Thursday, June 26, 2008

Civilian deaths and another US soldier announced dead

Four U.S. soldiers died in roadside bombings Tuesday and Wednesday, the U.S. military said, bringing to 10 the number of Americans killed in Iraq since Monday.
[. . .]
Meanwhile, Iraqi officials said a U.S. airstrike killed four members of a family north of Baghdad early Wednesday. Iraqi and U.S. officials provided conflicting accounts of the incident.
Capt. Ahmed al-Azwawi, a police official in Samra, a village about seven miles south of Tikrit, said U.S. troops were conducting an operation in the area when a man fired shots in the air with an AK-47.
Azwawi said the man, who sold propane gas for a living, was afraid thieves were in the vicinity.

The above is from Ernesto Londono's "4 U.S. Soldiers, Interpreter Killed In Iraq Fighting" (Washington Post) and Emily noted it. Picking up on the civilians killed, from Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Riyadh Muhammad's "8 Civilians Killed in 2 Disputed Attacks, Iraq Says" (New York Times) but first the three bank employees shot dead near Baghdad International Airport as they were enroute to work which Oppel and Muhammad name: Hafed Abudl Mahdi, Surur Shadid Ahmed and Maha Adnan Yunis. Now on the US air assault:

Hours earlier, an American helicopter fired missiles into a home near Tikrit, killing a family of five, local officials and a relative said.
The episode began when Afar Ahmed Zidan thought he heard thieves prowling near his home in the darkness, a cousin, Hussain al-Azawi, said. Mr. Zidan went outside and fired at them, Mr. Azawi said.
But the men in the darkness turned out to be American infantrymen conducting a search, Mr. Azawi said. They returned fire, wounding Mr. Zidan, who rushed inside and frantically called his cousin to alert him to what had happened, Mr. Azawi said. Then the Americans called in an airstrike that killed Mr. Zidan, his wife and three children, all under 10 years old, Mr. Azawi said.

We noted Doug Smith's Los Angeles Times report yesterday but if you missed it, here's his piece on the two incidents where civilians were slaughtered.

Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed as a result of an explosively formed projectile attack at approximately 9 a.m., June 25, in eastern Baghdad."

Meanwhile, where do the candidates stand on Iraq? Ralph Nader: "I would veto any attempt to extend the so-called PATRIOT Act or anything else that came across my desk that was designed to circumvent the civil liberties of the American People. The PATRIOT Act grants excessive power to the government to abuse civil liberties through wiretaps, monitoring internet usage, authorized 'sneak and peek' of our homes, and forces libraries to turn over records of the books read by their patrons--and those abuses of power have been used repeatedly by Bush and his Justice Department." Cynthia McKinney and Bob Barr are both calling for an end to the illegal war. McCain and Barack? James Rainey's "Time to make candidates answer on Iraq" (Los Angeles Times)

"It drives me crazy," said retired Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who led the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq. "There is no post-surge strategy. We are talking about staying indefinitely. We have not mobilized the country in any real way. And the military is decaying before our eyes."
Batiste wonders why we haven't heard a coherent strategy from McCain or Obama about what happens after "the surge," the troop buildup due to expire next month.
[. . .]
An American reporter who spent two years in Baghdad told me she opposed the U.S. invasion. But she wondered how Obama and Democrats, who favor some foreign interventions to prevent genocide, had neglected the possible humanitarian question in Iraq.
"How do they know that the moment we leave, the Shiites, who we have trained and put in power, are not going to turn those guns on the Sunnis?" asked the reporter. "There is a real moral argument for staying there." (The reporter asked not to be named, because her editors advised her not to express her personal opinions for the record.)
If McCain gets credit for supporting the surge, which has helped reduce violence, shouldn't he also be pressed to explain his less prescient moments, such as predicting an easy triumph in Iraq? How, despite his supposedly superior foreign policy credentials, could he have been so wrong?

Actually, Barack has addressed the issue and it's a shame that loony Stephen Zunes didn't write about it. If he had, Jar-Jar Blinks wouldn't have gotten it wrong in the latest Appropriated Dispatches. Here's Barack Obama speaking on CNN:

Well, you know, I'd never say there's 'nothing' or 'never' or 'no way' in which I'd change my mind." Obviously, I'm open to the facts and to reason. And there's no doubt that we've seen significant improvements in security on the ground in Iraq. And our troops, and Gen. Petraeus, deserve enormous credit for that. I have to look at this issue from a broader perspective, though.

