Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Category

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Not Just Another Blackwater Thread

December 7, 2008

Tomorrow, those Blackwater security guards are supposed to surrender to authorities in Utah:

WASHINGTON – Five Blackwater Worldwide security guards indicted in Washington for the 2007 shooting of Iraqi civilians plan to surrender to the federal authorities Monday in Utah, people close to the case said, setting up a court fight over the trial site.

The case already is shaping up to be a series of contentious legal battles before the guards can even go to trial. By surrendering in Utah, the home state of one of the guards, the men could argue the case should be heard in a far more conservative, pro-gun venue than Washington, some 2,000 miles away.

The five guards, all military veterans, were indicted on manslaughter charges Thursday for their roles in a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. A sixth guard reached a plea deal with prosecutors to avoid a mandatory 30-year prison sentence.

Now, I say “just another thread”, because I did have a thread about the incident after it happened last year.  mercsribbon2And in the spirit of the other post,  I’m not sure if I want this one to focus on the incident itself or the legal situation that these five guys find themselves in.  Instead, I think I’m going to use the story as an excuse to revisit the topic that kinda flew under the radar the last time, especially now that we’re a over a year post-surge in Iraq and people are now declaring our victory and everything.  So…

Just how big of an impact have the contractors like Blackwater had on what’s transpired?  Or, asked another way, how large of a component of the “surge” have they been, and how critical to the mission’s success?

It’s a topic that doesn’t get mentioned much, so I’m mentioning it.  The effort has been more privatized than any other in our history, so I think it’s worth examining.  And while the V-I Day proponents claim to honor the sacrifice of American, Iraqi, and other coalition forces, they’re ignoring the tens of thousands of hired guns who were handsomely compensated by the American taxpayer.  How come?  After all, contractors (armed and otherwise) have suffered over 1,000 dead and 10,000 wounded, a rate of approximately one for every four of the U.S. Armed Forces.

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Official Chamber “Generation Kill” Thread

July 27, 2008

You know, I was going to cancel my HBO subscription (and save myself $12 a month) because all the good Sunday shows appear to have disappeared, but I thought I’d hang on to it a little longer to give this one a chance.


Click image for HBO’s official site

I’ve watched the first 2 episodes now, and I gotta say that so far it’s pretty entertaining.  Here’s the extended trailer:

The series is based on the book written by embedded Rolling Stone reporter Evan Wright.

My favorite character so far would probably be Lt. Nate Fick (video profile), an honor he earned in episode 1 when CPL Ray Person asked him about a silly rumor of Jennifer Lopez’s demise.  Fick looked at him and appeared to look as if he was about to bust out laughing, but quickly composed himself and cooly responded:

“Ray, the battalion commander offered no sit-rep as to J-Lo’s status”

Anyway, I just thought I’d create a thread to discuss the show, since I plan on watching all of the episodes now.  I’ll add no more updates here in the main thread (spoiler concerns), so I’ll open it to the comment section.

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Iraq Not To Go To Beijing

July 24, 2008

With all the talk lately about how dramatic the success of the “surge” has been in reducing violence and moving the Iraqis towards meeting those 18 benchmarks, I found it a little surprising and disconcerting to see this headline appear on Drudge: Iraq banned from Beijing Olympics

The reason?

The team was already the subject of an interim ban after the Iraqi government replaced the country’s Olympic committee with its own appointees.

Under the IOC charter, all committees must be free of political influence.

Iraq had been planning to send a team of at least seven athletes to the Olympics which start on 8 August.

Two rowers, a weightlifter, a sprinter, a discus thrower, a judoka and an archer were in the frame for the trip to Beijing.

“The deadline for taking up places for Beijing for all sports except athletics has now passed,” said IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies.

“The IOC very sadly has now to acknowledge that it is likely there will be no Iraqi presence at the Beijing Olympic Games, despite our best efforts.”

In other words, the Iraqis couldn’t manage to scrape together a viable NOC (perhaps having something to do with the fact that their previous president had been kidnapped and remains missing), even though they had athletes trained and ready to compete. I know its just the Olympics and all, but that isn’t exactly a great sign of progress.  In fact, since the Iraqi soccer team finished a surprising 4th in the 2004 Athens Games, this development could be symbolic of a step backwards.  After all, along with 200+ others, even the tiny nation of Tuvalu managed to complete this simple task, giving her 12,000 citizens someone to root for come 08/08.

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Update: Yay! 2 Iraqi Athletes Set for Beijing After IOC Lifts Ban

BAGHDAD, July 29 — Two Iraqi athletes will be allowed to participate in the Beijing Olympics after a last-minute pledge by the Iraqi government Tuesday not to interfere politically in the country’s Olympic movement.

Five members still didn’t make it in (missed the registration deadline), but I suppose 2 is better than none.   Hopefully the deal is on the up-and-up, or I may have to admit that good ol’ Tex has a point.  (h/t Gateway Pundit, via Memeorandum)

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Well, Shucks, The Iraqis Want A Timetable

July 9, 2008

-First, the story: Iraq Wants Withdrawal Timetable In U.S. Pact

-Second, the obligatory memeorandum link to the discussion.

My initial thought when I saw this headline was… “duh!”.  I mean, anyone could have seen this coming from a mile away.  For years, poll after poll after poll indicated that the Iraqi people wanted this.  Heck, the Iraqi parliament voted in favor of a timetable over a year ago. 

