Friday, July 20, 2007

November is the new September for Iraq surge analysis

MSNBC notes that November is now September for assessing the Iraq surge of additional troops:

Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno told reporters after a Senate hearing Thursday that he would need beyond September to tell if improvements in Iraq represent long-term trends.

“In order to do a good assessment I need at least until November” said Odierno, a deputy to Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. military commander in Iraq.

Come November, January will be the next September, according to Odierno, Petraeus or Ryan Crocker, all singing from the Tom Friedman/Herbert Hoover hymnal that old neo-con standby, “Victory is Just Around the Corner.”

No, victory isn’t. But more bullshit is. So is more lying. More dysfunctionality. And more needless, senseless death. Remember, Petraeus has already made noise about a second surge next year.

Cross-posted at Socratic Gadfly and Watching Those We Choose.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Michael Duffy: official idiot

First, Kevin Drum points out how he botches Reid-Levin and how his criticism of total withdrawal is wrong.

Here’s my take on why his call for partial withdrawal is also wrong:

Partial withdrawal basically means getting your ass shot at three or four times — first when you go through all the work of extricating part of your troops while moving others to consolidate them into fewer bases, etc.; second when you make yourself targeted by being in fewer bases, meaning insurgents’ attacks can be consolidated; third, by being more vulnerable to attacks when you do go on patrol, because you have fewer patrols from fewer bases, so street attacks against troops can also be consolidated — plus you have less firepower to disrupt this consolidation; then, fourth, when you finally do withdraw the rest of the troops, you get shot at again.

And, that’s not all. It means taxing military leaders to craft two sets of complex, complicated plans, one for the initial, partial withdrawal and another for the final withdrawal; it means extra expenditure of resources and probably means extra casualties.

Partial withdrawal is the stupidest thing.

Cross-posted at Socratic Gadfly and Watching Those We Choose.

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Bush gives al Qaeda its boogeyman

I don’t think I could say it any better than Gary Kamiya:

Jihadists need their American boogeyman as much as Bush needs his Islamist boogeyman. By fighting them in the wrong way and on the wrong terrain, we have inadvertently allowed them to claim the heroic mantle of nationalism and anti-Americanism. When the U.S. occupiers leave, Osama bin Laden and his ilk will groan in despair. ...

By conflating jihadists with militant, religiously oriented national liberation movements like Hamas, Bush has not only undercut the support we might otherwise have received from Arab populations for police operations against genuine jihadists, he has helped to create toxic new forms of anti-Western extremism. … The irony is that without our help, the jihadists would be struggling to survive. As Gilles Kepel, a French expert on radical Islam, argues in "The War for Muslim Minds," very few Muslims, no matter how radical, support al-Qaida. "Beyond the circle of Bin Laden and Zawahiri and their supporters and admirers ... the majority of Islamists and salafists, let alone most of the world's Muslims, no longer see the commando action carried out by 'the umma's blessed vanguard' against the twin towers and the Pentagon as fulfilling the promise of jihad," Kepel writes. "On the contrary, after the first few seconds of enthusiasm for this blow to America's 'arrogance,' most Muslims saw the massacre of innocents on Sept. 11 as opening the door to disorder and devastation within the house of Islam."

The suggestion that we now leave a bunch of fanatical mass murderers alone may strike most Americans as cowardly and morally contemptible. But what we want are results, not self-righteous campaigns that make matters worse. Bush's righteous war has failed. To leave jihadists alone is not to appease them. It is to plan their isolation and eventual extinction more precisely.

Kamiya goes on to worry about what could happen if al-Qaeda gets established in Gaza or Lebanon.

I’m not that worried about that. I suspect that Egypt would give tacit assent to Israel cracking down in Gaza and that Syria, where a majority is Druze or Alawite or otherwise non-Sunni, that Assad would do the same in Lebanon. (Another reason why it’s absurd for Bush to think AQI is getting support from Damascus.)

