Sunday, June 19, 2005

War News for Sunday, June 19, 2005 Bring 'em on: Correspondent for television channel Al Arabiya seriously wounded in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi soldiers and one civilian killed and thirteen others injured in suicide bomb attack on a checkpoint in Tikrit. Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi policemen killed in a raid on their patrol in western Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Nine coalition troops reported killed in mortar attack in Fallujah. Bring 'em on: Casualties reported after car bomb attack outside Shia mosque in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi police officers killed by gunmen in northern Baghdad. Doctors go on strike in Baquba: Doctors at the main hospital in Baquba, north of Baghdad, have gone on strike, saying they are fed up with constant abuse at the hands of aggressive Iraqi police and soldiers. More on Operation Whack a Mole: "It's like hunting birds," said Colonel Steve Davis of the U.S. Marines as he surveyed the ruins of what he said was an insurgent base in Karabila on Saturday. "You shoot a few, the rest fly away. You shoot a few again, the rest fly away again." Neoconservative doing well in Iranian Elections:
He is seen to be an ultra-conservative, having also been a top commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the regime’s ideological army. Following the 1979 Islamic revolution he became a member of the Office for Strengthening Unity. He belonged to the ultra-conservative faction of the OSU. According to other OSU officials, when the idea of storming the U.S. embassy in Tehran was raised in the OSU central committee by Mahmoud Mirdamadi and Abbas Abdi, who later became leading figures in President Mohammad Khatami’s faction, Ahmadinejad suggested storming the Soviet embassy at the same time. Ahmadinejad’s activities in the Revolutionary Guards were directly related to suppression of dissidents in Iran and terrorist attacks abroad. A recently revealed document has shown his involvement in planning an attempt on the life of the Indian-born British author Salman Rushdie. He served as governor-general of Ardebil Province (northwest Iran) during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War. He is presently a member of the right-wing Association of Engineers and a member of the central council of the Society of the Devotees of the Islamic Revolution As mayor of Tehran, he moved to restrict activities in cultural centres in the capital, turning them into religious centres.
Mission Not Accomplished President George W Bush has rejected calls for a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and tried to counter growing impatience with the war by calling it a "vital test" for American security. "The mission isn't easy, and it will not be accomplished overnight," Bush said in his weekly radio address. Coming under renewed attack for his rationale for invading Iraq in March 2003, Bush described the conflict as part of the broader US war on terrorism. He said stabilising Iraq and quelling the insurgency were important for American interests. "Some may disagree with my decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but all of us can agree that the world's terrorists have now made Iraq a central front in the war on terror," Bush said. "By making their stand in Iraq, the terrorists have made Iraq a vital test for the future security of our country and the free world," he added. A congressional resolution proposed this week calls on the Bush administration to develop a strategy for removing all US troops from Iraq and to begin the withdrawal by October 1 next year. Two Republicans are among its backers. Opinion and Commentary Decision to go to War:
Highly classified documents leaked in Britain appear to provide new evidence that President Bush and his national security team decided to invade Iraq much earlier than they have acknowledged and marched to war without dwelling on the potential perils. The half-dozen memos and option papers, written by top aides to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, buttress previous on-the-record accounts that portray Bush and his advisers as predisposed to oust Saddam Hussein when they took office - and determined to do it at all costs after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Blair is Bush's closest global partner, and the documents, startlingly frank at times, were never meant to become public. Now they have rocketed around the Internet and been seized on by opponents of the Iraq war as evidence that the president and his administration were not leveling with the American people about their war preparations.
What will this Action achieve?:
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw questioned the stability of a post-Hussein Iraq. "We have also to answer the big question, What will this action achieve? There seems to be a larger hole in this than on anything," he said in a March 25, 2002, memo to Blair. "Most of the assessments from the U.S. have assumed regime change as a means of eliminating Iraq's WMD threat," he said. "But none has satisfactorily answered how that regime change is to be secured and how there can be any certainty that the replacement regime will be better. Iraq has had NO history of democracy, so no one has this habit or experience."
