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

Sunday, October 28, 2007

War News for Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Turkish tank rolls toward the Turkish-Iraqi Habur border gate, in a routine reinforcement operation to strengthen security in the southeastern Turkish province of Sirnak October 27, 2007. Turkish military planes scoured the Iraqi border for Kurdish rebel camps on Saturday, army sources said, after diplomatic talks in Ankara to avert a major cross-border operation into northern Iraq failed. (Zeynep Erdim/Reuters)

Security Incidents


This incident happened in the Baghdad suburb of al-Shaab, essentially part of Greater Baghdad. Gunmen kidnap ten dignitaries from Diyala who were returning from a meeting with government representatives. VoI reports:

"A group of unidentified gunmen intercepted two vehicles on the main road in the area of al-Shaab, linking Baghdad to Diala, on Sunday," a notable in al-Salam area, Diala's al-Khalis district, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
"All ten passengers aboard the two vehicles were kidnapped, including Sheikhs Hassan Salem al-Aanbaki, Majid al-Bayati, Naim al-Azzawi, and Abboud Abbas al-Aanbaki from the clans of al-Aanbakiya, al-Izza, and al-Bayat," said the source on condition of anonymity.
The densely-inhabited area of al-Shaab lies on the northern outskirts of Baghdad. The U.S. forces took over the area as a security center to launch military operations.
"The members were returning to Diala from Baghdad, where they attended a conference with Dr. Faal al-Maliki, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's tribal affairs advisor, to discuss coordinated efforts among the clans in Diala to eliminate al-Qaeda Organization in Iraq and back security agencies in their war on terror," added the source.

Four bodies found dumped in various places in the capital on Saturday.

More than 100 Iraqi soldiers poisoned at breakfast on Saturday. No information so far as to whether this was a deliberate act. No reports of fatalities as of now but the victims have been hospitalized.


Armed men kidnap a Turkoman journalist.

Car bomb attack on bus terminal serving travelers to Kurdistan kills 8, injures 26. This incident is evidently related to the Arab-Kurdish border dispute.


One member of the Islamic party killed, two injured, and two kidnapped by unknown gunmen. Note: The Islamic Party is a Sunni Arab party, and this happened deep in Shiite-controlled territory. This delegation was traveling from the nearby city of Az Zubayr, it is not clear where they were going.

Six demonstrators wounded by private security forces of the South Oil Company. The demonstrators were protesting favoritism in hiring. (This is an interesting and revealing story about the state of affairs in Iraq, I recommend clicking the link. -- C)

Gunmen kill a member of the Election Council.


Gunmnen kill a woman in attack on her house. No information as to motive.


Police find a bullet-riddled body.


Sports director for Ninevah province and his driver injured in ambush attack on their vehicle.

Two gunmen of unidentified allegiance killed in clashes with security forces on Saturday.


Police officer killed in drive-by shooting.


Police officer killed in drive-by shooting.


Police arrest armed men inside a Shiite mosque. Affiliation of the arrestees is not stated.

Casualty Report

MNF announces the death of a MND-North soldier by small arms fire in Salah ah Din province on Oct. 25.


As before, I'm posting news of PKK-Turkish clashes inside Turkey because they are obviously directly relevant to the security situation in Iraq. 15 Kurdish fighters reported killed by Turkish forces in the province of Tunceli. No official confirmation of the death toll or information on any Turkish casualties.

Other News of the Day

Talks between Iraq and Turkey on border security collapse. Turkey declares its military options are still open as its troops mass along the border. Excerpt:

Turkey said Sunday that a military solution was still on the table to tackle Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq, while Washington urged dialogue to avert an incursion it feared would destabilize the region.

Turkish-Iraqi talks aimed at preventing a cross-border operation into northern Iraq collapsed late Friday as Ankara rejected Iraqi proposals as insufficient. Turkey has massed up to 100,000 troops, backed by fighter planes, helicopter gunships and tanks, on the border for a possible offensive against about 3,000 rebels using Iraq as a base from which to carry out attacks in Turkey.


Ankara has demanded that Iraq hand over all northern Iraq-based members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which is blamed for more than 30,000 deaths since the start of its separatist campaign in southeast Turkey in 1984.

