Tuesday, December 05, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY, December 5, 2006 Photo: A gunman shoots at a patrol of American soldiers in center of Baghdad. (João Silva, New York Times) (See below "The Reach of War…") Bring 'em on: Insurgents attacked a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol Dec. 4, killing one Soldier and wounding five others. The patrol was conducting operations to deny enemy movements and enforce curfew restrictions in a northeastern neighborhood of the city when it was attacked. (MNF - Iraq)
Bring 'em on: A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, died of wounds Monday as a result of an explosion near his vehicle while conducting operations in Diyala Province. (MNF - Iraq) In southern Iraq, a 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) soldier died Monday when his M-1117 Armored Security Vehicle rolled over north of Camp Adder, which is 200 miles southwest of Baghdad, the military said. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: In northern Baghdad, gunmen set off a car bomb to intercept a minibus carrying employees of the Shiite Endowment, a government agency that cares for Shiite mosques in Iraq, to work, the organization said. The gunmen then opened fire on the workers, killing 15 of them and wounding seven, said Salah Abdul-Razzaq, an Endowment spokesman. In northern Baghdad, a suicide car bomb plowed into a crowd of recruits at a national police academy, killing seven and wounding 12 as concealed gunmen also opened fire. Two car bombs exploded near one another in western Baghdad, killing at least 15 people and wounding 25, police said. The explosions occurred at about 9:45 a.m. near a gas station in Baiyaa, a commercial area of the capital. A roadside bomb exploded near an Iraqi army convoy in Yarmouk, a primarily Sunni area of west Baghdad [an weasel detail -- zig], at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, killing two soldiers and wounding four, said an army captain who spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern for his security.
An IED exploded in Al Yarmouk area Arba'a Shawaree, it exploded at the Iraqi army checkpoint, 2 soldiers were killed and 2 others were injured.
Two mortar rounds landed on a market, killing two people and wounding five in northern Baghdad. A car bomb in a market killed two people and wounded nine in Amil district in southwestern Baghdad. Three people were killed when a car bomb hit a marketplace in the neighborhood of Amil in southwest Baghdad. Mortar rounds hit a popular market killing two people and wounding 10 others in Qahira district in northern Baghdad. Mortars slammed into the north Baghdad neighborhood of Al-Qahira, killing two children. A car bomb exploded near the former security building were a police academy is located, 3 police were killed and 6 others were injured. Today 60 dead bodies were found in Baghdad, 3 were found in Bayaa, 1 Hurriah, 7 Amil, 2 Shoala , 2 Risla, 1 Shurta Rabiaa, 4 Doura, 3 Turath, 1 Ghazaliyah, 1 Taji, 4 Haifa Street, 1 Mishahda, 1 Adil, 1 Khadhra, 3 Yarmouk, 3 Mansour, 3 Jihad, 7 Sader City, 3 Shaab, 4 New Baghdad, 2 Husseiniyah, 2 Habibiyah and 1 Kamaliyah. Diyala Prv: A car bomb exploded aimed at an American patrol in Al Gatoon area north west Baquba. the American casualties were not known because the American forces surrounded the area. According to a security source in Baqouba police, the Iraqi security forces arrested a terrorist who is responsible for assassination operations and sectarian displacement, he was arrested in Jiser Al Khalel Basha area inside Baqouba after a raid by the Iraqi forces in one of the groves . According to the joint coordination centre in Baqouba, the family of major Naser Abdul Rahman (deputy head of the operation centre in Khan Bani Saad area) found his body at the at the morgue in Baqouba city after a search of 8 days.
The same source said that terrorist groups assassinated one civilian at the main bus station in Baqouba and another man was killed in Al Aumal area in Khalis town 15km north of Baqouba.
