Re: Bring reality on

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Posted by Esarhaddon from ( on Sunday, July 06, 2003 at 6:19PM :

In Reply to: Bring reality on posted by Esarhaddon from ( on Sunday, July 06, 2003 at 6:16PM :

Shot US soldier dies in Iraq

A US soldier shot on the Baghdad University campus has died from his wounds, US military officials have confirmed.
The US Central Command said the soldier - a civil affairs officer from the First Armoured Division - died at a field hospital where he was taken after the shooting.

The soldier was guarding the campus in the centre of the city when he was shot in the head, a US military spokeswoman said.

Witnesses said a lone gunman brandishing a pistol escaped from the scene of the shooting - a campus cafeteria - into the panicking crowd.

The BBC's Peter Greste in Baghdad said he had heard a single shot and came out of a nearby building to see the soldier's colleague keeping students back and calling for assistance.

Twenty-seven American and six British soldiers have been killed in Iraq since US President George W Bush declared major hostilities over on 1 May.

US troops maintain tight security at the university, searching people and vehicles before entering the grounds.


Most students appeared stunned by the shooting.

But our correspondent says there is some animosity towards the occupying forces and as the Americans drove off with the injured soldier, some shouted Allahu Akbar - God is Great.

The shooting of the soldier is the latest in a series of ambushes, attacks and killings that have continued against US-led troops and their "collaborators" since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.

On Saturday, at least seven Iraqis were killed and more than 50 were injured in an explosion near a police station in the town of Ramadi 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of Baghdad.

The victims were new police recruits who had just finished training with US troops.

A British journalist was shot dead in the capital on Saturday outside the Iraqi National Museum - where a sniper had shot dead a US soldier guarding the building a few days earlier.

The attacks are blamed on pockets of resistance loyal to the former president.

Operation ends

A recorded message, said to be the voice of Saddam Hussein, was broadcast on Arabic satellite television channel al-Jazeera on Friday.

The voice praised the "jihad cells made up of Iraqi male and female fighters" that had been formed throughout Iraq to fight US-led coalition forces.

The US has launched a series of military operations to hunt out the fighters since May.

The latest, Operation Sidewinder, ended on Sunday after a week in which troops in central Iraq arrested 282 people and seized a variety of weapons including 96 AK-47 rifles, three heavy machine guns, 217 rocket-propelled grenades and 33 grenades.

US Central Command says its troops will continue to conduct active patrols.


: "Bring 'em on"?

: U.S. soldiers are dying and dodging guerrilla bullets in a hot and hostile country and their commander-in-chief says, "Bring 'em on"?

: Mr. President, do you live in a play house or the White House?

: No matter how Ari Fleischer tries to spin it, childish taunts such as that are not the calibrated words demanded of the United States president at this turn of history's wheel.

: Calibrated does not mean sterile or soft. But a president's words have global impact. And these words have people here and abroad scratching their heads about this war that's supposedly over, but clearly continues.

: The President's macho quip rankles in particular because American troops have been put at greater risk by the awful U.S. planning for Iraq post-Saddam. From the moment U.S. forces so ably captured the Iraqi capital, it was the United States' legal and moral obligation to act as provider and protector of the Iraqi citizens with whom the President always said we had no quarrel.

: Instead, there's been as much chaos as calm, as much pillaging as progress. As of Thursday afternoon, combat deaths since the May 1 "end" of the war stood at 25 American and 14 British soldiers.

: The tumult has led the U.S. reconstruction chief in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, to request more troops and civilian personnel.

: That recommendation slammed headlong into a familiar problem: the unwillingness of top administration officials to let reality intrude on their hubris. In fact, the President's quip came as he ridiculed those who suggest more troops are needed to stabilize Iraq.

: Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz assured America before the war that Iraqis would gladly welcome U.S. troops. They assumed Iraqis would gratefully accept the Iraqi exiles the Bush team had handpicked as Saddam's replacements. They predicted a smooth transition to democracy requiring no help from individual nations or the United Nations, and little investment of American dollars, thanks to Iraqi oil riches.

: The reality evolving on the ground is vastly different from that gauzy picture. Yet those officials still seem loathe to admit any mistakes.

: So here are a few items, call it a get-real list, to get the Bush team's head out of the clouds and into the hot and hostile reality where U.S. soldiers bravely toil on:

: Get real about the number of U.S. troops needed to establish and maintain order for months to come. Retiring Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki estimates that as many as 300,000 soldiers might be needed. (Current troop size is about 158,000.)

: Get real about the full scope of reconstructing Iraq - its cost and duration. Repeating a sound bite - "As long as it takes, and not a moment longer" - is no answer. It's political camouflage. Americans don't expect exact promises, just reasonable estimates. The U.N. Development Program says reconstruction could cost $30 billion over two-and-a-half years (not including the tab for U.S. troops). The Council on Foreign Relations projected $20 billion a year for at least 10 years. Is that true? If so, then...

: Get real about cutting taxes. The incumbent is the only president in the nation's history to cut taxes in the middle of a hot war. Now, the only thing soaring higher than presidential rhetoric about freedom is the country's deficit. And those tardy Iraqi oil revenues have been spent several times over by U.S. planners. So...

: Get real about spurning the value of the United Nations. Responses from U.S. pleas for help from other nations have been skimpy. Officials in India reportedly want a "better understanding" of U.S. plans for Iraqi civil order and democracy before committing. Who can blame them?

: Get real about the democratic aspirations you unwisely inflated among the long-oppressed, divided Iraqi population. Sure, it would have been smarter to get electricity flowing, the streets safe, courts and banks operating before launching into risky elections. But now America has made promises. Reneging on them only puts its troops at greater peril.

: The trick here is to persuade people without jobs, water or phones to be patient. One hint: Don't use he-man colloquialisms that suggest you see the situation as Americans vs. Iraqis.

: Finally, get real about admitting mistakes, about reliance on wildly optimistic scenarios. That's the only path to effective remedies.

: So much rides on this gamble. Not just the future of Iraq, though that alone is vital. American credibility. Middle East peace. The war on terror.

: Despite the White House's hype and flim-flammery, there were decent arguments to fight this war. The initial battle was swiftly won. But America may now stand on the edge of blunders of colossal scope.

: At such moments, an American president needs to do better, much better, than: "Bring 'em on."

-- Esarhaddon
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