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A History of Violence...
This post is about 2008. More importantly it's also about 2009 and all the years thereafter. But we're going to drop back in time just a bit first - please bear with me.
We're heading for Baghdad, late 2003 and early 2004. Steven Vincent is our tour guide - there is no better. He is dead, of course, but because of that he's frozen in time via his writing. Our vehicle for this trip is In The Red Zone: A Journey Into The Soul Of Iraq, his chronicle of his journeys in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. To read it now is to be reminded of things forgotten - or nearly so.
He titled chapter two "An image of Hadeel" - after a picture of an Iraqi girl he had seen on a wall in Baghdad...
The photo - actually a color Xerox - showed a pretty, rather plump , reddish-haired Iraqi woman smiling at the camera, a Santa Claus cap perched on her head. Her name, according to an inscription printed beneath her image, was Hadeel..."At the time of the photograph" our tour guide informs us, "the 29 year old had just gotten engaged, the nuptials set for mid-February."
The cautious reader will have a sense of foreboding at this point, a nagging urge to click away, go no further, advance no more...
Caught in an unguarded moment of laughter, hair mussed, eyes gleaming, the silly mirth of an office Christmas party behind her, Hadeel seemed like any young woman the world over who was anticipating marriage, children, and a happy future growing old with her husband.She was killed by a suicide bomber driving "a flatbed truck carrying a thousand pounds of plastic explosives and several 155mm artillery shells... It seemed the shaheed had intended to ram his truck into the CPA compound, but had prematurely detonated the device in rush hour traffic."
But Hadeel was dead.
Trapped inside the car as she waited to enter for work, Hadeel burned to death.
The people who killed her have supporters in the United States:
Were we as anti-war activists in the US really resisting? And if not, what would have to change?We'll get around to sourcing that quote later - for now I'll only hint that the author has something in common with Hadeel, though she herself was never burned to death in a car on her way to work by people with a "right to resist".
We must begin by really standing with the Iraqi people and defending their right to resist. I can remain myself against all forms of violence, and yet I cannot judge what someone has to do when pushed to the wall to protect all they love.
That last quote was from 2005, by the way. Terrorist apologists were fairly common in that year, four years after 9/11, two years into Iraq. It was a year in which three elections were held in Iraq, a year in which Steven Vincent was killed in Basra, and a year I documented a number of atrocities committed by the "resistance":
The suicide attack that was performed on an election center in one of Baghdad's districts (Baghdad Al-Jadeedah) last Sunday was performed using a kidnapped "Down Syndrome" patient.
Eye witnesses said (and I'm quoting one of my colleagues; a dentist who lives there) "the poor victim was so scared when ordered to walk to the searching point and began to walk back to the terrorists. In response the criminals pressed the button and blew up the poor victim almost half way between their position and the voting center's entrance".
A Shia Muslim from the Sadr City slums of Baghdad, Ahmed had joined the new Iraqi National Guard, only to be killed in his patrol car when a bomb planted by insurgents exploded.
The next day, as his family took his coffin for burial in the holy Shia city of Najaf, 100 miles south of Baghdad, they were stopped at what purported to be a police checkpoint near the town of Iskandaria and ordered out of their minibus.
Insurgents wearing fake police uniforms shot and beheaded six of the mourners, including Ahmed's mother. Then they ripped Ahmed's body out of the coffin and decapitated him too.
BAGHDAD -- A suicide bomber in an explosives-laden SUV killed at least 27, including an American soldier, late this morning in the deadliest insurgent attack in more than two months.
Many, if not most of the dead were children loitering and playing near U.S. soldiers at an impromptu checkpoint in Baghdad al-Jadida, a lower-middle class residential district populated by Shiites, Sunnis and Christians.
At the nearby Kindi hospital, hundreds of distraught parents mingled in blood-soaked hallways shouting and screaming as they looked for their children, many of whom were badly mutilated.
"If we are fighting a war against terrorism, terrorism impacts innocent people, so we want to show them that we're against that, and that's why we need to help these families that are so desperate."
Marla's campaign led her to Afghanistan and Iraq, while bullets were still flying and explosions were part of the daily routine. A terrorist killed her last Saturday as she and Faiz, CIVIC's Iraq Country Director, traveled to visit an Iraqi child injured by a bomb. She was 28.
The group said in a statement posted on the Internet that it had killed the envoy, Ihab al-Sherif, but it did not say when or how. The group said "that the verdict of God has been implemented against the ambassador of the infidels, the ambassador of Egypt, thank God."
"Egypt is one of those at the forefront of the war on Islam and Muslims," the statement said. "Its jails are full of mujahedeen." It showed a video of the blindfolded diplomat identifying himself but, unlike in other kidnappings, it did not show the killing itself, according to the Associated Press.
Iraq's most feared terror group warned foreign diplomats yesterday to flee the country after announcing it will put to death two kidnapped Moroccan Embassy employees.
The warning came in a statement posted on an Islamist Web site in the name of al Qaeda in Iraq, which also claimed responsibility for the July kidnap-slaying of two envoys from Algeria and one from Egypt as well as the abduction and beheading of many other foreigners.
