Tag: Iraq War

I’ll vote for that which I belive in! Kuicnich 2008! w/poll

It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it.  – Eugene Debs


An Ill Wind Blows Our Way?

Having one of those days.  Going to put my fears up and then maybe they won’t be swimming around my head today.  This is an accumulation of a month of starting to smell that smell again.  It started last month when a soldier friend shot an email out to friends that in the midst of Iraq and a group of officers he witnessed a full bird Colonel and a one star General come to blows and try to beat the hell out of each other.  He gave no names and at the time I didn’t really want any.  His email was just one of those holy shit things that we all send out when we have witnessed the impossible happening around us.  There was only one thing that I filed away from the email as a note to self and that was that there was infighting before David Petraeus cuz there was no fuggin plan.  Everybody was their own cowboy in the Wild West.  To have such a physical fists to faces fight take place post David Petraeus disturbed the little voice in my head.

The second thing that disturbed me and joined that voice was this comment yesterday.  That was finished up today by my husband phoning me and asking me to search the net for a war video he had seen part of yesterday that had an Apache helicopter taking out an insurgent car in Iraq but also taking out about three other cars with it on a highway.  I didn’t have the heart to look very hard for it today.  I heard the concern in my husband’s voice.  It was concern about when this happened because this can’t be our ROE under the Petraeus plan and have that plan have any hope at all.  We can’t just create that kind of damage at will and have anyone able to feel any sort of sense of security of any kind.  My husband’s too smart too for his own good.  I know there is more behind his concern than just seeing the last half of a video.  He’s picking up a vibe out there and the surge is going to be a year old soon and how long can these people keep this up before everyone is certifiable?

John Bolton is still insane

You see the Spiegel headline, and it seems obvious:

‘Bush’s Foreign Policy Is in Free Fall’

You think of the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan, the obstruction of progress at the Bali climate conference, the transparently dishonest attempts to catapult the propaganda about Iran, Putin crushing democracy in Russia, Israel and the Palestinians farther than ever from making peace, and America more hated than ever, everywhere. The headline makes sense. Everything Bush touches, he destroys. He’s the anti-Midas. But then you see this:


It must be a joke, right? Surely, John Bolton hasn’t come to his senses, and realized that the Bush Administration is a catastrophe, has he? Well, actually, he has made the realization. But for the wrong reasons. For the opposite reasons. If it weren’t on a credible news site, it would not be believable.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Ambassador, you worked closely with the president and you shared his hawkish views on Iraq. But your new book is fiercely critical of George W. Bush. Why?

Bolton: His foreign policy is in free fall. The president is turning against his own best judgment and instincts under the influence of Secretary (of State Condoleeza) Rice. She is the dominant voice, indeed, almost the only voice on foreign policy in this administration.

SPIEGEL: The popular reading of her looks a bit different. She is presumed to be weak and not particularly efficient.

Bolton: No. Rice is channeling the views of the liberal career bureaucrats in the State Department. The president is focusing all his attention on Iraq and, by doing so, has allowed the secretary to become captured by the State Department. He is not adequately supervising her. It is a mistake.

Got that? Bush is in free fall because he’s going soft! It includes the obvious garbage: North Korea is dangerous, Iraq was a threat, and the Iraq War has made us safer. Reality still eludes the deranged man’s grasp.


House Democrats appear ready to capitulate on Iraq. Again.

Once again, House Democrats appear ready to punt.

According to the Washington Post:

House Democratic leaders could complete work as soon as Monday on a half-trillion-dollar spending package that will include billions of dollars for the war effort in Iraq without the timelines for the withdrawal of combat forces that President Bush has refused to accept, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said yesterday.

In a complicated deal over the war funds, Democrats will include about $11 billion more in domestic spending than Bush has requested, emergency drought relief for the Southeast and legislation to address the subprime mortgage crisis, Hoyer told a meeting of the Washington Post editorial board.

If the bargain were to become law, it would be the third time since Democrats took control of Congress that they would have failed to force Bush to change course in Iraq and continued to fund a war that they have repeatedly vowed to end. But it would also be the clearest instance yet of the president bowing to a Democratic demand for more money for domestic priorities, an increase that he had promised to reject.

