Category Archives: war

As we send ‘advisors’ back to Iraq . . .

Dexter Filkins* today.

In 2003, when American troops first rolled into Baghdad, they destroyed the Iraqi state and its institutions; for the next eight and a half years they tried to build something to replace it. The truth is that the political system imposed on the Iraqis has never worked very well without substantial U.S. involvement; since the Americans left, it hasn’t worked at all. American diplomats and military advisers can’t save Iraq and they can’t govern it, but the decision by President Obama to return to Iraq amounts to a recognition that there was work left unfinished. It’s likely to be a long and difficult job

*Filkins reported from the onset of Iraq War in March of 2003 through 2006.  In 2009, he won the Pulitzer Prize as part of a team of New York Times reporters in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

His book recounting those years – Forever War – is stunning and should be read by anyone who wants to see our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan up close. Reviews almost universally described it as a classic in the tradition of witness, a true account from the type of war correspondent rarely seen these days.

LA Times said it “is likely to be regarded as the definitive account of how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were experienced by those who actually waged them.” That’s about right.

And somewhere Paul Wolfowitz is saying we can clean up this mess in Iraq quickly and easily and it won’t cost the price of a movie plus popcorn. For sure.

http://murfinsandburglars.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/auto-tune-news-bill-kristol-all-in.jpg?w=300

It’ll be easy. Honest.

Shamelessly do I copy/paste an entire post from Andrew Sullivan today since I just saw that battle-hardened warrior Bill Kristol on the teevee saying with a straight face what Sullivan recounts here. It was an utterly  hallucinatory experience.

Here’s Sullivan: What do you do with near-clinical fanatics who, in their own minds, never make mistakes and whose worldview remains intact even after it has been empirically dismantled in front of their eyes? In real life, you try and get them to get professional help.

In the case of those who only recently sent thousands of American servicemembers to their deaths in a utopian scheme to foment a democracy in a sectarian dictatorship, we have to merely endure their gall in even appearing in front of the cameras. But the extent of their pathology is deeper than one might expect. And so there is actually a seminar this fall, sponsored by the Hertog Foundation, which explores the origins of the terrible decision-making that led us into the worst foreign policy mistake since Vietnam. And the fair and balanced teaching team?

It will be led by Paul D. Wolfowitz, who served during the Persian Gulf War as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and as Deputy Secretary of Defense during the first years of the Iraq War, and by Lewis Libby, who served during the first war as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and during the Iraq War as Chief of Staff and National Security Adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Next spring: how the Iraq War spread human rights … by Donald Rumsfeld.

Most people are aware that relatively few of the architects of a war have fully acknowledged the extent of their error – let alone express remorse or even shame at the more than a hundred thousands civilian deaths their adventure incurred for a phony reason. No, all this time, they have been giving each other awards, lecturing congressmen and Senators, writing pieces in the Weekly Standard and the New Republic, being fellated by David Gregory, and sucking at the teet of the neocon welfare state, as if they had nothing to answer for, and nothing to explain.

Which, I suppose makes the following paragraph in Bill Kristol’s latest case for war less shocking than it should be:

Now is not the time to re-litigate either the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 or the decision to withdraw from it in 2011. The crisis is urgent, and it would be useful to focus on a path ahead rather than indulge in recriminations. All paths are now fraught with difficulties, including the path we recommend. But the alternatives of permitting a victory for al Qaeda and/or strengthening Iran would be disastrous.

But it is shocking; it is, in fact, an outrage, a shameless, disgusting abdication of all responsibility for the past combined with a sickening argument to do exactly the same fricking thing all over again. And yes, I’m not imagining. This is what these true know-nothing/learn-nothing fanatics want the US to do:

It would mean not merely conducting U.S. air strikes, but also accompanying those strikes with special operators, and perhaps regular U.S. military units, on the ground. This is the only chance we have to persuade Iraq’s Sunni Arabs that they have an alternative to joining up with al Qaeda or being at the mercy of government-backed and Iranian-backed death squads, and that we have not thrown in with the Iranians. It is also the only way to regain influence with the Iraqi government and to stabilize the Iraqi Security Forces on terms that would allow us to demand the demobilization of Shi’a militias and to move to limit Iranian influence and to create bargaining chips with Iran to insist on the withdrawal of their forces if and when the situation stabilizes.

What’s staggering is the maximalism of their goals and the lies they are insinuating into the discourse now, just as they did before.

