Tuesday, June 26, 2007

G.I. Gordo

War is hell, hell! Hell on the finger tips and thesaurus, judging by War Pornographer Michael Gordon's latest outpouring. In his front page article ("For G.I.'s in Iraq, a Harrowing Day In a Neighborhood Set to Explode," New York Times), G.I. Gordo goes to the wall, to the wall, through the fire, to come up with . . . verbs such as "scampering" -- used to describe a soldier checking for explosives, believe it or not. Nothing can stop him, nothing will stop him, others have fallen, but he remains on the move . . .

Watch as he doesn't bat an eye, doesn't even flinch, as he winds down with:

The next morning, an M1 tank arrived. The neighborhood reverberated with enormous booms as soldiers blasted the front row of homes with antitank missiles, artillery and tank fire. The platoon's advance had been stymied for a day, but there were no American casualties and more bombs had been cleared out.

And, more Iraqis made homeless as a result of destroying a "front row of" empty "homes with antitank missiles, artillery and tank fire" but Gordo barely has time to catch his breath.

Hut-two-hut-two, he's in search of a human interest angle he can play cute with and, by God, he will find it! Which he does, comparing three soldiers surveying a street through a "blown-out window" to people "watching a large-screen television."

He'd done it. He felt a giddy high -- higher than anyone had ever soared except possibly Thomas Friedman whose entire output these days could be described as make-cute work. He sighed and, yes, he remembered . . . .

Gordo. On the floor. At the Times headquarters in NYC. Judith Miller strolls back and forth in front of him as she forces the obviously out of shape Gordo to do push ups.

Judith Miller: Pain is your friend, your ally, it will tell you when you are seriously injured, it will keep you awake and angry, and remind you to finish the job and get the hell home. But you know the best thing about pain?

Gordo: Ma'am, no, ma'am!

Judith Miller: It lets you know you're career's not dead yet!

Shaking his head, Gordo remembered where he was and that he was the Ultimate War Pornographer. He had a war to sell, damn it, a war to sell! So many had fallen by the wayside, like Miller, and this new crowd didn't give two s--ts about it one way or another. But Gordo believed, he believed!

Type, Gordo, type! He urged himself on.

The final decision was to pound the homes fronting the street and to declare the rest of the homes in the section off limits until explosive experts could be brought in.

He had done it! He had sold the illegal war yet again. He tugged on his dog tacks, well, his locket. He opened it and looked at the photo of Judith Miller in fatigues. Judy . . .

I remember holdin on to you
All them long and lonely nights I put you through
Somewhere in there I'm sure I made you cry
But I can't remember if we said goodbye

He woke up, blurry eyed, tired and with his y-fronts stuck to his groin. That was going to require a quick and painful pull to set free. Possibly due to the smarting pain of that tug, Gordo offers one more ("U.S. Plan to Trap and Kill Insurgents in Baquba Fell Short of Expectations, Officer Says"):

Beyond that, some insurgents appeared to have been tipped off, he said. "Then we have reason to believe that some left immediately prior to the operation," he said. "How they got that word I don't know."

Sure John F. Burns' "Top Targets Fled Before U.S. Push, Commander Says" covered that Saturday but Gordo had a war wound! He wondered if the medic had an ointment and how long before his War-On would be back in action? War is hell, Gordo told himself, hell.

"I miss you, Judy," he sobbed.

Need some reality as the credits scroll for Gordo?

Try Lloyd's highlight, Ann Scott Tyson's "General: Iraqi Forces Far From Self-Sufficiency" (Washington Post):

Iraqi forces will not be ready to assume full responsibility for their nation's security for years, and the U.S. military should be cautious in planning to reduce its 157,000-strong force in Iraq given past setbacks, the American general in charge of the teams that advise Iraqi forces warned yesterday.
Brig. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard, commander of the Iraq Assistance Group, said "it'll take years" for Iraqi security forces to become self-reliant in protecting the country from internal and foreign threats. He suggested that it will be at least two years before the forces, which number 348,000, can "fully take control" of the situation in Iraq.

