Tag: Focus On War

Petraeus Construction Co. soldiers on: a one-act play

You want fiction?  Here’s some to mark today’s 5th Anniversary of the Iraq War.

Scene 1

September, 2006:  Brothers George, John, and Ringo stand together in the front hallway on George’s house.  They have just answered the door, greeting Petraeus, President of a local construction company.  They exchange greetings and lead him to the kitchen table, where the conversation begins.

GEORGE:   We’re, uh, glad you could come to see us, Mr. Petraeus.  As I think my brother John told you when he called, it’s about the house we’re having built on the lot we inherited from our parents.

PETRAEUS: Yes, I’ve taken a look at the house and I’ve talked to the contractors, and the contractors before that, and the original contractors.

JOHN:     Well, as you should know then, you can see that the construction process has been a complete disaster.

GEORGE:   I wouldn’t say it’s been a disaster, exactly.


George W Bush on Iraq: Read it and weep

Lest you think that five years of bloodshed in Iraq, with perhaps a million dead and 4 million more displaced from their homes, has given The Decider any pause, today he said the war is “noble, necessary, and just.”  Some pertinent excerpts from his speech today at the Pentagon on the first day of Year 6 in Iraq.

The battle in Iraq has been longer and harder and more costly than we anticipated — but it is a fight we must win….

Defeating this enemy in Iraq will make it less likely that we’ll face the enemy here at home…

There’s still hard work to be done in Iraq. The gains we have made are fragile and reversible…

The surge has done more than turn the situation in Iraq around — it has opened the door to a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror…

The challenge in the period ahead is to consolidate the gains we have made and seal the extremists’ defeat. We have learned through hard experience what happens when we pull our forces back too fast … General Petraeus has warned that too fast a drawdown could result in such an unraveling — with al Qaeda and insurgents and militia extremists regaining lost ground and increasing violence.

Men and women of the Armed Forces: Having come so far, and achieved so much, we’re not going to let this to happen…

Any further drawdown will be based on conditions on the ground and the recommendations of our commanders — and they must not jeopardize the hard-fought gains our troops and civilians have made over the past year.

The successes we are seeing in Iraq are undeniable …  

More than 4,400 men and women have given their lives in the war on terror. We’ll pray for their families. We’ll always honor their memory.

The best way we can honor them is by making sure that their sacrifice was not in vain. Five years ago tonight, I promised the American people that in the struggle ahead “we will accept no outcome but victory.” Today, standing before men and women who helped liberate a nation, I reaffirm the commitment. The battle in Iraq is noble, it is necessary, and it is just. And with your courage, the battle in Iraq will end in victory.

In short, we are “winning”, whatever that means — and the way to honor those who have died is for even more to die.

Friday is Iraq Moratorium #7.

You know what to do.

Four at Four

Today’s Four at Four will be long, but worth your time to read.

  1. What is the real death toll in Iraq?
    By Jonathan Steele and Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian

    Lieutenant General Tommy Franks, who led the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan during his time as head of US Central Command, once announced, “We don’t do body counts.” This blunt response to a question about civilian casualties was an attempt to distance George Bush’s wars from the disaster of Vietnam. One of the rituals of that earlier conflict was the daily announcement of how many Vietnamese fighters US forces had killed. It was supposed to convince a sceptical American public that victory was coming. But the “body count” concept sounded callous – and never more so than when it emerged that many of the alleged guerrilla dead were in fact women, children and other unarmed civilians.

    Iraq was going to be different. The US would count its own dead (now close to 4,000), but the toll the war was taking on Iraqis was not a matter the Pentagon or any other US government department intended to quantify. Especially once Bush had declared “mission accomplished” on May 1 2003 – after that, every new Iraqi who died by violence would be a signal that the president was wrong, and would show that a war conducted in the name of humanitarian intervention was exacting a mounting humanitarian toll of its own.

    But even though the Americans were not counting, people were dying, and every victim had a name and a family. Wedding parties were bombed by US planes, couples driving home at night were shot at checkpoints because they missed a flashlight warning them to stop, and hundreds of other unarmed civilians were killed for no legitimate cause. In just the last three weeks of April 2003, after Saddam’s statue and his regime were toppled, US forces killed at least 266 civilians – a pattern of overeager resort to fire which has continued to this day.

    So five years after Bush and Tony Blair launched the invasion of Iraq against the wishes of a majority of UN members, no one knows how many Iraqis have died. We do know that more than two million have fled abroad. Another 1.5 million have sought safety elsewhere in Iraq. We know that the combined horror of car bombs, suicide attacks, sectarian killing and disproportionate US counter-insurgency tactics and air strikes have produced the worst humanitarian catastrophe in today’s world. But the exact death toll remains a mystery.

