Sunday, July 30, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

A barrage of rockets and mortar rounds exploded in the mainly Shia Karada neighbourhood in east Baghdad, killing 31 people and wounding 153. The attack yesterday came soon after President George Bush agreed to rush more US troops to Baghdad to try to bring sectarian violence under control.
The shells were followed by a car bomb that destroyed a bank and an apartment and set shops on fire in Karada, which is a tight-knit trading area hitherto little affected by violence. Many leading Shia politicians and President Jalal Talabani live in or near the district.
The use of US troops shows the desperation of Nouri al-Maliki's government to try to regain control of the capital but it is likely to be seen by many Shia - and particularly the main Shia militia, the Mehdi Army - as a move in support of the Sunnis. In some Sunni districts such as al-Amariya and al-Khadra in west Baghdad, people are so frightened they may welcome the American forces.
If the US army does confront the Mehdi Army, it could soon find itself at war with the Shia community in Sadr City, the great Shia bastion in Baghdad with a population of two million, just as the Israelis are at war with Hizbollah in Lebanon.
It is unlikely, however, that some 10,000 US troops will succeed in restoring civil order, something that 50,000 Iraqi forces in the city have failed to do. Sunni now shoot at police and police commando detachments, regarding them as officially sanctioned "death squads".

The above, noted by Mia, is from Patrick Cockburn's "Baghdad's Death Squads, Official and Otherwise" (CounterPunch). It's important to remember that as reports come in that US officials are saying there aren't enough troops in Iraq (saying privately). More troops? We're back to that. We've apparently never absorbed the basic fact that the source of the conflict is the illegal occupation. So now we're going to see arguments floated for more troops. Probably even more than the Bully Boy is comfortable with because we are headed towards elections in November. So chances are the more troops nonsense will be floated as a trial balloon and, shortly after the November election, Bully Boy will send more troops. The same way that the slaughter of Falluja was put on "hold" until after the November 2004 election.

More troops? That's the problem? It takes a real idiot to argue that after all this time. More troops will mean more troops -- calls for more troops because the occupation breeds the chaos and violence so sending more troops is not an answer. Using it as an answer requires that every few months the call will go out that we, you know this is coming, send more troops.

It's nothing but someone straying from Gamblers Anonymous and dropping everything they have in their pockets on the black jack table suddenly remembering the ATM card in their wallet. Feed the black jack table, over and over. Or, in this instance, feed the illegal war and occupation -- with human lives.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, the American military fatality count in Iraq stood at 2565. Right now? 2578.

So the big news is that troops are being repositioned into Baghdad. Why? The first attack that Friday really gave the Green Zone a scare. More importantly, it seemed to waken a lethargic press (luckily for the Bully Boy the Israeli government decided to go wack-job and pushed the attention of the press elsewhere). Why not? They're largely confined to the Green Zone -- detainees in posh quarters -- so the thought that the Green Zone might be stormed really hit home. For three years of the illegal war, violence and chaos have raged outside of Baghdad. Bit by bit, it came to Baghdad. Then they got close to the Green Zone. Time for a 'crackdown!'

Well that didn't work, though the same fools, pundits and experts who think "more troops" is an answer thought it would. Bully Boy said it would. Even, to allay fears of the press and the puppet government, did a quick lay over in Baghdad to talk about the 'success.' It wasn't. It isn't. You see that with the violence. So now it's time to reposition troops from all over Iraq into Baghdad.

Bully Boy may be thinking (and he wouldn't be wrong to think so), "If we lose the Green Zone, we've lost the war." The Green Zone is Walter Cronkite. People keep looking for the individual who is Walter Cronkite. Looking to the anchor desks, maybe hoping it's Jon Stewart. Walter Cronkite didn't make his statement until after he saw what was going on in Vietnam. The Green Zone is today's Walter Cronkite.

Saturday in Kirkuk, a bomb took four lives and wounded thirteen; "Gunmen in two cars sprayed gunfire at the Muhammad Rassulluallah mosque in western Baghdad shortly after midnight, shattering its windows and damaging walls"; a Sunni cleric was shot dead in Samarra; four corpses were found in Baghadad; a young boy traveling with his father in a taxi was shot dead (Bagdad); and, in Baghdad, two bombs wounded nine people (Ryan Lenz, AP). Also on Saturday, Akram Ahmed Salman, the coach of their soccer (or football, outside the US) team tendered his resignation and told AFP: "I received a threat from a group that threatened to kill me if I kept working with the team." Finally, four US marines died on Saturday (Anbar Province, Reuters). Those deaths as the AFP reports: "Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has drawn the curtain on the deployment of Japanese troops in Iraq, who Australian soldiers have defended during their humanitarian and reconstruction mission."

Sunday? Reuters reports 15 corpses discovered in Baghdad ("signs of torture . . . shot in the head") as well as another one in Jurf al-Sakhar; Falluja was the location for the kidnapping of a truck driver ("and his truck was set on fire") as well as a roadside bomb that killed one police officer and wounded another; Yusufiya was where an attack on a mini-bus took place resulting in
two dead; Baiji was one of the many cities where police officers were attacked on Sunday -- in this instance, one was "shot dead"; near Tuz Khurmatu on Saturday an attempted kidnapping resulted in the death of one police officer and a civilian -- the five remaining, including a police officer, were tortured and then let go on Sunday; a roadside bomb in Baghdad left two police officers wounded; and a "sucide car bombing" in Mosul left three police officers wounded; four people died from a roadside bomb in Iskandariya.