According to a health source in Baqouba's hospital, the morgue has received 3 unknown bodies who were assassinated in Al Kubat area in al Khalis town 15km north of Baqouba, and 2 women were shot in the chest by unknown terrorist group and were brought to the hospital of Muqdadia town 45km east of Baqouba. According to a security source in Diyala police, this evening 2 policemen were killed and 3 civilians were injured when a car bomb exploded near Al Khalis hospital 15km north of Baqouba, it was aiming at an Iraqi police patrol who were transferring ail detainees to the hospital. According to a police source in Diyala, terrorists in Al Atheem area at the northern outskirts of Diyala province heading to Karkuk, opened fire at a civilian car killing one man and one women. According to a police source in Khalis town 15km north of Baqouba, at 6 o'clock this evening a terrorist group opened fire on a pick up truck, employees of a private company were inside the vehicle, 3 employees were killed and 6 others were injured. ["employees of a private company" -- could it be an euphemism for "mercenaries"? -- zig] Ramadi: Iraqi troops and police in western Anbar province killed 63 insurgents during a two-hour battle, a local official said. Ahmad al-Dulaimi, chief of staff at the governor's office, said the fighting started when rebels launched an attack on a local police station and the governor's residence in Ramadi. The U.S. military could not immediately confirm the figures. Mahmudiya: A car bomb in a vegetable market killed one person and wounded two others in Mahmudiya, 30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad. Salman Pak: Near Baghdad Monday, gunmen raided a hospital and abducted two doctors, an Iraqi interior ministry official said. The kidnapping happened around 5:30 p.m. in Salman Pak, a Sunni-Shiite town about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad. Kirkuk: Police found the body of a policeman, who was kidnapped on Friday, buried in a house in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad. Two kidnappers were arrested, police said. >> NEWS Bush yesterday told the leader of Iraq's largest Shiite Muslim party that the United States is not satisfied with the progress in Iraq and appealed for more help in fighting extremism and reconciling the country's increasingly fractured society. But in a speech after their hour-long meeting, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim countered that U.S. troops need to do more to fight the insurgency and denied that the Shiite militias are fueling the sectarian strife in Iraq. It was one of the starkest criticisms of U.S. military strategy by an Iraqi leader. "The strikes [the insurgents] are getting from the multinational forces are not hard enough to put an end to their acts, but leave them to stand up again to resume their criminal acts," Hakim said in a speech at the United States Institute of Peace. "This means that there is something wrong in the policies taken to deal with that danger threatening the lives of Iraqis." The only way to eliminate the danger of a civil war, he added, was through "decisive strikes" against insurgents once loyal to former leader Saddam Hussein. "Otherwise we'll continue to witness massacres . . . against innocent Iraqis." Maliki said his government will send envoys to neighboring countries to pave the way for a regional conference on ending Iraq's rampant violence. The Shiite leader appeared to back down from previous opposition to handing neighboring nations a say in Iraqi affairs but stressed that he wants the conference to be held in Iraq and while his government would welcome help, it would not tolerate interference. Robert Gates, Bush's choice to run the Pentagon, said America was not winning in Iraq and the war would determine whether the Middle East faced a "regional conflagration." Appearing at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gates said Bush wanted him to take a fresh look at the war and that all options were on the table. "Our course over the next year or two will determine whether the American and Iraqi people and the next president of the United States will face a slowly and steadily improving situation in Iraq and in the region or will face the very real risk of a regional conflagration," Gates said. Asked by Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan if the United States was winning in Iraq, Gates replied: "No, sir." >> REPORTS According to a poll by Harris Interactive, only nine per cent of respondents think the situation for U.S. troops in Iraq is getting better, while 58 per cent believe it is getting worse. There are about 100,000 government contractors operating in Iraq, not counting subcontractors, a total that is approaching the size of the U.S. military force there, according to the military's first census of the growing population of civilians operating in the battlefield. The survey finding, which includes Americans, Iraqis and third-party nationals hired by companies operating under U.S. government contracts, is significantly higher and wider in scope than the Pentagon's only previous estimate, which said there were 25,000 security contractors in the country. It is also 10 times the estimated number of contractors that deployed during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, reflecting the Pentagon's growing post-Cold War reliance on contractors for such jobs as providing security, interrogating prisoners, cooking meals, fixing equipment and constructing bases that were once reserved