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

Saturday, September 1, 2007

News & Views 09/01/07

Photo: An Iraqi man cleans up a room that was searched during the joint U.S. and Iraqi military raid in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq Saturday, Sept. 1, 2007. Joint Iraqi and U.S. forces supported with tanks and air coverage raided the Shiite stronghold of al-Mahdi army militias at al-Orfali area in Sadr city detaining 8 suspects on early Saturday morning. (AP Photo/ Karim Kadim) [I would not use the word “searched”. I would say “destroyed”. Also, there were pictures of cars that were demolished during this operation. – dancewater]


Cholera in northern Iraq

Aid agencies had warned of the possibility of a cholera outbreak as blazing summer heat settled in Iraq, where the infrastructure is shattered by war and neglect. The disease tends to appear in the summer because, as the temperature rises, Iraq's chronic electricity shortages make it difficult to operate pumps at sewage and drinking-water treatment plants, which leaves many people without clean water. That was evident Wednesday at a squalid encampment outside Sulaymaniya, where several hundred people live in makeshift tents that are little more than worn blankets draped over wooden frames. Girls and women lined up to fill containers from a tanker distributing water.

"We drink from this water, whether it's drinkable or not," Zahra Jabbar Kadhim said. "In this tent, we bathe, cook and sleep," she said, pointing to the canvas she shares with her husband, Abdullah Ahmed, and four children. Ahmed, a Sunni Arab, said they fled Baghdad after a Shiite militia threatened to kill him. Lamia Karim Shaalan ended up at the camp after she sold everything she had, including her shop, to pay a $60,000 ransom to kidnappers who took her 10-year-old daughter in Baghdad's Dora neighborhood. "We live in this handmade tent on the sand and in the middle of heat and snakes," she said. A Shiite man whose wife gave birth in their tent a week ago said they fled to Sulaymaniya from the Sadiya neighborhood in southwest Baghdad seven months ago after Shiite militiamen discovered his wife was Sunni and ordered him to divorce her. A nurse with the Kurdistan Health Organization, Abdul Karim, said the camp, which has neither garbage disposal nor a sewage system, is a breeding ground for disease.

Iraq water plant treatment causes cholera

Health Minister of Iraq’s Kurdistan Zairan Othman announced that a water treatment plant in al Sulaymaniya Province is the source of cholera infection in the Province. Othman warned of a catastrophe if the outbreak is not quickly contained, saying that samples taken from the water treatment plant showed the presence of the bacterium that causes cholera. Health committees in the Province warned of the cholera infection’s spread among the people because of lack of health monitoring.

Hundreds Displaced in Northern Iraq

As explosions boomed in the distance, a Kurdish woman stood outside her house and pointed to where shells scorched parts of her father's grapes and plum orchards. "It was a bad day when some 20 shells hit our village in a single day last week. We were crying as we prayed to God to protect us from the bombs of the Islamic Republic of Iran," said Serwa Ibrahim, one of the few remaining villagers in Mardow, about 25 miles from the Iranian border. "Despite the shelling, I will stay in my village until the end," Ibrahim, 33, said Thursday. Iranian troops have been accused of bombing border areas for weeks against suspected positions of the Free Life Party, or PEJAK, a breakaway faction of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party. Iran says PEJAK - which seeks autonomy for Kurds in Iran - launches attacks inside Iran from bases in Iraq.

More Than 1,800 Iraqis Killed in August

Civilian deaths rose slightly in August as a huge suicide attack in the north two weeks ago offset security gains elsewhere, making it the second deadliest month for Iraqis since the U.S. troop buildup began, according to figures compiled Saturday by The Associated Press. U.S. deaths remained well below figures from last winter when the U.S began dispatching 30,000 additional troops to Iraq. At least 1,809 civilians were killed in the month, compared to 1,760 in July, based on figures compiled by the AP from official Iraqi reports. That brings to 27,564 the number of Iraqi civilians killed since AP began collecting data on April 28, 2005. The August total included 520 people killed in quadruple suicide bombings on Yazidi communities near the Syrian border. The horrific attacks made Aug. 14 the single deadliest day since the war began in March 2003. [I think way more then 1,800 were killed in August. Way more. – dancewater]

200 journalists killed in Iraq war

At least two hundred journalists and media workers have been killed in Iraq since US-led invasion of the country in March 2003. Up to 49 journalists and media workers have been killed since the beginning of 2007, 73 percent of whom were directly targeted. Eighty percent of the victims who were Iraqi nationals and worked for foreign news organizations were singled out by armed groups. The Iraqi journalists were mainly targeted because the insurgents were angered by their coverage or were ideologically opposed to their employers. More journalists have been taken hostage in Iraq than anywhere else in the world.


