Iraq and Afghanistan War Updates (and of course juicy Palin bits)

Sorry, I’ve been slacking on the war updates. Some big things have happened, so let me dig ’em out of me email and let you know what the hell is going on and, as per, what I think about that.

First up is some good news, direct from al-Anbar province in Iraq.

RAMADI, Iraq, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) — Iraq on Monday took over security control of the western province of Anbar from U.S. troops, a provincial security source said.

In a ceremony held in the provincial government building in the provincial capital city Ramadi under tough security measures, the U.S. military transferred the security file of the Sunni province to Iraqi security forces.

Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, Iraq’s National Security Advisor announced the security transfer, saying “the Anbar province which once was one of the hottest areas in Iraq is celebrating today the transfer of security file.”

Ma’moun al-Alwani, the governor of Anbar and the commander of the U.S. troops in the province signed the agreement of the handover during the televised ceremony.

Anbar would be the 11th of Iraq’s 18 provinces to return to the control of Iraqi security forces. It would also be the first Sunni-dominated province to be handed over by the coalition forces.

Anbar, the country’s largest province, expanding from Baghdad all the way west to the borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, has been relatively calm since more than a year and a half ago after Sunni tribes and anti-U.S. insurgent groups turn up against al-Qaida in Iraq network, cooperating with the U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces.

[full story]

This is good news. We are giving them back their country. That is the only kind of victory we can fully achieve here. I say we go for it. Now is the time to make the decision about who is going to lead us in the “right” direction here.

Let me show you two links, both attached to the above story that illustrate the current divide.

U.S. proposes troops presence to 2015 in Iraq, Talabani

BAGHDAD, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) — Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said that the United States asked Iraq to keep its troops in the war-torn country until 2015, but negotiations set 2011 as a dead line, website of Talabani’s party posted on Wednesday.

“It was an American proposal that its troops to stay in Iraq to2015 while the Iraqi one suggested 2010, then we agreed on the date 2011,” Talabani said in an interview with the al-Hurra television from Washington late on Tuesday.


Iraq, U.S. eye troops withdrawal by end of 2011

BAGHDAD, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) — Iraq and the U.S. negotiators have reached a draft agreement on a proposed withdrawal timetable and other issues on the U.S. military presence in Iraq beyond 2008, CNN reported Friday.

Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Haj Hamoud, who is also Iraq’s chief negotiator, told the channel that the U.S. troops would completely pull out by the end of 2011.

So the basic issue is that at the end of this year, there is no even-paper-thin, reason for the United States to continue having a military presence in Iraq. They are trying to hammer out such an agreement now. Iraq wants us gone anywhere from now to 2011. Bush wants us there to 2015. McCain wants at least 2013 and maybe 2113. Obama wants now to 2010 (maybe 2011).

I think that makes the choice easy. This war needs to be over. It’s reaching a point where we can hand it back over to the Iraqis we put in power. I think that’s about all we can ask for now. I seriously doubt we want to stay there until the Iraqi commit to fighting the “war on terror” (i.e. Iran and Syria) for us.

Now, this is all assuming (in one branch of future reality) that McCain wins and survives a full term. Say he wins and doesn’t. Then one Sarah Palin takes over. You may have heard of her by now. You may have even seen her speaking to people before. What you probably haven’t seen is her preaching before. Which brings us to Sarah Palin and Iraq. In this case, I’ll let her speak for herself.

Part 1

Part 2

[source and more on Palin’s church here…all part of the vetting process for the American people, it would seem]

The part that freaks me the fuck out, quite frankly, is where she is talking about sending her son off to war. She asks for only one thing (well, after asking them to pray for a $30,000,000,000 pipeline project)

Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right also for this country.

That our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure we are praying for. That there is a plan, and that plan is God’s plan.

Oh golly. Let me catch you up a bit here. I know it’s hard to follow what’s going on in the rest of the world while you are busy pumping oil and negotiating pipeline contracts (and raising 5 kids, and going to snowmobile races, and teaching abstinence classes…it’s a full life I know).

