Monday, April 10, 2006
DAILY WAR NEWS FOR MONDAY, April 10, 2006
Photo: Foreign fighters from the U.S. army of occupation search Iraqi citizens in Baghdad April 4, 2006. REUTERS/Ceerwan Aziz
Bring ‘em on: U.S. soldier killed by roadside bomb while on patrol in Tal Afar.
OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
Gunmen abduct two doctors as they left Yarmouk Hospital.
Parked car bomb explodes in Amariyah district, wounding four civilians.
Two policemen were killed and several wounded in clashes with gunmen at a checkpoint in Amariyah.
Drive-by shooters open fire on a group of construction workers in Shurta district, killing one and wounding another.
Body of an official of a Baghdad power plant found a day after his disappearance.
In the Mashtal district, gunmen enter a grocery store and kill owner.
Gunmen storm a home in the neighborhood of Dora and kill a 25-year-old man and his parents. Three corpses, each shot in the head, were found in the same neighborhood.
Iraqi employee of Agence France-Presse kidnapped in central Baghdad. No news of his fate.
Three civilians from the same family killed when gunmen attack them at their house in the Dora district.
Three civilians killed in clashes between Interior Ministry forces and “insurgents” on the main road of Falluja.
Body of Iranian woman shot in the head found in Baquba.
Three gunmen kill the mayor of Qurna and his wife in a drive-by shooting in Basra. Qurna is the headquarters of the Danish contingent in Iraq.
Roadside bombs and mortar shells in Mahmoudiya, wound at least four civilians.
Sunni Arab, Kurdish and secularist leaders emphatically rejected Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari staying on in his post: "We have sent a letter to our Shiite brothers explaining that our position remains the same -- that of rejecting Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari's candidacy," Thafer al-Ani, spokesman of the Sunni-led National Concord Front, told AFP.
Late Sunday, Iraq's Kurdish group in parliament also rejected Jaafari's candidature. "We have once again rejected Jaafari's candidacy," Kurdish lawmaker Mahmud Othman told AFP after a meeting between leaders of the Kurdish coalition in parliament and representatives of Jaafari's party.
On Monday, the secularist list of former premier Iyad Allawi also joined the Kurds and the Sunnis in rejecting Jaafari.
U.S. Troops Again Patrolling in Baghdad: American soldiers have again hit the streets of dangerous neighborhoods in western Baghdad that had been handed over to Iraqi forces. Earlier this year, areas of western Baghdad were testament to the U.S. strategy of handing over security responsibility. Iraqi soldiers manned checkpoints while American troops carefully kept their distance.
The shift in U.S. strategy is temporary, a result of sectarian attacks unleashed by the Feb. 22 bombing of a major Shiite shrine in Samarra, 60 miles north of the capital. Eventually, U.S. troops said they expected to return to support missions, leaving Iraqi troops in charge once again.
Report: Baghdad city with lowest quality of life in the world.
Iraqis arrested by occupation forces have disappeared into a 'black hole', Tony Blair's personal envoy on human rights has warned. Ann Clwyd said if the scandal of the missing prisoners had been taken more seriously from the start by the US, it could have helped prevent the abuse of detainees in their jails.
In an interview with The Observer, the Labour MP said she was 'very unhappy' at the rising numbers still detained - and called on the Iraqi government to publish a report on claims that inmates were tortured by Iraqi jailers. Clwyd, appointed after decades of campaigning against Saddam Hussein's regime, reports directly to the Prime Minister and has until now rarely discussed her work.
She has spoken out amid growing criticism of Britain's failure to stop abuses in Iraq, arguing that suggestions Blair was unwilling to confront the US administration on such issues were wrong: 'I know, in conversations he has with the people of influence in the US, he doesn't pull his punches. He pushes them, sometimes with direct results.'
Clwyd appears to suspect incompetence, not malice, in the disappearances. Detainees' names were noted by US officials 'sometimes in Arabic, sometimes not, sometimes in bad Arabic', making matching them with the missing difficult.
None the less, she argued, the Americans should have taken the cases more seriously: 'If they had followed it up harder at the time I think it might have avoided some of the allegations - and proof - of abuse that took place.'
