Foreign Policy

  U.S. Military Deaths In Iraq At 2,814October 30, 2006 21:10 As of Monday, Oct. 30, 2006, at least 2,814 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,257 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is one more than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Monday at 10 a.m. EDT.

The British military has reported 120 deaths; Italy, 33; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 17; Bulgaria, 13; Spain, 11; Denmark, six; El Salvador, five; Slovakia, three; Estonia, Netherlands, Thailand, two each; and Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Baghdad.
  Pentagon Cannot Account For Weapons Provided To Iraqi ForcesOctober 30, 2006 11:09 Thousands of weapons the United States has provided Iraqi security forces cannot be accounted for and spare parts and repair manuals are unavailable for many others, a new report to Congress says.
The report, prepared at the request of the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., also found that major challenges remain that put at risk the Defense Department's goal of strengthening Iraqi security forces by transferring all logistics operations to the defense ministry by the end of 2007.

A spokesman for Warner said the senator read the report over the weekend in preparation for a meeting Tuesday with Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

Warner, who requested the report in May, “believes it is essential that Congress and the American people continue to be kept informed by the inspector general on the equipping and logistical capabilities of the Iraqi army and security forces, since these represent an important component of overall readiness,” said Warner spokesman John Ullyot.

The inspector general's office released its report Sunday in a series of three audits finding that:

Nearly one of every 25 weapons the military bought for Iraqi security forces is missing. Many others cannot be repaired because parts or technical manuals are lacking.
  Bush Addresses Iraq ProblemsOctober 28, 2006 13:28 With less then two weeks before the U.S. midterm congressional elections, U.S. George W. Bush, who has suffered a great loss of prestige due to the war in Iraq, expressed his deep concern over the recent incidents in Iraq.

Bush said the U.S. army had to change its tactics to respond to the changing threat..

On Oct. 25, Bush held a news conference at the White House, saying, “Our security at home depends on ensuring that Iraq is an ally in the war on terror and does not become a terrorist haven such as Afghanistan under the Taliban.”

He said scores of insurgents were caught and killed during clashes in Iraq; however, U.S. troops had also suffered losses.

Bush said 93 U.S. soldiers were killed in October, the worst month since October 2005.

More than 300 Iraqi security personnel were killed, Bush said, adding: “Iraqi civilians have suffered unspeakable violence at the hands of the terrorists, insurgents, illegal militias, armed groups and criminals.”

  VP Called Dunking Suspects In Water During Interrogations 'A No-Brainer'October 28, 2006 13:22 The White House denied Friday that Vice President Dick Cheney had endorsed "water boarding" — a technique many consider torture — when he said earlier this week that dunking terrorism suspects in water during interrogations was a "no-brainer."

Cheney's comments sparked an outcry from human rights groups, which claimed his statement amounted to an endorsement of water boarding, an age-old technique in which a prisoner's head is kept under water to simulate drowning.

"This country doesn't torture. We will interrogate people we pick up on the battlefield," President Bush said Friday. He declined, however, to directly respond to reporters' questions about Cheney's remarks.

White House press secretary Tony Snow insisted the vice president was not referring to water boarding.

"You know as a matter of common sense that the vice president of the United States is not going to be talking about water boarding. Never would. Never does. Never will," Snow said.

Asked if the vice president slipped up, an exasperated Snow responded, "No. Are you kidding? You think Dick Cheney's going to slip up on something like this. Come on!"

  U.S. Says Iraq Agrees Timeline To PeaceOctober 24, 2006 22:28 Is the Bush administration flip-flopping????

Iraqi leaders have assured the United States they will stick to a timetable of measures over the next year to curb violence and allow U.S. troops to go home, Washington's top officials in Iraq said on Tuesday.

Two weeks ahead of U.S. congressional elections that have put President George W. Bush's Republicans on the defensive over their Iraq strategy, the U.S. ambassador and military commander in Baghdad told voters directly via a rare joint news conference that success was still possible, and on a "realistic timetable".

