Sunday, August 13, 2006

another day in mr. bush's war

For the past few weeks, the mess in Lebanon and the terrorist plot against transatlantic aviation have pushed Mr. Bush's War even further off the front pages. But let's have a quick look at the short, Associated Press account published on page A15 in the Washington Post today about another Saturday in Iraq.

2 U.S. Soldiers Among 50 Dead in Iraq

By Robert H. Reid
Associated Press
Sunday, August 13, 2006; A15

BAGHDAD -- Police found a dozen bodies trapped in a grate in the Tigris River, and a roadside bomb killed two U.S. soldiers on a foot patrol south of Baghdad Saturday as 50 violent deaths were reported across Iraq.

(Vaguely Logical comment: 50 dead including 2 soldiers, and it's a wire service report on page 15. It's remarkable that such a level of carnage is deemed to be unremarkable. I'm not criticizing the Post here -- news repeated day after day loses luster as news and becomes background noise.)

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki banned a Kurdish extremist party from operating in Baghdad in a move seen largely as a gesture to Turkey, which had threatened to send troops across the border.

Also Saturday, a state commission said nearly 40 top officials of the past two governments -- including former ministers of defense, labor and electricity -- have been ordered to appear in court to answer allegations of corruption.

(VL comment: wasn't corruption one of the things we were going to stamp out in Iraq?)

The 12 bodies were found in Suwayrah, 20 miles south of Baghdad, at one of a series of metal grates fixed in the river to block debris, a morgue official said. All were men between 35 and 45 years old and had been bound, blindfolded and shot in the head or chest.

They appeared to have been the victims of sectarian death squads that operate in Baghdad's religiously mixed communities.

Police found 15 other bullet-riddled bodies of men who had been handcuffed and blindfolded in six neighborhoods throughout the Baghdad area, police Lt. Mohammed Khayoun said.

Another 21 people were killed, mostly in Baghdad but also in Hilla, Mosul and Basra.

(VL Comment: But it isn't civil war, because the people of Iraq voted in an election. Hey, that isn't MY logic, that's how de facto President George W. Bush sees things. Remember, he also still believes in the tooth fairy.)

The roiling violence, especially between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in the Baghdad area, has alarmed U.S. commanders, prompting them to order nearly 12,000 more U.S. and Iraqi soldiers into the capital.

The United States has about 32,400 troops in Baghdad and areas south of the capital -- of which about 13,500 are in the city, Maj. Gen. James Thurman said.

(VL Comment: Gosh, weren't we going to have most troops out of Iraq by the end of the year -- the year 2003?)

U.S. and Iraqi officials have said the reinforcements will focus on neighborhoods where Sunni residents do not trust the Shiite-dominated Iraqi security forces.

Nevertheless, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he would not rule out significant U.S. troop reductions this year. Pace arrived in Baghdad on Saturday.

Pace won't rule them out because his political masters have a Congressional election to manage in under three months.

Now, some Freeper types complain that the news media isn't reporting the GOOD news that comes out of Iraq. So I thought I'd look for some.

Amusingly, this Good News in Iraq website (the top Google find for "good news Iraq") has been unable to find anything positive to say about Iraq since May 13. Even THAT was just about American soldiers, not about Iraq itself.

But it did lead me to the National Review's effort to compile the good news. The latest update by Bill Crawford includes the following tidbits:

Our Ambassador in Iraq urges Americans to be upbeat. WTF? That's not "good news about Iraq." That's propaganda. Doesn't count.

There's going to be a business expo in November. In the Kurdish area of Iraq -- because that's the only remotely safe part of Iraq. And a company has invested $70 million in a cement plant. Again, in the Kurdish area of Iraq. And USAID is restoring potable water -- in the Kurdish area of Iraq. OK, good news, hooray -- although not at the level to push the 20-40 people being slaughtered every day in the sectarian civil war out of the newspaper, I think it is safe to say. What about the other 80% of the country?

Crawford quotes US officials that we've spent $22 billion in Iraq so far on infrastructure. How much of that, I wonder, is on rebuilding what has been destroyed since February 2003? Also, no mention that much of our assistance budget for Iraq has been spent on security, not the actual projects.

Ooh, an Iraqi version of "American Idol" is popular. That'll bring the insurgents to their knees! I mean, I become violently ill when I inadvertantly have more than 10 seconds of exposure to the US version. This isn't "good news," this is trivia.

Lots of tidbits about finding weapons of mass destruction (remember WMDs? That was the reason the de facto president used to start Mr. Bush's War, before it wasn't the reason.). Crawford reaches back to 2003 and 2004 to note we found a few sarin shells or a couple of vials of things that COULD allow a biological agent to be produced. In other words, the detritus from Saddam's pre-1991 WMD stash.

Ooh, maybe the best bit of good news -- Crawford quote a New York Times article that sectarian violence has ebbed significantly. True -- as the NYT said, it had ebbed after FOUR DAYS OF RECORD LEVELS. When a heat wave ends and it's 92 degrees in Washington doesn't mean it's cool. Violence ebbing from record levels doesn't mean things are safe or peaceful. But I'm glad Crawford said "You know it’s true if the Times actually has to report it."

Anyway, enough. Mr. Bush's War did end Saddam's rule, but it has failed to achieve any of the objectives. And on Saturday, 50 were killed including two American soldiers.

Good news?