When Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus assumes his duties as the new American commander in Iraq, he will be guided by a new military doctrine on counterinsurgency that makes the security of the population a chief objective.
But a pressing question that is likely to emerge when the Senate takes up his confirmation next week is whether the administration's new Iraq strategy will draw on enough forces to ensure security -- as measured against the general's own guidelines.
War pornographer Michael Gordon fluffs in "In Baghdad, Pressing to Meet, With Iraqi Help, Pentagon’s Own Standard for Force Levels" in this morning's New York Times. The brain is dead, but the war-on's dripping as Gordo pens another. "But a pressing question . . . [is] will [it] draw on enough forces to ensure security"?
Gordo's so hot for the escalation, he sells it like everyone is. A pressing question might be (which is just a prediction -- as opposed to reporting something that actually happened): What makes the escalation a 'plan' or anything 'new' from what the administration has been doing for the last four years?
(Answer? Not a damn thing.)
We're done with Gordo but Alexander Cockburn addresses him on last week's CounterSpin -- sorry. You can use the CounterSpin link to here it. Today, Sarah Olson will be a guest for those curious as to what she'll contradict today, or whether she supports Ehren Watada today or not, whether she's going to say she can't talk about what she's going to do (as she's told almost everyone) or whether she'll say she's not testifying (as she told Laura Flanders on air) . . . For those whose time matters, skip her dance.
Turning to the Los Angeles Times, we'll note a report (credited to the Times staff and wires) on the UN report which the Iraqi government is criticizing (the article notes that at least 60 died yesterday in violence) -- from "Iraq bristles at U.N. report:"
Although not rejecting the casualty figure, government spokesman Ali Dabbagh said the U.N. Assistance Mission report was "not professional or neutral as we would expect from the missions of the international organization. The report was superficial in dealing with several points."
A compilation of Iraqi government figures from three agencies put the number of civilians killed last year at 12,357.
But a Health Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose the information, said 16,000 bodies of victims of violence had been taken to the Baghdad morgue alone last
year and it appeared that the U.N. figure was "about correct."
When asked what the government didn't accept about the report, Dabbagh said, "I am not talking about figures. I am talking about details in the report."
The U.N. report, released Tuesday in Baghdad, also criticized the government's human rights record, raising concern about homosexuals and other vulnerable groups.
Polly notes this from BBC:
Six British soldiers have been hurt after rockets and mortars struck a military base in southern Iraq, the Ministry of Defence has said.
One soldier was seriously wounded while the others received minor injuries in the attack on the Basra Palace camp.
Four soldiers were taken to a field hospital and two received treatment on the spot, a spokeswoman said.
Mia notes the plan re: Iraq that was proposed by Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters and Lynn Woolsey and which doesn't feel is getting enough attention online. (Noting it may also wash away some of the stink of Gordo's war porn.) So from Lee's website:
Lee, Woolsey and Waters Unveil Alternative to President’s Iraq Escalation Plan
New Iraq Legislation Would Bring Troops Home Within Six Months
(Washington, DC) -- Congresswoman Barbara Lee joined with Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chair and Co-Founder of the Out-of-Iraq Caucus, in unveiling new legislation designed to bring about the withdrawal of all U.S. forces currently in Iraq within six months at a press conference on Capitol Hill today.
"In November the American people called on our government to end the occupation and bring our troops home, not to escalate a losing strategy," said Lee. "This legislation offers a rational alternative to the President’s proposed escalation."
The Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act, which is designed as a comprehensive alternative to the Bush administration’s proposed escalation of the Iraq war, would repeal the authorization for the use of force, fully fund a six month withdrawal of U.S. forces and military contractors from Iraq, prohibit permanent military bases in Iraq, provide economic and political aid to the Iraqi government and fully fund the VA Health Care system for all military veterans.
