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 22, 2009

News of the Day for Sunday, March 22, 2009

An unidentified boy, dressed as a Kurdish guerrilla of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK, poses during the Nowruz celebrations in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, Saturday, March 21, 2009. Nowruz is a spring festival traditionally used by Kurdish activists to stir anti-government sentiment and assert demands for political autonomy. Nowruz, the Farsi-language word for 'new year', is an ancient Persian festival, celebrated on the first day of spring in Central Asian republics, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iran.
(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Reported Security Incidents


Roadside bomb wounds four on Saturday in Zayouna.

Baghdad Operations Command claims to have defused 14 IEDs in the past 24 hours.

On the road from al-Djeiba to Jalawlaa

Four Iraqi soldiers killed by a roadside bomb. Given the location, one suspects Kurdish separatists may have been responsible. -- C


Body of a Facilities Protection Force guard found shot, dumped by the road.


Police kill two militants in clashes.

al-Zawya village, south of Mosul

Body of an Iraqi soldier is found, shot in the head and chest. He had been kidnapped two days earlier.


U.S. and Iraqi forces arrest Abdulaziz al-Temimi, an official of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, killing a bystander during the raid. They apparently detain two of Temimi's brothers as well. As I assume all of our readers know, the SIIC is the largest single party in parliament, a member of the ruling coalition, and is run by Abdulaziz al-Hakim, one of Iraq's most influential politicians. This is a rather interesting development. -- C

Near Kirkuk

Kirkuk police and U.S. forces arrest 33 and seize a bomb making factory southwest of Kirkuk, according to Kirkuk police. These would have been Kurdish forces operating with the U.S. The nature of the target is not disclosed. -- C

Saadiyah, Diyala Province

Two Iraqi police killed, 8 injured, in an explosion as they enter a booby-trapped house.

Other News of the Day

British embassy in Baghdad receives a video showing Peter Moore, one of 5 British subjects taken hostage in May 2007, indicating that he and the other captives are still alive. The Foreign Office would not discuss further details of the video.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicates that he would support allowing the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Iraq through Turkey.

An Iraqi woman, the widow of Raheem Khalaf Sa’adoon, sues Blackwater Security (now Known by the unpronounceable name Xe) for the murder of her husband. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Diego, charges that:

“on Christmas eve 2006, a highly intoxicated and heavily armed Xe-Blackwater employee named Andrew Moonen, shot and killed a man named Raheem Khalaf Sa’adoon, for no reason.”

“Although Xe-Blackwater has learned of their employee’s crime short after it occurred, Xe-Blackwater acted, and continues to act, in conspiracy with Moonen to evade any accountability whatsoever,” the suit charges. The lawsuit also alleges the company rushed to get the agent out of Iraq, and destroyed documents in the case.

It also charges that Xe, which until recently was a contractor for the Department of State in Iraq, does not punish employees found guilty of wrongdoing, but “instead, Xe-Blackwater continued to rehire and deploy mercenaries known to have killed innocents.”

Justin Pope, a USMC reservist working as a mercenary for DynCorp, died of an "accidental" gunshot wound in Irbil earlier this month. I doubt this was reported at the time -- C.

Afghanistan Update

One Afghan construction laborer was killed and 11 others wounded as their bus struck a roadside bomb on Sunday in eastern Afghan province of Khost, a provincial public health official said. All of the victims were road construction workers.

Abdul Manan, Mayor of Imam Sahib, Kunduz Province, says joint U.S. and Afghan forces raided his house, killing his cook, his driver, two of his bodyguards, and another man. As usual, the U.S. claims they killed "militants." "[Manan] said he had been hunkered down inside a room with his wife and children, and there was no contact with the troops during the raid. The coalition statement said 'no women or children were present in the targeted attacks.'" I have to post one of these every single damn Sunday. 300 people are said to have gathered in Imam Sahib to protest the incident. I would guess that's most of the local population. -- C

In Herat, police open fire on a minibus, killing 1 and injuring 2. According to Quqnoos, "There are no certain traffic regulations for keeping distance or crossing ahead convoys of Afghan forces. Therefore, lack of rules create such a tragedy. Meanwhile, some Afghan citizens complain that the international troops based in this country misuse traffic regulations which have shot dozens of civilians in different parts of the country."

U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke says the poppy eradication effort in Afghanistan has been a costly failure. For all the talk of military escalation, this is at least one positive sign about the Obama administration's understanding of Afghanistan. -- C Excerpt:

Richard Holbrooke, the US envoy to the troubled South-Asian region says direct support to the Afghan farmers was the better option to spend the annual $800m US fund to the Afghan Counter-Narcotics program. Efforts to eradicate poppy cultivation had failed to prevent the Taliban making profits from the drugs trade, Holbrooke told The Brussels Forum in Belgium.

"It hasn't hurt the Taliban one iota," he said, "because whatever money they're getting from the drugs trade, they get whatever they need whether we reduce the acreage or not."

A US survey last month declared a 19 per cent reduce in poppy cultivation last year in Afghanistan but UN says this country is still producing the highest amount of opium in the world.

"The United States alone is spending over $800m a year on counter-narcotics. We have gotten nothing out of it, nothing," Holbrooke added in the conference. Mr. Holbrooke said his country had to concentrate more on funding irrigation projects, providing seeds and finding market places to the farmers’ legal products.

Quote of the Day

Over 100,000 US troops still occupy Iraq though the people — in Iraq and across the world — want them out. In Iraq, untold destruction is mirrored in five million Iraqis made refugees and over one million killed since 2003. While the new US administration has committed to end the war, it is for all who can act to ensure that it ends. Peace in Iraq depends on a sovereign Iraq, and that starts when the occupation ends.

The Brussels Tribunal