Wednesday, September 01, 2004

War News for September 1, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi women working for US forces killed in Mosul ambush. Bring ‘em on: Opening of Iraqi national assembly mortared in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Chalabi survives assassination attempt near Latifiyah. The schools. “As Iraq's universities prepare for a new school year more than 16 months after Saddam Hussein's ouster, they are still coping with the damage caused by looters who stole or destroyed more than 80 percent of the universities' infrastructure.” Negotiations with al-Sadr collapse. “Leaders of the Mahdi Army, the rebel force led by the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, and two well-placed Iraqi sources said an agreement had been reached late Monday that called for the disarming of the rebel force and a halt in American military operations in Sadr City. Mahdi Army commanders and other Iraqi sources said Tuesday that Dr. Allawi backed out of the agreement on Tuesday morning. The failure of negotiations raised the prospect of more violence from Mr. Sadr's Shiite insurgency, meaning the Iraqi government may not be able to direct its full political and military resources to quelling the continuing Sunni insurgency in other parts of the country.” Wounded in Iraq. “The number of American troops wounded in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 is approaching 7,000, according to figures published Tuesday by the Pentagon. The death toll for U.S. military personnel is 975, plus three Defense Department civilians. The wounded total has approximately doubled since mid-April, when casualties and deaths mounted rapidly as the insurgency intensified. The death toll over that period has grown by about 300.” Emphasis added. Compassionate conservatism in action. “The family of a soldier killed in Iraq last week is hoping to raise money to bring his body from New York to his hometown of East Chicago for a funeral service and burial. The Army is paying for the transport of Pfc. Luis A. Perez's body to northern New York, where his wife, Molly, lives. A memorial service for the 19-year-old Perez will be held there, and then his family will accompany his body on a flight to Indiana. Because the military only will pay to transport the body to one location, East Chicago community leaders and local businesses are working with Perez's family to set up a trust fund and organize a fund-raiser.” Commentary Editorial: “A band of wounded Oregon National Guard soldiers stuck at Fort Lewis offers a small yet outrageous measure of the Bush administration's insufficient preparation for the war in Iraq. Among the 49 Oregon guardsmen at Fort Lewis are a few who need specialized care for severe injuries, but many of them are stuck there, unable to return to their homes, for no better reason than bureaucratic snafu.” Opinion: “A world where thousands of Minnesota citizen soldiers who once worried about spring floods or tornadoes now worry about rocket-propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices. Thousands of Guard troops have been deployed over the past few years and another 500 were ordered to duty this week. In a time like this, no 18-year-old can be expected to have all the answers about a war that even seems to leave President Bush puzzled some days. Bush went on Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday to explain that despite his earlier comments, which are inoperative, he believes this war on terror can be won. If he didn't think so, he would have some explaining to do.” Analysis: “Given the troubles of the US-led occupation forces elsewhere, militias in the south have flourished. This started immediately after the fall of Saddam's regime last year, when Hezbollah sent hundreds of volunteers to take over the control of holy shrines in southern Iraq. Later, Hezbollah leaders helped Iraqi Shi'ites establish the Iraqi Hezbollah to fight against foreign forces, with the ultimate goal of establishing vilayat-e-faqih , in line with Iran's desires. The Iraqi Hezbollah now has its headquarters right in the middle of Basra, in the old police headquarters. The police have offices in a new building in front of the Shatul Arab waterway. The Iraqi Hezbollah has also established a powerful branch in Ammarah.” Opinion: “But this spirit of national unity didn't mysteriously slip away, nor was it sundered by the plots of fractious Democrats. Though most Democrats and liberals backed the war in Afghanistan, Bush decided to lead in a divisive manner for narrowly partisan ends. The president made no move to bring Democrats into his Cabinet to fight what some supporters have termed a new world war. On the contrary, in a spirit of downwardly shared sacrifice, Bush pushed for further tax cuts for large-scale investors; his war in Iraq would be fought by the working class and funded by its children. By forcing Congress to vote to give him a blank check to make war in Iraq before the November elections, Bush sought to use his war as a weapon against the Democrats. This was leadership all right, to exquisitely sectarian ends. And for Giuliani to have waxed nostalgic about the post-Sept. 11 period of national unity in a speech extolling George W. Bush's leadership was industrial-strength chutzpah.” Opinion: “How wrong this was. Bush's obvious lack of interest in policy issues makes him more dogmatic, not less so. Intellectual laziness stiffens the backbone as much as ideological fervor does. Hand him his position on an issue, and he can cross it off his list. Bush's intellectual defenders compare him to Ronald Reagan, who was simpleminded (they say) in the best sense. Reagan whittled down the world's complexities into a few simple truths. But Reagan pondered those complexities on his way to simplicity. He stopped thinking only after a fair amount of thought. Bush's advisers deliver ideas to him like a pizza. His stove has never been lit. And four years have not illuminated the meaning of compassionate conservatism. It remains an insult to conservatives and a mystery to everybody else. On every big social issue that has arisen during his term (gay marriage, for example, and stem-cell research), Bush has been steadfast in taking the hard-conservative line.” Analysis: “Same goes for Bush's Iraq policy. It's a betrayal of everything Republicans claim to stand for—fiscal prudence, the reservation of U.S. military resources for the protection of the national interest, and skepticism of government's ability to shape society. The weapons of mass destruction that Bush touted as the reason for spending our blood and treasure in Iraq are simply not there. We were not greeted with sweets and flowers as the administration suggested. We have lost nearly 1,000 soldiers. We have sunk about $200 billion into this mistake, and there is no end in sight. It's a complete failure. Unable to defend the policy, Schwarzenegger defends Bush as ‘a man of inner strength. He is a leader who doesn't flinch, who doesn't waver, who does not back down.’ But ‘inner strength’ is exactly the kind of New Age pap no hard-headed Republican should fall for. Accountability means judging a president by visible results. Schwarzenegger says leadership is ‘about making decisions you think are right and then standing behind those decisions.’ Fine. But standing behind your decisions means taking responsibility at election time. This is election time, and Bush's decisions have turned out to be disastrously wrong.” Casualty Reports Local story: Montana soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: California Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: South Carolina airman killed in Iraq. Local story: Texas Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Iowa Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Oregon Guardsman wounded in Iraq. Local story: Pennsylvania soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Hawaii soldier wounded in Iraq. 86-43-04. Pass it on.


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