Saturday, September 8, 2007

No More Bleed and Win

The topic below was originally posted in my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

Political schemes are afoot as congress anticipates the report to be delivered by David Petraeus this Monday. Our pitiful and pathetic democracy has been reduced to outsourcing its national security policy to a general with a history of erroneous assessments about progress in Iraq. This is what Petraues wrote in his opening paragraph for an op-ed in the Washington Post on September 26, 2004:

“Helping organize, train and equip nearly a quarter-million of Iraq's security forces is a daunting task. Doing so in the middle of a tough insurgency increases the challenge enormously, making the mission akin to repairing an aircraft while in flight -- and while being shot at. Now, however, 18 months after entering Iraq, I see tangible progress. Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt from the ground up.”
Think about it. Three years ago he claimed tangible progress was being made inside Iraq and this very same man’s testimony is being anticipated with more reverence than Moses upon his return from Mt. Sinai.

It has come to this because nobody believes a word President Bush says anymore while the so-called opposition Democratic Party suffers from battered wife syndrome. Meanwhile, Republicans in congress are desperate for cover yet still hoping they can turn their jingoism knife into Democrats as they did after Vietnam. Hence, Bush needed a new medals wearing puppet to serve as his mouthpiece while members of congress are poised to either exploit the veneer of Petraeus’s medals or cower behind the weasel words of "bipartisanship."

It’s a sick kabuki dance. Congressional Republicans want to save face and ensure their survival in the post Bush era. If they can sign onto bipartisan legislation that establishes a force reduction as a goal without a mandated target date for withdrawal, they will have the cover and save face. And later they can always turn on the Democrats with their jingoism knife when the moment is right for “losing Iraq.”

Democrats are hoping to implement a strategy of bleed and win. They oppose the war rhetorically but don’t have the nerve to follow through where it counts and cutoff funding. The Iraq war has served Democrats well, driving down Bush’s ratings and filling up party coffers. I’m not so sure they really want it to end at this point.

So after Petraeus delivers his report, enough Republicans will likely join Democrats on legislation that won’t end the war. Yes some forces will be reduced next year out of logistical necessity and the Democrats will claim they forced “a change.” But the war will go on still and more will die for no good reason. A political solution with regional input that also includes Iraq’s neighbors contributing to reconstruction is the only way to go and can’t happen with our toxic presence.

Watching this insanity I can’t help but think of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone. Senator Wellstone, along with his wife and daughter tragically died in a plane crash on October 25, 2002. Five years ago the political climate was very different. Yet Wellstone, with the political winds in his face during a tough re-election fight didn’t waver. Prior to voting against authorizing the use of force in Iraq, Wellstone simply said,
“I’m not making a decision I don’t believe in.”
Sadly, too many members of congress don’t possess the Wellstone standard about their decisions. Most are content to let the war go on and score political points to their advantage as best they can. They care little for the blood that is shed. Unlike Wellstone, the prestige and perks of power matter more to them. Both parties are hoping to implement a strategy of bleeding in Iraq while winning at the ballot box.

I worked my butt off to elect Democrats in 2006 but to this point they only seem to care about “bleeding and winning.” They're not inclined to make policy decisions based on what’s right like Paul Wellstone. But hopefully there are enough Democrats who can be forced to acknowledge the will of the people. Perhaps not but we still have to try.

Most Republicans of course are beholden to a crazy constituency that wouldn’t know the truth if it hit them in the face with an exploding cannon ball. Sadly, too many Republicans are feculent and completely beyond redemption. Some of their senators however may serve in states with enough blue leaning voters that they can’t simply dismiss antiwar sentiments. A few house Republicans are feeling heat too.

Click here to contact your senator and here for your representative in the House of Represenatives. Let them know you've had enough of their "bleed and win" gambits. It's time to bring the troops home.

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Some Questions for General Petraeus

Ever since the Surge™ plans rolled off the presses at the American Enterprise Institute and the escalation got underway, any time anyone has brought up withdrawal of troops and drawing down in Iraq, Resident Evil™ and his slavering lackeys have engaged in a stall tactic. “Wait for September.” is the rote refrain. “Wait to hear what General Petraeus has to say.” Well, it's September.

(As if we could count on receiving the unvarnished truth about success on the ground! Ha! I inwardly roll my eyes. I’ve read that op-ed before – right before the last presidential selection, in fact.)

Well, we know he is going to spin and mince and parse and do a soft-soap routine extraordinaire. None the less, when he is in front of the congressional committees, I would dearly love to see him asked to answer the following questions – and for the committees to make him answer them in a forthright manner.

Start at the beginning.

General Petraeus, could you start by defining the mission of the U.S. military in Iraq? How does that correspond with the original grounds for the invasion?

What was the population of Iraq in March 2003? What was the unemployment rate? GNP?

What is the population now? Unemployment rate? GNP?

How many Iraqis have fled the country as refugees? How many people have fled violence in their neighborhoods and home districts, but remain in the country as internally displaced persons? How many internal refugee camps have sprung up in recent months?

Of the population remaining in Iraq, how many would you estimate are actively involved with violence toward other Iraqis? Toward American troops?

Would you provide the names of and background on groups which the U.S. maintains have engaged in violence against Americans?

al Qaeda in Iraq

Of the jihadist/resistance fighters in Iraq, how many claim an affiliation with al Qaeda? How many are members of the main al Qaeda organization, and would take direct orders from ObL? Of those claiming membership in AQI, how many are Iraqis? How many are foreign nationals? Of the foreign nationals, where do they come from? How many jihadist fighters do you estimate come from each of these other nations? How many were loyal to al Qaeda before the United States invaded Iraq? Can you provide names and background information on those claiming to be AQI leadership? Are any of the professed leaders Iraqi? How many? How many people in Iraq professed membership in or allegiance to al Qaeda in March 2003.

The Insurgency

Can you provide the statistics on insurgents by sect? Can you give us this information for each province? Of the insurgents in Iraq today, how many have been active since the invasion? How many have taken up arms since the bombing of the al-Askiri Shrine in February 2006? What provinces have seen attacks committed against American forces since the “Surge™” achieved >50% of the troop buildup. What provinces have been violence free in this time period?

Iraqi Casualties

How does the U.S. count Iraqis killed by gunshots? How are Iraqis killed by explosions counted? How are Iraqis killed by American air strikes counted? Do you feel the slightest pang of conscience when you parse death statistics by whether a victim died execution style, or facing their killer? Do you think that matters to the decedent or their family?

Iraqi Perceptions

How many Iraqis oppose continuing the American military presence in that country? Of Iraqi not engaged in violence against Americans nonetheless do not object to attacks against American forces?

The Missing Millions

How much cash was airlifted to Iraq after the invasion of 2003? We know that $110 million went missing from your command in Mosul. What happened to that money, General? How much of that missing money has been used to fund the insurgency, either directly or indirectly?

The Missing Weapons

We know that fully half of American casualties in Iraq are the result of the failure to secure munitions (al Qua Qua) in the early days of the invasion. Were you in any way responsible for the decisions that led to that failure? Who was? Have they faced any accountability?

