Essentially what has happened is that Shiite majority is split among the pro-U.S. government forces, and al-Sadr's Mahdi army which wants the U.S. out of Iraq. With American military now taking a even more visible role in the fighting, it threatens to rip the country apart. As troops are shifting to deal with the problems in the south, mortar shells are raining down on the Green Zone, and watch what the Sunnis start doing in Anbar.
Iraq now seems to have fallen into a mult-faceted civil war, with Shiites killing Shiites in the battle to control Basara, mortar shells raining down on the Green Zone and other neighborhoods in Baghdad, and U.S. forces winning hearts and minds by killing an Iraqi judge and his family.
Congrats, George. You've just created a new Lebanon. If there were any justice in the world, maybe after you are out of office, you can go over there and fight.
Before the war, I wrote a column about how it would likely end up that we would need to install "Saddam-lite" to rule the country, since Bush really had no political interest in installing democracy.
But the security that has been achieved here is fragile, the result of harsh tactics recalling the rule of Saddam Hussein, who was overthrown five years ago. Even as they work alongside U.S. forces, Zobaie's men admit they have beaten and tortured suspects to force confessions and exact revenge.
In the city's overcrowded, Iraqi-run jail, located inside a compound that also houses a U.S. military base and U.S. police advisers, detainees were beaten with iron rods, according to the current warden. Many were held for months with no clear evidence or due process. They were deprived of food, medical care and electricity and lived in utter squalor, said detainees, Iraqi police and U.S. military officers, who began to address the problems three weeks ago. Last summer, the warden said, several detainees died of heatstroke....
His men, he added, abuse suspects because "they don't surrender easily. They don't confess. They say: 'I am innocent. I haven't done anything.' They start to defend themselves."
He has also launched a network of intelligence operatives around the city, a system that was the backbone of Hussein's security apparatus, police officials said.
That is how Zobaie's men control Fallujah. With two U.S. Marines a few feet away, Fezaa said that if he caught a criminal or terrorism suspect in front of people, he would not hurt him. And if he captured him alone? "I wouldn't even let him walk afterward," he said. He pulled an electric stun gun from his leg holster. "I've used this before," he declared.
Capt. Mohammed Yousef, a ruddy-faced police investigator in another joint security station, said he sometimes has to beat suspects to make them confess. He has interrogated suspects since 1994, he said, and sees no need to change his methods.
"Since Saddam Hussein until now, Iraq obeys only the force," said Yousef. "We are practicing the same old procedures."
With American help, Zobaie's influence is growing. He presides over school graduations and launches municipal projects. He helps approve reconstruction contracts and meets with tribal sheiks. Last week, a member of parliament visited his office: He needed Zobaie's help to settle a land dispute.
"This politician came to me to solve the problem and not the city council," Zobaie said, beaming. He was wearing a dark suit with a black and silver tie, not his uniform.
What Zobaie wants is for the U.S. military to hand over full control of Fallujah. He believes Iraq's current leaders are not strong enough. Asked if democracy could ever bloom here, he replied: "No democracy in Iraq. Ever."
"When the Americans leave the city, I'll be tougher with the people," he said.
Here is Bush's foundation for peace and democracy that 4,000 Americans gave their lives for.
There are many tragedies spawned by the Iraq disaster. But for the good Christian supporters of President Bush, perhaps they should be reminded that the war has pretty much destroyed the Christian community in Iraq.
Under Saddam Hussein, Christians had protections and could practice their faith freely. His second in command, Tariq Aziz, is a Christian and made very public displays of his faith. Muslims accepted the Christian minority.
But the hell that was released with the invasion has forced most Christians into hiding or exile. They are targets of Islamic extremists, marked for assassination, their churches bombed and burned, their clergy killed.
Our tax dollars support the Iraqi government that is riddled with these extremists, and has no interest in reining them in. Why is there no outcry among those hard-core Christian Bush supporters?
Here's a sample:
[A]fter the money was delivered to Iraq, oversight and control evaporated. Of the $12 billion in U.S. banknotes delivered to Iraq in 2003 and 2004, at least $9 billion cannot be accounted for. A portion of that money may have been spent wisely and honestly; much of it probably wasn't. Some of it was stolen.
Once the money arrived in Iraq it entered a free-for-all environment where virtually anyone with fingers could take some of it. Moreover, the company that was hired to keep tabs on the outflow of money existed mainly on paper. Based in a private home in San Diego, it was a shell corporation with no certified public accountants. Its address of record is a post-office box in the Bahamas, where it is legally incorporated. That post-office box has been associated with shadowy offshore activities.
Yes, after an exhaustive review, the Pentagon finds no link between Saddam and al Qaida. How long will it be before we hear another Republican proclaiming that there was a link? Don't let the facts get in the way of a good political attack.
George W. Bush is trying every trick in the book to lock the country into the occupation of Iraq. This one takes the cake. Bush is now saying that the 2002 authorization for war against Iraq gives them indefinite approval to keep troops in the country.
Despite the speciousness of the argument, I'm betting Hillary Clinton doesn't like this new angle. If the president uses this to justify continued troop presence in Iraq, it puts the question about Clinton's vote on this resolution in a whole new light. It's not past history anymore, but the reason why troops are still there and can't be yanked out, perhaps even with a new president.
I know that some people out there feel that since they have no control over the war in Iraq, they should take drastic action. But kicking Marine recruiters out of town is really stupid.
Look, the argument you have is with the moron who sent the troops to Iraq, not with the troops. Actions like this hurt the cause, not help it. I know that the folks in Berkeley just can't help themselves, but please stand down and go stage a sit-in somewhere.
There is a myth out there that Iraq is fading as an issue in this presidential campaign. I don't think so. And even though the press coverage of the "Surge" has been pretty one-sided, the truth is starting to leak out. Here are the Top Ten Myths about Iraq 2007, by Juan Cole.
1. Myth: The reduction in violence in Iraq is mostly because of the escalation in the number of US troops, or "surge."
Fact: Although violence has been reduced in Iraq, much of the reduction did not take place because of US troop activity. Guerrilla attacks in al-Anbar Province were reduced from 400 a week to 100 a week between July, 2006 and July, 2007. But there was no significant US troop escalation in al-Anbar. Likewise, attacks on British troops in Basra have declined precipitously since they were moved out to the airport away from population centers. But this change had nothing to do with US troops.
Every few years, someone trots out this speech from two-time Medal of Honor winner Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, USMC. And considering the deal Bush just made to keep troops in Iraq permanently, it bears repeating yet again:
War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.
I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.
I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.
It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.