Friday, December 31, 2004

Friday Night Cat Blogging

War News for Friday, December 31, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi border guards assassinated in Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Thirty insurgents attack police checkpoint in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Four Baghdad police stations attacked with small arms, RPG fire. Bring ‘em on: Gas pipeline destroyed near Basra. Bring ‘em on: ING soldier killed by insurgents near Fallujah. Bring ‘em on: Mortar attack ignites blaze at Baghdad refinery. Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqi civilians killed in ambush near Shorgat. Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed, 15 wounded in yesterday’s fighting in Mosul. Bring ‘em on: One ING soldier killed, four wounded in Samarra ambush. Bring ‘em on: British troops ambushed by roadside bomb near Amarah. Bring ‘em on: US patrol ambushed near ad Duluiyah. Bring ‘em on: Insurgents destroy Mosul telephone exchange. All 700 election workers in Mosul resign after insurgent threats. Bush’ Folly. “Key measures of the level of insurgent violence against American forces in Iraq, numbers of dead, wounded and insurgent attacks, show the situation has gotten worse since the summer. While those numbers don't tell the full story of the conflict in Iraq, they suggest insurgents are growing more proficient, even as the size of the U.S. force increases and U.S. commanders succeed in soliciting more help from ordinary Iraqis.” All sorts of interesting indicators in this article. Graphic display of failure. Rummy’s Army. “More than 100 members of the 571st Medical Company left Fort Carson Thursday morning as their unit headed back to Iraq for a second one-year tour of duty. The helicopter medical evacuation unit suffered the most casualties of any Fort Carson company in Iraq last year, losing seven soldiers in two crashes of its helicopters.” Dickhead can’t take a joke. “A Lake Elsinore man allegedly chased down and shot a soldier home on leave from Iraq early Thursday, after catching him with a group toilet-papering his yard and other homes in the neighborhood. Aubrey Weldon, 34, a construction worker, was so angry about his Riverside County neighborhood being festooned with toilet paper that he chased down the group in his truck on the 29000 block of 3rd Street, started fighting with them and then pulled out a handgun and opened fire at 12:30 a.m., said Sgt. Earl Quinata of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.” Casualty Reports Local story: Virginia soldier dies in Iraq. Local story: California soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Oklahoma soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Alabama soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Illinois Guardsman wounded in Iraq. Local story: Three Maine Guardsmen wounded in Iraq. Awards and Decorations Local story: Arkansas soldier decorated for valor in Iraq. Note to Readers I intended to post a rant about Lieutenant AWOL’s reaction to the tsunami disaster in Asia, but Helena and Rude Pundit both expressed the outrage I feel better than I could. Instead, I want to thank matt for picking up my slack and running this blog on days when I can’t post. I like the Discussion Topic threads matt posted, and judging from reader responses I think most readers liked them, too. In fact, I should have the comments thread from the last Discussion Topic bronzed and mounted on a plaque due to all the thoughtful and well-reasoned posts from readers. As matt once observed in an email to me, a world-wide community of thoughtful, informed and intelligent readers has developed around this blog. The site gets an average of about 1,500 visitors every day, with a little over a half-million visits since I started. Last month I created a new blog called Reader Contributions. I suspect most of you have noticed it already. My original intention was to solicit original material from readers in order to tap into the pool of talent that reads this blog every day and give you a forum to express your opinions and observations to a wider audience. I’m not sure how I’ll manage the Reader Contribution page, but if you want to send in material or suggestions for Discussion Topics, email me. I’ve only got two editorial rules: 1. Don’t be an asshole, and 2. Spell check your material before you send it. (I work for a living.) I started a new Discussion Topic on the RC page this morning: Where are you from? YD


Thursday, December 30, 2004

War News for Thursday, December 30, 2004 Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed, 14 wounded in heavy fighting in Mosul. Bring ‘em on: ING soldier killed in Baquba ambush. Bring ‘em on: Insurgents overrun Iraqi police station near Tikrit, execute 12 policemen. Bring ‘em on: Five ING and one US soldier wounded in fighting in Samarra. Bring ‘em on: British soldiers ambushed in southern Iraq. CJTF-7 reports a US soldier wounded in Mosul mess hall bombing has died of wounds. CJTF-7 reports a C-130 crashed on landing in northern Iraq. Fallujah. “Lakes of sewage in the streets. The smell of corpses inside charred buildings. No water or electricity. Long waits and thorough searches by U.S. troops at checkpoints. Warnings to watch out for land mines and booby traps. Occasional gunfire between troops and insurgents. ‘I thought, “This is not my town,”’ Atiya said Tuesday after going back to the abandoned Baghdad clinic his family shares with nearly 100 other displaced Falloujans. ‘How can I take my family to live there?’” ING to merge with Iraqi Army. Rummy Roulette. “But a comparative analysis of U.S. casualty statistics from Iraq tells a different story. After factoring in medical, doctrinal, and technological improvements, infantry duty in Iraq circa 2004 comes out just as intense as infantry duty in Vietnam circa 1966—and in some cases more lethal. Even discrete engagements, such as the battle of Hue City in 1968 and the battles for Fallujah in 2004, tell a similar tale: Today's grunts are patrolling a battlefield every bit as deadly as the crucible their fathers faced in Southeast Asia.” Medical support. “One key constraint for planners has been the limited number of medical personnel available in a voluntary force to support the 130,000 to 150,000 troops fighting in Iraq. The Army is estimated to have only 120 general surgeons on active duty and a similar number in the reserves. It has therefore sought to keep no more than 30 to 50 general surgeons and 10 to 15 orthopedic surgeons in Iraq. Most have served in Forward Surgical Teams (FSTs) — small teams, consisting of just 20 people: 3 general surgeons, 1 orthopedic surgeon, 2 nurse anesthetists, 3 nurses, plus medics and other support personnel. In Vietnam, only 2.6 percent of the wounded soldiers who arrived at a surgical field hospital died, which meant that, despite helicopter evacuation, most deaths occurred before the injured made it to surgical care. The recent emphasis on leaner, faster-moving military units added to the imperative to push surgical teams farther forward, closer to battle. So they, too, were made leaner and more mobile — and that is their fundamental departure from previous wars.” Thanks to alert reader jgrego for sending in this interesting article from the New England Journal of Medicine. Frivolous lawsuit. “Six members of the Navy Seals and two of their wives sued The Associated Press and one of its reporters yesterday for distributing photos of the Seals that apparently show them treating Iraqi prisoners harshly.” Commentary Editorial: “Even the spinning instincts of the US administration are faltering in the face of such stark realities. In the week before Christmas 24 people died in a bomb attack inside a US army base in the northern town of Mosul while 60 others were killed in car bomb attacks in the Shia holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. George Bush, who foolishly proclaimed ‘mission accomplished’ over 18 bloody months ago, was forced to admit that the thousands of Iraqis he had hoped would take over basic security tasks from the US were simply not ready to do so. Hundreds of police and national guard recruits and serving officers have died in the past year. Many are so frightened they now routinely wear masks.” Editorial: “As thousands of wounded and injured troops return from Afghanistan and Iraq to add to a patient load of aging veterans from previous wars, overall VA funding hasn't kept pace, even as it's been increased by $10 billion. The VA in eastern Colorado got $245 million - $1 million less than in 2002.” Analysis: “This upheaval has been particularly vivid at the Pentagon, where the usual balance between civilian and military authority has been stood on its head. The American system of civilian control of the military recognizes that soldiers' attention must be fixed on winning battles and staying alive, and that the fog of war can sometimes obscure the rule of law. The civilian bosses are supposed to provide coolheaded restraint. Now America has to count on the military to step up when the civilians get out of control.” Analysis: “He has in considerable measure imposed himself on the uniformed military, but in a way they now hate. Following his ideas about a small, light and ‘agile’ force, he has made one bad tactical and organizational choice after another, with particularly devastating consequences for the army, its reserve forces, the national guard, and the marines. Their manpower resources are being exploited and wasted in a manner that could leave the services damaged and their officers alienated for a generation. This has been the result of the Bush government's total misjudgment of the Iraq situation; its refusal to enlarge the regular army; its reliance on mobilized reserve forces on extended service in what amounts to the draft of specialist veterans from civilian life; and, since the Iraq occupation turned very unpleasant, ‘stop-loss’ refusal to let people go at the end of their contracts…Iraq is now destroying the professional army the United States recruited to take the place of its citizen army. The new army was intended to serve as the unquestioning instrument of the policies of the elected administration. This administration's refusal to supply the manpower and means necessary for its vast military and political ambitions is now having its effect on that army. Its politically inspired fear of conscription, the merciless combat rotation policy and systematic use of involuntary extensions of duty its policies impose, are devastating to troops. The incoherence of its policy in the Middle East, and lack of clearly defined objectives, is deeply disquieting to the military leadership. America's military leaders once again find themselves victims of the policies of appointed ideologues and elected amateurs. As in Vietnam, they have no alternative to propose, except Dresden.” Opinion: “The transition to President Bush's second term, filled with backstage betrayals, plots and pathologies, would make for an excellent chapter of I, Claudius. To begin with, Bush has unceremoniously and without public acknowledgement dumped Brent Scowcroft, his father's closest associate and friend, as chairman of the foreign intelligence advisory board. The elder Bush's national security adviser was the last remnant of traditional Republican realism permitted to exist within the administration.” Opinion: “If Bush succeeds in perpetuating a legacy of preemptive war and right-wing domestic policies, America will never be the same again.” Opinion: “The truth no one really wants to deal with is that this war could very easily be lost by the United States. All the insurgents have to do is hang on another year. All we have to do is what the French and the British did in their colonies: Let themselves be exhausted and finally destroyed by their hubris, their delusions and their arrogant lack of understanding of the local people.” Thanks to alert reader zig for providing this link in yesterday’s comments. Casualty Reports Local story: Louisiana Guardsman dies from wounds received in Iraq. Local story: Oklahoma soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Maine Guardsman wounded in Iraq. Local story: Alabama soldier wounded in Iraq.


