Saturday, May 05, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- May 5th edition

May 5, 2006: Soldiers provide security for a cordon and search operation in Hor Al Bash.

May 5, 2002:

Declaring War Is More Than a Formality

With hundreds of American sailors dead in a disaster of uncertain origin, the president of the United States submitted a letter to Congress. "I now recommend the adoption of a joint resolution declaring that a state of war exists . . . [and] that the definition of the international status of the United States as a belligerent power may be made known and the assertion of all its rights in the conduct of a public war may be assured," he wrote.

The letter was dated April 25. That is, April 25, 1898, as President William McKinley went to war with Spain, resulting ultimately in U.S. forces being sent to Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

More than a century later, a letter to Congress requesting a declaration of war -- or even inviting debate and consultation -- seems to be viewed by recent occupants of the White House as a quaint anachronism. Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Lebanon, Panama, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan -- the list of American military interventions launched without an act of Congress grows long. Formal declarations of war appear to have gone out of style, even though the United States is projecting military force around the world as it rarely has before, with U.S. troops fighting in at least two countries and acting as combat advisers in three others.

Now, Bush administration officials are openly discussing the prospect of another military venture: an invasion of Iraq sometime between September and next January by anywhere from 70,000 to 250,000 American troops -- not only without a declaration of war but also without any provocation against the United States or its citizens.

Read the rest at the Washington Post

May 5, 2003:

'Mrs. Anthrax' Surrenders to U.S. Military

WASHINGTON — Another member of Saddam Hussein's (search) regime has fallen from the U.S. military's deck of cards.

Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, known as "Mrs. Anthrax," (search) was taken into custody on Sunday, according to Defense Department officials. Ammash is the "Five of Hearts" in the deck of cards portraying 55 members of Iraq's top regime leaders.

She was No. 53 of the coalition's list of Iraq's most wanted.

U.S. officials hope Ammash, 49, can provide details about Iraq's banned weapons program.

Ammash was a top scientist in Iraq's biological weapons program and was a member of Saddam's ruling Baath (search) party. She's referred to as the party's Youth and Trade Bureau Chairman.

U.S. intelligence officers say she played a central role in revitalizing Iraq's biological weapons program after the 1991 Gulf War.

Read the rest at Fox News

May 5, 2004:

138,000 Troops to Stay in Iraq Through 2005

Military officials plan to keep as many as 138,000 U.S. troops in Iraq through the end of next year, maintaining a higher-than-expected level of forces there to quell the insurgency and provide security to the country long after it is slated to become a sovereign nation. Officials also plan to send more heavy equipment, such as tanks and armored vehicles, into Iraq to help secure U.S. forces against attack.

The Defense Department announced yesterday that officials plan to deploy 10,000 soldiers and Marines this summer to replace troops in the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Light Cavalry Regiment who have had their stays in Iraq extended, and officials plan to identify 10,000 more troops soon to complete the replacement. About 6,000 National Guard and Reserve troops -- from more than a dozen states -- whose stays were extended also will be spelled in the next deployment.

An additional 37,000 combat support troops -- including about 16,000 reserves -- have been notified that they will rotate into Iraq this fall or early next year for possible 12-month deployments. The support units will provide services such as transportation, military police, logistics, maintenance and intelligence.

The deployments, at the request of combat commander Gen. John Abizaid, indicate that military officials believe they will need a far greater presence in Iraq than anticipated as recently as a month ago, to respond to the lingering insurgency and a growing number of U.S. casualties. Defense officials had expected to reduce the level of U.S. troops in Iraq to about 115,000 this year and about half that by the summer of 2005. Now, they are preparing to maintain a force of 138,000 for at least the next 18 months as they have seen violence rise over the past few weeks.

Read the rest at the Washington Post

May 5, 2005:

The Quagmire

The news from Iraq is bad and getting worse with each passing day. Iraqi insurgents are stepping up the pace of their attacks, unleashing eleven deadly bombings on April 29th alone. Many of the 150,000 Iraqi police and soldiers hastily trained by U.S. troops have deserted or joined the insurgents. The cost of the war now tops $192 billion, rising by $1 billion a week, and the corpses are piling up: Nearly 1,600 American soldiers and up to 100,000 Iraqi civilians are dead, as well as 177 allied troops and 229 private contractors. Other nations are abandoning the international coalition assembled to support the U.S., and the new Iraqi government, which announced its new cabinet to great fanfare on April 27th, remains sharply split along ethnic and religious lines.

But to hear President Bush tell it, the war in Iraq is going very, very well. In mid-April, appearing before 25,000 U.S. soldiers at sun-drenched Fort Hood, in Texas, Bush declared that America has succeeded in planting democracy in Iraq, creating a model that will soon spread throughout the Middle East. "That success is sending a message from Beirut to Tehran," the president boasted to chants of "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" from the troops. "The establishment of a free Iraq is a watershed event in the global democratic revolution." Staying on message, aides to Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, later suggested that U.S. forces could be reduced from 142,000 to 105,000 within a year.

In private, however, senior military advisers and intelligence specialists on Iraq offer a starkly different picture. Two years after the U.S. invasion, Iraq is perched on the brink of civil war.

Read the rest at Rolling Stone

May 5, 2006:

US seeks options for Iraq, finds few answers

WASHINGTON – With mounting sectarian violence in Iraq yet waning American influence there, a prominent Democratic policymaker is touting a plan to divide Iraq into sectarian-based autonomous regions - as a way to head off even deeper conflict.

Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware is calling for the division of Iraq into Shiite, Kurdish, and Sunni regions. Those regions would share oil wealth and provide for their own internal security, while leaving foreign policy, border security, and oil policy to a central government in Baghdad.

The Biden proposal is the most recent evidence that US leaders are looking for new ideas for addressing Iraq and the US commitment there. In March Congress named an independent panel, chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker and longtime Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton, charged with providing the White House and Congress with a fresh assessment of options for Iraq.

Biden's wading into the Iraq conundrum is commended by some observers for at least attempting to answer the big problems they say others - particularly the Bush administration - have left unaddressed. Those include the thorny issue of Iraq's militias, which some US military officials now call a bigger problem than the insurgency.

Read the rest at the Christian Science Monitor