Saturday, August 14, 2004

War News for August 13 and 14, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Eight Iraqis killed in US aerial bombing in Samarra. Bring ‘em on: One US soldier and one US Marine killed in fighting in al-Anbar province. Bring ‘em on: Eight Iraqis killed, 33 wounded in fighting with Polish troops in Hilla. Bring ‘em on: Thirteen Iraqis killed, 84 wounded in heavy fighting near Samarra. Bring ‘em on: Six Iraqis killed in US aerial bombing in Fallujah. Bring ‘em on: One British soldier killed, one wounded in ambush near Basra. Bring ‘em on: Seven Iraqis killed, 34 wounded in fighting and aerial bombing in Kut. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi police dismantle six car bombs in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Basra pipeline shut down due to insurgency. Bring ‘em on: Explosions reported near Green Zone in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Heavy gunfire reported in central Baghdad. Truce in Najaf. “Thousands of Iraqis began streaming into Najaf on Saturday, after leaving their towns and cities the day before on a march to support al-Sadr. At least 1,000 people gathered outside the cleric's local office in Basra, readying to leave for Najaf later Saturday.” Truce collapses. Blowback. “Fighters in Moqtada Sadr’s Mehdi Army threatened yesterday to become suicide bombers if their leader is killed in the fighting in Najaf with US and Iraqi forces. Torn between disbelief and anger after reports the fiery Sadr was wounded earlier in the day, the militiamen warned they were willing to sacrifice their lives to bomb US bases across Iraq.” Western al-Anbar province. “Gunnery Sgt. Elia Fontecchio, 30, was killed by a roadside bomb, set off by someone who was watching a U.S. Marine foot patrol finish its work on Wednesday, Aug. 4. A half-hour later, Lance Cpl. Joseph Nice, 19, was stringing concertina wire across a road when a single sniper bullet passed through his body. They were deaths 14 and 15 for the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment since it arrived in February. With 156 Purple Hearts as well, the casualty count for this battalion is higher than that of any other unit in Iraq, save for fellow Marines in turbulent Fallujah.” Hearts and minds. “When the US wanted a Shia cleric to strengthen the credibility of the IGC, it turned to Bahr al-Ulum, whose family had lost many members for opposing Saddam Hussein. But watching his hometown of Najaf come under US bombardment to crush Muqtada al-Sadr and his supporters, Bahr al-Ulum has lost faith in US intentions towards Iraq, and says millions of moderates like him, who welcomed last year's invasion, now regard Washington as an enemy.” Do the Bushies ever stop lying? “Early this week, administration officials sought to distance themselves from the furor over arrest warrants issued Sunday for Chalabi, a prominent former exile, and his nephew Salem. They said they were unaware of the Iraqi government's plans. But a U.S. official acknowledged in an interview Thursday that the Bush administration had been aware of the impending move against the Chalabis.” US realigns overseas troop structure to support Bush’s War. “The United States reportedly plans to pull 70,000 troops from Europe and Asia in the largest restructuring of its global military presence since World War II.” Coalition of the Wobbly. Who’s in, who’s out, who’s leaving next. Commentary Editorial: “Even if the mosque is undamaged and respected, however, an attack led by U.S. forces will anger many Muslims and inspire some of them to join militant or jihadist groups, damaging the U.S. cause. As for Muqtada al-Sadr, he could ‘win’ no matter the outcome. If he is killed, he will be respected as a martyr and inspire more to join the cause. If he is not, he will brag that he has withstood the assaults of the infidel Americans. It may well be that the cordoning of Najaf, which comes after a two-month truce was broken and is supported by the provisional Iraqi government, is necessary for security purposes. But not all its political ramifications will beneficial.” Analysis: “The physical destruction of state power, the interference in civil society institutions, and the violence and lack of legitimacy of the occupation were responsible for the emergence of new centres of power and authority that must now be integrated into the political process. In particular, the Sadr movement has a wide appeal among young, poor, marginalised and traditionally edu cated sections of the urban population, and it is irresponsible to ignore or antagonise such a wide section of Iraqi society. These are people who should be allowed to enter the political process through their chosen vehicle. They have a legitimate critique of the present flawed process, which is designed to serve the political objectives of the US administration and its few Iraqi allies.” Analysis: “Bush seems to have gone into this war without any notion that he was popping the lid off a Jack-in-a-box—that toppling Saddam and destroying the Baath Party (however laudable) would also uncork decades of pent-up ethnic and tribal tensions. If his advisers were better briefed, they took no steps to quell the likely postwar conflicts. They didn't send more troops to keep order (either in defiance or in ignorance of historic precedent). More to the point here, they didn't seek out the various ethnic leaders or offer them incentives to join a new political order. They didn't, for that matter, formulate a new political order. (Perhaps they thought Ahmad Chalabi had that department under control.)” Book Review. “America Alone levels a broad indictment against the Bush administration, which in the name of the war on terror has launched the Iraq war, mounted an assault on personal liberties at home, engaged in a purposeful deceit of the media and the public (both of which suspended any critical judgment) and, above all, has inflicted terrible damage on U.S. moral authority and international legitimacy. The chief culprits for the authors are the neocons, who are depicted as conspirators who hijacked American foreign policy.” Analysis: “Even the straight up-and-down news coverage on Fox strays deep into partisan territory. The anchors are reverential and often openly supportive when the subject-matter is President Bush's latest speech, or a group of US Marines returning from Iraq. Bad news for the Administration is either screened out altogether - you will not catch Fox discussing military casualty figures in Baghdad - or else spun in the Republican favour.” Opinion: “Of the many stupid things our country has done lately, alienating the best neighbor any country ever had ranks fairly high on the All Time Stupid list. So I have been at some pains to try to answer the ever-so-delicately phrased questions: Are you people actually going to re-elect that nincompoop? (I doubt a Canadian would ever actually ask an American that question -- this is free interpretation on my part.)” Casualty Reports Local story: Montana Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: New Jersey soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Maryland USAF civilian employee killed in Iraq. Local story: Idaho soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Maine Marine wounded in Iraq. Local story: Idaho Marine wounded in Iraq. Pop quiz Who said: "Trying to eliminate Saddam ... would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. ... There was no viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations’ mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land." 86-43-04. Pass it on.


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