War News for Sunday, October 23, 2005
Bring 'em on: Opinion poll
states that Iraqis support suicide attacks on British troops.
Bring 'em on: At least three car bombs and several roadside bombs hit U.S. and Iraqi security forces in Baghdad
and the northern city of Kirkuk on Sunday, killing at least eight people and wounding dozens more.
: Britain's ambassador in Baghdad urged the Shi'ite-led Iraqi government to mount an inquiry into accusations its security forces operate clandestine "death squads" against minority Sunni Arabs -- who are blamed for most of the insurgent violence.
: he Iraqi Bar Association on Sunday urged lawyers to stop working with the special court hearing the case against Saddam Hussein until the murder of a member of the defence team is solved. The association also passed a resolution calling a one-day strike for Wednesday to protest the killing of Saadoun Janabi, who was bundled out of his Baghdad office last Thursday by heavily-armed men and later found dead of gunshot wounds.
Rivers of Blood
"We found he was shot from behind, right through the kidneys. The other bullet wound was near the hip," he said.
The Americans had left a "claims card" with details of the incident and how the family could seek compensation. Adel's family has not decided whether to press a claim.
Adel met his death as the eyes of the world were focused on a constitutional referendum and on the trial of Saddam Hussein.
As these events unfolded, Adel's mother received condolence visits from friends and relatives in a mourning ritual that has been repeated day after day in countless homes around Iraq.
Adel's cousin Abdullah Hussain, a doctor, said it should have been clear that Adel was mentally ill. "He was very innocent. Anyone could tell he was ill from the first moment."
"The Americans are spreading terror in Iraq because they are terrified," he added. "These are not the qualities of liberators but criminals."
Adel's older brother Ali said the Americans should leave Iraq. "These rivers of blood should be stopped," he said.
: Cindy Sheehan, the military mother who made her son's death in Iraq a rallying point for the anti-war movement, plans to tie herself to the White House fence to protest the milestone of 2,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq. "I'm going to go to Washington, D.C. and I'm going to give a speech at the White House, and after I do, I'm going to tie myself to the fence and refuse to leave until they agree to bring our troops home," Sheehan said in a telephone interview last week as the milestone approached.
Bad trade-in deal
: Meanwhile, soldiers and commanders grumble about a "one-for-one" exchange program in which lesser armored vehicles are traded for newer models with stronger shells. The catch: The old vehicles must have been severely damaged or destroyed in battle.
No News is Good News
: Skeptics say morale is propped up because of soldiers' limited access to news — newspapers on many bases throughout the country are sparse, and weary soldiers often head straight to their trailers after missions instead of plodding to check the latest nationwide news at Internet centers. "We really don't know what is going on in the rest of the country, just here," said Spc. Dainsworth Harris of New York, tapping his table. Harris said he sometimes would learn about major attacks in the country in e-mails from relatives.
Opinion and Commentary
Exactly how big Hughes's weapon of mass deception is, nobody really knows, but the US Department of Defence alone employs 7,000 'professional communicators', and it's recorded that the State Department spent $685 million on public diplomacy in 2004, with critics complaining that it hasn't been increased enough since 11 September and that little of it has targeted the Muslim world.
One thing we do know is that Hughes has at her disposal the most sophisticated intelligence-gathering capability ever assembled. With thousands employed in 'Information Operations' on the US government's behalf, using every conceivable ruse from satellite surveillance to leaflet dropping to finding out how much whisky President Putin gets through of a night, knowing what's really going on everywhere should be simple.
The question is, what are she and Bush going to do with all the information in the world if they can't see how things like Guantanamo Bay and the indefinite detention of hundreds of suspects, or the abuse of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib jail, contradict every platitude they spout?
And if they can't stop the rot? Worry not. 'IO' by now has the potential to step in with a much firmer, less 'Southern' grasp of precisely what to do and who to target when manipulating public opinion on a global scale. Now there's a thought.
The stunning transformation of Basra from a secure rear area for U.S. and British troops into a center of anti-occupation agitation reveals the utter weakness of the Shiite political base on which the United States must now rely to sustain its occupation of the country.
After the election in January, according to senior police officials in Baghdad, the police force in the city was under the control of militant Shiite Badr Organization, which is aligned with the government of Prime Minister Jafari. But the loyalty of many militiamen in Basra to the Badr Organization proved in the end to be very weak. By the time of the protests, the Mahdi Army was clearly predominant within the police force.
The strategic significance of events in Basra becomes clearer if it compared with a parallel event in the Vietnam War. In 1966 an anti-government and anti-U.S. Buddhist "Struggle Movement" loosely aligned with the Communist forces carried out an uprising and seized power in Hue, the ancient capital and center of Buddhist agitation. The U.S. command responded by airlifting South Vietnamese government battalions into Hue to reassert military control. In Iraq, however, there were no government units available to send into Basra to take back the city. And neither the British nor the Americans had enough troops to impose direct control on Basra by force.
Comments to the press by British officers in Basra make it clear that the command understands that the city slipped out of control because the occupation forces could not trust the very people who they thought were their loyal allies. The U.S. command, meanwhile, refuses to acknowledge publicly that it faces a powerful anti-occupation movement in the South. Two weeks after the Basra uprising, Gen. George Casey, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, went so far as to claim that "lately" Moktadr al-Sadr had become "part of the solution" in Iraq.
If the U.S. command really believes that, it may be in for a nasty surprise. Moqtadr al-Sadr has yet not played all of his cards. He still has loyal followers all across the South and as well as in his primary political base in Baghdad's Sadr City. What happened in Basra may be a preview of a strategy aimed at causing the collapse of the U.S. political position in one city after another.
For them, there was Saddam and now there is America. The latter is trying the former.
The blame for this moral equivalency does not rest with the Iraqis.
To them, and many others in the world not sucked in by the Washington spin, Saddam in the dock and the constitution on a referendum ballot are not milestones on the road to nirvana but the latest reminders of the gap between reality and the delusions, or the outright lies, of George W. Bush.
As Iraq becomes Vietnam, he blames the seemingly unstoppable insurgency on Al Qaeda and other Islamic militants, whom he has just compared to Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot. But his own analysts peg their number at only a few hundred out of an estimated 10,000 insurgents.
He blames Iran and Syria and won't rule out waging war on either or both. Yet suspected foreign militants caught in Iraq since April add up to a grand total of 312. Of them, the highest number, 78, hail from Egypt, about which he remains silent, as also about the other American ally, Saudi Arabia, whose apprehended citizens outnumber Iran's, 32 to 13.
He crows about bringing democracy to Iraq but plans to veto a U.S. Senate vote ordering him to bring Guantanamo Bay and similar other holding pens under the rule of law.
We are witnessing historic mistakes that cannot be masked even by master propagandists.