Monday, June 20, 2005

War News for Monday, June 20, 2005 Bring 'em on: As many as twenty policemen killed and fifty wounded in suicide bomb attack during roll call at police headquarters in Arbil. This other news link puts the dead at forty. Bring 'em on: Twenty three people killed and thirty six wounded in a suicide bomb attack on a restaurant popular with Iraqi security forces a few hundred yards from the Green Zone in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Five Iraqi security force members killed in car bomb attack in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: US soldier killed in IED attack in Tal Afar. Bring 'em on: The bodies of seven executed Iraqis found late Saturday in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: US Marine killed by small arms fire near the Syrian border. Totally Implausable: A key Foreign Office diplomat responsible for liaising with UN inspectors says today that claims the government made about Iraq's weapons programme were "totally implausible". He tells the Guardian: "I'd read the intelligence on WMD for four and a half years, and there's no way that it could sustain the case that the government was presenting. All of my colleagues knew that, too". Carne Ross, who was a member of the British mission to the UN in New York during the run-up to the invasion, resigned from the FO last year, after giving evidence to the Butler inquiry. US Allies resist secret deportations: U.S. allies have begun to resist Washington's secretive role in spiriting away terror suspects: Italy is investigating the disappearance of one accused militant as a kidnapping, Sweden wrote rules to assert its authority over outside agents and Canada is holding hearings after one of its citizens was sent to Syria. At least two of the cases bear the hallmarks of the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program — stepped up after Sept. 11 — in which the Bush administration has transferred dozens of suspects to third countries without court approval, subjecting them to possible torture. Senator Chuck Hagel does not drink the kool-aid: "The White House is completely disconnected from reality," said Hagel. "It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq," said Hagel, who added that increasingly, fellow Republicans are coming to share his view. "More and more of my colleagues up here are concerned," he said. Senator John McCain has a lucid moment also: He disagreed Sunday with Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that the insurgency in Iraq is in its "last throes," and called on the Bush administration to stop telling Americans victory is around the corner. Iraqi official has accused the US forces of "indiscriminate killing" and destruction in the Iraqi town of Al-Qa'im, on the Syrian border. 82 Iraqi members of parliament call on occupation forces to leave. Weak links in Washington's war on terror make it unlikely that Osama bin Laden will be apprehended in the near future, CIA Director Porter Goss said in a magazine interview, although he has an "excellent idea" of the Al-Qaeda leader's whereabouts. "I have an excellent idea of where (Osama bin Laden) is," Goss told Time in an interview set to hit newsstands Monday. But he added: "In the chain that you need to successfully wrap up the war on terror, we have some weak links. And I find that until we strengthen all the links, we're probably not going to be able to bring Mr. Bin Laden to justice." CNN Late Edition:
BLITZER: Do you have an excellent idea of where Osama Bin Laden is? REP. CURT WELDON (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, Wolf, not right now I don't. But I have given three specific instances to the CIA, two to Porter Goss and one to George Tenet over the past two years. I'm confident that I know for sure he's been in and out of Iran, where Ayatollah Khomenei has been protecting him with his Revolutionary Guard. Two years ago, he was in the southern town of Ladis (ph), ten kilometers inside the Pakistan border. I also know that earlier this year, he had a meeting with al-Zarqawi in Tehran. His whereabouts right now, no, I do not know. BLITZER: How can you be so confident of that when the CIA says they're not confident of that? They dismiss it. WELDON: Two years ago, the CIA was totally dismissing that bin Laden would be in Iran. But if you look at the recent comments coming out of both the CIA and some of our military generals in theater, they're now acknowledging the same thing that I've been saying -- that in fact, he's been in and out of Iran. No one can prove it exactly until we capture him. But you asked my opinion. My opinion is he's been in and out of Iran several times over the past several years.
