Thursday, December 21, 2006


"I'm not going to make predictions about what 2007 will look like in Iraq except that it's going to require difficult choices and additional sacrifices…”

– George W. Bush, Press Conference, December 20, 2006, discussing sacrifices he and his family will not have to make.

"The people sending our kids over there, their kids aren't over there so they don't know my pain. I wish I could give them my pain so they could know what it's like for five minutes. I'm angry because so many of our kids get killed. I appreciate our kids protecting us but it's not their fight. We've been put into place to fight someone else's battle."

– Annie Washington, interview published December 21, 2006, on the death of her daughter, Army Major Gloria Scott-Davis, killed while serving her second tour of duty in Baghdad. Ms. Washington’s son is also serving in Iraq and will be flying home for the funeral.

Additional sacrifices…

Al Anbar Province

One Soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Tuesday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province.

One Marine assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died today from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province.


An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier in a southern neighborhood of the Iraqi capital Dec. 20. The combat patrol was conducting a route clearance mission in order to free the roads of any possible dangers. As they conducted their mission, a roadside bomb exploded near one of their vehicles, killing one and wounding two other Soldiers.

An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier southwest of the Iraqi capital Dec. 20. The dismounted combat patrol was on the way to investigate an explosion that occurred in the area when a roadside bomb detonated. As a result of the explosion, four Soldiers were wounded and one Soldier was killed.

76 anonymous bodies were found in Baghdad today. 63 were found in the west part of Baghdad ( Karkh) and only 13 found in the east part of Baghdad

An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier south of the Iraqi capital Dec. 20. The mounted combat patrol was escorting personnel to their forward operating base when a roadside bomb detonated. Three Soldiers were wounded and one Soldier killed in the blast.

Iraq's Olympic cycling coach was killed after gunmen kidnapped him from his home in the latest attack on one of the nation's sports figures, officials said. Family members identified the body of 48-year-old Mahoud Ahmed Fulayih at the central morgue in the capital on Monday, two days after he was abducted, said Hussein al-Amidi, the acting secretary general of Iraq's National Olympic Committee.

A suicide bomber blew up among a group of police volunteers today, killing at least 14 people and wounded 21 others, police said. The attack occurred at 7.15am at a police academy in eastern Baghdad, authorities said. The attacker was wearing a belt laden with explosives, and at least two of the dead were policemen.

A roadside bomb, which was thought to have targeted a US military convoy, also exploded to the north of the city, injuring one civilian.

A roadside bomb targeting a U.S. military patrol wounded a civilian in Adhamiya district in northern Baghdad, police said.

Two people were killed and two others wounded when a car bomb went off at a Baghdad southwestern neighborhood on Thursday, a well-informed police source said. "An explosive-laden car detonated at the al-Amil neighborhood at about 1:00 p.m. (1000 GMT), killing two civilians and wounding two others," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Iraqi soldiers killed 12 insurgents and arrested 56 others over the past 24 hours in different parts of Iraq, the Defence Ministry said.

Two women were killed and one child was injured when mortar rounds landed in a Shiite area south of Baghdad, police said.


Yet further violence occurred in the oil refining town of Baiji when two policemen were killed by a suicide bomber who rammed their checkpoint with his car.

Balad Ruz

A governmental source in Baladrooz town east of Baqouba city (60 kms north of Baghdad) said that 2 civilians were killed and 8 were injured when an insurgents group from Dainiya neighborhood targeted civilians in Shakori village in the same town early morning today.

A police source in Baladrooz city said that the explosions experts defused two IEDs which were laid near the shops of two Kurdish businessmen.

Diyala Province

A town pharmacist and his brother were shot dead when gunmen burst into their shop in the flashpoint province of Diyala, north of Baghdad


In the southern holy Shiite city of Karbala, a former member of Saddam Hussein's defunct Baath party was killed in a drive-by shooting.


A military official in the 5th division of the Iraqi army said that a soldier was killed and 3 others were wounded when a group of more than 30 insurgents attacked early morning today a military checkpoint in Abo Al Nakhal district in Khalis city north of Baqouba city. The source confirmed that 5 insurgents were killed.


Gunmen killed a man and his wife on Wednesday in Kirkuk, police said

A suicide car bomber rammed his car into an Iraqi army checkpoint, killing one soldier and wounding four on Wednesday in a town near Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

Two policemen were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near the convoy of police Colonel Adnan Mohammed in Kirkuk, police said

In the northern oil capital of Kirkuk, a local police chief escaped an assassination attempt while gunmen shot dead a civilian in the same area.


A Polish soldier has been wounded in Iraq. The soldier was shot in the arm in an exchange of fire not far from base Delta in Al Kud. His life is not in danger.

The morgue in Kut, 25 miles south of the capital, received the bodies of five victims of violence. Two were decapitated, with hands and legs bound, and the other three were pulled from the Tigris river, a morgue official said.


