This year is already the deadliest for American soldiers in Afghanistan since the war of 2001, and the violence is likely to intensify before the nation's legislative elections on Sept. 18.
Four soldiers were killed Sunday, meaning that 13 have been killed in August alone. Sixty-five Americans have been killed this year.
[. . .]
A total of 181 American soldiers have died in Afghanistan since military operations began in October 2001, more than 100 of them in attacks. One of the worst attacks took place in June, when 19 Americans died in the ambush of a Navy Seal team and the downing of a helicopter.
The above is from Carlotta Gall's "G.I. Death Toll in Afghanistan Worst Since '01" in this morning's New York Times. Sarah notes in her e-mail that it's the only article she found worth reading so we'll make it our spotlight article for the day.
The Times tries to play catch up on the Iraqi constitution today (due to apparently having everyone off for the weekend?). We covered that yesterday so instead of steering you to an article containing a third of what's already been noted here (via links to reports e-mailed here by members), I'll recommend you read Mark Levine's "Echoes of Oslo: Iraq’s Constitutional debate is a symptom of a country with an equally profound identity problem" (In These Times):
It is somewhat fitting that the complex and tension-filled process of completing Iraq's first "democratically" drafted constitution should occur at the same time that Israel is withdrawing its settlers and soldiers permanently from the Gaza Strip. Both are taking place in the context of a post-9/11, militarized neoliberalism that has created conditions of chaos in Palestinian and Iraqi societies. In such an environment, lasting political progress will require far more than what is symbolized by these two potentially momentous events.
In fact, as this article was being written, the constitutional negotiators had been granted a week's extension to finish their work, so it's impossible to present a concrete discussion of the constitution's details. The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza was indeed underway, but even there the prospects of peace remain dim unless Prime Minister Sharon is willing to match that withdrawal with a near complete relinquishment of the West Bank and a compromise on Palestinian refugees and rights to Jerusalem. The reality is that for the average Iraqi or Palestinian, the new constitution, or the withdrawal of settlers and troops, will most likely not improve their lives unless they constitute the first steps in a much broader process of demilitarization and the creation of a real legal and political framework for peace, equality, independence and sustainable development.
Another fitting reason for the coalescing of the two events is the potential for the Iraqi constitutional process to repeat the understandable but disastrous strategy of Oslo--reach agreements on vague and high-sounding principles, but leave the tough questions for a later date, when developments on the ground will (hopefully) invest the reconciliation process with enough momentum for compromises on issues that were off the table at the start.
Jordan e-mails to note Kevin Zeese's "An Interview with Tom Hayden: The People Must Demand Peace" (CounterPunch):
KZ: One of the stumbling blocks I see in Congress is the leadership of the Democratic Party. While progressives in the Party are organizing as part of the Out of Iraq Caucus, the leadership of the Party is calling for more troops -- people like Senators Joseph Biden, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry -- even the peace candidate now chair of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean, is speaking in favor of the occupation. (Note: Hayden has been critical of Dean's stance on the occupation.) It seems like the "national security Democrats" dominate the Party. Is that accurate? Why is that and how do we overcome that obstacle?
TH: I absolutlely agree. The movement has to energize the awakened minority of doves in the House while shaming the established leaders for taking the Party in the wrong direction at a time when most Democrats want peace. We have to complicate their calculations for future Presidential campaigns, and keep working through all avenues to convince them that they need to change.
KZ: What can people do to help build momentum around the "Peoples Peace Plan?" What are your next steps?
It may not resonate like issues of stolen elections or Cindy Sheehan's battle, but we have to receive a mandate from tens of thousands of activists through the petition and, of course, countless discussions. Then we should advocate to the liberal Democrats to adopt an exit strategy and introduce it as a resolution. Then we go to work on co-authors on the exit strategy and Jones -Abercrombie legislation, getting at least 100 by January. Of course, nearly all the work needs to be done by core, committed groups at community and congressional district levels.
More on Tom Hayden is available at: http://www.tomhayden.com/ and on his blog at Huffington Post.
You can find the peace plan at Katrina vanden Heuvel's Editor's Cut (The Nation), "People's Petition for a Way Out of Iraq."
In Dallas asked that we note this again, Mark's "Chief Weapons Inspector at SMU" (North Texas IMC):
Chief Weapons Inspector at SMU
with US Tour of Duty
Scott Ritter -former U.N. Chief Weapons Inspector will be returning to Dallas joined by U.S. Tour of Duty, including military families and Iraq veterans
Scott Ritter former U.N. Chief Weapons Inspector will be returning to Dallas joined byU.S. Tour of Duty, including military families and Iraq veterans to give first-hand accounts of the war and to screen Caught in the Crossfire, a short film about the U.S. bombardment of Falluja and its aftermath.
Monday, August 22, 2005 at 7:00 p.m.
Hughes-Trigg Student Center Auditorium, SMU
A map can be found by utilizing the link.
The event above takes place today.
The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org.