I read this article in the Guardian about General Patraeus’ top generals saying America has basically six months to win Iraq (which in that time frame won’t happen). Then this paragraph stuck out at me:
Possibly the biggest longer-term concern of Gen Petraeus’s team is that political will in Washington may collapse just as the military is on the point of making a decisive counter-insurgency breakthrough. According to a senior administration official, speaking this week, this is precisely what happened in the final year of the Vietnam war.
Is this not the Republican talking point called “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?” And just who is this “senior administration official? Is it Cheney? It would be Cheney to say something this ridiculous. And about Vietnam, this is the first I heard that we were nearing a victory in the last year before Nixon pulled us out of Vietnam…..
You can see the deviousness though of the Bush administration’s strategy. Whatever happens, they will blame their failure on Democrats for stopping them before they could bring a victory to America. Such shameful, despicable cowards! There certainly ain’t no Truman amongst this group!
Many parts of Iraq are stable now. But of course what we see on television is the one bombing a day that discourages everybody.
Laura Bush 2/26/07
And so in early 1967, Joe McGinniss, then just a young reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, would spend a day traveling with Westmoreland to the coastal town of Phan Thiet. There a young American officer startled McGinniss by giving an extraordinarily candid briefing on how bad the situation was, how incompetent the ARVN was. Westmoreland had demanded the briefing and the young American had been uneasy about giving it, apologizing for being so frank with a reporter present, but finally it had come pouring out: the ARVN soldiers were cowards, they refused to fight, they abused the population, in their most recent battle they had all fled, all but one man. That one man had stood and fought and almost single-handedly staved off a Vietcong attack. When the officer had finished his briefing, still apologizing for being so candid, Westmoreland turned to McGinniss and said, “Now you see how distorted the press image of this war is. This is a perfect example — a great act of bravery and not a single mention of it in the New York Times.”
David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest, pg. 562
In retaliation for the damning reports in the Washington Post about the horrible conditions of the Walter Reed hospital in Washington DC, the Army Times reports that soldiers have been told to keep quiet, and also prepare their rooms for inspections every morning at 6am. That’s right guys, because it’s the damn soldiers’ fault that the buildings were in such horrible conditions. It’s the soldiers’ fault that mold grew on the ceilings, that mice crawled on the floor. If soldiers but kept the rooms they were housed in while they healed clean! How ridiculous and stupid is this Pentagon!
Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.
“Some soldiers believe this is a form of punishment for the trouble soldiers caused by talking to the media,” one Medical Hold Unit soldier said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
It is unusual for soldiers to have daily inspections after Basic Training.
Soldiers say their sergeant major gathered troops at 6 p.m. Monday to tell them they must follow their chain of command when asking for help with their medical evaluation paperwork, or when they spot mold, mice or other problems in their quarters.
They were also told they would be moving out of Building 18 to Building 14 within the next couple of weeks. Building 14 is a barracks that houses the administrative offices for the Medical Hold Unit and was renovated in 2006. It’s also located on the Walter Reed Campus, where reporters must be escorted by public affairs personnel. Building 18 is located just off campus and is easy to access.
The soldiers said they were also told their first sergeant has been relieved of duty, and that all of their platoon sergeants have been moved to other positions at Walter Reed. And 120 permanent-duty soldiers are expected to arrive by mid-March to take control of the Medical Hold Unit, the soldiers said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Army public affairs did not respond to a request sent Sunday evening to verify the personnel changes.
The Pentagon also clamped down on media coverage of any and all Defense Department medical facilities, to include suspending planned projects by CNN and the Discovery Channel, saying in an e-mail to spokespeople: “It will be in most cases not appropriate to engage the media while this review takes place,” referring to an investigation of the problems at Walter Reed.
That’s right, the Pentagon failed to keep the news on subject, let them open a door they weren’t supposed to open. Now, they will clamp down hard on troops that dare speak to the media, because that just might make the Pentagon look bad.
