Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, June 19, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, a Baghdad bombing results in mass deaths, Iraqi orphans, some Democratic candidates for president meet up and Iraq is one topic so why does a website's editorial [BuzzFlash] hit hard then all of them combined? 
Iraq Veterans Against the War's Adam Kokesh appeared yesterday on Mark Levine's Inside Scoop discussing many topics for the hour.  He explained how he wanted to do reconstruction and looked forward to that before he went to Iraq.  After he had been there awhile:
I realized though that there was a futility in it.  That what we were doing on our small scale may be good for the Iraqis we were dealing with, you know, may be good that there's another clinic there, another school, these are great things that Iraq needs.  But in the scale of things, in the greater scale of things we're imposing martial law on a country and for every insurgent we kill today we piss of so many people in the process the next day we have two to kill.  And what the country really needs is rule of law. And in order to have military civil affairs. . .  in Iraq, we're imposing military law on the country and you can't create a standard rule of law that we take for granted in America with law enforcement, courts and precedent and a stable legal system with a foreign military there imposing martial law. . . .
There was a lot of resentment about that [US remaining].  It was like "Okay you got rid of Saddam, thanks, we'll take it from here." And everything that we tried to step in and do for them was really resented. 
It's an hour long interview, available for online streaming.  On the topic of aspirations and realities, Christina Hamlett (American Chronicle) reviews Plays and Playwrights 2007 and notes that "this anthonlogy is Brendon Bates' Corps Value in which a father's sense of duty to country is challenged when the Marine son he is so proud of for kicking ass in Iraq suddenly announces that he feels the war is unjust and is, therefore, turning AWOL. . . . Plays and Playwrights 2007 is a trade paperback of 492 pages".  Michael Criscuolo (NYTE) discusses the play with Brendon Bates who notes that the question he's raising "is our objective(s) in Iraq worth all this suffering?"
It's a question many ask and it's prompted action.  That includes those like Kokesh who serve and come back to speak out.  It also includes those resisting while still serving (depite the decision of the 'hearing,' Kokesh's service ended the second he was moved to IRR). 
The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
In Baghdad today, a truck bombing has resulted in mass deaths.  It is already the deadliest bombing since April 18th when 191 Iraqis were killed.  Richard Beeston (Times of London) sets the scene: "One of Baghdad's busiest commercial districts shuddered with the impact of the afternoon explosion, which went off in a parking lot near the Kholani mosque, one of Baghdad's best known landmarks.  A huge pall of black smoke obscured the area.  When it cleared the distinctive turquoise dome of the shrine appeared undamaged bu the explosion wreaked havoc in the crowded streets below." BBC observes that the usual Baghdad checkpoints along with mid-day traffic led to traffic jams in the time before the bomb exploded.  Julian E. Barnes and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) note that a house and some shops were destroyed and at least twenty cars were "ablaze" from the bombing.  CBS and AP report that shooting followed the explosion and quote eye witnesses Karim Abdullah stating, "I stopped in shock as I saw the smoke and people on the ground.  I saw two or three men in flames as they were getting out of their car."  AFP reports that, in the aftermath of the bombing, there was a rush to pull people out of burning cars and from underneath the rubble and "[g]roups of women wailed, while others chanted that the explosion was the work of those who blew up a Shiite shrine in the northern city of Samarra last Wednesday."  Al Jazeera notes the death toll to be 78 with 130 injured.  Beeston (Times of London) puts the injured at 200 and observes, "The move was a particular blow to the US military, which had earlier launched a massive military offensive outside Baghdad aimed at disrupting al-Qaeda from carrying out precisely the sort of attack that took place in the capital."  Reuters puts the wounded at 224 (78 for the dead).
CNN provides the following back story: "The mosque damaged in Tuesday's attack houses the tomb of Mohammed al-Khalani, who was the second deputy and messenger of the Mehdi, the 12th imam from the early days of Islam who is revered by Shiites.  The Mehdi is said to have disappeared during the funeral of his father in the 9th century.  Sunnis believe Allah withdrew the Mehdi from the eyes of the people and they are waiting for him to reappear as their leader."  And Simon Tisdall (Guardian of London) notes, "The mosque's imam, Sheikh Saleh al-Haidari, said civilian worshippers had been targeted in the blast as they left afternoon prayers."
Meanwhile, the Diyala province also saw large scale violence today.  John Ward Anderson and Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) report that 10,000 US service members flooed the capital (Baquba) of the province utilizing "helicopters and Bradley Fighting Vehicles".  Julian E. Barnes and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) note that the 'push' meant closed shops and families hiding in their homes while "some Baqubah residents claimed that indirect or aerial attacks that began in advance of the infantry's movement into the city killed some civilians."  Though suspected people are killed and their figures trumpeted, as Jim Muir (BBC) points out, "There was no official acknowledgement of civilian casualties."
