War News for Wednesday, December 7, 2005
Bring 'em on: Three Iraqi policemen killed when fifteen insurgents stormed a hospital to free an insurgent accused of planting bombs in Kirkuk
Bring 'em on: Four Iraqis killed in clashes between rival Kurdish political parties in Irbil
Bring 'em on: Three killed and twenty injured in a suicide bomb attack on a cafe in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Two senior local government officials gunned down in Al-Rashad
Bring 'em on: Allawi's headquarters hit by rocket attack in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Insurgents say that have kidnapped an American security advisor in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Three oil security workers gunned down near an oil pipeline in Shorkat
Bring 'em on: Iraqi army colonel and his driver found shot dead near Baquba
Bring 'em on: Iraqi police general and a passenger in his car shot dead in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Iraqi policewoman shot dead in western Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Iraqi engineer kidnapped in Al-Rashad
Bring 'em on: Iraqi civilian killed in crossfire between US forces and insurgents in Ramadi
Battle Report - Udaime
A relatively unseasoned Iraqi Army company was ambushed north of Baqubah over the weekend, killing 19. To senior U.S. military officials attempting to hand over the security mission, the 45-minute battle demonstrated both the vulnerability and growing strengths of the Iraqi military.
But to others, the attack illustrates the danger of succumbing to political pressure to complete that hand-over too quickly.
The company, out of Wasit Province, was attached the to the Iraqi Army`s 5th Division. It was sent to Udaime to police Khalis Road, a main thoroughfare that has been the frequent target of roadside bombs.
The Iraqi Joint Headquarters had asked the U.S. military to patrol the road in September but all American units were tied up implementing security for the October referendum, U.S. officials said. The leading edge of the company moved up to the area on Friday. As more of their troops moved in on Khalis Road Saturday, a major attack was launched.
At least seven improvised explosive devices were detonated, stopping the company on the road, and between 50 and 100 fighters -- all of them believed to be Iraqi -- attacked with small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and possibly a single mortar.
By the end of the attack, 19 Iraqi soldiers were dead, some of them apparently in close combat: the company commander and one other soldier had their throats slit, according to accounts of the events from several U.S. military officers who spoke to United Press International on condition of anonymity, citing regulations that forbid unauthorized contact with the media.
A unit from the U.S. Army`s 3rd Brigade Combat Team was first to arrive on the scene, but the fighting was largely already over by the time it got there, an officer from the unit said. However, they launched clearing operations.
'There was a lot of `house to house,` captured a bunch of guys, got lots of intel, some weapons caches, and there were couple of foot bridges that go across a creek or a river. We dropped those' to cut off escape routes, said a second U.S. Army officer.Promotion Ceremony - Fallujah
Ten U.S. Marines killed near the Iraqi city of Falluja last week had been at a promotion ceremony and were not on foot patrol as initially reported, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.
The Marines were in a disused flour mill on the outskirts of the city to celebrate the promotion of three soldiers, a military statement said.
As the ceremony ended, the Marines dispersed and one of them is thought to have stepped on a buried pressure plate linked to explosives that caused the devastating blast.Groundhog Day - Hasiba
These rebels had spread full control on Hasiba, turning the inhabitants into something like hostages. But most of them fled the town before the U.S. military advance. “Nonetheless, we were subjected to heavy bombardment. There is large-scale destruction. The military operations have turned Hasiba into a ghost city,” said Abdula al-Dulaimi, a Hasiba inhabitant.
Dulaimi said “large numbers” of foreign fighters were in the town before the arrival of U.S. troops. “They simply vanished before the start of the military operations. They left the unarmed and innocent inhabitants to face U.S. troops and their random shelling,” he said. He said only a few rebels had remained behind “giving the U.S. the excuse to inflict destruction on the town.”
A U.S. marine contingent is now based in Hasiba but Abu Aid said he was certain the rebels would return once the troops left. “We want to tell the U.S. and the Iraqi government that we have no means to fight the rebels. They are so powerful to defy the U.S. How could we confront them?” Abu Aid said.Other News
: The war in Iraq is forcing fearful choices on expectant mothers. Relatively well-off women are opting for Caesarean delivery to avoid the roads at night. After curfew there's even less assurance than there is during the day that Iraqis, who are ordered to stay in their homes after 11 p.m., won't be killed by mistake. The roads are rife with checkpoints, insurgents and jumpy Iraqi and U.S. soldiers. Dr. Iman Ibrahim, 38, who works at Saint Raphael, a private hospital in Karrada, in south-central Baghdad, said her pregnant patients came to her afraid. Two of every 10 patients ask for Caesareans to avoid the roads and about half of them ask for labor to be induced during the day.
