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 7, 2007

News of the Day for Sunday, October 7, 2007

Members of Arab Jabour Awakening, part of the 'concerned citizens' movement, prepare to receive their pay for providing security to facilities in Arab Jabour, a suburb south of Baghdad, Iraq on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2007. The men are part of a movement of armed civilians who in their community, a Sunni enclave that has fallen prey to al-Qaida militants.(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo) Note: Shiite residents of the area have previously demonstrated against this group and the policy of arming Sunni militias, accusing them of attacks on Shiite non-combatants.

Reported Security Incidents


three civilians killed, four injured when a bomb apparently targeting a police patrol explodes near a minibus carrying commuters. VoI gives the toll as two killed, seven injured. Incident occurs in the Shiite district of Baladiyat.

VoI also reports two killed, five injured by a car bomb in central Baghdad early on Sunday.

Three killed, five injured by car bomb near the Iranian embassy. This was not the same incident reported by VoI, above, because McClatchy clearly reports two separate car bombings.

McClatchy also reports a bomb targeting a police patrol injured two people on Qanat Street.

Baghdad Governor Hussein al-Tahan survives, two of his bodyguards injured in ambush attack on his convoy.

Roadside bomb targeting a U.S. patrol in Dora kills three Iraqi civilians, injures three others.

Five bodies found dumped in various places in the capital.


U.S. forces open fire on an ambulance, kill the driver and an EMT. Medical workers stage a sit-in in protest. No comment from the U.S. on the incident.

Baquba area

Two injured by explosion in Khalis, north of Baquba, while 10 explosive devices were found and defused in al-Salam.

Mussayab (south of Baghdad)

Two bodies, shot and stabbed, retrieved from the Euphrates.

Body Count

Yup, they do 'em now. U.S. claims one insurgent killed, nine detained in operations in "Mosul, Tikrit, Samarra and Baghdad".

Other News of the Day

Muqtada al-Sadr and Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim agree to a truce. Sadrists say the agreement pertains to armed conflict between Badr and Mahdi Army militias, does not signal political reconciliation with the government. Excerpt:

BAGHDAD (AP) - Two of Iraq’s most powerful Shiite leaders agreed yesterday to end a bitter rivalry in a bid to end months of armed clashes and assassinations in the oil-rich south that have threatened to spread into a wider conflict. Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the largest Shiite political party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, promised to stop the bloodshed and enhance cooperation between their two movements.

An official in al-Sadr’s office in the holy city of Najaf called the agreement a "fresh start."

Internal rivalries have been rising in recent months, particularly in the southern Shiite heartland, where factions have been vying for power as the British military has pulled back to a base at the Basra airport. The three-point agreement appeared to be aimed at reining in rival militants loyal to al-Sadr and al-Hakim before the fighting erupts into a full-fledged conflict that could shatter the relative unity of the Shiite-led governing apparatus.

It also comes as mainstream politicians from Iraq’s majority sect have been trying to bring al-Sadr back into the fold after his loyalists pulled out of the main Shiite bloc last month. The Sadrists’ pullout left the United Iraqi Alliance, which includes al-Hakim’s SIIC, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa party and some independents, with only 85 seats - a dramatic drop for an alliance that once held 130 seats in the 275-member Parliament.

Sadrist lawmaker Nassar al-Rubaie said the agreement did not change the movement’s political opposition to al-Maliki’s beleaguered government but was aimed at "preventing clashes between the two groups and reducing the violence hitting the country."

"We have agreed to form joint committees to investigate any friction and to determine the reasons and the people behind it," he said, stressing the need for dialogue. "This agreement will mean less bloodshed."

KUNA reports that U.S. military cordons off Dora district, allows only women and children to leave the area, in preparation for a land and air assault.

Yazidis decide not to hold public celebrations of their most important religious observance due to security concerns.

