Thursday, April 09, 2009

I Hate The War

The activities of al-Qaeda in two of Iraq’s most troubled cities could keep US combat troops engaged beyond the June 30 deadline for their withdrawal, the top US commander in the country has warned.
US troop numbers in Mosul and Baqubah, in the north of the country, could rise rather than fall over the next year if necessary, General Ray Odierno told The Times in his first interview with a British newspaper since taking over from General David Petraeus in September.
He said that a joint assessment would be conducted with the Iraqi authorities in the coming weeks before a decision is made.

The above is from Deborah Haynes' "General Ray Odierno: we may have to ignore Iraq deadline to halt al-Qaeda terror" (Times of London) and before we go into the revelations, let's note a few things re: the source. Haynes has an important exclusive and good for her. Equally true is that she has produced more content for her outlet than whole divisions have for other outlets. Haynes usually files at least one report or blog post a week that has to do with a news topic and at least one that is a human interest story. In the last months, she's been filing repeatedly. She isn't the only Times correspondent filing on Iraq; but she's filing an incredible amount and finding stories that others are usually not covering. Her work won her a deserved award (and we noted her award back when she received it even though we're not interested in that aspect of the refugee topic) and when England draws down to approximately 400 troops at the end of July (if it sticks with that announcement), she'll most likely be move on to another region and will be missed but probably most people won't grasp what she offered and what she provided until she's gone.

Deborah Haynes is not with faults and we called her out loudly once here. The same blog post written the same way would result in the same calling out again. But if you look at her overall work, the key theme is curiousity. She finds out something and pursues it. For example, she was obviously not the only reporter to notice, back during provincial elections, that the ink smelled (the ink on your finger to show you had voted) but she didn't just file that away in her memory, she pursued it and found out other things about the ink and wrote it up. She's written up the special 'cabins' reporters can sleep in at the US base (now that the US has taken over Basra from the British). She's constantly found things of interest, dug around and found enough information worth filing something on.

She's leaving so I've been wanting to find a way to work in a nod to her work because, whether we've agreed with it or not, it's always demonstrated a curiosity and desire to know that should be the hallmark of reporting but often isn't. And before someone says, "Oh, well there's a story on cars and she didn't write about that." That's not something she would have discovered. That 'story' which won't go away (AP was pimping it today) was put out by M-NF. It's one of the many spoon feeds they do as they. Haynes wasn't picking up on M-NF and she wasn't picking up on what the British command wanted her to write about. Look at the topics she's covered for human interest stories including Iraqis woeful lack of knowledge when it comes to pregnancy. Those were topics she encountered. A passing remark, something she saw, and she pursued it and found the story.

The Times of London was very lucky to have her in Iraq and people who follow news from Iraq were very lucky to have her in Iraq. Her interest and curiosity will be hugely missed and she has a nice body of work that she and her paper can be very proud of.

Now for what she's reporting. That's really big and Ray Odierno went on the record which is how it's different than the whispers that this might happen or, earlier, Nouri al-Maliki stating that maybe US forces would just leave some cities.

It also underscores that the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement was never etched in stone, despite claims otherwise.

As noted in the snapshot, Baghdad saw a huge rally today calling for the withdrawal of US forces. Toss that back to the Status Of Forces Agreement. al-Maliki had to promise Parliament that the thing could be put to a vote (al-Maliki and the US State Dept had to promise Iraq's Parliament that). That vote was supposed to take place in July.

Where are the preparations for that? The Kurdistan Regional Government will be holding provincial elections shortly (May 19th) and they are making their preparations. Where are the preparations for the Iraqi people to vote on the Status Of Forces Agreement?

For those who don't remember the January 31st provincial elections in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces required extensive work and planning. If you've forgotten the legislation finally passed Parliament in September of 2008. They moved to hold elections as quickly as possible and all the work required meant as quickly as possible was January 31st.

Where are the preparations? And did the rally in Baghdad today worry or trouble Nouri? All those people making it clear how they wanted the US out?

For those thinking, "Well the ballot will be simplified . . ." The ballot wasn't the issue. Who was on it and campaigning were issues for candidates. The govermnent and the election commission required all those months to set up for the elections.

In other news, Ruth Gledhill (Times of London) reports, "Tony Blair has said that he cannot 'pass a single day' without reflecting on the aftermath of the war in Iraq." We may go into that more tomorrow but let's note right now how interesting it is that Blair surfaces with a 'lament' about Iraq after Gordon Brown's government promises the British people an inquiry into the Iraq War. Now Tony Blair wants the world to believe he's haunted by the illegal war.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4263. Tonight? 4266.

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