Over There

Iraq — let us not forget Iraq.

Is the news good or bad? Well, it depends. In March 2005, fewer U.S. troops have been killed (32, 35, as of this writing) than in any month since February 2004, when 20 died. That’s good, and I list it first only because the impression one gets is that there are few hard, dependable facts in the Land Between Two Rivers. Our casualty list is one.

Most days, I still scan the headlines on the Iraq Coalition Casualties site. Maybe that’s part of the reason I have an ongoing unease about what’s happening over there even as the war has been pushed into the background here. The current lineup of items starts with this news from the Pentagon:

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

“Pfc. Samuel S. Lee, 19, of Anaheim, Calif., died March 28 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, from non-combat related injuries. Lee was assigned to 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Greaves, Korea.”

The rest of today’s headlines from the page:

–Reuters: U.S. Citizen Kidnapped in Iraq with Three Romanians

–AP: Mississippi soldier loses legs, three others wounded in Iraq

–Ark City Traveler: Winfield soldier still recovering

–DOD: Troop-Strength Assessment in Iraq Expected This Summer

–KUNA: U.S. questions UN conclusions on malnutrition among Iraqi children

–CENTCOM: MARINE KILLED IN ACTION

–KUNA: Four killed, three wounded in booby-trapped car in Mosul

–MEMRI: Kirkuk: Between Kurdish Separatism and Iraqi Federalism

–CENTCOM: MQ-1 PREDATOR CRASHES IN IRAQ

–AP: Accused Soldier Has Hearing Postponed

–KUNA: Two Iraqis killed in separate incidents

–DOD: Joint Repair Facility Extends Robot Lives

–Reuters: Syria demands Iraq release two accused of spying

–Reuters: Six Iraqis killed as insurgents battle US troops

–DemocracyNow: Halliburton Employee Says He Was Gang-Beaten By Co-Workers

–Anatolia: 36 Iraqis In Baghdad have AIDS – Health Ministry

–Stars and Stripes: 31st MEU arriving in Okinawa Saturday

–KUNA: Two Iraqis killed in blast

–AP: Nearly twice as many Iraqi children going hungry since Saddam’s ouster

–MOD: British soldier was found dead

–AP: Car bomb in Baghdad kills one; attackers fire on Shiite pilgrims

–National Guard and Reserve Mobilized as of March 30, 2005

–USA TODAY: Tanks take a beating in Iraq

–AP: Number of prisoners held by U-S in Iraq doubled in five months

–AFP: Seven Iraqis killed in attacks

–Beacon News: Wounded GI gets much-needed help

–aljazeerah: One American, Three Romanians Kidnapped

–WorldNow: Local Soldier Severely Injured

–KUNA: Up to 2,000 soldiers join Iraqi army in Khout

–irib: US Forces Wound Iraqi Basketball Federation Head

–newstandardnews: Rise of Extremism, Islamic Law Threaten Iraqi Women

–RFE: Iraqi Army More Visible On Baghdad Streets

–iribnews: Iraq closes border checkpoint

Whatever the reality is, all that accounts for just a fragment. Not a comforting fragment, though. (And, of all the stories above, here’s the one I’d check out first: The tale of the Halliburton worker from New Mexico who was reportedly beaten so badly by fellow employees that he’ll need to be evacuated to an Army facility in Germany for treatment. The story suggests the motive was racial — the victim is Latino, the assailants are part of a group from Louisiana that the story refers to as a “redneck Mafia.”)

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