August 27, 2007

Grace Paley, Dead at 84

August 25, 2007

Iraqi detainee numbers up 50%

A bit from the NY Times article by Tom Shanker:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 24 — The number of detainees held by the American-led military forces in Iraq has swelled by 50 percent under the troop increase ordered by President Bush, with the inmate population growing to 24,500 today from 16,000 in February, according to American military officers in Iraq.

...Nearly 85 percent of the detainees in custody are Sunni Arabs, the minority faction in Iraq that ruled the country under the government of Saddam Hussein; the other detainees are Shiites, the officers say.

Military officers said that of the Sunni detainees, about 1,800 claim allegiance to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown extremist group that American intelligence agencies have concluded is foreign-led. About 6,000 more identify themselves as takfiris, or Muslims who believe some other Muslims are not true believers. Such believers view Shiite Muslims as heretics.

Those statistics would seem to indicate that the main inspiration of the hard-core Sunni insurgency is no longer a desire to restore the old order — a movement that drew from former Baath Party members and security officials who had served under Mr. Hussein — and has become religious and ideological.

But the officers say an equally large number of Iraqi detainees say money is a significant reason they planted roadside bombs or shot at Iraqi and American-led forces.


The rise in numbers seems to indicate that the US military is using similar insurgency-combating tactics as the French in Algeria: round up the suspected and...then...what? Is there any other way to put down an insurgency? Just when you think you've got all the politically and religiously motivated rounded up, here come the soldiers of fortune.

Is there any denying that War is attractive because it is profitable, especially when your economy is struggling.

August 16, 2007

I Have Moved

Sorry for such a long hiatus--not that anyone is really out there waiting with bated breath for my posts--but I like to err on the side of decorum.

One reason for the long break is that we have moved to Virginia. I am now gainfully employed at Sweet Briar College. Extremely beautiful country down here. Cell phone reception is awful, but that's a perk as far as I'm concerned. I'll post pictures ASAP.

Those of you in Southern Virginia: I'm giving a reading at the College Sept 5th at 8 pm. Mail me for more info at