Monday, May 24, 2004

War News for May 24, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Car bomb kills four outside Green Zone in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Fighting continues in Najaf. Bring ‘em on: One US soldier and one US Marine killed by roadside bomb ambush near Fallujah. Bring ‘em on: Four US soldiers wounded in mortar attack near Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi civilians killed by roadside bomb ambush near Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Withdrawing Spanish troops attacked, one soldier wounded. Bring ‘em on: Five US soldiers wounded by explosive devices and small arms fire near Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Two British security contractors killed in Baghdad RPG attack. Civilian deaths in Iraq. “An Associated Press survey of the deaths in the first 12 months of the occupation found that more than 5,000 Iraqis died violently in Baghdad and in three provinces. The toll from both criminal and political violence ran dramatically higher than the number of violent deaths before the war, according to the statistics from morgues.” Guardsmen protecting contractors. “Members of a National Guard unit assigned to protect civilian contractors in Iraq says the task puts them at greater risk than when they were hauling military supplies for the Army. Sgt. Donald Curttright of the 1221st Transportation Company said the 150-member unit doesn't have enough manpower to provide security for defense contractor KBR, formerly known as Kellogg, Brown & Root. ‘There might be 30 trucks, and we'll have six or seven of us riding shotgun armed with M-16 (rifles),’ he said during a trip home to Excelsior Springs. ‘If we're attacked, we're expected to protect the whole thing. I don't know how we're supposed to do it.’” Would Rummy please explain again why outsourcing logistics functions in a combat zone is such a great idea? Unhappy chickenhawks. “Influential conservatives in Washington - who saw ‘liberation’ of Iraq as a bridgehead for spreading democracy through the Middle East - meanwhile believe reluctance to take on Sunni insurgents and deal with Iraq's many militia armies is a betrayal of that mission, and will only store up trouble for the future.” Iraqi security forces still untrained, unequipped, and unready. “On Capitol Hill last week, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that despite an intense Pentagon effort to cut through contracting snarls, most Iraqi police officers would not be fully equipped with radios, weapons and vehicles until December. He said the equipping problems had been solved. But in a veiled criticism, he suggested that responsibility for the delays lay with L. Paul Bremer III, the chief American administrator in Iraq, and Mr. Bremer's top aides, who until recently were in charge of equipping the police. ‘We should have done this earlier,’ General Myers told the House Armed Services Committee on Friday, ‘but it was somebody else's responsibility for a while, and now that'll come under General Petraeus.’” Myers is finally starting to notice that Baghdad fashion maven L. Paul Bremer is incompetent? What took so long? Oregon’s governor. “A former Marine corporal, the Democrat tries to find time to attend the funeral of every Oregon soldier who dies in the war in Iraq, and says it ‘probably means more to me than anything I have done.’ Kulongoski has attended funerals or memorial services for 10 out of the 18 soldiers with strong Oregon ties, at times taking the podium. It's the grieving parents that affect him the most, said the governor, a father of three.” Wedding video. “The videotape obtained Sunday by Associated Press Television News captures a wedding party that survivors say was later attacked by U.S. planes early Wednesday, killing up to 45 people. The dead included the cameraman, Yasser Shawkat Abdullah, hired to record the festivities, which ended Tuesday night before the planes struck. The U.S. military says it is investigating the attack, which took place in the village of Mogr el-Deeb about five miles from the Syrian border, but that all evidence so far indicates the target was a safehouse for foreign fighters.” Commentary Opinion: “In the history of the world, several great civilizations that seemed immortal have deteriorated and died. I don't want to seem dramatic tonight, but I've lived a long while, and for the first time in my life, I have this faint, faraway fear that it could happen to us here in America as it happened to the Greek and Roman civilizations. Too many Americans don't understand what we have here, or how to keep it. I worry for my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren. I want them to have what I've had, and I sense it slipping away.” Analysis: “Today, the United States is confronted by another ill-considered war, conceived in ideological zeal and pursued with contempt for truth, disregard of history and an arrogant assertion of American power that has stunned and alienated much of the world, including traditional allies. At a juncture in history when the United States needed a president to intelligently and forcefully lead a real international campaign against terrorism and its causes, Bush decided instead to unilaterally declare war on a totalitarian state that never represented a terrorist threat; to claim exemption from international law regarding the treatment of prisoners; to suspend constitutional guarantees even to non-combatants at home and abroad; and to ignore sound military advice from the only member of his Cabinet - Powell - with the most requisite experience. Instead of using America's moral authority to lead a great global cause, Bush squandered it. In Republican cloakrooms, as in the Oval Office, response to catastrophe these days is more concerned with politics and PR than principle. Said Tom DeLay, House majority leader: ‘A full-fledged congressional investigation - that's like saying we need an investigation every time there's police brutality on the street.’” Analysis: “However, the White House spins such a withdrawal, Gray writes, ‘the rest of the world will recognise it as a humiliating defeat - and it is here that the analogy of Vietnam is inadequate. The Iraq war has been lost far more quickly than that in South-east Asia, and the impact on the world is potentially much greater. Whereas Vietnam had little economic significance, Iraq is pivotal in the world economy. No dominoes fell with the fall of Saigon, but some pretty weighty ones could be shaken as the American tanks rumble out of Baghdad.’ In fact, they're already shaking; and not just in the Middle East.” Opinion: “The president's reservoir of credibility on Iraq is bone dry. His approval ratings are going down. Conservative voices in opposition to his policies are growing louder. And the troops themselves are becoming increasingly disenchanted with their mission. Yet no one knows quite what to do. Americans are torn between a desire to stop the madness by pulling the plug on this tragic and hopeless adventure and the realization that the U.S., for the time being, may be the only safeguard against a catastrophic civil war. The president is scheduled to give a speech tonight to lay out his ‘clear strategy’ for the future of Iraq. Don't hold your breath. This is the same president who deliberately exploited his nation's fear of terrorism in the aftermath of Sept. 11 to lead it into the long dark starless night of Iraq.” Casualty Reports Local story: Montana soldier wounded in Iraq. 86-43-04. Pass it on.


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