Saturday, February 18, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2006 Photo: An Iraqi woman sits with her children as U.S. Army and Iraqi troops check her house during a 'knock and search' mission near the northern city of Tikrit February 17, 2006. U.S. Army troops with the 101st Airborne Division and Iraqi soldiers conducted the joint operation using helicopters and ground troops to search for weapons caches and disrupt insurgent activity near Tikrit. REUTERS/Bob Strong Bring ‘em on: Gunmen kill the owner of a petrol station in Falluja. Bring ‘em on: Three civilians found hanged from a bridge in Ramadi. Bring ‘em on: Five bodyguards killed in the kidnapping of an Iraqi bank boss and his son in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Three bodies of men found in northern Baghdad. They were shot execution style. Bring ‘em on: Drive by shooting kills a cigarette salesman in Husseiniyah. Bring ‘em on: Main oil pipeline in northern Baghdad blown up on Friday. No reports of casualties. Bring ‘em on: Roadside bomb targeted police patrol in Sebea Ibkar district of Baghdad, wounding two policemen. Bring ‘em on: Another body found in northern Baghdad, shot execution style. Bring ‘em on: Two gunmen stormed into a fashion accessories store in Baghdad and killed two brothers working there. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi civilians battled three gunmen who had tried to shoot a man in western Baghdad’s Baiyaa neighborhood. One gunman was killed and the other two fled. This clash wounded four bystanders. Bring ‘em on: Four bodies found blindfolded, hands bound and shot in the head in western Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Policeman killed and two wounded when an IED exploded in al Yousifiya. Bring ‘em on: Two foreign workers have gone missing in Basra, it is suspected that they were kidnapped. Bring ‘em on: Guerrillas fired five rockets at the biggest US base in Anbar province. Bring ‘em on: An ex-Baathist and his son were assassinated in Mosul. (This last two items were on Juan Cole’s blog, translated from Arabic. Thanks, Mr. Cole! – Susan) Bring ‘em on: Three policemen killed and three wounded by roadside bomb in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: US soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi police major assassinated by drive by shooting in Ramadi. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi civilians killed and four wounded by concealed bomb in eastern Baghdad’s Ghadir area. Bring ‘em on: One civilian killed and five wounded by IED in Baqouba. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi police report that US forces killed three men trying to plant an IED in Dora section of Baghdad. The resistance forces had a car full of explosives that went off in this fight. Bring ‘em on: There were 186 attacks on Iraqi oil installations last year, which left 47 engineers, technicians and workers dead. Bring ‘em on: Bodyguard of a senior Iraqi police officer killed and another wounded by roadside bomb in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Two more bodies found, one in eastern Baghdad and another in western Baghdad, with the hands tied and blindfolded. They were shot in the head. Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqi civilians killed and ten injured in western Baghdad on Friday. Bring ‘em on: Three civilians killed and four wounded by roadside bomb that missed a police patrol in Baghdad. The victims were in two cars. Bring ‘em on: Another roadside bomb killed two police officers and wounded three others guarding an oil tanker on Saturday. Bring ‘em on: Bomb blast meant for Iraqi police kills a bus passenger instead in Tikrit. Two more civilians wounded. Bring ‘em on: Two more bodies found shot, tied and blindfolded in Baghdad’s Rustamiyah sewerage treatment plant, where dozens of bodies have been dumped. REPORTS Butchers, Bakers, Barbers and Blacksmiths - All are Fair Game in Blood-Soaked Baghdad ''I'm like any other Iraqi nowadays, feeling that I am vulnerable and can die at any moment,'' Rassam, a Christian, said Friday. In the past two weeks, mechanics, blacksmiths, bakers and liquor dealers have been killed in drive-by shootings or roadside bombings. Two brothers working in an exclusive cologne and perfume shop in south Baghdad's Maalif district were gunned down Friday inside the store. The killers left without taking anything, police said. About an hour later, armed men attacked a nearby watch store. This time the staff was ready, grabbing guns from below the counter and chasing the assailants into the street. They shot one dead, and U.S. soldiers sent in a robot to remove a grenade from the corpse. Just why Iraqis with no clear ties to the U.S. military or Iraqi police are being killed or kidnapped in increasing numbers has become one of the most disturbing questions of the post-Saddam Hussein era. So much attention is directed at the war against the insurgents that the police have little time to fight crime, he said. ''The government doesn't have time or resources to deal with the criminal side of the violence while it tries to also concentrate on terrorism,'' said al-Ani, an analyst for the Gulf Research