Cross-posted at Socratic Gadfly and Watching Those We Choose.

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Iraq Moratorium Day: September 21, 2007

“Anyone who thinks they are too small to make a difference has never been in bed with a mosquito.” Mahatma Gandhi

If you were to ask my children, they would tell you that when I get to the point of stone-cold deliberative, that is when to get scared.

I am at that point with the occupation of Iraq.

I am saying “When.”

The Vietnam War ended after ordinary people – nurses, secretaries, teachers, bankers, housewives, lawyers, factory workers, men and women, all colors and all creeds, from all walks of life, peacefully and calmly assembled to display their conviction that their government was not acting in the best interest of the American people, and that the war had to be stopped; by assembling on a monthly basis to make their displeasure known.

Recalling that part of history, and toward that end, I have committed to spending the afternoon of September 21, and every third Friday of every month thereafter to protest the ongoing occupation of Iraq and demand a withdrawal of American forces from combat operations in that country.

You can find more information about the Iraq Moratorium at and find out about activities in your area.

If you don’t find a group or an event near you, you can still take part.

  • Use that time to write a letter to the editor of your local paper.
  • Send an email to your representatives in the legislature.
  • Call the White House switchboard.
  • Call the House and Senate switchboards.
  • Take part in an online discussion.
  • Contact your state legislators and demand that they take up the issues that affect your state. (When the Guard is deployed they are not here to fight wildfires and clean up after tornados or sandbag levees during floods.)

Enough. They don’t want to listen, so we have to make ourselves heard.

We raise our voices in unison on September 21.

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Fragmented Iraqi resistance begins to unite

The Guardian has an excellent article about how non-AQI insurgency movements are beginning to coalesce. Here’s one member’s take on the growing movement:

“Resistance isn’t just about killing Americans without any aims or goals,” says Abd al-Rahman al-Zubeidy, the political spokesman of Ansar al-Sunna. [Note: The story changes the actual names of people. “Our people have come to hate al-Qaida, which gives the impression to the outside world that the resistance in Iraq are terrorists. Suicide bombing is not the best way to fight because it kills innocent civilians. We are against indiscriminate killing — fighting should be concentrated only on the enemy. They [al-Qaida] believe that all Shia are kuffar [unbelievers] - and most of the Sunnis as well.” They estimate that al-Qaida now carries out between a fifth and a third of all attacks in Iraq.

Zubeidy also says the group has no direct contact with the Syrian government, contra another BushCo claim that Damascus is responsible for much of the problem in Iraq. And, The Guardian notes that Ba’athists, as well as AQI, are not part of this coalition.

That said, Zubeidy and other Sunni insurgents are also now calling for an outreach to Shi’a insurgent groups.

Why is the real insurgency starting to speak out now? The Guardian says that it’s in anticipation of US/UK withdrawal.

And what’s next?
“Peaceful resistance will not end the occupation,” states Abu Ahmad. “The US has made clear that it intends to stay in Iraq for many decades. Now it is a common view in the resistance that they will start to withdraw within a year.” Right or wrong, that is one of the factors that has led to the decision to form the new front, which is planned to be called the Political Office for the Iraqi Resistance. As well as Iraqi Hamas, the 1920 Revolution Brigades and the new Ansar al-Sunna, it is to include the powerful Jaish (army) al-Islami, Jaish al-Mujahideen, Jama' and Jaish al-Rashideen. The plan is to hold a congress of the seven groups to announce the front's formation and then move towards the establishment of some form of public presence outside Iraq, though it is hard to see any state being prepared to risk the wrath of the US by hosting such an outfit. “It would need UN protection,” Zubeidy suggests.

Now, I’m not sure how realistic of an idea this is, but the fact that it’s being broached indicates to me that the real insurgency is gaining steam.

Cross-posted at Socratic Gadfly and Watching Those We Choose.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I had a fight with a friend yesterday, not a fight actually, more of a one sided shouting match with me doing the shouting. It wasn't my proudest moment.

