The bottom line is clear: Our vital interests in Afghanistan are limited and military victory is not the key to achieving them. On the contrary, waging a lengthy counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan may well do more to aid Taliban recruiting than to dismantle the group, help spread conflict further into Pakistan, unify radical groups that might otherwise be quarreling amongst themselves, threaten the long-term health of the U.S. economy, and prevent the U.S. government from turning its full attention to other pressing problems. -- Afghanistan Study Group

Thursday, March 13, 2008

News & Views 03/13/08

Photo: A resident looks at a destroyed house after clashes in Kut March 13, 2008. U.S. soldiers and Iraqi militants exchanged rocket and mortar fire between a Mehdi Army stronghold and a U.S. base in Kut, 170 km (105 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Iraqi police and the U.S. military said. Police said two civilians were killed and six wounded, but the U.S. military said it had no information on civilian casualties. REUTERS/Jaafer Abed


Thursday: 34 Iraqis Killed, 103 Wounded

Wednesday: 4 US Soldiers, 25 Iraqis Killed; 36 Iraqis Wounded

Iranian military shells Iraqi villages: mayor

Car bomb kills 11, wounds 57 in central Baghdad

Iraq violence up this year

Iraq has seen some increased violence since January, including suicide and car bombings, despite a sharp overall decline in attacks in the past eight months, the Pentagon has said.The rise in violence was partly as a result of recent US-led offensives against militants. The latest quarterly report on the war noted a rise in security incidents since January in Nineveh and Diyala provinces and other areas where it said Al Qaeda in Iraq militants had flocked since being driven from former strongholds by US-allied Sunni tribesmen.

Christians besieged in Iraq

Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho is thought to be the highest-ranking Chaldean Catholic clergyman to be killed in the violence in Iraq. He was the Archbishop of Mosul which, along with Baghdad, has been one of the worst places for attacks on Christians. For the Christians still remaining in Mosul the reaction may very well be that this death is neither the first nor likely to be the last. The Barnabas Fund, a charity in the UK that has tried to help Iraqi Christians, says there have been some very nasty cases of Christians being abducted, tortured and then killed and it says many Christians in Iraq are now deadened to the violence.

Kidnapped Iraq archbishop dead-Catholic news agency

Paulos Faraj Rahho, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop in Iraq who was kidnapped last month, has been found dead, an Italian Catholic news agency quoted an Iraqi bishop as saying on Thursday. "Archbishop Rahho is dead. We found his lifeless body near Mosul. The kidnappers had buried him," Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad was quoted as telling SIR, the news agency of the Italian Bishops' Conference.

Children of war: Picking up the pieces

Five-year-old Nahel lost his whole family – parents, sister, two brothers and his aunt – when their vehicle failed to stop at a Baghdad checkpoint and the US troops opened fire. He was taken in by an Iraqi NGO, and is now in the process of getting a new home in Dubai with South African civil engineer Peter Burns and his wife. "We were desperate to have children, and when we heard about Nahel through a friend in Iraq, we lost no time," said Burns. They are currently trying to navigate through the complicated UAE adoption laws. "We do not want this to go wrong...let him not lose us," added Burns.

…..According to Dr Khalid Al Jaberi, Medical Director at the hospital, "The UAE government bore the entire expense of over 10 cochlear implants of war-affected children from Iraq recently. In fact, along with the Red Crescent, the government is in the process of bringing in more war-affected Iraqi children suffering from congenital heart diseases due to air pollution." Other injuries that may be treated are blood cancer and skin diseases from chemical weapons used by the former regime.

Bereaved Iraqi mother vows revenge on US

Um Saad, a middle-aged woman living in the Sunni district of Khadra in west Baghdad, blames the Americans for the death of her husband and two of her sons and threatens revenge. "They are monsters and devils wearing human clothes," she exclaims vehemently. "One day I will put on an explosive belt under my clothes and then blow myself up among the Americans. I will get revenge against them for my husband and sons and I will go to paradise." Just as the White House and the Pentagon were trumpeting the success of "the surge" – the dispatch of extra American troops to Iraq last year – and the wire services' claim that the country has enjoyed "months of relative calm", Um Saad saw Saif, her second son, shot dead as he opened the door of her house.

