Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Iraq Briefing

Japan withdraws 600 troops

Japan ordered the withdrawal of its ground troops from Iraq on Tuesday, declaring the humanitarian mission a success and ending a groundbreaking dispatch that tested the limits of its pacifist postwar constitution.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said the troops - deployed in early 2004 - had helped rebuild the infrastructure of the area where they were based, and he pledged further aid to Iraqi reconstruction.

"Today we have decided to withdraw Ground Self-Defense Forces from the Samawah region in Iraq," Koizumi said in a nationally televised news conference. "The humanitarian dispatch ... has achieved its mission."

He offered no timetable for the withdrawal, but Defense chief Fukushiro Nukaga told reporters earlier in the day that the pullout would take "several dozen days."

Koizumi has been a vocal supporter of U.S. policy in Iraq, arguing that the dispatch was needed to aid reconstruction, secure oil supplies and bolster ties with Washington. He is to travel to Washington for a summit with President George W. Bush the last week in June, before stepping down in September.

But, it's not quite over.

Japan will now consider expanding Air Self-Defense operations in Iraq to include transport of medical supplies and U.N. personnel, following a request from U.N. General-Secretary Kofi Annan, said Takenori Kanzaki, head of the ruling party's coalition partner, the New Komei Party.

"Even after the withdrawal from Iraq, we must continue the efforts to support Iraq," he told reporters.

Interesting, the withdrawal of Japanese troops leads to Australian Troops Redeploying Inside Iraq for "More Dangerous Missions".

>Defence Minister Brendan Nelson said that 460 soldiers currently guarding Japanese engineers in the southern city of Samawa would move soon to the nearby city of Tallil.

They would provide back-up and training for Iraqi forces who are set to take control of the southern province of Al-Muthanna, and help secure the dangerous Syrian border, Nelson said.

The move is politically sensitive for Howard's government, which backed the US-led offensive in Iraq in the face of widespread public opposition.

Protests have faded and the issue has largely slipped from the headlines in recent months, largely because Australia has suffered only one fatality in Iraq.

But the new mission near the volatile city of Nasiriyah, where roadside bombings by insurgents are commonplace, is likely to be more dangerous.

Thirty-one Italian soldiers stationed in Nasiriyah have been killed and Rome plans to withdraw its contingent, once the fourth largest in Iraq, by the end of the year.

We may not like some statements from the Democrats, but with Opposition like this in Australia, maybe we should feel lucky: Opposition Demands Intelligence Info on New Iraq Deployment of troops. I know, you must be thinking like I was thinking, "Say What?"

Nine Lives (My guess is, no one wanted to sign their name to an op-ed based on a sensitive and secret state department cable). Best line:

Nine lives do not tell the story of an entire country, nor is the cable reason to bring troops home. Other measures paint a brighter picture. Nevertheless, for those who wonder whom to believe in Iraq, the U.S. ambassador reporting privately about the lives of the Iraqis closest to him is a source that can hardly be ignored.

Don't expect reporting on the "other measures" because you might actually get context. Don't ask about the 30 or 50 other employees, either.

Don't get me wrong because I have heard the other indicators about hijabs and such (of course, since the beginning, it's been dangerous to work for the new government; ask the first president).

Democrats and Iraq Plans

This one is crazy: "one to pull out U.S. combat forces by July 2007"

This one is basically a regurgitation of Republican Plans except the Dems aren't afraid to give a date and tell the enemy their plans: "and another to begin withdrawing this year without a deadline for completion."

On one hand, I can understand Levin's point:

"Three and a half years into the conflict, we should tell the Iraqis that the American security blanket is not permanent," said Sen. Carl Levin

On the other, it would be very silly to leave the place full of nut balls that will use the place as a staging ground (not like it's not happening now, but at least we can reach in and get them; they don't get to rest - not like a withdrawal)

But, really, the entire thing is a political manouver. No Democrat that really has a clue about national security, securing the region and it's resources or terrorist threats is going to seriously give a deadline even if they are pretending to stand on principle.

Levin's measure had support from most Senate Democrats, who shied away from setting a deadline for a pullout out of fear of a full-scale Iraqi civil war.

Or worse. These measures are simply the latest to stir up their anti-war base before the mid term elections. Does anyone actually believe they mean it? Except these two and they are just about as stupid as Murtha's "redeploy a QRF to Okinawa" comment:

In a statement, Kerry and Feingold said a deadline "gives Iraqis the best chance for stability and self-government" and "allows us to begin refocusing on the true threats that face our country."

Does Kerry actually know what the true threats are or does he still believe we should negotiate with the Vietcong or whatever group he thinks is fighting in Iraq?

Of course, a few more soldiers are being considered for court martial in regards to the death of three Iraqis. I read the report and the coalition press release actually said they were "charged" though article 32s had not yet been brought against them. So, one could wonder who is confused about the legal process, but we'll leave it at that. I am waiting for more info just as I wait on the Marines. The fact that we are hearing about these charges more often doesn't necessarily mean more or less activity in this regards, but more sensitivity to how the war needs to be fought and to the political implications of cover up. Thus, the military is starting to insure the process that is supposed to be in place for investigating civilian deaths is now followed and enforced. Whether it means more charges, courts martial or convictions remains to be seen, but I do expect more investigations and more press releases.

