Saturday, February 16, 2008

Jonathan Rauch reaches new level of idiocy on Iraq

Writing in The Atlantic, Rauch says Dems should support a very (my emphasis) gradual withdrawal from Iraq in order to appeal to Congressional Republican sensibililities.

First, as noted at A Fistful of Euros, Rauch’s political calculations lead him to simply not mention the additional U.S. and Iraqi casualties from a delayed withdrawal. (If writing forty years ago, Rauch probably would have saluted Nixon’s “Peace with honor” and exercised the same blindsight.)

Second, he writes jewels like this:

[G]rown-up Republicans would recognize that withdrawal is inevitable; they would want to be relevant; they would feel battered by the election results.

Really? There are grown-up Republicans in Congress? We haven’t seen any since the change of party power in the start of 2007. We haven’t seen any that felt “battered” by the midterm election, even in the face of pending further electoral losses at the end of this year.

Third is the delusion that most Republicans recognized withdrawal is inevitable.

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Over 70 Blogs Have Signed Up for March 19 Blogswarm Against Iraq War

Count me in.

As a Gold Star Mom, my blog "Gold Star Mom Speaks Out" gives voice to the 3960 US casualties, including my only child. I don't want one more family to experience losing their loved one in this hideous endless occupation.
- Gold Star Mom Speaks Out

This comment signing up for the March 19 Blogswarm Against the Iraq War reminds me of why it was so important to work with the blogger behind Ten Percent to start the blogswarm in the first place.

Iraqi Soldier Killed in 2003

The most important thing about this war is its effect on real live human beings. The corporate media try to make this about abstract arguments and political bs, but people are being separated from their loved ones and their countries. People are being killed and being maimed. This is happening to Americans and Brits. It is happening to far more Iraqis.

A Soldier carries a wounded Iraqi child into the Charlie Medical Centre at Camp Ramadi, Iraq in 2007.

Over 70 blogs have joined in so far. I hope hundreds participate in this effort on March 19. We need to stop this insanity.

The time of global warring which promotes global warming must be over. The human suffering must stop.

Please join in this effort.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Video: Wexler Confronts Condi on Iraq War Lies; Calls for Contempt Vote (reprinted w/permission)

The following message is reprinted with permission from Congressman Wexler's office.

:: ::

Today, in hearings on Capitol Hill, I confronted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on her role in the lies, exaggerations, and misdirection that led us into the Iraq war.

During my questioning, Secretary Rice falsely stated that she never saw intelligence casting doubt on the Bush Administration claims that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. This unbelievable statement is flatly contradicted by numerous government reports and CIA testimonials.

Sources such as the 2006 Senate Intelligence Report, a January 2004  Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report as well as former CIA agents (including Tyler Drumheller) have disclosed that there was contrary intelligence to the information provided to the Bush Administration in the lead up to the Iraq war.

See this video:

Secretary Rice's responses demonstrate once and for all that we need aggressive oversight over this out of control Administration. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has ignored the constitutional right of Congress to provide such oversight.

It is time Congress took aggressive action to assert our rights on behalf of the American people.

The House of Representatives must immediately hold former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten in contempt of Congress for their failure to respond to congressional subpoenas.

I have been aggressively lobbying Members of Congress to support a vote on contempt, and I am thrilled to report that Speaker Pelosi told me directly that she agrees it is well past time to vote on contempt. I am anticipating that the House will shortly vote on resolutions of both civil and criminal contempt for both Miers and Bolten.

No one should be immune from accountability and the rule of law.

Not Harriet Miers or Josh Bolten.

And especially not Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush or Dick Cheney.

It is time to defend the Constitution and our rights as a co-equal branch of government.

I will continue to take on the Bush Administration for their outrageous abuses just as I confronted Condoleezza Rice today and Attorney General Mukasey last week. (Click here to see my questioning of Mukasey.)

With your help we will hold these top Bush officials in contempt and continue our efforts to hold impeachment hearings for Vice President Dick Cheney.

Thank you, as always, for your great support.

Yours truly,

Congressman Robert Wexler

:: ::

The above message was reprinted with permission from Congressman Wexler's office. It has been faithfully crossposted to ePluribus Media, My Left Wing, Booman Tribune, European Tribune, Docudharma, Below Boston, The Wild Wild Left and on DelphiForums.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Deny, Deny, Deny - afer all, it's Grunts, not Generals, who do and who die

It is safe to say that 2005 provided the defining, crystallizing moments when the whole world woke up with a brutal hangover and realized just how badly we had fucked up.

By 2005, the momentum had shifted. More than a few people were figuring out that Iraq was a fiasco, and public support was starting to drain away as the realization set in that not only had Bush screwed the pooch royally with his ill-conceived pissing contest, but we had reelected the stupid fucker and were stuck with him for three more god-damned years.

He was already up a creek without a paddle before Katrina hit and we watched a national treasure drown while he strummed a guitar and shared some birthday cake with John McCain, then did a flyover a few days later, on his way back to Washington. After the PR disaster of Katrina, and the cratering approval ratings, he needed more than a booster shot. He needed more than a transfusion.

What he needed was a spectacular theatrical production.

And so, on November 30, 2005, he took to the stage at the Naval Academy. “The National Strategy for Victory in Iraqopened totepid reviews. Of course, the strategy he unveiled was essentially “We win, because I said so.” (I immediately wondered why he waited almost three years to issue such a powerful edict.)

And he stood there, behind the podium at one of the most hallowed institutions on American soil, and spun like a top - knowing full well that he was completely and utterly full of shit.

Months earlier, in the summer in fact, the RAND corporation had delivered the final report for a study commissioned by the Army in 2003 titled Rebuilding Iraq. Two versions of the RAND report were prepared - a classified one for internal consumption, and an unclassified one for public release, with the intent it might foster public discussion of the situation in Iraq.

The study spared no feelings and pulled no punches. It found plenty of shortcomings to point out - with the White House, the Department of Defense, the State Department. But the General staff at the Pentagon was not happy about being called out, so they took the cowards way out - they got busy and buried the report.

When RAND researchers began their work, nobody expected it to become a bone of contention with the Army. The idea was to review the lessons learned from the war, as RAND had done with previous conflicts.

The research was formally sponsored by Lt. Gen. James Lovelace, who was then the chief operations officer for the Army and now oversees Army forces in the Middle East, and Lt. Gen. David Melcher, who had responsibility for the Army’s development and works now on budget issues.

A team of RAND researchers led by Nora Bensahel interviewed more than 50 civilian and military officials. As it became clear that decisions made by civilian officials had contributed to the Army’s difficulties in Iraq, researchers delved into those policies as well.

The report was submitted at a time when the Bush administration was trying to rebut building criticism of the war in Iraq by stressing the progress Mr. Bush said was being made...

One of the serious issues detailed in the study was the assumption by the Bush administration that reconstruction would be minimal - negligible even. The administration persisted in clinging to the meme even after it was obvious that they had been utterly wrong, because admitting their errors did not fit the narrative. “Building public support for any pre-emptive or preventative war is inherently challenging, since by definition, action is being taken before the threat has fully manifested itself,” it said. “Any serious discussion of the costs and challenges of reconstruction might undermine efforts to build that support.”

But the most damning problem pointed out in the report was the pervasive and overarching lack of coordination. The right hand not only didn't know what the left hand was doing, it appeared to actively avoid coming in contact with comprehensive information. “There was never an attempt to develop a single national plan that integrated humanitarian assistance, reconstruction, governance, infrastructure development and postwar security,” the study said.

The study chided President Bush — and by implication Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who served as national security adviser when the war was planned — as having failed to resolve differences among rival agencies. “Throughout the planning process, tensions between the Defense Department and the State Department were never mediated by the president or his staff,” it said.

The Defense Department led by Donald H. Rumsfeld was given the lead in overseeing the postwar period in Iraq despite its “lack of capacity for civilian reconstruction planning and execution.”

The State Department led by Colin L. Powell produced a voluminous study on the future of Iraq that identified important issues but was of “uneven quality” and “did not constitute an actionable plan.”

Gen. Tommy R. Franks, whose Central Command oversaw the military operation in Iraq, had a “fundamental misunderstanding” of what the military needed to do to secure postwar Iraq, the study said.

One result was that “the U.S. government did not provide strategic policy guidance for postwar Iraq until shortly before major combat operations commenced.” The study said that problem was compounded by General Franks, saying he took a narrow view of the military’s responsibilities after Saddam Hussein was ousted and assumed that American civilian agencies would do much to rebuild the country.

General Tommy Franks is not spared one iota in the findings. It was, after all, his command, and he got virtually everything absolutely wrong. He assumed that the Iraqi police and civilian government employees would stay on the job, and had no contingency plan in the event they did not.

Poor planning.

When Baghdad fell, the heavily mechanized American forces were not suited for restoring order in the absence of the local police and security forces. Anarchy ensued. (And Rumsfeld incredulously asked, in the wake of the looting, how many antique vases a country could have, anyway?)

