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Topic: Iraq (Read 132383 times)
October 05, 2006, 12:08:07 PM »
The WW3 thread was getting crowded, so we are starting separate threads for the different theaters of WW3.
I begin with some news (about 4 weeks old) that your normal news sources probably did not report.
68 INSURGENTS CAPTURED IN A 2-DAY PERIOD
CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq ? Iraqi police and soldiers, along with U.S. Marines and soldiers from Regimental Combat Team 7, captured 68 confirmed insurgents over the weekend throughout the western Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
U.S. and Iraqi forces detained the known and suspected insurgents through a series of pre-planned operations.
Iraqi police identified and detained 18 of the 38 captured insurgents in Rawah, Iraq, about 50 miles east of the Iraqi-Syrian border.
One of the suspects captured by Rawah police officers is wanted for involvement with a vehicle suicide bombing against a U.S. military check point in the region July 29. Several more captured in Rawah are involved in a recent attack on a Rawah police officer?s family. Police officers in Rawah also discovered two improvised explosive devices there Sunday.
Iraqi and U.S. soldiers captured 11 insurgents Sunday in Hit, a city of about 60,000, located approximately 70 miles northwest of Ramadi.
Through a variety of counterinsurgency operations, Iraqi soldiers and U.S. Marines captured 31 known insurgents in 3 cities. One captured insurgent was part of a 4-man insurgent cell operating in Hadithah.
U.S. Marines captured 6 more insurgents Saturday in Sa?dah, a town just east of the Iraqi-Syrian border. Marines also discovered an ordnance cache near the border on Saturday. The cache consisted of 120 mm rockets, 155 mm rockets, and 122 mm rockets.
5 TERRORISTS KILLED DURING RAID AND AIR STRIKE
BAGHDAD ? A raid early on the morning of Sept. 4 on a safe-house targeting an individual with ties to movement of terrorist finances and foreign fighters into Iraq led to 5 terrorists killed in Muqdadiyah.
As U.S. forces assaulted the target, they were immediately engaged by terrorist forces. In the ensuing firefight, 2 terrorists were killed. Additionally, a woman and her two children were with the terrorists. U.S. forces found blasting caps, improvised explosive device materials, and multiple ammunition rack systems and weapons on the objective. Both children were struck with fragmentation and one subsequently died.
As the raid progressed, 2 additional terrorists, who were both armed, were killed in the courtyard of the house.
Prior to moving to a subsequent objective where armed terrorists had been observed earlier, multiple precision fires were directed on the location to suppress the threat while minimizing collateral damage. This strike resulted in one terrorist?s death who was found carrying an assault rifle, a pistol, two ammunition racks and a ski mask.
Two individuals were then observed moving from a nearby palm grove toward the objective. U.S. forces identified they were unarmed and intercepted them without force. Upon questioning, they observed that the two men were beaten and wearing handcuffs. The men described being held hostage by up to ten foreign and Iraqi terrorists for ransom. They managed to escape when their captors fled as the raid and subsequent air strike was initiated.
For several days, multiple terrorists have been observed operating out of the safehouse throughout the day and bedding down at night in the palm grove.
COALITION FORCES FREE ANOTHER KIDNAP VICTIM, CAPTURE 3 TERRORISTS
KIRKUK, Iraq ? Bastogne Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division freed a kidnap victim and captured three of the terrorists who had taken him hostage just outside of Kirkuk today.
An aerial reconnaissance team, flying missions near Kirkuk, spotted four men wearing black robes and wielding AK-47 rifles. The men stopped their sedan several times along one of the area?s main roads and set up illegal checkpoints at each stop. The aeriel recon team video-taped the entire action.
As coalition ground forces moved into the area, the group made their last stop, holding 10 passengers in a van at gunpoint before pulling one of the men out of the vehicle. The four then forced the man into the trunk of their car and sped away.
As Bastogne Soldiers on the ground were moving in on the vehicle, the sedan stopped, allowing one of the terrorists to get out of the vehicle. The remaining group continued to a nearby building where they jumped out of their car and ran into the building, taking their victim with them.
A team of Bastogne Soldiers air assaulted to the area and quickly moved into the building, capturing the three assailants and freeing the hostage. A careful search of the building revealed three AK-47 rifles and several magazines, as well as a barrel filled with ammunition.
This is the 3rd Iraqi citizen rescued from the hands of kidnappers by 101st Airborne Division Soldiers this month.
MARINES CAPTURE 40 INSURGENTS, KILL 3; U.S. AIR STRIKE KILLS 3-MAN INSURGENT MORTAR CREW
CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq ? U.S. Marines captured 40 insurgents yesterday throughout the Haditha Triad region in western Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
Marines from the Hawaii-based 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, known as ?America?s Battalion,? captured the 40 insurgents during pre-planned counterinsurgency operations in the ?Triad? region.
Also, a U.S scout sniper team fired upon insurgents, which were firing upon a Marine M1A1 tank on a road in Haditha. 2 of the insurgents were killed; 1 wounded.
This follows a day after a separate scout sniper team fired at insurgents. 1 insurgent was killed while digging a hole in a spot where numerous IEDs have recently been discovered or detonated.
?The Battalion?s successes over the last several days are really the result of the anti-Iraqi forces conducting attacks out of desperation. They see the growing capability of the Iraqi Army and recent fielding of the Iraqi Police as the clear beginning to the end of their influence in the Triad,? said Lt. Col. Norm Cooling, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.
The Haditha Triad is a region made up of three neighboring cities ? Haditha, Barwanah and Haqlaniyah ? with a combined population of about 70,000, nestled along the Euphrates River about 160 miles northwest of Baghdad.
In Baghdad, a U.S. air strike on a building killed 3 members of a mortar crew on Friday. Some civilians may have been wounded in the bombing.
293 IRAQIS JOIN ARMY
CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq ? Soldiers from the 1st Iraqi Army Division enlisted 293 Iraqi males from greater Fallujah and Habbaniyah as part of an al Anbar Province-wide recruiting drive Tuesday and Wednesday.
?They looked enthusiastic about doing this, and that?s a good sign,? said Maj. William Gerst, an operations officer who assisted the Iraqis in the coordination of the campaign. ?It?s a sign that they notice we?re here to help them and they are taking control of their own destiny.?
?I want to serve our country and defend Iraq,? said one recruit through an interpreter.
?Patriotism? I want to defend my country,? said another.
The recruits were then transported by Marines to a month-long boot camp in Habbaniyah staffed solely by Iraqi personnel drawn from the 1st Iraqi Army Division.
Iraq Cites Arrest of a Top Local Insurgent; Officials say he is No. 2 in Al-Qaeda Group
BAGHDA, Sept. 3 -- U.S. and Iraqi forces have captured a top al-Qaeda leader who ordered the bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine in Samarra that triggered a wave of ferocious sectarian killings, Iraqi officials said Sunday.
The arrest of Hamed Jumaa Faris Juri al-Saeidi, the No. 2 leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, was the latest in a series of blows to the insurgent group.
"The al-Qaeda organization in Iraq has been seriously weakened and is now suffering from a leadership vacuum," Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie. 20 Senior al-Qaeda in Iraq fighters have been captured or killed based on information from Saeidi since his arrest within the past few weeks, Iraqi officials said.
The Mujaheddin Shura Council, an insurgent coalition that includes al-Qaeda in Iraq, denied that Saeidi was a member of al-Qaeda. A leader of another group in the council, however, confirmed that Saeidi belonged to al-Qaeda.
Saeidi, an intelligence officer for Saddam, was captured within the past few weeks as he hid among women and children in a location near Baghdad. Saeidi confessed that he had joined al-Qaeda in Iraq three years ago and is being held by U.S.-led forces.
In an attempt to thrust Iraq into a full-scale civil war, Saeidi supervised Haitham al-Badri, an operative under his command, in carrying out the Feb. 22 bombing of a revered golden-domed Shiite shrine in Samarra, officials said. That attack sparked brutal reprisal killings by both Shiites and Sunnis that have left thousands of people dead.
"Why did you kill hundreds of people?" Saeidi was asked during a recent interrogation.
What do you mean 'hundreds of people?' I've killed thousands," Saeidi responded.
In other news:
MUQDADIYA - U.S. troops killed 5 men in a ground assault and air strike on what they called a "safe house", targeting a person involved in moving money and foreign fighters into Iraq. A child was also killed in the fighting in Muqdadiya, northeast of Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement. It said the operation freed two men who had been held hostage.
IRAQI ARMY TARGETS INSURGENTS IN MULTIPLE RAIDS
BAGHDAD ? Iraqi Army units, with Coalition Force advisers, conducted multiple raids on September 6 to capture individuals connected with insurgent activities that target Iraqi Army, Coalition Forces and Iraqi citizens.
In a raid in Habbiniyah, Iraqi Army forces captured 4 individuals engaged in insurgent activities against Iraqi and coalition forces. One individual was especially wanted as he was an improvised explosive device emplacer believed connected with multiple attacks.
In another raid in Taji, an insurgent engaged in an intimidation campaign against Iraqi citizens was captured. The insurgent had recently taken control of an insurgent cell whose previous leader had been captured by Iraqi security forces and was currently engaged in the systematic kidnapping of fellow citizens.
In an additional raid in Ramadi, a sniper and 4 others for detonating IEDs against Iraqi forces were captured. All raids occurred without further incident with no reported casualties.
U.S. SOLDIERS KILL INSURGENT AND WOUND ANOTHER
TIKRIT, Iraq ? U.S. Soldiers killed one insurgent and wounded another near Hawija, Iraq. The Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division, spotted the insurgents placing a roadside improvised explosive device and engaged them with small arms fire.
An explosive ordinance disposal team was sent to the site and found a mortar round next to the insurgents? vehicle.
IRAQI POLICE, U.S. MPs CAPTURE 10 WEAPONS SMUGGLERS
BAGHDAD ? Iraqi police, with the assistance of Soldiers from 615th Military Police Company, 1st Armored Division, captured 10 weapons smugglers Thursday.
The 33 weapons were confiscated in addition to more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition, nine body armor vests and various bomb-making materials..
82nd Airborne Div.
Reply #1 on:
October 08, 2006, 07:50:29 AM »
The Secret Letter From Iraq
A Marine's letter home, with its frank description of life in "Dante's inferno," has been circulating through generals' in-boxes. We publish it here with the author's approval
Posted Friday, Oct. 06, 2006
Written last month, this straightforward account of life in Iraq by a Marine officer was initially sent just to a small group of family and friends. His honest but wry narration and unusually frank dissection of the mission contrasts sharply with the story presented by both sides of the Iraq war debate, the Pentagon spin masters and fierce critics. Perhaps inevitably, the "Letter from Iraq" moved quickly beyond the small group of acquantainaces and hit the inboxes of retired generals, officers in the Pentagon, and staffers on Capitol Hill. TIME's Sally B. Donnelly first received a copy three weeks ago but only this week was able to track down the author and verify the document's authenticity. The author wishes to remain anonymous but has allowed us to publish it here ? with a few judicious omissions.
All: I haven't written very much from Iraq. There's really not much to write about. More exactly, there's not much I can write about because practically everything I do, read or hear is classified military information or is depressing to the point that I'd rather just forget about it, never mind write about it. The gaps in between all of that are filled with the pure tedium of daily life in an armed camp. So it's a bit of a struggle to think of anything to put into a letter that's worth reading. Worse, this place just consumes you. I work 18-20-hour days, every day. The quest to draw a clear picture of what the insurgents are up to never ends. Problems and frictions crop up faster than solutions. Every challenge demands a response. It's like this every day. Before I know it, I can't see straight, because it's 0400 and I've been at work for 20 hours straight, somehow missing dinner again in the process. And once again I haven't written to anyone. It starts all over again four hours later. It's not really like Ground Hog Day, it's more like a level from Dante's Inferno.
Rather than attempting to sum up the last seven months, I figured I'd just hit the record-setting highlights of 2006 in Iraq. These are among the events and experiences I'll remember best.
Worst Case of D?j? Vu ? I thought I was familiar with the feeling of d?j? vu until I arrived back here in Fallujah in February. The moment I stepped off of the helicopter, just as dawn broke, and saw the camp just as I had left it ten months before ? that was d?j? vu. Kind of unnerving. It was as if I had never left. Same work area, same busted desk, same chair, same computer, same room, same creaky rack, same... everything. Same everything for the next year. It was like entering a parallel universe. Home wasn't 10,000 miles away, it was a different lifetime.
Most Surreal Moment ? Watching Marines arrive at my detention facility and unload a truck load of flex-cuffed midgets. 26 to be exact. We had put the word out earlier in the day to the Marines in Fallujah that we were looking for Bad Guy X, who was described as a midget. Little did I know that Fallujah was home to a small community of midgets, who banded together for support since they were considered as social outcasts. The Marines were anxious to get back to the midget colony to bring in the rest of the midget suspects, but I called off the search, figuring Bad Guy X was long gone on his short legs after seeing his companions rounded up by the giant infidels.
Most Profound Man in Iraq ? an unidentified farmer in a fairly remote area who, after being asked by Reconnaissance Marines if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area replied "Yes, you."
Worst City in al-Anbar Province ? Ramadi, hands down. The provincial capital of 400,000 people. Lots and lots of insurgents killed in there since we arrived in February. Every day is a nasty gun battle. They blast us with giant bombs in the road, snipers, mortars and small arms. We blast them with tanks, attack helicopters, artillery, our snipers (much better than theirs), and every weapon that an infantryman can carry. Every day. Incredibly, I rarely see Ramadi in the news. We have as many attacks out here in the west as Baghdad. Yet, Baghdad has 7 million people, we have just 1.2 million. Per capita, al-Anbar province is the most violent place in Iraq by several orders of magnitude. I suppose it was no accident that the Marines were assigned this area in 2003.
Bravest Guy in al-Anbar Province ? Any Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (EOD Tech). How'd you like a job that required you to defuse bombs in a hole in the middle of the road that very likely are booby-trapped or connected by wire to a bad guy who's just waiting for you to get close to the bomb before he clicks the detonator? Every day. Sanitation workers in New York City get paid more than these guys. Talk about courage and commitment.
Second Bravest Guy in al-Anbar Province ? It's a 20,000-way tie among all these Marines and Soldiers who venture out on the highways and through the towns of al-Anbar every day, not knowing if it will be their last ? and for a couple of them, it will be.
Worst E-Mail Message ? "The Walking Blood Bank is Activated. We need blood type A+ stat." I always head down to the surgical unit as soon as I get these messages, but I never give blood ? there's always about 80 Marines in line, night or day.
Biggest Surprise ? Iraqi Police. All local guys. I never figured that we'd get a police force established in the cities in al-Anbar. I estimated that insurgents would kill the first few, scaring off the rest. Well, insurgents did kill the first few, but the cops kept on coming. The insurgents continue to target the police, killing them in their homes and on the streets, but the cops won't give up. Absolutely incredible tenacity. The insurgents know that the police are far better at finding them than we are ? and they are finding them. Now, if we could just get them out of the habit of beating prisoners to a pulp...
Greatest Vindication ? Stocking up on outrageous quantities of Diet Coke from the chow hall in spite of the derision from my men on such hoarding, then having a 122mm rocket blast apart the giant shipping container that held all of the soda for the chow hall. Yep, you can't buy experience.
Biggest Mystery ? How some people can gain weight out here. I'm down to 165 lbs. Who has time to eat?
Second Biggest Mystery ? if there's no atheists in foxholes, then why aren't there more people at Mass every Sunday?
Favorite Iraqi TV Show ? Oprah. I have no idea. They all have satellite TV.
Coolest Insurgent Act ? Stealing almost $7 million from the main bank in Ramadi in broad daylight, then, upon exiting, waving to the Marines in the combat outpost right next to the bank, who had no clue of what was going on. The Marines waved back. Too cool.
Most Memorable Scene ? In the middle of the night, on a dusty airfield, watching the better part of a battalion of Marines packed up and ready to go home after over six months in al-Anbar, the relief etched in their young faces even in the moonlight. Then watching these same Marines exchange glances with a similar number of grunts loaded down with gear file past ? their replacements. Nothing was said. Nothing needed to be said.
Highest Unit Re-enlistment Rate ? Any outfit that has been in Iraq recently. All the danger, all the hardship, all the time away from home, all the horror, all the frustrations with the fight here ? all are outweighed by the desire for young men to be part of a band of brothers who will die for one another. They found what they were looking for when they enlisted out of high school. Man for man, they now have more combat experience than any Marines in the history of our Corps.
Most Surprising Thing I Don't Miss ? Beer. Perhaps being half-stunned by lack of sleep makes up for it.
Worst Smell ? Porta-johns in 120-degree heat ? and that's 120 degrees outside of the porta-john.
Highest Temperature ? I don't know exactly, but it was in the porta-johns. Needed to re-hydrate after each trip to the loo.
Biggest Hassle ? High-ranking visitors. More disruptive to work than a rocket attack. VIPs demand briefs and "battlefield" tours (we take them to quiet sections of Fallujah, which is plenty scary for them). Our briefs and commentary seem to have no effect on their preconceived notions of what's going on in Iraq. Their trips allow them to say that they've been to Fallujah, which gives them an unfortunate degree of credibility in perpetuating their fantasies about the insurgency here.
Biggest Outrage ? Practically anything said by talking heads on TV about the war in Iraq, not that I get to watch much TV. Their thoughts are consistently both grossly simplistic and politically slanted. Biggest Offender: Bill O'Reilly.
Best Intel Work ? Finding Jill Carroll's kidnappers ? all of them. I was mighty proud of my guys that day. I figured we'd all get the Christian Science Monitor for free after this, but none have showed up yet.
Saddest Moment ? Having an infantry battalion commander hand me the dog tags of one of my Marines who had just been killed while on a mission with his unit. Hit by a 60mm mortar. He was a great Marine. I felt crushed for a long time afterward. His picture now hangs at the entrance to our section area. We'll carry it home with us when we leave in February.
Best Chuck Norris Moment ? 13 May. Bad Guys arrived at the government center in a small town to kidnap the mayor, since they have a problem with any form of government that does not include regular beheadings and women wearing burqahs. There were seven of them. As they brought the mayor out to put him in a pick-up truck to take him off to be beheaded (on video, as usual), one of the Bad Guys put down his machine gun so that he could tie the mayor's hands. The mayor took the opportunity to pick up the machine gun and drill five of the Bad Guys. The other two ran away. One of the dead Bad Guys was on our top twenty wanted list. Like they say, you can't fight City Hall.
Worst Sound ? That crack-boom off in the distance that means an IED or mine just went off. You just wonder who got it, hoping that it was a near miss rather than a direct hit. Hear it practically every day.
Second Worst Sound ? Our artillery firing without warning. The howitzers are pretty close to where I work. Believe me, outgoing sounds a lot like incoming when our guns are firing right over our heads. They'd about knock the fillings out of your teeth.
Only Thing Better in Iraq Than in the U.S. ? Sunsets. Spectacular. It's from all the dust in the air.
Proudest Moment ? It's a tie every day, watching our Marines produce phenomenal intelligence products that go pretty far in teasing apart Bad Guy operations in al-Anbar. Every night Marines and Soldiers are kicking in doors and grabbing Bad Guys based on intelligence developed by our guys. We rarely lose a Marine during these raids, they are so well-informed of the objective. A bunch of kids right out of high school shouldn't be able to work so well, but they do.
Happiest Moment ? Well, it wasn't in Iraq. There are no truly happy moments here. It was back in California when I was able to hold my family again while home on leave during July.
Most Common Thought ? Home. Always thinking of home, of my great wife and the kids. Wondering how everyone else is getting along. Regretting that I don't write more. Yep, always thinking of home.
I hope you all are doing well. If you want to do something for me, kiss a cop, flush a toilet, and drink a beer. I'll try to write again before too long ? I promise.
Reply #2 on:
October 08, 2006, 03:02:35 PM »
Well written and well to the point...? I was in Al Anbar province for 7 months in 2005,? as a Corpsman attached to MCD "Mine Clearing Detachment Quick Reaction Force" as well as spending countless hours attached to the Security Platoon and in the STP/BAS trying to help the wounded...? I have walked and lead many convoys around that area.? I remember one of our Iraqi troops that went home on liberty one weekend and did not return.? As the story goes, he went through a (VCP) vehicle check point and showed his ID.? He was shot on sight.? It was a false check point ran by insugents.? The Iraqi people are fighting for their freedom right along side of us and also making the ultimate sacrifices for hopes of a better future.? I have listened to many stories from the ING and ISF about their personal experiences with Saddam and it is far worse than that which is shared with the media.
I am not going to steal the thunder here but thanks for sharing and keeping it real.? I expect in time there will be a lot that comes out in the wash.? I know I have a lot that will never be discussed.....? And there are alot of videos that will never be shared for years to come.? All in due time.? What has hit the press is nothing compared to what is out there, in our troops personal collections.?
Not everywhere has porta Johns... In Husaybah at camp Gannon we had good old fashoined burn barrels and your shower for months came by the way of poking holes in water bottles and rinsing off. One day my Medical Officer was walking to go poop. He forgot his wet wipes (Thank God), he went back to ge them. As he was aproaching it for the second time it was blown up by a mortar round. Talk about divine intervention... LOL
If you dont laugh you cry
Last Edit: October 08, 2006, 03:13:43 PM by loyalonehk
Reply #3 on:
October 08, 2006, 03:03:51 PM »
Reply #4 on:
October 08, 2006, 04:05:39 PM »
"I am not going to steal the thunder here but thanks for sharing and keeping it real."
Those who have been ARE the lightening and the thunder.
Dog Greg Brown
Reply #5 on:
October 08, 2006, 10:21:52 PM »
A close friend of mine is a USMC staff sgt. He is 26 and has now spent 1 tour in afgan, one tour in iraq that was one five hours notice cut short and was sent home for a tour doing airport security. He was informed that he will be shipping out on jan 2nd and will be coming home for good in march. Then its just the uncertainty of inactive reserve. From what he has said and from what the other guys I know have said. Things are def not getting better in any way.
Reply #6 on:
October 09, 2006, 08:17:08 AM »
Quote from: Dog Greg Brown on October 08, 2006, 10:21:52 PM
Then its just the uncertainty of inactive reserve.
The latest news I have heard, is that they are currently doing an involuntary recall, at least for the Corpsmen.? The way they are selecting them;? they are going after the guys that have been inactive for at least one year, but still have at least one year left in inactive status before their contract is up.? Im not sure about the Marines but I would suspect it is the same.
Doesn't make much sense to me...? You end your enlisted active service, decompress a bit and start getting your life together (ie job, familly, etc.), then they throw a wrench back in the mix and reactivate you?
Militarty Logic - LOL?
Also we currently have NCS "National Call to Service" Corpsmen.? They sign 2 years active duty contracts.? After boot camp, "A" school (Hospital Corps School) then FMSS (Field Medical Service School) they get sent straight to division then service 15 months with division.? They go to combat then go onto inactive status thinking all is done....? ?Psyc!? Phone rings and now you are getting sent again.? Sad part is when the recruiter signs them up as NCS they dont get the full benefits.? No Mongomery GI Bill, etc.? Just wham bam thank you ma'am.
Anyone thinking of going NCS should really look into it long and hard before signing.? (IMHO) Better off just going for the whole package.
In addition I feel it is dangerous for the well being of the Marines we serve with.? Our NCS guys get sent straight to the line companies.? With only 15 months to spend with us, there is no reason to send them for additional training or put them in a lead position (ie Senior Line Co. Corpsman, Sick Call, Admin. Training or Supply) no time to get to go to OEMS (Operational Emergency Medical Skills training or EMT school)....? Doesn't really set anyone up for success IMHO (Marines or Sailors).? In the long run, I feel we will all suffer from this program.
Last Edit: October 09, 2006, 08:26:59 AM by loyalonehk
Reply #7 on:
October 09, 2006, 08:30:18 AM »
Iraqis have to make compromises to limit incentives to violence.
Monday, October 9, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
Iraq is a big issue this U.S. election season, and it deserves to be. But the debate is mostly backward looking, with arguments about whether regime change was justified, and the media focused on a new book detailing already well known divisions within the Bush Administration. What really matters at this point is supporting the Iraqi political leaders in whose hands the fate of our shared project there now rests. And despite the steady stream of bad news from Iraq, there's still everything to fight for.
It can't be denied that security in Baghdad is not improving. But neither has it grown markedly worse. And it is a matter of underestimated significance that Iraqi political leaders continue to defy pundits and choose not to lead their communities into a "civil war." They are still sitting together in a government, however imperfect.
A recent poll shows Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with favorable ratings in the 80%-plus range, which means Iraqis of all stripes are prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. We hope Mr. Maliki appreciates the political capital he now has to forge compromises on the multitude of tough issues he faces--as well as the fact that this goodwill could evaporate rapidly if he fails to use it.
The immediate concern has to be some progress on security, and the Prime Minister deserves credit for striking an agreement last week to create pan-sectarian neighborhood security committees that could help increase Iraqis' trust in their own police. Iraqi security forces have been making progress against the al Qaeda network. And the recent agreement of leaders in Anbar province to unite against foreign terrorists is also an encouraging sign.