He was seated a few barstools away from me in our mutual watering hole and talking to someone else when I heard him say, "We need to fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them over here."

I saw red. "There is no "we" involved here, you and little George and all the rest of the chickenhawk pukes that keep repeating that stupid and completely wrong bullshit should be taken out and shot for repeating it." "And you can take George Bush and stick him up your ass," I said calmly, at the top of my lungs. Again, it wasn't my proudest moment, although I thought the argument sound, on it's face.

Now, I have known this guy for several years and he's a very decent guy, hard working, fun to be around, I like him in spite of the fact that he thinks he's a Republican. (That Reagan thing again.) He gets this crap from talk radio. (Bill Cunningham, in his case,)

He drives a monster front loader all day and listens to these blithering idiots spout the usual Hannity/Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, neo-con, authoritarian, lame assed party line on the radio and I think he believes that he is hearing the voice of America, maybe even that of the Lord. He is not alone in this nasty habit, there are many, many others glued to their radios, daily, listening to the same libelous litany of lies and misinformation, a poisonous pablum fed by the corporate world to the mind of working class America. It is, after all, a free country, sort of.

Normally we joke around and rib each other about politics and it's all in fun and enjoyable but yesterday I was writing a piece on the National Intelligence Estimate and the crypto Nazi language contained therein. I had been worrying over it all day and by beer thirty I was thoroughly pissed at the State of the Union and, I guess, emotionally locked and loaded.

I take this war, this criminal fiasco, very personally. I did a tour in Vietnam as a young Marine many years ago and it feels as if, with every headline, with every story of the deaths of our Kids, every rotten bit of news that comes out of Iraq that I am losing a younger brother or sister. These people are family to me.

It's a daily dose of trauma, listening to the news of the war. Speaking and writing against it, against this criminal war, against the stubborn, dishonest, greedy people who have fraudulently promoted it, hurts, and the pain is liberally seasoned with a large measure of insult and humiliation, piled on by spineless, arrogant and uncaring policy makers, and a national press that does little but bang the drumbeat of it's masters.

I'm told that I shouldn't take it personally but I just don't know any other way. This is My country that these criminals are wrecking, my Children and Grandchildren that they are destroying.  I see the faces of the people they are killing, the faces of the families they are destroying, I can hear the shrieks of grief and pain and rage that emanate from thousands of American homes, from tens of thousands of Iraqi homes and it makes me nearly insane with rage.

I had another friend, Jim Thill. Jim died a couple of years ago, tall rangy, a crusty old curmudgeon with a bright sparkle in his eyes who fought his way from the southern tip of Korea all the way to what is now the DMZ. He was only 22 when he came home, 22 when he came home from his war. We served on an honor guard together for a few years, folding flags and firing rifles at veteran's funerals. Hundreds of them. Many times while standing at attention saluting the colors as the bugle sounded taps I would see the tears well up in Jim's eyes, through the tears in my own, and see the involuntary spasm of his body as he fought to keep from sobbing.

Jim knew war, He knew. A few days after Bush invaded Iraq we were sharing a few beers at the local VFW, the mood was tense and somewhat somber, all the TV's were tuned to the war and the old men watched as our kids began the incredible task of fighting their way from Basra to Baghdad, as they began their war.

Jim looked at me and asked me what I thought and I told him that I was worried, I was afraid that we were going to suffer heavy losses and inflict the same on thousands of innocent Iraqi's. "A lot of people are gonna get hurt in this mess," I said. I asked him, in turn what he thought. He sipped his beer and wiped his mouth with the back of an ancient hand and said, "I think George Bush just let his mouth overload "Our" ass." "I'll see you tomorrow," Marylyn's got dinner waitin'.

