Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Looking Into the Abyss? (Part II)

Bush (still!) has us boxed in with fear of the unknown.

If tunnel vision got us into Bush's un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI), I guarantee you it won't get us out.

This is an update of my Looking Into the Abyss (Part I).

With thanks to Carolyn Lochhead, of the San Francisco Chronicle 's Washington Bureau and her excellent excellent article,
Doubt Cast on Dire Exit Scenarios.
Ms. Lochhead has been the San Francisco Chronicle’s Washington corresondent since 1991.
Prior to the Chronicle, she wrote for Insight Magazine,
as well as newspapers in California and Louisiana. Lochhead holds a B.A. from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Lochhead begins by making an honest and clear-eyed assessment of where the Anglo-American coalition is now and going forward.

Things are bad now.
  • Refugee flows are large and growing -- nearly 4 million Iraqis have either been internally displaced or have fled abroad.
  • Ethnic cleansing is altering the makeup of Baghdad.
  • A civil war is underway.
  • Populations have become radicalized.
  • Al Qaeda terrorists have established a base in Anbar province.
  • Iran is intervening, aiding Shiite militias.
  • Syria is allowing militants over its border.
  • American standing is damaged.
Can things get worse?
  • Sectarian war in Iraq spreads across the Middle East?
  • Neighboring regimes are destabilized, and populations radicalized?
  • A humanitarian catastrophe of refugees and ethnic cleansing follows?
  • Iranian influence rises?
  • Regional war erupts?
  • Oil supplies are disrupted?
  • Al Qaeda claims victory, gains recruits and money and is emboldened to strike again?
  • American credibility is damaged?
Regional war is the scariest of the scenarios, with the assumption that it would be accompanied by an oil shock. That assumes all the neighboring countries would look into the abyss, and jump in. Yet it is not clear why they would do so.

Retired Gen. William Nash, U.S. commander in Bosnia from 1995 to 1997:
If we get run off, there's no reason to say it would be a positive thing, OK? But just think of the dire predictions that were made in 1975 when the helicopters were leaving the embassy grounds of Saigon and everybody thinking that the dominoes would begin to fall. Lo and behold, the dominoes not only didn't fall, but a number of the regional actors started taking some responsibilities for some things.
Rand Beers, a former national security official through the last four administrations, including the current Bush administration:
When you go through the analysis -- even though I am prepared to concede that there can be dark scenarios coming out of a withdrawal from Iraq -- it's not at all clear to me that they are any worse than staying.

How do you get the violence outside of the country? Iraqis are not going to invade another country. Scenarios are that Iran might march in to protect the Shias, that Turkey might march in because the Kurds are destabilizing Turkey. The Saudis might at least be prepared to arm the Sunnis. Those are all adding fuel to the fire in Iraq -- not expanding conflict outside of Iraq.
Bruce Riedel, a former Bush national security official now at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy:
When you sit down and scrub that carefully, it's not a certainty by any means. . . . Iran has very close ties to every single Shia and Kurdish politician, militia and political group in Iraq. They're already in there. They have a huge intelligence presence inside of Iraq. It's hard for me to see why, after we left, they would need to put in ground troops. They've already got their influence there, and their side of the civil war, the Shia, is likely to prevail in the long run.

The reality is that none of them have the military capability to do anything serious. Saudi Arabia doesn't have an army that can advance into Anbar province. It just doesn't have that military capability, nor does Jordan, nor does Kuwait. These are countries that can barely defend themselves, let alone project military power.
They can provide arms, money and volunteers, but Sunni insurgents already have ample supplies of those.
That leaves the Turks. Turkey is seen as the state most likely to enter Iraq if it breaks up and a new, independent Kurdistan emerges. Turkey has for decades been battling a Kurdish resistance in its eastern provinces that border Iraq.

Turkey also wants to join the European Union. Kurdish northern Iraq also is a notoriously difficult area to control.

Edward Walker, former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates:
If the United States is insistent, I think Turkey would stand back. I don't think the Turks are interested in breaking their links to the U.S. or to Europeans just to get themselves into the middle of a civil war.
Riedel again:
I think when Turkey looks hard at this problem, it's very unlikely that what the Turkish military is going to want to do is occupy a very difficult-to-control area and just expand the number of Kurds that are shooting at Turkish soldiers. I don't dismiss it. There is a risk of regional conflict. But I think that a skillful policy of containment and diplomatic action could minimize it after we go, and it does not become a rationale for young American men and women to give down their lives indefinitely.
John Mueller, chairman of national security studies at Ohio State University says in Iraq,
The most likely scenario, and it's still a fairly bad one, is that the other countries would contain Iraq and there would be a civil war that would gradually work its way out. The idea of it spreading throughout the Middle East and all over the world strikes me as a considerable stretch. Not that it's impossible. But the best analogy would be the long civil war in Lebanon. Other countries meddled in various ways, but they also kept it there, as much as possible.
Michael Mandelbaum, head of the foreign policy program at Johns Hopkins University's School for Advanced International Studies says a regional war would be terrible:
But as cynical, as cold-blooded as it may sound, we have to ask what interests of ours would be jeopardized. ... It seems to me it's worth taking a look at our options and not assuming that all options are worse than this one."

