[Marxism] Sadrist victory

Joaquín jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Sun Aug 29 19:51:26 MDT 2004


>>Did some marine colonel order the attack or did Negroponte ok it?
Impossible to tell at this time, but whatever the truth of the matter,
we should know that Najaf 2 has turned out to be a major disaster for
the Occupation.<<

The NY Times had it that way in a big summing-up story they did about 2
weeks ago. Unforutnately that story is now inaccessible. That story said
the initial Marine provocations and first big push against the militia
wasn't consulted with the chain of command up in Baghdad. The account in
that story matches how Al Jazeera and others have described the
evolution of the confrontation. 

The Longer NYT version if now behind their $$$ wall, but there is a
shortened version still accessible from Indystar.com
<http://www.indystar.com/articles/7/171252-1377-010.html>.

I think it is indicative of something that while many other Berenson
and/or Burns pieces from August were posted to all sorts of papers and
can be found via Google News (literally hundreds of them), this is the
only extant version on the open internet accessible of this article, and
it is greatly shortened. 

I think it shows the collective fear of editors and publishers of coming
out with anything that seems in the least bit critical of the Bush party
line. 

This also has been very evident in the Swift boat controversy, when what
was clearly and incontrovertibly a sewer rat smear of Kerry has been
given tremendous impact by "on the one hand, on the other" and "he
said/she said" reporting in pretty much all the mainstream media. 

So much so that the LA Times ran a pretty scathing editorial that
all-but-said it was time for their colleagues in the newsroom to call a
lie a lie. Unfortunately that is not going to happen any time soon; over
the past decade or so most newsrooms have been purged of the
post-Vietnam and post-Watergate generation of reporters. 

A case in point is CNN: there are, I think, only a couple of people from
those that the first Gulf War made famous still on the air on any CNN
networks: Jose Levy, the Spanish Jerusalem correspondent, ex Jerusalem
Post staffer Wolf Blitzer, and Christianne Amanpour, who is supposedly
CNN's chiefest foreign correspondent but I think is considered way too
butch to get much airtime on CNN's domestic network anyways. Also, her
marriage to Jamie Rubin, John Kerry's version of Condy Rice, doesn't
help matters much.

Joaquín

*  *  *

Marines picked Najaf fight without Pentagon's OK
Officers turned a firefight with cleric's forces into bloody eight-day
battle, political stalemate.

By Alex Berenson and John F. Burns
The New York Times
August 18, 2004
 
NAJAF, Iraq -- Just five days after they arrived here to take over from
U.S. Army units that had encircled Najaf since an earlier confrontation
in the spring, new Marine commanders decided to smash guerrillas loyal
to the rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

In recent interviews, the Marine officers said they turned a firefight
with al-Sadr's forces on Aug. 5 into a eight-day pitched battle --
without the approval of the Pentagon or senior Iraqi officials. It was
fought out in bloody skirmishes in an ancient cemetery that brought them
within rifle shot of the Imam Ali Mosque, Shiite Islam's holiest shrine.
Eventually, fresh Army units arrived from Baghdad and took over Marine
positions near the mosque, but by then the politics of war had taken
over and the U.S. force had lost the opportunity to storm al-Sadr's
troops around the mosque.

Now, what the Marines had hoped would be a quick, decisive action has
bogged down into a stalemate that appears to have strengthened the hand
of al-Sadr, whose stature rises each time he survives a confrontation
with the U.S. military. Just as seriously, it might have weakened the
credibility of the interim Iraqi government of Prime Minister Ayad
Allawi, showing him, many Iraqis say, to be alternately rash and
indecisive, as well as ultimately beholden to U.S. overrule on crucial
military and political matters.

As a reconstruction of the battle in Najaf shows, the sequence of events
was strikingly reminiscent of the battle of Fallujah in April. In both
cases, newly arrived Marine units immediately confronted guerrillas in
firefights that quickly escalated. And in both cases, the U.S. military
failed to achieve its strategic goals, pulling back after the political
costs of the confrontation rose.

Fallujah is now essentially off-limits to U.S. ground troops and has
become a haven for Sunni Muslim insurgents and terrorists menacing
Baghdad, U.S. commanders say.

The Najaf battle also has raised fresh questions about an age-old
rivalry within the U.S. military -- between the no-holds-barred,
press-ahead culture of the Marines and the slower, more reserved and
often more politically cautious approach of the Army. In Iraq,
Army-Marine tensions have surfaced previously, notably when Marine units
opened a major offensive in Fallujah this spring, vowing to crush rebels
entrenched there before they, too, were ordered to pull back.

As they replay the first days of the Najaf battle, some commanders are
wondering if a more carefully planned mission would have had a better
chance to succeed.

"Setting conditions for an attack requires extensive planning and
preparations," said Lt. Col. Myles Miyamasu, who commands an Army
battalion that arrived to reinforce the Marine unit here two days after
the fight began. "If you don't have those things in place and you
attack, a lot of times it fails."

When the United States transferred power to the interim government in
late June, both U.S. and Iraqi officials insisted that authority for
major decisions on the use of force would be exercised by the new Iraqi
leadership, in particular Allawi, a former enforcer for Saddam Hussein's
Baath Party who defected in the 1980s and became leader of an exile
political party. Senior U.S. military commanders stressed that while
they retained command of their troops, the forces were there to serve
the Iraqi government.

But in the battle in Najaf, at least, the Marines here say that they
engaged al-Sadr's forces at the request of the local Iraqi police. They
did not seek approval from more senior military commanders or from Iraqi
political leaders, with the exception of the governor of Najaf.

The governor, Adnan Al-Zurfi, an Allawi appointee, refuses to confirm
having given the green light, although U.S. commanders in Baghdad cited
his commands repeatedly as the political cover for the Marine attack.

*  *   *

Joaquín





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