The body of a man was found shot dead in Mosul on Wednesday, police said.

Gunmen killed a man in Mosul, police said.

In the northern city of Mosul, gunmen killed five civilians in separate shootings

A roadside bomb targeting a U.S. military patrol wounded two civilians in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

Medical figures showed that 55 bodies were found in scattered areas of Mosul city during December 2006.


One woman was killed when two rockets hit a police station in Ramadi on Tuesday, the U.S. military said, adding that a man, a woman and a 12-year-old child were also wounded.

Several mortars landed near a police station wounding three women on Wednesday in the restive city of Ramadi, 110 km (68 miles) west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.


Gunmen killed police Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed Saleh on Wednesday in Tikrit, 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

Many thanks to whisker for the links. -m

Women in Iraq: Almost four years into the Bush Administration's ill fated adventure in Iraq, Iraqi women are worse off than they were under the Baathist regime in a country where, for decades, the freedoms and rights enjoyed by Iraqi women were the envy of women in most other countries of the Middle East.

Before the U.S. invasion, Iraqi women had high levels of education. Their strong and independent women's movement had successfully forced Saddam's government to pass the groundbreaking 1959 Family Law Act which ensured equal rights in matters of personal law. Iraqi women could inherit land and property; they had equal rights to divorce and custody of their children; they were protected from domestic violence within the marriage. In other words, they had achieved real gains in the struggle for equality between women and men. Iraqi women, like all Iraqis, certainly suffered from the political repression and lack of freedom, but the secular -- albeit brutal -- Baathist regime protected women from the religious extremism that denies freedom to a majority of women in the Arab world.

The invasion of Iraq, however, changed the status of Iraqi women for the worse. Iraq's new colonial power, the United States, elevated a new group of leaders, most of who were allied with ultra conservative Shia clerics. Among the Sunni minority, the quick disappearance of their once dominant political power led to a resurgence of religious identity. Consequently, the Kurds, celebrated for their history of resistance to the Iraqi dictator, were able to reclaim traditions like honor killings, putting thousands of women at risk.

Iraqi sectarian conflict has exacerbated violence against women, making women's bodies the battlefields on which vendettas and threats are played out.

Iraqi Politics

Reconciliation coalition: Delegates representing Shiite groups forming the largest bloc in Iraq's parliament gathered Thursday at the home of the country's top Shiite cleric to seek his blessing for a new coalition that would promote national reconciliation.

Many of the delegates traveled late Wednesday to the holy city of Najaf, where they were meeting Thursday morning with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, an official in the cleric's office said. The others were traveling to Najaf on Thursday.

The delegates were also expected to meet with radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr about joining the political process and reining in his fighters, Shiite officials said. Al-Sadr heads a militia feared by Iraq's Sunnis, and his supporters pulled out of the political process three weeks ago.

Until the walkout, al-Sadr's faction had been an integral part of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's governing coalition. Cabinet ministers and legislators who belong to al-Sadr's movement called the boycott after al-Maliki met with President Bush in Jordan three weeks ago. Al-Sadr's militia and its offshoots have been increasingly blamed for sectarian attacks.

As violence rages across Baghdad and much of Iraq, a new coalition taking shape among Shiites, Kurds and one Sunni party is seen as an ultimate effort to form a government across sectarian divisions that have split the country. While al-Sadr's movement would not be part of this coalition, such an alliance — which reportedly is supported by the Bush administration — might pressure the radical cleric to soften his stance.

In Thursday's meeting, the group wants to assure al-Sistani that the new coalition would not break apart the Shiite bloc, said officials from several Shiite parties. Potential members of the coalition said they have been negotiating for two weeks, and now want the blessing of al-Sistani, whose word many Shiites consider binding.

Najaf handover: U.S. forces ceded control of southern Najaf province to Iraqi police and soldiers, who marked the occasion Wednesday with a parade and martial arts demonstrations. But doubts remain about whether the Iraqis, vulnerable to insurgent attacks and militia infiltration, can handle security in more volatile provinces anytime soon.

In one of those provinces, Baghdad, police found 76 bodies, some of them blindfolded and handcuffed, on Wednesday. Many of the victims had been shot and some showed signs of torture, a police officer said on condition of anonymity for safety reasons. Two suicide car bombings also killed at least 19 people in the capital.

The handover of Najaf came as new Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Baghdad, seeking advice from top commanders on a new strategy for an increasingly unpopular war just two days after taking charge at the Pentagon. Roadside bombs took the lives of two more U.S. soldiers, one in Baghdad and the other southwest of the capital.

Bush’s Press Conference

Yes, it’s safe to say there will be more losses: Acknowledging deepening frustration over Iraq, President Bush said Wednesday he is considering an increase in American forces and warned that next year will bring more painful U.S. losses. New Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in Baghdad that a troop surge was an obvious option.

