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New U.S. strategy: Have Iraqis kill each other instead of the Marines
(Al Jazeera, 10-25-2005)
The question here is what can the U.S. do to prevent the situation from turning into a debacle for itself, to prevent another Vietnam? . . . Steadily losing control in the country and failing to restore order or defeat the Iraqi resistance, the U.S. armed forces started to change their tactics. But this change is absolutely at the expense of the Iraqi people. . . . The U.S. Army has become more concerned with its safety, and thus it stopped leaving fortified bases, to avoid car bombs, kidnappings and assassinations. . . . But it tries on the other hand to feed the violence by manipulating the country's ethnic and religious groups to eventually realize its goal of withdrawing from Iraq. . . . Bush's admin is now sowing the seeds of strife and civil war, entice hatred and fuel the tension between Iraq's ethnic groups so as to have them do the fighting and kill themselves instead of the U.S. Marines . . . By turning Iraqi ethnic groups against each other, the U.S. will be able to withdraw - not from Iraq - but to safe havens within Iraq to watch the country dissolving and falling into a civil war that will leave no faction capable or equipped to fight the occupation forces. [COMMENT by Lorenzo: Of course, this leaves Iraq's oil fields for the Bush Crime Family to plunder with the U.S. Army to protect them.] . . . An old wisdom says that if you're in a deep hole, first thing you need do to get out of this hole is to stop digging- The U.S. needs to stop digging in Iraq before it reaches a stage where it can’t get out of this hole. But to stop digging America needs to admit it's been pursuing the wrong agenda and took a wrong decision in the first place. . . . The U.S. must decide to get out of Iraq before it’s too late. It failed to prepare for post war Iraq, and now to save its soldiers and reputation worldwide, it's trying to have the Iraqi people do the killing instead of the Army. . . . When the U.S. first invaded Iraq it claimed it came to liberate the Iraqis from the oppression of their dictator Saddam Hussein. But this is hypocrisy. Liberation and occupation do not co-exist.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:15 PM
Ten's of Thousands of Iraq War Vets Suffering from Horrible Wounds
(Stewart Nusbaumer, Intervention Magazine, October 20, 2005)
The flight-suit President dodged the Vietnam War, hiding in the Air National Guard's "Champagne Unit," strongly supporting the war from Texas. The Vice-President "had other priorities," although he insisted other Americans had no option but to fight the war. The Secretary of Defense enrolled in Princeton University instead of the Korean War; after the war he enrolled in the Navy. All the hawkish Neocons were too busy arguing for the Vietnam War to actually fight in that war. . . . So when it came to Iraq, none of these men had a clue about the will to fight. . . . I see in the halls of Walter Reed hospital soldiers with leg braces and neck supports, soldiers with faces slashed by bombs and stitched up by doctors. Soldiers with legs terribly mangled, soldiers with no legs – amputees with short stumps, with long stumps, without any stumps since entire limbs are missing. A man walks by without an arm. I suddenly travel back in time to another war, to another hospital when I was one of those young men without a limb. But the human carnage and waste in Walter Reed is too overwhelming to escape for more than a flash of time. . . . At the Army's flagship medical facility, where thousands of wounded soldiers pass through, there is no political spin, no media filter, no presidential lies, and no patriotism without cost as there is in America. There are only the wounded and mangled from Iraq. There is the ground zero for ugly war reality. For these men and women there was no safe "Champagne Unit," no other options, no Ivy League hiding, no just talking while others did the fighting. At Walter Reed there are no Chickenhawks. . . . In a wheelchair, a young man who barely looks 17 years old rolls by with a pair of ugly "road kill" legs – the spaghetti I'm eating rumbles in my stomach – followed by a soldier on crutches, doing a Frankenstein walk with stiff legs thrown outward. Several tables away, a slightly older soldier, in his early 30s, with a nasty looking scarred leg propped up on a chair, rubs his fingers over the smooth surface of his Purple Heart Medal. . . . Forget your moral questions about the war. Morality is for those who support the war and for those who oppose the war, not for those in the war. Those seriously wounded are still fighting the war so clam up about the immorality of this stupid war. . . . A corollary to this rule is never protest against a war in front of a military facility, especially a military hospital. That is a no-brainer. You demonstrate against those who made the policy to go to war, not against those who are sworn to carry out the order to go to war. . . . When discharged from the hospital, their tight support network disappears and the strong optimism in the wake of a close call begins to wane. There is now time and space to think, and to ask questions. Sitting alone in an apartment, probably a spartanly furnished apartment, maybe in a dingy bar with their back against the wall, the questions start. They always do, for those severely wounded. Those "for what" questions: for what do I have to put on an