Sunday, March 14, 2004

War News for March 14, 2004 Bring 'em on: One US soldier killed by roadside bomb in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Three US soldiers killed, one wounded by roadside bomb in Baghdad. Unpleasant truths: an over-stretched military, a busted budget and rising anti-US sentiment. Happy birthday, Bush's War. Coming home. "All are coping with the psychological effects of the war, which forced them to question their own mortality and sometimes to kill. Many saw Iraqis dead along roadways and comrades fatally wounded in attacks. From Fort Campbell, 60 soldiers have died in the Iraq war and aftermath more than from any other military installation and hundreds were injured." Follow-up story on a wounded Indiana soldier. More wishful thinking. "In less than four months, a sovereign Iraqi government will have authority to impose restrictions on U.S. troops, or even request that they leave. U.S. military officials here, who are planning for American forces to be in Iraq through 2005, say they are sure the latter option won't be exercised. 'We intend to stay here as invited guests as long as we are needed, as long as we are wanted, and as long as we are invited,' Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations chief, said last week." Regular readers will remember that discussions between the CPA and the hand-picked IGC on the status of US forces in Iraq collapsed when no IGC members wanted to be associated with authorizing a continued occupation presence. What makes the CPA so sure a future government, which promises to be even less compliant than the IGC, will consent to American troops remaining on Iraqi soil? Shock and Awe, Part Deux. "The White House will mark this Friday's first anniversary of the invasion of Iraq with a week-long media blitz arguing that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was essential to combating global terrorism and making the United States safer." Military families sound off about Bush's War. "Today, the Pennington, N.J., woman will be at the U.S. air base in Dover, Del., where her son came home a war statistic. She'll be joined in protest with other military families who have lost loved ones in a war that has so far killed 555 Americans and wounded nearly 3,200. Tomorrow, many others will gather here in front of the Walter Reed Army Hospital, where the war's most seriously wounded recuperate, then will march to the White House. They are coming from California, New Jersey, Alabama, Illinois, Ohio, Arkansas and places in between, all paying their own way because they feel they must raise their voices to save others the anguish they feel." Commentary Editorial: "… Bush exclaims, 'Support our troops.' Then, he cuts benefits to military families and veterans. He allows our troops in Iraq to be provided with supplies that are inferior or run short, forcing our men and women to buy their own. Wounded soldiers are treated like dogs as they languish in miserable accommodations for days or weeks in bases before they receive adequate care for their wounds. Purple hearts are denied and dead soldiers come home in the dark of night to cover up their ballooning numbers." Editorial: "This unilateral war of choice was not only unjustified on national-security grounds --- that is more obvious than ever -- but was planned and conducted with staggering ineptitude. Thousands of American men and women have died or been injured as a result. Mr. Bush still -- sloppily, or cunningly -- refers to the Iraq war as a facet of the U.S. war on terrorism, but it is his leadership about which Americans ought to be most fearful." Analysis: "Apart from armed resistance, the US officials in charge of Iraq must also face the likelihood that Iraq’s new leaders will not be typical democrats in any sense. Indeed, al-Sistani, who has broadened his own national authority by channelling anti-American sentiment, already controls an authoritarian-minded clerical network. Like the Shiite clerics that helped garner support for the fight against the British, al-Sistani has been beating the same drum, demanding that the new Iraq be run for and by Iraqis. As a result, despite his unexplained intentions, he is the most popular man in Iraq today." This is one of the best analysis pieces I've posted in a long time. Opinion: "Reinhold Niebuhr, arguably America's greatest theologian, often observed that it is not the bad people we have to worry about but the good people. By 'good people' Niebuhr meant those who are so convinced of their own righteousness as to be blind to their capacity for evil. These are the ones who really ought to concern us. One year after the war in Iraq began, Niebuhr's warning is on target. Consider what the year has revealed. We have learned that this war was on the administration's agenda when it took office, months before 9/11. The Bush administration wanted this war and was in no mood to build the international coalition or consensus that might have given it legitimacy and heightened the chances of post-war success. This crowd was too sure it was right to do it right." Analysis: The Bush administration has taken a huge gamble in Iraq. The Iraqis may just muddle through in returning to a parliamentary system. But the rest of the Arabs, who resent centuries of Western dominance, will probably resist Iraqi democracy as a model, since it will have a ``Made in America'' tag on it. Given its unwieldy constitution and its outstanding ethnic disputes, Iraq could instead fall victim to gridlock or become another Northern Ireland. If it does, the administration may well have discredited democracy in the region." Another good read, by Juan Cole. Memorial Faces of the fallen. "The war, which began a year ago amid non-stop media coverage, has faded from the limelight, although it is still deadly. Gone are the televised missile attacks on Baghdad and rumbling tanks passing through palm groves. Instead, the fighting breaks out along empty roads or at guard posts. Bombings and sniper attacks replaced set-piece battles with swooping aircraft and artillery barrages. Military accidents such as vehicle crashes or helicopter collisions cause many casualties. Despite the far-away feel, the fallen are real people. They have names and faces. Each man and woman deserves recognition for taking on a risky challenge in the service of this country's armed forces. Compared to past national conflicts, the number of deaths is small. But the sacrifice and loss on a personal level is just as painful…Before the war is wrapped up and American troops depart, there will be more fatalities. Only then can the full human cost of the war be measured. But as the first anniversary of the war approaches, it is time to stop and think about those who have given their lives, and why." The article contains a link to a section containing the portraits of US soldiers killed in Iraq and brief biographies of each. Casualty Reports Local story: California soldier killed in Iraq. 86-43-04. Pass it on.


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