The Horror of Babylon

The same old story this morning from the other side of the planet, the familiar threesome of terror: 2,000 people driven out of their homes in a town outside the capital, 17 people killed by a suicide bomber, and a massive outbreak of diarrhea caused by contaminated water, which was caused in part by the bombings and chaos.

That was Afghanistan. It was even worse in Iraq.

In the northern city of Kirkuk, twin suicide bombings within 20 minutes killed more than 80 people in Kirkuk. The BBC reports that the blast destroyed the headquarters of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's political party, PUK.

Another British news source, the Times of London, carried a sweeping analysis Sunday morning of the U.S. debacle in Iraq. Sarah Baxter and David Cracknell cut through the b.s. as few U.S. newspapers do:

In theory the surge is a carefully laid plan to bring security to Baghdad and buy time for the Iraqi government to reach out to opponents. In practice, as one defence official out it: "The troops are paying with their lives for clearing streets in crummy neighbourhoods without any strategic context."

In the past five months an extra 30,000 troops have arrived in Iraq, boosting total US forces to 160,000. Operation Phantom Thunder, launched in June, is rolling through the Baghdad "belts" in the hope of denying insurgents havens from where they can launch attacks and car bombings. "We couldn't call it what it is — Operation Last Chance," one senior military official admitted.

US soldiers are living in Baghdad hot spots in joint security stations alongside Iraqi forces, yet the number of unidentified bodies in the capital was 40 percent higher in June than at the start of the surge. A suicide bomb in a market near Kirkuk killed more than 100 people last week.

That was last week's suicide bombing in Kirkuk.

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