Tuesday, January 03, 2006
War News for Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Bring ‘em on:
Bring ‘em on: Last Saturday in Khalis, north of Baghdad, a bomb killed five members of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni political party that defied insurgent threats and fielded candidates in the Dec. 15 election. Since 2003, at least 75 party members have been killed. In central
Bring ‘em on: The Beiji oil refinery was closed for nearly two weeks because of insurgent threats to kill drivers of fuel trucks. It reopened Sunday.
Bring ‘em on: Gunmen raided a house south of
Bring ‘em on: An Iraqi civilian was seriously wounded when a makeshift bomb targeting a U.S patrol in
Bring ‘em on: A U.S. air strike killed up to 14 members of a single family and wounded at least two people in an attack on a house in Baiji. Police in nearby Tikrit put the death toll at six. The
Bring ‘em on: Another four houses were hit and two people were injured in the Monday night air raid cited in the entry above.
Bring ‘em on: Iraqi militants are negotiating with the Jordanian government about the fate of a hostage they threatened to kill unless
Bring ‘em on: In eastern
Statistics: At least 844 American service members were killed in
The deaths of two Americans announced by the
From Jan. 1, 2005 to Dec. 3, 2005, the most recent date for which numbers are available, the number of Americans military personnel wounded in
Giving in: Six kidnapped employees of
Civil war?: Fourteen members of a Shiite Muslim family are slaughtered in their home. Days later, masked gunmen invade a Sunni household, killing five people. Organized political killing proceeds, as if there had not been elections two weeks ago.
In a speech delivered as Iraqis prepared to go to the polls, President Bush said he didn't believe a civil war would break out. But some observers believe it has begun — a quiet and deadly struggle whose battle lines were thrown into sharp relief by the highly polarized results of that vote.
On any given day, a group of Shiite police officers might be hit with a Sunni suicide attack or ambush. A militiaman in the Shiite-dominated Iraqi security services might arrest, torture and kill a suspected Sunni insurgent. Or a Kurdish official in the new government might be gunned down between home and office.
Unless the assassination target is prominent, or the number of victims rises to at least the high single digits, such events barely rate a mention in Western news reports. Yet the most reliable estimates are that about 1,000 Iraqis have been dying each month, most of them killed by fellow Iraqis.
Definitely: James Fearon, a
"I think there is definitely a civil war that has been going on since we finished the major combat operations," Fearon said. "When people talk about 'Will there be a civil war?' they are really talking about a different type of civil war."
The kind of civil war emerging in
Don’t forget about
The war that would pay for itself:
Sabotage is damaging plants and blocking investment, keeping exports at a fraction of targets officials say should be met if
Hope for a coalition government?:
As part of the bargaining for a new coalition government, President Jalal Talabani assured Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari that his fellow Kurds would not object if the United Iraqi Alliance — the Shiite religious bloc that won the most votes in the election — again nominates him for the post.
But it was the agreement struck Monday by
But it’s the excluded guys that have all the bombs: Araji and other negotiators from the main Shiite slate spent much of Monday night engaged in talks with the National Accordance Front, a Sunni Arab coalition led by Islamists and clerics. The president of the northern Kurdish region of
And the coalition guys aren’t exactly committed either: Kurdish leaders have inserted more than 10,000 of their militia members into Iraqi army divisions in northern
Five days of interviews with Kurdish leaders and troops in the region suggest that
The soldiers said that while they wore Iraqi army uniforms they still considered themselves members of the Peshmerga - the Kurdish militia - and were awaiting orders from Kurdish leaders to break ranks. Many said they wouldn't hesitate to kill their Iraqi army comrades, especially Arabs, if a fight for an independent
The bad penny cat: Even though Ahmad Chalabi apparently lost badly in last month's parliamentary election here, the former Pentagon favorite is still likely to be a big player in the next Iraqi government.
The Dec. 15 vote went largely to ethnic and sectarian coalitions at the expense of secular slates, including his, preliminary returns indicate. That could leave him without a seat in parliament.
Yet the former exile who helped spur the U.S.-led invasion by feeding false intelligence to Washington about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction, and who returned to Iraq after Saddam's fall to craft himself into a political leader, still has more cards to play. Characteristically, Chalabi, 61, could land on his feet in a high government post even though he failed to win even a minimum of votes from the Iraqi people.
