Sunday, October 12, 2003

War News for October 12, 2003 Bring 'em on: Car bomb explodes outside hotel reportedly used as CIA headquarters in central Baghdad. Reuters reports at least ten killed. Bring 'em on: Three US soldiers wounded in bomb ambush near Tikrit. Bring 'em on: Grenade attack kills Iraqi policeman and wounds six others at police checkpoint near Karbala. Bring 'em on: US troops under mortar fire near Tikrit. Bring 'em on: Roadside bomb kills two Iraqi oil workers, wounds four near Kirkuk. Anti-American cleric proclaims alternate Iraqi government. Bomb explodes near Iraqi cleric's convoy in Baghdad; four Iraqis wounded. My sources of information on Who's Who in Iraq say there is no information on this cleric, but he seems to be connected to the IRC's Ministry of Religious Affairs. Anti-US resistance increasing, becoming organized in Kirkuk sector. US troops accused of punishing Iraqis by bulldozing crops and orchards. "US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz blaring from loudspeakers, have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops." Bush's post-war security failure causes aid workers to withdraw from Iraq. "A great majority of foreign aid workers in Iraq, fearing they have become targets of the postwar violence, have quietly pulled out of the country in the past month, leaving essential relief work to their Iraqi colleagues and slowing the reconstruction effort." China proposes UN resolution to reduce US authority in Iraq. Pipeline fire near Kirkuk reported as sabotage. China and Russia to coordinate Iraq policy. "On the Iraq issue, Ivanov stressed that the United Nations should play a key role in resolving the issue and restoring Iraq's sovereignty as soon as possible." News from the Chickenhawk Cheerleaders Tour Bush says Iraq "is making progress" as a result of his "clear strategy." Bush says new dinars (without Saddam's portrait) are a sign of economic progress. Commentary WaPo asked five retired senior officers for their views on Iraq. The authors are not from WaPo's stable of beltway "journalists" so their comments are actually insightful, not exlusively based on insider gossip and worth reading. Four pieces: We Weren't Prepared to Stay, But We Must: "Our Bosnia experience suggests that the United States must allow time for Iraq's rival factions to make the kind of deals that will cement their nation together. That slow process of accommodation will only take place if we create the conditions for compromise." Lower Expectations, Set a Date, and Leave: "Absent a remarkable turnaround on the battlefield -- one that field commanders themselves do not foresee -- the pay-any-price option may be militarily unsustainable as well as politically untenable." A Risky Strain on an Overstretched Army: "We have created a failed state in Iraq. There is currently no effective control of its borders. Radical Arabs from outside Iraq have answered Bush's call to "bring 'em on" and entered the shooting gallery. They do not speak English. They do not have passports or flight training. They were unlikely, before the war, to be able to attack us here. But they can take their AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades and attack our troops next door in Iraq. This may also have opened up a fertile recruiting and training ground for al Qaeda." "Good Enough" Is Enough for a Good Exit: "We can leave Iraq with an interim governing authority, but we cannot leave it unable to defend itself internally and externally. Because we deliberately dissolved the Iraqi military as an institution, we are now trying to build a new Iraqi army (but not yet an air force or navy) by recruiting and training small numbers of individual Iraqis who had been for the most part either enlisted or low-ranking officers. A better and faster solution would be to recall and retrain entire Iraqi military units. The majority of the regular military units had little love for Saddam and suffered badly at his hands." I"m putting these articles here because they should serve as a baseline of thoughtful discussion for possible solutions to extricate ourselves from Bush's Iraqi quagmire. Bush himself wants to frame the discussion around two diametrically-opposed slogans: "cut and run"* or "stay the course." Neither slogan is a workable solution, but this administration prefers short-term sound bites to long-term solutions. Tha alone makes their own approach irrelevant to the problem at hand. *Unless you're L. Paul Bremer, our combat-boots-and-Gucci-suit man in Baghdad. During a memorable press conference at the Baghdad airport hours after a massive car bomb destroyed the UN's Baghdad headquarters and killed Simon de Mello, a terrified, knee-knocking, teeth-chattering L. Paul Bremer stammered "run and cut"? in response to a reporter's question. Shortly afterward, Bremer skedaddled off to calm his nerves on vacation to an undisclosed location.


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