"I like to fight barefoot" vs. "Expect snipers on all minarets"

Anti-U.S. Outrage Unites a Growing Iraqi Resistance (NY Times, April 11)
BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 10 — Moneer Munthir is ready to kill Americans.

For months, he has been struggling to control an explosion of miserable feelings: humiliation, fear, anger, depression.

"But in the last two weeks, these feelings blow up inside me," said Mr. Munthir, a 35-year-old laborer. "The Americans are attacking Shiite and Sunni at the same time. They have crossed a line. I had to get a gun."

Ahmed, a 29-year-old man with elegant fingers and honey-colored eyes, has been planting bombs inside dead dogs and leaving them on the highway. He and a team of helpers have been especially busy recently.

"We start work after 11 p.m.," Ahmed said. "Our group is small, just friends, and we don't even have a name."
The other day, when trouble broke out in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Khadamiya, he dashed home from work, grabbed a clip for his Kalashnikov and took it out front.

"If the Americans come this way, we will fight them," Mr. Muhammad said. "I'm going to defend my house, my street, my land, my religion."

He stood on the sidewalk in sweat pants, without shoes.

"I like to fight barefoot," he said.

Mr. Muhammad said he recently joined the Mahdi Army. And while some of his neighbors watched him admiringly as he strapped on an ammunition belt and gulped down a glass of water before a battle started, others scowled.
A few days after the contractors were killed, United States marines invaded Falluja, 35 miles west of Baghdad, in a major offensive to wipe out the insurgents behind the attack. So far, more than 300 people have been killed.

Before the fall of Saddam Hussein a year ago, young men in this city were told they were the vanguard, the elite, top prospects for top jobs because of their tribal connections and Sunni alliances. Now, they are adrift, subject to the most aggressive American tactics and the full brunt of occupation.

Like the angry youth of the West Bank and Gaza, Iraqi children are increasingly surrounded by music, images, leaflets and praise for fighters. "The men of Falluja are men for hard tasks," sings Sabah al-Jenabi, a popular Iraqi performer, in a song that made the rounds even before the killing of the contractors. "They paralyzed America with rocket-propelled grenades. The men of Islam will fight the Americans like leaderless soldiers. We'll drag Bush's corpse through the dirt."

Abdul Razak al-Muaimy, a 32-year-old laborer, said: "I train my son to kill Americans. That is one reason I am grateful to Saddam Hussein. All Iraqis know how to use weapons."

Fighting barefoot strikes me as the ultimate signature of life and death in the Global South. This is everything we could ever fear, replicated across the country.

It goes without saying that such groups are literally impossible for the U.S. to infiltrate, so the only strategy available is collective punishment, which merely reflects the West Bank. Our leaders believe that this "Mahdi" thing is a concrete object with membership lists and annual tea parties. Is it so hard to believe that they're just plain pissed?

Already, "We think we have taken away a significant capability," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director for operations of the military's task force in Iraq, said in a telephone interview. "It no longer is an offensive threat; but it still remains a threat." General Kimmitt said the order had gone out "to destroy the Sadr militia — deliberately, precisely and powerfully."

But now the militiamen who took control, to varying degrees, in Kut, Kufa, Najaf and a section of Baghdad called Sadr City have broken into small groups, with some already seeming ready to melt away to fight another day. "We believe that many who were wearing the Mahdi Army uniform last Saturday have tucked it under the bed and put their AK's back in the closet," one senior military officer said.

That means detailed intelligence will be required to identify the militia's leadership and important fighters, a factor noted by Mr. Bush in his radio address, which carried a warning of the "struggle and testing" that lay ahead. In Falluja, he said, the Americans "are taking control of the city, block by block." In the south, he said, "they have taken the initiative from al-Sadr's militia."

"Prisoners are being taken, and intelligence is being gathered," Mr. Bush said. "Our decisive actions will continue until these enemies of democracy are dealt with."

Enter Evil Galactic Emperor Palpatine:

The Iraqi army refuses to fight other Iraqis, and of course they have been dissolving all over the place.
British officers in their sector of southern Iraq believe that U.S. troops are just plain brutal. This is further disturbing evidence of the impact that the hi-ranking Pentagon planners have had on America's policy towards Iraqis.

Speaking from his base in southern Iraq, the officer said: "My view and the view of the British chain of command is that the Americans' use of violence is not proportionate and is over-responsive to the threat they are facing. They don't see the Iraqi people the way we see them. They view them as untermenschen. They are not concerned about the Iraqi loss of life in the way the British are. Their attitude towards the Iraqis is tragic, it's awful.

