Monday, November 20, 2006


Al Anbar Province

Bring ‘em on: One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Sunday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province.

Babil Province

Assailants shot to death Fulayeh al-Ghurabi, a Shiite professor at Babil University in the province south of Baghdad, as he was driving home from the school at midday, police said.

Professor Ali Feleeh Hassan was killed in the Mahaweel area near Babel, 100 kilometres south of Baghdad.


Bring ‘em on: A soldier from 89th Military Police Brigade was killed by injuries sustained when his vehicle struck an Improvised Explosive Device southeastern Baghdad at approximately 8 p.m. Nov. 18

Gunmen attacked the convoy of an Iraqi deputy health minister on Monday, killing two of his guards, but the minister was unhurt. Hakim al-Zamily was the second Health Ministry official to be targeted in two days. Another deputy health minister was seized from his home by men in uniform on Sunday.

Another 45 bodies were found in Baghdad yesterday, police said, most apparent victims of kidnappers and death squads. More than 100 deaths were reported around Iraq in the past 24 hours.

The bodies of 56 murder victims, many of them tortured, were dumped in three Iraqi cities. In Baghdad alone, 45 were found.

On Monday, a roadside bomb exploded near a convoy carrying Iraq's minister of state, missing him and slightly wounding two of his bodyguards. Minister of State Mohammed Abbas Auraibi, a member of Iraq's Shiite majority, said in a telephone interview that the bomb exploded about 9:30 a.m. as his convoy was on a highway in eastern Baghdad.

In Baghdad on Monday morning, the bodies of 14 Sunni Arabs who had been kidnapped from their homes by men disguised as policemen were found. The victims, who were taken hostage in the mostly Sunni area of Dora of southern Baghdad on Sunday night, were found lying on a street in nearby Oreij, a mixed Sunni-Shiite neighbourhood of the capital.

At 10 a.m. in the mixed Iskan neighbourhood in northwestern Baghdad, police found four bodies of men who had been tortured and shot. The identities of the victims were not known.

The civilian victims of Monday's widespread attacks in Iraq included actor Walid Hassan, a famous comedian on al-Sharqiya TV who was shot while driving in western Baghdad. He had performed in a comedy series called Caricature, which mocked coalition forces and the Iraqi governments since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Three Iraqis were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded on the Mohammad al-Qasim highway in central Baghdad.

Iraqi official television channel al-Iraqiya announced the death and injury of numerous Iraqis in an explosion in Gameela al-Kabeer market in eastern Baghdad.

A roadside bomb in a crowded food market killed three people and wounded five others in Jamila district in eastern Baghdad, police said. An interior ministry source put the death toll at two, with seven wounded.

Christians in Baghdad fear yet another priest has been kidnapped. Fr Doglas Yousef Al Bazy - 34 years, Chaldean – left his parish yesterday morning and has not yet returned home.

In central Baghdad, a policeman was killed and three were wounded in an explosion in front of a local restaurant.


In Baquba, unknown gunmen killed a senior policeman in front of his house.

Gunmen opened fire at another senior police officer killing him and his personal driver.

Gunmen killed a police officer from the Facility Protection Services (FPS) along with his driver in Baquba.

Six civilians were killed in random gunfire attacks across the city.

Also in Baquba, gunmen attacked a police patrol killing a policeman and wounding three other Iraqis.


The bodies of 25 Iraqis who had been kidnapped and tortured were found on the streets of the capital and in Dujail, north of Baghdad (7 bodies in Dujail--18 in Baghdad).


A roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol killed two civilians and wounded three others in the town of Iskandariya.


A suicide car bomber rammed his car into a joint Iraqi police-army patrol and killed three soldiers and wounded four others, including a policeman, on Sunday in a town west of Mosul.

Professor Ahmed Hamid al-Taie, head of clinic department in Mosul University was gunned down by unidentified armed men at about 1:30 p.m. (10:30 GMT) in downtown of Mosul city while he was heading for home.


U.S. forces conducted an air strike and killed two suspected insurgents on Sunday in the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, the U.S. military said in a statement.

A mortar round landed near a court and wounded three people in Ramadi.

