Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Photo: A thick plume of smoke rises near Baghdad's restive Haifa Street. (AFP/Joseph Eid)
Bring 'em on: One Soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Monday and one Soldier assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died today from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province.
Several explosions which police sources said were mortar rounds were followed by clashes in the Haifa Street area of central Baghdad, where U.S. and Iraqi forces staged a major offensive against Sunni rebels last week. There were no details on casualties.
Australian troops have fought an intense gun battle with insurgents after their armoured vehicles came under fire in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. The soldiers returned fire with more than 400 rounds after militia forces attacked their Australian light armoured vehicles (ASLAVs) during a routine patrol on Tuesday evening. No Australians were hurt. The three ASLAVs and an unidentified number of soldiers from the Australian Security Detachment (SECDET), which is charged with protecting Australian embassy staff in Baghdad, were on patrol at about 5.40pm local time when the insurgents struck.
Four Iraqis were killed and 11 wounded when a bomb went off in a bus near an office of the Shiite leader, Moqtada al- Sadr.
The US military reported Wednesday that they had freed a hostage while on patrol in the Amiriyah quarter of the Baghdad Tuesday.
A roadside bomb struck in a commercial district in downtown Baghdad, wounding a policeman and a bystander.
A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed a policeman and wounded three others in the busy area of Bab al- Sharji in central Baghdad, police said.
A suicide car bomb struck a market Wednesday in the Shiite district of Sadr City, killing 13 people and wounding 20.
Local government official in Mansour district of Baghdad was kidnapped and four of his guards were killed in western Baghdad, police said.
A roadside bomb exploded near a minibus and wounded six people in the southern Doura district of Baghdad, police said.
A civilian was killed in a drive-by shooting in the west of Baghdad.
A roadside bomb struck a downtown commercial district, injuring a policeman and a bystander.
An Iraqi soldier was killed and four civilians wounded in a clash between the Iraqi army and gunmen in the mainly Sunni Yarmuk district of western Baghdad, a police source said.
Gunmen seized five people from a housing complex in the Bayaa district of southwestern Baghdad, a police source said
A lecturer in veterinary medicine at Baghdad University was shot dead in the Amriya district of western Baghdad, a police source said. Academics have been frequent targets of Islamic extremists, the United Nations says.
30 anonymous bodies were found in Baghdad today. 24 bodies were found in the western side of Baghdad (Karkh), the bodies were found in the following neighborhoods of Karkh -- 6 bodies in Amil neighborhood, 4 bodies in Mahmudiya y, 4 in Al Hamraa, and 1 body in the neighborhoods of Shurta the 5th, hay Al Elam, Shula, Owireej, Shawwaka, Amiriya, Kadhimiya, Mamoon, Washasha and Baiyaa. 6 bodies were found in the eastern part of Baghdad (Rosafa). 1 body was found in each of the following neighborhoods Ghadeer, Kasra Wa Atash, Shaab, Karrada, Baghdad AL Jadida and Al Masbah neighborhood.
Five unidentified bodies were found by Iraqi police. Two of them were apparently killed by a sniper on Haifa Street. The others were found shot to death with their hands and legs bound in areas in western Baghdad.
Diyala Prv:
A source close to the MNF said that 7 Iraqis were killed and 10 wounded by American helicopters bombing in supporting of Iraqi forces clashing with insurgents in Al Jazeera district north of Muqdadiya city to the east of Baqouba.
The Iraqi troops, backed by U.S. forces, killed over 100 al-Qaida in Iraq armed group linked gunmen during a military operation near Baaquba, capital city of Diala province, a police source said on Wednesday.
Gunmen in a car opened fire on two brothers, ages 30 and 35, on their way to work as construction workers in Mahaweel, 35 miles south of Baghdad, killing one and wounding the other, police said
A mortar attack struck a neighborhood in Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad, killing a woman and wounding 10 other people.
Police said they found the bound body of an Iraqi policeman hanging by electric wire, two days after he was kidnapped while going to his home in the same area.
Two British soldiers were injured when their patrol came under attack in southern Iraq, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said. A roadside bomb hit the troops' armoured convoy as they carried out a security patrol along the banks of a river in the Al Ashshar area of Basra province. An MoD spokesman said the soldiers suffered only minor injuries and it is not believed that they needed hospital treatment.
Fifteen mortar shells fell on a British base on Shatt al-Arab hotel in Basra, starting a fire in tents used by British forces, the spokeswoman of the Multi-National forces in south Iraq said. No casualties were reported.
