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As of March 2010, Google is no longer supporting FTP publishing of it's Blogger blogs. Therefore I will be consolidating all of my blogs into a single front page format that I will be experimenting with and changing from time to time until I find something I like.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:23 PM
Colonizing Iraq: The Obama Doctrine?
(Michael Schwartz, TomDispatch.com,09 July 2009)
Gen. Ray Odierno, the overall American commander in Iraq, has ordered that an increasing number of basic operations - transport and re-supply convoys, for example - take place at night, when fewer Iraqis are likely to see that the American withdrawal is not total." ... Acting in the dark of night, in fact, seems to catch the nature of American plans for Iraq in a particularly striking way. ... While many critics of the Iraq War have been willing to cut the Obama administration some slack as its foreign policy team and the U.S. military gear up for that definitive withdrawal, something else - something more unsettling - appears to be going on. ... And it wasn't just the president's hedging over withdrawing American "combat" troops from Iraq - which, in any case, make up as few as one-third of the 130,000 U.S. forces still in the country - now extended from 16 to 19 months. Nor was it the re-labeling of some of them as "advisors" so they could, in fact, stay in the vacated cities, or the redrawing of the boundary lines of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, to exclude a couple of key bases the Americans weren't about to give up. ... An anonymous senior State Department official described this new "dark of night" policy recently to Christian Science Monitor reporter Jane Arraf this way: "One of the challenges of that new relationship is how the U.S. can continue to wield influence on key decisions without being seen to do so." ... Without being seen to do so. On this General Odierno and the unnamed official are in agreement. And so, it seems, is Washington. As a result, the crucial thing you can say about the Obama administration's military and civilian planning so far is this: ignore the headlines, the fireworks, and the briefly cheering crowds of Iraqis on your TV screen. Put all that talk of withdrawal aside for a moment and - if you take a closer look, letting your eyes adjust to the darkness - what is vaguely visible is the silhouette of a new American posture in Iraq. Think of it as the Obama Doctrine. And what it doesn't look like is the posture of an occupying power preparing to close up shop and head for home. ... Most colonial regimes erect systems in which foreigners involved in occupation duties are served (and disciplined) by an institutional structure separate from the one that governs the indigenous population. In Iraq, the U.S. has been building such a structure since 2003, and the Obama administration shows every sign of extending it. ... Recently, the occupation has also been appropriating various streets and roads for its exclusive use (an idea that may have been borrowed from Israel's 40-year-old occupation of the West Bank). ... The intrusive presence of the Baghdad embassy extends to the all-important oil industry, which today provides 95% of the government's funds. When it comes to energy, the occupation has long sought to shape policy and transfer operational responsibility from Iraqi state-owned enterprises of the Saddam Hussein years to major international oil companies. In one of its most successful efforts, in 2004, the U.S. delivered an exclusive $1.2 billion contract to reconstruct Iraq's decrepit southern oil transport facilities (which handle 80% of its oil flow) to KBR, the notorious former subsidiary of Halliburton. Supervision of that famously mismanaged contract, still uncompleted five years later, was allocated to the U.S. Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. ... The Iraqi government, in fact, still exerts remarkably little control over "Iraqi" oil revenues. ... In the meantime, the campaign to transfer administration of core oil operations to the major oil companies continues. Despite the resistance of Iraqi oil workers, the administrators of the two national oil companies, a majority bloc in parliament, and public opinion, the U.S. has continued to pressure the al-Maliki administration to enact an oil law that would mandate licensing devices called production-sharing agreements (PSAs). ... If enacted, these PSAs would, without transferring permanent ownership, grant oil companies effective control over Iraq's oil fields, giving them full discretion to exploit the country's oil reserves from exploration to sales. ... After only five months in office, the Obama administration has already provided significant evidence that, like its predecessor, it remains committed to maintaining that "access to and flow of energy resources" in Iraq, even as it places its major military bet on winning the expanding war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. ... As the Obama administration comes face-to-face with the reality of trying fulfill General Odierno's ambition of making Iraq into "a long-term partner with the United States in the Middle East" while fighting a major counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan, it may also encounter a familiar dilemma faced by nineteenth-century colonial powers: that without the application of overwhelming military force, the intended colony may drift away toward sovereign independence. If so, then the dreary prediction of Pulitzer Prize-winning military correspondent Thomas Ricks - that the United States is only "halfway through this war" - may prove all too accurate.
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posted by Lorenzo 8:06 AM
Is the U.S. running a secret dirty war in Iraq?
(Dahr Jamail, t r u t h o u t, July 9, 2009)
On Friday, June 12, Harith al-Obaidi, leader of the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni bloc in the Iraqi Parliament, was shot dead outside a mosque just minutes after giving a sermon condemning the Maliki government for human rights abuses. ... Only the day before, Obaidi had given a speech in parliament calling for the resignation of top government officials for their ties to human rights abuses in Iraq. In addition, the neighborhood where the mosque he had given the sermon was located had several checkpoints, thus begging the question of how a gunman could have made his way, undetected, to the mosque. ... Many would consider both these acts to be smokescreens for Maliki's - and possibly even US - complicity. US action in Iraq since the invasion was launched appears to favor the creation of a client state in Iraq along lines similar to those in Egypt, Jordan and Colombia. In any case, one essential element of that equation seems to be military and/or paramilitary forces answerable to, and supporting, the US-backed head of state. ... "The Iraq Special Operations Forces (ISOF) is probably the largest special forces outfit ever built by the United States, and it is free of many of the controls that most governments employ to rein in such lethal forces. The project started in the deserts of Jordan just after the Americans took Baghdad in April 2003. There, the US Army's Special Forces, or Green Berets, trained mostly 18-year-old Iraqis with no prior military experience. The resulting brigade was a Green Beret's dream come true: a deadly, elite, covert unit, fully fitted with American equipment, that would operate for years under US command and be unaccountable to Iraqi ministries and the normal political process. The ISOF is at least 4,564 operatives strong, making it approximately the size of the US Army's own Special Forces in Iraq. Congressional records indicate that there are plans to double the ISOF over the next "several years." ... "the Americans pressured the Iraqi government to create a new minister-level office called the Counter-Terrorism Bureau," Bauer writes, "Established by a directive from Iraq's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, the CTB answers directly to him and commands the ISOF independently of the police and army. According to Maliki's directive, the Iraqi Parliament has no influence over the ISOF and knows little about its mission." ... the Maliki government had developed a "culture of direct control" and the people running the ISOF at regional levels are "personally chosen loyalists or relatives of Maliki. It reminds me of Saddam. ... The prime minister is looking for re-election, and there are not that many restraints on his ability to target political opponents, as [his government] has been doing with the Sadrists for years now." ... Thus, the stage is set for an indefinite amount of bloodletting across Iraq. A cursory glance at the week from June 6 through June 13 provides several examples of this dirty war. For a dirty war it is, as the opponents of Maliki, and the occupation, and the Sahwa, are sure to respond in kind to any violence visiting them. ... The US occupation of Iraq has killed as many as 1,320,110 Iraqis and at least 4,312 US soldiers, and as usual, there appears to be no end in sight. ... Where is the CHANGE Mr. Obama?
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posted by Lorenzo 7:16 AM
Iraq in Fragments
(Dahr Jamail, Foreign Policy in Focus, April 10, 2009)
"If you take a look at military deaths, which is an indicator of violence and lethality out there, U.S. combat deaths are at their lowest levels since the war began six years ago." But it's a less useful metric when one looks at the broader picture inside of Iraq: the ongoing daily slaughter of Iraqis, the near total lack of functional infrastructure, the fact that one in six Iraqis remains displaced from their homes, or that at least 1.2 million Iraqis have died as a result of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of their country.
Seventy-two months of occupation, with over $607 billion spent on the war (by conservative estimates), has resulted in 2.2 million internally displaced Iraqis, 2.7 million refugees, 2,615 professors, scientists, and doctors killed in cold blood, and 338 dead journalists. Over $13 billion was misplaced by the current Iraqi government, and another $400 billion is required to rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure. Unemployment vacillates between 25-70%, depending on the month. There are 24 car bombs per month, 10,000 cases of cholera per year, 4,261 dead U.S. soldiers, and over 70,000 physically or psychologically wounded soldiers.
There's no normal life in Baghdad.
[The link above will take you to the full article, complete with more details.]
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posted by Lorenzo 8:39 PM
It's Official: Total Defeat for U.S. in Iraq
(Patrick Cockburn, CounterPunch, December 15, 2008)
On November 27 the Iraqi parliament voted by a large majority in favor of a security agreement with the US under which the 150,000 American troops in Iraq will withdraw from cities, towns and villages by June 30, 2009 and from all of Iraq by December 31, 2011. The Iraqi government will take over military responsibility for the Green Zone in Baghdad, the heart of American power in Iraq, in a few weeks time. Private security companies will lose their legal immunity. US military operations and the arrest of Iraqis will only be carried out with Iraqi consent. There will be no US military bases left behind when the last US troops leave in three years time and the US military is banned in the interim from carrying out attacks on other countries from Iraq. . . . The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), signed after eight months of rancorous negotiations, is categorical and unconditional. America's bid to act as the world's only super-power and to establish quasi-colonial control of Iraq, an attempt which began with the invasion of 2003, has ended in failure. . . . Only the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr held out against the accord to the end, declaring it a betrayal of independent Iraq. The ultra-patriotic opposition of the Sadrists to the accord has been important because it has made it difficult for the other Shia parties to agree to anything less than a complete American withdrawal. If they did so they risked being portrayed as US puppets in the upcoming provincial elections at the end of January 2009 or the parliamentary elections later in the year. . . . The SOFA finally agreed is almost the opposite of the one which US started to negotiate in March. This is why Iran, with its strong links to the Shia parties inside Iraq, ended its previous rejection of it. The first US draft was largely an attempt to continue the occupation without much change from the UN mandate which expired at the end of the year. Washington overplayed its hand. The Iraqi government was growing stronger as the Sunni Arabs ended their uprising against the occupation. The Iranians helped restrain the Mehdi Army, Muqtada's powerful militia, so the government regained control of Basra, Iraq's second biggest city, and Sadr City, almost half Baghdad, from the Shia militias. The prime minister Nouri al-Maliki became more confident, realizing his military enemies were dispersing and, in any case, the Americans had no real alternative but to support him. The US has always been politically weak in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein because it has few real friends in the country aside from the Kurds. The leaders of the Iraqi Shia, 60 per cent of the total population, might ally themselves to Washington to gain power, but they never intended to share power with the US in the long term. . . . Baghdad is divided into Shia and Sunni enclaves defended by high concrete blast walls often with a single entrance and exit. The sectarian slaughter is much less than it was but it is still dangerous for returning refugees to try to reclaim their old house in an area in which they are a minority. In one case in a Sunni district in west Baghdad, as I reported here some weeks ago, a Shia husband and wife with their two daughters went back to their house to find it gutted, with furniture gone and electric sockets and water pipes torn out. They decided to sleep on the roof. A Sunni gang reached them from a neighboring building, cut off the husband's head and threw it into the street. They said to his wife and daughters: "The same will happen to any other Shia who comes back." But even without these recent atrocities Baghdad would still be divided because the memory of the mass killings of 2006-7 is too fresh and there is still an underlying fear that it could happen again. . . . Iraq is full of signs of the gap between the rulers and the ruled. The few planes using Baghdad international airport are full foreign contractors and Iraqi government officials. Talking to people on the streets in Baghdad in October many of them brought up fear of cholera which had just started to spread from Hilla province south of Baghdad. Forty per cent of people in the capital do not have access to clean drinking water. The origin of the epidemic was the purchase of out of date chemicals for water purification from Iran by corrupt officials. Everybody talked about the cholera except in the Green Zone where people had scarcely heard of the epidemic. . . . The Iraqi government will become stronger as the Americans depart. It will also be forced to take full responsibility for the failings of the Iraqi state. This will be happening at a bad moment since the price of oil, the state's only source of revenue, has fallen to $50 a barrel when the budget assumed it would be $80. Many state salaries, such as those of teachers, were doubled on the strength of this, something the government may now regret. Communal differences are still largely unresolved. Friction between Sunni and Shia, bad though it is, is less than two years ago, though hostility between Arabs and Kurds is deepening.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:32 AM
Across Iraq, battles erupt with Mahdi Army
(Sam Dagher, The Christian Science Monitor, March 26, 2008)
The Mahdi Army's seven-month-long cease-fire appears to have come undone. . . . Rockets fired from the capital's Shiite district of Sadr City slammed into the Green Zone Tuesday, the second time in three days, and firefights erupted around Baghdad pitting government and US forces against the militia allied to the influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. . . . At the same time, the oil-export city of Basra became a battleground Tuesday as Iraqi forces, backed by US air power, launched a major crackdown on the Mahdi Army elements. British and US forces were guarding the border with Iran to intercept incoming weapons or fighters, according to a senior security official in Basra. . . . The US blames the latest attacks on rogue Mahdi Army elements tied to Iran, but analysts say the spike in fighting with Shiite militants potentially opens a second front in the war when the American military is still doing battle with the Sunni extremists of Al Qaeda in Iraq. . . . "The cease-fire is over; we have been told to fight the Americans," said one Mahdi Army militiaman, who was reached by telephone in Sadr City. . . . This same man, when interviewed in January, had stated that he was abiding by the cease-fire and that he was keeping busy running his cellular phone store. . . . Sadr City residents say they saw fighting Tuesday between Mahdi militiamen and US and Iraqi forces in