Monthly U.S. toll in Iraq at 2-year high
BAGHDAD — The monthly death toll for U.S. service members in Iraq hit a two-year high Friday.
Three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 were fatally wounded while fighting insurgents in Al Anbar province, bringing the December figure to 107, the military said. That is the highest monthly tally since January 2005, according to the website icasualties.org.
More than half the fatalities in December occurred during attacks involving improvised explosive devices, the website reported.
The remaining troops were killed by gunfire, mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades and in vehicle accidents, including a helicopter crash. Two servicemen died of illness.
The Marine deaths reported Friday brought the number of U.S. military fatalities in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion to 2,996, icasualties.org said, with 816 of them occurring this year. Last year, 846 American service members died; in 2004, the figure was 848.
Make no mistake Saddam was a bad man but his trial was a farce. Josh Marshall said it well.
This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur -- phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. And this is no different. Hanging Saddam is easy. It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us.Of course it couldn't be a real trial. Evidence presented would have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that many of his war crimes were committed with the full knowledge and sometime the assistance of the United States. The Iran Iraq war comes to mind.
Try to dress this up as an Iraqi trial and it doesn't come close to cutting it -- the Iraqis only take possession of him for the final act, sort of like the Church always left execution itself to the 'secular arm'. Try pretending it's a war crimes trial but it's just more of the pretend mumbojumbo that makes this out to be World War IX or whatever number it is they're up to now.
So Saddam is dead but Robert Fisk asks what about the other war criminals?
But history will record that the Arabs and other Muslims and, indeed, many millions in the West, will ask another question this weekend, a question that will not be posed in other Western newspapers because it is not the narrative laid down for us by our presidents and prime ministers - what about the other guilty men?So the Bush's and Blair's of the world have changed the subject for a short while with the execution of Saddam but who will history remember as the war criminals?
No, Tony Blair is not Saddam. We don't gas our enemies. George W Bush is not Saddam. He didn't invade Iran or Kuwait. He only invaded Iraq. But hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians are dead - and thousands of Western troops are dead - because Messrs Bush and Blair and the Spanish Prime Minister and the Italian Prime Minister and the Australian Prime Minister went to war in 2003 on a potage of lies and mendacity and, given the weapons we used, with great brutality.
In the aftermath of the international crimes against humanity of 2001 we have tortured, we have murdered, we have brutalised and killed the innocent - we have even added our shame at Abu Ghraib to Saddam's shame at Abu Ghraib - and yet we are supposed to forget these terrible crimes as we applaud the swinging corpse of the dictator we created.
Who encouraged Saddam to invade Iran in 1980, which was the greatest war crime he has committed for it led to the deaths of a million and a half souls? And who sold him the components for the chemical weapons with which he drenched Iran and the Kurds? We did. No wonder the Americans, who controlled Saddam's weird trial, forbad any mention of this, his most obscene atrocity, in the charges against him. Could he not have been handed over to the Iranians for sentencing for this massive war crime? Of course not. Because that would also expose our culpability.
And the mass killings we perpetrated in 2003 with our depleted uranium shells and our "bunker buster" bombs and our phosphorous, the murderous post-invasion sieges of Fallujah and Najaf, the hell-disaster of anarchy we unleashed on the Iraqi population in the aftermath of our "victory" - our "mission accomplished" - who will be found guilty of this? Such expiation as we might expect will come, no doubt, in the self-serving memoirs of Blair and Bush, written in comfortable and wealthy retirement.