Monday, December 06, 2004

< style="font-weight: bold;">War News for Monday, December 6, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Gunbattle between US troops and insurgents on Haifa Street, Baghdad, at least one death reported. Three insurgents killed and four wounded in Haditha. Three Marines killed in Al Anbar province. Oil pipeline blown up south of Samarra. One guy’s opinion: The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was a mistake that has made the world a more dangerous place, but a swift withdrawal would make matters worse, Pakistan's president said this weekend. Asked whether he considered the invasion a mistake, the Pakistani leader said: "With hindsight, yes. We have landed ourselves in more trouble, yes." Building Democracy A point of view: Iraq's interim President Ghazi al-Yawar, ahead of a meeting with US President George W. Bush, rejected any delay to January 30 polls, saying postponement would hand victory to the "forces of darkness". Against a background of rising violence -- at least 24 people killed in attacks on Sunday alone and about 100 in a three-day period --, Yawar appealed for international help in holding the elections. Another: More than 90 deaths in three days have added weight to calls from Iraqi politicians to delay planned 30 January elections, arguing the climate of violence could lead to results being challenged. "Flawed Elections: Disputed Results" was the slogan at a gathering in Baghdad on Sunday of about 200 mainly Sunni Muslim politicians and party officials after a sharp upsurge in violence following a period of relative calm. Tariq al-Hashimi, secretary-general of the moderate Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party, insisted a delay "does not mean bowing to the threats" of those behind the attacks. But he said: "The deterioration in security conditions in numerous provinces means we should postpone them." Fallujah Connect the dots – A: The US military is drawing up plans to keep insurgents from regaining control of this battle-scarred city, but returning residents may find that the measures make Fallujah look more like a police state than the democracy they have been promised. Under the plans, troops would funnel Fallujans to so-called citizen processing centers on the outskirts of the city to compile a database of their identities through DNA testing and retina scans. Residents would receive badges displaying their home addresses that they must wear at all times. Buses would ferry them into the city, where cars, the deadliest tool of suicide bombers, would be banned. Bellon asserted that previous attempts to win trust from Iraqis suspicious of US intentions had telegraphed weakness by asking, " 'What are your needs? What are your emotional needs?' All this Oprah [stuff]," he said. "They want to figure out who the dominant tribe is and say, 'I'm with you.' We need to be the benevolent, dominant tribe. Connect the dots – B: According to Iraq's government, people like Ismail Ibrahim should be glad Fallujah is all but rid of the insurgents accused of turning the city into a terrorist base and using its civilians as human shields. But in a Baghdad school where Ibrahim and about 200 displaced Fallujans have been living since the latest fighting drove them out, the talk is of vendetta -- not against the insurgents but against the Americans and the Iraqi government. ``I feel hatred. I hurt. This is my city and it has been destroyed,'' Ibrahim said, sitting on a thin mattress on the floor of a room he shares with his wife, seven children and another family. ``The people of Fallujah are people of revenge. If they don't get their revenge now, they will next year or even after 50 years. But they will get it.'' US Governmedia: Not a single major voice has been raised in the American media against the ongoing destruction of Fallujah. While much of the world recognizes something dreadful has occurred, the US press does not even bat an eyelash over the organized leveling of a city of 300,000 people. In none of the US media commentaries is there a single phrase of unease about the moral, or legal, questions involved in the attack on Fallujah. None have dared say it in as many words that the American military operation in the city is an unlawful act of aggression in an equally illegal, criminal, aggressive war. Truth will out: Two photo-rich summaries of the battle of Fallujah -- one produced by the U.S. military in Iraq, the other by an anonymous American blogger -- highlight how the terrain in such counterinsurgency fights can be as much psychological as physical. Both presentations have gained increasing Internet audiences recently and attempt to convey, among other things, the suffering imposed on Iraqi civilians in Fallujah. That is where similarities end, however. The military's presentation depicts the fight for Fallujah as a liberation of a city from the insurgents. The Web log posts far more graphic wire service and other photos, and tends to point the finger of blame for civilian suffering at the military. Judging by the reaction of several soldiers and military experts, a comparison of the two presentations shows, among other things, how the might of the U.S. military can be matched by a single blogger working part time. American Moral Leadership SEAL photos: Kimmitt's apprehension about the photos being "tools" for use in the battle for public opinion, however, could be well-founded. "The two scandals confirm the image about the Americans known in the Middle East: That the Americans are not a charity or a humanitarian organization that is leading an experiment of democracy," Sateh Noureddine, managing editor of the Lebanese leftist newspaper As-Safir, told The Associated Press. "Rather, (the U.S. government) is leading a retaliatory operation following the Sept. 11 attacks." Abu Ghraib: A military judge on Saturday ordered the former commander of U.S. prisons in Iraq to testify at the trial of a soldier who says he was ordered to abuse detainees at Abu Ghraib. The judge, Col. James Pohl, said Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski's testimony at the trial of Sgt. Javal Davis would be limited to conditions at the Iraqi prison and the interaction there among guards and military interrogators. Karpinski had denied knowing about mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib until photographs were made public at the end of April showing hooded, naked prisoners being tormented by their U.S. captors. She was relieved of her command after abuses at the prison came to light. In an interview with the AP, Karpinski said a "conspiracy" among top U.S. commanders left her to bear the blame for the abuses. An independent panel of non-government experts found leadership failures by her "helped set the conditions at the prison which led to the abuses." Long Term Effects: Some Stories Won’t End With the War The wounded: As the growing ranks of the wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan leave the military, they will be ready to apply for health care and disability benefits