several parts of the district. One eyewitness, in the adjacent neighborhood of Baghdad Jadida, who wished to remain anonymous, said he saw a heavy militia presence on the streets, with two fighters planting roadside bombs on a main thoroughfare. . . . Lt. Col. Steve Stover of the Baghdad-based 4th Infantry Division said that in the span of 12 hours Tuesday 16 rockets were fired at the Green Zone and nine rockets and 18 mortar rounds fell on US bases and combat outposts on the east side of Baghdad. A mortar round hit a US patrol in the northern Adhamiyah district, killing one US soldier. A roadside bomb set a US Humvee on fire in Sadr City but all soldiers inside survived. He said clashes broke out between American forces and militiamen when they attacked several government checkpoints in the district and that some of these posts are now manned by both US and Iraqi forces. . . . The Basra-based official said that fighting is now centered in Mahdi Army strongholds in the neighborhoods of Tamimiyah, Hayaniyah, and Five Miles, and that there was also fighting in the neighboring provinces of Nasiriyah and Maysan. . . . A curfew has also been imposed in Nasiriyah and other southern cities, such as Samawa and Kut, the scene of clashes involving the Mahdi Army over the past two weeks. . . . One Basra resident reached by phone said he was holed up at his office at the local branch of the ministry of trade, and described the sound of explosions and gunfire as "terrifying." . . . Two Iraqi Army battalions and five battalions of the National Police's quick-reaction force were dispatched to Basra, where an entire Army division is already stationed. . . . "The lawlessness is going on under religious or political cover along with oil, weapons, and drug smuggling. These outlaws found support from inside government institutions either willingly or by coercion ... turning Basra into a place where no citizen can feel secure for his life and property," said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in a statement read on state television, which reported that Mr. Maliki along with the ministers of defense and interior were all in Basra to oversee the operation. . . . The reaction from Sadr's camp was swift. At a press conference in the holy city of Najaf, three of the cleric's top lieutenants condemned the government offensive and accused Maliki, a Shiite, of carrying out a US agenda. They also threatened a nationwide campaign of protests and civil disobedience if US and Iraqi forces continued to fight the Mahdi Army. . . . On Monday evening, pickup trucks filled with chanting Mahdi militiamen, within sight of Iraqi forces, were forcing shopkeepers in many parts of Baghdad's west side to close in protest of US and Iraq Army raids. . . . On Tuesday, all shops in the Mahdi Army stronghold neighborhoods – Bayiaa, Iskan, Shuala, and Washash – were shuttered. Leaflets saying "No, no to America" were plastered on each storefront. Anti-American banners hung right next to Iraqi government checkpoints.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:45 PM
The Coming and Brutal Reeducation of the Happy Surgers
(p m carpenter's commentary, December 6, 2007)
I'm sure George hasn't been curious enough to make inquiries, so is still in the misty dark, and the NYT story isn't yet a day and a half old, so virtual Republican-front-runner Mike Huckabee could not possibly comment on it, but Iraq, according to the latest from outside analysts and knowledgeable Iraqis themselves, is expected to blow -- again -- and this time, with some bloody finality. . . . "This fight is still shaping up," says Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group, in Brussels. "We are in a holding pattern. The military solution has gained enough peace to last through the U.S. election, but we have a situation that is extremely fragile. None of the violent actors have either been defeated or prevailed, and the political roots of the conflict have not been addressed, much less resolved." . . . This prediction of Iraq's impending and savagely final showdown hardly demands the crack expertise of the U.S. intelligence community. A child could reason it out. Since war -- including civil war -- is merely an extension of politics by other means, and since the triumviral Battling Bickersons of Iraq refuse to settle on a political accommodation, the war will resume. It's just a matter of time. Simple as that. . . . The U.S. troop escalation was meant to de-escalate the rising violence in Baghdad, especially, and that was a surefire but only temporary fix. Its impermanence was also predicted by antiwar critics: the "bad guys" would simply go to ground and outwait America. The powder keg those troops were sitting on would remain, and that's precisely what has transpired. Hence the inexorable U.S. drawdown will creak open the heretofore lid, bit by agonizing bit, and Iraq will soon be back to its pre-escalation violence. The "surge"? All those additional American lives and additional American dollars? All for nothing. . . . There are even signs of already reemerging troubles -- what else; car and suicide bombings -- to question Mr. Hiltermann's assumption that "the military solution has gained enough peace to last through the U.S. election." That, no doubt, was the desperate Republican plan -- its own political solution to the immediately troublesome issue of Iraq. But whether what passes for peace in that loosely held-together country will itself hold for another 11 months is doubtful, at best. . . . Nevertheless within two months or twelve, the lid will decidedly blow. The "peace," the relative calm, has signified nothing -- and even Iraq's deputy prime minister concedes the obvious: "It’s more a cease-fire than a peace." . . . And cease-fires tend to start wearing thin on the "violent actors" who have neither "been defeated or prevailed." . . . Shiite militia-leader Moktada al-Sadr "has issued increasingly bellicose pronouncements recently," and all those "Sunni insurgents who turned against the jihadists are now expecting to be rewarded with government jobs." . . . To the latter: good luck. The Iraqi politicians in Baghdad couldn't agree on a plan to fix potholes, let alone resolve a 1400-year-old sectarian conflict through some sort of glad-handing, 19th-century American patronage system. It just ain't gonna happen. And those now well-U.S.-armed Sunnis, having taken out so many of the Qaeda bad guys on the politicians' behalf, are beginning to grasp the swindle. . . . As for the predatory Mr. Sadr, his fight, all along, chiefly has been with "the rival Shiite political force in Iraq, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, many of whose members are in the government security forces." Again, nothing has changed. "Despite his militia’s pause," Sadr’s objective "remain[s] unfinished: ... gaining power over the Supreme Council." And remember, all those disaffected Sunnis will be joblessly available to rejoin the factional carnage, providing Sadr with an additional excuse to re-unleash his militia, and just as U.S. forces are unavoidably withdrawing. . . . There's no question that the domestic forces who are celebrating the surge's costly and limited success are soon to be brutally reeducated. The only question that does emerge is how soon, which is to say, which will come first: delusional U.S. elections or Iraq's re-explosion.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:53 AM
120 War Vets Commit Suicide Each Week
(Penny Coleman, AlterNet, 26 November 2007)
[COMMENT by Lorenzo: As a Viet Nam vet, I have been sensitive to the fact that a great many of my brothers in arms have taken their own lives since returning from that horrible war. Anecdotal accounts have sometimes claimed that there have been more suicides by returning vets than there are names on The Wall. While I don't know about that as a fact, I do know that I have lost as many friends to suicide as I did in combat. . . . Lately there have been many news accounts about veterans of Bush's war who are taking their own lives. Now there is, finally, the first attempt to actually quantify the numbers of suicides of all vets, and the news is almost unbearable. . . . So if you happen to be a vet, or are close to one, who is having a difficult time, please encourage them to seek out, first of all, some of their fellow veterans and begin talking about what is going on inside of them. And then encourage them to also seek professional help. There is nothing macho about suicide, but it takes real courage to seek help and continue on with this sometimes almost unbearable pain we all share.}
