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Here’s a clip from Juan Cole…

Go on in and read the whole thing before you have to deal with a Republican-instigated War on Iran.

And if you are against the idea, sign the petition.

clipped from www.juancole.com

Repubs Plot Israel-Iran Apocalypse and the Collapse of the US Economy

The National Iranian American Council has a petition you can sign calling on minority leader John Boehner to repudiate this measure.
The move is reminiscent of the 1998 letter the Project for a New American Century signatories sent to President Clinton, putting pressure on him to initiate war on Iraq. They did maneuver him into pulling out UN weapons inspectors and bombing Iraq.
Iraq’s opaqueness as a result of the Clinton actions allowed the Bill Kristol crowd and the rest of the Israel, war industry and oil lobbies to propagandize America into the fruitless and ruinous Iraq War.
Think about how weird it is. Nearly half of Republicans in the House are from the South, which has relatively few Jewish Americans. So this resolution is likely emanating from the Christian Zionists like John Hagee (who once said that God sent Hitler to punish the Jews for being outside Israel).
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So what is Obama going to do with General Stanley McChrystal?

We should find out today. The General has been called in to have a face-to-face with the President, plus there will be a meeting of all the civilian and military folks who plan this war in Afghanistan, including those cabinet members and the Vice President that McChrystal and his staff also insulted in the Rolling Stone article.

Every different pundit is guessing that either something…or nothing (more like Obama’s record so far)… will happen.  McChrystal may be fired, or just brought down a peg in public, or stripped of his associates, or… well you get the idea,

James Fallows, in The Atlantic, yesterday, said the following:

If the facts are as they appear — McChrystal and his associates freely mocking their commander in chief and his possible successor (ie, Biden) and the relevant State Department officials (Holbrooke and Eikenberry) — with no contention that the quotes were invented or misconstrued, then Obama owes it to past and future presidents to draw the line and say: this is not tolerable. You must go. McChrystal’s team was inexplicably reckless in talking before a reporter this way, but that’s a separate question. The fact is — or appears to be — that they did it.

I agree with Fallows. This is what should happen. But there have been enough occasions that everyone thought Obama would do something, and he did something else… pulled back or underplayed one thing or another.

Obama could also have McChrystal courtmartialed under existing law. Spencer Ackerman in the very conservative Washington Independent looks at it this way:

Regardless of whether McChrystal should be fired — there’s, frankly, a compelling case to be made when considering the Uniform Code of Military Justice’s penalty of court martial for “any commissioned officer [using] contemptuous words” against the civilian chain of command — my guess is that he won’t be. Obama summoned McChrystal back to Washington pretty much immediately after the story hit, which suggests that he’s not thinking about a wholesale revision of his strategy.

So now we wait and see what Obama does. Will he get rid of McChrystal and secure the authority of civilian control of the military? Will he humiliate McChrystal and let him hang about on the vine with his staff, then keep him in place… thus keeping the Afghanistan action in place without change?

My guess is that McChrystal keeps his job and this stupid war goes on undiminished.

I hope I’m wrong.

If you read nothng else today, please read Bob Herbert’s column in the New York Times…

It is called Our Epic Foolishness, it sums up clearly where we are right now:

If a bank is too big to fail, it’s way too big to exist. If an oil well is too far beneath the sea to be plugged when something goes wrong, it’s too deep to be drilled in the first place.

When are we going to stop behaving so stupidly? We nearly wrecked the economy and we’re all but buried in debt. But we can’t break up the biggest banks, and we can’t raise taxes. Now we’re fouling the magnificent Gulf of Mexico and ruining entire communities along the southern Louisiana Coast.

And, by the way, we’re still fighting a futile war in Afghanistan that we’ve been fighting with nonstop futility for nearly a decade. (I’m sure the troops saddled with this thankless task were thrilled to see fans and teams demonstrating their undying support for their efforts by wearing fancy baseball caps on Memorial Day.)

Herbert goes over the things we have to do… develop non-fossil fuel energy, weatherize our homes, creation of a carbon tax to force down use, etc, etc, etc… and expresses his doubts that it will happen.

All around us is the wreckage of our failure to master the challenges confronting us. We see it in the many millions of Americans who remain out of work and whose hopes are not rising despite all the talk of economic recovery. We see it in the schools where teachers are walking the plank by the scores of thousands because of state and local budget problems.

