"A nightmare with no end in sight."
How about this as a headline in the Stars and Stripes newspaper's Middle East edition:
How about this as a headline in the Stars and Stripes newspaper's Middle East edition:
"Sanchez, former commander in Iraq, calls war 'a nightmare with no end in sight'."
The story is about a speech given by retired Lt.Gen. Ricardo Sanchez to a convention of military
journalists on Friday. Sanchez commanded U.S. troops in Iraq from June 2003 to July 2004. His speech continued:
The story is about a speech given by retired Lt.Gen. Ricardo Sanchez to a convention of military journalists on Friday. Sanchez commanded U.S. troops in Iraq from June 2003 to July 2004. His speech continued:
"From a catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan, to the administration’s latest surge strategy, this administration has failed to employ and synchronize the political, economic and military power."
Changes in military strategy will only “stave off defeat,” he said. When asked why he didn't speak up when he was in power, even after he realized "there were serious challenges to the U.S. military’s
strategy in Iraq", he waffled:
Changes in military strategy will only “stave off defeat,” he said. When asked why he didn't speak up when he was in power, even after he realized "there were serious challenges to the U.S. military’s strategy in Iraq", he waffled:
"The last thing that America wants, the last thing that you want, is for currently serving general officers to stand up against our political leadership ... I think once you are retired, you have a responsibility to the nation, to your oath, to the country, to state your opinion."
I must have it wrong. I thought the taxpayers paid good money to these generals specifically to state their military opinions and to live up to their responsibilities to the nation -- not to any particular Administration.
Still, it is a sobering headline for the troops to read in the armed forces' classic newspaper.
Whatever Happened To...
Whatever happened to all those Saddam Hussein doubles? The CIA or the White House or CNN told us that there were many of them, because the real Saddam was sometimes fearful of attending public meetings.
I don't believe they were ever mentioned again once the war started.
Was this just a big lie? Or are they still out there, perhaps with US-financed cosmetic surgery? Did they hang the real one? Did they hang them all?
It seems odd to me that they simply disappeared from the conversation. Anyone have any ideas?
Today is the fourth anniversary of American tanks pulling into Baghdad, and pulling down the statue of Saddam. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld said the Iraqi people would be dancing in the streets to greet their liberators. Is this what they meant?
When You Have Friends Like These...
Question: Who said in a speech today?
"In beloved Iraq, blood flows between brothers in the shadow of illegitimate foreign occupation and hateful sectarianism, threatening a civil war."
Answer: The Bushs' great buddy, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
The Iraq Study Group Yawn
Daddy Bush's old guys came in with their report today. Old, rich, white politicians the lot of them, not a Middle East specialist among them. The report doesn't give any answers, and certainly doesn't point a specific way forward. Bush the son will probably reject it anyway; and I doubt that Tony Snow has the nous to make the rejection more diplomatic. What a waste of time.
Ten more American soldiers dead today.
I have been reading about the five "security contractors" that have been kidnapped by militiamen in Iraq. First, let me say that I have absolutely no sympathy for any of the mercenaries that have flooded into the country in search of an inflated paycheck. That being said -- and agreeing I am not a military man in any sense -- I wonder what is wrong with the following strategy:
The US military makes an announcement that they (and their mercenaries) will only abide by their own checkpoints and those they are informed about in advance by the Iraqi security forces. ALL other checkpoints -- even those manned by apparently friendly forces (such as those manned by people dressed as Iraqi police) -- will be assumed to be insurgents and will be attacked and destroyed on sight. No questions asked.
Wouldn't that at least make the insurgents hesitate a little before they pulled these stunts again?
Far Too Dangerous!
The US forces have lost more than 2,000 men and women in Iraq, and even more when Afghanistan is counted in. These appalling figures would have been even worse had the Pentagon not privatized the war by hiring tens of thousands of mercenaries through "security companies" such as Blackwater and others. Now, even the mercenaries are pulling out.
This week, Kroll pulled out its "bodyguard teams" saying "the business in the two countries wasn't worth risking the lives of their employees." Bechtel -- engineers but mercenaries all the same -- have also cancelled all further work in Iraq with a senior official noting that "had Iraq been a calmer place while we were there, amazing things could
have been done."