Last time, you could ascribe it to fathomless ignorance. This time, they have no excuse. ISIS is not al Qaeda; it’s far worse in ways that even al Qaeda has noted undermine its cause rather than strengthen it. It may be strategically way over its head already. And the idea that the US has to fight both ISIS and Iran simultaneously is so unhinged and so self-evidently impossible to contain or control that only these feckless fools would even begin to suggest it. Having empowered Iran by dismantling Iraq, Kristol actually wants the US now to enter a live war against ISIS and the Quds forces. You begin to see how every military catastrophe can be used to justify the next catastrophe. It’s a perfect circle for the neocons’ goal of the unending war. I don’t know what to say about it really. It shocks in its solipsism; stuns in its surrealism; chills in its callousness and recklessness. So perhaps the only response is to republish what this charlatan was saying in 2003 in a tone utterly unchanged from his tone today, with a certainty which was just as faked then as it is now. Read carefully and remember he has recanted not a word of it:

February 2003 (from his book, “The War Over Iraq“):  According to one estimate, initially as many as 75,000 troops may be required to police the war’s aftermath, at a cost of $16 billion a year. As other countries’ forces arrive, and as Iraq rebuilds its economy and political system, that force could probably be drawn down to several thousand soldiers after a year or two.

February 24, 2003:  “Having defeated and then occupied Iraq, democratizing the country should not be too tall an order for the world’s sole superpower.”

March 5, 2003: “We’ll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction.”

April 1 2003: “On this issue of the Shia in Iraq, I think there’s been a certain amount of, frankly, Terry, a kind of pop sociology in America that, you know, somehow the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular.”

Yes, “always been very secular”. Always. Would you buy a used pamphlet from this man – let alone another full scale war in Iraq?

Who lost Iraq?

Who lost Iraq? Two views:

Fareed Zacharia says that first, above all, Nouri Al-Maliki lost it.

The prime minister and his ruling party have behaved like thugs, excluding the Sunnis from power, using the army, police forces and militias to terrorize their opponents. The insurgency the Maliki government faces today was utterly predictable because, in fact, it happened before. From 2003 onward, Iraq faced a Sunni insurgency that was finally tamped down by Gen. David Petraeus, who said explicitly at the time that the core element of his strategy was political, bringing Sunni tribes and militias into the fold. The surge’s success, he often noted, bought time for a real power-sharing deal in Iraq that would bring the Sunnis into the structure of the government. . .

But how did Maliki come to be prime minister of Iraq? He was the product of a series of momentous decisions made by the Bush administration. Having invaded Iraq with a small force — what the expert Tom Ricks called “the worst war plan in American history” — the administration needed to find local allies. It quickly decided to destroy Iraq’s Sunni ruling establishment and empower the hard-line Shiite religious parties that had opposed Saddam Hussein. This meant that a structure of Sunni power that had been in the area for centuries collapsed. These moves — to disband the army, dismantle the bureaucracy [Moe: thank you Paul Bremmer you creep] and purge Sunnis in general — might have been more consequential than the invasion itself.

Dexter Filkins, noting among other things that the border between Iraq and Syria has been erased, names three causes: 1) the Syrian war, and 2)  Al-Maliki, whose thuggery since the US withdrawal (which itself was necessitated in part by his absolute refusal to sign the usual Status of Forces Agreement to provide legal protections to remaining US Troops), and 3) . . .

Which brings us to the third reason. When the Americans invaded, in March, 2003, they destroyed the Iraqi state—its military, its bureaucracy, its police force, and most everything else that might hold a country together. They spent the next nine years trying to build a state to replace the one they crushed. By 2011, by any reasonable measure, the Americans had made a lot of headway but were not finished with the job . . .

Today, many Iraqis, including some close to Maliki, say that a small force of American soldiers—working in non-combat roles—would have provided a crucial stabilizing factor that is now missing from Iraq.

So Bush broke it and Obama left before it was finished (I’m surprised that Filkins beleives we could ever actually ‘finish’ it). By the way, Filkins is a war correspondent of the ‘old school’ and spent years in Iraq during the war and his book about that time, The Forever War, is just stunning.

 

Oh damn them damn them and damn them again

When (perhaps ‘if’ but I’m not hopeful) Iraq dissolves and brings eastern Syria and Kurdistan with it and the region falls into a few more decades of war, I will remember Paul Wolfowitz assuring the Senate before our 2003 invasion that ‘there is no history of sectarian violence in Iraq’. Really, he said that. In a neighborhood where sectarian war has been the norm for  a thousand years. He said that.

Damn them all.

A re-telling: ‘Fridays at the Pentagon’

image002 (3)I came to be familiar with the writings of Lt. Col. Robert Bateman, in the early days of the Iraq war via Eric Alterman’s blog  Altercation, then housed at Media Matters, where Bateman was a frequent contributor and where this story first appeared. I posted it in 2012. So here again – for Memorial Day 2014 – as Eric used to say: “here’s Bateman”:

“It is 110 yards from the ‘E’ ring to the ‘A’ ring of the Pentagon. This section of the Pentagon is newly renovated; the floors shine, the hallway is broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant the entire length of the corridor is packed with officers, a few sergeants and some civilians, all crammed tightly three and four deep against the walls. There are thousands here.