Bush was unusually candid at a year-end news conference about U.S. setbacks and dashed hopes in the war, which has claimed the lives of more than 2,950 U.S. military members.

He said "2006 was a difficult year for our troops and the Iraqi people. We began the year with optimism" but that faded as extremists fomented sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites.

"And over the course of the year they had success," the president acknowledged. "Their success hurt our efforts to help the Iraqis rebuild their country, it set back reconciliation, it kept Iraq's unity government and our coalition from establishing security and stability throughout the country."

The Decider will decide how many troops the generals need: The debate over sending more U.S. troops to Iraq intensified yesterday as President Bush signaled that he will listen but not necessarily defer to balky military officers, while Gen. John P. Abizaid, his top Middle East commander and a leading skeptic of a so-called surge, announced his retirement.

At an end-of-the-year news conference, Bush said he agrees with generals "that there's got to be a specific mission that can be accomplished" before he decides to dispatch an additional 15,000 to 30,000 troops to the war zone. But he declined to repeat his usual formulation that he will heed his commanders on the ground when it comes to troop levels.

Bush sought to use the 52-minute session, held in the ornate Indian Treaty Room in a building adjacent to the White House, to sum up what he called "a difficult year for our troops and the Iraqi people" and reassure the American public that "we enter this new year clear-eyed about the challenges in Iraq." Asked about his comment to The Washington Post this week that the United States is neither winning nor losing the war, Bush pivoted forward. "Victory in Iraq is achievable," he said.

The tension between the White House and the Joint Chiefs of Staff over the proposed troop increase has come to dominate the administration's post-election search for a new strategy in Iraq. The uniformed leadership has opposed sending additional forces without a clear mission, seeing the idea as ill-formed and driven by a desire in the White House to do something different even without a defined purpose.

When will these MSM liberal propagandists get it? No defined purpose? What a slander on the Leader! Of course there’s a defined purpose – to show the Decider being decisive! Any red-blooded American soldier should be willing to give up a limb or two for that! Geez! -m

Another hundred billion dollars without the ‘surge’: The Pentagon wants the White House to seek an additional $99.7 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to information provided to The Associated Press.

The military's request, if embraced by President Bush and approved by Congress, would boost this year's budget for those wars to about $170 billion.

Military planners assembled the proposal at a time when Bush is developing new strategies for Iraq, such as sending thousands of more U.S. troops there, although it was put together before the president said the troop surge was under consideration.

Overall, the war in Iraq has cost about $350 billion. Combined with the conflict in Afghanistan and operations against terrorism elsewhere, the cost has topped $500 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

The additional funds, if approved, would push this year's cost of the war in Iraq to about $50 billion over last year's record. In September, Congress approved an initial $70 billion for the current budget year, which began Oct. 1.


Charges to be filed: After an investigation that's lasted more than a year, criminal charges will be filed today in the alleged Haditha massacre in which 24 civilians in an Iraqi town were killed.

A news conference has been scheduled for this afternoon at the large Marine base, Camp Pendleton in California, to announce the criminal charges that range from dereliction of duty to murder.

Military sources told ABC News that at least eight Marines will face criminal charges in connection with the alleged murder of the civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha, on Nov. 19, 2005.

The most serious charges are expected to be filed against five Marines who were on the scene of the killings, including squad leader Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich.

Support Lt. Watada!

A whole Army full of officers and only one 1st looie has the stones to stand up for the Constitution: A highly sympathetic crowd of a few hundred people gave Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada standing ovations before, during and after a speech at the Church of the Crossroads in Moiliili.

Watada, a Honolulu native, faces court-martial in Fort Lewis, Wash., next month on six counts for refusing to deploy to Iraq and for conduct unbecoming an officer, charges that carry a maximum six years' imprisonment. He was back in Honolulu to meet with his attorney and visit with family.

Watada acknowledged that his actions have divided the community. "That was not my intent," he said. But upon learning the facts of the war, he said he was in turmoil.

He called the war in Iraq an illegal war of aggression.

He quoted Nazi Germany's Hermann Goering, who said while the common people are usually not willing to go to war, "all you have to do is tell them they are being attacked."

Watada said the American people were deceived by the Bush administration, which manipulated intelligence to fit policy and regime change in Iraq.

"We have been lied to, deceived and betrayed," he said. "A crime has been committed against the constitution."