    The article examines the various estimates that range from “100,000 dead to well over a million”. It is well worth the time to read.

Four at Four continues below the fold looking at the five year anniversary of the war in Iraq and its occupation.

What If War Was NOT An Option?


Asked about two thirds of Americans’ opposition to war, Cheney says, ‘So?’

“War is merely a continuation of politics by other means.” Though Clausewitz didn’t intend it to be used this way, the quote has gained a life of its own for the bald truths contained within it. First that war is always a choice (though, rarely, the only other choice is surrender) and second….that it is a choice made by politicians.

My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.

George Bush, March 19, 2003


What if that choice didn’t exist? What if war was not an option for politicians?



America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

George W. Bush

We can’t allow the world’s worst leaders to blackmail, threaten, hold freedom-loving nations hostage with the world’s worst weapons.

George W. Bush

We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace.

George W. Bush

I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we’re really talking about peace.

George W. Bush

Though Clausewitz was merely reflecting the reality of our times…he was wrong. War is not a continuation of politics, it is the failure of politics, and of diplomacy, and reason, and imagination…and most importantly, will. It is the choice of dullards. Dullards who inevitably, somehow, manage to profit from their failures to achieve peace. War is always…..a failure.

All They Know Is War

I remember reading a story in the New York Times magazine, in October of 2004 about terrorism and John Kerry’s view on it.

Kerry had a far different view of what should be done to counter terrorism:

But when you listen carefully to what Bush and Kerry say, it becomes clear that the differences between them are more profound than the matter of who can be more effective in achieving the same ends. Bush casts the war on terror as a vast struggle that is likely to go on indefinitely, or at least as long as radical Islam commands fealty in regions of the world. In a rare moment of either candor or carelessness, or perhaps both, Bush told Matt Lauer on the ”Today” show in August that he didn’t think the United States could actually triumph in the war on terror in the foreseeable future. ”I don’t think you can win it,” he said — a statement that he and his aides tried to disown but that had the ring of sincerity to it. He and other members of his administration have said that Americans should expect to be attacked again, and that the constant shadow of danger that hangs over major cities like New York and Washington is the cost of freedom. In his rhetoric, Bush suggests that terrorism for this generation of Americans is and should be an overwhelming and frightening reality.

When I asked Kerry what it would take for Americans to feel safe again, he displayed a much less apocalyptic worldview. ”We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance,” Kerry said. ”As a former law-enforcement person, I know we’re never going to end prostitution. We’re never going to end illegal gambling. But we’re going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn’t on the rise. It isn’t threatening people’s lives every day, and fundamentally, it’s something that you continue to fight, but it’s not threatening the fabric of your life.”

This analogy struck me as remarkable, if only because it seemed to throw down a big orange marker between Kerry’s philosophy and the president’s. Kerry, a former prosecutor, was suggesting that the war, if one could call it that, was, if not winnable, then at least controllable. If mobsters could be chased into the back rooms of seedy clubs, then so, too, could terrorists be sent scurrying for their lives into remote caves where they wouldn’t harm us. Bush had continually cast himself as the optimist in the race, asserting that he alone saw the liberating potential of American might, and yet his dark vision of unending war suddenly seemed far less hopeful than Kerry’s notion that all of this horror — planes flying into buildings, anxiety about suicide bombers and chemicals in the subway — could somehow be made to recede until it was barely in our thoughts.

Remember?  Remember when Bush said he didn’t think the “war on terror” could ever be won?  Remember when he and Cheney were running around on every talk show and media newshour one could think of, telling Americans we should live in fear, that it wasn’t just probable but inevitable that we would be attacked again?

I remember it very well.

‘Shoutout’, ‘Action’, ‘Winter Soldier’, ‘Congressional Hearings’

On this day, 3-19-08, the 5th anniversary of the Occupation of Iraq, some may attend the thousands of candlelight vigils around the country.

Some may have other vigils of remembrance planned.

Some may write of their feelings.

Some may have other ways to observe and remember the Fallen and Maimed of our Military and the Tens of Thousands of the Innocent Killed and Maimed and Millions thrust into refugee status due to our countries Failed Policies.

Some may do nothing.

Picture this: 69 Times the Number at Normandy

(As we stagger into year 6 of the war, it seems appropriate to re-post this diary from last April –BL)

News item:

A team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists estimates that 655,000 more people have died in Iraq since coalition forces arrived in March 2003 than would have died if the invasion had not occurred.