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

<>War News for Wednesday, December 29, 2004 Bring ‘em on: At least 29 people killed, including seven Iraqi policemen, in bombing ambush in Baghdad. About three quarters of a ton of explosives were detonated when the house was raided by police responding to an anonymous tip. Bring ‘em on: Turkish truck driver killed near Biddiyah. Female engineer and another person working for the US Army killed near Tikrit. Bring ‘em on: In addition to many deaths reported in yesterday’s post, this article lists: One US soldier and five Iraqi interior ministry commandoes wounded in bomb attack in Samarra. ING casualties in Baquba bombing increased to six killed. Two policemen killed in Shorgat. Iraqi interpreter for the US army killed and an Iraqi businessman with him kidnapped in the same area. Three Iraqi businessmen killed in Suleyman Beg. Iraqi policeman shot and wounded in Ad Dawr. Another policeman killed in Balad. Deputy provincial governor kidnapped and shot to death in Ramadi. Bring ‘em on: Renewed fighting between insurgents and US forces in Mosul, including air strikes, after a fuel truck driven by a suicide bomber exploded near an American position, no casualties reported yet. New clashes reported in Samarra. Four policemen and ING soldiers killed in Sufiyah. ING soldier killed in Siniya, where more than 100 Guardsmen walked out after their commander was killed by a car bomb along with several Guards this month. The continuing failure of the US media: The role of the media in the siege of Falluja has been nearly as extraordinary as the battle itself. The siege began on November 8, but by Nov. 15 the military had declared “victory” and the story disappeared from all the major media. It was as if the Pentagon had simply issued an edict forbidding any further coverage of the conflict, and the press left without protest. The fact is, the siege is ongoing and the final results are far from certain. A city of 250,000 has been evacuated; as many as 20,000 American servicemen have been engaged in the operation with “the largest concentration of heavy armor in one place, since the fall of Berlin”. The military is proceeding with house-to-house searches and bombing raids are still being conducted on a regular basis. The siege of Falluja continues to be a huge story, despite the fact that the establishment media is nowhere to be found. How do we explain the sudden and complete desertion of the media from the largest operation since the fall of Baghdad? Did Rumsfeld simply tell them to pack their cameras and go home? Apples to apples: In the three-week battle for Hue, 147 Marines were killed and 857 wounded. In the twin battles for Fallujah, more than 104 soldiers and Marines have been killed and more than 1,100 wounded in a battle that will continue to take lives, like the three Marines who encountered yet another pocket of fighters last week. Hue and Fallujah provide one of the best generational comparisons of combat because both battles unfolded similarly. Without controlling for any of the advances in medical technology, medical evacuation, body armor, or military technology, U.S. losses in Fallujah almost equal those of Hue. If you factor in the improvements in medical technology alone, then the fight for Fallujah was just as costly (or maybe more so) as that for Hue, as measured by the number of mortal wounds sustained by U.S. troops. The less visible toll: The psychological toll from the war in Iraq is climbing, according to new research and experts who cite the severe stress of fighting a deadly insurgency. Though the Pentagon says mental health care, including battlefield counseling, is expanding, critics counter that military suicides and post-traumatic stress disorder cases have exposed gaps in how treatment is delivered to soldiers. "There have been improvements. We have now combat stress teams in Iraq, we have programs for soldiers when they come back," said Stephen Robinson, executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center, a veterans advocacy group. "But it's still the military's dirty little secret that lives are shattered and often we don't do enough when the war is over and these people have to deal with the consequences of what they saw and did." The ever less grand Coalition: All the Ukrainian contingent will be withdrawn from Iraq before the end of 2005, Ukrainian Defence Minister Alexander Kuzmuk stated in the course of his working visit to the Nikolayev garrison. "We are planning to reduce our contingent by one battalion in 2005. One battalion was already withdrawn in the course of the latest rotation. Next April we shall send to Iraq a reinforced battalion instead of a brigade, and the withdrawal of the entire contingent will be completed before the end of the year,” the minister stated. "Detainees”: Over 350 foreigners are among about 10,000 detainees being held in US-run prisons in Iraq, Iraq's Human Rights Minister Bakhtiar Amin Over says. Mr Amin says 4,691 prisoners were being held in Camp Bucca near the southern port city of Umm Qasr, 3,411 in Abu Ghraib west of Baghdad and 818 in Al-Shuaiba British controlled Basra. He also says that 104 are being held in Camp Cropper, near Baghdad's airport, where Saddam and other so-called "high-value" detainees are located<>. Syria: Syria is responding with a mixture of bravado and denial to mounting accusations by the United States and Iraq that it's a staging ground for the Iraqi insurgency with key support coming from a half brother of Saddam Hussein and Baath Party leaders here. The United States succeeded in occupying Iraq, "but it has failed at everything else," Al-Sharaa said Monday. "The problem is that the United States had thought it was making progress in Iraq. But it started to see a change in the past two months and therefore the campaign against Syria comes within the framework of the pressure the occupation forces in Iraq feel." Other neighbors weigh in: Meanwhile, the Sunni-dominated governments of Iraq's Arab neighbors have expressed deep unease at elections expected to usher in the first Arab Shiite government. In an editorial Tuesday, the pro-government Egyptian daily Al Ahram echoed concerns Sunni Arab Iraqis would be disenfranchised, which it said would lead to more sectarian violence. Hossam Zeki, spokesman for the Cairo-based Arab League, has spoken of the potential for a "melting down of the Arab identity in Iraq." Jordan's King Abdullah II, in an interview earlier this month with The Washington Post, accused Shiite and Persian Iran of trying to influence the elections, saying Iranians were pouring into Iraq to vote. But Iran also has concerns. Iran's supreme leader has said the elections will be a sham meant to cement U.S. and British control of Iraq's resources. About two months too late: In a historic shift, a majority of Americans express the view that the U.S. made a mistake in going to war against Iraq, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll. The poll, released on Tuesday, shows that 51% now hold this view, with 48% supporting the decision to go to war. In November those numbers were virtually reversed. In January, 63% approved of the war and 35% disapproved. Casualty Reports Local story: Plant City, FL, Marine killed in Al Anbar province. Local story: Three Virginia soldiers and one Virginia sailor killed in Mosul. Local story: Minnesota soldier recovers from wounds suffered near Abu Ghraib. Local story: Gulfport, LA, Seabee killed in Mosul. Local story: Mount Clemons, MI, Marine killed in ‘non-hostile incident’ in Al Anbar province. .


Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Discussion Topic for Tuesday, December 28, 2004 Does The Bush Administration Want An Iraqi Civil War? If you start with the premise that the Busheviks invaded Iraq in order to, one, control its resources, and two, have a base to project power throughout the Middle East, then from a pure power politics perspective there are several reasons why they might think a low intensity civil war in Iraq could be advantageous. First, in a violently divided society, the small but powerful US force can tip the balance one way or another as it suits them. Second, a population fighting with itself is distracted from fighting directly against the occupiers. Third, it gives a continual excuse for intervention. So what do you think? Even for this crowd of Mayberry Machiavellis, does that idea exceed the bounds of cynicism? No, strike that, nothing is too cynical for this bunch. But does it exceed the bounds of competence? That's a tougher call. I mean, everything that has gone wrong in Iraq, everything that has increased the strains in the social fabric, that has cut the connections between different Iraqi groups, could result from ineptitude rather than from deliberate strategy. And these guys have demonstrated a magnificent, almost sublime, incompetence in everything they've tried with the exception of stealing stuff, whether resources, elections, whatever. So what do you think? Usual rules - comment on the topic here, use the comments from the news thread for news. Thanks! .

<>War News for Tuesday, December 28, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Twelve Iraqi police executed in attack in Dijla. Three policemen shot dead outside of Tikrit. Four police and an ING soldier killed in Ishaki. Local police commander assassinated in Baquba. Three ING soldiers and three civilians killed in bombing in Samarra. B<>ring ‘em on: Militants claim to have executed eight Iraqi employees of American company The Sandi Group. Five ING soldiers killed and twenty six wounded in bombing in Baquba. Five civilians killed and dozens wounded in car bombing in Muradiya. One policeman killed when gunmen attack a station in Mosul. Ten people, including three children, wounded in car bombing in Samarra. Three policemen injured in mortar attack in Mufriq. Bring ‘em on: Five Iraqi police killed and three wounded in four separate attacks on police checkpoints in Tikrit. Bring ‘em on: Six wounded in car bombing attack on ING general in Baghdad. Unfortunate message: For the military personnel on the front lines — and their families and friends — the war is exacting bitter costs. For all other Americans, even for the officials whose decisions sent the troops into battle and shaped the conditions under which they are fighting and dying, the war is imposing no discernible consequences. Like the Civil War, when a rich draftee in the North could hire a poor man to take his place, and Vietnam with its loophole-ridden draft, the Iraq war risks being stained by systemic inequity. Soldiers tend to salute not complain, but this war is straining the military so much that "volunteer service" may no longer precisely describe it. Ordinarily, the Pentagon limits each soldier to one overseas deployment every four or five years. But nearly one-third of the roughly 1 million U.S. troops who have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq have been forced to serve more than one tour of combat duty, the Boston Globe reported last month. Like his tax cuts, Bush's personnel decisions are sending the unfortunate message that no one apart from the soldiers on the ground and their families should pay any price for this war. If the cause in Iraq is as vital as Bush insists, all Americans should contribute. A pity: What puzzled many of us who had listened to Shinseki was the contrast between his emphasis on careful military planning and how shortsighted the administration was in preparing for the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath. Before the war, Shinseki's Army planners were not once consulted by Rumsfeld's office. The State Department's planning proposal for postwar Iraq was similarly ignored by the administration. It was a case of an outside group of civilian neoconservatives moving into the Pentagon and arrogantly taking over the military. Heedless of any advice to the contrary, Rumsfeld's "shock and awe" attack gained an apparent quick victory at the cost of postwar policy. Some 20 months after the fall of Baghdad, Iraq remains in pieces, with anti-American fervor strong and our military victory tarnished by a stubborn insurgency and the needless brutalities at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. If this is what Rumsfeld's idea of "transformation" has brought us, it's a pity we didn't try Shinseki's. Love this first line: U.S. President George W. Bush claims his policy is to promote democracy because democratic countries do not wage aggressive wars. Most observers think it very unlikely that democracy can be imposed on Iraq, which has no democratic traditions and is, in any case, deeply divided among the Shiite majority, a Sunni minority and a large Kurdish population. It seems improbable that full, free and fair elections can be held in Iraq on Jan. 30, as planned, even if security in the main centers of population can be assured. The best that can be hoped for is the emergence of an Iraqi regime that can claim a reasonable element of legitimacy. After all that has happened in Iraq since March 2003, it is inevitable that the new regime will be judged according to how it stands up for Iraqi rights and brings together the various elements in Iraq. It will have to be nationalist in its policies, if it is to win the backing of the Iraqi people. Above all it must not be viewed as an American puppet. It must be prepared to criticize and oppose U.S. policies if it considers them not in Iraq's national interes<>t. The Iraq you have: The Wasington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIC) said on Wednesday that the US is facing increasingly deadly attacks in Iraq because it has failed to honestly assess facts on the ground. And in a report published on the same day, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said Iraqi hostility towards the US-led "occupation" means that Washington can no longer achieve its pre-war goals. The US said its initial objective was to turn Iraq into a model for the region - a democratic, secular and free-market oriented government, sympathetic to US interests, not openly hostile towards Israel, and possibly home to long-term American military bases. "Washington has to realise - you occupy the Iraq you have, not the Iraq you might wish to have later," said Robert Malley, director of the IGC's Middle East/North Africa Programme. The Iraq Civil War Black hordes: It is unsettling that even some of Allawi's supporters are contributing to heightened tensions. They have been inciting Iraqis to a level of hatred that had previously been preached only by extremist fringe groups, and are being backed by politicians ranging well into the ranks of moderate groups. Allawi's defense minister, Hazem Shaalan, has demonized the election alliance headed by Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim. "Iran is Iraq's and the Arab world's most dangerous enemy," Shaalan told a group of American and military personnel and NATO officers in Baghdad. "We must focus all of our efforts on stopping these advancing black hordes," he said. Shaalan's words may have reminded some in his audience of Saddam's anti-Persian propaganda during the Iraq/Iran war. But the central message in Shaalan's election campaign - that the black-turbaned Shiite mullahs plan to establish a "dictatorship of Islam" -- has long been a standard argument of Washington's foreign policy hawks. Triple setback: The drive to hold nationwide elections in Iraq on Jan. 30 may have suffered a triple setback yesterday with the suicide car bombing of a major Shiite leader's residence, the withdrawal from the race by the main Sunni party and a call to boycott the elections apparently by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. U.S. and Iraqi officials hope the elections to create a new government will cool the country's simmering political passions and stanch a violent rebellion by Sunni Arabs resentful of their diminished status following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. But the six-week official campaign season appears to have raised sectarian tensions, with recent violence apparently aimed at driving the country's two Muslim sects into civil war. The ethnic card: Iraq faces the prospect of civil war as Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's government loses credibility and violence against U.S. forces increases, according to almost a half dozen former and serving administration officials. Upcoming January elections will not improve the deteriorating security situation, these sources said, all speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitiveness of the topic. Plus a new threat has arisen. "We are starting to play the ethnic card in Iraq, just as the Soviets played it in Afghanistan," said former CIA chief of Afghanistan operation Milt Bearden. "You only play it when you're losing and by playing it, you simply speed up the process of losing," he said. These Are The Real Americans Families of US troops killed in the offensive on the Iraqi city of Fallujah are to travel to Jordan next week with $600,000 worth of humanitarian aid for refugees. The November assault on Fallujah left 71 US military dead, according to the families, and the Iraqi government said more than 2 000 Iraqis had been killed. "This delegation is a way for me to express my sympathy and support for the Iraqi people," said Rosa Suarez of Escondido in California. "The Iraqi war took away my son's life, and it has taken away the lives of so many innocent Iraqis. It is time to stop the killing and to help the children of Iraq" Regardless of their religious affiliations, these people have more of the true spirit of Christianity in their eyelashes than you can find in the entire so-called religious right. Casualty Reports Local story: Oklahoma soldier wounded in Mosul. Local story: Lincoln County, MT, Marine killed in Al Anbar province. Local story: Loyal, WI, National Guardsman killed in Samarra. Local story: Camp Marez bids farewell to four soldiers killed in mess hall bombing. .


