Archive for the 'Iraq' Category

And soon the Iraq War will end entirely.

Oct 21, 2011 in Barack Obama, Iraq

It’s kind of amazing to type that, really. 2003’s bitter wounds, as that war began over our fierce objections, had seemed now to be closed, if somewhat licked from time to time. A war that just kept kicking along forever until we turned it away from our focus, letting it drone on beneath our consciousness. A quagmire that seemed to offer no way out except for a leader to have the courage to walk away from it. To see it truly ending demands a post-mortem, and to give one we must remember.

Sullivan applies this to assessing Obama’s role:

We sometimes forget that he began as an anti-war candidate when the Great Recession was a twinkle in a credit default swap trader’s eye. And when I hear people whining about his betrayals or their disappointments, I just hope they note that against great odds, the Iraq war is over without our running for cover. Given the core contradiction of the conflict and the bungling of the occupation: not so shabby. Given his core reason for running for president, mission accomplished.

Some forgot that Obama had the edge over Hillary Clinton in 2008 because he had had the courage to stand up against the Iraq War before it was politically advantageous to do so. So this really is a full circle, one that vindicates and redeems, regardless of whatever Clinton or even McCain would have theoretically done. We chose him to end the war, and he ended the war. Sure, the Iraqis had to say no to offers of more troops, but at least Obama listened and will stick by the terms of the contract with the Iraqi people.

Let’s see the same in Afghanistan, sooner rather than later, although realistically I don’t expect it until Obama’s second term.

-hw

Iraq withdrawal begins.

Jun 29, 2009 in Iraq

U.S. forces pull out of Baghdad and other major cities.

I cautiously type those words. Is this real?

-jb

4 to 8 more years-

Apr 14, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives, Iraq

-of crazy:

Of course, whenever Texans or Alaskans or even Vermonters talk about seceding, I always think, “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass!” Also, “Does this mean we can invade?” But seriously, if the Governor of Texas actually believes his citizens will be content to lose their U.S. citizenship, then we are looking at a Republican black hole. No light can escape from it. Wayfarers will divert course to evade the suck. Eventually, the party will become so tightly compressed people will wonder if they even exist.

-jb

The Iraq War is finally justified.

Mar 28, 2009 in Iraq

Hooray!

The fact that Obama is instituting Iraq-honed practices in Afghanistan refutes the assertion that the Iraq War was a fatal distraction from the war in Afghanistan. Vindicated, on the other hand, is Christopher Hitchens, who has repeatedly made the case that the Iraq War would provide invaluable instruction in fighting jihadists going forward.

Oh.

Pretty fucking costly training exercise.

Moron.

-jb

Intellectual honesty is garlic to neocons.

Jan 20, 2009 in Iraq, Politics

Daniel Larison, via Sullivan, offers further elaboration on the latest car salesman tactics of the Bush apologetics:

When supporters begin blithely claiming that the war in Iraq is over and we won, or declare that history will vindicate Mr. Bush, they are naturally not taking into account that this war may very well lead to even more terrible blowback in the years and decades to come. Indeed, the full costs of Mr. Bush’s failures will not be known for many years. In the terrible event that there are more disastrous consequences of Mr. Bush’s policies, will his apologists at that point acknowledge that he was a failure, or will they construct new arguments to claim that he cannot be held responsible for what happened later on? We already know the answer to that.

Yes, we do: no act of revenge for the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis will be attributable to Bush.

As I mentioned recently, this is a pure PR campaign from the right to try to wrap up Bush’s term on a positive note and excuse him from any repercussions. Suddenly, though Iraq doesn’t know it, they’ve been saved and all is well over there. Yes, any foreign policy realist knows that the surge was but one element among many that allowed some semblance of sanity in Iraq, but if the situation deteriorates, it must be President Obama’s fault, right?

Regarding the economy, rinse and repeat.

In both cases, Bush has left behind wrecks, scenes of devastation barely held together, and dropped it all on Obama’s feet while he skedaddles back to Crawford. Like the unaccountable drunk he has always been, he’s running from his fuck-ups yelling, “It’s all on you guys now!”

“By the way, I get credit if you can figure out how to fix Iraq!”

-jb

Reality check on Iraq, GOP counter-Obama strategy.

Jan 16, 2009 in Barack Obama, Iraq, Politics

The Republicans are pretending Bush is exiting office victorious in Iraq, not to speed up an exit (obviously) but to go after Obama. Sullivan puts it together:

The following is not really in dispute by anyone. There are still well over 130,000 American troops occupying Iraq. We have no secure idea what will happen when they leave. We have as yet no reliable integration of Sunnis into the largely Shiite Iraqi military. We have not seen what will transpire after the looming regional elections. Terror attacks continue in ways that remain routine for Iraq but that are unimaginable in any other country. Critical issues like Kirkuk remain unmanaged. The very close alliance between Baghdad and Tehran goes unmentioned by Krauthammer but remains a serious question for the future.

The possibility, in short, that Iraq has lurched, via hundreds of thousands of deaths and trillions of American dollars, from an unstable, fractious tyranny hostile to Iran to an unstable, fractious, failed state friendly to Iran is a real one. The possibility that we are in a lull before another hot phase of a civil war that goes back centuries is an equally real one. To pretend that all is peachy, that the war is “all but over”, and that the practical impossibility of Obama being able to extract himself and us from the catastrophe of the Iraq occupation is proof of vindication for Bush is so cynical it’s jaw-dropping.

It’s an attempt to set up the president-elect so that the disaster Bush created can soon be blamed on the man who thought it was a bad idea in the first place. It’s of a piece with the looming Republican plan to assail Obama for massive spending after the GOP increased government spending for eight years at a pace not seen since the 1930s.

This really shouldn’t surprise anybody: Republicans are just an opposition party. They have no real plan or ability to govern effectively, they just know how to strategically yammer in order to convince others of the fantasy world they live in.

Iraq is still a world of shit. If it remains so and we stay, Republicans have something to say. If it remains so and we leave, Republicans have something to say. Because that’s all that matters to them: talking.

-jb

Comrades!!

Nov 18, 2008 in Iraq, Uncategorized

How goes the War on Christmas?

Very well if this picture is to be believed.
Photobucket

-mg

James Inhofe has the right idea.

Nov 17, 2008 in Iraq, Uncategorized

Sen. James Inhofe wants to block the remaining $350 billion that Congress agreed to hand over to Henry Paulson:

“It is just outrageous that the American people don’t know — that Congress doesn’t know — how much money he (Paulson) has given away to anyone,” Inhofe told the Tulsa World. “It could be to his friends. It could be to anybody else. We don’t know. There is no way of knowing.”

“I know many of you have serious concerns about how Secretary Paulson has executed the financial rescue program and I share them with you,” Inhofe wrote to his colleagues on Nov. 15.

“Congress abdicated its Constitutional responsibility by signing a truly blank check over to the Treasury Secretary. However, the lame duck session of Congress offers us a tremendous opportunity to change course. We should take it,” he said.

It would stand to reason that in an economy that is made up of 70% consumer consumption you would want to put that money in the hands of those who are most likely to spend it. With that in mind I have yet to see what I would loosely call “normal people” benefit from any of the largesse that has been granted to Henry Paulson. What I’ve seen so far is a handout to his buddies at Goldman Sachs with not strings attached. Without any government oversight what we’re dealing with is pure fascism. If I don’t have a choice whether or not I want to pay taxes I should at least get some fair representation. Right now I’m not seeing anything closely resembling that. Not only do we not have a say how much we’re not allowed to know where or who it is going to.

If Republicans are serious about earning some of their limited government credibility back then I couldn’t think of a better time than the present.

-mg

Update: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the central bank won’t disclose details of the $2 trillion in emergency loans of taxpayer funds because doing so would stigmatize banks needing the money.

Democrats have to be perfect on foreign policy.

Sep 07, 2008 in Barack Obama, Foreign Policy, Iraq, Journamalism, Politics, War on Terra

Bill O’Reilly desperately tries to trip up Barack Obama. Bill accepts that Obama knows his facts better than either McCain or Palin like a child drinking castor oil.

[youtube luA0AMP51Gc]

The point is that when a Republican talks foreign policy, they are allowed to be wrong. They’re allowed to mix up Shia and Sunni, tie Al Queda to Saddam Hussein, shift rationales for war, shift metrics for success…even co-opt Democratic Party ideas that were “surrender” just months or weeks before. They can do that because they’re Republicans, and everybody knows Republicans Are Strong Against Our Enemies.â„¢

Barack Obama is not only thoroughly knowledgeable about foreign policy, he is also ahead of the curve. Compared to the hilariously wrong record of every pro-Iraq Republican, he could be accused of possessing a crystal ball. Yet all the Republicans can think to do is keep harping on, “But you were wrong about the surge, weren’t ya weren’t ya!?!?” Barack has to point out that the surge wasn’t just about the violence, but about the political settlement, and it’s too soon to count the chickens yet. Are the Republicans really prepared to explain themselves if violence breaks out again and/or the government crumbles? Probably not, because they’ll be held no more accountable for their words than they’ve ever been.