….."I was so stupid," says Um Saad bitterly. "I thought the danger was that Saif would join al-Qa'ida because the Americans had killed his father and brother." In fact he secretly joined al-Sahwa and was expecting to earn $400 a month. On the night of 15 February as the family were having their supper there was knock on the door. Saif answered it and Um Saad heard shots. "I was too late," she says. "He was lying dead on the doorstep and on his chest was a piece of paper saying: 'Death to al-Sahwa and all enemies of al-Qa'ida'."

Neurotic Wife's blog – An Amazing Baghdadi day

I saw a little girl aged probably between seven or eight, with braided hair shining like gold, pink top and jeans, standing right next to barrels of fuel. I turned to M and said what is this? This is where I buy fuel for my car, it's the black market fuel he said. I was horrified. Why would a little girl sell it. M explained that the parents use their children because there is no law for impeaching kids, but instead they'd be placed in a juvenile home for a few days then get released. It caught my eye for a reason, how the hell will the little girl be able to carry a barrel that's twice her weight?

As we got closer to the GZ, I stared at the river, the Baghdadi sun shining its rays on the glistening waves which shined like Swarovski crystals. How can a river so dazzling, so beautiful, so calm, end up being the morgue of thousands upon thousands of decapitated dumped bodies. I looked at the sky, the clearest sea blue sky I have ever seen. How can a sky so gorgeous, so pure, end up being the birthplace of the horrendous shock and awe that ripped the city apart. That changed the whole world? HOW? My thoughts were cut short as we needed to get out of the car for the GZ checkpoint guards to check for explosives with the sniffer dog. We stood there for about 15 minutes until we were given the OK. And there I was, once again, back in that drabby green zone.

Return to Baghdad

In 2004, when I was working as a reporter in Iraq, I lived in a rented private home in the predominantly Christian, central Baghdad neighbourhood of Arasat. I roamed the streets on foot or in my own car I had brought over from Germany - a blue 1987 Volkswagen Passat station wagon. I had no security guards, just a translator who would sit in the passenger seat and guide me through Baghdad's labyrinthine neighbourhoods while reading the local headlines to me. In pursuit of stories, I traveled from Zacho on the Turkish border to Basra down at the Shatt-al-Arab; from Baquba in the far east to Hit on the Euphrates river in Anbar in the far west. Now, four years later, the only area of Baghdad considered "safe" comprises a mere 7.7 square kilometres.

Mines Advisory Group (MAG) Iraq: Latest update

The programme continued to reduce risk to vulnerable communities and support conflict recovery and rehabilitation by implementing Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) and Small Arms Light Weapons (SALW) projects in Dahok, Diyala, Erbil, Kirkuk, Ninewah and Sulimaniyah governorates

- MAG teams searched and cleared 15,898 square metres of land using hand, electronic, and visual techniques

- Mine Risk Education (MRE) teams delivered 12 MRE sessions reaching 2,928 individuals. MAG continued to monitor and support the delivery of MRE by 83 teachers to students and delivered 395 MRE booklets, 21 teachers' guides and 14 sets of MRE posters to schools

- Community Liaison (CL) teams identified 32 dangerous areas and three previously unreported battle areas. They conducted community assessments in five 5 villages, interviewing 204 people

MAG would like to express gratitude to the following donors to the Iraq programme:

- Belgian Government - Irish Aid - Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of the Netherlands - Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, US Department of State - SIDA (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) MAG is the largest NGO employer in northern Iraq and is currently sourcing funding for 2008 and beyond. If the programme cannot maintain funding, it will have to reduce current capacity.

CHRONOLOGY-Iraq from invasion to brink of civil war

Following is a chronology of key events in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein. – Year One

March 20, 2003 - U.S. and British forces invade from Kuwait.

April 9 - U.S. troops take Baghdad, Saddam disappears.

July 13 - The Iraqi Governing Council -- 25 Iraqis chosen under U.S. supervision -- holds inaugural meeting in Baghdad.

Aug. 19 - Suicide truck bomb wrecks U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, killing 22 people, including U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Aug. 29 - A car bomb kills at least 83 people, including top Shi'ite Muslim leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim, at the Imam Ali mosque in Najaf.

Dec. 13 - U.S. troops capture Saddam near Tikrit. U.S. governor Paul Bremer breaks news with: "We got him."