The GAO estimates that approximately half of all light weapons supplied by American forces to Iraqi military and police forces – 190,000 AK-47’s and handguns – have gone missing. Who got those weapons? Have they been turned against American forces? Used against other Iraqis in sectarian attacks? Used in criminal acts?


How many bridges have been attacked since the troop buildup got underway?

How many hours of electricity does the average Iraqi experience in a day? What was the average before the invasion in March 2003? What was the average temperature in Iraq this August? How do Iraqis cool their homes? How many times has the electrical grid been attacked by insurgents since the start of the escalation? Who is responsible for the security of the grid? How many hours of electricity does your headquarters enjoy per day?

How many Iraqi homes, on average went without water for more than 24 hours during the month of August? What is the status of the water delivery system? How safe is the water to drink, when it is available? Hypothetically: If your family came to visit you in Iraq, would you feel comfortable with them drinking the water?


And then, after a brief restroom break, I would start asking even tougher questions about the status of the Iraqi security forces. And I would segue into the ten and twenty year occupation predictions and projections. But that is me – and I am not a lily-livered poltroon afraid of being perceived as being mean to a poor little helpless four-star general.

(Hat tip to one of the commenters at Political Animal for posting many of these same questions, and many more. Reading that comment, I was able to pull all the disparate strands of outrage together and write a post that passes for cogent.)

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The Day After: Responding to a Nuclear Attack

Most of us have either seen or read Tom Clancy’s The Sum of All Fears, in which a group of middle-Eastern terrorists construct a nuclear weapon (using material salvaged from an Israeli device), smuggle it into the United States, and detonate it during the Super Bowl. [Not that the book and movie are the same, by any means: in the book, Jack Ryan is in his late 30’s or early 40’s; in the movie, Ryan is still a college student, required because someone thought it critical to cast Ben Affleck in the role.]

Older readers may remember the made-for-TV movie The Day After. The 1983 production described the aftermath of a nuclear strike on Lawrence, Kansas, which was notable for being completely commercial-free after the detonations.

Of course, these weren’t the only movies made about nuclear holocausts – On The Beach, By Dawn’s Early Light, Fail Safe, and Doctor Strangelove, among others, kept Americans constantly aware of the horrors of nuclear war (not to mention still-vivid images of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

Novelists got into the act as well: in addition to Clancy, Robin Moore (who wrote The Green Berets and The French Connection) penned a story about some home-grown terrorists detonating a nuke during the State of the Union Address, in his book The Trinity Implosion. A number of senior NATO officers collaborated on two volumes, The Third World War, and The Third World War: The Untold Story while noted writers Whitley Streiber and James Kunetka created Warday.

While this may be a fascinating history lesson, I can hear you asking, “What does this have to do with the real world?”

A few days ago, I ran across an interesting article in The Washington Quarterly, entitled “The Day After: Action Following a Nuclear Blast in a U.S. City.” Unlike the works mentioned above, this piece is non-fiction. William J. Perry and Ashton B. Carter (Clinton’s Secretary and Assistant Secretary of Defense, respectively) and Michael M. May (former director of Lawrence Livermore National Lab) approach the topic from a disaster-preparedness point of view: “What will the United States actually do on the day after prevention fails?” [Remember, to crisis-management types, a disaster is always a “when” proposition, not “if”].

In a similar vein to the Chatham House report we looked at back in March, Carter, May and Perry examine the decisions and actions required after a nuclear attack. Pointing out that such an attack would be “the most catastrophic single event in the nation’s history and the worst possible failure of public policy,” the authors set a likely scenario – the detonation of a 10KT device in a major city – discuss the “grisly effects,” and posit some possible reactions.

In doing so, however, they emphasize a major flaw in our nation’s preparedness posture: the fiction that state and local governments will be able to manage such a crisis by themselves. In fact, after a nuclear detonation, state and local government – if they survive at all – would be almost immediately overwhelmed, requiring prompt Federal intervention, without awaiting the formality of a request from the governor(s) of the affected state(s).

The Department of Homeland Security has mandated that all state and local governmental units prepare “all-hazards disaster mitigation plans” complying with the National Response Plan and the National Incident Management System; there is not, however, a functional equivalent plan (yet) on the national level.

One might think, given the distinct possibility of a nuclear attack on a U.S. city, that the federal government would have already developed a realistic response plan specific to this scenario that marshals the resources of all the agencies. Remarkably, such a plan does not yet exist, although one is being drafted.

Of course, given the marginal grades earned by DHS in various GAO audits, any plan developed is liable to be fraught with errors, omissions, and ambiguities (see, for instance, my November 30, 2006, post here). And given the current administration’s efforts to completely politicize all aspects of the Federal government, one probably should not anticipate any great improvement.

One aspect of any eventual response that is not discussed, however, is the need for hundreds or thousands of trained responders. Many of these responders, of course, come from the National Guard and Reserve units – most of which are stretched to the breaking point, courtesy of the Iraq folly undertaken by the Cheney/bush administration.

Carter, May and Perry point out that “the prob­ability of nuclear terrorism, although it cannot be quantified, is not zero and is surely increasing as the number of sources of fissile material multiplies.” While a terrorist group could conceivably obtain either a full device or fissile material from a middle-Eastern government, it is unlikely that such a group would store the device on a battlefield. More plausibly, as the authors note, a group like al-Qaeda could purchase a device (or material) from a rogue nation like North Korea. Either way, a terrorist group’s first priority would be to get the weapon into the United States.

It is imperative, therefore, that we bring our troops home as rapidly as possible and make them available for response here in the U.S. They must be trained and equipped for the tasks expected of them – something about which the Department of Defense has been singularly lax; we can and simply must have “the military you would like to have.”

The Department of Homeland Security must be completely revamped, with proven professionals, not political cronies, in positions of authority. Funding must be provided, without being diverted to no-bid (and often, no-show) contracts for chosen corporations.

And last, but not least, we, as Americans, must begin accepting the need to prepare ourselves: we must obtain the training and supplies needed to survive on our own pending a government response, we must develop and practice emergency plans at home and at work, and most importantly, we must hold our elected officials responsible for serving us, not special interests.

[Cross-posted at WTWC and 618Rants]

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Betray Us Report

Betray Us Report
By David Swanson

"Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning…"

If you read the rest of The Trial by Franz Kafka you'll find that K. is not just arrested, but also executed, and that his execution comes as the perfectly natural conclusion to a series of infuriating steps, stages, and shiftings of goal posts.

In the end, General David Petraeus will appear in Congress on Monday, ask each Congress Member to turn and kneel, and put a bullet in the back of each of their heads. At first, that sounds outlandish. But let's review.

In 2003, Congress approved of a war based on a series of transparent lies. In 2006, the public voted an opposition party into power in Congress with the clear demand that it end the war which had now become an apparently permanent occupation of a foreign country with dozens of apparently permanent military bases constructed at enormous expense but not discussed and never approved. Of course the opposition party had already been in power in the Senate when it approved the war, but that was forgotten.

