Thursday :: Nov 4, 2004

Not Getting Their Tails Caught In The Door


by pessimist

George's claims that things are getting better in Iraq aren't matched by the actions of his allies - or of his own cabinet officers.

Colin Powell Believes U.S. is Losing Iraq war
Also at Salon.com [subscription/day pass]
31 October 2004

Secretary of State Colin Powell has privately confided to friends in recent weeks that the Iraqi insurgents are winning the war, according to Newsweek. The insurgents have succeeded in infiltrating Iraqi forces "from top to bottom," a senior Iraqi official tells Newsweek in [the 11/1/4] issue of the magazine, "from decision making to the lower levels." This is a particularly troubling development for the U.S. military, as it prepares to launch an all-out assault on the insurgent strongholds of Fallujah and Ramadi, since U.S. Marines were counting on the newly trained Iraqi forces to assist in the assault. Newsweek reports that "American military trainers have been frantically trying to assemble sufficient Iraqi troops" to fight alongside them and that they are "praying that the soldiers perform better than last April, when two battalions of poorly trained Iraqi Army soldiers refused to fight." If the Fallujah offensive fails, Newsweek grimly predicts, "then the American president will find himself in a deepening quagmire on Inauguration Day."

Too late by then for the American voters to do anything about him, though! There is also zero chance of an impeachment. Our only hope now is that True Conservatives like Doug Bandow can have some influence on the conduct of the BFEE/PNAC Petroleum Pirate Posse's Iraqi Petroleum Plunder Plan:

Withdrawal is the only honorable way out
By DOUG BANDOW

Iraq has become the central issue in America's presidential campaign, but neither candidate has a solution for a conflict that has cost more than 1,100 American lives. Unfortunately, the killing will continue until the United States and its allies withdraw their forces, leaving Iraq to the Iraqis. America's dead "have made the ultimate sacrifice defending freedom," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. They have made the ultimate sacrifice, but, sadly, we know that the war was a mistake.

The U.S. does not control its destiny in Iraq. Polls indicate that the vast majority of Iraqis view American forces as occupiers and want them out. If the Iraqis get a government that truly represents them, it will demand that Washington go home. If elections produce a regime seemingly more responsive to Washington than to Iraqis, the insurgency will grow. Iraqis are likely to defeat those who now kill coalition personnel only when there is no longer a U.S. presence stoking their anger.

The administration has blundered; its current Iraq policy is unsustainable. The U.S. must pull out. The best option is a quick exit, with a willingness to admit any friendly Iraqis who want to come to America. The withdrawal can't be immediate, but it must be speedy. Even Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld now says that Iraq need not be "peaceful and perfect before we can reduce coalition and U.S. forces."

Washington should begin pulling out its forces, with the goal of a full withdrawal by mid-2005. The exact time frame is less important than the goal: bringing American troops home, and doing so quickly.

"My promise" to those who've died "is that we will complete the mission so that their child or their husband or wife has not died in vain," said Bush.

It does no honor to those who have died to throw away more lives in a vain attempt to establish Western-style democracy on the Euphrates.

The best way to honor America's heroic dead is to never again repeat the Bush administration's misguided rush to war.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a Changed World.

Certainly, the leaders of other countries can see that this is the logical course to take, and are thus taking action the quickest way they can:


Bulgaria To Reduce Troops In Iraq
3 November 2004

Bulgaria's Defense Ministry says it will cut its small military presence in Iraq by over 10 percent next month due to a reduction in its expected military duties. Bulgaria's troop count will fall to 430 after its current soldiers are rotated out and replaced with reserves next month. The NATO newcomer's 483-strong light infantry battalion operates under a Polish-led multinational division. It is in the process of relocating from the flash-point city of Karbala to the south-central town of Diwaniyah. Bulgaria has lost seven of its soldiers during its military presence in Iraq.


Bulgaria Prepares Reduced Iraq Troops
3 November 2004

Bulgaria's fourth infantry unit will leave for Iraq in a reduced staff compared to the currently deployed contingent, Defense Minister Nikolay Svinarov announced on Wednesday. The fourth battalion to take over the coalition peacekeeping mission of Bulgaria from the previous unit will consist of some 430 soldiers instead of 483, as is the current number of staff.

Minister Svinarov attended the last-before-leave tactical drill of the fourth infantry unit held in the Marino Pole training field, where conditions close to those in Iraq were being exercised. Before leaving for Iraq, in the new Eko base in Diwaniya, the fourth battalion will receive its mission certification November 8-12. Meanwhile, the Army Staff announced that Bulgarian unit's vanguard and first echelon have already completed Iraq redeployment from Karbala to Diwaniya.

