Monday, August 27, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- August 27th edition

August 27, 2004: Thousands of pilgrims stream into Najaf after militants left, handing the keys to its shrines to religious authorities after Iraq's top Shiite cleric Sistani brokered a peace deal to end three weeks of fighting between U.S. forces and members of Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.

August 27, 2002:

Rumsfeld on Iraq: U.S. will be right

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Tuesday the decision on whether to attack Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will be based on leadership, not consensus, despite growing public anxiety about the prospect of war.

"It's less important to have unanimity than it is to be making the right decisions and doing the right thing, even though at the outset it may seem lonesome," Rumsfeld told Marines here.

He said history has shown that when the United States makes right decisions, "other countries do cooperate and they do participate."

"Leadership in the right direction finds followers and supporters, just as the leadership of the United States in the global war on terror has found some 90 nations to assist and to cooperate," he said.

The defense secretary said U.S. leaders and those in other countries are engaged in an important and serious discussion on Iraq, weighing the advantages of acting against Saddam versus the "advantages of not acting."

He said Bush has yet to reach a decision on the matter, but he is confident the president "will find his way to the right decision."

Read the rest at CNN

August 27, 2003:

Bush: U.S. Faces 'Hard' Task in Iraq

President Bush sought today to steel the country for more hardship in Iraq, cautioning that the fight will require a large and sustained commitment of American resources but that there is no alternative to complete victory.

"Retreat in the face of terror would only invite further and bolder attacks," Bush said before thousands of veterans at the American Legion convention here. "There will be no retreat."

Bush's speech, coming on the same day the number of postwar U.S. losses in Iraq surpassed the number killed in the spring war, did not directly address complaints that have been leveled against him by Democrats and Republicans that he is committing inadequate troops and funds to Iraq. But Bush addressed a growing public concern about the occupation by saying success in Iraq is necessary for success in the war on terror and pledging that he will do whatever it takes to win.

"Building a free and peaceful Iraq will require a substantial commitment of time and resources, and it will yield a substantially safer and more secure America and the world," Bush said, vowing to work with Congress to provide the necessary funds. "More progress will come in Iraq, and it will require hard and sustained efforts"...

As top White House aides have done in recent weeks, Bush today likened the effort to transform Iraq and the Middle East to the reconstruction of Germany and Europe after World War II, which he called a "massive undertaking" that "took years, not months."

The administration's commitment to Iraq and the Middle East has been significantly less than U.S. efforts to rebuild foes after the world war. Under the four-year Marshall Plan, the United States provided the equivalent of about $100 billion of economic aid to Europe in today's dollars. But only about $2.5 billion of the $70 billion Iraq spending measure passed this spring is for reconstruction.

Bush continued the administration's argument, made over the past week, that the recent attacks are a positive sign that foes in Iraq have become desperate. "The more progress we make in Iraq, the more desperate the terrorists will become," he said.

He also amplified an argument made by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Monday that "the coalition forces can deal with the terrorists now in Iraq, instead of having to deal with those terrorists elsewhere, including the United States." Today, Bush said that fighting terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere means "our people will not have to confront terrorist violence in New York, or St. Louis, or Los Angeles."

Read the rest at the Washington Post

August 27, 2004:

Aaron Job's second Iraq tour tougher on parents

After weeks of seeing "Najaf" in newspaper headlines and hearing it on an endless stream of broadcast news reports, many Americans may be dulled to the latest twists and turns in that troubled area.
But if your 20-year-old son has been in the thick of the fighting, you hang on every detail.

"I think about it all the time," said Debbie Job of Issaquah. "I can never put it out of my mind."

Even yesterday's reports that Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr had agreed to a peace deal didn't calm Job's concerns. With her son in Iraq, the simple chime of her doorbell makes Job catch her breath. A ring of the telephone can set her heart racing.

And when she hears a car coming down her quiet street, she looks out to make sure it's not "them" — the military officials who notify families of loved ones killed in Iraq.

Gone are the hopes Debbie and Eric Job had that the second Iraq deployment for their son, Marine Cpl. Aaron Job, 20, would be easier for them. Three times this month, news has come of a Marine from Washington state killed in Iraq. Job's former platoon leader was raked by so much shrapnel it's uncertain he'll regain his sight.

Debbie Job recently attended one Marine's funeral, helped collect quilt squares to give to mothers of those killed in Iraq, and has drawn strength from her faith and the companionship of other Marine moms.

The weeks of on-again, off-again combat in the sprawling cemetery of Najaf, where Job has been among 2,000 Marines fighting rebels loyal to al-Sadr, have kept the family on edge.

"It's worse this time," said Eric Job (pronounced "JOBE"). "Fighting a guerrilla war is a lot harder than fighting massed troops."

In a phone call home Aug. 8 — the last time his parents heard from him — Aaron Job himself drew a chilling comparison. Last year, he had described a firefight near the city of Kut as one of the toughest battles he faced. But the fighting in the Najaf cemetery, he told his parents, has been "Kut times five."

"He sounded totally exhausted," Debbie Job said — so tired she at first didn't believe he wasn't injured.

Eric Job, 53, a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam, has been getting up at all hours of the night to click on the television for the latest reports. Then he gets a few hours of sleep before leaving for his job as business-development manager for a security company.

Debbie Job, 46, spends much of her day at her home computer, contacting the mothers of other Marines and tracking the war developments — and news of casualties — virtually hour by hour.

"I need to know what's going on. There are probably a lot of people who don't want to know, but I feel the more I know, the better off I am."