Screwed By The Washington Post

An apology to our readers: Yesterday I headed the day’s entry with a pair of quotes from GW Bush, one from a couple months ago about how we’re absolutely winning in Iraq, and then one purportedly from an interview the day before where he said we are neither winning or losing. It turns out that the second quote was misattributed by the WaPo, that actually Bush was himself quoting one of his generals. Now, I’m never one to turn down an opportunity to highlight what a dishonest hypocritical thuggish self-aggrandizing heartless plutocrat megalomaniac our Commander in Chief is, but I do like to use accurate quotes to do it. Nitpicker, guest blogging at Unclaimed Territory, explains why that’s important:

“Do I think we're a nation led by a dolt? I most certainly do, but that doesn't mean I want the press feeding my beliefs or the beliefs of others by misrepresenting what is said. I want the truth. Those on the right will cry bullshit about the headline of the Post article and they'll be correct in doing so. The press needs to learn that the "media critics" on the right are, in a way, like the Iraqi insurgents: They will use a small error to create big damage. Every time a member of the press writes an article like this one, they give the right more ammunition to chip away at their credibility. From now until doomsday, Brent Bozell will always be able to fall back on "If the press is so balanced, then why did they say Bush said we're not winning in Iraq?" All he--and others like him--are looking for is an opportunity to cloud the issue, to give their believers on the right, as I've said, permission to not believe the press.”

Read the whole thing, it’s worth the time. -m

Analysis, Opinion, Commentary

Eric Boehlert on the recent murder of AP photographer Aswan Ahmed Lutfallah: Warbloggers are obsessed with all things AP, or the "Associated (with terrorists) Press," as Malkin subtly calls it. Which brings us back to news of Lutfallah's death and the odd silence that emanated from the warblogs -- and by odd, I mean, wildly hypocritical, because the silence sprang from the fact that the circumstances of Lutfallah's murder didn't fit the warbloggers' ideological script. Namely, that Lutfallah was executed by insurgents, which completely undermined the warbloggers' theory that the AP enjoys close ties to terrorists.

According to warblogger logic, the insurgents should have made sure Lutfallah got the best film of the gun fight with police; in fact, insurgents might have even tipped him off that a battle was going to take place. That's how the drill is supposed to work. Yet insurgents in Mosul, after seeing the AP cameraman filming and then identifying him, approached the father of two and emptied five bullets into his body, took his equipment, cell phone, and press ID. They shot him like a dog in the street.

So much for the AP and insurgents working in concert.

You can be sure that if Lutfallah had been killed by Iraqi police during the gun battle and warbloggers in any way could have portrayed him as an enemy, they would have howled about Lutfallah's death for days, smearing his name with all sorts of terrorist innuendos and demanding that the AP explain itself. But when word came that an AP journalist had been executed by Iraqi insurgents, the warbloggers knew to keep quiet.

Of course, for anybody who's paid even passing attention to events in Iraq, the killing of Lutfallah was, sadly, not unique. Insurgents for years have targeted journalists for kidnappings, beheadings, and assassinations. As CNN international correspondent Michael Ware recently noted, "In terms of the insurgency, [journalists] are seen as legitimate targets: part of the problem, not the solution."

Will Bunch on Fox News and treasonous scumbag Oliver North: Maj. McClung was a true hero of an American free press, risking and ultimately sacrificing her life to make sure that the U.S. public could continue to get news from our military efforts in Iraq. She died seeking to help reporters like those from Fox News get a real fair and balanced picture of what was happening in Ramadi, and now Fox has both disgraced and diminished her sacrifice by giving out false information on attacks and then ignoring both the very fact, let alone the circumstances, of McClung's death.

Here's something else that Fox didn't cover: McClung was buried yesterday in Arlington National Cemetery. The story of her death but mainly her life -- energetic and outgoing, a gymnast and triathlete who created a marathon for the troops in Iraq -- is a compelling one that has been and should be recognized by real journalists, if not by the posers at Fox News. Megan McClung was a true patriot and a true Marine -- things that Ollie North cannot claim today. Where is the "Semper Fi" is his willful TV ignoring of his comrade's death?

The truth is that Oliver North has been forgiven for many things on his life, including a central role in a scandalous assault on the U.S. Constitution and an overturned felony conviction that only slowed his march to a life of affluent comfort as a right-wing pundit. But now, Lt. Col. Oliver North has left behind a fellow Marine, in the consciousness of her country, where she belongs. And that is truly unforgivable.

Pat Murphy on history’s greatest DefSec: This is the Bush style, however, when dealing with favored incompetents screwing up the Iraq calamity. CIA chief George Tenet, who cooked up lies about non-existent weapons of mass destruction, and L. Paul Bremer, the Iraq occupation majordomo who impulsively disbanded the Iraqi Army only now to have it reorganized, were fired and then given the Medal of Freedom for their "outstanding" work.

The Rumsfeld honors, however, were a special slap at American GIs who've endured Rumsfeld's bungling.

Rumsfeld blew off GI complaints of being under-equipped as "you to go to war with the Army you've got."

He blew off generals when they complained they needed more troops. Now the consequences: U.S. forces unable to control violence while Bush finally ponders sending more troops three years late.

Rumsfeld tolerated—or encouraged?—abuse and torture of prisoners in Iraq and those spirited away to foreign countries.

