Tag: Iraq War

Cruel, Callous and Uncaring in the Extreme

I’ve written a bit about Bush’s despicable abuse of our military personnel, treating them as little more than props in his juvenile cowboy fantasy. Well, it just keeps coming. Joseph L. Galloway of McClatchy Newspapers has this bit of encouraging news:

Sen. James Webb, D-Virginia, a Vietnam veteran, has been doggedly pursuing passage of a new GI Bill aimed at helping these new wartime veterans get that education by giving them much the same educational benefits that were extended to their grandfathers after WWII.

Under his bill, which has attracted three dozen other sponsors, the government would resume paying full college tuition for these veterans for a period linked to their times in uniform, but for no more than 36 months or four academic years. Every eligible college veteran also would receive a check for $1,000 a month to help cover living expenses.

This would cost the government about $2 billion a year, which is about what we’re presently spending every 36 hours in Iraq.

President George W. Bush and the Pentagon oppose any such improvement of this miserly benefit for our young veterans. Why? The president says it would cost too much and be too hard to administer, and he’s threatened to veto Webb’s bill if it ever passes.

The Pentagon says that if you offer more realistic college benefits, too many troops might decide to leave at the end of their enlistments and take advantage of it. And that, they say, would only make it even harder to find and enlist enough recruits to man our wars.

It would cost too much. What we spend every day-and-a-half on Bush’s Iraq disaster is too much to spend to ensure that those of our military personnel who survive Bush’s disaster can come home to a promise of an education. Because if they can get an education, they won’t want to re-enlist! Could it be more clear that the Pentagon is deliberately taking advantage of lower-income Americans to provide cannon fodder for Bush’s war?

Mission Accomplished – The Door to Iraq’s Oil Will Soon Be Open

George W. Bush, his neo-con backers, his supporters in Congress, from both sides of the isle, the establishment media, the MIC and on Wall Street have accomplished their mission in Iraq. If there was ever any doubt about what that mission was then perhaps this article from Asia Times will make it clear. The article is rather long  and so I’ll try to provide some of the highlights here. The blockquotes are from that article.

And, as former Fed Chief Alan Greenspan wrote in his memoir – The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World. “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: The Iraq war is largely about oil.”

It appears that John McCain might well get his wish – 100 years of US occupation of Iraq.

Iraqi Oil Minister Shahristani is described in this article as being “not too religious, not too political, not too secular and not too pro-American. He is a Shiite who was imprisoned by Saddam Husein and held in solitary confinement by Saddam Hussein for 10 years. He is now the Oil Minister of Iraq.

Shahristani finds himself in an enviable position as a creator of wealth for the Western world. He holds the key to the door that opens out to the magical world of Iraqi oil.

Withdrawal is not coming soon, and it is not what you think it is.

As I’ve previously noted, the Bush Administration has recently made clear that they have no intention of leaving Iraq, that they’re doing their best to ensure that the next president will have trouble doing so, and that Defense Secretary Robert Gates just announced that he wants to prevent our troop levels in Iraq from dropping below 130,000. Well, Reuters has this interesting news:

U.S. forces should keep withdrawing from Iraq this year without a pause, Iraq’s national security adviser said on Wednesday, disagreeing with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, whose post gives him a senior security role in the Iraqi government, said he would like to see U.S. forces draw down steadily to below 100,000 by the end of 2008.

Hmm. Wonder who will win that argument.

And al-Rubaie also had some words to which Democrats need pay close attention:

He also said he thought it was unlikely American Democratic Party candidates for president would be able to keep pledges to rapidly pull out U.S. forces if they are elected this year to succeed President George W. Bush.

Since November, Bush has been laying the groundwork to ensure that our occupation is made permanent. That will be difficult to reverse, but it’s also worth noting that both Senators Clinton and Obama offer Iraq withdrawal plans that include keeping the current “embassy,” including a force to guard it, which will undoubtedly number in the thousands. That “embassy” will be the largest in the world, and according to this Congressional Budget Office estimate (pdf), it will cost more than a billion dollars a year to maintain and secure!

Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will need our support, when attempting to dismantle the structures Bush has put in place to indefinitely perpetuate the occupation; but whoever that nominee turns out to be will also need us to keep pushing for a more aggressive withdrawal strategy. That embassy must go. Unless we can have a normal embassy, with a normal embassy staff, we should have no embassy at all, in Iraq. The occupation must end, and as long as we maintain that “embassy,” our presence in Iraq cannot be defined as anything else.  

Can we talk about Iraq?

With all the hoopla going on in the MSM regarding the primaries and caucuses it seems like Iraq has fallen off the screen. Of course, conventional wisdom says that the “surge” has succeeded and we’re well on our way to “victory.” Clammyc has a fine diary up over at the Big Orange about Iraq.

Scott Ritter, a United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998, also has a fine article over on Alternet.org. His views on the situation in Iraq, currently, in the near future, and in the long run, are alarming to say the least. His assessment looks rather bleak indeed.

Hop in a barrel and follow me over the fa-a-a-a-a-alls.

A Soldier’s Final Wish Comes True

All soldiers wish for two things: Another day and the chance to come home.

