Monday, April 21, 2008


It is just a crying shame the mainstream media in the United States has collectively decided the Iraq War is not worth covering. The reason is simple. Very few people in the media have a vested interest in the war because they never served in the United States military and they don't want their children or grandchildren to serve in the United States military.

This short video is a tribute to those who were not afraid to join the military unlike the chickens in the mainstream media and scores of right wingers who write this blogger praising the war, but NOT with their children or grandchildren in the military. Hell, no. Let somebody else fight the war.

BILL CORCORAN, editor, CORKSPHERE, former Cpl (E-4) United States Army Combat Engineers.


This video captures the essence of what the war in Iraq is REALLY like. It is not a video game. All too often this blogger receives emails from right wingers who think fighting the war in Iraq is all worth it----but NOT with their children or grandchildren.

This video shows how US troops keeps their minds from going completely off track by using music videos as they battle the enemy.

This is the video story of young soldiers and Marines who don't come from privileged homes and neighborhoods, but are what the American fighting MAN is really all about.



All too often this former GI and Korean War vet gets emails from right wingers who are all gung-ho for the war in Iraq, but not with their own children or grandchildren. Hell, no. Let someobody else fight the battle they want to have in Iraq.

This video is a reminder to every chicken that sends me e-mails supporting the war in Iraq what the war in Iraq is really like. Warning: Chickens. It is brutally graphic.

BILL CORCORAN, editor, CORKSPHERE, the site dedicated to our men and women in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Too many Americans have no idea what it is like to be in war and never will. This new and graphic video doesn't pull any punches and shows what war is really like. Perhaps some of the chickens who decided to cut and run rather than serve in the United States military should be forced to watch this before they send this former GI and Korean War veteran stupid e-mails praising the war in Iraq.
Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE.


It is the opinion of this former GI and Korean War veteran that Americans are being shielded by what is really taking place in Iraq with our young soldiers and Marines. This GRAPHIC video shows what war is really like and what in our opinion should be shown on TV every single day of the week.


Not enough people in the United States have any idea what our soldiers and Marines are going through every single day in Iraq, but this graphic video, which was just released, shows what war is really like. WARNING: IT IS GRAPHIC.


12 Answers to Questions No One Is Asking About Iraq

by Tom Engelhardt TomDispatch

Can there be any question that, since the invasion of 2003, Iraq has been unraveling? And here's the curious thing: Despite a lack of decent information and analysis on crucial aspects of the Iraqi catastrophe, despite the way much of the Iraq story fell off newspaper front pages and out of the TV news in the last year, despite so many reports on the "success" of the president's surge strategy, Americans sense this perfectly well.

In the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, 56 percent of Americans "say the United States should withdraw its military forces to avoid further casualties" and this has, as the Post notes, been a majority position since January 2007, the month that the surge was first announced. Imagine what might happen if the American public knew more about the actual state of affairs in Iraq – and of thinking in Washington. So, here, in an attempt to unravel the situation in ever-unraveling Iraq are 12 answers to questions which should be asked far more often in this country:

1. Yes, the war has morphed into the U.S. military's worst Iraq nightmare: Few now remember, but before George W. Bush launched the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, top administration and Pentagon officials had a single overriding nightmare – not chemical, but urban, warfare. Saddam Hussein, they feared, would lure American forces into "Fortress Baghdad," as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld labeled it. There, they would find themselves fighting block by block, especially in the warren of streets that make up the Iraqi capital's poorest districts.
When American forces actually entered Baghdad in early April 2003, however, even Saddam's vaunted Republican Guard units had put away their weapons and gone home. It took five years but, as of now, American troops are indeed fighting in the warren of streets in Sadr City, the Shi'ite slum of two and a half million in eastern Baghdad largely controlled by Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia. The U.S. military, in fact, recently experienced its worst week of 2008 in terms of casualties, mainly in and around Baghdad. So, mission accomplished – the worst fear of 2003 has now been realized.

2. No, there was never an exit strategy from Iraq because the Bush administration never intended to leave – and still doesn't: Critics of the war have regularly gone after the Bush administration for its lack of planning, including its lack of an "exit strategy." In this, they miss the point. The Bush administration arrived in Iraq with four mega-bases on the drawing boards. These were meant to undergird a future American garrisoning of that country and were to house at least 30,000 American troops, as well as U.S. air power, for the indefinite future. The term used for such places wasn't "permanent base," but the more charming and euphemistic "enduring camp." (In fact, as we learned recently, the Bush administration refuses to define any American base on foreign soil anywhere on the planet, including ones in Japan for over 60 years, as permanent.) Those four monster bases in Iraq (and many others) were soon being built at the cost of multibillions and are, even today, being significantly upgraded. In October 2007, for instance, National Public Radio's defense correspondent Guy Raz visited Balad Air Base, north of Baghdad, which houses about 40,000 American troops, contractors, and Defense Department civilian employees, and described it as "one giant construction project, with new roads, sidewalks, and structures going up across this 16-square-mile fortress in the center of Iraq, all with an eye toward the next few decades."
These mega-bases, like "Camp Cupcake" (al-Asad Air Base), nicknamed for its amenities, are small town-sized with massive facilities, including PXs, fast-food outlets, and the latest in communications. They have largely been ignored by the American media and so have played no part in the debate about Iraq in this country, but they are the most striking on-the-ground evidence of the plans of an administration that simply never expected to leave. To this day, despite the endless talk about drawdowns and withdrawals, that hasn't changed. In fact, the latest news about secret negotiations for a future Status of Forces Agreement on the American presence in that country indicates that U.S. officials are calling for "an open-ended military presence" and "no limits on numbers of U.S. forces, the weapons they are able to deploy, their legal status or powers over Iraqi citizens, going far beyond long-term U.S. security agreements with other countries."

3. Yes, the United States is still occupying Iraq (just not particularly effectively): In June 2004, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), then ruling the country, officially turned over "sovereignty" to an Iraqi government largely housed in the American-controlled Green Zone in Baghdad and the occupation officially ended. However, the day before the head of the CPA, L. Paul Bremer III, slipped out of the country without fanfare, he signed, among other degrees, Order 17, which became (and, remarkably enough, remains) the law of the land. It is still a document worth reading as it essentially granted to all occupying forces and allied private companies what, in the era of colonialism, used to be called "extraterritoriality" – the freedom not to be in any way subject to Iraqi law or jurisdiction, ever. And so the occupation ended without ever actually ending. With 160,000 troops still in Iraq, not to speak of an unknown number of hired guns and private security contractors, the U.S. continues to occupy the country, whatever the legalities might be (including a UN mandate and the claim that we are part of a "coalition"). The only catch is this: As of now, the U.S. is simply the most technologically sophisticated and potentially destructive of Iraq's proliferating militias – and outside the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, it is capable of controlling only the ground that its troops actually occupy at any moment.

4. Yes, the war was about oil: Oil was hardly mentioned in the mainstream media or by the administration before the invasion was launched. The president, when he spoke of Iraq's vast petroleum reserves at all, piously referred to them as the sacred "patrimony of the people of Iraq." But an administration of former energy execs – with a national security adviser who once sat on the board of Chevron and had a double-hulled oil tanker, the Condoleezza Rice, named after her (until she took office), and a vice president who was especially aware of the globe's potentially limited energy supplies – certainly had oil reserves and energy flows on the brain. They knew, in Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz's apt phrase, that Iraq was afloat on "a sea of oil" and that it sat strategically in the midst of the oil heartlands of the planet.
It wasn't a mistake that, in 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney's semi-secret Energy Task Force set itself the "task" of opening up the energy sectors of various Middle Eastern countries to "foreign investment"; or that it scrutinized "a detailed map of Iraq's oil fields, together with the (non-American) oil companies scheduled to develop them"; or that, according to the New Yorker's Jane Mayer, the National Security Council directed its staff "to cooperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it considered the 'melding' of two seemingly unrelated areas of policy: 'the review of operational policies towards rogue states,' such as Iraq, and 'actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields'"; or that the only American troops ordered to guard buildings in Iraq, after Baghdad fell, were sent to the Oil Ministry (and the Interior Ministry, which housed Saddam Hussein's dreaded secret police); or that the first "reconstruction" contract was issued to Cheney's former firm, Halliburton, for "emergency repairs" to those patrimonial oil fields. Once in charge in Baghdad, as sociologist Michael Schwartz has made clear, the administration immediately began guiding recalcitrant Iraqis toward denationalizing and opening up their oil industry, as well as bringing in the big boys.
Though rampant insecurity has kept the Western oil giants on the sidelines, the American-shaped "Iraqi" oil law quickly became a "benchmark" of "progress" in Washington and remains a constant source of prodding and advice from American officials in Baghdad. Former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan put the oil matter simply and straightforwardly in his memoir in 2007: "I am saddened," he wrote, "that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." In other words, in a variation on the old Bill Clinton campaign mantra: It's the oil, stupid. Greenspan was, unsurprisingly, roundly assaulted for the obvious naiveté of his statement, from which, when it proved inconvenient, he quickly retreated. But if this administration hadn't had oil on the brain in 2002-2003, given the importance of Iraq's reserves, Congress should have impeached the president and vice president for that.

5. No, our new embassy in Baghdad is not an "embassy": When, for more than three-quarters of a billion dollars, you construct a complex – regularly described as "Vatican-sized" – of at least 20 "blast-resistant" buildings on 104 acres of prime Baghdad real estate, with "fortified working space" and a staff of at least 1,000 (plus several thousand guards, cooks, and general factotums), when you deeply embunker it, equip it with its own electricity and water systems, its own anti-missile defense system, its own PX, and its own indoor and outdoor basketball courts, volleyball court, and indoor Olympic-size swimming pool, among other things, you haven't built an "embassy" at all. What you've constructed in the heart of the heart of another country is more than a citadel, even if it falls short of a city-state. It is, at a minimum, a monument to Bush administration dreams of domination in Iraq and in what its adherents once liked to call "the Greater Middle East."
Just about ready to open, after the normal construction mishaps in Iraq, it will constitute the living definition of diplomatic overkill. It will, according to a Senate estimate, now cost Americans $1.2 billion a year just to be "represented" in Iraq. The "embassy" is, in fact, the largest headquarters on the planet for the running of an occupation. Functionally, it is also another well-fortified enduring camp with the amenities of home. Tell that to the Shi'ite militiamen now mortaring the Green Zone as if it were… enemy-occupied territory.

6. No, the Iraqi government is not a government: The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has next to no presence in Iraq beyond the Green Zone; it delivers next to no services; it has next to no ability to spend its own oil money, reconstruct the country, or do much of anything else, and it most certainly does not hold a monopoly on the instruments of violence. It has no control over the provinces of northern Iraq which operate as a near-independent Kurdish state. Non-Kurdish Iraqi troops are not even allowed on its territory. Maliki's government cannot control the largely Sunni provinces of the country, where its officials are regularly termed "the Iranians" (a reference to the heavily Shi'ite government's closeness to neighboring Iran) and are considered the equivalent of representatives of a foreign occupying power; and it does not control the Shi'ite south, where power is fragmented among the militias of ISCI (the Badr Organization), Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, and the armed adherents of the Fadhila Party, a Sadrist offshoot, among others.
In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has been derisively nicknamed "the mayor of Kabul" for his government's lack of control over much territory outside the national capital. It would be a step forward for Maliki if he were nicknamed "the mayor of Baghdad." Right now, his troops, heavily backed by American forces, are fighting for some modest control over Shi'ite cities (or parts of cities) from Basra to Baghdad.

7. No, the surge is not over: Two weeks ago, amid much hoopla, Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker spent two days before Congress discussing the president's surge strategy in Iraq and whether it has been a "success." But that surge – the ground one in which an extra 30,000-plus American troops were siphoned into Baghdad and, to a lesser extent, adjoining provinces, was by then already so over. In fact, all but about 10,000 of those troops will be home by the end of July, not because the president has had any urge for a drawdown, but, as Fred Kaplan of wrote recently, "because of simple math. The five extra combat brigades, which were deployed to Iraq with the surge, each have 15-month tours of duty; the 15 months will be up in July… and the U.S. Army and Marines have no combat brigades ready to replace them."
On the other hand, in all those days of yak, neither the general with so much more "martial bling" on his chest than any victorious World War II commander, nor the white-haired ambassador uttered a word about the surge that is ongoing – the air surge that began in mid-2007 and has yet to end. Explain it as you will, but, with rare exceptions, American reporters in Iraq generally don't look up or more of them would have noticed that the extra air units surged into that country and the region in the last year are now being brought to bear over Iraq's cities. Today, as fighting goes on in Sadr City, American helicopters and Hellfire-missile armed Predator drones reportedly circle overhead almost constantly and air strikes of various kinds on city neighborhoods are on the rise. Yet the air surge in Iraq remains unacknowledged here and so is not a subject for discussion, debate, or consideration when it comes to our future in Iraq.

8. No, the Iraqi army will never "stand up": It can't. It's not a national army. It's not that Iraqis can't fight – or fight bravely. Ask the Sunni insurgents. Ask the Mahdi Army militia of Moqtada al-Sadr. It's not that Iraqis are incapable of functioning in a national army. In the bitter Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88, Iraqi Shi'ite as well as Sunni conscripts, led by a largely Sunni officer corps, fought Iranian troops fiercely in battle after pitched battle. But from Fallujah in 2004 to today, Iraqi army (and police) units, wheeled into battle (often at the behest of the Americans), have regularly broken and run, or abandoned their posts, or gone over to the other side, or, at the very least, fought poorly. In the recent offensive launched by the Maliki government in Basra, military and police units up against a single resistant militia, the Mahdi Army, deserted in sizable numbers, while other units, when not backed by the Americans, gave poor showings. At least 1,300 troops and police (including 37 senior police officers) were recently "fired" by Maliki for dereliction of duty, while two top commanders were removed as well.
Though American training began in 2004 and, by 2005, the president was regularly talking about us "standing down" as soon as the Iraqi army "stood up," as Charles Hanley of the Associated Press points out, "Year by year, the goal of deploying a capable, freestanding Iraqi army has seemed to always slip further into the future." He adds, "In the latest shift, the Pentagon's new quarterly status report quietly drops any prediction of when local units will take over security responsibility for Iraq. Last year's reports had forecast a transition in 2008." According to Hanley, the chief American trainer of Iraqi forces, Lt. Gen. James Dubik, now estimates that the military will not be able to guard the country's borders effectively until 2018.
No wonder. The "Iraqi military" is not in any real sense a national military at all. Its troops generally lack heavy weaponry, and it has neither a real air force nor a real navy. Its command structures are integrated into the command structure of the U.S. military, while the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy are the real Iraqi air force and navy. It is reliant on the U.S. military for much of its logistics and resupply, even after an investment of $22 billion by the American taxpayer. It represents a non-government, is riddled with recruits from Shi'ite militias (especially the Badr brigades), and is riven about who its enemy is (or enemies are) and why. It cannot be a "national" army because it has, in essence, nothing to stand up for.
You can count on one thing, as long as we are "training" and "advising" the Iraqi military, however many years down the line, you will read comments like this one from an American platoon sergeant, after an Iraqi front-line unit abandoned its positions in the ongoing battle for control of parts of Sadr City: "It bugs the hell out of me. We don't see any progress being made at all. We hear these guys in firefights. We know if we are not up there helping these guys out we are making very little progress."

9. No, the U.S. military does not stand between Iraq and fragmentation: The U.S. invasion and the Bush administration's initial occupation policies decisively smashed Iraq's fragile "national" sense of self. Since then, the Bush administration, a motor for chaos and fragmentation, has destroyed the national (if dictatorial) government, allowed the capital and much of the country (as well as its true patrimony of ancient historical objects and sites) to be looted, disbanded the Iraqi military, and deconstructed the national economy. Ever since, whatever the administration rhetoric, the U.S. has only presided over the further fragmentation of the country. Its military, in fact, employs a specific policy of urban fragmentation in which it regularly builds enormous concrete walls around neighborhoods, supposedly for "security" and "reconstruction," that actually cut them off from their social and economic surroundings. And, of course, Iraq has in these years been fragmented in other staggering ways with an estimated four-plus million Iraqis driven into exile abroad or turned into internal refugees.
According to Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times, there are now at least 28 different militias in the country. The longer the U.S. remains even somewhat in control, the greater the possibility of further fragmentation. Initially, the fragmentation was sectarian – into Kurdish, Sunni, and Shia regions, but each of those regions has its own potentially hostile parts and so its points of future conflict and further fragmentation. If the U.S. military spent the early years of its occupation fighting a Sunni insurgency in the name of a largely Shi'ite (and Kurdish) government, it is now fighting a Shi'ite militia, while paying and arming former Sunni insurgents, relabeled "Sons of Iraq." Iran is also clearly sending arms into a country that is, in any case, awash in weaponry. Without a real national government, Iraq has descended into a welter of militia-controlled neighborhoods, city states, and provincial or regional semi-governments. Despite all the talk of American-supported "reconciliation," Juan Cole described the present situation well at his Informed Comment blog: "Maybe the U.S. in Iraq is not the little boy with his finger in the dike. Maybe we are workers with jackhammers instructed to make the hole in the dike much more huge."

10. No, the U.S. military does not stand between Iraq and civil war: As with fragmentation, the U.S. military's presence has, in fact, been a motor for civil war in that country. The invasion and subsequent chaos, as well as punitive acts against the Sunni minority, allowed Sunni extremists, some of whom took the name "al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia," to establish themselves as a force in the country for the first time. Later, U.S. military operations in both Sunni and Shi'ite areas regularly repressed local militias – almost the only forces capable of bringing some semblance of security to urban neighborhoods – opening the way for the most extreme members of the other community (Sunni suicide or car bombers and Shi'ite death squads) to attack. It's worth remembering that it was in the surge months of 2007, when all those extra American troops hit Baghdad neighborhoods, that many of the city's mixed or Sunni neighborhoods were most definitively "cleansed" by death squads, producing a 75-80 percent Shi'ite capital. Iraq is now embroiled in what Juan Cole has termed "three civil wars," two of which (in the south and the north) are largely beyond the reach of limited American ground forces and all of which could become far worse. The still low-level struggle between Kurds and Arabs (with the Turks hovering nearby) for the oil-rich city of Kirkuk in the north may be the true explosion point to come. The U.S. military sits precariously atop this mess, at best putting off to the future aspects of the present civil-war landscape, but more likely intensifying it.

11. No, al-Qaeda will not control Iraq if we leave (and neither will Iran): The latest figures tell the story. Of 658 suicide bombings globally in 2007 (more than double those of any year in the last quarter century), 542, according to the Washington Post's Robin Wright, took place in occupied Iraq or Afghanistan, mainly Iraq. In other words, the American occupation of that land has been a motor for acts of terrorism (as occupations will be). There was no al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia before the invasion and Iraq was no Afghanistan. The occupation under whatever name will continue to create "terrorists," no matter how many times the administration claims that "al-Qaeda" is on the run. With the departure of U.S. troops, it's clear that homegrown Sunni extremists (and the small number of foreign jihadists who work with them), already a minority of a minority, will more than meet their match in facing the Sunni mainstream. The Sunni Awakening Movement came into existence, in part, to deal with such self-destructive extremism (and its fantasies of a Taliban-style society) before the Americans even noticed that it was happening. When the Americans leave, "al-Qaeda" (and whatever other groups the Bush administration subsumes under that catchall title) will undoubtedly lose much of their raison d'ĂȘtre or simply be crushed.
As for Iran, the moment the Bush administration finally agreed to a popular democratic vote in occupied Iraq, it ensured one thing – that the Shi'ite majority would take control, which in practice meant religio-political parties that, throughout the Saddam Hussein years, had generally been close to, or in exile in, Iran. Everything the Bush administration has done since has only ensured the growth of Iranian influence among Shi'ite groups. This is surely meant by the Iranians as, in part, a threat/trump card, should the Bush administration launch an attack on that country. After all, crucial U.S. resupply lines from Kuwait run through areas near Iran and would assumedly be relatively easy to disrupt.
Without the U.S. military in Iraq, there can be no question that the Iranians would have real influence over the Shi'ite (and probably Kurdish) parts of the country. But that influence would have its distinct limits. If Iran overplayed its hand even in a rump Shi'ite Iraq, it would soon enough find itself facing some version of the situation that now confronts the Americans. As Robert Dreyfuss wrote in the Nation recently, "[D]espite Iran's enormous influence in Iraq, most Iraqis – even most Iraqi Shi'ites – are not pro-Iran. On the contrary, underneath the ruling alliance in Baghdad, there is a fierce undercurrent of Arab nationalism in Iraq that opposes both the U.S. occupation and Iran's support for religious parties in Iraq." The al-Qaedan and Iranian "threats" are, at one and the same time, bogeymen, used by the Bush administration to scare Americans who might favor withdrawal and, paradoxically, realities that a continued military presence only encourages.

12. Yes, some Americans were right about Iraq from the beginning (and not the pundits, either): One of the strangest aspects of the recent fifth anniversary (as of every other anniversary) of the invasion of Iraq was the newspaper print space reserved for those Bush administration officials and other war supporters who were dead wrong in 2002-2003 on an endless host of Iraq-related topics. Many of them were given ample opportunity to offer their views on past failures, the "success" of the surge, future withdrawals or drawdowns, and the responsibilities of a future U.S. president in Iraq.
Noticeably missing were representatives of the group of Americans who happened to have been right from the get-go. In our country, of course, it often doesn't pay to be right. (It's seen as a sign of weakness or plain dumb luck.) I'm speaking, in this case, of the millions of people who poured into the streets to demonstrate against the coming invasion with an efflorescence of placards that said things too simpleminded (as endless pundits assured American news readers at the time) to take seriously – like "No Blood for Oil," "Don't Trade Lives for Oil," or ""How did USA's oil get under Iraq's sand?" At the time, it seemed clear to most reporters, commentators, and op-ed writers that these sign-carriers represented a crew of well-meaning know-nothings and the fact that their collective fears proved all too prescient still can't save them from that conclusion. So, in their very rightness, they were largely forgotten.
Now, as has been true for some time, a majority of Americans, another obvious bunch of know-nothings, are deluded enough to favor bringing all U.S. troops out of Iraq at a reasonable pace and relatively soon. (More than 60 percent of them also believe "that the conflict is not integral to the success of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.") If, on the other hand, a poll were taken of pundits and the inside-the-Beltway intelligentsia (not to speak of the officials of the Bush administration), the number of them who would want a total withdrawal from Iraq (or even see that as a reasonable goal) would undoubtedly descend near the vanishing point. When it comes to American imperial interests, most of them know better, just as so many of them did before the war began. Even advisers to candidates who theoretically want out of Iraq are hinting that a full-scale withdrawal is hardly the proper way to go.

So let me ask you a question (and you answer it): Given all of the above, given the record thus far, who is likely to be right?


JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — About 1,000 Camp Lejeune, N.C.-based Marines and sailors are deploying to Iraq this week.

Staff reportPosted : Monday Apr 21, 2008 16:14:26 EDT

Members of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines began leaving Monday, according to a 2nd Marine Division spokesman. The Marines and sailors are deploying to western Anbar province, where they will remain for about seven months.


Iraqi leader calls for Arab support as militia threats grow

Iraqi leader calls on Arab states for support as al-Sadr followers brace for more clashes

Apr 21, 2008 19:37 EST

Iraq's prime minister appealed Monday for support from his Arab neighbors, urging them to open embassies and forgive Iraqi debts as his government tries to crack down on Shiite militias in a crucial power struggle.

The appeal came as leaders of the biggest militia — the Mahdi Army of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr — warned more violence could await, even as they criticized the government for allegedly showing little interest in negotiating with them.

With tension rising, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki flew to Kuwait for a meeting Tuesday of Iraq's neighbors to discuss ways they can help Iraq's Shiite-led government as it confronts both Shiite militias and Sunni extremists including al-Qaida in Iraq.

Al-Maliki said he will be looking for tangible support, including relief from Iraq's $67 billion foreign debt — most of it owed to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

"There are countries that support the political process and are opening embassies here. We need the others to open embassies here, too," al-Maliki told reporters.

The direct appeal to Arab heavyweights highlights the regional dilemma posed by Iraq.
Sunni Arabs have a strong stake in keeping Iraq — which is majority Shiite — firmly in the Arab orbit as a buffer against expanding influence by Iran, the largest Shiite nation. But Arab neighbors are still leery of al-Maliki's government and the deep Iranian ties of its main backers.
Al-Maliki is hoping that the ongoing crackdown against Shiite militants — principally al-Sadr's fighters — will allay their fears of Iranian leanings and a bias against his own Sunni population — which long held a privileged position under Saddam Hussein.

But he also pointed the finger at "some nations" he claimed were supporting extremist groups and "inciting strife through the media" — an apparent reference to Arab satellite TV stations based in the Gulf which the leadership here considers hostile to the government.
"I am a bewildered by the position of these nations," al-Maliki added, without specifically naming a country. "Do they want to support Iraq? Iraq has emerged from a crisis and needs to be supported."

U.S. officials have accused Iran — which will attend the Kuwait conference — of supporting Shiite extremists in Iraq, an allegation the Iranians deny.

The United States, too, has pressed Arab governments to respond to security improvements and political advances in Iraq with financial and political support. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, who visited Baghdad on Sunday, is scheduled to be at the Kuwait meeting to lend support to Iraq.

Last weekend, al-Sadr, who is believed to be in Iran, threatened in a Web site statement to declare full-scale war on the U.S.-backed government if attacks on his followers continue.
In Najaf, a top Sadrist spokesman, Salah al-Obeidi, warned tha


Latest Coalition Fatalities (click on shaded part for additional informaton)

04/21/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Benjamin K. Brosh, 22, of Colorado Springs, Colo., died April 18 at Forward Operating Base Anaconda in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered in Paliwoda, Iraq, when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device...

04/21/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Lance O. Eakes, 25, of Apex, N.C., died April 18 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1132nd Military Police Company, North Carolina Army National Guard...

04/21/08 MNF: MND-N Soldiers attacked by IED - 2 killed, 2 wounded
Two Multi-National Division – North Soldiers were killed when an improvised explosive device detonated during operations in the Salah ad Din Province April 21. Two Soldiers were also wounded in the attack, as well as two Sons of Iraq members...

U.S. Confirmed Deaths Reported Deaths:

4041 Confirmed Deaths:
4039 Pending Confirmation:
2 DoD Confirmation List


Monday, April 21, 2008

Casualty Reports:Jose Pequeno, a sergeant in the National Guard was left with severe head injuries after a roadside bomb tore through his Humvee while on patrol near Ramadi in March 2006. He has been receiving treatment at the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., ever since.

Justin Kuehnle, 21, was injured when he hit a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq.

War News for Monday, April 01, 2008

The following list of violence took place in just one day, Monday, in Baghdad and other provinces throughout Iraq and Afghanistan.

Baghdad:#1: Six people died in clashes in Baghdad's embattled Sadr City on Monday. A police commander said the dead in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City included three policemen and three civilians. Four other civilians were injured in the violence, according to the officer who asked not to be named since he was not authorized to release the information.The two hospitals in Sadr City said on Monday they had received 14 dead and 55 wounded since Sunday morning.

#2: US warplanes bombed the east Baghdad district of Sadr City overnight, where Shiite militiamen are battling security forces, residents said on Monday, as the American military reported another five people killed in the embattled township.

#3: About two hours later, according to witnesses, helicopters fired missiles at four targets in Sadr City, where hundreds of people have died since Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered a crackdown on militias across Iraq in late March

.#4: It said another gunman was killed and two wounded when they attacked a military observation post in Sadr City and US troops returned fire.

#5: Militants fired a rocket on Sunday that landed in the Kadhimiya area of northern Baghdad, killing one civilian and wounding eight, the U.S. military said.

#6: Also in Kadhimiya, an improvised explosive device detonated in front of a U.S. patrol, killing one civilian and wounding three, the U.S. military said.#7-9: Three council members, including a woman, were seriously wounded in different incidents when bombs were attached to their cars in different areas of Baghdad, police said.

#7: Around 8 am, three IEDs planted in three cars targeted employees of the Cabinet office. The first one was in Dora and the employee was driving his own car the BMW when it exploded and he was injured in that incident.

#8: The second one targeted another employee who was injured as he was driving his Hyundai car with another passenger who was sitting by him.

#9: The third one targeted a female employee’s car at Alawi neighborhood. She was injured in that incident.

#10: Three policemen were killed and four civilians wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their patrol on Sunday in the New Baghdad district, police said.

#11: Around 10 am, two roadside bombs targeted two cars near the red crescent in Mansour neighborhood .No casualties reported.

#12: Around 11 am, random clashes took place at Rubayee street of Zayuna (east Baghdad). Six people were killed including a woman in that incident.

#13: Around 3:20 pm, mortars hit the green zone (IZ) in central Baghdad.No casualties reported.

#14: Around 4 pm, a roadside bomb targeted a KIA mini bus near the oil marketing headquarter at Zayuna neighborhood (east Baghdad). One person was killed and five others were injured in that incident.

#15: Around 4 pm, a mortar shell hit Mashtal neighborhood (east Baghdad). Two people were injured in that incident.

#16: Around 4 pm, clashes took place at Mashtal neighborhood (east Baghdad) between the Iraqi army and the Mahdi army . Five people were injured in that clashes.

#17: Around 6 and 6:30 pm, two Katyusha missiles hit the Supreme council headquarters .No casualties reported.

#18: Around 6:10 pm, a Katyusha missile hit the Salhiyah compound (central Baghdad).No casualties recorded ,but some cars were damaged in that incident.

#19: Police found 4 dead bodies in Baghdad today: (3) were found in east Baghdad (Risafa bank); 1 was in Zayuna , 1 was in Husseiniyah and 1 was in Mashtal. While(1) was found in Dora.

Diyala Prv:Baquba:#1: A woman suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt blew herself up Monday at a checkpoint manned by tribal police in Baquba, north-east of Baghdad, killing three of them, police said. Seven tribal policemen from Awakening Council were also injured in the attack in Mafraq area west of Baquba, 60 kilometres north-east of Baghdad, police said.#2: A suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest near a joint checkpoint of Iraqi and U.S. forces in the district of Kanaan, Baaquba, during the early hours of Monday but left no casualties, a security source said.

Basra:#1: A bomb hit a British army patrol Monday in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, damaging a military vehicle, eyewitnesses said. The bomb went off as the British patrol was passing at a crossroad between Basra airport and Qaziz, north of Basra, 550 kilometres south of Iraq, the witnesses said.The U.S. military says a roadside bomb hit one of its convoys in the southern city of Basra, causing casualties. The military has given no further details. AP Television News footage from Basra showed smoke rising from a vehicle burning on a highway overpass. U.S. troops and Humvees blocked access to the scene.Southern Iraq:#1: The Iraqi Defence Ministry said Iraqi forces killed 30 militants in southern Iraq over the past 24 hours.

Sulaiman Pek:#1: Gunmen killed a police captain near his house on Sunday in the town of Sulaiman Pek, 160 km (100 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

Kirkuk:#1: A policeman was killed and four wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their patrol in Kirkuk, police said.A Kurdish official and four of his escorts were wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off near their vehicle in central Kirkuk on Monday, an official police source said. "An IED targeted the vehicle of Jabbar al-Hadj Jalal, the official in charge of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) relations department, when he was heading to his work in Sahat al-Tayaran area in central Kirkuk, wounding him and four of his escorts," the source, who refused to be named, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.

Mosul:#1: Unidentified gunmen shot and killed a civilian in al-Islah al-Zeraei region in western Mosul,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI) on condition of anonymity.

#2: Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Ninewa operations, Brigadier Khaled Abdul Sattar, told VOI that an improvised explosive device went off targeting a police vehicle patrol in al-Jameaa neighborhood in northern Mosul, wounding two policemen.

#3: Policemen found a driver’s body after hours of being kidnapped,” the brigadier added.“The forces found the body of a driver from Ninewa’s water department in al-Haramat region in western Mosul,” he explained.“Gunmen kidnapped him in 17 Tamouz region in western Mosul this morning and took him to unknown place,” Abdul Sattar highlighted.

Afghanistan:#1: Clashes and airstrikes in southern Afghanistan killed 11 Taliban militants, the country's Defense Ministry said Monday. Afghan and foreign troops clashed with Taliban fighters and called in airstrikes Sunday in Garmser district of Helmand province, leaving seven militants dead, the ministry said.#2: Four other militants were killed Sunday after they ambushed an Afghan army patrol in Kandahar province, the ministry said in a statement.#3: Separately, a roadside bomb hit an Afghan army patrol in Zabul province, wounding five soldiers, the ministry said.#4: A roadside blast hit a U.S. military vehicle in southern Afghanistan on Monday, causing minor injuries, the military said. The roadside bomb struck a vehicle in the southern Kandahar province, said Lt. Col. Paul Fanning, a U.S. military spokesman. There were no deaths, but a "couple of soldiers" were lightly wounded, he said.