People might draw back from the brink or it may be that the civil war has to play itself out.

In any event, if the United States withdrew or drew back, at least our troops wouldn't be getting killed and surely the first obligation of the American government is to the people of the United States, and that includes the U.S. armed forces.
Kurt Campbell, a former national security official in the Clinton administration, now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies:
It's remarkable how little time people have spent examining the assumptions. . . . They're going to follow us home no matter what, so the idea that if we prevail in Iraq that suddenly our situation at home in the United States is going to improve dramatically, I think is a very questionable proposition. That does not mean that I don't and everyone else doesn't want to win in Iraq. But I think that the more logical consequences of failure are really not so much in potential terrorist threats at home. That's something we're going to live with for decades.
The burden of proof or persuasion is on those who would escalate and prolong our illegitimate and poorly conceived occupation: how do they convince us (or themselves) that we won't find the abyss by following Bush even deeper into his personal apocalypse?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

George Bush Believes His Legacy Is Still Incomplete

According to Seymour Hersh, the best worst is yet to come.

Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker (17-April-06)
Unfortunately, for us, Hersh has a good track record.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Looking Into the Abyss? (Part I)

It's staring at us, right in the face! We might as well face up to it.

Bush's un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI) has produced a free-for-all civil war in Iraq. It is time for us to leave Iraq, but the prospect of imagining even more harm coming to Iraq than Bush's UULUIUOI has already done, seemingly paralyzes us. Lil'Bill and Wizard have goaded me into pondering the hypotheticals of this apocalypse. But others have dared before us.

I have already posted (twice) in these pages the words of Caleb Carr, who is an American novelist and military historian.

Carr is the author of "The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians" (Random House). He teaches military studies at Bard College. Writing about Iraq last April in the Washington Post, Carr said, let them have their civil war. In abriged form, he says,
. . . the real issue of importance for Americans with regard to any impending Iraqi civil war is: Are we morally justified in trying to prevent it?

. . . . every time an American official tries to tell the Shiites and the Kurds (along with the many smaller minorities in Iraq) that they are not entitled to the same judgments and justice as we ourselves received and wrought from 1861 to 1865, they make civil war in that country more -- not less -- likely. Such statements reveal the blatantly paternalistic, even racist, opinion that what was necessary in the American experience is not something for which the Iraqis are ready or qualified.

. . . . If the Iraqis wish to try it on their own, better that we allow them to use a mixture of their own militias and conventional forces -- the kind of combination that fought our Civil War.
I have also published before the words of Edward Luttwak. Luttwak is a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Last June, he addressed this same issue in the Los Angeles Times. His point is that history shows civil wars must be fought without foreign interference before stability prevails:
England's civil war in the mid-17th century ensured the subsequent centuries of political stability under Parliament and a limited monarchy. But first there had to be a war with pitched battles and killing, including the decapitation of King Charles I, who had claimed absolute power by divine right.

The United States had its civil war two centuries later, which established the rule that states cannot leave the union — and abolished slavery in the process. The destruction was vast and the casualties immense as compared with all subsequent American wars, given the size of the population. But without the decisive victory of the Union, two separate and quarrelsome republics might still endure, periodically at war with each other.

Even Switzerland had a civil war — in 1847 — out of which came the limited but sturdy unity of its confederation. Close proximity, overlapping languages and centuries of common history were not enough to resolve differences between the cantons. They had to fight briefly, with 86 killed, to strike a balance of strength between them.

And so it must be with Iraq, the most haphazard of states, hurriedly created by the British after World War I with scant regard for its rival nationalities and sects.

Attempts by U.S. and British forces to stop the killings are feeble; it would take many times as many troops as remain in Iraq to make any difference. Nor can the fundamental factors that are causing the violence be reversed at this point, certainly not by fielding more Iraqi army and police units.

Sure, it would be nice to think that all the parties could just sit down and partition the country peaceably. But the Shiites can't even agree among themselves, so what hope is there of them talking to the Sunnis? There is no hatred as strong as theological hatred. So it is time for outsiders to step aside and let the Iraqis fight it out among themselves, ending with each controlling its own region.

. . . . Physical separation is therefore the only way to limit the carnage. That process has begun, to some extent, because the violence is driving out the members of one sect or the other from the many mixed villages, towns and city districts. This is a painful and very costly way of interrupting the cycle of attacks and reprisals, but that is how civil war achieves its purpose of eventually bringing peace.