So, let’s be clear: for eleven billion dollars more in domestic spending, House Democrats are willing to waste hundreds of billions more on the disastrous war in Iraq. Not to mention, you know- lives. Perhaps it should occur to them that there would be a helluva lot more for domestic spending if we weren’t busily bankrupting ourselves in Iraq. Not to mention, you know- lives.

I’m sure it will come as great comfort to our troops, the families and friends of our troops, and the Iraqi people that we’ll have more money for domestic spending. Certainly, their lives are worth it. Or something.

Meanwhile, our ostensible coalition has all but evaporated. According to a different Post article:

President Bush once called it the “coalition of the willing,” the countries willing to fight alongside the United States in Iraq. The list topped off in mid-2004 at 32 countries; troop strength peaked in November that year at 25,595. The force has since shrunk to 26 countries and 11,755 troops, or about 7 percent of the 175,000-strong multinational force, according to mid-November figures provided by the U.S. military.

Everyone else is coming to their senses, but not us. Not even with a Democratic Congress.


The real War on Christmas- in Iraq

As the usual right-wing demagogues wind themselves into pretzel postures of false outrage for being denied the right to use instruments of government to impose their religious rituals on those who do not so celebrate, it’s time to point out that despite their hypocrisy, pseudo-sanctimony, and just plain cultural bigotry, there is a hidden kernel of truth in their simple-minded sloganeering. For there is an actual war on Christmas, and it is going on right before our eyes. But they don’t see it, and they certainly wouldn’t want anyone to talk about it, because it’s taking place in Iraq, and it is the fault of their political hero, George W. Bush.

As the New York Times explained, in October 2006:

Christianity took root here near the dawn of the faith 2,000 years ago, making Iraq home to one of the world’s oldest Christian communities. The country is rich in biblical significance: scholars believe the Garden of Eden described in Genesis was in Iraq; Abraham came from Ur of the Chaldees, a city in Iraq; the city of Nineveh that the prophet Jonah visited after being spit out by a giant fish was in Iraq.

Both Chaldean Catholics and Assyrian Christians, the country’s largest Christian sects, still pray in Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

They have long been a tiny minority amid a sea of Islamic faith. But under Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s million or so Christians for the most part coexisted peacefully with Muslims, both the dominant Sunnis and the majority Shiites.

One of the oldest Christian communities in the world, for the most part peacefully coexisting. And then came Bush.

But since Mr. Hussein’s ouster, their status here has become increasingly uncertain, first because many Muslim Iraqis framed the American-led invasion as a modern crusade against Islam, and second because Christians traditionally run the country’s liquor stories, anathema to many religious Muslims.

And the Times says the result has been threats, church bombings, kidnappings, and murders, with anywhere from tens of thousands to a hundred thousand fleeing the country.

In March of this year, USA Today reported:

The flight of Iraq’s Sunni and Shiite Muslims from their homes under threat of violence has earned much attention. But Iraq’s Christian community has also been targeted and is steadily dwindling as well.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says Christians comprise some 40% of the Iraqi refugees.

Other Iraqis who are forced from their homes often relocate to another city or neighborhood, but Iraqi Christians who have to flee often leave the country, said Dana Graber, an Amman-based officer with the International Organization for Migration. “They feel even more vulnerable because they have few, if any, safe communities to where they can escape,” she said.

Long an integral part of Baghdad’s diverse ethnic and religious communities, Christians have lived side by side with their Muslim neighbors for generations, said Abdullah al-Naufali, head of Iraq’s Christians Endowment.

But as Iraq’s violence flared after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, churches and Christian homes were targeted, al-Naufali said. Ten of Baghdad’s 80 Christian churches have closed, and more than half of Baghdad’s Christian population has fled, he said.

And the Associated Press:

Iraq: It’s worse than you think

Now that all is going so well in Iraq, and the flower strewing appears imminent, the New York Times has discovered what might just be a small problem:

As Iraqi refugees begin to stream back to Baghdad, American military officials say the Iraqi government has yet to develop a plan to absorb the influx and prevent it from setting off a new round of sectarian violence.


And according to the reporters on the ground, the recent media hype has been media hype. And despite the recent reduction in violence (all the way to 2005 levels, not anywhere close to the actual levels before Bush invaded), the death toll from sectarian attacks around the country has nearly doubled, this year. At a cost of a record number of American troop deaths, for this war, for a single year. And the coverage has completely ignored the fact that militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr called a unilateral six-month cease-fire, at the end of August, which might just be a factor. But the bigger, and largely ignored, story is the refugee crisis.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates there are more than four million Iraqis who have had to leave their homes; the New York Times reported, in August, that more have fled since the escalation; the San Francisco Chronicle reported, almost a year ago, that 40% of Iraq’s middle class had fled; and the Guardian reported, last summer, that a third of the population is in need of emergency assistance. In short, as the Chronicle article pointed out, this is the Middle East’s worst refugee crisis since the Palestinians fled Israel, in 1948; and we all know how well that has turned out.

As the Times continues:

The Iraqi government lacks a mechanism to settle property disputes if former residents return to Baghdad only to find their homes occupied, the officials said. Nor has the Iraqi government come forward with a detailed plan to provide aid, shelter and other essential services to the thousands of Iraqis who might return. American commanders caution that if the return is not carefully managed, there is a risk of undermining the recent security gains.

Um, yeah. Potentially millions of people returning to homes that are now occupied by others might just be a problem. Particularly given that ethnic cleansing has left the country utterly Balkanized. As Fareed Zakaria recently explained, on ABC News:

one of the dirty little secrets about Iraq is that Iraq has increasingly been ethnically cleansed. It’s sad to say, but the American Army has presided over the largest ethnic cleansing in the world since the Balkans.

If you look at Baghdad, it is essentially a very cleansed city. It is, the Shia and Sunni communities have been separated by the river. You look increasingly around the areas that were once intermixed. They’re no longer mixed. That explains, by the way, one of the reasons why violence has been reduced … So, it seems unlikely, when people say bad things are going to happen if we leave, bad things have already happened, where were you for the last four years.

It doesn’t seem that likely that we’re going to end up seeing some kind of massive genocide. The ethnic cleansing has happened.

So, many of those returning refugees might just be returning to homes occupied by people they consider enemies.

And here’s the kicker, also from the Times article:

We own Iraq: The Shock Doctrine perfected

It’s time to add another star to the flag. We’re never leaving Iraq. Ever. The Sun will go red giant in about five billion years, and we’ll still be in Iraq.

TPM Muckraker:

So it begins. After years of obfuscation and denial on the length of the U.S.’s stay in Iraq, the White House and the Maliki government have released a joint declaration of “principles” for “friendship and cooperation.” Apparently President Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed the declaration during a morning teleconference.

As TPMM  points out, the agreement doesn’t explicitly discuss a military presence, and when it does refer to our protecting a “democratic Iraq”:

A “democratic Iraq” here means the Shiite-led Iraqi government. The current political arrangement will receive U.S. military protection against coups or any other internal subversion. That’s something the Iraqi government wants desperately: not only is it massively unpopular, even among Iraqi Shiites, but the increasing U.S.-Sunni security cooperation strikes the Shiite government — with some justification — as a recipe for a future coup.

In other words, Iraq’s “government” will remain our puppet. Should they have the temerity to attempt to do anything of which we disapprove, we can simply threaten to withdraw our protection. Needless to say, this will not be popular with most Iraqis, but when have their opinions- or lives- mattered, anyway?

When MLDB diaried this, this morning, his linked article was a little different from the one I read. Here’s what I consider key, as reported by the Associated Press:

The two senior Iraqi officials said Iraqi authorities had discussed the broad outlines of the proposal with U.S. military and diplomatic representatives. The Americans appeared generally favorable subject to negotiations on the details, which include preferential treatment for American investments, according to the Iraqi officials involved in the discussions.

As I said in MLDB’s diary:

Let’s be clear: this is Naomi Klein’s disaster capitalism. Let’s be doubly clear: we, the taxpayers, will be paying for an exclusive security force whose sole mission will be the protection of the private corporations who will own and operate Iraq.


