F.U.B.A.R. in Iraq

August 8, 2007 at 10:26 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, King George, Military, Republicans, secret combinations, War | 1 Comment

Michael Gordon writes another propaganda piece in the New York Times, unquestioningly passing along Bush’s false assertion about Iran being our greatest enemy, blah blah blah. Interestingly in his piece, while uncritically writing what the military wants us to hear—accusations that Iran is supplying the worst EFPs— Mr. Gordon probably unknowingly reveals a bit of a truth. See, Mr. Gordon and the Bush administration want us to believe that our greatest enemy in Iraq is Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. But Mr. Gordon writes:

Such bombs, which fire a semi-molten copper slug that can penetrate the armor on a Humvee and are among the deadliest weapons used against American forces, are used almost exclusively by Shiite militants.

and

While the group [al Qaeda] is seen by the American military as the most serious near-term threat, there are other signs that Shiite militias remain active. According to General Odierno, the day-to-day commander of American troops in Iraq, Shiite militants carried out 73 percent of the attacks that killed or wounded American troops in Baghdad in July.

Even though Shi’ite militias are attacking us at a greater rate, he can’t help himself and state what a threat Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia is. Note that he states that Al-Qaeda is “seen by the American military as the most serious near-term threat,” even though “Shi’ite militants carried out 73 percent of the attacks” in July, which would seem quite “near term” frankly.

Worse, of course, is that Mr. Gordon does not even care to show what evidence the military has that proves that Iran is behind the EFPs, even though a previous raid in southern Iraq found a bomb-making factory that made those very EFPs that are killing Americans. In Iraq. Not Iran. Hmmmm…..

“Iraqi army soldiers swept into the city of Diwaniya early this morning to disrupt militia activity and return security and stability of the volatile city back to the government of Iraq,” the U.S. military said in a statement.

Bleichwehl said troops, facing scattered resistance, discovered a factory that produced “explosively formed penetrators” (EFPs), a particularly deadly type of explosive that can destroy a main battle tank and several weapons caches.

That was in April of this year. But that doesn’t matter to Mr. Gordon and the Bush administration. They would rather have Americans believe that Iranians are the Great Satan, the dark that the light of America must consume, the evil that must be vanquished. Forget that over half the foreign fighters in Iraq come from our bestest of friends, the Saudis. Forget that Shi’ites in Iraq themselves are actually creating these EFPs.

Worse yet, we’re now funding Sunni insurgents we used to be fighting. And to top it off, 30% of our weapons that we gave to Iraqis have gone missing. Is there a more appropriate time to use the old FUBAR phrase than now to describe our mission in Iraq?

As Anonymous Liberal writes:

The administration would have us believe, particularly of late, that our primary enemy in Iraq is al Qaeda of Mesopotamia. But if 73% of attacks in Baghdad in July were carried out by Shiite militants, who are certainly not al Qaeda fighters, then that’s a major story, one that underscores just how unmanageable the situation in Iraq is.

We are simultaneously under attack by Sunni and Shiite militants, who, when not attacking us, are attacking each other. Both Sunni and Shiite militant groups are (apparently) being supplied, whether with official blessing or not, by sympathetic parties in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Some have suggested that we are in a proxy war with Iran. I think it’s far more accurate to say that we are stuck in the middle of a proxy war between Iran and its Sunni rivals.

Meanwhile, in order to root out al Qaeda, we’ve started arming the very Sunni militants we were previously fighting. And we continue to support a Shiite-led central government that is openly allied with Shiite militias who, when not ethnically cleansing Sunnis in the Baghdad area, are apparently blowing up our troops with Iranian-made bombs. There’s a word for this type of situation and it rhymes with fustercluck.

Indeed.

UPDATED: Matt Yglesias adds:

The administration is lying (for them not to be lying would be unprecedented) and Gordon is passing on what his sources tell him.

As a policy matter, looking at the Iranian support issue tends to highlights how pointless it is to get one’s hopes raised by such minor signs of progress as may or may not be thought to exist in Iraq. Iran is charged with supplying a bit more than 100 explosive-formed penetrator bombs to Iraqi militants per month. Iran is also a bit of a rinky-dink third world country. But even they clearly could be providing a lot more weaponry than that were they so inclined. Hezbollah’s armaments are, for example, much more sophisticated than that. If the Iranians ever were to reach the conclusion that the US were in danger of achieving its goals of creating a stable Iraq happy to play host to large US military installations and serve as an anti-Iranian bulwark in the region, Iran could easily step up its assistance and then you’re back to square one.

The issue here, then, really isn’t where, exactly, these EFPs come from and why. The issue is whether you think it serves US interests to try to reach an accommodation with Iran so they we can fight terrorism by trying to fight the al-Qaeda terrorists who want to come here and kill or, or whether you think it serves US interests to continue picking unprovoked fights with tangential adversaries. But before you pick what’s behind door number two, just keep in mind that a US-Iranian escalation cycle will certainly lead things to get much, much worse over the short and medium terms.

The Failing Surge, The Failing Withdrawal

August 7, 2007 at 6:01 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq, Military, secret combinations, Tony Blair | 2 Comments

To show just what a Catch-22 we’re in over in Iraq, two reports out this morning from Washington Post present a nice contrast between both options: surging and withdrawing.

On the failing surge, we read how the Maliki government teeters on collapse as US troops lose another nine soldiers.

On the failing withdrawal of British troops from Basra, we read of increasing violence as Shi’ite factions fight each other for control.

What does this evidence mean? Well, put simply, we should never have gone in in the first place. The whole experiment is a failure. And also, the cynic in me is starting to believe that Tony Blair planned with Bush to withdraw forces from Basra before Americans withdrew from the rest of the country. The reason being is now becoming clear. Tony Blair knew that Basra was not ready for an actual withdrawal. But at the behest of Bush, he began withdrawing his troops. This way, when British soldiers leave and Basra regresses to violent tribalism, Bush can go to the American people and say, “See, this is what happens when you withdraw precipitously.” (Of course he would never use such a big word like that). Maybe I’m too cynical, but with this administration, I’ve learned that nothing should be dismissed as the possible actual events.

Inside the Surge

August 2, 2007 at 7:58 pm | Posted in American politics, Iraq, Military | 14 Comments

Sean Smith of the Guardian has created a harrowing video of the experiences of one unit in Baghdad not too long ago. Watch the video. Watch particularly the most important point that the United States military still does not seem to understand. When a Bradley vehicle was blown up with seven soldiers dying, this unit rushes into a nearby home, with no real intel about there being insurgents in that home, forces the occupants to the floor of the kitchen and interrogates them.

The most harrowing part comes next, days later, when upon doing random house searches (the point that the US military fails to understand), the unit barge into the home of an elderly lady who is so frightened that she begins weeping in panic. The US military needs to start understanding this key point. STOP HOUSE SEARCHES! You wonder why insurgents continue to stay so strong? You wonder why insurgents are thriving? Wonder why insurgents are not being turned in by the local population (who clearly know each other very well)? Because house searching has turned the population against the Americans. Americans don’t get this. They don’t understand this principle. Maybe they will when their own homes are searched by big guys with guns, with the husband being humiliated in front of his family.