We see it in the shrinking middle class and in the black community where depressionlike conditions are fostering not just a sense of helplessness, but despair.

What’s needed is dynamic leadership (it doesn’t have to come from the top) to reinvigorate the spirit of America and turn that sense of helplessness around.

Doesn’t have to come from the top? That’s good… it doesn’t seem to be coming from there now.

Why Afghanistan is not worth the money the Pentagon is throwing into it…

This from Steve Clemons at The Washington Note:

The real GDP of Afghanistan is just about $14 billion.

And at current levels, the United States is spending nearly half the entire GDP of the nation in just 30 days — that’s right, half Afghanistan’s entire GDP!

This simply makes no sense. This is a huge misallocation of resources even if one believed that Afghanistan did represent a vital national security problem for the US. If one wanted to change the economic vector of the country, preferential trade and access to European, American, and Japanese markets would be one way to change the country’s course — though there would be politically consequential disruptions to firms and labor in the US that should receive impact support.

The costs would be trivial compared to what the Pentagon is demanding for a job that it is not designed for and in which it is not succeeding.

And I am getting so disappointed with Obama.

Curious about what you, personally, are spending on the current Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

A piece from Moe’s Whatever Works blog on the near-Trillion bucks we are about to spend on the wars we are currently involved in took me to Costofwar.com, a site which we should all check on a regular basis. And then tell everyone else about it so the great mass of taxpayers know what’s happening with the money that used to give them an American lifestyle.

For instance, I looked up what those of us who live in West Virginia will be paying for wars in 2010, and what we could have gotten for the money if we had a brain in our heads:

Taxpayers in West Virginia will pay $1.9 billion for Total Defense Spending in FY2010. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:
604,603 People with Health Care for One Year OR
56,614 Public Safety Officers for One year OR
39,134 Music and Arts Teachers for One Year OR
362,641 Scholarships for University Students for One Year OR
346,567 Students receiving Pell Grants of $5550 OR
27,218 Affordable Housing Units OR
879,476 Children with Health Care for One Year OR
292,229 Head Start Places for Children for One Year OR
38,711 Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR
1,690,691 Homes with Renewable Electricity for One Year

That gives the war spending figure a real value that we can ponder over, doesn’t it? I don’t think my Congressperson Shelley Moore Capito thinks about this. I don’t think my Senators, Rockefeller and Byrd are thinking about this. We are a small and poor state, and when I see what we are giving up in order to protect the world of commercial oil, it makes me want to vomit.

Perhaps, as I have often stated on this blog in a way which many have told me has the effect of beating my head against a wall, we should BRING THEM HOME NOW!

This article from Truthout is one of the most disturbing pieces on the Iraq War that I have read…

Recognizing the Creative Commons Attribute on this article from Truthout, I am reproducing it in full.

I dare anyone to read it and not be ready to pull all troops out of the Middle East now.

This is disgusting.

– Bill T.

___________________________________________________________

Iraq War Vet: “We Were Told to Just Shoot People, and the Officers Would Take Care of Us”

Wednesday 07 April 2010

by: Dahr Jamail, t r u t h o u t | Report

photo
(Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: The U.S. Army, K. OS, whiteblot)

On Monday, April 5, Wikileaks.org posted video footage from Iraq, taken from a US military Apache helicopter in July 2007 as soldiers aboard it killed 12 people and wounded two children. The dead included two employees of the Reuters news agency: photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and driver Saeed Chmagh.

The US military confirmed the authenticity of the video.

The footage clearly shows an unprovoked slaughter, and is shocking to watch whilst listening to the casual conversation of the soldiers in the background.

As disturbing as the video is, this type of behavior by US soldiers in Iraq is not uncommon.

Truthout has spoken with several soldiers who shared equally horrific stories of the slaughtering of innocent Iraqis by US occupation forces.

“I remember one woman walking by,” said Jason Washburn, a corporal in the US Marines who served three tours in Iraq. He told the audience at the Winter Soldier hearings that took place March 13-16, 2008, in Silver Spring, Maryland, “She was carrying a huge bag, and she looked like she was heading toward us, so we lit her up with the Mark 19, which is an automatic grenade launcher, and when the dust settled, we realized that the bag was full of groceries. She had been trying to bring us food and we blew her to pieces.”

The hearings provided a platform for veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan to share the reality of their occupation experiences with the media in the US.

Washburn testified on a panel that discussed the rules of engagement (ROE) in Iraq, and how lax they were, to the point of being virtually nonexistent.

