Sunday, August 27, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 27, 2006 US Marines inspect the parking lot of the state-owned Iraqi al-Sabah newspaper in Baghdad after a car bomb detonated by insurgents exploded. A string of attacks killed at least 16 people across Iraq in the latest challenge to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's attempts to bring peace to the bitterly divided country.(AFP/Wissam Alokaily) SECURITY INCIDENTS U.S. soldier killed by roadside bomb southeast of Baghdad late Saturday. Marine killed on Friday in Anbar is identified as Cpl. Jordan C. Pierson, 21, of Milford, Connecticut. Bomb in a minibus in central Baghdad kills 9, injures 16. Bomb in a marketplace in Baghdad northern suburb al-Khalis kills six, wounds more than 12. Car bomb attack on Iraqi government-run newspaper in Baghdad kills one, injures 30, according to one report, kills two, wounds 20 according to another, kills 2, wounds 25 according to AFP. Al-Sabah, or "The Morning," newspaper is part of the government-run Iraqi Media Net group, which includes Iraqiya Television channel. (Update: I'm not going to bother editing the above mess, but AP now gives the death toll as 3, wounded as 30. I'm leaving this as an indication of the confused reporting that often comes out of Iraq and the perils of relying on any one source. -- C) AFP also reports: 20 bodies found around Baghdad, shot in head and showing signs of torture. Reuters also reports: OTHER NEWS OF THE DAY Reuters asks U.S. to investigate slaying of a reporter one year ago. Excerpt:
By Alastair Macdonald BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Reuters news agency urged the U.S. military on Sunday to investigate the killing of one of its journalists by American troops in Baghdad a year ago. An independent inquiry commissioned by Reuters concluded that the soldiers' shooting of television soundman Waleed Khaled on August 28 last year appeared "unlawful". But the Pentagon has failed to respond to requests to review the local commander's ruling, which said the firing of shots at the car was "appropriate". In April, Reuters gave the U.S. Defence Department the report, which found the soldiers' own evidence did not support the commander's conclusion. The report also criticised the military for "losing" vital video footage of the incident shot by the Reuters cameraman who was Khaled's passenger. He was wounded and then arrested by troops. "The Defence Department has ignored the independent report which concluded that U.S. soldiers breached their rules of engagement and the shooting of Waleed was prima facie unlawful," said Michael Lawrence, Reuters Managing Editor for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
A few more scraps of information about the release of Sunni MP Taiseer Mashhadani. She says she was treated well, but suggests kidnappers had close connections to the Maliki government. Maliki claims violence is decreasing, offers no specific evidence. Reuters says he plans a cabinet reshuffle, citing the disloyalty of some ministers. Iraqi government says Abu Ghraib prison is now empty. Don't get too excited -- the prisoners have been moved to Camp Cropper and Camp Bucca -- they're still in U.S. custody. The occupation forces aren't saying, but they appear to be holding about 3,600 Iraqis. -- C. IN-DEPTH REPORTING AND ANALYSIS Autonomous Kurdistan may not bode well for the prospects of a balkanized Iraq. NYT's Edward Wong describes the looming tensions with Turkey and Iran. Excerpt:
As Iraq writhes in the grip of Sunni-versus-Shiite violence, a de facto partitioning is taking place. Parts of the country are coming to look more and more like Iraqi Kurdistan, with homogenous armed regions becoming the norm. But if Kurdistan increasingly portends the future shape of Iraq, it also signals the hazards inherent in a fracturing of the country. American and Iraqi officials agree that the greatest danger to a politically divided Iraq, or to an Iraq riven by civil war, is hostile intervention by the country’s neighbors. The resulting regional conflagration could remake the Middle East through mass bloodshed. Here in Kurdistan, interference by border nations is already happening more overtly than elsewhere in the country. More than a week ago, Iran lobbed artillery shells for several days at villages around Qandil Mountain in the remote north of Iraqi Kurdistan, killing at least two civilians, wounding four and driving scores from the area, said a senior politician, Mustafa Sayed Qadir. Iran has been shelling the area sporadically for months, he said. . . . Like Iran, Turkey has been increasing the pressure against Kurds who are pushing for self-governance. This month, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, warned Tariq al-Hashemi, the Iraqi vice president and a Sunni Arab, that the Iraqi government needed to take “satisfactory steps” against the Kurdistan Workers Party, a guerrilla group with hideouts in this region. Turkish officials have also warned Iraqi Kurdistan against seizing control of the oil city of Kirkuk. . . . “Both Turkey and Iran are not happy with what’s going on in Iraqi Kurdistan — having a special region, having a government, having a Parliament, and so on,” said Mahmoud Othman, a senior Kurdish member of the Iraqi Parliament. “That’s why they do those special operations, those bombings. It’s a blow against the Kurdish government in Kurdistan." "We have to be very careful, and we are very careful,” he added. The type of cross-border disputes occurring in Kurdistan could spread across Iraq should the country splinter. Some Shiite leaders are working to create a nine-province autonomous Shiite region in the south, one that would include the oil fields around Basra. If this were to happen in the context of a large-scale civil war, Saudi Arabia and Syria, countries with Sunni Arab majorities, could openly back Sunni militias in Iraq against the Iranian-supported Shiite fief. Yet whether Iraq’s neighbors like it or not, this country’s regions are heading toward greater autonomy, not less. . . .
