Sunday, January 28, 2007
The Democrats bought into the "conventional wisdom" that Gates would guide George W. Bush toward a phased withdrawal from Iraq.
Instead, Gates is emerging as a loyal foot soldier for Bush in expanding the war -- and to demonstrate his thanks to the Democrats for the free pass, Gates now is accusing them of aiding America's enemies by not falling in line behind Bush.
For the full story of how the Democrats were bamboozled again, go to Consortiumnews.com at http://www.consortiumnews.com .
While there, also read "The Other Iraq War: Son vs. Father."
The Iraq War is a tragic story of miscalculation and hubris that has claimed the lives of 3,000 American soldiers and possibly hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
But the war may have another dimension, a psychological conflict between a headstrong son and his disapproving father.
In this guest essay, Ivan Eland says one motive in George W. Bush's decision to plunge deeper into the Iraq quagmire may be that he won't admit that his father was right.
Anti-War Protest in Washington - 01/27/07
Demonstrators listen to the speakers during a protest against the war in Iraq on the National Mall in Washington on Saturday.
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• Politics of warJan. 27: Thousands converged on Washington to demonstrate against the war in Iraq and urge the U.S. to bring the troops home. NBC's John Yang reports.
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NBC News correspondents and producers around the globe share their insight on news events.
Impact of Iraq war on U.S. troops:
• Remembering the fallenFamily and friends remember loved ones who have lost their lives serving in Iraq. View photographs and listen to their stories.
• The war after the warDisabled from wounds sustained in Iraq, Cpl. B.J. Jackson and his family find life on the home front has changed, for better and worse. Click "Launch" to view the audio slide show.
• War protesters demand U.S. troop withdrawal
• Healing the Wounded
WASHINGTON - Protesters energized by fresh congressional skepticism about the Iraq war demanded a withdrawal of U.S. troops in a demonstration Saturday that drew tens of thousands and brought Jane Fonda back to the streets.
A sampling of celebrities, a half-dozen members of Congress and busloads of demonstrators from distant states joined in a spirited rally under a sunny sky, seeing opportunity to press their cause in a country that has turned against the war.
The House Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. John Conyers, threatened to use congressional spending power to try to stop the war. “George Bush has a habit of firing military leaders who tell him the Iraq war is failing,” he said, looking out at the masses. “He can’t fire you.” Referring to Congress, the Michigan Democrat added: “He can’t fire us."
“The founders of our country gave our Congress the power of the purse because they envisioned a scenario exactly like we find ourselves in today. Now only is it in our power, it is our obligation to stop Bush.”
The protests came on a day when the U.S. military reported the deaths of seven more American soldiers, raising to at least 12 the number of service members killed in the past three days.
The most recent seven death reports were all the result of roadside bombs, two in Diyala province, two in Baghdad and three others at an unspecified location north of the capital.
Five of the soldiers were assigned to Multi-National Division-Baghdad, one was a member of Task Force Lightning who was assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and one other was a Multi-National Corps-Iraq soldier attached to north division.
High U.S. death toll this month
According to an Associated Press count, at least 73 service members have been killed so far this month.
“Silence is no longer an option,” Fonda declared on Saturday to cheers, addressing not only the nation’s response to Iraq but her own absence from anti-war protests for 34 years.
The actress once derided as “Hanoi Jane” by conservatives for her stance on Vietnam said she had held back from activism so as not to be a distraction for the Iraq anti-war movement, but now needed to speak out.
“Thank you so much for the courage to stand up against this mean-spirited, vengeful administration,” she said.
Fonda drew parallels to the Vietnam War, citing “blindness to realities on the ground, hubris ... thoughtlessness in our approach to rebuilding a country we’ve destroyed.” But she noted that this time, veterans, soldiers and their families increasingly and vocally are against the Iraq war.
The rally on the National Mall unfolded peacefully, although about 300 protesters tried to rush the Capitol, running up the grassy lawn to the front of the building. Police on motorcycles tried to stop them, scuffling and wrestling with some and setting up barricades along the front steps.
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Fresh wave of attacks shake Baghdad
Newsweek: Bush hits new low in poll
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
'07 State of the Union Address
Sticking to his guns (pig headedly)
President Bush defiantly defends his Iraq stance
• Bush's State of the Union addressJan. 23: President George Bush delivers the State of the Union address. Watch his entire speech.
• State of the Union 2007Topic-by-topic interactive analysis
Video: State of the Union address
• Iraq 'surge' defended in State of UnionJan. 24: President Bush outlined his domestic policies and gave a defense of his strategy in Iraq in his State of the Union address last night. NBC's David Gregory reports.
• Giuliani discusses State of the Union
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• Bush: We have 'a growing economy'
• Strengthening No Child Left Behind
• Affordable, accessible heath care
• Too dependent on foreign oil
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• Success in Iraq; battling terrorism
• AIDS relief; malaria initiative
• Democratic response: 'We need a new direction'
• Clinton wants 'redeployment' of troops
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• Bush on his Iraq plan: ‘Give it a chance’
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• Fineman: President sticks to his guns
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• Full text of president’s speech
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• Iraq 'surge' defended in State of UnionJan. 24: President Bush outlined his domestic policies and gave a defense of his strategy in Iraq in his State of the Union address last night. NBC's David Gregory reports.
By Howard Fineman
WASHINGTON - George W. Bush wanted to be Harry Truman (patron saint of embattled presidents) in his State of the Union speech, but he may have reminded voters of Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove. You know the famous scene: the giddy pilot in a cowboy hat hops aboard his own payload to Armageddon.
Say this about the president: he is going to stick with his vision, his strategy and his decisions on Iraq – no matter what the world, the American voters, the new Democratic Congress, the ’08 presidential contenders or even his fellow Republicans want.
All the buzz before the speech was that Bush would do something of a quick shuffle past Iraq. Yes, there was much domestic throat clearing – more than a half hour’s worth of it (though not a single mention of Katrina and New Orleans) – but when it came time to turn to Iraq and the “war on terror” he did not flinch.
Nothing he said was remarkably new – which, in and of itself was nothing short of remarkable.
Bush said, with all earnestness, that his goal in Iraq and the Middle East was – and our goal must be – to “remove conditions that inspire hatred” there. However, it is hard to find a dispassionate observer of the war who thinks that we have achieved that goal. Sadly, even many of our own military people say that just the opposite is true. Our presence has inflamed hatred, not doused it.
Without a trace of irony, he told the Congress: “Whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure.” But most Americans have concluded that we already have failed.
The speech was worlds away from the dim and dolorous address he gave the other week on the details of his new Iraq strategy – troop escalation, reinforcement or surge. Surrounded by the bright lights and trappings of authority, he was workman-like and confident. He was gracious in acknowledging Nancy Pelosi’s breakthrough as the first female Speaker of the House. And measured by the number of times he got Speaker Pelosi to stand up and applaud, he did a decent job of suggesting measures that he and the Democratic Congress could work on together.
But all of that was beside the point. The war in Iraq has cost 3,000 lives, half a trillion dollars – and, just as important, has cost the United States precious standing and moral authority in the world at large. All of that has and will damage us diplomatically, militarily and economically. The dollar is down, the Euro is up; America, sadly, is regarded in much of the world as almost as great a threat to peace as the “evil” people we have been fighting for six years.
None of that seems to matter much to the president.
He seems to live in a different world. Most of us increasingly live in a wiki world, where the digital, online search for information and enlightenment is a collaborative enterprise – the cumulative, exponential power of many minds.
Democrats challenge Bush
Watch entire State of the Union speech
2007 State of the Union text
Our president, whom I used to view as a gregarious man, does not scour the world for information. He likes the “one riot, one ranger” Texas Ranger theory of life. I think back to 2000, and remember the bus he rented on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. It had a big captain’s chair, and even a small Persian rug and a clock on the wall, but there was something isolating about it – it was not configured to accommodate a big crowd of people gathering around. He seemed to be relieved to escape into it.
Now he wants the Democrats to join him in creating a “special advisory council on the war on terror.” It may be a little late for that – like asking them to join him for the payload ride down.
© 2007 MSNBC Interactive
MORE FROM STATE OF THE UNION
Alter: A Powerful Response
• Bush on Iraq plan: 'Give it a chance'
• SOTU: Interactive analysis and weigh-in
• ’08 candidates go online for 21st century chat
Monday, January 22, 2007
Video: 3+ minutes long - from Ava Lowryhttp://www.peacetakescourage.com/terrorist.html Slide show continues after music stops
#PermanentLink posted by Worried @ 1/22/2007 07:08:00 AM 0 people speaking out - links to this post
Who Are The Terrorists?
Governments have traditionally used fear of an enemy to assure citizen support, compliance and cooperation as the government engaged in political and warring actions for its own ends. "Us" against "them" is a tried and true tactic, even on the field of sports.
How many of you are old enough to remember the Red Menace, when Communism was the bug-a-bear of the day? McCarthy reigned supreme and destroyed countless numbers of American lives by tarring them with the Commie brush. The giant Russian Bear was pictured as hovering over the free world with bared fangs and claws, ready to dominate and force all free and peace loving people to submit to their ideology. Nuclear War was held over our heads as the major catastrophe looming to destroy us.
Fear of Communism was the favored terror tactic employed for many years. The Cuban Crisis whipped the populace into a frenzy of shelter building and stockpiling of food stuffs and supplies. Grocery shelves were emptied and a product called Multi-Purpose Food (MPF) was touted as a space saving, nutritious alternative to mountains of canned goods. It tasted AWFUL and one would have to be literally starving to eat it, if even then. Some people avowed that starvation was preferable to eating that stuff. Evacuation plans for cities were laid out, and those workers in essential services were advised to arrange for the care of their families, as in the event of an attack they would not be allowed to leave their jobs.
The Screaming Eagle forced the Red Bear to back down and remove its missles from Cuba, so that terror was somewhat abated. But the dirty Commies remained an effective bug-a-bear, they just changed colors. Then war was necessary to stop the Yellow Horde from advancing southward into Korea; later it was Vietnam. The Commies could not be allowed to prevail or the whole world would be at risk to fall to Communism!! Now, over 50 years later, we continue to maintain a holding force at the 38th parallel in Korea, and everyone knows what happened in the 'Nam. We didn't get nuked, the bear's fangs and claws were blunted, the Vietnamese Communists didn't threaten the free world (and now we build trade with them) and the Commie terror threat faded into obscurity.
A new terror threat was necessary. Contrary to popular belief, the invasion of Iraq and the Middle east didn't pop up suddenly as a result of 9/11; it was planned for several years prior to that catastrophe. 9/11 merely provided the excuse, and we were threatened with Islamic terrorists as the current bug-a-bear. Deceived into supporting the Neocons plots and enraged at the attack on our people, the citizens obliging fell into line with the government. Now that the truth is out, the government is forced to provide a new terror threat: Iran and Syria, the next targets on the Neocon agenda. Once again, WMDs, nuclear attack, backback/suitcase mini-nukes, obliterate Israel, and so on. The radical Islamists obliging add fuel to the flame by attacks here and there about the globe.
Terror, terror, terror. Keep the citizens fearful, force them to turn to our leaders to protect us. And if some obliging terrorist group hits us again, it will be an answer to neocon prayers, justifying their wars. Bush will be vindicated and the plots to control the world's oil can proceed without citizen objections.
Now that the "surge" has been announced, the TV further obliges the government by airing anti-Saddam documentaries, pro-mercenary docs, and heroic war docs and movies. (BlackHawk Down is airing again, too).
Saddam exercised extreme cruelty against his people to keep them terrorized into line. He ruined the nation's economy with the Iran-Iraq 8 year war, instigated and armed to a large extent by the U.S. and European collaborators. He is condemned for torture and death of his people, for lawless arrests and executions, for unsupported accusations of wrong doing and unlawful incarcerations. He was a monster, like many other tyrants supported by the U.S. until they were no longer useful to Neocon plans.
Bush has promoted detention and torture of individuals, including some U.S. citizens, often with unsupported or no accusations. Are his hands clean of the blood that was on Saddam's hands because he has most of his victims rendered to cooperative nations who will do the torture for him, or tortured out of the U.S. national boundries? Bush has violated, even done away with the law of habeas corpus, shredded the Constitution (" a g-d piece of paper") , and has ruined this nation financially; well in the black at the end of the Clinton administration but now trillions of dollars in debt, much of the debt to Communist China. If our nation survives Bush, our great-great grandchildren will still be paying off the debt.
For every accusation Bush levels against other nations, I see the same crimes at his doorstep. Who has the greatest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world? Who provides Israel with her nukes and high tech weaponry, some of which are horrific in the extreme? Who spends more on its military than all other nations in the world combined? Who is the greatest threat to world peace? Who has violated the Geneva Convention and even denies he is bound to it?
On and on, a veritable litany of accusations to be laid at his feet. Every accusation that he has leveled at others bounce back and accuse him of equal or more guilt.If there is any justice in this life, there will be a new Nuremberg Trials and you know who should be first on the docket .
Cross posted from Is America Burning
Connecting the Dots
The next several posts appear to be political. However, they reveal the background for Bush's "surge" and continued occupation of Iraq and involvement with other nations. As such, it directly affects our miltary, more losses and injuries, and continued warfare. They are pertinent.
Ghosts of Vietnam
Ghosts Of Vietnam
January 17, 2007
Paul Waldman is a senior fellow at Media Matters for America and the author of the new book, Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Can Learn From Conservative Success (John Wiley & Sons). The views expressed here are his own.
For a time, conservatives reacted to those who raised parallels between Iraq and Vietnam with shock, dismay, even rage. How dare anyone try to draw a parallel to a war built on presidential lies, false claims of American interests at stake and a steady flow of American deaths, each one offered so the last would not be in vain? But lately the comparisons to Vietnam have come more often in the form of warnings to Democrats: Don’t get carried away, or you will once again be branded the party of hippies and draft-dodgers, peaceniks and pot-smokers, bringing America down with your depressing vibe, crunching our patriotic buzz with talk of defeat and dishonor. You’ll be called “soft,” you won’t be trusted with our nation’s security and the charge of wimpishness will stick to you for decades to come.
Before Democrats react as they often do—with terror and frantic me-too hawkishness at the mere mention of the word “hippie”—they should take note of how often their opponents offer their friendly counsel to recommend timidity. Richard Nixon’s boundless enthusiasm for carpet-bombing notwithstanding, Vietnam always belonged to a Democratic president, Lyndon Johnson. And though our next president will no doubt spend much of his or her time mopping up the bloody remains of this spectacular misadventure, Iraq will always be George W. Bush’s war.
And as in Vietnam, the American public has turned against a war they initially were persuaded to support. It was in August 1968—four years after the passage of the Tonkin Gulf resolution authorizing President Johnson to launch a full-scale war—that, for the first time, over 50 percent of Americans branded the Vietnam War a mistake. The Tet offensive earlier that year had finally convinced Americans that the mission was doomed. Though a military success, Tet showed that the Vietcong and North Vietnamese were not going anywhere and there was no end in sight.
And just as the Bush administration so often reminds us of the extraordinary “progress” being made in Iraq, in Vietnam the government always saw the “light at the end of the tunnel.” Today opinions on Iraq match the final public conclusions on Vietnam: six in 10 Americans saying it was a mistake, and three in four disapproving of the job the president is doing on the issue (Johnson’s approval ratings on his handling of Vietnam bottomed out at 27 percent in an August 1967 Gallup poll; the latest one puts approval of President Bush’s handling of Iraq at 26 percent).
But the real reason Vietnam ended up hurting Democrats wasn’t the simple fact of their opposition to the war. Let’s remember that in the 1960s, America went through a full-blown culture war that makes our own seem like the tiniest of molehills. (In truth, it would be more accurate to say that it’s all one long culture war, but the conflict then was at a period of particular intensity.) During Vietnam, Americans had real fears (justified or not) of anarchy in the streets. High school students walked out of their classes, college students burned their draft cards and young people challenged the very foundations of the society on which comfortable middle-class life was built.
However we view those conflicts today, millions of Americans genuinely believed that they were personally under assault from the anti-war movement and the larger counterculture. Today, only the truly insane could believe that their very way of life is being threatened by an opposition to the war that is by any historical standard extraordinarily measured and well-behaved. This is not to say that conservatives won’t attempt to blame liberals for the failure of Bush’s war—of course they will. They can’t blame themselves, after all. (Kevin Baker examined this topic in his extraordinary article in last June’s Harper’s , “Stabbed in the Back! The Past and Future of a Right-Wing Myth.” It is required reading for anyone who wants to understand the politics of national security.)They will nonetheless have an awfully tough time making the case to anyone but the most fevered of Bush loyalists, a group that grows smaller by the day.
The Power of Positive Thinking
Johnson was famously tortured by the war in Vietnam, spending sleepless nights fretting about the casualties and the dim prospects for success. Bush, on the other hand, told People magazine in December, “I must tell you, I’m sleeping a lot better than people would assume.” Second-guessing oneself, in Bush’s endless cycle of insecurity and overcompensation, is for wimps. Steadfastness, firmness, lack of doubt — these things are not only critical to success, as far as Bush is concerned, they actually have the power to create success, to bend the world to your iron will. In the five years since 9/11, Bush has acted like a self-help seminar graduate, converted to the gospel of self-confidence, convinced that doubt forms the paving stones of the road to failure. He paid $395 for that afternoon of pep talks, and he’ll be damned if he isn’t going to let confidence be the key to the life he’s always wanted.
But it isn’t Tony Robbins whispering into Bush’s ear; it’s Dick Cheney and Henry Kissinger, a veritable Bobbsey Twins of Death. As Bob Woodward’s latest book reported, Kissinger, former secretary of state under Nixon, has become a frequent visitor to the White House, counseling Bush not to go all wobbly. Meanwhile, Vice President Cheney— the man who peddled phony Iraqi connections to 9/11 long after they had been discredited; the man who in August 2002 told us, “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us”; the man who in May 2005 told us that the Iraqi insurgency was in its “last throes” — is eagerly creating the next wave of the war.
Cheney told Fox News this Sunday, “The threat that Iran represents is growing, it’s multidimensional, and it is, in fact, of concern to everybody in the region.” (Reporting the latest news from Bizarro Iraq, Cheney also said in the interview that “we have, in fact, made enormous progress” there.) Whatever the true extent of Iran’s machinations in Iraq, they certainly didn’t begin last week. Yet all of a sudden, we hear Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, and other assorted administration mouthpieces sounding dreadfully concerned about Iran.
When the “surge” (you can feel the testosterone every time you say it) fails to make Iraq’s warring sects join hands and inaugurate an Iraqi Spring of peace and togetherness, it will likely be blamed on the mullahs and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who seems only too eager to become America’s next dark villain, complete with the standard-issue Hitler comparisons (Don’t you know he denies the Holocaust?!? We may have no choice but to invade.)
Talk of “victory” has recently disappeared from the president’s public utterances, as the idea grows ever more fanciful. There will be no banner headlines proclaiming our triumph, no ticker-tape parades, no one thrusting their arms in the air and shouting, “Woo-hoo! We won!” One way or another we will leave Iraq, and the best we can hope to feel is relief that our part in this miserable orgy of death and suffering has finally come to an end. One way or another we will leave, and there will be no joy on that day.
Watching Bush speak about Iraq of late, one can see the faint glimmer of defeat in his eyes. He often speaks of history, arguing that what today seems like epic stupidity, stunning naiveté, unfathomable incompetence and shameless dishonesty will, some decades hence, be seen by all as the soul of wisdom and vision. That hope may be all he has left. But it is enough to keep him comfortable in his bed, resting peacefully until morning.
[WA: He has his delusions to keep him warm.]
It's Still About The Oil - Corporate and Military Occupation of Iraq
It's Still About The Oil
January 19, 2007
Antonia Juhasz, a visiting scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, is the author of The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time (HarperCollins, 2006).
She is also contributing author, with John Perkins and others, to A Game as Old as Empire (Berrett-Koehler, February 2007).
For more than four years, the Bush administration and its oil company cohorts have worked toward the passage of a new oil law for Iraq that would turn its nationalized oil system over to private foreign corporate control. On Thursday, January 18, this dream came one step closer to reality when an Iraqi negotiating committee of "national and regional leaders" approved a new hydrocarbon law. The committee chair, Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, told Reuters that the draft will go to the Iraqi cabinet next week and, if approved, to the parliament immediately thereafter.
The good news is that the Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) so hotly desired by the Bush administration and the world's oil companies that appeared in earlier drafts of the law have apparently been removed. The PSAs gave private companies (including foreign ones) control of Iraq's oil production and 70 percent of the profits, specified that up to two thirds of Iraq's known oil reserves would be developed by private companies and locked the government into 30-year contracts.
Unfortunately, the bad news still outweighs the good.
First, the committee has debated the new law in near total secrecy: almost no one—both outside of and within the Iraqi government, including the parliament—has seen it.
It is clear, however, based on press reports that the law allows foreign investment in Iraq's oil industry. It also grants foreign oil companies "national treatment," which means that the Iraqi government cannot give preference to Iraqi oil companies (whether public or privately owned) over foreign-owned companies when it chooses contractors. This provision alone will severely cripple the government's ability to ensure that Iraqis gain as much economic benefit as possible from their oil.
The questions left are: Under what terms and to what extent will Iraq's currently nationalized oil industry be turned over to foreign multinationals? How much of the revenue will stay in Iraq? And how much control will Iraqis themselves truly exercise over these decisions?
According to Reuters, the new law does not specifically include PSAs, but instead is vague as to what form of contract foreign oil companies will be able to sign in Iraq. In order to determine "the best model for its future contracts with international oil companies" the Iraqi government has arranged for fact-finding teams from the Iraqi Oil Ministry to visit the U.S., Britain and Norway.
"Why," you may ask, "are the Iraqis turning North for answers rather than, say, next door?" Next door they would find that Kuwait, Iran and Saudi Arabia all maintain nationalized oil systems and have outlawed foreign control over oil development. None use PSAs, but rather hire foreign oil companies as contractors to provide specific services, as needed, for a limited duration, without giving the foreign company any direct interest in the oil produced.
Instead, the fact-finding tour is skipping its neighbors and heading straight to those nations whose governments and corporations are putting the most pressure on Iraq to adopt PSAs. As Chevron Vice Chairman Peter Robertson said in 2003, "Although the final decision for inviting foreign investment ultimately rests with a representative Iraqi government, I believe in due course the invitation will come."
Most Iraqis remain in the dark about the new oil law. Iraq's oil workers had to travel to Jordan to learn details of the law from the London-based research organization Platform. As a result, in September, the nation's five trade union federations—between them representing hundreds of thousands of workers—released a public statement rejecting "the handing of control over oil to foreign companies, whose aim is to make big profits at the expense of the Iraqi people, and to rob the national wealth, according to long-term, unfair contracts, that undermine the sovereignty of the state and the dignity of the Iraqi people." They demanded a delay in consideration of any law until all Iraqis could be included in the discussion.
At the same time, the Bush administration and U.S. oil companies have been increasing public pressure on Iraqis to pass the law. The Iraq Study Group Report specifically (and publicly) called on the Bush administration to "assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise" and to "encourage investment in Iraq's oil sector by the international community and by international energy companies." (See "It’s Still About Oil in Iraq.") While the rest of the report was ignored, the administration ran with the oil recommendations. President Bush made his first public demand of the Iraqi government to pass the oil law in December—followed by the same demand from U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and General George W. Casey Jr., the senior American commander in Iraq. The call for a troop surge came next.
The Bush administration and U.S. oil companies (among others) are quite simply (and obscenely) taking advantage of an occupied, war-ravaged and internally divided nation to get control over as much oil as possible, and on the best possible terms. They are holding our troops—and the Iraqi people—hostage in order to get it. But, the removal of the PSAs makes clear that the extensive (although unreported) popular opposition and organizing in Iraq, the U.S., Britain and elsewhere against PSAs has succeeded, at least for now.
We have (at least) three opportunities in the next seven days to do more.
On January 20 and 21, people from around the country will are coming to Tacoma, Washington for the Citizens' Tribunal on the Legality of U.S. Action in Iraq. They are rallying in support of Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse to fight in the war.
On January 23, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will hold a hearing to investigate "oil and reconstruction strategy in Iraq." This offers a critical opportunity to demand a cessation of all U.S. government and corporate influence over Iraqis as to the future of their oil.
Then, on January 27, we can join others from across the country taking to the streets of Washington, D.C. (and elsewhere) to demand the end to both the military and corporate occupations of Iraq.
Is Energo-Fascism In Your Future= More Wars
Is Energo-Fascism In Your Future?
Michael T. Klare
January 17, 2007
Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author of Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependence on Imported Petroleum (Owl Books). This is the first of a two-part series; the second part will be posted on Thursday. This piece originally appeared at TomDispatch.
It has once again become fashionable for the dwindling supporters of President Bush's futile war in Iraq to stress the danger of "Islamo-fascism" and the supposed drive by followers of Osama bin Laden to establish a monolithic, Taliban-like regime—a "Caliphate"—stretching from Gibraltar to Indonesia. The President himself has employed this term on occasion over the years, using it to describe efforts by Muslim extremists to create "a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom." While there may indeed be hundreds, even thousands, of disturbed and suicidal individuals who share this delusional vision, the world actually faces a far more substantial and universal threat, which might be dubbed: Energo-fascism, or the militarization of the global struggle over ever-diminishing supplies of energy.
Unlike Islamo-fascism, Energo-fascism will, in time, affect nearly every person on the planet. Either we will be compelled to participate in or finance foreign wars to secure vital supplies of energy, such as the current conflict in Iraq; or we will be at the mercy of those who control the energy spigot, like the customers of the Russian energy juggernaut Gazprom in Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia; or sooner or later we may find ourselves under constant state surveillance, lest we consume more than our allotted share of fuel or engage in illicit energy transactions. This is not simply some future dystopian nightmare, but a potentially all-encompassing reality whose basic features, largely unnoticed, are developing today.
The transformation of the U.S. military into a global oil protection service whose primary mission is to defend America's overseas sources of oil and natural gas, while patrolling the world's major pipelines and supply routes.
The transformation of Russia into an energy superpower with control over Eurasia's largest supplies of oil and natural gas and the resolve to convert these assets into ever increasing political influence over neighboring states.
A ruthless scramble among the great powers for the remaining oil, natural gas, and uranium reserves of Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia, accompanied by recurring military interventions, the constant installation and replacement of client regimes, systemic corruption and repression, and the continued impoverishment of the great majority of those who have the misfortune to inhabit such energy-rich regions.
Increased state intrusion into, and surveillance of, public and private life as reliance on nuclear power grows, bringing with it an increased threat of sabotage, accident, and the diversion of fissionable materials into the hands of illicit nuclear proliferators.
Together, these and related phenomena constitute the basic characteristics of an emerging global Energo-fascism. Disparate as they may seem, they all share a common feature: increasing state involvement in the procurement, transportation, and allocation of energy supplies, accompanied by a greater inclination to employ force against those who resist the state's priorities in these areas. As in classical 20th century fascism, the state will assume ever greater control over all aspects of public and private life in pursuit of what is said to be an essential national interest: the acquisition of sufficient energy to keep the economy functioning and public services (including the military) running.
The Demand/Supply Conundrum
Powerful, potentially planet-altering trends like this do not occur in a vacuum. The rise of Energo-fascism can be traced to two overarching phenomena: an imminent collision between energy demand and energy supplies, and the historic migration of the center of gravity of planetary energy output from the global North to the global South.For the past 60 years, the international energy industry has largely succeeded in satisfying the world's ever-growing thirst for energy in all its forms. When it comes to oil alone, global demand jumped from 15 to 82 million barrels per day between 1955 and 2005, an increase of 450 percent. Global output rose by a like amount in those years. Worldwide demand is expected to keep growing at this rate, if not faster, for years to come—propelled in large part by rising affluence in China, India, and other developing nations. There is, however, no expectation that global output can continue to keep pace.
Quite the opposite: A growing number of energy experts believe that the global output of "conventional" (liquid) crude oil will soon reach a peak—perhaps as early as 2010 or 2015—and then begin an irreversible decline. If this proves to be the case, no amount of inputs from Canadian tar sands, shale oil, or other "unconventional" sources will prevent a catastrophic liquid-fuel shortage in a decade or so, producing widespread economic trauma. The global supply of other primary fuels, including natural gas, coal, and uranium is not expected to contract as rapidly, but all of these materials are finite, and will eventually become scarce.
Coal is the most plentiful of the three; if consumed at current rates, it can be expected to last for perhaps another century and a half. If, however, it is used to replace oil (in various coal-to-liquid schemes), it will disappear much more rapidly. This does not, of course, address coal's disproportionate contribution to global warming; if there is no change in the way it is burned in power plants, the planet will become inhospitable long before the last coal mine is exhausted.
Natural gas and uranium will outlast petroleum by a decade or two, but they too will eventually reach peak output and begin to decline. Natural gas will simply disappear, just like oil; any future scarcity of uranium can to some degree be overcome through the greater utilization of "breeder reactors," which produce plutonium as a byproduct; this substance can, in turn, be used as a reactor fuel in its own right. But any increased use of plutonium will also vastly increase the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation, producing a far more dangerous world and a corresponding requirement for greater government oversight of all aspects of nuclear power and commerce.
Such future possibilities are generating great anxiety among officials of the major energy-consuming nations, especially the United States, China, Japan, and the European powers. All of these countries have undertaken major reviews of energy policy in recent years, and all have come to the same conclusion: Market forces alone can no longer be relied upon to satisfy essential national energy requirements, and so the state must assume ever-increasing responsibility for performing this role. This was, for example, the fundamental conclusion of the National Energy Policy adopted by the Bush administration on May 17, 2001 and followed slavishly ever since, just as it is the official stance of China's Communist regime. When resistance to such efforts is encountered, moreover, government officials only wield the power of the state more regularly and with a heavier hand to achieve their objectives, whether through trade sanctions, embargoes, arrests and seizures, or the outright use of force. This is part of the explanation for Energo-fascism's emergence.
Its rise is also being driven by the changing geography of energy production. At one time, most of the world's major oil and natural gas wells were located in North America, Europe, and the European sectors of the Russian Empire. This was no accident. The major energy companies much preferred to operate in hospitable countries that were close at hand, relatively stable, and disinclined to nationalize private energy deposits. But these deposits have now largely been depleted and the only areas still capable of satisfying rising world demand are located in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
The countries in these regions were nearly all subject to colonial rule and still harbor deep distrust of foreign involvement; many also house ethnic separatist groups, insurgencies, or extremist movements that make them especially inhospitable to foreign oil companies. Oil production in Nigeria, for example, has been sharply curtailed in recent months by an insurgency in the impoverished Niger Delta . Members of poor tribal groups that have suffered terribly from the environmental devastation wrought by oil-company operations in their midst, while receiving few tangible benefits from the resulting oil revenues, have led the insurgency; most of the profits that remain in-country are pilfered by ruling elites in Abuja, the capital. Combine this sort of local resentment with lack of security and often shaky ruling groups, and it's hardly surprising that the leaders of the major consuming nations have increasingly been taking matters into their own hands—arranging pre-emptive oil deals with compliant local offic
ials and providing military protection, where needed, to ensure the safe delivery of oil and natural gas.
In many cases, this has resulted in the establishment of oil-driven, patron-client relations between major consuming nations and their leading suppliers, similar to the long-established U.S. protectorate over Saudi Arabia and the more recent U.S. embrace of Ilham Aliyev , the president of Azerbaijan. Already we have the beginnings of the energy equivalent of a classic arms race, combined with many of the elements of the "Great Game" as once played by colonial powers in some of the same parts of the world. By militarizing the energy policies of consuming nations and enhancing the repressive capacities of client regimes, the foundations are being laid for an Energo-fascist world.
The Pentagon: A Global Oil-Protection Service
The most significant expression of this trend has been the transformation of the U.S. military into a global oil-protection service whose primary function is the guarding of overseas energy supplies as well as their global delivery systems (pipelines, tanker ships, and supply routes). This overarching mission was first articulated by President Jimmy Carter in January 1980, when he described the oil flow from the Persian Gulf as a "vital interest" of the United States, and affirmed that this country would employ "any means necessary, including military force" to overcome an attempt by a hostile power to block that flow.
When President Carter issued this edict, quickly dubbed the Carter Doctrine, the United States did not actually possess any forces capable of performing this role in the Gulf. To fill this gap, Carter created a new entity, the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF), an ad hoc assortment of U.S-based forces designated for possible employment in the Middle East. In 1983, President Reagan transformed the RDJTF into the Central Command (CENTCOM), the name it bears today. CENTCOM exercises command authority over all U.S. combat forces deployed in the greater Persian Gulf area including Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa. At present, CENTCOM is largely preoccupied with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it has never given up its original role of guarding the oil flow from the Persian Gulf in accordance with the Carter Doctrine.
The greatest danger to the Persian Gulf oil flow is now said to emanate from Iran, which has threatened to choke off all oil shipments through the vital Strait of Hormuz (the narrow passageway at the mouth of the Gulf) in the event of an American air assault on its nuclear facilities. In possible anticipation of such a move, the Pentagon recently ordered additional air and naval forces into the Gulf and replaced General John Abizaid, the CENTCOM Commander, who favored diplomatic engagement with Iran and Syria, with Admiral William Fallon, the Commander of the Pacific Command (PACOM) and an expert in combined air and naval operations. Fallon arrived at CENTCOM just as President Bush, in a nationally televised speech on January 10, announced the deployment of an additional carrier battle group to the Gulf and warned of harsh military action against Iran if it failed to halt its support for insurgents in Iraq and its pursuit of uranium-enrichment technology.
When first promulgated in 1980, the Carter Doctrine was aimed principally at the Persian Gulf and surrounding waters. In recent years, however, American policymakers have concluded that the United States must extend this kind of protection to every major oil-producing region in the developing world. The logic for a Carter Doctrine on a global scale was first spelled out in a bipartisan task force report, "The Geopolitics of Energy," published by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in November 2000. Because the United States and its allies are becoming increasingly dependent on energy supplies from unstable overseas suppliers, the report concluded, "[T]he geopolitical risks attendant to energy availability are not likely to abate." Under these circumstances, "the United States, as the world's only superpower, must accept its special responsibilities for preserving access to worldwide energy supply."
This sort of thinking—embraced by senior Democrats and Republicans alike—appears to have governed American strategic thinking since the late 1990s. It was President Clinton who first put this policy into effect, by extending the Carter Doctrine to the Caspian Sea basin. It was Clinton who originally declared that the flow of oil and gas from the Caspian Sea to the West was an American security priority, and who, on this basis, established military ties with the governments of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. President Bush has substantially upgraded these ties—thereby laying the groundwork for a permanent U.S. military presence in the region—but it is important to view this as a bipartisan effort in accordance with a shared belief that protection of the global oil flow is increasingly not just a vital function, but the vital function of the American military.
More recently, President Bush has extended the reach of the Carter Doctrine to West Africa, now one of America's major sources of oil. Particular emphasis is being placed on Nigeria, where unrest in the Delta (which holds most of the country's onshore petroleum fields) has produced a substantial decline in oil output. "Nigeria is the fifth largest source of U.S. oil imports," the State Department's Fiscal Year 2007 Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations declares, "and disruption of supply from Nigeria would represent a major blow to U.S. oil security strategy." To prevent such a disruption, the Department of Defense is providing Nigerian military and internal security forces with substantial arms and equipment intended to quell unrest in the Delta region; the Pentagon is also collaborating with Nigerian forces in a number of regional patrol and surveillance efforts aimed at improving security in the Gulf of Guinea, where most of West Africa's offshore oil and gas fields are located.
Of course, senior officials and foreign policy elites are generally loath to acknowledge such crass motivations for the utilization of military force—they much prefer to talk about spreading democracy and fighting terrorism. Every once in a while, however, a hint of this deep energy-based conviction rises to the surface. Especially revealing is a November 2006 task force report from the Council on Foreign Relations on "National Security Consequences of U.S. Oil Dependency ." Co-chaired by former Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger and former CIA Director John Deutsch, and endorsed by a slew of elite policy wonks from both parties, the report trumpeted the usual to-be-ignored calls for energy efficiency and conservation at home, but then struck just the militaristic note first voiced in the 2000 CSIS report (which Schlesinger also co-chaired): "Several standard operations of U.S. regionally deployed forces (presumably CENTCOM and PACOM) have made important contributions to improving energy security, and the continuation of such efforts will be necessary in the future. U.S. naval protection of the sea lanes that transport oil is of paramount importance." The report also called for stepped up U.S. naval engagement in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Nigeria.
When expressing such views, U.S. policymakers often adopt an altruistic stance, claiming that the United States is performing a "social good" by protecting the global oil flow on behalf of the world community. But this haughty, altruistic posture ignores crucial aspects of the situation:
First, the United States is the world's leading gas guzzler, accounting for one out of every four barrels of oil consumed daily around the world.
Second, the pipelines and sea lanes being protected by American soldiers and sailors at risk of life and limb are largely those oriented toward the United States and close allies like Japan and the NATO countries.
Third, it is often specifically American-based corporations whose overseas operations are being protected by U.S. forces in turbulent areas abroad, again at significant risk to the military personnel involved.
Fourth, the Pentagon is itself one of the world's great oil guzzlers, consuming 134 million barrels of oil in 2005, as much as the entire nation of Sweden.
So while it is true that other countries may obtain some benefits from the activities of the American military, the primary beneficiaries are the American economy and giant U.S. corporations; the primary losers are the American soldiers who risk their lives every day to protect the pipelines and refineries, the poor of these countries who see little or no benefit from the extraction of their natural resources, and the global environment as a whole.
The cost of this immense undertaking, in both blood and treasure, is enormous and it's still on the rise. There is, first of all, the war in Iraq, which may have been sparked by a variety of motives, but cannot in the end be separated from the historic mission first laid out by President Carter of eliminating any potential threat to the free flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. An assault on Iran would also have a number of motives, but it, too, would be tied to this mission in the final analysis—even if it had the perverse effect of closing off oil supplies, driving up energy prices, and throwing the global economy into a tailspin. And there are sure to be more wars over oil after these, with more American casualties and more victims of American missiles and bullets.
The cost in dollars will also be great. Even if the war in Iraq is excluded from the tally, the United States spends about one-fourth of its defense budget, or some $100 billion per year, on Persian Gulf-related expenses—the approximate annual price-tag for enforcement of the Carter Doctrine. One can argue about what percentage of the approximately $1 trillion cost of the war in Iraq should be added to this tally, but surely we are minimally talking about many hundreds of billions of dollars with no end in sight. Protection of pipelines and tanker routes in the Indian Ocean, the Pacific, the Gulf of Guinea, Colombia, and the Caspian Sea region adds additional billions to this figure.
These costs will snowball in the future as the United States becomes predictably more dependent on energy from the global South, as resistance to Western exploitation of its oil fields grows, as an energy race with newly ascendant China and India revs up, and as American foreign-policy elites come to rely increasingly on the U.S. military to overcome this resistance. Eventually, the escalation of these costs will require higher domestic taxes or diminished social benefits, or both; at some point, the growing need for manpower to guard all these overseas oil fields, refineries, pipelines, and tanker routes could entail resumption of the military draft. This will generate widespread resistance to these policies at home—and this, in turn, may trigger the sorts of repressive government crackdowns that would throw an ever darkening shadow of Energo-fascism over our world.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
More Sacrifices on Altar of Evil
Photo at right: Cpl. Jason Dunham, awarded Medal of Honor ; died in service in Iraq saving lives of his men; killed by insurgent's grenade.
See story at:http://imperial-sacrifices.blogspot.com/2006/12/another-sacrifice-on-altar-of-evil.html
More: more photos, text, audio, video at
More of our children slaughtered: From Houston Chronicle, Sunday, January 21, 2007 - pg. A-1
On one of the deadliest days for the U.S. military since the Iraq war began, an American helicopter crashed ..., killing all 13 aboard ... . Iraqi officials ... said it had been shot down ... .Elsewhere, five U.S. soldiers were killed and three wounded in a battle with gunmen ... and two soldiers died from other attacks ... .>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
How many more will be sacrificed for imperial world domination ambitions in an illegal war waged by lies. Our sons and daughters honor their committment to the military , to their homeland and to each other, bravely doing their duty and dying for a false cause. Over 3,000 now lie dead and an unknown number injured, maimed, and suffering mental trauma - unknown because the American people are misled about the numbers. When will it stop? After 50,000-plus as in Korea, after 50,000 plus as in Vietnam? If Bush involves us in a world conflagration, how many then? How many civilians of various nations will be rendered homeless, dead, maimed? How much more hatred and disrespect for America will be generated? WA
Cross Posted from Is America Burning
Who Is More Worthy ?
One day after Bush presented the Medal of Honor to the mother of the dead marine, Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., ordered his aides to investigate how much gold was in the medal. His staff discovered that the medals were of brass covered with a thin veneer of gold. The Army's version cost $29.95 and the AirForce's design cost $75.
In contrast, the Congressional Medal of Honor, frequently awarded to dignitaries and celebrities (as well as to some military officers of high rank) is 90% gold and costs $30,000 ! The medal given "to Frank Sinatra is worth a thousand times more than the ones we give our heroes in uniform," Baca said. "Ain't that a shame?"
Contrary to popular belief, the Congressional Medal of Honor is NOT the same as the military Medal of Honor.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_Gold_Medal_of_Honor
Many names on that list were worthy of an honor and I have no quarrell with them being so honored. I like Frank Sinatra's songs just fine but I find it doubtful that he was worthy of a $30,000 medal when a marine who sacrificed his life to save his buddies was worth only $29.95 !!
My squawk echos Rep. Baca's. Our military members who perform an outstanding act of bravery, usually sacrificing their own lives in so doing, deserve no less than those honored civilians. Was Frank Sinatra's singing more valuable than Cpl. Jason Dunham's heroism?
So what was the Pentagon's response to Rep. Baca's bill to require the Pentagon to put more real gold in the medals? The Pentagon opposes it because it would cost $2 million over the next five years. 1). they must expect to award a lot more Medals of Honor in the next five years! Do they expect the war to escalate THAT much? and 2). what is $2 million compared to the trillions being spent on this hellish, illegal war? Don't the soldiers who die in this war deserve a little bit of those trillions?
Since the inception of the Medal of Honor in the Civil War, it has been awarded only 3,459 times, and almost half were awarded to Civil War soldiers. More than half who received it did not survive the action for which it was awarded.
http://www.pbs.org/weta/americanvalor/history check out the sites on the sidebar.
Oh yes, the Pentagon also said that "the true beauty of the Medal of Honor is reflected in both the detailed heraldic design and the quality of the manufacturing process." Um-hummm! Doesn't the same hold true for those medals awarded to civilians? Give THEM $29.95 medals.
How does this grab you?
Source: Houston Chronicle, Sunday, January 21, 2007 pg. A5
Cross posted from Is America Burning.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
US Complicity With Saddam
US complicity with Saddam: [VIDEO]
Posted by Barry Lando at 4:57 AM on January 17, 2007.
The documentary you've never seen !
A documentary I reported, along with French jounralist Michel Despratx, for Canal + in France, has been broadcast in much of the world, but never in the United States. It details Western--and particularly U.S.-- complicity with the crimes of Saddam Hussein--such as his use of chemical weapons first against Iranian troops, then against his own Iraqi Kurds. Back then, of course, the U.S. was backing Saddam, their de facto ally, against Khomeini. Video one, to the right...
Part Two:In the late 1980's Saddam also used chemical weapons as part of his genocidal campaign against the Iraqi Kurds..for which he and his confederates have been put on trial--Saddam, of course, no longer in the dock. His de facto American allies turned their back on those crimes. Watch second video, right....
[UPDATE: A reader has "dugg" this post, a way to spread it to more than the usual suspects... go HERE to help spread it]
My book, Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush, will be available in book stores in the U.S. and Canada this month. Also available at Amazon and other major on-line dealers.
Broadcasters interested in inquiring about the full 54 minute documentary, "The Trial of Saddam Hussein We'll Never See", click here
Tagged as: rumsfeld, u.s. complicity, trial of saddam, saddam hussein
Barry Lando, a former 60 Minutes producer, is the author of "Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush." He also blogs at Barrylando.com.
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Saturday, January 13, 2007
Cross Post: The Speech; by Granny
No, I didn't watch it. I don't hang around at train wrecks either.
I wish I had a little more time for research and writing but I don't. I try to keep up a little with reading my mail. This was there today and I selected it as the best of the articles I've looked at so far. It's very long but if you have time, it's worth reading.
Reprinted in Truthout today:
Surging from Kenai; Bush's Sacrificial Americans
By Tom Engelhardt;A Surge of Bodies
On January 4th, the Pentagon "announced the identities" of six American soldiers who had died between December 28th and New Year's Eve. It was just one of many such listings over these last years and, like similar announcements, this one had a just-the-facts quality to it -- spare to the bone, barely more information than you would get from a POW: rank, age, place of birth, date of death, place of death, type of death, and the unit to which the dead soldier belonged.
These announcements, which blend seamlessly into one another, also blend the dead into a relatively uniform mass. You can, of course, learn nothing from such skeletal reports about the dreams of these young men (and sometimes women), their hopes or fears, their plans for the future or lack of them, their talents and skills, their problems, their stray thoughts or deepest convictions, their worlds, and those who cared about them.So few paragraphs are almost bound to emphasize not the individuality of the dead, but their similarity in death.
Five of these soldiers died due to roadside explosives (IEDs), one from small-arms fire. Two died in Baghdad; two in Baqubah; the embattled capital of Diyala Province, north of Baghdad, where civil war rages; one in Ramadi, the capital of al-Anbar Province, the heartland of the Sunni insurgency; and one in Taji, also in the "Sunni Triangle." None had a rank higher than sergeant. The oldest was only 22; the youngest, 20.
Another thing five of the six had in common was not coming from a major American city.In order of population:Pvt. David E. Dietrich came from Marysville, Pennsylvania, (population, 2,428 in 2005), not far from Harrisburg.Pfc. Alan R. Blohm came from Kenai, Alaska (population, 7,166 in 2003), 150 miles south of Anchorage.Cpl. Jonathan E. Schiller came from Ottumwa, Iowa, (population 24,998 in 2000), best known as the home of Radar O'Reilly in the TV show M*A*S*H. It supposedly has "the highest unsolved murder rate (per capita) in the free world."Sgt. John M. Sullivan came from Hixson, Tennessee (population 37,507).Spc. Luis G. Ayala came from South Gate, California (population of 103,547), part of Los Angeles and once the home of a huge General Motors plant.Spc. Richard A. Smith came from Grand Prairie, Texas, population 145,600 in 2005. "Legend has it," the Wikipedia tells us, "that the town was renamed after a famous female actor stepped off the train and exclaimed ‘My, what a grand prairie!'
"Some of them, in other words, grew up in places with vanishingly small populations but even those who didn't came from places you're likely to have heard of only if you grew up there yourself. As Lizette Alvarez and Andrew Lehren put it, in examining the last thousand American deaths in Iraq for the New York Times:"The service members who died during this latest period fit an unchanging profile. They were mostly white men from rural areas, soldiers so young they still held fresh memories of high school football heroics and teenage escapades. Many men and women were in Iraq for the second or third time. Some were going on their fourth, fifth or sixth deployment."
All you have to do is look through the most recent of these Pentagon announcements of deaths in Iraq to find more evidence of that parade of places you just haven't heard of: Vassar, Michigan (pop. 2,823), Paris, Tennessee (pop. 9,763), Wasilla, Alaska (pop. 5,470), Tamarac, Florida (pop. 55,588), New Castle, Delaware (pop. 4,836), and Vancouver, Washington (pop. 157,493).This isn't new. You could say, in fact, that here, as elsewhere in the American experience of war in Iraq, the Vietnam analogy seems to apply, at least to a degree. Historian Chris Appy in his book Working-Class War comments:"Rural and small-town America may have lost more men in Vietnam, proportionately, than did even central cities and working-class suburbs… It is not hard to find small towns that lost more than one man in Vietnam. Empire, Alabama, for example, had four men out of a population of only 400 die in Vietnam -- four men from a town in which only a few dozen boys came of draft age during the entire war."
But in the present all-volunteer military at the height of an increasingly catastrophic, ever less popular war, this trend toward sacrificing the overlooked young from overlooked American communities seems especially pronounced.What does this mean, practically speaking? Assistant Professor James Moody of Duke University recently estimated that somewhere between 4.3 and 6.5 million Americans "may know people who were killed or wounded in the recent fighting" in Iraq and Afghanistan. That may sound like a lot of people, but as Globalsecurity.org's director John Pike put the matter, "The probability of knowing a casualty was about 100 times higher in [World War II] than today." Similar figures for the Vietnam years would have been significantly higher than the present ones as well (and, of course, the omnipresence of the draft gave so many more Americans a sense of being at war).
As University of Maryland sociology professor David Segal put the matter, in considering Moody's research, "The bottom line is that the American military is at war, but American society is not. Even in Vietnam, everybody knew somebody who was killed or wounded."When, last night, the President announced that he had already "committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq," when he "surges" them into Baghdad and al-Anbar Province, he is surging from Kenai, from Wasilla, from South Gate. And he is ensuring a spate of future Pentagon "announcements" that will again take us to what's left of the hamlets, villages, small towns, and out of the way smaller cities of this country, the places Americans increasingly don't notice.When the President talks to us, as he did last night, about "a year ahead that will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve," this is who he is mainly sacrificing.
Today, in our civilized world, we are shocked when we read of the bloody rites, the human sacrifices, of the Aztecs whose priests ripped hearts, still beating, from human chests to appease their bloodthirsty gods. These were, of course, the hearts of captives. In all his fervor, George W. Bush looks ever more like an American high priest who, for his own bloody gods, is similarly ripping hearts from the chests of the living. Make no mistake, in his speech last night, he was offering up human sacrifices from the captive villages and towns of the United States on the altar of blind faith and pure, abysmal folly.
A Surge of Words: In our country, last night's "surge" was mainly a surge of words, twenty-minutes worth, 2,898 of them. In the build-up to the speech, as almost every last detail of it was leaked to the media, untold hundreds of thousands of words surged onto news pages, onto the TV news, into talk radio chatter, and on-line -- and so many hundreds of thousands more, these included, will follow in the days to come.As Gail Russell Chaddock of the Christian Science Monitor wrote, the President's "new way forward" plan is guaranteed to run into a "wall of words on Capitol Hill," but, she added, "not much more." The New York Times front-paged that the Democrats were planning "symbolic votes" against the President's plan "which would do nothing in practical terms to block Mr. Bush's intention to increase the United States military presence in Iraq."
Practical terms means, not words but Congress's undeniable power of the purse, and so its right to deny at least some part of the tsunami of money the Bush administration is demanding to carry out its latest plan. Only in recent days has the possibility of using the purse to rein in the war begun to make its way from the distant frontiers of critical pariah-hood onto at least some mainstream agendas.In the lead-up to Bush's speech to the nation, almost nowhere did words not surge -- despite the odd irony that the President did not actually use the word "surge" in his speech.
Amid the deluge of words, only George Bush resorted to the resounding sound of silence. As Howard Fineman wrote in Newsweek:"[T]he new chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee -- Carl Levin, an important character now -- sent Bush a private letter three weeks ago offering his counsel. Levin never got a reply. Bush can be just as deaf to Republicans. At a recent White House ceremony, Sen. Susan Collins offered to brief him on her Iraq visit. He responded by escorting her to the office of his deputy national-security adviser -- and then left before she told her story.
"Given the crisis atmosphere, much of the speech itself, when the President was not plodding through his tactical changes in Iraq or offering insincere thanks to James Baker's Iraq Study Group, was remarkably ordinary Bush boilerplate. The newest (and most ominous) note struck hardly related to Iraq at all. It lay in these two lines clearly aimed at Iran, a country the Study Group wanted to draw into negotiations: "I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence sharing ¬ and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies."
At a moment when at least one American air strike had just taken place in Somalia, it hinted at a different kind of surge entirely.Otherwise, we had heard it all, including the plan, before. The President struck only a few Iraq notes that, with a modest stretch of the imagination, might be called new and which are already all over the news. He called the situation in Iraq "unacceptable to the American people" and to him. (No mention was made of the Iraqis, of course).
He offered this: "Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me," which, though already being headlined, managed in typical fashion to sound as if he was somehow taking responsibility for mistakes he had little or nothing to do with making.
He did speak of "benchmarks" twice -- "So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced…" -- but where exactly those "marks" were and how the Iraqis were to be held to them no one listening to the speech could have had a clue. Perhaps the single novel statement was this one: "I have made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended." Of course, it too went utterly undefined, but assumedly when the present surge fails, it does leave the President some vague kind of out, were he ever to decide to use it.
When it came to much of the rest of the speech, you could easily have taken his address to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001, or his September 11, 2006 anniversary address on the World Trade Center attacks, shaken the words up and simply dumped them randomly into last night's speech without reaching for a bit of new vocabulary. As in either of those previous speeches, he created his usual hair-raisingly Manichaean vision of an embattled us-and-them world (one he and his top officials have worked assiduously to bring into being), of simple good and pure evil (though, a rarity for him, he did not actually use the word "evil" last night), of longed-for security and utter terror.If you were simply to do a word count comparison to his 9/11 anniversary speech (almost 400 words shorter), there would be little way, except possibly by the rise in the use of the word "sectarian," to note the passage of time in Iraq.
Just to take the dystopian side of his official presidential vision, here are some word counts from last night (with the September counts in parentheses).Terror, terrorists: 13 (17)Violence, violent: 13 (3)Sectarian: 9 (1)Al Qaeda: 10 (3)Extreme/ists: 6 (6)Enemies: 5 (14)Attack: 5 (13)Insurgents: 5 (0)Kill, Killing, Killers: 4 (3)Fight, fighters, fighting: 4 (6)War: 3 (13)Struggle: 3 (4)Death, Deadly: 3 (1)Islamic (Radical Empire, Radical Extremists): 2 (1)Murder, Murderers: 2 (1)Threat: 1 (6)Defeat: 1 (5)Destroy, Destruction: 2 (2)Hateful: 1 (2)Danger, Dangerous: 2 (1)Aggressive: 1 (1)Conflict: 1 (1)
On our side of the black/white divide were all his (and his speechwriters') usual favorites: "protect," "secure," "defend," "democracy," "liberty," and even, against all expectations, not just "success" and its cognates, as well as "prevail," but "victory" itself (twice), even though it long ago went missing in action in the real world.Awkwardly, even uncomfortably delivered, last night's Way-Forward-in-Iraq speech was, in sum, a speech to be forgotten, a speech certain to be buried -- and quickly -- in the coming carnage.
And here's a strange footnote to the administration's surge of words. The most secretive White House in our history, ever ready to accuse others of leaking or releasing information that could hurt national security, has over the last week essentially released the full American "surge" plan for the Baghdad area -- as if we weren't in one world, as if those resisting the American military didn't watch CNN and couldn't read our press on-line like anyone else. Whether you belong to a Sunni insurgent group, al-Qaeda in Iraq, or Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, you now know that the American plan involves dividing the Iraqi capital into nine sections; more or less how many American (as well as Iraqi) troops and police will be assigned to live in each of them; that new mini-bases for the surging Americans will be created throughout the city, and so on.
Given administration and military leaks, copious official background briefings for the media, Bush's speech, and the endless comments of key neocon planners and presidential briefers Frederick Kagan and retired General Jack Keane, can there be anyone on our planet who doesn't know a great deal about the American "way forward" and the exact schedule on which it is to be rolled out? Since the President's plan sounds so much like past "surges" into Baghdad, military and economic, just as the speech itself caught so many past presidential speech patterns, planning to avoid, outwait, outfight, or outwit it should be well underway as you read this.
The Man Who Met the Man Who Shot Abu Masab al-Zarqawi: On January 2nd, there was a strange piece of news buried in a back paragraph of a front-page New York Times story by the reportorial team of David E. Sanger, Michael R. Gordon, and John F. Burns. It had the wonderful headline, "Chaos Overran Iraq Plan in '06, Bush Team Says" (as if they were just standing around, when the tsunami of chaos happened to hit…) and here was the passage:"By May 2006, uneasy officials at the State Department and the National Security Council argued for a review of Iraq strategy. A meeting was convened at Camp David to consider those approaches, according to participants in the session, but Mr. Bush left early for a secret visit to Baghdad, where he reviewed the war plans with General Casey and Mr. Maliki, and met with the American pilot whose plane's missiles killed Iraq's Al Qaeda leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He returned to Washington in a buoyant mood."The italics are mine. And yes, the week after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi took an American missile in the teeth, the President made a visit to Baghdad, so quick and secret that even he hardly knew he was there.
At the time, the American death toll had just hit 2,500. As a signal of trust, the new Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, was given a full five-minutes notice that he was about to have the President of the United States look him "in the eye."All of this was covered in our news, including a presidential meeting with cheering American troops and Bush's comments on his return flight -- that seem as up-to-date as last night's surge speech -- "I assured [the Iraqis] that we'll keep our commitment. I also made it clear to them that in order for us to keep our commitment and be successful, they themselves have to do some hard things. They themselves have to set an agenda. They themselves have to get some things accomplished."
This is the sort of thing that, almost seven months later, gives you confidence that the "new way forward" is, in fact, the traditional way backward.At a moment when the Iraqi situation was already visibly devolving into chaos, civil war, and catastrophe, that the President came home "buoyant" remains a striking detail, more so perhaps because of the fervor with which he described his own mood at the time. "I was," he claimed, "inspired."But what was it that actually "inspired" him that week in June 2006? The death of Zarqawi certainly. The President, whose approach to his war is unnervingly personal, had built up Zarqawi's importance not just to the American public but evidently in his own mind until the man stood practically co-equal with the ever-missing Osama bin Laden.
So, it may not be surprising that he would have wanted to meet the pilot whose plane's missiles killed Zarqawi -- but it's still news, all these months later, and revealing news at that.You can search the coverage of that June moment from MSNBC and the Washington Post to Fox News in vain for mention of it. All I found was this oblique reference in a presidential radio address: "…And I was honored to meet with some of our troops, including those responsible for bringing justice to the terrorist Zarqawi."At the time, no one in the media seems to have picked up on the meeting with the pilot, although presidential doings of any sort are usually closely scrutinized. Even the White House, it appears, chose not to publicize it. So I think we have to assume that the meeting may actually have represented a private presidential desire (or, at least, the decision of someone who knew that this would give Bush special satisfaction).
If so, it catches something of the character of the man who is now so ready to surge other people's sons and daughters onto the streets of Baghdad.It's reasonable to assume that, in his heart of hearts, George Bush never really wanted to be President and, before the 9/11 attacks woke him up, many observers noted that he acted that way. On the eve of the 2001 attacks, even Republicans were griping that he wasn't into the nation's business, just the business of vacationing at the "ranch" in Crawford, Texas. One Republican congressman complained that "it was hard for Mr. Bush to get his message out if the White House lectern had a ‘Gone Fishing' sign on it."
What 9/11 seems to have awoken in him was a desire not so much to be President as to be Commander-in-Chief (or maybe sheriff). It's an urge that anyone who grew up in the darkened movie theaters of the 1950s, watching American war films and Westerns, might understand. Sooner or later, most of us, of course, left behind those thrilling screen moments in which Americans gloriously advanced to victory and the good guys did what was necessary to put the bad guys down, but my own suspicion has long been that George W. Bush did not -- and that avoiding the conflicts of the Vietnam-era helped him remain a silver-screen warrior.
In launching his Global War on Terror and the "hunt" for Osama bin Laden, the President famously said, "I want justice. And there's an old poster out West... I recall, that said, 'Wanted, Dead or Alive.'" That "old poster" was, of course, "recalled" from childhood cowboy movies, not from any West he ever experienced. Similarly, from his "Top Gun," Mission-Accomplished moment landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln to the way he kept his own "personal scorecard of the war" (little bios with accompanying photos of leading al-Qaeda figures, which he crossed out as U.S. forces took them down), from his visible pleasure in appearing before hoo-aahing American troops wearing G.I. Joe doll-style dress-up jackets (often with "commander-in-chief" stitched across his heart) to his petulant "bring ‘em on" comment of game-playing frustration when the Iraqi insurgency wouldn't go away, it's hard not to register his childish urge for role-playing.
Every signal we have indicates that he experienced himself as, and savored finding himself in, the specific role of Commander-in-Chief, and that he has been genuinely thrilled to do commander-in-chief-like things and act in commander-in-chief-like ways, at least as once pictured in the on-screen fantasy world of his youth. Being the man who met (and congratulated) the man who shot Abu Musab al-Zarqawi certainly qualifies, even if the antiseptic act of missiling a house from a jet isn't quite the equivalent of the showdown at the OK Corral, six-gun in hand. In other words, George Bush dreams of himself in High Noon, while, in reality, he's directing a horror movie or a snuff film.
This is all so woefully infantile for the leader of the globe's last superpower. Take his response to being presented with the pistol found near Saddam Hussein when he was finally captured in his "spiderhole" in 2004. According to Time Magazine's Matthew Cooper that same year:"Sources say that the military had the pistol mounted after the soldiers seized it from Saddam and that it was then presented to the President privately by some of the troops who played a key role in ferreting out the old tyrant. Though it was widely reported at the time that the pistol was loaded when they grabbed Saddam, Bush has told visitors that the gun was empty--and that it is still empty and safe to touch. ‘He really liked showing it off,' says a recent visitor to the White House who has seen the gun. ‘He was really proud of it.' The pistol's new place of residence is in the small study next to the Oval Office where Bush takes select visitors…
"The military knew their man -- or perhaps boy; someone deeply involved not in the actual bloody carnage of Iraq, but in a fantasy Iraq War of his own imagining, a man who could still tell us last night: "We can and we will prevail" and predict "victory." This is the man who is now going to launch an "aggressive effort" to sell Congress and the American people on further madness and bloody carnage in Iraq. And this is the plan after which, according to Neil King Jr. and Greg Jaffe of the Wall Street Journal, may come the already named "nightmare scenario" -- civil and regional war across the Middle East -- according to some worried American officials and Arab diplomats. This is the man who holds in his hands the lives of countless Iraqis and tens of thousands of Americans about to be sent into Hell.
It's no news that George W. Bush has been living in a bubble world created by his handlers, but it's hard not to believe that his own personal "bubble" isn't far more longstanding than that. The problem, of course, is that only Mr. Bush and a few neocon stragglers are left inside the theater still showing his Iraq War movie. The Iraqis aren't there. The man who pushed the button to shoot that missile surely wasn't; nor were Zarqawi's Shiite victims; nor were the 120 or more Iraqis who died this Tuesday, including the 41 bodies found dumped throughout Baghdad and the five found scattered around Mosul; nor was Dustin Donica, the 3,000th American who died in the war; nor was Pfc. Alan R. Blohm from Kenai, Alaska. None of them could put up a "Wanted Dead or Alive" poster, cross-out the faces of the bad guys, land gloriously on an aircraft carrier, or dress up for war -- and then go home "inspired."
They had the misfortune to be in a horrific reality into which a President, thoroughly in the dark, had sent them stumbling.Now, George W. Bush is about to send even more young (and some not so young) Americans from hamlets, small towns, distant suburbs, and modest-sized cities all over America on yet another "last chance" mission. Perhaps he's even still dreaming of that moment when, in those movies of old, the Marine Corps Hymn suddenly welled up and, against all odds, our troops started forward and the enemy began to fall. But before we're done, if there's a commander he might bring to mind, it's not likely to be George Patton, but George Armstrong Custer.
What if that last chance comes to look more like a last stand? The least the President could do for the rest of us is step out of the dark of his brain, where those old films still flicker, and look around. If only…
Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's Tomdispatch.com ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and, most recently, the author of Mission Unaccomplished: Tomdispatch Interviews with American Iconoclasts and Dissenters (Nation Books), the first collection of Tomdispatch interviews.[Note: Special thanks go to Nick Turse for his research prowess and endless support.]Copyright 2007 Tom Engelhardt
#PermanentLink posted by Granny @ 1/11/2007 04:29:00 PM 3 people speaking out - links to this post
Cross posted from Is America Burning. http://isamericaburning.blogspot.com/2007/01/the-speech.html
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