Sunday, April 06, 2008

And the war drags on . . .

"Good morning. I'm Joe Biden, Democratic Senator from Delaware and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In January 2007, President Bush announced the surge of an additional 30,000 American forces into Iraq. Next week, the President is expected to tell the American people what comes next. It's an important moment for America's future.
"The purpose of the surge was to bring violence in Iraq down so that its leaders could come together politically. Violence has come down, but the Iraqis have not come together. The country remains terribly divided among Sunni, Shi'a and Kurds. There is little evidence the Iraqis will settle their differences peacefully any time soon.
"Our military has done a heroic job in bringing violence down since last summer. But even these gains are relative. Violence is just getting back to levels we saw in 2005 -- when 846 Americans lost their lives and 5,945 were wounded. Iraq is still an incredibly dangerous place -- and very far from normal.
"Despite this reality, the President is expected to announce that when the surge ends, we will not be in a position of drawing down American forces. There could be no clearer acknowledgment from the President himself that the surge has not succeeded in achieving its stated purpose--namely, moving Iraq toward the day it can govern itself, defend itself and sustain itself in peace.
"So, where are we after the surge? Back to where we were before it started. With 140,000 troops in Iraq -- and no end in sight. The best that can be said is we've gone from drowning in Iraq to treading water. That's better, but we can't keep doing it without exhausting ourselves.
"Every extra day we stay in Iraq with 140,000 troops, that's exactly what we're doing. And the price we're paying keeps getting steeper:
The continued loss of the lives and limbs of our soldiers -- every day;
The emotional and economic strain on our military families due to repeated, extended tours – lasting up to 15 months;
The drain on our Treasury -- $12 billion every month that we could be spending on housing, education or healthcare here at home;
The impact on the readiness of our armed forces -- tying down so many troops that we don't have any leftover to deal with a new emergency;
The inability to send enough troops to the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan -– the real central front in the war on terror;
And finally: the damage done to America's standing in the world;

"I believe the President has no strategy for success in Iraq. His plan is to muddle through -- and hand the problem off to his successor. Our troops and their families deserve better than that. We owe them a strategy worthy of their sacrifice.
"We Democrats understand that this war must end so that America can regain the credibility to lead around the world and the flexibility to meet our challenges here at home. That's what the American people want -- and it's what America's security needs. Thank you for listening."

That's "Senator Joe Biden Delivers the Democratic Radio Address" (Democratic Party, text and audio) and we quoted it in full on Saturday. We're opening with it tonight and, as noted at Third, last week Democrats were attempting to define a set of criteria by which they and the American people could evaluate the claims US Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Gen David Petraeus will be presenting to Congress next week (beginning on Tuesday). It'll be another wave of Operation Happy Talk (though there are rumors of a new tactic: Petraeus will be acknowledging some 'mistakes' while assuring that those are in the past, learned from, and now it's right-track city). As part of the lastest wave of Operation Happy Talk, Bully Boy intends to participate. CNN reports that he will apparently speak on the topic of Iraq -- in a televised address -- on Thursday morning:

"It will be an update -- having been briefed by Petraeus and Crocker, here's where we are," one Republican official said of the president's plans.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are scheduled to testify Thursday to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
When Petraeus and Crocker finished their first progress report to Congress last September, the president addressed the nation. But while that speech was delivered in prime time, officials said this week's speech will come in the daytime, a sign the electorate is more focused on the economy than the war in Iraq right now.

As to the claims that the speech will come during the day due to less interest in Iraq, that's nonsense. It will come during the day because when networks (broadcast) were sounded out last week about the possibility of a speech, the reaction was, "We're starting new programming!" Bully Boy's consistently polling low, his likeability and trustworthyness are in the toilet. He's a lame duck with about nine more months in office. This is the week where networks demonstrate (they've already announced it), "See the writers strike is over!" They weren't willing to carve out a sizeable amount of time for a White House speech that most Americans weren't going to watch due to who was delivering it. They weren't willing to give back more money to those who had already bought commercial times on announced, new programming. Broadcast TV took a huge hit in revenues during the writers strike. The White House was okay with that because they think a snippet or two on the evening news will actually look better. (The longer he drones on, the more the American people hate him and remember all the past lies he has told and all the 'leadership' he never provided.)

