The Wall Street Journal's Gina Chon has what is presented as a decent scoop, that the Mahdi Army will completely disarm and Moqtada al-Sadr will focus his movement around "Shi'ite spirituality," devote it to helping Iraq peacefully and social justice. The changes will be announced this Friday in the mosques. But this kind of announcement has been made before, and "rogue elements" within the Mahdi Army have continued to kidnap Iraqis, kill rivals and attack American troops. So it remains to be seen if the militia's actions will match al-Sadr's words. Down in the story, Chon notes that the disarmament is not 100 percent, however, because al-Sadr will continue to direct small, secret armed cells against U.S. troops. So in the end, this sounds like less of a scoop of something new and more of a restatement -- or explanation -- of what al-Sadr declared in recent months.
Sudarsan Raghavan of the Washington Post reports that roadside bombs killed two U.S. soldiers and wounded a third as they patrolled in eastern Baghdad. Other violence included a bomb on Palestine Street that killed two Iraqis and injured 23, a bomb in Dora that wounded two Iraqi cops and a roadside bomb in Diyala that killed two cops and injured three others.
Jim Michaels of USA Today writes that the U.S. has started sending some of the foreign fighters it held in Iraq back to their home countries. The U.S. military holds about 200 foreigners.
Donald G. McNeil Jr. of The New York Times reports on a new medical textbook based on wounds suffered by civilians and soldiers in Iraq, and the Pentagon's attempts to censor the book. There's no doubt that "War Surgery in Afghanistan and Iraq: A Series of Cases, 2003-2007," is a graphic book. But it's a textbook for surgeons and it has to show the effects of EFPs, IEDs, RPGs and host of other, deadly munitions in war. It's an expensively produced book, quietly issued by the U.S. Army, with a forward by ABC correspondent Bob Woodruff. Higher-ups in the Army tried to keep the book out of civilians' hands, but a succession of Army surgeons general made sure the book was released, if only quietly. "The average Joe Surgeon, civilian or military, has never seen this stuff," said Dr. David E. Lounsbury, one of the book's three authors. "Yeah, they've seen guys shot in the chest. But the kind of ferocious blast, burn and penetrating trauma that's part of the modern I.E.D. wound is like nothing they've seen, even in a Manhattan emergency room. It's a shocking, heart-stopping, eye-opening kind of thing. And they need to see this on the plane before they get there, because there's a learning curve to this." Lounsbury, 58, an internist and retired colonel, took part in the 1991 and 2003 invasions of Iraq and was the editor of military medicine textbooks at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Gordon Lubold of the Christian Science Monitor writes of the U.S. military's attempts to attract and retain native Arabic speakers into its ranks, including paying up to a $150,000 retention bonus. Lubold notes that only Special Forces get that kind of cash.
Gregg Zoroya of USA Today reports the Pentagon is spending $300 million this year to research PTSD and traumatic brain injury. The study is the most spent in one year on military medical research and will fund 171 research projects on the two prevalent injuries.
IN OTHER COVERAGE
New York Times
Stephen Biddle, Michael E. O'Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution have one of their quarterly op-eds detailing what's going well in Iraq and what's going not quite so well (but still on an upward trajectory.) However, despite gains, the U.S. can't leave soon because the Sunnis and Shi'ites are not yet ready to live together.
Wall Street Journal
Bret Stephens claims the Iraq war is over and the U.S. won, so Francis Fukiyama owes him $100. Yes, it's about as ridiculous as it sounds.