Earlier this year, using the clout that only major broadcast networks seem capable of mustering, CBS News contacted the governments of all 50 states requesting their official records of death by suicide going back 12 years. They heard back from 45 of the 50. From the mountains of gathered information, they sifted out the suicides of those Americans who had served in the armed forces. What they discovered is that in 2005 alone - and remember, this is just in 45 states - there were at least 6,256 veteran suicides, 120 every week for a year and an average of 17 every day. . . . As the widow of a Vietnam vet who killed himself after coming home, and as the author of a book for which I interviewed dozens of other women who had also lost husbands (or sons or fathers) to PTSD and suicide in the aftermath of the war in Vietnam, I am deeply grateful to CBS for undertaking this long overdue investigation. I am also heartbroken that the numbers are so astonishingly high and tentatively optimistic that perhaps now that there are hard numbers to attest to the magnitude of the problem, it will finally be taken seriously. I say tentatively because this is an administration that melts hard numbers on their tongues like communion wafers. . . . Since these new wars began, and in spite of a continuous flood of alarming reports, the Department of Defense has managed to keep what has clearly become an epidemic of death beneath the radar of public awareness by systematically concealing statistics about soldier suicides. They have done everything from burying them on official casualty lists in a category they call "accidental noncombat deaths" to outright lying to the parents of dead soldiers. And the Department of Veterans Affairs has rubber-stamped their disinformation, continuing to insist that their studies indicate that soldiers are killing themselves, not because of their combat experiences, but because they have "personal problems." . . . Active-duty soldiers, however, are only part of the story. One of the well-known characteristics of post-traumatic stress injuries is that the onset of symptoms is often delayed, sometimes for decades. Veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam are still taking their own lives because new PTSD symptoms have been triggered, or old ones retriggered, by stories and images from these new wars. Their deaths, like the deaths of more recent veterans, are written up in hometown newspapers; they are locally mourned, but officially ignored. The VA doesn't track or count them. It never has. Both the VA and the Pentagon deny that the problem exists and sanctimoniously point to a lack of evidence they have refused to gather. . . . They have managed this smoke and mirrors trick for decades in large part because suicide makes people so uncomfortable. It has often been called "that most secret death" because no one wants to talk about it. Over time, in different parts of the world, attitudes have fluctuated between the belief that the act is a sin, a right, a crime, a romantic gesture, an act of consummate bravery or a symptom of mental illness. It has never, however, been an emotionally neutral issue. In the United States, the rationalism of our legal system has acknowledged for 300 years that the act is almost always symptomatic of a mental illness. For those same 300 years, organized religions have stubbornly maintained that it's a sin. In fact, the very worst sin. The one that is never forgiven because it's too late to say you're sorry. The contradiction between religious doctrine and secular law has left suicide in some kind of nether space in which the fundamentals of our systems of justice and belief are disrupted. A terrible crime has been committed, a murder, and yet there can be no restitution, no punishment. As sin or as mental illness, the origins of suicide live in the mind, illusive, invisible, associated with the mysterious, the secretive and the undisciplined, a kind of omnipresent Orange Alert. Beware the abnormal. Beware the Other. . . . For years now, this administration has been blasting us with high-decibel, righteous posturing about suicide bombers, those subhuman dastards who do the unthinkable, using their own bodies as lethal weapons. "Those people, they aren't like us; they don't value life the way we do," runs the familiar xenophobic subtext: And sometimes the text isn't even sub-: "Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, in Washington and Pennsylvania," proclaimed W, glibly conflating Sept. 11, the invasion of Iraq, Islam, fanatic fundamentalism and human bombs. . . . Bush has also expressed the opinion that suicide bombers are motivated by despair, neglect and poverty. The demographic statistics on suicide bombers suggest that this isn't the necessarily the case. Most of the Sept. 11 terrorists came from comfortable middle- to upper-middle-class families and were well-educated. Ironically, despair, neglect and poverty may be far more significant factors in the deaths of American soldiers and veterans who are taking their own lives. . . . Consider the 25 percent of enlistees and the 50 percent of reservists who have come back from the war with serious mental health issues. Despair seems an entirely appropriate response to the realization that the nightmares and flashbacks may never go away, that your ability to function in society and to manage relationships, work schedules or crowds will never be reliable. How not to despair if your prognosis is: Suck it up, soldier. This may never stop! . . . Neglect? The VA's current backlog is 800,000 cases. Aside from the appalling conditions in many VA hospitals, in 2004, the last year for which statistics are available, almost 6 million veterans and their families were without any healthcare at all. Most of them are working people - too poor to afford private coverage, but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or means-tested VA care. Soldiers and veterans need help now, the help isn't there, and the conversations about what needs to be done are only just now beginning. . . . Poverty? The symptoms of post-traumatic stress injuries or traumatic brain injuries often make getting and keeping a job an insurmountable challenge. The New York Times reported last week that though veterans make up only 11 percent of the adult population, they make up 26 percent of the homeless. If that doesn't translate into despair, neglect and poverty, well, I'm not sure the distinction is one worth quibbling about. . . . There is a particularly terrible irony in the relationship between suicide bombers and the suicides of American soldiers and veterans. With the possible exception of some few sadists and psychopaths, Americans don't enlist in the military because they want to kill civilians. And they don't sign up with the expectation of killing themselves. How incredibly sad that so many end up dying of remorse for having performed acts that so disturb their sense of moral selfhood that they sentence themselves to death. . . . There is something so smugly superior in the way we talk about suicide bombers and the cultures that produce them. But here is an unsettling thought. In 2005, 6,256 American veterans took their own lives. That same year, there were about 130 documented deaths of suicide bombers in Iraq.* Do the math. That's a ratio of 50-to-1. So who is it that is most effectively creating a culture of suicide and martyrdom? If George Bush is right, that it is despair, neglect and poverty that drive people to such acts, then isn't it worth pointing out that we are doing a far better job? . . . I say "about" because in the aftermath of a suicide bombing, it is often very difficult for observers to determine how many individual bodies have been blown to pieces. . . . [Penny Coleman is the widow of a Vietnam veteran who took his own life after coming home. Her latest book, Flashback: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide and the Lessons of War, was released on Memorial Day, 2006. Her blog is Flashback.]