He presided over the fraud and incompetence of no-bid contractors hired to rebuild Iraq infrastructure. The country still lacks sufficient electricity and its once-booming oil production is so paltry even local gasoline is in short supply.

And this "greatest" Defense secretary was so hopelessly unskilled as a planner and tactician that troop shortages were made up by sending units to Iraq three and four times as well as canceling and extending enlistment contracts. Exasperated Pentagon officers finally are telling Congress the military is "broken" from long tours and loss of equipment.

Now the military that suffered Rumsfeld is awaiting the post-New Year decision of Bush, another worthy in the field of military genius, on repairing the Iraq mess.

Bush doesn't want to be "rushed." He gave Rumsfeld three years and nine months after the Iraq invasion, $400 billion in funds, the lives of nearly 3,000 GIs and another 25,000 wounded, apparently not time or treasure enough to get it right.

Andrew Buncombe on the delusions of our leaders: With polls showing that only a third of Americans now support the war and with Republicans still licking their wounds from the midterm election defeat, Mr Bush is under pressure to announce a new strategy for a war that has cost the lives of almost 3,000 US troops, 126 British soldiers and perhaps more than 655,000 Iraqis. He is due to announce plans early in the new year.

Since the publication of the Iraq Study Group's (ISG) report, which recommended a short-term bolstering of Iraqi forces, there has been increasing speculation Mr Bush could order an additional 30,000 troops to Iraq. There is said to be considerable concern about such a plan among his military commanders who have raised doubts about the likely impact of an increase.

Additionally, Mr Bush's critics have seized on such a plan as more evidence that the President is out of touch with both the reality in Iraq and the mood of the country. "Bush does not seem to have understood the message of mid-term elections," said Andrew Burgin, spokesman of the Stop the War Coalition. "It's a fantasy to believe that the American people will agree to increased numbers of American troops being killed in Iraq .It's the same with [Tony] Blair and people like Margaret Beckett. The whole political class appears to be out of touch with how this war started, what is happening in Iraq now and what the future holds."

Senator Harry Reid on the ‘surge’: Frankly, I don't believe that more troops is the answer for Iraq. It's a civil war and America should not be policing a Sunni-Shia conflict. In addition, we don't have the additional forces to put in there. We obviously want to support what commanders in the field say they need, but apparently even the Joint Chiefs do not support increased combat forces for Baghdad. My position on Iraq is simple:

1. I believe we should start redeploying troops in 4 to 6 months (The Levin-Reed Plan) and complete the withdrawal of combat forces by the first quarter of 2008. (As laid out by the Iraq Study Group)

2. The President must understand that there can only be a political solution in Iraq, and he must end our nation's open-ended military commitment to that country.

3. These priorities need to be coupled with a renewed diplomatic effort and regional strategy.

I do not support an escalation of the conflict. I support finding a way to bring our troops home and would look at any plan that gave a roadmap to this goal.

It's been two weeks since the Iraq Study Group released its plan to change the course and bring our troops home. Since then, the President has been on a fact finding tour of his own administration -- apparently ignoring the facts presented by those in the military who know best. The President needs to put forth a plan as soon as possible, one that reflects the reality on the ground in Iraq and that withdraws our troops from the middle of this deadly civil war.

Sidney Blumenthal on The New Way Forward ™: Bush's touted but unexplained "new way forward" (his version of the ISG's "the way forward") may be the first order of battle, complete with details of units, maps and timetables, ever posted on the Web site of a think tank. "I will not be rushed," said Bush. But apparently he has already accepted the latest neoconservative program, artfully titled with catchphrases appealing to his desperation -- "Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq" -- and available for reading on the site of the American Enterprise Institute.

The author of this plan is Frederick W. Kagan, a neoconservative at the AEI and the author of a new book, "Finding the Target: The Transformation of American Military Policy," replete with up-to-date neocon scorn of Bush as "simplistic," Donald Rumsfeld as "fatuous," and even erstwhile neocon icon Paul Wolfowitz, former deputy secretary of defense and currently president of the World Bank, as "self-serving." Among the others listed as "participants" in drawing up the plan are various marginal and obscure figures including, notably, Danielle Pletka, a former aide to Sen. Jesse Helms; Michael Rubin, an aide to the catastrophic Coalition Provisional Authority; and retired Maj. Gen. Jack Keane, the former deputy Army chief of staff.

This rump group of neocons is the battered remnant left of the phalanx that once conjured up grandiose visions of conquest and blowtorched ideological ground for Bush. Although neocons are still entrenched in the Vice President's Office and on the National Security Council, they mostly feel that their perfect ideas have been the victims of imperfect execution. Rather than accepting any responsibility for the ideas themselves, they blame Rumsfeld and Bush. Meyrav Wurmser, a research fellow at the neoconservative Hudson Institute, whose husband, David Wurmser, is a Middle East advisor on Dick Cheney's staff, recently vented the neocons' despair to an Israeli news outlet: "This administration is in its twilight days. Everyone is now looking for work, looking to make money ... We all feel beaten after the past five years." But they are not so crushed that they cannot summon one last ragged Team B to provide a manifesto for a cornered president.

