Friday, April 15, 2005

War News for Friday, April 15, 2005 Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqi civilians wounded in roadside bomb ambush of US convoy in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi civilian killed, three wounded in bomb attack on US patrol in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: One US Marine killed by mortar fire in al Anbar province. Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi detainee killed, 12 injured in prison riot at Camp Bucca. Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqis wounded by mortar fire in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqi soldiers killed by roadside bomb near Samarra. Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqi policemen killed by car bomb near Mahawil. The casualties not counted. “Iraqi families like the Yasseens fall between the cracks of the meager state support networks that exist in Iraq. The US military offers compensation, but only for damage or death caused by the military. Victims of car bombings and other violence don't qualify. Most humanitarian organizations fled Iraq when the United Nations headquarters was attacked with a car bomb in August 2003. Zeinab's sister Nisreen, 4 years old at the time, was uninjured. The day after the blast, she sat in a dirty pink shirt watching the adults pick through the rubble, surrounded by the few things the family had been able to salvage: Coffee pots, rolled-up mattresses, bits of clothing, and cups. Now Nisreen is an energetic 5-year-old, bounding around the small room that is her house. Her younger sister, Zeinab, is now 4 but looks half that age and seems to have lost the ability to speak, as well as walk, since the explosion, her mother says. Since the bombing, some of the neighbors have rebuilt their homes, and to everyone's horror, the police station has reopened. They don't see it as a source of security, but rather a fresh target for the insurgents.” Mosul. “Anybody who believes Iraq has turned the corner and violence is diminishing should pay a visit to its northern capital, though they must be extremely careful when doing so. A suicide bomber detonated explosives in his car outside an army post in Mosul yesterday, creating a cloud of smoke and dust that hovered over the city. Across the country, insurgents opened a new offensive with at least 18 people being killed by suicide bombs in Baghdad.” By the numbers. “In strictly numerical terms, Army Spc. Glenn J. Watkins, 42, of Tacoma, killed April 5 by a roadside bomb in Baghdad, was the 1,543rd U.S. service member to die in Iraq and the 100th with Washington state connections to die in the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. His death pushed to 40 the number of widows (and one widower) and to 60 the number of children left behind by state-connected personnel killed in the wars. As of this week, almost 1,550 U.S. personnel have died in Iraq. Counting the 150-plus dead of Afghanistan and the Philippines, where this state has lost nine fighters, more than 1,700 American military personnel have died in the Southwest Asia war zone during combat and noncombat incidents since October 2001.” A sorry tale. “The Army first had just 235 armored humvees in Iraq. Planners did not expect a long, bloody occupation. Loren Thompson, a defense analyst, recalls an upbeat briefing on Iraq reconstruction with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the joint chiefs of staff: ‘The one thing missing was the enemy.’ As the invasion ended and the occupation began, humvees - smaller, more nimble than tanks or armored personnel carriers - got more use. Three weeks after President Bush's May 1, 2003, ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech on an aircraft carrier, a bomb exploded on a road near Baghdad, hitting an unarmored humvee as it escorted a convoy. The blast wounded three troops and killed Pfc. Jeremiah Smith, 25, of Odessa, Mo., a father of two girls. It was one of the first of many attacks using crude, remotely detonated bombs - in military parlance, improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. Sorenson says, ‘No one, no one, predicted in the insurgency a potential’ to use this tactic so widely. From the supply side, officials said, the problem was that the armor "requirement" - what combat commanders asked for - went up in small jumps, over months, forcing them to chase a moving target. By the time Brownlee decided that the Army needed a total of 8,105 factory-armored humvees in Iraq, the insurgency was 15 months old. And on April 8, the Army said it needed more, pushing the total past 10,000.” Commentary Editorial: “George W. Bush will go down in the history books, for having led the country into war on false premises, jeopardized individual liberties, made America an international bully in the eyes of long-time allies, wrecked the federal budget, deserted conservative principles of governance, savaged the regulatory system, set back environmental progress and polarized the country even further. It's hard to choose, but perhaps Mr. Bush's most dangerous sin is his embrace of bully boy tactics in international relations. The Defense Department last month confirmed that it's now official U.S. policy to threaten pre-emptive, unilateral strikes against nations thought to pose a threat.” Editorial: “The Pentagon also hurts itself with a ‘don't ask, don't tell’ policy that forces good soldiers out of the military if they reveal their homosexuality. A government audit found that from 1994 to 2003, at least 9,488 soldiers were discharged because of sexual orientation, and the cost to recruit and train their replacements is more than $200 million. When it comes to homosexuality, the U.S. military is out of step with NATO and other allies. Britain reversed its policy several years ago and has begun recruiting gays actively. So does Israel. U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, broke with her Republican leadership and is sponsoring a bill that would repeal the military's ban on gays. ‘There's no scientific evidence,’ she correctly says, ‘that sexual orientation has an effect on the ability to perform as a military officer or a buck private.’ This month, an Army sergeant wounded in Iraq received a Purple Heart, then disclosed his homosexuality. He faces discharge because of his honesty and despite his bravery. Beyond phoning ‘influencers,’ the Pentagon should call itself to task and end self-defeating policies that make an exit from Iraq even more difficult than it already is.” Editorial: “Where is the president and his ‘culture of life?’ Has he forgotten there's a war on against terror? Curiously, the Justice Department allowed Mr. Rudolph to plead guilty and avoid the death sentence that in other circumstances the feds have been quite energetic in pursuing. The official explanation was that a trial and a death sentence would have made a "martyr" of this man, who as a high-profile fugitive for five years eluded a giant manhunt and became something of a folk hero in rural Appalachia. But questions will go unanswered that a trial might have resolved. Did Mr. Rudolph think up the idea of becoming a ‘pro-life’ killer all by himself, or did others influence his thinking? He said in his statement he had no ties to the fascist Christian Identity movement. Is that really the case? Did he build, plant and detonate his bombs all by himself, or did he have assistance and support? It's comforting to think Mr. Rudolph was a lone zealot, unless he wasn't. Without a trial, we'll never know. Maybe the prosecutors thought they couldn't get him and so opted for an easy plea. But there are powerful people for whom the spectacle of an unrepentant murderer for the unborn, a clean-cut movie star handsome Christian terrorist, posed political problems. Better to defend life in the abstract, keep the focus on the enemy at the gates and keep skeletons like Eric Rudolph locked up in the closet.” Analysis: “Saddam Hussein’s effigy was pulled down again in Baghdad’s Firdos Square last weekend. But unlike the made-for-TV event when United States troops first entered the Iraqi capital, the toppling of Hussein on the occupation’s second anniversary was different. Instead of being done by US Marines with a few dozen Iraqi bystanders, 300 000 Iraqis were on hand. They threw down effigies of US President George W Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair as well as the old dictator, at a rally that did not celebrate liberation but called for the immediate departure of foreign troops. For most Iraqis, with the exception of the Kurds, Washington’s “liberation” never was. Wounded national pride was greater than relief at Hussein’s departure. Iraqis were soon angered by the failure to get power and water supplies repaired, the brutality of US army tactics, and the disappearance of their country’s precious oil revenues into inadequately supervised accounts, or handed to foreigners under contracts that produced no benefits for Iraqis. From last year’s disastrous attack on Fallujah to the huge increase in detentions without trial, the casualties go on rising. After an amnesty early last year, the numbers of “security detainees” have gone up again and reached a record 17 000. Last weekend’s vast protest shows that opposition is still growing, in spite of US and British government claims to have Iraqis’ best interests at heart. It was the biggest demonstration since foreign troops invaded.” Analysis: “With the demobilisation of an already defunct army and police force, the ratio of security forces to civilians fell overnight from a 34 per 1000 under the ancient regime, to less than three per 1000 under the CPA. Security vacuum was glaring. Worst still, the country was awash with arms. Some 4.5 million pieces, varying from anti- air-craft missiles to mortars and assault rifles, were available to civilians as old army depots were turned into free shopping zones. Another destabilising social element was the rise in criminal violence. In addition tribal war lords and private militias exacerbated volatility. The political vacuum was also a crucial factor. The CPA was an occupying force with which the population could hardly think of cooperating. The absence of an Iraqi government was a source of bitterness and misgivings. The Governing Council (GC) of Iraqis (formed on 13 July 2003) had no powers, and was seen as mere appendix to the CPA. The GC's very structure, based on community quotas, was a driver of conflict. No government, no intelligence, no police, no army. This was a recipe for the civil war that was not. Loss of sovereignty, however bitter, was one way or another less crucial in the eyes of various Iraqi players than the new distribution of power that empowered hitherto disenfranchised communities and groups (Shia, Kurds, or liberals and leftists), and marginalised the masters of yesterdays (the Baath lot). Bitterness expressed at national disempowerment was in essence resentment at this new redistribution of power.” Casualty Reports Local story: Florida soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: New York soldier killed in Iraq.


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