artificial limb every morning? For what must I live with this horrible pain every day? For what did my buddy die? For what was all the horror for? . . . Some will attempt to evade these questions, but that's not possible. They paid too high a price. Some will turn to stock replies, such as, "It was for God, country, and family." To the degree this works is the degree that they cut themselves off from reality. Vietnam was not for God, America, and family, and neither is Iraq. Most of the wounded will learn this, and then they will demand a real answer to, "For what?" . . . The only satisfactory answer is for defense of country. Nothing else justifies the sacrifices, sacrifices Americans quickly forget but endure a lifetime for these men and women. The other answers, to rebuild another country, to stay the course so others won't perceive America as weak, to fulfill a president's fantasy of a great legacy, to fill our vehicles' gas tanks, to save the world from the latest new evil, they cannot withstand the ugly questions that come from horror and suffering. "For what?" is too strong for weak answers. . . . Whether the "For what?" is answered with a closed mind, or with an honest answer, many seriously disabled veterans will in time turn bitter and cynical. But others will swallow hard, refusing to let the injustice crush them, and move on in life. But all will be deeply scarred. If their sacrifices were truly for the defense of our country, that helps a lot. That cause can justify the sacrifices, but an unworthy cause justifies nothing. . . . A veteran with Iraq Veterans Against the War recently commented that after the guys return home and realize that on the home front Americans barely cared about the war, that here patriotism is an empty gesture because no one sacrifices anything, they will become angry. . . . To this day, some 38 years later, when I hear someone on the radio discuss the World Series in 1967, or some similar remark about 1967, I cringe. That was the year I was fighting in Vietnam. That was the year thousands of young Americans were dying and losing limbs and their minds for, supposedly, their country. But our country was excited about the World Series, and . . . If a war is important enough for soldiers to be maimed and to die for, it is important enough for all Americans to sacrifice something. Something! . . . The World Series of baseball should have been cancelled in 1967, as it should be cancelled today, because America has young men [and women] fighting in a war. . . . But Americans are barely paying attention and would refuse to give substance to their patriotism, a clear indication this is not a war for the defense of America. We have an administration that won’t fully fund veterans' health care, while it does not properly equip our troops in war. And we are a people not insisting our veterans have adequate health care and our soldiers have proper equipment. This is wrong, America. Wrong to those with "road kill" legs, wrong to those with partial faces, wrong to those with missing limbs.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:06 PM
Senior military investigator found dead in Iraq
(Kim Sengupta, The Independent, 17 October 2005)
A senior British military police officer in Iraq involved in the investigation of alleged abuse of Iraqi civilians by soldiers has been found dead at a camp in Basra. . . . Defence sources said the death was "not due to hostile action and also not due to natural causes". . . . However, it is believed that investigators have not found a suicide note, nor firearms related to the incident. Capt Masters was not receiving any medical or psychological treatment. . . . Friends and colleagues of Captain Masters, who was married with two children, said that his death had come as a "total surprise". . . . After his body was found early on Saturday evening a siren sounded over Basra camp, flares were fired in the air, and all military personnel were confined to barracks. . . . Despite being of middle-rank, Captain Masters was in charge of all serious incidents involving the British military in Iraq. . . . It was not immediately known which particular cases he had been personally involved in investigating. The British military is, however, looking into several dozen cases. . . . Seven members of the Parachute Regiment are on trial for the murder of an Iraqi teenager, Nadhem Abdullah. . . . Several Fusiliers have been convicted at a court martial in Osnabrück, Germany, of abusing civilians and photographing the acts. . . . Some soldiers have been charged in relation to the death of a hotel receptionist, Baha Musa.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:07 PM
Spanish Judge Issues Warrant for Three GIs
(Maria Jesus Prades, Associated Press, October 19, 2005)
A judge has issued an international arrest warrant for three U.S. soldiers whose tank fired on a Baghdad hotel during the
Iraq war, killing a Spanish journalist and a Ukrainian cameraman, a court official said Wednesday. . . . Judge Santiago Pedraz issued the warrant for Sgt. Shawn Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Lt. Col. Philip de Camp, all from the U.S. 3rd Infantry, which is based in Fort Stewart, Ga. . . . Jose Couso, who worked for the Spanish television network Telecinco, died April 8, 2003, after a U.S. army tank crew fired a shell on Hotel Palestine in Baghdad where many journalists were staying to cover the war. . . . Reuters cameraman Taras Portsyuk, a Ukrainian, also was killed. . . .