[ALSO SEE: "Pentagon-Approved MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder"
The Peace Drug Being Used to Treat PTSD from the November 25, 2007 Washington Post]
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posted by Lorenzo 5:08 PM
Bush's Iraq strategy boosts US combat losses
(Gordon Lubold, The Christian Science Monitor, June 1, 2007)
May's spike in the American death toll in Iraq is the result of the administration's new approach in Iraq – as much as it is the enemy's own "surge" of attacks against US forces. . . . analysts warn that if the number of US casualties continues at their current high level through the summer, that could raise questions about whether the strategy is actually working. . . . May has already been difficult – the third-deadliest month since the Iraq war began. In a candid briefing Thursday, Army Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of Multinational Corps-Iraq, warned that the situation would be difficult in the months ahead. But the rising number of Americans killed comes as a result not only of insurgent activity but also from US operations in places that forces have not been before.
. . . Insurgents have reacted to the offensives and are now aggressively using improvised explosive devices as a defensive tactic. . . . "What we're finding is, the insurgents and the extremists use [improvised explosive devices] as their own little security and support zones and they use large buried IEDs in areas [where] we have not been before," Odierno said. "And some of them have been somewhat effective, which has raised our death toll." . . . Much of the violence is in and around Baghdad, where Odierno said the sectarian lines are blurry and where it can be difficult to allow political reconciliation to occur – and violence to decrease. But as hard as it is to see the glass half full at times in Iraq, reconciliation, he said, is the real answer to a stable Iraq. . . . "I will not be too optimistic, I will wait and see; I've been here too long to be too optimistic about anything we've moved forward with . . . Much of the recent violence is attributed to the new approach under Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq. Under his counterinsurgency strategy – "clear, hold, and build," now with more emphasis on the hold and build aspects – US forces are more exposed than they were before, conducting more patrols and living in 58 decentralized bases around Baghdad called combat outposts and joint security stations. . . . "I think it's relatively hard to imagine that we would start losing 100 people a month for the summer and be able to term this strategy successful."
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posted by Lorenzo 5:05 PM
Marine Corps Wants America's Favorite Marine To Shut Up!
(Wonkett.com, May 31, 2007)
Iraq veteran and honorably discharged Marine Sgt. Adam Kokesh has been the Pentagon's biggest public relations nightmare this year, because he's some kind of magical Cindy Sheehan - people actually like him! . . . And while right-wingers had no problem mocking the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, they have a tougher time mocking an actual living Marine male veteran who actually fought in the war they just write about on their blogs. Plus, you get the feeling he wouldn't mind beating the shit out of, say, the entire staff of National Review Online ... and that they'd probably enjoy it, too. . . . Kokesh and his anti-war veteran buddies have pulled several picture-perfect stunts in Washington, including a mock military funeral at the Hart Senate building and keeping score of how many times Alberto Gonzales said "I don't recall" during his Senate grilling last month. . . . The funeral stunt earned the protesters a coveted "political protest" arrest - apparently it's now illegal to protest anything for political reasons - and your favorite Marine was also charged with "Unlawful Assembly - Loud and Boisterous," despite the fact that he was silent during the performance. . . . For this, the Marine Corps is now "investigating" Kokesh, even though he’s officially out of the Corps and banished from reenlistment due to bringing home an Iraqi pistol for his war souvenir - that's against the rules if you get caught! On Monday, Kokesh has to show up at a hearing so the Corps can re-discharge him, this time dishonorably. Why? Because even when you get out of the military these days, Rumsfeld's "back door draft" makes you eligible for another call-up because there aren't enough people volunteering to jump in the Baghdad Meatgrinder. But they don’t want him back, even for the Individual Ready Reserve. So what's the point? . . . All the chickenhawks will have permission to call him a traitor or whatever on the blogs and talk radio if he suddenly becomes dishonorably discharged, thats the point!
[Click HERE for updates to this story.]
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posted by Lorenzo 4:47 PM
A soldier in Iraq asks in despair: Why are we here?
(ClarksvilleOnline, May 29, 2007)
After watching his roommate fatally wounded in a roadside bombing, an Army private wonders why the lives of good men are being lost when the Iraqis pose no threat to us and don’t want us there.
BAGHDAD, May 12 — My name is Donald Hudson Jr. I have been serving our country’s military actively for the last three years. I am currently deployed to Baghdad on Forward Operating Base Loyalty, where I have been for the last four and a half months.
I came here as part of the first wave of this so called “troop surge”, but so far it has effectively done nothing to quell insurgent violence. I have seen the rise in violence between the Sunni and Shiite. This country is in the middle of a civil war that has been on going since the seventh century.
Why are we here when this country still to date does not want us here? Why does our president’s personal agenda consume him so much, that he can not pay attention to what is really going on here?