for soldiers. Video: US ARMY RELEASES VIDEO OF DESTRUCTION OF MAHDI ARMY MISSILE Summary: The US military released footage on Monday showing how an assault by US aircraft destroyed a missile fired by the Mahdi Army in Baghdad's Sadr city, killing 13 militias and a 10-year old child in the process. Date: 27 November 2006 link Video: BASRA BLAMES "FOREIGN POWERS" FOR BLOODSHED IN THE COUNTRY Summary: A number of local officials and residents of the Iraqi southern city of Basra expressed their opinion on the ongoing sectarian violence ravaging the country, talking to IHA on Sunday and linking responsibility for the bloodshed to "foreign powers." Date: 26 November 2006 link Video: SADR'S TOP AIDE WARNS OF POSSIBLE CONFLICT WITH BRITISH FORCES Summary: Qarim al-Jazi, a top aide of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Basra, warned that Sadr's supporters in southern Iraq would declare a war against British forces if they were perceived as treating Iraqis in the discriminatory style the accuse the US forces of. The British government recently announced plans to withdraw British troops from Basra and hand over the area to Iraqi security control along with withdrawal of a substantial number of the 7,000 troops from Iraq in the first half of 2007. Date: 24 November 2006 link Photo essay: THE REACH OF WAR: 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines in Iraq João Silva [a Portuguese photojournalist] has captured one of the more stunning photo essays of war in some time. On contract for The New York Times, his photos this week from Iraq show the growing threat of snipers, but they also show the everyday heroism in battle. Not much more is needed to say other than WOW. I see a Robert Capa Gold Medal in Mr. Silva's future. [Heroes on Patrol in State of the Art photo blog] [Check out in the "Sniper I" section of the essay an amazing sequence that includes the "turning point" photo of the Iraq war, Marine Lance Cpl. Juan Valdez-Castillo being rescued after being shot by a sniper in Karma last November 3 -- zig] link >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS Ahmed Amr: MISTER DEATH SQUAD GOES TO WASHINGTON Welcome to the final Byzantine round of the Machiavellian Iraqi war games in Washington. Making his triumphant appearance today is none other than Abdelaziz Al-Hakim - the wise one. He's a veteran player who survived four years of preliminary elimination rounds to qualify for the final phase of what is turning out to be a truly Olympian imperial project. Behold Hakim's resplendent clerical robes. You can always spot the players who've spent a lifetime training for their roles on history's stage. No one doubts that this 'man of the cloth' will pass the drug screening tests. This late in the game, we can only hope that our designated team captain resists the temptation to drown his Mesopotamian sorrows in a bottle of gin or indulge in a snow-snorting binge. As far back as the qualifying events - when this quagmire was still a neo-con fantasy - Al-Hakim and his team mates were recruited to shower "rice and roses" on coalition forces as they cake walked their way from Basra to Baghdad. Al Hakim's resume is truly impressive. He's an Ayatollah and a son of an Ayatollah. He speaks fluent Farsi - having spent half his entire life living in exile as an honored guest of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. As a dedicated theocrat - he allied his sectarian legions of Iraqi exiles with the Iranian army in the Iran-Iraq war. It's safe to assume that he puts his faith based political doctrines above his country - a trait he shares with his host. To get a measure of the man, you need to see past Hakim's wardrobe. This guy is more than a religious missionary. He's certainly no ordinary politician. You can't even consider him a military man - although he was the leader of the Badr Brigades - the military wing of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq - SCIRI. Still, he's so much more than that. The source of his political clout is his control over the Shiite death squads that have infiltrated the American-trained security forces. And there's more to recommend this man for the task of getting "the job done." The death squads under Al Hakim's command aren't your run of the mill assassins. They usually leave their signature on their victims before grinding them up. Al Hakim's dedicated cadres like to drill holes in other people's skulls before dumping the mutilated cadavers on Baghdad's streets as a warning to any real or potential adversaries. It's not yet clear why Bush invited Mister Death Squad to Washington. But let's not 'misunderestimate' the President. This is the same POTUS who thundered from his bully pulpit that "we cannot turn a blind eye to repression because that repression is not in our back yard." What he failed to mention was that - as the need arises - we would continue to invite vicious torturers and assassins to our front yard for tea in the Rose Garden. Bush's media collaborators are already calling Hakim a 'moderate' - compared to the mercurial Moqtada Al Sadr. Some death squad leaders are apparently more reliable than others. What makes Hakim so special is that he seems such a mature thug - the kind of SOB that can be our SOB. The Badr militias have a reputation of being disciplined and heavily indoctrinated foot soldiers who follow the party line. Once they get orders to close down their torture dungeons, Hakim's loyalists will likely obey his command. Of course, that also means that the torture sessions