Monday, December 27, 2004

<>War News for Monday, December 27, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Fifteen Iraqis killed and at least 50 wounded by car bomb outside the home of the head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the country's most powerful Shiite political group. One US soldier killed and another wounded in roadside bomb explosion in Samarra. Bring ‘em on: Five Iraqi officials killed in three separate assassination attacks. Three US soldiers injured in roadside bombing of a military convoy in Mosul. (scroll down). <>Bring ‘em on: One of Turkey’s richest businessmen and an employee kidnapped in vicinity of Basra. Professor at Baghdad University's medical school shot dead on Haifa street. Governor of eastern Diyala province attacked by roadside bomb, four wounded. Bring ‘em on: Twenty one ING soldiers abducted between Haditha and Qaim. Five policemen found shot dead in Ramadi. Let’s hope it never goes badly: Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff, made a surprise visit to a small group of soldiers here at Forward Operating Base Danger and said in an interview that the war in Iraq was "going pretty well." Schoomaker was the third top Pentagon official to visit troops here in recent days. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld stopped in Tikrit during his whirlwind Christmas Eve tour on Friday, and Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ushered a USO troupe through Iraq earlier this month. A Brief Pause to Shake Our Heads in Amazement: So…the war in Iraq is “going pretty well.” Uh…ok. I guess the only question that needs to be asked is, ‘For who?’ We can probably rule out the 27 dead, 58 wounded and 23 kidnapped people in the ‘Bring ‘em on’ section... So who’s it going so 'pretty well' for? Let’s look at the news and find out! Probably not these guys: "Adam" is supposed to be the Iraqi face at a key U.S. military checkpoint south of Baghdad, but he is so fearful for his life that he wears a black ski mask to hide his identity. Dressed in camouflage fatigues, he is part of an army of translators that serves as a vital link for occupiers short on Arab speakers needed for manning roadblocks, mounting patrols and interrogating suspects<>. But because of their highly visible jobs, they also face an especially high risk from Iraqi insurgents who have branded them traitors and collaborators and marked them for death. These guys might not see it that way either: Members of the fledgling Iraqi army and the Iraqi National Guard, who are stationed with U.S. soldiers at this heavily fortified outpost in western Mosul, have come under new suspicion after a man apparently dressed in an Iraqi security forces uniform detonated a bomb in a crowded dining hall Tuesday, killing 22 people and wounding dozens. As difficult as it is for the Americans who work with them, the Iraqis clearly face even more danger from insurgents. While the U.S. military scrambles to make sure all its vehicles in Iraq are armored, no such plan is in place for Iraqi security forces, who drive soft-skinned Jeeps or crowd into the backs of small pickups. Americans use high-tech weapons, while the Iraqis are armed with old-school Russian AK-47s, some held together with duct tape. Iraqi troops were on patrols last month when the first of many bodies of their own security forces began turning up along major roadways. Dozens of Iraqi soldiers quit that first day, according to their commander, and many have since fled. Iraqi soldiers in Mosul said they had friends who were killed by insurgents and had been threatened themselves. One said he disguises himself on patrols and when he goes home; others don't go home at all anymore. National Guard Sgt. Mahday Khalil has seen bodies of his comrades in the streets. Still, he and his friends stay in the national guard, he said, "because we have nothing else to do." <>Or these: While many Texas families spent Sunday snapping up post-Christmas bargains, nearly 500 soldiers on this post enjoyed a last meal with their loved ones before shipping out for a year in Iraq<>. Most of the soldiers are Army reservists assigned to the 228th Combat Support Hospital. Their ranks include doctors, nurses, X-ray technicians and other medical support specialists<>. They are ultimately heading to two of Iraq's most dangerous areas: the northern city of Mosul and Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown in the so-called Sunni Triangle. <> Maybe Schoomaker just, you know, redefined ‘going pretty well’: In a week that saw the deadliest single attack on Americans in Iraq - and the first major US contractor to pull out - more and more military experts are warning that drastic changes are needed to both US strategy and American public expectations if there's to be success there. Steps once potentially capable of turning the situation around "in all likelihood" would now fail, the ICG says in its new report. "If the [Bush] administration does not take the measure of what has changed ... it may well meet its desired end-date, but at the cost of a highly dangerous end-state." The US hopes Iraq will adopt a new constitution and elect a full legislature by the end of 2005<>. "Part of the effort has to be to redefine what success means,'' says Malley at ICG. "The original notion that Iraq was going to be a model for the region, of open government, of a liberal, free-market economy, isn't an achievable goal anymore."<> Or maybe this made him feel more confident: The only country in the Western Hemisphere besides the United States still fielding soldiers in the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq may extend its troop deployment beyond a scheduled return early next year, El Salvador's president said Saturday<>. Salvadoran forces have been in Iraq since August 2003, with 380 troops currently serving there. The contingent is scheduled to come home in February after a six-month tour.<> Now, these guys might agree with him: The deadly suicide attack on a US military base in Mosul this week was an "inside job" carried out by insurgents who are part of the Iraqi armed forces, Asia Times Online has been told.<> Sources said a strong nexus between Iraqi forces and the resistance is what allowed them to carry out the most devastating attack on US troops since the beginning of the invasion. US forces have imposed a curfew in Mosul and have launched a military operation in the city, but, the sources say, this will have little effect on the problem, for the simple reason that the US-trained Iraqi military is heavily infected with people loyal to the resistance groups.<> But wait! I found it! Hey, it is going pretty well after all!: The United States is helping the interim Iraqi government continue to make major economic changes, including cuts to social subsidies, full access for U.S. companies to the nation's oil reserves and reconsideration of oil deals that the previous regime signed with France and Russia. During a visit here this week, officials of the U.S.-backed administration detailed some of the economic moves planned for Iraq, many of them appearing to give U.S. corporations greater reach into the occupied nation's economy. For example, the current leadership is looking at privatizing the Iraqi National Oil Company, said Finance Minister Adil Abdel Mahdi<>. The government, which is supposed to be replaced after elections scheduled for January, will also pass a new law that will further open Iraq's huge oil reserves to foreign companies. U.S. firms are expected to gain the lion's share of access in a process estimated to be worth billions of dollars.<> That would explain the ‘explosions of joy and relief’…well, explosions, at least: Meanwhile, the words of the Bush regime's third wise man, Paul Wolfowitz, resonate. Set the Wayback Machine to March 24, 2003: Wolfowitz is being interviewed by the BBC during the invasion of Iraq. Asked about the U.S. "preparation for what comes after," Wolfowitz replies: "The focus has got to be on removing this criminal regime. Until the regime is gone it's going to be very hard to do anything. Even in cities that are liberated. I think when the people of Basra no longer feel the threat of that regime, you are going to see an explosion of joy and relief." Fast forward to April 21, 2004, when five car bombs exploded simultaneously in Basra during rush-hour traffic, killing dozens of people, including 20 children. Exactly how many Iraq civilians died isn't known because, as General Tommy Franks noted, "We don't do body counts." Some Polling Related Item<>s Shi'a opinion: Iraq's election body rejected a suggestion in Washington it adjust the results of next month's vote to benefit the Sunni minority if low turnout in Sunni areas means Shi'ites win an exaggerated majority in the new assembly. Speaking of "unacceptable" interference, Electoral Commission spokesman Farid Ayar said: "Who wins, wins. That is the way it is. That is the way it will be in the election." Kurdish opinion: M<>ore than 1.7 million Iraqi Kurds have signed a petition calling for a referendum on independence<>. A Referendum Movement in Kurdistan spokesman says a delegation from their organisation has travelled to the United Nations headquarters in New York to hand over the petition.<> Australian opinion: Amid continuing carnage in strife-torn Iraq – and just days after a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including 19 US soldiers, near Mosul – a clear majority of Australians now believe last year's invasion was not worth the effort<>. Just 32 per cent of the community believe John Howard's decision to send troops into Iraq was justified, according to a Newspoll conducted exclusively for The Australian. This represents a steep fall from the 46 per cent surveyed in February who believed Australia's war effort was justified. <>Commentar<>y Opinion: So let's be absolutely clear: the US, having broken Iraq, is not in the process of fixing it. It is merely continuing to break the country and its people by other means, using not only F-16s and Bradleys, but now the less flashy weaponry of WTO and IMF conditions, followed by elections designed to transfer as little power to Iraqis as possible. This is what Argentinian writer Rodolfo Walsh, writing before his assassination in 1977 by the military junta, described as "planned misery". And the longer the US stays in Iraq, the more misery it will plan.<> Opinion: A great deal has been written about the failure of military strategy in Iraq, but an even more important reason for the failure of the occupation has barely been discussed: the coalition's economic strategy. Following the Second World War, the Allied forces understood that fascism arose in conditions of unemployment, poverty and desperation. That's why there was a massive effort to reflate the German economy; by early 1947, unemployment was down to 10 per cent. In Iraq today, unemployment stands at an incredible 60 per cent. For young Sunni men - the main recruiting pool for the insurgency - it has soared to 80 per cent. This is a recipe for rage and rebellion<>. It would be bad enough if the coalition had simply done nothing to reflate and re-energize the Iraqi economy. Incredibly, the truth is even worse: they have imposed on Iraq a program of ultra-neoliberal reforms that have brought economic collapse to every country they have been inflicted upon. Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prize-winning economist and dissident former chief economist at the World Bank, describes the economic policies of the coalition as "a proven and predictable catastrophe". They imposed a form of capitalism more extreme than anything tried in a democratic country: immediate privatization of almost all services (without any debate), non-competitive contracts, and a 15 per cent flat tax. This is not democracy. It is market fundamentalism.<> Opinion: The war in Iraq was the result of powerful government figures imposing their dangerous fantasies on the world. The fantasies notably included the weapons of mass destruction, the links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, the throngs of Iraqis hurling kisses and garlands at the invading Americans, and the spread of American-style democracy throughout the Middle East. All voices of caution were ignored and the fantasies were allowed to prevail<>. The world is not a video game, although it must seem like it at times to the hubristic, hermetically sealed powerbrokers in Washington who manipulate the forces that affect the lives of so many millions of people in every region of the planet. That kind of power calls for humility, not arrogance, and should be wielded wisely, not thoughtlessly and impulsively<>. This latest overreach by Mr. Rumsfeld is a sign that the administration, like a hardheaded adolescent, has learned little or nothing from the tragic consequences of its wrongheaded policies. The second term is coming, so buckle up. It promises to be a very dangerous four years.<> Casualty Report<>s Local story: Three Maine soldiers wounded in insurgent attack in Mosul. Local story: Denham Springs, LA, National Guardsman killed in Baghdad. Local story: Two Maine Army National Guard soldiers killed in Mosul.<> Local story: Porstmouth, ME, soldier survives blast in Mosul. .