Iraq: What we do know has happened

Whatever the reality behind the statistical studies of civilian deaths in Iraq, some hard facts are known. In an online chat, Thomas Ricks of the Washington Post, and author of Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, gave some hard answers. As recounted on the Editor & Publisher website:

Corporate Media Follies: The New York Times and Ron Silver

Since Judith Miller was let loose to wander and watch the aspens turn, Sheryl Gay Stolberg has become the New York Times’s official Bush Administration sycophant. In an embarrassing front page article, she lets us know that Bush will spend his last year in office doing the warm fuzzies.

As President Bush looks toward his final year in office, with Democrats controlling Congress and his major domestic initiatives dead on Capitol Hill, he is shifting his agenda to what aides call “kitchen table issues” – small ideas that affect ordinary people’s lives and do not take an act of Congress to put in place.

Over the past few months, Mr. Bush has sounded more like the national Mr. Fix-It than the man who began his second term with a sweeping domestic policy agenda of overhauling Social Security, remaking the tax code and revamping immigration law.

Isn’t that sweet? She tells us it’s kind of like what President Clinton did, omitting the part about President Clinton actually getting things done. She says Bush went to Maryland to announce protections for a couple of types of fish, he asked lenders to help homeowners refinance, he gave the FDA new powers to recall foods, and he had the military open more air space, to enable faster domestic air travel. What a guy!

With a Mideast peace conference planned for the coming week and a war in Iraq to prosecute, Mr. Bush is, of course, deeply engaged in the most pressing foreign policy matters of the day.

That’s nice. Because his refusal to engage in any Mideast peace process, upon first taking office, is part of the reason the violence and land-grabs exploded, in the last several years, while both sides elected their most extreme governments ever. And then there’s that pesky war. Good thing the man’s still on top of things! But, still, he has this domestic agenda, as an attempt to make nicey-nice with the public!

Stolberg then blithers for several paragraphs, quoting Republicans talking about Bush remaining relevant, sprinting to the finish, and being aggressive. There’s also another comparison to the way President Clinton used smaller initiatives to help people.

“People in Washington laughed when Mr. Clinton would talk about car seats or school uniforms,” said John Podesta, Mr. Clinton’s former chief of staff. “But I don’t think the public laughed.”

Nor does the public appear to be laughing at Mr. Bush.

You have to love that last sentence. No, people aren’t laughing at Bush; they’re too busy loathing him. You see, President Clinton pursued smaller issues because he cared about people, not because he was trying to distract people from a disastrous war, war crimes, domestic spying, the complete politicization of government, a flagging economy, and every other level of presidential failure possible.


Iraq Moratorium 3: The People Speak

11/16/07 (Berkeley, CA) – The third Friday of every month I have been attending a war protest on the streets of Berkeley, CA. The majority of the protesters are members of the Grey Panthers and/or are from Strawberry Creek Lodge,  a nearby retirement community.  The rest are random people who heard about this through word of mouth, IraqMoratorium.org or some other organization.  For two hours we stand on four corners of a busy street.  All the cars honk when they drive by and when they are stopped at the light some people hand out slips of paper with the date and time of the next event. Pedestrians are also given flyers about taking action to end the war.

The most recent IM Day, I brought my video camera and took some footage. First you will hear a song and then there are some interview clips speaking out against the war.  Listen to the voices of our elders. These are the real deal DFHs, many protested Vietnam and wars before that.  I’m so glad they agreed to be on camera. You may catch a glimpse of Docudharma’s own dharmasyd – who I met after the first IM Day.   She is one of the organizers of this monthly action.    

Disclaimer:  This is the first time I have ever edited a video and put it on YouTube.  I was in a hurry to put it together so the quality may suck but the spirit and sincerity of The People still shines through (I hope).   If I can figure out the sound editing I will do another version with all the extra footage I have.  

Here are some photos from the first IM Day (9/21/07).

Gen. Sanchez: Bring the troops home; New Report: 20,000 troop brain traumas unreported

The Associated Press reports:

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top commander in Iraq shortly after the fall of Baghdad, said this week he supports Democratic legislation that calls for most troops to come home within a year.

The remarks will be aired Saturday, as part of the weekly Democratic radio address, and right wing blowholes will undoubtedly begin emitting noxious fumes about General Sanchez hating America. Let the facts speak for themselves: General Sanchez was there; he knows what he’s talking about; the gasbag pundits sit in hermetically sealed sound studios spewing lies.

