Friday, June 1, 2007

military bases, cancer, and then some...

jurrasic pork got my mind going again today... as he often does, even if i just lurk about and don't reply.

i've often wondered how the u.s. would respond if every country in the world decided to hop on over and set up a military base in our great land, much like we have elsewhere. i imagine the response would be, "oh, HELL no!"

i'd list all of the bases found throughout the world here, but the defense department's pdf link is broken. i'd order the book of the listings, but i'm not in a position to blow $165.00 at this time - so suffice it to say, we are here and there and everywhere. what exactly is up with that, anyway?

j.p. also got my attention in pointing out that,

"while being unable to build a single children’s cancer hospital in Basra, we’ve somehow gotten our shit together well enough to build an embassy in Baghdad that’s bigger than the fucking Vatican."

in true form, the united states/british forces managed to rain down a massive amount of depleted uranium in iraq the last time through that sent cancer rates soaring in basra - to the tune of a 242% increase in children under 15!!!! the numbers reported for birth deformities are just as horrible and inexcusable. between the gulf war and this one, 2300 tons of depleted uranium munitions have been exploded across iraq. on top of it all, soldiers are also being exposed and suffering from the effects of uranium in their bodies . so much for cleaning up after ourselves, or for supporting the troops...

we are still using it - right now, as we speak.
major doug rokke has been screaming about this for years. talk about terrorism and biological warfare... this knowledge has haunted and disgusted me for years.

from counterpunch:

February 5, 2001

DU: Cancer as a Weapon

Radioactive War

At the close of the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was denounced as a ferocious villain for ordering his retreating troops to destroy Kuwaiti oil fields, clotting the air with poisonous clouds of black smoke and saturating the ground with swamps of crude. It was justly called an environmental war crime.

But months of bombing of Iraq by US and British planes and cruise missiles has left behind an even more deadly and insidious legacy: tons of shell casings, bullets and bomb fragments laced with depleted uranium. In all, the US hit Iraqi targets with more than 970 radioactive bombs and missiles.

More than 10 years later, the health consequences from this radioactive bombing campaign are beginning to come into focus. And they are dire, indeed. Iraqi physicians call it "the white death"-leukemia. Since 1990, the incident rate of leukemia in Iraq has grown by more than 600 percent. The situation is compounded by Iraq's forced isolations and the sadistic sanctions regime, recently described by UN secretary general Kofi Annan as "a humanitarian crisis", that makes detection and treatment of the cancers all the more difficult.

"We have proof of traces of DU in samples taken for analysis and that is really bad for those who assert that cancer cases have grown for other reasons," says Dr. Umid Mubarak, Iraq's health minister.

Mubarak contends that the US's fear of facing the health and environmental consequences of its DU bombing campaign is partly behind its failure to follow through on its commitments under a deal allowing Iraq to sell some of its vast oil reserves in return for food and medical supplies.

"The desert dust carries death," said Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, an oncologist and member England's Royal Society of Physicians. "Our studies indicate that more than forty percent of the population around Basra will get cancer. We are living through another Hiroshima."

Most of the leukemia and cancer victims aren't soldiers. They are civilians. And many of them are children. The US-dominated Iraqi Sanctions Committee in New York has denied Iraq's repeated requests for cancer treatment equipment and drugs, even painkillers such as morphine. As a result, the overflowing hospitals in towns such as Basra are left to treat the cancer-stricken with aspirin.

This is part of a larger horror inflicted on Iraq that sees as many as 180 children dying every day, according to mortality figures compiled by UNICEF, from a catalogue of diseases from the 19th century: cholera, dysentery, tuberculosis, e. coli, mumps, measles, influenza.

Iraqis and Kuwaitis aren't the only ones showing signs of uranium contamination and sickness. Gulf War veterans, plagued by a variety of illnesses, have been found to have traces of uranium in their blood, feces, urine and semen.

Depleted uranium is a rather benign sounding name for uranium-238, the trace elements left behind when the fissionable material is extracted from uranium-235 for use in nuclear reactors and weapons. For decades, this waste was a radioactive nuisance, piling up at plutonium processing plants across the country. By the late 1980s there was nearly a billion tons of the material.

Then weapons designers at the Pentagon came up with a use for the tailings: they could be molded into bullets and bombs. The material was free and there was plenty at hand. Also uranium is a heavy metal, denser than lead. This makes it perfect for use in armor-penetrating weapons, designed to destroy tanks, armored-personnel carriers and bunkers.

