The present-day U.S. military qualifies by any measure as highly professional, much more so than its Cold War predecessor. Yet the purpose of today’s professionals is not to preserve peace but to fight unending wars in distant places. Intoxicated by a post-Cold War belief in its own omnipotence, the United States allowed itself to be drawn into a long series of armed conflicts, almost all of them yielding unintended consequences and imposing greater than anticipated costs. Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. forces have destroyed many targets and killed many people. Only rarely, however, have they succeeded in accomplishing their assigned political purposes. . . . [F]rom our present vantage point, it becomes apparent that the “Revolution of ‘89” did not initiate a new era of history. At most, the events of that year fostered various unhelpful illusions that impeded our capacity to recognize and respond to the forces of change that actually matter.

Andrew Bacevich

Friday, October 5, 2007

War News for Friday, October 05, 2007

Photo: Aidan Delgado's book "The Sutras of Abu Ghraib." This is "a short piece about Abu Ghraib and the moral state of the war." Editors note: I have yet to read the book but from my short on-line conversation with the author, he is most sincere in his convictions. He was at Abu Ghraib before the allegations of torture and abuses came into the open and his experiences there and in Iraqi have left him disenchanted with the war. He became a conscientious objector and was granted an honorable discharge. He wrote the book after the watching the political situation on the home front so as to lend his voice to those against the war.

On the morning of September 11^th 2001, I enlisted in the United States Army Reserve. As I signed my contract, everyone was suddenly distracted by something on the television. My recruiter told me to get up and come see what happened. The disaster unfolded. Yet I, as a naïve eighteen year old dissatisfied with my first year of college, felt myself filling with moral certainty and righteousness: /I enlisted before it happened. The homeland is under attack. This is the reason we have a military. /I never considered that what happened that day, the feelings it unleashed in the American people, would lead us far so astray that six years later we would still be asking ourselves whether tying someone to a board and holding them underwater was/ really /torture or not, whether sodomizing prisoners and allowing them to be savaged by dogs was abuse or just a 'fraternity prank.' I could not have conceived that three years after that day, I would be standing inside Abu Ghraib prison looking at photographs of prisoners that my colleagues, other US soldiers, had just shot and desecrated.

As a young man enlisting in the Army I had felt so moral, so righteous, so /self-assured/, and I think we as a nation responded in much the same manner. We were righteously indignant. We were ready to follow a man to a war on the slimmest of pretexts, on no credible evidence and against worldwide condemnation... and we were ready to do it with drums beating and flags flying high on Fox News. We were so sure of ourselves. That moral certainty is the most dangerous force in the universe. It is what allows Abu Ghraib and Haditha and My Lai and Blackwater to happen. As a young soldier deployed to Iraq in March of 2003, I saw the same certainty in the faces of other soldiers around me as they sneeringly joked they would 'burn some rag-heads' and not return home without killing someone.

My own feelings had changed. I was no longer the self-assured, unthinking kid I had been. I was becoming a Buddhist, I was looking around me at war and its consequences, thinking to myself, is this justice? I saw a guy in my unit whip an Iraqi child with a steel antennae for bothering him about food and candy. I saw members of my unit and others, shoot three prisoners at Abu Ghraib for demonstrating against their abysmal living conditions^1 <#sdfootnote1sym>. Is this the face of the United States, defender of peace and liberty? Ultimately I had to make a decision, to draw my own line in the sand and say aloud, “this is as far as I go.” I applied for conscientious objector status as a Buddhist. A year and a half later, long after I returned from Iraq, I was honorably discharged from the Army.

So now I walk the peace road. I travel, I speak, I show slides of Abu Ghraib and the men who died there, I talk about the war everyday and still sometimes I feel like I'm trying to hold back the ocean. People still don't know or don't care to think about how wrong war is, how morally and spiritually corrupting, how easily it makes a good people and good nations turn to brutality, torture and oppression. Even as the peace movement accelerates and the opinion polls shift, I still hear everyone talking about “cost” and “worth”, the economics of destroying a society. I have yet to hear people talking openly about the immorality of the war, the terrible cruelty of it, and when I do I will know that the end of the conflict is very near.

Yet even now there is a chorus of pundits and chicken-hawks doing their best to make light of every abuse, to trivialize every misdeed, to sell us that old poison pill:/ you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs/. At Haditha a massacre of civilians, at Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse, at Mahmoudiya the rape and murder of a 15 yr old girl and her family, and still we have TV personalities and government mouth-pieces telling us that these events never happened, or if they did, they were only the work of isolated madmen. No. Those are the inevitable consequences of war. As a veteran of the Iraq War, as a conscientious objector and a Buddhist, as a soldier who served at Abu Ghraib, I refuse to let my country continue down this path. Somewhere behind us there was a line in the sand, and we as a nation have crossed it. We've taken the easiest road, the simple road that requires us to think and empathize the least: /they're terrorists, they attacked us, so whatever we do in response is justified/. No. Not everything is justified.

Aidan Delgado is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, an activist and a writer. His peace work has been featured on Democracy Now, CNN, and The New York Times among others. His new book, /The Sutras of Abu Ghraib/, tells the story of his deployment to Iraq and Abu Ghraib prison as well as his transformation into a Buddhist and conscientious objector.

1 <#sdfootnote1anc>see Taguba Report, “Findings and Recommendations,” Part 2, section 34, subsection i: “November 24^th 03, - Shooting of Detainee at Abu Ghraib (320^th MP Battalion),” p. 29


MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier in a small arms fire attack in a southern neighborhood of Iraq on Thursday, October 4th.

