Author Topic: Warchild  (Read 39152 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline nacho

  • Hallowed are the Ori.
  • Walter The Farting Dog
  • You're a kitty!
  • *****
  • Posts: I am a geek!!
    • GS
Warchild
« on: August 08, 2007, 05:05:25 PM »
Unless I'm mistaken, our last Iraq/Afghanistan war thread was during the "surge" period.  Now that that's failed, and since it's a long thread, I'll start this one.

So -- Gulf War II and Afghanistan August 2007 onwards.

Quote
British military commander asks U.S. forces to leave Afghan province
By Carlotta Gall
Wednesday, August 8, 2007

SANGIN, Afghanistan: A senior British commander in Afghanistan's Helmand Province said he had asked the U.S. military to withdraw its special forces from his area of operations because the high level of civilian casualties they have caused was making it difficult to win over local people.

A U.S. military spokesman denied the request was ever made, either formally or otherwise, but the dispute underlined differences of opinion among NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan on tactics for fighting Taliban insurgents and concerns among soldiers on the ground about the consequences of civilian casualties.

A precise tally of civilian casualties is difficult to pin down, but one reliable count puts the number killed in Helmand this year at close to 300 - the vast majority of them caused by foreign and Afghan forces, rather than the Taliban.

"Everyone is concerned about civilian casualties," the senior British commander said. "Of course it is counterproductive if civilians get injured, but we've got to pick up the pack of cards that we have got. Other people have been operating in our area before us."

After 18 months of heavy fighting, British commanders say they are finally making headway in securing key areas, like this town, and are now in the difficult position of trying to win back the support among people whose lives have been devastated by aerial bombing.

American special forces have been active in Helmand since U.S. forces first entered Afghanistan in late 2001, and for several years they maintained a small base outside the town of Gereshk. But the foreign troop presence was never more than a few hundred men.

British forces arrived last spring and now have command of the province: About 6,000 soldiers are deployed, with small units of Estonians and Danish troops. American special forces have continued to assist in fighting insurgents, operating as advisers to Afghan security forces.

It is those small teams that are coming in for criticism. Their tactics rely heavily on airstrikes for cover because they are unable to defend themselves if they encounter a large group of insurgents. Special forces teams have often called in airstrikes in Helmand and elsewhere and civilians have subsequently been found to have suffered casualties.

In just two cases, airstrikes killed 31 nomads west of Kandahar in November 2006 and 57 villagers, half of them women and children, in western Afghanistan in April. In both cases U.S. special forces called in the airstrikes.

British officers on the ground in Helmand, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Americans had caused the lion's share of the civilian casualties in their area. They expressed concerns that the Americans' extensive use of air power was turning the people against the foreign presence.

The chief British press officer in Helmand, Colonel Charles Mayo, defended the American special forces, and said they were essential to NATO's efforts to clear out Taliban insurgents.

An American military spokesman said the special forces would continue to operate in Helmand for the foreseeable future. He denied that the special forces' tactics had caused greater civilian deaths and blamed the Taliban for fighting from civilian compounds.

"U.S. special forces have a tremendous reputation not only in combat operations, but also in training and advising the Afghan National Security Forces," Lieutenant Colonel David Accetta, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in an e-mail from the Bagram Air Base.

The special forces also provide development and medical assistance, he said, which with their combat missions "can be said to have 'turned the tide' in Helmand."

But the senior British commander, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said that in Sangin, which has been calm for a month, there was no longer a need for the special forces. "There aren't large bodies of Taliban to fight anymore," he said. "We are dealing with small groups and we are trying to kick start reconstruction and development."

He said orders had just come down from the NATO force's headquarters in Kabul, which is headed by a U.S. general, Dan McNeill, that re-emphasized the need to avoid civilian deaths.

"The phrase is: 'It may be legal but is it appropriate?' No one is saying it is illegal to use air power, but is there any other way of doing it if there is a risk of collateral damage?" the senior British commander said.

For months, frequent reports of civilian casualties have trickled out of Helmand Province, the scene of some of the fiercest battles of the war here. But there has rarely been independent confirmation of the reports because the province has been too dangerous for journalists and others to visit. NATO officials accuse Taliban sympathizers of exaggerating claims of civilian casualties in airstrikes.