Next, a driver that is seen driving around the neighborhood a couple of times fails to stop when ordered by the military. The soldiers assume the driver is scouting out the soldiers for an attack. They order him to stop. He doesn’t. So they shoot him. A local woman comes out and she recognizes the man. He is a local taxi driver. He’s now dead.

The surge will fail because the military continues to adhere to self-defeating tactics. Knock on doors, guys, don’t knock them down. Use your knuckles to tap on the door, not your feet to break them down!

It’s too bad really, because both countries’ populations have turned against the war. Both a large majority of Americans and a large majority of Iraqis are against our presence in Iraq. This spells a great doom on the mission as a whole. You will NEVER win a war if your population is no longer for it.

How Do You Stop This With Military Actions?

August 2, 2007 at 8:32 am | Posted in family values, Iraq, Military | 1 Comment

Seriously, how do you end this kind of horror with a military? You can’t!

Mother of three Um Muhammad al-Daraj, 35, recently went through a traumatic ordeal to try to save her husband’s life.

She told IRIN her husband was kidnapped by militants who had accused him of supporting the insurgents. After two days without news of her husband, Ahmed, two people came to her home and ordered her to follow them to meet her husband, who was reportedly being interrogated.

“I didn’t think twice and left my children with my neighbour. I was desperate for any news of Ahmed and they drove me to a distant neighbourhood where my husband was supposedly being held.

“After half an hour’s drive we reached Sadr City and my legs were trembling because I know how dangerous the area is and the guys with me didn’t speak a word.

“They asked me to enter a disgusting-looking house and told me to wait. A rude man came into the room and bluntly told me that I had two choices: have sex with him and get my husband released or return to my home and never see Ahmed again.

“I was shocked and started to cry. I fell to the ground trying to kiss his feet and begged him to release my husband and not to treat me badly.

“The man told me that he would be back in 15 minutes and by that time would want to know my decision. In those minutes I hated my beauty and myself. I know that if I had been an ugly woman this wouldn’t have happened to me, but the life of my husband was in my hands.

“After 15 minutes – I was crying the whole time – the man came back and repeated the question and I didn’t have any option than to accept, in order to save Ahmed’s life, even knowing that after that they might kill us both.

“I had to forget my honour to save my husband’s life. It was the most terrible 20 minutes of my life. I just felt pain and wanted to vomit all the time. In the beginning I tried to refuse but was hit in the face and had to cry in silence, while asking God’s forgiveness.

“After that he told me to put my clothes on and the same two men drove me home, with tears streaming down my cheeks. I couldn’t look at my children because I felt dirty. I didn’t even know if my husband was going to return.

“Later that evening Ahmed appeared on the doorstep with signs of having been hit in the face, and when I went to kiss him he told me that I was dirty and that he was going to divorce me as he had been forced to watch the whole scene and preferred to be killed than see his wife sleeping with another man, even if it was to save his life.

“Two days later he left home and went to his parents’ house and said that soon I would get the divorce papers. Even now I cannot believe that losing my honour to save his life was taken by him as a betrayal.

“Now I’m alone, without a job or husband, with three children to look after. Sometimes death is the best way to end suffering.”

How do you get these people to change their culture and their lifestyle? How do you get these men to stop kidnapping husbands just so they can rape the beautiful wife? Just how does military action stop this? How do you get a husband to NOT file divorce papers against the woman who just defiled herself in order to save his life? You can’t. The poor poor woman. I feel so badly for her.

Condoleezza Rice Fails in the Middle East, Again

July 31, 2007 at 10:36 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, condoleezza rice, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, Middle East, Military, Saudi Arabia, secret combinations | 24 Comments

As if that is any big surprise to anyone who has closely followed the utterly inept Ms. Rice as she does a dog and pony show across the Middle East. But yet again, she has failed to produce any result from her current trip to the Middle East. Sure the Saudis are going to gobble up the $20 billion dollars of advanced weaponry; after all we’re just giving it away with nothing to show in return.

Has there been a worse Secretary of State than Condoleezza Rice?

Bush to Sell Weapons to Saudi Arabia Which Funds Sunni Insurgents in Iraq

July 27, 2007 at 11:31 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Military, Saudi Arabia, secret combinations | 4 Comments

That’s basically the gist of what is going on right now.

The Bush administration is preparing to ask Congress to approve an arms sale package for Saudi Arabia and its neighbors that is expected to eventually total $20 billion at a time when some United States officials contend that the Saudis are playing a counterproductive role in Iraq.

Yeah, that “counterproductive role in Iraq” is Saudis supporting and financing Sunni insurgents on a level far exceeding that of what Iran does with the Shi’ites. After all, most of the violence against Americans come from Sunnis. Remember the kind of relationship the Bush administration has with the Saudi Royal Family where the Saudi King can summon the Vice President of the United States! As Steve writes for Carpetbagger:

Dick Cheney was in Riyadh over the weekend, but the VP’s office, which is not exactly forthcoming on a regular basis, was unusually vague about this trip. According to what Cheney aides were willing to share, the Vice President traveled half-way around the world for a two-hour meeting with King Abdullah, then hoped on his plane and came home. A spokesperson for the VP’s office would only say that Cheney’s meeting covered a “wide range of issues.” Yeah, that’s helpful.

While the AP suggested that Cheney’s trip was part of a “U.S. diplomatic push to stem surging violence in Iraq,” the WaPo reported that that the push for the meeting came from the Saudis, not the other way around. (via Nico)

Saudi Arabia is so concerned about the damage that the conflict in Iraq is doing across the region that it basically summoned Vice President Cheney for talks over the weekend, according to U.S. officials and foreign diplomats.

Classic. No wonder Cheney and his aides wanted to keep this under wraps; it’s rather humiliating to have the Saudi Crown Prince “summon” our VP for a chat about how badly he’s screwing up the Middle East.

I’ve often wondered if there was any force on earth that could get Cheney to do something he doesn’t want to do. He’s not inclined to care about Congress, or follow U.S. law, or honor U.S. commitments, or negotiate, compromise, or cooperate with anyone.

But when “summoned” by King Abdullah, Cheney is on the plane. Good to know.

How much more evidence do you want, America, that the Bush administration is fake, that they have completely and utterly abrogated the oath they took to uphold the Constitution and protect America? Here they are selling advanced weaponry to the very country that strongly supports and aides Sunni insurgents who turn around and kill our soldiers? Where is the outrage akin to the outrage against Iran? Why are we outraged at Iran’s involvement in Iraq but not Saudi Arabia’s?

