Wednesday, October 25, 2006
WAR NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2006
"We will stay the course until the job is done…and the temptation is to try to get the President or somebody to put a timetable on the definition of getting the job done. We're just going to stay the course." – George W. Bush, Press Conference, December, 2003
A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol wounded two policemen in the Christian neighbourhood of
Iraqi special forces backed by
Fourteen bodies were found dumped or pulled from the
Police in the al-Yarmouk district found four unidentified bodies of people who had been handcuffed, tortured and shot in the head.
Six people were killed when a roadside bomb destroyed their vehicle in Balad Ruz, about 40 miles northeast of
A pickup truck driven by a suicide bomber was detonated Wednesday near a hospital north of Baquba Wednesday killing two policemen and injuring three civilians.
Sources at Baquba general hospital said two more Iraqis, including a policeman, were killed Wednesday morning in separate attacks in the district of Garf al-Malh in eastern Baquba.
A grenade thrown at a house wounded four people in the southern city of
Gunmen wounded a policeman in Diwaniya.
Two people were killed and two injured when a vehicle exploded on Tuesday in a marketplace in Husayba, a town on
The bodies of four people, bound and gagged, were found in the town of
A bomb killed three Iraqi soldiers and wounded three others as they entered a house in the northern town of
A mortar round killed a man and wounded three others in Yusufiya, 15 km south of
You and what army, Nouri?: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Wednesday his government was determined to crack down on private militias blamed for the country's spiraling sectarian violence, warning he would "strike hard" against any group that challenges state authority.
Sunni leaders and
…Speaking in the holy Shi'ite city of
Refugees times two: Palestinians living in Iraq have increasingly come under threat since the US-led occupation of the country began in 2003, according to a recent report by the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.
The report said that Palestinians, who are predominantly Sunni Muslims, have become targets of Shi'ite death squads because of resentment towards them for their perceived support of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's government, which was also Sunni and which sympathised with their cause. This targeting has forced thousands of Palestinians to flee their homes, UNHCR says.
In the popular Palestinian neighbourhood of al-Baladiya in the capital,
Brits ready to bug out: The British military hoped to withdraw troops from
British officials had told
The official's comments offered the first hint
"It's about a year, give or take a few months," the official said.
Speaking Of Timetables
Ok, here’s the situation: The
First, they lean on al-Maliki: President George W. Bush's national security adviser said on Tuesday
They reverse policy from ‘stay the course’ to a timetable for withdrawal:
But in a sign of the challenges the Iraqi government faces in achieving Washington's "benchmarks", Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki was the object of fresh anger after airstrikes and raids by U.S. and Iraqi troops killed five people in the Shi'ite stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad overnight, witnesses said.
They claim the Iraqi puppets are on board: Iraqi leaders have assured the
Two weeks ahead of U.S. congressional elections that have put President George W. Bush's Republicans on the defensive over their Iraq strategy, the U.S. ambassador and military commander in Baghdad told voters directly via a rare televised joint news conference success was still possible, and on a "realistic timetable."
Insisting sectarian bloodshed had not caused
Then they release a list of stuff that makes good sound bites: Khalilzad variously described the steps as benchmarks and milestones rather than conditions and spoke of timelines rather than deadlines.
Following are the steps he outlined:
* Khalilzad said it was of "critical importance" to enact a new oil law to share the profits of
* Implementing a plan to deal with militias and death squads.
* Amending the constitution "to make all Iraqis understand that their children will be guaranteed democratic rights and equality"
* Reforming the De-Baathification Commission "to transform it into an accountability and reconciliation program".
* Setting a date for provincial elections.
* Increasing the credibility and capability of Iraqi forces. The
But as usual there’s no real plan for implementation: The plan was made public a day after White House press secretary Tony Snow said the U.S. was adjusting its Iraq strategy but would not issue any ultimatums.
The lack of any real political consensus even among Shiites, however, has made it extremely difficult for Iraqi leaders to keep deadlines; for example, they missed targeted dates on naming a government and in moving forward on constitutional amendments. Moreover, Tuesday's declarations lacked specifics on how to accomplish the goals.