The bill also goes beyond any measure introduced to date, as it sets forth not only a clear plan for withdrawal over a six month timetable from enactment of the bill, but also clarifies U.S. involvement in Iraq following the withdrawal. The bill:
Prohibits any permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq
Accelerates funding for military/contractor training of Iraqi forces
Authorizes wide array of non-military U.S. bilateral and multilateral assistance for reconstruction and reconciliation in Iraq
Prohibits US access to Iraqi oil production prior to the Iraqi government establishing clear rules for foreign ownership and participation
Guarantees health care for U.S. veterans of military operations in Iraq and other conflicts
Creates a bi-partisan joint committee to investigate the process by which the U.S. was led into war under false pretenses and make recommendations on how such a situation can be prevented in the future.
The following is Congresswoman Lee's statement from the press conference (as prepared):
"Last week, the President went before the American people and admitted that mistakes have been made in Iraq and said that he was responsible for them. I expected him to tell us that he planned to rectify these deadly errors by announcing a plan to end the occupation and bring home our troops.
"Instead, he proposed an escalation of his failed policies at precisely the time when the American people are calling for us to end the occupation of Iraq and bring our troops home. He's like the man who finds himself stuck in a hole and decides the best way out is to keep digging.
"The American people oppose this escalation. Members of Congress oppose this escalation. The President's own military advisors oppose this escalation.
"The question that Congress and the American people must now answer is how many people should die so the President can avoid admitting he has staked his presidency and his legacy on an unnecessary war whose implementation his administration has botched at every turn? How many have to die so the President can save face?
"The President said that critics of escalation have a responsibility to offer an alternative, and that is what we are here to do today. We come here not out of a sense of obligation to the President, but out of a sense of obligation to the millions of Americans who registered their rejection of the failed policy in Iraq in November and called for an end the occupation of that country and to bring our brave men and women home.
"The Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act is a comprehensive, rational alternative to the President Bush’s proposed escalation.
"Our bill provides for the full funding of the withdrawal of all U.S. troops and military contractors over a six month timeline.
"This legislation does what the administration has refused to do, namely recognize the situation on the ground for what it is, an occupation and a civil war. The President insists on appealing to patriotic sentiments and fear with talk about victory and defeat in Iraq, but the truth is that you cannot win an occupation, no more than the U.S. can win an Iraqi civil war. The longer we stay there, the worse it gets.
"This legislation also makes a clear statement of policy that we will not maintain permanent military bases in Iraq, or try to exercise control over Iraq's oil resources. We should not permanently occupy Iraq, period.
"In October, the President was asked if he would rule out the possibility of permanent bases, and his refusal to do so only fed the mistrust of the Iraqi public, strengthened the insurgency and fueled the violence on the ground.
"A recent poll found that not only the overwhelming majority of Iraqis want the U.S. to leave, but that the overwhelming majority believes that the U.S. plans to keep permanent bases in Iraq, and that belief is highly correlated with support for attacks on U.S. forces.
"The poll, released by the Program on International Policy Attitudes in late September, found that almost 80 percent of Iraqis believe the US military is "provoking more conflict than it is preventing" and 71 percent want US forces to leave in the next year.
"Nearly 80 percent of Iraqis believe that the US intends to maintain permanent military bases in Iraq, and six in 10 approve of attacks on U.S. forces, an increase from January, when less than half approved of such attacks. According to the poll, "If the US were to commit to withdraw, more than half of those who approve of attacks on US troops say that their support for attacks would diminish."
"Last year, we succeeded in blocking FY 2007 funds from being used to establish permanent military bases, and we will continue to work to block funds, but by introducing this bill we are working to make sure that when our troops come home, they all come home, and that it will be the official policy of this country not to maintain permanent military bases in Iraq or to exercise control over that country's oil resources.
"This legislation also makes good on our nation's promise to the brave men and women who have served in Iraq and elsewhere, by ensuring that the VA Health Care system is fully funded to meet any needs they may have, including mental health needs.
"Finally, once the withdrawal is complete, this legislation provides for the formation of a bipartisan joint committee that will undertake a thorough and final investigation into how our nation came to be misled into this unnecessary war, and make recommendations on how we can prevent such a situation from ever happening again.
"It is time to bring this war and occupation to an end. It is time for military measures to be replaced with diplomacy and engagement with Iraq's neighbors. It is time to take the targets off our troops back and to bring them home. And that is what this legislation does."
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michael r. gordon