War News for Monday, August 8, 2005
Bring 'em on: One Iraqi civilian killed and fourty four wounded after they were fired on when protesting poor public services Samawa
Bring 'em on: The bodies of two executed Iraqi policemen found in Samarra
Bring 'em on: Two Iraqis killed by a roadside bomb in Baquba
Bring 'em on: Three Turkish truck drivers kidnapped in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Three Iraqi soldiers killed in drive-by shooting in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: US Marine killed in suicide bomb attack in Amiriyah
Bring 'em on: Seven Iraqi soldiers killed and seventeen injured in suicide bomb attack in Tikrit
Bring 'em on: Seven Iraqis killed when their minibus hit a roadside bomb in Al-Sharqat
Bring 'em on: Two Iraqis killed and eleven wounded in mortar and bomb attacks on Iraqi police in Tal Afar
Bring 'em on: Three Iraqi civilians shot dead in Baghdad
Tony Blair's crackdown on extremism in Britain has already started to unravel amid a storm of protest from moderate Muslim groups and MPs.
Less than a day after he unveiled his sweeping 12-point anti-terror proposals, there was evidence of serious internal divisions over key elements. The Prime Minister said he was ready to amend the Human Rights Act in order to enable the deportation of foreign nationals who come to the UK to foment terrorism.
He also named two radical groups Hizb ut-Tahrir and al-Muhajiroun which are to be banned, and said he would consult on new powers to close mosques, bookshops and websites that are used to promote the terrorist cause.
But Muslim parliamentarians warned that the measures risked fuelling extremism. Shahid Malik, the MP for Dewsbury, said he was concerned that Mr Blair's proposal to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir would prove counter-productive. " It's going to be very difficult to ban because you are trying to ban an idea. We need to defeat that idea by argument. People are going to ask: why not ban the BNP?"
Opinion and Commentary
Gates of Hell
The headline of this article is not a title of a science fiction film. It truthfully translates what is currently taking place in Iraq. The gates of hell are now wide open – thanks to U.S. invasion – and their fires have enveloped almost everything in our country.
There is no electricity, no water, no fuel, no food rations, no security, no sewage. There is terror everywhere and there is fear of everything – fear of the present and of what lies ahead in the future. All indications tell that our future is bleak as there is nothing left in this country that makes you feel secure about your own future and that of your children. What is happening is not a war, rebellion or insurgency. It is mass killing and annihilation coupled with torture and brutal and barbaric dismembering of innocent people.
Bombing and shelling of towns goes ahead and no one gives a damn for the lives lost and property damaged. Politicians have not honored any of the promises they made during elections. There is a dangerous decline in the public services and government performance. The shock we have received since U.S. troops landed in our midst and the new is beyond description.
Fear and terror have gripped the nation. Wherever you are at any time of the day you are liable to be killed by a stray bullet. Stray bullets are no longer the prerogative of U.S. troops and their tormentors – the insurgents. Almost everyone in Iraq now use their guns to shoot in order to scare, wound or kill. If the bodyguards of a senior official want to reach a destination on time and are delayed by traffic jam, they fire in the air to scare other drivers to give way.
If someone is injured or killed as a result it is his or her problem. Killing by mistake is now perhaps one of the main causes of death in Iraq. Trust between the people and the government has collapsed. And now we are at the mercy of the stars because neither U.S. troops nor the government have the slightest idea of who is blowing up whom and why?
The U.S. and Iraqi troops trudged through the narrow, dusty alleyways looking for an enemy that disappears like a ghost and hoping a rocket-propelled grenade would not come screaming from the rooftops. They squinted at graffiti calling for their execution, and tore down leaflets bragging about 20 Marines killed nearby last week.
With most of the fighting over after a large-scale invasion of the western Iraq town Friday, the troops in Haqlaniyah spent hours Sunday under a fiery sun looking for an adversary that often shoots and vanishes without a trace.
Their frustration mirrors that of units in much of western Iraq, where homebred Sunni Muslim insurgents - some angry about the downfall of secular dictator Saddam Hussein, others seeking the dream of a Sunni theocracy - have joined with foreign fighters coming across a porous desert border looking for the glory of international jihad.
The guerrilla fighters often leave a rear guard to fight advancing U.S. forces, while moving the majority of their men on to other towns where the Marines have no presence and the police have fled or been disbanded.