But the Iraqi government is falling short on the provision of security and other basic government services in part because of its lack of honest and competent officials at both ministerial and lower levels. The ministries were handed out mostly as part of a spoils system after the country's sectarian election, and within the ministries themselves there are many officials putting their own political concerns ahead of the country's. Exhibit A may be the Prime Minister's office itself, which is staffed by Dawa Party operatives of questionable competence. One way to reassure Iraqis that he is serious about governing would be for Mr. Maliki to start bringing in some better advisers--from outside the Shiite community if need be.
More importantly, Prime Minister Maliki will have to use his bully pulpit to forge the broad political compromises that are essential to long-run peace. A key issue here is what to do with Iraq's oil wealth. There has been a lot of talk about Sunni opposition to federalism, or strong regional governments. But the Sunnis are primarily worried that strong Kurdish and Shiite regions would hoard Iraq's mineral resources; Sunnis would probably appreciate some autonomy in Anbar province if they were assured they wouldn't be deprived of funds as a result.
In other words, the way to cut the Gordian Knot on federalism is to come up with an oil-sharing plan that guarantees the resource will be apportioned equally. Our favorite idea on this score is the one proposed by Ahmed Chalabi during the Constitutional debates last year, which is the establishment of an Alaska-style oil trust that would make direct payments to all Iraqi citizens.
We spoke last week with Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih and he told us the trust, or "dividend" as he called it, remains very much on the table--and is an idea he supports. He said Iraq's parties have already committed to having the oil wealth apportioned equally by the central government, but that a dispute remains over whether the central government will also have control over new exploration contracts.
This is a disagreement Prime Minister Maliki might want to spend some political capital to settle quickly. The federalism issue, and other challenges such as disarming the militias, will be easier to tackle once everyone understands they have a monetary stake in Iraq's success. Oil can be "a unifying resource, as opposed to a resource people will fight over," as Mr. Salih puts it.
Finally, a word about U.S. troop levels, which continue to be a subject of debate. We've always been skeptical that more troops are a silver bullet for Iraq's violence, much of which is about trying to influence the country's future political landscape. However, if another 10,000 or 20,000 or however many troops would reassure Iraqis in the months ahead that it's safe to make political compromises, then by all means President Bush should deploy them.
The key point is that Iraqis have to make their own political compromises to limit the incentive for violence, and sooner rather than later. The time has long since passed where the U.S. can play anything other than a supporting role in Iraq, and while the patience of the American public has been admirable it is not endless. Iraq will be what its democratically elected, constitutionally legitimate leaders now make of it. In particular, this is Nouri al-Maliki's moment.
Reply #8 on:
October 12, 2006, 08:23:46 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Federalism and Factions in Iraq
Iraq's parliament approved a law on Wednesday that laid down the mechanics of establishing federal regions. The main Sunni parliamentary coalition, the Tawafoq Iraqi Front, and legislators from two major Shiite parties, the al-Sadrite Bloc and al-Fadhila, tried to prevent a vote on the bill by boycotting the session. There were still enough deputies for a quorum, however, and they unanimously approved each of the bill's 200-odd articles in individual votes.
The law establishes a system allowing provinces to come together into autonomous regions that would wield significant self-rule powers; any province interested in becoming part of a region would have to hold a referendum, provided a third of the provincial legislators agree to do so. The legislation also postpones the formation of the autonomous regions for another 18 months -- a concession designed to allay the concerns of the Sunnis, who in September agreed to allow the bill to go to a vote after reaching a deal with the Shia.
This move is not a final deal, but rather a placeholder designed to advance the federalism project so it can move toward the stage of sorting out details. The law's main proponents -- Iraq's main Shiite group, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), and its allies in the ruling Shiite United Iraqi Alliance -- want to be able to push ahead with the creation of a Shiite federal zone, composed of nine provinces in southern Iraq, before the violence in the country gets completely out of hand. They also know that their plans will be blessed by the United States; former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker's Iraq Study Group reportedly is planning to recommend to the Bush administration that Iraq be divided into three federal zones.
For the federalist Shia, the Sunnis are not the only problem -- as is clear from the fact that the al-Sadrite Bloc and al-Fadhila sat out of Wednesday's vote. Both groups oppose the move because they are already locked in a battle with the mainstream Shiite groups, SCIRI and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Hizb al-Dawah, for control of the Shiite south. Al-Fadhila and the movement of Muqtada al-Sadr view the creation of a federal zone as further undercutting the power they wield at the local and regional level in the southern provinces -- both in the official sense and on the street with the militias and oil mafias. This means that in addition to the problems SCIRI and its allies will face in negotiating with the Sunnis over the details of the move toward federalism, they will also have a tough time in the implementation phase, where they will have to deal with the al-Sadrites and al-Fadhila.
The Shiite federalists are to a great degree relying on U.S. military support for their plans to create an autonomous zone. Indeed, we are already seeing stepped-up operations by joint task forces composed of U.S. and Iraqi forces against al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militiamen. Incidentally, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker said Wednesday that the Pentagon is making plans on the assumption that it may have to maintain current troop levels in Iraq until at least 2010. Obviously, Washington realizes that it will be quite some time before the Shiite-dominated Iraqi forces will be able to shoulder the responsibility of security.
SCIRI is the Bush administration's key Shiite ally, so the fact that SCIRI is pushing toward a Shiite federal zone means Washington approves of this plan even before Baker's recommendation. But given the domestic pressure on U.S. President George W. Bush with regard to Iraq, and with the upcoming midterm elections in November possibly giving Democrats control of Congress, it remains an open question whether the United States will be able to continue supporting the federalism project in the long term.
Reply #9 on:
October 13, 2006, 10:29:17 AM »
IRAQ: Dubai-based satellite channel Al Arabiya aired a video of Abu Osama al-Mujahid, a man claiming to be a jihadi leader in Iraq, in which he told Osama bin Laden that al Qaeda in Iraq is weakening under the leadership of Abu Ayyub al-Masri. Al-Mujahid also said the group had committed "unjustified violations," such as the killing of prominent sheikhs.
Reply #10 on:
October 15, 2006, 08:01:20 AM »
An Islamic site states that the following is from the UK's Telegraph:
There was a plan for Iraq - but it was torn up
When, in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the retired US Army General Jay Garner was asked to take over the post-war humanitarian mission, he certainly possessed the credentials for the job. In 1991 he had headed Operation Provide Comfort, rescuing thousands of ethnic Kurds in northern Iraq after the first Gulf war. Who better, then, for the American Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to appoint to the job second time round.
Garner drew up detailed plans and, at his first briefing with President Bush, outlined three essential "musts" that would, he asserted, ensure a smooth transition after the war. The first "must", he said, was that the Iraqi military should not be disbanded. The second "must" was that the 50,000-strong Ba'ath party machine that ran government services should not be broken up or its members proscribed. If either were to happen, he warned, there would be chaos compounded by thousands of unemployed, armed Iraqis running around. And the third "must", he insisted, was that an interim Iraqi leadership group, eager to help the United States administer the country in the short term, should be kept on-side.
Initially, no one disagreed, according to State of Denial, the new book by the veteran Washington reporter, Bob Woodward. But within weeks of the invasion, Garner's tenure as head of the post-war planning office was over: he was replaced by Paul Bremer, a terrorism expert and prot?g? of Henry Kissinger. Bremer immediately countermanded all three of Garner's "musts".
When, eventually, Garner confronted Rumsfeld, telling him: "There is still time to rectify this," Rumsfeld refused to do so.
Reply #11 on:
October 15, 2006, 01:47:11 PM »
Second post of the morning from me:
Waging War, One Police Precinct at a Time
By PHILLIP CARTER
Published: October 15, 2006
THE military?s new counterinsurgency manual offers a great deal of wisdom for those who will wage the small wars of the future. Its prescriptions and paradoxes ? like the maxim that the more force used, the less effective it is ? make sense. However, having spent the last year advising a provincial police headquarters in Iraq, I know it?s far easier to write about such wars than to fight them.
The war I knew was infinitely more complex, contradictory and elusive than the one described in the network news broadcasts or envisioned in the new field manual. When I finally left Baquba, the violent capital of Iraq?s Diyala Province, I found myself questioning many aspects of our mission and our accomplishments, both in a personal search for meaning and a quest to gather lessons that might help those soldiers who will follow me.
The first question was how Iraq in September 2006 differed from that of October 2005. Our Iraqi interpreters told us things were better than last year, which in turn had been better than 2004, when American forces frequently fought pitched battles in Baquba. Yet, sometimes in the same breath, they would long for the days of stability and order under Saddam Hussein.
During my time there, the hundreds of thousands of residents of Baquba went to work or school, shopped in markets, spent time with their families and lived their lives. The vibrancy and vitality of Iraqi society was the norm, not the anarchic violence we see in the news.
And yet, the violence did exist; it was not a figment of reporters? imaginations. Gunfire frequently echoed through the streets of central Baquba, and homemade bombs often interrupted the bustling marketplace just north of our compound. This violence worsened during my time in Iraq: the Army?s PowerPoint presentations depicting attack and death statistics from across the country showed the same, steadily increasing trend lines.
Despite the trend towards consolidation of American units onto huge bases in the desert, my team remained in downtown Baquba. We shared our compound with the provincial government; it adjoined the provincial courthouse and was just 800 yards down the street from the police headquarters. This proximity made us more effective, both because it made it easier for us to talk to the Iraqi leaders with whom we worked, and because it enhanced our credibility with our Iraqi counterparts, who saw us living and working by their side.
When the power grid failed or water supply stopped working ? a daily experience during the summer ? we knew and felt it firsthand. Likewise, when explosions or firefights erupted in the city, we could judge their severity with our own senses. We learned that counterinsurgency cannot be conducted from afar.
But did we make a difference? Diyala Province has 1.4 million citizens and stretches from the northern edge of Baghdad east to the Iranian border, north to Kurdistan, and west to the Sunni heartland. My brigade commander, a sage infantryman from Colorado, called Diyala ?little Iraq,? because its mix of people, geography and conditions represented a microcosm of the torn country. As goes Diyala, so goes Iraq, he and others said.
Our mission was deceptively simple: to build the provincial police so they could provide security and the rule of law. In these areas, we observed tangible progress. My team delivered hundreds of recruits to American-financed police academies, and oversaw a local academy that retrained hundreds of officers who had served under the old regime. Our civilian advisers, American police officers who came to Iraq as State Department contractors, trained hundreds of Iraqi patrolmen in street survival and investigative skills.
We gave trucks, rifles, body armor, radios and countless other items to the police, and oversaw the construction or renovation of police stations throughout the province. With our help, the police chief, a corpulent former army officer, and his staff became better managers, and replaced many ineffective and corrupt officers. We also brought our expertise to the Iraqi jails, judges and lawyers, resulting in hundreds of innocent Iraqi detainees being released after languishing for months or years in jail.
(Page 2 of 2)
Despite these successes, I still left Iraq feeling uncertain about what we had accomplished. In theory, security should have improved with the development of capable Iraqi Army and police units. That did not happen. This is the central paradox of the Iraq war in fall 2006: we are making progress in developing the Iraqi Army and police, yet the violence gripping the country continues to worsen.
This paradox raises fundamental questions about the wisdom and efficacy of our strategy, which is to ?stand up? Iraqi security forces so we can ?stand down? American forces. Put simply, this plan is a blueprint for withdrawal, not for victory. Improving the Iraqi Army and police is necessary to prevail in Iraq; it is not sufficient.
Counterinsurgency is more like an election than a military operation; the Iraqi government must convince the Iraqi people to choose it over the alternatives offered by Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish militants. To do so, the Iraqi government and the coalition must deliver public goods ? security, public works, commerce, education and the rule of law, to name a few. The campaign must convince not just a majority or super-majority but virtually everyone, for as the noted insurgents T. E. Lawrence and Mao Zedong have noted, it takes the support of just 2 in 100 citizens to sustain an insurgency.
At this point, and with this strategy, it may not be possible to win in Iraq. America gained a spectacular victory in 2003, toppling the brutal Saddam Hussein regime. But there are limits to what military force can accomplish. You cannot plant democracy with a bayonet, nor can you force Iraqis to choose a particular path if their democracy is to mean anything at all.
Moreover, our choices in 2006 are not as good as our choices were in 2003; we cannot simply stay the course now and hope for victory. Given Iraq?s historic antipathy to invaders and the strength of today?s insurgency, I believe only a wholly unconventional approach will work. This means many more embedded advisers like myself, working in tandem with teams from the State Department and other agencies, supported by combat forces only when force is necessary.
We should strive in 2006 to build on our successes and to find a smarter way to shift the counterinsurgency effort to the Iraqis in order to secure an imperfect victory. For, as Lawrence wrote eight decades ago about helping the Arabs fight the Turks: ?Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them.?
Reply #12 on:
October 16, 2006, 07:43:01 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Considering Turkey's Interests in Iraq
Reports are circulating that jihadist groups in northern and central Iraq are in the process of creating an "emirate," an independent region in the Sunni areas. The Shia already are in effective control of their own region in the south, and the Kurds have controlled their region of northern Iraq for an extended period of time. There are ethnically diffuse and disputed areas in and around Baghdad, so this hardly solves the problem of sectarian violence, but this regional autonomy is becoming a de facto reality. We now need to start considering some aspects of a potential partition.
The most important issue here is to recognize what the Sunnis already know: a partition along ethno-sectarian lines would make the Sunni region, economically speaking, an abortion. The Shia control Iraq's southern oil fields. The Kurds control the northern oil fields. The Sunnis control nothing. If partition occurs in accordance with current boundaries, the Sunni position will deteriorate and collapse. Therefore, it is essential for all involved (given the Sunni unrest and prospects of violence) that the Sunnis have a share in Iraq's oil.
To be more precise, the Sunnis must control Kirkuk, a center of the oil industry and a city in which conflict rages for these reasons. The Kurds now hold Kirkuk; the Sunnis must take it. The Sunnis are fighting on four fronts: against the Shia, against the Kurds, against the Americans and against each other. The Kurds, on the other hand, are fighting only the Sunnis at this point. Therefore, logic would have it that the Sunnis don't stand a chance.
But another element must be added to this calculus: Turkey. Turkey has tried to keep out of the Iraq war and, so far, has done fairly well at it. But Turkey does not want to see the Kurdish autonomous region expand, let alone give rise to an independent Kurdish state. Such a state would become a focal point for Kurdish nationalism and, since the Turks would face growing breakaway tendencies in their own Kurdish region, they would not welcome this development -- particularly if Baghdad collapses as Iraq's center.
Therefore, the Turks will want to weaken the Kurds. They also will want to make sure that there is a strong buffer between them and the Iraqi Shia -- a buffer other than the Kurds. That would mean it is in Turkey's national interest to see the Sunnis strengthened right now. It should be recalled that the Turks intervened extensively in Iraq prior to 2003. They are old players in the region with ties to Sunni tribal leaders. If they are facing a Kurdish state, they might well choose to reassert themselves in the region by strengthening the Sunnis.
Now, the Turks are vehemently opposed to the jihadists, but in this they share an interest with Sunni tribal leaders, who see the jihadists as a potential threat to their own authority. While it is the jihadists who have declared an emirate, neither the Sunni leadership nor the Turks would want to see the jihadists having any role to play if independence becomes a reality. The Turks would want to weaken the Kurds; the Sunnis would want to dominate oil in the north. Alliances have been formed on less.
There are few constraints on the Turks. They do not expect to be admitted to the European Union and, given France's decision to raise the question of the Armenian holocaust, the Turks have written off accession, in the intermediate term at least. Nor do they need it. Turkey has been doing quite well -- better than France or Germany, economically. As for the Iranians, they would have no problem with seeing the Kurds seriously weakened and the Sunni jihadists undermined. So long as the Shia control the south and the Iranians have influence with the Shia in Iraq, they can live with Turkish influence among the Sunnis.
Meanwhile, the United States seems to be making plans for deploying forces in northern Iraq. Any such plan would require Turkish support, as logistical support from Kuwait makes for a long, tough line. If the United States wants a role in Iraq after redeployment, it will have to take Turkish interests into account. The United States previously has backed Kurdish interests. But the Americans need the Turks and have little to offer them. The one thing the Turks might want -- EU membership without strings -- is something Washington can't help them with.
It is now time to turn the focus from Baghdad to the north, and the political evolution there.
Reply #13 on:
October 17, 2006, 07:02:05 AM »
Monday, October 16, 2006
As the Battle for Baghdad rages on, casualties among U.S. troops have increased in recent months. Predictably, The New York Times has already weighed in on the subject, noting that this month may rank as one of the bloodiest months for American soldiers and Marines; so far, at least 53 U.S. military personnel have been killed in Iraq during October, and that total will certainly rise with two weeks remaining in the month.
The Times' veiled message is easy enough to decipher: efforts by the U.S. to improve security in Baghdad aren't working; violence continues to spiral out of control, resulting in more casualties among American troops, Iraqi civilians, and members of that nation's fledgling security forces.
Is that an accurate assessment? To its credit, the Times notes that a major reason for the increase in combat casualties is an increased deployment of U.S. forces in and around the Iraqi capital. With more troops battling terrorists in the heart of the insurgency, it is logical to assume that casualties will increase, at least over the short term. However, the Times fails to note that the U.S. offensive also falls during the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan, a period that traditionally produces a major spike in terrorist attacks. In recent years, there has been a noticeable decrease in enemy strikes after Ramadan, so it seems likely that U.S. casualties will also fall in November and December--another fact ignored by the Times.
Likewise, the Newspaper of Record also ignores other trends that may not bode well for our enemies. According to data from the same web site (icasualties.org), the number of troops killed by IEDs has declined steadily over the past year, despite an increase in terrorist bomb production and implantation attempts. Since IEDs represent the insurgents's only viable tactic, a decrease in their effectiveness means trouble ahead for the terrorists. And, based on current trends, the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq will decline again this year, for the second year in a row. Obviously, the loss of 3,000 military personnel since the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom is a tragedy for a society that values (or should value) all human life. But those casualties should also be weighed in the context of history, and our own, collective sense of what constitutes an appropriate level of sacrifice in defense of our freedoms.
That's why Clint Eastwood's new film, Flags of Our Fathers, is being released at exactly the right moment for American audiences. Based on James Bradley's best-selling book, Flags recounts the historic flag-raising during the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. According to early reviews, Mr. Eastwood's film is hardly a paean to war; in fact, it is unflinching in its depiction of the carnage of battle, and the long-term effects of the Iwo campaign on the men who made it through, most notably, the three surviving flag-raisers. It's also worth noting that the current total of combat deaths in Iraq (2300) represents less than half the number of Marines and sailors who died in a single month on Iwo Jima. Marines on Iwo accounted for half of the Congressional Medals of Honor awarded to the USMC during World War II. After the battle, Admiral Chester Nimitz observed that "uncommon valor was a common virture" among the Marines who took that island.
Six decades later, the same could be said of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines now battling terrorists in Iraq. As they carry the fight to the enemy, we should remember their sacrifice, just as we remember the courage of the men who liberated the Pacific during World War II. We should also remember one of the enduring lessons of Iwo Jima and other past campaigns: valor, sacrifice and progress cannot be quantified in terms of a casualty counts, no matter what the NYT might believe. By their standards, Iwo was an unqualified military disaster, and I'm sure the Times's editorial board would have demanded an early withdrawal in 1945, and a courts-martial for the commanders on the scene.
Reply #14 on:
October 17, 2006, 11:22:22 AM »
Nine paradoxes of a lost war
By Michael Schwartz
Introduction by Tom Engelhardt
Here's how President George W Bush described the enemy in Iraq at his press conference last week. "The violence is being caused by a combination of terrorists, elements of former regime criminals and sectarian militias." That is, "bitter-enders" aka "Saddamists". The "sectarian militias" may have been a relatively recent add-on, but this is essentially the same list, the same sort of terminology the president has been using for years.
In the past two weeks, however, rumblings of discontent, the urge
for a change of course (or at least a mid-course correction) in Iraq have been persistently bubbling to the surface of already roiling Washington. Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John Warner recently returned from Iraq to rattle the Bush administration by saying that policy there was "drifting sideways" and if it didn't improve, "all options" should be on the table not long after the mid-term elections.
Suggestions are rife for dumping the president's goal of "democracy" in Iraq and swallowing a little of the hard stuff. Reports indicate that in two desperate capitals, Washington and Baghdad, rumors about possible future Iraqi coups are spinning wildly. People of import are evidently talking about the possibility of a new five-man "ruling commission", a "government of national salvation" that would "suspend parliament, declare martial law and call back some officers of the old Iraqi army". Even the name of that Central Intelligence Agency warhorse (and anti-neo-conservative candidate) Iyad Allawi, who couldn't get his party elected dogcatcher in the new Iraq, is coming up again in the context of the need for a "strongman".
This was, of course, the desire of the elder George Bush and his advisors back at the end of Gulf War I, when they hoped just such a Sunni strongman - one who could work with them - would topple a weakened Saddam Hussein. Dreams, it seems, die hard. And, as if on cue, who should appear but former secretary of state and Bush family handler James A Baker III, a Bush Elder kind of guy.
While on the talk-show circuit for his new book, he also spent last week plugging (but not revealing) the future findings of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan commission he co-heads whose aim is to suggest to a reluctant president new policy possibilities in Iraq. They too are putting "all" options on the table (as long as those options involve "continuing the mission in Iraq"). The group, according to some reports, has, however, ruled out the president's favorite option, "victory". One option it is apparently considering involves skipping "democracy", minimizing American casualties, and focusing "on stabilizing Baghdad, while the American Embassy should work toward political accommodation with insurgents".
A political accommodation with the insurgents? Curious how word gets around. Sometimes a small change in terminology speaks volumes for future mid-course corrections. The other day, General George Casey, commander of US troops in Iraq, gave a press briefing with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon. As part of his prepared introductory remarks (not in answer to some random question), he offered this list of "groups that are working to affect [the situation in Iraq] negatively":
"The first, the Sunni extremists, al-Qaeda, and the Iraqis that are supporting them. Second, the Shi'ite extremists, the death squads and the more militant militias. In my view, those represent the greatest current threats in Iraq. The third group is the resistance, the Sunni insurgency that sees themselves as an honorable resistance against foreign occupation in Iraq."
"The resistance"? "An honorable resistance against foreign occupation in Iraq"? Where did those bitter-enders, those anti-Iraq forces go? Take it as a small signal - noticed, as far as I could tell, by not a single reporter or pundit of things to come.
Of course, all of this has brought to the surface a lot of hopeful "withdrawal" talk in the media (and the online world), in part because the Baker group seems to have been floating "phased withdrawal" rumors. Before you think about genuine withdrawal possibilities though, note the announcement by Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker last week that he was now planning for the possibility of maintaining present force levels in Iraq (140,000+ troops) through 2010; that Casey at that press briefing left the door wide open to ask the president for even more troops after the election; and that the build-up on the ground of permanent bases (not called that) and our vast, nearly billion-dollar embassy in the heart of Baghdad is ongoing.
Below, Michael Schwartz considers the latest in military mid-course corrections and explains why such corrections can no longer hope to plug the gaping holes in Iraq's political dikes. Similarly, Warner, Baker, Casey, Senator Joe Biden (with his "three-state solution"), and so many others can all promote their own mid-course corrections, suggest them to the president, bring them to the new Congress, promote them among military figures, but as long as that embassy goes up and those bases keep getting hardened and improved, as long as the "mission continues" (in Baker's phrase), changing troop levels, tactics, even governments in Baghdad's Green Zone, not to speak of "policy options" in Washington, will solve nothing. Wherever that "table" is sooner or later all options will really have to be displayed on it.
Nine paradoxes of a lost war
By Michael Schwartz
Recently, the New York Times broke a story suggesting that the US Army and the marines were about to turn the conceptual tide of war in Iraq. The two services, reported correspondent Michael R Gordon, "were finishing work on a new counterinsurgency doctrine" that would, according to retired Lieutenant General Jack Keane, "change [the military's] entire culture as it transitions to irregular warfare".
Such strategic eureka moments have been fairly common since the Bush administration invaded Iraq in March 2003, and this one - news coverage of it died away in less than a week - will probably drop into the dustbin of history along with other times when the tactical or strategic tide of war was supposed to change. These would include the November 2004 assault on the city of Fallujah, various elections, the "standing up" of the Iraqi Army, and the trench that, it was briefly reported, the Iraqis were planning to dig around their vast capital, Baghdad.
But this plan had one ingenious section, derived from an article by four military experts published in the quasi-official Military Review and entitled "The Paradoxes of Counterinsurgency". The nine paradoxes the experts lay out are eye-catching, to say the least and so make vivid reading; but they are more than so many titillating puzzles of counterinsurgency warfare. Each of them contains an implied criticism of American strategy in Iraq. Seen in this light, they become an instructive lesson from insiders in why the American presence in that country has been such a disaster and why this (or any other) new counterinsurgency strategy has little chance of ameliorating it.
The more you protect your force, the less secure you are
The military experts offer this explanation: "[The] counterinsurgent gains ultimate success by protecting the populace, not himself." It may seem like a bland comment, but don't be fooled. It conceals a devastating criticism of the cardinal principle of the American military in Iraq: that above all else they must minimize the risk to American troops by setting rules of engagement that essentially boil down to "shoot first, make excuses later".
Applications of this principle are found in the by-now familiar policies of annihilating any car that passes the restraint line at checkpoints (because it might be a car bomber); shooting at pedestrians who get in the path of any American convoy (because they might be trying to stop the vehicles to activate an ambush); and calling in artillery or air power against any house that might be an insurgent hiding place (because the insurgents might otherwise escape and/or snipe at an American patrol).
This "shoot first" policy has guaranteed that large numbers of civilians (including a remarkable number of children) have been killed, maimed or left homeless. For most of us, killing this many innocent people would be reason enough to abandon a policy, but from a military point of view it is not in itself sufficient. These tactics only become anathema when you can no longer ignore the way they have made it ever more difficult for the occupying army to "maintain contact" with the local population in order "to obtain the intelligence to drive operations and to reinforce the connections with the people who establish legitimacy".
The more force you use, the less effective you are
Times reporter Gordon summarizes the logic here nicely: "Substantial force increases the risk of collateral damage and mistakes, and increases the opportunity for insurgent propaganda."
Considering the levels of devastation achieved in the Sunni city of Fallujah (where 70% of structures were estimated to be damaged and close to 50% destroyed in the US assault of November 2004) and in other Sunni cities (where whole neighborhoods have been devastated), or even in Shi'ite Najaf (where entire neighborhoods and major parts of its old city were destroyed in 2004), the word "substantial" has to be considered a euphemism.
And the use of the word "propaganda" betrays the bias of the military authors, since many people would consider such levels of devastation a legitimate reason for joining groups that aim to expel the occupiers.
Here again, the striking logic of the American military is at work. These levels of destruction are not, in themselves, considered a problem - at least not until someone realizes that they are facilitating recruitment by the opposition.
The more successful counterinsurgency is, the less force can be used
Though not presented this way, this paradox is actually a direct criticism of the American military strategy in the months after the fall of the Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003. In those early days, active resistance to the occupation was modest indeed, an average of only six violent engagements each day (compared to 90 three years later.)
But American military policy in the country was still based on overwhelming force. American commanders sought to deter a larger insurgency by ferociously repressing any signs of resistance. This strategy included house-to-house searches witnessed by embedded reporter Nir Rosen and described in his vivid book, In the Belly of the Green Bird.
These missions, repeated hundreds of times each day across Iraq, included home invasions of suspected insurgents, brutal treatment of their families and often their property, and the indefinite detention of men found in just about any house searched, even when US troops knew that their intelligence was unreliable.
Relatively peaceful demonstrations were forcibly suppressed, most agonizingly when, in late April 2003, American troops killed 13 demonstrators in Fallujah who were demanding that the US military vacate a school commandeered as a local headquarters. This incident became a cause celebre around which Fallujans organized themselves into a central role in the insurgency that soon was born.
The new counterinsurgency strategy acknowledges that the very idea of overwhelming demonstrations of force producing respectful obedience has backfired, producing instead an explosion of rebellion. And now that a significant majority of Iraqis are determined to expel the Americans, promises of more humane treatment next time will not get the genie of the insurgency back in the bottle.
Sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction
This paradox is, in fact, a criticism of another cardinal principle of the occupation: the application of overwhelming force in order to teach insurgents (and prospective insurgents) that opposition of any sort will not be tolerated and, in any case, is hopeless.
A typical illustration of this principle in practice was a January US military report that went in part: "An unmanned US drone detected three men digging a hole in a road in the area. Insurgents regularly bury bombs along roads in the area to target US or Iraqi convoys. The three men were tracked to a building, which US forces then hit with precision-guided munitions." As it turned out, the attack killed 12 members of a family living in that house, severely damaged six neighboring houses, and consolidated local opposition to the American presence.
Reply #15 on:
October 17, 2006, 11:24:00 AM »
This example (multiplied many times over) makes it clear why, in so many instances over these past years, doing nothing might have been better: fewer enemies in the "hood". But the developers of the new military strategy have a more cold-blooded view of the issue, preferring to characterize the principle in this way: "If a careful analysis of the effects of a response reveals that more negatives than positives might result, soldiers should consider an alternative."
That is, while this incident might well be an example of a time when "doing nothing is the best reaction", the multiple civilian deaths that resulted could, under at least some circumstances, be outweighed by the "positives". Take, for a counter example, the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, in an air strike that also caused multiple civilian deaths.
The best weapons for counterinsurgency do not shoot
The Times' Gordon offers the following translation of this paradox: "Often dollars and ballots have more impact than bombs and bullets." Given the $18 billion US reconstruction budget for Iraq and the three well-attended elections since January 2005, it might seem that, in this one area, Bush administration efforts actually anticipated the new counterinsurgency doctrine.
But in their original article the military strategists were actually far more precise in describing what they meant by this - and that precision makes it clear how far from effective American "reconstruction" was. Money and elections, they claim, are not enough: "Lasting victory will come from a vibrant economy, political participation and restored hope."
As it happened, the American officials responsible for Iraq policy were only willing to deliver that vibrant economy, along with political participation and restored hope, under quite precise and narrow conditions that suited the larger fantasies of the Bush administration.
Iraq's new government was to be an American ally, hostile to that axis-of-evil regional power Iran, and it was to embrace the "opening" of the Iraqi economy to American multinationals. Given Iraqi realities and this hopeless list of priorities or day-dreams, it is not surprising that the country's economy has sunk ever deeper into depression, that elected officials have neither the power nor the inclination to deliver on their campaign promises, and that the principle hopes of the majority of Iraqis are focused on the departure of American troops because of, as one pollster concluded, "the American failure to do basically anything for Iraqis".
Baghdad doing something tolerably better than US doing it well
Here is a paradoxical principle that the occupation has sought to apply fully. The presidential slogan, "as the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down", has been an expression of Bush administration determination to transfer the front-line struggle against the insurgents - the patrols, the convoys, the home invasions, any house-to-house fighting - to Iraqi units, even if their job performance proved even less than "tolerable" compared to the rigorous execution of American troops.
It is this effort that has also proved the administration's most consistent and glaring failure. In a country where 80% of the people want the Americans to leave, it is very difficult to find soldiers willing to fight against the insurgents who are seeking to expel them.
This was evident when the first group of American-trained soldiers and police deserted the field of battle during the fights for Fallujah, Najaf, Mosul and Tal Afar in 2004. This led eventually to the current American strategy of using Shi'ite soldiers against Sunni insurgents, and utilizing Kurds against both Shi'ite and Sunni rebels. (Sunnis, by and large, have refused to fight with the Americans.) This policy, in turn, has contributed substantially to the still-escalating sectarian violence within Iraq.
Even today, after the infusion of enormous amounts of money and years of effort, a substantial proportion of newly recruited soldiers desert or mutiny when faced with the prospect of fighting against anti-American insurgents.
According to Solomon Moore and Louise Roug of the Los Angeles Times, in Anbar province, the scene of the heaviest fighting, "half the Iraqi soldiers are on leave at any given time, and many don't return to duty. In May, desertion rates in some Iraqi units reached 40%."
In September, fully three-quarters of the 4,000 Iraqi troops ordered to Baghdad to help in the American operation to reclaim the capital and suppress internecine violence there, refused deployment. American officials told the LA Times that such refusals were based on an unwillingness to fight outside their home regions and a reluctance to "be thrust into uncomfortable sectarian confrontations".
As the failed attempts to "stand up" Iraqi forces suggest, the goal of getting Iraqis to fight "tolerably" well depends on giving them a reason to fight that they actually support. As long as Iraqis are asked to fight on the side of occupation troops whose presence they despise, the US cannot expect the quality of their performance to be "tolerable" from the Bush administration point of view.
If a tactic works this week, it will not work next week
The clearest expression of this principle lies in the history of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the anti-occupation weapon of choice among Iraqi resistance fighters.
Throughout the war, the occupation military has conducted hundreds of armed patrols each week designed to capture suspected insurgents through house-to-house searches. The insurgency, in turn, has focused on deterring and derailing these patrols, using sniper attacks, rocket propelled grenades, and IEDs.
At first, sniper attacks were the favored weapon of the insurgents, but the typical American response - artillery and air attacks - proved effective enough to set them looking for other ways to respond. IEDs then gained in popularity, since they could be detonated from a relatively safe distance. When the Americans developed devices to detect the electronic detonators, the insurgents developed a variety of non-electronic trigger devices. When the Americans upgraded their armor to resist the typical IED, the insurgents developed "shaped" charges that could pierce American armor.
And so it goes in all aspects of the war. Each move by one side triggers a response by the other. The military experts developing the new strategy can point to this dilemma, but they cannot solve it. The underlying problem for the American military is that the resistance has already reached the sort of critical mass that ensures an endless back-and-forth tactical battle.
One solution not under consideration might work very well: abandoning the military patrols themselves. But such a tactic would also require abandoning counterinsurgency and ultimately leaving Iraq.
Tactical success guarantees nothing
This point is summarized by Gordon of the Times this way: "[M]ilitary actions by themselves cannot achieve success." But this is the smallest part of the paradox. It is true enough that the insurgency in Iraq hopes to win "politically" by waiting for the American people to force the US government to withdraw, or for the cost of the war to outweigh its potential benefits, or for world pressure to make the war diplomatically unviable.
But there is a much more encompassing element to this dictum: that guerrilla fighters do not expect to win any military battles with the occupation. In the military strategists' article, they quote an interchange between American Colonel Harry Summers and his North Vietnamese counterpart after the US had withdrawn from Vietnam. When Summers said, "You know you never defeated us on the battlefield," his adversary replied, "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant."
A tactical victory occurs when the enemy is killed or retreats, leaving the battlefield to the victor. In guerrilla war, therefore, the guerrillas never win since they always melt away and leave their adversary in charge.
But in Iraq, as in other successful guerrilla wars, the occupation army cannot remain indefinitely at the scene of its tactical victories - in each community, town or city that it conquers. It must move on to quell the rebellion elsewhere. And when it does, if the guerrillas have successfully melted away, they will reoccupy the community, town, or city, thus winning a strategic victory and ruling the local area until their next tactical defeat.
If they keep this up long enough and do it in enough places, they will eventually make the war too costly to pursue - and thus conceivably win the war without winning a battle.
Most important decisions are not made by generals
Because guerrilla war is decentralized, with local bands deciding where to place IEDs, when to use snipers, and which patrols or bases to attack, the struggle in different communities, provinces, or regions takes very different forms.
Many insurgents in Fallujah chose to stand and fight, while those in Tal Afar, near the Syrian border, decided to evacuate the city with its civilian population when the American military approached in strength. In Shi'ite areas, members of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army chose to join the local police and turn it to their purposes; but Sunni insurgents have tried, instead, to disarm the local police and then disband the force. In every city and town, the strategy of the resistance has been different.
The latest American military strategists are arguing that what they call the "mosaic nature of an insurgency" implies the necessity of giving autonomy to local American commanders to "adapt as quickly as the insurgents". But such decentralization cannot work if the local population supports the insurgent goal of expelling the occupiers.
Given autonomy under such circumstances, lower-level US military officers may decide that annihilating a home suspected of sheltering an insurgent is indeed counterproductive; such decisions, however, humane, would now come far too late to convince a local population that it should abandon its support of a campaign seen as essential to national independence.
There may have been a time, back when the invasion began, that the US could have adopted a strategy that would have made it welcome - for a time, anyway - in Iraq. Such a strategy, as the military theorists flatly state, would have had to deliver a "vibrant economy, political participation and restored hope".
Instead, the occupation delivered economic stagnation or degradation, a powerless government and the promise of endless violence. Given this reality, no new military strategy - however humane, canny or well designed - could reverse the occupation's terminal unpopularity. Only a US departure might do that.
Paradoxically, the policies these military strategists are now trying to reform have ensured that, however much most Iraqis may want such a departure, it would be, at best, bittersweet. The legacy of sectarian violence and the near-irreversible destruction wrought by the American presence make it unlikely that they would have the time or inclination to take much satisfaction in the end of the American occupation.
Michael Schwartz, professor of sociology and faculty director of the undergraduate college of global studies at Stony Brook University, has written extensively on popular protest and insurgency, as well as on American business and government dynamics. His books include Radical Protest and Social Structure, and Social Policy and the Conservative Agenda (edited, with Clarence Lo). His email address is
(Copyright 2006 Michael Schwartz)
Reply #16 on:
October 18, 2006, 10:45:11 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Jihadists Seize the Initiative in Iraq
A number of interesting developments have come to light in the last several days regarding Iraq's Sunni insurgency:
1. Four jihadist forces pledged allegiance to each other Oct. 13. The Mujahideen Shura Council -- a jihadist umbrella alliance composed of six groups and led by al-Qaeda -- said it had formed a "Pact of the Mutayyabin" with Jaish al-Fatihin (Army of the Conquerors), Jund al-Sahabah (Army of the Companions), Kataib Ansar al-Tawhid wa al-Sunnah (The Supporters of Monotheism and the Prophetic Tradition Brigades) and several Sunni tribal elders.
2. On Oct. 15, one of the four groups, Jaish al-Fatihin, said it had never taken the oath because it had not been informed about the pact. The Mujahideen Shura Council responded that this announcement must have come from the fifth brigade of Jaish al-Fatihin, which, unlike the organization's other four brigades, had not yet pledged allegiance to the council. The council expressed hope that it would soon do so.
3. On Oct. 16, the Mujahideen Shura Council called on Sunni nationalist groups to pledge allegiance to Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader of the newly declared "Islamic State of Iraq."
Taken together, these three developments indicate that transnational jihadist elements are trying to capture political space in Sunni-dominated central Iraq. Their approach involves seizing the military and political initiative from the mainstream Sunni nationalist insurgent groups. The jihadists are trying to take advantage of the fact that the political negotiation process is reaching an impasse, the sectarian violence from Shiite death-squads is raging on, and moves are accelerating toward creating three federal autonomous zones along ethno-sectarian lines.
While the mainstream Sunnis are busy trying to counter the move toward federalism, the jihadists have accepted the idea that Iraq could be divided into three autonomous, if not independent, regions. The jihadists aim to take control of the situation. They are busy trying to make inroads into the tribal leadership and the insurgent groups by forming alliances. In other words, they are trying to portray themselves as the vanguard of the military struggle against the United States and its Shiite and Kurdish allies.
The jihadists face two major obstacles in pursuing this path.
First is that the Sunni areas of Iraq already have an existing political structure, which will not allow them to take over. There have been several reports in recent months of fighting between Sunni nationalist groups and the jihadists. But now that the jihadists are aggressively seeking the leadership of the insurgency, the Sunni nationalists can be expected to strike back hard, and soon. Neither they nor the tribal leaders want to lose their leadership position to the jihadists.
Second, the jihadists themselves are divided into two broad groups: the foreigners and the indigenous Iraqis. Both share the same transnational ideology, but they disagree on how to realize its ideals. The indigenous Iraqis do not like the way the foreigners operate -- killing not just Shia but also Sunnis who oppose them. Moreover, the Iraqi jihadists do not want to see the foreigners take over the leadership, because they know it will alienate them from the Sunni mainstream.
Despite the creation of dubious alliances and a media campaign to highlight their "achievements," al Qaeda and its jihadist allies now face problems from fellow jihadists as well as Sunni nationalists. While it might appear that this would lead to a decline in the violence, the country is now so divided that the fighting is only likely to get worse.
Reply #17 on:
October 21, 2006, 10:54:08 AM »
Today's numbers: 20/Oct/06
1 U.S. Soldier killed
10 terrorists killed
30 terrorists captured
(that's 40 bad guys off the streets, many of them Al Qaeda a-holes)
You won?t hear about our success on CNN or any of the other liberal media venues but the fact of the matter is we are slowly gaining a foot hold and propagating democracy. As a former Army Paratrooper Infantryman, I salute the troops and support the OIF and OEF, I will periodically share this OSINT provided by my collogue at Ft. Bragg, NC Home of the 82nd Airborne and the 1/508 PIR, my former unit, now serving in Afghanistan.
Fury from the sky!
?Dog? Dave Rothburgh
U.S. Soldier killed by roadside bomb
BAGHDAD ? A Multi-National Division ? Baghdad Soldier died at approximately 2:37 a.m. today when the vehicle he was riding in was struck by an improvised-explosive device in southwest Baghdad.
Two Terrorists captured in Raid Near
BAGHDAD ?? Iraqi Special Forces captured 2 terrorists and killed 2 others Oct. 19 during a raid near Taji.
Iraqi special forces, with Coalition advisers, conducted an air-assault raid looking for 5 Al Qaeda in Iraq linked terrorists allegedly responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Iraqi citizens and conducting improvised explosive device attacks in the Taji area.?
Iraqi forces entered the objective and immediately encountered 3 males. One man immediately complied with verbal commands and surrendered.? Another man grabbed a pistol and demonstrated hostile intent.? He was shot and killed by the assault force.? A third man, sitting behind the second man, was wounded in the exchange.? ? ?
As Iraqi forces continued to clear the objective, a second male was shot and killed after he grabbed a rifle during efforts to detain him. The 4 men were positively identified as the wanted terrorists.
Iraqi Army Captures Members of Insurgent and Murder Cells
BAGHDAD ? Iraqi Army forces conducted early-morning raids Oct. 20 in Baghdad and captured several members of insurgent and murder and kidnapping cells, including the alleged leader of an Al Qaeda in Iraq cell.
Iraqi forces arrived at 3 separate objectives and captured 8 males responsible for sectarian murders and kidnappings, as well as improvised explosive device attacks.
Iraqi Army forces, in a raid in the Adhamiyah area targeting a murder and kidnapping cell, captured 2 more terrorists responsible for sectarian attacks against Iraqi civilians.
In two other raids, Special Iraqi Army forces caught 4 terrorists involved in IED, rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire attacks against Iraqi and U.S. forces and 2 others were arrested for sectarian attacks against Iraqi civilians.
Iraqi Police spoil terrorist attack
MOSUL, Iraq ? Iraqi police remained vigilant in the face of a complex attack in Mosul Thursday.
Al Qaeda in Iraq forces attacked the Abi Tamaam Police Station in east Mosul Thursday at approximately 7:00 a.m. with two suicide truck bombs.? The first truck bomb exploded near the station?s entry control point, blowing down protective walls and creating a sizeable crater in the road.? ?The second truck, unable to penetrate the police station?s perimeter due to the crater and debris left over from the first truck bomb detonated in the street.?
As a result of the attack, 10 Iraqi civilians and one Iraqi Policeman were killed while nine Iraqi Police were wounded.? Two Al Qaeda terrorists were killed in the attack.?
?The Iraqi police took the brunt and stood their ground,? said Col. Steve Townsend, commander, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.? ?We?re immensely proud of their resilience.?
Later in the morning two other SVBIEDs (suicide vehicles) targeting U.S. Forces exploded, wounding two Soldiers and causing minor damage to two Stryker vehicles.? The wounded were treated and returned to duty.? Two additional Al Qaeda terrorists were shot and killed in the second attack.?
Seven terrorists apprehended after attack
BAGHDAD, Iraq ? U.S. troops apprehended 7 terrorists Oct. 19 associated with a VBIED attack on the Khaldiyah Bridge in Habbaniyah that killed two Iraqi soldiers, wounded two other Iraqi soldiers and four civilians the day prior.
A series of operations led to the apprehension of the suspects seen at several meetings Oct. 18 with a suspected al-Qaida in Iraq leader. Credible intelligence indicates the terrorist leader coordinated the VBIED attack and is responsible for foreign fighter movements, and other attacks throughout the area.?
TWO TERRORISTs KILLED, FOUR DETAINED IN Muqdadiyah
BAGHDAD, Iraq ? U.S. troops killed 3 insurgents and captured 4 terrorists during a raid in Muqdadiyah Friday targeting a terrorist known to facilitate the movement of foreign fighters into the area.
As the U.S. soldiers approached the objective, they received fire from two armed insurgents and immediately returned fire killing both.
The soldiers captured 4 more terrorists without further incident after they secured the area.
One terrorist killed and 7 captured in Ramadi
BAGHDAD, Iraq ? Coalition Forces killed one terrorist and captured 7 other terrorists during a raid in Ramadi Saturday morning.
The targeted terrorist is a senior al-Qaeda in Iraq leader in Ramadi known for participating in operations against Iraqi and U.S. Forces.? On Oct. 18, the targeted terrorist carried out a suicide VBIED attack on the Khaldiyah Bridge in Habbaniyah that killed two Iraqi soldiers.
During the assault on the objective buildings, Coalition Forces? were engaged by and? killed a terrorist.? ?Due to the primary target?s background, and the discovery of a booby trap in the building during clearing operations, Coalition Forces suspected the presence of explosives and destroyed the building.? ?
Coalition Forces are making progress dismantling the al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorist network.? The capture of this suspected terrorist reduces the ability of the al-Qaeda in Iraq network to operate, and increases the safety of all Iraqi citizens
(Sidebar inserted by Crafty Dog: Dog Dave, if your time permits, please feel free to continue updating us on this data.)
Last Edit: October 21, 2006, 06:43:36 PM by Crafty_Dog
Reply #18 on:
October 21, 2006, 10:39:46 PM »
Woof Guro Crafty, with pleasure, I will forward any OSINT to this forum made available to me as often as I recieve it.
FFTS, "Dog Dave
Reply #19 on:
October 22, 2006, 04:24:24 AM »
This has got to be the most overly-analyzed war in history! Everyone is likely partly right and partly wrong in their assessments. However, it should be remembered that a full political solution in the United States took about 20 years from the First Continental Congress to the final ratification of the Constitution by the 12th and 13th colonies. There were two failed governmental systems before the Constitution, the Continental Congress and the Articles of Confederation. Sixty-eight years after Washington began his second term as President, political factions in the South commenced another armed revolt against the central government.
Consequently, I do not understand why there is an expectation of quickly establishing a stable government, let alone a popularly elected one, in Iraq. Our own history tells us not to expect stability in Iraq until at least 2011 and a stable governmental system there until 2023.
Reply #20 on:
October 22, 2006, 05:49:54 AM »
You raise a sound question.
A partial answer:
1) Things move faster now. It took a goodly amount of time for a letter to get from one state to another in those days-- today we have the internet.
2) The dynamics with neighboring countries was different--e.g. a Islamofascist whacko nuclear wannabe regime was not next door trying to steer things its way.
3) The dynamics amongst ourselves was different. We weren't death squading, kamikazi killing women and children, killing the members of the Constitutional Convention etc.
VDH On Impotent Hand Wringing
Reply #21 on:
October 23, 2006, 11:44:31 AM »
The Wonders of Hindsight
Looking back is a sure way to stumble.
By Victor Davis Hanson
Most of the blame game being played over the Iraqi occupation ? and always with the wisdom of hindsight ? is now irrelevant.
Should more or fewer soldiers be in Iraq?
That?s basically settled: There will be no sizable increases in our troop presence, but gradual downsizing, as more provinces must come under Iraqi control and we seek to avert Iraqi perpetual dependence. Debating how many soldiers should have been deployed in the three-week war of 2003 and its aftermath is about as helpful in the present as fighting over culpability for the surprise at the Bulge.
But who disbanded the Iraqi army?
It doesn?t matter now ? the new army is nearing 300,000 strong and growing. It will either rise to the occasion or fail. The decision of 2003 to leave it scattered is ancient history.
Still, wasn?t de-Baathification far too sweeping?
Perhaps, but three years later that?s not an issue any more either, now that former Hussein government officials have long been welcomed back into the military and civilian bureaucracy.
Weren?t we slow in turning over control to the Iraqis?
Absolutely, but now, after three elections, Iraq is autonomous, and American proconsuls are not on television hogging the news of someone else?s future.
Wasn?t it terrible that Tommy Franks left in the middle of a long theater campaign, as if he sensed that Centcom?s three-week victory might well devolve into his three-year messy aftermath?
Yes, but so what? He can no longer do a thing either to save or to lose Iraq.
It used to be blood sport to blame the supposed flawed architects and implementers of the Iraqi war and occupation ? neocon advisers to President Bush, the proconsul Paul Bremer (whose blazers were emblematic of his out-of-touch, unrealistically optimistic, rather than workable and good enough, solutions), or the nice, but deer-in-the-headlights Gen. Sanchez.
Even if these purported scapegoats have been accurately portrayed, and their mistakes account for the current pessimistic Iraqi prognosis ? neither of which I grant ? what are we to say about those currently in charge? Even critics of the war have praised the Middle Eastern Ambassador Khalizad, the savvy Gen. Petraeus, the Arab-speaking Gen. Abizaid, and the best and the brightest fighters in the field, such as a Lt. Col. Kurilla or a Col. McMaster. All of these players are not only in, or about to be back in, Iraq, but are pivotal in crafting and adapting American tactics and strategy there.