“This hallway, more than any other, is the ‘Army’ hallway. The G3 offices line one side, G2 the other, G8 is around the corner. All Army. Moderate conversations flow in a low buzz. Friends who may not have seen each other for a few weeks, or a few years, spot each other, cross the way and renew. Everyone shifts to ensure an open path remains down the center. The air conditioning system was not designed for this press of bodies in this area. The temperature is rising already. Nobody cares.

“10:36 hours: The clapping starts at the E-Ring. That is the outermost of the five rings of the Pentagon and it is closest to the entrance to the building. This clapping is low, sustained, hearty. It is applause with a deep emotion behind it as it moves forward in a wave down the length of the hallway.

“A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the pace of the soldier in the wheelchair who marks the forward edge with his presence. He is the first. He is missing the greater part of one leg, and some of his wounds are still suppurating. By his age I expect that he is a private, or perhaps a private first class.

“Captains, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels meet his gaze and nod as they applaud, soldier to soldier. Three years ago when I described one of these events, those lining the hallways were somewhat different. The applause a little wilder, perhaps in private guilt for not having shared in the burden … yet.

“Now almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the man in the wheelchair, also a combat veteran. This steadies the applause, but I think deepens the sentiment. We have all been there now. The soldier’s chair is pushed by, I believe, a full colonel.

“Behind him, and stretching the length from Rings E to A, come more of his peers, each private, corporal or sergeant assisted as need be by a field grade officer.

“11:00 hours: Twenty-four minutes of steady applause. My hands hurt, and I laugh to myself at how stupid that sounds in my own head. ‘My hands hurt.’ Christ. Shut up and clap. For twenty-four minutes, soldier after soldier has come down this hallway — 20, 25, 30. Fifty-three legs come with them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down this hall came 30 solid hearts.

“They pass down this corridor of officers and applause, and then meet for a private lunch, at which they are the guests of honor, hosted by the generals. Some are wheeled along. Some insist upon getting out of their chairs, to march as best they can with their chin held up, down this hallway, through this most unique audience. Some are catching handshakes and smiling like a politician at a Fourth of July parade. More than a couple of them seem amazed and are smiling shyly.

“There are families with them as well: the 18-year-old war-bride pushing her 19-year-old husband’s wheelchair and not quite understanding why her husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear is crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who have, perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an appreciation for the emotion given on their son’s behalf. No man in that hallway, walking or clapping, is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few cheeks. An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to better see. A couple of the officers in this crowd have themselves been a part of this parade in the past.

“These are our men, broken in body they may be, but they are our brothers, and we welcome them home. This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all year long, for more than four years.”

 

Oh really John, again?

Here’s a surprise: John McCain thinks we should send Special Forces into Nigeria (I guess they’re still available since we didn’t succumb to his calls for military action the last eleven times).region_1

“If they knew where they were, I certainly would send in U.S. troops to rescue them, in a New York minute I would, without permission of the host country,” McCain told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “I wouldn’t be waiting for some kind of permission from some guy named Goodluck Jonathan,” he added, referring to the president of Nigeria . . .

Minor qualifier there (“if they knew where they were”) but hey, a headline is a headline. And it’s always very helpful to deeply insult that country’s leader.

“I would not be involved in the niceties of getting the Nigerian government to agree, because if we did rescue these people, there would be nothing but gratitude from the Nigerian government, such as it is,” he said.

We always know how citizens of sovereign nations will react when we barge in. Just like in Iraq.

Image

Wear one today

It’s the eleventh day of the eleventh month . . .

Syria shares a border with Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. And that matters.

syriaIn a country where none of the news is good, this is very very bad. I’ve worried about Turkey since the Islamists started flowing into Syria – they’re Sunnis, determined to help overthrow a Shia government.

An extremist group linked to Al Qaeda routed Syrian rebel fighters and seized control of a gateway town near Syria’s northern border with Turkey on Wednesday, posting snipers on rooftops, erecting checkpoints and imposing a curfew on the local population . . .

Its seizure is likely to alarm Syria’s neighbors. Turkey, which has vocally supported the fight against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and allowed fighters and arms to flow freely across its southern border, now faces a bold al Qaeda affiliate. . . 

In recent months, jihadist groups have isolated local populations by imposing strict Islamic codes, carrying out public executions and clashing with rebel groups.

Lebanon is expressing some worry too.

A little vulgar, but an important question

And it’s not about Obama specifically; it’s about US policy that increasingly turns away from very serious threats to freedom and democracy. But of course they’re only ideals. So, you know . . .

~Liberty~

Maybe they’re smoking dope in the Oval?

How else to explain this kind of thinking – some in the Administration  have put  out this projection for Obama’s presidency going forward. They draw it as an entirely passive future. They’re saying if we fail at this, we’ll fail at everything else because it’ll be out of our hands. Perhaps some staffers think saying this would be heard by the Congress as a threat; they would be wrong – a weak Obama is the opposition’s wet dream.