By 2006 all of the lies that had been told in 2003 were openly acknowledged as lies or at least "mistakes", but it was considered impudence to mention it. Right up through 2005, people like Senator Jay Rockefeller played the role of uncoverers of lies. Once in power in 2006, they forgot all about it. There will be no "Phase 2" report from the Senate Intelligence Committee any more than there will be a "Petraeus Report." In fact the leadership of the new majority party announced right away that ending the occupation and impeaching the president who had lied them into it were both "off the table." The new power in town opened up with a "100 hour agenda" that did not even acknowledge that the war existed.

The hall of mirrors was just beginning. In March of 2007, a minority within the new majority party proposed to end the occupation through an amendment that would be proposed to a bill funding the continuation of the occupation. So, nobody lobbied against the bill, because they wanted the amendment. In fact, most of the well-funded backers of the new majority quietly opposed the amendment and backed the bill. On the day before the vote on the bill, the party leadership announced that no amendments would be allowed.

"And the case begins all over again?" asked K. almost incredulously.

Forgotten before it could even be thought of was the fact that you could end the occupation by simply not voting on any bills to keep funding it. With that firmly forgotten, the bill was passed and promoted as a way to gradually end the occupation through a series of steps. Now the steps could all be "waived" by the president, so forcing him to end his war would require his cooperation. And instead of bringing the soldiers home, they would be "redeployed" to occupy some other country. But there would be so many loopholes that actually they could all stay right where they were. Nonetheless, the bill required that the president meet certain silly goals (or claim to have done so) by July 1 and others by October 1or begin "redeployment" and be done in 180 days. Of course, the president vetoed this.

And the peace groups that had opposed the bill now protested its veto, because their televisions had told them for weeks it was a bill to slowly end the war. They completely forgot how enraged they had been when it passed, so enraged were they when it was vetoed.

Universally accepted was that we all needed a new bill.

Again, it had been firmly forgotten before even being thought of that you would end the occupation by not bringing up bills to fund it. So, on May 7, the minority for peace within the majority party for peace cut a deal with the leadership. If this time they could be allowed a vote on their proposal to end the occupation, even though they'd lose the vote, they'd be happy to vote again for an even worse bill that the president wouldn't veto.

The new bill deleted everything related to "redeploying" the troops, but nobody was allowed to mention that topic on television or in a newspaper. Instead, the whole discussion was about the silly goals or "benchmarks" and how tough they were, even though the president was already known to approve of them. On May 10th, Congress voted on a bill to end the occupation, which failed, and then all but 10 of the same Congress Members who had just voted to end the occupation turned around and voted for the new bill to fund the occupation.

Congress Members Nancy Pelosi and David Obey turned against their own bill. They made sure it came up for a vote and passed, but voted against it. They were quite distressed. Obey remarked on the floor: "I hate this agreement. I'm going to vote against the major portion of this agreement even though I negotiated it." Too confused to cover this nonsense, the media finally remembered that this new bill said nothing about ending the war.

The president signed the bill.

But even this bill did say something about a bunch of stupid "benchmarks" and actually required that the president report to Congress on his progress, even though Congress wouldn't actually do anything about it, no matter what he said. The president was required by this law, which he himself signed into law, to produce two reports, one by July 15th and the other by September 15th . And the law requires that:

"Prior to the submission of the President's second report on September 15, 2007, and at a time to be agreed upon by the leadership of the Congress and the Administration, the United States Ambassador to Iraq and the Commander, Multi-National Forces Iraq will be made available to testify in open and closed sessions before the relevant committees of the Congress."

Thus was created the notion that Congress couldn't get its act together and end the occupation until after September. That little fiction ate up four months. The White House announced that General David Petraeus, as the commander in Iraq, would produce the report. Then somebody leaked word that the White House would actually produce the report. Then somebody else leaked the content of an early draft of the report, and it conflicted with known facts. Then somebody else let it be known that there would be no written report at all, but that Petraeus would testify and might bring some "charts."

Petraeus is still widely expected to show up and claim that violence is down in Iraq, although that would seem to be grounds for ending the occupation. But it is widely known that violence is actually up in Iraq, which might also seem to be good reason to end the occupation. The leadership in Congress has again made clear that it will provide yet more money for the occupation quite regardless of what Petraeus says. And again a minority of about 72 Congress Members is making a stand, but their position now is to "redeploy" the troops by 2009. However, they're unlikely to stand by that.

Petraeus will come to Congress on Monday to murder it. After this, there can be no more pretense that Congress is an independent branch of government.

"A melancholy conclusion," said K. "It turns lying into a universal principle."

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Friday, September 7, 2007

Will Bushies Sell Iran War ‘Product’?

Cross-posted from The Paragraph

In September 2002 a reporter asked President Bush’s Chief of Staff Andy Card why the administration was suddenly pushing for an invasion of Iraq70x71. Card replied: “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.” Shortly before that push, Vice President Dick Cheney, in a speech to the V.F.W., had laid out the theme of the marketing campaign—that Iraq would soon get nuclear weapons and give them to al-Qaeda-type terrorists to attack the U.S73. But that reasoning had only weak, cherry-picked intelligence reports behind it74. As the Downing Street Memo said, “The intelligence was being fixed around the policy75.” Still, nearly all of the U.S. mainstream news media took up the push for war, and in October 2002 Congress voted to give the president war authority in Iraq76x77. Bush invaded Iraq early the next year, and the following occupation and counter-insurgency war has damaged U.S. security—inspiring more jihadist recruits and stretching the military and the national budget thin78x79.

Last week, almost five years to the day after Cheney’s speech to the V.F.W., Bush gave a speech to the American Legion laying out themes for an attack on Iran, which, like Iraq, is on Bush’s “axis of evil” list80. Bush said that Iran could get a nuclear weapon that would put the region “under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust,” and that Iran is supporting “Shia extremists” to attack U.S. troops in Iraq. But, having made false claims before to sell a policy for war, Bush’s claims now carry no factual weight81. Even so, inside reports say that another marketing push for war is coming, but this time it is unlikely that the autocratic Bush would seek authority from Congress82x83x84. Yet cold analysis shows that an attack on Iran would double the damage to U.S. security—creating even more enemies, further weakening the military and budget, and rallying the Iranian population around the most warlike and repressive of its leaders85x86. So, faced with signs that Bush would proceed on such a damaging course, what can the U.S. Congress do to protect the country? One idea is to bring to the House floor H.R.333, the bill to impeach Cheney, who has several times publicly threatened Iran—including once from an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf87x88. Such a bold move by Congress could knock the gust out of the campaign for the new war “product89”.


70 ‘Marketing Iraq: Why now?’ By William Schneider, CNN, September 12, 2002

“To those who say we want more evidence that there’s a real threat, the Administration says we can’t wait for a smoking gun to turn up, said National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice. “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,”

71 ‘Commentary: Bush Administration’s Marketing of the Possible War Against Iraq’, Morning Edition, NPR, September 17, 2002

73 ‘Vice President Speaks at VFW 103rd National Convention’, The White House, August 26, 2002

It is a certainty that the al Qaeda network is pursuing such weapons, and has succeeded in acquiring at least a crude capability to use them.


... containment is not possible when dictators obtain weapons of mass destruction, and are prepared to share them with terrorists who intend to inflict catastrophic casualties on the United States.


