Guerilla attacks kill US soldiers

AFP photo

Caption reads: "An Iraqi youth celebrates in front of a burning US army vehicle following an ambush on a US army convoy in the town of Khaldiyah, 80 kms west of Baghdad. The Dubai-based Al-Arabiyah television station said in an unconfirmed report that eight US soldiers were killed in a series of attacks on the US convoy".

I don't know how widespread the phenomenon of Iraqis celebrating when US forces are attacked is, but it is something that is appearing more and more frequently in news reports. "Hearts and minds"...

It is impossible to be more specific about the number of US soldiers killed in the series of attacks on Thursday. Clear information is not forthcoming from US Central Command. Reuters and AFP both report that 3 were killed in an attack near Tikrit, while several were wounded in another attack near Khaldiyah - the aftermath of which is pictured above. Al Arabiyah reported up to 8 dead in that attack.

The New York Times also reported 3 killed. It says something about the situation in Iraq when the Times can report (with a straight face, of course) that these attacks "shattered a two-day lull in deadly attacks". Wow... two whole days without US soldiers dying. One wonders how three days would have been described - as a virtual paradise on earth, no doubt, that was unexpectedly wrecked by "terrorists". Then, a little later in the article: "The Tikrit attack was the first deadly assault on American forces here since Monday". A little further, we find this bland description of the Khaldiyah attack: "Several news organizations tonight quoted witnesses as saying that two or more American soldiers had died in the attack in Khaldiya, but Amy Abbott, an American military spokeswoman, said soldiers were only wounded" (emphasis added). Yes, I suppose that the army, in conjunction with the Times, is very happy to describe these soldiers, probably burnt beyond all recognition, as "only wounded".

Clearly, the NY Times, like the rest of the US media, is avoiding the subject of what is really happening in Iraq, both to US soldiers and Iraqi citizens - the death, the shattered bodies and minds, reality in general. I suppose it doesn't want to upset its delicate readership's stomachs. But, then again, when these soldiers come back (if they live at all, that is), it won't be the NY Times editors who are caring for their useless bodies. Kicking ass and simplistic flag-waving patriotism is fine, but cleaning up the mess made of people's lives is someone else's business.

Moving on, it appears that the US military is confused about what direction it wants to take its occupation of Iraq. On the one hand, we read that the occupational authority is studying ways of "easing" the occupation's impact on civilians, including relaxing curfews, withdrawing US forces from population centers, and opening up traffic routes. On the other hand, we also see that the US military has expressed interest in the Israeli military's occupational tactics in Palestine - tactics which are the exact opposite of the stated goals above.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I read things like this:
The [Israeli] "code of conduct" includes principles such as not shooting at anyone who is surrendering, showing respect for religious and cultural artifacts and providing medical care to anyone injured - conditions permitting.

[Israeli military official] Guiora said the software, which is currently being distributed to junior commanders in military, also includes scenarios often encountered by troops.

In one, he said, two soldiers drive up to a pile of rocks blocking the road and are told it may be mined. What to do - call mine-clearing experts, remove the rocks themselves, or get some Palestinians to do it? Anyone choosing the last option is disabused by the program.
"Hearts and minds..."

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