It is more than 20 times the estimate of 30,000 civilian deaths that President Bush gave in a speech in December. It is more than 10 times the estimate of roughly 50,000 civilian deaths made by the British-based Iraq Body Count research group.

(update)The survey was done by Iraqi physicians and overseen by epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health

655,000 Iraqis are dead.

That’s a scary number. And a big number. I tried to comprehend how big it is, but my imagination failed me. What’s needed is a visual model that illustrates the enormity of the situation.

Year Six

Starting last week, many newspapers and Web sites began publishing their five-year Iraq war anniversary pieces. You’ve probably read quite a few of these already. The New York Times ran nine Op-Eds on the subject Sunday, which John Cole at Balloon Juice did a masterful job of condensing here .

Perhaps you are thinking about writing your own analysis on this horrendous anniversary.

If you are, can I make a recommendation? On the cusp of the sixth year since the invasion, the tally of dead Americans in uniform as a consequence of the war and occupation of Iraq is just a handful short of 4000. More than two a day since March 19, 2003. It’s easy to forget that this number, terrible as it is, is overwhelmed by some other numbers, the 308 non-American coalition numbers who have lost their lives in Iraq, the tens of thousands of Americans and coalition members who have been wounded – some of them maimed for life, some of them so badly injured that they and their families probably wish they were dead – the tens of thousands who have been mentally traumatized.

Most of all, it’s easy to forget the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have lost their lives because of the invasion. No good statistics exist. Depending on which source you trust, the ratio of Americans who have lost their lives to Iraqis who have lost theirs is anywhere from 1:37 to 1:300 – 150,000 to 1.2 million dead. There’s no point to arguing over the accuracy. Any way you count, the numbers are awful.

We know the names of all the Americans who have lost their lives in Iraq. With a little effort we can track down their stories, something the IGTNT Diaries at Daily Kos do, unfortunately, almost every day.

But we will never know the names of more than a handful of the Iraqis who have died because of the invasion. Dead because of a war whose rationale was concocted by the liars who still occupy the highest positions of power in our government: unimpeached and untried, still lying just as they have done without stopping since the events of September 11 gave them the excuse they so avidly hoped for before President George W. Bush was a gleam in Dick Cheney’s eye.

So, when you’re writing your anniversary Diary, or making your comment on somebody else’s, or talking with co-workers, school chums, your family or your neighbors, or grieving quietly for the dead Americans, don’t forget the dead Iraqis. All those dead – Americans, Iraqis and others – were put in the ground for lies, for greed, for the ideology of empire. That, too, is something we should not, must not, ever forget.

Minneapolis Rally Against the Iraq War (photos)

We can’t believe it has been five years that the US has been in iraq. The war and occupation has lasted longer than WW II and there is no end in sight. The people of the Twin Cities showed their displeasure by taking to the streets. Nearly 2000 persons protested and their unique signs and mostly solemn faces tell the whole story. Not surprisingly, I didn’t see any signs declaring that war is romantic, which is what George W. Bush said the other day. Instead, I saw signs that were critical of torture, killing of innocent civilians, and crony capitalism. Those are the kinds of things that Barack Obama’s preacher was complaining about; that doesn’t sound like the rhetoric of a crazy uncle to me. He sounds like a man of the cloth.

Organizers of the rally included Women Against Military Madness, Military Families Speak Out, YAWR, The Anti-War Committee, and Veterans for Peace, to name a few. A lot of members of the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis participated and they were easily recognized by their blue hats. The protest began at Lake and Lyndale Ave with members of Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR) meeting at a US Army recruiting center. Afterwards, YAWR joined the main group at Lake and Hennepin and the everyone walked from there to Loring Park. The entire protest was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

ps. Is Feingold single? Someone in Minneapolis wants to know (see image on my blog along with other rally photos not shown here).

Images below the fold- ek hornbeck


Tomorrow will be the 5th anniversary of the Bush regime’s Shock and Awe blitzkrieg against Iraq.  How dazzling the light and color explosions would have appeared on my TV screen if I had been able to disassociate myself from what was most certainly the experience of human beings on the ground.

Many of us knew at the time that the war was a travesty, that Iraq probably had no Weapons of Mass Destruction, was not an ally of bin Laden, had no role in 9/11, and was not a threat to the USA.  I watched in horror.  Not only did Saddam have no Weapons of Mass Destruction, he didn’t even have those other “WMD”s, Weapons of Minimal Defense.