Oh, and by the way, the election still isn’t finalized: Final results from
The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq has completed its investigation of almost 2,000 election complaints and will announce the findings on Wednesday, commission member Hussein Hindawi told The Associated Press.
US Military News
Who needs a bigger army when you can just keep the soldiers in for seven tours?: The Pentagon expects to face many Iraq-type conflicts in the coming years, wars that involve battling insurgents and restoring stability. As a result, a debate is beginning to churn in defense policy circles: Should the government enlarge the military so it can more easily fight these wars? Or should the government alter its policies, so as not to fight such wars as often, at least not alone?
Senior Pentagon officials argue that neither shift is necessary, that reorganizing the Army's existing combat units into stronger, faster and more flexible brigades will have the same effect as adding more soldiers. But some analysts doubt these adjustments alone will go far enough.
Lawrence Korb, who was assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs in the Reagan administration, states the issue baldly: "We cannot fight a long, sustained war without a larger ground force." He defines a "long war" as lasting two years or more. The
Watch all the warbloggers call him a coward: Rep. John Murtha, a key Democratic voice who favors pulling
The bastion is crumbling: While President Bush remains more popular within the military than outside it, support for him, and for the war in
A "nontraditional state":
The main aerial hub for the war in Iraq has 1,500 airmen doing convoy operations in Iraq and 1,000 working with detainees, training Iraqis and performing other activities not usually associated with the Air Force, said Col. Tim Hale, commander of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing.
"Every one of us has learned that we are in a nontraditional state in our armed forces," he said, standing outside an auditorium at an air base in
The dangers of the new roles were highlighted when the expeditionary wing lost its first female member in the line of duty in
Homefront debate: Scott Cameron never imagined his modest memorial to American troops in
His sign tallying the war's dead and wounded rests feet from the local Army recruiting office, and Cameron's refusal to take it down despite Army requests has drawn national attention. The fuss is giving the
''The way veterans have been treated in this country is shameful," Cameron said last week.
Just put it on the card: South Carolina National Guard units that deployed to
Colonel Ronald Huff is the Guard's deputy chief of staff for logistics. Huff says
They also left hundreds of radios, weapons, tools and other equipment.
Censorship: Letters home filled with tales of death and danger, bravery and boredom are a wartime certainty.
And now, as hundreds of soldiers overseas have started keeping Internet journals about the heat, the homesickness, the bloodshed, word speeds from the battlefront faster than ever.
More and more, though,
In total, two-thirds of Australians, about 66 per cent, now believe it was not worth going to war, up from 58 per cent a year ago. Just 27 per cent believe it was worth it, compared with 32per cent a year ago.
Among Coalition voters, only 43 per cent believe it was worth going to war, a sharp drop from 50 per cent last December and 63 per cent early last year.
Western Europe: The cases of Abu Omar, a radical Muslim snatched by the CIA under the noses of the Milan police and flown secretly to Egypt, and Khalid el-Masri, a German national forcibly transported by that same agency from Macedonia to an Afghan prison by mistake, have propelled what once seemed a settled debate over human rights to the center of the European political stage.
It is difficult to name a Western European nation that has not announced some kind of investigation into whether the
Tom Engelhardt: The newly minted "Complete Victory" Award, known in previous years as the "Mission Accomplished" Award, goes to President George W. Bush. It was bestowed to honor his sudden declaration on November 30, 2005, against a backdrop of "Plan for Victory" signs, that we would settle for nothing less than the whole shebang in
Interview with Kristina Borjesson: What's interesting is that there's a pattern to the coverage whenever we go to war. Before the war, everybody is gung-ho, because the PR machine is in full swing [and] everybody wants to get behind the president. Really, if you want to be re-elected, start a war, because people don't like to change presidents.
And then you go to war, and there's bang-bang footage and it's all exciting. And the people start to die, and now you're into the everyday flogging of the war. It's the same stuff all the time, so people get tired of that.
But as the casualties start to rise, that's when the reporting starts getting critical, because it's hitting a critical mass with the public that their kids are dying. Once a critical mass of kids start arriving home in coffins, the reporting starts to change, because journalism is not proactive, it's reactive.
In the case of this war, there is another added element to that. People have discovered, way before the war is over, [that] the president's reasons for going to war turned out to have no basis. That creates questions in people's minds, too.