Yet there is no doubt there have been civilian casualties, and British and Afghan officials acknowledged that they have seen some of them.

Villagers brought the bodies of 21 civilians killed in airstrikes on the village of Sarwan Qala on May 8 to show the authorities in Sangin, they said. U.S. special forces were battling the Taliban on that occasion and called in the strikes, the military said in a statement at the time.

Three days later the nearby village of Sra Ghar was hit. British soldiers at a base called Robinson just south of Sangin said they had received 18 civilians around that time who were wounded in an American operation and flew them out to NATO hospitals for treatment.

On a rare visit to Helmand in mid-July, a journalist encountered children who were still suffering wounds sustained in that bombing raid or another around that time. Their father, Mohammadullah, 24, brought them to the gate of the British army base seeking help.

His son, Bashir Ahmed, 2, listless and stick thin, seemed close to dying. The boy and his sister Muzlifa, 7, bore terrible shrapnel scars. NATO doctors had removed shrapnel from the boy's abdomen and had warned his father that he might not survive, but two months later he was still hanging on. Mohammadullah said the bombing raid killed six members of his family and wounded five. His wife lost an arm and the children's grandmother was killed, he said.

Altogether, he said, 20 people were killed in the airstrikes after Taliban fighters came through the village. He said that he opposed the Taliban, but that after the bombing the villagers were so angered that most of the men joined the insurgents.

It is the possibility of the population turning against them, or the unpopularity of the campaign back home, that most concerns the military, one NATO official said. "We know we can beat the Taliban on the ground," the official said. "The issue is the population."

Major Dominic Biddick, commander of a company of British soldiers in Sangin, is making a big effort to ease the anger and pain as his men patrol the villages. He has a $5,000 goodwill fund and hands out cash to victims he comes across, such as the farmer whose two sons were shot in the fields during a recent operation.

But while some of the local people blame the Taliban for bringing violence to Helmand, hostility toward the foreign forces remains. Mahmadullah said: "Now we have understood that the Americans are a curse on us and they are here just to destroy Afghanistan."

Offline RottingCorpse

  • Old Timer
  • You're a kitty!
  • ***
  • Posts: 23880
  • We got this by the ass!
    • http://www.lonniemartin.com
Re: Warchild
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2007, 01:52:48 AM »
Afghanistan . . .

So, am I the only one that didn't flinch or blink when Obama said, "If I'm presidnet we're going to go into Pakistan and get al Qaeda?"

I was like, "Isn't that what we should have been doing for the past five years?"

Offline fajwat

  • Wee Bin Hoker
  • *
  • Posts: 9115
  • Cthulu saves souls for tasty midnight binges.
Re: Warchild
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2007, 02:34:21 AM »
everybody, including the news pundits and leftists, majorly freaked out.  Pakistan majorly freaked out.  International incident.

"If it were up to me I would close Guantánamo not tomorrow but this afternoon... Essentially, we have shaken the belief that the world had in America's justice system... and it's causing us far more damage than any good we get from it."

-Colin Powell

Offline nacho

  • Hallowed are the Ori.
  • Walter The Farting Dog
  • You're a kitty!
  • *****
  • Posts: I am a geek!!
    • GS
Re: Warchild
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2007, 07:32:34 AM »
I flinched.  It pretty much illustrates that Obama has zilch foreign policy experience/understanding.

Good to be gung-ho about go get em and all, but Pakistan is (a) an ally (sorta), (b) nuclear, (c) full of a populace that already resents us. 

The country would dissolve as soon as we stepped in.  And they are Cold War-ready to launch a thousand warheads at India.

Offline nacho

  • Hallowed are the Ori.
  • Walter The Farting Dog
  • You're a kitty!
  • *****
  • Posts: I am a geek!!
    • GS
Re: Warchild
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2007, 12:45:13 PM »
Quote
Shiites march peacefully in Baghdad

What?

Quote
Tens of thousands of Shiite pilgrims marched across Baghdad on Thursday to the shrine of an eighth-century imam, encountering no violence.

...the hell?

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/08/09/asia/iraq.php

Well, at least some people died.  Otherwise I'd be worried.

