30 November 2007

Adios Amigo

1LT Aaron: Marine, American, Badass MC

My buddy Aaron just finished out his 7-months time here and is heading back to Hawaii. He's leaving the world of staff monotony to be back with his fellow marines in Kaneohe. Aaron, I hope we didn't corrupt you too bad with our cynicism and sarcasm. Ladies, he's very single and very available. He provided convoy security in the most violent city in the world and served his time without a lot of moaning and groaning like you hear from me. Show him your appreciation and let him buy you a drink at the nightclubs of Honolulu. Aaron asked for some movie recommendations so here they are:

Best movie about a disillusioned middle-aged man: Brazil
Best movie about distorted reality due to media: Videodrome
Best movie about the ills of Los Angeles: Mulholland Drive
Best movie about a world without war but a need for violence: Rollerball
Best movie about zombies: Dawn of the Dead
Best ridiculous movie about zombies: Return of the Living Dead
Best movie about the throes of drug use: Requiem for a Dream
Best movie about a badass in a bad situation: Escape from New York
Best movie about a bleak future: Children of Men
Best movie about a man disgusted with the world: Taxi Driver

Hope that helps. Travel safe bro!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly News of Iraq (30 Nov)

I'm going to try and do a weekly round-up of what's going on in Iraq for awareness and insight into your thinking about this immensely complex war. Lemme know what you think.

The Good:
Grand Ayatollah Sistani, a tremendously influential Shiite in Iraq, called for not just an end to bloodshed between Sunni and Shiite, but for Shiites to start protecting their Sunni countrymen. This, coupled with the Sadr ceasefire, will hopefully further curb sectarian strife that has plagued Baghdad and other parts of Iraq. Of course you're not going to hear about it from Iraq-war cheerleaders on the right, since they are still under the impression that US troops are bunch of Christian values-conservatives waging holy war in this country. Check out this Malkinesque Hot Air Post on the evils of atheism and tell me that they don't have a bizarre religious agenda. The CLC or "Concerned Local Citizens" movement is getting even bigger and has been quite effective at putting the kaibash on Al-Qaeda in the Sunni areas of Iraq as they establish neighborhood watch-style programs. But will they turn against the Shiite dominated government? That's a big concern, and Irritated Vet raises issues of their credibility in this VetVoice post here (check the comments). I agree, we can only guarantee that these guys, some are ex-insurgents, play along with the central Iraqi government if there is nation-wide reconciliation, which bring us to...

The Bad:
Iraqi parliamentarians are still duking it out over De-Baathification reform. Which would be a big help to empower the minority Sunnis, but the government has resorted to pissing and moaning about green zone security. I have no idea why. Check out the Huffington Post where it suggests that US soldiers are to blame, since "we destroyed their country" according to one commenter, sigh. Glad to know the folks on HuffPost are supportive of their military. Iraq's
government certainly needs to get with the program as this country isn't going to reconcile without a lot of laws and policies in place.

The Ugly:
Blackwater steroid scandal?!? Blackwater seems to be the issue that just won't go away. While I can vouch that the Blackwater dudes are huge, I think the media has taken this issue too far (the massacre in Nissour square was over 2 months ago). While policy needs some serious revamping regarding private security in Iraq, let's keep the OJ-style theatrics out of the equation. Although, hanging with the nerd crowd in highschool, I'm always afraid these dudes are gonna wedgie and/or swirly me. A much more uglier issue is the car bombs found at Dulaimi's house, the leader of Iraqi Accordance Front (the big Sunni bloc in Iraq's parliament). This is a disturbing development indeed, and we would be wise to keep an eye on this one...

Check out those snazzy reflective belts for the CLC

29 November 2007

Attention all Western Journalists: Even Geraldo says Baghdad isn't so Bad!

There is no doubt that there has been a steady drop in Iraq-related coverage in the press back stateside. You'd think the recent security improvements would allow for more journalists to move freely throughout the country and conduct business. I know that statistics show that Baghdad is still way more violent than American cities, but I thought this is what journalists made the big bucks and won Pulitzers for. Western journalists still say Baghdad isn't safe enough according to this Reuters article (Blackfive also makes light of this issue here). Major news media, I'm begging you to come check it out. As a Navy guy stuck in the International Zone, I thoroughly enjoy reading first-hand tales of the real Iraq from Milbloggers and the Iraqi media. I'm sure many folks are of the same mindset of me and as consumers we want to hear what's really going on. If the plea of some weenie staff officer isn't enough to motivate you, consider that Geraldo, who was once suitcase-tossed out of Iraq for an OPSEC violation, is saying that Baghdad is good to go.

"Can it be said, dare I say, are we winning the battle of Baghdad Colonel?" - Geraldo "Geraldo, yes we are." - Colonel Roberts

Check out these screen captions from FOX if you don't believe me. That's right, Geraldo, the guy who said he wanted to pull his kid out of college after the Virginia Tech shootings. We want to hear what you have to say about Iraq, not what you have to say about updates to the OJ trial.

Geraldo starts the new trend in Baghdad, red-tinted star wars type glasses

"Saddam's sons used to take these Cheetahs to the discos," Geraldo remarks at the Baghdad Zoo. Apparently, he's getting some ideas.

Why I'm Dissapointed with "Conservative" Bloggers right now

So I bill myself as Conservative-Libertarian, and I've always supported a lot of conservative / right-wing beliefs (especially during the clinton era!), but I don't attach myself to any particular party. This allows me free rein to embrace or reject ideas objectively without having to tow the party line. I was tremendously pissed at the Code Pink / MoveOn.Org hijinx during the Crocker-Petraeus assessment, and now I'm tremendously pissed at the other side of the political spectrum.

First off, this Ben Shapiro guy. I tried to write him an email by hitting the "contact me!" button on his self-important website. I sent an email to the address posted and it got kicked back to me two seconds later! Booo!!!

Well I'll have to post it here and hope that he finds it via google:

An Open letter to Mr. Benjamin Shapiro:

Mr. Shapiro,
Please refrain from using rhetoric like "Meanwhile, the Republican star rises with the burgeoning Iraqi stabilization. The media exaggerated the pronouncement of imminent Republican death -- a Rudy Giuliani nomination could spell renewed electoral success in 2008."
I understand the nature of punditry in support of one's beliefs, but this is horribly insulting and contributes to the politicization of the Iraq war in America. War is serious business, and people get killed everyday over here. The reality of war is not something to be taken lightly to "spread the word" about 2008 candidates. We do not wear uniforms that proclaim our political affiliation, so what does a "victory" in Iraq have to do with a "victory" for Rudy Giuliani? The recent success in Iraq is not due to politicians in Washington, it is due to the logical strategy presented by GEN Petraeus and AMB Crocker and implemented by the thousands of people busting their asses out here.
LT Nixon

Then I go check out this other blog entry on retired General Sanchez on Moonbattery. It's running the poor guy through the wringer! Calling him some Pelosi's stooge, failed general, and the comments section even makes some lameass "dirty Sanchez" jokes. I'm expecting these people to start accusing him of not having a green card. I figured they just had some beef against US Army Generals. But I did a little checking and they got all up in arms about the moveon.org fiasco two months ago with GEN Petraeus, calling it contemptible to denigrate a general. I guess it's okay to slam a General if it suits your agenda. Is 2007 the year of slandering flag officers who have served in Iraq? Are Ron Paul's people gonna start accusing GEN Casey of wearing the wrong medals next month? What the hell is going on! Generals are highly trusted public servants with civilian bosses. This is not a military junta. If you don't like the war or the mission go write a letter to your congressman. And if you want to badmouth the US military come do it here with me. Someone who has the time and energy to deal with this crap and not 150,000 people to manage in a highly stressful environment.

