War News for Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Bring ‘em on: Two Marines killed in Al-Anbar
Bring ‘em on: Seven people killed in second bombing
in two days at entrance to Green Zone
Bring ‘em on: US soldier
killed by gunshot while on patrol in Iraq
Bring ‘em on: US warplanes
pound northeastern Fallujah.
: The man was shot by B company, Deuce-4 battalion, as they were ambushed uncovering explosives by the side of the road on the western fringe of Mosul.
The soldiers think he was just a lorry driver but they are not sure.
The US military now has a 5,000-strong force in Mosul, the largest since the war. The military says its aim is to prepare the city for elections next month by re-creating confidence in civic leadership but much of its time is spent countering the daily assaults of the insurgents.
: In the three months since he joined the police force in the Iraqi capital, Khalid Qassim has seen five fellow officers killed by insurgents. If he were not the family's sole breadwinner, that alone would have made him reconsider his job.
Last weekend, assailants gunned down a police colonel outside the northern city of Beiji, and killed a brigadier general and a police colonel in Baghdad's southwestern Saidiyah neighborhood. On Friday, an attack on a police patrol in Baghdad's northern Azamiyah suburb killed a captain and a constable.
: Iraq's interim President Ghazi al-Yawer said in an interview broadcast Monday that the U.S.-led coalition was wrong to dismantle the Iraqi security forces.
Critics of the U.S.-led invasion say the decision to disband the 400,000-strong Iraqi army and to purge the state of members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party has contributed to chaos and helped fuel insurgency in post-war Iraq.
Building Democracy in the New Iraq
An informed electorate
: With seven weeks to go before landmark polls, Iraq’s electoral body is stepping up a campaign to inform voters of their rights, but widespread ignorance remains amongst the electorate, interviews show.
“After decades of tyranny and authoritarian regimes, Iraq has lost its electoral knowledge,” Hussain Hendawi, the head of the electoral commission, told Reuters last week. "It will take many years to build the democratic process and that knowledge,” he said.
That cursed foreign influence
: Even as the White House decries the ominous prospect of Iranian influence on the upcoming Iraqi national elections, US-funded organizations with long records of manipulating foreign democracies in the direction of Washington’s interests are quietly but deeply involved in essentially every aspect of the process.
Two such groups -- the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) -- are part of a consortium of non-governmental organizations to which the United States has provided over $80 million for political and electoral activities in post-Saddam Iraq.
Both groups publicly assert they are nonpartisan, but each has extremely close ties to its namesake American political party, and both are deeply partial to the perceived national interests of their home country, despite substantial involvement in the politics of numerous sovereign nations worldwide.
Even when they get it right they get it wrong
: The rest of Baghdad, and large sections of the country, may remain vulnerable to daily insurgent violence. But in Sadr City, police patrol the streets, Al Mahdi volunteers direct traffic, and workers in orange jumpsuits fill in hundreds of craters left by roadside bombs.
Still, the relationship between the Americans and Sadr's forces, who staged deadly uprisings across Iraq, is far from cooperative. The two sides remain deeply hostile toward each other, and coordination is nonexistent.
Sadr representatives are still bitter over the continued detention of hundreds of Al Mahdi fighters — a violation, they say, of the cease-fire agreement reached after weeks of clashes in the capital. The U.S., meanwhile, appears determined to handle the reconstruction in a way that provides as little cash, power and prestige to Sadr as possible.
Thieves fall out
: A senior Defense official placed under investigation by the FBI on allegations that he tried to steer Iraqi reconstruction contracts toward friends has been removed from office, Pentagon officials confirmed Friday.
John A. "Jack" Shaw, the Pentagon's deputy undersecretary for international technology security, was ordered to leave after refusing to sign a letter of resignation, the officials said. His last day was Friday.
Shaw did not respond to requests for comment on his ouster. However, in e-mails and letters exchanged with Pentagon officials over his departure, Shaw portrayed himself as a whistle-blower who was being unfairly asked to resign for having highlighted problems with the cellular phone licensing process.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Shaw expanded on the accusations made in his previous report, charging that Defense Undersecretary Douglas J. Feith, his former law partner L. Marc Zell and Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress party, were also involved in the conspiracy.
Two years gone
: A top U.S. aid official acknowledged Monday that Iraqis have reasons to be impatient with the pace of reconstruction since the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein, but said $4.3 billion had been earmarked for projects and promised improvement despite the insurgency.
But Natsios, fielding pointed questions from Arabic-speaking journalists about reconstruction, defended more visible U.S. work, which some Iraqis say is taking far too long. He said it takes months to build power plants, whose generators need to be built from scratch.
He spoke in the middle of a power outage that cut electricity to a large swath of the country.