Many wars metamorphize into something they were not supposed to be. Few imagined that the Poland war of 1939 would within two years evolve into a war of annihilation involving the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, Germany, Japan, and Italy. So too with the third Iraqi war of 2003 (following the first 1991 Gulf War, and the second, subsequent 12-year no-fly zone stand-off) that has now become a fight against jihadists for the future course of the entire Middle East.
What matters now is not so much what the war was or should have been, but only what it is ? and whether we have learned from our mistakes and can still win. The answer to both questions is yes. We have the right strategy ? birthing (through three elections already) an autonomous democracy; training an army subject to a civil government; and pledging support until it can protect its own constitutional government.
Few American officers are talking about perpetual occupation or even the need for more troops, but rather about the need for a lighter footprint, bolstered by teams of Special Forces and air support, to ensure Iraqi responsibility for their own future,. And the key to success ? a diplomatic squeeze on the Sunnis to suppress terrorists in Nineveh and Anbar provinces in exchange for Shiite guarantees of more government inclusion ? is now the acknowledged goal of both the Iraqi and American governments.
Thousands in Iraq accept that they have crossed the Rubicon, and they must either make their own democracy work or suffer a fate worse than that of the boat people and the butchered in Southeast Asia when the Americans left.
As for how to ensure against this disastrous outcome, multilateral talks are no magic bullet, as we see from the failed EU3 efforts with Iran and the stalled six-party negotiations over the North Korean problem. The ?more rubble/less trouble? solution that the Russians employed against the Chechnyans in Grozny is out of the question for a humane United States. The U.N. is no answer as we have seen from serial genocides from Rwanda to the present killing in Darfur.
No, only the United States, and its superb military, can stabilize Iraq and give the Iraqis enough time and confidence to do what has not been done before, and what apparently no one any longer thinks will be done: a surviving, viable democratic government in the heart of the dictatorial Middle East. Though the necessary aims are clear, they are not quickly and easily attained. Everyone understands that there is no single military answer to Iraq, but rather that the political solution depends on soldiers providing enough security long enough for free commerce and expression to become established. So rather than agonize endlessly over past perceived errors, we must realize that such lapses are not unprecedented in our military experience and focus on whether they are still correctable.
By the standards of Grenada, Panama, and Serbia ? where few American died and some sort of tenuous consensual government emerged fairly quickly ? Iraq is indeed messy. But if we grant that the effort to replace Saddam with democracy in the heart of the ancient caliphate is a far formidable enterprise, and thus akin to the challenge, and cost, of taking an Okinawa or saving a Korea, then our losses and heartbreak so far are not extraordinary.
For all the Democrats loud criticism, if they do regain Congress, they would probably rely on the present expertise of a Khalizad, Abizaid, or Petraeus, and not the often quoted wisdom of three years past of a Gen. Shinseki or Zinni. I doubt they will bring back Gen. Wesley Clark to fix the ?mess.? They will either have to cut off funds, ensure a pull out before the end of the year, and then watch real blood sport as reformers are butchered; or they will have to trust that our present military and civilian leadership has learned the hard lessons of three years in Iraq, and can find a way to stabilize the nascent democracy.
How do we define success in Iraq, in the context of a dysfunctional Middle East where elections in Lebanon and Palestine bring turmoil, the ?correct? multilateral NATO war in Afghanistan is still raging, and we still can?t do much to find bin Laden in a ?friendly,? but nuclear and Islamic, Pakistan? No mention is necessary about an Algeria still reeling from a horrendous bloodbath in the 1990s, the nightmare that was Qadhafi?s Libya, perennial Syrian roguery, the theocratic disaster in Iran, or all the other butchery that passes for the norm in the Middle East.
We can only ask: Are the tribal leaders of the troubled Anbar province now more likely to join the government or the insurgents? Are the old controversial barometers of Iraqi wartime electrical production, GDP, and oil output currently falling or stable? Is the successful Kurdistan seceding or in fact still part of Iraq? Is the Shiite leadership now de facto a pawn of Iran, or still confident about its role in a democratic and autonomous Iraq? Do the communiqu?s and private correspondence of al Qaeda in Iraq reflect cocky triumphalism or worry over losing? Do Iraqi elected leaders praise us or damn us and ask us to leave? In a global war against Islamic jihadists, who have killed thousands of Americans here at home, should we lament that we are now fighting and killing them as they flock to distant Iraq?
As we head for the November elections, most politicians have renounced their paternity of the now-orphaned American effort in Iraq. And pundits of summer 2003 have not just had second thoughts about Iraq in the autumn of our discontent in 2006 ? but very public third thoughts about whether they ever really had their enthusiastic first ones.
The odd thing is that, for all the gloom and furor, and real blunders, nevertheless, by the historical standards of most wars, we have done well enough to win in Iraq, and still have a good shot of doing the impossible in seeing this government survive. More importantly still, worldwide we are beating the Islamic fundamentalists and their autocratic supporters. Iranian-style theocracy has not spread. For all the talk of losing Afghanistan, the Taliban are still dispersed or in hiding ? so is al Qaeda. Europe is galvanizing against Islamism in a way unimaginable just three years ago. The world is finally focusing on Iran. Hezbollah did not win the last war, but lost both prestige and billions of dollars in infrastructure, despite a lackluster effort by Israel. Elections have embarrassed a Hamas that, the global community sees, destroys most of what it touches and now must publicly confess that it will never recognize Israel. Countries like Libya are turning, and Syria is more isolated. If we keep the pressure up in Iraq and Afghanistan and work with our allies, Islamism and its facilitators will be proven bankrupt.
In contrast, if we should withdraw from Iraq right now, there will be an industry in the next decade of hindsight expos?s ? but they won?t be the gotcha ones like State of Denial or Fiasco. Instead we will revisit the 1974-5 Vietnam genre of hindsight ? of why after such heartbreak and sacrifice the United States gave up when it was so close to succeeding.
? Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author, most recently, of A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.
National Review Online -
Day by day we grind down the terrorists
Reply #22 on:
October 25, 2006, 10:59:01 AM »
Ground forces conducted a raid in Baghdad, killed 1 armed terrorist, and captured a medical doctor associated with insurgent activity. Credible intelligence sources indicated the doctor was involved with Al-Qaeda in Iraq?s medical operations and also linked to a foiled Baghdad International Zone attack exposed in late September.
Intelligence reports also linked the doctor to suicide attacks throughout the Baghdad area, and indicated he was responsible for housing and supporting foreign fighter suicide bombers. During the operation, ground forces received small arms fire from a terrorist. The forces returned fire, killed the shooter, and detained the doctor and 1 other terrorist.
On Oct 12, ground forces killed 2 terrorists and captured 5 terrorists during a raid targeting an Al-Qaeda in Iraq operative linked to attacks against innocent Iraqis. During the operation, ground forces were confronted by 2 armed men inside a building. In response, the ground forces engaged, killed both terrorists, and then captured 5 other terrorists without incident. A search of the area turned up several AK-47 assault rifles, a shotgun, and terrorist literature. Two vehicles were destroyed on site after testing positive for explosives.
Ground forces killed 4 terrorists and captured 6 others Oct. 11 during a raid on an Al-Qaeda compound northwest of Habbiniyah, Iraq. As ground forces entered the compound, a terrorist attempted to fire a handgun at the forces. The ground forces immediately engaged and killed the individual. 3 other terrorists attempted to throw grenades at the ground forces. The forces took cover, fired, and killed the terrorists.
Ground forces killed 1 terrorist and captured 6 terrorists Oct. 12 during a raid targeting a terrorist linked to foreign fighter movement, Vehicle Borne IEDs, and suicide bomber operations. As the ground forces approached the target, two terrorists fled from a group of people sleeping outside the house. The ground forces pursued and captured the two men without incident. A third man ran into an adjacent building whereby ground forces followed and killed the terrorist when he emerged from a room with a pistol.
Ground forces captured 8 terrorists and rescued a kidnapping victim during an operation targeting foreign fighters Oct. 11 in Tarmiya. During the operation, ground forces attacked a building and captured 8 terrorists without incident. After questioning them, 1 individual claimed he was kidnapped by the terrorists in Taji seven days earlier and was held for ransom. Two of the terrorists corroborated the story and admitted to the kidnapping. The ground forces discovered a ?hostage? holding room & several AK-47 assault rifles.
Ground forces conducted a raid Oct. 9 in Tikrit against a local hawala allegedly used by individuals and businesses to provide financial support to insurgent groups. During the raid, ground forces arrested 16 individuals. Insurgents and criminals allegedly used the hawala, a local financial system for banking and money exchange, to hide money made through illegal activity, and money illegally funneled into Iraq. Tips from local Iraqi citizens initiated the daylight raid.
ISF Capture One Terrorist in Raid Near Taji
BAGHDAD - Special Iraqi Security Forces captured a wanted terrorist involved in murders and bomb attacks during a raid Oct. 14.
Iraqi forces, with Coalition advisers, conducted an air-assault at the objective and quickly captured the terrorist without incident. The terrorist allegedly belongs to a terror cell that is kidnapping and murdering innocent Iraqis and has ties to Al Qaeda in Iraq insurgent forces.
Iraqi, U.S. troops capture 11 terrorists, seize weapons cache
BAGHDAD ? Iraqi Army and U.S. Soldiers captured 11 terrorists Oct. 12 and seized a weapons cache Oct. 13 in Baghdad.
A patrol from the 9th Iraqi Army Division, partnered with the 4th Infantry Division, found a murdered Iraqi citizen and captured the 5 terrorists who allegedly committed the murder in Saab al Bour, north of Baghdad.
In a separate incident, a patrol from the 10th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Inf. Div. reacted to a small-arms fire attack, returned fire and captured 2 terrorists, also in Saab al Bour.
In another incident Thursday, an Estonian Infantry Platoon patrol attached to 7th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Regt., returned fire when terrorists attacked them, wounding 2 terrorists and capturing 2 others. The Estonians seized a rocket-propelled grenade launcher from the terrorists.
Meanwhile, Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division captured 2 known terrorists, one of whom had 3 complete improvised-explosive devices in his possession, while conducting combat operations in Baghdad.
Operation Dealer Discovers SVBIEDs, Large Weapons Cache in Western Ramadi, 15 Insurgents Captured
RAMADI, Iraq ? Soldiers captured 15 insurgents, discovered 2 vehicles being fitted as suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive devices, and found a significant weapons cache during Operation Dealer, 2 in western Ramadi.
Based on a tip from a local resident, Soldiers from Task Force 1-35 captured 15 individuals who were identified as terrorists. During Operation Dealer, the task force found 2 stripped-down vehicles in the process of being converted to VBIEDs. Additionally, 4 terrorists were captured in connection with the operation.
The large found weapons cache consisted of four rocket propelled grenade launchers, 34 155mm artillery shells, 13 60mm mortar rounds, eight AK-47s, a PKC machine gun, a Dragonov sniper rifle with scope, three pounds of high explosives, 400 pounds of detonation cord, 48 blasting caps, 8 radio controlled IED initiators, 4 pressure activated IED initiators and more than 600 rounds of small arms ammunition.
Iraqi Army soldiers respond to attack, kill 3 terrorists; U.S. Soldiers capture 14 terrorists
BAGHDAD ? Iraqi Security Force and U.S. Soldiers worked together to kill 3 terrorists and capture 14 other terrorists.
A combined patrol from the 9th Iraqi Army Division, and 463rd Military Police Company, 4th Infantry Division, killed 3 terrorists and captured one north of Baghdad.
After being attacked by small-arms fire, the patrol engaged the terrorists, killing 1 and wounding several others; the patrol then called for attack aviation support and continued to press the fight against the enemy forces.
U.S. Army AH-64D Apache attack helicopters from 1st Bn., 4th Aviation Regiment, 4th Inf. Div., responded to the call and engaged 2 terrorists in an open field.
In a separate incident, U.S. Soldiers from 172nd Stryker Brigade captured a terrorist cell leader and 3 of his associates on Tuesday.
A patrol, consisting of Iraqi policemen and Soldiers from 463rd Military Police Company, 4th Infantry Division, responded to a small-arms fire attack from an unknown number of terrorists, searched the area, and captured 2 terrorists near Baghdad. Soldiers from 2nd Tank Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division, identified the 2 terrorists as the same men who fired at them on previous days.
Insurgent mortar team destroyed
CAMP FALLUJAH - An insurgent mortar team attacked Iraqi Security Forces in Al Anbar Province Wednesday. Coalition Forces? aircraft responded by firing a missile at the mortar team?s vehicle. The vehicle was destroyed and enemy casualties cannot be confirmed at this time.
Kidnap victim and cache discovered, 2 terrorists captured
MUQDADIYA ? Iraqi Army and Coalition Force discovered a cache, freed a kidnap victim and captured two terrorists Saturday in the town of Muqdadiya.
Soldiers with the 5th Iraqi Army Division, and U.S. soldiers with the 9th Cavalry Regiment discovered the cache and the kidnap victim after a local citizen pointed to a building in the area.
IA search of the location uncovered one grenade, one stick of TNT, one flare gun, and multiple fake improvised explosive devices. The kidnap victim was found chained to a wall in the house next door. Two males were arrested from the house where the cache was found.
U.S. Soldiers discover more than 75 weapons caches
BAGHDAD ? U.S. Soldiers continue to find weapons caches for a seventh day as part of Operation Commando Hunter, a 10th Mountain Division operation intended to deny the terrorists sanctuary near Yusufiyah, south of Baghdad.
The Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, seized 21 caches Friday, bringing the total to 78 caches seized in the area near Yusufiyah, 20 miles southwest of Baghdad.
The 21 additional weapons caches consisted of three blocks of dynamite, 21 120mm mortar rounds, five 60mm mortar rounds, 80 7.62mm rounds, an AK-47 assault rifle, three rocket-propelled grenade launchers, five RPG rounds, an improvised rocket launcher, a Meals, Ready to Eat bag with explosive materials in it, 54 20mm anti-aircraft rounds, three 105mm artillery rounds, seven 82mm mortar rounds, an improvised-explosive device air compressor, a sniper rifle, four 82mm mortar tubes, a 14.5mm receiver barrel, 17 rigged and ready to use IEDs, an anti-aircraft gun and various bomb-making materials.
More than 600 Iraqi police recruits to graduate this week; hundreds more to begin training in the Al Anbar Province
CAMP FALLUJAH ? More than 600 Iraqi police recruits are scheduled to graduate this week and four to five hundred more are due to begin training in the Al Anbar Province. Anbar province is the most restive province in Iraq and an Al Qaeda stronghold.
In February of 2006, there were 14 active police stations in 3 of 9 districts throughout the province. Those stations were manned by fewer than 3,800 policemen. Today there are 33 stations operating in 8 districts throughout province with more than 8,000 trained police officials.
Many police stations throughout the province will new equipment arriving this week in the form of 80 new Chevrolet Silverado Sport Utility Vehicles. The distinctive trucks, some of which will be equipped with protective armor, will allow police to respond to disturbances in their communities. The goal in recruiting is to have 11,330 police trained and equipped by early 2007.
CCCI convicts 65 insurgents: One sentenced to death, 8 sentenced to life imprisonment
BAGHDAD ? The Central Criminal Court of Iraq convicted 65 people from September 15 to October 4 for various crimes including possession of illegal weapons; leading, and joining armed groups; attempted use of explosives and illegal border crossing.
The trial court found one Iraqi man guilty of violating Article 4 of the Terrorist Law for joining armed groups to participate in terrorist activities and sentenced him to death. The defendant is a known member of the Al-Qaida organization.
The trial court found 4 defendants guilty of violating Article 4 of the Terrorist Law and sentenced them to life imprisonment. Coalition Force captured the defendants after observing the 4 men preparing to attack a checkpoint with an RPG and small arms. Ground force personnel began firing and the 4 defendants returned fire with AK-47s. The defendants then ran into a mosque where ground forces again came under fire from sniper fire and mortar rounds. The defendants were charged with joining armed groups to disrupt stability and security of Iraq and endangering people?s lives.
The trial court found a Saudi Arabian man, captured by Coalition Force personnel in November of 2004, guilty of violating Article 194 of the Iraqi Penal Code for organizing, heading, leading or joining armed groups and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The defendant admitted to being a foreign fighter who came to Iraq for jihad.
The trial court found two Iraqi men guilty of violating Article 345, use of an explosive, of the Iraqi Penal Code and sentenced them to life imprisonment. Coalition ground forces captured the defendants while inspecting the blast area of an IED that exploded and killed a Coalition soldier. The forces found a wire leading from the blast area to a house. The wire led to an electrical device inside the house.
The trial court found one Iraqi man guilty of organizing, heading, leading or joining armed groups in violation of Article 194 of the Iraqi Penal Code and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Coalition Forces captured the defendant in December 2005 during a targeted raid. The defendant was an active member of Ansar Al Sunna in Mosul.
Those convicted of passport violations and entering the country illegally included men from Egypt, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Iran. Other sentences ranged from one year to 30 years imprisonment.
Since its establishment in April 2004, the Central Criminal Court has held 1,612 trials for Coalition-apprehended insurgents. The proceedings have resulted in 1,374 convictions with sentences ranging up to death.
80 insurgents killed or arrested in operations in Iraq
BAGHDAD -- Some 80 militants have been killed or arrested in separate operations in Iraq, the U.S. military said Saturday.
A U.S. military statement said its troops had killed one and arrested six militants in an operation in southern Baghdad. Those arrested have connections to foreign fighter activities, car-bombings, and suicide attacks. During the past 24 hours Iraqi troops have killed 10 militants in Baghdad and Al-Ramadi in two separate incidents.
It added, 63 militants have been detained in Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk.
IRAQI SECURITY FORCES SPOIL TERRORIST ATTACK
MOSUL, Iraq ? Iraqi Security Forces defeated a complex attack in Mosul Thursday night with the aid of Coalition Forces.
U.S. Army Soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division attacked and destroyed a terrorist mortar cell Thursday night after Forward Operating Base Marez received indirect fire. 2 terrorists were killed, 1 wounded and 1 captured in the attack. Soldiers captured a significant weapons cache in the immediate area that contained three 82-mm mortar tubes with 18 mortar rounds and a 120-mm mortar tube with multiple mortar rounds.
During the attack, U.S. Soldiers witnessed terrorists flee to a building nearby. An outer cordon was set while Soldiers from the 2nd Iraqi Army Division assaulted the building killing 2 terrorists and capturing 3 others.
In western Mosul at approximately the same time, Iraqi Security Forces together with Soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division defeated a complex terrorist attack involving small arms and rocket propelled grenade fire. During the fighting, Iraqi Police and Soldiers from 2nd Iraqi Army Division, cordoned the area capturing several mobile weapons caches and killing and detaining numerous terrorists involved in the attacks. One Iraqi Army Soldier and 4 Iraqi Police were wounded in the fighting.
Iraqi Police Headquarters in Mosul reported between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday they captured 39 terrorists, wounded 2 terrorists and killed 14 terrorists. They also captured several small arms weapons caches, 10 vehicles suspected of being used for terrorist activity and one large truck with weapons.
12 U.S. Soldiers were wounded in the initial mortar attack on FOB Marez East. 4 soldiers were treated and returned to duty, 5 were not seriously wounded and 3 were seriously wounded.
Reply #23 on:
October 25, 2006, 08:21:57 PM »
Iraq: A Sunni Shift Against the Jihad
Sunni nationalists in Iraq who recently expressed an interest in negotiating a settlement with the United States want Washington to eject transnational Islamist militants from their midst. Though mainstream Sunni elements have been exploiting jihadist activity for years, they now face a threat from the jihadists, who could try to fill a leadership vacuum as crucial negotiations with the Shia and the Kurds approach and as pressure intensifies for the Bush administration to pull troops out of Iraq. The Sunni shift against the jihadists might seem like a positive development, but given the sectarian and political complexities in the country, such a move will only lead to more violence and instability.
Iraq's largest Sunni nationalist insurgent group, the Islamic Army of Iraq, as well as Baathists, tribal leaders and other mainstream Sunnis have recently expressed an interest in negotiating a settlement with the United States. One of their key conditions is that U.S. forces must rid central Iraq of transnational jihadists.
Stratfor recently discussed how al Qaeda's ability to penetrate Sunni areas of Iraq by forging alliances with like-minded Iraqi militant groups and tribal elders would elicit a strong reaction from mainstream Sunnis. That the Sunnis now want the United States to annihilate the jihadists shows that the anti-jihadist trend is gaining momentum. Not only do the Sunnis now feel threatened by the jihadists, but they also realize that the Bush administration is under intense pressure on the home front to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq, and that negotiations with the Shia and Kurds are reaching a key impasse.
The jihadists, already marginally useful to the Sunnis, are quickly becoming even less useful -- the latter simply does not want to share power with the former. But desiring something is one thing and actually attaining it is another. The Sunnis allowed the jihadists to operate within their midst for more than three years, which has allowed jihadists to make significant inroads in the Sunni community. Not wanting the blood of fellow Sunnis -- albeit foreigners and extremists -- on their hands, Sunni nationalists now demand that U.S. forces take the jihadists out.
Washington, the Shia and the Kurds have long waited for such a turnover, but they will not agree to the deal without exacting a price from the Sunnis -- in the form of political concessions on other issues such as federalism and the sharing of oil revenues. In return for their cooperation, the Sunnis expect security guarantees from the Shia, and these do not seem likely any time soon considering the complications involving U.S.-Iran dealings and the intra-Shiite struggle over the issue of disbanding the militias.
Regardless of how things work out in terms of a jihadist purge, one thing is clear: The country is on the cusp of yet another violent struggle.
Iraqi forces disrupt murder, kidnapping cell operations
Reply #24 on:
October 26, 2006, 10:51:56 AM »
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RELEASE No. 20061026-03
Oct. 26, 2006
Iraqi forces disrupt murder, kidnapping cell operations
Multi-National Corps ? Iraq PAO
BAGHDAD ? Special Iraqi Police forces conducted an early morning raid Oct. 25 in the al Hillah area to capture members of a murder and kidnapping cell wanted by the Ministry of the Interior.
Iraqi forces, with Coalition advisers, arrived at the objective and gained entry to several locations where 11 suspected members of the cell were found and detained.
The cell was targeted for its attacks against Iraqi and Coalition forces with improvised explosive devices and mortars, and their numerous criminal activities including extortion, kidnapping, car theft, and the murder of Iraqi civilians.
Operations on the objective caused minimal damage and there were no Iraqi civilian, Iraqi forces or Coalition forces casualties.
Multi-National Corps ? Iraq
Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory
Reply #25 on:
October 29, 2006, 04:01:33 AM »
Air strikes thwart terrorist ambushes
Sunday, 29 October 2006
BAGHDAD, Iraq ? Coalition aircraft thwarted two separate terrorist ambushes as ground forces moved toward their objective early Sunday morning near Balad. Coalition Forces encountered terrorist activity on two separate occasions along their travel route. After positive identification of the enemy by ground forces and with assistance from Iraqi Police, coalition aircraft engaged the targets with precision fires, killing four terrorists in one engagement and in conjunction with ground forces killed an estimated 13 others in a subsequent engagement along the same route.
Armed with RPGs, machineguns and AK47?s, the terrorists were planning to ambush the Coalition ground force. The plan did not succeed. No Coalition Forces were injured during the attack.
During each of the engagements, secondary explosions were observed, indicating IEDs or other terrorist weaponry used by al-Qaeda to kill innocent Iraqis and Coalition Forces patrolling the roads.
Despite the terrorists? ambush attempts, Coalitions Forces successfully continued their operation and detained three suspected terrorists.
COMBINED PRESS INFORMATION CENTER
Reply #26 on:
October 29, 2006, 04:36:32 AM »
U.S. foes ramp up media campaign in "war of ideas"
Fri Oct 27, 2006 1:10 PM ET
By Bernd Debusmann, Special Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As U.S. military losses mount steadily in Iraq, a document issued by a group linked to al Qaeda spells out new goals for America's most determined enemies and calls for a media war against the United States.
The document, which began circulating on the Internet this month, illustrates the techniques Washington's enemy is using in what President George W. Bush has called the "war of ideas."
"The people of jihad need to carry out a media war parallel to the military war ... because we can observe the effect that the media have on nations," said the document, signed by Najd al-Rawi of the Global Islamic Media Front, a group associated with al Qaeda.
It lists targets for a public relations campaign ranging from the obvious -- Internet chat rooms -- to the surprising -- "famous U.S. authors with e-mail addresses" and mentions New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and the academics Noam Chomsky, Francis Fukuyama and Samuel Huntington.
The author suggests that video of attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq could be a weapon in the media war and sway U.S. public opinion. Judging from a controversy that flared after CNN aired a video on October 18 showing insurgent snipers cutting down U.S. soldiers, such footage is considered a serious threat by some U.S. lawmakers.
The tape was tame by Internet standards: the screen went black at the moment the bullets hit, sparing viewers the most shocking images.
But it prompted Duncan Hunter, the chairman of the powerful House Armed Services Committee, and two congressional colleagues to ask Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to ban CNN reporters from traveling with U.S. units in Iraq.