When the tank-busting bombs explode, the depleted uranium oxidizes into microscopic fragments that float through the air like carcinogenic dust, carried on the desert winds for decades. The lethal dust is inhaled, sticks to the fibers of the lungs, and eventually begins to wreck havoc on the body: tumors, hemorrhages, ravaged immune systems, leukemias.

In 1943, the doomsday men associated with the Manhattan Project speculated that uranium and other radioactive materials could be spread across wide swaths of land to contain opposing armies. Gen. Leslie Grove, head of the project, asserted that uranium weapons could be expected to cause "permanent lung damage." In the late, 1950s Al Gore's father, the senator from Tennessee, proposed dousing the demilitarized zone in Korea with uranium as a cheap failsafe against an attack from the North Koreans.

After the Gulf War, Pentagon war planners were so delighted with the performance of their radioactive weapons that ordered a new arsenal and under Bill Clinton's orders fired them at Serb positions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. More than a 100 of the DU bombs have been used in the Balkans over the last six years.

Already medical teams in the region have detected cancer clusters near the bomb sites. The leukemia rate in Sarajevo, pummeled by American bombs in 1996, has tripled in the last five years. But it's not just the Serbs who are ill and dying. NATO and UN peacekeepers in the region are also coming down with cancer. As of January 23, eight Italian soldiers who served in the region have died of leukemia.

The Pentagon has shuffled through a variety of rationales and excuses. First, the Defense Department shrugged off concerns about Depleted Uranium as wild conspiracy theories by peace activists, environmentalists and Iraqi propagandists. When the US's NATO allies demanded that the US disclose the chemical and metallic properties of its munitions, the Pentagon refused. It has also refused to order testing of US soldiers stationed in the Gulf and the Balkans.

If the US has been keeping silent, the Brits haven't been. A 1991 study by the UK Atomic Energy Authority predicted that if less than 10 percent of the particles released by depleted uranium weapons used in Iraq and Kuwait were inhaled it could result in as many as "300,000 probable deaths."

The British estimate assumed that the only radioactive ingredient in the bombs dropped on Iraq was depleted uranium. It wasn't. A new study of the materials inside these weapons describes them as a "nuclear cocktail," containing a mix of radioactive elements, including plutonium and the highly radioactive isotope uranium-236. These elements are 100,000 times more dangerous than depleted uranium.

Typically, the Pentagon has tried to dump the blame on the Department of Energy's sloppy handling of its weapons production plants. This is how Pentagon spokesman Craig Quigley described the situation in chop-logic worthy of the pen of Joseph Heller.: "The source of the contamination as best we can understand it now was the plants themselves that produced the Depleted uranium during the 20 some year time frame when the DU was produced."

Indeed, the problems at DoE nuclear sites and the contamination of its workers and contractors have been well-known since the 1980s. A 1991 Energy Department memo reports: "during the process of making fuel for nuclear reactors and elements for nuclear weapons, the Paducah gaseous diffusion plant... created depleted uranium potentially containing neptunium and plutonium"

But such excuses in the absence of any action to address the situation are growing very thin indeed. Doug Rokke, the health physicist for the US Army who oversaw the partial clean up of depleted uranium bomb fragments in Kuwait, is now sick. His body registers 5,000 times the level of radiation considered "safe". He knows where to place the blame. "There can be no reasonable doubt about this," Rokke recently told British journalist John Pilger. "As a result of heavy metal and radiological poison of DU, people in southern Iraq are experiencing respiratory problems, kidney problems, cancers. Members of my own team have died or are dying from cancer."

Depleted uranium has a half-life of more than 4 billion years, approximately the age of the Earth. Thousand of acres of land in the Balkans, Kuwait and southern Iraq have been contaminated forever. If George Bush Sr., Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Bill Clinton are still casting about for a legacy, there's grim one that will stay around for an eternity. CP

cross posted at my Thinking spot

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The Shoe's on the Other Foot Now.

Reuters is running a story about bush condemning Iran for detaining American citizens on allegations of spying.

CommanderGuy is quoted as saying, "I am disturbed by the Iranian regime's refusal so far to provide any information on Robert Levinson, despite repeated U.S. requests," and, "I call on Iran's leaders to tell us what they know about his whereabouts."

I presume this would not be the same george w bush who claims a God-given right to "disappear" anyone he wants, in the name of national security. This would certainly not be the george w bush whose administration called the Geneva Conventions "quaint", or whose Veep referred to Constitutional rights as "delicate sensibilities," nor would this be the same bush whose administration engages in waterboarding, extraordinary renditions, and Lord only knows what other crimes against humanity in the name of his Holy War on Terra.