It’s too late guys, you’ve made fools of yourselves on so many occasions (like all the times you claimed helicopters crashed in Iraq due to “mechanical failure”—yeah, mechanical failure when a rocket propelled grenade struck the mechanical parts and made them fail—instead of just telling the truth), that really, who trusts what comes out of your mouths these days? Certainly not me.
I’ve liked Obsidian Wings. The writers there are usually quite clear, articulate, and realistic. Today, I just read Hilzoy’s post entitled “Liberating Iraq.” I find it to be one of the most thoughtful pieces on the use of force vs alternative options. She quotes Peter Beinart who admitted that his original backing of the war in Iraq was wrong. Peter Beinart states the following about why he came to the conclusion Iraq was wrong:
It begins with a painful realization about the United States: We can’t be the country those Iraqis wanted us to be. We lack the wisdom and the virtue to remake the world through preventive war. That’s why a liberal international order, like a liberal domestic one, restrains the use of force–because it assumes that no nation is governed by angels, including our own.
But Hilzoy adds that it really isn’t America, as she says:
It’s not just that we aren’t the country Beinart wanted to think we were; it’s that war is not the instrument he thought it was.
She then recounts the following experience she had in 1983:
Back in 1983, I sat in on a conference on women and social change. There were fascinating people from all over the world, women who had been doing extraordinary things in their own countries, and who had gathered together to talk it through; and I got to be a fly on the wall.
During this conference, there was a recurring disagreement about the role of violence in fighting deeply unjust regimes. On one side were the women from India, who argued against the use of violence, generally on Gandhian grounds. On the other were many of the women who lived under deeply unjust regimes; I recall, in particular, the South Africans arguing that however laudable nonviolence might be, their situation was sufficiently desperate that they could not afford the luxury of waiting for nonviolence to work.
It seemed to me that at the heart of this disagreement was this one fact: that the women from India were from a country that had already achieved independence, and were living with the problems that came afterwards, whereas the women from South Africa were trying to achieve that self-government in the first place. The South Africans seemed to think that the women from India had forgotten what it was like to be subjugated. We need to win our freedom as quickly as possible, they seemed to say. We realize that it would be preferable to win that freedom in the best possible way. If we could win it just as quickly through non-violent means, we would surely do so. But you would not ask us to wait if you really understood what it is like to live in slavery.
By contrast, many of the arguments made by the Indians turned on the effects that achieving self-government through violence had on one’s own people. Don’t do this, they seemed to be saying: once you win your freedom, you will find that you and your people have grown accustomed to settling disputes by force and to demonizing your opponents. Think now about how to use the struggle you are waging to teach yourselves how to become citizens and to practice self-government. Do not wait until you win your independence to discover that self-government requires not just political power, but political responsibility.
The Indians had seen for themselves that wars changed who they were. Hilzoy learned that “liberation is not just a matter of removing an oppressive government.” She concludes with the following:
This is why, when I read Beinart’s piece, I thought: the South African he quotes — the one who said that “if the United States were a different country, it would help the African National Congress liberate South Africa by force” — was wrong. Force is not just an alternate way of getting to liberation; it changes everything. And liberation is not just a matter of removing an oppressive regime; it is a matter of creating a country populated by citizens who are, by and large, willing to set aside the idea of resolving conflicts by force and to respect the laws, even when they are imperfectly applied.
For this reason, the problem with that South African’s vision is not just that “we lack the wisdom and the virtue to remake the world through preventive war.” That’s true, but it doesn’t get to the heart of the problem, namely: that preventive war is not a way of remaking the world in the ways the South African and Beinart imagine.
Liberation is a matter of creating a country populated by citizens who are, by and large, willing to set aside the idea of resolving conflicts by force and to respect the laws.
In the case of Iraq, the British had attempted to “liberate” the country earlier, and establish order. Of course that led to the rise of Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party. Too many Americans still rely on force as the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong, the ultimate sword of freedom. But the use of force changes everything.