“During the course of my three tours, the rules of engagement changed a lot,” Washburn’s testimony continued, “The higher the threat the more viciously we were permitted and expected to respond. Something else we were encouraged to do, almost with a wink and nudge, was to carry ‘drop weapons’, or by my third tour, ‘drop shovels’. We would carry these weapons or shovels with us because if we accidentally shot a civilian, we could just toss the weapon on the body, and make them look like an insurgent.”

Hart Viges, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division of the Army who served one year in Iraq, told of taking orders over the radio.

“One time they said to fire on all taxicabs because the enemy was using them for transportation…. One of the snipers replied back, ‘Excuse me? Did I hear that right? Fire on all taxicabs?’ The lieutenant colonel responded, ‘You heard me, trooper, fire on all taxicabs.’ After that, the town lit up, with all the units firing on cars. This was my first experience with war, and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the deployment.”

Vincent Emanuele, a Marine rifleman who spent a year in the al-Qaim area of Iraq near the Syrian border, told of emptying magazines of bullets into the city without identifying targets, running over corpses with Humvees and stopping to take “trophy” photos of bodies.

“An act that took place quite often in Iraq was taking pot shots at cars that drove by,” he said, “This was not an isolated incident, and it took place for most of our eight-month deployment.”

Kelly Dougherty – then executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War – blamed the behavior of soldiers in Iraq on policies of the US government.

“The abuses committed in the occupations, far from being the result of a ‘few bad apples’ misbehaving, are the result of our government’s Middle East policy, which is crafted in the highest spheres of US power,” she said.

Michael Leduc, a corporal in the Marines who was part of the US attack on Fallujah in November 2004, said orders he received from his battalion JAG officer before entering the city were as follows: “You see an individual with a white flag and he does anything but approach you slowly and obey commands, assume it’s a trick and kill him.”

Bryan Casler, a corporal in the Marines, spoke of witnessing the prevalent dehumanizing outlook soldiers took toward Iraqis during the invasion of Iraq.

“… on these convoys, I saw Marines defecate into MRE bags or urinate in bottles and throw them at children on the side of the road,” he stated.

Scott Ewing, who served in Iraq from 2005-2006, admitted on one panel that units intentionally gave candy to Iraqi children for reasons other than “winning hearts and minds.

“There was also another motive,” Ewing said. “If the kids were around our vehicles, the bad guys wouldn’t attack. We used the kids as human shields.”

In response to the WikiLeaks video, the Pentagon, while not officially commenting on the video, announced that two Pentagon investigations cleared the air crew of any wrongdoing.

A statement from the two probes said the air crew had acted appropriately and followed the ROE.

Adam Kokesh served in Fallujah beginning in February 2004 for roughly one year.

Speaking on a panel at the aforementioned hearings about the ROE, he held up the ROE card soldiers are issued in Iraq and said, “This card says, ‘Nothing on this card prevents you from using deadly force to defend yourself’.”

Kokesh pointed out that “reasonable certainty” was the condition for using deadly force under the ROE, and this led to rampant civilian deaths. He discussed taking part in the April 2004 siege of Fallujah. During that attack, doctors at Fallujah General Hospital told Truthout there were 736 deaths, over 60 percent of which were civilians.

“We changed the ROE more often than we changed our underwear,” Kokesh said, “At one point, we imposed a curfew on the city, and were told to fire at anything that moved in the dark.”

Kokesh also testified that during two cease-fires in the midst of the siege, the military decided to let out as many women and children from the embattled city as possible, but this did not include most men.

“For males, they had to be under 14 years of age,” he said, “So I had to go over there and turn men back, who had just been separated from their women and children. We thought we were being gracious.”

Steve Casey served in Iraq for over a year starting in mid-2003.

“We were scheduled to go home in April 2004, but due to rising violence we stayed in with Operation Blackjack,” Casey said, “I watched soldiers firing into the radiators and windows of oncoming vehicles. Those who didn’t turn around were unfortunately neutralized one way or another – well over 20 times I personally witnessed this. There was a lot of collateral damage.”

Jason Hurd served in central Baghdad from November 2004 until November 2005. He told of how, after his unit took “stray rounds” from a nearby firefight, a machine gunner responded by firing over 200 rounds into a nearby building.

“We fired indiscriminately at this building,” he said. “Things like that happened every day in Iraq. We reacted out of fear for our lives, and we reacted with total destruction.”

