Abdullah II to Cheney:
Israeli-Palestinian Problem Linked to Iraq
5 US GIs Killed
Massive Manhunt for 3 Captured GIs
Sunni Arab guerrillas killed 5 US soldiers on Monday, and Shiite militiamen in the south killed a Danish soldier and wounded 5 others with a roadside bomb.
Steve Clemons meditates on the death of Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich, son of Boston University Professor Andrew J. Bacevich– a thoughtful critic of Bush’s War. (Indeed, if Alaska was “Seward’s Icebox,” surely Iraq is “Bush’s Inferno.”) Those of us who have a son or daughter of that age can imagine at least a fraction of the anguish Professor Bacevich is going through at this moment.
The fabled Tigris of the Fertile Crescent, said by some to have watered the Garden of Eden, has become the Styx, a river of death and corpses, with Bush and Cheney playing Charon. Some of the 14,000 Iraqis who disappear without a trace no doubt make the journey, not to the other side, but straight to the bottom.
Bacevich, no less than Walt Whitman, is our courage-teacher, reminding us of a lost America of vitality and backbone:
[Allen Ginsberg, “A Supermarket in California,”:
“Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?”
If Iraq is menaced by the river of death, America is threatened by the river of oblivion. How many Americans feel the reality of the carnage in Iraq, the sorrow of Lt. Bacevich’s being taken from his parents? As Ginsberg saw, it is the opulent supermarket that preoccupies us, not the epic vision of a Whitman. The oblivion is being helped along by an Iraqi Interior Ministry that is reportedly forbidding photo journalists to take pictures of the aftermath of bombings, and by a US military that seems intent on severing public access to the online blogs of soldiers. I’m told my own site is no longer available to the US military in Iraq.
The Islamic State of Iraq, a Salafi Jihadi organization mainly made up of Iraqi Sunni religious nationalists, said they had captured the 3 missing US soldiers and that the current US sweep in the Mahmudiya area would endanger their lives.
Some 52 Iraqis were killed in political violence or found dead in Iraq on Monday, mostly in Baghdad itself. Reuters gives details. 17 bodies were found in Baghdad and 5 in Mosul. Those were the ones that hadn’t been thrown into the Tigris. McClatchy reports the violence in the provinces, including Salahuddin and Basra.
The deployment of 4,000 US troops to search for 3 captured GIs, however honorable and necessary, underscores the increasing futility of the US military presence in Iraq. If they were truly doing essential counter-insurgency, then there shouldn’t be a spare 4,000 troops for a search mission. The guerrillas are not resting on their mortar shells, after all. And, that the main mission of the 4,000 should be to find their captured colleagues is tragic. The guerrillas can tie down an entire brigade or two any time they like by grabbing some exposed GIs? What kind of a military mission does that imply? As for the idea apparently prevalent among some US military personnel that the good people of the Triangle of Death will like the Americans more if only they see them searching through their underthings in their dresser drawers looking for bomb parts, surely you jest.
McClatchy wire service on how Iraqi ethno-religious political feuding has derailed Bush’s 4 benchmarks.
Al-Zaman writing in Arabic makes similar points, saying that disputes over the status of Kirkuk, over whether there will be further provincial confederacies, and whether the De-Baathification laws will be revised and made less harsh, have all delayed work on revising the Iraqi constitution. (As it now stands, the constitution gives away Kirkuk to the Kurdistan Regional Government in a referendum this year; recognizes the right of provinces to pull together into confederacies, and prescribes De-Baathification).
VP Dick Cheney was pressed by his Arab allies, including King Abdullah II of Jordan, to ensure that the Sunni Arabs in Iraq get a better deal.
They also pointed out to him yet again that the US will never amount to anything in the Arab world as long as it goes on coddling the Israeli Right and stonewalling a just settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (in which so far the Israelis have been playing the game of what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine). Guerrillas and demagogues in Iraq will always be able to whip up anti-US sentiment by pointing to Washington’s complicity in crushing the Palestinians and starving their children, and such issues have gotten our troops killed. It is not entirely clear why we should martyr American soldiers to the frankly fascist ideas of Vladimir Jabotinsky.
Deputy National Security Council adviser Elliott Abrams, a convicted perjurer who should not be holding high office, let slip recently that the Bush administration is not actually doing anything on the Arab-Israeli peace process, and any appearance that it is is just for show, to mollify the outraged Europeans and Middle Easterners (i.e. everyone in the world outside rightwing Zionists, whether Jewish or Christian). See also the evidence of US maneuvering to sink the elected Hamas government.
In case you missed it, I posted some passages showing what the Jordanian newspapers really thought of Cheney’s visit here.
President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt warned Cheney against an Iraq War and said that it would produce a hundred Bin Ladens! Abdullah II spoke of the “apocalyptic” consequences and worried that the region would go up in flames. So were these leaders of the region right in 2002, or was smarty pants CIA-operative-betrayer Cheney? He’ll be hunting quail in Texas in a year and a half, and Abdullah II will have to deal with a million extra residents in his country– displaced Iraqis. Jordan only has 5.2 million citizens. And, Cheney won’t be helping Jordan deal with the burden on services or with feeding the Iraqi refugees he helped create. It will just be Abdullah II and a volatile situation that could explode, just as did the Palestinian refugee problem created by Israeli expulsions and land expropriation in 1948 and 1967.