Super-Surge Me. General David Petraeus is asking for another Army brigade in Iraq, in addition to the 21,500 mentioned in January and the 4,700 support troops added last week. [more inside]
Introducing... the iRack! (video, youtube)
Vet Kills Himself After VA Turns Him Away Marine veteran Jonathan Schulze survived the war in Iraq but almost two years after he came home, it ended up killing him, reports The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith. He had one of the toughest jobs in the war: taming the insurgent hotbed of Ramadi in 2004.
Sgt. Wells's New Skull. In the epidemic of brain injuries coming out of the war, Army neurosurgeons had never seen someone survive such a devastating wound. But Brian Wells jokes that he just left part of his head in Iraq. Someday, he says, he'll have to go back and get it.
Sami Rasouli is an Iraqi-American who was born in Najaf . He left Iraq in the late 70's to teach, first to the UAE, and then to Germany. In 1986, he moved to the US, where he eventually opened Sinbad's, a successful restaurant. In late 2003, he went back to Iraq after learning his mother had died. Upon his return to the US, he could not stop thinking about the country he left, and the state it was in, so in 2004, he sold his restaurant and moved back. There, he founded the Muslim Peacemakers Team, based closely off of the Christian Peacemakers Team (and in fact was a friend of Tom Fox). He currently lives in Iraq, although comes back to visit the US every year or so, to raise awareness, visit friends, and to share news about what is really going on in Iraq. [Links to Articles, E-mails, and Interviews inside.]
" No matter what happens now the Islamists will have beaten both of the superpowers -- first the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and now the United States in the heart of Islam. The impact of that in Islamic civilization is going to be enormous. We have made bin Laden a prophet: His organizing concept for Al Qaeda was "The Russians are a lot tougher than the Americans. If we can beat the Russians, then we can eventually beat the Americans." "
Rolling Stone assembles a panel of military and history experts on the state, and future, of Iraq.
Rolling Stone assembles a panel of military and history experts on the state, and future, of Iraq.
Was I a good American in the time of George Bush? "Before the current administration, it had always been easy to condemn the "good Germans" who did nothing while Jews, Gypsies and others were rounded up for extermination." Uh, is this just a little over the top?
The Bookseller's Story, Ending Much Too Soon. Anthony Shadid of the Washington Post writes about Mohammed Hayawi, "a bald bear of a man," who ran the Renaissance Bookstore on "Baghdad's storied Mutanabi Street." Back in 2005, Phillip Robertson wrote a Salon article about Al Mutanabbi Street, "Baghdad's legendary literary cafe, the Shabandar, " and Hajji Qais Anni's stationery store: "Hajji Qais had been on Al Mutanabbi street for 10 years and the vendors all knew him... He wore a beard and was also known as a devout Sunni who had no problem hiring Shia workers or spending time with Christian colleagues." Both Hayawi and Hajji Qais were killed by bombs, the cafe has been gutted, and the street that "embodied a generation-old saying: Cairo writes, Beirut publishes, Baghdad reads" is no longer its old self. "When the Mongols sacked Baghdad in 1258, it was said that the Tigris River ran red one day, black another. The red came from the blood of nameless victims, massacred by ferocious horsemen. The black came from the ink of countless books from libraries and universities. Last Monday, the bomb on Mutanabi Street detonated at 11:40 a.m. The pavement was smeared with blood. Fires that ensued sent up columns of dark smoke, fed by the plethora of paper." Two views of a part of Baghdad that doesn't make the news much.
I am sullied -- no more. Colonel Ted Westhusing was a soldier's soldier -- a multilingual West Point graduate, tough as nails, who was committed to the ancient Greek warrior's ideal of ἀρετή ("arete," excellence). He volunteered to go to Iraq, where he was commanded by another outstanding rising-star officer, counterinsurgency expert David Petraeus. (Westhusing's widow, Michelle, recalls that her husband thought his country was doing "a great thing" there.) After working with one of the shadowy contractors the US has relied on to train Iraqi security forces, USIS, Westhusing became increasingly despondent. In May 2005, investigators say, he put a 9mm bullet in his brain after writing a note that said, "Reevaluate yourselves, cdrs [commanders]. You are not what you think you are and I know it." Westhusing died, as was previously discussed here, and his former "cdr" is now running the war. Lots of new information in this article from the Texas Observer.
Alive in Baghdad is a video blog that began when filmmaker Brian Conley visited Iraq in 2005. He has provided several local reporters with video equipment and training to produce weekly posts of first hand accounts from ordinary Iraqis, like this tour of two houses after American raids, or this interview with a Sadr City doctor.
Retiring psychology professor Philip G. Zimbardo, who ran the Stanford Prison Experiment, gave his final lecture at Stanford this week, criticizing the Bush administration and saying that senior government officials responsible for Abu Ghraib should be "tried for the crimes against humanity." [Via MindHacks.]
The private war of women soldiers. "Last year, Col. Janis Karpinski caused a stir by publicly reporting that in 2003, three female soldiers had died of dehydration in Iraq, which can get up to 126 degrees in the summer, because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being raped by male soldiers if they walked to the latrines after dark."
