Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

June 6, 2006

IT'S GETTING WORSE....Dennis Hastert may be impressed by some electricity in Baghdad at 4 am, but conditions in the city are growing increasingly horrifying.

In Baghdad, leaving home to work, shop or visit family has become an increasingly dangerous proposition. Violence rears up without warning; residents navigate a citywide obstacle course of roadside bombs, shootouts and security checkpoints.

The city just had its deadliest month since U.S.-led forces invaded the country in 2003, new Iraqi government documents indicate. More people were shot, stabbed or otherwise violently killed in May than in any other month since the invasion, according to Health Ministry statistics. The figure does not include slain soldiers or civilians killed in bombings, on whom autopsies are not usually performed.

Last month alone, 1,398 bodies were brought to Baghdad's central morgue, the ministry said. All over the city and out into the provinces, corpses surface on a daily basis in garbage dumps, in abandoned cars or along roadsides. They often bear marks of bondage and torture.

The worst month in over three years. Whatever it is that's on the march, it's not freedom.

In related news, the Wall Street Journal had an interesting item today on American troops shooting fewer Iraqis at checkpoints and in convoys.

The U.S. military has cut the number of Iraqi civilians killed at U.S. checkpoints or shot by U.S. convoys to about one a week today from about seven a week in July, according to U.S. defense officials in Iraq.

The reduction in civilian casualties shows that months before the killing of 24 Iraqis in the western Iraqi town of Haditha came to light, the military was pushing to reduce the number of Iraqi civilians killed or wounded at the hands of U.S. forces.

The once-a-day shootings last July were the first month in which the military kept track of these incidents, suggesting, the WSJ noted, that at least "hundreds of Iraqi civilians were killed at U.S. checkpoints or on Iraqi highways during the first two years of the war."

An average of one a week is clearly better than one a day, so I guess if you're desperate to find progress, this counts?

But, war supporters argue, what about the Washington Post item this morning that points to a new report showing that "Iraqis believe violence will abate"? There's ample reason for skepticism. The report is the Defense Department's quarterly report to Congress, which apparently includes the results of a "nationwide" poll gauging Iraqis' attitudes about the future. Unfortunately, the Pentagon report offers "no explanation of who was polled and how." I guess we're supposed to take Donald Rumsfeld's word for it?

Steve Benen 11:04 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Just make up facts. Hmph. What a scam.

Posted by: sunship on June 6, 2006 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Are these morgue statistics anything like those morgue statistics that were reported with glee by the WaPo a couple of months ago, and which were thoroughly debunked within the following couple of days?

But, hey, the left LOVES to cherry-pick the evidence to make things look bad. Just as the Baghdad electricy evidence yesterday was cherry-picked. (Hey, the hours of electricity for the ENTIRE COUNTRY are up, but let's cherry-pick Baghdad to make things look bad!)

Posted by: Al on June 6, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Just how many sectarian killings need occur before they call it civil war?

Posted by: ckelly on June 6, 2006 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Al forgot the painted schools!!

Posted by: ckelly on June 6, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

What does Rep. Hastert think of Marines stationed in Iraq being charged with murder?

U.S. soldiers and intelligence officers have kidnapped innocent civilians, tortured and killed prisoners and are now being accused of murdering innocent civilians. What do we think, that Iraqi insurgents are going to listen to us now when we say, "Stop the violence?"

We've lost our moral standing. It's time to go. We're just making things worse by staying.

The sacrifices loyal, law-abiding soldiers and their families have made have my utmost respect and sympathy, but if there is no longer any hope of improving the situation, why stay?

Iraq policy was poorly conceived to start with and continues to be poorly executed. Yet another example of how the means employed determines the nature of the ends produced.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 6, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

So last July the rate was 7/week. Now (May) it's 1/week.

With no other data points over a 10-month period we are expected to believe that even before the Haditha story came to light the military was making significant progress in curbing the shooting of civilians. Color me sceptical.

The omission of intermediate data points and the source (DoD/WSJ) suggests "bullshit psyop against the American people".

Posted by: Wapiti on June 6, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

But the ones who've managed to survive are free and living in a democracy. Does that not mean anything to you?