from the VA. The question is: Will the VA be ready for them? Not likely, said Rep. Lane Evans (D-Ill.), the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. "We'd better be prepared for the people coming back home, and I don't think we are," Evans said. "The resources are simply inadequate." The volunteer Army: Last spring, the Army instituted the policy (stop loss) for all troops headed to Iraq and Afghanistan, called it a way to promote continuity within deployed units and to avoid bringing new soldiers in to fill gaps left in units by those who would otherwise have gone home when their enlistments ran out. If a soldier's unit is still in Iraq or Afghanistan, that soldier cannot leave even when his or her enlistment time runs out. Since then, a handful of National Guardsmen who received orders to report for duty in California and Oregon have taken the policy to court, but the newest lawsuit is the first such challenge by a group of soldiers. And these soldiers are already overseas - transporting supplies, working radio communications and handling military contracts, somewhere in the desert. You should know I'm not against the war," said David W. Qualls, one of the plaintiffs and a former full-time soldier who signed up in July 2003 for a one-year stint in the Arkansas National Guard but now expects to be in Iraq until next year. This just isn't about that. This is a matter of fairness. My job was to go over and perform my duties under the contract I signed. But my year is up and it's been up. Now I believe that they should honor their end of the contract." Free flow of information: Reuters received another blow in early November when the U.S military announced that a Marine sniper had killed an individual who was carrying a video camera during heavy fighting between Americans and insurgents in the Iraqi city of Ramadi. The victim turned out to be Dhia Najim, a Reuters cameraman. The news agency again expressed its outrage. "We reject the clear implication in the Marines statement that Dhia was part of an insurgent group," said Reuters Global Managing Editor David Schlesinger. "This claim was not supported by available evidence. I strongly urge the U.S. military to conduct a proper investigation into this tragic event." This becomes all the more just, with American reporters increasingly hunkered down in Baghdad while native Iraqis venture into danger. "We all need them, so we ought to take care of them," said Marshall, who noted that Reuters regularly gives credit to its Iraqi stringers and staff people. The military has also denied any wrongdoing in the killing of two journalists, including another Reuters cameraman, in Baghdad in April 2003. "Previously journalists were seen as non-combatants," Marshall said. "Now journalists are targets and always under suspicion. In Iraq, especially, the people are not used to being covered by mass media. They are used to being tightly controlled by Saddam. But those days are over. Journalists will never be safe again in most of the world." Commentary Opinion: Johnson and Nixon -- who did not want to go down in history as having lost a war -- stayed the course and kept us in the killing fields. In the end, more than 58,000 Americans gave their lives, as did hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese. It was a painful, cruel lesson.
The same rationale is being invoked by a U.S. officialdom that insists we have to stay in Iraq to fight the resistance there. Even those opposed to the war now say we can't leave because a catastrophe would ensue if we were to depart. Well, the slaughter in Iraq continues apace anyway. Our occupation only compounds the horror of it all. Comment: Some of us would feel more comfortable today if American and allied foreign policy could be discussed solely in temporal terms, without bringing God into the deal at all. One of the more grotesque landmarks of the Bush presidency was established this time last year, when the Los Angeles Times revealed that a top general was touring Christian fundamentalist churches assuring congregations that he knew "our side" would prevail in the struggle with Muslim extremism "because our God is a real God" and the other side's is a phoney. Now, every army has its share of lunatics. The litmus test is how their political masters treat them. The world waited in vain for Rumsfeld to sack this grotesque Strangelovian, whose words seemed to undermine every possibility of constructive engagement with Islam. It never happened, of course. I was in Washington while the little drama was being played out. A defence academic said to me sardonically: "This administration will never sack a general for saying things that every senior figure in the cabinet believes," and so it proved. Opinion: With the mainstream media co-opted, and four-year older but familiar national security faces in place for the president's second term, it is a safe bet we are in for the same inept, misguided policies - only more so. Sadly, Secretary of State Colin Powell's relatively moderate views had little visible impact on policy decisions. Still, when he is gone the president's circle of advisers will have an even shorter diameter. And it is highly unlikely that Powell's designated successor, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, will be any more astute than in the past in seeking counsel from experienced statesmen like her former patron, Gen. Scowcroft. Foreign leaders are aghast...and have been for years. In August 2002, British senior Labor backbencher Gerald Kaufman, a former shadow foreign secretary, warned that the "hawks" in the U.S. administration were giving the president poor advice: "Bush, himself the most intellectually backward American president in my lifetime, is surrounded by advisers whose bellicosity is exceeded only by their political, military and diplomatic illiteracy. Pity the man who relies on Rumsfeld, Cheney and Rice for counsel." A Ray of Sunshine CPR Iraq was organized about a month ago by Nichols' former colleagues at Kitsap Cardiology, and featured in The Sun and on KING TV. The publicity helped, but it's been mostly outreach by Dr. Chris King, his wife Rebecca and staffers at Kitsap Cardiology that has drawn an outpouring of generosity, mostly from local people, and from as far away as New York, California and Oregon. Children at East Port Orchard Elementary donated nine boxes of school supplies. Karen Kissel in Bend, Ore., is organizing donations of infant formula for nursing children like Mushtak who have lost their mothers. New York Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina, whose wife was Rebecca King's best friend in high school, sent $5,000, half the $10,000 donated so far to cover mailing. A Bothell woman who just lost a teenaged daughter is donating the girl's Beanie Baby collection. An Olympia man has pledged $100 a month for a year. Casualty Reports Local story: Cheektowaga, NY, soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: South Jersey soldier killed in Iraq. .


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