Front Page: Iraq, March 29, 2003

Newspapers world press
The following is a compilation of today's newspaper reports about the Iraq crisis from around the country and around the world. It is just a sampling of different perspectives, designed to offer additional context into the conflict. Compiled by's Andrew Cohen.

From around the country:

Jeff Slivka of the Arizona Republic offered this: "Jerry Evert died a captain and was buried a lieutenant colonel. It was just the 35 years between the two events that were awful for his family. 'I'm hit hard,' Evert called out through his radio over Tien Chau, North Vietnam, on Nov. 8, 1967. It was the last time anyone ever heard from the Air Force pilot. He was listed as 'missing in action,' a phrase now back in currency as U.S. troops are captured in the current war with Iraq. He was listed that way from the day he was shot down — just hours before he was supposed to fly home to be at his daughter's birth — until 1978, when the Defense Department changed his status to 'killed in action.' 'We were grateful that he was declared missing instead of dead,' said his wife, Wanda Evert Allen of Chandler. 'It gave us some hope.' And so Allen prayed and prayed and found peace. 'I knew he was with God and that God would take care of him,' Allen said. But there were no answers. It's that way for many loved ones. When Marine Lance Cpl. Mike Williams of Phoenix was declared missing on Wednesday, the Marine officers who went to his mother's home to notify her knew nothing more than that the 31-year-old was missing during fighting near Nasiriyah. 'I'm in daily contact with them,' said Williams' mother, Sandra Watson, of Peoria. 'But they don't have any more news than I do.' The parents of Army Pfc. Lori Piestewa of Moenkopi know about as much as Watson, though they've had the added horror of seeing video of the aftermath of their daughter's unit being ambushed. It raises a question: Is not knowing better than knowing?"

Jules Criffenden of the Boston Herald filed this report from Iraq: "As we sat in the sand at dusk, eating our MRE dinners, enjoying the cool breeze and admiring a brilliant desert sunset, Lt. Nick Kauffeld mused. 'It's surreal,' he said. 'It's hard to believe we're at war and there are people out there who want to kill us. Back home, our families are probably all freaked out, thinking we're in all kinds of danger.' We had been talking about the interesting tracks lizards make in the sand around the desert scrub and the paw prints of some kind of dog that passed a few yards behind our Bradley in the middle of the night. Some GIs idly debated whether POD can be both a Christian band and a heavy metal band. A Company of the 4/64 Armor Battalion remains the farthest north of the U.S. ground push in Iraq, barring some cavalry scouts and special forces teams. But the battalion remains in a holding pattern, while 'shaping operations' and 'situational development' takes place to the satisfaction of the generals who will order them forward to attack the Republican Guard on the approaches to Baghdad. Minor skirmishes have taken place around surrounding units at night, as Iraqi raiders and reconnaissance units probe the American battle force. For the most part, those Iraqi units are utterly destroyed by air power, artillery and occasionally direct U.S. fire. The unit moved west a couple of kilometers in the early evening Thursday, startling a wild ass that bounded away from the tanks, stopping to look back. 'Hey, where did that (expletive) donkey come from?' said Pvt. Robert Baxter, the fire-support Bradley's driver. 'That must be Hajji's MLRS (multiple rocket launch system), a donkey with a couple of RPGs strapped to it. Or maybe he's spying for Saddam. He got air-dropped in. "Go on, donkey, tell us what you see."'"

Chuck Haga of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune focused on a local angle: "America assembled three more armies in a Minneapolis storefront office Friday: three more armies of one. 'These are some of my superstars,' said a proud Staff Sgt. Gary Flowers, a veteran paratrooper assigned to the U.S. Army's recruiting station on Lake Street. The war in Iraq has neither increased enlistments nor scared potential recruits away, Flowers and other Twin Cities recruiters say. Nor was it a primary factor for these three; the prospect of early combat neither enticed them nor gave them great pause. Sean Lazenby, 27, a college graduate, was born in Canada to an American mother who brought him back to the United States — to North Dakota — when he was 6 months old. 'My grandfather was in the Army for 25 years, and I have uncles who served,' he said. 'It seems to be a family tradition; and now it's my turn,' Lazenby said. Supuwuo Roberts, 17, will graduate from Minneapolis Washburn High School this spring. Born in Liberia, he came to the United States with his family when he was 4. As a child, he wanted to be a firefighter, then a police officer. 'I've always had a desire to protect people,' he said, 'especially in times like we're in now.'"