A suicide car bomber exploded his vehicle near a police check point and killed two people, including a policeman, and wounded six others, including four policemen, in Ramadi.

The numbers are staggering: In the past eight days, at least 715 Iraqis have died in the country's sectarian bloodbath. They've been beheaded, tortured and blown up while looking for work. They've been shot, kidnapped and felled by mortars. The number of killings in the past eight days is more than all but a few U.S. states see in a year. Iraq's death toll has reached at least 1,320 already in November, well above the 1,216 who died in all of October, which was the deadliest month in Iraq since The Associated Press began tracking the figure in April last year.

In a cycle that has been tracked by the American military since May and June, after months of apparently random sectarian violence the pattern has become one of attack and counterattack, with Sunni militants staging what commanders call “spectacular” strikes and Shiite militias retaliating with abductions and murders of Sunnis.

Militias come to funerals and offer to carry out revenge attacks. Gunmen execute blindfolded people in full public view. Mortars are lobbed between Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods. Sometimes the killers seem to be seeking specific people who were involved in earlier attacks, but many victims lose their lives simply to even out the sectarian toll.

“The problem is that every time there’s a sensational event, that starts the whole sectarian cycle again,” said Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the chief spokesman for the American command in Iraq. “If we could stop the cyclical nature of this in Baghdad, we could really change the dynamics here.”

And if we could just get everyone – Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, al-Qaeda, George W. Bush and the Joint Chief of Staff – to sit down, hold hands, sing a verse or two of Kumbaya – why then peace would flower, we could all have a nice cup of warm milk, and go to bed to dream of ponies. It’s good to see our tactical thinking has evolved so much since the days of welcoming flowers and chocolates. -m

Regional Politics

With pressure also growing on U.S. President George W. Bush for a change of tack and his allies urging him to approach Washington's adversaries Syria and Iran to help stabilise Iraq, Syria's foreign minister visited Baghdad for the first time since the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein March 2003.

The past week has seen sectarian tensions come to a head inside Iraq's national unity government, which has yet to make headway on key issues six months after taking office on May 20 on a pledge to reconcile communities and avert civil war.

At a news conference uniting ministers who have been openly at odds over the fate of dozens of civil servants kidnapped by suspected Shi'ite militiamen, Defence Minister Abdel Qader Jassim said the security forces were hunting the kidnappers: "We are in a state of war and in war all measures are permissible."

Gee, that quote could have come straight from Abu Gonzales. Good to see our Iraqi puppets are on the same wavelength. -m

Sunni Arab sheiks from volatile Anbar Province denounced a powerful Sunni cleric on Saturday, calling him “a thug” for supporting the terrorist group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and urging the Iraqi government to issue an arrest warrant against him.

The sheiks, the founders of a group called the Anbar Salvation Council, which they formed in September to resist foreign militants in Iraq, were reacting to statements that the cleric, Harith al-Dhari, had made in interviews last week in which he criticized Sunni tribal leaders who had recently decided to take a stand against Al Qaeda.

Anbar, a vast western desert province with Ramadi as its capital, is the heartland of the Sunni Arab insurgency, with various militant groups working to topple the Shiite-led government and end the American presence in Iraq. But as the fundamentalist members of Al Qaeda have tried imposing Taliban-like rule on areas of Anbar, some Iraqi tribes have turned against the group, leading to a further fracturing of what at least initially seemed to be a united resistance to the American invasion.

Mr. Dhari leads the Muslim Scholars Association, a group of conservative clerics that is outspoken in its criticism of the American occupation and the Iraqi government. In the interviews last week, he accused the Anbar council of trying to cozy up to the Iraqi government in return for money.

The trial of Saddam Hussein was so flawed that its verdict is unsound, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch says.

HRW said "serious administrative, procedural and substantive legal defects" meant the 5 November trial for crimes against humanity was not fair.

The Iraqi government has dismissed the report, telling the BBC that the trial was both "just and fair".

The ex-Iraqi leader has two weeks to lodge an appeal but his lawyer claims he has been blocked from doing so.