WMD or a Grudge?:
When Prime Minister Tony Blair's chief foreign policy adviser dined with Condoleezza Rice six months after Sept. 11, the then-U.S. national security adviser didn't want to discuss Osama bin Laden or al-Qaida. She wanted to talk about "regime change" in Iraq, setting the stage for the U.S.-led invasion more than a year later. President Bush wanted Blair's support, but British officials worried the White House was rushing to war, according to a series of leaked secret Downing Street memos that have renewed questions and debate about Washington's motives for ousting Saddam Hussein. In one of the memos, British Foreign Office political director Peter Ricketts openly asks whether the Bush administration had a clear and compelling military reason for war. "U.S. scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and al-Qaida is so far frankly unconvincing," Ricketts says in the memo. "For Iraq, `regime change' does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge between Bush and Saddam."
Goading Saddam was Illegal:
A sharp increase in British and American bombing raids on Iraq in the run-up to war “to put pressure on the regime” was illegal under international law, according to leaked Foreign Office legal advice. The advice was first provided to senior ministers in March 2002. Two months later RAF and USAF jets began “spikes of activity” designed to goad Saddam Hussein into retaliating and giving the allies a pretext for war. The Foreign Office advice shows military action to pressurise the regime was “not consistent with” UN law, despite American claims that it was.
Rummy in Wonderland!:
Tell Americans the painful truth about what's going on in Iraq and what must be done to overcome an insurgency that is not in its "last throes," in Vice President Dick Cheney's absurdly optimistic words. That's the message that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld must hear. Neither he nor other key members of President George W. Bush's foreign policy team can continue to try to bridge the yawning gap between what they say is steady improvement in Iraq's security nightmare and what is actually happening on the ground. The Pentagon says there are enough U.S. troops in Iraq to defeat the insurgency. U.S. commanders in Iraq, from the lowest to the highest levels, say there are not enough troops deployed to make a significant difference, despite their technological and firepower advantages. As one high-level officer in Iraq put it recently, "We have all the toys but not enough boys." But the Pentagon has no plans to add troops, and even if it did, it is hampered by the failure to meet military recruitment goals by as much as 40 percent, a reflection of growing popular disenchantment with the war. The paucity of U.S. troops in Iraq and the difficulty in training a sufficient number of Iraqi forces point to two key - and disastrous - decisions Rumsfeld made before the invasion and as the occupation began. He insisted the war could be won with a minimal force, far less than some experienced commanders suggested, because of the superb training and technological superiority of U.S. troops. When it came to the actual invasion and the blitzkrieg defeat of Saddam Hussein's army, he was right. But he was grievously wrong when it came to the force it would take to secure Iraq afterward and ward off formation of a resistance movement. That mistake was compounded tragically when the American proconsul in Iraq as occupation chief, Ambassador Paul Bremer, implemented the decision to disband the entire Iraqi army in a misguided attempt at de-Baathification. That left out in the cold 400,000 soldiers with no pay, lots of weapons and a huge grudge. Inevitably, many of them drifted to the nascent insurgency. That decision, it could be argued, provided a bigger boost to the insurgency than any other. And Iraq is still paying for it, in blood and disorder.
Afghanistan Effect:
There are fears of an 'Afghanistan effect' in a new generation of young men, inspiring them to fight the Americans in Iraq in the same way that a previous generation flocked to fight the Russians. In the past six months, old and dormant networks - including some that had been concerned with violence in north Africa, others with the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and others in criminality - have been reactivated across Europe. Some intelligence sources believe that there are now up to 21 networks active in Europe, some of them linked to more than 60 groups in the Mahgreb area of north Africa, involved in training and recruitment of volunteers, many for suicide bombing missions in Iraq.