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — President Obama and his advisers view the coming decision on military action against Syria as a potential turning point that could effectively define his foreign policy for his final three years in office. . . .

Mr. Obama and his team see the votes as a guidepost for the rest of his presidency well beyond the immediate question of launching missiles at Syrian military targets. If Congress does not support a relatively modest action in response to a chemical attack that killed more than 1,400 people in Syria, Obama advisers said, the president will not be able to count on support for virtually any use of force.

Although Mr. Obama has asserted that he has the authority to order the strike on Syria even if Congress says no, White House aides consider that almost unthinkable. As a practical matter, it would leave him more isolated than ever and seemingly in defiance of the public’s will at home. As a political matter, it would almost surely set off an effort in the House to impeach him, which even if it went nowhere could be distracting and draining.

As a result, Mr. Obama would be even more reluctant to order action in the one case that has most preoccupied military planners: the development of a nuclear bomb by Iran.

Could it be a “wink, wink”?

I hate that we might do anything military at all in Syria. I hate that if we do, it could be because President Barry was a little careless with his language last year with “a red line”, and the year before with “Assad has to go”. (Hey, maybe he should go to Congress and let them say ‘no’ and then either he can have it both ways or if they say ‘yes’ he’s got cover and isn’t in this alone.)

But I’m also cynical. More cynical than a sweet woman like myself ought to be. So I will wonder: is this waffling and the promises of ‘limited strikes’ a ruse? Is it a delay so Assad can act now to mitigate the damage to come?

Do we perhaps want Assad to survive after all because we believe anything that follows would be more unstable? Have we made a quiet deal to buy some time to transition to another government without those Islamists rattling the palace gates?

UPDATE: He is going to Congress – just saw it at The New York Times; it must have been a few hours ago, so I’m guessing it’s not because of my post.

Exactly.

(George Packer has a chat.)

UPDATE : Dearest readers, as much as I’d like to lay claim to the words that follow, I cannot. They aren’t mine. The ‘dialogue’ here is from George Packer at The New Yorker, but reading now through your comments, it looks like I didn’t make that clear. The link above to is to his column. Packer begins:

“So it looks like we’re going to bomb Assad.

Good.

Really? Why good?

Did you see the videos of those kids? I heard that ten thousand people were gassed. Hundreds of them died. This time, we have to do something.

Yes, I saw the videos.
And you don’t want to pound the shit out of him?I want to pound the shit out of him.But you think we shouldn’t do anything.

I didn’t say that. But I want you to explain what we’re going to achieve by bombing.

We’re going to let Assad know that chemical weapons are over the line. There’s a reason they’ve been illegal since Verdun or whenever.

Except when Saddam used them against the Kurds—we knew, and we didn’t say a word.

Is that a reason to let Assad use them against his people?

At this point, I don’t think Assad is too worried about the Geneva Conventions.

Continue reading

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

And for ‘me’, read the United States of America.

According to Ramzy Mardini, someone who knows (caution – NY Times possible paywall):

The Syrian revolution isn’t democratic or secular; the more than 90,000 fatalities are the result of a civil war, not a genocide — and human rights violations have been committed on both sides.

Moreover, the rebels don’t have the support or trust of a clear majority of the population, and the political opposition is neither credible nor representative. Ethnic cleansing against minorities is more likely to occur under a rebel-led government than under Mr. Assad; likewise, the possibility of chemical weapons’ falling into the hands of terrorist groups only grows as the regime weakens.

And finally, a rebel victory is more likely to destabilize Iraq and Lebanon, and the inevitable disorder of a post-Assad Syria constitutes a greater threat to Israel than the status quo.

Mardini concludes:

Syria is like Iraq. But worse.

Ahhh, the good old days of government propaganda

During the 20th Century’s two World Wars, the Federal government pumped out an impressive body of propaganda, much of it on film. For WWII, the Feds turned to the pros and a lot of the product came from Hollywood.  Besides video shorts, there were also  full length feature films (some pretty good actually). That propaganda was an essential part of keeping the country committed to the war effort and supportive of it. And it worked.

Then came the early days of the Cold War and the Feds thought if it had worked before, it would work again. It didn’t really; these films were too blatant and very clumsy.

I just came across this. Really?

And now a post in which I agree with George W. Bush’s White House

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

So who’s speaking out this time (except mistermix at Balloon Juice)? Atrios notes that the trip explains why McCain was mysteriously absent from all four Sunday morning shows.

Let’s remember more than the fallen . . .

image006 (2)Today is the 240th day of the twelfth year of the US war in Afghanistan. So as we approach 13 years there, and pass the 11th year of the Iraq occupation, let’s tune out those who would call a President who moves to extricate us a ‘traitor’. Instead, let’s remember Korea and Vietnam and the lessons we failed to learn from those two hapless interventions.