Offline Tatertots

  • Walter The Farting Dog
  • You're a kitty!
  • *****
  • Posts: 10038
Re: Warchild
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2007, 12:55:55 PM »
I'm amazed that when no one dies at an event in Baghdad, it's news. Wow.

Offline nacho

  • Hallowed are the Ori.
  • Walter The Farting Dog
  • You're a kitty!
  • *****
  • Posts: I am a geek!!
    • GS
Re: Warchild
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2007, 01:00:49 PM »
I'm trying to recover from reading that after five years of daily OMG MARKET BOMB!!!!!!!!! stories three times a day.

Offline nacho

  • Hallowed are the Ori.
  • Walter The Farting Dog
  • You're a kitty!
  • *****
  • Posts: I am a geek!!
    • GS
Re: Warchild
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2007, 03:24:11 PM »
Quote
US army suicides hit 26-year high
At least 99 American soldiers killed themselves last year, the US army's highest suicide rate in 26 years, according to a new report.

The rate of 17.3 suicides per 100,000 soldiers compares with 12.8 in 2005, officials said.

Twenty-eight of the soldiers who took their own life last year did so while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The army listed failed relationships, legal and financial issues and work stress as factors behind the suicides.

Two soldiers' deaths from last year are still being investigated. If confirmed as suicide, the figure for 2006 will climb to 101.

The highest number recorded was 102 in 1991, the year of the Gulf War - but more soldiers were on active duty then, meaning the rate per 100,000 soldiers was lower than in 2006.

So far this year, 44 soldiers have taken their own lives, 17 of them while deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Mental health care

The report said there was "limited evidence" to support the suspicion that repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan were putting more servicemen and women at risk of suicide.

Its authors found a significant relationship between suicide attempts and the length of time soldiers spent in Iraq, Afghanistan or in nearby countries in operations supporting those wars.

A study published in March this year found a quarter of US veterans treated at veterans' health centres after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffered mental health problems.

The most frequent diagnosis was post-traumatic stress disorder, but anxiety, depression and substance-use also counted as mental health problems.

Other studies have found that the US military's mental health care resources have not been adequate for the large numbers of servicemen and women needing help as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue.

The US army has revised training programmes and is doing more to prevent suicides, the Associated Press news agency says.

It has also recruited more psychiatrists and other mental health professionals and is encouraging soldiers to recognise their own problems and seek help without fear of stigma.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/6950158.stm

Offline nacho

  • Hallowed are the Ori.
  • Walter The Farting Dog
  • You're a kitty!
  • *****
  • Posts: I am a geek!!
    • GS
Re: Warchild
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2007, 11:39:21 AM »
Quote
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The number of coalition military deaths in the war in Iraq has reached 4,000.

The gloomy milestone was reached as a U.S. general said there has been a rise in insurgents booby-trapping houses.

Most of the fatalities throughout the Iraq war -- 3,702 -- have been U.S. military service members. The nearly 300 others hail from countries, such as Italy, Poland and Ukraine, that have supported the U.S. effort, which began in March 2003.

The numbers are based on a CNN Library count of official figures from the various countries involved in the Iraq war.

Of the U.S. deaths, 3,047 came in hostile circumstances and 655 in non-combat situations. Forty-four troops have died this month. Britain, which has command of coalition troops in southern Iraq, has suffered 168 deaths, 132 of them in hostile circumstances.

The United States has about 162,000 troops in Iraq; 11,500 are from other countries, the State Department says.

Next month, Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker are scheduled to present a progress report on Iraq to Congress.

While debate continues as to whether the deployment of more U.S. troops to Iraq is working, insurgents are stepping up their efforts by rigging bombs in houses that U.S. and Iraqi soldiers try to enter and clear. See a timeline of deadliest attacks in Iraq »

Lt. Gen. Carter Ham, director for operations for the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, described a few recent instances in which improvised explosive devices have gone off in buildings where there were U.S. and Iraqi soldiers.

"It has occurred in Baghdad and in other sites as well," Ham said.

The devices are set up like booby traps, but with a large explosive similar to those used in roadside bombs, he said. He does not know if any of the home booby traps have used armor-piercing devices.

