Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A Horrible Day....

14 more troops, a civilian interpreter, and an American journalist were killed in Iraq today. By my count, that makes at least 34 U.S. troops killed in less than a week.

This cannot go on. We cannot continue to sit in the desert losing soldiers at this rate for another year---much less five---while the White House and Pentagon leaf through a thesaurus playing word games. And comparisons to the casualty rates in World War II, Korea and Vietnam are specious---particularly as we continue to learn more about exactly how and why we started this war.

Until now, the Bush administration has counted on the casualty rate staying low enough to be "acceptable"---meaning it stays out of the public's daily consciousness. That strategy has been marginally successful so far. But when large groups of reservists in the same unit from places like Ohio and South Dakota and Kansas are killed in a single day, it's only a matter of time before the broad swath of middle America on which Bush has been able to count demands an immediate end to this.


Blogger Mark Jones said...

Who knows, maybe these latest casualties will contribute to aanother "tipping" point. I noticed that even Fox News interrupted its Holloway "coverage" from Aruba long enough to mention these latest incidents. We'll see how long that lasts. Recent American history shows that our society has an exceptionally short memory.

8/03/2005 9:51 AM  
Blogger owenz said...

I don't think the steady drum of casualties will do much of anything. The key difference between Iraq and Vietnam in terms of public outrage is the draft. Chickenhawks everywhere are willing to let volunteer soldiers die as long as their own kids aren't at risk.

The "tipping point," if there is one, will involve one of the following:

1. A terrorist attack on American soil
2. A large suicide attack in Iraq that kills a truly large number of American troops, like the Beirut truck bomb that scared Reagan into leaving (the true beginning of the "suicide bomber" age)
3. A change in policy by the Bush Administration, such as a partial pullout

8/03/2005 10:11 AM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

Ownez, the *only* tipping point that matters is number 1 "a terrorist attack on American soil."

What happens in Iraq or elsewhere throughout the world has no impact on Joe Sixpack.

We cannot pull troops out any time soon because Saddam will be back in power so fast your head will spin.

8/03/2005 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the public is actually getting close to the breaking point. Agree on the effect in small town America.

8/03/2005 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you follow the OH-02 election? While Hackett lost the election, he did really well for a democrat is rural Ohio. I think that's because rural America is heavily involved in the military. (It's the only viable job option in a lot of cases). He lost in the suburbs - home of the "support the troops" SUV stickers.

8/03/2005 10:42 AM  
Anonymous paperwight said...

We cannot pull troops out any time soon because Saddam will be back in power so fast your head will spin.

First, that's unlikely. The Sunni Iraqi Army is pretty much gone, and would be hard to reconstitute. That was Saddam's power base. A far more likely outcome, IMO is a Sunni Arab v. Shi'a Arab civil war (with some Arab v. Kurd killing thrown in), which the Shi'a will eventually win with Iranian backing. There's also a non-zero possibility of a Turkish invasion of Kurdistan.

To be frank, at this point we'd have been better off with Saddam still in power, spending our energy supporting liberalizing elements in the country like labor unions, instead of Chalabi's gang of thieves. Saddam was secular, didn't have much use for Islamist radicals, and kept the oil moving. An Islamist state, which I think is the most likely outcome *after* a bloody civil war, will be just as repressive as Saddam was.

Instead, we've got a colonial occupation bleeding us dry in both lives and money, with a probable Islamist state in the offing when we leave. And we're occupying land which, while not as holy as Saudi Arabia, is is still sacred to many devout Muslims, while we kill people who look like their cousins every day. Not a good situation.

8/03/2005 10:43 AM  
Blogger D.Boyer said...

I enjoy the conjecture that the U.S. will extricate itself from Iraq once enough Iraqi forces are trained. I had no personal connection to what it takes to train a well-disciplined army unit, let alone 100s of such units.

From Juan Cole's Informed Comment web log, a former Australian army officer familiar with training troops expands on what it might take to create a cohesive corps. This man's conclusion is quite a bit of time and knowledge as well as a dedicated group willing to accept the training.

The U.S. will be leaving, maybe piecemeal, and it probably won't be because there are plenty of expertly trained Iraqi forces there to take up arms. Obviously it is incredibly worrisome that insurgent 'volunteers' are already tied to some units to sabotage their efforts.

More likely it will be U.S. soldiers whose tours are up and mid-terms elections on the horizon.

8/03/2005 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know there is a rather large part of me that doesn't give a rats behind what happens when we leave Iraq (whenever and however). Except for the fact that I would hate that those 1700+ and counting soldiers died for freakin' nothing AND because I hate the fact that my country, though not an administration I ever voted for, perpetrated this for reasons that I don't see as valid up to this point.

As for the American public - I think there are several dynamics. First, are those that would think the pResident is right if he says the sky is green. Then there are those with loved ones over there who don't want to look unsupportive. There are those with no one over there who either are true believers or just don't care. Then there are those who have just gotten so frustrated and beat down that they are just mired in mud. All this means - no outrage that body counts for American forces are continual long after the "Mission Accomplished" banner was hung and no perceived descernable progres seems to have been made.

8/03/2005 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not a total freak for numbers and accuracy, but please note that the 1700+ just includes U.S. victims.