The spokesman of the MNF in Basra Katy Brown said that British patrols killed three insurgents in different clashes in Basra city. The spokesman said "British patrols had been attacked by insurgents on Monday evening in Al Timimiya. The British patrols clashed with them killed two of them. Another clash happened in Al Saie neighborhood when the British soldiers killed an insurgent who was shooting RPG 7 rocket against a British base. The spokesman added that two British bases were targeted with 34 katusha rockets and 4 mortar shells. According to the spokesman, only one military vehicle was damaged.
A source from Basra police said that a group of insurgents kidnapped an engineer working in Najibiya power station north of Basra.
A police source in Tikrit city said that two foreign security members were injured and their 4 wheel drive vehicle destroyed by an IED explosion south of Beiji city.
The American base in Balad city 60 kms north of Baghdad was attacked with 9 mortar rounds today afternoon. Smoke cloud was seen from the base.
A suicide car bomb exploding at a checkpoint leading to a police station in the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk, killing seven people and wounding 25.
Hundreds of Wassit citizens, politicians and clerics on Wednesday demonstrated in the city of Kut demanding the release of two members of Wassit provincial council who were detained on Tuesday by U.S. forces.
A proposed bipartisan Senate resolution opposing Bush's plan to increase troops in Iraq will declare that it is not in the U.S. interest to deepen its military involvement there, a Senate aide said on Wednesday.
"Whereas the U.S. strategy and presence on the ground in Iraq can only be sustained with the support of the American people and bipartisan support from Congress ... it is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq, particularly by escalating U.S. troop presence in Iraq," the resolution is expected to say, according to the aide who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Three senators, two Democrats and a Republican, who drafted the proposal were expected to unveil it later on Wednesday. They were Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden of Delaware and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin of Michigan, both Democrats, as well as Republican Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a long-time war critic, Senate aides said.
Al-Hakim has condemned the arrest of Iranians by US forces in Iraq as an attack on the country's sovereignty. The comments by Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, made in a BBC interview, are seen as the strongest expression yet of Iraq's concern about the US approach to Iran. They follow two recent US raids in which Iranians were arrested.
The remarks are interesting as Mr Hakim is seen as close to President Bush, says the BBC's Andrew North in Baghdad. (…)
"Regardless of the Iranian position we consider these actions as incorrect," Mr Hakim said. "They represent a kind of attack on Iraq's sovereignty and we hope such things are not repeated."
Forensic experts said on Tuesday that there were no traces of a rocket of missile to be found on the bodies of those killed last week in a plane crash in Baghdad.
The Turkish Forensic Office said that the bodies of all 28 Turks who lost their lives in last Tuesday’s crash had been put through a metal scanning process and no evidence of rocket or missile pieces were found in the bodies.
Prosecutors in the southern Turkish city of Adana, where the plane departed from on its flight to Baghdad, are continuing their investigations.
[looking for "evidence of rocket or missile pieces" in passenger's bodies seems a rather fishy way to determine if a plane was shot down; what evidence of the kind would there be if it crashed after being hit on a wing, on an engine, on the tail? -- zig]
So now we wait for the end. The man who led America into the most disastrous war in its history has run out of tricks, out of troops and out of time. It is no longer a question of whether George W. Bush's presidency will officially die, but when -- and how many more Americans will have to die before it does.
We find ourselves, almost four years into the Iraq war, in a very strange situation. What do you do when it has become obvious that the leader of your country is -- there is no kinder way to put this -- a delusional fool? And that his weird fantasy war is hopelessly and irretrievably lost? Apparently, you just wait. The Democrats are raging and ranting, but they will not cut off funds. Still crippled by their fear of being labeled "soft on national security," the majority party will watch the end from a safe distance, like survivors who quickly paddle away from a doomed ship to avoid being pulled down in the suction when it goes down.
It's no mystery why the Democrats will not pull the plug. Cutting off funding for an ongoing war is a radical move, one that would expose the Democrats to familiar stab-in-the-back charges that they don't "support the troops." Now that the ugly end of Bush's war is in sight, why on earth would the Democrats want to risk being blamed for losing it?
This makes a certain political sense, but it is deeply cynical. It implicitly accepts that more young Americans must die for a policy that has no chance of working. They must die so that a cowardly president can delay his day of reckoning a few more months. They must die so that Democrats can wash their hands of the whole mess.