28 November 2007

Sistani calls for Sunni-Shiite Peace, 3 AQI killed

Here's a bit of good news from Iraq. Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the most influential Shiite in Iraq, has met with some Sunni religious leaders in the holy city of Najaf to offer peace and protection. Sistani's tremendous influence is underestimated in the West, and hopefully this will help a lot in calming the sectarian strife even further. Voices of Iraq has the story:

Top Shiite Cleric Ali al-Sistani urged Shiites to protect their Sunni brothers and defend them, Iraq's southern scholars head said Tuesday. Shiekh Khaled said at a press conference held in Najaf after the visit made by a delegation of Sunni and Shiite clerics to al-Sistani, "The top cleric asserted on the sanctity of Iraq's blood, urging Shiites to protect and defend Sunnis."

In other good news, 3 Al-Qaeda guys got schwacked (see MNF-I press release). One in Samarra, which was where the Al-Askari mosque got bombed in February 2006 by Al-Qaeda sparking sectarian violence throughout the country. The other two were killed in Kirkuk and were part of a VBIED (car bomb) network. That's good to hear, since a lot of the increased security in Baghdad and tribal awakening in Anbar province, sent Al-Qaeda scurrying into the northern provinces. This has caused substantial violence in the northern cities of Kirkuk, Mosul, Beyji, and Samarra. By rolling up or killing Al-Qaeda in the north, it will significantly decrease the violence against Al-Qaeda's primary target: Iraqi civilians. Good to know they can't hide from the security forces.

Ben Shapiro - Chickenhawk Extraordinaire and Embarrassment to UCLA

VetVoice's editor, Brandon Friedman, is starting a hilarious and informative string of threads on chickenhawks. For those not in the know, chickenhawks are those folks who adamantly support war but have a zillion reasons not to sacrifice any of their important time to serve. A disclaimer on this is that I am not a left-wing anti-war veteran, but I will adamantly criticize anyone who demeans the US military (see my hippies section for slams against the left). While I may seem nasty for this smear attacks, I intend to bring to light the major problem of American disassociation from war, since war itself is being engaged with only a handful of the populous. This thread on Vetvoice was sparked by the viewing of this video "Generation Chickenhawk", which was filmed at a young Republicans convention this summer.

While I will not vociferously attack anyone who supports the war in Iraq but isn't in the military, I will attack pundits like Ben Shapiro who had the gall to title an Op-Ed piece on successes in Iraq "George W. Bush's Greatest Triumph?" What the hell is the matter with this guy. How can someone politicize the war so badly as to suggest the hard work of Iraqis and coalition partners is some bullet on a GOP campaign brochure. This article is a complete disservice to the folks that have fought and died over here. People in the military take an oath to defend "The Constitution" not "W". This highlights how the Iraq conflict is becoming less of an American conflict and more of a talking point for politicians.

And another thing, check out this guy's website, his awful blog (it's even shoddy by my standards!), and urbaniak's description of him. Apparently, he's one of these "values" conservative guys who thinks America is in bad shape because of the theory of evolution, porn, and sex before marriage. As an American, I have never been a big fan of people imposing "their" values on the rest of the unknowing population. Perhaps Ben wants to swing by Diyala province and see how Al-Qaeda imposes "their" values on people by chopping off their fingers for smoking and pouring acid on a woman's face for not covering her head. Oh wait, he can't come to Iraq, he's probably got some medical thing that prevents him from military service.

How the hell do you graduate from UCLA a virgin?

Levity: Ahmadinejad - Hot or Not?

I understand the gallows humor involved in trivializing President Ahmadinejad's role in the Middle East, especially since I just discussed illicit Iranian export of weapons into Iraq, but I just couldn't pass this one up. Being a heterosexual male, I'm in no position to pass judgment, so ladies, what's the verdict? Go and vote on it with this link to the fashion magazine "Jezebel" here.

He's so dreamy!

Are you tired of weenie milbloggers?

Tired of hearing LT Nixon bitch n' complain about his email being down at work, steak not cooked properly at the DFAC, and how it's getting chilly in the Green Zone?

Well no worries, I got your back:

Follow Army of Dude to some tough fighting during June in Diyala province during the sweltering heat. Or go down south with the Brits to Basra as the famous Michael Yon tells the tale. Perhaps you wanna hear all about the once notorious Fallujah and its amazing , yet cautious, turnaround with Michael Totten. Or jump on the convoy to Baghdad with This War and Me. Support front line journalism. Cheers!

27 November 2007

On Iran, EFPs, Diplomacy, and Saber-Rattling

Irritated Vet brings up an excellent point in commenting on this post about Iran providing weapons, money, and training to extremist militias inside Iraq, but we should not advocate a full scale military conflict. I absolutely agree as we should exercise proper diplomacy at all costs to avoid unnecessary loss of life. However, to approach the dialogue surrounding future foreign policy decisions, we need to set the facts straight with some of our fellow bloggers.

Anyone who has spent time in Iraq, particularly the Shiite-dominated areas in the south or in Baghdad, probably knows the fear of traveling on the road waiting for the hot molten slug of an EFP to come tearing through the armor of your vehicle. Many also know the horrifying "low-flying jet" sound of an incoming rocket. Tragically all EFPs and many of the deadliest rockets have been publicly disclosed by the military to be exported straight from Iran. We have lost a lot of brothers and sisters to these attacks. Unfortunately, some folks still seem to think it's some kind of Bush/Cheney conspiracy to drum up support for a full-scale conflict! Ms. Majorie Cohn at Huffingon Post demonstrates in her piece "Preventing War with Iran":

As Bush and Cheney try to whip us into a frenzy about the dangers Iran poses, their argument comes up short... They say Iran is sending deadly weapons into Iraq to kill U.S. troops, but those devices can be manufactured in any Iraqi machine shop.

Ms. Cohn, I'm not sure where you are getting your information, but seized 240mm rockets and EFPs have been displayed to the press in Iraq with distinct Iranian markings. There are a lot of good arguments concerning our strained relations with Iran, but let's keep it honest. I am not "saber rattling", since as a junior officer, I have no place making foreign policy decisions; however, I find it my duty to discuss the reality of the situation at hand. We all know where misused intelligence got us in 2003, let's set the record straight this time around.

Ben Johnson, How to Support the Troops - Get Educated and Take Action

I've got a better idea for you fellas...

I often find a lot of diatribe on the web about young ambitous folks proclaiming "Supporting the Troops" by performing paltry tasks like slapping a ribbon on their SUVs or justifying their lack of civic action and sacrifice by decrying "...but I support the Troops". Wonkette just absolutely destroys a young college Republican, Ben Johnson, who supports our president's war objectives, but can only find time to send the folks downrange beef jerky. The notoriously ruthless website then goes on by denouncing him as a chickenhawk, suggesting he be highlighted in Operation Yellow Elephant, and even saying we reinstate the draft just for him! I still believe the best civic action is to sign up for the military (like many of us did after 9/11), but if you're concerned about terrorism and don't like wearing a uniform or getting yelled at, I have a solution for you my young, inquisitive friend. There are a lot of great charities out there that provide much needed morale boosts to the troops on the front lines and wounded vets, but I'm here to ask for something more from you, the young men and women of our country, to "support the troops".

