Twenty-eight more people die in Iraq

Tease the day: Does the Korean experience give anyone hope that Iraq will eventually prosper?

Iraqi policeman Ahmed Naji stands on the grounds of the Iraqi National Museum (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Muqdadiya and Madaen aren’t household names in Canada. Baghdad and Mosul ring more familiar. We grew used to hearing about violence in those Iraqi cities during the years-long war that tore apart the country. These days, bombings and shootings dot the nation, new victims emerging every single day.

Twenty-eight people in Iraq were reportedly killed yesterday. Reuters reports that 14 people were killed when a car exploded in a public market in Muqdadiya; four died when a bomb exploded in a garden during a wedding in Baghdad; three died when a roadside bomb exploded beside a cafe in Madaen; four men were shot in Baghdad; a police officer was shot dead in Mosul; a child died in a roadside bombing; and a public servant was murdered.

Predictably, the instability in Iraq has American war vets questioning their accomplishments in the region. Yesterday, NBC spoke to a former soldier who served during the tail-end of the American commitment in Iraq.

“You think about the guys who lost their lives in World War II, at least there was a higher purpose for risking your life,” said Andrew O’Brien, an Army convoy gunner who served in Iraq during 2008 and 2009, surviving an IED blast. He attempted suicide in 2010. “Now that I’m hearing about this, all I think about is the guys we lost in Iraq. It’s hard to not think that it meant nothing.”

That skepticism comes as American war fatigue in Afghanistan now matches similar fatigue in the latter stages of the Iraq war, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Overall, considering the costs versus the benefits to the United States, 67 percent now say the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting, a new high (albeit by a single percentage point) in 21 ABC/Post polls to ask the question since early 2007. For the first time that numerically exceeds the most who said the same about the war in Iraq, 66 percent in April 2007.

A dwindling group of people, it seems, has much confidence in the prospects of a peaceful future in Iraq and Afghanistan. David Bercuson, a senior fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, says those skeptics should take the long view.

This morning, Bercuson writes in The Globe and Mail that the Korean War provides ample evidence that awful conflict, followed by decades of uncertainty, can still produce a prosperous and secure nation. It just takes time. “Canadian and other UN troops had bled for a dictatorship,” he writes, pointing to successive authoritarian regimes in South Korea that lasted into the 1980s.

But once democracy took hold, all that fighting in the mud bore fruit. “South Korea has become an economic powerhouse and a bastion of liberal democracy,” he writes. “The military defence of South Korea gave its people a chance to evolve that they wouldn’t have otherwise had.”

That delayed prosperity is cold comfort to veterans of more recent wars who don’t have the benefit of a crystal ball. Nor does it mean much to the families of the 28 people who were killed yesterday in Iraq, not to mention the untold victims today and tomorrow and the next day, and on and on.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with BCE’s latest warnings about the perils of allowing foreign wireless companies to enter the Canadian market. The National Post fronts Hassan El Hajj Hassan, a Canadian suspect in the deadly bus bombing in Bulgaria last July. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with former Toronto school board director Chris Spence’s emergence months after a disgraceful plagiarism scandal. The Ottawa Citizen leads with a gay jail guard saying the settlement he won in court after enduring homophobic slurs won’t do anything to change the institutional culture. iPolitics fronts the final day of premier meetings in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. leads with the reduced death toll—from 80 to 78—in the aftermath of the massive train derailment in Spain. CTV News leads with the RCMP’s allegation that one of embattled Senator Mac Harb’s claimed homes was uninhabitable for the first three years that he owned it. National Newswatch showcases .

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Procurement. As Canada’s fleet of military transport trucks continues to age, it’s unclear how soon a relaunched procurement effort—years after the original tender—will deliver new trucks. 2. Abortion. Women in rural British Columbia have less access to abortion services than a decade ago, after a 60 per cent drop in service providers. Ninety per cent of abortions happened in cities.
3. Resources. Falling commodity prices spurred by slowing Chinese demand is hitting Canadian mining companies hard, forcing them to rethink expansion plans and find places to cut costs. 4. Blood. Health Canada wraps up its consultation related to a proposal to allow a private company to pay clients who provide their blood plasma, which is used in the development of drugs.
5. Tunisia. Mohamed Brahmi, an opposition leader in Tunisia, was assassinated outside his home. Protesters immediately blamed Ennahda, the moderate Islamist party that leads the government. 6. Slavery. Caribbean nations are attempting to convince Britain, France and the Netherlands to pay reparations for the slave trade, which has had long-lasting impacts on island nations.