He said he issued the arrest order because of a lack of judicial cooperation from the United States regarding the case. . . . The warrant "is the only effective measure to ensure the presence of the suspects in the case being handled by Spanish justice, given the lack of judicial cooperation by U.S. authorities," the judge said in the warrant. . . . Small protests over the killing have been staged outside the U.S. Embassy in Madrid nearly every month since Couso's death. . . . Under Spanish law, a crime committed against a Spaniard abroad can be prosecuted here if it is not investigated in the country where it is committed.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:51 AM
US troops 'starve Iraqi citizens'
(BBC NEWS, 16 October 2005)
A senior United Nations official has accused US-led coalition troops of depriving Iraqi civilians of food and water in breach of humanitarian law. . . . Human rights investigator Jean Ziegler said they had driven people out of insurgent strongholds that were about to be attacked by cutting supplies. . . . Mr Ziegler, a Swiss-born sociologist, said such tactics were in breach of international law. . . . "A drama is taking place in total silence in Iraq, where the coalition's occupying forces are using hunger and deprivation of water as a weapon of war against the civilian population," Mr Ziegler told a press conference in Geneva. . . . He said coalition forces were using "starvation of civilians as a method of warfare." . . . "This is a flagrant violation of international law," he added. . . . Mr Ziegler said he understood the "military rationale" when confronting insurgents who do not respect "any law of war". . . . But he insisted that civilians who could not leave besieged cities and towns for whatever reason should not suffer as a result of this strategy. . . . The Geneva Conventions forbid depriving civilians of food and water. . . . Cutting off food supply lines and destroying food stocks is also forbidden. . . . Mr Ziegler, who opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq, said he would urge the UN General Assembly to condemn this practice when he presented his yearly report on 27 October.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:19 PM
Baghdad Blackout Caused by Sabotage
(Guardian Unlimited, October 14, 2005)
Insurgents sabotaged power lines to the capital Friday evening, knocking out electricity across the greater Baghdad area and plunging it into darkness on the eve of the country's key vote on a new constitution. . . . Mahmoud al-Saaedi, an Electricity Ministry spokesman, said power lines were sabotaged between the northern towns of Kirkuk and Beiji leading to the Baghdad region. . . . He did not specify how insurgents damaged the lines, but militants in the past have used bombs to hit infrastructure. . . . Iraqi and U.S. forces have clamped down with intensive security measures to prevent insurgent attacks on voters Saturday. . . .
Iraq Sunni party offices attacked
(BBC NEWS, October 14, 2005)
Three offices of an Iraqi Sunni party which dropped its opposition to the new constitution have been attacked, a day before a referendum on the text. . . . In Baghdad, a bomb exploded outside the office of the Iraqi Islamic Party. . . . Gunmen set fire to the party's office in the western city of Falluja, and ransacked its office in Baiji, north of Baghdad. No injuries were reported. . . . Many Sunni parties oppose the text, and have called on Iraqis to boycott the poll or vote "No". . . . Iraqi army Maj Salman Abdul Yahid said the attack on the Islamic Party offices "was expected because of its new stand toward the referendum". . . . Alaa Makki, a senior party official, condemned the Baghdad attack, saying the party would "use the political process to fight terrorism and promote stability in Iraq", the Associated Press news agency reported. . . . Earlier this week, the Islamic Party said it would encourage Sunnis to support the constitution after Shia and Kurdish political leaders agreed to consider further revisions after elections in December. . . . Sunni leaders fear the current proposals may lead the country to split, with a Kurdish north and Shia south, depriving Sunni Arabs of access to the country's oil resources. . . . The BBC's Richard Galpin in Baghdad says the controversy surrounding the draft constitution has made campaigning much more adversarial than expected. . . . It has been easier for the "Yes" camp who dominate government to get their message across on state-controlled media than for the Sunni minority, our correspondent adds. . . . If voters in three of Iraq's 18 provinces muster a two-thirds majority against the constitution, it will fail. . . . The Sunnis are dominant in four provinces and so therefore effectively hold a power of veto if they turn out in large numbers to vote against it.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:14 PM
Government Accused of Death Squads in Iraq
(Sinan Salaheddin, The Associated Press, 07 October 2005)
