Tuesday, September 07, 2004

War News for September 7, 2004 Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed in convoy ambush near Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Two US soldiers killed in roadside bomb ambush near Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed, two wounded in Sadr City RPG ambush. Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed by roadside bomb near Mosul. Bring ‘em on: US Marines reported fighting near Fallujah. Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqi soldiers killed, seven wounded in ambush near Baghdad airport. Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi soldier killed, four wounded in attack on checkpoint near Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Gas and oil pipelines attacked near Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqi bodyguards killed in attempted assassination of Baghdad governor. Bring ‘em on: Thirty-three Iraqis killed, 193 wounded in Sadr City fighting. Bring ‘em on: South African DynCorp employee executed by insurgents in Iraq. 87 attacks every day. “An American military official said Monday that American soldiers and their allies were attacked an average of 87 times each day in August, the highest such figure since American and British forces deposed Saddam Hussein and his government 17 months ago.” That's a higher rate of combat than during the April uprising when attacks averaged about 50 per day. To my mind, this is a clear indication that US forces are rapidly heading for a major disaster in Iraq, yet the NYT buries that fact in this story about a new interrogation policy. (Emphasis added). UAV crashes near Fallujah. Returning Guardsmen. “A small but growing number of these returning soldiers -- and even some who haven't left -- also report problems ranging from lost job benefits to being passed over for promotions to getting laid off under suspicious circumstances. All potentially violate a federal law prohibiting discrimination based on military service. The U.S. Department of Labor says the number of complaints investigated under that law, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, has increased more than 35 percent since the 1990s. In Oregon, complaints for federal fiscal 2004, which ends Sept. 30, are projected to increase 50 percent over fiscal 2003.” Commentary Opinion: “If I were running the Kerry campaign, I'd remind people frequently about Mr. Bush's flight-suit photo-op, when he declared the end of major combat. In fact, the war goes on unabated. News coverage of Iraq dropped off sharply after the supposed transfer of sovereignty on June 28, but as many American soldiers have died since the transfer as in the original invasion. And I'd point out that while Mr. Bush spared no effort preparing for his carrier landing - he even received underwater survival training in the White House pool - he didn't prepare for things that actually mattered, like securing and rebuilding Iraq after Baghdad fell.” Opinion: “Citizens of the United States are a decent, fair-minded people. The only reason we tolerate what is being done in our name in Iraq is that, for us, this war exists only in the realm of metaphor. The words ‘war on terrorism’ fall on our ears much in the way that ‘war on poverty’ or ‘war on drugs’ did. War is an abstraction in the American imagination. It lives there, cloaked in glory, as an emblem of patriotism. We show our love for our country by sending our troops abroad and then "supporting" them, no matter what. When images appear that contradict the high-flown rhetoric of war -- whether of young GIs disgracefully humiliating Iraqi prisoners or of a devastated holy city where vast fields of American-created rubble surround a shrine -- we simply do not take them in as real. Thinking of ourselves as only motivated by good intentions, we cannot fathom the possibility that we have demonized an innocent people, that what we are doing is murder on a vast scale.” Casualty Reports Local story: Louisiana Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Mississippi soldier wounded in Iraq. Rant of the Day The Bushies never publicly offered any clear objectives for the war in Iraq, so it’s difficult to measure success by their own standards. Instead, they offered a constantly shifting set of rationales to support their war, offering a new reason as each previous reason was debunked. First, they claimed Iraq possessed an arsenal of “weapons of mass destruction” that threatened the US and our allies, which devolved into “WMD programs” and finally became “program-related activities.” Then they claimed links between Saddam Hussien and Al Qaida. Condi Rice even offered her ridiculous “flypaper strategy” to support their war. Now they justify their war because Saddam was a bad, bad man. They predicted the US invasion force would be welcomed with “flowers and music.” Instead, the