Sgt. Peter Neesley had a third wish: He wanted to bring the stray dogs — Mama and Boris — he had befriended in Iraq home with him.

Sgt. Peter Neesley did not get either of his first two wishes.  On Christmas Day, from causes still unexplained, he died.

Today, though, thanks to Best Friends Animal Society, his last wish came true.  

Bush: $170,000,000,000 more for the war; Cuts to housing, education, health care, environment…

Since that surge is working so well, I guess we’re just going to have to keep surging. Forever. According to The Hill:

This year’s battle over Iraq war funding officially kicked off Wednesday as Defense Secretary Robert Gates reluctantly offered a price tag for the first time: $170 billion for fiscal 2009.

Speaking at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Gates only gave the number after Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) pressed him, but rejected his own estimate right off the bat, calling it a number that “will inevitably be wrong, and perhaps significantly so.”

“I will be giving you precision without accuracy,” warned Gates.

Levin insisted that he give his best estimate for next year’s war-funding needs.

“Well, a straight-line projection, Mr. Chairman, of our current expenditures would probably put the full-year cost, in a strictly arithmetic approach, at about $170 billion,” Gates responded.

Of course, Gates made clear that the number could be wrong; and I’m guessing he didn’t mean wrong as in an overestimate. But the Administration is very conscious of the drain on our federal budget. Not the drain from the war, mind you, the other drain. On Monday, the Washington Post reported that Bush wants to do something about it. Like slash and burn. You know- the low priority stuff.

President Bush plans to unveil a $2.5 trillion budget today eliminating dozens of politically sensitive domestic programs, including funding for education, environmental protection and business development, while proposing significant increases for the military and international spending, according to White House documents.

Overall, discretionary spending other than defense and homeland security would fall by nearly 1 percent, the first time in many years that funding for the major part of the budget controlled by Congress would actually go down in real terms, according to officials with access to the budget. The cuts are scattered across a wide swath of the government, affecting a cross-section of constituents, from migrant workers to train passengers to local police departments, according to officials who read portions of the documents to The Washington Post.

And one very important person is already on board.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I hope we in Congress will have the courage to support it.”

No Saints in a Foxhole

My soldier is home now, on the heels of a gunnery conference that begins today at Fort Rucker.  I really haven’t a clue what a gunnery conference is and I don’t feel much like caring today.  The bullshit in my life couldn’t have been made any more obvious than it became last night.  We were together last night and we were all together as well in the summer of 2001 in South Korea.

I lost my first grandmother in February of 2001.  That spring my mother’s sisters came to my home and gave me an envelope, in it was a modest sum that my grandmother had left to me.  My husband was in the middle of serving a year tour in Korea.  It was a tough year because our son was born disabled and wasn’t even a year old when he left so I took my gift from my grandmother and hauled the kids down for passport photos and we flew to Korea for the summer.

It was a wonderful summer too.  The housing on the post that my husband was sent to was all condemned so all the soldiers and families lived in the Ville as they call it with the citizens of South Korea.  We all ate Korean cuisine and our teenagers all got on a bus together and went to Lotte World and my husband took me to the world pottery expo there because I am a potter and potters love nothing more than looking at and buying other people’s pots.  I bought a whole set of dishes from a Korean potter.  They are beautiful.

I got to know my husband’s best friend a lot better that summer.  He does command sponsored tours to Korea as often as possible because he is there for two years plus at a time and his family goes with him.  His wife is Korean and they have two sons who have spent as much time with their Korean grandparents as they have with their American grandparents.

I also met Mel and Amanda that summer who lived a block from us and they had two sons then too but have three now.  Amanda was a fitness instructor.  Mel had been a Ranger before becoming an Apache pilot.  He is one of the few that in 1993 went into Mogadishu on a mission that didn’t go so well and survived.  In Korea he didn’t seem to be that comfortable being a soldier anymore and he was getting out.  I was sure that he had long ago moved on in life and was sitting on some beach some place sipping umbrella drinks until he showed up last night.  When a U.S. soldier “gets out” he is still in the reserves for awhile and Mel got to go to Iraq as a reservist and fly the hand me down airframes that the reserves get and got paid the no bonuses pay that the reservists get paid and that won’t happen to him again.  The guy who I met that summer is gone now.  The guy who survived Mogadishu and felt inspired to do something finer and more life affirming with his life than soldier has left us and in his place sits a grim faced father discussing last night with my husband and my husband’s best friend where the best bonuses are.  He’s signing up for active duty again so at least his wife can get decent wages for his combat time and he doesn’t have to fly crap in a war.

Meanwhile, There’s a War Going On

Anyone still paying attention knows that one of the keys to the relative decrease in violence, in Iraq, has been the unilateral six-month cease-fire, called by Moqtada al Sadr. And he had been indicating that he would continue the cease-fire, when it expires, next month. That could be changing. As the McClatchy Newspapers reported:

A police raid Saturday on an extremist Shiite Muslim mosque thought to be the headquarters of an extremist cult capped a weekend of violence in southern Iraq, while elsewhere tensions between Iraq’s Shiite-led government and renegade Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr continued to escalate.

