Sunday, October 29, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

There are three things wrong with the current policy in Iraq.
Occupation, occupation and occupation.
Foreign occupation is the reason why over 90% of Iraqis want the Americans to leave their country. It is the reason why nearly 50% of Iraqis believe that it is justifiable to shoot American troops and why nearly 70% of attacks are on occupation forces. Representative John Murtha was correct when he said, "We are inciting the problem;" our presence is a lightening rod for violence.
Bush's promise to establish security in Baghdad is foolish and doomed to failure. Security cannot be achieved under occupation because the foreign troops are perceived as the enemy. This is not hard to grasp. We need only to imagine how we would react if Iraqi soldiers were maintaining checkpoints or arresting our people on the streets of America.
There's no point in recriminations. There will be plenty of time to examine what went wrong after American forces are withdrawn from the theater. But certainly there have been events which galvanized Iraqis against the occupation; the destruction of Falluja and the abuses at Abu Ghraib are perhaps on top on the list.
More important, we must recognize where we are now in a conflict that is progressively intensifying and will not let up until the occupation ends.
The security plan for Baghdad is short-sighted and will not succeed. We already know that many of the Iraqis feel threatened by foreign troops on their streets and that a considerable number of the resistance fighters live in Baghdad. They are Baghdadis, this is their home. They are not leaving.

The above is from Mike Whitney's "The Charnel House of Baghdad" (CounterPunch) and this was what Lewis was attempting to get highlighted on Thursday (the link left the post open and turned the text copied and pasted in the e-mail into gibberish). It is as important as Lewis said so make a point to read it in full. At a time when talk of 'strategy' passes for critiques, Whitney's addressing reality. But, noting a comment by Charlie in his e-mail, at least even those who want to jerk off to strategy or doing more than "Go Vote!" coverage. Charlie notes that he's never missed an election of any form. He's a bit insulted that so many supposed news organizations and outlets are under the impression that they need to keep reminding their apparently informed audiences to vote-vote-vote. Charlie says he's not sure he'll be able to make it "through another week of this." Those with similar thoughts, should check out "'Independent' media?" and "Oh, that 'campus' beat" at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Those wanting something more than puff pieces and testimonials, should check out Informed Dissent on Pacifica. Use the links on the left, I'm tired, it's late and there's no telling how long it will be before Blogger/Blogspot goes out again. (Oh, here's one: Informed Dissent. It is airing on Houston's Pacifica, I believe on Mondays, KPFA as -- I think -- part of The Saturday Talkies with Kris Welch and I'm sure elsewhere as well.)

The Third Estate Sunday Review has all content posted now (and you'll see the two listed above in the list below because I'm too tired to remove them):

A Note to Our Readers
Editorial: Three Little Words
TV: Kidnapped by the Water Cooler Set
Tina Turner: A retrospective
'Independent' media?
Oh, that 'campus' beat
13 Things You Can't Tell By Looking at Them (Movies)
Did war resister Kyle Snyder return to the US Saturday?
Patricia Heaton's Pep Talk (parody)
Gold Star of the Week: The Progressive
MyTV's Fascist House
So what's up?
Reminder, Kat's site is still active

The following community sites have updated since Friday morning:

Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
Kat's Korner (of The Common Ils) (Kat is still in Ireland. Guest posting will continue while she's out of the country)
and Wally of The Daily Jot

Having taken care of community business, back to Iraq. James in Brighton notes this passage "from The Daily Mirror's news roundup:"

TONY Blair faces a damaging Commons defeat tomorrow over the Government's handling of the Iraq war. His foreign policy record came under fierce attack and now Welsh and Scottish Nationalist MPs are to call for an inquiry into the entire Iraq campaign which could lead to a revolt from dozens of anti-war Labour MPs. A leaked Cabinet memo said any future military action overseas should avoid fuelling terrorism. It is being seen as an admission that the 2003 invasion of Iraq have increased terrorism.