The Taliban are claiming responsibility for a suicide attack on the base where Cheney was staying. Fourteen innocent people died, and the attack was aimed at the vice president.
What a clear message was just sent by our enemies. While we go traipsing around in Iraq with no apparent coherent plan, and divert our attentions and resources from the real fight on our real enemies, the ones who have been attacking us since 1993, this enemy came within a few hundred yards of striking our vice president. This is the same vice president who claims “enormous successes” in the war on terror. This is the vice president who just warned Musharraf in Pakistan that if he doesn’t crack down on Al-Qaida, the Democrats will defund Pakistan. Right, the Democrats, not the Bush administration. The Bush administration doesn’t care if Musharraf doesn’t crack down on Al-Qaida. They’re not threatening Musharraf with any consequences. Only now that Democrats are in power, is this vice president concerned.
What’s worse, this same vice president will now redouble his claim that Nancy Pelosi is working for Al-Qaida’s best interest. Even though he told Musharraf that if Musharraf doesn’t crack down on Al-Qaida, that same Nancy Pelosi will hold him accountable. So, in Dick Cheney’s mind, Nancy Pelosi is working in Al-Qaida’s best interest while also being the most serious threat to those who don’t crack down on Al-Qaida.
Can the United States have a more ridiculously insane vice president?
Furthermore, this attack is a clear message not just to America, but to the Afghans and Pakistani who either are friends of the Taliban or the enemies. The message is, “We’ve got the resources to get close to the second most powerful man on earth. Fear us!”
What does this say about the progress of Bush’s “war on terror?” What does it say about our efforts in Iraq? What does Iraq have to do with Afghanistan and the fight against our real enemy?
Finally, what does Iran have to do with the Taliban?
Last question, are Republicans not realizing how badly their credibility is being shot? Do Republicans realize that the more they continue backing Bush and Cheney, the bigger their loss will be in 2008 and beyond?
Oh, one more thing, will the general who said that it’s not all that important to find Osama Bin Laden recant his words? This attack was probably orchestrated by him…..
And why can’t America find a John Walker Lindh to infiltrate Al-Qaida?
Is this wise? Troops headed to Baghdad will forego training before they head off to participate in the “Surge.”
Uh, so wait a second, these troops are trained to be warriors, but are being sent into a city (Baghdad) to keep the peace….or are they?
Furthermore, didn’t Abu Ghraib happen because those troops stationed there untrained?
Have we not learned anything yet?
That’s because 53% of Americans back the Democratic plan to withdraw troops from Iraq. Yeah, this is your “radical left.”
Tom Dispatch has the details. He quotes Michael Klare who writes the talking points of Bush’s next announcement of war with Iran:
Sometime this spring or summer, barring an unexpected turnaround by Tehran, President Bush is likely to go on national television and announce that he has ordered American ships and aircraft to strike at military targets inside Iran. We must still sit through several months of soap opera at the United Nations in New York and assorted foreign capitals before this comes to pass, and it is always possible that a diplomatic breakthrough will occur — let it be so! — but I am convinced that Bush has already decided an attack is his only option and the rest is a charade he must go through to satisfy his European allies. The proof of this, I believe, lies half-hidden in recent public statements of his, which, if pieced together, provide a casus belli, or formal list of justifications, for going to war.
Three of his statements, in particular, contained the essence of this justification: his January 10 televised speech on his plan for a troop “surge” in Iraq, his State of the Union Address of January 23, and his first televised press conference of the year on February 14. None of these was primarily focused on Iran, but the President used each of them to warn of the extraordinary dangers that country poses to the United States and to hint at severe U.S. reprisals if the Iranians did not desist from “harming U.S. troops.” In each, moreover, he laid out various parts of the overall argument he will certainly use to justify an attack on Iran. String these together in one place and you can almost anticipate what Bush’s speechwriters will concoct before he addresses the American people from the Oval Office sometime later this year. Think of them as talking points for the next war.