Poor Relations Between Iraqi PM and General Petraeus

July 27, 2007 at 11:14 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iraq, Military, neo-conservatives, Republicans, secret combinations, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

The Marine Corps Times is reporting on poor relations between the two men who have most to lose if the surge fails, Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki and General Petraeus. The problem is that the two actors want two different things and both are talking past each other. General Petraeus has to satisfy his boss back home who has to deal with domestic pressures while Maliki’s priorities are, well, not the same as that of General Petraeus and the Americans. The article lists the problems they face:

— Al-Maliki, a Shiite who spent years in exile under Saddam Hussein, hotly objects to U.S. tactic of recruiting men with ties to the Sunni insurgency into the ongoing fight against al-Qaida. He has complained loudly but with little effect except a U.S. pledge to let al-Maliki’s security apparatus vet the recruits before they join the force. He also has spoken bitterly, aides say, about delivery delays of promised U.S. weapons and equipment for his forces.

Of course he’s complained about this. There is no way he can ever trust Sunnis in power anymore. That was the whole purpose of his backing the American removal of a Sunni dictator by the name of Saddam Hussein.

— Petraeus is confronted with an Iraqi military and police force, nominally under al-Maliki’s control, that has in many cases acted on sectarian — namely Shiite — not national Iraqi interests. He has faced a significant challenge in persuading al-Maliki to shed his ties to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who runs the Mahdi Army militia.

Heh, I think General Petraeus might have an easier time getting Bill Kristol to renounce neo-conservatism and turn against his best buddy Fred Kagan.

It’s fine for such leaders to really dislike each other and find it difficult to work together. We don’t need to sit at a campfire and sing kumbayas in order to get things done; sometimes you’ve got to slap people around to get them to do what they need to do. The problem in Iraq (out of the bazillions of problems plaguing that poor cursed country) is that even the sharp disagreements are not getting real long-lasting progress done. One really has to wonder why the city of Baghdad after FOUR YEARS still only gets less than one hour of electricity a day! You’d think a far advanced country like ours would have the ability to do this.

So what should happen? Well General Petraeus and PM Maliki do not have to get along, but General Petraeus must be clear (and this should come from General Petraeus’s boss, Mr. Bush who will never do the right thing) that there is a severe consequence if Mr. Maliki refuses to press forward with the political resolutions. The real threat of withdrawal should do the job, or force Maliki out for being too weak. Iraq needs a leader. Maliki is not proving to be a good one. Unfortunately General Petraeus will also not do the right thing, as smart a man as he is. He has for too long towed the Bush neo-con line, and is basically the wrong man for the job. I mean, he’s not even following his own counterinsurgency principles in this surge!

The sad thing is that even in 2009 when (not if) a Democratic leader becomes president, they also won’t remove the troops, nor remove the failed leaders out of power. At least, I’m gearing up for extremely low expectations hoping to finally be nicely surprised by politicians. I’m learning though that upon getting an opening to do bad things, even the most good-hearted politician will choose the bad. So sad.

Pat Tillman May Have Been Murdered

July 26, 2007 at 10:45 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Military, Pat Tillman, secret combinations | 2 Comments

Woah…say it ain’t so! No wonder Bush is doing all he can to keep this under “Executive Privilege.”

Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

“The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,” a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors – whose names were blacked out – said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.

Wow…

Conservatives Gaining a Conscience on Torture

July 26, 2007 at 6:28 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Gitmo, King George, Military, Republicans, secret combinations, Torture, violence, War, War on Terror | 10 Comments

This is a breath of fresh air, albeit quite late in the game, but two conservatives from the Reagan administration, one the commandant of the Marine Corps, the other a lawyer in the Reagan White House, have now officially and publicly come out against Bush’s latest executive order, which really didn’t change anything about how the CIA (mis)treats detainees.

One of us was appointed commandant of the Marine Corps by President Ronald Reagan; the other served as a lawyer in the Reagan White House and has vigorously defended the constitutionality of warrantless National Security Agency wiretaps, presidential signing statements and many other controversial aspects of the war on terrorism. But we cannot in good conscience defend a decision that we believe has compromised our national honor and that may well promote the commission of war crimes by Americans and place at risk the welfare of captured American military forces for generations to come.

Awww, they still feel Bush has the imperial power, just as long as he doesn’t torture.

In April of 1793, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson wrote to President George Washington that nations were to interpret treaty obligations for themselves but that “the tribunal of our consciences remains, and that also of the opinion of the world.” He added that “as we respect these, we must see that in judging ourselves we have honestly done the part of impartial and rigorous judges.”

To date in the war on terrorism, including the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and all U.S. military personnel killed in action in Afghanistan and Iraq, America’s losses total about 2 percent of the forces we lost in World War II and less than 7 percent of those killed in Vietnam. Yet we did not find it necessary to compromise our honor or abandon our commitment to the rule of law to defeat Nazi Germany or imperial Japan, or to resist communist aggression in Indochina. On the contrary, in Vietnam — where we both proudly served twice — America voluntarily extended the protections of the full Geneva Convention on prisoners of war to Viet Cong guerrillas who, like al-Qaeda, did not even arguably qualify for such protections.

The Geneva Conventions provide important protections to our own military forces when we send them into harm’s way. Our troops deserve those protections, and we betray their interests when we gratuitously “interpret” key provisions of the conventions in a manner likely to undermine their effectiveness. Policymakers should also keep in mind that violations of Common Article 3 are “war crimes” for which everyone involved — potentially up to and including the president of the United States — may be tried in any of the other 193 countries that are parties to the conventions.

In a letter to President James Madison in March 1809, Jefferson observed: “It has a great effect on the opinion of our people and the world to have the moral right on our side.” Our leaders must never lose sight of that wisdom.

It’s nice to see them hearkening back to our Founding Fathers, but…well, I wonder, where were you two in 2004? Abusive interrogations were known BEFORE the 2004 general election. I wonder why you two have waited until now to speak out. You quote Thomas Jefferson who said: “It has a great effect on the opinion of our people and the world to have the moral right on our side.” Did we not lose that moral right at Abu Ghraib? The evidence was clearly there that that incident was a direct result of President Bush’s orders vis a vis detainees and the Geneva Conventions. Why did you NOT speak out then, dear sirs?

Sure it is easier to speak out now, when the nation is clearly against this president. But true courage is to stand up to evil from the BEGINNING!

As per the conversation with ECS below, I have uploaded the Bismullah Brief here: (Bismullah Brief). It is a Word doc.

The Real Fake Hero

July 23, 2007 at 9:54 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, King George, Lord of the Rings, Media, Middle East, Military, nationalism, neo-conservatives, Republicans, secret combinations, Thoughts, War, War on Terror | 14 Comments

This past Saturday my wife and I went and saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The movie was pretty well done, though I do wonder what the “Order of the Phoenix” actually had to do with the plot of the movie—the actual Order members appear at the very beginning and then at the end to save the day (but that’s another story). In any case, the movie was pretty good. I got thinking about a particular aspect of our modern fictional heroes and villains. See I’m also reading Hugh Nibley’s books on the Jaredites and their origins in ancient Asiatic cultures and kingdoms. Absolutely fascinating stuff! Mr. Nibley has opened a window to a world I did not really know about but have been quite curious about for the longest time. The steppes of ancient Asia were quite a bloody, violent, and unstable times, with ruling kings dueling with rivals, capturing kings, having them live in captivity all their lives, so on and so forth. These ancient Asiatic and Jaredite kings were unafraid of battle. In fact, it was their culture that the king took the lead in the battle. They reveled in besting their rivals on the field of battle. In fact, in the account of the Jaredites the two remaining kings, Coriantumr and Shiz battled to the ultimate death and destruction of the Jaredite nation.