Afghanistan is already slipping back into its territorial and tribal fights and Iraq is facing increasing sectarian conflict reminiscent of the Sunni/Shia ‘civil war’ of 2005-06.

My hope for today is that those who call for more war will find no ears to hear. Let them shout into the wind.

Bill Keller wins – meet the new Joe Lieberman

The once (and never-again-please-I-beg-you) Editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller, steps up to speak out about Syria:

As a rule, I admire President Obama’s cool calculation in foreign policy . . . frankly I’ve shared his hesitation about Syria, in part because*, during an earlier column-writing interlude at the outset of the Iraq invasion, I found myself a reluctant hawk. That turned out to be a humbling error of judgment, and it left me gun-shy.

*Good old Bill, predictable fellow that he is, still thinks it’s all about him. (The whole sorry thing is here.)

Of course, there are important lessons to be drawn from our sad experience in Iraq: Be clear about America’s national interest. Be skeptical of the intelligence. Be careful whom you trust. Consider the limits of military power. Never go into a crisis, especially one in the Middle East, expecting a cakewalk.

Now, here we go . . .

But in Syria, I fear prudence has become fatalism, and our caution has been the father of missed opportunities, diminished credibility and enlarged tragedy.

Looks like he got over that gun-shyness thing just in time for Sock It To Me: Chapter II. I think John McCain and Ms. Graham should have the guy over for a few cocktails and high fives.

Wherein I agree with Ron Paul, as any good liberal should do on occcasion

In the eyes of many, I’m sure the police actions in Boston were appropriate because we’re at war with terror, or terrorism, or terrorists. Whatever. I don’t deny the threat but I abhor the notion that this is ‘war’. Anyway, take it away Ron:

Former Rep. Ron Paul said the police response to the Boston Marathon bombings was scarier than the bombing itself, which killed three and wounded more than 250.

“The Boston bombing provided the opportunity for the government to turn what should have been a police investigation into a military-style occupation of an American city . . .  This unprecedented move should frighten us as much or more than the attack itself” . . .

Paul said the scenes of the house-to-house search for the younger bombing suspect in suburban Watertown, Mass., were reminiscent of a “military coup in a far off banana republic.”

Not sure about that coup part, but certainly it looked like a military action.

“Forced lockdown of a city,” he wrote. “Militarized police riding tanks in the streets. Door-to-door armed searches without warrant. Families thrown out of their homes at gunpoint to be searched without probable cause. Businesses forced to close. Transport shut down.”

(Heads up WPressers . . . our blog platform ain’t allowin’ no pictures today. Or maybe WP is just picking on me?)

Whoops, how could I have forgotten this one?

In previous posts on this tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, I failed to mention the Prince of Darkness, Richard Perle. He called early, often and urgently for us to send our young people to die in Iraq. By the time Bush got into office, Perle  was on the official Iraq War Marketing Team. On The Dish, Andrew Sullivan reminded us and quotes Pearle in an interview ten years on:

Montagne: Ten years later, nearly 5,000 American troops dead, thousands more with wounds, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead or wounded. When you think about this, was it worth it?

Perle: I’ve got to say I think that is not a reasonable question. What we did at the time was done with the belief that it was necessary to protect this nation. You can’t a decade later go back and say we shouldn’t have done that.

s-PERLE-largePerle was an early member of PNAC  calling for a ‘new American Century” and the removal of Saddam.

From David Corn in Mother Jones:

Perle began calling for war in Iraq nanoseconds after September 11. He told CNN, “Even if we cannot prove to the standard that we enjoy in our own civil society they are involved, we do know, for example, that Saddam Hussein has ties to Osama bin Laden. That can be documented.” In 2002, he suggested a war against Iraq would be a cakewalk: “It isn’t going to be over in 24 hours, but it isn’t going to be months either.” He asserted Saddam was “working feverishly to acquire nuclear weapons.” He claimed the post-invasion reconstruction in Iraq would be self-financing. He got everything wrong.

And still he said: “You can’t a decade later go back and say we shouldn’t have done that.”

Maybe he can’t. We can.

By the way, Sullivan himself was an early and ardent supporter of the Iraq invasion. He’s been tripping all over himself in the last recent years saying he was wrong and apologizing for that. But my oh my how he did once love that war. He proved it by damning – over and over again in strong language – those who would dare oppose the war likening such opposition to anti-Semitism and calls for American defeat. He wasn’t just wrong – as he admits – he nearly called the left traitors.

And like many at the time – and right up to today – he claimed that opposing the war was equivalent to morally condoning Saddam’s record of human right abuses.