So Bully Boy's enlisting in the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk and the press will be loathe to use terms like "lie" and "falsehood." So they'll mainly offer up snippets of his speech and then toss to a DC correspondent with, "___, what are people on the Hill saying?" The Democrats last week set down markers and criteria. If they don't cave, if they don't shy from reality, this wave of Operation Happy Talk doesn't have to reach shore.

Last Septembre found no real opposition in Congress. Congress apparently thought that they could just listen and nod, ask a few vague questions and that was doing their job. Last week, they did some work. If they continue it this week, they can stop Operation Happy Talk before the effects of the lies set in for months to come. (Which did happen in September.) Over the weekend at least 69 Iraqis were reported dead and at least 5 US service members.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war hit the 4,010 mark. And tonight? 4018. Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Center Soldier died from non-combat-related injuries April 6." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier was killed from injuries sustained in an indirect fire attack at approximately 3:00 p.m. in eastern Baghdad April 6." And they announced: "A Coalition forces Soldier was killed as a result of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device in Diyala Province, April 6." On the sixth day of the month of April, there have now been six deaths announced for the month of April. And that number may be higher [It is, read on.] Reuters reports four deaths of US service members announced today:

BAGHDAD - Two U.S. soldiers were killed and 17 wounded in a rocket or mortar attack on the Green Zone government and diplomatic compound in central Baghdad, a U.S. military official said. One U.S. soldier was killed at 14 were wounded in another strike on a U.S. base elsewhere in Baghdad.
* BAGHDAD - A U.S. soldier died of wounds sustained in an attack in eastern Baghdad. The U.S. military gave no further details.

[. . .]
DIYALA - One U.S. soldier was killed as a result of injuries sustained from a roadside bomb in Diyala province, the U.S. military said.

If Reuters is correct, that would actually be five deaths reported today (because one death announced by the US military was 'non-combat related' which isn't noted by Reuters' summary).
Okay, Newsday is reporting five deaths of US service members today:

Two U.S. military personnel were killed and 17 were wounded when rocket fire hit the Green Zone, home to the Iraqi government and the American Embassy. An attack on the Rustamiyah base in eastern Baghdad claimed the life of a third soldier and wounded 14, the military said.
A fourth U.S. soldier died in a roadside bombing yesterday in the northeastern province of Diyala, while a fifth was killed in a noncombat incident, the military added.

UPI is also reporting 5 deaths. And Gareth notes this from Toby Harnden (The Telegraph of London):

Suspected Shiite militants lobbed rockets and mortar shells into the U.S.-protected Green Zone and a military base elsewhere in Baghdad on Sunday, killing three American troops and wounding 31, officials said.
The attacks occured as United States forces fought Shi'ite militiamen yesterday in Baghdad's Sadr City, as fierce fighting claimed at least 20 lives.
Another American service member was killed and 14 were wounded in the attack on a base in the southeastern Baghdad area of Rustamiyah, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The US military also announces: "Coalition forces surveillance indicates a large unknown explosion destroyed a house April 6 in the Hayy Al Asdiqa area of Basra City. Casualties are unknown at this time." This as Leila Fadel and Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) report:

The U.S.-backed Iraqi government Sunday began deploying Shiite Muslim volunteer fighters in neighborhoods dominated by the rival Mahdi Army militia of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr.
As the new volunteers took to the streets on the eve of key congressional testimony by Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, Iraqi security forces backed by U.S. forces clashed again with the Mahdi Army in the Shiite slum of Sadr City, and U.S. aircraft attacked militants.
In the heavily fortified Green Zone, where U.S. and Iraqi officials live and work, rocket attacks killed two U.S. soldiers and injured 17, at least five of them seriously. Rocket attacks on a U.S. base in southeast Baghdad killed another American soldier and wounded 14.
In some Mahdi Army strongholds, new government-backed militiamen were manning checkpoints with Iraqi National Police and others were piling up sandbags in anticipation of possible attacks.