Posted by: American Hawk's stand-in on June 6, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

The once-a-day shootings last July were the first month in which the military kept track of these incidents, suggesting, the WSJ noted, that at least "hundreds of Iraqi civilians were killed at U.S. checkpoints or on Iraqi highways during the first two years of the war."

It's thousands, not hundreds, killed at these checkpoints. As I mentioned in an earlier thread, I just finished reading Evan Wright's "Generation Kill," his account of his time embedded with a Marine platoon during their drive up to Baghdad in the first three weeks of the war. Reading it I was struck by how many times Wright saw or heard of innocent civilians being killed by US forces. Here are just a few excerpts:

"'Major General Mattis has expressed a concern to me that, division wide, we're killing more civilians than we should.'" -- pg. 190 [which leads to the question, just how many civilians should they be killing?]

"Kocher, just 150 meters up from Colbert's position, watches the white truck set on fire by the Cobra and believes this is one of the worse things he's seen so far in the war. He later says 'I saw civilians in that truck, and I watched them burn up alive.'" -- pg. 208

"After he leaves, Espera offers his own assessment of the battalion's performance thus far in the war. 'Do you realize the shit we've done here, the people we've killed? Back home in the civilian world, if we did this, we would go to prison.'" -- pg. 277

"I personally saw three civilians shot, one of them fatally with a bullet in the eye. These were just the tip of the iceberg."

"[Sgt.] Colbert despairs when he hears reports of other units accidentally firing on civilians. One episode reported on the BBC enrages him. U.S. soldiers, newly arrived in Iraq to begin the occupation, accidently slaughtered several Iraqi children playing on abandoned tanks. Under the ROE, the children were technically 'armed' since they were on tanks, so the GIs opened fire."

"'The American people ought to know the price we pay to maintain their standard of living,' Espera says. Despite his avowals of being a complete cynic, he continually turns back to the incident at Al Hayy, where he shot and killed three unarmed men fleeing a truck at the Marine's roadblock. 'I wish I could go back in time and see if they were enemy, or just confused civilians," he says. 'It could have been a truckful of babies, and with our Rules of Engagement you did the right thing,' [Lt.] Fick says."

Posted by: Stefan on June 6, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter (fake?) Al: electricity is up all over the country! Pay no attention to the beheaded man behind the curtain...

Posted by: mmy on June 6, 2006 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

The right has unjustly used the military as it's own personal political tool. What has it done for us? If lifting A Q up from the level of an L.A. street gang to a World Class Terrorist organization was your goal, thanks guys you get a gold star for that.
If reducing the security of America was your goal, Thanks gw, dick and the rest of the moron majority.
What's next fearless leaders?

Posted by: allen kayda on June 6, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan
As I mentioned in an earlier thread, I just finished reading Evan Wright's "Generation Kill," his account of his time embedded with a Marine platoon during their drive up to Baghdad in the first three weeks of the war.

Not downplaying loss of civilian life, but you shouldn't draw conclusions from the "kinetic" portion of the war that would apply directly to ongoing ops, which are different in nature.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Bush should shout "mea culpa", give Saddam some arms and his freedom and be done with it.

Posted by: Erm on June 6, 2006 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Not downplaying loss of civilian life, but you shouldn't draw conclusions from the "kinetic" portion of the war that would apply directly to ongoing ops, which are different in nature.

No, I'm drawing the conclusion that if Wright, from his limited vantage point with only one platoon, was aware of several dozen civilian deaths in only the first three weeks of the war, then nationwide it was probably much higher than merely "hundreds of Iraqi civilians...killed at U.S. checkpoints or on Iraqi highways during the first two years of the war."


Posted by: Stefan on June 6, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

(Hey, the hours of electricity for the ENTIRE COUNTRY are up, but let's cherry-pick Baghdad to make things look bad!)
Posted by: Al on June 6, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Take a look at this population density map:

http://images.nationmaster.com/images/motw/middle_east_and_asia/iraq_pop_2003.jpg

As you can see, the vast majority of the population lives in Baghdad and the area to the west and south. About a quarter of the population lives in the cities of Baghdad, Karbala, Hilla and Najaf. Add in the areas surrounding these cities, and it looks like about half the population (or more) lives in this area. Which suggests that unreliable electricity in Baghdad and surrounding areas impacts a significant portion of the Iraqi population, anywhere from 25-50%. Doesn't that make Baghdad's lack of electricity relevant, as opposed to cherry picked?

