Thursday, July 05, 2007

Iraq: another update.

Yesterday, on the Grand Fourth, our illustrious "war" scoundrel sought refuge in patriotism in front of a captive audience of National Guardsmen at a base Martinsburg W. Va. After disgracing himself and his office earlier this week by giving one of the cronies who helped him lie us into the Iraq war a get-out-of-jail-free-pass -- in one of the most bold-faced political pay-offs in history -- he had to change the subject -- and quick.

George W. Bush and the exalted oligarchy he rolls with may not have to play by the rules but, from the assembled citizen-soldiers he was speaking to, he demanded: "More patience, more courage, more sacrifice."

Because we're almost there: General Fil said just the other day that after four years and 3,588 dead Americans, we control almost 50 % of Baghdad. And even better than that, those fractious Iraqi politicians are about to get around to passing the oil bill.

Not that oil is what the war has been about all along-- "Do not destroy oil wells" -- but, it just so happens the most important benchmark the White House wants to see met is a law splitting up the oil money between the various Iraqi ethnic groups and -- most importantly -- the multinational oil companies.

It doesn't look like it's going to happen, though. Al-Maliki may have rammed the proposal through his watered down cabinet, but that doesn't mean it's going to fly in the parliament -- even if they could ever get a quorum: 44 Sunni members are sitting out over a dispute about the speaker of parliament and a group of Muqtada's Shiites are also absent.

And, as if that weren't bad enough . . .

The LA Times reports:

"An influential group of Sunni Muslim clerics, the Association of Muslim Scholars, joined the fray surrounding the oil bill yesterday by issuing a religious edict, forbidding legislators from voting for it.' Whoever does so will be exposed by God's wrath and will have committed a crime of collaboration with the enemy,' said a statement from the group."

I'm sure they'll get it all worked out before they go on a month long vacation at the end of the month, right? W says: "I know it's a tough fight," but he'll also be in Crawford during the month of August working on his handicap and pulling some weeds, so just have patience and keep sacrificing.

Concord, Lexington and Baghdad:

W., always the optimist says, 'don't worry, be happy': Being such an avid student of history W. draws on the American experience during the revolution: "It's not easy to stand united. We learned that lesson during our own nation's history, and we're seeing that in Iraq today."

Yes, it's just like 1776 all over again.

The AP reports that: "Bush compared the citizen-soldiers of the Continental Army who traded pitchforks for muskets to the guardsmen and other military personnel fighting today."

In reality, the Continentals of the Revolution showed more similarities to the Iraqi insurgents. In his excellent "Origins of the American Revolution," John C. Miller writes:

"The very extent of the colonies was believed to make impossible any conquest by the British army. Although the British might gain a foothold, they could not hold down the country as the American army adopted the Indian method of fighting. 'I think it will be best to let our Enemies land without opposition,' said a colonial strategist, 'and we can bush fight them and cut off their Officers very easily, and in this way subdue them with very little loss.'

Alexander Hamilton advised Americans to avoid a pitched battle: 'It will be better policy,' he said 'to harass and exhaust the soldiery by frequent skirmishes and incursions.' [I don't know, that sounds a little like terrorist talk to me, better keep an eye on that Hamilton character.]

A common complaint of British generals was that the Americans would come out and fight like men. Sound familiar?

Diyala, all over but for the shouting?

In any case, the fight in Diyala Province seems to be in the mopping up phase at this point.

The NYT reported recently:

"Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim al-Rubaie, the Iraqi commander of operation in Diyala, said the coalition and Iraqi forces had made significant advances during the recent large-scale operation to clear al-Qaeda from Baqubah. 'Life has gradually started to go back to normality in these areas, and residents are happy with the military operations,'" al-Rubaie says. [See, shake and bake does work.]

In news from further south, however, where we're fighting the Shiites (Not al-Qaeda):

"American F-16s bombed buildings in Diwaniya after insurgents launched 75 rockets and mortar shells at a coalition base. Iraqi officials said the jets killed 10 civilians, including women and children, wounded 30 others and damaged several houses."

The US military said they "targeted and bombed insurgent launch sites" and blamed the insurgents for using civilians as human shields. Of course, in the case of the 3 American soldiers charged with allegedly killing 3 Iraqi civilians in Iskandariya and leaving weapons near their bodies to make it look like they were insurgents; that was on purpose. I'm not sure the Iraqis are willing to make the distinction between the two types of civilian killings at this late date.

In any case . . . back in Diwaniya:

"The strike led to a protest march by residents, some of whom opened fire on a government building, leading to an exchange in which a 17-year old demonstrator and two security guards were killed."

It's getting more and more difficult to tell the residents from the insurgents these days. That's the problem with occupations, isn't it?


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