Sunday, December 26, 2004

War News for Sunday, December 26, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Iraqi police colonel assassinated in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqis killed in car bomb attack against US convoy in Najaf. Bring ‘em on: Five Iraqis killed by roadside bomb near Samarra. Bring ‘em on: Muslim scholar killed in US raid in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: ING convoy ambushed in Mosul. Bring ‘em on: US troops wounded in car bomb attack near Beiji. Commentary Editorial: “If Rumsfeld's assessment of the war's duration is correct, all Americans must accept the reality of their husbands, wives, sons, daughters, fathers and mothers not coming home. At the very least, the president and Rumsfeld, the chief architect of this war, need to be more truthful about what's going on in Iraq. A war that had overwhelming support among Americans just a year ago is now widely unpopular. A majority of those surveyed think it was a mistake, and that number is growing with each casualty report. No, there isn't an easy way out. This is going to be very painful, for a long time.” Opinion: “In a war against insurgents, you cannot always tell a combatant from a noncombatant, which is one reason for the confusion about the number of civilian victims in Iraq. Most guesses range between 10,000 and 20,000, though other estimates run much higher. The British medical journal Lancet recently suggested the total may be close to 100,000. Remember, though, that almost half the population of Iraq is 18 years old or younger. Whatever the overall number of civilian casualties turns out to be, it will include an awful lot of children.” Opinion: “We have made a disaster in Iraq. We cannot escape from all of its consequences. But the human consequences of staying—the Iraqi civilians we will kill, the young American men and women alive this minute who will die or be maimed in body or mind—are worse than the political consequences of withdrawing. In any case, the political consequences are notional, as weighed against the certainty of death, suffering, and grief. In our own eyes, our prestige diminished after we withdrew from Vietnam, but our international position was not weakened. Asked for the hundredth time why we were in Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson, according to Arthur Goldberg, his U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, "unzipped his fly, drew out his substantial organ, and declared, 'This is why!'" In Iraq as in Vietnam, at risk is not America's prestige but the President's. No one should have to die to save George W. Bush's face.” Opinion: “One must support the troops, I am told. I certainly support the troops the best way possible: Bring them home, get them out of a war for which the planning was inadequate, the training nonexistent, the goal obscure, and the equipment and especially the armor for their vehicles inferior. They are brave men and women who believe they are fighting to defend their country and have become sitting ducks for fanatics. Those who die are the victims of the big lie. They believe that they are fighting to prevent another terror attack on the United States. They are not the war criminals. The ‘Vulcans,’ as the Bush foreign policy team calls itself, are the criminals, and they ought to face indictment as war criminals.” Thanks to alert reader bob for posting this link. Analysis: “What puzzled many of us who had listened to Shinseki was the contrast between his emphasis on careful military planning and how shortsighted the administration was in preparing for the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath. Before the war, Shinseki's Army planners were not once consulted by Rumsfeld's office. The State Department's planning proposal for postwar Iraq was similarly ignored by the administration. It was a case of an outside group of civilian neoconservatives moving into the Pentagon and arrogantly taking over the military. Heedless of any advice to the contrary, Rumsfeld's ‘shock and awe’ attack gained an apparent quick victory at the cost of postwar policy. Some 20 months after the fall of Baghdad, Iraq remains in pieces, with anti-American fervor strong and our military victory tarnished by a stubborn insurgency and the needless brutalities at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. If this is what Rumsfeld's idea of ‘transformation’ has brought us, it's a pity we didn't try Shinseki's.” Casualty Reports Local story: Virginia soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Wyoming soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Florida airman wounded in Iraq. Rant of the Day I’ve never heard of this writer before I read this piece in today’s LA Times. The author, Mark Kramer of Harvard University, argues that the Soviets almost “won” the Soviet-Afghan War, and a decisive military victory was within reach of the Red Army but for the Gorbachev’s lack of will to pursue the war.
“The announcement in 1988 by then-Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev that forces would be withdrawn from Afghanistan within a year was a political and diplomatic decision, not a military one. The ‘bleeding wound’ that Gorbachev described was not primarily Russian but Afghan. During the nine years of fighting, more than 2.5 million Afghans (mostly civilians) were killed or maimed; millions more were displaced or forced into exile. By contrast, 14,453 Soviet troops were killed, an average of 1,600 a year. This was not a trivial number, but certainly sustainable for the Soviet army, which numbered more than 4 million.”
Sound familiar? To me, this sounds remarkably similar to the revisionist historians at conservative think tanks who crunch numbers and conclude that Vietnam was a “winnable” conflict but for the lack of will on the part of American political leaders. Worse, there’s something morally bankrupt when you compare combatant and non-combatant casualty rates and conclude this kind of attrition was “sustainable.” And it only gets worse.
“When Soviet generals shifted, in mid-1983, to a counterinsurgency strategy of scorched-earth tactics and the use of heavily armed special operations forces, their progress against the guerrillas accelerated. Over the next few years, the Soviets increased their control of Afghanistan, inflicting many casualties — guerrilla and civilian. Had it not been for the immense support — weapons, training, materials — provided to the Afghan guerrillas by the United States, Saudi Arabia, China and Pakistan, Soviet troops would have achieved outright victory.”
“Scorched earth” is a viable counterinsurgency strategy? Well, I suppose that’s how the Romans nipped that nasty Carthaginian insurgency in the bud. But isn’t this policy counter-productive if your objective is something other than a semi-genocidal suppression of a hostile population? The author certainly suggests America has a loftier purpose in Iraq as he applies the lessons of the Soviet-Afghan War to the American occupation of Iraq:
“What relevance does the Soviet-Afghan war have for U.S. military operations in Iraq? Very little. Soviet troops did not invade and occupy Afghanistan to oust a brutal dictator or promote democratic elections. They simply aimed to install a friendly communist regime in Kabul. The number of Soviet troops never exceeded 120,000 at any time, but they eventually laid waste to the entire country.”
First he says the Soviet experience in Afghanistan has “very little” relevance, but then he tells us:
“The Soviet-Afghan war's main relevance to the U.S. campaign in Iraq is operational. The Soviet experience underscored the crucial importance of intelligence in fighting an insurgency, an advantage the U.S. continues to lack in Iraq. It also highlighted the enormous potential of attack and transport helicopters that can strike deep in enemy territory, and it reaffirmed the value of small, flexible units of heavily armed special operations forces that are capable of carrying out rapid strikes. Most important, the Soviet war demonstrated that the Afghan guerrillas were not invincible and that well-designed counterinsurgency operations can inflict grave damage on, and spread turmoil among, the enemy.”
It seems to me that the Soviets inflicted far more damage and turmoil on the civilian population than on the Afghan mujahadeen. This next piece also seems misleading:
“When the last Soviet troops left Afghanistan in February 1989, the situation on the ground was relatively favorable to Moscow, in part because the Soviet air force conducted sustained bombing raids to cover the withdrawal. Aided by huge inflows of Soviet weaponry, Kabul's staunchly pro-Soviet regime led by President Najibullah remained in power for the next three years. The regime's durability represented a notable success for the Soviet war effort. Only after the Soviet Union collapsed and the new Russian government cut off military aid to Afghanistan did Najibullah fall.”
Until the Kabul fell to the Taliban, Najibullah’s regime controlled a steadily shrinking perimeter of Afghan territory until only Kabul remained in government hands. The rest of the country was controlled by insurgents, Taliban forces or murderous warlords. I hope I’m confused. I hope I’ve misread the author’s intent. I hope he isn’t suggesting that a noble end justifies a dastardly means. Because if that’s his point, the man’s a fool teaching foolishness to a generation of America’s future leaders. Any enterprise, however noble, will end in disaster if you hope to achieve it with evil means.


