Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Views and US soldiers think they can 'prank' in Iraq

On August 31 President Barack Obama announced that "the American combat mission in Iraq has ended."
The last officially designated combat troops were withdrawn on August 18. Within days an American soldier was killed in a rocket attack.
On September 5, U.S. troops participated in a battle between suicide bombers and Iraqi forces in which 12 people were killed and 36 wounded. The bombers attacked an army base in Baghdad “in broad daylight,” according to Reuters, which reported that the "U.S. military said its troops opened fire and provided air support for Iraqi forces during the gunbattle."
The dictionary defines combat in the military sense as "active, armed fighting with enemy forces." If these battles do not qualify as combat, what does?
They also qualify as an excuse for Obama to keep troops in Iraq well beyond the end of 2011, which is clearly what all the movers and shakers in the U.S. government and the Council on Foreign Relations want.

The above is from Michael Tennant's "Combat in Iraq Continues as Plans for Long-term U.S. Presence Are Laid" (New American) and that's one view. Hasan Kanbolat (Today's Zaman) offers:

The US is not changing its mind on Iraq. It will continue its political, economic and military presence in the country. The US will not remain indifferent to Iraqi politics through its largest embassy in the world, located in Baghdad, and its consulates in Arbil, Mosul, Kirkuk and al-Basra. US forces have not been visible on the streets of Iraq and in daily life for a long time. So we should ask ourselves whether the withdrawal is preparation for an upcoming mid-term election showcased for the American public.
The image trying to be portrayed is that "the Republicans began the occupation of Iraq, but the Democrats ended it. Furthermore, the US withdrawal from Iraq can also be seen as a US effort to renew its global image, which is striving to do just this through the Obama administration because this administration is underscoring that the occupation is ending at a time when Iraq is in a good situation. The Obama administration, which does not wish to give the appearance that the US is a powerful country that invaded and then abandoned Iraq, leaving it to its own fate, but that it takes every opportunity to highlight Iraq’s political maturing, the ability of the nation to solve its own political crises through its own leaders as well as the improvement in the security of the nation.

The Iraq War continues and word games do not end it. The editorial board of Florida's New-Press observes, "We can read the news about Iraq any way we want, but the hard fact is Americans will be there a long time. American soldiers and Marines will remain in harm's way, and American policy will remain unsettled for years to come." Lamis Andoni (Al Jazeera) wonders about the country's neighbors:

The US invasion of Iraq marked a dramatic turning point for the Arab world, but the recent partial American withdrawal generated notably little interest across the region. This is partly because it signaled neither an unequivocal end to the occupation nor an explicit continuation of US military control. But the silence also reflects the bitter reality that many have simply tuned out of Iraq.
When Baghdad fell in 2003, it drew comparisons with the loss of Palestine and the dispossession of its people in 1948. And while the US invasion did not lead to, or aim at, colonising the country, changing its name or razing its towns and villages, it did serve to remove a once powerful state from the regional political equation and, in so doing, weakened the Arab world. This emboldened Israel and Iran, while striking a critical blow against pan-Arabism.
On both the official and popular level, Arabs failed to connect with and support the Iraqi people.
In the immediate wake of the invasion, Arab governments appeared confused. Some initially played to popular sentiment and looked to boycott the newly-installed American-backed government before eventually bowing to US pressure.
A country that had once helped to support others suddenly became an economic burden to its neighbours as hundreds of thousands of refugees fled into Syria and Jordan. Baghdad lost its status as an educational centre and cultural hub for Arab intellectuals, artists, poets and novelists.
The tragic shift in its position left many Iraqis feeling like the formerly wealthy relation who lost their fortune only to find that their friends and family had disappeared along with it.

Andoni really doesn't grasp it? The Arab world could not take part. Even now they only take tentative steps due to the fact that Iraq has no legitimate government. They have to wait for the exiles and puppets to move their way out of the government (if possible). To back up the US-installed exiles is to endorse the Iraq War. This isn't confusing, this isn't puzzling.