But we now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. Among other sources, we’ve gotten this from the firsthand testimony of defectors—including Saddam’s own son-in-law, who was subsequently murdered at Saddam’s direction. Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon.

(Actually, Saddam’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel reported the contrary: “All weapons—biological, chemical, missile, nuclear, were destroyed.”)


Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.

74 ‘Bush II Cooked Intelligence to Get Iraq War Powers’ – The Paragraph, September 29th, 2005

75 Text of the Downing Street Memo a document containing meeting minutes transcribed during the British Prime Minister’s meeting on July 23, 2002

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

76 ‘BUYING THE WAR’ – Bill Moyers’ Journal, PBS, April 25, 2007

... “What the conservative media did was easy to fathom; they had been cheerleaders for the White House from the beginning and were simply continuing to rally the public behind the President — no questions asked. How mainstream journalists suspended skepticism and scrutiny remains an issue of significance that the media has not satisfactorily explored,” says Moyers. “How the administration marketed the war to the American people has been well covered, but critical questions remain: How and why did the press buy it, and what does it say about the role of journalists in helping the public sort out fact from propaganda?”

77 ‘Congressional Resolution on Iraq – Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF)’ Passed by House and Senate October 2002

78 ‘Report: Iraq ‘cause celebre’ for jihadists’ BY TIMOTHY M. PHELPS, Newsday, September 27, 2006

“We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives … the Iraq conflict has become the ‘cause celebre’ for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.” – from declassified part of CIA National Intelligence Estimate

79 ‘Cost of Iraq war nearly $2b a week’ By Bryan Bender, The Boston Globe, September 28, 2006

80 ‘President Bush Addresses the 89th Annual National Convention of the American Legion’, Reno, August 28, 2007

... Iran’s active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.


Recently, coalition forces seized 240-millimeter rockets that had been manufactured in Iran this year and that had been provided to Iraqi extremist groups by Iranian agents. The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased in the last few months —despite pledges by Iran to help stabilize the security situation in Iraq.

... [Iran’s leaders] cannot escape responsibility for aiding attacks against coalition forces and the murder of innocent Iraqis. The Iranian regime must halt these actions. And until it does, I will take actions necessary to protect our troops. I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran’s murderous activities.

81 ‘Do We Have The Courage To Stop War With Iran?’ by Ray McGovern,, 2007-08-31

A “final” draft of the follow-up NIE mentioned above had been completed in Feb. 2007, and McConnell no doubt was briefed on its findings prior to his testimony. The fact that this draft has been sent back for revision every other month since February speaks volumes. Judging from McConnell’s testimony, the conclusions of the NIE draft of February are probably not alarmist enough for Vice President Dick Cheney. (Shades of Iraq.)


There they go again—those bureaucrats at the International Atomic Energy Agency. On August 28, the very day Bush was playing up the dangers from Iran, the IAEA released a note of understanding between the IAEA and Iran on the key issue of inspection. The IAEA announced:

“The agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of the declared nuclear materials at the enrichment facilities in Iran and has therefore concluded that it remains in peaceful use.”

The IAEA deputy director said the plan just agreed to by the IAEA and Iran will enable the two to reach closure by December on the nuclear issues that the IAEA began investigating in 2003. Other IAEA officials now express confidence that they will be able to detect any military diversion or any uranium enrichment above a low grade, as long as the Iran-IAEA safeguard agreement remains intact.

82 ‘Post Labor Day Product Rollout: War with Iran’ – Barnett R. Rubin, Informed Comment Global Affairs, August 29, 2007

According to this report, as in 2002, the rollout will start after Labor Day, with a big kickoff on September 11. My friend had spoken to someone in one of the leading neo-conservative institutions. He summarized what he was told this way:

They [the source’s institution] have “instructions” (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don’t think they’ll ever get majority support for this—they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is “plenty.”

83 ‘Rollout to War with Iran: An Update’ – Barnett R. Rubin, Informed Comment Global Affairs, September 1, 2007

Update: Since I posted the original note on this topic Wednesday night, there have been several developments. Several more well-informed people have called to discuss it—all of them with confirming information. No one called to say I was wrong.

84 ‘Bush Acts as Dictator During Endless “War”’ – The Paragraph, January 9th, 2006

85 ‘IRAN:CONSEQUENCES OF A WAR’ by Paul Rogers, Oxford Research Group, February 2006

Although U.S. or Israeli attacks would severely damage Iranian nuclear and missile programmes, Iran would have many methods of responding in the months and years that followed. These would include disruption of Gulf oil production and exports, in spite of U.S. attempts at preemption, systematic support for insurgents in Iraq, and encouragement to associates in Southern Lebanon to stage attacks on Israel. There would be considerable national unity in Iran in the face of military action by the United States or Israel, including a revitalised Revolutionary Guard.

One key response from Iran would be a determination to reconstruct a nuclear programme and develop it rapidly into a nuclear weapons capability, with this accompanied by withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This would require further attacks. A military operation against Iran would not, therefore, be a short-term matter but would set in motion a complex and long-lasting confrontation. It follows that military action should be firmly ruled out and alternative strategies developed.

86 ‘Experts Speak: No Good Military Options in Iran’, Think Progress, 2006-04-10

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: “[A] military strike would be disastrous for the United States. It would rally the Iranian public around an otherwise unpopular regime, inflame anti-American anger around the Muslim world, and jeopardize the already fragile U.S. position in Iraq. And it would accelerate, not delay, the Iranian nuclear program. Hard-liners in Tehran would be proven right in their claim that the only thing that can deter the United States is a nuclear bomb. Iranian leaders could respond with a crash nuclear program that could produce a bomb in a few years.”

87 ‘House Resolution 333 Impeaching Richard B. Cheney’ – pdf / Supporting Documentation

88 ‘On Carrier in Gulf, Cheney Warns Iran’ By DAVID E. SANGER, New York Times, May 11, 2007

“With two carrier strike groups in the Gulf, we’re sending clear messages to friends and adversaries alike,” [Cheney] said. “We’ll continue … delivering justice to the enemies of freedom. And we’ll stand with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating this region.”

89 ‘Four words Bush needs to hear’ by Devin, Daily Kos, Sep 04, 2007

Making the case against war with Iran after the machinery is rolling will be pointless. We need our leaders in Congress to get off the sidelines and declare that any expansion of U.S. aggression in the Middle East without explicit approval from Congress will be met with articles of impeachment, period, full stop.

Doing so will fundamentally change the debate; we would then be talking about whether or not Bush has the implicit authority to wage war with Iran simply because he chooses to, or because he thinks the 2002 AUMF gives him the authority, and that is a good thing.

* * *

By Quinn Hungeski – Posted at G.N.N. &

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The Legacy Of George Walker Bush

Cross posted from BFD Blog!

