Thursday, November 06, 2008

The US military announces another death

Yesterday (late) the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Center Soldier died of non-combat related causes Nov. 5." That brings the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4191. We'll come back to fatalities in a minute. In this morning's Washington Post, Ann Scott Tyson's "Combat Brigade Is Cut 6 Weeks Early in Iraq" runs on A10 and informs that former top US commander in Iraq and now head of Centcom Gen David Petraeus is cutting the brigade numbers down to fourteen from fifteen and doing so "as a result of dramatically lower violence there, Pentagon officials said yesterday. . . . Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has stated that further increases in U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan -- where American commanders say they need three more brigades and thousands of support forces to combat a growing insurgency -- will be contingent upon further withdrawals from Iraq next year."

Tyson reports the decision was made on reduced violence (which does not appear to include the attacks on Iraqi Christians last month) and deaths of US service members which the paper lists as 12 for October ("Twelve American service members died last month, including six from noncombat causes."). That is wrong. The number is fourteen. From ICCC:

29-Oct-20082| US: 2 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

USPrivate 1st Class Bradley S. ColemanQayyarah Airfield - NinawaNon-hostile

USSergeant Scott J. MetcalfMosul (died in Balad) - NinawaNon-hostile
24-Oct-20081| US: 1 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

USPrivate 1st Class Cody J. EgglestonNational Naval Medical Center, BethesdaHostile - hostile fire - indirect fire
23-Oct-20081| US: 1 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

USStaff Sergeant Brian P. HauseBalad Air Base - Salah Ad DinNon-hostile - medical
20-Oct-20081| US: 1 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

USLance Corporal Stacy A. DrydenAl Asad - AnbarNon-hostile
16-Oct-20081| US: 1 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

USPrivate 1st Class Heath K. PickardBa'qubah - DiyalaHostile - hostile fire - indirect fire
15-Oct-20081| US: 1 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

USSpecialist Justin A. SaintBaghdadNon-hostile
14-Oct-20081| US: 1 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

USPrivate 1st Class Christopher A. McCrawBaghdad (Nasar Wa Salam)Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire
12-Oct-20081| US: 1 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

USSpecialist Geoffrey G. JohnsonBaghdadNon-hostile
11-Oct-20081| US: 1 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

USCorporal Reuben M. Fernandez IIIMajar Al Kabir (Amara) - MaysanHostile - hostile fire - IED attack
07-Oct-20081| US: 1 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

USSergeant Michael K. ClarkMosul - NinewaHostile - hostile fire - small arms fire
05-Oct-20082| US: 2 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

USColonel Michael R. StahlmanAnbar ProvinceNon-hostile

USSergeant William P. RuddMosul - NinewaHostile - hostile fire - small arms fire
03-Oct-20081| US: 1 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

USPrivate 1st Class Tavarus D. SetzlerMajar al-Kabir - MaysanHostile - hostile fire - IED attack
02-Oct-20080| US: 0 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

Total14| US: 14 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

On the subject of Afhganistan, Anne Geran's "Tough morning for Obama: Russian threats and Afghan deaths greet the president-elect" (AP) explains:

In Afghanistan, the U.S.-backed president demanded that Obama change U.S. tactics as villagers said U.S. warplanes killed 37 people -- nearly all of them women and children -- during a cat-and-mouse hunt for militants.
"We cannot win the fight against terrorism with airstrikes," President Hamid Karzai said. "This is my first demand of the new president of the United States -- to put an end to civilian casualties."

And it's only Karzai's "first demand of the new president". As al-Maliki has so aptly demonstrated, sometimes the puppet pulls the strings.

On the subject of Iraqi Christians, IRIN reports:

About 400 Christian families, (some 2,400 individuals) have returned to their homes in the northern city of Mosul after a spate of threats and killings led them to flee in early October, according to officials.
"We have so far registered nearly 400 Christian families who have returned to their houses and jobs, and resumed normal lives thanks to the deployment of security forces," said Jawdat Ismaiel, head of the Ministry of Displacement and Migration in the province.

That's IRIN reporting today, dropping back to Monday, they issued an alert again stating that it was not safe for refugees to return to Iraq:

The Iraqi government should review its policy of encouraging Iraqi refugees to return home by offering them free plane or bus tickets, until it is able to ensure security, local and international NGOs said.
"For the time being, the government should take care of the refugees and meet their daily needs in their host countries until it can secure suitable life conditions to allow them to go back to their homes," said Basil al-Azawi, head of the Baghdad-based Commission for Civil Society Enterprises, an umbrella group of over 1,000 NGOs operating inside and outside Iraq.

On the issue of any decline in violence, we'll note these observations by Andrew North (BBC) :

This uncertain situation is now encased in an incredible amount of concrete - the blast barriers that have become one of the signature images of Baghdad
There were plenty in place when I was last here a year ago. Now there are even more and journeys take longer than ever.
There are checkpoints with heavy machine-guns every 300 metres on many roads now - far more than you ever saw under the police-state rule of Saddam Hussein.
Baghdad is a city under complete military occupation. So the relative quiet here may be deceptive.

