War News for Saturday, October 30, 2004
Bring ‘em on: Eight US Marines killed, nine wounded fighting in near Fallujah
Bring ‘em on: Sixteen Iraqis wounded in car bombing at Baghdad
Bring ‘em on: British troops mortared near Baghdad
Bring ‘em on: Insurgents seize Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan truck drivers near Mosul
Bring ‘em on: Insurgents execute Japanese hostage
Bring ‘em on: Turkish truck driver killed in ambush near Mosul
Bring ‘em on: Three US soldiers wounded in Mosul
Bring ‘em on: Car bomb attack on US checkpoint near Ramadi
Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed, one wounded in car bomb attack on US convoy near Ramadi
Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi killed, seven Iraqi soldiers wounded in Samarra
Bring ‘em on: Eleven Iraqis killed, 15 wounded in ambush of US and Iraqi Army convoy near Haswa
Bring ‘em on: Iraqi police patrol ambushed near Ramadi
Bring ‘em on: Three US soldiers wounded by roadside bomb near Tall Afar
Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqi police killed in ambush near Latifiyah
Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi policeman killed, one wounded in RPG ambush near Baquba
Bring ‘em on: British convoy ambushed near Nasiriyah
Bring ‘em on: Pipeline ablaze near Kirkuk
One British soldier killed, three injured in vehicle accident in Babil province
. “The Pentagon has ordered about 6,500 soldiers in Iraq to extend their tours, the first step the military has taken to increase its combat power there in preparation for the January elections, senior Defense Department officials said Friday. About 3,500 members of the Second Brigade of the First Cavalry Division will stay in Iraq two months longer than initially ordered, and about 3,000 soldiers assigned to headquarters and support units of the First Infantry Division will have their tours extended by two and a half weeks.”
. “When the 1544th Transportation Company of the Illinois National Guard was preparing to leave for Iraq in February, relatives of the soldiers offered to pay to weld steel plates on the unit's trucks to protect against roadside bombs. The Army told them not to, because it would provide better protection in Iraq, relatives said. Seven months later, many of the company's trucks still have no armor, soldiers and relatives said, despite running some of the most dangerous missions in Iraq and incurring the highest rate of injuries and deaths among the Illinois units deployed there….Before the 103rd Armor Regiment of the Pennsylvania National Guard left in late February, some relatives bought those soldiers new body armor to supplant the Vietnam-era flak jackets that had been issued. The mother of Sgt. Sherwood Baker, a member of the regiment who was killed in April, bought a global positioning device after being told that the Army said his truck should have one but would not supply it. And before Karma Kumlin's husband left with his Minnesota National Guard unit in February, the soldiers spent about $200 each on radios that they say have turned out to be more reliable - although less secure - than the Army's. Only recently, Ms. Kumlin said, has her husband gotten a metal shield for the gunner's turret he regularly mans, after months of asking.”
: “I just don’t believe George Bush, who is one of the best speech givers I have ever heard, knows how to run a country. There are enough terrorists being created in this world without having a president who is in the process of creating hundreds of thousands more. “Pre-emptive invasions” are usually a disaster. They are a disaster for the invaded countries and for the invaders. Mr. Bush is the most divisive president we have known in our lifetime. The President has spoken frequently of Poland assisting the United States in Iraq with 3,000 troops. Those troops will be pulled out soon. Friends of mine who were in Poland recently watched the burning of an American flag in front of their hotel. The reputation of this nation as the greatest land the world has ever known — that reputation could be damaged for a long time if George Bush is re-elected. It’s time for a change.”
: “The opening proceedings last summer of the ad hoc military tribunals Bush ginned up to sort out who's dangerous and who's not proved a disaster. The interpreters were incompetent and even commission members were confused about the rules. The Pentagon is now scrambling to reorganize and restaff the panels in a doomed effort to salvage any credibility. As the administration continues to stonewall judges doing what the founding fathers intended — ensuring that the president doesn't overstep his authority — it is not a stretch to say that Americans are witnessing the makings of a constitutional crisis.”
The failed strategy in Fallujah is writ large across Iraq. In its engagements in Samarra, Najaf, Ramadi and elsewhere, the US has tended toward measuring success in terms of body counts. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld bragged that the US killed up to 2,500 insurgents in August alone (many of whom would have fallen in the siege of Najaf). But it is highly likely that the US is creating more enemies than it is killing. US Private Mario Rutigliano, 19, understands this if Rumsfeld does not. After the US attack on the northern border town of Tall Afar in mid-September that killed 104 Iraqis, Rutigliano told the Washington Post: "It doesn't matter how many we kill, they'll always keep coming back. They've all got cousins, brothers. They have an endless supply."
The upshot of this cycle of death and vengeance is that there are now 8,000-10,000 hardcore insurgents, or 20,000 if active sympathizers are included, according to US officials who spoke to the New York Times. Though former members of the Ba'ath security forces may have composed the original core of the insurgency, its ranks are now swollen with ordinary Iraqis. Combating Iraqis who are fighting to liberate themselves from their "liberators" presents the Bush administration with serious moral and legal quandaries, of course, and an acute public relations dilemma.
To traverse this minefield and salve any uneasiness the American people might have about crushing a nationalist uprising, the administration has sold the "foreign fighter" argument to the media. Zarqawi, the alleged leader of the Tawhid and Jihad group, has been particularly targeted, with the media gratefully wielding him to personalize the amorphous Iraqi quagmire to a befuddled nation. Even a recent headline in the left-leaning Christian Science Monitor read "Fallujans flee from US, Zarqawi fight", suggesting a showdown between the Jordanian militant and 5,000 marines. The media have also taken the US military's assurances that the strikes have been "precise" at face value, with occasionally surreal results. A recent CNN broadcast featured raw footage of a house in Fallujah that had been flattened by a US air strike and, as wounded children were pulled from the rubble, anchor Carol Lin informed viewers, without qualification, that the US had struck a Zarqawi meeting place.
Zarqawi is now a catch-all for the troubled Iraq project - prime mover of the insurgency and missing link to the "war on terror". Vice President Dick Cheney claimed in October that Zarqawi is responsible for "most of the major car bombings that have killed or maimed thousands of people". The recent pledge of loyalty to Osama bin Laden attributed to Zarqawi was understandably seized upon by the White House as vindication for the war and any future assault on Fallujah.
Because the US public imbibes much of its news about Iraq from television, which offers only a thin, uncritical filter of the administration's spin, many Americans, while understandably preoccupied with the 1,111 US military deaths, are only dimly aware of the immense Iraqi death toll and the resentment born of US military excess. And with the "war on terror" now neatly folded into the Iraqi uprising, there is little discussion of the ethical implications of suppressing it.
Local story: Maryland
soldier wounded in Iraq.
Awards and Decorations
Local story: New Hampshire
Marine decorated for valor in Iraq.
Young Republican Chickenhawks
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