Back in the 17th century, if the kings of continental Europe could have prevented England's civil war, it would have been at the price of perpetuating strife by blocking progress toward stable parliamentary government.

If the British and other European great powers had sent expeditionary armies to stop the enormous casualties and vast destruction of the American civil war, they could have prevented the eventual emergence of a peacefully united republic, perpetuating North-South hostility.

That is the mistake that the U.S. and its allies are now making by interfering with Iraq's civil war. They should disengage their troops from populated areas as much as possible, give up the intrusive checkpoints and patrols that are failing to contain the violence anyway and abandon the futile effort to build up military and police forces that are national only in name.

. . . .Iraq's civil war is no different from the British, Swiss or American internal wars. It too should be allowed to bring peace.
But what about the regional destabilization issues? I give you Andrew Sullivan writing two days ago in Times on Line, who says civil war in Iraq might suit the West's interests:
. . . . Withdrawal would indeed be likely to prompt a massive blood-letting in Iraq. It would give the Sunni-Shi’ite civil war far more oxygen and almost certainly provoke the Sunni powers, particularly Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to intervene financially or militarily in defence of Iraq’s outnumbered Sunni minority.

It would mean Iran emerging as a Shi’ite superpower in the region, with a strong presence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon further intensifying the sense of Sunni beleaguerment and anger. We could see violence along the ancient Sunni-Shi’ite fault line sucking in much of the region, with its many fragile regimes. The consequences could be soaring oil prices, and any number of unforeseen disasters. After all, ask yourself: how many pleasant surprises come out of the Middle East?

And yet the alternative — an indefinite entanglement with the pathologies of Iraq — prompts the question of whether there’s anything in this nightmare scenario that could be advantageous for the West. Is there a constructive argument for leaving? That’s the alternative scenario worth pondering.

Here’s how the counterintuitive argument would run. From 9/11 onwards the West’s war on terror has essentially followed the ideological narrative of Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden: this is a war between Islam and the West. President Bush’s dismal war strategy has only intensified that narrative, and that storyline is easily the most powerful recruitment device for Islamist terrorists in the West.

But if America withdrew from Iraq and a Sunni-Shi’ite war took off, the narrative of the long war would inevitably change. It would go from Islam versus the West to Islam versus itself. Escalating conflict in the Arab Muslim world would only be fully explicable in terms of the Sunni-Shi’ite split.

Instantly, Sunni Al-Qaeda would have a serious enemy close at hand: Shi’ite Iran. Think of this not as a “divide and conquer” strategy so much as a “divide and get out of the way” strategy. And with deft handling it could conceivably reap dividends in the long run.

Wars, after all, are not just about guns and military action. They are also about ideas and ideology. Long wars, especially, are won by those who gain control of the narrative . . . .

. . . . redefining the war on terror as essentially the product of ancient feuds within Islam immediately shifts the argument onto terrain favourable to the West. For the first time in five years, it takes the narrative out of Bin Laden’s hands.

It also has the added benefit of being true. Al-Qaeda’s primary foes have always been Arab regimes not in accordance with extreme fundamentalist Wahhabist theology. But that theology is also full of contempt for those regarded by Al-Qaeda and most Sunnis as heretics: the Shi’ites of Iran.

We are learning in Iraq not to underestimate the power of this mutual hatred. The loathing of Muslims for other Muslims in the Middle East today is as deep as the loathing of Christians for other Christians once was in Europe. For Sunni versus Shi’ite, think Protestant versus Catholic. For 2007, think 1557.

Freud’s term for the passionate hating of people very like oneself — but different in some minor degree — was the “narcissism of small differences”. The West has a chance to exploit that Muslim narcissism for our own purposes — and for the sake of moderate Muslims across the world.

Or look at this another way: what is the greatest weakness of our enemy? The answer is fanaticism. It was fanaticism that prompted Bin Laden to attack on 9/11 before he had access to WMDs. He struck too soon because he couldn’t help himself. His rage forces him to make mistakes. The same went for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who alienated all of Jordan by bombing a wedding and who even prompted Bin Laden to worry about killing too many Muslims in Iraq.

Al-Qaeda hates the West but its main beef is with fellow Muslims who are heretics and traitors. The fanatics have certainly killed far more Muslims than non-Muslims over the years.

So why not let them hang themselves by this rope? By leaving Iraq, America could create a dangerous civil war that nonetheless has huge propaganda potential for changing the entire game of this larger war. It takes the West much further out of the picture and focuses the mind where it truly belongs: on current Muslim pathologies, paranoia and self-hatred.