Media sources are reporting that an Italian intelligence agent working for SISMI (Italian Military Intelligence and Security Service), who was kidnapped on September 22nd in western Afghanistan near Shindand, and wounded during a NATO-led raid that freed him on September 24th, died on Thursday, October 4th, according to the Italian Defense Ministry. Corporal Lorenzo D'Auria, 33, and another Italian soldier were freed by Italian and British special forces. But D'Auria suffered gunshots in his head and neck during the raid, and had to be put on a respirator soon after his release. Both were flown back to Italy for treatment at Celio military hospital in Rome, where Auria later died. Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera last week quoted Defense ministry sources as saying that at least one of the bullets that wounded the two hostages came from weapons used by NATO-led forces. A spokesman for the NATO-led force in Afghanistan has denied the report, saying their kidnappers had opened fire on them. An Italian intelligence source has told Reuters the exact circumstances of the rescue are being investigated.

Security incidents:

#1: The opening of a mammoth, $600 million U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which had been planned for last month, has now been delayed well into next year, U.S. officials said Thursday. The Vatican-sized compound, which will be the world's largest diplomatic mission, has been beset by construction and logistical problems. "They are substantially behind at this point," and it would be surprising if any offices or living quarters could be occupied before the end of the year, one official told The Associated Press.

#2: Police found (8) unidentified dead bodies in the following neighborhoods in Baghdad: ( 5 ) in west Baghdad ( Karkh bank ); 2 in Amil , 2 in Doura and 1 in Risala . While ( 3 ) were found in east Baghdad ( Risafa bank ) ; 1 in Ur , 1 in Sleikh and 1 in Shaab.

Diyala Prv:
#1: US operations near the Iraqi city of Baquba on Friday killed at least 25 people the American military said were "criminals" (insurgents), but Iraqi officials said women and children were among the dead. US aircraft killed the insurgents and destroyed two houses after a heavy firefight near Baquba, 60 kilometres (35 miles) north of Baghdad, during which rebels fired rocket-propelled grenades, it said. "Seventeen people were killed, 27 were wounded and eight are missing including women and children," a defence ministry official told AFP. US helicopters attacked the village of Al-Jayzani, near the mainly Shiite town of Al-Khalis, at around 2 am (2300 GMT), destroying

#1: The U.S. military said Friday it was investigating the deaths of three civilians who were shot by American troops near a checkpoint set up by Iraqis who have joined forces against extremists. The civilians were killed early Thursday in Abu Lukah, a village just north of Musayyib, about 40 miles south of Baghdad, the military said. The brief announcement did not identify the civilians by sect or provide other details. But a local police spokesman said those killed were Shiite members of the North of Hillah Awakening Council, a group of Iraqis who have turned against extremists in the area. Five council members were guarding a deserted road into their village at about 2 a.m. when U.S. troops fired on them from a watchtower at a nearby military base, the spokesman said, speaking condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

#1: A roadside bomb wounded three people in Latifiya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

#1: A body with gunshot wounds was found in a canal in the town of Kifl, 150 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, police said

Two unidentified bodies were found in al-Kifl, 30 km south of Hilla," said the source adding that the bodies had shot wounds to different parts of the body.

#1: Unknown gunmen, last night, stormed the house of Sheikh Yasser al-Yasseri in western Basra, and killed him," the source, who requested anonymity, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).The source added "al-Yasseri worked as a teacher in the Islamic University of Sadr in Basra."

#2: Meanwhile, the same source said that another teacher working for the Islamic University of Sadr was killed outside his house in northern Basra on Wednesday night.

#1: The head of the Salah el Din Support Council died on Friday morning from wounds sustained in a bomb explosion targeted his motorcade near Balad district, north of Baghdad, a police source said. "Sheikh Moaawiya Abdullah Nagi al-Jabara has died of his wounds he sustained in a bomb explosion near his motorcade in al-Ishaaqi district in Balad district in Salah el-Din province," the source, who preferred not to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). "The blast that took place on Thursday night injured the sheikh and killed three of his companions," the source said, noting that the sheikh died this morning of his wounds.

Tuz Khurmato:
#1: Five people were wounded by a roadside bomb targeting a U.S. patrol in Tuz Khurmato, 180 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

#1: Iraqi security forces killed 18 gunmen and arrested 38 others, including four Saudi Arabians, in a military operation on Thursday and Friday in Samarra, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, a government security source said. Four policemen were killed and seven others were wounded.

From our Forgotten war:

#1: It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that a soldier serving with 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles was killed and two others injured yesterday, Thursday 4 October 2007, in southern Afghanistan. Elements of the battalion were returning to their base at Kandahar airfield after taking part in Operation PALK WAHEL, when a vehicle they were travelling in was caught in an explosion approximately 30 km west of Kandahar.

#2: U.S.-led coalition and Afghan troops clashed with insurgents during a raid in eastern Afghanistan on Friday, leaving several militants and civilians dead. The joint force came under attack during a raid on compounds suspected of housing militants in Waza Khwa district, in Paktika province, and in the ensuing battle several Taliban fighters, but also civilians — including a woman and a child — were killed, a coalition statement said. "While conducting a search of a compound ... Taliban fighters opened fire and threw several grenades at Afghan and coalition forces," spokesman Maj. Chris Belcher said. "Afghan and Coalition forces countered the attack with a combination of small-arms fire and precision munitions strikes effectively neutralizing the threat to the team," he said. The building housing the militants was destroyed and several coalition soldiers were wounded in the fighting, the statement said