Where are all those retired Generals who are making big bucks off the war as lobbyists and sitting on the Board of defense contractors who will go on TV as "military experts" to claim that "collateral damage" is just part of warfare?

US jets have dropped tons of bombs on civilian neighborhoods in Sadr City in another example of strategic or pinpoint bombing. The accuracy of the guided bombing is mind-boggling. Apparently if the US planes hit one military target out of ten it is considered a good bombing run.

US jets drop bombs on Sadr City Mon, 21 Apr 2008 13:42:45

US warplanes have dropped bombs on east Baghdad district of Sadr City where hundreds of civilians have already been killed in air strikes. Residents said low flying jets dropped bombs in sectors 22 and 24 of Sadr City, around midnight (2100 GMT Sunday).

About two hours later, according to witnesses, helicopters fired missiles at four targets in Sadr City. The populated slum area has frequently been pounded by US aircraft or artillery.

Many civilians have been killed and wounded as a result of the attacks.


Iran army sophisticated, undefeatable

Mon, 21 Apr 2008 12:54:16

Iran's Army Commander, Major-General Ataollah SalehiThe Iranian army commander says the country is equipped with highly sophisticated military equipment that has not yet been unveiled.

“Today, the Iranian army is equipped with highly sophisticated military equipment, which it does not deem necessary to display before the eyes of insiders or outsiders,” said Major-General Ataollah Salehi in Tehran on Monday. Salehi added that the airborne radar that was showcased during Thursday's aerial parade was only one item in Iran's newly developed military technology.

The commander also said that the Iranian army is capable of producing and maintaining advanced weapons, as it has acquired the necessary technology. He then went on to compare Iran in terms of military competence with countries that purchase their weapons from Western states, saying, “Although some countries that have grown strong thanks to US support possess advanced weaponry, I can assure you that their foreign-supplied weaponry will be of no use to them if one day they make the decision to stand on their own feet, because they will not have access to the technology.” “This is why the Iranian armed forces are undefeatable,” he added.


No weapon is more important to tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan than the carbine rifle. And for well over a decade, the military has relied on one company, Colt Defense of Hartford, Conn., to make the M4s they trust with their lives.

Colt's grip on military rifle criticized
AP EXCLUSIVE: Colt's grip on military rifle market called a bad deal for troops, taxpayers
Apr 20, 2008 15:22 EST

Now, as Congress considers spending millions more on the guns, this exclusive arrangement is being criticized as a bad deal for American forces as well as taxpayers, according to interviews and research conducted by The Associated Press.

"What we have is a fat contractor in Colt who's gotten very rich off our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," says Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

The M4, which can fire at a rate of 700 to 950 bullets a minute, is a shorter and lighter version of the company's M16 rifle first used 40 years ago during the Vietnam War. It normally carries a 30-round magazine. At about $1,500 apiece, the M4 is overpriced, according to Coburn. It jams too often in sandy environments like Iraq, he adds, and requires far more maintenance than more durable carbines.

"And if you tend to have the problem at the wrong time, you're putting your life on the line," says Coburn, who began examining the M4's performance last year after receiving complaints from soldiers. "The fact is, the American GI today doesn't have the best weapon. And they ought to."
U.S. military officials don't agree. They call the M4 an excellent carbine. When the time comes to replace the M4, they want a combat rifle that is leaps and bounds beyond what's currently available.
"There's not a weapon out there that's significantly better than the M4," says Col. Robert Radcliffe, director of combat developments at the Army Infantry Center in Fort Benning, Ga. "To replace it with something that has essentially the same capabilities as we have today doesn't make good sense."
Colt's exclusive production agreement ends in June 2009. At that point, the Army, in its role as the military's principal buyer of firearms, may have other gunmakers compete along with Colt for continued M4 production. Or, it might begin looking for a totally new weapon.
"We haven't made up our mind yet," Radcliffe says.


Is Condoleeza Rice bucking to get canned by President Bush, or is she just carrying Bush's water like she always does?

During her recent visit to Baghdad, Rice mocked the rebel cleric Muqtada al Sadr and her comments could eventually cost a lot of American lives.

Condoleezza Rice mocks Sadr as a coward.»

“Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice mocked anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as a coward on Sunday, hours after the radical leader threatened to declare war unless U.S. and Iraqi forces end a military crackdown on his followers.” Spencer Ackerman remarks, “So Sadr is a coward for making threats from Iran… and Condoleezza Rice is a stateswoman for blustering Sadr into making a move that carries the potential of killing American soldiers.”

And VetVoice’s Brandon Friedman comments that this echoes Bush’s “Bring ‘em on” declaration.