Monday, April 04, 2005

War News for Monday, April 4, 2005; 1100GMT Bring 'em on: US soldier killed by roadside bomb in Bayji. Bring 'em on: A foreigner, with western features, working as a private guard, was killed and others in his convoy were wounded when they were ambushed near Balad. Bring 'em on: Two traffic policemen gunned down in Mosul. Bring 'em on: Bodies of two Iraqi army officers found in Mosul. Bring 'em on: US soldier killed in bomb attack in Hadithah. Bring 'em on: Three people wounded by roadside bomb near Abu Ghraib. Who is the enemy? It has been established beyond doubt that the March 4 death in Iraq of a Bulgarian soldier, Candidate Officer Gurdi Gurdev, was caused by an exchange of gunfire between Bulgarian and US forces, the Defence Ministry in Sofia announced. Guerrilla Warfare 101 Because at least some Iraqis were determined to get us out of their country, using guerrilla warfare tactics and terrorism against us and those Iraqis who supported us, we had to use our military forces to set parameters on the issues, the personnel and the form of this expression of freedom. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau long ago advocated, we decided to force men to be free. The fact that, however unfree they were, the elections were held was hailed as a great victory for democracy. I remain unconvinced. I suspect that two fatal flaws will soon become evident: a heightening of the divisive tendencies already inherent in Iraqi society and a devaluation of the very concept of representative government. Our policies on security are similarly subject to different interpretation. Where we have done most of what we have done in the name of security, our critics in Iraq have sought sovereignty. We believed that security had to come first. A close reading of history leads me to believe that the order is usually the reverse. When foreigners get out, insurgencies stop; they do not stop, no matter how massive the force used against them or how costly in blood and treasure the cost of fighting is, until the foreigners leave. This surely is the lesson of Ireland, Çeçneya, Algeria, and even of our own Revolution. I predict it will be of Iraq too. War is always unpredictable no matter how powerful the advantages one side seems to have at the beginning; the second is that they are always horrible. Not only are people killed or severely harmed, but whole societies, even of the victors, are brutalized . This was true of the British in Kenya, the French in Algeria, the Americans in the Philippines, the Russians in Central Asia, and the Chinese in Tibet. Finally, guerrilla wars are, at best, unwinnable – lasting as in Ireland for centuries and in Algeria for a century and a half. Çeçneya suffered massacre, deportation, rape and massive destruction for nearly four centuries and still is not “pacified.” No one wins a guerrilla war; both sides lose. The only sensible policy is one that aims to stop them not to win them. Looting and Bombing Iraqi Heritage As well as the Malwiya minaret, two other symbols of Iraq have also suffered damage at the hands of the US military. The second is the Arch of Ctesiphon, the 30-metre high gate of a Sassanian palace built in the 4th century and remodelled by the reformist King Chosroes I in the 6th century. The arch is the largest single span vault of unreinforced brickwork in the world and is one of its historical wonders. During World War II British troops fighting the Ottomans at Kut were told that the arch was not to be shelled even if the Turks were using the ruins of the palace as a firing or observation post. The arch was damaged in the 1991 Gulf war by US bombing. By the time the US resumed all-out war on Iraq in 2003 the state of the arch seems to have deteriorated seriously, almost certainly due to neglect. In April 2003, a briefing officer of US-allied Australian forces said that "the arch is in such poor condition that even a surgical strike against an individual vehicle [halted beneath the arch] could cause it to fall because of the shock waves from an explosion." Unesco has proposed a plan to stabilise the site but it has been able to implement this plan due to the lack of security in the country. The third symbol is the famous Ishtar Gate of the ancient city of Babylon. Although the top portion of the portal, covered in glazed bricks decorated with dragons and other mythical creatures, was carted off to Berlin by the Germans, the lower unglazed section remains in place. At least nine of the molded bricks bearing the images of dragons have been damaged, some by a thief trying to prise them out. Since Babylon was being used by US and Polish forces as a military depot and base until mid-January of this year, the officers and men of the contingents concentrated there are responsible for the damage. For nearly two years archaeologists from the Department of Antiquities were not given free access to the site. They only obtained this when it was returned to the Ministry of Culture in January. Blackwater Tactical Weekly Dated 7 March and bearing the name of Blackwater's president, Gary Jackson, the electronic newsletter adds that terrorists 'need to get creamed, and it's fun, meaning satisfying, to do the shooting of such folk.' Human rights groups said yesterday that the comments raised fresh questions over the role of civilian contractors operating in Iraq and other world flashpoints. 'We are very concerned about the increased use of security companies, there needs to be more inspection and regulation of these companies,' said a spokesman for Amnesty International. Blackwater has already been the subject of lobbying efforts to introduce tighter regulations on private military operations in Iraq. It is one of the fastest growing private security firms in the world, and achieved global prominence last year when four of its men were ambushed by a crowd of Iraqis and their bodies mutilated and dragged around the Iraqi city of Falluja. The controversial wording of the Blackwater bulletin appears to be an attempt to criticise the 'righteous outcry' that followed a recent statement from a senior US Marine general who, on returning home from Iraq, claimed it was 'fun to shoot some people'. While the views of Lieutenant-General James Mattis drew a frosty response from the Pentagon, others said his observations reflected the harsh realities of war. Thanks to regular reader Dana for this story Justification for War An alcoholic cousin of an aide to Ahmed Chalabi has emerged as the key source in the US rationale for going to war in Iraq. According to a US presidential commission looking into pre-war intelligence failures, the basis for pivotal intelligence on Iraq's alleged biological weapons programmes and fleet of mobile labs was a spy described as 'crazy' by his intelligence handlers and a 'congenital liar' by his friends. The defector, given the code-name Curveball by the CIA, has emerged as the central figure in the corruption of US intelligence estimates on Iraq. Despite considerable doubts over Curveball's credibility, his claims were included in the administration's case for war without caveat. According to the report, the failure of US spy agencies to scrutinise his claims are the 'primary reason' that they 'fundamentally misjudged the status of Iraq's [biological weapons] programs'. The catalogue of failures and the gullibility of US intelligence make for darkly comic reading, even by the standards of failure detailed in previous investigations. Of all the disproven pre-war weapons claims, from aluminium centrifuge tubes to yellow cake uranium from Niger, none points to greater levels of incompetence than those found within the misadventures of Curveball. The Americans never had direct access to Curveball - he was controlled by the German intelligence services who passed his reports on to the Defence Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon's spy agency. Redeployment of British troops to Afghanistan Defence sources have told the Scotsman that Britain is preparing to spearhead a new offensive in Afghanistan next year, sending 5,000 troops into the country to lead the hunt for Osama bin Laden and tackle the country’s opium trade. Military commanders in Iraq believe the campaign there has "turned the corner" and the country’s own security forces are now able to take on a greater burden of the struggle against the insurgency that has gripped Iraq since the United States-led invasion two years ago. Tony Blair hopes this will allow some 5,500 of the 9,500 strong British garrison in Iraq to be withdrawn by April next year, with the remaining troops being pulled back out of harm’s way to a small number of remote desert bases away from population centres. Afghanistan is to be the British military’s "main effort" during 2006, according to army officers who say it is hoped that Iraq will have calmed down enough by the spring next year to allow resources to be switched to the new campaign. Will someone please remind me why the hunt for Osama Bin Laden was scaled back so that Iraq could be invaded on the intelligence provided by an alcoholic?


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