The “Plan” you are talking about in regards to Iraq was actually put together by the last Vice-President. That’s what he did. And no, he’s not God. Nor is Bush. And quite frankly, after following the action overseas for the last 7 years quite closely, I’m not sure you want to bring “God’s Plan” into it.

And frankly, Mrs. Palin, if something happens to McCain, it’s going to be your plan. Do you have one? Have you even thought about it, a little bit?

Really though, this kind of stuff freaks me out. There’s another quote out there about how she doesn’t really follow what’s going on. To have someone that doesn’t know (like Bush) surrounded by people with a serious agenda (the Neocons, rallying to McCain) scares the every-living shit out of me.

Now, as to Afghanistan….

“Victory in Afghanistan Is Impossible”

Gèrard Chaliand: No. Victory is impossible in Afghanistan. With the heralded reinforcements, there will be about 80,000 NATO soldiers on the ground. That is insufficient to control the terrain. We’re in a military impasse. In this country, one and a quarter times the size of France with an incomparably more difficult topography, we would have had to send more men and above all to have actively contributed to ameliorating economic conditions in the countryside. Today, we must also try to negotiate. There’s no other way out. The Taliban cannot win the war against NATO, which is just as incapable of eradicating the Taliban.

Outside of Kabul and several big cities, it’s the Taliban who control the local governments, and not foreign soldiers, most usually barricaded inside their little forts. In the south and east of the country, the Taliban – with the support of a large part of the local population – have succeeded in establishing a political infrastructure, parallel hierarchies that are the real power. Now experience shows that when it’s the opponent who exercises that power, the war is lost.

How did we get to that point?

The Taliban filled the vacuum left between 2002 and 2004, when the 15,000 GIs who were there were mainly busy with tracking bin Laden, when the other international forces remained concentrated in Kabul and nothing was done for the peasant populations, especially in the south and east (the Pashtun regions) even though those regions are the keys to the country.

International development aid, directed for the most part towards Kabul, represents less than 10 percent of the donations paid out. The reconstruction teams in the provinces represent fewer than 10,000 men for a population of 20 million rural residents!

Contrary to preconceptions, the Taliban have a better understanding of what is strategically important. They have understood that the conflict’s center of gravity is the sensitivity of Western public opinion – which they must impress by killing NATO – preferably American – soldiers. Our refusal to incur losses is notorious.

So we got that going for us. It turns out that when you stop one war half-way through to start another one that drags on for 10 times longer than you thought it would, that first, easy, half-way-through war comes back bigger and badder than ever. So much so that now we will have to re-fight it.

And most likely do so without the support of Pakistan. I know, I haven’t been writing about that either, but Musharraf is gone. It looks like the assassination of Bhutto is going to lead to Bhutto getting elected (hey, it’s Pakistani politics). Mostly there is disarray there, but a consistent lack of general support for U.S. goals in the region.

Afghanistan is also fucked for us because of stuff like this.

KABUL, Afghanistan — A United Nations human rights team has found “convincing evidence” that 90 civilians — among them 60 children — were killed in airstrikes on a village in western Afghanistan on Friday, according to the United Nations mission in Kabul.

If the assertion proves to be correct, this would almost certainly be the deadliest case of civilian casualties caused by any United States military operation in Afghanistan since 2001.

The United Nations statement adds pressure to the United States military, which maintains that 25 militants and 5 civilians were killed in the airstrikes, but has ordered an investigation after Afghan officials reported the higher civilian death toll.

The United Nations team visited the scene and interviewed survivors and local officials and elders, getting a name, age and gender of each person reported killed. The team reported that 15 people had been wounded in the airstrikes.

I saw some other news reports on this and it looks more like 9 or 10 people got killed. A whole family. Kids, parents, grandparents. The target they wanted wasn’t there. This was a village in sight of the U.S. base in the area. The house had been searched the day before, then the 2,000 lb. bombs. came. And the family disintegrated.

They quoted some of the survivors as saying that the U.S. was worse than the Russians. Worse than the Russian, can you believe it? They quoted the recent burning of Georgia (Atlanta), which they had just heard about, as proof of the “Amrikaans” barbarity.