Republican Guard fought a bitter – if ultimately futile – defense of Baghdad. An insurgency followed. In May 2003, Lieutenant AWOL dressed himself up in a pilot’s costume and proclaimed “an end to major combat operations.” The insurgency grew, but the Bushies said it was all the fault of Ba’athist “dead-enders” and everything would be peaceful when US troops rounded up all the bad guys pictured on Rummy’s deck of cards. In July, Saddam’s sons Usay and Qusay were killed in a raid near Mosul and the Bushies claimed a significant victory. In August, insurgents bombed the UN mission in Baghdad, gained increasing ability to interdict US convoy operations, and staged a coordinated series of car bombings in Baghdad. Now, the Bushies blamed “foreign fighters” as well as dead-enders. In September 2003, Richard Perle prophesied that grateful Iraqis would name a "grand square" in central Baghdad after George W. Bush. In December, US troops captured Saddam Hussein near Tikrit. The Bushies again claimed victory, as they mocked Saddam with videos of his dental exam and tales of his “spider hole.” At a press conference, Rummy crowed, “Here was a man who was photographed hundreds of times shooting off rifles and showing how tough he was, and in fact, he wasn't very tough, he was cowering in a hole in the ground, and had a pistol and didn't use it and certainly did not put up any fight at all. In the last analysis, he seemed not terribly brave.” The Bushies’ strutting, preening and gratuitous humiliation of Saddam played well with their electoral base, but enraged Iraqis in particular and Arabs in general. The insurgency grew during the winter and spring until it exploded in a major uprising in April, provoked by a poorly conceived raid to punish the city of Fallujah for the grisly murders of four American contractors, and by a bungled attempt to arrest (and possibly assassinate) Moqtada al-Sadr. The bloody uprisings in Fallujah and Najaf ended with negotiated settlements, which the Bushies touted as victories and presented the "Fallujah Solution" as the future model for success. Instead, the insurgency persisted. The Bushies scrambled to find a fig leaf of success before the election campaign. They adopted a plan to transfer “sovereignty” to “the Iraqi people.” As the Bushies announced their new plan, they repeatedly warned of more violence “in the run-up to the handover of sovereignty,” implying that violence would abate after the handover. Each and every time the Bushies announced a new victory, predicted imminent success or changed their multiple stories, the US media dutifully and uncritically parroted the Party line. From the moment US troops crossed the LD on March 20, 2003 until Lieutenant AWOL made his “end of major combat operations” proclamation on May 1, 139 US troops died in Iraq. Between May 2, 2003 and the transfer of “sovereignty” to the Allawi government on June 28, 2004, 715 US soldiers died in Iraq. Since June 29, 142 US soldiers died in Iraq, more than during the high-intensity fighting during the invasion and the initial aftermath. During all this carnage and courage, we were treated to the laughable spectacle of L. Paul (Jerry) Bremer III, parading around at multiple photo ops fashionably attired in Gucci suits and combat boots and accompanied by phalanxes of heavily armed security contractors. Meanwhile, young conservatives recruited from the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute rotated in and out of the Green Zone every 90 days, punching their tickets and padding their resumes with short-tours at the CPA. The CPA itself accomplished almost nothing of public value during its short and miserable existence, but apparently proved itself a considerable source of private and corporate enrichment. Bush-lovers criticize John Kerry because they claim Kerry has never announced his intended Iraq policy. I don’t know what Kerry intends to do about Iraq, but it’s clear that domestic American regime change is the first step to end this disaster. And Kerry’s quite right to keep his cards close to his chest. I have no doubt that if the Bushies learn his plans, they will preemptively screw them up regardless of the cost in American and Iraqi lives. These people are just that vicious. In the absence of clearly stated war aims and objectives from the Bush administration, we may not have a yardstick to measure the Bushies’ success in Iraq. But we damn sure have the data to measure failure. The revelation that the attack rate against US troops and allies has mushroomed to a whopping average of 87 per day clearly demonstrates that Bush’s Iraq policy is no longer going to hell in a hand-basket – it’s now traveling on a rocket sled. Time permitting, I will continue this rant tomorrow. (Thanks to salvage for the Richard Perle quote.) 86-43-04. Pass it on.


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