Throw $1bn at it
: Improvised explosive devices (IEDs), often buried beside roads or hidden under debris, are the main cause of death and injury to US troops in Iraq, says the Pentagon. It has committed $1bn in funding to try to solve the problem, AFP news agency reports.
: Iraq's main Sunni religious authority has announced it will not participate in this month's general election but stopped short of calling for a boycott.
: Saddam Hussein’s trial was delayed today after the ousted president refused to attend the session, court officials said. Defence lawyers huddled with the judges in hopes of resolving the latest test of wills in the often-unruly trial.
: Most of the Colorado National Guard's 12 firefighting helicopters will be in Iraq during next summer's forest fire season. "Next fire season will be a challenge for us," Maj. Gen. Mason Whitney, adjutant general of Colorado's Guard, told the legislature's Joint Budget Committee on Tuesday. He said it is possible that the helicopters' 18-month deployment will keep them out of the state for the 2007 fire season as well.
Equipment, Not Manpower
: As the Defense Department scrambles to finalize its budget for the coming fiscal year, the Air Force is looking to secure much of its savings by cutting active and reserve forces, instead of slashing weapons purchases. The Army, which is bearing more of the burden of the war in Iraq, doesn't envision similar personnel cuts, but is exploring a modest slowdown in its plans for troop growth as it grapples with a recruiting shortfall. The Pentagon move to sacrifice manpower in order to protect high-tech weaponry is an about-face from signals in recent months that Pentagon leaders and defense-industry executives were girding for deep weapons-program cuts to offset huge bills from both the war in Iraq and the Gulf Coast hurricanes.
: The British government is guilty of breaking international law if it allowed secret CIA "rendition" flights of terror suspects to land at UK airports, according to a report by American legal scholars. Merely giving permission for the flights to refuel while en route to the Middle East to collect a prisoner would constitute a breach of the law, according to the opinion commissioned by an all-party group of MPs, which meets in parliament for the first time today.
: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sought to clarify American policy on harsh interrogation methods today, saying no US personnel may use cruel or degrading practices at home or abroad
. Rice’s remarks during a visit to Ukraine followed confusion in the US over whether CIA employees could use means otherwise off limits for US personnel.
Rumsfeld's New Europe
: "New Europe" is saying goodbye to Iraq. Some of the former East bloc's largest contingents in the US-led coalition are slated to bow out of fighting after Iraq's parliamentary elections in December. "One of the main reasons [for leaving] was the growing negative public opinion in Ukraine towards the deployment of our troops in Iraq," says Ihor Dolhov, a deputy foreign minister in Ukraine.
Opinion and Commentary
Media and Propaganda War
Asia Times Online, meanwhile, has learned of the release in Afghanistan of a state-of-the-art CD comprising selected speeches by Osama bin Laden from 2002 to December 2004. The CD is already available (illegally) in Pakistan and in parts of the Middle East.
Security experts believe that soon it will flood the market as the first step towards a broader al-Qaeda goal; to shed its shadowy image and openly propagate the call for mass jihad against the US and any other foreign occupiers in the Middle East.
The CD's speeches address specific audiences, like the one in 2002 to the Pakistani nation, the 2003 speech to Americans, a speech in 2004 to Europe and the December 2004 address to the people of the Arabian peninsula (Saudi Arabia).
The CD includes horrifying images of war and destruction in Iraq, and pays tribute to the Iraqi resistance.
Unlike in the past, the CD appears to have been made by professionals in a well-equipped studio. The audio and visual effects are clear, with English subtitles for non-Arabic speakers. Additionally, separate formatted files include transcripts in languages such as Urdu, Persian, English and Arabic.
"This package clearly shows one thing, that al-Qaeda has strongly regrouped and in an organized manner is spreading its propaganda material to the whole of the Muslim world," a senior Pakistani security official told Asia Times Online.
The lengthiest and most impressive speech on the CD is bin Laden's December 2004 video address to the people of the Arabian peninsula in which he explains why the rulers in Saudi Arabia were being targeted by al-Qaeda. The reasons included their corruption, tyranny, abuse of human rights and deviation from the basic Islamic faith.
A senior Pakistani intelligence analyst commented, "Previously, al-Qaeda used to spread propaganda material which would motivate people to join the Afghan resistance, but this new CD does not aim for that. Rather, it aims to connect with the masses all over the world. The speeches selected for the CD are not simply propaganda material to instigate people to war, but instead present in-depth analysis on al-Qaeda's approach and clarification of their various actions and justifications.