We can still prove our pro-reform bona fides by concentrating on Afghanistan, where we still have a chance to turn things around. And we also give Iran a big headache in grappling with the chaos on its border.

The other likely result of a Sunni-Shi’ite war is serious damage to the world’s oil supply. But isn’t that just what the West needs? Don’t we desperately need to wean ourselves off oil — and wouldn’t $100 a barrel be the best way to accelerate that?

I’m not saying that leaving a civil war in Iraq is not dangerous. But so is staying. And the upsides of leaving haven’t been fully thought through yet, so let’s think them through, shall we? My fear is that Bush has not thought this through. There is no plan B because his rigid, incurious mind doesn’t have the dexterity to entertain it. The fundamentalist psyche doesn’t like paradox or nuance. But in dealing with this complex and metastasising problem, paradox and nuance and ruthless self-interest are indispensable.

This surely is the real conservative insight: that ideology must never trump reality, that new scenarios need new thinking, that in every crisis there is an opportunity. Currently the axiom that withdrawal is unthinkable is impeding our ability to think of new directions and new strategies. But we desperately need to think outside our comfort zone. Flexibility is not an enemy in wartime. In fact in this war our very survival may even depend on it.
What are the implications of immediate Anglo-American redeployment?

Bush has accomplished his regime change. Not only has Saddam's crime family been erased, but all of the Sunni tribes that supported it have been dispersed. Our occupational forces saw to it that a 'constitution' was cobbled together and that an election selected a fragile majority of figureheads to represent a parliamentary 'government'. Not surprisingly, Shi'ias dominated.

But the point is, this government does not govern. It does not command a monopoly of armed force. More and more it appears that the reins of governance are really sprouting in the street. In Baghdad, Sunnis and Shi'ia communities are separating one from another, each one collecting into defensive enclaves, gated communities, and tribal groupings, defended by their own militias manning their own checkpoints.

There is no longer 'an Iraq'. There is already a Kurdistan in the north. Soon there will be an unified 'Shiiastan' in the south. What becomes of a 'Sunnistan' to the west is unclear.

But the real point is that the Iraqis will work it out. Our continued presence, while-well meaning as we understand it, is illegitimate in Iraqi eyes. Our continued presence therefore only prolongs their struggle and delays a resolution which is legitimately Iraqi.

It is understandable that Bush still wants to 'creep his mission' and salvage his legacy, but no one can afford it.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Jack Murtha in Baghdad and Kabul!

In a perfect world foreign policy should begin at the water's edge.

The president should represent the voice of the American people, united in their trust in him. But, an exception has to be made when the worst president in history insists on remaining 'The Decider' for the last two years of his last term. Based upon his past decisions in the Middle East, he has lost the trust and confidence of the American people. In his case, the national interest requires another voice. Now, finally, we have one.

If the worst president in history can't be impeached, he can be ignored. The nation cannot wait for a new decider.

Friendly Fire

Poodles Make for Very Faithful Lap Dogs

In the aftermath of the Pentagon's cover-up of the friendly fire death of Lance Corporal Matty Hull, Prime Minister Tony Blair did his level best to express contrition.

He Said,
I am the person who above all can give evidence as to the difficulty and sometimes the political penalty you pay for a close relationship with the US, but we shouldn't give that up in any set of circumstances.

The relationship with America is what opens lots of doors everywhere, including the Middle East. For better or worse, this country for the last 10 years has been right at the heart of every single major international agenda - whether it is terrorism, climate change, Africa, whatever it is.
Originally published 8-February-07

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Let the Feet in the Street Speak!

Last November's Vote Against Iraquagmire Requires Amplification.

100,000 (more or less) marched in Washington. Protest organizers said the crowd included people who came on 300 buses from 40 states. The protest was largely organized by the group United for Peace and Justice, a coalition of 1,400 local and national organizations. Michael McPhearson, executive director of Veterans for Peace, said more than 100 veterans from the Iraq war participated in the march, and several hundred veterans from previous wars attended as well. Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio and a candidate for the presidency in 2008 and Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, were among the speakers. The House Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. John Conyers, threatened to use congressional spending power to try to stop the war:
George Bush has a habit of firing military leaders who tell him the Iraq war is failing. He can't fire you. He can't fire us.
Robert Watada, 67, of Honolulu, a retired executive with the State of Hawaii who said his son, First Lt. Ehren K. Watada, was to be court-martialed next month for refusing to deploy to Iraq, said:
So many thousands of our own have died and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and for what? And still we are having to push Congress to block the president.
Other speakers were Reverend Jesse Jackson, actors Sean Penn, Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins.

In California, smaller rallies were held in San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles, featuring Cindy Sheehan and Ron Kovics.