Center. ''The targets are getting lower and lower. A year ago you could only kidnap the rich people. But now anyone is a target.'' An Iraqi army officer criticized the government, saying its weakness allows thugs to blackmail, murder and carry out sectarian reprisals at will. ''No one hesitates to seek revenge over tribal disputes or kill people even if they raise their voices,'' said Maj. Gen. Jawad al-Daini. ''Today they kill a Shiite baker in a Shiite area and tomorrow they will kill a Sunni supermarket owner. They can kill anyone they think is against them.'' Iraq Attacks Increase "We`re seeing the insurgent move his target away from coalition forces to Iraqi security forces," US Major-General Rick Lynch said. He attributed the spike to the increased role of Iraqi security forces, as well as the interim period between the December 15 elections and the formation of a new government, which is still pending. "We have seen over the last several weeks about a 15 percent increase in civilian casualties, and we`ve seen about a 30 percent increase in attacks against security forces," he told reporters. "The insurgents want to attack because they want to discredit the government in existence, so seeing spikes in attacks during this period in time was not indeed unpredicted." Major General Lynch added. Iraq Inflation Soars to 22% Iraq inflation shot to 22% in January driven by hikes in essential commodities like food, fuel, transport and rent. The latest figures by the Central Statistical Bureau show that January’s inflation level was 5.8% higher than the preceding month. The surge comes despite government insistence and measures that it will keep inflation unchanged to curb price hikes. A statement by the bureau, the government’s statistical arm, said increases in January touched all the commodities it uses as benchmark to measure inflation. The index covers commodities which absorb almost 100% of what Iraqi families spend in one month, the statement said. The items include foodstuffs, fuel, transport, medical services and drugs, clothes, property, furniture and other essential goods. Transport and fuel saw the highest increases (27%) followed by foodstuffs (26.4%). Iraqi Army Forces to Receive Two Southern Provinces Soon The new Iraqi army forces completed its preparations to receive over the next few weeks the responsibility of the security authority from the Multi-National Forces (MNF-I) in the provinces of Missan and Al-Mathna in southern Iraq, a security official said. Advisor at the Iraqi Defense Ministry told KUNA Saturday that this step comes after the new Iraqi army force proved its capabilities to preserve the country's security. The British forces are stationed in the two provinces within the framework of the MNF. Provincial Officials Call on Danish Troops to Leave Over Mohammed Cartoons Danish troops will have to leave unless their government officially apologizes for the publication of cartoons abusing Prophet Mohammed, Basra’s provincial council has said. In a statement the council made the stay of Danish troops in the country contingent on a public apology by their government. “The council demands Danish troops in Basra to leave unless their government apologizes to Muslims for issuing cartoons abusing Prophet Mohammed,” the statement obtained by Azzaman said. Denmark has 500 troops in southern Iraq near Basra. Iraqis have expressed their anger and indignation at the publication of the cartoons but so far the protests have been peaceful. Iraq oil sector lost over USD 6 bln. in 2005 Iraq has lost over USD 6 billion throughout 2005 due to sabotage operations against its oil sector facilities, a senior official told KUNA on Saturday. Issam Jihad, Spokesman for the Iraqi Oil Ministry said the ministry experts have estimated the loss at USD 6.25 billion, while 138 security and technical personnel lost their lives in a series of 186 sabotage operations carried in 2005. Operations to set oil fields ablaze cost the ministry about USD 400 million, while above USD 2.7 billion were lost in operations against crude oil pipelines. Destroying petrochemicals pipelines also cost over USD 3 billion, he concluded. Ministry’s Move to Protect Domestic Industry Minster of Industry and Minerals Abdulaziz al-Najafi wants the government to take measures to protect domestic industry. In a statement faxed to the newspaper, the minister said he would soon ask the government to pass a law that will limit the import of products that harm local industry. Currently there are no restrictions on imports and Iraqi industrialists complain that they cannot compete with cheap goods particularly those coming from China. He said his ministry had prepared a draft law “and it will be presented to the cabinet for approval.” He said goods were “sort of being dumped on the Iraqi market” at prices that are sometimes below those prevalent in countries producing them. “This is an attempt to ruin the Iraqi economy and Iraqi companies,” he was quoted as saying. Najafi said it was essential that the domestic industry had the necessary incentives to compete with foreign imports. Iraq Power Shift Widens a Gulf Between Sects Of all of the changes that have swept Iraqi society