Sunday, April 02, 2006


Undated Worldnews.com photo archive image, depicting the aftermath of a car bombing near the Green Zone. Bring 'em on: Two Multi-National Division-Baghdad soldiers killed by roadside bomb in central Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Marine dies of injuries suffered March 21 in al Anbar. Bring 'em on: Task Force Band of Brothers soldier dies of "non-battle related injuries" sustained during an "operation" in Kirkuk province March 30. Bring 'em on: CentCom confirms 2 crew members presumed dead in crash of AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter west of Yousifiah April 1; confirms crash presumed due to hostile fire. (Well, CentCom wants us to link to them.) OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS AFP Roundup includes the following:

Reuters has the following additional incidents: The AP also reports that gunmen assassinated a Sunni Arab sheik, Abdul-Minaam Awad, in his village of Zobaa 40 miles west of Baghdad, a Sunni clerical association announced.

AND, THE WOUNDED TROOPS Thanks to a contributor who wishes to remain anonymous for the roundup. I think this is important to do because CentCom doesn't generally announce incidents in which there aren't any prompt deaths, and the national news media don't cover them. You have to do a local news roundup like this to get a sense of the carnage among coalition troops. And yes, I know the carnage among Iraqis is far worse but we need to acknowledge this terrible cost as well. The injuries reported happened anywhere from a couple of days ago to a year ago. Some of these stories report on private contributions or fundraisers to assist the injured and their families -- that should not be necessary. Sgt. Michael Buyas of Chelan County, lost both legs to a bomb. Marine Cpl. Jared Smith of Ravenna Michigan injured for third time. Suffers facial burns from IED. Others in his 10-man vehicle severely injured but his mother has no information about them. 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Kyle Anderson of Inner Grove Heighs Minnesota suffered severe brain injuries. Cannot talk, but has begun walking with a cane and writing with his left hand. who is right-handed, cannot talk but recently has begun writing with his left hand and walking with a cane. Westmoreland, PA Army Spc. James Stuck lost leg just below the knee Lance Cpl. Joel Klobnak of Norwalk, Iowa, has gun shell explode in his lap, loses left leg. Army sniper Sgt. Brent Bretz of San Antonio severely injured by IED: suffered severe head trauma, a ruptured spleen, a blown-out left elbow, collapsed lungs, fractured face bones, nerve damage that left him deaf in one ear, second-degree burns on half his body, and the loss of both legs. Ceres, CA soldier Jose M. Pacheco has shattered leg, shrapnel wounds, burns from IED. Staff Staff Sgt. Bill Ruch of Mankato, MN shot in neck. San Antonio Senior Airman Daniel Acosta lost his left arm, severe wounds to both legs. Army Sergeant Peter Engle of Oval, PA is in a coma, severe injuries to both legs. Two companions died in the attack. Army National Guard Sgt. Michael S. Bennett of Brady Township, PA, has skull shattered by bullet. Navy Reserve combat medic Patrick Kocher of Oak Creek, WI, shot in the right chest and right shoulder. Still saved two marines with only his left arm. U.S. Army Pfc. Danny Perry of Gilroy, CA, hit by RPG. Currently at Walter Reed Hospital Marine Cpl. Dustin Howell of Wayland, Michigan blinded by roadside bomb. This story also reports on Army Sgt. Gabriel Garriga, of Ashton, Ill., who was left with second- and third-degree burns over much of his body when the vehicle he was riding in burst into flames. Despite being given a 1 percent chance of survival by his doctors, he has since regained the ability to breathe, sit up and walk; Army Pfc. Tristan Wyatt, of Washington, D.C., who lost his right leg to an armor-piercing rocket, that also took the right leg of Army Sgt. Michael Meinen, of Alexandria, Va. Chicago Marine Matt Zbiec takes shrapnel in hands, arms, face and legs. Has permament damage to hands. First Sergeant Russell Anderson of Norton, MA, disabled by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS AND OTHER NEWS Rice and Straw make surprise visit to Iraq, to lecture Iraqis on forming a government, as cracks appear in the Shiite block over al Jafaari's candidacy for PM. According to this AFP story, "Leaders of four of the seven parties in the alliance have expressed their reservations over Jaafari's candidacy and have given him the next few days to placate his opposition or they will remove their support." Jill Carroll issues public statement repudiating coerced videotape.

