Monday, June 14, 2004

War News for June 14, 2004. Bring ‘em on: Car bomb in Baghdad kills 13, including five contractors. Bring ‘em on: Former Ba’athist assassinated in Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: Civilian convoy ambushed by car bomb near Iskandariyah. Bring ‘em on: Former Ba’athist assassinated near Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Two employees of US-funded al-Iraqiya television killed in western Iraq. Bring ‘em on: New Zealand troops under mortar fire near Basra. Bring ‘em on: Five Iraqis killed in fighting in Sadr City. Failure in Fallujah. “’This was a noble experiment that may not work out,’ Col. Larry Brown, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force's operations officer, said this weekend. ‘The brigade has not performed as well as we had hoped.’ His comments were the strongest indication from the U.S. military that the effort to contain the insurgency by depending on the Fallujah Brigade was failing. It also was a sign that the model — turning to former Iraqi military including those who served Saddam Hussein — would not solve security problems after the U.S.-led coalition hands sovereignty to Iraqis on June 30.” License to kill. “In an early test of its imminent sovereignty, Iraq's new government has been resisting a U.S. demand that thousands of foreign contractors here be granted immunity from Iraqi law, in the same way as U.S. military forces are now immune, according to Iraqi sources. The U.S. proposal, although not widely known, has touched a nerve with some nationalist-minded Iraqis already chafing under the 14-month-old U.S.-led occupation. If accepted by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, it would put the highly visible U.S. foreign contractors into a special legal category, not subject to military justice and beyond the reach of Iraq's justice system.” Oregon National Guard infantry battalion suffers 10 casualties in less than two months in Iraq. Army retention problems. “Since Fort Carson units began coming home in April, post recruiters have met only 57 percent of their quota for re-enlisting first-term soldiers for a second hitch, according to an Army report. More disturbing, recruiters say, is they're re-enlisting only 46 percent of the quota for ‘mid-career’ noncommissioned officers. These are the young sergeants with four to 10 years of experience who are the backbone of the Army - its skilled soldiers, mentors and future senior NCOs.” Cheney and Halliburton. “Pentagon officials have acknowledged that Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff and other Bush administration political appointees were involved in a controversial decision to pay Halliburton Inc. to plan for the postwar recovery of Iraq's oil sector, a Democratic lawmaker said yesterday. The decision, overruling the recommendations of an Army lawyer, eventually resulted in the award of a $7 billion no-bid contract to Halliburton, which Cheney ran for five years before he was nominated for vice president.” Maybe the Bushies have a legal memo prepared to subvert this law, too. “Saddam Hussein must either be released from custody by June 30 or charged if the US and the new Iraqi government are to conform to international law, the International Committee of the Red Cross said last night. Nada Doumani, a spokeswoman for the ICRC, told the Guardian: ‘The United States defines Saddam Hussein as a prisoner of war. At the end of an occupation PoWs have to be released provided they have no penal charges against them.’” Electricity shortages. “The American-led occupation missed its goal by as much as 30 percent, starving air-conditioners, lights, factories and oil pumps. That has damaged the occupation's efforts to foster stability and good will among a populace already traumatized by the failure to guarantee their security. The goal, one of the American-led civilian administration's highest priorities, was set soon after occupation forces overran the country in the spring of 2003. It seemed within reach, but with little progress so far, the occupation is now talking about succeeding well into this summer.” Nice going, Bremer. Is there anything you haven't fucked up yet? DailyKos has an excellent round-up of the latest developments in the Abu Ghraib case. Commentary Editorial: “Washington is hoping to cut its military presence in Germany — a little more than 70,000 soldiers — roughly in half. Two heavy divisions now based there, and the soldiers' families, would return to the United States. They would be replaced by a much smaller light combat brigade, while other units would be rotated in and out, at considerable cost, for short-term exercises. The Air Force is also thinking of moving some of its F-16 fighter jets from Germany to Turkey, where they would be closer to Middle East trouble spots but subject to restrictions by the host government. The large American military presence in Germany has long symbolized the understanding at the heart of NATO — Washington's commitment to remain permanently engaged in Europe's security and to integrate its military operations with those of its major European allies. Recent history has only reinforced how important that relationship is to the United States. NATO is the only alliance capable of sharing some of the global military burdens that have now overstretched America's ground forces. Many Germans, remembering Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's scornful ‘old Europe’ put-downs of their country last year, will see these withdrawals, and the accompanying German job losses, as payback for Berlin's diplomatic opposition to the invasion of Iraq. Washington denies that. But the Pentagon does seem to have a growing preference for stationing troops either at home or on the territories of allies ready to embrace President Bush's notions of unilateral preventive war.” Analysis: However, it seems that the decision in Washington to invade Iraq was made in a vacuum, and in an environment where the neo-cons were scornful and contemptuous of the necessity of acquiring legitimacy for the US actions from the world body. They envisioned America's military power as being able to conquer even the hearts and minds of the global community, as if the latter had no mind or analytical capability of its own to judge between right and wrong. In the strange thinking of the neo-cons, the dilemmas and mental reservations about such blatant US action as the decision to invade Iraq without UN sanction were not even considered worth pondering or second thought. But when the international community showed its contempt for such an action through the strength of its non-involvement, and through stern denunciation of America, that very action - ie, the US invasion of Iraq - became snarled in a quagmire of its own making. Analysis: “Yes, it is conceivable that Bush did not have accurate information about whether Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. But under the international rules that the US is supposed to follow, wars should not be undertaken based on the judgment of one individual and his cabal. The judgment of the world was that the evidence was not there -- and the world was right. Had Bush only gone along with the democratic processes enshrined in the UN Charter, the trauma of Iraq need not have occurred.” Rant of the Day Larry the Liar, in a letter published in today's New York Times:. “Secretary Rumsfeld has said time and again that the number of troops is based upon the professional military judgment of commanders. Gen. Tommy Franks fashioned brilliant war plans, based upon force levels he determined were needed. The plans were reviewed and supported unanimously by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” You lie, Larry. Before this war even started, General Shinseki warned that you and your boss had dramatically underestimated the troops required for a successful occupation of Iraq. You chose to ignore and humiliate that officer. General Franks was successful in the initial ground campaign in spite of your meddling, not because of your support. The disorders that followed the collapse of the Ba’athist regime were a direct result of your fiddling with a force structure required by Army doctrine in favor of a force structure dreamed up by your neo-con ideologues and based on fantasy planning. Worse, you refuse to accept responsibility for your miserable failures by hiding behind the uniforms of officers who are forbidden by law to criticize their civilian superiors. Many retired flag officers, no longer bound by that prohibition, have repeatedly criticized your handling of the war in general and your reluctance to adequately resource the occupation forces with appropriate troop levels. Those officers include General Zinni, General McCaffrey, General Hoar and General Clark. In response, you and your minions in the GOP slime machine have attacked the motives, competence and patriotism of those officers. In addition to being a bald-faced liar, you are a cowardly chickenshit, Larry. The Times should be ashamed of itself for printing your mendacious and self-serving drivel. Happy 229th birthday to the United States Army. 86-43-04. Pass it on.


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