since the American invasion almost three years ago, one of the quieter ones, yet also one of the most profound, has been the increased identification with one's own sect. In the poisonous new mix of violence, sectarian politics and lawlessness, families are turning inward to protect themselves. "Since the state was dismantled in Iraq, institutions have disappeared and people have withdrawn into their clans and tribes," Allawi, the former prime minister, said in a recent interview. The trend badly damaged the fortunes of Mr. Allawi's bloc of secular parties in the December elections for Parliament, as the vast majority of Iraq's 11.9 million voters cast ballots along sectarian and ethnic lines. As a result, tribal ties now bind more firmly. Social life has withdrawn from clubs to homes. Mixed marriages are more carefully considered. "For a parent, the first question now is going to be: Sunni or Shiite?" said Shatha al-Quraishi, an Iraqi lawyer who specializes in family law. "People are starting to talk about it. I can feel it. I can touch that something has changed." At the same time, pent-up feelings that for years were kept hidden under Saddam’s government are now bursting into full view, in some cases dividing families. Shiite husbands jailed under Mr. Hussein turn their anger on their Sunni wives. Children come home asking if they are Sunni or Shiite. Sectarian tensions in private lives are far from universal: Iraqis of different sects have mixed for decades and still do. But anecdotal evidence provided in interviews with lawyers, court clerks and social workers suggests that fault lines that have always existed are now becoming more distinct. An analysis provided by one family court in central Baghdad showed that mixed marriages were rare to begin with, making up 3 to 5 percent of all unions in late 2002. But by late 2005 they had virtually stopped: the court did not record any in December, and last month registered only 2 out of 742 marriages. Iran Demands British Troops Quit Basra Iran’s foreign minister demanded the immediate withdrawal of British forces from Basra on Friday, saying their presence had destabilized Iraq’s second-largest city. British Prime Minister Tony Blair rejected the demand and accused Iran of trying to divert attention from other issues, presumably its nuclear program. A Basra city spokesman said the departure of foreign troops "is not in Iraq's interest now" because of the security situation. "We believe that the presence of British forces in Basra has destabilized security in this city and has had some negative effects in the form of threats against southern Iran recently," Foreign Minister Manushehr Mottaki said during a visit to Beirut, Lebanon. "The Islamic Republic of Iran demands an immediate withdrawal of British forces from Basra," he added. Basra, where most of Britain's more than 8,000 troops in Iraq are based, is located about 20 miles west of the Iranian border. Bulgarian Forces to Guard Iraqi Refugee Camp Bulgarian forces will take charge of guarding Iraq's Al-Ashraf refugee camp located 40 kilometers from Baghdad, Bulgarian Defense Minister Vesselin Bliznakov said on Friday. Addressing Bulgarian Parliament, Bliznakov said talks with the US command of the Multi-National-Force (MNF) reached an agreement that 155 Bulgarian soldiers would take charge of the camp's overall security affairs for one year, beginning at the end of next March. He said the US will pay for the force's equipment and some expenses, while Bulgaria will pay the force's salary, noting that extending the force's mandate will require another parliamentary resolution. Previously, Bulgaria had an 850-member force serving in Iraq, but withdrew it at the end of December of 2005 at the expiry of the mandate granted to it by the Parliament. (I would like to know more about this refugee camp and where the Iraqis originally came from and why they are not going home. – Susan) Plane crashes in Iraq with Four Germans and Iraqi A small plane carrying at least four passengers, three of them German, crashed in mountainous northern Iraq on Thursday en route to Iraq from Azerbaijan, U.S. and Iraqi officials said on Friday. "I can confirm it was a civilian plane and that the plane crashed," a spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq said. Kameran Ahmad, the director of Sulaiymaniya airport, said aviation officials lost contact with the plane on Thursday when it was flying at 8,000 feet (2,438 metres) in northern Iraq. It was not immediately clear whether any of the passengers or the pilots had survived. Rumsfeld Almost Moved to Tears Over Turning Over Iraqi Oil On the day that the Bush Administration asked Congress for 72 billion dollars in the form of a supplemental request for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, foreign aid and anti terrorism efforts, Fox said that Donald Rumsfeld responded to lawmakers who were critical of how Iraq is fought and how the administration plan is moving forward for it's end plan there. Did we see what the critics concerns were? No. Did we see Rumsfeld's response? Of course. On Studio B with Shepard Smith, Bret Baier covered the segment on Rumsfeld's visit to Congress. As noted, no