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, September 13, 2009

News of the Day for Sunday, September 13, 2009

Relatives of Iraqi reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi celebrate at his house before his release in Baghdad September 13, 2009. Zaidi, the Iraqi reporter who became famous worldwide when he threw his shoes at then U.S. President George W. Bush, is thought likely to get a hero's welcome if he is freed from jail, as expected, on Monday.
REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen

Reported Security Incidents


Attackers plant a bomb inside a holy book in the Khadimiya shrine, but it does not explode and is ultimately defused by police. The bomb included shrapnel, intended to cause mass casualties. (Some sources have reported the bomb was hidden in a Quran. This is apparently incorrect -- Sunni extremists obviously would not use a Quran in that way. The book was called "Keys to Paradise.")

However, a bomb hidden near the tomb of Othman al-Omari does explode, followed by a second as crowds gathered. Four people were killed and 24 injured.

AP also reports a sticky bomb kills a driver and injures 2 passengers in northwest Baghdad.


As Kurdish police officer Omed Abdul-Hamid is at work, gunmen break into his house and murder his wife and 3 children as they sleep. I've been doing this a long time and I found that one difficult to type. -- C

Sticky bomb attached to an Iraqi army vehicle kills one soldier, injures a civilian.

Reuters also reports 5 police injured in two separate bomb attacks.

Muwailah village, near Mosul

Five killed, 1 injured, in a tribal feud. The vendetta dates back to what were apparently official armed operations one year ago. The name of the village has also been given as Qaiyara.


IED attack on U.S. convoy causes no casualties.


After a roadside bomb attack no their patrol, soldiers fire indiscriminately and kill a traffic policeman.

Police find the body of a kidnap victim.

Unspecified location in Diyala

Roadside bomb kills a Sahwa member and3 of his relatives.

Other News of the Day

Muntazer al-Zaidi expected to be released from prison tomorrow, Monday. Abdul Hamid al-Saih, a senior official at Baghdadiya, said the channel had bought Muntazer a home in Baghdad. His salary has been paid throughout the jail term, Saih said. However, al-Zaidi is said to be entertaining other job offers, and also contemplating leaving the journalism profession and running for Parliament.

"Before his deed, Muntazar al-Zaidi was only a journalist, reporting news. He doesn't belong to any specific party now - he belongs to Iraq," Maitham [his brother] said.

At the start of his trial in February, Zaidi said Bush's smile as he talked about achievements in Iraq had made him think of "the killing of more than a million Iraqis, the disrespect for the sanctity of mosques and houses, the rapes of women".

Muntazer's family says the reporter is suffering medical problems related to beatings he received while in Iraqi custody.

Reduced flow from the Euphrates is allowing salt water to encroach in southern Iraq, destroying croplands and creating ecological refugees. The water shortage has also eliminated most irrigation in Diyala and Anbar, causing a collapse of agriculture. Iraq hopes to persuade Turkey to release more water, but ultimately the problem stems from climate change and prolonged drought.

Afghanistan Update

A battle in Bala Baluk, Farah province leaves 3 Americans and 7 Afghan troops dead. An Afghan Army spokesman claims 50 insurgents also died, but that has not been confirmed. During the clash, a coalition airstrike hit a home and killed a woman and a teenage girl, said Afghan police spokesman Raouf Ahmadi.

AP does a roundup of violence Friday and Saturday. Two more Americans were killed in a roadside bomb incident in the east of the country, with no additional details being given. Other highlights:

  • An Afghan policeman shoots and injures an American "service member" because he was drinking water during the day. Americans then shoot and seriously injure the policeman. Those NATO troops are fitting in to the local culture just fine, eh?

  • 20 civilians killed in bomb attacks in Kandahar and "a neighboring province

Health Ministry reports cholera outbreaks in 10 provinces.

Quote of the Day

It is true that, at different points over the past eight years, Karzai has enjoyed measures of popular support, thanks to alliances with warlords and drug dealers, the inflaming of ethnic rivalries and an awareness that he was the one distributing all those billions of dollars from the United States. But, aside from a slick sense of dress, Karzai has never had much going for him in the political department. So he has, out of instinct and by necessity, relied on fraud to "win" the elections that have kept the Afghan president and his minions in power.

John Nichols