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The Gross National Debt

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

(Cross-posted at Daily Kos)

Like many, I have been following the tragedy at the Sago mine in West Virginia for the past two days.  Last night's events were the devastating culmination of events in Tallmansville, WV and I'm profoundly saddened, on a very human level, with the loss of life and the pain the families must be feeling today.  I did a rare non-political post on my blog this morning, simply to get out in words what I was feeling.

While we've watched the human drama of our working American bretheren, however, things have been escalating to deadly consequences in Iraq.

Make the jump.

Yesterday, US air strikes killed six Iraqis.  From CNN.com:

U.S. air strikes in Bayji north of Baghdad killed six members of a single family, Wamir abd el-Wahab, a spokesman for the Salah ad-Din provincial governor's office, said Tuesday.

El-Wahab said three other family members were seriously wounded in the attack Monday and the father and a daughter survived relatively unharmed.

The house, the spokesman said, was flattened. "Why are they hitting civilians?" el-Wahab asked.

A spokesman for the U.S. military said air operations had taken place in the area overnight but had no further details. He said the incident was under investigation.

I'm guessing, here, that this incident has put a dent in plans to win hearts and minds.

Today, January 4th, has been the deadliest day in Iraq since the December 15 election.  From BBC News:

In the worst attack, at least 36 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a Shia funeral north of Baghdad. Across Iraq, more than 50 people died.

In Washington, President George Bush said the plan in Iraq was going well.

My emphasis added, for sheer irony value alone.  Said the President:

Mr Bush said wide participation in Iraq's election showed the people were buying into the new democracy, and had more confidence in their security.

"The election results served as a real defeat for the rejectionists," he said.

However, after a drop in insurgent attacks around the time of the elections, car bombings and suicide attacks have intensified.

I wonder, if asked today, if those same people would indicate that things are "going well" and would continue to express "confidence in their security"?

The BBC goes on to detail other incidents occurring just today:

  • At least seven people are killed and 13 injured in an attack on the busy commercial market in Baghdad's southern al-Dawra suburb;
  • Five die and 13 are injured when a car bomb explodes outside a police station in the capital's mainly Shia Kadhimiya district;
  • An official at the oil ministry and his son are shot dead in their car in western Baghdad;
  • Roadblocks are set up in Baghdad as police search for the sister of Interior Minister Bayan Jabr who was kidnapped on Tuesday;
  • At least two civilians are killed in Kirkuk as their car is hit by a roadside bomb intended for a US patrol.

Yep.  Going well.  I figure we're about due for loud remonstrations from the administration that the MSM hasn't reported on some school re-opening somewhere in Iraq.  If things go much better, there won't be any Iraqis left to whom bad things can happen.

Finally, also occurring today, Militants in Iraq attacked a fuel convoy.  The convoy, consisting of 60 tanker trucks, lost four vehicles entirely.  An additional 15 were damaged.  The Islamic Army in Iraq is claiming responsibility.

Let's compare this news to public statements by both the President and Vice President, both occurring today.  From the President:

"We also spent time [after a Pentagon briefing] talking about the two major fronts in this war on terror, and that would be Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, 2005 was a year of progress toward meeting our goal of victory."

-snip-

"Now, you've got to understand that just because the elections went forward that doesn't mean these Saddamists, Zarqawi types are going to lay down their arms. They're not. There will still be violence. And there will still be some who believe that they can affect the political outcome of Iraq through violent means. We understand that. And we're going to stay on the offense against these - "we" being coalition forces, as well as the Iraqi forces. But the recent elections have served as a real defeat for the rejectionists, and the Saddamists and al Qaeda types. Sunni Arabs who had boycotted the process, joined the process. And as they did so, those who want to stop the progress of freedom are becoming more and more marginalized inside of Iraq."

Tell that to the dead people.  And I have to include this remark, near the end of Bush's comments:

"There's a lot of work to be done in this war on terror, but the American people can be rest assured this administration understands the task, and understands the challenges, and understands our obligation to protect you, to protect the American people."

(Source)

Conflation, anyone?  Now to the Vice President, from a speech he gave less than an hour ago to the Heritage Foundation:

"Our coalition is helping them to build a secure, hopeful and self-governing nation which will stand as an example of freedom to all the Middle East. We are rebuilding more than a thousand schools, supplying and reopening hospitals, rehabilitating power plants, water and sanitation facilities, bridges and airports. We are training Iraqi police, border guards and a new army, so that the Iraqi people can assume full responsibility for their own security. Iraq now has its own Governing Council, has appointed interim government ministers, and is moving toward the drafting of a new constitution and free elections."

(Source)

I'll let the shameful use of the word "coalition" pass.

Lest we forget, let these figures from Antiwar.com serve as a reminder of our "success":

American Deaths

  • Since war began, 3/19/03:  2,181
  • Since "Mission Accomplished", (5/1/03):  2044
  • Since Capture of Saddam, 12/13/03:  1714
  • Since Handover, 6/29/04:  1315
  • Since Election of 1/31/05:  743

Antiwar.com points out also that 9,651 American Soldiers have been treated for injuries suffered in Iraq and that estimates for the Iraqi dead range from 27,736 to 31,263.



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