The grim reality of terrorism was brought to the forefront of the American mind with the 9/11 attacks. Since then Madrid, London, and Amman have suffered similar atrocious attacks, and Al-Qaeda has killed scores of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is painfully clear that the global terrorist apparatus still retains the ability to strike fear into the general population and undermine the confidence of legitimate governments. How can this have happened? Our military is top-notch, well funded, and took down two regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan in a matter of weeks. Yet we still are plagued by the violence wrought by terrorism. On the American homefront our leaders continue to bicker amongst each other over whether Iraq was justified and the entire success or failure of the mission of Iraq has been pinned on the Bush administration. My young friends, we need to put aside the partisan rhetoric and get you educated and engaged on all the mistakes and strategies made in the War on Terror, and we also need to encourage taking an interest in the complex dynamics from the society that creates terrorism.

I am mortified that our young, future leaders have dropped out of any sort of civic engagement to update their facebook page from the latest frat party. I am terrified that many of our young citizens only seek to understand the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan to suit talking points for whatever political party they're interested in (Dems, Republicans, Ron Paul, whatever). The global threat of terrorism is not going to go away anytime soon no matter who is elected and we need solutions.

Secretary of Defense Gates (who I think is doing a WAY better job than the last guy) recently spoke of increasing "soft power" at a speech at KSU.

"What is clear to me is that there is a need for a dramatic increase in spending on civilian instruments of national security -- diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action, and economic reconstruction and development," he said. He was particularly scathing about Washington's failure at "communicating to the rest of the world what we are about as a society and a culture."...
..."It is just plain embarrassing that Al-Qaeda is better at communicating its message on the internet than America," he said. In addition, Gates said the United States needed to develop "a permanent, sizeable cadre of immediately deployable experts with disparate skills" to work alongside the military in trouble spots.

This "soft power" Mr. Gates speaks of is essential to making other nations and its people understand that terrorism and extremism is counterproductive and atrocious in our 21st century increasingly globalized society. The young people in America need to take part in this effort if plans to defeat terrorism are to succeed. When I was Ben Johnson's age, 9/11 had just happened and I was confused about what was needed of me. But I understood I had to do something, so I ran off and joined the Navy out of college. I have no regrets about what I did and I continue to serve 5.5 years later, even if I'm "stuck in Iraq". Now we have learned a thing or two about what is effective and what isn't in our strategy to ward off terrorism. Young future leaders of America, I implore you to become educated on how we arrived at our present situation. Ask yourself these fundamental questions: How does a powerful, well-funded, multi-national military still have troubles with an insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan? What sort of culture breeds the allure of terrorist activity? What mistakes did we make in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why is reconstruction and humanitarian assistance so important to prevent terrorism? Can you speak Arabic or Farsi?

Maybe when you find these answers through your own research, you will be able to help out and get in the fight with a variety of governmental and non-governmental organizations that tackle these problems everyday. These organizations are currently under-utilized and understaffed, but are the best hope for a prosperous future for mankind. I understand the seduction of luxury from a high-paying job right out of school, but what good is that going to do you when there's no safe nation to enjoy it. Help us fight on all fronts, that's how you can "support the troops".

Levity: Iraqi Army Rolls Up a Trannie-Terrorist

Caught a quick blurb of terrorists looking ridiculous on CNN-international and the AP wire. The Iraqi Army rolled these yahoos up near a Taji checkpoint so kudos to them.

Separately, Iraqi soldiers thwarted terrorism suspects disguised as a bride and groom trying to pass through a checkpoint along with their "wedding procession" north of the Iraqi capital, the Iraqi Defense Ministry said.

The unfortunate fellow dressed in the wedding gown may know how to plant a deep-buried IED without being spotted by a patrol, but he doesn't know how to deceive any-damn-one into thinking he's a woman. Look at that stubble, and that adam's apple, he doesn't even come close! Perhaps Al-Qaeda and friends need to spend some time with the lady-boys of Pattaya Beach, Thailand to learn how to dress up girlie and confuse us naïve military types. Have fun getting heckled in Iraqi prison.

What happened to America: The case of Ron Paul

A long time ago, when I was young and less cynical, my mother told me that the best president for 1988 was a libertarian by the name of Ron Paul. I was raised to be distrustful of the bullying federal government as it abused the very constitution that created it. Ron Paul seemed to understand that small government was the best for the people, which was what the founding father's envisioned, and so many young men had died for. Since then, government has only grown more abusive and bloated, so Ron Paul should be an ideal candidate to lead us to prosperity and freedom in 2008 right?

Sadly, no.

I do not agree with Ron Paul's bag-ass approach to Iraq, however I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on that. I thought that there was some corporate media blackout to marginalize him. But taking a look at the facts, I can hardly relate to his campaign supporters. Supporters of Paul are engaging in some kind of cyber war on numerous websites to get the word out on Dr. Paul. Apparently, a Ron Paul banner has been pasted on the Stormfront (white pride) website, a strange fellow named Taco John that likes to terrorize individuals who dare question Dr. Paul's credentials(here and here to read about him), and apparently the Ron Paul campaign is working on purchasing some gigantic blimp. Presumably to rule the sky like some Dungeons & Dragons level 23 wyvern, I don't get it.

What have we done with democracy. When did it become such a farce. I'm having serious misgivings about this election, and I agree with South Puget Sound Libertarian's assessment of this democracy of ours , but I'll tough this one out. Maybe it will turn around. I sure hope so.

Courtesy of zombie time, 9/11 conspiracy folks have their prospect for '08. Sigh

26 November 2007

Iraqi Parliament Members Gone Wild Part II

Looks like Iraqi Parliament heated up again over the controversy surrounding the Accountability and Justice Law. This law gives ex-Baathists (Saddam's party) the ability to come back to the workforce. One of the biggest mistakes of the early occupation days was Bremer implementing De-Baathification which effectively purged anyone with a shred of competence from governance. Now the Sadr Trend has resorted to ruckus-like tactics to prevent it from passing. Full story here.

"No! No, to Baathists," the Sadrists shouted, noisily banging their desks and prompting parliamentary speaker Mahmud Mashhadani to order the session to continue behind closed doors.

"The draft violates the Iraqi constitution," Falah Hasan Shanshal, a Sadr group lawmaker, told the parliament, according to a statement issued by the assembly...

...due to the ruckus in parliament, it was not immediately certain if the second reading would take place on schedule.

I'm gonna ask the same question I ask of our congress back in the states, "Who elected these jokers?"

25 November 2007

Iranian-backed Militia Behind the Latest Baghdad Bombing

I didn't believe it either, since these types of atrocities are usually perpetrated by Al-Qaeda. Shiite militia special groups are more into striking coalition and Iraqi convoys with EFPs, not blatantly targeting civilians. But it's straight from Rear Admiral Smith, MNF-I spokesman, on the AP wire.