In any case, I’ve noticed quite a trend in our stories of late regardless of medium, be it film, television or book. The hero (and the villain too) usually takes the lead, usually is willing to go through hellfire and damnation to achieve near impossible tasks. (These same heroes apparently come out rather unscathed psychologically, but again that is also another story). Jack Bauer takes the lead on “24″. Harry Potter leads the ragtag children of Hogwarts against far more advanced Death Eaters at impossible odds. Maybe their young age makes them not think twice about the fact that they could die very easily at the hands of a Death Eater. And let me just say, if I were a Death Eater, I doubt I would let little kids get in my way of things. But that would ruin the story, wouldn’t it? Leonidas takes charge of the 300 Spartan warriors against one million Persians. Leonidas and his men die in their efforts but their efforts were able to weaken the Persians enough that a few years later they were defeated. Aragorn charges wildly into the mass of orcs in Return of the King, even though it is a foolish move if you think about it. He doesn’t though, because dramatically speaking, charging against the mass of orcs is a far more powerful scene than sitting back strategizing the perils of the kingdom of Gondor at large if the king were to die in battle.

Reality is that when the king leads the battle, the kingdom has a good chance of completely failing, of complete collapse. This is what we learn about ancient Asiatic kingdoms. People wait around until a strongman appears who takes charge, quickly amassing a powerful army that takes control of half of Asia. In no time at all, upon the king’s quick death in battle, the kingdom falls. Modern nations are a vastly different institution, where the ultimate leader stays in the back of the battle sending off the underlings to die for the cause, the homeland, for the state.

I wonder what it is doing to our culture and our mindset when we tie in our hearts and culture the worship of the hero, the soldier, the warrior, the one who, risking all, darts off to battle “evil”, coming back conqueror. Even the most insanest of us all tends to be quite realistic when it comes to his or her own survival. Thus I am befuddled when I see for example this video of College Republicans who speak so easily of our cause against terrorism, but who they themselves do not wish to pick up a weapon and fight.

I don’t mean to pick necessarily on Republicans with this point, it’s just that their example is the most blatant right now. Who do they expect to do the fighting for the cause they speak so proudly of?

We see so many examples in our entertainment, in all mediums, books, television and film, of a worship of the warrior that I really do think it has clouded our understanding of both warfare and tolerating situations we really have no power to control. So many speak of doing “something” about Iran, for example, as if it were not tolerable to have an Iran with nuclear technology. When we speak of not tolerating a nuclear Iran, what does that mean? Do we really have the power to 1) stop Iran from learning nuclear technology? 2) and not further decay our own power?

Reality bites hard. We may have deposed Saddam Hussein. Few doubted our military might and our ability to defeat someone as weak as Saddam. But I wonder if the fakery of fictional characters has so clouded our vision that we think taking massive risks means the risks won’t actually take place? I was watching “A Bug’s Life” with my daughter the other day and I thought some more about this. Flick made a grave mistake when his contraption caused the offering to fall into the river below. That’s fine, a big problem, but fixable. But Flick does not learn the lesson of his mistake, and that is that taking risks could be destructive to the whole tribe. It was quite opportune for Flick and the ants that a bird lived close by, because really, without the bird, something Flick could not control, all his plans were doomed to fail.

Pundits favoring the actions in Iraq talked so often and frequently about how this action would utterly change the Middle East that one really has to wonder how they were believed. Then again no one really asked these pundits just what evidence they had that forcible invasion of a very nationalistic tribalistic state would magically create a pro-Western democratic haven right smack in the middle of a whole slew of other ultra-nationalistic tribalistic states whose influences were and still are far greater and more powerful than the invading army’s influence. We took a high priced risk. We were the hero who rushed wildly at the mass of orcs thinking that, hey it worked in the fictional account, it should work in reality. Aragorn won’t die. He can’t. Frodo will somehow magically make it to the Mount of Doom to melt the ring of Sauron’s power. And more importantly that action would somehow make all the orcs stop attacking to kill Aragorn. Or that Han Solo would appear at the right moment to “surge” and deflect just enough of Vader’s ship to give Luke the opportunity to shoot his guns into the plot-appropriate hole that magically destroys the entire Death Star. We hear plenty in real life from war supporters who say, hey “bomb them all to hell.” “Just nuke the place, that will solve all our problems.”

I used to think that we should restart a draft into American culture, because I used to believe that forcing Americans to serve in defense of their country would make them wisen up about risking so much in wars of choices. After all, interestingly, many of today’s leaders did NOT fight in Vietnam (Dick Cheney had five deferments for “other priorities” for example). But I now don’t think the problem with our rush to wars is lack of fighting by Americans. I think it is our worship of the hero, the warrior, the soldier. Ironically, the Army’s new slogan is an “Army of One.” Heh, it couldn’t be more fitting for our culture of hero worship.

This is not going to change soon. In fact, it will probably get worse before it gets better. Which is too bad, because we’re now in decline in the world around us. The risks were not neutralized, but instead materialized as we were warned. We’ve got many problems ahead of us.

Giuliani: America Is Too Consumed With Iraq

July 20, 2007 at 10:04 am | Posted in American politics, conservatives, corruption, Iraq, Military, rudy giuliani, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Rudy Giuliani says that Americans are too consumed with Iraq. Uh, no duh dude. It’s the killing grounds of our soldiers, our brothers, our sons. I wonder what Rudy would rather us do? Go shopping?

Raw Power vs The Rule of Law, or Why Democrats Can’t Do a Single Thing About Bush

July 19, 2007 at 9:49 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Democracy, Democrats, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, liberals, Media, Military, nationalism, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Scooter Libby, secret combinations, Thoughts, Torture, violence, Voter Suppression, War, War on Terror, Washington DC, World Events | 8 Comments

I have closely observed the goings on of my government (as best as I can seeing how secretive they want to be) these past five years, ever since Bush decided to go to war with Iraq back in the summer of 2002. (Read Bill Schneider’s “Marketing Iraq: Why Now?” where you can read Andrew Card’s comment: “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.” They decided over the summer to attack Iraq. The rest was all a matter of marketing, selling it to the American public). They got the war rammed down Americans’ throats, with an extremely complicit media rooting the Administration on, damned be anyone that stood in their way.

The corrupting influence of raw power began immediately after 9/11. I’m sure in the very first seconds of realizing the potential power the Executive could yield, the Administration probably had good intents, but those were just a few seconds. They realized just how much power they really had: raw power. And they realized they must keep it a secret, for if it really got out, they would be forced to follow the rule of law, and not the rule of raw power. They took advantage of all the support (90% approval ratings and support from many nations around the world) and ran with it as far as they thought they could go. Karl Rove told Republicans in January of 2002 to run with the war in the November elections and they would win seats. They did and they won seats. They got the war they wanted, on the cheap, small force, shock and awe military might that defeated a ragtag worn down Iraqi military in three weeks. No surprise there. No wonder so many neo-conservatives and their allies chortled after the war, and drank in their wine of success.

