Whoever is responsible for this disgusting travesty is an automatic candidate for Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person in the World.” My guess is that the trail will lead back to Donald “its not a guerrilla war” Rumsfeld and Richard Bruce “most prominent traitor in American history” Cheney. Gregg Zoroya of USA Today reports that 20,000 US troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and suffered brain injuries were never classified as wounded by the Pentagon and are not included in the official statistics for the wounded issued by the Department of Defense. Although some of the under-reporting of this condition could be inadvertent, the scale of it strongly suggests an underlying policy.
Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien says that it was among the great victories in his life that he stood against US pressure to join in the Iraq War.
Uh, the purpose of a wise and mature US foreign policy is to avoid close allies ending up speaking like that. Bush has destroyed half a century of good will among NATO allies, most of whom now think they are better off not following Washington’s lead. Leaders who threw in with Bush, like Aznar of Spain and Berlusconi of Italy, have been ushered off the political stage by enraged publics. As someone who grew up when the US (and its currency) was respected by most Europeans and other North Americans, I am sad to see the way W. has debased our position and humiliated our country.
Among the biggest irritants in NATO countries against the US now is the mission in Afghanistan, which seems both open-ended and ultimately fruitless. Canada did not dodge that bullet, and has lost dozens of soldiers there, though you would not know it from reading US newspapers. On Friday, Pushtun guerrillas killed an Australian soldier in Uruzgan province (Mulla Omar’s birthplace), and others killed 3 civilians, attacked a police checkpoint and killed 7 officers and kidnapped 6 others. (What is the mission? If the mission is to get Pushtuns to stop worrying about Islam and start welcoming foreign troops in their country, I wouldn’t hold my breath).
The tribal sheikhs of southern Iraq who have gotten up a petition against Iranian influence in their region should be viewed with some suspicion. I heard supporters of the petition interviewed on Aljazeera today and they were looney as the day is long. One was maintaining that hundreds of thousands of Iranians have flooded into southern Iraq (not true if you mean residents; Iran is nice compared to southern Iraq and nobody is immigrating. You could see that level of immigration on satellite photos!)
The other interviewee supporting the petition was, I swear to God, a member of the Army of Heaven millenarian group that is alleged to have marched on Najaf last January with the aim of killing Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and other Shiite clerical leaders in hopes of thereby provoking the coming of the Twelfth Imam, the Promised One of Shiite Islam. This man defended the Army of Heaven as Iraqi and intimated that it had been attacked by the Iranians.
So these tribal sheikhs petitioning against Iran are probably linked to Iraqi nativist and sectarian movements like that of Mahmoud al-Hasani al-Sarkhi (who leads an anti-Iranian offshoot of the Sadr Movement) and even the Army of Heaven. Among their primary targets is the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, led by cleric Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. ISCI was formed by Iraqi expatriates at the suggestion of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1982 in Iran and long received money and training from Tehran. ISCI dominates the provincial governments of most southern Shiite provinces, to the annoyance of local Iraqi Shiites unconnected to them or Iran, who feel excluded from patronage. (The petition may even be a way of extracting more patronage from Iran and ISCI).
No doubt our own American “Army of Heaven” will wax dreamy-eyed about these Iraqi nativists working against Iranian influence. I wouldn’t get so excited about it if I were they. Rural sectarian Shiism might not look so attractive in power.
Reuters reports political violence for Friday, including an attack by guerrillas on Mosul police.