Monday, June 25, 2007

NYT: 'Gains' doubtful in the long term

Iraq faced more troubles on the military and political fronts on Sunday: some American commanders expressed doubts about the ability of Iraqi troops to hold the gains made in areas north of the capital last week, and two Sunni Arab blocs boycotted a Parliament session, demanding the reinstatement of the speaker.

The above is from Alissa J. Rubin's "U.S. Generals Doubt Ability of Iraqi Army to Hold Gains" in this morning's New York Times. The Iraqi forces remain undertrained, continue to have a high turnover and continue to have issues of conflict that include but go far beyond being asked to fight against other Iraqis. Also from Rubin's article we'll highlight this section (noted by Erika):

Farther north, in Mosul, a policewoman was shot to death by gunmen as she left home for work. A 35-year-old Iraqi journalist was also shot to death on her way home from work in Mosul, The Associated Press reported. The journalist, Zeena Shakir Mahmoud, had been writing about women's affairs for the newspaper Al Haqiqa.

A female police officer and a female journalist. Women's deaths are far from rare in Iraq (femicide is going on) but they rarely get much press attention.

Turning to the Los Angeles Times where Paul Richter and Noam N. Levey's "Bush aides consider Iraq truce at Capitol" which addresses how the continued and increasing large opposition to the illegal war registers somewhat with the White House (even if Congressional Democrats play dense) and has resulted in efforts by the administration to seek some some sort of understanding with Congress:

The president and senior officials "realize they can't keep fighting this over and over," said one administration official, who along with others declined to be identified because they weren't authorized to speak publicly or because decisions were pending.
The Republican White House has not opened formal negotiations with the Democratic-controlled Congress. But some senior administration officials -- including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad -- have been quietly talking with lawmakers about how to adjust policy in the months ahead. Among other ideas, they have discussed whether the United States should advocate a sharply decentralized Iraq, a notion that has seen a resurgence on Capitol Hill.

Please note, this isn't the White House working to end the illegal war. The track record on this administration is very clear and, most likely, this is the usual say one thing and do another. Based on past history, at most -- at most -- Bully Boy is interested in taking some heat off on the White House while continuing the illegal war. This is the usual bait and switch and, more than likely, the White House going semi-public is an attempt to play -- in September -- the "We tried to work with them!" card. It's a huge mistake for Democrats -- who've already bought the illegal war by funding it right before Memorial Day -- to yet again allow Bully Boy to manuever them into holding the bag. But if Congressional Democrats are stupid (or craven) enough to think an illegal war can be "adjusted" and not ended may they get exactly what they deserve.

Yesterday, we noted Kirsten Scharnberg's "Veterans: Military curbing free speech" (Chicago Tribune) about the efforts to silence Iraq Veterans Against the War's Liam Madden, Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh. Doug wanted to make sure everyone know of another version of the story being carried by Vermont's Times Argus which, online, also includes instructions on which sections can be edited out of the article. For those who are curious about the suggestions for cutting the article we'll note the two sections:

Perhaps the most telling part of such criticism is how open disgruntled troops are becoming despite the risk to their careers -- signing their names to furious letters printed in military-owned newspapers; speaking on the record to reporters in Iraq about how badly the mission is going; writing members of Congress. And then there are the protests in uniform, a throwback to the Vietnam War era, when veterans such as Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., denounced the war in weathered fatigues, throwing away their medals.
Many of the protests involving vets in uniform are all-out street theater, such as one in Washington last spring where protesters staged a mock patrol, manhandling people at simulated gunpoint in order to illustrate how they say Iraqis are treated by American troops. Just last week in Chicago, a similar protest took place. The intended subtext of the uniformed protests is apparent: that protesters have additional credibility because they are denouncing a war they have witnessed firsthand, that the very uniforms now being used in protest have walked the real-life battlefield.

and this is the second section (including the paragraph before the possible cut):

"None of us wants to get in trouble," Aliff said. "None of us wants to lose our jobs or our GI bills or our benefits. But we also feel we have to be willing to do what's right."
By meeting off base and out of uniform, the Iraq Veterans Against the War members stay just inside the line of legality for military code. They don't distribute literature on base or openly recruit new members at work.
"There are so many ways to stay within military law," Aliff said. "We know we have something to say so we are finding legal ways in which to say it."
A Zogby poll last year showed that war critics like Aliff may not be entirely on the fringes of the mainstream military. The poll of 944 U.S. military personnel in Iraq, conducted by Zogby International and LeMoyne University, found that 72 percent of those polled believed the U.S. should pull out within one year.
"The unrest has been churning below the surface for a while," said Madden, who still is waiting to see what will become of his less-than-honorable discharge recommendation. "But now the signs of that unrest are starting to be readily apparent

Noted for educational purposes -- seriously. In addition, for those not registered with The Chicago Tribune (a problem in the e-mails), Kirsten Scharnberg's article is also carried by The Baltimore Sun.

On Law and Disorder today, Laura Flanders and Stanley Aronowitz debate from last week (last Monday) is being excerpted/highlighted. The hour long program airs on many stations (and streams online) beginning with WBAI Monday morning at 10:00 am.

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