The day's activities were largely organized by the group United for Peace and Justice, a coalition of 1,400 local and national organizations. Included in the coalition are the National Organization for Women, United Church of Christ, the American Friends Service Committee, True Majority, Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, CodePink,, and September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Finally, The J. William Fulbright of the Iraq-Nam Era Has Stood Up...

Just like I told ya' he would.

I told you on April 19, 2006 and June 22, 2006, that he would be surfing on the crest when the Bi-Partisan Sea-Change on George W. Bush arrived. Here he is yesterday. This latter-day Fulbright cometh not as a professorial senator, but as Senator Ex-Marine.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The #2 Scapegoat!

What can an ambitious and duplicitous Senator McCain do when he doesn't have a Don Rumsfeld to kick around any more?

Among the dwindling ranks of the original war conspirators, the only thing he can think of is to work his way up the chain of command. Yesterday, McCain jumped the back of Dick Cheney. He said, the American people
. . . have grown frustrated because of our lack of success. They basically throw up their hands and say, "Enough"! And a lot of that is understandable because this war has been terribly mishandled. Rumsfeld will go down in history, along with (Robert) McNamara, as one of the worst Secretaries of Defense in history.

. . . . And the tragedy of all this, again, was that it was so badly mishandled. Which has been well-chronicled. I wish every American would read Cobra II and Fiasco.

. . . . The president listened too much to the vice president. And the secretary of defense. And I think the secretary of defense basically cowed the military so that there was little, if any, dissent when many of these military people who I saw both in Iraq and back here privately told me that things were going badly.
Of course, the president bears the ultimate responsibility, but he was very badly served by both the vice president and, most of all, the secretary of defense.
McCain is unintentionally performing a public service. But, Americans, as a people, have to direct their full attention on this battered and shattered House of Cards. They have to continue drawing cards from this deck until they turn over the Knave-in-Chief.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

State of the Union

How about weak and bleak? How about debased, discredited, and degraded?

Judging by the last two years, the next two years are going to be hellish.

In his 2nd Inaugural Address in January 2005, Bush never uttered the word Iraq once. Can you believe it? Tonight it will be different.

The Constitution, of course, doesn't require him to personally him to deliver a SOTU every year, only

. . . from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.
He doesn't even have to appear before Congress, but could even get by mailing or phoning his SOTU in. But he will appear before our Congress, Nation and world and tell us of his pride in his performance. Plan on feeling embarrassed.

We have a president who is proud of his Bush Doctrine of preventive war: a doctrine which the world thought was thoroughly discredited, dead and buried among the ashes of the 20th century. Bush has opened the 20th century with it. It is alien to the American experience and self-image. No matter. Thanks to this moron and my inattentive fellow Americans who elected him, we Americans have been branded and stigmatized as 'aggressor', 'imperialist' and 'international bully'.

In doubt? Look at BBC's Poll released today. While the world prefers American leadership to the leadership of any other single country, (China, Russia, Japan, Germany, or England), the majority of those polled (26,000 people in 25 countries) felt America misleads itself and misleads the world.
  • On Iraq
  • On Torture
  • On Guantanamo detainees
  • On the Israel-Hezbollah war
  • On Iran's nuclear program
  • On North Korea's nuclear program.
  • On global warming.
But Bush's words will be consoling and protective. He has sheltered the current generation of Americans from bearing the costs of this ruinous crusade, deferring the bill for future generations who did not vote for him. Except for our American military personnel and their families, Bush's current electorate has not sacrificed. Oh and, as he shared in last week's News Hour:
I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night. I mean, we've got a fantastic economy here in the United States, but yet, when you think about the psychology of the country, it is somewhat down because of this war.
With a President who unabashedly believes in the doctrine of preventive war, who stands behind an Attorney General who believes in torture and doesn't believe in habeas corpus, our union is in a state of deferred maintenance in extremis. But not so much (yet) that it couldn't be repaired by a compassionate resignation speech tonight.

That's what I am counting on for my peace of mind.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Where Is Support for Bush's Iraquagmire Trending Up?

Not among the troops.

1,000 1,150 1,214 active-duty soldiers and Marines are urging lawmakers to support a quick withdrawal and anti-war soldier advocate groups planned to rally state legislatures. Active-duty members of our military who oppose the war have sent an "appeal for redress" to Congress.