That's Barack speaking June 5th, on CNN, to Candy Crowley. You would have thought he was doing public access on basic cable the way everyone pretends it never happened. That does address the concern the unnamed reporter raises. You don't hear about that because it's really important that you believe the 'promise' that Barack's committed to withdrawal. He's not.

His statements to CNN echo what Samantha Power told the BBC last spring:

Stephen Sackur: You said that he'll revisit it [the decision to pull troops] when he goes to the White House. So what the American public thinks is a commitment to get combat forces out within sixteen months, isn't a commitment is it?

Samantha Power: You can't make a commitment in whatever month we're in now, in March of 2008 about what circumstances are going to be like in January 2009. We can'te ven tell what Bush is up to in terms of troops pauses and so forth. He will of course not rely upon some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or as a US Senator.

As with his NAFTA talk, Barack's Iraq talk is just a lot of rhetoric, an illusion. He's not anti-war, he never has been. And anti-war people do not surround themselves with the likes of Sarah Sewall -- who steered the counter-insurgency manual and states that the Iraq War must not be seen as a 'failure' -- or Samantha Power -- who blurbed the counter-insurgency manual.

Below is Ralph Nader addressing the issue of minimum wage, something Barack refuses to do.

Hannah notes Jurgen Vsych's "An Excerpt from What Was Ralph Nader Thinking?" (Dissident Voice):

Almost everyone who signed Ralph's petition was 18–25 and/or laid-back. I got some people who said, "I don't agree with the things Nader says, and I'm not going to vote for him, but I think he has the right to be on the ballot." It's heartwarming to meet people who paid attention in the fourth grade when our teachers taught us, "This is America and our nation was formed so everyone could speak freely without fear of persecution" (actually, America was formed so a lot of white people could get filthy stinking rich, but that's a whole 'nother book). Austin is the one Democratic hot spot in Texas (Ralph got about 10% of the vote here in 2000), so even though there’s no way in hell Texas would ever, ever swing to the Democrats, they keep hope alive: "Anybody But Bush!" "I like Nader -- I voted for him last time. I agree with everything he says....but we HAVE to get that guy out of office!"
"He can't win, so I'm voting for Kerry."
"What has he done since 2000? Nothing!"
I remind these dimwits, "Just because the corporate media isn't reporting on Ralph every day doesn't mean he hasn't been kicking ass. He's done forty-five fundraisers in thirty states for the Green Party! What issue of Ralph's don't you agree with?"
"He's a spoiler!"
Rommel [me]: "What issue?"
"He cost us Florida!"
Rommel: "But over 250,000 Democrats in Florida voted for Bush!"
"Yeah, but if Nader hadn’t run, Gore would have won!"
Rommel: "He DID win!"
"Yeah, but he would have won by more votes!"
Rommel: "Can Gore help it if his brother wasn't the Governor of Florida? 62% of Nader's votes were from NON-Democrats -- oh, I give up. Have an Al Gore day!"
At the mere mention of HIS name, two 40-year-old guys exploded like Ford Pintos being rear-ended: "He got rid of the Corvair! Man, that was the most beautiful car."
"And deadly," I said.
"So what if morons didn’t know how to change the tire pressure — they deserved to die!"
I got off the street and hurried into a store, just in case these guys were driving one of the damn things.
People don't get why Ralph never ran for a lower office and "worked his way up." As a watchdog, he had a greater ability to get things accomplished than he would have as a senator. People want Ralph to snuggle up to Washington and get himself made Attorney General. That's a nice fantasy, but Dan Rather put it best on Election Night 2000: "I think you would likelier see a hippopotamus run through this room than see George Bush appoint Ralph Nader to the Cabinet."

Jurgen Vsych's new book (released in February if I remember right) is one you'll come to the end of quickly because it really involves you. (Probably due to her cinematic experience as a director, she zooms in on the key moments and cuts quickly, leaving you with a foward motion throughout -- no detours or sidebars.) For more on the her new book, click here.

The e-mail address for this site is