The 22 bodies, lined up in coffins in a mosque courtyard Friday, are as shriveled as ancient mummies after lying a month in the desert where they were dumped, bound and bullet-ridden. They were Sunni Arabs, rounded up from their Baghdad homes one night by men in police uniforms. . . . Relatives and neighbors in mourning are convinced they were killed by government-linked Shiite death squads they say are behind corpses that turn up nearly every day in and around the capital - two more on Friday. Now some Sunnis are vowing to take action to protect themselves. . . . At least 539 bodies have been found since Iraq's interim government was formed April 28 - 2004 in Baghdad - according to an Associated Press count. . . . The count may be low since one or two bodies are found almost daily and are never reported. . . . Both minority-Sunnis and Shiites accuse one another of using death squads - and the accusations are deepening the Sunni-Shiite divide at a time when mistrust is already high over a new constitution that Iraqis will vote on in eight days. Shiites overwhelmingly support the charter, Sunnis oppose it, saying it will fragment Iraq. . . . Shiite deaths are generally attributed to Sunni insurgents, who hit Shiite sites with suicide attacks, bombings and shootings, but also carry out targeted slayings, leaving groups of Shiite bodies to be found later. Insurgents have disguised themselves as police - most recently in an attack last week south of Baghdad in which they dragged five Shiite teachers and their driver into a school and shot them to death. . . . But there have been several cases of Sunni Arabs who turn up dead in large groups after being taken by men claiming to be Interior Ministry forces. The largest group of bodies found outside Baghdad was 36 Sunnis discovered Aug. 25 in a dry riverbed near Badrah, close to the Iranian border, after being kidnapped in Baghdad. . . . The grisly finds have led Sunnis to believe that Shiite Muslims who dominate the government and the Interior Ministry are waging a quiet, deadly campaign against them. . . . Maj. Gen. Adnan Thabit, the commander of the Interior Ministry's special forces - including the special counterterrorism Wolf Brigade - denied any government role in any slayings. He said insurgents were donning police uniforms and carrying out the killings to enflame divisions. . . . "The ministry is studying new measures to control the work of the shops which deal with military and police uniforms in Baghdad" to ensure they don't fall into insurgents' hands, he told AP. He also said ministry forces would take local clerics or respected figures with them when they carry out raids in sensitive areas. . . . But the idea of self-defense among Sunnis appears to be catching on. After the killings of Dawood's relatives, Sheik Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al-Samaraie - head of the Sunni Endowment, the government agency in charge of the upkeep of Sunni mosques and shrines - called for forming local forces in Baghdad's neighborhoods to defend them against suspicious interlopers. . . . That raises the prospect of yet another semi-organized armed force in Iraq's patchwork of gunmen - one that could easily turn from self-defense to revenge. . . . "We swear we will retaliate for the killing of my brother and my cousins," said Saadon al-Azawi, whose brother was among those killed in Hurriyah.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:16 PM
Retired general: Iraq invasion was 'strategic disaster'
(Evan Lehmann, Lowell Sun, 9/30/05)
Retired Army Lt. Gen. William Odom, a Vietnam veteran, said the invasion of Iraq alienated America's Middle East allies, making it harder to prosecute a war against terrorists. . . . The U.S. should withdraw from Iraq, he said, and reposition its military forces along the Afghan-Pakistani border to capture Osama bin Laden and crush al Qaeda cells. . . . "The invasion of Iraq I believe will turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history," said Odom, now a scholar with the Hudson Institute. . . . Homeward Bound, a bipartisan resolution with 60 House co-sponsors, including Lowell Rep. Marty Meehan, requests President Bush to announce plans for a draw-down by December, and begin withdrawing troops by October 2006. . . . The measure has not been voted on, nor has the House Republican leadership scheduled hearings. But supporters were encouraged yesterday, pointing to growing support among moderate conservatives and the public's rising dissatisfaction with the war. . . . Meehan, one of the first to propose a tiered exit strategy in January, when few of his Democratic colleagues dared wade into the controversial debate, pointed to "enormous progress". . . . "Talking about this issue, having hearings on this issue, getting more Americans to focus on it will result in a change of policy," Meehan told The Sun. "The generals and commanders on the field in Iraq overwhelmingly are saying we need less in terms of occupation and more Iraqis up front, and that's the only strategy I think that will result in getting American troops back home."
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posted by Lorenzo 12:19 PM