"The US troops view things in very simplistic terms. It seems hard for them to reconcile subtleties between who supports what and who doesn't in Iraq. It's easier for their soldiers to group all Iraqis as the bad guys. As far as they are concerned Iraq is bandit country and everybody is out to kill them."
The officer explained that, under British military rules of war, British troops would never be given clearance to carry out attacks similar to those being conducted by the US military, in which helicopter gunships have been used to fire on targets in urban areas.

British rules of engagement only allow troops to open fire when attacked, using the minimum force necessary and only at identified targets. The American approach was markedly different: "When US troops are attacked with mortars in Baghdad, they use mortar-locating radar to find the firing point and then attack the general area with artillery, even though the area they are attacking may be in the middle of a densely populated residential area.

"They may well kill the terrorists in the barrage but they will also kill and maim innocent civilians. That has been their response on a number of occasions. It is trite, but American troops do shoot first and ask questions later. They are very concerned about taking casualties and have even trained their guns on British troops, which has led to some confrontations between soldiers.

I can't believe they just use the computers to fire back into the general area of mortars--that's appalling and may be a war crime. "Expect Snipers on All Minarets."

Exiles are coming back to fight. This story is reported by Hannah Allam, who as a young female American Muslim, has put herself at great personal risk to report from Iraq, including a daring story I remember from months ago where she went deep into the Sunni Triangle to interview insurgents. This particular story was reported from the dusty back alleys of Amman, Jordan.

These via TPM: Even CIA arch-enemy Novak is taking shots at Bush?! "the generals are silent -- in public. Many confide that they will not cast their normal Republican votes on Nov. 2." Wowza... This Aug. 6 memo zap comes from a disenchanted former Republican bigshot. Disorder up and down their ranks!!!

Judge the Pundits! (via Agonist) Support Erodes. Anger throughout the mideast, as always.

Billmon makes the case that Iraq is now FUBAR to end all Rs. In that thread magurakurin said that

These people in Fallujah are fighting for their homes, they have nowhere to go. It all reminds of a scence in Casablanca When Colonel Strausser asks Rick how he will feel when the Germans march into New York and Bogart replies with something to the effect of "Well, there are some parts of New York that I would advise you not to invade."
How is Iraq any different? Do you think three battalions of any Marines would be able to control Jersey City? How about the Bronx? South Central LA? It's over, we lost.

The troop shortage is a great deal of the problem now. The U.S. literally can't allocate many more marines to crush Fallujah, it's just too big. The whole country is too big.

Patrick Cockburn reports on Apocalypse now? Part 1 in The Independent.

the disasters of the past week, the worst in political terms since President Bush decided to invade Iraq, are in large measure self-inflicted. The US suddenly found itself fighting a two-front war because it over-reacted to pressure, political and military, from important minority groups in the Sunni and Shia communities.

In Vietnam a US commander once said of a village: "We had to destroy it in order to save it." In Iraq the same might apply to Fallujah. It is true that since the war Fallujah has been the most militant and anti-American city in Iraq, but it is not entirely typical. Sunni by religion and highly tribal, it has a well-earned reputation among Iraqis as being a bastion for bandits. Iraqis in Baghdad, even those sympathetic to the resistance, spoke of people in Fallujah pursuing their own private feud with the US.

Yet the US responded to the killing of the four US contractors in Fallujah by sending in 1,200 Marines to launch a medieval siege, one in which they initially refused to allow ambulances in or out. If the Americans really believed they were being attacked by a tiny minority, Iraqis asked, why were they attacking a city of 300,000 people? The result has been to turn Fallujah into a nationalist and religious symbol for all Iraqis.
[Sadr]'s black-clad militiamen, known as the Army of the Mahdi, number perhaps 5,000 men. But as soon as they went on the offensive, they exposed the fragility of US support among the Iraqi police and US-trained paramilitary units, such as the Iraqi Civil Defence Corps, which were expected to assume an increasing share of security duties.

About 200,000 Iraqis belong to these forces. However, confronted by the Army of the Mahdi the police faded away, often handing over their weapons to Mr Sadr's men. As soon as the Army of the Mahdi moved on the city of Kut, on the Tigris south of Baghdad, the police disappeared and the Ukrainian soldiers in the city withdrew.
By dissolving the Iraqi state and dealing only with Iraqis long in exile, the US began to alienate Iraqis as a whole. Mr Bremer and the CPA confined themselves to Saddam's old palaces, and when they visited other cities they were cocooned from the reality of Iraqi life around them, most notably the growing anger at the lack of economic opportunities.

Even now there are only limited signs that Washington and the CPA understand the extent of the political defeat that they have suffered. If they are not prepared to hold Iraq with a large military garrison, they need Iraqi Arab allies - and of these today they have almost none.