Meanwhile, a coordinated attack against the Yazidi minority, which killed 500 civilians, was described by Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon as an attempt to influence U.S. public opinion.

Tuesday's truck bombs that targeted the villages of Qahtaniya, al-Jazeera and Tal Uzair, in northern Iraq near the border with Syria, were a "trademark al Qaeda event" designed to sway U.S. public opinion against the war, Mixon said Wednesday. VideoWatch the grim aftermath of the suicide bombings »

He called the attacks on Kurdish villages of the Yazidi religious minority "ethnic cleansing." There has been very little security in the area where the bombs exploded, officials say. Sunni extremists have been blamed for the attacks.

Mixon said the car bombings were attempts to "break the will" of the American people and show that the U.S. troop escalation -- the "surge" -- is failing.

In another blast Thursday morning, a bomb in a parked car exploded at a busy shopping center in central Baghdad, killing at least nine people and wounding 17, Iraq's Ministry of Information said

In Diyala province Wednesday, the U.S. military reported 21 insurgents killed in an "unprecedented combined action" effort of Iraqi police and citizen volunteers.

The joint force of police and the volunteers, who call themselves the Baquba Guardians, "defeated a coordinated attack" by 40 to 60 "al Qaeda terrorists" in the southern Buhriz region near Baquba, the U.S. military said in a Thursday statement. Coalition attack helicopters backed up the fighters.

The U.S. military is leading two major offensives against Diyala insurgents -- Arrowhead Ripper in Baquba and Lightning Hammer in the Diyala River valley.

"Baquba should be proud of their security forces and their citizen guardians today," said Col. Steve Townsend, commander, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

"All fought side-by-side and soundly defeated a complex attack from a determined enemy. This thing could have been much worse had those suicide bombers reached their targets."

"We still have a great deal of work to do against al Qaeda in Iraq, and we have great deal of work to do against al Qaeda networks in northern Iraq," Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, a Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman, said Wednesday.

Offline Cassander

  • Cap'n 40 Watt
  • Old Timer
  • Wee Bin Hoker
  • ***
  • Posts: 6087
  • Simmer down now!
Re: Warchild
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2007, 06:27:02 PM »
Arrowhead Ripper and Lightning Hammer?  aren't those wrestling moves?
You ain't a has been if you never was.

Offline Matt

  • working through the 1st 10,000
  • Old Timer
  • Wee Bin Hoker
  • ***
  • Posts: 7670
  • tourist
Re: Warchild
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2007, 02:47:52 PM »
I'm amazed that when no one dies at an event in Baghdad, it's news. Wow.

I remember seeing in an edition of USA Today last year (I read them all during the school year...) a description of a Arab media skit show like SNL wherein a sobbing Iraqi widow is confronted by a television reporter. Her husband has been mysteriously killed - no IEDs, no suicide bombers, no American gunfire at a checkpoint, she just woke up and he was dead.

The punchline? The guy died of a heart attack, which was the mystery: How did this guy manage to die of simple illness when every other Iraqi was dying of man-made causes?

Offline nacho

  • Hallowed are the Ori.
  • Walter The Farting Dog
  • You're a kitty!
  • *****
  • Posts: I am a geek!!
    • GS
Re: Warchild
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2007, 08:39:44 AM »
Quote
Buddhika Jayamaha is an Army specialist. Wesley D. Smith is a sergeant. Jeremy Roebuck is a sergeant. Omar Mora is a sergeant. Edward Sandmeier is a sergeant. Yance T. Gray is a staff sergeant. Jeremy A. Murphy is a staff sergeant.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/19/opinion/19jayamaha.html?_r=1&oref=slogin


Quote
The War as We Saw It

By BUDDHIKA JAYAMAHA, WESLEY D. SMITH, JEREMY ROEBUCK, OMAR MORA, EDWARD SANDMEIER, YANCE T. GRAY and JEREMY A. MURPHY

Baghdad

VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.

A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.

As many grunts will tell you, this is a near-routine event. Reports that a majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric. The truth is that battalion commanders, even if well meaning, have little to no influence over the thousands of obstinate men under them, in an incoherent chain of command, who are really loyal only to their militias.