"In raids overnight, Iraqi and coalition forces were able to identify and detain four members of a militia extremist group we assess as responsible for this horrific act of indiscriminate violence," he said at a news conference. "Based on subsequent confessions, forensics and other intelligence, the bombing was the work of an Iranian-backed special groups cell operating here in Baghdad."

This attack killed 15 people and wounded many more at a pet market on 23 Nov in the Rusafa district of Baghdad. Of course Iran has denied that they had any complicity. While Admiral Smith said that he didn't think Iran specifically order the attack, these special groups getting funding and weaponry from Iranian sources is well documented in the media. And I just wrote an entry about tensions cooling off with Iran here... Guess I was suffering from a case of too much optimism.

If you still think Bush/Cheney are in some neo-con conspiracy to invade Iran to get at its oil sources, you need to work the facts into your punditry and understand that malign Iranian influence in Iraq is extremely real and extremely deadly.

Courtesy of an Iranian-backed militia who was killing people in an Al-Qaeda style attack to show Iraqi people that they still needed the protection of the militia. That is some sick fuckin' logic!

Calling All Vets (and other Well-Wishers)

I just found out about this great forum where we can discuss all issues vet-related: VetVoice. I think it has the potential to be a great front of political activism and will draw attention to issues for comprehension by politicians and the American public alike . It's put on by the folks at Votevets.org, and while I don't agree with everything they advocate, the editor or VetVoice, Brandon Friedman, was very welcoming of yours truly. Irritated Vet has spelled out some good ground rules to abide by here to avoid hostile confrontations and tomfoolery. Primarily, I wanted to be active on the forum so that I can hear other vets issues. I don't plan on wearing this uniform forever, although I would like to help out fellow vets in the long-term. I'm going to try and keep up a diary, which will mostly be recycled blogposts of my own concoction. Come check it out!

Payin Respects to the World's Most Important Job: Moms!

Just saw this post from a military mama on milblogging.com. She seems quite nice, so why don't you swing by and pay her a visit here. This being the holiday season and all, I urge all the youngsters on their first deployment to not forget to drop a line to the woman who gave you life. Don't try the excuse that you couldn't figure out how to use the phone cards in Thailand like I did last deployment. Your Mom knew when you were stealing cookies off the pan, and she knows now when you're making up stories now. Take a lesson from Mr. T on how to treat your mother right.

Reconciling the Punditry Surrounding Iraq

What do Rosie and Malkin have in common? They shouldn't be involved in future foreign policy debate for Iraq.

Perhaps we should take a lesson from the slow, steady progress towards reconciliation between Shiite and Sunni taking place in Iraq and apply it back stateside. The Iraq war has opened up a huge rift in American society: on one hand, you have neo-cons screaming that Iraq was a "good" war and every voice of dissent is unpatriotic, and on the other hand you have Code Pink / Moveon.org types exploiting death and destruction in Iraq to say that Bush's war is unjustifiable. Sadly, neither of these sides holds the solution or even offers any helpful suggestion to the current problems in Iraq.

"The problem is one that I have seen cripple our political life again and again and that seems to grow steadily worse. Liberals and conservatives are equally guilty. Neither side wants to face facts that don't fit its case." - From Newsweek

Newsweek had a great article by Charles Peters called "The Case for Facing Facts". He states that the GEN Petraues counter-insurgency strategy being implemented by our troopers in the field is having successes (having been here since June, I can say it certainly is), while still acknowledging that the Iraq war was never justified. This is an important development as prominent folks on the left put aside the rhetoric and favor a common-sense approach that will benefit both Iraqis and a proper exit-strategy that will leave Iraq with a well-conditioned security force and a stable government. The pro-OIF pundits need to reciprocate and stop this "I told you so" talking point, as if they were the ones who developed/implemented the strategy and that there were never any problems in Iraq. We need future policy on Iraq to be from a rational and logical standpoint avoiding past mistakes. Whether you like it or not, the presence of US forces in Iraq is not a Bush/Cheney or Pelosi/Boxer issue, it's an American issue. They say war is too important to be left to the generals, well I say it's too important to be left to pundits with a political agenda.

24 November 2007

Ms. Huffington: The Green Zone is not a GOP Menace

"The result is three powerful posters that simply but graphically
capture the lunacy of the modern GOP." - Arianna Huffington

I was not surprised when I saw Arianna Huffington and the fancy wine n' cheese crowd running an ad campaign to badmouth the GOP. That's to be expected with an upcoming election. However, I was surprised to see the "Green Zone" being used to portray an example of neocon hubris as you can see in the pic above. Michelle Malkin has got the retort here, and so does AttackCartoons here.

I just wanted to take the time to give a more accurate and up-to-date characterization of the highly secure area in the Karkh district of Baghdad. As a 5-month denizen of the International Zone or IZ or Green Zone, I can assure the folks back stateside that it is NOT what it was under the CPA (the Bremer administration). You can read about the mistakes and shenanigans of the CPA and in the IZ with the hilarious and insightful book "Imperial Life in the Emerald City" by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, but that stuff is 3-4 years old. That makes it ancient history in terms of OIF strategy and progress. No longer will you find Bushies trying to impose American standards of morality on the Iraqi populous. The goals, hopes, and strategies coming from the IZ are much more practical, feasible, and realistic these days. I first came to Iraq with a deep sense of cynicism that this country should be written off as a disaster, and we should stop throwing taxpayer dollars and US armed forces at the problem. But, I can be prone to shifts in my political opinions since I have no allegiance to any party, and based on things I've learned here, and a more rigorous analysis of what is going on in this country, I think there is a possibility of Iraq becoming functional. The IZ is home to numerous embassies, ministries, and Iraqi homes, and there seems to be a commonality of desiring to improve reconciliation and reconstruction throughout Iraq. A theme of implementing rational policies that will provide better security and services to the Iraqi people. While most folks in the IZ remain optimistic about the future, it is balanced by understanding mistakes of the past. Also, I have yet to see a Vote Rudy in 2008 sticker. Sure, when you live in a walled off area you miss out on some of the harsh realities that the rest of the country suffers from (this is sometimes called "Green Zone Fog"). But, I've definitely noticed a drop in violence as I hear less and less gunfire and explosions from outside the T-walls. Listening to the folks passing through from FOBs, outposts, and other places in Baghdad who reside outside the walls (also called the "Red Zone" by us IZ types), my story is thankfully checking out with what's going on. Sure Iraq has had a lot of setbacks, but it's in a rough neighborhood and had to start from scratch with a completely dismantled military and government. I really hope it all works out in the end, because a lot of people have sacrificed their life to meet this objective.If you're ever passing through the IZ, don't forget to check out Saddam's old stomping grounds.

Levity: The Wacky World of Iranian Media

The poster of the Ayatollah means these gals mean business!

A friend sent these pictures to me, and the tag on the bottom of the first one is FARS News Agency. Check out its wikipedia entry here, where it bills itself to "promote the principles of the Islamic Revolution and safeguard national interests". I'm not sure how old these pictures are, but it's a bizarre look into the public diplomacy campaign Iran is running to portray itself as a good guy. To counter Ahmadinejad's holocaust denial, Iranian TV has been running a TV show depicting a Persian do-gooder saving a Jewish woman from the death camps during WWII. I guess these pics above are to counter Iran's widely documented abuse towards women, but it's kind of hard to tell. Even though I'm a frequent critic of American media, at least it's not completely nutty like Iran or North Korea.