By Matt Moore, Associated Press RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Gone was the Islamic headscarf she had worn as a hostage in Iraq. Also gone were the descriptions of a benign captivity — one that involved no threats and no weapons. In Germany, far from the place where she had been held hostage for 82 days, Jill Carroll's statement was an angry disavowal of statements she had made during captivity and shortly after her release. "During my last night in captivity, my captors forced me to participate in a propaganda video. They told me I would be released if I cooperated. I was living in a threatening environment, under their control, and wanted to go home alive. So I agreed," she said in a statement read by her editor in Boston. "Things that I was forced to say while captive are now being taken by some as an accurate reflection of my personal views. They are not." In the video, posted by her captors on an Islamist Web site, Carroll spoke out against the U.S. military presence. But in her statement Saturday, she said the recording was made under threat. Her editor has said three men were pointing guns at her at the time. Carroll arrived in Germany on Saturday on a U.S. military transport plane on her way back to the United States and was expected in Boston today. In place of the Islamic headscarf she had worn in the videos and the full-length robe, she wore jeans and a gray sweater. snip In the statement, Carroll also disavowed an interview she gave to the party shortly after her release. She said the party had promised her the interview would not be aired "and broke their word. At any rate, fearing retribution from my captors, I did not speak freely. Out of fear, I said I wasn't threatened. In fact, I was threatened many times," she said. "Also, at least two false statements about me have been widely aired: One — that I refused to travel and cooperate with the U.S. military, and two — that I refused to discuss my captivity with U.S. officials. Again, neither statement is true." The remarks have drawn criticism from conservative bloggers and commentators, but the Monitor said "Carroll did what many hostage experts and past captives would have urged her to do: Give the men who held the power of life and death over her what they wanted."
Canadian peace activist Harmeet Sooden, now living in New Zealand, who was freed recently, believes a ransom was paid for his release. However, Canada and New Zealand both deny paying any ransom. Ethnic cleansing has displaced tens of thousands of Iraqis.
By New York Times News Service & Kirk Semple & Edward Wong Baghdad, Iraq — The war in Iraq has entered a bloodier phase, with the killings of Iraqi civilians rising significantly in daily sectarian violence while American casualties have steadily declined. The increased violence is spurring tens of thousands of Iraqis to flee from mixed Shiite-Sunni areas. The new pattern, detailed in casualty and migration statistics from the past six months and in interviews with American commanders and Iraqi officials, has led to further separation of Shiite and Sunni Arabs, moving the country toward a de facto partitioning along sectarian and ethnic lines — an outcome that the Bush administration has doggedly worked to avoid over the past three years. snip The White House says that little violence occurs in most of Iraq's 18 provinces. But those four or five provinces where the majority of the killings and migrations take place are Iraq's major population centers, generally mixed regions that include Baghdad, and contain much of the nation's infrastructure — crucial factors in Iraq's prospects for stability. The Iraqi public's reaction to the violence has been dramatic. Since the shrine bombing, 30,000 to 36,000 Iraqis have fled their homes because of sectarian violence or fear of reprisals, say officials at the International Organization for Migration, based in Geneva. The Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration estimated that at least 5,500 families have moved, with the biggest group being 1,250 families settling in the Shiite holy city of Najaf after leaving Baghdad and Sunni-dominated towns in central Iraq. The families are living with relatives or in abandoned buildings, and a crisis of food and water shortages is starting to build, officials say.
But you don't have to be displaced to be hungry in Iraq:
BAGHDAD, 2 April (IRIN) - The price of some staple food has increased in Iraq after the Ministry of Trade announced last week that several items provided by a monthly food-ration programme would be cancelled. This prompted shopkeepers to raise the cost of items which are being imported at a high price. "Many products offered for years by the monthly food-ration programme have been taken out," said Omar Abdel Kareem, an economist at Baghdad University. "Consequently, prices have risen". Some products have seen their prices increase by as much as 300 percent or more. In 2002, lentil beans were sold for about US $0.50 per kilogramme. Since then, the retail price has jumped to around US $2 per kilogramme. According to officials at the trade ministry, which is largely responsible for food distribution, the cut in rations is a direct result of a 25-percent, government-imposed reduction of the annual budget. In an effort to curtail state spending on subsidies and develop a free market economy, the national budget was reduced from US $4 billion to US $3 billion for the current fiscal year.
Then there's that minor problem of independent Kurdistan emboldening the Kurdish irredentist movement in Turkey.
New York (KurdishMedia.com) 30 March 2006: Yesterday in Amed (Diyarbakir), northern Kurdistan, 3 people were killed as thousands or protestors clashed with Turkish security forces. Following the funerals of a number of the 14 PKK fighters killed in recent clashes with Turkish soldiers, mourners clashed with police and took out their anger on government buildings and banks. Today the protests are continuing, and sources in Amed indicate that approximately 100,000 people are protesting today in all parts of the city, chanting slogans in favor of the PKK and imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan as well as slogans praising recent martyrs and calling for freedom. 3 additional deaths have been reported today, including the death of a 6 year old. Police and military presence is being increased in Amed. In response to the clashes, police from Mardin, Batman, Urfa, and Adiyaman have arrived in Amed. The number of armored vehicles deployed in the streets of the city has also increased.
COMMENTARY, ANALYSIS, AND THE EVOLVING ZEITGEIST British reporter in DC notices the "enduring" military bases in Iraq. What is news to me and apparently most British people is that, of the six "enduring" bases, two will not be run by the U.S. but, presumably, the UK. Although a British military spokesman denies any intention of remaining after "the democratically elected Iraqi government is confident that its security forces have the capability and capacity to counter terrorism and to preserve the security of democracy there," some are skeptical of when this promised day is likely to come. Excerpt:

Adam Price, Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East and a persistent critic of the Iraq war, said it would be "very, very worrying" if British troops were to be involved in a long-term deployment. "Certainly the mood music has all been about the withdrawal of troops," he said. "Now we are just starting to see the glimmers of what may be the real policy." Some analysts believe the desire to establish a long-term US military presence in Iraq was always one of the reasons behind the 2003 invasion. Joseph Gerson, a historian of American military bases, said: "The Bush administration's intention is to have a long-term military presence in the region ... For a number of years the US has sought to use a number of means to make sure it dominates in the Middle East ... The Bush administration sees Iraq as an unsinkable aircraft carrier for its troops and bases for years to come." Zoltan Grossman, a geographer at Evergreen State College in Washington, said: "After every US military intervention since 1990 the Pentagon has left behind clusters of new bases in areas where it never before had a foothold. The new string of bases stretch from Kosovo and adjacent Balkan states, to Iraq and other Persian Gulf states, into Afghanistan and other central Asian states ... The only two obstacles to a geographically contiguous US sphere of influence are Iran and Syria."
And while we're on the subject of the land of the bowler and bumbershoot, British Intelligence has warned Tony Blair that "the war in Iraq has made Britain the target of a terror campaign by Al-Qaeda that will last “for many years to come.” . . .The four-page memo, entitled International Terrorism: Impact of Iraq, contradicts Blair’s public assurances by concluding that the invasion of Iraq has fomented a jihad or holy war against Britain." Which has already started, of course. The Observer reports that "The first official recognition that the Iraq war motivated the four London suicide bombers has been made by the government in a major report into the 7 July attacks. Despite attempts by Downing Street to play down suggestions that the conflict has made Britain a target for terrorists, the Home Office inquiry into the deadliest terror attack on British soil has conceded that the bombers were inspired by UK foreign policy, principally the decision to invade Iraq." You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows: Former self-identified neocon and war booster Francis Fukuyama takes it all back in a new book. Well, not quite all. Excerpt:
In After the Neocons, Fukuyama, a political economist and pillar of the conservative American intellectual establishment, disavows the Bush administration and all its works. For practising neocons this is a big disappointment. Imagine Karl Marx returning from the grave in 1922 to suggest that Lenin had rather missed the point of what he had been trying to say. . . Fukuyama now distances himself from Bush's disastrous conclusion - based partly on his End of History theory - that the world would be safer if the advent of democracy in unstable places could be hurried along by overwhelming military force. This, he says, is strong-arming evolution. The unintended consequences mean it never works. He details why Bush was so wrong: the lack of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction; the non-connection between Baghdad and 9/11; the underestimate of hostility to US motives in the Middle East and Europe; the rubbish diplomacy. Much more interesting is Fukuyama's attempt to rescue The End of History by explaining how radical Islam does not constitute an ideological challenge to democracy of the type that he had earlier said would never emerge. It is tricky. Extreme Islamism looks superficially as if it has a better chance than either communism or fascism ever did. But, says Fukuyama, the real security threat to the West comes not from Islamic countries but from Muslims inside western societies: second- and third-generation immigrants who have failed to assimilate and suffer essentially the same alienation that drives aggrieved white people to become neo-Nazi skinheads.
You don't need a weatherman, part two: Tom Friedman's mustache blowing in the Winds of War. David Ingatius praises the work of international journalists in Iraq. (And indeed, this site could not exist without them.:
WASHINGTON - Thursday's release of American journalist Jill Carroll makes this a good moment to celebrate the work that reporters are doing every day in Iraq. They are taking huge personal risks to bring back the news - not "good news," as some supporters of the administration often seem to want, but the news. Anyone taking potshots at the "mainstream media" should read the description of what it's like to cover Baghdad that appears in the April/May issue of American Journalism Review. The story opens with a description of NPR's Deborah Amos dressed in Arab clothes, anxiously scanning the street for bombers and kidnappers as she heads for an interview in the protected Green Zone. And that's an easy assignment. Like most resident correspondents, NPR reporters such as Amos live and work in the "Red Zone" - meaning the real Iraq. These reporters are in daily contact, through their Iraqi staffs, with the nightmare the Iraqi people are experiencing. When their reporting contrasts with the more upbeat accounts coming out of the Green Zone, the reporters in the Red Zone generally have been right, and for a simple reason: They are closer to the story.
Wesley Clark accuses Bush administration of taking U.S. on a "path to nowhere" in national security, slams Iraq war. QUOTE OF THE DAYThe president has about two years left before he will have to brand whatever corrupt authoritarian regime emerges in Iraq as "a great victory." A man who lies us into a war will not hesitate to lie us out of one. Then Americans will have to face the costs. After all the thousands of America’s finest have been buried, after all those artificial limbs have been attached, all those mutilated faces reconstructed, all those blind given Seeing Eye dogs, all those mental cases put on drug regimens, all those billions of dollars added to the $8 trillion American debt, then comes the question, the important question everybody is ignoring right now: What will we have bought for this terrible price? Another corrupt dictatorship in a still-unstable Middle East. -- CHARLEY REESE, Columbia Daily Tribune


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