Iraqi, Syrian Officials Discuss Border Security

Iran calls for summit with Iraq, Syria

U.S. says 100 fighters a month enter Iraq from Syria

Rice warns Iraqis: 'Unite or you don't have a future'

US Strategerizing

The race is on to solve Iraq.

Since President Bush ordered a rush review of Iraq plans Tuesday, top officials from the State Department, the Pentagon and the CIA have huddled behind closed doors with deputy national security adviser J.D. Crouch II to pull together ideas for the president to see when he gets back from Asia, officials said.

The independent Iraq Study Group, meanwhile, wrapped up its probe last week by interviewing former president Bill Clinton and former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright. It now begins the tough job of finding consensus among five Republicans and five Democrats to weld together recommendations.

A curtain has been drawn tightly around both efforts. But the difficulty in finding a way to salvage the most embattled U.S. policy since the Vietnam war is reflected in the fact that participants inside both reviews are still far from agreement -- with only a few weeks before their reports are due, according to sources familiar with both efforts.

The White House goal is to avoid being beaten to the punch, to finish either just as or slightly before the Iraq Study Group makes its recommendations, officials say.

That last sentence really says it all, doesn’t it? All politics all the time. -m

The United States should push for available and trained Iraqi security forces to be sent to the front lines of the fight to stabilize the wartorn country, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter said Monday.

"We need to saddle those up and deploy them to the fight" in dangerous areas, primarily in Baghdad, Hunter, a California Republican who is interested in his party's 2008 presidential nomination, told The Associated Press in an interview.

I guess Rep. Hunter doesn’t read TiI or he would know how many Iraqi security units have refused to deploy outside of their home areas. Another strategical genius. -m

Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who returns to Iraq next month to take charge of the day-to-day fight as commander of the Multinational Corps-Iraq, says he departs for Baghdad with a clearer, perhaps even diminished, set of expectations of what the military can be expected to accomplish now, more than three years after the invasion.

“You have to define win, and I think everybody has a different perspective on winning,” General Odierno said during an interview at the Army’s III Corps headquarters here.

“I would argue that with Saddam Hussein no longer in power in Iraq, that is a partial win,” he said. “I think what we need is an Iraqi government that is legitimate in the eyes of the Iraqi population, an Iraq that is able to protect itself and not be a safe haven for terror. That’s what I think winning is.”

As a bugle sounded across Fort Hood with the call to lower the flag at dusk, General Odierno paused, and added, “Notice I left out a few things, such as a democracy in the sense that we see a democracy in the United States. We have to allow them to shape their own democracy, the type of democracy that fits them and their country.”

What can you say? Three years into this fiasco and our top leadership openly admits they don’t even know how to define winning. God, what a waste. -m

The Bush administration is preparing its largest spending request yet for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a proposal that could make the conflict the most expensive since World War II.

The Pentagon is considering $127 billion to $160 billion in requests from the armed services for the 2007 fiscal year, which began last month, several lawmakers and congressional staff members said. That's on top of $70 billion already approved for 2007.

Since 2001, Congress has approved $502 billion for the war on terror, roughly two-thirds for Iraq. The latest request, due to reach the incoming Democratic-controlled Congress next spring, would make the war on terror more expensive than the Vietnam War.

The Pentagon's closely guarded review of how to improve the situation in Iraq has outlined three basic options: Send in more troops, shrink the force but stay longer, or pull out, according to senior defense officials.

…The military's study, commissioned by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, comes at a time when escalating violence is causing Iraq policy to be reconsidered by both the White House and the congressionally chartered, bipartisan Iraq Study Group. Pace's effort will feed into the White House review, but military officials have made it clear they are operating independently.

…"Go Big," the first option, originally contemplated a large increase in U.S. troops in Iraq to try to break the cycle of sectarian and insurgent violence. A classic counterinsurgency campaign, though, would require several hundred thousand additional U.S. and Iraqi soldiers as well as heavily armed Iraqi police. That option has been all but rejected by the study group, which concluded that there are not enough troops in the U.S. military and not enough effective Iraqi forces, said sources who have been informally briefed on the review.

…"Go Home," the third option, calls for a swift withdrawal of U.S. troops. It was rejected by the Pentagon group as likely to push Iraq directly into a full-blown and bloody civil war.