Jim's gone now, a victim of time, one of many who saw war, who knew it intimately, who was, as are all who serve and survive war a living victim, one who spoke against it when he knew it to be wrong. He lived nearly six decades behind those tears, fighting off long buried sobs of grief, living in his own personal knowledge of war.

I'm growing old at an accelerating rate and can't afford to lose the friends that remain, those still among the living, who haven't fallen to war or disease, or simple boredom or the horrible ravages and indignities of time. So I guess I'll stop in at the old saloon tomorrow and apologize for my heated words and my rude behavior.

I suppose that when the man who calls himself President and all those around him, when half the congress and a great chunk of the press repeat the same lame ass statements that pour from said "President's" mouth to overload "Our" ass, it's probably too much to expect that they won't be parroted by half of the average citizens. After all, It's a free country, sort of.

I guess I'll just have to start wearing earplugs, I've become much too sensitive and I don't want to do anything drastic like give up drinking in crummy saloons with my few friends.

Bob Higgins

Worldwide Sawdust

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Gettin' High On That "Homeland" Thing

Americans are just giddy over this "Homeland" thing.

We judge the US Homeland will face a persistent and evolving terrorist threat over the next three years. The main threat comes from Islamic terrorist groups and cells, especially al-Qa'ida, driven by their undiminished intent to attack the Homeland and a continued effort by these terrorist groups to adapt and improve their capabilities.

The statement above comes from the "National Intelligence Estimate" (NIE) which was issued today by the office of the director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell.

I read the so called NIE this morning and the most interesting thing that I learned was that the word "homeland" was used eleven times in a page and a half. The 766 word document that probably cost millions to compile, print, bind and distribute informs me of ..... nothing new. al Quaeda is a threat and will continue to be, and so on, they still hate us. Pardon me, but ho hum.

We assess that greatly increased worldwide counterterrorism efforts over the past five years have constrained the ability of al-Qa'ida to attack the US Homeland again and have led terrorist groups to perceive the Homeland as a harder target to strike than on 9/11. These measures have helped disrupt known plots against the United States since 9/11.

We (the people of the United States) have spent an unimaginable amount of money, (500 billion, half a trillion, who's counting,... not these rummies, they're way too busy spending) and squandered the lives of thousands of our Children and Grandchildren, as well as the physical and emotional well being of many tens of thousands more during the the last five years. Not a damn thing has been accomplished and these bastards have the nerve to offer "assessments?" "progress reports?"

Every time I hear the word "homeland" or just about any phrase which contains it, like "homeland security," "protect the homeland," or "threats to the homeland," for some reason my blood runs a little colder. I guess the term was first popularized in the wake of the 911 attacks, but even back then it then it made my hair stand on end.

We are concerned, however, that this level of international cooperation may wane as 9/11 becomes a more distant memory and perceptions of the threat diverge. Al-Qa'ida is and will remain the most serious terrorist threat to the Homeland, as its central leadership continues to plan high-impact plots, while pushing others in extremist Sunni communities to mimic its efforts and to supplement its capabilities. We assess the group has protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability, including: a safe haven in the Pakistan Federally Administered tribal Areas (FATA), operational lieutenants, and its top leadership. Although we have discovered only a handful of individuals in the United States with ties to al-Qa'ida senior leadership since 9/11, we judge that al-Qa'ida will intensify its efforts to put operatives here.

The level of international cooperation has and will continue to wane. Not because the memory has faded nor perceptions of the threat diverged (what the hell does that mean?) interest is "waning" because most of the rest of the world has come to the inescapable conclusion that the control of the American government has fallen into the hands of liars fools and criminals. Our military itself has said that in Iraq, the major threat is from the radical Shia militias, not from al Quaeda in Iraq. These bastards are lying out of both sides of their mouths and spitting in our faces down the middle.

