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Iraq causing big trouble for Pentagon

John Catalinotto

May 4, 2005
According to reports from the U.S. military command, 150 people were killed in fighting in Iraq from April 28 to May 2 in dozens of battles. While this overall total fails to explain all that is going on, it indicates once more that the resistance movement which sprung up after the start of the U.S. occupation in April 2003 is still gaining momentum.

Most independent news media have left Iraq by now, making it harder to get an accurate assessment of developments there. A careful reading of the news indicates, however, that the Pentagon is bogged down by a grinding occupation. The new puppet government assembled through manipulated elections held last January is still incapable of fully taking office. The "coalition of the willing" is dwindling to only the most servile of U.S. client states. And the Iraqi people’s suffering continues.

The U.S. Defense Department has issued a report to Italy trying to justify the shooting of Italian Secret Service officer Nicola Calipari by U.S. troops as he was transporting journalist Giuliana Sgrena to the Baghdad airport on March 4. This declassified report, leaked to the press in a visually censored PDF file, became whole again with a few clicks of a mouse and was published in Corriere della Sera, the major Italian newspaper.

It revealed that between November and March 12, in greater Baghdad alone, there were some 3,306 clashes with the Iraqi resistance forces, some 2,400 of them attacks on the occupation troops. This includes the period just before and after the Jan. 30 "elections" that were supposed to have been quiet. Twenty to 40 attacks a day is far from quiet.

On the road to the Baghdad airport, know as the "Death Strip," there were 135 attacks, or more than one per day. U.S. Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Richard Myers said on April 26 that the resistance was about "where it was a year ago." This is probably a very optimistic assessment, from Myers’ point of view.

Government in Baghdad?

Meanwhile, the new Iraqi parliament was unable to form a government until the end of April. Despite serious U.S. arm twisting, the "officials" hadn’t taken office. Finally, on April 29 they announced a government, but by May 3 five important ministerial posts—including defense, oil and industry—were still without permanent assignments.

Washington is having about as much success with its "coalition of the willing" as it is with the Iraqi puppet government. Even regimes like those in Poland and Ukraine, whose leaders go out of their way to appease U.S. demands, have had to announce that they are pulling out of Iraq. Their populations are so opposed to the war that if the governments continue to risk the lives of the youths in Iraq they may soon lose their elected positions at home.

Britain’s Tony Blair, the most useful of Bush’s allies—who still has 8,000 troops in Iraq—is himself suffering with the voters in this war, which is very unpopular in Britain. If his opponents weren’t so right wing, they might present a serious challenge in the upcoming elections. As it is, his dishonest conduct of the war has become the major campaign issue.

In Italy, with Premier Silvio Berlusconi already in trouble for his anti-worker economic policy, the war is another thorn in his side. On top of this, the killing of Cali pari has humiliated the Italian premier.

So in order for Berlusconi to avoid appearing like a complete tool of Bush, Italy has had to issue its own assessment of the shooting on the Baghdad airport road. This account refutes U.S. assertions that the Italian car was speeding or that it received adequate warning.

U.S. shows its weakness

Gen. Myers issued another report on May 2, this one to the U.S. Congress. In it he outlined the shortcomings in U.S. military options caused by the continued need for 138,000 troops in Iraq and another 17,000 in Afghanistan.

Myers would never give the impression of serious weakness or admit publicly that the U.S. military was unable to win a particular war. Still, he told Congress that, because of Iraq, any additional major combat operations "may result in significantly extended campaign timelines and achieving campaign objectives may result in higher casualties and collateral damage."

There’s another aspect Myers didn’t mention.

This report came out on May 3. In April, for the third straight month, the Army failed to recruit its quota of troops. It has recruited only 85 percent of its target through April 30.

Recruiting is even more of a problem in the National Guard and Reserves. In March, the Army Reserve signed up barely half its target of 1,600. For the period from October 2004 through March, it recruited only 82 percent of its goal.

It took tens of thousands of soldiers being killed in Vietnam before the so-called Vietnam Syndrome took hold among the rank-and-file troops.

After 1,576 official deaths and somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 serious injuries in Iraq, an "Iraq Syndrome" is already spreading through the population.

This article is copyright under a Creative Commons License.
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:: Article nr. 11548 sent on 06-may-2005 10:57 ECT


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