The group has devised a hybrid plan that combines part of the first option with the second one -- "Go Long" -- and calls for cutting the U.S. combat presence in favor of a long-term expansion of the training and advisory efforts. Under this mixture of options, which is gaining favor inside the military, the U.S. presence in Iraq, currently about 140,000 troops, would be boosted by 20,000 to 30,000 for a short period, the officials said.

The purpose of the temporary but notable increase, they said, would be twofold: To do as much as possible to curtail sectarian violence, and also to signal to the Iraqi government and public that the shift to a "Go Long" option that aims to eventually cut the U.S. presence is not a disguised form of withdrawal.

Even so, there is concern that such a radical shift in the U.S. posture in Iraq could further damage the standing of its government, which U.S. officials worry is already shaky. Under the hybrid plan, the short increase in U.S. troop levels would be followed by a long-term plan to radically cut the presence, perhaps to 60,000 troops.

That combination plan, which one defense official called "Go Big But Short While Transitioning to Go Long," could backfire if Iraqis suspect it is really a way for the United States to moonwalk out of Iraq -- that is, to imitate singer Michael Jackson's trademark move of appearing to move forward while actually sliding backward. "If we commit to that concept, we have to accept upfront that it might result in the opposite of what we want," the official said.

Pelosi, Hoyer Say House Won't Consider Resuming Military Draft

Bush won't commit to Iraq troop changes

The Money Machine

The Pentagon has led the way in privatizing jobs once done by regular soldiers. The logistics provided by Brown & Root — now part of KBR, the engineering and military-services contractor unit of the Halliburton Co. — were central to the American deployment in the Balkans in the 1990s.

Halliburton's chief executive at the time, Dick Cheney, said: "The first person to greet our soldiers as they arrive in the Balkans and the last one to wave goodbye is one of our employees."

The Pentagon also has used private firms to train other countries' armies.

The nebulous aid provided to Croatia by one firm, Military Professional Resources Inc., is widely linked with that country's success in the final phase of Bosnia's war.

Using private contractors not only allows governments to conduct politically sensitive operations at arm's length, it also cuts the political cost of direct military operations. Dead contractors mean fewer protests than dead soldiers. Military casualties in Iraq are carefully recorded, but there are no firm figures for security contractors, though hundreds have died.

This year's Quadrennial Defense Review treats private contractors as an integral part of the "total force" at the Pentagon's disposal. But contractors have drawbacks. They are accused of profiteering, poaching experienced soldiers from regular military units and being less accountable than soldiers. Private contractors were involved in the torture scandal at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, but only the military interrogators have been prosecuted.

War, instability, and high oil prices have created a perfect storm of profit for the world's weapons manufacturers. This year, military analysts predict the biggest arms bonanza since 1993 … which is saying something because in the aftermath of the first Gulf War the global industry reaped the benefits of a $42 billion arms race.

As the world's largest producer and exporter, the United States is riding the wave. For fiscal year 2006, which ended on September 31, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency churned out notices for $21 billion in arms sales offers . In most cases, that agency is required to notify Congress of all potential major arms deals worth more than $14 million. In one typical day—September 28—the DSCA issued notification on $5.5 billion in agreements. South Korea would get $1.5 billion in Patriot missile equipment and other hardware, Turkey was offered a $2.9 billion package including 30 F-16 fighter planes, while Jordan and Chile were also offered weapons packages.

While not all deals are finalized with arms deliveries, these notifications are a way of taking the pulse of the weapons market … and it is racing. U.S. a rms sales offers for 2006 appear to be roughly twice the levels of any other year during the Bush administration.

Our Creeping Stalinism

Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) spelled out his agenda for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence yesterday, promising not only to look back at issues such as the surveillance of overseas phone calls, CIA detention activities and the use of prewar Iraq intelligence but also to look ahead at emerging global terrorist threats. Rockefeller will become chairman of the committee in January.

… Partisan disagreements have kept the panel from concluding the second phase of its review of prewar Iraq intelligence. The report includes a contentious section dealing with how information was used in public speeches to build support for the invasion. Rockefeller called that assessment one of "our core oversight responsibilities." He said it can be taken up "without raking over the old coals again."

