US soldier kills comrades in Iraq
A US soldier has shot dead five of his colleagues at a base in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the Pentagon says.
Two other people were hurt in the shootings and the gunman is in custody, Pentagon officials have said.
An earlier military statement said the incident had happened at Camp Liberty near Baghdad’s international airport at about 1400 (1100 GMT).
The White House said US President Barack Obama was shocked by news of the “terrible tragedy”.
The president planned to discuss it with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said spokesman Robert Gibbs.
“Any time we lose one of our own, it affects us all” Colonel John Robinson US army spokesman
The shooting reportedly occurred at a clinic where troops receive help for personal issues or combat stress.
It is not the first time a US soldier has opened fire on comrades in recent years.
One soldier was sentenced to death in 2005 after killing two officers and wounding 14 other personnel with grenades and a rifle at a camp in Kuwait.
The BBC’s Natalia Antelava, in Baghdad, says troops at Camp Liberty had been enjoying a much more relaxed atmosphere in recent months.
She says there have been few attacks on the base recently, so the timing of the shooting will make it particularly shocking to the soldiers there.
It is the deadliest single incident involving US forces since 10 April, when five soldiers were killed by a truck bomb in the northern city of Mosul.
“Any time we lose one of our own, it affects us all,” said military spokesman Colonel John Robinson.
“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of all the service members involved in this terrible tragedy.”
Earlier this month, a man in an Iraqi army uniform shot dead two US soldiers and injured three others at a base near Mosul.
Iraqi military reports said he was a soldier also working as an imam at a mosque on the base.
US forces are due to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by August 2010.
A major question people have with regard to all this business of the Taliban and the military is whether the Pakistani military is physically capable of taking on the Taliban. There are people who doubt the Pakistani military can. Many operations in the past have been Pyrrhic – the military faced massive casualties. Incompetence is exacerbated by the geopolitical aspects of this issue: not only is the military fighting the Taliban but also the Pashtuns who support and harbor the Taliban. As such, people doubt whether the Pakistani military has the capability or wherewithal to fight the Taliban. The fact that they’re always asking for more money and materiel also makes one question whether they have what they need. (But if they keep asking for stuff, will they ever have what they need?)
Another issue that plays a crucial role is that of willingness. Assuming that the military has the ability to take on the Taliban, does it have the desire to do so? I say that answer is, “No,” for two reasons:
1. The Pakistani military is not unitary. That is, it is not united. It is divided into factions. One faction is more Islamist than the prevailing authorities. The military, whether itself or through intermediaries or through the ISI, provides support for militants. Some do it out of personal allegiance (a sort of solidarity with defenders of Islam) and others do it for geopolitical purposes (to keep Pakistan relevant, to keep India on its toes, to extend Pakistan’s influence in the northwest region). Other soldiers are not wholehearted in the military’s operations because they don’t want to have to open fire on fellow Pakistanis, as they see it. They don’t like this Pakistani-on-Pakistani violence. So, even if the military were capable of taking out the Taliban, there’s no guarantee that the soldiers sent to do the work would do their job.
2. In order to effectively take on the Taliban and eradicate them, the military would have the take drastic measures that could instigate a veritable civil war. Various military groups, outfits, and militias would have to be eradicated. (The legal system won’t work: they would have to be physically disarmed or sent to their 72 virgins.) This also means taking on the vast number of people, civilians, who will undoubtedly rise up against the military in defense of these militant outfits. The popular reaction to the very needed and justified Red Mosque operation shows that the public can and will turn against the military when it carries out needed operations against militants. The military would rather slay a head of the hydra, allow others to grow, than the slay the monster itself. for one thing, it prevents the great turmoil going after the monster would elicit, and the more heads means more targets, which means a more precarious situation, which means the ability to milk Pakistan’s allies for more money and materiel.
If militancy were eradicated in Pakistan, the West’s interest in Pakistan would wane. I do not think it is a coincidence that Congress unconditionally approved a massive amount of money for Pakistan (namely, Pakistan’s military) while the military and its PR apparatus have been engaging in various operations against militants, as if to say, “Look! We have this great threat to deal with! It is a difficult fight! Send help, please!” Where was the military a few months ago? Why now, all of a sudden?
It seems our only ally was the military. But it is undependable. It cannot be our ally. Or, rather, we should not depend entirely on Pakistan’s military to ensure the Taliban threat is dealt with adequately.
There is one aspect to the whole Pakistan-Afghanistan-Taliban issue that some seem to not see, yet it is a critical aspect.
It answers the important question: why doesn’t Pakistan do more to defeat militancy in Pakistan and originating from Pakistan? The West is worried about the proliferation of militancy in Pakistan, turning Pakistan into a haven and training-ground for terrorists, not to mention a conduit for personnel, materiel, money, and so on. Afghanistan is annoyed that Pakistan isn’t doing more to staunch the Taliban flourishing in the area bordering Afghanistan, from where they launch attacks into Afghanistan, and where Afghani Taliban retreat to recuperate, regroup, or restock. And Pakistanis and Indians are wondering why the Pakistani military and government are not doing more to secure stability and security in Pakistan.
The reason is, actually, quite simple. Money.
If NATO found Usama bin Ladin (y’makh sh’mo), many people will believe there is no more reason to fund Pakistani’s military and its efforts to get rid of the Taliban. Bin Ladin’s dead, game over. And the Pakistani military loses one of its major sources of funding, not to mention relevance.
Similarly, if the Pakistani military were to wipe out the Taliban, why would America (and other Western allies) give huge sums of money to Pakistan (unconditional at times even)? If thr Taliban were swept away, the influx of money would stop. And this isn’t just money going into the public coffers, which the politicians would be worried about. It’s even more dire: it’s money going into the military’s coffers. An unhappy military does not mean good news for Pakistan’s civilians or government.
And so the Taliban will remain. The Pakistani military and government will conduct operations every now and then so as to assuage its Western allies that it is making some use of the funds given to Pakistan for that purpose. But they will not eliminate the Taliban. Indeed, the stronger the Taliban get, the more Pakistan can beg from other states. They can say that because the Taliban is so strong, they need more money and sooner in order to prevent the Taliban from conquering all of Pakistan. Obviously, they would say, they don’t want that to happen, for then they would have nuclear weapons.
May sound somewhat cynical, but it makes sense. Without this money, how would the Pakistani military feed its soldiers?
More factors will be discussed in the upcoming days.
I love the button on the end of the pages:
If you can read this thank a Teacher.
If you can read this in English thank the Military.
There are lots of tear-jerker videos. I saw the one below (with audio turned off) and I started crying. Very well made.
Support the Troops – show them some love: Operation Gratitude
Something to keep you busy until 12:30 am CST, Tuesday, December 30, 2008.
H/T to The Hostages, I believe.
A sincere and heartfelt thank you to all who served this Great Country and who are still doing so and will do so.
XBradTC of Bring the heat, Bring the Stupid, a great and patient guy, asked me on a thread over at The Hostages to look at a story: “A Pakistani ‘awakening’?” posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2008 by Neptunus Lex.
Later, we learn that the armed services of The United States conducted raids across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, into Pakistan, attacking militants.
On September 11, 2008 (fortuitously), Neptunus Lex put up an interesting post on President Bush’s authorization of such raids, in his post “Gloves Off“.
It would be an understatement to say that relations between The United States and Pakistan have taken an interesting turn.
The problem has to do with the Pakistani military’s inability or unwillingness to take action against militants within its border.
Now, one may ask: Was it a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty to conduct this raid? The answer is: Yes. The next question is: Were The United States justified? The answer is: Yes.
When elements within one country are conducting attacking against another state or its interests, the attacked state has the right to respond, by force if necessary. If, after so many years of threatening and cajoling and persuading Pakistani forces to take action against militants to end their incursions into Afghanistan, the state that has sovereignty does not cease and desist such acts (or cause them to stop), the attacking state may be attacked as retaliation, to take out offending elements, or as an invasion. This occurred, I hope people will remember, between Turkey and Iraq where the offending elements were Kurdish terrorists and the offended party was the state of Turkey. Although a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty, Turkey was within its rights to respond as it did.
However, this discussion skirts the real issue: what is to be done about terrorist, militant elements in Pakistan that are attacking American interests, interests of allies in Afghanistan, and Afghani interests?
I see the raids not as a true attack to eliminate militants (if it were, they would be much more extensive and would take many, many such raids). I see this as part of the delicate relations between Pakistan and The United States: this is The United States sending a strong message to Pakistan.