This is George Walker Bush, and this is how he would like you to remember him:

This is the real legacy of George Walker Bush (portraits by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders):

Eddie Ryan

Dawn Halfacker

Dusty Hill

Crystal Davis

Jake Schick

Jay Wilkerson

John Jones

Jon Bartlett

Mike Jernigan

Dexter Pitts

Terrel Dawes

Bryan Anderson

Oyoanna Allende

Ryan, Halfacker, Hill, Davis, Schick, Wilkerson, Jones, Bartlett, Jernigan, Pitts, Dawes, Anderson and Allende are real patriots, and true American heros. How many more heros like these have to suffer for the folly of George Walker Bush and his legacy?

Learn the stories of these American heros Sunday night:

America must begin leaving Iraq now!

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

What Are the 18 Benchmarks?

The benchmarks for Iraqi "progress" were laid out by Congress in a May 2007 in an Iraq war funding bill. A synopsis is below, followed by a link.

(i) Constitutional Review

(ii) de-Baathification (I think un-doing it)

(iii) Equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources of the people of Iraq (what's not taken by US Corporations).

(iv) Procedures to form semi-autonomous regions.

(v) Provincial election procedures.

(vi) Amnesty.

(vii) Militia disarmament program.

(viii) Services committees to support Baghdad Security Plan.

(ix) Three trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations.

(x) Providing Iraqi commanders with all authorities to execute this plan.

(xi) Even handed enforcement of the law by Iraqi Security Forces.

(xii) No safe haven for any outlaws.

(xiii) Reducing sectarian violence and eliminating militia control of local security.

(xiv) Joint security stations in neighborhoods across Baghdad.

(xv) Increasing the number of independent Iraqi security forces.

(xvi) Protecting the rights of minority political parties.

(xvii) Equitable spending $10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects.

(xviii) No false accusations of Iraqi Security Forces by Iraqi politicians.

Maybe we should write some benchmarks for the Democrats: Meet 80% of them by September 2008 and we won't storm the Bastille.

Elaboration on the Iraq benchmarks can be found at Free Frank Warner.

For my personal views on the benchmarks, see More Make Believe from the Democrats: Benchmarks by which to Blame the Iraqis.

There's more: "What Are the 18 Benchmarks?" >>

AQI — the 10 percenters, at best

According to an excellent new article from Washington Monthly, al Qaeda in Iraq makes up — at most — 10 percent of the insurgency there, and quite possibly more like 5-7 percent.

The article notes that, amongst others estimating AQI at 15 percent is the “liberal hawk” we all love to hate, Michael O’Hanlon. The article then logically spills out who else has an investment in hyping AQI numbers:

• Shrub, for obvious reasons;
• Petraeus, ditto (though he’s not mentioned by name, the differing opinion of boots on the ground vs. top brass make this a legitimate inference);
• “Surge” flacks like O’Hanlon;
• Iraqi President Maliki, in part to keep Bush on his good side (see bullet No. 1);
• Ba’athists, who can exploit both actual AQI members and alleged AQI attacks for their own ends;
• Other Sunni insurgents, for reasons similar to the Ba’athists.

Bottom line? Rumsfeld’s intent behind his words aside, AQI is, essentially, dead-enders compared to other insurgency players in Iraq, and it’s dishonest to the American people and the need, or lack thereof, for U.S. troops in Iraq to falsely play up their numbers.

There's more: "AQI — the 10 percenters, at best" >>

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Is the Iraq Quagmire Intentional?

I recently blogged, again, on the question: Is the Chaos in Iraq on Purpose?

One highlight comes from Pulitzer prize writer Seymour Hersh who concludes:

The US is "... in the business of supporting the Sunnis anywhere we can against the Shia." "... in the business of creating ... sectarian violence."

The chaos in Iraq is not an accident. It's as if we're supposed to believe they didn't know the egg would break when they threw it on the ground. Evidence that the US has knowingly created a state of chaos in Iraq abounds. The following 1994 video clip is a smoking gun:

1994: Dick Cheney says invading Baghdad would be a "quagmire"

We are witnessing the take-over of the US by what Henry Kissinger called a "Revolutionary Power." The Bush regime is putting us on a permanent war footing to justify consolidation of executive power. The Judicial and Legislative branches can't or won't stop it. The fourth branch, establishment media, is corrupted by commercialism. Only the people we see in the mirror can stop it.

There's more: "Is the Iraq Quagmire Intentional?" >>

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Got Critical Mass?

Well, now! This is interesting indeed! This could be the start of something...

“The National Coalition of American Nuns is impelled by conscience to call you to act promptly to impeach President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for ... high crimes and misdemeanors,” the group wrote in a letter written on behalf of its board members.

The letter says that impeachment is warranted for their “deceiving the public under the false pretense that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction” and “destroying” the reputation of the United States and the good will of other nations.

“The time for impeachment is now — before the example of George W. Bush’s regime is set in stone,” they wrote. “Future generations will thank you for preserving the freedom of our nation and its relation to the entire human community.”
The national Coalition of American Nuns was founded in 1969, and is concerned primarily with issues of social justice and human rights. The statement was crafted during a mid-August meeting of the organizations board. The statement also denounces the occupation of Iraq. “Rather than continuing support of a just-war theory, a more compassionate church would oppose all war and teach peacemaking skills for all levels of government and interpersonal conflict resolution.”

Think we might get an actual peace movement out of this? Please?

There's more: "Got Critical Mass?" >>

The great unraveling is under way

When sharks smell blood in the water, it matters not that the wounded is one of their own. They tear the unfortunate creature to bits anyway. The Bush maladministration is experiencing a similar phenomenon.

Dead Certain, the new book by GQ reporter Robert Draper is a withering indictment of the inner workings of a White House suffering from 'Mad Cowboy Disease.' One of the revelations in the pages, is the denial by the Resident that he was "in on" the disbanding of the Iraqi military forces. He disavows all knowledge of the decision-making process, and actually takes a page from Fredo's book - actually saying he "doesn't remember" the decision being made or even any discussion about it. “The policy had been to keep the army intact; didn’t happen,” Mr. Bush told the interviewer. When the president was asked how he had reacted when he learned that the policy was being reversed, Mr. Bush replied, “Yeah, I can’t remember, I’m sure I said, “This is the policy, what happened?’ ”

Seriously - he wants one and all to believe that Paul Bremer's acted unilaterally in the creation of a well-armed and well-trained insurgency that was at the ready to commence a guerrilla war against the occupying invaders in the wake of the dissolution.

One little hitch in that get-along. Bremer archived the correspondence, and provided it to the New York Times. (As if we needed more proof that Bush is a god-damned liar and unfit to serve you lunch, let alone as chief executive and commander in chief of the most powerful military the planet has ever seen.)

“We must make it clear to everyone that we mean business: that Saddam and the Baathists are finished,” Mr. Bremer wrote in a letter that was drafted on May 20, 2003, and sent to the president on May 22 through Donald H. Rumsfeld, then secretary of defense.

After recounting American efforts to remove members of the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein from civilian agencies, Mr. Bremer told Mr. Bush that he would “parallel this step with an even more robust measure” to dismantle the Iraq military.

One day later, Mr. Bush wrote back a short thank you letter. “Your leadership is apparent,” the president wrote. “You have quickly made a positive and significant impact. You have my full support and confidence.”