The U.S. military called no witnesses, withheld evidence from detainees and usually reached a decision within a day as it determined that hundreds of men detained at Guantanamo Bay were "enemy combatants," according to a new report. The analysis of transcripts and records by two lawyers for Guantanamo detainees, aided by more than two dozen law students, found that hearings that determined whether a prisoner should remain in custody gave the accused little opportunity to contest allegations against him. "These were not hearings. These were shams," said Mark Denbeaux, an attorney and Seton Hall University law professor who along with his son, Joshua, is the author of the report. They provided an advance copy of the report to The Associated Press late Thursday and planned to release it Friday on the Internet. Their report, based on an analysis of records of military hearings of 393 detainees, comes as the U.S. government seeks to severely restrict detainee access to civilian courts, arguing that the Combatant Status Review Tribunals should be their main legal recourse.

Interviews, Commentary, Opinion

Interview with Representative Dennis Kucinich: TRUTHDIG: I was just reading up on your [Nov. 15] appearance on Democracy Now!, in which you talked about cutting off the funds to Iraq as being the only way to make any progress there. Do you want to comment on that?

KUCINICH: Today, it was announced that 2,000 more Marines are being sent to Anbar province—a place which was already declared “lost” for the purposes of military occupation. Why are we sacrificing our young men and women? Why are we keeping them in an impossible situation? Why are we stoking a civil war with our continued presence? We have to take a new direction in Iraq, and that direction is out.

Now, there are many plans out there. The people talking about phased redeployment, the president as the commander in chief ultimately has the authority to determine the placement of troops. Congress’ real authority, and Congress’ constitutional [mandate] as a co-equal branch of government, requires that it be heard from, and I believe that Congress must exercise its authority to protect the troops by bringing them home. And the only way we can do that effectively is to vote against supplemental appropriations—which has kept the war going, or to vote against appropriation bills which fund the war. That’s Congress’ ultimate power—the power of the purse.

If we truly care about our troops, we’ll get them out. It’s the phoniest argument to say that a cut-off of funds will leave troops stranded in the field. There’s always money in the pipeline to pay for an orderly withdrawal. But those who favor continuing the war or escalating the war are using the troops as a tool to further policies that are against the interests of the troops, against the interests of [the] American people, and against the interests of peace in the world.

Ron Suskind: Oddly, Iraq may be the last place that Democratic investigators want to go, precisely because it is the arena from which the party's key above-the-fray "action plan" must emerge. So much is known from this year's host of Iraq books and stream of media disclosures that hearings would mostly unearth common knowledge -- a patience-trying prospect for a war-fatigued public.

Some Republicans would disagree. The goal of an investigation, and public hearings, they argue, is to destroy the targets. Ruin them, and whatever public purpose they champion is ruined as well. You have to make it personal. That's what people understand -- and that's what will create a public "moment" at a hearing table, one that will echo forward, even if the events in question are long passed.

Over in the people's chamber, some House investigators are quite clear on how to make things personal: Force administration officials to say that they lied or to take the Fifth Amendment. Two areas of modest public purpose, but fierce public passions, are the rescue of Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch and the death of NFL star-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman. In both cases, government officials willfully distributed false information. To show how that sort of thing happens -- who crafted and authorized the release -- would lead to the question of whether the practice is part of approved policy, an issue that drives at the very character of this administration. (Suggested witnesses: Jim Wilkinson, deputy national security adviser from 2003 to 2005 and spinmeister for the Iraq war; Dan Bartlett, special assistant to Bush for communications; and Gen. John P. Abizaid, chief of the U.S. Central Command.)

Indeed, the results of the midterm elections suggest that people's eyes are adjusting to the Bush administration's message management innovations. Recent polls show that public concerns over how the government is handling the terrorism threat now surpass concerns over the handling of the Iraq war, which may mean that the administration's overall credibility problems are bleeding into what was once an area of relative strength for the president. Add the foiled terrorist attacks in London in August, and Americans can quite naturally be wondering what we're not being told on the terrorism front.

