War News for Friday, May 27, 2005
Bring 'em on: Two US airmen killed after their helicopter came under small arms fire and subsequently crashed near Baqubah
Bring 'em on: Fears grow that a Jordanian and two Iraqi drivers that were recently kidnapped have been executed
Bring 'em on: Three Iraqi civilians killed when US forces opened fire on their minibus in southern Baghdad
Three hundred Filipino workers have gone on strike in Camp Cooke in Taji
. I wonder what Michelle Magalanglagalalallan will say.
In Baghdad, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari told a small group of Western reporters that next week's planned crackdown, dubbed Operation Lightning, was designed "to restore the initiative to the government." Insurgents have killed more than 620 people since his government was announced on April 28.
"We will establish, with God's help, an impenetrable blockade surrounding Baghdad like a bracelet surrounds a wrist," Defense Minister Saadoun al-Duleimi said.
Iraqi authorities did not say how long the crackdown would last, and it was uncertain if the Iraq security services are capable of mounting a sustained operation. Except for a few elite units, most police officers are believed to have joined up for the higher pay the job provides -- at $300 per month their salaries are triple the average wage.
Waiting for Peace
Another Bushism for the collection: Click here
"See in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
More Pictures from Abu Ghraib
A federal judge has told the US government it will have to release additional pictures of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, civil rights lawyers said. Judge Alvin Hellerstein, stated that the public has a right to see the pictures and told the government yesterday he will sign an order requiring it to release them to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the lawyers said.
The judge made the decision after he and government attorneys privately viewed a sampling of nine pictures resulting from an Army probe into abuse and torture at the prison. The pictures were given to the Army by a military policeman assigned there.
ACLU lawyer Megan Lewis told the judge she believes the government has pictures of abuse beyond the Abu Ghraib images that sparked outrage around the world after they were leaked to the media last year.
India - Shops, schools and banks were shut on Friday in Indian-administered Kashmir in protest at reports of desecrations of the Quran at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, witnesses said.
The one-day strike in India’s only Muslim-majority state was called by hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani and backed by the revolt-hit region’s leading women’s separatist group, Dukhtaran-e-Milat or Daughters of Faith.
The protest closed down shops, schools, banks as well as most government and private offices in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir.
Opinion and Commentary
Divide and Conquer
The motive of some other bombing attacks is less clear. Faced with a population that wants the U.S. force to leave their country, Washington stands to gain from what is often vaguely reported in the U.S. mass media as “sectarian violence.”
The big-business media is aiding and abetting imperialist efforts to drive a wedge between Sunnis and Shias. Although some dispute these figures, they say the Sunnis make up some 20 percent of the population and that they held greater political power in the Ba’athist government; thus the U.S. media treats them as the “bad guys.”
On May 22 Associated Press writer Paul Garwood wrote, “The Sunni fall from grace is regarded by many as a key source of Iraq’s raging insurgency, which claimed more victims Sunday, including Trade Ministry official Ali Moussa and his driver.”
What’s missing? No mention of the imperialist occupation fueling the resistance.
This AP report’s approach is just the visible tip of the iceberg of Washington’s attempts to pit Sunnis and Shias and Kurds against each other. It’s an effort to keep the entire population divided in order to steal Iraq’s natural wealth and defeat the fight against the occupation.
But the insurgency is so tenacious and so strong that even some of the brass hats themselves are, well, down.
Many years and many more troops are the best that even the most optimistic of the “unnamed” officials are willing to venture it would take to “stabilize” Iraq. By stable, they mean winning enough class peace to plunder Iraq’s vast resources.
But the insurgency has claimed the lives of an estimated hundreds of mercenaries and contractors working for the Pentagon. As a result, a big chunk of those billions of dollars earmarked to build the infrastructure—necessary, for example, to funnel out Iraq’s vast oil reserves—is being channeled instead into military “security.”
For the people of Iraq, after enduring two years of life under occupation, most of the 27-million-strong population is still without adequate electricity, sewage disposal, clean water or other essential services.
Conditions like these, and the military boot heel of the occupation, drive the Iraqi people’s determination to resist the occupation.
What it really costs
As we begin a long Memorial Day weekend, the least we can do is finally, even at this late date, be honest about how difficult and costly the war in Iraq is going to be for the men and women fighting and dying for us there.
Niall Ferguson gave us a measure of that reality this week in a New York Times op-ed piece. Ferguson, a professor of history at Harvard, argued that to defeat the insurgency in Iraq and establish a modicum of stability there would take one million U.S. soldiers and possibly 30 to 60 years. That contrasts to the 138,000 soldiers there now and a prevailing belief that we will start to draw down troops next year - before the midterm elections.
Ferguson bases his estimates partly on the British experience in Iraq after World War I. The British, he says, put down an insurgency with a troop to population ratio of 1 to 23. The ratio there today is 1 to 174. He points out that the overwhelming number of British troops came from India, a type of manpower resource Washington doesn't have. And Ferguson says that many liberals in the United States don't grasp how high a price the United States will pay, in terms of its own security, if the mission fails and Iraq falls into civil war and chaos.
Even if you believe that Ferguson's estimates of manpower and time are high, the overall point is sobering: There has been and continues to be a tragic mismatch between the Bush administration's reach and its grasp. The administration grossly underestimated what it would take to make Iraq whole after the invasion. In fact, there were reports this week from a top meeting of U.S. military officials that the plan to start withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq next year is premature given the deteriorating military situation.
The Resilient Liar
For several years now, a favorite slogan of anti-war protestors has been, quite simply, two words: "Bush Lies." But George W. Bush's reputation as a straight-talking president has proved remarkably resilient. Faced with the failure to find even a single weapon of mass destruction in Iraq, this president has floated above charges of cooking intelligence like a cork on a stormy ocean.
But now it's time to demand accountability from the president. The recently obtained top-secret memo recording a meeting of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his closest ministers and aides shows that, by July 2002, Bush knew that the evidence for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was weak but had decided to go to war anyway. So far, the president's aides have made sure that none of the war protestors' claims would stick to their man. But as the toll of death and injury continues to mount in Iraq, this new evidence that the "case was thin" for war may prove more difficult to evade.