American Moral Leadership
This should help
: In order to fill such spiritual hunger, more than 2.2 million Bibles and other pieces of Christian literature were distributed throughout this region last year alone; another 4 million are slated to be distributed in the coming year! So many in this region are finally open to hearing more about Christ, but I must tell you—this surge in interest is also creating a real challenge.
Due to the turmoil there, many are looking for real peace. As a result of Bible distributions and the release of the movie, The Passion of The Christ, the demand for Christian literature in Iraq and across the Middle East is skyrocketing. We just don't have enough money to meet this need. Would you be willing to help meet this challenge?
This pledge drive brought to you by the Campus Crusade for Christ. I’ll bet their name all by itself opens Iraqi hearts to Jesus.
Meanwhile, back in the real world
: The 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment has a distinguished combat history, from the D-Day landing to the Iraq desert campaign of the Persian Gulf War. Its motto: "Straight and Stalwart."
Last week, in a makeshift military courtroom, the unit's reputation came under assault. Soldiers from 1-41 described how a member of a rogue platoon hauled an unarmed Iraqi man away from his family one hot August morning and casually fired two shots into his head. Then he photographed the corpse.
As disturbing as the testimony was for soldiers from a proud unit, it was just one episode in a shocking series of killings. Over a period of 26 days in August and September, seven 1-41 soldiers were charged with six murders on two continents.
True moral leadership
: AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk about the decision that you made, why you decided you did not want to go to Iraq?
JEREMY HINZMAN: Well, I think it was -- if you are ever going to go destroy a country or wreak havoc on a country, it would need to be justified. Every justification or rationale that we have ever offered for going to Iraq has been bogus. There were no weapons of mass destruction there. There have been no links established between Saddam and international terrorists, and then the notion that we're going to bring democracy to Iraq is -- we'll see if that comes to fruition, but I don't think we'll see it, unless it's convenient to America's agenda. So anyway, I felt that we had attacked Iraq without any defensive basis, and I think it's been well established at Nuremburg that in those instances, you cannot simply just say that you're following orders, but you have a duty and obligation to disobey.
The Human Cost
: "I dream there's an explosion, a big one. Then I wake up and I'm scared," said eight-year-old Nour as she sat in a school classroom in southwest Baghdad.
Like many of her classmates, the little girl is traumatised by the constant attacks and frequent kidnappings that take place in Baghdad and she trembles every time a US helicopter passes overhead.
Iraq's children are paying a heavy price in the insurgency that has gripped the country since the ouster last year of Saddam Hussein. Thirty-seven children were among 42 people killed in this area in September by a car bomb.
: Sixteen months after Kyle's death, the Gilberts have not been able to bring themselves to go through the five containers of his personal items shipped from Fort Bragg. "You send off your son," Regina muses, "and everything comes back in a box."
She's bitter about the war - on Nov. 2, she voted for the first time - but not about how the memorial turned out.
"No matter how divided the community, we couldn't have done it without them," she says. "We can't hate the protesters. We need to keep that freedom of speech."
: It is odd enough that so many working-class Americans have been seduced by Bush's claims that he's a regular guy looking out for their interests, when, in fact, his policies overwhelmingly benefit well-off families and wealthy corporations. It is downright weird that so many of them have been taken in by his story of a just war when their sons and daughters, husbands and wives -- not the scions of the wealthy -- are the ones paying the ultimate price for it.
: After Donald Rumsfeld's arrogant comments last Thursday to troops awaiting deployment to Iraq, President Bush quickly attempted to squelch the rising dissension in the ranks. "We're doing everything we possibly can to protect your loved ones in a mission which is vital and important," Bush said in a message to the families of service members. "The concerns expressed are being addressed, and that is, we expect our troops to have the best possible equipment."
This wasn't the first time the Bush Administration has lied about its commitment to the safety of the troops. Twenty-one months into the war, the Administration has repeatedly changed its explanation of why the troops are there, how long they are expected to stay and when they will receive the equipment they need.
Local story: San Jose, CA
, soldier killed near Habbaniyah.
Local story: Soldier with Oregon
ties killed in Habbaniyah.
Note to Readers
No, don’t panic, nothing’s wrong with YD. He’s going to be taking Tuesdays and Wednesdays off from blogging so he can, you know, have a life or something. No accounting for tastes. I’ll sit in those days and if you need to reach me, I’m at email@example.com.
Alert readers will have noticed a new entry in the blogroll on the right side of the screen, a link to the new Reader Contribution page under the Intelligence Reports heading. My understanding is that YD will be soliciting essays and commentary from regular posters in Comments and posting them there. Since he hasn’t seemed to have gotten around to that yet I took it on myself to set up a Discussion Thread, inspired by the final post from long-time contributor 2cents in yesterday’s Comments. Pop over and share your opinion.