This lazy form of moral equivalence is not rare among the radical left in this country. But it is based on a profound moral abdication: the refusal to see that a Stalinist dictatorship that murders its own civilians, that sends its troops into battle with a gun pointed at their heads, that executes POWs, that stores and harbors chemical weapons, that defies 12 years of U.N. disarmament demands, that has twice declared war against its neighbors, and that provides a safe haven for terrorists of all stripes, is not the moral equivalent of the United States under President George W. Bush. There is, in fact, no comparison whatever. That is not jingoism or blind patriotism or propaganda. It is the simple undeniable truth. And once the left starts equating legitimate acts of war to defang and depose a deadly dictator with unprovoked terrorist attacks on civilians, it has lost its mind, not to speak of its soul.

Really? Sullivan never apologized for that part. Here’s his March 2003 archive; lots of nasty stuff.

As I said below about Wolfowitz, the ones who got it wrong still occupy positions of influence. They may be scorned on this tenth anniversary, but mostly they’re in the background making money and calling always for more war, war, war. It’s what they do.

Ready.Fire.Aim. Yield? 190,000 dead; $2.2 trillion; ten years

And so it began ten years ago tomorrow.

This week Brown University (another bastion of liberal lies and anyway, it’s un-American since it was founded before the American Revolution) published a comprehensive study of the costs – in blood and treasure – of our adventurous invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq. (The full report is here. It’s broken down by subject – dollars, lives, politics etc.)

According to the report, the war has killed at least 190,000 people, including
men and women in uniform, contractors, and civilians and will cost the United
States $2.2 trillion.

Among the group’s main findings:

  • More than 70 percent of those who died of direct war violence in Iraq have been civilians — an estimated 134,000. This number does not account for indirect deaths due to increased vulnerability to disease or injury as a result of war-degraded conditions. That number is estimated to be several times higher.
  • The Iraq War will ultimately cost U.S. taxpayers at least $2.2 trillion. Because the Iraq war appropriations were funded by borrowing, cumulative interest through 2053 could amount to more than $3.9 trillion.
  • Th $2.2 trillion figure includes care for veterans who were injured in the war in Iraq, which will cost the United States almost $500 billion through 2053.
  • The total of U.S. service members killed in Iraq is 4,488. At least 3,400 U.S. contractors have died as well, a number often under-reported.
  • Terrorism in Iraq increased dramatically as a result of the invasion and tactics and fighters were exported to Syria and other neighboring countries.
  • Iraq’s health care infrastructure remains devastated from sanctions and war. More than half of Iraq’s medical doctors left the country during the 2000s, and tens of thousands of Iraqi patients are forced to seek health care outside the country.
  • The $60 billion spent on reconstruction for Iraq has not gone to rebuilding infrastructure such as roads, health care, and water treatment systems, but primarily to the military and police. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has found massive fraud, waste, and abuse of reconstruction funds.

Dont know if they touch on this, but neither electricity nor oil production has reached pre-war levels yet. And there is that business of Iraq now being a Shia ruled country aligned with Iran. But Cheney et al got their blood. So there’s that.

We’re coming up on a tenth anniversary so Kevin Drum remembers Paul Wolfowitz.

Like Drum (inventor of Friday Catblogging at Cal Pundit, founding blogger of Political Animal at Washington Monthly and now at Mother Jones – I’m a long time fan), I too remember Wolfowitz. I watched him testify to Congress advocating for the invasion of a sovereign nation. He told them war in  Iraq was unlikely to cost more than three billion, and, anyway, Iraq could easily repay that from oil revenues he said. Remember? A great moment in Congressional testimony. Drum sums it up:

Paul Wolfowitz’s “fanciful” testimony before Congress, of course, had come a week earlier, when he told Congress that Eric Shinseki’s postwar troop estimates were “wildly off the mark”; that there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq; that Iraqi civilians would welcome an American-led liberation force; that “even countries like France will have a strong interest in assisting Iraq in reconstruction”; and that published estimates of the costs of war and rebuilding were way too high. It was an epic tour de force of wrongness, quite possibly the wrongest war prediction since Allied generals figured that troops would be “home by Christmas” after the start of World War I.

The guys who made war: only Cheney and Bush are missing

The guys who made war: only Cheney and Bush are missing

I want to be sure you got this part: he said there was “no history of ethnic strike in Iraq”. I could say that all day and weep.  Did any of those Congress critters listening that day remember the 1991 Gulf War? Or the Shia slaughter in the South? Guess not – heads nodded, guns were loaded and boys went off to die and 18 months later Iraq was on fire in an ethnic Civil War.

But Wolfowiz is still in the fold, still considered to be a serious person. He was even appointed – by Bush – to lead the World Bank. A prophet once anointed is always a prophet I guess, no matter how reality later unfolds.

I can’t remember him without also remembering Ahmad Chalabi. He would be Iraq’s savior and leader said Wolfowitz. He has a great following inside Iraq said Wolfowitz. they’ll flock to his side nad support him said Wolfowitz. (At the time, Chalabi was wanted for banking fraud around the Middle East, but no matter), he was a savior and would be loved said Wolfowitz.

And so the great and imaginary hero of Iraqi flew back to his homeland, kissed the soil, and the Iraqis said “Ahmad who”? And it got so much better – from Evan Thomas at the time:

For the hard-liners at the Defense Department, the raid came as a surprise. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his senior deputies, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, got the news from the media. When Iraqi police, guarded by American GIs, burst into the home and offices of Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress, looking for evidence of kidnapping, embezzlement, torture and theft, the men who run the Pentagon were left asking some uncomfortable questions.

Until at least very recently, Chalabi had been the darling of these top Pentagon officials. How could it be that the men who run the most powerful military in the world could not know that their own troops were about to run a raid on a man once regarded as the hope of free Iraq?

Before the invasion, at the 2003 State of the Union, Chalabi sat smugly next to Laura Bush as her war-hungry husband named the ‘axis of evil’ and set the stage for the disaster to come. Great moment. Good times.

Cheney still keepin’ it classy

chickenhawk-cheney-billboardPure patriot is our Dick – these comments from a former Vice President will serve so well the interests of The United States out in the wider world. Thanks for having our back you creep.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Saturday night that President Barack Obama has jeopardized U.S. national security by nominating substandard candidates for key cabinet posts and by degrading the U.S. military.

Right. Because you didn’t tear the military to shreds with two wars over a decade –  unless soldier suicides don’t count. And it doesn’t count that the military is overwhelmed with caring for those with traumatic head injuries. Or that we became so desperate for new cannon fodder that the Army lowered standards to accept felons. Mr. “I had other priorities” went on:

 “The performance now of Barack Obama as he staffs up the national security team for the second term is dismal,” Cheney said in comments to about 300 members of the Wyoming Republican Party.

 Cheney, a Wyoming native, said it was vital to the nation’s national security that “good folks” hold the positions of secretary of state, CIA director and secretary of defense.

Like Rumsfeld, who Bush wanted to fire but was continually blocked by Cheney.

 “Frankly, what he has appointed are second-rate people,” he said.

Like I said, keeping it classy.

Game of drones

POSTED BY ORHAN

nanoBritish troops in Afghanistan are now using surveillance drones small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

The new Black Hornet Nano weighs approximately half an ounce and carries a camera for remote viewing. Used to find insurgents and view open areas before crossing, the Hornet offers “amazing capability to the guys on the ground,” according to Sgt. Christopher Petherbridge of Britain’s Brigade Reconnaissance Force.

The UK drones were developed as part of a $31 million contract for 160 units. Drones are becoming standard issue in the US, British, and other military forces of the world.

So the next time you feel the need to ease the pain of your glaucoma, or perhaps you and your partner get the urge to do something just a little odd in your bedroom, make sure the shades are shut tight–’cause it’s only a matter of time before our new little friends will be watching us, folks.

Mini Drones: Army Deploys Tiny Helicopters

Hi.

Much been happening around here? I just took a quick look at activity stats and it seems I’ve some catching up to do. Perhaps you’ve noticed the unbloggy bug is going around (election season withdrawal?); I got hit hard but am getting back up on my feet.

One thing I did observe over these recent days is that poor old Grampa McCain  is still railing at anyone and everyone to ‘get off my lawn!’.

But the Sunday gasbags must like that;  he remains the reigning champion for appearances at those (sooo tired) secular services –  I believe it’s 88 times on Meet the Press alone.

I think the old dear needs people to believe that Vietnam Iraq was a necessary and just war.

Fuel to fire, or, how to incite the opposition

I like Michael Moore. He has been the  authentic artistic voice of the abandoned industrial cities of the mid-West and has grown into a successful and talented film maker and provocateur. I like him. And we need provocateurs always, but as a film director might concede, timing is everything.

Moore did no favors today for Chuck Hagel nor for the likely contentious confirmation battle to come once Obama, as expected, nominates Hagel for Sec Def. Moore penned a column for The Huffington Post. Here’s a bit:

But what you probably haven’t seen — because everyone has forgotten — is that back in 2007, Chuck Hagel went totally crazy and told the truth about our invasion of Iraq. Here’s what he said:

“People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are. They talk about America’s national interest. What the hell do you think they’re talking about? We’re not there for figs.”

Hagel was and is a brave and pretty honest guy. He shares many of the qualities that make people like Chris Christie – candid, fearless. But Moore’s is a voice that inflames the right and when he stands up publicly for Chuck Hagel, I fear he makes the coming battle even  more difficult because we may now expect an even louder torrent of outrage from the usual suspects.

I’m reminded of a single line of movie dialogue from the 90’s. The film was The American President (one of my favorite films and in many ways a perfect movie). As the prez, Michael Douglas says “And we’re gonna get the guns. If we have to go door to door, we’ll get the guns.”

That probably didn’t help either.