Whatever one's opinion of its possible limitations, the 2006 Iraq mortality survey produced epidemiological evidence that coalition forces have failed to protect Iraqi civilians... If, for the sake of argument, the study is wrong and the number of Iraqi deaths is less than half the infamous figure, is it acceptable that "only" 300,000 have died? Last November, with no explanation, the Iraqi Ministry of Health suddenly began citing 150,000 dead, five times its previous estimate. Is that amount of death acceptable? In January, the United Nations reported that more than 34,000 Iraqis were killed violently in the last year alone. Is that acceptable?Regarding The Number, the result of what one of the study's authors calls an episode more deadly than the Rwandan genocide... [more within]
22 basic suggested readings on the Middle East from history professor and informed commenter on Middle Eastern affairs Juan Cole.
Confessions of an Army Torturer "...as an army interrogator, he tortured detainees for information he admits they rarely had. Since leaving Iraq he’s taken this story public, doing battle on national television against the war’s architects for giving him the orders he regrets he obeyed...
The Redirection. "Is the Administration’s new policy aiding our enemies in the war on terrorism?" New article by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker.
Born to War is a series of paintings of American women killed in Iraq. The combination of the increasing role of women in the American military and the blurring of lines between combat and non-combat roles in Iraq have made this the first war in which female US soldiers have died in direct combat. The focus on a smaller number of women provides a more approachable view of casualties than more general sites like Iraq Body Count and raises some interesting questions about the role of women in the US military.
The Iraq Effect: The War in Iraq and its Impact on the War on Terrorism. "The war has inspired a wave of terrorism around the world. Excluding Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of jihadist attacks has jumped 35 percent in the past four years. A Mother Jones exclusive study by Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank."
Donald Rumsfeld, Revealed - Parts 1 and 2. A nice, brief historical roundup of the man who - in the words of John McCain - is "one of the worst secretaries of defense in history."
A somber video with music purporting to show the downing of a US helicopter surfaces on the New York Times and YouTube. Some background here.
Iraq: The Hidden Story is a very interesting 48 minute Channel 4 report on the news you see and the news you don't. Not for the squeamish. via
Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration At Army's Top Medical Facility. The Iraq war has transformed Walter Reed into "a holding ground for physically and psychologically damaged outpatients." Meanwhile, despite predictions that the cost of medical care for veterans will skyrocket, the Bush administration apparently plans to cut funding for veterans' health care. Tired of waiting for the government, more people are taking the initiative in developing alternative facilities to help veterans.
"It's quite frustrating the way this works, but the way we do things nowadays is combatant commanders brief their products in PowerPoint up in Washington to OSD and Secretary of Defense... In lieu of an order, or a frag [fragmentary] order, or plan, you get a set of PowerPoint slides... [T]hat is frustrating, because nobody wants to plan against PowerPoint slides." Lt. Gen. McKiernanTop Secret Polo Step: CentCom PowerPoint Slides Briefed to White House and Rumsfeld in 2002, Obtained by National Security Archive through Freedom of Information Act.
"Desert Crossing" 1999 Assumed 400,000 Troops and Still a Mess
See also A Prewar Slide Show Cast Iraq in Rosy Hues
One more time? It looks like the case against Iran has begun publicly. Unfortunately, this seems eerily familiar. Unnamed officials with unverified claims are holding press conferences - on a Sunday, no less. Is this an attempt to explain our difficulties in Iraq or a prelude to retaliation with Iran? Worrisome, or not?
"The Uncontainable Kurds" (NYRB). Nice summary of recent Kurdish politics in Iraq, Iran and Turkey.
As the war in Iraq nears its fourth anniversary, and with no end in sight, Americans are owed explanations. The Senate Intelligence Committee has promised a report on whether the Bush administration misrepresented intelligence to justify the war against Iraq. An explanation is due also for how the U.S. press helped pave the way for war. An independent and thorough inquiry of pre-war press coverage would be a public service. Not least of the beneficiaries would be the press itself, which could be helped to understand its behavior and avoid a replay.Cranberg wants a serious probe of why the press failed in its pre-war reporting
Watada case mistrial declared A new trial has been scheduled, but the attorney for the defense says they will invoke double jeopardy if it goes forward. The army has apparently tried to compel reporters to testify in the case. Plenty of people weighing in on the case lauding him or calling him a caudillo. (previously and oblig. NYT link)
"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
Singer-songwriter Margo Guryan takes the 16 words from George W. Bush's 2003 State Of The Union address and set them to music. Comes with great video, directed by James Reitano (iFilm, youtube). [more inside]
"I failed to disobey a meritless order, I failed to protect a prisoner in my custody, and I failed to uphold the standards of human decency. Instead, I intimidated, degraded and humiliated a man who could not defend himself. I compromised my values. I will never forgive myself."
For Saddam Hussein, he is an oppressor, but the solution is not to kill every oppressor to smash a whole people, destroy civilizations, and kill children and women and deceit.
