Saturday, November 26, 2005

WAR NEWS FOR SATURDAY NOVEMBER 26, 2005 Bring ‘em on: Car bomb exploded near a passing US patrol and killed four civilians in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi soldiers shot north of Baghdad. On Thursday, Interior Minister Bayan Baker Solagh told reporters that security forces were preparing to launch a comprehensive sweep involving 10,000 men throughout the country against rebels before the December 15 elections. "We are going to strike forcefully at the hotbeds of terrorism in different regions," he said. Bring ‘em on: US-Iraqi troops wage new offensive against Ramadi insurgents. Bring ‘em on: Suicide car bomb kills 12 Iraqis in Samarra. Bring ‘em on: One civilian killed and three wounded by roadside bomb in Samarra. This was targeting a former interior minister and current candidate in the upcoming election. Three Iraqi soldiers killed in Balad. Sunni prayer leader kidnapped from a mosque then killed in Basra. Two civilians and two Iraqi troops killed in Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: Suicide car bomber attacked a petrol station in Baghdad, killing three people and wounding nine. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi prisoner released by accident. In January, American military and law enforcement personnel discovered evidence connecting a 25-year-old Iraqi detainee, Abass Hussein Alwan al-Amry, to a roadside bomb that had detonated in Baghdad, wounding several Iraqis. It was the first forensic match of a bomb and an insurgent bomb making suspect in Iraq, three Army officials said. Further investigation tied Mr. Amry to other bomb attacks, one of which is believed to have caused American casualties, another American official said. He was mistakenly released in June after a sergeant failed to notice a small notation in his case file calling for him to be held indefinitely, the Army officials said. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi authorities say that they have arrested the leaders of three terror networks in Baghdad. Two of these groups were headed by an Interior Ministry official, who provided weapons, equipment and official documents to facilitate the terrorists as they carried out robberies, murders and bombings. REPORTS NEWS: At Last, Iraq Finds a Web Designation: Domain Name .iq Is Set For Internet. It was a tiny electronic victory after years of frustration and defeat. Yesterday, Iraqi officials announced the launch of .iq, Iraq's identity on the World Wide Web. NEWS: Interview With Kurdistan Islamic Group Head Ali Babir. It is very difficult to explain in a matter of lines or pages the suffering and hardship I encountered over the 22 months, which I spent in the prison of the Americans at Baghdad International Airport. I intend to relay my story of my imprisonment or rather, the unjust barbaric abduction, in a book to be published in the Kurdish language in several months time. God willing, the book will also be translated into Arabic. However, I briefly say that I had seen, and suffered a great deal of moral humiliation, psychological and bodily harm since the first moment of my abduction by the US forces to the very end, a total of 659 days. This convinced me fully that all the sugarcoated claims made by America are sheer lies. I told the Americans this much and more during the repeated, lengthy interrogations and investigations held that lasted for more than six months from the beginning of my imprisonment. ……………….On the other hand, as far as I know, the draft constitution of Kurdistan has not yet been completed. We have several reservations about this draft constitution, especially concerning the position on Islam, as an official religion of the region and as a law, which should be observed. NEWS: Italy to Give Iraq Pullout Calendar in Few Weeks. Italy will spell out the dates of a planned phased withdrawal of its 2,900 troops in Iraq in the next few weeks, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said yesterday. NEWS: Lithuania to Withdraw 50 Troops from Iraq NEWS: Book: Inside the Resistance: The Iraqi Insurgency and the Future of the Middle East. When members of the Iraqi resistance first told their story to the world, they told it to Zaki Chehab, a tenacious and celebrated Middle East journalist. In Inside the Resistance, Chehab is able to show how the resistance fighters really view the elections, the Iranians, Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda, and their new American occupiers. Alternating between the perspectives of a local insider and an international observer, he takes us through the critical moments in post-occupation Iraq, such as the bombing of the UN headquarters, the Najaf uprising, and the battle for Fallujah. Chehab maps out the regional networks of arms, soldiers, and ideology feeding into Iraq. He offers a startling portrait of Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, based on interviews with his closest comrades, and provides astonishing behind-the-scenes snapshots of many of the key players in post-Saddam Iraq, including Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani, former interim prime