Leila Fadel's "Does a New American President Change Iraq?" (Baghdad Observer, McClatchy Newspapers) is a roundup she did prior to the election results.

"The American elections have no importance to me at all. Their presidency is one thing and their policy is another, therefore there is no real difference who wins. American foreign policy is constant. Iraqis are not ignorant, we have seen this over the years; one president goes and another comes and he does nothing to remedy his predecessor's mistakes only what concerns the American people. As for people in other countries they don't count because they don't vote." -- Aqeel Mohammed, 37, a Shiite minibus driver from southern Baghdad

"What possible change can either of them bring? And if they do anything, it is only to the interests of their own country – not for our sake. They might "bring their boys home" and "stop spending their money in Iraq" and "let Iraqis shoulder their own responsibilities"…. Where are we in all this?

Maybe Obama would withdraw their forces – but is that good? I would be happy to see them go – but I am also afraid.

What they do, they do for themselves. -- Widad Hamid, 74, a Sunni Arab retired high school teacher from western Baghdad.

"We do follow the news, but I don't expect any change at all. I have no faith in their promises because they say only what they think the American people want to hear. They dissemble their own people – not others. They don't care about the Iraqi people. It's all about their security freedoms, their boys, their money and their democracy. American foreign policy is one line, presidents come and go." -- Khalid Abu Abdullah, a Sunni Arab shopowner from northern Baghdad

"The residents of Sadr city don't car about the American presidential election, now we care only about the blocked roads and the traffic jams...I don't think the American policy will change towards our country," -- Khaleel Abu Ahmad, 37, a Shiite engineer from the east Baghdad district of Sadr City.

"I care about the lack of electricity and fuel, why should I care about the American elections?" -- Ammar, 30, a Shiite Arab from Baghdad.

On the topic of the treaty attempting to pass as a Status Of Forces Agreement, AP and Reuters are both reporting developments. AP reports that the US has 'officially' responded to Iraq's requests for amendments. Reuters quotes Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesperson for al-Maliki, stating, "America has responded and the Iraqi side has received the American response. They had some remarks on some of the amendments, which now requires meetings with the Americans to reach a common understanding." As to the actual response, no one's talking.

And we'll close with this from Larry Pinkney's "An Obama Presidency: More Of The Same Only Worse" (Information Clearing House):

After the Democratic Party Republicrats so-called election euphoria and celebrating is over, the Obama / Biden Republicrat regime will get down to the business of placing the ongoing exploitation of the every day people of this nation on fast track. The masses of Black Americans, along with the oppressed and exploited Brown, Red, Yellow, and White peoples of this nation will learn first hand that, notwithstanding the deceptive Obama rhetoric, exploitation nationally and internationally will be intensified. The "clash between those who want freedom, justice, equality for everyone and those who want to continue the system of exploitation" about which Malcolm X referred, will be intensified under Barack Obama, with Obama representing the interests of the oppressors. The political contradictions in this regard will also be increasingly obvious.
Those so-called leftist and progressives who were and are collaborators with U.S. Empire will, for a time, try to pretend that their support of Barack Obama was not a sell out, and that they simply need more time to persuade the U.S. Empire’s colored corporate emperor to do the right thing. Meanwhile, Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, and White peoples will be enduring an unprecedented rate of economic and social suffering. The anger of the people will ultimately peak and explode, as a result of having bought into false hope and raised expectations. This is precisely why the U.S. corporate government has already made military contingency plans to contain and massively quash dissention within the United States. Barack Obama will serve to provide his corporate / military masters with colored political cover for political repression in this nation; and he will have already provided a small respite of wiggling room for them in this regard. Nevertheless, as brutal reality forces the proverbial scales of blindness to drop from eyes of the masses, it will become crystal clear that the supposed "change" to which Barack Obama referred in his campaign rhetoric, was nothing more than a vicious ruse of double-speak by him, backed by his corporate and military handlers. Indeed, the emperor will be shown to "have no clothes." But what of the fate of millions of Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow peoples inside the U.S.? How many horrible sacrifices will have been, and will yet need to be made by the people in order to get the boot of economic blood-sucking and political repression off their / our necks?
The "clash," to which Malcolm X referred, "between those who want freedom, justice, and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the system of exploitation" will deepen, as will repression and systemic contradictions. The "clash" will have, by necessity, as Malcolm X suggested, gone beyond "the color of the skin." Notwithstanding his double speak rhetoric, it will become clear to people that a president Barack Obama supports and wants to “continue the system of exploitation” at home and abroad. Despite continued double speak and corporate disinformation and misinformation, it will be become undeniably clear that a president Barack Obama is the servant of the corporate/ military / prison apparatus of U.S. Empire, and a key facilitator of exploitation and political repression inside and outside the United States.

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