Signature: Iraq Victims Team
Signature: Iraq Victims Team
..."Shifting to StratCom indicates that they are talking about a really punishing air-force and naval air attack [on Iran]," says Lang. ..."If they write a plan like that and the president issues an execute order, the forces will execute it. He's got the power to do that as commander-in-chief. We set that up during the Cold War. It may, after the fact, be considered illegal, or an impeachable offense, but if he orders them to do it, they will do it." ...by the end of February the United States will have enough forces in place to mount an assault on Iran. That, in the words of former national-security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, would be "an act of political folly" so severe that "the era of American preponderance could come to a premature end."From the Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Iraq
Stepped up US preparations for war against Iran
The United States and Iran: the logic of war
How the press can prevent another Iraq
What to Ask Before the Next War
While there have been many posts on Mefi of blogs written by those affected by the Iraq War, I have not seen this one posted. No matter your stance on the war, your opinion of American soldiers, or the amount of other Iraq war blogs you've read, all I ask is that you at least read these few entries. I've used too many words already, when the journal does more than enough to speak for itself. A Soldier's Thoughts. (via) [more inside]
Footage of the 'friendly fire' incident [Embedded wmv 15m20s] in which Lance Corporal of Horse Matty Hull was killed is obtained by The Sun. The inquest into L/Cpl Hull's death, earlier suspended in part because of failure to release the video, will now go ahead. Direct link to video stream Discussion on UK forces' message board
... "All the Shiites have to do is tell everyone to lay low, wait for the Americans to leave, then when they leave you have a target list and within a day they'll kill every Sunni leader in the country. It'll be called the `Day of Death' or something like that," said 1st Lt. Alain Etienne, 34, of Brooklyn, N.Y. "They say, `Wait, and we will be victorious.' That's what they preach. And it will be their victory." Quinn agreed. "Honestly, within six months of us leaving, the way Iranian clerics run the country behind the scenes, it'll be the same way here with Sadr," said Quinn, 25, of Cleveland. "He already runs our side of the river."Mahdi Army gains strength through unwitting aid of U.S.
Iraqi Interior Ministry estimates 1000 killed in one week
Northern Iraq seen as next front in war
Last week a video was posted to YouTube and linked to by the Iraqslogger site. The YouTube account ("Deathlyillington") is now defunct but the video survives and purports to show a former guard from Abu Ghraib talking about torture techniques employed at the American-run prison. The man recounts the gang rape of a female teenage detainee, in which one guard "pimped" the girl to others for $50 each. As he recalls, "I think at the end of the day he'd made like 500 bucks before she hung herself." The US Army's Criminal Investigation Department has now launched an investigation, but the question remains, is the video real, or is it a hoax along the lines of Jesse Macbeth, the Daily Mirror fake torture photos or the fake beheading video. The video contains few clues to the identity of the alleged soldier, who is shown in silhouette but seems potentially recognizable. A transcript is available.
Time magazine recently launched a new politics blog, Swampland. The blog is, to this point, most interesting for its confrontations between the commenters and the bloggers. [m.i.]
The helicopter that was shot down over Iraq this weekend was carrying, among other high-ranking officers, the US Army's chief medical officer for troops in Iraq.
Politics/PlameFilter: In opening arguments today in the Plame investigation perjury case against Vice President Cheney's former Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby, the prosecutor portrayed Libby as an agent of a Cheney-driven media offensive. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day came from Libby's attorney, who portrayed his client as a White House-chosen scapegoat for Karl Rove's misdeeds. A conservative reporter saw in Libby's emerging defense a "dramatic split inside the Bush White House." An MSNBC host asked whether this hullabaloo could lead to Cheney's resignation. Background on the case. Liveblogging of today's arguments from an anti-administration perspective.
"By early 2005, nearly one-third of the wounded soldiers admitted to the National Naval Medical Center had been colonized by the bacteria."
Rumors were circulating at the hospital that insurgents dosed their homemade bombs with the flesh of dead animals. ---multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter, and how we brought it to Iraq ourselves. "My colleagues and I have been looking for Acinetobacter baumannii in soil samples for years, and we haven't found it," she says. "These organisms are quite rare outside of hospitals." In other news, conditions in Iraqi hospitals are so bad due to lack of even the most basic supplies they're calling it a breach of the Geneva Conventions.
Marine funerals and the aftermath of Katrina. Moving sets of photographs that were worthy of this year's Pulitzer Prize for Feature and Break News photography, respectively. Powerful. Frightening. Painful.
“Oh, I took the roofs road" --just one of the fascinating things at a new Iraq blog--Inside Iraq-- daily life in a war zone through the words of Iraqi journalists in McClatchy's Baghdad Bureau as they risk so much each day to survive. These are unedited first hand accounts of their experiences. Their complete names have been withheld for security reasons.
An Appeal for Redress from the War in Iraq. "As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home." (via the Seattle Times.)
There are Klingons in the Whitehouse! Er, make that faux Klingons.
Getting rich by getting it wrong How the elite pundits who pushed the war profited in money and prominence, despite being completely wrong. Mean while many pundits who opposed the war from the start were sidelined.