Reports and studies, however, were there from the beginning that all was not well, and that continuing down this path would lead to serious problems for America. The most serious is the raw power employed by the Bush administration. Unchecked, the Bush administration began, right from the start, right from 2001 and early 2002, to employ power beyond what is written in the Constitution. Why? Because they saw what raw power there was in the Executive Branch and they took it. Even so, they knew they were doing wrong, or they wouldn’t be so secretive about it. Only those with something to hide, hide something. So right from the start, the United States of America began torturing people, employing techniques learned from the Soviets and the Nazis. They kept this as much of a secret as they could. For they knew if this were to get out, they would be in trouble. The American public still had more raw power over the administration, at least until after the 2004 presidential election. Once that election passed and Bush won, their raw power achieved the ultimate. For the next four years, no one could stop them. So some of their secrets could get out. In fact, by slowly getting out, the secrets became acceptable. Like any watcher of pornography, you can justify the soft porn at first, but you cannot justify the hardcore. Once you get enough of the soft porn, the hardcore becomes acceptable and even desirable. It soon becomes a part of who you are.

In 2006 something wonderful happened. America broke out of the spell of this administration and its evils. A lot of Democrats and liberals (and many independents) were hopeful to see a change.

Unfortunately that is not going to happen. You see, the Bush administration has tasted of raw power and they will not let go. In fact, even if the Democrats get a veto proof majority in these next 18 months, there is nothing to hold back the Bush administration from simply defying the veto overrides of Congress. Note with what impunity the administration is telling private citizens not to show up for Congressional subpoenas! They even claim executive privilege over documents related to Pat Tillman’s debacle. Why? Because they can. There is no raw power above them, so why should they listen to anyone or do anything for anyone? They answer to none but themselves.

We must realize that there is only one thing that can actually end this raw power by this administration over these next 18 months and that is a full on revolution where the American people rise up and kicks this administration out of power. Congress has no raw power to impeach this president. He will simply defy their will. Why should he bother with Congress? He has no incentive. He has nothing to lose.

America has not been in as dangerous and precarious position as it is today. We must go back to the rule of law. For the rule of law to have any real effect, those who broke the rule of law must be punished and held accountable. Otherwise, what is the purpose of law? Without any punishment, there is no law. Unfortunately this will not happen, and we will have to deal with the administration as currently constituted for the next 18 months. We will have to deal with a possible military strike on Iran. We will have to deal with attempts by this administration to fix the next election so that they ensure a Republican president and a security and secrecy over what they have done these past six years. What Republican candidate today is going to actually hold anyone in the Bush administration accountable for their crimes? What Republican candidate today will punish anyone in this administration?

For that matter, what Democrat will truly do what needs to be done? I bet that even they will come up with some rationale about healing the wounds of Bush’s divisiveness and let them get away with it. Again, if there is no punishment, can there really be a law? If there is no law, what do we have?

Jack Balkin writes about why this is so important:

At this point in Bush’s Presidency three things matter above all others. They motivate this final round of constitutional hardball: The first is keeping secret what the President and his advisers have done. The second is running out the clock to prevent any significant dismantling of his policies until his term ends. The third is doing whatever he can proactively to ensure that later governments do not hold him or his associates accountable for any acts of constitutional hardball or other illegalities practiced during his term in office.

If the NSA program and the Torture Memos were examples of the second round of constitutional hardball, the Libby commutation and Harriet Meiers’ refusal to testify before Congress are examples of the third round. Although his Presidency now seems to be a failure, Bush’s third round of constitutional hardball may be every bit as important as the first two. That is because if Bush is never held accountable for what he did in office, future presidents will be greatly tempted to adopt features of his practices. If they temper his innovations and his excesses only slightly, they will still seem quite admirable and restrained in comparison to Bush. As a result, if Congress and the public do not decisively reject Bush’s policies and practices, some particularly unsavory features of his Presidency will survive in future Administrations. If that happens, Bush’s previous acts of constitutional hardball will have paid off after all. He may not have created a new and lasting constitutional regime, but he will have introduced long-lasting weaknesses and elements of decay into our constitutional system.

This administration is by far the worst that America has ever seen. But it is far more dangerous than that. Their policies and their use of raw power has done serious and potentially permanent damage and harm to the rule of law and the Constitution. Note for example the audacity of Sara Taylor claiming her oath to the president rather than to the Constitution. When corrected, now how smugly she replied:

Leahy: And then you said, I took an oath to the President, and I take that oath very seriously. Did you mean, perhaps, you took an oath to the Constitution?

Taylor: Uh, I, uh, yes, you’re correct, I took an oath to the Constitution. Uh, but, what–

Leahy: Did you take a second oath to the President?

Taylor: I did not. I–

Leahy: So the answer was incorrect.

Taylor: The answer was incorrect. What I should have said is that, I took an oath, I took that oath seriously. And I believe that taking that oath means that I need to respect, and do respect, my service to the President.

Leahy: No, the oath says that you take an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. That is your paramount duty. I know that the President refers to the government being his government — it’s not. It’s the government of the people of America. Your oath is not to uphold the President, nor is mine to uphold the Senate. My oath, like your oath, is to uphold the Constitution.

This was an unscripted moment showing the reality of the raw power employed by the Bush administration. Loyalty is NOT to the Constitution, but to the president. Because the real raw power is not in the Constitution, but in Bush and Cheney. Note also Cheney’s ludicrous claim that is was not part of the executive branch, and thus cannot be held in check by any rules or regulations. These are but a few examples of the raw power employed by the Bush administration. (Heck, let’s not even bring up Scooter Libby!).

What can be done? At this point we must continue to reveal the secrets, show Americans just how much the Bush administration is not for the Constitution they took an oath to uphold. Continue forcing them to explain themselves. History will be the judge. If the administration attempts to start a fight with Iran, we must take to the streets and say NO! It won’t do much to actually stop them, but that’s all we can do, unless we’re riping for a real revolution.

A Realistic Assessment on Progress in Iraq

July 14, 2007 at 5:23 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Democrats, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, Media, Military, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Saudi Arabia, secret combinations, Thoughts, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | 3 Comments

Whatever you do, if you want a real assessment about the situation in Iraq, do NOT listen to the President of the United States. Read Patrick Cockburn instead, for example. What will you learn? You’ll learn that, yes, Iraqis did progress on a few of the 18 benchmarks, but all the areas where they improved were insignificant, and the areas where Iraqis must have improved, about six benchmarks, Iraqis made absolutely no improvement at all. Things like security and politics. The very important stuff. No improvement at all.

The White House yesterday sought to suggest possible change for the better in Iraq by saying that there had been satisfactory progress on eight of the 18 goals set by Congress. Unsatisfactory progress is reported on six, unsatisfactory but with some progress on two and “too early to assess” on a further two.