Although they're duty-bound to carry out the president's orders, they have a legal right to use this means to express their views.The wording of the Appeal for Redress is short and simple. It is patriotic and respectful in tone.
As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.
There are three sponsoring service-connected organizations sponsoring this movement among our military:

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW):
IVAW was founded by Iraq war veterans in July 2004 to give a voice to the large number of active duty service people and veterans who are against this war, but are under various pressures to remain silent. IVAW calls for:
  • Immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces in Iraq;
  • Reparations for the pillaging and destruction of Iraq so that ordinary Iraqi people can control their own lives and future; and
  • Full benefits, adequate health care (including mental health), and other supports for returning servicemen and women.
Military Families Speak Out(MFSO):
MFSO was formed in November of 2002, Before Bush started his un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI)! MFSO is composed of people opposed to the war in Iraq who have relatives or loved ones in the military. Currently it claims 3,000 military families.
Veterans For Peace (VFP):
VFP is a national organization founded in 1985 composed of veterans from World War II , Korea , Vietnam , the Gulf War, other conflicts and peacetime veterans. Their name and breath of generations speaks for itself: their collective experience teaches that wars are easy to start and hard to stop.
All Americans who oppose prolonging this biggest mistake in their country's history should serve as amplifiers for the voices of these brave and patriotic soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, especially as they contact their Congressional representatives and senators. As Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said in a statement:
Somewhere those of us who represent the American people, and the American people themselves, must follow the lead of these men and women in uniform today and find a way to speak up and speak out about this unnecessary war.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

"Are you guys ready? Let's roll!"

Remember where you last heard those words?
Well, that time has come again.

If you're so inclined, I urge you to sign this petition addressed to your Senators and Congressmen urging No Escalation in Iraq. You will be enabled to add your invidual comments.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Central Issue of Our Time?

What did you expect life in the 21st century would be like?

The right to un-provoked, unnecessary, unilateral invasions and unplanned occupations (UULUIUO's) invoked by Bush in Iraq is taking root. As the Leader of the 'Free World', the force of America's precedence and example has always promised to be irresistible and potentially overwhelming.

In December, the world watched Meles Zenawi's Ethiopia invade Somalia on a preventive war pretext, construing the decentralized and tribal Union of Islamic Courts as terrorists and claiming endorsement on international organizations as endorsing their action as well as expecting them to assume the task of occupation and rebuilding.

Now, in January we have NATO ally, Turkey, entertaining the same UULUIUO-type of activity. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Friday reaffirmed Turkey's right to send troops into Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels there and chided U.S. officials for questioning it. Erdogan told a news conference after a meeting of his ruling AK Party,
We don't want to waste time with abstract statements, we want concrete results . . .

The Turkish Republic will do whatever is necessary to combat the terrorists when the time comes, but it will not announce its plans in advance. . . . We have a 350 km border with Iraq. We have historic relations ... the United States is 10,000 km away from Iraq, and yet is it not intervening in Iraq's internal affairs?
Thus, as the 21st century is just getting on its feet, George Bush thinks he has established what its "Central Issue" will be and what measures will be selected to deal with it.

The central task of this century, according to Bush's vision, are to seek out and identify 'extremists' and bomb and/or invade them.

Hold on to your hats, my fellow citizens of the 21st Century. And prepare for the draft: we'll need one for our future UULUIUO's: The world is full of more I-Rocks out there, waiting to be cracked open.

Friday, January 12, 2007

What Do You Call a Fake Bench-Mark?

If not just the most recent lie in a long history of lies and false promises?

John Burns and Sabrina Tavernise in the New York Times report that a Shiite political leader who has worked closely with the Americans in the past said the Bush benchmarks appeared to have been drawn up in the expectation that Maliki would not meet them.

sking that he not be named because he did not want to be seen as publicly criticizing the prime minister, the politician said,
He cannot deliver the disarming of the militias. He cannot deliver a good program for the economy and reconstruction. He cannot deliver on services. This is a matter of fact. There is a common understanding on the American side and the Iraqi side.
This is just another line-of-scrimmage play designed to maintain possession of the football until time runs out in 2009? See below.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Last Night, I Experienced a Walter Cronkite Moment

Walter Cronkite, the television news anchor once known as "the most trusted man in America", has been off the "CBS Evening News" for nearly a quarter-century. In 1968, Cronkite visited Vietnam during the infamous Tet offensive. After his return, he was urged by his CBS boss to briefly set aside his objectivity to give his view of the situation. Cronkite did so at the conclusion of a special broadcast and said the war was unwinnable and that the U.S. should exit.

Here are excerpts from his remarks, as I imagine Walter Cronkite would deliver them today on a return from Iraq, were he in his prime:
Tonight, back in more familiar surroundings in New York, we'd like to sum up our findings in Vietnam Iraq, an analysis that must be speculative, personal, subjective. Who won and who lost in the great . . . offensive against the cities? I'm not sure. The Vietcong insurgents did not win by a knockout, but neither did we. The referees of history may make it a draw. Another standoff may be coming in the big battles expected south around of the Demilitarized Green Zone. Khesanh could well fall we could well fail, with a terrible loss in American lives, prestige and morale, and this is a tragedy of our stubbornness there; but the bastion no longer is a key to the rest of the northern regions, and it is doubtful that the American forces can be defeated across the breadth of the DMZ Iraq with any substantial loss of ground. Another standoff. On the political front, past performance gives no confidence that the Vietnamese Iraqi government can cope with its problems, now compounded by the attack on the cities. It may not fall, it may hold on, but it probably won't show the dynamic qualities demanded of this young nation. Another standoff.

