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Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Dozens Killed in Baquba

From the NY Times:
A car bomb exploded in a town north of Baghdad today, killing at least 51 people, according to the health ministry, in the worst such attack in Iraq since the United States-led coalition handed over formal sovereignty to the Iraqi government.

The Iraqi health ministry also said that 40 people were wounded and the death toll could rise. A statement from the United States military said the attack took place at a commercial district in the town of Baquba.

The attacker drove a car packed with explosives up to a crowd of people who had gathered outside of a police recruiting center and detonated it, said Gen Walid al-Azawi, chief of police in Diyala Province, according to The Associated Press.

Also in Iraq, 35 fighters, described by the military as "anti-Iraqi" fighters, were killed in a battle with American-led troops and Iraqi government forces. Seven Iraqi Force members were killed and 10 were injured during the operation in Suwayrah, the American military said in a statement.
Lives continue to be lost in service of a lie. The lie is no longer the one about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction; that one was totally exposed about a year ago. If that was why we went, then we should have pulled out immediately, leaving huge apologies and billions of dollars in reparation money behind, and the killing would have subsided. The lie that people are dying for now is the one that the invasion was about democracy. US troops continue to battle "insurgents" in the streets, bomb "safe houses" in Fallujah (an oxymoron if ever there was one), and try to recruit Iraqis as soldiers and cops in service to Allawi's corrupt puppet regime.

But neither Bush nor Kerry will admit, at least until after the election, that the war wasn't about weapons or democracy. If they would admit, now, that the goal was to steal Iraq's oil, they could dispense with all the puppetry and street patrols. Station all of the troops in impregnable fortresses in the oil fields, with constant and massive patrols along the pipelines and at the docks. Far fewer Iraqis would be killed, and "coalition" casualties would drop precipitously. The oil fields would be better protected, and could start producing at near capacity. Perhaps some of the funds could actually go to rebuild Iraq, as the neocons pretended in the first place.

Myself, I see some problems with this strategy--mainly that it would permit Americans another few years of denial about the eventual decline of the oil economy, and another few years of possibly irrevocable damage to the planet. But those are not the reasons why Bush and Kerry won't adopt this life-saving strategy, at least not yet. Leaving the cities and non-oil-producing countryside of Iraq to the Iraqis and building a fortress around the oil fields would make clear to Americans what has been clear to most of the world all along--the war in Iraq was simply naked aggression to steal oil. And Bush and Kerry have to maintain the lie that it wasn't, no matter how many lives it costs.

On a more practical note, can't they figure out a safer way to recruit cops in Iraq? Having everyone stand waiting in a big crowd doesn't seem to work very well for anyone except the car bombers. Maybe passing out tickets with appointment times on them, so recruits can come back just in time for their interview and not just stand around waiting to get bombed?