The only thing that could move the Democrats to abandon this cold-blooded calculation and challenge Bush's war directly is a clear message from the American people. Not just their disapproval of Bush and his handling of the war -- that message was sent in the last elections, and in the recent CBS poll showing that only 23 percent of Americans support Bush's war leadership. That disapproval has emboldened the Democrats -- and some Republicans -- enough that they have dared to criticize Bush, something they didn't have the guts to do until now. But it isn't enough to make them try to end the war. For that to happen, large numbers of Americans would have to actually protest the war. A real, broad-based antiwar movement would immediately put an end to the war -- and put the Bush presidency out of its misery.
But there is no significant antiwar movement. And there isn't going to be one unless Bush completely loses it and decides to attack Iran.
read in full...
Further reflections on the 'surge':
. Just as I thought, American legislators are drawing their 'line in the sand' at Iran. The 'Iran talk' had the desired effect of giving Bush a pass on his Iraq plans, as long as he doesn't attack Iran. The Democrat trick is to make a big deal about Iran so Bush can get away with his Zionist plan to break up Iraq by increasing the violence levels. Voters are supposed to forget that they voted Democrat in order to get out of Iraq.
. How many deadlines have we now passed that 'experts' assured us would be the certain start of an attack on Iran?
. For a supposedly important speech, Bush's 'surge' speech was remarkably vague. It is almost impossible to determine what he intends to do (which may in part reflect the fact that his military advisors were unable to tell him what they could do, especially given that there aren't even enough additional troops for a surge-let). The summary seems to be that the Americans are going to kill a lot more Sunnis, and the Iraqi government is supposed to rein in the Shi'ite militias, by diplomacy or otherwise (something which we know will never happen, but which appears to be a bone thrown to the Saudis). The upshot is that the ultimate position of Iran in Iraqi politics will be strengthened.
. Of course, Americans have neither the technical ability, nor the motivation, to figure out who they are killing before they kill. Sunnis, Shi'ites, they all look the same at the end of a gun.
. The two big fault lines in Iraq are Sunni vs. Shi'ite, and Kurd vs. Rest of Iraq. The Zionist goal is to have both of these break, but the irony is that the second one is holding the first one together. The Rest of Iraq (a term I'm borrowing from Canadian politics, where the division is Quebec versus the Rest of Canada) - Sunnis and Shi'ites - doesn't want the Kurds to get away with stealing the Kirkuk oil fields. They are thus inclined to stick together to keep the whole country together. The Kurds themselves seem to realize that separation means defeat at the hands of the Turks (Iran also wants the Kurds to stay in an Iraqi federation, as a separate Kurdistan will want to annex northern Iran). Despite American/Zionist violence, various pressures continue to hold the country together.
. Both Ronald Bleier and Jeff Wells think I am too optimistic. Bleier writes:
"If it's not about oil, what's it about? It's about a permanent war agenda, and this includes a war against the people and the environment and the economy of the United States as well. Permanent war means the destruction of everything including eventually the warmakers.
That's why they are called nihilists."
Jeff Wells speaks of 'Mansonic logic' leading to something big, chaotic, and horrible. These comments remind me of the good old days of Conspiracy Theory, starring the Rockefellers, the CIA, and the Trilateral Commission. I honestly don't think the Bushites are that sophisticated. Their motivations are still money (personal graft), power, and Israel, not necessarily, but usually, in that order. The Zionists think a final, violent push can permanently break up Iraq, and this meshes with Bush's desire not to go down in history as a President who lost another war against some peasants. No matter how much the warbloggers claim that Iraq isn't like Vietnam, the fact is that it is fear of a Vietnam result that will continue to keep Americans in Iraq. There is still a bit of money to be made running mercenaries and weapons, and the Republicans will argue that their Presidential candidate is the only one capable of withdrawing from Iraq 'with honor' (outrageous, I know, but they'll probably get away with it).
While all the American bloviation continues, Mahmoud 'What, me worry?' Ahmadinejad was meeting with his fellow Time 'Man of the Year' Hugo Chavez. Then he followed Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales of Bolivia to Nicaragua, to celebrate the election of Daniel Ortega. Ahmadinejad said:
"The imperialists don't like us to help you progress and develop. They don't like us to get rid of poverty and unite people. Iran, Nicaragua and Venezuela and other revolutionary countries are together and we will resist together."
While Bush talks and perspires, China and Russia continue to solidify their respective energy positions, and the rest of the world unites against the United States.