"Choosing Victory" is a prophetic document, a bugle call for an additional 30,000 troops to fight a decisive Napoleonic battle for Baghdad. (Its author, Kagan, has written a book on Napoleon.) It assumes that through this turning point the Shiite militias will melt away, the Sunni insurgents will suffer defeat and from the solid base of Baghdad security will radiate throughout the country. The plan also assumes that additional combat teams that actually take considerable time to assemble and train are instantly available for deployment. And it dismisses every diplomatic initiative proposed by the Iraq Study Group as dangerously softheaded. Foremost among the plan's assertions is that there is still a military solution in Iraq -- "victory."

Bob Burnett on why Bush can’t admit failure in Iraq: The US hasn't met its goals and objectives: We haven't liberated the "Iraqi people from tyranny;" we've replaced the savagery of Saddam Hussein with a civil war. And, we haven't "minimize [d] the danger of regional instabilities" or deterred "Iran and Syria from helping Iraq." If we haven't met our intended goals and objectives after nearly four years of occupation, why does the President insist on "staying the course"? There are four possible explanations for his intransigence: The first is that Bush holds out hope that his goals and objectives can still be accomplished. He believes in perseverance. Nonetheless, another President, Lyndon Johnson, famously observed that no matter how hard your try, "you can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit." Trying harder can't salvage the occupation of Iraq; it's broken beyond repair. The second explanation is Bush's fear of the "danger of regional instabilities." He's afraid that if we leave, the government of Iraq will fail, there will be a full-scale civil war and, as a result, Sunnis will fight Shiites throughout the Middle East. There is a civil war in Iraq, but no indication it will spread. Bush also believes that if we leave "before the job is done," it would be seen as a victory for terrorists; Al Qaida would claim they'd forced us out. However, experts tell us that Al Qaida and foreign fighters represent a small percentage of the insurgency; these experts say that when we leave, locals will throw out the foreigners. Furthermore, this logic is being proffered by the same President who, in the run up to the war, assured Americans that after the invasion, Iraqis would greet us as liberators and, therefore, we didn't need a plan for the occupation. He didn't understand Iraq then and Americans have no reason to believe he does now. The third reason the President gives for not leaving Iraq has to do with America's Image. He believes acknowledging our failure would have a negative impact on our reputation: other nations will not take us seriously and, as a consequence, the world will be less safe. Of course, it's not clear that other nations take us seriously now, as we've failed to meet our goals and objectives for Iraq. There's a fourth explanation for why Bush refuses to admit we've failed in Iraq: he doesn't want to be labeled a "loser." While the President's attitude is understandable, it's not a sufficient reason for the US to stay in Iraq. Admitting we've failed has a big upside: It will hasten the return of our troops and dramatically reduce our Defense expenditures. It will permit the US to focus our energy on Afghanistan and the pursuit of Al Qaida. And, it should precipitate a major dialogue on homeland security; discussion of whether we are actually doing what need to do to protect ourselves. There's another important reason to admit we've failed in Iraq: we can't learn from our mistake unless we admit that we made one. One of the primary reasons Americans should acknowledge the invasion of Iraq was a mistake and the occupation a debacle, is that such an admission will lead us to ask provocative questions: why did the Bush Administration deceive us, why did Congress go along with this, and why was the press so acquiescent? In the final analysis, that's probably why Dubya remains intransigent on Iraq. He doesn't want to admit he made a series of ghastly mistakes, because that would open Pandora's box: Americans would insist on answers to a host of embarrassing questions about our Iraqi goals, objectives, and strategies. We'd want to understand why we failed in Iraq. Inevitably that inquiry would reach one conclusion: there was a failure of leadership by George W. Bush.

Anthony Arnove on why no option but withdrawal is valid: All of the reasons being offered for why the United States cannot withdraw troops from Iraq are false. The reality is, the troops are staying in Iraq for much different reasons than the ones being touted by political elites and a still subservient establishment press. They are staying to save face for a U.S. political elite that cares nothing for the lives of Iraqis or U.S. soldiers; to pursue the futile goal of turning Iraq into a reliable client state strategically located near the major energy resources and shipping routes of the Middle East, home to two-thirds of world oil reserves, and Western and Central Asia; to serve as a base for the projection of U.S. military power in the region, particularly in the growing conflict between the United States and Iran; and to maintain the legitimacy of U.S. imperialism, which needs the pretext of a global war on terror to justify further military intervention, expanded military budgets, concentration of executive power, and restrictions on civil liberties.