minister Iyad Allawi, and the mercurial and always controversial Ahmed Chalabi, a political chameleon who, Chehab says, would give "Machiavelli a run for his pasta." This book makes clear that no one is better placed than Chehab to explain the intricacies of the battle for Iraq and convey the reality of life on the front line. NEWS: Book: UNEMBEDDED Four Independent Photojournalists on the War in Iraq. Truth, it has been said, is the first casualty of war. In the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, official truth died months before the bombing of Baghdad began. Unembedded bears witness to the enduring power of independent journalism. In their unflinching look at war-ravaged Iraq, four freelance photojournalists show that life there is brutal yet poignant; that compassion co-exists with anger, hatred and fear. By gaining the confidence of Iraqi civilians and insurgents, these photojournalists have brought back images of life in wartime, from beauty parlors and joyful wedding scenes to the carnage of civilian casualties, the heartbroken faces of grieving parents, and the glassy-eyed shock of parentless children. This is not the view from a Marine base. These photographers were on the streets of Baghdad when it fell, amid a crowd of civilians under aerial attack, and in the holy Imam Ali shrine with the Mahdi Army during the siege of Najaf. Their images document issues often underrepresented: the insurgency as seen from inside the separate resistance movements, civilians affected by the battles between U.S. and insurgent forces, growing conservatism and fundamentalism and their effects on women, and the devastating effects of ongoing civilian casualties. Working outside the U.S. military’s official “embedding” program, the authors bring us face-to-face with the people of Iraq. They combine photographs and essays with excerpts from two years of personal letters, journal entries, and feature stories to take us across front lines and cultural barriers into the lives of a nation in crisis. Theirs is a path to understanding the cost of war. To see some of the photos, click HERE. NEWS: The US knows it will have to talk to the Iraqi resistance. Life in the Iraqi capital is worse than anyone could have imagined when the US and Britain invaded in 2003, and has become unbearable when it comes to security. I was brought up in a refugee camp in Lebanon and lived in the country during the civil war. Since then, I have travelled through war zones from Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan to Kosovo and Bosnia, but nowhere matches the random menace of Iraq today. An end to violence in Iraq will not happen while the occupation continues. But against all expectations, it is not impossible for the situation to be brought under greater control if Sunnis are given a role similar to that of the Shia and Kurds. When they feel that their areas are beginning to benefit from reconstruction and their men are allowed to go back to their jobs in state institutions and the army, from which they were expelled as a result of de-Ba'athification, there is little doubt that the situation could improve. NEWS: High Hopes, Disillusionment Among Iraqi Women. Safia Taleb Al-Souhail has ambitions to be Iraq’s first woman president one day. A month before a poll in which she hopes to win a parliamentary seat, the former exile is upbeat about women’s rights and democracy. She says the only reason a new Iraqi constitution approved in a referendum last month did not do as much for women as she hoped was a lack of time to negotiate the details, and she is sure changes can be made in the new parliament. “I believe our situation as women is going to be much better in the near future,” says Souhail, a leading anti-Saddam Hussein activist who was invited to US President George W. Bush’s State of the Union speech in February where she made headlines by hugging the mother of a US marine killed in Iraq. Bidour Al Yassri, who runs a women’s organisation in the southern Shi’ite city of Samawa, has a very different outlook. A centre to train women as seamstresses that she helped set up with United Nations backing has been attacked with mortars, and her efforts to bring women into the police force under a British training programme have angered some local men. “The men were threatening me, they gathered in front of our office shouting that there are no jobs for men, let alone women,” Yassri said. Under a quota system introduced before last January’s election for a transitional assembly, at least a quarter of the seats in Iraq’s parliament are reserved for women. But Yassri said politicians in Samawa paid only lip service to women’s interests at election time. “We tried to encourage women to run for parliament but they refused because they know how the tribes see women - they consider women inferior,” Yassri said. In the provinces, women like Souhail, who lived abroad for most of her life until Saddam was toppled, may face another kind of resistance. Nisreen Youssif, a 41-year-old lawyer, is running for parliament in the southern city of Kerbala, another Shi’ite stronghold. “Many of the women in parliament have come from abroad,” she said. “They haven’t suffered and they don’t know the nature of women in Iraq.” NEWS: Price of Iran Electricity Exported to Iraq Will Rise. Iran is currently exporting 150 megawatts of electricity from some of its border points to Iraq, Iran’s Energy Minister Parviz Fattah said adding that, however, in his recent visit to Iran, the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani called for increasing the export of Iranian electricity to 1,000 megawatts. NEWS: Iraq Says Pullout of Forces Will Lead to Violence. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari urged Japan on Friday to keep its troops in southern Iraq, saying an early pullout of coalition forces would lead to more violence by insurgents. "The difficult part has gone in my view. We're very close to reaching a more stable form of government and of security," Zebari told a news conference following a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. "Now, any premature withdrawal will send the wrong message to the terrorists, to the opposition ... that this coalition is fracturing and running, that their policies and strategies of undermining this process is winning." THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Iraqis Miss Oil Fortune: Report. Up to $US194 billion ($263 billion) in Iraqi oil revenues are going to multinational oil companies under long-term contracts, and not to the Iraqi people, a social and environmental group said. In a report, the group known as Platform said that oil multinationals would be paid between $US74 billion and $US194 billion with rates of return of between 42 per cent and 162 per cent under proposed production-sharing agreements, or PSAs. "The form of contracts being promoted is the most expensive and undemocratic option available," Platform researcher Greg Muttitt said. "Iraq's oil should be for the benefit of the Iraqi people not foreign oil companies." Muttitt added: "Iraq's institutions are new and weak. Experience in other countries shows that oil companies generally get the upper hand in PSA negotiations with governments. "Iraq's oil profits, far from being used to alleviate some of the suffering the Iraqi people now face, are well within the sights of the oil multinationals." THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Crude Designs: The Rip-Off of Iraq’s Oil Wealth. While the Iraqi people struggle to define their future amid political chaos and violence, the fate of their most valuable economic asset, oil, is being decided behind closed doors. This report reveals how an oil policy with origins in the US State Department is on course to be adopted in Iraq, soon after the December elections, with no public debate and at enormous potential cost. The policy allocates the majority of Iraq’s oilfields – accounting for at least 64% of the country’s oil reserves – for development by multinational oil companies. Iraqi public opinion is strongly opposed to handing control over oil development to foreign companies. But with the active involvement of the US and British governments a group of powerful Iraqi politicians and technocrats is pushing for a system of long term contracts with foreign oil companies which will be beyond the reach of Iraqi courts, public scrutiny or democratic control. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Sunni Sheik Calls for Unity After Bombing. The bombing appeared part of the pattern of violence, including reprisal attacks between Sunnis and Shiites, which has given this once quiet farming area just south of Baghdad the nickname "Triangle of Death." "This thing about Shiites and Sunnis is new to us in Iraq," the sheik told the worshippers, most of them bearded, robed men in their 20s and 30s. "We are all Iraqis and we must stop blaming each other." His message suggests that many Sunni Arabs, the disaffected minority that forms the backbone of the insurgency, may be growing weary of the increasingly sectarian character of the violence. Aref Taha, a father of four who said his wife was shot dead a year ago by U.S. soldiers in unexplained circumstances, mused about the forthcoming elections, the loss of his Shiite farm hands through intimidation by Sunni militants and how he and his children cope with a life of shortages, danger and personal loss. "These Shiite political parties, they are all Iranians," he said, echoing an often repeated charge by Sunni Arabs that Shiite parties are too close to the Iranians. "The constitution they gave us will break up Iraq." His eldest son Zaid, 15, bears scars from the shooting in which his mother died and bitterness for the soldiers he blames for her death. "I hated the Americans from the day they arrived in Iraq," he said. "Now my hatred for them is intense." THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Riverbend’s Post: Assassinations... We woke up yesterday morning to this news: Sunni tribal leader and his sons shot dead. Except when you read it on the internet, it’s nothing like seeing scenes of it on television. They showed the corpses and the family members- an elderly woman wailing and clawing at her face and hair and screaming that soldiers