Thursday, May 10, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- May 10th edition

May 10, 2006: A U.S. soldier assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry, looks into a well during Operation Iron Triangle, southwest of Balad.

May 10, 2002:

Iraq poses grave threat, says Bush

President Bush has told the American people they face a "grave and growing" threat from Iraq, warning that war may be "unavoidable".

As American diplomats continued negotiations over a new United Nations Security Council resolution to stop Iraq producing weapons of mass destruction, Mr Bush used his weekly radio address to set out the dangers America faces from Saddam Hussein.

Calling Saddam a "cruel and dangerous" man, Mr Bush said the Iraqi president had proven links to terrorist organisations which could deliver "weapons of mass death".

Read the rest at the Telegraph

May 10, 2003:

Garner sets June 15 deadline for Iraq stability

BAGHDAD (AP) — The top U.S. civilian official in Iraq on Saturday set a June 15 deadline to get much of Iraq's infrastructure up and running and normalize the country's health and educational systems.

Speaking at a conference of medical workers, retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner — head of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance — reiterated his main goal was to bring stability back to Iraq.

It remains a daunting objective. More than a month after U.S. troops entered Baghdad, most government services remain either nonexistent or in a state of chaos.

To achieve that, Garner said, the national power grid had to be restored, the health system repaired, schools reopened and safe drinking water provided. He also said city councils would be set up across Iraq and crops harvested and bought up.

"It is my object to accomplish this by the 15th of June," Garner said. "After June 15, if we accomplish all these things together, we can begin the process of handing things back to the people of Iraq."

Read the rest at USA Today

May 10, 2004:

US winning battles, but losing war, says report

Senior US military commanders have begun to say that although militarily the United States is winning, strategically it is losing in Iraq, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

In a long, 2,400-word, front page article, which includes interviews with several senior commanders, the newspaper highlights two major fears: US casualties in Iraq may increase as the fighting continues and it is becoming increasingly difficult to hand over power to an Iraqi government.

"The major worry is that the United States is prevailing militarily but failing to win the support of the Iraqi people. That view is far from universal, but it is spreading and being voiced publicly for the first time," the report said.

Army Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, who spent much of the year in western Iraq, said he believed that at the tactical level, the US military was still winning. But when asked whether he believed the United States was losing, he said, "I think strategically, we are."

Army Col. Paul Hughes, who last year was the first director of strategic planning for the US occupation authority in Baghdad, said a pattern of winning battles while losing a war characterized the US failure in Vietnam.

"Unless we ensure that we have coherency in our policy, we will lose strategically," said Col. Hughes who lost his brother in Vietnam. "Here I am, 30 years (after Vietnam), thinking we will win every fight and lose the war, because we don't understand the war we're in."

Read the rest at the Dawn

May 10, 2005:

U.S. to Expand Prison Facilities in Iraq

The number of prisoners held in U.S. military detention centers in Iraq has risen without interruption since autumn, filling the centers to capacity and prompting commanders to embark on an unanticipated prison expansion plan.

As U.S. and Iraqi forces battle an entrenched insurgency, the detainee population surpassed 11,350 last week, a nearly 20 percent jump since Iraq's Jan. 30 elections. U.S. prisons now contain more than twice the number of people they did in early October, when aggressive raids began in a stepped-up effort to crush the insurgency before January's vote.

Anticipating continued growth in the detainee population, U.S. commanders have decided to expand three existing facilities and open a fourth, at a total cost of about $50 million.

The steady influx of prisoners has also required additional U.S. military police officers to guard the detention centers. Commanders had hoped to use the MPs to help train Iraqi police, but management of the detention centers has taken priority.

Read the rest at the Washington Post

May 10, 2006:

Only US option in Iraq 'is to leave'

New York - Iraq is embroiled in a "low-level civil war" that is forcing the United States to react to events on the ground rather than shape them, according to a former US military adviser who spent two years there studying the insurgency.

"Once you start reacting to events, you cannot impose a solution," said Ahmed Hashim, a professor at the Naval War College who worked with US troops in Iraq from November 2003 to September 2005 in an effort to understand the emotions and loyalties driving Iraq's insurgents. "You go along with the flow."

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations on Tuesday, Hashim said the most powerful force behind Iraq's chaotic downward spiral in recent months is "the identity issue" dividing Shi'as, Sunnis and Kurds.

"What's happened over the past several months is that Iraqi communities have created a narrative of one another that is exclusionary," he said, pointing to the rise of sectarian militias such as the Mahdi Army, the powerful militia loyal to radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

When militias take the place of the state in protecting individual communities, he said, ethnic antagonism is the natural byproduct.

Stressing that he was speaking as an individual, not a representative of the US Military, Hashim expressed pessimism over the US's ability to control the current situation in Iraq.

"We have a civil war right now, a low-level civil war," he said. "Our understanding of Iraq has advanced at a very glacial pace, and the only policy we really have in our hand right to leave."

Read the rest at IOL-NZ