The picture it hopes to give – and this has been uncritically reported by the US media – is of a mixture of progress and frustration in Iraq.

The wholly misleading suggestion is that the war could go either way. In reality the six failures are on issues critical to the survival of Iraq while the eight successes are on largely trivial matters.

Thus unsatisfactory progress is reported on “the Iraqi security forces even handedly enforcing the law” and on the number of Iraqi units willing to fight independently of the Americans. This means that there is no Iraqi national army but one consisting of Kurds, Shia and Sunni who will never act against their own communities. Despite three years of training, the Iraqi security forces cannot defend the government.

Set against these vitally important failures are almost ludicrously trivial or meaningless successes. For instance, “the rights of minority political parties are being defended” but these groups have no political influence. The alliance of Shia religious and Kurdish nationalist parties that make up the government is not keen to share power with anybody. This is scarcely surprising since they triumphantly won the election in 2005.

There have been some real improvements over the past six months. Sectarian killings in Iraq have declined to 650 in June compared with 2,100 in January. So-called “high-profile” bombings, including suicide bomb attacks on Shia markets, fell to 90 in June compared with 180 in March. But it is doubtful if these are entirely or even mainly due to the US surge.

The fall in sectarian killings, mostly of Sunni by Shia, may be largely the result of the Mehdi Army militia of Muqtada al-Sadr being told by their leader to curb their murder campaign. It is also true that last year, after the attack on the Shia shrine in Samarra on 22 February 2006, there was a battle for Baghdad which the Shia won and the Sunni lost.

Baghdad is more and more Shia-dominated and the Sunni are pinned into the south-west of the city and a few other enclaves. As Sunni and Shia are killed or driven out of mixed areas, there are less of them to kill. Some 4.2 million people in Iraq are now refugees, of whom about half have fled the country.

The real and appalling situation on the ground in Iraq has been all too evident this week. Thirty bodies, the harvest of the death squads, were found in the streets of Baghdad on Wednesday. The figure for Tuesday was 26 and, in addition, 20 rockets and mortar bombs were fired into the Green Zone killing three people. This was significant because they were fired by the Mehdi Army, who had been upset by criticism made on them by the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki. By way of gentle reproof they shelled his offices in the Green Zone.

What does this mean? It means that the surge is not having the intended effect. That is, if the intended effect was indeed a progress in security and political resolutions in Iraq, the surge has not succeeded, and probably will not succeed no matter how long we continue pressing this surge. The problem we are facing here at home is two fold. The public is now dead set against the war, and the military does not have any new fresh troops for the fight. A government cannot go to war without the nation behind it. Once it loses the nation, it will fairly quickly lose the war. The reason is that the soldiers come from the nation. Now, the military will run out of new soldiers to send to Iraq next April. Once April comes around what is the military going to do? They don’t say. Why not? Because their civilian bosses at the White House order them to remain silent. Why? Because it would hurt them politically.

Listen guys, the Republicans, by continuing this charade will lose badly in the November 2008 elections. They don’t seem to realize this. They believe that the American public will somehow never ever consider dropping them all. They figure that the more they filibuster Democratic legislation the more they can paint the Democrats as unable to rule. But this time the Americans will not forget (as they usually do with their massively short term attention span) that it was the Republicans who pressed for this war. This is important because if it were not for the Republicans, we’d get more honest assessments about this war and about what to do with our dear soldiers who fight for us. Instead, April will come around and well, we’ll still be living in denial while our soldiers come home wounded and weakened, stretched to the limit, and not the fighting force that can or will win our battles for us. This is very dangerous. Republicans would rather not talk about that. Neither their cohorts who control the media (see for example this latest evidence that even the New York Times would rather portray a political situation in Republican light—liberal media indeed).

What should happen?

In the real world, what should happen, especially when it comes to war, is to end the politicization. Republicans must stop using the soldiers as political fodder against Democrats. It must end. Were regular Americans to realize just how much the soldiers have been used by Republicans for political points, well, maybe many of them, the conservative kind, don’t mind the hypocrisy. In any case, it must end. It won’t unfortunately. But this is what should happen. We should look realistically at our situation now. We should assess just where this war has taken us, just what the costs have been. Will we actually do that? Not likely. Why not? Because partisan politics has gripped our nation at just the wrong time. Who is to blame for that? Karl Rove of course. As long as he is still employed we will never get an honest assessment.

The best solution for America right now in regards to Iraq is to begin talking about a way out of Iraq. The British were able to do so. We could learn a lot from the British it seems. One of the lessons is that you have to plan a good escape from the situation. The problem with Vietnam, and unfortunately the problem we will face with Iraq, is that we did not have a good plan of escape. So in the end you had a helicopter on top of the embassy with thousands of people trying to take it. What a shameful way to leave. Who is to blame for that? None other than Nixon of course. He orchestrated the ending of the war so that it would cast a bad light on the Democrats. But it was he, in the end, who left Vietnam the way he left it. George Bush does not wish to talk about how to leave Iraq. He would rather punt that on to the next administration (at this point assuredly a Democratic one). The moment the next administration withdraws the troops, he, from the sidelines, will criticize and demonize the next administration for failing in Iraq, and for not continuing his “grand crusade—er mission.” Why would he do this? Because in his heart, George W. Bush does not care about the troops as much as he cares about scoring political points for his Republican party.

The British withdrawal from southern Iraq also opens a window into our future for us to see what would happen with a withdrawal of foreign occupying troops. The Shi’ite militias turn on each other. This is the expected outcome. Why? Well, we go back to our realistic assessments. We keep pretending to believe that somehow the new Iraqi “army” will be loyal to the “government.” But please, let’s be honest. The real power lies in the militias, and will do so until the Americans leave to let the militias work it out on their own just how to run a large country the size of Iraq. What may really end up happening is that Iraq breaks down to tribal groups, as before World War I. Who knows, that may be what is actually best for a region like Iraq. The problem is that our world today prefers the nation-state. How would tribal organizations manage in such a system? Especially one like Iraq with all those lucrative resources?

In any case, Iraq will not fall to Al-Qaida. Al-Qaida’s presence in Iraq is small, and homogeneous. Their power is nowhere near that of the Shi’ite militias or the Kurdish militias. Will the Shi’ites try to murder all the remaining Sunnis? Not if the Sunnis have their own militias who protect their own. Also, if Iraq goes tribal, it won’t remain so for long. Here is where you get into the danger of a possible regional conflict. Iran will most likely eat up the Shi’ite south and east while Saudi Arabia will take in the Sunnis in the west. Will Saudi Arabia (or the United States) allow Iran to take possession of such a large amount of land with oil? Of course not. What about Turkey and Kurdistan? Turkey does currently have 140,000 troops on the border with Kurdistan. Turkish leaders have to think more of domestic politics than their obligations to foreign powers. The domestic politics demand action against the Kurds.

It really is unfortunate, and very tragic that we cannot have a realistic assessment about our actions in Iraq. The American people deserve to know the entire situation so they can make a realistic decision on whether or not to follow the president’s plan or some other. Whipping up the frenzy of Al-Qaida does nothing to solve the problem. I really hope Republicans can understand this. At this point, I am not holding my breath.