from the Ministry of Interior had killed her sons. They shot them in front of their mother, wives and children… Even when they slaughter sheep, they take them away from the fold so that the other sheep aren’t terrorized by the scene. I hate suicide bombers. I hate the way my heart beats chaotically every time I pass by a suspicious-looking car- and every car looks suspicious these days. I hate the way Sunni mosques and Shia mosques are being targeted right and left. I hate seeing the bodies pile up in hospitals, teeth clenched in pain, wailing men and women…But I completely understand how people get there. Who needs Al-Qaeda to recruit 'terrorists' when you have Da’awa, SCIRI and an American occupation? THE WAR AT HOME: Iran Newspaper writes story on Cindy Sheehan at Bush’s ranch. Scores of protesters led by the mother of a US soldier killed in Iraq urged US President George W. Bush Friday to bring US troops home and unveiled an anti-war monument in his adoptive Texas hometown. THE WAR AT HOME: Defense Hawk Rep. Dicks Says He Now Sees War As A Mistake. It was after 11 p.m. on Friday when Rep. Norm Dicks finally left the Capitol, fresh from the heated House debate on the Iraq war. He was demoralized and angry. Sometime during the rancorous, seven-hour floor fight over whether to immediately withdraw U.S. troops, one Texas Republican compared those who question America's military strategy in Iraq to the hippies and "peaceniks" who protested the Vietnam War and "did terrible things to troop morale." Dicks now says it was all a mistake — his vote, the invasion, and the way the United States is waging the war. THE WAR AT HOME: General Sees Chaos In Quick US Pullout. "The security situation would degenerate badly," he said Thursday during a whistle-stop tour of Iraq. "You'd see [Abu Musab al-Zarqawi] consolidate his position on the ground, you'd see a terrorist safe haven develop in Anbar, you'd see him fomenting sectarian strife, and it would be hugely unstable." (Isn’t that what is happening now? – Susan) THE WAR AT HOME: From Wounds, Inner Strength. Some Veterans Feel Lives Enlarged by Wartime Suffering. As Hilbert Caesar told his harrowing war story one night recently in the living room of his apartment, he patted the artificial limb sticking from a leg of his business suit. "This, right here," he said, "this is a minor setback." Eighteen months after Caesar's right leg was mangled by a roadside bomb near Baghdad, and after weeks of coming to terms with what he thought was the end of his life, the former Army staff sergeant believes he has emerged a richer person -- wiser, more compassionate and more appreciative of life. Although the shattering psychological impact of war is well known, experts have become increasingly interested in those who emerge from combat feeling enhanced. Some psychiatrists and psychologists believe that those soldiers have experienced a phenomenon known as "post-traumatic growth," or "adversarial" growth . THE WAR AT HOME: The Struggle to Gauge a War’s Psychological Cost. On an October night in 2003, mortar shells fell on a base camp near Baquba, Iraq, where Specialist Abbie Pickett, then 21, was serving as a combat lifesaver, caring for the wounded. Specialist Pickett continued working all night by the dim blue light of a flashlight, "plugging and chugging" bleeding troops to a makeshift medical tent, she said. At first, she did not notice that one of the medics who was working with her was bleeding heavily and near death; then, frantically, she treated his wounds and moved him to a medical station not knowing if he would survive. He did survive, Specialist Pickett later learned. But the horror of that night is still vivid, and the memory stalks her even now, more than a year after she returned home. "I would say that on a weekly basis I wish I would have died during that attack," said Specialist Pickett, who served with the Wisconsin Army National Guard and whose condition has been diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder. "You never want family to hear that, and it's a selfish thing to say. But I'm not a typical 23-year-old, and it's hard being a combat vet and a woman and figuring out where you fit in." (I wish they would cover Iraqi wounds and deaths as well as they have covered American wounds and deaths. It would be quite revealing. –Susan) THE WAR AT HOME: War’s Strain Wearing on Army Troops, Tools. A series of Pentagon and congressional reports show the bill for worn-out equipment is climbing, recruiting is suffering and stress has become a serious occupational hazard for U.S. troops. POSSIBLE UPCOMING WARS: Kurdish Rebels Lauch Missile Attack on Turkish Police Building. Members of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) attacked a police department building in southeastern Turkey on Friday, causing no casualties, the semi- official Anatolia news agency reported. More than 37,000 people have been killed since the rebel group took up arms for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeastern Turkey in 1984 COMMENTARY ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT: The tactical question today is