We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam Iraq and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds. . . . For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam Iraq is to end in a stalemate. This summer's almost certain standoff will either end in real give-and-take negotiations or terrible escalation; and for every means we have to escalate, the enemy can match us, and that applies to . . . the mere commitment of one hundred, or two hundred, or three hundred thousand more American troops to the battle. And with each escalation, the world comes closer to the brink of cosmic disaster.

To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy's intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.

This is Walter Cronkite. Good night.
"Report from Vietnam," Walter Cronkite Broadcast, February 27, 1968.
After this broadcast, President Lyndon Johnson reportedly told a White House aide that,
"If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."
I've heard it often said that we need a contemporary man or woman of stature of comparable stature to Cronkite of 1968. I'm not so sure of that now; I think last night this President has, himself, lost middle America.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

R.I.P. Robin Cook

Personal and political loyalty should not trump personal integrity and patriotism.

It is said that open societies, republics and parliamentary democracies place public trust in government of laws and not of men. But such systems require men and women of sufficient wisdom, conscience, integrity and courage to make the system work. Because the Republican Party and the Labour party have lacked personnel of this depth and stature, the Anglo-American partnership today finds itself waste-deep in blood and red ink in Iraq. Both societies have slipped under this red tide of militarism despite the heart-breaking and heart-stopping efforts of a Robin Cook.

The grave stone of former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook stands at Grange Cemetery in Edinburgh, Scotland, Tuesday Jan. 9, 2006. Cook was a fierce opponent of the Iraq war and an outspoken critic of the UK Government's decision to topple Saddam Hussein's Iraq regime, quitting his post as Leader of the House of Commons in 2003 in protest. Now, on this January 9th, set in stone as a lasting epitaph, the headstone bears the legend
I may not have succeeded in halting the war, but I did secure the right of Parliament to decide on war.
The night after Robin Cook resigned his post as Leader of the Commons, the House voted 396 to 217 to defeat an amendment by his colleagues that declared the case for war "has not yet been established."

Tony Blair then prevailed in the Commons vote on the war by a vote of 412 to 149 to use "all means necessary" to disarm Iraq.

From my historical perspective, here is my version of Robin Cook's farewell speech. If readers don't trust my rendition, they may read or hear (even better!) the original:
This is the first time for 20 years that I have addressed the House from the back benches. I must confess that I had forgotten how much better the view is from here.

None of those 20 years were more enjoyable or more rewarding than the past two, in which I have had the immense privilege of serving this House as Leader of the House, which were made all the more enjoyable, Mr Speaker, by the opportunity of working closely with you.

It was frequently the necessity for me as Leader of the House to talk my way out of accusations that a statement had been preceded by a press interview. On this occasion I can say with complete confidence that no press interview has been given before this statement.

I have chosen to address the House first on why I cannot support a war without international agreement or domestic support.

The present Prime Minister is the most successful leader of the Labour party in my lifetime. I hope that he will continue to be the leader of our party, and I hope that he will continue to be successful. I have no sympathy with, and I will give no comfort to, those who want to use this crisis to displace him.

I applaud the heroic efforts that the prime minister has made in trying to secure a second resolution.

I do not think that anybody could have done better than the foreign secretary in working to get support for a second resolution within the Security Council.

But the very intensity of those attempts underlines how important it was to succeed.

Now that those attempts have failed, we cannot pretend that getting a second resolution was of no importance.

France has been at the receiving end of bucket loads of commentary in recent days.

It is not France alone that wants more time for inspections. Germany wants more time for inspections; Russia wants more time for inspections; indeed, at no time have we signed up even the minimum necessary to carry a second resolution.

We delude ourselves if we think that the degree of international hostility is all the result of President Chirac.

The reality is that Britain is being asked to embark on a war without agreement in any of the international bodies of which we are a leading partner - not NATO, not the European Union and, now, not the Security Council.

To end up in such diplomatic weakness is a serious reverse.

Only a year ago, we and the United States were part of a coalition against terrorism that was wider and more diverse than I would ever have imagined possible.

History will be astonished at the diplomatic miscalculations that led so quickly to the disintegration of that powerful coalition.

The US can afford to go it alone, but Britain is not a superpower.

Our interests are best protected not by unilateral action but by multilateral agreement and a world order governed by rules.

Yet tonight the international partnerships most important to us are weakened: the European Union is divided; the Security Council is in stalemate.

Those are heavy casualties of a war in which a shot has yet to be fired.