Blair was hoping to stage manage his exit as prime minister, now it appears it may not be easy as his handlers thought. Their leaked schedule of fawning didn't include for criticism of the war. Silly Blair and handlers, the war drags on.

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 2798. Right now? 2812. Fourteen more since last week and the number will only continue to rise until the words "Troops Home Now" are put into action.

Instead? Nour al-Maliki was attacked in Baghdad. CNN reports that a guard was wounded when the puppet of the occupation got attacked today. They also note 13 police candidates ("employees") were "kidnapped and killed" in Basra (we'll get back to Basra), seven people were kidnapped and killed from buses in Baghdad, two people were killed by a car bomb and 31 corpses were discovered there. Reuters notes seven corpses were discovered elsewhere in Iraq today, three people were shot dead, that six people were killed and ten were wounded from bombs throughout Iraq and "U.S. helicopters struck Dhuluiya, killing 11 people, including three brothers, and wounding six on Saturday, according to police and the Tikrit Joint Coordination Centre."

Back to Basra, Polly notes Thomas Harding's "British to evacuate consulate in Basra after mortar attacks" (The Telegraph of London):

The British consulate in Basra will evacuate its heavily defended building in the next 24 hours over concerns for the safety of its staff.
Despite a large British military presence at the headquarters in Basra Palace, a private security assessment has advised the consul general and her staff to leave the building after experiencing regular mortar attacks in the last two months.

The move will be seen as a huge blow to progress in Iraq and has infuriated senior military commanders. They say it sends a message to the insurgents that they are winning the battle in pushing the British out of the southern Iraqi capital, where several British soldiers have died and dozens have been injured.

British? Mortar attacks? Evacuate? It all seems so familiar, doesn't it? Are you thinking Amara? From October 20th's snapshot noting the then current events in Amara as well as British troops evacuating their base there in August:

Starting in Amara. On August 24th, came news that too much violence, too many attacks, led British troops to exit Amara quickly. Spinning would continue August 25th and then it was largely forgotten. Today, actions in Amara have reminded why British troops left and left so quickly. Al Jazeera reports that "overnight clashes left 15 dead" and that the fighting continued today "after police arrested a member of cleric Maqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army on suspicion of killing a local intelligence officer in a bomb attack". Christopher Bodeen (AP) reports that the town has been "seized" and that it's "one of the boldest acts of defiance yet by the country's powerful, unofficial armies, witnesses and police said." CNN reports that 16 people have died and 90 wounded. They also speak with British military flack Charlie Burbridge who stated that between 200 and 300 people attacked two police stations in Amara Thursday. Christine Hauser (New York Times) reports: "The nearest British troops are now stationed more than 20 miles from the city" and that other police stations and "state facilities in Amara were attacked." On the subject of British troops, AFP reports: "A British battle group of 600 troops backed by attack jets and armoured vehicles is standing by to intervene if Iraqi forces need support" according to Charlie Burbridge (so take it for what it is worth).

Amara? Basra? That's the reality of Iraq. And that's the reality you don't hear about from the Bully Boy as he continues to sell his illegal war (aided by the media). It's why (swiping from The Third Estate Sunday Review), Art Jester, of The Lexington Herald-Leader (of Kentucky), reports that John Brady Kiesling, a US diplomate in the US Foreign Service from 1983 until 2003, has stated, the illegal war is a failure because "we, as outsiders, were not legitimate to the Iraqis." But you only hear that talk from those who've left the US government (like Ann Wright). It's election time and even brave voices dummy up. And the US military?

While England seems to have sense (Amara and now Basra), the US military is inflaming a section of the capital. Lloyd notes John Ward Anderson and Ellen Knickmeyer's "Twofold Operation Seals Sadr City" (Washington Post):

American military police backed by Iraqi troops maintained their cordon of Baghdad's Sadr City on Sunday, manning barricades and checkpoints in and around the Shiite slum in an operation to find a kidnapped U.S. soldier and to capture the man considered Iraq's most notorious death squad leader.
The soldier, an Iraqi American translator whose name has not been released, has been missing for six days. He was abducted by armed men while making an unauthorized visit to see relatives in the Karrada neighborhood of central Baghdad last Monday.

