Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The continued war, veterans and the fallen

Even after the recent drawdown of US combat forces from Iraq and plans for a full withdrawal in the next year, many Middle Easterners don’t believe that American influence in Iraq will end. Steven Lee Myers of the The New York Times supports this theory by pointing out that in spite of the withdrawal, US Special Operations have not changed in size or role. Middle Easterners still see American interests pervading in Iraqi economic, political and security concerns as efforts to continue to control the country.
Whether this is true or not, certain issues lend themselves to the United States maintaining a presence in Iraq. But the last thing it wants to do is look like oil jockeying cowboys of yesteryear.
Another issue causing concern among Iraqis, Middle Easterners and probably many other people around the world is the violence that continues to cruelly wreck Baghdad and other urban centers in Iraq. The Washington Post reported on Sunday that six car bombs across Baghdad and one suicide bomber near Fallujah killed 37 people and injured over one hundred. This may not seem like a special news story coming out of Iraq, but the reality is that with the official drawdown, militant forces are taking advantage of the still weak government security structure. These attacks are meant to prove a point -- that Iraq cannot protect itself.

The above is from Jennifer Bushaw's "Is Iraq Already Forgotten?" (Atlantic Sentinel) and, at Liberal Dog, Charley echoes Myers, "One should not presume that 'withdrawal' which we commonly understand to mean complete withdrawal will occur. Don't be surprised if the agreement is explicitly altered or re-interpreted to have a different meaning, one that will allow a substantial number of troops to remain there after 2011. The remaining force would continue to have an assist/support function to back up Iraqi security forces who have not been able to this point to provide an adequate level of security, and it may be a number of years before they can operate on their own. An NPR friend states Steven Lee Myers' colleague Anthony Shadid will be on today's Fresh Air (NPR) addressing the issue of Iraq. That's not listed on the program's website and I don't have time to call back and figure out what's going on. If he's on Fresh Air, we'll note him today or tomorrow. (Which will depend on whether there's much to note from the Congressional hearings I'll be at today.)

And while Iraqi forces can't protect the people, somehow Iraqi reps managed to find 'missing' artifcats. The September 10th's snapshot noted that antiquities were being returned to Iraq; however, some of the previously returned items were missing. This puzzled the world and, wouldn't you know it, when outlets across the world wondered what could have happened, Nouri and crew 'find' the items. Monday came the news that they were found. Where? The New York Times reported "in a storeroom of the office of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki" and they're now (supposedly) going to be "turned over to Iraq's National Museum". That really shouldn't have been a surprise, Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor News Service) reported September 8th, "He [Iraq's Ambassador to the US Samir Sumaidaie] noted, however, that a previous shipment of 632 stolen pieces recovered in the US had gone missing after being delivered to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office last year." Shashank Bengali (McClatchy Newspapers) reports on the 'discovery':

"We went to the warehouse and we found these boxes," said the minister for tourism and antiquities, Qahtan al Jubouri. "They didn't know what was inside them."
When he was asked whether anyone would be called to account for the blunder, Jubouri demurred. Maliki's office has remained silent on the matter.
The most important piece in the boxes, museum officials said, was a bronze statue credited to the Sumerians, inhabitants of southern Mesopotamia in about 5,000 B.C. An American archeological expedition discovered the figurine in 1968.

In other Iraq news, Lion Paintings For Sale noted yesterday that Tuesday marked exactly two years that US Army Spc Ahmed Kousay al-Taie had been missing in Iraq." US Air Force Senior Airman Jimmy Hansen died serving in Iraq last week. Battle Creek Enquirer notes that the 25-year-old's funeral is scheduled for ten o'clock Saturday morning at St. Philip Catholic Church. From the obituary posted at Shaw Funeral Home:

He was born May 24, 1985, the son of Richard and Emily Hansen, Sr. in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

James graduated from Athens High School in 2003, attended Kellogg Community College and Central Michigan University. He continued his education while in the Air Force through CMU's College of Extended Learning and was working toward his Bachelor's degree. He began his service in the U. S. Air Force in May 2008 and was Senior Airman specializing in air field management. He was stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida and deployed to Iraq in 2010.

James is survived by his parents, Richard and Emily Hansen, Sr. of Athens; brother, Richard A. Hansen, Jr. (Tara Roth) of Midland; his fiancée, Megan Bottomlee of Battle Creek; his grandmother, Dee Dee Aiello of Union City. He was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Arthur and Gloria Hansen; maternal grandfather, James Aiello; aunt, Angella Aiello and uncle, John Mastroianni.

Another Iraq War veteran is Bradley Manning. Background, Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. This month, the military charged Manning. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Today Steve Leigh (Socialist Worker) notes the rally in support of Bradley Sunday "outside the gates of Fort Lewis".

The following community sites -- plus Ms.,, Jane Fonda and On The Wilder Side -- updated last night:

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends