Around Baghdad, Signs of Normal Life Creep Back
With security in Baghdad improving, residents across the city are taking steps to return to normalcy. More Iraqis are traveling between Shiite and Sunni areas to shop, work and go to school. While there are still neighborhoods too dangerous to enter, interviews across the city reveal the personal ways Baghdad residents are fighting to reclaim the lives they lost. Select below to see videos, photos and written reports from locations around the city.
"Look at all the people that have been displaced, all the [lost] oil production, unemployment, all those type of things," said Rep. John P. Murtha, chairman of Appropriations defense subcommittee. "We can't win militarily."
The Pennsylvania Democrat conceded violence was down dramatically and some normalcy restored on Iraq's streets, but he said U.S. victory remains unattainable as long as Baghdad fails to pass national reconciliation laws.
Even at the worst of the carnage Baghdad's Manufacturing Street — or Computer Street, as it is widely known to foreigners — never logged off completely. In electricity-deprived storefronts, some little bigger than newspaper kiosks, a determined but dwindling residue of the city's hardware engineers and software suppliers arrived for work, commuting past suicide bombings and roadside explosions.
Now traffic is up, on the street and online. One of the first encouraging signs in fact was long-absent friends' names — Ilove_Baghdad and Neighbour of the Moon — suddenly appearing back on the screen on Arabic chat sites.
The dim view of U.S. military progress in Iraq and a resolve to force a pullout have been echoed by the two top Democrats on Capitol Hill — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.
The funding standoff will force the Pentagon to make budget cuts at bases in the U.S. to cover the costs of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, including sending furlough notices to as many as 100,000 civilian employees, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said.
Would they really rather lose than be wrong?
The troop-surge strategy implemented this summer by Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, U.S. commander in Iraq, has produced measurable security gains, although the fledgling Iraqi government continues to move sluggishly to adopt national reconciliation laws.
U.S. military fatalities dropped sharply, from 101 in June to 39 in October. Iraqi civilian deaths also declined markedly, from 1,791 in August to 750 in October, Associated Press reported. Mortar rocket attacks by insurgents last month were the lowest since February 2006, as were the number of "indirect-fire" attacks on coalition forces.
Iraqi officials plan to reduce checkpoints, ease curfews and reopen some roads in and around Baghdad because of improving security. Sunni Arab tribal leaders in western Anbar province, now allied with the U.S. military, say al Qaeda is "almost defeated" in their once-chaotic region.
FROM BREIRBART: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday that Democrats will always insist that troops get what they need.
"If there is any delay in funding for our men and women in uniform, the responsibility will squarely lie with the president and Senate Republicans who are blocking the bill," Pelosi, D-Calif., said.
Obey and Murtha said they calculate the military has enough money to continue operations through March by eating into its $471 billion annual budget.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the military has only limited transfer authority.
"Those who think we have some sort of flexibility here are simply misinformed," Whitman told reporters on Tuesday. "We've entered into a very serious period here."
Murtha said the Pentagon was issuing "irresponsible" propaganda.
"They're scaring people," he said. "They're scaring the families of the troops. . .That's the thing that's so despicable."
Can you believe this? How transparent