The issue of U.S. military deaths has long been sensitive -- the Pentagon has banned photographers from taking pictures of flag-draped coffins arriving in the United States from Iraq or Afghanistan.
In the past, similar strategy messages from al Qaeda and other groups have often remained in the relative obscurity of password-protected Arabic-language Web sites and message boards.
By contrast, the call in the document for a parallel media war traveled from the Internet to a mention in a New York Times column, the White House briefing room and eventually Bush himself.
In his weekly radio address on October 21, Bush specifically referred to the Global Islamic Media Front and said "the terrorists are trying to influence public opinion here in the United States. They have a sophisticated propaganda strategy ... to divide America and break our will."
Experts agree on the sophistication. "They (the jihadists) are more effective than us" on the propaganda front, said Peter Bergen, a terrorism expert at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank.
WAR OF IDEAS
To what extent gruesome images from the military fronts can affect U.S. attitudes toward an increasingly unpopular Iraq war is open to debate.
But if global public opinion polls are a gauge, the United States is losing the overall war of ideas Bush declared part of U.S. national security strategy four years ago.
Since the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003, a move hugely unpopular in much of the world, international polls such as ones conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project have tracked a steady rise in anti-Americanism.
America's global standing slipped despite public diplomacy efforts such as increased spending on TV and radio broadcasts to the Middle East. Experts are critical of the efforts.
"It's hard to find a person between the Atlantic and the Indian subcontinent who'd give the U.S. a hearing these days," said Paul Eedle, a London-based terrorism expert and filmmaker who has just produced a documentary on the use of videos by followers of al Qaeda.It will be aired in Britain next month.
"In most of today's Middle East, the U.S. is seen as hostile to Islam and hostile to Arabs."
But while videos showing Americans inspire the radicalized and serve as recruitment tools, Eedle says, the mass of people in the Arab world are much more influenced by what they see on their main evening news bulletins -- "most of which make them angry at America and Israel."
Hucksters in Hotels, Part I
Reply #27 on:
October 31, 2006, 06:04:11 PM »
The Modern Way of War Correspondence
By Michael Fumento
National Review, November 7, 2006
Would you trust a Hurricane Katrina report datelined ?direct from Detroit?? Or coverage of the World Trade Center attack from Chicago? Why then should we believe a Time Magazine investigation of the Haditha killings that was reported not from Haditha but from Baghdad? Or a Los Angeles Times article on a purported Fallujah-like attack on Ramadi reported by four journalists in Baghdad and one in Washington? Yet we do, essentially because we have no choice. A war in a country the size of California is essentially covered from a single city. Plug the name of Iraqi cities other than Baghdad into Google News and you?ll find that time and again the reporters are in Iraq?s capital, nowhere near the scene. Capt. David Gramling, public affairs officer for the unit I?m currently embedded with, puts it nicely: ?I think it would be pretty hard to report on Baghdad from out here.? Welcome to the not-so-brave new world of Iraq war correspondence.
Vietnam was the first war to give us reporting in virtually real time. Iraq is the first to give us virtual reporting. That doesn?t necessarily make it biased against the war; it does make it biased against the truth.
During my three embeds in Iraq?s vicious Anbar Province, I?ve been mortared and sniped at, and have dodged machine-gun fire ? all of which has given me a serious contempt for the rear-echelon reporters. When I appeared on the Al Franken Show in May, after my second embed, it was with former CNN Baghdad bureau chief Jane Arraf ? who complained about the dangers of being shot down by a missile while landing in Baghdad, and the dangers of the airport road to the International Zone (IZ) . . . and how awful the Baghdad hotels were.
Descent into Hell?
Most rear-echelon reporters seem to have studied the same handbook, perhaps The Dummies? Guide to Faux Bravado. It usually begins with the horrific entry into Baghdad International Airport. Time?s Baghdad bureau chief, Aparisim Ghosh, in an August 2006 cover story, devotes five long paragraphs to the alleged horror of landing there.
It?s ?the world?s scariest landing,? he insists, as if he were an expert on all the landings of all the planes at all the world?s airports and military airfields. It?s ?a steep, corkscrewing plunge,? a ?spiraling dive, straightening up just yards from the runway. If you?re looking out the window, it can feel as if the plane is in a free fall from which it can?t possibly pull out.? Writes Ghosh, ?During one especially difficult landing in 2004, a retired American cop wouldn't stop screaming ?Oh, God! Oh, God!? I finally had to slap him on the face ? on instructions from the flight attendant.?
The Associated Press gave us a whole article on the subject, titled ?A hair-raising flight into Baghdad,? referring to ?a stomach-churning series of tight, spiraling turns that pin passengers deep in their seats.?
I?ve flown into that airport three times now; each time was in a military C-130 Hercules cargo plane, and each landing was as smooth as the proverbial baby?s behind. But Ghosh is describing a descent in a civilian Fokker F-28 jet, on which admittedly I have never flown. (It?s $900 one-way for the short hop from Amman to Baghdad, and therefore the transportation of well-heeled media people.) So I asked a reporter friend who frequently covers combat in the Mideast and Africa, and has also frequently flown into Baghdad on those Fokkers. ?The plane just banks heavily,? he said. ?It?s not a big deal.? He requested anonymity, lest he incur the wrath of other journalists for spoiling their war stories.
Moreover, you can read similar corkscrew horror stories from reporters who have flown in on C-130s. ?A C-130 deposits us onto the tarmac of Baghdad International Airport after a hair-raising corkscrew landing intended to elude incoming small arms and rocket fire,? a Greek freelance photojournalist boasted on his blog.
It?s not just experience that tells me that?s baloney. Look at a photo of a C-130; it?s a flying bathtub.
Chuck Yeager couldn?t throw it into a corkscrew and then pull out. I did ask a crewman on this last trip about deep-diving C-130s and he said that on a single flight (out of hundreds) the pilot had to plunge suddenly to avoid getting to close to another plane, but other than that ?Landing in this plane is like landing in an airliner.? Except that unlike those Fokkers there are no flight attendants.
As to the overall dangers of flying into or out of Baghdad, one civilian cargo jet was hit after takeoff with a shoulder-launched missile, but landed safely; and one Australian C-130 was hit by small-arms fire, killing one passenger. That?s it. No reporter has been injured or killed flying into or out of Baghdad International.
The Highway of Death
Then there?s the dreaded ?Highway of Death.? Here?s Ghosh again, picking up after his horrific corkscrew description. ?But the relief is temporary; most of us still have to negotiate the Highway of Death,? he writes. ?There have been hundreds of insurgent and terrorist attacks along its length since the U.S. military established its largest Iraqi base,
Camp Victory, next to the airport three years ago. Many of the attacks are directed at U.S. patrols, but they have also killed scores of Iraqi noncombatants.? Only as an afterthought does he note that ?recently the highway has become less deadly.?
And here?s an account from A. A. Gill, a reporter who accompanied another journalist, Jeremy Clarkson, in Iraq last year. He wrote, in Britain?s Sunday Times Magazine last November:
The Americans didn?t have a Black Hawk to spare for the five-minute hop into the Green Zone, so we were going to have to drive it. This is the bit Jeremy swore he?d never do. When you?re asked where you draw the line, this is the place to start drawing. Nobody drives into Baghdad if they?ve not been given a direct order. Even our minder, Wing Commander Willox, has never done it. . . . This road is code-named Route Irish. [The] Guinness [Book of] World Records has just authoritatively announced that Baghdad is the worst place in the world. . . . This 25-minute stretch of blasted tarmac from the airport to the Green Zone is, as Jeremy might say, the most dangerous drive ? in the world.
Yet just two days earlier the Washington Post headlined a piece on Route Irish as follows: ?Easy Sailing along Once-Perilous Road to Baghdad Airport.? It observed, ?Two months ago, the killings stopped. In October, one person was wounded on the road and no one was killed, according to the U.S. Army. . . . It was safe enough to stop here, to linger, to chat, and a computer screen flashed the statistical evidence. . . . In 10 months, the only enemy fire they have seen on the airport road came after one of the civilian trucks they were escorting broke down.? And two months earlier, USA Today had published a similar account, backing it up with a quote from an officer whose men patrolled the roads: ?Route Irish is definitely not the most dangerous road in Iraq any longer, and everyone who uses it knows it.? Apparently, though, the Sunday Times reporter didn?t know it ? and other Baghdad journalists still don?t know it.
In fact, only reporters call it ?The Highway of Death.? To everyone else it?s Route Irish, named after the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (and not after an infantry regiment with strong Irish roots, as is widely believed).
Further, reporters coming into the city or the IZ often have the option of bypassing Route Irish in the aforementioned helicopter runs. Failing that, they can take the Rhino bus. The Rhino is so thickly armored that by comparison an M1 Abrams tank is made of cardboard. It?s repeatedly been hit with IEDs, causing no more discomfort to passengers than ringing ears. Basically the IED would have to be atomic to stop it. But in that case, the passengers would still be protected by soldiers on board firing through gun slits, by heavily-armed Humvees both fore and aft, and by a helicopter gunship that flies over it.
Yet reporters such as NBC News State Department Producer Libby Leist, make even the Rhino ride sound scary ? though at least she didn?t claim the bus makes a corkscrew plunge.
Telling readers that the Blackhawk intended to fly Condoleeza Rice and her entourage of aides and reporters couldn?t fly to the IZ on account of weather, Leist wrote in March 2006 (five months after the aforementioned Washington Post account, and seven months after the USA Today account), ?Now, even the hardened journalists and Rice?s well traveled aides seemed leery. We had to take ?Rhino? military vehicles out onto Baghdad?s famously dangerous airport road. The only thing we could take comfort in was that Rice?s security detail thought it was safe enough for her to do.? Leist concluded that, ?Needless to say, it was a relief to finally get into the heavily guarded secure International Zone . . . . The usually energetic press corps was silent for the entire ride from the airport ? a sign we were all anxious to get off the road.?
Chin up, Libby! Now you?ll have something to tell your grandchildren about.
Fear and Tension in the IZ
With that horrific arrival behind them, it?s time for the Baghdad reporters to settle into their lodgings. Those may be in the International Zone or just outside in places like the Al Rashid, Al Hamra, or Palestine hotels. And trust them, their trip into the IZ was stepping from the frying pan into the fire. Newsweek?s Joe Cochrane wrote a commentary about the IZ in July 2005 just two months after I first visited it. (All media must come through the IZ to get credentialed.) In other words, we both saw the same place at about the same time ? but I don?t recognize his IZ.
?I?ve always been something of an optimist, but everyone has a breaking point. Mine came on Saturday as I toured the infamous ?Green Zone? in central Baghdad,? Cochrane began. After providing his view of a mean Baghdad outside the IZ, he continued, ?The situation inside the [IZ] is scarcely better. Heavily armed troops guard government buildings and hospitals, menacingly pointing their weapons at anyone who approaches. Soldiers manning checkpoints can use deadly force against motorists who fail to heed their instructions, so the warning signs say, and I have no doubt they?d exercise that right in a heartbeat if they felt threatened. All this fear and tension, and inside a six square mile area that?s supposed to be safe.?
That?s funny, because inside my ?infamous? IZ the guards make people feel safe, not threatened. In 2005, many of them were Gurkhas ? a combination of some of the best killers on earth and the politest people you?d ever want to meet. Nobody ever menacingly pointed a weapon at me.
Cochrane was right that ?roadblocks, blast walls, and barbed wire are the most common sights in this walled-in mini-city,? but these defenses contributed to an atmosphere that to me was devoid of fear and tension. As for the idea that it?s ?supposed to be safe,? when I inquired in May 2005 I was told it had probably been months since anybody dropped in a rocket or mortar round. And ?dropped in? is probably the best term; the bad guys don?t even have the capacity to aim; they just fire and run, hoping the round actually lands somewhere within the zone. It?s rare that they actually hit near, much less kill, anybody.
Hucksters in Hotels, Part II
Reply #28 on:
October 31, 2006, 06:04:37 PM »
The real IZ represents opulence in the midst of war ? with terrific chow, huge post exchanges that stock an amazing array of products, the best medical care in the country, and large, sumptuous swimming pools built for Saddam but now open to anybody who works in the zone. Nor have the grotesque exaggerations of the dangers of the IZ gone unnoticed by soldiers and their loved ones. ?Dear Chain-smoking, Unwitting Stooges,? military blogger Jason Van Steenwyk began an open letter to the Baghdad press corps. ?So how come we can get mortared several times a week out here and it never makes the news, but the pogues [rear-echelon soldiers] in the Green Zone can catch three measly mortar rounds and I get my dad emailing me asking why the Baghdad press corps is covering it like it?s the second Tet Offensive??
(Not incidentally, soldiers in the IZ also feel the need for false bravado. This past spring, on a tour of the area while waiting for my helicopter to come that night, I was accompanied by a chubby sergeant armed to the teeth including five hand grenades on his vest while soldiers I?ve gone into combat with never wear more than one. Obviously insecure about living in Iraq?s lap of luxury while other soldiers throughout the country lived in more primitive conditions and actually fought and died, he explained that the IZ can be an extremely dangerous place and that if often gets shelled. Fortunately he didn?t hear the sound of my eyes rolling.)
In any case, no reporter has been killed or injured inside the IZ.
Then you have those awful, oh just awful, hotels! CNN?s Jane Arraf dared me to visit one. I was stunned; it was as if somebody had dared me to zip my pants. Really, I thought, just how often do you get mortared while inside one of those hotels? She did point out that reporters have been killed inside Baghdad hotels. But they were not Americans and were not killed by enemy fire, but rather errant American fire during the seizure of Baghdad way back in early 2003.
I recall another reporter complaining that the hotels were so bad that you felt compelled to go out and buy your own linen. Apparently far better to bundle into or atop a sleeping bag in a cracker box at the forward operating bases I?d stayed at in Fallujah, Karma, and here in Ramadi or the 80-bed transient tent at Camp Ramadi with nothing over your head to protect you from rocket or mortar rounds but a sheet of canvas or perhaps a layer of sandbags on wood that can stop a 60 millimeter mortar but not an 81 or 120 millimeter, which the enemy greatly prefers.
Where I am right now it?s mandatory to wear body armor and helmet at all times unless in a fortified position. It?s hot and it?s a hassle. Imagine getting up in the middle of the night to relieve yourself and having to slap on clothes and armor to walk to a nasty outhouse. You may have to urinate in one place and do your other business in another, because urine interferes with the burning of the excrement.
To take your shower you get wet, turn off the water and lather up, then quickly rinse off. And no, there?s no place to plug in your hair dryer. On the other hand, in some camps I?ve stayed at there aren?t any showers so you don?t have to worry about any of this.
You?ve probably heard the Iraqi desert is made of sand; you know, like Malibu Beach. Wrong. It?s a fine dust that coats everything including the inside of your lungs. Until recently there was no store of any kind at Corregidor. A truck came once monthly and if you needed something in-between ? tough.
Even getting onto one of the nine Internet-connected computers that are somehow slower than dial-up and allocated for 500 men makes sending off dispatches ? or sending an email to your spouse to tell her you?re still okay despite the fighting in your area he or she heard about ? rather difficult.
Hiding out in Baghdad
It?s not fair to say the hotel-dwellers never leave their safe and comfy confines. ?Despite the danger, Nancy [Youssef, Knight Ridder bureau chief] and her colleagues do venture out and do find inventive ways to talk with ordinary Iraqis,? then?Knight Ridder D.C. bureau chief Clark Hoyt wrote in a column. He explained that Nancy says, ?When I go grocery shopping, I listen to people?s conversations. What are they talking about?? So this is what passes for ?war correspondence? of the Baghdad Brigade.
Even journalists sympathetic to the Baghdad press corps admit they essentially just hide out. Here?s how The New York Review of Books put it last April: ?The bitter truth is that doing any kind of work outside these American fortified zones has become so dangerous for foreigners as to be virtually suicidal. More and more journalists find themselves hunkered down inside whatever bubbles of refuge they have managed to create in order to insulate themselves from the lawlessness outside.? Unless you accept ?insulation? as a synonym for ?reporting,? this doesn?t speak well of the hotel denizens.
Other reporters have been less generous. The London Independent?s Robert Fisk has written of ?hotel journalism,? while former Washington Post Bureau Chief Rajiv Chandrasekaran has called it ?journalism by remote control.? More damningly, Maggie O?Kane of the British newspaper The Guardian said: ?We no longer know what is going on, but we are pretending we do.? Ultimately, they can?t even cover Baghdad yet they pretend they can cover Ramadi.
One way the Baghdad press corps and its allies try to steal valor is to invoke the incredibly large number of reporters killed in the war: It?s true that over 100 journalists or media assistants have been killed. Yet, with the sole exception of Steven Vincent, the only American journalists killed or even seriously injured by hostile action in Iraq have been embeds. Atlantic Monthly editor-at-large Michael Kelly (an editor of mine) drowned after his Humvee rolled into a Baghdad canal during the invasion. NBC reporter David Bloom died of a pulmonary embolism from being cramped in a Humvee, also during the invasion. Both were embedded with the 3rd Infantry Division.
CBS News cameraman Paul Douglas and freelance soundman James Brolan were blown up by an improvised explosive device (IED) while accompanying CBS correspondent Kimberly Dozier, herself critically injured. They were embedded with the 4th Infantry Division. So were ABC anchorman Bob Woodruff and his cameraman, who were critically injured by an IED. Time correspondent Michael Weisskopf had his hand blown off trying to toss a grenade out of his Humvee when he was embedded with the 1st Armored Division. These, not the hotel-bound credit-claimers, are the journalist-heroes of the Iraq War.
To Tell the Truth
Of course, there are exceptions to MSM cowardice and the false bravado that follows. The Associated Press often sends reporters into Ramadi. USA Today does likewise, actually embedding a woman blogger in the city. The Washington Post sends many fine reporters where other news bureaus fear to tread. There are surely other exceptions.
Yet the glaring gap between the reality of the Iraq war and the virtuality from the hotels and IZ is what leads embeds to go to the most dangerous places in Iraq and Afghanistan on their own dime.
One of them made this point quite forcefully in a recent column. Jerry Newberry, communications director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and a Vietnam Army vet, wrote in a September column just before heading off for Afghanistan and then Iraq: ?For the most part, the wars being fought by our people in Afghanistan and Iraq ? their successes, heroism, and valor ? [are] reported by some overpaid, makeup-wearing talking heads, sitting on their fat rear-ends in an air-conditioned hotel. They rely on Iraqi stringers to bring the stuff to them and then call it reporting.?
Newberry?s bravery and dedication are to be saluted, but as a combat vet he has advantages. So did I, as a veteran paratrooper (on my first trip) and a combat veteran (by the end of my second). Michael Yon, famed for his blog and award-winning photos of his nine-month embed with the infantry in Iraq is a former Green Beret. Writer and historian Andrew Lubin, a Fallujah-bound embed I met while getting credentialed on this trip, is a former Marine who goes to the rifle range twice monthly.
But Patrick Dollard, with no military training, left a cushy job as Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh?s agent to bunk down with Marines in Ramadi for seven months to film a documentary series (still being edited) that he hopes will show the real war and the real warriors.
In February, a Humvee he was traveling in hit a massive IED, which shredded the vehicle and killed two of the three Marines aboard. Dollard was injured and hospitalized. But he had a mission, and was quickly back on the job. The next month, another IED blast injured him, less seriously. Then . . . right back to work. Dollard?s experiences alone put the Baghdad press corps to shame. But he insisted to me that exchanging Hollywood for a hellhole wasn?t as hard as you?d imagine. ?I had to feel the moral imperative to go, and clearly I did feel it,? he said.
The sad truth is that the mainstream media have no interest in covering the Iraq War for what it is, observes Dollard. He says they are interested in Iraq only so far as it is useful as a weapon against their self-imagined mortal political enemy, George W. Bush. The embeds, however, want the real picture ? and we want to tell the truth about it to the world.
Which is something their detractors simply refuse to understand. Screenwriter-director Nora Ephron says that dispatches from both soldiers and embeds are worthless, because we?re ?too close? to the war. The best ?reporting? apparently is from those most removed. (Amazingly, Ephron also believes embedding was an evil idea dreamed up for this war, even though in World War II and later wars all major news outlets had reporters with the troops on the front lines. That?s how we got the incredible dispatches of Ernie Pyle, and the wonderful Iwo Jima flag-raising photo by Joe Rosenthal.)
Sometimes you?ll hear that embeds are just shuffled around in armored vehicles. Some are, although IEDs and rocket-propelled grenades still make that less safe than manning a desk. But in my case, I?ve never been in an armored vehicle that wasn?t merely dropping us off at a remote location to engage in foot patrols. Yet Paul Rieckhoff, an anti-war vet who was hawking his boring book, Chasing Ghosts, on the same Al Franken Show Jane Arraf and I were on, commented on my disgust with hotel-bound reporters by smearing embeds. He labeled those who actually go into battle with troops as ?jock sniffers.? To him, the Ernie Pyles and Joe Rosenthals of America?s past were just a bunch of contemptible groupies.
Yet embeds perform a service beyond just their willingness to see combat, and to describe accurately the specific events they witness. ?Although some journalism professors may worry that military embedding is subverting the media, I would argue the contrary,? Robert Kaplan wrote in The Atlantic Monthly. Kaplan, who has been embedded all over the world, went on to observe, ?The Columbia Journalism Review recently ran an article about the worrisome gap between a wealthy media establishment and ordinary working Americans. One solution is embedding, which offers the media perhaps their last, best chance to reconnect with much of the society they claim to be a part of.?
The media-elite Baghdad Brigade and its stateside editors have forfeited this opportunity. It?s not just that being with the soldiers puts them at risk, but that they don?t want to be with those soldiers. They prefer the company of their fellow journalists and that, too, contributes to their unwillingness to leave their walled-in compounds.
It?s impossible to blame anyone for not wanting to report from the more dangerous parts of Iraq; over 99 percent of Americans surely would not want to. The trouble with the Baghdad press corps is that, in pretending to be war correspondents when the correspondence they engage in could just as well be done from New York or Washington, they may well be squeezing out from those positions reporters who actually want to do the job. Harry Truman?s famous words, ?If you can?t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,? suggest wise advice to today?s journos in Baghdad: If you don?t have the guts actually to cover the war, stand aside for those who do.
Michael Fumento is a veteran of the 27th Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Airborne) and has been embedded three times in the western Iraqi region of Al Anbar. Read Michael Fumento's additional writing on the military, on Iraq, and on the media, and view his Spring 2006 Iraq photos from both the Fallujah area and Ramadi. View his 2005 Iraq photos.
Reply #29 on:
November 01, 2006, 07:02:40 AM »
Any thoughts on our strategy at this point for Iraq?
Here Ralph Peters weighs in:
LET'S FIGHT LIKE WE MEAN IT - & START BY KILLING OFF THIS LOWLIFE
By RALPH PETERS
October 26, 2006 -- IT WAS wrenching to listen to President Bush's news conference yesterday. He's struggling to do the right thing. But he's getting terrible advice.
He's still counting on a political solution in Iraq. Ain't going to happen. And you can take that to the blood bank.
Our famously loyal president has one grave flaw: He's a poor judge of character. He trusts the wrong people. Then he sticks by them.
Bush met Russia's Vladimir Putin, "looked into his soul" - and failed to recognize that the guy is an unreformed secret policeman. He stubbornly defends Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the Pentagon's architect of failure. Now he's standing up for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki - a man who has decided to back our enemies.
I lost faith in our engagement in Iraq last week. I can pinpoint the moment. It came when I heard that Maliki had demanded - successfully - that our military release a just-captured deputy of Muqtada al-Sadr who was running death squads.
As a former intelligence officer, that told me two things: First, Iraq's prime minister is betting on Muqtada to prevail, not us. Second, Muqtada, not the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, is now the most powerful man in Iraq.
At his news conference, Bush was asked about another statement made by Maliki just hours before. Our troops had conducted a raid in Sadr City, Muqtada's Baghdad stronghold. The Iraqi PM quickly declared that "this will not happen again." He was signaling his allegiance to Muqtada. Publicly.
Oh, Maliki realizes his government wouldn't last a week if our troops withdrew. He doesn't want us to leave yet. But he's looking ahead.
For now, Maliki and his pals are using our troops to buy time while they pocket our money, amass power and build up arms. But they've written us off for the long term.
Does that mean we should leave?
Not yet. Iraq deserves one last chance. But to make that chance even remotely viable, we'll have to take desperate measures. We need to fight. And accept the consequences.
The first thing we need to do is to kill Muqtada al-Sadr, who's now a greater threat to our strategic goals than Osama bin Laden.
We should've killed him in 2003, when he first embarked upon his murder campaign. But our leaders were afraid of provoking riots.
Back then, the tumult might've lasted a week. Now we'll face a serious uprising. So be it. When you put off paying war's price, you pay compound interest in blood.
We must kill - not capture - Muqtada, then kill every gunman who comes out in the streets to avenge him.
Our policy of all-carrots-no-sticks has failed miserably. We delivered Iraq to zealots, gangsters and terrorists. Now our only hope is to prove that we mean business - that the era of peace, love and wasting American lives is over.