could only have started with Hakim's explicit orders. A few pundits are suggesting that the president is using Hakim's visit as a way to build bridges to Tehran. Or maybe the administration is sending Al-Maliki a message that he should abandon his alliance with Al Sadr and stick with the scary guy from SCIRI. You never know what Bush has in mind for 'Plan Z.' By the time he figures out a new course of action - he'll need another plan. No one in his right mind is suggesting that exiting Iraq was ever going to be a tidy business. But that doesn't mean we have to ignore that the man invited to sip tea with the president is holding a common household drill dripping with blood and brain tissue. Hakim keeps trying to wipe it off with his clerical robes to the amusement of the President - who has no clothes to help out his guest. Snickering in the corner, the assembled media dignitaries mind their manners and pretend not to notice. Now, drive your imagination to some dark stink hole in Baghdad owned and operated by Al-Hakim's thugs in the interior ministry. A Baghdad University professor is tied down to a sturdy blood drenched workbench about to get his skull drilled by professionals assigned to SCIRI's torture squads. Two of his sons share his predicament. In the background, the TV is tuned to CNN. Suddenly, the drills go silent as the emperor with no clothes and the cleric with blood stained robes approach the podium to exchange pleasantries about the wonderful democratic strides taking place in Iraq. If we could only figure some way to instantly transport Hakim's den of torture to the president's front yard. What if the professor was given a few moments at the podium to give his last will and testament? Spin that. link
Robert Dreyfuss: BUSH'S MEETING WITH A MURDERER George W. Bush meets today with Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, the turbaned leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), a Shiite fundamentalist party that is strongly tied to Iran. In so doing, the president is meeting with someone who, perhaps more than anyone else in Iraq, is responsible for trying to destroy Iraqi national unity, prevent national reconciliation among Iraq's ethnic and sectarian mix, and push Iraq into civil war. Al-Hakim, who was virtually Fed-Ex'd into Iraq by the Pentagon in March 2003, was a mainstay of the Iraqi National Congress, led by neoconservative darling Ahmed Chalabi throughout the 1990s. And today al-Hakim controls the SCIRI militia, the Badr Brigade, the Iraqi interior ministry and many of Iraq's feared death squads. Not to put too fine a point on it, Hakim is a mass murderer. What's stunning about Bush's encounter with al-Hakim is that it occurs precisely at the moment when critically important bridges are being built across Iraq's Sunni-Shiite divide-bridges that al-Hakim is trying to blow up. During a stop in Amman, Jordan, on his way to the United States, al-Hakim point blank tried to torpedo the idea of an international conference that might bring together Iraq's various factions. Such a conference was explicitly proposed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week, who offered to host it. A similar conference, or one like it, is likely to be part of the recommendations that will be issued on Wednesday by the Iraq Study Group, the panel co-chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Indiana Representative Lee Hamilton. But al-Hakim trashes the idea. "It is unreasonable or incorrect to discuss issues related to the Iraqi people at international conferences," said the Shiite radical. "The proposal is unrealistic, incorrect and illegal." (It is, of course, perfectly legal.) (...) Hakim's wrecking-ball effort is taking place in the context of unprecedented efforts by leaders of Iraq's factions to create what many Iraqi leaders are calling a "government of national salvation." Such a government would topple and replace the ineffectual, clownish Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Supporters of the idea, who are getting ready to announce a National Salvation Front in Iraq, include rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, many of Iraq's Sunni leaders in and out of government, representatives of the Iraqi resistance and perhaps even some important Kurdish leaders. (...) Sadr is now reaching out to Sunni and Kurdish leaders to form an anti-occupation bloc that will represent the vast majority of Iraqi public opinion. Polls have shown that up to 80 percent of Sunni Arabs and 60 percent of Shiite Arabs want an immediate end to the occupation. Among those supporting the new National Salvation Front, along with Sadr, are Saleh Mutlaq, the Sunni leader of Iraq's National Dialogue Front; Tariq al-Hashemi, a leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party; former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, and many others. According to the Iraqi newspaper Al-Arab Al-Yawm, Mutlaq described the front as a broad cross-section of Iraqis opposed to the U.S. occupation:
Mutlaq added that the new front will include a number of groups that are not participating in the current Iraqi government including Baathists, pan-Arabists, the Founding Conference that includes 46 political movements, the old Iraqi army leadership, and tribal leaders from the middle and south of Iraq. In addition, the front will include representatives from Turcoman, Yazidi, and Kurdish patriotic leaders who are against the occupation and for Iraq's unity, and other Christian movements that believe in Iraq's unity.