The Sharonizing of America: you have to read this, because only an Israeli can understand the synchronicity:

the Americans have supplanted us in the headlines. Their air force carried out targeted assassinations, letting the chips of civilian casualties fly where they may as they lop off the arm of terror. In a confusion of historic images, the Iraqi quagmire was dipped into the Lebanese quicksand with a touch of Vietnam jungle.
The jubilee of Dien Bien Phu: The struggle between the occupation forces and powerful national currents hasn't changed - not in Nablus and not in Baghdad.
However, the peak of the coordination between the two countries is the current situation, in which for the last few years we have been witnessing a kind of Israelization - or Sharonization - of America: in its attitude toward the threats of terrorism, America is talking and behaving in Iraq like the last of the hawks on the Israeli General Staff. Instead of giving Jerusalem an example of political daring, Washington has become a huge version of the Israeli army's "we'll show them" approach. Sharon's visit there next week will look almost like the hosting of the aged mentor by his slightly maladroit disciple.

Daily sites to check (yes, Gerber, this is my belated note to you) would mainly include the Agonist, Juan Cole, Billmon, WarInContext, Dkos, BackToIraq and Josh Marshall's TPM, with a side of TomPaine, Alternet, ZNet, Counterpunch and CommonDreams.

Jesus' General featuring Republican Jesus, is just damn great. RealClearPolitics got a good mention as a well-done conservative blog on Dkos yesterday. Steve Gillard is on point yet again about their "CEO accountability avoidance." Blogging of the President is a nice liberal blog by Jay Rosen (including something about Kurds). INTEL DUMP isn't bad, but fairly aggressive/conservative (to engage in pigeonholing). Mark Kleiman also is a top notch blogger. Tapped is another nice weblog from The American Prospect Online. Counterspin mm mm good. OpenSourcePolitics is kewl.

Empire Notes is posting straight from Baghdad. This is excellent: Turning Tables, a soldier who blogged when he was in Iraq, and has just started up again after returning to civilian life, but of course things have taken their turn:

i'm so torn now...it's hard for me to make an unbiased decision...how do i feel...
revolution is coming...i hope it's averted...but i know it won't be...how do you quench the fire of fanaticism...there is no central command capable of surrender...a million militants/freedom fighters/insurgents...a million roque groups who don't agree with each other...A million places to hide in and fight from...one giant can of shit worms...

Not to be confused with e-rocky-confidential and Iraq Now, other soldiers writing in Iraq.

In the Military-Industrial Feedbag department, consider whereisthemoney.org, charting how many trillions of Pentagon dollars fly out of the Treasury somewhere into CorporateSpace. Compare with CostOfWar.com or its scholarship page.

Some paranoid things I'm throwing in, as long as we are talking about those who were Determined to Strike Inside U.S.: Emperor's Clothes Articles on 9-11. Something paranoid about Kerry and the DLC.

My God, David Brooks is still the most wretched thing to see. Strained cognitive dissonance and silly sources (Lieberman AND a Yale lecturer?! Huzzah!) of the worst sort:

Most important, leadership in the U.S. is for once cool and resolved. This week I spoke with leading Democrats and Republicans and found a virtual consensus. We're going to keep the June 30 handover deadline. We're going to raise troop levels if necessary. We're going to wait for the holy period to end and crush Sadr. As Joe Lieberman put it, a military offensive will alienate Iraqis, but "the greater risk is [Sadr] will grow into something malevolent." As Charles Hill, the legendary foreign service officer who now teaches at Yale, observed, "I've been pleasantly surprised by the boldness and resolve."

Nonetheless, yesterday's defections from the Iraqi Governing Council show that populist pressure on the good guys is getting intense. Maybe it is time to pause, to let passions cool, to let the democrats marshal their forces. If people like Sistani are forced to declare war on the U.S., the gates of hell will open up.

Over the long run, though, the task is unavoidable. Sadr is an enemy of civilization. The terrorists are enemies of civilization. They must be defeated.

Under the mercenary file we should add this NY Times story about how Blackwater was lured into the now-legendary Fallujah ambush. Also consider that the MilCorps are grouping together now: "Each private firm amounts to an individual battalion," said one U.S. government official familiar with the developments. "Now they are all coming together to build the largest security organization in the world." Sounds like SkyNet. A further comment on the condotierri. Of course without sufficient troops they saved the day in Najf before. Hired Guns by Tucker Carlson. Is it Crossfire Tucky Tuck? I can't imagine he'd muss his bowtie.

Texans pray for oil in Israel. Why the hell not?

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