Thursday, May 31, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- May 31st edition

May 31, 2005: A soldier ties a chain around a palm tree to remove it after finding 30mm rounds, single tips, and shells hidden at the base of the palm located near a local farm in Hasawa. The rounds are suspected to have been used in the mortar attacks on Forward Operating Base Kalsu.

May 31, 2002:

US right questions Saudi ties

It is now 12 years since American troops were sent to the Gulf following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos is one of many on the Hill increasingly bitter that the Saudis are not more grateful for America's protection:

"The United States saved the House of Saud. Had we not done so, the House of Saud today would be a villa on the French Riviera rather than an important country in the region," he said.

In a long litany of complaints against the Saudis, Mr Lantos headlines their treatment of women.

He recalls an anecdote about the recent visit of the Saudi Crown Prince to President Bush's ranch in Texas: "During his recent visit, the Crown Prince, approaching his landing target in Texas, apparently had the plane call for a male air traffic controller to guide the plane down," he said.

President Bush himself went out of his way to offer a friendly Texas greeting to Crown Prince Abdullah.

But the rest of America cannot get over the prominent role of Saudis in the 11 September hijackings.

Right-wingers in Washington - and they are very influential in this administration - want things to change.

William Kristol, editor of the magazine The Weekly Standard, is one such right-winger. He says the US needs to rethink its relationship with Riyadh.

"For we are now at war - a war with terror and a war with terror's main sponsor in the world, radical Islam," he says.

"And in this war the Saudi regime is more part of the problem than part of the solution."

The former CIA director, James Wolsey, even argues for America to work for more fuel efficient cars in order to reduce dependence on Saudi oil - and that is almost a sacrilege on the right of American politics.

Mr Wolsey calls for helping the Russians to produce more oil and for gradually pulling out of Saudi military bases.

"As a general matter, I believe these three steps or steps like them, taken toward reducing our reliance on the Saudis, reducing our reliance on their bases, reducing our reliance on their oil, are very much in the security interests of the United States."

Read the rest at BBC News

May 31, 2003:

Tenet Defends Iraq Intelligence

CIA Director George J. Tenet took the unusual step yesterday of publicly defending the agency's intelligence on Iraq's possession of chemical and biological weapons, amid growing criticism that the Bush administration exaggerated what it knew about Iraqi weapons programs to advance the case for going to war.

The statement by Tenet was a rarity for a director of Central Intelligence, who normally does not react publicly to criticism about intelligence matters except during testimony before Congress. It underscored the ferment building within intelligence agencies because U.S. forces in Iraq so far have not uncovered any proscribed weapons.

Three complaints have been filed with the CIA ombudsman about the administration's possible politicization of intelligence on Iraq, an intelligence official said. He would not describe the substance of the complaints.

One senior administration official said CIA analysts have complained they felt pressured by administration policymakers who questioned them before the war about their assessment of Iraq's arms programs.

"Our role is to call it like we see it, to tell policymakers what we know, what we don't know, what we think, and what we base it on," Tenet said in a statement released by the CIA. "The integrity of our process was maintained throughout and any suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong."

Read the rest at the Washington Post

May 31, 2004:

Where Does Iraq Stand Among U.S. Wars?

With more than 800 U.S. military personnel killed and more than 4,600 wounded, U.S. casualties in Iraq over the past 14 months now compare to those of several of the smaller wars in the nation's history.

In total casualties -- that is, combined dead and wounded -- the U.S. military now has suffered more in Iraq than in the Spanish-American War. The wounded tally in Iraq -- but not the death total -- has surpassed the figures for the War of 1812 and the Mexican War.

Some military historians and other specialists are beginning to see the Iraq campaign as at least as significant as those other conflicts in its impact on the nation's politics and public opinion.

"Iraq began as an intervention, has now become a minor war and stands to become a medium war as time passes," said Kalev Sepp, a former Special Forces officer who teaches defense analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School.

"The Iraq war is a genuine minor war in the American experience," said James Burk, a military sociologist at Texas A&M University and one of the nation's leading experts on the impact of military casualties on public opinion.

By that, Burk said, he meant that it has become "at least the equal of the Mexican War and Spanish-American War in its capacity to make or break political leaders and eventually to affect who Americans think they are in the world."

With the Iraq war still going on, it is impossible to predict how historians and the rest of the American public will ultimately regard it. Burk and others warn that if the pace of casualties in Iraq keeps up, the war's impact on American life could become more like that of the Vietnam War than of those earlier conflicts.

Read the rest at the Washington Post

May 31, 2005:

Iraq insurgency in 'last throes,' Cheney says

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The insurgency in Iraq is "in the last throes," Vice President Dick Cheney says, and he predicts that the fighting will end before the Bush administration leaves office.

In a wide-ranging interview Monday on CNN's "Larry King Live," Cheney cited the recent push by Iraqi forces to crack down on insurgent activity in Baghdad and reports that the most-wanted terrorist leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had been wounded.

The vice president said he expected the war would end during President Bush's second term, which ends in 2009.

"I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time," Cheney said. "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

Read the rest at CNN

May 31, 2006:

Bush sends 1,500 more troops to Iraq and dashes hopes of withdrawal

The US said yesterday it had sent combat troop reinforcements into Iraq, dashing hopes of a substantial withdrawal, as American commanders scrambled to contain a wave of violence and help the new Iraqi government assert control.

About 1,500 soldiers from a reserve force based in Kuwait were deployed in Anbar province, an insurgent stronghold stretching from Baghdad to the Syrian border. The deployment was described officially as "short-term". Military officials quoted anonymously yesterday said it should last no more than four months, but it was a blow to the Bush administration's hopes of bringing troops home after the formation of the new government in Baghdad. There were about 130,000 US troops in Iraq before the deployment and that figure is unlikely to change for several months, military officials said.

Read the rest at the Guardian