Tuesday, September 07, 2004

US Army death toll reaches 1000

A grim milestone if you will, but the death toll of American soldiers that have died in Iraq has reached 1000 with the lastest violence in Baghdad killing 13 US troops. The Christian Science Monitor reports that August has been the worst month for US troops since the invasion, with an average of 100 attacks a day. It is sad because it was a waste of life, not a worthy cause as President Bush claims it to be. He acts like he cares for veterans, but really does not baecuse he has made cuts for their helth care & other benefits - a professor of mine who is also a Vietnam war veteran confirmed it. I think of those parents, family members and friends like the one in Fahrenheit 9/11, who have to deal with their irreplacable loss. I know many of you want to say, what about the thousands of Iraqis who have died? Yes, that is sad too, but death in a war is not a competition. Every innocent victim of war is a tragedy and deserves to be mourned & treated with respect.

The article goes on to say that "Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, one of the highest-ranking US generals in Iraq, did not dismiss the concept of holding January elections throughout the country while "leaving out any lone rebellious enclave." This would seriously undermine the elected officials taht come into power & throw the country into further chaos. In Najaf, residents took to the streets Monday calling on radical cleric Moqtada Sadr and his Mehdi Army militia to leave the holy Shiite city.

From Informed Comment: "Meanwhile, Deutsche Press Agentur via al-Zaman reports that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani held his first explicitly political meetings on Monday at his office, seeing in turn Najaf Governor Ali al-Zurfi, young radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and a representative of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Amar al-Hakim. Sistani had earlier intervened to stop Iraqi National Guards from surrounding Muqtada's house. The discussions focused on the security situation in the city, and on means of implementing the security agreement that ended the siege of the city. Sistani's spokesman said the Grand Ayatollah urged all the parties to adhere to the agreement, and to maintain national unity and avoid bloodshed. (It is interesting that a grand ayatollah should make his plea based on "national unity" rather than on Islam or Shiite Islam). Sistani had begun the day by leading dawn prayers on Monday in the mosque of the Shrine of Ali for the first time in 20 years, signalling a return of the city to stability."

Speaking of death, just a comment that even if it doesn't make the news, countless number of Palestinains die every day and their homes destroyed due to Israeli aggression. I would urge you to check out the website for UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) that works with Palestinian refugees in the Occupied Territories & neighboring refugee camps. You can also sign up for their mailing list for updates every couple of weeks. It is amazing how even UN operations are seriously thwarted by the Israeli military: for instance their latest complaint is that Isreali soldiers broke into a UNRWA girls school to use it as a detenetion & interrogation facility for males aged 16-40. Another news report today is about a young girl who was hit in the head by a bullet from Israeli shooting nearby. I beleive education is the best way to overcome violence, but how are Palestinians expected to progress if educational institutes are also targeted.

In other news, South African President Thabo Mbeki on Tuesday welcomed members of Israel's governing Likud Party as "friends" with whom South Africa wants to work closely as he opened talks aimed at sharing his country's experience of reconciliation.The visit by the eight-member delegation from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's party marks the first time that the Likud Party was holding official talks with South Africa on efforts to bring peace to the Middle East. It will be interesting to see how that goes. In more news, three Palestinian factions that boycotted the last elections gave their backing Sunday for plans to hold fresh polls in the West Bank and Gaza Strip next year.

As the world especially Russians try to deal with the horror of the deaths at a school, this article from the NY Times is completely out of line - the writer claims that "Muslim terrorists" enjoy a "Cult of Death" that allows them to massacre innocent people, without taking into consideration that the hoplessness & tragedy that befalls the perpetrators. Such violence is never justified, but there is a reason for the problem & the roots of most of them are Western injust policies. The quicker we get to the root, the faster the problem will be solved.

Polls are indicating that Bush has gained lead after the Republican National Convention, but like in 2000, it doesn't matter who wins the popular vote - it is the swing states like Ohio, Michigan & Minnesota, that will determine the winner.