Re: Bring reality on

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Posted by Esarhaddon from ( on Sunday, July 06, 2003 at 6:23PM :

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

U.S. Soldier Critically Hurt in Baghdad

Sunday July 6, 2003 1:19 PM


Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - An American soldier was shot in the head as he waited in line to buy a soft drink at Baghdad University on Sunday, while U.S. forces killed two insurgents who charged an army post in a truck, firing a rocket-propelled grenade.

The soldier was shot at close range at about midday, witnesses said. He was evacuated to a military hospital, where he was in critical condition, said Army Maj. William Thurmond, a U.S. military spokesman.

The violence in the capital came as the military declared the end of its latest major sweep through central Iraq hunting for Iraqis who have carried out daily attacks on American forces.

In the seven-day Operation Sidewinder, U.S. forces detained 282 people and confiscated hundreds of weapons and ammunition, the military said - but none of the Iraq's top fugitives were apprehended. Thirty Iraqis were killed in Sidewinder operations, and there were no coalition deaths, the military said.

Officials have blamed loyalists to ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein for the often deadly ambushes and shootings over the past weeks.

In Baghdad, the two insurgents were killed Saturday night as they charged U.S. troops in a white pickup truck and fired a rocket-propelled grenade. The burned out shell of the white pickup truck sat on the side of a traffic junction in Baghdad Sunday, cordoned off with white tape.

In other attacks, insurgents fired a grenade early Sunday into a small U.S. army compound in the town of Abu Sada al-Sagra, 40 miles northeast of Baghdad, lightly injuring one soldier.

The wounded soldier, Pfc. Seth Janisse, from Indian River, Mich., suffered minor shrapnel wounds.

``We saw the muzzle flash where the RPG had come from and we returned fire, but I don't know if we got him,'' Janisse told The Associated Press.

U.S. forces were not the only targets of violence.

On Saturday afternoon, insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the International Organization for Migration office in Mosul, 240 miles northwest of Baghdad, hitting the compound wall and damaging several cars, said a spokesman for the United Nation's special representative in Iraq, Hamid Abdel-Jabar.

Also Saturday, a sniper shot and killed a young British journalist outside Iraq's Natural History Museum.

Richard Wilde, a 24-year-old freelance videographer, was standing in a crowd in the midday sun when he was killed by a single, small caliber bullet that was fired into his head at close range, said Michael Burke, an independent British TV producer in Baghdad.

Wilde arrived in the country two weeks ago aiming to be a war correspondent, his co-workers said Sunday.

Burke identified Wilde's body at a hospital morgue. The assailant fled into the crowd and was not apprehended, he said.

Wilde's death brings to 16 the number of journalists killed since the beginning of the war on March 20.

On Sunday, Iraqis buried seven people killed in a bomb blast a day earlier that targeted a graduation parade by U.S.-trained police cadets. L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. official in Iraq, labeled the attack the work of ``desperate men.''

U.S. forces on Sunday also announced that they had delivered medical supplies and toys to hospital children's wards in Baghdad, while a new police station opened in Mosul with 36 graduates ready to police their neighborhoods, the U.S. military said.


: "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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