this: What can critics do to persuade the voters that (1) this war is a colossal mistake, (2) our troops' continued presence in the Middle East is an equally colossal mistake, and (3) we must get out and stay out? First, critics can act just as termites act. They can keep chewing on the structure. This undermines its legitimacy, and legitimacy means everything. Without it, voluntary cooperation ceases. Public support is withdrawn, voter by voter. This is now happening to the Bush Administration. Second, critics with an anti-empire vision of the Middle East can capitalize on the failed war in Iraq as an example of the cost of empire in that region. They can use Iraq as an ideological domino. "You want more Iraqs? Just stay the Establishment's course." Putting this in one slogan: "Bring the troops home by Christmas." This will reinforce that other slogan: "Get the troops out by Ramadan." Third, non-interventionists must produce comprehensive historical works that show that Iraq is merely a representative example of the American Empire in general. They must make it clear that it really is an empire, and that empires are not only doomed throughout history, they are doomed for a reason: they rest on coercion. Step three will be very expensive. Were it not for the falling costs of communication, this program would not be plausible. It will not be easy. There is no non-interventionist equivalent of Ideals and Self-Interest in American Foreign Relations. That book must be written. It must show that George Washington's recommendation in his Farewell Address is the only viable solution, both ideally and pragmatically, to Dwight Eisenhower's warning in his Farewell Address. OPINION: Letter: It’s time for the truth. When congressional Democrats call for an investigation of intelligence failures leading up to the Iraq war and criticize the war itself, President Bush's latest defense is to say that they voted for the war. Really. What kind of logic is this? Congress was misled by the faulty intelligence and because of it voted for the war. We might not have gotten into this disaster if the intelligence had been accurate. People who were duped into voting for the war either by incompetence or intention deserve to find out why. The war has claimed over 2,000 Americans and well over 10,000 Iraqis. Our government refuses to even count the wounded on either side or consider the Iraqi dead legitimate casualties. We have lost the support of the world we had shortly after 9/11 and opened the country of Iraq to al-Qaida. Our leaders are even arguing torture is justified! The world now is a far more dangerous place than it was before Bush and his cronies began the so-called "war on terror." Since the Republican-controlled Congress refuses to start impeachment proceedings, I would like to see the whole gang -- Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, etc. -- face an international court and be tried as war criminals. CYNTHIA S. WESTERMAN VESTAL , NY OPINION: Sign at anti-war protest in Russia: GOD, BLESS U.S. POLITICIANS WITH A BIT OF BRAINS! OPINION: The Phony War Against the Critics. One might also argue," Vice President Cheney said in a speech on Monday, "that untruthful charges against the commander in chief have an insidious effect on the war effort." That would certainly be an ugly and demagogic argument, were one to make it. After all, if untruthful charges against the president hurt the war effort (by undermining public support and soldiers' morale), then those charges will hurt the war effort even more if they happen to be true. So one would be saying in effect that any criticism of the president is essentially treason. Lest one fear that he might be saying that, Cheney immediately added, "I'm unwilling to say that" -- "that" being what he had just said. He generously granted critics the right to criticize (as did the president this week). Then he resumed hurling adjectives like an ape hurling coconuts at unwanted visitors. "Dishonest." "Reprehensible." "Corrupt." "Shameless." We are now very close to that point of general agreement in the Iraq war. Do you believe that if Bush, Cheney and company could turn back the clock, they would do this again? (Yes, I do think they would. –Susan) And now, thanks to Rep. John Murtha, it is permissible to say, or at least to ask, "Why not just get out now? Or at least soon, on a fixed schedule?" There are arguments against this -- some good, some bad -- but the worst is the one delivered by Cheney and others with their most withering scorn. It is the argument that it is wrong to tell American soldiers risking their lives in a foreign desert that they are fighting for a mistake. One strength of this argument is that it doesn't require defending the war itself. The logic applies equally whether the war is justified or not. Another strength is that the argument is true, in a way: It is a terrible thing to tell someone he or she is risking death in a mistaken cause. But it is more terrible actually to die in that mistaken cause. The longer the war goes on, the more Americans, "allies" and Iraqis will die. That is not a slam-dunk argument for ending this