Then there was the decision by Rumsfeld and Franks to stop the deployment of the First Cavalry Division and other forces to Baghdad after the city fell - they opted to project an image of victory for the cameras at the expense of securing the city.

In the months that followed, tensions mounted between civilian and military occupation personnel. And the law of unintended consequences reared it's ugly head. The lack of planning for the occupation and the possibility of insurgent actions had the inadvertent effect of strengthening the insurgency that was forming the minute the first armored vehicle rolled across the border. And the negative aspects of the occupation stood out in sharp contrast and fueled the insurgents who cropped up in resistance. The American military was unable to seal the borders after the invasion, which allowed weapons and foreign jihadist fighters to stream into the country virtually unchecked. The RAND report warned that sealing the borders was still not a priority in 2005.

Needless to say, the Army's top brass was not happy with being taken to task by the impudent snots at RAND, and started questioning the reports accuracy and methodology. RAND sent a rebuttal, but the Army s an obstinate organization. They were not swayed and refused to allow publication of the unclassified version, and the classified version was not widely distributed throughout the Pentagon. “The RAND study simply did not deliver a product that could have assisted the Army in paving a clear way ahead; it lacked the perspective needed for future planning by the U.S. Army,” said General Lovelace, one of the Generals who commissioned the study, but who refused to be interviewed by the Times for the source article.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton would like to make that determination for himself.

Within hours of reading the article in the paper on Monday, Representative Skelton fired off a leter to Army Secretary Pete Geren:

Dear Secretary Geren:

I am writing to express the sincere disappointment I felt upon reading the article in today’s New York Times entitled, “Army Buries Study Faulting Iraq Planning.” I find it inexcusable that the Army would apparently allow itself to become politicized in such a manner.

The United States Army has a long and honorable tradition of carrying out the nation’s business in a professional, nonpolitical, and extremely competent manner. This makes it all the more important that when the Army finds itself involved in a situation that has not gone according to expectations, it undertake a critical assessment of what went wrong, even if that assessment reflects poorly on the Army, the Department of Defense, the Executive Branch, or Congress. We cannot improve future results without studying past failures any more than we can wish that the war in Iraq had proceeded as outlined in some of the rosier scenarios laid out before the war started.

In September 2002 and March 2003, before the invasion of the Iraq, I wrote to the President to express my serious concerns about the lack of planning for post-war Iraq. The news reports about the unreleased RAND study seems to confirm that my concerns were on the mark. The New York Times article, if accurate, suggests that the RAND study points out a variety of failures, some by military personnel, some by civilians, and some, such as the lack of coordination between agencies, more worryingly, seem to be systemic problems. Such an analysis would not only be useful to the Army going forward, but would seem to be useful to the Department of Defense and the government of the United States at large. To try to not release such a useful report, seemingly to avoid political problems, is not in the fine tradition of the United States Army and should not be acceptable to you.

Again, I write to express my disappointment regarding the Army’s refusal to release the RAND study on Iraq. I would hope that you would take this opportunity to rectify this mistake, to release the full, classified version of the report to the appropriate committees in Congress, and to allow the publication of the unclassified summary of the report.

I hope Skelton is effective, but I am not going to hold my breath. Geren was, after all, a Bush appointee, and we all know that not a one of those craven fucks have a shred of honor, and their loyalty is, inexplicably, to the pretender to the throne, when it is supposed to be to their country.

Yet again, I hang my head in shame.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Surprise Surprise: Troop Withdrawal Delay

Surprise surprise, the troop surge has worked so well that we need to delay the troop draw down. This isn't a quagmire, it's an occupation.

Now that we know either Clinton, Obabma or McCain will be the next president, we know the US troops will be in Iraq, at some level, for at least nine more years, unless they are pushed out.

My estimate of the length of the occupation is still on track, but I'm not sure I haven't under estimated it.

In my original estimate I used a comparison of Iraq and Vietnam as the basis for estimating six more years from January 2007. Here's another possible basis for an estimate of how long we'll be in Iraq.... Bosnia:

TUZLA, Bosnia, Nov. 24, 2004 -- U.S. troops marked the end of their nine-year peacekeeping role in Bosnia on Wednesday as NATO prepared to hand over the task to the European Union in December.

Ooops! Forgot something:

A small number of U.S. troops will stay in Bosnia to hunt war crime suspects and help the country reform its military.