23 November 2007

Is it time to leave Iraq?

So what's the deal, violence is down, Al-Qaeda is whooped, and the NY Times just ran a front page article on how swell Baghdad is, should we start our mass exodus out of Iraq? Michael Yon has got the inside scoop from GEN Petraeus here, saying that it is a time for "cautious optimism", and I'm gonna have to agree and suggest that we need to stick it out. While Al-Qaeda has indeed been whooped, they still have the capability to conduct grizzly attacks against the civilians populous as evidenced by the recent Ramadi suicide attack, southern oil exports are still mired in corruption due to Shiite militias, and Michael Gordon wrote a comprehensive NY Times piece about how the Iraqi Army is short on NCOs, the backbone of any nation's army. Before we start blowing each other, we need to recognize that improved security is only the first step in the counter-insurgency, and the next steps will consist of reconstruction, governance improvement, and economic development. This progress is already happening, but not as fast as the folks in congress and stateside want it to. The biggest mistake that the Bush administration made after 9/11 was that the war on terror was going to be quick n' dirty (recall the "shock n' awe" campaign). That has proven to be far from the truth.

Violence is still too damn high in Iraq, despite a recent downturn. Not too mention all the other issues left to be resolved (refugees, corruption, infrastructure, etc.) Those sick bastards in Al-Qaeda have proven this tragically true with this recent Ramadi attack.

Patronizing "The Troops" on Thanksgiving

MSM supports the troops free of politics on Turkey Day, not so much with the anti-war blogosphere.

No, this crass patronization of us folks spending Thanksgiving in the military wasn't from FOX or CNN or anyone else in the MSM. CNN ran shout outs from Balad and FOX had a piece from a Combat Outpost (COP) in Dora. Dora is to Baghdad what South Central is to Los Angeles, so kudos to FOX for getting an embed out there. This abuse came from Leslie Griffith's editorial on Huffington Post. She starts off by giving her thanks to Nancy Pelosi who is itching to cut our funding and waving the white flag of retreat.

"Nancy Pelosi has found her footing! Working to get our children, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers out of Iraq safely and showing the world a woman can be tough and tender makes me thankful."

She then gives thanks to those unsung heroes, Hollywood celebrities, for their support of the troops. This gives her a base of compassion to espouse her political belifs free of criticism.

"It indicated how rare this was. Denzel visited and gave money to Fisher homes built for housing the families of troops in military hospitals. Actress Michelle Pfieffer, David Kelly, John Mellancamp, Cher and Rosie O'Donnell have also visited military hospitals and given money. Rosie (certainly a victim of misdirected anger) was one of the first to do so. After a heartbreaking day of witnessing what roadside bombs do to soldiers, Rosie tried to lighten the darkness with humor."

And now here's the kicker, she gives some uneven thanks to "The Troops"

"Last and most importantly, I am grateful for every American willing to sign up for a war when called. They did not keep track of the lies coming from Washington because they were too busy avoiding road side bombs."

Aw, gee whiz, thanks Leslie. I'm just some dumb grunt in the middle of Bush/Cheney's oil war, and I only know about NASCAR and getting blowed up, thanks for thinkun' for me.

I've had it up to here with these sleazy, private-jet liberal types exploiting our brothers and sisters injured or killed in combat! This bullshit needs to stop. These people need to get honest with themselves and realize that they are hoping for more casualties to come out of Iraq so that they can pin it on the Bush administration and elect a bunch of socialist/anti-military themed politicians in the 2008 elections. "Supporting the troops" has become so politically correct that it has lost all meaning. I honestly think it'd be better if people threw dogshit and spit on us when we got back to the states like the same people did during Vietnam. At least that way the general public would understand where they stood. I beg of you, O wise liberal anti-war types, please leave our casualties of war outside of the political debate! The MSM did on Thanksgiving, why can't the blogosphere?

22 November 2007

For the Hillary Campaign

Thanks to Nate, the office expert on all things Russian, for introducing me to this propaganda website. Propaganda has always fascinated me, and sometimes it can be applied to our current affairs. Here's a good one that roughly translates "For Stalin, For the Happiness of the People."I know it's a little early to start talking about the elections in '08, almost like putting up the Xmas lights in September. But after Hillary's remarks about handing out 5 grand to each kid plopped out, it bore a creepy resemblance to Soviet-era proletariat breeding programs. I'm just trying to help in the campaign effort: workers of the world unite and throw off the shackles of your imperio-captialist oppressors! Watch when she gets elected and I get tossed in some Gulag or Re-education Center. My wiseass comments aren't going to do a lot of good when I'm breaking up rocks to construct Planned Parenthood centers in Siberia.

Abu al-Ajeeli (some Qaeda douche) nabbed near Tikrit by Iraqi Police

Just saw this article on the wire from AFP, and it's given me some reason for thanks on this fine Thanksgiving in Baghdad.

A senior leader of Al-Qaeda operating in executed dictator Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit in northern Iraq and accused of killing 20 policemen has been arrested, police said. A police officer from Tikrit said Hussein al-Ajeeli, also known as Abu al-Ajeeli, was arrested in a raid on Wednesday in the village of Albo Ajeel near Tikrit. "The police raided his house after local villagers gave information about him," the officer said on condition of anonymity. Ajeeli is accused of plotting a suicide attack against a police building in Tikrit two months ago which killed 17 policemen, the officer said. Ajeeli is also also suspected of kidnapping and killing three other policemen in Al-Dour town near Tikrit, he added.

This quick article highlights two important aspects. One, the Iraqi citizens are sick and tired of being sick and tired. They've starting to work with the security forces more and more to provide intelligence to clean up this country of gangs, terrorists, and criminals. Two, the Iraqi Police (or IP in military speak), once written off by the media as a front for sectarian death squads, are becoming a helluva lot better at taking care of business. We might not be here forever after all.

The Iraqi Police, gettin' er done

Happy Turkey Day!

To all our brothers and sisters on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan and those at the blunt end of the spear in shipyards and silos. To those out at sea and those doing flight missions. I offer a non-partisan, all inclusive Happy Turkey day to you! Now be thankful that America, while having its troubles, is still the best country around, and at least we have that going for us. I'm gonna go get some pumpkin pie at the DFAC.

USS Kitty Hawk Gets Dissed

Check out this article here about the USS Kitty Hawk being all set up to pull into Hong Kong and then the Chinese pulling out the rug at the last minute. That's a kick in the balls, right on Turkey day too. I've had similar experiences, where we thought we were going to pull into port, only to find out that a big typhoon was in the works, so we had to stay out to sea. Instead of enjoying booze and chicks on liberty, we got do engineering drills. I think I lost part of my soul on that one.

Cooling it off with Iran

The media scene in Sep...

2 months ago the rhethoric being played worldwide was strong. The IAEA was pissed about nuclear inspections, EFPs and 240mm Rocket attacks were rampant across Iraq, and that assbag Ahmadinejad came to Columbia University to say that the Holocaust needed to be "investigated" and that there were no men who dressed well and liked showtunes in Iran. I remember Fox running all sorts of pieces on Iran, and it appeared some kind of military action was imminent.