But the Democrat has to be right 100% of the time, because we know Democrats Are Weak On Terror.â„¢

To their credit, the public has begun to see through this facade. When will our media?

-jb

The End.

Aug 22, 2008 in Barack Obama, Iraq, Politics

The End of the Iraq War is apparently in sight. The Bush administration, it seems, has negotiated to remove all troops by 2011.

What’s interesting is that it should take longer than five seconds to figure out who this benefits more.

Let’s see…on one hand we have Barack Obama, who was against the war from the beginning and who has been attacked repeatedly for offering a plan almost exactly like this…

Or we have John McCain, who was for it all the way, lambasted Obama for wanting timetables, and who would have moved forward on permanent bases in Iraq.

Which viewpoint did the Bush administration succumb to? Who’s got a mouthful of crow now? McCain has no choice to bend his positions to Bush’s, which were molded on Obama’s. You’re going to vote against the guy who saw through the war in the beginning, who plotted a course to its end, and bent his opponents to his point of view through appropriate analysis of the facts and the brute force of reality?

What’s this mean for McCain? Free room to talk about who else he wants to go to war with? There is no debate here, this is a victory for Obama on the biggest issue of the decade.

-jb

China, offshore drilling, LIBRUL MOONBATS!, blah blah blah

Aug 07, 2008 in Iraq, Uncategorized

Fucking Rudy Giuliani is a stranger to reality:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGQ7WKQX4K0]

Correction: coastal states have ruled out off-shore drilling and we can’t take the “debate” in that direction because you’d have to convince the public that only Sierra Club librulz ™ own coastal property. Granted that wouldn’t be difficult if you were dealing exclusively with the Denny’s buffet queue in suburban Fort Worth, TX but you’d run into a bit of a hitch convincing the owners of Sandestin or the La Jolla Country Club to destroy their views just so that some meth-crazed, Arkabama sheet-rocker can sit in stop and go traffic in his Ford F350 all day.

Regardless of all that, repeat after me………China was not, is not, nor will be drilling off of the coast of Florida.

-mg

McCain’s promise: Christmas every day!

Jul 22, 2008 in Clueless Conservatives, Iraq, Old Man McCain, Politics, The senility of John McCain

Every day of his campaign, that is…for Democrats…and all sane people who are tired of Bush and his party. I am so happy not to be a Republican right now:

McCain: I don’t know how you respond to something that is as — such a false depiction of what actually happened. Colonel McFarlane [phonetic] was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar Awakening. I mean, that’s just a matter of history.

History disagrees, vehemently:

The Awakening began in Anbar Province more than a year before the surge and took off in the summer and fall of 2006 in Ramadi and elsewhere, long before extra U.S. forces started flowing into Iraq in February and March of 2007.

More historical record here (PDF format).

Now for another game of “McCain: Lying, Stupid or Really Old?” How is this guy getting over 40% in the polls again?

-jb

UPDATE: CBS kindly edits out McCain’s blunder. They’re really sorry about Dan Rather.

Oh, why bother reporting this anyway…

Jul 21, 2008 in Barack Obama, Clueless Conservatives, Foreign Policy, Iraq, Middle East, Politics

Iraqi PM backs Obama’s plan to exit Iraq in 16 months or sooner (which McBush is moving closer to every day), Bush administration puts pressure on Maliki to back off and claim he was mistranslated. No story there!

Funnier yet, Maliki’s excuse is that it was a “mistranslation.” Is there any correction to the translation, a possible hint at what the proper translation should have been, where Der Spiegel got it wrong, etc.? Of course not. Now, ask yourself really quick, how many rightwingers do you think have already believed the mistranslation excuse?

More than you can fit on the head of a pin, for damn sure! Well, they don’t really believe it, but Spiegel changed some words tangential to the claim, so WHO CAN REALLY BELIEVE THEIR TRANSLATION ANYWAY??? I dunno, but ’tis surely a miracle of ignorance that anybody takes the rightwing noise machine seriously anymore.

The truth is this is a pretty massive event, one that McCain would try to ride until November if it swung his way. Instead, by November McBush (they are one) will try making the public believe that they’ll get troops out quicker than Obama. We’ll probably see a small troop drawdown as a panacea, but you’ll see more pressure on Iraq’s “independent” government to be loyal to the Bush administration. The only question is, why? Does Maliki think Bush can still fuck him in the next six months? If so, at least we’ve seen how Iraq feels about President Obama: peachy keen.

-jb

UPDATE: That didn’t take long!!!

“He’d like troops to come home earlier than 16 months if the conditions allow it,” said Congresswoman Heather Wilson of New Mexico, on a conference call with reporters just now. “Senator Obama has said it’s a 16-month timeline no matter what.”

Worst comeback ever. The stink of desperation exudes…

Another friendly reminder…

Jul 16, 2008 in Barack Obama, Clueless Conservatives, Iraq, Middle East, Politics, The senility of John McCain, War on Terra

If you’re into politicians with military service, John McCain might earn some points for being a good soldier, if not much of a leader. Unfortunately, he’s a bit of an outlier party-wise, as the policies he pursues are the property of chickenhawks whose party happens to be the only one he had a shot at getting the Presidential nomination from. Barack Obama, of course, didn’t enlist in the military to no national detriment as there were no wars to fight in, like John McCain, or dodge while endorsing like George W. Bush and the brains behind the Chickenhawk party. Thankfully he managed to avoid trying to compensate for his insecurities by advocating for the Iraq War, and has listened to wiser men than John McCain also experienced in war by insisting on an exit strategy and understanding that permanent bases in Iraq will not bring peace.

On that note, I love this (somewhat old) list:

* Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage, “other priorities.”
* Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
* Tom Delay: did not serve.
* Roy Blunt: did not serve.
* Bill Frist: did not serve.
* Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
* Rick Santorum: did not serve.
* Trent Lott: did not serve.
* John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
* Jeb Bush: did not serve.
* Karl Rove: did not serve.
* Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. “Bad knee.” The man who attacked Max
Cleland’s patriotism.
* Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
* Vin Weber: did not serve.
* Richard Perle: did not serve.
* Douglas Feith: did not serve.
* Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
* Richard Shelby: did not serve.
* Jon Kyl: did not serve.
* Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
* Christopher Cox: did not serve.
* Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
* Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as flight instructor.
* George W. Bush: failed to complete his six-year National Guard; got assigned
to Alabama so he could campaign for family friend running for U.S. Senate;
failed to show up for required medical exam, disappeared from duty.
* Phil Gramm: did not serve.
* John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and
Distinguished Flying Cross.
* Dana Rohrabacher: did not serve.
* John M.. McHugh: did not serve.
* JC Watts: did not serve.
* Jack Kemp: did not serve. “Knee problem,” but continued in NFL for 8 years.
* Dan Quayle: Journalism unit of the Indiana National Guard.
* Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
* George Pataki: did not serve.
* Spencer Abraham: did not serve.
* John Engler: did not serve.
* Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
* Arnold Schwarzenegger: Served in Austrian Army, jailed once for AWOL.
* Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role making
movies.

——————-
Pundits & Preachers, etc.
——————-

* Sean Hannity: did not serve.
* Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a ‘pilonidal cyst.’)
* Bill O’Reilly: did not serve.
* Michael Savage: did not serve.
* George Will: did not serve.
* Chris Matthews: did not serve.
* Paul Gigot: did not serve.
* Bill Bennett: did not serve.
* Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
* Bill Kristol: did not serve.
* Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
* Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
* Clarence Thomas: did not serve.
* Ralph Reed: did not serve.
* Michael Medved: did not serve.
* Charlie Daniels: did not serve.
* Ted Nugent: did not serve. (He only shoots at things that don’t shoot back.)

Click on the link to see some notable Democrats who served, but that’s not so much the point. Military experience may teach you nothing, and those who don’t have it may be very wise indeed. But clearly the nation has a lesson to learn about those with no military experience who fantasize and romanticize war, and the soldiers who get sucked into their pomp and circumstance, especially those who emerge from losing wars declaring they “know how to win wars.”

-jb

p.s. Some minute additional editing of list done to no great effect.

Bad and getting worse.

Jun 12, 2008 in Iowa 2008 Flood, Iraq, Uncategorized

Updates at the bottom.

