Sunday, May 01, 2005

War News for Sunday, May 1, 2005 Bring 'em on: Five Iraqi policemen killed in well coordinated attack by insurgents at checkpoint south of Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Four Iraqis killed and five wounded in car bomb attack on US convoy in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Two US marines killed Friday in bomb attack in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Three Iraqis killed and one injured in rocket attack on Fallujah. Just numbers: 440 and 501; the numbers of Iraqis killed in March and April respectively. War Crimes: The man who led Britain's armed forces into Iraq has said that Tony Blair and the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, will join British soldiers in the dock if the military are ever prosecuted for war crimes in Iraq. In a remarkably frank interview that goes to the heart of the political row over the Attorney General's legal advice, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, the former Chief of the Defence Staff, said he did not have full legal cover from prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC). 'If my soldiers went to jail and I did, some other people would go with me,' said Boyce. Brief Career: His career in Baghdad was brief. And it ended badly. On a blistering July afternoon, three MP5 submachine guns were pointed at Robert Isakson. The men carrying the weapons wanted his money and his security pass. As Isakson tells it, they also wanted his guns, leaving him unarmed in a mess of a country and banned from its safest haven. "We were defenseless," says the former cop and FBI agent. He had come to Iraq to help rebuild the devastated country, accompanied by his 14-year-old son, Bobby. Now, after less than a month, they were being expelled at gunpoint. By Americans. Custer Battles is one of at least 60 private firms, collectively employing more than 20,000, living in a war zone. They have their own arms, their own vehicles, their own body armor. Some even have their own helicopters. Their security ranks include an assortment of aging warriors who believe they can still laugh at death. At its apex, Custer Battles employed more than 700 people in Iraq working on projects worth at least $100 million. But Custer Battles gained a certain reputation in Iraq. "Probably as gunslingers," a retired lieutenant colonel working for the firm told Chicago public radio last year. For security reasons, he gave his name only as Hank. Satellite Speed Cameras: A US satellite reportedly recorded a checkpoint shooting in Iraq last month, enabling investigators to reconstruct how fast a car carrying a top Italian intelligence official and a freed hostage was traveling when US troops opened fire. Why the need to watch the Italian car with that satellite; it surely means the US knew exactly what was going on? More leaks: For the secret documents — seen by The Sunday Times — reveal that on that Tuesday in 2002: # Blair was right from the outset committed to supporting US plans for “regime change” in Iraq. # War was already “seen as inevitable”. # The attorney-general was already warning of grave doubts about its legality. Straw even said the case for war was “thin”. So Blair and his inner circle set about devising a plan to justify invasion. “If the political context were right,” said Blair, “people would support regime change.” Straightforward regime change, though, was illegal. They needed another reason. Sixty times: A Marine accused of murdering two Iraqi detainees intended to make an example of them by shooting them 60 times and hanging a sign over their bodies, prosecutors said during closing arguments in a pretrial hearing. “There’s no other reason why this stellar lieutenant would have used such poor judgment,” prosecutor Major Stephen Keane said on Saturday. “It is not up to a 2nd lieutenant to violate the law of war and make an example of people he believes are bad.” Why?: "After being in the military for nine years, I feel the military is a sort of family to me, and I realize why a lot of people join the military," he added. "Nobody really joins the military to fight a war for oil ... or to kill children and innocent people." Reed Benet, a businessman and U.S. Marine Corps veteran who organized some Bay Area rallies in 2003 to show support for troops serving in Iraq, said Friday he agrees with Mejia that the war in Iraq seems to be about oil. But while Benet said he'd fight ardently against a draft, today's military is all-volunteer. "Individuals who take it upon themselves to not meet their obligation entered into voluntarily, travel down a slippery slope, and, worst of all, they don't let the system work," he said. "I do not believe ignorance is an excuse, nor is financial need." The Purge Begins: Iraq's Shiite Muslim leadership, alarmed by a surge in attacks as the new government prepares to take office, plans to crack down on Sunni-led insurgents and purge suspected infiltrators and corrupt officers from the nation's security forces, officials and lawmakers say. A likely tactic, authorities say, is unleashing well-trained Iraqi commandos in Baghdad and other trouble spots. The special forces units have a reputation for effectiveness and brutality. Allawi, a secular Shiite who was himself a Baathist turned foe of Hussein, tried with little success to coax insurgents into the government through talks with Sunni tribal leaders and other intermediaries. Although Allawi did sign off on the U.S.-led attack on the former Sunni rebel bastion of Fallouja in November, the Shiite Islamists about to assume power here are clearly signaling a much harder line. "Our policy will be to develop the security forces and uproot the terrorist cells," Jawad Maliki, a prominent member of the dominant Shiite coalition in the new National Assembly, said in an interview here. YD linked this story on Friday; I wonder will the mainstream media ever investigate this offer to free Saddam Hussien. Mission Accomplished: It was two years ago today that President Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq beneath a banner that proclaimed "Mission Accomplished." The "Mission Accomplished" boast has been mocked many times since then because of the failed search for weapons of mass destruction and the continuing violence in Iraq. Nearly 16-hundred U-S troops have been killed in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003. Yesterday was another anniversary: "Do you know how a tiger catches an elephant? The tiger quietly hides in the woods, watching the elephant. When the night comes, the tiger runs out of the woods, catches its prey and tears it. This is what would happen if there is an all-out war between Vietnam and France," said Ho Chi Minh, the founder and president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, in an interview with the New York Times in the summer of 1946. He said the story of the tiger and the elephant shows how wars would go in Indochina. In other words, Vietnam would take a three-step war strategy. The first step of the strategy is focusing on defense and building up power ― strength. Second is attacking the enemy's weaknesses. Last is all-out war. Clearly, Mr. Ho proved it was true in the wars with France and the United States. In 1954 Vietnamese guerrillas defeated the French army in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. The U.S army, which landed in Vietnam after the French withdrawal, lost the war after suffering from guerrilla warfare for nearly 20 years. A unique revolutionary of the 20th century, Mr. Ho's biggest concern was the survival of the fatherland. Therefore, Communist party leaders in Moscow and Beijing sometimes doubted whether he was a true Marxist. Historian William J. Duiker wrote in Mr. Ho's biography that he was a nationalist and a communist at the same time. He was a person who did whatever possible in his own way and tried to adjust ideals to the reality. He was also a pragmatist. The best choice for Mr. Ho could often be the enemy of the good. Even his most stubborn adversary, former U.S. President Lyndon Johnson often said if the two could have met privately, they could have reached an agreement. Mr. Duiker said that Mr. Ho was half Lenin and half Gandhi. It meant that the leader was a perfect strategist, talented organizer and a simple truth seeker. Thirty years ago on April 30, Saigon fell to the Communists. Today, it is Ho Chi Minh City. It The day marks the moment that the United States, which entered Vietnam to block the domino effect of the communism, was defeated for the first time in history. This happened six years after Mr. Ho's death. There are signs that Iraq, which the United States occupies under the slogan of the "war against terror," could evolve into another Vietnam. Both the United States and Iraq might be studying Mr. Ho hard. Blogging Susan, Bob, Cervantes and Josh and many others here have been discussing blogging in various threads over the past few days. Why do we blog? My views are best enscapulated in the following two threads by Juan Cole and Chicken Yoghurt. Have your say.


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