Unfortunately, as I've encountered repeatedly in my own reporting, discernible reality in the war on terrorism is mostly locked in a vault marked "classified." There is no realm in which more misinformation has been passed to the public, a result of the creative license that a largely secret war affords this -- or any -- government.

A mission of the Democratic Congress that would please both the gods of politics and of public purpose (they don't always intersect) may be to drag that war from the shadows.

Nir Rosen: Some realignment of power was inevitable after Saddam’s removal, and perhaps not even shared opposition to the American occupation could have united Sunnis and Shias. As it happened, the occupation divided Iraqis between those seen as anti-occupation and those seen as pro-occupation. The Shias I spoke with proudly pointed to the attacks of Muqtada’s militia on Americans in the spring and summer of 2004 as proof that they were as anti-occupation as the Sunnis. Nevertheless, Sunnis viewed Shias as the primary beneficiaries of the American occupation. And they were right: the Sunnis had been pushed to the side, dismissed from the security forces and the government, replaced in the government by Shias and Kurds, and treated as the enemy by the American military, which punished them collectively first for Saddam’s crimes and then for the insurgency.

After Saddam’s fall, the Sunnis were vulnerable. They had no leader; Saddam had gotten rid of the competition. Sunni clerics formed the Association of Muslim Scholars to protect Sunni interests and unite their leadership under the command of Baathists-turned-clerics. These clerics would soon call for boycotts of the Iraqi elections and would eventually control much of the insurgency, harboring the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, and other foreign fighters who targeted not only Shia civilians in markets, buses, and mosques but Iraq’s new security forces, which were filled with young Shia men.

Three years later, Shia religious parties such as the Iran-supported Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (its name a sufficient statement of its intentions), or SCIRI, controlled the country, and Shia militias had become the Iraqi police and the Iraqi army, running their own secret prisons, arresting, torturing, and executing Sunnis in what was clearly a civil war. And the Americans were merely one more militia among the many, watching, occasionally intervening, and in the end only making things worse. Iraqis’ hopes for a better future after Saddam had been betrayed.

This is a very extensive, detailed and informative article. This brief excerpt does not do it justice. -m

Senator Joe Biden: Our current policy in Iraq is a failure. We are past the point of an open-ended commitment. We are past the point of adding more troops. We are past the point of vague policy prescriptions. It is not an answer just to stay. Nor is it an answer -- though it may become a necessity -- just to go with no concern for what follows. The fundamental question we must answer is whether, as we begin to leave Iraq, there are still concrete steps we can take to avoid leaving chaos behind.

Six months ago Les Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, and I proposed a detailed answer to that question, which can be found at http://www.planforiraq.com. We had two fundamental premises: first, that the main challenge in Iraq is sectarian strife, for which there is no military solution; second, that putting all of our chips on building a strong central government cannot pay off because there is no trust within or of the government and no capacity on the part of the government to deliver basic services to the Iraqi people.

We argued instead for a strong federal system, as provided for in the Iraqi constitution, that gives its main groups breathing room in regions while preserving a central government to deal with truly common concerns; a fair sharing of oil revenue to make those regions economically viable; a jobs program to deny the militia new recruits; and a major diplomatic effort to secure support for a political settlement from Iraq's neighbors.

Doing all those things would enable most of our troops to leave Iraq by the end of 2007, with a small residual force to contend with concentrations of terrorists.

Mark Kleiman: The fundamental fact the country is going to have to confront over the next decade is our catastrophic defeat in Iraq. The fundemental political challenge for the Democrats is to fend off the "stab-in-the-back" narrative that worked so well for the Republicans after Vietnam (and for which the Republicans have never acknowledged their debt to the Nazis, who invented it). That narrative gave the Swiftboat attack on Kerry its power: whether or not he was a war hero was secondary to the undisputed fact that he was an anti-war hero, and thus in the view of many of his fellow Vietnam vets one of the authors of our defeat and thus partly responsible for dimming their glory as warriors and making their sacrifices meaningless.