Any thinking person -- which lets out all of the brain-dead 27% and virtually all rethuglicans -- could have told CommanderGuy that his actions would come back to bite us in the ass.

Of course, CommanderGuy is never, ever wrong; it's just that subjective reality doesn't fit into his scheme of things.

Cross-posted at 618Rants and Watching Those We Chose.

There's more: "The Shoe's on the Other Foot Now." >>

Sgt Kokesh to USMC: "Go F*** Yourself"

Via BadTux, I found out about former Sergeant Adam Kokesh, USMC. Kokesh was busted back to Corporal before being discharged from the Corps. After his discharge from active duty -- during which he served honorably in Iraq -- he became a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, and spoke out against our presence in Iraq. In retaliation for exercising his freedom of speech -- one of the freedoms for which the Islamofascistmuslimterrists hate us -- the USMC revoked his honorable discharge and is now offering a "less-than-honorable" discharge in a blatant attempt to stifle him.

Kokesh wrote on his blog:

If I accept this “plea bargain,” I would have to allow you to punish me for speaking my mind, allow you to say that it is somehow less than honorable for thousands of IRR Marines to exercise their freedom of speech, allow you to silence the voices of those whose experiences are most relevant in the most pressing debate before the nation, and allow you to say that Thomas Jefferson was wrong. If this is your intent, I would ask to please, kindly, go f*** yourself. I will not allow it.

As I recall, we are in Iraq, in part, to defend our freedoms there so we don't have to defend them here, or something to that effect.And yet we have the United States Marine Corps -- admittedly the bravest, fiercest, toughest fighters this world has ever seen -- suppressing the freedom of speech of one of their own veterans.

As BadTux put it:

I dunno what kinda love we can give Adam Kokesh, but I'm sure that the only way they'll shut up this PFC ("Proud Fuckin' Civilian") is if they put him in jail. Meanwhile, the Marines ought to be ashamed for trying to shut up a civilian honorably seperated from the Marines by revoking his honorable discharge. That kinda political bullshit acting as political operatives for the Bushevik regime is not what the military is supposed to be about. Our military is supposed to be about killing our nation's enemies dead, not about suppressing free speech within the borders of our country. There's a name for the kind of country where the military is used to suppress free speech within the borders of the country. It's called "military dictatorship". It's not what our nation is supposed to be about. For
shame, General Moore!

I second what BadTux says.

Kokesh doesn't seem to have a donation button on his blog, but maybe a whole shitload of supportive comments will help him out a bit.

Cross-posted at 618Rants and Watching Those We Chose

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sneak peaks of Scooter Libby friends letters

To the readership:

Judge Reggie Walton has announced that more than 150 letters pertaining to the sentencing of Scooter Libby, both in support of him and in support of his hoosegow key being tossed away, will be released after his sentencing June 5.

Well, there’s no need to wait that long.

Let me tell you, my inside sources have obtained leaked pre-release copies. Here’s one:

Dear Judgie-Wudgie:

Please don't put Scooter-Pooter in the sandbox too long. Judie-Wwudie lubbes him so very much.

Judith Miller

And another:
Hey, Reggerino:

I’m the Decider, see? And, I decide that you should be replaced by … Tim Griffin.

George W. Decider, judge-commander-in-chief
Cc: Alberto Gonzales, head flunky and judge-hirer/firer

And this one:
Dear Judge Walton:

I. Lewis Libby has been defending the United States valiantly through his official work, so that we can fight liberal judges over in Iraq rather than fighting them here.

You, sir, are a traitor to our country.

Richard B. Cheney
Vice President of the United States

And one more:

Dear Judge Walton:

You remember that phone call you made three weeks ago???

I do.

Gen. Michael Hayden
Director of Central Intelligence
Former director, National Security Agency

Cross-posted at SocraticGadfly and Watching Those We Choose.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Six Month Rewind

Six months ago Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said:

his country's forces would be able to assume security command by June 2007 — which could allow the United States to start withdrawing its troops.

"I cannot answer on behalf of the U.S. administration but I can tell you that from our side our forces will be ready by June 2007," Maliki told ABC television after meeting President Bush on Thursday in Jordan.
To which President George Bush replied:
“We’ll be in Iraq until the job is complete, at the request of a sovereign government elected by the people.”