The experts see it for the sham it is but the average American changes the channel: Disarm sectarian militias, quell insurgents and equitably distribute Iraq's oil: These are some items from the latest U.S. list of problems the Iraqi government needs to confront within 12 months to assure the United States that it is capable of running the country without American help.
Of course, the Bushies deny their policy reversal is a reversal: In the firmest indication yet of a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, America's most senior general there and its top civilian official have drawn the outlines of a political and military plan that could see a substantial pullout of US troops within 12 to 18 months.
Yesterday's announcement looked like a strategy change carrying implications for British troops in
And sadly, someone always seems to be out of the loop: As the U.S. death toll in
"Just because we have taken some serious sacrifices this month and that the fighting has been remarkably violent, that doesn't make it any less necessary for us to be there and make sure we prevail," Bush adviser Dan Bartlett told CNN.
Then the main puppet gets off the story line:
The defiant al-Maliki also slammed the top
"I affirm that this government represents the will of the people and no one has the right to impose a timetable on it," al-Maliki said at a news conference.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said Tuesday that al-Maliki had agreed to the plan...
Fortunately there are some scapegoats in the wings:
The comments from ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and General George Casey were among the strongest
That pesky reality stuff sure has a way of intruding: This morning, coverage of
The TurkishPress notes that “the hall was plunged into darkness by one of
Political language…is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. –George Orwell, Politics and the English Language, 1946
Don’t change the policy, change the definitions: Words have never been a strong point for President Bush, who has even joked about his habit of mangling the English language.
But two weeks before elections likely to hinge on growing public frustration over
…Banished from Bush's vernacular is "stay the course," which was his mantra for conveying America's resolve in Iraq until Democrats seized on the phrase as a sign that he and his fellow Republicans were unresponsive to mounting U.S. casualties.
Bush and his team are also insisting on a distinction between "tactics," which he is willing to change, and "strategy," which he isn't.
And the White House is willing to talk only of "milestones" and "benchmarks" for getting Iraqis to shoulder more of the security burden -- never "deadlines" or "ultimatums," which imply penalties if they fail to do so.
Even the definition of victory has undergone a makeover, with Bush no longer focusing on the goal of transforming
Instead, with sectarian violence raging, he now speaks -- as he did at a
Image over substance: The American public wants a timeline for withdrawing
Unfortunately, this rhetoric is not accompanied by any change in strategy. The Iraqis have agreed to a 12-18 month “timeline” to control violence in
We’ve always been at war with Oceania: Much was made on Monday, in and out of the blogosphere, concerning top White House aide Dan Bartlett stating on TV this morning that President Bush really did not believe in "stay the course" in Iraq, but actually was quite flexible in his views. Bush himself had said on ABC on Sunday, "we've never been stay the course."
This surprised many observers, since the president had often used this phrase to describe our
I guess this means
Repeatedly since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of
As recently as August, during a speech in
But no more of that from the president, said White House press secretary Tony Snow.
More On The Timeline
This is novel - a timeline for withdrawal that requires more troops to implement: Two weeks before
How many projected withdrawals have we heard about now?: U.S. officials said Tuesday that Iraq's security forces won't be able to stand on their own for another 12 to 18 months, meaning substantial numbers of U.S. forces will likely remain in Iraq through next year.
If they’re waiting for proficient Iraqi units they’ll be waiting a while: While military commanders may not be discouraged, Republicans fighting to keep control of Congress are frustrated with the lack of progress in
In a letter released Tuesday, 33 House Republicans urged Bush to send into
While Republicans want more troops for political reasons, the people with their butts on the line say no thanks: Sixty five active duty service members are officially asking Congress to end the war in
No real changes planned before the elections: The U.S. military and political chiefs in
Significant policy or tactical shifts such as an influx of
So two weeks before a congressional election that is shaping up as a referendum on the war, the administration is repackaging rhetoric and ideas it has offered before. For example, Gen. George Casey, the top
When Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited
"Certainly at the end of this year, there should be a sizable gross reduction in the troops" and within the next couple of years "most of the coalition forces would go back home safely."
