Three years into the war, American and Iraqi officials have grown increasingly eager to show progress. In recent weeks, they have repeatedly trumpeted evidence of a decline in killings this month after increases in June and July.
Yet the bloodshed of the past few days suggests that the gains might be temporary.
Americans have not been spared. The United States military said Wednesday that a marine from the First Armored Division was killed in action on Tuesday in Anbar Province.
Military officials also said two American soldiers were killed in an attack on a Stryker vehicle on Sunday in western Baghdad, not four as it had reported earlier. The total number of American service members killed that day remained at nine, though.
This month, 60 American service members have been killed in Iraq, up from 43 in July and nearly even with the 61 killed in June, according to [Iraq] Coalition Casualty Count, a Web site that tracks military fatalities. In all, more than 2,600 American men and women in uniform have been killed in Iraq since the start of the war, according to the Department of Defense.
The toll for Iraqis is far higher, with an average of more than 100 killed a day in June and July by spreading sectarian violence, according to Iraqi government figures.
Statistics for August have not been released, but the attack at the Shorja market was just the latest attack in a crowded area that seemed aimed at killing as many civilians as possible.
The above is from Damien Cave's "Violence Grows, Killing 52 Iraqis, in Face of Security Plan" in this morning's New York Times. Iraq Coalition Casualty Count currently lists the American military fatalities in Iraq as 62 for the month. Yesterday it was 61. Tuesday, as Mike noted on the same day, it was at 60. On the clashes in Diwaniya Cave notes this: "General Casey said Iraqi forces 'gave much better than they got,' but his assessment could not be verified." Casey's left to the post-playground excuse of "Yeah, well you should have seen the other guy." There is no Plan B, there is no strategy. Not for Iraq. For the American people it appears the same strategy will be used: Distract by starting another war. The way Afghanistan fell off the radar by going to war with Iraq. Apparently the Bully Boy's assuming the "gentleman's C" will be handed out instead of incomplete but it's not college, George.
If that's not clear, from Louise Roug and Julian E. Barnes's "Iraqi Forces Not Ready Yet, U.S. General Says" (Los Angeles Times):
"We'll adjust that as we go," Casey said, referring to American troop levels in the country. "But a lot of that, in fact the future coalition presence, 12 to 18 months from now, is going to be decided by the Iraqi government."Last year, Casey said "significant" troop withdrawals could take place soon after Iraqi elections that December.Casey and other top commanders said at the time that they were prepared to recommend a drawdown of 30,000 troops by the spring, if the election and training of security forces went well.The start of reductions was delayed by an outbreak of civil warfare, but Casey said in May that his "general timeline" was still on track.In June, Casey predicted "gradual reductions" in U.S. troop levels over the following year. But by last month, generals began shelving plans for troop cuts this year and instead ordered extensions of combat tours as violence worsened.
The Bully Boy lacks the will to end the war in Iraq, that's going to have to depend on Congress and citizens. Faced with disaster, Casey wants to push fake bravado ('should have seen the other guy!'). We're lied to over and over (the way this war began, so no suprise) about how things are getting better, how a corner has been turned, and it's not any better, it's only worse each day. Real leadership wouldn't be headed towards the fourth anniversary in seven months and still have no plan other than the one they went in with (the one that has never worked and will not work). But then real leaders don't offer "I read X books!" as though a count replaces comprehension. All these years later, Bully Boy decides to get a book-a-thon reading contest and that's supposed to impress the country. Well, when you've done nothing to help the economy, when you've done nothing to help the people and when war is the only option you know, I guess doing the sort of thing the average fifth grader does is all you have left. Maybe next month he can start a 4H project?
On yesterday's Hilla bombing (the recruiting station), Martha notes Amit R. Paley and Saad Sarhan's "Violence in Iraq Kills 60 As Market, Recruits Hit" (Washington Post):
Bloody sandals and shoes and bits of fabric littered the road. An old woman searching for her child stopped in her tracks when she apparently recognized a piece of his pajamas.
"Oh, my son, my son!" the woman wailed as she pounded her face.
The explosion sparked chaos as looters, including a number of Iraqi army recruits, ransacked cars after drivers fled in fear of further attacks, said Basim Zien of the Hilla traffic police. The police eventually shot at the looters to stop the pillaging, he said.
Police and several recruits blamed the Iraqi army for making the recruits wait outside the base to register instead of allowing them in. Hassanien Jasim, a 24-year-old recruit, said no one enlisting for the army during the rule of Saddam Hussein had to wait in the street the way recruits do now. He said he held apathetic politicians responsible for Wednesday's violence.
"Is it too much for them to take us inside so they can protect us, when though they know that the Iraqi army is targeted?" Jasim said as he lay on a stretcher in the main hospital in Hilla, 60 miles south of Baghdad, while doctors removed ball bearings from his chest. "They don't care about the people."
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