Mutlaq also said that seven leading Iraqi Shiite ayatollahs will support the new grouping. Even as the National Salvation Front takes shape, there is strong evidence that Sunni and Shiite clerics are reaching out to each other. Two weeks ago, Muqtada al-Sadr demanded that Sunni clerics issue a fatwa , or religious order, condemning killings of Iraqi civilians by al-Qaida types and offering Sunni help to rebuild the domed mosque in Samarra that was destroyed in a bombing in February. It was that bombing that touched over the most severe phase of Iraq's civil war, setting of a wave of reprisal killings among Shiites and Sunnis. Since Sadr's call, several leading Sunni clerics have done as Sadr asked, according to the Los Angeles Times, including top Sunni religious leaders in Basra, Nasariyah, Amarah and Samaweh. All four were associated with the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), the leading Sunni religious group in Iraq, which has close ties to the Sunni insurgency. Not only that, but Harith al-Dhari, the leader of the AMS, issued a blunt condemnation of al-Qaida:
Al Qaeda is part of the resistance, but the resistance is of two kinds. The resistance that only resists occupation, this we support one hundred per cent. The resistance that mixes up resisting the occupation and killing innocents, even if it calls itself resistance, this we condemn.
Two weeks ago, the Iraqi interior ministry, which is heavily controlled by Hakim's SCIRI, issued an arrest warrant for al-Dhari, accusing him of maintaining ties to "terrorists." This sort of inter-communal reconciliation is precisely what Iraq needs. Furthermore, to build it will require that Iraqis come together on the one issue about which most of them agree: ending the U.S. occupation. There is, without doubt, a majority of Iraq's parliament opposed to the occupation. To create a replacement government of anti-U.S. Iraqis, who would then demand that the United States leave Iraq, would be a difficult task at best, because of the very presence of 150,000 U.S. troops and America's overbearing ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad. Furthermore, it is a fragile effort: a major assassination or targeted violence could shatter it before it even gets off the ground. Still, it is perhaps Iraq's last, best hope for ending its civil war and starting to recreate a functioning state. Against this, there is talk inside the Bush administration, of "picking a winner," of choosing sides in Iraq's civil war-which, of course, means backing the Shiites. Such a notion is a nonstarter, if for no other reason than the question: Which Shiites? For the Bush administration, it could only mean SCIRI, Hakim's band of thugs and assassins. If so, it would be the last, ugly mistake for President Bush's merry band of incompetents, bunglers and war criminals. The release of the Baker-Hamilton report on Iraq on Wednesday will signal the end of the Bush administration's neoconservative-driven war policy, and the beginning of a new, realist-dominated consensus that America's foreign policy establishment hopes will restore some of the U.S. prestige and influence that has been eviscerated by Bush's invasion of Iraq. It is too much, perhaps, to expect from the Bush administration, but here's an idea. Instead of trying to court Hakim and SCIRI to support a continued U.S. occupation of Iraq, the White House ought to acknowledge and heed the growing body of opinion in Iraq that wants the United States out, fast. read in full... Missing Links: THE DRUMBEAT OF POLARIZATION Abdulaziz al-Hakim gave a speech yesterday at the United States Institute of Peace (an institution funded by the US Congress) and the main point picked up by Reuters and thence by many others, was Hakim's attack on the "terrorist Baathists". It went like this:
We believe that the deterring factors are not up to the level of their [Baathists'] criminal activities. The strikes they are getting from the multinational forces are not hard enough to put an end to their acts, but leave them stand up again to resume their criminal acts. This means that there is something wrong in the policies taken to deal with that danger threatening the lives of the Iraqis.