Read in Full Andrew Bacevich still wants to rule the world, but at least he wants to do it intelligently. Here are some highlights from a complex essay that is worth reading, even if his unexamined neo-imperialist assumptions and supposed insights into the "Arab mind" can be more than annoying. -- C
EVER SINCE BRITAIN AND FRANCE overthrew Ottoman rule in World War I to create the modern Middle East, Western nations have relied on unquestioned military superiority to secure their position in the region. Between the world wars, European imperialists ruthlessly employed firepower to crush nationalist uprisings. After World War II, as the United States supplanted Europe, American military power underwrote the oil-for-protection bargain forged with Saudi Arabia and eventually made Washington the ultimate guarantor of regional stability. When Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had the temerity to challenge American primacy in 1990, the outcome served only to affirm US military preeminence. Meanwhile, Israel was subjecting its Arab neighbors to recurring military humiliations. The Israel Defense Forces improvised in 1948 became by the 1960s a seemingly invincible army. That Israel was itself a Western implant and that it relied increasingly on weapons with a ``Made in the USA" label seemed further proof of Western military superiority. . . . Today the tables are turning. Despite a massive American and Israeli technological edge, including nuclear arsenals, mounting evidence suggests that the age of Western military ascendancy is coming to an end. Muslim radicals have evolved an Islamist way of war that is as complex as it is cunning. As a consequence, in and around the Persian Gulf the military balance is shifting. The failures suffered by the United States in Iraq and by Israel in southern Lebanon may well signify a turning point in modern military history, comparable in significance to the development of blitzkrieg in the 1930s or of the atomic bomb a decade later. Although the full implications of this shift are not clear, they promise to be huge, calling into question basic strategic assumptions that have held sway in the United States and Israel. In Washington and Jerusalem alike, officials and commentators classify the activities of diverse groups like Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iraq's Sunni insurgents as ``terrorism." That label sells our adversaries short. Resistance, the term that these groups favor to describe their actions, is more accurate. Although the methods employed by radical Islamists include terrorism -- that is, violence directed against civilians for purposes of intimidation -- they do not rely on terrorism alone. . . . Today's resistance blends violence and nonviolence. It includes abductions and assassinations, subversion and insurgency. It entails attacks on infrastructure to produce economic paralysis, but also against military targets to induce exhaustion or provoke overreaction leading to the killing or abuse of civilians. But resistance also includes popular mobilization and protest, social services and legitimate political activity, propaganda designed for internal consumption and propaganda intended for foreign audiences. Resistance means Molotov cocktails and roadside bombs, but also implies distributing alms to the destitute and running for elective office. It is, in short, a sophisticated strategy that integrates political and military action. We should take care to avoid exaggerating what this strategy can accomplish. For the moment at least, the Islamist way of war does not pose an existential threat. Hamas and Hezbollah are not going to overrun the IDF and occupy Jerusalem anytime soon. As long as the United States remains vigilant in guarding its borders, the Islamist ability to penetrate North America will remain minimal. What the Islamist way of war does represent, however, is the ability to prevent conventional armies from achieving decisive results. Resistance is a strategy not of conquest but of denial. Wars undertaken with the expectation that they will be short and conclusive -- on the model of the Six Day War or Operation Desert Storm -- instead become open-ended and inchoate. Politically, the Islamist way of war is demonstrating that the West can no longer impose its will on the Middle East. . . .
Read in Full THE HOME FRONT New England Army Reserve medical hospital trains to go to war. The Globe's Colin Nickerson describes 50-year-old nurses learning how to throw grenades, fire machine guns, and march in full combat gear. Excerpt:
They are full of fierce spirit: hurling practice grenades, slogging through swamp in full combat kit, and howling ``Hooah!" -- the Army's all-purpose affirmative and unofficial battle cry -- on every occasion that warrants and many that don't. They are fully aware of the contradictions. ``We're not war fighters, we're healers," said Lieutenant Colonel Michael Nott, 51, a registered nurse from Portsmouth, R.I., as he sorted through catheters, ultra-absorbent bandages, and other life saving supplies. ``We're not about inflicting violence. But where we're going, we at least need to know how." The 399th Combat Support Hospital -- a Massachusetts-based Army Reserve unit of about 470 officers and enlisted personnel, three-quarters of them surgeons, nurses, paramedics, and lab technicians -- is headed ``down range," as the training sergeants say. To Iraq. These professionals, many on the cusp of middle age or well beyond, are bound for a year in the heart of a mercurial war that has no clearly defined fighting lines and where most American casualties are caused by powerful improvised explosives or by fanatics outfitted with suicide bombs.