"We're winning! " exulted Bush last October. (3) Well... actually, "We're not winning," he clarified a few weeks later, but "We're not losing" either. (4) So "We're wosing," quipped the Guardian's cartoonist Steve Bell. Indeed, we are; and for you, Mr President, I shall count the wosing ways.
Somewhere, deep in the cold, worm-infested soil that a mother will keep watered by tears, lies one of 3,000 young Americans. (5) Dispersed across the land, thousands more will forever carry the scars of war in their battered bodies and hollowed souls, mutants battling hellish shadows and silent phantoms. And the Iraqis, yes those, Mr President, see them spiral into Dante's lower rings of hell, as they join the fastest-growing sect in the land: the dead-hundreds of thousands strong. (6) Watch the White Man's Burden devolve into an orgy of torture and mayhem. (Has it ever devolved into anything else?)
The words Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, detainee bill, and extraordinary rendition are seared in the world's consciousness as the badges of shame of a democracy gone mad. According to Pew's most recent "Global Opinion" survey, "anti-Americanism is deeper and broader now than at any time in modern history." (7) The war effort's claim on the US treasury will soon exceed $600 billion: more than Vietnam; (4) more than all the money ever spent on cancer research; (8) more than enough to "race for the cure" all the way to Alpha Centauri. We're wosing big, Mr President.
Historians will ponder how one gangly caveman and nineteen scrawny associates turned America into the land of the kind-of-free (53rd freest press in the world, tied with Botswana (9)) and the home of the petrified. The sons and daughters of the nation that stood up to Hitler and Tojo now file through airport security barefoot, much as they would walk, shoeless, into a mosque-a mosque, they pray, empty of Muslims.
Cravenness is bigotry's favorite nourishment, and cynics might expect the political class to gorge on it by blaming our imperial agony on the natives. In America, today, cynics rarely go wrong; and the air, indeed, is thick with talk of fainthearted hordes of Mesopotamian ingrates, who quail at the latest bombing and wail at the moon in exotic garb.(…)
The US military has been fighting in Iraq longer than it did in World War II. What does it have to show for it? Not much. Unlike Vietnam, Iraq is a country-wide killing field, one giant Sniper Alley where sporting the Stars and Stripes can get you killed any time, anywhere. Not a square inch of Iraqi soil is safe for the Americans outside the high walls of their fortresses. To borrow from Cheney's vast repertoire of "bons mots", the US counterinsurgency is in its last throes; hence the "surge" and kindred shows of desperation. Israel's finest military historian, Martin van Creveld, does not mince words: ""The American military have proved totally incompetent"." (16) In Iraq, the world's sole superpower has been the world's serial superbungler. (I've always wondered if the trope of the "sole superpower" serves any purpose other than teaching us how thin the line is between the sublime and the farcical.)
Whose fault? (The wrong question for a moral perspective-starting the war was the sin, not losing it-but the right one here.) Breathtaking as they were, the majestic vistas of Rumsfeld's ineptitude were little more than a convenient excuse for war advocates with egg on their faces. The grand whining parade has already begun, and mealy-mouthed apologists are being wheeled in on bloated floats to proffer lame excuses about inadequate troop levels, insufficient 4GW training, political fecklessness, etc. Eventually, the chest beating will die down as it always does, with the blame for the debacle pinned on the dirty antiwar hippies. But hippies don't fight wars. The Pentagon does. It did, and it lost. (…)
Could the invasion have succeeded? Not a chance. All the grousing about incompetent planning is the age-old excuse-making prattle of losers. Leave aside the not-so-trifling fact that the United States never had the proper DNA for empire (lite or otherwise). It is the incontrovertible reality of the 21st century that the time for the White Man's Burden has passed. Not only is the era of empire gone, but the days of the so-called liberal hegemonic order are numbered. Even before 9/11, the cumulative impact of European integration, the rise of Asian powers, and the resurgence of Muslim identity sounded the death knell for American hegemony. To hasten the burial will be one of Bush's legacies. Alas, incalculable misery in the Middle East, enduring anti-American hatred, and future terrorist attacks in London, Paris, and Seattle will be another one.
The same Madeleine Albright who called the United States "the indispensable nation"-presumably to avoid confusion with the dispensable ones-taunted Colin Powell with the wickedest double-entendre since Mae West: ""What's the point of having this superb military you're always talking about if we can't use it? " " (22) To paraphrase an old line, it is better for a big country to keep its superb army idle and let the world think it's not much of a superpower than to use it and remove all doubt.
read in full...