Similarly, Sunnis, who have been underrepresented in the new Iraqi armed forces, now find themselves forming militias, sometimes with our tacit support. Sunnis recognize that the best guarantee they may have against Shiite militias and the Shiite-dominated government is to form their own armed bands. We arm them to aid in our fight against Al Qaeda.

However, while creating proxies is essential in winning a counterinsurgency, it requires that the proxies are loyal to the center that we claim to support. Armed Sunni tribes have indeed become effective surrogates, but the enduring question is where their loyalties would lie in our absence. The Iraqi government finds itself working at cross purposes with us on this issue because it is justifiably fearful that Sunni militias will turn on it should the Americans leave.

In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear. (In the course of writing this article, this fact became all too clear: one of us, Staff Sergeant Murphy, an Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head during a “time-sensitive target acquisition mission” on Aug. 12; he is expected to survive and is being flown to a military hospital in the United States.) While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse — namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force.

Given the situation, it is important not to assess security from an American-centered perspective. The ability of, say, American observers to safely walk down the streets of formerly violent towns is not a resounding indicator of security. What matters is the experience of the local citizenry and the future of our counterinsurgency. When we take this view, we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to produce normalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as we continue to arm each warring side.

Coupling our military strategy to an insistence that the Iraqis meet political benchmarks for reconciliation is also unhelpful. The morass in the government has fueled impatience and confusion while providing no semblance of security to average Iraqis. Leaders are far from arriving at a lasting political settlement. This should not be surprising, since a lasting political solution will not be possible while the military situation remains in constant flux.

The Iraqi government is run by the main coalition partners of the Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance, with Kurds as minority members. The Shiite clerical establishment formed the alliance to make sure its people did not succumb to the same mistake as in 1920: rebelling against the occupying Western force (then the British) and losing what they believed was their inherent right to rule Iraq as the majority. The qualified and reluctant welcome we received from the Shiites since the invasion has to be seen in that historical context. They saw in us something useful for the moment.

Now that moment is passing, as the Shiites have achieved what they believe is rightfully theirs. Their next task is to figure out how best to consolidate the gains, because reconciliation without consolidation risks losing it all. Washington’s insistence that the Iraqis correct the three gravest mistakes we made — de-Baathification, the dismantling of the Iraqi Army and the creation of a loose federalist system of government — places us at cross purposes with the government we have committed to support.

Political reconciliation in Iraq will occur, but not at our insistence or in ways that meet our benchmarks. It will happen on Iraqi terms when the reality on the battlefield is congruent with that in the political sphere. There will be no magnanimous solutions that please every party the way we expect, and there will be winners and losers. The choice we have left is to decide which side we will take. Trying to please every party in the conflict — as we do now — will only ensure we are hated by all in the long run.

At the same time, the most important front in the counterinsurgency, improving basic social and economic conditions, is the one on which we have failed most miserably. Two million Iraqis are in refugee camps in bordering countries. Close to two million more are internally displaced and now fill many urban slums. Cities lack regular electricity, telephone services and sanitation. “Lucky” Iraqis live in gated communities barricaded with concrete blast walls that provide them with a sense of communal claustrophobia rather than any sense of security we would consider normal.

In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, “We need security, not free food.”

In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.

Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.

We need not talk about our morale. As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.

Offline nacho

  • Hallowed are the Ori.
  • Walter The Farting Dog
  • You're a kitty!
  • *****
  • Posts: I am a geek!!
    • GS
Re: Warchild
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2007, 11:13:08 AM »
Today's crazy:

Quote
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Nightmarish political realities in Baghdad are prompting American officials to curb their vision for democracy in Iraq. Instead, the officials now say they are willing to settle for a government that functions and can bring security.


Continuing violence -- like this Baghdad blast from May -- is causing a rethink of U.S. goals, generals say.

A workable democratic and sovereign government in Iraq was one of the Bush administration's stated goals of the war.

But for the first time, exasperated front-line U.S. generals talk openly of non-democratic governmental alternatives, and while the two top U.S. officials in Iraq still talk about preserving the country's nascent democratic institutions, they say their ambitions aren't as "lofty" as they once had been.