foreign entanglement. But it is worth keeping in mind while you try to decide whether American credibility or Iraqi prosperity or Middle East stability can justify the cost in blood and treasure. And don't forget to factor in the likelihood that the war will actually produce these fine things. OPINION: Failed Policy in Iraq? Prove It! There has been an overwhelming amount of unsubstantiated rhetoric coming from the left about the alleged “failed Bush policy” in Iraq. I say “unsubstantiated rhetoric” because whether the liberal left wants to admit it or not the policy being employed in Iraq is U.S. policy, not just Bush policy-- And I say “alleged” because by all first hand accounts the “failed Bush policy” seems to be working. The liberal leftists in this country and around the world just can’t get enough of their war of words. They argue semantics and innuendo, cherry-picking the facts when pontificating for the media and like-minded crowds. President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and just about every other voice from the “government-over-politics” contingent in Washington, D.C. have literally held press conferences completely devoted to saying that voicing dissent is good for the country and that they welcome it. What they are calling the bloviators of the liberal left on is their use of non-truths, innuendo, and depictions of “reality” that are incomplete. One of this author’s “facts”: Of the 18 Iraqi provinces, unrest exists in only three, all of them inhabited by the previously empowered minority Sunni Arab population. OPINION: An Iraq Pullout, from Two Veterans Views – A NPR Audio. Paul Rieckhott, director of Operation Truth and Frank Adams, commander of a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in California give their opinions on a possible pullout from Iraq. OPINION: Time for An Iraq Timetable. The question most Americans want answered about Iraq is this: When will our troops come home? We already know the likely answer. In 2006, they will begin to leave in large numbers. By the end of the year, we will have redeployed about 50,000. In 2007, a significant number of the remaining 100,000 will follow. A small force will stay behind -- in Iraq or across the border -- to strike at any concentration of terrorists. That is because we cannot sustain 150,000 Americans in Iraq without extending deployment times, sending soldiers on fourth and fifth tours, or mobilizing the National Guard. Even if we could, our large military presence -- while still the only guarantor against a total breakdown -- is increasingly counterproductive. A liberation has become an occupation. There is another critical question: As our soldiers redeploy, will our security interests in Iraq remain intact or will we have traded a dictator for chaos? OPINION: No one has a corner on the truth; nor do we harbor illusions that our analysis is irrefutable or undeniable. But after watching Secretary Powell today, we are convinced that you would be well served if you widened the discussion beyond violations of Resolution 1441, and beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic. - Richard Beske, Patrick Eddington, Kathleen McGrath Christison, Raymond McGovern, William Christison ---Steering Group: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Sent to President Bush and published for the world to read on February 7, 2003. These Intelligence Professionals have a combined total of over 100 years experience. Their letter to Mr. Bush was published and available for any American to read the day they sent it. OPINION: Letter to the Editor: The Bush administration is still telling us that many of the Democrats voted to give the president the authority to go to war with Iraq. True, but implicit in such a vote one expects the administration to take all the necessary steps to minimize casualties, to do this multilaterally, and to develop a number of well-thought-out exit strategies to cover all possible situations. The question to the administration should be: "What was your big hurry?" The answer you hear is, "Well, we were being told Saddam had WMDs, was building nuclear bombs, etc."I repeat: What was the hurry? We had fighter planes flying over Iraq every day, Hans Blix and El Baradei had approximately 1,600 inspectors on the ground, and we had an Army on the Iraqi border, an army that had easily defeated Saddam's best once before. Saddam was a sadistic tyrant, but he wasn't stupid. Would he really have tried to use any weapon of mass destruction under these conditions?If we had spent more time working with other nations in Europe and the Middle East, put more inspectors on the ground and spent more time developing clear exist strategies, wouldn't we be better off today? Wouldn't we have had fewer Americans killed? Wouldn't we have created fewer terrorists to deal with? Maybe we wouldn't have had to "liberate" Iraq, after all. Is the world better off without Saddam? Of course, but what was the price in lives and limbs for rushing in? Did we learn anything from Vietnam?The administration says, "Well, we had bad intelligence." So why would you give the man in charge of acquiring