The latest from Wikileaks

From the Guardian, which received the latest batch of documents:

The new logs detail how:

• US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.

• More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

More here.

This is your country on war

I don’t usually describe things as “must read,” but this article on returning Iraq vets (via Jim Henley) surely qualifies.

Torture, truth, and the war

Jonathan Schell connects the dots and makes some observations about the use of torture as a characteristic of declining powers.

A two-phase Iraq withdrawal

That’s what it looks like anyway, based on Obama’s speech and the analysis I’ve seen. “Combat troops” will withdraw in 2010 with “residual” forces engaged in training and counter-terrorism activities (which, make no mistake, will involve at least some combat). But full withdrawal is supposed to occur by the end of 2011.

Not ideal, by any means, but a step in the right direction. But see Antiwar.com’s Justin Raimondo for an even more pessimistic take.

Remember Iraq?

Patrick Cockburn reports on the situation there in the wake of the recently concluded “status of forces” agreement that’s supposed to have US troops out by 2011.

Conscience of a torturer

I’ve really been enjoying the subscription to Mother Jones my in-laws got me for my birthday. They do exactly what you’d want a monthly magazine to do: run long, in-depth investigative articles that go beyond the surface coverage you tend to get in weeklies or dailies. I used to subcribe to half a dozen or more political magazines, but over the years I’ve whittled it down to two (First Things is the other one).

Anyway, this month’s issue focuses on torture, and I thought this article was particularly powerful. It consists of interviews with several men involved with handling detainees in Iraq.

Did the surge work?

Michael Kinsley says nuh-uh.

The case for Obama

Chris Hayes makes it at the Nation. Not being a progressive in good standing myself, I can’t go along with everything he says, but this, for me, is key:

But while domestic policy will ultimately be determined through a complicated and fraught interplay with legislators, foreign policy is where the President’s agenda is implemented more or less unfettered. It’s here where distinctions in worldview matter most–and where Obama compares most favorably to Clinton. The war is the most obvious and powerful distinction between the two: Hillary Clinton voted for and supported the most disastrous American foreign policy decision since Vietnam, and Barack Obama (at a time when it was deeply courageous to do so) spoke out against it. In this campaign, their proposals are relatively similar, but in rhetoric and posture Clinton has played hawk to Obama’s dove, attacking from the right on everything from the use of first-strike nuclear weapons to negotiating with Iran’s president. Her hawkishness relative to Obama’s is mirrored in her circle of advisers. As my colleague Ari Berman has reported in these pages, it’s a circle dominated by people who believed and believe that waging pre-emptive war on Iraq was the right thing to do. Obama’s circle is made up overwhelmingly of people who thought the Iraq War was a mistake.

The surge a success?

Andrew Bacevich is skeptical.

Where’s the anti-war mojo on the Left?

With all the hype around the Ron Paul candidacy (admittedly still a long shot), I’ve wondered why there hasn’t been a comparable anti-war insurgency on the Left. Why, for instance, hasn’t Dennis Kucinich‘s campaign taken off? Is it that Democratic voters aren’t motivated primarily by the war, or is it that they regard the top tier candidates as “anti-war enough”?

None of the “big three” are calling for anything like immediate withdrawal from Iraq, nor have they repudiated the Bush Doctrine in principle, however much they may have criticized the conduct of the Bush administration. Clinton and Edwards have both made hawkish statements about Iran, and Obama got flak for suggesting we might need to invade Pakistan. All in all, I don’t think you can say that the Dems are set to field anything like a “peace candidate” in the fall. So why has the base been so quiet about this? It’s doubly odd considering that you had a significant anti-war challenge in 2004 (namely, Howard Dean) at a time when the war was considerably more popular than it is now.