Then this:
Eliminating the danger of civil war in Iraq could only be achieved through directing decisive strikes against terrorist Bathists terrorists in Iraq. Otherwise we'll continue to witness massacres being commited every now and then against innocent Iraqis.
The Reuters reporter rendered the "terrorist Bathists terrorists in Iraq" phrase as "Baathist terrorists (and other Islamists) in Iraq". Clearly in a case like this we need to refer to "Informed Comment", where Juan Cole offers this important background:
...Hakim frequently urges a hard line against the "neo-Baathists" and militant Salafi revivalists, i.e., the Sunni Arabs of Iraq.
So you have a choice in the description of the enemy: "Terrorist Bathists terrorists in Iraq", or in Juan's explanatory turn of phrase, "neo-Baathists and militant Salafi revivalists, i.e., the Sunni Arabs of Iraq". This comes at a time when Sunni Arabs of Iraq, Shiite Arabs of Iraq, and non-Arabs of Iraq are trying to form a coalition within the elected Iraqi parliament to force an end to the American occupation, summarized here and here, among other places. But what you hear in America is just the endless drumbeat of sectarian polarization. read in full...
A Tiny Revolution: BUSH ADMINISTRATION STILL PERPLEXED BY TENDENCY OF IRAQIS TO BE HUMAN BEINGS There's lots of bitter merriment to be found in the recent Iraq memo by National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley that was leaked to the NY Times. But this is my favorite part:
[Prime Minister Maliki] impressed me as a leader who wanted to be strong but was having difficulty figuring out how to do so. Maliki pointed to incidents, such as the use of Iraqi forces in Shia Karbala, to demonstrate his even hand. Perhaps because he is frustrated over his limited ability to command Iraqi forces against terrorists and insurgents, Maliki has been trying to show strength by standing up to the coalition. Hence the public spats with us over benchmarks and the Sadr City roadblocks...
(We want Maliki to exert his authority - and demonstrate to Iraqis that he is a strong leader - by taking action against extremists, not by pushing back on the United States and the Coalition.)
Let's see...the number of times in human history a government official has been popular and viewed as strong by his countrymen when he collaborates with and is propped up by a foreign occupation is...wait, let me get out my calculator here...uh, that number would be...zero. Fortunately, it will happen in Iraq for the time ever because "we want" it to. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality." link Truth About Iraqis: GREEN ZONE IRAQIS CHEER AS ABEER IS RAPED O you Iraqis of the Green Zone. All you false Iraqis earning greenbacks as your sisters are raped and your brothers are hanged. Where is your honor? In the Philippines, a US soldier rapes a girl and is put on trial IN MANILA. In Iraq, several US soldiers rape a girl, burn her body, butcher her family and try and hide the fact and you cannot even request they be put on trial in Iraq. And then you cheer the trial of Saddam. We will cheer your trials in the streets of Baghdad, Najaf, Mosul, Ramadi, Hiyt and Basra. Yallah, take leave of Iraq while you can. read in full... William Polk interview: "A FIRST STEP IS TO FACE THE REALITIES" KZ [Kevin Zeese]: Of the insurgencies you have studied, which ones provide the most relevant experience for the situation in Iraq? What do we learn from them? WP: Obviously, all insurgencies are somewhat different because they arise in countries with different cultures and experiences. However, there are persistent themes. Let me tick off a few: The first is that most are directed toward getting foreigners to leave. That was true of our own insurgency, The American Revolution; it was the main theme in the Spanish guerrilla against Napoleon, the Philippine Insurrection against us, the Irish struggle against the British, Tito's war against the German occupiers of Yugoslavia, the Vietnamese war against the French colonialists and subsequently against us, the Algerian war of national independence against the French, the Afghan and Chechen wars against the Russians and a number of others - the twentieth century produced a remarkable array of guerrilla wars! A second theme is that insurgencies seem to follow a more or less set pattern. They usually start very small, often with only a dozen or so determined men and women. Such groups are too small to conduct guerrilla warfare so they usually begin with terrorism. Then, if they are successful enough to gather more