Nicolas J S Davies

A collection of published articles and letters to policymakers regarding the crisis in United States foreign policy by Nicolas J S Davies.

Location: North Miami, Florida, United States

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Letter to Kofi Annan on Iraq

The Hon. Kofi Annan
United Nations
New York NY

Saturday, August 30th, 2003

Dear Mr. Annan,

I am a U.S citizen, and my wife and I are long-time, regular contributors to UNICEF. We donate to UNICEF because we feel that, as a U.N. institution, it is in a unique position to identify and address the most critical humanitarian needs in different parts of the world and its work is untainted by political or national biases.

I am terribly sorry about the deaths of Sergio Vieira De Mello and the other U.N. personnel who died in the bombing in Baghdad, and I am disturbed that the U.N. is being identified by some sectors of the Iraqi resistance as an agent of the U.S. & British occupation. The position of the U.N. in Iraq is clearly a severe test of the neutrality and impartiality that are essential to its unique role in the world. The suggestion by some in my government that a U.N. military force could be introduced under U.S. command would clearly constitute an unprecedented compromise of these principles.

Since April, many Americans have been urging President Bush to end the military occupation of Iraq, and to allow the U.N. to directly assist the Iraqi people with their political transition. The American people will not support a military occupation of indefinite duration and mounting violence. At some point, we will ask the U.N. to help us to find a way out of this crisis. Whenever that time comes, it must be clear to the Iraqis, especially to those who are now resisting the occupation, that the U.N. is a benevolent and neutral party. This really represents the only hope for peace in Iraq, and it must not be jeopardized by any ill-conceived attempt to accommodate a failing U.S. policy that was pursued against the better judgment of the U.N. and the vast majority of its members.

We have all learned a valuable lesson, that military invasion and occupation are neither moral nor effective policies in the 21st century, and that the U.N. inspection regime had actually succeeded in eliminating Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons. I am sure that the U.N. will be able to provide solutions for many other problems in the future – as long as its unique legitimacy is respected and safeguarded.

Yours sincerely

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Letter to Congress & Veterans Groups on U.S. Casualties

Bring Them Home Now
P.O. Box 91233
Raleigh NC 27675

Thursday, August 14th, 2003

Dear Bring Them Home Now,

I am writing to you on the subject of U.S. casualties in Iraq. I have been writing to people in Washington to oppose the so-called “War on Terror” since it began, and this is a version of a letter I sent to veterans groups and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee last week.

In this letter, I describe what appears to be a historic change in the proportion of wounded soldiers who are surviving their injuries, thanks to effective body-armor, improved battlefield medicine, the “low intensity” of the conflict and other factors. The letter goes on to describe how the Pentagon and the media have used this new development to facilitate substantial under-reporting of casualties. I will include a copy of the article that brought this to my attention, by the Washington correspondent of the British newspaper, the Guardian.

In a recent edition of the United Services University Department of Surgery Academic Review, Professor Hasan B. Alam wrote “On average, approximately 20% of combat casualties die in the field. This number has not changed since the American Civil War.” However, in the current conflict in Iraq, it does appear that this ratio has in fact changed quite dramatically for the better.

The daily reports from Iraq have generally included only “combat deaths” and that total now stands at 169, but the higher figure of total deaths suffered by U.S. forces in Iraq is 266. Figures on the wounded are a lot harder to come by, and a recent official Pentagon figure of 827 is contradicted by other sources. CentCom in Qatar has given a figure of 926, and Lieutenant-Colonel Allen Delaney, who supervises incoming medical airlift operations at Andrews AFB, recently told NPR, “Over 4,000 have stayed here at Andrews, and that number doubles when you count the people that come here to Andrews and then we send them to other places like Walter Reed and Bethesda”. He added that 90% of these injuries were directly war-related. Only half of these casualties date from before the “end of major combat operations” on May 1st, while half are the result of the subsequent guerilla war. These numbers include a small amount of double counting, whenever individual wounded soldiers have passed through Andrews more than once in the course of multiple transfers.

If these figures are anywhere close to the truth, the proportion of casualties dying in the field has been reduced from 20% in previous conflicts to possibly as low as 4% in Iraq. This is a great accomplishment for force protection and military medicine, and good news for all of us, especially those with loved ones currently serving in the armed forces.

The other side of this equation, though, is the new reality that, for every combat death reported by the media, there may be as many as 40 young Americans suffering wounds that are serious enough to warrant being airlifted back to the U.S. The Pentagon has acknowledged 12 to 20 attacks on our troops each day, so these numbers don’t seem unrealistic. The absence of public disclosure and details of this new reality is leaving us all in the dark as to the price that our young people are in fact paying for the policy that we are pursuing in Iraq.