March 2, 2004 - 171 people are killed in twin attacks in Baghdad and Kerbala.


Sectarian distrust challenges Iraqi general in divided village

Former head of Saddam Hussein's 37th army division, the two-star general now leads the war-ravaged region's police force in the tinderbox Diyala province. "We need to stop this spiral of violence. My father is a Shiite. My mother is a Sunni. I am an Iraqi," he said, heading into the village as part of an inquiry into claims of police intimidation. Tiny though it is, the hamlet some 60 kilometres (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad has been split in two by religious loyalties, with Large Barwanah's Sunni majority at loggerheads with the Shiite population of Little Barwanah, who drape their territory with black, green and red flags.

Iraqi Militia Told to Cease Fire After Clashes

One of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's senior aides ordered his Mehdi Army militiamen on Thursday to observe a ceasefire after they clashed with U.S. soldiers in the southern city of Kut. Sadr, whose militia fought two battles against U.S. forces in southern Iraq in 2004, extended a seven-month-old ceasefire last month, but at the weekend issued a statement telling followers they could defend themselves if attacked. Mehdi Army militiamen battled Iraqi and U.S. forces on Tuesday in clashes that police said killed 11 people. Late on Wednesday night, gunmen exchanged rocket and mortar fire with U.S. soldiers at a base near Kut. "We call on them to calm down and to cease fire and to stop shedding the blood of Iraqis. This is the opinion of Sadr, whether it is in Kut or any other Iraqi provinces," Luwaa Sumaisem, a senior aide to Sadr, told Reuters.

….. Hussein al-Quraishi, a Kut police lieutenant who identified himself as the uncle of the two brothers who were killed, said he saw two men in a pick-up truck and two on motorcycles launch six rockets from a field near his house towards the U.S. base. About 30 minutes later, mortar rounds landed on four houses nearby, demolishing his brother's house, he said. "If the gunmen want to fight, there is the American base, let them go there and fight," Quraishi said, wiping tears from his eyes with his shirt sleeves. "What have we done wrong? Our children are horrified. My brother's sons were killed."


Lie By Lie: An Iraq War Timeline

Five years on, Rice admits mistakes in Iraqi reconstruction

Almost five years after the start of the Iraq war, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged Wednesday that US-led efforts to rebuild the country should have begun much earlier. "I would have to admit, I think we've learned that, yes, it is really important to be able to help others build their states, to help others build their nations," she told US lawmakers. She was replying to a question on whether the administration of President George W. Bush had changed its mind on the controversial issue of helping other countries with "nation-building." "My view is, it is still something that we need to do with civilians," Rice, who was national security advisor at the time of the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, told a congressional committee. [Rice is a destroyer, not a builder. – dancewater]

The U.S. Military's Assassination Problem

The practice, which is shrouded under a veil of intense secrecy, is generally regarded as warfare's answer to laser surgery: clean and accurate, cheaper than waging a protracted ground battle, and less risky for American troops. But in reality, these premeditated and narrowly focused air bombings often fail to kill their intended foe and hit civilians instead. "It's much more difficult to hunt people with a 2,000-pound bomb than people realize," says Marc Garlasco, who until 2003 was one of the Pentagon's leading analysts of air strikes, including assassinations.

During the invasion of Iraq, Garlasco's job was to analyze targets with an eye toward minimizing collateral damage using a software program called Bugsplat. Days after Baghdad fell, Garlasco, intent on examining firsthand the military's success or failure in sparing civilians, accepted a position with Human Rights Watch (hrw) and traveled to Iraq to do just that. Among the sites he studied was a Basra neighborhood where the United States dropped bombs meant for Lt. General Ali Hassan al-Majid—nicknamed Chemical Ali because of his role in gassing tens of thousands of Kurds. Garlasco had watched the bull's-eye attack live on video transmitted from a Predator drone. "We cheered when the bomb went in," he says.

But Chemical Ali survived, and witnesses told Garlasco that they'd never seen him in the targeted location. As part of his investigation for hrw, the analyst met a 50-year-old laborer whose home was destroyed in the attack, killing seven family members. He found that 10 neighbors had also died. "When I stood in the crater and I was talking to the survivors," Garlasco says, "it wasn't so cool anymore."