A truthful narrative about Iraq would be "We were arrogant, and overestimated our capacity to shape the world to our visions." But that's not a story the country wants to hear. An alternative narrative, equally truthful, is "We took on a tough but potentially manageable challenge and blew it due to the incompetence and corruption of the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress."

I would therefore nominate as the prime investigative targets for the next Congress:

1. Corruption and patronage in the CPA. 2. Corruption and crony capitalism in contracting in Iraq, especially for support of the troops but also for reconstruction. 3. Corruption and earmarking in the award of defense contracts. 4. Corruption and earmarking in the award of intelligence contracts. 5. Corruption and patronage in DHS and its White House predecessor office under Tom Ridge.

The goal should be to establish the following proposition in the public mind:

For all their tough talk, the Republicans are too incompetent and too crooked to entrust with the national security.

Suzanne Nossel: So what do we do next:

In short, develop a withdrawal scenario that includes whatever steps can reasonably be taken to minimize the chaos in our wake. A regional conference, talks with Syria and Iran, improved training and reconstruction efforts, political mediation and efforts to bolster the security of less violent regions should all be part of the package. To the extent we can engage Iraq's neighbors as well as any other global powers who are willing to step up to the plate and help us and Iraq, we should. We should be honest with ourselves and with the Iraqis about what we are doing and why, acknowledging all of the above rather than pretending that we're handing off a country that's in better shape than it is. But we should commit to getting out of there regardless of how the diplomacy and mediation progress.

Our exit should be as responsible and forthright as our entrance was wanton and misleading. The best thing we can promise troops who are now being asked to put their lives at risk for an all-but-declared failure is that they are taking risks to enable the US to make the best out of a terrible situation, preserving what can be saved of both Iraqi stability (in geographic pockets) and of American credibility. Its by no means the mission they signed up for, but its an important one nonetheless.

Arthur Silber: “The dreadful truth is that, no matter what strategy our leaders now settle upon, the fate of Iraq is slipping inexorably out of their hands.”

And that is the "dreadful truth": we have unleashed forces that no one can now control, probably not for years to come. Moreover, we are now, as we have been for several years, an inextricable and significant part of the problem as long as we remain. There is no point whatsoever in our staying, not in the sense that it will improve the situation. But more Americans and Britons will be slaughtered -- just as countless Iraqis are slaughtered every hour of every day. I actually think it was true almost immediately after the toppling of Saddam that there was no good solution to what we have done by invading Iraq immorally and illegally. I said just that in October of 2003 (see the second half of that entry in particular, where I republished an entry from over three years ago [It's Your Goddamned Mess. You Be "Constructive."]). Yet despite this blindingly obvious fact -- a fact which was clear to some of us before the invasion began, which is why we so strongly opposed it -- our governing class still searches for a miracle to save them. There will be no such miracle, and the chaos and death will continue into the foreseeable future. But they refuse to admit this -- for one unforgivably shabby, despicable reason: they will not admit they were wrong.


A Marine corporal who was based in Twentynine Palms and died in Iraq shielding others from a grenade will receive the Medal of Honor, the country’s highest decoration for valor. On Nov. 10, the day Cpl. Jason L. Dunham would have turned 25 and the day the United States Marine Corps turned 231, President George W. Bush announced he would confer the Medal of Honor onto the Marine.

Casualty Reports

A funeral was held in Manchester (New Hampshire) this morning for a Marine killed in Iraq earlier this month. Friends and family remembered 19-year-old Lance Corporal Ryan Mc-Caughn during a funeral Mass at Saint Anne/Saint Augustin Catholic Church. Mc-Caughn was killed by a roadside bomb two months after being posted overseas.

A UK security worker shot dead while travelling in a convoy in southern Iraq has been named as Simon Hall. Mr Hall, who was married and from Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, was working for Securiforce International and had been in an armoured vehicle. The shooting happened on 17 November as the workers entered the country from Kuwait at a border point at Al Zubayr.

A 22-year-old Marine from Green Springs has been killed in Iraq. The Department of Defense is reporting that Lance Corporal Jeremy Shock has been killed by a roadside bomb in Fallujah. Officials say Shock was riding in a Humvee with four other Marines when he was killed. He only joined the Marines a year and a half ago, and was just married in April.


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