War News for November 30, 2004
Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqis killed, nineteen, including two US soldiers, wounded in car bombing north of Baghdad
. In a separate attack, an insurgent fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a U.S. tank in Baiji, wounding one U.S. soldier.
Bring ‘em on: Four Gurkha security guards killed, twelve wounded in rocket attack in Green Zone
Bring ‘em on: Suicide bomber rams U.S. convoy on Baghdad's airport road
, several casualties reported.
: "The mortuary staff cannot agree whether the present situation could be described as better or worse than that which existed under Saddam Hussein. In August 2002, ten suspicious deaths led to post-mortem examinations. In August 2003, post-Saddam, 518 murders were recorded in the city in a similar four-week period. But the staff also remember when hundreds of victims of mass execution were dumped by the Baathist authorities at the mortuary and relatives were too frightened to collect them. “Better or worse is irrelevant — they’re both bad,” Dr Hassan said. “And it could have been so easy for the Americans. Why did they disband the army and police last year and allow those weapons and munitions to pour into the hands of criminals in our streets? Why did they leave us for a year with no national army and police? I don’t know. Now we all suffer — them and us. Am I depressed? All the time.”"
Iraqi Security Forces
: "While Bush administration officials say that the training is progressing and that there have been instances in which the Iraqis have proved tactically useful and fought bravely, local American commanders and security officials say both Iraqi forces are riddled with problems. In the most violent provinces, they say, the Iraqis are so intimidated that many are reluctant to show up and do not tell their families where they work; they have yet to receive adequate training or weapons, present a danger to American troops they fight alongside, and are unreliable because of corruption, desertion or infiltration. Given the weak performance of Iraqi forces, any major withdrawal of American troops for at least a decade would invite chaos, a senior Interior Ministry official, whose name could not be used, said in an interview last week."
: "It is not clear what the killers'' objective is -- apart from to strike fear into the public and the fledgling security authorities ahead of elections at the end of January. By creating a climate of fear, the insurgents seem to hope Iraqis will be too scared to cast their votes and the election will lose its legitimacy. In that respect, the campaign of intimidation in Mosul may be a test case for the rest of Iraq. In all more than 50 bodies have been found since Nov. 15, mostly on the more violent western side of Mosul, which sits on the Tigris river 390 km north of Baghdad. Around two dozen have been identified as members of the Iraqi National Guard or Iraqi army, while others are believed to be civilians who may have worked with U.S. forces or for the U.S.-backed Iraqi authorities."
: "Quietly released Pentagon report contains major criticisms of administration: Late on the Wednesday afternoon before the Thanksgiving holiday, the US Defense Department released a report by the Defense Science Board that is highly critical of the administration's efforts in the war on terror and in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 'Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies [the report says]. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.'"
"MSNBC notes that the report, in a comment that directly goes against statements made by President Bush and senior cabinet members, says the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have united otherwise-divided Muslim extremists and given terrorists organizations like Al Qaeda a boost by "raising their stature.""
Shadow of Vietnam
: "As marines aboard fast patrol boats roared up the Euphrates on a dawn raid on Sunday, images pressed in of another American war where troops moved up wide rivers on camouflaged boats, with machine-gunners nervously scanning riverbanks for the hidden enemy. That war is rarely mentioned among the American troops in Iraq, many of whom were not yet born when the last American combat units withdrew from Vietnam more than 30 years ago. A war that America did not win is considered a bad talisman among those men and women, who privately admit to fears that this war could be lost."
Turkish truck drivers
: "Turkish, American and Iraqi officials are to hold talks in Ankara Tuesday on ways to improve security for Turkish truck drivers working in Iraq. The meeting, called after increasing attacks against Turkish citizens employed in Iraq, especially in the transportation sector. More than 60 Turks, the majority of them truck drivers, have been killed in Iraq, both in ambushes or executed by militants after being kidnapped."
The Human Cost
Iraq health care 'in deep crisis'
: "Iraq's health system is in a far worse condition than before the war, a British medical charity says. Doctors from the group Medact conducted surveys with international aid groups and Iraqi health workers in September. They exposed poor sanitation in many hospitals, shortages of drugs and qualified staff and huge gaps in services for mothers and children. "The war is a continuing public health disaster that was predictable - and should have been preventable," the group says."
PTSD and my Iraq Homecoming
: "Time passes on. Most of the "we support our troops" signs have been taken down or are faded. Yellow ribbons have become faddish accessories to stick next to your George Bush sticker on your SUV.
I'd like to say that I'm not angry anymore, but it would be a lie. I am deeply pissed off at over 50 million of my fellow countrymen, and despite what John Kerry says, I can't forgive and forget. I don't care about healing. I want a reckoning, and I want my party to deliver.
Time has given me some distance from the war, but Iraq won't go away. I feel like I'm living with a knife at my throat. More and more of my friends and my soldiers get sent over there. A close friend got killed, and the funeral was tough. I began obsessing over Iraq and counter-insurgencies. I got involved in the election. I found DailyKOS, and I started posting. I jump all over anything that has to do with Iraq, and I worry about making an ass out of myself. But, I can't help it. I want my story told."
: "In counterinsurgency warfare, winning battles while losing the war is even more common. The French won the Battle of Algiers but were ultimately worn out by Algerian nationalist guerrillas. In the Vietnam War, the 1968 Tet Offensive—the invasion of South Vietnam by the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong—resulted in a U.S. military victory and the end of the Viet Cong as an effective fighting force. Yet politically, the strong communist offensive belied the Johnson administration’s assertions that the United States was winning the war and ultimately led to a U.S. defeat, as U.S. public support for the conflict began draining away."
: "It is also easy to personify small acts and assume them typical of the acts of all. We can grasp the individual act more easily than we can handle the institutional act; we can see the "face of evil" first-hand and pit ourselves against an actor on our own stage bill, not of the highest one. Sometimes these judgments are true, but very often they are not: Many times, these cases unfairly try the unrepresentative small fry while letting the big turkeys go
And the still-nameless Marine in Fallujah? Perhaps I'm making excuses for him, but given the chaos of battle, it is not difficult to see how something like this could have happened. A man afraid, with terror all around him, a terrible decision he will remember and regret all his life! But -- would it not be more effective to put on trial Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, Dick Cheney, Elliott Abrams and all the other fanatic intellectual couch potatoes who sent that Marine out to fight an impossible war?"
: "There is a long-standing British belief that we are more robust about war, and its human cost, than are Americans. Yet compare and contrast current national attitudes to what is happening in Iraq. A reverse image is apparent. The British people are very unhappy. Many Americans think everything is going fine. In short, many Americans, including most of those in the armed forces, think that they are doing a great job in the war zone, and are winning - a sharp contrast with the British mood towards Iraq, which grows ever more fractious and cynical. Every death provokes a spasm of anger, driven by disbelief in the value of the sacrifice."
Local Story: Tucson
Marine is killed in Iraq
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