More Iraqi civilians were killed in October than in any other month since the American invasion in 2003, a report released by the United Nations on Wednesday said, a rise that underscored the growing costs of Iraq's deepening sectarian war.
According to the report, 3,709 Iraqis were killed in October, up slightly from the previous high in July, and an increase of about 11 percent from the number in September.
The figures, which include totals from the Baghdad morgue and hospitals and morgues across the country, have become a central barometer of the war here and a gauge of the progress of the American military as it tries to bring stability to this exhausted country.
A dangerous trend has surfaced: Sixty-five percent of all deaths in Baghdad were categorized as unindentified corpses, the signature of militias, who kidnap, kill and throw away bodies at a rate that now outstrips the slaughter inflicted by suicide bombers.
[. . .]
The figures illustrate in stark percentages just how deeply the killing has sunk into Iraqi society.
The above is from Sabrina Tavernise's "Civilian Death Toll Reaches New High in Iraq, U.N. Says" in this morning's New York Times. And today, Thanksgiving, the US military announces: "Three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 diedWednesday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al AnbarProvince."
On a related topic, there was an idiotic article in the Times yesterday that Trina's going to grab this weekend. Those who saw it, know it goes with the above. Marci, Paul and Micah e-mailed about it. I checked with Trina this morning and she saw it and is planning to address it.
I think it says less about who they think they're speaking to and more about themselves. Other than that, I'll wait for Trina's commentary.
Lloyd notes Lolita C. Baldor's "Marine Corps May Need to Grow, General Says" (via Washington Post):
The Marine Corps may need to grow to sustain deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan without sacrificing needed training or putting undue stress on the corps, the new Marine commandant said yesterday.
At a breakfast meeting with reporters, Gen. James T. Conway also warned that it could take years to adequately train and equip the Iraqi security forces -- longer, perhaps, "than the timeline that we probably feel . . . our country will support."
"This is tough work. It doesn't happen overnight," and patience by the American people will be needed, he said.
It doesn't happen overnight, or three years later. Or ever. It hasn't happened, it won't happen. But some have problems with reality. Which is why the illegal war will hit the four year mark in March.
Skip e-mails to note the silence on Ehren Watada in "your country" (United States). He notes that the United Kingdom covered Watada (we noted Alex Massie's "It was my duty to refuse to go to Iraq, says first American army officer facing court martial" yesterday) and notes that in an article about Bully Boy and the puppet meeting up in Jordan next week, "Bush to meet Maliki as diplomacy gathers pace," The Sydney Morning Herald notes Watada:
The first American army officer to face a court-martial for refusing to serve in Iraq said it was his duty to recognise and refuse "illegal" orders.
Lieutenant Ehren Watada, 28, faces four charges over his refusal to join his unit in Iraq. Watada said said before a pre-trial hearing that his refusal had been justified by "a surge in popular resistance to the war, as evidenced by the recent [congressional] elections".
"The army seems intent on making an example of me," he added.
Skip thinks it's "embarrassing, no, disgusting, how the American media, 'big and small,' has no interest in this story." I don't think anyone in the community would disagree with that and Ruth's Report that went up Monday night was not planned. The planned report, which she'll have today or tomorrow, was going to address an aspect of this topic. When she saw the news that Watada would be holding a press conference on Tuesday morning, she wanted to weigh in (and did a wonderful job) before she dealt with an issue of accountability. It won't be pretty. But it's not supposed to be. And we shouldn't give passes to those who self-promote but don't bother to cover the issue. As she discussed it this weekend (her plans for the report), it's going to focus on one voice. She may expand on that, due to Agustin Aguayo, but it sounds like it will be worth reading. Ruth doesn't have to run anything by me for approval, her report is her space. She wanted to check to see, before she started thinking about the topic in depth, if we were grabbing it at The Third Estate Sunday Review for last Sunday's edition? Since we weren't she called dibs on it.
On the topic of The Third Estate Sunday Review, if you use a work computer to visit and have guidelines re: language, do not go there for Ava and my review this weekend. We'll probably be using the f-word. Time permitting, we'll go through and clean it up some before it's posted but "time permitting" is rarely possible. I believe I know most members that have to watch for that and Jess did a heads up e-mail earlier this morning to them. (An edited version will be e-mailed Sunday to those members.) If you're someone who didn't receive an e-mail about that but it does effect you, please use one of the private e-mail addresses and we'll add to your list. In addition to the f-word, we'll probably use quite a few other words. We haven't written it yet, but we're pretty sure it will trend that way. We may also include the question we asked a friend (who was once involved with someone on one of the two shows we're reviewing). So it will probably be something of concern for those who surf at work. You have been warned.
We'll close with Cindy's highlight. First though, note the qualifer at the end (use link) -- "that
there is no reason to believe that these US gestures are anything more than probes". This is from Tom Hayden's "U.S. Retreat from Iraq? The Secret Story" (Common Dreams):
According to credible Iraqi sources in London and Amman, a secret story of America's diplomatic exit strategy from Iraq is rapidly unfolding. The key events include:First, James Baker told one of Saddam Hussein's lawyers that Tariq Aziz, former deputy prime minister, would be released from detention by the end of this year, in hope that he will negotiate with the US on behalf of the Baath Party leadership.
The discussion recently took place in Amman, according to the Iraqi paper al-Quds al-Arabi. Second, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice personally appealed to the Gulf Cooperation Council in October to serve as intermediaries between the US and armed Sunni resistance groups [not including al Qaeda], communicating a US willingness to negotiate with them at any time or place. Speaking in early October, Rice joked that if then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "heard me now, he would wage a war on me fiercer and hotter than he waged on Iraq," according to an Arab diplomat privy to the closed session. Third, there was an "unprecedented" secret meeting of high-level Americans and representatives of "a primary component of the Iraqi resistance" two weeks ago, lasting for three days. As a result, the Iraqis agreed to return to the talks in the next two weeks with a response for the American side, according to Jordanian press leaks and al-Quds al-Arabi. Fourth, detailed email transmissions dated November 16 reveal an active American effort behind the scenes to broker a peace agreement with Iraqi resistance leaders, a plot that could include a political coup against Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
The plan is for an evening entry ("evening", my time zone). We'll grab another section of Tavernise's report for that. (Where she speaks with an Iraqi women.) In addition to that, Isaiah's latest comic goes up as soon as this posts and Ruth will either post this evening or tomorrow with her latest.
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