He said the United States — which now has about 140,000 troops in Iraq —will stay “to get the job done so long as the government wants us there.”
On May 8,
more than half of the members of Iraq's parliament rejected the continuing occupation of their country. 144 lawmakers signed onto a legislative petition calling on the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal, according to Nassar Al-Rubaie, a spokesman for the Al Sadr movement, the nationalist Shia group that sponsored the petition.
Maliki said Iraqi forces would be ready to assume security command. Bush said our troops would stay as long as the Iraqi government wants us there.

June '07 begins Friday. A majority of the Iraqi government wants us to leave.

When will US troops begin withdrawing?

There's more: "Six Month Rewind" >>

Monday, May 28, 2007

The War Prayer

--By Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came -- next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams -- visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation

*God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!*

Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory --

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled minister did -- and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

"I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this -- keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. the *whole* of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory--*must* follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(*After a pause.*) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!"

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

There's more: "The War Prayer" >>

Dying in the Fullness of Their Promise

"War is always the same. It is young men dying in the fullness of their promise. It is trying to kill a man that you do not even know well enough to hate. Therefore, to know war is to know that there is still madness in this world. ~Lyndon B. Johnson

These words were delivered on January 12, 1966 in the President's State of the Union address. Though he was cognizant of the terrible costs and utter insanity of war, Johnson was nonetheless arguing for the necessity of U.S. military intervention in a far-off land. What has changed or been learned in the decades since?

It is Memorial Day, 2007. American soldiers are at war in a far-off land. As of this moment, 3,455 U.S. troops have perished in Iraq. An analysis of those who have fallen reveals some sobering data about the terrible costs of this war. Though he was wrong about Vietnam, President Johnson was unerringly right about soldiers "dying in the fullness of their promise":

• The average age of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq is approximately 26 (25.98) years old.
• More than three-quarters (75.95%) of those killed have been under the age of 30 (2,624).
• 230 teenage soldiers (aged 18-19) have been killed in Iraq.
• On average, U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq lost two-thirds of their expected lives (given the average life expectancy of an American).
• Collectively, the total number of expected years of life lost by U.S. soldiers is 179,728 years.

Originally posted at

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"A Rich Tradition."

(Crossposted at Welcome to Pottersville.)

To recap: On Memorial Day, May 28, 2007, George W. Bush said that soldiers dying in foreign wars was “a rich tradition” (like throwing out the first pitch, say, on Opening Day or the groom removing his bride's garter) and that going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan was part of our nation’s destiny. At the Tomb of the Unknowns, Bush also seemed to take to heart 174 Marines who supposedly asked to have their enlistments extended and that it seemed to validate for him the stop-lossing of already weary troops who are getting killed in record numbers because they are exhausted and burnt-out.

In “honoring” our war dead today, Bush almost completely ignored those who had died in other wars from the Revolutionary war all the way down to Operation Desert Storm as if his failing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that the nearly 3800 who have died in both campaigns, are the only ones that count. But, of course, George Bush, the consummate propagandist and opportunist, will take any and all opportunities to catapult the propaganda still being lapped up with alacrity by the 27% of the dead-enders.

The picture above, which dwarves Bush against a huge American flag backdrop, is symbolic to me personally of his diminished stature in contrast to the much vaster nation, the Constitution, that he’d sworn two times to defend and has done anything but.

Deb Reichmann underscores this self-serving speech with the following paragraph:

As people across the country marked the day of remembrance, violence continued in Iraq where a suicide car bomber struck a busy commercial district in central Baghdad, killing at least 21 people and damaging a shrine revered by Sunnis and Shiites alike.

Nothing is sacred in Iraq, anymore, not even the religion that will never be completely separated from whatever government is foisted off on them. Just as nothing is sacred in the United States, anymore. Not informed dissent, not the war dead, not the Constitution itself. And certainly not the troops who, unlike George Bush, are legitimately trying to help the Iraqi people and are getting killed by the Iraqi army itself by way of thanks. Ingratitude, indeed.

I have to admit, I’m liking Andrew Sullivan more and more these days. While I don’t see him becoming a liberal any time soon, the Johnny Come Lately Sullivan is nonetheless one of the most astute critics of this administration. In a very good post yesterday, Sullivan takes a reader’s cue and vastly expands and improves upon a post he’d done earlier in the day about Dick Cheney’s address at West Point, one intended, typically, to not send off the newly-minted officers with a message of hope and optimism but to be yet another commercial for a product that’s about as easy to sell these days as jack hammers in a leper colony.

