Tuesday, November 21, 2006


How Has it Come to This? In one word: INCOMPETENCE

project of theNation Institute

compiled and editedby Tom Engelhardt

Tomgram: Mark Danner,
How a War of Unbound Fantasies Happened

From fantasies come consequences caught, in the case of Iraq, by the following headline from the Houston Chronicle, "At least 700 Iraqis die in 8 days of unrelenting violence." ("They've been beheaded, tortured and blown up while looking for work. They've been shot, kidnapped and felled by mortars.") Think of this as George W. Bush's Iraq. Mark Danner, one of our most incisive writers on Bush's war, steps back in this moment that he calls "the time of solutions" to consider just how we got from the soaring rhetoric (not to speak of the lies and manipulations) of the Bush administration, from those planet-encompassing dreams of domination, to the most singularly sordid situation imaginable -- with the possibility of worse still ahead.

This is certainly one of the longest pieces the New York Review of Books has ever run in a single issue. (It will appear in the December 21st issue, soon on the newsstands.) It won't even fit in the Tomdispatch "shell" and so I'm proud to post it, with the kind permission of the editors of the New York Review of Books, as an instant two-part piece. Most of you will be breaking for Thanksgiving. So now you have your assignment for the extended weekend. I couldn't send along a better journalist -- or writer -- as company.

Tomdispatch.com will return on Monday afternoon, November 27th, with a week of genuine surprises, part of an explosive special book project long underway at the site. Look for it. Tom
Iraq: The War of the Imagination

Iraq: The War of the Imagination
By Mark Danner
[This piece, which appears in the December 21, 2006 issue of the New York Review of Books, is posted here with the kind permission of the editors of that magazine.]

"Today, if we went into Iraq, like the president would like us to do, you know where you begin. You never know where you are going to end." -- George F. Kennan, September 26, 2002
"I ask you, sir, what is the American army doing inside Iraq?... Saddam's story has been finished for close to three years." -- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to Mike Wallace on Sixty Minutes, August 13, 2006
Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Source: http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?emx=x&pid=142383

Dems Have a Chance to Right Some Wrongs

Source: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_page/HK10Aa04.html
Front Page
Nov 10, 2006

Rumsfeld takes a hit for Bush
By Jim Lobe
WASHINGTON - The abrupt replacement of defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld by former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Robert Gates, combined with the Democratic sweep in Tuesday's mid-term elections, appears to signal major changes in US foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East.

A career CIA analyst until his retirement in the early 1990s, Gates, a favorite of both former president George H W Bush and
his national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, has shared their "realistic" approach to US foreign policy and shown little patience with the neo-conservatives and aggressive nationalists such as Vice President Dick Cheney. Or with Rumsfeld, who dominated President George W Bush's first term after the September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda attacks on New York and the Pentagon and led the march to war in Iraq.

As recently as two years ago, for example, Gates co-chaired a task force sponsored by the influential Council on Foreign Relations with former president Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, which called for a policy of diplomatic and economic engagement with Iran, a policy that was denounced as "appeasement" by a number of prominent neo-conservatives. Indeed, in the aftermath of Tuesday's electoral landslide, in which the Democrats gained at least 29 seats to win a secure majority in the House of Representatives and appear poised to win a narrower majority in the Senate as well, and Rumsfeld's departure, both Cheney and his neo-conservative supporters now appear more marginalized than ever.

"If the trend in the Bush second term is viewed as what a friend of mine once called 'an imperceptible 180-degree turn' from neo-con ideology to political realism, then this would be a crowning achievement," said Gary Sick, an Iran specialist at Columbia University who worked with Gates in the National Security Council under Carter. "Viewed from my own knowledge and perspective, I think this is one of the most significant US policy shifts in the past six years," he said, adding that, among other things, Rumsfeld's departure and Gates' ascension would, at the very least, give Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - like Gates, a Soviet specialist from the realist school - more diplomatic maneuvering room than in the past when she had to contend with both a hostile vice president and secretary of defense.

Although apparently discussed for some time, Rumsfeld's resignation on the heels of the election was no doubt designed at least in part as a sacrificial offering to victorious Democrats, whose performance at the polls appears to have lived up to their greatest hopes. The quagmire in Iraq for which Rumsfeld was, of course, one of the most visible faces was, according to both the pre-election and exit polls, probably the single most important factor in what Bush himself called a "thumping" for his Republican Party. "At a minimum, Rumsfeld's departure buys the president time to adjust Iraq and other policies without the newly empowered Democrats screaming for blood," opined Chris Nelson, editor of the private insider newsletter The Nelson Report. "But they will start to do that pretty soon, if nothing coherent seems to be happening."

In his first post-election statement, Bush vowed to find "common ground" with the Democrats on Iraq, as well as other issues - a promise that seemed inconceivable just a month ago when he and Cheney were accusing the opposition party of wanting to "cut and run" from Iraq and handing the "terrorists" there a great victory. For their part, the new Democratic leadership - the House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi and the likely new majority leader, Senator Harry Reid - called for a national summit on Iraq policy. While the Democrats are united on Iraq, many, if not most, including Pelosi, believe that Washington should begin "redeploying" the 140,000-plus troops from Iraq and setting timetables for an eventual withdrawal over the next one to two years to reduce the mounting costs in blood and treasure of the US intervention, extricate Washington from what appears to be a growing sectarian civil war, and put pressure on the Iraqi government and its various factions to prevent one.

Both parties are likely now to defer to the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group (ISG), a bipartisan, congressionally appointed task force co-chaired by former secretary of state James Baker and former House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Lee Hamilton, which is supposed to release its report between now and early next year. Significantly, Gates is a Republican member of the ISG, which, under Baker's guidance, met in September with senior representatives of Iran and Syria, governments that have been boycotted diplomatically by the Bush administration. Those meetings prompted strong speculation that the ISG was almost certain to recommend engaging both Tehran and Damascus as well as Iraq's other neighbors, as part of a strategy to facilitate a US withdrawal and prevent the sectarian conflict from spreading beyond Iraq's borders.

Such an approach has been anathema to Rumsfeld, Cheney and the neo-conservatives, who successfully vetoed Rice's suggestion during summer's Israel-Hezbollah conflict in Lebanon that Washington communicate at least indirectly with Damascus and earlier efforts by her to persuade Bush to be prepared to offer Tehran security guarantees as part of any package that would emerge from successful negotiations between the European Union and Iran on freezing its nuclear program. But both approaches are likely to be advocated by Gates, and therein lies the possibility of a major overhaul of US policy, particularly in the Middle East but also with respect to Asia, particularly China, where tension with Rumsfeld's Pentagon has been the main irritant in an otherwise relatively constructive relationship under Bush.

Nelson points out that Gates is currently a leading member of the Baker policy advisory group. Indeed, some right-wing commentators see Rumsfeld's replacement by Gates as a virtual coup d'etat by the old, realist crowd around Bush's father against the remnants of the hawkish coalition of aggressive nationalists,** neo-conservatives and the **Christian right that seized control of Middle East policy, in particular, after September 11.

"Bottom line, the Gates nomination has Jim Baker's fingerprints all over it," said J William Lauderback, executive vice president of the American Conservative Union. That analysis will likely be echoed in the coming days by a host of neo-conservatives howling about a realist takeover. In fairness to the neo-conservatives, many of them have been calling for Rumsfeld's ouster, some even as early as the Iraq invasion, when they determined that he was unprepared to devote the kind of resources and manpower "in ground forces and security" into the kind of "model" they had envisaged for the rest of the Arab world.

In recent months, even neo-conservatives who have stood by Rumsfeld have publicly criticized him for botching the Iraq occupation. They had urged Bush to choose Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Democrat with strong neo-conservative views on the Middle East, to replace Rumsfeld. Lieberman, who was defeated two months ago in the Democratic primary election by a virtually unknown anti-war candidate, Ned Lamont, was re-elected with Republican votes and money to the Senate as an Independent in one of the few pieces of good news that the hawks have received over the past 48 hours.

But Lieberman's re-election could not overcome the tide of bad news for the neo-conservatives and their main sponsor and protector within the administration, Cheney, who, now deprived of both his former chief of staff, I Lewis Libby (indicted for lying to a federal grand jury in October 2005), and Rumsfeld, now lies isolated and exposed. "Rumsfeld is his guy," journalist Bob Woodward told the TV public-affairs program 60 Minutes last month. "And Cheney confided to an aide that if Rumsfeld goes, next they'll be after Cheney." (Inter Press Service)

Rumsfeld not the only one to blame Nov 9 2006America votes and the spin masters wobble Nov 9 2006US ready to face the world anew Nov 8 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006



WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE (Pete Seeger / Joe Hickerson)
Pete Seeger & Tao Rodriguez

Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone? Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone? Picked by young girls every one
When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone? Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone? Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone? Gone to young men every one
When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone? Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone? Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone? Gone to soldiers every one
When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone? Long, long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone? Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone? Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone? Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone? Gone to flowers every one
When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn? *****

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


1000 words:- Generations of Valor

Pearl Harbor survivor Houston James of Dallas embraced Marine Staff Sgt. Mark Graunke, Jr. during a Veterans Day Commemoration in Dallas. Graunke lost a hand, a leg, and an eye when he defused a bomb in Iraq.


U.S. TROOP CASUALTIES OVER 100 for Oct. 2006

Why such high troop losses in October?
US fatalities in Iraq surpass 100, in one of the deadliest months for Americans since the war began.
By Peter Grier
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
WASHINGTON – Caught in tough fighting in their mission to pacify Baghdad, US troops have ended one of their deadliest months in Iraq since the war began.
The US military announced Monday that fatalities in October broke the 100 mark. The number climbed to 103 by Tuesday. For American forces, only three other months have been deadlier since fighting began in March 2003. The worst month was November 2004 with 137 fatalities.
The White House, as well as some experts outside the government, say Al Qaeda and other insurgent groups deliberately are trying to inflict more casualties to influence next week's midterm elections and break American will.
"They think we don't have the stomach for the fight," Vice President Dick Cheney said in a broadcast interview Monday.
Others say the rising toll is not so much the result of a deliberate decision by US adversaries as it is the cost of moving more US troops into Baghdad in recent weeks in an attempt to more fully control the capital city.
"The October boost in US casualties was almost inevitable the moment the US attempted to stiffen and replace Iraqi forces in an essentially hopeless mission," writes Anthony Cordesman, a military expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, in his most recent analysis of Iraq.
Tet offensive comparison
The official Pentagon count of US deaths in Operation Iraqi Freedom stood at 2,814 at the time of this writing Tuesday morning. Of these, 2,258 were listed as "killed in action," with 556 the result of unspecified non-hostile activity.
SOURCES: DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; AP RESEARCH/AP Click here to enlarge the image
According to figures compiled by the Brookings Institution, 34.8 percent of US fatalities through Oct. 26 were caused by improvised explosive devices. Other kinds of hostile fire accounted for 31.8 percent.
In recent weeks President Bush has been among US officials to compare the situation in Iraq with the communist offensive in Vietnam that began in late January 1968 during the Tet, or lunar new year, holiday.
The Tet offensive was a military defeat for the communists in that they did not achieve any of their tactical goals. But by inflicting US and South Vietnamese casualties and carrying out operations throughout South Vietnam, the offensive shocked the US public. Support for President Johnson fell sharply after it began.
Discussing a column by The New York Times' Thomas Friedman, which itself made the Tet analogy, Mr. Bush told a broadcast interviewer this month the comparison might be apt.
"There's certainly a stepped-up level of violence, and we're heading into an election," he said.
The Tet offensive is widely seen as a turning point in the Vietnam War, the period after which US voters began to sour on the whole experience.
But it was not like the current period in Iraq at all, argues Don Oberdorfer, chairman of the US-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, who covered Vietnam as a reporter and wrote a book on Tet.
At the time the Tet offensive began, the US public was told the Vietnam War was almost over. Thus renewed fighting came as a tremendous shock.
In addition, communist Vietnamese tactics took the fight into almost every corner of the country, including previously quiet areas.
"It was as if the Iraqi Shiites took over the Green Zone in Baghdad," said Mr. Oberdorfer in a commentary for the Council on Foreign Relations.
Today there is not the tremendous domestic passion that roiled the US during the Vietnam years. If US voters were paying extra taxes to finance the war, or if they were being drafted into US forces, the country might feel differently, said Oberdorfer.
American will breaking?
Pham Van Dong, North Vietnam's premier, once said of the Vietnam conflict, "Americans do not like long inconclusive wars, and this is going to be a long inconclusive war, and therefore we will win in the end."
This comment might be apropos today, said Oberdorfer.
"The American people got tired of [Vietnam], got fed up with it, and I can see some of the same tendencies in today's situation," said Oberdorfer.
According to Mr. Cordesman, perhaps the most important trend in the violence in Iraq is, in fact, the nearly 12-fold increase in sectarian Sunni-Shiite violence that occurred between January and mid-August of this year.
Slowly, steadily Iraq has been moving toward civil war, in Cordesman's view, and US forces have in essence been caught in the crossfire.
"None of the data that are available ... show any radical rise in violence that can be tied to the American election, to some massive offensive to try to influence its outcome, or to some campaign in October that is tied to domestic American politics," writes Cordesman.
Related Stories
US leaders rethinking Iraq tactics 10/26/06
Iraq's violence heading toward two-year high 10/20/06
Not coming soon: US troop cuts in Iraq 09/22/06
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