Posted by: Kurzleg on June 6, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Not downplaying loss of civilian life, but you shouldn't draw conclusions from the "kinetic" portion of the war that would apply directly to ongoing ops, which are different in nature.

Moreover, the ongoing operations are likely to lead to even higher civilian casualties than the first weeks of the war, since current operations are guerilla warfare in populated civilian areas, where the rebels blend in to the civilian population and are harder to distinguish, while the invasion itself involved more open combat against uniformed regular units of the Iraqi Army.

Posted by: Stefan on June 6, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

We need al, achickenhawk and redassmike to enlist immediately. these fine brave republican't Americans will win the war in no time.

Posted by: gus on June 6, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Allah forgive Amerika.

Posted by: Hostile on June 6, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

We need al, achickenhawk and redassmike to enlist immediately.

I'd have to de-enlist first, since I'm already in, moron.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 6, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

We need al, achickenhawk and redassmike to enlist immediately. these fine brave republican't Americans will win the war in no time.

I can't believe I'm defending RSM, but...I am. Unlike these other clowns, I don't think he's malicious, just given to pathological (and embarrassing to watch) machismo and, very frequently, willfully blind. Of course, some may say that's worse...

Posted by: shortstop on June 6, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Also, Mike, there are other epithets besides "moron." Be a little more creative. Use an online thesaurus if you really can't think of anything. It's free.

Posted by: shortstop on June 6, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

I weep for these people, then I want to slap them until their eyes roll.

During the last two weeks two area soldiers died in Iraq. The first one Memorial Day as he was accompanying a CBS team (yeah that one) as it tried to find one of those good news stories that the conservative media says that the liberals are ignoring. Just a little too ironic. His stoic dad, a US Army major, retired, briefed the press on family reaction. Mom was no where in sight.

The second was a kid from a small farming community south of Houston. Both parents spoke to the local TV folks. Mom was confused as to why this was necessary say that she was beginning to feel that all soldiers should be brought home (I bet she is). Dad was not convinced, after all (paraphrasing here): If we hadnt gone over there, they still might be crashing planes into our cities and if we leave now all those soldiers will have died for nothing.

Looking slightly off camera, mom appeared to give an ever so slight nod of the head, probably more in support of her husband than in support of the policy he was advocating.

Look, I dont, nor should anyone else, look to freshly bereaved parents to be the apex of political analysis, but I wonder, where is the anger, where is the indignation? The reasons for invading Iraq were nearly as scant as the planning utilized to make it happen. T

hen for nearly a year Rumsfield could not be convinced that there was a growing insurgency. No. They were just some dead-enders. Leave it to Rummy to make Mc Namara look like a fricken military genius.

I realize that many parents (feel they) need to think like the above dads do just so their heads dont explode.

Maybe some of them learned the lesson that they were supposed to from Cindy Sheehan: critique war policy and be viciously attacked by the conservative media. Collect whats left of your kid and then either wave the flag or shut the hell up!

I hope that the anger appears some day, sooner rather then later. It will be healthy for both the parents and our politics.

Posted by: Keith G on June 6, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

"ive seen the bright lights of Baghdad..
and the green zone hotel.."
apologies to lowell geroge

Posted by: apeman on June 6, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Keith G, my cousin died in Viet Nam (second tour, voluntary) and his father put 'Died in Johnson's War' on his grave stone. Did the father learn a lesson? No, he supports Bush and the Iraq occupation.

Posted by: Hostile on June 6, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK


But, hey, the left LOVES to cherry-pick the evidence to make things look bad. Just as the Baghdad electricy evidence yesterday was cherry-picked. (Hey, the hours of electricity for the ENTIRE COUNTRY are up, but let's cherry-pick Baghdad to make things look bad!)