We must insist that the Department of Defense make public more complete and detailed casualty figures from this conflict. While they have a legitimate interest in protecting personal details of injuries to individual service people, we all have an overriding interest in knowing the human cost of the policies we vote for or against through our democratic process, and we need to understand what is happening to our troops in Iraq.

Please ask for answers to the following questions:

How many of our troops have really been wounded in Iraq?
How many have suffered lost limbs or permanently disabling injuries?
How many have required treatment in hospitals outside Iraq?
How many of these injuries have occurred in each phase of the conflict?
How has the pattern of casualties been affected by the advent of effective body armor?
What other changes have occurred in the nature of casualties in this conflict?

Through civilian control of the military, our soldiers place their lives and their futures in our hands, and we owe it to them to take this responsibility very seriously. The administration’s policy of continued military occupation of Iraq is not the only one available to our country at this difficult time. People and governments all over the world would welcome a request from our government for the United Nations to supervise a political transition in Iraq and a withdrawal of U.S. forces. We need to be better informed of the human costs of our current policy.

Yours sincerely

P.S. Lieutenant Colonel Delaney at Andrew AFB would obviously be a good starting point if you want to follow up on this, but he is likely to be under more pressure to keep quiet since he spoke to NPR. On the other hand, he may actually need some kind of support and assistance that your group could give.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Letter to Congress on Iraq and VIPS

The Hon. Kendrick Meek
1039 Longworth H.O.B.
Washington DC 20515

Friday, August 1st 2003

Dear Kendrick,

If you’ve been in Washington or in front of a T.V. set during the past two weeks, you’ve witnessed the Bush administration’s extraordinary efforts to influence public perceptions of the crisis in Iraq, and divert attention from their distortion of intelligence and their responsibility for the crisis. Their goals have been to:

a) Blame all acts of Iraqi resistance on “Baathists”, “dead-enders” or “terrorists”.
b) Refocus attention on the terrors of Saddam Hussein as justification for the war.
c) Exaggerate the “progress” being made by the “coalition”.
d) Assure us that killing or capturing Saddam will end the crisis.

Paul Wolfowitz’s testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was a particularly strange performance. He rambled at length about Iraq under Hussein, and then gave a distorted account of Iraq under U.S. occupation that included the incredible statement that Iraq is now producing 1,400,000 barrels of oil per day, about double the actual figure. I suspect a little research would turn up a few more whoppers in his testimony, but I’ll leave that to you! Under questioning, he eventually admitted that things aren’t going well in Iraq.

Our troops in Iraq are being attacked on a daily basis by a resistance movement that is learning from its mistakes, with suicidal attacks giving way to more effective methods. After the invasion of France, Belgium and Holland in 1940, not a single German soldier was killed in those countries for almost two years. By contrast, Iraq is already well into a spiral of violence that our troops can only exacerbate by their continued presence.

My friends’ son joined the 4th Infantry as a Russian translator in an intelligence unit, but is now driving a Humvee around Baghdad. In Vietnam, infantry patrols were used to draw enemy fighters into the open, where artillery and air forces could destroy them. Thus the ratio of ordinance tonnage to infantry combat hours in Vietnam was twenty-six times that of the Second World War. Our infantry in Iraq are similarly a magnet for enemy attacks, but the urban environment of Iraq precludes the use of artillery and air forces, making this a fairer fight in which Iraqi casualties are not always disproportionate to our own.

The wider consequences of the war for our foreign policy are becoming clearer. We have suffered an abrupt cut-off of cooperation from the Syrian intelligence service, cited by the C.I.A. as our most valuable source of information on Al-Quaida in 2002. The Taliban are regaining power in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Chief of the Pakistani General Staff resigned after giving a speech in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir that called for a military united front of Muslim nations to prevent further defeats like that in Iraq.

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity has made public a letter they sent to the President on July 14th. They make three recommendations designed to restore the integrity of U.S. intelligence operations, and I would ask you to publicly endorse all three of them:

#1 – The immediate resignation of Vice President Cheney

While almost every member of the Bush administration’s national security team has made false statements during this crisis, it is clear that Mr. Cheney was ultimately responsible for the strategic undermining of the intelligence process in a matter of war and peace. Further attempts to hide his role would do inestimable damage to future intelligence operations.

#2 – The urgent establishment of an independent investigation

VIPS has recommended that General Brent Scowcroft be appointed to head a bipartisan commission on the abuse of intelligence on Iraq.

#3 – The return of U.N. inspectors to Iraq

At the end of the day, we need a trusted, international, impartial assessment of the whole question of Iraq’s weapons programs, and our country has no credibility left to even assist in such an effort.

I would add a fourth recommendation, essentially the same one I have been making for the past year, that we ask the United Nations to assume control of a legitimate political transition in Iraq. In conjunction with this process, our troops should be withdrawn as early as is deemed appropriate by a competent U.N.-appointed authority.

Thank you once again for your service to our community and our country.