Update on Sunday’s Baghdad bombings.

"As the floodwater from broken water mains and sewers drained away, workers continued to hunt for victims amid the wreckage from Sunday’s bomb blasts, recovering still more bodies on Monday as the death toll climbed to as much as 155 — including an uncertain number of children — with more than 500 wounded." 

"Elsewhere in Iraq on Monday, a suicide car bomber struck a checkpoint outside Karbala in the afternoon, killing four civilians, according to Sattar Ardawi, chief of the Karbala provincial council’s security committee.

In Babel Province, south of Baghdad, three beheaded bodies were found at an abandoned farm about 25 miles north of Hilla, one that of an Iraqi soldier, according to a security source in the provincial government. In Mosul, in northern Iraq, four people died in three separate attacks."  NY Times


Predictably, the place is coming apart again. 

The neocons and their media supporters have immediately raised the prospect of a halt to withdrawal.  That merits discussoin here.  pl

PS – I remember St. George's Anglican church well from my visits to Baghdad in the 80s. 

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22 Responses to Update on Sunday’s Baghdad bombings.

  1. RAISER William says:

    The place MAY be “coming apart again”, but we’re not the ones to put it back together again.
    We also should look at a more extended time period. One horrific day does not a trend make.
    The situation in Iraq is not good, but I think the data will not support the notion that it has yet deteriorated significantly from when US troops were more active (see Juan Cole for further elaboration on this theme).

  2. Turcopolier says:

    OK. It is MY OPINION that what we have been seeing is the beginning of a process of unraveling of the “purple thumb” state. pl

  3. mo says:

    Ah the rock and the hard place. Only those without honor were willing to work with the occupation forces and its those without honor that are left in charge.
    Won’t work in Iraq, won’t work in Afghanistan.
    My guess..Prepare for the return of Al Sadr, a man the Sunnis will work with and trust. The question will be how dirty Maliki will get to put obstacles in that Shia-Sunni alliance. That will dictate how badly the country falls apart.

  4. Nancy K says:

    We made this mess and if life were fair we would fix it. But life isn’t fair and we can’t fix it. We need to leave and hope that the Iraqi’s can get it togather.

  5. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    I don’t follow Iraq that closely but are we at the one state versus three states (Kurdistan, Sunnistan, Shiastan) situation there yet?
    Is there any merit to keeping the place whole as it is today? Or should we just let nature take its course and the three states evolve out of the present and coming bloodbath?
    I imagine Turkey would have some interest in the matter as would Iran….???
    Would Israel prefer a Balkanized Iraq and then redoing that pipeline project to Haifa with their Kurdish buddies?
    Iraq was created by the British after WWI out of the three old Ottoman vilayets of Mosul, Baghdad, and Basra. From Mosul the British would run the oil pipeline to Haifa where they had a refinery in place for fuel for their fleet in the Eastern Med. This is a reason the UK wanted the Palestine mandate — for strategic position. They had to cut some deals with the French first but then after that was done they moved forward.

  6. crf says:

    The American government does owe Iraq a lot, because America did invade, did wipe out the government, and was in charge. But since the US invasion, America has given enough lives and space for an Iraqi independent government to form. It isn’t the United States’ fault (or only a little of its fault) if that hasn’t happened yet.
    Any more American involvement should come in aid, mostly. Military aid should come in discrete, small bits. In particular to help with potential border conflicts with Turkey.
    Why should the US taxpayers and citizens fund wars long after they become pointless? Because they are the only people rich enough, and with a parliament gutless and corrupt enough, to pay for them. After a point, after all the reasons you originally had a war have been discredited, you have to recognize that most of what’s left as a reason for continuing is well greased momentum from the military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned about.

    Suggestion to NeoCons:
    Raise your own private armies, with your own private financing, and contract with Baghdad.
    Or take up a cheaper passtime, like watching football or playing Wii.