Maybe it's just a psychological connection caused by a lifetime of exposure to the now ancient black and white war and spy movies, or a remembrance of the propagandistic documentaries of my youth, growing up as I did during the early years of the "Cold War." The term never fails to bring to my mind visions of Hitler on the dais, arm raised before the admiring and hysterical crowd, or Stalin, standing rigidly, peering over his mustaches as Soviet armor and missiles parade past the Kremlin, "Homeland" conjures images of Stalinist art or Maoist posters.

As a result, we judge that the United States currently is in a heightened threat environment. We assess that al-Qa'ida will continue to enhance its capabilities to attack the Homeland through greater cooperation with regional terrorist groups. Of note, we assess that al-Qa'ida will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI), its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the Homeland. In addition, we assess that its association with AQI helps al-Qa'ida to energize the broader Sunni extremist community, raise resources, and to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks.

Back in 2001 bin Laden was "assessed" by these same chowder heads, to be worth a couple hundred million bucks,  now we spend that amount in Iraq in less than a week and most of that money is going into the pockets of those who backed this caper in the first place. At the rate things are going I'm not the least surprised that al Quaeda or Mutaqa al Sadr will have more success recruiting suicidal idiots than we are at recruiting the last kid who wants to die in Iraq.

It is, to me, as if the word itself, represents some distant archetype of terror and madness, contains vestigial memories of barely realized childhood fears and insecurities, dim memories of the saga of war and holocaust, of witch hunts, of persecutions.

We assess that al-Qa'ida's Homeland plotting is likely to continue to focus on prominent political, economic, and infrastructure targets with the goal of producing mass casualties, visually dramatic destruction, significant economic aftershocks, and/or fear among the US population. The group is proficient with conventional small arms and improvised explosive devices, and is innovative in creating new capabilities and overcoming security obstacles.

Well, gee, I hope to shout that they are proficient, they have been practicing on the proving ground which we provided for five years, and during that time personnel, weapons and mountains of cash have been pouring across every border,  Syria, Jordan, Iran, most of it from Saudi Arabia. The Iraqis want us out, hell everybody in the region wants us out, except of course those who so persistently demand that the Iraqi parliament come to an agreement on the awarding of oil concessions and division of the revenue.... hmmmm.

I don't like the word, "Homeland" especially in the context that it currently used, nor do I like the collection of phrases which include it that have been concocted by the Goebellian band of spinmeisters and inveterate liars that compose the current concert of neo-con government functionaries and media shills that passes for the press these days.

We assess that al-Qa'ida will continue to try to acquire and employ chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear material in attacks and would not hesitate to use them if it develops what it deems is sufficient capability.

This wholly asinine statement reminds me of the months after Bush's fraudulent State of the Union address and when, in trying to dissemble and back pedal like some little frat boy caught out after curfew, he said that Saddam was guilty of having the "intent" to develop weapons of mass destruction. Is anyone listening to these people?

America is not the Homeland, except perhaps to the Seneca or the Shoshone, the ancient Anasazi or the more recent indigenous people that we gave a fast push across the country and onto useless land that no one else wanted,  until oil and the internal combustion engine came along that is.

We assess Lebanese Hizballah, which has conducted anti-US attacks outside the United States in the past, may be more likely to consider attacking the Homeland over the next three years if it perceives the United States as posing a direct threat to the group or Iran. We assess that the spread of radical?especially Salafi?Internet sites, increasingly aggressive anti-US rhetoric and actions, and the growing number of radical, self-generating cells in Western countries indicate that the radical and violent segment of the West's Muslim population is expanding, including in the United States. The arrest and prosecution by US law enforcement of a small number of violent Islamic extremists inside the United States? who are becoming more connected ideologically, virtually, and/or in a physical sense to the global extremist movement?points to the possibility that others may become sufficiently radicalized that they will view the use of violence here as legitimate. We assess that this internal Muslim terrorist threat is not likely to be as severe as it is in Europe, however. We assess that other, non-Muslim terrorist groups?often referred to as "single-issue" groups by the FBI?probably will conduct attacks over the next three years given their violent histories, but we assess this violence is likely to be on a small scale.