Read the whole thing. The evidence is there. We’re going to war with Iran. I hope you’re ready America.
The demands that Americans refrain from criticism of the war and the Leader have nothing to do with trying to create unity so that troop morale remains high. What they really want is the ability to continue to lie to Americans about Iraq without being challenged.
The reason our mission in Iraq has proven to be so disastrous and corrupt is very simple — the advocates and architects of that war are completely corrupt, inept, and deceitful. Recognizing this fact and ceasing to accord people like this respect and credibility is infinitely more important than any specific debates over particular policy or strategic questions. Everywhere Joe Lieberman goes, he should be asked by journalists why anyone should listen to anything he says, or believe anything he says, in light of his history of deceitful statements and tragically wrong assertions, beginning with his 2005 Op-Ed which today he completely repudiates while pretending he never said any of it.
These are people who are completely bereft of judgment and integrity, and their behavior has wreaked incalculable and arguably unprecedented damage on our country. Holding them accountable, and recognizing them for what they are, is critical not only for cleansing our deeply poisoned political system, but also for averting identical, or worse, tragedies in the very near future.
Glenn Greenwald on Joe Liebermann and his fellow liars.
Didn’t President Benson (among many others) warn us about these kinds of organizations?
For reference, here are two articles that detail this secret combination:
Israel is getting permission from America to fly over Iraq in order to strike at Iran. Be ready everybody. It is coming. Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric. It doesn’t have to happen, but it will.
Here is how it will happen.
Olmert has the political capital to strike Iran. Bush does not. Bush has attempted (and will continue attempting) to bait Iran into striking at Americans, but Iran is not biting. Olmert, on the other hand, has the political capital to strike at Iran, because Israel is within range of Iran’s missiles. So Olmert strikes Iran. Bombs many sites, kills hundreds if not thousands of Iranians. Iran, naturally, declares war on Israel. They may explicitly say their war is solely with Israel or they may include the United States in their declaration. It matters not, because for Iran to reach Israel, they must fly over Iraqi airspace, and there is no way in hell America will give Iran permission to lob anything into Israel over Iraqi space. Thus, America will use that as one of the excuses to bring themselves into the conflict as well. The other excuse is that Israel is our friend and Iran is a much stronger enemy than Israel has faced to this point. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a secret pact, akin to Germany and Japan that if one nation is attacked the other can declare war if they chose to.
So what will happen? Iran will be preoccupied with American forces in Iraq while Israel has all the excuse to try again and defeat Hezbollah, and maybe even go into Syria (hence why America is telling Israel to not even dare consider Asad’s offer to talk).
So, Americans, have you seen enough fighting yet? Have you seen enough blood spilled yet? Have you seen enough destruction? Because you’re about to get an extra helping or two. Heck some American cities might be attacked too…you never know when war is expanded to multiple countries what the consequences are….
This article in the American Journal of Bioethics details the interrogation logs of one of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, a prisoner #063. Note the use of sleep deprivation. Note also the effects upon the prisoner, and how he ended up saying he gave what information he gave in order to have the torture stopped. These abusive techniques were most definitely used in Gitmo (and we can assume they are still being used). These techniques were then exported to Iraq, which led to Abu Ghraib. These techniques were approved at the highest levels of the United States government. All the prisoners that were released back to their respective governments have accused the United States of being abused while at Gitmo.
And finally, note that Al-Qaida is in resurgence, six years after we supposedly were to go after them and destroy their organization. So…..just what good came from abusing these prisoners? What gains have outweighed the costs of employing these techniques?
This is evil stuff, and the more we turn our heads, the more we accept their use, the more we legalize their use, the more we will lose in the end.
Historian Richard Hofstadter wrote this in 1964, but it is relevant today. Here is the link to his article (which I found in Glenn Greenwald’s latest post).