Bulgaria's neighbor is following closely behind:


Hungary to Withdraw Troops From Iraq
Defense Minister Says Country Waited for U.S. Elections Results Before Deciding
November 3, 2004

BUDAPEST, Hungary - Hungary will withdraw its 300 non-combat troops from Iraq by March 31, the country's new prime minister said Wednesday, contending that staying longer would be an 'impossibility'. "We are obliged to stay there until the (Iraqi) elections. To stay longer is an impossibility," Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany (pronounced JOR-chahn-ee) said at a ceremony to mark the end of mandatory military service in Hungary. The Iraqi elections are due to be held by Jan. 31.

The former communist country, which joined the European Union in May, sent the troops as part of the U.S.-led coalition, but the government has been under mounting pressure from citizens and opposition parties who oppose the soldiers' presence. Recent polls show that about 60 percent of Hungarians wanted the government to withdraw the country's troops from Iraq immediately.

Concerns about Hungary's security increased after the country was mentioned in a message attributed to al-Qaida as a terrorist target because of its alliance with the United States. "The threat to Hungary is no longer at its borders but often far away," Gyurcsany said. "One of the most important conditions for creating order in Iraq lies ahead of us: the elections at the end of January. After that, the conditions for democratic order, peace and security can be created."

Beginning March 31, "the existence of a stable democratic and safe Iraq has to be created by different means, above all political means. If Iraq is not safe, Hungary not safe," he said.

Gyurcsany, 43, who was elected in September, said last month he did not believe in pre-emptive war. Gyurcsany -- a wealthy businessman who replaced ousted Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy at the end of September -- also said the future of the Hungarian troops in Iraq was "one of the most important decisions" faced by his new government.

Defense Minister Ferenc Juhasz had said the government would await the outcome of the U.S. presidential election before making a decision about Iraq.

The announcement was a symbolic blow to President Bush, who has struggled to keep the U.S.-led multinational force from unraveling since Spain pulled out its 1,300 troops earlier this year. In a telephone conversation with Bush last month, Gyurcsany said his government would "stress continuity in its foreign policy" and remain a "predictable, trustworthy and stable" partner of international cooperation.

Nudging The Lapdog

The interim Iraqi government recently asked Hungary to maintain its troop presence for about another year. In a letter sent to Hungary about three weeks ago, Iraq thanked the country for its contributions so far and asked that the troops' mission be extended by about a year "to help Iraq's stabilization process," government spokeswoman Boglar Laszlo said.

The Fidesz-Hungarian Civic Union, the main center-right opposition party whose support would have been critical in attaining the two-thirds majority in parliament required to extend the Iraqi mission, said it would not likely favor such a proposal.

The New York Times presents the Coalition of the Leaving:


Hungary Joins Others in Pulling Troops From Iraq
November 4, 2004

Hungary announced Wednesday that it would withdraw its 300 troops from Iraq, becoming the latest country in United States-led coalition to bow to public pressure and prepare to bring its soldiers home. The United States had persuaded 32 countries to provide 22,000 soldiers as part of the multinational force established to stabilize postwar Iraq. But over the last few months, a number of countries have withdrawn, some citing the cost but others concerned about security, and many governments face increasing public opposition to the war.

Spain's Socialist government withdrew its 1,300 troops after it swept into power last March, reversing the commitment of the prior center-right government of Prime Minister José María Aznar. The Dominican Republic withdrew 302 soldiers, Nicaragua 115 and Honduras 370. The Philippines withdrew its 51 in July, a month early, after insurgents took hostage a Filipino truck driver working for a Saudi company. Norway withdrew 155 military engineers, keeping only 15 staff members to help NATO train and equip the Iraqi security forces. Poland, the fourth-largest contributor, with 2,400 troops, says it intends to withdraw by the end of next year, and the Netherlands, with 1,400 troops, said this week that the latest rotation of troops would be its last contribution to Iraq. New Zealand is withdrawing its 60 engineers and Thailand said it wanted to bring home its 450 troops. Singapore has reduced its contingent to 33, from 191; Moldova has trimmed its force to 12, from 42.

Two large contributors to the international force - Britain, with 12,000 troops, and Italy, with more than 3,100 - have insisted they will not withdraw.

Note the (mis)Administration spin in this article!