US playing up Zarqawi's role in Iraq: report: [so what else is new? See below "Make Your Own 'Yet another Zarqawi lieutenant captured' Report"] The US military is exaggerating the role of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, possibly to help tie the war to the group blamed for the September 11, 2001 attacks, The Washington Post reported.
Citing internal military documents and unnamed officers, the Post said Zarqawi's profile had been raised in a way that some military intelligence officials believe may have overstated his importance. The documents state that the US propaganda campaign aims to turn Iraqis against Zarqawi, a Jordanian, by playing on their perceived dislike of foreigners, the report said.
For the past two years, US military leaders have been using Iraqi media and other outlets in Baghdad to publicize Zarqawi's role in the insurgency. But the documents explicitly list the "US Home Audience" as one of the targets of a broader propaganda campaign, the paper said.
Ramadi "Insurgents" Develop Clever Tactics: On an eerie, battle-scarred street in this blown-out urban war zone, a mannequin with painted black hair stares silently at U.S. Marines hunkered down in sandbagged observation posts atop buildings a few blocks away. It's the latest insurgent ruse in an evolving war pitting the world's most powerful military against guerrilla fighters using their most effective weapon: ingenuity.
Insurgents in Ramadi recently have flown kites over U.S. troops to align mortar-fire, released pigeons to give away U.S. troop movements and staged attacks at fake funeral processions complete with rocket-stuffed coffins, U.S. forces deployed here say. "They're crafty, I'll give 'em that," said Marine Cpl. John Strobridge, 20, of Orlando, Fla., as his Humvee passed the mannequin along one of the most bomb-infested roads in town, a street Americans call Route Michigan. "Gun it! Gun it!" he screamed to his driver as the vehicle crossed a frequently targeted intersection.
The mannequin first popped up a few weeks ago in the courtyard of a secondary school near a collapsed building. The simple figure appears to be made of wood, with a white shirt and blue plants painted on. Two white arms hang down, carrying a briefcase. "We kind of laugh at it. We don't know why they do it," Strobridge said. "But I think the idea is, we get used to looking at the mannequin, and then one day there's a real person standing there" — with an AK-47 or a rocket launcher.
Marines said there's no point stopping to take it down. The road is too dangerous, and such bizarre sites often are booby-trapped. At the bottom of a light pole beside another mannequin elsewhere in the city, the sleeve of an American MRE military ration package was found concealing a bomb.
"The enemy will always try different things to try get us to bite on. They're very smart," Capt. Andrew Del Gaudio, 30, commander of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, said during an interview at Government Center, a sandbagged fortress topped with camouflage netting that serves as headquarters to the provincial government. "They sit there and watch us, observe us for weeks at a time, see how we operate and how we react to things," said Del Gaudio, of Mt. Laurel, N.J. "Then they try to place obstacles in our path."
Sometimes insurgents will shine flashlights at U.S. guard posts, trying to blind Marines' night-vision goggles. Guerrillas have been seen crawling slowly on their bellies, trying to lay bombs. One was spotted trying to move unseen beside a cow by a device that produces an image from body heat.
U.S. forces regularly sweep the roads for bombs, and insurgents sometimes try to remove them, then replace them. Another tactic: dropping a harmless piece of trash by the roadside one day, planting explosives in it the next, then arming it later and triggering it from blocks away with a cordless telephone.
Marine and Army officials said guerrilla fighters also fly kites that signal to other fighters where U.S. soldiers are, to help them direct their fire, and Del Gaudio said insurgents have released flocks of pigeons into the air as an American or Iraqi patrol goes by so that other fighters know where U.S. forces are.
Report finds U.S. shooting of Reuters soundman unlawful: U.S. soldiers who shot dead a Reuters television soundman in Iraq last year breached their rules of engagement and the killing was "unlawful", an independent investigation commissioned by Reuters has found. Waleed Khaled died and cameraman Haider Kadhem was wounded on Aug. 28 when the troops fired on their car in Baghdad as the two Iraqis covered the aftermath of an attack on policemen.
