Taking A Month Long Break From Politics

March 21, 2008 at 11:10 am | Posted in American politics | 6 Comments

Yes, I am going to take a break from blogging about politics for a month. That means (for snarkers out there) that I won’t post any new post here or on Council of Fifty for a month. I’ve got a story I want to start writing and I will focus on that. Plus, I’ve gotta get away from politics. Too divisive.

The CIA: A Legacy of Ashes

March 20, 2008 at 5:05 am | Posted in CIA | 7 Comments

I really need to go read that book because we see in the news even more examples of how much the CIA has failed us. It is quite painful actually, because, well, Westerners were able to get into the highest levels of Al-Qaeda. Anyone remember John Walker Lindh? He did meet Bin Laden you know.

Not only does the CIA have no ability to actually do its job of intelligence into our real enemy, but they are effectively making it worse by torturing Al-Qaeda suspects. George Bush, the Idiot, made sure that the CIA was not liable by vetoing a law intended to prohibit torture by the CIA.

Tens of Thousands of Interrogations

March 13, 2008 at 5:36 am | Posted in Iraq | Leave a comment

I think the Pentagon accidentally let the cat out of the bag, basically telling us just how many detainees they have and how many interrogations took place (both within the law, and both torture). Tens of thousands.

The officials said it appeared that only a small fraction of the tens of thousands of interrogations worldwide since 2001 had been recorded.

The only reason I care about this number is the same reason I care about the number of bullets apparently fired in Iraq since the war in Iraq began.

Don’t forget the small statistics, which are often the most striking. According to John Pike, the head of the research group GlobalSecurity.org, an estimated 250,000 bullets have been fired for every insurgent killed in Iraq. That’s not just a waste of ammunition; it’s also a reflection of how badly the country has been damaged and how indiscriminate some of the fighting has been.

250,000 bullets for every insurgent killed. Tens of thousands of interrogations of detainees and we’re still nowhere close to knocking out Al-Qaeda. Doesn’t this just seem rather inefficient and wasteful? You’d think after tens of thousands of interrogations we’d get that “Mosaic” that we’re so apparently desperate to view. You’d think after so many bullets fired we’d have killed all of the bad guys out there.

The Enablers and Their President

March 12, 2008 at 4:40 am | Posted in George W Bush | Leave a comment

I’m talking about the media and George Bush. Just watch this video as George Bush makes fun of Katrina, of Scooter Libby, of Cheney and secret documents, of Saudi oil princes, etc. And just watch the media roaring it up in laughter.

Digby writes about it, and quotes Chris Matthews who said:

Well, that was quite a hoot. All that joking from the President about Brownie, that guy in charge of the New Orleans disaster, and of course Scooter Libby, the guy involved in the CIA coverup. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s reporters, the best of them, laughing at events and political acts that warrant anything, I mean, anything but laughter. There is nothing, nothing funny about Bush’s reference to Brownie, that disastrous appointment followed by that catastrophic handling of the Katrina horror in New Orleans. Nothing funny about a war fought for bad intelligence, and a top aide, Scooter Libby, who committed perjury and obstruction of justice to cover it up. Nothing funny about a President, who commuted that sentence to keep the coverup protected. Otherwise, I’m sure it was an enjoyable get-together between journalists and the people they’re charged with covering.

Admiral William Fallon Resigns

March 11, 2008 at 2:37 pm | Posted in Iran | 2 Comments

Admiral William Fallon resigns as CENTCOM commander. This is really important because he was the one who said that there will be no war with Iran on his watch.

In an admiring article on Fallon in Esquire, former Pentagon official Thomas P.M. Barnett writes that Fallon angered the White House by “brazenly challenging” Bush on his aggressive threat of war against Tehran. Barnett also cites “well-placed observers” as saying Bush may soon replace Fallon with a “more pliable” commander.

Barnett’s account, which quotes conversations with Fallon during the CENTCOM commander’s trips to the Middle East, shows that Fallon privately justified his statements contradicting the Bush policy of keeping the “option” of an unprovoked attack on Iran “on the table” as necessary to calm the fears of Egypt and other friendly Arab regimes of a U.S.-Iran war.

Barnett recalls that when Fallon was in Cairo in November, the lead story in that day’s edition of the English-language daily Egyptian Gazette carried the headline “U.S. Rules Out Strike against Iran” over a picture of Fallon meeting with President Hosni Mubarak.

That story, published Nov. 19 and not picked up by any U.S. news media, reported that Fallon had “ruled out a possible strike against Iran and said Washington was mulling non-military options instead.”

Later that day, according to Barnett, Fallon told him during a coffee break in a military meeting, “I’m in hot water again,” and then confirmed that his problems were directly with the White House.

That was the second time in less than a week and the third time in seven weeks that Fallon had publicly declared that there would be no war against Iran. In an interview with Al-Jazeera television in September, which Fallon himself had requested, according to a source at Al-Jazeera, he had said, “This constant drum beat of conflict is what strikes me which is not helpful and not useful”.

And only a week before the trip to Egypt, in an interview with Financial Times, Fallon had said, a military strike was not “in the offing”, adding, “Another war is just not where we want to go.”