CBS and AP report (link has text and video):

Iraqi troops backed by U.S. forces battled Shiite fighters in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood in clashes that killed 22 people and wounded more than 50, despite a cease-fire between the government and the militia, officials said Sunday. The fighting was a sign of how brutal the past few weeks have been for General David Petraeus, reports CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan, because she said, "he really was looking at a year where he had imagined to be quite successful in reducing violence, particularly in Baghdad and some of the surrounding areas." Speaking with Bob Schieffer on Face The Nation, Logan said that the gains made by agreements with militias (including from Sunni tribes and some Shiite tribes) to work with the Americans have almost disappeared in the face of the recent violence which spreads so quickly from Basra in the south of Iraq. "It's really about two things," Logan said. "It's a fight amongst the Shiites for power in Iraq -- what the future of this country is going to look like, how the Shiites will divide Iraq among themselves -- but perhaps even more importantly it's a fight between the U.S. (who backs the Iraqi government and Iraqi security forces) and Iran (who backs those militias). "This is really the proxy war that everybody talks about behind closed doors but nobody wants to admit to in public."

And for more of CBS' Face The Nation, you can also check out its CBS website (Nancy A. Youssef was among today's guests).

Just Foreign Policy's counter lists 1,196,514 as the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war (last Sunday it was 1,194,035). Turning to some of the reported violence over the weekend . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Saturday a Baghdad bus bombing claimed 3 lives and left sixteen people wounded, a Baghdad mortar attack wounded two people, a Baghdad car bombing that wounded two people, a Baghdad mortar attack that claimed 1 life and wounded seven people and a Kirkuk bombing that wounded three police officers. Today Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a US air strike in Baghdad that claimed 9 lives, a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded three Iraqi soldiers, multiple Baghdad mortar attacks that claimed 1 life and left eleven people wounded as well as two police officers wounded and a Tikrit roadside bombing that left seven people wounded. Reuters notes the US air strike in Baghdad and cites "Hospital sources" stating "at least 25 Iraqis died and 98 were wounded"; and they note 2 people dead from a Mosul roadside bombing.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Saturday the assassination of priest Yousif Adel in Baghdad and the assassination of a Ministry of Interior Affairs employee (Brig Gen Sadi Rzoqi) in Baghdad. Saturday Reuters noted 1 person was shot dead in Mosul, 1 person shot dead outside Hilla (by police who stated he was part of an assassination attempt on a police chief) and 4 oil pipeline security forces were shot dead in Diyala Province. Today Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Baghdad that claimed 20 lives and left fifty-five injured. Reuters notes today that an armed clash took place in Samarra and 7 members of the "Awakening" Council were killed.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 42 students kidnapped in Mosul and 1 person in Hawija Al-Bhariya.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Saturday that 7 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Saturday, Reuters noted 3 corpses discovered in Mosul and 2 in Iskandariya. Today, Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad, 1 woman's corpse discovered in Kirkuk, and 9 corpses discovered in Muqdadiya.

Pru gets the last highlight and it's on upcoming actions in England, "Everyone can build the action" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Up and down the country activists are fighting hard to make the most of the potential of 24 April.
Alan Dent, district secretary for South Ribble, Lancashire, NUT teachers' union, told Socialist Worker, "People are disgruntled about a lot more than just pay. We can draw in more people and chime with their grievances."
Everyone can do something to build the action -- organising workplace meetings, planning delegations to picket lines and rallies, making links with other groups of workers, encouraging action to be called on that day.
As David Swanson, a college lecturer in Manchester recently elected onto the UCU union's executive, points out, "There's a lot of excitement over 24 April but also a lot of unevenness.
"Whichever union is strongest in each area needs to push the others."
The following should be read alongside this article: »
24 April: Join this pay revolt» Mass strikes to take on Gordon Brown over pay» List of rallies and protests on 24 April
» email article » comment on article » printable version
© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place.
If you found this article useful please help us maintain SW by »
making a donation.

The e-mail address for this site is

mcclatchy newspapers