Insisting sectarian bloodshed had not caused Washington to water down its goal of a stable, democratic Iraq, envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said he expected Iraqi leaders to make "significant progress in the coming 12 months" in meeting "benchmarks".
  Bush Fails To Stay The Course After AllOctober 24, 2006 09:58 THE US President, George Bush, will no longer use the well-worn phrase "stay the course" when speaking about the Iraq war, in an effort to emphasise flexibility in the face of some of the bloodiest violence there since the 2003 invasion.

"He's stopped using it," the White House press secretary, Tony Snow, said on Monday. "It left the wrong impression about what was going on …"

The pronouncement is an example of the complicated line the White House is walking this election year as it tries to tag rival Democrats for wanting to "cut and run" from Iraq, without itself appearing linked to unsuccessful tactics there.

Democrats seem to be winning the war of words. The party claims Republicans are stubbornly proposing to "stay the course" in a failing effort to halt the violence in Iraq - an approach that strategists in both parties consider to have been politically successful.
  Bush Administration Hypes ‘Timeline’ For Iraq, Policy Stays The CourseOctober 24, 2006 09:05 The American public wants a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. In response, the Bush administration has started throwing around terms like “timeline” and “timetable.”

Unfortunately, this rhetoric is not accompanied by any change in strategy. The Iraqis have agreed to a 12-18 month “timeline” to control violence in Iraq. But if they don’t meet the benchmarks they’ve agreed to, there are no consequences. The “timeline” is disconnected from a drawdown of U.S. troops.

Casey noted, “I said a year or so ago that if the conditions on the ground continued the way they were going, that I thought we’d have fairly substantial reductions in coalition forces.” That plan was thrown out in “early July.”
  Iraqi Youth Want U.S. Troops To WithdrawOctober 22, 2006 10:40 Majorities of Iraqi youth in Arab regions of the country believe security would improve and violence decrease if the U.S.-led forces left immediately, according to a State Department poll that provides a window into the grim warnings provided to policymakers.

The survey - unclassified, but marked "For Official U.S. Government Use Only" - also finds that Iraqi leaders may face particular difficulty recruiting young Sunni Arabs to join the stumbling security forces. Strong majorities of 15- to 29-year-olds in two Arab Sunni areas - Mosul and Tikrit-Baquba - would oppose joining the Iraqi army or police.

The poll has its shortcomings; regional samples are small and the results do not say how many people refused to respond to questions. The private polling firm hired by the State Department also was not able to interview residents of al-Anbar, a Sunni-dominated province and an insurgent stronghold.

But the findings of the summer survey - circulated to policymakers last month and obtained by The Associated Press last week - nevertheless provide a solemn reminder of the difficulty that the U.S.-backed Iraqi government faces as it tries to add ethnic diversity to its security institutions.
  Diplomat: U.S. Arrogant, Stupid In IraqOctober 22, 2006 10:31 A senior U.S. State Department diplomat told Arab satellite network Al Jazeera that there is a strong possibility history will show the United States displayed "arrogance" and "stupidity" in its handling of the Iraq war.

Alberto Fernandez, director of the Office of Press and Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of Near East Affairs, made his comments on Saturday to the Qatar-based network.

"History will decide what role the United States played," he told Al Jazeera in Arabic, based on CNN translations. "And God willing, we tried to do our best in Iraq."

"But I think there is a big possibility ... for extreme criticism and because undoubtedly there was arrogance and stupidity from the United States in Iraq," the diplomat told Al Jazeera.

"I can only assume his remarks must have been mistranslated. Those comments obviously don't reflect our policy," a senior Bush administration official said.

  Bush, Commanders Meet To Review Iraq StrategyOctober 21, 2006 11:15 Except for pummeling Democratic candidates during presidential elections and fundraising, what exactly does Bush know about strategy?

President Bush reviewed Iraq strategy on Saturday with top generals for a second day in a row amid increasing election-season pressure to make dramatic changes to address deteriorating conditions.

Before a midmorning bike ride, the president consulted for 90 minutes at the White House with his national security team, spokeswoman Nicole Guillemard said.