Sound familiar? Obama and Clinton always say have a similar disclaimer, like those words read really quickly at the end of a damn advertisement:

Thecandidatedoesnotrepresentthisstatementasfact and reservestherighttomaintaintrooplevelstomeetunforseenneeds astheyarise
including butnotlimitedto securityforcontractorsandembassyemployees
trainingiraqiforces interdictingterrorists

So, General Petraeus wants a little time for "consolidation and evaluation," and Defense Secretary Gates "had been kind of headed in that direction as well."

Fear and Worry are all Part of a Crumbling Empire:

Some fear the drawdown could result in giving up some recent security gains while many in the military worry that strains on troops from long and multiple combat tours will grow worse unless the troop reduction continues after July.

If people like Barak Obama have their way, who call for increasing the size of the US Military by 90,000, the latter worry should subside... for a while.

Crumble, crumble.


CBC, U.S. may delay troop cuts in Iraq: defence secretary, February 11, 2008.

(If there IS no "REST OF YOUR POST" then DELETE the ID tag and both the SPAN tags)

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Some Iraqi bloggers losing hope

Photo: A door riddled with bullet holes from a joint raid conducted by the Iraqi and U.S. Forces is seen as a boy walks out from a house in Baghdad's Sadr City February 7, 2008. (Kareem Raheem/Reuters)

Sunshine talks about the hard times in her city of Mosul, but she is one of the few bloggers who still seems hopeful. But as you can see, her situation is very difficult:

On Wednesday the situation was really bad, in the morning there were shooting all the time, at 4:30 pm I was combing my hair, and about to continue studying, something like an earth-quake happened, without thinking I knew it’s an explosion, I didn’t have time to run or hide, BOOOOOOOM, I felt like the blaster pushed me, I ran, and tried to avoid something but it hit me, I wasn’t sure what was it, smoke filled the rooms, I was glad to see everyone ok, I went to my room to see what has happened to it, the thing that hit me was my mug, and thank god we didn’t have many losses, I saw an orange smoke, we thought it was CL gas, so we put wet towels on our noses, grandpa and dad closed all the windows, and replaced the broken ones with cartoons ..
In the next day, my mom went to work, she said there were so many people in the hospital, and from time to time a family would go out crying loud because their wounded member died, it was a painful view..
On Thursday morning I couldn’t study well, there was a fight in the street behind our house, and I had to stay in the corridor, I was angry, and told grandma when she asked me to stay in a safe place “THE TERRORISTS ARE CHALLENGING ME, BUT I WILL STUDY NO MATTER WHAT” so I brought my books, sat on the floor, and studied , at noon, I got a phone call from my headmistress , she said Z was very badly injured, I couldn’t take it anymore, I lost my ability to tolerate, I was devastated, and I had a killing headache..

Sunshine has some even more hopeful words to say about the recent massive bombing in Mosul:

There were many terrible stories, people lost their whole family members, mothers lost their kids, etc, you most saw that in TV. But I heard stories made me feel how great people the Iraqis are.

I heard a talk show in the radio, when A man said “ I was in the hospital in the day of explosion, and I saw the ambulances bringing people injured very badly, I wanted to help but didn’t know what to do, so I took my car, went to a neighborhood and started to shout “ an explosion happened in a neighborhood, many people were injured, is there any one willing to donate with blood?” and I came to the hospital with about 25 guys”

Many people called and adopted the orphans, many people donated with money, clothes, & medicines, my mom and her friend called every dentist they knew collected money to the wounded people.

A man called the radio and his words touched my heart he said “I don’t have money to give, but I’ll work for free and re-build the destroyed houses and shops“ and he gave the reporter his number, the world needs more people like him.

Amazing words from someone living in a war zone who is only 16 years old!

Baghdad Dentist also talked about the massive bombing in Mosul, where he is currently living. He called it a disaster.

even the word disaster doesnt describe the crime happened there. as if a nuclear bomb were thrown there.the trees were 100metre away. the bricks of the buildings were everywhere.the power cables were in pieces allover the place. i couldnt distinguish the houses from each other and from the shops. a cyclon is less less destructive. i stood astonished there. i havent seen like this only when the b52 aircraft bombed one of the buildings during war in baghdad. without any exaggeration 20 houses were severly ruined up and nearly 35 affected. who was that monster who did it? he is the evil himself. the people who live in this area are poor and lovely and they can't harm a creature. one is working and doing his best to build a house and to grow his children up in a life with dignity and in a second all this just vanished so easily. after all i have seen I went back home and pain was tearing my heart.

Treasure of Baghdad watched the video released of Iraqi children being trained as ‘al qaeda’ although some of the training seems to him to be regular military training. He identifies the children and their adult trainers as being Iraqi from the accent. He thinks the trainers are former members of Iraqi’s military which was disbanded in 2003.