Rove: Troops to Come Home Before 2008 Election

July 9, 2007 at 12:09 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Iraq, Military, Republicans, violence, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Karl Rove has revealed once again the White House’s strategy for the 2008 elections, just like he had revealed the strategy for the 2002 elections. What is the strategy? Well, according to THE math (as opposed to the real math), Iraq will not figure in to the 2008 elections because, according to him, troops will be home before then. Or at least begin the “post-surge redeployment”, the Bush administration’s new catchy phrase that totally avoids describing what in actuality it really is: a withdrawing of troops from the field of operations. See, Bush is vetoing any such actions now because they are not on HIS timetable. His timetable is timed perfectly with November of every even year. That’s the timetable of most concern to the Bush White House. Whatever works to make Republicans stay in power is what works for Bush. They assume many things wrongly because of this. For example, the surge is a failure, not complete, but a failure nonetheless. Violence continues. Political solutions are somewhere at the bottom of the dank Euphrates that runs through Baghdad.

But none of that matters. It is all a matter of perception. This is why the public face is what it is. They are selling a story. They have to follow the script.

REPORTER: Mr. President, if you decide…

BILL MOYERS: But the White House press corps will ask no hard questions tonight about those claims. Listen to what the President says:

PRESIDENT BUSH: This is a scripted…(laughter)

REPORTER: Thank you Mr. President–

BILL MOYERS: Scripted. Sure enough, the President’s staff has given him a list of reporters to call on.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Let’s see here… Elizabeth… Gregory… April…Did you have a question or did I call upon you cold?

APRIL: No, I have a question (laughter)

PRESIDENT BUSH: Okay. I’m sure you do have a question

ERIC BOEHLERT: He sort of giggled and laughed. And, the reporters sort of laughed. And, I don’t know if it was out of embarrassment for him or embarrassment for them because they still continued to play along. After his question was done. They all shot up their hands and pretended they had a chance of being called on.

APRIL: How is your faith guiding you?

PRESIDENT BUSH: My faith sustains me because I pray daily. I pray for guidance.

ERIC BOEHLERT: I think it just crystallized what was wrong with the press coverage during the run up to the war…I think they felt like the war was gonna happen. And, they– the best thing for them to do was to get out of the way.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you for your questions.

Be on the watch, America. The Bush administration will try once again to pull the wool over your eyes. Please see through their muck.

Redeployed to Iraq and Afghanistan for the FIFTH Time

July 9, 2007 at 11:48 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Iraq, Military, War on Terror, World Events | 5 Comments

An Army Reservist in Miami is being ordered back to Iraq for a fifth time. He’s not upset at being sent back, as he finds his duty to his country honorable. But he is suing the Army to hold off his redeployment so he could finish up his degree in engineering, and to make sure he doesn’t lose his house (which he would if he were redeployed).

The United States military, as currently designed, an all-volunteer force with only so many, can only handle so much continuous fighting before they become a “broken” military. Apparently that end will come next April when the military will basically run out of soldiers. This is scary stuff. Our military is so badly weakened by our actions in Iraq that, well, if we are tested by a truly powerful enemy, we really won’t have the capability to defend ourselves.

General Michael Rose wrote: (h/t Hellmut at Headlife)

It is hardly an overstatement to say that had Britain not ended the American War of Independence when it did, it could never have been in a position to defeat Napoleon.

Today, of course, the United States finds itself in much the same position as Britain in 1781. Distracted and diminished by an irrelevant, costly and probably unwinnable war in Iraq, America could ultimately find itself challenged by countries like China and India. Unless it can find a leader with the moral courage of Pitt, there is a strong probability that it will be forced to relinquish its position as the global superpower — possibly to a regime that does not have the same commitment to justice and liberty that the United States and Britain have worked so hard to extend across the world over the past two centuries.

The sound of the first shot fired at Lexington in 1775 echoed across the world. So too did the firing of the last shot six years later at Yorktown. That second echo brought salvation for Britain, and ultimately great benefit to the entire world.

Smart thinking says that we should be far more concerned about our national security than the national security of another nation. The greater threat lies not from the cave-dwelling terrorists, but from other nations who might just take advantage of our weakened position to increase their power vis a vis us.

There really is nothing more we can do in Iraq right now that is worth the cost we are incurring. We must reduce our costs if we are to ensure our position in the world stays the way it is. Otherwise in perhaps just a few years, we will find ourselves no longer in charge of the direction of this world. And that is a far scarier position for us to be in than with an unstable Iraq.

US Aborted Strike On Al-Qaida Because of Musharraf in Pakistan

July 7, 2007 at 5:41 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Military, Pakistan, Republicans, secret combinations, War on Terror | 1 Comment

Well well well, it seems the United States under George W. Bush would rather protect a military dictator who holds nukes and nearly used them on his rival than take out Al-Qaida.

A secret military operation in early 2005 to capture senior members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas was aborted at the last minute after top Bush administration officials decided it was too risky and could jeopardize relations with Pakistan, according to intelligence and military officials.

The target was a meeting of Al Qaeda’s leaders that intelligence officials thought included Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy and the man believed to run the terrorist group’s operations.

But the mission was called off after Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, rejected the 11th-hour appeal of Porter J. Goss, then the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, officials said. Members of a Navy Seals unit in parachute gear had already boarded C-130 cargo planes in Afghanistan when the mission was canceled, said a former senior intelligence official involved in the planning.

So here’s the question. What is Bush’s top priority if it isn’t taking out those who attacked us on 9/11?

Some Truth From Iraq

July 7, 2007 at 9:23 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Iraq, Military, secret combinations, violence, War, War on Terror | 2 Comments

It is so refreshing to read a more truthful and accurate account of what is going on in Iraq. It is such a shame that these kinds of reports are so few and far in between. Don’t ever read Michael Gordon’s pieces in the New York Times if you want to know what is REALLY going on in Iraq. Today, however, we have a retired Foreign Service Officer who worked in the middle of it all saying it like it really is:

Baqubah is a battlefield, the site of a major push against al-Qaeda and other insurgents. The houses that haven’t been destroyed are riddled with bullet holes. Many of the Iraqis I worked with are dead, and many others have fled.

The reason for some of this destruction lies, as our newspapers tell us, in the outpouring of al-Qaeda operatives from Baghdad, a result of the latest U.S. troop “surge” into the capital. Much of the responsibility, however, is ours.

The actions of American troops have prompted much of the resistance in Diyala province. More important, these actions are symptomatic of other factors, including the short attention span of the American people, the regular rotation of our troops, the understandable desire of each commander to distinguish himself, and our very American belief that we can solve problems quickly when others can’t. We have allowed all of these factors to run away with the war in Iraq.

Kiki then goes on to describe several incidents that highlight our failures. I recommend reading the entire piece if you want an accurate portrayal of the problems in Iraq. Kiki’s conclusion:

And we Americans? We are trumpeting our “new” initiative of enlisting Sunni tribal chiefs to our side. We are busy “building confidence” among the Iraqi security forces who, we now admit, have had sectarian tendencies. We’re also mounting a massive campaign against . . . our “enemies.”