Let me tell you a story. On May 10, I was out on a convoy mission to move barriers from a market to a joint security station. It was no different from any other night, except the improvised explosive device that hit our convoy this time, actually pierced through the armor of one of our trucks. The truck was immediately engulfed in flames, the driver lost control and wrecked the truck into one of the buildings lining the street. I was the driver of the lead truck in our convoy; the fifth out of six was the one that got hit. All I could hear over the radio was a friend from the sixth truck screaming that the fifth truck was burning up real bad, and that they needed fire extinguishers real bad. So I turned my truck around and drove through concrete barriers to get to the burning truck as quickly as I could. I stopped 30 meters short of the burning truck, got out and ripped my fire extinguisher out of its holder, and ran to the truck. I ran past another friend of mine on the way to the burning truck, he was screaming something but I could not make it out. I opened the driver’s door to the truck and was immediately overcome by the flames. I sprayed the extinguisher into the door, and then I saw my roommate’s leg. He was the gunner of that truck. His leg was across the driver’s seat that was on fire and the rest of his body was further in the truck. My fire extinguisher died and I climbed into the truck to attempt to save him. I got to where his head was, in the back passenger-side seat. I grabbed his shoulders and attempted to pull him from the truck out the driver’s door. I finally got him out of the truck head first. His face had been badly burned. His leg was horribly wounded. We placed him on a spine board and did our best to attempt “Buddy Aid”. We heard him trying to gasp for air. He had a pulse and was breathing, but was not responsive. He was placed into a truck and rushed to the “Green Zone”, where he died within the hour. His name was Michael K. Frank. He was 36 years old. He was a great friend of mine and a mentor to most of us younger soldiers here.
Now I am still here in this country wondering why, and having to pick up the pieces of what is left of my friend in our room. I would just like to know what is the true reason we are here? This country poses no threat to our own. So why must we waste the lives of good men on a country that does not give a damn about itself? Most of my friends here share my views, but do not have the courage to say anything.
About Donald C. Hudson Jr.
Donald C. Hudson Jr. is a private assigned to the 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
E-mail: available via the link above
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posted by Lorenzo 9:32 PM
Military personnel with brain injuries pressured to return quickly to duty
(Robert Bazell, NBC News, Feb 27, 2007)
Last year when I was reporting on the treatment of brain injuries among troops returning from the war, I learned many experts were concerned about low-level brain injuries among the troops. The rehabilitation experts at Veterans Affairs had been shocked to hear that soldiers and Marines who had been exposed to the concussive force of numerous blasts from roadside bombs, but not obviously injured, were routinely returned to duty. . . . The VA experts worried that this could lead to an epidemic of mental health issues among veterans in the years to come. I asked at the Pentagon if anyone was concerned about the issue and got no answer. . . . In Iraq, I found that what the VA experts were hearing is certainly true. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) remain the signature weapon of this war. These bombs have gotten increasingly powerful. . . . In the military hospitals in Iraq, most of the U.S. wounded had been injured by IEDs. Most surprising to me, it was not the first IED for most of them. In fact, I met several who had survived as many as five IED blasts. One young soldier had been through five in the past six weeks alone. . . . What if the soldier just passes out for a few minutes or an hour? That often happens when the brain is shaken against the skull, and stops working temporarily. . . . Right now, the procedure calls for the soldier to be checked out for a day at most and returned to duty. . . . "Most of the pressure comes from the soldiers to go back to duty," Dr. Phillip Cuenca, an Army anesthesiologist who is interested in the issue, told me. "The commander has to meet the mission, so if that soldier can still walk and carry out orders and is physically able, it is certainly reasonable for him or her to return to duty." . . . Col. Alan Bruns, a surgical consultant, told me that the military remains concerned about subtle brain damage from explosions. . . . Cuenca and many others point out that more research is necessary to find ways to detect these subtle neurological signs that can be difficult to differentiate from fatigue, stress or headache that you or I might feel. . . . Any long-term effects on tens of thousands of veterans of this war will, of course, take years to discover. Many experts, including those at the VA, worry they could be widespread.
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posted by Lorenzo 6:20 PM
200,000 U.S. War Veterans Homeless
(Sarah Childress, Newsweek, Feb 24, 200)
Hundreds of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are ending up homeless. How could this happen? . . . Young, alienated and often living on their own for the first time, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans increasingly are coming home to find that they don't have one. Already, nearly 200,000 veterans—many from the Vietnam War—sleep on the streets every night, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. But young warriors just back from the Mideast—estimated around 500 to 1,000—are beginning to struggle with homelessness too. Drinking or using drugs to cope with PTSD, they can lose their job and the support of family and friends, and start a downward spiral to the streets. Their tough military mentality can make them less likely to seek help. Advocates say it can take five to eight years for a veteran to exhaust their financial resources and housing options, so they expect the number to rise exponentially in a few years. . . . The problem is mainly a lack of resources, advocates say. There are only about 15,000 beds available in VA-funded shelters or hospitals nationwide, and nearly every one is taken. In some smaller cities there simply aren't many places for a homeless veteran to go. And as affordable housing units shrink nationwide, veterans living on a disability check of, say, $700 a month, (which means a 50-percent disability rating from the VA), are hard-pressed to find a place to live. Last week, the VA approved $24 million to boost aid for the homeless, which will allow them to add about 1,000 more beds and increase the number of grants to help the growing population of homeless women veterans and those with mental illnesses. . . . Much of the work with new veterans is being done one soldier at a time. At New Directions in Los Angeles, a center that rehabilitates homeless veterans, Anthony Belcher, a formerly homeless Vietnam vet who now works at the center, looks out for one particular Iraq veteran who shows up at the center about once a month, filthy, drugged out and tortured by PTSD. "He's a baby," Belcher says. "You can see it in his eyes." So far, the young vet is too wary to accept more than a night's bed or a hot meal. But as Belcher says, at least he has a place to go. That's more than many of the thousands of vets on America’s streets can say tonight.
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posted by Lorenzo 9:37 AM
Not ONE Member of the Bush Extended Family Has Served in Iraq!