Saturday, December 25, 2004

War News for Christmas Day, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Twelve Iraqis killed, 15 wounded by exploding fuel truck in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Tribal sheik assassinated near Sadiyah. Bring ‘em on: Police station and governor’s mansion mortared near Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Insurgents storm and demolish mayor’s office in Ramadi. Bring ‘em on: Provincial governor survives assassination attempt between Baquba and Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Professor of medicine assassinated in Baghdad. Disposition and composition of wounded from attack at FOB Marez. It's no fun if you have a plan. “As a result of the failure to produce a plan, Wilson asserts, the U.S. military lost the dominant position in Iraq in the summer of 2003 and has been scrambling to recover ever since. ‘In the two to three months of ambiguous transition, U.S. forces slowly lost the momentum and the initiative . . . gained over an off-balanced enemy,’ he writes. ‘The United States, its Army and its coalition of the willing have been playing catch-up ever since.’” Rummy. “Although a Pentagon spokesman said Rumsfeld's trip had been planned ‘for some time’ and holiday visits to troops in conflict zones are customary, one Capitol Hill aide, who asked not to be named, said that Rumsfeld seemed to regard the visit as ‘Image Rehab 101.’ He noted that Rumsfeld also went to Iraq after the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal broke in May.” Help is on the way. “Armenia's parliament voted Friday to send 46 non-combat troops to Iraq, a move that was backed by President Robert Kocharian but drew sharp criticism from many Armenians and opposition groups.” Consolation prize. “Contrack International Inc., which this week became the first major American company to withdraw from Iraq reconstruction work because of violence there, was awarded a $63.9 million Army construction contract in Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced late Thursday.” More progress. “One of the oldest U.S. overseas relief organizations has called for the United States to immediately withdraw from Iraq in light of the continuing carnage and Washington's failure to restore basic services or revive the country's economy.” Commentary Editorial: “On this traditional day of joy, please pause to meditate, if for just a few moments, on the many young Americans who have given so much, and continue to give, in service to our nation -- to us. And then send a prayer or thought of thanksgiving for their sacrifice. It is such a great sacrifice.” Opinion: “Shortly after the horrific attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we as a nation channeled a righteous rage into a firm resolve to take the fight to our enemies. Regrettably, rage and resolve now appear to be turning, ever so surely, to blind hate -- in its typically irrational and self-destructive form. This transformation deepens and widens with the death of every U.S. servicemember in battle -- or in a mess tent in Mosul. You can see it in comments on the petition I mentioned (‘This Marine deserves a medal, not the boot! Nice head shot!’ read one.). You can hear it on talk radio; you likely sense it in fragments of passing conversation as you go through your day. And when we nod our heads in approval, make no mistake, we dehumanize ourselves.” Casualty Reports Local story: Louisiana soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: California soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Virginia soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Tennessee soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Maryland soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: New Hampshire soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Colorado Marine wounded in Iraq. Monkey Mail! From: TIMinPHOENIX@aol.com To: yankeedoodle@gmail.com You are a happy little pornographer who loves trafficking in the images and stories of men and women killed in this war. Oh, you may do it under some faux concern about them, but at heart it's obvious you delight at each death. I have had the honor of leading Marines. The lowest ranking private understands the concept of honor and sacrifice. You wouldn't be worthy of filling his canteen. Like any good liberal, it's all about you, the world revolves around you. And from this elitist viewpoint all you do is bitch and moan. You never show true support, you only seek to demoralize and demean a mission, that if successful could change the face of the Middle East forever. You are a petty small little bitch in the scheme of things. I'll let you go jerk off now to whatever pictures you have gotten today of our war dead. You are filth. Tim Estes Phoenix Timmy can’t handle the truth about his hero Lieutenant AWOL so he calls me a ”pornographer.” I’m surprised the stupid fucker didn’t call me an “abortionist,” too. Obviously this right-wing dildo never read this blog before he opened his cake-hole, because I've never posted a picture of an American or Iraqi casualty. I wouldn't be surprised if he's lying about his military service, too. Run along and play with your Dubya doll, toe cheese. YD CW4, USA (Ret.)