The legislation, passed by the House, blocked by Senate Republicans, and threatened with a veto by Bush, would have paid for further combat operations, while setting a goal to end combat operations by the middle of next December. It wasn’t even a hard demand to end combat operations, but even just setting such a goal was too odious for the chickenhawk warmongers of the Republican Party.

The Pentagon, of course, announced on Tuesday that they will begin laying off up to 200,000 civilian employees and contractors, unless Congress passes a bill Bush will sign. Nice framing, that. What the Pentagon really means is that they will start laying off 200,000 civilian employees unless the spoiled brat Bush gets his way.

General Sanchez takes a certain blaming-the-victim angle to his explanation, pointing out that our troops are sacrificing life and limb for an Iraqi government that continues to fail to govern. Of course, after blowing their country all to hell, failing to repair the damage, and inciting a civil war, while the majority of foreign fighters entering the country to add to the mayhem come from our ostensible allies, it’s probably not the easiest thing in the world for the factions of our puppet government to settle millenia-old differences. Even so, there’s also a pragmatic realism to the general’s comments, for the Iraqi political leaders are continually failing to meet the benchmarks that are supposed to measure their progress. They are, in fact, not doing the job our troops are supposedly there to give them a chance to do.

“There is no evidence that the Iraqis will choose to do so in the near future or that we have an ability to force that result,” he said.

Sanchez added that the House bill “makes the proper preparation of our deploying troops a priority and requires the type of shift in their mission that will allow their numbers to be reduced substantially.”

Meanwhile, the cost to our troops has once again been revealed to have been understated. USA Today reports:

At least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been found with signs of brain injuries, according to military and veterans records compiled by USA TODAY.

The data, provided by the Army, Navy and Department of Veterans Affairs, show that about five times as many troops sustained brain trauma as the 4,471 officially listed by the Pentagon through Sept. 30. These cases also are not reflected in the Pentagon’s official tally of wounded, which stands at 30,327.

There’s not much more to say, except this: end the war and bring the troops home!  

Grand Jury Investigation: It’s not just Blackwater

The grand jury investigating the September massacre of civilians by Blackwater guards is also investigating several other “private security firms.” According to the Washington Post:

FBI investigators have reportedly concluded that the killing of 14 of the 17 civilians was unjustified under State Department rules on the use of force. But the case is muddied by the question of what laws, if any, apply to security contractors operating under military, State Department and civilian contracts.

Because massacring civilians is one of those areas of legal mud. The question is whether laws applying to private contractors working for the Defense Department also apply to contractors working for the State Department. And although the military has brought charges against numerous official service personnel, they have brought none against private security contractors. Because whether or not mass murder is legal depends on who is doing the mass murdering, and for whom they work. The current grand jury investigation indicates that might soon change.

The Iraqi government has said it knows of at least 20 shooting incidents involving security contractors, with more than half a dozen linked to Blackwater.

The problem, of course, is that legal mud.

For instance, contractors were immunized from Iraqi laws under a June 2004 order signed by the U.S. occupation authority. That ruling remains in effect.

Because the U.S. occupation authority believed what everyone working for the Bush Administration believes: some people are above the law. And that belief apparently remains. That ruling remains in effect?!

In addition, investigations are complicated by questions about evidence, jurisdiction and the availability of witnesses.

And we can all stop and ponder the meaning of the words “availability of witnesses.” Any guesses?

“If they’re going to try to indict, they’ve got a lot to overcome,” said Patricia A. Smith, an Alexandria lawyer who represents two former employees of Triple Canopy, a private security firm based in Herndon, in a civil lawsuit. The former employees say they were wrongfully terminated after reporting that their Triple Canopy team leader fired shots into the windshield of a taxi for amusement last year on Baghdad’s airport road.

For amusement.

The two former guards lost their case, but are appealing. The company was ruled to have acted “inappropriately,” and three guards were fired, including, of course, the two who reported the shooting. But no investigation was conducted. By any legal authority. Neither U.S. nor Iraqi. Smith says that as far as she knows, no subpoenas have even been issued. Undoubtedly, more legal mud.

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