Update: Two Soldiers Found Slain

Nothing official yet on the hows and why fors. Indications of booby traps around the bodies and that the men were dead before being moved to that location. Besides that, how, when and where is still unannounced.

Two Soldiers Remain Missing

Before anyone gets more het up than they should, the first thing we should understand in a propaganda/information war, after striking Zarqawi and rounding up hundreds of insurgents/terrorists (killing plenty in the process) with real evidence they could be weakened, AQ had to pull off something big to show they are still relevant. It's chess in the press. Are they still as capable as they say or tried to prove? Probably not, but it does indicate that either these troops were too fresh to be on checkpoint (two humvees left a third?) or they got lacadaisical after the big strike and so many troops near by performing missions.

I think the important, buried news is in this paragraph:

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Iraqi forces would take control of the country's southernmost province from a British-led multinational force in July.

Maliki hailed it as a first step toward Iraqi forces taking responsibility for their own security.

But Muthanna province is relatively quiet and is much easier to hand over than the violence-racked oil port city of Basra to the east or Sunni Arab insurgent strongholds further north like Yusufiya, where the two U.S. soldiers went missing.

U.S. troops tried to establish positions in south Ramadi, one of the most troublesome Sunni insurgent strongholds. A Reuters witness saw seven U.S. tanks rumbling along the streets.

Al Muthana is where the Australians are going to redeploy near in order to provide continued training and support for Iraq forces.

Albright Says Iraq Invasion Encouraged Iran and North Korea to go ahead with Nuke plans.

In all honesty, I've always liked Madeleine Albright and I don't consider her to be completely wrong on many subjects, particularly her outspoken ideas on democracy and freedom abroad. Even in her above statement, she's not completely wrong, but she is, as they say, playing politics. The truth is, these two nations have been going after nuclear capabilities long before the Bush even thought about running for President. Anyone who has any clue about nuclear physics knows you just don't pop off a nuclear plant every year and create weapons within a year or two.

What has really happened is that these two countries have felt emboldened to go public with their programs and thumb their noses hoping to get public support instead of condemnation and sanctions. The US, for its part, has decided that Iran does not have the kind of support that NK does from China and we have a few less obligations or economic issues (thought China is certainly concerned with Iranian oil and natural gas). Time to draw the line, particularly against nuclear proliferation in the ME and South East Asia. Pakistan and India are enough.

Nukes don't keep you from getting invaded per se, but certainly political and economic concerns can keep people from being invaded as well.

Here's what the enemy does: Suicide Bomber hits Senior Citizen Home

And here you can read the continuing saga of who is to blame for the failed intelligence that led to the Iraq invasion. Half of which is partisan BS and half may be the truth, but I find one part really egregious in the BS department:

That's what makes their critique of the administration's intelligence handling so sobering. One of then-Secretary of State Colin Powell's aides describes how, as the White House's contentions about Saddam's weapons collapsed one by one, he typed out a resignation letter and kept it in his desk drawer, pulling it out each morning like a home remedy for guilt hangovers. ''It was a blow to me . . . It really affected me,'' the aide says of the realization that much of the administration's intelligence was faulty.

The words I find most egregious? "The Administrations Intelligence". Now, it is a fact that this administration was in office and authorized war against Iraq, but to declare the intelligence solely the perview of this "administration" is really pushing the line. The fact is, anyone who has been a sentient being past the age of 16 in 1991 should know the history of Iraq and that the lead up to war was eleven years, not six months. I'm always interested in the idea that it all started in the post 9/11 world. Maybe it would be better to indicate the catalyst existed in post 9/11 and in this administration, but the lead up and intelligence spanned three administrations, innumerable investigations and attempts at investigations on Iraq WMD over 11 years and several known attempts AND successes at hiding WMD, plants and other resources from the inspections. Not to mention the hundred or so targeting and attacks on UN mandated flights over Iraq and the broken sanctions (courtesy of a number of alleged allies).

I'm not going to write it all. Read John Fund for the rest of the concept. But, if we're looking for the fall guys, look no further than this blog and the other 74% who originally supported the war in Iraq because we are the people that heard, saw and read any number of things on Iraq over the course of 11 years and bet on Iraq needing to be "finished". That includes Democrats, of which I was for over 17 years of my life. I certainly didn't support the invasion as a "Bushite" as I've been called. I really couldn't have cared less who was in the Presidency.

However, I would read this because it is a fairly sober review of the situation leading up to it. However, anyone who supported the war then and now wants to blame anyone else but themselves for starting it is, well, full of BS.

Best line though?

The lack of verifiable information meant that a lot of American assumptions about Saddam were deduced from his behavior rather than based on hard evidence. The best reason to think he had WMDs was that he kept kicking out the UN inspectors who were looking for them. And, with the wounds of Sept. 11 still raw, the Bush administration was leery of taking a chance. As Condoleezza Rice said many times, no one wanted the smoking gun to be giving off a mushroom cloud over New York. That line of reasoning isn't refuted in Frontline, simply ignored.

So, you want to know why I supported and still support the war regardless of the outcomes of searches for WMD? You just read it.

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