And after we've killed Muqtada and destroyed his Mahdi Army, we need to go after the Sunni insurgents. If we can't leave a democracy behind, we should at least leave the corpses of our enemies.
The holier-than-thou response to this proposal is predictable: "We can't kill our way out of this situation!" Well, boo-hoo. Friendly persuasion and billions of dollars haven't done the job. Give therapeutic violence a chance.
Our soldiers and Marines are dying to protect a government whose members are scrambling to ally themselves with sectarian militias and insurgent factions. President Bush needs to face reality. The Maliki government is a failure.
There's still a chance, if a slight one, that we can achieve a few of our goals in Iraq - if we let our troops make war, not love. But if our own leaders are unwilling to fight, it's time to leave and let Iraqis fight each other.
Our president owes Iraq's treacherous prime minister nothing. Get tough, or get out.
Here's this from Stratfor:
U.S./IRAQ: U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld approved a proposal to increase the number of troops in Iraq and accelerate their training.
Last Edit: November 01, 2006, 07:20:57 AM by Crafty_Dog
Re: Iraq- U.S. Soldiers capture 15 terrorists, seize weapons
Reply #30 on:
November 01, 2006, 10:31:45 AM »
BAGHDAD ? Iraqi Army and U.S. troops captured 9 terrorists in Baghdad Oct. 26. Patrols from the 4th Iraqi Army Division, supported by Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division, conducted combat operations, captured 6 other terrorists and seized weapons in Tarmiya, north of Baghdad, at approximately 3:30 a.m. Oct. 26.
The IA Soldiers, along with Soldiers from 1st Bn., 66th AR, searched 60 houses and a mosque. The combined forces seized three AK-47 assault rifles & a home-made grenade. The IA Soldiers entered the mosque as the U.S. Soldiers cordoned the area.
One of the terrorists carried a cellular phone with video showing attacks on the Coalition Force and was carrying $1,850.
In a separate incident, Soldiers from the 172nd Stryker Brigade captured 3 terrorists in Mansour Oct. 26.
After the Soldiers were attacked by small-arms fire from 4 terrorists, they responded and engaged the terrorists. 3 were apprehended and one attacker escaped.
In a separate incident, patrols from 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Inf. Div., seized weapons in Halabsa Oct. 25 while conducting combat operations. The Troop C Soldiers searched 76 houses and seized a sniper rifle and 11 AK-47 assault rifles.
ONE TERRORIST KILLED, 10 OTHERS DETAINED
BAGHDAD, Iraq ? Coalition Forces killed a terrorist Saturday morning and detained an individual responsible for the movement of foreign fighters into Iraq during a raid south of Baghdad.
Saturday?s raid was part of an ongoing effort to diminish al-Qaeda in Iraq car bombing capabilities in the Baghdad area. So far in October, Coalition Forces have captured 8 other key players and 15 known associates. This has put a serious dent in al-Qaeda it Iraq.
During the raid, 8 insurgents attempted to flee the area and ground forces were able to safely capture them. Forces arrested 2 others without incident.
The targeted terrorist was disguised as a woman in an attempt to avoid being detained.
As the Coalition Forces were preparing to depart with the detainees, they received small arms fire from a terrorist and ground forces returned fire, killing the terrorist.
U.S. Soldiers in Baghdad Eliminate Death Squad
BAGHDAD ? U.S. Soldiers wounded 3 terrorists and killed 1 other involved in death squad activity Thursday in a Baghdad neighborhood.
While conducting security patrols in the area, Soldiers from 172nd Stryker Brigade heard small-arms fire near their location and noticed 3 men, one of whom was wearing a black ski mask, running away from a building toward a getaway car.
The Soldiers immediately engaged the trio, killing one and wounded another. The third terrorist made it to the getaway vehicle, which was occupied by two suspected terrorists. The vehicle sped off in an attempt to escape capture.
The U.S. Soldiers engaged the vehicle to disable it. The driver crashed into a residential gate and the vehicle came to a halt.
The U.S. troops moved to investigate the vehicle. They captured 2 wounded terrorists and one uninjured inside and seized two pipe bombs, two hand grenades, five AK-47s, 2 PKC assault rifles and a large amount of ammunition.
Upon further investigation of the building the 3 initial suspects had fled, the Soldiers discovered the bodies of two Iraqi citizens who had been murdered. The captured terrorists will be held to account for the murders against Iraqi citizens.
Iraqi forces disrupt murder, kidnapping cell operations; 11 insurgents captured
BAGHDAD ? Special Iraqi Police forces conducted an early morning raid Oct. 25 in the al Hillah area to capture members of a murder and kidnapping cell wanted by the Ministry of the Interior.
Iraqi forces, with Coalition advisers, arrived at the objective and gained entry to several locations where 11 members of the cell were found and captured.
IPs ambushed by insurgents, IPs and CF fight back
KHAN BANI SA?AD, Iraq ? On Thursday, an Iraqi police unit came under attack by an unknown number of terrorists in the vicinity of Khan Bani Sa?ad in Diyala Province. The police under fire fought back in intense house to house fighting.
An element from the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team was diverted from another mission and rapidly responded to reinforce the IPs in contact. The U.S. troopos engaged the terrorists immediately upon arrival.
The Iraqi and U.S. troops killed 18 terrorists, wound 8 and captured 27 more. Additionally, enemy weapons and ammunition were captured.
One Iraqi civilian and several Iraqi Police were killed in action. Seven IPs were wounded and transported to FOB Warhorse for medical treatment.
3 Insurgents Captured In Raid
BAGHDAD - Iraqi and U.S. forces entered an office of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Baghdad's eastern Rusafa district on Friday during a hunt for a kidnapped U.S. soldier, the U.S. military said. Three insurgents were arrested.
16 Insurgents Killed in 2 Separate Raids
BAGHDAD - A raid backed by U.S. air strikes killed 4 insurgents in Shi'ite Sadr City district of Baghdad, the government said, in an operation the U.S. military said was targeted at death squad members.
BAGHDAD - U.S. forces killed 12 people they said were insurgents preparing to plant a roadside bomb in the western city of Ramadi, the U.S. military said on Wednesday. It said the suspected insurgents were travelling in a car that was destroyed on Tuesday with "precision munitions".
U-S forces foil insurgent ambush in Iraq
BAGHDAD, Iraq The U-S military says 17 insurgents have been killed in Iraq in a series of air and ground attacks.
Armed with RPGs, machineguns and AK47?s, the terrorists were planning to ambush the troops. The plan did not succeed. U.S. trooops were injured during the attack.
During each of the engagements, secondary explosions were observed, indicating IEDs or other terrorist weaponry used by al-Qaeda to kill innocent Iraqis and Coalition Forces patrolling the roads.
U-S troops ran into the insurgent attacks twice near Baghdad where they were preparing to ambush an American column of vehicles.
The U.S. military says that U-S warplanes killed 3 insurgents in an initial attack and 14 more in a second attack. The enemy never fired a round. They were nearly wiped out. One insurgent may have escaped. The rest were killed.
Despite the terrorists? ambush attempts, U.S. troops successfully continued their operation and captured 3 terrorists a little further down the road. They were probably the observers for the terrorists. They were found with radios in their possession.
Iraqi forces raid illegal armed group; 1 insurgent killed
BAGHDAD ? Iraqi Army forces conducted an early morning raid Oct. 25 in Khalis in eastern Diyala Province to capture the leadership of an illegal armed group responsible for attacks against Iraqi forces.
Iraqi forces, with Coalition advisors, arrived at the objective and gained entry where they were met with small arms fire from a member of the illegal armed group. Iraqi forces returned fire and killed the group member.
Iraqi Army operations capture 71 death squad members and 244 al-Qaeda members; 23 terrorists killed
Iraqi-led operations have been successful in rooting out terrorists and finding weapons caches.
From Oct. 14 to 25, Iraqi Security Forces with Coalition support conducted 26 missions against death squads, resulting in the capture of 3 death-squad cell leaders and 68 death-squad members, he said. Also, from Oct. 12 to 25, about 70 operations against al-Qaida in Iraq resulted in 18 terrorists killed and 219 terrorists captured.
Iraqi Forces recently concluded an important operation, disrupting a terrorist operational hub near Baghdad. During Operation Commando Hunter, which began Oct. 2, they found more than 130 weapons caches, killed 15 terrorists, and captured 25 terrorists. They also seized the abandoned Yusufiyah thermal power plant, which was known to be a staging area for terrorist attacks.
Operation Commando Hunter was yet another example of Iraqi Forces rooting out foreign influences and creating their own bases from which to attack terrorists.
The rules posted on the wall of the U.S. Marine Corps base in Barwana concisely summed up its predicament in Iraq:
Be polite, be professional, have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
My Country needs me
Reply #31 on:
November 01, 2006, 12:05:39 PM »
An Iraqi voice unmentioned by our chattering class.
'My Country Needs Me'
Iraqi democrats haven't given up the fight. How can we?
BY HEATHER ROBINSON
Wednesday, November 1, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST
With the midterm elections fast approaching, the panic over Iraq seems more intense than ever. That country, the thinking goes, is a hopeless mess, and there could be a precipitous American withdrawal, especially if the Democrats win.
But doing so would leave the silent majority of Iraqis hostage to the most vicious extremists, abandoning those Iraqi leaders who have championed liberal democratic values. One of them is Mithal al-Alusi, a 53-year-old Sunni Arab who won a seat in parliament last December after having served as director general of the National Commission on de-Baathification. Mr. al-Alusi ran on a platform of religious pluralism, human rights, free markets and a free press. He calls for an alliance among democracies--including the U.S., Iraq, Israel and Turkey--to fight terrorism.
Not only does Mr. al-Alusi champion values many in the West hope will define the new Iraq, he has risked his life--and lost more than his life--for the cause. In September 2004 he attended a counterterrorism conference in Herzliya, Israel; after which insurgents threatened his family. The following February assassins opened fire on Mr. al-Alusi's car as it approached his Baghdad home. He wasn't in the vehicle, but his sons, 30-year-old Ayman and 22-year-old Gamal, were. Both were killed as their father watched. Still, Mr. al-Alusi was unbowed. "Even if these terrorists try to kill me again, peace is the only solution," he told reporters minutes after the attack. "Peace with Israel is the only solution for Iraq. Peace with everybody, but no peace for the terrorists." He continued to build his Iraqi Nation Party, which his fallen sons had helped establish, and which now has 15,000 members.
He describes his views less in ideological terms than in human ones. "An Iraqi mother, she has the right to have normal feelings for her baby. It's the same for an Israeli mother," he told me in a phone interview from Baghdad. "This is the best way to drive the world's politics. Not to make it complicated."
Mr. al-Alusi is not the only Iraqi political leader to reject ethnic and sectarian separatism. Hajim al-Hasani, a former parliament speaker, testified at a September congressional hearing. When Rep. Christopher Shays referred to him as a Sunni, Mr. al-Hasani politely corrected the congressman: "I am Iraqi." Afterwards, Mr. al-Hasani told me it is a misconception to view the violence in Iraq as the expression of popular will: "The few bad apples can rotten the rest of the apples if nobody stops them." Many of those "bad apples" aren't even grown in Iraq. Following Saddam Hussein's fall, foreign jihadists such as the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi rushed to join former Baathists in an effort to undermine the fledgling democracy. And Mr. al-Alusi told me that "Iran is fully involved in terrorist activity in Iraq." He believes Tehran is playing both sides, backing Sunni terrorists as well as Shiite ones.
Polls suggest a majority of Americans think it was a mistake to enter Iraq. Mr. al-Alusi respectfully disagrees. "We didn't have any kind of hope, and now, even with all our difficulty, we have hope." Iraq today is a central front in a war against extremists who view the murder of civilians as political expression. "I will be killed--if not today, tomorrow," Mr. al-Alusi says. "The point is not me, but children--for a child to be a child, not a killer; for a teenager to be a teenager, not an extremist."
Mithal al-Alusi could have left Iraq for a comfortable life in exile; Mr. Shays, a friend, offered to help him relocate to the U.S. But he said no: "My country needs me."
He has not given up the fight. How can we?
Ms. Robinson is an independent journalist.
Reply #32 on:
November 02, 2006, 10:37:35 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Washington vs. the Iraqi Shia?
Reuters reported Wednesday that Iraqi Shiite leaders are increasingly becoming critical of what they see as an alignment between the country's Sunni minority and the United States. The report cited several Shiite sources saying that Washington wants the Shiite militias disbanded, so that Iran will not be able to use them in a potential U.S-Iranian conflict.
We predicted in our fourth-quarter forecast that Iran might instigate militant attacks by the Iraqi Shia against U.S. troops. Recent political developments appear to be setting the stage for just such a scenario.
Washington has a lot riding on Iraq, and needs to show that it can steer the country out of its current pandemonium and toward some minimum semblance of security and stability. As recently as January, the main obstacles in the way of that goal were Sunni nationalist insurgents and al Qaeda-led transnational (Sunni) jihadists. Then came the destruction of the Shiite al-Askariyah shrine in As Samarra by suspected jihadist militants, which led to reprisals by Shiite "death squads" against Sunnis.
The anti-Sunni violence and the Shiite-Kurdish push toward federalism brought the Sunnis and the United States closer together. The Sunnis needed U.S. support to counter the political and military aggressiveness of the Shia; the Americans needed to contain the Sunni insurgency and find a way to blunt Iran's influence in Iraq. Washington made disbanding Shiite militias a top priority -- bringing it on par with the need to contain the Sunni insurgents, and perhaps even a notch higher.
All of this was bound to irritate the Shia -- which would explain the events of the past two weeks.
Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, chief of the largest Shiite political group the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), has been aggressively calling for the creation of an autonomous Shiite federal zone composed of nine southern Iraq governorates, but U.S. President George W. Bush came out strongly against the idea Oct. 18. Meanwhile, Washington, under pressure on the domestic front, continued to press the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to disband the Shiite militias and to agree to a timetable for a U.S. troop drawdown.
Al-Maliki said in an interview published in USA Today that his government will not force militias to disarm until later this year or early next year. He also criticized a U.S. raid against a Mehdi Army stronghold in the capital -- saying he had not been consulted on the operation -- and slammed the top U.S. military and diplomatic representatives in Iraq for calling for a timetable to curb violence. On Tuesday, he ordered U.S. military checkpoints removed from Sadr City and other parts of Baghdad.
Ahmed Chalabi on Monday criticized secret talks between Sunni insurgents and U.S. officials. Chalabi -- a controversial Shiite politician who once enjoyed strong ties with the Pentagon and remains close to Tehran -- urged the United States to open talks with Iran, saying it is the only way out of the current problems.
What we have here is a conflict in the making between the United States and the Iraqi Shia. Iraqi Sunnis and the governments of other Arab states don't want to see the departure of U.S. troops from Iraq; Iran, meanwhile, has begun the mantra that the occupation must end. Given the current circumstances, Iraqi Shia agitating for a U.S. withdrawal does not seem to be beyond the pale.
The Town that Bled - Dujail, Iraq
Reply #33 on:
November 02, 2006, 11:01:07 AM »
I think the Saddam Hussein (Hanging) verdict will come down soon. IMO people should become familiar with the alleged facts before it gets tossed around as an American or Republican political stunt. Like the OJ trial, people think the Saddam trial story was about antics. The trial was about a gruesome massacre. The question is whether what is alleged is true and whether this massacre was ordered by Saddam. My understanding is that this crime was chosen for trial because easily proven facts. The actual, original order and documents were discovered because of the American-led liberation of Iraq. Supporting that guilty view is the behavior of the defense, arguing everything except the facts of the case. I posted an alleged first hand account with gruesome detail on OP (RIP) awhile back, now lost. Here is a version from the NY Times from last year:
A Town That Bled Under Hussein Hails His Trial
By JOHN F. BURNS
Published: July 3, 2005
DUJAIL, Iraq - The scars of what happened after an assassination attempt on Saddam Hussein, on July 8, 1982, are painfully evident in this mainly Shiite town 35 miles north of Baghdad.
People lower their voices when they speak of fathers, brothers and sons who went to the gallows, their fates unknown until Mr. Hussein's overthrow 21 years later set off the ransacking of a secret police headquarters in Baghdad that uncovered records of the executions. The landscape around Dujail is mostly barren scrubland, stark testament to the bulldozing of thousands of acres of date palms and fruit orchards after plotters fired on Mr. Hussein's convoy from thickets on the edge of town.
Now, the events at Dujail have come full cycle for Mr. Hussein.
Officials at the Iraqi Special Tribunal set up to try the former dictator and his top aides have said they expect to put him on trial by the end of the year in the deaths of nearly 160 men and boys from Dujail, all Shiites, some in their early teens. Some were shot dead in the immediate aftermath of the assassination attempt, but 143 - 9 of them ages 13 through 15 - were executed three years later by Mr. Hussein's revolutionary court. Townspeople say that many others remain missing - at least 200, by some counts - and that they hope the trial will reveal at least something of their fate.
For now, their families have only fading photographs of their lost menfolk at weddings, school graduations and summer outings, and tales of the moments they disappeared, seized on the streets or pulled from their homes by secret police squads that descended on Dujail in the days that followed the attack on Mr. Hussein.
Along the sun-blasted streets and alleyways of the town, a nondescript, impoverished sprawl of single- and double-storied concrete structures and makeshift, domeless mosques beside the main highway to Iraq's oil-rich north, the prospect of seeing Mr. Hussein, 68, facing a possible death sentence has brought relief - at least to the three-quarters of the population who are Shiites, though not to many in the Sunni Arab minority in the town, where there are still fierce loyalties to Mr. Hussein.
"Having Saddam on trial for what he did here will be good for Dujail, and for all of Iraq, because many people in this country, and in Dujail, still think of him as some kind of a god," said Ali Haj Hussein, a 37-year-old Shiite who lost seven brothers in the executions that followed the assassination attempt, including one, Hussein, 19, who confessed to his father before he died that he was one of those who had shot at the Iraqi ruler.
The visit to Dujail amounted to a venture into enemy territory for Saddam Hussein. In 1982, he was in his third year as president, still consolidating his power, and many in this town, with a population of about 75,000, despised him for starting a war with Iran, Iraq's Shiite neighbor, two years earlier. Shiites here say that Mr. Hussein had long distrusted the presence of a large Shiite enclave, including Dujail and the nearby town of Balad, deep inside Iraq's Sunni Arab heartland - and beside the main highway from Baghdad to Tikrit, Mr. Hussein's hometown.
A conservative Shiite religious party, Dawa, with an armed wing that had mounted terrorist attacks against Mr. Hussein's government, had strong support in Dujail, and saw in his visit a chance to avenge the government's killings of hundreds of Dawa leaders and sympathizers. The plotters named the mission Operation Bint Huda, after the sister of Dawa's founder, Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Sadr, a prominent Shiite cleric. The two were executed in 1980.
Other crimes for which Mr. Hussein is likely to face eventual prosecution, in separate trials, include the Anfal campaign - the Arabic word means spoils - of the late 1980's, in which as many as 150,000 Kurds were killed, many shot and dumped into mass graves, others killed in poison-gas attacks; the chemical weapons attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja in March 1988 that killed about 5,000, which is likely to be treated as a separate case, like Dujail; and the repression of a Shiite rebellion in southern Iraq in 1991, in which 150,000 people are believed to have been killed. Also under investigation by the tribunal are the executions of more than 200 Baath Party leaders after Mr. Hussein seized power in 1979.
But the Dujail trial will set the pattern for the others, and lawyers for Mr. Hussein have made it clear they plan to use every legal recourse to expose the proceedings as a show trial, manipulated by the American lawyers who run the Regime Crimes Liaison Office, an American Embassy agency that has been the legal and financial mainstay of the tribunal.
On the summer afternoon 23 years ago when Mr. Hussein came to Dujail, he was greeted with gunfire from the palm groves on the north side of town, survivors say. The first to rush to the streets were the youths; they had heard rumors for days that something important was about to happen. Army helicopters had been circling near the town, and official vehicles from Baghdad had been coming and going from the Baath Party headquarters in a grim, guarded compound along the road leading into Dujail from the main north-south highway.
"It was about 2:30 p.m. when we heard people saying that Saddam had arrived, so we ran into the streets to see him, and right away his bodyguards started shooting at us, and they killed three of my friends," said Ghalib Hussein Abbas, a 42-year-old tractor driver now, then an unemployed youth of 19.
Fleeing to their homes, the townspeople saw the helicopters return, firing at villages amid the palm groves from which the plotters had attacked.
Two days later, survivors said, a 24-hour curfew was eased when loudspeakers announced that those missing relatives should go to the Baath headquarters and search among rows of bodies laid out in the building's forecourt. For some, it was a trap. According to witnesses' statements to the tribunal, four of the men set to go on trial with Mr. Hussein had gathered at the building to direct vengeance on the town: his half-brother, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, deputy head of the Mukhabarat secret police in 1982; Taha Yasin Ramadan, a deputy prime minister and later Baath Party vice chairman; and the two local Baathist officials, Abdullah al-Musheikhi and his son, Mizher al-Musheikhi. Another defendant will be Awad Hamad al-Bandr al-Sadoon, former chief judge of the revolutionary court.
In small groups at first, then in larger roundups, about 1,500 townspeople were arrested, as many as 30 from single families, and started on a journey into Mr. Hussein's gulags - first at a detention center in Tikrit, later at a secret police detention center in Baghdad, and finally, to the Nugra as-Salman prison, an old British-built fort in the desert along the Saudi Arabian border. Some survivors, who were released in 1986, say that the appalling conditions at the prison caused several dozen deaths, including women, children and nursing infants. The 143 who were hanged never got beyond detention in Baghdad, where Mr. Sadoon, the chief of the revolutionary court, sent them to the execution chambers at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad.
Accounts from local Shiites say Mr. Hussein outwitted the Dujail plotters from the start. On his entry to the town, those accounts say, tribal leaders made him a gift of a car, and marked it, in tribal tradition, with hands dipped in the blood of slaughtered sheep. Mr. Hussein, though, Shiites in Dujail say, saw the gift as a possible harbinger of assassination and returned the car, insisting that the tribal leaders and some of his aides travel in it - to their deaths, as the accounts have it, when the plotters fired on the car.
A few hours after the shooting, Mr. Hussein took to the flat roof of the town's main clinic and told a crowd that he was "not a coward who can be chased from your town," but assured his listeners there would be no reprisals. "He told us that the people who had attempted to kill him were a small band of traitors, and that we don't want to confuse them with the good people of Dujail," said Kassem Aalbuhaider, a shopkeeper now, then only 12.
But even as Mr. Hussein spoke, Mr. Aalbuhaider said, the secret police were at work. "They took whole families, even old people, women and small children," he said.
Within weeks, the razing of the palm groves and the orchards began, continuing until more than 250,000 acres had been bulldozed. In 1992, after the first Persian Gulf war, Mr. Hussein returned to Dujail for the first time, and told tribal leaders that the wastelands could be replanted, with grain crops, but not with palms and orchards. But it took 12 more years, and the overthrow of Mr. Hussein, before the town could begin in other ways to recover from what townspeople now refer to simply as "al karitha," the disaster.
Now, the plinths where Mr. Hussein's statues and portraits once stood at the town's major intersections are bare, and the streets are hung with portraits of the white-bearded clerics who are the icons of religious Shiites. The Baath Party headquarters serves now as a Shiite mosque. But the totems that seem to matter most are the date palms that some townspeople began planting discreetly in the mid-1990's as memorials to those who died.
On a recent evening, Mr. Hussein, the townsman who lost seven brothers to the gallows, led a visitor to the family's fields outside the town and through a grove of half-grown palms dedicated to them: Faleh, Hussein, Mahmud, Mohsen, Muhammad, Saad and Salim. "Here, I feel like a king," he said, smiling broadly as he reached out to touch the palm trees' drooping fronds. "Like these trees, Iraq is reborn. We are just at the beginning, but once Saddam has been tried and executed, we believe Dujail will begin to rise again."
Reply #34 on:
November 02, 2006, 11:05:11 AM »
FROM WND'S JERUSALEM BUREAU
Mideast terror leaders
to U.S.: Vote Democrat
Withdrawal from Iraq would embolden
jihadists to destroy Israel, America
Posted: November 2, 2006
9:27 a.m. Eastern
By Aaron Klein
? 2006 WorldNetDaily.com
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.
JERUSALEM ? Everybody has an opinion about next Tuesday's midterm congressional election in the U.S. ? including senior terrorist leaders interviewed by WND who say they hope Americans sweep the Democrats into power because of the party's position on withdrawing from Iraq, a move, as they see it, that ensures victory for the worldwide Islamic resistance.
The terrorists told WorldNetDaily an electoral win for the Democrats would prove to them Americans are "tired."
They rejected statements from some prominent Democrats in the U.S. that a withdrawal from Iraq would end the insurgency, explaining an evacuation would prove resistance works and would compel jihadists to continue fighting until America is destroyed.
They said a withdrawal would also embolden their own terror groups to enhance "resistance" against Israel.
"Of course Americans should vote Democrat," Jihad Jaara, a senior member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group and the infamous leader of the 2002 siege of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, told WND.
(Story continues below)
"This is why American Muslims will support the Democrats, because there is an atmosphere in America that encourages those who want to withdraw from Iraq. It is time that the American people support those who want to take them out of this Iraqi mud," said Jaara, speaking to WND from exile in Ireland, where he was sent as part of an internationally brokered deal that ended the church siege.
Jaara was the chief in Bethlehem of the Brigades, the declared "military wing" of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party.
Together with the Islamic Jihad terror group, the Brigades has taken responsibility for every suicide bombing inside Israel the past two years, including an attack in Tel Aviv in April that killed American teenager Daniel Wultz and nine Israelis.
Muhammad Saadi, a senior leader of Islamic Jihad in the northern West Bank town of Jenin, said the Democrats' talk of withdrawal from Iraq makes him feel "proud."
"As Arabs and Muslims we feel proud of this talk," he told WND. "Very proud from the great successes of the Iraqi resistance. This success that brought the big superpower of the world to discuss a possible withdrawal."
Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas' military wing in the Gaza Strip, said the policy of withdrawal "proves the strategy of the resistance is the right strategy against the occupation."
"We warned the Americans that this will be their end in Iraq," said Abu Abdullah, considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas' Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas' declared "resistance" department. "They did not succeed in stealing Iraq's oil, at least not at a level that covers their huge expenses. They did not bring stability. Their agents in the [Iraqi] regime seem to have no chance to survive if the Americans withdraw."
Abu Ayman, an Islamic Jihad leader in Jenin, said he is "emboldened" by those in America who compare the war in Iraq to Vietnam.
"[The mujahedeen fighters] brought the Americans to speak for the first time seriously and sincerely that Iraq is becoming a new Vietnam and that they should fix a schedule for their withdrawal from Iraq," boasted Abu Ayman.
The terror leaders spoke as the debate regarding the future of America's war in Iraq has perhaps become the central theme of midterm elections, with most Democrats urging a timetable for withdrawal and Republicans mostly advocating staying the course in Iraq.
President Bush has even said he would send more troops if Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Baghdad, said they are needed to stabilize the region
The debate became especially poignant following remarks by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the 2004 presidential candidate who voted in support of the war in Iraq. Earlier this week he intimated American troops are uneducated, and it is the uneducated who "get stuck in Iraq."
Kerry, under intense pressure from fellow Democrats, now says his remarks were a "botched joke."
Terror leaders reject Nancy Pelosi's comments on Iraqi insurgency
Many Democratic politicians and some from the Republican Party have stated a withdrawal from Iraq would end the insurgency there.
In a recent interview with CBS's "60 Minutes," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, stated, "The jihadists (are) in Iraq. But that doesn't mean we stay there. They'll stay there as long as we're there."
Pelosi would become House speaker if the Democrats win the majority of seats in next week's elections.
WND read Pelosi's remarks to the terror leaders, who unanimously rejected her contention an American withdrawal would end the insurgency.
Islamic Jihad's Saadi, laughing, stated, "There is no chance that the resistance will stop."
He said an American withdrawal from Iraq would "prove the resistance is the most important tool and that this tool works. The victory of the Iraqi revolution will mark an important step in the history of the region and in the attitude regarding the United States."
Jihad Jaara said an American withdrawal would "mark the beginning of the collapse of this tyrant empire (America)."
"Therefore, a victory in Iraq would be a greater defeat for America than in Vietnam."
Jaara said vacating Iraq would also "reinforce Palestinian resistance organizations, especially from the moral point of view. But we also learn from these (insurgency) movements militarily. We look and learn from them."
Hamas' Abu Abdullah argued a withdrawal from Iraq would "convince those among the Palestinians who still have doubts in the efficiency of the resistance."
"The victory of the resistance in Iraq would prove once more that when the will and the faith are applied victory is not only a slogan. We saw that in Lebanon (during Israel's confrontation against Hezbollah there in July and August); we saw it in Gaza (after Israel withdrew from the territory last summer) and we will see it everywhere there is occupation," Abdullah said.
While the terror leaders each independently compelled American citizens to vote for Democratic candidates, not all believed the Democrats would actually carry out a withdrawal from Iraq.
Saadi stated, "Unfortunately I think those who are speaking about a withdrawal will not do so when they are in power and these promises will remain electoral slogans. It is not enough to withdraw from Iraq. They must withdraw from Afghanistan and from every Arab and Muslim land they occupy or have bases."
He called both Democrats and Republicans "agents of the Zionist lobby in the U.S."
Abu Abdullah commented once Democrats are in power "the question is whether such a courageous leadership can [withdraw]. I am afraid that even after the American people will elect those who promise to leave Iraq, the U.S. will not do so. I tell the American people vote for withdrawal. Abandon Israel if you want to save America. Now will this Happen? I do not believe it."
Still Jihad Jaara said the alternative is better than Bush's party.
"Bush is a sick person, an alcoholic person that has no control of what is going on around him. He calls to send more troops but will very soon get to the conviction that the violence and terror that his war machine is using in Iraq will never impose policies and political regimes in the Arab world."
For Those Who Have No Militia
Reply #35 on:
November 02, 2006, 05:39:05 PM »
Rushing for the Exit
If we leave Iraq, what happens to the supporters of democracy?
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Oct. 30, 2006, at 6:14 PM ET
To say that "exit strategies" from Iraq have become the flavor of the month would be to exaggerate the situation to the point of absurdity. Exit strategies are not even the fall fashion. They are the regnant topic of conversation all across the political establishment and have been for some time. Even the Bush administration has some share in this discourse, having now abandoned the useless mantra of "staying the course" without quite defining what that "course" might be?or might have been. (A rule of thumb in politics is that any metaphor drawn from sporting activity is worse than useless, but at least one doesn't hear people saying that in Iraq we are "at the bottom of the ninth" or some such horse manure.)
Many of those advocating withdrawal have been "war-weary" ever since the midafternoon of Sept. 11, 2001, when it was discovered that the source of jihadist violence was U.S. foreign policy?a mentality now reinforced by the recent National Intelligence Estimate circulated by our emasculated, demoralized, and incompetent intelligence services. To this way of thinking, victory is impossible by definition, because any response other than restraint is bound to inflame the militancy of the other side. Since the jihadists, by every available account, are also inflamed and encouraged by everything from passivity to Danish cartoons, this seems to shrink the arena of possible or even thinkable combat. (Nobody ever asks what would happen if the jihadists had to start worrying about the level of casualties they were enduring, or the credit they were losing by their tactics, or the number of enemies they were making among civilized people who were prepared to take up arms to stop them. Our own masochism makes this contingency an unlikely one in any case.)
I am glad that all previous demands for withdrawal or disengagement from Iraq were unheeded, because otherwise we would not be able to celebrate the arrest and trial of Saddam Hussein; the removal from the planet of his two sadistic kids and putative successors; the certified disarmament of a former WMD- and gangster-sponsoring rogue state; the recuperation of the marshes and their ecology and society; the introduction of a convertible currency; the autonomy of Iraqi Kurdistan (currently advertising for investors and tourists on American television); the killing of al-Qaida's most dangerous and wicked leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and many of his associates; the opening of dozens of newspapers and radio and TV stations; the holding of elections for an assembly and to approve a constitution; and the introduction of the idea of federal democracy as the only solution for Iraq short of outright partition and/or civil war. If this cause is now to be considered defeated, by the sheer staggering persistence in murder and sabotage of the clerico-fascist forces and the sectarian militias, then it will always count as a noble one.
But the many disappointments and crimes and blunders (the saddest of which is the utter failure to influence Iran, and the corresponding advantage taken by Tehran-backed militias) do not relieve us of a responsibility that is either insufficiently stressed or else passed over entirely: What is to become, in the event of a withdrawal, of the many Arab and Kurdish Iraqis who do want to live in a secular and democratic and federal country? We have acquired this responsibility not since 2003, or in the sideshow debate over prewar propaganda, but over decades of intervention in Iraq's affairs, starting with the 1968 Baathist coup endorsed by the CIA, stretching through Jimmy Carter's unforgivable permission for Saddam Hussein to invade Iran, continuing through the decades of genocide in Kurdistan and the uneasy compromise that ended the Kuwait war, and extending through 12 years of sanctions and half-measures, including the "no-fly" zones and the Iraq Liberation Act, which passed the Senate without a dissenting vote. It is not a responsibility from which we can walk away when, or if, it seems to suit us.
Some time ago, I wrote rather offhandedly that the coalition forces in Iraq act as the defensive militia for those who have no militia. I get e-mails from civilians and soldiers in that country, as well as from its growing number of exiles, and this little remark generated more traffic than I have had in a while. Just look at the report in the Oct. 30 New York Times about the kidnapping of an Iraqi-American Army interpreter in the (still) relatively civilized Baghdad neighborhood of Karada. A few days earlier, according to the residents who tried with bare hands to stop the abduction, the same gang had been whipping teenage boys with cables for the crime of wearing shorts. (It is always useful to know what is on the minds of the pious.) A Sunday Washington Post headline referred to the "tipping point" in the erosion of congressional support for the Iraq intervention. Well, the "tipping point" between the grim status quo in Karada and its full-scale Talibanization is rather more acute. And does anyone want to argue that a Talibanized Iraq would not require our attention down the road if we left it behind us?
There are many different plans to reconfigure forces within Iraq and to accommodate, in one way or another, its increasingly tribal and sectarian politics. (Former Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith's suggestion, arising from his admirable book The End of Iraq, involves a redeployment to the successful and peaceful north, with the ability to answer requests for assistance from the central government and the right to confront al-Qaida forces without notice.) But all demands for an evacuation are based on the fantasy that there is a distinction between "over there" and "over here." In a world-scale confrontation with jihadism, this distinction is idle and false. It also involves callously forgetting the people who would be the first victims but who would not by any means be the last ones.
Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His most recent book is Thomas Jefferson: Author of America.
Re: Rushing for the Exit
Reply #36 on:
November 02, 2006, 07:23:52 PM »
A stirring piece no doubt, but what are we to make of this post from another forum, the general tenor of which is QUITE clear that Islamofascism is a clear and present danger?
I figured this was as good a place to post my take on a couple of recent conversations as any. I had two friends come back from Iraq in the last month. One is a Gunnery Sergeant and the other a First Sergeant. I know both of them well and deployed with them twice before myself.
Their opinion is that Iraq is as bad or worse than it's ever been. Apparently, it's not quite as dangerous on the Syrian border, but much more so near Baghdad. So, things sort of even out. The only bright spot seems to be the availability of electricity, but it's something of a bitter pill to swallow given the price.
Both of them are at least as conservative as your average Republican. Both of them said that they'd vote for the first person who promised to get us out as soon as possible. Specifically, "Good men are dying over there for no reason. It's ridiculous." Honestly, I would blame this on their basic frustration, not having thought through the consequenses. But, they were adamant.
In one anecdote, one of their troops is being prosecuted for killing an Iraqi. The kid was a .50 BMG gunner on a truck in a convoy. A vehicle ahead of the convoy was swerving back and forth across lanes in front of them, impeding the them. He was ordered by the Staff Sergeant in charge of the truck to fire a burst into the ground next to the car after all of the requisite warning steps had been taken. He did so. The rounds ricochetted off of the ground and killed the driver. After a short investigation, the Lieutenant in charge of the JAG investigation chose to press charges for negligent homicide. The Lance Corporal hasn't been told what the future holds for him. The command won't tell him what they plan to do. He's just in limbo. He just got back from the deployment a few weeks ago, and apparently they'll let him know if they are going to arrest him. I wouldn't be shocked if he killed himself.
When asked about his experience with Iraqi military units and their competency (the key to us leaving is their ability to run the place), the First Sergeant's answer was simple: "Who, the insurgents?" It seems that they run patrols or operations with the Iraqi Army guys one day, and arrest them the next day planting bombs next to the road. "They are using our weapons and technology to kill us."
The next gem was the incarceration system. As has been since I was there two years ago, if you can't make a Johnny Cochoran proof case against an arrested insurgent within 14 days, he's released - with $6 dollars a day of compensation (not bad pay in that part of the world). A good number of the guys they arrest have made the trip three or four times. I cringed when I heard this because it was the same story we ran into in 2004. My simple answer was to kill anyone that the ROE allowed for. There would be more than enough opportunity to interrogate people who we couldn't legally kill. However, guys are still taking chances capturing people who could simply and legally be killed in the field. Ugh.
Since the three of us come from an intel background (though both of their recent deployments have been in different types of units than we'd previously been assigned), I asked them about their take on the intel side of the war. As expected, it's essentially worthless. None of the meaningful intelligence analysis is being passed to the field. The commanders might have fabulously colorful PowerPoint briefings of the situation, but the people who are actually being shot at know nearly nothing.
This dilema was the source of a fight I'd had with my S-2 years ago when we tried to digest the intelligence doctrine. He was convinced that Intel drove Ops, and that if it'd never been done right before, by God he'd be an example of how it should work. I tried to explain to him that basic human nature would thwart him. Essentially, Intel guys are some of the biggest geeks in the Marine Corps. The units in the field are the business end of one of the most dangerous military forces on earth. There is no way that the combat leader of the uberwarrior society is going to have the biggest geek in the organization tell him what to do and when to do it. I was put in my place, but I was proven right. And, nothing has changed.
I hesitate to write this because there seem to be only two options in regards to opinions on the war: Support Bush the Second's plan, or cheer for the muslims. I'm here to tell anyone who is not clear on the issue that there are at least a couple of other realities. I have my opinion about what is actually going on over there, and what we ought to do about it. But, I hope everyone is ready to start digesting a fairly stout anti-Bush sentiment from seriously pro-American vets who are growing in number everyday.
For me, there seems nothing left to do on the matter other than to grieve for our guys who are wasting their time jeopardizing their lives so that a bunch of savages can have the right to vote to kill off the next smallest tribe.
Reply #37 on:
November 03, 2006, 12:46:12 AM »
It boils down to one of three scenarios for us:
1. Submit to the global jihad.
2. Remake the muslim world into something compatible with the rest of humanity.
3. Make the muslim world look like something out of the post-apocalypic scenes in the "Terminator" movies.
Act now, or let our children curse us for our weakness. By the time they are adults, France will be the next nuclear islamist state. Now is the time when we have the best advantage. As time goes on, the less advantage we will have.
Reply #38 on:
November 03, 2006, 08:56:17 AM »
Believe me, I understand. That said, I am reminded of what my father used to say when big plans we announced: "What do we do Monday morning at 0900?"
For example, what do we do specifically about the problem raised by this Stratfor piece?
Geopolitical Diary: Iraq Without Bechtel
Bechtel Corp., a global engineering firm, announced Thursday that it is wrapping up its work in Iraq and not seeking any further contracts (its last contract expired last week). According to Cliff Mumm, who heads up Bechtel's infrastructure projects, the security situation in Iraq has deteriorated to the point where continuing is not possible. Bechtel's decision follows the decision by Kroll Security International to sell or abandon -- it was not clear which from media reports -- its operations in Iraq following the loss of some of its personnel.
When companies like Bechtel and Kroll begin to withdraw from Iraq, the situation has clearly reached a new level of instability. These firms are used to working in unstable environments, and security threats are simply a part of the business they are in. When they have to start calculating that the threat is greater than the potential profit, the situation is indeed serious.
There is a deeper aspect to this. The U.S. Army was designed, during the 1990s, to be a force that was dependent on the private sector to operate. Put another way, the standing Army was not designed to go into combat without integrating Reserve and National Guard components and without outsourcing support services to the private sector. It was not an Army that could undertake combat operations without this support.
During the 1990s, it appeared to some that the world had reached a new level of stability, and that economics had replaced geopolitics. The assumption was that there would not be extended combat. It made sense to depend on the Reserves and the National Guard for additional manpower during short combat situations, and to use contractors to provide many of the services that the military had provided for itself in the past.
The force structure was not designed for multi-year, multi-divisional combat. The Reserve and National Guard components were not expected to sustain the regular force for years. And the contractors did not expect to have to operate in a world of extreme risk.
The combat capability of the U.S. Army is therefore breaking in two ways. First, its manpower base is being exhausted through multiple deployments. Second, it is now going to find that the contracting support it relies on won't be there if the security risk becomes too extreme. Unlike combat support drawn from the ranks of the military, the contractors can't be ordered and expected to carry out their duties in high threat circumstances. But the Army is not built to operate without them.
The decision to outsource key support functions made sense in the 1990s. It shifted the cost of standby capabilities to private companies, and allowed the military to focus on its core mission. In the course of the Iraq war, the challenges have gone beyond feeding the troops to include rebuilding infrastructure, providing security to the firms doing the rebuilding, and so on. The Army could not provide security to engineering companies, so private companies like Blackwater were bought in. As the situation developed, the dependency on these contractors expanded, until the war effort -- understood in the broad sense of nation-building -- became enormously dependent on these contractors.
But they have a different appetite for risk than the military. They are free to leave, and they are leaving. It is unlikely that a decision reached by Bechtel and Kroll is so unique that others won't follow. They will. And that now poses a new problem for the U.S. effort: It does not have the military capability of filling in for the contractors. There are just not the numbers or skills. That means that if the security situation worsens, we will see a spiral in which contractors withdraw, the security situation further deteriorates and more contractors withdraw.
Given the structure of the force that has been fielded, the level of deployment cannot be controlled by the Department of Defense. When you depend on contractors looking to make money, a lot of them will bail when the risks get too great. Defense planners in the 1990s did not count on this scenario, when the enablers of the Army decide to leave the theater of operations. But it seems that that is what is happening.
Assumptions and the Big Picture
Reply #39 on:
November 03, 2006, 03:53:37 PM »
As I mull a response to the questions Crafty has been posing this piece provides the perspective VHD is so adroit with. Indeed, as I reflect back on various American conflicts I've studied I can't think of one that didn't have its "oh my god there are no good options so we are doomed" moments. Be it global warming, the war in Iraq, or hurricaine relief, the doomsayers all tend to look for the narrowest slice of data that allows them to continue to thrum their chest. The big picture, however, usually contains its share of glimmers.
The assumptions of a forgetful chattering class are badly off the mark.
By Victor Davis Hanson
What is written about Iraq now is exclusively acrimonious. The narrative is the suicide bomber and IED, never how many terrorists we have killed, how many Iraqis have been given a chance for something different than the old nightmare, or how a consensual government has withstood enemies on nearly every front.
Long forgotten is the inspired campaign that removed a vicious dictator in three weeks. Nor is much credit given to the idealistic efforts to foster democracy rather than just ignoring the chaos that follows war ? as we did after the Soviets were defeated in Afghanistan, or following our precipitous departure from Lebanon and Somalia. And we do not appreciate anymore that Syria was forced to vacate Lebanon; that Libya gave up its WMD arsenal; that Pakistan came clean about Dr. Khan; and that there have been the faint beginnings of local elections in the Gulf monarchies.
Yes, the Middle East is ?unstable,? but for the first time in memory, the usual killing, genocide, and terrorism are occurring in a scenario that offers some chance at something better. Long before we arrived in Iraq, the Assads were murdering thousands in Hama, the Husseins were gassing Kurds, and the Lebanese militias were murdering civilians. The violence is not what has changed, but rather the notion that the United States can do nothing about it; the U.S. has shown itself willing to risk much to support freedom in place of tyranny or theocracy in the region.
Instead of recalling any of this, Iraq is seen only in the hindsight of who did what wrong and when. All the great good we accomplished and the high ideals we embraced are drowned out by the present violent insurgency and the sensationalized effort to turn the mayhem into an American Antietam or Yalu River. Blame is never allotted to al Qaeda, the Sadr thugs, or the ex-Baathists, only to the United States, who should have, could have, or would have done better in stopping them, had its leadership read a particular article, fired a certain person, listened to an exceptional general, or studied a key position paper.
We also forget that Iraq, contrary to popular slander, was not ?cooked up? in Texas or at a Washington, D.C., neocon think tank. Rather, it was a reaction to two events: a decade of appeasement of Middle East tyrants and terrorists, and the disaster of September 11. If one were to go back and read the most popular accounts of the first Gulf War, The Generals? War by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor of Cobra II fame, or Rick Atkinson?s Crusade, or research the bi-partisan arguments that raged across the opinion pages in the 1990s following the defeat and survival of Saddam Hussein, certain themes reappear constantly that surely help to explain our current presence inside Iraq.
One was shared regret that Saddam was left in power in 1991. No sooner had the war ended than George Bush Sr. appeared, not joyous in our success, but melancholy, and then distraught, once images of the butchered and refugees beamed back from our ?victory? in Iraq. Culpability for thousands of dead Shiites and Kurds, the need for no-fly zones, and worry about reconstituted WMD were the charges then leveled.
The heroes? A troubled former Pentagon official Paul Wolfowitz (read The Generals? War) who almost alone felt tactical success had not translated into strategic victory, and that we were profoundly amoral to have let a mass murderer remain in power, while thousands of brave revolutionaries were butchered just a few miles away from our forces.
We praise the first Gulf War now. Yet, almost immediately in its aftermath, critics accused us of overkill, of using too many soldiers to blast too many poor Iraqis. The charge then was not that we had too few troops, but too many; not that the Pentagon had understated the need for troops, but overstated and sent too many; not that we had too few allies, but an unwieldy coalition that hampered American options; not that the effort was too costly, but that we were too crassly commercial in forcing allies to pony up cash as if war were supposed to be a profitable enterprise.
The generic criticism in the 1990s of the United States, both here and abroad, was that America bombed from on high, and sometimes, as in Belgrade or Africa, even indiscriminately ? its only concern being fear of losses, not worry over civilian collateral damage or ending the war decisively on the ground. Indeed, in Europe there was voiced a certain cynicism that we were cowardly turning war into an antiseptic enterprise (the ?body bag syndrome?), adjudicated only by our concern not to engage with the enemy below.
There were other issues now forgotten. After the acrimony in the debate over Iraq in 1990, followed by the successful removal of Saddam Hussein, Democrats were determined never again to be on the wrong side of the national security debate. So they supported the present war because they were convinced that after Panama, Gulf War I, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan, they could regain credibility by supporting muscular action that seemed to pose little risk of failure. That is why only recently have Democratic supporters of the war bailed ? and only when polls suggested that any fear of ?cut and run? or McGovernism would be outweighed by tapping into popular dissatisfaction with Iraq.
Realism is much in vogue these days, with James Baker returning as the purported fireman, and even Democrats demanding talks with horrific dictators in Iran and North Korea. That was not the mantra of the 1990s. The Reaganism that rejected Cold War realpolitik and risked brinkmanship to bring down a rotten and murderous Soviet Empire was considered both the wiser and more ethical stance, as even Democrats reformulated their opportunistic criticism after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Mutually Assured Destruction, Kissingerian tolerance for the status quo, and mere containment ? all that was scoffed at in the afterglow of Reagan?s squeeze that popped the Soviet bubble.
Not long ago, abdication ? from Rwanda or Haiti, or from the Balkans for a decade ? not intervention, was the supposed sin. There were dozens of Darfurs in the 1990s, when charges flew of moral indifference. The supposition then ? as now ? was that those who called for boots on the ground to stop a genocide would not unlikely be the first to abdicate responsibility once the coffins came home and the military was left fighting an orphaned war.
Apparently all the high-minded talk of reform ? Aristotle rightly scoffed about morality being easy in one?s sleep ? was predicated only on cost-free war from 30,000 feet. Now the wisdom is that Colin Powell ? the supposed sole sane and moral voice of the present administration ? was drowned out by shrill neocon chicken hawks. But that was not the consensus of the 1990s. In both books and journalism, he was a Hamlet-like figure who paused before striking the needed blow, and so was pilloried by the likes of a Michael Gordon or Madeline Albright for not using the full force of the American military to intervene for moral purposes. That was then, and this is now, and in-between we have a costly war in Iraq that has taken the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans.
The unexpected carnage of September 11 explains so much of our current situation. It has made the realist, neo-isolationist George Bush into an advocate for Wilsonianism abroad, but only on the calculation that the roots of Islamic fascism rested in the nexus between dictatorship and autocracy ? the former destroys prosperity and freedom, and the latter makes use of terrorists to deflect rising popular dissatisfaction against the United States.
The U.S. Senate and House voted for war in Iraq, not merely because they were deluded about the shared intelligence reports on WMD (though deluded they surely were), but also because of the 22 legitimate casus belli they added just in case. And despite the recent meae culpae, those charges remain as valid today as they were when they were approved: Saddam did try to kill a former American president; the U.N. embargo was violated, as were its inspection protocols; the 1991 accords were often ignored; the genocide of brave Kurds did happen; suicide bombers were being given bounties; terrorists, including those involved into the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, were given sanctuary by Saddam; and on and on.
So it is not those charges, but we who leveled them, that have changed. Americans? problem with the war is not that it was not moral, but that it has been deemed too costly for the perceived benefits that might accrue.
The conventional wisdom was that, after Afghanistan (7 weeks of fighting) and its postbellum stability (a government within a year), a more secular Iraq (3 weeks of fighting) would follow the same timetable. In September 2002, well after the ?miracle? in Afghanistan, I listened to a high-ranking admiral pontificate that war on the ground was essentially over in the new age of Green Berets and laptops, that after Bosnia and Afghanistan, air power and Special Forces were all that were needed.