Hurd said the situation deteriorated rapidly while he was in Iraq. “Over time, as the absurdity of war set in, individuals from my unit indiscriminately opened fire at vehicles driving down the wrong side of the road. People in my unit would later brag about it. I remember thinking how appalled I was that we were laughing at this, but that was the reality.”

Other soldiers Truthout has interviewed have often laughed when asked about their ROE in Iraq.

Garret Reppenhagen served in Iraq from February 2004-2005 in the city of Baquba, 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) northeast of Baghdad. He said his first experience in Iraq was being on a patrol that killed two Iraqi farmers as they worked in their field at night.

“I was told they were out in the fields farming because their pumps only operated with electricity, which meant they had to go out in the dark when there was electricity,” he explained, “I asked the sergeant, if he knew this, why did he fire on the men. He told me because the men were out after curfew. I was never given another ROE during my time in Iraq.”

Emmanuel added: “We took fire while trying to blow up a bridge. Many of the attackers were part of the general population. This led to our squad shooting at everything and anything in order to push through the town. I remember myself emptying magazines into the town, never identifying a target.”

Emmanuel spoke of abusing prisoners he knew were innocent, adding, “We took it upon ourselves to harass them, and took them to the desert to throw them out of our Humvees, while kicking and punching them when we threw them out.”

Jason Wayne Lemue is a Marine who served three tours in Iraq.

“My commander told me, ‘Kill those who need to be killed, and save those who need to be saved’; that was our mission on our first tour,” he said of his first deployment during the invasion.

“After that the ROE changed, and carrying a shovel, or standing on a rooftop talking on a cell phone, or being out after curfew [meant those people] were to be killed. I can’t tell you how many people died because of this. By my third tour, we were told to just shoot people, and the officers would take care of us.”

When this Truthout reporter was in Baghdad in November 2004, my Iraqi interpreter was in the Abu Hanifa mosque that was raided by US and Iraqi soldiers during Friday prayers.

“Everyone was there for Friday prayers, when five Humvees and several trucks carrying [US soldiers and] Iraqi National Guards entered,” Abu Talat told Truthout on the phone from within the mosque while the raid was in progress. “Everyone starting yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is the greatest) because they were frightened. Then the soldiers started shooting the people praying!”

“They have just shot and killed at least four of the people praying,” he said in a panicked voice, “At least 10 other people are wounded now. We are on our bellies and in a very bad situation.”

Iraqi Red Crescent later confirmed to Truthout that at least four people were killed, and nine wounded. Truthout later witnessed pieces of brain splattered on one of the walls inside the mosque while large blood stains covered carpets at several places.

This type of indiscriminate killing has been typical from the initial invasion of Iraq.

Truthout spoke with Iraq war veteran and former National Guard and Army Reserve member Jason Moon, who was there for the invasion.

“While on our initial convoy into Iraq in early June 2003, we were given a direct order that if any children or civilians got in front of the vehicles in our convoy, we were not to stop, we were not to slow down, we were to keep driving. In the event an insurgent attacked us from behind human shields, we were supposed to count. If there were thirty or less civilians we were allowed to fire into the area. If there were over thirty, we were supposed to take fire and send it up the chain of command. These were the rules of engagement. I don’t know about you, but if you are getting shot at from a crowd of people, how fast are you going to count, and how accurately?”

Moon brought back a video that shows his sergeant declaring, “The difference between an insurgent and an Iraqi civilian is whether they are dead or alive.”

Moon explains the thinking: “If you kill a civilian he becomes an insurgent because you retroactively make that person a threat.”

According to the Pentagon probes of the killings shown in the WikiLeaks video, the air crew had “reason to believe” the people seen in the video were fighters before opening fire.

Article 48 of the Geneva Conventions speaks to the “basic rule” regarding the protection of civilians:

“In order to ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects, the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives.”

What is happening in Iraq seems to reflect what psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton calls “atrocity-producing situations.” He used this term first in his book “The Nazi Doctors.” In 2004, he wrote an article for The Nation, applying his insights to the Iraq War and occupation.

“Atrocity-producing situations,” Lifton wrote, occur when a power structure sets up an environment where “ordinary people, men or women no better or worse than you or I, can regularly commit atrocities…. This kind of atrocity-producing situation … surely occurs to some degrees in all wars, including World War II, our last ‘good war.’ But a counterinsurgency war in a hostile setting, especially when driven by profound ideological distortions, is particularly prone to sustained atrocity – all the more so when it becomes an occupation.”

Cliff Hicks served in Iraq from October 2003 to August 2004.

“There was a tall apartment complex, the only spot from where people could see over our perimeter,” Hicks told Truthout, “There would be laundry hanging off the balconies, and people hanging out on the roof for fresh air. The place was full of kids and families. On rare occasions, a fighter would get atop the building and shoot at our passing vehicles. They never really hit anybody. We just knew to be careful when we were over by that part of the wall, and nobody did shit about it until one day a lieutenant colonel was driving down and they shot at his vehicle and he got scared. So he jumped through a bunch of hoops and cut through some red tape and got a C-130 to come out the next night and all but leveled the place. Earlier that evening when I was returning from a patrol the apartment had been packed full of people.”

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Here’s news we didn’t need this morning… Why do we get into this war crap?

I woke up to this in both the NY TImes and HuffPo this morning: “U.S. Admits Role in February Killing of Afghan Women”. And not only did we admit doing it, we admitted covering it up.

War has got to STOP. We are not protecting ourselves. We are not protecting our allies. We are simply spending money and doing outrageous things!

clipped from www.nytimes.com

KABUL, Afghanistan — After initially denying involvement or any cover-up in the deaths of three Afghan women during a badly bungled American Special Operations assault in February, the American-led military command in Kabul admitted late on Sunday that its forces had, in fact, killed the women during the nighttime raid.

The admission immediately raised questions about what really happened during the Feb. 12 operation — and what falsehoods followed — including a new report that Special Operations forces dug bullets out of the bodies of the women to hide the true nature of their deaths.

The disclosure could not come at a worse moment for the American military: NATO officials are struggling to contain fallout from a series of tirades against the foreign military presence by the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, who has also railed against the killing of civilians by Western forces.

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Quote for the Day – I find this one devastating!

“We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force.”

– Gen. Stanley McChrystal, during a virtual town hall with troops in Afghanistan.

The Hurt Locker

Now that they’ve released the DVD, Elly and I got around to viewing THE HURT LOCKER last night. What a terrific and moving film. You get so caught up with this team of explosive experts in their last month before being sent home that you are on the edge of your chair during most of it.

Director Kathryn Bigelow has incredible visual and action sense… she, and the Photographer, have placed cameras all over the place in each scene… you can’t escape what is going on no matter where you look.

One issue she deals with that I haven’t seen done anywhere else is the notion of “combat addiction” – especially in the character of Sergeant James who, near the end of the movie, returns home to the utter boredom of family, grocery store, house maintenance… and then feels compelled to reenlist, ending the film with a new 365 day tour.

As Bigelow says:

War’s dirty little secret is that some men love it. I’m trying to unpack why, to look at what it means to be a hero in the context of 21st-century combat.

The three central characters show three radically different sides of the US soldier in Iraq and their dependency on and conflict with each other is pretty much the whole movie. We see other soldiers come and go… and when they go, they go in explosive sequences…literally.

I liked Bigelow’s earlier film, The Weight Of Water, which combined history and research of an Ax Murder in the 19th Century with the frustration and career end of a writer played by Sean Penn… and again, Bigelow stressed the visual imperative. Perhaps her earlier background as a Whitney Museum supported visual artist comes into pay here.

Anyway… The Hurt Locker is up for a bunch of Oscars and is a truly deserving film. Writer Mark Boal, Cinemetographer Barry Ackroyd, and actors like Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, and Brian Geraghty are all excellent. Minor appearances by Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse, Evangeline Lilly and Christian Camargo add a tremendous depth to the piece.

We waited for the credits to see where it was filmed… it felt so much like we were in 2004’s Iraq. The locations were shot in Jordan, and some of he interiors were done in Vancouver. Surprise surprise!

Get out and see this if you haven’t… the DVD is now available and is turning up at rental places.

Let’s take a look at reality…

Bomber in Attack on CIA Reportedly Courted as Informant

Truthdig’s “Ear To The Ground” column ran this one today:
clipped from www.truthdig.com

According to a BBC report, intelligence sources say that the suicide bomber who managed to enter a military base and kill seven CIA agents in the Khost province of Afghanistan was courted by the U.S. as a possible informant. Oops.  —JCL

The BBC:

The suicide bomber who killed seven CIA agents in Afghanistan had been courted by the US as a possible informant, US intelligence sources have said.

They said he had not undergone the usual full body search before entering the base in Khost province, and so was able to smuggle in an explosive belt.

The attack was the worst against US intelligence officials since the US embassy in Beirut was bombed in 1983.

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The Power of Nightmares — Part 2

Here’s the second of 6 parts… if you went through the first you probably learned a lot of how we got into the mess we’re in now. Here’s more:

Feel free to comment on this series.

US Intelligence Found Iran Nuke Document Was Forged

This was an interesting, long article at Truthout.com… Certainly worth reading before we send troops to Iran in the future (and who knows?, we’ll probably add Yemen, too if Joe Lieberman gets his way).

Read the clips then go over to Truthout and read the whole thing. Then wonder why we get involved in this crap!

clipped from www.truthout.org

U.S. intelligence has concluded that the document published recently by the Times of London, which purportedly describes an Iranian plan to do experiments on what the newspaper described as a “neutron initiator” for an atomic weapon, is a fabrication, according to a former Central Intelligence Agency official.
Philip Giraldi, who was a CIA counterterrorism official from 1976 to 1992, told IPS that intelligence sources say that the United States had nothing to do with forging the document, and that Israel is the primary suspect. The sources do not rule out a British role in the fabrication, however.
The Times of London story published Dec. 14 did not identify the source of the document.
Giraldi’s intelligence sources did not reveal all the reasons that led analysts to conclude that the purported Iran document had been fabricated by a foreign intelligence agency. But their suspicions of fraud were prompted in part by the source of the story, according to Giraldi.
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The article ends:
This is not the first time that Giraldi has been tipped off by his intelligence sources on forged documents. Giraldi identified the individual or office responsible for creating the two most notorious forged documents in recent U.S. intelligence history.In 2005, Giraldi identified Michael Ledeen, the extreme right-wing former consultant to the National Security Council and the Pentagon, as an author of the fabricated letter purporting to show Iraqi interest in purchasing uranium from Niger. That letter was used by the George W. Bush administration to bolster its false case that Saddam Hussein had an active nuclear weapons programme.

Giraldi also identified officials in the “Office of Special Plans” who worked under Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith as having forged a letter purportedly written by Hussein’s intelligence director, Tahir Jalail Habbush al-Tikriti, to Hussein himself referring to an Iraqi intelligence operation to arrange for an unidentified shipment from Niger.

Dennis Kucinich Comments…

Russia Today interviewed Congressman Kucinich and he commented on Afghanistan, War, Generals and more. Give a listen…

Dennis Kucinich has my Quote of the Day…

“The war is a threat to our national security. We’ll spend over $100 billion next year to bomb a nation of poor people while we reenergize the Taliban, destabilize Pakistan, deplete our army and put more of our soldiers’ lives on the line. Meanwhile, back here in the USA, 15 million people are out of work. People are losing their jobs, their health care, their savings, their investments, and their retirement security. $13 trillion in bailouts for Wall Street, trillions for war; when are we going to start taking care of things here at home?”

– Congressman Kucinich in a Press Release today.

Do we learn from History?

…even RECENT History? I’m beginning to wonder what we can possibly do to change the way we interact with the world.

This long article on Washington’s Blog is worth the read. Here’s a clip:

clipped from www.georgewashington2.blogspot.com

What Empires Have Said Throughout History: “One More Surge”

A leading advisor to the U.S. military, the Rand Corporation, released a study in 2008 called “How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qa’ida“. The report confirms what experts have been saying for years: the war on terror is actually weakening national security.

As a press release about the study states:

“Terrorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors, and our analysis suggests that there is no battlefield solution to terrorism.”

In fact, starting right after 9/11 — at the latest — the goal has always been to create “regime change” and instability in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon and other countries.
The goal was never focused on destroying Al Qaeda. As just one example, the U.S. let Bin Laden escape in 2001 and again in 2007.
Indeed, the goal seems to have more to do with being a superpower (i.e. an empire) than stopping terrorism.
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Why didn’t Obama consider Diplomacy in Afghanistan?

This Tuesday Obama is supposed to announce his decision on troops and Afghanistan (the last guess I heard was 30,000 as opposed to the 40,000 the General asked for) and we will once again see our middle-east  battle commitment increase.