An investigation by the Army unit involved found that its soldiers had acted within rules of engagement that allow them to fire if they feel under threat. But The Risk Advisory Group (TRAG), a risk management consultancy asked by Reuters to examine the incident, said the use of force was neither proportionate nor justified. It said the Army inquiry conclusions were not supported by the evidence -- including the testimony of the soldiers themselves -- and expressed incomprehension that crucial footage shot by Kadhem had somehow been lost by the military.
"We conclude, based on the independent evidence and the evidence of Haider Kadhem, that no hostile act took place and no act could have been legitimately mistaken as indicating hostile intent," the TRAG report said. "The engagement was therefore in breach of U.S. Rules of Engagement and, in our opinion, on the current evidence was prima facie unlawful."
Trying to get the general to talk: One day, the key to the solution [“cracking the insurgency”; these events occurred in the fall of 2003] appeared on [Chief Warrant Officer Lewis] Welshofer’s doorstep: an Iraqi major general with close links to Saddam. His name was Abid Hamed Mowhoush.
Welshofer says he thought Mowhoush might know where Saddam was hiding and also help him understand how the insurgency was organized and financed.
Welshofer questioned Mowhoush, didn’t lay a hand on him, and got nothing out of him. So he turned up the heat.
"I put him on his knees and I used the facial slap," recalls Welshofer.
How did the general react?
"I sent a very clear signal," says Welshofer. "And he received it in a very clear manner. His complete demeanor changed at that point. He understood that this was not just some friendly conversation anymore, and that we meant business."
But the general insisted he knew nothing about Saddam or the insurgency — so after three days of fruitless interrogation and sleep deprivation, Welshofer got creative [disgusting writing].
He remembered that years before, in an approved training exercise, he helped stuff American soldiers into oil drums to induce claustrophobia and panic. The idea was to teach our soldiers for what could happen if they were captured. In Iraq, Welshofer did much the same thing, this time, with a sleeping bag.
Asked to explain how the sleeping bag was used on Mowhoush, Welshofer said, "Take the sleeping bag and he’s standing up. And you take the bag and you kind of put it down upside down, so that his head ends up where the feet normally would be."
Welshofer explained the bag came down over the general's head, and was open at the bottom and open at the back.
Mowhoush weighed more than 250 pounds. He was 56 years old and not in good shape. Welshofer took an electrical cord, wrapped it around Mowhoush’s middle to hold the bag in place, and put Mowhoush on his stomach. Then he straddled him.
"The idea is you are putting him in a close confinement. You want to maximize the idea of him not being able to move," says Welshofer.
But when Mowhoush didn’t give him the answers he was looking for, Welshofer says he put his hand over his mouth, while the general was in the sleeping bag.
"Over his mouth and nose?" [CBS News correspondent Scott] Pelley asked.
"No, over his mouth," Welshofer replied. "And he continues to talk underneath my hand. He continues to — you know — 'Wallah, wallah,' you know, 'I’m not who you think I am,' things like that."
After about 30 minutes, Welshofer decided to give up trying to get the general to talk. He removed the bag.
"The general had a smile on his face. An honest-to-God grin on his face. So I’m thinking he’s messing with me. So, I grabbed a little bit of water and sprinkled it on the general’s face, because he was not responding to any questions, any type of conversation at all. I saw that the water pooled in his mouth, and it was at that point that I realized there was a problem here. The general’s dead," Welshofer recalls.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Iraq is Not in Civil War - Iraq is Under Occupation: Opponents of the war must be sensitive to what it means to say Iraq is in civil war. It means that Iraqis are an enemy to themselves, not the occupational forces. Until recently, every time the possibility of civil war in Iraq has come up it has never been in conjunction with a discussion about an American withdrawal, but rather as a reason for the Americans to remain. So long as we describe Iraq in terms of civil war we miss the more fundamental point that Iraq is under an illegal occupation. The civil war premise can only elicit two possible political outcomes: First, the premise asserts that the Iraqis are enemies of one another, thus the US occupation must continue to keep the peace. This absurd suggestion not only fails to acknowledge how we arrived at the current level of violence but also actually absolves the Bush administration of its heinous crime of invading Iraq in the first place. The occupation is presented as more of a peace keeping mission that what it actually was, a blatant act of greed and destruction. The other political outcome is to suggest that Iraq should ultimately be broken up, an option that has persisted beneath the surface of American policy and also seeks to satisfy imperial ambitions. Dividing Iraq into three countries helps eliminate a potentially independent Arab-Muslim state and, I would argue, the most important such state, as greater economic independence in the Middle East and North Africa could actually develop around it.