Gathered around a Roosevelt Room conference table with Bush were Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East; Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld; Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley; and other officials. Vice President Dick Cheney and Gen. George Casey, who leads the U.S.-led Multinational Forces in Iraq, joined in by videoconference.

  Bush Concedes Iraqi Echoes Of Vietnam WarOctober 19, 2006 18:00 THE US President, George Bush, has admitted for the first time that the surge of violence in Iraq "could be" compared to the bloody Tet offensive that took place during the Vietnam War.

Until now Mr Bush has strongly resisted comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam, but with US casualties continuing to mount - at least 13 soldiers were killed in the two days from Tuesday - he agreed with an interviewer's analogy on Wednesday, but added that he thought the increase in attacks was timed to affect next month's congressional elections.

The insurgents' goal was to force the US to lose its will to continue in Iraq, Mr Bush said.

"My gut tells me that they have all along been trying to inflict enough damage that we'd leave," he told American ABC television.

Ya think, Mr. President?!?!?!
  US Plans Military Command In AfricaOctober 15, 2006 20:35 The US military is sharpening its focus on counterterrorism in Africa, a top general says, as it faces challenges including a newly announced alliance between a regional militant group and Al Qaida.

General William 'Kip' Ward also hinted it would make sense to establish a US military command on African soil, instead of running operations on the continent from hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away, as has been the case until now.

"I think ... having the unified command located in the area in which it has responsibility is the preferable solution set," said Ward, number two at the US European Command (EUCOM).

The Pentagon said in August it was considering creating a new military command for Africa. Responsibility for the continent is currently split between three separate US centres, including Stuttgart-based EUCOM. A single command, advocates argue, would help Washington focus better on its goal of denying sanctuary to militants who might otherwise find African havens in the same way that Al Qaida cultivated bases in Sudan and Afghanistan in the 1990s.

  Bush Unleashes The Nuclear BeastOctober 15, 2006 20:30 IN THEIR THIRD PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE, in October 1960, John F. Kennedy went after Vice President Richard Nixon, blasting him as weak on national security for not stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. France had just tested its first nuclear device, joining the United States, the Soviet Union and Britain as the world's first nuclear powers. Kennedy warned "that 10, 15 or 20 nations will have a nuclear capacity — including Red China — by the end of the presidential office in 1964."

As president, Kennedy sought to fight that dark vision, telling the United Nations: "The weapons of war must be abolished, before they abolish us." He restarted talks on a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty, began pursuit of a global nonproliferation pact and signed a treaty with the Soviet Union to ban atmospheric nuclear tests. Although Kennedy did not live to finish the job, in 1968, Lyndon Johnson signed what became the diplomatic crown jewel of his presidency: the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT. President Nixon secured its ratification.

The NPT is now considered one of the most successful security pacts in history. Every nation in the world is a member except Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea. Most of the 183 member states that do not have nuclear weapons believe what the treaty says: We should eliminate nuclear weapons.

The treaty became the hub around which liberals and conservatives built an interlocking network of agreements that deterred, though didn't altogether stop, the spread of nuclear weapons. As a result, by 2000, only three other countries — Israel, India and Pakistan — had joined the original five nuclear nations. With the success of these agreements, and the end of the Soviet-American nuclear standoff at the close of the Cold War, it seemed that the nuclear threat that had haunted the world for so many years might finally be receding.
  UK Coroner: US Troops Unlawfully Killed TV ReporterOctober 14, 2006 18:44 U.S. troops should be prosecuted for the death of a British television correspondent shot during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a coroner ruled Friday.

Andrew Walker, an assistant deputy coroner in Oxfordshire, said he would ask the director of public prosecutions to consider criminal charges in the case of Terry Lloyd, who was working for Britain's ITN network, CNN reported. His Lebanese translator, Hussein Osman, was also killed outside Basra in March 2003 while cameraman Fred Nerac is missing and another cameraman survived.

Walker found U.S. troops deliberately fired on a minibus that was taking Lloyd for medical treatment after he was wounded in crossfire between U.S. and Iraqi troops. U.S. officials contend that the soldiers followed the rules of engagement.