We have forgotten or not bothered to remember what we have done over the past months.

But the Iraqis have not forgotten. They have lived this chapter before. Only it was better then, last year.

So well said.

The United States Military Purposefully Killed Seven Children in Afghanistan, Meanwhile, Bad Guy Got Away

June 19, 2007 at 10:13 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, corruption, Military, secret combinations, violence, War, War on Terror | 3 Comments

And you wonder why Afghanistan is such a mess, why after SIX LONG YEARS we still have not defeated the rabble Taliban (some of them are the same rabble group, I might add, that defeated the Soviet Union in the 80s). Well, earlier this week the United States military killed seven children in an air strike. The target was some bad dude named Abu Laith al Libi. Supposedly he’s a leader among the Taliban. That’s fine and dandy, but apparently he got away in time, so he was not killed. The latest word, according to NBC is that the military knew there would be children at this facility and decided to take the risk anyways:

U.S. special operations forces were targeting the leader of al-Qaida in Afghanistan — one of the organization’s top commanders — when they launched an attack against a compound that killed seven children Sunday in Paktika province of eastern Afghanistan, U.S. officials tell NBC News.

According to several officials, and contrary to previous statements, the U.S. military knew there were children at the compound but considered the target of such high value it was worth the risk of potential collateral damage.

Those same officials tell NBC News the target of Sunday’s attack was Abu Laith al Libi, the al-Qaida commander in Afghanistan and a top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden. The sources report that although six sets of remains besides those of the seven children were recovered, it’s not clear whether Abu Laith is among those killed.

It’s funny how the United States military chooses to sacrifice the lives of innocents without giving them any kind of choice in the matter. Just what are we fighting in Afghanistan for anyways?

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Failed States, the Legacy of the Bush Administration and Republicans

June 19, 2007 at 9:20 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Christianity, condoleezza rice, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Middle East, Military, nationalism, neo-conservatives, Pakistan, Religion, Republicans, Revising History, secret combinations, Somalia, Syria, Thoughts, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | Leave a comment

Republicans and the Christian Right should be well familiar with this particular verse from the Bible, Matthew 7:15-20:

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

By their fruits, ye shall know them. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. A corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. Any Christian knows this parable. What does this mean for our world today? Let’s look at the fruits of the Bush administration and the Republican party.

Iraq

A failed state. The Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine have released their annual report of the world’s failed states. Iraq is the second worst failed state in the world, only two points better in the rankings than the world’s worst failed state, The Sudan. We’re now well over four years into our war in Iraq. Let’s put that in perspective. World War II, if started on March 20, 2003, would have ended last December or so. What is worse about this is that unlike The Sudan, America has pumped billions of dollars into Iraq with so little to show for it.

That is not to say that all failing states suffer from international neglect. Iraq and Afghanistan, the two main fronts in the global war on terror, both suffered over the past year. Their experiences show that billions of dollars in development and security aid may be futile unless accompanied by a functioning government, trustworthy leaders, and realistic plans to keep the peace and develop the economy. Just as there are many paths to success, there are many paths to failure for states on the edge.

So I ask you, Americans, and especially Christian conservatives, what do these fruits tell you about the tree from which they come? Now some of you may say, the tree really is terrorism. The answer to that is, no. The tree is America. We entered Iraq with the supposed intent to recreate the Middle East, and Iraq itself. After four years, what are the fruits of our labors? An utterly failed state. Jesus said, evil fruit cannot come from good trees.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Afghanistan

Recently a US airstrike killed seven children along with many others. More than one hundred die in three days of heavy fighting. The Taliban (living over in neighboring Pakistan) continue to plague the Americans now SIX YEARS after we attacked them. Six years. And they are still around? Afghanistan is ranked as the 8th worst failed state in the world, behind only The Sudan, Iraq, and a bunch of African states.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Pakistan

The Bush administration continues to support the highly corrupt and repressive military dictator, Musharraf, regardless of how much he punishes reformers in Pakistan. Pakistan is ranked as the 12th worst failed state in the world. Only Haiti, Central African Republic and Guinea separate Pakistan from her neighbor Afghanistan.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Lebanon

Poor, poor Lebanon, the world’s pawn, played by all parties against her own will. Israelis bomb her to the stone age. Hezbollah is a parasitic virus, destroying the country from within. Syria assassinates her leaders. The United States sacrifices her democracy on the altar of supposed Israeli preference (though if the United States were smart, they would have reined in Israel last summer, because it is in Israel’s best interest to have a stable country to her north. Now because of their idiotic bombing campaign, Lebanon is failing). Lebanon is ranked as the 28th worst failed state in the world.

Palestine

Not a state (and apparently not ever going to be a state), this is probably the worst of Bush’s failures. Is it really in the best interest of our ally, Israel, to have a failed non-state as her neighbor? Is it really in Israel’s best interest to have 1.4 million starving raving lunatics in a 25 mile strip of land right on her border? Is this Condoleezza Rice’s idea of “birth pangs?”

Why are these failed states so important to the world? The Foreign Policy magazine states it well in their introduction:

It is an accepted axiom of the modern age that distance no longer matters. Sectarian carnage can sway stock markets on the other side of the planet. Anarchic cities that host open-air arms bazaars imperil the security of the world’s superpower. A hermit leader’s erratic behavior not only makes life miserable for the impoverished millions he rules but also upends the world’s nuclear nonproliferation regime. The threats of weak states, in other words, ripple far beyond their borders and endanger the development and security of nations that are their political and economic opposites.

These are the fruits of the Republican philosophy to the world. These are the fruits of neo-conservatives. These are not the fruits of good trees. These must be cast into the fire, metaphorically speaking. We must do what needs to be done with these kinds of philosophies, let them pass the way of the dodo bird, to be a relic of history, never to be seen again. At least, if Americans want a better world.

Why General David Petraeus Is Not To Be Trusted

June 18, 2007 at 11:55 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Iraq, Military, secret combinations, violence, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

(Via Dick Polman)

General Petraeus in September 2004 on Iraq:

I see tangible progress. Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt from the ground up. The institutions that oversee them are being reestablished from the top down. And Iraqi leaders are stepping forward, leading their country and their security forces courageously…There are reasons for optimism…Training is on track and increasing in capacity. Infrastructure is being repaired…Progress has also been made in police training…Considerable progress is also being made in the reconstruction and refurbishing of infrastructure for Iraq’s security forces…Iraq’s security forces are developing steadily and they are in the fight. Momentum has gathered in recent months. With strong Iraqi leaders out front and with continued coalition – and now NATO – support, this trend will continue.

Why should we take anything that General Petraeus says seriously? Note that this was two months before November 2004, the worst month for US casualties in Iraq, with 135 some odd dead. And of course, two months before the general presidential election. General Petraeus surely wasn’t trying to influence voters to “stay the course” for Bush. Nah. So why should he be trusted to say anything but what Bush WANTS HIM TO SAY?

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