The U.S. military did not invade and occupy Iraq to spread democracy, check the spread of weapons of mass destruction, rebuild the country, or stop civil war. In fact, the troops remain in Iraq today to deny self-determination and genuine democracy to the Iraqi people, who have made it abundantly clear, whether they are Shiite or Sunni, that they want U.S. troops to leave Iraq immediately; feel less safe as a result of the occupation; think the occupation is spurring not suppressing sectarian strife; and support armed attacks on occupying troops and Iraqi security forces, who are seen not as independent but as collaborating with the occupation.

It is not only the Iraqi people who oppose the occupation of their country and want to see the troops leave. A clear majority of people in the United States have expressed the same sentiment in major opinion polls and in the mid-term Congressional elections, which swing both houses of Congress and the majority of state governorships to the Democrats, in a clear vote against the imperial arrogance of Bush's "stay the course" approach to the disaster in Iraq. The public did not vote for more money for the Pentagon (as incoming Senate majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada immediately promised, announcing a plan to give $75 billion more to the Pentagon), for more "oversight" of the war (the main Democratic Party buzzword these days), or for more troops (as Texas Democrat Representative Silvestre Reyes, the incoming chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has demanded), but to begin bringing the troops home. A clear majority of active-duty U.S. troops want the same thing, as a much-ignored Zogby International poll found in early 2005, with 72 percent saying they wanted to be out of Iraq by the end of 2006.

But Bush's response to the groundswell of opposition to the war, which has led not only to his setbacks in the midterm elections but to even further erosion in his already abysmal approval ratings (with approval of his handling of the war reaching a new low of 27 percent), is to insist that the sun still revolves around the earth. "Absolutely, we're winning," Bush told reporters. "I know there's a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there's going to be some kind of graceful exit from Iraq," Bush said. "This business about a graceful exit just simply has no realism to it whatsoever," he added. "We're going to stay in Iraq to get the job done."

St. Louis Post-Exchange editorial on The New Way Forward ™: Last summer, President George W. Bush and his war-planners launched "Operation Forward Together," sending 4,000 additional U.S. troops into a joint operation with the Iraqi army to secure Baghdad. Some Iraqi forces had a noticeable lack of enthusiasm for the task, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was reluctant to antagonize his Shiite political base, so Operation Forward Together was a miserable failure.

Now Bush and Pentagon planners are contemplating what should be called (but probably won't be) "Operation Forward By Ourselves." At least 15,000, and possibly up to 30,000, additional U.S. troops would be "surged" into Baghdad to put down the civil war between Sunni and Shiite forces.

This idea is so breathtakingly bad in so many ways that it's almost unimaginable. Given an opportunity by the findings of the Iraq Study Group to begin rational disengagement in Iraq, Bush apparently has decided instead to wade deeper into the swamp. Debacle? What debacle?

Chris Floyd on the Bush administration’s real priorities in Iraq: …it beggars belief to imagine that Blair and Bush (or at least the latter's chief advisers) do not know that they have helped form many of the very militias they now rail against daily, and that their much-trumpeted support for Iraq's "security forces" is in fact one of the main engines driving the sectarian civil war. One can only conclude from this that Bush and Blair have decided that the sectarian war should be played to their own advantage, and pushed toward the only result that now offers even the slightest chance of "success" in their war of aggression: the triumph of a Shiite extremist faction willing to cut an acceptable deal on the all-important "oil law" and perhaps allow a continued US military presence in the country, if only a few "lily-pad" skeleton bases.

These have always been the main goals of the Bush Faction's warmongers, even before the administration took power in the 2000 judicial coup: to open Iraq's oil fields to cronies of the conquerors, and to plant a US "military footprint" in this strategic heart of the Middle East. They have hewed toward these goals with a remarkable, ruthless focus. This is one key reason why the occupation of Iraq has been such a slap-dash affair; its authors didn't really care what sort of regime sprang up in the wake of the invasion, or how it got cobbled together, as long as it played ball on oil and military bases. (A third main goal of the operation - war profiteering on an unprecedented, almost unfathomable scale - has already been accomplished.)

They would have done better to pay more attention to "side issues" like the security of the Iraqi people and the provision of essential services, of course. But the Bush-led warmongers are, after all, a collection of stunted intellects, stupified by greed and primitive ideologies. Now, facing the imminent ruin of their reckless and misbegotten enterprise, they are down to their last card: the wheelers and dealers of SCIRI.

In these past weeks following the November elections, Bush and Blair have set about trying to build a new coalition around Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is dependent for his political power on the support of hardline Shiite cleric and fierce nationalist Motqada al-Sadr and his mass "Mahdi Army," which already controls several areas of the country, including large swathes of Baghdad. Sadr, who along with his martyred family stayed in Iraq and fought Saddam's repression, has long been at odds with Hakim and SCIRI, who fled to Iran and whose forces even fought for Iran against their fellow Iraqis in the 1980s Iran-Iraq War. This conflict has often flared into violent battles, especially in the last year, forming yet another front in Iraq's multi-sided civil war. Sadr, whose army has already led two uprising against American forces, will never accept a continued US presence in the country. Nor is anyone with his nationalist beliefs to be trusted to do right by Bush's oil patrons.