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports  2 Baghdad explosion that claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldier (4 more wounded), a Baghdad mortar attack that killed 2 people (19 wounded), and, yesterday, a Basra mortar attack that claimed 3 lives (1 police officer injured). Reuters notes a Tal Afar bombing that claimed the lives of a child and woman and 2 deaths in Iskandariya (1 wounded) from a roadside bombing.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Iraqi police officer Alaa Abdullah Hamdan was shot dead "west of Baghdad today" and, last night, 5 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead outside of Hibhib (16 more wounded). Reuters notes a female college student dead in Mosul. Reuters also reports 35 dead in Nassiriya from two days of fighting "between gunmen loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqi police linked to a rival Shi'ite faction".
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 21corpses discovered in Baghdad.  Minus today's figure, CNN states that the total number of corpses stands at 359 since the start of this month.
Yesterday a Baghdad orphanage made news.  The orphanage was supposed to be serving children with special needs but instead has abused the children.  Interviewed by CBS News Lara Logan, Staff Sgt. Mitchell Gibson explained that, in looking over a wall in central Baghdad, US soldiers saw "multiple bodies laying on the floor of the facility.  They thought they were all dead, so they threw a basketball (to) try and get some attention, and actually one of the kids lifted up their head, tilted it over and just looked and then went back down.  And they said, 'oh, they're alive' and so they went into the building."  BBC reports that there were 24 boys "starved and neglected . . . some near death . . . left naked".
In England, Michael Evans (Times of London) reports on the inquest into the May 2006 helicopter crash noting, "Private Drummond said that just before the helicopter was hit, the Lynx 'lifted as though it was trying to move out of the way. It sort of jerked'.  Corporal Stuart Redmond, another witness, said that he too had seen the helicopter jerk to one side. Lance Corporal Dale Birkin told the coroner that he saw flares being fired before the aircraft burst into flames, indicating that the pilot was trying at the last moment to draw the approaching missile away from the helicopter."   Again, the helicopter was shot down in May of 2006.
In the United States, many Democrats hoping to win their party's nomination for president in 2008 gathered.  John Whitesides (Reuters) reports that Chris Dodd, Mike Gravel and Joe Biden did not attend, however, US House Rep Dennis Kucinich "roused the crowd" (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) while US Senator Barack Obama continues his strange desire to make the case that his 2002 opposition to the illegal war in Iraq was all about fearing that it would last too long.  That's a novel twist and not at all what he was saying in 2004 when, while Jack Ryan was in the race, he was stating that he was opposed to it because it was illegal and unnecessary. Well, let the record show that Obama continues to say this year that he was always just worried the war would drag on and on.  Addressing reality, Nedra Pickler (AP) quotes Bill Richardson stating, "With all due respect to my outstanding Democratic colleagues -- Senators Clinton, Obama, Dodd and Biden -- they all voted for timeline legislation that had loopholes.  Those loopholes allow this president, or any president to leave and undetermined number of troops in Iraq indefinitely.  And this is the same legislation that former Senator Edwards says we should back and back to the president over and over again until he signs it."  Pickler quotes John Edwards who also offered a bit more than Chicken Sop for the Soul and stated of Congress' inaction, "No more we'll-get-around-to-it-next time.  No more taking half a loaf.  No more tomorrow.  For the men and women who are leaving this country to serve in Iraq, there is no tomorrow."
On a similar note, BuzzFlash editorializes on the nature of Democrats and leadership noting:
Polls out this week show that the Democratic Congress is down so low in the dumps that they are basically in the pig slough with Bush. The Dems in power can't seem to understand that their role is to lead the American people, not to become immobilized by the fictional alternative universe manufactured in Rove's laboratory of perfidy.
What happens in such a situation is that the Dem leadership regularly leaves our nation's wounded heroes (on the homefront) on the political battlefield as the Dems in Congress retreat in fear from the right wing volleys. That means people like Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson, Richard Clarke, the top retired Pentagon generals critical of the war, ex-intelligence officers, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and so many, many others are left high and dry to fend for themselves.
And the Congressional Dems have pretty much given up on bringing our heroes in Iraq home so that they don't continue to get killed for lies, vanity, egotism and profiteering.
It is, indeed, a serious sign of weakness when you leave your wounded heroes behind. That sort of behavior doesn't go over well with the American public -- and it shouldn't.

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