Mr. Bremer appears to be at the end of a slow-burn over administration current and former officials backing away from the decision to disband the military like they have just caught whif of a skunk. “This didn’t just pop out of my head,” he said in a telephone interview on Monday, adding that he had sent a draft of the order to top Pentagon officials and discussed it “several times” with Mr. Rumsfeld. Bremer is making it abundantly clear that he is pissed off unhappy about being portrayed as a loose cannon by various and sundry former administration officials.

Bremer said that he widely distributed a draft of the proposed order throughout the administration and the Pentagon. Among those who received a copy were disgraced World Bank President

Mr. Bremer said he sent a draft of the proposed order on May 9, shortly before he departed for his new post in Baghdad, to Mr. Rumsfeld and other top Pentagon officials.

Among others who received the draft order, he said, were Paul D. Wolfowitz, then the deputy secretary of defense; Doug "stupidest fucker in the world" Feith, then under secretary of defense for policy; Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan, then head of the American-led coalition forces in Iraq; and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Bremer also maintains that Rumsfeld was briefed multiple times in the plan, and British military officials were briefed as well. The Joint Chiefs responded with great detail, removing any doubt that they understood the proposal.

What is emerging is a picture of a White House that has been in disarray and beset by infighting from the earliest days. Some days I feel like I am watching four-year olds "play government" and other days I feel like I am helplessly looking on in horror as drunken monkeys play with loaded handguns.

There's more: "The great unraveling is under way" >>

Updating the Potemkin Legend for the 21st Century

When Catherine the Great went to tour the Crimean region forcibly annexed by the Russian military in the late 18th century, she saw fabulous and elegant villages along the desolate banks of the Dnieper. But the fabulous villages were hollow facades, erected at the behest of the Russian military commander in the region, Grigori Potemkin, put in place to wow the empress and her traveling party as they sailed by; and to raise his stature in her eyes in the process.

In a colder calculus - they were supposed to create the illusion that the conquest of the region was worthwhile.

One could say that the saying "there's no 'there' there" dates to 1787. (But one would need to say it in Russian.)

To this day, we use the word Potemkin as a modifier whenever something is less than it seems on the surface.

Now, we have a modern equivalent to the Potemkin Village in the Dora Market, and General Petraeus is certainly giving ol' Grigori a run for his money in the creating-illusions-to-snow-the-potentates department.

BAGHDAD -- Nearly every week, American generals and politicians visit Combat Outpost Gator, nestled behind a towering blast wall in the Dora market. They arrive in convoys of armored Humvees, sometimes accompanied by helicopter gunships, to see what U.S. commanders display as proof of the effectiveness of a seven-month-long security offensive, fueled by 30,000 U.S. reinforcements. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. military leader in Iraq, frequently cites the market as a sign of progress.

"This is General Petraeus's baby," said Staff Sgt. Josh Campbell, 24, of Winfield, Kan., as he set out on a patrol near the market on a hot evening in mid-August.

...Even U.S. soldiers assigned to protect Petraeus's showcase remain skeptical. "Personally, I think it's a false representation," Campbell said, referring to the portrayal of the Dora market as an emblem of the surge's success. "But what can I say? I'm just doing my job and don't ask questions."

...Still, the Dora market is a Potemkin village of sorts. The U.S. military hands out $2,500 grants to shop owners to open or improve their businesses. The military has fixed windows and doors and even helped rebuild shops that had burned down, soldiers and others said.

"We helped them a lot. We gave them money, security, even the locks on their doors," said a 36-year-old Iraqi interpreter at the outpost whom U.S. soldiers call Jimmy for security reasons. He asked that his real name not be used. "Everything we gave them. That's why the violence has stopped. That's why they cooperate with us."

Some shopkeepers said they would not do business in the market without U.S. support. "The Americans are giving money, so they're opening up stores," said Falah Hassan Fadhil, 27, who sells cosmetics.

1st Lt. Jose Molina, who is in charge of monitoring and disbursing the grant money, said the U.S. military includes barely operating stores in its tally. "Although they sell dust, they are open for business," said Molina, 35, from Dallas. "They intend to sell goods or they may just have a handful of goods. But they are still counted."

Security measures in the market are rigorous. Vehicles are not allowed inside for fear of car bombs. Customers are body-searched at checkpoints. Humvees constantly patrol the area, which is the sole focus of the 50 or so soldiers of Combat Outpost Gator.

I have been to a lot of open air markets in my life, including Agoras and Bazaars, and I have NEVER been frisked before buying my hummus ingredients, I don't care what Representative Pence says, or what kind of deal Lindsey got on his rugs.

There's more: "Updating the Potemkin Legend for the 21st Century" >>

A Surge in Ethnic Cleansing

A child and his bicycle cast a shadow over a puddle of blood
after a sectarian attack in Baghdad.

Photo by Ahmed al-Rubaye/AFP-Getty images

You know, there is nothing quite like a successful ethnic cleansing to put the brakes on sectarian violence.

It was not long after the invasion that the slide toward civil war started, but it really got ginned up and the hatred unleashed in earnest after the initial bombing of the al-Askiri Shrine in February 2006. That was the flashpoint, the now-all-bets-are-off event that set the entire country aflame.

In the time since, the ethnic cleansing has claimed countless victims, but the sectarian violence does seem to have abated recently. But don't greet that as good news just yet - the sectarian killings have abated somewhat because they have been effective - victims have either been killed or fled their neighborhoods. When the ethnic cleansing in a neighborhood is complete, there are no more victims to target.

When Gen. David Petraeus goes before Congress next week to report on the progress of the surge, he may cite a decline in insurgent attacks in Baghdad as one marker of success. In fact, part of the reason behind the decline is how far the Shiite militias' cleansing of Baghdad has progressed: they've essentially won. "If you look at pre-February 2006, there were only a couple of areas in the city that were unambiguously Shia," says a U.S. official in Baghdad who is familiar with the issue but is not authorized to speak on the record. "That's definitely not the case anymore." The official says that "the majority, more than half" of Baghdad's neighborhoods are now Shiite-dominated, a judgment echoed in the most recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq: "And very few are mixed." In places like Amel, pockets of Sunnis live in fear, surrounded by a sea of Shiites. In most of the remaining Sunni neighborhoods, residents are trapped behind great concrete barricades for their own protection.
The process was hastened under cover of the Surge™ - Rafiq Tschannen, chief of the Iraq mission for the International Organization for Migration, says that the fighting that accompanied the influx of U.S. troops actually “has increased the IDPs to some extent.”

One of the reasons for the Surge™ was to stem the tide of ethnic cleansing of Baghdad - but it has hardly worked out that way. In fact, it has had the opposite effect. The number of Iraqi civilians killed in July was up slightly from February, when the escalation started. The Iraqi Red Crescent estimates the number of internally displaced persons has more than doubled since the beginning of the year. Consider that for a moment - in the six-plus months since the troop buildup started - the troop buildup that was supposed to quell the sectarian violence - the number of internal refugees has doubled. In six months. The first half were displaced over four years. From Baghdad alone, nearly 200,000 refugees have been created in six months.