Read in Full 700 anti-war protesters gather outside Bush family compound in Maine as GW Bush visits his parents. Jimmy Carter kicks the poodle. Excerpt:
By John Preston and Melissa Kite Tony Blair's lack of leadership and timid subservience to George W Bush lie behind the ongoing crisis in Iraq and the worldwide threat of terrorism, according to the former American president Jimmy Carter. "I have been surprised and extremely disappointed by Tony Blair's behaviour," he told The Sunday Telegraph. "I think that more than any other person in the world the Prime Minister could have had a moderating influence on Washington - and he has not. I really thought that Tony Blair, who I know personally to some degree, would be a constraint on President Bush's policies towards Iraq." In an exclusive interview, President Carter made it plain that he sees Mr Blair's lack of leadership as being a key factor in the present crisis in Iraq, which followed the 2003 invasion - a pre-emptive move he said he would never have considered himself as president. Mr Carter also said that the Iraq invasion had subverted the fight against terrorism and instead strengthened al-Qaeda and the recruitment of terrorists. "In many countries where I meet with leaders and private citizens there is an equating of American policy with Great Britain - with Great Britain obviously playing the lesser role. We now have a situation where America is so unpopular overseas that even in countries like Egypt and Jordan our approval ratings are less than five per cent. It's a shameful and pitiful state of affairs and I hold your British Prime Minister to be substantially responsible for being so compliant and subservient."
Read in Full American Friends Service Committee memorial to U.S. dead is still on the road. (AFSC is the sort of organization you would expect to pay even more attention to the Iraqi casualties, but this is effective in the context of U.S. political culture -- C.) Excerpt:
By ALEXANDRA JACOBS, ADVANCE STAFF WRITER Hundreds of boots stood empty in Clove Lakes Park yesterday, symbolic of the soldiers from New York and New Jersey who have been killed in Iraq. Up front, the boots representing Pfc. Collin Mason faced Clove Road, a street the South Beach native had probably walked more than once in his life. The 20-year-old Army specialist who dreamed of joining the New York City Police Department was killed by indirect fire at a checkpoint outside Fort Taji in Baghdad on July 2. According to Susan McAnanama, who helped organize the event, Pfc. Mason's mother, Cynthia Boone-Mason, stopped by the exhibit, but had to leave because she was overwhelmed. Beyond the two boots representing Pfc. Mason's life lay 336 more, symbolic of the 169 soldiers from New York and New Jersey killed in the war. Tags listing soldiers' ranks, names, ages and hometowns were laced on every set, while some held flowers or prayer cards left by visitors. It's enough to overwhelm any mother. Just ask Elaine Brower of Great Kills, whose son, James, is serving with the Marine Corps in Fallujah. For her, the boots represent her worst fear -- her son getting killed. "I feel like there's such a far distance between me and the troops," she said, eliciting a hug from Mrs. McAnanama.
Read in Full Idiotic Quote of the Day I believe that the best way for us to win the war in Iraq is to come together - the administration, Congress, and Republicans and Democrats - to find a solution that will allow our troops to come home with Iraq united and free, with the Middle East stable and the terrorists denied a victory. Sen. Joe Lieberman Tip o' the hat to Atrios Non-Idiotic Quote of the Day It is one thing for those Democrats, such as Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who admit that they bought into the Bush administration’s lies about Saddam Hussein’s alleged nuke program and partnership with al-Qaida and who now seek to make amends by working to bring the troops home. It is quite another, as Lieberman has, to continue to defend as wise this patently absurd betrayal of the public interest. And it moves from dumb to evil to claim that those, such as Lamont, who dare tell the truth are giving aid and comfort to the enemy. . . . The Lieberman-Cheney axis insists that not only are those who disagree with them traitorous or, at best, naive, but also that any and all military action conducted in the name of fighting terrorists is, by definition, good. But what if the opposite were true? That, as Lamont and other critics of this quagmire argue, our clumsy presence in Iraq has increased the danger of al-Qaida-style terrorism? After all, fundamentalist al-Qaida did not have a base in Hussein’s secularized Iraq and has only flourished there since the United States brought chaos and American targets, many of them still teenagers, to Baghdad’s bloody streets. . . .And once we bankrupt ourselves to make Iraq a giant military prison camp, what will we do then? Find a new Hussein to take over Iraq? As Lamont wrote in The Wall Street Journal last week, staying the course when the car is headed off the cliff is hardly a realistic position. Robert Scheer


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