Chuck Hagel? I can get down with that

While quite conservative, he was a good Senator, a thoughtful man. So if he ends up at Defense, that looks good to me. (I think he was also a fierce critic of W’s Iraq Adventure.) Will his former GOP colleagues confirm him?

Story is from Bloomberg. Notice the other headline too. So John Kerry gets State. I’m down with that as well.

hagel

 

Twelve attacks on US embassies – 2001 to 2008

Attacks on US embassies from 2001-2008 killed a total of 35 people. Of course they weren’t Americans so it doesn’t matter. Plus, Bush. From here.

Paris, France, September 13, 2001: Four men were arrested in Rotterdam on conspiracy to plant a suicide bomber in the U.S. embassy in Paris. The NATO headquarters in Brussels was also targeted. The plot was discovered in July 2001 when a conspirator named Djamel Beghal was arrested in Dubai for passport fraud. He confessed after an interrogation. All the conspirators were part of a small satellite of Al-Qaeda.

Karachi, Pakistan, June 14, 2002, February 28, 2003, March 15, 2004, and March 2, 2006: The string of bombings and attempted bombings outside the U.S. consult in Karachi were thought to be in retaliation for the War on Terror in Afghanistan, and later Iraq.

  • The first bomb in June 2002 was a suicide bomber, who killed 12 and injured 51 people.
  • In February 2003, a gunman killed two police officer and injured five others outside the consulate.
  • In March 2004, an attempted bombing was stopped when police discovered 200 gallons of liquid explosives in the back of a truck.
  • In March 2006, another suicide bomber killed six people outside a nearby Marriott Hotel.

Tashkent, Uzbekistan, July 30, 2004: The U.S. and Israeli embassies were targeted by suicide bombers. Two security guards were killed.

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, December 6, 2004: Militants breached the outer wall of the U.S. consulate and began shooting, but did not enter the consulate. Five civilians and the gunmen were killed. Ten people were wounded.

Damascus, Syria, September 12, 2006: Three gunmen were killed after they tossed grenades over the embassy’s outer wall and a car bomb exploded outside the embassy. A Syrian security guard and a Chinese diplomat also died.

Athens, Greece, January 12, 2007: A rocket-propelled grenade was fired into the front of the U.S. embassy around 6 am in the morning. No one was killed or hurt. A Greek terrorist group called “Revolutionary Struggle” claimed responsibility.

Istanbul, Turkey, July 9, 2008: Kurdish Turks open fired around 11 am, killing six people and injuring one. The three men had suspected Al-Qaeda links, but this was never proven.

San’a, Yemen, September 7, 2008: 19 people died and at least 16 were injured when a group of men disguised at police attacked the outer security rim of the U.S. embassy. Al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic Jihad of Yemen claimed responsibility.

 

 

Jim wrote a letter to Mitt. Wasn’t that nice?

In comments yesterday, Jim Wheeler wrote a little letter to Mr. Romney after seeing the quote below about Vietnam service.  Here it is.

Gosh, Mittens, I was there and I really, really missed you.  And you know what?  If you had been there it would have done wonders for your ability to empathize with the little people.

For example, there was the family separation of 474 days out of 540 during which my wife raised our three boys alone, closed on the purchase of a house and made all the major family decisions without me.  For example there were the incessant hours of boredom punctuated by moments of fear and immense loneliness.  For example there was the frustration of having politicians trying to run the goddam war by sitting around a coffee table drinking bourbon while we were racing up and down the South China Sea lobbing 8 inch shells into attacking Viet Cong.  For example there was the immense pleasure of receiving one’s wife’s accumulated 17 daily letters, each numbered consecutively because she knew they would arrive that way, and because there was no fucking email or satellite video then.

But never mind, Mittens.  You can take consolation with all those souls you won for the Lord in France.  After all, there are all kinds of sacrifice.

Yours in sympathy,

Jim

Just like Cheney who had ‘other priorities’

From The Last of the Milleniums where he has a juicy post about vets, Sen. Jim Webb and the 47%.

Another Hundred Years War? I’m sure the Three Amigos* would like that, but

Romney aside, Obama aside, serious things appear to be happening.

The usual noise machine is going all ‘we can’t let this stand’. I assume they want to shoot someone.

Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia . . . shall we wage war on all of them? (Hey, war with a billion people would be awesome!)

War with a billion people who mostly don’t want war with us.

War with a billion people because of the actions of  a hundred thousand? A few hundred thousand? The militants among the billion? The Islamists amongst a billion Muslims? Wage war on a billion people?

If the neo-con dreams come true, that’s what we’ll have. And Saudi Arabia couldn’t stop it; the Saudi royal family would probably be wiped out early on. They’ve been in Al Qaeda’s gun sights for some time.

You think it can’t happen? Check out the 11th and 12th Centuries.

* Messers McCain and Lieberman and Ms. Graham of the United States Senate.