Iraq (MNF-I) throughout the country.
There is credible information that terrorists are targeting civil aviation. Civilian and military aircraft arriving in and departing from Baghdad International Airport have been subjected to small arms and missiles. Civilian aircraft do not generally possess systems, such as those found on military aircraft, capable of defeating man-portable, surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS). Anyone choosing to utilize civilian aircraft to enter or depart Iraq should be aware of this potential threat, as well as the extremely high risk to road transportation described below…
All vehicular travel in Iraq is extremely dangerous. There have been numerous attacks on civilian vehicles, as well as military convoys. Attacks occur throughout the day, but travel at night is exceptionally dangerous. Travel in or through Ramadi and Fallujah, travel between al-Hillah and Baghdad, and travel between the International Zone and Baghdad International Airport is particularly dangerous. Occasionally, U.S. Government personnel are prohibited from traveling to select areas depending on prevailing security conditions. There continues to be heavy use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and/or mines on roads, particularly in plastic bags, soda cans, and dead animals. Grenades and explosives have been thrown into vehicles from overpasses, particularly in crowded areas. Overland travel should be undertaken only when absolutely necessary and with the appropriate security.

Despite continuing pacification efforts, it is sadly apparent that the insurgents/terrorists are still “bringing it on,” as encouraged by the President two years ago.
But then, when you’re living in the White House protected by the Secret Service, it’s probably easy to miss what’s happening on the ground in Iraq. You certainly don’t perceive any need to read the State Department’s travel advisory for the country.
Doug Bandow