The United States could not conduct these raids while Musharraf was in office because doing so would mean he would be ousted, resulting in immense chaos. With Musharraf out and there being no strong ties between The United States and Asif Ali Zardari, the new president of Pakistan, The United States could send a strong message. The message was: Get to work, and eliminate the militants, or we’ll do it.
I think this message was also to assert that The United States will not allow Pakistan to dictate terms. The United States will pursue their interests, and the Pakistani forces ought to get in line.
In response, the Pakistani military revealed that the Pakistani military has orders to fire back if any foreign entities violate Pakistan’s sovereignty. So, if Americans try to do the thing the Pakistanis have failed to do, the Americans will be attacked, rather than the militants.
However, this is all part of a face-saving campaign. Many Pakistani authorities have made somewhat staunch and belligerent stances against America. This is essential, otherwise the public will think that Pakistani authorities were allowing Americans to violate Pakistan’s sovereignty, which could result in chaos and riots if not all-outs coups.
Furthermore, not one American thing will be hurt. While the Pakistani military may be jingoistic, in fact they will not do anything. The fallout of such an incidence would be immense. Additionally, the orders seem to be allow the Pakistani military room to not attack – it has to be unmistakably and verifiably a foreign entity, and likely by the time such a thing could be verified, it would be too late.
The raids also made the Pakistani authorities perk up. There were a number of meetings between Pakistani and American military officials to discuss the issue. Now the Pakistanis know they’ll have to do something. And while the public may or may not support them, at least the Pakistani military will know it has to get to job done.
The good news, which the post by Neptunus Lex on August 27 mentioned, is that the Pakistani military has been getting more active with regard to taking action against militants. The result is painful for Pakistan: there is a wave of suicide attacks. But the military is pushing forward.
So while things seem chaotic and perhaps discouraging, I think through the clouds we can see quite a bit of sunshine. The Pakistani military has begun taking its job a little more seriously, and it may be that with local help, the militant threat will be eliminated.
Issues will he rehashed, and others will be elaborated on later.
Was this good or was this bad? Perhaps both.
When Musharraf was the autocrat of Pakistan, he was good for The United States. But when he started to play politician, he became unreliable and undependable simply because he no longer controled all the levers of power in Pakistan. Add to this the intense opposition against him by various branches of the government, which did everything they could to stymie his efforts, and we get a situation that makes his cooperation with The United States difficult, if at all possible, and puts us in a position of supporting a man who has become useless.
Most supporters of Musharraf have been complaining that he veered off track soon after becoming the autocrat. They said, “He should be a general or a politician, not both.” In trying to be both, he essentially shot himself in the foot by opening himself up to being challenged, opposed, and taken down by forces he does not and cannot control. He should have stuck to being a general, with a puppet government and figurehead prime minister, while implementing those measures needed to make Pakistan stable and prosperous. Instead, he decided to usher in a wave of democracy, which brought him down.
This selfsame wave of democracy also moved Pakistan away from The United States. The people, who before had to simply accept Musharraf’s stance because they couldn’t do anything about it, began to express their disapproval of cooperating with The United States, and essentially began implementing measures and stances that hindered cooperation with The United States. In fact, the government of Pakistan turned from strenuously opposing militants to coddling and tolerating them, letting them take over key cities and areas rather then putting them down like it should have.
Having Musharraf in power also contributed to an environment of instability and uncertainty. The opposition to him was doing everything it could to unseat him, and we had no idea how successful they would be, or when they would try which trick, and what tricks would be next.
I hope that with Musharraf’s successor, attention to Pakistan’s military by Pakistanis will wane, allowing the military to take on more robust and active roles in flushing out the militants and preventing the establishment of a de facto Taliban mini-state in the North-West Frontier Province. With Musharraf out, critics cannot accuse the military of following Musharraf’s pro-American (and ostensibly anti-Islamic) policies. What is fortunate is that Kayani, the current head military guy, is our guy (or so it is believed). Without the intense public pressure, criticism, and opposition, maybe with the new president he’d be able to operate more freely.
Forging links with Kayani was a excellent decision by the Pentagon, and will help us move forward regardless of who is president of Pakistan. We cannot be tied down to one person, particularly a politician who, as such, is exposed to unpredictable maneuvers by opponents. I hope we are forging links with other military people so we can move forward regardless of unexpected circumstances that may befall Kayani.
In the end, Musharraf became useless, and part of this was his own fault. While democracy is good, there never has been democracy in Pakistan. It’s all a political game with dirty tricks, everyone manipulating (and even changing) the law to suit their needs and interests. There will never be resolution in Pakistan, and the government (and military) of Pakistan will always have to contend with militants. What we must prevent is Pakistan becoming an active supporter of militants, allowing them to use Pakistan as a base.
If you want to lighten your heart, there are two pictures you must see. The first is nice, it’s the second (a zoomed verison of the first) that highlights why it’s such a touching picture.
Found via “Another Iraqi Child Being Tortured By An Imperialist U.S. Soldier” on Wednesday, July 2, 2008, by DMartyr of snapped shot.
It’s a stretch, but (Matthew 13:41-43, emphasis added):
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
America the Beautiful (emphasis added)
O beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.
O beautiful, for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw;
Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law!
O beautiful, for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
‘Til all success be nobleness, and ev’ry gain divine!
O beautiful, for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years,
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!
Have a happy Memorial Day. Let us all take some time to thank and be thankful for all those who gave their lives for our freedom.
This may be old for The Hostages, but I saw two videos on YouTube that really touched me. Both moved me to tears, and they both had to do with thanking our men and women in uniform.
Now, the first was an ad. Here’s a real, live example in Ireland, of all places.
In looking through YouTube, I realize this is a common response to our men and women in uniform in our airports.
If I were before you in person, I would not be able to talk. I would be choked up with tears. It really makes me feel so proud that we honor our men and women in uniform in such a stupendous way. It makes me so proud to be an American. Black and white, young and old, rich and poor: we all stand and applaud our living heroes.
By the way, do check out Rosetta’s “The U.S. Army Chorus and the Battle Hymn of the Republic”.
I’ve told my son (a marine reservist going back for his second 7 month vacation in the cradle of civilization) that I would fully expect him to beat the poodle piss out of anyone spitting on him upon his return. Bail wouldn’t be too hard to come by.
I am grateful that while America may be full of anti-war moonbats, anyone physically spitting on a soldier would find himself or herself on the receiving end of a lot of displeased reactions from ordinary, everyday Americans (civilians especially).
We love our soldiers, we do.
Thanks to Nice Deb for alerting us: Major Stephen Coughlin, who was to be fired by the Pentagon under pressure from an Islam Hisham (close aide to Gordon England, Deputy Secretary of Defense), and known Islamist-sympathizer, will be retained by the DoD albeit in another area.
For more info, please see:
Major Stephen Coughlin, employed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was recently fired under pressure from Islamists, most alarmingly the ring-leading Islamist (Hisham Islam) working in the Department of Defense. They opposed his exposé of the rôle of Islamic law (shari’ah) in jihad. Declaiming him to be an extremist and whatnot, endangering the military’s efforts to build bridges with the Muslim community.
(I learned about this from Lady Vorzheva’s blog Spanish Pundit in her post “Terrorismo islámico (III): continuación del caso Stephen Coughlin, el experto anti-terrorista despedido del Pentágono por “islamófobo”” which means “Islamic Terrorism (III): continuation of the case [of] Stephen Coughlin, the anti-terrorism expert fired by the Pentagon for “Islamophobia”". I was a little but surprised I had not heard of this before.) Read the rest of this entry »
In the comments for a couple of posts, Bob posed some questions regarding the issue of Benazir and security. I will answer them now.
I previously posted the following comment. Do you have any insight into this aspect of her lack of security?
Sorry for not answering your questions, Bob. Here we go! Read the rest of this entry »
An event and issue that continues to generate considerable amount of debate is the assassination of General Zia-ul-Haq, the military dictator before Musharraf. (There was a interregnum, if you will, of politicians between Zia-ul-Haq and Musharraf.)
One day, all of a sudden, Zia’s plane blew up. To this day, there has been no conclusive finding as to who was responsible. Of course, the various people who would have wanted him dead makes pinpointing the culprit extremely difficult. Was it the Americans (and, if so, which entity therein)? The Soviets? The Indians? The Israelis? Other Communists? Afghans? How did they do it?
Although Zia-ul-Haq was instrumental in allowing the Americans to fund and supply the mujahidin in Afghanistan, who were fighting the Soviets, Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization of Pakistan posed a considerable risk to the greater stability of the region, not to mention how unwieldy he (and his Islamized nation) was getting. It would have made sense to off Zia-ul-Haq before he became more of a liability than an asset. (The example of Saddam Hussein demonstrates how this can become so, although the Americans then had no idea of such a scenario: if they did it and this was why, it was simple foresight.)