But now it seems the tune has changed. President Bush said diplomacy was the best option and so did Admiral Fallon (head of CENTCOM) during an interview w/Al Jazeera. EFP attacks are way down, and all the recent caches seized have been acknowledged by our leaders to be before Iran made commitments to Iraq. The US just released 9 Iranians in detention in Iraq. So what should one make of all this. Dr. Dabbagh, Government of Iraq spokesman, discusses with AFP:

"Iran is showing more restraint in sending people and weapons todestabilise Iraq," he said, echoing comments by US military commanders in recent weeks. The change came when Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki visited Iran in August, Dabbagh said."He spoke very frankly with the supreme leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei)in Mashad. He said Iran had to choose whether to support the (Iraqi)government or any other party."Maliki had then received a pledge from Iranian leaders that they wouldclamp down on the flow of weapons, money and people across the border.

Prime Minister Maliki's visit to Iran in August was the one where he was holding hands with Ahmadinejad, which is pretty normal around these parts, but still a bit sketchy in this context. Well, it's hard to say right now, but military action is definitely not imminent, I can tell because the hawkish Fox ran this clip the other day. Looks like US and Iraq and Iran might get together for another round of talks. Strange times we live in, since the 24/7 news cycle can change world events at the drop of hat. I just try and keep up without my head spinning too fast.

A completely different media scene in Nov.!

21 November 2007

Bumbling Bureaucracy Strikes Again

It was to some dismay that I heard about a soldier getting a bill from the DoD to return part of his bonus after recovering from combat-related wounds in Iraq. The story is here. Of course, it was a mistake on the military's part, but this is egregious. Anyone who has spent time in the military knows about foul-ups. I have had numerous pay issues, shipyard workers come down to the wrong boat to do maintenance, and a male colleague who got called to medical for his annual pap smear. You get used to this sort of thing, but sending a bill to a wounded vet is UNSAT! I urge our civilian and military colleagues who manage this sort of thing stateside to please pay a little closer attention to what you are doing. This is embarrassing.

Should Supporters of the Iraq Mission Badmouth Military Contracting?

If it involves shameless war profiteering, you bet your arse! Thanks for the tip from Gold Star Mom Speaks Out on the former CEO of DHB Industries, David Brooks. They now go by Point Blank and they have a contract for body armor components. Apparently, Mr. Brooks is under grand jury indictment for insider trading, fraud, and tax evasion (see NY Times story here). I read some of the indictment report found here. It's a got a bunch of mumbo-jumbo that I don't understand cause I'm no lawyer, but it's pretty clear he was involved in some pretty sleazy practices. He spent exorbitant amounts of money on his racehorses and his kid's Bat Mitzvah and charged it to the corporate account, unbeknownst to the shareholders. To include such consumer items crucial to survival as:

$101,190 on a Belt Buckle Studded with Diamonds, Rubies and Sapphires and $106,062 on Horse Vitamins.

Just those two items alone beat out GEN Petraeus' base pay for a year (the most senior ranking man in Iraq, ergo the most paid) which can be found here (at O-10 over 26). $14508.60/month * 12 = $174,103.20.

That's not to include the $10M Bat Mitvah in 2005 for his daughter. Seems like an awful lot to be reading from the Torah and doing the electric slide, but, hey, I'm no expert on the matter.
Makes you wonder what type of system we have established where the taxpayers reward these shameless profiteer types. I don't even want to look into who this guy was in bed with in Washington. Military contracting is important to the war effort, as a matter of fact I work with some swell civilians who are contractors and support the mission here. But, we need to keep apprised of these hijinx as its taxpayers dollars at stake ultimately, and this type of poor ethical standards among a companies top staff will reflect on their product.

I just checked the vest portion of my IBA (Body Armor) and guess who manufactured it, Point Blank, D'oh! How's that for some irony.

Great Progress in Iraq as Media Coverage Bottoms Out

Just saw this report for news coverage from 11-16 Nov, and apparently Iraq's not high on the list of anyone's priorities back stateside. Iraq policy is running neck and neck in coverage with the Baseball Steroids fiasco, and OJ Simpson's latest woes are whooping Iraq in the Cable News market. I could be optimistic and say that is due to the drop in violence, but there are still some very important issues coming up in the near future. One of the reasons I started this blog was to bring people back stateside a little better characterization, albeit from my own distorted opinions, of the war. So without further adieu, here's some upcoming items of interest in Iraq that will be pivotal to the future of the region and you should keep your eyes on:

1)Whether or not Turkey launches a cross border operation into the Kurdish north to strike the PKK before winter.
2) Upcoming diplomatic talks between US / Iraq / Iran, if they happen
3) Effectiveness of military operations targeting Al-Qaeda and other extremists in northern Iraq, south of Baghdad, and in Diwaniya (so far they've been quite succesful).
4) What's gonna happen to Chemical Ali?!?

Stay Tuned.

Like the Laserdisc and Macerena, Iraq seems to be losing interest with folks back home.

20 November 2007

Levity for the Day: Kuato Lives!

Dwarf babes and guns, there is no finer art form

After the post on Lions for Lambs, I just had to comeback with a great movie. The Paul Verhoeven classic Total Recall!It's blend of of Verhoeven's commentary on the ills of fascism and the Philip K Dick confusion of reality work great together. This is back when it was acceptable for the protagonist to take on evil empires and organizations. Our world is maybe too complex and post-modern now to do that, but it's always fun to relish in the classics. Remember these classic captions (note: the exploding head looks suspiciously like CNN's Barbara Starr)

Get ready for a surprise!

See you at the party Rickter!

Lions for Lambs - Iraq Edition

Meryl Streep waxes smug in "Lions for Lambs".

I'm one of the fortunate folks in Iraq who gets to take a partial day off on Tuesdays, so to pass the time I took a field trip to the Iraqi-run shops up the road. I wasn't able to locate "Redacted" (has anyone actually seen it out there in milblog land?), but I did find one of the recent anti-war films, Lions for Lambs. It should be noted that Iraqis are incredibly shrewd businessmen, and I'm probably not gonna be able to score a copy of "Redacted" since the shopkeeper felt it would slander his customer base. But Lions for Lambs was available, so I snatched it up for a couple bucks.

The rotten tomato meter is at 26%!
So apparently the movie didn't fare so well stateside. It was incredibly pompous, took leaps and bounds in logic to connect the current conflict against terrorism with the war in vietnam, and reminded me of the motivation behind the folks that just won't let the 60s go. However, it did bring up some important issues in our society. The disaffected college student is a good representation of how intelligent youth are becoming only concerned with the endless parade of consumer products and celebrity gossip peddled to breed us into sheep. The reporter represents how the zeitgeist is still upset that communism never took hold in America and that all wars are pointless and just result in death. While, Robert Redford's character shows us that it's Hollywood elitists like him that know what's best for this country, and he says we're losing the war! Even Afghanistan! I don't agree with the movies message, but I do find anything that provokes thought interesting. I recommend checking it out if you have the time.

Iraqi Parliament Members Gone Wild!

Ran across this on Al-Sharqiya today, the Dubai-based satellite station that has a slight tendency to cover violence and the shortcomings of Iraq's government.

"Local news agencies tonight cited members of the Council of Representatives as saying that US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker paid a surprise visit to the COR to not only talk to Al-Mashhadani but also to make peace between Al-Mashhadani and First Deputy Speaker Khalid al-Atiyah, who got into a brawl on Wednesday during which they exchanged inappropriate words. The same sources said that the brawl was caused by Al-Mashhadani's remarks against the way Al-Atiyah ran the Council of Representatives' sessions during his absence, something that made Al-Atiyah lose his temper."