But is there a reason why the President didn’t turn the problem over to the State Department for a negotiated solution? Sherwood Ross in OpEdNews writes an extended article on why diplomacy wasn’t even considered. here’s a clip:

Afghanistan is valued today for the oil and gas pipelines the U.S. wants built there, no matter what other reasons Obama gives.

“In the late 1990s,” writes Washington reporter Bill Blum in his “Anti-Empire Report,” “the American oil company, Unocal, met with Taliban officials in Texas to discuss the pipelines” Unocal’s talks with the Taliban, conducted with the full knowledge of the Clinton administration”continued as late as 2000 or 2001.” Adds Paul Craig Roberts writing in the December Rock Creek Free Press of Washington, D.C., the U.S./U.K. military aggression in Afghanistan “had to do with the natural gas deposits in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.” Roberts explains:

“The Americans wanted a pipeline that bypassed Russia and Iran and went through Afghanistan. To insure this, an invasion was necessary. The idiot American public could be told that the invasion was necessary because of 9/11 and to save them from ‘terrorism,’ and the utter fools would believe the lie.” The war, Roberts continued, is to guard the pipeline route. “It’s about money, it’s about energy, it’s not about democracy.”

So, if this is indeed WHY we are there, how long can it last?

In January, a Defense Department report stated “building a fully competent and independent Afghan government will be a lengthy process that will last, at a minimum, decades,” The Nation magazine’s Jonathan Schell reports (Nov. 30). So far from defeating the Taliban are Allied forces that US military contractors “are forced to pay suspected insurgents to protect American supply routes,” Aram Roston writes in the same issue. “It is an accepted fact of the military logistics operation in Afghanistan that the US government funds the very forces American troops are fighting.” In fact, an American executive there told Roston, “The Army is basically paying the Taliban not to shoot at them. It is Department of Defense money.”

It is Corporate concern which controls the decision making here…xnd, of course, we travel farther into deficit spending by pouring money into Afghanistan (and Iraq, which we are NOT remotely out of, yet.)

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has stated that it costs about a million dollars per year for each deployed US soldier, beyond the expense of training and maintaining a security force. You can do the math: there are 180,000 troops in Afghanistan and Iraq right now… add another 30,000 and we are spending $210,000,000,000.00 per year (that’s just on those troops active in the mid-east… we are also paying for the pentagon, all our worldwide bases, all the equipment we use worldwide, health recovery by the veteran’s Administration for soldiers who come back wounded… not to mention the costs for those who come back dead.) The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost 768.8 billion dollars so far and by the end of this fiscal year, the price tag will approach one trillion dollars.

It’s not even a number that most people can even conceive of!

Ross goes on to say that…

“…in all the recent debate in Washington, who has heard a word of concern for the impact of escalation on the suffering civilian populations of Afghanistan and Pakistan?

“ ‘Our military demands ever more troops,’ Veterans Speaker Alliance’s founder Paul Cox said at an Oakland, Calif., rally, last week with Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress to vote against the initial Afghan aggression. ‘Meanwhile, our economy is in the toilet, health care costs are out of control, and we can’t afford to educate our children. But somehow, there’s always money for war.’ Rep. Lee called for putting ‘this stage of American history—a stage characterized by open-ended war—to a close.’ “

Barbara Lee, Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders and a few others represent a very tiny segment of The Congress, both Representatives and Senators, who would push to get us out of the middle east as warriors.

Unless America rises up to support such a massive withdrawal, this will never even be a remote possibility. Ongoing warfare is our Heritage and our Curse.

A Moment with Matthew Hoh and the Protest Against the War in Afghanistan

I’ve been listening to Matthew Hoh, the State Department official who resigned last month to protest the Obama administration’s seeming determination to send tens of thousands more American troops to a disastrous war in Afghanistan.

Hoh is one of the smartest, most compelling, articulate, and principled dissenters our country has seen against the failed Afghanistan occupation.

His warnings of the tragedy that lies at the end of the path of escalation will come to haunt our nation in years to come. The Obama Administration would do well to listen to him.

Here is a video concerning Hoh:

How will the Repubs (and Blue Dogs) respond to increases in spending for Afghanistan?

… and how did they respond to other expenses? Especially, how will they
respond to comparably lower cost of Health Care? This from Truthsite.org:

Conservatives’ (including Blue Dogs’) selective concern about deficit spending

Program Cost Conservative response
War in Iraq $3 trillion “No problem!”
Bush tax cuts for the rich $1.8 – $2.5 trillion “No problem!”
Bush bailouts $9 – $24 trillion “No problem!”
Military budget $650 billion/year(about the same as the rest of the world combined) “No problem!”
“Public option” health care $1.1 trillion over 10 years* “It’s not revenue neutral!”
Single payer health care Would save money, improve care “It’s socialism!”

*According to the Congressional Budget Office, the health care reform bill passed by the House in November, 2009 actually saves $11 billion annually. See Deficit hawks attacking the wrong prey.

A Quote to Start the Day

“This is the decision that will have consequences for the better part of his administration. So Mr. President, don’t get pushed by the left to do nothing; don’t get pushed by the right to do everything. You take your time and you figure it out. You’re the commander-in-chief and this is what you were elected for.”

– Colin Powell in an ABC News interview comments on Obama’s reported rejection of the Afghanistan troop options presented by his National Security team.

Couldn’t agree more. Take your time, Mr. President. Make a good decision.

FLASH! All may not be lost!

I wasn’t expecting this one… It got posted on the Daily Beast 20 minutes ago!
clipped from www.thedailybeast.com
Report: Obama Rejects All Options

A bombshell from the White House: A senior Obama administration official tells MSNBC that the president will reject all of the options that have been presented to him by his national-security team, and that instead he will demand clarifications on when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility for the country to the Afghan government. The sticking point appears to be timelines: President Obama wants to make clear that the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan is not open-ended. Consequently, the options presented to Obama will be amended. Previously, it was believed he was leaning toward 30,000 additional troops.

  blog it

Cartoon(s) of the Week

2 Goodies tied this week:

Dwane Powell in the Raleigh News and Observer:

Dwayne Powell

Hasn’t it been cut down already?

– and –

Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald-Leader :
Jorl Pett

And the joke, of course, is on US.

And how do we look in Europe?:

Carlson in The Guardian (UK):

Guardian UKrobberbarons

We are so obvious to the rest of the world.

Truthout has a pertinent editorial on this Anniversary Day

I’m glad to see the editors of Truthout, which has always seemed to me to maintain a distanced and balanced viewpoint on partisan politics, has taken a strong view on the Afghanistan War. I read it (as I sat here and listened to John Carter, Republican of Texas, trying to get Charles Rangel pulled off the Chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee) and I hope you will read it, too.

Here’s a clip from the summary:

As members of the Senate and House go into conference to decide the fate of the defense spending bill in the coming weeks – and as they consider additional war funding for 2011 over the next few months – we hope they will recognize the futility of escalating violence and the urgency of searching for peaceful means to end the conflict.

President Obama has called the Afghan conflict a “war of necessity.” We entreat Congress and the administration to reframe the official story on Afghanistan and reveal the true necessity at hand: to stop funding directionless violence and bring the troops home.

Go HERE to read the whole thing.

Today is an Anniversary… let’s not celebrate.

It is the eighth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan today. As of yesterday, when a contingent from Congress met with the President, it looks like we’re staying. Will troops increase and, if so, how many? Will Obama start being seen the way we saw Bush?

Look at the mask!

I find this disturbing, especially since we’re still in the useless war in Iraq and we hear people talk about going after Iran… and we still have to protect Israel.

When I drive my car today, I’ll think about the oil it uses and, if it were not for oil, would we be in the mideast at all?

HuffPo ran pictures of the eighth anniversary of Afghanistan yesterday. See them HERE.

Cartoon of the Week

Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

luckovich

Why on Earth don’t we remember the WHOLE 20th Century which became a Century of War? Why on Earth do we make the deaths of young Americans the basis of public policy? We have the technology to DESTROY THE EARTH without putting one soldier on the line, yet we send thousands more to face enemies we don’t even have a direct conflict with (Afghanistan, Iraq, all the Middle East war areas seem to be in pure Civil War. Why do we have to be the camp counselor?)

Perhaps we can remember Viet Nam. I know that there are millions of younger Americans who do not even know one fact about that stinking conflict that we got caught up in because we were against Communism!

That wall in Luckovich’s cartoon really should be visited by every politician in America and they should be forced to read EVERY NAME ON IT. Then they could think about the kind of world that could have been achieved if so many thousands had served America as LIVING CITIZENS!

My Uncle Butch (Irving B. Tchakirides) is a name they would have to read on that wall. Certainly everyone reading this, through the six degrees of separation process, will connect with someone else that they were related to or were close to.

If we think, maybe we can stop.