China Hits Back at US On Human Rights, says Iraq War A Disaster

China on Thursday accused the United States of human rights hypocrisy, as it branded the US invasion of Iraq the “greatest humanitarian disaster” of the modern world. …“(America’s) arrogant critique on the human rights of other countries are always accompanied by a deliberate ignoring of serious human rights problems on its own territory,” said the report, released by the state Xinhua news agency. [They got that right. – dancewater]

The First Sixth-Anniversary-of-the-Iraq-War Article

In mainstream Washington, hardly anyone has taken a step outside the box of conventional, inside-the-Beltway thinking about Iraq, which is why it’s possible to imagine March 19, 2009 with some confidence. For them, the Washington consensus, such as it is, is the only acceptable one and the disagreements within it, the only ones worth having. And here are its eight fundamentals:

*A belief that effective U.S. power must invariably be based on the threat of, or use of, dominant force, and so must centrally involve the U.S. military.

*A belief that all answers of any value are to be found in Washington among the serried ranks of officials, advisors, former officials, pundits, think-tank operators, and other inside-the-Beltway movers and shakers, who have been tested over the years and found never to have a surprise in them. Most of them are notable mainly for having been wrong so often. This is called “experience.”

*A belief that the critics of Washington policy outside Washington and its consensus are, at best, gadflies, never worth seriously consulting on anything.

*A belief that the American people, though endlessly praised in political campaigns, are know-nothings who couldn’t think their way out of a proverbial paper bag when it comes to the supposedly arcane science of foreign policy, and so would certainly not be worth consulting on “national security” matters or issues involving the sacred “national interest,” which is, in any case, the property of Washington. Like Iraqis and Afghans, the American people need good (or even not so good) shepherds in the national capital to answer that middle-of-the-night ringing phone and rescue them from impending harm. (The very foolishness of Americans can be measured by opinion polls which indicated that a majority of them had decided by 2005 that all American troops should be brought home from Iraq at a reasonable speed and that the U.S. should not have permanent military bases in that country.)

*A belief that no other countries (or individuals elsewhere) have anything significant or original to offer when it comes to solving problems like the situation in Iraq (unless, of course, they agree with us). They are to be ignored, insists the Bush administration, or, say leading Democrats, “talked to” and essentially corralled into signing onto, and carrying out, the solutions we consider reasonable.

*A belief that local peoples are incapable of solving their own problems without the intercession of, or the guiding hand (or Hellfire missile) of, Washington, which means, of course, of the U.S. military.

*A belief that the United States — whatever the problem — must be an essential part of the solution, not part of the problem itself.

*And finally, a belief (though no one would ever say this) that the lives of those children of George Bush’s wars of choice, already of an age to be given their first lessons in global “realism,” don’t truly matter, not when the Great Game of geopolitics and energy is at stake.

Public Is Less Aware of Iraq Casualties, Study Finds

Twenty-eight percent of the public is aware that nearly 4000 US personnel have died in Iraq over the past five years, while nearly half thinks the death tally is 3000 or fewer and 23 percent think it is higher, according to an opinion survey released yesterday. The survey, by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, found that public awareness of developments in the Iraq war has dropped precipitously since last summer, as the news media have paid less attention to the conflict. In earlier surveys, about half of those asked about the death tally responded correctly.


Iraq After the Gulf War Sanctions, Part 1

While inspections continued, a far more compelling and significant drama was playing out — the progressive deterioration and destruction of an entire society. The mainstream U.S. discourse about sanctions on Iraq has generally oscillated between the two poles marked out by the above statements of Madeleine Albright — a hard-nosed assessment that U.S. policy objectives are more important than the deaths of children (rarely so honestly stated), and sanctimony about the great U.S. government concern for the Iraqi people combined with crocodile tears about Saddam Hussein’s cruelty (which few people contest). Just as the big question with regard to inspections was “Why doesn’t he just cooperate and get sanctions lifted?” the big questions regarding sanctions include “Why did he wait so long before agreeing to the Oil for Food program?” and “Why did he spend the money on palaces and weapons instead of feeding his people?”

Let’s start by noting that the term “sanctions” is itself highly misleading. The United States has levied unilateral sanctions on hundreds of occasions. The United Nations has authorized sanctions on 14 different occasions. Never, however, have there been such comprehensive international restrictions on all exports and imports as were imposed on Iraq after the Gulf War; never have prohibitions on imports been enforced by attaching a country’s entire foreign earnings and placing them in a closely monitored bank account, with numerous bureaucratic impediments to disbursement of funds.

