Sunday, May 23, 2004

War News for May 23, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Iraqi police captain killed in ambush near Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Five Iraqis killed by mortar fire near Basra. Bring ‘em on: Dean of Diyala University escapes assassination attempt near Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Fourteen Iraqis killed in continued fighting near Najaf. Bring ‘em on: Sixteen Iraqis killed in heavy fighting near Kufa. Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi policeman killed, two wounded by bomb ambush near Basra. US Army MPs raid Iraqi police station near Fallujah. Iran sends formal warning to US over actions in Iraq. Rummy bans camera phones from US Army installations in Iraq. “Quoting a Pentagon source, the paper said the US Defence Department believes that some of the damning photos of US soldiers abusing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad were taken with camera phones.” Spin control. “President Bush will launch an ambitious campaign Monday night to shift attention from recent setbacks that have eroded domestic and international support for U.S. policy in Iraq, particularly the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the escalating violence, and focus instead on the future of post-occupation Iraq. The president will open a tightly orchestrated public relations effort in a speech at the Army War College outlining U.S. plans for the next critical five weeks before the June 30 transfer of political power. The White House then intends this week to circulate a draft United Nations resolution on post-occupation Iraq, wrap up negotiations with Iraqis on an interim government and begin shoring up the coalition to ensure that other foreign forces also stay after June 30, U.S. officials said.” Sen. Hagel sounds off. “Hagel, who also sits on the Intelligence Committee, says that Bush ‘may be more isolated than any president in recent memory’ and therefore susceptible to faulty advice. Much of that advice, Hagel says, has come from Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and former Pentagon official Richard Perle. But the problem, in Hagel's view, was compounded by the president's lack of foreign-policy experience. ‘I think you've got a president who is not schooled, educated, experienced in foreign policy in any way, versus his father,’ Hagel says. ‘I think he was philosophically, intellectually more in tune with the neoconservatives'approach to 'let's go get them, and we'll worry about it later.’” Sen. Lugar sounds off. “’Unless the United States commits itself to a sustained program of repairing and building alliances, expanding trade, pursuing resolutions to regional conflicts, supporting democracy and development worldwide, and controlling weapons of mass destruction, we are likely to experience acts of catastrophic terrorism that would undermine our economy, damage our society, and kill hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people,’ Lugar will say in the commencement speech. Lugar, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Commission, has critiqued the Bush administration for lack of planning for the Iraq war and aftermath. But the commencement speech is his sharpest criticism to date. ‘It's a powerful indictment of the approach the United States has taken in the last 3 1/2 years,’ said Jay Farrar, vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. ‘It shows the administration has fumbled the ball.’ Farrar said Lugar's speech ‘says what a lot of people have been thinking over the last couple of years: The approach we've taken is not only the wrong approach, it's morally bankrupt and has set the United States back so much further than we were at the beginning of this administration.’” General Zinni sounds off. Long but very insightful transcript of a presentation given to the Center for Defense Information by General Zinni. Lieutenant AWOL’s “tax relief” for troops. “An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 military members fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan last year received combat-zone tax exclusions that had a surprising effect: lowered family incomes. Some families saw a net loss in tax benefits of more than $4,000 because wartime tax exclusions disqualified them for more valuable tax breaks, including the Earned Income Tax Credit...A Defense Department proposal to address the problem this spring failed to clear the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. Treasury officials said it would lower tax revenues and therefore opposed it.” The Brat Pack. “When Ledeen's group showed up at the palace -- with their North Face camping gear, Abercrombie & Fitch camouflage and digital cameras -- they were quite the spectacle. For some, they represented everything that was right with the CPA: They were young, energetic and idealistic. For others, they represented everything that was wrong with the CPA: They were young, inexperienced, and regarded as ideologues. Several had impressive paper credentials, but in the wrong fields. Greco was fluent in English, Italian and Spanish; Burns had been a policy analyst focused on family and health care; and Ledeen had co-founded a cooking school. But none had ever worked in the Middle East, none spoke Arabic, and few could tell a balance sheet from an accounts receivable statement. Other staffers quickly nicknamed the newcomers ‘The Brat Pack.’ ‘They had come over because of one reason or another, and they were put in positions of authority that they had no clue about,’ remembered Army Reserve Sgt. Thomas D. Wirges, 38, who had been working on rehabilitating the Baghdad Stock Exchange. Some also grumbled about the new staffers' political ties. Retired U.S. Army Col. Charles Krohn said many in the CPA regard the occupation ‘as a political event,’ always looking for a way to make the president look good.” It’s interesting to note that these young ideologues were all recruited from the Heritage Foundation. No wonder the CPA has made such a mess out of reconstruction in Iraq. Commentary Analysis: “We have not made a ‘a crucial advance in the campaign against terror,’ the words President Bush used when he declared victory in "Operation Iraqi Freedom" on May 1, 2003. Instead we have stimulated new hatred of the United States in precisely the regions from which future terrorist threats are most likely to arise, while alienating our traditional allies. By embracing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza, we abandoned the "honest broker" role that U.S. governments tried to play for four decades in the Middle East, and we confirmed the conspiratorial suspicions of every anti-American Arab. Our credibility has been battered.” Analysis: “The occupation of Iraq has affirmed the worst fears of the Islamic world, reinforcing distaste for America and what it represents, and spawning wild conspiracy theories about the motives of the West. Many Muslims now see the American intervention as a devastating betrayal, starkly reflected by the Red Cross's recent conclusion that 70 to 90 percent of all Iraqis who were ‘deprived of their liberty’ -- by the world champion of democracy – ‘were arrested by mistake.’ Others in the region react with fury to the symbolism of a naked Arab male on a concrete floor tethered to a female American soldier looking down with disinterested arrogance on her prisoner at Abu Ghraib.” Analysis: “We are not yet at a point where we might have to withdraw the Army from Iraq in order to save it, but we are getting close. Just as Vietnam destroyed the draftee Army, Iraq could undermine the all-volunteer Army. No wonder the Army War College says the Army is near its breaking point and retired Army Lt. Gen. William E. Odom argues that, for the sake of our security, we should remove our forces from Iraq as quickly as possible. To remedy the situation, the administration needs to add two active-duty divisions as soon as possible. Delay will place the Army and the country in danger.” Casualty Reports Local story: Massachusetts Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Florida soldier wounded in Iraq. 86-43-04. Pass it on.


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