Zia-ul-Haq’s vital support for the mujahidin was crucial in letting the mujahidin drive out the Soviets, thus inflicting on the previously invincible Soviets and crushing blow, one which may be credited to contributing greatly to the unraveling of the Soviet Union and fall of the Soviet Communist empire. They would have had good reasons to want Zia-ul-Haq dead; taking out America’s ambassador to Pakistan at the same time would have also served their purposes. (But then was it military intelligence or the KGB that orchestrated the explosion?)
Zia-ul-Haq was a threat to India not only because he was an Islamist and Islamizing general (both of which contribute to a very unfriendly attitude to the secular or Hindu state) but also because of his efforts behind the scenes to secure the technology to built a nuke. (Although the groundwork was laid by Zia-ul-Haq’s civilian predecessor, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, whom Zia executed, Zia was very instrumental in the nuke plan’s success and development. He saw it as “the Islamic bomb”, which many other Islamist and/or Muslim allies identified with and which led to their secret assistance to Pakistan’s nuke plan.) Perhaps they thought taking him out might stall the nuke plan, if not derail it, or would put a stop to the Islamization which was souring relations between Pakistan and India even more. Similar reasons and issues could determine why the Israelis would want to take Zia out.
Perhaps Afghan nationalists were upset with the constant encroachment of Pakistani or Pakistan-funded entities upon the sovereignty of Afghanistan, and they wanted no more of it and so sought to take out Zia. Perhaps Afghan Communists, smarting from the Soviets’ defeat and unable to do anything, sought to exact revenge by assassinating Zia.
No one knows.
Obviously, there is a whole plethora of theories (more often than not conspiracy theories) regarding who did it and why. And so such a state of affairs, which now exists to some extent with Benazir’s assassination, is nothing new to Pakistanis. (Indeed, such a state of affairs is not new regarding assassinations: consider the many theories and opinions regarding the culprits the motives thereof for the assassination attempts on Kennedy, John Paul II, Liaquat Ali Khan of Pakistan, and King Birendra of Nepal.) Whereas some assassination attempts, such as those on Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Reagan, Yitzhak Rabin are clear-cut with regard to culprits and motives (Hindu nationalists, Sikhs, Tamil nationalists, star-struck idiot, and Israeli far-right nationalist, respectively), others are not.
But in Pakistan, violence is simply a part of life, political or otherwise.
I learned something today from Fox News that I did not know. Considering the grave situation in Pakistan, this is very relevant.
Evidently, the Pentagon had been building a relationship with General Ashfaq Kayani for some time. They were building this relationship to secure his support for The United States and to ensure he would be dedicated and motivated to secure stability in Pakistan, come what may. As the future Chief of Army Staff, it was important for the Pentagon to know that Pakistan would remain committed to its cooperation with The United States against terrorism and that the future Chief of Army Staff would be committed to ensuring Pakistan remained relatively stable, at least to prevent grave internal unrest and to prevent the endangerment of sensitive weapons (that is, nukes).
When Musharraf declared emergency rule and Bush exhorted him to leave his post as Chief of Army Staff, it was done to bolster Kayani (especially by demonstrating America’s support for him) and to secure a peaceful transition in the military leadership from Musharraf to Kayani. This was wise and smart on the part of Bush and his administration: their man, essentially, would become Chief of Army Staff, a transition that would have to happen at some point. Now, even if Musharraf is booted from power or resigns or is assassinated, The United States will not have to fear because their man in the key position. Our concern does not seem to have been related to democracy but, instead, with the greater picture of the Pakistani military’s leadership and the stable and effective transfer of power.
It is the understanding of experts that Kayani is committed both to fighting terrorism and securing Pakistan’s relative stability. It is also clear that he is committed to having the military be responsible, that is, not allowing an Islamist coup within the military or in Pakistan.
As such, our fears for the most significant contingencies–the nukes going missing or an Islamist coup or the Pakistani military’s refusal to fight terrorism–can be put to rest.
But if Kayani is assassinated or removed, we’re in very big trouble.
I would like to disabuse us of the notion that Musharraf was behind Benazir’s assassination. He was not, nor was the government or the military proper. Nor, I would say, was any major (or minor) political rival involved. The question of rogue elements in the military, now that’s a different question.
The blame falls squarely on the terrorists. Read the rest of this entry »