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 Thursday, October 19, 2006

Iraq War: America is Losing the War by the Day and by the Hour

  Read here article by Jim Lobe, "Iraqi Endgame Approaching, Bush Ready or Not"


Jim Lobe
(Jim Lobe, works as Inter Press Service's correspondent in the Washington, D.C., bureau. He has followed the ups and downs of neo-conservatives since well before their rise in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.)

If Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki were inclined to bet his life on President George W. Bush's latest assurances that there will be no timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, he should probably give it a second thought.

While Bush is undoubtedly sincere in his determination to press ahead, political circumstances are clearly conspiring against him.

The signs of eroding support for Bush's "stay-the-course" strategy are virtually everywhere in Washington.

Senior Republicans, such as the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner, are moving into open revolt against what they see as a rapidly deteriorating situation and Bush's bullheadedness in still believing that Iraq will somehow become a model for democratic transformation in the Middle East.

A strong majority of Democrats currently favor a yearlong timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. That position, if anything, is winning them increased popular support and is one they may well be able to effectively impose on Bush when Congress, which controls the government's purse strings, reconvenes in January.

Similar auguries are visible in London, Washington's closest ally in the "global war on terror" and the biggest contributor of troops by far to the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

Britain's new army chief, Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt, said Britain should "get ourselves out some time soon because our presence exacerbates the security problems [in Iraq]," adding that the best that could be hoped for now was something less than the kind of liberal democracy envisaged by both Bush and Blair.

Dannatt's views reflect the thinking of the "British military establishment."

The recent increase in U.S. troops was due above all to the increased violence in Baghdad, where the monthly death toll has risen steadily from over around 1,400 earlier this summer to more than 2,600 in September.

By increasing the U.S. and Iraqi troop presence in the capital, U.S. planners had hoped that the violence could be quickly contained, but that assumption has not been borne out.

"The U.S. military had a two-stage program for security in Baghdad," Juan Cole, an Iraq specialist at the University of Michigan, told an interviewer on U.S. public television Monday. "They were going to go in and make sweeps of the Sunni Arab districts and cut down on the guerrilla violence against the Shi'ites, and then they were going to use that as an argument to the Shi'ites that 'OK, now you have to give up your militias.'"

"But this battle for Baghdad has already been going on since August, and there has been not only no reduction in attacks … [but] the attacks have gone UP ! We've got 50, 60, 70 bodies showing up every day in Baghdad, bullets behind the ears," said Cole, who is calling for a "phased withdrawal of U.S. troops."

Nor is the violence limited to Baghdad or the Sunni insurgent stronghold of al-Anbar province.

Over the weekend, a series of reprisal killings by Shi'ites and Sunnis left over 100 dead in and around Balad, about 50 mi. north of Baghdad, in an area where U.S. troops turned over security to their Iraqi counterparts just last month.

U.S. casualties have also been spiking, particularly since August when more troops were sent to help pacify Baghdad.

Sixty-three U.S. troops were killed in August; that rose to 74 in September. Nearly 60 have been killed in the first half of October, putting the month on track to be the deadliest in almost two years and adding to the pressure to bring the troops home.

All of these developments have created panic among the war's supporters, particularly neoconservatives who were most enthusiastic about invading Iraq.

Reuel Marc Gerecht of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) conceded that a "consensus is growing in Washington" on both the Right and the Left in favor of a "rapid departure."

The so-called Iraq Study Group (ISG), a blue-ribbon task force created last spring by Congress to develop a bipartisan strategy on Iraq, was considering four basic options.

The second option, called "Redeploy and Contain," appears similar to a plan floated last year by the Center for American Progress and subsequently endorsed by most Democratic lawmakers. It calls for a gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops to bases outside Iraq from which they could strike against terrorist targets in Iraq or elsewhere in the region.

The fact that the ISG's co-chair is former secretary of state and Bush family consiglieri James Baker, with whom Bush reportedly talks on a regular basis, is likely to give Congress, the military, and top Republican strategists that a face-saving exit strategy, timetable included.

UPDATE !!: More American Soldiers Killed in Iraq

Read here full article and Here and Here

Roadside bombs and enemy fire killed eight US soldiers and one Marine in Baghdad, raising the number of US troops killed in Iraq this month to 67.

Four soldiers died when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle west of Baghdad, the military said in a brief statement.

Three soldiers attached to Task Force Lightning, assigned to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, were killed and one wounded during combat in Diyala province east of Baghdad, the military said. The wounded soldier was evacuated to a military hospital.

Another soldier died yesterday when suspected insurgents attacked his patrol in northern Baghdad. A Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 also died from injuries sustained during fighting in Al Anbar Province.

FORMER US secretary of state James Baker was visibly shocked when he last visited Iraq, and said the country was in a "helluva mess", the BBC reported today.

Mr Baker is leading a review of the situation in Iraq by a bipartisan US committee of experts, and is expected to recommend a change in US strategy for rebuilding Iraq.

Citing a unnamed close friend and ally of Mr Baker's, himself a top politician, the BBC reported that Mr Baker said "there simply weren't any easy solutions".

Mr Baker was secretary of state to US President George W. Bush's father, president George Bush.

The 10-member commission has agreed that change must be made, the Times report said.

"It's not going to be 'stay the course,'" the paper quoted one participant as saying. "The bottom line is, (current policy) isn't working. There's got to be another way."

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