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 8, 2009

News of the Day for Sunday, March 8, 2009

Relatives load a coffin outside a hospital, containing the body of a policeman killed in a suicide bombing outside the police academy in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, March 8, 2009. A suicide bomber struck police lined up at the entrance of the main police academy in Baghdad on Sunday, killing some 30 people and wounding dozens of others, officials said. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban) Note: The announced death toll has since increased

Reported Security Incidents

Undisclosed location, Salah al-Din province

A U.S. Coalition forces Soldier died from injuries sustained following an attack on a patrol in the Salah Ad Din province of northern Iraq March 7.


52 killed, 35 injured by suicide bomb attack on a police recruitment center, near the Ministry of Oil and Water Resources on Palestine St. Most of the casualties were men waiting to apply for jobs. The attacker was riding a motorcycle and detonated explosives strapped to his body. Casualty reports have steadily increased. This DPA report gives the most recent, and highest, total. Given the force of the blast from what must have been a fairly small volume bomb, the attacker must have used a military grade plastic explosive, it seems to me. -- C

Sticky bomb attack injures 2 civilians in al-Allawi, central Baghdad.

Two Sahwa fighters injured by IED in al-Ghazaliya, western Baghdad.


Four people injured by bomb attack on a house.


Body found of strangled 9 year old girl. Probably not a political crime, but it could have been intended as revenge against the parents. Since we don't know the motive or circumstances, I'm listing it. -- C


Mass graves found containing 25 bodies. These are believed to date from the period when AQI controlled the area.

Other News of the Day

U.S. announces it will reduce its total forces in Iraq by 12,000 in the next six months. Result will be 12 combat brigades, rather than the current 14.

The remaining 4,000 British troops in Iraq will leave by September, according to an announcement by the U.S. military. Yep, Gen. Perkins said this. I haven't found any announcement by the Brits. Odd.

Study by the Iraqi Health Ministry and WHO finds psychological problems widespread in Iraq. NYT's Alissa J. Rubin reports:

the Iraqi government and the World Health Organization surveyed 4,332 Iraqis over 18 years old nationwide and found that 17 percent suffered from mental disorders of some kind, with depression, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety among the most common.

The sense of desperation was so severe that among those who had mental health issues, nearly 70 percent said they had contemplated suicide. Nonetheless, the psychiatrists and psychologists who carried out the survey in 2006 to 2007 said that they were surprised that the percentages were not even higher given the levels of violence and trauma, and they hypothesized that Iraqis had developed defenses to protect themselves.

"Iraqi society has suffered for nearly 50 years from difficult circumstances, but gradually people seem to have become accustomed to enduring hard experiences," said Abdul al-Monaf al-Jadiry, a psychiatrist at Amman University in Jordan who supervised the study on behalf of the WHO.

Afghanistan Update

U.S. troops kill 2 Afghan police officers in Kapisa Province, in an apparent case of mistaken identity. KUNA also reports:

  • Joint Afghan-coalition patrol kills 5 militants in Tirin Kot, Uruzgan Province

  • 100 civilians demonstrate in Khost against killing of 4 civilians by coalition forces. The U.S. had previously claimed to have killed 4 militants.

Hamid Karzai endorses Barack Obamas proposal to attempt reconciliation with elements of the Taliban, which Karzai had previously proposed.

IED attack in eastern Afghanistan kills 1 coalition soldier, injures 2. Nationality of the casualties is not specified, but these were likely Americans.

Karzai's body guards beat up a cameraman for TOLO television. The president has apologized for the incident.

Minister for Women Affairs, Husn Bano Ghazanfar says the status of women has improved in Afghanistan. However, as this Quqnoos story notes, that isn't saying much. -- C

On the other hand, this could not have happened a few years ago: With the arrival of the international Day of Women, 8th of March, a series of sports competitions have begun between female Basketball Teams in the capital Kabul.

Quote of the Day

The American use of torture has been public knowledge or surmise since very early in President Bush’s war on terror. Not many Americans seemed to take note or to protest at the time. . . . This was the amazing thing, really. Very few people among the American public seemed to care—except Fox television executives, who recognize a commercial opportunity when it hits them between the eyes.

Fox began a drama in which each program was devoted to the American president’s torturer doing whatever had to be done to thwart a new threat to the American republic. The hero would apply one of the tortures pronounced legally OK for Americans to use, until the terrorist, gasping or screaming, blurts out where the nuclear bomb has been planted.

This turned out to be one of the most popular programs on the air. It seems that President Bush himself watched. People in the torturing business joked that they got some good ideas from the program.

William Pfaff