From IRIN's "IRAQ: Child prisoners left without support:"

He isn't a criminal, but just the sight of a police officer terrifies 14-year-old Omar.
The boy was released last month from an Iraqi prison, after being detained there for more than seven months. "They arrested me because they said I was a suspect after a car bomb exploded in a road near my home and resulted in the killing of an American," Omar explains. He happened to be near the explosion and was arrested along with adult Iraqis suspected of the attack.
Omar was one of 450 detainees who were let out of the two Iraqi and US-run prisons on 27 June, under a national reconciliation plan aimed at bringing insurgents into the political process and ending the bloodshed in Iraq.

This as the AFP reports that US senator John McCain is "proud" to send his eighteen-year-old son Jimmy to Iraq. File it under: When War Hawks Reproduce. No-Straight Talk is an idiot, but he's a consistent one. No reports on Hillary urging Chelsea to sign up.

Hearts and minds? Remember Steven D. Green? Andrew Tilghman is reporting that Green told him the following (AFP):

"I came over here because I wanted to kill people," he quoted Green as saying. "The truth is, it wasn't all I thought it was cracked up to be.
"I mean, I thought killing somebody would be this life-changing experience," Green was quoted as saying. "And then I did it, and I was like, 'All right, whatever.'
"I shot a guy who wouldn't stop when we were out at a traffic checkpoint and it was like nothing," Green was quoted as saying. "Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant.
"I mean, you kill somebody and it's like, 'All right, let's go get some pizza.'"

Green is charged with raping and murdering 14-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza and with the killing of three other members of her family. (Tilghman's report can be read at the Washington Post.) Along with Green, Paul E. Cortez, James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman and Bryan L. Howard are charged with rape and murder for the incident and Anthony W. Yribe has been charged with derelicition of duty and providing a false statement in the incident.

Zach notes Peter Dale Scott's "Review of 'The One Percent Doctrine'" (Consortium News):

But [Ron] Suskind, in designing a narrative that can be absorbed and digested by the American political process, avoids some important facts which no one in power seems willing to mention. The most obvious fact suppressed in Suskind's narrative is the importance of controlling Middle East oil as a prime motive for invading Iraq.
One can agree with Suskind that the war has become an unambiguous setback to the war on terror. ("One hundred fifty thousand U.S. troops in the center of the Arab world was a jihadist recruiting tool of almost unfathomable magnetism," 276-77). But he accepts at face value the misleading claim that WMD provided the "primary impetus for invading Iraq" (123, cf. 213).
Suskind's view of the war as a product of bad intelligence fits very well with Senator Kerry's current position that the war in Iraq was a "mistake." But, as Kevin Phillips has observed,
"if oil had nothing to do with the invasion, why did top officials of the Bush administration mention it in predicting how well the invasion would work out? Cheney opined that by the end of 2003, Iraqi oil output would hit 3 million barrels a day, and Lawrence Lindsey, the White House economic adviser, talked about 3-5 million, saying in September 2002, 'the key issue is oil, and a regime change in Iraq would facilitate an increase in world oil' so as to drive down prices. Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld’s deputy in the Pentagon, enthused that increased Iraqi oil revenues could pay for the war. And White House speechwriter David Frum wrote in his 2003 book on Bush that the war on terror was designed to 'bring new stability to the most vicious and violent quadrant of the earth—and new prosperity to us all, by securing the world’s largest pool of oil.'"
It is now well known that Cheney's Energy Task Force in early 2001 paid close attention to maps showing Iraqi oil reserves, and the foreign oil companies laying claim to them. In fact France, Russia and China had legal claims to explore 35 percent of Iraq's total reserves, but had been blocked for a decade by the sanctions imposed on Saddam Hussein. Saddam's alleged WMD were the excuse for the sanctions, which were only to be lifted when Iraq had been declared free of WMD.

And Pru picked something lighter ("but political still"), Paul O'Brien's "Newly discovered Shelley poem shows his political fire" (Great Britain's The Socialist Worker):

An early poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley has unexpectedly come to light after an absence of nearly 200 years.
Shelley wrote Poetical Essay to raise funds for Peter Finnerty, the radical Irish journalist who was imprisoned for libelling the British government in his reports of the disastrous naval expedition to the Low Countries in 1809.
Despite Finnerty's background - he was a revolutionary who had been imprisoned in 1798 in Ireland for his support for the United Irishmen - he was invited to join the expedition as an "embedded journalist".
Today, that would be like sending John Pilger or Robert Fisk to the Middle East with the British army and then being surprised when they wrote articles critical of the war.
If journalists step out of line today they are denied access to official sources - for Finnerty, it meant 18 months in Lincoln Jail.
A fund was set up by British radicals to support him in prison. Shelley, then an 18 year old undergraduate at Oxford University, wrote the Poetical Essay to support Finnerty.
A short essay, in which Shelley denounces war and the devastation it causes, prefaces the poem. The 172 lines that follow are written in rhyming couplets in the style of the popular ballads common to the period. Shelley was writing for a popular audience, not the “fireside reformers” of the Whig establishment.
The poem is important for two reasons. Firstly, because it hints at the great lyrical poetry to come. Secondly, because it confirms Shelley as a great radical writer and bitter critic of war and intolerance, right from the beginning of his career.
His hatred of the "cold advisers of yet colder Kings" echoes the scandal of the intelligence briefing about weapons of mass destruction that led to the Iraq war and has a freshness that resonates down to this day. Shelley denounces the advisers who have:

The power to breathe
O'er all the world the infectious blast of death.
Millions to fight compell'd, to fight or die
In mangled heaps on War's red alter lie
When legal murders swell the lists of pride;
When glory’s views the titled idiot guide.

Paul O'Brien's Shelley and Revolutionary Ireland (£11) is available from Bookmarks, the socialist bookshop. Phone 020 7637 1848 or go to
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