Continue Reading Quote of the Day – Richard Hofstadter – On The Paranoid Style in American Politics…
Israel has been considering Syria’s overtures of peace (because peace is in Israel’s best interest), but the United States has told Israel, don’t even think about it!
The United States demanded that Israel desist from even exploratory contacts with Syria, of the sort that would test whether Damascus is serious in its declared intentions to hold peace talks with Israel.
In meetings with Israeli officials recently, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was forceful in expressing Washington’s view on the matter.
The American argument is that even “exploratory talks” would be considered a prize in Damascus, whose policy and actions continue to undermine Lebanon’s sovereignty and the functioning of its government, while it also continues to stir unrest in Iraq, to the detriment of the U.S. presence there…..
….When Israeli officials asked Secretary Rice about the possibility of exploring the seriousness of Syria in its calls for peace talks, her response was unequivocal: Don’t even think about it.
So the question is, does the United States really want peace in the Middle East? I’m sure supporters of Bush will spin this by saying, “you can’t reward bad behavior,” blah blah blah and so on, but is the United States the parent of the world? Is that really its role? It really sounds silly when you hear this from an American. Seriously. And it certainly doesn’t do anything to turn a possible enemy into a probable friend (or at least at peace).
If the United States doesn’t want Israel to even consider an exploratory attempt at communicating with Syria, it shows that deep down there is some other plan the United States has for Syria, and it is not peace.
“The British announced they were pulling their troops out of the Iraq. Dick Cheney immediately called it good news. He said, ‘It’s a sign that we’re winning.’ How come when our allies pick up and leave, that’s a victory for us? But when we leave, it’s a victory for al Qaeda? How does that work?”
well well well, this is what I get for being out of the country in 1995 and missing out on this little nugget….apparently while President Clinton was waging a war in Bosnia, House Republicans voted to cut funding for operations in Bosnia, effectively putting American soldiers in harm’s way and effectively recreating Vietnam all over again. But it’s okay to cut off funding for American troops when a Democrat (especially one name Clinton) is president. But you dare try and cut off funding for troops when a Republican is president and you’re EVIL!!!
Dick Polman has some good quotes from Republicans arguing for cutting funds:
And here’s the most priceless factoid: A Texas Republican congressman, Sam Johnson, is leading the current push for the aforementioned bill that would bar any restrictions on the Iraq war money…yet this same congressman uttered these remarks on the House floor, on Dec. 13, 1995: “I wholeheartedly support withholding funds… Although it is a drastic step and ties the president’s hands, I do not feel like we have any other choice. The president has tied our hands, gone against the wishes of the American people, and this is the last best way I know how to show my respect for our American servicemen and women. They are helpless, following orders.”
Huh, how ’bout that! Here is the same Sam Johnson on how we must remain “always faithful” to our troops:
So – little did I know back in my rat-infested 3 x 8 dark and filthy cell that 34 years after my departure from Hell on Earth… I would spend the anniversary of my release pleading for a House panel to back my measure to support and fully fund the troops in harm’s way….and that just days later I would be on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives surrounded by distinguished veterans urging Congress to support our troops to the hilt….
…Today, let my body serve as a brutal reminder that we must not repeat the mistakes of the past… instead learn from them.
We must not cut funding for our troops. We must stick by them. We must support them all the way…To our troops we must remain…always faithful.
Always faithful eh? Except when it is politically inconvenient, that is.
Dick Cheney, the Bush administration’s worst liar, is claiming that the British are leaving because of the success they have had down in the south. Fine, okay, but as one reader on Talking Points Memo mentions, shouldn’t the British, instead of leaving Iraq, be used instead in areas where things are not going so swimmingly?
Josh, one of the arguments made by Cheney in the interview (and others such as John Howard) is that the British withdrawal is good news because it reflects improvement in the situation in the South. Well, if this is the case, then why aren’t the British troops being moved to where they are needed instead of being withdrawn? Why is nobody asking this question?