………Numerous estimates of child deaths due to sanctions have been made, but by far the most authoritative study — and the only one involving independent new data — was done by UNICEF in 1999. Based on a survey of nearly 24,000 households, it concluded that for central and south Iraq the under-age–5 mortality rate averaged 56 out of 1,000 in the period from 1984 to 1989 and 131 out of 1,000 from 1994 to 1999 — an increase of more than 130 percent.

Iraq After the Gulf War Sanctions, Part 2

In July 1991, Sadruddin Aga Khan, sent to Iraq by the UN secretary general, estimated that it would cost $22 billion to restore basic sectors in Iraq to pre-war levels. Since this represented far more oil than Iraq would be likely to be allowed to sell, he prepared a minimum estimate of $6.9 billion for full restoration of health and agriculture, half of electrical power, 40 percent of water and sanitation, provision of bare subsistence-level amounts of food, and limited repairs to northern oil facilities. He then suggested that Iraq be allowed to sell $2.65 billion worth of oil over four months, with permission to be renewed if no problems emerged.

When this proposal was discussed in the Security Council, the United States caused the period to be lengthened to six months, reduced the amount to $1.6 billion, and required that 30 percent of that be taken for the UN Compensation Fund. All told, when the proposal finally passed, the amount to be available for humanitarian needs would have been $930 million for six months — per month, 23 percent of what the Aga Khan had suggested as a minimum, rock-bottom figure. [In short, the US starved them on purpose, and made them weak on purpose, so that they would be easier to dominate when the wished for invasion and occupation finally came. – dancewater]

……….The United States imposed well over 1,000 holds on contracts, followed by Britain with over 100. According to Gordon,

In early 2001, the United States had placed holds on $280 million in medical supplies, including vaccines to treat infant hepatitis, tetanus, and diphtheria, as well as incubators and cardiac equipment.

The rationale was that the vaccines contained live cultures, albeit highly weakened ones. The Iraqi government, it was argued, could conceivably extract these, and eventually grow a virulent fatal strain, then develop a missile or other delivery system that could effectively disseminate it.

UNICEF and UN health agencies, along with other Security Council members, objected strenuously. European biological-weapons experts maintained that such a feat was in fact flatly impossible. At the same time, with massive epidemics ravaging the country, and skyrocketing child mortality, it was quite certain that preventing child vaccines from entering Iraq would result in large numbers of child and infant deaths.


Iraqi asylum seekers given deadline

More than 1,400 rejected Iraqi asylum seekers are to be told they must go home or face destitution in Britain as the government considers Iraq safe enough to return them, according to leaked Home Office correspondence seen by the Guardian. The Iraqis involved are to be told that unless they sign up for a voluntary return programme to Iraq within three weeks, they face being made homeless and losing state support. They will also be asked to sign a waiver agreeing the government will take no responsibility for what happens to them or their families once they return to Iraqi territory. The decision by the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, to declare that it is safe to send asylum seekers back to Iraq comes after more than 78 people have been killed in incidents across Iraq since last Sunday.

Iraq's Lost Generation

In the past five years more than four million Iraqis - 20 per cent of the entire population - have been driven from their homes as a result of the war and sectarian bloodshed. Two million have become exiles, living desperate lives across the border in Syria and Jordan. …… Iraq's Lost Generation is the first film in the Happy Birthday Iraq season marking the fifth anniversary of the invasion - a series of penetrating programmes examining the devastating fall-out of the war for Iraq and the Middle East, America and Britain. Award-winning journalist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy travels to Syria and Jordan to investigate the plight of Iraqi refugees. These are the very people on whom the new, democratic Iraq was to be built - the professional middle classes - nearly half of whom now live as desperate refugees, driven out by the violence and civil breakdown. [This type of show will never be on American TVs. – dancewater]

How to Help Iraqi Refugees


Cartoon: Iraq-A-Mole

You Tube: The US Press & Bush

Crimes, lies, human misery, are all just jokes for bush. Filmed at the annual Gridiron dinner, where the US press shows how they love to suck up to the republicans in power. They also show why they are moral failures and unable to be a real news source that serves the public’s interests.

