The new U.S. commander in Iraq acknowledged Thursday that U.S.-led forces cannot protect all Iraqis from "thugs with no soul" who are bent on reigniting sectarian warfare and derailing a major security crackdown.
In his first news conference since taking over last month, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus said he shared "the horror and the sorrow and the sadness" at seeing more than 100 Shiite Muslim pilgrims killed Tuesday by two suicide bombers who mingled in the town of Hillah with throngs heading for a religious commemoration in the nearby holy city of Karbala.
What he did not offer was a strategy for dealing with such attacks, underscoring a major dilemma facing U.S. and Iraqi forces as they carry out what has been described as a last-ditch effort to curb the deadly civil war.
"Some sensational attacks inevitably will continue to take place, though every effort will be made to reduce their numbers," Petraeus told journalists gathered in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.
The above is from Alexandra Zavis' "U.S. says it can't protect every Iraqi" (Los Angeles Times).
Martha notes Ernesto Londono and Thomas E. Ricks' "Petraeus Says Boost in Troops May Be Needed Past Summer" (Washington Post) which covers the fact that not only has Petraues upped the escalation numbers but he's dropped Casey's talk of "the summer, late summer" when the supposed, alleged accomplishments of the latest crackdown version will be visible.
Marcia notes Stefan Steinberg's "Increasing numbers of US soldiers refuse to serve in Iraq" (World Socialist Web) which recounts Agustin Aguayo's reasons for resisting (in the excerpt, more is covered in the article):
On Tuesday, March 6, US soldier Agustin Aguayo was convicted on charges of desertion by an American military court in Würzburg, Germany. He was sentenced to eight months’ detention in a military prison. He was also given a dishonourable discharge from the army and stripped of pay and benefits. The US army prosecutor had originally pleaded that Aguayo be locked away for two years.
Aguayo, a 35-year-old American citizen from Los Angeles, was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. In 2002, he signed up for military duty and was one of many Mexican Americans who were deployed to Iraq. In the course of his basic training, however, Aguayo realised he was opposed to war, and in February 2004, applied for a discharge from the army on the basis of being a conscientious objector.
His appeal was ignored, and in the same year, he was sent to serve a one-year tour of duty as a combat medic to Tikrit in Iraq. Since 2004, Aguayo has continually sought permission for a discharge from the army on the basis of his opposition to the war.
When his unit was ordered to return to Iraq for a second tour of duty in early September last year, Aguayo decided he could not obey the order with a clear conscience. After nearly three years of struggling with the US Army to be recognised as a conscientious objector, Agustin Aguayo went absent without leave on September 1, 2006, to avoid his unit's deployment to Iraq. One day later, on September 2, 2006, he turned himself over to the military authorities.
Instead of facing a court-martial, however, his commanding officers insisted that he would be transferred to Iraq--even if army personnel had to forcefully put him on the plane--i.e., with shackles or handcuffs. Aguayo then fled his military base in Germany, and with the help of German anti-war activists, returned to California. He remained in hiding until September 26, 2006, and then, following a press conference in Los Angeles, once again turned himself over to military authorities.
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