Iraq is not in civil war; Iraq is under occupation. Some parties have acquiesced in American dominance and cooperated with the American authorities in an effort to gain power, others have not and have violently opposed Iraqis who have. What there is in Iraq is a political spectrum where at one hand there are those adamantly opposed to the occupation and at the other those who support it, a tension that becomes more entrenched the longer troops remain. With the increased emphasis on a "civil war" in Iraq the narrative is taking a momentous turn and casting a shadow on the continued presence of hundreds of thousands of occupying troops; meanwhile casting greater light on the supposed tensions within Iraqi society. Equally shaded by the new narrative of civil war are the ideologues and politicians, lifted to power by the US, who have been imposing a sectarian framework on the country from above since the beginning. The dichotomy between continued occupation and civil war leaves the anti-war movement speechless as neither alternative is desirable. It must be remembered, however, that this dichotomy is as much a fiction as the many others that have sought to justify the American occupation. It must be remembered that the root of current developments in Iraq is the illegal invasion and occupation of the country; the occupation must be eradicated if one sincerely hopes to keep the peace in Iraq.
An Inventory: Better Off Under Saddam: Saddam Hussein is bad man. As a 22 year old he worked with the CIA on a botched effort to assassinate Iraqi President Abd al-Karim Qasim. The CIA and Egyptian intelligence got him out of Iraq and to Lebanon, where the CIA paid for his Beirut apartment, and then to Cairo. In 1963, under the new government headed by President 'Abd as-Salam 'Arif, he was placed in charge of the interrogation, torture and execution of communists whose names the CIA happily provided the new regime. He rose in the Baathist party ranks, and although jailed between 1964 and 1966, grabbed power in 1979. The Reagan administration cozied up to him after he attacked Iran; Donald Rumsfeld met with him twice and provided his regime with invaluable intelligence abetting his aggressive war on Iran in the '80s, which took a million lives. A bad man and bad regime. The propaganda of the occupiers requires that we believe things have improved since his fall. But the evidence suggests otherwise.
Women were better off under bad Saddam, one-time U.S. ally.
According to Houzan Mahmoud from the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, "Under the previous dictator[ial] regime, the basic rights for women were enshrined in the constitution. Women could go out to work, university, and get married or divorced in civil courts. But at the moment women have lost almost all their rights and are being pushed back into the corner of their house."
Islamists are imposing the traditional Islamic dress code on women, and the general climate of lawlessness causes many women to adopt it for self-protection. "Dalal Jabbar, 19, a resident of Sadr City, a poor Shiite Muslim neighborhood in Baghdad, said Iraqi women are more afraid today than ever before. 'There is no law to rule the country,' she said. 'I see the scarves as the best way to protect ourselves in Iraq now. When I walk in the street, I know I'll have no trouble, because men prefer to look at others without a scarf, more than me.'"
According to Simon Calwell of The Times, "in the Shia-dominated south of the country[a]ll women, including Christians---who under Saddam could wear the latest fashions and make-up, and go to work---are under pressure to wear the hijab."
Christians were better off under bad Saddam, one-time U.S. ally.
Churches have been bombed by Islamists, priests have been abducted for ransom, liquor shops owned by Christians have been targeted.
Baathist Iraq was a basically secular state. The current Iraqi constitution composed under occupation declares, "Islam is the official religion of the state," "a source of legislation," and "No law that contradicts the universally agreed tenets of Islam" may be enacted. Thousands of families have fled across the border to secular, Baathist Syria---another country targeted by the U.S. for regime change.
Gays were better off under bad Saddam, one-time U.S. ally.
