10 Coalition Troops Killed
Dems set Withdrawal deadline
Iraqi crowds Reject Security Wall
It was with a heavy heart that I read that 10 Coalition troops were killed on Monday, 9 of them Americans. The guerrillas who attacked the US outpost also wounded 20 other soldiers, 5 of them seriously.
Militiamen in Basra killed a British soldier.
I’m sad about all this because we won’t have round the clock cable television coverage of them, or lower the flag to half mast for them. And although we do not yet know the names of those killed, we know who they are like.
They are like Christopher North of Sarasota, Fl., a hero who aspired to be an FBI agent and who as a teenaged boy loved fast cars and motorcycles.
They are like Wade Oglesby, a painfully shy teenager with a “British sense of humor,” an “incredibly nurturing” young man who dropped out of high school to care for his ailing mother and then his sister. When his mother died, he joined the army. His stepbrother said of him, “That kid would bend over backwards and go to the ends of the earth if you needed anything.”
They are like Michael Rojas, and Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams, of Santa Rosa, “who died on April 8. Williams was killed by a sniper’s bullet . . . Williams was 25 years old and on his second tour of duty. He leaves behind a wife, Sonya, and an 11-month-old daughter, Amaya. His wife said Amaya was the pride of his life.” Scroll down for the Williams family photos.
They are like Michael Slater, just out of high school in West Virginia, who had all along wanted to join the army to serve us. We are told, “Rachelle Atkins graduated with Slater and described him as energetic, funny and happy. In high school, they worked together at the Red Line Diner in St. Albans, where he was a busboy. “He was really fast,” Atkins said. “I never had to worry about tables needing cleaning because he was always on top of things.”
They were like Kristen Turton, whose mother said of him, “If either of us were ill, he would look after us. I would always get flowers on Mother’s Day and we would get lovely presents for birthdays and Christmas. “He was our life and our sunshine. Now he has gone, the sunshine has gone out of our lives.”
Saddam is gone. There was never any threat to the US or UK from Iraq, and there is not now one. What is the mission, for which these young people have given their lives this spring? What do we tell their children about why their daddy is no longer there for them? Is it just Karl Rove’s best guess about what will win the next election? Better business for Dick Cheney’s golf buddies among the Big Oil CEOs? George W. Bush’s cokehead emotional shallowness and inability to admit he ever made a mistake? What?
We ask our men and women in uniform to risk their lives, sometimes to sacrifice them, for the security of our nation. But the security of our nation is not in doubt. We ask defense attorneys to defend someone who might be guilty, and prosecuting attorneys to attempt to convict someone who might be innocent, since justice requires a fair trial, and guilt and innocence are seldom clear. In the same way, we sometimes send our military into a war, the justice of which is not clear. They have done their job, the job the American and British publics gave them, uncomplainingly. But if the prosecuting attorney suddenly finds evidence that the defendent is innocent, he has to drop the charges. Iraq is innocent. It isn’t a threat to the US. It may now be a threat to itself or its region, because of the civil war. But it and its region will just have to deal with that. And they will deal with it better if we don’t keep getting in their way.
That is why the Democratic majority in the House and Senate agreed on a date by which they want US troops out of Iraq. Because enough sunshine has gone out of our lives, enough children are without a parent, enough lives have been blighted, for a mission that no one has been able to define with any clarity.
Monday began with an attempt by the US military to forestall a demonstration in the Sunni Arab district of Adhamiya in northeast Baghdad. The attempt failed, when many hundreds (looked like well over a thousand to me on Arab satellite television) residents nevertheless marched in the streets to protest the building of a wall around their neighborhood as part of the security plan.
There was a great deal of uncertainty Monday about whether the wall building around Adhamiya would be halted. Some local Iraqis likened and its effect to what the Israelis have done in the West Bank, making everyone’s life miserable because it is so hard to move around through crowded or mysteriously inactive checkpoints. An Iraqi general insisted that the building works would continue. US Ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, affirmed that the US would respect the wishes of the Iraqi government in this regard.
Reuters reports political violence in Iraq on Monday. Among the major incidents:
RAMADI – Three suicide car bombers killed 20 people and wounded 35 others in the Iraqi insurgent stronghold of Ramadi . . .
BAQUBA – A suicide car bomber attacked a gathering of senior police officials in the city of Baquba, killing 10 policemen and wounding 23 . . .
NEAR MOSUL – At least 10 people were killed and 20 wounded when a suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into the office of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (PDK) . . .
BAGHDAD – Six people were killed and 14 wounded when a suicide bomber blew up in a restaurant near the entrance to the heavily fortified Green Zone . . .
BAGHDAD – A car bomb killed one person and wounded four others in a parking lot across the road from the Iranian embassy in Baghdad . . .’
My opinion piece on Muqtada al-Sadr and his recent political moves,
“As premier loses stature, radical cleric is gaining it,” is available at the “San Jose Mercury News.”