NYT's Hugh Naylor reports that Syria is strengthening ties with Sunni Arab opponents of Iraq's Shiite-dominated government, looking to the waning of U.S. influence. However, this is irritating to Iran, further illustrating the regional tensions resulting from the elimination of the Baathist regime. Excerpt:

DAMASCUS, Syria, Oct. 6 — Syria is encouraging Sunni Arab insurgent groups and former Iraqi Baathists with ties to the leaders of Saddam Hussein’s government to organize here, diplomats and Syrian political analysts say. By building strong ties to those groups, they say, Syria hopes to gain influence in Iraq before what it sees as the inevitable waning of the American presence there.

“The Syrians feel American power is much weaker in Iraq than in the past,” said Ibrahim Hamidi, the Damascus bureau chief of the pan-Arab daily newspaper Al Hayat. “Now they can take a bold public initiative like helping Iraq’s opposition organize without much fear, especially since President Bush has become a lame duck.”

In July, former Baathists opposed to the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki scheduled a conference for insurgent groups — including two of the most prominent, the 1920s Revolution Brigades and Ansar al Sunna — at the Sahara Resort outside Damascus.

The meeting followed two others in Syria in January that aimed to form an opposition front to the government of Iraq, and an announcement in Damascus in July of the formation of a coalition of seven Sunni Arab insurgent groups with the goal of coordinating and intensifying attacks in Iraq to force an American withdrawal. That coalition has since expanded to incorporate other groups.

The July conference was canceled at the last minute, however, indicating the political perils of Syria’s developing strategy. It was called off by the government of President Bashar al-Assad, participants, diplomats and analysts said, primarily because of pressure from Iran.

Joint U.S.-Iraqi commission to review Sept. 16 killing of Iraqi civilians by Blackwater Corp. mercenaries meets for the first time. The commission will evaluate issues and make recommendations, but has no authority to sanction or make rules.

Gen. Petraeus continues to blame Iran for attacks on U.S. forces. (Uh, General, has it occurred to you that perhaps Iraqis are attacking U.S. forces because they invaded and now occupy the country? Just a thought. -- C)

Let Freedom Reign Department: Iraqi government to sue former head of the Commission on Public Integrity, Judge Radhi Al Radhi, for "defaming the Prime Minister." Excerpt:

BAGHDAD -- AFP Iraq's government announced Sunday it will take legal action against the former head of an anti-corruption committee, who told US lawmakers, this week, that rampant graft is blocking progress in Iraq.

"The government will sue the former head of the Commission on Public Integrity [Judge Radhi Al Radhi], for smuggling official documents and for defaming the prime minister," the premier's office said in a statement. "We will work on getting him back to Iraq to submit him to the judiciary to investigate administrative and financial corruption charges against him," Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki's office said.

Radhi and a group of colleagues headed to Washington in August to undergo training with the US Justice Department. Maliki, at the time, accused him of fleeing the country to avoid being tried on graft charges, and replaced him as head of the Commission on Public Integrity (CPI), a position he had held since 2004, by Moussa Faraj.

Radhi denies the graft allegations or that he has fled, saying he intends returning to Iraq once his training course is over, and that he still regards himself as head of the CPI. He told the US Congress Thursday that corruption was affecting virtually every government ministry, and that some of the most-powerful officials in Iraq are implicated.

Quote of the Day

Mr. Bush and his aides were still clinging to their rationalizations at the end of last week. The president declared that Americans do not torture prisoners and that Congress had been fully briefed on his detention policies.

Neither statement was true — at least in what the White House once scorned as the “reality-based community” — and Senator John Rockefeller, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, was right to be furious. He demanded all of the “opinions of the Justice Department analyzing the legality” of detention and interrogation policies. Lawmakers, who for too long have been bullied and intimidated by the White House, should rewrite the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act to conform with actual American laws and values.

For the rest of the nation, there is an immediate question: Is this really who we are? Is this the country whose president declared, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” and then managed the collapse of Communism with minimum bloodshed and maximum dignity in the twilight of the 20th century? Or is this a nation that tortures human beings and then concocts legal sophistries to confuse the world and avoid accountability before American voters?

NY Times editorial board. Note, however, that it is still against the law to say the magic words, "George W. Bush is a liar."