I have heard some parallels between military action in these circumstances and the military action that we took in Kosovo. There was no doubt about the multilateral support that we had for the action that we took in Kosovo.

It was supported by NATO; it was supported by the European Union; it was supported by every single one of the seven neighbours in the region. France and Germany were our active allies.

It is precisely because we have none of that support in this case that it was all the more important to get agreement in the Security Council as the last hope of demonstrating international agreement.

The legal basis for our action in Kosovo was the need to respond to an urgent and compelling humanitarian crisis.

Our difficulty in getting support this time is that neither the international community nor the British public is persuaded that there is an urgent and compelling reason for this military action in Iraq.

The threshold for war should always be high.

None of us can predict the death toll of civilians from the forthcoming bombardment of Iraq, but the US warning of a bombing campaign that will "shock and awe" makes it likely that casualties will be numbered at least in the thousands.

I am confident that British servicemen and women will acquit themselves with professionalism and with courage. I hope that they all come back.

I hope that Saddam, even now, will quit Baghdad and avert war, but it is false to argue that only those who support war support our troops.

It is entirely legitimate to support our troops while seeking an alternative to the conflict that will put those troops at risk.

Nor is it fair to accuse those of us who want longer for inspections of not having an alternative strategy.

For four years as foreign secretary I was partly responsible for the western strategy of containment. Over the past decade that strategy destroyed more weapons than in the Gulf war, dismantled Iraq's nuclear weapons programme and halted Saddam's medium and long-range missiles programmes.

Iraq's military strength is now less than half its size than at the time of the last Gulf war.

Ironically, it is only because Iraq's military forces are so weak that we can even contemplate its invasion. Some advocates of conflict claim that Saddam's forces are so weak, so demoralised and so badly equipped that the war will be over in a few days.

We cannot base our military strategy on the assumption that Saddam is weak and at the same time justify pre-emptive action on the claim that he is a threat.

Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of the term - namely a credible device capable of being delivered against a strategic city target.

It probably still has biological toxins and battlefield chemical munitions, but it has had them since the 1980s when US companies sold Saddam anthrax agents and the then British Government approved chemical and munitions factories.

Why is it now so urgent that we should take military action to disarm a military capacity that has been there for 20 years, and which we helped to create?

Why is it necessary to resort to war this week, while Saddam's ambition to complete his weapons programme is blocked by the presence of UN inspectors?

Only a couple of weeks ago, Hans Blix told the Security Council that the key remaining disarmament tasks could be completed within months.

I have heard it said that Iraq has had not months but 12 years in which to complete disarmament, and that our patience is exhausted. Yet it is more than 30 years since resolution 242 called on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. We do not express the same impatience with the persistent refusal of Israel to comply.

I welcome the strong personal commitment that the prime minister has given to middle east peace, but Britain's positive role in the middle east does not redress the strong sense of injustice throughout the Muslim world at what it sees as one rule for the allies of the US and another rule for the rest.

Nor is our credibility helped by the appearance that our partners in Washington are less interested in disarmament than they are in regime change in Iraq.

That explains why any evidence that inspections may be showing progress is greeted in Washington not with satisfaction but with consternation: it reduces the case for war.

What has come to trouble me most over past weeks is the suspicion that if the hanging chads in Florida had gone the other way and Al Gore had been elected, we would not now be about to commit British troops.

The longer that I have served in this place, the greater the respect I have for the good sense and collective wisdom of the British people.

On Iraq, I believe that the prevailing mood of the British people is sound. They do not doubt that Saddam is a brutal dictator, but they are not persuaded that he is a clear and present danger to Britain.

They want inspections to be given a chance, and they suspect that they are being pushed too quickly into conflict by a US Administration with an agenda of its own.

Above all, they are uneasy at Britain going out on a limb on a military adventure without a broader international coalition and against the hostility of many of our traditional allies.

From the start of the present crisis, I have insisted, as Leader of the House, on the right of this place to vote on whether Britain should go to war.

It has been a favourite theme of commentators that this House no longer occupies a central role in British politics.

Nothing could better demonstrate that they are wrong than for this House to stop the commitment of troops in a war that has neither international agreement nor domestic support.

I intend to join those tomorrow night who will vote against military action now. It is for that reason, and for that reason alone, and with a heavy heart, that I resign from the government.
At 59, Cook died in 2005 after collapsing while hill-walking in north-west Scotland with his wife, Gaynor.

Britain followed Bush into a un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI) because there were not enough Robin Cooks on their side of the pond. And on my side, my only hope for a cook to spoil Bush's brew was Colin Powell. And he lied to the United Nations and in front of the World.

Now, the question for my fellow Americans is can we muster in Congress - in either party - any who can match the statesmanship and patriotism of a Robin Cook? Now, in this late hour of our need?