followers, arms, and money, they gradually move toward larger forms of combat, eventually acquiring the wherewithal to conduct guerrilla warfare. (...) A third theme arises from this. It is that without popular support, insurgents are powerless. Mao Tse-tung reflected this in his famous analogy of the fish and the sea. The actual combatants are the fish; they must be supported by the people, the sea, or they die. Viet Nam is a powerful example of the failure of "counterinsurgency." There (and in Iraq today) America is attacking the "fish." We have about 16,000 of them in prisons today and have killed an unknown number of thousands. These figures multiplied describe what we did in Viet Nam. But, the "sea" keeps on producing more "fish." We were so frustrated there that we tried (as did the Russians in Afghanistan) to destroy the country. Neither the Russians nor we could do it. What Viet Nam should have taught us is that the only way to end the war is to get out. The fourth theme is one that is most often either overlooked or downplayed. It is that insurgency is not about military combat so much as about politics. I have a shelf full of books that dwell on weapons, tactics, even uniforms of combatants, but very few observers have grasped the central point that all successful guerrilla leaders have known: either the people are brought aboard politically or the movement fails. The last theme I will mention here directly pertains to Iraq but is also demonstrated in Algeria: when the insurgency and the counterinsurgency last a long time, both the natives and the foreigners become brutalized. Pushed further, societies implode. Algeria, nearly half a century after achieving independence still has not recovered its civic "balance." That process is now at work in Iraq. It is a wounded society and will take a generation or so to return to "normality." The longer we stay, the harder it will be. And, let us not forget, the costs to us will also rise as we have discussed in Out of Iraq. (...) So what to do? There is no easy answer. But a first step is to face the realities: we have had over 2,800 young men and women killed. There would have been many more but for the superb medical technology we have. Well over 20,000 have been wounded of whom about half will never recover. And additional 40,000 or perhaps many more have suffered severe psychological damage and about an additional 50,000 have received severe or multiple concussions. Thousands more will develop cancer or have malformed children as a result of the explosion of depleted uranium shells (which as the noted biologist, Dr. Hans Noll has informed me), generate an extremely toxic form of uranium oxide in the form of U3O8. Dr. Noll says that "there is persuasive evidence that most of the Gulf War Syndrome is caused by the neurotoxicity of U3O8 and not by post-traumatic stress disorder, as claimed by the Pentagon." The victims will pay for these effects for the rest of their lives - and so will tax payers. I find that Americans do feel the pain when hit in that most sensitive of organs, their pocket books. When I have mentioned to audiences around America the costs estimated by some of our very best economists, between $1 and $2 trillion, that got the attention of even the most bellicose. We have a long way to go. -- William Polk is co-author with George McGovern of "Out of Iraq". He taught at Harvard University from 1955 to 1961 when President Kennedy appointed him a Member of the Policy Planning Council of the United States Department of State. read in full… >> BEYOND IRAQ Afghanistan: A British Royal Marine was killed and a second wounded on Tuesday in a battle with Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan, the UK Helmand Task Force (UKTF) said. British troops attacked a Taliban-held valley but withdrew after a 10-hour battle with fighters who launched a ferocious counterattack that withstood airstrikes and artillery fire. [my emphasis -- zig] A suicide bomber targeted a Canadian convoy in Kandahar city, wounding two soldiers and six Afghan civilians. The bomber, driving a minivan, detonated his load between a Nyala RG 31 armoured vehicle and a transport truck, said a Canadian Press reporter travelling with the convoy. The two Canadians in the truck suffered cuts and bruises when the 90-kilogram glass windshield blew in on them from the force of the blast. The bomber's body was seen laying face-down a nearby ditch. Tuesday's attack happened on the same stretch of road where two Canadian soldiers were killed last Monday. German authorities have informed NATO-led troops in