More on the fuck-up and move-up promotions of officers that were on duty when Abu Ghraib happened. Billmon blogs about it. Secretary of State Condolezza Rice now says American must make a generational commitment to Iraq. 30 years anyone? Opinion and Commentary Juan Cole today:
The United States has failed militarily in Iraq, and the situation there is deteriorating rapidly. A protracted guerrilla war is increasingly becoming an unconventional civil war. The US can mount operations against infiltrators on the Syrian border, but cannot permanently close off those borders. The US can prevent set piece battles from being fought by militias. It cannot prevent night-time raids. Seven bodies showed up Sunday in East Baghdad, executed. They were almost certainly victims of this shadowy sectarian war. snip Would the Iraqi government accept a United Nations military mission? Almost certainly. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has often attempted to involve the UN, and would welcome such a development. The Sunni Arabs would also much prefer to deal with the UN than with the US. Would the United Nations be willing to take it on? It would be a very hard sell. But remember that if the members of the military mission succeeded, they would have gained enormous good will from the Iraqi government, which would soon be able to pump 5 million barrels of petroleum a day. That is, participation could be worth billions in future contracts. The US could also provide substantial incentives. For countries like Pakistan, India, and Malaysia, such benefits could prove decisive. Would the Americans be willing to cede Iraq to the blue helmets? It is not impossible. US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appears to want to draw down US troop strength in Iraq on a fairly short timetable, and even he must realize the need for a replacement. Of course, the Bush administration may well resist this move right to the end. But that makes this plan an ideal platform for the Democratic Party in 2006 and 2008. Instead of Kerry's vague multilateralism, let us specify an UNTAC-like mission for the UN. The entire world depends on Gulf petroleum; the entire world should step up to ensure security for Iraq and the region. The US will continue to have to bear a significant share of the costs, but these would become bearable if several allies shared them.
Easy to be Macho:
It's easy to be macho when you have nothing at risk. The hawks want the war to be fought with other people's children, while their own children go safely off to college, or to the mall. The number of influential American officials who have children in uniform in Iraq is minuscule. Most Americans want no part of Mr. Bush's war, which is why Army recruiters are failing so miserably at meeting their monthly enlistment quotas. Desperate, the Army is lowering its standards, shortening tours, increasing bonuses and violating its own recruitment regulations and ethical guidelines. Americans do not want to fight this war.
$50 to plant a bomb:
Numbering in the millions, Iraq's unemployed have found little refuge in an economy derailed by two years of relentless insurgent attacks. Many have not had steady jobs since the United States dissolved the Iraqi army after the 2003 invasion. And U.S. and Iraqi officials acknowledge that every young man without work is a potential recruit for insurgents who pay as little as $50 to people who plant explosives on a highway or shoot a policeman. "The longer this goes on, we are asking for trouble because we are breeding more and more insurgents," said Muhammed Uthman, an Iraqi businessman and former oil ministry official who serves on a panel that advises the government on reconstruction. "Unemployment is exactly what the terrorists want." A report published last month by the government and the United Nations put the unemployment rate at 27 percent. But many experts here say the actual number is probably closer to 50 percent or more because the survey was not conducted in some of the least stable parts of the country and because many Iraqis work unreliable part-time jobs.
Friedman Dead Wrong:
Republicans and Democrats alike are trapped in the logic that U.S. troops are bringing "stability" to Iraq while democracy sets its roots. Those Republicans who criticize the president - and the number is growing - actually argue that we need to send more troops to create more stability. Writing in the New York Times this week, columnist Thomas Friedman suggests that: "Ever since Iraq's remarkable election, the country has been descending deeper and deeper into violence. But no one in Washington wants to talk about it ... Maybe it's too late, but before we give up on Iraq, why not actually try to do it right? Double the American boots on the ground." Ah, the echoes of Vietnam. I think he's dead wrong. American troops aren't the solution to the problem. They are the problem. Like the Mexican finger trap that pulls tighter and tighter the more we pull against it, American troops are the incendiary fuel that sustains the insurgency, turning fascists into patriots, crackpot extremists into defenders of religion, all the while making allies out of mortal enemies. Our occupation creates the insurgency and compromises the ability of Iraq's newly elected government to claim any legitimacy on its own. George Bush is not a man of nuance. He lives in a black and white world. Our troops are good and noble (notwithstanding a few maniac prison guards). Those who oppose us are savages. His arrogance makes him blind to the most basic, universal truth of community.


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