Friday, December 24, 2004

War News for Friday, December 24, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Three US Marines killed fighting in al-Anbar province. Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed, two wounded by roadside bomb in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Heavy fighting resumes in Fallujah. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi civilians killed in Baghdad mortar attack. Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi policeman killed, one wounded in Baghdad mortar attack. Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi policeman assassinated near Baquba. Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi killed by IED in Basra. Bring ‘em on: Insurgents attack two police stations in Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Tribal chief assassinated, ING soldier killed by roadside bomb in two incidents near Tikrit. Bring ‘em on: Oil pipeline sabotaged near Beiji. Bring ‘em on: Three ING soldiers killed by suicide bomber near Latifiyah. Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqis killed in RPG attack on fuel tanker near Mahmoudiyah. One US Marine killed in vehicle accident in al-Anbar province. Al-Anbar police chief resigns, Ramadi “effectively” under insurgent control. Mosul. “Insurgents have been able to ‘operate at will’ in Mosul, where 22 people died in a bomb attack this week, because the US forces and the Iraqi authorities have failed to tackle them, an intelligence assessment by senior US officials in northern Iraq concludes. The report, seen by the Guardian yesterday, was drafted before this week's suicide attack on the mess tent at Camp Merez.” Fallujah. “Families of US troops killed in the offensive on the Iraqi city of Fallujah are to travel to Jordan next week with 600,000 dollars worth of humanitarian aid for refugees of the attack. The November assault on Fallujah left 71 US military dead, according to the families, and the Iraqi government said more than 2,000 Iraqis were killed. ‘This delegation is a way for me to express my sympathy and support for the Iraqi people,’ said Rosa Suarez of Escondido in California.” The American media. “I was watching an American TV channel yesterday, while a discussion was on about the killings in Mosul and elsewhere in Iraq, in which several Americans were killed in recent days. I was amazed that the analysts who participated in the discussion were talking without having any knowledge about the ground realities in Iraq. Then, what’s the analysis, after all?” Hungary completes troop withdrawal from Iraq. Progress report. “Energy shortages of every stripe bedevil this country, which sits atop the world's second-largest petroleum reserves. Electricity shuts off for whole days. Prices of scarce cooking fuel have risen nine-fold. And gas lines this month reached new lengths, creating yet another venue for violence. At least two men have been killed in Baghdad over places in line or allegations of watering down the goods.” Rummy’s Army. “Members of a second National Guard unit that prepared for duty in Iraq at the Army's Fort Bliss compound have come forward with allegations that they were not adequately trained. The soldiers said in interviews, e-mails and official documents that they were sent to war earlier this year with chronic illness, broken guns and trucks with blown transmissions. The unit's M-60 machine guns reportedly were in such bad condition when the soldiers deployed in February that one sergeant -- in a section of a post-training summary sent to his commanders that was titled ‘gun maintenance’ -- wrote: ‘Perhaps we should throw stones?’ … The document in which the sergeant summarized his unit's training is known as an After-Action Review -- or AAR -- and is fairly common in the military. This one was widely disseminated among Company F soldiers, five of whom said it accurately outlined concerns shared by the entire unit. The soldiers said the document was sent to commanders at Fort Bliss and the Pentagon.” Commentary Editorial: “Thanks to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and other human rights groups, thousands of pages of government documents released this month have confirmed some of the painful truths about the abuse of foreign detainees by the U.S. military and the CIA -- truths the Bush administration implacably has refused to acknowledge. Since the publication of photographs of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in the spring the administration's whitewashers -- led by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld -- have contended that the crimes were carried out by a few low-ranking reservists, that they were limited to the night shift during a few chaotic months at Abu Ghraib in 2003, that they were unrelated to the interrogation of prisoners and that no torture occurred at the Guantanamo Bay prison where hundreds of terrorism suspects are held. The new documents establish beyond any doubt that every part of this cover story is false.” This WaPo editorial is entitled “War Crimes.” Editorial: “If Bush is determined to see U.S. military personnel is sufficiently equipped, that priority must be tied to ensuring the Jan. 30 election goes on. Rumsfeld has become a liability in that effort. He should either resign or be fired.” Analysis: “The culture of lies that Rumsfeld has developed in the Dept of Defense reflects his belief that the people should be left in the dark when it comes to matters of state. (Choreographed incidents, like the Jessica Lynch story or the toppling of Saddam’s statue in Fidros Square, fall under the psy-ops rubric) It’s not difficult to find proof that the Pentagon is intentionally lying to the public. An article by Mark Mazzetti of the LA Times states that, ‘the decision by commanders in Iraq in mid-September to combine public affairs, psychological operations and information operations into a "strategic communications" office.’ Psy-ops and information operations? In other words, the military has integrated public affairs (PA) which includes the daily briefings from Iraq, with information operations (IO).” Analysis: “While insurgents in Iraq have placed informants inside the Iraqi government, the U.S. and Iraqi militaries, coalition contractors, and international news organizations, the United States is having serious intelligence problems in Iraq, according to sources inside and outside the U.S. government. The CIA and the U.S. military were slow to start creating intelligence networks in Iraq and have had trouble developing informants because of death threats to Iraqis and their families should they get involved, the sources said.” Opinion: “When you ask these soldiers what they're fighting for, they don't give very complicated answers. Some mention Iraqis they've met and say they want to give them a chance to rebuild the country. Others talk about the ‘bad guys’ who are attacking U.S. and Iraqi troops. A few are openly skeptical about the war. Among troops in Baghdad in July, bootleg copies of Michael Moore's antiwar film, ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ were making the rounds. But the most common sentiment you hear, which is probably the core motivation for soldiers in every war, is that they're fighting for their buddies so they'll all get through alive.” Opinion: “Archbishop Romero was murdered on March 24, 1980, because he chose to stand with El Salvador's poor against a repressive regime. ‘Brothers, you came from our own people,’ Romero told soldiers in El Salvador's army. ‘You are killing your own brothers. . . . In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cry rises to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you: Stop the repression.’ How many among the cardinals and bishops and pastors and preachers and televangelists who now enjoy favor in high places would have the courage to do what Archbishop Romero did? In fairness, how many of the rest of us would? Isn't that a question of values?” Opinion: “We have completely lost our way with this fiasco in Iraq. The president seems almost perversely out of touch. ‘The idea of democracy taking hold in what was a place of tyranny and hatred and destruction is such a hopeful moment in the history of the world,’ he said this week. The truth, of course, is that we can't even secure the road to the Baghdad airport, or protect our own troops lining up for lunch inside a military compound. The coming elections are a slapstick version of democracy. International observers won't even go to Iraq to monitor the elections because it's too dangerous. They'll be watching, as if through binoculars, from Jordan.” Terrorism 101, from dKos. Alert reader pedro provided this link in yesterday's comments. Casualty Reports Local story: California soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Virginia Guardsman killed in Iraq. Local story: Louisiana soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: West Virginia soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Mississippi sailor killed in Iraq. Local story: Pennsylvania Guardsman killed in Iraq. Local story: Illinois Marine dies in Iraq. Local story: Six Maine Guardsmen wounded in Iraq. Local story: Oregon soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Oregon contractor killed in Iraq. Local story: Alabama contractor killed in Iraq. Local story: Texas contractor killed in Iraq. Local story: Two Filipino contractors wounded in Iraq.


Thursday, December 23, 2004

Discussion Thread for Friday, December 24, 2004 Here's a new thread to keep you all going till we get a post up. Keep the news coming, there sure is a lot going on. And if you need a talk topic, how about them elections? Are they going to happen? Should they be delayed? Is there any possibility they will be considered legitimate by the Iraqi people? And what happens afterward? Speculate away... .