lawmakers remarks were included, but an emotional Donald Rumsfeld (with his fist beating on the table once again) was allowed these exuberant remarks. Donald Rumsfeld: Are we gonna end up with something that we stand back and look at and say, 'Gee, that's a pretty picture? ' No! It's gonna be an Iraqi picture! It's not gonna be an American picture! (Starts beating his fist on the table) But, it's gonna get done and, and, the idea of the alternative, of turning that country with that water, and that oil, over to terrorists, to Zarqawi type people that are out beheading people. (pause) I think that the thought of that is just fundementally unacceptable. Comments: Fox went for the dramatic, not offering up any of the questions that the lawmakers had but giving Rumsfeld full reign over the issue. I wish you all could have seen it, when Rumsfeld was talking about "of turning that country with that water and that oil...", I swear he almost had tears in his eyes, the thought of letting go of that oil -- it was just too much for him. As for pulling out the beheading remark again, last time I looked I thought I saw public beheadings going on in Saudi Arabia, but we're not too concerned about them now, are we? Missing From ABC’s WMD ‘Scoop’ On February 15, ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross delivered an exclusive report on World News Tonight and Nightline that purported to be a bombshell. ABC had obtained tape-recorded conversations from mid-1995 that seemed to show that Iraq had been concealing its weapons of mass destruction program. The tapes, according to Ross, "will only serve to fuel the continuing debate about Saddam's true intentions and whether he, in fact, did hide weapons of mass destruction." But ABC viewers were left in the dark about information that would undermine the tape's most important revelations. ABC emphasized the excerpts of a conversation between Saddam Hussein and his weapons chief (and son-in-law) Hussein Kamel that seem to bolster the idea that Iraq was hiding weapons from inspectors. As Ross reported on Nightline, "Saddam's son-in-law briefs Saddam on the Iraqi campaign of deceit aimed at fooling UN inspectors." Kamel is then heard telling Saddam Hussein, in ABC's translation: "We did not reveal all that we have. Not the type of weapons. Not the volume of the materials we imported. Not the volume of the production we told them about. Not the volume of news. None of this was correct."ABC provides little context for the exchange, but suggests that these admissions might provide new insight into the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq a decade later. In fact, what Kamel revealed about the extent of Iraq's weapons programs has been known for some time, and portions of his account were an integral part of the White House's case for war. Kamel defected from Iraq in 1995, and talked at great length with U.N. weapons inspectors and the CIA about Iraq's unconventional weapons programs. He revealed at that time that Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs had been more advanced than the Saddam Hussein regime had admitted to the inspectors. Kamel publicly revealed the concealment of WMD-related activities in an interview with CNN (9/21/95): "The order was to hide much of it from the start, and we hid a lot of that information. These were not individual acts of concealment, but were as a result of direct orders from the top." So the fact that Saddam Hussein was attempting to deceive the weapons inspectors, as in ABC's tape, is hardly news more than 10 years later.But ABC's story does not include what was arguably Kamel's more important revelation, which was that Iraq had destroyed its stocks of usable unconventional weapons. "Iraq does not possess any weapons of mass destruction," he told CNN in 1995. Rumsfeld Rejects War Statements by Murtha Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, in his first public faceoff with Rep. John P. Murtha since the Pennsylvania Democrat called for a quick U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, rejected yesterday the congressman's charge that the U.S. cannot win the war. At a hearing on the Pentagon budget before the House Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on defense, Mr. Murtha, the panel's top Democrat, renewed his November call for a pullout. "Where I disagree is fighting terrorism in Iraq," Mr. Murtha said. "I think that we're inciting terrorism, and that's my personal opinion. ... When you go in ... with the tactics we have to use to protect American lives, you're going to create enemies. And that's what we've done." "I just think that we need to withdraw, redeploy as quickly as possible, and then, in addition to that, we need to continue the fight on terrorism," he said. Mr. Murtha listed various polls that he said show that Iraqis want the U.S. out and approve of attacks on Americans. More than 2,000 U.S. service members have been killed in Iraq amid waves of violence that also have killed thousands of innocent Iraqis. Mr. Rumsfeld listened as Mr. Murtha leveled his pessimistic assessment and then heard a second round of attacks from Rep. David R. Obey, Wisconsin Democrat. The defense secretary