God! What does Iraq have anymore? The entire new generation is going down. It is impossible Iraq would improve or return to its former shape at least after having this new generation destroyed. Of course, they are destroyed! They have nothing to see except death, bombs, warplanes, helicopters, dead and wounded bodies, shootings, beheadings etc… It has been five years since the war started. It has been five years of their eight or ten years, seeing all of these things in front of their eyes. It’s been five years of complete failure of the Iraqi politicians to sit down and see how grave the danger surrounding us has become. It has been five years of concentrating on who gets more, who changes the flag, and who prays for God. It’s been five damned years and all Iraqis could see is nothing but collapse, segregation, hatred, and blast walls surrounding their once opened neighborhoods.

He concludes by saying that “And you know what? It’s not only al-Qaeda whom we should blame for that. It’s a lot of people.”

A Star from Mosul is in college in Mosul, and she reports on what is happening in her city and her life. She talks about two university professors who were killed and the massive explosion in her town. She titled her piece Dead Zone.

It is a bad dream, but that's it, it doesn't end. You just have to live through it and put all your feelings in some jar because they won't do you any good. During the exams a car bomb exploded in our street and broke some of the windows.. And during the exams, and in the midst of the mess, they decided to change the flag. And they did. And we the people didn't have a say in this.. They're just way too wise to be true.

Now it's the break.. and I hate breaks.. I'm sitting here at home waiting for the decisive battle on Mosul.. I'm waiting for them to come search the house.. and I do not feel like writing, so excuse me.

She sums it up with this sentence: “In short very little is going right, and the situation in Mosul is going from really bad to much worse.”

In Last of Iraqis blog, Mohammad says good bye to Iraq. He is 25 years old and a dentist living in Baghdad, and is planning on immigrating to Jordan. The title of his blog “Last of Iraqis” came from his belief that he might be the last Iraqi in Iraq, and his fear that Iraqis are going to be extinct. Mohammad completely rejects the new Iraqi flag, and is very distressed about what has happened to his country, and distressed that he feels forced to leave.

Nothing is like it used to be in my country….or what used to be my country…poor Iraq, everything beautiful in it was destroyed, everything was stolen, they even messed with the most important thing that identifies it, they even messed with the great and beautiful Iraqi flag, I wonder when will they change it's name claiming that it's a Baathiests name or Saddamists name!!!!
I wonder when will they have enough of messing around and destroying our country, I wonder when will those idiots who calls them selves politicians working for a new Iraq stop messing up Iraq!
They changed the flag, the great Iraqi flag the rolled the dead bodies of the brave soldier whether Shiite, Sunni or Kurds….it's the flag the covered the coffins of millions of Iraqis it's the flag that fluttered for many years in the Iraqi sky.

Neurotic Iraqi wife reports on an encounter with an acquaintance in a post called The Silently Grieving Black Veils. At first she did not recognize her, then the women took off her sunglasses and veil. Neurotica was disturbed by the change she saw in this women, and started to question why and if this total change in dress was only in Basra. This is what her acquaintance had to say:

She stopped applying her makeup, turned towards me and said in the saddest voice ever “Oh Neurotica, this is happening everywhere in Iraq, not just in Basrah or here but everywhere. We have become easy targets for those animal extremists”. The sadness in her voice slowly turned into anger. “Yes we suffered under Saddam’s regime, but atleast then, we knew who to blame. Now Neurotica, now, we don’t even know who to point the finger at? The Sadr Militias? The Badr Brigades? The Al Qaeda Wahabi extremists? Who do we blame Neurotica? Even the US forces are guilty.”

“I don’t even know if my neighbour will tell on me, or my friend. Or that old man I buy the vegetables from. Or that small boy sitting in the corner begging. I don’t know who will shoot me first. The militia? The police? The Americans? Or maybe a drug addict, or a drunk man? Who is it gonna be? If it wasn’t for my elderly parents I would have left long long time ago."

But the saddest post that I have run across recently was written by HNK. She is a young college student living in Mosul, and the younger sister to A Star From Mosul blogger. This one really broke my heart.

Ended Life, Killed Laughter

Breathless, hopeless, and fatigue
That's what I am now..

I am between the devil and the deep blew see
and between them

I am wishing I am never be...

What can you say after that? Updated information on Iraq at Iraq Today blog. Updated pictures of Iraqis at Faces of Grief blog. If you would like to help bring an Iraqi child to the US for medical treatment, please go to No More Victims website.

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