It’s all about the politics. And Jim Baker is a whore: Michael O'Hanlon, a foreign policy scholar at the Brookings Institution who is part of the Baker-Hamilton study group, deemed it unlikely that Baker would lend his support to a phased withdrawal such as some Democrats have advocated. "Baker's not a political novice," O'Hanlon said.
Still, he said, the
Here’s the real course change. Oh, and sorry about all the dead soldiers: American forces are negotiating an amnesty with Sunni insurgents in Iraq to try to defuse the nascent civil war and pave the way for disarmament of Shia militias, The Times has learnt.
The tactic marks a dramatic reversal of policy by the
The U-turn comes amid the bloodiest fighting for two years and growing domestic opposition to the war as Americans prepare to vote in crucial midterm elections.
And the split state alternative is still hanging in there too: Q: How would a split work, both in ethnic terms and geographically?
A: US military planners believe that to help quell sectarian violence,
However, the country is not as neatly divided along ethnic grounds as some strategists would like to believe. For example, the capital is already seeing forced relocation of ethnic groups such as Sunnis - who once lived peacefully next to their Shia neighbours east of the
And more than half of
Q: Why are these plans being considered now?
A: They are not new. As early as 2002, before the invasion, the
Then again, maybe the problem will just go away by itself: The number of Iraqis applying for asylum in the 25 European Union countries rose by nearly 50 per cent to 7,300 in the first six months of the year, bucking a downward trend in the total number of asylum-seekers, new United Nations' statistics show.
One-third applied to
Your Tax Dollars At Work, Part 12,453,893,345
Are CEO paychecks administrative costs?: Administrative costs for a handful of reconstruction projects in Iraq ate up 11 percent to 55 percent of the total costs and were not monitored well by officials there, according to a government audit.
The audit, done by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, looked at a number of contracts and detailed five totaling $1.3 billion. It found that more than $460 million was spent on overhead costs, including transportation, mobilization, administration, personnel support and security.
The report suggested that some of the costs may be underestimated because the government did not consistently track the administrative amounts or require companies to report them in the same way. Congress has approved $18.4 billion in reconstruction money for
Press freedom: Some poor countries, such as Mauritania and Haiti, improved their record in a global press freedom index this year, while France, the United States and Japan slipped further down the scale of 168 countries rated, the group Reporters Without Borders said yesterday.
…Although it ranked 17th on the first list, published in 2002, the United States now stands at 53, having fallen nine places since last year.
"Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of 'national security' to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his 'war on terrorism,' " the group said.
Who says we’re not still an example?: Several governments around the world have tried to rebut criticism of how they handle detainees by claiming they are only following the U.S. example in the war on terror, the U.N. anti-torture chief said Monday.
Manfred Nowak, the U.N. special investigator on torture, said that when he criticizes governments for their questionable treatment of detainees, they respond by telling him that if the
Nowak said that because of its prominence, the
God, that’s so pre-9/11! -m
This Is Not Exactly News
But it’s still worth repeating: The Iraq War is getting "a lot more difficult" and also is serving as a motivating force for Muslim terrorists all over the world, a top official of the Central Intelligence Agency said in
Associate Deputy Director Michael J. Morell, the agency's No. 3 official, quickly added that he sees the war as just one of many motivating factors for terrorists.
"If you're a young extremist in
“As the hobbits are going up
So let's see if I can parse this. The "Eye of Mordor" (Sauron, representing Osama bin Laden) is focused "somewhere else" (Gondor, representing
They said that when plans were being made within the administration to go to war with
Mr. Suskind and Mr. O'Neill made the point that in policy-making, good process creates good outcomes. If a thesis is put forward, then examined critically by a number of informed people from different points of view, it is more likely that a sound decision will be reached. This process has become debased under the Bush administration and the damage to
William Greider: The facts are so stark, even American military commanders are now speaking openly about an approaching climax for our bloody misadventure in
Learned policy experts from all sides are now debating the various alternatives for an exit plan. Preferably with honor, they hope, but getting out is becoming unavoidable, regardless. They would like to dream up a some sort of fig leaf that gives cover to our failed warrior president. Not that he deserves one, but they want a plan will encourage Bush--finally--to accept reality.