So not only does the Ambassador have arguably the hardest job in the world, he's got to break up fights like a bouncer at a frat party. Well, I gotta give some credit to the Iraqi government. I mean I understand that they are a new entity, and there is also talk in the Iraqi media that the De-Baathification reform law might get passed soon, one of those benchmarks (I think). Most importantly, at least these guys just slug it out, while back in America there would be committees formed and witnesses called in and 3 hours of sleep-inducing coverage on CSPAN.

Bloggin' for Counterterrorism

Came across an interesting read in the Washington Post and thought I should share. It seems my cousins in the State Department are making efforts via the Middle Eastern blogosphere to conduct diplomatic efforts in reshaping the paradigm and values associated with GWOT.

"Our core message must outline an alternative future that is more attractive than the bleak future offered by the terrorists," said Michael Doran, depu
ty assistant secretary of defense for support of public diplomacy.

This is a big development and I don't know why it got shoved to the back on A15. For too long, many senior people in America believed we were in some sort of culture war of Judeo-Christian values vs. Middle Eastern values. This can probably be attributed to the rise of the Christian Right thinking that governmental policies had to somehow be approved by Jesus himself. I'm no multiculturalist, because some cultures are better than others, but trying to impose the "American way" over in the Middle East just ain't gonna work and is a bad idea in the first place. These countries have been around for thousands of years and have survived Alexander the Great, the Mongols, and the Ottoman Empire. So how come when the CPA started out here they were pushing anti-smoking campaigns and Western-style democracy while the insurgency began to foment. We need practical solutions that are in-line with Iraq's geography and history. Which is why I'm glad to be serving in Iraq under GEN Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker who understand that very well. Kick out the badguys, help get the lights on, and help the government spend their oilbucks to benefit the Iraqi people. We can hold off on implementing seatbelt laws in Baghdad.

But anyways, it's been noted that most suicide bombers are disheveled youth who get a lot of their unacceptable ideology from Muj websites . Most of them are young, pissed, and impressionable, so much so that killing fellow Muslims is viable. Despite what political, cultural or religious background you're from, I think we can agree that killing innocent civilians walking around the marketplace is no good. This type of effort from the staties should be beneficial in addressing this issue with the would-be terrorists and the 99.9% of the Muslim world that isn't terrorists as well. We're just here to stop terrorism and get you on your feet after years of Baath party tyranny, not open up Disneyland in the holy city of Najaf.

Unfortunately, bloggin' is still not even close to having the influence of the mass media. And the mass media is still gonna cover the American point of view from the Rices, Cheneys, Bushes, and Pelosis, not the mid-level diplomats. But at least this might put a dent on things. So arise my fellow infidels and join the bloggin' fight!

I know, I know, I'm not supposed to badmouth Bush, him being the last stop in my chain of command and all, but I'm just poking fun. Sometimes I think he just doesn't come off so well, even though he means well. Hopefully blogs and other forms of communication can supplement our practical and realistic objectives over here...

Brazil - why pour salt on your wounds?

I caught something quick on Drudge Report about how Brazil has found some new oil fields offshore. I've never had the chance to go to Brazil, but it seems like there'd be a plethora of babes, Carnivale sounds like a total party, and the buffet at "Rio" in Vegas is top-notch so I'm guessing the food is good in the real Rio. I'm happy to hear countries finding oil besides Iran and Venezuela, since Chavez and Ahmadinejad seem to display this appaling, self-righteous hubris whenever they get to talking about oilbucks that makes one want to go into punchin' faces. But then I read that Brazil wants to take some of the revenue and invest in... a nuclear submarine! Brazil, I implore you to think of the consequences on your citizenry. I just spent 3 years on a boat and I am still going through a recovery period... in Iraq. So sure nuclear submarines might sound like a good idea, but don't neglect the hardships endured by the crew below. Me on my last deployment on the right, I was such a happy lad.

If you only have time for one story about Baghdad...

Too busy watching the tube and hearing your obnoxious kids whine and scream to read a good article on the security situation in Baghdad? Don't worry, LT Nixon's got your back. It's a bit lengthy, but check out this one from Newsweek here: Baghdad comes alive. I thought it explained the delicate tapdance between Coalition Forces, reconciled Sunni insurgents, Iraqi Security Forces, and moderate Mahdi militia members pretty well, and in a balanced methodology. Best of all, it's written by a guy who was out here doing some real fact-checkin', not some know-it-all in Washington with a political agenda. One thing it doesn't address is that infrastructure and service improvements are gonna be key to maintaining security. Electricity still sucks ass for the Iraqis, and there is mass unemployment (probably due to the lack of electricity). The only way infrastructure can improve here, assuming security continues getting better, is for the Government of Iraq to quit jibber jabbering all the time and work to turn their oilbucks into tangible service improvements. Only time will tell.

Pic of Baghdad Operations Center head honcho General Abud and Operation Fardh Al-Qanoon (Baghdad security plan) services guru, Dr. Chalabi at a monster-sized press conference, showing the importance of the next battle in Baghdad.

19 November 2007

Levity for the day: How 2 Grow a Mullet

Great link that takes me back. When I was a youngster my Dad would take me and some friends to Cedar Point in Ohio once a year. We always loved counting the mullets and Big Johnson T-Shirts in a day. I know the mulitia has been around for ages on the internet, but sometimes you gotta pay homage to the classics.

How to Grow a Mullet

Code Pink Goes Terrorism Chic?!?!

I always try to stay in the know of what the yahoos back stateside are getting worked up about. I just got done perusing the Zombie Time photos from the 27 October "anti-war" rally in SF and I see the Code Pinko types have gone from downright annoying to terrorist chic! The city of SF lets these clowns prance around but won't let the USMC film a commercial? Also, what better way to compliment the wardrobe of an aging hippie douche than a keffiyeh. Presumably, it's to show "solidarity" with the Palestinians, um, I guess, kind of, hard to determine. I perceive it more as a misguided message to sympathize with terrorists in an effort to undermine the war effort. Now I admit the keffiyeh has some legitimacy in Middle Eastern culture (see here), but you gotta wonder, if Martians invaded earth, would these turkeys be marching through the streets of SF with green antlers, styrofoam death rays, and cute signs that welcomed our invaders? These people first royally pissed me off when they made a ruckus during the GEN Petraeus and AMB Crocker testimony in September. They have no rational concept of what is ethically right or wrong, and seem to take part in any form of a public nuisance to criticize the Bush administration. Now I've got some respect for the Palestinians, since I hope it all works out for peace between them and the Israelis in the near future. I also have some respect for the Germans with their good beer, efficient engineering, and strong work ethic, but you don't see me walking around with shiny black Gestapo boots.

Code Pink vs. one of the Muj responsible for the London 7/7 attacks:

Do you see the resemblance?

Not a Good Sunday...

I think it's time to step back from my usual political rhetoric and shenanigans and reflect on the most recent atrocities wrought by terrorists. War is nasty business, and while some people get killed charging a hill or storming a beach, others get killed while handing out toys to youngsters in Diyala province. AP has the story here.