The rats are leaving, the rats are leaving! Unfortunately for America's boys, their commander-in-chief is too stubborn and dumb to follow their lead.
The Position In Kurdistan
While always being wary of Judith Miller's objectivity and the integrity of the senior sources who use her as a mouthpiece, I have to say that her latest effort -- Kurdistan, in WSJ's Opinion Journal -- left me feeling better informed than I had been before I read it. I was particularly interested in the signs of economic revival in the region.
"Kurdistan is literally exploding with confidence and new projects befitting its ambitions: Almost $2 billion in Turkish trade and investment--the result, partly, of his outreach to Ankara--is financing the construction the Middle East's largest new conference center, a new international airport, hotels, parks, bridges, tunnels, overpasses, a refinery and an electrical plant. The Kurdistan Development Council is even advertising Kurdistan as a tourist destination. There are over 70 direct flights a week to the region's two airports from the Middle East and Europe."
However, strangely to us,
most cities still provide only two to three hours of electricity a day. The rest comes from private generators, which the poor can ill afford.
An interesting read. She seems, though, to downplay the importance of what may happen with regard to Kirkuk. Not so this article by Michael Howard for the Guardian.
"There are few more sensitive issues in Iraq today than what happens to Kirkuk," said a Western diplomat in Iraq who works closely with the issue. "All eyes are on it, and all the ingredients for either consensual agreement or a devastating discord are there. If Kirkuk survives, then there's hope for Iraq" ...
Colonel Patrick Stackpole, who commands 5000 US troops in a province of about 1.5 million people, said the "violence is mainly by outsiders, though undoubtedly they have facilitators inside the city. "Jihadis from east and west, belonging to groups such as Ansar al-Islam and Ansar al-Sunnah, are targeting the city, trying to stoke civil war," he said. "But there's also a large element of former regime loyalists who don't want the city to succeed."
The problem with Iraq, I believe, is that the worst is yet to come.
Operation Enduring Chaos
Kim Sengupta has an excellent short piece in The Independent that shouldn't be missed. It tells the tale of the creation of militias in Iraq -- several of which were proposed and supported by the US -- and how embedded they are in the fabric of Iraqi political society. The inability to stop sectarian violence is a direct consequence.
"Sergeant Jeff Nelson, an intelligence analyst with the US army's 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, in Baghdad, said: "They have infiltrated every branch of public service and every political office they can get their hands on. As soon as the US leaves, they will be able to dominate the area with key citizens, key offices."
Sgt Nelson said his battalion has investigated 40 sectarian killings and collected 57 bodies in one week. None had led to any arrest. He said: "Sometimes we have a feeling of complete hopelessness."
Mission accomplished, huh!
Disrespecting The Troops
There is one unfortunate way in which Canada and the United States are twins -- that is in the disgraceful way that our governments treat the bulk of our armed forces. The same right-wing yahoo politicians who send our kids off to war -- the same wackos who say that because people like me don't agree with the war policies we are somehow dissing our troops -- these same loons are perfectly content to see "our boys" and their families live on handouts and scraps.
This story comes from California, but it is accurate in Canada too:
The soldiers' families "were waiting for day-old bread and frozen dinners packaged in slightly damaged boxes. These families are among a growing number of military households in San Diego County that regularly rely on donated food ... Too often, the supplies run out before the lines do, said Regina Hunter, who coordinates food distribution at one Camp Pendleton site ...
To the south, about 1,500 individuals pick up free food, diapers or furniture at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station and several military-oriented distribution sites supported by churches and the San Diego Food Bank. The numbers don't include military households that frequent other charities countywide to get enough to eat...
“(Service members) struggle because of our cost of living,” said Faye Bell, executive director for the Military Outreach Ministry. “The lower-ranking enlisted guys do all the hard work and still have the stress of not being able to take care of their families the way they wish they could.”
Here in British Columbia, some of the most regular users of food banks and government welfare are service families.
This is truly what is disrespecting our troops -- making their families wait in line for food while they fight and die for their master's profits.