Thus it seems increasingly clear that Bush and Blair have decided to wage all-out war on Sadr, with the help of the "surge" troops now being put together. This will be the "New Way Forward" that Bush's mouthpieces have been talking about. American soldiers will fight for SCIRI and its allies, and for any other faction that seems likely to acquiesce in some measure to the Coalition's twin war aims. The fact that this will be yet another strategic mistake of horrendous proportions will not stop the stunted intellects from giving it a try. Sadr, who commands the fanatical devotion of millions of Iraqis - millions of armed Iraqis - cannot be defeated militarily without a bloodbath that would make even the utter hell of present-day Iraq look mild by comparison.

Local Stories And Casualty Reports

Army Major Gloria Scott-Davis becomes the Heartland's first female casualty, and our twentieth service person to die in the line of duty. The Major's mother is both angry and in a state of shock. Military service is a tradition in this family; the Major's son and daughter also served. Major Gloria Scott-Davis herself had been in the army for 18 years, and had only two years to go before she retired.

Nearly 500 people attended the funeral in Aiken for a Marine corporal killed in Iraq earlier this month. Twenty-five-year-old Matt Dillon was killed in combat on December Eleventh. The Reverend Eddie Leopard says Dillon was noble and brave. It was Dillon's second tour in Iraq.

A 21-year-old Army specialist from Michigan was killed when an improvised explosive device went off near his tank, the Pentagon says. Andrew P. Daul of Brighton died Tuesday in Hit, Iraq, from the blast that went off near his Abrams tank, the Defense Department said in a news release. Brighton is about 35 miles west-northwest of Detroit.

Army Staff Sgt. Robert L. Love Jr. of Livingston, Ala., was killed in Iraq on Dec. 1 when an explosive device blew up near his vehicle, was buried Wednesday in the tiny east Mississippi town of Russell. At least 75 people, including family members, friends and a military contingent, attended a memorial service for Love earlier Wednesday at Berry and Gardner Funeral Home in Meridian.

Here are the names of the journalists who have died to date in Iraq. Many thanks to Erdla of Gorilla’s Guides for supplying them in yesterday’s Comments. I’m sure George W. Bush did not know any of them and hasn’t the slightest idea what their sacrifice means to their colleagues, friends and families. -m

Atwar Bahjat, Al-Arabiya, February 23, 2006, Samarra Adnan Khairallah, Wasan Productions and Al-Arabiya, February 23, 2006, Samarra Khaled Mahmoud al-Falahi, Wasan Productions and Al-Arabiya, February 23, 2006, Samarra Munsuf Abdallah al-Khaldi, Baghdad TV, March 7, 2006, Baghdad Amjad Hameed, Al-Iraqiya, March 11, 2006, Baghdad Muhsin Khudhair, Alef Ba, March 13, 2006, Baghdad Kamal Manahi Anbar, freelance, March 26, 2006, Baghdad So'oud Muzahim al-Shoumari, Al-Baghdadia, April 4, 2006, Baghdad Laith al-Dulaimi, Al-Nahrain, May 8, 2006, south of Baghdad James Brolan, CBS, May 29, 2006, Baghdad Paul Douglas, CBS, May 29, 2006, Baghdad Ali Jaafar, Al-Iraqiya, May 31, 2006, Baghdad Ibrahim Seneid, Al-Bashara, June 13, 2006, Fallujah Adel Naji al-Mansouri, Al-Alam, July 29, 2006, Baghdad Riyad Muhammad Ali, Talafar al-Yawm, July 30, 2006, Mosul Mohammad Abbas Mohammad, Al-Bayinnah Al-Jadida, August 7, 2006, Baghdad Ismail Amin Ali, freelance, August 7, 2006, Baghdad Abdel Karim al-Rubai, Al-Sabah, September 9, 2006, Baghdad Safa Isma'il Enad, freelance, September 13, 2006, Baghdad Ahmed Riyadh al-Karbouli, Baghdad TV, September 18, 2006, Ramadi Hussein Ali, Al-Shaabiya, October 12, 2006, Baghdad Abdul-Rahim Nasrallah al-Shimari, Al-Shaabiya, October 12, 2006, Baghdad Noufel al-Shimari, Al-Shaabiya, October 12, 2006, Baghdad Thaker al-Shouwili, Al-Shaabiya, October 12, 2006, Baghdad Ahmad Sha'ban, Al-Shaabiya, October 12, 2006, Baghdad Saed Mahdi Shlash, Rayat al-Arab, October 26, 2006, Baghdad Naqshin Hamma Rashid, Atyaf (Iraqi Media Network), October 29, 2006, Baghdad Muhammad al-Ban, Al-Sharqiya, November 13, 2006, Mosul


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