"Democratic institutions are not necessarily the way ahead in the long-term future," said Brig. Gen. John "Mick" Bednarek, part of Task Force Lightning in Diyala province, one of the war's major battlegrounds.

The comments reflect a practicality common among Western diplomats and officials trying to win hearts and minds in the Middle East and other non-Western countries where democracy isn't a tradition.

The failure of Iraq to emerge from widespread instability is a bitter pill for the United States, which optimistically toppled the Saddam Hussein regime more than four years ago. Millions of Iraqis went to the polls to cast ballots, something that generated great promise for the establishment of a democratic system.

But Iraqi institutions, from the infrastructure to the national government, are widely regarded as ineffective in the fifth year of the war.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, declined to be interviewed for this story, but they issued a joint statement to CNN that reiterated that the country's "fundamental democratic framework is in place" and that "the development of democratic institutions is being encouraged."

And, they said, they are helping Iraqi political leaders find ways "to share power and achieve legislative progress."

But Crocker and Petraeus conceded they are "now engaged in pursuing less lofty and ambitious goals than was the case at the outset."

Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of Task Force Lightning, also reflected a less lofty American goal for Iraq's future.

"I would describe it as leaving an effective government behind that can provide services to its people, and security. It needs to be an effective and functioning government that is really a partner with the United States and the rest of the world in this fight against the terrorists," said Mixon, who will not be perturbed if such goals are reached without democracy.

"Well, see that all over the Middle East," he said, stating that democracy is merely an option, that Iraqis are free to choose or reject.

"But that is the $50,000 question. ... What will this government look like? Will it be a democracy? Will it not?" he asked.

But security is far from complete in Iraq, where the government seems dysfunctional and paralyzed.

Seventeen of the 37 Iraqi Cabinet ministers either boycott or don't attend Cabinet meetings. Parliament, now on a much-criticized month-long summer break, has yet to pass key legislation in the areas of energy resource sharing and the future roles of former members of Hussein's Baath Party. U.S. officials, including President Bush, have said there is frustration with efforts by the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to promote political reconciliation.

The government is unable to supply regular electricity and at times running water in the capital. The health care system is run by one Iranian-backed militia and the national police are dominated by another. Death squads terrorize Sunni neighborhoods.

Sectarian cleansing is pushing people into segregated enclaves, protected by Shiite or U.S.-backed Sunni militias, and spurring the flight of thousands to neighboring countries.

Thousands of innocents are dying violently every month in cities and villages across the country.

Iraqi government officials concede things aren't working, but they say that's because the United States doesn't allow Iraq to really control its own destiny.

While the Iraqi government commands its own troops, it cannot send them into battle without U.S. agreement. Iraqi Special Forces answer only to U.S. officers.

"We don't have full sovereignty," said Hadi al-Amri, the chairman of parliament's Defense and Security Committee. "We don't have sovereignty over our troops, we don't have sovereignty over our provinces. We admit it."

And because of the very real prospect of Iranian infiltration, the government doesn't fund or control its own intelligence service. It's paid for and run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

Abdul Qarim al-Enzi, director of the parliamentary ethics committee, asks whether it is "reasonable for a country given sovereignty by the international community to have a chief of intelligence appointed by another country."

One senior U.S. official in Baghdad told CNN that "any country with 160,000 foreigners fighting for it sacrifices some sovereignty."

The U.S. government has long cautioned that a fully functioning democracy would be slow to emerge in Iraq. But with key U.S. senators calling for al-Maliki's removal, some senior U.S. military commanders even suggest privately the entire Iraqi government must be removed by "constitutional or non-constitutional" means and replaced with a stable, secure, but not necessarily democratic entity.

Offline Tatertots

  • Walter The Farting Dog
  • You're a kitty!
  • *****
  • Posts: 10038
Re: Warchild
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2007, 12:07:21 PM »
"a government that functions and can bring security"

So... What they had six years ago?

Offline nacho

  • Hallowed are the Ori.
  • Walter The Farting Dog
  • You're a kitty!
  • *****
  • Posts: I am a geek!!
    • GS
Re: Warchild
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2007, 12:14:10 PM »
That's right!  What Iraq needs is...Saddam Hussein.