Friday, September 23, 2005

War News for Friday, September 25, 2005 Bring 'em on: Five Iraqis killed, seven wounded by car bomb in central Baghdad. Bring 'em on: One US soldier killed, one wounded by roadside bomb near Fallujah. Bring 'em on: One US soldier killed by small arms fire in Ramadi. Bring 'em on: One Iraqi policeman killed in Mosul. Bring 'em on: Three Turkmen Front officials assassinated in Mosul. Bring 'em on: Two members of Iraq's de-Ba'athification commission assassinated in Baghdad. Storm warning. "Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, said Thursday that he had been warning the Bush administration in recent days that Iraq was hurtling toward disintegration, a development that he said could drag the region into war. 'There is no dynamic now pulling the nation together,' he said in a meeting with reporters at the Saudi Embassy here. 'All the dynamics are pulling the country apart.' He said he was so concerned that he was carrying this message 'to everyone who will listen' in the Bush administration. Prince Saud's statements, some of the most pessimistic public comments on Iraq by a Middle Eastern leader in recent months, were in stark contrast to the generally upbeat assessments that the White House and the Pentagon have been offering." Just how many people in the Bush administration are listening? Stranded. "Hundreds of Iraqi civilians, including women and children, have been stuck on the Syrian side of the Iraq-Syria border after being refused entry by Iraqi security forces. The stranded Iraqis are mainly travellers returning to their country after visiting neighbouring Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The government in Baghdad has given no indication it plans to look into the issue. News reports suggest that dozens of pilgrims from Makkah in Saudi Arabia are among those stuck in the desert along with sick people and their families. The Iraqis have appealed to human rights organisations to intervene and convince their government to let them enter the country." Basra. "According to Basra's previous police chief, barely a quarter of the city's police are dependable. Most are probably moderate—and they do a reasonable and improved job of combating petty crime. But they will not stand against the militiamen in their ranks, who are a very bad lot indeed. At least two journalists, one American and one Iraqi, have been murdered in Basra in recent weeks: both were investigating the militias' activities, which include running protection rackets and assassinating rivals, before their bodies are dumped in a rubbish tip on the edge of the city known as 'the lot'. When not thus engaged, the militias rigorously enforce Islamist strictures, beating up women who show an ankle or attacking students enjoying an innocent picnic. A British officer struggled to sound upbeat this week. 'There's an unstable sort of stability in Basra,' he said." Colonel's rant.
The battle to preserve our freedoms is not taking place in Baghdad and Tikrit and Falluja. It’s taking place in peace marches and demonstrations in Ghiradeli Park in San Francisco, in Memorial Park in Oklahoma City, and in Lafayette Park in Washington, DC. The front lines are right here. You are preserving our cherished freedoms by exercising them in spite of ridicule and opposition. The battle to preserve our freedoms is you. You are the foot soldiers protecting our civil rights. You are the Minutemen sounding the alarm against tyranny. You are upholding the spirit of the American Revolution. You are preserving the freedoms that the troops in the desert have a right to come back to. The troops getting shot at in Iraq are not protecting us, we are protecting them and their honor and their freedom. We my sisters and brothers are protecting this nation by speaking truth to power. We’re speaking truth to a pack of liars.
(Link via blah3.) Music award. (Link via Democratic Veteran.) Commentary Analysis:
More than two years after the US-led invasion of its neighbour, Iran is fast emerging as the only clear beneficiary of the war that overthrew its enemy, Saddam Hussein, and allowed its allies to rise to power. After a series of attacks against British troops this summer, culminating in this week’s stand-off in Basra, there are fears that Iran is beginning to exert its new-found authority. Iraqi and British officials interviewed this week said Iran’s growing influence is being felt from Basra in the south to Baghdad in the north, where Iranians are blamed for stoking sectarian tension, undermining the coalition and trying to create a breakaway Islamic state in southern Iraq.
More than a few of us think that it's now time for President Bush to exercise his new-found talent and take responsibility for the mistakes that have been made in Afghanistan and Iraq. Foremost among them: -Diverting 90 percent of the nation's military resources away from the very real mission of wiping out a very real enemy, al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and rebuilding Afghanistan, and instead diverting it to an untimely and unnecessary invasion of Iraq. -Seizing on the flimsiest of evidence, pretence really, to justify invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein, who didn't have a nuclear weapons lab about to produce bombs or any chemical or biological weapons capabilities left. -Failing to plan for the possibility of a long-term occupation and counter-insurgency war after Baghdad fell. -Failing to put a large enough U.S. force into Iraq to secure the infiltration routes over which a steady flow of foreign jihadist killers pass, or to secure or destroy the hundreds of ammunition dumps that contained more than a million tons of bombs, bullets, artillery shells that those killers are now using to blow up our soldiers. Just as FEMA director Michael Brown was thrown overboard in the wake of the presidential mea culpa on Katrina, so, too, should the Pentagon boss who has overseen those wars and stubbornly refuses to see anything but victory parades ahead - Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.
Here's a fact getting far too little attention: The cost this year alone of the Bush tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 comes to $225 billion. In other words, the revenue lost because of tax cuts going through this year without any congressional action would more than pay the costs of Katrina recovery. Why describe our government's fiscal policies as "stupid," rather than, say, "ill-advised" or "misguided"? The softer words of conventional opinion writing imply disagreement but suggest an honest coherence in the other side's view. Hey, we all disagree on stuff, right? But our current budget policies are built not on honest coherence but on incoherence or, even worse, a dishonest coherence. The president and members of Congress always insist that they are fiscal conservatives who believe in balanced budgets. Yet their actions bear no relationship to their words, and labels such as "conservative" have no connection to their policies. Our federal purse strings are in the hands of fiscal radicals. I'd have much more respect for these guys if they just came out and said: "Look, we love deficit spending. That's why we waged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and cut taxes at the same time. It's why we'll talk about offsets for Katrina and Rita but never enact them, except maybe a few cuts in programs for the poor. All we really care about are passing tax cuts -- and popular spending programs that get us reelected so we can enact more tax cuts."
There are no easy conclusions to be drawn just yet, least of all on Iraq. To paraphrase Churchill, as favoured by Mr Bush as he is by Mr Blair as a philosopher, tomorrow's march in Washington is not the end for the US in Iraq. It is not even the beginning of the end. There will be a pull-out, but it will not happen as quickly as the protesters would like. For those fond of Vietnam analogies, it is worth remembering that it took nine years from the start of the anti-war protests in America to the end of the war. While the conflict in Iraq will not be over by Christmas, the Bush presidency is probably a goner. There is no money left to realise his second-term goal of social security reform. The tax cuts can go no further. There are not enough troops, goodwill or plain good luck to make Iraq turn out all right. What fate seems to have in store for this president is a long, slow shuffle to the exit (albeit with all the dignity his office can muster), and being the talk of the late-night shows.
We need a Media Accountability Day. One precious day when everyone in the news media devotes a complete 24-hour news cycle to reporting our own failures. The real scandal in the media is not bias, it is laziness and bad news judgment. Our failure is what we miss, what we let slip by – because, after all, we have to cover Jennifer and Brad, and Scott and Laci, and Whosit who disappeared in Aruba. Happily, the perfect news peg for Media Accountability Day already exists — it’s Project Censored’s annual release of the 10 biggest stories ignored or under-covered by mainstream media. The stories are not actually “censored,” but they do not receive enough attention to enter the public’s consciousness, usually because corporate media tend to underreport stories about corporate misdeeds and government abuses.
Casualty Reports Local story: Kentucky Guardsman killed in Iraq. Local story: Florida soldier killed in Iraq.


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