War News for Monday, September 5, 2005
Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi policemen killed and five wounded when thirty insurgents attacked the Interior Ministry in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: US forces shoot six insurgents in Tal Afar
Bring 'em on: US detain six suspected insurgents in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Sunni worshiper gunned down in at a mosque in Basra
Bring 'em on: Iraqi army officer killed by insurgents in Kirkuk
Bring 'em on: The bodies of two Sunni clerics and three men found three days after being arrested by Interior Ministry troops in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Insurgent attack halts all oil exports from Kirkuk
: Private cars will be only allowed to move on the roads every other day in an effort to ease gasoline shortage, said a new restriction announced by Iraq's government on Sunday. A statement issued by the cabinet said the cars whose plates end with even numbers and odd numbers will use the roads every other day.
BBC - Under Fire Again
Yea, and I bet those pipelines in Kirkuk will be repaired as soon as possible.
: The BBC has launched an inquiry into allegations that its best-known radio presenter, the Today programme's John Humphrys, made scathing remarks about leading Labour figures. The controversy surrounding the presenter began yesterday when the Times reported that he told a recent Communication Directors' Forum that only politicians who lied could make it into government.
For those of you who are not aware is was the Today programme on BBC that exposed the non-existent threat of WMD that led to the suicide of weapons expert David Kelly, the firing of the BBC's CEO and the reporter who broke the story, and the whitewash that was the Hutton Inquiry.
: A former ambassador to the United Nations insists that the London bombings are linked to the war in Iraq. Sir Crispin Tickell, who was Britain's permanent representative to the UN between 1987 and 1990, says it is "moonshine" to suggest the July 7 London blasts and the failed repeat attack on July 21 are unconnected to Britain's participation in the US-led March 2003 invasion. He also dismisses claims that the invasion is unconnected to a desire to control oil supplies.
Blair ignores the elephant in the room
: The British prime minister Tony Blair refused to comment on the announcement attributed to al-Qaida leader over the its claiming responsibility for London's explosion despite the persistence of journalists in a press conference held on Friday.
: The first of three major prosecutions involving alleged misconduct by British troops in Iraq will begin today with seven soldiers from the Parachute Regiment facing court martial for murder. Over the next six months the Army's conduct in post-war Iraq will come under the spotlight with senior officers on trial and the international War Crimes Act being used for the first time in Britain.
Veterans in 2006
All three question the current policy in Iraq.
"When I was in Iraq, quite frankly I became disheartened with our government. I think our government wasn't doing enough to support our troops," said Murphy, who won a Bronze Star as an 82nd Airborne Division captain. He has also taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Like the others, Walz insists the military experience "is not the linchpin" of his candidacy, "but one piece of my character." But he says that fatigue over the war in Iraq is evident in the faces and questions of the people he is meeting on the campaign trail.
"The first lesson from Vietnam was always support the troops – the American public is there" as far as Iraq is concerned, he said. "The second lesson of Vietnam is always question the mission, and we're not doing that. The American people are smart and they deserve to know what the plan is."
: Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari has held up the sympathy expressed by Iraqi Sunnis for the disaster during a Shiite religious festival as a lesson to Arab governments whose relations with Baghdad remain cool. "Qatar felt sorry for those who were killed by Katrina, which is indeed sad, and sent them $100 million. Other countries did so too," Mr Jaafari said.
Quick fix on Saddam Trial
: Stressing that he was voicing a personal opinion, Kubba said that if Saddam were convicted for the Dujail killings, trials for other crimes might be shelved and the sentence carried out quickly.
Not enough troops in Mississippi
: 300 U.S. airmen deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan will return to Mississippi to assist their families cope with the aftermath of the deadly Hurricane Katrina, officials said on Saturday. "The U.S. Central Command Air Forces is sending 300 Active Duty and Air Force Reserve Airmen home who were assigned to Keesler Air Force Base (in Biloxi, Mississippi) so they can attend to their families' needs after Hurricane Katrina," Captain David Small said Saturday.
: A US Navy submarine collided with a Turkish merchant ship in the Persian Gulf early today, the U.S. Navy reported. No one was hurt on either vessel. The USS Philadelphia was travelling on the surface of the Gulf when it slammed into the Turkish-flagged M/V Yaso Aysen, a cargo ship, at about 2am local time, the US Navy 5th Fleet Headquarters in Bahrain reported in a statement.