Here are some good before and after pictures of the Coralville Reservoir dam:

This is a picture of the Coralville Dam just before the water breached the spillway. The campground you see in the center is now completely under water:

Coralville Dam before the spillway breach.

Here are a couple of pictures taken yesterday after the water reached over the lip of the spillway. Since then the reservoir level has risen twelve inches. We’re supposed to crest on Tuesday.

Coralville spillway breached.

Iowa flood 2008.

My internet service might be going down for an unknown duration due to extensive flooding at the local Qwest building. Until then I’ll update as much as I can.

-mg

Update: The pics above were taken when total discharge at the dam was at approximately 21,000 cubic feet per second. The Army Corp of Engineers is now saying that total flowage both through the outlet and over the spillway will reach 40,000 cubic feet per second. With the Iowa River expected to crest early next week I think this means that evacuation is imminent for large parts of Iowa City.

John Deeth was working two blocks away from us making sure that the Johnson County Administration Building was protected.


Iowa City expects to surpass 100-year flood plain Friday night

Iowa City expects to surpass its 100-year flood plain Friday night, and Coralville Lake projects to hit a record 717.04 feet above sea level Tuesday. The Iowa River in Iowa City expects to reach 32.2* feet by Monday, more than 10 feet above flood stage.

“We’re expected to pass the 100-year flood level and flows will continue to increase,” Iowa City Mayor Regenia Bailey said. “Let me repeat that, the flows will continue to increase.”

Outflow from Coralville Lake will reach 40,000 cubic feet per second by Tuesday, within 4,000 feet of the 500-year flood plan.

*This has since been revised to 34 feet (flood stage is 22 feet).


River watch – Call for sand baggers.

Call City Hall Flood Hotline 887-6202 (24/7) for current active locations that need baggers. Bring gloves and shovel if you have them.

Not about oil (except when it is).

May 02, 2008 in Energy, Foreign Policy, Iraq

John McCain let the cat out of the bag a little bit today in Denver:

“My friends, I will have an energy policy that we will be talking about, which will eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East,” McCain told a crowd of 300 at a Jewish Community Center in Denver.

“That will prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East.”

Ignoring the obvious implications of the above statement for a moment I think that it needs to be pointed out that John McCain currently has no sensible energy policy to begin with, let alone “eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East”. But to just come right out and state a common sense observation like the above is very out of character for any politician, regardless of affiliation.

-mg

“This is going to be a two month war.”*

Apr 22, 2008 in Clueless Conservatives, Iraq

I watched this on C-Span when it was originally aired in 2005. It’s a televised debate between Daniel Ellsberg and William Kristol. The subject is Iraq. The intellectual divide between these two is even more obvious now than it was when I first saw it. In short, Kristol gets his ass handed to him in a high hat. Looking back, is there anything he was correct about?

-mg

*At around twenty-three minutes check out the look on Ellsberg’s face when Kristol makes this claim.

Brian Pickrell is still the stupidest man on the web.

Apr 15, 2008 in Clueless Conservatives, Iraq

It’s refreshing to note that some things never change. Sunshine, birds singing, the fine structure constant

On the other hand, some things never change, and they make you puke in your mouth. Case in point, Iowa’s village idiot, Brian Pickrell. After being caught red-handed lying and changing his blog’s name, and doing everything he can to keep dissenters off his site, he dares link to us again. Surprise, surprise, the material is so fucking stupid it burns like the trans-dimensional spiderwebs in Stephen King’s The Mist. Ace movie, btw, if you can get over the initial round of terrible special effects.

See, recently, main man Mike G put up a single sentence post noting that suicides among current and ex-military folks accounted for one-fifth of all suicides in 2005. The only comment was the title, “This is just awful.” Nothing else.

Cue Rightwing Detective Brian Pickrell, who uses his amazing skills of deduction to conclude that not many of the suicide victims were veterans of the current Iraq war/occupation. Why is that relevant? Because, “Now, if you read that (article) and thought, like the hippies did, that this is connected to the Iraq War, you’re wrong.”

Again, the original post said nothing about Iraq. You can see we’re dealing with a real rocket-scientist here.

But this is interesting:

One age group stood out. Veterans aged 20 through 24, those who have served during the war on terror. They had the highest suicide rate among all veterans, estimated between two and four times higher than civilians the same age. (The suicide rate for non-veterans is 8.3 per 100,000, while the rate for veterans was found to be between 22.9 and 31.9 per 100,000.)

No, Brian never bothered looking up how hard suicide was hitting Iraq veterans. Naw, he had to devolve into a rather ironic rant, featuring this genius line:

They care (about the troops) so much, you know, that they have to lie about them being depressed and suicidal.

Indeed. You know that feeling you get when you try to correct a kid’s math, and you say, “No, 12 minus 3 isn’t 8,” and they say, “Yes, it is!” looking at you like you’re stupid?

This is every day one attempts to deal with Brian Pickrell.

You have to waste time peeling back his misinformation, which is far worse than trying to teach somebody who simply doesn’t know. You have to reinforce obvious things most people know, things Brian-types have driven out of their heads, like how Vietnam veterans weren’t given such hot treatment either. The high suicide rates of ex-military give just as much cause for concern as current military. Real concern, not sucking Petraeus’ schlong, or giving the appropriate amount of lip service to the troops so Brian can feel brave about sending them off to get blown up for his fat fighting keyboardist ass. People who do care about those in the military presumably don’t want them descending into such misery they end their lives early, but Brian only sees a prime opportunity to make some stupid partisan point. Whatever happens to the soldiers after they come back ain’t his goddamn problem. With friends like him, soldiers don’t need enemies, but they’ll be guaranteed an endless supply, with nobody around to care if they do happen to make it back.

Brian Pickrell is still the stupidest man on the web. Not merely an idiot, he’s somebody convinced he’s equipped with knowledge, without any of the tools to gauge his limitations. And you know what Clint Eastwood said

-jb

The cornucopia of Michael Gerson’s idiocy never endeth.

Apr 10, 2008 in Iraq

Presidential elections in times of war come down to strong vs. weak. McCain is “strong” no matter what mistakes he makes because he wants to keep fighting forever, and he’s John McCain. Even when Obama wants to do something “strong,” which also has the benefit of being intelligent and practical, it’s not strong because he’s Barack Obama.

…Obama promises to personally negotiate with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Iran’s destabilizing support and training of Shiite militias. What might seem a bold strategic maneuver from a Nixon or Kissinger smacks of dangerous naivete from a fourth-year senator.

Yeah, that dangerous naivete which would have kept us from going into Iraq in the first place.

Of course, Gerson was a Bush speechwriter who remains firm that Bush was the right choice in ’04. Strong and stupid is always better than using any degree of intelligence in fighting or ending a war. What’s important is that you swear your dick (or vagina) is so big you can keep fighting the war forever, even though you’re sticking the bill on the national credit card while the armed forces crumble.

Otherwise, Michael Gerson, who will certainly pay no personal price for endless war, might not be able to nestle his soft cheeks into his satin pillow comfortably enough.

-jb

UPDATE: Heh…here’s Gerson:

Second, Obama advocates a specific timetable for the withdrawal of American combat troops to pressure the Iraqi government to take its responsibilities more seriously…But it seems increasingly unfair to denigrate the efforts of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government, which has moved forward on 12 of 18 benchmarks set by Congress and has recently engaged Shiite militias in a fight the United States has been demanding.

Here’s what Maliki thinks:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki disagreed with Petraeus’ proposal to delay further U.S. troop withdrawals, citing the growing capabilities of Iraq’s own security forces.

Petraeus wants the U.S. to complete by the end of July the withdrawal of the 20,000 troops that were sent to Iraq last year, leaving about 140,000 in the country. Beyond that, the general proposed a 45-day evaluation period to be followed by an indefinite period of assessment before any further pullouts.

Al-Maliki, however, has said he disagrees with that decision.

The prime minister told Bush during a 20-minute telephone conversation on Wednesday that Iraqi security forces are capable of carrying out their duties and U.S. troops should be pulled out as the situation permits, according to a senior government adviser who sat in on the phone conversation.

Ah, but if we listen to the Iraqis when they tell us we’re free to go, we’re weak. Unless McCain does it, then it might be strong. But if it’s Obama, that shit is weak!

Of course, the Confederacy is dead, isn’t it?

Apr 09, 2008 in Iraq

It seems ridiculous, but maybe it’s a Freudian slip?

I can’t believe I am wasting 15 seconds of my life to type this, but having military bases in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina does not constitute a permanent occupation. Does RedState really believe that 140 years after the Civil War, American troops have a “peace time standing presence” in the American south?