James Varney of the New Orleans Times-Picayune offered this: "When Adrien Brody won the Oscar for best actor and in his acceptance speech offered an emotional salute to a buddy named Tommy Zarobinski serving with the Army in Kuwait, the whole world was watching. The whole world except for Spc. Zarobinski, that is. Not only did Zarobinski miss the Oscar telecast, he hasn't even caught his pal's prize-winning movie. 'Adrien's probably going to kill me for saying this, but no,' Zarobinski said when asked whether he'd seen the 'The Pianist,' a Holocaust biopic about Polish keyboard wizard Wladyslaw Szpilman. 'It's the first thing I'm going to do when I get home, though.' Brody's Oscar night comment set off a media feeding frenzy in which Zarobinski was briefly, after Saddam Hussein, the second-most sought after man in the Middle East. On Friday, the Army delivered him to Camp Arifjan, near Kuwait's border with Iraq, for a round of interviews with various TV shows. Zarobinski, whose parents already had been subjected to a media assault at their home in Queens, N.Y., seemed bewildered by the attention, but handled it well — perhaps better than his father, some of whose recollections of the youthful Tommy and Adrien his son would just as soon forget. Nothing felonious, Zarobinski insisted, but things best left to history lest they 'blemish someone's reputation. Or my own.'"

Katy Muldoon of the (Portland) Oregonian filed this report: "Ten days into the war and some Oregonians are wearing their hearts on — or at least near — their sleeves. Salem Trophy Co. this week began making and selling slim red and blue anodized aluminum bracelets similar to the POW/MIA bracelets that wrapped 5 million wrists during the Vietnam War. 'It's really patriotic,' said John Salstrom, one of the company's owners. 'It makes us feel good to do it.' Proceeds from the lightweight bracelets, which cost $8, or $11 if they're personalized, will go to support needy families of deployed Oregon National Guard members. The generic version carries two inscribed lines. The top reads, 'Operation Iraqi Freedom.' The bottom: 'Until they all come home.' Personalized versions may carry the names of deployed soldiers, or those missing in action, such as U.S. Army Sgt. Donald Walters, a Salem native and one of at least 10 soldiers serving in Iraq who are missing from the Army's 507th Maintenance Company. Three days ago, Walters' sister, Kimberly, walked into the trophy company to see if it would make buttons featuring her brother's picture. When she saw the bracelets, she asked for a few inscribed with his name."

From around the world:

The Bahrain Tribune Daily offered this: "Several decorated Vietnamese war veterans who took part in humbling the U.S. military 28 years ago have warned the United States its campaign in Iraq is likely to become bogged down in lengthy and bloody urban guerilla warfare. Commenting on the U.S.-led invasion, which has been strongly condemned by Vietnam's government, the generals suggested that ultra-modern weaponry of the U.S.-British coalition would lack effectiveness against a determined enemy with better local knowledge and unorthodox tactics. 'The U.S. did not mobilize an adequate number of troops,' General Le Ngoc Hien, former Deputy Chief of the Vietnamese General Staff, told the Family and Society newspaper. The U.S. strategy of bypassing major towns in an all-out push toward the capital Baghdad was also questioned. 'The Iraqi army is maintaining a guerilla presence in those areas, such as Basra, which have been declared occupied. This will pose major headaches for the allied forces,' Hien said."