Sunni clerics condemn Iranian president's statements to fill Iraq vacuum

The Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) condemned statements by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in which he said his country was ready to fill the security vacuum in Iraq in case U.S. forces withdraw. "Iranian President Ahmadinejad's statements have caused concern to all groups of the Iraqi people," according to an AMS statement published on its web site on Friday. "These statements would not be understood by the Iraqi people as a form of help. Iran's interference in Iraq since the (U.S.) invasion was negative and not in line with good neighborliness," it read. The AMS, the largest organization for Sunni Muslims in Iraq, is outspokenly opposing foreign military presence in Iraq and the governments that ruled the country successively since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in march 2003.

Mahdi Army split group rejects the “freeze”

A new group called “Free Fyhaa-Alsadr” [a split group from “Mahdi Army”] announced themselves for the first time today saying, they are rejecting the halt of “Mahdi Army” activities, because Karbala events were pre-planned by the Iranian intelligence. The new group estimated the number of the Iranian inelegance elements in Iraq guarding the holy sites in Karbala about “3000″, who smuggle arms and ammunition from Iran to Iraq. The organization revealed that the Iranian elements are gathering information about Iraqi pilots who participated in the Iraq-Iran war to be assassinated. [This was only reported on this site and on Iraq Slogger – which is now a subscription service. This means I will not be using Iraq Slogger for any more stories. – dancewater]


General Petraeus on Iraq: Always Partisan, Always Wrong

Gen. David Petraeus is a good man and a great soldier with a track record of almost complete failure in his previous tours of duty in Iraq. Let this be said up front: While the president and Petraeus maneuver for him to testify on the anniversary of Sept. 11, the Speaker and majority leader should hold firm and say that this matter is not subject to discussion and the general will not testify on this date. The fact that Petraeus would allow himself to be used in this attempt at shameful exploitation of the one day on our calendar that should be above exploitation, speaks for itself.


For the past month, the Bush Administration and General Petraeus have asserted that a drop in violence is evidence that the "surge" is working. Unfortunately, the evidence is difficult to validate. Underreporting civilian deaths is, sadly, nothing new. A number of U.S. agencies differ with the Administration's assessment that sectarian violence is down and in fact there are inconsistencies within the Pentagon's own reporting. The Iraq Study Group concluded that in the past car-bombs that don't kill Americans, murders, and inter-ethnic violence were not tracked in order to demonstrate reduced violence. Recent analysis indicates that some of these trends continue. More importantly, the military has refused to show the public any evidence to support the claim that violence is down.


Secret report: corruption is "norm" within Iraqi government

As Congress prepares to receive reports on Iraq from General David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and readies for a debate on George W. Bush's latest funding request of $50 billion for the Iraq war, the performance of the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has become a central and contentious issue. But according to the working draft of a secret document prepared by the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, the Maliki government has failed in one significant area: corruption. Maliki's government is "not capable of even rudimentary enforcement of anticorruption laws," the report says, and, perhaps worse, the report notes that Maliki's office has impeded investigations of fraud and crime within the government. The draft--over 70 pages long--was obtained by The Nation, and it reviews the work (or attempted work) of the Commission on Public Integrity (CPI), an independent Iraqi institution, and other anticorruption agencies within the Iraqi government. Labeled "SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED/Not for distribution to personnel outside of the US Embassy in Baghdad," the study details a situation in which there is little, if any, prosecution of government theft and sleaze. Moreover, it concludes that corruption is "the norm in many ministries." The report depicts the Iraqi government as riddled with corruption and criminals-and beyond the reach of anticorruption investigators. It also maintains that the extensive corruption within the Iraqi government has strategic consequences by decreasing public support for the U.S.-backed government and by providing a source of funding for Iraqi insurgents and militias.

Quote of the day: Fear is the foundation of most governments. - John Adams