In other news, Phil Bronstein (San Francisco Chronicle) and Eliott C. McLaughlin (CNN) both report (with text and video) on pranks being played in Iraq on Iraqis by Iraqis in the style of the MTV show Punk'd. And while that might make you grin, roll your eyes, groan or any variety of response, Oliver Pickup (Daily Mail) reports another aspect that should not be happening. Pickup reports on a group interjecting themselves into these antics: US soldiers. Pickup emphasizes a 'prank' a US soldier played on Iraqi by planting "a live grenade in an Iraqi's car". The scroll across the US video: "This is my partner and I working at a Traffic control point in Iraq. We decided to scare one of the locals a bit by placing a grenade in his trunk while he wasn't looking. This was all in fun and never in any intent to harm anyone."

The US soldiers taking part in that need to be disciplined. There's no excuse for it and it shouldn't be happening.

There is the obvious fact that a live grenade could explode and, if and when that happens during a prank, it will not be, "Oh, those funny Americans!" That's just one problem. Equally true is that this is how rumors get started. US soldiers today having 'fun' by planting grenades and other weapons are encouraging a belief in Iraq that US soldiers planted and planned the violence. How so? Iraqis are outraged by the violence that has plagued and continues to plauge their country -- rightly so. They are outraged and have blamed everyone possible for the violence -- including their own governmental leaders, including US service members, everyone. When videos exist showing Americans doing these 'stunts' for 'fun' it's only a matter of time before a few people start saying, "See, it was the Americans." That belief then spreads and it becomes, at best, an urban legend that never goes away and, at worst, a reason to attack US service members. It's not cute, it's not funny and it needs to stop immediately. Maybe the US military brass needs to worry less what civilians in the US do and start focusing on the problems taking place under their command? (That's in reference to Petraeus' hectoring of some church in the US and their plan to burn the Koran -- which they can do as American citizens. I don't support book burnings of any type but they are a legal form of protest and they really aren't the US military's business. In fact, the US military needs to be told to butt the hell out of civilian life in the United States.)

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Now He's Soaking In It" went up Monday as did Kat's "Kat's Korner: Last Decade's Buried Treasure" and "Kat's Korner: The exclusion of Cher" and Marcia posted "Rachel Ambramowitz bad and sexist book" at her site and Mike posted "Labor Day" at his site.

And Brendan notes Felicity Arbuthnot's "British Military in Iraq: A Shocking Legacy" (Information Clearing House):

August is seemingly Spotlight on Illegal Invasion month. President Obama has made his Mission-Lost-Cause speech about US., Iraq fantasy "withdrawal" - leaving behind 50,000 troops, perhaps 50,000 mercenaries, and some have suggested 100,000 "advisors."
In context: "Last month, the Congressional Research Service reported that the Department of Defense workforce has 19 percent more contractors (207,600) than uniformed personnel ... in Iraq and Afghanistan, making these wars ... the most outsourced and privatized in US history. Worse, the oversight of contractors will rest with other contractors. As has been the case in Afghanistan, contractors will be sought to provide "operations-center monitoring of private security contractors (PSCs) as well as PSC inspection and accountability services."
Tony "I would do it again" Blair, announced, on 16th August, he is to give his entire £4.6 million advance on his book: "My Journey", to the Royal British Legion, for support of British soldiers in need. As the ungracious calls for his "journey" to be to The Hague get louder - with some suggesting a far less civilized ordeal - it seems timely to assess British "achievements" in Iraq.
The British, of course, having come in flying the St George's flag on their vehicles (the Crusaders' flag) slithered out of Basra city, under cover of darkness, to hunker down at the fortified airport, some distance outside the town, in September 2007, much as US units did from other parts of Iraq, last week, fleeing in the night, over the border to Kuwait.
UK Forces, who had also illegally squatted in Basra Palace, as did their US counterparts in palaces throughout the country, taking over Iraq's cultural properties, additionally pillaging them, in defiance of the 1954 and 1977 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property. To use such buildings in support of military effort or as a command centre is specifically prohibited. The full extent of pillaging is unlikely to ever be documented, since no one was guarding the guards. An early British example was the theft of a statue of Saddam Hussein from Basra, for which the British tax payer paid the transport for its journey to the Unit's base in southern England.

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