My second thought basically revolved around wondering how the “timetable for surrender“, “cut and run” and “retreat and defeat” crowd will cope with this revelation.  Will we see the equivalent of “we know what’s best for you” type rhetoric?   After all, that’s basically how a stubborn insistence on rejecting an agreement to set dates will come across.  Kind of a tough spot there.  So if they don’t go down that road, will they take the lead from General Petraeus, and begin to use the term “disengagement” instead of “withdrawal”?  After all, the former sounds like the result of a well-thought-out and tactically sound cost/benefit analysis, and the latter sounds more like the “run for your lives!” stuff.  That might serve as a pressure relief valve for the cognitive dissonance.  Or will they spin it as consistent with their stance, and creatively conflate “they stand up, we stand down” with the news, sweeping the “timetable” part under the rug?  (Oops, asked and answered.)    And in light of this little nugget…

“There should not be any permanent bases in Iraq unless these bases are under Iraqi control”, Rubaie said

 

 

 …do you suppose their might be a revision to the idea that it is at all plausible that we’ll have a violence-free troop presence in Iraq for 100 years, just like Japan, Germany, and South Korea?

Or do they just sit there like a deer in the headlights?

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James Kirchick Didn’t Get the Memo, Apparently

June 16, 2008

I came across a post by fellow blogger Jimmie over at Sundrie’s Shack, in which he reported on an editorial in the LA Times penned by the assistant editor of New RepublicBush never lied to us about Iraq: The administration simply got bad intelligence. Critics are wrong to assert deception.

Now, as tempted as I was to dissect this over at Jimmie’s place (since it was the second time in a week that an editorial rebutting the “Bush Lied” meme was featured over there), I figured that it’d be better for me to address this over here in the Chamber, and give my pal Jimmie a couple of pingbacks instead.  That, and I do feel frustrated that when the topic comes up, the focus is always on claims about WMD intelligence and connections to al Qaeda.  And as much as I’m convinced that the administration attempted to hyperventilate the American public with ad nauseam presentations of worst-case scenarios as iron-clad fact, this misses what I feel is the actual, bigger “lie”, so if I haven’t covered this already (I have), I’m going to do it now…again

From what I remember, the “Bush Lied, People Died” really picked up steam after the publication of the famous Downing Street Memo, because the focus was primarily on the passage that read “But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy“. To be certain, that portion of the “memo” deserves a fair amount of attention, but what most people miss is the broader point, encapsulated by the sentence the preceded it, reading “Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD“.

The meeting took place in Britain on July 23, 2002, remember, and it’s fairly contradictory to what Bush himself said months later in October, when he signed the AUMF:

“Our goal is not merely to limit Iraq’s violations of Security Council resolutions, or to slow down its weapons program. Our goal is to fully and finally remove a real threat to world peace and to America. Hopefully this can be done peacefully. Hopefully we can do this without any military action. Yet, if Iraq is to avoid military action by the international community, it has the obligation to prove compliance with all the world’s demands. It’s the obligation of Iraq.”

There are plenty of reasons to believe that the Congress took him at his word here, and that the AUMF was meant as leverage to force Saddam to comply with U.N. disarmament resolutions, and not a green light for invasion.  Indeed, Congress wouldn’t have granted an AUMF under other conditions, and the administration knew this.  So, the idea was to play along, attempt to scare up public support, convince a few allies to come on board, and when they felt they had jumped through enough hoops (like sending in U.N. weapons inspectors), they went ahead and used it.  It’s really not that complicated.

Of course, there are war supporters out there who are quick to discredit the DSM (even though no one has challenged its authenticity), and I certainly wasn’t going to base my entire accusation on one document.  But lets face it, there is enough evidence out there (other documentsstatements from high-ranking officials, and other evidence) to corroborate the notion that Bush was more interested in invading than he was about finding out if the weapons inspectors were actually going to find anything.   But for some reason that just doesn’t sink in for everyone.  Heck, I’ve come across war supporters who concede that the nation was misled, but it was necessary and that the ends justify the means.  I just don’t get it;  it’s OK with them?  But make no mistake, misled we were…lied to, in fact.

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…And Now For A Little Vindication

June 4, 2008

Every once and awhile I catch something in my various RSS feeds that I find interesting, and today it was this link on my Think Progress ticker:  Iraqi Parliamentarian: 70 Percent Of Iraqis Want Withdrawal, Huge U.S. Embassy Not A ‘Positive Signal’

I guess it grabbed my attention because I was immediately reminded of something that I posted last year (October, specifically):

$750 million? For an embassy? In Baghdad? No wonder the Iraqis are resisting the occupation so passionately. It’s hard to believe that Saddam had anything that extravagantly large. I mean, what the hell would you think if you were an Iraqi looking at this:

iraqembassy1.jpg

I would think that it would send quite a message. It looks like we’re building our own acropolis in their capital.

I hate it when I’m right.

Err..um…I mean “correct”.

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Milestones In The Long Journey Back To The Line Of Scrimmage

May 24, 2008

Great news!  That rag-tag band of terrorists that didn’t exist until we invaded Iraq may have finally been defeated.  Of course, we’ve seen these “al Qaeda in Iraq is on the run” flashes before, but I’m still gonna give the h/t to Hot Air ’cause, well, maybe because I don’t remember ever posting about it. 

Anyway…

The battle against the people a little closer to those who actually attacked us is ongoing:  Taliban Attacks Spike in Afghanistan 

 

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