What’s stopping violent revolt in the South? They’ve only been quelled because of an electoral voting block that has refused to give any non-Southern Democrat a chance, a block that non-Southern Republicans know to duly obey. Why? Because they’re still pissed about the Civil Rights Act of 1963. Because they’re still held in thrall of the Southern Baptist church. Because culture and elite profit always superseded the Constitution. What happens if they suddenly stop getting their way? At some point it must happen, and indeed since the advent of Howard Dean, Markos Moulitsas and the 50-state strategy, the red states have become increasingly purple. Could the failure of a political coup spanning 40+ years spur the radicalization of Confederate Flag-wearing secessionist elements?

Nah, but one thing’s for sure: There’s no defending McCain’s nitwit comments about spending 100-10,000 years in Iraq. Unless, of course, one actually does support staying over there that long, regardless of the levels of violence. Which pretty much is the position of the Republican base. Have we received a clarification telling us how many decades of violence would be the limit? Of course not. We can be in the exact same position 100 years from now, and John McCain’s rhetoric will remain just as applicable. “Honor, duty, it’ll be worse if we leave cuz I sez so, blah, blah, blah…” The Republican base is completely cool with it. They’re just pissed and scared because their actual position is untenable in the 2008 election. They have no choice but to lie desperately.

The implications of McCain’s comments just get worse every other way you look at it. If he believes an American army can ever occupy Iraq without sustaining casualties, then it’s further evidence of how little he really understands the dynamics of Iraq, and he’s just an old battle-horse who’s re-fighting Vietnam because he’s convinced that if maybe fifty-thousand more US troops and a few more million Indochinese were killed we would have “won.” And if one believes we could ever occupy Iraq as peacefully as we can have bases in South Korea or Germany, then, as TPM notes Rick Hertzberg saying in The New Yorker:

But what the context shows, I think, is that yanking that sound bite out of context isn’t really all that unfair. McCain’s wants to stay in Iraq until no more Americans are getting killed, no matter how long it takes and how many Americans get killed achieving that goal—that is, the goal of not getting any more Americans killed. And once that goal is achieved, we’ll stay.

And if the violence erupts again after another twenty years…back to square one. Unfortunately, “square one” suggests a “last” square, and there is none. McCain has no answer but an endlessly repeating loop, one that he won’t need to solve in his 4-8 years.

It took the country until around the time of “The Surge” to realize that George W. Bush had essentially given up on finding any way out of Iraq. Are we really going to elect a fresh (bit of a stretch applying this term to McCain) president who’s given up before setting foot in the Oval Office?

-jb

American Turing Machine

Jan 13, 2008 in Iraq

I’m so glad this story appeared in the New York Times. That means I don’t have to read it; or, if I choose to read it, I can do so knowing that its content is only fodder for some armchair debunking. Maybe I’ll spend my Monday morning hunting down the mental health records of some of the 121 Iraq war veterans who’ve committed murders since returning home; maybe I’ll hunt down some evidence of liberal bias on the part of the reporter. Either way, the Times is liberal! So I won’t be bothered by this story; it’s not even a story. It’s just propaganda, and I can sleep soundly knowing that none of the facts alleged in it need affect me, nor sadden me, nor even give me pause. Because the story ran in the Times, and they’re the bad guys. The 121 shattered American lives the story references are not as important to me as knowing where I stand, and staying on the right side of the line.
Ideology, man. It’s a wonderful thing!

-TT

Why do they hate America so much?

Nov 26, 2007 in Iraq, Middle East, Politics

These things happen when you have a functioning democracy:

Australia’s new prime minister Kevin Rudd will mark his arrival on the international stage by announcing the withdrawal of his country’s combat troops from Iraq and signing the Kyoto treaty on climate change.

Back in ’03, John Howard was censured by the Senate for misleading the public in regards to the rationale for invading Iraq.  That’s another frequently overlooked aspect of democracy; accountability.

-mg

3D modeling of Bush-size dollars.

Oct 26, 2007 in Iraq

Terrific graphic, just click and check it out. It seems it would be cheaper if we built Iraqi schools out of stacked dollar bills. Original link here is better, actually.

$35 billion for children’s health insurance buys a lot for very little. Bush buys very little for a lot.

-jb

Bush doesn’t do definitions.

Oct 24, 2007 in Iraq

Don’t ask him what torture is.

Don’t ask him to define sovereignty.
[youtube BsLvQ-smq4k]

We understand how torture has played out so far, but what keeps getting overlooked is Iraq’s sovereignty. What happens when Iraq’s government asserts it?

BAGHDAD (AFP) – The Iraqi government announced on Wednesday that it has decided to formally revoke the immunity from prosecution granted to private security companies operating in the war-ravaged country.

If Iraq’s government can drive out Blackwater, then won’t it be strong enough to defend itself? In that case, I suggest we start thinking about the insane possibility of withdrawal. Bush knows how to define that, though. “You’re yelling SURRENDER!” Some Democrats wet their pants because they think voters can still be fooled by Bush. Bush doesn’t hardly believe it himself, but he’ll cry and fuss anyway, long after he’s out of office. The bullshit will be forever seeped in his brain, and he’ll continue leading Republicans long after retiring from office, without ever having understood the world around him, ever dreaming of that $30 trillion of oil underneath Iraq staying in America’s hands.

-jb

What’s that word I’m trying to think of?

Oct 07, 2007 in Iraq

Oh yeah…boondoggle!

The massive U.S. embassy under construction in Baghdad could cost $144 million more than projected and will open months behind schedule because of poor planning, shoddy workmanship, internal disputes and last-minute changes sought by State Department officials, according to U.S. officials and a department document provided to Congress.

The embassy, which will be the largest U.S. diplomatic mission in the world, was budgeted at $592 million. The core project was supposed to have been completed by last month, but the timetable has slipped so much that the State Department has sought and received permission from the Iraqi government to allow about 2,000 non-Iraqi construction employees to stay in the country until March.

I’m excited to see what kind of a building three quarters of a billion dollars gets you.

From a strategic standpoint, as long as there’s sectarian violence in Iraq there wont be a strong, unified, anti-occupation movement but I suppose the embassy will make a nice Presidential Palace when the Iraqis finally do chase us out of there.

-mg

Grunts always get the shit end of the stick.

Oct 05, 2007 in Iraq

Several years ago, the GOP employed soldier worship (“Support the Troops!”) in order to facilitate agreement with their policies. “The Troops” were actually Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. Soldiers themselves got nothing but some extra social popularity to compensate for the regular punches to the face like extended multiple tours, poor medical treatment, and missing benefits. The following should be unsurprising to anyone:

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (NBC) — When they came home from Iraq, 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard had been deployed longer than any other ground combat unit. The tour lasted 22 months and had been extended as part of President Bush’s surge.

1st Lt. Jon Anderson said he never expected to come home to this: A government refusing to pay education benefits he says he should have earned under the GI bill.

“It’s pretty much a slap in the face,” Anderson said. “I think it was a scheme to save money, personally. I think it was a leadership failure by the senior Washington leadership… once again failing the soldiers.”

Anderson’s orders, and the orders of 1,161 other Minnesota guard members, were written for 729 days.

Had they been written for 730 days, just one day more, the soldiers would receive those benefits to pay for school.

“Which would be allowing the soldiers an extra $500 to $800 a month,” Anderson said.

That money would help him pay for his master’s degree in public administration. It would help Anderson’s fellow platoon leader, John Hobot, pay for a degree in law enforcement.

Obviously that wouldn’t serve the public interest. The military taught Anderson a can-do attitude, not to sit around waiting for government handouts!

Pretty cheap, giving a soldier a slap on the back in trade for cutting money on benefits, getting more time out of them, and being able to milk them for political propaganda against those who oppose a blundering policy.

-jb

33% of America is just plain gone.

Oct 02, 2007 in Iraq, Politics

From the WaPo article Mike just cited:

Overall, 55 percent of Americans want congressional Democrats to do more to challenge the president’s Iraq policies, while a third think the Democrats have gone too far.

They’ve given him everything he’s wanted so far. But they didn’t scream, “Yes, Great Leader, your word must be followed!” while they did it. Sorry, Democrats, you’ll just have to do a little more triangulating to get those folks on your side.

-jb

Quick save for Hillary.

Oct 02, 2007 in Disappointing Dems, Iraq, Media, Politics

Hillary Clinton voted yes on the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which, if/when Bush attacks Iran like the psychotic idiot he is, would be seen as her second vote enabling Bush’s warmongering. That would be a fatal move if Bush did anything before the Democratic primaries, and at least devastating to her campaign if she sealed the nomination, cementing herself as a bumbling triangulator running the ball into the Democratic endzone trying to look “tough.”

Fortunately, Hillary is a pretty sharp knife and realized the error, signing onto Jim Webb’s measure zipping shut the Congressional purse for any attacks on Iran. It’s a little late, but this measure is binding whereas the Kyl-Lieberman one was not.