I half expect Resident Evil™ to come back from Oz and attempt to sell that decade-long commitment that Petraeus has been alluding to by pointing out that if we'll just hang in there for a dozen or so years, and sacrifice another ten thousand Soldiers and Marines on the altar of his ego, we'll win because everyone will be dead or gone!

There's more: "A Surge in Ethnic Cleansing" >>

Spinning Right Into the Ground

Another month of missed benchmarks, another "surprise" visit from Il Douche'™, ("surprise" as in if we announced beforehand, too many people would try to kill us, so "shhh!") into Iraq. What's running through the spin cycle this time around? "The Surge is Working, The Surge is Working!" To illustrate how well the "Surge" is working, he landed in Al-Anbar province, which not only was not part of the surge, but has been largely handed back over to local Sunni leaders to pacify. In fact, Bush met with a number of local Sunni leaders, to thank them for their help in beginning to stabilize the region. Yeah, just one problem with all that; these leaders may have American blood on their hands.
But, seriously, ya gotta do what ya gotta do, right? Otherwise, you know the "terrists" will follow us home (yeah, he's still saying that).

There's more: "Spinning Right Into the Ground" >>

Monday, September 3, 2007

British Withdrawal from Basra and Talk of a Blitz on Iran

What does the British pull out of Basra tell us?

I'd like to think that public opinion has finally turned the tide in Britain. A friend explained it's about economics, not public pressure. He's been following "The Economist" magazine, based in London. For those not following the on-going financial crisis, we're in the middle of a big one. It's been coming for a few years now. Britain saw it coming, and their withdrawal reflects their economic concerns. They cannot afford to go deeper into debt for things that don't have a return, like this quagmire called the Iraq War.

So, the British withdrawal from Basra tells us the Iraq war is a quagmire. If it were not, Britain would stick it out until they could leave as part of a made-for-TV withdrawal by the flag-waving, victorious members of the Coalition of the Willing. The British pull out tells us that ain't gonna happen for quite a while.

It also seems to be an unintentional experiment. The Associated Press reports on the British pulling back to the Basra airport, leaving their last post in downtown Basra, a former Saddam Hussein place:

The Basra palace had come under near daily rocket and mortar fire from Shiite militias until the British released about 30 gunmen a few months ago and spread the word that they would soon leave.

Since then it has been relatively quite at the Palace. Is this the calm before a storm of an inter-Shia power struggle, or is it evidence that if the occupiers leave, Iraq might be able to find stability on its own? We all know the answer to that (it's none of our business), but this is still a real-world experiment on withdrawal that's worth watching (Bush's laboratory).

Perhaps a hint:

People on the streets of Basra cheered the departure of the British.

"We are pleased that the Iraqi army are now taking over the situation. We as an Iraqi people reject occupation. We reject colonialism. We want our freedom," resident Rudha Muter told AP Television News.

But there is another thing to watch in Basra:

U.S. officials have been concerned about the prospect of British troops handing over control of a city where armed militias hold sway. Basra controls a key land supply line from Kuwait to Baghdad and farther north, and is also near important oil fields.

My sense is the Democrats are not ready to call for a pullout from Iraq. They're concerned about being blamed for leaving a power vacuum that would naturally be filled by Iran (this isn't a criticism of Iran.. they can't leave a power vacuum on their boarder).

Unfortunately, the more timely question we need to be asking is whether or not the Democrats will go along with a Pentagon plan for a "Three-Day Blitz" on Iran. So, when you write Congress asking them to withdraw from Iraq, don't forget to also say "no" to bombing Iran.

Originally Published on GDAEman Blog.


Associated Press, Britain pulls out of downtown Basra base, DAVID RISING, September 2, 2007.

The Sunday Times, Pentagon ‘three-day blitz’ plan for Iran, Sarah Baxter, September 2, 2007.

There's more: "British Withdrawal from Basra and Talk of a Blitz on Iran" >>

Can The Iraq Occupation Be Ended Before The 2008 Elections?

UPDATED: 6:15 PM PST, Monday, September 3, 2007

By it's nature the Out Of Iraq Bloggers Caucus is, as our tagline describes, a "coalition of the willing", not a top down organization speaking with one voice, but a gathering place for bloggers united in opposition to the Iraq occupation, each with their own motivations, each with their own ideas on how the occupation can be ended.

I want to talk today about my own views, and also about a short conversation I had yesterday about whether and about how the Iraq occupation could be ended - but first I want to provide some background against which to express my own thoughts. I also hope here to encourage other OOIBC members to post their thoughts. I speak only for myself here.

OOIBC is a subset of a much larger "coalition of the willing", a microcosm of the tens of millions of people who, expressing, in the words of Keith Olbermann "the collective will of the nearly 70 percent of Americans who reject this War of Lies", in the 2006 midterm elections repudiated the Republican party and I think George W. Bush's foreign policies, and swept the Democratic Party into a Congressional majority on the strength of one single issue, one overwhelming mandate.

A mandate they have since, in my view, grievously insulted the people who gave them the Congressional power they now hold by ignoring.

Keith Olbermann described that mandate more clearly than anyone else, I think, in his May 23, 2007 "Special Comment" MSNBC broadcast: "The entire government has failed us on Iraq"

Few men or women elected in our history—whether executive or legislative, state or national—have been sent into office with a mandate more obvious, nor instructions more clear:

Get us out of Iraq.

Yet after six months of preparation and execution—half a year gathering the strands of public support; translating into action, the collective will of the nearly 70 percent of Americans who reject this War of Lies, the Democrats have managed only this:
  • The Democratic leadership has surrendered to a president—if not the worst president, then easily the most selfish, in our history—who happily blackmails his own people, and uses his own military personnel as hostages to his asinine demand, that the Democrats “give the troops their money”;

  • The Democratic leadership has agreed to finance the deaths of Americans in a war that has only reduced the security of Americans;

  • The Democratic leadership has given Mr. Bush all that he wanted, with the only caveat being, not merely meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government, but optional meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government.

  • The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised, are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave, and doomed, friends, and family, in Iraq.
Now, a little more than three months later, nothing has changed and it appears that there is no movement by the Democratic controlled Congress toward ending the financing of "the deaths of Americans in a war that has only reduced the security of Americans".

In some comments beginning here replying to a post by Big Tent Democrat at TalkLeft yesterday, Glenn Greenwald made it clear that he now feels there is no possibility of the Democratic leadership ending the occupation of Iraq in the near future, if ever.
I'm not advising Democrats to give up on Iraq. I think they ought to force the President to withdraw.

But I'm not going to lie to my readers to make them feel better. Everything I've seen from Democrats makes me conclude that nothing that anyone does will ever make them stand up to the President with sufficient unity and in sufficient numbers to force him to stop the war.

That's just reality. They can't even restore habeas corpus or defy the President's demand for vast new warrantless surveillance powers. The idea that they are going one day soon wake up and Stop the War is fanciful, no matter how much you wish it were otherwise (and, contrary to your weird praise of Atrios, he has made that point more emphatically and more continuously than anyone I know).

I'm not writing prescriptively, but descriptively. I'm not recommending that Democrats not try to stop the war. I'm not recommending that anyone stop trying. I'm just giving my honest assessment that they are not going to do it.
I earnestly hope that Glenn is wrong on this, but I believe he is not, and I agree with him.