Not one -- not one -- of any of Bush's children or his nieces and nephews have volunteered for service in any branch of the military or volunteered to serve in any capacity in Iraq. Not one of them has felt the cause was noble enough to put his or her life on the line. . . . If Iraq is such an "honorable" cause, how come not one -- not one -- of Bush's extended family has joined the military to fight there? Not one. . . . Same for Cheney's family. Bush and Cheney were cowards who avoided service in Vietnam, sending other men to die for them. Now, they've made elitist craven "warmongering" a family affair. . . . They are frauds who send off the children of other American families to die in one of their many delusional "fiascos." And then they mistreat the wounded veterans, after not giving them sufficient protective gear to begin with. . . . It's the treason borne of men who personally lack the courage of their convictions. . . . It is like playing millionaire's poker with someone else's money and doubling down after a series of non-stop losses -- only this involves the children of Americans needlessly dying -- as well as the children of Iraqis. . . . This is a crime of cowards. . . . And there are grandparents and parents dying in Iraq too -- our reservist GIs -- so the Cheney girls aren't too old to serve, either, not to mention Jeb's children and the Bush twins. . . Put your lives where your mouths are -- and take Sean Hannity and all the age-eligible propagandists at FOX News with you. . . . Remember, not one -- not one -- of the vast Bush dynasty members has served in Iraq, let alone even join the military during the "War on Terror." Not one.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:01 PM
As Badly Wounded US Troops Overwhelm System, Bush Seeks Cuts To VA
(Andrew Taylor, Associated Press, February 12, 2007)
The Bush administration plans to cut funding for veterans' health care two years from now - even as badly wounded troops returning from Iraq could overwhelm the system. . . . Bush is using the cuts, critics say, to help fulfill his pledge to balance the budget by 2012. . . . After an increase sought for next year, the Bush budget would turn current trends on their head. Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing rapidly, White House documents assume consecutive cutbacks in 2009 and 2010 and a freeze thereafter. . . . The proposed cuts are unrealistic in light of recent VA trends - its medical budget has risen every year for two decades and 83 percent the last six years - sowing suspicion the White House is making them up to make its long-term deficit figures look better. . . . Either the administration is willingly proposing massive cuts in VA health care," said Rep. Chet Edwards of Texas, chairman of the panel overseeing the VA's budget. "Or its promise of a balanced budget by 2012 is based on completely unrealistic assumptions." . . . A spokesman for Larry Craig, R-Idaho, of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, called the White House moves another step in a longtime "budgeting game."
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posted by Lorenzo 7:00 AM
Death toll of U.S. troops in Iraq rising
(Robert Burns, Associated Press, February 7, 2007)
More American troops were killed in combat in
Iraq over the past four months — at least 334 through Jan. 31 — than in any comparable stretch since the war began, according to an Associated Press analysis of casualty records. . . . Not since the bloody battle for Fallujah in 2004 has the death toll [in Bush's war] spiked so high. . . . The reason is that U.S. soldiers and Marines are fighting more battles in the streets of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and other cities. And while hostile forces are using a variety of weaponry, the top killer is the roadside bomb. . . . And with President Bush now sending thousands more U.S. troops to Baghdad and western Anbar province, despite opposition in Congress and the American public's increasing war weariness, the prospect looms of even higher casualties. . . . . . . The shadowy insurgency has managed to counter or compensate for every new U.S. military technique for defeating roadside bombs, which over time have proliferated and grown increasingly powerful. . . . The increasingly urban nature of the war is reflected in the fact that a higher percentage of U.S. deaths have been in Baghdad lately. Over the course of the war, at least 1,142 U.S. troops have died in Anbar province, the heart of the Sunni Arab insurgency, through Feb. 6, according to an AP count. That compares with 713 in Baghdad. But since Dec. 28, 2006, there were more in Baghdad than in Anbar — 33 to 31. . . . The surge in combat deaths comes as the Pentagon begins adding 21,500 troops in Iraq as part of Bush's new strategy for stabilizing the country. Most are going to Baghdad, but some are being sent Anbar. . . . With the buildup, U.S. forces will be operating more aggressively in Baghdad as they try to tamp down sectarian bloodshed, a tactical shift that senior military officials say raises the prospect of even higher U.S. casualties. . . . It is not possible to fully track the trend in bomb-caused deaths by month. The U.S. military considers such information secret because it is considered potentially useful to the insurgents and their backers. Also, the Marines do not announce the specific cause of any of their combat deaths, whereas the Army does. . . . Hostile forces also have had more success lately shooting down U.S. helicopters, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged Tuesday. He said four U.S. helicopters in recent weeks have been shot down by small arms fire, including a Black Hawk in which all 12 National Guard soldiers aboard were killed. . . . What's more, there have been troubling new twists to some other attacks, including the sneak attack in Karbala that killed five U.S. soldiers; four of them were abducted and executed by unknown gunmen. . . . Less than a year ago, U.S. commanders were anticipating a different scenario, starting a U.S. withdrawal and a more central role for Iraqi troops in battling the insurgents in major cities. Instead, U.S. troops had to step in more directly as the Iraqis came up short, particularly in Baghdad. . . . Now, under a new approach announced by Bush on Jan. 10, U.S. troops will be paired up with Iraqi brigades in each of nine districts across Baghdad, rather than operating mainly from large U.S. bases. . . . "Our troops are going to be inserted into the most difficult areas imaginable — right into neighborhoods, right in the face of the Iraqis," . . . The American public clearly has soured on the war. In an AP-Ipsos poll taken Jan. 8-10 , 62 percent said they thought, looking back, that it had been a mistake to go to war . . . The upward trend began in August, the same month that U.S. and Iraqi forces launched the second phase of a Baghdad security crackdown, dubbed Operation Together Forward, that ultimately failed. From a total of 38 killed in July, the number rose to 58 in August, 61 in September and 99 in October, according to an Associated Press count. . . . It slipped to 59 in November but jumped to 96 in December and totaled 80 in January.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:27 AM
DoD Audit: Pentagon has failed to properly equip soldiers in Iraq
(Dawn Kopecki, Business Week, January 30, 2007)
The Inspector General for the Defense Dept. is concerned that the U.S. military has failed to adequately equip soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially for nontraditional duties such as training Iraqi security forces and handling detainees, according to a summary of a new audit obtained by BusinessWeek. . . . The findings come as the Pentagon prepares to send another 21,500 troops to Iraq and as Democratic leaders levy threats to restrict funding for a war that's already cost about $500 billion. The Army alone expects to spend an extra $70 billion on an additional 65,000 permanent troops from fiscal year 2009 through 2013. According to Army officials, $18 billion of that will be spent on equipment. . . . The Inspector General found that the Pentagon hasn't been able to properly equip the soldiers it already has. Many have gone without enough guns, ammunition, and other necessary supplies to "effectively complete their missions" and have had to cancel or postpone some assignments while waiting for the proper gear, according to the report from auditors with the Defense Dept. Inspector General's office. Soldiers have also found themselves short on body armor, armored vehicles, and communications equipment, among other things, auditors found. . . . "As a result, service members performed missions without the proper equipment, used informal procedures to obtain equipment and sustainment support, and canceled or postponed missions while waiting to receive equipment," reads the executive summary dated Jan. 25. Service members often borrowed or traded with each other to get the needed supplies, according to the summary. . . . The audit supports news reports and other evidence that U.S. troops have been stretched too thin or have performed tasks for which they were ill-prepared. It is likely to add fuel to the opposition to President George W. Bush's decision to send more troops to Iraq in an effort to quell the violence there. . . . Already, support for the troop increase is tepid in the Senate, where Democrats are preparing to vote on a nonbinding statement against the President's plan. While lawmakers have threatened to reduce funding for the war, few have publicly committed to using the "power of the purse" to block funding for the troop surge. "The thing we're going to do now is very important, to show the American people that the United States Senate, on a bipartisan basis, does not support an escalation," says Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). "Even the Republicans are very timid in their support for the President at this stage." . . . In the summary of the Inspector General's audit, the equipment shortages were attributed to basic management failures among military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. Central Command lacked standard policies for requesting and tracking equipment requirements or for equipping units to perform nontraditional duties. Auditors surveyed 1,100 service members stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan from all four military branches, the National Guard, and Reserves.