"There is no doubt that the minibus presented no threat to the American forces. There is no doubt it was an unlawful act of fire upon the minibus," Walker said.

  Military Says Attacks On Iraqis, U.S. Troops Up 43% In BaghdadOctober 13, 2006 10:40 Attacks on U.S. soldiers and Iraqis in Baghdad have increased by 43 percent since midsummer, despite a U.S.-led campaign to secure individual neighborhoods, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq said Thursday.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said violence was down by 11 percent in neighborhoods where the sweeps had been focused. But that decline was offset by more attacks elsewhere, and Caldwell said the military was expecting violence to keep rising during the remaining weeks of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"Historical trends tell us that the attacks will generally increase by 20 percent during this holy month of Ramadan," Caldwell said. "We assume it will still get worse before it gets better."

In Washington, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged that the U.S. strategy of training tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police hasn't curbed violence and that senior military commanders were puzzled by its failure. "We do need to take a look" at other factors that might be driving violence, he said.

  Get Out Of Iraq Soon: UK Army ChiefOctober 13, 2006 09:36 British troops in Iraq should be withdrawn "sometime soon" as their continued presence exacerbates Britain's security problems, the head of the country's army said in an interview published today.

"I don't say the difficulties we are experiencing around the world are caused by our presence in Iraq but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates them," General Richard Dannatt told the Daily Mail newspaper, in an interview for today's edition of the newspaper, published on its website.

Dannatt said Britain should "get ourselves out sometime soon because our presence exacerbates the security problems".

He went on to say, "We are in a Muslim country and Muslims' views of foreigners in their country are quite clear ... As a foreigner, you can be welcomed by being invited in a country, but we weren't invited certainly by those in Iraq at the time."
  Mountain Shooting Was Self Defence: ChinaOctober 13, 2006 09:34 The United States has lodged a formal protest against China over a shooting incident in the Himalayas that left a teenage Tibetan refugee nun dead - but China says it was simply acting in self defence.

The incident occurred on September 30 as about 70 Tibetan refugees, including many children, made their way towards the 5700-metre high Nangpa La Pass - about 20 kilometres west of Mount Everest - on their journey from Tibet to Nepal.

Dozens of Western climbers at the nearby Mount Cho Oyu advanced base camp watched in horror as Chinese soldiers fired shots at the refugees for up to 15 minutes, killing a 17-year-old Tibetan nun, Kelsang Namtso.

A photograph of what is said to be the nun's body was yesterday posted on the internet by a Slovenian mountaineer, Pavle Kozjek, who was at the Mount Cho Oyu camp when the shooting occurred.

  Poll: Americans See U.S. Losing Terror WarOctober 11, 2006 22:31 A new poll shows that, for the first time, more Americans believe they are losing the war on terror than think they are winning.

Rasmussen Reports said Wednesday that just 31 percent of American adults say the United States and its allies are winning their war on terrorism, whereas 36 percent think the terrorists are winning. Twenty-two percent said neither side was winning.

A statement about the poll on the Rasmussen Web site calls the figures "the lowest display of confidence in the United States' position in the war on terror since (we) began polling on the subject two years ago."

It says that the 31 percent who think America is winning is ten percent less than in the most recent poll on the issue, taken just under a month ago in the days after the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

A majority, 54 percent, now believe that the situation in Iraq will get worse over the next six months, up from 48 percent last month. Less than one quarter, 24 percent, believe it will improve.
  Iraq Troop Levels May Hold Until 2010October 11, 2006 13:45 The U.S. Army has plans to keep the current level of soldiers in Iraq through 2010, the top Army officer said Wednesday, a later date than Bush administration or Pentagon officials have mentioned thus far.

The Army chief of staff, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, cautioned against reading too much into the planning, saying troops levels could be adjusted to actual conditions in Iraq. He said it is easier to hold back forces scheduled to go there than to prepare and deploy units at the last minute.

