Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Other Items

United States Army Lieutenant Ehren Watada is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq. In June, Watada refused to board a bus near Tacoma, Washington with fellow soldiers who were deployed to Iraq. Watada joined the military in 2003.
"I really wanted to serve my country to defend it against terrorism," Watada said. But he says his patriotism was put to the test as Operation Iraqi Freedom continued. He refused deployment after accusing President Bush of misleading the country about Iraqi weapons and violating the Constitution. The Army has charged him with several crimes that could land him in prison for six years.
[. . .]
Bob Watada attended a Veterans For Peace meeting Tuesday night in St. Louis. Ehren has become a poster child for the anti-war movement and Bob is traveling nationwide defending his son. "He's giving his life and taking this stand so the war can stop sooner," said Bob Watada.

The above is from Cordell Whitlock's "Father Traveling Country Defending His Son For Refusing Iraqi Deployment" (KSDK). Bob Watada (father of Ehren Watada) and his wife Rosa Sakanishi (Ehren's step-mother) finish this tour this Friday, the 17th -- a full schedule can be found here (there will be an event Sunday the 19th in Honolulu). They close out this speaking tour in North Carolina and Georgia.

Meanwhile Xinua reports:

"Fadiyah Muhammad al-Taie, and her driver were killed by gunmen in the morning in the Zahraa neighborhood in eastern Mosul City," Brigadier Sa'id al-Juboury from the city police told Xinhua.
Taie was gunned down on her way to her office. The paper al- Masar she worked for publishes in Mosul, Juboury added.

And having met with the laughable Iraq Study Group, Bully Boy, Robin Wright (Washington Post) reports, is now launching his own group. Exit strategy is not an option except for Operation Enduring Unpopular (Bully Boy) who is in Vietnam for trade talks. As Bully Boy and those around him refuse to face reality (troops home now), the US military announces: "One Soldier assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division and three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Tuesday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province."

Added: DK notes two things from Der Spiegel. First "'Iraq Is Not Winnable':"

What happens next in the Middle East? SPIEGEL spoke to Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, to find out. A widely respected foreign policy expert, Haass warns that the Middle East could become dangerous for years to come.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Haass, were the election results a message from the voters to President George W. Bush that it's time for US troops to be pulled out of Iraq?
Haass: The mid-term election is a signal of widespread popular dissatisfaction with the course of the Iraq war. But it should not be read as a signal of support for a particular alternative. Nor will it lead most Democrats in Congress to call for a quick and complete withdrawal of US forces. Instead, it will reinforce the likelihood that American policy will be adjusted. We can anticipate force reductions and redeployments and possibly a greater emphasis on diplomacy, both within Iraq and with Iraq's neighbors, including Iran and Syria.
SPIEGEL: Meaning that the Bush Era has come to an end?
Haass: There is something to what you say, in that Iraq was a war of choice that proved to be much more difficult and expensive than Americans bargained for. As a result, the public is pushing back. However, it is not just premature but wrong to say the Bush era is over. The president will be president for another 800 days. He will be able to take initiatives, especially in foreign policy given that our system favors executive leadership. He also may have a better chance to fashion a consensus on immigration reform. And unanticipated crises almost always provide a president with the opportunity to do dramatic things.
SPIEGEL: Can you remember a time when US foreign policy was confronted with so many challenges and difficulties?
Haass: The short answer is: No. During the Cold War, the United States faced a single challenge that was greater than any we face now. But I can't think of a time when the United States has faced so many difficult challenges at once. What makes it worse is we are facing them at a time when we are increasingly stretched militarily. We are divided politically. We are stretched also economically, and there is a good deal of anti-Americanism in the world. It's a very bad combination.

So that's the view from the think tank. Second item is an interview with an Iraq official.
From "'We Will not Be Able to Survive Much Longer'" (Der Spiegel):

Iraq's health minister, Ali al-Shameri, 44, discusses the effects of the US elections on his country.
SPIEGEL: The Republicans have lost the majority in Congress and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has resigned. Was this good news for Iraq?
Shameri: The Americans are the reason for the disaster in our country. Rumsfeld made many mistakes, and we are pleased to see him go. The Americans understand nothing about Iraq. They are not protecting us, but just themselves. The Democrats' victory will make things easier for us.

SPIEGEL: What should change?
Shameri: The Iraqi government must be able to act as a sovereign body. We want to deploy our police and military forces the way we think is right. So far we have always had to ask the Americans. Personally, I would have no objection to their leaving the country tomorrow. In any event, in the future we must tie the presence of their troops to conditions.
SPIEGEL: What are they?
Shameri: The Americans must leave the cities and withdraw to their bases. They should only come when they are needed and called for.
SPIEGEL: The Sunni minority is begging the Americans to stay. They are afraid that the Shiites will either drive them out or kill them.
Shameri: The ordinary citizens, including the Sunnis, want the Americans to go. But those in the government and in political groups are now worried about their jobs. They get their support from Arab countries. As a result, more and more suicide bombers are coming into our country.

DK notes that the "ordinary citizens" view didn't make "it into any of the American papers I look at online. Did I miss it?" No, I don't think so. From "Bully Boy plays 'Flee on My Rums-fled'" (last Thursday):

As you read coverage of Bully Boy playing "Flee on my Rumsfled" (Laura can explain it to him), notice what's missing from the coverage: Iraqis. Oh you can get officials and even a garmet peddler or two. But polls of Iraqis have consistently demonstrated that the overwhelming sentiment is foreign troops out.
Strangely, none of those voices are quoted in the coverage members are e-mailing about . . . . Members are surprised (Erika's furious) by this. Why do you supposed that is?
It could be the curse of the embed -- failure to move freely in Iraq. It could be the overreliance on 'official sources' which goes far beyond the New York Times. Or it could be that we're not being informed, we're being manipulated.

One of the few exceptions (and we noted it as such last Thursday) John F. Burns and Michael Luo's "In Iraq, New Calculations of the U.S. Role" (New York Times) who were able to actually find an Iraqi who could voice what so many (as reflected consistently in polling of Iraqis) feel, Sadoon al-Zubaidi who stated, "The Americans came to Iraq three and a half years ago to do something good for Iraqis, to free them from dictatorship. That has failed. The Americans helped, encouraged and planted civil disorder and sectarianism. Now, I would like to see all American troops taken out. I’d like to see all the reins of power placed in Iraqi hands."

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