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posted by Lorenzo 6:36 AM
Still crazy after all these years
(Attytood, January 10, 2007)
January 10, 1967: The big news story that night? President Lyndon B. Johnson's State of the Union address. . . . The topic that dominated all others: Vietnam. . . . I'm going to guide you to some excerpts of that address -- exactly 40 years ago tonight. See how it compares to some of the excerpts from President Bush's speech that were just released minutes ago:
Lyndon B. Johnson, Jan. 10, 1967: We have chosen to fight a limited war in Vietnam in an attempt to prevent a larger war--a war almost certain to follow, I believe, if the Communists succeed in overrunning and taking over South Vietnam by aggression and by force. I believe, and I am supported by some authority, that if they are not checked now the world can expect to pay a greater price to check them later.
George W. Bush, Jan. 10, 2007: Tonight in Iraq, the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged in a struggle that will determine the direction of the global war on terror – and our safety here at home. The new strategy I outline tonight will change America's course in Iraq, and help us succeed in the fight against terror.
LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: I wish I could report to you that the conflict is almost over. This I cannot do. We face more cost, more loss, and more agony. For the end is not yet. I cannot promise you that it will come this year--or come next year. Our adversary still believes, I think, tonight, that he can go on fighting longer than we can, and longer than we and our allies will be prepared to stand up and resist.
GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have.
LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: Our South Vietnamese allies are also being tested tonight. Because they must provide real security to the people living in the countryside. And this means reducing the terrorism and the armed attacks which kidnaped and killed 26,900 civilians in the last 32 months, to levels where they can be successfully controlled by the regular South Vietnamese security forces. It means bringing to the villagers an effective civilian government that they can respect, and that they can rely upon and that they can participate in, and that they can have a personal stake in. We hope that government is now beginning to emerge.
GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Only the Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. And their government has put forward an aggressive plan to do it.
LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: This forward movement is rooted in the ambitions and the interests of Asian nations themselves. It was precisely this movement that we hoped to accelerate when I spoke at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore in April 1965, and I pledged "a much more massive effort to improve the life of man" in that part of the world, in the hope that we could take some of the funds that we were spending on bullets and bombs and spend it on schools and production.
GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.
LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: A time of testing--yes. And a time of transition. The transition is sometimes slow; sometimes unpopular; almost always very painful; and often quite dangerous. But we have lived with danger for a long time before, and we shall live with it for a long time yet to come. We know that "man is born unto trouble." We also know that this Nation was not forged and did not survive and grow and prosper without a great deal of sacrifice from a great many men.
GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship. . . . A democratic Iraq will not be perfect. But it will be a country that fights terrorists instead of harboring them – and it will help bring a future of peace and security for our children and grandchildren.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:47 AM
Bush talks nonsense about situation in Iraq
(Editorial, Minneapolis StarTribune, December 1, 2006)
When President Bush pronounced Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki "the right guy for Iraq" Thursday, it recalled Bush's infamous "heck of a job" comment about FEMA Director Michael Brown's incompetent response to Hurricane Katrina. Both comments say more about Bush than Brown or Al-Maliki: On Iraq, as on Katrina, Bush has completely slipped the moorings of reality. . . . Even as the president was speaking to Al-Maliki in Amman, Jordan, rival Shiite and Sunni groups in Baghdad -- including those controlled by Al-Maliki's patron, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr -- were massing for all-out battle. Bloodshed in the capital has reached its highest level since the American invasion. Whatever happens now in Iraq will have little to do with what the United States wants to happen. . . . Bush showed the clear unreality of his views during a stop in Latvia earlier in the week. He refused to acknowledge the civil war that is plain to see; pronounced, incredibly, that Al-Qaida is the major threat in Iraq, and pledged, again, that he would "not pull American troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete." . . . If the troops still have an actual mission in Iraq, it should be to hunker down and stay safe until someone figures out how to get them home. . . . The Iraq Study Group is searching for that way. Its report, due to Bush next week but leaked to the New York Times Wednesday, pushes Bush to begin withdrawing U.S. combat brigades in the new year. . . . A bipartisan effort is likely to take shape in Congress early next year to press Bush into pulling troops. That's the study group's intended effect: It believes that unless the Iraqis see that Bush is under pressure to begin withdrawals, they will have "zero sense of urgency to reach the political settlement that needs to be reached," as one source told the Times. . . . The report also spends considerable time outlining aggressive diplomacy it believes the Bush administration should undertake in the region, including contact with Iran and Syria that Bush has repeatedly rejected. . . . Throughout its deliberations, the study group worried that its report might come too late, and it may have, especially given Bush's continuing refusal to confront reality. A horrific bloodletting may now be inevitable in Iraq no matter what anyone wants. We hope this report, with the pressure it will put on both Bush and Al-Maliki, can help avoid that, but it's a long shot. Through arrogance, willful ignorance and stubborness, Bush has created in Iraq a real dog's breakfast -- a mess.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:17 PM
Powell says world should recognize Iraq at civil war
(Diala Saadeh, Reuters, November 29, 2006)
Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Wednesday Iraq had descended into civil war and urged world leaders to accept that "reality". . . . Powell's remarks came ahead of a meeting between Bush and Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki in the Jordanian capital to discuss the security developments in Iraq. . . . "I would call it a civil war," Powell told a business forum in the United Arab Emirates. "I have been using it (civil war) because I like to face the reality," added Powell. . . . He said world leaders should acknowledge Iraq was in civil war. . . . Bush is under growing pressure to find a new policy to curb sectarian strife in Iraq and to secure an exit for 140,000 U.S. troops . . . Powell, speaking at a world leaders forum in Dubai, said Washington should adopt a more balanced policy toward Iraq's political parties and sects to avoid marginalizing Sunni Muslims. . . . "We have to accept what all Iraqis accept, not to end up seeing a Shi'ite-dominated regime," he said. . . . "The coming strategy has to be an Iraqi strategy, not American strategy," said Powell.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:22 PM