More of What Your Taxes Are Paying For

Iraq’s Health Ministry has ordered a halt to a count of civilians killed during the war and told its statistics department not to release figures compiled so far, the official who oversaw the count told The Associated Press on .

The order was relayed by the ministry’s director of planning, Dr. Nazar Shabandar, but the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, which oversees the ministry, also wanted the counting to stop, said Dr. Nagham Mohsen, the head of the ministry’s statistics department.

“We have stopped the collection of this information because our minister didn’t agree with it,” she said, adding: “The CPA doesn’t want this to be done.”…

The U.S. and British militaries don’t count civilian casualties from their wars, saying only that they try to minimize civilian deaths.

If you want to reduce the threat of domestic and foreign terrorism, gain international support and make your foreign occupation brief, relatively bloodless, and encouraging of democratic values — why not go to the experts: Israel? You can’t argue with their track record!

The idea U.S. forces in Iraq may be taking lessons in occupation and counterinsurgency from the Israeli Defense Force may have only just begun to make the news in America, but it has been obvious to Iraqis for some time. For residents of the Sunni Triangle, who have spent years watching TV images of the residents of the West Bank and Gaza living under siege, surrounded by checkpoints and suffering periodic air strikes and military sweeps, the Palestinian experience offers a ready template for understanding the turn taken by their own lives over . Whole villages have been surrounded by razor wire, their residents forced to pass through checkpoints; U.S. aircraft and artillery have blasted buildings suspected of being used by insurgents; there have even been instances of family members of suspected insurgents being taken into custody when their wanted relatives can’t be found. As one Iraqi waiting on line at a checkpoint last week told the New York Times, “I see no difference between us and the Palestinians.” That’s a worrying development for U.S. authorities, since in the eyes of much of the Arab world, the humiliation of occupation has served to justify terrorism against the Israelis.

It’s not just the Iraqis of the Sunni Triangle that are seeing some connection between their experience and that of the Palestinians. A series of recent media reports suggests that U.S. forces have specifically sought advice, training and expertise from the Israeli Defense Force on how to deal with the Iraqi insurgency, although such contacts have remained discreet. “PR catastrophe” would be an understatement for the reaction in the Arab world, and in Iraq itself, if an army that likes to think of itself as Iraq’s liberators turns out to be seeking coaching from Israel. The New York Times reported that U.S. officers had gone to Israel to study its experiences of urban warfare and counterinsurgency in the West Bank and Gaza before invading Iraq. The British Guardian quotes unnamed U.S. officials confirming that Israeli officers are helping to train U.S. Special Forces at Fort Bragg for counterinsurgency operations in Iraq, and also claims that Israeli officers have been in Iraq discreetly serving as consultants to U.S. operations there. The New Yorker quotes unnamed U.S. and Israeli officials to the same effect, stressing that the sensitivity of such contacts precludes their public acknowledgment.

The next best thing in public relations would be to send troops on one of their many overseas missions dressed as Imperial Stormtroopers.

Two U.S. attacks in Afghanistan over the last few days have killed six children and a couple of adults and then killed nine more children and maybe one terrorist (best official quote: “It could be a different person but still be a very bad person, so we can’t come to any conclusion yet until the investigation.”)

(Update: here’s another contender for best official quote: “In this incident, if non-combatants surround themselves with thousands of weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition and howitzers and mortars, in a compound known to be used by a terrorist, we are not completely responsible for the consequences.”)