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

Saturday, May 17, 2008

News of the Day for Saturday, May 17, 2008

Iraqi government forces roll into the Shiite enclave of Sadr City in Baghdad Saturday, May 17, 2008. Sadr City appeared to be calm Saturday after weeks of bloody clashes between the US forces and Mahdi army fighters.
(AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Whisker is traveling today, so I'm doing a combined security update and general news post as I normally do on Sundays. -- C

Reported Security Incidents


Four bodies found in various places.

Rocket kills a woman and injures three children in Sadr City Friday night.


A woman blows herself up outside the base of a local "Awakening Council," killing two people and injuring more than ten. Aswat al-Iraq is now giving the total casualties as 15, although there is no breakdown of dead and injured. Reuters now says that a car bomb exploded at the scene later, injuring a policeman.

Wajihiyah (near Baquba)

Twenty armed men storm the "Awakening Council" base, killing three. Aswat al-Iraq adds that a subsequent mortar attack injured seven people.


Roadside bomb attack on an Australian patrol injures one Australian soldier, who is medically evacuated.

Salah al-Din province, location unspecified

Two Iraqi soldiers killed by roadside bomb. (Or more accurately it appears, a bomb in the road. We probably should call these devices remotely controlled mines.)


Iraqi Defense Ministry says more than 1,000 people arrested in the crackdown in Mosul, but there have been no "clashes or killings." There has been no response to the government's offer of amnesty or weapons buy-backs.


Roadside bomb kills a driver, injures his wife and two children No information on who the victim was or whether he was the intended target.

al-Zubaydiya (near Kut, Wassit province)

Iraqi forces say they arrested 36 individuals and seized weapons. No indication of who these people are or what group they may have belonged to. It's possible they are actually common criminals.

Other News of the Day

Police beat a Reuters photographer on Friday at the scene of a bombing. Whisker posted this information yesterday in the security update, but this article includes more detail on the assault on the photographer. I note that a very similar incident happened in Basra a few days ago.

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi makes a surprise visit to Baghdad, meets with PM al-Maliki. As of this posting Pelosi hasn't made any public statement about the trip, no information on her agenda.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey calls for the release of five British citizens kidnapped nearly one year ago in Baghdad. The British government has kept the issue quiet as it works for their release.

Iraq war veterans testify before members of Congress in opposition to the war. One, Matthis Chiroux, declares he is now a conscientious objector and refuses further service. This AFP article is the only description I have been able to find of this event. Unfortunately, it does not say what members of Congress were present, although clearly this was not an official hearing. -- C Excerpt:

Former army sergeant Kristofer Goldsmith told a half-dozen US lawmakers and scores of people who packed into a small hearing room of "lawless murders, looting and the abuse of countless Iraqis". He spoke of the psychologically fragile men and women who return from Iraq, to find little help or treatment offered from official circles.

Goldsmith said he had "self-medicated" for several months to treat the wounds of the war.

Another soldier said he had to boost his dosage of medication to treat anxiety and social agoraphobia — two of many lingering mental wounds he carries since his deployments in Iraq — before testifying.

Some 300 000 of the 1,6 million US soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from the psychological traumas of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or both, an independent study showed last month.

A group of veterans sitting in the hearing room gazed blankly as their comrades’ testimonies shattered the official version that the US effort in Iraq is succeeding.

Almost to a man, the soldiers who testified denounced serious flaws in the chain of command in Iraq. Luis Montalvan, a former army captain, accused high-ranking US officers of numerous failures in Iraq, including turning a blind eye to massive fraud on the part of US contractors.

Ex-Marine Jason Lemieux told how a senior officer had altered a report he had written because it slammed US troops of using excessive force, firing off thousands of rounds of machine gun fire and hundreds of grenades in the face of a feeble four rounds of enemy fire.

Goldsmith accused US officials of censorship. "Everyone who manages a blog, Facebook or Myspace out of Iraq has to register every video, picture, document of any event they do on mission," Goldsmith said after the hearing. "You’re almost always denied before you are allowed to send them home."

Officials take "hard facts and slice them into small pieces to make them presentable to the secretary of state or the president — and all with the intent of furthering the occupation of Iraq", Goldsmith added.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki blames Thursday's attack on Iranian diplomats in Baghdad on the United States. The actual events are still very murky.

Quote of the Day

Mr. Bush, at long last, has it not dawned on you that the America you have now created, includes "cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives?" They are those in — or formerly in — your employ, who may yet be charged some day with war crimes.

Through your haze of self-congratulation and self-pity, do you still have no earthly clue that this nation has laid waste to Iraq to achieve your political objectives? "This ideological struggle," Mr. Bush, is taking place within this country.

It is a struggle between Americans who cherish freedom, ours and everybody else's, and Americans like you, sir, to whom freedom is just a brand name, just like "Patriot Act" is a brand name or "Protect America" is a brand name.

Keith Olbermann