We assess that globalization trends and recent technological advances will continue to enable even small numbers of alienated people to find and connect with one another, justify and intensify their danger, and mobilize resources to attack?all without requiring a centralized terrorist organization, training camp, or leader.

"I assess that in the paragraph above they are setting the stage for operations in Iran and Lebanon and the preparation of domestic internment camps. But what the hell the last five years have made me a little jumpy."

We're not the Fatherland either, nor are we the Motherland (which, I think, is pretty well synonymous, except for that gender thing) Fatherland implies, to me, ethnicity, something that America doesn't have one of. Instead we have all of them. In our wisdom, and in the liberal spirit of the age at our foundation, we decided to have all ethnicity's, to be a land of liberty and opportunity for all the downtrodden of the earth. I'm proud of that, so were my parents and Grandparents proud, of THAT.

The ability to detect broader and more diverse terrorist plotting in this environment

will challenge current US defensive efforts and the tools we use to detect and disrupt

plots. It will also require greater understanding of how suspect activities at the local

level relate to strategic threat information and how best to identify indicators of

terrorist activity in the midst of legitimate interactions.

Since I'm in an assessing mood after reading all this high dollar assessing, I will go further out on this limb and assess that the paragraph above this one tells me not to say anything on the telephone that I don't want Karl Rove reading a summary of in the morning.

Speaking of summaries this whole National Intelligence thing could have been done for a lot less money. They're always talking about privatizing these things, aren't they? Had they brought it to us here at Worldwide Sawdust we would have turned the project over to our subsidiary, Worldwide Bullshit. They would have brought that baby in for less than fifty grand.

We also wouldn't have got it completely wrong, al Quaeda isn't the main threat facing America, now or in the near future, not even close. We would have assessed instead, that the major danger to America is represented by the people who delivered a "National Intelligence Estimate" and used the word "Homeland" eleven times and the word "America" not at all.

That frightens me.

Bob Higgins

Worldwide Sawdust

Related Stories
Intelligence Report Warns of al-Qaeda's Capabilities
A persistent and evolving terrorist threat

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The Yugo-Forders, otherwise known as “Al Qaeda in Iraq”

“Huhhh?” you may be saying at this moment. Let me explain.

As Blue Girl posted at Proctoring Congress, mainstream media groups such as The New York Times seem too willing to conflate Al Qaeda in Iraq with a whole panoply of groups and splinter movements of Sunni and nominally Sunni terrorists and insurgents in Iraq, running from basically secular unreconstructed Baathists to and through various Falafists, whether called AQI or not.

In a political e-mail group on Yahoo, in response to one of Bush’s “there has to be a pony here somewhere” true believers, I started calling AQI “Yugo-Forders.”

I said, “You can slap a Ford badge on a Yugo; that doesn’t make it a Ford.”

I’m surprised he hasn’t come back with the “franchisee” counterargument, i.e., saying that a franchise 7-11 is just like a corporately owned store. I’ll shoot it down if he does, because the Yugo-Forders simply declared themselves to be “Al Qaeda in Iraq,” and that’s not the way 7-11 works. It would have nothing to gain by adopting every convenience store that calls itself 7-11 as being an actual 7-11.

If my metaphor sounds a bit clunky, try another one. But, we need to counter the incredulity, gullibility and BushCo stenography of the MSM with an alternative.

Cross-posted at Socratic Gadfly and Watching Those We Choose.

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What's the OOIBC's September Strategy?

So, we hear today that

Bush paid a surprise visit to a gathering of GOP congressional staffers and White House aides trying to determine an effective strategy for communications about war policies.

Why am I not surprised that they met to talk about their propaganda strategy and not their foreign policy strategy? This is confirmed by the following:

One participant said the president told the staffers he would not rethink his Iraq policies until after a critical military assessment in September.

That's right, Bush isn't even going to think about policy strategies until September.