Over this last weekend, I listened to the Winter Soldier II hearings in Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.  I thought back to the Winter Soldier I hearings in 1971 with veterans of the Vietnam travesty.  Will our country never learn?

But I heard something quite different today, in 2008.  I heard a very different quality, a different tone.  To read about this different tone, follow me across the leap in consciousness below the fold.

Iraq Moratorium, war’s 5th anniversary demand action

The convergence of the 5th anniversary of “shock and awe” with Christian Holy Week and Iraq Moratorium #7 has sparked hundreds of antiwar actions across the country this week.

The Iraq Moratorium, a loosely-knit grassroots movement, is usually observed on the Third Friday of every month, but March events are spread throughout the week.

It began last weekend, when more than 500 people gathered at the Unitarian Universalist Church of San Francisco for a rally, march and vigil.

Speakers included Daniel Ellsberg, State Sen. Carole Migden and former San Francisco Supervisor and current Green Party vice presidential candidate Matt Gonzalez.

Ellsberg invited the crowd at the church to join him in a “die in” Wednesday at noon outside the San Francisco office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein. “We may be arrested for disturbing the peace,” he said. “But there is no peace.

Golden Gate XPress, the student newspaper at San Francisco State University, reports:

[Cindy]Sheehan,(right) a congressional candidate … concluded the event by reflecting on her personal loss. She told the story of her son who was killed in the third bloody mission into Sadr City, a mission forced upon him against his will.

“Today I have one dead son,” she said to a silent hall, using a tissue to dry a tear. “When your child is killed in a war, they always say ‘Your child volunteered. Your child was a hero,'” she said. “What makes him a hero if he was ordered to kill innocent Iraqis?”

Sheehan further acknowledged the Americans and Iraqis who lost their lives in the war and the politicians who put them there.

“It’s bullshit that we’re not impeaching,” she said.

Because the Moratorium, which encourages local grassroots action on the Third Friday of every month, coincides with the Christian observance of Good Friday, March 21, some actions will include a religious theme.

The Pike’s Peak Justice Coalition will take part in Pax Christi’s Way of the Cross/Way of Justice procession in downtown Colorado Springs.  

A Hartford, CT “Lamentation and Protest” will begin with an interfaith prayer service, followed by a silent procession to the federal building, where marchers will pile stones bearing the names of victims of the Iraq war.  Church bells will ring in a number of communities in Massachusetts to mark Moratorium observances.

In Cincinnati, candlelight vigils will be held in eight neighborhoods, and dozens of street corner vigils are planned across the country.  Most vigils take place every month, and some have been going since the war began.  

In a session called “Write Some Wrongs,” people in Cornwall, CT will meet at the public library to write their Congressman about “what is in your heart about the Iraq war and what you want him to do about it.”

The Iraq Moratorium encourage local organizers to “do their own thing” on the third Friday of the month – but to do something, whatever it is, to end the war.  It is all a loosely-knit national grassroots effort operating under the Iraq Moratorium umbrella.

Friday is the seventh monthly Moratorium, and more than 800 events have been listed on the group’s website, IraqMoratorium.org , which has a list of this month’s actions and reports, photos and videos from previous months.

Focus on War: Returning to the Scene of the War Crime

“It’s good to be back in Iraq,” Cheney said…


Just a quick recap of the history of the 21st Century, for any of you who may have made the incredibly wise decision to spend this century under a rock.

An American President gets a blowjob, $40 million is spent to investigate said blowjob, said President impeached.

Americans, shocked!, jerk their knees at this sexual horror and vote for an incompetent, corrupt, lying idiot in great enough numbers to allow the Republican dirty tricks machine and old boy network to steal the election. Whom, it also turns out….shockingly enough given the Republicans record on this sort of thing…is a War Monger and ultimately, a War Criminal.

A bunch of Saudis based in Afghanistan kill 3000 Americans, AND destroy valuable private property! Americans, under a War Mongering Republican President and a batshit insane paranoiac, Machiavellian, Vice President who had obviously closely studied the history of Fascism and taken it to heart…..respond to the Saudi/Afghan attack by ……..invading Iraq. It is PURE coincidence that these two oil men happen to preemptively invade a sovereign nation that had nothing to do with the attacks on Americans but that just happens to be the weakest nation that has the largest oil reserves. Pure coincidence, really. The fact that they manufactured and twisted every shred of evidence they used to justify this blatant War of Aggression (War Crime) has nothing to do with it. Pay no attention to the elephant behind the curtain.

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