For the past two years, the U.S. military has staged operations through the vast deserts of western Iraq, chasing insurgents up and down the Euphrates River valley that splits the sands.
As troops walked in and out of houses Sunday, they heard phones ringing. An Iraqi interpreter working with the Marines, who gave his name as Sabah, picked up phones when he could reach them in time.
When he hung up, Sabah smiled. The callers said to be careful - the Americans are on their way.
It the Bases Stupid
Incoming head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, informed Congress on June 29 that a recent classified Pentagon report had concluded that only "a small number" of Iraqi troops could fight the insurgency unassisted. And many analysts feel that the administration wants to keep a presence in Iraq irrespective of Iraqi military preparedness in order to safeguard America's larger strategic interests in the region (chiefly oil).
Joost Hiltermann, of the International Crisis Group (ICG), told Asia Times Online it would be strange if America didn't intend to stay in Iraq. "One of the reasons they invaded, as far as I can tell, is because they needed to shift their military operation from Saudi Arabia," he said, "and Iraq was probably the easiest one in terms of a big country to support their presence in the Gulf." The idea that the US wanted to swap Iraq for Saudi Arabia was acknowledged by then-deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz in an interview with Vanity Fair in 2003.
Persistent reports that the US is constructing permanent bases in Iraq lend credence to the view that the Bush administration plans to stay. The Chicago Tribune reported in March 2004 that the US was building 14 "enduring" bases in Iraq, and the Washington Post reported in May that US forces would eventually be consolidated into four large, permanent air bases.
Erik Leaver, of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and a long-time proponent of a promise to close US military bases, told Asia Times Online that the kind of construction taking place belies statements from President George W Bush that the US only intends to stay "as long as necessary and not one day more", as Bush said on April 13, 2004. Not only are ammunition dumps and concrete runways and roads being built, he said, but so is long-term housing for US troops.
"We can tell by looking at the supplementals and the defense bills that they are building concrete masonry barracks," says Leaver, "And some of the justification is that tents and containers only have a life span of three to five years. The implication is that they need something longer than that." Leaver said the military did have a plausible rationale for using concrete. "If mortars are being lobbed into military bases then you want to put soldiers into concrete masonry barracks for their safety," he said, "but that's the same stuff that my house and office building are constructed from, and those things are pretty permanent."
US Senator Gary Hart captured the inconsistencies such construction reveal in the Bush administration's rationale for its Iraq project. "If the goal ... was to overthrow Saddam Hussein, install a friendly government in Baghdad, set up a permanent political and military presence in Iraq, and dominate the behavior of the region (including securing oil supplies) then you build permanent bases for some kind of permanent American military presence," Hart wrote in May. "If the goal was to spread democracy and freedom, then you don't."
Opposing for the Wrong Reasons
Americans are turning against the war, but for the wrong reason. Americans are starting to feel the pain of war based on U.S. losses and expenses, not for reasons of morality and of principle. Americans are not saying that the war was illegal and immoral and wrong. Americas are saying that the war was unnecessary and painful and hard to endure. This self-serving and insensitive response will likely not produce sympathy from many of the world's populations, who have suffered far more than Americans have or ever will.
A lot of people around the world are beginning to think that Americans "can dish it out, but they cannot take it." Americans who did not oppose the war when it seemed to be going well, now oppose it because the war has turned into a "tough slog" as Donald Rumsfeld said many months ago, but hardly believed himself. Imagine what the public mood would be right now if the Iraq resistance had not emerged and gasoline prices in the States had dropped to under $1.00 per gallon! Americans would be delirious with joy and have no regret over the invasion and occupation and destruction of a sovereign nation. Americans are still not concerned over damage to Iraqi lives and Iraqi babies and Iraqi families, but only for their own losses.
This lack of empathy by Americans is a terrible motivator for terrorists around the world. It teaches victims of American aggression that there is value in resistance. It teaches terrorists that American tolerance of pain is limited, and that inflicting pain on Americans gets results.
Americans need to find some empathy for victims of American injustice and violence, before pleading for relief from our own pain. America has inflicted infinitely more pain that she has received. Like the fiscal balance of payments, America's accounting in pain infliction runs an enormous deficit.