“This is not a prediction that things are going poorly or better,” Schoomaker told reporters. “It’s just that I have to have enough ammo in the magazine that I can continue to shoot as long as they want us to shoot.”
  Mccain Slams Clinton For Her Korea RemarksOctober 11, 2006 09:14 In what sounded to many Washington ears Tuesday like an early shot in the 2008 presidential campaign, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., singled out Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., as he denounced the Clinton administration's policies toward North Korea.

"I would remind Senator Clinton and other Democrats critical of Bush administration policies that the framework agreement her husband's administration negotiated was a failure," McCain said in a speech near Detroit, where he was campaigning for a Republican Senate candidate. "Every single time the Clinton administration warned the Koreans not to do something - not to kick out the IAEA inspectors, not to remove the fuel rods from their reactor - they did it. And they were rewarded every single time by the Clinton administration with further talks."

Aides said McCain was responding to Hillary Clinton's comments Monday, when she criticized North Korea for its announcement of having tested a nuclear weapon and added: "Some of the reasons we are facing this dangerous situation is because of the failed policies of the Bush administration. I regret deeply their failure to deal with the threat posed by North Korea, and I hope that the administration will now adopt a much more effective response than what they have up until now."

Clinton's comments, made in response to reporters' questions during a Columbus Day parade in New York, drew modest attention Monday. McCain pounced on them before the cameras Tuesday in Michigan, and other Republicans soon were distributing his remarks.

  Study: War Blamed For 655,000 Iraqi DeathsOctober 11, 2006 08:43 War has wiped out about 655,000 Iraqis or more than 500 people a day since the U.S.-led invasion, a new study reports.

Violence including gunfire and bombs caused the majority of deaths but thousands of people died from worsening health and environmental conditions directly related to the conflict that began in 2003, U.S. and Iraqi public health researchers said.

"Since March 2003, an additional 2.5 percent of Iraq's population have died above what would have occurred without conflict," according to the survey of Iraqi households, titled "The Human Cost of the War in Iraq." (Watch as the study's startling results are revealed -- 1:55 )

The survey, being published online by British medical journal The Lancet, gives a far higher number of deaths in Iraq than other organizations. (Read the full report -- pdf)

Researchers randomly selected 1,849 households across Iraq and asked questions about births and deaths and migration for the study led by Gilbert Burnham of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland.

They extrapolated the figures to reflect the national picture, saying Iraq's death rate had more than doubled since the invasion.

Iraqis "bear the consequence of warfare," the report said, comparing the situation with other wars: "In the Vietnam War, 3 million civilians died; in the Congo, armed conflict has been responsible for 3.8 million deaths; in East Timor, an estimated 200,000 out of a population of 800,000 died in conflict.

  US Rejects Calls For Direct Talks With North KoreaOctober 10, 2006 10:03 The United States is once again rejecting calls for direct talks with North Korea.

UN Ambassador John Bolton says the US won't be intimidated by a reported threat from North Korea that it could fire a nuclear-tipped missile unless Washington acts to resolve the standoff.

There was tough talk from China, as well, after North Korea’s test of what it claims was a nuclear weapon.

China criticized the test, saying it would harm relations with the Communist north.

But Beijing also is rejecting calls for punishment.

On CBS’ "The Early Show" Bolton said North Korea has had a successful history of intimidating other countries but not this time.

He says the package of proposed sanctions being circulated in the Security Council is an attempt to cut off the flow of resources North Korea needs and blunt sales of missile technology.
  Mexico Doubts Border Fence Will HappenOctober 04, 2006 14:16 A spokesman for Mexican President Vincente Fox on Wednesday said the United States will likely never build 700 miles of new fencing along the border dividing the two nations.

The fence received final approval in the United States last week.

But Fox's spokesman Ruben Aguilar said the U.S. Congress is unlikely to approve enough funding to finish the project.

"There is no money to build it, so it won't be built," Aguilar told reporters. "Even though the wall was approved, there is no funding."

No one knows how much the 700-mile (1,125-kilometer) fence will cost, but Congress sent a bill to the White House making a $1.2 billion down payment. A 14-mile (23-kilometer) segment of fence under construction in San Diego is costing $126.5 million.