We're told, however, that his Joint Chiefs of Staff are thinking about options come September: More troops or the same level of troops.

It's only a matter of time until troops are scaled back and the US shifts to using more "air support." In fact, the later is already happening.

The escalation worries some about an increase in “collateral damage,” casualties among Iraqi civilians. [2]

As US troops withdraw, increased air power is almost inevitable. We have the experience of the Vietnam timeline to draw on.

The US peace movement has to sharpen its message and demand that such bombings not occur. In addition, we need to expose the giant military bases in Iraq and demand that they are closed; we don't simply want the Democrat's Republican-lite troop redeployment.

So, what's the Out of Iraq Blogger Caucus' strategy for September 2007? A better question is, what's the August strategy?


1. Associated Press, Democrats push all-night debate on Iraq, ANNE FLAHERTY, July 17, 2007.

2. Associated Press, BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq, U.S. air power beefed up, used more in Iraq, July 15, 2007.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Fatuous Nonsense of the Week Award goes to Bill Kristol

I discovered this morning that the Bush presidency is a success.
Boy, was I surprised.

Bill Kristol explains it all in an article at The Washington Post that gets my recommendation for the Fatuous Nonsense of the Week Award.

He opens by admitting that such an assertion may expose him to some "harmless ridicule" and proceeds to offer two pages of proof as to why such ridicule might be justified.

"Let's step back from the unnecessary mistakes and the self-inflicted wounds that have characterized the Bush administration. Let's look at the broad forest rather than the often unlovely trees. What do we see? First, no second terrorist attack on U.S. soil -- not something we could have taken for granted. Second, a strong economy -- also something that wasn't inevitable."

Sure Bill let's examine the Bush presidency by not looking too closely at the "unlovely trees" by which I assume that you refer to the death and destruction that follows everything this administration has touched or even glanced at in the last seven years. Every time I hear that bromide about "no second attack on US soil," I'm reminded of the old elementary school joke about keeping the elephants away, and the punchline, "you don't see any elephants around here, do you?

It may be that there have been no attacks on US soil because we have thoughtfully accommodated the terrorists of the world by presenting them with such an attractive target as our presence in Iraq. They don't need to come here to hurt us, we have been expending blood and treasure in copious amounts for something like 52 months in their home ballpark. We're the ones with the long supply lines, they need only a bus ticket or cab fare from Damascus, Waziristan or Riyadh.

We're losing over a hundred of our troops every month and probably eight to ten  times that many wounded, while bringing about the deaths, maiming or ruin of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and inviting the continued and well deserved scorn of most of the civilized world, as we merrily mass produce Islamic terrorists by the battalion in Iraq. All told, I think it would be cheaper to fight them here.

But cost is not an issue is it Bill? As one of the principal architects of this criminal madness, I'm sure that you find great comfort in the fact that the lion's share of the trillions of dollars of public funds being expended in pursuit of empire will end up in select private hands, which is the primary goal of those you represent, more money, more power in the hands of the bloated few and the rest of us standing in line for a minimum wage that you hope to eliminate.

"What about terrorism? Apart from Iraq, there has been less of it, here and abroad, than many experts predicted on Sept. 12, 2001. So Bush and Vice President Cheney probably are doing some important things right. The war in Afghanistan has gone reasonably well."

If after nearly six years "reasonably well" means that Kabul is generally safe for the activities of journalists, arms merchants and drug smugglers, I suppose that's true, but what about the other 95% of Afghanistan?

Just across the border in the wilds of Waziristan, Osama and his henchman are thriving, living in relative safety, knowing that American forces have other priorities, are bogged down in Iraq and long ago stopped caring about them. They've been operating there with impunity ever since our military was directed to allow them to escape from the caves of Tora Bora.