"A suicide bomber detonated his explosives as American soldiers were handing out toys to children northeast of Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least three children and three of the troopers, U.S. and Iraqi authorities said. Seven children were wounded in the attack in Baqouba, where U.S. soldiers wrested control from al-Qaida in Iraq last summer."

Diyala province has seen a lot of tough fighting this year against both Al-Qaeda Iraq and Shiite extremists. Operation Arrowhead Ripper purged a lot of the area in early June, when the surge reached full strength, but the enemy still has the means to conduct acts of brutality. I sincerely believe that terrorism, like fascism and communism in 20th century, is the greatest threat of the 21st century and all efforts must be employed to exterminate it like the virus that it is. I wanted to post the names of the fallen as a solemn memorial, but they aren't released yet by the DoD, presumably since the grim task of notifying the families is in progress. You can get the names of the fallen, when released, here:

There was also an attack on the Finance Minister's convoy in the Karrada district of Baghdad across the river. Al-Sharqiya satellite TV has got the story:

"A car bomb has exploded in the area of Al-Karradah in central Baghdad. At least 14 people were either martyred or wounded in the attack. Iraqi police sources said that the explosion targeted the motorcade of an Iraqi Finance Ministry official without identifying him. The sources only said that five people were martyred and nine others sustained various wounds, adding that this is still an initial death toll owing to the fact that some of the wounded have sustained very serious injuries."

While violence is down in the country, this makes it clear that it is still at unacceptable levels. This flare up on Sunday was most likely an attempt to incite Shiite - Sunni sectarian violence, since it was the eighth anniversary of the assassination of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr. Iraq has a long way to go...

Islamic State of Iraq AKA Al-Qaeda Iraq AKA AQI AKA The enemy

Coalition Forces stomp Qaeda up North, when's hollyweird gonna tell the story

Saw this on the MNF-I press releases and thought I would share: Coalition forces target al-Qaeda networks; six terrorists killed near Samarra. Samarra is up north in Salah ad Din province where the famous mosque is located that got bombed in February 2006 and sparked large-scale sectarian conflict. It's minarets got hit in June 2007 as well. Just another Al-Qaeda tactic to try to escalate strife in this country leading to sectarian cleansing and destabilization. Abominable! But now the troopers are really putting the hurt on these guys. From yesterday's press release:

"During the operation, two of the armed men were seen leaving the first building and maneuvering into a second building. Coalition forces called for the building's occupants to come out, but no one complied. Perceiving hostile intent, Coalition forces engaged the armed men, killing four terrorists. As the ground force secured the buildings, they found three of the terrorists killed were wearing suicide vests, including one that had detonated. They also found a weapons cache, improvised explosive device making materials and a media cache. Coalition forces called for supporting aircraft to safely destroy the two buildings, which were assessed to be structurally unsafe."

Radio BBC Arabic ran it word for word, but haven't seen much from the wire services. Of course I can't comment on the "boots on ground" aspect of the story due to my pogueness, but it's good to know the guys outside the wire have got our backs. Terrorists fighting with suicide vests on is certainly a dangerous business. Of course, people stateside seem to have forgotten about the threat of terrorism, and are more concerned with the legality of water-boarding these crazies. You certainly aren't going to hear about good things happening here from richey-rich Mark Cuban (see the Vox Veterana blogpost here) who thinks the troops rape and pillage in their spare time, when not bored. Well I for one blog about clowns like Mark Cuban and Brian De Palma when I'm bored, so excuse me for not fitting your preconceived notion. This gross misconception of reality from the limousine liberal crowd may explain why the recent spat of Anti-War flicks are stinkin' up the joint at the box office. Check that out from Time here. Well if I was some Hollywood producer-type living in the hills and I wanted to make some money for pickin up hot babes at the Skybar, I would make a movie about the US forces putting the hammer down in operations like this one near Samarra. That'd be a goddamn movie.

18 November 2007

The Latest Victims of GWOT: Congressional Democrats?

Ah yes, the latest victims in Iraq are not from death squads, suicide attacks, or IEDs, but from little pamphlets the Public Affairs folks hand out when dealing with congressional visits. Check out the NY Times story here about Rep Tauscher (D-CA) who says she felt "slimed", because (*gasp*) people were briefed prior to her visit that she was not supportive of the OIF campaign. Apparently, we're supposed to be good little boys and girls when these CODELs roll through, and be all smiles and happy to know that "The US congress supports the troops and our families!" If the US congress wanted to support the troops, they would pass funding to enable winning the war and knockoff the slander of our boss, GEN Petraeus.

This is from Tauscher's August "Iraq diary" found on her website.

"It is stunning to hear our military and diplomatic leadership's rationale and talking points...I'm convinced that Petraeus will say that we will marginally reduce troops in the Spring of 08 but will ask for my time. THEN have that 'we need to keep the military surge going' rhetoric parroted by the Iraqis. They use the same phraseology, pauses and anecdotes. I'm no doctor but I think I have diagnosed a virulent and dangerous new disease.... Green Zone Fog."

Green Zone fog eh? I'm convinced GEN Petraeus knows more about Iraq than most other Americans, you know why, it's called the chain of command you dunce! GEN Petraeus is not flying solo, he gets information from his subordinate officers in theater, which is the way it's worked for thousands of years.

"The most disturbing aspect of my trip is that I am convinced that too many of the Iraqi leadership, Maliki, Barham Salih, Heshimi live in the Green Zone. And, after nearly two years of a permanent government the Parliament meets only in the Green Zone, where no average Iraqis can visit. Talk about out of touch."

I particularly appreciate the implications that we need to "get rid of" the democratically-elected Iraqi leadership. This view has also been espoused by Senators Clinton and Levin. Thanks for the public diplomacy effort of giving justification for some kind of coup. It portrays the coalition presence as being ethically standing somewhere in line with the raging Mongol hordes that destroyed Iraq hundreds of years ago.

"Even though we are in the Green Zone, also called the International Zone, we have to wear our body armor and helmets when we move around. Every few yards there are 'Duck and Cover' concrete shelters where we are told to run to if the alarm goes off signifying in-coming mortars. Looks like we will have at least 8 seconds to get to cover."

Again, thanks for broadcasting that information to the world, you jackhole! Maybe you'd like to put little markers on a google-earth overlay of good places to hit with mortars on your website. I guess operational security protocol doesn't apply to you, because she's a "representative
of the people".

While Rep. Tauscher was prancing around over here bogarting air and security assets, I'm certain a statie could have used these assets to go meet some sheikhs in one of the provinces and convince their tribe that it's better to build markets and open infrastructure instead of blowing up coalition forces, AKA winning the war. Thanks Tauscher, you really "support the troops", as the "support center for military families" banner on your tax-payer funded website strangely juxtaposed with "Rep. Tauscher Speaks in Support of Resolution Opposing Troop Surge" signifies. Reminds me of the SGT Barnes line in Platoon when he gets upset that "politicans in Washington trying to fight this war with one hand tied around their balls". Some things never change.

Retort: From Ravinman on Leaving No One Behind

Ravinman writes

"Keeping you up to date on efforts to keep MIA's in the spotlite. We could also use some help out here in CO next June...Stay tuned in to http://mtkiamia.com/ on what's coming & how to help."

Great, thanks for the link, Ravinman. Every MIA is like a stab in the heart for us as Americans, an, I whole-heartedly support that we should never give up the search and keep them in our minds.

LT Nixon