As yet another indication that he holds nothing sacred but the administration’s corrupt, self-serving agenda, Cheney essentially sneered at the Constitution as well as the Geneva Convention because the terrorists will want to hide behind them. That may be true enough, is as Cheney’s appraisal of terrorists.

But Cheney, as with Bush, as with all neocons who openly despise the Constitution and government in general, has supplanted defending the nation itself with the defense of the obstructionist Constitution. The plain fact is, as Sullivan says,
Cheney seems to believe that the military and the president have taken oaths to defend American lives and American territory and American interests. But of course, presidents and vice-presidents and U.S. servicemembers take no such oath. Servicemembers take the following oath:

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

As Sullivan indicates, Cheney, as well as Bush, never seemed to have grasped the basic, inescapable fact that if you defend the Constitution as either a statesman or a service member, the Constitution will take care of America.

But nothing, as I’d said, is sacred except for party loyalty and ideology.

And for all their overtures about caring for the troops moreso than the Republicans, the Democrats had rejected a larger voter mandate than George W. Bush ever got from either rigged election perhaps because they didn’t want to be bad-talked by Bush and his loyalists while they went on summer vacation.

Sending Bush a war spending bill without even nonbinding troop withdrawal timelines was in itself a self-fulfilling prophecy: The GOP has been charging the Democrats with stranding the troops and that’s exactly what they did rather than sending Bush the bill back untouched and increasing the pressure on the White House to sign it.

Paul Krugman was right in saying that these troops are being held hostage by an administration cynical enough to use them for partisan gain and support for a war that vast numbers of people, including the troops themselves, seem to forget never should’ve been started and fought.

By this time next year, Bush will be laying down a wreath at Arlington for 4200-4300 fallen troops and we will hear the same platitudes, reductionist lies and monstrously ironic statements that we’d heard today. No one ever said that a President has to be a war veteran in order to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

But as with the big, ever-present American flag that follows George Bush like an ignored conscience and dwarfing him, the sight of this Vietnam draft-dodging Pretender essaying gravitas and solemnity at the Tomb of actual soldiers who had actually served only underscores the illegitimacy of this administration and the war with which it’s completely draped like a flag on a coffin.

There's more: ""A Rich Tradition."" >>


Brave New Foundation
31 min 47 sec - 16-Mar-2007

The Iraq Veterans Memorial is an online memorial to honor the members of the U.S. armed forces who have lost their lives serving in the Iraq War. The Memorial is a collection of video memories from military colleagues, co-workers, family, and friends of those that have fallen.

There's more: "Memorial" >>

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Battle for Basra

Yet again, the so-called liberal media with it’s anti-war bias soft-soaped a story that should be screaming from the front pages.

The way the WaPo tells it, it sounds almost like a routine operation.

BAGHDAD, May 26 -- U.S. and British troops battled Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia in Baghdad and the southern city of Basra on Friday and Saturday, killing about a dozen fighters shortly after the influential Shiite cleric demanded a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

But Reuters gives a tad more detail. (but not much)

BASRA, Iraq, May 26 (Reuters) - British forces used an airstrike as they fought off attacks in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, military officials said on Saturday, but angry residents said the strike killed eight civilians.

British and Iraqi forces came under a series of attacks for more than two hours overnight in Basra, a gateway to the Gulf and Iraq's rich southern oilfields, by insurgents using small arms and rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

The attacks against British and Iraqi posts came hours after Wissam Abdul Qader, also known as Abu Qader, the head of anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army in Basra, was killed by Iraqi special forces on Friday.

Angry crowds carried the coffins of eight people in a funeral procession through the streets of Basra on Saturday. They said the eight were civilians killed in the airstrike.

Yes. Once again an airstrike was necessary to quell the fighting. Airstrikes are a last resort when a force is pretending to care about civilian casualties. I have noticed a significant uptick in the necessity of overwhelming airpower to save coalition forces. (When you have the only Air Force, you of course win every battle. But at what cost?)

It only stands to reason that as the war grinds on, the desert takes its toll on man and materiel alike, and as coalition forces feel the strain, those they are fighting are learning to develop tactics, and are strategizing to employ them effectively. They have are now attacking fortified positions.

None of this bodes well for the occupying forces.

Professor Cole is more diplomatic in his assessment than I – he says “[Y]ou have the sense that both politically and militarily, the British are hanging on in Basra by their fingernails.”

Unlike the esteemed Professor Cole, I have no possible future as a diplomat. I will be more blunt.

The Brits are losing Basra. Period.

Cross-posted from Blue Girl, Red State

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