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By Bill Gallagher

"The suffering that Iraqi men, women and children are enduring today is unbearable and unacceptable." -- Pierre Kraehenbuehl, International Committee of the Red Cross.

DETROIT -- A Red Cross report titled "Civilians without Protection: The Ever-Worsening Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq" was prepared after the American military surge in Baghdad began on Feb. 14. The assessment described conditions in Iraq, where a third of the population lives in poverty, unemployment is skyrocketing and food shortages are increasing.

Britain's Mirror reported, "Water, sewage and electricity systems are close to collapse. ... There is a critical lack of medical care as doctors and nurses do not dare to visit hospitals and clinics because they are targeted and threatened." More than half the doctors have fled the country following the murder or abduction of colleagues.

The Red Cross report concluded the people in "liberated" Iraq are caught in desperation. "Their lives and dignity are continuously under threat. The humanitarian situation is steadily worsening and affecting all Iraqis," the report stated.

Pierre Kraehenbuehl, the director of operations for the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland, said his organization "calls on all those who can influence the situation on the ground to act now to ensure that the lives of ordinary people are spared and protected."

In a recent speech, President George W. Bush relied on the views of friendly bloggers to measure progress in Baghdad. The president's speechwriters turned to a dated column in the Wall Street Journal to pirate a line from brothers Omar and Mohammed Fadhel, who wrote that these days they see "positive change" in Baghdad.

These guys -- both dentists -- must have cleaned Sen. John McCain's teeth after he took his delightful stroll through a Baghdad market. McCain claims Baghdad is safer these days and the surge he champions is working.

The bulletproof vest he was wearing, the three Blackhawk helicopters flying overhead and the 100 troops surrounding him provided a security blanket ordinary people in Iraq don't receive. McCain's sunny-side-of-the-street assessment renders him politically insignificant. When you drink Bush's Kool-Aid, you die with him.

The Red Cross sought out less politically inspired views of everyday life in Baghdad. Kraehenbuehl told the Associated Press how one of his Red Cross colleagues polled several Iraqi women, asking them what "their most pressing need was."

After a long silence, one of the women answered with a request that ought to be repeated to every member of Congress and included in every statement they make about Iraq: "The most important thing that anyone could do is to help collect the bodies that line the streets in front of our homes every morning. No one dares to touch them, but for us it is unbearable to have to expose our children to such images every day as we try to bring them to school."

The Bush twins should be volunteering for that duty, along with every chapter of the College Young Republicans. Rush Limbaugh could give up the drugs to offer his services. Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter should be packing their bags to join in the mortuary duties.

Last week's "positive change" in Baghdad included a suicide bomber waltzing into the Green Zone and setting off an explosion in the Iraqi Parliament Building, and a truck bomb destroying the Sarafiyah Bridge over the Tigris River, killing 10 people.

Bush did not mention a single word about the present suffering of the Iraqi people in his speech last week at an American Legion Post in Fairfax, Va.

This particular performance was an unbearable recitation of some of his greatest lies and stunning attempts to rewrite history. Bush rattled off his usual refrains about how Sept. 11, 2001, defined the era we live in and how "we thought that oceans and friendly neighbors could protect us from attack." "We"?

Bush forgot about the British crossing the Niagara River in the War of 1812 and burning Lewiston, N.Y., to the ground. He seems to have missed World War II, with the Japanese invading and occupying the Aleutian Islands in Alaska and those Nazi U-Boats trolling Manhattan and Miami Beach.

Bush must be the last person on earth to think the oceans could protect us from a Soviet missile attack. Remarks like that are so insulting to the intelligence of the audience, it is a wonder people don't groan out loud or just walk out. But, of course, that's why Bush chooses friendly venues and brain-numbed crowds for his theater-of-the-absurd performances.

He repeated his litany of lies: "We want to defeat them there, so we don't have to face them here." "We're doing hard work in Iraq. I made a decision to remove a dictator, a tyrant who was a threat to the United States, a threat to the free world."

Bush neglected to mention that "threat" was nonexistent weapons. His big applause line was "the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power." Most of the Iraqi people don't agree with that. Bush never mentions the costs and consequences of removing the dictator.

He claimed there are "encouraging signs" and drifted into a partisan harangue, never recognizing the failures of his strategic plans and demanding blind allegiance from Congress for anything he wants to do in Iraq. He impugned the patriotism of anyone who opposes him and used "failure to fund our troops" as a cowardly shield to prevent serious examination of his failed policies.

Robert Fisk, the celebrated war correspondent for Britain's Independent, reported Bush's plans for Baghdad involve creating "gated communities" where "U.S. forces in the city are now planning a massive and highly controversial counter-insurgency operation that will seal off vast areas of the city, enclosing whole neighborhoods with barricades and allowing only Iraqis with newly issued ID cards to enter."

Fisk notes the French tried the system of "gating" areas with insurgents in Algeria, the Americans tried in Vietnam, and Israel has employed similar methods in occupied Palestinian territory.

"The system has been used -- and has spectacularly failed -- in the past and its inauguration in Iraq is as much a sign of American desperation at the country's descent into civil conflict as it is of U.S. determination to 'win' the war against the Iraqi insurgency that has cost the lives of more than 3,200 American troops."

Bush will send more Americans and Iraqis to their deaths in a vain attempt to salvage something in Iraq and blame others for his doomed strategy.

The doubts about Bush's surge are reflected in the desperation to create a new job the White House has dubbed "war czar." It's noteworthy that retired Army general Jack Keane, one of the authors of the surge plan, rejected the offer of the job.

Keane and neocon strategist Frederick Kagan came up with their surge plan to counter the approach outlined in the bipartisan Iraq Study Group report that advocated a phased withdrawal of American forces.

Bush -- who claims he listens to his commanders -- ousted Gens. John Abizaid and George Casey when they recommended against the surge. Author Robert Parry wrote on the Smirking Chimp Web site that Keane's refusal to serve as war czar is "another sign of the doom and gloom that surrounds Bush's latest plan."

Parry pointed to the doubling of U.S. casualties over the last seven weeks. "When the summer temperatures start exceeding 100 degrees, the scattered American troops living in police stations will face other challenges, avoiding dehydration and staying supplied," Parry wrote.

"One seasoned observer of Iraq told me that the idea of scattering U.S. soldiers to police outposts is madness," he added.

Bush and Osama bin Laden are united in a terrifying political ecosphere, a sinister symbiosis. Bush is bin Laden's greatest ally.

British think tank the Oxford Research Group just issued a study showing the "war on terror" is only fueling more violence, and the United States and Great Britain are trying to use military might to "keep the lid" on problems, rather than deal with the causes of terrorism. As a result, the study found the policies are "actually increasing the likelihood of more terrorist attacks."

Bush's war is a gift that keeps giving to terrorists. The report concluded, "Treating Iraq as part of the war on terror only spawned new terror in the region and created a combat training zone for jihadists."

Bush delights bin Laden. The president of the United States is an arrogant, incompetent, dangerous fool. He is a clear threat to our national security. There is only one choice: Impeach the bastard!

Bill Gallagher, a Peabody Award winner, is a former Niagara Falls city councilman who now covers Detroit for Fox2 News. His e-mail address is gallaghernewsman@sbcglobal.net.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com April 17 2007