7 US Troops Killed
Bombing kills 13 in Baghdad, 40 Bodies Found
Massive Anti-War Protest on Mall in DC
It was announced Saturday that 7 US soldiers have been killed by guerrillas deploying roadside bombs in the past 3 days.
I cannot see any sign in this Reuters roundup of violence in Iraq on Saturday that guerrillas in Baghdad are lying low or relocating in expectation of the arrival of further US troops.
Police gathered the usual macabre harvest of 40 tortured bodies in the capital. Guerrillas cheekily fired rockets into the Green Zone, the US HQ in Iraq. They detonated car bombs in one neighborhood, killing 13 and wounding 43. Guerrillas dressed as special police commandos kidnapped 8 persons from a computer store downtown. In Diyala province, guerrillas attempting to elude US troops were bombed to death by the US from the air. In Ramadi, a member of the Iraqi National Congress, a secular party headed by Ahmad Chalabi, was kidnapped and killed.
In the US, tens of thousands of protesters gathered at the Mall in a major rally against the Iraq War.
That event was not the only reminder of the Vietnam era. Senator John Warner, a former secretary of the Navy, remembers with regret not having spoken out more forcefully during the Vietnam War, when the generals kept coming and saying they just needed another increas of 10,000 troops to win this thing.
Iraq much more than Vietnam can only be settled through political negotiation, as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki on Friday. It is unlikely that the extra troops the US has available could prevail in the sense of bringing order to the country or even just the capital (see the opening paragraph for what such order does not look like).
Tehran is trying to control the flow of thousands of Shiite pilgrims into Iraq for the commemoration on Tuesday of the martyrdom of al-Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Husayn’s tomb is at Karbala in Iraq, a holy site for Iran’s some 62 million Shiites. My advice to the US military is not to try to kill or capture these thousands of Iranian pilgrims even if some of them may be spies–whatever Bush says. Shiites are touchy during Muharram, especially about infidels killing or capturing them in their own holy land, where they don’t think the infidels have any business being in the first place.
The US is building an alliance with 50 tribal sheikhs in Ramadi. The US military reports good results in the sense that entire neighborhoods controlled by Sunni militants are now rare. But the radical Salafis clearly still have a presence in the city, and tribal sheikhs are notoriously factional and fickle. I’d say that is a check that may well bounce. The larger problem is that people in Ramadi just don’t want US troops there, and don’t want Shiite or Kurdish troops there, either. To the extent that the sheikhs are successful in authorizing and allowing the recruitment of local police, that might be a real achievement. On this one, I’m from Missouri (i.e., “show me!”).
The Bush administation upbraided Japanese Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma who called Bush’s war on Iraq on the basis of its possession of WMD a “mistake”. Isn’t that just common knowledge? Why protest such an obvious statement? The new Abe government is rapidly slipping in the polls at home, and is presumably more afraid of the Japanese public than it is of Bush, who owes the Japanese a lot of money. A big majority of Japanese in polls opposed the extension of the Japanese Self Defense Forces mission in Samawa, Iraq, which was therefore withdrawn. Bush has fewer friends abroad with every passing day. Aznar of Spain, Berlusconi of Italy, Koizumi in Japan– who used to run interference for him– are all gone.