then suspended his rehearsed opening statement and responded. "The idea that you should paint a picture and hang crepe over it, that everything's horrible in Iraq, is not true," Mr. Rumsfeld said, citing three elections last year that created an Iraqi constitution and parliament. (Mr. Rumsfeld: they are living in hell there. Go rent a place in Fallujah and see how things really are. – Susan) "Now, is it a pretty picture? Has it been done instantaneously? No. Is there a lot of tugging and hauling and politicking? You bet there is over there," he said. "And are we gong to end up with something that we stand back and look at it and say, 'Gee, that's a pretty picture?' No. It's going to be an Iraqi picture. It's not going to be an American picture. But it's going to get done." (What a jerk. – Susan) The Bush administration has admitted that its prewar planning failed to predict a foreign and homegrown insurgency. (I wonder when they will realize how much damage they have done to our country? – And that they have caused the rest of the world to hate us? - Susan) STILL CLUELESS AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: US Lags Behind al Qaeda in Information War – Rumsfeld The United States lags dangerously behind al Qaeda and other enemies in getting out information in the digital media age and must update its old-fashioned methods, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Friday. Modernization is crucial to winning the hearts and minds of Muslims worldwide who are bombarded with negative images of the West, Rumsfeld told the Council on Foreign Relations. (Somebody tell him that those folks live in reality, not some fantasy world inside Rumsfeld’s head. – Susan) The Pentagon chief said today's weapons of war included e-mail, Blackberries, instant messaging, digital cameras and Web logs, or blogs. (From “dead-enders”? – Susan) Rumsfeld lamented that vast media attention about U.S. abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq outweighed that given to the discovery of "Saddam Hussein's mass graves." (And they got way more attention that “Rumsfeld’s mass graves” in Fallujah also. – Susan) On the emergence of satellite television and other media not under Arab state control, he said, "While al Qaeda and extremist movements have utilized this forum for many years ... we in the government have barely even begun to compete in reaching their audiences." (Oh, we have reached their audience all right – you, Mr. Rumsfled, are their best recruitment tool. – Susan) Iraq Contractor Pleads Guilty to Fraud An executive has pleaded guilty to adding $1 million in fraudulent "war risk" surcharges for flying cargo into Baghdad under a U.S. military contract with a Halliburton Inc. subsidiary, authorities said on Friday. Christopher Cahill, 41, formerly a Dubai-based executive of logistics company EGL Inc. of Houston, may implicate others as part of a plea agreement reached on Thursday with federal prosecutors in Rock Island, Illinois, court papers showed. Cahill, 41, could face up to 10 years in prison and a $5 million fine at a May 26 sentencing. (I wish the torturers and murderers would be punished like that. – Susan) According to court papers, Cahill hatched his plan to add a 50 cent per kilogram surcharge on freight into Baghdad after the plane of competitor DHL Worldwide Express was hit by a missile and landed in flames. Cahill had heard DHL was seeking war risk insurance and arranged to have EGL's subcontractor write a phony letter declaring it was adding the surcharge. COMMENTARY OPINION: Alas It Was Only Beating and Kicking! One in fact does not know where to start from. Shall we begin with the notorious Abu Ghraib abuses and atrocities in which Iraqis were humiliated and tortured on grounds of suspicion and refusal of occupation? Perhaps one can start with the scores of murdered Iraqi doctors, scientists and academics whose murderers still walk the streets. Or the scores of mutilated bodies dumped at the sewage treatment plant in Rustamiya south-east of Baghdad every now and then. Some of these bodies are often mutilated beyond recognition. The secretive jail of Jadiriya in which prisoners were skinned could be a starting point. The tragedy is that following each atrocity there is talk of investigations and the need to bring the perpetrators to justice. That was said after the revelations of Jadiriya late last year. But nothing has happened. We may remember the bombing of Falluja which was tantamount to extermination. Nearly 36,000 houses were destroyed and the city was turned into a wasteland, sending at least 200,000 inhabitants into internal exile. The list of crimes, abuses and atrocities is too long to be recounted. We may remember the bombing of the sacred cemetery in the holy city of Najaf under the pretext that ‘terrorists’ were hiding there. And one cannot forget the daily victims of U.S. armor and vehicles as they ply Iraqi streets. Passengers in civilian cars are crashed to death or shot at with total impunity. What about the raids carried under the cover of darkness by what are said to be unidentified gunmen who leave the bodies of their victims in the middle of streets in densely populated quarters. In