On the other hand, the Kyl-Lieberman one was a joke, and Lieberman’s name being on it was all she should have needed to see the stupidity in voting for it. Moves like this expose the fault lines in Hillary’s approach and her intellect, and underscore the difficulty many Democrats have trusting her in office. Yes, she’s going to be the most centrist President of the candidates, but will she do it with some degree of intelligence and underlying vision, or is she going to end up staying in Iraq just to show us tits don’t make you a softie?

Look back on your life, and the women you’ve encountered throughout it, whether they be mothers, relatives, teachers, employers, co-workers, etc.. Don’t you certainly have enough memories of iron-haired iron-hearted women who held no mercy in their hearts? Does anybody really believe that a woman is inherently some meek fuzzy-tailed doe? Has nobody ever fled to a man to escape the fiery wrath of a woman?

Can our media fucking grow up so Hillary doesn’t have to keep trying to look “tough”?

Could she grow up, instead of making these quick face-saving maneuvers?

-jb

Reassuring thought of the day.

Oct 02, 2007 in Iraq, Politics

Erik Prince, CEO of the mercenary corporation Blackwater, is a proud member of a psycho-Christian Republican family. The family’s other big project? The gay-hating Family Research Council.

What’s better than mercenaries? Crazy Christian gay-hating mercenaries! Fortunately it’s just a coincidence Bush would employ these good fellerz…

-jb

Rush Limbaugh fails to bow at the altar of the American military.

Sep 28, 2007 in Iraq, Politics

Did you hear? American soldiers are saints who cannot be criticized or vilified in any way…

…unless you’re a Republican.

Right after the phony Petraeus outrage over one general being critized for being dishonest with the American people, Limbaugh turns around and actually insults scores of soldiers, calling the 72% of soldiers who have fought in and seen the futility of this war “phony soldiers.”

Is there anybody who can actually believe a word coming from the right nowadays? Sure, there are the chickenshit Dems who cower before the bluster, afraid voters will believe it, but who actually believes it?

I mean besides the 30% of hardcore rightwingers who sit around screaming “We’ve got to fight them over there or else we’ll be fighting them here, you don’t want another 9/11 do you!?!?!?!” They’re fucking nuts, and not too many of them are actual soldiers. Most are just fat lumps of shit like Limbaugh who always have good reasons why they shouldn’t be doing any fighting, but somebody else must. Those soldiers who want the war to end aren’t phony, but a good chunk of the Republican Party are straight-up dishonest scumbags who would have no better response to that charge than to scream and cry over my language. Because they’re scumbags.

-jb

Why can’t Democrats stop the war?

Sep 26, 2007 in Iraq, Politics

To put it precisely:

The Democrats in Congress could end the war by refusing to pass any further funding bills for the military. The executive branch could do whatever it wanted with the residual military funding that was still in the pipeline. They could bring the troops home, or desert the troops in the field. It would be Bush’s choice. The problem is that most people (Democrats in Congress included) are convinced that Bush is crazy enough to actually harm the troops, rather than accept personal defeat.

If there is a single person in America who doesn’t believe Bush would let the troops rot and point the finger at Democrats, they’ve certainly failed to speak up. Everybody knows he would, yet everybody knows this would not be the media narrative. President Bush and 40+ Republican zealots in the Senate hold all the responsibility here. 100%. I’m open to theories that might knock a percent or two off that, but I haven’t heard any.

-jb

UPDATE: Republicans still own this war, but there’s a case to be made for trying anyway-

Oh? You say you’ll be accused of “not supporting the troops”? Was your tongue cut out of your mouth? The Dems were elected to be leaders and take the heat, and end the war, not to whine about expected attack ads. Yes, the attacks will come but they’re not kryptonite. You can counter that it’s not exactly “supporting the troops” to fund their being shot and blown up in a pointless civil war whose outcome does not concern us. If you can’t rebut the attacks you don’t belong in politics.

Yes, but there are at least 20+ chickenshit Democrats in the Senate who just melted like candles over the “General Betrayus,” unable to admit the simple fact that Petraeus did indeed, by being loyal to Bush, betray the American people. And those Democrats should face primary challenges. But the Republicans still own this war.

Bush isn’t qualified to handle Iraq.

Sep 21, 2007 in Iraq, Politics

Well, he was never qualified to be President in the first place, but his weaknesses turn Iraq into Kryptonite for him, Sidney Blumenthal says:

Bush’s unyielding personality would have been best suited to the endless trench warfare of World War I, as a true compatriot of the disastrous British Gen. Douglas Haig. His mind is geared toward a static battlefield. For low-intensity warfare, such as in Iraq, “an authoritarian cast of mind would be a crippling disability,” wrote British expert Norman F. Dixon in his classic work, “On the Psychology of Military Incompetence.” “For such ‘warfare,’ tact, flexibility, imagination and ‘open minds,’ the very antithesis of authoritarian traits, would seem to be necessary if not sufficient.”

There are many words to describe Bush’s shocking ineptitude and his many failures. With Iraq, one damning word floats to the top: useless. He’s a pair of wings on a bicycle. He’s never understood the country he went to war with, and he’s been able to contribute almost nothing worthwhile in four years to the waging of it. When he has an effect, it’s to bungle things even more. His one big idea, the adding of an extra 30,000 troops to turn a drastically undersized army into badly undersized army, has been a flop. There’s an argument that if he can merely keep things at a stalemate for the remainder of his term, it’s better than we could expect to hope from him. Utterly unfit for the job, he’s best consigned to the role of the old whore cheerleading the local dive’s baseball team.

-jb

The wrong way to throw money at a problem.

Sep 19, 2007 in Foreign Policy, Iraq

Smug talk from the wingers about redrawing the Iraq map into three distinct ethnic enclaves might come to fruition, but not because of any of their designs:

In Baghdad alone, nearly a million people have fled their homes.

Last month saw the sharpest rise so far in the numbers of Iraqis forced to abandon their homes – 71.1%.

The forced migration raises questions about claims from the Bush administration that the civilian protection plan at the core of its war strategy is making Iraq safer for Iraqis.

Instead, data compiled by Red Crescent staff and volunteers in Iraq’s 18 provinces suggests many Iraqis have failed to find real safety or sustainable living conditions after being forced to leave their homes. Some families have been uprooted twice or even three times in search of safety, affordable housing, functioning water and electricity, adequate schools, and jobs.

Is it safe to assume that Iraqi citizens want to live in neighborhoods with at least electricity and running water? Isn’t it reasonable to expect that the billions of tax dollars we’re pumping into KBR and Halliburton remedy these issues?

We have a moral obligation to provide a stable environment in which Iraqi civilians and their families can carry out activities of daily living. Only when regular citizens can call a place home will they have a vested interest in their neighborhoods and therefore a reason to be concerned about local issues like crime and violence. But if the water or lights don’t even turn on, why bother? Because the guy who was responsible for the work is nine time zones away and doesn’t give a shit whether it works or not.

After the invasion, American firms were handed no-bid contracts regardless of the cost or whether or not local companies were willing and able to do the work. Granted, the projects that they volunteered for were far from modest but at this point in time it is obvious that they are unable to complete the task which was their charge. I say take the money we have now and start accepting bids from local Iraqi contractors. At least then the locals will have a sense of ownership and pride in their own works. A sense of ownership will also foster broader of community networks that are established when local vendors, companies and entrepreneurs serve local citizen consumers.

-mg

What’s not to love about Blackwater?

Sep 18, 2007 in Iraq

I know this will come as a huge surprise to some:

“We see the security firms … doing whatever they want in the streets. They (the security firms’ personnel) beat citizens and scorn them,” Baghdad resident Halim Mashkoor told AP Television News. “I ask one question: If such a thing happened in America or Britain, would the American president or American citizens accept it?”

Newspaper headlines touted the move and called for more action.

“Demands escalate to put a limit on the influence of special security companies,” the Iraqi newspaper Azzaman said on its front page.

The presence of so many visible, aggressive Western security contractors has angered many Iraqis, who consider them a mercenary force that runs roughshod over people in their own country.

Those that insist that things are just fine and dandy in Iraq fail to understand how roving bands of heavily armed private militias might be perceived by the local population, let alone a foreign occupying army. And regardless of our own personal delusions, Iraqis have no doubts as to why we are there and what lengths we will go to maintain that continued presence.

Sooner or later we’re going to get run out of Iraq because ultimately, the decision as to whether or not we stay or go wont be made by fools like Bill Kristol or Hugh Hewitt. It will be made by men like Halim Mashkoor.

-mg

Scientific polling vs. agenda-laden denial.

