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This site gets much traffic from all around the world, from people searching for news from Iraq, making it an ideal place to host stories from deployed forces in harm’s way.  In my travels I’ve met many budding writers who are now wearing boots and carrying rifles, and I found their stories so compelling that I want the world to see.

Glory Days

By Joseph L. Galloway
McClatchy Tribune News Service

Former secretary of state James Baker and his independent commission are searching for a new strategy for Iraq, and legislators of both parties will soon begin looking for a compromise answer to the same knotty problem. But it’s past time to start repairing the damage the Bush administration’s way of war has done to our Army and our Marine Corps.

Read more: Glory Days

Update: Humanitarian Catastrophe in Sri Lanka

Tensions have long existed between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil minority populations in Sri Lanka. But they began to veer into violence in 1972 when the Singhalese government declared that the national language would be Singhalese and the national religion Buddhism. These decrees effectively marginalized the Tamil minority in every way, as they were systematically denied access to universities, places in the government, and were widely discriminated against. Hostilities came to a head on July 23, 1983, when riots broke out that saw up to 3,000 Tamils killed and tens of thousands of Tamil homes and businesses destroyed.

Read more: Update: Humanitarian Catastrophe in Sri Lanka

First Person Singular: Larry Kahaner

I am a journalist, plain and simple. I believe in the adage that what ‘they’ don’t want you to write is journalism; everything else is publicity. I used to work in newspapers and magazines (Knight–Ridder, BusinessWeek) but as they became more corporate, less independent and the news hole got smaller I decided I wanted to write books. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and have published nine books. Yes, I still write for magazines, newspapers and the web on a freelance basis but books are my passion because you can delve deeply into a topic and give it the attention it deserves.

Read more: First Person Singular: Larry Kahaner

Iraq sinks deeper into chaos as our `friend’ turns the other way

By JOSEPH L. GALLOWAY
McClatchy Newspapers

Just when it seemed that the situation in Iraq couldn’t get any murkier, more muddled or more dangerous, it did. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, our “friend” or our client, if you will, has openly declared his independence from us and his dependence on his most important domestic supporter, the anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia.

Maliki, it’s becoming clear, is as big a part of the problem in Iraq as al-Sadr and his gang of thugs and murderers. But President Bush is, well, staying the course with Maliki with all the obstinacy that he’s displayed throughout his sojourn in Iraq. The Iraqi prime minister threw the idea of benchmarks for progress toward disarming the Iraqi militias and standing up competent and capable Iraqi army and police units back in the administration’s face last week.

Then, this week, he ordered American troops to pull down their security checkpoints around al-Sadr’s power base in Baghdad’s Sadr City, home to 2 million Shia. American troops had sealed off all the routes in and out of the neighborhood in an attempt to find an Iraqi-born American soldier who’s believed to have been kidnapped by the Mahdi Army militiamen.

Maliki obviously is never going to have any part of disarming the Mahdi militia, the Badr Corps or any other Shiite militia, as his nation descends into civil war. He doesn’t trust the Iraqi army or police any more than anyone else does. If there’s going to be a fight to the finish, Maliki wants the deck stacked in favor of the Shiites. What Washington wants is irrelevant and immaterial to Maliki at this point. Benchmarking and videoconferences with President Bush and rush visits to Baghdad by national security adviser Stephen Hadley won’t make any difference.

As we approach a December benchmark - standing up 330,000 ill-trained, ill-equipped and unreliable Iraqi army and police units who aren’t up to the job of keeping the lid from blowing off - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld announced that he’s inclined to approve a plan to add 30,000 more Iraqi troops to that force. That guarantees that American trainers and advisers to the Iraqi forces, as well as the other 147,000 embattled U.S. troops, will remain in Iraq for the foreseeable future unless the newly independent Maliki orders all of them to go home.

As if 30,000 more Iraqi troops, with the same hasty training, questionable leadership and ambiguous loyalties as the first bunch, might somehow make a difference. In a war full of futile gestures, that one takes the cake, Mr. Secretary.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that an important benchmark - a classified briefing chart prepared each month by the intelligence section of the U.S. Central Command - shows that Iraq is steadily edging closer to chaos. The chart, an “Index of Civil Conflict,” measures the escalation in sectarian violence since last February and highlights the ineffectiveness of the Iraqi security forces and the waning influence of moderate Iraqi religious and political figures.

It highlights a growing number of urban areas where ethic cleansing is under way and reports that violence is at an all-time high and spreading geographically in Iraq. The civil strife index chart mirrors the growing concern among the military commanders most closely involved with the war in Iraq, and it’s a warning that even worse news could be on the horizon.

Contrast that with President Bush’s recent declarations that although Iraq is a tough situation, we’re winning and victory and glory will be ours - or his - in the end. It’s also clear that our uniformed military leaders are worried that, when push comes to shove, the administration’s micromanagers will try to blame them for failing to achieve that victory with too few troops and too little freedom to change a failing course.

The most recent polls indicate that the number of Iraqis who want us out of there is approaching 70 percent. It may be ironic that the number of Americans who want us out of there, too, is nearing the same percentage. They want us to leave. We want us to leave. There’s nothing standing in the way of satisfying both majorities except a president, a vice president and a defense secretary who are willing to fight to the last man - willing to drive our military to utter destruction - before they’ll admit that they were wrong, wrong, wrong from deluded beginning to wretched end.

— ABOUT THE WRITER Joseph L. Galloway is former senior military correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers and co-author of the national best-seller “We Were Soldiers Once … and Young.” Readers may write to him at: P.O. Box 399, Bayside, Texas 78340; e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Muslim’s Blunt Criticism of Islam Draws Threats

By JOHN M. BRODER

LOS ANGELES, March 10 — Three weeks ago, Dr. Wafa Sultan was a largely unknown Syrian-American psychiatrist living outside Los Angeles, nursing a deep anger and despair about her fellow Muslims.

Today, thanks to an unusually blunt and provocative interview on Al Jazeera television on Feb. 21, she is an international sensation, hailed as a fresh voice of reason by some, and by others as a heretic and infidel who deserves to die.

In the interview, which has been viewed on the Internet more than a million times and has reached the e-mail of hundreds of thousands around the world, Dr. Sultan bitterly criticized the Muslim clerics, holy warriors and political leaders who she believes have distorted the teachings of Muhammad and the Koran for 14 centuries.

Read more: Muslim’s Blunt Criticism of Islam Draws Threats

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