Sunday, October 09, 2005

Reality Bites

Front page Iraq stories from across the US, let's start close to home:
The longest year of their lives / As comrades die, soldiers count days: "The 2-7 has lost eight men since the battalion was deployed to Iraq in January. Their portraits line the hallway of the command center, above wooden shelves officers sometimes use to leave their body armor and helmets. Three of the men in the pictures, including Kynoch, were killed in the last two months, as insurgent attacks intensified in the area known as the Sunni Triangle. The soldiers of the 2-7 are taking the latest deaths hard.

'We had gone, at that point, nine months not only without a death, without a casualty,' recalled Capt. Jason Freidt, 31, of Temecula (Riverside County), whose Charlie Company lost Sgt. Kurtis Arcala on Sept. 11."
From the AJC:

“I know my arm’s in here somewhere,” he says. “I’ve just got to find it.”

With the anticipation of a kid on Christmas morning, the 22-year-old Army scout from LaGrange, whose left arm was severed by a roadside bomb in Iraq, hunts for the package containing his first custom-made prosthetic."

Chicago checks in with this story, which also happens to have a cousin in the LA Times.

"Peering at the small screen in her family's apartment, Bishnu Maya Thapa saw the solemn face of her firstborn son. Worried for three weeks, ever since he'd left an alarming phone message, she now saw him posed before a black banner emblazoned with Arabic, holding his passport open with his right hand, just below his chin.

Someone beyond the frame's edge held a rifle's muzzle over Bishnu Hari's head. Alongside him stood 11 other Nepalese men, as if gathered for some kind of class photo. The 12 men had been seized by terrorists in Iraq, the announcer said, the words robbing the mother of her breath.

It had been only seven weeks since she sent her 18-year-old son off to earn a paycheck that would bring their family a better life. But that paycheck was supposed to come from the safety of a five-star hotel in Jordan, not the combat zone of Iraq.

Whether Bishnu Hari and most of the other 11 Nepalis even knew before leaving home that they were headed to Iraq remains a mystery.

At least three did, but they were deceived about key details. Most of the rest, including Bishnu Hari, appear to have been lured with fraudulent paperwork promising jobs at the luxury hotel in Amman.

They learned Iraq was their real destination only after their families went deeply into debt to pay huge sums demanded by the brokers who sent these sons and brothers to the Middle East."
Ok, I went and took my blood pressure pill, let's check in with the LA Times:
"But within the last two months, U.S. analysts with access to classified intelligence have started to challenge this precept, noting a "significant and disturbing disconnect" between apparent advances on the political front and efforts to reduce insurgent attacks.

Now, with Saturday's constitutional referendum appearing more likely to divide than unify the country, some within the administration have concluded that the quest for democracy in Iraq, at least in its current form, could actually strengthen the insurgency.

The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Army Gen. George W. Casey, has acknowledged that such a scenario is possible, while officials elsewhere in the administration, all of whom declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject, say they share similar concerns about the referendum."
Next up Washington:

"Basra, which was long considered one of Iraq's safest cities, has erupted into various forms of violence in recent weeks.

Clashes have broken out between rival Shiite militias: Badr and the Mahdi Army, which is loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, an outspoken critic of the presence of coalition forces in Iraq."

Well wasn't that special.

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