Sep 15, 2007 in Iraq, Middle East, Politics

The latest British study daring to use transparent scientific polling in Iraq finds that over 1 million Iraqis have died due to the Bush/GOP war:

According to the ORB poll, a survey of 1,461 adults suggested that the total number slain during more than four years of war was more than 1.2 million.

ORB said it drew its conclusion from responses to the question about those living under one roof: “How many members of your household, if any, have died as a result of the conflict in Iraq since 2003?”

Based on Iraq’s estimated number of households — 4,050,597 — it said the 1.2 million figure was reasonable.

There was no way to verify the number, because the government does not provide a full count of civilian deaths. Neither does the U.S. military.

Both, however, say that independent organizations greatly exaggerate estimates of civilian casualties.

ORB said its poll had a margin of error of 2.4%. According to its findings, nearly one in two households in Baghdad had lost at least one member to war- related violence, and 22% of households nationwide had suffered at least one death. It said 48% of the victims were shot to death and 20% died as a result of car bombs, with other explosions and military bombardments blamed for most of the other fatalities.

The government and military do not provide full counts and do not reveal their methodology. When leaks about their methodology come out, we find out they’re jury-rigging the numbers. And, of course, it’s the Bush administration and its military, neither disinterested. But let’s believe them, because the alternative is accepting the murderous scale of this war.

Most people who reject these numbers will do so automatically. The methodology has nothing to do with it, for most certainly didn’t take statistics or understand objective polling (though, as usual, there will be no shortage of rightwing bloggers putting on their thinking caps and acting like experts, with the usual pathetic results). I’d say it’s a good question to ask how they accounted for the less-violent Kurdish region, but I’d also say wait for an answer first. Chances are such an elementary question might have already been considered, no?

And I’d also say, what if you managed to unearth that the number was only 800,000? Or the 600,000 estimate last year (a 50% margin of error vs. 2.4%, could you really believe that)? That number was certainly too much for pro-war types to handle.

Or, rather, Republicans care little about the numbers, but share the Bush administration and military’s concern for how the numbers look to non-Kool-Aid drinkers. 1.2 million dead? A PR problem, no more.

-jb

Chickenshit Dems can only be blamed for so much.

Sep 14, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Disappointing Dems, Iraq, Politics

Most Democrats have been disappointed to read stories about overly cautious Democratic politicians who seem to be unaware that there is popular support for opposing George W. Bush’s policies. Bush is an extremely unpopular and disliked president, and the majority of the country is against him on virtually every aspect of the Iraq clusterfuck. Yes, Democrats are not always of one mind, but giving in on anything to Bush at this point is grounds for a primary challenge. Lieberman was famous (and dishonest) enough to override a primary loss, but not many Democrats will feel so secure.

Still, David Kurtz watched Bush’s speech, looked at poll numbers, and calculated what the real score is:

Given the immovable numbers, it’s all the more apparent that the target audience this week has not been voters but congressional Republicans. They are the key to President Bush being able to continue a terribly unpopular war until he leaves office. So long as they stand by him, he can maintain his grip on Iraq policy in the face of longstanding and deep public dissatisfaction.

The Democrats could march in lockstep as firmly as the Republicans to no avail. As long as the Republicans stick together and don’t fear losing office, Bush can keep it up. All they have to do is maintain 40 votes in the Senate, or if they can’t do that, prevent a veto-overriding coalition of 67.

The buck stops at the American voter. Until voters really want, en masse, to get out of Iraq, Bush can keep enacting his ego as foreign policy. And if they can’t sufficiently threaten Republican congressmen with defeat, there’s little for them to do until November 2008.

Bush seemingly assures us the choice in 2008 will be simple: end the war, or four more years of the war. It may not be so. If there is a war with Iran, a Democrat may enter office in the midst of catastrophe. Would Bush rig the game so? He’s already committed to passing on the Iraq problem to the next president, because when George W. Bush fails, somebody else bails him out. He’s lived his whole life that way, why change now? The war will continue for the next year and a half so George W. can pass the buck. It’s impossible to deny.

Yet we cannot just blame him either. Once again, all is made possible by the continuing devotion of the GOP faithful. And I think by the time it’s November 2008, that needs to be clear in the minds of the remaining 60-70% of Americans. The chickenshit Democrat is an obstacle easily overcome. Let’s knock some sense into them or boot them out in the primaries, and Americans will only have one group to blame for Iraq in the voting booth.

-jb

Eh, who cares?

Sep 12, 2007 in Iraq, Uncategorized

For all of the strident talk about the flowering of freedom and democracy in the once-again fertile lands of Mesopotamia, few seek (or give a shit about) the opinions of actual Iraqis. One would think that a news media as obsessed with polling as ours would at least take ten seconds out of the their day to ask a few working stiffs on the streets of Baghdad what their impressions were.  In their defense I will say that you probably don’t see too many regular Iraqis waiting in line at the Green Zone Starbucks so the opportunities are likely limited.  Once in a while, however, we sometimes get a brief glimpse.

And not that it matters to the Democracy in Iraq:  FUCK YEAH! bloggers but an overwhelming majority of Iraqis feel that the surge has failed them.  What really matters is how the Freepers feel things are going in Iraq.

– mg

Petraeus’ credibility has been utterly destroyed.

Sep 10, 2007 in Iraq, Politics

I said many months ago that September would bring nothing new. Virtually anybody paying attention who wasn’t one of the mouth-breathing 29% knew the same. The “surge” was a buzzword in the form of a delay tactic. Petraeus was a highly competent man who nevertheless had a familiar choice of sticking to the White House’s story or getting sacked. There could have been no doubt what he would say come time, or at least what WH-doctored piece of toilet paper he’d sign his name to.

Petraeus was never anything more than the best man to dictate the action on the ground. Beyond that, he was pure smoke and mirrors. He couldn’t reverse bad policy. He couldn’t patch together a broken country. All he could do was provide a bulletin board for neocons to pin their wishes to, and for the press to accordingly worship. And as it turns out, doctoring the numbers to exclude vast numbers of murders aside, he could do little to stem the tide of violence in Iraq. The surge did the only thing it could have realistically been expected to do: stall, stall the press, stall Congress (Democrats, that is, most Republicans understand this is a permanent occupation).

Now Petraeus’ pre-ordained message will be expected to prolong the delaying effect of the temporary band-aid-on-a-bleeding-stump “surge” (look forward to a new catchphrase to be thrown to the press if their patience sags). April is the point where the military simply cannot sustain the numbers anymore, so Bush can reasonably expect to keep telling the “wait and see!” story til then. Of course, April will bring nothing new. Then Bush needs a mere 8-9 more months before his term is over. He’s likely to be able to ride it out through sheer belligerence. Petraeus may be worth a few more press conferences because the press will insist on taking him seriously despite the fact that few in the public care what he has to say.

Given the indisputable truth that Petraeus’ words are reliably destined to be whatever the depraved George W. Bush wants them to be, they have no value of their own. It’s unfortunate that he declined to limit his job to the streets of Iraq. He’s chosen to sacrifice his reputation, yet seems unlikely to seek to reclaim it after the fact ala Colin Powell. He is presented with almost no option but to spend the rest of his days looking for approval from the Faux News crowd. It’s plentiful, it’s noisy, and it runs freely as long as one is dutifully loyal to the Great Leader. The right will concoct their alternative truthy histories, and hope to gain territory if Iraq ever becomes a distant memory. Petraeus has signed on to inflicting ever more dishonesty upon Americans.

What a sad fate, for all of us.

-jb

UPDATE: Whoa, Petraeus asks for another full year…again, it means nothing considering Bush clearly wants more. It’s just ballsier than I expected and somewhat difficult to imagine how the Coca Cola Surge could logistically continue past April. It’s hard to see how the Army itself will be able to hold up past then.

Arab facade.

Sep 05, 2007 in Iraq

What was I saying about Maliki being our “local Mohammedan“?

“[Maliki’s] learning to be a leader. And one of my jobs as the president and his ally is to help him be that leader without being patronizing. At some point in time, if I come to the conclusion that he can’t be the leader—he’s unwilling to lead or he’s deceptive—then we’ll change course. But I haven’t come to that conclusion. As a matter of fact, his recent actions have inspired me.”

I can appreciate Bush’s honesty when it comes to his flip attitude towards pithy concerns like democracy and representative government.  If only the online devoted could be as candid.

-mg

Totalitarian shenanigans.

Aug 28, 2007 in Constitution, Iraq, Politics

This is the logical progression of Bush’s policies. The whole article is essential reading, but this story stands above the usual corruption:

One after another, the men and women who have stepped forward to report corruption in the massive effort to rebuild Iraq have been vilified, fired and demoted.

Or worse.

