War News for Monday, May 30, 2005
Bring 'em on: British soldier killed by IED and four injured in al-Amarah
Bring 'em on: Twenty five sacked ex commandos queuing for back pay killed and one hundred injured in twin suicide bomb attack in Hilla
Bring 'em on: Iraqi police general critically injured after attempted assassination in Kirkuk
Bring 'em on: Leader of largest Sunni political party, considered a moderate, arrested along with his three sons and four guards in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi police sergeants working for the Iraqi Cabinet gunned down in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Fifty insurgents launched a sustained attack on Sunday on the detention center run by the Interior Ministry's major crimes unit in Amariya
, according to an unconfirmed account by an Amariya resident who was reached by telephone, insurgent bands roaming the district after the battle claimed to have captured weapons from the detention center's armory.
Bring 'em on: Five suicide bombs in six hours kill twenty members of Iraqi security forces in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Oil infrastructure attacked on the outskirts of Baghdad
Bring 'em on: South Korean base comes under fire in Irbil
: It emerged yesterday that up to 11 members of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment could be charged under war crimes legislation enacted in 2001 after the establishment of the international criminal court. The soldiers would face trial in the UK under the ICC act.
Averting Civil War
: Iraq's religious leaders are intensifying efforts to heal the rifts between the country's Sunnis and Shias amid a spate of sectarian killings that has raised fears of civil war. A weekend meeting between senior figures from the Sunni Association of Muslim Clerics and the Shia Badr Brigades - the militia of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the biggest Shia party - sought to ease tensions caused by the killing of at least 14 Sunni clerics in the past month.
: In the past year, about 10 percent of Baghdad's total force of 32,000 registered doctors, both Sunnis and Shiites, have been driven from their jobs, according to the Iraqi Medical Association, which licenses practitioners. The exodus has accelerated in recent months, said Akif Khalil al-Alousi, a pathologist at Kindi Teaching Hospital and a senior member of the association. The vast majority of those fleeing, he said, are the most senior doctors.
The Interior Ministry has already responded to the threats: It simplified gun license procedures for doctors. They can get licensed weapons faster than other Iraqis.
Dr. Omar al-Kubaisy, one of the doctors who stopped going to work at the cardiac hospital after he was threatened, kept going to work at his own clinic, watched over by his 23-year-old son Ali, who stood guard with a large and always visible semi-automatic gun. But last week, Kubaisy, one of Iraq's top cardiologists, left for France.
Emergencies are nonstop. Civilian deaths have jumped five-fold since the new government took power late last month. One physician estimated that about 250 Iraqi doctors had been kidnapped over the past two years. The simple quest for money which fuels the country's serious, widespread kidnapping industry appears to be the biggest motivation.
Opinion and Commentary
Operation Lightning: Is Iraq another Honduras
In the interview above Carafano states that there's little chance that this will round up real terrorists, because they were given plenty of notice and have probably already taken off for part or parts unknown. So what is the real purpose of Operation Lightning? Perhaps it is a continuation of a tactic used by John Negroponte in Honduras, i.e., use "elite" militias within the larger indigenous force to terrorize the locals and round up, imprison, interrogate and maybe "disappear" alleged bad guys without a search warrant approved by a judge or the benefits of a lawyer to argue the case.
Ah, but who cares? It's not as if the other guys bleed or feel anything but hate, right?
For all intents and purposes, due to the bungling at the beginning of the occupation, every Iraqi has become the "enemy" and young Americans, who went to Iraq believing that they were the good guys fighting the people who attacked us on 9-11, find themselves in an intolerable situation. They now know that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. There were no WMDs. The Iraqi Army turned out to be a ragtag paper tiger. And the "enemy" fights the same kind of war we would fight if someone invaded our country. (I refer you to the movies "Red Dawn" and "V".) Recent studies show that 15-17% of returnees need psychiatric help for a variety of post-traumatic stress disorders.
Operation Lightening: Starting a Civil War
If this Baghdad offensive is launched, it will result in an escalation of U.S. war crimes and outrage against the U.S. and the new Iraqi "government."
Obviously, the Americans are unwilling to take the casualties of house-to-house searches. That job falls to the Iraqi troops who are being set against their own people.
If insurgents remain and fight, U.S. airpower will be used to pulverize the buildings, and "collateral damage" will be high.
If insurgents leave and cause mayhem elsewhere, large numbers of innocent Iraqis will be detained as suspected insurgents. After all, you can't conduct such a large operation without results.
As most households have guns, which are required for protection as there is no law and order, "males of military age" will be detained from these armed households as suspected insurgents.
The detentions of thousands more Iraqis will result in more torture and abuses. Consequently, the ranks of the active insurgency will grow.
Neocon court historians of empire, such as Niall Ferguson, claim that the U.S. cannot withdraw from Iraq because the result would be a civil war and bloodbath. However, a bloodbath is what has been going on since the ill-fated "cakewalk" invasion. Moreover, the planned Baghdad offensive is itself the beginning of a civil war. The 50,000 troops represent a Shi'ite government. These troops will be hunting Sunnis. There is no better way to start a civil war.