According to Ali Hili, a gay Iraqi man recently interviewed by Amy Goodman on MPR's Democracy Now! Program, "Iraq, at the time of Saddam, was---I mean, I'm talking about as a gay Iraqi---it was not as bad as we can see now... There [were] no homophobic attitudes toward gay and lesbians. Most of them[were] welcomed in the community and the society It's a very dark age for gays and lesbians and transsexuals and bisexuals in Iraq right now. And the fact that Iraq has been shifted from a secular state into a religious state was completely, completely horrific. We were very modern. We were very, very Western culturalized -- Iraq -- comparing to the rest of the Middle East. Why it's been shifted to this Islamic dark ages country? [Saddam was] the worst thing that ever happened to Iraq, maybe, until we saw these religious mullahs who were brought to the government to lead this country. We were much better off in the Saddam time, although he [was] a tyrant."
Intellectuals were better off under bad Saddam, one-time U.S. ally.
The Times Higher Education Supplement noted in September 2004 "a widespread feeling among the Iraqi academics that they are witnessing a deliberate attempt to destroy intellectual life in Iraq." According to the Monitoring Net for Human Rights in Iraq, over 1,000 Iraqi academics and scientists had been shot to death between the beginning of the U.S.-led invasion and late 2005.
According to Dr. Saad Jawad, a prominent political scientist at Baghdad University, " because of the chaos, the systematized assassinations of Iraqi intellectuals have gone largely unnoticed in the outside world. Iraq is being drained of its most able thinkers, thus an important component to any true Iraqi independence is being eliminated."
People in general were better off under bad Saddam, one-time U.S. ally.
According to John Pace, former director of the human rights office of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, "Under Saddam, if you agreed to forgo your basic right to freedom of expression and thought, you were physically more or less OK. But now, no. Here, you have a primitive, chaotic situation where anybody can do anything they want to anyone." Under Saddam the scale of abuse was "daunting," but now, "It extends over a much wider section of the population than it did under Saddam."
Iraq: Spreading the "Good News": Like Diogenes looking for an honest man, the right wing continues its search for “good news” in Iraq. Howard Kaloogian, a Republican running to fill the seat vacated so ignominiously by Randy “Duke” Cunningham, recently threw his good news into the pot: a street-level photograph of Baghdad with a functioning market, a man and a woman walking hand in hand, no hint of violence on the horizon. What it was supposed to prove, I can’t imagine; one could easily have found photographs of functioning markets in Sarajevo, Beirut, or Saigon at the height of their problems. In any case, it turns out that the photograph was not of Baghdad at all but of Istanbul, Turkey, a city not exactly in the grip of civil war. Kaloogian claims it was all a big mixup and quickly replaced the photo with one of Baghdad – taken from a high-up hotel room with a telephoto lens.
It’s rather an odd conceit, that at a time when bound and sometimes beheaded bodies are showing up every day in the streets in large number, the media should really be going on staged photo-ops with Marines who have just finished painting a school. It’s also predicated on two rather odd ideas, that good news for Iraqis is necessarily good news for Americans and that good news for Iraqis somehow redounds to the credit of the U.S. occupation.
Some of the good news for the U.S. is definitely not so good for Iraqis. Ra’ad Hamza of the Iraqi Ministry of Trade tells us Iraqis are finally being weaned off socialism. The monthly food ration was recently sharply cut; it now provides four basic items, as opposed to twelve under Saddam. The price of lentils, formerly included in the ration but now not included, has quadrupled since 2002. A Baghdad University economist says the price of vegetables and grains doubled in January and is steadily increasing. The food ration budget has been cut by 25%, part of the austerity measures being pushed by the U.S., directly and through the IMF. But, reassures Hamza, “we'll continue to provide the population with essential items at least until the end of the current year.”
The price of gasoline, similarly, has already increased by a factor of 6.5 and will have increased by a factor of 10 before it’s done – another legacy of the IMF standby arrangement negotiated last December.
Cutting and running in Baghdad: There are three points to make about the current US scramble to put Humpty Dumpty back together again in Baghdad.
