Thursday, July 13, 2006

Paying attention?

Previous entry should raise an eye brow of anyone paying attention to what's going on in Iraq.
From Paul von Zielbauer and David S. Cloud's "More Troops May Be Needed in Baghdad, U.S. General Says" in this morning's New York Times:

Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the senior American commander in Iraq, said Wednesday that . . . there might be a need to move more American forces into the capital to prevent the deadly cycle from worsening.

Sometimes, as with the Beatles' White album cover, it doesn't take much to make a point.

As Dahr Jamail, among others, have pointed out re: Ramadi, there are not enough troops to do what the US military would like to do. Instead, a large number of US troops have been taking part in the "crackdown" in Baghdad. (That's only done more to increase violence which isn't surprising when you grasp that foreign occupiers have always been one of the key sources of tension.)

Buried in the Times on Tuesday (page A17, National Briefing) was one paragraph ("Military Recruiting Successful") which announced, to little surprise, that the Amry had met it's recruiting goals for June. (No surprise because June is always a good month in a bad economy.) (High school graduations.)

So quick to trumpet non-news as news, the military's prepared a little "fact" sheet (it's pdf, click here, if you're interested) where they make the comment: Everyone joining the military is rigorously screened for a variety of medical and physical factors that bear on succesful military performances -- often under austere conditions." Now explain that much trumpeted 'anti-social personality disorder' that led someone currently in a high profile case to be discharged?

The facts are that June's always a strong month (again, in a bad economy, following high school graduations, that's not surprising, and June numbers are never a surprise though it is a surprise that the military continues to trumpet them as news or surprising).

Where are the troops coming from that Pace is calling for? (We've noted in various snapshots, the various squads getting ready for deployment to Iraq over the next few months -- including, most recently, news from Colorado.)

The Army figures, a friend in the military said this morning, are the ones to watch because they are "the ground forces." And he says they don't have the numbers, they still don't have the numbers. The numbers needed weren't met in 2005, they weren't met in 2004. And that was when things were easier to portray as rosy in Iraq.

Those illusions are gone (for all but the administration). What's being done, as many have noted, is that the standards for enlistment are continuing to drop. And that's what you have to do to recruit for an increasingly unpopular war.

Another thing to remember, pointed out over the phone this morning, is that the number of countries making up the so-called coalition continue to dwindle as countries pull out or announce that they are pulling out -- this while Afghanistan is thought to demand additional troops (that just aren't there).

Deploying the huge number to Baghdad and instigating the crackdown hasn't resulted in a less violence in Iraq. The Times low balls yesterday's fatalities (again) going with "at least 30" while the Washington Post goes with "at least 45" (that's the figure most are going with -- but the Times reporters were traveling with Rumsfeld).

The Post (Joshua Partlow and Josh White's "22 Slain in Raid at Iraqi Bus Station: Rumsfeld Visit Coincides With 4th Day of Intensified Violence," noted by Martha) offers:

Casey said more U.S. troops might be needed in Baghdad to combat the violence, but both he and Rumsfeld said it was too early to say whether U.S. force levels across Iraq would shrink or grow in coming months. Defense officials have said they would like troop levels to drop from 129,000 to about 100,000 by the end of the year.

Micah notes an AP article the Times carries ("Gloomy Assessment by Afghan Defense Minister"):

The Afghan Army cannot secure the country without at least 150,000 troops -- five times what it has -- the defense minister said Wednesday.
The minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, said that a plan to increase the army to 70,000 troops from 27,000 was inadequate, and that the American-led coalition should divert funds from its own operations to strengthen Afghan forces.
Mr. Wardak said a 70,000-member army could not end a surge of Taliban-led violence like the one that flared recently, or protect the country from outside threats.
The minimum number, he said in an interview, was 150,000 to 200,000, "which should also be well-trained and equipped, with mobility and firepower and logistical and training institutions."

Meanwhile Dahr Jamail's enroute for Iraq. From his "This is going to be a big war" (filed in Damascas):

The fighting is everywhere, he tells me. Now that the U.S. military/Rumsfeld (who was just in Baghdad) and Khalilzad have declared war on the Shia Mehdi Army, accusing them of terrorism, all bets are off. Of course, the timing of this with Israelis attacks against Hezbollah couldn't be more perfect. Coincidence?
"The fighting is everywhere, and there is no way the Americans can control it now," Abu Talat adds, "The Shia are fighting each other for control of Basra, while also fighting the Sunni."
"It is civil war now in Iraq, no doubt," he continues, "But no matter who you ask, no one will admit it. Because people are too afraid to admit this. People prefer to deny it."
Even back at our hotel, there are at least two other Iraqis, who have come here for surgery, since all of the senior doctors have long since left Baghdad to save their own lives.

But still the happy talks flows from the administration's mouth and mouth pieces. The United States has turned against the war but to address the reality seriously would mean more than poll responses of wanting to the troops home to seriously demands upon Congress to do something. (Some do take it seriously -- some, however, seem to think responding to some form of a poll on the war is somehow weighing in. At this point, being against the war is a common sense position like, today, being opposed to lynchings. And some seem to think about as much action is required.)

Though the chat and chewers will gather on Sunday to put their usual far-removed-from-reality spin on it, the reality's getting harder to spin.

We'll close with Cindy Sheehan's "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be Soldiers" (Common Dreams):

Tragically, I don't know anyone, war supporter or not, who raised their children to be war criminals. I would hope that there are few people in our country who have hoped against hope that one day that their son would grow up to rape Iraqi girls and kill innocent Iraqis in cold blood. The Mahmoudiya and Haditha incidents are horrible atrocities, but unfortunately, are not isolated incidents in the Iraq war crime. War breeds atrocities. I wish to God, and everything that anybody holds holy, that Mahmoudiya and Haditha were isoloated incidents, but we know that they are not. When the neocons despicably spit out the blather that we need to "Stay the course," I wonder what that means? Rape and murder? That is a horrible course. I think we should change it now.
To be honest with ourselves and our children, instead of the flags and Man Scout badges that our soldiers decorate their uniforms with, they should have their suits covered with corporate logos like NASCAR drivers. A Halliburton patch here and an Exxon patch there. I also believe, like Gen. Butler said: during times of war, CEO's of war profiteers should only be allowed to earn as much as a common soldier.
Sounds fair to me and I believe war will end if the war profiteers, politicians and Generals were required to send their own children to fight for their ill-gotten gains before they sent ours.
Our nation forgot the lessons of Vietnam where not one person over the rank of Lieutenant was even tried for war crimes. It is incumbent upon this generation of war victims to make sure that this unspeakable episode does not repeat itself. The people responsible for sending our children to this war crime should not get off scot-free. BushCo should be the ones sent to federal prison for crimes against humanity and crimes against peace.
Holding our leaders accountable for unnecessary war and killing innocent people? It's a new concept, but I think one that just might work. Let's try it this time.
But more importantly, don't let your babies grow up to be soldiers.

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