Wednesday, April 11, 2007

So tell this what 'success' is supposed to look like?

On Tuesday, insurgents waged a pitched, all-day battle in Baghdad against American forces. Four insurgents were killed, and sixteen Americans were wounded. An American helicopter was brought down with small-arms fire, but no casualties were reported in that incident.

The pitched battle in central Baghdad shut down the Sunni-dominated Fadhil and Sheik Omar neighborhoods just after 7 a.m., according to reports from the U.S. military. American and Iraqi troops came under fire during a routine search operation, and true to recent form, the fighting raged until helicopter gunships swooped in, engaging insurgents with machine gun fire.

Sixty miles north of Baghdad, in the mostly Sunni city of Muqdadiyah, a woman with a suicide vest strapped beneath her black abayah blew herself up in the midst of 200 Iraqi police recruits. At least 16 men waiting to learn if they had been hired were killed and scores were injured.

The curfew that was imposed on the capital city on Monday, the anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein, had barely been lifted when artillery fire was heard around the city. A rocket crashed into the playground of a grammar school, killing one student and wounding fifteen students and two teachers.

By days end, 52 Iraqi's had perished, most from Sunni enclaves.

Iraqi president Nouri al-Maliki, traveling in Japan was dismisive of (yet nervous about) the calls for withdrawal of American forces made by firebrand Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as Shi'ites protested in the holy cities of Kufa and Najaf yesterday.

"We see no need for a withdrawal timetable. We are working as fast as we can," al-Maliki told reporters during his four-day trip to Japan, where he signed loan agreements for redevelopment projects in Iraq.

"To demand the departure of the troops is a democratic right and a right we respect. What governs the departure at the end of the day is how confident we are in the handover process," he said, saying "achievements on the ground" would dictate how long American troops remain.

Al-Maliki has repeatedly rejected setting a timeline for U.S. troops to withdraw. He has said it remains impossible to say when his forces will be able to take up full responsibility for security. Beyond that, his government is perilously weak and could easily fall without American backing, both politically and militarily.

American casualties are picking up. At least 45 Americans have been killed in April, four on Tuesday. 3285 Americans have died in Iraq since the invasion was launched four years ago. And for what? I have heard a lot of feeble attempts to justify this bullshit - but none of it stands up to scrutiny.

Saying "we have to win" is not a strategy - in fact, it belies the pathological delusion that permeates this president and the ever-dwindling number of supporters of his war policy - now down around 20%. With every snit-fit he throws, his position erodes and he loses support. So please, Decider - don't you ever shut up.

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