Whatever It Is I'm Against It: AN ODD EXCHANGE
There was an odd exchange [in the Bush interview on McNeil-Lehrer]:
LEHRER: Just today, another 35 people were killed in bombings; 80 over the weekend.
BUSH: Yeah, there is a difference between - look, death is terrible - but remember, some of these bombings are done by al-Qaida and their affiliates, all trying to create doubt and concern and create these death squads or encourage these death squads to roam neighborhoods. And it's going to be hard to make Baghdad zero - to make it bomb-proof, blather blather blather...
What point was he trying to make here? A difference between what and what? Clearly, he believes there's some "difference" we should "remember" that somehow mitigates these 115 deaths, but I don't get it.
read in full...
In the New Yorker, Steve Coll reminds us that back in 1965, LBJ's national security advisor McGeorge Bundy wrote a memo supporting a surge of troops in Vietnam, even though he thought the plan only had a 25% chance of success:
Even if it fails, the policy will be worth it. At a minimum it will damp down the charge that we did not do all that we could have done, and this charge will be important in many countries, including our own.
Insert standard axiom about not learning from history here. And try to refrain from doing the math over how many more years we remained in Vietnam for a policy deemed to be "worth it."
I really could spend the rest of my life doing this.
This is from a 2004 article in Rolling Stone:
Over at Defense, competent intelligence professionals were purged in order to ease the way to war. Douglas Feith, brought in under Rumsfeld to serve as undersecretary of defense for policy, applied an ideological test to his staff: He didn't want competence; he wanted fervor. "Col. Pat Lang, a Middle East expert who served under five presidents, Republican and Democratic, in key posts in military intelligence, recalls being considered for a job at the Pentagon. During the job interview, Feith scanned Lang's impressive resume. "I see you speak Arabic," Feith said. When Lang nodded, Feith said, "Too bad," and dismissed him.
From an Atlantic article about U.S. government Arabists:
"Arabist" is among the most loaded words in America's political lexicon...In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries an Arabist was a student of the language, history, and culture..." It became a pejorative for 'he who intellectually sleeps with Arabs,'" said Richard Murphy, a former assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs.
From the Pentagon's Iraq Perspectives Report, p. 11-12:
Instead of accurate reports of the realities around him, Saddam received increasing amounts of flawed assessments and lies that only served to strengthen his preconceptions. Real knowledge was not a prized commodity in Iraq, and its final worth was established by the dictator himself when, in front of a group of senior officers, he singled out a future Republican Guard Corps commander, known to read widely in military history and theory, and publicly ridiculed him for "thinking like an American. "
I wonder what the rest of the wrist monkeys at National Review Online think about William F. Buckley's opposition to Bush's surge plan, which is laid out quite nicely here:
(...) On the basis of this analysis I will vote against supplementary American involvement in Iraq.
Bill Buckley joins Colin Powell, Ollie North, George Will, Rod Dreher, James Baker, Chuck Hagel, Susan Collins, Gordon Smith, Norm Coleman, and Charles Krauthammer in the "Famous Republican Figures Against Bush's Surge Plan" Category.
Not to mention that between 61%-70% of Americans in all the latest polls disapprove of the preznut's surge plan.
On the preznut's side - Holy Joe Lieberman, Lindsay Graham, John McCain, the American Enterprise Institute and the rest of the wrist monkeys at NRO, the Weekly Standard, and FOX News.
Can CNN stop couching the surge plan debate as Dems vs. Repubs?
The debate is Dems/sane Repubs/61%-70% of the American people vs. neocons/administration apologists/30% who think Bush is the second coming of Jesus.
Is this so hard to understand?
read in full...
Russia has delivered new anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran and will consider further requests by Tehran for defensive weapons, the Reuters news agency quoted Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov as saying on Tuesday.
"We have supplied the modern short-range anti-aircraft systems TOR-M1 in accordance with our contracts," Ivanov told reporters "Iran is not under sanctions and if it wants to buy defensive ... equipment for its armed forces then why not?"
Secretary Robert Gates suggested on Wednesday that he is likely to urge Bush to send more troops to Afghanistan to fight the resurgent Taliban.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I support the beginning of a phased redeployment out of Baghdad and eventually out of Iraq completely. (...) We're going to have a big Taliban offensive in the spring. We need more troops in Afghanistan." – Senator Hillary Clinton speaking to NBC television Wednesday.


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