US insists Hungarian troop decision positive, blasts news accounts
AFP: 11/3/2004

WASHINGTON, Nov 3 (AFP) - The United States on Wednesday welcomed Hungary's proposal to extend the mission of its troops in Iraq by three months, but ignored Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany's vow to withdraw them by the end of March 2005. The State Department also complained bitterly about news coverage of Hungary's move to keep its soldiers in Iraq beyond their initial December 31 mandate, and rejected suggestions the withdrawal timetable was a sign the US-led coalition is weakening. "Frankly ... I take some exception to the way people are reporting the decision that Hungary made to extend its time in Iraq by three months," spokesman Richard Boucher said. "That's the decision that Hungary made. That's what the Iraqi government requested.

"The Iraqi government requested that they extend their time for a period like this," he told reporters. "That's the news today and that's good and we welcome that."

Hungary has 300 troops in Iraq serving in the coalition but their deployment is unpopular and Gyurcsany is facing growing calls for the soldiers to be pulled out. Earlier Wednesday in Budapest, the prime minister said the troops would remain in Iraq through elections set to be held by the end of January, but would not stay beyond past March 31. "To stay there until the elections are held is our duty," Gyurcsany said. "To stay there much longer is impossible. That is why by March 31, 2005, we are withdrawing our troops from Iraq."

Gyurcsany's Socialist-Liberal coalition government needs a two-thirds parliamentary majority to extend the mandate of the troops beyond December 31. The defense ministry said the request would be made to lawmakers on Monday. Hungary is one of 30 countries that contributed troops to the US-led force in Iraq in March 2003. Several allies have since withdrawn, including the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Spain. Washington has expressed disappointment at those pull-outs, but Boucher refused to accept Hungary's stance as a defeat and said decisions on deployments had to be made by each coalition member's government in consultation with the military. "We've always said that these military adjustments need to take into account the situation on the ground, need to be based on the situation on the ground," he said. "Some people arrive and some people go and some people expand and some people cut down."

This is the reason why they are spinning so hard:


Fears of coalition's unraveling
November 4, 2004

Hungary's prime minister said yesterday that the country's 300 troops stationed in Iraq will return home by the end of March. "We are obliged to stay there until the elections" in Iraq, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany told reporters yesterday at a briefing in Hungary. "To stay longer is an impossibility." About 82 percent of Hungary's population opposed military action in Iraq under any circumstances, according to a Gallup poll published in January 2003. Opposition parties increased their calls for a withdrawal in June when a Hungarian soldier was killed. Hungary's announcement came weeks after the Netherlands made public its own intentions to withdraw its troops, now stationed in the southern region of Al-Muthanna, in March "barring unforeseen circumstances."

Some State Department officials fear the Hungarian withdrawal, which represents a delay from its original mandate but will take place alongside a gradual reduction of Poland's 2,500 troops and the pullout of 1,354 troops from the Netherlands, is a sign that the international coalition in Iraq will unravel after Iraq's scheduled elections in January. "This could be the beginning of the end of the significant European contribution," State Department officials wrote in a brief, unofficial analysis last month that counted a handful of countries that could pull out next year. The assessment was made available to the Globe. Poland's planned reduction is particularly significant, given that Polish forces command the 8,000-strong international contingent in southern Iraq.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday that "it's too early now to start predicting a mass exodus or departure" of coalition countries in Iraq. But privately, State Department officials express concern that the departures could trigger a domino effect. "A Dutch decision to withdraw its roughly 1,345 troops (one of the largest contributions to the coalition) could have a serious chilling effect on other European governments' willingness to extend deployments in Iraq," said the departmental analysis, which was forwarded to some offices of congressmen. "The Netherlands is one of our strongest allies in Europe, and their former foreign minister is now the secretary general of NATO." Allawi's request to extend the troops' mandate beyond March, and the US request to extend through next summer, was turned down last month by the Dutch defense minister, Henk Kamp. The Netherlands already had extended its troops' original mandate by eight months.

Exodus

Eight countries have already pulled out of Iraq, most notably Spain, whose departure helped trigger the withdrawal of Honduras and the Dominican Republic in May. The Philippines pulled out its tiny force in July, capitulating to the demand of a terrorist group that had taken a citizen hostage. Thailand left in late August 2003, and New Zealand left two months ago. Singapore did not extend its three-month contribution of a KC-135 tanker aircraft.

This last about Singapore is an update from the NYT list of the Coalition of the Leaving above. They will soon be leaving as well.

Those withdrawals have been partly offset by the redeployment of about 850 British Black Watch troops from their southern post to near Baghdad, and possible plans for an increase in troops from Georgia, Albania, and Thailand.