What a pathetic liar you are. In the first place, the total electricity production is around where it was 3 years back, and the earlier post was in response to a claim from Hastert that he saw lights in Baghdad.

Posted by: erg on June 6, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

...residents navigate a citywide obstacle course of roadside bombs, shootouts and security checkpoints.

Soon to be a hot-selling video game: Iraqi Civilian.

Posted by: Grumpy on June 6, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe I'm defending RSM, but...I am. Unlike these other clowns, I don't think he's malicious, just given to pathological (and embarrassing to watch) machismo and, very frequently, willfully blind. Of course, some may say that's worse...

Actually I can believe it, and I think defending him is a fair thing to do. RSM often has good objections that are worth listening to becuase they aren't rooted in boiler-plate Republican talking points.

Posted by: cyntax on June 6, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Welcome to the new Beirut.

Posted by: Vincent on June 6, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

I'd have to de-enlist first, since I'm already in...

Thank you for your military service, RSM.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 6, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

I'd have to de-enlist first, since I'm already in...

Thank you for your military service, RSM.
Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 6, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

I second that!

Posted by: kurzleg on June 6, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Well you see, as more Iraqi civilians die, there is more electricty left for those who survive. So every massacre is a sign of progress, as the electricty per capita goes up.

Posted by: moderleft on June 6, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

NPR today interviewed one of their senior editors who's been reporting from Iraq since before Saddam came to power in the early 1970's. The upshot: Iraq is worse than it's ever been -- ever.

He'd spoken with a moderate Shia Imam among others, a man who deplores violence and who had been imprisoned by Saddam Hussein and finally exiled by him. This Imam's take: as bad as things were under Saddam, things are much worse now. The Imam's pointed out that at least under Saddam there was stability, order and not anarchy, safety, and the ability to live a peaceful like and make a decent wage.

Not any more. And now he's forced to carry a gun to survive.

When asked if he would rather live under Saddam's rule he said he'd said that he would.

Which begs the question: Why do the moderate Shia whom we supposedly liberated from tyranny prefer Saddam?

Posted by: Windhorse on June 6, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Good thing we're turning the corner in Iraq.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 6, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

When asked if he would rather live under Saddam's rule he said he'd said that he would.

Which begs the question: Why do the moderate Shia whom we supposedly liberated from tyranny prefer Saddam?

Our Backwash Trolletariat will read this post and instantly translate it into, "This imam is hugely pro-Saddam, anti-American." Why the hell do we bother?!

Posted by: shortstop on June 6, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Which begs the question: Why do the moderate Shia whom we supposedly liberated from tyranny prefer Saddam?

Or, now that the situation has degnerated to the point where even moderate Shia would prefer to have Saddam back, what do we do next?

I think Sen. Murtha may be right: it's time to go.

That or it's time to come up with a crackerjack plan that isn't simply "staying the course."

Posted by: cyntax on June 6, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK
Or, now that the situation has degnerated to the point where even moderate Shia would prefer to have Saddam back, what do we do next?

I think the administration's preferred policy is analogous to "the floggings will continue until morale improves".

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Dennis Hastert may be impressed by some electricity in Baghdad at 4 am...

Hastert was just happy that his hotel snack bar was working for some late night munchies.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on June 6, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like I'm too late for feedback, but there are two things that have concerned me greatly since "mission aconmplished" and the US declared itself an occupying power:

1) As an occupying power one of the top responsibilities under intrnational laaw is to provide a level of security, policing and justice for the citizens. This has always been at a very low priority, if one at all. For some reason (like everything else) Rules of Engagement are a secret. WHY? Wouldn't it help the civil populace to know what risk they are at and when?

2) The US military refused to keep track of civilian casualties. Surely to be able to do 1) above and to be a responsible occupying power you would need to track, investigate and report all civilian deaths. This has been the height of callousness and is surely illegal in terms of international law.

The two combined and liberal interpretation of the RoE, there are plenty of stories out there of unwarranted civilian deaths and wounded at the hands of US military.

Shame on us. More specifically, shame on this administration.

Posted by: notthere on June 6, 2006 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly