Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- June 20th edition

June 20, 2005: A Marine assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, peers down a pipe to see if there is an underground base during an anti-insurgency operation at Tharthar Lake.

June 20, 2002:

Poll: U.S. should take military action in Iraq

WASHINGTON — A majority of the American public backs sending U.S. troops to topple Saddam Hussein, but support for military action against Iraq has fallen significantly in recent months, a Gallup Poll shows.

The Bush administration has been debating the best way to change the regime in Iraq. Nearly six in 10 Americans (59%) polled favor a military attack. However, that's down from 74% in November, when the war in Afghanistan was at its peak. A third (34%) oppose military action, up from 20%.

Yet the poll also shows that a vast majority, 83%, say removing Saddam should be a top U.S. foreign policy goal. That's down slightly since March, when 88% said Saddam should go. The poll of 519 people Monday-Wednesday has a margin of error of +/-5 percentage points.

President Bush has made clear in recent weeks that he won't wait for Saddam to act first. Under a new first strike policy, the United States would take pre-emptive action against hostile groups and states that are developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

Read the rest at USA Today

June 20, 2003:

Peacekeeping duties in Iraq frustrate some U.S. soldiers

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Facing daily assaults from a well-armed resistance, U.S. soldiers in volatile central Iraq say they are growing frustrated and disillusioned with their role as postwar peacekeepers.

In conversations in a half-dozen towns across central Iraq, soldiers complained they have been insufficiently equipped for peacekeeping and too thinly deployed in areas where they are under attack from fighters evidently loyal to deposed President Saddam Hussein. Others questioned whether the armed opposition to the U.S. presence in Iraq may be deeper and more organized than military commanders have acknowledged.

"What are we getting into here?" asked a sergeant with the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division who is stationed near Baquba, a city northeast of Baghdad. "The war is supposed to be over, but every day we hear of another soldier getting killed. Is it worth it? Saddam isn't in power anymore. The locals want us to leave. Why are we still here?"

Read the rest at the Orlando Sentinel

June 20, 2004:

Talking Iraq: Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid

With voter anxieties about Iraq shadowing this year's campaign, pollster Frank Luntz has some advice for fellow Republicans: Mind your language.

Luntz, according to a strategy paper that fell into the hands of Democrats, says minor changes in language used by politicians can lead to major differences in voter perceptions -- turning a potential liability into an asset.

Among his suggested talking points, in the nine-page section on Iraq and terrorism:

• It's not the war in Iraq -- it's the war on terror. "You will not find any instance in which we suggest that you use the actual word 'preemption' or the phrase 'the War in Iraq' to communicate your policies to the American public. To do so is to undermine your message from the start," it said. "Your efforts are about 'the principles of prevention and protection' in the greater 'War on Terror.' "

• Remember: better there than here. " 'Prevention at home can require aggressive action abroad' is the best way to link a principle the public supports with the policies of the Administration," it said. " 'It is better to fight the War on Terror on the streets of Baghdad than on the streets of New York or Washington.' "

• Don't forget the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. " '9/11 changed everything' is the context by which everything follows. No speech about homeland security or Iraq should begin without a reference to 9/11."

• Don't forget Saddam Hussein. " 'The world is a better place without Saddam Hussein.' Enough said."

• And don't forget the troops. "Nothing matters more than Americans in the line of fire," it said. "Never, ever, EVER give a speech or issue a press release that makes no mention of our troops."

Read the rest at the Washington Post

June 20, 2005:

Iraqi Union Leader Asks For Help To Force U.S. To Withdraw From Iraq

Hassan Juma’a Awad and Faleh Abbood Umara took a quiet boat tour Friday through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, thousands of miles from the port city where they live and work in Basra, Iraq.

Less than two weeks after allied forces entered the southern port city of Basra in 2003, Awad, Umara and other labor activists started the General Union of Oil Workers.

Such unions were outlawed under Saddam Hussein’s rule. And the union still may be illegal, the pair explained after the boat ride.

The two Iraqi men spoke through translators about the challenges today in their native land to about 60 labor leaders and activists opposed to the war at the Harry Bridges Institute & Community Labor Center in San Pedro.

A group called U.S. Labor Against the War is sponsoring the Iraqis’ nationwide speaking tour to talk about conditions in the Middle Eastern nation.

While happy that Hussein is out of power, the Iraqis said that their country’s people and labor rights still suffer.

"I ask you to help us pressure your administration to remove its forces in Iraq so we can rebuild our country," said Umara, 48, general secretary of the oil union. "If they mention the security situation, I say that we are brothers in Iraq. And brothers can fight, but brothers can reconcile."

About 35,000 Iraqis work in Basra’s oil industry, with about 23,000 part of the new union, said Awad, who serves as president.

From a labor perspective, Awad and Umara said they’re especially concerned that the laws forbidding unions in public sector industries haven’t been reversed.

They’re also worried that the Iraqi government and previous U.S. civil administration have pushed the country toward privatizing state-owned industries.

"My understanding is that unions don’t get their legitimacy from the government. Unions rely only on the workers," Awad, 53, said with a defiant tone. "We decided to organize ourselves without relying on the laws."

Awad added that newspapers financed by the Iraqi government regularly praise privatization as a positive step for the people, a notion Awad rejects.

A press officer at the U.S. State Department directed questions about labor laws to the Iraqi government and queries on privatization to the U.S. Agency for International Development.

An official at USAID couldn’t be reached Friday afternoon.

Awad and Umara both are members of the Shiite branch of Islam, which make up a majority of the population in Iraq and Basra.

Umara said people face extreme dangers while traveling to work. He said it’s common for American troops to shoot at Iraqi cars for driving too close.

"It’s like the occupation forces are the people of the land and we’re the foreigners," Umara said.

Read the rest at Ballacio

June 20, 2006:

Cheney Stands by His 'Last Throes' Remark

Vice President Cheney yesterday defended his much-criticized claim a year ago that the Iraq insurgency was in its "last throes" and said he believes that Iraq "turned a corner" last year when its people held elections creating a constitution and a government.

Speaking at the National Press Club, Cheney predicted that 10 years from now people will look back at 2005 and say, "That's when we began to get a handle on the long-term future of Iraq."

Read the rest at the Washington Post