First, it is by no means certain that the United States can force the corrupt politicians of Iraq's various parties - Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurd - to paper over their differences and announce the government of national unity that Khalilzad wants. The full-court press by the Americans is showing signs of having an effect, and Jaafari will eventually probably accede to US pressure and step down. But whoever takes over, the government of Iraq will remain weak, divided and isolated inside Baghdad's well-fortified Green Zone. It is and, until the US withdrawal from Iraq, will remain a collection of charlatans and quislings, leavened with separatist warlords such as the Barzanis and Talabanis of Kurdistan and Abdel Aziz al-Hakim of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).
What still holds them all together, and remains the only glue preventing Iraq from splitting into three separate states, is the self-interested greed of the warlords who have been installed by the US forces. None of them want to kill the golden goose that allows them to cash in on billions of dollars in Iraqi oil revenues and US aid. Increasingly, however, that glue is losing its adhesive power. Iraq is succumbing to centrifugal pressures as more and more Iraqis identify with sectarian and ethnic affiliations. Under these circumstances, it is highly unlikely that even a new Iraqi government including Sunnis could put a halt to the civil war.
Second, the imperial treatment of Jaafari by the ambassador has shocked and stunned Iraqis, opponents and supporters alike. His public humiliation has been a blatant exercise of sheer US muscle, and it happened on the front pages of Iraq's newspapers. It makes a mockery of Bush's alleged commitment to democracy. Paradoxically, since Jaafari - whose alliance with rebel cleric and warlord Muqtada al-Sadr remains strong - can now claim to have resisted US pressure, it will ultimately strengthen his political standing, as any Iraqi politician who opposes the United States becomes instantly popular. By the same token, whoever might now accept the job of prime minister, as Jaafari's replacement, will take office under the shadow of the US occupation that installed him, giving that new leader zero credibility. Power in Iraq comes not from acquiescing to US might, but from resisting it.
Third, there is virtually no one in the ranks of the Shi'ite religious bloc who is any better than Jaafari. The leading replacement candidate from the Shi'ite alliance is Adel Abdel Mahdi, a chieftain of SCIRI with close ties to Iran's intelligence service, who is an apologist for the Shi'ite militias and their death squads. During a recent visit to Washington, when I asked him about reports of Shi'ite killings, he justified death-squad activities as merely a response to killings by Sunni "terrorists". He has also repeatedly demanded that Iraq's Shi'ite-led police units be unleashed against the Sunnis, and of course the very center of the Shi'ite death-squad operations is the Interior Ministry, led by a SCIRI colleague. For reasons that are unclear, the United States seems to support Mahdi over Jaafari, perhaps because SCIRI is seen as an opponent of Sadr's Mahdi Army. Rather hilariously, the New York Times reports that Bush administration officials prefer to overlook Mahdi's many years in Iran and instead view him as a "Western-educated proponent of free-market economics".
In fact, the United States is now facing two robust insurgencies in Iraq: a Sunni-led resistance of Ba'athists and army veterans and a growing Shi'ite-led, Iranian-linked resistance. The former is not weakening, blowing up and shooting down Americans at a steady pace, with 13 US troops killed in the first three days of April. The latter, however, is potentially more deadly, because it has the ability to mobilize so many among the country's 60% Shi'ite majority, and because it has the support of Iran. Parts of the Shi'ite majority have already gravitated into outright resistance to the US occupation, including Sadr's Mahdi Army.
The US administration is like the proverbial kid with a hand stuck in the cookie jar, grabbing a fistful of goodies. To get out of Iraq, Bush would have to let go of Iraq's goodies. In this case, that means letting go of Iraq's oil, and letting go of the dream that Iraq can become the anchor for a long-term US military and economic presence in the Persian Gulf region. To do so would mean a humiliating public admission of defeat - defeat for the idea of Americanizing Iraq, defeat for America's hope of establishing hegemony in the Gulf, and defeat for the neo-conservatives' determination to use military "shock and awe" tactics to intimidate potential regional rivals and opponents around the world. All of that would be gone - and in the most public way possible.