You guys (That's you Billy, you and Daddy Irving, along with Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, PNAC, American Enterprise, the whole stinking, chicken hawk cesspot),you guys, didn't want bin Laden then, and you don't want him now, he's your rainmaker, you can't afford to lose him, he's the driving force behind the enormous profits in your ongoing rape of the public treasury. You need Osama, if he went belly up tomorrow you would have to replace him quickly, the continued existence of the bogeyman of "Islamofascism is the centerpiece of your ballgame.

"But wait, wait, wait: What about Iraq? It's Iraq, stupid -- you (and 65 percent of your fellow Americans) say -- that makes Bush an unsuccessful president. Not necessarily. First of all, we would have to compare the situation in Iraq now, with all its difficulties and all the administration's mistakes, with what it would be if we hadn't gone in. Saddam Hussein would be alive and in power and, I dare say, victorious, with the United States (and the United Nations) by now having backed off sanctions and the no-fly zone. He might well have restarted his nuclear program, and his connections with al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups would be intact or revived and even strengthened.

The lies contained in the quotation above have been repeated over and over by every hack, crony and crook in this corrupt administration, by every spineless lickspittle Bush backer in the Congress and by every slimy seditious war profiteer, in every sector of American business, from energy to finance and by a sizable number of the loyalist clergy from the pulpits of the tin hat theocratic right. They were lies in 2001, and they remain lies today. Repetition will not change the facts and those who do the repeating are transparent liars. Please Bill include your name in that column.

"Following through to secure the victory in Iraq and to extend its benefits to neighboring countries will be the task of the next president. And that brings us to Bush's final test."

Pity the poor next President as he tries to present other countries in the region (or in sub Saharan Africa; that's the next stop on the old Empire express isn't it?) with an opportunity to share in the beneficence we bestowed on their Mesopotamian neighbors. See how they run!

If we sustain the surge for a year and continue to train Iraqi troops effectively, we can probably begin to draw down in mid- to late 2008. The fact is that military progress on the ground in Iraq in the past few months has been greater than even surge proponents like me expected, and political progress is beginning to follow. Iran is a problem, and we will have to do more to curb Tehran's meddling -- but we can. So if we keep our nerve here at home, we have a good shot at achieving a real, though messy, victory in Iraq."

When and how, Billy, did you become a strategic thinker, a military analyst, it wasn't in Vietnam where, I'm sure, like so many other young men of your generation, you were offered an opportunity to serve, it wasn't in any area of military service was it, no, like Cheney and Wolfowitz you had other priorities.

Oh yeah, they once called you Dan Quayle's brain, didn't they? I think I'd try to get that off the resume.

Let me remind you that by mid to late 2008 we will have thrown away the lives of an additional thousand or more young American troops and sent another 8000 or so to enjoy the tender mercies of an underfunded veteran's health care system. How many more innocent Iraqis will be killed if we listen to you. Oh, that's right, no one's counting Iraqi casualties are they? Why start now?

You are so smugly certain with your pronouncements. To the uninitiated, your words, accompanied by the self satisfied grin, have a veneer of respectability and authority, but, to many of us who have been on the receiving end of what you call "American foreign policy" they are just more self serving, chicken hawk, patrician prattle.

Here's one of your pronouncements of a few years back, at the beginning of the Iraq war, for which you beat your little drum so loudly, and so frequently, you said this:

"There's been a certain amount of pop sociology in America ... that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular."

Oh? Really?

I hope that there is a special place in Hell for the Goebbels, the McNamaras, the strategic thinkers and systems analysts, all the accountants of carnage and human misery and I hope that you have the opportunity to join them.

But before that lovely and eternal event I would like to see you in uniform, and fallen, after many grueling months of terror and sadness, of heat and sleeplessness and extreme exertion, of living in filth, fallen, grievously wounded, frightened and alone, lying in a pool of your own blood and gore, your life ebbing before your eyes. I would like to see the look in your eyes as you realize that you are about to be the last American to die in Iraq.

Bob Higgins

Worldwide Sawdust

Why Bush Will Be A Winner

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