For daring to report illegal arms sales, Navy veteran Donald Vance says he was imprisoned by the American military in a security compound outside Baghdad and subjected to harsh interrogation methods.

There were times, huddled on the floor in solitary confinement with that head-banging music blaring dawn to dusk and interrogators yelling the same questions over and over, that Vance began to wish he had just kept his mouth shut.

He had thought he was doing a good and noble thing when he started telling the FBI about the guns and the land mines and the rocket-launchers – all of them being sold for cash, no receipts necessary, he said. He told a federal agent the buyers were Iraqi insurgents, American soldiers, State Department workers, and Iraqi embassy and ministry employees.

The seller, he claimed, was the Iraqi-owned company he worked for, Shield Group Security Co.

“It was a Wal-Mart (nyse: WMT – news – people ) for guns,” he says. “It was all illegal and everyone knew it.”

So Vance says he blew the whistle, supplying photos and documents and other intelligence to an FBI agent in his hometown of Chicago because he didn’t know whom to trust in Iraq.

For his trouble, he says, he got 97 days in Camp Cropper, an American military prison outside Baghdad that once held Saddam Hussein, and he was classified a security detainee.

Also held was colleague Nathan Ertel, who helped Vance gather evidence documenting the sales, according to a federal lawsuit both have filed in Chicago, alleging they were illegally imprisoned and subjected to physical and mental interrogation tactics “reserved for terrorists and so-called enemy combatants.”

A Special Forces team went to the trouble to rescue them first in order to torture them:

According to their suit, Vance and Ertel gathered photographs and documents, which Vance fed to Chicago FBI agent Travis Carlisle for six months beginning in October 2005. Carlisle, reached by phone at Chicago’s FBI field office, declined comment. An agency spokesman also would not comment.

The Iraqi company has since disbanded, according the suit.

Vance said things went terribly wrong in April 2006, when he and Ertel were stripped of their security passes and confined to the company compound.

Panicking, Vance said, he called the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, where hostage experts got on the phone and told him “you’re about to be kidnapped. Lock yourself in a room with all the weapons you can get your hands on.'”

The military sent a Special Forces team to rescue them, Vance said, and the two men showed the soldiers where the weapons caches were stored. At the embassy, the men were debriefed and allowed to sleep for a few hours. “I thought I was among friends,” Vance said.

The men said they were cuffed and hooded and driven to Camp Cropper, where Vance was held for nearly three months and his colleague for a little more than a month. Eventually, their jailers said they were being held as security internees because their employer was suspected of selling weapons to terrorists and insurgents, the lawsuit said.

The prisoners said they repeatedly told interrogators to contact Carlisle in Chicago. “One set of interrogators told us that Travis Carlisle doesn’t exist. Then some others would say, ‘He says he doesn’t know who you are,'” Vance said.

Let’s see, what should the rightwinger response to this be? What would come out after they hummed the Jeopardy tune in their head for a few seconds, trying to figure out a way the treatment of this Navy veteran was justified.

Well, first of all, they’ll have to do anything they can to character assassinate this guy. Veteran, schmeteran. Sometime, somewhere, a superior officer criticized him (I hear that happens in the military). Secondly, reinforce the military’s rationale: Claim this whistleblower really was in on the deal; surely somebody can tie him to some of the dirty sales. If not, insinuate it anyway via anonymous sources. For the cherry on the cheesecake, check his voting record. Has he ever given money to a Democrat running for office? If so, he’s toast, because that would explain everything.

Please let me know if you hear a winger trying any of these tactics. It will happen, because this is such an obvious affront to what kind of a country we identify ourselves as. This doesn’t represent George Washington’s America, it represents George W. Bush’s America. Power rules, the truth must be punished. The GOP base, still in love with Bush despite their noise, still believes he’s the presidential incarnation of Jack Bauer, breaking the rules for the “greater good,” all because he wants to “keep us safe.” They entirely approve of everything done here, even if the men were physically tortured.

Unfortunately, this is the kind of story that makes those outside the Cult of Bush ill, and so it cannot be allowed to stand as is. The good Christians of the base cannot brag of torturing whistleblowers openly. They even need to make excuses for themselves, else their consciences threaten to stir. But deep down, their feelings towards Donald Vance (and his co-whistleblower, Nathan Ertel) are simple to sum up: “Fuck you, you should have kept your mouth shut.”

-jb

Sacrifice.

Aug 25, 2007 in Iraq

Jason Hubbard will be returning home after his brother Nathan, 21, died in a helicopter crash in Iraq. Being the family’s last surviving son he’s covered under the Army’s “sole survivor” policy.  His sibling Jared Hubbard was killed by a roadside bomb in 2004.  Unbelievable.

-mg

Iraq facade.

Aug 24, 2007 in Foreign Policy, Glenn Greenwald, Iraq, Middle East

Following the First World War, the British replaced the Turks as the rulers of Iraq. Under the direction of General Stanley Maude, British forces occupied the country and faced anti-imperialist agitation from the start. Despite Maude’s claim that “Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators”, revolts against foreign rule became widespread. As a result, Lord Curzon, the then current British foreign secretary, made the suggestion of an “Arab facade”. He defined it as a:

“facade ruled and administered under British guidance and controlled by a native Mohammedan and, as far as possible, by an Arab staff . . . There should be no actual incorporation of the conquered territory in the dominions of the conqueror, but the absorption may be veiled by such constitutional fictions as a protectorate, a sphere of influence, a buffer state and so on”

Fast forward to the Iraq of today it’s difficult to note any meaningful differences. Those who champion a free and democratic Iraq will in the same breath speak of the convenient replacement of elected leaders. Nuri al-Maliki currently finds himself in that situation. With little to no control over the security forces under his charge, al-Maliki has become the convenient fall-guy. As Glenn Greenwald points out:

Fred Hiatt turned his Op-Ed page over to Allawi two weeks ago to argue — in the most establishment-pleasing tones — that “Responsibility for the current mess in Iraq rests primarily with the Iraqi government” and that “Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has failed to take advantage of the Iraqi people’s desire for peaceful and productive lives and of the enormous commitment and sacrifices made by the United States and other nations.” In other words, our wise Washington Leaders have done the Right and Good thing in Iraq, but that scoundrel Maliki is the key impediment preventing Success.

Enter Iyad Allawi as our new “native Mohammedan” who currently has the convenient backing of the most powerful GOP lobbying firm in the country. He’s got a lot of things going for him. He’s demonstrated his obedience to Washington for upwards of twenty years and, more importantly I think, he’s providing this administration with an opportunity to stall on promises of a troop draw-down because you “don’t change horses mid-stream” when we’re “turning a corner” on a “new ray of hope for Iraq” or whatever sound bite you like. It also provides a good excuse to ignore the much anticipated and vaunted report by General Petraeus.

-mg

Why does the 82nd Airborne hate America?

Aug 20, 2007 in Iraq

News from the ground:

Viewed from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.

The original article is here and it is a must read.

-mg

The nail in the casket.

Jul 30, 2007 in Iraq, Middle East, Politics, Uncategorized, War on Terra

In the ideal world, the last US citizen to believe in Bush’s foreign policy “strength” just turned their back and vomited:

Saudis’ Role in Iraq Frustrates U.S. Officials — NYT, July 28

Bush administration officials are voicing increasing anger at what they say has been Saudi Arabia’s counterproductive role in the Iraq war. They say that beyond regarding Mr. Maliki as an Iranian agent, the Saudis have offered financial support to Sunni groups in Iraq. Of an estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq each month, American military and intelligence officials say that nearly half are coming from Saudi Arabia and that the Saudis have not done enough to stem the flow.

U.S. Set to Offer Huge Arms Deal to Saudi Arabia — NYT, July 29

In talks about the package, the administration has not sought specific assurances from Saudi Arabia that it would be more supportive of the American effort in Iraq as a condition of receiving the arms package, the officials said.

Bush’s foreign policy has been a perfect blend of the excited testosterone of a teenager fantasizing about war and the cynical bile of a corporate mummy entombed in the military industrial complex. Bogged down in Iraq, Bush still sells those fighting him weapons. If he’s learned the difference between Sunni and Shiite yet, it doesn’t show.

-jb

We invaded Iraq for the oil? No waaaaay!

Jul 28, 2007 in Chomsky, Iraq, Middle East, Politics

While the American people and the Iraqi people supported the Iraq War, their support was seen as something essential to the endeavor. America has turned against the war for some time now, and while Republican politicians are going to pay a heavy price, Bush can play chicken until he leaves office. The American public presents to the Bush administration, at best, a minor obstacle. The opinion of the Iraqi people? As soon as it was lost, it meant nothing. We are meant to believe that we did all of this for the democratic freedoms of the Iraq people, but if they don’t want to go along with it, they’re savages who don’t know what’s best for themselves.