The allied forces in Iraq have lost already 2,015 soldiers as of today:

Although the 'Coalition of the willing' has long since been scrapped, let's not forget about the foreign comrades fighting in Iraq, and Afghanistan.

8/03/2005 2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How will this insanity stop???

8/03/2005 3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The insanity will stop when Republican Congressmen develop a conscience, or start fearing the results of the midterm elections.
Ok, I'm joking about the first part.

8/03/2005 3:36 PM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

This thing is way beyond partisan politics. The Denocrats can't get us out of this mess any better than the Republicans. The best we can hope for is the enemy just lays down their arms. That and hell freezing over.

8/03/2005 4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The administration doesn't really care how many US soldiers get killed so long as it does not create a unrest among the voters. Since most of the soldiers come from the poor and politically powerless, Bush could not care less.
He knows that the part of the population he cares about do not care to serve and are not stupid enough to fall for the "patriotic propagenda" coming from the GOP and the neocon.
So the bleeding will continue, Iraqi dead DO NOT COUNT, as arabs don't count, only their oil.

I can see a beginning of the end, if the GOP loose one or both of the chambers on Capital Hill. Otherwise as long as the neocons and Bush stay in power we will remain there and we will also stay in as many bases as we can get away with in Iraq.
It will not bode well for the future and the final cost will very, very high. Much, much higher then anyone can imagin.

8/03/2005 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't "the true beginning of the "suicide bomber" age", the WWII Japanese Kamikaze Pilots? It is just a different variation on a similar theme.

8/03/2005 6:39 PM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

Suicide bombers have been around since the dawn of man. It's just the bombs that have gotten bigger.

8/03/2005 7:11 PM  
Anonymous houstonpete said...

Bad couple of days. Where's the accountability for the continuing lack of armor for these troops???

8/03/2005 8:40 PM  
Blogger 277fia said...

First, Bush would have to convince the public that we won the war. Then he can pull out troops. He lied his way into a war, I'm sure he can lie his way out of one.

On the other hand, what does he actually do about a very real civil war in Iraq? I'm surprised at how little has been leaked about contingency plans for different scenarios.

By now, Bush must have some idea who is funding the Sunnis. If disgruntled ex-Baathists are backing it, at some point, they will run out of money. I'd like to read more about Saudi opinion on Shiite control and an Iranian alliance right across the border.

What is also curious is how little anyone on Team Bush including the neocons has said about that alliance. Supposedly, the neocons still support Chalabi but why? Ledeen aside, the ayotollah seems firmly in control at home. What if Bush catches the Iranians redhanded in Iraq?

Lastly, has anyone read what the latest plans are for the Iraqi oil fields? They have to be protected and at some point, the Iraqi government, whoever it is, will want to increase output for the revenue. Is it possible that OPEC is not interested at the moment in increasing world oil supplies?

8/03/2005 10:52 PM  
Anonymous CaseyL said...

The war was never about American security or defense, and it was never about a workable geopolitical strategy.

It was a vanity war, so Bush could out-do Daddy and be able to call himself a "War President." It was a political war, so the GOP could use it to beat Democrats over the head.

Vanity is now satisfied. And the war won't help the GOP in the midterm elections. Therefore, Bush will declare victory and pull the troops out in time for '06.

8/04/2005 9:36 AM  
Blogger Tayefeth said...

The other reason that comparing Iraqi dead to WWII and Vietnam dead is specious is the number of wounded who would have died given WWII or Vietnam-era medical care, who are now surviving. They don't count as dead, so the numbers stay low, even though they aren't fit to fight again for months to years to forever. Maintaining troop levels in the face of severe casualties is difficult whether the casualties are deaths or wounds. And wounded soldiers deserve more support, in medical care and respect, than this administration has shown any desire to give them.

8/04/2005 11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

caseyl - agree with you about 43's motivations to out do 41. No one ever talks about it but I honestly think that this played a large unspoken role.

Remember all those things that were million about at election times about how no one ever expected George to amount to anything much less be president. How it was expected Jeb would follow in 41's footsteps, etc. etc. I think 43 has been listening to this all his life and after daddy became president he used that to make more of himself that people ever thought he could. Look at his life prior to being governor. Nada, zip, zilch.

When some biographer rights his bio 5, 10, 15 years down the line I wonder if they will pick up on this.

8/04/2005 4:50 PM  
Anonymous the Duke of Prunes said...

Regarding the number of casualties: I vaguley remember stories from several years ago that critically wounded troops were evacuated to Ramstein so that, in the likely event of their deaths, the stats would not show up as Iraq casualties. Anybody else remeber this or am I way off base here?

8/04/2005 6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a wonderful american military justice system - you rough up and beat up a prisoner and worse - and all you get is to loose $250 for 4 month. Isn't that wonderful what justice means in the USA.
Do they think that that news will not play in Iraq and Afganistan, and it will only increase their hatred for the gi's and more will loose their lives.
I wonder what the military would have demanded if an Iraqi or Afgani would have done that to an american. Would the they also have agreed to a loss of pay for a few month and a couple of strips.
I very much doubt it. But then arab lifes are very, very cheap and not worth much, so beating or torturing them to death is OK, except if it should become public and embarras the administration.
That is a crime worth jail time.

8/04/2005 8:14 PM  
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