It may be in the article, it's not in Lloyd's highlight (and I don't have the time to pull up the article), but it's being reported that the missing soldier secretly married an Iraqi women months before he disappeared. That's being reported. We're only noting it because the reports source it the story to his family. If they are not saying that, you won't see it mentioned here again.

Since we've noted it, I'm looking for a source. Here's Michael Luo and Qais Mizher's "Missing soldier secretly married Iraqi" (International Herald Tribune):

BAGHDAD The missing American soldier who has been the subject of an intensive manhunt in the capital since being kidnapped by gunmen outside the heavily protected Green Zone last week was, at the time, visiting an Iraqi woman whom he had secretly married three months ago, his in-laws said.
They identified the soldier as Ahmed Qusai al-Taei, 41, and showed visitors a wedding photo of him and his new bride, Israa Abdul-Satar, 26, a college student, as well as pictures of the couple in Egypt for their honeymoon.
They also described in detail how members of the Mahdi Army of the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, led by a local commander known as Abu Rami, came to the wife's home in central Baghdad last Monday and dragged Taei away.
"They were saying, 'He's an American journalist,'" said his mother-in-law, who asked that she be identified by only her nickname, Um Omar, because of fears of reprisals. "We were saying, 'No, he's an Iraqi.'"
Taei, an Iraqi-American, was actually a translator for the American military, something his wife's relatives said they did not know until after his kidnapping.

We'll close with Pru's highlight, Lindsey German's "You've lost in Iraq, Blair: get the troops out now" (The Socialist Worker) which again addresses the three words needed:

"There are only bad options for the coalition from now on," said Sir Jeremy Greenstock this week. He was the deputy ruler of Iraq for much of the occupation and has defended British policy down the line.
When he and the head of the British army say things are getting worse, you can bet the situation is a disaster.
The warmongers are more isolated than ever. The worsening conditions in Iraq are leading them to fall out among themselves.
Some are saying that troops should be withdrawn from Iraq in order to bolster the occupation in Afghanistan. But that too is a war the occupiers can’t win.
Meanwhile opinion polls this week show that a clear majority here want British troops out of Iraq. One poll in The Independent shows 62 percent of those asked want the troops out as soon as possible, and in a Guardian poll 61 percent want them out by the year's end.
The anti-war movement argued five years ago - when it was formed - that invading and occupying countries to supposedly defeat terrorism would be counterproductive.
These wars would not prevent terrorism, but increase it. They would not win the hearts and minds of Afghans and Iraqis, but would produce resistance to the occupiers. They would not deal with the underlying causes of terrorism, but would be a recruiting sergeant for the terrorists.
The world today is more dangerous than before, far more people have died, and Britain and the US are more hated than five years ago. The casualty rate of US troops is shooting up in Iraq, and British troops are under threat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The recent Lancet report demonstrated deaths in Iraq on a scale undreamt of when the warmongers told us they would bring peace to that country.
Foreign secretary Margaret Beckett and Tony Blair say we have to "keep our nerve" in Iraq, as if we were talking about a trapeze act in the circus. The truth is the only reason we don’t withdraw is to save the face of the two arch warmongers, George Bush and Tony Blair.
We can't allow their policies to continue - they have been a disaster for the world.
That means we have to pull the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and to accept that it is up to their people to run their own countries, not for the Western imperialists to determine what is and isn't an acceptable government.
More than that, we need to change the world so that its wealth and resources go to dealing with the economic and political inequalities that exist, not to making war against some of the poorest countries. That's why the movement against war and the fight for a better world are so closely connected.
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