It doesn't take a great number of people to inflict a great deal of damage. Three suicide bombers last week killed 100 people in the Buthana mosque. Most casualties are caused by hidden explosives planted by a few people at night -- that has caused 25 percent of the fatalities against U.S. troops.
Cyndi from Hubert, N.C., asks: How valid are the comparisons to the Vietnam War?
Answer: I would say the comparison is not accurate. The memory of Vietnam is raised mostly in the context of the debate of whether the war is worth fighting in terms of the loss of lives of American soldiers and whether the war can be won.
The number of American service men and women here that have been killed is approaching 2,400 -- not anywhere close to the number killed in the decade-long conflict in Vietnam. That war lasted through all of the 1960s and into the 1970s before Saigon fell. The war to topple Saddam lasted less than one month, although most of the casualties have been in the period since Baghdad fell.
Vietnam was part of the Cold War containment policy; Iraq was attacked because it was believed that it posed a threat from weapons of mass destruction. Now the Bush administration links the efforts here as part of containing the war on terror.
Like Vietnam, the U.S. public is divided over whether American troops should continue their mission here. At this point in time there is no indication that American troops will be leaving any time soon.
But the way that war was fought and how this battle is being conducted are very different, from the strategies and tactics to the technology.
Military historians may be able to draw more comparisons, but from my vantage point as a journalist I think we are talking apples and oranges.
Bob from St. Louis asks: Ambassador Wilson reported that the documents that were cited as proof that Iraq was attempting to buy yellow cake from Niger were forged. I have never heard if anyone was curious about who forged the documents. Would it not be of interest to the media to find out who was behind the forgeries?
Answer: There have been numerous reports done on this story, but most were done outside of Iraq. My understanding is that Italian official stationery was involved, Niger officials could have been bribed, and the CIA. was aware. But I would have to refer you back to the Internet for the specific reporting that was mostly done out of Washington, and has been repeated often in light of the Amb. Wilson leak scandal.
April 11, 2006
John from Charlottesville, Va., asks: I've read and heard that U.S. bases in Iraq are huge and permanent -- is this true? Will U.S. forces in the thousands be stationed in Iraq for 20 or 50 years, as in Germany, Korea and Japan?
Answer:There are large U.S. and coalition facilities set up around the country, the most prominent ones being the group of camps near the airport, which include Camp Victory, the headquarters for the Multi-National Force command here. There is a big base at Balad where many of the supplies are distributed from, and there is a good size air base in Al Asad to the south near Nassiriyah.
The larger bases have taken over existing structures and added mobile housing units or air-conditioned tents to help with housing and office space.
There are also around 76 smaller forward operating bases around the country.