And Martha notes Sudarsan Raghavan's "Iraqi Youth Face Lasting Scars of War" (Washington Post):

Iraq's conflict is exacting an immense and largely unnoticed psychological toll on children and youth that will have long-term consequences, said social workers, psychiatrists, teachers and aid workers in interviews across Baghdad and in neighboring Jordan.
"With our limited resources, the societal impact is going to be very bad," said Haider Abdul Muhsin, one of the country's few child psychiatrists. "This generation will become a very violent generation, much worse than during Saddam Hussein's regime."
Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, 4 million Iraqis have fled their homes, half of them children, according to the United Nations Children's Fund. Many are being killed inside their sanctuaries -- at playgrounds, on soccer fields and in schools. Criminals are routinely kidnapping children for ransom as lawlessness goes unchecked. Violence has orphaned tens of thousands.

Still in the real world, where death and destruction don't provide sticky dreams for anyone but Gordo, Keesha notes Kevin Zeese's "Bush Talks Long-Term Stay in Iraq and More Troops Die" (OpEdNews):

And, if Iraqis are watching U.S. politics closely they may have heard Ted Koppel report on NPR that Hillary Clinton’s top foreign policy adviser told him that Sen. Clinton will not remove the troops in her first term or her second term. Further, he reported that no leading Democratic candidate is likely to remove the troops. Thus, there a widening disconnect between Iraqi government officials and the U.S. political leadership.
This open talk of the "Korea Model" also comes at a time when more and more troops are going AWOL, speaking out against the war and refusing to return to Iraq or follow orders in Iraq. More than a year ago 72% of the troops said the U.S. should withdraw in a year, now more and more troops are becoming vocal in their opposition to the war and their lack faith in their commander in chief.
The military recognizes that troops who speak out against the war are a serious problem for them because they are among the most powerful spokespersons against the war. Vets strike at the heart of the fund the 'we must support the troops' arguments of Washington politicians. At a meeting last week to plan escalating actions against the war by vets, the Chairman of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Garret Reppenhagen made the point "Funding the war is killing the troops." The Marines have already taken action against one Marine, Adam Kokesh. The Marines were criticized by Veterans of Foreign Wars, a vet group with 2.5 million members, for threatening the free speech rights of vets. The Marines did discipline Kokesh, giving him a general discharge under honorable conditions, but backed away from taking away any of his veterans benefits.
Two other vets who are leaders in the anti-war movement are also being threatened with discipline. Marine Vet Liam Madden, who while in the service was a co-founder of Appeal for Redress -- a group organizing active duty troops who oppose the war, is being threatened with discipline for saying that the Iraq War was a "war of aggression under Nuremberg principles" and that "war crimes are being committed in Iraq." And, former Air Force Chaplain, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, who has been participating in demonstrations in Washington, DC and around the country, is being threatened with discipline for "conduct unbecoming of an officer" for his anti-war activity -- even though he has been out of the service for four years. Both officers welcome the attention of the military and plan to escalate their anti-war activities.
The public in the U.S. is getting more strongly opposed to the war, the Iraqi political leadership is demonstrating its’ opposition to the occupation and more and more U.S. troops are speaking out. The disconnect between the U.S. political leadership and these key stakeholders is becoming more and more evident. This occupation is becoming more difficult to justify.

Which makes War Pornographer Gordo's work all the more difficult. (Lyrics were from Steve Earle's "Goodbye" -- recorded by Pretenders for G.I. Jane, and the Gordo-Miller dialogue spoofed a scene from G.I. Jane as well.)

On the Baghdad hotel bombing, Mohammed al Dulaimy and Hanny Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) demonstrate that some domestic outlets can do more than repeat US military talking points. From their "A U.S. ally in Iraq is murdered" (McClatchy Newspapers):

Bitterly disappointed with the Americans and facing growing anger from his constituents, al Gaood embarked on a life on the run. He hopped from Baghdad hotels to Anbar retreats to neighboring Jordan, always traveling with a phalanx of trusted bodyguards.
Whether he was an opportunist eager for the rewards of American friendship, a patriot dedicated to cleansing al Qaida from his area or both, al Gaood didn't abandon his tribal strategy for restoring calm to Anbar. In November 2006, about 18 months after his initial offer to the Americans, al Gaood was instrumental in the formation of the Anbar Salvation Council.

Lastly, NPR and AP report:

Sen. Richard Lugar, one of the Senate's most senior Republicans and a respected voice on foreign affairs, has broken ranks with the Bush administration over the issue of Iraq, calling for the U.S. to downsize its military role there.
Lugar (R-IN) said the White House strategy on Iraq is not working and that the U.S. should draw down its troop commitment there.
The unusually blunt assessment comes as a surprise. Most Republicans have said they were willing to wait until September to see if Bush's recently ordered troop buildup in Iraq was working.

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