Saturday, September 13, 2008


If fewer US troops and Iraqis are being killed, it is only because the Shia community and Iran now dominate

By Patrick CockburnSunday, 14 September 2008

As he leaves Iraq this week, the outgoing US commander, General David Petraeus, is sounding far less optimistic than the Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, about the American situation in Iraq. General Petraeus says that it remains "fragile", recent security gains are "not irreversible" and "this is not the sort of struggle where you take a hill, plant the flag and go home to a victory parade... it's not a war with a simple slogan."

Compare this with Sarah Palin's belief that "victory in Iraq is wholly in sight" and her criticism of Barack Obama for not using the word "victory". The Republican contenders have made these claims of success for the "surge" – the American reinforcements sent last year – although they are demonstrably contradicted by the fact that the US has to keep more troops, some 138,000, in Iraq today than beforehand. Another barometer of the true state of security in Iraq is the inability of the 4.7 million refugees, one in six of the population, who fled for their lives inside and outside Iraq, to return to their homes.

Ongoing violence is down, but Iraq is still the most dangerous country in the world. On Friday a car bomb exploded in the Shia market town of Dujail, north of Baghdad, killing 32 people and wounding 43 others. "The smoke filled my house and the shrapnel broke some of the windows," said Hussein al-Dujaili. "I went outside the house and saw two dead bodies at the gate which had been thrown there by the explosion. Some people were in panic and others were crying."

Playing down such killings, the Iraqi government and the US have launched a largely successful propaganda campaign to convince the world that "things are better" in Iraq and that life is returning to normal. One Iraqi journalist recorded his fury at watching newspapers around the world pick up a story that the world's largest Ferris wheel was to be built in Baghdad, a city where there is usually only two hours of electricity a day.

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This article comes from Brandon Friedman, an Iraq War veteran who writes for Veterans Voice expresses what many of us who are veterans feel about Sarah Palin.

I Can't Deal with Sarah Palin's Ignorance

by: Brandon Friedman

Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 16:21:05 PM EDT

I've pretty much been stunned into silence the last couple of days with regard to Sarah Palin. I've had several people ask me to weigh in from a military perspective on her confounding lack of foreign policy knowledge, but thus far, I've literally been at a loss for words.

There's just too much material.

I wanted to blast her saber rattling over Russia--as Ilan Goldenberg did so eloquently. But when I started writing, I found that the only way to really combat such an insane suggestion would be to break out dry, straightforward facts and figures on why such talk could prove disastrous.

Saying that Sarah Palin could potentially start a nuclear war just seemed too clich├ęd.

I wanted to skewer her for
equating 9/11 with the Iraq War--as she did yesterday while speaking to troops in Alaska. But I figured that wouldn't resonate, because--after six years--we're all so desensitized to hearing the same accusations about the Bush administration. Plus, as of last year, 41 percent of Americans believed it anyway.

I was amazed that a Vice Presidential candidate like Palin could have no idea what the Bush Doctrine was--even though it's why we went to Iraq in the first place. But I mentally deflated when I thought about the fact that most Americans probably don't know what it is, either.

To Joe or Jane America, her answer probably sounded fine.

So I'm left sputtering--like much of America, horrified by the prospect that this national nightmare of ignorance could continue for another four years unabated.

Brandon Friedman :: I Can't Deal with Sarah Palin's Ignorance


This video is an example of how the mainstream media should be asking questions of John McCain instead of the disgusting way the mainstream press is letting Sen. John McCain off the hook.



An alarming number of women soldiers are being sexually abused by their comrades-in-arms, both at war and at home. This fact has received a fair amount of attention lately from researchers and the press -- and deservedly so.

But the attention always focuses on the women: where they were when assaulted, their relations with the assailant, the effects on their mental health and careers, whether they are being adequately helped, and so on.

That discussion, as valuable as it is, misses a fundamental point. To understand military sexual assault, let alone know how to stop it, we must focus on the perpetrators. We need to ask:

Why do soldiers rape?

By Helen Benedict, In These TimesPosted on September 13, 2008, Printed on September 13, 2008

Editor's note: This article is adapted from "The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq," to be published by Beacon Press in April 2009.

Rape in civilian life is already unacceptably common. One in six women is raped or sexually assaulted in her lifetime, according to the National Institute of Justice, a number so high it should be considered an epidemic.

In the military, however, the situation is even worse. Rape is almost twice as frequent as it is among civilians, especially in wartime. Soldiers are taught to regard one another as family, so military rape resembles incest. And most of the soldiers who rape are older and of higher rank than their victims, so are taking advantage of their authority to attack the very people they are supposed to protect.

Department of Defense reports show that nearly 90 percent of rape victims in the Army are junior-ranking women, whose average age is 21, while most of the assailants are non-commissioned officers or junior men, whose average age is 28.

This sexual violence persists in spite of strict laws against rape in the military and a concerted Pentagon effort in 2005 to reform procedures for reporting the crime. Unfortunately, neither the press nor the many teams of psychologists and sociologists who study veterans ever seem to ask why.

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Kurds Extend Role Beyond Autonomous Borders, Angering Arabs

By Amit R. PaleyWashington Post Foreign ServiceSaturday, September 13, 2008; A01

JALAWLA, Iraq -- Kurdish leaders have expanded their authority over a roughly 300-mile-long swath of territory beyond the borders of their autonomous region in northern Iraq, stationing thousands of soldiers in ethnically mixed areas in what Iraqi Arabs see as an encroachment on their homelands.

The assertion of greater Kurdish control, which has taken hold gradually since the war began and caused tens of thousands of Arabs to flee their homes, is viewed by Iraqi Arab and U.S. officials as a provocative and potentially destabilizing action.

"Quickly moving into those areas to try and change the population and flying KRG flags in areas that are specifically not under the KRG control right now -- that is counterproductive and increases tensions," said Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq, referring to the Kurdistan Regional Government, which administers the autonomous region.

The long-cherished dream of many of the world's 25 million ethnic Kurds is an independent state that encompasses parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. All but Iraq adamantly oppose Kurdish autonomy, much less a Kurdish state. Iraqi Kurds continue to insist they are not seeking independence, even as they unilaterally expand the territory they control in Iraq.