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

War News for Wednesday, December 22, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Nineteen US soldiers and seven contractors killed, at least 60 wounded in attack on Camp Marez southwest of Mosul. Camp Marez: For days all over this barren base, red ribbons, artificial Christmas trees and cutouts of smiling Santas have sprouted like tiny oases among the dust-covered Humvees and drab concrete bomb shelters. Now, as soldiers wait anxiously for the Internet servers to go back on so they can assure loved ones they're sound if not safe, Christmas looms more as a hurdle than a holiday. With one cruel blow, the insurgents who prowl outside the perimeter of this godforsaken place hijacked a rare chance for true celebration and set it on a collision course with yet another round of tearful eulogies, another set of gut-wrenching final roll calls. Fallujah: What the images of Phantom Fury did not convey is that this assault was the largest concentration of heavy armor in one place, since the fall of Berlin. This was the first time since World War II that "an American armored task force" has been turned "loose in a city with no restrictions". The assault has left as many as 10,000 civilian dead--perhaps much much more . The Red Cross/Red Crescent estimate was upwards of 6000 as of November 25th. Till date no formal Red Cross/Red Crescent operation has been allowed in the city. Many thanks to alert reader ClonedPoster for finding this story. Camp Marez: The dining hall, a large tent which was shielded by towering concrete walls but had no protected roof, should have been replaced by a fortified building in time for Christmas. The BBC's James Reynolds, who was embedded with US troops at the base last month, says the dining hall has always been seen as vulnerable. A US army colonel had told him he feared what would happen if insurgents managed to fire rockets into it. Fallujah: For example, the military unit I was with, I mean, the operation in Fallujah involved largely Marines, but also some army elements. I was with one of those elements. The way they proceeded through the city, given that there was booby-traps, improvised explosive devices, riddling the streets everywhere. Entire houses were rigged to blow. The way they proceeded was what they call “Reconnaissance by Fire.” If you’re going to go down a street first you scour it for any potential danger. How do you do that? You do it with a 25mm cannon on an armoured Bradley fighting vehicle. Or you do it with one 20mm tank round. Just blow up everything that looks vaguely suspicious. Then if someone shoots at you from a building, or there’s an explosion near a vehicle, don’t mess with it. Don’t go into the building looking for the guy… just level the building. And then go through the rubble afterwards. This is from an interview with Michael Ware, the Baghdad Bureau Chief for Time Magazine. It’s an eye opener. Thanks to alert reader Zig for the catch. Camp Marez: As of yesterday, it was unclear what caused the mess-tent explosion. Mortar and rocket attacks, though frequent, are notoriously inaccurate. They also are hard to stop, since they often are launched by insurgents who never stay in one place for long and operate in the thick of civilian populations, according to soldiers who have served at the base. Another possibility is that an explosive device was somehow set off inside the base, which also is used by Iraqi troops. Throughout the past year, the reliability of Iraqi forces has been a frequent source of concern for U.S. commanders in the Mosul area. Fallujah: A lot of the time the houses were severely damaged in that process because one of the cardinal rules of the American occupation of Iraq is called “force protection”. The whole idea is that you limit the number of casualties that you take and the number of casualties that you make is immaterial. I think what you’ll find the assault on Fallujah did was broaden the insurrection, not necessarily in terms of getting people who lived in other places to become more angry about the occupation, I don’t think that’s possible at the moment - there’s a level of disagreement with the occupation that cannot be improved upon - but what it did was disperse a lot of people who were actively involved in the insurgency to other places and I think that as we’ve seen recently the number of incidents as we progress towards the elections of which of course the assault on Fallujah was the start of the pacification process for those elections. What has happened is that the number of incidents has risen dramatically as a result of displacing the insurgents from Fallujah into other parts of the country as far north as Mosul, which is some 4 hours drive away. Another excellent interview with an embedded reporter. Thanks to alert reader sonofhades for finding it. Fort Lewis: A pall seemed to descend, like the gray, drizzling rain, over this Army post, home to 6,700 soldiers deployed to Iraq, as the wait began yesterday to identify those killed and wounded in the most deadly attack of the war for U.S. troops. "It doesn't hurt any more or less than any other time of the year," Lt. Col. Bill Costello, the post's spokesman, said yesterday of the Christmastime attack on a tent full of troops and civilian workers eating lunch in Mosul, which is temporary home to thousands of Fort Lewis soldiers. And a Merry Christmas to you, Lt. Col. Bill Costello, and all those whom you love. Somewhere in the Green Zone: On the day of a deadly attack against US troops, Iraq’s finance minister said he saw signs of improvement in his country’s security. Adil Abdel-Mahdi, a leading Shiite politician, said the provisional Iraqi government was trying to improve security for foreign investors and workers. He said conditions are ”much better than before” as a result of the US-led mission last month to drive insurgents out of the Sunni-dominated city of Fallujah. Iraq: Just before the November election, the British medical journal The Lancet released the results of an on-the-ground survey that produced an extremely rough estimate of as many as 100,000 Iraqis killed since the beginning of the Iraq war, mostly by U.S. military action. In the U.S. press, it was a two- or three-day story, much of that coverage devoted to skepticism about the researchers' methodology. In the Texas press, the estimate didn't merit even that much coverage – no need to debunk the study if you avoid all mention of it. Nothing much has changed since Nov. 3 – the matter of Iraqi deaths, except insofar as they can be directly blamed on insurgents, is presumed to be of little U.S. public interest. Iraq: Lack of security and fear of kidnapping make Iraqi women prisoners in their own homes. They witness the looting of their country by Halliburton, Bechtel, US NGOs, missionaries, mercenaries and local subcontractors, while they are denied clean water and electricity. In the land of oil, they have to queue five hours a day to get kerosene or petrol. Acute malnutrition has doubled among children. Unemployment at 70% is exacerbating poverty, prostitution, backstreet abortion and honour killing. Corruption and nepotism are rampant in the interim government. Al-Naqib, minister of interior admitted that he had appointed 49 of his relatives to high-ranking jobs, but only because they were qualified. Tony Blair, acknowledged yesterday in Baghdad that violence would continue both before and after the January 30 elections, but added: "On the other hand we will have a very clear expression of democratic will." Does he not know that "democracy" is what Iraqi women use nowadays to frighten their naughty children, by shouting: "Quiet, or I'll call democracy." American Moral Leadership Urgent report: The FBI memos were made public by the ACLU on Monday. One heavily redacted June 25 FBI memo, titled "URGENT REPORT" to the FBI director, provided details from someone "who observed serious physical abuses of civilian detainees" in Iraq. "He described that such abuses included strangulation, beatings, placement of lit cigarettes into the detainees ear openings, and unauthorized interrogations," the document stated. The memo also mentioned "cover-up of these abuses." More horror stories: In July, Army criminal investigators were reviewing "the alleged rape of a juvenile male detainee at Abu Ghraib prison." It was not clear whether the incident was related to a previous report of a boy who was raped by a contractor. Other agents gave more details of alleged abuses. In a June instance, an agent from the Washington field office reported that an Abu Ghraib detainee complained he was cuffed and placed into an uncomfortable physical position that the military called "the Scorpion" hold. Then, the prisoner told the FBI, he was doused with cold water, dropped onto barbed wire, dragged by his feet and punched in the stomach. Good News Hostages released: A shadowy Iraqi group has released two French news reporters, who have spent almost four months in captivity. France reacted with joy Tuesday at the news that reporters Christian Chesnot and George Malbrunot had finally been released. A new strategy: An activist group is hoping to get a resolution on Town Meeting Day ballots that calls on the state to recall Vermont National Guard troops from Iraq. The premise of the resolution is that the war in Iraq is unjustified and illegal. It asks the state to pursue two avenues to recall Vermont Guard troops already deployed. It calls for Vermont's congressional delegation to urge congress to return power over the National Guard to the individual states the Guard was designed to protect. It also asks the Legislature to form a committee to investigate how the Guard's deployment has affected the state's readiness for emergencies at home. But the primary intent of the resolution is to foster dialogue and expose what organizers say is an illegal war. Commentary Comment: The Sabbath gasbags, as The Nation's Calvin Trillin calls our Sunday TV news commentators, distinguished themselves yet again. They're trying to gang up on Donald Rumsfeld on the theory that the entire Iraq war would have worked out just dandy if it hadn't been for Rumsfeld's mistakes. For those now waxing indignant about Rumsfeld and the whole situation concerning armor, I remind you that when "60 Minutes" carried exactly this story in October, as did other news outlets, the right wing promptly pounced on it as further evidence of supposed liberal bias in the media. Opinion: With a few keystrokes, you can print out the Pentagon's list of military deaths in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Like the crosses in Flanders fields, the names stretch out row on row, 16 pages of tiny type, from Abad, Roberto, to Zurheide, Robert Paul Jr. Nowhere in the rows upon rows of names is there anyone with the title "ambassador" or "general" or "director." And yet last week, President George W. Bush chose to honor Ambassador Paul Bremer, retired Gen. Tommy Franks, and former CIA Director George Tenet each with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for their contributions to the Iraq war effort. So desperate is the president to paint Iraq as a success - a "catastrophic success," as he puts it - that he shamelessly debases not only words, not only the Medal of Freedom, but also the final sacrifice made by everyone on the list from Abad to Zurheide. Those guys all got medals, too. Posthumously. No $4 million book deals for them. No $25,000 speaking fees. Their families got death benefits worth about $12,000. Plus a free flag, neatly folded. And the thanks of a grateful nation whose president has now given its highest civilian honor to Bremer, Tenet and Franks. Editorial: The fact that terrorists can strike with devastating effect on the mess tent of an American military base at lunchtime is a sign of just how bad things are in parts of Iraq. If U.S. forces, who were supposed to have broken the back of the resistance in the battle of Fallujah, cannot secure their own quarters, how can they promise Iraqis security for 9,000 polling places in next month's election? The interim Iraqi government, held in place by the U.S. military, says the insurgents are determined to plunge the country into civil war before the Jan. 30 elections. Leaders of the decidedly undemocratic Arab world must be secretly pleased at the bad model on display in Iraq, where the prospect for meaningful voting in less than six weeks seems fainter with each new atrocity. A civil war may not happen, but, at this grim point, democracy doesn't seem like much of a bet, either. Casualty Reports Local story: Baton Rouge, LA, Marine killed in Al Anbar province Local story: Georgia Marine killed in Fallujah Local story: Two South Carolina National Guardsmen killed in helicopter crash in Mosul Local story: League City, TX, soldier killed in accident in Kuwait while beginning his third (involuntary) tour in Iraq .


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