the face of these horrific atrocities, the beating and kicking of Iraqi youths by British soldiers looks like a joke. Iraqis would be the happiest in the world if they were only beaten and kicked. OPINION: Permanent Bases Point Toward Permanent War "To initiate a war of aggression is, therefore, not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes only in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." - Judgment of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, relating to "Count Two, the Crime of Aggression," as brought against Herman Goering, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and 14 other defendants.In Mr. Bush's "State 0f The Union" address, he claimed that "US forces will be drawn down as Iraqi forces stand up." However, this claim is flatly contradicted by the Pentagon's ongoing multibillion-dollar expenditures for the construction of 106 permanent bases - including six hi-tech "super-bases" - inside Iraq. Is there a reason why the USA's mainstream media won't report on those 106 bases, and why Congress won't debate the Pentagon's base-construction projects? The simplest answer is that the government-media complex has declared this subject taboo because it would reveal the USA's intention to militarily occupy Iraq for decades. Realistically, Mr. Bush's "draw-down" rhetoric is merely a propaganda ploy in anticipation of the 2006 mid-term election, and the withdrawal won't be implemented. In all likelihood, those hi-tech "super-bases" will serve another purpose, which is to launch and monitor his next illegal war of aggression against Iraq's oil-rich neighbor, IRAN. Of course, the Bush administration will reassure us, during its pre-war propaganda campaign, that their petro-state invasion is absolutely necessary, and isn't merely another "blood-for-oil" scenario through which their wealthy war-profiteering cronies will further enrich themselves at our expense (and some naive Americans will actually believe them).So where is this nation's foreign policy headed? In the short run, Mr. Bush is already attempting to expand his "wartime commander-in-chief powers" to despotic dimensions, so he can - among other things - autonomously order the commencement of a "might-makes-right" aggressive war against Iran, thus giving Republicans yet another "national security" cudgel to swing during the upcoming mid-term election. OPINION: How to “Win” in Iraq The president’s first condition for victory is one that will keep the U.S. engaged in Iraq for some time to come. It assumes the U.S. is viewed as a neutral player helping to maintain the peace and that Iraq can quickly succeed in developing and sustaining the tradition of “rule by and for the people.” Yet, the current violence and slide toward civil war are fueled, at least in part, by the perception among some Iraqis that the U.S. is an occupying power.Iraqis are trying to stop the expanding civil war through political negotiation, but the hard fact is that, among countries with civil wars that end through negotiation, more than half revert to combat within five years of the settlement. Precariously balanced on the edge of civil war, Iraq may take longer than “normal” to manifest progress toward sustainable democratic forms and practices. If so, then Bush has unilaterally committed the U.S. to an extended stay, measurable in a decade or more. The president’s second condition for victory involves a reciprocal commitment: security forces will protect innocent civilians from physical harm, the population will support the efforts of Iraqi security forces, and both will act in accordance with the rule of lawembodied in the Iraqi constitution and traditional practice. Given that the police during the Saddam era were either oppressors or ineffective, developing the context of mutual trust required for democracy to flourish will take time. And, while Iraqi security forces work to “win the hearts and minds” of other Iraqis, the power vacuum will have to be filled by some combination of foreign and Iraqi security personnel numbering as high as 520,000 individuals–-the approximate current authorized size of the entire U.S. active-duty Army. Like the president’s other two conditions, ensuring that terrorists will never find haven in the new Iraq or plan future attacks on the U.S. from Iraq is a fool’s errand. Should Iraq succeed in developing a strong, sustained tradition of democratic governance in which basic needs (clean water, electricity, waste removal, public sanitation, access to education and health services) are met, there is no guarantee that a few individuals might still remain hostile to the Iraqi state and, by extension, to the United States. The president refuses to acknowledge that the continued presence of U.S. military forces in Iraq is inhibiting Iraq’s progress toward a democracy fashioned from its culture, history, and mores. In so doing, he has mortgaged U.S. security to Iraqi “success” well into the future. OPINION: What Happened to My Country? My God! What has happened to my nation? My nation that no longer pays more than lip service to its Constitution and Bill of Rights, which have been a beacon to the world for over two centuries. My nation that