But the central government has little control over semiautonomous northern Iraq, run by the Kurdistan Regional Government, whose leader, Masoud Barzani, has vowed not to hand over anyone to Turkey.

"I will not hand over any person to any regional state no matter the cost, however, in truth, I will not allow any PKK official to use the Kurdistan region as a base or to be present here and threaten the security of Turkey," Barzani said in an interview with Al Jazeera television aired on Sunday. "I will expel him from the Kurdistan region but I will not hand him over."

U.S. peace activists mark the fifth anniversary of the vote in Congress to authorize war with demonstrations in major cities throughout the country. People also take part in smaller cities and towns.

NYT's Michael Gordon reports that U.S. efforts to integrate Sunni Arab irregulars into the Iraqi police has met resistance from the Shiite-dominated government. Hardly a surprise. Excerpt:

The American military's push to organize Sunni Arabs into local neighborhood watch groups has been one of the most important U.S. initiatives in Iraq - so much so that President George W. Bush flew to Anbar Province in September to highlight growing alliances with Sunni tribal leaders.

But now that the United States is trying to institutionalize the arrangement by training the Sunnis to become police officers, the effort has been hampered by halfhearted support and, occasionally, outright resistance from a Shiite-dominated national government still inclined to see the Sunnis as a threat.

It was the U.S. military that pressed to open the new Habbaniya Police Training Center, where Sunni tribesmen and former insurgents are to be trained to serve as police officers in Anbar. And it was the Americans who provided the uniforms, food, new classrooms and equipment for the police recruits.

While the Iraqi government has agreed to basic police instruction at the academy, it has balked at training more senior officers there. The government has also scaled back plans by Anbar officials to expand the provincial police force by almost 50 percent.

"The Ministry of Interior deals with the Sunni provinces different than they deal with the other provinces," said Brigadier General David Phillips, a U.S. Army officer who oversees the training of the Iraq police. "The only reason the Anbar academy opened is because we built it, paid for it and staffed it." He said the Interior Ministry "was very hesitant about it."

U.S. formally hands over responsibility for security in Karbala to Iraqis. This is the 8th of 18 provinces to officially revert to Iraqi control, 10 short of the full devolution of control promised by GW Bush earlier this year. Only hitch -- Karbala is not in fact secure. Excerpt:

Kim Gamel in Nahrawan, Iraq October 29, 2007

US FORCES will turn over security to Iraqi authorities today in Karbala province, a Shiite region in southern Iraq. The much-delayed process has been punctuated by fierce fighting between rival militia factions.

Major-General Rick Lynch, the US commander for the area, said on Saturday that the Iraqis were ready to assume full control of their own security in the south-central province, which holds the shrines of two Shiite saints, Imam Abbas and Imam Hussein. But US troops will remain ready to step in when help is needed.

Karbala will become only the eighth of Iraq's 18 provinces to revert to Iraqi control, despite a prediction in January by the US President, George Bush, that the Iraqi Government would have responsibility for security in all of the provinces by next month.

General Lynch dismissed concerns about intra-Shiite rivalries, two months after clashes between militiamen battling for power erupted during a pilgrimage in the provincial capital of Karbala, leaving at least 52 people dead.

"Of course there's violence in the area, but not nearly of the magnitude that would cause me to be troubled by it," he said during a visit to a new patrol base being constructed in the Shiite city of Nahrawan.

Petraeus says al Qaeda's presence in Baghdad has been reduced, but the ideologically driven organization has been replaced by criminal gangs in its former strongholds in the capital. He also says al Qaeda remains a serious threat in Iraq.

Quote of the Day

The filing of this French case against Rumsfeld demonstrates that we will not rest until those U.S. officials involved in the torture program are brought to justice. Rumsfeld must understand that he has no place to hide. A torturer is an enemy of all humankind,

Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, referring to the complaint filed with the French Tribunal de Grande Instance charging Donald Rumsfeld with ordering and authorizing torture.

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald gets a truly depraved message from Col. Steven A. Boylan, the spokesman for Gen. Petraeus. In case you didn't know it, the United States military has been turned into a political arm of the Cheney Administration. This idiot thinks he's denying it, but he's actually proving it. That a man so evidently stupid and puerile became a Colonel in the United States Army, and was given a position of such responsibility, should be deeply disturbing and frightening to all of us. -- C