Two weeks ago, she and another Marine mom, Claudia Joines of North Bend, drove to the Yakima Valley to attend the funeral of Marine Sgt. Yadir Reynoso, 27. Although she didn't know Reynoso or his family, he was based in the same camp with her son at Najaf, and she wanted to show her support for his family.

Whenever she leaves home, Job forwards her home phone to her cellphone number, so she won't miss any call from — or about — her son.

Still, her fear can be nearly paralyzing, as it was one afternoon early this month. While visiting a friend in Maple Valley, Job heard that two Marines had been killed and 12 others injured in Najaf.

The next time her cellphone rang, and indicated it was from an "unknown" number, she froze.

"I couldn't even answer it. I was just freaking out," she said. She told herself that because it was a phone call, Aaron might be injured, but not dead, because when a death occurs, the military notifies the family in person, not by phone.

"So I answered, and it was some stupid survey," she said. But instead of relief, near-panic set it. "I suddenly thought that since I didn't get a phone call, it was because maybe they [military officials] were waiting at my house."

She was unable to calm down until her friend called and had one of the Jobs' neighbors check to make sure no military car was parked outside.

Read the rest at the Seattle Times

August 27, 2005:

President's Radio Address

Good morning.

In recent days, we have witnessed remarkable events in the broader Middle East. People are making the tough choices necessary for a future of security and hope that will make the region and the world more peaceful.

During the past two weeks, Prime Minister Sharon and the Israeli people took a courageous and painful step by removing Israeli settlements in Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank. I congratulate the Prime Minister for his bold leadership.

Now that Israel has withdrawn, the way forward is clear. The Palestinians must show the world that they will fight terrorism and govern in a peaceful way. We will continue to help the Palestinians to prepare for self government and to defeat the terrorists who attack Israel and oppose the establishment of a peaceful Palestinian state.

We remain fully committed to defending the security and well-being of our friend and ally Israel. We demand an end to terrorism and violence in every form because we know that progress depends on ending terror. And we will continue working for the day when the map of the Middle East shows two democratic states — Israel and Palestine — living side by side in peace and security.

As these hopeful events occur in the Holy Land, the people of Iraq are also making the tough choices and compromises necessary for a free and peaceful future. In January, eight-and-a-half million Iraqis defied the terrorists and went to the polls to vote. Iraq's main ethnic and religious groups made the courageous choice to join the political process. And together, they have worked toward a democratic constitution that respects the traditions of their country and guarantees the rights of all their citizens.

Like our own nation's founders over two centuries ago, the Iraqis are grappling with difficult issues, such as the role of the federal government. What is important is that Iraqis are now addressing these issues through debate and discussion — not at the barrel of a gun. The establishment of a democratic constitution in Iraq, just like the establishment of a constitution in Afghanistan last year, will be a landmark event in the history of the broader Middle East. And it will bring us closer to the day when the nation of Iraq can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself.

The terrorists are trying to stop the rise of democracy in Iraq because they know a free Iraq will deal a decisive blow to their strategy to dominate the Middle East. But the Iraqi people are determined to build a free future for their nation, and they are uniting against the terrorists.

We saw that unity earlier this month when followers of the terrorist Zarqawi tried to force Shiite Muslims to leave the Iraqi city of Ramadi. Sunni Muslims in that city came to the defense of their Shiite neighbors. As one Sunni leader put it, "We have had enough of Zarqawi's nonsense. We don't accept that a non-Iraqi should try to enforce his control over Iraqis."

By choosing to stand with their fellow Iraqis, these Sunnis rejected the terrorists' attempt to divide their nation and incite sectarian violence.

Iraqis are working together to build a free nation that contributes to peace and stability in the region, and we will help them succeed. American and Iraqi forces are on the hunt side by side to defeat the terrorists. As we hunt down our common enemies, we will continue to train more Iraqi security forces.

Our strategy is straightforward: As Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down. And when Iraqi forces can defend their freedom by taking more and more of the fight to the enemy, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned.

Our efforts in Iraq and the broader Middle East will require more time, more sacrifice and continued resolve. Yet people across the Middle East are choosing a future of freedom and prosperity and hope. And as they take these brave steps, Americans will continue to stand with them because we know that free and democratic nations are peaceful nations. By advancing the cause of liberty in the Middle East, we will bring hope to millions and security to our own citizens. And we will lay the foundation of peace for our children and grandchildren.

Thank you for listening.


August 27, 2006:

Iraqi leader denies civil war as 50 people die

On a day in which at least 50 people were killed, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said he did not foresee a civil war in Iraq and that violence in his country was abating.

"In Iraq, we'll never be in civil war," al-Maliki told CNN's "Late Edition" on Sunday.

Attacks on American troops around the Iraqi capital Sunday left six soldiers dead, the U.S. command in Baghdad reported.

Other violence nationwide left more than 130 wounded, local authorities said.

One U.S. soldier was killed by gunfire in eastern Baghdad about 2 p.m. Sunday (6 a.m. ET), while a second was killed by a roadside bomb on the city's west side about half an hour later, according to a U.S. military statement.

The other four soldiers died about 3 p.m., when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle north of Baghdad, the military reported.

U.S. commanders have poured thousands of additional troops into Baghdad in recent weeks in hopes of rolling back sectarian killings that have left thousands of Iraqis dead.

The latest combat deaths bring the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq to 2,621. Seven American civilian contractors of the military also have died in the conflict.

Read the rest at CNN