This is so very sick: Bush Says War With Iraq 'Will Forever Be' the Right Decision

The Iraq Follies

In putting together my new book, So Wrong for So Long, on Iraq and the media, I revisited the good, the bad, and the ugly in war coverage from the run-up to the invasion through the five years of controversy that followed. Even though I monitored the coverage closely all along, I was continually surprised to come across once-prominent names, quotes, and incidents that had faded to obscurity. Here is a list of 18 of those nearly forgotten episodes, in roughly chronological order.

1) The day before the invasion, Bill O'Reilly said, "If the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clean, he has nothing, I will apologize to the nation; I will not trust the Bush administration again, all right?"

2) Phil Donahue lost his show at MSNBC, he later claimed, because he did not wave the flag enough. A leaked NBC memo confirmed Donahue's suspicion, noting that the host "presents a difficult public face for NBC in a time of war.... At the same time our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity."

3) After the fall of Baghdad, MSNBC's Chris Matthews declared, "We're all neocons now."

4) The same day, Joe Scarborough, also on MSNBC, said, "I'm waiting to hear the words 'I was wrong' from some of the world's most elite journalists, politicians, and Hollywood types."

5) The New York Times' Thomas Friedman wrote, "As far as I am concerned, we do not need to find any weapons of mass destruction to justify this war.... Mr. Bush doesn't owe the world any explanation for missing chemical weapons."

6) President Bush's comedy routine during the Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner in Washington, D.C., on March 24, 2004, included a bit about the still-missing WMD. While a slide show of the president scouring the White House was projected on the wall behind him, he joked, "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere...Nope, no weapons over there...Maybe under here?" Most of the crowd roared, and there was little criticism in the media in following days. Mother Jones' David Corn, then Washington editor of The Nation, was one of the few attendees to criticize the routine. Corn wondered if they would have laughed if Ronald Reagan had, following the truck bombing of our Marine barracks in Beirut, which killed 241, said at a similar dinner, "Guess we forgot to put in a stoplight."

Measuring Success of the Surge: Nir Rosen Debates Fred Kagan

FREDERICK KAGAN: Well, there's a magnificent myth out there that Mr. Rosen just reiterated for us that there are no mixed areas in Iraq anymore and that the cleansing is completed. And it's astonishing to me that someone who's been in Baghdad for as long and as much as Mr. Rosen has been could say something like that. There are still Shia areas in western Baghdad, not only in Kadamiyah, around the Kadamiyah shrine, in which there will always be Shia, but also in west Rashid.

JIM LEHRER: What does that mean?

FREDERICK KAGAN: It means that you still have -- in neighborhoods that are predominantly Sunni, on the west side of the river, which is historically the Sunni side of the river, you still have Shia enclaves that are within those neighborhoods.
Now, they're more consolidated than they had been before, certainly. At a low level, you certainly have seen that kind of consolidation, but there is no natural dividing line between Sunni and Shia in Baghdad, let alone around Baghdad, let alone in Diyala. And the result is that -- for those people that want sectarian conflict, there are more than enough sectarian raw edges, both in Baghdad and around the capital, to be generating that kind of conflict. The fact that we've seen the violence drop even though you still do have mixed areas in Baghdad, Baquba, Diyala and so forth, tells you that there has to be something more here than the cleansing has been done.

JIM LEHRER: Mr. Rosen?

NIR ROSEN: Well, it's true that there are Shia areas in western Baghdad, but that's because the Shia militias made a lot of inroads even in western Baghdad. And they control more and more neighborhoods within the west.
But what's really frightening is that, indeed, when that sectarian fighting will resume -- and it will -- there's going to be nowhere to run to, because Syria and Jordan have closed their borders to Iraqi refugees; 11 of Iraq's 18 governors have closed their borders to internally displaced Iraqis. So when the fighting resumes intensively, it's going to be a slaughter.

JIM LEHRER: Why are you so sure it's going to resume?