that bad intelligence one of this country's most prestigious medals? And what about the now famous, "It's a slam dunk!" John McLaughlin, No. 2 man in the CIA, says, yes, those words were used, but not in that context! What was the big hurry? Edward W. Bell - Harpswell, Maine Opinion: Poli-Sci 101. You know what's really starting to frost my pumpkin? All the chatter I'm picking up from signals intelligence (yup, we monitor radio and TV broadcasts here at Stayin' Alive, to learn what we can about the worldwide idiocy conspiracy), about how the minor difficulties the U.S. has encountered in Iraq force us to assess whether the "idealistic" foreign policy goals of the neo-conservatives, to bring freedom™ and democracy™ to the world, must surrender to Kissingerian realpolitik. Puh-leeze. The PNAC used the language of "democracy" to refer to the regimes it proposed to install in the Middle East, and they continued to put words about democracy and freedom into the mouth of President Mortimer Snerd after they seized power, but it is obvious what they really meant by the term. The new "democratic" government of Iraq was to be led by a person of their choosing -- specifically, a convicted embezzler who hadn't set foot in Iraq for decades -- and it was proposed that this "democratic" government would be friendly to Israel, would allow the United States to establish permanent military bases on its territory, and would allow U.S. corporations to extract, process and sell its petroleum. Since any government in Iraq that had popular support would do none of those things, it follows that "democracy" to the neo-cons means "regimes friendly to U.S. corporate interests."We know that the preznit took Economics 101 because he talks about it all the time. Okay, that doesn't prove anything, but he did attend Harvard Business School so he must have at least sat in the back of the class. But it appears he did not take Political Science 101. In that course, you learn that political institutions depend on political culture -- that the expectations, aspirations, and norms people have about political participation, the role of government, loyalty to the state and the nature of the national interest are powerful limiting factors for the form of government.You can't have a western-style secular democracy if you do not have the requisite political culture. You can't ride in on tanks and say, "Okay folks, now your country is a democracy, and you'd better act democratically or we'll blow you up," and expect results. The neo-cons may be blinded by ideology, but they aren't total idiots. They have always known that perfectly well. Their rhetoric about democracy™ and freedom™ is utterly cynical. The Iraq project was about installing a client regime, nothing else, and it was as Kissingerian as it could possibly be.The alternative to imperialism, which is the correct label for neo-con policy, is working through international institutions to solve global problems. The U.S. has the world's most powerful economy, at least for now -- although we are squandering our wealth -- and is admired for its cultural achievements and for the ideals that it has lately failed to honor. Those are essential assets that we can use in exercising leadership. Military power, however, does not make for leadership, but for bullying -- which isn't working. –Cervantes OPINION: Children as Human Shields. This is truly appalling. A suicide bomber blew up his car outside a hospital in Mahmudiya (part of the "Triangle of Death" south of Baghdad), killing 30. It was targeted because a U.S. civil affairs team was there (supposedly assessing ways to upgrade the hospital) and because U.S. troops were there handing out toys and candy to children. It goes without saying that this was a depraved act by the suicide bomber. The first time something like this happened, I condemned it in no uncertain terms.But it must also be said that the actions of U.S. troops here were also depraved and cynical. This is the type of operation that suicide b">linked to a U.S. soldier's blog in which he said (on a different occasion), "I'm going to probably buy alot of candy when I goto the PX in the camp. That way, I can hand it out to the kids. They'll be more likely to help us avoid things we wouldn't otherwise be able to avoid if not for them." These candy episodes are, at the least, unbelievably irresponsible and show a depraved indifference to the possibility of children's being killed. Beyond that, however, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that some U.S. soldiers are very explicitly seeing and using children on these sorts of operations as human shields. Even if that was a successful strategy, it would be absolutely execrable; how much worse when the use of children as human shields doesn't even deter suicide bomb attacks. OPINION: Al Jazeera starts up a blog to speak to the claims that Bush wants to bomb them. “My mother( 78 years old) used to tell me before going to work "my son take care", but yesterday she asked me "is it true that they want to bomb your TV station? Don’t go to work." My little Haneen asked "why?" Who is going to kill dad, uncle