Hearts and Minds will follow:
"When you have them by the throat, their minds and hearts will follow," said former US President Richard Nixon. How very wrong he was. The Vietnam War was a humiliating defeat for the US forces. But after all the bloodshed, the senseless deaths and the suffering of maimed and deformed children, nothing was gained from that war. The Vietnam War was one clear example of how not to fight insurgency. Any regime change by brute military forces is doomed to fail, but George W. Bush and his administration haven’t learned the lesson. History shows that only political solutions solve what is essentially a political and religious problem. In the case of Iraq, the Bush policy of using unrestrained brute force, torture physical and psychological only serves to intensify the hatred of the Muslim opponents to the U-led invasion. That anger and hatred are so easily inflamed by well-orchestrated propaganda as seen in the aftermath of the Newsweek story on the abuses in the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay where pages of the Muslim sacred book, the Koran, were reportedly flushed down the toilet. The magazine report was brandished by Imran Khan,a Pakistani politician at a press conference. The report incited riots by extremists in Afghanistan in which 17 people were killed. The Bush administration took Newsweek to task for irresponsible reporting and forced it to apologize. The White House spokesman Scott McClellan called on the magazine to "help repair the damage that has been done." But should it be those responsible for the invasion, torture and widespread prisoner abuse that should be held accountable? The magazine was exonerated when documents optioned through the US freedom of information act gave eyewitness accounts of acts of desecration of the Koran. These accounts been related by detainees released from US detention in interviews with journalists and the Human Rights Watch. So the Newsweek report nothing new. The sexual abuse and humiliation inflicted on prisoners in Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib that so inflamed the Arab world and shocked the West had gone improperly addressed and unpunished. Not a single ranking officer has been reprimanded or held answerable for that. The reputation of the United States has been sullied too by the failure of the administration to investigate the continuous reports of abuses in its many detention and torture facilities. Forty deaths have been reported and hundreds of innocent suspects have been subjected to brutal interrogations as previously reported in this column. The pressure on journalists from the US administration is a severe blow to the freedom of the press in the United States. How ironic that President George Bush justifies everything he does in the name of freedom.
Life in the Green Zone:
One condition that makes his life there so difficult is the myriad levels of security. Almost every major contractor or organization in the Green Zone has its own security unit. Each one is an entity unto itself. He refers to these security guards as cowboys, strutting around with their guns strapped to their thighs. Many security companies have their own checkpoints in front of their buildings. He said every time he leaves his apartment he must pass through two of these checkpoints on his street alone. It can take him as long as fifteen minutes to pass through them. I asked him if the guards ever recognized him and let him pass without checking him. He said they do recognize him but always search him. From my own experiences in the Green Zone and from what other people I know who live there have said, life in such a tight environment is not satisfying. It might be a "safe" place but it isn't real. It doesn't reflect what is happening in Iraq. Most foreigners who live in the Green Zone never set foot outside its borders. They spend months here but they have no idea what Iraq is really like. It makes me wonder if people inside the Green Zone, particularly U.S. military and government officials, really know what is going on in Iraq at all.
Life in Sadr City:
But security and political empowerment of Sadr City's estimated 2.5 million residents have brought little improvement to life. Lengthy power cuts and open sewage drains remain the norm. Running water is scarce and many streets are strewn with garbage. In many ways, the district's reality is similar to that of other former Iraqi hotspots where the end of violence has failed to change the quality of life. Pledges of reconstruction funds have failed to materialize, been slow in coming or poorly managed. In the case of Sadr City, the absence of a peace dividend is boosting the standing of Muqtada al-Sadr, the anti-American cleric whose militiamen are loyal to his Imam al-Mahdi Army and fought U.S. troops last year. With that, al-Sadr's lieutenants have further tightened their hold on the area through an elaborate network of modest but reliable social and religious services and feeding anti-American sentiments. "The absence of a genuine Iraqi sovereignty and the rule of law is allowing reconstruction funds to be wasted," said Falah Shanshal, a Sadr City legislator and a supporter of al-Sadr. "I am convinced that the funds have been stolen."
Father's Day
Kentucky National Guard Sgt. Michael Ochs says there are seven reasons he will cherish this Father's Day -- his seven children. But there is one important reason he knows he will have to miss it next year -- he will be in Iraq.


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