Afghanistan that two journalists may have been kidnapped in the country's volatile south, NATO's spokesman said Tuesday. The two journalists, whose identities and media organization were not identified. Der Spiegel: THE TALIBAN GETS CLOSER TO KABUL The regeneration of the Taliban -- which has retaken control of parts of southern Afghanistan -- is no longer fresh news to anyone. But are the insurgent forces preparing to launch a series of attacks on the capital city of Kabul, which is home to peacekeeping troops, the Afghan government and non-government organizations that are helping to rebuild the war-torn country? The leadership of Germany's military, the Bundeswehr, fear that Taliban attacks on the Afganistan capital of Kabul will likely increase in the coming months. According to a classified report on the state of Afghanistan obtained by SPIEGEL, "militant opposition forces" have made it clear that they will focus fighting during the winter "on the country's largest cities." The security situation has already "visibly deteriorated" in two districts located just 10 kilometers from Kabul's city limits -- to the point that Afghan security forces don't even dare to patrol the streets at night. The report warned that Taliban fighters could use the district as "gateways" to Kabul and also as place where they could stage future attacks. According to the report, Taliban fighters are smuggled into the districts in small "groups of up to eight men," and they often blend in with the population by staying in the homes of local residents for several days at a time. read in full... Abid Mustafa: 21ST AMERICAN CENTURY IS ABOUT TO END Throughout the Muslim world America's credibility has plummeted to an all-time low. The ferocity of the resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan has broken the back of the US army and forced President Bush to abandon his plans to advance democracy. Bush unable to extricate America from Iraq and Afghanistan has had to revert to the 'Truman Doctrine' and seek the help of secular autocracies like Syria, Iran and Pakistan. Instead of reshaping the Muslim world in America's image, the nefarious policies of the Bush administration has Islamised the region, politicised the Muslim masses to awaken from their spiritual slumber and galvanised the Muslim intelligentsia into a powerful force for political Islam- to sum up the last six years- it is suffice to say that America is precipitating the birth of the Caliphate. After two decades of dominating world affairs, America finds itself at the mercy of her friends and enemies. Graham Fuller former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council described America's predicament correctly when he wrote in the latest issue of the National Interest, "diverse countries have deployed a multiplicity of strategies and tactics designed to weaken, divert, alter, complicate, limit delay or block the Bush agenda through death by a thousand cuts." So what happens after America has fallen from its perch as the world's sole super power? Europe is too divided to take up the mantle of the leading state. Russia has yet to translate her economic strength into political capital to position herself as the pre-eminent power. Both China and India lack the political will and the experience to affect world politics. For the foreseeable future, both countries will be confined to their respective spheres of influence. The country that wishes to supplant America must possess a huge population, abundant resources, a universal ideology and the political will to succeed. The most obvious candidate is the Muslim world under the Caliphate, which Bush has often spoken about. read in full... QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I have long agreed with the thesis that the chances of success [in Iraq] were nil no matter how well the 'plan' (whatever it was) was carried out. And I am fully prepared to wade through the many comments that will inevitably come stating that this is all part of a grand plan for oil or permanent bases or world domination or whatever, which will all be true to some extent or another. But as word finally begins to trickle out from this previously leak-proof administration, it's becoming clear that John DiUlio's early observations of the Mayberry Machiavellis was spot on. There was no 'plan.' There was just wishin' and hopin' and competing visions and magical thinking. It was as bad as any of us imagined in our craziest blog posts." -- from Iraq: The War of the Imagination by Mark Danner


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?