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, March 1, 2009

News of the Day for Sunday, March 1, 2009

Iraqis from the Sadr Movement hold a banner protesting US occupation in Baghdad. US President Barack Obama has met with top lawmakers at the White House to preview his Iraq plan, which would pull out most troops and end combat operations by the end of August 2010 but leave an interim force of about 35,000-50,000 troops before a full withdrawal by the end of 2011.
(AFP/File/Ali Yussef)

Reported Security Incidents

Anbar, unspecified location

A Multi National Force – West Marine died as the result of a non-combat related incident here Feb. 28. The incident is under investigation.


Iraqi security forces killed a gunman who was moving improvised explosive devices in a civilian vehicle in eastern Baghdad on Sunday, a senior security official said.


A suicide bomber killed the cousin of Ifan al- Issawi, head of a U.S.-backed neighborhood patrol, when he managed to entered Issawi's house in Falluja, police said. Issawi, a winning candidate in the Jan. 31 provincial elections, was not harmed.


Emergency Police personnel in Jalawlaa arrest Sunday 10 members of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) on charges of opening fire on a police officer, a security source in Diala said. “The officer came under an armed attack on Saturday (Feb. 28) in central Jalawlaa, (30 km) southwest of Khanaqin district. He was wounded in the attack,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency. Note: This is an indication of the perilous situation in Jalawlaa, which was previously Kurdish controlled and is now under control of the Arab-led central Iraqi government. Although the details of this incident are not given, this appears to be reflect the Arab-Kurdish confrontation in the city. -- C


Mahmoud Khalaf, the mayor of the city of Samarra, was wounded by a roadside bomb while his convoy was passing by, police captain Mahmoud Anwar said.

Wassit Province

Armed clashes erupt between Iraqi police and gunmen east of Kut, killing one police officer and wounding another. Police subsequently arrest five people with weapons in their possession, who they apparently believe were involved. A source tells VoI that the individuals were involved in "the murder of the son of Habeeb al-Khateeb, the representative of senior Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, in al-No’maniya district last year." (Although it seems to me rather quick to draw that conclusion. This story was written in a rather confusing way so I have tried to present it in a more organized form. - C)

Other News of the Day

Large protests in Khalis and Muqdadiya, said to number more than 10,000 people, call for invalidation of the recent provincial elections. This seems to me a rather significant event but I have not seen it reported in U.S. media. Here is the VoI account:

Thousands of local residents in Diala demonstrated on Sunday to protest the work of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) in the province and have it dissolved, the Diala Isnad (Support) Council chief said. “The demonstrations, in which more than 10,000 protesters participated, were staged inside the districts of al-Khalis, (15 km) north of Baaquba, and al-Muqdadiya, (45 km) northeast of Baaquba,” Saad Galloub told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

“The protesters chanted slogans against the IHEC-Diala and called for disbanding it due to its partiality. They also demanded new elections under international supervision,” Galloub added. He said that the protesters also urged three political blocs – Dawlat al-Qanoon, the Diala National Grouping and the National Reform Bloc – to suspend the membership of their five members.

Iraq President Jalal Talibani is in Iran, where he held a private meeting with Speaker Ali Larijani of the Majlis, and with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Kahmenei. The visit resulted in agreements on several matters mostly concerning economic relations.

Iraq's recorded death toll from political violence rose in February to 258, up 35% from January. Part of the increase is attributable to the attacks against Shiite pilgrims during Arbaeen. I note, however, that casualties among Iraqi security forces were also up, and that February has 3 fewer days than January.

In Fort Campbell, Kentucky, a military jury sentenced an Army officer to 25 years in prison Saturday for shooting and killing an Iraqi detainee during an interrogation. First Lt. Michael Behenna, 25, of Edmond, Okla., was convicted Friday of murder and assault but acquitted of making a false statement. Behenna had claimed self-defense because the prisoner was reaching for Behenna's gun. However,the victim was shot twice, in the head and the chest.

Iraqi parliament delays vote on new budget in the face of falling oil revenues. The budget crisis is expected to affect the ongoing development of Iraq's security forces as well as public works.

Afghanistan Update

U.S. missiles said to hit a Taliban compound in South Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal region. Note: OBL is sometimes said to be in this area, but who knows? - C

Suicide bombing in front of a military barracks in Nangarhar injures six civilians. Quqnoos also reports several other incidents: a coalition vehicle crash, also in Nangarhar, killed one Afghan civilian and injured a coalition troop, nationality unspecified; one Afghan soldier killed in Kuner province; four insurgents killed in Uruzgan yesterday.

Opposition groups and the U.S. objects to Hamid Karzai's decree moving presidential elections forward to April. This is widely seen as an attempt to prevent opposition from having sufficient time to organize.

Taliban attack against U.S. mercenaries working for USPI leaves an Afghan guard and one assailant dead in Kandahar.

A mercenary working for the U.S.-led coalition, nationality not specified, is killed in Uruzgan by an IED.

Hillary Clinton speaks with Hamid Karzai on the telephone, subject matter of their conversation is not revealed.

Quote of the Day

We always have what we'll call preventive war, meaning aggression, in our pocket and we use it anytime we feel like. Henry Kissinger knows this perfectly well. He knows, he's not a fool. He knows the United States carries out attacks against other countries all the time. It's just you attack people who are in your way.

There was something different about the national security strategy announced in September of 2002. It's kind of a crucial event… The national security strategy is a declaration saying that the U.S. must dominate the world by force if necessary, a dimension in which the U.S. reigns supreme, will do it permanently and that it reserves the right to prevent any potential challenge to its domination by the use of military force if necessary.

Noam Chomsky