Friday, March 18, 2005

War News for Thursday and Friday, March 17 and 18, 2005 Bring ‘em on: Sunni cleric assassinated in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi police colonel assassinated in Mosul. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi police general assassinated in Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqis killed, six US soldiers wounded by car bomb in Mosul. Bring ‘em on: Five Iraqi soldiers killed, 11 wounded by car bomb attack on Baquba checkpoint. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqis working for US Army assassinated near Balad. Coalition of the Crumbling. “Bulgaria intends to reduce the number of its troops in Iraq in July and bring home the last of the 460-member force by year's end, Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov said Thursday.” Lieutenant AWOL, please call Planet Earth. “Asked whether the coalition was crumbling, Bush said, ‘No, quite to the contrary. I think the coalition has been buoyed by the courage of the Iraqi people’ in defying death threats to vote.” Progress. “In southern Baghdad, the hazards of life have come to this: gangs of militant Islamists are warning barbers that it is haram - forbidden - to shave men's beards or do Western-style haircuts. As many as 12 barbers have been killed, Iraqi officials say, including five in one day in late January. With little hope of police protection, most now refuse to offer the offending cuts, and have placed prominent signs in their front windows saying so.” Rummy’s Army. “The US Army asked Congress to allow it to extend enlistment contracts signed by soldiers by two years as top defense officials warned that key recruitment targets for the year could be missed. The request came as House of Representatives put its stamp of approval on an 81.4-billion-dollar supplemental spending bill that contains new benefits for US soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the new money notwithstanding, Army Deputy Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Franklin Hagenbeck told a House subcommittee that yearly recruitment goals for the Army reserve and the National Guard were ‘at risk.’” Anniversary. “Saturday, March 19, will mark two years since the official start of the war in Iraq. Two months after the war began, Jesse Givens became the first Fort Carson soldier killed there after his tank fell into a canal and he drowned. ‘I tell myself it's nearly been two years. I should be over this now. I should be further than I am. I should be better,’ his 28-year-old widow said. ‘People say I look fine. I must fake it pretty well.’” Commentary Editorial: “Those stains on the index fingers of proud Iraqi voters have long faded. As Robert Worth of The Times discovered in interviews with average citizens, an inevitable disillusionment has set in. People reasonably want to know what comes next. More chilling, they seem to be prepared to blame competing ethnic groups for anything that goes wrong. Iraq's newly elected leaders must organize a government that Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and smaller ethnic and religious groups feel has their best interests at heart. They must also accomplish some practical matters - more electrical power, cleaner water, better security - to give their constituents the confidence that things really can get better. The first challenge is up to the Iraqis, and so far, there are not many signs that any group is prepared to compromise for the common good. Americans must help with the second problem, and almost no one inside Iraq seems to feel the infant government can survive right now without the Western military. It is hard to imagine a quick exit that would not make things much worse. But at the same time, it's clear that the presence of American troops is poisoning the situation. Under constant fire from Sunni insurgents, the soldiers are seldom free to provide the good-will services that many would undoubtedly like to do. Instead they stand behind barricades, terrified that the next vehicle will be driven by a suicide bomber. The inevitable consequence is what happened to the Italian journalist and her protectors whose car was riddled with bullets en route to the airport. Far more often, the people inside the cars are Iraqis.” Analysis: “Wrong about geopolitics in general, Wolfowitz has been wrong about Iraq in particular. Unembarrassed by their ridiculous overestimation of Soviet strength, Wolfowitz and other veterans of the Committee for the Present Danger in the late 1990s took part in the Project for the New American Century. They proceeded to exaggerate the alleged threat to the U.S. from the bankrupt statelet left in Saddam Hussein's hands after the Gulf War even more shamelessly than they had hyped the Soviet menace. Focusing on Saddam and regional threats to Israel, Wolfowitz and the other strategic geniuses of the PNAC circle never mentioned Osama bin Laden.” Analysis: “There has been virtually no accountability on the war spending. Despite Congress requiring it, the administration has flatly refused to account for how our tax dollars have been spent in Iraq, or what the future costs will be. Given the failure to provide our troops with adequate equipment and the documented cases of waste and fraud perpetrated by contractors like Halliburton, it is the height of hypocrisy for members of Congress to say they support our troops and to fail to insist on accountability on why these resources have not been spent to protect our young men and women.” Opinion: “Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the president's newfound dedication to freedom is that it completely ignores the fact that his aggressive push to liberate Iraq has made us much less safe here at home. And this, more than anything else, should be the highest priority of any government. Yet our ports, railways and borders remain porous. Our first responders remain underfunded. But the White House continues to razzle-dazzle the Beltway with its command of the Undistributed Middle: The president invaded Iraq. There have been no terrorist attacks in America since 9/11. Therefore, the invasion of Iraq has made us safer. And lighted the torch of freedom throughout the Arab world. In any freshman course in logic, this reasoning would collapse, shot full of holes. In Washington, it's become the conventional wisdom.” Opinion: “In the prevailing shallowness of America, the shrewd can inherit the earth. They can lead an anxious but trusting nation into a war of choice by sounding as if they had no other option. They can push through tax breaks that cost trillions and plump up record deficits by sounding as if fiscal restraint would be folly. They can promote private accounts as saving supplements to Social Security by sounding as if personal investment is preferable to government checks, reliability notwithstanding.” Casualty Reports Local story: Michigan Guardsman killed in Iraq. Local story: Louisiana Guardsman killed in Iraq. Local story: Utah soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Missouri contractor wounded in Iraq.


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