Remember - Thailand has a growing Muslim unrest that just might cause these troops to be withdrawn for use at home, and Georgia has the possibility of facing renewed troubles due to the Chechen situation just across their border. Thus, neither should be considered a solid participant in the Iraqi Occupation. Even Poland tends to hedge their commitment:


Poland not to withdraw troops from Iraq
2004-11-04

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said Wednesday that Hungary's decision to pull out of its troops from Iraq will not influence his country. He said Hungary has the right to make its own decisions. Poland also wishes to withdraw its troops and cut the number of soldiers there, but his country has to strictly abide by the withdrawal schedule and complete its mission to maintain stability in Iraq. Poland has 2,400 soldiers in Iraq, following the United States,Britain and Italy.

Here's what Kwasniewski had to say just a month ago:

Polish troops may leave Iraq by end of 2005: president
October 05, 2004

Visiting Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said in Paris Monday that his country may withdraw all its troops from Iraq by the end of next year. Kwasniewski said after talks with French President Jacques Chirac that the pullout will begin in January 2005 and Warsaw hopes "to finish our mission at the end of 2005." When asked if there is a firm date for finishing the pullout, the Polish president replied, "No, this has not been decided."

Poland, a key US ally, has sent 2,400 troops to Iraq. However, the country is divided over the Iraq mission. The opposition Polish Peasants' Party has launched a petition seeking an immediate pullout. And a leading member of Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka's junior coalition partner, the Labor Union, had threatened to withdraw his party's support to Belka in an Oct. 15 vote unless the latter first presents a plan for the pullout of Polish troops from Iraq.

Polish Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinksi said earlier that two and a half years in Iraq would be enough for the Polish military, and his suggestion was to withdraw the forces by the end of 2005. However, Szmajdzinksi later said his remarks were just his personal opinions and were not the official government position after Belka expressed displeasure with Szmajdzinksi's public statement.

Kwasniewski said Warsaw is considering such a deadline because the situation in Iraq is expected to change after the January elections that would bring stability to the country. "We decided to speak with the Iraqis and our coalition partners, the United States, about a reduction of the Polish forces from Jan.1, and maybe our mission will finish at the end of 2005," he said.

But Bu$hCo can count on Junichiro! Will Japan see fit to dis-count Koizumi instead?


Koizumi refuses to leave Iraq
October 28, 2004

JAPAN'S prime minister, a staunch US ally in Iraq, refused today to withdraw Japan's troops from the country, taking a tough stance in the face of demands by militants threatening to behead a Japanese hostage unless the soldiers leave. "The Self-Defence Forces will not withdraw," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters as he visited sites in western Japan devastated by a typhoon. "I cannot allow terrorism and cannot bow to terrorism."

The victim - a 24-year-old man said to have entered Iraq as a tourist - appeared in a video posted on a militant website yesterday in which the al-Qaeda linked group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi vowed to kill him within 48 hours unless the demand was met. The hostage video was being shown repeatedly by national broadcaster NHK, posing a new test for Mr Koizumi. His pro-American stand on Iraq has been unpopular, with many Japanese fearing the presence in Iraq could draw Japanese troops into the fighting in a violation of Japan's constitution, and prompt insurgents to target Japanese civilians.

Tokyo has dispatched 500 troops to the southern Iraqi city of Samawah on a humanitarian mission to purify water and rebuild schools in support of US-led reconstruction efforts. Japan's troops are facing increasing hostility in Samawah, which was chosen for its relative safety. An unexploded mortar was discovered inside the Japanese base on Saturday, the first time a projectile had been fired into the camp. There were no injuries.

Let's see what happens should there be a Japanese casualty.

I've been saying for a while that Georgie's 'With us or against us/Go it alone' policies were going to come back to haunt him. The more I read about how the world's countries are abandoning his Crusade for Petroleum demonstrates that this is so. But We the People are the ones who should be very afraid. We have once again allowed him to take four years to wreak havoc upon the world in a vain attempt to keep the extravagant American Party lifestyle going. If, as a commenter in a previous post aserts that karma is real, then George Warmonger Bu$h should be paying a tremendous price. The only karmic retribution I would consider justified would be to have Bu$h return to life as an Iraqi under assault by his PNAC Pirate Posse and have to endure torture at Abu Ghraib.

With photos.


Copyrighted source material contained in this article is presented under the provisions of Fair Use.

FAIR USE NOTICE

This article contains copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of democracy, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material in this article is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

pessimist :: 8:22 AM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!