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US Papers Tue: 4 GIs, Interpreter Die in Mosul
The Language of War Returns to Anbar, Guantanamo Prisoners Return to Iraq
By DANIEL W. SMITH 02/10/2009 02:00 AM ET
The most deadly single incident for US troops in nine months is covered by the Times and the Post, and the troublesome post-election situation in Anbar province is looked at.

From Iraq
There are two articles which report on the death of four US soldiers and an interpreter after a pickup truck filled with explosives rammed into an armored military vehicle and exploded. According to US sources, three of the servicemen died shortly after the explosion, the fourth and the interpreter afterward. Two Iraqi policemen and one civilian were also wounded.

Both Alissa J. Rubin of the New York Times and the Washington Post’s Ernesto Londoño and Qais Mizher give about the same information on the incident, and provide a little context for the security situation in Mosul, where groups like al-Qaeda in Iraq still have a foothold.

Londoño and Mizher follow up on yesterday’s report on a 12 year old girl (originally said to be eight) in Diwaniya who was killed Sunday by US gunfire.
Col. Asaad Malik, the director of the provincial joint coordination center, said American soldiers who were part of a logistics convoy used a loudspeaker to instruct pilgrims to get out of the road. Shortly after the warning, a soldier opened fire, he said. The convoy didn't stop, Iraqi officials said. The U.S. military said in a statement that the weapon "was unintentionally discharged." It did not provide more information about the shooting, which it said is under investigation.
Also, they report that four Iraqi detainees who were recently returned after years at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility face no extra charges in Iraq. Iraq’s minister of justice, Safaa al-Safi, said "There is no reason to keep them in our jails."

Steven Lee Myers and Sam Dagher of the New York Times write that though elections themselves passed with little or no violence, in Anbar province, many fear a return to violence, due to the anticipated results.

Even before the results were announced, the leader of the party now known as the Awakening, Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha, threatened to turn his followers into an “armed wing” to overthrow the provincial government. The head of the Tribes of Iraq bloc, Sheik Hammid al-Hayes, threatened to set the streets of Ramadi ablaze and turn the province into a graveyard.
Rubin lays out the players – the Awakening Party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, Saleh al-Mutlak’s Iraqi National Project, a few others - as coherently as one can be asked to do, and acknowledges the confusing state of things.
Mr. Taha, the winning candidate from Anbar, who was one of the front-runners on Mr. Mutlaq’s slate there, has served as a sports and youth adviser for the region’s governor and was, he claimed, a protégé of Saddam Hussein’s son Uday during the 1990s. (That the governor is affiliated to the Iraqi Islamic Party shows how convoluted politics have become in Anbar and elsewhere.) He said his supporters had been threatened and beaten by police officers loyal to the Islamic Party — before the election and after. “People will be eliminated,” Mr. Taha, 37, warned.
Threats are made, but almost everyone voices a dedication to democracy. “We are armed by papers and evidence,” one leader said of his party’s official complaints, “and paper is the strongest weapon. That is the weapon we will use.” From reading the piece, the question becomes whether the “language of war” is being used simply as a tool, or whether the tactics of war might be employed as well.

Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times writes a review of Thomas E. Rick's new book about the US military's surge strategy, "The Gamble." Mr. Ricks, the senior Pentagon correspondent for The Washington Post, continues where he left off in his 2006 book on an Iraq spiraling out of control, “Fiasco.” Kakutani calls the book “important and chilling”, and writes highly of it.
Mr. Ricks writes as both an analyst and a reporter with lots of real-time access to the chain of command, and his book’s narrative is animated by closely observed descriptions of how the surge worked on the ground, by a savvy knowledge of internal Pentagon politics, and by a keen understanding of the Iraq war’s long-term fallout on already strained American forces.
Ricks’ writing on the surge has been showcased prominently in a two part series on Sunday and Monday in the Washington Post. In “The Gamble,” he gives an interesting assessment to the oft-celebrated surge, since the final outcome is unknown, and a long-term US presence in Iraq is likely. “The best grade” the surge campaign can be given, he says, “is a solid incomplete.”
This volume leaves the reader with an understanding of the hard-won military dynamics of the surge and the professionalism and competence of the generals who designed and executed it. But the dominant impression left by “The Gamble” and “Fiasco” is one of the devastating consequences of an ill-conceived and ill-planned war — an unnecessary war of choice, waged with too few troops and no overarching strategic plan, a war which was going badly but was allowed to continue along the same unfruitful path for three years by a White House “in denial” about its downward trend. It is a war, Mr. Ricks writes, that may well become “America’s longest war, passing the American Revolution and even the Vietnam War.”
Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, no Iraq coverage.

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