Noam Chomsky is The Great Satan in the eyes of any Republican ground trooper. This isn’t because what he says is wrong, but because if all Americans listened to him and learned a thing or two, they’d be much harder to control. If they’d done it five years ago, nothing that has gone wrong in Iraq since would be a surprise. All the bullshit aside, Noam, why doesn’t public opinion matter?

U.S. polls show majority opposition to the war, but they receive limited attention and scarcely enter into policy planning, or even critique of planning. The most prominent recent critique was the report of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, widely acclaimed as a valuable critical corrective to the policies of the George W. Bush administration, which immediately dismissed the report to oblivion. One notable feature of the report is its lack of concern for the will of the Iraqi people. The report cites some of the polls of Iraqi sentiment, but only in regard to the safety of U.S. forces. The report’s implicit assumption is that policy should be designed for U.S. government interests, not those of Iraqis; or of Americans, also ignored.

The report makes no inquiry into those guiding interests, or why the United States invaded, or why it fears a sovereign and more or less democratic Iraq, though the answers are not hard to find. The real reason for the invasion, surely, is that Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world, very cheap to exploit, and is at the heart of the world’s major hydrocarbon resources. The issue is not access to those resources but control of them (and for the energy corporations, profit). As Vice President Dick Cheney observed last May (2006), control over energy resources provides “tools of intimidation or blackmail”—in the hands of others, that is.

In five hundred years, nobody will look back on this chapter in history and decide oil was anything less than the primary reason for the occupation of Iraq. So much propaganda has been purchased to persuade people that really, Iraq’s oil reserves were entirely coincidental, but nobody believes it. Who, the right? They’re very evasive about the subject, but prod one a little bit and you’ll hear, “Damn right it was about oil, all you damn hippies keep talking about the end of oil, who do you expect to do something about it when you can’t jump in your car and go to the multiplex?”

The American public isn’t trusted much more than the Iraqi public to know what is good for it. Dick Cheney is probably just as aware of peak oil as we are, Iraq is simply his answer.

-jb

Now it’s November.

Jul 23, 2007 in Iraq

The press simply cannot understand that September never meant anything. If they did, they’d understand that November doesn’t mean anything either, at least not this one. We’ll have to wait until next November’s elections for an “accountability moment” for Bush.

The No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq said yesterday that he needs at least until November to accurately assess results of the current increase in troop strength and operations, even as senators from both parties warned U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker that time is running out.

Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno said he will participate in a much-anticipated report due to Congress in mid-September, but “to do a good assessment,” he said, he would need 45 more days. Odierno cited “significant success” over the past four weeks in military operations against al-Qaeda in Iraq and in the training of Iraqi security forces, and said there has been movement toward political reconciliation.

Eh, of course, we’ve been moving forward for four years, don’tcha know? Check out today’s good news from Juan Cole.

-jb

Harry Reid says to Republicans: “Bring it on.”

Jul 18, 2007 in Iraq, Outstanding Democrats, Politics

Now this is how to do it, Democrats. The Republicans wanted to establish a new system where all bills now require 60 votes to pass, the MSM immediately assimilated the information as established fact. This pattern of the GOP gaming the system however the fuck it wants and the MSM nodding amiably is long established now. The only question was, were Democrats going to assume their usual role, bent over with ankles clasped?

The article is hardly sympathetic to the Democrats.

WASHINGTON — Democrats steered the Senate into an attention-grabbing, all-night session to dramatize opposition to the Iraq war but conceded they were unlikely to gain the votes needed to advance troop withdrawal legislation blocked by Republicans.

“Our enemies aren’t threatened by talk-a-thons, and our troops deserve better than publicity stunts,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader.

McConnell and many other Republicans favor waiting until September before considering any changes to the Bush administration’s current policy. They have vowed to block a final vote on the Democrats’ attempt to require a troop withdrawal to begin within 120 days.

This, of course, is their version of the Friedman Unit, just as the surge was. In September there will be new excuses, possibly another “surge,” “peace increase,” or “ten thousand man mega-slam,” whatever the fuck new buzzword the White House can borrow from their Frank Luntz computer simulation program. Regardless, the Republicans will not want to change course in September. What’s going to be different two months from now?

Of course, while Republicans have been ruling by filibuster on just about any bill they feel like, this is all “six of one, half dozen of another,” by brainless Beltway standards:

But the political roles were reversed. Four years ago, Republicans demanded votes on Bush’s judicial nominees, and Democrats filibustered to avoid certain confirmation of several conservative appointees.

Then, Reid labeled the Republican-led all night-session a “circus,” while other Democrats stoutly defended their right to set a 60-vote threshold for confirmation.

And then, McConnell talked critically of “unprecedented filibusters of President Bush’s nominees” by Democrats, while other Republicans said they simply wanted an “up or down vote” on judicial appointments.

Of course, Republicans were also threatening to put an end to the filibuster. And in the end, they got what they wanted, and all of Washington was in awe of their a’mighty power.

The public is squarely on the Democrats’ side here, and their constituency has one primary expection: Goddammit, fight for us. If the Republicans want to wrap the chains of Iraq around their neck a few more times, let them make a grand show of it nobody will forget. But if Democrats cave in again, that’s what the public will remember.

-jb

Turkey vs. the Kurds

Jul 10, 2007 in Iraq, Middle East

Turkey’s attitude towards an independent Kurdistan was a serious issue to consider well before the Iraq war. Which means, of course, George W. Bush never considered it. Jim Hoagland thinks the issue is getting critical.

Neither the Pentagon nor the CIA appears to have stepped up to the mission. This inaction feeds Turkish suspicions that hidden anti-Iranian agendas and alliances among U.S., Saudi, Jordanian and other intelligence services have more influence over American priorities than do commitments from Bush or his senior aides.

A month ago, a consensus among trained observers and diplomats held that the Turks were unlikely to intervene despite their threats. That opinion is changing as disillusionment and electoral desperation take hold in Ankara. Moreover, predictions that any intervention would be limited to airstrikes and mopping-up operations by Turkish special forces at PKK sites are giving way to fears of a much larger operation that could be aimed at forestalling Kurdish control over the disputed Kirkuk region. Rice telephoned Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul on Friday to try to head off intervention but received no firm assurance.

A Turkish invasion that turns Kurdistan’s relative calm into chaos and bloodshed would be the nail in the coffin for Bush’s legacy in Iraq and for U.S. public support for the American presence there. Making sure this does not happen should be Priority One for Bush and for everyone working for him in the weeks ahead.

Turkey has been one of the primary obstacles to a safely divided Iraq. They believe a Kurdistan will be destabilizing to their Kurdish population, and the Bush administration has done very little here except to declare a divided Iraq a “non-starter.” Turkey, however, is doing something about it.

BAGHDAD (AP) – Turkey has massed 140,000 soldiers on its border with northern Iraq, Iraq’s foreign minister said Monday, calling the neighboring country’s fears of Kurdish rebels based there “legitimate” but better resolved through negotiation.

The Turkish military had no comment to the remarks by Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd from northern Iraq, and it was unclear where he got the figures. If they are accurate, Turkey would have nearly as many soldiers along its border with Iraq as the 155,000 troops which the U.S. has in the country.

Zebari’s comments came amid calls by Turkey’s military for the government to give it the green light to carry out military operations in northern Iraqi against the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.

My question has always been, what makes Turkey’s position an absolute that we can do nothing about? Their status as an ally suggests to me that negotiations with Turkey are one of the few options we have at our disposal to improve our options in Iraq.

-jb

Cut and Run Republicans

Jul 07, 2007 in Iraq

More Republicans turn their backs on the troops.  Why do they hate America so much?

More here.

-mg

Staying on Message.

Jun 07, 2007 in Iraq, Media

The National Security Archive has a declassified white paper detailing the Pentagon’s designs on a “free” Iraqi media.  In 2003 it was recommended that a “Rapid Reaction Media Team” be created to control the public airwaves for propaganda purposes. 

As Pentagon planners saw it, the themes of the “strategic information campaign” were to be crimes of the old regime, and a bright new day. They included “Mine awareness,” “Re-starting the Oil,” “Justice and rule of law topics,” “Humanitarian assistance . . . care and management of population and internal displaced persons,” “Political prisoners and atrocity interviews,” “WMD disarmament,” and “Saddam’s palaces and opulence.”

So basically they wanted to duplicate the propaganda already being broadcasted by stateside media outlets but unfortunately the “Iraqi Free Media” project couldn’t duplicate the same results.

Judged in terms of money funneled into the hands of private corporations, however, the program was a huge success.  Mission Accomplished!

The article also features an instructive timeline of US military offenses against Iraqi free speech.

-mg