Sunday, January 09, 2005

<>War News for Sunday, January 09, 2005 "There are some who, uh, feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: bring 'em on. We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation." - George W. Bush, July 2, 2003, referring to attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq. Bring ‘em on: American troops kill two Iraqi police and three civilians when they open fire after roadside bombing south of Baghdad. (Iraqi doctor at local hospital reports eight dead and twelve wounded.) (Fox News headline on the above incident: U.S. Troops Retaliate After Attack, Kill 5. There are no words strong enough to describe the contempt I feel for that organization. Not only did they characterize this tragedy, where US troops blasted anything that moved after a bomb went off and killed five innocent people, with this scurrilous headline that claimed it was retaliation, as if the police and civilians who were killed had set the bomb, but on the same web page they have a set of headline links. One says “US Troops Kill Five Terrorists”. Click on it and it takes you back to this very same story. I don’t have profanity strong enough to express my loathing of these pissant Goebbels wannabes. Here’s the link. Does anyone know how to store the web page?) Bring ‘em on: American forces bomb wrong house in Aitha, killing five “possibly innocent” people (Iraqi sources and an AP photographer at the scene claim seven adults and seven children were killed in the attack.) Bring ‘em on: Manager of Allawi’s Iraqi National Accord Party assassinated in Baghdad. Mayor of Salaheddine province and an aide to the province’s governor kidnapped in Baghdad. (Scroll down) Bring ‘em on: Two Marines killed in separate attacks in Al Anbar province. Bring ‘em on: Tribal leader killed in Baghdad. Iraqi translator beheaded in Baquoba. Human Rights Organization representative kidnapped south of Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqi civilians killed and nineteen wounded in suicide bombing in Mahaweel. Bring ‘em on: US soldier assigned to Task Force Baghdad killed in roadside bombing. Bring ‘em on: Acting police chief of Samarra assassinated. Bring ‘em on: Police captain killed in drive-by shooting in Abu Ghraib. Policeman shot to death by gunmen in Mosul. Iraqi killed by roadside bomb in Samarra. (Scroll down below the part where GW Bush expresses optimism about the elections which he states will be “an incredibly hopeful experience”.) Seven Ukrainian soldiers and one Kazakh soldier killed in an explosion while loading aviation ordnance in Iraq. In Our Name Possibly innocent: American troops opened fire after their convoy was struck by a roadside bomb at a checkpoint south of Baghdad, killing at least two policemen and three civilians, police said Sunday, a day after the U.S. military acknowledged five people were killed when it bombed the wrong house during a search operation in northern Iraq. An Associated Press photographer at the scene said seven children and seven adults died. The discrepancy between the death counts could not be reconciled. The U.S. military later released a statement saying it regretted the loss of "possibly innocent lives" in the strike. Our Brave New World: The Pentagon is debating whether to set up elite hit-squads to target leaders of the Iraq insurgency in a new strategy based on tactics used against leftist guerrillas in Central America 20 years ago, Newsweek magazine reported on Saturday. The squads may operate across the border in Syria, Newsweek said on its web site, but added it was unclear whether they would assassinate leaders or be involved in ``snatch'' operations. The magazine said the plan is being called ``the Salvador option'' after strategy instigated during the Reagan administration's battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Prescription torture: At Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and "undisclosed locations," some U.S. military interrogators used troubling methods to try to get their captives to talk. Many of their efforts have been widely reported; some may have risen to the level of torture under international law. What is less known — but equally disturbing — is that military doctors become arbiters, even planners, of aggressive interrogation practice, including prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation and exposure to temperature extremes. Such conduct violated U.S. obligations under the Geneva Convention, which bar threatening, insulting and other abusive treatment of prisoners. There is also probable cause to suspect that some physicians were complicit in the use of interrogation methods that constitute torture under international law. Stories That Belong Together Mistaken calculations: In Al-Fallujah, hundreds if not thousands of homes were in a shambles after months of airstrikes. So far, about 40,000 people, or less than 20 percent of the town's population, have begun coming back, according to Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, the senior U.S. ground commander in Iraq. Many Iraqis contend that in their attempt to quash the insurgency, U.S. troops may have only strengthened its ranks, creating a generation so inflamed by the assault that they take up arms. "In the coming days, there will be suicide attacks on that town. They will use the same methods as the Hamas movement,'' said Salman al-Jumaili, a Baghdad University professor, insurgency expert and Al-Fallujah native. Nadhim Jassour agreed. A professor of international relations at Baghdad University, Jassour said, ``The Americans were mistaken in their calculations. . . . They must understand that revenge is an Arab characteristic.'' A startling toll: The strain of fighting an insurgency war in Iraq, on a scale not foreseen even a year ago and with no end in sight, is taking a startling toll on the U.S. military. The U.S. death count is rising by 70 or more each month, adding to the more than 1,330 deaths already recorded. Costs of the occupation and rebuilding are also escalating--at more than $1 billion a week, with the total now exceeding $100 billion. The question is being raised: How does the military retain an all-volunteer force at the current level of U.S. commitment overseas? Digging deeper: Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon is to send 650 extra troops to Iraq amid fears of escalating violence ahead of the country's elections, it has been reported. Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Royal Highland Fusiliers are expected to move to British-controlled Basra from their Cyprus base ahead of the January 30 poll. A senior Army officer told the Sunday Telegraph the move follows intelligence warning of a wave of violence at polling stations. (Hey, that's some kind of good intelligence those Brits have. I wonder if we could get some good intelligence like that?) Family values: Sitting in the mess hall after a long day’s work on the streets of Samarra, several soldiers talked about how they avoid telling family members back home about getting shot at, breaking down doors or avoiding mines. "The stuff we’ve seen and done, you can only talk about here,” said Spc. Rob Yurkanin, 23, of Port Murray, N.J., his eyes drifting over to a football game on a distant television. “No one else can understand it.” Sgt. Royd Nuckols, 30, of Folcroft, Pa., agreed: “I don’t want my wife or my kids to know the stuff I’ve had to do or see.” Privatization: The United States has engaged a record number of private military contractors in the war in Iraq, and a record number of them have been killed, kidnapped or maimed. Now the hostilities have escalated and spilled into another battlefield: the courtroom. Families of four contractors killed in an ambush in Fallujah in March 2004 have sued North Carolina-based Blackwater Security Services for fraud and wrongful death. The lawsuit, filed in Wake County Superior Court, is the first in the nation to be filed against a private military contractor for death on the battlefield, according to military, legal and industry experts. The Forever War: Now comes our self-styled war on terror, which snugly fits this pattern. Al Qaeda and its affiliates are full of zealots dedicated to eliminating the shadow cast by American power over the Muslim world. But they cannot hope to defeat American military forces in the field. For our part, we believe that by conquering and democratizing rogue nations we can somehow defeat the terrorist networks arrayed against us. Yet we can't ever find enough of their fighters to stage a decisive battle, nor can we stem the tide of their recruitment. Isn't this the definition of stalemate -- a recipe for war that goes on year after year after year? Dahr Jamail Dahr Jamail reports: Then, as now, for Iraqis, our invasion and occupation was a case of liberation from – from human rights (think: the atrocities committed in Abu Ghraib which are still occurring daily there and elsewhere); liberation from functioning infrastructure (think: the malfunctioning electric system, the many-mile long gas lines, the raw sewage in the streets); liberation from an entire city to live in (think: Fallujah, most of which has by now been flattened by aerial bombardment and other means). Iraqis were then already bitter, confused, and existing amid a desolation that came from myriads of Bush administration broken promises. Quite literally every liberated Iraqi I've gotten to know from my earliest days in the country has either had a family member or a friend killed by U.S. soldiers or from the effects of the war/occupation. These include such everyday facts of life as not having enough money for food or fuel due to massive unemployment and soaring energy prices, or any of the countless other horrors caused by the aforementioned. The broken promises, broken infrastructure, and broken cities of Iraq were plainly visible in those early months of 2004 – and the sad thing is that the devastation I saw then has only grown worse since. The life Iraqis were living a year ago, horrendous as it was, was but a prelude to what was to come under the U.S. occupation. The warning signs were clear from a shattered infrastructure, to all the torturing, to a burgeoning, violent resistance. Commentary Opinion: In 2002, the U.N. development program sponsored a group of courageous Arab economists, social scientists and other scholars to do four reports on human development in the Arab world. The first one, in 2002, caused a real stir in this region - showing, among other things, that the Arabs were falling so far behind that Spain's GDP was greater than that of the entire Arab League combined. That first report, published in Arabic and English, was downloaded off the Internet 1 million times. It was a truly incisive diagnosis of the deficits in freedom, education and women's empowerment retarding the Arab world. In 2003, the same group produced a second Arab Human Development Report, about the Arab knowledge deficit - even tackling the supersensitive issue of how Islam and its current spiritual leaders may be holding back modern education. This was stuff no U.S. diplomat could ever raise, but the Arab authors of these reports could and did. So, I eagerly awaited the third Arab Human Development Report, due in October. It was going to be pure TNT, because it was going to tackle the issue of governance and misgovernance in the Arab world, and the legal, institutional and religious impediments to political reform. These are the guts of the issue here. I waited. And I waited. But nothing. Then I started to hear disturbing things - that the Bush team saw a draft of the Arab governance report and objected to the prologue because it was brutally critical of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the Israeli occupation. Opinion: Throughout my military experience in six campaigns covering nine different nations or territories, our troops were welcomed as liberators everywhere, including Italy and Germany. We never encountered guerrilla or insurgent threats. In fact, the partisans or guerillas always attacked our enemies. Partisans became famous in Russia, Italy and France and in Yugoslavia, where conditions bore an eerie similarity to Iraq now. I hope our nation can soon end the bloodshed in Iraq. Above all, we must not lose our humanity, the main characteristic that distinguishes our forces from the insurgents and terrorists in Iraq. Yaron Brook, president of the far-right Ayn Rand Institute urged that we become more ruthless. According to William Raspberry's column reprinted in The News-Journal, Brook suggested that we should wipe out all Iraqi civilians and communities that harbor terrorists. Such ruthlessness was practiced more than 60 years ago by the German army in Yugoslavia. For every German soldier killed by Partisans or Chetniks, the Nazis executed 100 civilians -- for a wounded soldier, 50 civilians. The policy merely strengthened resistance and increased worldwide hatred of Nazis. We should learn from that. Casualty Reports Local story: Southeast Louisianans mourn six local soldiers killed in attack on Bradley fighting vehicle near Baghdad last Thursday. Local story: Bloomingburg, NY, soldier killed in same Bradley attack. Local story: Spanaway, WA, soldier killed in Balad. Local story: Mobile, AL, family hopes for return of kidnapped truck driver missing in Iraq since his convoy was ambushed in April. .


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