But again, you're constantly swimming against the PR machine that comes out with, "You're not supporting the troops if you're critical. We're going to win this war; it's important -- the Iraqi people are behind it." Our tax dollars are being used to blow smoke at us. That is profoundly troubling.
Mark LeVine: It is true that the rhetoric and tactics surrounding
The policies advocated by Kennan reflected the
In this context, President Bush's December 18 speech to the nation celebrating the Iraqi elections betrayed both a disquieting ignorance of the history, time line and impact of American foreign policy in the
Scott Ritter: With the advent of a New Year, the buzz term being bandied about throughout
The democratic process that transpired in 2005 was in and of itself a by-product of this chaos and anarchy. The January 2005 election of an interim governmental authority responsible for raising a national assembly whose job it was to draft a new Iraqi Constitution was a slip-shod affair, the timing of which was driven by American political imperative as opposed to representing the will and desire of an Iraqi electorate. In fact, the most telling outcome of that election was that while Iraq had a mass of people who were brave enough to face down terrorist attacks to make their way to the polling places to cast a vote, Iraq did not have an informed and organized electorate capable of defining and declaring core values upon which they selected candidates for national representative government.
What the January 2005 elections in Iraq showed more than anything is that an election does not certify a democracy; only a democracy can certify an election, and Iraq is, after 30 some-odd years of totalitarian rule, certifiably not prepared to organize itself and function as a free and democratic state run on principles of secular rule of law and human rights agreed upon by the majority of the Iraqi people.
Michael Schwartz: The Washington Post, quoting
There are several aspects to this new strategy that we need to keep in mind.
First, this is an attempt to lessen the strain on
We should not lose track of the importance of this comment. The
Second, this change in strategy is an attempt to find a better way to fight the resistance, since the search and destroy operations have failed miserably, even while they have inflicted incredible destruction and carnage in the cities under attack. But it also means a more explicit use of state terror. The
Whether or not the targets were insurgents, the disregard for the lives of civilians trapped inside the buildings demolished by air attacks is part of a larger pattern articulated by an American officer to NY Times reporter Dexter Filkins early in the war: "the new strategy must punish not only the guerrillas, but also make clear to ordinary Iraqis the cost of not cooperating."
Reasonable Veteran: As a war veteran who deeply appreciates the value of freedom, here is my New Year's Day resolution:
Peacefully overthrow the unelected executive.
Although this proposal sounds shocking, my resolution remains protected as free speech under our U.S. Constitution.
With great seriousness, I believe it is time for me to exercise that right today, so we and our children may live with liberty and pursue happiness.
Toward that end, here's an idea free people should ponder: Exercising our civil liberties on a massive scale on Friday, January 20, 2006.
That day will mark five years since our last properly elected president departed the White House and the disturbing downward spiral toward dictatorship began.
On January 20, 2006, free-thinking citizens in the
We should call it "Freedom Hour."
This means using one hour, at any time of the day, to remember the meaning and value of freedom. Some may choose to take time from work. Others may choose to walk out of class. And others may decide to assemble in public, as is our right under our U.S. Constitution.
People should bring with them one of these three great works to share.
"Common Sense," by Thomas Paine
I'm suggesting we peacefully exercise our rights on January 20 because our Nation is facing a very serious Constitutional crisis due illegal domestic spying, questionable elections, and an endless pursuit of war using fear and lies.
Tim Abbott: When I think of Bush, I do not think of liberty and courage, compassion and justice. No, I think of arrogance, greed and lies. He is a thug, a buffoon and a coward. Not only is he incompetent, he is corrupt.
He is of a kind with the dictators; a strutting, sanctimonious buffoon who talks democracy but acts like Saddam Hussein. Bush might differ in degree from Hussein, not having been in power as long, but in behavior, with torture and the corruption of government, they are of a kind.
While al-Qaida is an enemy of the values and principles of the
Bush can subvert our principles and institutions. He is the greater enemy.
Jonathan Schell: When the New York Times revealed that George W. Bush had ordered the National Security Agency to wiretap the foreign calls of American citizens without seeking court permission, as is indisputably required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), passed by Congress in 1978, he faced a decision. Would he deny the practice, or would he admit it? He admitted it. But instead of expressing regret, he took full ownership of the deed, stating that his order had been entirely justified, that he had in fact renewed it thirty times, that he would continue to renew it and--going even more boldly on the offensive--that those who had made his law-breaking known had committed a "shameful act." As justification, he offered two arguments, one derisory, the other deeply alarming. The derisory one was that Congress, by authorizing him to use force after September 11, had authorized him to suspend FISA, although that law is unmentioned in the resolution. Thus has Bush informed the members of a supposedly co-equal branch of government of what, unbeknownst to themselves, they were thinking when they cast their vote. The alarming argument is that as Commander in Chief he possesses "inherent" authority to suspend laws in wartime. But if he can suspend FISA at his whim and in secret, then what law can he not suspend? What need is there, for example, to pass or not pass the Patriot Act if any or all of its provisions can be secretly exceeded by the President?
Bush's choice marks a watershed in the evolution of his Administration. Previously when it was caught engaging in disgraceful, illegal or merely mistaken or incompetent behavior, he would simply deny it. "We have found the weapons of mass destruction!" "We do not torture!" However, further developments in the torture matter revealed a shift. Even as he denied the existence of torture, he and his officials began to defend his right to order it. His Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, refused at his confirmation hearings to state that the torture called waterboarding, in which someone is brought to the edge of drowning, was prohibited. Then when Senator John McCain sponsored a bill prohibiting cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners, Bush threatened to veto the legislation to which it was attached. It was only in the face of majority votes in both houses against such treatment that he retreated from his claim.
But in the wiretapping matter, he has so far exhibited no such vacillation. Secret law-breaking has been supplanted by brazen law-breaking. The difference is critical. If abuses of power are kept secret, there is still the possibility that, when exposed, they will be stopped. But if they are exposed and still permitted to continue, then every remedy has failed, and the abuse is permanently ratified. In this case, what will be ratified is a presidency that has risen above the law.
The danger is not abstract or merely symbolic. Bush's abuses of presidential power are the most extensive in American history. He has launched an aggressive war ("war of choice," in today's euphemism) on false grounds. He has presided over a system of torture and sought to legitimize it by specious definitions of the word. He has asserted a wholesale right to lock up American citizens and others indefinitely without any legal showing or the right to see a lawyer or anyone else. He has kidnapped people in foreign countries and sent them to other countries, where they were tortured. In rationalizing these and other acts, his officials have laid claim to the unlimited, uncheckable and unreviewable powers he has asserted in the wiretapping case. He has tried to drop a thick shroud of secrecy over these and other actions.
There is a name for a system of government that wages aggressive war, deceives its citizens, violates their rights, abuses power and breaks the law, rejects judicial and legislative checks on itself, claims power without limit, tortures prisoners and acts in secret. It is dictatorship.
Her youngest son, Elliot, asked Santa to bring Cory back. The pile of toys gift-wrapped under the family tree on Christmas morning did nothing to ease Elliot's heartbreak when Cory didn't return.
"He just started crying," May said, breaking into tears.
"It was a tough day. You can't buy happiness, and that is a perfect example. We had all kinds of toys under the tree, but that really wasn't what they wanted."
The towel began to sag, tugged by tiny hands wrapped in gauze to keep a restless 4-year-old from again pulling out the feeding tubes that run down his throat.
Lying by the crib, the boy’s father wore earplugs to block the noise of helicopters, arriving with their cargo of wounded, sick and dying at the stretch of interconnected tents that make up the largest
It was midnight in late December, and more than a week had passed since insurgents had fired mortar rounds at
The shells missed the Americans but landed near Adnan Ezaldeen’s home as he showered in preparation for Friday morning prayers at his local mosque. They killed two of his sons, who were in the fourth and fifth grades, and hit his 4-year-old namesake son with shrapnel in the legs, liver and stomach.
A Life, Wasted
Paul E. Schroeder: Two painful questions remain for all of us. Are the lives of Americans being killed in
I choose to honor our fallen hero by remembering who he was in life, not how he died. A picture of a smiling Augie in
Though it hurts, I believe that his death -- and that of the other Americans who have died in
But their deaths will not be in vain if Americans stop hiding behind flag-draped hero masks and stop whispering their opposition to this war. Until then, the lives of other sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers may be wasted as well.
This is very painful to acknowledge, and I have to live with it. So does President Bush.