Opinion and Commentary
Enjoy September Preznit!
No doubt the skipper of this sub will probably be sacked; as for the boss of FEMA, well that's another matter.
Bush was hoping for a mellow September. The face of his administration was supposed to be his Supreme Court nominee, genial conservative John Roberts, coasting through Senate hearings. The Iraq constitution was supposed to be on track. Although Bush does not seem to take his reverses personally - a Texas reporter told me that she found him funny and relaxed the other day at his ranch, cracking jokes about TV reporters - he's lost control.
Bush has much more to worry about than Katrina's aftermath. Iraq is not brimming with good news, however much conservatives complain that the good is kept off the nation's screens. (Laura Bush complained about ugly news from the Gulf coast.) Meanwhile, federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has another month to issue indictments in the Robert Novak/Valerie Plame/Karl Rove leak case. Prosecutors are working away at House Republican tsar Tom DeLay's buddy, the lobbyist-bagman Jack Abramoff, and there may well be other powerful heads poised to fall around him.
And Bush will be left to explain why thousands of Louisiana National Guardsmen were not available to help feed, protect and evacuate the citizens of New Orleans because they were in ... Iraq.
Worse than Suez Crisis
It is remarkable that this needs to be said at all. Iraq has been this country’s biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez, has made Britain and the world a more dangerous place, and yet has hardly been criticised at all by the Conservative Party. There has been a detached indifference to the massive loss of life: 2,000 Americans, probably ten times that number of Iraqis killed, and perhaps 100,000 injured or maimed for life — for what purpose? It may be difficult to see how the US can lose in Iraq, but it is also not easy to see how it can win in an acceptable timeframe. There may be civil war, Iraq may split. You would have to be an extreme optimist to believe that Iraq will be a united, stable Western-style democracy in ten years’ time.
There is no masking America's failure to broker an Iraqi constitution that could unite the country. Indeed, the constitutional process so far has driven the country further apart.
President Bush called it a milestone in Iraq's history, but it is not the sort of milestone either he or his lieutenants envisioned when they took one of the biggest gambles in American foreign policy history: to use the tragedy of 9/11 as an excuse for invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and presented no immediate threat to the United States.
Back then, the United States saw a united Iraq becoming a Western-style, secular democracy that would strengthen America's position in the Middle East in the years when oil production might start to decline. Now it looks as if the United States will have to settle for a fractured state in which the regions will go their own way, a state in which Islam will play a greater role than the United States wished or expected, with a Sunni insurgency that can only grow in power and intensity now that the Sunnis have seen there is little in the constitutional process for them.
It is not as if the Bush administration didn't try. First the United States tried to rig the January election in favor of pro-US and secular candidates. Then Condoleezza Rice winged off to Iraq last spring to demand that Shi'a and Kurdish leaders bring Sunnis into the constitutional tent. The president himself took the unusual, last minute step of calling a Shi'ite cleric, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, begging him to be more accommodating to Sunnis. And America's able ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, dropped the pretense of a hands-off, let-the-Iraqis-make-their-own-decisions policy to conduct last-minute, nonstop shuttle diplomacy to get a consensus more to America's liking -- all to no avail.
Here's what it boils down to: We are not winning in Iraq, and we cannot win in Iraq by staying the course.
This is counter-insurgency warfare. This has been a counter-insurgency operation since the early summer of 2003 - something that took our civilian leaders by surprise. They didn't plan for it, and they haven't supplied Davis, Mundy and all the other brave soldiers they've sent there with enough troops, the proper equipment or a strategy for victory. The only victory in Iraq isn't ours to win. It's up to the Iraqi people, all of them, to find a political solution and build a government or have a civil war and water an ancient land with the blood of another generation.
Bush and Rumsfeld say the United States cannot, must not, leave Iraq in haste; that this would send the wrong message to our enemies. Bull! We arrived in haste, and we can and should leave the same way. We should begin an orderly withdrawal of our forces from Iraq no later than the end of 2005.
That might permit us to refocus attention and resources on Afghanistan, al-Qaida and the terrorist leadership. Remember them? They were the people who attacked our people on our soil on Sept. 11, 2001, and they came at us out of Afghanistan, not out of Iraq.