As George W. Bush has made clear many times, he is incapable of admitting a mistake. The inability to admit a mistake makes rational behavior impossible. In place of thought, the Bush administration relies on coercion and violence. Nevertheless, Congress does not have to be a doormat for a war criminal. It can put a halt to Bush's madness.
The solution is not to reduce Iraq to rubble. The U.S. can end the bloodshed by exiting Iraq. A solution is for Iraq to organize as a republic of three largely autonomous states or provinces - Shi'ite, Sunni, and Kurd - along the lines of the original American republic. The politicians within each province will be too busy fighting one another for power to become militarily involved with those in other provinces.
Do more than mourn on Memorial Day
The Constitution, according to its preamble, was "ordain(ed) and "establish(ed)" by "We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union (and) ... provide for the common defense."
Defense. The military exists to defend Americans against those who threaten us. It is not intended to be an instrument of offense against sovereign nations, however despotic their regimes.
And the exploitation of our soldiers doesn't end when their tours are over.
How do our leaders show their gratitude to those who are lucky enough to make it home? By pinching pennies on veterans' benefits and forcing them to pay more for the health care they need because they were put in harm's way for the rest of us.
If the war's human cost is not compelling enough, consider the economic cost to the nation. The price tag for Iraq has now climbed above $200 billion, in a nation buckling under the strain of debt and still neglecting many domestic priorities in areas like education and health care.
The social, political and economic reconstruction of Iraq must continue to be a priority. But that is a development task, not a military mission, which cannot be accomplished in the context of an occupation.
Furthermore, there must be accountability in the reconstruction process, which has been marred by reports of mismanagement and corruption. Earlier this month, government investigators revealed that nearly $100 million in construction money has disappeared and was possibly embezzled.
Let's make this Memorial Day more than the traditional day of mourning and tribute. Let's make it a day of action. Let's dedicate ourselves, as a nation, to ending this violent, unnecessary conflict.
If people happen to have been discussing constitutions anywhere in the world recently, it's a fair bet they were talking about the EU, not Iraq. Yet what is happening in Baghdad probably matters much more than any knife-edge referendums in Paris or The Hague.
Iraqis, facing an insurgency that has killed 600 people this month, have to do what the French, Dutch and other Europeans - looking beyond the nation state to something new - no longer have to worry about: build a working democracy from scratch now that the Ba'athist system of Arab socialism, freedom and unity has gone the way of all tyrannies.
It really doesn't matter what you think of George Bush, Tony Blair, or their case for war. This - along with an awful lot of other things - has to be done if the occupation is to end and the country is to come out of it in reasonable shape.
But US neocons willing a new Middle East to emerge from the rubble make it sound far too easy, fantasising about a Philadelphia-on-the-Tigris, where the founding fathers of free Iraq will be moved by the vision of 1787 to overcome their differences and strike grand bargains as they look, misty-eyed, to some shining city on a hill.
Words like "democratic", "pluralistic" and "inclusive", bandied about by an anxious Condoleezza Rice, ring hollow behind the heavily guarded walls of the Green Zone in Baghdad while mass unemployment, power shortages, sectarian incitement and suicide bombings continue outside.
Momentum was lost after the January 30 elections in haggling over a government dominated by Shia Muslims and Kurds, and it will be hard to meet the August 15 deadline for completing the constitution. Opting for a six-month delay is possible, but more uncertainty might help keep violence going.
Process is vital, since writing a constitution is the only non-violent opportunity to build a workable compromise. Last week, a 55-strong parliamentary drafting committee was expanded, at US urging, to become a 101-member commission. It will permit greater representation for the Sunni minority, which lost most with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, largely boycotted the elections and forms the backbone of the insurgency.
And the Winner is
That's at least one surprising answer to the question of who is coming out on top in the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Everything has gone very well for the Iranians," says Juan Cole, a professor specializing in Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, a view echoed by many others who study the region.
"They had two major geopolitical enemies on the region. One was the Taliban and the other was Saddam Hussein," Cole says. "So from their point of view, the United States has very helpfully removed their major problems.
"And not only has it removed those major problems, it has installed regimes that have strong traditional alliances with the Iranians," he says.
It can certainly be assumed that it was not the intention of the Bush administration when it embarked on these military adventures to aid a member of the so-called "axis of evil." Bush put Iran on that axis, along with Saddam Hussein's Iraq and North Korea.
But that's the way it has worked out.
"It's a very odd outcome," says Shibley Telhami, professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, College Park. "I don't think the administration ever thought we would be where we are today."
Where we are is not only were Iran's enemies vanquished by the U.S.-led forces, but the government now in power in Baghdad has longstanding ties to Iran, turning those former enemies into potentially strong allies.
"Iraq was the major competitor with Iran in the Persian Gulf," Telhami says. "The intentional strategy of the United States for decades was to maintain that balance of power, not to allow one of them to dominate, to use one against the other.
"What you have now is Iraq really disappearing as a strategic player in the gulf for the foreseeable future," he says. "It will not be able to threaten anyone militarily. And that leaves Iran as the sole power in the gulf, except for the American military presence."