These statements represented an extraordinary exercise of power by a combat commander, because it contradicted a central feature of the Bush-Cheney strategy on Iran. High-ranking Bush administration officials had been routinely repeating the administration’s line that no option had been taken “off the table” since early 2005.

At an Oct. 17 news conference, Bush said he had “told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”

Fallon’s public statements explicitly ruling out an attack on Iran thus undermined the Bush administration’s threat against Iran.

You ready America? A war with Iran is now closer at hand.

UPDATED: Here is the Esquire piece on Admiral Fallon that pretty much led to his removal. He was probably the last stumbling block on the Bush administration’s vile desires to war with Iran. Thomas P.M. Barnett’s abstract is ominous:

As head of U. S. Central Command, Admiral William “Fox” Fallon is in charge of American military strategy for the most troubled parts of the world. Now, as the White House has been escalating the war of words with Iran, and seeming ever more determined to strike militarily before the end of this presidency, the admiral has urged restraint and diplomacy. Who will prevail, the president or the admiral?

It seems the president has won and the world has lost.

It’s about time!

March 11, 2008 at 9:45 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment
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Proposal Would Let U.S. Troops in South Korea Have Families With Them

WASHINGTON — The commander of American forces in South Korea is urging the Pentagon to allow thousands of troops stationed there to have spouses and children live with them during tours of duty.

The proposal by the commander, Gen. B. B. Bell, is a recognition that the military must do more to improve the quality of life for troops and their families. It would reverse decades of policy for South Korea, recognizing that an attack from the North has become unlikely given the enduring American presence as a deterrent and the growth in size and sophistication of the South Korean armed forces. In any case, American troops have been shifted away from the front lines. . . .
General Bell told of speaking with a young captain, the father of a 2 ½-year-old girl, who arrived alone in South Korea just five months after returning from more than a year in Iraq. The captain had spent less than eight months with his child in her life.

“You know, we can do better than that,” General Bell said he told the captain.

You’re right, General Bell. We can do better than that. The fact that 2000 families have moved to Seoul on their own to be near their family members in the service shows how important family is to our service members.

I remember being about 5 years old when my father was deployed to South Korea and Japan. My sister was something like 2 years old, and if I remember correctly, Mom’s disease was getting worse and she might have been pregnant with a third. We were told that we couldn’t go abroad with my father, and we were shipped off to New Jersey to live with my grandparents.

Life with grandma and grandpa was some of the best times of my life, but it was bittersweet because Daddy wasn’t around. I remember trying to share our life with him over cassette tapes, but it just wasn’t the same. He spoke on tapes and sent them to us and we would record others and send them back to him. It was tough for me to understand why Daddy couldn’t be there.
This separation caused more major issues that I won’t discuss here, but I will say that I truly hope that the US govt. does the right thing and makes moves to keep families together as much as possible, even when they are deployed across the globe in areas that are no longer war zones.

No Link Between Saddam and Al-Qaeda

March 11, 2008 at 6:01 am | Posted in Iraq | Leave a comment

No surprise to anyone who was against the war from the start, but it is nice to see the Pentagon agreeing with us, that there really were no ties between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda.

So let’s review the list of reasons for going into Iraq in the first place.

The regime has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East. It has a deep hatred of America and our friends. And it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda.

Oh, oops. Scratch that one off the list.

Thomas Friedman on The Reason We Went Into Iraq

March 6, 2008 at 5:09 pm | Posted in Iraq | 1 Comment

Truly astonishing.

The War in Iraq: A Waste of Precious Resources

March 3, 2008 at 9:37 am | Posted in Iraq | 6 Comments

I’ve talked before about how the war in Iraq is a waste, completely unnecessary, and a tragic loss of precious, valuable resources, both human and other. One writer has estimated that the war will cost $3 trillion dollars. Over at Crooked Timber, Daniel puts it in perspective:

* The cost of the Iraq War could have underwritten Social Security for fifty years. This brings home one of the points Max Sawicky always made in the SS debate (in general to a brick wall). Although the headline amounts associated with these problems are scary, they are actually not all that much as a percentage of GDP. The Iraq War is a horrific waste of money, but I don’t think anyone would actually try and claim that it literally can’t be afforded. Similarly with the Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security nexus of funding costs; it’s absolutely clear that the productive capacity of the US economy can pay for these things, it’s just a question of whether there is political will to do so, or whether the government would rather spend the money on killing hundreds of thousands of people overseas for no very obvious benefit.

* It’s not often that one gets to correct a Nobel Prize winner, so I will take the opportunity. Stiglitz is qutoed as saying that “Money spent on armaments is money poured down the drain”. This is actually the best case for armaments spending from an economic point of view. Most of the time, when armaments are used, they damage something valuable. If all the bullets fired in Iraq had been poured down the drain instead, the world economy would be massively better off, even allowing for the cost of cleaning up the pollution caused in the drain.

* Three trillion dollars really could have solved a lot of world problems. For example, it would have funded a once-and-for-all offer to the entire population of Gaza, the West Bank and the UNRWA refugee camps of half a million dollars each to slope off and stop bothering the Israelis. That’s the sort of money we’re talking about here.

Others have written about the cost of the war in perspective, but I just thought those were good points.

At some point Americans are going to have to decide to stop listening to the warmongers like Bill Kristol and the rest of his ilk. It is time to end this travesty.

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