Iraq’s national security advisor said he was briefly taken hostage Saturday in a Baghdad mosque and implied that his captors were Sadr supporters. Mowaffak al Rubaie was released only after Iraq’s interior minister, who oversees the police, intervened.

In an e-mail to McClatchy, Rubaie said that Sadr’s followers “used the same tactics that they used before on Abdul Majid al Khoei.” Sadrists were accused of fatally stabbing Khoei, a moderate young Shiite cleric who was considered a rival to Sadr, in 2003. A warrant for Sadr was issued in 2004, but it’s never been executed, and he’s denied any involvement.

On Friday, a spokesman for Sadr warned that the cleric might not extend a six-month cease-fire by his Mahdi Army militia, which U.S. officials say has contributed to the reduction in violence in Iraq. In a statement, Salah al Obeidi charged that rival Shiite militias have infiltrated Iraq’s security forces and that some senior security officials remain in their jobs although they’ve been charged with human rights offenses.

“This will force us to reconsider the decision to extend the cease-fire despite repeated public statements in the past that we will,” Obeidi said.

In other words, all the happy talk about the “surge” working may soon come to an end. But it’s all been lies, anyway. As Joe Conason recently wrote:

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the legacy remembered, the message that should not be forgotten

From Dennis Kucinich’s campaign site: http://www.dennis4president.co…

Did Robert Gates Order Iran Speedboat Provocation?

The story of the Iranian speedboats in the Strait of Hormuz that supposedly threatened U.S. warships has been pretty thoroughly debunked by now. Now Asia Times has an article that details how the disinformation was created and spread by the Pentagon, as the Pentagon planted stories with the press, starting with CBS and CNN. Even though the encounter at sea was “not that different from many others in the Gulf over more than a decade,” the Pentagon timed the news about the supposed provocation to a trip by Bush to the region.

The key line in the Asia Times piece is right at the beginning (my bold emphasis):

Senior Pentagon officials, evidently reflecting a broader administration policy decision, used an off-the-record Pentagon briefing to turn the January 6 US-Iranian incident in the Strait of Hormuz into a sensational story demonstrating Iran’s military aggressiveness, a reconstruction of the events following the incident shows.

Why This Serving Soldier’s Family Supports John Edwards

At this point I believe that any one of the possibilities that the Democrats have for a nominee would not leave us in Iraq if they became our next President.  Because the existing bipartisanship still has our soldiers as solidly in Iraq as they were last year at this time I still don’t claim to be Democrat and instead lay claim to being an Independent now.  Bipartisanship has brought me lots and lots of tears and heartache and night terrors and lost sleep last year over military service that provided no safety for any of us on American soil and may have in actuality inspired and impassioned further acts of terrorism.

So while John Edwards has an Out Of Iraq plan very similar to the other Democratic candidates, he sports one thing that sets him apart for me and that is this portion of his Iraq plans.

Clarify the Lack of Legal Foundation for the War

The 2002 authorization did not give President Bush the power to use U.S. troops to police a civil war. Edwards believes that Congress should make it clear that President Bush exceeded his authority long ago. The president now needs to end the war and ask Congress for new authority to manage the withdrawal of the U.S. military presence and to help Iraq achieve stability.

Now we can all speculate all day long about how and why President Bush has used our troops to police a civil war he created but I’d like to stay with the facts and just acknowledge that he is and he did.  And he did so without any oversight from anyone other than Laura for a hell of a long time.  Now he does so with as precious little oversight as he can manage to dodge, finagle, threaten, beg, borrow and steal.  And that shouldn’t ever happen to us ever again, I know it should never ever happen to our soldiers and their families ever again.  It’s time for people to be accountable.  After people are once again accountable for their actions I think I might be able to start making some nice.

Christmas in Iraq

I’ve written about the real War on Christmas- in Iraq. Well, the New York Times has this, today, from Baghdad:

Inside the beige church guarded by the men with the AK-47s, a choir sang Christmas songs in Arabic. An old woman in black closed her eyes while a girl in a cherry-red dress, with tights and shoes to match, craned her neck toward rows of empty pews near the back.

“Last year it was full,” said Yusef Hanna, a parishioner. “So many people have left – gone up north, or out of the country.”

In a safe neighborhood, in the midst of the relative calm of the current relative downturn in violence, this is still less than a Merry Christmas.

Iraq’s Christians have fared poorly since the fall of Saddam Hussein, with their houses or businesses frequently attacked. Some priests estimate that as much as two-thirds of the community, or about one million people, have fled, making Sacred Heart typical. Though a handful have recently returned from abroad, only 120 people attended Mass on Monday night, down from 400 two years ago.

But, of course, that was in a safe neighborhood. Elsewhere, the violence continues, irrespective of religion or season. The Washington Post reports:

Gunmen stopped a minibus driving north of Baghdad on Monday and abducted 13 Iraqi civilians inside, Iraqi police reported. The mass kidnapping was a renewed tactic that has grown increasingly rare as violence has ebbed in Iraq.

An ominous sign?


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