Pakistan's Dawn newspaper provided this perspective: "More senators condemned the U.S.-led war on Iraq on Friday but some also targeted President Saddam Hussein for his alleged oppressive policies as the upper house prolonged a debate on the Iraq situation. While Senate Chairman Mohammedmian Soomro seemed to be liberal in allowing members from both the treasury and the opposition benches to speak, there was no sign on the second day of the debate of an agreed draft of a resolution that the opposition parties wanted to be passed to condemn the U.S.-British blitz. After a total of nine speeches, compared to only four on the first day of the debate on Thursday, the chair adjourned the opposition-called session until 5 p.m. on Monday. Most speakers said the devastating invasion with the declared aim to disarm Iraq of its alleged weapons of mass destruction was actually motivated by economic interests and an ambition to control region's oil resources. However some others, like the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal leader, Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani, saw in the war religious aims against a fast growing Islamic faith."

Israel's Haaretz reported on a potential break in the Coalition advance toward Baghdad: "U.S. commanders have ordered a pause of four to six days in a northward push towards Baghdad because of supply shortages and stiff Iraqi resistance, U.S. military officers said on Saturday. They said the 'operational pause,' ordered on Friday, meant that advances would be put on hold while the military tried to sort out logistics problems caused by long supply lines from neighbouring Kuwait. Food rations have been cut for at least one frontline U.S. unit and fuel use has been limited. The U.S.-led invasion force would continue to attack Iraqi forces to the north with heavy air strikes during the pause, softening them up ahead of any eventual attack on Baghdad, they said. The officers declined to be named. 'We have almost out-run our logistics lines,' one officer said at a U.S. unit at the northernmost stretch of the advance in central Iraq. Some units have advanced to within 80 km (50 miles) of Baghdad, but are almost 500 km (300 miles) from Kuwait. Some military units further to the rear were still pushing forward, however, Reuters correspondents travelling with the troops reported. At Central Command in Qatar, a spokeswoman declined comment. 'I don't have any information on that, because that would be considered current and future operations,' she said."

Lebanon's Daily Star reported this: "President Emile Lahoud met with U.S. Ambassador Vincent Battle on Friday, affirming Lebanon's opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq and cautioned against the dangers of continued bombing of populated areas and humanitarian institutions. The meeting with Battle came amid the U.S. request for the closure of Iraqi embassies in countries across the world and for the freezing of assets of the Iraqi government. Lebanon was also approached Friday by Kuwait, which is seeking an Arab condemnation of Iraq launching missiles into the Gulf kingdom. After meeting with Battle, Lahoud called for a careful examination of the course of the war along with its implications. He said the conflict should be handled by the United Nations. The president said the country was abiding by the resolutions adopted at the Beirut and Sharm el-Sheikh Arab summits and other international resolutions, especially diplomatic and economic ones. For his part, Battle underlined the importance of his country's bilateral relations with Lebanon and the mutual desire to sustain those relations."

Jonathan Freedland of Britain's Guardian newspaper offered this analysis: "Tony Blair could still get his Churchill moment. Basra might fall, Baghdad could follow, with the British and Americans finally winning their long-promised tears-and-cheers welcome from a grateful Iraqi nation — and Blair would be vindicated as surely as Winston Churchill was six decades ago. If that happens, the prime minister will carry all before him. 'The doom-mongers got it wrong once again,' he will say, allowing himself a wry smile. 'They lost heart because the first days of war were difficult; they forgot that Kosovo and Afghanistan had their dark days too. But we stuck with it and we were proved right.' Any doubters on future plans — domestic or foreign — will be swept aside. Opponents will be lumped in with the anti-war crowd: naysayers who lack the PM's wisdom and vision. For Tony Blair, victory in Iraq will mean victory everywhere. But this week another scenario hoved into view. We are not there yet, not by any means, but in the past few days we have glimpsed an alternative future — one in which this ill-thought out and badly planned war claims the prime ministership of Tony Blair as yet another of its unintended victims."

Compiled by Andrew Cohen