Wednesday, February 09, 2005

War News for Wednesday, February 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

Bring ‘em on: Twenty one Iraqi army recruits killed, 27 wounded by suicide bomber at Iraqi army recruitment center in Baghdad. Three Iraqi policemen killed in clashes in Baghdad neighborhood of Ghazaliya.

Bring ‘em on: Senior Iraqi Interior Ministry official kidnapped by gunmen in southern Baghdad.

Bring ‘em on: US soldier shot dead north of Baghdad. US military announces the death of another soldier in Mosul on February 6.

Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqi police officers killed, two wounded in roadside bombing in Samarra. Head of the office of the Association of Muslim Scholars arrested by US and Iraqi soldiers in dawn raid. Guerilla killed by US troops near Balad.

Bring ‘em on: Iraqi journalist who worked for a US-funded radio station killed by gunmen along with his 3-year-old son.

Today’s Wolfowitz Metric Rating: EXCELLENT!

The Elections

Sounds like Florida: Iraqi officials Wednesday delayed the announcement of final results from landmark national elections because they said the election commission must recount votes from about 300 ballot boxes.

Final results from the Jan. 30 balloting were to be announced Thursday. But spokesman Farid Ayar said the deadline would slip due to the need for a recount.

"We don't know when this will finish," he said. "This will lead to a little postponement in announcing the results."

Ayar would not say where the 300 ballot boxes came from.

A good question: Suppose, as a result of George W. Bush's decision to go to war there, that Iraq turns into Iran? Just what do we do then?

As the vote-counting continues in last month's Iraqi elections, it's clear that the predictable has in fact occurred: The electoral alliance put together and dominated by Iraq's Shiite clerics has swept to power. It will command a clear majority in the National Assembly, with the Kurds, Sunnis and various secular groups bringing up the rear. It will write the national constitution, although, according to the soon-to-be-replaced transitional authority of Ayad Allawi, the new document needs a Kurdish and Sunni buy-in to go into effect.

The Shiite clerics have convinced the Bush administration that we have nothing to fear from the new-model Iraq. "We have a great deal of confidence in where they're headed," said Vice President Cheney over the weekend. Cheney hasn't sounded this certain since he predicted that American troops would be welcomed as liberators.

Two Steaming Piles – An Exercise For Alert Readers

Here are two articles that illustrate how utterly pathetic the American press has become. One is from CNN and the other from the Christian Science Monitor. I had intended to write a fairly long piece analyzing the myriad flaws in these two pieces of ‘reporting’ and discussing the media’s total inability to place any statement from the Bush administration in a real-world context, or, indeed, to even remember news items from two weeks ago and contrast them with today’s spin. But sadly, duty calls and I have no time to follow up on my analysis. So I must leave it to you, alert readers. Read these pieces and share your thoughts.

CNN: The U.S. military faces between 13,000 and 17,000 insurgents in Iraq, the large majority of them backers of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party, a senior military official said Tuesday.

The senior military official told CNN the bulk of the insurgency is made up of 12,000 to 15,000 Arab Sunni followers of Saddam's party. The Baath Party was overthrown by a U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.

Of those, the source said 5,000 to 7,000 are considered "committed" fighters, with the rest considered "fence-sitters," criminals or "facilitators" who contribute material support or sanctuary to the guerrillas.

CSM: Amid the ruins of Fallujah, white flags are emerging - alerting US and Iraqi forces to the presence of Iraqi families moving back home, clearing the rubble, and trying to renew hope.

Residents say that the insurgents who made the city a virtual no-go zone are gone. They were violently cut out of this former stronghold by US forces during a monthlong battle in November - the toughest urban combat for US forces since Vietnam - that pulverized this city of some 300,000.

"This is probably the safest city in the country," says US Marine Lt. Col. Keil Gentry, executive officer of Regiment Combat Team 1 (RCT1), that controls Fallujah. "Is it blooming everywhere? No. But it's like the beginning of spring, with signs of green emerging here and there."

An unexpected measure of success came on election day last week. Nearly 8,000 people here defied insurgent threats and voted, according to US military officials. That figure accounts for 44 percent of all votes cast in Anbar Province, which includes the Sunni triangle, where antielection feeling was so strong that less than 7 percent voted at all.