I also have come to believe that the Democratic Leadership has no motivation to end the Iraq occupation. I think that they believe they will retain and perhaps increase their control of Congress next year, and that Democratic presidential frontrunner candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton believe that they can count on winning the presidency without ending the Iraq occupation, almost if not fully on the strength of one message - that they are not Republicans.

I think they are counting on the fear of another four if not eight years of Republican government to provide the votes for them, without having to live up to their implied promises and the expectations of them that three quarters of voters hold. I think that they are not afraid they will pay any political price whatsoever in 2008 for not living up to those implied promises and the expectations.

But I think they are not simply afraid of nothing.

I think that they, like the Republicans, are afraid of one thing.

They are afraid that the US economy cannot and will not continue to dominate the world economy, and will collapse, unless the US is able to dominate the energy resources of the world, and that cannot be done if the US withdraws from Iraq.

The invasion and the occupation of Iraq was not done to deliver 'freedom and democracy' to Iraq. It was done in the hope of ensuring US economic dominance.

Larry Everest writing at ZNet shortly before the last Emergency Supplemental funding the occupation was passed in May (the first one passed by a Democratic controlled Congress after years of supplementals passed by Republicans) described the problem much more succinctly that I am able to:
What the Bush Regime portrays as a noble effort to make the world safe from terrorism and bring democracy to the Middle East is actually a vicious war of empire to deepen the U.S. stranglehold on the Middle East and Central Asia --a war that is part of a broader effort to create an unchallenged and unchallengeable imperialist empire.

This goal is not viewed as capricious or incidental by those in charge--whether Democrats or Republicans--rather it flows from the deepest needs and drives of their system: U.S. hegemony in the Middle East and global dominance is crucial for U.S. capitalism's ongoing functioning and U.S. global power.
So when Bush says, "Even if you thought it was a mistake to go into Iraq, it would be a far greater mistake to pull out now," he's expressing a fear -- from an imperialist viewpoint - that a U.S. pullout would leave the empire weaker. And he is saying this in opposition to other forces in the U.S. ruling class who, also coming from an imperialist viewpoint, now think it's a big mistake for the U.S. not to withdraw.

This whole dynamic of riding the anti-war vote to power, then voting to fund an ongoing war while claiming to be ending it, reflect the conflicting necessities the Democrats face. As representatives of U.S. imperialism, they are committed to maintaining U.S. global dominance. Yet they fear the U.S. is sliding toward a strategic debacle of epic proportions and may already have lost the war in Iraq.
Glenn Greenwald yesterday was expressing his belief of the reality of the situation with "Everything I've seen from Democrats makes me conclude that nothing that anyone does will ever make them stand up to the President with sufficient unity and in sufficient numbers to force him to stop the war."

I agree with Glenn. They will not end it. They have no reason or motivation to, if they can count on voter support in 2008 without ending it.

The evidence states that Democrats are basically on board with Bush.

This has been obvious for some time. Since the supplemental in the spring at least. The FISA Amendment should have been the clincher for anyone who doubted it.

They are not capitulating to Bush. They are complicit with Bush. They are confident that the electorate will capitulate to them next year out of fear of the republicans. They are playing people. This, in my view, is Democrats using the same fearmongering tactics the Republicans used so successfully for the past few years.

It's very difficult to imagine a political reality developing under which current Democrats (again I refer to leadership and presidential frontrunners) will end the occupation of Iraq.

But it is not at all difficult to imagine how it can happen.

I believe that people would feel energized if they saw and heard enough people leading us in the right direction on Iraq, and that if leading Democrats heard enough people say to them that they will not vote for ANY Democrats next year EXCEPT Democrats who have been vocally, and by their votes on supplementals, calling for total withdrawal from Iraq they would quickly notice.

They are politicians after all, and they are concerned with winning elections.

They would notice if enough people turned the tables on them and used fear to motivate them, instead of voting simply out of fear of republicans.

If Democrats were filled with fear that they would lose Congress and the presidency UNLESS the occupation was ended before the 2008 elections, they would end the occupation of Iraq.

I hope that Glenn Greenwald will use the voice and the reach and the influence he has to encourage people to threaten the Democratic Leadership and presidential hopefuls with loss of support unless they do the job the voters who gave them the Congressional majority they now hold expect of them.

As Keith Olbermann also said:
Those who seek the Democratic nomination need to—for their own political futures and, with a thousand times more solemnity and importance, for the individual futures of our troops—denounce this betrayal, vote against it, and, if need be, unseat Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi if they continue down this path of guilty, fatal acquiescence to the tragically misguided will of a monomaniacal president.

UPDATED: 6:15 PM PST, Monday, September 3, 2007

This is a "problem" that has been going on for more than a century, and as Everett said "flows from the deepest needs and drives of [the] system: U.S. hegemony in the Middle East and global dominance is crucial for U.S. capitalism's ongoing functioning and U.S. global power."

Sheldon L. Richman wrote about this extensively, particularly in one article in 1991 when he was senior editor at the Cato Institute:

"Ancient History": U.S. Conduct in the Middle East Since World War II and the Folly Of Intervention
If the chief natural resource of the Middle East were bananas, the region would not have attracted the attention of U.S. policymakers as it has for decades. Americans became interested in the oil riches of the region in the 1920s, and two U.S. companies, Standard Oil of California and Texaco, won the first concession to explore for oil in Saudi Arabia in the 1930s. They discovered oil there in 1938, just after Standard Oil of California found it in Bahrain. The same year Gulf Oil (along with its British partner Anglo-Persian Oil) found oil in Kuwait. During and after World War II, the region became a primary object of U.S. foreign policy. It was then that policymakers realized that the Middle East was "a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history."

Subsequently, as a result of cooperation between the U.S. government and several American oil companies, the United States replaced Great Britain as the chief Western power in the region.(5) In Iran and Saudi Arabia, American gains were British (and French) losses.(6) Originally, the dominant American oil interests had had limited access to Iraqi oil only (through the Iraq Petroleum Company, under the 1928 Red Line Agreement). In 1946, however, Standard Oil of New Jersey and Mobil Oil Corp., seeing the irresistible opportunities in Saudi Arabia, had the agreement voided.(7) When the awakening countries of the Middle East asserted control over their oil resources, the United States found ways to protect its access to the oil. Nearly everything the United States has done in the Middle East can be understood as contributing to the protection of its long-term access to Middle Eastern oil and, through that control, Washington's claim to world leadership. The U.S. build-up of Israel and Iran as powerful gendarmeries beholden to the United States, and U.S. aid given to "moderate," pro-Western Arab regimes, such as those in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Jordan, were intended to keep the region in friendly hands. That was always the meaning of the term "regional stability."
And now Iran, being no longer friendly for well known reasons, has become the next target of this century long attempt at world domination.

It is not a problem that is going away quickly or easily, and even in pushing to end the occupation of Iraq - as large as that problem is - all we are doing is addressing a symptom of more systemic entrenched problems.

There's more: "Can The Iraq Occupation Be Ended Before The 2008 Elections?" >>