Truly, while America is escalating its forces in Baghdad, the British are leaving. Why is the Bush administration not asking the British to assist in Baghdad as well? Why are they not calling the British for what they are, “cut and runners.”
You keep hearing from right wing fools like Max Boot, Jonah Goldberg, Fred Kagan, that this is the “decisive conflict of our generation.” If that really is the case, why not harp on the British for leaving at such a critical juncture? Plus was it not Tony Blair himself who just recently said that to leave Iraq would send the wrong message to the enemy?
“If we desert the Iraqi government now, at the very time when they are building up their forces … it would be a gross dereliction of our duty,” he said.
“If we got out now, when the job wasn’t done, and simply deserted the situation, what good would that do other than to make sure that those people that support these extremists right around the world would take heart from it?” he added.
And just last month:
“For us to set an arbitrary timetable . . . would send the most disastrous signal to the people whom we are fighting in Iraq,” he said. “It is a policy that, whatever its superficial attractions may be, is deeply irresponsible.”
So what changed Mr. Blair? Just today you say the following:
“The next chapter in Basra’s history will be written by Iraqis,” Blair said.
One of the main arguments in favor of the war in Iraq is that it is taking the fight to the enemy, a central front of the “war on terror”, the main thrust in an attempt to reduce terrorism around the world. Well, a new study is out that shows terrorism increased specifically because of our actions in Iraq. Note the graph they provide:
Their numbers are a pretty powerful case that the war in Iraq has in fact increased terrorism around the world, and as such, the question needs to be asked: just what was the war in Iraq about?
Our study yields one resounding finding: The rate of fatal terrorist attacks around the world by jihadist groups, and the number of people killed in those attacks, increased dramatically after the invasion of Iraq. Globally there was a 607 percent rise in the average yearly incidence of attacks (28.3 attacks per year before and 199.8 after) and a 237 percent rise in the fatality rate (from 501 to 1,689 deaths per year). A large part of this rise occurred in Iraq, the scene of almost half the global total of jihadist terrorist attacks. But even excluding Iraq and Afghanistan—the other current jihadist hot spot—there has been a 35 percent rise in the number of attacks, with a 12 percent rise in fatalities.
Contrary to Bush’s assertion, jihadists have not let the Iraq War distract them from targeting the United States and its allies. The rate of attacks on Western interests and citizens has risen by almost 25 percent, while the yearly fatality rate has increased by 4 percent, a figure that would have been higher had planned attacks, such as the London airline plot, not been prevented.
The globalization of jihad and martyrdom has disquieting implications for American security in the future. Jihadists are already leaving Iraq to operate elsewhere, a “blowback” trend that will greatly increase when the war eventually winds down. Terrorist groups in Iraq, which have learned to raise millions through kidnapping and oil theft, may be in a position to help fund their jihadist brethren elsewhere. Finally, Iraq has increased the popularity of a hardcore takfiri ideology so intolerant that, unlikely as it seems, it makes Osama bin Laden appear relatively moderate.
Though few American civilians have been killed by jihadist terrorists in the past three years, it is naive to assume that this will continue to be the case. We will be living with the consequences of the Iraq debacle for many years.
Amidst Bush’s “surge,” Tony Blair is ordering his troops to come home. I wonder what conservative Americans will say. Will they paint Tony Blair as a “cut and run liberal?”
The following is what George Washington ordered his soldiers to do with captured enemy soldiers. Even though the British were quite brutal and murderous, General Washington guided his soldiers to stick to the high road, because what they were fighting for mattered more than the vengeful feelings some would have at seeing their comrades so badly mistreated by the British. Would that Americans today remember their first president and the honorable man he was, contrast to today’s president, the worst America has ever seen, and see that the way out, the way to peace lies in the removal of the current leader. Heed the words of George Washington Americans, not the words of George Bush. Continue Reading George Washington and the Treatment of the Enemy…