Monday, May 29, 2006

Iraq/Afghanistan Round-Up

Remember when Laura Ingraham said reporters in Iraq were too scared and/or too lazy to get out of their hotel rooms and cover all the good news happening all over the country?

Well, another scared, lazy American reporter got blown up by a roadside bomb along with her cameraman and sound guy today:

BAGHDAD, May 29 -- A car bomb planted on a street in central Baghdad killed two CBS News staff members, a U.S. soldier and an Iraqi translator and seriously wounded a CBS correspondent on a bloody Monday punctuated by attacks that killed over 30 Iraqis.

The explosion killed Paul Douglas, a 48-year-old cameraman, and James Brolan, a 42-year-old soundman, both based in London, CBS News said in a statement posted on its Web site. Kimberly Dozier, a 39-year-old correspondent, "is in critical condition, but doctors are cautiously optimistic," the network said.

U.S. military authorities did not identify the soldier and the translator who were killed. Six other soldiers were wounded, the military said in a statement.

The team was traveling in a convoy with the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division when they were attacked at 10:30 a.m. It is unclear whether they were inside or outside the vehicle when the bomb exploded.

Dozier, Douglas and Brolan are the latest journalists to become casualties in a conflict that has claimed the lives of 71 reporters since its beginning in 2003, according to statistics kept by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Bob Woodruff, the former co-anchor of ABC News "World News Tonight," and his cameraman, Doug Vogt, both sustained serious injuries in another bombing on Jan. 29.

Meanwhile Laura Ingraham enjoys a Memorial Day weekend drinking cocktails and eating weenies at whatever wingnut gathering she's decided to attend.

In other Iraq war news, the chaos and sectarian violence continues across the country:

The day as a whole was marked by a string of bombings that highlighted the seriousness of the problems the country's nine-day-old government faces.

The bombing of a bus near Khalis, a predominantly Shiite town about 40 miles north of Baghdad in Diyala province, killed 15 people, according to police and hospital officials.

The passengers worked for the People's Mujaheddin Organization of Iran, an organization opposed to the theocratic Shiite government in Iraq's eastern neighbor, a spokesman for the organization said.

The blast ripped through the middle of the bus, leaving passengers sitting at either end alive. Ahmed Bilal Thyab, recuperating at a nearby hospital from wounds to his head and right arm, said he was sitting in the back of the bus.

The Bush administration is also bracing for reaction to the news that 24 Iraqi civilians were slaughtered by U.S. marines back in November 2005. Even more problematic for the administration, the military appears to have covered up the incident. In addition, several marines are being held in the brig at Camp Pendleton pending the results of an investigation into the death of another innocent Iraqi civilian at Hamandiya on April 26 of this year. The administration fears these reports of U.S. war crimes could inflame the Iraqi populace and/or the Muslim world at large.

The administration is right to have concerns about how the Muslim world is reacting to American actions across the globe. Take a look at this story from Afghanistan:

KABUL, May 29--The Afghan capital erupted in riots Monday morning after a traffic accident involving a U.S. military truck triggered rumors that American troops killed a number of Afghan civilians who gathered at the scene.

The U.S. military denied any such killings. But angry mobs of young men clashed with Afghan national police around the accident, and then moved toward the center of the city. Mayhem lasted for seven hours; seven to 20 people were killed and dozens were injured, according to various news and official accounts.

Hotel windows were raked with gunfire, a foreign aid agency was torched and looted, and numerous police posts were destroyed. Sounds of gunfire were heard throughout the city, and clouds of black smoke wafted in the air. Some rioters brandished AK-47 assault rifles. and they confronted police at numerous points in the city. Dozens of vehicles were smashed and burned.

The riot exposed the bitter resentment that many Afghans harbor toward the U.S.-led military forces that have been stationed here since the fall of Taliban rule in late 2001. It also reflected the deep ambivalence many Afghan Muslims feel toward the growing Western influence here that includes high fashion and fast-food shops, sprawling aid compounds, and even rap music.

"Today has set us back 10 years," said a distraught Afghan man who works for the International Security Assistance Force, the NATO-led contingent that patrols the capital. "We have been working so hard to build something here. Now the foreigners will all go away and take their money with them."

The rioters shouted slogans against President Hamid Karzai and President Bush. Employees at the U.S. Embassy took cover in bunkers, and staffers at the Russian Embassy were evacuated by military vehicles after their compound was assaulted.

The public mood has also been tense since a U.S. air strike killed at least 15 civilians in a village in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan last week. Afghan and U.S. officials blamed Taliban insurgents who had taken shelter in village compounds and fired from them at U.S.-led forces.

The NY Times noted yesterday that "Afghanistan is the sleeper crisis of the summer." Given that Iraq continues to get worse, not better, and that the Middle East in general is worse off today than it was three years ago (as Senator Chuck Hagel said yesterday), America is starting to look more and more fucked geopolitically. Just how do we pull our overstretched military out of Afghanistan and Iraq as both countries go south and spin out of control? Yet how do we continue to send our military people overseas for four and five tours of duty and not expect some of them to lose it and engage in horrors like the incidents at Haditha or Hamandiya?

I wish some of the deep thinkers who cheerled this war in both parties and the press had thought about some of these questions before we started the Iraq war. I wish these same people would think through an attack on Iran too before we start a third fucking war we can't finish.

Happy Memorial Day everybody, especially to the men and women in uniform and their families.

The one good thing about how badly things are going in Iraq is that it's shattered some of the hubris of the shock-and-awe nutcases in this admin, and they won't be so quick to make the same mistake in Iran.

Or am I giving them too much credit?
Too much credit I think. Rummy and Cheney would bomb Iran tomorrow if they could. Hopefully the adults that are left in the GOP can exert a more positive influence this time around and explain reality to C & R.
It would probably help the military had they paid only what they get. The contractors seem to overcharge *everything*.
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