Wednesday, May 30, 2007

U.S. must honestly assess what is achievable in Iraq, says archbishop, by Julie Asher. Catholic News Service. May 30, 2007

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CNS) -- At this stage in the Iraq War, the United States "must honestly assess what is achievable in Iraq using the traditional just-war principle of 'probability of success,' including the probability of contributing to a responsible transition," said Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien.

The U.S. and its allies "also have a grave responsibility, even at a high cost, to help Iraqis secure and rebuild their nation," unless the conclusion is reached that "a responsible transition is not achievable," he said.

The archbishop, who heads the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, made the comments in a Memorial Day pastoral message to Catholic men and women in the U.S. armed forces. He delivered the same message at a packed session May 25 during the 2007 Catholic Media Convention in Brooklyn. [...]

Unfortunately, what many Catholic leaders and others predicted would happen in Iraq -- the chaos and the difficulties of consolidating peace -- has come true, he said.

What was missing at the outset of the war was a comprehensive blueprint to administer and restore Iraq after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was deposed, Archbishop O'Brien said. "There was not sufficient foresight about what we might do after our seeming victory."

The archbishop argued against pulling out of Iraq now, and said the U.S. must look at what is achievable. He added that military personnel feel that Americans at the grass-roots level still support them.

He thinks there is still a chance to have a free Iraq and see democracy spread through the region.

Archbishop O'Brien compared the Iraq situation to the Vietnam War. He was an Army chaplain in the early 1970s and served a year in Vietnam. The U.S. was gaining the upper hand there, he said, until the Tet offensive conducted by the North Vietnamese. Technically, it was a failed military action but it was a turning point in the war.

Political sentiment turned against U.S. involvement and the U.S. pulled out, but the archbishop said he thinks the U.S. still could have gotten the upper hand had it stayed.

During a question-and-answer session after the archbishop's address, one member of the audience argued that the American people were conned into getting into the war. Another said many opponents of the war feel the decision to invade Iraq was advanced by a small group of neoconservatives who wanted to get their hands on Iraq's vast oil supplies.

Archbishop O'Brien disagreed with both notions.

He said that "reasonable people can disagree" about the war. He said he could see why some might feel the nation was conned because there is a great deal of skepticism about the war, but added, "I don't think there was bad will on the part of the government" in deciding to go to war.

He also said, "I don't agree this was the invention of a small group that wanted oil."

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Encouraging News from the Front

  • From Bill Roggio's Iraq Report: Attacking Mahdi, al Qaeda prison camp in Diyala May 27, 2007:
    This morning, U.S. and Iraq forces struck yet again against the Mahdi Army in Sadr City. The joint force captured yet another member of a network "known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, from Iran to Iraq, as well as bringing militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training." This is the third such raid in Sadr City in 48 hours. Seventeen members of this network have been killed and 32 captured during numerous raids over the past three weeks. . . .

    In Diyala province, where al Qaeda has established a stronghold, Iraqi and U.S. security forces have broke up an al Qaeda "prison camp" and captured 7 al Qaeda during two separate raids. Today, a joint U.S. and Iraqi Army raid rescued 41 Iraqi civilians "showing signs of having been tortured or mistreated" from an al Qaeda run prison camp just south of the city of Baqubah. "Many of them showing signs of mistreatment ranging from broken bones and bruises to heat injuries caused by being held with insufficient water," AFP noted.

  • Memorial Day Message from Michael Yon, milblogger and combat photographer Michael Yon has good news from Mosul:
    Long-time readers know that I deliver bad news with the good. I was first to write that parts of Iraq were in civil war back in February 2005, well over a year before mainstream outlets started reporting the same. I was also the first to report, back in 2005, that Mosul was making a turn for the better. Mainstream outlets hardly picked up on that story, however, although the turn was easy to see for anyone who was there. When I returned from Afghanistan in the spring of 2006, after writing about the growing threat of a resurgent Taliban, bankrolled with profits from the heroin trade, I wrote that parts of our own military were censoring media in Iraq. The recent skirmishing over blogging from Iraq supports that contention. These reminders are for new readers who do not believe that a province that most media outlets had put at the top of the “hopelessly lost” column is actually turning a corner for the better. . . .

    Although there is sharp fighting in Diyala Province, and Baghdad remains a battleground, and the enemy is trying to undermine security in areas they’d lost interest in, the fact is that the security plan, or so-called “surge,” is showing clear signs of progress.

    Note If I had to recommend two blogs for daily reporting on Iraq and the WOT, it would be Michael Yon and Bill Roggio.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Vatican signals support for international meeting on Iraq, by Cindy Wooden. Catholic News Service. May 4, 2007:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican signaled its support for the international meeting on Iraq that took place in Egypt in early May, and Iraq's Chaldean bishops asked participating countries to do more to end violence and protect Christians in the country.

After former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami met Pope Benedict XVI May 4, the Vatican published a statement saying the two leaders reaffirmed "the need for strong initiatives by the international community, like that occurring in these days at the meeting in Sharm el Sheikh," Egypt, to bring peace to the Middle East.

More than 50 nations sent representatives to the May 3-4 meeting in Egypt to discuss debt relief, aid and security in Iraq. The participants included the United States and other members of the U.N. Security Council, the world's richest countries and nations bordering Iraq, including Iran.