"Generally, underground groups do not indulge in debate to justify their actions. Instead, they indulge in rhetoric, which attracts fresh blood to their cadre. However, when underground movements try to connect with the masses and try to cultivate their collective thinking, this indicates their ambitions to do mainstream activities, which include mass mobilization or mass participation in their programs."
On November 4, Asia Times Online reported (Al-Qaeda goes back to base) of an ongoing debate within al-Qaeda on becoming a more open outfit, operating from bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. This could take several months to complete, but the first shots have already been fired with the release of the CD.
Money can't buy you Love
What was that quote from Bush on March 13, 2002?
"Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run."
The current U.S. administration is unwilling to learn from the series of its ill-fated campaigns in Iraq. It has been moving from one blunder to another, undercutting its credibility in the eyes of the Iraqis and eroding any remaining confidence in its efforts in the country.
To salvage U.S. image, the Pentagon thought it could buy Iraqi trust by implanting ‘positive’ stories in local media. The Pentagon is reported to have paid millions of dollars to have these stories published. While we are sorry to know that many Iraqi reporters, newspapers and other media outlets were involved, we would like to underscore that the effort is yet another stigma of disgrace on the forehead of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
After undermining the country’s institutions, sovereignty and credibility, the Pentagon eventually moved to humiliate its national and independent press. True, there are now scores of newspapers, magazines, radios and television stations in Iraq. But it should be noted that the media mushroom has been rather a curse than a blessing – evidence the multi-million dollar subsidies the Pentagon has been paying for many of these outlets.
The Iraqi media landscape may look varied and fragmented but this is not at all a sign of multiplicity and freedom of speech. The U.S. occupation has helped the emergence of newspapers, radio and televisions that lack the basics of balanced and credible reporting. These outlets have become merely tools in the hands of the Pentagon or the factions that advance its policies in the country.
This disgusting, U.S. financed media campaign is an insult to the Iraqi people, Iraqi media and the future of the country. We would like to confirm to our readers that none of the Pentagon-sponsored material has found its way to the pages of our newspaper. We are proud of this and promise to keep our independence no matter the cost and the threats we occasionally receive.
We cannot and should not fall in the trap of the U.S. occupation and its games both of which we strongly condemn. The campaign is another signpost on the aggressive and brutal path the U.S. has been pursuing since its 2003 invasion.White Man's Burden
Last week, on the precious real estate of the right's flagship, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Iraq war-hawk Sen. Joe Lieberman (D?-CT) let slip another unspoken reason why we remain in Iraq more than two and a half years after achieving our stated goal of "disarming" Saddam Hussein.
Lieberman wrote that the Iraqis are on the brink of transitioning "from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood." That is, "unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn."
It's noteworthy that Lieberman portrayed the old government as "primitive," despite the fact that we were talked into attacking Iraq because it had what President Bush called the "deadliest" weapons "known to mankind." They were, presumably, quite modern.
And that fits reality. Iraq under the Baathists was many things, but primitive wasn't one of them. Before two decades of infrastructure-smashing war, Iraq was considered to be as advanced as many countries in Western Europe. Its universities were the envy of the Arabic world, as was its health care system, which featured the most modern hospitals in the region.
Lieberman contrasts this "primitive" Iraq with the "modern" self-governance that the "great American military has given them."
If this strikes a familiar note with students of history, it should. In earlier iterations, the notion that the West had an obligation to drag their primitive charges into the present was embedded in the "civilizing missions" undertaken by the French and British in India and Africa, it was in the White Man's Burden invoked by Kipling and the "Hamitic Myth" favored by German intellectuals to justify its colonial possessions.
Even the Portuguese, the poorest, least educated, least powerful of the European colonial powers cooked up an ideology known as "Lusotropicalism" to justify keeping its African possessions into the 1970s.
All of these ideologies shared two things in common: the idea that the people they were subjugating were primitive -- the "natives" were frequently portrayed as children in contemporary art of the times - and the claim that what may have seemed like exploitation backed by the gun, was in fact a wholly beneficent attempt to bring the poor, brown people in question a taste of "modernity."
In 1839, six years before he coined the term "Manifest Destiny" in calling for the U.S. to annex Mexican Texas, well-known columnist John L. O'Sullivan wrote that America had been chosen for the "blessed mission" of subjugating those who "endure an existence scarcely more enviable than that of beasts," because only America "is destined to be the great nation of futurity."
We can call the modern iteration in Iraq, as expressed by Lieberman (and many others), simply "American exceptionalism."