  7. Brad Ruble says:

    Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t mean to insult the people participating in this web site. And lord knows don’t mean Col. Lang. But I’m danged if I know who to trust and I can’t for the life of me point anyone in power I can believe.
    There doesn’t seem be anyone out there who knows anymore about what’s going on than I do and I hope that concerns you as much as it does me.
    Could some of this violence be caused by players that don’t want us to quit spending money on these war’s? Could it be that simple? I don’t know, but I could believe it.
    If these bombings were happening in Omaha it sure would look like something was unraveling to me.
    As far as I’m concerned I don’t want one more of our kids to die in that place.

  8. Jose says:

    The U.S.-Neocon policy in the Middle East:
    D-Day: Hey, quit your blubberin’. When I get through with this baby you won’t even recognize it.
    Otter: Flounder, you can’t spend your whole life worrying about your mistakes! You f*ck*d up – you trusted us! Hey, make the best of it! Maybe we can help.
    Flounder: [crying] That’s easy for you to say! What am I going to tell Fred?
    Otter: I’ll tell you what. We’ll tell Fred you were doing a great job taking care of his car, but you parked it out back last night and in the morning, it was gone. We report it to the police, your brother’s insurance company buys him a new car. D-Day takes care of the wreck.
    Flounder: Will that work?
    Otter: Hey, it’s gotta work better than the truth.
    Bluto: [thrusting six-pack into Flounder’s hands] My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.
    Otter: Better listen to him, Flounder, he’s in pre-med.
    D-Day: [firing up blow-torch] There you go now, just leave everything to me.

  9. Jackie says:

    Oh, the purple thumbs…remember when all the republicans showed up at a state of the union speech with purple thumbs?
    That has worked out very well. But not for the Iraqis. Not to mention the Afghanistanis.

  10. Fred says:

    To quote the NYT from April:
    ” They have been ruling us for 1,400 years,” said a Shiite army soldier who identified himself only as Abu Haidar, referring to the Sunni domination of Shiites in Iraq. “We took it over for four years, and they are slaughtering us.” and “Maj. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Mohammed Jasim, a senior commander at the Ministry of Defense, cited other factors behind the recent violence. They included what he called “reactions to political issues” that had divided Iraq since provincial elections in January and the release of thousands of detainees held by American forces into a feeble economy.
    As part of a new security agreement with Iraq that took effect this year, the Americans are required to release all Iraqis in their custody or to transfer them to Iraqi jails. “They are releasing detainees randomly, and some of the detainees who have been released might still have contact with Al Qaeda,” General Jasim said in a telephone interview. “And when they return back to their normal life and do not find work, they return back to Al Qaeda.””
    That non-existent civil war and the non-existent economic improvement $10 billion/month didn’t generate.
    Mo, “Only those without honor were willing to work with the occupation forces” is this before or after L. Paul Bremer fired the Iraqi army and banned from government employment anyone who had been in the Baath Party at any level?

  11. GSD says:

    What Iraq needs is another neo-con viceroy.
    I nominate Richard Bruce Cheney.
    Give him a palace and an elite guard and he’ll think he’s died and gone to heaven.

  12. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Chapel of Rothko. Chapel of Likud Zionism. The reverential worship of the ego and religious fervor for militant ethnic nationalism share much in common, particularly the ending. Disintegration.

  13. par4 says:

    Who would expect anything else from the yellow elephant chickenhawk neo-cons? I see a protacted low level guerilla war for years there. The Shias will never come to a political solution with the Sunnis. The Sunnis can’t win a full out civil war against the Shias,because they’re out numbered and no one else in the area is going to risk all out war for them.Better to get out now and let it happen.In the end we will still be legally and morally obliged to pay reparations to what ever Govt. prevails there.

