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2003-04-04 - 1:37 a.m.

:::News and Commentary:::

Because of the amount of information that I need to post, I will only include a small snippet of the following links. Please click on the headline to read the full reports. Thank you.

U.N.: Iraqi children may confuse rations, bomblets

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The United Nations warned Wednesday that humanitarian food rations being distributed in Iraq by U.S.-led coalition forces are wrapped in the same yellow packaging as deadly so-called bomblets being airdropped by the coalition.

Bomblets are individual units of cluster bombs and are made of metal. They are shaped like a soft drink can and are packed with high explosives. Cluster bombs contain about 200 small so-called bomblets designed to scatter themselves over a large area, targeting troops and military vehicles.

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Why are Iraqi civilians thumbing their noses at US and British humanitarian aid

It doesn't take long to figure out that the Iraqis may hate Saddam Hussein a great deal, but as one of the town's people shouted on ABC News tonight, "We hate Americans even more!" And friends, that hatred is growing by the hour as the brutalization and humiliation of Iraq by American and Britain continues. Not only is it growing rapidly in Iraq itself, but also growing in intensity and at a fever pitch throughout the Islamic world.

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BUSH'S BRAVE NEW WAGE WORLD

In the week after the second U.S. war began in Iraq, President Bush unveiled his new corporate agenda for the American working class.

President Bush's proposal looks innocent. But its effect would profoundly alter the economic relationship of American employers and their workers.

For one thing, the President's regulations allow corporations to eliminate "time-and-a-half" overtime pay, as a practical matter.

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U.S. Fends Off Iraqi Counterattack Near Baghdad

NEAR BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. troops fighting for Baghdad airport fought off a counterattack by Iraqi tanks on Friday, destroying five tanks and a number of armed pickup trucks in a fierce firefight, a Reuters correspondent said.

Luke Baker, with units of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division on the eastern bank of the Euphrates river some 12 miles southwest of the airport, saw a number of Iraqi vehicles mount what was effectively a suicidal charge on the Americans in an area that the U.S. forces had previously considered secure.

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Official: U.S. May Isolate Baghdad

American forces might stop short of storming Baghdad and instead isolate it while the makings of a new national government are put in place, President Bush's top military adviser said Thursday.

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, indicated the coming days might bring neither an all-out fight for the city, as many have predicted, nor a conventional siege of the capital.

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U.S. Says 320 Iraqi Troops Killed in Airport Battle

NEAR BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military said on Friday that 320 Iraqi troops had been killed so far in the battle for the Saddam International Airport.

U.S. forces engaged Iraqi troops on Thursday evening in the first ground battle of Baghdad since the war began on March 20 to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Fighting continued at dawn on Friday.

The U.S. military's battle damage assessment report said the 320 troops were "dismounts" or armed soldiers on foot.

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Robert Fisk: Reports of airport assault premature

SADDAM HUSSEIN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - So where are the Americans? I prowled the empty departure lounges, mooched through the abandoned customs department, chatted to the seven armed militia guards, met the airport director and stood beside the runways where two dust-covered Iraqi Airways passenger jets -- an old 727 and an even more elderly Antonov -- stood forlornly on the runway not far from an equally decrepit military helicopter.

And all I could hear was the distant whisper of high-flying jets and the chatter of the flocks of birds which have nested near the airport car park on this, the first day of real summer in Baghdad.

Only three hours earlier, the BBC had reported claims that forward units of an American mechanised infantry division were less than 16km west of Baghdad -- and that some US troops had taken up positions on the very edge of the international airport.

But I was 27km west of the city.

And there were no Americans, no armour, not a soul around the runways of the airport whose namesake, in poster form, sat nonchalantly in the arrivals lounge in a business suit, cigar in hand. Even more astonishingly, there was no sign of the 12,000 Republican Guards whom the US division expected to fight.

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Turkey allows America to use supply route for troops

Turkey finally agreed last night to allow the shipment of food, fuel and medicine to American forces fighting in northern Iraq after a damage-limitation meeting between the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, and Turkish leaders in Ankara.

"Our discussions were very productive," Mr Powell said at the end of the first foreign trip by a senior member of the Bush administration since the start of the war.

Mr Powell said supplies destined for the few thousand US troops in northern Iraq will be shipped across the border, which Turkey has kept sealed since the start of the campaign. Before Mr Powell's 24-hour stopover, Turkish-US relations had been said to be at their lowest ebb since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

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Beyond Baghdad

The battle for Baghdad is about to begin in earnest, according to numerous reports this morning. The invasion forces are said to be "poised" and a massive ground offensive is "imminent".

US planners appear satisfied that continuous pounding by bombs has left the Republican Guard forces who protect the Iraqi capital sufficiently "degraded" (as the military put it) for the war to move on to the next phase. The important Medina division of the Republican Guard has been reduced to 50% of its fighting strength, the Pentagon says.

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Rumsfeld 'resisting' Powell's Iraq team

A NEW chapter opened yesterday in the battle for control of US policy in postwar Iraq.

A US official told The Times that Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, was resisting State Department appointments to the administration-in-waiting, at least one of whom is already in Kuwait.

He said that the Pentagon had ruled that Mr Rumsfeld should personally approve appointments to the temporary US-British administration, “and there are many people who question his authority to take that decision, including, I assume, the Secretary of State”.

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A 'terrible, bloody' miscalculation

Noting that George W. Bush's approval rating was 52 percent on Sept. 10, 2001, and 90 percent on Sept. 12 when he was a president under foreign attack, Peck suggested a similar phenomenon might be at work for Saddam Hussein, as despicable as he is. He said that when you invade a foreign country, the people there just might view you as invaders rather than liberators.

Peck thinks the United States will probably win this war eventually, but it will be harder than our leaders anticipated and will cost us dearly in national morale, solidarity and international prestige. And we'll be paying a high price for a long time to come in increased Middle Eastern instability and acts of terrorism.

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Neocons like Goldberg, Reiland are imperialists

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg and his neoconservative allies have not been shy about criticizing those on the Left who resort to character assassinations against their opponents in an effort to stifle debate. Yet, it is Goldberg & Co., whining like little schoolgirls, now are using the “anti-Semitic” card in an effort to intimidate those who dare question the influence of Israel on U.S. foreign policy.

Goldberg has targeted four prominent Catholics — Robert Novak, Pat Buchanan, Chris Matthews, and Rep. James Moran (one can only imagine his private thoughts of the Pope) — who have suggested that one of the reasons the Bush administration has targeted Iraq is for the benefit of Israel’s security interests. Wherever one stands on this issue, it should at least be open for debate. While attacking all, Goldberg’s ire is directed most toward Buchanan and his so-called well-established “Jewish problem.” Goldberg charges Buchanan with blaming Jews for the war with Iraq with his attacks on “neoconservatives,” a phrase Goldberg described as a code word for “Jewish conservatives.”

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Bush’s Early Blunders in the War Are Downplayed by the American Media

Although Arabic television networks may well be overemphasizing the civilian carnage in Iraq, the American media is just as obligingly de-emphasizing it as they underplay the early mistakes of U.S. and British forces. For starters, although their cause is in dispute, the explosions in the two Iraqi markets that killed 17 and 50-plus civilians—so far, two of the highest one-time death tolls of the war—were certainly newsworthy, but received only modest attention. This should alert an informed observer to the possibility that the American media are downplaying other uncomfortable facts in the military campaign.

Although we’ve heard whisperings from official Washington that the civilian leaders at the Pentagon—many of whom have had no prior military experience—may have underestimated the enemy, the extent of that bungling has been glossed over in the press. When invading any country, regardless of its military capabilities on paper, a key question becomes whether the population will support or oppose the invading forces. The Bush administration may have deluded itself about how much the Iraqis might love the U.S. imposition by force of a restricted form of democracy and self-determination. Although hawks would like to pass off the fierce resistance encountered to Saddam’s most loyal thugs or people fighting because those thugs are holding a gun to their heads, evidence trickling in suggests that many Iraqis, including anti-Saddam Shiites, regard U.S. forces as invaders rather than liberators.

Exporting democracy at the point of a gun is like a persistent telemarketer repeatedly calling at dinnertime; even if the product is great, you are in no mood to buy it when your privacy has been involuntarily violated. In the long-term, the will of Iraqis to resist could create the conditions for a guerrilla war long after the major battles are won (à la the second war in Chechnya). In the short-term, the battle for Baghdad could be intense and costly.

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Shedding No Tears for Iraqi Civilians

While one soldier confided to Franchetti that he was horrified at the civilian toll, other U.S. Marines have taken a different approach to liberating Iraq:

"The Iraqis are sick people and we are the chemotherapy," said Corporal Ryan Dupre. "I am starting to hate this country. Wait till I get hold of a friggin' Iraqi. No, I won't get hold of one. I'll just kill him."

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The lesson of Lebanon: 'Don't forget to leave'

The central aim of the military operation was to smash the looming terrorist threat, but it was also a stab at refashioning the Middle East by installing a pro-Western government. The first troops in the south took Shiite Muslim towns, where locals were relieved to be rid of an oppressive regime. Some cheered the foreign invaders.

That may sound like a description of the current war in Iraq, but the military in question was Israel's, the invaded country was Lebanon, and the date was 1982. It would be 18 years before the last weary, despised Israeli soldier left. And while there are never exact historical parallels, Israel's experience in Lebanon - an ambitious invasion that turned into a draining quagmire - is a cautionary tale for the American war in Iraq.

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