To win the war against the US military and Badr, Colonel Jassam advises the Omariyun to follow two short-term goals - to cement mujahideen control over the Ramadi area, and to stage operations that will increase pressure on US opinion to withdraw troops.
To achieve their second goal, turning Americans against the war, the mujahideen need to shape their operations "to support anti- war sentiment in the west", he says.
And I watched a car bomb burn at a police check point in Tall 'Afar, the explosion killing no one but the people inside the car -- a man, a woman and two young children.
A suicide attacker steered a car packed with explosives toward U.S. soldiers giving away toys to children outside a hospital in central Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 31 people. Almost all of the victims were women and children, police said.
"It was an explosion at the gate of the hospital," a woman who had wounds on her face and legs told the AP. "My children are gone. My brother is gone."
With no room left at the hospital, emergency workers rushed victims to hospitals in Baghdad, about 15 miles to the north. And when the hospital morgue was full, the workers were forced to place the dead in the hospital garden so family members could find them.
But Shaya said he was injured even before he went on the mission when insurgents detonated a truck bomb he was supposed to leave at a target site.
"They asked me to take the truck near a concrete block barrier before turning to the right and leaving it there," he says. "There, somebody will pick up the truck from you," they told him.
"But they blew me up in the truck," he says.
Ahmed's truck bomb killed nine people, including a family of seven in their house nearby.
"Terrorism was in London. Terrorism was in Spain. Terrorism was, obviously, in the United States.
"That's completely separate from what's going on in Iraq. Iraq is an insurgency.
"Very small proportion of the people that are involved in the insurgency are terrorists or how I would interpret them as terrorists."
- John Murtha
Were we as anti-war activists in the US really resisting? And if not, what would have to change? <...> We must begin by really standing with the Iraqi people and defending their right to resist. I can remain myself against all forms of violence, and yet I cannot judge what someone has to do when pushed to the wall to protect all they love.All from 2005. And 2006 saw even more death and destruction. But the irony within that final quote is that 2006 is also the year that the Iraqi people did find their backs to the wall and increasingly exercised their right to resist - against the people who actually were slaughtering them in the streets. It was the year of the Samarra bombing and the year of "civil war in Iraq" headlines, but it was also the year of Anbar Awakening, and the year America figured things out. It was the year we almost lost, but almost doesn't count. And it was the year I began with a review of 2005 that ended like this:
And now 2006 has begun. As noted here early last year (and repeated)If you've been reading Mudville for any time at all you must have gotten the message: the insurgents are on the ropes. Make no mistake about it - they are capable of killing people in large numbers, but their political effectiveness is virtually nil."Capable of killing people in large numbers" - proven.
"...but their political effectiveness is virtually nil". - Three successful elections in Iraq support the accuracy of the claim. But an unexpected element has boosted the political effectiveness of the killers of children, aid workers, diplomats, and anyone else finding themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time. No matter how high the body count or how heinous their crimes, terrorists now believe they have allies who won't abandon their cause - and that faint glimmer of hope seems to be all they need.
To win the war against the US military and Badr, Colonel Jassam advises the Omariyun to follow two short-term goals - to cement mujahideen control over the Ramadi area, and to stage operations that will increase pressure on US opinion to withdraw troops. <...> To achieve their second goal, turning Americans against the war, the mujahideen need to shape their operations "to support anti- war sentiment in the west", he says.By 2007, they could time their most heinous attacks to coincide with US Congressional votes - and few would even notice the connection...
Reid, the Senate's top Democrat, described part of a meeting with Bush at the White House on Wednesday -- the same day bombs killed almost 200 people in Baghdad in the worst day of violence since a U.S.-backed security crackdown was launched there earlier this year.But 2007 was the year we won the war. We poured in troops and got things done and while strident voices on the home front demanded we abandon Iraq (and some would maintain the 2006 fiction that we were "caught in the crossfire of a civil war") none would dare argue the 2005 point that we were fighting against a righteous and noble "resistance".
"This is the message I took to the president," Reid said at a news conference.
"Now I believe myself ... that this war is lost, and that the surge is not accomplishing anything, as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday," said Reid, of Nevada.
What if we had chosen another course? What if we had pulled back instead of pushing forward? One possible answer can be gleaned from the British experience of the last three years - an experience I documented here. In compiling that I realized that in hindsight - even more so than when new - Steven Vincent's posts from Basra were amazing. They filled a huge gap in the narrative of Southern Iraq, and revealed a population begging the British to remain in force or for the more "aggressive" Americans to replace them - even as our allies acted on the theory that their presence was only making things worse, that only if left to themselves would the Iraqis work things out. The failure of that theory is evident now - in hindsight - but the warning signs were glaringly obvious if one reads the first-hand accounts of Basra in 2005 that cost Steven Vincent his life.
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 08/21/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.Posted by David M at August 21, 2008 02:20 PM
As usual a great look back. Concise, accurate and leaves wanting "the rest of the story". '05-'06...my time in the sand on loan to the Army as well. Damn sure glad the headlines are different today than back then!
Press on to victory! Never forget.