unilaterally discards treaties that were the hope of a world of peace, guided by law and diplomacy. My nation that will wage a war of aggression against a far off nation that was no threat to it, but that has lots of oil. My nation that gives all of its wealth to the rich and is satisfied to leave its citizens to starve, homeless, unemployed and sickly. What happened to that Constitution that so wisely divided the government into three separate units, to provide a system of checks and balances against any one branch usurping power? How did we wind up with a President that refers to the Constitution that he swore to protect and defend as “just a goddamned piece of paper,” and a Congress that seems willing to rubber stamp any giveaway the President demands? How did we find ourselves with a Supreme Court that will set aside the Constitution in favor of unlimited presidential power for the duration? Now I live in an America I don’t dare leave for fear of being spat upon, shot, bombed or kidnapped. I am looked upon as a citizen of a rogue nation that has no concept or respect for any law except bullying and strength. I need a passport even to visit Canada, which was to be our sister nation with open borders forever. I must expect to be required to show my “papers” at any time, to any official. I must accept that the government can break into my house and rifle my belongings and papers any time it wishes on the thinnest of excuses and it is not even required to let me know it has violated my home and my privacy. I must accept the fact that the government can listen in to my private conversations, my phone, my e-mail, can probably read my snail mail if they wish and can put a gag order on anyone who has information on me so I may not even be made aware that I am being spied upon. George Orwell’s absolute dictatorship has crept in to my home and my life and thrown out my beloved Constitution and Bill of Rights. The difference between the United States, Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy is steadily and inexorably diminishing and the people are letting it happen while they remain paralyzed with fear. Fear incited by the gang that runs the White House and their cronies in the propaganda ministry that used to be our last bulwark against tyranny; our once free press. OPINION: Iraq and the Democratic Empire As all students today know, Iraq is the country that the US invaded with the attempt to convert the state and the people from enemy to friend. On the face of it, this sounds rather implausible, of course. Good fences make good neighbors. Friendship and peace are not usually the result of insults, sanctions, invasions, bombings, killings, puppet governments, censorship, economic controls, and occupations. If this generation learns anything from this period, that would be a good start. The ideology of war has infected our rulers. Mises explained it in his book Liberalism. This is an ideology against which rational argument does not work. If you say war leads to suffering, pain, and death, they will say: so be it. Instead, writes Mises, the warmongers claim that "it is through war and war alone that mankind is able to make progress. War is the father of all things, said a Greek philosopher, and thousands have repeated it after him. Man degenerates in time of peace. Only war awakens in him slumbering talents and powers and imbues him with sublime ideals. If war were to be abolished, mankind would decay into indolence and stagnation." I submit to you that this is precisely the ideology that reigns in such publications as National Review. This is the view propounded from the lecterns at Republican gatherings. Speaker after speaker at conservative conferences echoes this very view. I've heard it again and again in private conversations among diehard Republicans. This view that war is good for us is sheer fantasy, a dangerous and violent fit of utter irrationality. But it persists. It infects. It kills. PEACE ACTION: Take Action Now Urge your representative and senators to reject the president’s budget and craft a federal government spending plan that recognizes that more military spending will not bring the U.S. more security at home or abroad. Contact your members of Congress directly from FCNL's web site. We've provided a sample letter that you can edit and send to your representatives by clicking here. CASUALTY REPORTS Local Story: Iraq Tent Fire Destroys American Dream Local Story: Minnesota soldier killed in Iraq Local Story: Louisiana Marine killed in Iraq. Local Story: Scott County (TN) Marine killed in Iraq. Local Story: Roxbury family mourning re-enlisted GI killed in Iraq. Local Story: Fort Campbell soldier dies in Iraq. Local Story: Oklahoma soldier’s family given flag during service. Local Story: ‘No easy answers’ at funeral of 99th British soldier killed in Iraq. QUOTE OF THE DAY (Dedicated to YD and all the posters and readers of this site): “I was walking with my brother and he wondered what’s on my mind…. I said what I believed in my soul ain’t what I see with my eyes, and we can’t turn our backs this time. I AM A PATRIOT! AND I LOVE MY COUNTRY!” – Jackson Browne


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