Which brings us to former CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht, currently a fellow at the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute. In 2002-03, Gerecht was among the loudest proponents of giving the Arabs the old shock-and-awe treatment, arguing that Iraqis, Arabs and Middle Easterners in general only understand the language of force. Writing in the Wall Street Journal this April 3, Gerecht warns bluntly that for the United States to succeed in Iraq might require far more bloody-minded tactics than have been utilized thus far. First, Gerecht notes with satisfaction that many Sunnis have been frightened and intimidated by Shi'ite militias, adding, "Sunni and Kurdish fear of Shi'ite power ... is politically overdue and healthy for all concerned." And then he gets to the heart of the matter:
The Bush administration would be wise not to postpone any longer what it should have already undertaken - securing Baghdad ... Pacifying Baghdad will be politically convulsive and provide horrific film footage and skyrocketing body counts. But Iraq cannot heal itself so long as Baghdad remains a deadly place.Does Gerecht's proposal foreshadow a new effort, a last push, by neo-conservatives to urge the administration to "win" the war in Iraq by overwhelming force, by sending yet more US forces to engage in yet more fruitless shock-and-awe fantasies? Do Khalilzad's recent get-tough-on-Iran remarks foreshadow a neo-conservative effort to expand the losing war in Iraq into Iran itself, while casting blame on Iran for the US failure to secure or pacify Iraq? Can the United States persist in Iraq fighting not one, but two growing resistance movements? Or is it time to cut its losses? Time to cut and run?
Visitor From Iraq Surprised U.S. Politicians Do Not "Do What The People Want": Dr. Rashad Zidan: "I was astonished to find that the majority Americans don't agree with Bush's war and I am pleased to tell my fellow Iraqis about the many Americans I met who are struggling to stop the war and put an end to the occupation.
"We Iraqis believe that in a democracy, such as in the US, the politicians do what the people want, so most of us believed that the majority of Americans want to occupation to continue.
"I was surprised to find that in the US the politicians are not listening to the people. This is not the kind of democracy Iraqis want to see in Iraq."
Make Your Own "Yet another Zarqawi lieutenant captured" Report:
[top | important | most wanted | close | key] al-Zarqawi [aide | lieutenant | associate | "cell prince" | figure] [captured | arrested]
(some date) (some place in Iraq)
[Iraqi | US | US and Iraqi] forces have [nabbed | captured | arrested] [a | one | two] [senior | middle] [figure | operations chief | terrorist operative] of [Jordanian | al-Qaeda-linked | Iraq's most wanted] terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi.
(arabic name), also know as (other arabic name), was [detained | picked up] on (some date) during an [Iraqi police | US military | US and Iraqi] [raid | road block | operation] in (some place in Iraq).
[spokesman | US General | Iraqi minister] said ["major catch" | "significant impact" | "big step forward"].
Bush says attack against Tehran is "wild speculation;" Straw calls it “completely nuts”: "I know we're here in Washington (where) prevention means force," Bush said during an appearance at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. "It doesn't mean force necessarily. In this case it means diplomacy."
Bush and other administration officials have said repeatedly that the military option is on the table, and White House officials acknowledge "normal" military planning is under way. Several reports published over the weekend said the administration was studying options for military strikes, and an account in The New Yorker magazine raised the possibility of using nuclear bombs against Iran's underground nuclear sites.
Bush did not directly respond to that report but said, "What you're reading is just wild speculation."
The White House sought Monday to minimize new speculation about a possible military strike against Iran while acknowledging that the Pentagon is developing contingency plans to deal with Tehran's nuclear ambitions. The Pentagon has refused to describe its planning further.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan refused to confirm or deny The New Yorker report. "Those who are seeking to draw broad conclusions based on normal military contingency planning are misinformed or not knowledgeable about the administration's thinking," he said.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, in an interview Sunday with the British Broadcasting Corp., called the idea of a nuclear strike "completely nuts."
Straw said Britain would not launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran and he was as "certain as he could be" that neither would the U.S. He said he has a high suspicion that Iran is developing a civil nuclear capability that, in turn, could be used for nuclear weapons, but he said there is "no smoking gun" to prove it and rationalize abandoning the plodding diplomatic process.
"The reason why we're opposed to military action is because it's an infinitely worse option and there's no justification for it," Straw said.
Quote of the day: “Power in Iraq comes not from acquiescing to US might, but from resisting it." --- Richard Dreyfuss, Cutting and running in Baghdad