NIR ROSEN: When you talk to people on both sides, to the militiamen, they're quite clear about their motives. The Sunni groups, the Americans call them concerned local citizen or other euphemisms; they call themselves the awakening. They're quite clear. They're not just security forces that are cooperating with the Americans. They're temporarily not fighting the Americans because they want to regroup and prepare themselves to fight the Shias. The Mahdi army is there. And this is their worst nightmare. The Sunnis, who we defeated -- and this is actually the Iraqi government in general, all the Shia Islamists who control the security forces and the government, and the Mahdi army, this is their worst nightmare. We defeated the Sunnis. We kicked them out of most of Baghdad. We certainly got them out of power. And here they are coming through the back door, thanks to the Americans. [Rosen is fluent in Arabic, Kagen is not. – dancewater]

Guest Editorial on Juan Cole’s blog by William Polk

They are motivated by the desire to get the foreigners So how do insurgents go about it?Almost all have miniscule origins. Half a dozen up to about 3 or four dozen insurgents – or as the French call them, militants -- is the norm. So, being unable to field significant forces and usually having only light arms, they have to begin with terrorism. Their first aim is establish a basis to speak for the general public – that is, to acquire political legitimacy. Often, indeed usually, this is done by picking a target that the general public believes to be illegal, morally wrong, corrupt and oppressive.

By attacking these targets, they accomplish several objectives – first they demonstrate their own courage and do what many others would like to do but did not dare; second, they prove that action can be taken and that those who take it can survive; and third they acquire the tools to continue their struggle. So the insurgents attack the “oppressors,” the police, the landlords, the foreigners, with the ostensible but also real aim of acquiring arms. For them, the police and army are the hardware stores. This was certainly the case in Vietnam where the South Viet Nam army was the source of most of the arms for the Viet Minh.Then as a few arms are acquired, the original little little band grows bolder. As it does, it attracts followers so that soon it becomes several hundred. These groups often scatter to make themselves less vulnerable.

Some insurgencies never get beyond this stage. The IRA is an example. But, if they are lucky and smart, the begin to acquire safe havens to which they can retreat to rest, train and recruit. . Then, as their numbers and effectiveness grow, they begin to try to destroy the existing government. In Vietnam for example, the Viet Minh murdered the police, tax collectors and government-appointed village officials. The IRA tried to destroy Mrs. Thatcher’s whole cabinet. Often their most dreaded enemies are fellow citizens who cooperate with the government or the foreigners. We see that in Iraq today and it was evident in Yugoslavia where Tito fought Mikhailovic and the EAM/ELAS fought Napoleon Zervas.Next, successful insurgents begin to replace the old government so they themselves start to collect taxes, open schools, run clinics and manufacture or repair arms. Tito even ran a postal service on his own railroad. Tito manufactured cigarettes and even rifles – each stamped with the logo of his movement. And, Tito, the EAM/ELAS and the Viet Minh set up mini-governments in all the villages they could reach.

Finally, as they arm, train and grow in numbers they move from hit and run raids to formal confrontation. This is a very dangerous transition and often it is tried too early, as General Giap did against the French. But even if battles are lost, if the insurgents have done the other things right, they can regroup and rebuild, as the Viet Minh did and as Tito did. But fighting is not the core of the struggle: it is to wear down the morale of the opponent, to make his task too expensive or too ugly to be sustained.


Vets Break Silence on Iraq War Crimes

U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are planning to descend on Washington from Mar. 13-16 to testify about war crimes they committed or personally witnessed in those countries. "The war in Iraq is not covered to its potential because of how dangerous it is for reporters to cover it," said Liam Madden, a former Marine and member of the group Iraq Veterans Against the War. "That's left a lot of misconceptions in the minds of the American public about what the true nature of military occupation looks like." Iraq Veterans Against the War argues that well-publicized incidents of U.S. brutality like the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the massacre of an entire family of Iraqis in the town of Haditha are not the isolated incidents perpetrated by "a few bad apples," as many politicians and military leaders have claimed. They are part of a pattern, the group says, of "an increasingly bloody occupation."

Please go to this website to sign the petition to support IVAW.

Quote of the day: I am willing to make a bet to anyone here that we care more about the Iraqi people than Saddam Hussein does. — U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, CNN Town Hall Meeting, Columbus, Ohio, February 18, 1998

We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it? — Lesley Stahl on UN sanctions against Iraq, 60 Minutes, May 12, 1996

I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it. — U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright replying

When you’ve got the story straight, the sanctions on Iraq emerge as one of the worst horrors of our time. ~ Rahul Mahajan