Iraqis say the result shows how secure Fallujahns are beginning to feel, and note with added surprise that more than a few said their ballot was for Iyad Allawi, the US-backed interim prime minister who ordered the Fallujah invasion.

Support The Troops

Not acceptable: The leader of the nation's largest military veterans organization reacted strongly to the effects that President Bush's budget plan will have on veterans. He called it a smoke screen to raise revenue at the expense of veterans.

"This is not acceptable," said Thomas P. Cadmus, national commander of the 2.7 million-member American Legion. "It's nothing more than a health care tax designed to increase revenue at the expense of veterans who served their country."

Cadmus was referring to the portion of the proposed budget that would double the co-payment charge to many veterans for prescription drugs and would require some to pay a new fee of $250 a year to use their own their own health care system.

"When the President first came to Washington, among his first official acts was to triple the prescription co-payment from $2 to $7," Cadmus said. "Once again, the President wants to double the co-payment and fortunately, Congress has wisely rejected that proposal. Making veterans 'pay for timely access to quality health care is wrong."

This is the third year in a row the President has attempted to establish an enrollment fee for those veterans making co-payments and third-party reimbursements to the VA.

But no money for vets: The Pentagon's reliance on supplemental funding requests to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan masks the true size of the U.S. defense budget and inhibits congressional oversight, analysts said this week.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld readily admits he sent Congress an incomplete budget in seeking $419.3 billion for fiscal year 2006, a 4.8 percent increase.

The Pentagon says it will seek another increase for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan later in the year, and analysts say the amount could reach $60 billion.

Vets for Justice: It is only appropriate with a war going on and thousands of new disabled Veterans, that we continue to fight for fair, honest, treatment of America's Veterans by the government that we fought for.

Not only for Veterans of past wars, but for the thousands of new Veterans that come home disabled from the Iraq War, only to find they must fight a new war to receive the benefits that they earned.

We ask all of our members to actively spread the word to their fellow Veterans to remember February 12th as Veterans Betrayal Day and to do all they can to make the public aware of the plight of America's Veterans.

The Professor and the Pissant

Juan Cole eviscerates Jonah 'Doughy Pantload' Goldberg.

(Scroll down to the post titled Goldberg vs. Cole Redux)

(Thanks and a tip of the hat to The Poorman for Jonah's nick.)


Comment: The triumphalist chorus of the western media reflects a single fact: the Iraqi elections were designed not so much to preserve the unity of Iraq but to re-establish the unity of the west. After Bush's re-election the French and Germans were looking for a bridge back to Washington. Will their citizens accept the propaganda that sees the illegitimate election (the Carter Centre, which monitors elections worldwide, refused to send observers) as justifying the occupation?

What of the media, the propaganda pillar of the new order? In Control Room, a Canadian documentary on al-Jazeera, one of the more disgusting images is that of embedded western journalists whooping with joy at the capture of Baghdad. The coverage of "elections" in Afghanistan and Iraq has been little more than empty spin. This symbiosis of neo-liberal politics and a neo-liberal media helps reinforce the collective memory loss from which the west suffers today.

Editorial: Is the U.S. military guilty of war crimes in Iraq?

Some people believe it is unpatriotic even to ask this question, which may be why the issue has been largely ignored by American news media. But the question of U.S. war crimes is not being ignored elsewhere around the world, where images of dead Iraqi women and children, tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the devastation of the city of Fallujah and the shooting of unarmed captives in a Fallujah mosque have done much to destroy America's image abroad.

It isn't only a question about the moral culpability of American troops, their commanders or their political leaders. While they bear moral responsibility for their actions, we as citizens in a democracy share responsibility for actions undertaken in our name. That responsibility is not diminished by the fact that Iraqi insurgents are committing horrific crimes against their own people. In years to come, the world community will likely ask of us: Did we know? Did we care? Did we speak out?

Casualty Report

Local story: Ferdinand, IN, soldier faces court-martial on charges that he killed an Iraqi police officer and then shot himself.



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