  14. Brilliant strategy of those conducting attacks because seeds self-doubt throughout the spectrum of those trying at least to salvage a future for Iraq of some kind. Personally, I believe we are innocennts in that land and have no idea of what currents are running under the surface. The likelyhood of course is that those who try and swim while not understanding the currents will likely drown. US and Israel need to face the fact that a Frankenstein state with vast potential military power and resources has been created probably allied with Iran for mischievous purposes throughout this sensitive regions. The Kurds will again be subjected to the vagaries of US and Turkish and Iranian foreign policies. Is there a cure for any of this. Yes, just state on the record by a US President that Iraq is a stragic entity for US because of its OIL which US needs to stablize its unweildy dependence on foreign supply and do whatever is necessary to extract itself (that is the US) from Middle-Easter energy blackmail and manipulation. Also issue flat US guarantee of 1948 Israel borders, terminate dual citizen after passage of next five years as transition period, and announce total embargo of conventional weaponary to all Petro states. This of course will have a short run adverse impact on US economy but in long run will allow a new strategic vision to be formulated for US foreign relations and foreign policy. Also mandate that 10% of DOD budget across the board go each year to STATE and AID as a single budgetary unit. Immediately grant full scholarships to those able and willing to learn non-European foreign languages and non-European cultural studies throughout non-profit higher ed.
    And withdraw from NATO unless willing to incorporate Russian over next 3 decades depending on Russian countermoves. Tell China that as long as Tawain is peacefully incorporated with protection of civil rights and liberties of that population a la HONG KONG that is now US policy. In return, China agrees to hep prevent nuclear proliferation anywhere in world beyond current nuclear powers and signs formal agreement with US that neither will adopt strategic doctrine of first use of nuclear weapons against each other. Does any of this above make sense? Perhaps and perhaps not! But Iraq is and has always been largely about OIL as stated by Jim Baker. And Israel has always been about US guilt about the holocaust and those it could have saved and also the interests of Jewish US citizens to prevent a further holocaust. This has led to a dead end policy that could drag the US further into the politics of a dysfunctional Islamic World that has failed to see that reason and faith may be incompatible in some ultimate sense. Demography alone dictates drastic policy changes by the US.

  15. Al Spafford says:

    Moving on to the “next war”, please read today’s Washington Post front page article on the ex-Marine Capt/Foreign Service officer’s resignation–“no longer knows why his nation is fighting…” Fairly well says it all.

  16. Harper says:

    I suspect that we are out of there, and that the “one bad day does not negate all the `good we did’ for the Iraqi people” will be the line from now until the last American troops and contractors leave. The place may come apart, it may stay intact (that’s my bet), but we will be gone, and the Iraqis have a history of pulling things together on their own, even if it does not meet our criteria for American or European style 21st century democracy. Oil is still the big issue for the future of the country, and I would not be surprised to see the Chinese come in, in a big way. They tend to actually invest in needed infrastructure, so something may come of that. Vietnam convinced me that “domino theories” are not all they are cracked up to be, and so I say, let’s see if the Iraqis, as one state or three, work with their neighbors to bring some stability, eventually–even if it takes a few more years of bloody internal warfare. I hope not. By the way, the Turks are not an insignificant factor in helping bring stability to the region–the PM is in Iran for two days as we speak–and if we succeed in getting the Iranians into a negotiating process, that could significantly help stabilize the region. Hillary Clinton has established a good working relationship with her Russian counterpart, Lavrov, and the Russians have a strong vested interest in stability in both Iran and Iraq. The neocons screwed things up in Iraq and Afghanistan so badly, that our absence is probably an improvement. Maliki has proven to be a more adept politician, and I don’t rule out that he pulls off some Sunni/Shia coalition deal for the upcoming elections. Either way, since Iraq was a perfect case study of neocon failure, let’s see if a post-neocon occupation Iraq can fend better for itself. I’m not a gambler, but I have noted that, after 15 years of civil war, nobody in the factionalized elites of Lebanon was anxious to plunge back into that maelstrom, so maybe Iraqis will have the same reaction and find some internal compromises to avoid further bloodbath.

  17. jamzo says:

    a mcclatchy article says large trucks were used for the bombing
    “An Interior Ministry official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he isn’t authorized to make public statements, said the water tanker was packed with C-4, plastic explosives, and the refrigerated truck contained TNT, a chemical compound widely used in bomb-making.”

  18. ISL says:

    Clifford Kiracofe: I cant see any reason why it is in the US interest to break Iraq up (or not). Seems that our efforts to force societies to be the way we (or those in power) think they should be generally seems to blow-back in unpredictable ways.
    I argue that the US owes Iraqi’s a lot after everything we have done (for decades. IMO we should repay that debt with preferable trade access and low interest loans for development, and otherwise, let Iraq figure it all out for themselves.
    Perhaps we should also work diplomatically with regional powers to minimize Iraq becoming a proxy-war battleground for said regional powers.
    I suppose historians will debate for a long time if the unraveling is purely internal contradictions, or proxy, or both.

  19. curious says:

    k’ been several days since the bombing. It doesn’t seem to generate massive political and internal rift. So Maliki seems to have his government under control at least. So the bombing is not insider job.
    Since some crazy sounding group calling itself “sunni” this and that claim to be responsible. Which has no point but pissing people off/exploit social division. I for one think heavily as part of recent massive series of terrorists attack across the area. (yep, Pakistan bombing, Iran, Iraq. Plus afghanistan renewed offensive)
    1. Al Qaeda coordinated capability is increasing in the 4 countries.
    2. They (whatever al qaeda is now) is trying to turn af-pak into low level war zone ala kashmir. Better make sure pakistan, afghanistan, Iran are ready.
    The generals in charge should be VERY alert in “hot areas” in af pak because al qaeda goal right now is to create “fallujah” type of incident. (small dubious incidence involving US-local population that can be magnified as Islam vs. US.) ..or anything related to this… this is Al qaeda specialty. be VERY alert, because they really know how to rile up the public. They know local politics.
    3. If one wants to watch how al qaeda persuade an area to join them (threat of violence, persuasive religious talk, targeted assassination, buy out, polarization of local politics, US/west is to blame, etc. etc) Now is the time to put ear on the ground in kunar/northeast area. They are trying to redo the 90’s taliban swept again.
    Extract their talking point, the mid/low level agitators/operative, general methodology.
    This is a rare opportunity to watch them work from scratch.
    4. International media control. Nobody runs around hysterically on “religion” and “race” or whatever ‘lizard brain’ type of divisive topics. Remember that “sweden” muslim cartoon from way back? My sense that sort of stupid stuff will happen again soon. designed specifically to incite religious/ethnic/race polarization.
    Shut down fox news and Israel operative. Israel is second biggest threat after al qaeda during this type of media war because they stand to gain continuing strife between US and Islamic world.
    Bottom line. Think first before a small random event turning into manufactured public outrage.

  20. utopian says:

    Colonel Lang: Former Marine Corps Captain Matthew Hoh resigned from Afghanistan diplomatic post on Sept. 10, 2009 after 5 months in Zabul province as Senior Civilian Representative for the U.S. govt. His four page letter echoes many of the sage observations you made at the New York University debate event. Here is the link to his letter:

  21. Patrick Lang says:

    Kind of you to say so. pl

  22. YT says:

    “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,'” Alice said.
    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t – till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!'”
    “But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,'” Alice objected.
    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”
    Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again.
    “They’ve a temper, some of them – particularly verbs, they’re the proudest – adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs – however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”
    From “Through the Looking-Glass”, by Lewis Carroll
    Col., sir:
    More COIN then, I s’ppose? But “glory”?
    “In Sixteen Hundred and Forty-Eight
    When England suffered the pains of state
    The Roundheads lay siege to Colchester town
    Where the king’s men still fought for the crown
    There One-Eyed Thompson stood on the wall
    A gunner of deadliest aim of all
    From St. Mary’s Tower his cannon he fired
    Humpty-Dumpty was its name
    Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
    Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
    All the king’s horses,
    And all the king’s men,
    Couldn’t put Humpty together again.”
    More falls to come…

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