This did not come from Rumsfeld surrogates, but was a fair enough reflection of the wild new intoxication before Iraq ? that a supposed ?revolution in military affairs? had changed the ancient rules of war, as if our technology would now give us exemption from hurt. Many of those who now most shrilly condemn the war had in fact years ago rattled their sabers for ?moral? wars to eliminate dictators ? predicated on just this foolish utopian notion that GPS bombing and laser-guided missiles had at last given us the tools needed for removing the tumors with precision and at little cost, as we conducted lifesaving moral surgery on diseased states.
No, nothing has changed about Iraq other than its tragic tab. Changes of view are fine, as long as those who now criticize the effort at least acknowledge the climate in which fighting in Iraq was born, and the real conditions under which they themselves once supported the war ? and lost heart.
? Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author, most recently, of A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.
National Review Online -
Reply #40 on:
November 04, 2006, 05:02:17 AM »
The first thing 9am, monday. We don't quit the fight.
The Formula for Hell in the 21st Century
by Austin Bay
February 12, 2003
Sept. 11 made it impossible to tolerate the wicked linkage of terrorists, rogue states and weapons of mass destruction. Terrorists plus rogue states plus WMD -- that's the formula for hell in the 21st century.
Breaking the fatal linkage -- stopping the proliferation of WMD, eliminating terrorists and reforming rogue states -- should be the civilized world's common goal. But if the goal is too difficult for a civilized world undermined by malcontents and criminal autocrats, then for the sake of a safer, more peaceful century, America must take it on alone.
The Hell Formula exploits a weakness in the nation-state system. In too many hard corners of our planet, the foundation for a modern state never formed, but the trappings -- a capital, an army, a seat in the United Nations, International Monetary Fund loans -- can be acquired.
Legitimate authority? Rule of law? Forget it. The bayonet to the throat remains the only process for establishing authority, making "sovereignty" within the hard corner's Rand McNally borders a constantly contested notion. In such tribal, feudal and anarchic quarters, lip-service may be paid to common humanity, but the implementation of laws protecting basic human rights is rare.
For centuries, the fake nation-states didn't matter too much. Tribal battles remained local horrors. Not any more. Enforcing local dictatorial control with arrows or assault rifles is one scale of horror -- but now the rogue rulers use nerve gas. With ballistic missiles at hand, with terrorists willing to fly commercial jets into skyscrapers, rogues possession and use of chemical weapons is no longer a local matter. We learned, at a terrible price, that Islamofascist plotting in Afghanistan produces terrorist crime in New York and Washington. To return to an era where distance made a difference requires ditching essential technology. Ban the Internet? Ban the 747? Ban satellite television?
Moreover, rogue states -- these criminal syndicates or tribes with flags -- tend to disdain their own people. One estimate saddles Saddam with the deaths of a million Iraqis (peace marchers take note -- that's the brute you protect). North Korea has starved two million of its citizens, as its ruling clique builds ICBMs.
Small men like Saddam and Kim Jong Il harbor large goals, and WMD are their means of escaping tinpot status. Nukes ARE different. Very small numbers can waste very large chunks of humanity. Saddam intends to "burn Israel" -- he said so in June 1990. In February 1990, he gave a speech in Amman, Jordan, where he said he intended to challenge the United States (and a fascinating speech it was). North Korea's Kim sees Los Angeles as Ground Zero for political and economic leverage. Deter these small men with huge ambitions? Blarney. The Clinton administration offered Kim Jong Il light reactors and heavy oil. Kim took the goodies and continued to build nukes.
In 1991, Saddam agreed to live with U.N. resolutions that required the elimination of his WMD. As Tony Blair said last week, every nation with an intelligence service knows Iraq has WMD. Smoking gun? It's set to blaze.
Terrorist organizations, propelled by megalomaniacal myths, are beyond deterrence. However, the description that they are "virtual organizations" is too pop. Men have to sleep, and they don't sleep in virtual space. Terrorists have to organize, train and acquire weapons. The shady financial networks that support terrorists require cooperative banks.
Rogue states are the gutters that supply and support global terrorists -- though plenty of greedy Western companies have entered the gutters. Those corporations face a terrible reckoning when Saddam falls.
Breaking down the Hell Formula will take time. The police work fundamental to counter-terror war is a painfully slow process. Curbing WMD proliferation requires cooperative diplomacy, as well as bombs. As for the rogue state component of the equation, Iraq goes first because Saddam was internationally sanctioned and the sanctions must finally be enforced. The United Nations does matter, but for a safer future it must be a United Nations with teeth. Trust North Korea will have its own moment of intense focus.
Removing Saddam begins the reconfiguration of the Middle East, a dangerous, expensive process, but one that will lay the foundation for true states where the consent of the governed creates legitimacy and where terrorists are prosecuted, not promoted.
A large order? So was World War II, when heavy history fell on The Greatest Generation. It's this generation's turn to accept the challenge or face the Hell of destructive consequences.
Reply #41 on:
November 04, 2006, 07:33:10 AM »
Of course I agree with the basic premise, but exactly what does that mean in Iraq right now?
Do you think that our training of the Iraqi Army is working?
Do you think that we should support the Sunnis against the Shiites? Will that drive the Shiites (futher?) into the arms of the Iranians?
Should we support the Shiites and Kurds against the Sunnis?
Should we take out Al-Sadr even though this is against the wishes of the elected sovereign government of Iraq?
If we don't, then what of the Shiite militias killings of Sunnis and what of its policies of de-Sunnification out of certain regions?
If we don't stop Shiite militias and de-Sunnification by Shiites, what about the Kurds efforts to de-Sunnify the Sunnis who were moved north by SH to de-Kurdify oil regions of the north?
Or do we say that the Sunnis deserve it for being such buttholes to the Shiites for so long, especially under SH?
But if we do so, what of incipient Arab/Sunni support for taking a hardline with Iran?
Can we fight Iran now? No? If not, what is the point of fighting in Iraq if it keeps us from stopping Iran's nuke program? Isn't stopping Iran's nukes essential? Won't we have failed if we do not?
What do we tell our troops as they go out on patrol to get sniped at and IED'd? What do we tell them that they are fighting for? Democracy in Iraq? Do you think that rings true right now? Do we tell them that we are preparing to deal with Iran? Does that ring true right now?
Is Iraq part of the strategy for Iran or is it a stand-alone theater of WW3?
After Olmert's failure to finish the job with Hamas, doesn't Iran now have a forward base from which to neuter the Israeli threat to take out Iran's nukes? In this context, is there any substance to President Bush's comments the other day that he would understand if Israel acted against Iran?
Do you think what we are doing now is working?
If not, then what should we be doing? And is there any chance at all that the American people will support what you suggest?
Reply #42 on:
November 04, 2006, 07:58:26 AM »
Of course I agree with the basic premise, but exactly what does that mean in Iraq right now?
Do you think that our training of the Iraqi Army is working? I wish I knew. I read different things. As I don't have "ground truth" knowledge I can't really answer this.
Do you think that we should support the Sunnis against the Shiites? Will that drive the Shiites (futher?) into the arms of the Iranians? We need to have a "sit down" with Sistani and other leaders and draw lines. Friend or foe? Choose now and live with the consequences either way.
Should we support the Shiites and Kurds against the Sunnis? We need to support the Kurds and entrench ourselves there. Iraqi Kurdistan is the one good thing we have there. The Kurds deserve our full support and protection, even if we need to let the Sunnis and Shias sort things out themselves in the usual way.
Should we take out Al-Sadr even though this is against the wishes of the elected sovereign government of Iraq? Yes. We should make it clear to everyone in that part of the world that we reserve the right to kill whomever we need to, them demonstrate it a few times. Al-Sadr should be first on the list.
If we don't, then what of the Shiite militias killings of Sunnis and what of its policies of de-Sunnification out of certain regions? If they can't accept our ultimatum, we pull out from the Sunni and Shia areas and tell them we'll be back when they are ready. Pull our forces into secure perimeters and watch the fireworks.
If we don't stop Shiite militias and de-Sunnification by Shiites, what about the Kurds efforts to de-Sunnify the Sunnis who were moved north by SH to de-Kurdify oil regions of the north? The Kurds have been our friends. We need to demonstrate loyalty and protection to our friends and Machiavellian ruthlessness to those who aren't.
Or do we say that the Sunnis deserve it for being such buttholes to the Shiites for so long, especially under SH? We make it clear, work our program fully, or we'll let them hash it out without us.
But if we do so, what of incipient Arab/Sunni support for taking a hardline with Iran? As OBL said long ago, they'll support whomever they thing is the "strong horse". Time to flex muscles and let natural consequences happen.
Can we fight Iran now? No? If not, what is the point of fighting in Iraq if it keeps us from stopping Iran's nuke program? Isn't stopping Iran's nukes essential? Won't we have failed if we do not? It's time to take out Iran's nuclear program and engage with "Unrestricted warfare". Iranian resistance gets training and support along with air support and SpecOps direct action, but no nation building. That is up to the Iranians. Killing the mullahs is crucial.
What do we tell our troops as they go out on patrol to get sniped at and IED'd? What do we tell them that they are fighting for? Democracy in Iraq? Do you think that rings true right now? Do we tell them that we are preparing to deal with Iran? Does that ring true right now? Tell them this is one round of a thirty round fight. They are prepping the battlespace for future generations.
Is Iraq part of the strategy for Iran or is it a stand-alone theater of WW3? The stakes in Iraq is Iran becoming a much larger state that they intend to span into Lebanon, under a nuclear umbrella while they wage "Unrestricted warfare" across the globe.
After Olmert's failure to finish the job with Hamas, doesn't Iran now have a forward base from which to neuter the Israeli threat to take out Iran's nukes? In this context, is there any substance to President Bush's comments the other day that he would understand if Israel acted against Iran? Both the Israeli and American leadership know what is at stake, but neither wants to be the one to cross the line, knowing what awaits.
Do you think what we are doing now is working? It's working to a degree in Iraq, but we're losing the psywar.
If not, then what should we be doing? And is there any chance at all that the American people will support what you suggest? Sadly, we'll need a nuclear 9/11 to get the majority of Americans ready to fight this war.
Reply #43 on:
November 04, 2006, 09:31:57 AM »
I agree about the Kurds. They have been straight with us and we should be with them. Screw the Turks if they don't like it.
But if we leave the Sunnis and Shiites to hash it out, won't the Shiites win because of numerical superiority and because of support from Iran? Combined with Hez's "success" against the Israelis with Iran's support, will this make them the strong horse of the region?
You call for taking out Iran's nuke capabilities, but from what I have seen our military doubts its ability to do so. Are you suggesting we leave Iraq , , , by rolling east? Is the US in a position world-wide to handle the economic consequences of mid-east oil being shut off which I gather Iran may do in the Straights of Hormuz-- not to mention the Chinese being pretty unhappy if their oil is shut off (I forget the numbers, but my understanding is that more mid-east oil goes to them than us)
What if Iran also counters us by unleashing Hamas for another go round?
Just armchair generaling on a Saturday morning.
Reply #44 on:
November 04, 2006, 01:33:46 PM »
Perle says he should not have backed Iraq war
By Peter Spiegel, Times Staff Writer
November 4, 2006
WASHINGTON ? Richard N. Perle, the former Pentagon advisor regarded as the intellectual godfather of the Iraq war, now believes he should not have backed the U.S.-led invasion, and he holds President Bush responsible for failing to make timely decisions to stem the rising violence, according to excerpts from a magazine interview.
Perle ? a leading neoconservative who chaired the Pentagon's defense advisory board for the first three years of the Bush administration ? is quoted in January's Vanity Fair as saying the U.S. might have been able to strip Saddam Hussein of his ability to build unconventional weapons "by means other than a direct military intervention."
"I think if I had been Delphic, and had seen where we are today, and people had said 'Should we go into Iraq?' I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists,' " Perle said, according to interview excerpts released Friday by the magazine.
Perle's about-face is the latest in a series of war recriminations by neoconservatives, many of whom blame Iraq's spiraling violence on the administration's management of the postwar stabilization effort.
Others interviewed for the article included former Bush speechwriter David Frum and former Reagan administration official Kenneth L. Adelman.
Perle's prominent advocacy of invasion after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks ? and his close relationship with the war's top architects, including Paul D. Wolfowitz, then the deputy Defense secretary, and Douglas J. Feith, the former Pentagon policy chief ? makes his reversal particularly noteworthy.
Perle told Vanity Fair he did not anticipate the "depravity" currently underway in Iraq, saying, "The levels of brutality we've seen are truly horrifying."
He said "huge mistakes" had been made in the management of the war, and he blamed disloyalty among top Bush administration officials for a failure to get the policy correct.
"The decisions did not get made that should have been," he said.
He continued: "At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible?.
"I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty."
Although the excerpts do not show who Perle blames for disloyalty or mismanagement, he appears to lay the blame at the feet of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the military leaders who put together the war plan.
"Huge mistakes were made, and I want to be very clear on this: They were not made by neoconservatives, who had almost no voice in what happened, and certainly almost no voice in what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad," he said.
"I'm getting damn tired of being described as an architect of the war. I was in favor of bringing down Saddam. Nobody said, 'Go design the campaign to do that.' I had no responsibility for that."
The excerpts include quotes from other neoconservatives who have turned against the war, including Adelman, a longtime friend of Rumsfeld who has received classified Pentagon briefings on the war as recently as March, according to a recent book by journalist Bob Woodward.
Vanity Fair quotes Adelman as saying that though he still believes the reasons for going to war were right, the invasion should not have occurred because the goals were unachievable. He called Bush's national security advisors "among the most incompetent teams" in the post-World War II era, adding he was particularly let down by Rumsfeld: "I'm very, very fond of him, but I'm crushed by his performance."
Reply #45 on:
November 05, 2006, 01:44:08 AM »
I agree about the Kurds. They have been straight with us and we should be with them. Screw the Turks if they don't like it. **The Turks are no longer friends and should have to live with those consequences. Syria doesn't want an Iraqi Turkistan, which is one more reason to do it.**
But if we leave the Sunnis and Shiites to hash it out, won't the Shiites win because of numerical superiority and because of support from Iran? Combined with Hez's "success" against the Israelis with Iran's support, will this make them the strong horse of the region? **The greater sunii/shia fissure is a vulnerability to be exploited. We need to seal the Iraqi border. We can trade and barter with the sunnis for every Iranian and or Syrian operative they capture. Beyond the sunni/shia divide, there are regional, tribal divides to be exploited. Let them fight until they reach a clear winner. We'll work with the power structure that evolves.**
You call for taking out Iran's nuke capabilities, but from what I have seen our military doubts its ability to do so. **It's not clean and easy, it is doable though.** Are you suggesting we leave Iraq , , , by rolling east? **Mostly I prefer that US troops stop "nation building ops" and move to defensive positions while the sunnis and shias dance.** Is the US in a position world-wide to handle the economic consequences of mid-east oil being shut off which I gather Iran may do in the Straights of Hormuz-- not to mention the Chinese being pretty unhappy if their oil is shut off (I forget the numbers, but my understanding is that more mid-east oil goes to them than us)
**We have a strategic oil reserve, and we can ride this disruption much better than most. Actually, lancing this boil can place us in a much better strategic position in fighting the global jihad and dealing with China and North Korea.**
What if Iran also counters us by unleashing Hamas for another go round? **I expect they'd use Hezbollah, HAMAS and every other asset. Israel is quietly prepping for their next round right now anyway.**
Just armchair generaling on a Saturday morning.
Reply #46 on:
November 05, 2006, 11:39:25 AM »
Folks, Let's Talk Seriously About The War
Terrorism Jeff Lukens
October 28, 2006
My 21-year-old son recently joined the Army reserves, and is now in basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. He writes to tell me that his drill sergeants are telling him that, reservist or not, get ready to go to Iraq.
He has no reason to doubt them. For my son, it is a reckoning he calmly accepts.
What can I say? He wants to serve his country, and I couldn't be more proud of him.
I'm just a regular guy like millions of people everywhere who love this country. I was in the Army years ago, but they never deployed me to a war zone. The thought of my son going into one sets me back a bit. When I think about the thousands of parents who have sons and daughters over there already, I get a bit choked. And when I think about those who have had their child die over there, I go beyond choked. God forbid . . . it could happen to my son too.
We've all heard fellow Americans badmouthing our country while military personnel overseas are risking their lives. They say they support the troops but they don't support the war. Well, that's baloney. It's the same thing.
They say we shouldn't question their patriotism either. Well, that's baloney too. To actively root for our side to lose just so they can further their politics is more than unpatriotic. It's criminal.
"The real reason for the Iraq invasion was that it was strategically necessary to influence the entire Middle East. The invasion was meant to show that we meant business in this war against al Qaeda."
Let's face it; many politicians, media people and others simply don't care about this country. They don't care about you or me, my son or your daughter. They're not willing to make any sacrifices.
Folks, it's us, the regular people who need to own the issue of the war on terror because we're the only ones who are serious about fighting it.
We've all witnessed the political pretenders who say they voted for the Iraq war, but then have no problem when leaked classified information is used against it. Nothing is prohibited in their two-faced attempt to gain power, even when their tactics do our nation lasting harm.
The spin is that, by fighting terrorists, we somehow are the ones creating the terrorists. That thinking harkens back to the pre-9/11 days of waiting to be attacked before responding. What these people don't understand is that our government's most sacred duty is to protect the American people.
Think about it. After 9/11, there were just a few options open to us and all involved invading somebody. The only way to fight terrorism was to go on the offense and hit them so hard that they can't hit back. And so we did. But invading Afghanistan alone was not enough to alter the root causes of terrorism.
The real reason for the Iraq invasion was that it was strategically necessary to influence the entire Middle East. The invasion was meant to show that we meant business in this war against al Qaeda.
Much complex analysis lay behind U.S. strategy, and much of its basis was too complex to present to the public. So, for right or wrong, WMD became the selling point for the invasion of Iraq.
The leaders in Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia have no doubt noticed the large presence of U.S. ground and air forces within easy striking distance of their countries. It no doubt is a major reason why they no longer support Al Qaeda, when they tolerated it - and even funded it - before.
So, now we have established a fledgling democracy in Iraq, and sectarian violence has become a problem. The government cannot be our ally if it is itself allied with terrorists. And terrorists are exactly what Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army are. We should've taken them out in 2004. Now we need to finish that job.
But this is a secondary issue. We cannot allow disappointments to turn to disillusionment about our reasons for engaging in this war. Poor decisions can surely make matters much worse.
Wavering members of congress have been calling for a timetable for a withdrawal from Iraq. This is all hot air in an attempt to score political points. They'll say anything to get elected. Nowhere in the history of warfare has a nation pre-announced such a timetable to their enemies. It would be disastrous.
Whether democracy succeeds in Iraq is up to the Iraqi people, not us. But they are watching our domestic politics too, and many more may decide to side with our enemies based on what the "loyal opposition" in Washington is doing to undermine the war. We cannot afford such irresponsibility.
It is naive to think that by getting out of Iraq, we can spare ourselves from the clash between radical Islam and the rest of the world. With Iran next door moving steadily toward a nuclear bomb, the question now is whether we are going to remain serious about terrorism, or frivolously pretend it is no longer important.
It's up to us, the ones with a personal stake in winning the war, to make our voices heard. We owe that to our nation's future. And we owe it to our sons and daughters who wear its uniform.
Jeff Lukens writes engaging opinion columns from a fresh, conservative point of view. He is also a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc., a non-profit (501c3) coalition of writers and grass-roots media outlets. He can be contacted through his website at
Reply #47 on:
November 06, 2006, 04:34:27 PM »
Reply #48 on:
November 06, 2006, 06:08:18 PM »
That's an excellent find there GM.
Highly recommended viewing everyone!
Proceeding in Iraq
Reply #49 on:
November 07, 2006, 03:18:03 PM »
I?ve been mulling Crafty?s question re how best to proceed in Iraq and trying to figure out how to address the question?s implicitly negative tenor. I?ve a lot of notions; indeed the hardest part about writing this sort of response is limiting the scope of the question. As such I?ve been trying to find a thesis that speaks to conditions here and now and that provides a cogent core. The following is what has emerged.
Winning a game when all the dice are rolling your way is not much a measure of skill. Superior players will find ways to win when the variables aren?t falling their way. There are many components suggesting a bleak outlook is warranted in Iraq, however those components contain momentum that could be used to ones advantage. For instance, conventional wisdom is that the Democrats will be picking up enough seats today to control the House and perhaps the Senate, thus enabling them to undercut the Iraq war effort via purse strings, impeachment efforts, investigations, and general obstructionism. The blades they?ll wield, however all have more than one edge; a fact I expect an adroit player can make use of.
My guess is that the number of seats that change hands will be well within the bounds of the average turnover during interim elections. I think the media, antiwar Democrats, and the far left fringe, however, will interpret any change that breaks their way to be a mandate that gives them license to overplay their hand. Hence if congress does indeed change hands if I were making the call I?d stand aside and let the grandstanding commence. Think the George Soros/Michael Moore/Nancy Pelosi side of the party will feel they?ve earned the right to wave the baton, the Democratic primary process is set up in such a way that the far left squeaky wheels hold undue sway, while outside of current Iraq angst the goals of the left wing of the Democratic party aren?t particularly congruent with those of most Americans. Bottom line is the stage could be set for some dramatic reversals if cards are played right.
Similarly, I think Islamo Fascists have a hard sale to make. Though they excel at finding dupes willing to blow themselves up in crowded places and are hell on wheels when it comes time to indiscriminately shoot up civilians, the 8th century product they?re selling is so inferior that even with the ardent methods described above sales generally are not forthcoming. They?ve also demonstrated a tendency to overplay their hand, have trouble maintaining coherent command and control, their major strikes against the US have proved to unify our citizens rather than fracture things further. My guess is that they?ll read predicted election results as a sign of weakness, try to find a way to step things up in advance of the next presidential election, and overplay their hand also. Should that occur we should be ready to respond.
Think the notion that the Kurds be given more rein makes sense on lots of levels. It tells the Shiites and Sunnis in southern Iraq they?d best get their poop in a group before they lose the northern third of their country (and a major oil producing region) to a unified minority. Kurds are also found in Turkey and Iran, one?s heading a fundamentalist direction, the other has a full-blown case of it, making it in our interests to have good relations with an ethnic group that spans all three areas. I hope our spooks and spec ops folks are already working the area as my impression is that Kurdish areas of Iran are already ripe for various kinds of foment. Asymmetric, low intensity warfare can be dished out as we deal with it.
There is plenty of ideological jiu-jitsu to apply, also. The mainstream, largely lukewarm liberal, media is unraveling before our eyes: circulation is plummeting for most major newspapers while network TV takes a beating, too. Alternative media outlets, particularly those with a more pro-war perspective such as talk radio and various blogs, continue to thrive. Moreover, there is a lot of cognitive dissonance on the far left side of various issues that will provide fodder for these outlets. I note, for instance that claims of voter fraud and suppression have become a staple of the Democratic side of the aisle and will likely be ballyhooed vigorously in any close election where a Republican is the victor. It?s worth noting, however, that many instances where irregularity is clearly courted?ACORN?s efforts, various Democratic city bastions with large numbers of dubious voters on the rolls, efforts to allow felons to vote, and efforts to allow voters to vote without providing any ID?all have a decidedly leftward tilt. The claiming of foul while soliciting them game if regularly exposed by alternative media won?t fare much better than John Kerry?s misspoken ?joke? did, IMO.
Indeed, the far left?s situational, identity political, fangs bared sweetness and light act is loaded with contradictions most Americans can easily wrap their heads around. The specter of ardent feminists lending aid and comfort to Islamo Fascists who would beat them into veils if they had their way can?t help but inspire quizzical looks in most. Battling race preferences by enshrining race preferences ala Affirmative Action; reducing oil dependence while resisting nuclear energy, ANWAR and off-shore drilling et al; ?fairness? and PC doctrines that stifle thought and speech; and so on all drive wedges between most Americans and the far left. Realizing this, the far left often tries to repackage its true end, and the repackaging results in its own forms of folly. In short there is no shortage of eye-popping contradictions that can be pointed out in emerging forums that traffic in the free market of ideas.
In closing I?ll note that the left end of the spectrum demands an ideological homogeneity that serves it tactically while sowing the seeds for strategic defeat. In demanding that all fellow travelers sing in unison from the same hymnal the left creates a bloc that can indeed be brought to cohesively focus on a goal, but in doing so unites a conglomeration of strange bedfellows too repugnant for much of mainstream American to endure. The right, on the other hand embraces a vigorous debate that often leave various tactical fields littered, but serves as a uniting force when big picture strategy is needed, a point Jonah Goldberg makes well here:
Those, therefor, concerned that developments and setbacks bode poorly for the future of this country would do well to put aside tactical squabbles, fix their eyes firmly on the big picture, and devote themselves to using the resources at hand to make the best of whatever roll comes our way.
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