Krechan, aunt Mayson, and aunt Hala? Please dad we don’t want to lose you and our friends, I don’t want to be like Khadeja, her father Tayser is not with her, or like Mohamed who doesn’t know his father Sami. My wife came trying to hide tears in her face by a smile, and said "Yousef is a wise man, he can manage, we are not afraid. If you are going to save others life go ahead we are with you." That was this mornings conversation. I thought for a while is it right? Is there a human being who can think of bombing a TV station? Then I remembered my colleague Tayseer's voice while I was in Qandhar, south Afghanistan, and he was in Kabul when he told me by phone of what happened and advised me to hide. Also I remembered him once again when he phoned me after bombing our office in Baghdad I was in my way from Amman to Baghdad, also I remembered Rashed Wali who was killed by a bullet in Karbala, Iraq, while we were reporting the fighting there between the US army & Al-Sader fighters, then I said that might occur again - someone may die. However I decided not to go back home but to participate in a campaign against the killers and those who think of bombing the truth seekers. Please tell me if I am right? If yes, my colleagues and I need your support. So do Tayseer, Sami, Tareq, and Rashid's kids - we want to know the truth. Simply because we are men and women who bring you the news. Yousef Al-Shouly----Yousef is a Senior Producer and Senior Reporter at the Al Jazeera Channel. He has covered the wars in Afganistan and Iraq for the channel. OPINION: Condemning Torture. Iraqis are right to investigate the treatment of 170 emaciated prisoners found in Baghdad recently. But the quick response to the mistreatment of Iraqis held by Iraqis contrasts with the foot dragging in the United States over prisoners it has held in Iraq and at undisclosed locations around the world. U.S. officials are right to quickly condemn the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by Iraqi captors, but their words would carry more weight if they were not also arguing so forcefully that this country must be allowed to torture some people some of the time. OPINION: 1,000 Days: Time to Unravel the Gordian Knot of Iraq. Why are we still debating the wisdom of a timetable to withdraw from Iraq, when a meeting of Iraqi leaders in Cairo a few days ago - attended by Kurds, Sunnis, and Shi’ites, including president Jalal Talabani himself - called for precisely that?Maybe they recognize, better than President Bush and Vice President Cheney do, that what their people need now is to be weaned from dependency on foreigners. Iraqis have become security queens, a concept welfare-bashing Republicans should be able to grasp. Maybe they realize, as Democratic representative and Vietnam vet John Murtha realizes, that Americans have become the catalysts of violence, not safeguardians against it. Then again, maybe this war is no longer about liberating Iraq, nor about giving its long-tormented citizens democracy, freedom, or even sovereignty. The thing that is “deeply irresponsible” - to borrow Bush’s description of his critics - is the “dishonest and reprehensible” - to borrow Cheney’s - manipulation of the evidence to assert the existence of pre-war WMD and an al Qaeda connection to Iraq that led to this mess in the first place. HUMOR: This site has video clips for an upcoming horror film called HOMECOMING that will be on Showtime in December. The deceased Iraq War Vets come back as zombies with a “particular – pardon the pun – ax to grind” against certain rightwing nuts and politicians who started this war. This is fiction, so you will see it on your American TV, thewiz. PEACE ACTION: Count the Casualties. Our Open Letter to the Prime Minister. As you know, your government is obliged under international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population during military operations in Iraq, and you have consistently promised to do so. However, without counting the dead and injured, no one can know whether Britain and its Coalition partners are meeting these obligations. We therefore urge you immediately to commission a comprehensive, independent inquiry to determine with the greatest possible accuracy how many Iraqis have died or been injured since March 2003 - and the cause of those casualties. CASUALTY REPORTS Local Story: Former Peorian (Illinois) Dies in Iraq. A member of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment Thunder Squadron, Mad Dog Company, from Colorado, Pearrow was due to come home Wednesday for a month-long leave. He also was about three months shy of retiring. He died in a single vehicle accident involving an M1 Abrams tank. Local Story: Pittsburgh soldier killed in Iraq. Local Story: Puerto Rico Soldier dies in Iraq. Local Story: Ohio Soldier died in Iraq from non-combat injuries. QUOTE OF THE DAY: 'If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation are men who want crops without ploughing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters ... Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." - Frederick Douglass


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