Who is being left out of this momentous discussion? The Iraqi people, whom we were allegedly teaching how to become small-d democrats. Bush relentlessly touted "democracy" as his true goal. He cited the three Iraqi elections as proof that he was succeeding.
So let's have one more election in
Tom Engelhardt: On Friday, the New York Times reported that the Pentagon Inspector General's audit of a secret Pentagon Iraqi propaganda program contracted to the Lincoln Group (which calls itself "a strategic communications & pubic relations firm providing insight & influence in challenging & hostile environments") had cleared the Pentagon of violating laws or its own regulations So challenging and hostile was the Iraqi environment, it seems, that the Lincoln Group spent its time using U.S. military personnel to create good "news" stories, having them translated into Arabic, and then secretly paying bribes to members of the newly "free" Iraqi media to publish them as Iraqi-generated news reports.
According to a brief summary of the investigation released by the Inspector General's office, "Psychological operations are planned to convey selected, truthful information to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately, the behavior of governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of Psychological Operations is to induce or reinforce foreign attitudes and behavior favorable to
Get that mouthful? Now, all you have to do is translate it into Arabic and bribe an Iraqi news editor to publish it. Think of your goal as messing up a few more Iraqi minds when it comes to "objective reasoning."
The New York Times, which saw some of the other unclassified documents in the investigation, summarized the clearing of the Pentagon of illegal activity this way: "The report said that the secret program, run by the military in conjunction with the Lincoln Group, a Washington contractor, was lawful and that it did not constitute a ‘covert action' designed to influence the internal political conditions of another country."
Now, to a normal human being, a secret Pentagon operation to produce propaganda pieces--call it "selected, truthful information," if you wish--and slip them into the Iraqi press for a price might sound remarkably like a "'covert action' designed to influence the internal political conditions of another country."
Nicholas Kristoff: “The total costs of the war, including the budgetary, social and macroeconomic costs, are likely to exceed $2 trillion,” Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel-winning economist at Columbia, writes in an updated new study with Linda Bilmes, a public finance specialist at Harvard. Their report has just appeared in the Milken Institute Review, as an update on a paper presented earlier this year.
Just to put that $2 trillion in perspective, it is four times the additional cost needed to provide health insurance for all uninsured Americans for the next decade. It is 1,600 times Mr. Bush’s financing for his vaunted hydrogen energy project.
…Of course, many of the costs are hidden and haven’t even been spent yet. For example, more than 3,000 American veterans have suffered severe head injuries in
Cynthia Tucker: Bush had a major advantage in persuading Americans to support his Iraqi misadventure: Voters wanted to believe that ousting Saddam would take care of terrorists. The president offered the certainty that the nation craved. It's easier to believe in a highly unlikely proposition if you desperately want it to be true.
But three and a half years after the invasion, with bloodshed escalating, the spell has worn off. American voters no longer support our involvement in a conflict that has all the signs of a civil war; a CNN poll earlier this month showed 64 percent of respondents opposed to the war. And while a handful of Republican congressional candidates still try to justify the decision to topple Saddam, most GOP candidates try to avoid the subject.
Meanwhile, we are less secure than we were five years ago. Terrorists are using our invasion of
All in all, we've paid a high price for our refusal to see ourselves as we really are, not the way we want to be seen. We wanted to be "the shining city on the hill," set apart from the rest of the world, immune from its problems, better, safer, smarter than anybody else.
That nuanced approach doesn't appeal to the bully boys who want to send other people's children out to blow up a country. But we should have learned by now to stop listening to them.
The Guardian: There is something profoundly selfish - arrogant even - about
A Marine from Marine Corps Base Hawaii in
Relatives say patriotism and faith led Eric Herzberg to join the Marines and fight in
The Pentagon says that two Marine lance corporals from southeastern
Another Army medic from Deltona was killed in combat in
A fallen soldier from
The 10th Mountain Division is mourning the loss of another soldier killed in